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Call for improved standards in nursing education

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The principal tutor at the Antigua State College School of Nursing, Margaret Smith, has called for a new nursing school to bring the facility in line with international standards.

Nurses are currently being trained at the former Barrymore Hotel and Smith has said that the plant is “very inadequate.”

“We would like to get that improved,” she said.

According to Smith, since its inception in 1956, the school has never had a permanent home.

“We would like to get our own building. We’ve never had a proper building,” the principal tutor told state media.

She made an appeal “to the relevant authorities that we really need a building right now.

“The location is inappropriate because of all the buildings that are around there. We also need proper skills,” she added.

Seventy-three students, mainly female, attend the school of nursing. At the end of their training, nurses receive a diploma but Smith said plans are in the pipeline to have a full-fledged degree programme for nurses.

She said internationally, the entry level of nurses is a bachelor’s degree “and we are hoping that we do get there soon because that’s where the world is going.”

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Nibbs confirms Burton will be on ALP ticket

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Barbuda caretaker for the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party Arthur Nibbs is standing by his party’s nomination of Elvis Burton to contest a Barbuda council seat.

Nibbs said recent allegations about Burton were engineered by the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) to defame his character ahead of the Barbuda Council election on Friday.

“Politics relies a lot on perception and all (they) are trying to do is to let go something out there to bring some shadow of doubt on the character of Mr Burton,” he said.

Late last week, it was revealed that someone with the name Elvis Burton – the same name as the Barbuda council candidate – was involved in a case of kidnapping, ransom and drug dealing in the US Virgin Islands in 2004.

“There is no evidence,” Nibbs said. “Mr Burton has never been charged by any court of law for the allegations that they are making.”

He added that the BPM was attempting to distract the Barbuda people from what he deemed were their failures in the past.

“I think they should concentrate on telling the people what plans and programmes they have going forward rather to be involved in what I would call character assassination,” the ALP caretaker said.

Nibbs confirmed that Burton would be on the ALP ticket in Friday’s election.

“He has been duly nominated on March 11. He has passed the qualifications for his nomination, so he will be up for election on the 22. That’s about it,” Nibbs said.

“It is now up to the people of Barbuda to decide who they want to be members of the council and not to be found caught up in allegations and scandals about individuals.”

On March 22, Barbudans will go to the polls to elect candidates to fill five vacant seats on the Barbuda Council.

For the BPM, the candidates confirmed are Wade Burton, Paul Nedd, Kazim Thomas, Kelvin Punter and Fabian Jones.

For the ALP, Bernard Newton, Tyron Beazer, Burton, Calvin Gore and David Shaw were nominated.

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Villa resident gunned down

The body of Jermaine “Six Months” Destin is being taken into a waiting hurst after the father of two was fatally shot in the head and chest on Athill Street in Villa last night.

Jermaine “Six Months” Destin

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Thirty-five year old Villa resident Jermaine “Six Months” Destin was gunned downed in his village last night.
The father of two, who was reportedly shot in the head and chest, collapsed and died on the spot.
Residents, admittedly fearful of being targeted in the troubled community, recounted the details of the incident on condition of anonymity.
One man reported hearing three gunshots around 8:15 pm. The shooter was reportedly on foot.
The “boys on the block” disappeared, he said, and then many residents began crawling from their homes to investigate after several minutes had elapsed.
There, they found the victim sprawled in the middle of Athill Street, an area that is usually dark at night.
The body remained there for hours, while police combed the scene for evidence and scores of residents whispered the tales of Destin’s reportedly troubled life.
Police cordoned off the scene, preventing curious onlookers from getting close to the deceased.
Lawmen are investigating the killing and had no suspects in custody last night, sources said.
Destin is the second person gunned down this year.
The first homicide victim was 38-year-old Susan “Sue” Powell, who was shot in the head by an assailant on February 26. That incident occurred in Heritage Quay around 1:20 pm.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)

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Police issue apology in defamation case

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Police have issued a public apology to Captain France Rouxelin of the Antigua & Barbuda Defence Force (ABDF) following settlement of a defamation case involving the officer.

While the details of the settlement were unknown up to press time, the matter relates to information that was contained in a March 26, 2010 press statement issued by the Strategic Communications Department in which the captain was accused of wrongdoing.

The statement was publicised in print and broadcast media and several media entities, including OSBERVER, had issued an apology since 2010.

In its apology, the police force wrote, “The Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda sincerely apologises to Captain France Rouxelin, who has distinguished himself as a man of integrity.”

“We say unreservedly that the publication by us in our crime reporting was not intentionally designed or deliberately published to cause harm or injury to Captain Rouxelin and was free of any malice aforethought,” it continued.

Captain Rouxelin, who is overseas studying, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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High court keeps Boundaries Commission injunction intact

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The injunction barring the Boundaries Commission from submitting a report proposing boundaries changes will remain in place, at least until April 11.

Justice Clare Henry granted the extension in the High Court yesterday, in a hearing involving the applicants – Antigua Labour Party (ALP) MPs Asot Michael and Lester Bird versus the Boundaries Commission, Attorney General Justin Simon QC and the attorney general on behalf of the governor general.

Up until yesterday, Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer and Speaker of the House D Gisele Isaac were named as respondents in the application filed on March 11.

However, following Simon’s submissions, their names were struck from the claim as well as from the injunction.

Simon said that was done in light of the fact that the commission’s report had not been submitted to the speaker at the time the ALP officials had obtained the injunction.

And, further, according to him, it was necessary because the prime minister would have had to “receive the report from the speaker to lay it on the table of the House of Representatives in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.”

Come April 11, Simon QC said the court will have its first hearing regarding the substantive matter and would give directions to the parties on the way forward.

As soon as the High Court opened for business at 8:30 am March 11, MPs Michael and Bird applied for and obtained the injunction in an ex-parte (in the absence of the named respondents) hearing.

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Canadian tourist charged with cocaine possession

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Canadian tourist caught with cocaine at the airport on Sunday has been charged with possession, intent to transfer and drug trafficking.

The 32-year-old, Maria Cathrina Bertrand, was allegedly attempting to traffic six and a quarter pounds of cocaine out of Antigua, valuing $99,596.

Bertrand is expected to appear in court before a magistrate this week. However, given the fact the quantity of cocaine exceeds two kilograms, the police prosecution would have to prove to the magistrate that a prima facie case (at first glance) exists.

The magistrate would then refer the matter to the High Court for trial.

According to a police press statement, it is alleged that during a routine security check by airport security personnel, Bertrand was caught with two packages strapped to her thighs.

Upon examining the packages, the authorities found the Class A substance.

Officers from the Narcotics Department subsequently took her into custody where she remained up to press time.

At the time of her arrest, Bertrand was preparing to return to Canada with her daughters ages eight and 10.

Reports indicate she spent approximately one week in Antigua.

Meantime, the UK citizen caught with cocaine at the airport Saturday afternoon is also expected in court this week.

Seventy-one-year-old Vernon Marshall Dyer was nabbed with six pounds of cocaine moments before he was scheduled to board a Virgin Atlantic flight back to Liverpool, UK. He was charged with possession, possession with intent to transfer and drug trafficking.

Dyer, who spent about 10 days in Antigua, also allegedly had the packages containing the cocaine strapped to his thighs and waist.

The substance, police said, carries an estimated street value of $95,612.

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Not electing ‘undesirables’ only way to deal with unfit candidates – James

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Secretary of the Free and Fair Elections League, George Rick James said the people of Barbuda would have to wait until the polls open Friday to prevent undesirables from taking a seat on the Barbuda Council.

“If enough people are of a similar mind that someone is considered an undesirable person to represent the people of Barbuda on the council, on the day of elections, they can make that decision by not electing that person,” James said.

“Apart from that, I don’t think there is any other way that they could challenge that nomination based on the past of the individual.”

It was revealed late last week that someone with the name Elvis Burton – the same name as a Barbuda council candidate – was involved in a case of kidnapping, ransom and drug dealing in the US Virgin Islands in 2004.

The association secretary said the election league was contacted by a prominent citizen from Barbuda expressing concern about the past of a particular individual. James said the concerned citizen was advised that the rules of the Representation of the People’s Act were limited in such a situation.

“There does not appear to be any provision in the election laws to deny someone from putting themself forward based on their past activities, however shady they might be,” he said.

“Anyone who wants to run – providing that they fill out the nomination paper in accordance with the law – they have one person witnessing their nominations, and the information they give on that nomination paper is correct, then there is nothing to be done in challenging that nomination.”

James, speaking generally, said parties have to do a better job in vetting candidates vying for office.

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UPP wants third term to address ‘unfinished business’

Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer addresses delegates at the 9th biennial UPP Convention at the Multi-Purpose Cultural Centre at Perry Bay on Saturday. (Photo by Eustace Samuel/OBSERVER media)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – With general elections constitutionally due in 2014, an apologetic United Progressive Party (UPP) leader and current prime minister Baldwin Spencer beckoned supporters to give the party a third term to address “unfinished business.”

Speaking at the opening of the 9th biennial UPP Convention on Saturday, Spencer stressed the party needs more time to rebuild the nation.

Yesterday, Spencer was elected UPP political leader for the sixth time.

He told party supporters, “I am not suggesting to you that the way forward is going to be easy. I am not going to suggest to you that we have it on a platter. What I can say to you is that with hard work, determination and a burning desire to dedicate ourselves to the task we can do it, we will do it and we must do it.”

Spencer said some of the party’s plans for development during its nine-year tenure were hampered by mistakes made, and the 19-month long elections petition case that started shortly after the party won its second term in office in 2009.

“We didn’t get it all right. Mistakes have been made and when we look back on certain things and ask ourselves if we had to do some of these things again, we would do them differently, but that is all part of the process. We are not perfect,” he said.

The UPP leader urged party stalwarts and other supporters to set aside their differences and focus on what he called “the bigger picture.”

Spencer, who was unchallenged in his bid to lead the party said, “We are on high alert and ready for the battle ahead”, before adding, “We’ll do whatever it takes to keep the party in safe and sane hands.”

Meantime, reacting to the UPP’s plea for a third term, Antigua Labour Party (ALP) leader Gaston Browne, said the ruling party doesn’t deserve another term.

On several occasions, opposition officials have accused the UPP of poor management and said its leaders are responsible for the current financial crisis in Antigua & Barbuda.

Browne said although the labour party is guilty of sin, the UPP has done the most harm to the country and in a very short space of time.

“The UPP didn’t make mistakes, they made blunders. What we are experiencing now is a combination of mangled policies and programmes, missed opportunities, incompetence and corruption,” Browne said yesterday.

He described the UPP leader’s remarks as vacuous, angry, apologetic and devoid of responsibility because “Spencer has blamed everyone – including the global economic crisis, former government, BAICO, Stanford and everyone else for failures of the UPP.”

Browne also noted the change of government from ALP to UPP from 2004 “has been for the worse” and “team labour and Gaston Browne are promising people change for the better and will deliver.”

 

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Economist suggests reducing public servants’ salary

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Professor Avinash Persaud, a Barbados-based economist, said rather than laying-off workers, government should ask public servants to accept a reduction in their wages to tackle the nation’s cash flow problems.

“I think it’s probably better to maintain levels of employment and ask people to have some adjustments in their wages.”

He was responding to comments by Minister of Finance Harold Lovell, who asserted that government had to either cut the wage bill, raise taxes or delay wage payments, to deal with its fiscal issues.

“I don’t think that any of those choices are attractive. I don’t think that there is a choice that is necessarily better than another,” the professor said.

“In the long run we cannot cut our way to recovery,” Persaud said, while speaking on OBSERVER Radio’s The Big Issues, Sunday.

He added, “We need to make sure that we do the necessary restructuring otherwise cuts will be followed by further cuts.”

Persaud’s statements come after a week of protest by teachers who withheld their services because of the late payment of their salaries.

The non-payment of teachers and other civil servants highlighted government’s current financial challenges. Last week, Lovell said government was having a hard time meeting its wage bill, which exceeds 50 per cent of its expenditure.

The economist said government faces tough decisions, none of which have a happy political ending.

“There is no option that will not have a political cost. There are no easy options,” he insisted.

“Our governments for too long have been in pursuit of easy options and that’s why we are in the position we are today.”

Persaud, a financial advisor, said government needs to increase revenues if it is to make lasting improvement to the economy of Antigua & Barbuda.

“Ultimately we need to raise our revenues rather than cut our costs. But raising revenues takes time and therefore we need to find some short term adjustments,” he said.

He admitted that while government’s Citizenship by Investment Programme has the potential to increase revenues it is not sufficient to solve the fiscal problem.

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Millions more needed to continue Cathedral restoration

The floor of the St John’s Cathedral currently under construction as part of phase-one of the restoration project. (Photo compliments www.stjohnsrestoration.blogspot.com)

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Worshippers at the Cathedral of St John the Divine could be back inside the historic building by the middle of 2014. The construction needed to get to that point, however, will cost millions of dollars more.

“That would call for expenditure over the next 18 months greater than what we have spent in the last three years,” Cathedral Restoration Project Manager Bruce Arrindell said.

“We really don’t have the funds to drive that as we speak right now. So in terms of the timeline for us to get back into the cathedral, everything is dependent on fund-raising.”

Arrindell said the remainder of phase-one of the restoration project will cost between four and five million dollars, while close to three million has been spent over the last three years.

“There are four phases to the cathedral restoration and it is a complete restoration of not only the building, but the church yard as well,” he said.

“We have designed phase-one to allow us to get back into the cathedral to start worshipping while the other phases will continue while we are worshipping.”

Phase-one will see the entire interior of the cathedral restored – including a brand new roof, ceiling, walls, floor, and brand new pews. The roof was completed last April.

“Once that phase is completed our attention will shift to the exterior of the cathedral and we will start addressing the deteriorating walls on the outside,” Arrindell said.

Arrindell warned that if there is not a constant flow of funds, the construction timeline could be severely compromised.

“Fund-raising needs to be ramped up or else the restoration is going to drag,” he said.

“It’s going to be a number of years before we get back in the building.”

Chair of the short-term fundraising committee Heather Bailey said several fund-raising events are planned for 2013.

On April 19, the committee will be hosting Nostalgia 2 under the theme A Walk Down Memory Lane.

Taking place at Splash, Fort James, patrons are invited to dress elegantly. Tickets cost $125 each.

A necklace donated by Abbotts Jewellery will be up for auction.

Interested person can follow the progress of the Cathedral’s restoration by visiting the website stjohnsrestoration.blogspot.com.

 

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