.

On Plot to Abduct Ken Gordon, T’dad Police Say Little

TRINIDAD (CMC) -- The Trinidad and Tobago police said they were investigating "intelligence information" that points to a possible abduction and murder of former newspaper magnate Ken Gordon.
Acting Police Commissioner Everald Snaggs told a local radio station here on Thursday that the police were aware of a newspaper report that said on Wednesday that the security forces had received information regarding the plot.
(Mr. Gordon was one of two most outstanding Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) members inducted into the CBU Hall of Fame in Montserrat in July 2000 at the CBU’s 31st annual meeting).

He is also chairman of the state-owned First Citizens Bank (FCB) and a member of a Crime Commission Committee appointed by the Trinidad and Tobago.
 Mr. Snaggs told the radio station "we have some intelligence information and we are working on it."But he said it was not "appropriate" to be discussed, adding, "it is sensitive and we are working on that information."
NEWSDAY newspaper reported on Wednesday that Mr.Gordon had been provided with protection by the Special Branch of the Police Service, and quoted one senior police official as saying that they were monitoring his (Gordon's) movements without his knowledge. "We are there. But we are not there," the official told the newspaper.
Mr. Gordon told the newspaper that he had been told "to be careful and I am doing so. We must all be very careful in this country".
Mr. Gordon served as a Minister in the 1986-91 National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) administration headed by then Prime Minister Arthur N.R. Robinson and was head of the Caribbean Communications Network (CCN), the parent company of the Express newspapers and TV6 television.
The newspaper said, "There have been reports that a number of businessmen and their family members are on an underworld list of about 25 people to be kidnapped and possibly killed".
One of the persons on the list is Deputy Chief Magistrate Deborah Thomas-Felix who made reference to the murder attempt as one of the reasons for protesting her transfer to another part of the country in her failed judicial review in the High Court here.
So far this year over 120 people have been kidnapped for ransom.


CM Osborne in UK For Vacation, Talks

Twenty-five days after declaring Montserrat a “national disaster” and later correcting it to “a disaster-struck area,” Chief Minister John Osborne of Montserrat officially left the island on Wednesday, August 6, for vacation.

The Government Information Unit (GIU) release came as a surprise to residents here in Montserrat, especially since Governor Anthony Longrigg, had also left the island on July 22nd, only days after the volcano dumped more than 150 million cubic meters of material from its massive dome reducing it to a horseshoe-shape rimmed crater.

Although CM Osborne left the island on vacation, the GIU release said he will “be using his trip to the UK to engage in a series of meetings with British officials.”
He is expected to meet with officials at the UK Department for International Development (DFID) early next week.
During his stay in Britain, the Montserrat leader is scheduled to meet with
Montserrat communities in various cities to update them on the latest
developments on the island, including the July 12 dome collapse, major ash
fall and the cleanup programme.
The release also said, “Mr Osborne is also listed to hold talks with a European investment group with an interest in the setting up of a water bottling plant on Montserrat.”

The Minister of Agriculture Lands and the Environments is an associate with an existing Water Bottling plant here in Montserrat
The Hon. John Skerritt, Financial Secretary, it is reported will leave the island for the UK this weekend to join the Chief Minister for his series of meetings.

The Financial Secretary said in a brief interview, “There are some outstanding matters that I do have to discuss with officials there in Britain that I must take care of.”

The Financial Secretary was brief also about support for householders with respect to assistance for the cleanup of ash from their immediate surroundings particularly in the Salem, Isle’s Bay, Old Towne and Olveston areas. He said: “we will have to seek further funding to assist these people who are definitely in need of help.”
During the CM’s vacation break, which is scheduled to end August 22,  Hon. Idabelle Meade, Minister of Education, Health, Community Services and Labor, will be the acting Chief Minister.


EDITORIAL

"$4.2-million was Prompt, But People Deserve Accounting of What it Paid"

The aftermath of our most recent and perhaps biggest direct volcanic fallout is slowly winding down as residents and businesses of Montserrat literally dig out from the ash and carry on, albeit it with some losses and debts.

The BBC found out in an interview with several residents that the residents of Montserrat, recognizing no threat to life from the event, never considered it time to say goodbye to Montserrat. A small few admitted later that in the midst of it all on the night of July 12, some such fleeting thoughts may have been entertained. They were nothing more than that, fleeting thoughts of persons who were alone on the eventful night, as heavy ash mixed with rain and small rocks fell on roofs and on the ground all over Montserrat.

The British Government through our purse-holding Department for International Development (DFID) responded to a situation which was quickly, maybe too quickly at first, described by our Chief Minister as a “national disaster.” For the quick response this must have been, it had to be supported by a Governor, who though not alone, was witnessing for the first time the might of the volcano and what he probably hoped at the time would have vindicated his actions which resulted in his going down in the history books as a Governor finding himself in a litigious fight with residents.

In very short time the CM ‘gleefully’ announced that the treasury was authorized to release up to £1 million (EC$4.2 million) to assist with the cleanup of the ash. A quick offer of $300,000, a mere 7 percent, was made available to private sector businesses to assist with the cleanup and some structural repairs. It was a comparatively small amount, but a large number of the businesses are located in the north where the effects of the ash fall were considerably less than farthest occupied south, Olveston, Salem, Old Towne etc.

From all reports one mistake was made as government set about the cleanup of public properties and roads. Everyone joined in the rush to get rid of the ash, obviously fearful, although Dr. Hawes reminded, “there is no health crisis on the island” -- but a hazard nonetheless if too little cautiousness is maintained. Cleanup prices got out of hand, which went along with the misunderstood PWD contract prices, aided and abetted, unfortunately, by an unwelcome ‘culture’ which has crept right back into Montserrat. It is one about which the well-remembered Clare Short was very conscious when she made the unpopular remark that today must give her mixed feelings.

The CM in referred Legislative Council to some persons involved in the cleanup as “unscrupulous.” Government, people and businesses were faced with bills, which will leave many in debt and hardship as they move on. And in spite of the HMG assistance, officials now agree that help should be forthcoming to households, but DFID, having looked at the situation, is concerned with “precedents” and might not oblige. Officials say that they would have to seek more funding if assistance were to be passed on even to those who need it most, whether by not being able to pay at all for their clean up or because of the magnitude of the need. The suggestion there, of course, is that the $4.2 million has been already used up.

As one ponders this predicament for households and some businesses, which, whether out of refusal or just ignorance of the system for ensuring maximized help at hand, some kind of insurance would have been helpful. Of course only the insurance companies, it seems, believed that this crisis might have lasted longer than five years, or it is their nature not to be on the losing end for long. Add to that poor negotiation, which came at a time when it was still ridiculously felt we would return to Plymouth, and evidence that our Governments have not tried hard enough or just have not been able to convince HMG that something ought to be done.

This reminds us of the continuing iniquitous situation that finds even our government and some financial institutions still collecting mortgage payments from Montserratians and others for houses in the “totally devastated” south of Montserrat.

It reminds also of the strangeness, for example, where budgeted allowances and travel were increased in the Chief Minister’s office, while that for Social Welfare was reduced.

This time round, as we climb out and try to repair the damage from the setback of careless pronouncements, we must understand that phrase we have been promoting since 1996, “Nothing in Montserrat can be business as usual.” We have crawled back to that in many ways, but residents, Montserratians, businesses (all) must be willing to treat the island as uniquely different from any other, and treat every matter, big or small, in the light that it cannot be done “as usual.”

Those responsible must begin to give Montserrat an accounting of how that $4.2 million has been spent. They must also explain why the agricultural produce sector of the island which, it was said, was clearly shown to have suffered a loss of about 95 percent, could only receive assistance of only 10 percent of the funds allowed. Where is the saying about a country “that cannot feed itself”?

It is true it seems we didn’t really ask in a timely manner for the real things that would have assisted with the cleanup, being flooded with drinking water to correct what was only a temporary problem. But the island should feel some benefit from most of the $4.2 million which has been so quickly plunged into the economy. Or was it? The business sector should be able to report on this.

The fear may well be that it is the same few who benefited and so it will be business as usual, and the old practice of a complete lack of understanding of how the economy works, especially in this small place will prevail -- where the small becomes smaller, the poor become poorer, and those suffering, suffer more.

Silent observers continue to watch, unsure whether it is us mismanaging our affairs or just the stronger and more corruptible ones keeping their grip tight.


SCRIPTURE VERSE THIS WEEK

All My Relations- Read Acts 2:1-13 

At this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. –Acts 2:6 (NSRV)

When I was a child, I noticed the tint of my skin was darker than my best friend’s. I was told that some of my ancestors were Native American.  I was told that I had Irish and German ancestors too. However, I never felt a difficulty with multiple cultural identities until I sensed I was being asked to choose between them for my cultural identity.

In many Native American cultures, prayers end with the phrase, “all my relations.” This phrase has become meaningful for me because it allows me to celebrate all the cultures that are part of my heritage; Cherokee, Choctaw, Irish and German. This phrase allows me to seek ways to live in harmony with all people. For me these words echo the term “the family of God” in my Christian heritage. Both expressions remind me that God is the divine parent who loves all of us and wants us to love each other.

Prayer: Creator God, strengthen us as we learn to live together in the world of your creation. Help us to celebrate our differences in all our relations. Amen.

Thought for the week; Celebrate diversity as a gift from God, who made us varied and unique.

                                                                                                         Johnnie Faye Swann (Ohio)

Prayer Focus: Those seeking a Spiritual Identity.


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

‘Guarantee for the People of Montserrat the Right for Self-determination’

(Editor’s Note: This letter to the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee to Review the Report of the Constitution Commission appears at the request of Dr Lowell Lewis, member of parliament).

Dear Sir,

I write to encourage and express my support to your team as you undertake a very important task on behalf of the people of Montserrat.

It is very important that this task be completed in time for the recommendations of the Montserrat Legislative Council to be considered at the next meeting of the Chief Ministers of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories scheduled for October 2003.

I understand that this process is a preamble to the formal drafting of the Constitution documents, and we must confirm to the public, that this document, when it is drafted will be resubmitted to the people of Montserrat for their detailed study and final approval.

I have made my personal recommendations in presentations to the Commission, and during the Legislative Council Meeting of 22nd April 2003 but I wish in this communication to strongly advocate the only change that would guarantee for the people of Montserrat the right for self-determination that all democratic communities are entitled to -- a change that would uphold the principles of parliamentary democracy and partnership between the United Kingdom and her Overseas Territories.

Several events of recent months, in many of the Overseas Territories, have clearly demonstrated the inadequacy of the arrangement where an appointed transient official from the United Kingdom can over rule the political will of the people, and we continue to have situations where judgment of officials in London takes precedence over that of political leaders in the territories.

There have been circumstances in Montserrat where the Governor, who has regular meetings with permanent secretaries, may have been able to frustrate the will of ministers, and cause delays in the implementation of plans which had the potential for major economic benefit.

Good governance requires the retention of systems to ensure accountability and prevent abuse of power by the executive, but this does not have to be through an undemocratic institution, such as the office of the Governor.

The changes I advocate were first presented at the seminar of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) meetings on the occasion of the visit by the UK CPA Branch to Montserrat.  I then stated that it was my opinion that the Chief Minister, who is the Leader of Government Business, should be the Chairperson of the Executive Council and the judge of consensus.  I believe the interest of the Foreign Secretary can be served by a Liaison Officer in Council in a way similar to the Honourable Attorney General and Honourable Financial Secretary, and whose role would be to ensure that decisions are in keeping with agreed United Kingdom Government of Montserrat policies.

Some would consider it incongruous for the crown to be regarded as a guardian of democracy since that institution is itself undemocratic.  Caribbean cultures are predominantly derived from peoples who have relied on the combined wisdom and experience of their elders.  The committee is asked to consider the formation of an elected council of elders (5 members), with a rotating chairperson (2 or 3 years) who would perform the administrative and ceremonial duties normally done by the Governor.

Each of these persons would be expected to gain a two-thirds majority support of the electorate for a renewable five (5) year term.

This is in effect the creation of an upper house whose main task would be the preservation of democratic practice including independence of the judiciary, accountability of the Executive, the integrity of the Civil Service and fairness of the electoral system.

A rotating chairmanship is consistent with the democratic principle of community rather than individual priorities, a principle that would also be served by restricting the number of terms that a Chief Minister may hold office to two.

Finally, there is an undue influence by income opportunities on the political process.  A more flexible approach in the use of resources for governance is needed to give governments the authority to vary ministerial and political appointments in order to preserve unity and to improve the effectiveness of the political directorate.  This refers to the option of appointing additional junior ministers and parliamentary secretaries or assistants.

I would be most grateful if your committee give serious consideration to these suggestions prior to completing your report for the Legislative Council.

I wish you all God speed with your deliberations.

Yours sincerely

Dr Lowell Lewis


LOCAL NEWS

Vue Pointe Hotel to Remain Closed for Hurricane Season

Cedric Osborne, Managing Director of the Vue Point Hotel, said this week he is doubtful that the hotel in Old Towne will be opened this season, even though the Exclusion Zone was declared open on a 24-hour basis last Friday. Acting Governor Sir Howard Fergus issued the order August 1 reopening Old Towne, Happy Hill, Isles Bay Hill, Lower Friths and Waterworks to occupation.

Speaking to The Montserrat Reporter Mr. Osborne said they have applied for some financial help through the Chamber of Commerce to do the major clean-up required as a result of the July 12 dome collapse at the volcano.

He added that the Chamber “is treating it (the hotel) as a special case, since the estimated cost for cleaning the hotel is approximately EC$150,000.”

Mr. Osborne said they will not be doing anything in terms of operations, until after the 2003 hurricane season has passed, “the earliest possible date being December this year.”

This is the second time the hotel has had to close; the first time was in 1997-99, and the second since October of last year.

“If the dome starts growing again and we have to close again in three years time, for another year or two, it may not be economical to keep it open,” Mr. Osborne said.

He pointed out that while a few employees work part time to maintain the building and the grounds, management has found other jobs for the remainder of their former employees.

When the hotel reopens, about 12 people will get jobs.

The areas which made up the Exclusion Zone were declared closed by His Excellency Governor Anthony Longrigg last October, after the scientists of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) advised that the volcano posed a severe threat to the area of the Belham Valley and its immediate environs.

The Vue Point Hotel is located on the northern side of the lower plains of the Belham Valley, just above the former golf course.


Emancipation Day Is Also a 100th Birthday

August 1, Emancipation Day is a day for much celebration. It is the day on which 165 years ago slavery was abolished in 1838.

Sixty-five years later on that same date, Miss Dorothy Hogan, a Salemite, was born.

On Friday last, Miss Dorothy Hogan celebrated her 100th birthday with a church service, held in her honor at the St. James Anglican Church in Salem, followed by a reception at the Montserrat Secondary School.

The last of 11 children, Miss Hogan has one daughter, Mrs. Catherine Yearwood. Her relatives include Mabel Irish and family of Salem, Sarah Thompson and her nephew Joseph Williams.

Miss Dorothy's two grandsons, Lloyd Francis and Leroy Oliver, were also on island for the grand celebration.

A number of centenarians celebrated their birthdays earlier this year.

Mr. Isley Bobb, the oldest living Montserratian, celebrated his 110th birthday, Miss Ann Sydney celebrated her 100th and Miss Lousie Gerald celebrated her 101st, all in Montserrat.

Miss Petty Ryner, 100, presently lives in the United States.


Leewards Cancellation Disappointing to MABA

Montserrat Amateur Basketball Association (MABA) is disappointed with the cancellation of the 2003 Leeward Island Basketball Tournament, according to MABA President Ron Lewis.

He explained that, “The Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA) called a few weeks before the tournament, which was due to start on July 17, 2003, to inform the MABA that the tournament was cancelled, but did not disclose the reason for the cancellation.”

“The national team is expected to participate in the annual OECS basketball competition. Montserrat has not participated in the competition since the volcanic eruption,” he added.

Last year the national team won only one game, 80-62, against French St. Martin in their second match of the Leeward Islands tournament but lost their remaining matches to St. Kitts (63-74), defending champion Antigua (61-77) and Barbuda (61-74).
Team manager Leonard Wade said the team lost because they failed to capitalize on the majority of their free throws. “All the teams that we played never ran a big total against us. The defense was proper but we missed out on the free throws,” he said.
About seven members of Montserrat’s current 12-man squad will represent the national team for the first time.

Meanwhile, Bevon Grenaway, coach of the Montserrat team, said the Antiguan and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA) is currently holding an Exhibition Basketball competition in which Montserrat had been invited to participate.

But when contacted by The Montserrat Reporter, MABA President of Ron Lewis said, “I am aware of a basketball competition in Antigua, but Montserrat will not be attending, and I have nothing else to say on the matter.”

As a result of the cancellation of the Leeward Islands Basketball competition, the Exhibition tournament is reportedly being planned to help display new talent to overseas college representatives, to recruit players basketball scholarships.

It is also reported that all Leeward Islands basketball teams except Montserrat will be participating in the competition.

Officials have confirmed that six players left Montserrat on Wednesday to compete in the Exhibition at their own expense, to ensure that any talent they may have will not go unnoticed.


Annual Cudjoe Head Day Offers Bike Race, Exhibits

Montserratians reportedly enjoyed a day of festivity last Saturday at the annual Cudjoe Head Day celebration.

The celebration began early in the morning with a bike race in which Peter Semper emerged was first, Sydney Allen second and Garnett Thompson third.

Mr. Allen also placed first in the Treasure Hunt competition.

After the bike race there were a breakfast sale and an exhibition, featuring a display of local talent from members of the community.

Charles Kirnon, member of the Cudjoe Head Committee Group, said, “The exhibition attracted many persons, despite the absence of the plant exhibits because of the July 12 disaster. We also had exhibits from the Brades pottery group.”

There were also games and attractions for the children; but later in the evening the jump up session captured most of the crowd, he added.

Mr. Kirnon said, “The preparation and the entire set up of the day’s activities was well presented. According to my observation this year’s celebration was well attended as previous years.”


Trust’s New Director Tells Of  ‘Hectic’ Familiarizing

Lady Eudora Fergus, the Montserrat National Trust’s new Director, described her first month in office as “hectic and getting familiar with all the activities of the Trust.”

She took up the position on July 1, succeeding Tony Maloney, who was interim director.

Speaking to The Montserrat Reporter, Lady Fergus said she is currently working on getting financial assistance for the restoration of the damaged botanical gardens and nursery.

She added that they are in the process of “developing a strategic plan of action, which will allow all sectors of the community to have an input in the Trust, so that everyone could make a contribution.”

“We have already identified a number of projects but are still seeking funding for them,” Lady Fergus said.

She added that another area she would be paying close attention to is the dissemination of information to the public relating to the Oriole, (Montserrat’s national bird) and other species of wildlife native to Montserrat.

Lady Fergus said she observed that there are no exhibits in the Trust  tailored for  young children, and given her background as an educator, this will be a prime focus for her.

She added that one of her key objectives is, “to deepen a sense of pride in our Montserrat heritage.”

Lady Fergus said the development of plans for the Trust has been arrested by the ash fall, such as the recent nature trails, which were nearing completion  and will have to be cleared again.

She said the Trust will work closely with any groups that take care of the environment and continues to encourage expatriates to come and volunteer at the Trust when they are spending their winter here.

The Director said presently the Trust does not open on weekends, but if there’s a demand by people to visit, they will.

The Montserrat National Trust, a non-profit organization is among other things is natural history center, which houses many artifacts and historical records of Montserrat. 


Festival Queen Recounts Competition in Antigua

Miss Maudella Daley, Montserrat Festival Queen 2002/2003, retuned from the 2003 Jaycees Caribbean Queen Show, which was held in Antigua last Saturday evening.

The Festival Queen said on her return,  “I did my best at the competition and the crowd support was very good, especially during my performance in the talent segment. Although I am not in agreement with the judges’ final decision, I think that the show was very good.”

“During my brief stay in Antigua I developed a very good relationship with the other competitors. We were very supportive of each other and that also helped me to develope strong confidence in myself,” she added.

“My participation in the competition boosted my self-esteem to participate in the Pageant show in Dominica this month end,” she said.

It was the first time in many years that Montserrat has participated in the annual Queen show, which was held as part of the Antigua and Barbuda Carnival this year.

Miss Daley was not placed in the competition, but reports say that she represented her island well.

Gregory Willock, chairman of the Montserrat Festival Committee, said, “We (the Festival committee) are very happy with Miss Daley’s performance at the show. This was a learning experience for us since our last participation in the competition was before the volcanic eruption in 1995, and we are looking forward to be participating in the next Jaycees Caribbean Queen Show.”

 “However we are uncertain about our participation in the Pageant show in Dominica because of insufficient financing,” he added. 


St. Peters Parish Holds Its Annual Bazaar Fest

Montserratians gathered at the St. Peters sports ground on Monday to enjoy a day of feast, fun and socialization at the annual Bazaar Fest.

Rev. St. Clair Williams, Montserrat’s Anglican priest, explained that the Bazaar Fest was organized by the St. Peters Parish on August 1st as a day in which   the church socializes with other members and the community and to raise money to help support the church fund.

“Last year we were unable to have the annual fest, but this year it was quite good, despite the small turn out,” he said. 

“There was a variety of local food and drink items prepared by the church members. The food sale was collaborated with games and treat,s such as the bounce castle, for the children.” 

They hope to have a better turn next year, he said.


REGIONAL NEWS

Injury Forces Benjamin Out as Leewards Coach

Former West Indian cricketer player Winston Benjamin was replaced as coach of the Leeward Islands cricket team due to a back injury he suffered during his early years, according to local Sports Officer Fitzroy Buffong.

Mr. Buffonge said that Mr. Benjamin suffered a chronic back injury during a  practice session, forcing him to give up the position. He was replaced by John Naynard ,a coach from Nevis.

He said Mr. Naynard is the permanent coach for the Leeward Islands cricket team. Practice sessions will continue as normal.


Gay Bishop’s Appointment A Concern to Anglicans Here

The approval of 56-year-old Reverend Gene Robinson, a divorced father of two and the Episcopal (Anglican) Church's first openly gay bishop in the United States on Sunday, August 3, 2003, has sparked much controversy.

It sent shockwaves throughout the worldwide Anglican community and imemediately created a deep schism within the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, of which 2.3 million are in the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Commenting on the situation, Reverend St. Clair Williams, Montserrat’s Anglican priest, said, “The Church hates the sins, but loves the sinners, and if something is done contrary to the teachings of the church, then you have to be concerned.”

Rev. Williams said when issues like this arise, “the Church speaks in one voice.”

He expressed his sadness as a result of this situation, and said it will cause a division in the Church, “It is unfortunate that he (the bishop) holds such a position with a lifestyle that is so strongly opposed by the Church, but we are concerned for Bishop Robinson as a person.”

For the local parish, Rev. Williams said, his role as a member of the clergy “is to educate biblically and to develop a sense of spiritual awareness which would enable people to cope with situations and issues such as these when they surface.” 

Some parishioners, many of whom chose to remain anonymous, expressed similar sentiments. “It makes one wonder, where do we go from here, should we forget the Church…?”

“…the negative effects of this will be far reaching…”

“…this is absolutely deplorable, the Anglican community is terribly distressed.”

Montserrat has three Anglican churches; St. James, St. Peter’s and St. John’s, with a following of approximately 700.

Prior to being appointed for the post of archbishop in June this year, Mr. Robinson served as assistant to the bishop of New Hampshire. His appointment for this post was approved by The House of Deputies, a body of clergy and lay members of the Episcopal Church.

The American media reported that as a result of this issue, “a number of churches are now faced with new questions on gay clergy and gay marriage.”

Reports maintain that mainstream churches such as the Presbyterian Church recently refused to lift their ban on gay clergy, whilst the Evangelical Lutheran Church allows gay clergy to be ordained if they are celibate.

The Roman Catholic Church requires its priests to be celibate and the United Methodist Church has barred its ministers from participating in celebrations of homosexual unions and allowing such ceremonies to be held in their churches.

The World Anglican Communion is made up of 38 largely autonomous provinces, nominally led by the Church of England.


Pan Instructor Aggrieved By Festival Postponement

Trinidadian panist and performer Duvone Stewart expressed his disappointment for the children who were preparing for this year’s Junior Steel Pan Festival, which was to be held this month in Antigua but has been postponed to December 5-6 this year.

Director of Culture Herman ‘Cupid’ Francis said that the organizers, Caribbean Pan (CARIPAN) officials, decided to postpone the Festival because of the conflicting dates for CARIFESTA V111, which is scheduled be held in Suriname, August 25-30.

Mr. Stewart noted that 18 children had registered for the classes, “but since they were told about the postponement of the Festival, the numbers have been reducing every day.”

“Personally, I am very disappointed, because for the first time, the children would have been going to a Pan Festival. They were doing so well, this breaks their momentum,” he said.

Mr. Stewart added that he is very concerned about whether the children will continue playing and practicing what he has taught them.

The children have learnt two pieces so far; Trinidadian Ras Shorty I, “Watch Out My Children,” a compulsory test piece, which all competing bands have to play, and a choice piece.

The Montserrat pan players have chosen Arrow’s Hot! Hot! Hot! as their choice piece.

Mr. Francis pointed out that though the Festival has been postponed, classes are still continuing at the Brades Primary School music room, and they will join the other children from the Community Service Development summer school class, in performing at the concert and exhibition to be held next Friday.

Children between ages 9-16 have been learning to play pan. There are also 30 adults learning to play pan.


CARNIVAL-Antigua crowns first female monarch

ST. JOHN'S, Antigua, CMC - 30-year-old Lena Phillip was on Monday preparing to represent Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean Calypso monarch competition after creating history on Sunday by becoming the first woman to be crowned calypso monarch during annual Carnival celebrations here.
Phillip, who goes by the stage name of Ivena, dethroned the reigning king Zero to win the title from a field of 10 calypsonians.
It was the first time in 46 years of the competition that a female has won the coveted title of calypso monarch.
Her two social commentaries - Reverse Robin Hood in Antigua and Ivena's Agenda - won the hearts of the large crowd and the judges. She won ahead of Young Destroyer (Leston Jacobs), who was the first runner up, and Zacari (Trevor King), who placed third.
"I feel great. All my hard work had paid off. I work very hard. I feel happy," said Ivena, who also copped the female calypso title for the third straight year.
One of Antigua and Barbuda's best-known calypsonian, Short Shirt, who was making a return after more than 10 years, placed a disappointing fourth.
As the Carnival celebrations continued here on Monday, thousands of revellers flocked to the streets of the capital, St. John's, Monday morning in traditional street jump-up called J'Ouvert to the music of steel bands, brass bands and hi-fi systems.
Ivena will represent Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean Calypso monarch competition at the Antigua Recreation Ground on Monday night.
She will be up against competitors from Anguilla, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Croix, St Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. 


Antiguan calypsonian woman wins regional calypso competition

ST. JOHN'S, Antigua, CMC - Mere days after creating history by becoming the first woman to win the calypso monarch competition here, Queen Ivena has scored yet another first.
On Monday night, she ended a 25-year drought by women, when she won the Caribbean monarch competition, defeating 10 other contestants from St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Vincent and Antigua and Barbuda.
Ivena, 30, used the two songs that won her the local calypso monarch over the last weekend  - Reverse Robin Hood in Antigua and Ivena's Agenda – to win the regional title ahead of Princess Monique of St Vincent, the first runner-up, the Mighty Pat of St Croix who placed third, and King Pungwa of St Kitts, the fourth placed contestant.
She who won a car as her main prize and she will compete in the Leeward Islands monarch title in Anguilla on Saturday.


St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister still keen on carrying out mandate given to his administration

St. Kitts/Nevis, CMC - St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas says despite his medical condition, he is determined to carry out the mandate that was given to his ruling Labour Party (SKLP) since 1995.
 Dr. Douglas is now recovering from a major surgical operation to his spinal column in the United States.
 Dr. Douglas told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that his administration wanted to complete its agenda as promised to the people of the twin-island nation.
 "Although I have been shaken and I must tell you that I really have been shaken. My resolve is to trust on the support and the guidance of Almighty God, I believe that we have a job to do that have to be completed."
 "The mandate that we have received since 1995 it is not yet completed. I am more determined than ever before to make sure that the work we have to do is completed," he added.
 Dr. Douglas, who was experiencing severe and persistent neck and shoulder pain over the past few weeks, travelled to the United States for surgery last week after local doctors diagnosed he was suffering from multiple cervical disc herniations.
 Dr. Vallo Benjamin, Professor of Neurological Surgery at the New York University Medical Center, who performed the surgery, said the operation was a complete success and expects Dr. Douglas to recover fully.
"I think despite this temporary physical set back, I believe that I will find the strength to continue. I trust that God will allow my strength to return quickly not only quickly but to return in abundance." Dr. Douglas said.
 The Prime Minister is likely to return home this weekend. 


Mum Trinidad Witnesses Let Murder Suspect Off the Hook

TRINIDAD (CMC) -- A 41 year old mother of four will be buried on Wednesday, one day after her suspected killer was released from custody after police said that no one was willing to come forward and provide evidence.
Juliette Victoria Cummings of Princes Town was murdered last week by a man who attacked her in a maxi-taxi and dragged her out and killed her in full view of several people.
Police said the woman had broken off a 14-year relationship with the 34-year-old suspect and had filed a protection order against him three months ago.
The man had threatened to kill the woman as well as her sister and her mother, police said.
"We know there are people who saw what happened, and we are asking them to please, please help the police with anything they know, Ms Cummings’ 60-year-old mother Eileen Mendoza said.
Relatives have since called on police to provide security for them since they are fearful that the suspect would return to kill them if given the chance.
Police said that they were forced to release the suspect because of lack of evidence.


Panday Sets Conditions For Talks with Manning

TRINIDAD (CMC) - Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday says he is willing to hold talks with Prime Minister Patrick Manning on the proposed Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Mr. Manning told reporters last week he was seeking to meet with every opposition parliamentarian to discuss the CCJ, which is scheduled to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region's final court of appeal.
The opposition United National Congress (UNC) has said it would not provide the special parliamentary support needed in order for the court to have appellate jurisdiction here, although no special majority is required for it to have an original jurisdiction.
The UNC has called for constitutional reform first before it lends any support.
Mr. Manning has said he has found himself in a very embarrassing position, since Port of Spain has been identified as the headquarters for the CCJ, that is due to be launched in November.
Speaking with reporters on Sunday, Mr. Panday said that he was prepared to hold talks with Manning on the issue, once the Prime Minister is able to inform him "how he is going to end the discrimination in this society.
"Failing to do that he is wasting his time."
Late last month, former finance minister Gerald Yetming criticised the UNC policy of non-support for the CCJ, since, ironically, the UNC had supported and signed the original agreement when it was in office.


St. Kitts/Nevis PM Recovering After Six-hour Spinal Surgery

ST. KITTS -- Prime Minister Dr. Denzil L. Douglas of of St. Kitts and Nevis is in the United States of America recovering from a major surgical operation to his spinal column at New York University Medical Centre.

Prime Minister Douglas left the Federation on the advice of Dr. Mark Hodge, Consultant Radiologist at the Joseph N. France General Hospital, after x-rays indicated what doctors described as Cervical Spine Osteoarthritis. He was ordered by Dr. Hodge to undergo a total spine MRI for further investigation.

A total spine MRI and cervical spine Cat Scan were conducted at  New York University Medical Centre, where Dr. Douglas’ daughter, Dr. Andrea Douglas, is a fourth year Neurological Surgery Resident. After consultations with the younger Douglas’ professors, Dr. Vallo Benjamin, Professor of Neurological Surgery at the New York University Medical Center, Dr. Douglas was ordered to undergo immediate surgery to remove herniated discs and decompress the spinal cord, with subsequent fusion of four levels of the cervical spine.

The surgery, conducted on Tuesday, July 29th, lasted six hours.  Afterwards, Dr. Benjamin indicated that the operation was a complete success and said the Prime Minister emerged from the ordeal “neurologically intact.”  The esteemed neurosurgeon said he expects Dr. Douglas to recover fully.

Dr. Andrea Douglas said the seriousness and urgency of the procedure precluded an opportunity for the Prime Minister to first brief relatives, colleagues and the general public. 


St. Lucia Media Workers Urged on Free Movement

ST. LUCIA (CMC) -- St. Lucia media workers have been urged to make a greater effort to revive their association if they intend to join the lobby and be an effective part of the free movement of media workers initiative within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Wesley Gibbings, president of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), says it is unfortunate t,hat efforts towards reviving the St. Lucia Media Workers Association (SLMWA) continue to be spurned, through poor participation and generally inadequate interest demonstrated by local media personnel.
Mr. Gibbings told the CMC that it is hoped that the decision to hold the next annual meeting of the ACM in St. Lucia in November will help speed up efforts towards reviving the local association, as this was vital, if the freedom of movement initiative is to benefit media workers here.
He said that it was an absolutely prerequisite that media workers throughout the Caribbean get their act together, in preparing for both the positive and negative fall out of this measure.
"Make no bones about it there are going to be some down sides to it and people would need to be very clear about what their professional values and objectives are, and you cannot do that when people are not organized," he said.
The ACM has welcomed the CARICOM Secretariat announcement Tuesday that the stage was set for Caribbean media workers to freely move within all of the Caribbean Community except Montserrat and Haiti.
Mr. Gibbings cautioned, however, that media associations and territories that remained disorganized in the new dispensation would be hard pressed to benefit from the free movement of labour.

He argued that media people need to become organized in the promotion of training, and greater awareness of the needs of the industry, otherwise some territories are simply going to be left behind.


Opposition Party in Bermuda Announces Shadow Cabinet

BERMUDA (CMC) -- Leader of the Opposition United Bermuda Party (UBP) Dr. Grant Gibbons has unveiled a 12-member shadow cabinet, assigning all, but one of his MP's a portfolio.
Dr. Gibbons said he is confident his team, a blend of young and experienced parliamentarians, will bring new ideas and new energy to politics in Bermuda.
"I'm confident that this group of men and women will bring the same unity, the same drive and the same commitment that the people of Bermuda saw during the election campaign," he told reporters.
"They will put the interest of the people of Bermuda first and they will be a strong voice for good government." Dr. Gibbons said.
The UBP leader said the opposition would continue to promote the party's agenda outlined during the recent election campaign.
"Having received 48 percent of the popular vote it's important that we continue to be responsive and accountable to all Bermudians," he added.


OAS Team Advises Aid Seekers During Antigua &Barbuda Visit

ANTIGUA (CMC) -- A three-member team from the Organisation of American States (OAS) has ended a visit here aimed at providing assistance to the private and public sectors on how to obtain technical assistance from the hemispheric body during 2003-5.
The team, which included Barbara Kotschkor and Pamela Coke-Hamilton from the OAS Trade Unit and Rafael Benke, a consultant to the OAS Trade Unit in Washington, met with representatives from both the public and private sectors during their two-day stay.
An official statement said the purpose of the meetings was to assist public, private and civil society interests here in their requests to obtain technical assistance for the period of 2003-2005 in trade and trade-related areas under the Hemispheric Cooperation Programme (HCP) as Antigua and Barbuda prepares to participate in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
 In Antigua and Barbuda's case, the programme will help prepare the island for implementation of trade obligations and assist with the transition to free trade or liberalisation, the statement said.


Caribbean Labour College Principals Seek Management-labour Cooperation

BARBADOS (CMC) -- A four-day conference aimed at reviewing a draft of a training module on "Building a Culture of Trust" within the framework of promoting management-labour co-operation began here on Tuesday.
The module is the first in a series being developed by the International Labour Organisation's Programme for the Promotion of Management-Labour Cooperation (PROMALCO) for use in industrial relations and other courses.
Other modules to be considered include international labour standards, new approaches in conflict resolution, conflict management and dispute resolution, and the negotiation of management-labour frameworks for cooperation at the level of the enterprise.
Labour and Social Security Minister Rawle Eastmond will deliver addressed the opening session of the meeting of Heads of Labour and Community Colleges that ends today.

The meeting is hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago-based PROMALCO that was launched in January 2001 to initiate new approaches to industrial relations in the Caribbean.
Other speakers at Tuesday's opening ceremony included Sir Roy Trotman, general secretary of the Barbados Workers Union, and George De Peana, chairman and general secretary of the Caribbean Congress of Labour.


CARICOM Assures Journalists Free Movement Rules in Place

TRINIDAD (CMC) =- The Guyana-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat says arrangements have been put in place to facilitate the free movement of media workers in the Caribbean.
The Secretariat was responding to a letter sent by the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) to CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington, expressing concern that important guidelines to facilitate the free movement of media workers, effective August 1, had not yet been publicised.
 The ACM said that it welcomed the decision by CARICOM Leaders at their July summit in Jamaica to implement by August 1, 2003, "the long-awaited free movement provisions of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, as they relate to media workers and other selected categories of workers, will be in place" .
 The ACM said it had planned to "test" the new arrangements for this undertaking in the coming weeks and months and "to highlight, through the means available to us, the successes and shortcomings of the mechanisms put in place at the national and regional levels to ensure this ideal is realised".
 But in its response, the CARICOM Secretariat said that through the office of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) Unit in Barbados, "we have been working assiduously with the Focal Points in Member States to confirm that the legal and administrative arrangements are in place to give effect to the Policy".
 "With the exception of Montserrat and Haiti, all Member States have positively confirmed that the legal arrangements are in place.  Of those Member States who have completed the legal process, all with the exception of St. Kitts and Nevis, have given assurances that the administrative arrangements are in place," the letter said.
"With the arrangements now in place for the other approved categories namely, media workers, musicians, artistes and sports persons, the Secretariat will continue to work with Member States in resolving the problems as the need arises," it said. 


5 Jamaicans Accused Of Raping12-year-old

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC--Five men, including four teenagers, charged with the abduction and rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl, have been remanded in custody after appearing before a Spanish Town Resident Magistrate's Court in the central parish of St. Catherine on Tuesday.
Taxi-driver, Owen Duhaney 28, Travis Davis, 18, Marcus Crooks 18, Careka Wheeler, 18, and 17-year-old Cordell Ricketts will return to court on August 7.
 The prosecution alleges that the schoolgirl on July 11 took a taxi at the Spanish Town shopping centre for home, but was sexually assaulted by the taxi operator and the four teenagers.
The court was also told that five other men then raped the 12-year-old, who is now receiving counselling. The police have since launched a search for them.
 The matter was reported to the St. Catherine Police Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences Unit, following which the men were arrested and charged.


Restive CXC Workers Go Back to Work in Barbados

BARBADOS (CMC) -- Close to a hundred workers at the head office of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) have returned to their jobs ending protest action for better working conditions.
The workers returned to their jobs on Tuesday following the long holiday weekend. They had been protesting the delay in concluding negotiations between the Council and their bargaining unit, the Barbados Workers Union, over the terms and conditions of service for 2001-2003.
However, sources said that while the issues remained outstanding, the workers have returned to work pending further decisions to be taken.
The sources said that every effort was being made to ensure that the results of both the May/ June Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) and Caribbean Secondary Educations Certificate are released on August 11 and 18 respectively.


Caribbean Disaster Officials Train Using New Software

BARBADOS (CMC) -- Officials from eight participating states of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CEDRA) ended a two-day meeting here Wednesday that allowed for hands-on training in Incident Command System (ICS) software applications.
Donovan Gentles, Head of CDERA's Preparedness and Response Unit, said that the meeting is part of a wider programme known as the Integrated Decision-Making Support System (IDSS).
The idea is to get accurate information to decision-makers and other important parties in a timely fashion. It will also enable real time messaging and online conferencing for critical decision-making and timely distribution of information, he said.
The system also includes enhanced Geographical Information System mapping so that emergency managers can zoom in on affected areas.
A CEDERA statement said another component will see real time satellite and weather information being imported into the programme which can be used for forecasting and modelling of such things as storm surge as a hurricane approaches a member state or track volcanic ash plumes based on wind direction and speed, among other things.
Support for the two-day meeting came from the United States Southern Command Humanitarian Assistance Programme (SOUTHCOM/HAP) as well as the software company E-Team.


Disabled community in Trinidad and Tobago gearing for possible confrontation with police

Trinidad, CMC - The President of the local chapter of Disabled Peoples International (DPI) George Daniel has discharged himself from a local health facility as police warned they were prepared to remove protesting disabled people camped outside a state-owned company for the past 94 days.
"We are prepared to go to jail," Daniel told reporters after he left the St. James Medical Complex where he was recuperating from surgery.
Daniel told reporters that even if the protestors, many in wheel chairs, were removed by the police, they have been instructed "to go right back and if they are locked up and have to make jail time, I am prepared to join  them".
 Daniel said the action by the DPI was to highlight the fact that "we are human beings, even if we are not treated like that."
Acting Police Commissioner Everald Snaggs said on Wednesday that the protest action by the DPI members outside the compound of the National Flour Mills (NFM) was in contravention of the law and he was advising them to break up their action.
 The DPI members have been protesting lack of jobs and other facilities in Trinidad and Tobago. They have in recent months staged dramatic events including lying on the streets in the capital to highlight their plight.
Their protest camp outside the NFM on one of the country's main highways has been described as unsafe for workers at the facility. The DPI members had chosen outside the company after it refused to hire one of their members more than three months ago.
 NFM communications manager Donna Cox told reporters that the company had written the police seeking their assistance in getting the disabled people away from the facility. 


OECS Economic Affairs Ministers to meet in St. Vincent

CASTRIES, ST. Lucia, CMC - Economic Affairs Ministers from the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will meet in St. Vincent and the Grenadines later this month, according to an official statement issued here on Thursday.
 It said that OECS Economic Affairs Committee (EAC) would discuss the implementation of the OECS Development Strategy, approved by the OECS Government Leaders a year ago, during the August 11-12 meeting.
"The strategy is designed to facilitate the best possible response by OECS member countries to negative fallouts arising from the ever-changing global economy. To this end the strategy attempts to identify key areas OECS Members may want to pursue to help ensure continuous growth and stability while confronting challenges," the statement said.
 The two-day meeting will also examine the capacity of member countries to respond to global economic demands, evaluating key sectors such as Information and Communications Technology, Agriculture, Export Development, Education and Training, Health, and Tourism.
 Director of the OECS Economic Affairs Division (EAD) Randolph Cato said that the existing global economy underscores the urgency for the implementation of OECS Development Strategy by member states.
He said this would help inform a consistent and coherent regional framework that could provide a further anchor for the initiatives that must be pursued.
The statement said that the meeting would also provide an opportunity for the delegates to "discuss how their respective and varied capacities will inform External Trade Negotiations relating to core issues such as the World trade Organisation and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas".
 It said that delegates will also be briefed on WTO Negotiations and preparations for the upcoming Ministerial slated for Mexico in September.
A report on the launch of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and updates on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy as well as the OECS Economic Union Programme are also part of the agenda for the meeting.
The OECS groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands. 


ECCB Bills to Get Added Anti-counterfeit Features

ST. KITTS (CMC) -- The Eastern Caribbean Central bank (ECCB) announced plans on Wednesday to upgrade the security features of the Eastern Caribbean currency in a bid to "thwart the efforts of counterfeiters."
In a statement, the Bank, which serves as the Central Bank for members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), said it was taking "steps to enhance the security features of its family of banknotes."
"Upgrades are being made to the security thread and the filigree foil features, and new notes will be phased into circulation, beginning later this month," the ECCB said.
It said "the security thread in the new notes will fluoresce under UV light, and the letters ECCB as well as the value of the note will be seen in yellow, against a blue background on the front of the note. When viewed from the back, the thread will appear yellow-green in colour. A second security thread is also being added."
"The notes will have a highly reflective silver filigree foil on which the value of the note will be evident. The letters ECCB, as well as the denomination,will also be visible in fine print around the foil, which having been overprinted with intaglio, a special banknote process, will have a unique "raised" feel."
The Bank said that circulation of the new notes will begin in St. Lucia later this month, with the introduction of the five-dollar bill, followed by the other denominations.
"The Bank anticipates that the upgraded notes will be introduced in the other ECCB member territories, on a phased basis, starting in 2004, as and when stocks of the existing notes become depleted," it said.


Seaga Warns Jamaica To Guard Sovereignty

JAMAICA (CMC) -- Opposition Leader Edward Seaga called on Wednesday for Jamaica to guard its sovereignty as he questioned moves by several Caribbean Community  CARICOM) states to deepen the regional integration. In a statement marking the Jamaica's 41st anniversary of independence, Mr. Seaga pointed to failed attempts by several Caribbean countries to form the Federation of the West Indies between the 1950s and early 1960s.
The Jamaica Labor Party leader noted that the matter of Jamaica's sovereignty was settled through a national referendum in 1961 in which Jamaicans opted to seek independence on its own.
"The question of Jamaican sovereignty has still not been put to bed. It is beginning to surface again as the movement for deeper regional integration moves into sharper focus. The debate is now taking on emotional overtones as many see integration of the English speaking Caribbean as an emotional goal which will tie together the collective heritage of Caribbean people," Mr. Seaga said.
 "Those of us who argued against emotional reasoning in the pre-independence period and sought to lift Jamaica out of the mix with the supreme self confidence that we could be a nation on our own, will still resist any attempt to derogate from our sovereignty." The Opposition Leader insisted that Jamaica has the right mix of resources and strategic location to stand as a successful nation on its own.
He sought, however, to dismiss the notion that he was against regional integration saying, "it is not that we love them less, but that we love Jamaica more!"


Jamaica to Begin Levying New Tax on Gaming Sector

JAMAICA (CMC) -- Jamaica will implement a new tax system for the Gaming sector on Monday and Director-General for Tax Administration Clive Nicholas said he will be doing checks with lottery companies to determine if they have made changes to their computer systems to facilitate the tax.
Mr. Nicholas said his department was not willing to grant further extensions for the companies to make preparations.
During his budget presentation in April, Finance Minister Dr. Omar Davies announced that General Consumption Tax would have been imposed on the sector effective June 2.
Implementation was delayed, however, as the Jamaica Lottery Company and Supreme Ventures said they needed additional time to re-configure their systems and hold discussions with the Finance Ministry on how the tax should be levied.


Voters casting ballots in two by-elections in Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands, CMC - Voters were on Thursday casting ballots in two by-elections here that could affect the incumbent Peoples Democratic Party (PDM) term in office.
The ruling PDM needs to win both seats in order to ensure it remains in  office while the Opposition Progressive National Party (PNP) needs to win only one seat to control the Legislative Council.
 The polls opened at seven o' clock on Thursday and will close 12 hours later, with the results expected to be announced later on Thursday evening.
 Following the April 24 general election in which the PDM won seven of the 13 seats, candidates from both the PDM and the main PNP filed three election petitions.
 However the PDM withdrew its petition against the PNP Leader, Michael Misick.
 In the other two petitions, the High Court here agreed with PNP allegations of various errors and election irregularities during the April 24 general election and ordered the two by elections.
As a result of the ruling, the electoral victories of Minister of Works Noel T. Skippings and Minster of Natural Resources, Sean R. Astwood, were declared null and void.
  To date, only once in the history of the Turks and Caicos Islands has a by-election been held.  This was in 1980, when the country's first Chief Minister, James Alexander George Smith McCartney was killed in a plane crash on May 9.


CIDA-CPEC support Caribbean poultry sector

St. Lucia, CMC - The St.Lucia based Caribbean Regional Programme For Economic Competitiveness (CPEC) says it is making significant progress in the re-development of the poultry industry within the Organisation of East Caribbean States (OECS).
 The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded CPEC, says it is also working with poultry interests in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Belize, and Suriname in reducing the dependence on imports while increasing the production of quality, disease free chicken and eggs.
So far the organisation has provided CDN$630,000 (US$444,000) towards developing the poultry industry in the region.
 "This is an area where the Caribbean has in the past years been relying heavily on imported chicken and chicken products from the United States, and there is now significantly reduced dependence upon imports," says CPEC's Regional Project Manager Melvin Edwards.
 Edwards said the OECS, whose poultry's sector has been facing difficulties for sometime, were now pooling their resources to strengthen the industry in the sub region.
 "We are working closely with the Caribbean Poultry Association  (CPA) and the UWI School of Vet nary Medicine on this programme and so far we are pleased with the results, with two major regional learning workshops already held and the third scheduled for Trinidad and Tobago next week," Edwards said.
Edwards was referring to a Broiler Processing Standards workshop held last March in Barbados and a similar workshop Table Eggs held in Trinidad last year. Port of Spain will host a follow-up workshop from August 13-15.
"These are relatively large Human Resource Development exercises where the industry leaders in conjunction with the regional and international resource personnel recruited by CPA develop regional standards consistent with internationally accepted best practices and which would be endorsed by the national Bureaus of Standards, Ministries of Trade and Agriculture, and CARICOM," he said.
 The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat through its Standards of Quality  programme is also working closely with the regional stakeholders on the initiative.
 "Evidently there are strong economic and social gains from a combined approach to strengthening and modernizing the poultry industry, and the region's dependence on lower grade imports is being reduced while, if addressed on a consistent and integrated basis, the quality, price and safety of local poultry and poultry products can soon become the preferred choice in our markets".
 Edwards said that this is already the position in Belize and Guyana, while in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica there is at least 60 per cent consumption of local as against imported chicken, and chicken products.
"It's all about the sophistication of the industry's standards and management processes including surveillance methods to ensure that the region remains relatively disease-free," he said.
"In this way consumers of Caribbean foods, both visitor and local, will be confident with the superior quality, competitive price and proven consistency of regional products ", he added.


Jamaica gets OPEC funding

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC - The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is providing Jamaica with US$5 million loan for development projects on the island.
 The OPEC loan, which is for seven years inclusive of a two-year moratorium, will be used by the Development Bank of Jamaica (BDJ) for on lending to approved institutions, according to a Government statement.
The OPEC loan was one of two resolutions approved by parliament last week on motions moved by the State Minister for Finance and Planning Fitz Jackson.
 Opposition spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw enquired about the interest rates that would be applied to loan recipients under the DBJ programme.
"I hardly need to qualify the need for a discussion on the appropriateness of seeking the lowest possible interest rate on any special windows that we access such as this window that is being discussed today," he said.
"It is a fact that we are operating in a country where interest rates remain high and because of these high interest rates it continues to militate seriously against the ability of the country to see substantial expansion of investment".
 But Jackson told legislators that loans in US currency from the DBJ has an interest rate of nine per cent and for those in Jamaica dollars, it was in the region of 13 per cent.
 He said that in terms of high interest rates, the DBJ operated differently from the commercial banks.
 "I can assure that if the Member had any potential manufacturer or tourist interest. they also can access this facility that will be made available through the DBJ," he said.
 The other resolution approved by Parliament will go towards financing the National Health Fund (NHF).
 The J$400 million loan (US$6.7million) will be accessed by the Health Corporation Limited (HCL) under the Approved Organizations and Authorities Loans (Government Guarantee) Act.
 The terms of the loan is for five years at an interest rate of 15 per cent per annum and is payable semi-annually with a moratorium period of one year.


Dominica Prime Minister advised to seek medical attention in the United  States

Dominica, CMC - Prime Minister Pierre Charles will travel to the United States this weekend for further medical treatment, on the advice of his cardiologists, according to an official statement issued here on Friday.
Charles returned home from Trinidad last weekend after consultation with his personal physicians on his health status. The Prime Minister had earlier this year undergone coronary angioplasty procedure at the Mount Hope Medical Complex in Trinidad.
A release from the Prime Minister's office said that "there has been re-narrowing of the  coronary artery and the vessel needs to be further dilated with additional technology".
 "The full complement of technology is not available in the Caribbean, and Mr. Charles' team has recommended that he be seen at a specialized center where the new technology is being used," the statement said.
Last month, Charles' doctors here advised him to take a few days rest, after he was diagnosed with chest discomfort.
Last year, the Prime Minister was treated here and in the neighbouring French island of Martinique for deep vein thrombosis. 


Caribbean Poultry Sector Grows More Self-reliant

ST. LUCIA (CMC) -- The St. Lucia-based Caribbean Regional Programme for Economic Competitiveness (CPEC) says it is making significant progress in the re-development of the poultry industry within the Organisation of East Caribbean States (OECS).
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)-funded CPEC says it is also working with poultry interests in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Belize, and Suriname in reducing the dependence on imports while increasing the production of quality, disease-free chicken and eggs.
So far the organisation has provided CDN$630,000 (US$444,000) towards developing the poultry industry in the region.
 "This is an area where the Caribbean has in the past years been relying heavily on imported chicken and chicken products from the United States, and there is now significantly reduced dependence upon imports," says CPEC's Regional Project Manager Melvin Edwards.
Mr. Edwards said the OECS members, whose poultry sectors have been facing difficulties for some time, are now pooling their resources to strengthen the industry in the sub region.
 "We are working closely with the Caribbean Poultry Association  (CPA) and the UWI School of Veterinary Medicine on this programme and so far we are pleased with the results, with two major regional learning workshops already held and the third scheduled for Trinidad and Tobago next week," Mr. Edwards said.
Edwards was referring to a Broiler Processing Standards workshop held last March in Barbados and a similar workshop Table Eggs held in Trinidad last year. Port of Spain will host a follow-up workshop from August 13-15.


Opposition party wins by-elections in Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands, CMC - The opposition Progressive National Party (PNP) has won the two-bye elections here, effectively taking control of the Government.
The PNP's Lillian Robinson-Been defeated former Minster of Natural Resources Sean R. Astwood by a margin of 10 votes while former Minister of Works Noel T. Skippings was defeated by the PNP's new comer Mc.Allister Hanchell by 22 votes.
 According to the preliminary results, Robinson-Been polled 290 votes as against 280 cast for Astwood, while Hanchell received 160 votes as against 138 cast for theformer Government minister.
The by-elections in the Five Cays, Providenciales and South Caicos, North constituencies were as a held of a High Court ruling that agreed that the April 24 general elections had been plagued various errors and irregularities.
In the April 24 poll, the then ruling Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) had won seven of the contested 13 seats, while the PNP won the remaining six seats. With the result of Thursday's by-elections, the PNP now has eight seats to the PDMs five.
Following the April general elections, three election petitions were filed in the Supreme Court here. However the petition against the PNP leader Michael Misick was later withdrawn.
On June 19, Chief Justice Richard Ground declared void, the election results in the two constituencies elections in Five Cays, Providenciales and South Caicos, North constituencies.
The by-elections here were monitored by a team from the Britain and three observers from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states.


FEATURES

Sky Watchers Will See Mars As No Human Has Ever Done

The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! During July and August, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the past 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again.

The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification, Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the East at 10 p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.

By the end of August, when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30 a.m. That's pretty convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded history. So, mark your calendar to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Share this with your children and grandchildren.

see also: www.space.com/spacewatch/mars_preview_021108.html

(Editor’s note: Our thanks to Wolf Krebs for calling this notice to our attention).


HISTORY IN SMALL DOSES

By Professor Howard A Fergus, UWI

MARY ROSE TUITT: A WOMAN OF WORTH

Women in Montserratian politics were until very recently a sparse breed. And yet compared to the other Leeward Islands, this country is well ahead, although only eight of the fairer sex have graced the hallowed halls of Council.  Mary Rose Tuitt (the former Mary Peters) was only the second woman to succeed at the hustings when in 1970 she was returned as Member for the Southern District.  She followed another Rose, Margaret Rose Kelsick, who preceded her by nine years.  Mary Tuitt has the distinction of being the first lady Minister of Government, when in 1978 she assumed responsibility for Education and Health and Welfare.  With her addiction to poise, deportment and proper speech, she imparted dignity and flair to the position.  She also brought a level of learning to the political marketplace.

A number of significant developments came during Mrs. Tuitt’s tenure as Minister.  Junior secondary education and a technical college were established to create more and better opportunities for students at the post-primary level.  The expansion also occurred at the bottom end with the introduction of pre-schools.  She may not have been the prime mover in every case, but the developments had her support.  And the Kingdom of Jersey’s gift of a school at Long Ground was certainly her initiative. As Montserrat’s first lady Minister of Government, the late Mary Tuitt was a worthy trailblazer and exemplar.

Even without the benefit of political office Mary Tuitt was poised for prominence.  She headed schools in St. Patrick’s and Kinsale at a time when a certain amount of prestige, if not veneration, attached to the village headmaster or headmistress.  From all accounts she was among the better HTs of her day and her perception that she should have been elevated to the prestigious position of Inspector of Schools, may have had merit.

Mrs. Tuitt’s contribution to community life and development is beyond debate.  A churchwoman par excellence, she sang in the St. Anthony’s choir for three decades and was a member of the vestry for some 17 years.  For 16 of these years she held the position of bishop’s warden.  It was Mrs. Tuitt’s interest in arts and culture that generated the thinking which led to the establishment of a Christmas Festival Committee which spearheads the planning for the island’s most extravagant festival.  It has economic as well as recreational implications.

Mrs. Tuitt’s prowess and achievement at the sport of netball is another huge claim to fame which elevates her above the ordinary.  She first shone in the game at the Montserrat Secondary School and went on to play in her first international tournament in 1950.  She has been captain, manager and manager-player of the Montserrat team.  Under her management, Montserrat defeated all the teams in the 1959 West Indian tournament with the sole exception of Trinidad.  It was a merited and coveted honour when in 1963 Mary Tuitt was both president of the Montserrat Netball Association and the West Indies Netball Board.  Her capability was internationally recognized and Montserrat’s image shone.

Mary Tuitt’s versatility was evident in the many career niches which she filled.  For a period, she managed the historic Coconut Hill Hotel of the Osborne family and following defeat in politics (narrowly through an historic tied ballot) she joined the administration of the American University of the Caribbean, an offshore medical school with bankable results for Montserrat’s economy.

Gender aside, this is a solid contribution by an outstanding citizen of Montserrat. Mrs.  Tuitt was and is a good role model at a time when these are not plentiful.  I feel privileged to have memorialized this woman in my Gallery Montserrat.  For accolades such as the Montserrat Badge and Certificate of Honour and the Funkyman Award, important as they are, seem inadequate to celebrate Mary Rose Tuitt.  She is worthy of a fadeless rose in the bouquet of our history.


MAN FROM BAKER HILL

WHAT’S HAPPENNING?

Life on Montserrat is not normal anymore.

We are living a big lie. We are losing it. The volcano is taking its toll on us.

There is too much uncertainty.  There is too much debt. There is too much suppressed fear.

The Government say that Montserratians owe $50 million dollars in tax arrears.  The Banks say that Montserrations owe $50 million dollars in uncollectible debt.  The merchants say that Montserrations owe $5 million dollars in non-recoverable debt.

These debts are the breeding grounds for fear and uncertainty.

This is very serious, and whether we admit it or not, the situation affects the moods of all Montserrations, not just the debtors and the creditors.

A mood of fear and uncertainty has embraced every fibre of Montserrat.

And no matter whom we are; we are affected in someway, whether socially, physically or mentally. That is because the success of Montserrat is not about individual wealth.  It is about the peace, security, happiness and harmony of Montserrations. And we will never achieve security and harmony when there is so much debt and uncertainty in our land.

Some of us are afraid of losing the home environment to which we are accustomed. Others are afraid of never getting back to where they were in terms of wealth and happiness.   Plus, some of us are deathly afraid of living outside Montserrat and starting over.

So what is happening?

Things have changed.

 We no longer can move from childhood to adulthood with the same level of certainty as we were able to do before the onset of the volcanic activity.

No child of Montserrat can consider a future on Montserrat from the cradle to the grave.  No, there are educational, social and career obstacles that will cloud the vision of the best intentioned youth.

Similarly, few adults would say that the future looks certain; and that is because most of what is there to get goes to a special few.

And the merchants, the banks, the tax payers, what future is here for us? Still, we all are part of this 100 million dollar debt to ourselves.  Every Montserration is in some way or other consumed by fear and uncertainty because of his or somebody else’s debts. Yet we move about as if things are normal. We mask our fears by using words like resilience and tourist product.

Is this approach wise?  Is it working to our benefit?  Certainly we should be optimistic; but we have to be objective and practical as well.

We must acknowledge that the volcano changed things. And we must strive to regain as much normalcy as possible.

 The issue of debt is beginning to affect the way we socialize with each other. It is an important issue. We must address these massive debts which cause people to be fearful. After eight years of crisis management we should address it, and arrest this mood of uncertainty which is choking us.

After all, we are our neighbor’s keeper.  If our neighbor is debt rid denned, frightened and uncertain, there would be no joy in our life; because his mood will affect us also. Therefore, we must seek to assist each other in this crisis of debt. We must show compassion. And we must strive to be merciful to each other.

 It is not enough to tell the merchant to manage his business properly. Neither is it enough to brag that you do not owe any taxes, and that who owes tax must pay.

It is not enough to tell the ex-civil servant who evacuated to the UK to send some of her allowance to pay her mortgagee.  Neither is it not enough to tell the bank to foreclose on the editor’s property.

Instead, we must develop a National plan to deal with people’s indebtedness.

No one can dispute that every dollar of this massive debt was incurred to provide income and service to Montserrations. When Nick overspent, Dick received. Lou only borrowed to purchase from Sue.  We all benefited from the good old days. And somehow we must devise a grand method of National Debt forgiveness.

Yes, we must forgive debt.  The Government should forgive debt.  The banks and the merchants should forgive debts too.

This debt forgiveness must embrace the 50 million dollars of tax arrears.  It must cover the 50 million dollars owed to Banks by those persons whose properties are inaccessible in the unsafe zones.  It must consider the merchants who carry uncollectible debt for persons who had to flee from the volcano.  The Government must consider tax concessions to those who forgive their debtors.

Of course, this will be a huge project for Montserrat and might require the help of regional professionals.  But if we are serious about staying here; or if we are serious about encouraging people to return here; we must relieve them of the massive burden of fear and uncertainty.

We need a new beginning.

Right now, I see Montserrations wanting to go forward but unable to do so because debt has their heads buried in fear and uncertainty.

Also I see people whose feet remain poised to kick out at anyone who dare to come close to getting some of the things they want only for themselves.

So what’s happening?

The volcano is happening; it is only a kink of nature and we have to live with it. But who can live with unpayable debt and an active volcano, without fear and uncertainty?

Now do you understand why we must change the mood of Montserrat from fear and uncertainty to a mood of security and harmony?

Do you understand why we must develop a program of debt forgiveness?

It is very simple to do.

The first step towards this program should be a forum to listen to and to acknowledge one another’s fear caused by debt.

Yes we can create - What Is Happening?


TOURISM HIGHLIGHTS

NEW LOCATION FOR THE MONTSERRAT TOURIST BOARD OFFICES

From 1st August 2003, The Montserrat Tourist Board started operating from a new location in # 7 Farara Plaza in Brades, opposite The Government Headquarters.

This move is in keeping with other businesses that are currently located here in what is considered the commercial area of the island. The office is closer to both ports of entry, allowing for easier access to visitors who require information on the island.

The Montserrat Tourist Board was operating from the National Trust Headquarters in Olveston, just opposite the Montserrat Secondary School. The Trust is still operating from the same location in Olveston, and continues to welcome both locals and visitors to its Oriole Complex, which houses a gift shop and a natural history centre.

The Montserrat Tourist Board was formed as a body corporate under the 1993 Ordinance and is concerned with developing and promoting all aspects of the tourist industry.


VOLCANO LIMERICKS

 Mr. Confidence

The Chief Minister wants every foe

Of the airport at Geralds to know,

Once the airport is working

And the island is perking,

All you critics will have to eat crow.

 

Otherwise

If the CM is being imprudent

In boasting success when he shouldn’t,

He is bound to be galled

Should it later be called

The little airport that couldn’t.


 

JUS WONDERIN'

Jus wonderin if de local beauty queen stood a chance with the weight.

Jus wonderin if de local people did applaud her good talent performance.

Jus wonderin why some people don’t support them own.

Jus wonderin when we people do good, everybody does be supportive and when they don’t win, them is the worst thing out.

Jus wonderin if they will lose this one like how they does lose all de rest.

Jus wonderin if the people who threaten the teacher because she expose the l’l boy matter to the police don’t frighten them too end up behind bars.

Jus wonderin if she coming back for the court case.

Jus wonderin if is true a certain group of people does meet regularly to see ‘child movies’.

Jus wonderin who are really the members of this sick group and how dem get de movies in here.

Jus wonderin if by chance the ordinary people does look up to some members of this group.

Jus wonderin when jus wonderin reveal the group members how much people will be shocked.

Jus wonderin if is true that only a certain set of people getting single out as ‘working girls’.

Jus wonderin if the authorities realize that ‘working girls’ come in all forms, shapes and sizes.

Jus wonderin how much the fancy building renting for.

Jus wonderin what future sports have in this place.

Jus wonderin if the real problem is just not enough young people.

Jus wonderin if there is an apparent lack of professionalism in some o dem government departments.

Jus wonderin if foreigner trainers and consultants will note this and never come back to Montserrat.

Jus wonder in the Anglicans are thinking differently about church and their priests.

Jus wonderin which minister say to forget about the volcano.

Jus wonderin if is because the ash can be an asset why agriculture get so little assistance.

Jus wonderin if when them Jamaicans and Guyanese go fuh send home them money to they family, if the passport pages does suffer any damage.

Jus wonderin if all them Jamaican and Guyanese does look suspicious.

Jus wonderin if awe have to pay for the vacation because of the planned talks.

Jus wonderin if there will be any kissing this time.

Jus wonderin why he still marry her or she still marry him after the funny confusion.

Jus wonderin if all de $4 million really done fu true.

Jus wonderin who get de most of it.

Jus wonderin HMG feel trapped.

Jus wonderin if it is their own doing.

Jus wonderin if there is any suspicion that both Governor and Chief Minister suddenly gone on vacation.

Jus wonderin if someone tell dem they need stress bustas and how de res of us a go deal wid it.

Jus wonderin which one o dem minista say dat poor people no suppose to have property.

Jus wonderin if dat is de reason there is still uncertainty ova the housing situation.

Jus wonderin if people with houses in Cork Hill, Delvins, Foxes Bay, Delvins and Richmond Hill should not now throw in the towel.

Jus wonderin if the British not now jus waiting for us to fold.

 

Jus Wonderin

Jus wonderin if people don’t know little children should not be left home alone.

Jus wonderin why de CM was checking de landscape why he was driving in the middle of the road so slowly Wednesday morning.

Jus wonderin if de stress mek he lil tipsy or is something else.

Jus wonderin what he was spied at the corner house in St. Peters.

Jus wonderin is true that the landowners want back them land at Manjack and what will happen to the people who live in the government houses.

Jus wonderin if the same will happen to the people at Drummonds etc.

Jus wonderin if the agriculture department hear bout the wild pigs and what they can do about them.

Jus wonderin how much money them truckers getting with de cleaning up they doin.

Jus wonderin how much of the pie de small truckers getting.

Jus wonderin who checkin on de jobs as they vary from area to area.

Jus wonderin now that the EZ open all daylight, Expat Valley will get mo populated.

Jus wonderin if the Expat Valley residents happy now that the ‘breakfast club’ decide fuh extend the hours fuh them.

Jus wonderin if they will go easy on He, now that they closer to their wish.

Jus wonderin if HE smell some rat, that’s why he on more holiday or is just a stress buster.

Jus wonderin now that plenty the ash clean up if the hearing of the case will commence and especially HE not here.

Jus wonderin how much of the others will go away too for holiday.

Jus wonderin wha keep de CM here dis time that he did not leave island.

Jus wonderin how much was allocated to clean up the ministers properties.

Jus wonderin if the whole party getting like them too.

Jus wonderin since we can’t beat them, we might as well join them.

Jus wonderin when we join them if we will become the ‘Gray Corrupt Rock’ rather than the ‘Emerald Isle’.

Jus wonderin if de private sector businessmen and de big contractors giving them employees any of the hazard allowance they might get from the DfID money.

Jus wonderin how come we never get direct clean up money like that.

Jus wonderin if there ain’t going to be some fall-out over the $4million.

Jus wonderin the rumour that all that money done already could be true.

Jus wonderin if DfID will give more if and when the when money really done.

Jus wonderin if some people glad this disaster happen, so they can get some of the DfID free money.

Jus wonderin if is true the so called free money from DfID is we 2004 budget money.

Jus wonderin if the damage estimate even start yet.

Jus wonderin if they will call the spin doctors to come up with a figure.

Jus wonderin then if the whole island will evacuate and de people will go England.

Jus wonderin if the ash cleaning remind England of slavery days.

Jus wonderin how much of de workers praying fuh more rain to save them from cleaning de ash.

Jus wonderin why them foreigner getting so lil bit money fuh doing all the hard wuk.

Jus wonderin how much magic de magician perform de other night.

Jus wonderin if he could perform some magic and mek Montserrat get better.

Jus wonderin why he didn’t do some magic on the government and give them some extra brain power.

Jus wonderin if the nite deejay gone away fuh good.

Jus wonderin how some people getting more than one case of water and some in Salem and Olveston where no water is for hours only getting one bottle.

Jus wonderin if is a cattle ranch some big government yard is mek some people get close 150 thousand EC fuh clean them yard.

Jus wonderin if is only certain business or all businesses getting cleaning money.

Jus wonderin if some employees didn’t clean them wuk place, and had to wait pun the money from the Chamber of Commerce and NDF what would have happen to the wuk place dem.

Jus wonderin now with all this commotion with Antigua and them Internet lottery, if we still going to get we own.


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