This year YUMA VIBE is celebrating all things Fete! On Friday night they hosted Erupt, an event which promised to give a preview of what’s to come on the road come carnival Monday and Tuesday. Having celebrated its tenth anniversary last year, YUMA is still considered a relatively young band, but even so they’ve managed to stamp their name and firmly cement their place on the carnival circuit. Friday’s event was hosted by St Lucia’s Barrie Hype and featured performances by some of this season’s most in-demand artistes. Nailah Blackman, Voice, Lil Natty and Thunda, Nadia Batson, Iwer George, Patrice Roberts, Mr Killa, Vincentian singer/songwriter Problem Child, who performed fresh off the Soca Monarch stage and Singer/Song Writer/Producer, Motto, were among the acts who ensured there was no shortage of vibes at the event. In an interview with Loop News Motto, the St Lucian triple threat said this is one of the best seasons he’s enjoyed since his initial foray into the soca arena. “It’s the first year I have so many projects out as far as riddims and songs go. This year I have like five riddims out that includes the Big Ride Riddim, the Bailah Riddim with Kes, myself and Skinny Fabulous, the Toatin’ Riddim featuring myself and Nessa Preppy, Nadia Batson, Lyrikal, Dev, Shal and Rae. All the songs are accepted widely, I mean you saw the crowd a while ago. Trinis love the vibes, they love the beats, and you know the sound from up the islands. All my music has been widely received, it’s been an amazing season for me so far.” As much as he loves performing, which he said allows him to feed off the energy of partygoers, Motto said he much prefers the creative process. “The most exciting part is testing the limits of your creativity. There’s always the question of how creative you can get, what it’ll take to make a beat that people will fall in love with. A lot of producers don’t have the formula, for some it’s hit and miss. Finding that something every year that people would want to get to know… that beat that is undeniably infectious and have people think ‘wow!’ this is what I like doing. I listen to sounds from other countries and put elements together. As you can see, it works. The fusion works.” We met Kandice who travelled from Guyana for carnival. She described the event as an accurate representation of the authentic Trini fete experience. “I’m really, very happy to be here. I was promised a good time, but this is so much more than I expected. The vibes so potent it has engaged every one of my senses. Nice crowd, great music. I’ve enjoyed all the performances so far but Motto! Goodness, he embodies carnival energy!” she told Loop News. Xavier from St Kitts said for him the highlight of the event was Mr Killas performance. “Even the Road March contenders Stage Gone Bad and Conch Shell did not illicit the response that Mr Killa did. The power he wields over his audience is impressive and enviable. Sucks that he didn’t compete in Soca Monarch, would have loved to see his crowd control go up against the Water Lords monster tune.” Machel Montano was the last to perform at the show which ended just after 5am on Saturday. For a brief moment, he was joined on stage by long-time friend, comedienne and Talk Show Host, Lilly Singh. She told Loop News “I love Trinidad, I love the culture. I had to be here.”

Photo via Ludacris/Instagram

US rap star and actor Ludacris is here for Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. The star was seen performing at Soca Brainwash on Saturday, hyping up the crowd and performing some of his major hits. The star shared photos of him and soca star Machel Montano and Olympian gold medallist Usain Bolt, who is also here for Carnival. Ludacris said to Instagram: "Trinidad I love you!" View this post on Instagram Trinidad I LOVE YOU!!! 🇹🇹🇹🇹🇹🇹 A post shared by @ ludacris on Feb 22, 2020 at 4:30pm PST Ludacris said: "When it comes to soca, it doesn’t get much bigger than @machelmontano amazing and inspiring seeing your show last night in your home a country.” Montano replied: “Big up bro! Welcome to the greatest show on EARTH.” (Photo: Ludacris/Instagram) Musical celebrity Nicki Minaj, who has Trinidadian roots, also landed in Trinidad on Saturday for Carnival celebrations. Minaj returned to Trinidad in 2012 to shoot a video for her single, 'Pound the Alarm'. The accompanyingmusic videohighlighted aspects of Carnival.

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

Photo: Getty images

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

In this photo taken Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, a Samburu boy walks behind his camel as a swarm of desert locusts fills the air, near the village of Sissia, in Samburu county, Kenya. (AP Photo/Patrick Ngugi)

The worst locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years needs some $76 million to help control and the money is "required by, actually, now," the United Nations said Thursday. So far just $15 million has been mobilized to help stop the outbreak that threatens to worsen an already poor hunger situation for millions of people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and elsewhere, Dominique Bourgeon, emergencies director with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, told a briefing in Rome. "You can imagine that a country that has not seen such a thing in 70 years is not well prepared," he said of Kenya, East Africa's economic hub. The outbreak, blamed in part on a changing climate, now threatens to spread to South Sudan and Uganda and new rains in the weeks to come will fuel fresh vegetation and a new wave of breeding. The outbreak might not be under control until June when drier weather arrives, authorities have said. But by then the number of locusts, if left unchecked, could grow 500 times, experts have warned. "If after April the money has come, it's somehow useless," FAO chief Qu Dongyu told the briefing. "So the timing, location, is crucial." Already the locusts, moving in swarms of hundreds of millions, have stripped some crops bare. An Ethiopian representative at the briefing told the FAO that some farmers in Africa's second-most populous nation have lost 90% of their production. The locusts have been moving steadily toward Ethiopia's Rift Valley, the country's breadbasket, the UN says. Authorities have said aerial pesticide spraying is the only effective control in the outbreak, but officials in Kenya and elsewhere have said more planes and more pesticide are needed. A single swarm can contain up to 150 million locusts per square kilometre of farmland, an area the size of almost 250 football fields, regional authorities say. One especially large swarm in northeastern Kenya measured 60 kilometres long by 40 kilometres wide (37 miles long by 25 miles wide). "We depend a lot on this season and we worry that the locusts will destroy our harvest and we end up remaining hungry through the rest of the year, waiting for October for the next cropping season," one farmer in Kenya's Kitui county, Esther Kithuka, has told the FAO. Even before this outbreak, nearly 20 million people faced high levels of food insecurity across the East African region long challenged by periodic droughts and floods.

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

A body burnt beyond recognition was discovered by police and fire officials in the early hours of Sunday, February 23, 2020. Loop News has been reliably informed that about 2.30 am February 23, the Gros Islet Police responded to a report of a vehicular fire in an area slightly off the main road before the Pigeon Island entrance. [related node_id='c72e46ca-39a1-48c3-9ebc-0906680e2992'] The Saint Lucia Fire Service was contacted and upon extinguishing the fire they notice the body of an individual in the driver's seat of the vehicle, burnt beyond recognition. According to police sources, the matter is being treated as a possible homicide. The Saint Lucia Fire Service and the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force are working to determine what caused the fire and the identity of the individual.

Members of the Guyana Defence Force after they participated in the special voting on Friday. Photo: Department of Public Information Guyana.

Members of Guyana’s Disciplined Forces cast their ballots today to mark the start of special voting. The Disciplined Forces are made up of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Guyana Police Force (GPF) Guyana Fire Service (GFS) and Guyana Prison Service (GPS). A total of 10,000 members of the Disciplined Forces are eligible to vote. They will cast their ballots at 60 polling stations across Guyana the will operate until 6 pm. Deputy Chief Elections Officer Roxanne Myers viewed the polling at Camp Ayangana in Georgetown, where 500 GDF members will vote. She said the process was going smoothly and polling agents were doing their part to ensure the correct people voted. Incumbent President David Granger, a retired Brigadier, was also present to view the voting in his capacity as a supervisory agent of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC). Granger said he was pleased with the voting process. Foreign observers from the European Union and Organization of American States were also present at the polling station.

FILE - In this January 14, 2012 file photo, former model and restaurateur B. Smith arrives at the BET Honors red carpet in the Warner Theatre in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Barbara “B.” Smith, one of the nation’s top black models who went on to open restaurants, launch a successful home products line and write cookbooks, has died at her Long Island home at age 70 after battling early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Smith’s family announced on social media that she died Saturday evening. “Heaven is shining even brighter now that it is graced with B.’s dazzling and unforgettable smile,” Smith’s husband Dan Gasby said on Facebook. Smith’s eponymous Manhattan restaurant opened in 1986 and attracted a following among affluent black New Yorkers, The New York Times recalled. Essence magazine described it as the place “where the who’s who of black Manhattan meet, greet and eat regularly.” Smith wrote three cookbooks, founded three successful restaurants and launched a nationally syndicated television show and a magazine. Her successful home products line was the first from a black woman to be sold at a nationwide retailer when it debuted in 2001 at Bed Bath & Beyond. In 1976, she became the second black model to be on the cover of Mademoiselle magazine, after Jolie Jones in 1969. “You epitomised class, true beauty and dignity. Rest well Queen,” actress Viola Davis wrote on Twitter. Smith was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2013. She and Gasbyraised awarenessof the disease, and particularly its impacts on the African-American community, following her diagnosis. Some described Smith as a “black Martha Stewart,” a comparison she said she didn’t mind though she believed the two lifestyle mavens were quite different. “Martha Stewart has presented herself doing the things domestics and African Americans have done for years,” she said in a 1997 interview with New York magazine. “We were always expected to redo the chairs and use everything in the garden. This is the legacy that I was left. Martha just got there first.” In the same interview, Gasby said, “Martha is perfection and Barbara is passion.” Smith began suffering from memory problems years before her diagnosis. She once froze for several seconds while being interviewed on the “Today Show,” prompting a doctor’s visit that led to her diagnosis. A few months later, she was missing in New York City for a day. In 2018, Gasby revealed that he was in a relationship with another woman while caring for his ailing wife, leading to harsh criticism from some of her fans. He fired back at critics with a Facebook post about the pain of living with Alzheimer’s in the family. “I love my wife but I can’t let her take away my life,” he wrote. The couple co-authored a book, “Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our fight Against Alzheimer’s,” and have partnered with the Brain Health Registry. Smith, a native of Pennsylvania, began her career as a fashion model in Pittsburgh and went on to serve as a spokeswoman for Verizon, Colgate, Palmolive Oxy and McCormick’s Lawry seasonings. She hosted the nationally syndicated television show “B. Smith with Style” for nearly a decade, which aired on NBC stations. Smith is survived by Gasby, whom she married in 1992, and her stepdaughter Dana Gasby.

The Ave Maria Girls Infant and Primary School held a rally on the eve of Saint Lucia’s Independence, celebrating the occasion in grand style. The annual activity featured presentations from both schools, which included songs, dance, short skits from teachers; all depicting the independence 41 theme: "Now is the Time, Let’s Do This Together." “It depicted showing the girls that everybody in society; the nurse, the doctor, the market vendor, the farmer, the cook, the janitor, in order for anything positive, progressive and successful to take place, all persons in society must come together,” principal of the primary school, Valerie St Helene Henry said. Principal of the Ave Maria Girls Primary Scool, Valerie St Helene Henry Getting the students involved in the celebrations, she noted, is extremely important. “It is not when they get older they have to get involved in making a contribution to society, they are the future human resource so we have to start from now to show them how, and to prepare them for the wider society, showing them how to interact with each other, socialize and how to deal with conflict,” Henry said. Former student of the Ave Maria Primary School, Anya Edwin, explained to the students how she remained focused on her schoolwork during her school days and the importance of extra-curricular activities at school in the development of her career and personal life. “I came here today to address the students, inspiring them through my journey, where I came from the where I am now and informing them of how important it is to work together as a unit just as is said in our theme for this year’s independence,” Edwin said. First Vice President of the National Youth Council, Anya Edwin Edwin, who is the First Vice President of the National Youth Council, also explained to them the importance of displaying respect for all members of society. The activity was well received by the students. “They enjoyed it, you can see them going around showing their Saint Lucian pride, they received the guest speaker and the message that came from every presentation this morning,” Henry stated.

Vanessa Bryant speaks during a celebration of life for her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Monday, February 24, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Photos: AP)

Kobe Bryant’s wife remembered him as a devoted father and husband who arrived early for school pickups and wrote heartfelt cards and letters. Rob Pelinka, Bryant’s longtime agent and closest friend, recalled getting a text from the NBA superstar moments before he was killed last month in a helicopter crash. The message asked for help in securing an internship for another friend’s daughter. Michael Jordan called Bryant “a little brother” and said when he died, "a piece of me died.” Bryant's athletic achievements were only part of the reason that 20,000 Lakers fans gathered Monday for a public memorial service at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The event offered another chance to honour Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and the other seven victims of the crash with tears, memories and laughs. Fans arrives for a celebration of life for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. Los Angeles already knew that Bryant was much more than a basketball player. His friends and family told the world. “I couldn't see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player,” Vanessa Bryant said. “He was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of my children. He was mine. He was my everything.” The ceremony included musical numbers by Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera. The event concluded with a screening of “Dear Basketball,” Bryant's Academy Award-winning short film about reluctantly saying goodbye to his passion upon his retirement from the Lakers in 2016. Fans, many wearing Bryant's jersey or team colours, filled the seats at the downtown arena where Bryant played for the final 17 seasons of a two-decade NBA career spent entirely with Los Angeles' most popular sports franchise. Shaquille O'Neal speaks during the function. The mourners included Lakers legends Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Pau Gasol. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver joined Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Phil Jackson and dozens of current NBA players, including Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving and LA natives James Harden, Russell Westbrook and DeMar DeRozan. Celebrities such as Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez also attended. After Jimmy Kimmel welcomed the crowd, Vanessa Bryant provided a poignant window into the family's life with Gianna and her three sisters — Natalia, Bianka and Capri. “God knew they couldn't be on this Earth without each other,” said Vanessa Bryant, who had been with Kobe since 1999. “He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. And I got Nati, Bibi and Coco. We're still the best team.” Vanessa Bryant was followed on the podium by basketball stars Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu and University of Connecticut women's coach Geno Auriemma. Kobe Bryant was a passionate advocate for women’s basketball, and Gigi Bryant was a promising young player who aspired to play at UConn. Joe Bryant and former Los Angeles Lakers' Derek Fisher arrive for thecelebration. “If I represented the present of the women’s game, Gigi represented the future, and Kobe knew it,” said Ionescu, the Oregon star who was mentored by Bryant. Pelinka referred to the day of the crash as “when the axis of the world seemed to shift forever, for all of us.” Pelinka was also Gigi Bryant’s godfather, and the families were close. He revealed that Bryant had texted him asking for help in getting an internship with a baseball agent for teenager Alexis Altobelli, who lost her parents and younger sister in the crash moments later. “Kobe lived to make other people’s lives better, all the way up to his final text,” Pelinka said. Erik Dominguez holds his 11-month-old daughter Isabella while watching the live stream of thepublic memorial for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Jordan, the Chicago Bulls star whose career was wrapping up as Bryant's was starting in the late 1990s, praised Bryant as “one of my dear friends. He was like a little brother. ... As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be." O'Neal and Bryant joined the Lakers together in 1996 and won three consecutive championships during eight tumultuous seasons in purple and gold. Although their relationship was often rocky in public, O'Neal said the two were always friendly in private, even comparing their dynamic to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Calling Bryant “a loyal friend and a true Renaissance man," O'Neal said the pair "pushed each other to play some of the greatest basketball of all time.” O'Neal also got the biggest laugh in the somber service with a profane joke about an exchange in which Shaq told Kobe there was no “I” in team, but Bryant responded by noting that there is an “M-E.” Fans line up to get into the Staples Center to attend the public memorial. The ceremony began with Beyonce performing her songs “XO” and “Halo" with dozens of backup musicians. Keys performed Beethoven's “Moonlight Sonata” later in the programme, and Aguilera sang “Ave Maria.” The five-time NBA champion's two retired jersey numbers — 8 and 24 — hang high above the arena where he became the third-leading scorer in league history. Lakers star LeBron James surpassed him on the night before Bryant's death. Hours before the service, Vanessa Bryant sued the owner of the helicopter that crashed in the fog. The wrongful-death lawsuit claimed that the pilot, Ara Zobayan, was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions. Money from ticket sales at the sold-out memorial will be given to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports programmes in underserved communities and teaches sports to girls and women. Samantha DeJesus, 32, and her brother George Galano, 31, paid $448 for their two seats. DeJesus said she got notified late that she had received tickets in a lottery and wasn’t sure if she wanted to pay that much. But the siblings, who saw their first Lakers game at the Forum against the Utah Jazz in the 1990s, said they couldn’t miss it. DeJesus called the ceremony “very emotional” and cried throughout. “I loved every single eulogy that was given,” she said. “You knew it was meant from the heart.” Galano, who was moved by the rendition of “Moonlight Sonata” by Alicia Keys, said he’s struggled to accept the tragedy since January26 and the memorial brought him closure. “Now it’s just reality,” he said. “I’m glad they did this so we could move on and heal.”

Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan courthouse as jury deliberations continue in his rape trial, Monday, February 24, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Harvey Weinstein was convicted Monday of rape and sexual assault against two women and could be sent to prison for decades, sealing his dizzying fall from powerful Hollywood studio boss to archvillain of the #MeToo movement. He was convicted on charges stemming from a 2006 sexual assault and a 2013 rape. The jury found Weinstein not guilty on the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault, that could have resulted in a life sentence. The most damaging conviction, for the sexual assault of production assistant Mimi Haleyi, would carry a maximum sentence of 25 years. Weinstein, 67, had a look of resignation as the verdict came in, and was seen talking to his lawyers shortly after. The verdict followed weeks of often harrowing and excruciatingly graphic testimony from a string of accusers who told of rapes, forced oral sex, groping, masturbation, lewd propositions and that’s-Hollywood excuses from Weinstein about how the casting couch works. The conviction was seen as a long-overdue reckoning for Weinstein after years of whispers about his behavior turned into a torrent of accusations in 2017 that destroyed his career and gave rise to #MeToo, the global movement to encourage women to come forward and hold powerful men accountable for their sexual misconduct. The jury of seven men and five women took five days to find him guilty. The case against the once-feared producer was essentially built on three allegations: that he raped an aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013, that he forcibly performed oral sex on Haleyi and that he raped and forcibly performed oral sex on “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra in her apartment in the mid-1990s. Three additional women who said they, too, were attacked by Weinstein also testified as part of an effort by prosecutors to show a pattern of brutish behavior on his part. The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sex crimes unless they grant permission, as Haleyi and Sciorra did. Jurors signaled their struggles with the Sciorra charges four days into deliberations. On Friday, after reviewing sections of her testimony and related evidence, they sent a note to the judge indicating they were deadlocked on the counts but had reached a unanimous verdict on the others. After some debate in the courtroom, the judge ordered jurors to keep deliberating. While Weinstein did not testify, his lawyers contended that any sexual contact was consensual and that his accusers went to bed with him to advance their careers. The defense seized on the fact that two of the women central to the case stayed in contact with Weinstein through warm and even flirty emails — and had sex with him — well after he supposedly attacked them. The hard-charging and phenomenally successful movie executive helped bring to the screen such Oscar winners as “Good Will Hunting,” “Pulp Fiction,” “The King’s Speech” and “Shakespeare in Love” and nurtured the careers of celebrated filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith. Weinstein now faces charges in Los Angeles. In that case, announced just as the New York trial was getting under way on Jan. 6, authorities allege Weinstein raped one woman and sexually assaulted another on back-to-back nights during Oscars week in 2013. One of those women testified as a supporting witness at the New York trial. The trial was the first criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations against Weinstein from more than 90 women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek and Uma Thurman. Most of those cases were too old to prosecute. During the trial, Weinstein regularly trudged into the courthouse stooped and unshaven, using a walker after recently undergoing back surgery — a far cry from the way he was depicted in court as a burly, intimidating figure whose eyes seemed to turn black with menace when his anger flared. Many of Weinstein’s accusers described him as a “Jekyll and Hyde” character who could be incredibly charming at first, making jokes and showing interest in using his immense power to help their careers. But that was an act, they said, meant to gain their trust and get them to a place — often a hotel room or an apartment — where he could violate them. “If he heard the word ‘no,’ it was like a trigger for him,” his rape accuser testified. Several women testified that Weinstein excused his behavior as the price for getting ahead in Hollywood. One said that when she laughed off his advances, he sneered, “You’ll never make it in this business. This is how this industry works.” The jury heard lurid testimony that Weinstein injected himself with a needle to get an erection, that his genitals appeared disfigured, that he sent Sciorra a box of chocolate penises and that he once showed up uninvited at her hotel room door in his underwear with a bottle of baby oil in one hand and a video in the other. The prosecution’s task was made more complicated because two of the women at the very center of the case didn’t just abandon Weinstein after the alleged encounters: Haleyi testified that she had sex with him two weeks later, while the rape accuser whose name was withheld said she had a sexual encounter with him more than three years afterward. Like Haleyi, she sent Weinstein friendly and sometimes flirtatious emails, such as “Miss you big guy” and “I love you, always do. But I hate feeling like a booty call.” During a cross-examination from Weinstein’s lawyers so exhaustive that she broke down in tears on the stand, the woman said she sent him flattering emails and kept seeing him because she was afraid of his unpredictable anger and “I wanted him to believe I wasn’t a threat.” To blunt that line of questioning, prosecutors called to the witness stand a forensic psychiatrist who said that most sexual assault victims continue to have contact with their attackers and that they hope what happened to them “is just an aberration.” During closing arguments, Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno charged that Weinstein had become “the target of a cause and a movement” — #MeToo — and asked the jury to ignore “outside forces.” “This is not a popularity contest,” she said. She said the case against Weinstein amounted to “regret renamed as rape,” arguing that the women exercised their free will to try to further their careers. Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the jury that Weinstein considered himself such a big shot in Hollywood that he thought he could get away with treating women as “complete disposables.” “The universe is run by me and they don’t get to complain when they get stepped on, spit on, demoralized and, yes, raped and abused by me — the king,” she said, mimicking Weinstein. Rumors about Weinstein’s behavior swirled in Hollywood circles for a long time, but he managed to silence many accusers with payoffs, nondisclosure agreements and the constant fear that he could crush their careers if they spoke out. Weinstein was finally arrested and led away in handcuffs in May 2018, seven months after The New York Times and The New Yorker exposed his alleged misconduct in stories that would win the Pulitzer Prize. Among other men taken down by the #MeToo movement since the scandal broke: news anchors Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, actor Kevin Spacey and Sen. Al Franken. Weinstein, the product of a working-class family from Queens, achieved success at two movie studios he created with his brother Bob: Miramax — named for their parents, Miriam and Max — and then the Weinstein Co. The Weinstein Co. went bankrupt after his disgrace. A tentative settlement was reached last year to resolve nearly all lawsuits stemming from the scandal. It would pay Weinstein’s alleged victims about $25 million. Under the proposed deal, Weinstein would not have to admit any wrongdoing or personally pay anything; the studio’s insurance companies would cover the cost. Weinstein’s efforts to silence his accusers and thwart journalists who sought to expose his secrets included hiring Black Cube, an Israeli spy agency staffed by former Mossad agents. Asked one day as he left court why he hired that firm, Weinstein turned to a reporter and said: “For days like this.”

FILE - In this July 26, 2018, file photo former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch during the U.S. national championships swimming meet in Irvine, California.  (AP Photo/Chris Carlson,File)

Thousands of mourners will gather in Staples Center on Monday to say farewell to Kobe and Gianna Bryant. The basketball superstar and his 13-year-old daughter will be honoured in a public memorial at the arena where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe and Gianna Bryant died along with seven others on January26 in a helicopter crash. The Celebration of Life will feature speakers reflecting on Kobe Bryant’s impact on his sport and the world, along with music and retrospectives on Bryant’s on-court achievements. Bryant became active in film, television and writing after he retired from basketball in 2016. Bryant’s family, dozens of sports greats and many major figures in Bryant’s public life are expected to attend. Staples Center is sold out for the memorial. The money made from ticket sales will be given to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports programs in underserved communities and teaches sports to girls and women. Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers, including the final 17 seasons at Staples Center, which opened in 1999. The five-time NBA champion’s two retired jersey numbers — 8 and 24 — hang high above the arena where he became the third-leading scorer in league history until Lakers star LeBron James passed him on the night before Bryant’s death. Bryant’s death caused an outpouring of grief across Los Angeles, where he remained the city’s most popular athlete into retirement. Dozens of public memorials and murals have been installed around the sprawling metropolis, and thousands of fans gathered daily outside Staples Center to commiserate after the crash. Symbolic meanings will run throughout the ceremony, which will be held on a 24-foot-by-24-foot stage. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother, chose February24 as the date in honor of the uniform numbers of Kobe and Gianna, who wore No. 2 on her youth basketball teams. A private funeral was held for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Orange County on February7.

Jamaica and West Indies allrounder Andre Russell.

Jamaicans Andre Russell and Oshane Thomashave been recalled to West Indies' Twenty20 International squad to face Sri Lanka in two matches on March 4 and March 6 Shimron Hetmyeralso declared fit to be partof a Kieron Pollard-led 14-man squad. Allrounder Russell, 31, hasn't played for the Caribbean side since pulling up short midway through the 50-over World Cup in June 2019. However,he has taken part in other matches, most notably in the Bangladesh Premier League in December and January Russell is a two-time ICC T20 World Cup winner, having played a crucial role in the triumphs back in 2012 in Sri Lanka and 2016 in India. He has successfully completed the Cricket West Indies (CWI) return-to-play assessment programme under the supervision of CWI Medical Team in his native Jamaica. He has so far played 47 T20Is for the West Indies. Fast bowler Thomas, who turned 23 earlier this week, is selected after making a full recovery from a car accident in Jamaica recently. Additionally, wicket-keeper/batsman Shai Hope has been included alongside left-arm spinner Fabian Allen. Hetmyer completed a fitness assessment earlier in the week and successfully reached the minimum required standard for selection. Commenting on the squad, CWI lead selector Roger Harper said: “Shimron Hetmyer missed out on selection for the ODI squad. He has since attained the required fitness level, becoming available for selection and has been included. "Andre Russell is back in the squad, having been cleared by the medical panel and successfully completing CWI’s return-to-play protocol. Andre will add potency to every department of the team. Oshane Thomas appears to be focused and raring to go. He will add pace and penetration to the bowling unit.” Harper added: “Shai Hope provides an opening option and cover as a back-up wicket-keeper also. Fabian Allen returns from the injury he sustained in the series against Afghanistan late last year. He will provide a spin bowling option as well as adding depth to the batting group.” Looking ahead to the T20I matches, Harper outlined that he will have one eye on the ICC T20 World Cup to be played in Australia later this year. West Indies are the defending champions and the only team to lift the trophy twice. “I look forward to the team building on its recent performances and winning the T20 series in Sri Lanka. This is another opportunity for the team to build on its strengths and identify areas that need improvement while continuing the process of building up with the aim of peaking for the T20 World Cup in October,” Harper further said. The two T20Is will be played at the Pallakele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy. West Indies and Sri Lanka are now contesting a three-match ODI series. Sri Lanka won the first match today by a wicket inColombo. The second match is in Hambantota on Wednesday. West Indies T20I squad Kieron Pollard (capt), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Kesrick Williams. IN:Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, Fabian Allen, Shai Hope. OUT:Evin Lewis, Khary Pierre, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd.

After three meetings, the Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Stakeholder Committee is in agreement to recommend restrictive legislation on certain single-use plastics in the Cayman Islands. The new law whichis projected to be effective from January 2021 will be based on a proposal that is expectedto include legislation to restrict certain single-use plastic items such as: single-use check out shopping bags, polystyrene take away containers, plastic straws, plastic stirrers, and plastic cotton swabs. The SUP Committee, led by the Honourable Dwayne Seymour and Honourable Joseph Hew, will continue to actively consider whether other single-use plastic items will be subject to legislation. The SUP Committee also intends to look into the effects of possibly banning other plastics (e.g. polystyrene or expanded foam products), as well as to identify reasonable, practical alternative products that can be imported in place of the items that are proposed to be banned. As part of the SUP Committee’s scope, other issues such as littering and increased penalties, effects of plastics on our physical health, the reduction of importing non-recyclable items, and public education on waste reduction, will all be considered and discussed in the SUP Committee’s Report to Cabinet. Seven Caribbean countries have reported single-use plastic bans to be put into place this year. These are:Belize, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago. The Cayman Islands, which produces the 32ndlargest amount of plastic waste per capita in the world, generates more than twice the amount of plastic waste per person as China, which is the world’s largest plastic polluter in absolute terms. This is inline with trends in the region— the Caribbean is disproportionately represented in the list of the top global polluters per capita. (World Bank) In absolute terms, Cayman produces 5,106 tonnes of plastic waste per year, which is a relatively small amount, given the island’s small size, but on a capita level, at 0.252 kilograms of plastic waste per person per day, plastic waste production is quite high. Fortunately, Cayman’s record with regards to plastic management appears to be relatively good in comparison to other countries. The island was ranked number 19 in the world, just a few spots away from countries such as Finland, France and the United Arab Emirates, with respect to size of improperly disposed plastic per capita, which in most cases ends up in the ocean. At 0.005 kilograms per person per day, the volume is relatively low, compared to the vast majority of other countries on the list. According to Cayman’s Government Information Services, 14% of the waste being sent to the landfill is plastic. (2016) The Department of Environmental Health only takes numbers 1 and 2 grade plastics, which include items such as milk jugs and food boxes, as recycling other grades has not proven to be economically feasible. The government is currently considering whether to put a single use plastics ban in place. “The world, including the Cayman Islands, has a real problem with over-reliance on single-use plastics. We have to work together on all levels; government, organisations, companies and individuals. We have to be accountable for the islands we intend for future generations to inherit,” said Minister Seymour. "The Ministry recognises that any legislation on single-use plastics in the Cayman Islands will impact local businesses and consumers. As the Committee continues to assess options for restrictive legislation on these items and other plastics, it will consider the implications for alternatives to single-use plastics within a holistic understanding of Cayman’s economy, society and environment." Opportunities for public input are planned for later in the year and a dedicated email address is also currently being established and will be shared shortly, which members of the public may utilize for further information or comments for the Committee. The formation of the SUP Committee is aligned with the National Solid Waste Management Policy which prioritises reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery through an Integrated Solid Waste Management System within the Cayman Islands.

Sakey Productions concluded its island-wide Independence Mural Series with its fourth and final mural in the City of Castries today. Proceeding this, three other murals were done inCanaries, Vieux Fort and Micoud. The series was conducted as part of the continuation of the beautification project ‘Outdoor Gallery’ which was started four years ago. [image_gallery] Artist Naja Misaki Simeon stated “These murals is like building a community of artists, building togetherness of the country. So it’s going to be painted on the theme 'Now is the time, Let's do this Together'which is also the Independence theme’.’ The purpose of the murals is to bring some love, light and color into the city. The mural, which depicts togetherness and unity, will be painted on the Gros Islet bus stop in Castries. MrMisaki Simeon invites all artists or anyone from the public to join in on the islandwide mural series.