Sneezing & Ebola

October 7, 2014

A training programme for health workers on Ebola has been launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in consultation with the Ministry of Health and with support from USAID.

A training programme for health workers on Ebola has been launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in consultation with the Liberia Ministry of Health and with support from USAID.

News Americas, GENEVA, Switzerland, Weds. Oct. 8, 2016: The World Health Organization is trying to quell concern when it comes to the transmission of the Ebola virus via coughing or sneezing.

The WHO on Tuesday, however, admitted that wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individuals, who have respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently, could transmit the virus – over a short distance – to another nearby person.

“This could happen when virus-laden heavy droplets are directly propelled, by coughing or sneezing (which does not mean airborne transmission) onto the mucus membranes or skin with cuts or abrasions of another person,” the WHO said.

Saliva and tears may also carry some risk. However, the studies implicating these additional bodily fluids were extremely limited in sample size and the science is inconclusive.

In studies of saliva, the virus was found most frequently in patients at a severe stage of illness.

The whole live virus has never been isolated from sweat.

The Ebola virus is transmitted among humans through close and direct physical contact with infected bodily fluids, the most infectious being blood, feces and vomit.

The Ebola virus has also been detected in breast milk, urine and semen. In a convalescent male, the virus can persist in semen for at least 70 days; one study suggests persistence for more than 90 days.

The Ebola virus can also be transmitted indirectly, by contact with previously contaminated surfaces and objects. The risk of transmission from these surfaces is low and can be reduced even further by appropriate cleaning and disinfection procedures.

Ebola virus disease, however, is not an airborne infection.


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‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier’s Funeral For Saturday?

October 7, 2014

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier

News Americas, PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Weds. Oct. 8, 2014: Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as “Baby Doc,” will reportedly be laid to rest on Saturday, October 11th , a week after he died from a heart attack, sources say.

 Duvalier, 63, the so-called “president for life,” who allegedly ordered the deaths of thousands through his Haitian paramilitary force the Tonton Macoute, will receive a state funeral, the Haitian government has announced, since he was a head of state.

Duvalier fled Haiti in 1985 and stunned Haiti when he returned 25 years later.

He was charged with human rights crimes within days of his return, but he successfully argued in court that the statute of limitations had expired on charges that included torture, rape and extrajudicial killings. In February, a Haitian appeals court ruled that the lower court was wrong and that there is no statute of limitations for human rights violations. The ruling reopened the possibility that Duvalier could face such charges, but he died before a judicial investigation decided whether to pursue the charges.


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Former Puerto Rico Police Sergeant Pleads Guilty To Robbery

October 7, 2014

Puerto_Rico policeNews Americas, SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Weds. Oct. 8, 2014: He took an oath to uphold the law but instead a 49-year-old former sergeant in the Police of Puerto Rico has pleaded guilty to breaking it.

Jorge Fernandez-Aviles yesterday pleaded guilty to robbery and firearms charges for his role in a July 2012 robbery in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

According to court documents, Fernandez on July 14, 2012, went with Officers Lopez-Torres, Ramos-Figueroa and David Figueroa, 32, Ramos-Figueroa’s civilian cousin, to the airport, where they picked up a marked patrol car from Officer Alexander Mir Hernandez before a planned home robbery.  They drove the patrol car to meet civilian Fernando Reyes-Rojas and then went together to the location of the robbery.

Upon entering the house, the officers identified themselves as police, falsely claimed they were executing a search warrant, and ordered several individuals in the garage to the ground and searched for weapons.   While Figueroa watched the occupants, Sergeant Fernandez, Officer Lopez-Torres, Officer Ramos-Figueroa, and Reyes-Rojas searched the property, and Reyes-Rojas found cocaine in a shed in the backyard.

A few days later, Reyes-Rojas met with Lopez-Torres and gave him money from the proceeds of the sale of the cocaine he took on the day of the robbery.  Officer Lopez-Torres split the money with Sergeant Fernandez-Aviles and Officer Ramos-Figueroa.

On Oct. 3, 2014, David Figueroa, 32, pleaded guilty to robbery and civil rights charges for his involvement in the robbery. Officer Mir-Hernandez, 40, also pleaded guilty on Oct. 3, 2014, to one count of false statements for lying to federal agents about his role in the July 2012 robbery and to a civil rights crime for an unrelated December 2013 robbery.  Sentencing for all three is scheduled for Jan. 9, 2015.

Officer Pedro Lopez-Torres, 35, and Luis Ramos-Figueroa, 38, were charged by information on June 25, 2014, for their roles in the July 2012 robbery and other crimes.  Lopez and Torres pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge José A. Fusté the same day.  Fernando Reyes-Rojas, a civilian, has been indicted for robbery, drug, and firearms charges for his involvement in the July 2012 robbery.  Reyes-Rojas is scheduled for trial on Nov. 3, 2014.


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More Harm Than Good – The US ‘War On Drugs’ In Latin America

October 7, 2014

drug-war-no-moreBy Laura Chapman 

News Americas, TORONTO, Canada, Weds. Oct. 8, 2014: U.S. policy regarding drugs in Latin America has tended to be pursued with the typical bravura, loud bangs, and distinct lack of forward planning or regard for the indigenous situation for which the USA is famed. While the approach has been heavy, and wanted for nothing in the way of flashy equipment, it has been notably lacking as regards research into causation, societal influences on the drug trade, and the more oblique trends to which the trade is subject. The results are just what could have been expected from such an approach. Although US-funded and supervised measures have certainly changed the face of the Latin American drugs trade, it has not necessarily done so for the better.

Heavy Measures

It cannot be denied that the Americans really are trying very hard to get a handle on the Latin American drugs trade. They have instigated and overseen such extensive measures as flying planes over coca fields in the southern Andes in order to fumigate and kill the crop with ‘Round-Up Ultra’. They have brought in thousands and thousands of extra police briefed specifically to crack down on narcotics, and have brought their military might to bear on the situation with considerable firepower. However, despite this, the Latin American drugs trade still thrives. Of course, the US presence in the ‘war on drugs’ has made a difference – how could it fail to? – but that difference is not necessarily always a positive one.

Fumigation And Dispersal

Take the aerial fumigation, for example. That it kills coca crops is undeniable – but this by no means halts the cocaine industry. While it has produced a modest drop in the amount of coca grown in Colombia, dedicated farmers have many means by which they can reduce the impact of the chemicals sprayed on their crops. Perhaps more worryingly, such overarching policies tackle only the product – not the human root of the problem. Thus, rather than being concentrated in one area, fumigated farmers disperse. Like a metastasized cancer, they spread out into the rest of the continent, making the problem as a whole much harder to locate and eradicate. This dispersal has also been proven to destabilize society and contribute to the increase of internal tensions and conflict. Furthermore, the chemicals used during the fumigation present a deadly biohazard to one of the most preciously biodiverse and beautiful habitats on earth – as well as possibly being a considerable threat to human health in the affected regions. Naturally this does not promote goodwill within the region, and brings about an ‘us vs them’ attitude in which, sadly, the ‘us’ is the drugs industry.

Changing The Focus

This is a great shame, because what the US is trying to do should, theoretically, benefit Latin America enormously. Drug addiction is a huge problem for many South American countries, causing both the personal breakdown of people’s lives, and societal breakdown on a wider scale as people turn to crime and cartel involvement in consequence of their habit or in order to fund that habit. Unsanitary drug-taking procedures are ravaging the health of the continent, and effective rehabilitation initiatives and treatment centers are sorely lacking. Drug cartels promote social and political instability, and their activities have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Were the ‘war on drugs’ to be won, Latin America would undoubtedly become a much more peaceful, secure, and generally healthy part of the world. However, the US’s policy of engaging with the problem on a militaristic rather than a human level appears merely to be exacerbating the issue. The simple truth is that, while there remains a market for drugs, the drugs industry will continue to thrive.Perhaps the best way in which the US could help to improve the situation is by plunging their funds into education and rehabilitation programs, which would enable the people of Latin America themselves to turn against drugs and the drugs industry. Treatment programs in particular would eliminate much of the residential market for drugs, and would also promote goodwill towards the anti-drugs brigade. As such, rather than being seen as heavy-handed outsiders whose actions contribute to the destabilization of the social and political fabric, American-sponsored anti-drug agents could come to be considered as essential community aids, helping to stabilize and restore Latin American society. This would, in time, help to prevent the civilian aiding of guerilla cartels

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FCCA Conference & Trade Show Helps Attendees Target Cruise Line Decision Makers and Maximize Cruise Tourism’s Benefits

October 7, 2014

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten, Oct. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — The 21st annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference & Trade Show opened today, gathering about 1,000 cruise tourism stakeholders and 100 cruise executives, presidents and CEOs from the 15 FCCA Member Lines, which operate over 100 ships in Caribbean and Latin American waters. The event offers a four-day agenda chock-full of business sessions, networking opportunities and chances to maximize cruise tourism’s impact, along with the attention and knowledge of cruise line personnel who decide where cruise ships call, what to sell onboard and if they should invest in destination infrastructure.

“The [FCCA Conference & Trade Show] gives you direct contact with some of the most influential decision makers in the cruise industry,” says Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line CEO and FCCA chairman.

The focus is on developing business, relationships and knowledge. The Conference’s business sessions offer this through one-on-one meetings, where attendees have up to three meetings with their selected cruise executives. Plus workshops share the executives’, presidents’, CEOs’ and stakeholders’ insight to help attendees learn about topics such as the cruise lines’ latest happenings and route for the future; creating and maintaining a successful tour product; developing a port in partnership with the FCCA, cruise lines and the private/public sectors; and increasing cruise tourism through a unified vision, collaboration between the private and public sectors, and continual product development and innovation.

“FCCA events always give me an opportunity to meet valuable industry stakeholders,” shares Adam Goldstein, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “These are the people who have ideas and projects I want, and need, to know about.”

The Trade Show—the largest in the event’s history—allows exhibitors to target the influential audience looking to source new business and expand existing business. Any booth puts spotlights a product, company or destination, and specialized pavilions showcase a large company or destination as a team, with a roster including destination ministries, port authorities, tour operators and vendors.

Exposure is guaranteed through numerous events hosted there, such as a cruise executive preview before the official opening, an exclusive cocktail reception for cruise executives and Platinum Members, the Conference’s Wednesday night social function and the first FCCA Table Tennis Tournament, hosted by Adam Goldstein.

Traffic is also driven by a business center and the Trade Show’s location itself, with all attendees entering and passing through to access the Conference’s meetings, workshops, business sessions and registration.

Interaction between Conference delegates, Trade Show exhibitors and cruise line decision makers is further spurred by social functions planned by St. Maarten. And St. Maarten certainly plans to engage the attendees, as Port St. Maarten partnered with the government and local businesses to display its exciting setting, activities and WOW factor through some of the same experiences and venues that cruise passengers see and do.

In all, the FCCA Conference & Trade Show creates the perfect forum for exchanging information, sharing ideas and forging relationships. The continued involvement and invaluable insight of some of the cruise industry’s key decision makers, along with a ratio of about one cruise executive per 10 attendees, make the event one of the best ways to directly target the cruise industry and maximize its benefits.

About the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association
The FCCA is a not-for-profit trade organization composed of 15 member cruise lines operating over 100 vessels in Floridian, Caribbean and Latin American waters. Created in 1972, the FCCA’s mandate is to provide a forum for discussion on tourism development, ports, safety, security, and other cruise industry issue and to develop bilateral relationships with destinations’ private and public sectors. By fostering an understanding of the cruise industry and its operating practices, the FCCA works with governments, ports and private sector representatives to maximize cruise passenger, crew and cruise line spending, as well as enhance the destination experience and increase the amount of cruise passengers returning as stay-over visitors. For more information, visit, the FCCA on Facebook, and @FCCAupdates on Twitter.

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Guyana Again Urged – Pass That Anti-Money Laundering Bill

October 6, 2014

money_launderingNews Americas, CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Tues. Oct. 7, 2014:  Guyana’s government is being urged to urgently comply with international financial standards and pass the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Amendment Bill.

The call comes from the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB), which says the passage of the AML bill is not only about Guyana, but also about the international financial sector as a whole in order to protect all financial systems, within the Caribbean region, from ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks.

“We are only as strong as our weakest link,” said Caribbean Association of Banks, Chairman Carlton Barclay.

CAB in a statement Monday said while it recognizes the Guyana government’s efforts to put in place alternative measures to address the technical deficiencies in its existing legal and financial legislative framework for assessment by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and applauds them, those moves are only “one small step in actions required by Guyana in order for it to comply with international standards.”

“Guyana’s expediency in passing the AML/CFT Bill will not only benefit its own economy and growth but strengthen our regional financial network and its reputation worldwide,” the CAB, a community of banks and other financial institutions in the Caribbean/CARICOM Region, which provides opportunities for discussion on issues impacting the regional banking/financial services community as well as for the sharing of experiences and networking, stated.

The group added that billions of dollars are laundered each year posing significant policy concerns for governments worldwide and as such, governments and international bodies must deter, prevent, and apprehend money launderers.

Non-compliance to the global FATF recommendations will have a significant impact on Correspondent Banking Relationships which, in turn, is of vital importance to the facilitation of business in the financial services sector of the region, the organization, which is dedicated to the advocacy of national and institutional adherence to AML/CFT, added.

The Guyana government and the opposition have been haggling over the needed amendments and the conditions for them to be passed for over two years. In May, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force blacklisted the country over failure to pass the law. Guyana has also been referred to the global body, the Financial Action Task Force which could result in crippling financial sanctions.

And in July, the FATF confirmed its decision to commence a targeted review of Guyana prior to its October 2014 plenary meeting, making it clear that the purpose of the review will be to examine the most significant deficiencies in Guyana’s AML/CFT framework that pose a risk to the international financial system.

The Bill to meet the requirements of the FATF-Style Regional Bodies (FSRB), CFATF was tabled in the Guyana National Assembly in April 2013, but was subsequently referred to a Parliamentary Special Select Committee and eventually voted down by the combined Opposition in November 2013. The bill was re-tabled in December 2013, and was again referred to the Parliamentary Special Select Committee, where it has since been languishing.
The last Select Committee meeting was in early June, and up to press time, there has been no confirmation of a date for the next meeting. Guyana’s efforts at the level of Special Select Committee in terms of passage of the AML/CFT await completion of draft amendments proposed by A Partnership for National Unity, by the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC).

Guyana has been listed in the United States 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report on Money Laundering and Financial Crimes as a country/jurisdiction of ‘concern.’ The report said Guyana has failed to criminalize ‘tipping off’ or putting in place arrangement for asset sharing.


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‘Baby Doc’s’ Dead But Fight For Justice Will Go On

October 5, 2014

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier

News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Mon. Oct. 6, 2014: Haitian-born president turned dictator, Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier, will soon be six feet under, taking with him the horrific human rights violations that occurred under his regime in Haiti from 1971 to 1986. But a group of lawyers pledge to fight on to bring those most responsible for serious human rights violations committed under the Duvalier regime to justice.

Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC), the principal partner of the Collectif contre l’impunité (Collective Against Impunity), which is comprised of the majority of plaintiffs in the case against the ex-dictator and his close associates, said Sunday, that more than ever, the right to justice and reparation of the victims of these crimes must be respected and implemented.

They said legal proceedings involve not only the former “President for Life” but also his closest aides and associates, including Jean Valmé, Rony Gilot and Emmanuel Orcel.

Duvalier passed away Saturday at age 63, reportedly from a heart attack. The death of Duvalier, who returned to Haiti in 2011 after 25 years of exile, was announced by Florence Guillaume Duperval, the nation’s health ministe.

Haitian President Michel Martelly, reacting on Twitter, called him “an authentic son of Haiti” and sent his “sincere condolences to the family and to the nation”.

“Love and reconciliation must always prevail over our internal quarrels. May he rest in peace,” wrote Martelly, who said he was paying tribute to Duvalier “despite our quarrels and our differences.”

Duvalier became the world’s youngest president at the age of 19 when in 1971 he inherited power from his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Like his father, Baby Doc came to rule the Caribbean nation with an iron fist, crushing opposition, clamping down on dissidents, rubber-stamping his own laws and pocketing government revenue.

Duvalier made heavy use of the dreaded Tonton Macoutes, a secret police force accused of kidnapping, torturing and killing up to 30,000 political opponents during the 1960s and 1970s.

An estimated 30,000 people were killed during the reign of the Duvalier father and son, rights activists say. The self-proclaimed “President For Life” fled for France in 1986 after riots broke out in a number of cities following his failure to address poverty and illiteracy.

Duvalier’s departure ended nearly three decades of dictatorship begun by his father in 1957.

While Duvalier’s death elicits bitter feelings among the plaintiffs, it also strengthens their determination to obtain justice and reparation, the LWBC said in a statement.

“The death of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier does not mark the end of legal proceedings in Haiti to bring to justice those most responsible for the grave human rights violations that were committed between 1971 and 1986,” Pascal Paradis, executive director of the group said. “We stand in solidarity with the Collectif contre l’impunité and the plaintiffs in our determination to continue the struggle against impunity.”

A recent landmark decision by the Port-au-Prince Court of Appeal stated that the inquiry should target all those indicted.

“The current case cannot be closed. Haitian authorities have obligations under both Haitian and international law to investigate grave human rights violations and to take legal action against those responsible, which they were reminded of by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2011,” Paradis explained.

While Danièle Magloire, coordinator of the Collectif contre l’impunité, civil party to the proceedings against the main perpetrators of the Duvalier regime, added: “These efforts to establish collective memory are fundamental for Haitians. The documents uncovered, the testimony collected, the words exchanged, are all part of the struggle against impunity, and contribute to the creation of a democratic society in Haiti, one that is able to confront its past in order to build a better future.”



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