Wednesday, July 28, 2021

July 21, 2021  Barbados on Tuesday announced that it would be cutting airport taxes for regional travelers by 50 percent, a request that had originally been made by Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne as a means of encouraging intra-regional travel.

“Cabinet has agreed that there is to be a 50 percent reduction in airport service charge to regional travelers. That brings us pretty much in line with what you have been hearing coming out of other markets, and in particular, Antigua, which is meant to reduce the taxes on inter-regional travel,” said Tourism and International Transport Lisa Cummins.

Cummins, responding to questions from the media, during the state of the tourism industry update, said the Cabinet had also agreed “to that significant reduction.

“That is meant to reduce the taxes on intra-regional travel,” she said, adding that Cabinet later this month will also be discussing a “full price based competitor’s analysis for Barbados”.

She said that the analysis would look at a “comprehensive review of the industry.

“I have to confess that I always say to people I came from the public sector. My specialization is in international trade, I came from the international community and the private sector, so I tend to try to bring all of those things combined into one and so what we have started to do is to look at the tourism sector as comprehensively as we can structurally as well as our price competitiveness…”

Cummins said that the first draft of the paper had been “sent back for some further additions.

“So we are looking at what is the price sensitivity of the Barbados tourism product relative to our competitors. So that includes a range of analysis. How many flights are coming into the region by country and to Barbados per day, where are they coming from, what is the cost of those flights, what taxes are applied in each country, what are the public health measures which are new…and ultimately how does that create a competitive or uncompetitive position for Barbados and on that basis what recommendations need to be made to the changes of our structure as a destination.

“So that will be coming up shortly and that analysis is underway,” Cummins added.

Earlier this month, as he addressed the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) summit, Prime Minister Browne said increased movement of people within the Caribbean would be a major boost to regional economies in seeking to rebound.

“To assist in this regard, we need to immediately establish common or harmonized regional health protocols for travel (‘travel bubble’) that are clear to the public and communicated widely. The discriminatory practice of banning travel from member states with elevated levels of COVID, while accommodating guests from countries of greater risks should be discouraged.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that air transport is the oxygen that keeps tourism alive and functioning in our region. We need to care for it and provide the inputs and the enabling economic environment that will allow air transportation to grow our tourism sector back to good health,” said Browne, who is now the CARICOM chairman.

Last month, Antigua and Barbuda announced a 50 percent reduction in taxes on airline tickets for travel within several CARICOM countries with St. John’s indicating also that the measure will last for six months in the first instance.

“We think at this time where regional travel is relatively low, extremely flat that there is very little to lose and even though it may not be the best condition which to analyze the elasticity of ticket prices, it will give us some indicative indication as to how a reduction in pricing would impact on demand without creating a financial crisis, “Prime Minister Gaston Browne said.

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Entertainment

July 22, 2021  LOS ANGELES (AP) — Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday to four counts of rape and seven other sexual assault counts. Sheriff’s deputies brought the 69-year-old convicted rapist into court in a wheelchair. He was wearing a brown jail jumpsuit and face mask. Attorney Mark Werksman entered the plea for the disgraced movie mogul a day after Weinstein was extradited to California from New York, where he was serving a 23-year prison term. Weinstein spoke only to say “thank you” to Judge Sergio Tapia, who wished him good luck as the hearing ended. He now awaits a second trial on a second coast, and the possibility of another lengthy sentence.

July 21, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — “The View” canceled a planned appearance Wednesday by a woman who settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill O’Reilly, after the former Fox News Channel personality sought and received a restraining order against her. O’Reilly accused his former producer, Andrea Mackris, of violating a non-disclosure agreement by talking about her experiences with him nearly two decades ago. ABC’s daytime talk show, in a statement, said that after being notified of the restraining order “we decided to postpone her interview pending further developments. We look forward to welcoming her to ‘The View’ at a later date.” Mackris gave an interview to the Daily Beast earlier this month detailing her experiences with O’Reilly. She had accused him of making repeated lewd telephone calls, while he accused Mackris of an extortion attempt before agreeing to a $9 million settlement in 2004.


July 21, 2021  WASHINGTON (AP) — The Kennedy Center Honors will return in December with a class that includes Motown Records creator Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” mastermind Lorne Michaels and actress-singer Bette Midler. Organizers expect to operate at full capacity after last year’s ceremony was delayed for months and later conducted under COVID-19 restrictions. This 44th class of honorees for lifetime achievement in the creative arts is heavy on musical performers. The honorees also include opera singer Justino Diaz and folk music legend Joni Mitchell. All will be honored on Dec. 5 with a trademark program that includes personalized tributes and performances that are kept secret from the honorees. Deborah Rutter, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, said the current plan is to pack the center’s opera house to full capacity and require all attendees to wear masks. But the plans remain fluid and Rutter said they’re ready to adapt to changing circumstances depending on the country’s COVID-19 situation.


July 22, 2021   LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kanye West knows how to make a splash even with a listening event. West is expected to unveil his 10th studio album, “Donda” during a listening event Thursday night at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. His album was named after his mother, Donda West, who died at the age of 58 following plastic surgery complications in 2007.  The sold-out event will be live-streamed on Apple Music. West, 44, is mostly known as being associated with Chicago, but he was born in Atlanta - a Georgia city where there are no restrictions against large gatherings. The rapper-producer gifted 5,000 tickets to faculty, staff and students from some Atlanta HBCUs including Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, Spelman, Morris Brown and the Interdenominational Theological Center. The 22-time Grammy winner revealed in a commercial, featuring U.S. track star Sha’Carri Richardson, during the NBA Finals on Tuesday that his highly-anticipated album will be released Friday. The commercial, scored and directed by West, featured “No Child Left Behind,” a song from his forthcoming album.

Business News

July 22, 2021  WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s administration is beginning to make $3 billion in economic development grants available to communities — a tenfold increase in the program paid for by this year’s COVID-19 relief bill. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said her agency on Thursday will begin accepting applications for the competitive grants, which officials hope will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and help struggling cities and towns make long-term investments to drive development for years to come. “This is about real help for communities across the country as they rebuild,” Raimondo said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s about longer-term investments to help communities build themselves back from the bottom up in the ways that work best for them.” The grants will be targeted at supporting local infrastructure, job training programs and developing new industries. Recipients will be selected on the basis of the anticipated return on investment to taxpayers. Raimondo was set to appear at Thursday’s White House press briefing to promote the new program.

July 21, 2021   DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — For months, anyone who wandered onto a dealer lot to look for a used car could be forgiven for doing a double-take — and then wandering right off the lot. Prices had rocketed more than 40% from their levels just before the viral pandemic struck, to an average of nearly $25,000. The supply of vehicles had shrunk. And any hope of negotiating on price? Good luck with that. But now, a sliver of hope has emerged. The seemingly endless streak of skyrocketing used-vehicle prices appears to be coming to a close. Not that anyone should expect bargains. Though average wholesale prices that dealers pay are gradually dropping, they’ll likely remain near record levels. So will the retail prices for consumers. Supply remains tight. And while demand has eased a bit, a steady flow of buyers could keep prices unusually high for a couple of years more. “It’s a short-term correction,” suggested Paul Sugars, sales manager for pre-owned vehicles at Jack Demmer Lincoln in Dearborn, Michigan. “Buyers are sitting on the fence, waiting to see what happens.”

July 22, 2021  SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric plans to bury 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) of its power lines in an effort to prevent its fraying grid from sparking wildfires when electrical equipment collides with millions of trees and other vegetation across drought-stricken California. The daunting project announced Wednesday aims to bury about 10% of PG&E’s distribution and transmission lines at a projected cost of $15 billion to as much as $30 billion, based on how much the process currently costs. The utility believes it will find ways to keep the final bill at the lower end of those estimates. Most of the costs will likely be shouldered by PG&E customers, whose electricity rates are already among the highest in the U.S. PG&E stepped up its safety commitment just days after informing regulators a 70-foot (23-meter) pine tree that toppled on one of its power lines ignited a major fire in Butte County, the same rural area about 145 miles (233 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco where another fire sparked by its equipment in 2018 killed more than 80 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

Fashion News

“Faced With Restrictions, These Are the Designers Who Took Us Somewhere New”—Vogue Editors Weigh In on the Most Innovative Presentations of Spring 2021