laurent_lamothe.jpg(AP) – Ministerial Shuffle
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s office announced the ouster of Interior Secretary Ronsard St. Cyr and his replacement with David Bazile, who was security chief for the interim government that followed the 2004 ouster of two-time President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The shuffle came as the government faces mounting pressure from the United Nations and other international partners to hold legislative and local elections before year’s end. The interior secretary could have a role in that process because it oversees many local government posts. Lamothe also named new ministers of culture, sports, communications, among others. It’s the second sizable shake-up since he took office in May under President Michel Martelly.


Mixed Report
GEORGE TOWN – An independent investigation into the operation of the state-owned Cayman Turtle Farm found severe skin lesions on “a notable proportion” of turtles and reported concerns about some turtles being underweight and others dying at a young age. But the probe, which came in response to concerns by animal rights groups, also praised the farm for selling turtle meat, which reduces the number of turtles killed in the wild. The report also said turtles are killed on the farm in a human, hygienic manner. Cayman Turtle Farm officials said in a statement that they’re working on the report’s recommendations.


Jaguar Protection
GEORGETOWN — This lushly forested nation has joined a regional pact to protect jaguars, the elusive spotted cat that is the biggest land predator in the Americas but is vulnerable due to expanded agriculture and mining that carves away at their fragmented habitat. Environment ministry officials signed an agreement with the New York-based conservation group Panthera which is trying to establish a “jaguar corridor,” a network of pathways that would link core jaguar populations from northern Argentina to Mexico.


Insurance help
PORT-AU-PRINCE – The International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank, is implementing a $1.96 million project to help thousands of low-income entrepreneurs protect their livelihoods against natural disasters. Only 0.3 percent of Haiti’s 10 million people have some form of insurance, one of the world’s lowest rates. The insurance will be distributed through the Haitian microfinance institution Fonkoze and is supposed to help up to 70,000 people over the next three years.


Rare Earth Discovery
KINGSTON — Science, Technology, Energy & Mining Minister Philip Paulwell said Japanese researchers believe they have found “high concentrations of rare-earth elements” in the country’s red mud, or bauxite residue. China is now the world’s main supplier of rare-earth elements, which are minerals that play a critical role in making products from basic communication devices to high-tech military weaponry. In a statement to Parliament, Paulwell said researchers from Japan’s Nippon Light Metal Co. Ltd. believe rare-earth elements can be efficiently extracted in Jamaica, where a once-flourishing bauxite industry has fallen on hard times. A pilot program will establish the scope of any potential commercial project. Nippon Light Metal has agreed to invest $3 million in buildings and equipment for the project while also being responsible for operating costs.

Trial Postponed
Lack of jurors forced the postponement of the murder trial of Vybz Kartel, one of the country’s biggest dancehall stars.
The trial was scheduled to start Jan. 21 but it wasn’t possible to seat enough jurors. It has been rescheduled for May 27. Kartel and five co-defendants were charged in October 2011 with the killing of a Jamaican, Clive “Lizard” Williams. Authorities allege he was beaten to death at Kartel’s home in August of that year. His body has never been found.


Complaints Rejected
COCKBURN TOWN – Attorney General Huw Shepheard said this British colony is powerless to influence the speed of the extradition process for ex-Premier Michael Misick, who is jailed in Brazil. Misick was detained early January at an airport in Rio de Janeiro on an international warrant issued by Interpol after having left Turks & Caicos a couple of years ago. British authorities obtained the warrant in March, saying they wanted to question him as they investigate allegations of widespread corruption during his tenure. Misick wrote a letter from a Brazilian lockup blasting British officials in Turks & Caicos for not authorizing his “voluntary return” on a charter flight. He had earlier said he intended to seek political asylum in Brazil.