A Christmas Party to Remember

Clear Harbor Cares in partnership with Gift Grenada Inc. hosted an unforgettable Christmas Party for the Preschool, Kindergarten and 1st Grade students of Corinth Government School on December 2.

charborThe event included carol singing, games, refreshments and a Santa Claus bearing gifts for every child. It was an exciting afternoon that the children immensely enjoyed as they sang and played and blew bubbles with the culmination of Santa Claus, during which a total of 79 students received gifts. The principal of Corinth Government School Mrs. Augustus-LaTouch expressed sincere gratitude to both Gift Grenada and Clear Harbor Cares for their commitment to children and education, and in particular to Corinth Government School.

Gift Grenada is a local registered non-profit company organized to perform charity work with its primary focus being support to the primary schools. Clear Harbor Cares, the charity of the employees of Clear Harbor formulated in 2010; vows with their mission statement to continue to improve the lives of less fortunate Grenadian children, by empowering them with knowledge through the provision of school supplies and resources that will positively impact their ability to learn. Both charities remain committed to giving back to children of Grenada.

New police and prison heads on the card

Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Keith Mitchell has announced that the search is on for a new Commissioner of Police and also a new man to take charge of Her Majesty’s Prison at Richmond Hill in 2017.

ASP Trevor Modeste – tipped to take charge of the prisons

ASP Trevor Modeste – tipped to take charge of the prisons

The Prime Minister dropped the hint while wrapping up the debate of the 2017 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure in the House of Representatives last week Tuesday.

The current Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James who had retired in 2008 was brought back to head the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) on a month-to-month contract when the New National Party (NNP) won the 2013 general elections.

Dr. Mitchell made the move after he indicated that he was not comfortable with the then Acting Commissioner of Police Willan Thompson who was appointed under the previous administration.

Thompson was forced to quit, took study leave to pursue legal studies in England and upon completion was placed as Clerk of Parliament.

Dr. Mitchell informed the House that after listening to several persons who understand RGPF, it was agreed when he took office once again in 2013 that former Commissioner James should be brought back to head the force.

He said the decision was taken back then because it was felt that James could “bring some leadership, and of course to ensure that the Force grow from strength to strength” and the appointment “was supposed to be for a short period”.

According to PM Mitchell, both he and James have now agreed that the time has come for him to move out.

“He has agreed and understands, and the preparation for the new leadership is now taking place,” he told the Lower House.

Prime Minister Mitchell said the ruling New National Party (NNP) government believes it is now in a good position to move to the next leadership of the Force.

 ACP Edvin Martin – could soon land the top job in the police force

ACP Edvin Martin – could soon land the top job in the police force

“The timing, I am not prepared to say, but he (James) and I have spoken about that specifically,” he said.

Dr. Mitchell indicated that one of the men under James’ leadership will have to accept the new post, and will be given an opportunity, not long from now, to show him along with the Acting Commissioner and the country that he has learnt and is ready to take the Force forward.

Speculation is rife that Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Edvin Martin is the most likely replacement.

Martin is known to have emerged as the second best candidate for the job when interviews were conducted for the post of Commissioner of Police under the 2008-13 Congress government of Tillman Thomas. The job was given to Thompson.

Prime Minister Mitchell also addressed the issue of a new Commissioner of Prisons to replace Ashley “Ram” Folkes who is quitting the job at the end of the year.

Folkes, a former soldier in the disbanded People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA), was also brought in by Dr. Mitchell after the 2013 poll as Commissioner of Prisons to take over from Superintendent of Police, Don McKenzie.

Folkes was quoted in another local newspaper as saying that he is now a U.S Green Card holder and had to spend at least 6 months every year inside the United States.

Dr. Mitchell told Parliament that he has also agreed with Folkes that it is the time for the prisons to move onto new leadership.

“He and I have also agreed that the new leadership should be in place not long from now,” he said.
The person who is tipped to take over at the prisons is Superintendent of Police, Trevor Modeste who is currently back at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) after a stint as an Assistant Commissioner of Police.

Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that Modeste was interviewed sometime last week by a four-member panel that included former Commissioner of Police, Nesta Ogilvie for the post.

Dr. Mitchell told Parliament that he recognised that there is still a lot of work to be done at the prisons especially in the face of serious problems such as drugs and cell phones that continue to make their way into the hands of prison inmates.

Fingers are pointing at a number of rogue officers as persons who help inmates lay their hands on some of the illegal items.

Oscar Bartholomew Coroner to be completed in January

January 13, 2017, is the date set for the completion of the Coroner’s Inquest at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court, into the December 2011 death of Grenadian-born Canadian citizen, Oscar Bartholomew.

Oscar Bartholomew – died after a beating at the hands of the police

Oscar Bartholomew – died after a beating at the hands of the police

Last week Friday, Coroner of the district in the parish of St. David, Magistrate Teddy St. Louis called to the stand his 24th and final witness, retired Assistant Superintendant of Police Ignatius Mason, who was attached to the Criminal Investigation Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) and was the chief investigator into Bartholomew’s death.

ASP Mason’s testimony, which was given in the presence of the 6-member jury, which is expected to return a verdict based on the evidence, surrounded statements taken from the five police officers charged with manslaughter or the offence – 649 Edward Gibson, 237 Ruddy Felix, 675 Shaun Ganness, 748 Kenton Hazzard and Rural Constable, and Wendell Sylvester.

The inquiry follows the March 2013 order by High Court Judge, Justice Septimus Rudd, to squash the charges laid against the officers and for a Coroner’s Inquest to take place in keeping with Section (9) of the pre-Constitutional Coroner’s Act.

The officers have since been reinstated into the police force and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Christopher Nelson, QC has filed an appeal with the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal into Justice Rudd’s judgment.

The Coroner’s Inquest, which commenced in April 2013, is expected to determine the circumstances under which Bartholomew died, where he died, whether it was by accident or an act of violence.

The coroner is not authorised to identify who is responsible for his death.

THE NEW TODAY understands that if the jury returns a verdict that Bartholomew died as a result of manslaughter, the officers would be indicted and the matter taken to the high court for trial before a judge and jury.

December 26 marks 5 years since Bartholomew met his unfortunate death, which happened while he was vacationing on the island with his Canadian wife.

They were reportedly travelling in a vehicle in the direction of St. Andrew, when they stopped at the St. David’s Police Station to use the restroom.

Bartholomew was allegedly beaten inside the police station by some police officers who were trying to restrain him after an encounter with a Woman Police Constable, who is said to be the daughter of one of the accused officers, 649 Edward Gibson.

Speculation is rife that the incident occurred after Bartholomew mistook the female officer for an old friend, while waiting for his wife outside the police station.

Batson walks free of rape charges after spending over two years on remand

“Thank you almighty God.”

45-year-old Cassius Batson found not guilty of rape

45-year-old Cassius Batson found not guilty of rape

Those were the words uttered by 45-year-old Springs, St. George resident, Cassius Batson, last week

Thursday, after a nine member jury declared him not guilty of four counts of rape charges brought against him by his former lover.

In an interview with reporters after the verdict was handed down at the No. 5 High Court on The Carenage, St. George’s, Batson, who has spent a period of two years and seven months on remand at the Richmond Hill Prisons because of the allegations, said he “just want to go to church and give God the praise for what he has done” for him.

The jury panel had failed to return a unanimous verdict at the end of the 3-week trial after deliberating on the evidence in the case, for well over three hours.

High Court Judge, Justice Shiraz Aziz, who presided over the trial, gave the jury additional time to return a verdict.

Batson, who has a number of previous rape convictions, was accused of raping his ex-lover, Jamel Alexander, whom he shared intimacy with for a period of 6 months.

The incidents allegedly occurred in April 2014 at their home, which they rented together at Springs in St. George.

The father of three had maintained his innocence throughout the duration of the trial.

He expressed strong belief that the charges brought against him were based on his past convictions.

However, he said the time spent on remand was used to do a lot of reflecting and that he is ready to make some serious changes in his life, for the better.

Batson placed on record heartfelt thanks to his defense attorney, George Prime, who stood by his side throughout the trial.

Speaking to reporters after the verdict was delivered; Attorney Prime described the matter as a brief period of romance that went sour, due to the involvement of another man, believed to be Alexander’s ex-lover.

He said the jury’s findings makes it clear that the incidents were cases of consented sex, noting that the jury was obviously not convinced by the evidence brought forward against his client, as they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on their first attempt.

GHTA has bleak oversight of Liat

President of the Grenada Hoteal and Tourism Association (GHTA), Jerry Rappaport does not believe Liat will resume the flights that have been cut from Grenada unless the Keith Mitchell Administration has the resources to provide the airline with concessions.

“As long as we are not doing that… I don’t think they’re (Liat) going to give us the kind of service that we really need,” said Rappaport who was a guest on the “Sundays With George Grant” Radio programme.

He claimed that there are a lot of issues with airlift, indicating that this is the biggest issue facing Grenada at present.

He said that unless there is better service from Liat, the regional tourism will not increase.

According to Rappaport, members of the GHTA have already begun to express concerns about Sunwing taking control of the Rex Grenadian Hotel, and how that airline will impact on other existing airlift.

He said the reason why the region needs a strong regional carrier is because a lot of the flights out of North America and the United Kingdom leave too early in the morning for someone in a neighbouring area to make a connection.

However, he said that in order for Grenada to get more airlift, there has to be more hotel rooms.

During her contribution to the 2017 budget debate, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen claimed that Liat has been disrespectful to the country.

Dr. Modeste-Curwen indicated that with less than one month’s notice the airline pulled out the early morning flight to Barbados which is known to be most critical to the country which, she said, “will hurt us.”

Liat also pulled its late night flight out of Trinidad and Tobago to Grenada on September 19.

The senior Government Minister informed the House that in consultation with Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell about having to make a financial contribution to Liat, she was told that Grenada will pay if the airline provides proper and efficient service.

“We paid before, and we stopped paying because of their disrespectful conduct, and we will continue to not pay as long as this behaviour I(continues), this is a sovereign nation,. and it must be respected by all,” she said.

GTA retains Cheryl Andrews Marketing Communications

CORAL GABLES – Miami-based PR agency Cheryl Andrews Marketing Communications (CAMC) has been appointed by the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) to manage its communications and social media strategy in North America and the Caribbean.

CAMC will be responsible for raising awareness of the new “Pure Grenada – the Spice of the Caribbean” brand message in target niche markets.

Following an extensive and competitive review process, CAMC was selected as the agency of record and officially began to manage the destination’s public relations efforts in the U.S., Canada and Caribbean markets on December 1, 2016.

“We are very pleased and delighted to now have public relations representation in the USA, Canada, and the Caribbean after many years. CAMC has years of industry knowledge and PR experience and emerged as the best agency after an intensive process to deliver the quality marketing support that the GTA wants,” said Rodney George, Chairman of the Grenada Tourism Authority.

“Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique cater to the discerning traveller looking for serene escapes and soft adventures off-the-beaten path, so strategic, targeted outreach is important to us.”

The Grenada Tourism Authority launched the “Pure Grenada” brand with the intention of highlighting the island’s untouched and unspoiled outdoor offerings.

The idea is to maintain the island’s authenticity and eco-friendly experience while appealing to the key niche markets such as sailing and yachting, cruising, diving, soft adventure, and romance.

“We’ve been representing island destinations in the Caribbean for 30 years and are confident that we can connect Grenada with media and travelers in a way that will drive business for the island and its stakeholders, said Cheryl Andrews, CAMC president.

“We love Grenada and can’t wait to inspire travelers to visit the island.”

Launch of Calendar for charitable purposes

One primary school student will be the recipient of the proceeds coming out of the sale of a 2017 calendar as a product of the newly launched Charity for Jewls, the brain child of a model with the Grenada Modeling Agency (GMA), Garia Walker.

 Garia Walker – President of Charity for Jewls

Garia Walker – President of Charity for Jewls

The calendar, “Pure Spice – Art of Grenada” was launched on Monday at the Grenada Craft Centre and is a manifestation of talent that is stifled within the country.

It showcases Grenadian models, artists, designers and local scenery as everything that is portrayed within the calendar is entirely Grenadian.

Member of Charity for Jewls, Garia Walker said the contents of the calendar exemplify the slogan “Pure Grenada.”

She said the calendar is the realisation of what is considered purity “in our Grenadian context, pure beauty, pure creativity; pure artistic ability”.

“We are not going to look just at the material aspect of the Calendar but the intangible contribution it would make because Charity for Jewls is the organisation that targets and would assist in helping the poor, the vulnerable, the needy; the children”, she remarked.

According to Walker, the essence of giving was instilled in her as a child and it is pleasure to make some other child smile in a way that she can.

“I grew up in an extended family where giving and sharing was engraved in me and it became a norm throughout my adolescent and adult life. I always thought of ways to do things that represent that part of my persona and this is how Charity for Jewls was conceived”, she said.

“…Everybody knows charity means to give willingly and Jewls which is our shortened abbreviation for Jewel was given to the organisation to highlight the need for the precious, the poor, and the vulnerable and to have a name that resonates with the people,” she added.

Treasurer of the Charity, Rickisha Phillip disclosed that this year’s proceeds will target a child but they are hoping to expand it as the charity grows.

“The calendar proceeds will be going towards a student we want to target for this year. The money will be given to students who start off their school term but in particular it would be a primary (school) student…”, she said.

The Calendar – Pure Spice – Art of Grenada

The Calendar – Pure Spice – Art of Grenada

“…We‘re looking at two or three more students that we can target later on in the year, 2017. For now our proceeds will go towards students to help them out in their development and making sure that they have education and are comfortable within the school system and later on we will be moving on to the older generation,” she added.

Designer of the character for the month of September, Decima Joseph gave her experience in putting together her piece for modeling.

“I liked prints. I wanted to incorporate a lot of colours, that’s why I chose two different prints. Coming up with a design was a bit challenging but when I figured out that I wanted to do prints, just getting the colours to match…it was really difficult…putting everything together took just about a day and some,” she said.

Another designer, Kyle Smith said it was good putting forth something for a good cause.

“The design on the calendar is a specially made bow tie…because of the print, the red, green, yellow and black – it will be released in February because of Independence. It’s a good initiative, it’s something different, it certainly will touch people…it will be effective and help create opportunities for the target students,” he remarked.

Designer of the Calender is Davanni Phillip who gave full support for the work of the group.

“It’s a positive cause; I am very pleased to be a part of it.  It’s for the charity and knowing that it will help people it gives me some sort of satisfaction,” he said.

The calendar will be on sale at the airport, Gittens Pharmacy and at the office of the Grenada Modeling Agency (GMA) at the Craft Centre for the price of the $45.

Minister of Tourism talks disgust over LIAT

Minister for Tourism, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen has lamented the disrespect shown by LIAT through its significant reduction of flights to and from Grenada.

LIAT has cut back on a number of flights at the Maurice Bishop International Airport in Point Salines, St. George’s.

The Minister who was addressing the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 2017 budget debate at the Trade Centre last week Tuesday said that the loss of LIAT flights has an effect on the country.

“We lost the direct flight with Caribbean Airlines and regionally we have been severely hurt by the turning out of LIAT over the past year”, she said.

“LIAT move from seven flights (per day) in the past year to two flights and I think one other when they can but Mr. Speaker all of these three flights are when they can because our people and our visitors continue to complain about if they can (leave the island) and when they can,” she added.

This situation, according to Dr. Modeste-Curwen is cause for concern as talks of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and Caribbean Unity are not being manifested through the lack of effort on the part of LIAT.

“We do not see Caribbean Unity in how LIAT operate because they are getting their directives from some of the leaders in the Caribbean, Mr. Speaker and this is very very sad. LIAT has been extremely (disrespectful) not to the Ministry, not just to the Prime Minister or to myself but to the country.

“With less that one month’s notice, they pull out the flight that they know is most critical to Grenada and they know that it would hurt us, so it was targeted not by accident, Mr Speaker, it was targeted.
This is a clear reference to the early morning flight from MBIA to Grantley Adams International airport in Barbados to facilitate Grenadians travelling to the U.S Embassy on visa matters.

In the past, the schedule of the flight was from St. Vincent and the Grenadines to Grenada then onto Barbados but Grenada was cut off from the route.

The female government minister said that LIAT went ahead and cut the service despite serious reservations raised by the Mitchell-led government in St. George’s.

“When they told us about the cutting we knew how it would affect our people; those who go for visa, those who making connected flights in other places and so we begged. We asked them – the CEO of the airport (and) myself, we spoke with them but before I spoke to them, I consulted with my Minister for Finance and I said Prime Minister, you know every airline is saying you have to pay to play, if that comes up what is my directive?

“He (PM Mitchell) said we will pay if we get proper and efficient service and I know that our Minister for Finance is still committed to that because we paid before but we stopped paying because of their disrespectful conduct and we will continue to not pay as long as this behaviour continues. This is a sovereign nation and it must be respected by all Mr. Speaker.

The minister assured the country that whatever flights were lost through LIAT, will be found in another airline, as government was currently engaged in dialogue with other airlines to fill the space.

“It is troubling to know that other airlines are so accommodating …so there are people coming to us. They are calling us and we are negotiating with them. I will not call names but a number of airline services have been offering their services.

“We have approached others and we expect in the not too distant future to be announcing that we have flights. The flights that were taken away from us will be restored to the people. Our government, the Ministry of Tourism, our airlift committee, our GTA -,we are all committed to ensuring that we have flights to keep our people happy and to keep our tourism afloat, Mr. Speaker.

Minister Modeste-Curwen announced that the island will see additional flights in the new year from other major airlines including Jet Blue moving from four to five flights a week to New York beginning in January.

Outraged for black womanhood

Saunders (New)After a lifetime in Caribbean and international politics, I thought the time had long since passed when I could be outraged by any event.

But I was outraged last week and I continue to seethe over the fact that Pamela Ramsey Taylor, the Director of a Clay County, West Virginia, non-profit who was removed from her post after she called Michelle Obama an “ape in heels” in a November Facebook post, will be re-instated in her job on December 23.  What signal does this re-instatement send to Americans, black and white?   Indeed, what statement does it make to the rest of the world?

This is not only blatant racism getting a pass; it is a most disturbing endorsement of it. Worse yet, it is a savage attack on black womanhood – something to which every right-minded person anywhere in the world should respond with robust indignation.

I would not have been comfortable with myself if, through this commentary, I did not record my anger that Taylor’s crass and vulgar remark has been rewarded.  That reward opens wide the door to similar – if not worse – assaults on the dignity of black women.

Arguably, black women have been denigrated and degraded more than any other race of women in history and the world.  In the Americas, including the Caribbean, they have been owned, abused, violated and discounted by white men and white women alike.

For centuries, in slavery, they did not own their own bodies nor could they claim their own children. Their maltreatment did not end with slavery.  In the post-emancipation period, they were denied education, training and the vote even as these rights were reluctantly granted to black men. In modern times, they struggle for equal pay with men; and for access to jobs for which they are as qualified as any man, black and white.

Michelle Obama epitomises the finest qualities of womanhood.  She overcame all the prejudices and bigotry endemic in the society into which she was born to attend premier US institutions, graduating from Princeton University (graduating cum laude in 1985) and Harvard Law School in 1988.  She worked for a leading law firm in Chicago.  And, if her academic and professional accomplishments are not more than sufficient to earn her respect and admiration, she is physically an extremely attractive woman who carries herself with immense grace and charm.

Perhaps it is that attractiveness – acknowledged worldwide by Kings and Queens and celebrated fashion houses as much as ordinary folk – that caused Taylor to describe this fine representative of all women (not just black women) as an “ape in heels”.

For those in whom racial superiority is ingrained, the very notion that a black woman could be regarded as bright, beautiful and regal, challenges their atavistic and visceral sense of superiority and, with it, their power.  The “ape in heels” remark was as much an expression of a desire to repress black people as contestants for a place equal to white people, as it was a spewing of vexation that this particular woman is a shining example to others who might be emboldened to follow in her footsteps.

Much has been written about the Presidency of Barack Obama. Not so much has been written of Michelle.  But, the dignity, decency and respect for the Obama White House was not his doing alone.  The Obama family is among the very best of American Presidential families (all of whom hitherto have been white) and that is due as much to Michelle Obama as to Barack Obama.  Their performance is summed-up in the phrase that will be associated with her eternally: “When they go low, we go high”.

What she clearly meant by that is that, despite the racial slurs and the unprecedented public abuse thrown at her husband – the twice-elected President, they operated in the White House consistent with their roles as the representatives of all the people of the United States.

The racist elements in the United States (and in other parts of the world) were never content with a black President or a black First Lady, both of whom captured the imagination and respect of people the world over.  That acceptance and acclaim does not play well with their characterisation of the black race as inferior, or their own sense of ownership of the levers of power.

When Taylor said that she would be pleased to see “a white woman” again in the White House, she was asserting relief that whites could be seen again to be fully in charge.  The flip-side of that contention is that blacks would be returned to their place – and that place does not include the highest office in the land, or occupancy of the “White” House.

Michelle Obama never responded to Taylor’s remarks.  She did not dignify it.  She did the right thing.  But the government of West Virginia did the wrong thing by re-instating Taylor to her job. She now has a license to continue to be vicious and others will feel they have a free pass to denigrate black people.

In all this, the words of the late Maya Angelou, articulating the resolve of a black women in particular to overcome, dances through my mind:

“You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise”.

The Obamas triumphed in the White House, and showed to the world that the depiction of black people – and particularly black women – is distorted.  The Obamas in the White House ripped that depiction to shreds.   In no small way, that is due to a most attractive woman who walked as gracefully in her heels, as she sparkled in her running shoes, and even barefooted.

Every woman should be pleased that Michelle Obama represented and empowered them.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the OAS.  He is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London and Massey College in the University of Toronto.  The views expressed are his own)

Maritime Operation seizes $226,000 of ganja

A maritime operation in Carriacou has lead to the arrest of three men as well as the seizure of three bags of marijuana, and the confiscation of an 18-foot speed boat.

Two of the drug accused – arrested while heading to Grenada

Two of the drug accused – arrested while heading to Grenada

The combined operation involving members of the Drug Squad, Regional Security Services Maritime Patrol, Grenada Coast Guard, and Police Officers from the Carriacou Police Station was carried out last week.

26-year old Aubrey Barkar who is a labourer from St. Vincent, and Keron Walker, 31-year old fisherman from L’Esterre, Carriacou were arrested, while a third suspect, Seon Grant from Sauteurs, St. Patrick’s whom it is believed was responsible for the shipment of the drugs turned himself in to the police.

A high level source told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that Barkar and Walker were caught outside of L’Esterre, heading to Grenada with the marijuana in their possession.

The source who spoke on condition of not being identified said the lawmen were informed that the drugs was intended for Grant.

Seon Grant – believed to be the mastermind behind the drugs

Seon Grant – believed to be the mastermind behind the drugs

The men are accused of having in their possession one hundred pounds of the illegal drugs which has a street value of $226,000.

Barkar and Walker were jointly charged with possession of the illegal drugs, and trafficking, while Grant was charged with two counts of conspiracy and one count of importing and trafficking.

Grant was granted bail in the sum of $150,000 with two sureties during a court appearance last week Friday but Barkar and Walker were remanded to custody at the Richmond Hill prison.

Earlier this year Grant was among six men who were jointly charged with possession of firearms and ammunition.