I will be unable to do the daily news tomorrow, Saturday morning July 9. I will return on Sunday morning.
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Specials and Events
Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5, LOVETV, PGTV, West Vision (Cayo) and CTV 3. Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, Rise and Shine Morning Show, and the Dickie Bradley Specials
The San Pedro Sun
Caye Caulker Lobster Festival: Original and Creative
The Caye Caulker Lobster Festival is the original festival that annually celebrates the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus). Traditionally, the festival begins with the choosing of Miss Lobster Fest on Friday night, followed by fabulous parties throughout the rest of the weekend. However, 2016 was different, and on Friday, July 1st, organizers focused on the tasty lobster in the first-ever Lobster Cook-Off. Sponsored by Grace Kennedy Belize Limited, the cook-off had four teams of two preparing a lobster appetizer. After the first round of tasting, one team would be knocked out of the competition, and the remaining three teams would move on to the entrée round. Registered for the competition were teams Sip N Dip, Dirty McNasty, La Isla Cariñosa Academy and Team Hope. Providing some truly fun commentary was Belizean personality William Neal, who kept the crowd enthused all evening. Providing soothing sounds in the background was the Dynamix Steel Pan Ensemble.
BEL electricity rates increase
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) notified the general public that it has made and issued the ‘Belize Electricity Limited 2016 Full Tariff Review Proceeding Final Decision’ on Friday, June 24th. In the summary of the final decision, it approved regulated values, mean electricity rates, prices, fees and charges to be applied over the Full Tariff Period (FTP) starting from Friday, July 1st to Tuesday, June 30th 2020.
The new mean electricity rate of 36.99 cents per kilowatt-hour means an increase of 5.7%. Social rate customers will pay 1 cent more per kilowatt-hour, but service charges among larger consumers such as commercial and industrial customers will increase from $100 to $125. Street lighting bills that are paid by the Government of Belize will increase from 40 cents per kilowatt-hour to 42 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Dia de San Pedo celebrations closes with Kayak Race
Dia de San Pedro 2016 festivities culminated on Sunday, July 3rd with a kayak race that saw nine teams paddling around the island in hopes of winning the grand prize. Participants competed in the Male, Female and Junior categories, racing from Boca del Rio Park to around the southern part of the island.
Shortly after 10AM, kayakers went past the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge, headed to the leeward side of the island. They made their way through thick mangrove wetlands and circled round the southern portion of the island after navigating through a small channel that connects the lagoon and the Caribbean Sea. In a fast sprint, Team Paddle Shop comprised of Chris Guydis and Amado Cruz, crossed the finish line first, taking the top prize in the male category with a total time of 2:47:09. They received a cash prize of $500 along with their medals. In second place was Team Double Impact comprised of Wilberto Daniels and Kenrick Daniels who finished with a time of 2:51:45. They took home a cash prize of $400 and medals. In third place was Team Moringa A with solo member Earnie Martin who finished the race with a time of 2:53:25 and winning a cash prize of $300.
SIB releases quarterly report
It was report card day for Belize’s economy on Wednesday, June 29th, when the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) released the first quarter report of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2016. According to the report from the SIB, the rate of unemployment went down compared to the same period in 2015. However, it was not enough, as the country’s economy shrank by 2% in the first quarter of the year.
The report also included information on the external trade statistics, as well as the Consumer Price Index, particularly for the month of May. According to the report, the inflation rate for the period this year is 1% higher. Overall, prices in the basic food market are also 1% higher compared to last year.
SPJC celebrates largest graduating class yet
The San Pedro Junior College (SPJC) held its 15th Commencement Exercise on Saturday, July 2nd at the Angel Nuñez Auditorium. Since its establishment in 2000, classes have grown significantly. This year, SPJC was proud to announce its largest graduating class yet. At 5PM, 50 proud students dressed in their cap and gowns marched to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance. This year’s theme was, “Nothing is really over until you stop trying,” and the Master of Ceremonies was Alex Nuñez. Gustavo Ellis, Dean of SPJC, gave the Dean’s Report, and Neima Gomez and Froylan Gilharry distributed the awards to students who had a GPA of 3.0 to 3.49. Jose Paz, Chairperson of the SPJC Board, gave the Chairman’s Address. Holding a GPA of 3.8 was the valedictorian for the Class of 2016, Zoraida Meza. She proceeded to give her valedictory address, and spoke about how learning is endless.
Republic of China (Taiwan) Supports Macaw Conservation in Belize
Last year the Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture of the ROC (Taiwan) through its Embassy in Belize provided financial assistance for the conservation of scarlet macaws in Belize. This year, the Embassy has announced the further support of the program through a financial support of US$10,000.00.
Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao cyanoptera) are the largest of the parrots in Belize, with a national population thought to be fewer than 200 individuals. It was once thought to occur over much of the central forested areas of Belize, but is now considered to be restricted to the Chiquibul/Maya Mountains area, with a nesting range concentrated in the Chiquibul Forest.
The major threat to the survival of macaws in Belize has been determined to be poaching for the pet trade. To address this situation, FCD has been monitoring macaw nests annually for a period of 7 months.
Misc Belizean Sources
Weekly AgroMet Update and Outlook JULY 7 – FRIDAY JULY 15, 2016
An active tropical wave with strong outflow aloft will continue westward across northern Central America and southern Mexico tonight and on Friday, generating scattered showers and thunderstorms, especially over southern and western Belize. The seasonally, unsettled conditions will persist through the weekend and most of next week in association of a low level jet in the easterly flow over the western Caribbean and Central America and good outflow support in the upper atmosphere. A second tropical wave or perturbation in the easterlies is expected to cross Belize by Monday, generating more showery weather. Figure 1 below is the surface weather map for Thursday evening, showing the first tropical wave approaching Belize and Guatemala. A third tropical wave has entered the eastern Caribbean, and should reach Belize in the next five days.
CRFM and Japan discuss new initiative for fisheries co-management and socio-economic survey
Milton Haughton, the executive director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), met on Tuesday at the CRFM’s Secretariat in Belize City with Masaru Honda, team leader of the Japan-funded Caribbean Fisheries Co-management Project (CARIFICO) and chief advisor in the Fisheries Department in Saint Lucia.
“The CRFM welcomes Mr Honda to Belize to meet with us, and we thank the government of Japan for their continued commitment and support for the sustainable development of the fisheries sector of the Caribbean region,” Haughton said.
Honda, whose ties with the Caribbean go back 17 years, when he worked with a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funded regional fisheries project implemented by the Caribbean Fisheries Training and Development Institute (CFTDI) in Trinidad and Tobago, said that he has enjoyed working with the Caribbean to foster the development of co-management arrangements with fishing communities.
Xunantunich Special Tour
This Sunday is the day to head to Xunantunich. Now that the BAAS is done, some of the presenters, like Dr. Jaime Awe, will be leading tours around the site. If you haven't been in a while, Sunday is the day to go.
Three City Murders In Five Hours
Three young men lost their lives in just 5 deadly hours in Belize City yesterday. First it was the broad daylight murders of 20 year old Tevin Palmer and 19 year old Devin Parham. Both were killed in the span of 1 and a half daylight hours.
But the street carnage did not end there. It continued last night with the murder 22 year old Michael Lopez. We told you about the shooting in last night's news but did not know the extent of the injuries. Well, it turned out to be murder.
He was gunned down in front of his house on Jones Street in the St. Martin's Area- the second killing in that area in just over a week. And the gang element was at play again in this latest homicide. Even though Michael Lopez was no gangster - in the present climate, just living in a certain area can get you killed. Emanuel Pech has the report.
Tevin Was A Target
And while Michael Lopez was the third and last person to be killed in the five hour spree of violence in the city, the first was Tevin Palmer, who is linked with the George Street Gang.
Police believe that his killing was a retaliation for the killing of Ghost Town resident Geovanni Gentle last Friday.
20 year old Palmer was sitting on a couch in a cramped Castle Street bungalow, eating noodles, his guard completely down- when someone familiar with the home, pulled out a 9 mm pistol and fired at least five shots in his direction.
Today the inside of that house is completely gutted because someone set it on fire last night - likely an act of counter - retaliation.
Crime Scene Home Torched
So as we told you the house was burnt down and police are convinced it was arson. It happened some 20 minutes after midnight- about 9 hours after the fatal shooting of Tevin Palmer in the same address. For their own safety family had fled the building immediately after the shooting- so no one was injured in the fire. But just why would anyone want to burn down the house of a recent crime scene? Well that is what police are still trying to figure out.
Chester: Jobs Won't Solve Crime
So, what we saw yesterday was a series of lawless gang retaliations for recent murders. Commander Williams says that part of the reason for the flare up is because he hasn't been having his meditation sessions with gangsters for a few weeks and that accounts for the upsurge. You'll hear more about that shortly, but first to ACP Williams's grim take on the ruthless law of the streets - which dictates that there will be shootings and death no matter what police do, or what jobs are given:...
ACP Chester Williams - OC. Eastern Division South:
"We will never be able to stop all the shootings, no matter what we do. If we have a police at every street corner, it still won't stop all the murders and I have always said, it is the hard truth. The current generation that is out there giving trouble, they have sentence themselves to death. They are like purging themselves and I think that as a society we have done them an injustice, we have lost them. It's just a matter of time and one of the only way we could stop this is to see how we can begin to work on the other generation coming up, so that they do not fall the way how the current generation has gone.
But mediation is more urgent than anger management training. Normally those sessions would be activated after any shooting to squash retaliation. But, recently, Williams has put them on pause, and he says that's a key factor in this latest spurge of violence. Williams says he is reactivating imminently:..
ACP Chester Williams - O. C. Eastern Rural North: "But we are regrouping and will begin to do our mediations again very shortly. We must do a mediation because things on the streets right now are really tensed. We have some intense rivalries taking place right now on Southside Belize City, between the different factions of the gangs and if we do not meet with them, it will get worse."
Southside Needs Rides
But while mediation is one thing - having police on the ground is another - and, in a backhanded dig at northside police, Williams says he has to play checkers to keep up with the various gang flare-up's - and that shortage of resources may have cost a man's life last night:...
ACP Chester Williams - O. C. Eastern Rural North:
"We are seriously short of human resources and we have to be playing checkers. So with what took place yesterday, I had to withdraw some resources from the Martin's area, because we have now Banak, George Street, Southside Kraal Road fueling. So I have to find a way how we can maintain presence in those areas as well. So, the area where this shooting took place, we have two patrols there, but I had to withdraw one yesterday to be able to cover the Banak and Curassow areas. So it is a serious issue in terms of human resources."
Customs Officer Gets Off Gun Charge
He's a customs officer who told police he needs a sawed off shotgun for his work, but police said that Emerth Flowers had modified a firearm without approval of the commissioner of police. The 48 year old was remanded to prison for two weeks in July of 2014, when he was first charged. Well today his case went to trial before Magistrate Corlon Mendoza and it was thrown out.
That's after his attorney Anthony Sylvestre, submitted that section 33 of the Firearms Act under which Flowers was charged does not apply to him -because he is a customs officer. Section 33 says that the act does not apply to any person in the naval, military, air or Volunteer Forces or in the Police Department, or in the Prison or Revenue Services of Belize carrying or using any firearm or ammunition in the performance of his duties. Magistrate Mendoza concurred and dismissed the charge.
Police And Media Meet In the Middle
All this week, you've been hearing jawing in the press between this media house and the southside commander Chester Williams. Well, it was all building up to a police-media meeting which was held today. That's where both sides put it all out there The media complained about the inefficiency of the police press office - and the police complained about the media's sensationalism. Two hours later, after both sides had their say, a truce was agreed upon, and concrete undertakings were given by both sides. Williams was all smiles when it was done:..
ACP Chester Williams - OC. Eastern Division South:
"I must say that I am very gratefully for the attendance of the workshop today with the different media houses. I think that it's the way to go, that when we have issues we bring it to the table and we discuss it and we see how we could arrive at solutions to address those issues. When we have personality clashing and personality issues and we are out there making statements against each other, it does not help us."
Reef Score Card
For the past 4 years, we've shown you the Reef Report Card, which is known in the conservation community as the Meso-American Eco-Audit. It's a comprehensive assessment of all the different countries, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and what they are doing to protect the barrier reef system that spans the Atlantic coastline. Well, the local conservation community decided to grade the Belize Government on what they're doing to protect the 7 World Heritage Sites which make up a part of Belize's portion of the Barrier Reef.
For 3 years now, Belize has been put on an endangered list of countries which may lose these important environmental treasures because not enough is being done to protect them. So, they launched the Reef Score Card. They've chosen the categories, of oil, mangroves, costal development, environmental regulations, fisheries, and the World Heritage Status Value.
City Crime Oft Displaced To Rural
In our first segment, we told you about the trio of murders that happened in just 5 hours. First, 20 year old Tevin Palmer was shot 3 times in the head yesterday around 3 inside his Castle Street home - that is on the Northside. Then, an hour and a half later on Cemetery Road, 19 year old Devin Parham was gunned down. But the bloodshed did not end there, 3 hours later, Michael Lopez was also executed in the St. Martin's area… The intense gang warfare in the city is terrifying, but it is not only city police and residents who are concerned. Today, Assistant Commissioner of Police for Eastern Division Rural told us they have to be vigilant as well because it is those same gang players who move into the rural areas.
Cops, Kids, & Crime
But apart from being alert and making sure city crime does not pollute the rural area, Ladyville police also have to make sure their residents especially the youth, do not get caught up with crime. Today Broaster told us about an innovative business program that can help young people jump start their careers.
ACP Edward Broaster - OC. Eastern Division Rural:
"The Rural Eastern Division would like to launch its major summer program for 2016 which is a job creation fair. We are inviting young people to come with a novel idea for a business that is not common to the society, where they can present it to the Small Business Development Center, who will be vetting the applications and select 10 of the best presentations for us to have a job creation fair here at Ladyville in the Jonessa Jones Park. This will be done on the 17th of August. The deadline for the applications will be 22nd of July and the grand prize will be 5 thousand dollars. Now, we have partnered up with Restore Belize and Small Business Development Center, so that they can administrate the 5 thousand dollars and give training to those individuals who apply to win this 5 thousand dollars grant that Rural Eastern Division is putting up as 1st prize. We felt that we needed to organize something that would assist young people in a positive direction amidst all the mayhem that has been going on for the past month or thereabout and we feel like something of this nature will enlighten young people and try to get them to think positive and on the right track in terms of thinking business oriented and so forth."
BEL Blackout Blankets San Pedro
San Pedro town had an extensive blackout which went from last night all the way through to today. The island's power went at 9:17 pm due to a faulty substation breaker. Sounds simple enough, but technicians had to re-configure the substation to isolate the faulty equipment. Power was restored to customers during the course of today.
It's a major inconvenience for the country's major tourism hub, and BEL will be having a town meeting on Monday, July 11 to discuss power problems.
The CODICADER Central American Championships have finally started and a number of sporting disciplines were played all over the country today, from the Basketball competition in San Ignacio, Football in Belmopan to Table Tennis in Belize City. But how did the Belize teams do on their first day? Well this morning at the Belize High School Auditorium the Belize Table Tennis Association advanced to the next round - the Belize boys beat Honduras and the girls beat Nicaragua. The Technical Director for the Association evaluated his team's performance so far. We also spoke to the participants who led the team to victory.
Belize's Table Tennis Team will play double and single matches tomorrow.
Volleyball in OW
And the female volleyball team is also making Belize proud in Orange Walk. Today the team told our colleagues at CTV-3 how proud they are to have advanced and how confident they will continue to be throughout the competition.
CODICADER Gala Opening
And while the playing of the games is about the competition, the opening is a cultural showcase for Belize. That was held this afternoon at the Marion Jones Stadium in Belize City - and it was a proud moment for the minister of state with responsibility for sports, Elodio Aragon. It's the first time Belize is hosting the game and it wasn't easy - but today he told the media it was a most worthwhile undertaking:...
Hon. Elodio Aragon, Jr. - Ministry of Youth. Sports, Culture:
"It's exciting. I think at the end of the day when you see all the people came in from yesterday and to participate at the games for CODICADER. It's a good feeling to know that Belize is for the 1st time ever hosting CODICADER. I think that speaks well of Belize. I think it speaks well of sports and it makes me feel proud to know that we are doing this together. These are some of the events that we need to host. We need to be recognized. We need to be exposed to the rest of Central America as an active member Central America and I think that when we look at CODICADER this is just 1 opportunity that we get to showcase our athletes and to showcase to Central America that we are capable to host such events and I think that the kudos goes to all those who have assisted in one way or the other, because I'll tell you this is a big logistic work ...
Stopping Foreign Fishers And Gillnets In The Sarstoon
Earlier in the news, we showed you the Reef Score Card which the local conservationists launched to assess the Belize Government on how it is managing the World Heritage Sites. Well, at that same forum, it gave them the opportunity to offer their position on illegal fishing and the use of gillnets.
Now, recently, you've seen a lot of that illegal fishing from the Guatemalan fisherfolk who go into Belizean territorial Waters north of the Sarstoon.
Whenever we take trips to the River, we always encounter them fishing well inside Belizean waters, but at this time, nothing is being done to stop them.
But, those Guatemalan fishermen make use of gillnets, which are dangerous to other marine animals which they don't intend to catch.
A few weeks ago, we showed you a humpback whale which died in the sea in front of Barranco Village. It was trapped in gillnets for weeks before it finally couldn't fight anymore. Oceana Belize has been consulting the different groups in the south, and there appears to be a consensus, the Government should consider banning gillnet fishing in Belize.
B. Pope Gets 2 Year Ban For Steroid
He's one of Belize's elite cyclists and in March Byron Pope came forward and told us that he had tested positive for a banned substance. Well, today the Regional Anti-Doping Organisation has handed down its sanction against him. They have decided to sanction Pope with a two (2) year suspension effective February 29, 2016 to February 29, 2018.
The prohibited substances are more than one grouped under Anabolic Androgenic Steroid.