Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer recently launched a series of television addresses by ministers of his ruling United Progressive Party (UPP) as he seeks a mandate from voters for a third consecutive term in office.
Prime Minister Spencer has not yet named a date for the polls, blaming the hold-up on two matters before the Court of Appeal, filed by the main opposition Antigua Labor Party (ALP).
The ALP has described the government as illegitimate and recently boycotted the sitting of Parliament as a show of protest.
The party has been staging pickets and other actions, in a bid to force Spencer to name a date for the election.
In his 23-minute broadcast, Spencer told viewers his administration had done much to improve the socio-economic situation in Antigua and Barbuda since his ruling UPP party came into power in 2004.
He said his UPP had “delivered” on its promises to citizens, adding “over 280 pledges have been honored over the past 10 years.”
The son of a senior official of the Attorney General Office was among three pilots who were remanded to prison on drug smuggling charges.
Darrryl Bartlett Jr., the son of Albertha Bartlett, deputy director of legal affairs, Murillo Sullivan and Canadian Michael Webster, appeared before Magistrate Andrew Forbes to face 12 charges related to the smuggling of marijuana, hashish oil and ecstasy pill.
The men were arrested at the Lynden Pindling International Airport on April 7, 2014 during a joint operation by the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The police said acting on intelligence law enforcement officials went to the Executive Flight Support section of the airport, where they conducted a search of a Hawker jet that had just arrived from Montreal, Canada.
During the search, the officers allegedly found four suitcases containing 149 pounds of marijuana, 17.4 pounds of ecstasy pills and 2.6 pounds of hashish oil.
The men were charged with drug possession with intent to supply, conspiracy to possess drugs with intent to supply, importation of drugs and conspiracy to import drugs in relation to each drug.
The men have denied the charges and will return to court on June 19.
Dominican health authorities have urged nationals to adhere to measures to prevent the spread of the chikungunya disease on the island.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Johnson said that while there were 81 confirmed cases, more than 500 suspected cases were also being dealt with.
Dr. Johnson said that the Ministry of Health is concerned that many people were not adhering to the measure outlined to prevent the spread of the viral disease carried mainly by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and causes a dengue-like sickness.
Symptoms include a sudden high fever, severe pain in the wrists, knuckles, ankles, muscle pain, headache, nausea and rash. The symptoms appear between four and seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito.
The Grenada government says it is collaborating with the St. George’s University on the island and other foreign investors to build a substance rehabilitation center that will become the flagship for the island’s tourism.
Among the major investors of the initiative is the New York-based Ambassador at Large for Grenada Rabbi Michael Melnik, who has been described as a longstanding friend of Grenada.
A government statement said he was part of a high level delegation of international investors who met with Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to discuss the project, which will be a public-private sector venture.
The statement from the Office of the Prime Minister said that Dr. Mitchell noted the importance that such a facility will have on the lives of many Grenadian citizens abroad who will like to return in their twilight years but who do not yet have the confidence in the local healthcare system.
Chancellor of the St George’s University Dr. Charles Midica said the establishment of a medical tourism facility would further solidify the joint partnership between the University and the Grenada government, as well as provide a rich legacy of working to ensure that healthcare is comprehensive, affordable and improved for all.
Guyana recorded its eighth consecutive year of economic growth in 2013, expanding by 5.2 per cent, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh said.
Delivering the Guy$220 billion tax-free budget to the National Assembly recently, Sing said non-sugar gross domestic product (GDP) grew even more rapidly by 6.3 per cent, reflecting the underlying strength of the other sectors of the economy.
Singh said it is significant to note that the eight years from 2006 to 2013 represent the longest period of uninterrupted real economic growth in independent Guyana.
The minister said while the overall performance of the economy remained strong, the sugar industry continued to struggle.
He said sugar production contracted by 14.4 percent in 2013 to 186,770 tons, extending further the industry’s underperformance in recent years.
Singh said on the other hand the rice industry had another favorable year, with production of 535, 439 tons last year, a 26.p percent increase over the previous year’s output and setting a new record for the highest ever annual production in the history of the industry.
He told legislators that production of other crops grew by 4.2 percent, while livestock production increased by 4.3 percent.
The Guyana-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat said that a new school built under the Medianet Haiti Relief Fund (MHRF) will be named in recognition of CARICOM’s “solidarity” with the project.
The new building is to be known as CARICOM Community School of Digue Matheux, CARICOM said.
Under the project, 15 houses were also handed out to new owners.
Assistant Secretary General in charge of Foreign and Community Relations, Colin Granderson, said the ceremony was the culmination of a promise made by Ambassador Reginald Dumas, MHRF chairman,”to a make difference in Haiti.”
Dumas had served in 2004 as special adviser on Haiti to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
Granderson said the project in Digue Matheux, a small farming community 40 miles from Port-au-Prince, should also be viewed as a gesture of solidarity from CARICOM to the people of Haiti.
The MHRF is a partnership between Ambassador Dumas and One Caribbean Media.
Resources under the fund were acquired through contributions from citizens and private companies of the Caribbean.
Jamaica police have promised to continue co-operating with the Independent Commission of Investigations (Indecom) after it alleged that senior police officers are being investigated for their alleged roles in alleged extrajudicial killings.
Indecom Commissioner Terrence Williams told a news conference that police officers from Clarendon, Manchester and St. Elizabeth had been arrested for two murders that initially been reported as homicides committed by civilians.
“The Commission intends to consider carefully whether any senior officer permitted, ordered or acquiesced in the activities, which led to these killings, and if there is evidence that shows matters are out before the proper tribunal for a determination,” he added.
So far four police officers, Constables Collin “Chuckie” Brown, Carl Bucknor, Jerome Whyte and Detective Corporal Kevin Adams, have been charged with murder relating to killings that took place in Clarendon.
Adams has been charged with four murders, while Bucknor and Whyte face one charge of murder.
In addition, Brown has been slapped with conspiracy to murder and wounding with intent charges.
In a statement, the police said the investigations by Indecom had been conducted with the full support of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JFC).
Two men tragically lost their lives in an accident involving Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas in St. Kitts recently.
Reports are that the two men apparently were assisting with the unberthing process of the cruise ship vessel when their boat overturned while the ship was pulling out of port.
Eyewitnesses suggest that the cruise ship liner may have pulled out before the men had enough time to clear the berthing area.
The incident is under investigation.
A new National Security Special Operations Group (NSSOG) is being formed to deal with major issues that may occur, including terrorism activities, hostage negotiation or gang warfare.
This was revealed by Trinidad and Tobago National Security Minister Gary Griffith who said the NSSOG was a tactical unit geared for special initiatives.
The team will comprise of several arms of law enforcement agencies: Coast Guard Officers, prisons, immigration, customs and army.
“It’s a highly trained elite unit. This (type of unit is seen worldwide, when you have specially trained and prepared personnel for the frontlines,” Griffith said.
He said some professional training from overseas organizations is expected from the UK’s Special Air Services or U.S. agencies.
Compiled by Azad Ali