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News Round UP: Week Ending 7/30/16

National

The first medical marijuana dispensary in Florida is slated to open.

Trulieve, the approved organization in northwest Florida, is set to open a dispensary in Tallahassee, after being given dispensing authorization by Florida’s health department.

The state’s Office of Compassionate Use, which was formed to oversee state regulation of medical marijuana, projects that there will be dispensing locations in 19 cities by the time all six organizations are up and running.

The Legislature gave limited approval to medical marijuana in 2014, with many expecting it to be available early in 2015. The process was beset by administrative delays.

Patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy, chronic seizures and chronic muscle spasms can order medical marijuana by contacting their physician, as long as both are in a state registry.

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Barbados

Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart on Monday sought to underscore the importance of protecting the society from various threats, while reiterating that the island is not just an economy, but a society.

Stuart, delivering the feature address at the National Societal Consultation, said the world had become unstable, with “unprecedented” violence.

“We see the family put under enormous threat and pressure; our institutions, which were supposed to reinforce our attachment to the building of a society, have been operating under untold pressure as well.

“The school, church, family, the labour movement, our political parties, all of these reinforcing institutions have been under enormous pressure as a result of a very volatile global environment,” Stuart told delegates to the annual consultation being held under the theme “Citizen Security: Linking Societal Systems for Success”.

“It is not just guns that can get into Barbados; it is not just foreign goods that can get into Barbados, but alien habits can get into Barbados as well, to undermine or to colour a lot of what we do or want to do here in this country,” he added.

Prime Minister Stuart said that if societies were to be protected from threats, officials must determine whether to adopt the mentality of the fox and focus on many things, or that of the hedgehog and zero in on one or two very big issues.

He identified social alienation, frustration, insecurity and disillusionment as the “demons” the western world, including Barbados and the Caribbean, must protect their societies from.

On the issue of alienation, he told the consultation that “there is an increasing number of people, not all young, who do not feel a part of anything that is going on in our society.

“We have not been communicating with them effectively enough to get them to buy into what it is we are selling…. If you have alienated people who are not feeling a part of the dynamic that is operative around them, then your society is under threat because you cannot count on these people to rise up and defend something of which they do not feel a part.”

Stuart noted that the feeling of insecurity that so many people were experiencing was undermining the coherence that should be holding society together. He expressed the view that too many sacred places and persons had been falling, making persons wonder if they could trust anybody.

The prime minister stressed that if social alienation, frustration and insecurity were not confronted, disillusionment would creep in.

“If we ever get to the stage where people lose their capacity to dream, to believe that things may be rough now but tomorrow promises to be better, if faith in the future is lost, then chaos will ensue, society will implode…” he added.

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St Vincent

A New York based local calypsonian will re-appear in court on October 31, after he was released on EC$25,000 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) bail on charges of uttering seditious words and threatening to kill Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves and members of his family.

But, Israel Bruce, the attorney for Paul Scrubb, who appeared before Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne Matthias at the Serious Offences Court on Monday, says his client is innocent and is accusing the government of engaging in a witch-hunt.

Scrubb was arrested last Friday at the ET Joshua Airport as he was about to leave the island after a five week stay.

The calypsonian, who uses the stage name “I-Madd”, is accused of maliciously sending or uttering threats to kill Gonsalves between December 9 and 31 last year.

According to the charges, the calypsonian said “Ralph Gonsalves should be assassinated, also his whole damn family period”.

Scrubb was not required to plead when he appeared in court and the prosecution did not object to bail.

He will have to report to a police station on Mondays and Thursdays, surrender all travel documents and obtain the permission of the court to leave the country.

Speaking to reporters after the court hearing, Bruce said that his client is innocent of the charges.

“Mind you, the utterances, as alleged, were not made by this man; not by this man. But that is a legal hurdle which I will not address,” he said, adding that the government is trying to intimidate its critics overseas.

Bruce noted that Scrubb was arrested at the airport after spending five weeks in the country of his birth.

“What is exciting to note is that Mr. Scrubb [was] in St Vincent for five weeks and on the very day he was about to board the …aircraft, he was taken from the airport terminal and he was taken to the Central Police Station, he was interviewed and then charged.”

He noted also that the prosecution was asking for three months to prepare its case given the fact that the charges were being brought seven months after the offences were allegedly committed.

Bruce said the prosecution of Scrubb is the government’s way of sending a message to Vincentians in the Diaspora “wherever you are, do not say anything because when you come to St Vincent, we can use our powers of arrest and arrest you.”

He noted the implications of the court proceeding on Scrubb’s employment in the United States.

“This man has a job. You know what that means? By virtue of holding the request to hold him here for three months, his job goes into jeopardy. He loses that job. Nobody cares. And you’re asking him to stay here for three months while you investigate,” Bruce said, reminding journalists that the offences were allegedly committed in December 2015.

“So you have between December and July. So, in seven months, you couldn’t have enough evidence to bring the charge, but you want three more months and in three months, you will be able to do it.

“Now, let the ordinary man who is listening to this and hearing this come to one conclusion: the ultimate objective is scaremongering; to scare people like Paul Scrubb and the others. But for those who intend to succeed on scaremongering, they must get the message. It will not work. People in the Diaspora will be resolved to speak about the issues in St. Vincent,” Bruce told reporters.

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Jamaica

THE public is being called on to support this Sunday’s ‘Jamaica Pray’ initiative by adding their voices in prayer for the nation.

The call was made Tuesday by the Jamaica Umbrella-Groups of Churches (JUGC) during the launch of the event at the Guardian Life building in New Kingston.

“On Sunday, July 31st, between the hours of 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm, there will be a mass gathering of the Christian community in Half-Way-Tree on the occasion of ‘Jamaica Pray’. This will be a very significant historic moment as it will be on the eve of the anniversary of our emancipation as a people and we will gather to seek God’s face to our nation that is struggling to bring crime and violence and road fatalities under control,” JUGC Chairman Reverend Cassel Dunkley told journalists at the press launch.

He said that the prayers will be directed at the youth, the family, the church, the nation, leaders and law enforcement agents, among others.

Dunkley said that, while the church will not lose its main focus to making disciples for Christ, it will be looking to God for empowerment by the Spirit which is needed for more practical and long-term solutions that will lead to a peaceful society.

“The afternoon’s activities, significantly prayer will be the object of the day, it is a mass prayer meeting as a matter of fact, it’s not a rally, not a convention…it’s a grand national prayer meeting and seven significant prayers are going to be prayed,” explained Bishop Dr Alvin Bailey, chairman of the ‘Jamaica Pray’ Planning Committee.

“But before those seven prayers, there will be an opening prayer and closing prayer and the opening prayer will take the form of a prayer of consecration and the closing prayer will be a time of facilitating repentance and, of course, reconciliation,” he continued.

Bailey stated that, while there will be choirs present, the occasion will not be about the entertainment but about solemness and a call to prayer and for prayer.

“Our decision to pray is in response to what we believe God is saying to us and we have read the scripture and we believe that the signs of our times and the nation cannot speak any louder than it has spoken. Those of us who know the God of peace should pray that the God of peace will bring peace to Jamaica, healing and reconciliation to Jamaica and we pray that God will hear our prayers,” Bailey said.

In his remarks, Minister of National Security Robert Montague commended the JUGC for using its “considerable influence” to call Jamaicans to unite in prayer for peace and security.

“We encourage Jamaicans from all across the country, Jamaicans from all walks of life, of every religious persuasion, of every social and every political strata and colour to join us in Half-Way-Tree square. Let us make a powerful statement for peace and lawfulness in our country and take a united stance against crime and the criminals who threaten the very future of Jamaicans,” Montague stated in his remarks.

“The blood of our brothers and sisters cry out from the ground, babies, children, mothers, grandmothers and the many innocent lives viciously taken away at the hands of heartless, cold, dirty criminals. It cannot be business as usual for any of us,” Montague added.

The minister stated that it’s important “not to point fingers” as every sector of society has contributed to the problem of criminality and so all must be a part of the solution.

‘Jamaica Pray’ will be held in Half Way Tree Square and will see the roads in and around the area closed as early as 6:00 am on Sunday. Details about alternate routes and traffic changes will be made available before Sunday.

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