Trinidad and Tobago
Japanese musician murdered.  P.O.S Mayor resigns

ALMOST a week after making controversial statements in reference to the death of Japanese national Asami Nagakiya, Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee tendered his resignation on February 16.
Tim Kee was quoted as saying: “You know before Carnival I did make a comment about vulgarity and lewdness. The woman has the responsibility to ensure that [she is] not abused. And my argument was you could enjoy Carnival without going through that routine … of prancing and partying. Then why you can’t continue with that and maintain some kind of dignity?”
It came after news that Nagakiya was found murdered under a tree at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain on carnival Tuesday night, Feb. 9.
Tim Kee’s remarks, implying that Nagakiya could’ve prevented her own murder, prompted a petition (which was signed by over 10,000 people) demanding his resignation.
The comments caused public outrage as hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside his office demanding his resignations. Trinidadians living in the United Kingdom also protested outside the Trinidad and Tobago embassy in London.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley as well as other senior public figures also criticized Tim Kee’s comments. Tim Kee eventually succumbed to public pressure and tendered his resignation.
In his resignation Tim Kee said he “…Accept full responsibility for my actions and utterances. To the people of this country who feel they have been let down, I unreservedly apologize.”
According to police, Nagakiya, who was still in her Carnival costume, was first discovered at around 9.30 am on Wednesday under a tree at the Queen’s Park Savannah by a homeless man.
Nagakiya, a trained musician, was well known among the steel pan fraternity in T&T since she has been visiting the island for almost a decade to participate in the Panorama competition.
An autopsy revealed that Nagakiya was strangled and police is now treating her death as a murder. Two suspects has so far been held for questioning but has so far been released.

Haiti
Haiti has interim President

Jocelerme Privert has been elected as Haiti’s interim president to fill the vacuum following the departure of Michel Martelly last week.
Privert, 62, who is the president of the National Assembly, was chosen on the second round of voting after a lengthy session that stretched overnight from Saturday to yesterday morning.
The politicians chose Privert over two other candidates, Dejan Belizaire and Edgar Leblanc Fils, both former presidents of the senate.
Under an agreement signed hours before Martelly’s departure, the interim president chosen by parliament will serve for up to 120 days.
The agreement proposes a new presidential election on April 24, with a new president installed on May 14.
President Michel Martelly left office last Sunday after being barred by the Constitution from seeking a third consecutive term in office.
Opposition parties had called for the establishment of an interim administration to oversee fresh elections in the country and had taken to the streets protesting the outcome of the first round of balloting on August 24 last year as well as preventing the staging of the second round of the Presidential Elections on January 24 this year.

The Caribbean
Record number of visitors for the C’bean

The Caribbean tourism industry recorded a seven per cent increase in tourist arrivals last year, with an estimated 28.7 million people visiting the region, the Secretary General of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Hugh Riley announced Tuesday.
Riley, presenting the “State of the Tourism Industry Report,” said that for the first time ever, the pace of growth of Caribbean tourism outperformed every major tourism region in the world.
He said in that period, visitors spent over a billion US dollars more than they did in 2014, contributing approximately US$30 billion to Caribbean economies, representing a 4.2 per cent increase than the US$28.8 billion spent during the previous year.
He said the Caribbean benefitted from a rise in consumer confidence in the United States where a strong dollar encouraged outbound travel among Americans and that other factors included increased air capacity and persistent marketing by many Caribbean destinations and resorts plying for business in the United States.
Riley said consequently, travel from the US grew an impressive 6.3 per cent to 14.3 million visits, accounting for approximately 50 per cent of all arrivals.
He said Canadian market continued to be resilient with a 4.5 per cent increase in 2015, although its share of total arrivals dropped marginally from 12.1 per cent to 11.8 per cent, with 3.4 million Canadians coming to the Caribbean.
Riley said despite ongoing concerns about the high cost of travel within the region, intra-Caribbean travel recorded its best performance since we started keeping records.
“In 2015, traffic from the Caribbean market accounted for six per cent of total arrivals, with 1.7 million visits among the various states, an increase of 11.4 per cent over the previous year.  All of the regional groupings registered strong growth from this market, ranging from six percent to 9.3 per cent.
Morgan Heritage wins first Grammy
The Jamaican reggae group Morgan Heritage Monday night won its first Grammy Award at the 58thGrammy Awards at the Staples Center here.
The group, which was nominated also for the first time for The Grammys, copped the “Best Reggae Album Award”, with “Strictly Roots.”
Since it was released last April, the “Strictly Roots” album has dominated the Billboard Reggae Album Chart.
Formed in 1994 by five children of reggae artist Denroy Morgan, Morgan Heritage beat other notable contenders for the “Best Reggae Album Award.”
These included Ghanaian Reggae star Rocky Dawuni (“Branches of The Same Tree”); Barrington Levy (“Acoustica levy”); Jah Cure (“The Cure”); and Luciano (“Zion Awake”).
“I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to Morgan Heritage on an award well deserved,” said Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, in his congratulatory message. “They have certainly made Jamaica proud through the extraordinary music they have produced over the years.
“This very prestigious award is not only a win for the group but also a win for all Jamaicans. Reggae remains one of Jamaica’s strongest brands; and performers, like Morgan Heritage, who have taken it to the world stage, are global ambassadors of Brand Jamaica,” he added.