A Win & A Loss For Two Caribbean-American Lawmakers

September 10, 2014

New York State Senator John Sampson of Brooklyn, NY.

New York State Senator John Sampson of Brooklyn, NY.

News Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Weds. Sept. 10, 2014: Guyanese-American New York State Senator John Sampson last night declared victory in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary challenge despite federal embezzlement charges but Jamaican-American Queens Sen. Malcolm Smith, was not as lucky.

Sampson, a former Democratic majority leader, easily defeated his three challengers with over 7,000 votes or more than 54 percent, meaning he’s likely headed toward an easy re-election in November unless he’s convicted in a federal trial.

The Brooklyn lawmaker beat Dell Smitherman, a former political coordinator for the health care workers union 1199 SEIU, who was endorsed by both New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, managed to secure only 3,981 votes.

“We had the governor, the mayor and some of my colleagues in the Assembly who didn’t want to see this happen,” a thrilled Sampson told supporters at the Thomas Jefferson political club in Canarsie Tuesday night. “Prosperity breeds friends, adversity proves it. It is going to be a different John Sampson.”

Sampson has been indicted for stealing $400,000 from victims of foreclosure to fund a previous campaign for District Attorney and using his Senate seat to try to influence $88,000 worth of tax credits for a liquor store he secretly owned.

But while Sampson survived, Queens Lawmaker, Senator Smith, wasn’t as lucky. Smith, who has pleaded not guilty to bribery charges, was trounced by former City Councilman Leroy Comrie, a fellow Jamaican-American. Comrie won the seat with 9,314 votes or 69 percent compared to 18 percent or 2,530 for Smith.

“This win is a huge triumph and now I am looking forward to getting to work,” Comrie said in a statement.

Smith had represented the 14th District in Queens, home to many Caribbean Americans, for more than a decade.  His trial for bribery and wire fraud ended in a mistrial earlier this year. He was indicted for allegedly offering bribes to get Republicans to allow him to run for mayor on the GOP line in 2013. His new trial starts in January.

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Legal Woes But NY Caribbean American State Senators In Election Race Today

September 8, 2014

Senators John Sampson, l, and Malcolm Smith, r.

Senators John Sampson, l, and Malcolm Smith, r.

News Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Tues. Sept. 9, 2014: Both are facing legal woes but two New York-born, Caribbean-American state senators are looking past that and ahead, to maintaining their political seats today.

In Queens, NY, Senator Malcolm Smith, (D-Hollis), who has Jamaican roots, survived barely when his trial for bribery and wire fraud ended in a mistrial earlier this year.

Today he faces a political fight for his Senate seat in the Democratic Primary, from a fellow Jamaican American and former City Councilman Leroy Comrie along with attorney lawyer Munir Avery.

Smith has represented the 14th District in Queens, home to many Caribbean Americans, for more than a decade and is hoping that history will sway voters.

He was indicted for allegedly offering bribes to get Republicans to allow him to run for mayor on the GOP line in 2013. His new trial starts in January.

In Brooklyn, NY, Senator John Sampson, a Guyanese-American, has been indicted for stealing $400,000 from victims of foreclosure to fund a previous campaign for District Attorney and using his Senate seat to try to influence $88,000 worth of tax credits for a liquor store he secretly owned.

But he’s confident he’ll keep his 19th District Senate seat today even though his challengers, union coordinator Dell Smitherman and Sean Henry. Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio are on the Smitherman team as he hopes to deliver a TKO to Sampson in the contest today.

Mayor de Blasio made a last-minute push for Smitherman on Sunday, calling him a “true ally” who can help further City Hall’s agenda in Albany.

“He is the kind of person to go to Albany and make the changes that we need and certainly that my administration needs to succeed, so I’m here to ask you to help me take that next step in Albany,” de Blasio told congregants at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn. “I cannot do it alone—I guarantee you that. I need leaders there who feel what we all feel about the changes we need to make.”

Meanwhile, Sampson’s legal troubles are mounting. His former top aide, Melvin Lowe, recently admitted during confidential meetings with prosecutors that he defrauded the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee out of $100,000 – and gave $75,000 of the money to “Senator #1,” the filing says. A source said “Senator #1” is Lowe’s ex-boss, Sampson (D-Brooklyn), who is fighting charges that he, himself, also committed fraud and tax crimes.

In New York City and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange,  Putnam and Erie, POLLS OPEN at 6 AM and  CLOSE at 9 PM. In all other counties POLLS

OPEN at 12 NOON and CLOSE at 9 PM.



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Jewish Real Estate Developer And Wife Killed In Crash Off Jamaica Coast

September 5, 2014

News Americas, PORT ANTONIO, Jamaica, Fri. Sept. 5, 2014: Jewish real estate developer and Rochester resident Larry Glazer and his wife Jane Glazer, are declared dead after the small private plane in which they were travelling crashed off the east coast of Jamaica on Friday.

The plane reported veered far off its course toward southwest Florida and triggered a U.S. security alert that prompted a fighter jet escort, Reuters reported.

The pilot stopped responding to radio calls about an hour after take-off from Greater Rochester International Airport in New York and was headed to Naples Municipal Airport in Florida, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The single-engine, seven-seater plane, a Socata TBM700, flew for several hours at an altitude of 25,000 feet (7,620 meters) southbound down the Florida east coast and south over Cuba, the FAA said.

Search and rescue teams, including a military plane and a helicopter, were dispatched to the crash site about 14 miles (22 km) north of the tourist town of Port Antonio, Jamaica’s Civil Aviation Authority said.

The United States Coast Guard also joined the search, the Jamaica Defence Force said.


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Colombian National Guilty Of Kidnapping, Murder of DEA Agent

September 5, 2014


court houseNews Americas, RICHMOND, VA, Fri. Sept. 5, 2014:  A 31-year-old Colombian man this week pleaded guilty to his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent James Terry Watson in Bogotá, Colombia, on June 20, 2013.

Julio Estiven Gracia Ramirez, 31, extradited to the Eastern District of Virginia, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee to aiding and abetting the murder of an internationally protected person and conspiracy to kidnap an internationally protected person.

In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Gracia Ramirez admitted that he and his conspirators agreed to conduct a “paseo milionario” or “millionaire’s ride” in which victims who were perceived as wealthy were lured into taxi cabs, kidnapped and then robbed.  Gracia Ramirez admitted that he targeted Special Agent Watson and picked him up outside a Bogotá restaurant in his taxi.   Soon after, two conspirators entered Gracia Ramirez’s taxi, and one used a stun gun to shock Special Agent Watson and the other stabbed him.   Special Agent Watson was able to escape from the taxi, but he later collapsed and died from his injuries.
Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 5, 2014.

Six other defendants have been charged in an indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia for their alleged involvement in the murder of Special Agent Watson.  Gerardo Figueroa Sepulveda, 39; Omar Fabian Valdes Gualtero, 27; Edgar Javier Bello Murillo, 27; Hector Leonardo Lopez, 34; and Andrés Alvaro Oviedo-Garcia, 22, are each charged with second degree murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap.   Oviedo-Garcia is also charged with assault.

Wilson Daniel Peralta-Bocachica, 31, is charged for his alleged efforts to destroy evidence associated with the murder of Special Agent Watson.   Trial is set for Jan. 12, 2015.

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November Sentencing For Airline Owner Who Flew Guyana Route

September 3, 2014


Sonny Austin Ramdeo, former founder of EZ Jet airlines.

News Americas, West Palm Beach, FL, Thurs. Sept. 4, 2014: The former chief executive of an airline that flew the New York/Guyana route in 2011, is set to be sentenced this November.

Sonny Austin Ramdeo, former founder of EZ Jet airlines, is set to be sentenced on November 14th at 9 AM in West Palm Beach before Judge Kenneth A. Marra.

Ramdeo recently copped a plea, admitting that he is guilty of wire fraud and money-laundering in connection with stealing some $20M starting in 2005 while working for Promise Healthcare.

Much of the money went to bankroll the charter jet company he founded that provided service from New York’s JKF Airport to the Cheddi Jagan Airport in Guyana. When confronted by company auditors in October 2012, he fled to New York where he was arrested.

Ramdeo admitted that he used several million dollars without authorization from his former employer to fund his fledgling airline business which landed in the Guyana market with excitingly low fares at the time.

He is hoping for a reduced sentence.

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Puerto Rico Disc Jockey Gets 40 Years For Child Pornography

September 3, 2014

jailed-newsamericasnowNews Americas, SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Thurs. Sept. 3, 2014: A 45-year-old Puerto Rico-born, former disc jockey for area high school parties will have to spend the next 40 years in prison for producing child pornography.

Eduardo Santiago-Rivera was recently sentenced, months after he pleaded before U.S. Magistrate Judge Velez-Rive in the District of Puerto Rico to nine counts of sexual exploitation of children and one count of possession of child pornography. He was charged by a superseding indictment on May 13.

According to court records, Santiago-Rivera was a disc jockey who met his victims at area high school parties and on various social networking sites. Santiago-Rivera admitted that in June and July 2012, he induced, persuaded, enticed and coerced at least three minors, who ranged in age from 12 to 15, to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of creating video images.

Santiago-Rivera used “ooVoo,” an Internet-based video chat program, to direct and coerce the minors to undress and to engage in various acts of sexually explicit conduct, including masturbation and the lascivious exhibition of their genitals. He also recorded himself engaging in sexual acts with one of the minors.



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White Media Falsely Link Brooklyn Shootings To West Indian American Day Parade

September 1, 2014

NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio and his family dance at the 2014 West Indian American Day Carnival.

NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio and his family dance at the 2014 West Indian American Day Carnival.

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Sept. 2, 2014: Is it racist or simply stupid that five shootings in Brooklyn that occurred in the wee hours of Monday morning were automatically linked by white-owned media entities in New York City to the West Indian American Day Carnival?

The carnival, the largest in North America which draws a large percentage of black Caribbean immigrants annually for the past 47 years, kicked off at 11 a.m. yesterday at Schenectady and Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, NY. But shootings that occurred at 3:30 a.m. and 4:45 a.m., respectively, were quickly linked to the Carnival.

PIX 11 via the AP ran a story that began with the lead: “For all the festivity that surrounds the annual West Indian Day Parade, the event has been scarred in recent years by violence nearby and that was the case Monday morning.”

Though the shooting occurred six blocks from the parade route, the headline screamed: “Man shot, killed near Caribbean Carnival route.”

For the record, a gunman opened fire at about 3:30 a.m. on a crowd of people who had gathered along Eastern Parkway, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, police said. Michael Sampson, 55 years old, of Crown Heights, was killed, and two other bystanders were wounded.

Two other shootings occurred: one near Utica Avenue and the other on McKeever Place in Brooklyn. A 22-year-old man was shot in the foot and a 28-year-old woman was shot in the buttocks, police said but both victims were expected to survive.

ABC News via the AP carried the same headline with a lead in that stated: “… a massive Caribbean celebration …. was marred by a fatal shooting nearby before the official festivities got underway.”

Police at the 2014 West Indian Day Carnival

Police at the 2014 West Indian Day Carnival.

The same story went around the world to the Daily Mail in London while the New York Daily News linked the 3:30 a.m. shooting to the carnival, falsely noting that “a gunman opened fire into a crowd in Crown Heights that had already begun festivities for the West Indian Day Parade.” CBS 2 went with the story of ‘One Dead, Two Injured Before Parade.’

But the Wall Street Journal was the absolute worst offender. Its headline writers went with the farce: “Barrage of Bullets Before West Indian Day Parade.”

None of the shooting were related to the West Indian American Day Carnival, which began its five-day celebration last Thursday night on the grounds of the Brooklyn Museum and ended with the grand finale – the parade down Eastern Parkway from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. yesterday.

The real story of course went unreported of course.

No one was injured, shot or killed at the carnival or on the parade route which drew tens of thousands.

But you would never know this reading the Journal, which reported: “A rash of shootings near the route of Brooklyn’s annual West Indian Day Parade left one man dead, five other people injured and cast another pall on one of New York City’s largest public celebrations.”

Last we checked there was no pall over the carnival yesterday, but simply a celebration of culture and pride with floats, costumed revelry, good food and music.

west-indian-day-parade-2014 (1)

Creative costumes at the 2014 West Indian American Day Carnival.

And, under the watchful eye of the NYPD’s 4,000 plus, the only big news of the day were: the hypocritical politicians who suddenly became Caribbean for a day but only managed to walk a block of the parade route and the many women who really should be charged for exposing way too much cellulite and injuring the eyes and mind.

Give us your thoughts? Is this racism or simply journalism at its worst?




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Get Ready To Shell Out More For U.S. Immigration Services

August 31, 2014

us-visas-immigrationNews Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Mon. Sept. 1, 2014: U.S. visa applicants and immigrants may be forced to soon shell out more for immigration services according to a notice published by the Department of State in the Federal Register.

The amendment to the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services Schedule will temporarily take effect on September 6, 2014 for certain nonimmigrant visa application processing fees, certain immigrant visa application processing and special visa services fees, and certain citizenship services fees.

However, the public can still submit written comments on or before October 21, 2014 before the final rules will be adopted.

More specifically, the rule amends the application processing fees for two categories of petition-based non-immigrant visas and the tiered application processing fees for immigrant visas.

The rule also amends the security surcharge for immigrant visa services and the fees for certain immigrant visa services.

Lastly, the rule raises the application processing fee for renunciation of U.S. citizenship and lowers the hourly consular officer time charge.

The Department of State said it is adjusting the fees in light of the findings of a recent “Cost of Service study to ensure that the fees for consular services better align with the costs of providing those services.”

The following table sets forth the new fees for the following categories listed on the U.S. Department of State’s Schedule of Fees for Consular Services:

Item Fee


Administrative Processing of Formal Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship $2,350


Nonimmigrant Visa Application and Border Crossing Card Processing Fees (per person):
(a) Non-petition-based nonimmigrant visa (except E category) $160
(b) H, L, O, P, Q and R category nonimmigrant visa $190
(c) E category nonimmigrant visa $205
(d) K category (fiancé) nonimmigrant visa $265
(e) Border crossing card—age 15 and over (10 year validity) $160
f) Border crossing card—under age 15; for Mexican citizens if parent or guardian has or is applying for a border crossing card (valid 10 years or until the applicant reaches age 15, whichever is sooner) $16


32. Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee (per person)
(a) Immediate relative and family preference applications $325
(b) Employment-based applications $345
(c) Other immigrant visa applications (including I-360 self-petitioners and special immigrant visa applicants) $205
(d) Certain Iraqi and Afghan special immigrant visa applications NO FEE.
34. Affidavit of Support Review (only when reviewed domestically) $120
35. Special Visa Services:
(a) Determining Returning Resident Status $180
(b) Waiver of two year residency requirement $120
(c) Waiver of immigrant visa ineligibility (collected for USCIS and subject to change) For fee amount, see8 CFR 103.7(b)(1).
(d) Refugee or significant public benefit parole case processing NO FEE.
(Items 36 through 40 vacant.)
75. Consular Time Charges: As required by this schedule and for fee services performed away from the office or during after-duty hours (per hour or part thereof/per consular officer) $325

Interested parties may submit comments to the Department by any of the following methods:

  • Visit the Regulations.gov Web site at: www.regulations.gov and search the RIN 1400-AD47or docket number DOS-2014-0016.
  • Mail (paper, disk, or CD-ROM): U.S. Department of State, Office of the Comptroller, Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA/C), SA-17 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20522-1707.
  • E-Mail: fees@state.gov. Include the RIN (1400-AD47) in the subject line of your message.
  • All comments should include the commenter’s name, the organization the commenter represents, if applicable, and the commenter’s address. If the Department is unable to read your comment for any reason, and cannot contact you for clarification, the Department may not be able to consider your comment. After the conclusion of the comment period, the Department will publish a Final Rule (in which it will address relevant comments) as expeditiously as possible.


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Target Cruise Executives and Tourism Stakeholders at the FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show

August 29, 2014

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla., Aug. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — The 2014 FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show, the largest cruise and tourism conference and trade show in the Caribbean, will let delegates and exhibitors target about 1,000 cruise tourism stakeholders and 100 FCCA Member Line presidents, CEOs and executives from multiple sectors, including operations, purchasing, marketing, shore excursions and government relations.

“The FCCA Conference and Trade Show is a great opportunity to network with and learn from the FCCA Member Lines’ key players,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line CEO and FCCA chairman. “Attendees have ample opportunities to promote products, develop working relationships and discuss trends with the industry’s most important executives.”

Attendees and executives will congregate in St. Maarten from October 6-10 for a four-day series of meetings, workshops, networking functions and the trade show. The Conference’s business functions will include preset one-on-one meetings that offer a chance to promote a product to or receive individualized input from cruise executives selected by attendees; workshops on current issues with panels of knowledgeable industry professionals and cruise executives, along with the presidents and CEOs heading a roundtable discussion; and social functions that foster networking in a comfortable, engaging atmosphere.

The Trade Show will guarantee exposure from this influential audience through numerous events hosted at the Trade Show, many of which feature cruise executives, and traffic driven by its location, with all attendees entering and passing through to access the Conference’s business sessions and registration. Booths will put an exhibitor’s product, company or destination on the mind of those who decide where ships call and what is sold onboard, and specialized pavilions are available to increase attention and allow a destination or large company to showcase their numerous offerings.

This is one of the best opportunities to increase cruise tourism’s impact by better understanding the industry and promoting products to and forging working relationships with some of the cruise industry’s most important decision makers.

Registration for and more information about the FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show are available here: www.regonline.com/fccastmaarten.

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Woman Killed At Boston Caribbean Carnival Remembered

August 29, 2014

boston-caribbean-carnival-victim-Dawnn Ashley Jaffier.

Many gathered last night to remember Dawnn Ashley Jaffier.

News Americas, BRIGHTON, MA, Fri. Aug. 29, 2014: A 26-year-old woman who was gunned down over the weekend, while attending Boston’s annual Caribbean Carnival was last night remembered by dozens in Brighton, Massachusetts.

Dawnn Ashley Jaffier, was shot and killed on August 23, 2014 as she attended the J’Ouvert festivities.

Keith Williams, 18, of Dorchester, has been arrested in Jaffier’s slaying and charged with murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and firearms offenses.

Boston police say Williams had allegedly opened fire on a rival gang and struck Jaffier who was an “innocent victim.”

Jaffier was a Boston Public Schools employee, who worked with children at City year. She will be laid to rest following funeral service tomorrow, Saturday, August 30, 2014 from 11 a.m. at the Jubilee Christian Church, 1500 Blue Hill Ave, Mattapan.

A viewing is also set to be held today, Friday, August 29, from 4-9 p.m. at the Family Life Fellowship Foursquare Church, 28 Arlington St., Hyde Park, MA. Jaffier will be buried at the Forest Hills Cemetery, Boston.

Jaffier is survived by her parents, Althea Lewis-Jaffier and Ian Jaffier and a host of other loving relatives and friends.

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