Barbados Today Read, Watch, Listen & Discuss Thu, 02 Oct 2014 05:29:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pension call Thu, 02 Oct 2014 05:29:46 +0000 The former Chairman of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) is calling for urgent action to help elderly Barbadians who are anxiously awaiting their pensions, suggesting that no effort should be spared to ensure they get their money.

Independent Senator Tony Marshall told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that because of the seriousness of the situation, “the greatest” effort was required.

Yesterday, the NIS announced that the delivery of all benefits, including pensions would be delayed because of a hardware malfunction that had severely affected the department’s computer network.

Former NIS chairman Senator Tony Marshall.

Former NIS chairman Senator Tony Marshall.

“Given the reason for the situation is stated as a hardware issue, one would have thought that the technical personnel in NIS would have been in touch with technical people elsewhere, who support the [information technology] platform, with a view to resolving the matter by telephone,” argued Marshall.

He said in the event that was not possible, “then my previous experience in the corporate world would suggest arrangements should be made with the greatest urgency to have the piece of hardware flown into this country”.

“When one considers the matter, given the thousands of persons likely to be affected and the backlog likely to be created, the matter becomes one of the greatest urgency,” Marshall added.

He argued that the information technology department at the NIS was staffed with enough competent and dedicated people whom he expected would do what was right.

Marshall’s comments came as 90-year-old pensioner Muriel Lowe made an appeal on behalf of others who would suffer as a result of not getting their pension cheques on time.

The former School Meals Department worker, who currently receives two pensions, said she could depend on her savings to get by.

However, she expressed concern for those elderly individuals who were not in a similar position.

“Try and get the people money to the people; try and pay the people because they need the money,” the King Edward Road, Bank Hall, St Michael resident appealed to the NIS.

She further suggested that the NIS return to issuing cheques manually, for the time being.

“Go back to writing with your hand. From the time you find the computer is not working, do that . . . God give you hands, use them and [everybody] wouldn’t get them pension early but they would still be satisfied,” Lowe said.

Several efforts to reach the director of the NIS Ian Carrington and the department’s corporation communications officer Derek Lowe were unsuccessful.

However, in a statement issued by the Government Information Service this evening, Carrington said the team at the NIS was working hard to rectify the issue and “we are hopeful that if everything goes well this weekend” pension cheques would be in the post by next Friday.

He explained that the hardware malfunction stemmed from the failure of a backup power supply for the production servers in the department.

“That [power] supply is a unique piece of equipment that has to be manufactured to fit that specific number of servers. We have been able to get the supplier to configure for us the power supply and, as of today, I can advise you that it is in Atlanta, to arrive in Barbados by this weekend,” he said.

Carrington said he empathised with members of the public, noting that employees at the NIS and their families were also affected.

“My mother and father are pensioners; most of the staff members at NIS have some relatives who are pensioners. Traditionally, we deliver [pensions] at least a week early. In this situation we are going to be a few days late and we are doing our very best to have the problem solved in the shortest possible time,” he said.,

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BARP: Have mercy on us! Thu, 02 Oct 2014 04:40:50 +0000 The president of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) is pleading with utility companies and other service providers to give pensioners a break if they can’t pay              on time.

President Ed Bushell today appealed to companies not to cut off services if pensioners are forced to default, with their cheques from the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) delayed.

President of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons Ed Bushell.

President of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons     Ed Bushell.

“I hope the service providers such as the Barbados Water Authority and Barbados Light & Power Company would take this situation into consideration when these pensioners skip a payment. I hope they work with them through the situation. I don’t know how long it will last,” the BARP head said.

He told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that pensioners have been calling into BARP’s office complaining they were not in a position to buy food.

Bushell said he had been trying to reach officials at the NIS on the matter, but up to today had no success.

BARP represents about 42,000 members, many of whom are retired.

Asked if his association was putting any interim measures in place to assist those who depend on their weekly or monthly pensions to survive for a living, Bushell replied: “Morally, yes, but if you mean financially . . . something tangible, no.”

Meanwhile, a senior BARP official told this newspaper that while some may be able to hold on for at least a week, the weekly paid pensioners – and those who live from cheque to cheque – would be more challenged to do so.

He believes the NIS should introduce some short-term measure by which the thousands of affected pensioners could be paid.

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COME CLEAN Thu, 02 Oct 2014 04:33:26 +0000 As education officials put systems in place to hold classes at the Grazettes Primary School at an alternative location next Monday, the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) is still waiting for some answers.

President Pedro Shepherd told Barbados TODAY there are still questions about what chemicals were used in the fogging exercise that caused the lingering odour that has disrupted school since the beginning of the term.

Following a 90-minute meeting with Grazettes Primary teachers and ancillary workers at the Ministry of Education this afternoon, Deputy Chief Education Officer Karen Best said the students and staff would be temporarily relocated.

She did not disclose the locations, however.

“We have identified two places and we are awaiting word . . . Based on the information which has been given to us by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour we should be able to use the school within the next three weeks,” Shepherd told the media.

“We have already carried out the industrial cleaning but there are still some pockets in the school where the odour has been trapped. We are putting all systems in place to have the school relocated on Monday, October 6. The Ministry of Education should get confirmation for the accommodation by tomorrow morning.”

Best acknowledged that the persistent odour from fogging done at the Grazettes, St Michael school before the start of the new school year had made teachers uncomfortable and some even had to take sick leave.

She said a meeting for parents of the Grazettes Primary School students would be held tomorrow at 5 pm to discuss the issue.

The BUT president commended the ministry for its preparations for the new term, saying it had “done everything within its power to have the school ready” and it was only the fogging that had caused the disruption.

But he has called on officials at the Ministry of Health to come clean on what exactly has caused the problem.

“I am told that the fogging staff of the Ministry of Health used about four or five chemicals mixed together, but they are only identifying one chemical – malathion. All they are saying is that they used malathion, which is an insecticide . . . Today, nobody wants to say what other chemical other than malathion was used in the fogging,” he told Barbados TODAY.

“I would like the Ministry of Health to say to the people who are affected what chemicals were used. It cannot be only malathion because farmers use the chemical everyday and some householders use it around their houses,” Shepherd argued.

The BUT head disclosed that the odour was concentrated in the principal’s office as well as the nursery and reception rooms.

“My opinion is that the chemicals used seeped into the furniture,” Shepherd said.

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Greater taste to Food & Wine And Rum 5 Thu, 02 Oct 2014 03:53:45 +0000 The fifth annual Barbados Food &Wine And Rum Festival will be “bigger and better” this year.

The international gourmet event boasts the ultimate Caribbean fare that offers Barbadians and visitors alike the opportunity to indulge in and experience world-class culinary offerings at many venues islandwide.

This year’s event will also feature new and exciting venues and first-time chefs: Tyler Florence and Stephanie Izard out of the United States; Ed Baines from Britain; and Trinidadian-born Roger Mooking, who is based in Canada.

Some of the chefs preparing meals at the Food & Wine launch.

Some of the chefs preparing meals at the Food & Wine launch.

Speaking at yesterday evening’s media launch for the festival at the Hilton hotel, Faye Warton-Parris of Premier Event Services told Barbadians they could expect a fantastic time this year.

“The culinary event of the Caribbean will bring together the very best of food, wine, rum and culture. Many of the world’s greatest chefs, wine and rum experts will join with the island’s best culinary artists to share their talents and to create what is guaranteed to be an unforgettable and rewarding culinary experience,” Warton-Parris said.

Acting chief executive officer of the Barbados Tourism Authourity, Petra Roach, sees the festival as a time to celebrate the talent that’s on the island where culinary arts are concerned.

Acting Barbados Tourism Authority CEO Petra Roach (right) with Dawne Williams at the launch of the Food & Wine And Rum Festival.

Acting Barbados Tourism Authority CEO Petra Roach (right) with Dawne Williams at the launch of the Food & Wine And Rum Festival.

“This event started five years ago, and it has grown massively over the years; and I think that when people sit down and talk about [Barbados] as a destination, with tourism as its major foreign exchange earner, . . . we need to think about what can we do to differentiate ourselves.

“We’ve got sun, sand and sea; but there are loads of other destinations that have got the same propositions. So we really want to focus on creating things that differentiate us; and I think against the backdrop of the amazing culinary scene that we have here in Barbados, it is just a natural evolution that we have a culinary event.

“So now in its fifth year you can see where it has now grown to include things like the trails, the restaurants including their own special specials for the Food &Wine And Rum. The whole of Barbados and the hotel industry are coming together to really make this into a fantastic event that we can offer to our customers. We are very appreciative of all the sponsors,” Roach said.

She added that Barbadians could expect the event to grow tremendously over the next couple of years.

“We really are building on those very authentic elements of Barbados and juxtaposing it with all the international exposure that comes with people like Marcus [Samuelsson of the United States] who has an amazing following. And again we have decided that there will be a UK chef . . . . We will continue to expand on it on a yearly basis, and we hope that you can also be proud of the fact that we are then exposed to a massive audience throughout the world who recognize that Barbados has one of the most excellent offerings in terms of restaurants and in terms of the food we offer,” Roach added.

The festival this year will run from November 20 to 23, and some of the events include the return of A Night Out In Oistins, where guests will be able to mingle with international chefs and experience local flavour of the fishing village; Sizzle Street, which will be held at the historic Garrison Savannah; Ambrosia V and the traditional family event Sunday Bajan Fiesta, which will be hosted at Ilaro Court; Indulgence The Cruise, which sets sails on the Excellence II; and cooking demonstrations, along with rum and wine tastings.

Patron Chef Samuelsson will be back for the fifth time, and joined by fellow the seasoned American Anne Burrell, who is now making her third appearance at the festival.

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NIS boss: Money not the issue Thu, 02 Oct 2014 03:39:18 +0000 The director of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) Ian Carrington today insisted that it was not a cash flow problem that has prevented pensioners and other Barbadians expecting benefits from getting their usual cheques.

In a statement issued by the Government Information Service late this evening, he addressed rumours of money problems at the NIS, saying that the latest actuary review showed there were no such challenges.

“That review essentially indicates that at our current level of reserves, the funds will be depleted somewhere between 2045 and 2056, and as of August 2014, the National Insurance Fund has reserves of $4.2 billion,” Carrington said.

“As it stands today, the contributions we are receiving are sufficient to meet the benefit payments.”


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Agriculturalist Keith Laurie passes away Thu, 02 Oct 2014 03:20:59 +0000 The agriculture sector has lost one of its champions.

That was the reaction of chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul to the death of well-known agriculturalist Keith Laurie this afternoon.

Keith Laurie

Keith Laurie

Laurie’s death came a month after he was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancers. He was 81.

His eldest daughter, Keithlan told Barbados TODAY he died at around 1:40 p.m. today.

“He passed away peacefully at home in bed with his family at hand and, thankfully, he did not suffer,” she said.

Laurie was a former president of the BAS and Sheep Farmers’ Association and also served as Barbados’ Honorary Consul for Haiti.

Paul, who knew him for about 17 years, was shocked when he heard the news, saying that he had spoken to the family just this morning.

“He was obviously one of those persons who was clearly outspoken and who had always defended the cause of the sector and strove to ensure that whatever was best for the sector, was done. He lived with passion for it,” the CEO said.

“He was always one of the persons who would encourage those around him to do the same and he was a true leader in that respect. For a long time he trumpeted the virtues of the Barbados blackbelly sheep even when others weren’t prepared to go in that direction, so he was an innovator; he looked for opportunities. He was a true Barbadian in that he tried to do the best for Barbados and to push it in the direction that he felt it should go.”

Laurie leaves to mourn his wife, Marina, and four children – Keithlan, Rae, Veronica and Andrew.

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Tough tour Thu, 02 Oct 2014 03:19:39 +0000 West Indies have arrived in India for what should be a tough international series of One-Day Internationals and Tests.

And manager Sir Richie Richardson has promised a much better showing than the hurriedly arranged, ill-fated two-tests series that facilitated Sachin Tendulkar’s home retirement and which West Indies lost miserably last year. Sir Richie told reporters at a media conference today that he hoped their additional training camp ahead of the series would help them turn around their recent fortunes against the Indians.

“We have arrived a good time [in advance],” Richardson said. “We have a few days to practise and get acclimatised. All of our players have been engaged. We have just come out of a successful series against Bangladesh and all of our players have been involved with cricket. Some are still playing [in the CLT20]. We feel we are in much better shape, much better prepared to take on the Indians and we are just looking forward to a very serious challenge, a good challenge and a successful challenge.”

Richardson also acknowledged it would be a huge task for West Indies with the Indian team desperate to get back to winning ways after a poor Test series in England.

“When you lose, especially when you are a top team and you lose, you just can’t wait until the next series to really put things right,” he said. “I just hope that it continues to be a problem for India. We know they are going to look to avenge what happened in England. Put things right, because they were heavily criticised. But we are up for the challenge and we also have a lot to prove. So we are going to go there and play positive cricket and look to beat India.”

Over the past three years, India and West Indies have become the most familiar of opponents. Since India’s tour to the West Indies in June-July 2011, the two teams have played each other in eight Tests and 16 ODIs.

After playing three Tests and five ODIs in India in the winter of 2011, West Indies returned for two Tests and three ODIs last year as part of an arrangement to bid farewell to Tendulkar in Mumbai. Over the next seven weeks, the two teams will again be pitted against each other in five ODIs, a Twenty20 and three Tests, starting with the first ODI next week Wednesday.

West Indies interim coach Stuart Williams didn’t think the amount of cricket between the two countries had resulted in waning interest. Instead, he felt the series against India gave West Indies an opportunity to challenge themselves against a high-ranking team.

 “The calendar is set up as such that once you get the opportunity to play international cricket, we look forward to it. India obviously is a high-ranked team and West Indies is hovering in the seventh or eighth position. We look forward to playing India or anybody else. Whichever challenge we get, we are looking forward to that.”

West Indies will be without Chris Gayle for the ODI series since he is recovering from a lower-back injury. However, Williams said the opening combination wouldn’t be too much of a problem with Dwayne Smith and Lendl Simmons around. “Those guys having played here in the Champions League, they are very familiar with the conditions as well.”

Meanwhile today the West Indies’ principal spin weapon Sunil Narine got a vote of confidence from the coach of his Indian Premier League franchise team Kolkata Knight Riders, Trevor Bayliss.

Narine was cited for a suspect action when bowling his faster delivery and Bayliss said if any bad habit had crept into Narine’s action, he was sure that it would be easily ironed out. He expressed surprise however at question marks being raised over the ace spinner.

“Nothing has been said over the last three years since he has been with KKR. So, it’s a bit of a surprise but Sunil is a character. He is confident that it might be a problem in technique, something he can go on and work on,” he said.

Bayliss said Narine had a long career ahead of him.

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Souls’ll be saved but many lost Thu, 02 Oct 2014 02:53:14 +0000  Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Erwin Boyce has come in for some public criticism and a bit of ridicule for suggestions at a recent meeting of the Men’s Educational Support Association that inmates at Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds be made to pay a sort of residency fee.

The criticisms reached crescendo when he went further by recommending that if prisoners were unable to pay the fee their families should be made to. The ideas from the senior cop came following a visit to the United States where he indicated they were having some success with a similar strategy. The policy, it appeared, was another aimed at taking away any “attractiveness” which prison life might have for recidivists.

Mr Boyce did not go into much detail as to the legal framework that guided such a policy in the United States, nor did he deal with specifics as they relate to the actual regulation of the policy which he observed. We will not join in any ridicule of the gazetted officer as new ideas, or even borrowed ideas, should be explored dispassionately and viewed with a purpose of seeing what benefits can be accrued from them.

Of course, there will be times when ideas will be outlandish, but still one can only arrive at that opinion, having taken the time at least to give the idea some thought. The idea of having prisoners pay a boarding fee, or as some have facetiously labelled, “rent”, is perhaps not as outlandish as it may seem at first glance.

We are told that inmates can make a pittance for supervised jobs done on and off the prison site. We are also told that in many instances when prisoners leave the facility they do not leave empty-handed but with a small sum or grant to assist with their re-entry into the society.

If Mr Boyce is suggesting that prisoners be made to pay a small fee, not so much as a residency fee, but one more designed to create a feeling of responsibility for their own upkeep, then his suggestion is worth debating. If that pittance is made as a result of much productivity, perhaps it can occasion not only an appreciation for hard work, but when it is docked, an understanding of what can be lost because of incarceration or criminality.

Of course, the status of being a prisoner would dictate that any such “rent” could only be sourced as a result of whatever leeway the authoritites allow inmates.

However, Mr Boyce will find that he will be butting his head against the proverbial brick wall, if in essence he is seeking to make law-abiding citizens pay for the sins of their kin. It would take a rather brave Government, or a set of politicians bent on self-destruction, to even attempt to bring legislation to the Barbados Parliament to make average citizens carry any financial burden for the criminal sins of their adult relatives.

We are not aware of what Mr Boyce specifically saw in the United States. But the logic of an adult Barbadian paying any sort of fee to keep his adult brother, sister, nephew, niece, son or daughter behind bars is totally elusive. Barbadians already pay something called taxes.

Our laws currently place a responsibility on parents for the upkeep and protection of their children under the age of 16. They must send them to school; they cannot, or should not, evict them into the streets to wander, or otherwise expose themselves to danger. But it is pertinent to note that when juveniles commit crime and are subject to incarceration at a juvenile facility, that the state does not punish or place any burden of responsibility on parents to contribute to the costs of their imprisonment.

Additionally, it would be quite interesting to determine what punishment would be meted out to parents or guardians who refused to pay or simply did not have the financial wherewithal to make such a payment for their kin. No, Mr Boyce, that particular proposal does appear somewhat outlandish.

With respect to the residency fee, though we accept that it could be the subject of enlightened discussion, we believe that while a $3 daily fee might seem minuscule within the economic scale of the United States, that “huge” amount would cause some difficulty within the Barbadian context.

Every effort must be made to tackle the issue of recidivism. Repeat offenders place a financial burden on the country and they also undermine our human resources. It is appreciated that many Barbadians spend too many of their productive years behind bars. It is a trend that must be tackled at all levels, but must be dealt with sensibly and within the context of lawful reasonableness.

It must also be accepted that there are some souls that we will never be able to save. We cannot therefore punish those who ensure that they protect their own souls.

]]> 0 Escaped convict tricks police with false name Thu, 02 Oct 2014 02:31:02 +0000 CASTRIES – One of two men who escaped the Richfond Police Station lockup in Dennery over the weekend had given the police a wrong name.

Police Information Officer Aniel Innocent said Kevin Alphonse was the name given but further investigations revealed that the escapee’s real name is Davidson Alfred.

“He gave the wrong name to the police. He is 27 and has had previous convictions,” Innocent said.

Davidson Alfred

Davidson Alfred

Alfred is still on the run after he, along with McQuard Alexander, 32, also known as C Code, of La Caye, Dennery escaped lawful custody between 10:30 and 11:45  a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27.

Alexander was recaptured at about 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 28 at the junction of La Caye, Dennery. The hunt is now on for Alfred who is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, slim built, has brown eyes and carries his hair in dreads.

Police said his dreads are about 24 inches long and he’s believed to be from Deniere Riviere, Dennery.

“Persons are asked to be extremely cautious when approaching the suspect. You are advised to call the police upon sighting him,” police said.

Alexander was recently remanded for possession of two rounds of ammunition and is a suspect in a recent shooting incident, while Alfred was remanded for breaking into a house.

At the time of the escape, the prisoners were on commitment warrants and were to be transferred to the Bordelais Correctional Facility, police said.

]]> 1 Twin bombings kill 32 Thu, 02 Oct 2014 02:18:40 +0000 DAMASCUS — Twin bombings near an elementary school in Syria killed at least 32 people today, including at least ten children, with the second blast going off as screaming parents frantically searched for their sons and daughters in a street littered with school bags and body parts.

Syrian children are frequently among the victims of attacks in the country’s civil war, but today they appear to have been the target. The first vehicle exploded as children were leaving school, and the second struck as adults carried away bodies, sending a new wave of panic through the crowd.

The attack occurred outside the Ekremah al-Makhzoumi elementary school in a government-controlled area of the central city of Homs dominated by minority Alawites, the Shiite offshoot sect to which President Bashar Assad’s family belongs. It was one of the deadliest incidents in the area in months.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian citizens check the damaged school entrance in Akrama neighbourhood  in Homs province, Syria today.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian citizens check the damaged school entrance in Akrama neighbourhood in Homs province, Syria today.

The SANA state news agency said at least 32 people were killed and 115 wounded in the attacks. A local official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, said immediately after the bombings that at least ten of the dead were children.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll in the twin attacks at 39, including 30 children under the age of 12. It said the second blast was caused by a suicide bomber.

The discrepancy in the casualty figures could not be immediately reconciled, but tolls frequently differ in the chaotic aftermath of attacks.

In footage of the bombings posted on a pro-government Facebook page, one man shouts “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Take him to the hospital!” as another man appears to drag away a child by his arms. Two little girls and a boy scream and cry as they are carried away.

Other people rush about, narrowly avoiding a child’s severed head lying on the pavement. Smoke billows from a burning vehicle. As one boy tugs on a man’s hand another blast goes off. A young girl covers her ears as others scream and run away. “Oh God! Oh God!” one man hoarsely shouts.

The video appeared genuine and was consistent with Associated Press reporting of events.

Homs Governor Talal Barazi described the blasts as a “terrorist act and a desperate attempt that targeted school children”.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for today’s attack, but Syrian rebels fighting to oust Assad have carried out numerous bombings in government-held areas of Homs.

All sides have carried out horrific attacks on civilians during the conflict –– now in its fourth year –– but rarely have children appeared to be the direct target.

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