September 24, 2020

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iNews-briefs217Cubans picked up at sea by U.S. Coast Guard rises nearly 75%

By Christine Armario – AP From Clash Daily

The flood gates are opening. What do you think about this increase? Is it good… bad… or ugly?

MIAMI (AP) — It was hot and dark and mosquitoes bit at his skin as 23-year-old Jose Fuente Lastre boarded a raft with eight other men, intent on fleeing .

Their flimsy vessel built from scraps of metal, wood and inner tubes had failed repeatedly. Oil leaked. The propeller sputtered.

“I’m not going,” Lastre had announced. “It seems we weren’t meant to leave.”

“Don’t be a fool,” shot back his stepfather, Antonio Cardenas. “After trying this hard you have to try again.”

Four of their companions decided it was too risky, jumping out and wading back to shore.

Lastre looked at his stepfather’s wrinkled face. They had invested nearly everything they owned to build the raft.

They switched on the motor taken from a Russian tractor-trailer.

Tens of thousands of Cubans have made the harrowing journey on homemade rafts across the Florida Straits, preferring to risk their lives than remain in Cuba.

President Barack Obama’s promise to reverse 53 years of hostility has raised hopes that with normalized relations, Cubans will stop taking these risks. But Obama’s deal with President Raul Castro isn’t expected to stop the tide anytime soon. Obama lacks the votes in Congress to abandon the embargo and the provision allowing almost all Cubans who reach the U.S. to stay is law. This last year, the number of Cubans picked up at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard or making it to U.S. shores rose nearly 75 percent, from 2,129 to 3,722.

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Cayman Islands government job website experiences problems

The Cayman Islands National Workforce Development Agency (NWDA) has been experiencing problems with its website relating to difficulties for its clients accessing their account or registering online.

The NWDA website was taken down last Tuesday (23) and according to n NWDA spokesperson is now working after maintenance from the Computer Services Department (CSD).

The blame for the website problems was said to be due to the limitations of the software and budget cuts.

The testing of the new software took longer than anticipated an agency spokesperson said.


Judge sued for underpaying domestic helper

From Jamaica Observer

KINGSTON, Jamaica — A lawsuit has been filed in the Corporate Area Court accusing prominent Resident Magistrate Stephanie Jackson-Haisley of breaching the Minimum Wage Act and failing to turn over thousands of dollars due to an employee.

Jackson Haisley’s domestic helper, Paulette Wellington filed the suit in the civil division of the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate Court on Sutton Street downtown Kingston.

Wellington filed papers in court on November 3 this year, where she alleged that the RM employed her between October 2013 and February 2014.

Wellington said she had been underpaid and has been unsuccessful in her efforts to collect thousands of dollars owed to her by RM Haisley.

She also stated that she had obtained an assessment from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security on October 31, 2014.

The assessment, which was also filed in court, suggested that Wellington was underpaid for a period of her employment to RM Jackson-Haisley

According to the Labour Ministry, Jackson-Haisley and her husband possibly underpaid their employee an amount totaling between $30,000 and $90,000.

The Labour Ministry cited the National Minimum Wage order as the authority for its finding.

The monetary dispute was brought before Resident Magistrate Fiona Feare-Gregory on Friday and postponed until February 9 next year.

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Cayman Golf: Crellin tops CIGA series

From Digicel Sportsmax

Fiona Crellin took home the top spot in the 2014 CIGA Year Long Stableford Competition. During the year, members of the Cayman Island Golf Association participated in a series of 12 competitions from which scores were tabulated to determine an overall series winner. All rounds took place at the North Sound Golf Club.

Crellin accumulated an average score of 37.56 and received her prize from golf association past president and UBS representative Jason Perras.

Guy Dilliway was the runner up with a score of 37.0 while Karoly Szucs was third with 36.4; Emma Woodhouse was fourth on 35.4 and fifth was Bob Vere with 35.3.

The Stableford format is played the world over and involves taking the golfer’s actual score for a hole, deducting any handicap allowance and then awarding points on a sliding scale against what the par for the hole should be. If the net score – after handicap – is one over par then one point is awarded, two for a par, three for a birdie and so on. Over a full round of 18 holes, a golfer who plays to their handicap will get 36 points.

In order to be eligible for the prizes in the series, golfers must have completed at least seven rounds. The positions were determined on the basis of the average of each golfer’s best seven scores.

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CAL surprises passengers with travel packages for Christmas

From Loop News Service

, a Trinidad-based airline, is feeling the affect of action taken by pilots.

Caribbean Airlines (CAL) is surprising passengers with the gift of travel.

The airline announced that from December 22 to December 25, 2014, one passenger on each of its 25 randomly selected flights would receive a ticket to a Caribbean Airlines destination of his/her choice.

CAL added, however, that on January 4, the surprise is supersized with three passengers being gifted with four tickets each to any Caribbean Airlines destination. Passengers flying on Caribbean Airlines will also experience holiday cheer as the airline serves its signature cocktail, Caribbean Spice, featuring El Dorado Rums and Nestle Orchard fruit juices.

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Mum-to-be’s life support can be shut down, says Dublin court

From BBC

The High Court in Dublin ruled on the case after doctors sought legal advice on switching off life-support The High Court in Dublin ruled on the case after doctors sought legal advice on switching off life-support

A judge in Dublin’s High Court has ruled that a life-support machine may be switched off in the case of a brain-dead woman who is 18 weeks pregnant.

The woman’s family had wanted her life-support machine to be turned off.

Doctors had not granted their wishes as they were unsure of the legal status of the unborn child under the constitution in the Republic of Ireland.

The woman in the case was declared brain-dead on 3 December.

The court had heard that the chances of her unborn child being born alive were small.

‘Dignity in death’

Lawyers for the unborn child had told the court that it must be satisfied that there was no real possibility of the foetus surviving before allowing the machine to be turned off.

Lawyers for the Health Service Executive (HSE), the body which runs all public health services in the Republic of Ireland, had argued that it would be lawful to withdraw life-support in this case.

The woman is in her late 20s and has two other children.

The judge said that to “maintain and continue” the present support would “deprive her of dignity in death”.

“It would subject her father, her partner and her young children to unimaginable distress in a futile exercise which commenced only because of fears held by treating medical specialists of potential legal consequences,” he said.


Irish Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he would be carefully examining the ruling.

“I wish to convey my heartfelt sympathies to the family and partner of the woman at the centre of this case at this most difficult time – particularly given the season,” he said.

“This case and the judgement will need to be carefully examined before I can make any further comment on it.

“In the meantime, I would ask that the privacy of this family is respected, at this so difficult and challenging time.”

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would loosen bar to blood donations by gay men

By Andrew Ramonas, From Legal Times,

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the support of the American Red Cross, but not gay rights groups, as it moves forward with a plan to allow men to donate blood if they abstained from homosexual activity in the year before making the donation.

An existing ban bars men from giving blood if they have had sex with another man since 1977. The FDA instituted the prohibition in 1983 amid widespread worries about HIV transmission by gay men.

Although gay rights advocates the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD oppose the ban, they said the plan the FDA announced on Tuesday would be inadequate unless the agency removes all barriers to donations from homosexual and bisexual men. The Red Cross, the largest blood-collection organization in the United States, didn’t share that position. Richard Benjamin, its chief medical officer, said in a written statement that the proposed change in FDA policy is “consistent with the Red Cross position that the current lifetime deferral is unwarranted.”

David Stacy, the Human Rights Campaign’s government affairs director, acknowledged in a written statement that the plan represents “movement toward an optimal policy.” But he said any prohibition on donations from gay and bisexual men would continue to stigmatize them.

“This new policy cannot be justified in light of current scientific research and updated blood-screening technology,” Stacy said. “We will continue to work towards an eventual outcome that both minimizes risk to the blood supply and treats gay and bisexual men with the respect they deserve.”

FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said her agency would welcome public feedback on its plan when it issues draft guidance on the proposed change next year.

“We encourage all stakeholders to take this opportunity to provide any information the agency should consider, and look forward to receiving and reviewing these comments,” she said in a written statement.

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Top 10 most popular languages on Twitter

By Zoe Fox From Mashable

While English is the most popular language on Twitter, it may surprise you that the majority of published tweets are not in the mother tongue of the company’s founders.

Just over one-third (34%) of all tweets were in English in September. With 16%, Japanese is the second-most popular language on the microblogging network, while Spanish clocks in at third place.

Created by Statista, the attached chart, shows the 10 most popular languages on Twitter.

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Caribbean Airlines improves schedules

With increased customer loads, due in part to being the first airline in the world to rescind the fuel surcharge, Caribbean Airlines is pleased to announce a revised schedule that will be implemented from Jan 15, 2015 through to Feb 4, 2015. In addition to increased capacity and more non-stops, Caribbean Airlines is also expecting major cost savings from a more efficient schedule that will see better utilization of its 737 and 767 fleets. Many of the changes will focus on its Port of Spain hub at Piarco Airport, where improved connection times will make it easier for our guests to connect to/from various points in our network.

Some highlights of the new schedule changes include the following:

The launch of a new daily non-stop between Trinidad and New York featuring the first wide-body aircraft on the route, timed to provide an end-of-business day flight to the Big Apple.

A new daily departure on the Trinidad/New York route, increasing to 3 daily non-stops in each direction. With the one-stop service on this route, frequencies will increase to 48 per week – more than triple any other airline.

The popular Georgetown/New York route is increased to daily non-stops in both directions. Frequencies over Trinidad are improved with daily through flights to/from Toronto, Miami and New York.

As the only airline offering non-stops from Trinidad to London, Caribbean is increasing the frequencies, effective Feb 4, 2014 to four weekly flights.

Termination of Toronto-Georgetown non-stop flights (2 per week) effective 1st March 2015 – but replaced by a daily through flight in both directions.

Buoyed by the steep decline in its number one expense – aircraft fuel, Caribbean Airlines is confident that this new schedule will build on the airline’s goal to achieve profitability. The revised 767 flying patterns will see increased utilization and a more customer friendly schedule based solely on flights to/from its Trinidad hub.

Improved schedules go hand-in-hand with various product enhancements seen this past year such as; improved in-flight entertainment with new wall-to-wall screenings of the latest Hollywood releases, introduction of free digital headsets in all classes, a complimentary rum cocktail courtesy of world-famous El Dorado Rum and Nestle Orchard, hot meals on longer flights, free first checked-bag, and of course our renowned “Warmth of the Islands”. In early 2015 digital in-flight entertainment players are to be installed in the entire 737 fleet to improve the quality of screenings. Further enhancements to CAL’s product offering will be announced in 2015.



Shots fired at NC house where intruder slain earlier


(AP) Police are investigating after shots were fired into a house near Charlotte where a 14-year-old boy earlier shot and killed an intruder.

Area media outlets report the shots fired into the house near the Mint Hill community early Wednesday caused minor damage but no injuries. However the 14-year-old boy who earlier shot the intruder said the family feels the shots were fired in retaliation.

The boy was at home with his grandmother on Dec. 16 when an intruder tried to break into the house. In a 911 call, the grandmother describes her grandson telling the intruder to leave and shooting him when he did not.

The dead man was identified as 18-year-old Isai Delcid.

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Caribbean countries to benefit from new initiative

From Antigua Observer

WASHINGTON (CMC) – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are to benefit from a new initiative outlined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Washington-based financial institution says it has approved an extension of interest waiver for low income countries until the end of 2016.

The IMF had initially endorsed temporary relief of interest payments on all outstanding concessional loans for Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) eligible members in 2009, waiving all interest payments on PRGT loans through December 2011.

An IMF statement noted that two subsequent extensions of the exceptional interest rate waiver were approved by the IMF Board, first to end-December 2012 and then to end-2014.

“The latest action that was approved on December 11, 2014, is therefore the third extension of zero interest applied to IMF financing to the world’s poorest countries,” the IMF said in a brief statement.

Meanwhile, the IMF said it will now replace the three-month Eurepo rate as the euro component of the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) interest basket with the three-month spot rate for euro area central government bonds with a rating of AA and above published by the European Central Bank.

It said that this decision was taken in view of the upcoming discontinuation of the Eurepo rate as of December 31, 2014. The change in the SDR interest rate basket will be effective as of January 1, 2015 and will apply for the first time to the calculation of the weekly SDR interest rate for the interest rate period starting on Monday January 5, 2015.

The SDR interest rate provides the basis for calculating the interest charged to members on non-concessional IMF loans from the IMF’s general resources, the interest paid to IMF members on their remunerated creditor positions in the IMF and the interest paid to members on their SDR holdings and charged on their SDR allocation.

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South African youth fighting gun crime by riding the waves

From BBC

Youngsters from one of Cape Town’s gang-ridden townships have taken to riding waves in a unique project aimed at getting them away from a life of violence.

They are being taught to surf, in a project which is part of the efforts to reduce the level of gun crime in South Africa.

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NC exports to Cuba expected to grow as US normalizes relations

From Citizen-Times

(AP) RALEIGH – Despite the ongoing trade embargo with Cuba, North Carolina exports millions worth of agricultural products to the Caribbean nation each year.

And that figure is expected to grow as the United States normalizes diplomatic relations.

While President Obama last week announced the United States would establish full diplomatic ties with Cuba, it is up to Congress whether the trade embargo is lifted.

Peter Thornton, the associate director for international marketing for the state Department of Agriculture, tells media outlets that North Carolina has been exporting agricultural products to Cuba for years.

U.S. Census Bureau figures show that this year, through the end of October, the state exported nearly $8.5 million in such products to Cuba, which is the state’s 29th-largest trading partner for agricultural products.

“In time, it is going to grow, and it is going to grow fast,” Thornton told The News and Observer. “But we’re probably talking a few years before we see dramatic increases.”

One of the problems with exporting to Cuba has been financing, he said.

“One, the Cuban government doesn’t have a whole lot of money. Two, you can’t provide financing to Cuba,” he added, meaning companies in the state can’t offer credit for the purchase of agricultural products.

Thornton tells The Star-News of Wilmington that Cuba could potentially become the larger Caribbean market for the state.

Most of the state’s exports to Cuba are bulk commodities like soybeans, soybean meal and corn, he said.

Currently, he said, the Port of Wilmington doesn’t have direct shipping service to Cuba or the Caribbean. He said shipping of bulk commodities is out of Norfolk, Virginia, or Charleston, South Carolina.

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‘A life of fear and danger’: Living in the Cape Flats

From BBC

South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world and drugs and gun crime fuel the cycle of violence in the Cape Flats, an area notorious for gangs.

But technology is now being used to allow the police to intervene as soon as a gunshot is heard.

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Who Travels to Cuba?

iNews B cuba3From Caribbean Journal

In light of the recent rapprochement between the United States and Cuba, many wonder about the future of American tourism to Cuba, and what that will mean both for Cuba and for the rest of the region.

So we thought it might be helpful to show how many travelers are visiting Cuba, and where they come from.

Last year, just over 2.85 million people visited Cuba, according to data from the Caribbean Tourism Organization, with that number on track to increase by about 3 percent for 2014.

So where do they come from?

We looked at the Cuban government’s 2013 data on tourism to the island, which was led easily by the Canadian market, with more than 1.1 million tourists in 2013, accounting for just under 39 percent of all tourists to Cuba, according to Cuba’s National Statistical Office.

The next largest source market was the United Kingdom, with 149,515 tourists accounting for 5.2 percent of all travelers to Cuba, followed by Germany, with 115,984 tourists accounting for 4.1 percent.

While travel to Cuba has generally been illegal for Americans except under certain licenses, there were actually 92,348 United States tourists to Cuba in 2013, according to Cuban government data.

All in all, the island’s source markets were rather broad, with 22 countries each sending at least 10,000 visitors to the island.

Of course, should the opening of the Cuban market actually reduce tourism to other parts of the region, perhaps the Caribbean can make a renewed push to compete for a share of the 2.5 million people who have already been traveling to the island.

See the full 2013 data set below, from Cuba’s National Statistical Office.

iNews B Cuba

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Russia offers support to North Korea amid Sony hacking scandal

From Daily News

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said at a Thursday briefing that Pyongyang’s anger over ‘The Interview’ was ‘quite understandable.’ He also said that the U.S. had failed to offer any proof to back its claims of North Korea’s involvement in the hacking.

MOSCOW — Russia on Thursday offered sympathy to North Korea amid the Sony hacking scandal, saying the movie that sparked the dispute was so scandalous that Pyongyang’s anger was “quite understandable.”

Washington failed to offer any proof to back its claims of Pyongyang’s involvement in the hacking, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said at a briefing, adding that the U.S. threats of retaliation were “counterproductive.”

The U.S. has blamed Pyongyang for the recent cyberattack on Sony Pictures, which produced “The Interview,” a comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Pyongyang has denied a role in the hacking, but also praised it as a “righteous deed.”

Sony initially decided not to release the film because of threats against U.S. cinemas, but released the movie online Wednesday.

Russia’s ties with the communist North soured after the 1991 Soviet collapse, but have improved under President Vladimir Putin’s watch. Moscow has taken part in international efforts to help mediate the standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, although its diplomatic efforts have had little visible effect.

Last week, the Kremlin said that it had invited Kim to Moscow in May to attend festivities marking the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany.

Commenting on the Sony hack scandal, Lukashevich said that “the concept of the movie is so aggressive and scandalous, that the reaction of the North Korean side, and not just it, is quite understandable.”

He went on to say that Pyongyang had offered to conduct a joint investigation into the incident, adding that the proposal could help ease tensions and reflected a “sincere desire of the North Korean side to study the issue in detail.”

“We perceive the U.S. threats to take revenge and calls on other nations to condemn the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as absolutely counterproductive and dangerous, as they only would add tensions to the already difficult situation on the Korean Peninsula and could lead to further escalation of conflict,” Lukashevich said.

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Why Android is the key to Google’s plan to rule the world

android-robots-everywhereBy Brad Reed

Like a lot of major American companies, Google has had some issues dealing with the Chinese government. In fact, Google hasn’t invested any resources in the country for years and last year the government blocked all of Google’s major services including Gmail, Google Maps and Google Drive. It goes without saying that this is a bit of a problem for a company as ambitious as Google since China’s fast-growing economy represents a huge opportunity for every major tech firm. Thankfully for Google, it seems to have an ace up its sleeve in the form of Android.

The Information reports that Android has become Google’s unofficial “backdoor” to Chinese consumers who are buying up low-cost handsets from small-name vendors such as Xiaomi and Coolpad. This has essentially opened up a new channel to Google services for hundreds of millions of Chinese smartphone and tablet owners, all without Google making any significant investments within the country.

Of course, not every Android handset sold in China comes preloaded with Google’s major revenue-driving applications so it’s no lock that the proliferation of Android devices is a de facto boon for Google. Even so, sources at Google tell The Information that “there will be more Android device owners using Google services such as Web search, Gmail and Google Maps in mainland China than in the U.S. within the next year or two,” which means that Google expects more than 100 million Chinese users to use Google services through their Android devices next year.

Now that Apple has started regaining some major momentum in China in the lead-up to the iPhone’s launch on the country’s largest wireless carrier, it looks like China will be the next major battleground for the iOS-Android feud that has consumed the mobile world for the past few years.

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Barbadian pleads guilty to selling misbranded chemotherapy and cosmetic drugs

From Caribbean 360

VIRGINIA, United States, CMC – The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency says the Barbadian co-owner of an international drug company has pleaded guilty to selling misbranded drugs.

ICE said Talib Khan, 42, who is also co-founder of Gallant Pharma International, Inc. “pleaded guilty to selling misbranded chemotherapy and cosmetic drugs, and conspiracy to commit importation fraud, sell misbranded drugs, distribute prescription drugs without a license, and defraud the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration)”.

Many of the drugs sold by Khan’s company were required to contain a “black box” warning, the strongest warning issued by the FDA, “which indicates that a drug has a significant risk of serious or life-threatening adverse effects,” ICE said.

“The versions sold by Gallant Pharma did not meet this or other FDA labelling requirements. Many of the drugs sold by Gallant Pharma were also subject to strict temperature controls and were required to be shipped in dry ice to protect the drug efficacy, which Gallant Pharma could not do,” Ice said in the statement.

ICE said that Khan also resides in Montreal, Canada.

The immigration agency said two sales representatives for Gallant Pharma International, Inc., also pleaded guilty earlier this week to selling misbranded Botox and other drugs, following a joint investigation by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington; the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations; Washington Division of the US Postal Inspection Service; and the Arlington, Virginia, Police Department.

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Former Puerto Rican police commissioner jailed for possession of child porn

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, CMC – The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency says the former commissioner of the San Juan, Puerto Rico Police Department has been sentenced to 10 years in jailed followed by 15 years of supervised release for possession of child pornography.

ICE said its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force, conducted the investigation that led to the arrest, the guilty plea and subsequent sentencing of the former commissioner.

On December 8, 2011, Hilton Cordero-Rosario, 52, was arrested by HSI special agents on production and possession of child pornography charges.

According to the 21-count indictment, Cordero-Rosario had digital images and video files of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

He pleaded guilty on February 1 2013 to count 21 of the indictment, possession of child pornography, by signing a plea agreement that requires a 10-year prison sentence, ICE said.

Angel Melendez, the special agent in charge of HSI San Juan said the investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators

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