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CLA issues 50th licence for medical marijuana

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CLA issues 50th licence for medical marijuana

Saturday, December 07, 2019

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THE Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) has issued its 50th licence for operations in the medical cannabis industry.

The Montego Bay-based Outlier Biopharma Limited was presented with the permit to operate a retail herbal house (without facility for consumption) during a ceremony on Wednesday at the CLA’s New Kingston offices.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw commended the CLA on the milestone, and hailed Outlier Biopharma for joining the growing local cannabis sector.

“The industry is moving fast. Even as we celebrate this 50th licence, it’s not a licence for us to slow down; it’s actually an opportunity for us to speed up. That we must do, because the industry is moving fast globally,” he said.

Shaw meanwhile, said he will be seeking to fast-track the regulations for the export of cannabis.

“I’m going to be making a call to the chief parliamentary counsel so that we can begin to promulgate our exports,” he said.

Director of Outlier Biopharma, Brian Thelwell said his company wants to be one of the leading cannabis entities in Jamaica, “and we plan to be a model company globally”.

“Today represents the first stone being laid to pave the way,” he said.

Thelwell said that the company has plans to create an ecofriendly sustainable zone in Lethe, Hanover, which will be further developed into a holistic and eco-tourism destination.

CLA is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries. It was established in 2015 under the Dangerous Drug [Amendment] Act (DDA), with a specific role to establish and regulate Jamaica’s legal cannabis and hemp industry.

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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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‘I’m being raped’

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NEW YORK, United States (AP) — As she tried to fight off Harvey Weinstein’s advances, Mimi Haleyi told him “no, no, no” before he held her down on a bed and forcibly performed oral sex on her, she said in emotional testimony yesterday at Weinstein’s rape trial.

Haleyi, one of two women whose assault accusations led to Weinstein’s trial, took the stand yesterday and, at times sobbing, detailed her allegation that the disgraced movie mogul sexually assaulted her at his New York City apartment in 2006.

“I did reject him, but he insisted. Every time I tried to get off the bed, he would push me back and hold me down,” the former Project Runway production assistant testified, adding that she told Weinstein she was menstruating in an attempt to deter him.

Haleyi, now 42, told jurors she thought, “I’m being raped,” and considered different options. “If I scream rape, will someone hear me?” she wondered.

“I checked out and decided to endure it,” she said. “That was the safest thing I could do.”

Haleyi is the first of the two women at the heart of the case to take the stand at his rape trial. A total of six accusers, including the aspiring actress he was charged with raping in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013, will testify at the closely watched #MeToo-era trial.

Weinstein, 67, has insisted any sexual encounters were consensual.

Last week, Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra testified that Weinstein overpowered and raped her after barging into her apartment in the mid-1990s. While outside the statute of limitations for criminal charges, Sciorra’s allegations could be a factor as prosecutors look to prove Weinstein has engaged in a pattern of predatory behaviour.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they have been victims of sexual assault, unless they agree to be named as Haleyi and Sciorra have.

Haleyi went public with her allegations at an October 2017 news conference, appearing in front of cameras alongside lawyer Gloria Allred, who also represents Sciorra and other Weinstein accusers.

Haleyi, born in Helsinki, Finland, and raised in Sweden, said she met Weinstein while in her 20s at the 2004 London premiere of the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Aviator.

They crossed paths again at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006 and, when she expressed interest in working on one of his productions, he invited her to his hotel room and asked for a massage. She declined, saying she was “extremely humiliated”.

More meetings followed, and Weinstein secured Haleyi a job helping on the set of Project Runway, the reality competition show he produced. She testified that before the alleged assault, Weinstein showed up at her apartment and begged her to join him on a trip to Paris for a fashion show.

“At one point, because I just didn’t know how to shut it down, so to speak… So I said, ‘You know you have a terrible reputation with women, I’ve heard,’” Haleyi testified.

The then-revered Hollywood honcho “got offended”, she said. “He stepped back and said, ‘What have you heard’?”

Asked by prosecutor Meghan Hast if she had any romantic or sexual interest in Weinstein, Haleyi firmly answered: “Not at all, no.”

Haleyi also described a second encounter, a few weeks after the alleged assault, in a Tribeca hotel room where she said she “went numb” as he took her hand, pulled her toward the bed and had intercourse with her.

She said she didn’t call the police because she was working in the US on a tourist visa and was scared of Weinstein’s power, telling jurors: “Obviously, Mr Weinstein has a lot more power and resources and connections and so forth. I didn’t think I’d stand a chance.”

Haleyi said she “just felt like an idiot” for letting Weinstein convince her to meet again, but thought seeing him could help her regain power as she tried to make sense of the alleged assault.

Asked again if she wanted to have sex with Weinstein that night, she said, “No”.

Weinstein was jotting notes in a thick yellow notebook through most of Haleyi’s account, but looked at her and shook his head when she described the second alleged assault.

On cross-examination, defence lawyer Damon Cheronis seized on Haleyi’s continued interactions with Weinstein, displaying on a large screen a friendly email she sent him after they ran into each other in Cannes in 2008.

Haleyi conceded she’d been in contact with Weinstein “not often, but yes occasionally” and that she sent the 2008 e-mail after a newspaper article reminded her of a conversation they had weeks before the alleged assault.

The jury of seven men and five women heard last week from Dr Barbara Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist, who said that most sex assault victims continue to have contact with their attackers, often under threat of retaliation if the victims tell anyone what happened.

On the stand yesterday, Haleyi said she dealt with the alleged assaults by compartmentalising, occasionally interacting with Weinstein on a professional basis by passing along scripts from friends or discussing work opportunities.

“Honestly, I didn’t know how to deal with it so it’s almost like I put it away in a box, like it didn’t happen and I just carried along as usual,” Haleyi said.

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You can donate to Sigma Run at Sagicor branches

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You can donate to Sigma Run at Sagicor branches

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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INDIVIDUALS and organisations wishing to support the fund-raising efforts for beneficiaries of the 2020 Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run can now do so using the donation drop boxes at Sagicor Bank branches islandwide.

Sagicor, in a release, said each branch is equipped with branded donation boxes to allow persons to donate to the cause and contribute to raising a target of $55 million for three beneficiaries – the Clifton Boys Home, Bustamante Hospital for Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital.

Alysia White, executive director, Sagicor Foundation, said the drop-off boxes were put in place to give more people the opportunity to participate in Sagicor Foundation’s drive to raise much-needed funds for the beneficiaries of this year’s charity run.

“We know that persons across Jamaica want to be able to support the cause and this is one way we allow them to easily do so. Monies raised through the Sagicor Sigma run has impacted so many lives over the years, and we are happy to once again partner with the Jamaican public to do it again for our beneficiaries,” she said.

The public can also contribute to the 2020 beneficiaries using direct deposit and wire transfer at the bank branches. Account information is available via the run’s website: www.sagicorsigmarun.com .

Cash and cheques can also be dropped off at the Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run Secretariat at the R Danny Williams Building, Sagicor Group Head Office at 28-48 Barbados Avenue, Kingston 5.

The Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run is set for January 31.

The charity event is the largest road race in the Caribbean and has raised more than $400 million in donations for over 30 beneficiaries since inception in 1999. The event saw a record 27,000 registrants for the 2019 staging, raising $52.4 million for the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica, Diabetes Association of Jamaica and May Pen Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,

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