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.

Sir Alister McIntyre

Caribbean leaders and the University of the West Indies (UWI) have been paying tribute to regional giant, Sir Alister McIntyre who passed away on Saturday. The 87-year-old Grenadian national who was a former UWI Vice-Chancellor and who dedicated more than five decades of his life to regional development, died in Jamaica wherehe had made his home for a long time. He was born Meredith Alister McIntyre but was known throughout his life by his middle name. Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness has described the former UWI Chancellor as “A foremost actor in our evolution as Caribbean people. “His experience at the forefront of the post-independence movement and as an intellectual voice in the creation of the modern Caribbean economic and political identity, gave him a breadth of knowledge and experience that has benefited generations of Caribbean leaders and thinkers,” Holness said. Holness noted that as the former secretary-general of Caricom between 1974 and 1977, Sir Alister spearheaded the movement towards integration. Former Jamaican Prime Minister, PJ Patterson in his tribute, said Sir Alister was “an intellectual giant whose monumental contribution to the integration movement will forever endure in our collective memory. “This, along with his tremendous contribution to academic discussions on the economic development of the region as well as economic integration between states, placed him as a foremost actor in our evolution as Caribbean people,” said the former Jamaican Prime Minister. Patterson noted that Sir Alister McIntyre devoted his entire life in service to the region. “He was an outstanding CARICOM Secretary General as we moved from a Free Trade Association into the Caribbean Community. His mastery of the complex technical issues pertaining to trade, finance, and the development agenda provided the backbone for the ACP throughout the Lome negotiations,” Patterson added. Patterson said The UWI will remain forever in his debt because of the leadership he provided to vastly expand the scope and increased access to tertiary education in this new era of technology. “I feel a very special sense of loss at the sudden departure of a highly revered colleague whose astute advice and generous support were always available within a close and lasting friendship,” said Patterson. For her part, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley said Sir Alister was “one of the Titans of the post-independence Caribbean.” Mottley said the region and the wider hemisphere benefited immensely from the depth of thought and analysis that this former economics lecturer, Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Studies of the UWI (since renamed in honour of Sir Arthur Lewis), Secretary General of Caricom, Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD, and Assistant Secretary-General in the Office of the Director General for International Economic Cooperation at the United Nations brought to the affairs of the people of the Caribbean and the world. Fellow regional giant, Sir Shridath Ramphal, who shared a close friendship with Sir Alister for more than five decades, said that with his passing, “a precious light has gone out in our Caribbean world”. “He had devoted his life to Caribbean unity and was already, as he went, worrying over the darkening of the regional scene that threatens. The region's debt to Alister is payable only in a new enlightenment that makes Caribbean oneness the reality for which he lived,” said Sir Shridath, a former secretary-general of the Commonwealth and former chancellor of The UWI. Jamaica’s Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips, said Sir Alister’s name has been synonymous with the quest for Caribbean development. Phillips said Sir Alister was the quintessential Caribbean man who believed in the potential of the people of the region and was committed to their advancement through education, integration and economic independence. “Though he hailed from Grenada and ultimately settled in Jamaica, he belonged to the entire Caribbean. Sir Alister will truly be missed,” Phillips said. And Vice Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, said “The love and respect we carry in our bosom for him will bloom a thousand blossoms.” Sir Hilary said the people of the Caribbean, and the UWI “will not be impoverished by his transition because the phenomenal richness of his contributions to their growth and transformation will continue to yield development dividends deep into the future.” Sir Alister is survived by wife Marjorie, and children Arnold, Andrew, Helga, and Nicholas.

Combination of photos shows Shante and her mother at left; at right, Shante smiles to the camera in happy times.

When the decomposing body of seven-year-old Shante Skyers was discovered Tuesday, her mother Crystal Service was so overwrought with emotion and despairthatshe bolted away from thescene of anguish - so grisly she could never have imagined, even in her worst nightmares. "When the soldier said he found her, I just ran off, I didn't scream, I just couldn't look, I just ran off and then mi blank out, and the next moment I wake up, I was at a shop, dem pick me up and revive me," Service told Loop News reporter Claude Mills. The seven-year-old had been missing for five days before Tuesday's shocking discovery in a section of Sterling Castle Heights, known as Blue Hole. Shante's body had been found partially hidden by garbage. "I am not doing so good at all right now. We haven't got any reports on whether she was molested, we are waiting on the authorities to call, we haven't even seen the body, or know when is the autopsy. People told me she had on her uniform and no shoes...she was so close to home, so close to safety," she said. Shante, who attended Red Hills Primary, lived in the community with her grandmother and her father, Fabian Skyers. Service lives in Spanish Town, St Catherine. She believes that someone with a sickening and perverted disposition and who resides in the community committed the gruesome act. "She used to walk with a lot of children to come home from school, but rain was falling that day, and everyone branch off;she was alone .So it has to be someone she knows. I have no enemies, I am not from the Red Hills area, so it has be some adult who was watching and waiting to do something like this," she said. Service is 25 years old, but is estranged from her elder daughter's father. She kept in touch with her daughter through the phone. She has a three year-old daughter who is yet to come to grips with the loss of a sister she barely knew. "My three-year-old is too young to understand, but I am devastated by this news, she is my first child, and I loved her so much," she said.

German prosecutors have indicted former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn and four others on charges of fraud and unfair competition, saying he failed to prevent manipulation of engine software that let Volkswagen cars cheat on diesel emission tests. Prosecutors in Braunschweig said Monday that Winterkorn knew about the deceptive software since 2014. The prosecutors' statement said that the defendants faced from six months to 10 years imprisonment if convicted and that bonuses earned due to sales based on the deception could be forfeited.

Deputy Director of Research Department at the IMF, Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, center, accompanied by Chief Economist and Director of Research Department at the IMF Gita Gopinath, right and Chief of Research Department at the IMF Oya Celasun, left, speaks during a news conference at the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, in Washington, Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The International Monetary Fund is downgrading its outlook for growth in the United States, Europe, Japan and the overall global economy and points to heightened trade tensions as a key reason. The IMF expects the world economy to grow 3.3% this year, down from 3.6% in 2018. That would match 2016 for the weakest year since 2009. In its previous forecast in January, the IMF had predicted that international growth would reach 3.5% this year. For the United States, IMF economists downgraded their growth forecast for this year to 2.3% from 2.9% in 2018. The IMF's World Economic Outlook comes on the eve of meetings in Washington this week of the fund and its sister lending organization, the World Bank.

The Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) would like to advise its patients and visitors of the following Easter holiday hours: Accident & Emergency will remain open throughout the Easter holiday The General Practice Clinic and Acute Care Clinic at the Cayman Islands Hospital will be closed on Good Friday, April 19 and Easter Monday, April 22 only. They will be open this Saturday, April 20from 8:30am to 4pm as usual [related node_id='89e6b98b-6f02-4d4e-b9ef-54e171616277'] The Cayman Islands Hospital Pharmacy will be open on Good Friday and Easter Monday from 8am to 6pm and will resume regular working hours (weekdays 8am– 9pmand weekends 8am– 7pm)this weekend and after the holidays All District Health Centres will be will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday. They will be open this Saturday from 8:30am to 12pm as usual.

Motorists are advised to beware of walkers on the road this weekend as StGeorge’s Anglican Church is hosting a March of Witness on Saturday, April 20 at 4:30am. The participants will begin at the church, which is located on Courts Road, travel onto Eastern Avenue, left on North Church Street to Boilers Road, then to John Gray High School via Walkers Road and Academy Way. They will then proceed from John Gray High School, back onto Walkers Road and to Smith Cove via Denham Thompson Way. The march is expected to finish at 6:30am. No roads will be closed for this event, but police are advising motorists to exercise caution if traveling in these areas on Saturday morning.