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Caribbean news briefs

Caribbean news briefs

TRINIDAD: 4 policemen accused of stealing 1,000 protected birds and monkeys from smugglers
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Four police officers in Trinidad allegedly intercepted a smuggling boat at gunpoint and stole 1,000 endangered birds and monkeys along with 400 pounds of wild animal meat, authorities said Tuesday.
The boat had sailed from Venezuela carrying more than 500 bull finches, 300 picoplat songbirds and an assortment of monkeys _ all crammed into tiny cages piled up on the craft, officials said. The illicit load was estimated to be worth about $500,000.
Trinidad officials got a tip about Saturday's alleged hijacking and investigators found birds and monkeys in people's homes, in pet shops and even along roads in Port-of-Spain, the capital, senior game warden Samsundar Ramdeen said.
"It's amazing. It was a lot," he said.
Officials said the four officers face several charges including possession of protected animals without a permit. They said the birds and monkeys are protected species under the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, which requires licenses for importing and exporting.
Veterinarians at Trinidad's main zoo are caring for the recovered creatures, whose future remains uncertain.
About 10 percent cannot be released into the wild because they are not native to Trinidad, Ramdeen said. But Emperor Valley Zoo can handle only so many animals, and dozens of parrots, monkeys and macaws might have to be killed if homes are not found, he said.
JAMAICA: Hijacking suspect ordered kept in custody as defense seeks psychiatric examination
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ A Jamaican man accused of trying to hijack a Canadian jetliner will remain in jail pending a defense attorney's request for a psychiatric evaluation, a court ruled Tuesday.
Stephen Fray, 21, faces six charges, including robbery and assault, in the April 19 hostage standoff aboard a CanJet Airlines plane at Montego Bay's airport. He allegedly fired a handgun into the air, demanded to be flown off the island and took cash from passengers before military commandos burst in and captured him.
Government officials have described Fray as "mentally challenged," but authorities declined to provide details of his mental health.
The suspect's father, Earl Fray, said Tuesday that his son had grown withdrawn during a jobless stretch after dropping his studies at a community college, but he never seemed likely to cause trouble.
"He was unemployed and that's one of the things that led him to this state," Fray said. "Stephen has always been a quiet person, always on the computer. Anytime I ask him if he's OK, he'd just say, 'Everything is all right, Daddy.' Nothing more."
Fray, a 51-year-old businessman, said that he and police had not determined what his son's motivation might have been.
"He's still not talking," Fray said.
PUERTO RICO: US regulators warn Procter & Gamble plant over unsanitary conditions at plant
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ U.S. regulators warned Procter & Gamble Co. over unsanitary conditions at a plant that makes Olay skin care products and Vicks cold medicine in Puerto Rico, according to a letter released Tuesday.
The warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration said problems at the Olay LLC plant in Cayey may have caused contamination or threatened the health of consumers. It faulted failures in following procedures for cleaning maintenance equipment.
An inspection found over-the-counter drug products have been "prepared, packed and held under unsanitary conditions whereby they may have been contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health," said the letter.
Paul Fox, a spokesman for Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble, said none of the issues raised by the FDA compromised the safety of any products.
But he said FDA inspectors did identify areas "where we can and will make improvements," and the company has begun a review of the plant's manufacturing practices.
The FDA letter, dated April 24, described violations that inspectors found between August and November 2008. It told the company to respond within 15 days with a plan to bring the plant in line with federal regulations.
Among other problems the letter cited the plant for not investigating evidence of possible contamination, including "health effect-related complaints" for its Vick Sinex product.
ST. KITTS: Government to offer struggling workers cheaper land, more benefits
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ St. Kitts and Nevis is offering struggling workers some relief amid a slumping economy.
The prime minister of the Caribbean nation says he will sell government property to minimum-wage workers for nearly half the usual price. Denzil Douglas says those who earn $130 a week will pay $1.12 per square foot of land (about $12 per square meter).
The price applies to lots no larger than 4,000 square feet (1,200 meters).
The government also will create a $10 million credit line to help people if they cannot afford mortgage payments.
Douglas said Tuesday that the government also plans to offer pension benefits to the temporarily unemployed.
JAMAICA: Police: Gang members set homes ablaze in Kingston, killing elderly woman
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ Jamaican police say street gang members tossed gasoline bombs into houses in a troubled area of the island's capital, setting them ablaze and killing an elderly woman. About 30 people are now homeless.
Police Superintendent Altimorth Powell says four masked gunmen randomly fired shots in the Grants Pen community of north Kingston early Tuesday and then set fire to several ramshackle homes. He says the body of Beatrice Campbell, 85, was recovered in one of the charred buildings.
There have been no arrests.
Gang violence is a regular occurrence in Kingston's slums.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Haitian migrant decapitated in capital, police say mob motivated by revenge
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) _ Dominican police are investigating the decapitation of a migrant from neighboring Haiti.
Police Maj. Jose Llubres says the victim's body was found Saturday in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of the capital, Santo Domingo. He says residents allege the victim killed a local merchant and police are investigating whether he was slain in revenge.
The Foreign Ministry described the killings as an "incident between individuals" in a statement Tuesday.
Haitian officials have called the migrant's killing barbarous and questioned whether Dominican police could have prevented it.
About 1 million people of Haitian descent live in the Dominican Republic, often suffering discrimination and violence.
PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico orders teachers to work on holiday honoring their profession
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Teacher's Day in Puerto Rico is no longer a paid holiday for teachers.
The Department of Education says some 43,000 teachers will work all commemorative days for the next two years, including the day that honors their profession.
Puerto Rico is enforcing a law designed to overcome a fiscal crisis, although it is unclear how the new move will help save money.
A teacher's union has repeatedly clashed with the government over demands for higher wages.
The government recently said it made a mistake by sending 25,000 letters to teachers urging them to accept buyouts. Teachers are among those exempt from a law seeking layoffs of 30,000 public workers to save $2 billion amid a $3.2 billion deficit.
Targeted workers have been offered buyouts.
CRICKET: England out to settle score with West Indies
LONDON (AP) _ England cricket will attempt to avenge its recent series defeat to the West Indies on Wednesday at Lord's, but the two-test series is in danger of being eclipsed by the Indian Premier League and the host nation's looming confrontation with Australia.
The West Indies have been drafted in to replace England's original opponents Zimbabwe, who no longer play test cricket, and then subsequently Sri Lanka for this two-game precursor to the Twenty20 World Cup in June and the Ashes a month later.
Where once the arrival of the West Indies would send a tremor of fear around every dressing room in England, there is now a feeling that Chris Gayle's side are simply a warm-up act.
This at least was the opinion of English fast bowler Stuart Broad, who opted out of the IPL in favor of the superior preparation he felt the West Indies would offer.
"The Ashes is a major reason that I didn't go to the IPL and a major reason why anyone plays for their country," he told The Independent newspaper. "You can make history. People have a passion for the Ashes and I think to the nation it's the most important thing in the cricketing world.
"It's the pinnacle. Beating the West Indies at home is brilliant but beating Australia gives massive national pride."


Updated : 2020-12-03 10:12 GMT+08:00