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Mercury in Fish from the Macal River
The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Department of Environment and the Belize Electric Company (BECOL), has concluded another mercury test on the fish taken from the Macal River in May 2012. The following Public Advisory is being issued to guide the general public on the amount of fish that can be eaten weekly from the Macal River to avoid ill effects due to mercury exposure. Fish samples collected from the Macal River produced 15 types of fish. After testing, 5 or 33% had elevated mercury level above 0.5 mg/kg the same as results of the last testing in December, 2012. Of those five fish, the species of interest include those with elevated mercury levels and those frequently eaten by communities in the area. These are the Petenia splendida or Bay snook, Ictalurus furcatus or Baca and Rhamdia laticauda better known as botasi or lup. In the case of Petenia splendia or Bay Snook, the new results indicate that there has been a significant decrease in the mercury level by 0.6 mg/kg or result being just 0.1 mg/kg above the tolerance level. The amount of Bay snook that can now be eaten weekly is 1.44 ounces for persons of 175 lbs. Note that the mercury level for the bay snook although it has decreased remains above the acceptable limits and as such the public is asked to observe the recommendation.

First Ever Eco-Pro Kayak Challenge kicks off
Lobsterfest 2012 has been rocking for nearly two weeks, since June 15th, when lobster season re-opened, and on Friday, June 22, 2012, another exciting event was added to the roster of activities: the Eco-Pro Kayak Challenge. Kicking off from Central Park, twelve two-man teams jumped on their kayaks and proceeded for an arduous day of kayaking around the island. Following the route from Central Park, and under the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge, through the mangroves and out to the western area of the island, where they will paddle through various cuts and lagoons, the professional paddlers started off with quick strokes and fierce determination. The San Pedro Sun followed the kayakers from take-off around 7AM, past the bridge and out on the water for the first few minutes of the race - yes, minutes! The paddlers are mostly professionals, and they are on a mission to collect a grand prize of $10,000BZ! They are expected to paddle around the entire island (see map for full route), ending at the Central Park where the final festivities for Lobsterfest will culminate with a grand Block Party. Be sure to head on out early to catch the kayakers as they head down en route to the southern tip of the island, and around the western side, back under the bridge and to the final stop: Central Park.

Marco Gonzalez Exhibition showcases at Fido's Courtyard
The Marco Gonzalez Maya Site Project is hosting a four-day exhibition upstairs of Fido's Courtyard. The exhibition started on Wednesday June 20th and runs until Saturday June 23rd. The four-day exhibition is featuring Maya artifacts such as potteries, jewelry, tools and obsidians most of which were excavated from the Marco Gonzalez Maya Site. The exhibition is open to the entire public free from 10AM to 6PM and it gives a detail history of the 2000 year old island's Maya site. Speaking to The San Pedro Sun, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Marco Gonzalez Maya Site Project Janet Brown explained that the exhibition is part of the events for the Belize 2012 Maya Calendar of events. "We are so excited that we are opening this exhibition for the public so that they can experience some of the wonders that we have at Marco Gonzalez Site. The artifacts depicts the lifestyle of how the Maya lived on this site," said Brown. One very interesting pieces of artifacts on display is a ring made of conch shell used as jewelry and found at Marco Gonzalez Maya site during excavation. According to renowned archeologist and Co-Director of the University of North Carolina/Wilmington Dr Scott Simons, the piece of jewelry is an unusual find. "Such piece of jewelry is fairly unusual to find on any other Maya site. It is fairly difficult to create and in my so many years as archeology I haven't come across such piece of ancient jewelry," explained Simons. That piece of jewelry and those tools made of conch shells is indicative, says Dr Simons, that the Maya who occupied Marco Gonzalez knew how to work the shell. "I have been to a museum recently in Merida (Mexico) where I also saw some jewelries similar to those found at Marco Gonzalez, made from shells, which could suggest that perhaps they traded some of these jewelry as well," detailed Dr. Simons.

BEL Reports on Nationwide Power Outage
Press Release - Belize Electricity Limited - June 22, 2012 - At 7:00 p.m. last night a critical fault on the Mexican electricity grid caused power supply to be lost to the Northern Zone of Belize, which includes the Corozal District, Orange Walk District and San Pedro Town. Since Belize Cogeneration Energy Limited (Belcogen) was offline [...]

Gunman kills 2nd brother in 2 weeks
There have been no murders in the City since Monday, but to start the weekend, a shooting on Mex Avenue after four o'clock this afternoon left one man dead. Thirty-six year old Edmond Panton, also known as Sinbad, was killed when a lone, masked gunman on a bicycle opened fire on him as he exited [...]

Nepalese catch and released; and more suspect visas
For months, we have been reporting on the unusual number of Chinese nationals that have been arriving in Belize with questionable visas. While a few come as genuine visitors, the vast number from Guang Zhou, China get to Belize using unusual routes to make their way up north. While the traffic slowed down somewhat after [...]

Woman with undeclared US $45,000 cash in carry-on luggage
A Belizean businesswoman living in the United States was busted at the Philip Goldson International Airport with a substantive amount U.S. dollars. Jane Rose Cheung, a resident of Mississippi, arrived on an eleven o'clock flight on Thursday. She was carrying over forty-five thousand U.S. dollars in cash which she had failed to declare as is [...]

Witness tells how Felix brothers killed his friend
The murder trial of brothers, Maurice and Emory Felix continued today before Justice Herbert Lord in the Supreme Court. They are charged for the fatal shooting of twenty-nine year old Mitchum Heredia, who was ambushed and killed inside his vehicle on April tenth, 2006. Romel Palacio Junior, Heredia's friend, testified as a witness to the [...]

Bert Haylock/Vasquez; his charges and all the girls
Another murder trial that the country is impatiently waiting on is that of Bert Vasquez also known as Bert Haylock. This past week, at least a thousand San Ignacio residents demanded action for the murder of thirteen year old Jasmine Lowe and demonstrated against the man they called a child predator. The emotionally charged situation [...]

Clusters of hand, foot and mouth disease in schools
Fever, sore throat, blisters on the mouth, hands, feet and buttocks; are the symptoms of a contagious disease that is spreading among children. It is known as the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and there has been an increase in cases detected recently, primarily among children in Belize City. The Ministry of Health is monitoring [...]

Mercury levels still high in Macal River fish
While the children have parents to look after their health, the same can't be said for the fish in the Macal. The Ministry of Health, the Department of the Environment and Belize Electric Company (BECOL) have completed another round of mercury testing on fish from the Macal River. Fifteen different types of fish were tested [...]

House burns; custodian was out all night buying food
An early morning fire destroyed portions of the upper flat of a concrete house in the city. Fire officials were called out to Barrack Road where they saw the top floor of an unoccupied house engulfed in flames. The owner of the house, Yi Quiang Guan, who is out of the country, is said to [...]

What caused the countrywide blackout?
The electricity company held its annual general meeting on Wednesday. Belize Electricity Limited is reporting two million in earnings but on Thursday night the entire country was plunged into blackout. In fact there were two outages; one affected the northern districts and the second put the entire country in darkness for hours. According to a [...]

Human Trafficking Report indicates Belize needs to do more
It is estimated that as many as twenty-seven million people around the world are victims of human trafficking. That is the driving force behind the US Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which looks at the scope of what is considered modern day slavery and the actions that governments worldwide are taking to [...]

Jaguar Paw; getting there is half the challenge
The Belize Caves Branch Cave is a must visit on a tourist's to do list. The Nohoch Che’en Reserve has attracted tourists from around the world for cave tubing and exploring; and it is there that tourists also go for zip lining. And while annually thousands travel to Caves Branch, in recent times the experience [...]

Graduation for at-risk youths
Several programs have been introduced in the Old Capital by the Ministry of Education to address the increased number of dropouts and offer opportunities to the youth. Some of those programs include the Gwen Lizarraga Evening School Program, the Excelsior High School Program among others. The Youth Apprenticeship Program and the Skills Training Center are [...]

Con-artist collecting money, but doesn't work for Lands Department
Charlatans and confidence men have always been in existence in the country. But one such con artist has become so prominent, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture was obligated to send a press release to clear its name from the habitual frauds executed in its name. According to the government press office release "the [...]

Birdman spots Jabiru Stork at SJC
The country's preeminent birdmen made a startling observation, startling at least for the birding community. While Rudy 'Rudybird' Burgos was registering his child at St. John's Junior College, the avid birder spotted a Jabiru Stork on the compound. The Jabiru Stork has not been seen in Belize City. It is a prominent bird that was [...]

Fete ushers in the Season of Carnival
September is still a few months away, but the first event of the upcoming carnival season takes place this weekend. To kick things off, the Instigate Carnival Fete is taking place this Sunday. The event is held early because it is an opportunity for carnival bands to raise start-up funds for the very expensive costumes [...]