It is with great pleasure that Sandals Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart and Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Adam Stewart, CD, announce the promotion of another company stalwart. Mr. Winston Anderson, General Manager of Sandals Grande St. Lucian has been promoted to the position of Managing Director, Sandals Grande St. Lucian with oversight for all Saint Lucian resorts effective July 1, 2017. A hospitality professional with over 35 years of experience in food and beverage, accounting, rooms division, sales and marketing and project management, Winston began his Sandals journey in 1991 as Food and Beverage Manager at Sandals Ocho Rios. Since then he has held progressive positions to include Hotel and General Manager posts at numerous resorts across the group in Saint Lucia, Turks & Caicos, Antigua, Jamaica and Grenada. He has played significant roles in the brand transition of new major acquisitions to include Beaches Turks & Caicos and was the pre-opening General Manager at Sandals LaSource Grenada, overseeing its development before returning as General Manager at Sandals Grande St. Lucian. An active tourism advocate, Winston is also an executive member of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association, a Trustee of the Tourism Enhancement Fund and sits on the Saint Lucia Tourist Board. Throughout his tenure he has been lauded as a charismatic, visionary and transformational leader who consistently displays a passion for the development of people – both his resort team members and those within the community. Winston holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management from Revans University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioural Science from California State University and a Master’s Degree in Hospitality Science also from Revans University. He has also been bestowed with the Honourary Doctorate in Management and Leadership by the Global University of Lifelong Learning for his contribution to leadership, community and social work. Sandals is confident Winston will continue to provide nothing less than the stellar leadership qualities exhibited to date.

The decision to close Sandals Grande Antigua for essential maintenance works for three months has led to the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda accusing the resort chain operators of sabotage and conducting an“act of hostility”. A senior Sandals executive speaking with Loop News responded saying that the Prime Minister’s accusations are unfounded and are made without a single shred of evidence. “Not only that, it is an attempt to damage the good reputation of the Sandals brand. Everybody knows that Butch Stewart does not fight with Caribbean governments - he works with Caribbean governments. His marketing skills have always been employed to the benefit of the respective Caribbean destinations to ensure they garner as much tourism revenue as is possible given the fact that they do not have adequate budgets to market in North America and Europe.” Sandals Resorts informed the Antiguan government on July 14 that it would close the 380-room hotel, with a diversity of suites and eleven restaurants, for three months from September 20 to December 17, 2017 for essential maintenance work that would keep the hotel operating as one of the finest couples-only resorts in the region. The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne is reported to have told the press Sandals’ decision was: “An act of hostility. It is what I think it is; it is clearly an act of sabotage and I am saying that no investor should be able to treat our people that way.” The senior Sandals executive pointed out that Sandals would never look to damage a destination in which it operates and that the allegations by the Prime Minister are spurious at best. “Our auditors Grant Thornton can verify that we pay all our taxes in Antigua on a timely basis. This financial year alone we have injected around$93 million into the economy (through salaries, wages, transportation, suppliers of food and services, etc) - more than any other hotel onthe island. We have a reputation for being the best indigenous corporation operating in the tourism industry in the Caribbean and we are very proud of that. Why would we then tarnish that? Our chairman gets on well with all Caribbean governments through his performance and his personality. People who work for him love him because he loves them.” The Antiguan Prime Minister, however, continues to broadcast his assertion that the decision to close the hotel was because Sandals was rebuffed in its move to get certain concessions. He told the press, “It was explained to Sandals officials that the Government’s finances are in a very precarious position and that if we waived duties and taxes on food and beverage, it would plunge the Government’s finances into a crisis – this is particularly so considering that we just gave up over $35 million by abolishing personal income tax. We undertook to review the request in 12 months. It would appear that this decision was not to their satisfaction and that the closure is a play for additional concessions.” The senior Sandals executive countered: “He is very wrong to believe we would be so petty and vindictive to a country that has been good to the Sandals family for a quarter of a century. The Antiguan people have been nothing but good to us and have helped us make the Sandals Grande Antigua one of the finest hotels in the region. There is no other resort offering on the job training, issuing university degrees, offering stellar careers and upward mobility to its workers. Why would we hurt people that we love and care for and have been very good to us? We see Antigua as a top destination which should have the very best hotels. We cherish our workers and regard them as brand ambassadors for the country. When visitors come to Antigua, we want them to return home with an unforgettable experience from a splendid resort. Surely the Prime Minister must see that? The executive continued, "The Prime Minister said we could get concessions if we were to expand the hotel but the issue here is he decided to take away concessions he had granted just to prove he was the boss. As a private sector operator, we cannot demand concessions. Should the Antiguan government choose not to grant concessions to a flagship hotelier such as Sandals, then that’s their prerogative. You win some, you lose some." Addressing the work to be done on the Sandals Grande Antigua, which is the flagship hotel in that country, he continued: “After 25 years it is important to modernize the hotel in order to keep our reputation and see to it that more visitors come to beautiful Antigua, it is paramount that we do so now and quickly so we can be ready for the upcoming winter season and beyond. Antigua needs a fantastic world class hotel that the country can be proud of and that is our only goal. To suggest otherwise is small- minded and malicious.”


Ten former members of the Word of Faith Fellowship church say they have been contacted by U.S. federal and state authorities investigating allegations of abuse, forced labour and visa fraud after a series of Associated Press stories about the evangelical sect. Brazilian authorities told the AP they also are looking into claims that the church was illegally sending minors to the US and forcing them to work. In February, the AP reported that 43 former members said congregants were regularly punched and choked in an effort to "purify" sinners by beating out devils. This week, young labourers told the news service the church brought them to the U.S. and forced them to work for little or no pay. Word of Faith Fellowship has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Photo of the crime scene showing Zanu Simpson's BMW X5 motor car. (Inset: Zanu Simpson)

A popular Jamaican-born barber based in Queens, New York was shot and killed during what police believe was a botched robbery attempt. Zanu Simpson was reportedly sitting in his white BMW X5 sport utility vehicle early Tuesday morning when he was shot and killed. A man in a grey sweatshirt reportedly forced his way through the passenger side window of Simpson’s car. A tussle ensued between the two and Simpson was shot three times in the head, according to reports. Simpson, who was born in Jamaica and regularly touted his Jamaican heritage, operated the Strickly Skillz Barbershop with his brother, Samuel, in Queens. “That was like my other half,” the victim’s brother, Samuel Simpson, is quoted as saying by the New York Daily News. “Everybody says we looked alike. They always called us twins.” There has been an outpouring of tributes to Simpson on social media since news broke of his death. Police are still searching for Simpson’s killer.


India opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan.

Shikhar Dhawan made his highest Test score with a rapidcentury andCheteshwar Pujara also scored a magnificent hundred as India piled on the runs on a painful first day of the series againstSri Lanka on Wednesday. Dhawan was only brought into the squad afterMurali Vijay wasruled out of the tour due to a wrist injury and the left-hander grasped his opportunity in style on day one in Galle. The destructive opener– playing his first Test this year– made a brilliant 190 off only 168 balls and the classy Pujara was still there on 144when India closed on 399-3, Nuwan Pradeep taking all three wickets. Dhawan was dropped on 31 by Asela Gunaratne, who could miss the rest of the series after fracturing his thumb while attempting to cling on at second slip, and went on to score a fifth Test hundred. The powerfulDhawan added insult to injury, scoring 126 runs in a punishing afternoon session for Sri Lanka, and the prolific Pujara cashed in on a flat pitch with another exquisite inningsas the tourists made their second-highest score on day one of a Test. Abhinav Mukund got his chance at the top of the order in the absence of the unwellKL Rahul, but fell cheaply when he edged Pradeep (3-64) behind after Virat Kohli won the toss. Dhawan was given a lifeline when he put down by Gunaratne, who was left in agony as his participation in this match at the very least came to a premature end. The aggressive Dhawan was in one-day mode, using his feet superbly and was unbeaten on 64 to take the top-ranked side on to 115-1 at lunch, with Pujara looking ominously untroubled. Dhawan cut loose after the interval, demonstrating the full range of strokes he has in hisrepertoire as the runs came all too easily, and Pujara was also in majestic touch. A sweep for four tookDhawan to three figures, almost two years after his previous Test century at the same venue, and Pujara continued to show great timing as he eased to 50. Sri Lanka's stand-in captain Rangana Herath looked short of ideas withthe free-scoring Dhawan in suchimperious touch, but after hitting 31 boundaries in a stunning knock, the opener gave it away by driving Pradeep to Angelo Mathews at mid-off just before tea to end a stand of 253. Kohli was given out caught behind for only three attempting to hook Pradeep following a successful review from Herath, but Pujara made Sri Lanka suffer and raised his bat to celebrate yet another hundred after finding a leg-sidegap to pick up two. Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane (39 not out) added 113 for the fourth wicket by the time India – who handed a debut to Hardik Pandya– closed in a commanding position.

Neymar.

As Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) reportedly target Neymar for a world-record fee, Kaka says the Barcelona star will flourish wherever he decides to play. The Ligue 1 giants are reportedly ready to meet Neymar's €222million release clause, with head coach Unai Emery hoping to add the Brazil star as PSG attempt to make their mark on the Champions League. According to reports in his homeland, Neymar is open to making the move to Parc des Princes, despite signing a five-year contract with Barca in October last year and scoring more than 100 goals since arriving from Santos in 2013. Barca defender Gerard Pique and coach Ernesto Valverde have led the way publicly in trying to convince Neymar to remain at Camp Nou, but Kaka says his compatriot must do what is right by himself. Asked about the forward's future, World Cup and Ballon d'Or winner Kaka told Omnisport: "In this period of the season when the market is open, there is lot of speculation. "Big numbers, everybody wants the big players and of course Neymar is one of them. "But it is a personal choice. I don't know what is in his mind or what he wants, if he thinks his time in Barca is finishing and it's time to move. "What I can say is that Neymar is a very good player, amazing. Wherever he plays the next few years, he will be great. "We will see. I wish him luck to decide. It's not easy to decide what is best for you in the future. He has a very good team, support, father and family to decide for his career." Amid the mounting speculation, Neymar scored twice as Barca kicked off their International Champions Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Juventus in New Jersey on Saturday. Barca are back in action against Manchester United on Wednesday.


A man is accused of drunkenly strolling down a Maine road wearing a black-hooded sweatshirt and a clown mask and brandishing a machete taped to where his arm had been amputated. Maine State Police told WCSH-TV (http://on.wcsh6.com/2uZu4Db ) that 31-year-old Corey Berry, of Hollis, was arrested Tuesday and charged with criminal threatening. He was released after posting $200 bail. Police say Berry was first spotted in Hollis but then fled into the woods. He was taken into custody after re-emerging in Waterboro. Police say Berry was intoxicated but cooperative. He told officers that he was copying previous clown sightings as a prank. A phone number for Berry couldn't be found Wednesday. It wasn't known if he has a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.

The Trump administration has hit Venezuela with new sanctions targeting 13 current or former top officials in President Nicolas Maduro's government. It is also threatening more penalties if he goes through with a controversial plan to rewrite the beleaguered country's constitution, with an election scheduled Sunday to elect delegates to a special assembly charged with drafting a new charter. The sanctions target senior Venezuelan officials that the U.S. says are promoting that vote or undermining democracy, along with five others implicated in violence or repression amid the country's political crisis. They freeze any assets the individuals have in the United States and bar Americans from doing business with them. Among those hit by the sanctions announced Wednesday are Tibisay Lucena Ramirez, the president of the National Electoral Council and president of Venezuela's National Board of Elections; Elias Jose Jaua Milano, Minister of Education and head of the Presidential Commission for the National Constituent Assembly; Tarek William Saab Halabi, the president of Venezuela's Republican Moral Council; and Maria Iris Varela Rangel, a Member of Venezuela's Presidential Commission for the Constituent Assembly. Additionally,Colombia's flagship airline is suspending all flights to neighbouring Venezuela, citing security concerns. Avianca announced Wednesday it is halting service to the struggling South American nation because of changes needed to improve airport infrastructure and ensure international standards are met. The airline operates two direct flights to Venezuela: One from Bogota, Colombia, and the other from Lima, Peru. Avianca Executive President Hernan Rincon says he laments the decision, "but our obligation is to guarantee the safety of the operation." A growing list of air carriers has suspended service to Venezuela as the country sinks further into economic and political ruin. June saw the last United Airlines departure out of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. The United States and 12 other regional nationspresented a statement at an Organization of American States meeting Wednesday calling the constitutional process being pushed by Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro a "definitive dismantling" of democratic institutions. The statement expresses concern over what it says is a "serious alteration of the democratic order, the worsening of the crisis and the increase of violence" in Venezuela. The statement was issued by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and the United States.


Events

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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.