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News Round UP: Week Ending 2/20/16

JAMAICA

Political ombudsman Donna Parchment- Brown is to write to the leadership of both political parties to cease, with immediate effect, the ongoing tit-for-tat attacks on each other as campaigning heightens ahead of the February 25 General Election.
Parchment-Brown said that the attacks were getting out of hand and she was concerned that if not addressed, they could boil over into violence.
“I am writing to the prime minister and to the leader of the Opposition to say that, in addition to a number of issues, there are concerns that the political climate is unsuitable for the conduct of free and fair elections and in that context, it is important for them to cool it down,” said Parchment.
She made the comments while attending a meeting with members of the entertainment industry on Duke Street in downtown Kingston.

The participants were presented with copies of the political code of conduct. Another issue that was of concern to Parchment was the continued attack by high-ranking members of the ruling People’s National Party (PNP) on Opposition and Jamaica Labour Party leader Andrew Holness over the building of a house in Beverly Hills, St Andrew.

She spoke about growing complaints of political parties using underhanded tactics to block the freedom of passage of supporters from opposing parties.Caribzone_Jamaica

She said she was also concerned about complaints of attacks on the character of Prime Minister and PNP President Portia Simpson Miller.

According to Parchment-Brown, it is imperative for all concerned to cease the negative behavior and use the political platforms to send positive messages.

“We are in the last days of the campaign and it is time for ice on the head, ice in the shoes; it’s not a time for heat,” she remarked. “We will not tolerate the continued posting of flags and fabric.
We [want them to] cease all utterances that could be construed as malicious, libelous, slanderous and not founded in facts,” she said. She said going forward individuals must use facts to support their arguments.

Election day workers, police and military personnel will go to the polls on Monday, February 22, three days before the rest of the population, who are scheduled to vote on February 25.

According to a news release from the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), a total of 26,498 Election Day workers, 10,041 police officers, and 2,569 soldiers will cast their votes between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm in 282 locations across the island.

The ECJ explained in their release Tuesday that under the Representation of the People Act, provisions are made for military and police personnel, as well as election day workers, to vote three days before the rest of the population, to ensure that they are available for duty on election day.

The names of all selected election day workers, police and military personnel have therefore been separated from the official voters list to be used on election day, the commission said.

“The special services personnel will vote at the voting location closest to where they are based,” the release said. “The ballots will later be sorted and transferred to the respective returning officers to be counted on February 25.”

Director of Elections Orrette Fisher, has cautioned the special service electors that they can only vote on February 22.

“Police, military and election day workers who wish to vote must do so on February 22. They will not be able to vote on February 25, as the civilian list is the only list that will be used on that day,” Fisher said.

He added that election day workers will be notified via telephone calls or text message of the date, location and polling stations in which they will cast their votes.
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TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

The energy company, BP Trinidad and Tobago (bpTT) says it will be laying off workers as the company seeks to deal with the low prices on the global market.

Caribzone_TrinidadnTobago“As a result, the company anticipates that at the end of this process approximately 2.5 per cent of its national employees will be impacted and over 50 per cent of its expatriate staff in Trinidad will be repatriated,” bpTT said in a statement.

The company, which employs approximately 1,000 employees, said the charges “are part of the programme British Petroleum (BP) has in place throughout its businesses worldwide to simplify organizations and improve efficiencies to help meet the challenge of the current low oil price environment”.

In January, BP said that it expected 4,000 jobs across its upstream businesses worldwide would be lost as the company makes changes to remain competitive.

“Decreasing our staff is never our first option. These changes are part of the company’s ongoing plans to improve efficiency and manage cost as it responds to the challenges of global energy markets,” said bpTT president Norman Christie.
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ENTERTAINMENT

Reggae group Morgan Heritage has won its first Grammy awards after receiving its first nomination late last year.Morgan-Heritage

Morgan Heritage is a reggae band formed in 1994 by five children of reggae artist Denroy Morgan, namely Peter “Peetah” Morgan, Una Morgan, Roy “Gramps” Morgan, Nakhamyah “Lukes” Morgan and Memmalatel “Mr. Mojo” Morgan.

Morgan Heritage won for Best Reggae Album at the 58th Grammy Awards for ‘Strictly Roots’ on the CTBC Music Group label. The album had topped the Billboard Reggae Album Chart when it was released last April.

The 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards was held Monday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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INTERNATIONAL

U.S. President Barack Obama will make history again when he becomes the first U.S. President in nearly 90 years to visit Cuba.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Cuba on March 21 – 22.

Caribzone_US_CubaThe President’s visit is another demonstration of his commitment to chart a new course for U.S.-Cuban relations and connect U.S. and Cuban citizens through expanded travel, commerce, and access to information, the State Department said Thursday.

In addition to holding a bilateral meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro, President Obama will engage with members of civil society, entrepreneurs and Cubans from different walks of life.

He will then travel to Argentina on March 23 – 24, to meet with the new Argentine President, Mauricio Macri to discuss deepening efforts to increase cooperation between both governments in a range of areas, including trade and investment, renewable energy and climate change, and citizen security.

It has been nearly two decades since the last bilaterally focused visit by a U.S. President to Argentina, Latin America’s third largest country.

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