Robbery threat
NASSAU – The U.S. Embassy issued an advisory to Americans living in and traveling to the islands to be on heightened alert to avoid being a crime victim. An embassy statement said “armed robbery remains a major threat” facing Americans in Nassau.

The advisory was issued Friday, about a week after an Illinois man was fatally shot on a Nassau street during a robbery. The embassy said a number of other U.S. citizens have fallen victim to armed robbery so far this year and some have been seriously injured.

Allegation denied
GEORGE TOWN – Former Premier McKeeva Bush, who faces charges in a corruption probe, has denied allegations that he donated $1 million to University College of the Caribbean in Jamaica to obtain an honorary PhD. He was responding to local media reports. He noted that police arrested him a day before he was scheduled to travel and receive the honorary degree. In March, authorities accused Bush of misusing a state credit card and other offenses and charged him with five counts of theft, four counts of breach of trust and two counts of misconduct in public office. He has said the investigation was politically motivated.

New airlines board
PORT-OF-SPAIN – Finance Minister Larry
Howai has appointed a new interim board to oversee Caribbean Airlines after announcing that the state-owned company posted losses of more than $70 million. He said the board has three months to review the airline’s finances and make recommendations on how to generate more revenue. The beleaguered airline has seen several leadership changes and employee layoffs in recent years as part of a restructuring. Caribbean Airlines serves the region and also flies to New York, Florida, Philadelphia and Canada.

Funds pledged for fighting crime
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The U.S. government has pledged $23 million to help improve security and fight drug trafficking and other crimes in the eastern Caribbean region. Kurt van der Walde, the narcotics affairs director of the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, said the money will go to the Regional Security System, a cooperative of police forces across the eastern Caribbean and be used in part for training and to buy polygraph equipment.

Prostitution crackdown
SANTO DOMINGO – People who force others into prostitution and clients of prostitutes will face arrest in the Dominican Republic as part of a crackdown on sex trafficking, Attorney General Francisco Dominguez said. Prostitution has long been practiced openly in much of the country but the trafficking of people for the sex trade, both within the country and overseas, has become so widespread that the government believes it must now impose controls on the industry, Dominguez said at a news conference. Prostitutes themselves are not facing arrest since there is no local law that specifically forbids the practice. But it is illegal to make money off the sexual services of another person or to force someone to work as a prostitute.

Statehood push
SAN JUAN – Pedro Pierluisi, the country’s representative in Congress, is seeking an unprecedented yes-or-no vote on whether the island should become the 51st state. He submitted a bill that riled many in the U.S. territory. His proposal calls for a federally approved ratifying vote in which Puerto Ricans would be asked if they want their island to become a state. If the majority agrees, the bill calls for the president to submit legislation to Congress within 180 days. The White House announced last month it would seek $2.5 million from Congress to fund a vote on the island’s future political status following disagreements about the results of a nonbinding, two-part referendum held in November.