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Volume No. 2 Issue No. 12 - September 11, 2007
The News in Brief from The Dominican.net News Desk


Roseau, Dominica – September 6, 2007
Public Works minister Leads Delegation to China

Minister for Public Works and Public Utilities, Hon. Ambrose George is leading a high level nineteen member delegation of Cabinet Ministers, senior Public Sector Officials and private sector personnel to the second China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum in China.

The Forum will take place in Xiamen, People’s Republic of China from September 7-8, 2007.

It is expected that the forum will lead to the further strengthening of diplomatic relations between the Commonwealth of Dominica, China’s other diplomatic allies around the world and the People’s Republic of China.

Dominica participated in the first China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum in Jamaica in 2005 less than one year after it had established diplomatic relations with the PRC.

The main highlights of that meeting in Jamaica were Dominica’s signing of the Guiding Framework of Economic and Trade Cooperation and the announcement by His Excellency Zeng Qinghong, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China that Dominica was included on the list of authorized tourist destinations for Chinese citizens.

Another outcome of the forum was enhanced bilateral cooperation as well as the exploration of new areas of cooperation to include cooperation in trade, investment and enterprise, agriculture, tourism and transportation, engineering and construction, natural resources and the development of human resources.

Roseau, Dominica – September 3, 2007
More Dominican Students to Study in China

The Government of the People’s Republic of China continues to deliver to the people of Dominica with the provision of another twenty (20) full scholarships to twenty young Dominicans. Most of the students have already left Dominica for China.

The Dominicans will pursue undergraduate degrees in the following areas: Electrical Information Engineering; Fine Arts/Artistic Design; Telecommunications/Network Engineering; Computer Science and Technology; Environmental Engineering; Thermal Energy and Power Engineering; Criminal Justice; Electrical Information Engineering; Nursing; Management Information Systems; Medical Psychology; Marketing Management; Information Engineering; Computer Science; International Relations; Psychology; Economics and Human Resource Management.

The provision of the twenty scholarships in 2007 takes to thirty-five (35) the number of Dominicans that have been awarded full scholarships to study in China. This is remarkable achievement bearing in mind that in the memorandum of understanding which was signed following the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2004 the Chinese Government agreed to provide thirty scholarships over a five year period.

It is the hope of both the Dominican and Chinese Governments that the Dominican students studying in China will serve as envoys building another bridge of friendship between the two countries and peoples.

Roseau, Dominica - August 24, 2007
Dramatic photos of Hurricane Dean

Dominica was spared the worse of Dean as it barreled through the region with winds in excess of 150 miles per hour. The most dramatic images of the storm as it ravaged Dominica can now be found at The Dominican.net and at eliteproserver.com

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados - August 24, 2007
CDB releases hurricane relief money

Emergency funds from the Caribbean Development Bank should be flowing to hurricane-affected member states by today.

The bank said it has been in contact with the affected countries to ascertain the level of assistance.

It provides help in three ways.

One is an immediate response loan for up to US$500,000 to meet expenses for the clearing and cleaning of affected areas and for emergency restoration of services.

Another is up to US$100,000 for rapid initial assessment and emergency relief aid.

The third is rehabilitation assistance where the bank will provide long term long interest loans for reconstruction where the damage has been severe.

CDB borrowing member countries affected by Hurricane Dean last week were Dominica, Haiti, Jamaica, and St Lucia.

Roseau - Monday, August 20, 2007
Jamaica Survives Dean with Minimal Damage

The government of Jamaica has downgraded the hurricane warning to a tropical storm warning as Hurricane Dean moves farther away from the island. The TS warning is likely to be lowered early this afternoon.

The Jamaica Tourist Board reports:

There’s minimal damage to the north coast (resort areas)
The airport in Montego Bay is currently opened for emergencies
Both airports (Kingston and Montego Bay) are expected to re open for commercial flights at about 1:00 p.m. local time (2:00 p.m. EDT)
There are an estimated 10,000 guests in hotels, most opted to stay and ride the storm
Cellular phones are working but it may be difficult to get through

Meanwhile one death was reported as a direct result of the storm when the hurricane picked up a man driving in his vehicle at 12:40 am, and slammed them into a utility pole.

Roseau - Saturday, August 18, 2007
Dominica Begins to Recover from Hurricane Dean

Dominica continues to recover from the damaging effects of hurricane Dean as residents tried to return to a sense of normalcy.

Damage reports were beginning to come in suggesting significant damage to some buildings, massive crop damage, and some damage to roads. Two individuals also tragically lost their lives.

Vilagers of Campbell were mourning the death of twenty-five year old Juliet Espirit and her seven year old son Jimmy, who died after a mud slide covered their home. Espirit was a clerk at the village council.

The airport authority is reporting that the airports will open at noon today. However, the traditional route through Pond Case is blocked and people hoping to get to the airport were being urged to travel via Porstmouth.

Residents from several communities have been calling local radio stations to report on property and road damage. Villagers are organizing to clear debris from the roads.

Meanwhile, a group of medical personnel and supplies will arrive from Venezuela on Saturday to help in the health services.

Roseau – Thursday 16, 2007
Dean makes landfall with 70 mph winds

Hurricane force winds battered Dominica, St Lucia and Martinique on Friday morning as hurricane Dean made landfall. The eye of the fast moving storm with sustained winds of 115 miles per hour passed right over Martinique.

Residents on Dominica were reporting heavy damage to crops and some flooding, as Dean pounded the island with rain and high winds.

Hurricane warnings were earlier issued for the islands of Dominica and St. Lucia by their respective governments, and France issued warnings for Guadeloupe, Martinique and its dependancies. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area within the next 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

Dean is moving toward the west near 24 mph (39 km/hr) and this motion is expected to continue for the next 24 hours. This motion should bring the center of dean near the Lesser Antilles early Friday.

At 5:00 pm the center of hurricane Dean was located near latitude 14.0 north longitude 56.5 west or about 210 miles (335 km) east-northeast of Barbados and about 305 miles (490 km) east of Martinique.

Maximum sustained winds are near 100 mph (120 km/hr) with higher gusts. Dean is now a category two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours. An air force reserve hurricane hunter aircraft will investigate Dean this afternoon.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km).

VISIT OUR MESSAGEBOARD AND LET DOMINICA KNOW YOU CARE

Roseau – August 15, 2007
Hurricane Watches Issued for Dominica and Other Eastern Caribbean Islands

At 11 pm on Wednesday, August 15, 2007, hurricane watches were issued for St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe and its dependencies, Saba and St. Eustatius.

A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area generally within 36 hours.

At 1100 pm the center of tropical storm Dean was located near latitude 13.1 north longitude 50.2 west or about 625 miles or 1005 km East of Barbados.

Dean is moving toward the west near 23 mph (37 km/hr) and this motion is expected to continue during the next 24 hours.

Maximum sustained winds are near 70 mph (110 km/hr) with higher gusts. Some strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours and Dean is expected to become a hurricane on Thursday. An air force reserve hurricane hunter aircraft will investigate Dean tomorrow afternoon.

Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center.

Roseau – August 15, 2007
Models show Tropical Storm Dean Headed Directly for Dominica

Tropical storm Dean which formed in the Atlantic on Monday is said to be headed directly for Dominica.

Chief Disaster Coordinator Cecil Shillingford said that all computer models are currently predicting that Dominica will either receive a direct hit or that the storm will pass just South of the island.

Models also predict that the storm will strengthen and become a hurricane before reaching land. At 12 pm on Wednesday, August 15, the storm was about 1045 miles East of Dominica with sustained winds of about 50 MPH.

According to Shillingford, the storm is expected to strengthen and by the time it reaches Dominica the winds should be about 90 MPH. He urged Dominicans to “prepare for the worse case” and to seek sturdy shelter by early Friday morning.

Portsmouth – August 15, 2007
Labour Party Celebrates Fifty Years of Power in Portsmouth

The Dominica Labour Party (DLP) was today celebrating fifty years of continued representation of the people of the town of Portsmouth.

Beginning with an election victory by former Premier E. O Leblanc in 1957, Portsmouth has remained firmly under Labour rule. Leblanc was followed by Earl Leslie, Michael Douglas, Rosie Douglas and current member Ian Douglas.

Interestingly, Labour was not in control of the government for twenty of the fifty years.

Roseau – August 11, 2007
Lineup for Eleventh World Creole Music Festival Announced

The Dominica Festival Committee has announced the performers who will participate in this year’s World Creole Music Festival in Dominica from October 26 – 28, 2007.

On Friday October 26 the stage will feature Beenie man (Jamaica), Manu Dibango (Africa), Top Vice (Haiti) and Kadans and triple Kay (Dominica).

Saturday October 27 will see on stage Djunny Claude (Africa), Shurwane Winchester (Trinidad), Berres Hammond (Jamaica) and WCk (Dominica).

On the final day performances will come from Bamboolaz 9martinique), Kassav (Guadeloupe), Michele Henderson, Grammacks International, and Midnight Groovers all from Dominica.

This is the eleventh year of the hosting of the event and it is expected that BET Jazz will once again record the performances for future showings on their network.

View the official World Creole Music Website

Roseau – August 10, 2007
Renowned Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr. Bernard Sorhaindo Dies

Dr Bernard Sorhaindo , renowned Caribbean Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, died the morning of Aug 3 ,2007 in the Intensive Care Unit, UWI Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica. His wife Althea and daughter Arlene were with him. Dominican Prime Minister Skerrit said he was "a true son of the soil who touched the lives of many Dominicans. "

He is survived by his loving wife Althea, 3 children Mark and Arlene both medical graduates of UWI, David, his 8 grandchildren, his brothers and sisters.

Roseau, Dominica – August 10, 2007
Prime Minister Skeritt Heads Petrocaribe delegation

Dominica’s Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit is leading a six member delegation from the Commonwealth of Dominica to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to attend the 3rd PetroCaribe Summit.

The delegation which left Dominica for Caracas earlier today includes the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Labour, Hon. Charles Savarin, Minister for Housing, Lands, Telecommunications, Energy & Ports, Hon. Reginald Austrie, Minister for Economic Development and Planning, Hon. Julius Timothy, Mr. Floyd Capitolin from the Office of the Prime Minister and Mr. Rennethe Alexis, Businessman.

The PetroCaribe initiative, born in an era of soaring oil prices, is the brainchild of Venezuelan President, His Excellency, Hugo Chavez Frias. It is intended to contribute to energy security, socio-economic development and the integration and transformation of Caribbean and Latin American countries.

Countries that are members of PetroCaribe are Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Dominican Republic, Suriname, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Bahamas, Guyana, Cuba and Jamaica.

In the absence of Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit from the state, Minister for Public Works and Public Utilities, Hon. Ambrose George is acting as Prime Minister.

Roseau – August 9, 2007
Dominicans Welcome Leandra Lander – Reigning Miss Caribbean 2007

Hundreds of Dominicans lined the streets of Roseau to welcome home Leandra Lander who won the coveted Miss Caribbean Beauty Pageant held in Antigua over the weekend. She was escorted in motorcade through the streets of the capital waving joyously to the hundreds of onlookers. Police provided escort and flag-wavers matched in procession.

Lander became the first Dominican in twenty-one years to win the coveted title after Diane Francis did so in 1986. Only two other Dominicans have won in the 46 year history of the event: Kathleen Telemacque in 1973 and Marie Louise Rock in 1975. The title was also the fourth won by the talented Dominican beauty, and she is on course to tie the five crowns won by Marcella Larocque during her reign as Miss Dominica.

Roseau – August 7, 2007
Michael Asthaphan elected Freedom Party Leader

Local businessman Michael Asthaphan was on Sunday elected leader of the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP).

Asthaphan replaces current foreign affairs minister Charles Sevarin who resigned the position last year. In the 2005 elections, the party failed to secure any seats in the country’s parliament and has embarked on an aggressive campaign of rebuilding ever since.

The DFP ruled Dominica from 1980 to 1995 under the leadership of Dame Mary Eugenia Charles.

The election of Asthaphan comes just three years before the next constitutionally due elections in 2010. Dominica currently has four registered political parties: The ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) led by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt; the opposition United Workers party (UWP) led by lawyer Earl Williams; the Dominica Freedom Party headed by businessman Michael Asthaphan and the Dominica Progressive Party headed by historian/lawyer Para Riviere.

Canefield – August 7, 2007
Canefield branch of J. Asthaphan and Co. destroyed by fire

A major fire over the weekend completely destroyed the Canefield branch of local business J. Astaphans & Company 1970. Ltd. The branch, housing the automobile department, spare parts, foam and furniture was completely destroyed by the fire on Saturday evening.

The fire which begun at about 7:30 in the evening immediately engulfed the entire complex.

Fire officials and onlookers successfully removed several vehicles around the building but could do nothing to save the contents inside of the complex.

It took the fire department several hours to get the fire under control.

Meanwhile, the cause of the fire has not been determined but fire officials say that arson is not suspected.

The fire at J. Asthaphan and company is just one of several that have destroyed several prominent businesses in Roseau over the past several years.

Rio – July 30, 2007
Dominica secures Bronze medal in Pan American Games

Dominica’s Chris Lloyd ran an impressive time of 45.40 seconds to place third in the mens 400M competition at the Pan American Games in Brazil.

This is the second medal ever for Dominica at the Pan Am Games - Jerome Romain (currently Dominica’s Team Coach at the Games) won a silver medal in the Triple Jump in 1995 and then went on to win a bronze at the World Championship in the same year.

Just two weeks ago, Lloyd won the 200m at the NACAC Championship in the United States.

He now has his eyes set on competing in the IAAF World Championship (WC) in Japan at the end of August. Lloyd has a good chance to repeat Jerome's success story of 1995. So far, he is the only Dominican to have qualifed for the World Championships.

Meanwhile, youth phenom Brendan Williams jumped 2.18m in the under 20 Pan American Games high jump event to break his own National Record in that event.

Roseau – July 30, 2007
Electricity Bill Set to Fall by 6 percent
Dominican electricity consumers will see their electricity bills fall as a result of a decision by the Government to reduce the excise tax on fuel used by DOMLEC.

That announcement was made by Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Planning, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit in his presentation of the 2007/2008 Budget last week.

The reduction in the excise tax on fuel by DOMLEC will reduce electricity bills by approximately 6% or $0.968 per KWH. This reduction in Excise Tax will further result in a reduction of the VAT of $0.01 per KWH, giving total relief to consumers of $0.0782 on the dollar.

The Prime Minister informed the nation that prior to the budget, the Government had met DOMLEC and sought their agreement to match Government’s reduction in Excise Tax of $0.068 per KWH “with an equivalent reduction on their side from efficiency enhancements”.

According to the Prime Minister DOMLEC turned down the Government’s offer and offered a “mere $0.02 per KWH, subject to certain conditions including payment arrears”.

“Madam Speaker, Government accepts their offer of 2 cents per KWH but reject their conditions,” the Prime Minister revealed.

The 50% reduction in Excise Tax plus the 2 cents per KWH reduction offered by DOMLEC will result in total savings of 10.12 cents per KWH inclusive of VAT.

It was revealed by the Prime Minister that total removal of the excise tax on fuel would result in a 12% reduction in the bills of consumers, or 13.6 cents per KWH and would result in a revenue loss of $9.0 million.

Hon. Skerrit also explained that the reductions announced in the Budget could quickly be cancelled out by the continued upward movement in world oil prices and added that it “is the movement in world oil prices that is mainly responsible for changes in average tariffs”.

Roseau – July 30, 2007
Players Selected for Volleyball National Team Competition

Twenty men and twenty women have been selected to begin training for Dominica’s national Volleyball team.

The men selected are: David Toussaint, Germain Ettiene, Reginald Thomas, Ray Robinson, Sherwin James, Julian Seraphine, Ronald Bruno, Albert Dalrymple, Bruno Fegaro, Clint Henderson, Sylvester Jno Baptiste, Itoma James, Stephenson James, Affnel Warrington, Kevin Richards, Dexter Daniel, Richard Blanchard, Kervin James, Jason Robin, Yannick Bruno, and Shane Guiste.

The women are: Samantha Smith, Anna Maria Xavier, Elizabeth Joseph, Jennifer Nanton, Catherine Francis, Joycelyn loblack, Nadia Williams, irma Williams, Keysha Davis, Lisa James, Samantha Charles, Joanne Bleau, Amelia Joseph, Alexia Alfred, Karana Thomas, Kerine Prince, Juanita Lawrence, Karana Roberts, Lorel Bedminister, Kemisha Celaire and Safraz Jno jules

Training for the men begins on Monday at Cable and Wireless in Canefield at 6:00 p.m, and for the women at the same venue starting on Tuesday from 5:30 p.m.

Roseau – July 24, 2007
PSU Rejects Government’s Offer of a 3 Percent Wage Hike

General Secretary of the Public Service Union (PSU), Thomas Letang is rejecting government’s offer of a 2 percent and 1 percent salary increase in 2007/08 and 2008/09 respectively.

Letang said that while his union accepted the 3 percent increase in the current fiscal year, they were not prepared to go along with a 1 and 2 percent increase since this was well below the rate of inflation and workers real wage would suffer.

In making his comments to the local press, Letang indicated that his union was not happy with government’s proposed 52 percent increase on average for all ministers and parliamentarians.

In 2003, the PSU accepted a 5 percent pay cut, which was removed in 2005.

Roseau – July 23, 2007
Police arrest eight men in Dominican waters

Police in Dominica say that they have arrested eight men in waters just outside of Grand Bay.

The men believed to be Venezuelans were spotted on board a boat that was approaching the island. The boat was shadowed for several hours by the Dominica coast guard before it was boarded and the arrest effected.

Police Public Relations Officer Jefferson Ferrol says that over a million dollars in cash was found onboard and only one of the men carried identification. In that case, he was carrying a Venezuelan identity card.

The men were charged with trying to enter the country illegally and for failing to declare the cash in their possession. They will appear before a local magistrate later this week.

Roseau – July 18, 2007
Judge Brian Alleyne Knighted by Queen Elizabeth

Dominican judge Brian Alleyne who currently serves as Acting Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeals was recently knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

The knighthood was bestowed by the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, the Queen’s representative. As a result of the knighthood, Brian Alleyne now assumes the title of “Sir”.

Sir Brian Alleyne served as Dominica’s Attorney General under the Eugenia Charles government and has been with the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeals since 1995.

The late Dominica President Sir Clarence Seignoret was also similarly knighted by the Queen and the title of Dame was conferred by the Queen on former Prime Minister Eugenia Charles.

Roseau – July 18, 2007
Prime Minister Skeritt Delivers 2007/08 Budget to Parliament

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt today presented an EC $342.6 million (US $126.8 million) budget to Dominica’s parliament, an increase of EC $54.5 million over the previous year.

Among the measures announced in this year’s budget was the exemption of 1 036 persons from the paying of income tax; a complete exemption of pensioners from paying income taxes; a 50 percent reduction in excise taxes on fuel imports; and a reduction in electricity rates.

Skeritt also announced an average 53 percent increase in salaries for ministers and parliamentarians, as well as increases in the allowances paid to scholarship and bursary holders.

Newly appointed Opposition Leader Earl Williams will provide a response to the budget on Monday.

Pichlin – Monday July 16, 2007
Dominica records its seventh road fatality for 2007

Two year old Rean Lloyd of Pichlin became the seventh road fatality on the island when she died after been hit by a pick-up truck.

Rean was transferred to Martinique where she died with doctors reporting massive head injuries. Meanwhile, police are calling on motorists to be more vigilant and say that the number of fatalities so far for 2007 is the highest for the same time period over several years.

Roseau - Monday July 16, 2007
UWP Leader Earl Williams is now Opposition Leader

Earl Williams, leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) was today sworn in as Opposition Leader in Dominica’s parliament.

Williams replaces former Prime Minister Edison James who served as Opposition Leader for almost two years.

Following party elections at the end of 2005, Williams replaced James as party leader but agreed to allow Edison James to serve as opposition leader.

Many observers viewed the arrangement as a pay-back to James who supported Williams over Julius Timothy who served as deputy party leader for seventeen years.

Williams told the local press that his first order of business was to push for immediate relief for electricity consumers.

The opposition UWP holds seven of the 21 seats in parliament.

Roseau – Monday July 16, 2007
Parliamentary proceedings to be broadcast live over television for the first time

Dominica will record a historic first on Wednesday when Parliament proceedings will be broadcast live over the islands two television networks.

SAT and MARPIN cable companies will broadcast live the President’s address to open parliament as well as the budget address by the Prime Minister and the response to his address by opposition leader Earl Williams.

Parliamentary proceedings are usually carried live over local radio stations.

Roseau – July 12, 2007
Primary School Enrolment Declines Over 58 Percent Since 1970

School officials in Dominica are reporting a dramatic decline in primary school enrolment, reflecting the continuing outward migration of Dominicans.

In 1971, there were 20, 458 primary school students enrolled and in 2007 the number had dropped to 8 605; a decline of over 58 percent. The Boetica government school has an enrolment of 13 students, Pichlin 36, and Trafalgar 38.

As a consequence of the decline, several schools are in danger of being shut down.

The continuing decline in primary school enrollment closely mirrors net migration out of Dominica, which is ranked in the top five countries in the world with the highest migration rates.

Dominica’s overall population has declined by more than 10 000 over the past decade with the majority going to the United States. Leading the exodus are entire families, and the young, particularly those of child-bearing age.

Meanwhile, the United States embassy is reporting that it has granted an average of 500 green cards per year to Dominican citizens.

Roseau – July 12, 2007
Dominican Authorities Expel French Visitors Protesting Chinese Human Rights Record

Local authorities have deported six French nationals who were accused of distributing leaflets on the island.

The six who traveled from Guadeloupe on Wednesday were protesting the arrest and detention in China of members of the Falun Gong movement.

The protest was meant to coincide with the arrival in Dominica of a high powered Chinese delegation.

Police officials said that the French visitors never sought permission to distribute the pamphlets. One of the visitors who was not identified by name, said that their group was protesting the dismal human rights record of the Chinese authorities, especially in regards to members of Falun Gong who have been routinely arrested and harassed in China.

Many callers to local radio stations in Dominica questioned why the group of French visitors were detained. Some even suggesting that the Dominica government was beginning to behave like the Chinese. Others however were of the view that this was simply a legal matter since permission was not sought by the group.

The group of six were deported out of Dominica on Wednesday afternoon.

Falun Gong is described as “a cultivation system aiming at cultivating both human life and nature. The practitioner is required to attain enlightenment (open his cultivation energy) and achieve physical immortality in this mortal world when his energy potency and Xinxing [mind-nature] have reached a certain level."

Colihaut – July 2, 2007
Dominica records another road fatality

26 year old Germain Luke is dead following a motor vehicular accident near Colihaut on Friday night. At the time of the accident, Luke was a passenger at the back of a pickup van. Two other people on board were treated for minor injuries at the Princess Margaret Hospital, and have since been released.

Roseau – June 29, 2007
Former Employees of NDC Receive Payments

Employees of the defunct National Development Corporation have started to receive their gratuity and redundancy payments from Government.

According to information obtained from the Ministry of Finance, payments totalling $1,395,893.74 have been made to the thirty-three employees. The sum of $833,008.63 represents the gratuity component and $562,885.02 covers the redundancy component.

The payment of redundancy and gratuity to the employees is taking place at the same time as Government employees have received their 3% increase in salary for the month of June 2007 as well as back pay for the period July 1, 2006 - May 31, 2007.

The National Development Corporation has been replaced by two new entities, the Invest Dominica Authority and the Discover Dominica Authority.

June 29, 2007 – Roseau
Salary Increases for Government Workers

Thousands of government employees will today start receiving their 3% salary increase as well as back pay for the period July 1, 2006 - May 31, 2007.

According to information obtained from Treasury, Teachers received their 3% increase in salary at the end of May, 2007. The Dominica Association of Teachers agreed to a 3% increase in salary for the period 06/07, 1% for the period 07/08 and a 2% increase for the period 08/09.

Government was unable to award the 3% salary increase to Police Officers and government employees who are members of the Dominica Public Service Union at the end of May, 2007 because an agreement had not yet been finalised with the Public Service Union and the Police Welfare Association.

The Public Service Union has agreed with Government on a 3% increase in salary for the period 06/07 with the years 07/08 and 08/09 still to be concluded.

The Police Welfare Association has agreed to a salary increase of 3% for 06/07, 1% for 07/08 and 2% for 08/09.

Meanwhile daily paid and fortnightly paid workers have already received their salary increases in the month of June, 2007.

The payment of salary increases to government employees at the end of this month, June, 2007 is expected to see the wage bill increase by about $3 million.

The fact that Government is now able to award salary increases to government employees is an indication of the healthier state of the public finances compared to only five years ago.

During the period 2002-2005, the issue was about salary cuts; in 2006/2007 it is about the ability of the Government to award salary increases to its employees.

June 25, 2007 – Roseau
Murder accused set free after prosecution case crumbles

Twenty-three year old Kirvinston Roslemund walked away from the Roseau high court a free man after murder charges against him was dropped by the prosecution.

The State decided not to proceed with the case after Judge Davison Baptiste instructed the jury to ignore the testimony of key prosecution witness, FBI agent Brandon Shay. He had earlier testified that he was “100 percent certain that the defendant contributed to the sperm content found on the vest of the victim.”

Another key witness in the prosecution’s case, a doctor who examined the victim, concluded that she found no evidence that twelve –year old Daniel Bedminster was sexually assaulted. The prosecution told the jury in opening that Bedminster was sexually assaulted before being killed. Key prosecution pictures were also found to be missing.

Meanwhile, defense attorney David Bruney who successfully challenged the testimony of the FBI agent said that he was able to penetrate some of the gaps left by FBI agent Shay.

Bruney also said that he hoped the prosecution would keep the case open and carry out a thorough investigation of the case. He said that three or four individuals left the State right after the slaying and that these persons should be looked at. Bruney went on to say that his client cooperated fully with the police and had no reason to run away.

There was no word from State prosecutor Jean Pestina on whether he would file new charges in the case.

June 25, 2007 – Roseau
Three men missing at sea

Reports out of Roseau indicate that three young men from Goodwill who went on fishing trip over the weekend have been reported missing.

Police spokesman Inspector Jefferson Ferrol said the three were reported missing by family members. He said that police in the neighboring countries were notified and an investigation launched into the whereabouts of the missing men.

Roseau – June 24, 2007
Dominica hotels provide packages for “Pirates of the caribbean” Fans
Want more ''Pirates of the Caribbean''? Hotels on Dominica, which provided some locations for the movies starring Johnny Depp (below), have created packages for pirate-crazy travelers. A seven-night experience offered by Calibishie Lodges (www.calibishie-lodges.com) includes visits to eight spots used in the movies; it is available for $599 a person, double occupancy, if reserved by June 30.

A seven-day package offered by the Tamarind Tree Hotel and Restaurant (www.tamarindtreedominica.com) includes tours led by the driver for Gore Verbinski, the movie's director, starting at $1,615 a person, double, with all meals.

Other pirate-themed packages are being offered by the Anchorage Hotel (www.anchoragehotel.dm), the Hummingbird Inn (www.find-us.net/hummingbird) -- ask at these two when you reserve -- and the Fort Young Hotel (www.fortyounghotel.com).

American Airlines (www.aa.com) recently announced that all AAdvantage members must redeem or accrue miles at least once every 18 months to keep their accounts active. Starting Dec. 15, mileage accounts that have not changed in the previous year and a half will expire.

June 20, 2006 - Roseau
Owner in Billions Dollar raffle was sued by Pennsylvania Attorney General in 2006 for attempting to defraud consumers

The Dominican.net was reliably informed that one of the key players in the Billion Dollar Raffle is none other than Richard Stupple of Florida, president of Cashback America.

It turns out that Cashback was offering third-party mail-in rebates to consumers. Stupple was reported as saying that the Cashback scheme was based on people forgetting to file their claims on time. In which case, there would always be enough to pay the few who did.

However, the attorney generals in Pennsylvania and Florida were not convinced and in January 2006, Cashback was sued by the Pennsylvania attorney general for not fully informing customers of the rebate terms and conditions before a purchase was made.

A spokeswoman for the Florida attorney general said the office is reviewing 20 complaints about Cashback, most of them from consumers who failed to receive rebates.

The fine print for the deferred-rebate program, as detailed in the Pennsylvania lawsuit, says even consumers who comply with all the terms may not receive full rebates if too many respond. If that were to happen, Cashback says, the available money would be divided among customers on an equal percentage basis.

One year later, Cashback president Stupple is in Dominica offering membership cards to customers on the premise that they will receive 1 billion in winnings.

The Dominican.net has rightly called for government to suspend all dealings with the company.

Wednesday June 18, 2007 – Roseau, Dominica
Judge Throws out Testimony of FBI Agent in Murder Trial

The prosecution in the State versus Kirvinton Rosamund of Pointe Mitchel was dealt a stunning blow on Monday when Judge Davidson Baptiste ruled on Monday that the testimony of FBI special agent Brandon Shay could not be used in the murder trial of the defendant.

The judge threw out the testimony of the FBI agent after he ruled that it was prejudicial to the defendant. Shay was retained by State Prosecutor Jean Pestina to provide expert testimony regarding DNA evidence found at the scene of the crime.

In his testimony, Shay told the court that he was “100 percent certain that the defendant contributed to the sperm content found on the vest of the victim.”

Judge Baptiste told the court that the agent erred in making a determination that only the jurors were supposed to make. He therefore instructed them to dismiss all of his testimony. The ruling by the judge was viewed effectively as a mistrial since the Agent’s testimony was at the heart of the prosecution’s case.

The prosecutor now has to decide whether to retry the defendant at the September criminal assizes.

The prosecution alleges that in 2003, Rosamund killed twelve year old Donald Bedminster after he refused his sexual advances. The DNA evidence was critical in linking the accused to the scene of the crime. Earlier in the trial, a doctor who examined the victim said that she found no signs of sexual activity on the body of the twelve year old.

June 10, 2007 - Portsmouth
New Art Exhibit at Ross University

Tiffany Burnett-Biscombe is the latest artist to exhibit at Ross University. Burnett-Biscombe is a native of Dominica but spent many years in England where she completed her education. She received her BTEC Diploma in foundation studies at Chelsea College of Art and Design and her BA Degree with honors in fine art painting at the City and Guilds of London Art School.

While in art school Burnett-Biscombe developed her personal style. Her paintings are brightly colored abstract renderings of recognizable surroundings, most of them inspired by Dominica.

During her stay in London, she worked with London artist, Nahem Shoa, exploring negative shape, space, and tone. Burnett-Biscombe professes an interest in all art movements from the old masters to the contemporary. She renders her landscapes, portraits, and still life through both paint and canvas and photography.

Her vibrant paintings and many photographs are on display in the Ross University School of Medicine Library through July 8.

New York – May 31, 2007
Pirate Master Begins Thursday May 31, 2007

The latest in the CBS reality series Pirate Master will air on CBS television stations at 8 pm eastern standard time, and every week for the next several weeks.

The series was filmed in the waters and forests of Dominica and feature 16 modern-day pirates as they embark on a high seas adventure around Dominica in search of hidden treasure that will total $1 million. Over the course of 33 days, the pirates will live aboard a massive 179-foot pirate ship.

Viewers will also have the opportunity to see a special promotion on Dominica at about 7:45 pm.

May 17, 2007 – Roseau
Two New Ambulances for Fire Services

The Fire and Ambulance Services in Dominica received a much needed boost today when the Government of Dominica handed over two new ambulances worth $180,000.

Speaking at the Handing Over ceremony this morning, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Rayburn Blackmoore said the provision of the ambulances was “testament of the Government’s strategy to transform the health sector in Dominica”.

Hon. Blackmoore told officers that Government saw its role as “providing the tools of trade to make your task easier”. The Minister, who is also Parliamentary Representative for the Mahaut constituency, commended the hard work and dedication of the officers in the execution of their onerous duties.

In his remarks, Chief Fire Officer, Mr. Julien Jno Baptiste said that the ambulances had come at a critical time for his department.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were Secretary to the Cabinet, Mr. Felix Gregoire, Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Jiselle Allport and officers of the Fire and Ambulance Services Division.


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