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News Round UP: Week Ending 1/30/16

Will Bolt, bolt in 2020? Unrest Continues in Haiti. US Warns expectant Mother about Zika Virus. Trinidad and Tobago Red Force to retained their NAGICO Super50 title last Saturday.

JAMAICA
Usain Bolt says he has considered the possibility of extending his remarkable sprinting career to the 2020 Olympics — but is targeting a history-making new world 200m record at this year’s Rio de Janeiro games first.

The Jamaican sprint star has repeatedly said he plans to hang up his spikes after the 2017 World Championships in London, bringing the curtain down on a record-breaking career that has included six Olympic gold medals.

However, the 29-year-old told Television Jamaica in an interview aired on Sunday that his Coach Glen Mills had suggested he was capable of running in a fourth Olympics if he chose to.

“The coach says I can go on to even the next Olympics in 2020,” Bolt said. “But I’m not gonna say what I’m gonna do. My coach says I should stop talking about it all the time; let’s just go through these two years and see what happens.”
Pressed further on the possibility of an Olympic swansong in Japan, Bolt added: “We’ll see. The older you get, the harder the training gets.
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REGIONAL

Haiti, where demonstrators marched to protest the latest elections on January 25, 2016 is listed as the most corrupt nation in the Caribbean. Seven CARICOM nations have scored below 50 on the latest Transparency International Corruption Index released today, making them the most corrupt nations in the entire Caribbean according the latest Transparency International Corruption Index released this morning.

Corruption is defined as comprising illegal activities, which are deliberately hidden and only come to light through scandals, investigations or prosecutions. Here are the top 7 as complied by News Americas Now.

1: Haiti: With a low score of 17 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index in 2015 compared to 19 in 2014, Haiti ranked as the most corrupt country in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti is a major narco-trafficking transshipment point according to the U.S. naro-reports. The dysfunctional judicial system is underfunded, inefficient, corrupt, and burdened by a large backlog of cases, outdated legal codes, and poor facilities according to the Heritage Foundations’ 2015 Index of Economic Freedom.

2: Guyana: The South American nation of Guyana also dropped down the TI 2015 rank, coming in at 29 compared to 30 last year, making it the second most corrupt nation in the Caribbean. The cocaine trade has generated corruption and violence.

3: Dominican Republic: The Dominican Republic came in at three on the most corrupt scale, scoring a TI rank of 33, up from 32 in 2014. According to the Heritage Foundations’ 2015 Index of Economic Freedom report, the judiciary in the DR is politicized and riddled with corruption, and the legal system offers little recourse to those who lack money or influence. Additionally, “Corruption is still pervasive in the economy, exacerbated by drug trafficking in recent years.”

4: Suriname: The fourth most corrupt Caribbean nation is Suriname with a TI rank of 36. This former Dutch Caribbean territory actually retained its rank from 2014, showing no improvements. It is a country where the Heritage Foundations’ 2015 Index of Economic Freedom report says the rule of law is undermined by a growing domestic drug trade that encourages corruption. Additionally, “Organized crime and drug networks undermine governance and the judicial system.” Corruption is also most pervasive in government procurement, license issuance, land policy, and taxation, HF said.5: Trinidad & Tobago: The oil rich nation of Trinidad & Tobago came in at fifth on the most corrupt list across the Caribbean. It actually dropped on the TI rank for 2015, increasing to 39 from 38 in 2014. It is a place where HF says “drug-related violence undermines the rule of law, and corruption has infiltrated the police force and increases the daily cost of living and corruption, much of it drug-related, diverts resources and damages the rule of law.” The HF report also found that the judicial branch is independent but subject to some political pressure and corruption.

6: Jamaica: Taking the sixth spot on the list of most corrupt Caribbean nations is Jamaica. It came in at 41 on the latest ranks, up from 38 in 2014. According to the Heritage Foundation, “Jamaicans see corruption as a root cause of their high crime rate.” HF also says the government has yet to send a strong signal against corruption.

7: Cuba: Coming in at number 7 is Cuba, which this year scored a Transparency International rank of 47, up from 46 in 2014. Although the perceived level of corruption has traditionally been far lower in Cuba than in other Latin American countries, it remains a considerable systemic problem, according to the Heritage Foundations’ 2015 Index of Economic Freedom report. “Low salaries for public officials and the dual exchange rate provide incentives for illicit enrichment and only state enterprises may enter into economic agreements with foreigners as minority partners, says HF.

This year’s index ranks 168 countries/territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, with lower levels meaning more corrupt. The index draws on 12 surveys covering expert assessments and views of business people.

This year Transparency International is calling on all people to take action by voting at unmaskthecorrupt.org.
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NATIONAL

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is warning pregnant women against travel to two popular Caribbean destinations.
The CDC late Tuesday said pregnant women should postpone travel to the Dominican Republic as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands, because of the risk of exposure to the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects.

The popular travel destinations join the list of 22 countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean, where cases of mosquito-borne Zika infection has occurred.

Countries where the Zika virus has been reported are: Brazil, Barbados, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname and Venezuela.

Between November 2015 and January 2016, local transmission of the virus was detected in 14 new countries and territories. PAHO confirmed the presence of the Zika virus in Haiti this month while the Ministry of Health in Guyana reported its first case also recently. In Barbados, media quoting the Ministry of Health, report that eight suspected cases of Zika are currently under investigation while three cases each were reported in Guadeloupe, Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin.

The virus was first reported in the Americas in Brazil, where according to Brazilian health authorities, more than 3,500 cases were reported between October 2015 and January 2016, affecting 724 municipalities in 21 states along with 46 deaths. Two of these cases are miscarriages and two are newborns who died in the first 24 hours of life.

Zika is a viral disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that causes fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea and rash. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.

With Rio de Janeiro set to host the Olympics from Aug. 5 to Aug. 21, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said the IOC will issue guidelines this week concerning Zika.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites. The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

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REGIONAL

West Indies middle-order batsman Darren Bravo says he is pleased with the role he played that inspired Trinidad and Tobago Red Force to retain their NAGICO Super50 title last Saturday.
Bravo missed his century on three occasions, but his prolific batting propelled Red Force into the final where they dominated Barbados Pride with a one-sided 72-run win to remain champions.

“It’s a good feeling. Obviously when you contribute to a winning cause it’s always a good feeling. And I’m always happy about that,” said Bravo, who returned to Red Force’s line-up towards the end of the competition after the West Indies tour of Australia.

“It’s just a matter of continuing believing in myself. At the end of the day, I put in a lot of work so it’s always good to know that whenever you go out there, and you get that opportunity, it’s good to know that you’re reaping the rewards.”

The stylish left-hander scored 82 against the Pride in their Group A preliminary round game, 95 against the Guyana Jaguars in the semi-final and perished for 97 against the Pride in the final.

“So I just have to continue working on my game and try my best to perform. I look at it both ways,” said 26-year-old Bravo.

“In the (games) that I played, I got a couple chances early and things could have been a lot different. These things do happen and it’s very important that I could have gone on to get the hundred.”
Bravo collected the trophy as the best batsman after totaling 274 runs in three innings at an average of 91.33.
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HAITI
The United States has called for the Haitian government to hold perpetrators of electoral violence accountable for their crimes, saying electoral intimidation and destruction of property were “unacceptable.” This was after the elections were postponed due to protesters started burning votes and blocking roads.

Reuters reports that State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner released a statement earlier this week, stating that The United States has taken interest in the events unfolding during the Haiti elections, and “expects that persons responsible for organizing, financing, or participating in electoral intimidation and violence, will be held accountable in accordance with Haitian law,”

Political unrest became rampant after accusations of fraud were hurled against the current president, which sparked the protests which caused the voting to be postponed indefinitely. New York Times reports that the protests started during the first round of voting in October last year, when candidates, supporters and Haitian leaders started flinging accusations of fraud at each other.

The United States have pressed to continue the runoff vote despite well-founded fears that the action would result in even more violence in the long run. Gédéon Jean, a human rights lawyer appointed to review the October election, suspected that this push for the continuation of the elections was due to the massive contribution given to the Haitian government to ensure a “”credible, inclusive, and legitimate” election. “The way American diplomats are supporting the election, is it because they don’t want to lose that $33 million?” Jean said, in reference to the contribution given by the U.S. government.

However, the rampant violence and fraud allegations resulted in one of the two candidates boycotting the election, effectively rendering the election into a one-person presidential race. In other report from New York Times , opposition candidate Jude Celestin has refused to participate in the election due to the same fraud allegations that sparked violent protests all over the country. The election was postponed indefinitely while Haitian leaders negotiate a resolution to the crisis. The Provisional Electoral Council president, Pierre-Louis Opont said in a news conference that the delay was caused by “too much violence throughout the country,” but there have been no further announcement as to when the elections will resume, if at all.

President Michel Martelly will still leave as scheduled on February 4. There is no news of a replacement or the implementation of an interim government after he leaves as of yet.

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