GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 17, CMC – The first ladies of five Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have discussed issues aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, trafficking in persons (TIP) mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer as well as gender based inequalities in the region.
The wives of the leaders of Guyana, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago began their two-day meeting on Thursday to identify challenges and discuss solutions on the way forward at their “Forum of the CARICOM’s Spouses of Heads of State and Government on the Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child (ECWECC)” initiative.
Guyana’s First Lady, Sandra Granger told reporters that Thursday’s deliberations discussed some of the issues identified including ways to reduce teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, trafficking in persons (TIP) mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer, and addressing gender based inequalities.
Mrs. Granger explained that work has already started in Guyana, and the Ministries of Social Protection and Public Health are currently working with teen mothers, domestic violence and TIP victims, however more work needs to be done to better protect women.
She said that the initiative is being supported by several Caribbean First Ladies, but plans and discussions will be circulated to others to get all of them on board, in a tangible way.
“We are grateful for funding for the meeting which enabled participation of not only the First Ladies, but also consulting agencies like Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation for United Nations (FAO) among others, to come together to discuss the issues and develop strategies for moving forward in reducing the issues affecting our women and children,” she said.
Mrs Granger said the group is looking at the issues in a practical manner and working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Meanwhile, the First Lady of Belize, Kim Simplis-Barrow said she is mostly concerned about women having equal opportunities as men. The Belizean First Lady explained that women face many challenges on the job, including under payment and male supremacy.
“We are working towards seeing more options for women in the Caribbean…the idea is not to overthrow men, but to work hand in hand with them, and to sit at that decision table whether it be in a management room or to perform a surgery, they must have representation, and I believe it should be 50/50,” Mrs Simplis-Barrow said.
Mrs Simplis-Barrow, who is also a cancer survivor, is encouraging women to do breast self- examinations, live healthier lifestyles and wear their scars proudly.
She said she hoped that she was able to be an inspiration for women with cancer. She added that she also enjoys working with children with disabilities and protecting women from sexual and domestic abuse.
CARICOM leaders endorsed the ECWECC initiative at their summit here in 2016 and the report of the Forum will be presented to them at their inter-sessional meeting which ends on Friday.
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb. 16, CMC –A British woman is scheduled to appear in court in the second city of Montego Bay next week Monday after she was arrested by the police late Wednesday at the Sangster International Airport.
The police report that the 22-year-old woman from Birmingham, England was held she was found with cocaine and marijuana, as she was about to check in on a flight to Frankfurt Germany.
The police say they found the drugs in tins that were wrapped in foil paper and transparent plastic bags.
Two of the 40 tins were opened and one contained cocaine weighing 34 pounds and the other with six pounds of ganja.
She is facing six counts of breaching the Dangerous Drugs Act.
WASHINGTON, Feb 17, CMC- Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has tabled a bill in the United States House of Representatives aimed at protecting undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants.
Just days into his presidency, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order stating that he would cut off funding to cities that do not cooperate with US federal immigration officials.
Trump’s January 24 executive order targets what are known as sanctuary cities and counties, which generally do not comply with federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants who have been arrested on charges unrelated to their immigration status and turn them over to the federal authorities for possible deportation, according to the New York Times.
Clarke’s “Protect Our Sanctuary Cities Act” is intended to end Trump’s executive restrictions on sanctuary cities and prohibit the expenditure of funds to enforce these provisions.
In addition, the measure would require the US Department of Homeland Security to present a report to Congress within 30 days explaining how the agency could build trust with immigrant communities.
“During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to punish New York City and other communities that want to protect immigrants and their families. His executive order on immigration, by denying counter-terrorism funds to sanctuary cities, attempts to enforce that pledge with a threat,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) after introducing the bill on Thursday
“We are a sanctuary city because all people, regardless of their immigration status, should have the ability to access critical services, such as the protection of police and firefighters and the ability to send their children to school,” she added.
Without sanctuary in New York City, undocumented immigrants are forced to live with the fear that any contact with the government – even a call to the local police precinct to report a crime – could result in deportation.
“Nobody in New York City should have to live in fear of Donald Trump. As a result, this executive order undermines the safety of our entire community. We should build bridges, not walls, between Americans. I urge my colleagues to join me in resisting Donald Trump’s cynical efforts to divide our nation.”
Immediately after Trump signed the executive order on January 24, the mayors of large and small American cities reacted with outrage.
On January 25, Trump signed an executive order “vastly expanding who is considered a priority for deportation,” the New York Times said.
This has prompted further outrage from Caribbean American legislators in New York City, who have called for a very strong stance against the new president’s immigration policy.
Last Thursday, a United States federal appeals panel unanimously rejected Trump’s bid to reinstate his ban on travel into the US from seven Muslim countries, stating that the government showed that “no evidence” that anyone from the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — had committed terrorist acts in the United States.
Clarke had condemned Trump’s travel ban, warning that it would eventually affect the Caribbean.
Amid increased anxiety and apprehension in the Caribbean community in the United States, the head of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the department that oversees the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, acknowledged that ICE has launched a series of targeted enforcement operations aimed at deporting Caribbean and other immigrants.
“These operations targeted public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens [immigrants] and gang members, aswell as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges,” said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in a statement earlier this week.
Stirring opening to CARICOM Inter-Sessional – Video highlights
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The Twenty-Eighth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) opened Thursday morning at the Marriott Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana.
Speakers at the Opening included CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, and CARICOM Chairman and President of Guyana, HE David Granger.
By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | February 15, 2017
It may look like a ribbon of cascading lava, but a so-called “firefall” in Yosemite National Park is actually a regular waterfall illuminated by the bright light of the setting sun.
Almost every mid-to late-February, Yosemite’s Horsetail Fall — a seasonal waterfall that flows when the snowpack melts in the winter and early spring — glows a bright and fiery orange. [Gallery: Most Famous Waterfalls in the US]
However, the firefall happens only under the right conditions. For starters, the sky needs to be clear. In addition, the sun needs to set at the right angle in the western sky; this creates the illusion that the waterfall is burning, Live Science reported previously.
“Even some haze or minor cloudiness can greatly diminish or eliminate the effect,” the National Park Service wrote on its website.
The sight, which now attracts thousands of people annually, is one to behold. But it’s short-lived, happening for only about 10 minutes each day, Live Science reported.
Yosemite visitors hoping to catch an eyeful of the firefall are in for a treat this year, officials said.
“The waterfall is bigger than it has been in a long time due to all the rain and snow we have received,” National Park Service spokesman Scott Gediman told CNN.
Many people have taken to social media to share photos of the astounding firefall. The U.S. Department of the Interior tweeted, “Every February, a rare phenomenon makes Horsetail Fall @Yosemitenps glow like fire. Pic from Saturday by Ray Lee #California #firefall.”
Meanwhile, on Instagram, rayophotography13 posted a fiery photo for Valentine’s Day.
Horsetail Fall flows over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. The firefall is best seen from the El Capitan picnic area, located west of Yosemite Valley Lodge and east of El Capitan, National Park Service officials reported.
ROSEAU, Dominica, Feb 13, CMC – The Dominica government says it will spend an estimated EC$45 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) on the further development of the geothermal energy sector here.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, addressing a private sector forum here last weekend, said that the funds will come from the controversial Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI) through which foreign investors are provided with Dominican citizenship in return for making a significant investment in the socio-economic development of the country.
“We have invested millions thus far and will make a further investment of EC$45 million in the development of the geothermal plant. “I am sure you all look forward to the significant reduction in the cost of energy that will follow,” Skerrit said.
He said the audience the development of the plant “will be a positive impact on your businesses and this should also stimulate investments by others by establishing new businesses”.
Last December, Energy Minister Ian Douglas said Dominica was moving closer to harnessing geothermal energy.
He said the Dominica Geothermal Company had been registered, and planning of the power plant is progressing.
“We are moving ever closer to the vision of realizing power from our geothermal resources. The Dominica Geothermal Company has been duly registered, and plans for the construction of the power plant are progressing satisfactorily,” he stated.
“The government has invested further EC$15-million into this phase of the project. And we have commitments from our friends in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and the World Bank, to assist us with the completion of this project.”
This follows a decision made by the Government to run the geothermal project as a company solely owned by the government and people of Dominica.
Skerrit said that the island should not also forget the “tremendous devastation” caused by Tropical Strom Erika in 2015 and that the rehabilitation efforts are being funded under the CBI.
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb 14, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Argyle International Airport was officially opened Monday evening with a flag raising ceremony in which Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said that the facility is “a symbol, it is a metaphor of what is possible in us.
“Do not ever allow any people, any nation to impose on us limitations to our imagination,” he told the large crowd that turned out to the opening of the EC$700 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) facility, six years behind schedule.
“Only we, as a self-governing people under God, with our own individual sense of being; only we must impose limitations on ourselves. Any other notion is a colonial one, and it is debilitating and it will hold us back,” said Gonsalves, who in 2005 announced his administration’s plan to build an international airport at Argyle, on the eastern side of the island.
“Whatever we set our minds to achieve, with patience and calm, we can achieve, as we have seen it here. This is a bridge to the world. And this plan didn’t just come from us. It is a combination of human intelligence and divine inspiration,” Gonsalves said and sang the chorus “I’m building a Bridge”.
Monday’s flag raising was one of two events to mark the opening of the airport, which begins operations later on Tuesday with scheduled flights by intra-regional carriers, LIAT and Grenadine Air Alliance.
A number of international chartered flights from North America and Cuba are also scheduled to land on Tuesday at the airport, which has contributed EC$400 million to the EC$1.6 billion national debt.
The airport has a runway that is 9,000 feet long and 150 feet wide. The terminal building has been designed to process 1.5 million passengers annually and 800 persons an hour at peak.
Gonsalves, who will also address Tuesday’s ceremony, said “today was supposed to be a very simple function and look at the thousands who are here.
“ (Tuesday) I believe we are going to see the largest crowd ever assembled at one place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And we are going to have a good time. We are going to have a good time because we have been blessed,” he said.
In his address, Gonsalves reiterated that the events on Monday and Tuesday are national ones.
“This is a not a party, political event; neither the one tomorrow (Tuesday). There is enough time, which we have spent on those arguments and we may well spend them on the arguments in the future, but today, now, and tomorrow (Tuesday), with our guests in our midst, I want to ensure that we have a national event, worthy of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.
“It is inevitable, in the nature of competitive politics, that this or that matter may be said; that something may creep in. But, as prime minister of the country, I want to reaffirm, yet again, that this is a national event,” Gonsalves said, using the event to thank the nations and institutions that contributed to the successful completion of the airport.
He thanked the CARICOM Development Fund, which, of its own resources and through resources from Turkey, contributed to the airport and thanked also the president and the government and the people of Taiwan, which donated the terminal building.
He also recognised “very specially”, three other major partners, namely Venezuela, Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago, which will be featured during Tuesday’s celebratory rally.
President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro is slated to attend and speak at the event as well as Cuban Vice-President, Salvador Mesa.
Gonsalves paid a special tribute to the memory of his “dear friend and brother”, the late prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning, whose widow, Hazel will speak during Tuesday’s rally.
Gonsalves also used the ceremony to recognise other representatives of countries that have assisted with the airport, namely, Austria, Mexico, Turkey, Libya, Georgia, and Iran.
“We have had contributions from countries; some of them do not have diplomatic relations with one another. And part of the creativity and skill of the government was to bring all of these countries together to assist the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Gonsalves also thanked the governments of Britain, Canada, and the United States of America, whose respective export credit guarantee systems assisted “with certain items of equipment which we purchased, but, because of the guarantee systems we got them on better interest terms”.
Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday, speaking to the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) said the event had the pomp and ceremony that he expected.
“And I hope that the airport turns out to be what we expect as well.”
Friday did not give a clear answer as to whether opposition lawmakers would attend Tuesday’s event, saying “we will see. We will take it one day at a time.”
He said that decision would be informed by “what the nature of the exercise is.
“I think right now what we want to do is to show that commitment to people that this is a national project and whatever the criticisms are, we, in the opposition, we have to raise questions about things that we see in major projects or in government policy that raise concern.
“And if we do that, that doesn’t mean that we are rejecting entirely or we are unpatriotic, as some people might say. We are doing our job. When the project is completed, we hope that, based on the input we have given, that it becomes a better project.”
Friday said opposition lawmakers were at the event to show that they want the project to succeed.
ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Feb 15, CMC – The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is likely to look towards former education minister Franka Bernardine as its candidate to contest the St George’s South East constituency in the next general election after the current caretaker has said he is putting his business ahead of his political ambition.
“I had indicated to the party about two years ago that they should consider getting a new caretaker because of increasing work load with my company. It’s a small company and I need to focus on its operations, I got a small staff and we just need to work together for it to succeed,” said Randall Robinson who operates a tour company.
“I really could not continue as caretaker, right now it’s the busy season for me and with talk of a snap elections it will just be too much,” said Robinson, who unsuccessfully contested the 2013 general elections losing out to Gregory Bowen of the ruling New National Party (NNP).
Robinson said that while he would continue to hold on as caretaker despite giving notice he hopes the party would move quickly to announce his replacement.
He says he favours Bernardine, the former education minister in the Tillman Thomas administration that was booted out of office in 2013.
Bernardine had contested the Town of St George seat but she was beaten by Health Minister Nickolas Steele of the NNP.CMC/ls/ir/2017.
The general elections are constitutionally due here in 2018, but there is widespread speculation that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell will go to the polls this year.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 15, CMC – An opposition legislator has suggested that members of the security forces are involved in murders in Trinidad and Tobago.
Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge, who is also a criminal defence attorney, told the Senate on Tuesday that there is only group of people which can carry out such killings without being caught.
“Who among us could carry out murders with such skill and perfection? Who among us has the luxury of training and perfecting their art interrupted without having to look over their shoulders or having to worry about a national security helicopter passing over?
“Is it time Madam President for law enforcement to look inwards, or is it that these killings are being carried out by returning ISIS fighters (from Syria). These are the things we need to know. If we know the causes then we know how we arrive at the solution,” Sturge told legislators.
More than 70 people have been murdered here since the start of the year and Sturge said it is obvious that “many of the drug-related killings may very well be carried out by hired guns”.
He said these hired guns “may well have been…members of the armed forces,” adding that this could be among the reasons why the crime detection is so low here
He posed several questions to National Security Minister Edmund Dillon, saying “isn’t it obvious that something is amiss, that something isn’t adding up.
“All this technology and we have the lowest detection rates anywhere. We pay the most money on national security and we get the least results. That can’t continue.
“So I ask is the Minister of National Security knows what is the reason for the Muslim versus Rasta City war, or the reason for the Muslim versus unruly ISIS. Where are all the guns coming from?
“We were given the impression that legislation expanding the remit of the SSA (Special Security Agency) was needed as a matter of urgency that it would go a long way in crime detection and we have in the last nine months since the passage since the exact opposite.”
Sturge said that urgent and important legislation has not yet been proclaimed and that could assist in the fight against crime.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 15, CMC – The high rate of violence against women will be among issues discussed when the Forum of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM’s) Spouses of Heads of State and Government on the Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child (ECWECC) initiative begins here on Thursday.
The Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said that the two-day meeting will seek to hammer out the specifics on the way forward for this initiative.
The ECWECC initiative is expected to provide opportunities to improve the lives of women, children and adolescents. It focuses on four priority issues: teenage pregnancy; violence against women and children, including trafficking in persons); cervical cancer and mother to child transmission of HIV in the Caribbean.
Guyana’s First Lady, Mrs Sandra Granger, said the initiative evolved out of the Every Woman, Every Girl (EWEG) Initiative of former United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki Moon which was launched in 2014. She said that ECWECC took on board Caribbean realities, resulting in the four areas for priority intervention and the expanded focus to include the child, irrespective of gender.
These include the Caribbean having the second highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the world after sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 20 per cent giving birth before the age of 19; cervical cancer being the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Caribbean women aged 15 to 49 and accounting for 13 per cent of all cancer cases.
The meeting is also expected to discuss the high rate of violence against women and girls, which also involved trafficking in persons.
“Invitees include regional and international partners who have expressed a willingness to come on board to assist…, providing resources, both financial and intellectual to push it (the initiative) forward,” Mrs. Granger said..
The Forum is funded by Gilead Sciences Inc. and organized by the Office of the First Lady of Guyana in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the CARICOM Secretariat.
CARICOM leaders endorsed the ECWECC initiative at their summit here in 2016. And the report of the Forum will be presented to them at their inter-sessional meeting which also begins on Thursday.