english news

Venezuela’s Guaido says government plans to dissolve opposition-run legislature


CARACAS – Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said yesterday President Nicolas Maduro’s government is preparing to dissolve the opposition-run legislature and call new legislative elections, potentially escalating Venezuela’s political crisis.

Guaido, who is also head of congress, said the decision would be made today by the all-powerful Constituent Assembly – a parallel legislature controlled by the ruling Socialist Party – and could involve more arrests of legislators.Such a move would likely fuel criticism of Maduro in the international community and halt Norway-brokered talks between the government and Guaido allies meant to reach a negotiated solution to Venezuela’s political stalemate.(Reuters)…[+]

Trinidad: Sergeant arrested, beats wife inside police station


A Po­lice Sergeant was ar­rest­ed on Sun­day night af­ter he al­leged­ly at­tacked his wife in­side a po­lice sta­tion where she went to make a re­port that he had threat­ened to kill her. Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, around 8.45p pm on Sun­day, a 53-year-old Ch­agua­nas woman went to the San Juan Po­lice sta­tion and re­port­ed that dur­ing an ar­gu­ment with her hus­band, who is a po­lice sergeant, he threat­ened to shoot and kill her.

Mo­ments af­ter she left the build­ing, of­fi­cers in­side heard a woman scream­ing and saw a young woman run in­to the sta­tion, beg­ging for as­sis­tance for her moth­er. Re­spond­ing of­fi­cers saw the se­nior po­lice­man drag­ging his vic­tim along the street and in­ter­vened. The woman was tak­en back in­to the sta­tion where, ac­cord­ing to the sta­tion di­ary re­port, the se­nior of­fi­cer at­tacked her again.

He was then “es­cort­ed” out of the build­ing. Short­ly af­ter, the of­fi­cers were told of a man out­side the build­ing try­ing to dam­age the tyre of a car parked in front of the sta­tion. When they in­ves­ti­gat­ed, they again found the sergeant try­ing to dam­age the ve­hi­cle and tried to sub­due him. He al­leged­ly be­gan fight­ing back and was even­tu­al­ly ar­rest­ed and tak­en in­to hold­ing at the sta­tion. The of­fi­cers searched his pri­vate ve­hi­cle, which was parked near­by and found a pis­tol with three mag­a­zines and 27 rounds of 9mm am­mu­ni­tion.(Trinidad Guardian)…[+]

Bridging the digital divide for persons with disabilities


Policymakers and experts have identified ways in which persons with disability can enjoy the benefits of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). This, during a meeting hosted by ECLAC Caribbean.

While ICTs can break down barriers and ensure that everyone can participate actively in society, many people with disabilities are currently not able to use computers, access the internet or handle smartphones and other mobile technology. In the Caribbean, this is particularly worrisome, given that there are approximately 1.3 million persons with a disability of some kind and around 250,000 persons with a significant disability.

It is for this reason that ECLAC Caribbean undertook a study to research ways to bridge the digital divide that affects persons with disabilities. One of the solutions identified is the use of Universal Service Funds (USFs), which are instruments that can finance equal access to ICTs. USFs aim to increase access to telecommunication services through a levy on telecommunication providers.

In the subregion, there are currently ten USFs, and a further nine countries have legislation that would enable the establishment of a USF. Historically, USFs have faced challenges ranging from high levels of undisbursed funds to low levels of transparency and mismanagement.

Until recently, these shortcomings engendered a cautious approach to USF adoption for improving access to ICTs for persons with disabilities and other marginalised groups. However, new opportunities for increasing the effectiveness of USFs emerged today, during discussions among key stakeholders at the ECLAC Caribbean meeting.

Participants provided feedback on the findings of ECLAC’s latest study, offering perspectives on its conclusions and recommendations.   The meeting identified best practices and robust suggestions for countries wishing to establish or improve an existing USF to increase access to technology for persons with disabilities.

Participating today were persons with disabilities and their organisations, representatives from universal service funds, telecommunications departments and regulatory bodies from a number of Caribbean countries as well as from regional telecommunications organisations, including the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU)…[+]

Trump condemns white supremacy, vague on gun measures after U.S. shootings


WASHINGTON– President Donald Trump yesterday proposed tighter monitoring of the internet, mental health reform and wider use of the death penalty in response to two mass shootings over the weekend that left 32 people dead in Texas and Ohio.

Trump, a Republican, whom Democrats have accused of stoking racial divisions, said Americans must “condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” a day after Texas officials said racial hatred was a possible motive in the killings of 22 people in the southern border city of El Paso.

A 21-year-old white man has been charged with capital murder in Saturday’s shooting spree at a Walmart store. Police in El Paso cited a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto posted online shortly before the shooting, which they attributed to the suspect, Patrick Crusius.

Trump did not address accusations that his own anti-immigrant and racially charged comments have contributed to a rise in race tensions, nor did he call for broad gun control measures. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated,” he said in remarks at the White House. “Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.”(Reuters)…[+]

Church leaders distance themselves as disgraced pastor awaits sentencing on sex charges


The Kingston-based Harvest Temple Apostolic Church has vowed to press on, declaring that it has nothing to be ashamed of as its disgraced pastor awaits sentencing on sex-related charges after impregnating a 12-year-old girl.

Last week, Pastor Kenneth Blake pleaded guilty to two counts of having sex with a person under 16 years old and one count of sexual touching in the Home Circuit Court. He had been denying the charges for two years, despite DNA tests revealing that there was a 99.9 per cent chance he was the father of the minor’s child.

At yesterday’s first Sunday service since the guilty plea, senior church leaders insisted that the pastor’s sins would not be the congregation’s shame.

“God doesn’t deal with wrong. If somebody is wrong, then they will receive their pay for what they do. I am free through the Son of God and there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus,” a female elder, who did not wish to be identified, told The Gleaner after yesterday’s service. “What happened cannot affect the church, which is built on Jesus Christ. I am not afraid and I am not cast down because the church didn’t do anything wrong,” she added.(Jamaica Gleaner)…[+]

July confirmed as hottest month on record


July this year was the warmest month ever recorded worldwide, satellite data has confirmed. The assessment was carried out by researchers at the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).  Scientists say it’s the latest sign that Earth is experiencing unprecedented warming. Scorching heatwaves saw records tumble across Europe last month, with unusually high temperatures within the Arctic Circle as well. Globally, July 2019 was marginally warmer – by 0.04 degrees Celsius (0.072 Fahrenheit) – than the previous hottest month on record, July 2016. July was ‘marginally’ world’s warmest month ever. (BBC)…[+]

Trinidad couple lose home, cars in fire


A Cedros couple watched helplessly on Friday evening as fire destroyed their home amounting to an estimated $1 million in losses. Siparia fire-fighters responded to the report of a house on fire at Bell View Trace, Chatam, Cedros at about 7 pm. The homeowners Steve Joseph, 57, and his wife Shirley Charles, lost their two bedroom one two-storey house and four vehicles which were parked on the ground floor.

A devastated Joseph said he could not believe that he lost everything he owned within an two hours. “I got the hose and started straying the fire but the water pump went out and there was no water to extinguish the fire,” said Joseph, an employee of the Siparia Regional Corporation.

He was unable to save anything as the fire spread rapidly through the house. He was downstairs fixing a car when the house lights began to flicker. When he went to check on what was happening with the electricity, he saw his home was on fire.

Joseph told Sunday Newsday that the Siparia firefighters took just over an hour to reach his house which was completely engulfed in flames by the time they arrived. He believes part of the property could have been saved if they responded earlier.

“There is no fire service station in Cedros. Therefore, we are at high risk when a fire takes place in this part of the country,” he said.(Trinidad Newsday)…[+]

Honduran president denies links to drug trafficking

drug link

TEGUCIGALPA-Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on Saturday denied reports from a U.S. court filing linking him to drug trafficking, accusing criminals of seeking revenge against him.

“The drug traffickers are looking for revenge against the only president who’s done what he’s needed to do,” he told a news conference, detailing his efforts to curb illegal drug sales in the small Central American country where drug gangs have prominent strongholds. Hernandez specifically opposed a report from U.S.-based Spanish language broadcaster Univision in which he said he was described as implicated in a campaign finance conspiracy.

Univision had detailed a 44-page document related to the upcoming drug trafficking trial in New York of Hernandez’s brother, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez, that contained testimony from someone who appeared to be a former official. “These are false accusations made by a drug trafficker,” Hernandez said, while acknowledging that such a document had been put before a U.S. judge.(Reuters)…[+]

United States Government and the Caribbean Development Bank join forces to support Saint Lucian youth


BRIDGETOWN- The United States Government and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) are working together to improve opportunities for vulnerable youth in Castries, Saint Lucia. The two entities today formalised their commitment to this collaboration, signing a Letter of Agreement that reaffirms their joint partnership with the Government of Saint Lucia on comprehensive violence prevention projects being funded by both institutions. During a brief ceremony held at CDB’s Barbados-based headquarters, Acting Mission Director, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Eastern and Southern Caribbean, Julia Henn, signed the agreement on behalf of the United States Government, while CDB Vice-President (Operations), Monica La Bennett, did so on behalf of CDB.

The signing formalises ongoing collaboration on the implementation of complementary youth initiatives – USAID’s regional Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Project and CDB’s Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) – in Saint Lucia. The agreement follows the establishment of a National Advisory Board to ensure effective in-country coordination, and facilitates sharing of information and best practices, maximisation of opportunities for communication to joint stakeholders and reduction in duplication of efforts to maximise impact.

Addressing the signing ceremony, CDB Vice-President (Operations), Monica La Bennett said, “The [Youth Empowerment] Project is intended to enhance the capacity of the Government of Saint Lucia and its implementing and participating agencies to deliver results-based youth empowerment responses to build the resilience and improve the life chances of vulnerable children, youth and their families. In this regard, CDB is pleased to partner with USAID to support the Government of Saint Lucia in addressing the complex citizen security challenges facing the country. CDB welcomes this partnership as we recognise that Saint Lucia’s development can only be enhanced through collaboration with partners such as USAID.”…[+]

Coffee baron’s death fuels India Inc anger over govt crackdown on wrongdoing


NEW DELHI– The apparent suicide of India’s coffee baron V.G. Siddhartha, under investigation by tax authorities, has inflamed anger towards the government among business leaders who feel it is going too far in its crackdown on fraud and tax evasion.

Drastic measures taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration include stringent action to enforce tax compliance, probes into bank lending practices and threatening auditors with five-year bans for alleged lapses in their work. In particular the push by tax collectors has been labelled ‘tax terrorism’ by T.V. Mohandas Pai, a former director of Indian IT giant Infosys Ltd, even before the Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd founder disappeared and his body was later found floating in a river in southern India on Wednesday.

In a letter circulating on social media since Tuesday and purportedly written by Siddhartha to the firm’s board and employees, he said he “gave up”, blaming tax authorities for “harassment” and decisions that caused a liquidity crunch as well as an unnamed private equity partner for pressuring him into a share buyback.(Reuters)…[+]