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#484834 - 02/01/14 10:28 AM Today's Belize News: February 1, 2014
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Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
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The San Pedro Sun

Guatemalan incursion is a major threat to Belize’s pristine forests
Illegal incursions by Guatemalans into Belize’s pristine forests continue unabated and create a great challenge to conservation efforts, especially in the Chiquibul National Park. In fact there has been a shift from the illegal extraction of Xate palm leaves and logging to a more lucrative business, the illegal panning for gold. Not only are the incursions illegal, but their activities are posing a major threat to the degradation of the ecosystem. In late 2010, Ceibo Chico Outpost in the southern portion of the Chiquibul National Park was set up to help tackle illegal logging and first evidence of illegal gold panning. But since then, the Guatemalans have been moving further into the country as far as 14 kilometers into Belize’s Chiquibul National Park. It’s a major challenge, and according to Rafael Manzanero, the Executive Director ofthe Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD), it is making conservation efforts more difficult. “People have become aware that there may be some gold deposits in the southern part of the Chiquibul Area. As a result, there has been a spiral of movement into the zone. We started going into the area in 2010 and at the time we already had a lot of people illegally operating in that area. At the time it was concentrated in Ceibo Chico area and they operated in groups. Now we are finding these groups have disbursed and they are going in small groups into the highland, which makes it even more difficult to contain and patrol,” explained Manzanero who runs the non-governmental organization (NGO).

Occupational Safety and Health bill introduced and goes for nationwide consultation
For months the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) has been demanding that Prime Minister of Belize, Honorable Dean Barrow, table the proposed Occupational Safety and Health Act for passage at the National Assembly. Members of the NTUCB were ejected from the chambers of the National Assembly Building during the last sitting of 2013, after they shouted at the PM to bring the proposed act to the house. They even went in length to warn that 2014 would be the year of the workers and would fight tooth and nail to see the proposal tabled and passed through all it stages. On Wednesday January 22nd, PM Barrow heeded to the demands and introduced the proposal as a bill for first reading.

The passion of football in San Pedro
Yup, football takes more than just the bare minimum. I have seen children playing football for hours; I even have some friends that wake up at 5AM just to practice football. If that isn’t love for the sport, I don’t know what is! Not even sprains, fractures and broken bones can keep a true footballer away the sport! Up to this, Jorge still bears the injuries from playing football, but that doesn’t diminish his love; it’s just strengthened it. “I have suffered several sprained ankles form playing football and have even broken my knee cap. Today I still suffer knee problems, that is one of the reasons I stopped playing, but I still love the game and any chance I have to play, I take it.” Now that’s passion! What may sound painful to you and I is a joy to others Football has even take him to new countries, playing in places like Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Cuba and Guatemala. So whether you like to be on the field kicking the ball or simply watching a game, beer in hand, football is the sport in San Pedro. Encourage children to get active and play. You never know, we just might have the next Beckham in our midst!

Konrad Gonzalez wins 2013 Rookie of the Year at the Belize City Softball Competition
For the past few months, 19 year old Konrad Gonzalez has been representing San Pedro Town in the 2013 Belize City Male Softball Competition sponsored by Smart. At the end of the competition, Konrad took the 2013 Rookie of the Year award after pitching for the Oceana Strikers, who placed second at the end of the tournament. The tournament saw a series of games by four softball teams from the Belize District, playing for a chance to represent the Belize District in the National Softball Tournament. The tournament began on August 9, 2013 and by December 2013 the championship matches were on.Fighting for the first place trophy in a best-out-of-five tournament was the Oceana Strikers and Guardian Bombers.

Tropic Air Announces Service to Merida, Mexico
Tropic Air announced today, January 31, 2014, that it will inaugurate non-stop service to Merida, Mexico on March 3, 2014. With the launching of this service, Tropic will be the only airline to operate non-stop scheduled flights between Belize City and Merida. Initially, Tropic will fly (BZE) to Merida (MMMD) three times weekly. Tickets are available for sale at a special introductory price thru February.

Wanted US man picked up in San Pedro
On Friday, January 31st, around 3:30PM, the San Pedro Police Department Special Branch assisted the United States of America (USA) Embassy in the capture of a wanted man. He was identified as 46-year-old Grant Kenneth Ice, and is wanted in the city of Los Angeles, California for financial fraud. Ice was residing at Sun Street, Boca del Rio area and was well-known on the island as Grant Bill Guy. US Authorities escorted Ice to Belize City on the 4PM flight, and officials stated that he would be transported to Belmopan and taken to the US Embassy. Ice is scheduled to be handed over to US Marshalls on Saturday, February 1st and will be flown out to Los Angeles, where he will face charges before Los Angeles police.

BINGO
Yeah team Denmark won the big BINGO game at the Lions Den! Welcome to La Isla!

Ambergris Today

Medical Equipment to Improve Maternal and Child Health Services in Belize
The Ministry of Health Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project handed over medical equipment - valued at approximately BZ $311,000 - to the Northern and Western Health Regions on Wednesday, January 29, 2014, during a ceremony held at the grounds of Western Health Regional in Belmopan. The short ceremony included welcome remarks from Mrs. Martha Woodye, Quality Improvement Project Manager for the Mesoamerican Health 2015 Belize Project. She spoke of the purpose of the donation which is to primarily improve the neonatal care capacity and expand coverage of reproductive health services in healthcare centers of both regions. Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin gave the keynote address in which he congratulated the health teams of both regions for their dedication and commitment in light of Belize’s recognition in the region for once again achieving a maternal mortality rate of zero for 2013.

Belize Receives Grant to Improve George Price Highway
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Belize today signed a grant agreement for US$540,000 to support the preparation of feasibility studies and social and environmental assessments for the rehabilitation of 32 miles of the George Price Highway between Belmopan and Benque Viejo del Carmen. The agreement was signed in Belize City by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Gina Montiel, Manager of the IDB’s Country Department for Central America, Mexico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. “We are pleased to support Belize in its efforts to expand and rehabilitate its road network, which is so crucial to the country’s development”, said Gina Montiel. The grant will support the preparation of an investment program to finance the infrastructure works needed to upgrade and absorb growing traffic volumes on the highway.

Misc Belizean Sources

2 boat collision
There was a 2 boat collision transporting students from Crooked Tree early this morning as apparently they are still experiencing untrafficable roads due to flood. Reports indicate there has been one fatality, several students were severely injured and some were given medical attention. At least 5 were transported to the hospital with serious injuries! Please render prayers for all these families.

Dream for Belize Essay Competition
The U.S. Embassy is hosting an essay competition in honor of the legacy of Martin Luther King and Black History month. The theme is 'I Have a Dream for Belize,' the deadline for submission is February 9th, and the essay should be 300 words or less. The first place winner will receive a tablet computer, and their essay will be published locally. Belizeans between the ages of 16 and 30 are eligible to submit, and the email to send it to is belmopanpa@state.gov. "Tell us your dream for the people and future of Belize. Submissions are due February 9, 2014."

Fatal boat collision on the Crooked Tree Lagoon
Emergency personnel and the police are at the scene of a boat crash on the Crooked Tree Lagoon. Two vessels, reportedly belonging to the Belize National Coast Guard, collided this morning as they were transporting students and workers across the flooded lagoon. The cause of the fatal incident is not yet known, but early indications are that the engine on one of the boats may have stalled and the driver of the other did not realize it in time to avoid a collision. The victim of this morning’s boat crash on the Crooked Tree Lagoon has been identified as Ben Gentle, 17. In our previous reports we had said it was a primary school boy who had perished. A resident of Crooked Tree village says that Gentle was enroute to work in Belize City when the incident happened early this morning. Other occupants of the crashed boats were also injured, although the extent of those injuries is not yet known.

Ambergris Caye Elementary school
Ambergris Caye Elementary school is currently heading a campaign to help raise funds to maintain long term sustainability for the school. It's so simple. If just 500 people would donate $25.00 per month on a recurring basis Ambergris Caye Elementary School could be fully sustainable! Then we could offer free schooling to any child in need! This is more than most of us spend on coffee in a week! I know if I can do it and never miss the money anyone can! Set it up through our Global Giving site and forget it! We now have 4 recurring donations just 496 to go! Do it now, and it's done! Many thanks to everyone who supports us in so many different ways! The GlobalGiving Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization (EIN: 30-0108263).All your donations are fully tax deductible. Children are the future! Education is the path to a better tomorrow, make a difference in the life of a child! Thank you for your generous support of these projects:

Kitesurfing - Azul Resort, Ambergris Caye
This video is of Kitesurfing from Azul Resort, Ambergris Caye.

Buena Vista Village Resource Center
On Wednesday, we asked you to name the place we visited; if you guessed BUENA VISTA VILLAGE, CAYO DISTRICT, you were right! The residents of Buena Vista Village were the recipients of a newly-constructed resource center. The 26 x 80 feet structure houses a furnished computer lab and library along with a multipurpose section. Funding for the project, which totalled BZ$245,852.00, was provided by the Government of Japan via its Grassroots and Human Security Grants Project (GHGP). (16 photos)

Moombah Tong at Soul Project
The Soul Project will be the EDM capital tonight when DJ Check My Move mixes some Mombah Tong and some house together. In related news, the Soul Project did their Open Mic night last night. It's always a great time at the Soul Project, Cayo's Cultural Hub.

Mr. & Ms. SHC Pageant
Sacred Heart College has started the preliminaries of the Mr. and Ms. SHC Pageant. At this point, they are in the popular vote stage, where you can like the contestants pictures on fb. Check out their event page, and scroll down to see all the contestants, and like the one(s) you want to vote for. Spoiler: one contestant already has over 1300 likes! The pageant takes place on Friday, the 28th of March. Best of luck to all.

Rotaract Intercitidina After Party
Rotaract is having their Intercitidina starting yesterday, and tonight they're having an after party at Meluchi's. "Official Rotaract Intercitadina After Party happening this Saturday 1st February. We always do it big. Hypest Sounds in CAYO! Lots of giveaways from Cuellos Distillery! Prizes for Lap Dance competition & One Drop competition winners! Don't Miss Out! You know Rotaract always has the best parties! Everyone is invited to Meluchi's."

COLA support Gino Peck and family
The civil group Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, COLA, today issued a press release in support of Corporal Gino Peck, who it says is the victim of vindictiveness and double standards by the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) and Director of Public Prosecutions who convicted him on Monday. They say they will support Peck’s family monetarily and legal assistance, pro bono, from attorneys they have contacted. And a new organization, Fighting in the Streets Together (FIST) has been organized to fight for changes to the Firearms Act. The nascent organization is separate from COLA and continues to develop and organize. Meanwhile, when we spoke today with Peck’s wife Loretta, she first expressed thanks to the Department for their support, saying that “it’s good to know that they are behind my husband 110%.” She specifically thanked the Police Association for its assistance.

City Council releases 36 security officers
The Belize City Council plans to privatize and reorganize its security department under one of its trusted employees, but today the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU) objected, saying that neither it nor the workers was properly informed of the circumstances. Workers were told last Tuesday that they were being made redundant for reasons of increasing productivity, but were promised – though not officially – that they were to be hired by the new company. Today CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd said that while the Labour Act does allow for redundancy, any mass event like that which the City Council is planning requires at least one month’s notice to the Labour Department and or the bargaining unit for the workers, conditions she says were not fulfilled.

BNTU countrywide rally tour stops in Dangriga
Over 400 teachers of the Stann Creek district took to the main streets of Dangriga town today in a rally as part of a series of peaceful industrial action by the Belize National Teachers Union, BNTU. The theme of the rally was “teechaz gat yu bak.” President of the Stann Creek branch of the BNTU Troy Coleman explained that today’s rally sought to address three main themes, those being the anti corruption message; Social Security and Income Tax reforms. The rally got started around 9 am at the Princess Royal Park and made its way through the main streets of Dangriga, with the teachers singing and chanting along the way. The teachers were joined in solidarity by the Southern Workers Union.

Channel 5

B.N.T.U. shows muscle in the Culture Capital
The Belize National Teachers Union showed muscle today in Dangriga. The teachers of the south want their salary adjustment…they want to be respected…they want better working conditions and they want [...]

B.N.T.U. National President says salary adjustments and increment are different things
As we told you, Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with the joint union negotiating team in Belmopan today. Since he has already said as much in an unofficial but public [...]

Leader of the Opposition supports and respects teachers
As you heard, the message of the teachers was trumpeted in Dangriga. And if there is strength in numbers, then the teachers showed muscle today. There is also support for [...]

COLA comes out support of Convicted Cop, Gino Peck
Police officer Gino Peck will be sentenced on Friday and his attorney Simeon Sampson is preparing to immediately mount an appeal to his sentence for ammunition offenses. Peck has the [...]

Francis Fonseca speaks on the divide between Police Dept., GSU & Office of D.P.P.
The introduction of the Firearm Act back in June 2008 attracted opposition in many quarters because it was considered draconian. The legislation says that anyone found in a house or [...]

City Hall lets go thirty-six security workers; the CWU takes up their cause
In mid-December, firebrand attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd was named President of the controversial Christian Workers Union, and little over a month after she is facing her first challenge. That’s because the [...]

Opposition says government is in crisis and it is ready for elections
The Leader of the Opposition touched on a number of issues of national importance when we spoke with him this morning. Francis Fonseca minced no words as it pertains to [...]

Trial on the murder of Aubrey Lopez before the courts
On May twelfth 2010 popular basket-baller Aubrey Lopez was abducted and then brutally murdered, shot in the head and then pushed from his own car in Belize City. Five days [...]

Works on Dangriga marketplace to resume using monies for road works
In September 2013, the Dangriga Market, a significant part of the Municipal Development Plan, was brought to a screeching halt by the combination of an allegedly incompetent contractor and corruption [...]

A new chair of the Integrity Commission after 4 years
There has not been a functioning Integrity Commission for years even though by law, the government must establish a Commission. In fact, the last recorded meeting of the Commission was [...]

Opposition Leader calls for an independent audit of Airports Authority accounts
The Board of the Belize Airport Authority has been asked to resign en masse by Cabinet in the wake of the Castro cheque scandal and from what we know at [...]

Corruption; teachers say they want real reform…
This morning teachers marched in Dangriga, and they say the march is also against corruption in government. That particular topic has grown wings lately with the revelations coming out of [...]

…While Opposition Leader says government action is a slap on the wrist
The P.U.P. leader also maintains that the actions which have so far been taken against disgraced former Minister of State Elvin Penner are lukewarm and not real. And the reason [...]

The gripping story of the Peck family
As we said earlier, Gino Peck will be sentenced on Friday morning for ammunition charges. On the eve of his sentencing, his wife, Loretta, made a compelling case on his [...]

Healthy Living addresses a common skin infection
It’s one of the more unsightly and uncomfortable skin infections that you can encounter. Let’s face it: Boils can be a literal pain. In tonight’s Healthy Living, we get some [...]

LOVE FM

Police Woman Recovers and Back on The Beat
A woman Police Officer is back at work after a near death experience last year while on the line of duty. Arturo Cantún reports: ARTURO CANTUN REPORTING “On December 5, 2013, Woman Police Constable Marilyn Pate attached to the Orange Walk Police Formation was attacked with a machete by a man that was being investigated by police and the Human Development Department. WPC Pate received serious injuries to her head and left arm. It’s been less than a week that has been back to work and we spoke with her about her recovery from a near death experience while on the line of duty.” WPC MARILYN PATE “Basically, my recuperation has been good; these last two or three days I have been experiencing light headaches that come and go during the day.” ARTURO CANTUN “WPC Pate had accompanied two officers from the Human Development Department as they were investigating a report of carnal knowledge made against one Oscar Perez Hernandez. Pate told us she did not expect the events to unfold the way they did that afternoon.”

Early Morning Boat Accident Kills One and Injures Several
An early morning boating accident on the Crooked Tree Lagoon has left a 20 year old resident of the village dead and nine high school students suffering from head and body injuries. Reporter Linette Canto travelled to Crooked Tree this morning and has the story in the following report:

Police Investigate Home and Office Burglaries
A bank employee has reported to Police that her home was burglarized on December 5, 2013 between the hours of 10:25am and 12:47pm. The complainant, 25-year-old, Angela Reneau of a Belama Phase address in Belize City was robbed of an assortment of electronics, jewellery and home appliances, all valuing just under twelve thousand dollars. Meanwhile out east, San Pedro Police is investigating a burglary incident where businessman, Jose Paz says he had left his office closed and secured at Milo’s International on Pescador Drive on January 29 at around 5:50pm and about thirteen hours later he was informed that the establishment had been burglarized. When he got to his office, he found that a hole had been made in the floor measuring an estimated two feet by one foot at the rear of the building. An assortment of electronic items and furniture was missing having a total value of three thousand Belize dollars. Police investigations are ongoing into the two incidents.

DPP Says Section 33 Did Not Apply for Peck
Director of Public Prosecution Cheryl Lynn Vidal says it is the position of her office that Peck committed a criminal act. Vidal says Section 33 of the Firearms Act which exempts police officers from the general requirements of the Act did not apply in this case. She goes on to say this case was not about an officer being assigned ammunition and simply taking it home at the end of his daily tour but rather about an officer stockpiling ammunition; an officer being assigned resources of the State, a decade and a half before, ceasing to use it in the performance of his duties and then storing it; an officer finding prohibited ammunition and instead of following procedure, taking it home and stashing it. This conduct according to Vidal does not fall within the parameters of the exemption contained in the Firearms Act. Vidal said she read with great dismay the Commissioner’s release which suggested that her Office acted improperly in pursuing criminal charges in accordance with its mandate and that this matter could have been dealt with through disciplinary action.

Mobile Patrol Scores Unlicensed Weapon and Ammunition
Officers on mobile patrol in Belize City uncovered a nine millimeter pistol with serial number 14078607 along with a magazine containing seven nine millimeter live rounds and one nine millimeter round loaded in the chamber. During the patrol on Thursday, January 30, police spotted 20-year-old, Allan Moody of a JR Street address and upon a search of his person, the firearm and ammunition were found. Moody was unable to produce a license for either and was subsequently cautioned, detained and escorted to Precinct Three where he was charged for the possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.”

81 New Defense Soldiers for Belize
Today the Belize Defense Force welcomed eighty one new soldiers in their ranks. This afternoon, the BDF held ceremonies for the thirty sixth anniversary and the Passing Out of Recruit Intake Number Fifty Seven. Love News spoke to the Commandant of the Belize Defense Force, Brigadier General David Jones who spoke of what it takes to be a soldier. DAVID JONES “We started out with about one hundred and fifty recruits and we ended up with only about eighty one who were able to go through the intense training and stresses of becoming a soldier in the Belize Defense Force. The training included field craft which means that they need to be very good in the jungle or any conventional terrain; it also includes marksmanship where the soldiers are able to learn everything about the weapon, how to strip it, how to assemble and how to fire it accurately in order to defeat their enemy. They also learned medical and so, they are able to do first aid not only here on the base but also on operations in the jungle if someone gets hurt, they are able to render first aid to their comrades.

Woman Found Bruised and Dead in Southern Belize
Police in Dangriga have two persons detained for questioning in connection with the murder of a woman from Sittee River. 44-year-old Ann Foster reportedly left her home in the village on Thursday to visit her son in Silk Grass Village. Foster’s son became concerned when his mother did not show up. Residents of Sittee River formed a search party but were unable to locate the missing woman. The search resumed this morning and just after eight o’clock this morning Foster’s body was found. According to the Police the body was found about a mile in from the Southern Highway on the Sittee River Road. A number of bruises were observed on her body and head. Police investigations continue.

Police Awaits Post Mortem Results on An Apparent Suicide
The body of a Hispanic man was found in a kneeling position with a hammock wrapped around his neck in an unfinished concrete building on the Cristo Rey Road in the Cayo District. Police made the discovery on Thursday, January 30 and has since identified the person as 49-year-old, Cesar Antonio Tzib. Tzib was taken to the San Ignacio community Hospital where Dr. Chen pronounced him dead on arrival. Investigators have tentatively ruled the case as suicide and are awaiting the results of a post mortem examination.

Communities, Police Officers and Families Rally At The Court for Peck’s Freedom
Gino Peck, the Police Corporal who was found guilty earlier this week in the Magistrate’s court for having in his possession prohibited ammunition, was today fined a total of 600 dollars. Today’s proceedings, presided over by Chief Magistrate, Ann Marie Smith, included mitigation pleas from three character witnesses on Peck’s behalf. At the start of the process at 11:17 am, Chief Magistrate Smith cautioned the packed courtroom that there would be no clapping no whispering and no cellphone usage. The Defense Attorney, Senior Counsel, Simeon Sampson, called Minister of the Nazarene Church, Retired Reverend Oliver Ottley, first to the witness stand. Reverend Ottley told the court that Peck is an active member of the King’s Park Church of the Nazarene and that he deems Peck as a man of integrity that quote, “would not deliberately do anything contrary to the law which he represents”, unquote. The next character witness was the Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie, whose department placed its full support behind Peck after his guilty verdict on Monday.

PlusTV

Corporal Gino Peck Given Fine for Ammunition Charges
42 year old Police Corporal Gino Peck is home free tonight, escaping a jail sentence on charges of possession of unlicensed and prohibited ammunition. The father of five and 22-year law enforcement veteran can be thankful for the legal generosity of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions...

DPP Comments on Peck and Verde Cases
Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal this evening issued a public statement on the recent cases of Gino Peck and Reynaldo Verde. With regard to the Peck case, the Director maintained that Peck committed a criminal act by “stockpiling ammunition” and storing and stashing ammunition that was resources of...

COLA/FIST Lead Protests
Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) led a crowd of approximately 200 vocal protesters outside the Magistrate’s Court. After the sentencing hearing we spoke with three members of COLA and support organization Fighting In the Streets Together (FIST). First, here is COLA President Giovanni Brackett’s reaction to the...

PUP Shows Support to the Peck Family
Yesterday, the People’s United Party leader addressed the controversy with Corporal Gino Peck, convicted on Monday of ammunition charges. Hon. Francis Fonseca- Leader of the People’s United Party “What is troubling to me as the Leader of the Opposition is that there does seem to be an erosion in the...

DPP and Attorneys Elevated to Senior Counsel
It will perhaps be tainted by events outside her control, but Friday was nonetheless a memorable day for Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, who along with attorneys Jacqueline Marshalleck and Magali Marin-Young was elevated to Senior Counsel of the Bar. The ceremony took place before Chief Justice Kenneth...

21 Year old Student Loses his Life in a Boat Accident
A family is tonight trying to come to grips with the untimely death of a 21 year old student, while the Belize Coast Guard is investigating the circumstances that led to the two boat collision in the Crooked Tree Lagoon this morning. The accident occurred some time around 6:00...

BNTU Marched on the Final Leg of Rallies in Toledo
The final leg of the BNTU’s nationwide rallies was hosted in the Toledo District today. Teachers from the Punta Gorda and Toledo Rural branches congregated at the Toldeo Sports Complex and marched toward the Toledo Central Park for a morning of presentations from, BNTU Punta Gorda Branch President Hilton...

Land Lease Complainant Says Rivals Even Broke Down his House
Earlier this week, we told you of the initiative headed by Rise and Shine to host free legal advice to members of the public who are experiencing land dilemmas. The consultations held over the weekend was made possible through the partnership of five attorneys who volunteered their time to...

PUP Pushes More Reforms for Senate, Integrity Commission
Yesterday, in our interview with Leader of the Opposition Honorable Francis Fonseca, he spoke about reforms for the Senate and the integrity commission. The Government’s plans to reestablish the Integrity Commission are on pace with the installation of former Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Marilyn Williams. The...

Southern Woman Found Dead and Apparently Raped
Meanwhile, Police in the Stann Creek District, are investigating the murder and apparent rape of a woman. We understand that, yesterday, the 44 year old resident of Sittee River, left for Silk Grass to drop off clothing items for her son. However, she never made it to the village....

PUC Approves Increase to 6.4% on Price for Water Supply,due April
This evening, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) said it has approved an average rate increase of 6.4% of Belize Water Services Limited (BWS) in their application for the 2014 annual review proceeding (ARP). The water company had sought an increase of more than 16% on average, a total cost...

Mr. Nelson Young Vs. BTL Laboural Case Still to be Resolved
Nine years ago Thursday, former employee of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), Nelson Young, was fired at the height of civil unrest in 2005 by the Ashcroft regime then in charge, soon to be followed by their union representative Christine Perriott, who later won judgment in the Supreme Court for...

Traffic Accident Reported in Belize City
Police are investigating a traffic accident occurring near downtown Belize City this morning. Around 7:00 a.m., the black Mitsubishi pickup was parked behind the red Toyota 4 Runner, on North Front Street in the vicinity of Marelco Limited when its driver tried to come out of the parking space...


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#484835 - 02/01/14 10:29 AM Re: Today's Belize News: February 1, 2014 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

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Amandala

CITCO FIRES 36 SECURITY WORKERS!
Last Friday, January 24, a total of 36 security officers were terminated by the Belize City Council (BCC) because Belize City Mayor, Darrell Bradley, is supposedly privatizing the Council’s security needs. The contract to provide security services has now been awarded to the Council’s Security Manager, Hiram Longsworth, and a verbal promise was made, at the time the termination notices were issued, for all the terminated employees to be re-hired by Longsworth. In an interview with LOVE FM this past Tuesday, Bradley declared that discussions to privatize the security services began late last year when it was decided that the service could be outsourced. It was not said how the security services came to be “outsourced” to an employee of the same City Council. The former CitCo employees claim that they were not properly informed about the resolution, and therefore they must now find other ways to “put bread on the table,” since they have been abruptly terminated.

“SHOA WI SELF” AWARDS THIS WEEKEND
This Saturday, February 1, Belizean musicians, their enthusiasts, and the public in general will have the opportunity to see local artists get rewarded for their hard work and dedication, as KREM Television will be hosting its 2nd Annual “Shoa Wi Self” Awards at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts in Belize City. The award show – which starts at 7:00 p.m. – promises to have a full range of entertainment, and will be featuring stellar performances by a variety of popular local artists, such as Tanya Carter, Denise Castillo, TR Shine and Positive Vibez. Today, Amandala spoke with Evan “Mose” Hyde, KREM Television’s general manager, who told us more about the show and its purpose. Hyde said, “Basically, it’s our night of looking back at all the performers who excelled [during the past year], or between that time who – in our opinion – deserve to be highlighted. This is our way of honoring these people, and we are pleased that we [KREM TV] are able to recognize the excellence of Belizean creativity.”

6 MONTHS FOR 0.1 GRAM OF MARIJUANA, LESS THAN A JOINT!
A Belize City man who pleaded guilty to possession of 0.1 gram of marijuana in the courtroom of Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith was sentenced to six months in prison on Monday. According to court records, on Friday, January 24, police on mobile patrol spotted Gill tossing something out of his hand, when he saw the police vehicle approaching him. Police recovered the small amount of marijuana, 0.1 gram, which is less than a fully rolled joint. Lyndon Gill Sr., 33, a resident of #29 Rose Lane, did not have to wait too long to learn his fate after he entered a guilty plea to possession of a controlled drug. Court records revealed that Gill has three previous convictions for marijuana possession, for which he was fined. The records, however, indicated that he had not paid any of those fines the court had imposed upon him.

“D-DAY” FOR PECK FAMILY FRIDAY!
Corporal Geno Peck’s conviction on Monday in the Magistrate’s Court for possession of unlicensed ammunition has opened a new chapter in the debate on the Firearms Act and the harsh penalties it stipulates. Corporal Peck has been remanded to prison and is awaiting sentencing tomorrow, Friday. Under the provisions of the law, he can be sentenced to up to eight years in prison for keeping unlicensed ammunition and prohibited ammunition – the charges for which he was convicted. Peck, a veteran police officer for 22 years and reportedly a sterling family man, sent word to his wife Loretta, via a text message, that he had been found guilty. The guilty verdict has hit the family hard. Loretta Peck told 7 News: “In the text he said, ‘Love, they found me guilty; please don’t cry – God is on our side.’”

CASTRO STRIPPED OF CIVIL AVIATION PORTFOLIO!
During yesterday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, the Government of Belize (GOB) sought to carry out “damage control,” mainly in light of escalating public criticism arising from an ongoing scandal involving the disbursement of checks from the operating account of the Belize Airports Authority (BAA), which were made out either personally to Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport, Hon. Edmond Castro, or on behalf of him. In an effort to quell some of the public’s indignation over this and other government scandals, Cabinet has made the decision to take several steps to address the allegations of wrongdoing and to, in some respects, dole out punitive measures for the erring ministers of government. Late Tuesday evening, Cabinet issued a press release, indicating that it had received an informal report from the Belize Airports Authority concerning the issuance of checks to, or on behalf of, Hon. Castro.

TEACHERS FROM THE SOUTH RALLY IN ‘GRIGA
The fifth in a series of nationwide rallies organized by the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) was held today in Dangriga, and the teachers from the southern part of the country made sure that their voices were clearly heard as they continuously raged on about current national issues and condemned the Barrow administration for what they call “rampant corruption” within the Government. Before the rally, the seemingly jubilant teachers – led by the Stann Creek Branch of the BNTU – marched and chanted through the main street of Dangriga to the beating sounds of Garifuna drums, heartily singing their union theme songs. The sequence of rallies has arguably peeved the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow, and the Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber, who have both received the brunt of the teachers’ furor. Faber has publicly said that he cannot comprehend why the teachers are rallying, since according to him, the negotiations for their salary increase – which is a part of the reason for the rallies – had not broken down.

Editorial: CABINET MOVES ON ELVIN/EDMOND
On Tuesday of this week, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet made a few moves with respect to the disciplinary problems involving Cayo North East area representative, Elvin Penner, and Belize Rural North area representative, Edmond Castro. (The details of the moves are being reported elsewhere in this issue of the newspaper.) There are two immediate things to note about the Penner and Castro situations. One is that the Penner violations are more serious, and in fact constitute a crime against the nation of Belize. And the second thing to note is that Penner is much weaker politically in his constituency than Castro is. Many Belizeans have the view that the elected politicians in their particular constituency, when that politician’s political party is also elected to government and he or she becomes a Cabinet Minister, should find ways to use the system so that the constituency and the constituents can gain benefits. If, in acquiring those benefits for the constituency and the constituents, the elected politician also feathers his own nest, many voters will not normally hold that against him. That is how it appears. In the specific case of Mr. Castro, he defended his Belize Rural North seat with a huge margin of victory in 2012, even after the Prime Minister had removed him from Cabinet in his first term because of a misdeed.

Editorial: SPECIAL BRANCH
Special Branch is what the British called that section of the Police Force which did secret service work. Special Branch spied on Belizeans, especially those who were active in groups like trade unions and activist organizations and political parties. Special Branch gathered information, then, on any one who, or any group which, could be considered any kind of threat to the colonial order of things. In 1964, British Honduras became a self-governing colony, and this meant that the same man who would have been considered a dangerous security threat by the British in 1954 (Sharpe Inquiry), and in 1957 (expulsion from London), and in 1958 (sedition trial), became the First Minister, and then Premier. This was the Rt. Hon. George Price. So what happened to the Special Branch files on him when Mr. Price himself became, ultimately, responsible for Special Branch? Likewise, what happened to the Special Branch files when Mr. Esquivel replaced Mr. Price as Prime Minister in 1984? Special Branch had been working for Mr. Price for twenty years, providing him with weekly information on his enemies, which would have included Mr. Esquivel. One morning Special Branch were working for Mr. Price, and the following morning, after the votes were counted, they were working for Mr. Esquivel.

FROM THE PUBLISHER
In mid-May of 1981, while Belize was under a state of emergency, a blind guy by the name of Gilberto Rivero, if I remember his name correctly, brought a copy of a Mexican magazine, Presencia, to the old Amandala building. It appears he also took copies of that magazine to The Reporter and The Beacon, which was the newspaper organ of the Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) at the time. All three newspapers re-produced an article in the magazine which said that a Mexican marijuana cultivator and trafficker, reportedly shot dead in Houston, had claimed that the Belize Premier, Hon. George Price, was his partner. The Mexican was known to use Belize diplomatic licence plates on his Mercedes-Benz and to cross the border frequently back-and-forth between Chetumal and Belize. Mr. Price demanded an apology from the three newspapers. His lawyers, Derek Courtenay and Glenn Godfrey, did not demand an apology from the Mexican magazine which was the source of the article. When the Belizean newspapers did not apologize, they were sued for libel.

MAYOR DARRELL BRADLEY: SOME ADVICE
Dear Editor, Mayor Bradley’s infrastructural accomplishments in Belize City demonstrate that political leaders can achieve remarkable things for the people they serve. Despite what remains to be done, city residents are grateful and for the first time in decades are expressing some level of optimism for the city’s future. Bradley’s approach deserves to be studied and the results shared with the “body politic”, if only for good measure. However, lips are whispering that Bradley is thinking of ascending to higher heights. If true, he probably believes that he has proven his worth in Belize City and is now ready to make a more profound impact as a member of the Cabinet. Unsuspectingly, this will prove too much a challenge because the stakes are higher and the dynamics of political power and control are harsh at that level. Check out Godwin H. Once there, Bradley will eventually find himself “falling into line”, isolated or at worst prematurely exiting the political arena in frustration. But that is a topic for another time.

J. C. Arzu’s ideas for better governance
Dear Editor, It’s observed that: The unity of Land and Labor yields Capital. The unity of Land, Labor and Capital yields Profits. In a true democracy, men and women are citizens. And, all are equal before the law. In a monarchy, men and women are subjects. And, not all are equal before the law. Furthermore, in a true democracy a citizen can aspire to rise to the office of Head of State and his wife named First Lady. When a female rises to Head of State her husband is named First Gentleman or, First Bloke. On the other hand, in a monarchy the monarch inherits his/her office. No subject is eligible to rise to the office of Head of State, except through revolution. In republics, Prime Ministers are generally Chief of Staff. In monarchies, Prime Ministers are Head of Government; such is the case across the British Commonwealth.

IT IS WRONG, IT IS DISTASTEFUL… AND IT IS CORRUPTION!
In Belize we seem not to want to understand what is corruption, abuse of office, conflict of interest and all the situations where people in public office act in their best interest rather than the interest of those they represent. This is bad, because it means that we keep on calibrating our moral and ethical compass to justify a situation. This is especially dangerous when the leader of this country moves his goal post to defend the wrong of Ali Baba’s forty thieves. The recent revelation by the media of some 70 plus cheques written out by the BAA for the non-BAA use is unacceptable. Even more unacceptable is the fact that Minister Edmund Castro is again at the center of the storm, with him having received directly or indirectly the benefit of some 30% of the money. But BAA Board members also benefitted, and so did many others who we are told received money for “education assistance.” But no matter how you spin it, the Board, in my honest view, acted beyond its power and legal authority in using BAA money for purposes not stated in the Belize Airport Authority Act, Chapter 238, which clearly sets out what can and cannot be done as a Board and an Authority. Section 17 set out the functions of the BAA:

PAC finds anomalies with Venezuela grant
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), chaired by pro-tempore chairman John Saldivar, met this week and reviewed the Special Report on the 2007 Venezuelan Grant Programme, as well as the 2007-2008 Government audit. The monthly meetings are being held to clear a backlog of reports which the PAC will continue to review until February 2014. During the course of Monday’s proceedings, the PAC reviewed the money trail for the $10 million Venezuela grant, which was wired to London and converted into pounds sterling before being sent over to Belize, shrouding the source of the funds. Saldivar told Plus TV after this Monday’s meeting that, “…the Auditor General indicated that invoices were not provided for how the money was spent. Some of it—about $1.5 million—were put in commercial bank accounts and then disbursed to recipients, which was contrary to financial orders and that sort of stuff.”

UBAD EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION (UEF) – 2013 ANNUAL REPORT (edited)
United Black Association for Development (UBAD) was a cultural, activist, and political organization which was conceived on February 9, 1969, in Belize City, Belize, Central America. This marked a period of enlightenment of African Belizeans with a focus upon positive and accurate facts about Africans locally, and globally. UBAD’s desire to inform and motivate African Belizeans about their African heritage, culture, and history was welcomed, considering it filled a void that was created by the colonial system. Under President Evan X Hyde’s leadership, UBAD spearheaded a breakfast program and operated a bakery. The Amandala newspaper was one of the most effective organs of communication for UBAD. Following internal conflict, UBAD was formally dissolved in 1974.

Check your change before leaving the counter!
A family is claiming that they have been cheated of over $30 after their daughter came home with change for $20 instead of $50, which the mother says she gave the girl to make a purchase at a Chinese store in the Lake Independence area this morning at about 7:30. The girl returned to the store 7:30 this evening, 12 hours after the purchase, to request the remainder of the money, but the storeowner was adamant that she had been paid with $20, and that she had given change for that amount. Police were called by the irate mother in an effort to recover the remainder of her money, but the effort failed. The police said that the family must accept the loss, if indeed they had taken $50, instead of $20, to the store—which could not be confirmed since the serial number of the money is not known and thus could not be pinpointed.

Importation/exportation of goods between Belize and Mexico suspended
Businessmen at the Mexican border of the country are agitated over a temporary halt to the importation and exportation of goods over the border that are the core economic activities in the area. Goods from Belize cannot be transported into Mexico, or from Mexico into Belize because the license of the Agencia Aduanal “Servicios Aduaneros Integrados” (The Integrated Customs Service), the only broker agency for the importation and exportation of goods on the Mexican side of the border, has been suspended since Friday. The reason for the suspension by the Mexican authorities, or when it will be lifted, is not yet known. In an interview with Amandala today, Marcelino Miranda, the Public Relations Officer at the Mexican Embassy in Belize City, said that the Integrated Customs Service, on the Mexican side of the border, is a private company and has nothing to do with the Mexican government. There are other customs brokers who can do similar duties in the area, or a company from Belize can step up to offer the same duties on the Belize side of the border, he said, adding that the Mexican Embassy can be approached for assistance if no customs broker is found.

Integrity Commission resurrected – Marilyn Williams to take lead
Marilyn Williams, former head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), has confirmed to Amandala that she has, without hesitation, accepted an offer from Prime Minister Dean Barrow to become the new head of the Integrity Commission – a body established in 1994, but which has been non-functional for most of its existence. The last publicly visible chairman of the commission was Chris Coye, former president of the Bar Association of Belize. Coye served under the former People’s United Party administration, and publicly expressed his frustration with the ineffectiveness of the commission. Back in July 2009, Government announced that B.Q. Pitts was the new head of the Integrity Commission, but the languishing Commission, appointed for a two-year term only, has been dormant since. Pitts became Attorney General in July 2010, vacating that office, and no new commission was sworn in.

3 WALK FROM BRUTAL MURDER CASE
Three Dangriga men charged with murder for the gruesome death of Honduran national Rodolfo Villatoro walked down the steps of the courthouse building in Dangriga yesterday, free men after they were found not guilty of the charge in the Supreme Court Southern Session. The men are Nicodemus Rodriguez, Gilbert Lamb and Guillermo Martinez, who had been in custody since April 2009.The trial judge was Justice Denis S. Hanomansingh. Police reports are that around midday on April 9, 2009, the body of Rudolfo Villatoro, who was living on Samwood Street, Dangriga, was found in the outdoor latrine in his yard, which is behind Habet Hardware in Dangriga Town. His head had been decapitated, his right arm chopped off and his two feet also severed and thrown into the latrine pit. The scent of rotting flesh had been tormenting the neighborhood.

SUV COLLIDES WITH SCHOOL BUS
Several students were hurt when an SUV collided with a bus carrying students to school, at about 7:35 yesterday morning at an area between Miles 69 and 70 on the Philip Goldson Highway in Corozal. The driver of the SUV, Eusebio Urbina, 58, of San Roman, also suffered injuries. Urbina was travelling in a Jeep Cherokee from Santa Clara to Buena Vista in the Corozal District, when he lost control of his vehicle between Miles 69 and 70 on the Northern Highway, and slammed into the left front side of an oncoming school bus, being driven at the time by Lawrence Tillett, 55, of Belize-Corozal Road in Orange Walk, carrying students to the Belize Adventist College in Calcutta.

In case of disputed Belama lot, Supreme Court injunction remains in effect
The injunction on construction upon a disputed lot in Belama, which Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin had granted last December to Bernadette Pickwood against the family of former Ministry of Natural Resources CEO Beverly Castillo, remains in effect, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. Pickwood applied for the injunction to stop Maud Williams and Mervin Castillo, the mother and son of Beverly Castillo, from continuing construction on the lot at the corner of Chetumal and Albert Hoy Streets, after she learned that her lease had been canceled and the lot given to them. Audrey Matura-Shepherd, the attorney for the Pickwood family, told reporters after she emerged from the hearing in the Chief Justice’s chamber that the injunction would remain.

Major municipalities show 7.4% decline in business registration
Data supplied on The Adele Ramos Show by the CEO of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) indicates that roughly 7.4% fewer businesses were registered for 2013 in four important municipalities for which information was available. Those municipalities are Punta Gorda, Dangriga, Belize City and Belmopan. The data indicate that whereas 229 new businesses were registered in 2013, a total of 246 did not renew their registration.

Legal gold extraction exceeds BZ$6 mil
The problem of illegal harvesting of gold by Guatemalans inside the Chiquibul forest is a growing concern for Belize, and Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) recently reported escalating illegal activities further inland from the Belize-Guatemala border, with gold panners coming from distant departments in Guatemala and trying more innovative techniques to search for gold. What is drawing them to Belize is millions of dollars’ worth of precious gold. Michelle Alvarez, Geologist & Inspector of Mines, of the Mining Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture, has informed Amandala that between the years 2000 – 2013, the volume of gold extracted from the Chiquibul under approved mineral rights was 2,538.4 ounces. Using the formula provided to our newspaper, we were able to calculate the value of the unprocessed gold at roughly BZ$6.2 million. According to Alvarez, this has yielded BZ$233,348.77 in royalty payments (calculated at 5% of the unprocessed value) to the Government of Belize, apart from annual administrative fees and rentals, which are dependent on the area held under mineral right.

Finnegan to US for spinal surgery
Mesopotamia area representative Hon. Michael Finnegan, who is also the Minister of Housing, left Belize this week to undergo what his wife, Diane Finnegan, has described as a “very delicate” spinal surgery in Los Angeles, California. She told us that Finnegan is being accompanied by Director of Health Services Michael Pitts, and he is currently being prepared for surgery. Mrs. Finnegan is asking for prayers for her husband during this very challenging time. She leaves Belize next Monday to join her husband, whose surgery is scheduled for Thursday. February 6, 2014.

Unfinished business
Their first meeting in Week 1 of the PLB Belikin Cup Opening Season 2013-2014 regular season was a 0-0 draw at the MCC Grounds on September 29. Their second meeting on November 16, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, sparked a bit of controversy, after FC Belize pulled out a 3-2 victory, and the Bandits management proceeded to protest the match on the grounds of some unpaid fees for yellow cards. The protest was unsuccessful. Except a gross violation of game rules, where there is a perceived unfairness in competition, fans generally prefer to see a victory on the field of play. After the loss to FC Belize, the Bandits had also dropped a game to San Ignacio United. Things were looking a bit troublesome for a while, and some Bandits fans tried to rehash the protest talk, but to no avail. Coach Edmund “Buzzard” Pandy appeared to have righted things after a victory over Verdes, but the playoff race already looked tight, and the Bandits ownership was taking no chances, going for “heavier guns” in the person of former national team coach LeRoy Sherrier Lewis.

Boxing in Cayo
Cayo Lions Den manager Frank Martinez informed our sports desk this morning that his gym is planning a boxing event for Saturday, February 15, at the Sacred Heart Auditorium in San Ignacio. Some young boxers are being invited from Dangriga, where they are under the tutelage of former boxing star, now trainer, George Swazo. Along with the young boxers from the Cayo Lions Den (trainer, Frank Martinez) and the Ladyville Lions Den (trainer, Clinton Tucker) gyms, Martinez said he is also hoping to have a good turnout of young boxers from the Leopold Smart Gym in Belize City. “The youths are hungry for the chance to test their skills,” said Martinez, “and it is up to the different gyms to make the effort to give them that opportunity to compete and to interact with other youths from across the country.” The biggest obstacle in staging a boxing card is covering the cost of the logistics, said Martinez, and he said he met with Boxing Federation President Moses Sulph to discuss the importance of seeking support for these initiatives, and to encourage all the boxing gyms to support each other by participating when events are planned.

BBF announces tryouts
The Belize Basketball Federation (BBF) is seeking players to form National Under 16 and National Under 15 boys’ basketball teams to play in the U16 COCABA Championship tournament in Mexico in June 2014, and the U15 championship tournament in Honduras in March 2014. Players from across the country who were born in 1998 or after, and who wish to become a member of the Belize national basketball team can try out for the teams on Saturday, February 1, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Bird’s Isle in Belize City. Parents are encouraged to accompany their children for the tryouts. Please contact National Team Coach Matthew Smiling at 600-4480 or Coach Fred Gabourel at 602-7876 for more information.

2014 – SJC Table Tennis
The Belize Table Tennis Association (BTTA) hosted the 3rd Annual SJC Table Tennis Tournament on Saturday, January 25, at the BES auditorium in Belize City. Over thirty players competed in three categories. Here are the winners: Beginners – 1st Harsh Khatwani; 2nd Daryl Palacio; 3rd Daniel Pickwoad; 4th Cohen Kang. Intermediate – 1st Ashar Arthurs; 2nd Mathew Usher; 3rd Trevon Brown; 4th Christopher Gongora. Advanced – 1st Fabio Carballo; 2nd Harim Ochaeta; 3rd Gian Lisbey; 4th Mishek Musa.

4th UpStream
Having rained heavily the day before, Saturday, January 25 turned out to be a beautiful day for our 4th UpStream: Haulover Bridge to Boom, part sponsored by RF&G Insurance. Twelve teams, in seven categories, lined up under the Haulover Bridge and took off at around 9:15 a.m. when the horn sounded. The race was slow, given the high river conditions with strong current which the teams had to paddle against. The maximum speed reached was 5 mph, taken off GPS readings from onboard the Joseph & Taylor STEELers’ canoe. The station prize in front of Manatee Lookout, dinner for 3, was won by the Belize Bank Bulldogs, being the first canoe to reach and pass the location, which was marked by a buoy. Completing the race in 2:23:14 was the Belize Bank Bulldogs (Armin Lopez, Amado Cruz and Daniel Lopez), to capture 1st Male and overall winner. They were followed closely behind by Westrac’s Erwin Cruz, Hener Cruz and Jerry Cante, to take 2nd place Male in a time of 2:34:27. Third place went to Joseph & Taylor STEELers (Jerry Rhaburn, Francis Codd and Chris Guydis). They finished in 2:36:53. The Belize Coast Guard’s “BELIZE” (brothers Godfrey, Jonathan and Jack Alford) took 4th Male and 7th overall, finishing in 2:42:57.

SON SLAMMED WITH MURDER CHARGE FOR SHOOTING DEATH OF FATHER
Ryan Jones, 25, of Ranchito, Corozal, has been charged by police with murder today after his father, Hensley Nick Jones, 56, a businessman of Ranchito, died at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital 25 days after he allegedly was shot 3 times in the head by Ryan. The incident occurred about 10:30 New Year’s Day night at their home in Ranchito. Jones will answer to the charges in court tomorrow, Wednesday. Police said that Ryan was at home in the kitchen with his father, when for unknown reasons, he shot him and then fled the house in his vehicle, leaving his father bleeding and wounded in the house.

BOSTON VILLAGER PLEADS GUILTY TO DRUG TRAFFICKING; FINED $10,000
A resident of Boston, Belize District, pleaded guilty to one count of drug trafficking and was fined $10,000, when he appeared before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer, on Wednesday. James Gibson, 49, had initially pleaded not guilty to the charge, but changed his plea to guilty today. Gibson, in his mitigation plea, begged Magistrate Frazer to show leniency. He explained that he is a single father of five children and that he would mortgage his house or sell off a piece of land to raise the money to pay the court fine. He told the court that in 2013, when he was remanded to prison for the drug trafficking charge (he later got bail), it had a serious impact on his life and tore his family apart.

Convicted rapist, Leroy Gomez, 26, beats escape rap
A jury of six women and three men deliberated for 1 hour and 18 minutes, on Monday, before they returned with a not guilty verdict in the trial of Leroy Gomez, 26, a convicted rapist, who was indicted on a charge of escape from lawful custody. Leroy Gomez, who is serving a 15-year sentence for a rape conviction, was undefended by an attorney, in the trial for escape before Supreme Court Justice Adolph Lucas. Crown Counsel Shanice Lovell argued the prosecution’s case. According to police, on August 27, 2011, Gomez was arrested and taken to the Mahogany Street Police Station, after a rape report was made against him.

Paul Jex, accused murderer of Aubrey Lopez, on trial
Paul Jex, 25, the man accused of killing local basketball icon and teacher, Aubrey Lopez, 30, is on trial for murder in the Supreme Court of Justice Adolph Lucas. The trial began on Monday, and three witnesses have already testified. Jex is being defended by attorney Tricia Pitts-Anderson, who is being assisted by Bernard Q.A. Pitts, and the case is being prosecuted by Crown Counsel Kaysha Grant, who is being assisted by Crown Counsel Shanice Lovell. The prosecution intends to call about 16 witnesses. Aubrey Lopez was found dead on Prince Street around 11:20 p.m. on May 12, 2010. He had a single gunshot wound to his head.

Son slammed with murder charge for shooting death of father
Ryan Jones, 25, of Ranchito, Corozal, has been charged by police with murder today after his father, Hensley Nick Jones, 56, a businessman of Ranchito, died at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital 25 days after he allegedly was shot 3 times in the head by Ryan. The incident occurred about 10:30 New Year’s Day night at their home in Ranchito. Jones will answer to the charges in court tomorrow, Wednesday. Police said that Ryan was at home in the kitchen with his father, when for unknown reasons, he shot him and then fled the house in his vehicle, leaving his father bleeding and wounded in the house.

The Reporter

Guardian Bombers win SMART men’s softball championship
The Guardian Bombers won the 2013 SMART men’s softball championship by an 11-3 mercy rule victory over the Oceana Strikers in the third game of the finals. The Belize City competition concluded at Roger’s Stadium last Wednesday night, January 22. The Bombers led 3-1 when the […] Wesley girls & SJC boys lead in high school football

Wesley girls & SJC boys lead in high school football
William Ysaguirre Feelance Reporter The undefeated girls of Wesley College and the boys of St. John’s College are the top seeded teams entering the playoffs of the Belize City High Schools Football Competition organized by the Central Secondary Schools Sports Association (CSSSA) which concluded its regular season at the M.C.C. […]

Positioning ourselves to gain from trade
“If we do not take action, those who have the most reason to be dissatisfied with our present rate of growth will be tempted to seek short-sighted and narrow solutions—to resist automation, to reduce the work week to 35 hours or even lower, to shut out imports. … But these […]

Penner stripped of government vehicle
Ex-deputy minister Elvin Penner has been stripped of his government-provided SUV as well as his position as the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Utilities, Transport and Communications. The decision was made at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. The move is part of the government’s […]

Belize gets new chair for Integrity Commission
Former Financial Intelligence Unit Director, Marilyn Williams, has been chosen to be the new Chair of the Integrity Commission. According to a Cabinet press release issued this week, Williams will be formally assigned the role at next month’s sitting of the Senate. Williams spoke to […]

IDB: Belize needs to expand sewerage coverage
A technical note released by the Inter-American Development Bank last month revealed that in Belize only 11 per cent of Belize’s population, in Belize, Belmopan and San Pedro, have access to sanitary sewerage services. The report examined the conditions of wastewater collection and treatment […]

Son charged for killing his own father
Thirty-year-old Hensleigh Ryan Jones appeared at the Corozal Magistrates Court where he was formally charged for Murder for the death of his father, 53-year-old Hensley “Nick” Jones. Nick Jones was the proprietor of Nick’s Waste Management in Corozal Town. The charge of attempted murder was upgraded to murder when Hensley […]

Girl, 16 raped by boyfriend’s brother
A 16-year-old girl reported to police that she was raped by her boyfriend’s brother. The victim, a student, along with her mother reported to the San Ignacio Police that on January 3 she was at her 16-year-old boyfriends’s house in San Pedro Town, where his […]

Define Corruption
Just when Belizean felt that a new party and therefore a new administration got into power, that things would begin to actually change, it only got worse. The most recent scandal (and they seem now to surface weekly), involving Minister Edmond ‘Clear the Land’ Castro and the […]

Mayor says absent Eric Chang should answer to immigration scandal charges
Former Deputy Mayor Eric Chang should publicly reply to charges that he was allegedly involved in getting an unearned Belize passport to a jailed businessman in Taiwan, Mayor Darrell Bradley told reporters on Tuesday. The Mayor said that the cloud surrounding Chang is affecting his relationships […]

Guatemalans logging in Caracol archaeological reserve
By The government of Belize needs to allocate more resources, human and material, to protect Belize’s natural resources in the Caracol Archaeological reserve and the Chiquibul forest reserve and nature preserve, Rafael Manzanero, the director of the Friends for Conservation and Development said last Friday. Speaking […]

What is the OSH Bill?
By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter The Occupational Safety and Health Bill, 2014, is a proposed legislation that would establish regulatory principles for big and small employers and their employees, and would carry stiff penalties for non-compliant persons. The recently tabled bill was lobbied for by the National Trade Union […]

Panoply; or all about the Money?
By Louis Wade The teachers are marching, again. The last time they took to the streets was last year January 2013 when government said there was no money for a salary adjustment. Before that, it was way back in 2005 when teachers were tired of the corruption under the then […]

Woman pregnant with womb she once occupied?
It sounds like a futuristic medical miracle: A woman born without a womb gets a shot at giving birth to a baby after undergoing a womb transplant (with her own mother serving as the donor) followed by a successful embryo transfer. But it’s actually happened. Now, if a pregnancy results, […]

Good cholesterol can turn nasty and clog arteries
Good cholesterol also has a nasty side that can increase the risk of heart attacks, according to US doctors. “Good”, or HDL, cholesterol normally helps to keep arteries clear and is good for heart health. But the team at the Cleveland Clinic showed it can become abnormal and lead to […]

36 fired – CWU to the rescue!
The Christian Workers Union (CWU) held a press conference on Thursday morning to publicly raise the issue of 36 security officers whose jobs have been terminated by the City Council and whose futures remain uncertain. According to CWU President, Audrey Matura Shepherd and six of the terminated security officers, the […]

Police, family rally behind Cpl. Gino Peck!
Twenty-two-year Belize Police Department veteran Corporal Gino Peck, 42, will learn his fate on Friday morning, January 31, when Chief Magistrate Ann-Marie Smith will deliver sentence on convictions for two counts of keeping ammunition without a license and one count of keeping prohibited ammunition. Corporal […]

Castro disciplined, BAA board fired!
By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter This week Cabinet fired the entire board of directors of the Belize Airport Authority, and stripped Minister of State Edmond Castro of his Civil Aviation portfolio. Responding to the This week Cabinet fired the entire board of directors of the Belize Airport Authority, and stripped […]

14% unemployment, low inflation says SIB
By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter Unemployment has gone down by almost two percent, and inflation stands at zero point five percent, the Statistical Institute of Belize reported Wednesday, at The SIB held a press conference on Wednesday to release the data on Unemployment, Inflation and External Trade Statistics. The SIB’s […]

Blogs

Chabil Mar Villas, Placencia, Belize: I NEVER Wanted To Leave
I had two nights planned in Placencia Village staying on the low budget end of thing. First night at Lydia’s Guesthouse where I shared two bathrooms with a handful of guests. $45bzd a night. Second night at Julia’s Cabanas on the beach where I had a large room with my own front porch and hammock for $80bzd. I was also right next to the very popular Barefoot Bar and found that I can easily fall asleep to loud reggae music. Both perfectly fine and centrally located. I’ll be staying at Julia’s again when I return in February for the Sidewalk Arts & Music Festival. I had a fantastic time, fell in love with Placencia all over again and was ready to hop a bus back to San Pedro (well…a few boats are also involved). And then I got a chance to stay one more night at Chabil Mar Villas. The boutique resort that I’ve heard quite a bit about. I’d seen the gates from the road but was very curious to see the resort…and…I was not disappointed at all. I’m not sure how they pulled this off but Chabil Mar is the most peaceful relaxing 24 hours I’ve spent in Belize. Bliss. Seriously. Like when you are meditating (WHAT! I meditated once!) and they tell you to “picture your happy place” bliss.

What you need to know about The Year of the Horse and its ties to Belize
You don’t need to be Chinese to celebrate Chinese New Year, and here at Chaa Creek we want to wish all of our many friends around the world a very auspicious Year of the Horse. In multicultural Belize, the Chinese community plays an important role in making our country the diverse, harmonious nation that it is. We couldn’t imagine Belize without the Chinese community, and this is a good time to recognise their achievements and many contributions to modern day Belize. So here’s to the Year of the Horse! It’s no secret that we really love horses here. Check out the Chaa Creek stables and you’ll see some of the finest examples of equestrian excellence in all of Belize. Our miles of beautiful secure jungle trails make for an amazing day out, and we’ve always maintained that there’s no better way to experience the rainforest than from the back of a horse, taking in the sounds and barely disturbing the abundant wildlife to be found. But enough about us – here’s what we’re told the Horse symbolises in the Chinese horoscope, and see if you can find any similarities in people you know born during the years of the horse, or maybe find clues in what lies ahead this year.

Pizza Rolls
Another easy recipe for your Super Bowl party. Pizza rolls are very simple to make. No yeast involved. Only a few ingredients needed. Ready in 30 minutes

Your company and social media.
After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, oil giant BP experienced a backlash via social media, becoming a victim of “brandhacking”. A source unaffiliated with the multinational company created the Twitter handle @BPGlobalPR, gathering more than 137,000 followers while sending out satirical tweets about the multi-billion-dollar disaster, such as “Catastrophe is a strong word, let’s all agree to call it a whoopsie daisy.” The account is still in existence and has almost double the followers of the actual corporate BP account. Even the world’s savviest corporate executives can be caught off-guard by the power regular consumers wield when it comes to expressing their thoughts on social media, said Paul Armstrong, founder of UK-based Digital Orange Consulting, who has worked with giants like Google and Mindshare. “Many brands are simply not prepared for the worst-case scenarios,” he added. Only 12% of the 2,100 global companies interviewed in a 2010 Harvard Business Review survey said they were using it effectively, but two-thirds of those companies say their social media use will grow.

Things to do in Belize – Friday night Trivia at Crazy Canucks
There is no shortage of things to do in Belize and often too they all end up happening at the same time :) Tonight is regular Friday night at Think and Drink Trivia held at Crazy Canucks beach bar. Since it is the last Friday of the month, part of the proceeds go to San Pedro Belize Red Cross. Come on out and wear a Red Shirt in support of the San Pedro Red Cross. Trivia is always packed and lots of fun. Rob the host does a great job of seeing that the leading team does not get to much of an edge by getting shots at the end of the round and settling tie breakers with drinking challenges. This weekend one of those times where there will be too many things to do in Belize, so many great Superbowl parties going on all over the island. know Feliz and Carlo and Ernie’s Runway bar are doing squares, Lola’s and Canucks has great live rock and roll music with the Coverups and the does not even include the hot private parties that will be happening. A bunch of us are doing Intentional Jam at Catamaran beach bar and then watching the game on the big screen tv set up under a tent on the beach. I will be bringing my hula hoops and I am hoping the two pro hoopers get mack to me and say they will come out to play. I did 69 minutes straight today that is my longest ever.

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5 ROMANTIC VALENTINE GETAWAYS IN BELIZE
Valentine's Day, the most romantic day of the year, is coming up. With V-Day falling on a Friday, it's the perfect opportunity to plan a romantic getaway. What better way to show your love than to spice things up for not one, but three whole days? If you need help finding somewhere to go, here are our suggestions for five romantic Belize getaways. 1. GAIA RIVERLODGE, MOUNTAIN PINE RIDGE 2. HOPKINS BAY RESORT, HOPKINS 3. GRAND COLONY ISLAND VILLAS, AMBERGRIS CAYE 4. KOKOMO BEACH SUITES, CAYE CAULKER 5. MAMA NOOTS ECO RESORT, POMONA

Deadly Belize Coast Guard Boat Accident in Crooked Tree Village
A young man lost his life in a Belize Coast Guard boating accident on the Crooked Tree Lagoon early this morning. A village resident I spoke with said that teenager, Ben Gentle, Jr. died of blunt force from the collision of two coast guard boats. Five other students were seriously injured. The Belize Coast Guard boats have been in the village to shuttle high school children and villagers across the Crooked Tree Lagoon since October 31 of 2013. Crooked Tree Village has been cut off from road access due to continuous rains that caused serious flooding in and around the Belize River Valley area. This was supposed to be a short boat ride and today was supposed to be the last day that the coast guard were performing their duties. The village council had an award dinner planned in their honor tomorrow night in the village to thank them for their tireless work and professionalism.

International Sources

This mesmerizing timelapse shows an entire year's worth of weather
(Use full screen. Listen to the narrator closely as he points out some interesting weather phenomena.)

40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World
If you’re a visual learner like myself, then you know maps, charts and infographics can really help bring data and information to life. Maps can make a point resonate with readers and this collection aims to do just that. Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head.

Dear America, I Saw You Naked. And yes, we were laughing. Confessions of an ex-TSA agent
Each day I had to look into the eyes of passengers in niqabs and thawbs undergoing full-body pat-downs, having been guilty of nothing besides holding passports from the wrong nations. As the son of a German-American mother and an African-American father who was born in the Jim Crow South, I can pass for Middle Eastern, so the glares directed at me felt particularly accusatory. The thought nagged at me that I was enabling the same government-sanctioned bigotry my father had fought so hard to escape. Most of us knew the directives were questionable, but orders were orders. And in practice, officers with common sense were able to cut corners on the most absurd rules, provided supervisors or managers weren’t looking. Then a man tried to destroy a plane with an underwear bomb, and everything changed. We knew the full-body scanners didn’t work before they were even installed. Not long after the Underwear Bomber incident, all TSA officers at O’Hare were informed that training for the Rapiscan Systems full-body scanners would soon begin. The machines cost about $150,000 a pop.

Software guru McAfee says he lost everything in Belize
After a wild year during which he dodged police in Belize, landed in the slammer in Guatemala and was deported to the United States, antivirus pioneer John McAfee says he’s broke. The electronics guru made the claim in an interview with CNN following the news that Intel, the firm that bought McAfee's antivirus company in 2010, had decided to scrap the McAfee name and rebrand it Intel Security. The Scottish-born American citizen told CNNMoney that he's lost everything. Only a fraction of his one-time US$100 million net worth survived the 2008 market crash. But his fortunes really took a hit in 2012 when he fled Belize police who wanted him for questioning on the death of his neighbour. According to the CNN report, the government raided his jungle compound and seized everything inside. The buildings on McAfee's property later burned down under suspicious circumstances. "Everything I owned was in Belize. I left with nothing in my pocket," he said.

Belize, Bonaire and Bulgaria: the 3 hottest travel spots
A must for every traveler’s tick list, the Great Blue Hole is Belize’s top tourist attraction. This massive sinkhole is carved out from natural limestone formations leading deep below the water’s surface. You can find this hidden wonder near the center of the Lighthouse reef, about 70km away from the mainland. The further you dive, the clearer the water gets, allowing adventurists to soak in the stunning marine scenery. So get ready to swim with the sharks – literally! However, not everyone is a fan of creeping sea creatures, so you may want to turn your attention to the historical Mayan landmarks. Whether it’s the old caves that are home to sacrificial remains, ceramics and stone that catch your eye or the grand El Castillo, a Pyramid ruin and the tallest structure in Xunantunich, Belize will leave you speechless.


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#484852 - 02/01/14 01:31 PM Re: Today's Belize News: February 1, 2014 [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

More News: Scroll up from here

Channel 7

Crooked Tree Calamity!: Coast Guard Collision Causes One Lost Life
Good evening, and welcome to 7news – there’s a lot of big stories ahead tonight – but just to get you started, we’ll tell you straight off that Corporal Gino Peck is at home this evening: he didn’t get sent to jail – even though there’s a mandatory minimum sentence. We’ll tell you how he escaped that later on in the news, plus we’ll have the scene from the courthouse where the DPP was booed. But, first, to the story of the deadly boat accident in the Crooked Tree Lagoon.

Gino Peck Fined And Not Confined: But How?
Corporal, Gino Peck, who was in danger of being sent to prison for firearm offences is at home tonight, much to the delight of his family, friends and supporters. Instead of getting 3 years for keeping prohibited ammunition, and 5 years for keeping unlicensed ammunition, Peck was sentenced to pay a fine of $600.

7Peck’s Attorney Explains
The illegal protest continued like that for just over an hour while the sentencing hearing was postponed. And that’s because today was also the day that DPP Cheryl-Lynn Vidal was to be elevated to Senior Counsel. It in an odd and slightly surreal twist, Vidal was robed and introduced as a new senior counsel by no other than Simeon Sampson, Peck’s attorney, and she invited Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie as her guest of honour at the ceremony, which was also attended by Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, the sitting magistrate in Peck’s case.

Why Was GSU Commander Vidal At Court?
The police department and the Peck family intends to see Gino Peck through an appeal of the Magistrate’s Court conviction because as you heard in our interview, it jeopardizes Peck’s eligibility for pension, his gratuity, and his 22-year tenure of service.

City Security Workers Get A Reprieve From Termination
Last night on the news – you saw the security guards from the city council speaking out because the city had decided to give security duties over to a private contractor. Today would have been the last day at work for 36 of them – and promises were made that the old staff would be hired by the new company – but no written undertakings were given, so many of the workers refused to cross over into an uncertain future.

Matura Shepherd Back-pedals On Bev Cas Accusation
And while Matura Shepherd made meaningful progress on that case, she's had to back-pedal on another. As has been widely reported, she's the attorney for the Pickwoad family, who is challenging the title to a parcel of land held by Marvin Castillo and Maud Williams. They happen to be the son and mother of Beverly Castillo, the recently resigned CEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources - and in media interviews Matura Shepherd had accused Castillo of using her official position to swing a parcel of land into her family's possession.

NTUCB Angry Again, This Time It’s Immigration
The National Trade Union Congress has become known in media circles for its dramatic, over the top releases - and today it issued another. This one is about the Immigration scandal and the NTUCB says it is disturbed about the failure of the recall mechanism, demanding that the immigration audit be released, and perturbed at what it calls stall tactics. The release closes by saying it calls on the nation to quote, "Wake up and rise up!"

The Future For Corporal Peck
In our last segment, we told you all about GINO Peck’s stay of execution at the mitigation hearing. To our memory, it is the first time –that a person convicted of firearm offences is not sent automatically to jail. But, while he dodged that bullet, Peck and his family are compelled to appeal the conviction because he has a lot at risk. Whenever an officer is convicted of criminal offences, the practice is that his retirement benefits are stripped of him, and that’s after that officer is fired.

BDF’s New Recruits Take Their Turn On Parade Square
Today, the BDF’s recruit intake #57 had its passing out to coincide with the Force’s 36th anniversary. The 81 new soldiers did their thing proudly on the parade square at the Price Barracks and the Minister of National security welcomed them to the fold in his keynote address. Here’s an excerpt of his remarks:…

Castro Blames It On The Rain
It hasn't been the best two weeks for Belize Rural North Area Representative Edmund Castro. He was absent from the house last week when the Leader of The Opposition pounced on his alleged abuse of Belize Airport Authority Funds. Since then, the Prime Minister has called those acts wrong and distasteful, and the BAA has been moved away from Castro's ministry of transport. And today, he had to face the music in the wake of a calamity on the Crooked Tree Lagoon that cost the loss of a life. Really, what happened was a most unfortunate accident - and one Castro had nothing to do with but when we went there today - many fingers were pointing at him. Why? Well, they say he should have built up the causeway and that would have pre-empted this extended use of the Coast guard vessels and the exposure to associated hazards.


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