Authorities in Gibraltar said they intercepted Thursday a super tanker believed to be breaching European Union sanctions by carrying a shipment of Iranian crude oil to war-ravaged Syria, while a senior Spanish official said the operation was requested by the United States. Gibraltar port and law enforcement agencies, assisted by Britain's Royal Marines, boarded the Grace 1 early Thursday, authorities on the British overseas territory at the tip of Spain said in a statement. It added that the vessel was believed to be headed to the Baniyas Refinery in Syria, which is a government-owned facility under the control of Syrian President Bashar Assad and subject to the EU's Syrian Sanctions Regime. The EU, and others, has imposed sanctions on Assad's government over its continued crackdown against civilians. They currently target 270 people and 70 entities. Spain's caretaker foreign minister said the tanker was stopped by British authorities after a request from the United States. Josep Borrell told reporters in Madrid that Spain is assessing the implications of the operation because the detention took place in waters it considers its own. Britain insists Gibraltar is part of the United Kingdom but Spain argues that it is not, and the tanker operation risks offending the Spanish. "We're looking into how this (operation) affects our sovereignty," said Borrell, who was nominated earlier this week to become the EU's foreign policy chief. The Spanish claim that the U.S. requested the operation switched attention to whether the tanker was carrying Iranian crude. The Gibraltar authorities didn't confirm the origin of the ship's cargo but Lloyd's List, a publication specialized in maritime affairs, reported this week that the Panama-flagged large carrier was laden with Iranian oil. Experts were said to have concluded that it carried oil from Iran because the tanker wasn't sending geographic information while in Iranian waters. According to a U.N. list, the ship is owned by the Singapore-based Grace Tankers Ltd. According to the data firm Refinitv, the vessel likely carried just over 2 million barrels of Iranian crude oil. Tracking data showed that the tanker made a slow trip around the southern tip of Africa before reaching the Mediterranean. The tanker's detention comes at a particularly sensitive time as tensions between the U.S. and Iran grow over the unraveling of a 2015 nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump withdrew from last year. Trump has also slapped sanctions onto Iran and recently approved the passage of a carrier group, bombers and fighter jets to the Persian Gulf. In recent days, Iran has broken through the limit the deal put on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and plans on Sunday to boost its enrichment. Meanwhile, oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz have been targeted in mysterious attacks as Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen launch bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia. The U.S. has rushed thousands of additional troops, an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and F-22 fighters to the region, raising fears of a miscalculation sparking a wider conflict. Last month Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone, further stoking those fears. Iran's intelligence minister said Thursday that any negotiations with the U.S. would have to be approved by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and would require the lifting of U.S. sanctions. Khamenei has until now ruled out talks with the U.S., saying that Washington cannot be trusted. On Thursday, the official IRNA news agency quoted Information Minister Mahmoud Alavi as saying "if the supreme leader permits, negotiations between Iran and the United States will be held." He added, however, that Tehran would not negotiate under pressure. There was no immediate reaction to the tanker's detention from Syria, which has suffered severe fuel shortages as a result of the civil war and Western sanctions that have crippled the country's oil industry, once the source of 20 percent of government revenues. Iran, which has provided vital military support to Assad, extended a $3 billion credit line for oil supplies beginning in 2013 but the Iranian aid dwindled as Washington restored tough sanctions. In November, the U.S. Treasury Department added a network of Russian and Iranian companies to its blacklist for shipping oil to Syria and warned of "significant risks" for those violating the sanctions. Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, which has in the past been a transit port for energy shipments without known buyers, said he has informed the EU about developments. In a statement, the British government welcomed the "firm action" by authorities in Gibraltar.

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.

Scherie Murray

A Jamaican-born businesswoman has announced her intention torun for the congressional seat held by popular Democrat, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -one of four congresswomen of colour targeted in alleged racist tweets by US President Donald Trump last week. Scherie Murray, a Republican who moved with her family from Jamaica to New York at agenine, accusesprogressive movement star Ocasio-Cortez (popularlyknown as AOC)of being more interested in promoting herself than actually performing for her district, whichincludeseasternBronx and portions of north-central Queens in New York City. "AOC chooses self-promotion over service, conflict over constituents, resistance over assistance. We need to build bridges, not burn them down," Murray tweeted. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “Queens and the Bronx needs someone who will create jobs instead of turning them away,” she said. Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old self-described democratic socialist, is one of four members of a high-profile "squad" of newly-elected women of colour who have garnered attention for their outspoken liberal views. Ocasio-Cortez and the so-called "squad" -RepublicansIlhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan - were controversiallytold by Trump last week to "go back" to their home countries, even though all are citizens and three were born in the United States. Trump'scomments have been widely condemned as racist. In an interview with Fox News, Murray accusedOcasio-Cortez of being "far to the left" and "not connecting with everyday Americans". Specifically addressing the publicised Green New Dealchampioned by Ocasio-Cortez, she reportedlysaid: “We know that it certainly will kill jobs.” Murray, who grew up in Queens, is reportedly the founder of a TV production and advertising company called The Esemel Group.

A screen grab from a video of a nightmarish taxi ride in St Andrew amid a cabbie's getaway from the police.

Police say they are still searching for a taxi driver who recently led them on a high-speed chase through sections of the Corporate Area with a number of passenger at his mercy in the process. The vehicle was reportedly heading to Half-Way Tree, a section of the capital, Kingston, when the incident unfolded as the driver made his getaway. The incident was captured by one of the passengers on her phone, and posted on social media. Watch the video below. The just over two-minute video showed the female screaming and asking the driver to release her from the speeding vehicle, but all her calls were ignored. Amidst it all, another female passenger who was in the vehicle and heard her co-passenger's pleas, tried to calm her. The police said they have seen the video and have called on passengers to be careful about their choices of public passenger vehicles.

 International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde. (AP Photo)

Christine Lagarde is resigning as managing director of the International Monetary Fund in light of her nomination to be the next president of the European Central Bank. Lagarde has already given up her day-to-day duties as head of the IMF, and the international lending agency has named a top deputy, David Lipton, as acting managing director. Legarde said in a prepared statement Tuesday, "I have made this decision in the best interest of the Fund, as it will expedite the selection process for my successor." Lagarde said her resignation will be effective on Sept. 12. Lagarde took over the IMF after her predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was ensared in sexual assault allegations. As managing director, she coordinated large bailout loans for Greece in concert with the ECB and European Union.

Leadership Cayman Class of 2019

A total of 26 participants are celebratingaftergraduatingfrom the 2019 Chamber of Commerce Leadership Cayman programme. The participants came together recently atthe Ritz-Carlton in Grand Caymanto celebrate the end of a six-month intensive programme, designed to give participants a well-rounded view of the Cayman Islands community,a detailed understanding of the islands’ historyand culture, and to develop their leadership skills. Participants took part in a series of seminars that focused on business, government, education, media, financial services, criminal justice and the sister islands. They also participated in a community project. [related node_id='06d85310-a16d-49df-85f7-f312b21a7e21'] The recent graduation marks the 10th annual celebration of the Leadership Cayman programme since its inception in 2009. The graduates join over 200 other local high-level community leaders who have successfully completed the programme. “Leadership Cayman is one of the Chamber of Commerce’s key programmes focusing on the development of the human capital in the Cayman Islands,” Chamber President, Christopher Kirkconnell, said. “The programme provides participants with exclusive opportunities and experiences that enable them to become strong leaders, in their jobs as well as in the community. Each graduating class adds to the strong network of like-minded businesspersons across industry fields. Congratulations to the 2019 graduates on their achievement." Describing her Leadership Cayman experience, 2019 Graduate, Jovanna Wright revealed:“Leadership Cayman was an unforgettable and rewarding experience. I truly enjoyed meeting new people and developing new friendships. "During Leadership Cayman, I had the opportunity to learn about the key sectors in the Cayman Islands and how they're impacting today's world. I am truly grateful for this amazing opportunity and would highly recommend this program. It was definitely a meaningful experience and I enjoyed every minute of it.” Leadership Cayman 2020 is now accepting applications. Applicants must be at least 25 years old by January 1, 2020; have lived in the Cayman Islands for a minimum period of 12 months and must be in at least a middle-management position at their current place of work. There are only 24 spaces available for this coming year’s programme. Applicants can apply online The Chamber of Commerce will be hosting information sessions to provide further details about the programme on Wednesday, July 17, and Wednesday, July 24, from 6pm to 7pm, at their training facility in Governor’s Square. The programme is made possible by the ongoing support and sponsorship of local businesses in Cayman such as Cox Lumber Ltd, RBC, Royal Bank (Cayman0 Ltd., Wheaton Precious Metals International Ltd., Cayman First, Deloitte, Greenlight RE, Island Paving, KPMG, Logic and Walkers.

University College of the Cayman Islands students, Reon Porter and Leah Robinson are off to represent at the 15th Regional Youth Parliament.

Two talented University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) students are off to Trinidad and Tobago to represent at the 15th Regional Youth Parliament. Reon Porter and Leah Robinson will be flying the flag for the Cayman Islands at the Youth Parliament tomorrow (July 17). The Youth Parliament is organised as a part of the 44th annual conference of the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), held this year from July 14to July 19. Youth participantswill debate the topic: 'Securing our borders to mitigate the effects of crime whilst striving to meet our Humanitarian Obligations'. Both Reon and Leahwere avid participants in the recentYouth Parliament conducted by the Cayman Islands Branch of the CPA on Commonwealth Day, March 12. The duo, who have been hard at work preparing for their presentations, leave todayfor Trinidad for the event in the Parliament Chamber in Port-of-Spain. They say they are both excited and very proud to represent the Cayman Islands at the regional meet.

Two Barbadian and a Trinidadian are in line for honorary doctorates by the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill.A gifted lyricist, a master inventor and a global talent manager will be honoured for their stellar professional achievements at this year’s Graduation Ceremony. Calypsonian Stedson “Red Plastic Bag” Wiltshire will be conferred a Doctor of Letters (DLitt) for his contribution to entertainment, while internet pioneer Alan Emtage will receive a Doctor of Science (DSc) for his sterling commitment to scientific invention. Maxine Williams will be conferred a Doctor of Law (LLD) for leadership. Often referred to simply as RPB, the renowned musical maestro Stedson “Red Plastic Bag” Wiltshire, BSS, BJH, has been in the entertainment business for almost four decades, amassing a repertoire of over 400 songs with 25 albums recorded. He got his start in the St Philip Calypso Competition, which he won consecutively from 1979 to 1981. In 1982, RPB became the youngest person to win a national calypso title at 21 years old – an honour he held until 2016. RPB has won the Pic-O’-De-Crop 10 times, and is a two-time winner of the Tune of the Crop and the Sweet Soca competition. He has also won the Congaline Road March in 2000 and the Stag Jam Tune in 2017. In addition, the singer/songwriter has written hit songs for Alison Hinds, Ras Iley and the late Arrow, among others. The multifaceted musician was conferred a Barbados Service Star (BSS) in 1995 and a Barbados Jubilee Honour (BJH) in 2016, and has also been recognised by several cities such as Boston, Tampa, New York, Atlanta and Washington DC in the US, and Toronto in Canada for his contribution to entertainment. Alan Emtage wrote the code which helped to open our internet universe. As a student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, he conceived of and implemented Archie, the world’s first pre-Web Internet search engine. Archie provided the foundation on which public search engines operate to this day. Born and raised in Barbados, Emtage received his secondary school education at Harrison College before moving on to North America for his BSc in 1987 and later an MSc in Computer Science, which he received in 1992. That same year, Emtage, along with Peter J. Deutsch, founded Bunyip Information Systems, Inc., the world's first company expressly established and dedicated to providing Internet information services. Bunyip distributed a licensed, commercial version of the Archie search engine. The innovator is also a founding member of the Internet Society and has chaired several working groups at the Internet Engineering Task Force, including one which established the standard for Uniform Resource Locators (URLs). Additionally, Emtage has served on advisory panels for the National Science Foundation, the Library of Congress, the Online Computer Library Center and others. Since 1998, he has been a partner at Mediapolis, Inc., a small web development company based in New York City. In 2017, Emtage was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame. He is the only Caribbean person and person of African descent to have received this honour. Maxine Williams is an Attorney-at-Law and the Global Head of Diversity at Facebook, where she is charged with ensuring that the company’s talent and partner base are as inclusive as its users. The Trinidadian assumed the role in 2013, after serving as Director of Diversity at a global law firm at which she was responsible for developing and implementing a diversity plan. In the region, Williams has worked with several international organisations on human rights issues. She has also represented clients in criminal, civil and industrial courts in Trinidad and the United Kingdom at the Privy Council. Williams also enjoyed a parallel career as a broadcast journalist, actress and on-air presenter. The lawyer is a graduate of the St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain, and Yale University, where she created an interdisciplinary major in Caribbean Studies. Williams received a first class honours law degree at Oxford University where she attended as a Rhodes Scholar.