Authors Posts by Desmond Brown

Desmond Brown

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PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Aug 18 2017 – Search and rescue operations were continuing here on Friday after six women drowned when their sailboat capsized.

The Local Civil Protection agency representative, Jose Rethone, said that 23 people have so far been rescued after the boat sank off the Canal de la Tortue. At least 10 others are missing.

Rethone did not provide the identities of the women that died during the incident, but said the boat overturned Thursday in rough seas as it was carrying people on a regular route between the island of La Tortue and Port-de-Paix.

He said officials believe about 40 people were on board but there was no manifest. The vessels used as ferries in that area are frequently overloaded and poorly maintained.

At least three other people have been taken to the Immaculate Hospital of Port-de-Paix.

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PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Aug 18 2017 – The National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH) Friday called for an investigation into the escape from prison of three men, including a suspected gang leader allegedly involved in at least 24 kidnappings and an attack on the presidential motorcade earlier this year.

The RNDDH said that the three men, including a Bahamian national, Taylor Periquio Valentino, aka “Tico”, who is wanted in the United States on murder charges, could only have escaped with assistance from inside.

The authorities said that the men, including the suspected gang leader, Berger Milot, escaped from a cell at the Office for the Fight Against Narcotics Trafficking (BLTS) while they were being guarded by armed police officers, including an inspector.

The authorities have since announced a reward of three million gourdes for information leading to the arrest of the men.

Milot, is wanted for his involvement in at least 24 cases of kidnappings between August 2015 and July 2017 in addition to the attack on the presidential motorcade at Arcahaie, Clauvis Cadet. He was arrested in Port-de-Paix for drug trafficking and conspiracy.

The police said they have also alerted the Dominican Republic authorities to the escape of the three men.

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 18 2017 – The Guardian Media Ltd (GML) has announced the retrenchment of 31 employees saying it “was not an easy decision” to do so.

GML, a subsidiary of the ANSA McAL Group, publishes the Guardian newspaper and operates CNC3 Television, the TBC Radio Network and the Big Board Company.

The company in December last year, sent home 16 employees.

A GML statement noted that the staff reduction was necessary to make sure the company’s costs reflect the new economic reality in Trinidad and Tobago and that the changes are also part of a wider transformation plan Guardian Media is implementing to remain successful in the digital age.

“The day has been difficult as we adjust to the changes and say farewell to colleagues we respect and enjoyed sharing the work environment with.

“This was not an easy decision for us but we felt it was necessary as we want to make sure that, as the Guardian newspaper marks its centenary year, we are ready for the next century ahead of us,” said Guardian Media’s Managing Director Lucio Mesquita.

Last week, the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) President Vincent Caberra accused GML of engaging in “unnecessary” retrenchments which he described as “unpatriotic”

“Let me say from the outset, that BIGWU has evidence which we have already placed before the industrial court arising out of a complaint already lodged by the union for an order against the employer for a commission of an industrial relations offence that this employer has skillfully, or rather not so skillfully, manipulated the presentation of figures to the trade union in an attempt to dupe us into believing that the print section of the GML had been losing money.” Cabrera said.

But GML said that Caberra was wrong, noting that “as a publicly traded company, our financial statements are published every quarter and are independently audited on an annual basis in accordance with international accounting standards”.

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Aug 18 2017 – The Tropical Storm Warning for Barbados has been dis-continued as of 8 a.m.

The Flood Warning for Barbados will remain in effect until 9 a.m., while the Small Craft Warning remains in effect.

A Flood-Warning means that some flooding is already occurring or is likely to occur.

At 8 a.m, the center of T. S “Harvey” was located near 13.0°N, 60.1°W or about 55MI…90KM west of Barbados. The system continues to move westward at 18mph/ 30 km/h. Maximum sustained winds remain near 40 mph (65km/h) with higher gusts.  Minimum central pressure is 1005mb…..29.68 inches.

Members of the public have been advised that the Transport Board’s bus service will resume after the all clear is given following the passage of Tropical Storm Harvey.

Manager of Marketing and Communications at the Transport Board, Lynda Holder, said regular service would resume after a damage assessment by the first responders, and the all clear is given.

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Aug 18 2017 – Tropical Storm Harvey is beginning to bring rain to the Windward Islands, and may pose a threat early next week in parts of Central America’s Caribbean coast.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for parts of the Windward Islands, including Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Warnings are issued when tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Dominica, where those conditions are possible within that timeframe.

Tropical storm conditions, with winds of 39 mph or greater, are spreading through the warning area, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous.

Thunderstorm activity over the storm has not changed much since a Thursday afternoon hurricane hunter flight found winds of 40 mph. Another mission is currently taking place to see if anything has changed in the storm.

Harvey will bring 2 to 4 inches of rain across the Windward Islands from Martinique southward to Grenada, which could trigger life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides in mountainous terrain.

After that, the system will then track westward through the rest of the Caribbean Sea, and will likely pose a threat to parts of Central America and/or Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula early next week.

It’s not clear how strong this tropical storm will become through its Caribbean trek, due to potential interaction with dry conditions and sinking air. Interests throughout the Caribbean should monitor the progress of Harvey through early next week.

At this time, Tropical Storm Harvey is not a threat to the United States.

Two Other Disturbances to Monitor

Invest 92L continues to fester a few hundred miles to the east of Harvey.

This invest has shown signs of strengthening and could become a tropical depression later today or over the weekend.

A fresh surge of such dry air, known as the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), is pushing toward 92L right now. This dry air may mix in with the disturbance, preventing thunderstorms from persisting and clustering.

Furthermore, if 92L tracks farther north, as expected, wind shear – the change in wind direction with height – is stronger to the north of the Leeward Islands, according to an analysis from the University of Wisconsin.

This hostile wind shear that typically rips apart tropical disturbances and weaker tropical cyclones may inhibit 92L from developing significantly, if it gains enough latitude north of the Leeward Islands this weekend.

A hurricane hunter mission has been tentatively scheduled for Saturday afternoon to determine if Invest 92L has organized and strengthened enough to be classified as a tropical depression or tropical storm.

It’s worth noting that even if 92L doesn’t develop into a tropical cyclone the next few days, this disturbance will likely continue migrating through the Bahamas, then into the Gulf of Mexico next week and will be monitored for any potential later development.

Finally, a tropical wave emerged off the west African coast Wednesday, well east of Harvey and 92L, kicking off its journey across the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

This latest wave may develop by the weekend but won’t near the longitude of the Lesser Antilles until early next week.

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 17 2017 – Several countries in the region have reported outbreaks of conjunctivitis at health facilities and medical practices.

“The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is currently monitoring the situation and we want to urge persons to take the necessary precautions to prevent and reduce the spread of this illness,” said Dr Virginia Asin-Oostburg, Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control.

Conjunctivitis refers to inflammation of the membrane covering the whites of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids. The congestion of blood vessels in this membrane gives rise to a reddened appearance and explains the more common names “red eye or pink eye”.

The most common causes of conjunctivitis are viruses, bacteria, and allergens. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are very contagious and can spread easily from person to person.

Eye symptoms can include redness; irritation; itchiness; production of excessive tears; clear or yellow discharge that may make the eyelids stick together, especially on mornings; and swelling of the eye lids.

CARPHA said the risk of getting conjunctivitis, or spreading it to someone else can be reduced and it is urging members of the public to practice  the following hygiene steps:

  • Avoid close contact with persons who are ill with conjunctival symptoms
  • Keep unwashed hands away from face and eyes
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. Alternatively, you may use an alcohol based hand-sanitizer.
  • Avoid sharing personal items, such as pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, eye makeup, face makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses and, contact lens containers, or eyeglasses.
  • Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in common areas, (for example doorknobs, counter-tops in shared spaces).
  • If you are infected avoid using makeup and applicators, (for example brushes and sponges)
  • If you are infected, wash hands well before and after cleaning, or applying eye drops or ointment to, your infected eye.

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Aug 17 2017 – The tropics continues to ramp up. Newly developed Tropical Storm Harvey in approaching the Lesser Antilles and it is forecast to continue traveling west, officially arriving the Caribbean by tomorrow afternoon.

Harvey is expected to continue as a tropical storm as it moves well south of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, maintaining sustained winds below 74 mph.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Martinique, St. Lucia, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines while a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Dominica.

Conditions are forecast to become more favorable for Harvey to intensify to a Hurricane Category 1 by Sunday afternoon, as wind shear will decrease

In Barbados, Government offices closed from as early as 2:30 p.m. today, as the island remains under tropical storm warning.

In addition, the Transport Board has advised that the last bus for today will leave the terminals at 5 p.m.

The Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also recommended that private sector entities employ a staggered shutdown approach with offices closing at 2:30 p.m.; retail stores at 3:30 p.m; and gas stations and supermarkets and other essentials by 4:30 p.m.

Those recommendations follow detailed discussions with stakeholders in the National Emergency Operations Centre in light of the approach of the system.

A small craft warning will be in effect from 6 p.m. today.

Residents living in low-lying areas are urged to be on the alert and take all necessary precautions. 

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ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Aug 17 2017 – LIAT has announced the cancellation of several flights due to the impending passage of a potential tropical cyclone.

The cancelled flights for today are LI 369 from St Lucia to Barbados, LI 769 from Barbados to St Vincent, LI 770 from St Vincent to Barbados, LI 567 from Dominica to Barbados, LI 523 from Dominica to Barbados, LI 307 from Barbados to Grenada and LI 738 from Port of Spain to St Vincent.

LIAT said flight 393 will be retimed to depart Barbados at 6 p.m. today.

The carrier said the changes were necessary in order to transport passengers to their destinations safely and to reposition aircraft to operational airports.

Affected passengers will be allowed to rebook within the next two weeks with all change fees waived.

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CASTRIES, St Lucia, Aug 17 2017 – A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Martinique, St. Lucia, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Dominica.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case within 24-36 hours.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, in this case within 24-36 hours.

At 2 p.m., the disturbance was centered near latitude 13.1 North, longitude 54.1 West. The system is moving toward the west near 17 mph (28 km/h) and this motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days. On the forecast track, the disturbance should move through the Windward Islands and into the eastern
Caribbean Sea on Friday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph (55 km/h) with higher gusts. The disturbance is expected to become a tropical cyclone later today or tonight, and it could become a tropical storm before
reaching the Windward islands.

Satellite imagery indicates the disturbance is close to becoming a tropical cyclone. An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is currently enroute to investigate the system.

Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the Lesser Antilles within the warning area by early Friday, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch area on Friday.

The disturbance is expected to produce rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches across portions of the Windward Islands from Martinique southward to Grenada. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Aug 17 2017 – Barbados is now under a tropical storm warning.

In an advisory, the Barbados Meteorological Services said the area of low pressure east of the island has been upgraded to Potential Tropical Cyclone #9.

At 11 a.m., the centre of the system was located near 13.1 degrees North, 54.1 degrees west or about 365 miles east of Barbados.

The system is moving westward at 17 miles per hour and on that track, the centre is expected to pass near or over the island early tomorrow morning.

Maximum sustained winds are near 35 miles per hours with higher gusts.

The Met Office says Barbadians can expect moderate to heavy showers, thunderstorms and gusty winds to spread across island from tonight into tomorrow.

A small craft warning will also take effect from 6 p.m. The system is expected to generate large easterly swells of at least 2.5 to 3.0 metres (8 to 10 feet).

The forecasters warn that some flooding is likely in low-lying areas and they have urged residents to be alert and take all necessary precautions.

The next weather bulletin will be issued at 2 p.m.

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