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.

Officers from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) New York arrested 31 persons during a five-day enforcement surge, from May 19-23, in New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley. The Jamaicans were held in Rosedale and Hempstead. Both had previous removal orders. One of the Jamaicans was previously convicted of reckless driving on two separate occasions, and has pending criminal charges for assault at second degree, intent to cause physical injury with weapon, third-degree burglary, illegal entry with intent to commit crime, identity theft, obstructing governmental administration, possession of burglar tools, and resisting arrest. The other Jamaican national was previously convicted of disorderly conduct, creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition, and harassment. The Jamaicans were among several other Caribbean nationals from the countries of St Kitts and the Dominican Republic, who were nabbed during the operation. Of those arrested, more than 26 were convicted criminals or had criminal charges pending, more than 29 had been issued a final order of removal and failed to depart the United States, or had been previously removed from the United States. Some of the individuals arrested during the enforcement actions may face federal criminal prosecution for illegal re-entry after removal. ICE has removed 258,085 aliens in 2018. Enforcement and Removal Operations arrested 158,581 aliens, 90 per cent of whom had criminal convictions, pending criminal charges, or previously issued final orders. The overall arrest figure represents an 11 per cent increase over 2017.

Photo: Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton and Chief Medical Officer of the UK and Northern Ireland, Professor Sally Davies exchange copies of the signed MOU for the Nurses Training Programme.

The Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Health & Wellness, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of the United Kingdom to train 13 critical care nurses, beginning next month. The MOU was officially signed by Health & Wellness Minister, Dr.Christopher Tufton and Chief Medical Officer of the UK & Northern Ireland, Professor Sally Davies at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday, May 23. "Together we will begin to train nurses of the highest standard,” said Davies. “The nurses and patients will benefit and this MOU serves as a sign of the bond between both countries.” In response, the Health & Wellness Minister expressed his gratitude for the collaboration. “On behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, we appreciate this initiative, which serves as a historic moment for both countries and nurses globally,” Tufton said. “We have started a programme that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, where an international nurses training programme to overcome the challenge of faculty and clinical spaces,” he added. The Ministry of Health & Wellness is seeking to double the number of trained Critical Care Nurses, which currently average between 18 and 20 per annum. In making his Sectoral presentation earlier this month, the Minister noted that as a short-term measure, the Government would pursue bilateral arrangements for the recruitment and training of healthcare professionals, including nurses. This is in order to combat the current shortage that faces the public health system. He also noted that the intention is to expand the benefits to nurses by giving more security of tenure and expanding housing arrangements. The 13 registered nurses and two nurse educators are now in the final stage of completing seven months of didactic training and clinical experience in Jamaica and will leave the island in June to complete five months of immersed clinical experience at the Leeds Teaching Hospital in the UK. The nurses will then be rotated across Intensive Care nursing sub-specialties. The participants will return to Jamaica in November for the final examination and be retained in the local workforce for a period not less than two years.

This undated photo provided by Coca-Cola shows a can of New Coke, which was originally launched in the summer of 1985. New Coke is making a comeback as part of Coca-Cola's partnership with the Netflix drama “Stranger Things.” The companies announced the venture on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Season 3 of “Stranger Things” will be set in the summer of 1985. (Coca-Cola via AP)

Coca-Cola drinkers will get a chance to relive one of the company's darker chapters as New Coke makes a comeback under a partnership with the Netflix drama "Stranger Things," the companies announced Tuesday. Season 3 of the show will take place in the summer of 1985, when Coca-Cola changed its formula for Coke. New Coke was considered one of the biggest marketing blunders of all time and the new version was dropped after 79 days, though sales of the original Coca-Cola rebounded. "The summer of 1985 did in fact change everything for us with the introduction of New Coke, which was also arguably one of the biggest pop culture moments of that year," said Oana Vlad, director of Coca-Cola Trademark, Coca-Cola North America. Workers had to retrieve the New Coke recipe from the safe for the "Stranger Things" partnership. "All told, everything took about six months and was top secret," said Peter Shoemaker, director of sparkling category commercialisation. Workers also had to recreate the logo and the slightly different Coke red for the cans from more than 30 years ago. "The partnership with Coke gives Netflix the opportunity to reach a massive audience via one of the most recognisable brands in the world in a deeply authentic way," said Netflix Head of Global Partner Marketing Barry Smyth. Beginning Thursday, Coca-Cola will release a limited number of cans of New Coke as part of a "Stranger Things" package. An "upside-down" Stranger Things-inspired vending machine will also pop up in select cities this summer to dispense free cans of New Coke for a limited time.

Hard Rock Cafe, Guyana as seen on the company's website.

Hard Rock Café has opened in Guyana. The international-themed restaurant founded in London in 1971, opened its doors at the new Movie Towne, Guyana. The 4,600-square-foot, state-of-the-art cafe fresh brings to Guyana high-quality items from Hard Rock’s menu, including a selection of fan-favourite Legendary Burgers and Hard Rock’s Smokehouse offerings of ribs, chicken, and pork to juicy, tender perfection. In addition to its food, Hard Rock Cafe’s extensive, award-winning drinks menu includes Hurricanes, Margaritas, signature favourites, and Alternative Rock (alcohol-free) beverages, all available in Hard Rock’s souvenir, collectible glassware. Tom Perez, Vice-President of the Americas for the company, told Loop Guyana’s economic outlook made the country an attractive choice for the restaurant. The restaurant is the first of its kind in the South American country which is set to become one of the world’s leading oil producers. Perez said they want to be the ones who open the market because if you do a good job you will own the market. Speaking about the relationship with Movie Towne, Perez said they are very familiar with the entertainment cineplex because they are preparing to open a Hard Rock Cafe in South Trinidad. "We know Derek Chin, the owner of MovieTowne and we knew that he was putting a world-class mall here which was going to be a game changer for Guyana so we thought it would be appropriate to have such a huge investment and have such an icon here,” he said. Perez said being the first casual dining chainin Georgetown, there have been some challenges, namely finding workers who are familiar with working in their industry. “The challenges are thatthe service culture is demanding and finding a talented pool of people who have done that work is challenging. There areno major international casual dining chains so it is hard to get people who understand the level of service we need and expect. That was the biggest challenge,” he said. He said, however, that the positive is that while they didn’t find a big pool of skilled labour, they found a lot of young people who are enthusiastic with the right mindset and willing to learn. He said a training team spent some time working with the 75 Guyanese employees. One of the main features of Hard Rock Café is the live performances that it facilitates. Perez said Hard Rock Café, Guyana will definitely be a place for Guyanese talent to be showcased. “We already had two bands that played there, we opened on Saturday and we had two local bands. This is one of the few stages that there are in Georgetown, we want to become the stage for local Guyanese bands and we have a lot of competitions around Hard Rock likethe international battle of the bands that they will be able to compete in,” he said. The Guyana cafe’s Rock Shop will offer music-inspired items, as well as collectible Hard Rock Cafe merchandise. Fans can acquire exclusive Guyana-specific merchandise and much-coveted signature pins at this retail location. Perez said the merchandise will help to put Guyana out to the world. “One of the most known recognised T’ shirts is a Hard Rock T’shirt and people wear it as a badge of honour so now you will see people walking around with Guyana tees. So Hard Rock comes to your country but your country gets to leave as well,” he said.

The Department of Counselling Services and two of its units have relocated to their new home to create a more joined-up approach. The new home is at 87 West Apollo House on Mary Street, George Town. The Family Resource Centre (FRC) and the Counselling Centre (TCC) co-located last week. The Department’s third entity is the Caribbean Haven Residential Centre in Breakers. According to the FRC’s Programme Coordinator, Charmaine Miller, the relocation serves several long-held goals. “We have co-located because we share some mutual clients and this allows us to adopt a more strategically joined-up approach,” she said. “Given that FRC and TCC run some complementary services, it helps to have both parenting and counselling-related services sited in the same building. Clients can now move from one section of the department to the next to access enhanced services more easily than ever.” The offices, located across from JEC Property Consultants, now have further client-focused benefits. More spacious than their former open plan location on North Sound Road, FRC’s parent coaches now each have their own offices to allow for individualised parenting services for families in more private settings. Also, with the increased space, the FRC has the flexibility to run more programmes in future. “The move is already promoting more collaboration between our agencies,” said DCS Director Judith Seymour. “Another advantage is that we have been able to greatly increase face-to-face meetings with clients. Previously both the FRC and TCC found that there was high demand on the one evening we offered walk-in services after regular working hours. We have now added a second evening and opened up other spaces during the week. In addition, other changes have made our office hours more responsive and more client-friendly while allowing greater scope for synergy between our programmes,” she concluded. Revised intake hours are significantly increased, and are nowoffered on Mondays and Fridays from 9amto 1pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 7pmand Wednesdays from 9amto 4pm. Commenting on the move, the Minister for Health, Hon. Dwayne Seymour said: “The co-location shows the department’s commitment to advancing one of Government’s key outcome goals, which is having stronger communities and support for the most vulnerable.” The co-location is part of the DCS’s wider client-centred approach, which includes its newly-launched multi-agency website,

Harquail Theatre is the venue of the Child Month Talent Expo this Saturday (May 18). Organised by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the show’s exciting line-up of youngsters and young people from across the Cayman Islandsincludes more than a dozen homegrown acts. As well showcasing the artistic talents of singers and dancers, the event will also spotlight virtuoso instrumental performances and impassioned spoken word sets. “May’s Child Month theme is 'Be Strong! Be Brave! Be You!', said DCFS Director,Paulinda Mendoza-Williams. “This weekend’s free talent show will be a stage for nurturing future stars by supporting the performers doing what they do best -be that modern dance or playing the steel pan. I encourage teens, families and other members of the public to come along and support them for what promises to be a wonderful celebration of excellence and accomplishment in our children." Child Month Talent Expo starts at 6.30pm with the doors opening at 6pm.