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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

A puma in our midst
On the 20th of December there was a great deal of excitement following eyewitness reports of a puma south of San Pedro Town. While San Pedranos are very proud of their marine and land creatures, there was also, understandably a great deal of concern and fear about this uncommon and large predator in a populated, residential area. Mayor Daniel Guerrero did the right thing and immediately called the Belize Wildlife Conservation Networks' (BWCN) Wildlife Advice Hotline for advice and assistance. This hotline is for the general public to report injured, orphaned, nuisance or abused wildlife. When a response is necessary they partner with the Forest Department and any relevant wildlife organisation to ensure the best outcome for the caller and animal concerned.

Three Belizeans appointed to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
In a News Release from Belize House in Belmopan, the Office of the Governor-General Announces that Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to make the following appointments to the MOST EXCELLENT ORDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE on the occasion of NEW YEAR HONOURS 2014: Order of the British Empire OBE To be Ordinary Officers of the Civil Division of the said Most Excellent Order of the British Empire: Rafael Manzanero, for contribution to Environmental Protection Adrian Alexander Coye FRCS Ed CTh, DM CTh, for contribution to Medicine

BEL Statement on PUC Initial Decision on Amendment to Electricity Rates
On December 10, 2013, Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) applied for a 3 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) reduction in electricity rates, to come into effect on January 1, 2014. The application was a result of an increase in hydroelectricity production in Belize and Mexico and subsequent reduction in the Cost of Power. The proposed rate reduction is intended to save customers approximately $15 million in 2014. On December 18, 2013, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) announced its initial decision for a further 1 cent reduction in rates. BEL has reviewed the PUC's initial decision and has determined that, with the efficiencies achieved over the last two years, the Company can maintain quality service and supply to customers even with this additional $5 million reduction in revenue. The Company, however, has notified the PUC that whilst it has no objection to the intended Mean Electricity Rate (MER) of 44.65 cents, it is objecting to the proposed tariff basket, which would further erode BEL's operating margins.

The Domestic Tourist
It was a week-long trip I was glad to be away on. Through the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), I would be travelling to destinations right within the 8,867 sq miles of my homeland, Belize. I was eager to look at my country through the eyes of a tourist, seeing what they saw when they ventured our terrains, falling in love when they snorkeled our renowned waters. I already know our country is without a doubt, beautiful. But what I wanted to know is, just what it is that keeps them coming back to our tiny jewel, time and time again? My journey began with a 20 minute fight via TropicAir to Belize City. The short flight provided me with a scenic view of the cayes and the iconic barrier reef that vividly contrasted some parts of the blue waters that lay beneath. With my camera, a few changes of clothes, and a spirit ready for adventure, I was prepared to have a week filled with Belizean experiences. Normally we tend to overlook this sort of travel because it's in our own "back yard" but really, we don't need to cross borders for adventures and vacations! Just read on as I share some of my adventures with you;maybe you'll start packing for your very own Belizean adventure!

Ambergris Today

San Pedro Branch of Belize Red Cross Successful Activities
The San Pedro Branch of the Belize Red Cross is very fortunate to have strong local business support in their efforts to make a difference on Ambergris Caye. Crazy Canucks has been doing a wonderful Job with ongoing fundraising for the San Pedro Red Cross, they have designated the last Friday of their weekly trivia as Red Cross night. Think and Drink Trivia has raised $500 since June, with $175 of the total pouring in from Last Friday's Trivia. Without a doubt, it is one of the busiest and most popular trivia nights on the island. The owner Rob has a phenomenal sense of humor which guarantees everyone has a great time while raising money for a good cause.

Misc Belizean Sources

A puma in our midst - How to help keep the community safe and save our wildlife in San Pedro
On the 20th of December there was a great deal of excitement following eyewitness reports of a puma south of San Pedro Town. While San Pedranos are very proud of their marine and land creatures, there was also, understandably a great deal of concern and fear about this uncommon and large predator in a populated, residential area. Mayor Daniel Guerrero did the right thing and immediately called the Belize Wildlife Conservation Networks' (BWCN) Wildlife Advice Hotline for advice and assistance. This hotline is for the general public to report injured, orphaned, nuisance or abused wildlife. When a response is necessary they partner with the Forest Department and any relevant wildlife organisation to ensure the best outcome for the caller and animal concerned. Because this is a voluntary organisation with no paid members, funds were sought privately to fly a team to San Pedro to investigate as it appeared to be a matter of urgency. Unfortunately, the puma had disappeared by the time they had arrived and due to heavy rains; there was very little evidence that allowed them to gather information about the puma. One of the team members was from Panthera, an organisation that specialises in studying and conserving large cats in Belize. Dr. Bart Harmsen of Panthera said; "You are probably wondering if you are in danger from this cat. Give a cat room to escape and they will do this. It is unlikely that this cat will attack people if not driven into a corner. This does not mean you should not be cautious, especially with children and pets. If you see the cat try and stay calm and do not turn your back on it or run away. Enjoy the sighting as many of you may have never seen a wild puma. If the cat approaches you - it will most likely move away- no matter what, stand your ground and wave your arms around and shout. This will assure it will move away. If reliable reports keep coming in that the cat remains around the town, we have to act and try and trap this cat and remove it from its location. For this we need your help.

Be Kind Belize website
I'm delighted to announce a softish launch of the new Be Kind Belize website. Be Kind Belize has evolved from a humane education programme, available in a few schools in Belize, to now becoming an online resource for all teachers, educators, community workers and volunteers across the country. The resources have been developed after several years of working in schools in Belize and in cooperation with teachers, conservation organisations and other volunteers, whose help I cannot express enough gratitude for. All of the resources are easily downloadable and absolutely free for use in schools or for any other organisation that can benefit. I'd be grateful if any of my friends, who are teachers, parents or who know teachers would pass this information on and share it with anyone who might be able to use it.

Leading by Example: An Interview With First Lady Kim Simplis Barrow of Belize
Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, First Lady of Belize, has been described as the Michelle Obama of Central America and is on a mission to improve the welfare of women and young people in Belize. 2013-12-31-WashingtonGala1.JPG Kim is the wife of Prime Minister Dean Barrow and is also the founder and director of one of Belize's most acclaimed NGOs, Lifeline Foundation, which focuses on improving the quality of life for the children of Belize. I met with her to talk about her latest work and her role as First Lady, and here is how our conversation went: LIFELINE FOUNDATION Please tell me more about Lifeline Foundation. Lifeline Foundation started in 2006 and is a registered charitable foundation and NGO in Belize. Its objectives are to assist generally with the welfare of children in Belize, looking out especially for their social, health and educational needs, and being concerned particularly with those that are economically disadvantaged or suffering from any kind of disability. The foundation is run by a board of directors comprised of 10 women, with a mix of professional and business interests and backgrounds.

San Pedro Liquor Licensing Board Notice
Meetings Jan 13, 14 at Lion's Den

Channel 7

Cane Farmers Want GOB To Agree To MOU And Enforce It On BSI
It's January 2014, and the cane season still hasn't started; what's worse is no one can say for sure when or if it will start. A part of the reason is the heavy rains since August, but the largest part of it is the still simmering dispute over bagasse. The latest timetable says that the season must start on January 15, but once again, the stalemate between the cane farmers and the factory owners continues, so the season may not begin on that date. The latest disagreement between both sides is that BSI wants to negotiate with the farmers on a payment for bagasse, but the farmers want them to put it in writing that a payment will be made before any meaningful negotiations can begin. That fairly fundamental difference led to today where the branch chairmen of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association met to discuss the latest letter to the association from BSI on New Year's Eve.

16 Year Old Male Charged For Shooting 19 Year Old Female Cousin
On this newscast we can talk all we want about the fewer murders in 2013, but when a 19 year old female is shot 7 times in the street by her 16 year old male first cousin - then we know that violence is still rampant in Belize City. That's just what is alleged to have happened on New Year's Eve in the Lake Independence area when Tajah Staine who was shot multiple times and called the name of her cousin as the gunman. Today, that young man, a 16 year-old, was taken to family court on charges of attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm, and dangerous harm, and due to the nature of the offences, he was remanded to the Wagner's Youth Facility at the Belize Central Prison. We have his name and photograph, but we cannot release it because he is still a minor.

Man Charged For Shooting Father In Head
In an update to the other New Year's family shooting we told you about, 30 year-old Hensleigh Ryan Jones was arraigned today in Orange Walk's Magistrate's Court for shooting his own father three times in the head. His dad survived, and so the son was read charges of attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm, and dangerous harm when he appeared before Magistrate Merlene Moody this morning. They are firearm offences so remand is automatic. He will be brought back on March 5. As we told you, Corozal police responded to a shooting incident in Ranchito Village on New Year's night, and when they visited the Jones Residence, they found his dad, 53 year-old Hensley "Nick" Jones with 3 bullet wounds to the head. He told police that his son, Hensleigh Ryan, shot him in the kitchen for no apparent reason.

Cool Spot Rob Refused Robbers, Got Chopped
Of the scores of "Cool Spots" all across Belize, we'd like to think that "Rob's Cool Spot" just outside Hattieville is among the most well liked. And that's because the owner, 61 year old Robert Robinson wakes up early every morning and gets on his fire hearth going to prepare delicious Rice and Beans with other local delicacies. By the evening, he's winding down - and on New Year's Eve at 6:00 pm, that's when 2 men tried to rob him. Monica Bodden found out more when she went to meet "Rob" at mile 17 today:... Monica Bodden reporting Robert Robinson has been making fire hearth food at his restaurant Robs Cool Spot for four decades. But on New Year's Eve at 6:00 in the evening, as he sat at his usual lookout, two armed men came looking not for food but money. Robert Robinson - Business Owner, Rob's Cool Spot "Two guys just pull up from around the corner and I didn't see them. When I look through here I saw one with a gun and the other came with a machete. The machete man chopped, but I wasn't sure if it was a chop I got. I thought it was a stick, but when I feel the coldness of the shirt, I lifted up my arm and I saw the chop. I then yelled for my wife and the men turn around and ran."

Family Loses Everything In Fire
Tonight, a Ladyville family of 5 is homeless after their house and all their possessions were destroyed in a fire. The McKay family house caught fire last night at around 7, and the cause is believed to be a candle which fell over. Luckily no one was home, and Jenna McKay told us that she left to go get food for her children. She never suspected that a mishap would end up claiming all their belongings: Jenna McKay, fire victim "I wasn't taking long. I went to get something to make food for my kids to eat at my mom's house and mom told me that my house is on fire. All my things got damaged; my passport, clothes, TV, everything that a house would have got destroyed." Benisford Matura - Operations Officer, Fire Department "Last night about quarter after seven, the Ladyville Station got a call from the Ladyville Police of a fire on Cusco Street. They immediately dispatched and upon arrival a 20' X 22' wooden structure approximately 3 feet off the ground was totally engulfed in flames. They got into operation and did their best to extinguish the fire." Jenna McKay, fire victim "I had leave on the candle and the candle supposedly knocked over on my bed and caught the house on fire."

Belize's Murder Rate Going Down, Caribbean and Latin America Going Up
We've been reporting on the decrease in murders in Belize for 2013 - down from 145 to 99. We stress 99 murders is nothing to celebrate, but 46 fewer murders is reason to feel relief. While everyone has their own answer for the downturn, we wondered how it compared to other crime-ridden countries in the Caribbean and Latin America. According to statistics obtained by 7News from a colleague in the Caribbean, in most countries the murder rate is up. This is according to preliminary and unofficial figures. In Trinidad and Tobago, there were 405 murders, which is 6% more than the previous year, putting their murder rate at 30 per hundred thousand. In Jamaica, there were 1241 murders, which is up 15% from the year before putting their murder rate at 46 per one hundred thousand, which is expected to be one of the highest in the hemisphere. In the Bahamas, there were 118 murders, which puts that country's murder rate at 32, which is up 6% from last year. In Guyana, where end of year figures were hard to come by, there were 142 estimated murders, putting their murder rate at 19, which is up 3%.

Senior Sales Tax Collector Verde Escapes Charges For Gun Found In House
But the reduced number of homicides masks the fact that violence, especially gun violence remains very prevalent in Belize. One man who knows well about that is Reynaldo Verde. In April of 2013, he was remanded for attempted murder, after he shot a man in San Pedro. It was the second time the senior sales tax employee was remanded for attempted murder. But in 2013, the victim asked not to press charges, so he got off. And he got off today too, in a case that for most average folks would result in automatic remand and at least 15 days in jail. Acting on information this morning at 6:00 police searched Verde's home off Faber's Road and found a Glock 380 pistol in the washroom. Police say he has two gun licenses but none for that weapon, and so he was taken to the police station pending charges. Usually, those are pretty much automatic, but in this case, Verde had the ear of senior police officers who listened to the senior sales tax collector when he told them he had been set up and that the gun had been planted.

Two Cops Knocked Down In Separate Incidents
Two police officers were knocked down by drivers over the past three days. The first was Mario Coc, who was riding a police motorbike on Faber's Road on New Year's Day at 11:00 am, when a Geo Tracker came charging out of Watermelon Street - didn't indicate as it should have and veered right, then left. Coc says he swerved to avoid a collision but crashed into the front of the vehicle which caused him to fall to the pavement and slide across the street. He received abrasions to the right knee, abrasions to the left arm, a cut wound to the left side of head, and multiple fractures of the right leg. Today he had to have surgery on his leg and is reported in a stable condition. The driver of the tracker was a 68 year old woman, Ismay Bulwer - who has received a notice of intended prosecution. And then last night on Caesar Ridge Road near Bismark Club, a policeman on bicycle was knocked down in a hit and run. 21 year old Tyrelle Tillett attached was one of two officers on Bicycle patrol when a brown Toyota Camry knocked him down from behind. The car drove off leaving him on the ground. Tillett was not seriously hurt and complained of pain to his left leg.

Man Charged For Grabbing Teenaged Girl
21 year-old Jorge Perez, a resident of Western Avenue, is out on bail for a charge of indecent assault after he was taken to Magistrate's Court today. A 15 year-old girl told police that New Year's Day, Perez grabbed her chest and fondled it. Police arrested and charged him with aggravated assault of an indecent nature, and he was arraigned before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer. He pleaded not guilty to the charge, and because he had bruises and blood on his shirt, Senior Magistrate Frazer asked him about them. He said that he was beaten up while inside a cellblock when he was detained. He was granted bail of $2,000, which he was able to meet, and he must return to court on February 28.

Man With Bze Roots Wanted for Wife's Murder In Cali
The FBI is offering a ten thousand dollar reward for a California man with roots in Belize after he's accused of killing his wife and the mother of his two children in San Bernadino California on November 30th. According to news reports, Edly Albert Atherley was charged with murder in December but has allegedly fled, possibly outside the state's jurisdiction. The FBI says Atherley may still be in San Bernardino but they say he has ties in Florida and Belize. Atherley is five-feet, nine-inches tall and weighs between 160 to 170 pounds. He is African-American and has a tattoo on his right shoulder. The FBI says Atherley has a criminal history. An FBI release says, Anyone who knows of Atherley's whereabouts is urged to use extreme caution and contact their local FBI office or dial 911. The FBI also cautioned residents not to take independent action should they come into contact with him.

PUP Says Recall Failure Was All But Foretold
On New Years' Eve, 7News told you about the rejected petition which the People's United Party made to recall Cayo North East Representative Elvin Penner. The disgraced former minister of state, although being thoroughly condemned by the Opposition, the media and civil society, has not faced any criminal charges for allegedly facilitating an international fugitive. More than that, he is an area representative and a sitting member of the House of Representatives in good standing; he also enjoys additional perks like a salary over a hundred thousand dollars, his government vehicle, and health insurance. So, with this hurdle of the failed petition in the rear view, he is one step closer to distancing himself from the immigration scandal. With those things in mind, we spoke with Julius Espat, the Deputy Leader who has been there with caretaker Orlando Habet every step of the way. He told us yesterday that the party expected that first attempt to fail, no matter how hard they tried: Hon. Julius Espat - Representative, Cayo South "It is a national executive decision, so the Party Leader has requested a national executive meeting to go over the details. Presently we have been informed as to the detail as to why they didn't accept it which is something that we expected by the way. So now we will have the legal advisor and his team gives us their advice as to how we should move forward and then a decision will be made at the national executive."

Cruise Rules On the Ground
Back in November, 7News told you about the rotation system at the Fort George Tourism Village which caused some of the operators to be up in arms, saying that they weren't getting a fair opportunity to engage the tourists. But in an environment where regulation is tough, and where there are often more operators than needed, there is often one quarrel or the other. Well, the Belize City Taxi tour guides and other freelance operators have joined up merging 5 different entities into one. One of the main criticisms that the Belizean operators get is that their approach to engage the tourists often come off as harassment, which the new union's leadership says should not happen: Arton Bowen, President FTGZ "It has provided a lot of benefits in the sense that, before like Mr. Pollard mentioned, there were a lot of difference in opinion and a lot of back and forth between the different groups. What have happen is that we have all decided to bridge that gap, we came together and we have put in place a set of rules that will basically govern all the freelance tour guides and taxi people in the zone, so that we could have a better working relationship."

Assisting Agriculture
The relentless rains in the last part of 2013 destroyed the roads, but it did the same to the agriculture sector. And now, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture has committed to providing assistance in the form of animal feed and some agricultural inputs to severely impacted farmers in highly vulnerable agricultural zones in the Belize District. It starts on Saturday 4th January with the provision of cattle feed to livestock producers in the Crooked Tree and Blackburn livestock productive zones. On Wednesday January 8th assistance will be provided to the communities of the Belize River Valley and on Friday January 10th the communities along the old northern highway (Maskall zone). All farmers and agricultural producers affected by rain and flooding in the Belize District can call the Department of Agriculture at 203-2842.

Channel 5

3 months after sugar industry meltdown, still no word on when production will resume
Today representatives of the eighteen branches of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association met in Orange Walk. The only item on the agenda for today's session was a look at [...]

BSCFA asks P.M. Barrow to intercede in the deadlock over bagasse proceeds
According to Ortega, the Prime Minister has told the BSCFA that if negotiations break down he would be willing to intercede. Well, for all intents and purposes negotiations have crumbled, [...]

More bad news? There's equipment malfunction at tower hill factory
And even as the gods seem to be frowning on the crop season, with more rain, less sucrose, impassable roads and the bagasse impasse prevailing, there is more bad news. [...]

M&M Engineering accused of tearing up the Old Northern Highway; residents up in arms
Residents along the Old Northern Highway are tonight up in arms, following the destruction of the road at the hands of a construction company.� They contend that M&M Engineering Ltd. [...]

Fire in Ladyville leaves a family of five homeless
A family of five is tonight homeless after a fire in the Mitchell Estate Area of Ladyville gutted their house. The McKay family has been living in the three bedroom [...]

Hensleigh Ryan Jones arraigned for the attempted murder of his father
On New Year's Day, many families generally celebrate by spending quality time together. But on New Year's Day in Ranchito Village just outside Corozal, thirty-year-old Hensleigh Ryan Jones shot his [...]

Eldy Atherley wanted by FBI for murder of his estranged wife
San Bernardino Police and the FBI are hunting for a man who is said to have strong ties to Belize. Edly Albert Atherley is wanted for the murder of his [...]

Reynaldo Verde released despite being found with unlicensed gun
Persons charged for illegal firearm offences are in the news on almost a daily basis. People are hauled away regularly for unlicensed guns or bullets found on them, in their [...]

2 Honduran nationals guilty of illegally entering Belize
In news from the courts, two Hondurans caught living unlawfully in Belize were today charged with illegal entry and ordered to pay one thousand dollars each.�But tonight, the men are [...]

21 year old man charged for assaulting 15 year old female
Also in court, a twenty-one year old man, who is being accused of assaulting a fifteen-year-old female, was today before the court with injuries he claims he sustained while in [...]

B.T.L. Park to be officially opened
B.T.L. Park remains under construction after several months of diligent restorative work.� The relentless rains, however, have caused major delays in the reopening of the recreational space.� Despite an initial [...]

C.E.O. at the K.H.M.H. speaks on improvements to the medical facility
In May of 2013, a bacterial outbreak at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital flooded the airwaves when some seven babies reportedly died after they were infected with enterobacter cloacae within [...]

�And discusses the record number of birthday at the hospital
The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in 2013 had a record number of births with approximately seven hundred and ninety-eight normal deliveries and over eight hundred via C-Section; in December alone, [...]

Belize Water Services Ltd. Ants an increase in water bills
On Tuesday, Belize Water Services Ltd. applied to the Public Utilities Commission for an Annual Tariff Review for the period April first, 2014 to March thirty-first, 2015.� The company is [...]

Residents of inundated rural Belize to receive much needed relief from G.O.B.
Tonight there is good news for farmers in the Belize District, affected by incessant rains resulting in widespread flooding. That flooding has caused damage of agriculture products, as well as [...]

Miss World Belize places in regional pageant
Miss Trifinio Mundo�the pageant was held this weekend in Honduras and features some seven delegates from the Central American countries including Mexico. The pageant promotes the point where the borders [...]


Fire Guts Family Home in Rural Belize
Last night, a fire in Ladyville gutted a house leaving a family of five homeless. It happened at around 8pm on Swallow Street when 22 year old Jenna Mckay left home on an errand. No one was at the house at the time and the cause of the fire is said to be a candle which was left on. Reporter Hipolito Novelo found out more. HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING JENNA MCKAY, Owner of House "I have nowhere to stay, I have nowhere to go, I have nothing and I started crying and then the thought came to me about where my babies and I will live." HIPOLITO NOVELO "Twenty Two year old Jenna Mckay along with her two children, her sister and her nephew is homeless tonight after this blazing fire destroyed their wooden bungalow home last night. The fire started at around 8 o'clock. The cause of the fire is believed to be a lit candle in one of the bedrooms in the house. " JENNA MCKAY, Owner of House "I left the candle lit and the candle knocked over on the bed and caused the fire; I believe that is what caused the fire because no one was at home. I wasn't taking long; I had gone to my mom to get something for the children to eat and my mom yelled and told me the house is on fire and all my stuff got damaged including my passports, my clothes, my television, everything that a house would have got destroyed. My daughter was with my mom and my baby was with me. I think it was the breeze that knocked over the candle."

Father Remains Hospitalized; Son Remanded to Prison
Thirty year old year old Hensley Ryan Jones of Ranchito Village in Corozal was charged with one count of attempt murder and use of deadly means of harm when he appeared in the Orange Walk Magistrate Court. Jones is accused of shooting his father in the head and this morning, Magistrate Marlene Moody remanded Jones into custody until March 5th. As we reported, fifty three year old Hensley Jones, also known as Nick Jones of Ranchito Village was shot in the head at his home, allegedly by his son on New Year's Day. Police say when they arrived at his home, Jones, with blood running down his head, approached them. He was taken to the Corozal Community Hospital for treatment. Police say Jones was at his home when he was shot. The son fled the area and was apprehended by police a short time later.


BISE Symposium at UB Brings Educational Partnership Together
The fifth annual Belize International Symposium of Education (BISE) was held this morning at the George Price Center, in Belmopan. BISE was developed about five years ago with the purpose of reaching out to the educational institutions in Belize, primarily those at the primary level. Executive Director and Founder...

PLUS Crew to the Valley of Peace Encountered Challenging Road Obstacles
Earlier this week, PlusNews travelled to the village of Valley of Peace in the Cayo District, to cover the story of Canadian national Brian Townsend, but we encountered some unexpected obstacles. It had nothing to do with the story we intended to pursue, but with the condition of the...

CitCo Completes Garbage Collection Payment to Belize Waste Control
Yesterday, Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley told PLUS News that the Belize City Council this week finished paying the last of a $1.2 million judgment enforced by the Supreme Court last April in favour of Belize Waste Control. The maintenance company which collects and disposes of the City's garbage...

100 Streets of Belize City will be Concreted by Mid-January
In that interview with our colleagues at KREM, the Mayor also updated on some infrastructure projects which he expects to be completed by the middle of this month. The Mayor said that over the Christmas holiday, City Hall has been working hard to finalize some of the existing projects...

Allegation of Higher Heads's Interference in Police Investigation
PlusTV has been reliably informed that this morning, sometime between the hours of 6:30-7:30, a group of police officers conducted a search on a premise on Rio Bravo Crescent. There, they discovered an unlicensed firearm on the property. We were told that a charge sheet was written up to...

Minor, 17, Charged for Attempted Murder of Tajah Staine
PLUS News has learned that a seventeen year old minor has been arrested and charged in connection with the attempted murder of his cousin Tajah Staine. Staine was shot seven times, in the chest, left shoulder and left leg. As we reported yesterday, the 19 year old was heading...

Son Arraigned for Attempted Murder of his Father
30 year old Hensleigh Ryan Jones was today escorted to the Corozal Magistrate court, where he was arraigned for the attempted murder of his father. Jones is accused of shooting 53 year old Hensley Jones three times to the head on the night of January 1st. The two were...

Hit and Run Accident Leaves a Police Officer in Pain
A Police Officer was the victim of a hit and run on yesterday, 21 year old PC Tyrelle Tillett attached to Belize City precinct says that last night around 7:45 p.m., he was on official duties, riding a Police Bicycle on Ceasar Ridge Road in a Western direction. Upon...

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Official information released to our newspaper tonight by Chief Engineer Lennox Bradley confirms that the damage to the country's infrastructure, caused by the incessant rains over the past two months, has been substantial. Figures provided to us put the tab at $5.88 million, including $2.2 million in damages to the country's sugar roads. Damage to public roads in the districts was reported at nearly $4 million. Of note is that the figure does not include prior disrepair to the national road network. Bradley informs us that, "The Ministry has already identified various contractors from the private sector who are assisting the Ministry in completing the works as soon as practically possible. The continued rains have affected the pace of the execution of works; but nevertheless, slow progress is being achieved and we are confident that with the anticipated improvement in weather conditions in January, we will be able to step up the pace to complete the works in a timely manner." He added that due to the impact of the recent rains, the Ministry of Finance has provided the Ministry of Works with the necessary funds to complete the San Roman Bridge in the Orange Walk District and the Crique Sarco Bridge in the Toledo District. He said that $353,300 has been earmarked for the Crique Sarco Bridge and $300,000 for the San Roman Bridge.

"Caribbean must improve infrastructure and logistical services in order to lower transaction costs and make their industries more competitive" The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is forecasting that economic growth in the Latin America and Caribbean region, which includes Belize, will amount to 3% during 2014, according to a report released earlier this week. It said that during 2013, the region's economy grew by 2.7%. Of note is that latest statistical information from Belize authorities indicate that for the first nine months of 2013, the country's economy has lagged well behind this regional average, at less than half-a-percent. The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) reported national GDP expansion of a mere 0.4% for the first 9 months, with certain key sectors - including petroleum and agriculture - reporting challenges in production. The IDB report said that on the regional front, "The year now coming to a close was marked by an external context that did not encourage a strong economic performance in Latin America and the Caribbean." It added that, "The high degree of volatility that rattled international financial markets and the fall in prices for basic goods took a toll on the region's GDP growth, which averaged 2.7 percent."

At about 10:30 p.m. on New Year's Day, a Ranchito businessman, Hensley Jones, 53, was shot three times in his head by his son, while they were at home together. Police said that their initial investigations revealed that Hensley Jones was in the kitchen area with one of his sons, who shot him twice on the left side of his head and once in the back of his head for no apparent reason then drove off in a brown Isuzu Rodeo SUV en route to Corozal Town, where police later nabbed him and took him into custody. According to police, they responded to a report of a shooting at Jones' residence in Ranchito Village, and on their arrival, Jones approached the police vehicle with blood running down his head. He was immediately taken to the Corozal Community Hospital.

As we go to press tonight, the family of Brian Townsend-the 64-year-old Canadian whose disappearance from his home in Valley of Peace in the Cayo District was reported over a week ago on Christmas Day - has confirmed that the body found in Guatemala was that of the missing missionary. His body was found near the Belize-Guatemala border last Friday, December 27 - and buried by Guatemalan authorities because it was already decomposing. However, it was only today that the identity was confirmed by Townsend's family. In a Facebook post released at around 5:00 local time, the family said that, "With grieving hearts, we inform you that the body found in Guatemala is Brian Townsend." Meanwhile, a memorial service was held today by Valley of Peace residents to honor Townsend's memory. Modesto Duenas, Valley of Peace chairman, told Amandala on Tuesday when we visited the village, that they were saddened by the news that Townsend's body might have been taken to Guatemala and dumped by his abductors, and they hope that the assailants are caught and brought to justice as soon as possible. Reports are that investigators from the Belize Police Department made their way to the border village of Arenal, Cayo, earlier this week after receiving tips that Townsend's vehicle - which had also been stolen at the time of his disappearance - had been spotted one night crossing the Belize-Guatemala border through a remote road, not usually patrolled by security forces.

New Year's Day 2014 began with more heavy rains and overcast skies, as the 24th running of the Krem New Year's Day Cycling Classic got under way from the northern border for the Elite and U-23 riders, and from Orange Walk Town for the Female, Junior/Youth and Masters Cat 4/5 races, all heading for the finish line near the intersection of Central American Boulevard with Mahogany Street in Belize City. But by the time the cylists neared Ladyville, the sun was shining brightly and it remained clear skies and bright sunshine till the end of the race, and in fact for the rest of New Year's Day. With a lucrative package of station prizes and finishing prizes, there were enough foreigners in the field of Elites - Americans, Mexicans and Guatemalans, for some local fans to be wary of all the "treasures" possibly leaving for foreign shores. But the era of team riding is now firmly entrenched in the cycling community, and the "spoils" are reportedly shared to some extent among team members. Nevertheless, race fans still instinctively root for our local boys, especially in the Krem Classic and the Cross Country, the two biggest races on the cycling calendar; it certainly adds to the spice of the race. And they were not disappointed yesterday.

A mother is outraged that a young man whose life she said she had once saved tried to shoot her daughter to death on New Year's Eve night. More appalling, though, is the fact that the gunman and the victim are cousins, who grew up together but who apparently had issues because of the girl's association with his rivals, said the mother. Tashia Pauline Staine, 19, was entering her yard when her younger cousin, known as "Bigga," 17, allegedly rode up and opened fire on her. When she fell to the ground, the gunman allegedly stood over her and fired more shots before riding away on his bicycle. The incident occurred a little before 11 New Year's Eve night, on Gladden Street, just off La Croix Boulevard in the Lake Independence area of Belize City. Today, Staine-who had been shot 7 times-is recovering at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), while charges have yet to be levied against the young man whom she named-while on the ground gasping for air-as the shooter.

The sugar industry crisis-which came to a head in late 2013 with deadlock between cane farmers and the Belize Sugar Industries-will no doubt spill over into 2014. The impasse has emerged due to an ongoing dispute surrounding the payment for bagasse, a byproduct of sugar cane. Belize's local sugar producer, Belize Sugar Industries (BSI), utilizes bagasse to generate electricity, which it sells to Belize Electricity Limited; and this practice has led to a protracted feud between the stakeholders of the vital sugar industry because the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), and by extension, the local cane farmers want to be paid for the bagasse. For over the last two months, the farmers and BSI - specifically its parent company American Sugar Refineries (ASR) - have been at loggerheads concerning a negotiated payment for the bagasse; while the 2014 sugar cane crop season has now been delayed for an entire month, in part due to this issue. The most recent meeting between the opposing parties took place on Monday, December 23, 2013, at the BSI Staff Club in Orange Walk Town, where both parties met for the first time in three months. However, after around three hours of deliberations, no middle ground was reached; therefore, the stalemate continues and the fate of the next sugar crop season is still uncertain.

The DCE (December Chess Extravaganza) 2013 Swiss Tournament is now history. Twenty participants took part in two categories, nine in the junior and eleven in the senior. The turnout was rather unexpected, because of the very high number of those who pre-registered. However, the twenty participants gave good account of themselves. In the junior section, participants ranging in age from seven to eleven played their hearts out. From round one to five, their focus/attention was on their game. Upsets with their losses were mingled with happiness in their victories. The upset game of round one was between young Akeem Roches and Alexander Musa, who came in first and second, respectively, in the tournament. It lasted six minutes. Young Akeem, in Creole parlance, was "in his thing." He was cool, as he moved his pieces across the checkered board. Alexander was noticeably uncomfortable. Fifteen moves after the game started, it was over. Of interest in round one was the game between two of the female players, Philany Palacio and Evian Berges. Both girls went after each other aggressively. After nineteen minutes, Philany emerged as the winner. At the end of the tournament, Evian received the Best Sportsmanship award and Philany the Best Female award.

champion, Brown Bombers, who edged rivals Hattieville United by the same 1-nil score that they had lost to Hattieville by in the 2012 finals. The championship game, which was preceded by the 3rd place game between City Boys and Ladyville Rising Stars, took place at the MCC Grounds on Sunday, December 22, before the Premier League clash between FC Belize and BDF. Rising Stars defeated City Boys for the 3rd place spot. The SMART 13 & Under championship game was evenly matched, with the decisive goal coming in second half from a long free kick by Tyreek Muschamp, who played sweeper for Brown Bombers in first half, then moved up into the attack in second half. The kids played their hearts out on both sides, but the goal by Muschamp stood up to secure the 1-nil victory and the championship for the Bombers. Immediately following the game, beautiful individual trophies were issued to all members of the 3rd place, 2nd place and championship teams. Big team trophies for 1st , 2nd and 3rd place teams were also received by their respective coaches and captains; individual award trophies were given for outstanding players in the different positions; and there was a special Fair Play trophy for the most deserving team.

Following a traffic mishap blamed on the indiscriminate use of high-beam lights and on wet road conditions, a promising young cyclist suffered 8 broken ribs and had to have his spleen removed after he was knocked down by a bus near St. Matthew's Village on the George Price Highway. The young cyclist, 22-year-old Geon Hanson, was training for the KREM New Year's Day Cycling Classic. The Belmopan resident was found on the side of the highway, between miles 36 and 37, at around 6:15 a.m. last Tuesday, December 24, 2013, after he was unfortunately knocked down by a J & J commuter bus, traveling in the same direction. According to Saul Castellanos, the bus driver, he was eastbound when the lights of an oncoming vehicle temporarily blinded him. He said that when he regained his sight, he saw the cyclist in his path and tried to avoid hitting him but wet road conditions compounded the problem, causing him to hit Hanson. Hanson, whose lungs had collapsed, was subsequently transported in an unconscious state to the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan, where he underwent an emergency surgery to remove his spleen. He was later transported to the KHMH in Belize City for another emergency surgery.

2013 is fast winding down, and the New Year 2014 is almost here, and it begins with the full blown spectacle of the 2nd biggest cycling event in the 2014 calendar - as over a hundred cyclists, male and female, from Youth to Masters, local and foreign, first timers, veteran warriors and past champions are all getting ready to gear down for what has become a Belizean tradition now about to enter its 24th year - the Krem New Year's Day Cycling Classic. Coincidentally, the first KREM Cycling Classic, won by Michael "Big Wire" Lewis, took place on New Year's Day of 1991, the same year that the first semi-pro football season kicked off in Belize. The Premier League is right now in the heat of perhaps its toughest and most exciting race to their playoffs. Playoff bound teams will likely not be finally decided until next weekend, although some teams might clinch a playoff spot from this coming Sunday. But cycling is a different story. In this Wednesday's KREM New Year's Classic, it will all be decided once and for all on New Year's Day, when fans will welcome the winners as they cross the finish line at the junction of Mahogany Street and Central American Boulevard. The "playoffs," if there are any, are being decided with registration deadlines and the technical meeting tonight at the UWI campus on Princess Margaret Drive. And all vetted cyclists will get a chance to compete for the prestigious KREM Classic championship which comes along with what is certainly the most enticing package of prizes ever for this race. Where previously the race station prizes only included one of a thousand dollars, there are now four such prizes along the way to the finish, where there is an even bigger bag of prizes for the champion. And there are many other smaller station prizes along the way.

As we enter the New Year of 2014, the newspaper would like to review the last couple years of ruling UDP and Opposition PUP party politics. Our readers will have noted that we have been trying in these pages to cut through the shrill personality aspect of Belize's politics in order to analyze core philosophical issues of socio-economics. It has not been an easy task. There has been, it appears to us, a considered effort to confuse the Belizean people with all kinds of noises and distractions. The campaign to confuse originates from the same places which gave us slavery, colonialism, and neocolonialism: you can fill in the blanks. There was a kind of golden age in Belizean politics where socio-economics was concerned. Quite arbitrarily, we would say this golden age was roughly from 1958 to 1968. Under Hon. George Price, the PUP government was seeking to remove the ethnic injustices and class differences which had been characteristic of British colonialism here. This was the sociology. On the economic side, the PUP plunged into agricultural production in a determined effort to improve the living conditions of the people in the midst of declining forestry resources and revenues.

You know, there are different ways of looking at life. What works for you, works for you. It's quite popular for some people nowadays to say that you can be anything you want to be. In the old days, some people used to put it like this: reach for the stars and maybe you'll reach the moon. Personally, I look at things somewhat differently. I think it's important for oppressed people, especially those with sensitive personalities, to know their place, so to speak. For sure this sounds defeatist, but it's also realistic. What works for me, works for me. Once you come from a certain background, your margin of error is limited. That is why we have so many human shipwrecks in our community. One or two mistakes, and you're wasted. And that is why our parents used to beat us seemingly without mercy. It was because they knew that our margin of error would be limited, and they therefore sought to ensure that we kept our tail between our legs, as the saying goes. Sometimes I think I am one of the individuals that rich people call "bleeding hearts." As I drive around my community, it hurts to see those of my people who would be referred to as "losers." At this stage of my life, I am considered a modest success, but I can't spend any time congratulating myself. I know that with a little change of luck here and there, things would have been disastrously different for me.

The Ministry of Natural Resources fired back today against allegations that its former Chief Executive Officer, Beverly Castillo, has been involved in a scheme to defraud a Belizean-American, Bernadette Pickwood, of land to give to her (Castillo's) mother and son. In a statement issued today, the Ministry of Natural Resources maintained that it followed the right procedure before forfeiting Pickwood's lease (No. 253/1989 in Belama). However, Pickwood's attorney, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, and her brother, Bernard Pickwood, told the media today that the forfeiture was not legal, as the required notice had not been given to the leaseholder. "This is the crux of it: Was Bernadette Pickwood given this notice and reasonable time to address it? And we are saying no!" Matura-Shepherd said. In an unusual disclosure, the Lands Department today made public Pickwood's rent statement, which claims that as of January 2013, she had $720 in arrears, accrued because she had not paid rent on the land she received.

by Audrey Matura-Shepherd. This is my first writing to be published in 2014 and so I want to start by thanking all those people who have fervently read what I write and encouraged me to continue doing so. You may never know how many days I am pressed for time and I am totally exhausted, but the thought that I cannot disappoint you and that you are looking forward to hear from me on the issues of our loved country, makes me become re-energized to fulfill my implied and understood commitment to you. Also special thanks to those thousands who keep praying for me. Many ask how I find time to write and what helps to embolden me to speak so openly and frankly about issues. Let me tell you, it is all possible because of the grace of God and all those prayers from the heart keep adding to my account and multiplying my grace. Thank you so much and whoever you are, I too pray back those same blessings on you, that our Almighty Father may hold you up in 2014 and give you all you need to manifest and achieve His purpose for you in life.

Teachers and public servants have continued to plead with the Government to speedily implement a cost of living adjustment to offset what they say is a rise in the cost of living exceeding 30%; and as the New Calendar Year, 2014, has dawned, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow used that occasion to announce that those workers will be getting a salary adjustment - just not quite yet. In his New Year's Day speech, Barrow said that the headline grabber is the decision of the Government to pay the raise - but not until August 2014, retrospective to April, the start of the fiscal year. He offered no explanation why the raise would be delayed. The Prime Minister also did not specify the quantum of the raise. He described it merely as "substantial" - pointing to an agreement, in principle, to pay teachers and public officers 50 cents out of every $1.00 government gets in extra revenue. Barrow also announced that effective January 1, 2014, the National Bank of Belize, which Government had previously said would especially target teachers and public officers for lending, would be expanding its portfolio to include small business and vehicle loans - and the ceiling for business and mortgage loans would be $175,000. Since its launch in September 2013, the bank's lending ceiling has been fixed at $100,000.

Two Ladyville residents have been left homeless after a fire gutted their home in the Mitchell Estate area at about 6:30 this evening. Unconfirmed reports are that the wooden/plycem bungalow structure, which was occupied by two females, may have caught fire because a candle was left unattended inside one of the rooms. Vigilant neighbors reportedly saw the fire and alerted the occupants. Thereafter, one of the females rushed in to save her child, who she had allegedly left inside the house. Luckily, no one was harmed; however, one of the witnesses who spoke with Amandala said that the fire officials - who the witness said seemed unprepared - took a long while to arrive on scene.

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued final notice today of new electricity tariffs due to take effect this month, amounting to a decline in electricity rates ranging from 6% to 9% - depending on the classification of customers. Most residential customers will experience an 8% decrease in rates while industrial customers will benefit from a 9% reduction in tariffs. (See table accompanying this article.) "This represents a decrease in the Mean Electricity Rate (MER) from 48.65� to 44.65�," the PUC said. BEL, however, had applied for a decrease in the mean electricity rate to 45.65� per kilowatt hour. In a statement on the PUC review, BEL had said that the decision would result in more revenue loss than the company had anticipated. The company said in a press release that, "The projected revenue from PUC's proposed tariff basket is $23.5 million below the revenue expected from the current MER."

The Belize Coast Guard has called off the search for four of five fishermen missing for more than three weeks now. On Monday, December 9-the same day that their relatives reported them missing-the body of one of the five men, Thomas Levi Young, 58, of Lucky Strike, Belize District, was found floating in the sea about 1 mile off the shores of Colson Cay in the Stann Creek District, in the area where they reportedly went to fish. Young, who had evidently suffered a brutal murder, was in an advanced state of decomposition. He had several chop wounds and a post-mortem revealed that he had been shot to death. Young had gone to sea with Derwind Gentle, 26; Elgin " Ricey" Graham, 24; Sergio Flores, 34; and Kenrick Devin Chi, 26. The men departed the city aboard a 25-foot skiff, Natasha, at about 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, December 4, to fish in the Colson Cay area. They were to have returned on Saturday, December 7 - but never did. Their families reported them missing the following Monday, December 9.

The first three babies born at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital for the year 2014 are all girls! Jasmine Martinez, 20, of Scotland Half Moon Village, Belize District, delivered the first girl at 6:20 a.m. She weighed in at 6lbs 7oz. She was followed shortly after by Christina Montejo, 16, of Belize City, who brought her 6lb pink bundle into the world at 10:00 a.m. Finally, Judith Middleton, 22, of Belize City, gave birth at 9:39 p.m. to her 7lb 10oz daughter. "The births of these babies reflect the positivity of life� and hope for the New Year," said KHMH CEO Dr. Francis Longsworth, at a short ceremony honoring the new mothers this morning. All told, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital saw a total of 1,789 births for the past year 2013. From January to November, 813 of those were via C-Section and 798 as normal deliveries. The number of births for December alone was 178.

Belizean national, Joseph Budna, remains behind bars in Guatemala, with more charges to which he will have to answer in March 2014. Amandala has been informed that in December 2013, Budna was to appear in court on charges of kidnapping against Kevin Pacheco and kidnapping and abduction against Herson Abimael Palma; but those cases have been deferred. Our sources say that the trial on the Pacheco case was postponed to March 2014, after Budna demanded to have an English-to-Spanish translator, because he is not a native Spanish-speaker. He also protested that three of the judges hearing his case be removed. The case against Budna for a shootout with Guatemalan security officers has reportedly been dismissed; but he still remains on a 25-year conviction, handed down in August 2012 for the kidnapping of a US teenager, Luis Byron Reyes Onofre. (That case, we understand, is on appeal.)

The Reporter

Mayor says street works will continue in 2014
Belize City Mayor Darrel Bradley announced that the infrastructural work in Belize will continue into the next year with the entire length of Vernon Street and Youth for the Future Drive. The works are to be completed by mid-February 2014, Bradley explained. He said that by December, the Belize City Council had reached their goal of concreting 100 streets for the year 2013 and that they are currently finishing streets such as Baghdad Street, Park Avenue, Madam Liz Avenue, and Alexander Street. Bradley also stated that through funding from the Ministry of Finance the Belize City Council would be able to do the area of Princess Margaret Drive in front of St. John's College, and the area in front of the Marion Jones Stadium. Bradley also addressed the concerns of residents who say that a portion of Baymen Avenue has noticeably been left undone for an extended period of time now. He explained that the reason there has been delay in this area is because the Flood Mitigation Project is going to build a canal under that street. He said that the Flood Mitigation Project, which is being done through the Ministry of Works, is responsible for the delay in finishing Baymen Avenue and Cinderella Plaza because they are awaiting a design from a German company.

Brown Bombers win SMART Mundialito championship
The Brown Bombers triumphed 1-0 over the defending champions, Hattieville United Youth Sporting Club, in the championship finals of 2013 SMART Mundialito Football Tournament at the MCC grounds in Belize City on Sunday, December 22. Sherwin Reque�a and Jovan Ramos had led the Brown Bombers offensive supported [�]

Guardian Bombers lead men's softball finals 2-0
The Guardian Bombers are one win away from clinching the 2013 championship . They are leading 2-0 in the finals of the Belize City Men's Softball Competition which continued at Roger's Stadium on Wednesday and Friday nights, December 4-6. The Bombers won 19-12 over the Oceana Strikers [�] Jarret Davis

Verdes lead Belikin Cup football
Verdes FC of Benque Viejo del Carmen now leads the Belikin Cup Football Tournament with 17 pts from five victories and two draws, after they blasted FC Belize 4-1 in the 11th week of competition organized by the Premier League of Belize at the Marshalleck Stadium in [�]

Belize can do more to fight human trafficking - UN Special Rapporteur
Belize's repressive immigration policy compounds the phenomenon of human trafficking, and undermines efforts at combating and preventing trafficking in persons and helping the victims, United Nations' Special Rapporteur on human trafficking, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo told reporters at a press conference at the Radisson Fort George [�]

NO Sea cucumber fishing license - protecting a possible cancer cure
Sea cucumbers are not exactly daily fare on most Belizean's diet, but they are prized as a delicacy and for reputed medicinal properties in many parts of Asia and China, fetching a premium price of up to US$150 per pound for the dried product on international [�]

Healthy New Year's resolutions
New Year's resolutions are a bit like babies: They're fun to make but extremely difficult to maintain. Each January, roughly one in three persons resolve to better themselves in some way. A much smaller percentage of people actually make good on those resolutions. While about 75% of people stick to [�]

Eating nuts during pregnancy may curb allergies
Children are less likely to have a nut allergy if their mother ate nuts while pregnant, a study has concluded. The work, published in JAMA Pediatrics, looked at the health and diets of more than 8,000 children and their mothers. The US researchers believe that early exposure in the womb [�]

Mayor says street works will continue in 2014
Belize City Mayor Darrel Bradley announced that the infrastructural work in Belize will continue into the next year with the entire length of Vernon Street and Youth for the Future Drive. The works are to be completed by mid-February 2014, Bradley explained. He said [�]

PM promises to reconstitute PAC
In his New Year's address, the Prime Minister stated that as part of the government's Reform Agenda, they would be reconstituting the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). As it is now, the PAC is comprised of four government members and two Opposition members, of which, [�]

Delta Airlines's new service: a direct flight from LA to Belize
The reception committee from the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) and other concern parties were in place when Delta Flight #N3F8NW landed at the PGIA on Saturday, December 21, around 7:30 a.m. with its 150 passengers, on its inaugural, no-stop red-eye flight from Los Angeles. [�]

Xmas accident kills four
Four young people died tragically in a traffic accident near mile eight on the Philip Goldson highway around four o'clock in the afternoon on Christmas Day. Hector Daniel Gongora, a 22-year-old student; Shakir Shamir Monima, 23; Henry Gabourel Reyes, 20; and Dulce Yanira Cobb,17, all [�]

Tablets in the classroom: Promise and pitfalls
By Bevil M. Wooding "Imagine a future where our children are more motivated because they are immersed in the same technology that is increasingly surrounding them in life." The education sector globally has traditionally been slow to adopt new technology. A wave of affordable, mobile computing devices, particularly tablets, is [�]

CARICOM on schedule with five-year strategic plan
CARICOM is on schedule for the completion of its 2014-2018 strategic plan in early January, said CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque this week. LaRocque, in his end of year message, described the plan as one of the key milestones of CARICOM's work, saying that the [�]

Belize has seen significant blessings since the end of the year 2013. There has been a noticeable pick-up in economic activity, and apart from the recent troubles brought about by untimely demands by cane farmers, the sugar industry has made substantial progress under the leadership of American Sugar Refiners, the [�]

Gang hit claims life of Belize City man
The violent gang warfare that appears to have receded suddenly flared up on Sunday, when a 28-year-old working man was gunned down in gangland style in the city, as he rode his bicycle. Belize City Police reported that they visited the KHMH around 7:30 on [�]

BSI-BSCFA negotiations drag on
There seems to be no end insight for the negotiations between cane farmers and Belize Sugar Industries Limited, as farmers continue to agree to start the 2013-2014 crop without BSI put their agreement to negotiate a price for bagasse in writing. The company's Chief Executive Officer Joey Montalvo wrote the [�]

Townsend's body recovered!
Clifford Brian Townsend, 64, who went missing on Christmas Day, was found dead and positively identified onThursday, two days later. Townsend's son, Cory, who travelled to Belize soon after his father's disappearance was reported, crossed into neighbouring Melchor de Mencos, Guatemala, to identify his father's remains. While a post mortem [�]

Son shoots father in the head
Hensley Jones, 53, a businessman of Ranchito Village, Corozal, hangs onto life in the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital after he was shot three times in the head, allegedly by his son. The incident happened at around 10:30 on New Year's night at his home, where it is reported that his [�]

GOB to pay CXC fees
The Government of Belize will pay the fees for high school students to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education exam, commonly called CXC exams, Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced in his New Year's message. Barrow stated that government would pay the examination fees for up to a maximum of six CXC [�]

CEO's land procedures under microscope
The Lands Department has issued a statement regarding a lease cancellation and the subsequent granting of the lease to relatives of the former CEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Beverly Castillo. In the January 2 press release from the Commissioner of Lands, the [�]

GG rejects PUP's petition of Penner's recall - not enough valid signatures
The People's United Party is in the process of discussing their next move, after the Governor General, Sir Colville Young, Sr., rejected several of the signatures on their petition for the recall of incumbent, area representative,Elvin Penner in Cayo North East. Late last year, the PUP's Cayo Northeast standard bearer, [�]


San Ignacio Resort Hotel Renovations
The San Ignacio Resort Hotel, as you might have noticed, has been making some big renovations. New Year's Renovations, if you will. They're in the process of posting the pictures. The look on the inside is great, and the new look on the outside will be definitely be different. It looks like the final result will be beautiful. In related news, the Green Iguana Conservation Project has a like page: "Yes we are under construction! However our service and accommodations are still the BEST in the west. All of these images were taken 1/2/2014"

Kim Simplis Barrow Named Woman of the Year
Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, the Special Envoy for Women and Children, was named 'Woman of the Year' by Complexd Magazine. Congratulations, Mrs. Simplis Barrow, for a well deserved award! The picture is from the 2014 Inspiration Calendar and Agenda launch. "Starting the New Year with some great news! Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow is named Complexd Magazine's Woman of the Year 2013!"

International Sources

Ten Ways Air Travel Will Change in 2014
A few years of airline mega-mergers and consolidation (including the recent American and US Airways merger) have vastly changed the industry landscape. There's some good news in all this for fliers, as airlines turn their attention to modernizing their fleets and adding more inflight amenities. But fewer airlines could put more consumers at the mercy of just a couple of behemoth airlines. So what's in store for airline travelers in 2014? Here are ten ways flying will change in 2014: Security improves as TSA's PreCheck takes off, Air travel taxes head higher, Inflight Wi-Fi becomes ubiquitous, The seat squeeze gets worse, Airlines battle for bicoastal business fliers, Transatlantic budget airlines make a comeback, We finally get do-it-yourself bag tags, We pay more fees, Inflight phone calls are coming, whether we like it or not, Private jets get more affordable.

Cuba's classic cars set to disappear with rule change on new vehicle imports
President Ra�l Castro's council of ministers abolishes tight controls that forced most people to refit cars made before 1959. One of Cuba's most distinctive anachronisms - roads full of classic cars from the 1950s - looks set to fade into history following the most sweeping relaxation of vehicle imports since the revolution. For most of the past half century, Havana's traffic has been jammed with Pontiacs, Studebakers, Oldsmobiles, Chevrolets and Soviet imports as a result of tight domestic controls and US sanctions that made it difficult to buy parts and fuel. Only officials, doctors and others with government connections or proof of foreign exchange income were allowed to purchase new imported cars. Everyone else had to make do with buying, selling and refitting cars made before Fidel Castro took power in 1959. But in the latest of a series of economic reforms, the council of ministers headed by his brother - the current president, Ra�l Castro - on Friday abolished the need for permission and opened up the car market to all citizens. The Communist party's official newspaper, Granma, said the new regulations "eliminate existing mechanisms of approval for the purchase of motor vehicles from the state". The measure was partly designed to overcome public frustration at the old regulations, which gave an unfair economic advantage to those who could buy cars and sell them on the black market, often at four or five times the original price. Granma said the previous system created "resentment, dissatisfaction and, in not a few cases, led to speculation and enrichment".

Canadian missionary reportedly chopped up by machete-wielding thugs in Belize
Brian Townsend's body was found in Guatemala, just over the border from his adopted homeland of Belize. The missionary from Edmonton had spent nearly a decade working in the Valley of Peace. A Canadian missionary's body was discovered in Guatemala, reportedly covered in chop wounds from a machete. Brian Townsend's son identified his father after seeing photographs of the remains. The son had traveled to Central America from Canada on Dec. 28 hoping to find his dad alive. "This has been such an insane trip for me. You go searching for results and sometimes you dig farther than you want to dig," Kory Townsend told CTV. Brian Townsend had been working as a Christian missionary in Belize for the past nine years, building schools and friendships with people in the Valley of Peace. He was first reported missing on Christmas Day. The 64-year-old had hired a chef to cook a Christmas dinner and when she arrived, Brian's truck was missing and his house had been ransacked. The chef spotted a trail of blood outside the home and alerted the authorities. Back in Edmonton, his family members started to worry. The Townsends created a Facebook page "Brian Townsend Missing Belize" and tried to raise money so that son Kory Townsend could travel to Belize to search for his dad.

10 Best Caribbean shore excursions in the water
As you daydream about a Caribbean cruise vacation, there is likely clear-blue sea in the picture. Perhaps you see yourself sitting on a white-sand beach, frozen drink in hand watching the waves. But there are other ways to experience water on fun - and sometimes thrilling - shore excursions. Check out these water-based Caribbean excursions. Belize Put on a headlight for a cave tubing experience, as you follow your guide on a fascinating float through an underground limestone cave system, sacred to the Mayans. Views include stalactites and stalagmites that spectacularly emerge in the darkness.

What The Ancient Maya Can Teach Us About Living Well
In the modern world -- when technological advances and information overload have left many of us with a desire to get back to basics -- the need for ancient wisdom may be more important than ever before. Ancient health and healing secrets are making something of a resurgence, and for good reason. The ancient Greeks asked the big questions about what it means to live a good life, and some of their theories on ethics and happiness have been backed by modern science. Thousands of years ago, Indian sages developed a system for stilling the thoughts that's now practiced across America. The early Maya civilizations, too, developed healing systems that have influenced holistic healthcare to this day. The Maya civilization thrived for six centuries through areas that are now Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco, and Chiapas are in Mexico, as well as parts of Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala before collapsing mysteriously around 900 AD. The Mesoamerican civilization -- advanced in its art, architecture and mathematics -- may not have survived, but many of their secrets to good health, healing and living well are still alive to this day.

UN General Assembly: Tourism can foster sustainable development in Central America
Sustainable tourism is an ally of poverty eradication in Central America and the three dimensions of sustainable development - social, economic and environmental - as reflected in the UN resolution on "Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America". The 193-member UN General Assembly adopted the resolution unanimously during its 68th session. This represents an important step towards mainstreaming sustainable tourism in the international development agenda and the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (New York, USA, 22 December 2013). Emphasizing that sustainable tourism in Central America is a cross-cutting activity with close linkages to other sectors and thus generating trade opportunities, the UN General Assembly recognizes tourism as a fundamental pillar of regional integration and an engine of social and economic development, income, investment and hard currency in the region. The resolution further "encourages giving appropriate consideration to the issue of sustainable tourism in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda", which will follow the deadline of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Visit the unspoiled frontier of Belize
On the shores of the Caribbean Sea and nestled between Mexico and Guatemala, English speaking Belize marries spectacular waters, dramatic rain forests and a culturally rich heritage with a collection of barefoot beach retreats, luxurious yachts and hip jungle hideaways, making it one of the most unique, exciting and beautiful places to visit on the planet. Absolute Belize has crafted a gourmet tailor made voyage that takes you through the pristine azul Caribbean waters on a luxury yacht, into the lush rainforests of the Toledo district, your destination being an 'agro-eco-chic' retreat perched high in the verdant jungle canopy. The journey begins on your own private luxury 50ft catamaran, with just your skipper to raise the sails and your private chef to cook the catch. Sail to the most exclusive and untouched private islands that dot the barrier reef. Swim, snorkel, kayak, fish, spot dolphins or simply relax - you pick the tempo. The culinary highlights include collecting your conch from the ocean, making your own ceviche and spearfishing lobster with your guide, followed by a lobster cooking master class with your private chef.

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