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Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5 and CTV3
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

OPM Clarifies that the Unions Requested Meeting with the Prime Minister
The Office of the Prime Minister wishes to clarify that the Honorable Prime Minister did not request a meeting with the Union leaders as was stated by George Fraser, Senior Advisor to the BNTU, at the BNTU rally last Friday and carried by Channel 7 News. Fraser is quoted by Channel 7 as saying, "Just a while ago, not even half hour ago we got a phone call, the Prime Minister wants to meet with us." The facts are that in a letter dated January 8, 2014 the Unions' Negotiating Team wrote the Prime Minister asking for a meeting to discuss three areas of concern. After receiving assurance that the meeting was to be with the Union leaders only, and not the full Negotiating Team, the Prime Minister agreed to the meeting on the day suggested by the Unions which is January 30th, 2014.

Blues Dogs Blues Band sing for Holy Cross
What's better than delicious food and cold drinks on the beach with live music by the Blues Dogs? Enjoying all that and knowing it's for a good cause! On Sunday, January 26th, Estel's Dine by the Sea hosted the Colorado, USA band for the second time as they teamed up with local musicians to deliver great music and a lively fundraiser. In addition to Estel's lucky diners , several members of the Holy Cross staff and music fans came out to hear a bit of the blues while contributing to the worthy cause. The concert was a hit, as the total proceeds raised from the event earned $2,817.85.

BEL Launches 2014 Golden Citizen Electricity Bill Pay Program
Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) today presented awards to recipients of its 2014 Golden Citizens Electricity Bill Pay Award during a ceremony held this morning at the Company's Corporate Headquarters in Belize City. The 20 Golden Citizens awarded today represent only a portion of the approximately 160 randomly selected senior citizens countrywide, whose monthly electricity bill will be paid by BEL for an entire year. BEL's Golden Citizens Bill Pay Program is one of several initiatives through which the Company fulfills its new Mission "to provide reliable electricity at the lowest sustainable cost, stimulate national development and improve the quality of life in Belize." The remaining 140 awardees from across the country will be visited and presented with certificates at their homes during the next week.

PM Barrow cleans house following string of scandals
At its meeting today, Cabinet discussed thoroughly the highly publicized matter of cheques issued by the Belize Airports Authority (BAA) to politically assist Minister Hon. Edmond Castro.Cabinet was much assisted in its discussion by an informal report submitted to it by the BAA. Cabinet learned that only three cheques were issued in the personal name of Minister Castro. One of those was for per diem in the course of the Minister's official travel on BAA business, another was for assistance in burying the Minister's mother, and the third was to pay for assistance with sports in Belize Rural North. Cabinet was also informed that the other cheques not in Castro's name, but issued to help the Minister in his constituency, did not amount to even a quarter of the seventy alleged by the Opposition. After due consideration, including hearing from Minister Castro himself, Cabinet was of the view that while there was nothing illegal in the actions of either the BAA or the Minister, there was poor judgment leading to a perception of abuse of authority on both sides. In light of this, the Prime Minister took the following decisions:

Ambergris Today

UB Continues To Train Leaders To Transform Belize's National Development
A total of 481 graduates received diplomas at the Associate, Bachelor, Certificate and Diploma levels at the University Of Belize Eighteenth Commencement Exercises on Saturday, January 25, 2014, at the University's Central Campus, Belmopan. Of the total number of graduates 307 were females and 174 males representing 63.8 and 36.2 per cent respectively. The Award of Academic Excellence in all Bachelor Degree Programs was presented to Nelson Joevanie Amaya, who scored a 3.96 GPA with a Bachelors of Science in Spanish Education.

Misc Belizean Sources

Save Ms. Elena
Help us save her life!!! Keep informed on how you can help! Ms. Elena Chee is a single mother of three. Kristy, Karissa and Kyrone need your help to save their mom. If you live on the Island of San Pedro, chances are you have seen or know Ms. Elena. She worked for 14 years at the Jade Garden before dedicating 9 long years to serving us all at Elvi's Kitchen. Help us keep her alive!!! To donate blood please see Nurse Madril at the blood bank next to the KHMH. You may deposit to Belize Bank Acc # 670-01-1-014387 or donate at Belize Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Center in Belize City. Elvi's staff is holding a fundraiser (radioton) and selling food tomorrow. The Elvi's Kitchen Staff is raffling a stove at $10 per ticket! The winner will be chosen on the San Pedro Morning show on January 31st! PLEASE HELP!

FISHING REPORT: Week of January 19th - 25th, 2014
Only a few boats went out in the beginning of the week as the wedding party departed leaving an empty lodge behind for a few days. Our Orvis Group arrived on Thursday with 10 anglers ready to learn the art and science of bonefishing. A half day seminar followed by 3 -1/2 days fishing overlapping into next week is off to a great start. Thanks to Orvis' Vincent C. for his help and efforts making the seminar a blast.

National Protected Areas Presentation
Please take note of the invitation to a presentation for the National Protected Areas System this Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 at the Sun Breeze Conference Room. Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development

The Cartel-Like Nature of Belize's Political Ruling Class. A Deformed Democracy to a Kleptocracy
by: Hubert Pipersburgh Both Political parties in Belize have developed over the decades since independence a flawless blueprint to ensure the relative success of the individual party. They have both colluded to perfect a clientele spoils system of machine politics that will ensure that the nepotism, cronyism, and subjugation to a deformed system continues unabated. Both parties nibble around the periphery with a few cosmetic adaptations and amendments here are there, which only sort to guarantee the continuation of the status quo and their priveledge place in it. This system of patronage and handouts inherited from our colonial masters reinforced under self-government, is now an institutionalize pattern of dependency and limited participation in the affairs of the state by its people. The model fostered is a form of democracy without the genuine participation of the people. However, it is now effectively a kleptocracy, a form of government in which no outside oversight is possible. An all powerful prime minister that enjoys demigod status, control both the supply of public funds and the means of determining their disbursal.

Candidates are invited to submit their resume for consideration

A Story of Resistance in Belize
The exhibition entitled 'A Story of Resistance in Belize' is back at the SISE House of Culture. It opened this week. If you missed it last time, you have around a month to see it this time.

UB Graduation - January 2014
The University of Belize had their 18th Commencement exercise over the weekend, and they got a plethora of great pictures. Ms. Kay Menzies gave the keynote address, and it's worth a read. Congratulations, UB students, and best of luck in the world! "A total of 481 graduates received diplomas at the Associate, Bachelor, Certificate and Diploma levels at the University of Belize Eighteenth Commencement Exercises on January 25, at the University's Central Campus, Belmopan. Of the total number of graduates 307 were females and 174 males representing 63.8 and 36.2 per cent respectively. The Award of Academic Excellence in all Bachelor Degree Programs was presented to Nelson Joevanie Amaya, who scored a 3.96 GPA with a Bachelors of Science in Spanish Education."

Wingstop Comes to Burns Avenue
Cayo has a Wing Stop now. It's on Burns avenue, across from Flayva's, and has been open around a week and a half. They have some great wings and burgers, and are the new downtown hot spot on weekends. It's great to see good businesses opening downtown. "Cayo has a Wingstop Restaurant and Bar now. They have great wings at a good price, and their bar is well stocked, with bartenders that know what they're doing. It's a popular spot on weekends now that the vibe on Burns has changed for the better."

Cruise on the BAY
The Belmopan Active Youths are having their 'Cruise on the BAY' fundraiser on Valentine's weekend. They'll have Panerrifix and DJ Karizma there for entertainment. The boat leaves at 6:00pm from Old Belize. Call 602-4812 for more information. "Cruise on the BAY! Support the Belmopan Active Youths Fundraiser!"

Belize People's Front and VIP on the Hubert Pipersburgh Show
Featured guests are Nefretery Nancy Marin of the Belize People's Front and Hubert Enriquez of the VIP.. The two leaders of these parties will share with us their vision for Belize's future.

23 Reasons Why I Love San Pedro, Belize
San Pedro definitely wasn't love at first sight. I despised the garbage along the beach, the seemingly looking "run-down" town, and the millions of no-see-ums/mosquitoes (the reason why I was so itchy all god-damn week). But after my week or so there, I finally realized why Madonna dubbed this island "La Isla Bonita". Sure, the palms and beautiful blue skies were easy on the eyes, but the island called to me in a deeper way than any other, say like Maui or St. Lucia. It was just different. Tons of character in every direction. The longer I stayed there the more I felt I was connecting with the island. I had met so many people coming back year after year, bringing their families and small kids. It finally made sense. And when I sat down and actually thought about my newfound love with this tiny blip of land in the ocean, I discovered what my life is truly missing- the stress-free island life atmosphere.

Channel 7

Cabinet Thunderclap!: BAA Board Fired, Castro Stripped, Penner Stripped
For weeks the pressure has been mounting on the Belize Airport Authority and Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport, Edmund Castro. And today, that pressure finally reached Cabinet- which has acted decisively to close the stable door, even if it's long after the horses have bolted. First off, the entire Belize Airports Authority Board chaired by Barbara Miller is being required to resign. Second, the portfolio for the Department of Civil Aviation, which has responsibility for Airports, is being removed from the Ministry of Transport and is being put under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, with Manuel Juniour Heredia. This is the equivalent of stripping Castro of the ministry. This was confirmed in a rare Cabinet Release that came out an hour ago. Holding the official line of wrongdoing but not corruption, it says, quote, "After due consideration, including hearing from Minister Castro himself, Cabinet was of the view that while there was nothing illegal in the actions of either the BAA or the Minister, there was poor judgment leading to a perception of abuse of authority on both sides." End quote.

Incarcerated Lawman's Family Distraught, Destroyed
Last night, 7News told you about the dramatic, unexpected outcome in the case of Corporal Gino Peck who was convicted of firearm offenses in the Magistrate's Court. He remains at the Belize Central Prison tonight, while awaiting sentencing. He will learn on Friday how much years he's going to get. While Peck endures that agony of grim foreboding, he has a wife and 5 children, 4 of which depend on him as the breadwinner. Their lives have been thrown into ruin by the guilty verdict - a verdict they never could have expected would befall a career lawman. His family invited 7News into their Belize City home today, and they spoke with Daniel Ortiz about the case and about who Peck really is:

Pickwoad's Win Interim Victory
A week ago, 7News told you about the Supreme Court case that aspiring politician Beverly Castillo was caught up in. She was accused of orchestrating a land grab on Chetumal Street just before she left office of CEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources. Bernadette Pickwoad, a Belizean American, claims that Castillo used her influence to have her lease cancelled and then then transferred to Castillo's son and mother, Mervin Castillo and Maud Williams. Beverly Castillo continues to fervently deny the allegation, and the Commissioner of Lands has spoken to 7News explaining that the lease was lawfully revoked because Pickwoad violated the terms. Audrey Matura-Shepherd, attorney for Bernadette Pickwoad, got an injunction to stop Castillo, her son, and her mother from making any further developments on the land to try to strengthen their claim to it.

Football Fight Continues Off-Field
Last night we showed you the tumultuous finish of the Premier League Playoff game in Benque Viejo at the Marshalleck Stadium. Tonight, the after effects are just coming on. We have learned that Verdes is protesting the outcome of the game. And that's because #32 for FC Belize Michael Hernandez was allegedly registered in two leagues, which is not permitted. 7News has learned that he played in the Mayor's Cup in July, which was not an FFB sanctioned event, but Verdes argues that still he was not eligible to play on Sunday night. As we showed you he came on as a late substitute and scored the winning goal.

Eric Chang Goes Back To Taiwan; Mayor Not Amused
Eric Chang, we've not reported on him since December of last year, 7 weeks ago, when we made yet another failed interview request of him. Well, the mayor confirmed today that he intends to leave the country once again, to return to Taiwan. Chang has a vested interest in that country because that's where his family lives, but because he was in Taiwan when Citizen Kim's bogus passport was delivered, the strong suspicion is that he was the one who brokered the deal. Chang has refused or ignored all interview requests for him to answer to the allegations, even at the urging of his boss, Mayor Darrell Bradley, who has repeatedly encouraged him to make a public statement.

PM Puts Fraser "To Right"
If you watched the news on Friday - you'll recall the angry, bitter and just downright mean words that BNTU senior advisor George Fraser had for education minister Patrick Faber. And if you missed it, the Prime Minister didn't. He certainly listened to this line:.. George Fraser, BNTU Senior Advisor "Just a while ago, not even half hour ago we got a phone call, the Prime Minister wants to meet with us. I don't know about what, but when the heat di come on and they deh under fire, let him meet with Patrick and tell him to behave himself, little boy." So, from that you'd conclude that the PM hurriedly called for a meeting because, in Fraser's words, he was "feeling the heat." Well, yesterday the Office of the Prime Minister sent out a release to make it clear that it's no such thing.

FCD: Caracol Incursion Is Serious
On Friday night's new we also spoke to Rafael Manzanero about the felling of trees right near to the Caracol road. It's a most disturbing incursion because that is the heart of the archaeological park - and the trees were some of the largest in the area - mostly because prior to this no Guatemalan poacher would have dared go so close to a clear sign of Belize's civil authority. But two weeks ago, they did. The spot is only four miles from the Guatemala border in northern Chiquibul and tonight Rafael Manzanero discusses the seriousness of this incursion in greater detail. Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director - FCD "We are looking at over a dozen of trees that were cut in a period of less than 3 weeks. The most aspect of the concern is because it is very close. In fact the trees that were cut less that 2 weeks ago they actually were dropped right over the highway; over the road. We are actually talking about no more than 1.5 miles from the Caracol center."

BAA Board Takes Down Kenworth, Before Getting Taken Out
Today in cabinet, it was like thunder struck. The entire board of the Belize airports Authority was required to resign immediately. This in the wake of revelations that cheques had been issued to its Minister Of State Edmund Castro and his various political interests. But, there's more. During the course of this newscast we've confirmed that in its last act, the Board reportedly fired Airports Authority General Manager Kenworth Tillett. We have been reliably informed of this though there are varying reports. Of course, the board did not know that would be its last act when it moved to fire Tillett this morning. And yesterday board member Lindsey Garbutt - unaware of that fate that awaited him today - came forward to bite the bullet, take the heat for the Board's dubious decisions. First off, he explained those Castro Cheques... Jules Vasquez "How did you feel when the Prime Minister said that if he were member of the board when these wrong and distasteful checks were being issued, how did that make you feel?"

Will NCL EIA Have to Go Back To The Drawing Board?
The National Environmental Appraisal Committee was supposed to meet tomorrow to discuss the NCL Project for Harvest Caye, but there are reliable reports reaching 7News tonight that it this meeting has been postponed until a later date. That's because the public concerns raised at the EIA public consultation meeting on last week Wednesday in Independence have highlighted many environmental concerns that the developer has not properly dealt with in their EIA. Yesterday, an organization called Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development sent out a release criticizing the EIA for its inadequate details on the project's daily water usage, the effects of dredging needed, the destruction which will take place on Harvest Caye, the effects of the operation of the cruise ships, and its socio-economic impacts.

BEL Gives Senior Citizens
One hundred and sixty senior citizens from across the country have been awarded one year of free electricity courtesy the Belize Electricity Limited. It is a part of BEL's Golden Citizens Bill Pay Program which was launched in 2012. An award ceremony was held this morning for 20 of the persons selected from Belize City. Monica Bodden reporting This morning the Belize Electricity Limited presented 20 Golden Citizens from Belize City with awards for payment of one full year's worth of electricity. Hector Vallejo - Customer Care Rep. "We are here this morning to present 20 golden citizens from Belize City with award for payment of one year full worth of electricity courtesy of BEL. These citizens are here only representing a fraction of the 160 golden citizens across the country who are being randomly selected to receive this special gift. BEL's golden citizen bill pay program is one of several initiatives through which the company fulfills its new mission to provide reliable electricity at the lowest sustainable cost to stimulate national development and improve the quality of life in Belize. We are also proud to introduce this program publicly as one that has evolved like many others out of our employees to reach out in meaningful ways to make a difference in others in the community we serve."

How to Get a Taiwanese Scholarship
The Taiwanese Embassy is once again accepting applications for its scholarship program for Belizean students to go study in that country. Today, the Embassy hosted their annual scholarship briefing, and 7News attended. Here's what the Taiwanese Ambassador told us about how you can get into the programme: H.E. David Wu, Taiwan Ambassador to Belize "Today is the briefing for the year 2014 scholarships awarded by Taiwan. There are 2 kinds of scholarships; one is called ICDF, that's stands for International Cooperation and Development Fund and this program will be taught in English and it will be divided into post-graduate and under-graduate. Last year we had 21 students who were awarded this ICDF scholarship. The other one is called the Taiwan Scholarship. This scholarship is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan and this program is study is Mandarin Chinese. For those who speak English when they go to study in Taiwan for this scholarship, they need to learn one extra year of Mandarin in the language center."

Channel 5

G.O.B. takes action on the Castro Cheques Scandal: the Belize Airport Authority Board to resign
Late this evening, Cabinet issued a release in response to an ongoing check scandal involving U.D.P. Minister of State Edmond Castro and the Belize Airports Authority. Castro came under fire [...]

Penner stripped of government vehicle, while Marilyn Williams to chair Integrity Commission
Also included in the lengthy Cabinet release is word that disgraced former Minister of State Elvin Penner will be stripped of his government vehicle. He has had it, and enjoyed [...]

Chief Justice issues decision on Pickwoad land dispute; injunction stands
Since December, a prime parcel of land located on Chetumal Street has been the center of intense legal dispute. In a nutshell, the piece of land in Belama Phase One [...]

PM says he's not fazed by teachers who asked for a meeting on Thursday despite a scheduled rally
Teachers held their largest rally to date in San Ignacio last Friday, and it was also the most focused, on the Prime Minister and his Minister of Education Patrick Faber. [...]

Show me the money; PM says salary adjustments for teachers uncertain
The Prime Minister wasn't quite finished there. He then turned to the issue of the salary adjustment, because he maintains that for teachers, it's really all about the money despite [...]

Was the issuance of BAA cheques to Minister Castro corrupt or distasteful?
Tonight's question is: Do you think the issuance of cheques by the BAA on behalf of Minister of State Castro is corrupt or distasteful? Send your comments and responses using [...]

Mayor Bradley says he's still unsure of Councilor Chang's role in immigration scandal
Councilor Eric Chang has been in the hot seat in respect of the immigration scandal. Chang allegedly had a role in the passport issued to Won Hong Kim, the South [...]

Belize City Mayor says Castro cheques scandal is distasteful
Cabinet has issued its official proclamation on the Castro check situation, basically exonerating the U.D.P. Minister of State from all-wrongdoing, but asking the BAA Board to resign. But today, Belize [...]

Darrell Bradley still has his sights on Central Government
And from City Hall to Central Government, where Bradley has set his sights�the young politician has stated that he will throw his hat into the ring for higher office. He [...]

National Elite Basketball League Tournament to be aired live on Channel 5
After years in hiatus, senior male basketball is back. A national elite tournament kicks off on February seventh with the first game to be played in the city. There are [...]

2 men freed of murder charge
Tonight, two men who were on trial for the gruesome murder of Rudolfo Villatoro were freed of the charge. After deliberating for hours, a jury of twelve on Monday afternoon [...]

Taiwanese Embassy holds scholarship applications briefing
Scholarships for Taiwan generally attract scores of applicants; aside from earning a degree it provides students with the chance of learning Mandarin. This year, high school and sixth form students [...]

UB's 18th Commencement Exercise; 481 graduate
The University of Belize came under scrutiny last year because its president, Doctor Cary Fraser, resigned effective the end of the academic year 2014, but then took leave. There has [...]

156 golden citizens receive the Electricity Bill Pay Award
The Golden Citizens Electricity Bill Pay Award - it's an initiative put in place by B.E.L. in 2011 to benefit golden citizens all over the country. It all started with [...]

A huge scoop of ice cream from The Ice Cream Shoppe
Scoops ice cream was once an all time favorite where family and friends went for a special treat. Well that simply delicious and decadent ice cream is back at its [...]


Belizean Students Briefed on Requirements of Taiwan Scholarships
Several high school and university graduates gathered at the Chateau Caribbean earlier today to be briefed on the details of an estimated 25 scholarships that will be awarded through the Embassy of the Republic of China on Taiwan. Ambassador to Belize, David Wu told Love News that the gesture from his country to ours is a sign of goodwill that seeks to strengthen our already good diplomatic relations. He explained that the scholarships fall under two categories for the scholars. DAVID WU "To apply for the scholarship to study in Taiwan has become a big event for many graduates either from the high school or university. Last year we awarded twenty six Belizean applicants and they are now studying in Taiwan; half for undergraduate and half for post graduate. Again, I believe that there will be between twenty three to twenty five full scholarships that will be awarded. There are two kinds of scholarship; the ICDF scholarship is taught in English and the Taiwan Scholarship is taught in Mandarin Chinese. For those who want to take the Mandarin program will have to study an extra year to learn Mandarin first and they will go to the language centre where they have good tutors who teach Mandarin.

Belize City Mayor Weighs in on Issue of Airport Funds
Mayor Bradley also weighed in on Belize Rural North Area Representative, Edmund Castro's latest scandal. Castro is accused of inappropriately using the funds of the Belize Airport Authority for personal and political use. While Prime Minister Dean Barrow has stated that it is distasteful but not corruption, Mayor Bradley says that the allegations against Castro are affecting the United Democratic Party. DARRELL BRADLEY "I haven't followed that situation very closely but I have made this statement very clearly; no Government can perform effectively unless there are principles of good administration, unless the people at the very top adhere to the highest levels of ethical conduct. It is something that is distasteful; it is something that causes a scourge on the administration and on the UDP on a whole. I am a UDP and I want to know that every single member of my party is doing things on behalf of members of the public and we don't really get side tracked by these allegations; we are doing a lot of work in the City, the Central Government is doing a significant amount of work both in the city and countrywide and I think that these things just detract from the good work of the Government and it is very unfortunate and it is very distasteful."

Mayor Bradley Still Hopes Councilor Chang Would Clear His Name
When Belize City Councilor Eric Chang returned to the country after being accused of having part in facilitating Kim Wong Hong a visa, Love News attempted to obtain a comment from Chang on numerous occasion. We did so to give Chang an opportunity to clear his name but he refused. We spoke to Chang last month but he told us that he would rather not comment and let the allegations fade away. He did, however; sent a correspondent to Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley in which he explained that his extended stay in Taiwan was as a result if his ailing grandfather. Well the news tonight is that Chang, who was demoted from Deputy Mayor with several responsibilities to a councillor with no responsibility, is out of the country, allegedly to Taiwan. Mayor Bradley spoke about it. DARRELL BRADLEY "He didn't get permission to leave; the situation is that since he had returned on the last occasion, we have tried to reintegrate him back into the City Council and it is my responsibility to ensure that he is performing his duties and that he is acting in accordance with his oath of office as a City Councillor and we have been working with him to integrate him back but at the present time, we understand that he is not in the country."

Corozal Woman Caught Stealing Wipes and Deodorant in Chetumal
Corozal resident Marisol Cortez was caught stealing from a store in neighboring Chetumal, Mexico. Cortez is being accused of attempting to steal 24 deodorants and a box of wipes. A Mexican newspaper reports that theft has been the most recorded crime in Chetumal and several Belizeans have been the culprits. Reports are that Mexican police were called after the store's employees had Cortez detained. The Manager Francisco Bojorquez handed Cortez to authorities and was taken to the Public Prosecutor of the Common Jurisdiction where she was charged for theft.

Cabinet Strips Penner of Government Vehicle; Directors of Airport Authority Asked to Resign
Cabinet met today and quite a bit of news came out of today's session. The matter of Edmund Castro receiving cheques from the Belize Airports Authority was discussed. After hearing from Castro Cabinet was of the view that while there was nothing illegal in the actions of either the BAA or the Minister, there was poor judgment leading to a perception of abuse of authority on both sides. In light of this the portfolio of Civil Aviation, which includes the Belize Airports Authority and over which Castro exercised day to day jurisdiction, will be removed from the Ministry of Transport and placed with the Ministry of Tourism, the Solicitor General and the Financial Secretary will meet with all Statutory Bodies to review operational protocols and advise on proper administration and the current Directors of the BAA will be asked to resign. Ex-Minister Elvin Penner is asked to turn in the Government vehicle he has and will also lose the chairmanship of that House Committee on Public Utilities, Transport and Communications. The Prime Minister, as Minister of Finance, has instructed the Financial Secretary to require every Area Representative account for the $2,300 monthly allocation provided for constituency office rental and secretarial services. Following the consultations between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, the new Integrity Commission to be chaired by ex-FIU Director Marilyn Williams, has been agreed and will be formally constituted at next month's sitting of the Senate.

Murder Case of Son of Belmopan’s Mayor Goes to Trial
The trial for the man accused of killing Aubrey Lopez began today in the Supreme Court of Justice Adolph Lucas. Lead prosecutor, Kaysha Grant called her first witness. The allegations being made by the crown is that on May 12, 2010, Paul Jex was one of many persons who was inside the vehicle of Aubrey Lopez when he was murdered. He is believed to have been the trigger man who shot him and threw him out of his own vehicle, leaving him to die on Prince Street. According to Grant, Lopez left his girlfriend's home driving in her blue Maxima car and headed to E. P. Yorke High School to socialize with friends. After socializing, Lopez left the compound at around 11:00 p.m., but after he left E P Yorke, he met up with the accused, Paul Jex and others who boarded his car and upon reaching Prince Street, Lopez was shot in the head and his body shoved out of the vehicle. Later that same night, two officers on patrol in the city, saw Lopez's blue Maxima car and the police set chase from Central American Boulevard and caught up with it on West Collect Canal and Jex was found inside. A jury of seven men and five women were selected this morning to hear the case. Prosecutor Grant is being assisted in this trial by two other newly appointed crown council of the DPP's office, they are Shanice Lovelle and Porshia Staine. Paul Jex is represented in the murder trial by Attorney, Tricia Pitts-Anderson.

A Tale of An 83-Year-Old Woman Propels Benefits for Senior Citizens
Today the Belize Electricity Limited, BEL, extended its social assistance to the public to 20 of the country's senior citizens. Overall, some 160 senior residents countrywide benefit from its Golden Citizen Program. The company's Customer Care Representative, Hector Villaje, explains how the program works. Hector Villaje "BEL's Golden Citizen program is one of several initiatives through which the company fulfills its new mission, to provide reliable electricity at the lowest sustainable cost, stimulate national development and improve the quality of life in Belize. We are also proud to introduce this program publicly as one that has evolved like many others out of the passion of our employees to reach out in meaningful ways to make a difference for others in the community that we serve. BEL employees who interact with customers on a daily basis have come to see the various circumstances being faced by some of our golden citizens when trying to meet or make payment of their electricity bill. An inspiring incident that occurred in our Customer Care Department in 2011 was the catalyst for this program. In 2011, an eighty three year old woman visited our office to pay her account as her electricity had been disconnected for nonpayment and not having paid her bill for some time.

University of Belize Graduates 481
A total of 481 graduates received diplomas at the Associate, Bachelor, Certificate and Diploma levels at the University of Belize Eighteenth Commencement Exercises on January 25, at the University's Central Campus, Belmopan. The Award of Academic Excellence in all Bachelor Degree Programs was presented to Nelson Joevanie Amaya, who scored a 3.96 GPA with a Bachelors of Science in Spanish Education. The Award of Academic Excellence in all Associates Degree Program was presented to Brianni Grace Hyde who achieved the highest overall GPA score of 3.83 in Biology. And, the Award of Academic Excellence in a Certificate/Diploma Program was presented to Trisha Monique Hulse-Silva scoring the highest overall for Certificate/ Diploma with a GPA of 3.95 graduating with a Diploma in Education Methodology. The awards were presented by Chairman of the UB Board of Trustees Harrison Pilgrim. Guest Speaker, President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kay Menzies in her Keynote Address outlined ten ingredients of success, and also made reference of the clarion call embedded in the mission and vision of UB for its graduates to contribute to the development of Belize. The Acting President of the University of Belize, Dr Wilma Wright, congratulated the graduates for their dedication, commitment and achievement. Since its inception on 1st August 2000, there has been close to 7,000 graduates from the University of Belize.

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Castro Scandal Damaging Government's Image, says Mayor
The Mayor also briefly touched on the scandal enveloping fellow UDP and Minister of State for Transport Edmund "Clear the Land" Castro, accused of obtaining thousands of dollars of public funds belonging to the Belize Airports Authority for his personal use in his constituency of Belize Rural North. As...

Cabinet Removes Belize Airport Authority from Castro's Portfolio, Asks Directors to Resign
Today, Cabinet made the decision to remove the Belize Airport Authority from the Junior Minister's portfolio and request that the Directors of the Authority step down. In a release today, Cabinet states that the resolution came after thoroughly discussing the "highly publicized matter of cheques issued by the Belize...

Penner's Ministerial Perks Stripped by Cabinet, Integrity Commission to be Constituted
But that's not all the housekeeping that Cabinet did today, in fact, the Prime Minister has required ex-Minister Elvin Penner to turn in the Government vehicle that he kept, after removal from Cabinet. As Chair of a House Committee. Hon. Penner will also lose the chairmanship of that House...

Three Men Acquitted of the 2009 Murder of Mr. Rudolfo Villatoro
Three men from the south were today freed of the 2009 murder of Rudolfo Villatoro. Villatoro was decapitated and mutilated and his body disposed of in a latrine pit. A week ago, a no case submission made by defendant, Gilbert Lamb resulted in his freedom. We understand that Lamb...

Streets Being Paved in Belmopan
After the Public Accounts Committee meeting which took place on Friday, we spoke with Hon. John Saldivar, Representative of Belmopan. There have been major works done in Belmopan on some of the residential streets and other Belmopan City roads. The Area representative says several streets have been paved, several...

Isidoro Beaton Stadium to Receive Major Facelift
Football fans will feel glad to hear that there is to be a complete face lift of the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan. According to the Belmopan Area Representative, the contract for the project has been awarded to an architecture firm and the design phase of the project is...

Speedy Trial for Pickwood Land Dispute
Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin has chosen to continue an injunction he issued last December on activity at the parcel of land, located corner Albert Hoy Avenue and Chetumal Boulevard in Belama Phase I, Belize City. The land is the subject of a dispute between former leaseholder Bernadette Pickwood and...

Police Corporal Facing 5 Years Sentence for Ammunition Convictions
A Police Corporal is facing a possible 5 year sentence, after he was convicted of possession of unlicensed ammunition and prohibited ammunition. The Gang Suppression Unit, in January of 2012, conducted a search of the residence of 40 year old Gino Peck, where they uncovered a 9 mm. pistol,...

Taiwanese Scholarships Available to Belizeans
For Belizeans seeking the next level in academic achievement, it is often difficult to find finance to pursue studies in their chosen field. The Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Belize is launching its annual program of scholarships to Belizeans, including the ICDF (International Cooperation and Development...


The constant rains and the muddy grounds of San Ignacio's Macal River Park could not deter the more than 500 teachers from the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) Belmopan, San Ignacio and Benque branches. They came out here to express themselves on Friday morning, as the BNTU continues its month-long, countrywide rallies. Gathered under six tents, some lining the perimeter of the park, decked out in their lime green T-shirts with the slogan: "Teachers gat yu back," the teachers appeared to be in a jovial mood, as speaker after speaker castigated the Barrow administration and, in particular, Education Minister, Patrick Faber, who bore the brunt of their indignation after his controversial remarks on Wednesday during the House meeting. The BNTU, when it announced its month-long rallies, had said that the union rallies would also address national issues, apart from the salary adjustment issue it has been negotiating with the government for years.

A businessman of Ranchito Village lost the fight for his life at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, where he died at about 1:30 Saturday morning after battling for his life for almost a month. Hensley Jones, 53, was shot in the head about 10:00 on the night of New Year's Day in his house in Ranchito, Corozal, by his son, Ryan Jones, 25, said police. Hensley was shot in the left side of the head and in the back of the head. Police said that Hensley and Ryan were in the kitchen of their house when Ryan shot his father for reasons unknown, and fled the house in a SUV.

Police Corporal #259 Gino Peck, 42, a 22-year veteran of the Belize Police Department who was found with illegal ammunition, has been remanded to prison until Friday, when he is to return to court with his attorney, who will make a mitigation plea before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith sentences him. On Monday, Peck was found guilty on two counts of keeping ammunition without a gun license, and one count of keeping prohibited ammunition, but his attorney, Simeon Sampson, S.C., asked the court for time to prepare a mitigation plea. Amendments to the Firearms Act have introduced stiffer penalties, with a minimum prison sentence of five years each for the .38 ammunition and the 12-gauge cartridges, and an additional three years for the prohibited .45 round.

Police say that a girl, 16, reported to them that she was raped by her 16-year-old boyfriend's older brother, 21. The girl also told police that she had been engaging in sex with her boyfriend, the 16-year-old brother. The two brothers were released on bail of $5,000 each on Friday after they were charged with sexual assault. In the presence of his father, the 16-year-old was charged with unlawful carnal knowledge for engaging in sexual acts with his girlfriend, despite the fact that he and the girl are the same age, while his older brother, Rolando Espat, who was arrested on Wednesday, was charged with rape and grievous harm.

This week Parliament is expected to set a program of national consultations to garner public feedback on the recently tabled Occupational Safety and Health Bill (OSH), 2014 - a 72-page bill which, for the first time, sets out clear provisions which would make it a criminal offence for an employer to endanger the health of its worker, but which would also make workers criminally liable for failure to take protective precautions, or for creating risky situations to disrupt work. Under the proposed law, workers would be protected from injury to the body and from diseases, and employers would be required to "implement an effective system for the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases, ill health and damage to property at workplaces." The Occupational Safety and Health Bill, 2014, was created "to make new provisions relating to occupational safety and health of workers, of other persons at work or other persons affected by such work�"

Despite intermittent showers and deplorable sugar road surfaces, the sweet smell of sugar permeated the air in Tower Hill this morning as hundreds of sugar cane farmers, primarily from the San Narciso branch in Corozal, covered the entranceway to the factory with their cane trucks, which were loaded with freshly harvested sugar cane stalks - ready to be milled. After being deferred for eight weeks for various reasons - including persistent rains and a bagasse dispute to which there had been no resolution since late last October - the 2013/2014 sugar cane crop season finally got underway at 10:00 a.m. today. It was a bittersweet moment for the ca�eros, who told us that although they are glad to get the mounting yields of crop 'off their back', many of them must also endure unimaginable road conditions in order to get their product delivered to the factory.

This newspaper's editorials are where we seek to educate the Belizean people. In most of the rest of the newspaper, our focus is on information and entertainment. In feature stories over the last year or so, our reporters, columnists, and contributors have discussed the unraveling of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) where its moral authority is concerned. Amandala has covered, and quite adequately we think, the rosewood scandal, the Noh Mul incident, the Social Investment Fund (SIF) problems, the meltdown in the Ministry of Lands, the Penner criminality, the Castro adventures, and so on and so forth. In our editorials, however, we spend more time looking at the deeper issues, such as neoliberal capitalism, the role of Christianity, Belize's trade union history in the modern era, the nature of our parliamentary democracy, and so on and so forth.

As we approach the 45th anniversary of the founding of the United Black Association for Development (UBAD), I think it desirable to update the present leadership structure of Kremandala and the UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF). UBAD was officially dissolved in November of 1974, but over the years I'd made a conscious effort to run things in such a way that those Belizeans who contributed their time and energy to UBAD, which was the parent organization of Kremandala and UEF, would feel that they had not wasted their UBAD time and energy. I've said before that UBAD essentially went through five phases between its founding on February 9th, 1969, and its November 1974 dissolution. The first phase lasted from its foundation until October of 1969, when the remainder of the UBAD leadership made an alliance with the People's Action Committee (PAC), led by Assad Shoman and Said Musa. I say the "remainder" of the UBAD leadership because several of the UBAD officials who had been major personalities in the sensational summer of '69, had migrated to the United States by October of that year. These included Robert Livingston, Edgar X Richardson, and Karl X Menzies (all now deceased). Two other UBAD personalities who were not elected officers, Bert Simon (now Nuri Muhammad) and Odinga Lumumba, also migrated during that period. Bert Simon returned to California and Odinga returned to England.

Former Belize City deputy mayor Eric Chang has pretty much remained out of the public spotlight for the last few months since he was named by multiple highly-placed sources as the man who brokered the deal in last September to get the South Korean fugitive, Kim Won Hong, his bogus Belizean passport which, in turn, resulted in former Minister of State, Hon. Elvin Penner, being sacked from Cabinet. He had left the country on September 3, 2013, for an official visit to Taiwan, and after a seemingly unwarranted, extended stay - which eventually cost him his position as deputy mayor and his City Council portfolios - Chang returned to Belize 12 weeks later, in late November of 2013. At the time, he had stated that his prolonged absence was due to an illness in his family.

For the past two weeks, we have been following the story concerning Seashore Drive Park in the Caribbean Shores area of Belize City, which until recently had been labeled as "Ground Zero" in a land dispute between the current City Council and Giovanni Blease - a landowner who allegedly has UDP connections. Last Wednesday, during a break from the Special Sitting of the House of Representatives, the current Caribbean Shores area representative, Hon. Santiago Castillo, had commented that he (Castillo) "brought it [the issue] to Cabinet on Tuesday [January 21st]," and that "the PM told the Deputy Prime Minister to find another piece of land for Giovanni Blease or compensate him [for the said parcel]."

The annual sugar crop season will get off to an unfavorably late start, and although the sugar cane farmers have agreed to start cane deliveries this Friday, they are still facing a rough and rugged road ahead - actually a lot of rough and rugged roads. Earlier this week, we had reported that the start of the 2013/2014 sugar crop season had been postponed yet again for another four days to facilitate the repair works that are currently being conducted on the badly battered sugar road networks in the northern districts. On Tuesday, Amandala headed north to get a firsthand view of the state of some of those vital passageways which have also partly contributed to the delay of the crop season. During a press conference in late November 2013, the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow, placed an ultimatum to the embattled cane farmers when he vowed not to do any repairs to those roads unless a date for the start of the crop season was established.

Although there is almost universal access to water services in Belize, almost 90% of Belizeans have no access to sewage services, according to a report released earlier this month by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). "As for sewerage collection and treatment, only 11 percent of Belize's population� has access to sewerage services, which include both wastewater collection and treatment", said a recently released technical note published by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) titled, Water and Sanitation in Belize. The technical note, which was prepared to support the policy dialogue between the IDB and Belize, adds that in rural areas, access to sanitation primarily involves the use of pit latrines and septic tanks. Connections to the sewer line have primarily been set up in Belize City, Belmopan, and San Pedro.

A road map signed by Belize and Guatemala at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Friday, January 24, 2014, sets out a 12-month program of activities, to culminate with subsequent review to determine the possibility of holding simultaneous referenda in 2015, so that the electorates of both countries could vote on whether the parties should submit the territorial differendum to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). According to the OAS, the main objective of the roadmap signed Friday is "the strengthening of the bilateral relationship between the two countries during 2014 in order to make concrete the holding of popular consultations to enable the consideration of the territorial dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ)." The vote which was slated for last October was aborted after Guatemala unilaterally pulled out of the process, claiming that Belize's referendum law, which requires that 60% of the electorate participate to make the vote valid, does not create a level playing field to secure a "yes" vote.

A house owner on Lakeview Street, Radiance Tablada, is very grateful to her neighbors, whose quick reaction today saved her house from being destroyed by fire. Neighbors and members of the family who were at home at the time quickly threw water on the flames that erupted from an extension cord that had caught fire and was scorching the wall, and which damaged a portion of her sofa. The fire was soon extinguished. The incident occurred about 3:30 this afternoon. Tablada told Amandala that she and some family members were at home when the extension cord that was plugged into an outlet, into which the refrigerator was plugged, suddenly began to burn and emit smoke. The cord was near the sofa and the window, and the curtains on the window began to catch fire. According to Tablada, she quickly shut off the switch box so that the fire would not intensify.

Two separate fires destroyed a house in San Roman in the Stann Creek District, and destroyed the interior of the upper flat of a two-flat house on Miller Street in Belize City. The fire in San Roman occurred at about 2:30 p.m. yesterday, and the Miller Street fire was about 2:45 this afternoon. Police said that they responded to reports of a house fire in San Roman, and on their arrival they saw a thatched house measuring about 20 by 15 feet engulfed in flames. The house and its contents were completely destroyed, and the cost of damages was estimated to be about $5,000. The owner of the house, Magdalena Bou, 25, reported that she was cooking on a fire hearth in her house when the flames caught the dry walls and quickly spread out of control, and engulfed the house. The house was not insured.

A fugitive from American law enforcement, who has been on the run since November 30 on a murder charge for the death of his wife, has been captured. Edly Atherley, 29, of San Bernadino, California, USA, gave in himself to police officers and the FBI in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, January 25. Atherley is now being held at a Hillsborough County Jail in Florida, waiting to be returned to San Bernadino to face trial. His wife, Ashley Atherley, 28, was found dead in their home on Sunday, December 1, with her throat slashed. According to information, Ashley Atherley went to the house for Thanksgiving November 30 last year, and people who became concerned when they did not see her, called police to check on her. When they went into the house, Ashley was found dead in the bathroom. She had been badly beaten and her throat slashed.

The trial of Joseph Budna, a Belizean accused of kidnapping Abimael Lopez Palma, 23, in the Guatemalan City of Chiquimula and taking him to Honduras to extort ransom from his father, is expected to conclude this week. Budna, who is being defended by a public attorney, Nery Garcia, has already been sentenced to 25 years in prison in Guatemala for the kidnapping of a US teenager, Luis Byron Reyes Onofre, back in August 2012. We understand that an appeal of that conviction is pending. In the Palma case, the complainant has alleged that he was taken from near the Central Park of Chiquimula, from in front of the town board in that area, by Budna, who he alleges wore a bulletproof jacket and carried a firearm, pretending to be an investigator. The complainant alleges that he was asked to participate in an ID parade in a case where a woman alleged that she had been robbed of her motorcycle and cell phone.

All indications pointed to another Verdes victory in the re-scheduled football game after a wet-field postponement at the Marshalleck Stadium, when the Saturday night match against FC Belize from Belize City was re-scheduled to Sunday at the same venue. But Verdes fans were out for a shocking disappointment, for FC Belize left Benque Viejo last night with a 2-1 overtime victory and a spot in the PLB finals. The Police United team had suffered the same difficulty in regular season, and the excessive travelling on short notice took its toll on their players, leaving a bitter Police management to sulk in the off-season after they failed to gain the victory they needed to make the playoffs. It was a 1-1 draw against Verdes at the Marshalleck, but that wasn't enough for Police, who must now look to next season. It was looking like a replay of the same script over this past weekend, as once again the travelling team, this time FC Belize, had to deal with a postponed match, due to very wet field conditions, after they had travelled all the way from Belize City to Benque Viejo, approximately 81 miles sitting in a regular "school" bus, for their scheduled Saturday night semifinal against Verdes FC.

The Central Secondary Schools Sports Association (CSSSA) 2014 high school football competition, which kicked off less than a month ago on Wednesday, January 8, began its semifinal playoffs today for both females (F) and males (M) at the MCC Grounds. Five (5) female teams and sic (6) male teams participated in the tournament, the females playing a double round-robin, while the males played a single round-robin in the regular competition. The semifinals and finals will both be best-of-2 games series.

A release from the Belize Cycling Association (BCA) this morning said that the Individual Time Trial (ITT), which was postponed from last Saturday, will now be held this coming Saturday, February 1, beginning at 2:00 p.m. on the Boom Road, starting in front of CDS Service Station. This is the first of a series of ITTs, where the Elite will ride 12 miles; while Masters 4/5, Females, Youth and Juniors will cover 6 miles. Previously registered names remain on the list, but registration remains open for those who would now like to take advantage of the change in date; they may register at the BCA office on the second floor of the Commercial Center. Deadline for registration is Thursday, January 30. No registration will be taken at the start, as the starting list must be generated a day before the start of the event.

Round 1 of the semifinals in the FFB (Open) Inter-District Football Tournament 2013-2014 took place yesterday, Sunday, January 26, at two different venues. At the Louisiana Field in Orange Walk Town, it was home standing Progresso FC taking the 2-1 win over MnM Steelers from Independence, with goals from Gabriel Perez (21') and Alexander Diaz (80'). Rolling Burgess (12') got the only goal for the Steelers. Meanwhile, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, Roaring Creek United was held to a 2-2 draw by visiting San Estevan FC from Orange Walk. Roaring Creek grabbed a 2-nil lead in first half with goals from Norman Neal (6') and Kenny Williams (15'); but San Estevan came back with goals from Otoniel Sandoval (60') and Edwani Munoz (65') to tie it up in second half.

Brandon "BT" Tillett, 28, who claims to be a car dealer of #100 George Street, was remanded to prison after he was arraigned on attempted murder and related charges before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith on Monday. Tillett was also charged with use of deadly means of harm and dangerous harm against Kevin Alvarez. Chief Magistrate Smith remanded Tillett until February 27, when he is to return to court. According to police, Kevin Alvarez, 19, a construction worker and resident of Supal Street, reported to them that he was standing on a bridge on George Street, around 9:05 p.m., when a man rode up on a beach cruiser bicycle, pointed a handgun at him and fired several shots.

Burglaries were reported by police in Orange Walk and San Pedro. In Orange Walk, a preschool was targeted and over $1,000 stolen by thieves, and in San Pedro, thieves burglarized the home of an American woman and deprived the owner of over $6,000 worth of her belongings. The American woman, of Ambergris Lake Villas, told police that between 2:30 and 7:30 yesterday evening, Sunday, a thief or thieves burglarized her apartment and stole an HP Laptop computer valued at about $1,600US, and other assorted items totaling $6,532 in value. San Pedro police began an immediate investigation that led to the recovery of some of the stolen items, and they detained a security guard.


Placencia, Belize Has a Serious Food Scene: Great Restaurants You Want to Try
The Placencia Peninsula has a relatively small population. Placencia, the most visited village at the tip of the peninsula, has only about 1000 permanent residents. So it's shocking to me each and every time that there is such a diverse selection of restaurants and bars. How do they do it? A smarty pants friend had the answer for me: lower rents, lower food costs, lower barriers to entry can equal more room for experimentation and creativity. And in Placencia, it definitely does. The list of great eateries is long & DEFINITELY includes the amazing gelato shop called Tutti Frutti. The flavors change all the time. May I suggest Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate on a cone for your walk down the Placencia Sidewalk? Or a late morning affogato�a shot of Bailey's gelato with hot espresso drizzled over it? This most recent visit, I asked a friend in the know what the "hot spots" are in town, and the list kept me busy (and stuffed) for the next two days and nights. Let's start with Rumfish Y Vino. Called a gastro-bar�Central American style. I went upstair in this colonial style building for lunch.

Yo! Jesse Pinkman! We're still waiting
Our more loyal readers may remember the brief exchange Chaa Creek had with Breaking Bad Star Aaron Paul last year. This all happened after the infamous Breaking Bad episode where Saul Goodman, the lawyer of dubious ethics and moral fibre, suggested that Walter White's brother in law, DEA agent Hank, be "sent on a trip to Belize" as a euphemism for killing him. Walter deferred, but the remark about Belize was heard round the world. What to do when your tiny country is used in such a manner? Great minds thinking alike, both the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) and The Lodge at Chaa Creek decided to turn the statement into a marketing opportunity. The BTB, in conjunction with their US based advertising agency Olson Engage, ran an invitation to the Breaking Bad cast to come visit Belize.

Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean
We invite you to read up more on this great initiative.

Information on warranty collected from selected establishments in Belize
The Belize Bureau of Standards is currently conducting a cell phone survey to capture information about warranties provided by selected establishments across Belize. Kindly click on the link to view the results for Belize City and San Ignacio collected in January 2014.

Metrology in Food Processing
During the last quarter of 2013, the Bureau conducted a metrology survey that collected a wide range of information on the inventory and use of metrology equipment across the productive sector in Belize. The results show that of the 1865 equipment documented, 496 (26.6%) items are used to monitor/measure pressure. These equipment are used to measure fluid (water) and gas (primarily ammonia) pressure. Pressure equipment is prevalent across many sectors in Belize especially the food processing and agro-processing sectors. The bulk of pressure equipment in Belize can be found in power generating and refrigerating equipment used in activities such as citrus processing, shrimp processing and storage and fish processing.

Benefits of Accreditation to Private Sector, Consumers and Regulators
A National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) would be incomplete without its important elements which include the fields of Metrology, Standardization, Testing, and Quality Management including Certification and Accreditation. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on accreditation and its benefits to private sector, consumers and regulators. Accreditation is a process that allows a business or person to be seen as a knowledgeable body that can carry out a specific task. This approval is provided by a respected organization (Accreditation Body) that recognizes that such a business has the systems in place to continually provide reliable and quality services or products.

Accreditation: Facilitates Trade
International trade is the exchange of goods and services across international borders or territories. However, with the rapid increase in globalization the demand for a vast number and range of quality products and services is becoming more available to the consumer. Most of us would find it impossible to imagine a world where the choice of goods and services was limited to only those we can produce in our country. Despite all the varieties of products available, we still demand that the goods and services be of acceptable quality. How do we assure that the goods and services provided are safe and of acceptable quality? International trade represents a large share of our gross domestic product which means that we must have the systems in place to ensure that these goods meet specified requirements of acceptable quality.

5 Benefits of Buying Belizean Made Products
"Buy Belize, Build Belize!" continues to be the clamour of local business and manufacturers and it is with good reason why this is so. For purposes of this article let us examine a few notable ones to stir some interest and thought: 5) Foreign Exchange Savings: The Foreign Exchange Reserves is important for Belize to maintain its current peg to the US dollar. With an imbalance in trade favouring a high and continuous demand for imports it means that more foreign exchange is needed to purchase imports. This leads to a draw down on the country's international reserves and is made worse where not sufficient foreign exchange is earned through exports. . . Also the high demand and low supply encourages black market transactions lessening the ability of the country to maintain its international reserves.

Pacing Towards Accreditation
A few years ago I was to be tested at a local public laboratory for diabetes after having developed an unusual blister that had appeared on the surface of my skin. A young lad appearing to be invincible and immune, I remained unconvinced and dismissive of this possibility. Yet my family history got the better of me, my grandfather a victim himself of this chronic disease I was more on the better side of being forced than encouraged to be tested. Medical attention whether by force or will, there is always that dreaded result that we happen to fear. My experience no different, I awaited the results in agony perhaps due to the fact that I spent much of my time reflecting on the life changes I would have to make. After all, having to give up some of life's little pleasures in dramatic fashion on the heels of better health is easier said than done. Results are just one part of the ordeal that the mind becomes preoccupied with, on the flip side is the more critical element such as the accuracy and the reliability of the results which sometimes at the individual level is overlooked. As luck would have it, my results proved to be negative and for me that was sufficient to the ear.

BBS Consumer Watch Newsletter: Volume 5 Issue 3
The Belize Bureau of Standards presents its Volume 5 Issue 3 of our Consumer Watch Newsletter. Please feel free to download, read and circulate with your friends and colleagues. Kindly click on the link below to view the document.

International Sources

Illegal Whale Shark Factory Found in China
A factory which processes around 600 whale sharks annually has been found in southern China, a conservation group said Monday, calling it the world's biggest slaughterhouse for the endangered species. Hong Kong-based conservation group WildLifeRisk said it discovered the factory in the town of Pu Qi in Zhejiang province after a four-year investigation. It said the sharks are slaughtered and processed mostly to produce shark oil for health supplements. Undercover video footage produced by the group showed workers cutting up the large dotted back fins of whale sharks and other shark species. "How these harmless creatures, these gentle giants of the deep, can be slaughtered on such an industrial scale is beyond belief," said a WildLifeRisk statement sent to AFP. "It's even more incredible that this carnage is all for the sake of non-essential lifestyle props such as lipsticks, face creams, health supplements and shark fin soup." The slaughterhouse also handles other species of sharks including blue sharks and basking sharks and produces 200 tons of shark oil annually from the three species, its owner -- identified only as Li -- said in the video. Li also said he needed to "smuggle" whale shark skin out.

River View students return from trips with new experiences
Seven students studying German went to Germany from Dec. 31 to Jan. 9, while 13 students studying Spanish went to Belize. Students going on each trip had been working on projects, including journals and videos, and will present their projects to the school board in February. For many of the students, this was their first time traveling outside the United States, which led to some culture shock. Freshman Sami Trowbridge went to Belize. "This experience was one of the best times of my life and I would go back again in a heartbeat," Sami said

Six Caribbean countries eligible for US visa programme
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says six Caribbean countries are among 63 countries worldwide that are eligible to participate in two visa programmes this year. The H-2A and H-2B Visa programmes allow US employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and non-agricultural jobs, respectively. The USCIS identified the Caribbean countries eligible to participate in the visa programmes as Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti and Jamaica.

Caribbean Walks the Talk on Clean Energy Policy
In 2012, another Caribbean country, Belize, which currently generates 63 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources, announced plans for a National Energy Policy and a Sustainable Energy Strategy. We have ambitious targets. We have set ourselves to change from fossil fuel to renewable energy and at the same time decrease our energy intensity,� Energy Minister Joy Grant told IPS. We are pursuing all types of renewable energy " hydro, bio energy, solar, ocean, thermal and wind and waste-to-energy,� Grant added. But like all other small developing countries, Grant said Belize's efforts in renewable energy were constrained by the high cost of renewable technologies; the lack of domestic capacity; inappropriate frameworks to incentivise the private sector to invest in renewable energy; and small population size.

Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC)
infoDev's Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC) is a seven year $20M program funded by the Government of Canada that seeks to build an enabling ecosystem to foster high-growth and sustainable enterprises throughout the Caribbean. EPIC has three core activity pillars: mobile innovation, climate technology, and women-led entrepreneurship. These pillars are complemented by an access to finance facility for Caribbean entrepreneurs, and a skills upgrading and capacity development program for all ecosystem stakeholders. These stakeholders include entrepreneurs, incubation practitioners, policy makers, universities, risk capital financiers, and other private sector partners.

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Improper Disposal Of Garbage Taking Place In Carmelita, Residents Are Concerned
During the past few weeks, concerned citizens and residents of Carmelita Village have noticed illegal dumping taking place near the entrance of the village, aligning the highway. According to local residents, this has been going on for quite some time and is now getting out of control. Our news team followed the story and reporter Maria Novelo filed the following report. Styrofoam items, plastic bottles, soiled baby diapers, and accumulated household waste, litter the stretch of the Philip Goldson Highway, immediately upon entering Carmelita Village. It is a definite eye sore for many, and we found out that garbage generated during the last few weeks or months, remains uncollected, defacing the Village and causing much nuisance to the residents with its unbearable stench and possible health hazards. That is the sentiment we got from many residents when we visited Carmelita Village today. One such resident who requested to remain anonymous says it's the villagers within the community causing this disturbing trend.

Minister Marin Accused Of Abuse Of Political Authority
On November 28th of last year, we reported on the re-distribution of a 20 acre lot at the Consejo Road South East of the Corozal District, which had the name of Lennox Garbutt as former lessee of the property. At the time of the report, Garbutt acquired the land back in November of 2011 and had paid his taxes on the lease up to 2013. But last year he received a letter indicating that he was no longer owner of the parcel due to non-development and the parcel was to be issued to Ada Luz Romero, sister of Minister of Health Pablo Marin. Since that report aired, Garbutt claims that walking on the streets of Corozal has not been the same. And to make matters worse, Garbutt claims that this past Sunday he was detained by Corozal Police for approximately 4 hours. But what was the rationale behind his detention? He spoke to Victor Castillo this morning. "I was hanging out with some friends and my son, the kid, the minister passing on his vehicle, according to the police because I didn't saw him, when the minister passed in his vehicle and like ten minutes after the police come and start to, they have to detain me because the minister said that I showed him my middle finger so when they came and they detained me and I asked them to just drop my son and then go at the station, they didn't wanted so I had to make my son walk by himself. When I was detained I went to the station and they asked for my properties and stuff and they wanted to put me in the cell but a police constable said no, leave him alone on the bench and I was there for about three to four hours because the sergeant told me that it is an order from Mr. Ramirez to detain me and until he comes back and so I asked what was my charge and they said because I pointed my middle finger to the minister."

Cabinet Sees Major Shifts Castor And Penner Stripped
Following much scrutiny and public debate, Prime Minister Dean Barrow made major shifts in Cabinet today. According to a lengthy release issued late this evening, after much consideration and hearing from Edmund Castro, Cabinet was of the view that while there was nothing illegal in the actions of either the Belize Airports Authority or the Minister, there was poor judgment leading to a perception of abuse of authority on both sides. In light of this, the PM took the following measures; 1. The portfolio of Civil Aviation, which includes the Belize Airports Authority and over which Minister Castro exercised day to day jurisdiction, will be removed from the Ministry of Transport and placed with the Ministry of Tourism. 2. The Solicitor General and Financial Secretary will meet with all statutory bodies to review operational protocols and advise on proper administration. And 3. The current Directors of the BAA will be asked to resign.

P.M Says "I Did Not Call The Union"
On Friday of last week, the Belize National Teachers Union's continued its rallies in the Cayo District where the union branches of Benque, San Ignacio and Belmopan joined in a spirited gathering. And while many of the union leaders took center stage to speak at the podium, many were enraged on the comments made by Minister of Education, Patrick Faber in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Well, while that did not sit well with the union, Senior Advisor of the BNTU George Fraser, made a remark which was carried by Channel 7 news in regards to the PM calling on Faber to reel him in from his comments in the house. The comment Fraser made was and we quote 'Just a while ago, not even half hour ago we got a phone call, the Prime Minister wants to meet with us." Apparently, that was not the case and as a result, the office of the Prime minister issued a press statement to clarify that the PM did not request a meeting with the Union Leaders as stated by Fraser.

More Bullets Removed Off The Streets
Orange Walk police have scored once again as they were able to retrieve, this time not a firearm, but a number of bullets off the streets. On Tuesday January 28th 2014, at about 4:00pm, Orange Walk Special Branch visited a vacant property on Royal Palm Street, Orange Walk Town, where a Nescafe Dolca Coffee Bottle containing forty five gold color S & B hallow point 9mm Ammunition, was retrieved from under some dry grass. Nobody was in the area at the time of the finding and the bullets were deposited as found property.

Onion Producers Continue To Struggle Following Incessant Rains
The struggle continues for farmers as they try to salvage whatever crop they have left following the incessant rains that fell over the last few weeks. The most affected in the north have been onion farmers. In the most recent update to their situation, CTV-3 News understands that out of the thirteen point five acres that had been planted for this crop, only about three were spared. The remaining acreages were destroyed by the rains. According to official reports, from the remaining three acres, farmers are expecting to harvest around fifty thousand pounds of onions. According to officials, this is not even twenty percent of their projected production for this year. That onion will be harvest between the next two weeks. Preparations are also underway to import onions to supply the demand. We understand that the price of onions will remain unaffected. Onion farmers have replanted and are expecting to harvest another crop in March this year.

Trinidad School Gets Facelift
The Trinidad Government School today received a much welcomed facelift. The work was done free of cost to the school and community by a group of students and teachers from Millwoods Christian School in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. Our news team caught up with the team as they painted over school buildings and had some fun in the sun with the students. Dalila Ical has that report. The group of 32 students and seven staff members are in northern Belize visiting several primary schools conducting service projects. These include repainting schools or parks and holding presentations at these institutions. Assistant Principal Dan Vandermeer tells us about their objectives.

2013/2014 Crop Season Well Under-way, But Sugar Roads Still Pose A Major Problem
After close to two months of delay the 2014 Sugar Crop Season is now in full effect. Today when we spoke to Vice Chair of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, Alfredo Ortega, to get an update on the industry, we were informed of a few hiccups. But those glitches aside, the season is going rather smoothly. Alfredo Ortega- Vice Chair, Management Committee, BSCFA "At this point it time everything is going well, farmers are really pushing forward in bringing their product as clean as possible maintaining the quality and they are doing the best on their part to fix the pieces of road for them to travel on." Maria Novelo - Reporter "Now the weather has improved for a few days, paint a picture for us in terms of the sugar road works being done?"

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