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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, and other specials


The San Pedro Sun

BNTU and Ministry of Education clash regarding opening dates for new semester
A push-and-pull effect regarding the start of classes has students and parents/guardians across Belize puzzled. Due to the 11-day industrial action taken by the BNTU in October 2016, the Ministry of Education (MOE) had initially agreed to deduct four days from the Christmas break and two days from the Easter break to make up for the lost time. However, before schools closed for the 2016 Christmas holiday break, the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) issued a press release that ordered students to take their full Christmas vacation and return to the classroom on Monday, January 9th. In response, the MOE issued out a press release reminding students to disregard the BNTU’s press release, and that classes for the new semester will resume on Tuesday, January 3rd. Parents/guardians had to play the waiting game, and see what the outcome would be on Tuesday morning. Some students dressed in their uniforms and arrived at school. The majority of schools across the country canceled classes, due to poor attendance. All primary government schools were closed on January 3rd, while San Pedro High School (SPHS) classes were in session. However, on January 4, 2017, all schools were closed, including SPHS, and students were told to return on Monday, January 9th.

The Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage writes to CEO Hyde
Dear CEO Hyde: On December 28th 2016 the Government of Belize issued a press release entitled PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON THE MARINE MULTIBEAM AND SEA SEEP SURVEY. That press release states that the Ministry of Economic Development and Petroleum “invites the general public to a public consultation on the Marine Multibeam and Sea Seep Survey that the Government of Belize intends to complete in the deep offshore territorial waters of Belize” and that “the public will have an opportunity to clarify any concerns and to share their views on the survey”. The Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage is therefore requesting additional details regarding the intended structure and purpose of these public “consultations”: • How will input from the public be handled? • To whom should written submissions be forwarded? • Will the public’s input play a role in whether or not the government decides to proceed with the multibeam and sea seep survey? If so, what is that role?

GOB: ‘Guatemala fishing regulation violates International Law’
The reports that Guatemalan authorities have released a document suggesting that its inhabitants are allowed to fish unimpeded in Belizean waters all the way up to Punta Gorda Town in Southern Belize, has once again caused outrage among Belizeans. Investigations have revealed that the Guatemalan regulation dates back to 2002, and according to current government officials, they were unaware of such regulations by the neighbouring country. The Government of Belize (GOB) has since categorically rejected this fishing legislation imposed by Guatemala. In an official statement issued last week, the GOB stated that Belize’s maritime spaces are established by the Maritime Areas Act of Belize, which is in accordance with international law. GOB has described the move by Guatemala as a flagrant violation of International Law and Belize’s maritime sovereignty. The response also included that there can be no validity to, of international and Belizean recognition of, any law or regulation in Guatemala that purports to infringe on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belize.

Ambergris Today

How To Vote For Ambergris Today’s Person Of The Year
Every year Ambergris Today asks you to nominate an exceptional person who is doing positive things for the island community. Someone who is helping others, giving of his/her free time, making a positive change for the betterment of others or promoting a good cause. Our team goes through the nominations and there is usually a clear winner in the bunch. We have decided that 2017 will be the year we involve you more in the production of YOUR news with a positive attitude. Why not start with the biggest decision of the year? We’ve taken the four most nominated candidates and we want YOU to choose the winner! How you ask? In a Live Stream Poll. That’s right, you get to choose LIVE and see the results of the poll as the votes accumulate!

Belize Red Cross San Pedro Shares Positive New Year Message
Since the branch has started doing blood drives in 2013, the San Pedro Red Cross has collected 267 pints of blood for our Ambergris Caye Reserve and helped 19 people with 46 pints of blood. Recipients were country wide from Ambergris Caye, Belize City, Caye Caulker, Dangriga and Orange Walk. Please keep in mind that pints of blood have a shelf life, so our quarterly Blood Drives are always important to make sure we have the capacity to help when needed.

Celebrity Spotting: Hollywood Stars Bring in New Year in Belize
Not one but two celebrities were spotted at the Tipsy Tuna in Placencia for the New Year’s countdown. James Franco, or better known as Harry Osborn, Green Goblins son in the movie Spiderman, mingled with the crowd at the tourist hotspot of the peninsula. He was nice enough to take picture with his fans. James is also known for his roles in the movies Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Spring Breakers, Oz the Great and Powerful, King Cobra and many more. The second celeb ringing in the New Year at the Tipsy Tuna was Drew Carey (pictured above). He is an American actor, comedian, sports executive and game show host. He is best known for his own sitcom “The Drew Carey Show” or the famous game show host of “The Price is Right.” A third celebrity spotting took place in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Alan Tudyk was caught on New Years Day as he made his way to dive one of Belize’s greatest assets, the great Blue Hole. John Romero of Amigos del Mar shared his photo-op with Alan on his diving trip. Alan is an American actor and voice actor. He is best known as Steve the Pirate in the movie Dodgeball, also for his role in A Knight’s Tail. His voice is well recognized in various movies such as Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia and Moana.

Misc Belizean Sourcesmzz

San Pedro Red Cross recap for 2016 and a New Years wish
The San Pedro Branch of the Belize Red Cross (BRCSP) would like to wish everyone a healthy, safe and prosperous New Year. San Pedro Red Cross is committed to Saving Lives and Changing History Through Helping our Community. Our two primary ways of doing this are through Blood Drives and First Aid trainings. This year BRCSP held 5 blood drives and collected 64 pints of blood. Blood Drives were held at the Dr. Otto Rodriguez Poly Clinic, San Carlos Medical Center and Washington University. As a result the San Pedro Branch was able to help 9 people in need receive 19 pints of blood.

SBDC Workshop: INTRODUCTION TO ACCOUNTING AND BOOKKEEPING
Presented by: Mr. Jorge Gentle, Business Adviser, SBDCBelize, Beltraide. Location: Belize Training & Employment Center (BTEC) Training Room, ITVET Compound, Freetown Road. Workshop Date: January, 12th, 2017. Time: 9:00 am to 3pm. The workshop aims to provide tools and materials that will improve the use of attendee's numeracy skills in and prior book keeping information. Also, it will assist to improve their businesses by using simple business management techniques and how to develop financial statements. The ultimate goal is to allow for the business to keep financial records of their activities so they will be able to use that information to make better decisions / increase profit for the business. Cost: $60.00. Includes: Snacks, Lunch and Refreshments

Tyler Perry to speak in Belize
Join us in welcoming Tyler Perry to the line up of speakers for Leadercast 2017. Book your tickets for May 5th 2017, Belize Biltmore Plaza.

First Chiquibul Challenge Marathon race
Join the race and take the challenge for Chiquibul - support, volunteer and participate in the first Chiquibul Challenge Marathon race (20K/40K) on March 12th 2017. Registration form and payment options will be shared later this week. As we continue to work to develop this event, and seek sponsors we have a little race ahead of the race aside our own busy schedules. Which brings me to: on the 18th of February we are organizing a 5K/10K race in San Ignacio and the first prize in the 10K categories will be... free entries to the Chiquibul Challenge Marathon! So put on those shoes and get out there to enjoy a good run or walk and we hope to see you soon!

Attention ALL Liquor License Holders and New Applicants!
Please take note of the dates! Also, Trade License Holders, if you have not renewed your license, please visit the San Pedro Town Council office to do so, as you are now operating without a valid license as of December 31, 2016.

A BELIZEAN LEGEND: CALLING HARRY CADLE!
It's been some years now since Belizean Legends started the hunt to feature the legendary Belizean multi-talented athlete, Harry Cadle, who after his migration from Belize now lives in Los Angeles. He has become just one of those Belizean legends that we here at Belizean Legends will continue to hunt, and if successful soon next year 2017, will bring you the story of this incredible talented Belizean athlete from the 1970's Belize football and basketball greatness in living color and the spoken word. Until then...!

CONFISCATED ROSEWOOD
On Wednesday December 7th, 2016, the Forest Department confiscated a total of 31,000 board feet of rosewood in flitch and lumber form in the Benque Viejo area. The Department proceeded to charge Miguel Angel Estala on January 4th, 2017 at the San Ignacio Magistrate Court with "unlawful possession of forest produce" in accordance with Section 19 of the Forest Act CAP 213. Estala pleaded guilty and was charged the maximum fine of $1000.00, the rosewood material was forfeited to the Government of Belize. The Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development recognizes that perpetrators face a relatively minor penalty for forest crimes. Therefore, it has embarked on an exercise to revise penalties and fines for forest crimes, and will seek to introduce the necessary amendments to the Forest Act at the next sitting of the House of Representatives.

Marie Sharp's Cayo Culinary Center
Marie Sharp's is coming to Cayo! They are launching a Tourist Center downtown. They'll have culinary classes there to, so you can cook some wonderful - and spicy - Belizean food. They'll be located at 2 Victoria Street, in the Busman Arnold building.

Channel 7

47 Year Old Killed - Is It Because He Was A Gangster's Uncle?
47 year old Bert Abraham is the 6th murder victim since Saturday. He was gunned down in front of his Holy Emmanuel Street home last night around 7:30. We were the first on the scene and we had shown you a few pictures during our newscast. Tonight we have more details. I spoke to his older sister to try and find out why Abraham was targeted: There was never a dull moment when Bert Abraham was around, he would always be blasting music and putting on a show for whoever would watch him dance. But last night, there were no dancehall rhythms to jam to only the deep crackle of the police radio as it came alive And dreaded sobs and whispers among loved ones Abraham was shot several times in front of his house as he was stashing his weed after a sale.

19 Year Old Randolph Johnson Killed While Fishing
Yesterday we told you about 19 year old Randolph Johnson who was shot dead near Mile 2 ½ on the George Price Highway. It's an unusual murder because it happened in a relatively remote location. At around 2:00 pm, he was fishing with friends in a secluded area about a mile west of his neighborhood in Saint Martin's Deporres. That's when an armed man ran up and fired several shots at Johnson, hitting him in the chest, right leg and left palm. His friends rushed him to the hospital, but he was dead on arrival. We spoke to his family members today to get a better idea of what happened, and see how they're coping with the unexpected loss… Alex Courtney: "Could you just tell us what the family know about the incident that happened?" Voice of Aunt of the Deceased: "We no know nothing much, all we know he mi gone fishing yesterday and somebody call and say they shoot ah up." Alex Courtney: "And police has not given you any information about the investigation so far?" Voice of Aunt of the Deceased: "Not yet."

Cops Say Teenager Killed Dillon Grinage
So, these murder cases continue to stack up – waiting to be solved. Police are working with what information and evidence they have to lay charges and they have made progress in one case so far; that’s the Sandhill killing of Dillon Grinage. 19 year old Patrick Harris was charged with murder yesterday evening. He was arraigned today. Harris is accused of shooting Grinage on Saturday night. Grinage was hanging out at a food shop at the Maskall junction when Harris allegedly snuck up behind him and shot him dead. Reports are that both men had a disagreement earlier in the day. Harris was remanded to prison until March 1st . Police are also looking for another suspect in this case.

New Police Minister Grappling With Crime
2017 has not been off to a good start for Belize's murder statistics. It has been four days since the beginning of the year, and already five men have been gunned down. Add that to the one who was killed on New Year's Eve, and we have 6 men murdered in 72 hours – or about one every 12 hours. They are Dillon Grinage, on Saturday night, Colin Sutherland on New Year's Day, Robert Gillett on Monday, Kenneth Dobson, also on Monday, 19 year old Randolph Johnson killed yesterday afternoon, and Bert Abraham killed last night. Yesterday during a joint press conference, the Commanders of the Belize Eastern Divisions committed to immediately respond to this killing spree – ut then two more murders happened – in the same area. Today we spoke with the Minister of State with responsibility for Police, Elodio Aragon, who told us about his plans to put an end to the New Year's violent start…

Senate Probe Calls Former Director To Defend Herself
After a brief pause for the holidays, the Senate Hearings on the Immigration Department resumed today. The Senate Select Committee called Former Acting Director of Immigration Maria Marin to testify. Now, she was called to respond to the claims made by Auditor General Dorothy Bradley and her lead auditor, Carla Faber. In the last session, they outlined the mass irregularities at the Department between 2011 and 2013. In their testimony the auditors explained why they singled out Marin for allegedly trying to get in the way of their audit. Well, Marin got her long awaited chance to defend herself today. Here's how it went: Hon. Aldo Salazar - Chairman, Senate Select Committee: "The director Mrs. Marin has consistently found ways to evade requests made for the accessing of records." Maria Marin - Former Director of Immigration: "The following have been requested and not received. An internal report, that internal report I believe she was referring to the restructuring report that was a paper that was to be submitted to cabinet. I did not have a copy of that and from the very inception when they requested on I think it was the 15th of October 2013, they requested a copy of that internal report."

Former Director Marin Comments On UDP's Pursuing Immigration Docs
When the Hearings resumed after lunch, it was time for Marin to take questions on the substance of the Auditor General's report. A major reveal in the report are that UDP Politicians, both elected and unelected, intervened at the Immigration Department to get immigration documents approved for persons they recommended. A number of those persons, according to the Audit, did not qualify for visas, nationality, or passports. Yet, they got those documents any way, and in some instance, it happened with lightning speed, some in the matter of days. Well today, under oath, Marin confirmed what some of the findings suggest, that Ministers were indeed attempting to exert influence on officers at the Immigration Department to get documents for specific applicants. Here's that back and forth between the Committee and Maria Marin:

Who Will Be NGO Senator?
And the Senate will soon be joined by a 13th. Senator. Yesterday, the NGO community nominated 7 persons to be senators; 6 have accepted the nomination. They are: Pablo Collado – he's a popular flutist, but he is nominated by his organization called, "Adopt a Child With A Disability" Janelle Chanona, the OCEANA Vice President has accepted the nomination. Edilberto Romero, from another conservation NGO called Bacongo has also accepted the nomination. Osmany Salas, who is the president of BTIA has also accepted. Donovan Reneau, a popular radio DJ and visually impaired advocate, has been nominated by the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired.

Big MS-13 Jail Break in Salvador Causes Concern In Belize
Belmopan police are asking the public to be on the lookout for 10 Salvadorian fugitive gang members who escaped a maximum security jail in their country. Newspapers in Honduras and Guatemala report that the men used a hacksaw to cut themselves out of a jail cell at the San Francisco Gotera penitentiary on Sunday. 50 men were housed in the cell, but only 10 managed to escape from the prison, which is known to house gang members. These escapees are reportedly linked to the MS-13 Gang, or Maras Salvatruchas. Now, Honduras and Guatemala share borders with Salvador so they are on "maximum alert", but Belmopan police say Belize should also be on its guard. And that's because there are large Salvadorian communities residing in Belize, especially in the greater Belmopan area. Belmopan police say, quote, "there's a likelihood they could come to Belize." End quote. The capital cops are asking anyone seeing any of these men to call police. They are considered dangerous.

Japanese Wife Accused of Pulling Gun on Belizean Husband
A Japanese woman is in jail tonight after her Belizean husband says she threatened him with his own gun. Elvis Solis says that on December 18, and again on December 21, 2016 Asako Solis threatened him with his licensed nine millimetre pistol in his bedroom. He claims she additionally told him, to give her the money or she would kill him – referring to money in a safe. That's two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and threatening words. Now, the firearm offence carries an immediate remand, even though she told the judge today "Nothing like that happen. Not guilty" Still, the 37 year old was remanded and her case was adjourned for March 8, 2017. Her Attorney Alifah Elrington has already started the bail application for Solis and those documents are expected to make it to the Supreme Court by Friday.

Fined One Grand For Thousands Of Board Feet Of Rosewood
Last month we told you about the rosewood confiscated in Benque Viejo Town. Today, the Forestry Department confirmed that the 31,000 board feet in flitch and lumber form was the property of Miguel Angel Estala. He appeared in the San Ignacio Magistrate Court yesterday charged with "unlawful possession of forest produce". Estala pleaded guilty and was assessed with the maximum fine of the quite paltry one-thousand dollars. The rosewood was forfeited to the Government of Belize. The Ministry of Forestry acknowledges that the fine is minor and is working on revising penalties and fines for forest crimes. In related news, the Forest Department also conducted an operation in the Gomez Estate, a large, privately owned forest in the Toledo District, where they found 1000 board feet of rosewood along with 2500 board feet of Santa Maria lumber.

Belize Ice Cream Exported to Grenada
Western Dairies Ice Cream has been a fixture in Belizean refrigerators for years, and now the people of Grenada will be able to stock their shelves with it as well. The first shipment of the Belizean ice cream went out today. Over 24 flavours are being exported in sizes ranging from 3000 cups to over 50 one-gallon containers. Western Dairies General Manager, Armando Estrada told that Grenada is just the first step, and that they plan to expand exports to the rest of the Caribbean.

The Man Called "ET" Back in Jail
Basil Willis is no stranger to the Magistrate's Court. He has a rap sheet of over 90 offenses, many of which he has been convicted for. Well, today, less than two weeks since he got bail for a burglary at the Grace Primary School Kitchen, Willis was back in the dock. Yesterday, mechanic Egbert Vernon reported to CIB personnel that his car was broken into and over $1000 worth of tools were stolen. Police were quick to respond and found Willis, tools in hand, just thirty feet away from where Vernon's car was parked. In court today Willis pled guilty to handling stolen goods and damage to property. Magistrate Carlon Mendoza refrained from imposing a non-custodial fine due to Willis's storied criminal history. Instead, Magistrate Mendoza sentenced him to a year in prison for each offence, with the sentences to run consecutively.

Homicides Leading Cause of Death In Central Region
The Central Health Region which covers the Belize District reports that in the public health system there were only 38 cases of Dengue reported in 2016, compared to 66 in 2015. But there were two cases of Dengue Hemorrhagic, compared to none the year before. There were 29 cases of Zika reported with no cases of malaria or Chik-V. We stress this is only in the Belize District public healthcare system. And, not surprisingly, the leading cause of death in this area in 2016, was homicide, with cardiovascular causes second, and cancer, third. Also, the total cases of infant mortality in 2016 were down from 34 in 2015, to 23 in 2016.

A Commendation For Cops
Today, 25 officers in the Eastern Rural Division were honored for their professionalism and dedication to their job. Each officer was presented with a plaque and a monetary bonus as thanks for a job well done. The recipients were chosen by a panel comprising commanding officers in the division. The Commander of the Eastern Rural Division, Edward Broaster, told us more about the ceremony and the selection process…

Back On The Meet and Greet Grind
As we told you earlier, Southside police weren’t giving any interviews on the two murders which happened just a few hours apart yesterday. That’s uncharacteristic, but the insist they only wanted to talk about positive news today – and that meant the usual Wednesday meet and greet session. 48 officers flooded into precinct two – and went directly to the St. Martin’s area where rival gangs caused yesterday’s two murders. We asked Dawson what the community reaction was like: Commander Williams was working in the area, but on an investigation.