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December 22, 2014
News Americas, PHILADELPHIA, PA, Tues. Dec. 23, 2014: A 42-year-old Jamaican national will spend the next eight months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for obtaining a U.S. passport through fraudulent statements.
Wayne Christopher Morgan was sentenced Friday some six months after he was arrested at the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). On June 5th, Morgan had arrived in Philadelphia on the evening of June 5 from Montego Bay, Jamaica and presented a U.S. passport in the name of a U.S. citizen from Florida to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.
The CBP officer referred him to a comprehensive secondary inspection where a biometric examination revealed a Department of State record on Morgan, a Jamaican citizen who was denied a U.S. visitor’s Visa in 2007.
Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and from the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) conducted the investigation and filed the arrest charges.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania prosecuted Morgan, who presented a guilty plea on September 23.
“Violating U.S. immigration law is a very serious offense and U.S. Customs and Border Protection hopes this conviction sends a strong message to deter others wishing to violate our nation’s immigration laws. This case also illustrates the tremendous collaboration between our respective law enforcement agencies to end this impostor’s charade,” said Susan Stranieri, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia.
“This criminal’s sentence is a lesson to anyone who tries to unlawfully enter our country,” said John Kelleghan, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia. “We will continue to work with CBP and other partners to safeguard our nation’s access.”
Morgan will be deported back to Jamaica after serving his time.
December 22, 2014
News Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Mon. Dec. 22, 2014: The Puerto Rican origin family of slain NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos yesterday called for peace and forgiveness as the city continued reeling from the shocking execution of two of its finest.
Officer Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu were exactly the kind of cops advocates against police brutality have long insisted on. They were born in the neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, lived there and worked there.
Officer Ramos, 40, was born in Brooklyn and lived in the same Cypress Hills section on Ridgewood Avenue where he had grown up. His family had migrated to New York from Puerto Rico and he was an older recruit to the NYPD.
Ramos had spent 14 years working for Airborne Express/DHL delivering packages. He then worked as a school safety officer from 2009 to 2012 at the Rocco Laurie School on Staten Island before joining the NYPD three years ago.
He hoped to one day be a chaplain, relatives and colleagues said but spent his spare time at the Christ Tabernacle in Queens, and had once studied at a seminary. He hoped to join the ministry when he retired from the police force and dedicated his spare time to his wife and two sons.
His partner, Officer Liu, also lived in Brooklyn. Liu’s family moved from Taishan, in Guangdong Province, China to NYC. The 32-year-old had attended the College of Staten Island and Kingsborough Community College and became an auxiliary officer before later becoming a police officer in 2007. He was a newly-wed, marrying only two months ago.
While sitting in a marked NYPD police car, in full uniform, participating in an anti-terrorism drill, both were ambushed and murdered in front of 98 Tompkins Avenue in the Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, New York City, home to a significant populations of African-Americans as well as Puerto Ricans and Dominican Americans.
Both officers were assigned to 84 Precinct, but were posted at that location as part of a NYPD’s crime reduction strategy to address the complaints of violence in the area of the Housing Developments in that area.
Officer Ramos was in the driver seat, and Officer Liu was in the front passenger seat beside him. According to witness statements, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, walked up to the police car. He took a shooting stance on the passenger side and fired his weapon several times through the front passenger window striking both officers in the head.
Officer Liu and Officer Ramos never had the opportunity to draw their weapons and may never have actually seen their assailant.
Other officers, who were also assigned to the CRV post, immediately pursued Brinsley southbound on Tompkins Avenue. Brinsley then turned westbound on Myrtle Avenue and fled into the Myrtle Avenue and Willoughby Street (G) train subway station.
He proceeded down the stairs onto the westbound subway platform. While on the platform, Brinsley shot himself in the head, took his own life. A silver semi-automatic Taurus firearm was recovered on the subway platform near the suspect’s body.
Officers Liu and Ramos were transported here, to Woodhull Hospital. Despite every effort to save their lives, both officers tragically succumbed to their injuries.
On Sunday Richard Gonzales, Ramos’ first cousin, told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria it’s time for the city to come together and forgive the killer.
“We don’t blame him. We forgive him. The Ramos family forgives him because God forgave us,” he said. “And I know if Rafael was here and it was the opposite, he would say the same words — he forgave him.”
Ramos’ aunt, Lucy Ramos, said she hopes that common ground and peace can be found within this tragedy.
“…Our beloved family member Rafael Ramos who will always be loved and missed by many. I hope and pray that we can reflect on this tragic loss of lives that have occurred so that we can move forward and find an amicable path to a peaceful coexistence,” she said.
Officer Liu’s parents and wife remain in mourning and have released no public statements.
Funeral arrangements for the two officers are yet to be announced but Officer Ramos’ relatives have insisted NYC’s Mayor Bill DeBlasio will be welcomed at his funeral despite being chastised by Police Union President, Patrick Lynch.
December 18, 2014
By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. Dec. 19, 2014: President Barack Obama’s historic executive policy changes towards Cuba, as announced on Wednesday, has many excitedly thinking of travel to the island and the return trip with those prized Cuban cigars and rum.
But hold off on the celebration just yet. The U.S. Department of Treasury and the Department of Commerce on Thursday said changes to the laws could take weeks before becoming a reality.
The Department of Commerce must first implement the remainder of the changes via amendments to its Export Administration Regulations. Under the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), regulatory amendments must be done in the coming weeks before any of the President’s policy changes will go into effect.
“None of the announced changes takes effect until the new regulations are issued,” the U.S. Department of the Treasury said Thursday.
Under the new rules announced by the President, U.S. visitors who are allowed to travel to Cuba will be able to return to the U.S. with Cuban cigars and rum worth up to $100. Those imports will only be for personal use and not for import or resale.
But as of right now, anyone who travels to Cuba and returns with cigars or rum before the OFAC rules are publicly amended, will still face criminal penalties for violation of the US rules and face fines of up to $250,000 for individuals and $1,000,000 for corporations. They may even face jail time of up to 10 years in prison. Civil penalties of up to $65,000 per violation may also be imposed by OFAC.
Ironically, OFAC does not consider cigars produced from tobacco grown and harvested in a third country from Cuban seeds to constitute a growth or product of Cuba. Therefore, the Regulations do not prevent transactions or dealing in those products by persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, as long as there is no interest of Cuba or a Cuban national, direct or indirect, in the sale of such cigars.
The U.S. State Department’s Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta S. Jacobson, yesterday reiterated the need to wait for agency changes to reporters in a briefing in D.C.
None of the announcements that the President made yesterday, go into effect immediately,” Jacobson said. “They all have to be implemented, whether it’s the restoration of diplomatic relations, which has to be processed, right – we have to do that with the Cuban Government in terms of implementation – or the regulation changes that will have to be made to expand purposeful travel to general licenses or other things. All of those will have to be done via regulatory changes that Treasury and other agencies are working on right now, and will be published as quickly as they can.”
Still the excitement over Obama’s end to 50 plus years of U.S. blockade against Cuba continues. “I haven’t been this excited about a shift in geopolitics since the Berlin Wall came down,” Lauren Burnhill, author of ‘My Summer in Havana: Coffee, Tobacco & Capitalism in Rural Cuba 1959-1985′ told News Americas.
Burnhill spent two months in Havana in 1985 after receiving a grant from the Ford Foundation and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Cuban Studies Program to research the last vestiges of private sector agriculture.
She knows firsthand what it was like to get permission to spend money on soap, beer or whatever necessities in Cuba so the President’s decision to allow Americans who are able to travel there to use their debit and credit cards resonates with her.
“What I learned (while in Cuba) was both heartwarming and a bit astonishing,” the D.C.-based Burnhill reminisced in her book. “I left Cuba with mixed feelings and I wonder to this day why massive social change remains the purview of communism and populism. Is there something inherent in democracy that makes us care less about the well-being of our fellow man / woman? How is it that the Castro managed to create a fully literate society in a few years and our “No Child Left Behind” initiative is more “Not All Children Left Behind All of the Time”? Why didn’t a literate, well-educated population lead to a more vibrant economy? Would central planning have worked if done “better” or are the politics of communism an insurmountable obstacle to sustainable growth?”
December 18, 2014
President Obama with Cuban President Raoul Castro, r., at the memorial service of South African President Nelson Mandela on December 19, 2013. The two shook hands in a historic move by Castro. (Reuters TV image)
By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Thurs. Dec. 18, 2014: A new chapter in U.S./Cuba relations was marked on Wednesday as President Barack Obama changed the country’s more than fifty year-old policy towards the Caribbean nation, going where the last 10 U.S. Presidents have refused to go and ensuring his place in the history books.
The decision astonished many around the globe with “Havana,” “Castro” and “Cuban” quickly becoming the trending words on Twitter. “We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” President Obama said in a nationally televised statement from the White House, while adding that the deal will “begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas” and move beyond a “rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”
But while many, including Caribbean leaders, celebrated the historic deal, which was also announced almost simultaneously by Cuban President Raoul Castro in Havana, the bigger question for many now is what does it all mean and how will it impact American travel to Cuba?
1: First off, don’t start making travel plans to fly from the U.S. to Cuba just yet. President Obama’s executive decisions only eases travel restrictions for Cuban and Cuban Americans wishing to visit relatives in their homeland; on entertainers seeking to perform publicly and on professional, educational and religious travel.
Ordinary tourism will still be banned under the law making it impossible to simply visit this Caribbean island for a vacation just yet.
However, those lucky American travelers given the permission to travel to the island will now be able to use credit and debit cards in Cuba and also bring back in those cherished Cuban cigars and rum – at least up to $100 worth of it. However, up to $400 worth of goods from Cuba can be brought back.
2: U.S. financial institutions will be allowed to open accounts at Cuban financial institutions and it will be easier for U.S. exporters to sell goods in Cuba.
3: More money can be sent to Cuba and limits on remittances that support humanitarian projects, the Cuban people, and the emerging Cuban private sector will be removed.
4: There will be increased telecommunications connections between the United States and Cuba.
5: Per executive order, Obama has ordered the reestablishment of an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will visit Cuba. The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, has been ordered by President Obama to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to reestablish diplomatic relations that have been severed since January of 1961.
6: The two countries, according to Obama, will advance shared interests on issues like health, migration, counterterrorism, drug trafficking and disaster response.
7: Cuba’s designation as a ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’ will be reviewed.
8: President Obama will no longer shun the Cuban leader. He will attend a regional Summit of the Americas next spring that President Castro is also to attend.
Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere Roberta Jacobson will travel to Cuba to lead the U.S. Delegation to the next round of U.S.-Cuba Migration Talks as early as next month and U.S. Secretary of State Kerry said Thursday he looks “forward to being the first Secretary of State in 60 years to visit Cuba.”
9: The US government will continue to push Cuba to improve its human rights record and advocate for democratic reforms.
10: However, this is by no means a lifting of the decades old embargo against Cuba. The U.S. Congress must pass a bill to ensure this and from the responses of the Republican controlled House, it seems unlikely that will happen soon, unless of course Pope Francis manages to convince them too – much like he did with Obama and Castro.
December 16, 2014
TORONTO, Dec. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – Ticket sales for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games are off and running, with more than 225,000 tickets already sold.
Thousands of fans are scoring their dream seats for their favourite sports, and many gold-medal competitions are selling out. There is also strong demand for tickets to the Opening Ceremony, which will feature a one-night-only performance by Cirque du Soleil.
More than 6,000 athletes from 41 countries and territories will be competing for gold at the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games. Those visiting Ontario for the Games will find welcoming communities, which will reflect the diversity of the Americas. Because Ontario has long been Canada’s top destination for new immigrants, about 50 per cent of its residents are foreign-born citizens, Toronto is among the world’s most diverse cities.
Despite strong demand, there are still tickets to some of the most popular sports, including football (soccer), rugby sevens, basketball, track and field, aquatics and artistic gymnastics. While some of the best gold-medal seats have been snapped up, there are still great seats available.
Buy your tickets now at toronto2015.org/tickets.
“We’re excited to host the Games and to invite our friends from throughout the Americas to come and cheer on their athletes and make them feel at home,” said Saäd Rafi, chief executive officer of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015).
The TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games ticket program is designed to be affordable and accessible for everyone by offering:
Affordable pricing: Tickets start at just $20, with 75 per cent of tickets priced $45 and under.
Half-price tickets for persons under 16 years of age, or 65 and over: Tickets will be offered at a 50 per cent discount — some tickets will start at $10. The number of discounted tickets is limited, so buy early.
Integrated tickets: Every event ticket will allow the holder to access transit on the day of the event.
Easy options for buying: Tickets can be purchased online at TORONTO2015.org/tickets or at 1.855.726.2015 and internationally at 1.949.333.4824.
Tickets for the TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games will go on sale in spring 2015, which promises more exciting action featuring some of the world’s best para-athletes competing for their chance to go to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
December 16, 2014
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Dec. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – APR Energy plc (LSE: APR), a global leader in fast-track power solutions, today announces that it has signed a two-year extension for its 25MW contract in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to run through late Q4 of 2016. The extension adds to APR Energy’s record number of renewals for the year, driving a success rate of over 90%.
APR Energy assumed the contract with the U.S. Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) as part of its acquisition of GE’s power rental business in October 2013. The Group provides a turnkey bridging power solution to WAPA, supporting the utility’s strategic system improvements as it converts to liquefied propane gas (LPG), a lower cost fuel alternative. The GE TM2500 turbine provided by APR Energy gives WAPA additional fuel flexibility, including the ability to operate on the cheaper LPG fuel.
Tom Caldwell, APR Energy Managing Director, Americas, stated, “We are very excited that our bridging solution continues to play a key part of WAPA’s long-term plans as it makes its system-wide improvements. APR Energy appreciates the opportunity to continue our strong relationship with WAPA and are proud to support its efforts in providing lower cost solutions for the island’s ratepayers through our highly-efficient, mobile turbine technology.”
About APR Energy
APR Energy is a global leader in large-scale, fast-track power solutions, providing customers with rapid access to reliable electricity when and where they need it. APR combines state-of-the-art, fuel-efficient technology with industry-leading expertise to provide turnkey power plants that are rapidly deployed, customizable, and scalable. Serving both utility and industrial segments, APR Energy provides power generation solutions to customers and communities around the world, with an emphasis on Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. For more information, visit the Company’s website at www.aprenergy.com.
December 15, 2014
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Dec. 16, 2014: For years the question has been asked and left unanswered, but Caribbean Americans may now have a better idea of how many undocumented Caribbean immigrants are living across the length and breadth of the United States.
Thanks to the Pew Hispanic Center’s latest report, based on augmented American Community Survey data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS); from research by Robert Warren and John Robert Warren and from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the undocumented population of Caribbean immigrants in the U.S. is estimated at around 550,000.
That’s about 100,000 more than undocumented Africans and Middle Eastern immigrants but 100K less than the undocumented population of European and Canadian immigrants living in the U.S.
The Caribbean total undocumented population as of 2012 is, however, only broken down by only three countries – the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica, sources of the largest numbers of Caribbean migrants to the U.S.
According to the Pew report, ‘Unauthorized Immigrant Population Trends for States, Birth Countries and Regions,’ there are about 170,000 Dominican Republic nationals living without legal work papers in the U.S. while there are reportedly 110,000 Haitians who are considered undocumented.
Jamaicans account for an estimated 100,000 of the unauthorized immigrant population, the Pew data showed.
By contrast, South America has more than 200,000 more undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. than the Caribbean, the statistics show, putting the South American immigrant total at 700,000.
But by far, the largest numbers of undocumented migrants are from Mexico and Central America. There are an estimated 1.7 million Central American living without legal working papers in the U.S. while there are about 5.8 million Mexicans, the Pew data revealed. Most of the Central Americans are reportedly from El Salvador and Guatemala, with 675,000 and 525,000, respectively.
Meanwhile, overall, an estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the U.S. in 2012, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007 and unchanged since 2009. Unauthorized immigrants accounted for 3.5 percent of the 2012 U.S. population of nearly 316 million and 26 percent of the nation’s 42.5 million foreign-born residents, according to the center’s new estimates.
From 2009 to 2012, according to new Pew Research Center estimates, the population of unauthorized immigrants rose in seven states and fell in 14. The population grew in Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia as well as in Idaho and Nebraska, Pew estimates.
But it declined in Massachusetts and New York as well as Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Kansas.
December 15, 2014
News Americas, CUCUTA, Colombia, Tues. Dec. 16, 2014: Javier Orlando Palencia-Murillo, a 23-year-old Colombian predator who allegedly coerced 50 children to videotape and photograph themselves performing sexual acts, was arrested in Colombia Friday by an international team of officers and special agents.
Palencia-Murillo allegedly used social media to recruit and coerce his victims into sending him pornographic images. His victims were all males between the ages of 10 and 16.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Attaché Office in Colombia and the Colombian National Police’s Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (TCIU) conducted the investigation that led to the arrest of Palencia-Murillo.
The Colombian Attorney General’s Office is handling the prosecution of the case. Palencia-Murillo is charged with the production, possession and distribution of child pornography. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison.
The investigation was launched following a tip from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.
“Predators who think they can hide behind the anonymity of cyberspace are sorely mistaken,” said HSI Bogota Attaché Luis Sierra. “The law enforcement community in Colombia and the U.S. is committed to identifying the monsters who prey on our innocent children.”
Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
December 14, 2014
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Dec. 15, 2014: They came from all classes and walks of life and were of all colors and races but on Saturday they were united in one cause – to bring attention to the black lives that continue to be lost to police across the United States.
Bearing signs much and marching in the thousands much like they did in the pre-civil rights days of Selma and Montgomery, they took to the streets of New York City to voice outrage at the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Ferguson and Akai Gurley among others under the watchful eyes of the NYPD.
NYPD officers walked along with the peaceful crowd who included several celebrities including Rap Mogul Russell Simmons and some of the cast from Orange is the New Black.
Though no where near a million, they were definitely out in the thousands as part of the Millions March NYC rally. From the headquarters of the NYPD downtown, to mid-town Manhattan, their chants of “hands up don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” filled the cold air.
Million Hoodies, an organization that works to empower young people of color and protect them from racial profiling, was there to support the march. Their director, Dante Barry, said that they were there to march to put pressure on a flawed system.
“It’s important for us to be mobilizing,” he said. “And being able to pressure our folks in the system to say ‘No more. Enough is enough. Black lives DO matter.’”
December 14, 2014
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Dec. 15, 2014: The New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has slammed CARICOM Chairman and Prime of Antigua & Barbuda, Gaston Browne, over his comments on the proroguing of the Guyana Parliament
The assertion by Prime Minister Browne that CARICOM respects the right of Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar to prorogue Parliament is repugnant to the constitution and people of Guyana, and incongruous with democratic values, CGID President Rickord Burke said in a statement over the weekend.
Burke’s comments come on the heels of the Guyana Stabroek News paper quoting PM Brown as saying CARICOM will “respect the (Guyana) President’s judgment and Constitutional right,” to suspend the legislative branch of government.
Brown held that CARICOM was sufficiently satisfied that the President Ramotar’s decision was not intended as an abuse of power and that the community was duly satisfied that the creation of an autocratic state was not the intention behind the prorogation. He said given assurances that Ramotar will make an announcement on General Elections early in 2015 the Community is “not too concerned at this point” over the prorogation of the Guyanese Parliament.
He also was quoted as saying CARICOM will be keenly watching how the situation plays out in the coming months and should Ramotar renege on his commitment to name a date for General Elections, CARICOM is committed to engaging as mediators.
Burke slammed Brown’s comments as “uninformed and vacuous.” He also accused CARICOM of demonstrating partiality towards the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
This posture is analogous to abandonment of the “Caricom Charter of Civil Societies” and the democratic process, Burke said.
“I am left to ponder whether or not Prime Minister Brown believes that the arbitrarily suspension of his nation’s Parliament to obstruct the people’s elected representatives from fulfilling a constitutional mandate would be acceptable to the good people of Antigua & Barbuda,” Burke questioned.
The CGID President said regardless of what Brown claims, the result of the constitutional breakdown in Guyana is the emergence of an authoritarian State and a creeping dictator who is ruling by decree.
“It is disgraceful for CARICOM to countenance a lawless dictatorship that has imposed “one party rule” in the Member State where the Community has its headquarters,” he maintained adding that “if a mere expression of intent to call elections has arguably assuaged CARICOM Leaders, then those Leaders are credulous and apathetic to the abridgment of the inalienable rights of a majority of Guyanese.”
Guyana’s President Ramotar on November 10th abruptly suspended the nation’s Parliament to prevent the passage of a no-confidence motion against his government. The edict came as Members of Parliament (MP) assembled to debate the motion by the opposition Alliance for Change (AFC).
The combined opposition controls the 65 seat House with a majority of 33 seat; 7 from the AFC and 26 from the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). The government is in the minority with 32 seats. All 33 opposition MPs registered their support for the motion. Hence its passage was guaranteed. Had the motion passed, the government would have had to resign immediately and call general elections within 90 days. Guyana’s presidential and parliamentary elections are separate but simultaneous. The party with a plurality of votes in the presidential elections attains the presidency and forms the government.
Ramotar in an address to the nation on December 6th, vowed not to recall the Parliament but failed to call elections. Opposition leaders promptly branded him as a dictator who is acting extra-constitutionally to hang on to power. They demanded that the embattled President set a date for elections – a demand that he has ignored to date. He has instead said he will call early elections in the New Year, quite possibly before the April 30 deadline for the passage of a National Budget.