The Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Saint Lucia on Wednesday 17 May, 2017 presented a cheque of USD $40,000.00 to the Caribbean Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute, CHTTi. The amount was the second and final installment of grant funding from the Republic of China (Taiwan) totaling USD $100,000.00 to the Institute for the financing of its training programs. The cheque was accepted by Minister for Economic Development Hon. Guy Joseph who presented it to Mrs. Amanda Matoorah-John and Mr. Mervin-Alwyn Agiste of the CHTTi. Mr Agiste, the Institute’s Junior Program Manager, expressed immense gratitude to Ambassador Douglas C.T. Shen, his Government and his People for the investment in the future of Saint Lucia. He told the ceremony that, “ Without the support of the Government of the Republic of China ( Taiwan) along with that of the Government of Saint Lucia, the change that CHTTi is making in the lives of so many of our youth would not be possible. We continue to pledge our intent to do all that is necessary to ensure that the most positive and long lasting of results are achieved”. Since opening its doors January 30, 2017 Youth apprentices from across Saint Lucia have been engaged in intense training at the Caribbean Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute (CHTTi). The institute ensures that Apprentices have the knowledge and resources to push their limits, maximize their learning, and develop their talents, through a supportive and nurturing learning environment with industry experienced and qualified lecturers. At the southern location, nearly fifteen weeks of training is winding down in three key areas; Stewardship (Housekeeping), Food and Beverage Service and Mixology Arts (Bartending).

Specialist Meric Greenbaum, left, and trader James Conti work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street as banks and industrial companies fall.

The growing political drama in Washington rattled Wall Street Wednesday, knocking the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 370 points and giving the stock market its biggest single-day slump in eight months. Investors worried that the headline-fueled political turmoil that has enveloped the White House may hinder President Donald Trump’s plans to cut taxes, roll back government regulations and other aspects of his pro-business agenda. The steep drop ended an unusually long period of calm for the markets, which had been hovering near all-time highs. Financial stocks, which had soared in the months since the election, declined the most as bond yields fell sharply. Bonds, utilities and gold rose as traders shunned riskier assets. The dollar fell. “When you are at these valuations, the market has to reassess whether or not the agenda is actually going to be implemented,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. “What you’re seeing is a classic run toward safety.” The Standard & Poor’s 500 index had its biggest drop since September, sliding 43.64 points, or 1.8 percent, to 2,357.03. The Dow lost 372.82 points, or 1.8 percent, to 20,606.93. The Nasdaq composite index, coming off setting two consecutive record highs, gave up 158.63 points, or 2.6 percent, to 6,011.24. Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index sank 38.79 points, or 2.8 percent, to 1,355.89. Those companies would stand to benefit even more than large ones from corporate tax cuts Trump is proposing. They also had risen sharply in the months following the election. The sell-off snapped an unusually long period of calm after hitting a series of record highs. On Tuesday the S&P 500, the benchmark favored by professional investors, marked its 15th straight day of moving up or down by less than 0.5 percent. It closed at its latest record high on Monday. Bond prices rose sharply. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.21 percent from 2.33 percent late Tuesday, a large move. The seeds of Wednesday’s steep market sell-off were present late Tuesday, when a published report revealed that Trump allegedly made a personal appeal to now-fired FBI Director James Comey to drop the bureau’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The White House denied the report. Trump had already been facing pointed questions about his discussions with Russian diplomats during which he was reported to have disclosed classified information. “The controversy is not new, but this one really seems to be sticking,” said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. “The Trump economic program is either going to be delayed by this turn of events or possibly be derailed, that’s why investors are acting the way they are.” The latest headlines ratcheted up the market’s unease. The VIX index, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, rose to its highest level since April 13. Investors shifted into U.S. government bonds, pushing yields lower, and into gold. The precious metal jumped 1.8 percent, climbing $22.30 to settle at $1,258.70 per ounce.

Sir Louis Straker, Foreign Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Outgoing Chair of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR)

One foreign Minister is calling on CARICOM member states to throw their support behind Venezuela. President Nicolas Madurohas been under immense pressure from the Opposition to call elections in the midst of violent streets protests which have left close to 35 people dead andmany more injured. Sir Louis Straker, Minister of Foreign Affairs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines weighed in on the situation occurring in the country during the Twentieth Meeting of the Council for Foreign Relations and Community Relations (COFCOR) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last Thursday. COFCOR’s meeting brings together delegates and Foreign Ministers from CARICOM members states for a two-day conference to discuss issues pertinent to regional foreign policy. Speaking to local media on the sidelines of the conference, Sir Louis said he believes the majority of countries in the region will support Venezuela as the goal is peace and stability. While accusing some powers of wanting to "stir up strife" in Venezuela, he said most member states, especially St. Vincent, are backing the country. “No amount of pressure can be brought on St. Vincent and the Grenadines or on CARICOM. There may be one or two countries, but overwhelmingly CARICOM is in support of Venezuela.” In rationalising his stance, Sir Louis said Venezuela has been ‘very good’ to the region through the Petro-Caribe agreement and the Argyle International Airport, recently opened in St. Vincent owed its existence to the Venezuelan government. “Had it not been for Venezuela and Cuba and Taiwan we would not have achieved that at a time when there was a financial meltdown and economic hardships, when concessionary financing is hard to come by. But Venezuela stood by usfor the betterment of our people and we cannot let Venezuela down.” He also said Venezuela has done more for CARICOM member states than other international countries as they ‘share its oil wealth with us’. Without calling any names, Sir Louis charged that CARICOM cannot allow bigger countries to come and impose their will on the region, adding the region would do well ‘not to side with the bigger powers who are stirring up things in Venezuela’. Sir Louis contended that any efforts at dialogue between the Maduro-led administration and the Opposition are being averted as the Opposition believe they have the support of the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General, Luis Almagro, who he said is ‘aiding and abetting’ the turbulent environment in Venezuela. Just last month, Venezuela followed through with its threat to leave the OAS after thegroup moved forward with plans for the US to investigate the crisis situation. Sir Louis added, for the two-day COFCOR meeting he will be ‘forcefully’ petitioning his colleagues as to why CARICOM member states should back Venezuela. His Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves also lent his voice to the debate, urging CARICOM member states to use COFCOR meetings to discuss how and why the ‘a small group of powerful nations’ can manipulate regional countries to break up their usual voting bloc.

From left: Assistant Secretary General, CARICOM Secretariat, Colin Grandeson; Secretary General Caribbean Communtiy, Irwin LaRocque; Barbados Foreign Minister, Senator Maxine McClean; Belize Foreign Minister, Wilfred Elrington; Jamaica Foreign Minister, Kamin Johnson Smith

After two days of meetings with Foreign Ministers of CARICOM member states, a decision has been made to not intervene in the crisis occurring in Venezuela. The Twentieth Council of Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) came to a close on Friday followed by a press conference chaired by Barbados’ Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean. Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez Gomez, briefed the delegates of the COFCOR meeting on updates of the situation in Venezuela and said CARICOM members are welcomed to mediate to find a peaceful resolution to the situation. President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has been under immense pressure from the Opposition to call overdue elections in the midst of violent streets protests which have left close to 35 people dead many more injured. However, at the press conference, Senator McClean said any intervention would have to be decided by government heads. “The decision to mediate would have to be determined by our heads. We would have to put that before our heads for consideration. I would not be in a position to say that we would mediate but certainly we would want to do all we can to facilitate resolution of the matter.” Shortly before the closing press conference, COFCOR issued a vaguely worded statement on CARICOM’s stance on the Venezuela situation. The statement said in part: “They [Foreign Ministers] reiterated the importance they accord to maintenance of the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy, as well as to the fundamental principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states. These values and principles were viewed as being of paramount importance when addressing international situations of concern.” Senator McClean said the Caribbean Community would wait on a request for help from Venezuela before lending any assistance. “The only way we can get involved is to be asked for assistance, recognising of course that developments in Venezuela are internal to that country so we can only do that by responding to a request.” Outgoing Chair of COFCOR, Sir Louis Straker, Foreign Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, had said he would be ‘forcefully persuading’ his colleagues to throw support behind Venezuela.

Virat Kohli (left) and Chris Gayle.

Three West Indians have made the cut as selectees from 31 nominees on an ESPNcricinfo all-time Indian Premier League (IPL) X1 after six weeks of voting by the cricket platform's readers. ESPNcricinfo reported that over the past week, its 17-member panel, comprising five former Test cricketers and a selection from its staff, made some hard choices in seeking to ensure their sides achieved the perfect balance. The overall result listed big-hitting batsman Chris Gayle, allrounder Dwayne Bravo and spinning sensation-turn opening batsman, Sunil Narine on the final X1, ahead of some other giants in the business, including, notably, South African AB de Villiers , who was unanimously voted 12th man. The selection panel was, notably, restricted to choosing only four overseas players. The final X1 reads: 1. Chris Gayle 2. Virender Sehwag 3. Virat Kohli 4. Suresh Raina 5. Rohit Sharma 6. MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper) 7. Dwayne Bravo 8. Sunil Narine 9. R Ashwin 10. Bhuvneshwar Kumar 11. Lasith Malinga Cricinfo said the all-time XI reflected how some of the best sides in the tournament have lined up with six batsmen, one allrounder and four specialist bowlers, but with a focus on the temptation to extend the batting order with an extra man. However, the final XI ended up with five quality bowlers who were noted to be unlikely to collectively fail in any set of conditions. The 31 nominees included 14 overseas players, from whom the panel choose four, keeping in mind the balance of the side. It was noted that here were clear trends, starting with a split down the middle while picking the openers. There was seemingly only room for one overseas opener, and Gayle received one more vote than David Warner. De Villiers' omission was said to be partly due to the strength of the all-Indian middle-order, and was acknowledged to be "likely to spur a few debates below the line". The choice between Bravo and Shane Watson for the lone allrounder's slot was decided based on the lack of room in Watson's favoured batting positions at the top of the order, and Bravo's marginally superior numbers and consistent wicket-taking ability while bowling at the death. The bowlers were said to have basically picked themselves, with Malinga, the tournament's highest wicket-taker, and Narine, its most economical bowler, rounding off the overseas roster. MS Dhoni was the overwhelming favourite to lead the side. Apart from being statistically the most successful captain over nine seasons, he has led most of the players who make up the team in his role as India's captain over the past decade. The decision was said to be hard to argue with, considering his trophy cabinet and prolonged success as the leader of one of the most consistent sides in the IPL. Record-holders of all manner make up the rest of the XI: the three highest run-getters in the IPL - Raina, Kohli and Rohit - the batsman with the most runs during the tournament's knockout phases - Raina - three of its five most successful captains - Dhoni, Rohit, Kohli - and the format's most prolific run machine at the top of the order - Gayle.

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James.

Defending NBA champions the Cleveland Cavaliers showed no mercy as they dismantled the Boston Celtics 130-86 in the second game of theEastern Conference finals on Friday night. Cleveland barely raised a sweat as they took a commanding 2-0 series lead. The Cavaliers jumped out to a 32-18 lead after the first quarter, but things were just getting started. Cleveland – playing in a hostile environment on away court at TD Garden – outscored the Celtics 40-13 in the second quarter to open up a comprehensive 41-point advantage heading into the break – the largest half-time lead in playoff history. LeBron James, who was not nominated for league MVP when the list came out on Friday, scored 30 points with seven assists, four rebounds and four steals. The four-time MVP's four steals helped him passMichael Jordan for the second-most in NBA playoff history. Kevin Love has also been nearly unstoppable at times. Love posted 21 points with 12 rebounds in just 27 minutes of action. Celtics All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas made about as little an impact as a player can make in a game. After missingall six of his shot attempts in the first half, he was held out of the second half with a "right hip strain", according to the team. Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 19 points on seven of 11 shooting.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gives a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Monday, May 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran's newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani took barbed swipes at the U.S. and its ally Saudi Arabia on Monday, hitting back at both a day after President Donald Trump used his first foreign trip to the kingdom to call for further isolation of Iran. The 68-year-old cleric, a political moderate within Iran who secured a resounding victory over a hard-line opponent, called relations with the United States "a curvy road" even as he touted the 2015 nuclear accord Iran secured with the Obama administration and other world powers as a "win-win" agreement. He was less flattering in his assessment of the Trump administration so far. Rouhani said that Iranians are "waiting for this government to become stable intellectually" and that "hopefully, things will settle down ... so we could pass more accurate judgments." "The Americans do not know our region, that's what the catch is," Rouhani said in response to a question from The Associated Press. "Unfortunately, Americans have always made mistakes in our region," he continued. "When they attacked Afghanistan (and) Iraq, when they made sanctions against Iran. In Syria, they made mistakes, and also in Yemen." Rouhani also criticized Saudi Arabia, Tehran's main regional rival, just hours after Trump departed the country bound for Israel, where he arrived Monday. He said the Sunni-ruled kingdom "has never seen a ballot box," a pointed dig in the wake of Iran's presidential election Friday that drew long lines as over 40 million people voted. Rouhani further criticized the Saudi summit that Trump attended on Sunday, describing it as a "show-off" that "will not have any political and practical values." "The issue of terrorism cannot be solved through giving money to superpowers," Rouhani said, adding that his nation would "uproot terrorism" and bring stability to the region. Iranian-backed forces have been fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and support the government of President Bashar Assad in its battle against Sunni fighters in Syria. "Who can claim that stability of the region can be restored without Iran?" he said. Rouhani made a point to stress that Trump's visit came amid Iran's presidential election, saying that such elections "are not in their (Saudis') dictionary." "I hope that the day will come that Saudi Arabia will adopt this path," he said. "They should have polling stations in place for the people and let the rulers not be on a hereditary basis. They should be picked by the people." Unlike Saudi Arabia, which occasionally holds elections for municipal councils, Iran regularly holds elections for president, parliament and other posts. The elections remain tightly controlled, however, and many candidates are excluded during a pre-election vetting process. Ultimate power in Iran rests not with the president but with the supreme leader, who is chosen by a clerical panel and has the final say over all matters of state. The Sunni kingdom and Shiite power Iran haven't had diplomatic relations since early 2016. That's when Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite cleric and protesters in Iran attacked two of the kingdom's diplomatic posts. Saudi Arabia immediately cut diplomatic ties and other Sunni Arab countries in the Gulf have taken a harder line on Iran since. Rouhani won another four-year term Friday in a vote that many saw as a referendum on his push for international outreach that led to the nuclear deal, as well as a vote of confidence that his government will be able to help the country's sputtering economy. Trump has threatened to try to renegotiate the deal, which saw Iran accept curbs on its contested nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of some international economic sanctions. Trump repeatedly has criticized Iran in speeches on his first foreign trip. In Israel on Monday, he warned of "the threat posed by Iran" through the possibility of it acquiring nuclear weapons and its support of militant groups. Also Monday, the foreign ministers of France and Germany said their countries want to work with Iran following Rouhani's re-election but are pressing Tehran to keep to the nuclear deal and to help de-escalate Mideast conflicts. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France is convinced that Iran under Rouhani will have "an important role in the pacification" of the region. "We expect Iran to behave responsibly ... not to support terror," said his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel. At the Tehran press conference, Rouhani also defended Iran's ballistic missile program, something heavily criticized by Trump's new administration. The Trump administration in February sanctioned more than two dozen people and companies in retaliation for a ballistic missile test, warning it had put the Islamic Republic "on notice." "The U.S. leaders should know that whenever we need a missile test because of a technical aspect, we will test," he said. "We will not wait for them and their permission." Rouhani added: "Our missiles are for peace, not for attack."

Congressman and Doctor Jose Manuel Olivares yells as he marches with other medical professionals to the Health Ministry, to demand Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro open a so-called humanitarian corridor for the delivery of medicine and food aid, in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, May 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is accusing protesters of setting fire to a government supporter, saying what he calls "Nazi-fascist" elements are taking root inside the opposition's ranks and contributing to a dangerous spiral of violence in the two-month anti-government protest movement. Maduro on Sunday said that 21-year-old Orlando Zaragoza suffered burns to almost all his body when he was doused with gasoline and set on fire at a protest in Caracas a day earlier. Videos circulating on social media show a man covered in flames fleeing a small mob. Maduro said he was being treated. It's not clear what triggered the attack, which is under investigation, although some eyewitnesses told local media that Zaragoza was caught robbing demonstrators who had gathered by the tens of thousands to protest Maduro's rule. "In Venezuela there's rising a counterrevolution of Nazi-fascist influence that that has infected the emotions and thinking of thousands of compatriots, who believe they have the right to pursue others for the simple crime of being Venezuelan or Chavista or revolutionary," Maduro said in his weekly TV program. "This is terrorism." Protesters took the streets again Monday in a march decrying Venezuela's deteriorating public health and medical shortages. In Caracas, doctors in white jackets stood shoulder-to-shoulder, chanting, "We want medicine. We don't want bombs!" State security launched tear gas at demonstrators, some of whom grabbed the canisters and threw them back at officers. In the western Venezuelan state of Barinas — known as the cradle of the nation's socialist revolution — 19-year-old Yorman Bervecia was killed during a protest, according to the chief prosecutor's office. Videos taken by witnesses appeared to show the boy of the lifeless teen being rushed to the hospital on a motorcycle to the hospital. Elsewhere in Barinas, several buildings were on fire and dozens of businesses closed. Monday's death brings to at least 49 the number of people killed since anti-government unrest began two months ago. The street clashes engulfing Venezuela appear to be growing increasingly violent, with both security forces and youth protesters looking more unruly. Residents of Caracas on Monday awoke to several smoldering barricades made of trash and torn-down street signs. Meanwhile access to the capital's downtown was blocked at several points by heavily armed security forces looking to prevent to the march to the Health Ministry to demand Maduro open a so-called humanitarian corridor for the delivery of medicine and food aid. On the outskirts of Caracas, where reports of nighttime protests and looting have become more frequent, the situation was even more tense: Young males with their faces covered or wearing gas masks put down barbed wire at roadblocks every few blocks and menacingly asked bystanders for contributions to their "Resistance" movement. Opposition leaders are urging restraint from their followers, but say security forces and pro-government militias — not the protesters — are behind the vast number of deadly attacks. Meanwhile, a retired army general opposed to Maduro denounced what he said are plans by the military in the central state of Lara to deploy snipers to control protests that turn violent. The plans were discussed in a month-old conversation among top generals in the state secretly recorded by one of the participants, according to retired Gen. Cliver Cordones, who on Monday sent a petition to Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega asking her to investigate the matter. Cordones, who broke with Maduro more than a year ago, said he obtained the recording and written transcript of the conversation in a pen drive left in an unmarked envelope at his residence. In it, a man identified as Gen. Jose Rafael Torrealba, the top military official in the state, discusses the need to start selecting soldiers with proven psychological and technical strength for use as sharpshooters. The context of the conversation is what the officer says is the increasing use of firearms by protesters to shoot at security forces. "The time will come in which we'll have to deploy them, and I want us to be ready for that moment," the man identified as Torrealba says. "The president won't just stay in his green phase gentlemen," he adds, referring to the first stage of a military plan to control the protests announced last month by Maduro. While some can be heard voicing support for the idea, at least one expresses concern that such plans, if acted on, could land commanding officers in jail. The Associated Press also obtained a copy of the recording from a person in contact with one of the participants. The source demanded anonymity for safety. But the AP was unable to verify its authenticity or the identities of those alleged to have taken part in the conversation. There has also been no response from Torrealba or the military since the recording was first reported last week by the Spanish-language affiliate of the Miami Herald.


Spectr News Theme
June 16, 2017

Roots & Soul Festival 2017

A festival dedicated to musicians who are setting new trends in reggae, conscious hip-hop, Afro-punk and R&B, with performances, master classes and encounters between artists and other actors in the music business. Like Saint Lucia Jazz, there will be free and paying concerts, in various parts of the island, again culminating at the Pigeon Island National Landmark, this time on Fathers’ Day, Sunday June 18.  This Festival will also mark the launch of the Carnival Season. This event will include a professional marketplace that brings together musicians, record labels, online music stores and platforms, specialized journalists and other actors in order to enhance market access for Saint Lucian and other musicians and producers.

Spectr News Theme
July 17, 2017

Saint Lucia Carnival 2017

Pumping rhythms, sexy costumes and the people dancing under the warm Caribbean sun; welcome to Saint Lucia Carnival! Almost on the heels of the annual Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, Saint Lucia’s cultural landscape morphs into a flurry of chrome plated steel drums, feathers, and beads. No matter where you are or who you are, Saint Lucia Carnival is something to behold.

In the months, weeks and hours leading up to Saint Lucia Carnival, there are numerous events that are a must see, whether you’re a Carnival veteran, or Carnival newbie. Some of the staple events - the Calypso Tents, Calypso Monarch, Party Monarch, and Carnival Parade are the deep-rooted cultural aspects of Saint Lucia Carnival. But it won’t be Carnival without the ‘wining’ and jumping and non-stop partying.

Here’s a great tip for first-time Carnival revellers - ‘wining’, is a local Caribbean-wide term used to describe the rotational movement of the hips either to the left or to the right, whichever way your waistline can go really. Before you brave any Saint Lucia Carnival event, don’t be afraid to perfect your ‘wining’ motions. You can bet on someone asking pretty ladies to “take ah wine.” Either way, master the move so that you keep up with the locals and really party like a Saint Lucian.

By the time Carnival Monday rolls around, your dancing skills will help burn off all the yummy calories you’ll be consuming – let’s face it; Saint Lucia’s Carnival food scene is just as fabulous! The ultimate Carnival experience is when one joins a “band.” Competing band members flock together at predetermined locations near the staging area, for the beginning of what will be a hyperactive dance session through the city’s streets. With speakers the size of warehouse refrigerators, the vibrations and sounds begin with only the trance of soca leading you throughout the streets of Saint Lucia.

If you’re still alive at the end of Carnival Monday, many band members will go off to enjoy official band parties or you can opt to go home to revitalize yourself – don’t worry, you can comfort yourself by the fact that the next day is Carnival Tuesday…

Spectr News Theme
August 24, 2017

Food & Rum Festival 2017

This is the revival of a festival that first took place in 2006, a gastronomic event to attract the best chefs, wine connoisseurs, rum fanatics and food critiques from the Caribbean and internationally. Inspired in part by the outstanding achievements of Chefs Nina Compton and Doran Payne, this unique event promotes Saint Lucian and other Caribbean rums, restaurants, chefs, and regionally manufactured food and drink products to a regional and international audience, with food demonstrations, rum tasting, wine tasting, gastronomic dinners and community culinary experiences, all accompanied by musical and other artistic performances by young artists from Saint Lucia.