(center) Nailah Blackman and the dancers of Riddim Tribe.

Proud of her Bajan roots, Nailah Blackman not only rocked the stage at Valhalla but she embraced Barbadian culture completely sharing the stage with Riddim Tribe dancers, MarzVille and Stiffy. The Trinidadian started her set with the declaration that her great grandfather was Bajan and that’s where her interview with Loop offstage after her performance catapulted from too. “My great grandfather Conrad Blackman, he was Bajan, from Barbados and he came to Trinidad, where he met my grandfather’s mother and he started living in Trinidad. My grandfather was also a Bajan citizen but he was born in Trinidad, so he had two passports and well I mean I grew up in Trinidad all my life, and you know that is just the bloodline that came from here. So the Blackman name actually came from Barbados.” When asked how she feels about the connection, especially since some people believe that there are feuds and hate between islanders, with a big smile on her face she thoughtfully said: “Umm…well I think it is honestly an honour because it just shows how connected we all are and we’re not too different in itself. You know everybody likes to say, ‘Well, Trinidad is this… Barbados is that… Jamaica is this…’ But like it just shows that we are all one, and we’re all family and we’re all connected and together you know?! And I believe in unity.” On the day of her performance, Saturday, June 17, 2017, her new solo track ‘Baila Mami’ on the Parallel Riddim hit 1Million views on YouTube and she was over the moon ecstatic. She said: “That is amazing because I mean ‘Workout’ [featuring Kes] is over 3Million and something, but it took so short a time to get to this point. I mean it’s been six weeks and that is an overwhelming feeling because it just shows that people really love the song. “And with me coming into like a new genre, a new like type of music for me ‘cause I do something a little different to what I do now, to see that people reacting to my experiment like this is just motivating to the more for me.” In terms of experimentation, Nailah who is making her way into the hearts of soca lovers on the wings of ‘Workout’ and her catchy refrain of ‘Give it to me da workout. Give me it to da love,’ is not to be caged in a box. [related node_id='13755f85-30a1-42bc-8f21-685ca5bf1086'] Talking about ‘Baila Mami’, which she created along with producer Anson Pro Soverall, she explained, “I’m a more jazz singer, I call it Caribbean folk. It’s very local Trinidadian, but at the same time it’s very international in the sense that it has a lot of European influence, and when I just add my soca to it and the dancehall flavour, when I wrote the song I was actually now about to go Jamaica so it was a lot of Jamaican influence as well put into that. “So, my thought process was I just wanted a song for people to just lose themselves to and just have so much fun and feel confident about themselves. I am like a power-to-the-ladies kind of person and I feel like we just needed that song to just let free and feel like we can do anything in the world. I’ve always wanted to dance and never felt like I got the opportunity, so I wanted to give myself and other young girls a chance to be like ‘You can dance! Do it!’” That said, Nailah is happy to continue to write for herself as that is how she lets her feelings out, but she is opened to accepting lyrics from other writers once she shares the same sentiments as them. Valhalla was at Bellevue Plantation in St. Michael. On stage, Nailah introduced the dancers of Riddim Tribe who backed her up during her set, and she showed her waistline skills too. Then when MarzVille and Stiffy landed at the venue, she showed more moves while she expressed her love for the Bajan bashment soca.

FILE - John Varley, former Group Chief Executive of Barclays Bank.

British regulators charged Barclays bank and four former executives, including then-CEO John Varley, with conspiracy to commit fraud when they asked Qatar for a cash infusion to avoid a government bailout at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. The Serious Fraud Office announced the charges Tuesday following an investigation into two rounds of fundraising from Qatar in June and October of 2008. The probe centred on two side agreements under which Barclays paid the Qatari investors 322 million pounds ($406 million) over five years, the bank disclosed in 2013. The question at the heart of the case is whether Barclays hid from authorities and other shareholders the true nature of the fundraising plan with Qatar. The charges are the first in Britain against a bank and former executives for activities during the 2008 financial crisis. They are a blow to current CEO Jes Staley, who is trying to rebuild Barclays' reputation after a series of scandals. The bank is already facing litigation from the U.S. Department of Justice and a Financial Conduct Authority probe of allegations that Staley tried to uncover the identity of a whistleblower. "Skeletons seem to be jumping out of lots of closets at once for Barclays," said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. "The spectacle of former executives being paraded through court will do nothing to strengthen the credentials of the bank as it continues to try to execute its turnaround plan." Barclays said it is "considering its position" and "awaits further details of the charges from the SFO." The bank's shares fell 1.9 percent in London. Barclays says it disclosed the first advisory service agreement with Qatari investors that was reached in June 2008, but the second agreement and the fees payable under both were not included in public documents, according to a statement released in September 2013, when the bank was selling more shares. The bank and two former executives also face a charge of unlawful financial assistance related to a $3 billion loan facility Barclays made available to Qatar in November 2008. It is alleged Barclays lent money to Qatar with the understanding that the gulf nation could use the money to buy shares in the bank, making its financial position look more positive. The fundraising efforts of 2008 came as banks around the world struggled to keep their doors open. Britain's Northern Rock collapsed early in the financial crisis, while Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group were forced to accept billions of pounds of state aid and the government oversight that came with it. Varley, 61, former investment banking chief Roger Jenkins, 61, Thomas Kalaris, 61, who headed the bank's wealth management division, and Roger Boath, 58, head of the European financial institutions group, were all charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation in relation to the first round of fundraising. Barclays, Varley and Jenkins were charged with another count in regard to the second round, as well as a separate charge of providing unlawful financial assistance. The four are scheduled to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on July 3, together with a representative of the bank.

As of June 15, there will officially be no more extra fees for using an EU handset in another EU country.

Ping! Tweet! Ring! Swoosh! Every command from a mobile phone that European Union holidaymakers or business people made Thursday must have felt like deliverance. As of June 15, there will officially be no more extra fees for using an EU handset in another EU country, the dreaded roaming charges that could add hundreds of euros to a vacation bill. "It was about time! We should have done it from the beginning because there are only benefits," said Malika Schreiber, a teacher from Frankfurt who was chaperoning 45 pupils under the Eiffel Tower during a school trip. Depending on the number of wayward kids calling her, her bill could sometimes swell by 100 euros ($111). Not anymore. "Now I am happy that everyone can reach me every day," Schreiber said. The 28-country EU should be a seamless area for mobile phone use as of now, following years of negotiations to cut often excessive costs to use a handset outside the home EU country. Visitors to the EU with mobile network plans from non-EU countries would still face roaming charges. And there are reports that some mobile operators will try to make some money back by raising the base costs of text messages or calls. But the elimination of extra roaming charges, which had long been used by EU critics to show the bloc was not in reality a union, is a small victory for the EU's executive. With the "roam like at home" program in place, Alexandra Ahlberg, 21, can navigate the Champs Elysees much like she could the Avenyn boulevard in her Swedish home town Gothenburg, at no excessive cost. "You can use for directions, you can search for restaurants, shops and where they are located," she said on the famous Parisian boulevard. "Before, the only option was to use a map. Now you use your phone, which is great." European leaders were rushing to hail their accomplishment of an EU working hard for its citizens. "We have added yet another important building block to the edifice of our single market, to our existence as Europeans," said European Parliament President Antonio Tajani. Some noted, however, that there is still much work to do to ensure a seamless digital network across the EU, with some noting that access to mobile and broadband services can be uneven from one region to the next. "The next essential step must be a framework that ensures investment in digital infrastructure," said BusinessEurope Director General Markus Beyrer.

Managing Director, Retail and International Business, CIBC FirstCaribbean, Mark St. Hill (left) signs the agreement  while Chairman of the FirstPartnership Teresa Mortimer (second left) observes while Vice Chairman David Massiah (third left) signs on behalf of the unions, Managing Director Human Resources, CIBC FirstCaribbean, Neil Brennan (right) observes.

Twelve years after signing the first historic document, CIBC FirstCaribbean and members of 11 regional trade unions recently initialled a second FirstPartnership Principles Agreement. The signing took place during a two-day meeting of bank executives, managers, staff delegates and union leaders at the Hilton Hotel on June 22 - 23, 2017. The FirstPartnership Principles Agreement was first signed in 2005 and remains the only one in the financial services sector in the Caribbean. The unique agreement sees the signatories committing to follow a set of principles which will guide them in their engagement. It also outlines the roles and responsibilities of the parties and their behaviours. CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Brown writing in the forward to the document said the bank was “fortunate to have a document like the Partnership Principles that has helped and will continue to help guide us when resolving issues affecting our people”. “That we have been able to come together to develop and agree on such principles is a testament to the professionalism and spirit of cooperation of all parties. I look forward to continuing the dialogue between the members of the Partnership and to the many years of productive interaction that will benefit our employees, our company, our shareholders and all the clients we are in the business to serve,” he added. Managing Director, Human Resources, Neil Brennan, who signed on behalf of the bank, said, “Through the principles of the agreement CIBC FirstCaribbean has been able to collaborate with its Trade Union partners to navigate through some turbulent times, make some significant changes to the organization and the way it operates, to build a stronger, more successful bank”. A section of the delegates attending the two-day FirstPartnership meeting at the Hilton Hotel, Barbados. Also signing on behalf of the bank was Mark St. Hill, Managing Director, Retail and Business Banking who noted that through the partnership the bank hoped to “continue to deliver growth for the bank, its employees and customers. It is for the mutual benefit of our employees, our company, our shareholders and most importantly, the clients we serve.” Chairperson of the partnership and president of the Bahamas Financial Services Union, Theresa Mortimer, said the partnership document demonstrated a commitment by the bank and the trade unions to work together to maintain a stable industrial relations climate within the financial services sector. She was supported by vice chairman and General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union David Massiah who hailed the agreement as one developed by Caribbean people which demonstrates “how important it is for this partnership of employer, employee and unionsto be working together”. The trade unions which are signatories to the newest agreement are: •Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union •Bahamas Financial Services Management Workers’ Union •Bahamas Financial Services Union •Banking, Insurance & General Workers Union of Trinidad •Barbados Workers’ Union •Bustamante Industrial Trade Union of Jamaica •Commercial Technical Allied Workers’ Union of St Vincent •Federation of Financial Unions (formerly Bond di EmpleadonanBankario I Aseguro (BEBA) – Netherlands Antilles (St Maarten) •National Workers’ Union of St Lucia •National Workers’ Union of Grenada •Waterfront and Allied Workers’ Union of Dominica

Portia Simpson Miller, former Prime Minister of Jamaica

Former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller will be named Honorary Distinguished Fellow of the University of the West Indies (UWI), the institution announced on Monday. Vice Chancellor of the UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles saidit will be a"historic moment, a magnificent relationship, and we will welcome her with exciting arms.She has done so much for our university. We see her as an elder who has so much more to teach." Simpson Miller will resign as Memberof Parliament on June 29.She has represented the South West St Andrew constituency for 35 years, during which she twice served as prime minister. "UWI joins with the people of Jamaica, the wider Caribbean and its Diasporas, and indeed the global coalitions for democratic governance and equality for women and the inclusion of the poor, in celebrating the long and distinguished contribution of the Most Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller to public and political life," said the institution in a press release. "As the former Prime Minister prepares to exit the corridors of constituent and national leadership, her legacy, shaped by a phenomenal rising from the grass roots and resilience at the highest echelons, will be the subject of significant research and academic discourse. Feminists will find much to discuss and the trail of accomplishments at the highest level, will provide room for robust interventions," the institution continued, noting that "The UWI, therefore, consistent with its practice of celebrating our prime ministerial leaders, is keenly awaiting the opportunity to welcome Mrs Simpson-Miller into its ranks as an Honorary Distinguished Fellow." Arrangements are already in place for the provision of an office at the Mona Campus that will allow access to her bystudents and other members of the university body. "We have also made provisions for her formal association with the Institute for Gender and Development Studies in order to facilitate her writing of Memoirs and other literary productions," UWI said, noting that other ideas for her deeper induction into the university community are under consideration.

Jamaica's sprinter Usain Bolt grimaces during a press conference prior to the Golden Spike Athletic meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Monday. Bolt will compete in the 100 meters at the Golden Spike on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Usain Bolt is curious as to who will replace him as the world's fastest man. He's confident nobody will know at his last major race, at the world athletics championships in August in London. Bolt was unperturbed when asked on Monday if he was afraid of losing his last race before retirement. "My coach always finds a way (for me to win)," he said. "I'm not worried." As for his successor, he was looking forward to the years ahead. "I'm definitely excited just to see sit and watch and to see who's going to be the next Olympic champion in the 100, 200 meters," he said. "There're a lot of young stars coming up. It's exciting to see who is really going to step up to be a champion." Bolt has dominated the sprints for nine years, and won all of the major titles there are to be won. But knowing he'll be finished racing in less than two months makes everything bittersweet. He's competing in his ninth and last Golden Spike on Wednesday, running the 100 meters in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava. "Every meet will be emotional," he said. "I know it will be my last time competing. It's an emotional season." He likes the Golden Spike because it's a fast track, and the stands are always packed, no matter if it's rainy or cold. The only other race he's scheduled before the worlds is the Diamond League meet in Monaco on July 21. He's undecided about other races. He won't leave athletics after his last race. He intends to remain part of his racing group in Jamaica. "When it comes to coaching, my coach really pushed me hard to try to get into coaching," he said. "Maybe next season I'll be at the track a lot. I won't be a coach but I'll oversee and watch."

Saint Lucia’s sports tourism sector recently received a boost when the British Veterans Football team arrived to participate in the first ever International Veterans Football Invitational Tournament. It is the first time the British Veterans visited Saint Lucia, and Team Manager, David Goulding, said they are looking forward to a wonderful experience on and off the field. “For the tour we’re wide eyed,” he said. “We booked nearly a year ago. The guys are fully on board and looking forward to it, especially playing at the Daren Sammy Stadium.” Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Justice, Empowerment, Youth Development, Sports, Culture and Local Government, Donavan Williams, welcomed the visitors. “I am certain that this visit it will not be your last,” he said. “You will enjoy Saint Lucia and you will enjoy the game. For us it is an honor to have you here. We have seen a steady rise in the interest, the standard, and the organization of Veterans Football over the past decade, and this tournament takes it to another level.” The visitors presented a cup to be contested during the competition in memory of the fathers of two members of the British veterans. The tournament commenced last weekend.

Pakistan's prime minister cut short a trip abroad to rush to the side of victims of a massive fuel tanker fire as authorities on Monday raised the death toll to 157. The truck, carrying some 25,000 liters (6,600 gallons) of gasoline, was traveling from the southern port city of Karachi to Lahore when the driver lost control and crashed on a highway outside the town of Bahawalpur early on Sunday. Alerted by an announcement over a loudspeaker at a local mosque, scores of villagers rushed to the scene to collect the spilled fuel. When the fire broke out, the villagers were engulfed in flames, many burned beyond recognition. Dr. Nahid Ahmed at the Nishter Hospital in Multan, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) away, said four of the victims that were brought from Bahawalpur had died overnight, bringing the death toll to 157. Ahmed said 50 more severely burned victims were being treated at his hospital. Rescue official Mohammad Baqar at the Bahawalpur hospital said 20 more victims were transported on Monday by a military C-130 plane to Lahore for better medical care. Prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who visited the Victoria Hospital in Bahawalpur on Monday, ordered that more of those most critically hurt be transferred to bigger hospitals in the area, Baqar said. Sharif cut short his trip abroad and rushed back home, reaching Bahawalpur on Monday to visit the victims and console the affected families. Sharif also announced 2 million rupees — almost $20,000 — as financial assistance for each family that lost someone in the highway inferno. Sharif also handed over checks of 1 million rupees ($10,000) for each burn victim being treated at the hospital in Bahawalpur. "This is not compensation, no compensation is possible for precious human life, but it is to help the affected families in distress," Sharif said. Many of the bodies will have to be identified through DNA testing, said Baqar. "I have never seen anything like it in my life. Victims trapped in the fireball. They were screaming for help," said Abdul Malik, a police officer who was among the first to arrive at the scene. When the flames subsided, he said, "we saw bodies everywhere. So many were just skeletons. The people who were alive were in really bad shape." The dead included men, women and children. The disaster struck on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr that follows the holy month of Ramadan. While Saudi Arabia and most other Muslim countries started celebrating the holiday Sunday, Pakistanis are marking it on Monday.


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.