Thursday, July 18, 2024

Abinader U-Turn On Abortion Exceptions Provokes Protests In Dominican Republic.

Women’s rights activists in the Dominican Republic protested in the streets of Santo Domingo yesterday against a bill for a new criminal code that would keep in place the Caribbean island country’s total abortion ban, with absolutely no exeptions for rape, incest, or medical reasons.

The Dominican Senate gave initial approval to the bill in late June and lawmakers are expected to give it final approval in the next few days.

“We continue to fight,” said feminist activist Sergia Galván, who along with fellow protesters have asked for legal abortion when the woman’s life is at risk, when a pregnancy is the product of rape or incest, and in cases of fetal malformation incompatible with life.

The Dominican Republic is one of four Latin American nations that criminalizes abortion without exceptions. Women face up to 2 years in prison for having an abortion, while the penalties for doctors or midwives range from 5 to 20 years.

Besides maintaining the total abortion ban, the new criminal code would also reduce penalties for sexual violence within marriage and exclude sexual orientation from the list of characteristics protected from discrimination, affecting the LGBTQ+ community.

Abortion rights activists say the country’s total abortion ban not only restricts women’s reproductive choices but also puts their lives in danger.

“We want a (criminal) Code that respects women and girls, that allows them to decide,” said Nicole Pichardo, leader of a minority political party, who was at Wednesday’s protest.

“The penal code that the Senate approved does not represent us,” said Rosalba Díaz, from the Dominican Inclusive Lesbian Community. “And what does this mean? That now, people who have a different sexual orientation, or gender identity, will be at risk of facing constant discrimination.”

President Luis Abinader, who won a second term last May, suggested to abortion activists that he would be willing to support decriminalization, but after winning both elections he pulled back.

“Women’s organizations met with him and he told us he agreed with the three exceptions,” Galván said. “But it was a deception to the citizens, to the women and the people.”

Dominicans have also raised concerns about changes not related to abortion in the new criminal code.

One of its articles, for instance, would exempt churches from criminal liability, which according to activists like Galván could leave unpunished sexual abuse, money laundering or cover ups by religious leaders.

On the Caribbean island, religion is key. The Dominican Republic is the only country in the world that bears a Bible on its flag. And the state motto is “God, Country and Freedom.”

Source: VOA.

BVI Children Working On Picking Up Litter, Painting, And Cleaning Up Public Places.

The Department of Waste Management is currently carrying out a 5-day beautification project across the Territory that has employed 225 youngsters between the ages of 11 and 17.

It is not clear whether the employed children are being paid to participate.

The programme started on Monday, July 15 and will conclude on Friday, July 19.

The project is currently in progress and the community will see beautification improvements being carried out as every district will benefit from being a part of this project.

Minister for Health and Social Development Vincent Wheatley said, “I am happy to see this initiative continue as it affords our young people another opportunity to interact with the environment and enhance their social responsibility to take care of it.  We are trying to create a more environmentally considerate and responsive community and the youth is a vital part of the process.”

As part of the programme the youngsters will be educated about environmental management, and be exposed to the work required to maintain clean and beautiful surroundings.

BVI GIS. This photo appears to show two youths painting a wall with a roller, as seen from inside a car at some distance.

Director of Waste Management, Mr. Marcus Solomon said that every district is focusing on one project.  That may be cleaning beaches and roadways, or painting walls or buildings.

Team leaders have identified what project their group will tackle in each respective district.  “So far we have been seeing progress photos and I can say that the children are doing a wonderful job.  We hope to continue this programme and continue to inspire the youth to be more environmentally conscious,” Mr. Solomon stated.

The Department of Waste Management is committed to ensuring that the natural beauty of the Territory is enhanced by utilising state of the art waste management technology to ensure timely collection, disposal and where possible the recycling of waste.

Source: BVI Press Information Office.

Israel Reports Killing Two More Hamas Leaders.

Israel’s military said today that its forces killed two senior Islamic Jihad commanders  including one of the commanders who led the October 7 attack on southern Israel, by bombing a location in Gaza City.

It is not known how many others, if any,  died in the bombing.

The Israel Defense Forces said one of the commanders participated in the October 7 attack on southern Israel.

Israeli forces also conducted airstrikes in central Gaza, while ground forces with tanks advanced deeper into the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that fighting in southern Gaza has pushed all health facilities in southern Gaza, including a 60-bed Red Cross hospital, to a breaking point in terms of their ability to care for patients with life-threatening injuries.

“Another mass casualty event would force our doctors and nurses to make extremely difficult choices,” William Schomburg, Gaza head of the ICRC delegation, said in a statement. “The current medical needs of civilians dramatically outstrip the limited availability of supplies and healthcare response, as hospitals have repeatedly been compelled to close.”

Hamas militants killed about 1,200 people and captured about 250 hostages in their October 7 terror attack on Israel that sparked the war. Israel says it believes Hamas is still holding 116 hostages, including 42 that the military says are dead.

Israel’s land and air assault on Gaza has killed more than 38,700 people, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

Nearly three-quarters of Gaza’s 2.3 million population is displaced, and nearly the entire population is at risk of famine, according to the United Nations.

Only 5 days ago President Joe Biden announced that Israeli and Hamas negotiators have both agreed to a framework for Hamas to release hostages and for both sides to impose a cease-fire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Meanwhile it appears that Hamas still wants to fight on until the last man alive can fight no more.

 

Sources: VOA. Newarab.com

Haiti’s Conille Tells Gangs To Surrender Weapons And Stop Now, Or Face Consequences.

Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille has ordered the armed gangs who are occupying most of the capital city of Port au Prince to surrender their weapons.

In a speech on TV yesterday evening Conille acknowledged how dangerous life in Haiti has become and said that the violence must end right now.

It is no coincidence that Conille spoke a day after a second group of 200 Kenyan police officers arrived in Haiti. Clearly the incoming police force has now reached a critical mass sufficient to confront the gangs.

“Life every day in Port-au-Prince has turned into a battle for survival,” he said. “Many innocent people have lost their lives.”

Gangs control 80% of Port-au-Prince, and they have been blamed for killing or injuring more than 1,500 people in the first three months of the year alone.

In a speech on TV yesterday evening Conille acknowledged how dangerous life in Haiti has become and said that the violence must end right now.

It is no coincidence that Conille spoke a day after a second group of 200 Kenyan police officers arrived in Haiti. Clearly the incoming police force has now reached a critical mass sufficient to confront the gangs.

Yesterday a line of armored vehicles was seen rolling down the main boulevard in downtown Port-au-Prince, one of the capital’s more dangerous areas, as a crowd of Haitians bystanders quietly observed.

The vehicles carried Kenyan and Haitian police as they fanned out across the downtown area. Several shots rang out, but it wasn’t clear who fired and if anyone was injured or killed.

“Drop your weapons and recognize the authority of the state,” Conille said in a message to gangs.

In late February, gangs launched coordinated attacks targeting key state infrastructure. They seized control of more than two dozen police stations; opened fire on the main international airport, forcing it to close for nearly three months; and stormed Haiti’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.

The violence led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Ariel Henry in late April and the installation of a transitional presidential council and Conille as the new prime minister.

Diego Da Rin, with the International Crisis Group, noted that gang violence began diminishing in late May, with the first contingent of Kenyans arriving in late June.

He noted that so far, Kenyans appeared to have limited their patrols to neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince that have not been seized by gangs.

“There really hasn’t been any offensive operations,” he said.

In upcoming months, the Kenyans will be joined by police and soldiers from the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Chad and Jamaica for a total of 2,500 personnel.

Conille said restoring security is a top priority for him but warned it would take time. He said the objective is to recapture all gang-controlled territory “house by house, neighborhood by neighborhood, community by community.”

“We need to free Haiti from all sorts of gangs that are killing and raping the population,” Conille said.

Gang violence also has left more than half a million people homeless in recent years as rival gangs fight for control of more territory. More than half of those displaced are women and girls, with many living in crowded and unsanitary makeshift camps and shelters.

On Wednesday, the U.N. noted that rape is being used in most camps as a deliberate tactic to control women’s access to scarce humanitarian aid.

Sima Bahous, executive director of U.N. women, urged Haiti’s newly appointed government to prevent and respond to such violence.

“The level of insecurity and brutality, including sexual violence, that women are facing at the hands of gangs in Haiti is unprecedented,” she said in a statement. “It must stop now.”

Sources: VOA, AP, TRT World, BBC.

Joe Biden Has Covid-19–Again! Placed In Isolation.

President Joe Biden told reporters that he was “doing well,” just hours after testing positive for COVID-19. The White House made the announcement yesterday, soon after he abruptly canceled a Las Vegas speech where he planned to appeal to Latino voters to vote for him.

The 81-year-old president tested positive after his first event in Las Vegas on Wednesday and is experiencing “mild symptoms,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in the statement. She added that he is vaccinated and boosted against the virus and will return to his home in Rehoboth, Delaware, where he will self-isolate.

“The White House will provide regular updates on the President’s status as he continues to carry out the full duties of the office while in isolation,” she said.

The news was first announced by the president of UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Latino nonprofit advocacy organization.

“Regrettably I was just on the phone with President Biden,” UnidosUS President Janet Murguía told the crowd gathered in a Las Vegas ballroom to hear the president. “And he shared his deep disappointment at not being able to join us this afternoon. The president has been at many events as we all know, and he just tested positive for COVID. So, of course, we understand that he needs to take the precautions that have been recommended, and he did not obviously want to put anybody at risk.”

A message from Biden’s doctor followed Jean-Pierre’s statement, adding that Biden’s respiratory rate, temperature and blood oxygen levels are all normal, and that he has received a dose of treatment. The doctor, whose name was not given in the statement, said Biden had shown symptoms including a runny nose, a cough and general malaise.

“His symptoms remain mild, his respiratory rate is normal at 16, his temperature is normal at 97.8 and his pulse oximetry is normal at 97%,” the note said. “The president has received his first dose of Paxlovid. He will be self-isolating at his home in Rehoboth.”

The diagnosis came the same day as the latest call from a member of Biden’s Democratic Party for the president to drop his reelection bid.

Congressman Adam Schiff warned in a statement that a win by Biden’s opponent, former President Donald Trump, “will undermine the very foundation of our democracy,” and that Schiff has “serious concerns” about whether Biden can win in November.

“While the choice to withdraw from the campaign is President Biden’s alone, I believe it is time for him to pass the torch,” Schiff said. “And in doing so, secure his legacy of leadership by allowing us to defeat Donald Trump in the upcoming election.”

Source: VOA

St. Lucia Tourism Authority Honours Top Global Travel Advisors

St. Lucia – The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) has honoured the best-selling Saint Lucia travel advisors in the world, by hosting the 2024 Global Piton Awards for the top-producing Saint Lucia Expert Travel Advisors from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Caribbean.

VIP arrival services and custom experiences were part of the special events, including site inspections of Sandals Halcyon, Secrets St. Lucia Resort & Spa, and the Courtyard by Marriott currently under construction, as well as a visit to the Saint Lucia Mural. Additionally, attendees enjoyed various activities at Howelton Estate, such as Painting with Saky, chocolate making, handbag crafting and painting, Batik, cold press coconut oil making, and a local lunch. The awards ceremony concluded at Sandals Grande St. Lucian, where the top 35 winners were recognized for their contributions to Saint Lucia’s tourism industry.

The 2024 Global Piton Awards celebrated travel advisors who booked the most room nights from January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2023, through the Saint Lucia Expert (SLEx) Program, created in partnership with Recommend Magazine. The winners include 15 from the United States, 5 from Canada, 10 from the United Kingdom and Ireland, and 5 from the Caribbean, each receiving a locally handcrafted trophy bearing the insignia of Saint Lucia.

“Our Travel Advisors place special confidence in Saint Lucia. A major part of our success and global prominence is attributed to their continued selling of our island’s offerings. They undoubtedly remain the pulse of our industry, and we are delighted to express our appreciation,” remarked Anya Whitfield, Officer-in-Charge & Chief Financial Officer, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority. “Their efforts also support our sustainable tourism initiatives, which aim to preserve Saint Lucia’s natural beauty and cultural heritage for future generations.”

The 2024 Global Piton Award Winners are;

 USA
Lynn ThomasAlpha World Travel
Nancy FinnMy Island Getaways
Steve SimmonsHoneymons Inc.
Kerri Logan-ShirkSunlover Travel
Linda DancerHoneymoons Inc.
Mark HenniganDreamers Travel
Mitch TorenTripguy Travel
Belvin Baldwin IIShowtime Travel
Christen PerryClassic Travel Connection
Carlie Marie FinchTravel Anywhere
Jennifer DoncseczVIP Vacations Inc.
Vicki SneedVicki’s Travel Designs
Karen CavadasTwinsburg Travel
Tahryn NicastroShores to Sea Vacations
Georgiann JaworskyjCustom Travel Services
Canada 
Nancy MiklianNew Wave Travel
Kim HartlenKim Hartlen Travel-TPI
Lois BarbourTravel Time Agency
Barbara ScroccoTravel Only
Lori RiddellLUXE Destination Weddings

 

  United Kingdom  & Ireland 

Kate WalkerTropic Breeze
Trish HockinTropic Breeze
Lai YapKenwood Travel
Sheila SparkesTravel Counsellors
Jo PlummerTropic Breeze
Lindsey HayesBritish Airways Holidays
Adam PatchtonNot Just Travel
Lee HawkinsZappi Travel Group LTD
Lianne PetersYour Booking Holiday
Paul SailsburyGuru Travel

 

  Caribbean

Ingrid LynchGoing places Travel
Kevin EdwardsA’s Travel Service
Adriana SinghDelight Travel Service
Godley GonthierNayaradou Voyages
Clarisse RamotheNavitour

 

Kim Hartlen of Kim Hartlen Travel received the C.E.O Award for exceptional Canadian Sales Performance.

Lynn Thomas of Alpha World Travel was honored with the Chairman’s Award for exceptional US Sales Performance.

The Minister of Tourism Award for exceptional UK & Ireland Sales Performance went to Lianne Peters of Luxury Holidays 4 U in the Travel Advisor category, and Jo Plummer of Tropic Breeze in the Tour Operator category.

Nancy Finn of Island Getaways was awarded the Prime Minister Award for Exceptional Sales performance by revenue for Global sales.

Saint Lucia Voted #4 in Travel + Leisure Readers’ 25 Favorite Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas of 2024

St. Lucia – The idyllic island of Saint Lucia has once again been recognized for its unparalleled beauty and exceptional tourism offerings, securing the #4 spot in Travel + Leisure’s Readers’ 25 Favorite Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas of 2024. This prestigious recognition underscores Saint Lucia’s continued appeal as a top destination for travelers seeking stunning landscapes, rich culture, and unforgettable experiences.

Travel + Leisure, one of the world’s leading travel publications, conducts its annual World’s Best Awards survey, inviting readers to share their thoughts on top travel destinations, hotels, resorts, and more. The survey results reflect the genuine experiences of travelers, making this accolade a significant testament to the island’s allure and the high-quality experiences it offers.

“We are incredibly honored to be recognized by Travel + Leisure readers as one of their favorite islands in the region,” said Thaddeus M. Antoine, Chairman of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority. “This accolade is a reflection of our collective efforts to showcase the natural beauty, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality of Saint Lucia. We remain committed to providing our visitors with unique and memorable experiences that capture the essence of our beautiful island.”

Some of Saint Lucia’s resorts were crowned among the Best Caribbean Resorts.

  • Jade Mountain #4. The resort has maintained its esteemed position in the Travel + Leisure Hall of Fame, consistently recognized on this prestigious list for over a decade.
  • Cap Maison #13
  • Anse Chastanet #14
  • Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort #15
  • Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort #22

The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority express gratitude to everyone who voted for the destination and our partners whose unwavering commitment and passion make these achievements possible.

As Saint Lucia continues to bask in the glow of this recognition, the island invites travelers to explore its stunning landscapes, immerse themselves in its rich cultural tapestry, and create lasting memories. Whether it’s a romantic getaway, an adventurous escape, or a relaxing retreat, Saint Lucia promises an experience that resonates long after the journey ends.

For more information on planning your visit to Saint Lucia, please visit stlucia.org.

Impact Of Subsidized Goods To Manufacturers And Consumers In St. Lucia

St. Lucia – As a longstanding measure of support to homegrown Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and the consuming public by extension, government subsidies are generously applied to imported container-loads of flour, rice and sugar, and sold at the Government Supply Warehouse to local retailers and manufacturers at severely discounted prices. The Supply Unit of the Warehouse is responsible for procuring, selling, and ensuring the even distribution of essential commodities such as parboiled rice, brown and refined sugar, and white and whole-wheat flour. These items are imported annually through a transparent tendering process, which carefully considers several factors including service reliability, product quality and price.

Despite global fluctuations in the purchase prices of these basic commodities, local prices have remained stable as a result of this government intervention. Government subsidies have a significant impact on pricing dynamics and strategies. They are designed to support domestic industries by lowering the cost of raw materials sourced from abroad. If utilized as intended, subsidies can make imported goods more affordable for manufacturers; resulting in lower production costs. This, in turn, can lead to more competitive pricing of finished local products.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs, Mrs. Sophia Alfay-Henry underscored the continued impact and value of government subsidies on flour, rice and sugar to the business community and consumers in the current global economic climate. Mrs. Alfay-Henry said it was important to highlight the gross disparity between the global and local prices of these staples.

“The prices of [these] commodities are very volatile—especially flour, given the unstable price of wheat. To ensure affordability, to ensure that the prices of these commodities don’t increase, the government has been selling these commodities below the purchase price or the cost in most cases,” she said. “We purchase brown sugar under contract at a price of $98.00 and when it’s unavailable from that supplier, we purchase at $144.00—notwithstanding, brown sugar is sold at $100.00 per bag [in both instances]. In the case of refined sugar, it is purchased at $108.00 for the 110 lb bag and we sell it at $98.00.

“Currently, a bag of flour is purchased at $128.00 and is sold to the bakers at $85.00—that’s a difference of $43.00. The government is actually bearing that cost. With respect to the total value of the subsidy for the last financial year, it was $7.5 million on flour only and in total [approximately] $11 million. It’s very important because a lot of our small shops, our caterers depend on these basic commodities to make their products … to earn a livelihood.”

The Permanent Secretary also noted the cumulative impact to exporters who relied almost exclusively on the government supply of these commodities to continue producing their goods cost-effectively.

Below is a snapshot of the purchase and selling prices of white flour and brown sugar for the last two financial years:

CommodityTotal Purchase Price FY 2022-2023Total Selling PriceDifference

 

Total Purchase Price FY 2023-2024Total Selling PriceDifference

 

White Flour$25,375,000$14,875,000-$10,500,000$22,400,000$14,875,000-$7,525,000
Brown Sugar$7,878,400$8,000,000$121,600$11,520,000$8,000,000-$3,520,000
      -$11,045,000

 

CommodityPurchase Price per bag 2022-2023Purchase Price per bag 2023-2024Selling Price per bag

2022-2024

Retail Price per lb.

2022-2024

White Flour$145.00$128.00$85.00$1.00
Brown Sugar$98.48$144.00$100.00$1.00

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs pays Tribute to the late Dr. Martin Didier

St. Lucia – The Minister of Health- Honourable Moses Jn. Baptiste, the senior management and all officers from the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs convey sincere condolences to the family, colleagues, friends and the full medical fraternity on the passing of Dr. Martin Didier, SLC,C.B. E., MBBS, DM, FACP, FESC, FRCP (Edin.).

Dr. Martin Didier was well known for his humble, caring and patient bedside manner to the patients that he cared for. He has contributed towards the development of most of the physicians that he trained and mentored both locally and overseas. His contribution towards the health system in Saint Lucia is immeasurable.

Dr. Didier commenced his medical career in Saint Lucia as a District Medical Officer in 1981. After specialization at University Hospital in Kingston Jamaica, he began working as a Consultant Physician in Internal Medicine at Victoria Hospital in September, 1990. At the Victoria Hospital, Dr. Martin Didier held many senior positions including Medical Director of the Renal Unit and Head of the Department of Medicine. In 1997 Dr. Didier assumed the position of Consultant Physician at the Tapion Hospital, which he held until his passing. He also served as the Medical Director of Island Dialysis at Tapion Hospital from 1999 to 2004.

Dr. Didier held a wide range of memberships and professional associations, formed part of many health related boards, numerous publications, contributions to medical guidelines, national and international medical education presentations, research articles and participated in a wide range of community activities.

The excellence of Dr. Didier was demonstrated when he became the first Saint Lucian to obtain a Doctorate in Internal Medicine (PHD) at the University of the West Indies, to be elected as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, President of the Caribbean Cardiac Society and the first Saint Lucian and West Indian to be Fellow of the European College of Cardiology.

Despite Dr. Martin Didier’s international accolades, he is best known by the average Saint Lucian for his warm smile and soft soothing voice which complemented his healing bedside manner.

Saint Lucia has lost a remarkable physician. We once again extend sincere condolences to his wife, daughters, friends and the medical fraternity.

Nineteen Nevisians Complete Caribbean Vocational Qualification Level 4 Assessor Training

Charlestown, Nevis – Nineteen Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) teachers on Nevis have completed a four-week Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) Level 4 Assessor Training as they pursue certification to become CVQ assessors.

Technical, Vocational Education and Training teachers on Nevis complete a four-week Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) Level 4 Assessor Training.

CVQ assessors, based on the occupational standard for which they are qualified, conduct assessments on the skills and competency of persons applying for CVQs.

At a closing ceremony held at the Malcolm Guishard Recreational Park on July 12, Minister of Education the Honourable Troy Liburd said getting persons on Nevis trained as CVQ assessors is a big step towards the Federation’s pursuit of advancing Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as a core element of sustainable regional development.

“Today at the culmination of this training for our teachers here on Nevis I am extremely happy. I see we have a big cohort of teachers here and I know it was hard work at the end of the school year.

“If we don’t have assessors, if we don’t have people who could evaluate the persons training we can’t deliver on that CVQ, so I’m very happy.”

Counselor Ivan Chen of the Embassy of the Republic of China, (Taiwan) delivered remarks on behalf of Resident Ambassador to St. Kitts and Nevis, His Excellency Michael Lin. He expressed his gratitude to the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis for the partnership. 

“We at the Embassy are proud to support these courses to  he betterment of the national vocational qualification system in the Federation…By seeing all the outstanding certified training over here I would like to congratulate all of you on your remarkable achievement.”

Janesta Charles, one of the facilitators, spoke to the assessment aspect of the training and described the participants as enthusiastic and willing to learn. 

“Candidates commenced assessment this week towards their certification in CVQ Level 4. Competency-based assessment requires a varied mix of assessment methodologies, and so the process required that they conduct practical demonstration of their ability to actually do assessments. 

“They also had to respond to oral questions, and of course, the final component would require them to complete the development of their portfolios so this assessment process will be completed,” she explained.

Trainee Kurt Franklin shared his experience about the training programme, expressing that the diverse training taught participants how to use the TVET approach to teach and assess students’ competency in the different TVET areas. 

“We’re equipped with the tools and methods necessary to properly prepare assessment documents to measure competency in our various subject areas. The training will prove beneficial as we resume our day-to-day teaching of our students. We will be more aware of key focus points and be better able to guide our students to utilize best practices.”

The participants will be required to complete the final component of the certification process by submitting their portfolios by September 2024.
Also present at the ceremony were the Honourable Senator Isalean Phillip, Minister of Gender Affairs in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis; Ms. Zahnela Claxton, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education in the NIA; and Mr. Kertney L. Thompson, Ph.D. Chief Executive Officer, St. Kitts and Nevis TVET Council Secretariat.
 

The training was made possible through a collaboration between the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) and Federal Government, and the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Guyana Videochatting Online With US About Strategic Issues As Guyana’s Regional Influence Grows.

As the Government of Guyana continues strengthening its bilateral relationship with the United States of America, the First Strategic Dialogue on Tuesday began between the two countries, in the form of an online meeting of two teams.

The dialogue, which was agreed upon by the administrations of Presidents Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Joe Biden, was convened to outline strategic issues and policies as well as other opportunities for collaboration.

The governments convened the bilateral meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation in Georgetown, Guyana.

At the opening ceremony, Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud asserted that the dialogue continues along the upward trajectory of partnerships and relationships that the two sides have enjoyed for decades.

This dialogue seeks to build on the friendship and the partnership that exists between our two countries under the bilateral, regional and international cooperation frameworks,” he explained.

The discussions centred on several global thematic areas, including energy security, food security, climate change, the US-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis (PACC) 2030, and security and defence cooperation.

“I’m quite confident that our deliberations can pave the way for innovative solutions and strengthened ties between our two governments,” the Foreign Secretary affirmed.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the United States National Security Council (USNSC), Daniel Erikson, lauded Guyana’s global efforts to support the development of the Caribbean region.

Your leadership in the Caribbean Community is well recognized and your current role in the United Nations Security Council is a testament to the growing stature and influence of Guyana,” he posited.

Erikson also recorded the US government’s support for Guyana’s inclusive and sustainable policy directives.

“We know your government is working to ensure an equitable and thoughtful path towards an inclusive and sustainable development in safeguarding Guyana’s sovereign wealth throughout Guyana’s Natural Resource Fund. The U.S. stands ready to support you in that effort,” he said.

He further reaffirmed his administration’s stance on maintaining Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“I do want to reiterate once again, and this comes directly from President Biden himself, that the United States fully supports Guyana’s territorial integrity,” Erikson noted.

Also present at the dialogues were Assistant Secretary of the US Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols, Special Advisor to the US Vice President for the Western Hemisphere Scott Winton, other senior officials of the US White House, the US State Department, the US National Security Council, the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Defence, and the US Department of Commerce.

Additionally, Guyana’s delegation included the Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn, Ambassador of Guyana to the United States and the Organization of American States (OAS) Samuel Hinds, Chief of Defence Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Brigadier Omar Khan, National Security Advisor Captain Gerry Gouveia, Director of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) James Singh, representatives of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), Office of the President (OP), Ministries of Natural Resources, Finance, and Commerce, and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), among other senior government officials.

Source: GIS.

25 Divers Working In Barbados To Raise Sunken Boats With Slings.

Twenty-five volunteer divers have begun an operation in Barbados to remove partially submerged and completely sunken boats from the ocean, in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl.

This was disclosed by Chief Fisheries Officer, Dr. Shelly-Ann Cox, at a recent press conference held at the Ministry of the Environment and National Beautification, Green and Blue Economy, Warrens Tower II.

She said approximately 26 sunken boats had been identified, thus far, and will be brought up from under the sea in a manoeuvre, which she described as a very intense diving operation.

“We have, as shown by the underwater robots, boats that are sandwiched between ice boxes and concrete slabs. It’s quite challenging and we pray for the safety of the divers,” Dr. Cox stated.

The Chief Fisheries Officer said the role of the divers is to place slings around the vessels, in order for the crane to carefully lift the boats out of the ocean. She added that the official number of submerged vessels will not be known until they are taken out of the water.

According to local  fishermen, all the boats at the Bridgetown marina suffered some degree of damage, while a few sank entirely under the big waves that washed over the docks.

Source: Barbados GIS.

 

Bolivia Discovers Huge New Natural Gas Field.

The president of Bolivia, Luis Arce, has announced the discovery of a huge natural gas field.located north of the country’s administrative capital, La Paz.

The landlocked South American nation is facing an energy crunch linked to years of declining oil and gas production that has hit the country’s currency reserves, and the state energy firm YPFB said earlier this month it is looking for ways to overcome recent fuel shortages.

President Arce said the field had a capacity of 1.7 trillion cubic feet (TCF), making it the biggest discovery in the gas-rich country since 2005, so this is considered to be a massive economic boost for the high altitude Andean nation.

At almost 12000 feet, La Paz is the highest capital city in the world.

Natural gas exports are one of Bolivia’s main sources of income but production has been dwindling in recent years.

This discovery, the largest since 2005, is expected to become the third-largest producing field in Bolivia and has been named the Mayaya Centro-X1 IE field. The project has collected roughly $50 million in investments, with drilling beginning in November 2022.

The president said the new “mega field” would revive Bolivia’s ailing gas industry and spell “a new chapter” for the region where it was discovered.

The head of Bolivia’s state-run energy company, Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB), called it a “new exploratory frontier”.

Mr Arce announced the discovery less than a month after Bolivia was rocked by what appeared to be a coup attempt.

The embattled president is hoping that the newly discovered gas will give the country a boost at a time of economic downturn.

With gas exports diminishing in recent years, Bolivia’s foreign exchange reserves have dwindled as a result, while inflation has soared.

Fuel shortages and a cost of living crisis have angered voters who backed Mr Arce in the 2020 election hoping that the former economy minister would restore Bolivia’s economy to the boom it experienced between 2005 to 2014, when gas prices were particularly high.

President Arce is expected to stand for re-election in next year’s presidential poll, but the governing party is currently split between those who support him and those who support the former president, Evo Morales.

Sources: BBC, AP News, WorldOil.com

200 More Kenyan Police Officers Arrive In Haiti.

A new planeload  of 200 more police officers from Kenya arrived Tuesday in Haiti as part of the multinational U.N.-backed mission led by the East African country to neutralize the armed gangs that have taken over many urban areas in Haiti with detriment to law enforcement and commerce of all types.

The officers arrived nearly a month after the first expeditionary force of 200 landed at Toussaint L’Ouverture airport in the capital city of Port au Prince where gangs control at least 80% of the territory.

Authorities have declined to provide details on the Kenyans’ assignments, citing security concerns, although AP journalists have reported seeing them on patrol in areas near the main international airport, which reopened in late May after gang violence forced it to close for nearly three months.

The barracks for the Kenyan police officers is believed to be located on the grounds of the airport, thus providing open space and a ready-made perimeter fence.

“We are happy to work side-by-side with the Kenyans,” Normil Rameau, the new chief of Haiti’s National Police, said shortly after they arrived. “In the name of the government, we give them a warm welcome.”

More Kenyans are expected to arrive in coming weeks and months and will be joined by police and soldiers from the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Chad and Jamaica for a total of 2,500 personnel. They will be deployed in phases at a cost of some $600 million a year, according to the U.N. Security Council.

The mission aims to subdue and disarm gangs accused of killing more than 4,450 people last year and injuring another 1,668, according to the U.N, more than double compared with the previous year.

More than 1,500 people were killed or injured in the first three months of this year.

While some Haitians have welcomed the arrival of the Kenyans, others remain wary since Kenyan police have faced years of allegations of abuses in their own country, including extrajudicial killings.

A UN Contingent which stayed in Haiti from 2004 to 2017 accidently introduced cholera, and the resulting epidemic killed ten thousand Haitians.

The plan this time is to use trained police officers in the expectation of a more disciplined approach using personnel well-trained in dealing with the public.

Sources: NPR, VOA, AP,

US Lawmen Still Investigating How Assassin Was Able To Mount Rooftop For Clear Shot At Candidate.

U.S. authorities are still investigating how a young man armed with a rifle  managed to get to a rooftop vantage point overlooking a Republican campaign rally  last Saturday to shoot former president Donald Trump when local police were inside the warehouse beneath the gunman and just outside.

“There was local police in that building. There was local police in the area that were responsible for the outer perimeter of the building,” Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle told ABC News.

At outdoor events like Trump’s rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, last weekend, the Secret Service — the key federal government security protection agency for current and former presidents and their families — controlled the inner perimeter closest to Trump, while leaving the outer perimeter, including the warehouse, to be monitored by local police.

Now, questions are being raised whether the choice to leave the warehouse in the outer perimeter and in the hands of local police was the proper decision, since the rooftop was within shooting range of the rally stage where Trump was speaking.

The gunman, identified by authorities as 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks, managed to carry an assault weapon to the rooftop, and from a distance of about 140 meters, fire off as many as eight shots toward the stage. One of the shots pierced Trump’s right ear, while one rally-goer was killed and two others critically wounded. A Secret Service sniper killed Crooks.

Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas, whose agency includes the Secret Service, said on Monday that an independent review of the assassination attempt from outside the government will start soon. He called the attack a security failure.

Video analyses of the attack scene by U.S. news media recorded some bystanders outside the immediate rally area and near the warehouse yelling at police that there was a gunman on the warehouse rooftop nearly a minute and a half before shots were fired.

Cheatle told ABC News there was only “a very short period of time” between those reports and when the gunman fired.

“I don’t have all the details yet, but it was a very short period of time,” she said. “Seeking that person out, finding them, identifying them and eventually neutralizing them took place in a very short period of time, and it makes it very difficult.”

Cheatle, who was appointed by President Joe Biden in 2022, said she took responsibility for the handling of security at the event.

“The buck stops with me,” she said. “I am the director of the Secret Service.”

She said she did not plan to resign.

The Secret Service has said that before Trump went onstage, local officers were searching for a “suspicious” man who had been flagged by passersby, and that the Secret Service was notified of that hunt. But it is not clear how much earlier that search went on or when the agency was notified of it.

After Cheatle’s interview, the Secret Service expressed support early Tuesday for local law enforcement partners in providing security at the event despite the admitted failure to stop the attack.

“We are deeply grateful to the officers who ran towards danger to locate the gunman and to all our local partners for their unwavering commitment,” the Secret Service said in a statement. “Any news suggesting the Secret Service is blaming local law enforcement for Saturday’s incident is simply not true.”

Mayorkas said the probe of the assassination attempt would examine the actions of the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies “before, during and after the shooting to identify the immediate and longer-term corrective actions required to ensure that the no-fail mission of protecting national leaders is most effectively met.”

Trump was not seriously injured in the attack but easily could have been killed. He wore a bandage over his right ear on Monday at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his fellow Republicans officially named him as the party’s presidential nominee for the November election.

Biden on Monday ordered Secret Service protection for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an independent presidential candidate in the election, who trails far behind Trump and Biden in national polling. Kennedy’s uncle, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in 1963. His father, Robert F. Kennedy, was killed as he campaigned for the presidency in 1968.

Source: VOA

Premier Brantley’s Monthly Press Conference To Be Held On July 23

Charlestown, Nevis – The Honourable Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis, will host his monthly press conference on Tuesday, July 23, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. at the Nevis Island Administration’s (NIA) Cabinet Room located on the 2nd floor of the Social Security Building at Pinney’s Estate.

Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier Of Nevis.

During the press conference, Premier Brantley will provide updates on matters of national interest. Members of the press will have the opportunity to ask questions following his opening remarks.

The event will be broadcast live on the Nevis Island Administration’s Nevis Television (NTv) Channel 99, NevisTvOnline.com, NTv Go App, Nevis Television Facebook page and Nevis Newscast YouTube channel. It will also be available on Voice of Nevis (VON) Radio, Freedom FM and WINN FM.

Ministry Of Youth Empowerment, Ageing And Disabilities Launches Three Seniors’ Day Centres

Basseterre, St. Kitts – The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities has successfully launched three new Seniors’ Day Centres namely Tabernacle, Lodge, and Sandy Point during a brief but meaningful ceremony on Tuesday, July 16, 2024, at the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Sandy Point.

A section of seniors at the event.

The Honourable Isalean Phillip, Minister of State with responsibility for Youth Empowerment, Ageing, and Disabilities, delivered brief remarks at the event, expressing her enthusiasm for the expansion of the Seniors’ Day Programme. She emphasised the government’s commitment to senior citizens, highlighting the leadership of the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew and Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr. Geoffrey Hanley.

“The expansion of this programme is really a demonstration of the commitment that this administration has, under the leadership of the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew and Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, who are both very much caring in terms of when it comes to our seniors and they are very serious about making sure that we put things in place to ensure that all of us, especially you in your golden years, are ageing actively, well and with dignity,” said Minister Phillip.

Honourable Phillip outlined the benefits of these programmes, stating that they are established in communities to provide a space for seniors to socialise, gain information, and stay connected with their representatives and government ministers.

The Seniors’ Day Programme was initially in three communities – St. Pauls, Newtown, and St. Peters – across St. Kitts on March 20, 2023. The programme operates in East Basseterre, St. Peter’s, and St. Paul’s on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, respectively from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants engage in various fun and educational activities, including discussions on topics such as proper foot care for diabetics, healthy eating, financial management, and disaster preparedness.

“I am really pleased to know that you are enjoying it and you’re capitalising on all of the opportunities and that we are finally here,” she added.

She further expressed her satisfaction with the programme’s expansion and the positive feedback received from participants.

Minister Phillip extended her gratitude to the organisers and stakeholders who played a crucial role in ensuring the successful opening of the centres.

PS Hazelle Commends Expansion Of Seniors’ Day Programme To Three New Communities In St. Kitts

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Prime Minister’s Office, Naeemah Hazelle, commended the expansion of the Seniors’ Day Programme during a ceremony held at the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Sandy Point on Tuesday, July 16, 2024.

PS Naeemah Hazelle.

The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Ageing, and Disabilities launched three new Seniors’ Day Programmes for the communities of Lodge, Tabernacle, and Sandy Point, underscoring the government’s continued commitment to enhancing the lives of senior citizens across St. Kitts.

At the launch event, PS Hazelle, brought greetings on behalf of Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, who is currently off island on official government business.

PS Hazelle assured the participants and organisers of the Seniors’ Day Programme that the initiative has the full backing of the Prime Minister’s Office. She noted, “We are going to pledge our support to grow the programme as much as it’s needed and to show you the support that you’ve always shown us as our elders in the communities.”

The Seniors’ Day Programme has been hailed as a groundbreaking initiative for its approach to compassionate care for the ageing population in St. Kitts. The programme engages seniors in organised social activities geared towards enriching their lives and ensuring that they age in dignity. An educational component is also included in the programme to keep the participants updated on healthy eating habits, disaster management, proper foot care for diabetics, financial management, and more.

“These organised activities are not just for your recreation, but they also play a vital role in promoting your physical health, mental well-being, emotional resilience and the overall quality of life for you as our seniors. I also want to commend the staff at the Ministry of Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities for these efforts because active engagement in social, physical and cognitive activities is crucial in promoting your longevity, your independence and your sense of purpose,” said PS Hazelle.

The permanent secretary further noted that initiatives, such as the Seniors’ Day Programme, allow the government to demonstrate its appreciation to its seniors for their invaluable contribution towards nation-building.

“Through the seniors’ enrichment programme we hope that we’ve created a more inclusive and enabling environment where your voices are not just heard but you also feel valued. These initiatives ensure that you as our seniors remain active in our society and that you can contribute your wisdom and experience for the betterment of our communities,” PS Hazelle added.

In addition to the new programmes launched in Lodge, Sandy Point and Tabernacle, the Seniors’ Day Programme is also active in the communities of East Basseterre, St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s.

BVI Posts Record Tourist Numbers.

Premier of the Virgin Islands Dr. Natalio Wheatley announces that Virgin Islands tourism sector has welcomed more arrivals than ever so far in the first half of 2024.

According to the Central Statistics Office, compared to the same period in 2023, tourist arrivals surged by a remarkable 17.2%, totalling 682,773 visitors as opposed to 582,674.

This exceptional performance can be attributed to substantial increases across all categories of tourists.

Cruise ship passengers saw a notable rise of 16.2%, overnight visitors increased by 19.3%, and day trippers rose by an impressive 37.2%. In the first quarter of 2024, total tourist arrivals soared by an impressive 30.3%, reaching 497,556 compared to 381,866 in 2023.

This increase was fuelled by a 31.6% increase in cruise ship passengers, a 25.2% rise in overnight visitors, and a significant 34.8% increase in day trippers.

Despite a historical dominance of cruise ship passengers in total arrivals, there has been a notable shift towards greater balance among visitor types in 2024.

Overnight visitors demonstrated a resilient 13.0% increase, while day trippers continued their robust growth with a 39.4% rise. This shift underscores a more balanced distribution among day trippers, overnighters, and cruise passengers in the overall visitor composition.

According to Dr. Wheatley, the Virgin Islands tourism sector’s outstanding performance in the first half of 2024 sets a new benchmark for growth and resilience.

At a time when a number of vacation destinations, especially in Europe, are actually seeking to reduce the number of tourists and questioning the value of cruise ship visitors to destinations, the reverse is the case in the BVI and other Caribbean nations such as the Dominican Republic.

Premier Wheatley said, “We are delighted to see such a historic performance in our tourism sector during the first half of 2024. These figures underscore the Virgin Islands’ enduring appeal, and highlight our commitment to providing exceptional experiences for visitors from around the globe.”

He added, “As we continue to navigate through a dynamic global tourism landscape, these results highlight the Virgin Islands’ growing appeal and ability to attract diverse segments of travellers. We look forward to building on this momentum and welcoming even more visitors to our beautiful islands.”

Source: BVI GIS.

 

Not Only Cooking With Gas: Jamaica Gets 100 More Compressed Natural Gas Buses.

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A total of 100 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses arrived in Jamaica yesterday, which will significantly boost the Jamaica Urban Transit Company Limited fleet and improve give the public a more frequent bus service with less waiting time.

The new units, acquired at a cost of approximately US$$20 million ($200,000 each) , were transported to the Portmore Depot after being cleared at the Kingston Wharves.

They bring the total number of buses introduced into the public transportation system to 170 since 2023.
Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Hon. Daryl Vaz, who was at Kingston Wharves for the arrival of the units, said the buses will go a far way in transforming the public transportation sector.

“With these 100 buses, we are going to get the waiting time down in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region to 45 minutes… . These are 100 smart buses and we are going to use every inch of technology that they give to assist commuters and assist JUTC in the management and tracking of these buses,” he said.

CNG buses are generally considered to have the advantages of costing less in fuel, emiting less carbon dioxide, giving off less fumes, and making less noise than diesel buses

Minister Vaz noted that the units are the first set of 300 new buses that are to be introduced into the public transport sector.

“You will recall that Minister [of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel] Clarke, made a commitment for 300 buses, and I want to assure Jamaica that the process for the other 200 is already under way,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Minister noted that as part of the JUTC’s strategic plan to improve its operations, the entity is looking to introduce an application (app) that will better enable members of the public to organise their commute.

“It will give all the details about where the buses are, how much load it has, what is the estimated time for it to get to the location, and all of the things to help them better manage their time,” he pointed out.

Minister Clarke, who was also on hand for the arrival of the units, said the acquisition of the buses is an indicator of the country’s strong macroeconomic position.

“Our macroeconomic environment is in the best shape it has been in 50 years, notwithstanding Beryl, and it is because of the improved macroeconomic fundamentals. It is because of a stable fiscal trajectory [that] the Government of Jamaica is able to buy 100 buses in one go. These buses have been acquired with the revenue that the Government of Jamaica has, and we did not need to turn to… any other source to get the buses.

It is testament that macro improvements actually lead to improvements in public service delivery,” he emphasised.

“This is just the beginning. We are going to continue to leverage macroeconomic stability in your interest and to improve public services and thereby improve the quality of your life,” Dr. Clarke added.

Source: JIS.

UK Government Denies Claim That UK Is ‘Islamist Country’.

The UK’s deputy prime minister Angela Rayner has ridiculed comments by Donald Trump’s chosen candidate for US vice president that the UK under a Labour Party government might be the first “truly Islamist country with nuclear weapons.”

It is unclear whether the remark was intended to be a joke.

JD Vance, the Ohio senator chosen as Mr Trump’s vice presidential candidate on Monday night, made the comments while at the National Conservatism conference in Washington DC last week.

The 39-year-old said he was “beating up” on the UK, and had discussed with a friend “what is the first truly Islamist country to get a nuclear weapon”, then joked “maybe it’s Iran, maybe Pakistan kind of counts, and then we sort of decided maybe it’s actually the UK since Labour just took over”.

Mr. Vance is married to a woman of Hindu origin, Usha Vance, Mrs Vance – née Chilukuri, the child of Indian immigrants – was born and raised in the suburbs of San Diego, California. They met when they were both students at Yale Law School.

The suggestion that Islamists are gaining in power in some European countries with Muslim minorities is common in some right-wing US political circles.

Angela Rayner told ITV that Mr Vance had said “quite a lot of fruity things in the past” but said does not “recognise” his characterisation of the UK.

She added that she “looked forward” to meeting him and Mr Trump if they won the US election in November.

She added: “I’m very proud of the election success that Labour had recently.

“We won votes across all different communities, across the whole of the country, and we’re interested in governing on behalf of Britain and also working with our international allies.”

Mr Vance’s comments were also criticised by Exchequer Secretary James Murray.

Mr Murray told Sky News: “I don’t know what he was driving at in that comment, to be honest. I mean, in Britain, we’re very proud of our diversity.

“I’m very proud that we have a new government, I’m very proud that our Labour government is committed to national security and economic growth. I’m very clear where we are.

“I don’t really know how that comment fits in.”

Foreign Secretary David Lammy has spent recent months consciously seeking to forge strong relations with Donald Trump’s allies, among them Mr Vance.

Mr Lammy met Mr. Vance during a goodwill mission to the US in May, describing him as his “friend”.

In a speech at the right-leaning Hudson Institute in Washington in May, Mr Lammy said Mr Vance was “right to say we in Europe have a problem that we need to fix with higher defence expenditure”.

He also said Mr Trump has been “often misunderstood” when it comes to Nato, that he “gets the agenda that drives America First”, and that he would find “common cause” with a Trump administration.

But Mr Vance’s selection could pose a challenge for the new Labour government if Mr Trump returns to the White House.

Former president Mr Trump has opted for one of the most isolationist members of the Republican Party.

The former Trump-critic, now Trump-evangelist, opposes aiding Ukraine – while Sir Keir Starmer has committed to spending £3bn on aid for Ukraine for “as long as it takes”.

Mr Vance has also criticised Europe’s overdependence on the US in foreign policy – potentially straining US-UK relations.

Regardless of Mr Vance’s recent intervention, Labour believes their diplomacy with Mr Trump’s team is beginning to bear fruit.

Labour sources point to Sir Keir’s conversation with the ex-president on Sunday in the aftermath of the assassination attempt – the first time the pair had spoken.

Andrew Bowie, the shadow veterans minister, said he “absolutely” disagreed with the claim that Labour was creating an “Islamist country”.

He told Times Radio: “I disagree with the Labour Party fundamentally on many issues, but I do not agree with that view, quite frankly.

“I think it’s actually quite offensive, frankly, to my colleagues in the Labour Party.”

Source: BBC.

Good Boys & Girls: Ecuadorian Dogs Sniff Out Cocaine Hidden Under Bananas, Alert Handlers.

Sniffer dogs in Ecuador have found 6.23 tonnes of cocaine hidden in a banana shipment, police say.

The dogs alerted their handlers, who seized 5,630 parcels filled with a white substance that later tested positive for cocaine.

The shipment was destined for Germany, officials said, and would have been worth $224m at retail value had it reached its intended destination.

Hiding cocaine in banana shipments is a common practice in Ecuador, whose largest export crop is bananas.

Five people had been arrested following the discovery, according to the prosecutor-general’s office.

Police said they had found the massive cocaine haul during a routine inspection of container stored at Posorja deepwater port south-west of Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil.

The cocaine parcels had been hidden beneath crates of bananas destined for export.

One of those arrested in connection to the drug discovery was a representative of the export company responsible for the shipment, whom prosecutors said had been present at the inspection and gave officials the names of the four other suspects.

They include the managers of the banana plantation where the cocaine is suspected to have been added to the fruit shipment, as well as the driver who took the container to the port.

Ecuador has become a major transit country for cocaine produced in neighbouring Peru and Colombia, with transnational criminal gangs using Ecuador’s ports to ship the drug to Europe and the US.

Last year, Ecuadorean security forces seized more than 200 tonnes of drugs, most of it cocaine. Only the US and Colombia seized more drugs in 2023.

Gangs have caused a wave of violent crime in Ecuador, leading President Daniel Noboa, himself heir to a banana forture,  to declare a state of emergency and deploy tens of thousands of police officers and soldiers in an effort to combat them.

The state of emergency allows troops to be used in civilian cases, which is not normally the case.

The combined security forces have stopped large amounts of cocaine from being shipped to Europe.

In January, officers found the largest stash ever to be seized in Ecuador – 22 tonnes of cocaine – buried in a pig farm.

However, extortion, kidnappings and murders remain high in the Andean country, particularly in the coastal region.

Sources: BBC, Ecuadorian National Police.

World Leaders Condemn Trump Assassination Attempt.

Presidents, prime ministers and international organizations worldwide condemned the political violence and assassination attempt targeting former U.S. President Donald Trump at a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

U.S. authorities are still investigating the shooting.

U.S. President Joe Biden said he spoke with Trump Saturday night in what Biden described as a short and good conversation. “An assassination attempt is contrary to everything we stand for as a nation,” Biden told reporters Sunday.

The State Department declined to comment on private diplomatic conversations between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts. Blinken posted on X, formerly Twitter, that he was “shocked and saddened” by the shooting at former President Trump’s rally and grateful that he is safe.

Several Caribbean leaders expressed their regrets, including St. Kitts and Nevis PM Terrance Drew, who sent out a message on X (formerly known as Twitter.)

 

Argentina

Argentine President Javier Milei said in a post on X that the apparent assassination attempt showed the “desperation of the international left” and its willingness to “destabilize democracies and promote violence to screw itself into power.”

Australia

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemned the “inexcusable attack” on democratic values.

He told reporters at the Australian Parliament House, “In Australia, as in the United States, the essence and the purpose of our democracies is that we can express our views, debate our disagreements and resolve our differences peacefully.”

Bangladesh

The prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, condemned the attempt on Trump’s life. Speaking at a news conference in Dhaka, Hasina described the attack as “truly tragic.” “The United States, as a torchbearer for democracy in the world, how could such a thing happen there?” she asked.

Brazil

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in a pinned social media post, said that the shooting during the campaign rally is unacceptable and must be “vehemently repudiated” by all defenders of democracy.

His predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, a close ally of Trump, expressed solidarity with what he called “the world’s greatest leader of the moment.” Bolsonaro was stabbed in the abdomen at a campaign event ahead of the 2018 presidential election, which he won.

Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his dismay at the shooting, saying his thoughts were with Trump, those at the event and all Americans.

“It cannot be overstated — political violence is never acceptable,” he wrote on X.

China

The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement that President Xi Jinping has expressed sympathies to Trump and that China is following the shooting incident.

Djibouti

Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh “vehemently” denounced the “reprehensible and alarming assassination attempt” on Trump. He wrote on X, “Political violence is a grave threat to global stability, must be unequivocally condemned and outlawed.”

Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi emphasized his country’s condemnation of the attack in a statement and wished for the U.S. election campaigns to resume peacefully.

Ethiopia

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he was deeply shocked by the attack targeting Trump. Abiy wrote on X that he wished the American people a peaceful and democratic election season.

The European Commission

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on X she was deeply shocked by the shooting, adding that political violence has no place in democracy.

France

French President Emmanuel Macron sent his wishes to Trump for a speedy recovery. “It is a tragedy for our democracies. France shares the shock and indignation of the American people,” he posted on X.

Germany

In a post on X, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the attack was “despicable” and “such acts of violence threaten democracy.” He said his thoughts are with all those who were affected.

Greece

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his shock at the attack on Trump. “Political violence is unacceptable in our democratic societies,” he wrote on X.

Gulf Cooperation Council

Jasem Al-Budaiwi, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, condemned the attempted assassination of Trump. In a statement, Al-Budaiwi said that under no circumstances are terror and violence acceptable, adding that the incident goes against human values, morals, and standards.

Hungary

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on X that his thoughts and prayers were with Trump “in these dark hours.”

India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was deeply concerned by “the attack on my friend.” “Strongly condemn the incident. Violence has no place in politics and democracies,” he wrote on X.

Iraq

Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, condemned the attack “in the strongest terms,” saying on X his thoughts are with the victims of “this senseless act of terrorism.”

Israel

Shortly after the shooting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on X that he and his wife were “shocked by the apparent attack” on Trump and prayed for Trump’s safety and speedy recovery.

At the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said he watched “in horror,” adding that the attack was also an “assassination attempt on American democracy.”

Italy

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said in a statement the attack was a cause for serious alarm and “a disconcerting symptom of the deterioration of the civil fabric and of the dangerous refusal of confrontation, dialogue and respect for democratic life.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni wished Trump a quick recovery.

Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on X that he prayed for Trump’s speedy recovery, adding, “We must stand firm against any form of violence that challenges democracy.”

On April 15,2023, Kishida was safely evacuated after a man appeared to throw an explosive device in his direction at a campaign event Wakayama, in western Japan. This after former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe was killed in April 2023 after being shot twice during a campaign speech near Nara, Japan.

Lithuania

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda strongly condemned the act of political violence. “It has no place in democracy,” he wrote on X.

Mexico

Mexico’s outgoing president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, denounced the attack on X and said, “Violence is irrational and inhumane.”

NATO

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg condemned the attempted assassination on Trump. On X, Stoltenberg said, “Political violence has no place in our democracies” and that the Atlantic alliance stands together to defend freedom and values.

Nigeria

Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said the attack was “distasteful” and went “beyond the pale of democratic norms.”

“Violence has no place in democracy,” he wrote on X, and said, “Nigeria stands in solidarity with the United States of America at this time.”

Organization of American States

Luis Almagro, secretary-general of the Organization of American States, said he condemned “in the strongest terms” the attack against Trump. “Violence has absolutely no place in an election, in politics or in our societies,” he wrote on X.

Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif described the shooting as a “shocking development,” condemning all forms of political violence and wishing Trump a swift recovery and good health.

Imprisoned Pakistani opposition leader and former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was shot and injured at a rally in November 2022, wished Trump a full recovery. “Political violence is a tool of cowards and has no place in a democracy,” he said on X.

Philippines

Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wrote on X, “It is with great relief that we receive the news that former President Donald Trump is fine and well after the attempt to assassinate him.”

“Together with all democracy loving peoples around the world, we condemn all forms of political violence. The voice of the people must always remain supreme,” Marcos added.

Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin currently has no plans to call Trump, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

On Sunday, the Kremlin said it did not believe the current U.S. administration was responsible for Saturday’s assassination attempt on Trump, but it criticized the “atmosphere created” by the current U.S. administration “during the political struggle.”

Saudi Arabia

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expresses its condemnation and denunciation of the attempt on the life of Trump and its complete solidarity with the U.S., the former President, and his family,” Saudi’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the Kingdom rejects “all forms of violence.”

Singapore

The prime minister of Singapore, Lawrence Wong, said he was relieved to hear reports that Trump is safe and recovering well. Wong wrote on X, “We should never resort to violence regardless of any differences of views.”

South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa wrote on X that the attempted assassination “is a stark reminder of the dangers of political extremism and intolerance.”

Ramaphosa also voiced his hope that “the citizens and leaders of America will have the fortitude and sagacity to reject violence and seek peaceful solutions.”

South Korea

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said he was “appalled by the hideous act of political violence.” “The people of Korea stand in solidarity with the people of America,” he wrote on X.

Slovakia

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who survived an assassination attempt in May, condemned the shooting. In a Facebook post, Fico drew a direct comparison between the two incidents and suggested that the attack on Trump was “scripted like through a copybook,” implying it was orchestrated by Trump’s political opponents.

Taiwan

Taiwan’s president, Lai Ching-te, said on X his thoughts and prayers are with Trump. “Political violence of any form is never acceptable in our democracies. I offer my sincere condolences to the victims affected by the attack.

Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the assassination attempt and expressed solidarity. “I believe that the investigation into the attack will be conducted most effectively to ensure there is no shadow over the U.S. elections and global stability,” Erdogan wrote on X.

Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was relieved to learn that Trump is now safe.

“I am appalled to learn about the shooting,” Zelenskyy wrote on X. “Such violence has no justification and no place anywhere in the world. Never should violence prevail.”

United Nations

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres unequivocally condemned this act of political violence and sent his best wishes to Trump for a speedy recovery, U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the attack, describing it as “a criminal and extremist act.”

United Kingdom

British Prime Minister Keir Starmer said on X that he was appalled by the “shocking scenes,” and sent his best wishes to Trump and his family.

“Political violence in any form has no place in our societies,” he said.

British lawmaker Nigel Farage, who is a friend of Trump, sought to place much of the blame on the “mainstream media,” which he claimed opposed the former U.S. president. Speaking to the BBC, he described the incident as “horrendous,” although he said he was not entirely surprised by it.

Uzbekistan

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan, in a post on Telegram, strongly condemned the attack and the act of violence. He wished Trump a speedy recovery.

The Vatican

The Vatican press office released a statement on Sunday expressing concern about the violence, which it said, “wounds people and democracy, causing suffering and death.” The statement added that the Holy See is “united in the prayer of the U.S. bishops for America, for the victims, and for peace in the country, so that the motives of the violent may never prevail.”

Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro condemned the attack during a campaign event in the town of Guacara. “We have been adversaries, but I wish President Trump health and [a] long life, and I repudiate the attack,” Maduro added.

Source: VOA

Advisory Board Installed For Girls’ Mentorship Programme On Nevis

Charlestown, Nevis – A nine-member Advisory Board has been installed for the newly launched Girls’ Mentorship Programme, an initiative of the Ministry of Social Empowerment and Gender Affairs in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA).

Newly installed Board of the Ministry of Social Empowerment and Gender Affairs in the Nevis Island Administration’s Girls’ Mentorship Programme: (l-r) (back row) Randolph Boddie, Roger Fyfield, Neila Jones, Deandra Archibald (front) Diane Hobson, Patricia Claxton, Tebron Joseph, and Catherine Forbes (not pictured: Pamela Martin).

Minister of Social Empowerment and Gender Affairs the Honourable Jahnel Nisbett presented the Board Members with their instruments of appointment during a brief ceremony on July 09.

The Board consists of Patricia Claxton, Randolph Boddie, Tebron Joseph, Diane Hobson, Neila Jones, Roger Fyfield, Deandra Archibald, Pamela Martin, and staff representative Catherine Forbes.   

The Hon. Nisbett expressed gratitude to the individuals for being part of the initiative, which will require them to give of their time to ensure the programme is properly and effectively executed to the benefit of the young mentees.

“You’re pioneering this project here in Nevis… It’s going to be a sacrifice of your time definitely, and even sometimes you might find it’s a sacrifice of your personal money as well because you get attached them and want to enhance their lives.
 

“So I want to thank you for your commitment and willingness to enter into this long-term agreement to help shape the young ladies here on Nevis.’

This programme mirrors the Ministry’s Boys’ Mentorship Programme, aimed at guiding young boys on a path to success.

“We’ve successfully done and continue to do the Boys’ Mentorship Programme but we realized that as we develop our boys into strong, capable, competent young men we also have to ensure that our girls are developed in the same way, so that we have that mutually beneficial partnership to make Nevis better and ensure that the next generation is well-prepared for success,” said Minister Nisbett.

The installation ceremony was chaired by Ms. Latoya Jeffers, Assistant Secretary, with Ms. Shelissa Martin Clarke, Permanent Secretary; Ms. Saros Hendrickson, Interim Director of Gender Affairs, and other members of staff in attendance.

With the installation of the Board, the Ministry aims to fully implement the Girls’ Mentorship Programme in September.

The Bahamas’ Independence Day ‘People’s Love and Unity Rush

Nassau, The Bahamas – In the early hours of Independence Day, July 10, after the official Flag Raising Ceremony… the ‘People’s Love and Unity Rush’ and the Independence Junkanoo Achievement Awards drew the crowds. (BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

St. Vincent Thankful For Post-Hurricane Aid From Guyana.

The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves has expressed gratitude to Guyana’s  President Ali for providing relief supplies to his country following Hurricane Beryl.

Gonsalves said  that the stricken island had received food supplies, lumber, galvanised building materials, tools, gasoline generators, and other useful items that had been shipped from Guyana.

“I am very happy to see our Guyanese brothers and sisters who came on the vessel bringing the shipment of relief aid such as food and building materials.

A shipment of supplies for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Photo: Guyana DPI.

“Guyana has been very generous. Guyana also has a strong relation with Grenada. The Caribbean Community has come together quite well. We have had meetings already on the relief matters…We are moving with a lot of advocacies in the world for assistance for the Caribbean countries who are affected,” Prime Minister Gonsalves underscored.

PM Gonsalves pointed out that very soon Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines will receive another shipment of essential supplies from Guyana.

The category four hurricane recently made landfall in Carriacou, Grenada, and subsequently intensified into a category five storm.

Guyana’s swift response saw several shipments of essential items being dispatched to the hurricane-affected Caribbean countries.

To aid in immediate recovery efforts following Hurricane Beryl, 50 ranks of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) will be going to Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines under the leadership of Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Dale De Mendonca on Sunday.

Based on an assessment, over 80 per cent of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ agriculture sector has been impacted. Also, the rural communities in Jamaica have suffered the most.

Meanwhile, the situation was described as ‘horrific’ in Grenada since the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique have had their permanent and cash crops, as well as livestock, destroyed.

Source: Guyana GIS.