Isis’ Latest Caribbean Attack

June 23, 2015

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The Isis support message posted to the JIS site. (Jamaica Observer image)

News Americas, KINGSTON, Jamaica, Weds. June 24, 2015: A second Caribbean nation has come under attack from supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Isis as it’s more popularly known.

Jamaica’s Houses of Parliament, the Jamaica Information Service and the Jamaica National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) were among six sites in Jamaica hacked by Isis supporters Monday night.

The Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, and GC Foster College as well as the Social Development Commission (SDC) were also hacked.

Visitors were greeted with an Isis propaganda message left by hackers who claimed themselves as “Team System Dz,” according to the Jamaica Observer.

Jamaica is the second Caribbean nation to suffer an attack from Isis hackers in weeks. Last month, ISIL’s supporters hacked the official website of St. Vincent and Grenadines and changed the front page into a picture of a man firing a machine gun from the back of a pick-up truck.

Below the photo was a message in which the hackers accused the United States and NATO forces of being involved in “organized butchery” of the human race.

“They overthrow governments of sovereign nations and they undermine, threaten, refuse to recognize and seek to destroy democratically elected governments like they are in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Palestine,” the message stated. “They support dictators as long as they are fulfilling US, EU & NATO interest in the region like they did in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. You speak of freedom of speech and freedom of expression but you remain silent in the face of a people desire to seek freedom to exist – unless those people are Israeli Zionists! Hypocrisy of this magnitude will bring the chickens home to roost and not peace and security as is your mantra!”  In that case, the hackers called themselves “Moroccan Wolf — Islamic State.”

The Jamaica Information Service (JIS) site was, however, back up and running yesterday.

A statement yesterday said the cyber security teams from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Technology Ministry were assisting the JIS web team into the hack attack but preliminary findings reveal that the “hactivists” did not access to sensitive information but was constrained to “surface defacement.”

The attacks come months after Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, chief of the US Southern Command said 100 would-be militants have already left s Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and Venezuela to fight with Islamic State extremists in Syria – and could potentially get across the US border when they return home.

In remarks made in March before the Senate Armed Services Committee in advance of the committee’s review of the Defense Authorization request for fiscal year 2016, Kelly described the effects that a return of sequestration would have on his command.

“In Latin American, in Southern Command [sequestration] will be, simply put, a catastrophe. It will essentially put me out of business,” Kelly told the panel.

 

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A US$200,000 Plus Caribbean Retreat

June 23, 2015

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Bill Clinton seen in this Instagram photo in Punta Cana, DR. (Instagram Image)

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. June 24, 2015: How would you like to go on an all expense paid US$200,000 trip?

If you were Bill and Hillary Clintons’ security detail you could! Simply let the U.S. taxpayers pick up the tab!

According to The Weekly Standard, the former First couple’s vacation in the Dominican Republic around New Year’s at the exclusive resorts, Punta Cana and the Casa de Campo cost U.S. taxpayers over US$200,000.

And that’s just for the security detail’s lodging and vehicles. Food and salary was a totally different bill.

The Standard says the hotels rooms for Secret Service agents came in at a whopping $191,789 while vehicles rental came up to $19,520. That’s a whopping US$211,399!

 

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First Ever Haitian Kreyol Alphabet Songs Released

June 22, 2015

haiti-Kreyole_Alphabet

The ground breaking educational Kreyole Alphabet series have been created and made available online thanks to a collaboration between Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Linguistics Professor Michel DeGraff and recognized Kreyòl advocate Mandaly Louis-Charles. (PRNewsFoto/sweetcoconuts.blogspot.com)

 

News Americas, TARPON SPRINGS, FL, June 23, 2015: Get ready for the first ever Haitian Kreyòl alphabet songs on video.

The ground breaking educational series have been created and made available online thanks to a collaboration between Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Linguistics Professor Michel DeGraff and recognized Kreyòl advocate Mandaly Louis-Charles.

The videos’ creation holds both historical and political significance to the country of Haiti. Historically the primary language of school instruction has been French, despite most Haitians speaking only Kreyòl at home and in the community. Nearly 30 years after the language was made official, the newly created alphabet songs are intended for Haitian children to easily and joyfully learn their native language’s official alphabet.

“Imagine a new Haiti where everyone at long last can read and write their native language,” said DeGraff.

DeGraff leads the MIT-Haiti Initiative, a project that was created in response to the destruction of Haitian universities by the 2010 earthquake. The Initiative is using digital technology and open educational resources online, all in Kreyòl, in order to improve science, technology, engineering, and math education, as well as leadership and management in Haiti. The professor is also a founding member of Haiti’s recently created Haitian Creole Academy (Akademi Kreyòl Ayisyen) and a member of Haiti’s National Commission for Curricular Reform.

“This is specifically a Haitian song that is well anchored in Haitian culture and will resonate well with Haitian children to enhance their reading skills,” he added.

Louis-Charles created the song’s melody, vocals and harmonies. Bémol Telfort provided the musical accompaniment, playing the congas. DeGraff and Louis-Charles teamed up to create the lyrics and worked with Telfort and animator Robert Capria to produce the videos.

The song’s original video (“Chante Alfabè Kreyòl 1″) inspired a follow-up video (“Chante Alfabè Kreyòl 2″) illustrating the basic principles of the Kreyòl alphabet. Both videos are available for preview via Louis-Charles’ YouTube channel. The complete video of Alfabè Kreyòl 2 is available on Louis-Charles’ Vimeo channel.

The instrumental soundtrack is available via iTunes, Amazon.com, Google Play, CDBaby.com, and Gracenote MusicID. The collaborators will make the song’s musical score available on www.sweetcoconuts.blogspot.com  this summer.

“I hope both children and adults alike have lots of fun playing and singing along while they learn the Kreyòl spelling system,” said Louis-Charles.

 

 

 

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Charleston ‘Mother Emanuel’s’ Caribbean Link

June 21, 2015

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The 2014 statue of Denmark Vesey in Hampton Park, South Carolina.

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, CHARLESTON, SA, Mon. June 22, 2015: Hundreds flocked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina Sunday as Sunday service resumed for the first time since the June 17th killings of nine congregants by a 21-year-old man apparently driven by hate. But as the focus shifted to speeches of forgiveness and calls for change, lost in the mix was the Caribbean link of this 199-year-old ‘Mother Emanuel’ Church.

Much is spoken of one of the church’s founders Denmark ‘Telemaque’ Vesey but missing from the news reports is the fact that he was born in the Caribbean.

Vesey was born Telemaque into slavery about 1767 in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. at the time the island was a colony of Denmark. Telemaque was purchased at about age 14, historians say, by Joseph Vesey, a Bermudian sea captain and slave merchant.

He was then sold to a planter in French Saint-Domingue or modern-day Haiti. After Telemaque was found to suffer from epileptic fits, Vesey took him back and returned his purchase price to the former master.

Telemaque then worked as a personal assistant and interpreter in slave trading to Joseph Vesey, including periods spent in Bermuda, and was known to speak French and Spanish in addition to English. Following the American Revolution, the captain retired from the sea and slave trade, settling in Charleston, South Carolina.

Telamaque had learned to read and write by the time he arrived in Charleston, and was already fluent in French and English. Vesey “hired out” Telemaque as a skilled carpenter, and he joined other artisans in the city, many of them free people of color who had their own community in the city.

On November 9, 1799, Telemaque won $1,500 in a city lottery. At the age of 32, he bought his freedom for $600 from Vesey. He took the surname Vesey and the given name of Denmark, after the nation ruling his birthplace.

He then began working as an independent carpenter and built up his own business and married an enslaved woman. Vesey worked to gain freedom for his family, and tried to buy the freedom of his wife but her master would not sell her. This meant their future children would also be born into slavery.

Vesey went on to help start Hampstead AME Church downtown and agitate for others’ education and freedom. The violence perpetrated by whites against blacks – attacks both legal and physical, including assaults on the church – convinced him that rebellion was justified.

 

Vesey and his co-conspirators plotted insurrection but were exposed by informants. The rebellion struck such fear into the hearts of the white minority at the time, they insisted on answering it with brutality and newly organized militias to keep the city’s blacks under control.

Vesey and five other alleged organizers were executed after a secret trial, and the original church was burned down by white supremacists. In 1834 all-black churches were outlawed in Charleston, and the congregation had to meet in secret until the end of the Civil War in 1865.

In the 1990s, African-American activists in Charleston proposed erecting a memorial to Denmark Vesey, to honor his effort to overturn slavery in the city. The proposal caused much controversy, as some people did not want to memorialize him; others believed a memorial to him not only marked his leadership but would demonstrate that slaves were not happy with their lot.

But in February 15, 2014, a statue representing him as a carpenter was finally erected in Hampton Park, at some distance from the main tourist areas. At the time of the statue’s unveiling, the New York Times ran an op-ed under a headline that read: ‘Abolitionist or Terrorist?’

 

 

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Charleston’s ‘Mother Emanuel’ Caribbean Link

June 21, 2015

DENMARK-VESEY_USVI

The 2014 statue of Denmark Vesey in Hampton Park, South Carolina.

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, CHARLESTON, SA, Mon. June 22, 2015: Hundreds flocked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina Sunday as Sunday service resumed for the first time since the June 17th killings of nine congregants by a 21-year-old man apparently driven by hate. But as the focus shifted to speeches of forgiveness and calls for change, lost in the mix was the Caribbean link of this 199-year-old ‘Mother Emanuel’ Church.

Much is spoken of one of the church’s founders Denmark ‘Telemaque’ Vesey but missing from the news reports is the fact that he was born in the Caribbean.

Vesey was born Telemaque into slavery about 1767 in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. at the time the island was a colony of Denmark. Telemaque was purchased at about age 14, historians say, by Joseph Vesey, a Bermudian sea captain and slave merchant.

He was then sold to a planter in French Saint-Domingue or modern-day Haiti. After Telemaque was found to suffer from epileptic fits, Vesey took him back and returned his purchase price to the former master.

Telemaque then worked as a personal assistant and interpreter in slave trading to Joseph Vesey, including periods spent in Bermuda, and was known to speak French and Spanish in addition to English. Following the American Revolution, the captain retired from the sea and slave trade, settling in Charleston, South Carolina.

Telamaque had learned to read and write by the time he arrived in Charleston, and was already fluent in French and English. Vesey “hired out” Telemaque as a skilled carpenter, and he joined other artisans in the city, many of them free people of color who had their own community in the city.

On November 9, 1799, Telemaque won $1,500 in a city lottery. At the age of 32, he bought his freedom for $600 from Vesey. He took the surname Vesey and the given name of Denmark, after the nation ruling his birthplace.

He then began working as an independent carpenter and built up his own business and married an enslaved woman. Vesey worked to gain freedom for his family, and tried to buy the freedom of his wife but her master would not sell her. This meant their future children would also be born into slavery.

Vesey went on to help start Hampstead AME Church downtown and agitate for others’ education and freedom. The violence perpetrated by whites against blacks – attacks both legal and physical, including assaults on the church – convinced him that rebellion was justified.

Vesey and his co-conspirators plotted insurrection but were exposed by informants. The rebellion struck such fear into the hearts of the white minority at the time, they insisted on answering it with brutality and newly organized militias to keep the city’s blacks under control.

Vesey and five other alleged organizers were executed after a secret trial, and the original church was burned down by white supremacists. In 1834 all-black churches were outlawed in Charleston, and the congregation had to meet in secret until the end of the Civil War in 1865.

In the 1990s, African-American activists in Charleston proposed erecting a memorial to Denmark Vesey, to honor his effort to overturn slavery in the city. The proposal caused much controversy, as some people did not want to memorialize him; others believed a memorial to him not only marked his leadership but would demonstrate that slaves were not happy with their lot.

But in February 15, 2014, a statue representing him as a carpenter was finally erected in Hampton Park, at some distance from the main tourist areas. At the time of the statue’s unveiling, the New York Times ran an op-ed under a headline that read: ‘Abolitionist or Terrorist?’

 

 

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Cocaine In Baking Power Bust At JFK

June 21, 2015

JFK_Cocaine_baking_powder

Cocaine was found in baking powder by CBP at JFK. (US CBP Image)

News Americas, JAMAICA, NY, Mon. June 22, 2015: A woman arriving on a flight from Guyana is now facing narcotics smuggling charges and will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the U.S. Eastern District Court of New York.

Alizah Zaneshia Henry, a U.S. citizen arriving from Guyana via Port of Spain, Trinidad was recently busted with cocaine in baking powder at the J.F.K. Airport in Queens, NY. CBP officers at JFK removed one of several plastic bags from her luggage that were labeled as Champion Baking Powder. But the packages each tested positive for cocaine.

The total weight of the cocaine seized was approximately 22 lbs.

Henry was arrested for the import of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.

“Cocaine is a dangerous narcotic, and CBP does its part in keeping these drugs off the streets.” said Robert E. Perez, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations.  “Our officers are determined to protect the American people from these illicit substances.”

 

 

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The Hypocrisy Of The Right

June 18, 2015

 

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Donald Trump’s presidential announcement will only add to push immigrants away from the GOP camp especially with his talk of building a wall between the US and Mexico.

By Felicia J. Persaud

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. June 19, 2015: Now that the U.S. federal court has halted the President’s immigration executive orders and the Trans-Pacific Partnership bill with an immigration component has died in the Congress, it looks bleak again for immigration reform.

At least until the next Presidential election!

But while the bashing of immigrants and immigration reform continues by many right wingers, the same bashers were quick to applaud the historic Triple Crown win by American Pharoah on June 6, 2015 at the Belmont Stakes. In fact, I’m sure many even won bets on this race.

Lost in the applause of course, was the fact that this was a win by two immigrants for America.

Both moved to the U.S. to pursue their dreams from foreign nations. The winning jockey, Victor Espinoza, was born on a dairy farm in Hidalgo, Mexico while American Pharoah’s owner, Ahmed Zayat, was born in Cairo, Egypt. Both men showcase the significant contributions the 40 plus million immigrants living across the U.S. continue to make to this country.

Immigrants are disproportionately likely to be working and are concentrated among prime working ages, according to the Economic Policy Center. “Indeed, despite being 13 percent of the population, immigrants comprise 16 percent of the labor force. Moreover, many immigrants are business owners. In fact, the share of immigrant workers who own small businesses is slightly higher than the comparable share among U.S.-born workers,” a recent EPC report said.

Yet, many on the right are quick to embrace the ones that become famous but fail to recognize the struggle that got them there.

They are quick to judge the unknown faces and criticize because criticism is easy and throwing around words like “amnesty” and “illegals” a great way to enflame the base since finding solutions are not as easy and as sexy. Even though unauthorized immigrants account for about 3.7 percent of the total U.S. population and about 5.2 percent of the labor force.

The right continues to be happy with the new form of slavery mainly because the undocumented are perceived as mainly brown and black immigrants’ who wash their clothes, take care of their children, pick the fruit and vegetables they buy in the supermarket, mow their lawns or wash their dishes in the fancy restaurants they eat.

Just like with slavery – they would be happy if this system can go on forever while they argue about lack of border security and continue to pass the ball while blocking any attempt to fix the problem.

Yet research shows roughly one-fifth of all undocumented immigrants or 19.2 percent of the 11.7 million are non-Hispanic white.

Perhaps this is a fact that should be promoted more especially this Immigrant Heritage Month (IHM).

Maybe then, Ann Coulter and the mad hatters against solving this crisis will finally allow immigration reform that’s comprehensive.

It’s important to know and share our immigrant story and the story that got us all to where we are today this IHI.

Let’s send a clear message to the right that the bashing of immigrants and the continued blocking of immigration reform will not a tolerated.

Share your story this Immigrant Heritage Month at welcome.us/share-your-story/ using #IHM2015 and let’s keep up the fight for the many undocumented brothers and sisters in our country.

The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.

 

 

 

 

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NYC Mayor Weighs In On DR Deportation Of Haitians

June 17, 2015

DR_Immigration_director_Ruben_Paulino_Sem

Dominican Republic immigration director, Major General Rubén Darío Paulino Sem says the deportations will happen.

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. June 18, 2015: The possible forced deportation of hundreds of thousands of Haitians and several   Dominicans of Haitian descent from the Dominican Republic is weighing heavily on the minds of many including New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, even as the country’s immigration agency on Wednesday laid out how the pending deportations will be conducted.

“I am extremely concerned about the potential forced deportation of hundreds of thousands of people from the Dominican Republic, including many children,” Mayor De Blasio said Wednesday while calling on the DR government to respect basic rights guaranteed to all people.

While CARICOM staying silent so far on the issue and Haitian elected leaders say they are preparing for the influx, De Blasio, human rights groups and many Haitians and Caribbean nationals across the US continued to slam the DR government’s decision.

But the country’s immigration director, Major General Rubén Darío Paulino Sem, showed no signs of backing away from the pending deportations Wednesday.

In a statement from the department, he said the repatriations will be conducted Monday to Saturday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., as part of the Migration Policy Action Plan of 2015-2016, prepared by President Danilo Medina.

“We have identified seven Reception Centers to be used for sorting and final evaluation of each particular case. These centers are in the National District (Vacacional Haina), Santiago Province, Benerito (La Altagracia Province), Pedernales, Jimaní, Elías Piña and Dajabón,” the statement added.

Dominican Foreign Minister Andres Navarro echoed the same sentiment insisting: “Those who do not have documentation will have to return to their country.”

The pending deportations relate to a law passed last year that requires all foreign-born workers to register with the DR government within a year or face deportation.

The DR government has said it is not ethnic cleansing but a move to get a grip on its migrant work force. It promised to open a path to naturalization for those who register. But the law  followed a 2013 court ruling to strip the citizenship of children born in the Dominican Republic to foreign parents.

Some 85 percent of all migrant workers in the DR are from Haiti.  As of yesterday some 200,000 undocumented immigrants living in the Dominican Republic were reportedly registered to stay in the country, but many others did not meet the deadline of last evening blaming the slow process and lack of documentation.

In a statement, the State Department expressed concern over “the large numbers of eligible individuals who have yet to access the regularization and naturalization processes and have their claims adjudicated.

But Mayor De Blasio pointed out the laws now affect Dominicans of Haitian descent even though they were born on DR soil and cause inevitable mistakes, dangers and humiliation.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that nationality is a basic right of all individuals. As the mayor of a proud city of immigrants, home of large Dominican and Haitian Diasporas, we stand by international human rights, and hope to see a compassionate and humane resolution to this alarming situation,” he added.

Human Rights Watch urged the Dominican Republic government to halt the expulsions of denationalized Dominicans even as Amnesty International said a delegation “is visiting the Dominican Republic until June 27th to monitor the processes of deportations.”

An international migration group is working with the Haitian government to facilitate the return on many nationals to Haiti even as Haitian government ministers met and announced that they had a ‘contingency plan’ for repatriating deportees.

Prime Minister Évans Paul stressed that the responsibility for receiving deportees couldn’t fall on the government alone: “This is a national responsibility, and that’s why we beg for solidarity.”

On social media, however, the decision by the DR government is stirring outrage and claims of racism in some quarter’s raises its head.

“If a white country was doing to a black country what #DR was doing to #Haiti, there would be outrage,” Haitian Times Publisher Gary Pierre Pierre tweeted Wednesday while Haitian roots US ambassador to South African Patrick Gaspard tweeted: “Piercing by Edwidge Danticat” as he shared the Haitian-born author’s piece on the crisis in the New Yorker.

In “Fear of Deportation in the Dominican Republic,” Danticat wrote: “Given how many Haitian immigrants and Dominicans with Haitian parents remain, without “regularization” in the Dominican Republic, one can easily imagine that the expulsions will number in the thousands.”

Jamaicans Marlon Hill and Chris Williams are also weighing in on the crisis.

Hill on Wednesday wrote a letter to US Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson of Florida and Rep. Carlos Curbelo urging them to use their Office, Committee, and/or Sub-Committees “to speak out firmly on this blatant injustice to humanity and to insist that Dominican President Danilo Medina respects international human rights by forgoing these deportations.”

Williams, of Whereitzat Magazine and the B.I.G Awards insisted the DR government’s decision is “the equivalent of a cleansing.”

“How could a country with people of brown skin think it’s okay to devalue the lives of those with darker skin?,” Williams asked.

 

 

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Unprecedented Luxury Real Estate Auction Deadline Extended Due to Overwhelming Response

June 17, 2015

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Cooper Jack Marina, Turks & Caicos.

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Looking down river in Bolton Bank, Belize.

 

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. June 17, 2015: Response to the first-ever multi-destination Caribbean luxury real estate auction has been extremely strong prompting Premiere Estates Auction Company to extend the auction drop date to August 4th.

The two prime luxury development projects, Cooper Jack Marina, located in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Bolton Bank in Belize, have received expansive coverage resulting in considerable buyer interest. Both properties are being offered for sale on the auction block by Avalon Partners, Ltd. (www.avalonpartnersltd.com) in cooperation with Premiere Estates.

Thomas “Tuvia” Sablosky, the managing director of the International Division of Premiere Estates explained, “Given the size, diversity of locations, and magnitude of the properties for sale in this auction, we have extended the auction date to enable all potential buyers to have more time to do their due diligence and conduct their property inspections.”

“We are very pleased with Premiere’s decision,” stated Grace Lappin, Avalon Partners’ managing director. “Serious buyer interest in both Bolton Bank and Cooper Jack Marina has been extremely robust with a number of buyers requesting extended time to complete site visits and information gathering. Moving the date forward to August 4 creates an equitable playing field and optimizes opportunities for all parties.”

Cooper Jack Marina is a 50-acre ocean-front, mixed-use hotel, resort, and residential marina development site located on the lee-side of Providenciales with over 8,000 feet of shoreline. Cooper Jack Marina offers one of the safest harbors between Nassau and Puerto Rico and it is a port of entry for vessels up to 140 feet. The 10 acre marina allows for superior vessel access due to lack of reefs. Bolton Bank, Belize, a 4,000+ acre river and sea-front parcel within a few miles of Belize’s only international airport and the cruise port, has the potential to be a game-changer for the country’s major city providing an opportunity to create an eco-hotel resort complex complete with state of the art conference center, commercial and retail spaces, residential community, as well as world class golf course and casino. Bolton Bank includes an historic 1 acre site – the only Jewish cemetery in all of Belize.

For more information about these two properties and the auction, please contact Grace Lappin, Managing Director, Avalon Partners, Ltd. by telephone at (212) 717-5477 or (649) 432-4158 or email at info@avalonpartnersltd.com.

About Avalon Partners

Avalon Partners, Ltd. (www.avalonpartnersltd.com) is a boutique real estate advisory and brokerage firm with offices in Manhattan and the Caribbean.

About Premiere Estates Auction Company

Premiere Estates Auction Company (www.PremiereEstates.com) and its corporate family of companies are nationwide leaders in high-end luxury real estate auctions.

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