Click for our Daily Tropical Weather Report.

Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

DFC and Mama Vilma’s Family Home hosts Christmas joy to underprivileged children
The Development Finance Corporation (DFC), San Pedro branch, in collaboration with the Mama Vilma’s Family Home hosted a party on December 10th. The festivities were initially scheduled for fifty underprivileged children of San Pedro, but that number quickly escalated to over one hundred. The kids were invited to Bistro Mestizo Restaurant to celebrate and bring in the Christmas season in a more than merry fashion. The youngsters enjoyed treats including food, drink, gifts and even a visit from Santa Clause. All in attendance had a blast playing and even dancing the night away with upbeat music. Debby Gomez, Officer in Charge of DFC San Pedro sub-branch believes that this activity is one of DFC’s few efforts to bring holiday cheer to the less fortunate residents of San Pedro who may otherwise be deprived of holiday treats. It is the hope of DFC that in the coming years there will be more support from the community to make a grander affair of this event.

“All hands on deck” needed to clean up San Mateo says UNICEF and SPTCC
The unplanned subdivision of San Mateo just north of San Pedro Town is finally beginning to get the attention needed to address the many issues affecting the area. The residents of San Mateo, estimated to number 568, have had to endure living in very extreme conditions as a result of the lack of proper infrastructure such as electricity, water and up to recently, inadequate street access. But after being repeatedly catapulted into the media, both at home and abroad, the relevant local authorities are beginning to focus their attention on the deprived subdivision. For that reason the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) is partnering with the United Nation International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to launch a clean-up campaign that the organizations hope will have a long term trickle effect on the entire community. On December 17th and 18th, UNICEF and SPTC will begin their efforts in creating a better environment for San Mateo residents. According to Denise Robateau, Early Childhood Development and Education Officer at UNICEF, she is looking to address the children’s rights to clean water, proper sanitation and hygienic education. According to Robateau, people have been treating the area of San Mateo as a “dump”. With the presence of humans, especially kids and the fact that Holy Cross Anglican Primary School is in the area, it is a must that the needs for a healthy environment and for the proper stimulation be looked at. Robateau describes the situation of San Mateo as “unique” to the entire country and said the norm in which people treat the area as if it is a “dump”, highlighting that the women and children are living in close to deplorable conditions.

Misc Belizean Sources

VIDEO: Giant Cave Belize
Here is a video for all of those that wonder what it looks like directly under Caye Caulker. Mid December 2012 Chip Peterson of Belize Diving Services put together an expedition to re-introduce the cave diving world to Giant Cave. First explored by Paul Heinerth in the late 1970's and made famous in Sheck Exley's book Caverns Measureless To Man. The 4 day expedition succeeded in re-surveying approx. 3000 feet of old guidelines in the cave and cleaning up some old existing line traps.

Belize's First Lady Kim Simplis, at a cancer event releasing blue morpho butterflies
Yesterday, Pelican Beach Resort hosted a lunch for Hummingbird Elementary School, Standard 1 class ... the event was celebrating the fact that the class raised $3000 for the Cancer Clinic and children with cancer. The entire class, plus some of the children with cancer where in attendance along with Belize's First lady, Kim Simplis, a cancer warrior herself. At the end of the event, all participants where given an envelope and told to hold it gently. Then, in unison, they opened their envelopes and out flew incredibly beautiful blue morpho butterflies (supplied by Chaa Creek) ... I was lucky to get this single image which says so much about the strength, joy and hope of those afflicted by cancer.

Connecting Cayo Communities Conference
Mary Open Doors had the Connecting Cayo Communites through Education Conference at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel a few weeks ago. MOD will be closed for the holidays starting today, and will reopen on January 7th.

Rotary Spaghetti Day
The Rotary Club of San Ignacio is having their annual Spaghetti day today at the Saturday market. "Come and join our annual Spaghetti Day at the market in San Ignacio. You will get the most delicous spaghetti sauce you can imagine. We also will have a rummage sale and thanks to the donation from BTL, we can raffle a brand new cellphone (Nokia C2-01). It comes with a simcard and a 10 BZ credit."

Old School Belizean Breakfast
I wanted to honor the request of some of the viewers to make a video completely in Creole/Kriol. I decided to do Fry Jacks or Fry Cakes, but the 1/2 recipe because this meal is the reason why I started the show. Fry Jacks can be eaten with any meal, but primarily it is a breakfast dish. Normally we have eggs with Dutch Cheese, Avocado (pears) and re-fried beans for an old school Belizean breakfast.

Sweet Charity in Ambergris Caye, Belize
Charity begins at home so the adage goes. Well home for us now is Ambergris Caye,Belize and during the many visits Rose and I have made and particularly since we moved here permanently in May have found that this truly is the case. When someone is in need -locally born or expatriates alike – the community joins together to provide whatever help and support it can. Such was the case today when a Christmas Charity Concert was held to generate financial aid for the surviving children of Hector ‘Chapin’ Duran. Hector, or ‘Chapin’ as he was more commonly known, was only 39 years of age when he tragically died on 8 October when, in the area he was working at the Amigos del Mar dive shop , a gas tank that he was filling exploded and took his life.

The Belize Times

René Villanueva said to Francis Gegg, “Francis, what topic will be discussing tonight?” Francis answered, “well poverty in Belize is around fifty-five percent and they promised us to imagine the possibilities…” Before he could complete the sentence, Henry Gordon butts in, “What is poverty?” or was it “Do you know what causes poverty?” “Poverty”, said the Reverend Henry Gordon, “comes from disobedience to God. When man moves away from God that is when he becomes poor”. Francis replies, “So in China or Singapore, where they do not follow God, how is it they are prospering?” Reverend Gordon then goes into religion, theology and issues of the soul. He ranted of about God breathing the Breath of Life into something he fashioned from the dirt. René, who has for years operated the most successful media house by keeping away from controversy, did not join in the conversation on Gordon’s side. A trained priest, Father Leslie from the Roman Catholic Church agreed with the position of Francis Gegg. That the soul never dies. René on two occasions asked another one of the panelists how come he was so silent and was not joining in the discussion. This person is Steve Duncan, Manager of one of the local banks. He performed a minor miracle. He stayed silent throughout what was a talk show and a discussion panel. Perhaps, Mr. Duncan was reflecting on the phrase, “Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread”. Or that “Speech is silver and silence is golden.” He made no contribution.

The Music Mess
There are many things I need to say about the cultural and artistic affairs of Belize. I wish to start with music. In April 2010 Moses Michael Levi AKA Shyne was appointed Music Ambassador by the UDP government. Wilfred Elrington, the Minister of Foreign Affairs who appointed him said at the time, “What we want to have him become the director of the music program in NICH working in conjunction with NICH for the government of Belize so that he will put in train the formal music education in all our schools and learning institutions to give our children the chance to tap into that tremendous resource they have.” The appointment of Shyne as a music ambassador was a slap in the face to the credibility and emergence of a vibrant original music industry in Belize. Nothing against Shyne the artist, I am a big fan, but his grandiosity rubbed many people the wrong way, especially the struggling artists. I heard DJ Keegan recently making the salient point on air that each day that passes with an absentee ambassador is an insult to all artists not just musicians. In April 2011 at a University of Belize forum on culture Belize’s acclaimed music producer Ivan Duran stated that music in Belize is in a state of “coma.” The reason for this began with the blow to the head from Shyne’s appointment. Music is about credibility and authenticity. Shyne’s appointment was and remains a sick joke.

Exercise for Healthy Bones and Joints
As we get older, our bodies change. Bones can become weak and fragile, which is a bone –thinning disease called osteoporosis. Muscle size and strength decrease (a condition called muscle atrophy) mostly due to inactivity. Bone mass and density decrease, increasing the risk of breaking a bone (fracture). Ligaments and tendons lose their elasticity, making it easier to suffer overuse injuries such as rotator cuff tendonitis, tennis elbow or Achilles tendonitis. Joint inflammation and cartilage degeneration (arthritis) occurs. Exercise works on bones much like it works on muscles — by making them stronger. Because bone is a living tissue, it changes in response to the forces placed upon it through constant buildup and breakdown. Osteoclast cells absorb bone when there is no stimulus, as in a sedentary lifestyle and osteoblast cells build up bone when there is stimulus. Weight-bearing exercise increases the action of osteoblast cells and is the only exercise that increases bone mass. Exercise also improves balance and coordination, which is important in the elderly to prevent falls, the primary cause of broken hips, wrists and spine in the elderly. Below are types of exercise one can do for healthy bones and joints.

AMAZING GRACE: Jesus Walks in Belize
The word “walking/walketh” is mentioned 189 times in the Bible. The word “walk” is mentioned 315 times. That is a large number. There is a quotation that says “Walk long enough and we all trade places”. A mystic phrase that caused me deep spiritual reflection. Jesus himself was in fact a traveling evangelist who healed and touched the lives of many persons as he walked in and out of their lives and villages. He traded places with the blind and gave them sight. He traded places with the sick and gave them health. He challenged the cripple and they traded themselves from the places of restrictions to smiles of freedom and restoration. They were moved from the narrow and daunting corners that trapped them. Whether they were trapped in the small spaces of their physical deformity or their lifestyle habits or their overzealous religious shackles, Jesus walked those who believed on top of the water of life. His message was liberation and hope, the scripture reminds us to keep walking “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Phillipians 4:8.

Gang Truce Dead
After spending millions of dollars in an unsustainable and poorly-thought out programme, which paid taxpayers’ money to gang members so they stop shooting each other, the Government has announced that they have run out of money and have shut down the initiative. Last Wednesday, GOB officials gathered notorious gang members for an official meeting. In that meeting, the gang members were told that the program, known as a gang truce, in which they were paid a salary would be discontinued as of Friday, December 7, 2012. As consolation, the Government said they would continue paying for a month. No labour will be needed in return. The Government has yet to disclose how much tax dollars were paid to the gangs since the programme started in September 2011. And we want to know both the Government cheques and under the table deals. More startling is that the Government has still not come up with an alternative programme, one which is sustainable, comprehensive and long –term. The result of all this will only be more unemployed young Belizeans seeking to exact anger and fury on the innocent.

Home Economics – Cigarettes vs. Tomato Ketchu
Belice no longer manufactures cigarettes……yet it struggles in manufacturing tomato ketchup, BBQ sauces, pizza sauces, spaghetti sauces, Catsup Salsa Dulce and other tomato based sauces. There are two avenues of cigarette importation into Belice: [1] Caribbean Tobacco Company (CTC), a subsidiary of the Roe Group that imports their own brands of cigarettes INDEPENDENCE, COLONIAL, MILPORT, etc….which is now manufactured in Trinidad & Tobago. It also imports Benson & Hedges, the largest foreign cigarette brand, from T&T. Together, CTC controls 99% of the domestic market for cigarettes [2] several companies in the Corozal Free Zone import many brands of cigarettes duty-free from India, China, etc. and some “escape” into Belice, while others are shipped in containers to Mexico and Guatemala. When cigarettes were being manufactured in Belice…..the Government of Belice justified protecting the industry with very high customs tariff rates of 100%….in addition to Revenue Replacement Duty, General Sales Tax and Environmental Tax… that the imported brands were more than two times the price of the local brands. Of course, the local brands controlled 90% of the domestic market for cigarettes, as a result of this policy. Verena Foods, a Belice-based manufacturer of food products, started manufacturing tomato-based sauces in 2002, and has since garnered 5% marketshare in Belice….without any customs tariff protection, as afforded the cigarette manufacturers.

Manuel Heredia: the Modern Day Rafael Trujillo?
One of the most divisive leaders of the 20th century is undoubtedly Rafael Trujillo. The longtime dictator of the Dominican Republic ruled in an era called the ‘Trujillo Era’ which is often dubbed as the most bloody in the country’s history. Nonetheless, Trujillo’s years as the leader of the Dominican Republic promulgated the so called ‘personality cult’ and greed through power. The notorious Caribbean leader and Belize Rural South Hon. Manuel Heredia seem to have a lot in common? Both leaders demonstrate high marks for conceitedness through power. Less than a year after his party emerged victorious in a nail biter election, Hon. Manuel Heredia is again on the spotlight. This time around, the insidious San Pedro based politician gave the media a strong dose of his political lunacy. Top leaders inside the United Democratic Party are running around, hastily trying to frame a response to yet another blunder by Heredia. What is the answer? A bold- NO APOLOGIES! The controversial transfer of Police Officer Sharmane Young clearly demonstrates the wretched reality of using one’s position to quantify power. President Ronald Reagan stated it correctly when he said that “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The honorable minister was utterly wrong to use his position to please his own agenda. Whether, you call it corruption, or abuse of power, the truth of the matter is that he disrespected and undermined the job of our law enforcement officials.


Belize Bank donates bus to police department
The Belize Police Department, at least its Belize City Formation, has a new police bus. The bright yellow and green bus comes as a gift from the Belize Bank Limited. Marketing Manager of the Belize Bank, Misty Michael, says that the bank was concerned about the level of crime in the old capital and wanted to help out. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Elodio Aragon, Junior, told Love News that Eastern Division, where the bus will be stationed, was handicapped for about a week in transporting huge numbers of its officers. The bus was purchased at a cost of twenty thousand dollars.

Lotto winner claims jackpot
A Belize City woman is fifty thousand dollars richer tonight, but her luck did not come in the recent jackpot draws. In fact, 51 year old Karen Lanza was not even in the country in October when she realized that she had won. Lanza’s prize was 57 thousand 500 dollars and after taxes she collected 48 thousand 875 dollars. Meanwhile, the next jackpot for Saturday’s draw is 105 thousand dollars.

Salvation Army hosts children’s Christmas party
The Salvation Army church today hosted its annual Christmas lunch and party for children from around Belize City. Over a thousand primary school children from various institutions gathered at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall for the event. Major Joliker Leandre is the Regional Commander of the Salvation Army in Belize. Today’s Christmas party for the children is made possible with contribution from the general public, particularly the proceeds generated from the red kettle appeal which has been going on since last month. Major Leandre says that slowly but surely the church is meeting its commitments to those it serves, especially at this time of the year. Guests at today Christmas party for the children included Governor General Sir Colville Young and Belize City Mayor Darrel Bradley.

Senior Citizens attend Christmas part in PG
The HOPE Organization held its Christmas party yesterday for 200 senior citizens in Punta Gorda. Correspondent Paul Mahung has the details.

Government tractor caught hauling illegal Rosewood flitches
The issue of the illegal harvesting and extraction of rosewood from the forests of Toledo is back in the news again. In the last week, there have been at least two incidences of illegal rosewood extraction activities, the latest occurring on Wednesday afternoon. Inspector Ernel Dominguez is the officer commanding Toledo Police. The latest incident of logwood harvest and extraction indicates that the announced moratorium announced earlier this year by the ministry of forestry is being violated. According to Inspector Dominguez, the tractor bearing government of Belize Licence plates and the eighty pieces of rosewood remain in police custody at the Punta Gorda police station compound.

Custom-made swing set donated to Stella Maris school
The Stella Maris School and the Academy for the Deaf in Belize City today received a donation of valuable piece of recreational equipment. The custom-made swing set was donated by the Belize Bank which is a corporate sponsor of the institution that caters for children with special needs Misty Michael is the marketing manager for the Belize Bank. The customized swing set includes a ramp for children who are wheel-chair bound. According to the Acting Principal of Stella Maris School Dana Staine, the entire student body will benefit from the donation, including the twelve students who get by in a wheel chair. In addition to today’s donation, Stella Maris School has also been the benefactor of other assistance from other organizations during the course of the year.

International Sources

Mystery of the Mayan calendar
Video: Nick Parker reports from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on the origins of the Mayan calendar.

Belize: ACP's son charged with drug trafficking
The son of an assistant commissioner of police in Belize has been charged with drug trafficking. The Belize police report that 27-year-old Noel Richard Leal Jr was arrested on Thursday after his vehicle was intercepted by law enforcement officials and a quantity of marijuana found in two tyres. Leal made his first court appearance in the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court yesterday and is scheduled to return on January 29 next year. Assistant Superintendant of Police Dinsdale Thompson told reporters that law enforcement personnel found 12 plastic bags containing 43lb of marijuana in two tyres that were in the back of Leal’s vehicle.

McAfee says he won't return to Belize
U.S. Internet security pioneer John McAfee proclaimed his innocence and said he won't return to Belize to answer questions about the slaying of a neighbor. "I will not go back to Belize," he told CNBC's Squawk Box Friday. "I had nothing to do with the murder of Gregory Faull." Faull was found dead on an island off Belize's coast last month. McAfee said he would answer questions in a "neutral country." He also repeated his claim that dozens of Belize police attacked his property in April and that demands for bribes were what prompted him to flee Belize after Faull's death. McAfee fled when Belize authorities sought to question him in the death. He spent three weeks on the lam before emerging in Guatemala Dec. 3. As Guatemalan authorities debated deporting him to Belize or the United States, McAfee became ill and was taken to a hospital -- a condition he told ABC News he faked to give a judge more time to stay his deportation to Belize. Since he returned to the United States Wednesday, McAfee has conducted impromptu news conferences on the steps of his hotel in Miami. Whether McAfee remains free in the United States or is returned to Belize likely will depend on whether he becomes a "person sought for prosecution," as stated in the U.S.-Belize extradition treaty with the Central American nation, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. While he hasn't reached that status, Bill Hing, an immigration lawyer and law professor at the University of San Francisco, said, "This guy is definitely not out of the woods." No warrants had been issued for his arrest.