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Nevis DMD grateful for US $28,000 in supplies from US Southern Command

A portion of the US $28,000 worth of supplies donated to the Nevis Disaster Management Department.

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis — The Nevis Disaster Management Department (NDMD) recently received a donation of supplies valued at US $28,000 as humanitarian aid from its long-standing partners United States Southern Command (US SOUTHCOM) through the Minimal Cost Project (MPC) at the US Embassy in Barbados.

Brian Dyer, NDMD Director expressed gratitude on behalf of the department for the supplies.
Continue reading Nevis DMD grateful for US $28,000 in supplies from US Southern Command

Jamaica, ILO sign grant agreement to support formalization in agriculture, fisheries

KINGSTON, Jamaica — A landmark partnership to help informal operators in the agriculture and fisheries sectors transition to formal standards of labour has been launched by Jamaica’s Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Honourable Audley Shaw, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, signatory to the ILO grant agreement, attended the virtual event on February 4. Other high-level participants included the Honourable Floyd Green, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries; the Honourable Dr. Norman Dunn, Minister of State in the MIIC; and Ms. Valerie Vieira, Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC). Ms. Michelle Parkins, Chief Technical Director at the MIIC, moderated the event.

“It is estimated that approximately 43 percent of the Jamaican economy operates informally,” said Minister Shaw. “The challenge of addressing informality is more severe for workers in the agricultural sector and especially for those in the fisheries subsector. This project will ensure that our farmers and fisherfolks are given the assistance, training and guidance that are required to take them along the path to formality. We want them to understand that agriculture is a business and should be treated as such.”

“The project will see 100 farmers and fisherfolks, who are registered with The Rural Agricultural Development Authority or the National Fisheries Authority, formalize their operations,” said Minister Green. “We know their reality – they operate in this informal space and as such, they are unable to access the keys they need to unlock their true potential to truly modernize and grow our agricultural and fisheries sectors. They are unable to get financing, they are unable to access pension and investment facilities. We want to unlock that potential.”

”Implementation of the project will be led by the JBDC, an agency within the MIIC. My team is excited and ready to deliver. We have placed this project into a programme that we have labelled ‘Beyond Crops and Catch’, specifically to say we are about sustainability,” explained Ms. Vieira.

“We are looking at sustainability in terms of pension, health and investment because we really want to move that narrative and that mental fix away from saying that farming is not a business, so we are really looking at a fulsome engagement with participants.”

This grant agreement supports one of several components that have been agreed with national partners within the multi-dimensional development cooperation programme, approved by the ILO in 2020.

The 15-month ILO programme has as its overall aim, to improve the efficiency and capacity of workers in three target industries – household services, agriculture and fisheries – through various interventions. The ultimate goal is to provide tangible support for persons in these sectors, which will allow them to transform their livelihoods from subsistence activities to economically sustainable employment.

“The Jamaica Formalization Project will receive ILO financial and technical support to strengthen policies for income security, social protection and other incentives for formalization,” said Dennis Zulu, Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, during the virtual signing ceremony to initiate the collaboration. “It will also feature public awareness and sensitization campaigns to clarify the understanding of the advantages and procedures for businesses and workers to make the shift to the formal economy.”

In addition to ILO support for agricultural enterprise development, the other components will include development of training curriculum for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and certification linked to fishers’ occupations and needs.

The ILO is already advancing discussions with the Jamaica Household Workers’ Union/Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions and the Jamaica Employers Federation for relevant agreements to provide technical and financial support within the framework of the project. Support will also be provided for interventions of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security; and capacity building for social dialogue among national tripartite constituents, so that they can effectively review and revise relevant legislation for wages and benefits to workers in the target sectors.

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The long-distance couple staying connected over video games

For couples like Kiera Mason and Juan Bravo Jr, dating online is all they've ever known.

They're married, own a house, go on dates, buy each other outfits and, on occasion, team up to fight monsters — all in an online video game (of course). 

9News met with Melbournian Kiera and Juan, who hails from San Francisco, to find out how they manage to use gaming to maintain a long-distance relationship

Kiera and Juan have been together for 7 years and say playing video games together keeps them connected.

Pre-COVID, Kiera and Juan travelled to see each other in person at least once a year.

The couple still manage to go on weekly dates, meeting online in virtual cafes and restaurants, "People set up houses in Final Fantasy (XIV Online), and they'll set them up as cafes, or clubs or restaurants and sometimes we'll just go there to either hang out, or we'll find spots in the actual world…" Kiera told 9News. 

"It definitely gives us a way to connect. There's a lot of things to do… You don't even have to play the game." said Juan.

"We're just happily able to just hang out, just hang out with our characters there. So, That's what makes it kind of fun."

Even the experts agree, video games are a great way to keep the relationship alive, "'It beats the boring standard conversation of 'how was your day?'" says dating and relationship coach, Debbie Rivers, "Especially during COVID when people may not have anything interesting to come up with!", she told 9News. 

Debbie rates online dating highly and says she's had plenty of success with her clients, "I hear many people telling me they don't like online dating, however, if you want to go fishing you fish where the most fish are!"

Debbie's tip for couples who want to increase attraction with each other is to do a fun activity that gets your heart rate up – and video games can do just that, "It works because there is something called the misattribution of arousal where the brain mistakes an increased heart rate being the same as when you get 'excited".

Kiera and Juan met in an online gaming forum nearly a decade ago and spoke for a year before Kiera shared her feelings. Although it wasn't love at first sight for Juan, the 27-year-old was eventually convinced.

Kiera and Juan meet at least once a year and pin their long-distance success on video games.

Kiera and Juan say Final Fantasy is a little more personal for them as they can own a home together in game, "We're actually in, like, a house together in game, as well as our characters are actually married…" says Kiera, who added their character's anniversary is coming up in just a couple of week's time. 

"It's kind of something I haven't seen other MMOs do where they allow you to actually have like that connection with other people in the game."

Online dating seemingly melts away the distance barrier and makes Kiera feel more connected to Juan, "It's given us something to actually do! And in a way I feel like we are together even if we're not physically together." 

The couple get together a couple of times a week for online gaming and say communication is the key to making it work, "Personally, it's all about communication. Really… And, I mean, the will to make it work." said Kiera.

"You can't really make long-distance relationships work if you're not really interested in making it work." says Juan. 

Kiera and Juan have been playing Final Fantasy XIV for over three years.

"There's definitely a lot of effort that goes into it, and it's really easy to talk about how much effort you want to put into it, but it really shows when you want to make it happen with your actions."

Video game expert and reviewer Emily Dalton, aka Retro Gamer Girl, has told 9News she believes online gaming is a great way for couples to spend quality time together when apart. "There are a tonne of games that allow for you to spend time together, communicate, problem solve, raid or fight to victory." she said. 

Emily and her husband, Beau Dalton, aka Retro Gamer Guy, spend a lot of time gaming together at home, "From personal experience it's made us stronger as a couple. It's fantastic to share similar interests and play games together," says Emily. 

While Emily believes it's good to play it safe, she says it can't hurt meeting new people, "Chat to people, share your knowledge and most of all have fun online and you never know who you just might meet." 

Emily and Beau Dalton are keen video gamers and collectors.

Emily shared with 9News her list of online games best played together, "The world of online multiplayer games is huge and there is a variety to choose from."

"If you're into strategy or fantasy themes – Guild Wars, World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online have a huge player base to jump into." she said. 

Dalton's personal favourite is the Call of Duty series, "I've met a number of people that I still play online with today with some even becoming my closest friends." she told 9News.

Also on the list, Rockstar Games' Red Dead Online, "It's charming western setting is gorgeous to play & offers a ton of challenges you can do together. It has a large online player base so you'll always come across other players," Emily Dalton told 9News. 

"Rocket League is a great free to play game across all platforms so it is a great fun choice especially if you're competitive – and for a change of pace, Among Us is also a great game and it could really help you get to know someone!"

Well, there you have it.

It seems there's nothing more romantic in 2021 than fending off a hoard of zombies with your significant other this Valentine's Day.

To all those looking for love or seeking a way to spice up their long distance relationship… Just know you can always seek confidence in the online realm. 

Latecomers claw down Eagle Claws in thrilling National Domino Association tournament

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — In the most intense encounter in the eighth segment of play in the first round of the St. Kitts National Domino Association (SKNDA) tournament on Thursday, February 11, at the New Town Community Centre, Latecomers Domino Club overcame Eagle Claws Domino Club 26-22.

The Great Comeback: Kerell ‘Franks’ Dasent of Spartans Fig Tree Domino Club took no chances when his team came back from behind to thrash Poor Man Pocket Domino Club, 26-8.

For Latecomers, Norris Sharry and Robert Tyson won six games and lost two, while for Eagle Claws Ryan St. Marie and Kerone Roache won seven games and lost two.

Spartans Fig Tree Domino Club, which trailed in the early stages of their game against Poor Man Pocket Domino Club, made the quintessential comeback of the evening and handed Poor Man Pocket Domino Club a thrashing they will want to forget in quick time. Spartans earned a bonus point by winning the game 26-8.

For Spartans Fig Tree, Rameece ‘Rambo’ Belboda and Everton ‘Harris’ Boone won eight games and lost one, and Franks and Nady won four games, and lost three, while for Poor Man Pocket Allington ‘Leggy’ Berridge and Desmond ‘Fergie’ Rawlins won three games and lost one.

Terminal Boyz Domino Club, which suffered its first loss in the tournament on February 7, went all out to prove what happened was purely bad luck. They did it in style by dispensing a stern to King Balang Domino Club which they annihilated 26-4. The feat earned Terminal Boyz a bonus point.

Lodge Domino Club which lost by default on February 7, overcame their misfortune by beating Newcomers I Domino Club 26-16; Masters Domino Club beat Newcomers II Domino Club 26-12; while Los Fuertes del Domino handed Til Ah Marnin Domino Club a 26-16 beating.

The game between Eagle Claws Domino Club and King Balang Domino Club, which was postponed from February 7, was played on Wednesday February 10. Eagle Claws who had only won one game previously, earned their second win by beating King Balang 26-18.

In the meantime, SKNDA Vice President, Keithly Blanchette, advised players that games that would have taken place on February 14 will instead be held on Tuesday, February 16 from 6:00 p.m. The change gives the players time to be with their loved ones on Valentine’s Day.

Blanchette also informed the teams that at the present rate of playing on two days in a week, SKNDA will be late in submitting names to Antigua and Barbuda of players from St. Kitts who will participate in the World Council of Domino Federation championships. He proposed that for the second round that they hold the games on three days in a week – Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

Points standing after eight segments of play: Terminal Boyz, 37 points; Masters, 35 points; Poor Man Pocket, 27 points; Newcomers I, 27 points; Los Fuertes del Domino, 26 points: Latecomers, 25 points; Til Ah Marnin, 21 points; Lodge, 20 points; Spartans Fig Tree, 11 points; Eagle Claws, 10 points; Newcomers II, 5 points; and King Balang, 5 points.

The competition will continue on Tuesday, February 16, at the New Town Community Centre starting at 6:00 p.m. with teams meeting in the ninth segment of play in the first round.

Order of play: Newcomers I will face Terminal Boyz, Eagles Claws will come up against Poor Man Pocket, Spartans Fig Tree vs. Lodge, Latecomers vs. Til Ah Marnin, Los Fuertes del Domino will battle it out with Newcomers II, and Masters vs. King Balang.

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What to watch as Trump's lawyers deliver impeachment defence

Donald Trump's lawyers have a simple objective as they open their defence at the former president's impeachment trial: Don't lose any Republican votes.

Most Senate Republicans have indicated that they will vote to acquit Trump on the House charge of incitement of insurrection. They argue that the trial is unconstitutional and that Trump didn't incite supporters to lay siege on the US Capitol on Jan. 6 when he told them to "fight like hell" against the certification of President Joe Biden's victory. If Republicans hold the line, Democrats will fall well short of the two-thirds of the Senate needed for conviction.

READ MORE: How Donald Trump's second impeachment will work

Trump's two top lawyers, Bruce Castor and David Schoen, risked losing one Republican vote on Tuesday after Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy said they did a "terrible" job arguing that the trial is unconstitutional. Cassidy, who had voted with his party two weeks prior to stop the trial, switched his vote to side with Democrats.

Including Cassidy, six Republicans sided with Democrats on that vote that the trial is constitutional — far from the minimum of 17 Republican votes that would be needed to convict.

Here's what to watch for on Friday as the defence opens arguments in Trump's historic second impeachment:

THE ARGUMENTS

Trump's lawyers plan to argue their client's innocence on multiple fronts. Their main arguments include that the trial is unconstitutional, that the insurrectionists who broke into the Capitol did so on their own accord and that Trump's rhetoric to supporters was common political speech protected under the First Amendment.

Hoping that brevity will appeal to their restless Senate audience, the lawyers are expected to keep their arguments short. A Trump adviser said Thursday that they are expected to wrap up their defence in less than a day.

From left, David Schoen, Bruce Castor and Michael van der Veen, lawyers for former President Donald Trump, arrive at the Capitol on the third day of the second impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, in Washington

Like the House prosecutors, Trump's lawyers have up to 16 hours over two days to plead their case. Once the defence's presentation is finished, senators will have time to submit written questions to both sides.

PARTISAN ANGER

Taking a cue from their client, Trump's lawyers have injected searing criticism of Democrats into their arguments, hoping to convince not only GOP senators but also viewers of the trial around the country that Trump's second impeachment is fueled by "hatred" of the former president. They are expected to continue with that strategy on Friday, calling out Democrats they say similarly incited violence in cities around the country.

Schoen told reporters in the Capitol on Thursday that Democrats' recounting of the riots on Wednesday — almost 90 minutes of brutal footage that saw the rioters injuring law enforcement and calling for the death of the vice president and the speaker of the House — was "offensive."

He said he believed Democrats were effectively making the public relive the tragedy in a way that "tears at the American people" and impedes efforts at unity.

CASTOR'S CLEANUP

All eyes will be on Castor, who delivered a rambling argument on Tuesday that Republican senators criticised as perplexing, "disorganised" and "random." Trump, too, was furious over the performance of his defence team as he watched the proceedings from his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, according to a person familiar with his thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a private conversation.

On Friday, Castor will get a second chance. After the Democrats' video presentation on Wednesday, he said the images "would have an emotional impact on any jury, but there are two sides of the coin and we haven't played ours."

At least one key senator had advice for the lawyers on Thursday.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican who has been harshly critical of Trump's role in the riots, said she hopes Trump's lawyers will be "as specific as the House managers were — who went through the evidence, provided legal arguments and gave a very thorough presentation."

Demand High for Caribbean Properties

Buyers who act soon may find that their secondary homes in the Caribbean prove to be good investments

PhotoTalk / Getty Images

With the northern hemisphere in the middle of winter and many regions still under pandemic lockdowns, wealthy buyers are more motivated than ever to invest in the Caribbean and other island getaways.

Many of the same islands where these investors vacation have managed to keep Covid-19 transmissions rates low, by locking down early and instituting strict travel restrictions. Now, with offices and schools still operating remotely in many cities, demand is growing from high-net-worth buyers ready to commit to secondary homes in countries with warm climates where life has largely returned to normal.

“We’ve found that because these international high-net-worth individuals were in lockdown, they took the opportunity to look at real estate, and it piqued their interest when they saw Bermuda was managing its numbers,” said Penny MacIntyre of Rego Sotheby’s International Realty in Bermuda. “The WHO [World Health Organization] validated Bermuda as one of the safest places in the world, and they saw it was affording a lifestyle where they could move around and dine in restaurants.”

For many already familiar with such island destinations, that sense of safety has persuaded them to look into second- or third-home purchases. With activity already heightened and pent-up demand building among buyers who cannot travel, getting into the market now—even if that means buying sight unseen—could mean beating the added competition when travel restrictions ease in the future.

“We’ve seen an uptick in purchases since the pandemic, from people looking for an escape from big cities,” said Neal Sroka, founder of Sroka Worldwide, a consulting firm for high-end international real estate. “They do buy without visiting, provided they know the product, so it’s much easier to sell on a branded hotel basis rather than individual homes.”

Some island destinations have seized upon this moment by offering easy pathways to citizenship for investors, or special permits for those working remotely. Bermuda, for instance, has a “digital nomad visa,” a one-year residential certificate for those who want to live in the country while working remotely in another. Barbados recently began offering a similar program, as has the Cayman Islands, drawing a new wave of buyers.

And in St. Kitts and Nevis, a citizenship-by-investment scheme confers citizenship to buyers who make a real estate purchase of $400,000 or more. This has enticed many American buyers, who can use a St. Kitts and Nevis passport as a back door to Europe.

At the ultra-luxury end of the market, brokers for private islands are reporting a flood of inquiries from investors, although transactions remain low.

“The interest is definitely there to find places in isolation but the purchase of these islands is usually delayed until the pandemic is over,” said Farhad Vladi of Vladi Private Islands, which lists islands for sale and rent in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and around the globe. “There is very little activity on the island market at the moment.”

But those with the knowledge and means to make a purchase now have an edge, as other would-be buyers less familiar with these locations are itching to make a move the moment travel restrictions are loosened.

“We’re seeing a lot of curiosity from people imagining a different kind of life,” said KC Hardin, co-founder of real estate development company Conservatorio in Panama. “People are starting to book trips, with the mindset of, ‘As soon as I get the vaccine, I’m getting out of here.’”

Demand for Island Properties

For many high-end real estate investors, the pandemic has changed their priorities and encouraged them to reconsider their lifestyles.

“If you have the means, owning a second or third home became more of a necessity out of Covid,” Mr. Sroka said. “Now people do believe they need the ability to go somewhere they feel that they’re relatively safe.”

Such buyers typically have vacationed in island destinations in the past and are now committing to longer-term investments. Some are taking advantage of programs like Barbados’ Welcome Stamp visa, a 12-month residency permit for those working for overseas employers, while pursuing permanent residency. This program has already lured nearly 2,000 visa applicants, according to the island’s tourism board.

These schemes, coupled with the familiarity of branded residences, has convinced some to make investments even as travel restrictions prevent them from seeing properties in person.

“A number of people are making offers sight unseen,” said Eric Johnson, sales director at the Four Seasons Nevis. “They’re familiar with Nevis and have seen the homes they’re purchasing. With a branded residence, there’s a lot more confidence, because you know the ownership of the hotel and the strength of the brand.”

Some buyers, on the other hand, are seeking more privacy and individuality from their island purchase, and are willing to invest from overseas.

“We had three circumstances of properties bought sight unseen, and two were standalone homes,” said Buddy Rego of Rego Sotheby’s International Realty in Bermuda. “These are buyers who want to have control of an asset and lots of space. They want to customize the home themselves.”

On the Cayman Islands, brokers are reporting an increase in inquiries, a result of pent-up demand from earlier in the pandemic and the island’s efficient handling of the crisis. Life is essentially back to normal after a strict lockdown in the spring of 2020, but travel restrictions remain in place. Still, this hasn’t stopped overseas investors.

“We had an increase in demand last year, especially at the higher end of the market,” said Jonathan Sparrow of Cayman Islands Sotheby’s International Realty. “Our biggest sale was a modern house on the beach, which was sold for US$5 million without the buyer stepping foot in the house.”

In fact, the Caymans saw a 4.3% increase in total sales volume in 2020, with the value of the average transaction increasing by over 26% compared to 2019. Turks and Caicos experienced an increase in sales activity in its luxury condo sector in 2020, while St. Kitts and Nevis got a bump in luxury sales thanks to the Four Seasons villa collection closing a number of transactions last year.

What Buyers Need to Know

Buyers who act soon may find that their secondary homes in the Caribbean prove to be good investments, once tourism starts up again.

“As a pure investment, the numbers are very attractive, because most of these properties can end up in a rental pool,” Mr. Sroka said. “Based on what we’re seeing because of demand, those numbers could end up really high.”

But given the uncertainty of when these island nations will reopen, Mr. Sroka advised that buyers should be motivated primarily by the desire to enhance their lifestyle and invest in properties they will actually use.

Those with an eye on investment should educate themselves on the economic conditions of their preferred destinations, in addition to their rental prospects. Travel can be disrupted, so buyers may want to seek out island destinations that aren’t as heavily dependent on tourism dollars.

More: Buyers in Hot Markets May Want to Move Quickly Before Competition Increases in the New Year

“The biggest difference between Cayman and other islands is that we don’t have a sole reliance on tourism,” Mr. Sparrow said. “We are a financial center, and trillions of dollars flow through related to the hedge-fund industry.”

Other factors they should consider is the ease of travel to these destinations—whether there are direct flights, for instance, and proximity of their investment property to airports. For those planning to work remotely from the Caribbean, look into the island’s broadband coverage, and consider the weather, as some regions are more impacted by hurricane season than others.

“People who are looking should consider whether they want to be in a branded residence or a townhome, and how often they’re going to be here,” Ms. McIntyre said. “Definitely work with an agent who can help identify options and the parts of the island that would suit them best.”

Be prepared, too, for competition, and potentially to jump through specific hoops when making a purchase as a foreigner.

In St. Kitts and Nevis, for instance, “Most transactions are all cash, and there is a vetting process [for foreign buyers],” Mr. Johnson said. “But once you go through that, you’ll be able to close on a transaction very quickly.”

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