Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headlines News October 12th

By Ricardo Blackman | CDN Barbados

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

At least 20 years behind bars. That’s the maximum sentence Attorney-General Adriel Brathwaite would like handed down to those found to be members of gangs.  Speaking at yesterday’s National Consultation on Violence at the Gymnasium of the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, Brathwaite said tough anti-gang legislation was coming which he hoped would serve as a deterrent to criminals.  The attorney-general said while he was very concerned about the increase in gang-related activity, the intended legislation was not a “knee-jerk” reaction to the worrying levels of crime in the country.  “This consultation is one of the responses of my Ministry to address the increase in gun violence.  In the coming weeks, we will also witness the passing of anti-gun legislation that will give more power to our judiciary.”

Meanwhile, a local criminal justice expert has warned that Barbados could not allow its crime situation to reach the stage of that in Jamaica while pointing out that based on the results of a recent gang study, a “Don” culture was already emerging in Barbados.”   “One community was identified in the study as having been neglected for years with no agencies, failed programmes and years of neglect by successive governments” reported Kim Ramsay, senior research officer in the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unity (CTRPU). Ramsay made reference to the garrison community of Trivoli Gardens in Jamaica which fell under the command of the notorious drug lord and ex-leader of the so-called Shower Posse, Christopher “Dudus” Coke, for close to two decades before he was arrested on drug charges and extradited to the United States in 2010.

A Canadian travel researcher is warning Barbados and other tourism-dependent islands that they cannot afford to rest on their laurels in the wake of the devastation caused to the region by hurricanes Irma and Maria last month.  Senior Research Associate with the Canadian Tourism Institute, Jennifer Hendry, further cautioned that while the majority of regional territories were spared the wrath of the two powerful storms, in the minds of many Canadian travelers this was simply not the case.  “At the moment, there is a lot of uncertainty in the Canadian market because people are geographically unaware where the islands are actually located.  There is also a lack of information and conflicting reports about restoration efforts.

Two international agencies say it is becoming “increasingly unlikely” that hunger will be eradicated in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2030.  The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the world’s oldest international public health agency, working to improve the health and well-being of people in the Americas and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that hunger has increased in six (6) countries and now affects 2.4 million people in the region.   They said that the total number of individuals that suffer from hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean has increased, reversing decades of progress, while overweight affects all age groups in men and women, and constitutes a major health problem in all countries in the region of the Americas.

Dateline St. Georges, GRENADA:

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has started a five-day visit to Washington, during which he will have talks with World Bank and IMF officials.  Mr. Mitchell will  also attend the World Bank Annual Meeting and the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting and also lead the discussions at a small states forum on the issuer of climate change and resilience.

Dateline Basseterre, ST. KITTS:

Former Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas, has said that investigations will be carried out  in to any abuse of monies channeled into the recently announced Hurricane Relief Fund as part of the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIB). Responding to public concerns that the fund was being used as an option under the CBI programme to raise funds to cover EC$150 million in hurricane damage, Douglas agreed that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should have oversight.

The United Nations has taken sanctions against North Korea one step further, banning all nations from allowing four vessels listed for transporting prohibited goods in and out of the embattled East Asian country into their ports.  The list includes the HAO FAN 6, reportedly registered in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Dateline Nassau, THE BAHAMAS;

Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis has told the House of Assembly that all migrants in The Bahamas illegally, have until December 31st, 2017 to leave, after which they will be aggressively pursued and deported.  “This applies to all nationalities” Minnis said. “Those Bahamians who employ illegal migrants have until December 31st, 2017 to regularise those individuals or stop employing them”.  Minnis warned that that those who employ illegal migrants will be prosecuted.

BUSINESS:

LONDON:

The EU’s Chief NEGOTIATOR, Michael Barnier says there has not been enou8gh progress to move to the next stage of Brexit talks as the UK wants.  He said there was “new momentum” but there was still “deadlock” over the so-called divorce bill, which he said was “disturbing”.  “Decisive progress is in our grasp within the next two months” he added.

Luxury fashion brand GUCCI, will stop using animal fur in its clothing next year, beginning with its spring-summer collection.  Marco Bizzari, the Italian firm’s president and CEO announced the fur-free policy during the 2017 Kering Talk at the London College of Fashion. “Being socially responsible is one of Gucci’s core values and we will continue to strive to do better for the environment and animals” he said.

BELFAST:

Ireland’s High Court has ruled that a 850 million euro data centre planned by Apple in the west of Ireland may proceed, dismissing environmental challenges made by three people.  Apple announced plans to build the data centre in 2015 but the project had been delayed by planning objections.  A similar Apple centre announced at the same time in  Denmark, is due to begin operations later this year.

NEW YORK:

Bitcoin hit a new record high Thursday with rising investor interest causing a rally for the price of the cryptocurrency.  The Bitcoin price hit an all-time high of $5,167.90 in early trade on Thursday, according to data from industry website Coindesk.  This surpassed the previous high of $5,013.91 hit on September 2.

Governments around the world are right to step up regulatory pressure on initial coin offerings (ICOs), the CEO of blockchain firm Ripple has told CNBC.  Brad Garlinghouse, whose company is the owner of the third largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, XRP, questioned whether new digital currencies were “solving real problems.”

Policymakers at the US Central Bank are growing increasingly concerned about lagging inflation rates.  Many policymakers are worried that the slow pick-up in price increases may be due to long-term trends, not just short-term factors.  They urged that “some patience” guide the Fed as it considers plans to raise interest rates.

WASHINGTON:

The risks of global financial stability in the immediate future, have declined, according to a new assessment by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  But at the same time, vulnerabilities over the longer term are building, the IMF warned. The very low interest rate policies of the rich countries have led investors to search for higher returns.  But that, in turn, has led them to be increasingly willing to accept higher risks.

President Donald Trump says he is open to bilateral trade pacts with either Canada or Mexico if a three-way deal cannot be reached to substantially revise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

TOKYO:

Kobe Steel has warned that there may be more cases of falsified product data, in a sign the unfolding scandal could worsen.  The Japanese company has already admitted that products were sold to about 200 firms with false data about their strengths and durability.  The credibility of Kobe Steel has plunged to zero, said Kobe’s president, Hiroya Kawasak.

BERLIN:

Lufthansa is set to sign a deal to buy parts of Air Berlin, the failed German carrier. Germany’s second largest carried filed for bankruptcy in August after its main shareholder, Etihad said it would not provide further financial support. The airline has since been negotiating with potential buyers for part of its business.

PARIS:

Paris authorities plan to banish all petrol and diesel-fueled cars from the world’s most visited city by 2030, Paris City Hall said.  The move marks an acceleration in plans to wean the country of gas guzzling cars and switch to electric vehicles in a city often obliged to impose temporary bans due to surges in particle pollution in the air.

CARIBBEAN:

NASSAU:

The Bahamas government has said it would meet with members of the banking community next week to discuss reported increases in service fees and charges by the financial institutions.  A statement by the ministry of labour noted that the Consumer Affairs Division had received numerous reports and complaints from the general public with respect to the increasers in some commercial banks’ service fees and charges.

Baha Mar has announced that it has launched the Baha Mar Hospitality Academy, which will train future Baha Mar staff as well as anyone interested in going into the field of hospitality.  The resort complex currently employs 3,000 workers and expects to hire 1,000 more before the end of the year.  Baha Mar said it is still on track to have 6,000 employees by its grand opening in April, 2018.

Island Luck CEO, Sebas Bastian, says he is prepared to sit down with Minster of Tourism, Dionisio D’Aguillar regarding concerns that the minister has with the web shops industry.  “The industry is going to have to sit down with the minister and have a constructive conversation on the way forward,” Bastian said.

MONTEGO BAY:

The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) will be staging its annual EXPO 2017, western Jamaica’s largest and most notable trade expo, from tomorrow (Friday) to Sunday.  The biennial event will have as title sponsors, digital and print advertising firm, Yellow Media.  This year, it is being held under the theme “Connecting Industries – Building Together – at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, and will serve as a platform for local businesses to showcase the best of Jamaica’s goods and services with specific focus on Jamaica’s service industry.

PORT OF SPAIN:

Local telecommunications provider bMobile has joined forces with the taxi service company Uber to offer free wifi during rides.  In a statement, the company said since October 2, Uber passengers have been able to stay connected on rides around town with their personal hotspot powered by bMobile’s 4G LTE technology.

BASSETERRE:

Due to the adverse conditions caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria, the meeting of creditors of British American Insurance Company Limited (BAICO) scheduled for 21 September was postponed in accordance with the direction of the Supreme Court of The Bahamas, and will take place on 30th October, 2017.  The purpose of the meeting is to consider and if thought fit, approve (with or without modification) the plan proposed to be made between BAICO and its plan creditors.

BRIDGETOWN:

It is still a buyer’s market.  This is the assurance coming from Junior Sparks, Real Estate broker with Global Estate Agency Inc, who offered his comments on the real estate market in Barbados ahead of a home ownership Expo to be hosted by Scotiabank.  “Even though the economy has presented its challenges, the real estate market in Barbados is still pretty active, especially with properties below the $700,000 mark, said Sparks.

INTERNATIONAL:

Renewed high winds are fanning “catastrophic” wild fires that have killed at least 23 people in northern California.  Thousands of people have been left homeless by the 22 huge   blazes, which are spreading fast and unpredictably.  Nearly 300 people are missing but police say that may be due to the chaotic nature of evacuations.

Madrid’s eight-day deadline for Catalonia to drop its independence bid could prove to be fruitless, according to political analysts, who believe that pro-separatist Catalan President Carles Puigdemont will not back down.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has offered to hold talks with Iraqi authorities on the status of Kurdish airports, border posts and banks, on which Baghdad placed restrictions following an independent referendum.