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Minister says South American tourism market growing

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Minister says South American tourism market growing

Friday, December 06, 2019

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MINISTER of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says the South American market is growing into one of the biggest and most lucrative in the world, with Brazilians alone spending US$11.5 billion in the United States (US) last year.

In an interview with JIS News following a reception ceremony for the LATAM flight crew at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James, on Monday, the minister said Jamaica has been successfully making forays into Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Bolivia, “making us a major player in all of the Americas and a regional powerhouse in our own right”.

He pointed out that the Latin American tourism market has been growing at a steady rate and that, thanks to the worldwide web, there is an expanding appetite, particularly among the millennials, to explore beyond their own borders and experience, first-hand, the world that they see when they log in.

Bartlett said it should also be noted that studies have shown that, on average, Latin American travellers are taking nearly five trips per year and their average leisure trip duration is 10 days.

This, he said, is more than any other country, including the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, Japan and Australia.

“I have seen a recent study which showed that Brazilians and Argentineans are taking the longest trips of anyone across the globe, at 11.1 and 12 days per trip on average, respectively,” the minister added.

“We have been trying to get LATAM Airlines to be a part of the equation for some time now. We knew that once we accomplished that, then the market would be there for the taking. We now have them committed to three flights per week into Montego Bay, which is a very big deal,” he said.

Bartlett said that Jamaica’s ties with the Spanish-speaking region of the globe go back 600 years, adding that had it not been for the intervention of the British, “we would be speaking Spanish fluently as our native language”.

“Our historical connection with Latin America is also cemented through the Liberator, Simn Bolvar, whose statue stands as a sentinel at Heroes’ Circle in Kingston, and the Simn Bolvar Cultural Centre in Kingston is a treasured source of knowledge,” the minister said.

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Professor Shirley heads new CMU Council

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Professor Shirley heads new CMU Council

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness yesterday announced a new council (board) for the scandal-scarred Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).

Holness told the House of Representatives that the 21-member council, which will be chaired by the current chairman of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), Professor Gordon Shirley, following on the issues raised by the auditor general in her special audit report, will need to move quickly to put in place the relevant subcommittees, including a new finance committee, with outside help, to streamline the financial operations.

“They will need to establish a governance committee as a subcommittee of the council and employ an enterprise risk management system, with a risk officer assigned, to ensure compliance with all the governance rules and governance best practices,” he explained.

“A risk and audit committee, responsible for reviewing the work of the internal auditor, will also need to be in place to determine what are the immediate threats, and the greatest threats, so she can prioritise her workflow,” he stated.

Holness said that these measures are in keeping with the auditor general’s recommendation for the CMU’s Council to establish “a robust internal control and risk management system to reduce the risk of losses and regulatory breaches”.

He added: “In response to this recommendation, directives have also been given for an internal auditor to be put in place, and an auditor has been seconded from the ministry and has commenced work.”

The new council will also include President of Port Handlers Limited Mark Hart; managing director of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica Rear Admiral Peter Brady; Donovan Stanberry, registrar of The University of The West Indies, Mona; Dr Therese Chambers, associate professor at the University of Technology, Jamaica; Dr Marshall Hall, chairman of the Jamaica Producers Association; and Grantley Stephenson, deputy chairman of Kingston Wharves Limited.

Also sitting on the new council will be: Professor Ibrahim Ajagunna, acting president of the CMU (ex officio); Professor Noel Brown, deputy to the president, CMU; Devon Gardner, university treasurer (ex officio); Kerry-Ann Tulloch, president, CMU Alumni Association (ex officio); Glenardo Simpson; president of the Students’ Union (ex officio); Dwain Powell and Belinda Ward (representing the PAJ); Peter McCarthy, representing the deans, CMU; Worrel Morrison; representing the administrative/technical staff, CMU; Professor Gossett Oliver, representing CMU professors, CMU; Donovan Perkins, director, Everything Fresh; Mitzie Gordon Burke- Green, president, Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association of Jamaica; and Kim Carke and Trevor Riley, representing the Shipping Association of Jamaica.

– Balford Henry

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TERRIBLE TUESDAY

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TERRIBLE TUESDAY

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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Tuesday, January 28, 2020 will not easily be forgotten by Jamaicans. The country was shaken by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake and put on alert by a subsequent tsunami advisory; sent into panic by a fake report spread on social media of a suspected case of the deadly coronavirus at the University Hospital of the West Indies; alarmed by an attack on an educator at Cornwall College; and shocked at the discovery of the decomposing body of a British man on a 30-foot sail boat off the coast of Port Antonio.

It was a day that kept journalists, health and security officials busy, especially in the aftermath of the coronavirus scare and the tremor that sent many people fleeing from buildings and going into overdrive on Twitter, WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

 

Stories on news pages inside.


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British man on pleasure tour found dead on boat near Jamaica

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British man on pleasure tour found dead on boat near Jamaica

BY EVERARD OWEN
Observer correspondent

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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PORT ANTONIO, Portland — The decomposing body of a British man, which was found aboard a 30-foot sail-boat off the coast of Jamaica late Monday night, was removed from the vessel after it was towed to the Errol Flynn Marina in this town on the island’s north-north eastern coast early yesterday morning.

Police, who identified the dead man as 42-year-old Mark Brennan, say the information they have is that he left the United Kingdom aboard the Avrio alone on December 6, 2019, on a pleasure trip around the world.

Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard reportedly received a message from the United States Coast Guard Monday night about the presence of the Avrio in Jamaican waters.

The boat , which was flying a British flag, was found about 72 nautical miles north-west of Ocho Rios with the body and was towed to the marina where it was met by the Port Antonio Marine Police.

The body was removed to a funeral home. The Port Antonio police are investigating.

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Major quake hits Caribbean, triggers evacuations

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Major quake hits Caribbean, triggers evacuations

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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MIAMI, United States (AFP/Jamaica Observer) – A major 7.7-magnitude quake struck yesterday in the Caribbean between Jamaica and Cuba, triggering a brief tsunami alert and sending hundreds of people pouring onto the streets of Havana.

The tremors were felt as far as the US mainland as police in Miami evacuated some buildings as a precaution.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake hit at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles), at 1910 GMT 125 kilometres north-west of Lucea, Jamaica.

It estimated there was a low likelihood of casualties or damage, and there were no immediate reports of either. Hours later, a 6.1 magnitude aftershock hit off the coast of the Cayman Islands, the USGS said.

The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially warned there was a threat of tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 metres (about one to three feet) above tide level for the coasts of Jamaica, Belize, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, and the Cayman Islands. But it lifted the alert update about two hours later.

The first, bigger quake rattled several tall buildings in the Cuban capital, Havana, which were immediately evacuated.

The earthquake was felt in several provinces including Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba in the east, Cienfuegos in the centre and Havana in the north-west, the official Cubadebate website reported.

But there were no preliminary reports of damage or injuries, however.

Jawara Rawjers, a resident of Kingston, Jamaica told AFP: “I felt the house trembling and realised that it was a quake. It lasted about 20 seconds. I checked my watch and it was 2:12 pm. I checked on my family but they didn’t feel anything in their part of the house.”

Machel Emanuel, a doctor in the same city, added: “I was on the second floor of a building and there was a sustained shaking of the building. I felt dizzy. The door was slamming consistently for a while.”

Many Jamaicans took to social media in the immediate aftermath to post pictures, unverified by AFP, of swimming pools shaking violently.

Disaster coordinator for Hanover, Kenisha Stennett-Dunbar, said there were no reports of structural damage in the parish.

She said Rusea’s High School, which is close to the sea, was evacuated shortly after the tsunami warning was issued.

Stennett-Dunbar said an earthquake awareness campaign is currently on between January 1 and February 29 and, as a result, a number of schools in the parish responded accordingly.

The Jamaica Observer received reports that the earthquake was felt in most of the island’s 14 parishes.

In Miami, police said some buildings were being evacuated as a precaution after reports of tremors being felt in some areas of the city.

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GOP defends Trump as Bolton book adds pressure for witnesses

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WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AP) — Pressure is increasing on senators to call John Bolton to testify at President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial after the revelation that a draft of a book by the former national security adviser undercuts a key defence argument — that Trump never tied withholding military aid to Ukraine to his demand the country help investigate political rival Joe Biden.

Bolton writes in the forthcoming book that Trump told him he wanted to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in security aid from Ukraine until it helped him with investigations into Biden. Trump’s legal team has repeatedly insisted otherwise, and Trump tweeted yesterday that he never told Bolton such a thing.

Republican senators faced a pivotal moment as they arrived on Capitol Hill to resume Trump’s trial, where the president’s lawyers picked up their defence. One, Jay Sekulow, appeared off the bat yesterday to take a veiled swipe at the relevancy of the allegations from Bolton in the book draft.

“We deal with transcript evidence, we deal with publicly available information,” Sekulow said. “We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all.”

Democrats are demanding sworn testimony from Bolton and other key witnesses, and pressure is mounting on at least four Republicans to buck GOP leaders and form a bipartisan majority to force the issue.

“John Bolton’s relevance to our decision has become increasingly clear,” GOP Senator Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters. Senator Susan Collins of Maine said she has always wanted “the opportunity for witnesses” to testify and the report about Bolton’s book “strengthens the case”.

But several GOP senators who met privately with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said nothing had changed. McConnell declined comment.

“Really, there’s nothing new here,” said Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No 3 Republican. He dismissed the new information as an “effort to sell books”.

Before any vote on witnesses, Trump’s legal team was to make its case in depth yesterday, turning to several high-profile attorneys to argue against impeachment.

The team laid out the broad outlines of its defence in a rare Saturday session at which they accused House Democrats of using the impeachment case to try to undo the results of the last presidential election, and drive Trump from office.

The White House has had Bolton’s manuscript for about a month, and has challenged his use of certain material it considers classified, according to a letter from Bolton’s attorney.

Democrats are saying that Trump’s refusal to allow Administration officials to testify in the impeachment proceeding only reinforces that the White House is hiding evidence.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said: “We’re all staring a White House cover-up in the face.”

Schumer drew on polls that show the public wants to hear from witnesses. “We want the truth,” he said. “So do the American people.”

Rep Adam Schiff, who is leading the House prosecution team, called Bolton’s account a test for the senators sitting as jurors.

“I don’t know how you can explain that you wanted a search for the truth in this trial and say you don’t want to hear from a witness who had a direct conversation about the central allegation in the articles of impeachment,” Schiff said on CNN.

Four Republicans would have to break ranks to join Democrats in the call for any witnesses, that would extend the trial, which has been expected to conclude fairly rapidly. The Republicans hold a 53-47 Senate majority.

Bolton’s account was first reported by The New York Times and was confirmed to The Associated Press by someone familiar with the manuscript on the condition of anonymity. The Room Where It Happened; A White House Memoir is to be released March 17.

John Ullyot, a spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC) that Bolton used to lead, said the manuscript was submitted to the NSC for “pre-publication review” and had been under initial review.

“No White House personnel outside NSC has reviewed the manuscript,” he said.

When The New York Times report went online Sunday night, the seven House Democratic managers immediately called on all senators to insist that Bolton be called as a witness and provide his notes and other relevant documents. Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, issued the same call.

Trump denied the claims in a series of tweets early Monday.

“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump said. “If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”

Trump said people could look at transcripts of his call with Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelinskiy to see there was no pressure for such investigations to get the aid. In that call, Trump asked Zelinskiy to “do us a favour” with the investigations as he was withholding nearly US$400 million in military aid to the US ally at war with Russia.

Trump falsely claimed yesterday that the Democrat-controlled House “never even asked John Bolton to testify”. Democrats did ask Bolton to testify, but he didn’t show up for his deposition. They later declined to subpoena Bolton, as they had others, because he threatened to sue, which could lead to a prolonged court battle.

Schiff said Bolton — known to be a copious notetaker — should also provide documents.

Bolton, who sent this book manuscript to the White House for review, is now enmeshed in a legal dispute with the White House over the manuscript’s use of direct quotes and other material from meetings and foreign leader discussions. That’s according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorised to speak on the record.

The White House has requested that Bolton remove material it considers classified, the person said, which has the book behind schedule.

Bolton acrimoniously left the White House a day before Trump ultimately released the Ukraine aid on September 11. He has already told lawmakers that he is willing to testify, despite the president’s order barring aides from cooperating in the probe.

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Prince Andrew said uncooperative

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Prince Andrew said uncooperative

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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NEW YORK, United States (AP) — Britain’s Prince Andrew has provided “zero cooperation” to the American investigators who want to interview him as part of their sex trafficking probe into Jeffrey Epstein, a US prosecutor said yesterday.

Speaking at a news conference outside Epstein’s New York mansion, attorney Geoffrey Berman said prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had contacted Andrew’s lawyers and asked to interview him.

“To date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation,” said Berman, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan.

The Associated Press has asked Buckingham Palace for comment.

Andrew announced last year that he was withdrawing from his royal duties amid renewed public attention on a woman’s claim that she had several sexual encounters with the prince at Epstein’s behest, starting when she was 17.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre says that after meeting Epstein in Florida in 2000, the millionaire flew her around the world and pressured her into having sex with numerous older men, including Andrew, two senior US politicians, a noted academic, wealthy financiers, and the attorney Alan Dershowitz, who is now part of President Donald Trump’s impeachment defence team.

All of those men have denied the allegations. Epstein killed himself in his jail cell last summer while he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Giuffre has said she had sex with Andrew three times, including once in London in 2001 at the home of Epstein’s girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell.

Andrew and Maxwell have both denied any knowledge that Epstein was sexually abusing teenage girls. In a TV interview last fall, Andrew insisted he was out having pizza with his children on the night Giuffre says they were together in London.

US Attorney General William Barr has vowed to aggressively investigate and bring charges against anyone who may have helped Epstein.

Andrew, in the statement he released in November announcing his intention to “step back from public duties”, said he regretted his “ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein”.

“Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required,” he wrote.

Berman made his remarks about the case during a joint appearance with members of Safe Horizon, a non-profit victim services agency, to discuss a new New York law that made it easier for people to sue over childhood sexual abuse.

He wouldn’t discuss the Epstein investigation in detail but reiterated that the case didn’t end with his death.

“Jeffrey Epstein couldn’t have done what he did without the assistance of others, and I can assure you that the investigation is moving forward,” Berman said.

Numerous women who said they were sexually abused by Epstein as teenagers have claimed in lawsuits and interviews that he got help recruiting young girls from both Maxwell and several assistants.

Giuffre’s lawyers have, for months, been calling on Andrew to agree to be interviewed both by investigators and by the lawyers helping the women with civil lawsuits.

Two guards who were supposed to be monitoring Epstein the night he was found dead have been charged with falsifying the jail’s log books to indicate they were performing checks on prisoners, when they were actually sleeping or browsing the Internet.

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