Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Trinidad & Tobago Wins Stanford 20/20 1 Million USD

COOLIDGE, Antigua, February 25, 2008 -

Trinidad & Tobago, led by William Perkins' aggressive half century and Dave Mohammed four-wicket haul, trashed Jamaica by nine-wicket in a one-sided Stanford 20/20 final at the Stanford Cricket ground on Sunday night.

Replying to Jamaica's mere 91 all out in 16.4 overs, Trinidad & Tobago raced to 94 for 1 in 9.2 overs and secured the Stanford US$1m jackpot, which lost to Guyana in 2006. Jamaica pocketed US$500,000.

Requiring a mere 4.55 runs per over, Trinidad & Tobago lost Denesh Ramdin early when he edged Jerome Taylor (1-19) for wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh to take an easy catch at 14 for one.

However, that bought to the crease the dangerous combination of Perkins and Lendl Simmons, who put on an unbroken 74 runs for the second wicket. They kept the run rate above 10 runs throughout, but it was Perkins who was dictated the pace. He was the more aggressive, especially against pacer Daren Powell and spinner Marlon Samuels.

Perkins, who brought up his half century with a single of Samuels to mid-on, ended unbeaten on 50, which came off just 33 balls and laced with six fours and a six, while Simmons, who hit Samuels over long-on for a six to win, got 26 with four fours and a six.

Earlier, in one of the most disgraceful batting display this season, Jamaica, which boost the strongest batting line-up in regional cricket, were totally clueless against Trinidad & Tobago bowlers, especially left-arm Mohammed.

Like the semi-final against Guyana, again, Jamaica got off to a bad start when Shawn Findlay edged the second ball of the match, bowled by pacer Rayad Emrit to wicketkeeper Ramdin.

Samuels was again forced to pull Jamaica out of trouble, but after added 42 for the second wicket with opener Xavier Marshall, who replaced Chris Gayle at the top, things again slipped.

Marshall's innings of 20, which included a six and a four, was ended when he dragged on a delivery from spinner Samuel Badree onto his middle stump while Samuels, who pulled Dwayne Bravo's second delivery in the air to the mid-wicket boundary, was caught two deliveries after by Simmons at 48 for three. He made 27, which included four fours.

It got worse for Jamaica when the out-of-form Gayle (six) was bowled by Dave Mohammed, who also picked removed in-form batsman Danza Hyatt (four), stumped by Ramdin.

After Hyatt's dismissal at 63 for 5, Jamaica's struggle continued and in the 16th over, Carlton Baugh, who after hit Mohammed over long-on for six; became the first of three wickets in the over. Bernard was run out for one and Taylor bowled for zero.

Opening pacer Emrit returned to pick up the wickets of Hinds, caught by Bravo on the long-on boundary and Nikita Miller, bowled the very next ball for one to end Jamaica's misery.

Mohammed ended with 4-20 and was named Man-of-the-Match while Emrit supported with 3-18.

Dwayne Bravo collected the Play-of-the-Day US$25,000 to run out Bernard. (stanford2020.com)

Raul Castro Promising New Measures, Old Guard Remains

HAVANA, Cuba, February 25, 2008 -

Raul Castro has officially taken over the reigns of power in Cuba, promising gradual economic reforms and a possible revaluation of the island's currency.

But the 76-year-old who was elected by the 614-member National Assembly on Sunday as the new president, has signalled his intention to stay on the communist course his brother, Fidel Castro took during his near half-century rule of the country - the longest term for any of the world's heads of state.

In addition to keeping the Communist Party's old guard in place, the new president indicated that he would consult with the ailing former leader on all major decisions.

"Fidel is Fidel...Fidel is irreplaceable and the people shall continue his work when he is no longer physically with us, although his ideas will always be with us - the same ideas that have made it possible to build the beacon of dignity and justice our country represents," Raul Castro said in his first speech as president.

"I appeal to this Assembly, as the supreme body of the State power, to allow me to continue consulting with the maximum leader of the Revolution, comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, the decisions of special transcendence for the future of our nation, basically those associated to defense, foreign policy and the socioeconomic development of the country," he added.

That resolution was subsequently approved by the Assembly.

Regarding the revaluation of the country's currency, Raul Castro indicated: "We are examining everything related to the timely implementation of comrade Fidel's ideas on 'the progressive, gradual and prudent revaluation of the Cuban peso'...At the same time, we keep delving into the phenomenon of the double currency in the economy."

"To avoid traumatic effects or inconsistencies, any changes related to the currency shall be made with a comprehensive approach, mindful, among other things, of the wage system, the retail prices, the entitlements and the subsidies running in the millions presently required by numerous services and products," he added.

In a move that erased the hope that Cuba's younger generation would take the lead in charting the country's course, Raul Castro selected former health minister, founder of the Communist Party and chief of party organisation, 77-year-old Jose Ramon Machado as his number two. General Julio Casas Regueiro replaces Raul Castro as head of the country's armed forces. Meantime, rising younger-generation leader Carlos Lage, 56, who some were hoping would succeed Castro, retains his post as one of several vice presidents.

Fidel Castro who led Cuba for 49 years after overthrowing the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista regime in 1959, last week announced his retirement. He had handed over power to his brother in July 2006 after undergoing a number of major intestinal surgeries.

He will however continue to formally lead the Cuban Communist Party as first secretary - the most powerful position in the country according to the constitution - which gives him veto power. Fidel Castro will also continue to be a legislator, but seat remained empty during Sunday's gathering of the new National Assembly. He has not been seen in public since falling ill.

Raul Castro's ascension to power has prompted discussions about change within Cuba, home to 11 million people, and a possible end to the US embargo imposed since 1960.

The highest-ranking US diplomat in Latin America, Tom Shannon has suggested that there is hope for change.

"There is a possibility and potential for change in Cuba, but those changes will have to be born inside Cuba," he said.

But questioned about the possibility of the end to the embargo, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte was reportedly quick to respond: "I can't imagine that happening any time soon."

According to University of California political science professor, Miroslav Nincic the Helms-Burton Act passed in 1996, mandates the maintenance of the embargo "as long as the Cuban government is headed by either Castro". That law strengthens the embargo against Cuba by penalising countries that trade with both the U.S. and Cuba.

With the news of the change in political leadership in Cuba, US President George W. Bush has urged election reform in that country.

"We're going to help. The United States will help the people of Cuba realise the blessings of liberty," he said.

The call for a move toward democracy was echoed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who insisted that Cubans have a right to choose their leaders in democratic elections. She urged to the government "to begin a process of peaceful, democratic change by releasing all political prisoners, respecting human rights, and creating a clear pathway towards free and fair elections".

Meantime, long-time Cuba ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has promised that the good relations between the two countries will not change.

"We are going to continue to be united. Only in unity can we progress to further victory," he declared.

Caribbean360 (sidebar)

Raul Castro Promising New Measures, Old Guard Remains

HAVANA, Cuba, February 25, 2008 -

Raul Castro has officially taken over the reigns of power in Cuba, promising gradual economic reforms and a possible revaluation of the island's currency.

But the 76-year-old who was elected by the 614-member National Assembly on Sunday as the new president, has signalled his intention to stay on the communist course his brother, Fidel Castro took during his near half-century rule of the country - the longest term for any of the world's heads of state.

In addition to keeping the Communist Party's old guard in place, the new president indicated that he would consult with the ailing former leader on all major decisions.

"Fidel is Fidel...Fidel is irreplaceable and the people shall continue his work when he is no longer physically with us, although his ideas will always be with us - the same ideas that have made it possible to build the beacon of dignity and justice our country represents," Raul Castro said in his first speech as president.

"I appeal to this Assembly, as the supreme body of the State power, to allow me to continue consulting with the maximum leader of the Revolution, comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, the decisions of special transcendence for the future of our nation, basically those associated to defense, foreign policy and the socioeconomic development of the country," he added.

That resolution was subsequently approved by the Assembly.

Regarding the revaluation of the country's currency, Raul Castro indicated: "We are examining everything related to the timely implementation of comrade Fidel's ideas on 'the progressive, gradual and prudent revaluation of the Cuban peso'...At the same time, we keep delving into the phenomenon of the double currency in the economy."

"To avoid traumatic effects or inconsistencies, any changes related to the currency shall be made with a comprehensive approach, mindful, among other things, of the wage system, the retail prices, the entitlements and the subsidies running in the millions presently required by numerous services and products," he added.

In a move that erased the hope that Cuba's younger generation would take the lead in charting the country's course, Raul Castro selected former health minister, founder of the Communist Party and chief of party organisation, 77-year-old Jose Ramon Machado as his number two. General Julio Casas Regueiro replaces Raul Castro as head of the country's armed forces. Meantime, rising younger-generation leader Carlos Lage, 56, who some were hoping would succeed Castro, retains his post as one of several vice presidents.

Fidel Castro who led Cuba for 49 years after overthrowing the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista regime in 1959, last week announced his retirement. He had handed over power to his brother in July 2006 after undergoing a number of major intestinal surgeries.

He will however continue to formally lead the Cuban Communist Party as first secretary - the most powerful position in the country according to the constitution - which gives him veto power. Fidel Castro will also continue to be a legislator, but seat remained empty during Sunday's gathering of the new National Assembly. He has not been seen in public since falling ill.

Raul Castro's ascension to power has prompted discussions about change within Cuba, home to 11 million people, and a possible end to the US embargo imposed since 1960.

The highest-ranking US diplomat in Latin America, Tom Shannon has suggested that there is hope for change.

"There is a possibility and potential for change in Cuba, but those changes will have to be born inside Cuba," he said.

But questioned about the possibility of the end to the embargo, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte was reportedly quick to respond: "I can't imagine that happening any time soon."

According to University of California political science professor, Miroslav Nincic the Helms-Burton Act passed in 1996, mandates the maintenance of the embargo "as long as the Cuban government is headed by either Castro". That law strengthens the embargo against Cuba by penalising countries that trade with both the U.S. and Cuba.

With the news of the change in political leadership in Cuba, US President George W. Bush has urged election reform in that country.

"We're going to help. The United States will help the people of Cuba realise the blessings of liberty," he said.

The call for a move toward democracy was echoed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who insisted that Cubans have a right to choose their leaders in democratic elections. She urged to the government "to begin a process of peaceful, democratic change by releasing all political prisoners, respecting human rights, and creating a clear pathway towards free and fair elections".

Meantime, long-time Cuba ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has promised that the good relations between the two countries will not change.

"We are going to continue to be united. Only in unity can we progress to further victory," he declared.

Caribbean360 (sidebar)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

IRELAND ADDS 2.4MILLION USD TO CARIBBEAN DIASTER FUND

GEORGETOWN, Cayman Islands, February 21, 2008 -

The Irish government will pump US$2.4 million into the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) which provides participating governments with quick financial relief in the event of catastrophic hurricanes and earthquakes.

A bulletin from the Cayman Islands-registered CCRIF indicated that the contribution is the latest addition to the regional insurance fund - the first multi-country risk pool in the world, launched in February last year.

Bahamian Prime Minister and current chair of CARICOM, Hubert Ingraham, expressed his appreciation on behalf of the 16 CCRIF member governments for the contribution.
"The consequences of climate change are severe for Caribbean governments, particularly increasing our exposure to natural disasters and making pre-disaster planning paramount. The additional funds contributed by Ireland will further strengthen the Facility and thus the Caribbean governments it serves," he said.

The Irish Government's Senior Advisor to the Executive Director at the World Bank,

Brendan Ryan said the success of the fund's first year augurs well for its future.

He said the donation was "a signal of the faith the Irish Government has in the Facility and a show of support for the Caribbean governments that have taken a pro-active stance towards disaster risk mitigation by becoming members of the CCRIF."

Last year pledges totaling US$47.7 million were made by Canada, the World Bank, the United Kingdom, France and the Caribbean Development Bank. A further US$19.5 million was raised in the form of a participation fee from each CCRIF member country. The members of the fund are Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

REPORTED BY CARIBBEAN 360 (SIDEBAR LINK)

IDB financing one-to-one computing project in Haiti

NEW YORK, United States, February 20, 2008 -

The Inter-American Development Bank and the One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC) will finance a pilot project to test whether one-to-one computing can improve teaching and learning in schools in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

OLPC makes the XO laptop, a low-cost computer designed for children in places with poor infrastructure. The rugged machine, which uses open-source software, can be powered with car batteries, solar panels or devices such as cranks, pedals and pull-cords.

The IDB will make a US$3 million grant for the pilot project, which will distribute XO laptops to some 13,200 students and 500 teachers in 60 Haitian primary schools. OLPC will contribute US$2 million to the project.

"As one of the poorest countries in the world, deployment in Haiti has always been an important goal for OLPC," said Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of One Laptop per Child. "Doing it with our long standing partner, the Inter-American Development Bank, not only makes for the best team, but also a model for other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America."

The IDB's project team leader, Emma Näslund-Hadley, said: "We have studies about the impact of computer labs and shared computers in the classroom, but there's never been a comprehensive evaluation of the learning model based on giving each child a laptop. This is crucial to determine the effectiveness of this model under conditions of extreme poverty and as a tool for accelerating learning."

The pilot project will assess how a child-centered learning technology can be used to bridge problems such as the shortage of qualified teachers and educating children of different grades in the same classroom. Another major priority for the Haitian government is speeding up the learning process for students who enter school late or repeat grades.

Under the project, content including text books, movies, audio files and electronic documents, will be translated into Creole and applications will be developed for subjects such as reading and writing, numerical literacy and problem solving, environmental studies and social skills.

Training will be provided for teachers and students to operate the laptops and carry out basic maintenance and trouble-shooting tasks. More complex repairs will be handled by students in vocational training schools or local information technology advisors.

UNESCO's Regional Office on Education in Latin America and the Caribbean will conduct standardized mathematics and language tests before and after the pilot project to evaluate its performance from a quantitative standpoint.

For a qualitative evaluation, classroom practices will be continuously observed to gauge whether one-to-one computing affects attitudes and behaviors regarding school management, how families value education, the use of laptops at home and the perceived educational progress of students.

The pilot project will also help Haiti assess the requirements to design and launch a national one-to-one computing strategy that could eventually spread through the entire primary school system.

OLPC laptops are already being used in education programs in two other IDB borrowing member countries, Peru and Uruguay, which recently announced they were expanding their programs.

Offshore Financial Havens FaceTidal Wave of Change Since 9/11

Charlestown, Nevis, February 21, 2003:

On islands like Nevis, where offshore companies outnumber inhabitants, businesses have operated in relative obscurity for years. That is beginning to change.
Nevis' 17,000 companies, few of which have offices on the island, are drawn by confidentiality laws and the lack of taxes - traditions that have given offshore financial havens worldwide a reputation for tax evasion, dirty money and fraud.

But following the Sept. 11 attacks and amid mounting concerns that terrorist organizations hide money in offshore havens, these companies are under greater scrutiny than ever with the introduction of laws such as the USA Patriot Act, which prohibits U.S. banks from doing business with banks that have no physical presence.
"The Caribbean has really come a long way," said Chris Mathers, a consultant who once worked undercover as a money launderer for the Canadian police. "In the '80s, you could fly down to one of these islands with a big bag of money, and they'd take it. Not anymore."

Over the past few years, the two-island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis and other countries have introduced laws to prevent money laundering and have pledged to cooperate with international investigators.

"We have made significant progress," said Neville Cadogan, financial regulator on Nevis, an island of 11,000 people. "We don't want any business that is tainted with anything illegal. What we want is good business."

The island is home to a single offshore bank, plus many trusts and other offshore companies. They bring its government about $3.4 million in fees each year.
But the industry is growing thinner across the region. Nevis saw a 50 percent drop in new offshore businesses last year. The island is taking out ads in magazines to attract companies.

Throughout the Caribbean, hundreds of offshore banks have closed or had their licenses revoked.

On the island of Antigua, the number of offshore banks has dropped from 90 to 15 in five years.

It's better to have a few "strong, sustainable banks" than "fly-by-night" operations, said Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua's high commissioner to London.

Many governments have been shamed into making reforms by blacklists introduced in 2000 by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

One list names countries accused of not doing enough against money laundering, while the other cites "harmful tax practices" said to bilk wealthier nations of billions of dollars through tax evasion.

Reforms helped St. Kitts and Nevis off the lists, along with all but one Caribbean country, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which remains on the money-laundering list. The island of Grenada was removed last Friday.

St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas said the stigma of being listed was "an unfair blow by the developed world" but said the removal shows "our jurisdiction is clean."

Critics of the offshore havens say the new measures don't guarantee enforcement. Many jurisdictions have never prosecuted anyone for money laundering.

Nevis is among islands still attractive to criminals, said David Marchant, the Miami-based publisher of the newsletter OffshoreAlert. He cites last year's collapse of The Genesis Fund Ltd., which promised investors returns of up to 45 percent and folded owing some $50 million.

In a report issued last week, the Financial Action Task Force said even nonprofit groups are "vulnerable to abuse" by terrorist groups, which also are believed to use shell companies, gold and diamond trading and informal cash transfers to move money quietly. The report said securities and insurance businesses also remain highly vulnerable.

"Money is like water," said Saskia Rietbroek, of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists in Miami. "The money will always find the path of least resistance."

Article Published by Caribbean Voice. (See SideBar)

Texas Tycoon Establishes Bridgehead in the Caribbean

By Camini Marajh

June, 2003:Texan tycoon R Allen Stanford has built a US$14 billion empire on a foundation of old money, business savvy and daredevil commercial ventures in the airline, real estate and financial services sectors.

He is the sole shareholder of 62 companies held under the wing of the signature Stanford Eagle Financial Group spanning seven countries. He is talented, driven, wields enormous power and likes to keep a low profile.

But his business dealings with the Antigua Government of Lester Bird have been getting him more attention than he had bargained for, fuelling reports of influence peddling and campaign contributions, among other things.

But the Texan billionaire, who attracted US State Department and Treasury scrutiny in the past, has dismissed the reports as political and false. He said there was a clear "misperception" to what he was doing in the Caribbean.

A fifth generation relative of the founder of Stanford University in California, the soft-spoken commercial tycoon is getting ready to pump US$2 billion worth of investment into the region through his newly-established, Stanford Caribbean Investment Fund, which is almost 100 per cent staffed and managed by a West Indian board of directors and project managers.

Stanford, the owner of Caribbean Star and its sister airline, Caribbean Sun, is putting US$100 million of his own money into his latest venture to kickstart stagnant island nation economies by, among other things, building vital infrastructure and world class resort facilities.

In an interview in St Kitts on Wednesday, at the inaugural flight of his latest airline venture, he told the Sunday Express of plans to raise US$900 million from investors on Wall Street, to borrow another US$700 million through conventional financing, and to secure US$300 million in non-cash government concessions via tax breaks on import charges and corporate taxes.

An Antiguan citizen since 1999, 53-year-old Stanford told of his love and commitment to the Caribbean, a region in which he has bought a stake and which he plans to put on a fast-track to First World status.

He speaks in a low tone, but his voice commands full attention when he spins vivid tales of a region being able to reach its full potential, of growth and development, and of the return of Caribbean sons and daughters to fresh opportunities in their respective island homes.

"I love this part of the world," he said, "I think it is a tremendous shame to see people who have to leave this part of the world because they don't have the opportunity for employment here that a London or New York or Miami or Houston or Toronto is going to give them."

Stanford's dream is to change not just the Caribbean landscape but the way people do business here. With his deep pockets and unrelenting drive, he just might do it.
He is close to completing another dream-an EC$750 million development just outside the V C Bird International Airport in Antigua.

The spanking new development sits on 60 acres of land and includes two banks with off-shore facilities, a Caribbean-style five-star hotel, a 3,500-seat cricket stadium which features a grandstand and terraced seating around the field, the Sticky Wicket Restaurant and Bar which features a cricket hall of fame, choice entertainment facilities, which includes a bowling alley, a twin-cinema, and a health spa with Olympic-size pool, and the Sun Publishing group which produces the Antigua Sun newspaper.

Stanford, who admits to being "incredibly blessed", has bought his own private island, Maiden-a tiny island just off Antigua, where he plans to build his permanent home. The flamboyant billionaire, who fitted in a spot of fishing on his private yacht between an extravagant and festive airline launch in St Kitts and his departure later that evening from Antigua on his private jet, said there were a lot of similarities between Texans and West Indians.

"I just call it being a maverick," he said, explaining, "that means that you don't always follow the flow. You go and do what you think is the right thing to do."
Stanford, whose personal assistant is West Indian-born, said Texans and West Indians take people for who they are.

"It's almost a kindred spirit is what I'd say."
Stating that he has not encountered that spirit anywhere else in his travels, he said: "I love the Caribbean. I love the people. I love the weather. I have a passion for this place. I was not born here but I was born here in spirit and, at this stage in my life, I can do just about anything I want to do within reason. I am talking of course anything legal and above board which is the only thing I am interested in being involved in."

Stanford says he wants to give back as much as he can to this place he calls his second home. And while he has chosen to put a substantial chunk of his money in the Caribbean, he has made clear his intention to get a 14 per cent return on his investment.

"Now that is the common sense truth," he said, adding, "but there is risk inherent in doing that and no one is doing it at this level. But I see the Caribbean as a greatly undervalued part of the world. I know what we can do down here. I want to stimulate the economy as a whole. I want to see the tourism product brought back to where I think it once was in the right direction headed. I want to see other industries come here."

Stanford has briefed most of the regional leaders, including Prime Minister Patrick Manning, of his plans for the region. He said he would derive great personal joy and fulfillment from knowing that he was able to change for the better the way people did things in a part of the world that he loves in a big way.

See The Caribbean Voice Business (Side Link Bar)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

LUNAR ECLIPSE IN THE CARIBBEAN

A Lunar Eclipse takes place at a Full Moon when the Moon moves into the shadow of the Earth cast by the Sun. This takes place at the same instant for all observers, but the LOCAL time on the clock depends on your time zone!

In North America (Canada & the US), the Total Eclipse takes place during:

Newfoundland ~ 11:30 p.m. - 12:21 a.m.
Atlantic ~ 11:00 - 11:51 p.m.
Eastern ~ 10:00 - 10:51 p.m.
Central ~ 9:00 - 9:51 p.m.
Mountain ~ 8:00 - 8:51 p.m.
Pacific ~ 7:00 - 7:51 p.m.

MEXICO, Central America and the Caribbean include all time zones listed above, so if you're not sure which time zone you're in, just keep your eyes on the skies from 7pm until midnight!

South American time zones range from UTC (GMT) -5 to -3, so the time will be from 10pm until 1am.

In Europe and Africa ~ 3:00 a.m. - 3:51 a.m. UTC (GMT) in the early morning of February 21

Look 1 hour 20 minutes before and after to see the partial phases. In Western regions, the Moon may rise partially eclipsed.

You don't have to go to any special place to see the eclipse, as long as you can see the Moon from where you are: front porch, backyard, walking down the street.

To the left of the Moon you will see the planet Saturn.

It may help to look for the Moon on the night before, so you know roughly what part of the sky to look in. On eclipse night, the Moon will be further East and a little lower in the sky, compared to the previous night. But don't worry...a near-Full Moon is hard to miss, even in the city!

IS IT SAFE TO LOOK AT? SHOULD I BE WEARING PROTECTION?
Not only can you view a Lunar Eclipse with the naked eye, it's absolutely amazing when viewed through binoculars. Better yet, you should try watching it through a telescope. Incredible. THERE WON'T BE ANOTHER FOR ALMOST 3 YEARS, so you don't want to miss it!

3 years? BUT I JUST SAW ONE IN AUGUST!
Yes, there was a Total Eclipse on August 28, 2007. Eclipses run in cycles, as the moon does. Although there will be a few partial eclipses over the next few years, the next Total Eclipse won't be until December 21, 2010, when we will have 3 more Total Eclipses in a row over a 12 month period.

Guests who "confirm attendance" will receive an automatic reminder as the date approaches.

Of course, there is nothing to attend, just go outside and look up, wherever you are!

IMF official warns of tough times ahead, but optimistic

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, February 14, 2008 - The Deputy Manager of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has concluded a visit to the Caribbean, expressing satisfaction with the measures put in place by Barbados and countries of the Eastern Caribbean to sustain growth. At the same time, Murilo Portual made it clear that these economies have to continue to be on alert.

During a visit to the region that ended yesterday, the IMF official indicated that Barbados is "well-placed to reap the benefits of globalization" but warned that with a small and open economy, it still had to protect itself from the deteriorating global environment.

"While the times ahead may prove challenging, I am confident that the government of Barbados will tackle such challenges with skill and resolve," he said after ending his visit to that island on February 11.

The senior IMF official also reiterated the fund's commitment to deliver technical assistance to the Caribbean for another three years. He said that assistance will allow the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC) to continue providing high-quality capacity building to the public sectors in 21 Caribbean countries across several areas, such as public financial management; tax and customs; financial sector supervision; capital market development; macroeconomic management; and statistics.

Mr Portugal who also met with the Finance Ministers of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and the St. Kitts and Nevis authorities on his first visit to the Eastern Caribbean as the IMF's Deputy Managing Director said he was pleased with the commitment of member governments to placing fiscal balances on a firmer footing by implementing measures such value-added taxes and efforts to overhaul government expenditures, focused on enhancing efficiency of capital spending and civil service reform.

"These efforts will be key to lowering debt levels and strengthening the currency union," he said.

Mr Portugal however noted that despite recording higher revenues, limited progress has been made towards fiscal consolidation, and the regional debt ratio remains above 100 percent of GDP.

"Our forecast is for a soft landing of the ECCU economy in 2008, but there are important downside risks. Turbulence in U.S. asset markets and slowing global growth could weaken the outlook in the tourism and construction sectors," he cautioned.

"Efforts to sustain rapid growth are thus particularly important, and I was encouraged to learn about ongoing reforms intended to improve the investment climate, financial market development, and continuing regional integration."

"I wish the governments and people of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union every success in their efforts to achieve strong, sustainable growth and continued social advances," Mr Portugal said.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

WHAT IS THE CARIBBEAN REVIEW OF BOOKS?

The Caribbean Review of Books (CRB) is a quarterly magazine, and the only publication exclusively covering new Caribbean books and writing, for readers interested in the regional literary scene. The Caribbean Review of Books was also officially incorporated as a non-profit company in 2 March, 2007 under the Companies Act (1995) in the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago. Since its launch in 2004, the CRB has been supported by Media and Editorial Projects (MEP) Ltd. Our other current partners include the Prince Claus Fund.

The original CRB was published in the early 1990s by the University of the West Indies Publishers' Association in Mona, Jamaica. Media and Editorial Projects (MEP), with no source of external funding, has undertaken to revive the CRB as a publication supported by subscriptions and advertising. The revived CRB was launched with a special pilot issue in May 2004, with regular issues following every three months.

Each issue includes reviews of new and recent writing of Caribbean interest (about the Caribbean or written by Caribbean authors): novels and poetry collections, plays and films, biographies and memoirs, books about history, art, culture, politics, and current affairs, reviewed with intelligence and vigour for non-academic, non-specialist readers. The CRB also includes new fiction and poetry and essays about Caribbean literature and culture. http://www.meppublishers.com/online/crb

Monday, February 11, 2008

DEBATE WIDENS OVER EPA

The Struggling Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Caribbean and Europe. Published by The Trinidad and Tobago Review The Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies.

A sharp debate which pits tow Caribbean leaders against each other, has broken out over the EPA which is due to be signed on March 15th. On one side is the growing lobby for a full and public review of the agreement.

That lobby, which supports the stance taken by Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo, is being organized in cyberspace on a website created by Norman Girvan, one of the most senior Caribbean economists.

Some of the most eminent voices across the English and non-English speaking Caribbean have already added their names to the petition including Rex Nettleford, Kari Levitt, Havelock Brewster, C.Y. Thomas, Micheal Witter, Clairemont Kirton and Girvan himself. Emerging as the leader of the other side of the debate has been Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding who rose to the fore last week with a scathing attack on critics of the EPA, accusing them of mendicancy and of being in the psychological shackles of slavery.

“Part of what has held back this region for so long is that there are too many of us who carry not a chip on our shoulder, but a whole light pole” Golding declared.

The Jamaican leader argued that he EPA, covering a market of 450 million people, provided a basis for the countries of Caricom to Collectively look outwards for opportunities rather than to compete in each other’s markets.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

THE CARIBBEAN'S BIGGEST AND BEST BUSINESS TO BUSINESS EVENT

You simply can't afford to miss this unique and effective forum. It's your chance to do business with global decision makers in a structured and professional networking environment.

  • Buyers & Distributors: Discover raw materials, goods, and services for every type of business. TIC showcases the widest range of high quality competitively priced products form the Caribbean and the world.
  • Exhibitors: Thousands of local, regional and international buyers and potential business partners will be at TIC 2008. Come prepared to sell to the world.
  • Investors: Be with us for the inaugural year of the brand new TIC Investment portal. Discover joint venture and investment opportunities in the Caribbean and Latin America.

See link on side bar for free registration.

Friday, February 8, 2008

VISIONING CARIBBEAN INTELLIGENCE

Anything worth doing should start with a vision, this blog is no different. This blog was conceived after the network on Linkedin and Plaxo left much to be desired in term of functionality and in the case of Plaxo, who makes it hard for members to stay on point. In my opinion, a group that is formed for a particular purpose should stick to that topic no matter what. It is a major challenge to do that on Plaxo which has it good points.. Its too easy to post an off topic to all the groups. In fact, all group posts are automatically posted to the Everyone page. Think that if you wanted to share with everyone, then why join a group with a particular interest. For this reason this blog was created. The intention here is to ...

  • Provide relevant local and regional news, links to other Caribbean sites, business contacts and referrals while getting daily commentary on Caribbean business as it is affected globally.
  • Provide a taste morsel of each country in the Caribbean through a network of island representatives sharing their country's information here.
  • Provide a forum for business to business contacts for mutual exchange, of ideas, data, advertise, make job offers or arrange joint ventures. The only qualifying criteria for anything posted here is that it must relate to the Caribbean.

The quick growth of the membership on Plaxo indicates that there are many international business community recognizes the enormous business potential that exist in the Caribbean. For many of them the entire Caribbean is virgin territory as far as their specific business is concerned. The larger islands like Trinidad and Jamaica are not only tourist attractions they offer opportunities in uncharted markets. These businesses are aggressive pioneers that are forging the way for others to follow.

For the Caribbean, the site will provide an opportunity to interact and have access to many global businesses. There will be a lot of opportunities not only to develop additional sources of revenue but to make personal and professional contact with other business people.

The vision of the Caribbean Intelligence is to provide an outside platform where all of the events mentioned earlier could be achieved. It will require the assistance of a number of people but we believe it can be done. Positioned as an active current link globally, anyone can access this blog and post.

Hopefully we have something for everyone who visits this page.

Thanking you.

Tony Puckerin
Moderator

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Trinidad Carnival

Photobucket Album
Photobucket

THE CARIBBEAN BASIN THINK TANK

Why Blog?

This blog was established to support the growing membership on Plaxo and Linkedin. The group platform on Linkedin leaves much to be desired and although Plaxo is more flexible it's impossible for the members to stay on topic. In my humble opinion, nobody joins a group with the intention of discussing a specific issue and instead must read various topics.

This blog is solely about issues related to the Caribbean.

Here you will get the latest Caribbean news stories making it easier to get a sense of the business climate of the particular island of interest. You also get access to people inside each country so that you can request for information related to your business. There will be no blatant advertising on this blog except with the moderator's approval.

The Linkedin and Plaxo group members now have a place where they can find information relevant to their business and opportunities in which they can become involved. But this blog is open to everyone even if you are not a member of those groups.

Thank you for visiting and feel free to introduce yourself and let everyone know why you have become a member of this group.

We love you for being here, Stay Blessed

The Shrewdest Chinese Company In Trinidad and Tobago

    The Richest Chinese Man in Trinidad and Tobago Riddle, Riddle A Re: How does a Chinese Company, with a majority Chinese workfor...