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St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrating 39th anniversary of independence

St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrating 39th anniversary of independence

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Oct 27, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines is celebrating its 39th anniversary of political independence from Britain on Saturday with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves indicating that the country has made “modest’ economic growth over the past year.

Addressing the Military Parade here, Gonsalves said that th3e island’s diversified economy is growing and being placed on a sound footing.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves addressing
the Military parade (CMC Photo)

“Indeed this year, our country is experiencing economic growth albeit it modest following upon marginal to modest economic growth in each of the last seven years.

“At the same time the government’s fiscal condition has improved despite the loss of substantial resources under the PetroCaribe agreement occasioned by the unwise banking and financial sanctions against Venezuela,” Gonsalves said.

PetroCaribe is an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. The alliance was launched on the 29th of June 2005 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. In 2013, PetroCaribe agreed for links with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), to go beyond oil and promote economic cooperation.

Gonsalves told the nation that amidst all the challenges facing the country “we have not gone to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) nor have we sold our citizenship and passport” he said in reference to the move by some Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to lure foreign investors through the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) that allows them to get citizenship in return for making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of their countries.

“Our passports and citizenship are not commodities for sale. We oppose such sale in principle and in practice. I so re-affirm today,” Gonsalves said.

He said that the various sectors of the economy, including the banking, and credit unions “continue to play a significant role in our country’s development.

“Current initiatives by the state sector facilitate and fuel further developmental advance. We see so in the consolidating and expansion of education, health and housing revolution,” he said, noting the new Argyle International Airport is now playing a significant role in the development of the tourism industry.

He said those who had been very critical of the airport were on the losing side “again and again and again” and that the “existing hotel stock is expanding and new hotels and apartments are currently being built”.

He also made reference to the proposed US$145 million modern cargo project and the multi-million dollar plans to re-develop the city.

In his address, Gonsalves said that during the period 2010-17, St. Vincent and the Grenadines suffered losses estimated at EC$700 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) or one third of the gross domestic product (GDP) due to the impact of climate change.

“Climate change is now unfamiliar in time, type and seasonality. Unprecedented in their frequency and intensity and thus urgent beyond measure. Both the pre-existing condition of countries like ours and the immediacy of climate change have given rise to the many sided concept of small state exceptionalism as a category in the global political economy which deserves a special carve out and recognition beyond the traditional rubric hitherto of special and differential treatment,” Gonsalves added.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has extended congratulations to St. Vincent and the Grenadines with Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, saying that  “the chosen theme for this year’s festivities ‘Working together to enhance national pride’ encourages Vincentians to combine their efforts, not only to ensure a prosperous and secure future for the next generation, but also to strengthen their fraternal bonds.

“Prime Minister, the commitment of the government and People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in promoting regional integration, particularly as it relates to the Regional agenda for transport, is most appreciated.

“This is illustrated by the dedicated efforts to ensure that the importance of transport to the sustainable development of the Community remains at the forefront”, LaRocque added.

Gonsalves is the prime minister with lead responsibility for Transportation, Maritime and Aviation in the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet.

“CARICOM looks forward to the continued active engagement of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in strengthening the development of the Community,” the Secretary-General said.

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Prime Minister Mitchell to take witness stand in corruption probe

Prime Minister Mitchell to take witness stand in corruption probe

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Oct 26, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is expected to be among witnesses summoned to testify in a financial wrongdoings and corrupt practices investigation into the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB).

The probe is being undertaken by the Office of Integrity Commission and Mitchell confirmed that he is prepared to be called as a witness.

“Question under oath is coming, they (the Integrity Commission) sought to have resources from us and we were positive to that; They may call me too, but as I say I am prepared to be called to give an idea of my knowledge and information,” Mitchell told reporters, when asked to provide an update on the investigation which was announced in July.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell

As a state-owned enterprise, the MNIB falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance headed by Mitchell.

The Commission was established to ensure that public officials uphold high standards of integrity in the performance of their public functions and to give effect to the provisions of The Inter-American Convention against Corruption. It will assist in improving the standards of good governance, transparency and accountability in government.

In July, Mitchell announced that Cabinet had endorsed a recommendation for a thorough investigation amid revelations of possible inappropriate use of MNIB funds.

Mitchell had also acknowledged that a lot had gone wrong at the MNIB and following the appointment of a new board in March, the then chief executive officer, Ruel Edwards left his job for a new post within the Ministry of Economic Development.

Edwards has since been placed on leave by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the body that contracted him to the post to the new post.

In September, the Integrity Commission said that further to media reports and statements circulating about financial wrongdoings at the MNIB it had commenced investigations into the operations of the board.

Mitchell said that Cabinet will endorse the Commission investigation and will accept its findings.

He told reporters Wednesday that the investigation will be led by “outside legal personnel” and that other government departments were also under investigations by the Commission.

“We have to be honest with ourselves, those who don’t want to admit it that is their business…if we want to say there are not corrupt practice within the public service, the could say so, I know there is corruption in every single Department of Government, that is a fact, it may be at different levels,” he said.

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DSC_3665

DFID to fund next Geothermal phase for Montserrat

Hon. Minister of Energy Paul Lewis

The Department for International Development (DFID) has agreed to fund the next phase in the development of a geothermal power plant on Montserrat.

According to the Hon. Minister of Energy Paul Lewis, the agency will source the funding to engage experts to move the geothermal plant development forward. “This expertise could take the form of a “Client Engineer” that will aid in the formulation of turnkey service for the project,” a release from Lewis’ ministry stated.

Minister Lewis shared that the client engineer is expected to have experience in public private partnerships as it is the proposed way the plant is to be developed. The engineer would be responsible to guide the development of the Montserrat Geothermal Plant Project.

He added that his ministry’s data gathering has revealed that it is possible to get a cheaper cost of power delivery to the consumer and they want to ensure that the public receives the best price on the market.

In August, the minister informed that his team met with their DFID counterparts on August 28 to finalise the Report of the Early Market Engagement (EME), announced at a press conference on January 23, this year. In attendance at the meeting were Permanent Secretary, Beverley Mendes, Energy Advisor Owen Lewis, and DFID representatives Moira Marshall, Allan Clarkin and Iftikhar Ahmad.

According to the press statement released on Wednesday, “there was a common consensus that the Early Market Engagement process was a success. There is a clear indication of interest in Montserrat’s geothermal prospects based on the number of well qualified geothermal players that participated in the exercise. It was further recognized that the current wells developed through investments provided by the UK Government has aided the advancement of Montserrat’s quest for geothermal energy.”

The EME proposed scope of works included, design, engineering, procurement, construction and partial financing services for Montserrat Geothermal 2.5 – 3.5 MW Plant Development.

Minister Lewis said the EME was an attempt to inform and engage the market and secure information.

“All parties were in agreement that the main concept behind the drive for the Geothermal project was to establish economic growth for Montserrat. It is therefore paramount that there is an attractive energy tariff rate to create investors interest in the island and for the local consumers to help improve their standards of living. Both the Government of Montserrat and DFID team have established action points that were agreed in the meeting. These action points will continue to drive the realization of geothermal energy,” said the release.

Meanwhile, a final agreement to complete drilling and short-term testing of Mon 3 has not yet been completed with the Iceland Drilling Company (IDC). No word on why the negotiations are still ongoing, as this has been the status since the start of the year.

A final decision on DFID funding contribution of the proposed geothermal plant has not been communicated to the government to date. Both parties have agreed to form a working group to determine how the geothermal project will proceed.

However, news of the positive sounds for the future movement on the six-year-old geothermal project have been met with criticism that the project has fallen this far behind. The argument says that there was a funding agreement in principle in 2014. That the project would have produced at minimum the base load with the new Genset as a backup. The information said that a third well was agreed at that time which would have allowed for expansion to at least 4.5MW production using two production wells and the third being for reinjection.

That information was highlighted, but in a different way during the ‘no confidence motion’ in Parliament this week, when Minister Paul Lewis said that the idea or the decision to acquire a 1.5 genset was a mistake, even though the idea and the need may have been a good one. He was challenged for not providing the facts, but countered that there was no knowledge at the time with the generators in use were constantly failing, when geothermal would have been in operation.

The unfortunate situation is that the new genset seemed up to now to be like ‘a lemon’ since as this report is written, it is with a sigh of relief, we say there hasn’t been any regular power outage over the past couple weeks.

Posted in Energy, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

CCJ President - Justice Saunders

CCJ President perplexed at Caribbean people’s non acceptance of regional court

Staff writer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 20, CMC – President of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of

CCJ President – Justice Saunders

Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders, says after 50 years of political independence,  he remains perplexed that Caribbean people are still finding “excuses” in support of the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.

Justice Saunders, who will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) later on Saturday, said that he remains confident that like other regional institutions, the CCJ will be embraced by all the people of the Caribbean.

“I remain confident that, as is the case with, for example, The Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Examinations Council, and of course The University of the West Indies, to name just a few, the time will come when the CCJ also will be recognised as another of those Caribbean institutions whose vital contribution to the region can almost be taken for granted,” he told a dinner here on  Friday night on behalf of his fellow graduand Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana and Professor of Entomology at the Department of Animal Biology and Conservation Science.

The CCJ was established in 2001 to replace the Privy Council as the region’s final court. But while all the Caribbean countries have signed on to the Court’s Original Jurisdiction, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are signatories to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the Court that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement, CARICOM.

Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada will hold national referendums on November 6 on whether or not to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ.

Justice Saunders told the ceremony that it is vital for Caribbean people with their fractured experiences over the past four centuries to have self-belief.

“A clear sense of ourselves. An understanding of our worth as human beings and of our ability to forge our own destiny…

“It is perplexing to me, for example, that so many people in the region contrive to find excuse upon excuse to justify the anomaly that, after 50 years of political independence, the laws that we proudly make should ultimately be interpreted and applied by a British institution, staffed with British judges all of whom reside in Britain.

“This, after CARICOM states, over 15 years ago, established their own Court, precisely to serve that purpose. This, after US$100 million was spent to guarantee that Court’s sustainability. This, after the Court, has successfully been operating for well over 10 years serving the needs of some States. “

He said that when he tries to explain this to his colleagues from Asia, Africa and Latin America, as he is sometimes obliged to do at judicial colloquia “this ceases to be an anomaly.

“In the face of the incredulity expressed by my colleagues, it becomes an embarrassment linked directly to our perception of ourselves and the level of confidence we have in our capacity to take full responsibility for our own governance…”

Justice Saunders, the third Caribbean national after Trinidadian Michael de La Bastide and St. Kitts-Nevis national Sir Dennis Byron to head the Trinidad-based CCJ, said “I temper my perplexity, I look to the future and I remain confident.

“I remain confident that our institutions of learning, and UWI in particular, will rise to the challenge of inspiring our students with the notion that Caribbean people are inferior to no one; that we do have the capacity to govern ourselves, to build and maintain worthy institutions;

“That we are able to and that we do produce the human resources effectively to manage such bodies; that these institutions, when locally established, work for us in ways in which no others can; and that if we observe carefully, objectively, we will see these truths demonstrated over and over again. Yes, I remain confident.”

In his address, Justice Saunders said the UWI, after 70 years in operation, has every right to be proud of its achievements.

“Its student enrolment has grown from a few dozen persons when it opened its doors in Mona in 1948 to tens of thousands at the present time. More importantly, UWI alumni now occupy leading positions in all fields of life, in all professions, in the region.

“It is fair to say that the realisation of the dreams and aspirations of the people of the Caribbean Community, in large measure, rest with those who have graduated this institution,” the CCJ President said.

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines born jurist said that while it is a huge credit to the university with main campuses in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica, “it also generates enormous expectations, especially in the context of the times in which we live.

“This is the age where information has never before been as accessible as it is today. The ability to publish information to millions of persons has never been easier. That ability can be a powerful force for good. It makes it possible for all of humanity, instantly, to be mobilised behind the most impactful endeavours.

“But the opposite is also possible. Nameless, faceless publishers, with hidden agendas, can manipulate public opinion, sometimes with tremendous political, economic and social consequences. Innocent recipients of information have the greatest difficulty distilling truth from falsehood; sincerity from deliberate deception; democracy from populism.”

Justice Saunders said that in the face of these realities, “it behoves all of us, but especially institutions of higher learning, to prepare present and succeeding generations to rally around eternal core human values.

“Truth, Compassion, Cooperation, Caring, Courtesy, Peace, Empathy, Hard honest labour … These are values we must safeguard and promote if we are to take full advantage of the rich bounty the information revolution makes available to us,” he said, paying “tribute to the tutelage and guidance that I and so many others have received from the eminent faculty that have taught at the University”.

 

Posted in CARICOM, Court, International, Legal, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

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A Motion – Wasting the people’s time of confidence, importance and business

Former agriculture minister Claude Hogan

Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne set the opening of parliament to take place, successfully, on a somewhat grand scale on Tuesday, October 23 in the Sir George Martin Auditorium at the Montserrat Cultural Centre. She sought to give some prominence by holding the opening against any competing matter of the house by dedicating the day to just the opening, especially with the knowledge that the first sitting after that would include the (strange, if not ill-conceived) motion of a vote of no confidence.

Speaker Osborne had asked for and looked forward to hosting a full house at the Opening Ceremony of the Parliamentary year 2018-2019, in her continuing attempt to bring (back) long lost interest in the proceedings of the newly named eight-year old Legislative Assembly (LegAss), known before that as the Legislative Council (LegCo).

The sitting therefore set to begin on the following day Wednesday, got underway with a full membership minus PDM Government backbencher Claude Hogan, who by the way, could be considered the most senior legislator having begun his political career since 2001. On a side 2001 was the first year that the Premier Romeo had sought to show his interest in a political career.

Hon. Dr Ingrid Buffonge

Speaker Osborne, who has very early and since been trying to lift the standard of the proceedings in the house, but perhaps to her own style found early at the beginning of the session she might have discord and poor behavior from some of our far from esteemed legislators, the reason in the first place certain matters appeared on the agenda for the sitting.

She was faced right away with a motion to bring forward the motion of no confidence to the  beginning of the order of business. That began a show of ignorance and incompetence to some degree among members and some no doubt to her own difficulties of trying to be firm and liberal. The motion was defeated when the ‘ex-officio members’ (non-elected) were able to vote.

So, the order paper remained as is and the more important matters, if only for relevance and importance proceeded.

Premier Donaldson Romeo

But with some interest, not surprisingly supposedly among the public of Montserrat at the end of the second day of the sitting and the arrival of Hon Hogan, Premier Donaldson Romeo (the government) from all appearance seemed to have staved off an attempt by disgruntled opposition legislators (old and new) to bring down his administration when a key government backbencher indicated that he had no intention of supporting a vote of no confidence in Romeo’s four-year-old administration.

Former agriculture minister Claude Hogan, it is felt in some quarters held the key to the survival of the government that faced an uphill task to complete its first five-year term, but when the debate on the motion was adjourned late Thursday night to Monday, Hogan had already made his position known to legislators.

“We should withdraw the vote of no confidence.  If you want to change the premier there is a way to do it,” said Hogan.

The government hold a slim one seat majority in the nine-member Legislative Assembly and political observers had expected Hogan, who was dismissed by Romeo last year, to have sided with the opposition that included two former members of the ruling People’s Democratic Movement (PDM).

Premier Romeo has not yet made his contribution to the debate, but Hogan said while he had been disappointed when he was fired, “after a year I can’t remember what happened”.

Moreover, Hogan said he still intends to contest his present seat in the next general election, adding that the vote of no confidence is nothing more than an early start to the 2019 general election campaign.

Earlier, Dr. Ingrid Buffonge, a former member of the ruling PDM, who piloted the motion of no confidence, likened the situation to a “day of history” for Montserrat.

She said she also wanted to inform legislators, foreign investors and other stakeholders interested in the development of the volcano-ravaged British Overseas Territory that the motion does not signal “political instability” here.

“My colleagues in opposition and myself as well as others who will be elected in the next general election, and I do speak for some of them no, after four years of getting things so terribly wrong we pledge to get it right.”

She said encouraging and supporting foreign direct investment, encouraging local investors, assisting local producers with exporting the Montserrat product, securing capital projects, building equipping and appropriately staffing a new hospital   “are among the reasons behind the motion.

“In bringing this motion, I am simply fulfilling the will of the people who live on this island. A people who knows what happens in a place when you speak out against the government,” she said, adding that “people are afraid of losing their jobs and being victimised in other ways.

She said while she had sympathy for Premier Romeo this does not translate to support for his policies.

“She said he had failed to secure capital projects for the island, “his acceptance of a port project that will push as much development as the little airport that we have, his one-track mind focus on securing aid money instead of promoting investment all show his lack of vision and leave the people of this country feeling hungry.

“He claims he wants more control to be given to his government by the British government, but I ask what is it he wants more control of,” she asked.

Buffonge, who received the second highest number of votes in the September 2014 elections on the PDM slate, resigned from the party a year later and two weeks ago, called for the resignation of Health Minister Delmaude Ryan.

But Ryan told legislators that the debate was nothing more than a personal attack on her and that the government was doing its best to ensure the development of the health sector.

In his contribution, Hogan said that “we can’t make a political issue of the health sector” adding that no one has come up with a solution to the governance of Montserrat.

“Everybody should behave and try to foster a proper democracy,” he added.

Former junior minister, Gregroy Willock, who resigned from the government and the party and government earlier this month, nonetheless predicted that the vote at the end of the motion will be a 7-2 in favour of the opposition.

‘When we done it will be history and it will be a very significant day,” he added.

The 2014 general election was a victory for the newly established PDM, which was formed by Romeo on April 30 that year, in order to contest the elections.

The party defeated the then ruling Movement for Change and Prosperity, the Alliance of Independent Candidates and 10 other independents.

Much of the meanderings that went on including at least one opposition member saying he was not going to support the motion, but will after hearing some government members; reminding that it was not the two MCAP members who lead the opposition bench that brought the motion; reports that one member sitting on the opposition benches on more than one occasion pointed a hand as if shooting a gun at a member or members, on the other side of the house.

All of this really showed that the motion of no confidence in the first instance only served to show some of these members interested only in their own self-interest and well-being, and not fit to be representatives of the people’s interests and business.

There was at least one instance the Speaker was known to say to the members, “let’s have a time out,” “take a time out” or words to that effect. Earlier on Tuesday there was dead air (ZJB even cut the broadcast) as she waited for members to begin debating the motion after it was moved and seconded.

It is obvious as it has been throughout that the eventual possibility of a rushed election what ever the outcome of the vote, is not in the interest of the island, much more some of the members and particularly those bring the motion.

Posted in International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Hawaiian Island Vanishes Overnight

It is slowly being accepted, the term ‘Climate Change’ with the further acceptance of the scientific explanation that earth continues to evolve. Makes for interesting education, discussions and debates, especially among students, scientists and yes, politicians. What is real is that ‘preparations’ must take place to deal with the effects on mankind.

LiveScience

A hurricane has wiped a Hawaiian island completely off the map.

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East Island, a tiny speck of land in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in northwest Hawaii, was washed away by Hurricane Walaka on Oct. 3 and 4, Honolulu Civic Beat reported Tuesday (Oct. 23). The island had been a critical nesting site for threatened Hawaiian green sea turtlesand critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals, biologists told the news organization. 

“There’s no doubt that it was the most important single islet for sea turtle nesting,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) biologist Charles Littnan told Civic Beat.

East Island was a mere 11 acres (0.04 square kilometers) in area. Between 1944 and 1952, it hosted a small Coast Guard station, but the island has otherwise been a haven for wildlife, ranging from albatross to turtles and seals. Satellite imagery has confirmed the island’s demise, but a marine debris team will be headed to the area to survey the damage this week, the Civic Beat reported.

Researchers told Civic Beat that the island’s seals and turtles had left the island after their breeding season but before the hurricane struck. It’s unclear, so far, whether they’ll find a new haven on one of the nearby shoals.

“Species are resilient up to a point,” Littnan told Civic Beat. “But there could be a point in the future where that resilience isn’t enough anymore.”

The Hawaiian green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) is a genetically distinct species of green sea turtle found almost exclusively around Hawaii, according to NOAA. They are legally protected under Hawaiian law and the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and those protections have resulted in a 53 percent increase in population since the late 1970s. Their primary nesting grounds are the French Frigate Shoals, including the former East Island.

The Hawaiian monk seals (Neomonachus schauinslandi), which used East Island as breeding grounds, are in a more precarious position. These seals are found only in Hawaii, and despite their protections as a critically endangered species, their numbers are still declining, according to NOAA. Only about 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals are left in the wild, NOAA estimates. A couple hundred of those call the French Frigate Shoals home, Littnan told Civic Beat. And of those, about 30 percent were born on East Island.

The shoal was the victim of bad luck, given the storm’s direct hit. But researchers told Civic Beat that Walaka was strengthened by warmer-than-average ocean waters, a trend scientists predict will only worsen as the globe warms.

Originally published on Live Science.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Climate/Weather, Environment, Hurricane, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

US Coast Guard repatriates Dominican and Haitian migrants

US Coast Guard repatriates Dominican and Haitian migrants

 
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Oct 21,  CMC – The United States Coast Guard says the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez   have repatriated 12 Dominicans and returned two Haitians to Dominican authorities following the interdiction of a migrant vessel in the Caribbean Seas off Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

The US Coast Guard said the interdiction is the result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).

Two of the interdicted male migrants are Dominican Republic nationals, who are facing potential federal criminal immigration charges in Puerto Rico for attempted illegal re-entry into the United States, the Coast Guard said.

“The outstanding work by the Coast Guard and our interagency partners focused on humanitarian efforts and preventing loss of life at sea,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rafael Battle, US Coast Guard Heriberto Hernandez commanding officer.

“The Mona Passage is a volatile waterway with heavy seas,” he added. “Transiting on dangerously overloaded and unseaworthy vessels poses large risk to anyone making the journey from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico.

“Fortunately, we discovered and saved 16 people before they encountered other potential dangers,” Battle continued.

The Coast Guard said during a routine patrol of the Mona Passage Thursday night, the crew of a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft detected a “grossly overloaded 25-foot migrant boat transiting without navigational lights,” about 10 nautical miles north of Mona Island.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan diverted the Heriberto Hernandez to interdict the vessel, the Coast Guard said, adding that the crew of the Heriberto Hernandez arrived on scene, stopped the boat and safely embarked all 16 migrants; 14 Dominican Republic nationals, 10 men and 4 women, and two Haitian men.

The US Coast Guard said Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents in Puerto Rico received custody of the two migrants facing prosecution, while the Heriberto Hernandez later rendezvoused with a Dominican Republic navy vessel and transferred custody of the remaining migrants to Dominican Republic authorities.

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Body of school girl found three days after being reported missing

Body of school girl found three days after being reported missing

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Oct 22, CMC – A human rights and advocacy group Monday called for more protection for children as a junior government minister condemned as “cruel, inhumane and barbaric” the murder of a 14-year old secondary school student.

The authorities said that the mutilated body of 14-year-old Raven Wilson, a third form student of Ocho Rios High School in St Ann, was found in a plastic bag, metres away from her home on Sunday, three days after she had been reported missing.

“I am seriously disturbed by the killing of yet another promising young girl, whose life was cut short by cold and heartless criminals. There is simply no justification for such cruelty against our children. The level of violence being meted out against them needs to stop, because it is robbing them of their right to life,” Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green, said in a statement.

He said that there seems to be a worrying trend in the recent spate of child murders with the perpetrators dismembering their victims.

“We want to send a clear message to these perpetrators that there will absolutely be no safe haven for them. We continue to work assiduously with the police, and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring they are brought to justice,” Green said, urging the community to come forward with any information that can assist the police with their investigations.

The human rights group, Hear The Children’s Cry is calling for the prosecution of persons involved in carrying out criminal acts on children.

In a statement condemning the murder of Wilson, the group said “we have not even gone ten months of the year and nearly 40 children have already been murdered during 2018. That is double the usual gruesome annual statistic.

The truth is, children in Jamaica are at terrible peril and are at the mercy of vicious criminals on a daily basis. They are not safe in their homes, they are not safe at school, they are in danger in their communities and on the roads, they are at horrible risk on public transportation, not to mention being vulnerable targets of paedophiles when they are online,” said the organisation’s founder Betty Ann Blaine.

She repeated an earlier call for the government to convene an Emergency Child Summit to devise a plan to protect the nation’s children.

“For two years now, Hear The Children’s Cry has been asking Prime Minister Andrew Holness to convene an Emergency Child Summit to take practical steps to protect the nation’s children and safeguard their lives. After meeting with me, the Prime Minister asked us to prepare a detailed proposal outlining the objectives and format of the Summit, which would call together all stakeholders to enact urgent solutions.

“The proposal was submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister in 2017 and yet month after month has gone by with no word from the country’s leader, despite our repeated calls for action from him,” Blaine said.

Meanwhile, the ministry said a team of first responders from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) will visit the Ocho Rios High School to conduct counselling sessions with affected children, followed by a home visit during the course of the week.

Wilson’s death followed the killings of Shanoya Wray and Yetanya Francis, both 14, in the Corporate Area last month.

Posted in Crime, Education, International, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi journalist’s body parts found, say Sky sources

Reports the writer’s “cut up” remains were found in the garden of the Saudi consul’s house, are “deeply disturbing”, says No 10.

Jamal Khashoggi
Image: Jamal Khashoggi’s remains were reportedly found in the garden of the Saudi consul’s official residence
By Alex Crawford, special correspondent, in Istanbul

Body parts belonging to murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi have been found, according to two Sky sources.

The sources have told Sky News the Saudi dissident had been “cut up” and his face “disfigured”.

One source also suggested the writer’s remains were discovered in the garden of the Saudi consul general’s Istanbul home – located around 500 metres away from the consulate.

It contradicts the explanation being made by Saudi officials that the body was rolled up in a carpet and handed to a local collaborator who was tasked with disposing of the evidence.

:: Jamal Khashoggi: How journalist met his death

Image: Jamal Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate on 2 October

Theresa May’s spokesman said reports of Mr Khashoggi’s body parts being found were “deeply disturbing”.

“The location of Mr Khashoggi’s body is just one of the questions we need answers to and as such we await the full results of the Turkish investigation,” he said.

In a day of fast-moving developments in the case:

:: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Mr Khashoggi’s killing a premeditated “murder”

:: Mr Erdogan demanded Saudi officials reveal the whereabouts of Mr Khashoggi’s body

:: The dissident’s son met Saudi ruler, King Salman and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh

:: Turkish media said Mr Khashoggi’s belongings were found in suitcases in a Saudi consulate car

:: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was “deeply concerned” to hear Mr Erdogan call it a premeditated murder.

President Erdogan says there can be no cover-up in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi 1:48
Video: Erdogan demands answers in Khashoggi case

In a speech to the country’s parliament, Turkey’s president Erdogan demanded Saudi Arabia hold those responsible to account and asked: “Why has the body of someone who was officially said to be killed not been found yet?”

He did not mention an alleged audio recording that Turkish authorities claim to have of Mr Khashoggi’s death that supposedly confirms he was tortured, killed, had his fingers cut off and was dismembered.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih says 'nobody can justify or explain' the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi 1:14
Video: Saudi minister on ‘abhorrent incident’

The apparent discovery of Mr Khashoggi’s body parts – and Mr Erdogan’s version of events based on what he described as “new evidence and information” – both contradict Saudi Arabia’s explanation for his death.

It has said Mr Khashoggi died in a “fist fight” at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

3:03
Video: ‘Saudi double disguised as Khashoggi’

Mr Khashoggi was a known critic of the Saudi government and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Turkish president, who had promised the “naked truth” about the killing, did not mention the crown prince in his speech, though officials linked to the royal have been implicated in it.

CCTV shows 'suspicious movement' with Saudi consulate cars.
0:46
Salah Khashoggi, Jamal Khashoggi's son, meets Mohammed Bin Salman. Pic: Saudi Press Association 0:25

Video: Khashoggi’s son meets Saudi royals
Mr Khashoggi’s brother, Sahel, was also at the meeting at which the king and crown prince expressed their condolences over the Washington Post columnist’s death.

A family friend told the AP news agency that Salah Khashoggi had been under a travel ban and barred from leaving the kingdom since last year as a result of his father’s criticism of the regime.

Saudi authorities have not confirmed the restrictions.

Investigators search suitcases and possessions believed to belong to Jamal Khashoggi
Image: Investigators search suitcases and possessions believed to belong to Jamal Khashoggi

In Turkey media reports that could not be verified said investigators had found Mr Khashoggi’s belongings in a number of suitcases found in a Saudi consulate vehicle in a car park in Istanbul.

Local broadcaster Ahaber aired video showing crime scene investigators searching what appeared to be the contents of cases.

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  • ‘Naked truth’: Turkey to reveal findings into death of Jamal Khashoggi

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Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted he was “deeply concerned” to hear Mr Erdogan describe the Saudi dissident’s murder as premeditated.

“The world is still waiting for answers,” he wrote. Shortly after Mr Erdogan’s address, King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued a statement pledging to hold Mr Khashoggi’s killers to account “no matter who they may be”.

Saudi Arabia has said the heir-apparent of the world’s top oil exporter was not involved, but any major decision must be signed off by the highest powers within its ruling Al Saud family.

It came as video was released showing a meeting between the journalist’s son, Salah Khashoggi, the Gulf kingdom’s ruler, King Salman, and crown prince Mohamed bin Salman, at the Yamama Palace in Riyadh.

 

 

Posted in Crime, Featured, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

PM to seek Cabinet approval for flood relief funds

PM to seek Cabinet approval for flood relief funds

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct. 21, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley says he will approach Cabinet for funds to help with flood relief.

Rowley was speaking during a joint media conference on Saturday

“I would speak ahead of the Cabinet here and indicate that I would ask Cabinet to approve and authorize TT$25 million initially to assist persons who may require assistance from the treasury. We will ensure that this money is well spent and is spent as quickly as possible on those persons who have been affected,” he said.

Heavy rainfall over the last few days have resulted in widespread flooding across Trinidad and Tobago.

“This is a national disaster, the flooding is quite widespread and quite severe and it is going to cost a lot of money to bring relief to people who have been affected. Notwithstanding whatever shortages we are experiencing we will have to find the resources to help,”   Rowley said after touring some of the affected areas.

According to the Prime Minister, the Defence Force, especially the Coast Guard and Fire Service have been using small boats going streets to reach residents stranded in their homes.

Meanwhile, there are no re­ports of fa­tal­i­ties as a re­sult of the floods in sections of the twin island republic.

During a press conference on Saturday, National Security Minister   Stu­art Young  made the state­ment in reference to information being circulated on  so­cial me­dia.

He told reporters that  fake in­for­ma­tion be­ing cir­cu­lat­ed on­line has caused first re­spon­ders to di­vert at­ten­tion from af­fect­ed ar­eas.

Young has also mobilised    the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) to conduct an aerial reconnaissance .

The ODPM says the adverse weather situation will continue until Sunday and urged motorists to seek alternative routes where possible and be extremely vigilant of rising flood waters.

“The ODPM appeals to all persons to take the necessary precautions to preserve life and property,” it said, adding that people should also desist from driving or walking through flood waters.

“Vehicles do not provide adequate protection from flood waters. Vehicles can be swept away or may stall in flood waters,” the agency said.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Climate/Weather, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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