Kirk-Anthony Hamilton

Less than three years old and Tech Beach Retreat has already gainedthe esteemed recognition of Essence magazine for providing a hub of technological innovation. The internationally renowned magazine, with a readership of over 8.5 million, listed MontegoBay in the top 5 hubs for making connections in the tech space, owing to this annual three-dayconference devoted to industry innovation, networking and growth. The choice to position this conference in Montego Bay was a strategic one made by thecreators of Tech Beach. ​"We set out on a dream less than threeyearsago to have Jamaica and the Caribbean recognised as a tech hub and frontier market for theindustry. It was an ambitious goal so we decided the best start was to leverage the existing tourism image and infrastructure of Jamaica by working with our tourism capital Montego Bayto create a concept that would be attractive to the local and global community," statedKirk-Anthony Hamilton, Co-Founder of Tech Beach. The brainchild of Hamilton and Kyle Maloney, Tech Beach Retreat has hosted some of theCaribbean’s and the world’s most dynamic and influential thought leaders, influencers andindustry shakers, all gathered in paradise to network and discuss the future of business in atechnology-driven world through world class keynote speakers, panel discussions, firesidechats, and workshops. Throughout the three stagings of Tech Beach, the speakers have consistently representedgiants in the tech space, including representatives from Google, Facebook, Linkedin, Dropbox,PayPal,Pixar, Instagram and much more. With such an impressive lineup, entrepreneurs, industryleaders and investors have flocked each conference to remain on the cutting edge of the industry, make connections, pitch to mentors and investors, and of course, enjoy all that Montego Bayhas to offer. The upcoming 2019 retreat​ scheduled for November 28 to 30th promises to deliver insimilar fashion. "For 2019, Tech Beach plans to expand our corporate interactions and programmes, continuebuilding our entrepreneurship accelerator and move into a more interactive space showcasingcutting edge technologies with opportunities for demos and more. ​ We appreciate the Jamaica Tourist Board for buying into the vision from day one, especially ChairmanJohn Lynch andMinister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett. We also credit JAMPRO and the Development Bank of Jamaica with supporting this success,"​ added Hamilton. Tech Beach is moving into a new era of unique partnerships with organisations collaboratingwithorganisers beyond the scope of the event to tapping its network for various solutions yearround​. One such interactive initiative is the launch of ‘Tech Beach U’, a platform for workshops,and furthering the hybrid accelerator through a number of new partnerships. Tech Beach founders also alluded to the increased focus on corporate innovation and driving new investment through a series of private round table sessions. Interested persons are invited to visit the Tech Beach Retreat website at

St. Lucia Industrial and Small Business Association President Flavia Cherry

Women around the world celebrated International Women’s Day on the 8th of this month but to some organizations, the entire month of March is dedicated to activities to celebrate the achievements of women and to highlight key issues confronting them. It was in that light that dozens of women heading small and micro businesses assembled at the Bay Gardens Inn, Gros Islet over the past weekend. The event, partly sponsored by the St. Lucia Industrial and Small Business Association (SLISBA) and the Caribbean Association for Feminine Research and Action (CAFRA), gave the women an opportunity to recognize the work they do and their collective contribution to the local economy. The discussion amongst the women was kept within the ambits for this year’s theme for International Women’s Day ‘Balance for Better’. Flavia Cherry, President of SLISBA, cautioned the women about working without rest noting that the word ‘balance’ as outlined in the theme is the one which speaks to finding the time to rest, to relax, to network and socialize as business women. “Tonight, is therefore a time for you to feel special because we know that the future prosperity of our country depends on the many small entrepreneurs like yourselves, who toil day in and day out, to keep the wheels of our economy running smoothly,” Cherry told the women. “We are proud of every single one of you and would like to encourage you to keep on working towards success because your entrepreneurship plays such a significant role in generating jobs and future economic growth, “Cherry added. She told the women that SLISBA is on their side and will continue to support and promote entrepreneurship generally and to ensure that small business people in every part of the country have the confidence, encouragement and support they need to go into business and to succeed as entrepreneurs. “We know, for example the many challenges of trying to balance the workload of your business and to have time for yourself. We know how difficult it is to get dependable, honest and sincere staff who share your vision and passion. We know how challenging it can be to manage in a tough economy, while at the same time having so many demands on you as a small business person. “We know and understand, because as the business support organization which has been working for so many years with small, medium and micro businesses, we live your reality and are always available and willing, through our staff, to provide support and encouragement,” Cherry said. DrGreta Franklin-Cherry Guest speaker at the event, DrGreta Franklin-Cherry told the women that as much as it is tough being women in the business world when challenges come their way, they should not feel disheartened as it is still possible to achieve their aims and aspirations. “We are not men, we need to network, we need to talk, we need an avenue to discuss issues that are affecting us in society for our voices to be heard,” Cherry said, at the same time calling for more female role models in business for other women to aspire to. However, despite her words of encouragement to women, she was not all that happy with those who had gotten to the top of the career ladder. ‘They don’t appear to champion other women,” she said. “When you get to the top your next thought should be who within my department that is female, I can promote,” Cherry added noting quickly that promotions should be based on merit. Saying that she is a big advocate for learning and guidance Cherry called on women to acknowledge their limitations. “As women, we are not superwomen. There are certain jobs we are good at and other jobs that are restrictive because we are females,” Cherry said. She also called on women not to vilify men because they are not the enemy and instead work with them.

Wayne Marshall

There can be no doubt about it. Wayne Marshall’s 'Glory To God' has hit the right note with secular and religious persons around the globe. But despite his sterling effort, the artiste was excluded from nomination for an award at the Sterling Gospel Awards which was held recently at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew. The snub by the Sterling Awards team has drawn sharp criticism from some sectors of society while others who align themselves with Christian principles seem to agree that Marshall’s song does not qualify for such an award as he has consistently refused to make it clear whether or not he has turned his life over to Christ. And the Sterling Awards team has been following the developments and has decided to respond publicly. The group said in a news release that,while Marshall’s single was indeed inspirational, he could not be included because he has not claimed Jesus Christ as lord and saviour. “As we did in the media recently, we would like to once again express to Wayne Marshall and the general public, that without a doubt, the song in question can be dubbed as an inspirational hit for 2018. However, as stated in our established and published criteria, in order to be considered for a Sterling nomination, 'Artistes must be practising Christians'," the release said. It added that, "It appears that the source of contention is with the term ‘practising Christians’, and we would like to take this opportunity to clarify. By definition, practising means: 'actively pursuing or engaged in a particular profession, occupation, or way of life'or as it relates to religion 'observing the teachings and rules of a particular religion.'Thus, a practising Christian by our definition is anyone who is associated with the Christian faith and is actively engaged in and governed by the principles and teachings set out in the word of God, which guides our actions. In its simplest form, Sterling defines practising Christians as anyone whose way of life is guided by the Christian faith, that is, one who has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour and has made a public declaration of his faith according to Romans 10:9-10,” the group stated in a press release. The Sterling Awards team said Marshall, by his own admission, has publicly stated that he is not a Christian or a gospel artiste and said the awards show was set up to honour gospel artistes. In the meantime, Wayne Marshall has been basking in the success of the single, which he delivered Saturday in front of tens of thousands at the historic Long Walk to Freedom concert featuring mega star Buju Banton at the National Stadium in Kingston.

Screen grab of a video showing entertainer Buju Banton feeding the poor in Kingston.

Days after his historic Long Walk To Freedom concert in Kingston, reggae icon Buju Banton was out in the streets of downtown Kingston doing charity work on Wednesday. A video surfaced on social media showing the artiste handing out portions of food to homeless persons on the Kingston waterfront and in other sections of the busy metropolis. Buju now seemed quite at home and it was clear the move was not done under the glare of media cameras but seemed to be recorded on a smart phone. See the video below.

Former Australia Test captain Steve Smith.

Yorkshire have rejected reports they could sign former Australia captain Steve Smith as their overseas player for the first half of the 2019 season. Smith is currently serving the final weeks of his 12-month ban from all cricket for his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket in 2018. The 29-year-old was banned along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft following the incident at Newlands, with the latter having already returned from his nine-month suspension. Smith and Warner will be free to restart their careers at the end of March, and a stint in county cricket had been mooted for the former skipper. However, Yorkshire have distanced themselves from talk of a move for Smith, with coach Andrew Gale telling the county's official website there was "no interest" in signing the batsman. Smith is thought to be keen on playing four-day cricket in England ahead of this year's Ashes to try and regain his form.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

LeBron James is in contention to return for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, coach Luke Walton has confirmed. James sat out the Lakers' defeats to the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks as his team continue to manage their star player's minutes. ButWalton is hopeful the 34-year-old will return against the Nets after coming through Thursday's practice. "We had 12 bodies [for practice]," Walton told reporters. "Lebron did about half of practice." When asked if he expected James to be ready for the Nets, the coach added: "Yeah, we'll see how he feels tomorrow, but I think he'll go tomorrow." James' switch to the Lakers has not produced the results many were expecting, with the team set to miss out on the playoffs in the Western Conference. Injuries – including a number suffered by James – have hampered their chances, but Walton has been proud of the team's determination to keep fighting. He added: "The injuries we have and where we're at in the season, it can be easy to quit sometimes and our guys are going out there and competing and playing as hard as they can and giving us a chance to be in the games. "We felt like we should have won two of those games, and we were in all of them with limited numbers. So as long as we keep getting that type of effort, I'm happy with the group."

From Syria to Turkey and beyond, President Donald Trump's abrupt declaration that Washington will recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights drew strong condemnation on Friday. The Syrian government called it "irresponsible" and a threat to international peace and stability, while Iran's foreign ministry said it plunges the region into a new crisis. The Foreign Ministry in Damascus said Trump's statement confirms "the blind bias of the United States to the Zionist entity," referring to Israel, and added that it won't change "the fact that the Golan was and will remain Arab and Syrian." The ministry also said Damascus is now more intent on liberating the Golan, "using every possible means." Trump's announcement the day before was a major shift in American policy and gives Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a political boost a month before what is expected to be a close election. The administration has been considering recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the strategic highlands, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967, for some time and Netanyahu had pressed the matter with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week. Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. The U.N. Security Council resolution 497, issued after the annexation, refers to Israel as "the occupying power" and says Israel's attempt to "impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect." Damascus also said Trump's statement "clearly shows the U.S. disdain to the international legitimacy and violates its resolutions, especially Security Council resolution 497" while also threatening "international peace and stability." Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Trump's "personal and arbitrary decisions" plunge the region into a new crisis, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit also criticized the American stance, saying it "comes outside the international legitimacy and no country, no matter how important it is, can make such a decision." Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Trump's "unfortunate" declaration has brought the region "to the brink of a new crisis and new tensions." "We will never allow the legitimization of the occupation of the Golan Heights," Erdogan added. Egypt also issued a statement, saying the Golan is occupied Arab territory and calling for respect for international resolutions. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Trump's comments "can destabilize the already fragile situation in the Middle East." "The very idea is not helping the goals of the Middle East settlement, quite the other way round," he said. "Right now, it's merely a declaration. Let's hope it will stay this way." The U.S. will be the first country to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, which the rest of the international community regards as territory occupied by Israel whose status should be determined by negotiations between Israel and Syria. Attempts to bring Israel and Syria to the table have failed. It was not immediately clear how a U.N. peacekeeping force that is in place in the Golan might be affected by the U.S. move. That force's mandate expires at the end of June. There had been signals that a U.S. decision was coming. Last week, in its annual human rights report, the State Department dropped the phrase "Israeli-occupied" from the Golan Heights section, instead calling it "Israeli-controlled."

In this photo supplied by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre survivors of Cyclone Idai arrive by rescue boat in Beira, Mozambique, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Photo -Denis Onyodi - Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre via AP)

As flood waters began to recede in parts of Mozambique on Friday, fears rose that the death toll could soar as bodies are revealed. The number of deaths could be beyond the 1,000 predicted by the country's president earlier this week, said Elhadj As Sy, the secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies In addition to worries about the number of dead, As Sy told The Associated Press that the humanitarian needs are great. "They are nowhere near the scale and magnitude of the problem," As Sy said. "And I fear we will be seeing more in the weeks and months ahead, and we should brace ourselves." Thousands of people were making a grim voyage toward the city of Beira, which although 90 percent destroyed has become a center for frantic rescue efforts throughout the region. Some walked along roads carved away by the raging waters a week ago. Others, hundreds of them, were ferried in an extraordinary makeshift effort by local fishermen who plucked stranded people from small islands. Helicopters set off into the rain for another day of efforts to find people clinging to rooftops and trees. For those who reach Beira with their few remaining possessions, life is grim. Waterborne diseases are a growing concern as water and sanitation systems were largely destroyed. "The situation is simply horrendous, there is no other way to describe it," As Sy said after touring transit camps for the growing number of displaced. "Three thousand people who are living in a school that has 15 classrooms and six, only six, toilets. You can imagine how much we are sitting on a water and sanitation ticking bomb." What moved him the most was the number of children without their parents, separated in the chaos or newly orphaned. "Yesterday (we) did a reconnaissance and we found another (inland) lake. So we are still very early in the phase of identifying what the scope of this is, for who is affected and how many are lost," Emma Batey, coordinator for the consortium of Oxfam, CARE and Save the Children, told the AP. Luckily, the area is a national park and less densely populated, she said. Still, "there were devastatingly small amounts of people." She estimated that another 100 people would be airlifted out on Friday: "We're only picking up those in absolute dire need." No one is still clinging to roofs and trees, she said. Pedro Matos, emergency coordinator for the World Food Program, said that what rescuers are seeing now is "sometimes it's just a hut completely surrounded by water." "If islands are big enough, we can even see smoke coming out, meaning that they're cooking," he said, adding that it remains "super difficult" to estimate a death toll or even the number of missing. For residents of Beira, life staggered on. People salvaged the metal strips of roofs that had been peeled away like the skin of a fruit. Downed trees littered the streets. And yet there were flashes of life as it used to be. White wedding dresses stood pristine behind a shop window that hadn't shattered. Zimbabwe was also affected by the cyclone and as roads began to clear and some basic communications were set up, a fuller picture of the extent of the damage there is beginning to emerge. The victims are diverse: a mother buried in the same grave with her child, headmasters missing together with dozens of school students, illegal gold and diamond miners swept away by raging rivers and police officers washed away with their prisoners. The Ministry of Information said 30 pupils, two headmasters and a teacher are missing. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Thursday that officers and prisoners were washed way. In Mutare, fear gripped residents even though they are more than 140 kilometers (85 miles) from Chimanimani, the worst-hit part of Zimbabwe. Maina Chisiriirwa, a city resident, said she buried her son-in-law, who had left the city to go to Chiadzwa diamond fields to mine illegally. "There are no jobs and all he wanted was to feed his family. He was with his colleagues. They thought it would be easier to mine since the rains would keep the guards and the police away from patrolling," Chisiriirwa said. His colleagues survived but her son-in-law was swept away, she said. A man who traveled several kilometers (miles) to a reception center for survivors in Chimanimani said several of his colleagues were swept away as they tried to cross a river while fleeing from a mountain known for rich gold deposits and frequented by hordes of illegal miners. In downtown Beira, a sidewalk is Marta Ben's new home. The 30-year-old mother of five clutched a teary child to her hip as she described the sudden horror of the storm. "I've never seen anything like this," she said, barefoot, a cooking pot bubbling nearby. "We were not warned. Suddenly the roof flew away." She said she and neighbors in their home near the beach hurried their many children away but "we lost some of them." Hers survived. Now they claim a patch of sidewalk among others newly homeless. They beg passers-by for aid. They say they have received nothing from the government or aid groups, "not even bread." And yet she knows others have suffered more. She described seeing the ragged people who had been ferried by fishermen from communities outside the city. "They looked sad," she said. The survivors from inland Mozambique arrived by the boatload, some 50 at a time, mostly children, witnesses said. "Some were wounded. Some were bleeding. Some had feet white like flour for being in the water for so long," said Julia Castigo, who watched them arrive Friday morning. The 24-year-old said the cyclone came as a surprise to her, her husband and two children. It blew away the roof, the door, the windows. Water filled the home. She looked resigned. "We survived. We're still here," she said simply. "The people didn't even have clothes, nothing to cover them," said Ignacio Dango, who watched them arrive on the beach. The 24-year-old boat builder said he saw sick, wounded and very young. "Like 5 years old." They came from Buzi, he said. Residents of Beira muttered "Meu Dio!" ("My God" in Portuguese) as they went about the city and came across new scenes of destruction.