Pembroke Pines water safe to drink Pembroke Pines city officials hope an upcoming meeting will shed light on the health department’s position on the city’s water quality.The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the City Commission chambers at 10100 Pines Blvd.“The mayor has called this special meeting because he wants to hear directly from the Florida Department of Health in person about what their advisory means, in the most layman’s of terms, and whether or not there should be any concern,” the city manager’s office said in a statement Tuesday.The state health department took issue with a February 23 letter from the city, in which the city said the water was safe to drink.In a letter to Pembroke Pines, the health department said at the end of 2016, half of the city’s six sampling sites had higher levels of trihalomethanes than allowed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trihalomethanes form when water disinfectants, such as chlorine, react with organic material in water.One sample site remains above the limit, meaning the city is still in violation of the regulation, the health department said. A health department spokesman said the City Commission requested Wednesday’s meeting to publicly answer questions about the violations and the quality of the water.The city says the situation is not an emergency and water does not require boiling at this point, but said people who are pregnant, elderly or have a severely compromised immune system should consult a doctor before drinking the water.
The Antigua and Barbuda government says investigations will be done to ascertain whether any former government minister should be charged in connection with a bribery scandal involving a former United Nations based diplomat.Information Minister Melford Nicholas told reporters following Friday’s weekly Cabinet meeting that the Gaston Browne administration had received diplomatic notes from the United States indicating “that there has been clear breaches of Antiguan law dealing with money laundering and racketeering.“This is certainly a matter that the Gaston Browne administration sees as grave,” he told reporters.In October 2015, John Ashe, the former president of the United Nations General Assembly, pleaded not guilty to criminal charges of filing fraudulent income tax returns and evading tax payments to the US government on more than US$1.3 million he is accused of receiving in bribes dating to 2011, which the US has traced.Ashe, the Antigua and Barbuda diplomat, died while awaiting trial.Court records state that a complaint had been brought by the United States attorney for the Southern District, charging the former diplomat, who once served as president of the United Nations General Assembly between 2013-14 and five others, including a billionaire developer from the Chinese territory of Macau.The complaint alleges that the five, including billionaire Ng Lap Seng, also known as David Ng, paid bribes to the former Antigua and Barbuda diplomat in exchange for “benefits from the UN and the government of Antigua and Barbuda”.Among the allegations are that Ashe “accepted over US$500,000 of bribes” facilitated by three of the defendants — Ng, Jeff C Yin and Francis Lorenzo — in an effort to build “a multi-billion dollar, Serious implications Browne had said then that the incident had “serious implications for the country and that the United States can be assured of his administration’s support”.Nicholas told reporters Friday that while the administration had not adhered to a request from Washington to waive Ashe’s diplomatic status, those people residing here implicated in the scandal might not be so lucky.“Based on what has been uncovered in the United States courts….I think it behooves us to do the right thing to ensure that we too undertake the necessary investigations internally.“As such the Attorney General has been asked to refer the file that we have received from the United States courts to the Director of Public Prosecutions for him to make a determination in respect of where we go from here,” Nicholas said.
For the third time in Grenada’s history, the New National Party (NNP), led by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, has completely swept the polls. In the general elections held in that country on Tuesday, the NNP secured all 15 parliamentary seats.From the reaction of Grenadian-Americans in Central and South Florida, the results of the election is most welcomed.“Even Mitchell’s opponents would agree that this man and his government has been doing progressive things for Grenada,” said Merlene Bishop of Kissimmee. “I left my country in the mid 60’s after the 1983 uprising and vowed never to go back But from the strides the NNP government has made over the past four ear I am ready to return.”Linton Young of Port St Lucie comments were brief, but nonetheless pointed. “The Mitchell government didn’t break anything so why change it. Put them all back.”In accepting victory, Mitchel called n the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to be part of the social partners that will chart the way forward for the tri-island state.“It feels good,” the returning prime minister said after the preliminary results showed that the party had swept all the seats in Parliament. “The people of my country has shown the level of confidence in the way I have governed, it is a humbling experience.” “Whatever achievement we have had I first have to give thanks to Almighty God and the people of this country,” Mitchell said, adding that the election was the “most stress free I have ever had in my 34 years in politics.Mitchell said that unlike 2013 when he won the general election and had no idea as to the state of the local economy, this time around, “I don’t feel the pressure because I am in the seat and I know what the plans are.“Therefore, I feel very confident I will meet the aspirations of the people of this country,” he said, noting however that “to whom a lot is given, a lot is expected.”Mitchell easily won the St. George North West seat which he has been representing for more than three decades, defeating the NDC’s Alli Anthony Brian Dowden by a 2546 to 406 margin.Mitchell sought to dispel the notion that the clean sweep would result in the government having a free hand in running the affairs of the country.“You can’t ignore that 20,000 people voted against you…the task is to bring that element into the decision-making process,” he said, reiterating his call for the NDC to join the social partners in “dealing with the problems of the country.”Leader of the NDC, Nazim Burke, who led the party into an election for the first time, failed to win his seat.A national rally was scheduled to be held on Wednesday to celebrate the victory of the NNP.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) foreign ministers will meet in the Bahamas this week to discuss the region’s ongoing relations with the United States, and the region’s engagement with the United Kingdom after Britain leaves the European Union.The May 7-8 meeting of the of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) will be chaired by Bahamas Foreign Affairs Minister Darren A. Henfield.A statement from the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said that the meeting will also discuss CARICOM-Canada relations and cooperation with multilateral organizations including The Commonwealth, the United Nations, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).“This meeting will underscore the synergies between Foreign Policy Coordination and Human and Social Development with the Ministers discussing CARICOM’s position on the development of an International Legally-Binding Instrument on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction,” the Secretariat said. It added that attention will also be given to issues relating to reducing CARICOM’s vulnerability to disaster risks and the effects of climate change, resilience financing and sustainable debt management.Health related issues including the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis in September, and matters concerning the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are also on the agenda.The ministers will discuss a proposal by St. Vincent and the Grenadines regarding the negotiations for a new agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group and the European Union to replace the Cotonou Agreement that expires in 2020.The Secretariat said that the meeting will also discuss the region’s participation in the upcoming meetings of the G7 and G20 group of countries as well as the various border issues within the 15-member grouping.
Jamaica recorded its best ever summer tourism performance this year with more than 1.3 million visitors visiting the island. The information was provided by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett on Wednesday.4.4 percent increase He told a news conference that 1,312,494 visitors came to the island between May and August this year, an increase of 4.4 per cent over the same period last year.“I am pleased to inform you that we continue to see stopover arrivals trending upwards,” Bartlett told reporters, adding “we had an excellent summer period from May to August with provisional estimates showing stopover arrivals up by six percent over the same period last year.“That’s is 884,324 visitors compared to the 834,292 in 2017,” Bartlett said, noting that for the January to August period, estimates indicate that Jamaica welcomed 2,955,007 visitors, a 4.7 increase over the same period last year.The figures show that of that number, there were 1,714,060 stopover arrivals and 1,240,947 cruise visitors.“If we continue with these robust arrival figures to year end, then for the third consecutive year, the growth of Jamaica’s tourism sector would have exceeded the projected 5 percent annual growth,” Bartlett told reporters.
FRISCO, Texas, CMC – Two first half goals were enough to hand Haiti a 2-0 victory over Nicaragua and a spot in the next round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup but Bermuda were once again made to pay for their wastefulness as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Costa Rica here Thursday night.In the first game of the doubleheader at Toyota Stadium, Steeven Saba netted in the 22nd minute and Derrick Etienne in the 34th, as Haiti marched to their second win in Group B.Saba scored from the edge of the 15-yard box, driving a low shot through a cluster of defenders after being fed by Duckens Nazon from a central position.And Etienne doubled the French side’s advantage when he worked his way around the box and shot from 10 yards out, the ball taking a deflection off Manuel Rosas before finding its way into the back of the nets.The victory took Haiti to six points and second in the group to Costa Rica only on goal difference.Bermuda, meanwhile, started strongly and like in their opener against Haiti last Sunday, failed to cash in on the opportunities they created.Willie Clemons blasted wide from eight yards after being set up by Reggie Lambe in the 16th minute and Lambe had a great chance just three minutes later from close range but was denied by a low save from goalkeeper Leonel Moreira.George then put Costa Rica ahead against the run of play in the 30th minute, stabbing home a rebound after goalkeeper Dave Eve had saved from Celso Borges, following Elias Aguilar’s corner kick.And it was Aguilar who doubled the lead with a powerful left-footed volley from just inside the left corner of the 15-yard box in the 54th minute.England-based striker Nahki Wells halved the deficit for Bermuda from the spot in the 59th minute but the Caribbean side failed to find the precious equaliser.
While the ongoing travel restrictions, limits on social gatherings, and the fear of contagion prevented the annual festival from being held at the usual venue of Catherine Hall, Montego Bay, the promoters of the event were not outdone. Although it was not the traditional way to celebrate Jamaica’s entertainers, the event was well-received across by Jamaicans on social media. Jamaica’s minister of Entertainment, Sport, Gender and Culture, Olivia “Babsy” Grange congratulated the RFeggae Sumfest team and the performers following the event. “If anything, COVID-19 has demonstrated that, in order to remain relevant, we must be able to meet challenges head-on and we must rethink our models,” said DownSound CEO Joe Bogdanovich leading up to the week of activities. Reggae and dancehall’s tip acts took the stage, not in front of a live audience, but via livestream on Youtube and other social media platforms. At the end of the festival, nine-time reggae Grammy nominee Third World was presented with the Reggae Sumfest Lifetime Achievement Award, for their over 40 years of dedication to reggae music. The opening night, on Friday, July 24, saw performances from old school duos Chaka Demus and Pliers and Tanto Metro and Devonte, with new school dancehall acts Ding Dong, Agent Sasco and Shenseea, among others. The second and final night closed the festival with performances from Tarrus Riley, Gyptian, Maxi Priest, Koffee, and Freddie McGregor, with the legendary Sizzla closing the show. Koffee performing at Reggae Sumfest 2020 The coronavirus pandemic did not put a damper on Jamaica’s Reggae Sumfest, which took place virtually, over the weekend.
TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands – The economy of this British Overseas territory, seems to be on the rebound, despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. CMC The Premier said the initiative is in an effort to “be able to bring our people along economically; even in the midst of COVID-19″. This, he said, will be done while being mindful of the country’s expenditure; considering the revenues lost so far. He also said his administration would soon unveil new areas designed to increase revenue streams in the territory. This was revealed by Premier and Finance Minister Andrew Fahie as he made a statement in Parliament recently. “We have to be vigilant and we have to also have to move towards the new initiatives. Many of them we have passed already, many more to come, and many more to be announced.” “One of them I could say for sure I’ll be announcing is some of the adjustments we have made in a move to be more transparent and accountable during pandemics and catastrophic events. [This adjustment is in relation to] the usage of the petty contract system in an accountable manner.” “We have to be so cautious because we are balancing persons’ health [and] their lives versus their livelihoods in terms of the economy,” he stated.
In its 2019 Annual Report, released here, the CDB, the region’s premier financial institution, said that at the start of 2020, it was projecting regional economic growth, consistent with forecasts of increased global economic activity. The CDB said that in the medium term, BMCs need to return to the theme of building resilience. The CDB said that tourism was once again a vital source of jobs and income region-wide. Overnight visitors rose in nearly every country, according to data from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). In addition to The Bahamas, there was double-digit growth in St. Kitts and Nevis and the Cayman Islands. Tourism also played a big part in the recovery of countries that had been affected by the hurricanes of 2017. Along with reconstruction activity, this helped to drive significant growth in Anguilla, Dominica, and the Virgin Islands (BVI). “Closure of borders led to a rapid decline in international travel, putting pressure on transport providers, particularly airlines. Governments and central banks announced fiscal and monetary policies in an effort to protect businesses and workers,” the report noted. “Hotels had become virtually empty by March, and cruise ships ceased to operate. Commodity producers were also affected. Guyana made its first delivery of crude oil in January. Since then, a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia caused prices to decline below the breakeven price in Guyana’s oilfield. “ExxonMobil announced suspension of construction of its headquarters at Ogle, and exploration and production budgets of other operators were cut. Trinidad and Tobago, which is heavily dependent on oil and gas, is likely to experience economic contraction,” the CDB said. It said “the impact on the Caribbean region was significant,” noting that many tourism dependent economies reported mass cancellations. It said that the duration of the impact is difficult to predict; but foreign exchange earnings, income, employment, public sector indebtedness, and government revenues and expenditures are likely to be severely affected. “They also eased credit conditions and provided tax breaks to businesses and individuals. These measures to mitigate the impacts must be balanced against the availability of buffers, especially foreign reserves.” “In addition, increased emphasis must be placed on promoting private sector development and new sources to earn foreign exchange by, for example, diversifying the economic base and strengthening the regulatory and institutional framework”: the CDB noted. The CDB noted that last year, consistent with the global slowdown, most of its BMCs experienced slower economic expansion than in the previous year. It said regional gross domestic product (GDP) increased by one per cent, following 1.6 per cent growth in 2018. “Since then, there has been the rapid global spread of the novel coronavirus, with significant adverse impact on developed and developing countries. With many countries going into lockdown to contain the spread of the virus and to ease pressure on health services, economic activity collapsed. Dry weather conditions, which affected agricultural production as well as weaknesses in mining and quarrying severely constrained economic activity in Jamaica. The 1.2 per cent increase in GDP in the year to September 2019, therefore mainly reflected growth in tourism, manufacturing and finance services,” the CDB noted. “The passage of the hurricane dampened output growth, particularly in the last quarter of the year. The economy grew by about 0.9 per cent, mainly due to developments in the tourism sector, which reported the highest-ever recorded visitor arrivals across all categories. Robust pre-hurricane performance and increased airlift from North America accounted for the surge in tourist arrivals in 2019.” BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), says the rapid global spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), with significant adverse impact on developed and developing countries is having a significant impact on the Caribbean region. The bank said that extreme weather affected the region last year, highlighting its vulnerability and the importance of improving resilience. It said disaster preparedness and healthcare systems will need to be fortified, possibly using enhanced digital technology. Parametric insurance and contingent credit facilities should be broadened to cover pandemics. “Tourism recovery will depend on the extent to which the outbreak is contained in major source markets -Canada, European Union, United Kingdom (UK), and United States of America (US)- how quickly economic activity recovers, and renewed confidence in the safety and security of these markets.” On September 1, Hurricane Dorian made direct impact on The Bahamas, causing devastation and considerable loss of life in the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco. Damage and loss was estimated at US$3.2 billion or 25 per cent of GDP. Among the region’s commodity-exporting countries, severe droughts affected agricultural output in Belize and Jamaica. Economic growth slowed to a modest 0.3 per cent in Belize, with agriculture and electricity being the areas most affected, although tourism still expanded. In the meantime, the CDB said that its borrowing member countries (BMC) have taken action to minimise the adverse impact by boosting social protection for those that have lost their jobs. CMC
“With reduced contact to friends and family or barriers in access to services and shelters, we’re leaving survivors with nowhere to go. The costs of violence are extraordinarily high, so support to survivors cannot be put on hold.” “It is urgent that mental health support is considered a critical component of the pandemic response. Mental health and domestic violence services are essential services, and we must place emphasis on addressing the gaps that have been laid bare by the pandemic. The PAHO director said the real extent of domestic violence during COVID-19 is likely under-estimated, “as survivors are stuck at home and support and outreach services are interrupted. “Today, I ask countries to take the steps required to ensure everyone can receive the care they need and deserve,” she urged. CMC During the pandemic, she said “many of us have felt fearful of infection or anxiety if we are sick; grief as our loved ones have succumbed to the virus; uncertainty about the future, as jobs and life as we knew it came under threat; overwhelmed by the news and misinformation; and lonely or isolated after weeks or even months of social distancing. Dr. Etienne said the most effective steps are to hire and train more health workers, and integrate mental health and psychosocial support within primary health care systems, “so they’re easily accessible to those who need them most. “Naturally, some of the same concepts apply to domestic violence.These services must be accessible and integrated at the local level; we need innovations to reach and support survivors, and it is paramount to fight stigma. Violence is never acceptable, and survivors of domestic violence should not be blamed.” Dr. Etienne said PAHO has been helping countries to strengthen policies and services, and expand online learning for health workers, “so they know how to identify and support survivors of violence during the pandemic, and some places using novel approaches to ensure survivors of violence can ask for help discreetly, such as through code words or hand signals.” “This pandemic reminds us, like never before, that good mental health is necessary for the wellbeing of individuals and societies,” the PAHO director added. “We are all suffering – especially those affected by pre -existing mental health conditions. We must step up so those living with mental health conditions, as well as survivors of violence, have the resources and support they need. Dr. Etienne said initial research indicates that “as much as a third of patients recovering from COVID-19 can have enduring changes in their mood and suffer from anxiety or depression.” “After months of operating in crisis mode, our health professionals are facing burnout, anxiety and depression,” she added. She said patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 also experience insomnia, delirium or even depression, adding that “many persons are overwhelmed with fear of developing severe illness; others are understandably worried for their lives”. In addition, Dr. Etienne said the region also has the second-highest level of alcohol consumption in the world, stating that emergencies can worsen these conditions. She said mental health illness is a silent epidemic that has affected the Americas well before COVID-19, with depression and anxiety listed as two of the leading causes of disability. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a mental health crisis in our region at a scale we’ve never seen before,” the Dominican-born Dr. Etienne said, adding “it’’s a perfect storm in every country, as we see growing needs and reduced resources to address them. WASHINGTON– The director of the Pan American Health Organization Director (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, is urging Caribbean countries to expand and invest in mental health services to cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Everyone who needs mental health support should feel comfortable asking for help. No one should have to suffer alone and without professional support, especially now. “The Americas have approximately 13 per cent of the world’s population, but 64 per cent of officially reported global deaths,” she said, stating that the pandemic is having a serious impact on health workers, “who are working longer hours than ever before and risking their own lives as hospitals struggle to maintain sufficient Personal Protective Equipment. Dr Etienne noted that coronavirus cases in the Americas have reached almost 11.5 million and over 400,000 people have died.