Moderate winds and moderate seas are expected over the Cayman area for the next 24 hours in association with a pressure system over the western Atlantic Ocean. Radar images show scattered shower...


Asia welcomed the lunar Year of the Pig on Tuesday with visits to temples, family banquets and the world's biggest travel spree. Celebrations took place throughout the region, from Beijing and Seoul to Hanoi and Singapore. The streets of Beijing and other major Chinese cities were quiet and empty after millions of people left to visit relatives or travel abroad during the year's biggest family holiday. [image_gallery] Families gathered at home for multigenerational banquets. Companies, shops and government offices closed for official holidays that ranged from two days in South Korea to a week in China. ___ Worshippers stood in line for hours at Hong Kong's Wong Tai Sin Temple to welcome the new year by lighting incense. Lana Wong, a prominent Hong Kong actress, wore a pig costume for the event. "My first wish is for world peace," said Wong, 88. "Everyone has food to eat, employment and houses to live in. The elderly also hope the government will take better care of them." ___ In Beijing, performers in traditional Qing dynasty robes strummed zithers for a re-enactment at sunrise of a sacrificial ceremony at the Chinese capital's Temple of Earth park. An actor portraying an emperor bowed before an altar as dozens of people in ceremonial dress behind him. Acrobats and drummers also performed. Vendors sold toys branded with the British cartoon character Peppa Pig, which is enjoying a surge of popularity for the Year of the Pig. "My wishes for new year are a promotion, a raise and finding a boyfriend," said a spectator, Cui Di, a 28-year-old employee of a foreign company. ___ The holiday in mainland China is marked by the biggest annual travel boom as hundreds of millions of people visit their home towns or travel abroad. The railway ministry forecast mainland travelers would make 413 million trips during the three-week period around the holiday. ___ Chinese set off billions of fireworks to celebrate the new year. An explosion at an illegal fireworks shop in southern China killed five people early Tuesday. Investigators said it was triggered by fireworks set off by the shopkeeper outside the shop. ___ In Bangkok, people lit incense sticks and burned paper money and other symbolic offerings for deceased relatives despite government appeals to avoid contributing to smog. Some shopkeepers sold symbolic ballots to burn as offerings following official promises of an election this year, the first after four years of military rule. ___ In the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, visitors left bouquets of flowers at statues of former leaders Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il.

The police in Jamaica are probing the shooting death of an American national in Sheffield in the parish on Saturday night. The deceased has been identified as 43-year-old information technology consultant, Timothy Harper, of Sheffield district in Westmoreland and Delaware in the United States. According to media reports in Delaware, Harper had dual citizenship in Jamaica and the United States. Police reports are that about 9:05 p.m., Harper was picking up his wife from work when an armed man approached his vehicle and opened fire, hitting him multiple times in the chest. The gunman then fled the area before the police were alerted. Harper was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. It is not clear if his wife was harmed in the incident. No motive has yet been established for the killing.

Demonstrators drag the body of a fellow protester toward police, as a form of protest after police shot into the crowd in which he died, during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise near the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. Protesters are angry about skyrocketing inflation and the government's failure to prosecute embezzlement from a multi-billion Venezuelan program that sent discounted oil to Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Businesses and government offices slowly reopened across Haiti on Monday after more than a week of violent demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise over skyrocketing prices that have more than doubled for basic goods amid allegations of government corruption. Public transportation resumed in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where people began lining up to buy food, water and gasoline as crews cleared streets of barricades thrown up during the protests. Moise has refused to step down, though his prime minister, Jean-Henry Ceant, said over the weekend that he has agreed to reduce certain government budgets by 30 percent, limit travel of government officials and remove all non-essential privileges they enjoy, including phone cards. Ceant also vowed to investigate alleged misspending tied to a Venezuelan program that provided Haiti with subsidised oil and said he has requested that a court audit all state-owned enterprises. He also said he would increase the minimum wage and lower the prices of basic goods, although he did not provide specifics. Many Haitians remained wary of those promises, and schools remained closed on Monday amid concerns of more violence. "The government is making statements that are not changing anything at this point," said Hector Jean, a moto-taxi driver who was waiting for customers. He recently had to buy a gallon of gas for 500 gourdes ($6), more than twice what he normally pays, and he has been unable to find customers who can afford to pay higher fares. "It's very hard to bring something home," he said. "I have three kids." Other goods in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation have also doubled in price in recent weeks: A sack of rice now costs $18 and a can of dry beans around $7. In addition, a gallon of cooking oil has gone up to nearly $11 from $7. Inflation has been in the double digits since 2014, and the price hikes are angering many people in Haiti, where about 60 percent of its nearly 10.5 million people struggle to get by on about $2 a day. A recent report by the U.S. Agency for International Development said about half the country is undernourished. Dozens of people on Monday stood outside a financial services company waiting to pick up money transfers from relatives abroad. Among them was 35-year-old Andre Simon, a taxi driver who had been standing in line for at least three hours and has been unable to work for more than a week. "I don't have anything at home," said Simon, who drives a small, brightly coloured truck known as a tap-tap. "I need that money badly." The latest violent demonstrations prompted the U.S. government to warn people last week not to travel to Haiti as it urged Moise's administration to implement economic reforms and redouble efforts to fight corruption and hold accountable those implicated in the scandal over the Venezuelan subsidized oil program, known as Petrocaribe. A Haitian Senate investigation has alleged embezzlement by at least 14 former officials in ex-President Michel Martelly's administration, but no one has been charged. Meanwhile, Haitians have demanded a probe into the spending of the $3.8 billion Haiti received as part of the Petrocaribe program. "Corruption goes unpunished, and people are just really tired of it," said Athena Kolbe, a human rights researcher who has worked in Haiti. "I can't imagine that things are going to calm down." She said she doesn't believe claims that opposition leaders are behind the demonstrations or that people are being paid to protest as has happened in previous years given the incredible number of people that have taken to the streets in recent days. However, Kolbe warned that even if Moise were forced to step down, it would not resolve one of Haiti's underlying issues: how to address corruption. "People are just kind of exhausted with the business elite running the country and retaining control and not knowing where public funds are going," she said. Martelly hand-picked Moise in 2015 to be the candidate for the ruling Tet Kale party even though the businessman from northern Haiti had never run for office. Moise was sworn in as president in February 2017 for a five-year term and promised to fight corruption and bring investment and jobs to one of the least developed nations in the world. His swearing-in marked Haiti's return to constitutional rule a year after Martelly left office without an elected successor amid waves of opposition protests and a political stalemate that led to suspended elections. Moise's administration previously set off deadly protests in July when officials abruptly announced double-digit increases in the prices for gasoline, diesel and kerosene as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to eliminate fuel subsidies and boost government revenue. At least seven people died in those protests, which also forced Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant to resign after facing a no-confidence vote in parliament.


Honda will close a car factory in western England with the potential loss of 3,500 jobs, British media and a local lawmaker said Monday, in another blow to a British economy made jittery by Brexit. Sky News said the Japanese carmaker is to announce Tuesday that the Swindon plant will close in 2022. Honda makes its popular Civic model at the factory, 70 miles (115 kms) west of London. Local lawmaker Justin Tomlinson confirmed the news in a series of tweets. He said he had spoken to Honda, and the company said the decision "is based on global trends and not Brexit as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021." He said no job losses at the plant were expected until 2021. Honda said it could not comment "at this stage." "We take our responsibilities to our associates very seriously and will always communicate any significant news with them first," the firm said in a statement. The Unite trade union, which represents workers at the plant, said it was looking into the reports. Des Quinn, the union's automotive-sector national officer, said the plant's closure "would be a shattering body blow at the heart of U.K. manufacturing." The news comes as British businesses are issuing increasingly urgent warnings about the damage being done by the uncertainty around Britain's looming exit from the European Union. The U.K. is set to leave the bloc on March 29 but has yet to seal a deal laying out the divorce terms and establishing what trade rules will apply after Brexit. Many businesses fear economic chaos if there isn't an agreement on the rules and conditions that will replace the 45 years of frictionless trade that came with being an EU member. The uncertainty has already led many firms to shift some operations abroad, stockpile goods or defer investment decisions. Earlier this month, Japan's Nissan announced that it would not build a new SUV at its plant in Sunderland, England, as previously planned. Nissan said it had made the decision "for business reasons," but added that "the continued uncertainty around the U.K.'s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future." Last week Ford said that if Britain left the EU without a deal on smooth future relations, it would be "catastrophic for the U.K. auto industry and Ford's manufacturing operations in the country." Christian Stadler, professor of strategic management at Warwick Business School, said automakers were being hit by several factors, including a cooling global economy and a European crackdown on diesel engines. "Add the fact that the supply chain for most British-made cars crosses the Channel several times as parts are shipped back and forth, so any delays at the border after Brexit could severely disrupt the industry's 'just in time' production method, and the U.K. starts to look like a less attractive place for international companies to build cars," he said.

China's government accused Washington on Monday of trying to block its industrial development after Vice President Mike Pence said tech giant Huawei and other telecom equipment suppliers are a security threat. A foreign ministry spokesman rejected suggestions Beijing might use its companies to gather intelligence about foreign countries. Growing U.S. pressure on allies to shun Huawei Technologies Ltd., China's first global tech brand, increasingly threatens its access to global markets for next-generation telecoms technology. The company, the biggest global maker of switching gear for phone and internet companies, denies accusations it facilitates Chinese spying. Its founder told reporters last month it would reject government demands to disclose confidential information about foreign customers. Washington is trying to "fabricate an excuse for suppressing the legitimate development" of Chinese enterprises, said the foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang. Geng accused the United States of using "political means" to interfere in economic activity, "which is hypocritical, immoral and unfair bullying." Pence, speaking Saturday in Germany, urged European allies to take seriously "the threat" he said was posed by Huawei as they look for partners to build fifth-generation wireless infrastructure. Huawei is, along with Sweden's LM Ericsson and Finland's Nokia Corp., a global leader in developing 5G technology. Pence said Huawei and other Chinese telecom equipment makers provide Beijing with "access to any data that touches their network or equipment." He appealed to European governments to "reject any enterprise that would compromise the integrity of our communications technology or our national security systems." The United States has released no evidence to support its accusations against Huawei and other tech companies. That has prompted some industry analysts to suggest Washington is trying to use security concerns to handicap Chinese competitors. Foreign officials including a vice president of the European Union have expressed concern about Chinese regulations issued last year that require companies to cooperate with intelligence agencies. That has raised questions about whether they might install "backdoors" to allow Chinese authorities access to foreign networks. "China has not and will not require companies or individuals to collect or provide foreign countries' information for the Chinese government by installing backdoors or other actions that violate local laws," said Geng. Also Monday, the Financial Times and other British newspapers reported that British intelligence agencies have concluded it is possible to mitigate risks of using Huawei equipment in 5G networks. The newspaper said the decision could be a blow to U.S. efforts to persuade European allies to reject Huawei because British authorities had access to American intelligence reports. Geng, the Chinese spokesman, expressed hope Britain will "make wise choices' and work with China "to bring more benefit to the two peoples."


Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of the Cayman Islands on Monday announced that it had launched a new group mentoring programme for young females: ‘Go Girls!’. The mentoring programme will be available at the John Gray High School (JGHS), a partner of the programme. Go Girls! is a group mentoring program for girls ages 11-13 that focuses on physical activity, balanced eating and self-esteem. The program will help young women build a positive self-image – setting them on a path to reach their full potential in life. “We are very excited to be partnering with JGHS for this new initiative. Life for all young people is becoming more and more complex” said Jacqueline Schofield, BBBS Programme Director. “BBBS is continually looking for ways to help the youth of Cayman cope with these increasing pressures and become more resilient when faced with the challenges of growing up in today’s society” she added. Social pressures for girls to be perfect are at an all- time high. Young women face difficult statistics, including the fact that girls' self-esteem typically peaks at the age of nine and only 14% of girls in year 10 say they are self-confident*. Go Girls! helps young women overcome these pressures by building the necessary confidence and self-awareness to thrive in a media and technology-driven world. Go Girls! strives to help young females: • Learn the tools and information they need to lead and maintain a healthy lifestyle • Enhance their competence, confidence and self-esteem regarding active living and healthy eating • Build their leadership and life skills The program is being piloted at JGHS, with the hopes of roll out to other schools in the near future. The program consists of 7 mentoring sessions, held over a 7 week period, after school hours within school facilities. Each 1.5 hour-long session is loosely structured around four themes: physical activity, healthy eating, self-esteem, and communication skills.

The annual Storyboard Competition is now open, and organisers are looking forward to seeing the creativity of Cayman’s younger readers on display, and inviting the public to come out and support the students. An initiative spearheaded by the Cayman Islands Information Professionals (CIIP) and sponsored by the Cayman Islands Public Library Service and Rotary Sunrise, the competition gives students the opportunity to share their favourite books through a storyboard display. All storyboards must be registered and delivered to George Town Public Library by 2pm on Monday, 18 February 2019, and the exhibition, judging and prize-giving ceremony will take place at George Town Public Library on Saturday, 23 February 2019 starting at 10am. The storyboards will be judged on guidelines that include plot summary, issues of conflict, the author's purpose, tone and mood and how that information is expressed in terms of clarity, creativity, thoroughness, interest invoked and quality. Winners will be chosen in six age divisions ranging from five to 18-years old and awarded various prizes. “Every year we continue to be impressed by the quality of work submitted and the creativity of our exhibitors. It is obvious that the books that they choose to do their storybooks about have impacted them on a deep level, and they are excited about sharing these works with others,” said Paul Robinson, CIIP Chairman and Acting Director of the Public Library Service. “I want to encourage members of the public to come out and see these storyboard displays. They will not be disappointed and perhaps they will rediscover some literary classics or be inspired to read some of the books that are being promoted by the students.” Last year there were 49 storyboards from 65 competitors.