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5.5 earthquake jolts Caribbean islands

5.5 earthquake jolts Caribbean islands

Friday, February 09, 2018

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 jolted several Caribbean islands on Friday but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The Trinidad-based Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies said that the quake, which occurred at 1.43 pm (local time), was felt in Barbuda, St Kitts and St Maarten.

It said it was located Latitude: 18.71N, Longitude: 61.43W and at a depth of 10 kilometres.

“The event occurred north of Barbuda and was reported felt in St Kitts and St Maarten,” the SRC said.

In recent weeks, several Caribbean countries have been rattled by earthquakes and in January an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 jolted the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa as well as the Mexican state of Quintana Roo and Belize.

Last month, Trinidad and Tobago was rattled by two earthquakes within a one week period. They measured 4.5 and 4.7 respectively.

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Liz Zechmeister

New survey finds climate change concerns much higher in Caribbean than US, Canada

NASHVILLE, CMC – A leading university here has found that climate change concerns are much higher in Latin America and the Caribbean that in the United States and Canada.

According to a new “Insights” report from Vanderbilt University’s Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP), titled “Education and Risk Assessments Predict Climate Change Concerns in Latin America and the Caribbean,” 66.7 percent of Caribbean nationals have “very serious” about climate change.
The report says 21.9 percent of Caribbean nationals said they were “somewhat serious” about the phenomenon.

Meanwhile, more than eight in 10 adults in Mexico and Central America believe climate change is a very serious problem for their country, more than twice the proportion of adults in the United States and Canada, the report says.

Elizabeth Zechmeister, LAPOP’s director and Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science, and graduate student Claire Evans wrote the report.

“Climate change is a highly politicized and partisan issue in the United States, and we wanted to examine whether that is a common characteristic of this issue in other countries in the region,” said Zechmeister. “If not politics, then what predicts attitudes about climate change in these other places?”

Using data collected from LAPOP’s 2016-17 Americas Barometre survey, Zechmeister and Evans analyzed responses to the question: “If nothing is done to reduce climate change in the future, how serious of a problem do you think it will be for [country]?”

Liz Zechmeister
Liz Zechmeister

They found that concern was highest in Mexico and Central America, where 81.5 percent characterized climate change as a “very serious” problem, with an additional 10.4 percent characterizing it as “somewhat serious.”

South America followed close behind, with 75 percent answering “very serious” and 15.2 percent saying “somewhat serious.”

The United States and Canada trailed their neighbors considerably, with just 39.6 percent, saying unchecked climate change was a “very serious” problem.

However, a much larger proportion of adults in these areas considered it a “somewhat serious” issue—35.4 percent, the report finds.

In the Latin America and Caribbean region, the report says the most significant predictors of climate change concern are education and worries about being affected by a natural disaster, though wealth also plays a role.

Education increases concern for climate change nearly 11 percent, while worries about natural disasters increases that concern 8.3 percent, the report says. Wealth is also linked to increased climate change concern, raising it by 3.3 percent.

Vanderbilt University said the findings confirmed the researchers’ hypothesis that climate change is a much more partisan issue in the United States than it is anywhere else in the hemisphere.

Identifying as a liberal in the US is associated with a 16.7 percent increase in climate change concern compared to political centrists, while identifying as a conservative is associated with a 25 percent decrease in concern, the researchers find.

Zechmeister and Evans said this broad consensus about the seriousness of climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean suggests that government policies and programs to mitigate climate change could be well supported by the populations in those nations.

LAPOP, hosted by Vanderbilt Universityis considered the leading expert in public opinion polling in the Americas, with more than 40 years of experience.

LAPOP said its AmericasBarometer is the “only scientifically rigorous comparative survey project that covers 34 nations in the Americas,” including the Caribbean.

More than 43,500 interviews comprise the 2016–17 Americas Barometer. The surveys are based on national sample designs and conducted with the assistance of partners across the region.

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Barbuda hur

Opposition parties criticise PM over remarks made in Barbuda

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jan 29, CMC – Two opposition political parties have criticised what they have labelled to be the behaviour last weekend of Prime Minister Gaston Browne in which he is alleged to have made statements highly critical of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officials and accusing the organisation of “opportunism”.

Barbuda hur
Hurricane damage in Barbuda (CMC Photo)

Both the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) and the minority National Alliance (DNA) said they wanted to apologise to the international agency over the remarks made by Browne.

UPP leader Harold Lovell, speaking on a radio programme here, said that an external agency erecting or displaying signage after contributing to a project in a foreign country is not unheard of but rather, it is “standard procedure.”

“I’m making assumptions here but they have to account to their principles. Their principles as well as the Chinese government at some point would want to do some sort of inspection. They would want to see where their money has been spent.”

Browne is reported to have told the UNDP officials in Barbuda over the last weekend “you can’t come and take credit for all the work that my Government did.

“It’s unacceptable. When we do all the work and then you come and put big signs on there as though you did everything that is what is happening. You got to stop it. You can’t come and give few sheets of plywood and then go and take all the credit. You have to stop it,” Browne said as he also criticised the UNDP that has had a presence on Barbuda since the island was hit by the Category 5 Hurricane Irma last September.

Browne told the UNDP officials to remove stickers, which displayed two logos, – one for the UNDP and one for the Government of China – from on a number of homes.

Official said that the stickers, were placed to indicate that the roof of the house was repaired with material from the UNDP procurement project funded by the People’s Republic of China.

“So you cannot now offer a few sheets of plywood and then put a UNDP sticker on the building to suggest that it was done by the UNDP. That is opportunism. And I have directed that every single sticker on this building be taken down. I’m not trying to be controversial. But we do not want a situation whereby the domestic population gets the impression that the government is not making any contribution and that everything is coming from abroad,” he said.

“And by the way, the UNDP is our employee. We employ them to do this. They’re not doing it for free. The people who we are to be grateful to are the donors – the Indian Government, the Chinese Government,” Browne added.

But Lovell told radio listeners that Browne’s behaviour on Friday was “pompous and obnoxious” and questioned whether the intent was to “publicly humiliate everyone.

“Even if [the prime minister] thought he had a point, it’s not the way you deal with it. Call a meeting or pull people aside and you could make your point just as strongly.”

The DNA said the party wanted to “apologise on behalf of the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda for the display by our Prime Minister to the international donor agencies that are here to help us”.


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Expect a significant earthquake at anytime – UWI

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jan. 28, CMC – The Seismic Research Centre at the University of the West Indies St. Augustine campus, says the twin island republic could experience a significant magnitude earthquake at anytime.
earthquakeeAccording to the centre, on Friday there was a burst of earthquakes including moderate magnitude events at 10:40 am, 10:47 am, 4:30 pm and 6:05 pm (local time), occurring west and south-west off Trinidad.
The UWI Seismic Research Centre in a press release said in all, there were nine events.
“The events were located between 10.5°N to 9.6°N and 61.7°W to 62.2°W. The magnitudes ranged from 3.4 to 5.2 and depths were generally shallow, less than 35 km. The earthquakes were reported as lightly felt across western Trinidad. No damage was reported.”
The Centre noted that a significant earthquake might occur in the general area of these events or elsewhere in the vicinity of Trinidad and Tobago, which lies in an area where significant magnitude earthquakes do occur.

“For example, in the general area of today’s events, there were two earthquakes both of magnitude 6.5 in 1935 and 1945. We should, therefore, always be prepared,” the centre said.

All the way north, Montserrat and other islands are alerting residents to Tsunami warnings.

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US Coast Guard

US Coast Guard intercepts vessels with nationals of Haiti and Domincan Republic

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Jan. 10, CMC – Forty undocmented aliens from the Dominican Republic and Haiti were intercepted by the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard and  the Puerto Rico Police Department on the weekendd as they attempted to reach Puerto Rico.

US Coast GuardOn Tuesday, security officials reported that on January 5, border patrol agents detected a vessel without navigational lights moving towards Aguada, Puerto Rico.

The agents coordinated for intercept with the US Coast Guard Command Center, and the PRPD Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA, for its Spanish acronym).

A FURA vessel intercepted a “yola” type vessel approximately four miles off the coast of Aguada, finding total of 12 undocumented migrants; four adult male Dominican Republic nationals, five adult female Dominican Republic nationals and three adult male Haitian nationals.

The group was detained and subsequently transferred to a Coast Guard Cutter.

Upon completing embarkation of 12 aliens ,the cutter crew identified and intercepted a second vessel with 28 subjects on board.

They were all detained and subsequently transferred to another vessel.

Biometric checks were conducted on all subjects and revealed that 10 aliens met the guidelines for prosecution related to prior criminal and immigration violations.

On Monday, the Coast Guard transferred 10 aliens to Border Patrol custody at the Mayaguez Port of Entry. The remaining 29 undocumented aliens were repatriated to the Dominican Republic.

So far this year, Border Patrol Agents have apprehended 89 aliens that have illegally entered or attempted to enter the United States via the Mona Passage.

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Lisa Hanna

CARICOM states urged to address climate change to prevent total annihilation of economies

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Jan. 9, CMC – Member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), have been urged to tackle climate change with courage and realism to prevent total annihilation of their economies.

The plea was made by  a parliamentarian from Jamaican’s main opposition People’s National Party (PNP), Lisa Hanna as she addressed patrons at the 18th annual New Year’s Gala hosted by former Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil L. Douglas.

Lisa Hanna
Lisa Hanna

According to Hanna,   climate change “is real and potentially destructive and a destructive issue for all who call the Caribbean home.”

“Climate change has serious implications for small island developing states in CARICOM and must be tackled with courage and realism. All of us could face a total annihilation of our economies if we do not tackle this fight,” she said.

She referred to the extensive work that former prime minister Douglas and his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party administration did to protect the coastlines in St. Kitts and Nevis when she chaired UNESCO “the resolutions that were moved at the UNSECO by the ambassador for St. Kitts and Nevis on climate change on Small Island Developing States looking at climate change. We supported it and we must not stop supporting these kinds of issues.”

“It says he who feels it knows it and rain do not fall on one man house. Jamaica felt the back to back recent category five hurricanes and this is now a reality for this region,” she said.

The Jamaican politician also recalled Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s emotional pronouncements last year at the UN General Assembly.

“It should serve as a chilling reminder to urgently brace for the 2018 hurricane season. Not because it did not hit Jamaica, we felt ravaged by what we saw in terms of the Eastern Caribbean. When it hits one, it hits all of us,” said Hanna.

“In this fight we must not only survive but we must prevail. There is no other option. We cannot afford to get wiped out,” she said.

Hanna said the Caribbean has to speak with as one voice “if we are going to be globally relevant as countries and as a region.”

“We must have the courage and speak with one voice to bend the reluctance of many of the lending international agencies that will not give us the lower interest concessionary rates to borrow money especially in the aftermath of a hurricane.”

“It cannot be that in this century people looking at the quality of life, only look at the GDP per capita of a country to determine whether or not you must lower interest rates to help our people. It is wrong and CARICOM has to stand up as one voice and say that it is wrong,” she said.

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Barbuda (file photo)

Barbudans one step away from ownership of lands

ST. JOHN’S, St. Antigua, Jan. 6, CMC – After a full day of parliamentary debates and discussion history was created when the Barbuda Land Amendment Bill was passed  this week.

In a statement the government on Friday said the bill, passed Tuesday night, now grants Barbudans “actual, individual ownership of the lands in Barbuda which were previously held as communal land’”.

Barbuda (file photo)
Barbuda (file photo)

“The bill will specifically grant born-Barbudans (Barbudans born on the island) or whose parents were born on Barbuda the opportunity to gain ownership of lands there.”

It said the parliamentary sitting was the first order of the New Year, “and witnessed members of the sitting government detailing the need for this bill to be passed.

“Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his government seeks to develop Barbuda the right way.”

In his presentation, Browne said he wanted Barbudans to “gain a source of capital as they seek to empower themselves and families after the disastrous Hurricane Irma,” according to the statement.

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma ravaged Barbuda, forcing hundreds to be evacuated to Antigua, as almost 90 percent of homes were destroyed, the statement said.

In his New Year’s address, Browne said this move “will unlock the economic potential of the land that had laid fallow for centuries and will provide the citizens of Barbuda with significant economic opportunities, which hitherto, they were denied.”

Both Browne and former Prime Minister Sir Lester Bird “admonished political opponents for their mischievous tactics by arousing fear in Barbudans,” the statement said.

Sir Lester opened the parliamentary debate by reiterating the need for development in Barbuda.

“I am a development guru,” said the former Prime Minister, impressing on parliamentary representatives and onlookers to “sway from those who may seek to misguide.”

Bird then sought to delve into the controversial Barbudan land ownership matter, establishing his stance that Antigua and Barbuda is one unitary state.

“We need to defuse the notion that Barbuda belongs to Barbuda,” he said. “Barbuda belongs to Antigua and Barbuda. We are one country.

“What is Tobago without Trinidad, Carriacou without Grenada, the Grenadines without St. Vincent?” asked Sir Lester. “This is ridiculous now. We are one country.

“We are a unitary state; we cannot have separate rights,” he added.

Attorney General Steadroy Cutie Benjamin placed the issue at hand in a legal and historical framework.

The Attorney General, according to the statement, briefly described the historical definition of communal ownership, stating that there is no evidence in history or on the books which would indicate lands in Barbuda to be communally-owned.

Benjamin said history suggests that the lands were originally leased to the Codringtons and that Barbudans were tenants on the land.

“Barbuda lands have always been crown lands,” he said. “When the Codringtons returned the lease, they were compensated for the chattel, and the lands returned as crown lands. They never held the title for the lands in Barbuda.

“We have to do what is right,” he added. “We cannot allow this type of division, discriminatory division; we are a unitary state.”

The bill now goes to the Upper House (Senate) for debate, the statement said.

Last week, a Guyanese-born author of several books on African and African Diaspora history said the people of Barbuda were not only struggling to recover from the devastation that was brought to the island by Hurricane Irma, but they were also fighting to retain the collective ownership of their land.

“This is a system that has been in place since the abolition of slavery on the island and is currently being threatened by the government of Antigua and Barbuda,” said Dwayne Wong , a contributor for the Huffington Post. “Prime Minister Gaston Browne has argued that, in order to rebuild Barbuda and to improve the island’s economy, it is necessary to change this law.

“The people of Barbuda are concerned that they will lose the control of their land, so that Barbuda can be developed into an island for mass tourism, much as Antigua has been,” added Wong (Omowale), writing last Friday under the caption, “Barbuda and the Land Issue in the Caribbean.”

“As I have pointed out previously, some Antiguans have complained that tourism has become such a dominant feature on the island that the island belongs to the tourists more so than the people who lived there,” he added. “The people of Barbuda fear the same thing will happen to their island as well.”

Wong  said Barbuda’s struggle to retain collective control of the island is “a struggle that has been waged throughout the Caribbean islands, “where the forces of colonialism and neo-colonialism have sought to establish foreign ownership over those lands.”

“I mention all of this to show that the struggle of the people of Barbuda to retain the ownership of their land is a struggle that has been waged and is being waged on other Caribbean islands as well, where foreign powers continue to control the economies and the land of those islands to the exclusion of the locals,” he said.

“Barbuda is unique in that its system of collective land ownership ensures that no one on the island is excluded from owning property or land,” he added.  “If history is a good indicator of what may happen to Barbuda, if this system is overturned, then the people of Barbuda have every right to voice their concerns over what they see as a ‘land grab’ taking place on their island.”

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Massive earthquake jolts Caribbean

TEGUCIGALPA, Jan. 10, CMC –  A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck the Caribbean region between the coast of Honduras and the Cayman Islands late Tuesday – one of the strongest quakes to hit the region in recent times.

earthquakeHonduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said the Central American nation had activated its emergency system and asked people to remain calm.

The earthquake  was also felt across northern Central America,  this prompted the US Tsunami Warning Centre to issue a statement that hazardous tsunami waves were possible within 621 miles of  the quake’s epicentre.

These included the coastal areas of Jamaica, Mexico, Cuba, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Cayman Islands, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

According to  the US Geological Survey, the quake was very shallow and this would have amplified the effect of a tsunami

The US Tsunami Center later cancelled the alert, but warned some parts of  Honduras and Belize were still at risk from waves of  up to a metre.

In Honduras, firefighters said some residents in southern neighborhoods fled their homes after feeling the tremors.

There were no reports of  damage.

The magnitude 7.6 earthquake was one of the strongest ever measured in the region, occurred almost eight years after a 7.0 magnitude quake devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that ninety-two earthquakes were recorded in Jamaica last year.

Scientific Officer at the Earthquake Unit at The University of  the West Indies Mona Campus, Karleen Black, says felt earthquake reports were received for eight events with magnitudes ranging from 3.1 to 3.6.

Speaking at the launch of Earthqukae Awareness Week on Monday, Black said while Jamaica has experienced several tremors, the last major event was the great Kingston earthquake of 1907, which caused more than 1,000 deaths, damaged numerous buildings and started several fires.

The 1692 Port Royal quake was perhaps the largest and most damaging, with about 5,000 deaths from the quake itself and the subsequent outbreak of yellow fever. A section of the town sank into the sea.

Earthquake Awareness Week is being observed from January 7-13 under the theme ‘Preparing for the Quake Helps Reduce Damage After the Shakes’. n

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Caribbean American publication names hurricanes ‘Person of the Year’

NEW YORK,  CMC – A prominent Caribbean American publication here has named Hurricanes Irma and Maria, described as “the two mega, Category 5 hurricanes of 2017,” as its “Person of the Year.”

The Brooklyn-based EVERYBODY’S Magazine, owned and published by Grenadian Herman Hall, said it is the first time the 40-year old publication “selected a phenomenon as its Person of the Year.”

Maria-Irma“It can be said that the numerous and ferocious hurricanes of 2017, Usain Bolt failing to win his final track and field races, and Trinidad and Tobago knocking out the US from entering FIFA World Cup in 2018 were the major 2017 headlines in the Caribbean and within Caribbean communities overseas,” Hall said.

“Maria and Irma may well have affirmed Atilla the Hun’s classic calypso recorded in New York City in 1935, ‘Woman Is Not The Weaker Sex’ and Denise Plumber’s 1988 calypso ‘Woman is Boss’.,” he added. “Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma showed their male counterparts, Hurricanes Harvey, Lee, Jose and Bret, who is really the boss and the stronger sex.

“The handwriting is on the wall, in that Caribbean governments can no longer expect the US to eagerly and generously help them in time of natural disasters,” Hall continued.

In September, Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripped through the northern Caribbean, leaving a trail of destruction and ravaging 12 of 32 countries, according to reports.

Most of the islands affected included Barbuda, Dominica, Puerto Rico, St Kitts and Nevis, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

Hall said previous EVERYBODY’S Magazine “Person of the Year” included St. Lucian Nobel Laureate Sir Arthur Lewis; the late Caribbean American Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, of Barbadian and Guyanese parentage; former Prime Ministers Patrick Manning, of Trinidad and Tobago, Dame Eugenia Charles, of Dominica, Tom Adams, of Barbados, and Baldwin Spencer, of Antigua and Barbuda.

Others were: The Mighty Sparrow, Jamaican-born Olympian and WNBA player Tina Charles; Grenadian Olympian Kirani James; and former West Indies cricket captain Guyanese Clive Lloyd.

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Caribbean countries jolted by minor earthquake

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Dec 30, CMC – An earthquake , measuring 4.7 jolted two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries on Friday night, but there were no reports of injuries or damage.

earthquakeThe Trinidad-based Seismic Research centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies (UWI) said the quake, which occurred at 11.14 pm (local time) was felt 39 kilometres (km) north west of St. John’s in Antigua and Barbuda and 68 km east of Basseterre, the capital of St. Kitts-Nevis.

It was also felt 137 km north-west of the capital of the French island of Guadeloupe.

The SRC said that the quake had a depth of 81 km and was located Latitude: 17.34N, Longitude: 62.12W

On Thursday, the SRC reported that Trinidad and Tobago was jolted by a quake measuring 4.7 and at a depth of 10 km, was also felt in Venezuela.

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