Update: An official from theSaint Lucia Fire Service confirmed that the woman has succumbed to her injuries. Original Story:The Saint Lucia Fire Service responded to a serious vehicular accident...

As the world enters a new decade, the Caribbean country with the most powerful passport is Barbados. According to the 2020 Henley Passport Index ranking, Barbados continues to reign for another year as the most powerful passport holder in the region while positioned globally at number 24 with its visa-free access to 164 destinations. The country with the least powerful passport in the Caribbean is Haiti ranking 93rd globally with visa-free access to only 49 destinations. The top 10 most powerful Caribbean passports in 2020 are: 1. Barbados- ranking at #24 with visa-free access to 164 destinations 2. Bahamas tied with St Kitts and Nevis –ranking at #27 with visa-free access to 154 destinations 3. Antigua and Barbuda – ranking at #30 with visa-free access to 150 destinations 4. Trinidad and Tobago – ranking at #31 with visa-free access to 149 destinations 5. St Vincent and the Grenadines- ranking at #32 with visa-free access to 146 destinations 6. St Lucia- ranking at #33 with visa-free access to 145 destinations 7. Grenada- ranking at #35 with visa-free access to 142 destinations 8. Dominica- ranking at #37 with visa-free access to 139 destinations 9. Belize- ranking at #56 with visa-free access to 100 destinations 10. Guyana- ranking at #60 with visa-free access to 88 destinations In a statement, the Henley and Partners Passport Index noted that Citizen by Investment countries continue to retain strong positions on the Index. In terms of the Caribbean region, going into the New Year, St Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda secured global spots at 27 and 30 respectively. And in case you were wondering, the country with the most powerful passport in the world continues to be Japan. Japan has held on to this spot for the past three years with visa-free access to 191 destinations compared to Afghanistan which ranked 107th with only 27 visa-free access destinations. The top 10 most power passports in the world are: 1.Japan- visa-free access to 191 destinations 2.Singapore- visa-free access to 190 destinations 3.Germany and South Korea- visa-free access to 189 destinations 4.Finland and Italy- visa-free access to 188 destinations 5. Denmark, Luxembourg, and Spain- visa-free access to 187 destinations 6. France and Sweden- visa-free access to 186 destinations 7. Austria, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, and Switzerland- visa-free access to 185 destinations 8. Belgium, Greece, Norway, United Kingdom, and United States- visa-free access to 184 destinations 9. Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Malta, and New Zealand- visa-free access to 183 destinations 10. Hungary, Lithuania, and Slovakia- visa-free access to 181 destinations.


With elections constitutionally due in February, there is still no word from the ruling Unity government on when next the people of St Kitts and Nevis will head to the polls. Prime Minister Timothy Harris remains tight-lipped on the issue, but made it a point to reiterate the accelerated development experienced in many sectors during his tenure as Prime Minister. During his monthly press conference on Wednesday, he commented on the success of the Unity Housing Solution Programme and announced plans to add to the growing list of citizens who have been empowered through homeownership in the last five years. Today, 15 families will receive keys to their new homes located in Phillips Village, Christ Church, Belle Vue and Tabernacle. While highlighting the significance of homeownership, the Prime Minister said it is an intergenerational asset which is critical to the economic freedom of the people. “Only Team Unity believes in delivering bigger and better housing. Only Team Unity has the resources, through strong economic management, to do so. That is why, to date, my administration has assisted well over 3000 persons with housing solutions. This is a phenomenal achievement by any standard,” he said. PM Harris said his administration is also committed to restoring and maintaining law and order in St Kitts and Nevis. He said there has been a drastic decrease in major crime which can be attributed to the success of the Peace Initiative. Speaking in his capacity as National Security Minister, PM Harris said in February last year police officers held consultation with known gang affiliates, who expressed an interest in putting an end to the violence. In response to questions posed at Wednesday’s press conference, PM Harris said the intervention came in the nick of time, as the crime situation negatively impacted the business community. He said “The Frigate Bay Strip…was being closed down, too much violence there. Businesses were losing customers, too much violence in the streets. Even going to church had become hazardous for when the gunmen were in the streets, whether in Nevis or St. Kitts, they didn’t care.” The Prime Minister said there has been no gang related homicides since March 2019. He also boasted that carnival 2019 was arguably the safest in the nation’s history. “The proof that it is at work is the fact that we had the best and safest carnival; the proof of it at work was that there were no major incidents; the proof that it is working is that everyone with whom you interacted with was able to feel and experience the difference and the merriment that we had in December and which we should have every day,” he said. PM Harris said the Unity administration believes that this approach to peace and security is sustainable and must be continued. He said “We will continue to work with those persons who are vulnerable. They wanted the change, they are in support of it [and] we provided the necessary instruments that would assist that.” Loop News contacted the Office of the Prime Minister for clarity on the election situation. Press Secretary Valencia Grant said the election announcement will be made at the Prime Ministers discretion. “Parliament has to be dissolved after a duration of five years, May will make it five years. After the dissolution of parliament you can go up to 90 days so that takes you down to August. Basically the Prime Minister can ring the bell at any point in time," she said. Opposition Leader Denzil Douglas could not be reached for comment.

Vybz Kartel

Dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel showcases a softer, more personal and introspective side through his new album affectionately titled, 'To Tanesha'. Released onJanuary 10,the 10-track album is dedicated to the incarcerated dancehall icon'scommon-law wife, Tanesha Johnson, popularly known as “Shorty”. In a press release, Kartel opened up about the project takinga step in a new direction by being a centrally hip hop and R&B album. “Like I said, it’s definitely a hip hop and R&B album as far as the tracks and a lot of the language I use, but trust me when I say I am in no way trying to be a hip hop artiste or switching genre camps! It’s just a dancehall artiste expressing certain emotions to his baby mom and I decided it would be a pleasant surprise to express those emotions through other black urban genres. I mean R&B and Hip Hop are huge in Jamaica and maybe even played more than Dancehall so it’s not an alien concept,” Kartel stated in the release. To Tanesha is co-produced by Short Boss Muzik and Vybz Kartel Muzik, with engineering done by Ricardo "RedBoomSupaMix" Reid. The album features some of dancehall and reggae’s most prolific artistes such as Jesse Royal and Jada Kingdom, as well as Jodi Couture, UTG and Sikka Rymes, who are signed to the Vybz Kartel Muzik label. "As it relates to Jada Kingdom andJesse Royal, they are two people who I admire and while listening to each track I just felt that their unique styles were the right match for the project,” the artiste explained. Known for a plethora of music,Kartel explained the process of creating the tracks for the album. “Shaping the sound for this new album was a "play by ear" process as I’ve never done a hip hop and R&B- influenced album before but being a big fan of my American cousins' genres, I pretty much knew how to shape my original melodies. I actually wrote nineof the songs on dancehall beats and switched the tracks to hip hop via Jay Crazie the Genius and one other beat was already Hip Hop; that one is from Guala beats,” he said. Distributed by Zojak Worldwide, 'To Tanesha' is available for streaming and purchase on all major digital platforms online. “I'd like to thank my engineer Ricardo "RedBoomSupaMix" Ried , also the Composers on the album, Jay Crazie da Genius and Guala Beats , thanks to TJ Records for getting things done when I couldn’t , to my distributor Zojak World Wide (especially Zoe) and last but the opposite of least , To Tanesha (pun intended) thanks for being my muse.” Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, is currently serving a life sentence for the murder ofClive 'Lizard' Williams. He is currently awaiting aCourt ofAppeal ruling after challenging the conviction.

This combination photo shows Notorious B.I.G., who won rap artist and rap single of the year, during the annual Billboard Music Awards in New York on Dec. 6, 1995, left, and singer Whitney Houston at the BET Honors in Washington on January 17, 2009. The pair will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 2020 class. (AP Photo)

Posthumous inductees Whitney Houston and The Notorious B.I.G. will lead a new class into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, joined by Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Nine Inch Nails and T-Rex. The gospel-trained Houston, whose soaring voice transformed the Dolly Parton cover “I Will Always Love You” into a gigantic hit, was one of four artists elected after being on the ballot for the first time. The Doobie Brothers, Biggie and T-Rex were the others. The annual induction ceremony will take place May 2 at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, the city where the rock museum is located. The Saturday night show will be on HBO, televised live for the first time. Houston, who succumbed to years of drug abuse in 2012, was an instant success after being signed to a record contract at age 19 by record executive Clive Davis. Her 1985 debut had three No. 1 singles: “Saving All My Love for You,” “How Will I Know” and “The Greatest Love of All.” She had seven consecutive singles top the charts, a first for any artist. The daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston and cousin of Dionne Warwick, she grew up in the business. “I feel wonderful," Davis cheered in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday after learning of Houston's inclusion. “I mean, obviously, mixed with sadness that she’s not here with us to really hear this wonderful recognition of her talent. I know she would be so touched and gratified. It’s a very special day. It really is wonderful news.” “It’s just very touching," he added, “and emotionally satisfying that her legacy will include this unique and special recognition. She deserved it.” The imposing, Brooklyn-born rap artist Christopher Wallace took on the identities of The Notorious B.I.G. and Biggie Smalls and was massively influential as rap became music's dominant style in the 1990s. With hits like “Juicy” and “Big Poppa,” he was the leader of an East Coast school of rap that found itself in a bitter rivalry with artists from the West Coast. He was killed in a still-unsolved drive-by shooting in Los Angeles at age 24 in 1997. On the album, “Life After Death,” with hits like “Mo Money Mo Problems” and “Hypnotize," he became the first artist to earn multiple No. 1 singles after his death. Depeche Mode remains active, but its biggest influence came in the 1980s, when its post-punk, synthesizer-dominated music made the Brits a favorite of the goth subculture. Hits included “Personal Jesus,” “Just Can't Get Enough” and “Enjoy the Silence.” Depeche Mode shares with fellow inductees Nine Inch Nails the honor of having one of their signature songs covered by country legend Johnny Cash, who recorded “Personal Jesus” and NIN's “Hurt” during his late-career resurgence. With songs like “Closer,” NIN was a leader of the industrial rock movement in the 1990s. Like Green Day, a memorable performance in the mud at Woodstock '94 brought them a wider audience. Leader Trent Reznor has become a go-to soundtrack producer in addition to his continued work with Nine Inch Nails. The Doobie Brothers weren't critical favorites, but they had some indelible rock hits in the 1970s, including “Listen to the Music,” “Black Water” and “China Grove.” They're embarking on a 50th anniversary tour this summer, bringing members Michael McDonald, Pat Simmons, Tom Johnston and John McFee together for the first time in 25 years, and a rock hall induction makes for perfect publicity. The British band T-Rex was know primarily for its 1970s hit “Bang a Gong (Get it On)” and, to a lesser extent, “Jeepster.” The death of leader Marc Bolan in 1977 ended the band. The two non-performing inductees may be able to bring some star power with them. Music manager Irving Azoff has watched the finances for several bands, but is best-known as the manager of the Eagles since 1974. Jon Landau is a former music journalist, known for an indelible line when he saw a concert by a little-known artist in 1974: “I saw rock ‘n’ roll's future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” Shortly thereafter, he became Springsteen's manager, a job he still holds today. Tickets for the induction ceremony go on sale February27. Performers will be announced at a later date.

FILE - In this Monday, March 11, 2019 file photo, Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex leave after the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are to no longer use their HRH titles and will repay £2.4 million of taxpayer's money spent on renovating their Berkshire home, Buckingham Palace announced Saturday, January 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)

LONDON (AP) — Buckingham Palace says Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, will no longer use the titles “royal highness” or receive public funds under a deal struck Saturday for them to step aside as senior royals. The palace says the couple will repay some 2.4 million pounds ($3.1 million) of taxpayers’ money that was spent renovating their home near Windsor Castle. In a statement Saturday, Queen Elizabeth II said she was pleased that,“together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved members of my family.” The announcement came after days of talks among royalcourtiers sparked by Meghan and Harry’s announcement last week that they wanted to step down as senior royals. Buckingham Palace said Harry and Meghan will cease to be working members of the royal family when the new arrangements take effect in “spring 2020.”

The Adripina Seda public school stands partially collapsed after an earthquake struck Guanica, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Puerto Rico's government is opening public schools in late January without knowing if they can withstand a big earthquake as concerns grow about weakened infrastructure that is displacing thousands of students. By Friday, engineers had inspected 561 out of the island's 856 public schools and found that 9% are unsafe as a result of damage caused by a recent 6.4 magnitude quake and strong aftershocks. The inspections, however, are not to determine whether the schools can survive another strong earthquake or if they were built using short columns, considered a risk factor, said engineer Carlos Pesquera, whom the governor recently named as a risk mitigation adviser. "We are trying to be clear that this is an issue of managing risk," he told The Associated Press, adding that the likelihood of another large quake is minimal. "It's important that our students are educated. Even though our facilities have issues, they are safer than (the students') homes." Of the 326 schools that passed inspection, only 224 of them will open now, the island's Department of Education announced Friday evening. The schools are located in only five of the island's 78 municipalities. None of the schools in Puerto Rico's southern and western regions will open for now. In the meantime, officials are considering alternate spaces such as modules, outdoor tarps and private buildings for thousands of other students unable to immediately return to their schools. "Without a doubt, this situation represents a real challenge," Education Secretary Eligio Hernández said in a statement. Parents, teachers and legislators have said they worry about the safety of buildings as Puerto Rico's Education Department stresses that only those schools deemed as safe will reopen on Jan. 27 and 28, nearly three weeks later than the initial start of classes. "Let's be honest, we're all worried after seeing how the Agripina Seda school in Guánica collapsed," said Puerto Rico Rep. José Torres, who is part of a legislative commission analyzing the ongoing school inspections. The 6.4 magnitude quake flattened the top two floors of the three-story school in the southern coastal city of Guánica on Jan. 7, two days before classes were scheduled to start. The next day, nearly 50 engineers began evaluating all public schools in Puerto Rico amid reports of one death at a home in the nearby city of Ponce. U.S. President Donald Trump has approved a major disaster declaration that is expected to release more federal funds to offset a preliminary damage estimate of $200 million, a number that is expected to rise. The inspections continue as daily aftershocks shake Puerto Rico, and schools will automatically be re-inspected following any quake of a 3.0 magnitude or higher, according to Puerto Rico's Infrastructure Financing Authority. Meanwhile, the Department of Education deemed 137 schools as "partially adequate," which means some of the school's buildings are safe. However, Pesquera said those schools will remain closed and be re-inspected to address deficiencies, a process that could cost roughly $20 million to $50 million. "The intent is to see if they can become operational at some point this semester to release the burden at some other schools," he said. A plan to retrofit all schools that need it, which are an estimated 756 buildings, would roughly cost up to $2.5 billion, he said, noting those are preliminary figures. Experts have warned that some 500 public schools across Puerto Rico were built before 1987 and don't adhere to new construction codes.

West Indies' T20 against Ireland was washed out.

Rain wreaked havoc as the second Twenty20 international between West Indies and Ireland was washed out in Basseterre on Saturday. No result was declared after the game was called off approaching 22:00 local time – Ireland boasting a 1-0 lead in the three-game series. Career-best figures from captain Kieron Pollard helped restrict Ireland to 147-9 from 19 overs, with a rain delay leading to a reduction in overs. Confidence was high in the Ireland camp after their memorable four-run triumph in the opening T20I in Grenada. But Pollard claimed 4-25 from four overs – the 10th best performance for the Windies in T20I history, dismissing Gareth Delany (44), skipper Andy Balbirnie (36), Gary Wilson (5) and George Dockrell (2). Sheldon Cottrell (2-10) and Romario Shepherd (1-38) also chipped in with wickets for the Windies. West Indies managed to start their run chase and they reached 16-1 after Lendl Simmons (10) fell victim to Paul Stirling (1-11) before the rain set in for good.

Dom Bess (right) celebrates taking a wicket for England against South Africa.

Dom Bess claimed a maiden five-wicket Test haul before Quinton de Kock’s unbeaten half-century and rain frustrated England on day three of the third Test at St George's Park. Having reduced the Proteas to 60-2 after England declared on 499-9 in the third session on day two, Bess (5-51) strengthenedthe tourists’ grip on the match in Port Elizabeth early on Saturday. The off-spinner accounted for Dean Elgar (35), Faf du Plessis (8) and Rassie van der Dussen (24) in the space of 39 balls before a four-hour delay due to a downpour and the Proteas were 208-6 at stumps – trailing by 291 runs and needing another 92 to avoid the follow-on. Anrich Nortje and De Kock proved a tricky union for England to break before Ben Stokes eventually brought the nightwatchman's resolute knock of 18 off 136 balls to an end. England were unable to make further inroads and will resume on Sunday in ahurry to end a 54-run stand between De Kock (63 not out) – who wasdropped by Stokes three times in what ishis 20th Test fifty – and Vernon Philander (27no). Bess picked up where he left off early on the secondday when Elgar looped an inside edgeoff his pad and Ollie Pope, on a high after scoring a maiden Test century, lunged to his right from silly point to take a brilliant catch. Du Plessis hit back-to-back fours off Bess so the spinner changed his line to remove the Proteas skipper, who prodded him straight to the alert Pope andreduced his sideto71-4. Stuart Broad narrowly missed Nortje's off stump on two with one than nipped in and Joe Root put him down at slip off Bess soon after. Van der Dussen twice found the ropes and was starting to look settled when Bess had his fifth scalp, finding significant turn outside off and seeing an inside edge dragged onto leg stump. South Africa were 113-5 when the rain set in and made slow progress after play resumed, though Root would have accounted for De Kock on 30 had Stokes held on to a chance at first slip. Root finally unleashed Stokes into the attack and he got the better of Nortje in his second over when a length delivery moved away and got an outside edge that was taken at slip by the captain. Philander showed impressive timing to find the ropes five times and De Kock brought up his third fifty of the series with a boundary through extra cover. Stokes was unable to cling on again when De Kock looped an edge towards the slips off Root on 58 and missed another opportunity off Joe Denly when the left-hander was on 63 in the penultimate over of the day. Scores in the match heading into day four are: England 499-9 declared, South Africa208-6.

His Excellency Ambassador Tatsuo Hirayama and Acting Principal of the Piaye Combined School sign the agreement

Another school in the south of the island will benefit from the assistance from the Embassy of Japan under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP). Yesterday, Thursday, January 16, 2020, a signing ceremony was held for the GGP between the Embassy of Japan and the Piaye Combined School, which the acting principal of the school, Jeanneve Charlery-Etienne, described as “a day to rejoice”. In her address to the gathering at the school where the agreement was signed, Etienne said today is the beginning of a partnership which promises to improve the health and safety of present and future students and staff of this institution. “The Government of Japan has shown its commitment to support development at the grassroots level throughout the GGP. This signing ceremony today, signals the beginning of a project that allows for the provision of a grant totaling US$ 62,189 to be used for the construction of a new toilet facility for the students, a lunch area and renovation of the existing toilets for the staff room,” Etienne explained. She lamented that to date, no major rehabilitation works have been carried out on the students’ toilets of the school which was built in 1982. “We at the Piaye Combined School strongly believe that the health and safety of our students is paramount, and we continue to endeavor towards providing a more conducive environment for our students,” Etienne said. In his address, His Excellency, Ambassador Tatsuo Hirayama of the Embassy of Japan, said: “Today, I am extremely pleased to sign another agreement for our Grassroots Human Security Project. I am especially pleased to do so in this particular community which will improve the health environment of the Piaye Combined School.” He added: “I wish to see this project be completed on schedule and within budget once we signed the documents, so the students here will be able to utilize new, renovated facilities in the not too distantfuture.” District Education Officer (DEO) of District Seven, Kay Clarke-Nicholas, said: “We at the Department of Education and by extension, the Government of Saint Lucia are exceedingly grateful for the level of co-operation, collaboration and support between Japan and the people of Saint Lucia.” She said through a collaborative effort, the schools in the Choiseul area are becoming a better place, with a more conducive and safe learning environment for teachers and students.

Superintendent of Police, Mashama Sealy

Superintendent of Police, Mashama Sealyis giving back to the community. The senior police officer won in the category of Top Caribbean Career Move via the Regional Recognition Award Program for Public Law Enforcement in May 2019. Sealyreceived a trophy and cash from the Regional Recognition Ceremony which was held in the Cayman Islands. A handing over ceremony was conducted on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, to present a cheque tothree schools namely the Canaries Primary School, the Corinth Secondary School and the SDA Academy, eachnominated for assistance by the superintendent. A cheque of $6,500 in total was handed to the schools. “Although allocations for transportation and meals in schools have been doubled, unfortunately, there are still students who aren’t able to be part of this program. It takes a village to raise a child and so having being raised in a matriarchal home where the focus has always been education to be empowered, to be provided life skills, technical skills, vocational skills, I thought it prudent to focus on education because I believe that if we assist young people in that regard then they will be able to do a lot and be empowered to their best in society,” the senior police officer said. To be qualified to benefit from the funding, students have to attend school regularly, have to be disciplined, have good grades and must require the assistance. Five students from the Canaries Primary School will be receiving meal assistance, two students from the Corinth Secondary School will receive assistance for transportation and one student from the SDA Academy will receive tuition, all of which will be for one year. Deputy Commissioner of Police Milton Desir congratulated all the award winners from Regional Recognition Award Program over the years. He expressed his contentment with Superintendent Sealyas she chose to share her winnings with the various schools and congratulated her on behalf of the executive of the police force. According to Desir, St Lucia has won at least two awards from the Regional Recognition Award Program for Public Law Enforcement. The purpose of the Regional Recognition Award Program for Public Law Enforcement is to recognize outstanding officers who have contributed significantly to their organization, their communities and some aspect on a regional level. The program consists of three categories namely: • Top Caribbean Crime Fighter • Top Caribbean Community Police Officer • Top Caribbean Career Move

In 2019 Fay Ann Lyons was appointed Chairman of the International Soca Monarch

Fay Ann Lyons has stepped down as Chairman of the International Soca Monarch. Lyons, who appointed to the helmof the competition, will no longer be involved in the annual competition. Lyons told Loop she made the decision because she has not been given the go-ahead to plan anything and time is going. “I have no tools or anything to do the event so rather than try to rush the Soca Monarch I want to give the people a Soca Monarch they deserve. I had a Soca Monarch planned for 2020 with new exciting things that people can enjoy but I don’t own the competition so I have to wait for the go-ahead and if I don’t get it I can’t move,” she told Loop. Lyons said with February 2 the proposed date for the semi-finals, she said she didn’t have enough time to prepare. “It is too close. When I checked the work to be done, the logistics, etc I can’t go put out a Soca Monarch that Trinidad and Tobago and the world deserves to see in a week and a half. I have been ready since August,” she said. Last year Lyons earned kudos from the soca fraternity for pulling off a smooth Soca Monarch competition which favoured the artistes through its structure and organisation. A former Soca Monarch, Lyons placed emphasis on power soca, making the winner of the Power Soca category the overall winner. The title was won by Grenada’s Mr Killa with Swappi taking the Groovy title. When contacted, Geoffrey Wharton Lake, one of the owners of the ISM, said he would make a statement later today.

Mr Killa's Run Wid It had everyone picking up whatever was in sight and running with it from people to chairs.

Throughout the history of soca, there have been many songs that got us obeying every command. We made like bulls and trampled through the crowd for Machel Montano’s “Toro Toro”, we ran left and right in fetes thanks to Marvin and Nigel Lewis’ “Moving to the Left”, we hopped from one foot to the other for JW and Blaze’s “Palance”, sat on men’s shoulders for Ronnie McIntosh’s “Donkey” and thanks to Superblue we are still waving. These days, the songs encourage us to go beyond silly dances. In 2019, Mr Killa swept the nation and the International Soca Monarch title with ‘Run WidIt” and, thanks to his clever social media marketing showing Grenadians picking up items and running with it, many people followed suit, picking up everything from chairs to other people. Problem Child’s ‘Nasty Up’ is the latest song eliciting wild behaviour with its call for strange behaviour. “We go mash-up and buy it back, tear it down and build it back,” he sings in the chorus. The actions of patrons at fetes have one DJ expressing concern for the ramifications on the future of Carnival events, not just in the Caribbean but in foreign countries where the culture is not mainstream. Private Ryan’s concern was registered after the release of a video in which a young woman clad in a bikini is seen diving into a sea of people from a music truck during a J’ouvert party in Miami. Ryan, who was the DJ on that truck at the time, said in an Instagram post that the incident got him thinking. “Recently with “Nasty Up”, “Run With it” and the rise of music that encourages us to "mash up everything" are we setting ourselves up for something that could inevitably cripple us and our culture,” he asked. “What if venues start to deem us unruly because we destroy venues, tear up plants, rip down banners, remove trash cans etc. What if the person who dives or tries to outdo this moment gets fatally injured? What if on@ubersocacruisethey mash up essential things on the cruise ship and they don't want "our kind" back because we are too wild. I know for a fact in Trinidad Fire Services would have shut this down immediately,” said Ryan. He said he knew that many clubs and promoters that have discriminated against other genres of music such as dancehall and rock for the wildness and made it hard for them to get proper venues. Private Ryan’s questions stirred a debate among many people, some who disagreed with any call for censorship and called for West Indians to own their own venues to have events, while others urged DJs and mic-men to be more responsible in how they encourage people to behave. But is it the responsibility of DJs and their hype men? On whose shoulders does the responsibility lie when it comes to wild behaviour at Carnival events? In an essay titled Soca Music: Enjoy responsibly, published on Medium, Jeanelle Frontin, former General Manager of MusicTT, said she was hit in the face when someone flung a cup during Private Ryan’s Soca Brainwash at this year’s Miami Carnival. Jeanelle Frontin, former GM of MusicTT She said in reviewing the footage she took in the fete in an attempt to identify the cup thrower, she observed the happy crowd destroying all the plants and using the branches as rags and flags to the sound of “Nasty Up”. “One “mild concussion” diagnosis later, I began to wonder about the role of music and the responsibility of artists, DJs and mic-men, event promoters, broadcasters, and, of course, patrons when they all come together in a fete or on the road. Is destruction ever justified when it is in the name of good-natured fun or even “culture” (as I’ve heard some say)? Aren’t these people generally upstanding, rational, and well-intentioned outside of a party? Do the same rules apply when people congregate? Do they become sheep? If they do, whether by following the instructions of lyrics or mic-men, who then becomes the Shepherd? And, ultimately, whether in leading ourselves or others, how far is too far in the name of “culture” or fun?” she wondered. Commenting on the video of the girl jumping off the truck, Frontin wrote: “What if something serious did happen, and it was picked up by an international news channel and propagated by those without any understanding of our complex cultural choices, would our events even get Problem Child’s “insurance” anymore? Would venues (regional/ international) want our bookings in their spaces if they believed there would be damage to their property that would result in loss of use or worse? Would the world be open to understanding our culture if it is painted for us by the few who push it too far in the name of wildness? In examining where the buck stops, Frontin ultimately decides that in the mix of DJs, hype men, broadcasters, promoters, artists and patrons, the latter is the one to be held ultimately responsible for his/her behaviour. “I am not saying that all of the entities discussed above don’t have a part to play in promoting our culture while reasonably ensuring its safe enjoyment. However, each person who chooses to destroy a plant, rip out decor, and any other action for the sake of “following instructions” is individually responsible for what they have done. “If a mic-human instructs you to jump off a cliffto your death, good sense is what should kick in because you are not a child. The patrons of these parties are all adults. They can all be arrested and convicted as adults. In all the grey areas, that much is strikingly clear,” she said. The price for the destructive or life-threatening actions of promoters can have a serious impact on promoters and not just financially. {"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/default/files/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/Qw1agcPscuM.jpg?itok=vQy6Wt4H","video_url":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw1agcPscuM","settings":{"responsive":1,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":0},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (Responsive)."]} Jules Sobion, head Roman of Caesar’s Army which does events regionally and internationally said any damage to a venue can affect their event insurance and the loss of the contingency fees which are deposited in the event of an incident. He said negative stereotypes also affect a promoter’s ability to book a good venue. He said in the US, Caribbean promoters aren’t accepted and it is difficult to book venues based on what may have transpired in the past or stereotypes based on past behaviour. He said he has been fortunate to book venues that have not been used by Caribbean promoters before but it is hard. “Our goal is to break out of the usual venues, our aspirations are high to get places we have never been before but many times we are faced with the stigma of what being a Caribbean promoter represents. They ask what you all coming to do here? We don’t do those parties here. So now we have to move with a liaison that will endorse us,” he said. Sobion said he, too, has had concerns about the new trend of singing songs that elicits extreme behaviour. He said his first encounter with a song like that was last year when Dominican Bouyon singer Asa Bantan sang “Do Something Crazy”, which sent people into a frenzy on the Ubersoca cruise. “So when I first heard it I was like ok and I thought I need to have him in a fete but then Mr Killa superseded him and he made it more commercial because he is more well-known here in Trinidad. So I saw the trend on Ubersoca when that song mash up the boat, they lifted up everything and I said this is going to be difficult for promoters and people having events,” said Sobion. He said one way promoters can protect themselves from extreme behaviour that might cause damage to property or people is to not hire an artiste even if the song is popular. He said that was a decision he had to make for a Carnival fete with Mr Killa. And while he agreed with Frontin that patrons should take responsibility for their actions, Sobion also believes the artistes have a role in limiting the wildness. “We had Problem Child in Mai Tai Miami but even though there was a frenzy it was not bad. It is part of the artiste themselves not taking it to that level,” he said. When contacted, Problem Child said adults should beresponsible for their actions. "If we as responsible adults are depending on music and movies to tell us how to act then we have already lost as a person. Each person should be their own person bigger than music," he said. Problem Child "If you don't know how far togo as an adult, you have issues within you that you can't blame anyone for but yourself. When my song is played, not everyone does something crazy. You know what this says? You have a choice to or not to." He noted, however, that in countries such as St Vincent, where he is from, and Grenada, that music and behaviour is the norm. "You would never hear anyone name a song for anything they choose to partake in," he added. Problem Child warned that we have to be careful about seekingacceptance about what belongs to us and damaging an artiste's potential to make a living. "No other genre has ever asked society to accept them. Every other genre has always been this is what it is and you are gonna like it for what it is or not. We have to be careful about thinking about our personal needs when we want to critique the music that also helps make us our funds becausewhen you say something to defend your right, your family and your finances you have to careful about hurting someone else's family income, finances and so on. While somebody is worried about if I can make money if this happens, in the same stride you should worry about would this person make money if I say something negative about theirmusic?" "You can't worry about amI gonna be good if I play this song, am I gonna be able to rent this place again when you have the choice to not play it. You can't do it and then be worried because some people do want to hear the song, some people do want to have a great time, some peopledo enjoy it," he said.

The European Union is extending sanctions against Venezuela for a year due to the political and economic crisis that it blames on the government of President Nicolás Maduro. EU foreign ministers decided at a meeting on Monday to prolong an arms embargo and ban on equipment sales that could be used against demonstrators until November 14, 2020. They also extended an asset freeze and travel bans against 25 Venezuelan officials. The EU says it's targeting the Maduro regime over "persistent actions undermining democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human rights." The ministers say the sanctions "are flexible and reversible" and do not target ordinary Venezuelans. The US, EU and many other governments recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's interim president. They say Maduro wasn't legitimately re-elected last year.

Photo: Getty images

Two university students and a teacher were due to appear before an Arima Magistrate on Monday morning on allegations of marijuana possession after marijuana-infused brownies and cookies were seized. The trio was held around7.30 pm on Saturday along Farfan Street, Arima, for selling the sweet treats which werespiked with the illegal substance. According to police reports, a team of officers led by Sgt Mascall and including Cpl Gentle, PC Strachan, and WPC Caruth, all under the supervision of Sup Brandon John, received intelligence which led them to the Farfan Street, where the three were detained and searched. The officers found and seized several of the food items which had been packaged and prepared for sale/distribution. They also seized small quantities of marijuana which would be used in the preparation of the edibles. As a result, they were all detained and taken into custody. More on this as it becomes available.

Severe winter weather has struck parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with heavy snowfall, rains and flash floods that left at least 48 people dead, officials said Monday as authorities struggled to clear and reopen highways and evacuate people to safer places. In Pakistan, where 30 people were reported killed, much of the damage struck southwestern Baluchistan province. Imran Zarkon, chief of provincial disaster management, said 14 died there in the past 24 hours, mainly when roofs collapsed amid heavy snowfall. Heavy snowfall had forced closures of many highways and some parts in the province were under six inches of snow. Eleven people were killed in eastern Punjab province, battered by heavy rains, and five others died in the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir, officials with the state-run emergency service said. The divided Himalayan region has witnessed heavy snow fall in recent days and power cuts have been reported. Emergency services said they were struggling to provide food and other items to snow-hit areas. In Afghanistan, at least 18 people, including women and children, died on account of the severe weather, according to provincial officials. Hasibullah Shaikhani, a press officer with the state ministry for disaster management, said most of the highways in Afghanistan were closed due to heavy snowfall and fears of avalanches. Of the Afghan casualties, eight people were killed in southern Kandahar province, said Bahir Ahamdi, spokesman for the provincial governor. In western Herat province, seven people died, including five members of the same family, said Abdul Ahad Walizada, spokesman for the provincial police chief. Three people were killed in southern Helmand province, said Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor. Residents of the Afghan capital, Kabul, where temperatures dropped to -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit), abandoned driving and struggled to get to work on snow-covered roads.

The blowback over the US killing of a top Iranian general mounted Sunday as Iran announced it will no longer abide by the limits contained in the 2015 nuclear deal and Iraq's Parliament called for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil. The twin developments could bring Iran closer to building an atomic bomb and enable the Islamic State group to stage a comeback in Iraq, making the Middle East a far more dangerous and unstable place. Adding to the tensions, US President Donald Trump threatened to demand billions of dollars in compensation from Iraq or impose "sanctions like they've never seen before" if it goes through with expelling US troops. Iranian state television cited a statement by President Hassan Rouhani's administration saying the country would not observe the nuclear deal's restrictions on fuel enrichment, on the size of its enriched uranium stockpile and on its research and development activities. "The Islamic Republic of Iran no longer faces any limitations in operations," a state TV broadcaster said. In Iraq, meanwhile, lawmakers voted in favor of a resolution calling for an end to the foreign military presence in the country, including the estimated 5,200 US troops stationed to help fight Islamic State extremists. The bill is subject to approval by the Iraqi government but has the backing of the outgoing prime minister. In yet another sign of rising tensions and threats of retaliation over the deadly airstrike, the US-led military coalition in Iraq said it is putting the battle against IS on hold to focus on protecting its own troops and bases. The string of developments capped a day of mass mourning over Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad on Friday. Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets in the cities of Ahvaz and Mashhad to walk alongside the casket of Soleimani, who was the architect of Iran's proxy wars across the Mideast and was blamed for the deaths of hundreds of Americans in roadside bombings and other attacks. Trump responded to the Parliament's troop withdrawal vote with a monetary threat, saying the US expected to be paid for its military investments in Iraq before leaving and threatening economic sanctions if the US is not treated properly. "We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that's there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We're not leaving unless they pay us back for it," he told reporters aboard Air Force One. "If they do ask us to leave, if we don't do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they've never seen before ever. It'll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame," he said He added: "We're not leaving until they pay us back for it." State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus earlier said the US is awaiting clarification on its legal meaning but was "disappointed" by the move and strongly urged Iraq to reconsider. "We believe it is in the shared interests of the United States and Iraq to continue fighting ISIS together," Ortagus said. The leaders of Germany, France and Britain issued a joint statement on Sunday calling on Iran to abide by the terms of the nuclear deal and refrain from conducting or supporting further "violent acts." German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson specifically urged Iran to "withdraw all measures" not in line with the 2015 agreement that was intended to stop Tehran from pursuing its atomic weapons program. Iran insisted that it remains open to negotiations with European partners over its nuclear program. And it did not back off from earlier promises that it wouldn't seek a nuclear weapon. However, the announcement represents the clearest nuclear proliferation threat yet made by Iran since Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and reimposed sanctions. It further raises regional tensions, as Iran's long-time foe Israel has promised never to allow Iran to produce an atomic bomb. Iran did not elaborate on what levels it would immediately reach in its program. Tehran has already broken some of the deal's limits as part of a step-by-step pressure campaign to get sanctions relief. It has increased its production, begun enriching uranium to 5% and restarted enrichment at an underground facility. While it does not possess uranium enriched to weapons-grade levels of 90%, any push forward narrows the estimated one-year "breakout time" needed for it to have enough material to build a nuclear weapon if it chose to do so. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations watchdog observing Iran's program, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, Iran said that its cooperation with the IAEA "will continue as before." Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi earlier told journalists that Soleimani's killing would prompt Iranian officials to take a bigger step away from the nuclear deal. "In the world of politics, all developments are interconnected," Mousavi said. In Iraq, where the airstrike has been denounced as a violation of the country's sovereignty, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said that the government has two choices: End the presence of foreign troops or restrict their mission to training Iraqi forces. He called for the first option. The majority of about 180 legislators present in Parliament voted in favour of the troop-removal resolution. It was backed by most Shiite members of Parliament, who hold a majority of seats. Many Sunni and Kurdish legislators did not show up for the session, apparently because they oppose abolishing the deal. A US pullout could not only undermine the fight against the Islamic State but could also enable Iran to increase its influence in Iraq, which like Iran is a majority-Shiite country. Soleimani's killing has escalated the crisis between Tehran and Washington after months of back-and-forth attacks and threats that have put the wider Middle East on edge. Iran has promised "harsh revenge" for the US attack, while Trump has vowed on Twitter that the US will strike back at 52 targets "VERY FAST AND VERY HARD." He doubled down on that threat Sunday, dismissing warnings that targeting cultural sites could be a war crime under international law. "They're allowed to kill our people. They're allowed to torture and maim our people. They're allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we're not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn't work that way," Trump told reporters. The US Embassy in Saudi Arabia warned Americans "of the heightened risk of missile and drone attacks." In Lebanon, the leader of the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah said Soleimani's killing made US military bases, warships and service members across the region fair game for attacks. A former Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader suggested the Israeli city of Haifa and centres like Tel Aviv could be targeted should the US attack Iran. Iranian state TV estimated that millions of mourners came out in Ahvaz and Mashhad to pay their respects to Soleimani. The casket moved slowly through streets choked with mourners wearing black, beating their chests and carrying posters with Soleimani's portrait. Demonstrators also carried red Shiite flags, which traditionally symbolize both the spilled blood of someone unjustly killed and a call for vengeance. The processions marked the first time Iran honoured a single man with a multi-city ceremony. Not even Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic Republic, received such a processional with his death in 1989. Soleimani on Monday will lie in state at Tehran's famed Musalla mosque as the revolutionary leader did before him. Soleimani's remains will go to Tehran and Qom on Monday for public mourning processions. He will be buried in his hometown of Kerman.