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Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

San Pedro Lions host Annual Senior Citizens Christmas Party
With much Christmas cheer, The San Pedro Lions Club alongside the San Pedro Branch of The Belize Bank hosted the senior citizens of San Pedro to an annual Christmas Party. The gathering took place at the Lions’ Den on December 19th. The attendance was great, one of the largest Senior Citizen Parties of recent memory – but it was the happy faces of those present that made the night spectacular. The senior revelers enjoyed drinks and a three course meal, which included a most delicious turkey dinner with a dessert of flan. As expected, the annual event brought out the seniors of the community dressed in their season’s best, ready to party into the night. In speaking to the President of the San Pedro Lions Club Mel Spain, she explained that this is only one of the many ways the Lions Club gives back to the community. She also asks for the continued support of the public in attending the regular Friday Bingo Night which helps raise needed funds that the club use to finance their events such as the Senior Citizen Dinner and the annual Children’s Christmas Party. While the San Pedro Lions Club provided the food, drinks and entertainment, The Belize Bank staff members gave their time and also donated gift bags for the guests. San Pedro Branch Manager of the Belize Bank Maria Cervantes, said that the event livens up the spirits of the elderly and that it is something the seniors enjoy and are grateful for. Cervantes added that the Belize Bank Limited is glad to continue its annual partnership with the San Pedro Lions Club to bring seasonal joy to the community seniors. Cervantes also took the opportunity to highlight that in January the San Pedro Branch of the Belize Bank will be tackling a project geared at renovating the sidewalk near the San Pedro Roman Catholic School as a community project.

Mayors from across Belize convene in San Pedro
Present at the meeting were Mayor Anthony Fuentes of Punta Gorda Town, Mayor Gilbert Swaso of Dangriga, Mayor Simon Lopez of Belmopan City, Mayor John August Jr. of San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town, Mayor Miguel “Mike” Velasquez of Benque Viejo del Carmen, Mayor Kevin Bernard of Orange Walk Town, Mayor Hilberto Campos of Corozal Town and Mayor Daniel Guerrero of San Pedro Town. Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley was absent but was represented by Deputy Mayor Deon Leslie. At the end of the meeting, each Mayor was presented with a small souvenir by the Mayor of San Pedro as a token of their visit to the island. The next meeting dated for the third week in January 2013 will be held in Benque Viejo Del Carmen Town. It was the first Mayor’s meeting hosted in San Pedro Town under the auspices of Mayor Guerrero.

Fine Island Dining at Black Orchid Restaurant
With an invitation to sample one of the island’s newest restaurants, three ladies piled into the purple love bug (aka golf cart) and headed out for an evening of delicious cuisine. We had no idea what to expect, other than the promise of a fine dining experience – tablecloth dining at that – the perfect outing for us girls on a Friday night! Judyann and Tom Horton took their time working on Black Orchid’s concept, perfecting the building, its offerings and a menu that will not overwhelm one with choices, but rather, guarantees that any dish ordered will satisfy. With a thatched roof, eclectic décor (there’s a faux ruin against one wall, plus a variety of ethnic masks and wood carvings), and even privacy nooks, Black Orchid has much to offer the discerning consumer. But, as most of our evenings start, we kicked things off with cocktails. Bartender Kenny brings out three signature cocktails for us to sample and decide on. The Black Orchid, named for its visual presentation: a mix of liquors/liqueurs that create an ‘orchid’ floating in the cocktail. It is not too sweet, but at once creamy and refreshing. The Fire Coral is a pretty blend of strawberry daiquiri and piña colada: fresh macerated strawberries are reduced to a syrupy consistency, and it blends in beautifully with the coconut/pineapple blend. Janelle, our newest reporter declared it her instant favorite. “It’s like sipping strawberry jam!” Indeed, each sip brought with it a hit of the fresh strawberries to mix with the creamy colada – super delicious, almost dessert-like. Yummy!

Misc Belizean Sources

Lucky 5 Poker Run Pictures
Pictures from Lucky 5's Poker Run. The day started out overcast, but ended up being the perfect day for the poker run. 6 different stops: Lucky 5, Snooty Fox, Remo's Roadhouse, Midas, Camp 6, Bamboo Bar, and then back to Lucky 5 to see who won the $450. There was even a stop at the new Soul Project to see some live music. Congratulations to the winner(s).

Jasmine Alert Candlelight Vigils
The Jasmine Alert Executive Body is organizing a Candlelight Vigil for this evening, Saturday December 22nd, from 6pm to 7pm, at designated parks all around Belize, including Belmopan and San Ignacio in Cayo. "Jasmine Alert Executive Body hereby invites all Belizeans Nationwide, to a Candlelight Vigil for the VICTIMS of the Massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut USA. We must share the pain and send our condolences to those that suffered such great loss and tragedy; seeing that we are all members of the same family and the same race (the human family and the human race). We also request that all Belizeans who have lost a child to Gun Violence, and all those whose child has been either violated, maimed or killed by a kidnapping/abduction or Enticement, to join this Vigil, bearing the Name of the Child, Friend or Family member that has been hurt or killed."

Rotaract Toy Drive at Meluchi's
Today at Meluchi's, the Rotaract Club of San Ignacio will be having their 1st annual toy drive. It starts at 2pm. All donations are welcome. "Be Generous this Christmas Season and afford a child a Christmas Gift in the form of a Toy! The toy is tangible - the feeling of getting one isn't! :)" Best of Cayo's insight:

Ancient Maya Wisdom Key to Modern Health
Rather than misinterpreting Maya beliefs to falsely predict the end of the world, researching and practicing ancient Maya medicine and natural healing techniques can open a new world of health today, noted author and Maya medicinal plant expert Dr. Rosita Arvigo advised participants at Chaa Creek’s 2012 Maya Winter Solstice celebrations. Chaa Creek events coordinator Denise Duran said that Dr Arvigo’s presentation, “Tales of a Maya Shaman” was one of the highlights of the Belizean eco resort’s week-long Maya cultural exposition surrounding the 2012 Maya Winter Solstice celebrations of December 21, 2012. “I think many of the people in the audience were surprised to learn how effective ancient Maya healing practices were, and how relevant they still are today. Dr. Arvigo’s presentation covered a wide range of topics and really inspired people to learn more about Maya healing and how to apply it to their own lives today,” Ms. Duran said. In 1983 Dr. Arvigo began a 12-year apprenticeship with Don Elijio Panti, a renowned Belizean healer who had been using ancient Maya techniques that combine plants, prayers, massage, acupuncture, and herbal baths since 1931 to treat thousands of patients in the Central American region. He was recognised by the New York Botanical Garden for his “Distinguished Contribution to Science”, and made a Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. He died in 1996 at the age of 103. Dr. Arvigo chronicled her time with him in two of her books, “Sastun: My Apprenticeship With A Maya Healer” and “Rainforest Remedies: One Hundred Healing Herbs of Belize” and has gone on to refine his techniques for a modern audience, especially women, for whom Don Elijio’s treatments were regarded as particularly effective.

Channel 7

Superbond 2.0: Settled! GOB Says Savings Exceed 150M USD
Can you say Superbond 2.0? After months of negotiation, the basic terms for a renegotiated Superbond were finally worked out today - and the Prime Minister held a press conference this evening at the Biltmore to announce what he described as Christmas gift for Belize. Here's the announcement - given two hours ago:.. Prime Minister Dean Barrow "Belize has reached agreement in principle with its bond holders over the re-structuring if the super bond. This agreement is comprehensive, it is sustainable and it will provide well in excess of 150 million dollars in relief to Belize. this deed is an in principle one and the reason for characterizing it in that fashion is simply because a term sheet must now be prepared` reflecting what Mr. Mediratta and I and what in fact Belize and the bond holder creditor committee have agreed. Until that term sheet is prepared and the lawyers are going to begin work on that almost immediately - of course I imagine the Christmas holidays will intervene but until that term sheet is prepared and signed off on - I am not at liberty to tell you all the details of what we have agreed." Those 150 million dollars in savings is 150 million US dollars. Our information suggests that is a very conservative estimate as the total savings - in cash flow terms - could be significantly more than that. The Prime Minister also confirmed that the new deal will include what is known as a principal haircut, like a discount - but he flatly refused to say how much at this point. Some suggest it could be in the range of 20% or more. But that will be worked in the term sheet which should be finalized by the middle of next month. Today was just a sort of pre-Christmas treat. The Prime Minister explained that the breakthrough in negotiations came after the Speaker of the House Mike Peyrefitte put him directly in touch with the Co-Chair of the Creditors Committee, AJ Mediratta. The PM says he was hesitant at first - but ultimately took the bull by the horns:

Vehicle Riddled With Bullets In City
And while Superbond is the headline tonight - thankfully there's no murder to report. But there was one violent event. According to reports, this morning at 3:00 am, a rented GEO Tracker was riddled with bullets on the Western Highway at its junction with Partridge street. The vehicle was shot as many as 16 times - but no one was seriously hurt. Reports are that the occupants were 31 year old Alex and 33 year old Deron Gillet 31 of Pelican St. Police would not provide additional details or let us photograph the vehicle which is at the Queen Street station.

New Citizens Sworn: No Guatemalans Taken
Last week, 7News told you about the hold at the Immigration Department on new citizen applications from Guatemalan Nationals. Well today, there was a new crop of Belizeans sworn in, and as expected it didn't include a single Guatemalan Applicant. Immigration Minister, Godwin Hulse told us he was not satisfied with the renunciation process for Guatemalans. That country's constitution requires that a citizen who renounces must do so formally with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and turn in their Guatemalan passport. In the past, it would be done which just a renunciation form filled out in Belize - and now that is being regarded as inadequate. So today, 107 new citizens were sworn in as Belizeans, but there were no Guatemalans. 7News went to Belmopan to witness the ceremony, and here's what the Minister told those new citizens: Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration "Today by the Mayan calendar should have been the end of a world. I a not sure was the end of the world and we chose the 21st with that in mind because was no accident that your world as you knew it as citizens of another nation ended yesterday and your new world begins today. Today marks a new beginning in all our your lives for today you will marry into a new society; the Belizean society and may I say that the last time I presided over the swearing in of new citizens I said to my officers let us say to the next group of citizens to be sworn in; please come ready to be married to this nation."

Easy Glen Will Be Charged
Even with all the awful murders and today's Superbond breakthrough, the hottest name in the news this week was Easy Glen, Goldbourne Adolphus. He was detained in Orange Walk on Wednesday - and police tell us that he remains in detention tonight. Two persons whom he allegedly hustled on the phone by pretending to be Minister Michael Finnegan, have made criminal complaints against him. He is expected to be charged for obtaining property by deception and theft. He was not arraigned today - but we expect that he will be taken to court on Monday.

55 Year Old Gets 33 Years!!
Last week, 7News told you about 55 year-old Winston Dennison, who was found guilty on last week Monday of 3 counts of carnal knowledge. Well, he will spend a total of 33 years in prison for it. As we reported, he was convicted of 3 counts of carnal knowledge, after a 15 year-old minor testified that on 3 occasions in 2010, he had sexual relations with her. Today was set aside for Dennison to prepare a mitigation on his behalf, but when the court gave him his opportunity, he couldn't produce any character witnesses. Instead, he protested that he was innocent. Justice Gonzalez responded that a jury of 9 of his peers convicted him in a full trial, so the court will respect that verdict. Justice Gonzalez informed him that he can appeal his conviction, but there is one big aggravating factor against him. According to Justice Gonzalez, Dennison showed no remorse for his actions.

Citco and Business Bureau Partner Up
For the past few weeks, since trade license assessments went out, the City Council has been taking flak from the business community because for many fees have gone up sharply - anywhere from 30% to over 500%. Most of the grumbling has been coming from the Chamber of Commerce, but the other, smaller business membership group, The Belize Business Bureau has been working with the Council. Today they signed a memorandum of understanding - which promises to do many things - including review the trade license regime:.. Darrell Bradley, Mayor Belize City "To grow business in my City I need to talk to people who have done this for their entire life." Jules Vasquez reporting And for that the Council has turned to the Belize Business Bureau - with whom they signed a Memorandum of understanding this morning: Darrell Bradley, Mayor Belize City "We hope that with this memorandum and with the formulization of our relationship the Belize Business Bureau and the City Council can work together to develop a very specific strategic plan and an action plan to promote the economic opportunities within Belize City."

Businesses In Street Construction Area: "While Di Grass Di Grow"
And "unfair" is just what businesses along the northern highway are saying about the timing of the road works being done on the Northern Highway. As we reported, as part of the paving of Freetown Road - the City Council is including the first one hundred yards of the northern highway. That's ok for traffic which can be diverted to Coney Drive, for the businesses along that stretch, the diversion takes them out of the action. And while they're grateful for the paving, it's like that old saying, "while di grass di grow, di horse di starve" And for these businesses - Christmas is the worse time to starve. Nolberto Rancharan, CP Gas Rep. "We cannot understand why the Mayor would take such drastic measures in causing the traffic to be congested at the time of the season. Its affected the business so bad that the sales have drop over 75% and we have put ads in the papers and advising our customers, we have even open the entrance on Captain Eiley Drive so that they can have easier access to the gas station. We are just hoping that things would get better." Monica Bodden "You think that construction work could have been done after the holiday season?" Nolberto Rancharan, CP Gas Rep. "Oh definitely, like he said its only 100 yards. If they wanted to fix the street they could have work in the night - think about your people and all the congestion you are blocking. We only have one exit and that is Coney Drive. It's really affecting the business definitely."

2012 Was Year Of Co-Ops; Locally It Means Better Mgmt
You might have missed the memo - (we know we did!) - but 2012 was the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives. And while we may take co-ops for granted, the UN believes that they contribute meaningfully to poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. The Department of Co-operatives held an end of year open day today and the Registrar emphasized all those things, plus sound management: Gareth Murillo, registrar of cooperatives "2012 was designated by the United Nations as the international year of cooperatives. The purpose was to highlight the role that cooperatives can play as it pertains to poverty alleviation and to employment generation." "We are looking at this event today as a renaissance of cooperatives in Belize. If you look at the situation right now, for an individual it is particularly difficult to access capital to start a business and so we are promoting the cooperative model where as a group then you may be able to more readily and more easily access that capital that you need." Geovanni Brackett, reporter "What happens when the cooperatives executives are living lavish but the members itself are rather not feeling the eating the fruits of it?" Gareth Murillo, registrar of cooperatives "That is indeed a concern for us. We want to look at the cooperative laws so that we can ensure that there is not that level of mismanagement. We want to ensure that that cannot occur again. We want to look at building the capacity of the people who are in the cooperatives so that they are better able to handle their affairs and not to get driven down by high debt." Belize's first fishing co-ops were founded in the 1960's - with the first move being made by fishermen of Caye Caulker.

Another Shooting "During The News"
There was a shooting in the city at five minutes to seven. It happened on Mex Avenue near the approach to the bridge. Reports are that a lone gunman approached the victim and shot him in the eye. He survived and was rushed immediately to the KHMH where he is in a critical condition at this time. 7news encountered his father at the scene - and he later rushed to the hospital. Because his family has been notified and is with him at the hospital, we can confirm that the victim is 28 year old Keron Ysaguirre who is known as a tradesman. We stress, he is alive at the KHMH at this time. We'll have more details on Monday…

More Straight Talk From the Streets on "Mayan Apocalypse"
Well it's December 21st and the world didn't end. We're still here, meaning that - to the surprise of none - all the doomsday prognosticators were wrong. While we hope they can move on to a merry Christmas, for the rest of us it was good, if slightly idle fun. As we told you last night, we sampled public opinion on the so called Mayan Apocalypse yesterday. We presented some of those interviews last night - but because the news was so long, we couldn't get in all of them. Here are the rest with sly, smart and funny perspectives on the December 21st theory: Interviewee "The bible talked about nobody knows the sign of the times, so not even the Mayas know, they are not God. God says when the sign of times come we will know when the anti-Christ comes." Geovanni Brackett, reporter "Do you think the world will end tomorrow?" Interviewee "No I don't believe in this." Geovanni Brackett, reporter "According to the Maya calendar the world will end tomorrow on December 21." Interviewee "What can we do in any case?" Interviewee "From my understanding and what I have seen its more the of a period and my understanding is that it can usher in a new period." Interviewee "Stop right there. According to the Mayan Calendar the world will end or the Maya calendar will end and it will start again."

Stone Loves Kids
Stone Jam is one of Belize's most enduring DJ's and one of the best - but today instead of spinning records as he is known to do - he was playing Santa Claus for the children in his neighborhood. For over 50 years he has been living on George Street and 3 years ago he teamed up with his cousin Kevin Kemp who lives in the US to do an annual toy drive for the less fortunate children in his area. It is the season of giving and this evening toys were being given out in abundance to 300 hundred children of the Mesopotamia division. Stone Jam, organizer "What are doing is that we have a toy drive annually - this is the third year that we are doing this and we are doing it for the kids in this community. We previously called it "the Mesop Toy Drive" but we don't want to mix it up with politics, so we change the name we called it S&K Toy Drive which is myself as Stone Jam and my cousin from out of LA do this jointly for the kids in this area. Now we are expanding it out of this area." Monica Bodden "Why did you guys decided to team up and do something like this for the community?" Stone Jam, organizer "People say that this neighborhood is not a good neighborhood and we try to show them that good things still happen in this neighborhood - people like me who live here for 50 years and good things still happen in the community. People like me try come out and contribute to the community."


‘Work in Progress’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize
The day stated very well for me. The Arsenal away match against Wigan was the early ( started at 6.30am) game on TV. Not the most assured or scintillating performance by Arsenal but they got the three points courtesy of a well executed penalty by Mikel Arteta. With the game over I ate breakfast and then set off to collect Dave, a friend from the UK who has been the Squadron Sergeant Major of BATSUB (the British Army Training Support Unit Belize) since April of this year ( he beat us here by nearly two months, the rotter), from the 9am Water Taxi that he took from Belize City this morning. When we went to monitor progress on our build in Ambergris Caye, Belize we took Dave and his colleague ‘Fish’ with us. When Dave had last visited Ambergris Caye we took him to look at the site for our new home. This was shortly after the scrub had been cleared but before the build had started. How the site looked the last time that Dave visited it around 7 weeks ago. How it looked today. Things have really shown progress. Well we think so.

Pressing My Luck in San Pedro: Bingo and The Casino at the Belize Yacht Club
Friday night bingo at the Lions' Den in San Pedro is always good times. (Another time that I went: Bingo at the Lions' Den.) It's always a hugely varied crowd. Tourists and locals, kids, teenagers, families...not the over 65ers that you usually see when you are in the states. I was there early during the set-up. Oh wait...that didn't come until later. I actually went to meet a friend who has a special little tool for cutting SIM cards. I got a used IPhone from my sister-in-law and...had no idea that the card it uses is about half the size as the standard SIM cards here. Enter this little number. The stapler looking thing not the Belikin. And voile. A real Iphone. Hello 2009 and Angry Birds! One hour and a few beers (only 3 for $10bzd) later, I was sucked into 6 full rounds of BINGO. I think everyone at my table won but me. Standard really. But's for a charity. On the way home, I wanted to stop off for a quick look at the Belize Yacht Club Casino. I had heard that it had opened during the week and that they didn't have a liquor license yet. Interesting...let's take a look. (This picture is from earlier in the week.)

International Sources

How McAfee Could Turn Its Nutjob Founder's PR Into A Brand Asset
Although John McAfee sold the company that bears his name in the mid-1990s, he is still connected to the brand by history and spelling. So once he started a strange odyssey this past September that included a murdered neighbor in Belize, an illegal escape to Guatemala, extradition to the U.S. earlier this month and lots of publicity along the way, the McAfee corporate brand’s “buzz score” has dropped precipitously. The company has said nothing about the guy’s adventure, for obvious reasons. But are those reasons valid anymore? McAfee (the brand) can’t avoid news of McAfee (the founder) when it pops up in Internet search. Since the guy seems to love giving interviews, he forces viewers to attach him to the business, even if only implicitly and vaguely. My bet is that he’s not going to go away, either, which means he’ll keep influencing consumer perceptions about the brand. Could the company embrace this odd hand it got dealt and use it to the brand’s advantage? I wonder whether it might be a chance for some novel guerrilla and social experiments, like: Shoot a playful/pointed video response. You must know that the executives at the company have very strong feelings about the founder’s activities. Wouldn’t the transparent and authentic (and truthful) thing to do be to let someone air them? It could be somewhat scripted — I’m thinking a rant on how McAfee (the nut) evidences the kind of mental state that McAfee (the company) protects its clients from — and perhaps end with a somewhat sincere plea for the guy to stop getting publicity?

Aids-Free World on entry to gays: T&T, Belize only two in region with ban
The NGO Aids-Free World says T&T and Belize are the only two countries in the western hemisphere that “arbitrarily ban the entry of homosexuals as a prohibited class.” The group is working to change that. Aids-Free World’s legal adviser for marginalised groups, Maurice Tomlinson, is a Jamaican LGBT and HIV activist. Tomlinson is gay and is therefore legally barred from entering Belize and T&T. Earlier this month, he was invited to make a presentation at a UN meeting in T&T but said he felt obliged to turn down the invitation and has since initiated a challenge to T&T’s Immigration Act before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). In a release, Aids-Free World said Tomlinson travels all over the Caribbean and has made presentations about the devastating impact of homophobia on the HIV response before UN conferences, government ministers, senior judicial officers and national Aids councils across the region. He has also led human-rights documentation and advocacy training in the Caribbean HIV and Aids response. The United Belize Advocacy Movement, which the release said was “Belize’s only civil-society group working exclusively to promote the health and human rights of LGBT/MSM citizens,” has invited Tomlinson to lead training and sensitisation sessions in Belize City next month.

The Mayan Ruins in Caracol, Belize
A View from halfway up the largest Mayan building in Caracol, Belize Nearby images in Belize A: Caana Terrace by Irmin Wehmeier, 40 meters away Once you climb to the top of Caana, you arrive at this small plaza surrounded by three small pyramids. B: The Mayan Ruins Of Caracol, Belize by Liquid Jungle 360, 50 meters away C: The Mayan Ruins At Caracol, Belize by Liquid Jungle 360, 50 meters away D: The Plaza At Caana by Irmin Wehmeier, 50 meters away Plaza view by Caana, the largest excavated structure at Caracol. E: From The Top Of Caana Caracol Mayan Ruins Belize by Irmin Wehmeier, 60 meters away This is from the top of Caana, the largest excavated ruin at Caracol in Belize. F: Caracol A Plaza by Irmin Wehmeier, 150 meters away Caracol Mayan ruins in Belize CA. This is A Plaza, the primary structure (A6) is Temple of the Wooden... G: Mayan Ruins At Caracol, Belize by Liquid Jungle 360, 340 meters away H: Rio Frio Cave by Benedict Kim, 26.7 km away We did this tour through Mayawalk in San Ignacio and I highly recommend them. It was truly an excelle... I: Rio Hon Pools by Benedict Kim, 28.9 km away Another wonderful little stop in Pine Ridge Reserve. This area is accessed behind the picnic palapas ... J: Actun Chapat Sinkhole Entrance by Benedict Kim, 30.2 km away Went caving here today with a couple of friends. The cave name is Actun Chapat and it's near the Guat...