Colors: Blue Color

The Commonwealth Observer Group described Pakistan’s General Election as an ‘important milestone’ in the history of the nation, following two consecutive democratically-elected civilian governments completing their full terms.

Final results are yet to be released by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

In an Interim Statement released on the Group’s observations of the election, the Chairman Gen. Abdulsalami A. Abubakar, former Head of State of Nigeria commended the people of Pakistan for exercising their right to vote.

More than 50 million Pakistanis came out to exercise their franchise, despite terrorist attacks claiming more than 200 lives in the weeks prior and on the election day itself.

The Chair said, “The 2018 General Election was an important milestone in strengthening democracy in Pakistan… We commend the voters, the Election Commission, polling staff, political parties, candidates, their agents, the security forces and all others for their respective roles.”

The Commonwealth Observer Group arrived in Pakistan on 18 July. Members held a wide range of consultations with the Electoral Commission, political parties, government officials, citizen observers, members of civil society, the media and the diplomatic community, as well as the military, before they were deployed to polling stations across the country. These included locations in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Karachi and Hyderabad.

Announcing its interim findings, the Group noted a clear improvement in election laws since the previous elections. For example, the new Elections Act 2017 gave more independence and autonomy for the election commission and new measures to enhance women’s political participation.

“We noted that women responded to these reforms positively and voted in greater numbers compared to earlier elections. Women also played a commendable role in the administration of elections,” Gen. Abubakar said on election day. “We observed that the Election Commission was generally well-prepared for the polls in most areas and that the process was, on the whole, well-administered.”

However, there were key areas for improvement. Counting methods, the results transmission system, and inconsistency in applying electoral procedures, were amongst several areas highlighted.

The final report, including recommendations, will be submitted in a final report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, who will forward it to the Government of Pakistan, Election Commission of Pakistan, political parties taking part in the elections and all Commonwealth Governments. The report will then be made public.

The Commonwealth Observer Group was constituted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General to consider the various factors impinging on the credibility of the electoral process as a whole. It determines, in its own judgement, whether the elections have been conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Pakistan has committed itself, with reference to national election-related legislation and relevant regional, Commonwealth, and other international commitments.

One Caribbean Television has announced its weeklong live broadcast of carnival celebrations in Toronto, Barbados and Antigua from Thursday, August 2 through Tuesday, August 7, 2018.
This year, One Caribbean Television partners again with the Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival for its 51st anniversary celebration. For the past six years, the network has covered Toronto Carnival, one of North America's largest cultural events, attracting millions of attendees every year.
In addition, the network's team is providing live coverage of both the Barbados Crop Over Festival and Antigua's 61st carnival celebration.
Throughout Carnival Week, One Caribbean Television will offer live coverage of events, interviews and feature stories to highlight the people and pageantry that make carnival one of the world's most popular celebrations, bringing the vibrancy and warmth of the Caribbean to the globe.
To reinforce that message, the weeklong coverage will also showcase highlights of previous carnival celebrations in Curaçao, New York, Puerto Rico, St. John, St. Thomas and Trinidad.
One Caribbean Television, a 24/7 television network known best for its extensive weather coverage, also carries news, sports, travel, lifestyle and entertainment programming along with the best and widest Caribbean carnival coverage anywhere. The channel is currently seen on cable systems throughout the Caribbean and in several major cities in the United States.

The Commonwealth’s team of observers has begun its assessment of the electoral process in Zimbabwe, leading up to general elections on 30 July.

Chaired by the former President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, the group is composed of 23 eminent people from across the Commonwealth. They include specialists in law and human rights, as well as gender, youth and media engagement.

“As independent observers, our mandate is to consider factors that affect the credibility of the electoral process and report on whether the vote has been conducted according to the national, regional, and international standards to which Zimbabwe has committed itself,” said Chairperson Mahama in his arrival statement. “We will perform our role with impartiality, independence and transparency.”

Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2003. In May, the current President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, wrote to the Secretary-General asking her to initiate the re-admission process. In the same letter, he requested the Commonwealth to observe the July elections. The final report of the observer group will contribute to the Secretary-General’s informal assessment of whether Zimbabwe should re-join the Commonwealth.

For Chairperson Mahama, Zimbabwe’s commitment to democratic principles is especially important. “It was here in Harare, in 1991, that Commonwealth Heads of Government issued a seminal declaration committing their countries to a set of principles, including democracy, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, just and honest government; and fundamental human rights,” he stated.

There are 130 registered political parties - of which 57 will be contesting the elections. For the first time, four women are among the twenty-three Presidential candidates.

The two most prominent parties vying for seats are the current ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change - Alliance (MDC Alliance).

Commonwealth observer missions assess whether electoral processes are credible and transparent. They promote good governance, reinforce democracy, protect human rights and the freedom of citizens to choose their leaders.

Frank Comito, CEO and Director General of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), today congratulated the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) on the  election of Karolin Troubetzkoy as its new president.

Karolin Troubetzkoy,  immediate past president of CHTA and Executive Director of Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain Resorts, assumed the Presidency of her national trade association on Friday after serving for almost three years as head of the Caribbean organization. She succeeds hotelier Sanovnik Destang of Bay Gardens Resorts, who did not stand for re-election, and is joined by newly elected First Vice President John Mathurin, owner of Serenity Vacations & Tours, and re-elected Second Vice President Erwin Louisy of Barefoot Holidays St. Lucia.

"Karolin has a wonderful ability to harness the skills and enthusiasm of all stakeholders to enhance the capacity of the tourism industry to benefit all sectors of society and we are sure she will shine in this familiar role," said Comito, who described Troubetzoy's impact at the regional level as exemplary.

Addressing SLHTA's AGM following her election, Troubetzkoy pledged to take a serious look at succession planning and ensure that qualified and experienced tourism leaders get exposed to SLHTA operations and be ready and prepared to take on this mantle of responsibility sooner rather than later.

She called for a comprehensive consultation on changes to the bylaws, board structure and the presidential election process and eligibility for hoteliers and allied members.

Troubetzkoy devoted much of her time in office at CHTA coping with heavy challenges from Sargassum, Zika, Brexit and the devastating hurricanes of last September. She noted however that the need to cope with and recover from adversity had given the region another skill: "Resilience has become our new mantra and guiding light as we strive to make our small island developing states more resilient to these shocks."

She added there remained many more challenges, including "mitigating the effects of climate change, preparing for the danger of stronger and more devastating hurricanes, dealing with environmental issues from mosquito-borne illnesses, coral bleaching to plastic pollution, water and waste water management and introducing more renewable energy sources."

Last but not least, she said, "was our very serious concerns for our own and our visitors' safety and security. All of these challenges need both our individual and our collective attention."

Expressing her condolences to the family of Nereus "Corsol" Francis, the SLHTA member who was murdered just a few days earlier, she said it was time to take "a hard look at how we educate our children, how much quality time we are able to spend with them or to give them, and the negative consequences of our failure to honor these commitments which could very well result in their being deprived of a brighter future."

She linked these societal priorities to tourism, which cannot operate in a bubble. "What affects us as communities, countries and as people, also affects our tourism industry," she argued.

Whether looking at challenges thrust up by the new and successful sharing economy for traditional accommodation providers, existing or potentially new taxes, high airfares, limited regional and international airlift and connectivity, the new president believes these issues "influence the current and future business volume, and ultimately our successes."

She called on St. Lucia's public and private sectors to work more collaboratively "to share with the world the diverse richness of our region - our cultures, art, music, food, history, natural environment and the many types of accommodations experiences."

In addition to creating enabling environments for local entrepreneurs to flourish, training was particularly important for St. Lucia, she contended, because of the possible doubling of available rooms in a few years. "For this expansion of our industry, we must be prepared to make the necessary investment in training and training facilities to develop the skilled work force required to fill the jobs that will surely come."

Recognizing the need to take a look at the vertical integration developing in the country's tourism industry, Troubetzkoy asserted conflicts of interest between industry stakeholders will require intense discussion: "It will fall to the SLHTA, and me as your President, to ensure that there will be transparency, open dialogue and communication at all times, as it is essential for all members and all sectors to have a voice at the table and be represented fairly and objectively."

So, regular meetings with both public and private stakeholders are essential and, she reported, "we have already begun, and I look forward to continuing our work to engage with our future young leaders."

The new SLHTA president thanked her predecessor, Sanovnik Destang, for the great work he had done. "I want to assure him and our members that the projects he is engaged in and continues to be particularly passionate about, such as our Virtual Agricultural Clearing House, linkages in general and young leaders' development - all of these will continue to play an important part in the Association's work."

She also committed to working with him to see the St. Lucia Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) go from strength to strength. "Four years, seven million dollars and 120 projects later, we certainly believe that we are on the right track and truly appreciate our industry's support for the TEF."

Luxury Maldivian maverick Amilla Fushi and retro-chic sister resort Finolhu claimed a trio of prestigious accolades at the annual World Luxury Restaurant Awards, held at the Galgorm Resort & Spa in Northern Ireland on 14 July 2018.

Amilla Fushi's signature over-water restaurant Feeling Koi was presented with the regional awards for Best Luxury Waterside Restaurant and Best Japanese Cuisine in the Indian Ocean, while Finolhu's award-winning restaurant Kanusan was crowned the Maldives' Best Asian Fusion Restaurant.

Feeling Koi, the breathtaking overwater signature restaurant at Amilla Fushi, offers authentic modern Japanese dining presented in a playful, Latin-influenced style. Bringing informal, laid-back Izakaya-style dining to the Indian Ocean archipelago, Feeling Koi infuses the Japanese gastro-pub concept with warm service and a generous pinch of signature Amilla pizzazz. The restaurant features a Japanese-inspired minimalist design, a private open-air dining room and open deck seating by the water's edge, an open kitchen and a climate controlled Sake library including Feeling Koi's own private label collection. Feeling Koi has recently expanded with the opening of a second outpost at iconic Maldivian hideaway Huvafen Fushi.

Finolhu's premium dining venue Kanusan spans two areas: a relaxed indoor dining space, and an open lower deck which encapsulates the archetypal Maldivian experience of being surrounded by the sights and sounds of the sea. Centred around a stunning duck oven, Kanusan's open kitchen puts its cuisine centre stage, embracing the theatricality of its Asian spirit. Classic flavours such as Mandarin roasted duck and Larb Gai are given a refreshing Kanusan twist, while newly created unique signature dishes include steamed snapper and lobster, black-truffle roast duck and sliced blue abalone in Kanusan sauce.

With 84 award categories at national, regional and global levels, the World Luxury Restaurant Awards recognises restaurants all over the world for their culinary excellence and memorable experiences, from outstanding atmosphere to exceptional service. The awards aim to inspire excellence and ignite healthy competition in the luxury restaurant industry.

Air Italy showcased its brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in the airline’s new livery for the first time at Farnborough International Airshow 2018. The aircraft was delivered to the airline just last week and flew straight to the airshow for spectators to tour and experience first-hand.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker and Mr. Sultan Ali Allana of Alisarda and AKFED visited the Air Italy aircraft at Farnborough International Airshow today. Air Italy’s Chief Customer Experience Officer, Mr. Rossen Dimitrov, showcased Air Italy’s revamped product, menu, amenities and service offerings to H.E. Mr. Al Baker and Mr. Allana on board.

This is the second of 20 brand-new Boeing B737 MAX 8 aircraft that will join Air Italy’s growing fleet over the next three years and the first of approximately 50 new aircraft to be added to the Air Italy fleet by 2022. The first Boeing B737 MAX 8 aircraft was delivered earlier this year in Seattle and flown to Milan for its inaugural flight. The state-of-the-art aircraft features modern and spacious cabins, superior operating economics and a greater fuel efficiency.

Qatar Airways strengthened its commitment to Italy in 2017 with the acquisition of 49 per cent of AQA Holding, the new parent company of Air Italy, while the previous sole shareholder Alisarda kept 51 per cent. This acquisition marks a new era in Italian aviation for the people of Italy and for passengers worldwide.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Displaying Air Italy’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in the airline’s new livery at Farnborough International Airshow 2018 has put Air Italy on the centre stage, and showcased this state-of-the-art aircraft to an international audience. We are delighted to be supporting Air Italy as they embark on this exciting journey toward becoming Italy’s leading carrier.”

Mr. Sultan Ali Allana of Alisarda and AKFED said: “Our first experience at Farnborough International Airshow as Air Italy has been a great achievement. By showcasing our newest and most advanced aircraft in new livery, the Boeing 737 MAX 8, we have been able to present our latest product to an international audience, one that has already proven to be a great success in the Italian market. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Qatar Airways to develop Air Italy into a world-class airline.”

In June, Air Italy launched its first long-haul route from New York's JFK airport to Milan's Malpensa airport and a nonstop flight between Milan and Miami. Flights to Bangkok, Delhi and Mumbai will be launched in the coming months. Air Italy also recently inaugurated short-haul routes connecting Milan to Rome, Naples, Palermo and Olbia.

Qatar Airways displayed six of its most advanced aircraft at the Farnborough International Airshow this week, including the Airbus A350-1000 and the Boeing 777-300ER, both of which feature the airline’s award-winning Business Class seat, Qsuite. The airline also displayed for the first time its Boeing 747-8 Cargo Freighter, Qatar Executive’s Gulfstream G500 jet and the JetSuiteX Embraer 135 jet.

John Dramani Mahama, former president of Ghana, will lead a Commonwealth group to observe Zimbabwe’s general elections on 30 July.

Zimbabwe is not a member of the Commonwealth. It withdrew from the organisation in 2003 after it was suspended for being in breach of the Harare Declaration, which sets out the Commonwealth’s core principles and values.

In May of this year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa wrote to the Commonwealth’s Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, expressing an interest in re-joining the association, and requesting the Commonwealth to observe its forthcoming elections.

The observation group’s report on the election will contribute to the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s informal assessment of whether Zimbabwe should be readmitted.

“I am extremely pleased to be deploying a group to observe the elections,” stated the Secretary-General. “Its report on the electoral process will give member countries a clear view of adherence to Commonwealth values in Zimbabwe, including democracy and rule of law plus protection of human rights such as freedom of expression. Our heads of government have said twice, in 2009 and 2011, that they look forward to Zimbabwe’s return. I very much hope that the forthcoming election proves that the conditions are right.”

Following the visit of a pre-election assessment team to the country in June, the Secretary-General has constituted a 24-member team of observers, led by Mr Mahama, the former president of Ghana. He has previously led the Commonwealth teams observing elections in Sierra Leone and Kenya.

There are 23 presidential candidates in all. In accordance with Zimbabwe’s constitution, if no presidential candidate receives a clear majority in the election on 30 July, a run-off vote will be held on 8 September.

The 270-seat House of Assembly is composed of 210 members elected from constituencies and 60 women elected by proportional representation.

Commonwealth observers will assess factors affecting the credibility of the electoral process as a whole. They will consider the pre-electoral environment, the voting process, counting and tabulation procedures and the announcement of results.

The group is independent and will determine in its own judgement whether the elections have been conducted according to the standards of Zimbabwe’s election-related legislation as well as relevant regional, Commonwealth and international commitments.

Observers will act impartially and will adhere to the standards of the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.

The Group will submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will send it to the Government of Zimbabwe, its Electoral Commission, political parties and all Commonwealth governments. The report will then be made public.

The Commonwealth Observer Group will arrive in Zimbabwe on 23 July 2018, and will be supported by a nine-member staff team from the Commonwealth Secretariat, led by Katalaina Sapolu, Director of the Governance and Peace Directorate.

Tourism representatives from Turks and Caicos Islands captured two of four Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) tourism industry awards at the opening of the fourth Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF) in Miami last month.
Stacy Cox, Executive Director of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association, received the prestigious Caribbean Association Executive of the Year award during the presentation, which honors leading executives and employees in the Caribbean.
A native of the Bahamas and a citizen of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Cox wields more than 20 years of hospitality experience, and is known for her advocacy, marketing and human resource development initiatives to build a sustainable tourism product through awareness, outreach and education.
Cox, who was appointed president of the Caribbean Society of Hotel Association Executives (CSHAE) last year, brings a rare combination of savvy, sophistication and a forward-looking view of the industry. She has volunteered her time not only with CHTA but also with community organizations and events such as Youth Explosion, Maskanoo, TCI Shines Clean-up Campaign and TCI Little Chefs.

Nandana Kandabadage of Seven Stars Resort in Turks and Caicos was named Caribbean Supervisor of the Year for demonstrating exceptional leadership in his management abilities. He started his career as a Room Attendant in 1994 in Dubai where he began learning the importance of first class service through various positions. Part of the original housekeeping team at Seven Stars Resort, Kandabadage's skills led to his promotion to Housekeeping Supervisor in 2012. The first to volunteer for 'lateral' service he also introduced changes to work practices and procedures which led to his department receiving a score of 100 percent on the recent Forbes hotel inspection.
Other winners included Caribbean Employee of the Year, Harold Rasjmin, Restaurant Captain of The Chophouse (formerly The French Steakhouse) at Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa in Aruba. Recognized as an outstanding hotel or tourism employee in the private sector who exemplifies above-average technical competence and hospitality skill, he brings more than 30 years of food and beverage and hospitality experience to the management of the restaurant as well as to the training of staff, especially in his table-side dish preparations so beloved by guests. His extensive knowledge of menus, food, wine and service was obtained through decades of dedicated service in the restaurant industry. He takes wonderful care of both island visitors as well as the many locals who frequent The Chophouse.
The Caribbean Allied Member of the Year Award went to Neil Kolton of Interval International. Described as a consummate sales professional with a keen eye for detail, Kolton has been a valued Allied Member of CHTA. Joining Interval in 2005, he quickly made his mark and was promoted from a northeast regional position to Caribbean region manager. In 2010, he was promoted to Director of Sales and Service for the Caribbean and Florida. Demonstrating a great capacity to understand the region's needs and offer valuable solutions that helped hotels grow in reach and revenue, his work with Interval has helped the company develop this key area of their business - the Caribbean. He also has demonstrated a commitment to the education and promotion of Caribbean nationals. Through his dedicated involvement with the CHTA Education Foundation, Kolton has helped raise more than $700,000 in scholarships for Caribbean students pursuing degrees and certificates in tourism and hospitality.

Trinidad and Tobago is the Caribbean National Culinary Team of the Year.
The team won top honors in the finale of the 2018 Taste of the Caribbean culinary competition at the Hyatt Regency in Miami yesterday evening, after also winning the Bartender, Best Non Alcoholic Drink and Beef categories.
Trinidadians in winners' row included Shana Rajahram, who won the Caribbean Bartender Competition, and Tricia Gregoire, who captured the Certified Angus Beef-sponsored Beef Competition. The Best Non Alcoholic Drink award also went to T & T.
A dozen teams participated in the highly anticipated Taste of the Caribbean culinary competition in Miami from June 22 to 26.
Hosted by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos selected their best chefs and mixologists for this year's event.
Jamall Small from the Bahamas was crowned Caribbean Chef of the Year while teammate Hazen Rolle was named Caribbean Junior Chef of the Year. Rolle also received the Hans Schenk Commemorative Award for the Most Innovative Dish Utilizing Indigenous Ingredients.
Vadivel Raju from Turks and Caicos won the Caribbean Pastry Chef competition; Radiance Modeste of the British Virgin Islands topped the Seafood competition, while Rodney Corbin of Barbados won the Cemoi-sponsored Chocolate category.
Best Rum Drink went to Bonaire; St. Lucia topped the vodka drink category, and Best Mystery Bar Drink, sponsored by Angostura, went to Curaçao.
A combined team representing chefs from some of the Caribbean destinations that were impacted by last September's hurricanes also competed. The team, which included members from Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, won the Tony Mack Spirit of the Competition award.
"CHTA applauds this year's Taste of the Caribbean participants, their national hotel and tourism associations, team managers and sponsors for another incredible demonstration of passion, purpose and performance," said Frank Comito, Director General and CEO of CHTA.  "These participants are the future of tourism and the teamwork and camaraderie on display augurs well for a united Caribbean."

Barbados hotelier Patricia Affonso-Dass has taken up office as the new President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).
Karolin Troubetzkoy, the regional trade association's outgoing president, handed over the gavel to Affonso-Dass in an emotional transition at CHTA's Annual General Meeting during which she was hailed for her personal contributions to the region during challenging times.
New President Affonso-Dass, Group General Manager at Ocean Hotels in Barbados, thanked Troubetzkoy for her selfless efforts leading the association, while Grenadian hotelier Sir Royston Hopkin congratulated her on her steady leadership. "I would just like to say a sincere thank you for a job well done. I am very proud of you."
Troubetzkoy expressed her appreciation for the good wishes of her colleagues. She will now serve both as Chair of CHTA as well as of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Educational Foundation (CHTAEF).
A true pan-Caribbean woman, Affonso-Dass, a graduate of Florida International University's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, was born in Roseau, Dominica and lived in Trinidad and Antigua before moving to Guyana where she grew up. She has made Barbados her home for the past 20 years.
Affonso-Dass has been the president of both the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and runs the Ocean Hotels group, which is a family-owned company with three unique hotels on the south coast of Barbados: Ocean Two Resort & Residences, the four diamond oceanfront venue on Dover Beach; The Sea Breeze Beach Hotel, the all-inclusive hotel on Maxwell Coast Road; and The South Beach Hotel, the chic boutique hotel near Rockley Beach.
She will serve as president of the association for the next two years.

The Government of Vietnam has confirmed a further extension of its visa exemption programme for United Kingdom passport holders - valid for single-entry stays of up to 15 days - for three more years. First introduced in 2015, the policy also applies to French, German, Spanish and Italian nationals. This latest extension, until 30 July 2021, is the longest extension period yet.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, over six million people visited the country in the first five months of this year, representing a 27.6 per cent increase on last year's figures. In its Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2017 Vietnam report, the World Travel & Tourism Council has also forecast that Vietnam's annual tourism revenues will continue to grow by six per cent by 2027, to VND398,329 billion (USD17.9 billion).

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines operates the UK's only nonstop scheduled services to Vietnam, with daily Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flights from Heathrow T4 to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, offering SkyTrax 4-star rated service across three cabin classes.  The flights are carefully scheduled to offer convenient overnight journeys in both directions, and offer excellent onward connections domestically within Vietnam, to Indo-China and to 30 destinations in Asia and onward to Australia.

Ten-time world champion and five-time Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft will take to the London Stadium track at this summer’s iconic Müller Anniversary Games on 21-22 July 2018.

Many of Cockroft’s career highlights have taken place inside the stadium, last year winning a hat-trick of world titles to become the most decorated British para athlete in the history of the world championships.

It was also the location of her unforgettable breakthrough onto the global stage in 2012, winning two gold medals at that memorable Paralympic Games in the capital.

This will be Cockroft’s fifth appearance at the Müller Anniversary Games, taking part in the very first staging of the legacy event in 2013. She will take on the T34 100m at the 2018 edition, alongside compatriot Kare Adenegan who was announced a couple of weeks ago.

She delivered an electric display to set a world record over 100m in the Stadium last year on her way to world gold – the time a rapid 17.18 – so she has an impressive recent record in the capital.

Upon being announced as the latest world-class athlete addition to the event, Cockroft said: “I’m honestly so excited to be racing at the Müller Anniversary Games for a fifth time this summer – the event is always amazing and is one I’ve been a part of year on year since London 2012, but every time I get the chance to compete again is just as exciting as the first.”

A flash of inspiration when the deputy vice-chancellor of Birmingham City University tuned in to an American reality TV show called Pawn Stars has resulted in a replica of a 227-year-old coin produced in Birmingham being presented to President Trump.

Professor Julian Beer, president of the British American Business Council (BABC), was watching the programme which chronicles the daily activities of a Los Angeles pawn shop when it featured a rare coin, called the Large Eagle Washington Cent.

He was captivated by its history and Birmingham’s involvement and decided to have 400 reproduced by the University’s School of Jewellery for delegates attending the BABC transatlantic conference in Birmingham today.

The first two commemorative pewter coins minted were presented to US Ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson during the conference gala dinner at Birmingham Town Hall with one for him to pass on to President Trump.

All other delegates attending the conference at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire during the day were also presented with the coin as a memento.

Professor Beer said: “I had just taken on the BABC presidency and was thinking about a forthcoming trade mission to Chicago coinciding with the BABC Conference last year.

“I also thought about the significance of trade between the Midlands and North America and the historical relationship between us. Whilst idling, I was watching an American show which often uncovered American historical artefacts and that’s when I saw the coin – the Washington Eagle Cent.

“The guy behind the counter who was examining the coin mentioned that it had never been legal tender and that it was rare but he would have to get an expert opinion. The expert, to paraphrase, said that it had been made and shipped over by an ‘enterprising bunch of Brummies’.

“They had designed and made the coin and another smaller one in Birmingham when they heard that the newly independent America was looking to produce its own coinage.

“They had also used their distribution and supply network in America to get samples to Senators and Congressmen and one finally landed up with President Washington rejecting the coin as being too regal and that he wanted a national mint.

“However, when I heard this I was struck that if there was ever a story of entrepreneurialism which depicted the history of our trade relationship here in the Midlands with North America then this was a great example.

“We then set about trying to reproduce a limited edition as special gifts for our North American friends in Chicago but, could not pull it off in time. However, with us securing the 2018 Conference we thought it was a great time to do it as a unique reminder of our special relationship.”

Pawn Stars is shown on History, and produced by Leftfield Pictures. The series is filmed in Las Vegas featuring  the daily activities at the world famous gold and silver Pawn Shop, a 24-hour family business opened in 1989 and operated by patriarch Richard "Old Man" Harrison.

With 3D computer-aided-design (CAD) imaging, the University’s School of Jewellery  reproduced the Large Eagle Washington Cent coin to hand out to event attendees, exemplifying how Birmingham is often referred to as ‘the workshop of the world’ with a long history of leading trade and market innovation.

Four hundred editions of the coin have been produced and the very first specimen is set to be delivered to US President Trump. The second edition was presented to Ambassador Johnson at tonight’s dinner.

Following CAD imaging of the original coin and importing images into ArtCam software to enhance shapes, a master pattern was created and used to create a mould using high temperature rubber. The coins were then cast in pewter by the AE Williams family, who are based in Digbeth and have been making the alloy since 1779.

Historically, A.E. Williams has produced traditional domestic pewter ware, but more recently has also produced pieces for palaces and stately homes, as well as for television productions including BBC’s Poldark and HBO’s Game of Thrones.

The original Large Eagle Washington Cent was one of two coins commissioned in 1791 by Birmingham firm W and Alexander Walker. Designed by one of the world’s finest engravers at the time, John Gregory Hancock, the federal coins – with the bust of President George Washington on the obverse and an American eagle on the reverse – were produced at Obadiah Westwood’s mint in the city.

Although both the Small and Large Eagle Washington Cent coins were well made, they never became a circulated currency after Washington favoured a national mint to control coin production.

A post-Brexit free trade agreement between the UK and the United States could take years to thrash out, a leading American economist has warned.

Speaking ahead of today’s British American Business Council (BABC) transatlantic conference in Birmingham, Joe Brusuelas, the chief economist for RSM in the US, called for a reality check following suggestions of a quick-fire trade deal between the two countries.

Mr Brusuelas, who will address delegates at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire this morning, says differing opinions on agriculture, telecommunications and the role of technology could be sticking points during negotiations.

He said: “When thinking about what a UK-US free trade agreement would look like, the first thing you might want to think about is how long will it take to negotiate.

“Nigel Farage said 48 hours, Liam Fox would say just a matter of weeks or months. We need to have a reality check on that – this is going to take years.

“What I’d suggest businesses do is look at the US-Australian free trade negotiations which went on for a long time and left some hard feelings.

“So this isn’t something that is going to be immediate palliative for smaller to medium enterprises here in the UK or the Midlands.”

“What would be the negotiating points around which an FTA would revolve?

“From a US point of view, the US is going to want access in terms of agriculture, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, technology and financial services.

“Financial services has some low-hanging fruit that could jumpstart negotiations and get them going.

“One would be remiss if they didn’t acknowledge the difficulties in agriculture and telecoms. “And then, of course, there is the role of technology and the issue of privacy.

“There are very clear differences of orientation in opinion with respect to technology and privacy and the role it is going to play in the new economy that will then develop.

“We often talk about the US and UK being two countries separated by a common language. “If we end up in an FTA it is going to be two countries separated by a common language with many colourful accents.”

Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean was nominated in seven categories at the glamorous Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) Media Awards held last Thursday in the Grand Ballroom of the New Yorker hotel, New York City. The glitzy dinner and fashion event was held in honour of the work produced in 2017 of the Caribbean Tourism Industry.

First up as a finalist was Istra Bell, a talented Grenadian blogger who wrote about her amazing day being a cocoa farmer at the Crayfish Bay Estate in St. Mark’s during the 2017 Grenada Chocolate Fest. She emerged second in the category for best Caribbean blog.

Jesse Serwer came next with his riveting story about the real life action on the famous two mile Grand Anse beach where locals and visitors alike mix and mingle. His piece earned him the coveted award for ‘Best Feature Article in a U.S.-based Consumer Newspaper’ for his story captioned ‘Grenada’s Grand Anse Beach May be the Most Authentic Caribbean Beach.’

Also a finalist in the same category was US based journalist Mark Rogers wrote about, amongst other things, the delightful time he spent at the Spice Market Square in the picturesque capital city of St. George’s. After having an incredible time visiting the many chocolate companies in Grenada, Alexander Britell coined the island the ‘Caribbean Capital of Chocolate’ in his Caribbean Journal article. Grenada now has five chocolate factories that locally produce bean to bar organic chocolate. Britell was a finalist in the category, best feature in an online publication.

The Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) was nominated for its lifestyle digital campaign “Free To Wonder” which captured images of people enjoying the many sights and attractions in the destination. The cool campaign video received over 122,000 views on Facebook alone and was shared several hundred times since it was released last June 2017. The over 300 lifestyle images were liked thousands of times on social media and conveyed an easy, relaxed atmosphere with stunning scenery.  Since then the GTA’s Social media platforms have grown by more than 10,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Journalist Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon was nominated for her Facebook live post “Get to Know Grenada” while talking with her fellow media colleague Brian Major about the many reasons to visit the destination. Additionally, Krista Simmons’ collection of videos depicting the experiential offerings in Grenada while visiting the world’s first ever Underwater Sculpture Park, enjoying the many varieties of chocolate and chasing the over fifteen waterfalls on island were featured heavily on social media.


GTA Director of Sales, USA, Christine Noel-Horsford was thrilled with the several mentions of destination Grenada as a desirable place to book a vacation and visit in the Caribbean.

CEO of the GTA Patricia Maher was delighted with the many nominations as she said “it confirms the many real stories and interesting content that our destination Pure Grenada has to offer its visitors”. Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Hon Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen stated “these wonderful stories showcase the warm and friendly people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique which make the islands so appealing and worth experiencing for your next travel plans.”

Bluewater, a world leader in clean drinking water technologies, today said human ingenuity and technology had the power to protect human health from the threat of micro plastics in a world that will see half a trillion plastic bottles produced a year by 2030.

“We all have a duty to protect planetary health and that’s why we’ve launched our Drinking Water Challenge together with our partners at 11th Hour Racing, a US non-profit promoting collaborative, systemic change benefitting the health of our ocean,” said Bluewater President Anders Jacobson. Speaking to over 100 politicians, scientists and others attending the Volvo Ocean Summit in Cardiff, he said people need to understand that “we are as much part of the solution today as we’ve been part of the problem.”

Earlier, marking World Environment Day, Anders Jacobson told the Ocean Summit that Bluewater had launched its Imagine H2O Urban Drinking Water Scarcity Challenge to encourage ‘waterpreneurs’ to come up with solutions to tackle drinking water issues in mega-cities, forecast to be home to around 90 percent of the world’s population.

Bluewater is implementing the Challenge with partner 11th Hour Racing, a U.S. non-profit promoting collaborative, systemic change benefitting the health of our ocean, with three winning start-ups to be honored at a special event held in Stockholm, Sweden, on August 27.

“Municipal water supply can contain contaminants such as lead, pharmaceutical residues or micro-plastics. Many ordinary citizens know this and seek alternatives such as bottled water, but the solution is wrong,” Mr. Jacobson told the Volvo Ocean Summit in Cardiff. He added: “We’ve created a vicious cycle where the use of single-use plastic bottles of water has been normalized for much of our water intake, creating a massive waste stream that further pollutes water supply.”

Mr. Jacobson said Bluewater was proud to be a supporter of the One Plastic Free Day initiative, organised by A Plastic Planet, which will see millions of people on World Environment Day boycott food and drink that makes use of single-use plastic packaging for 24 hours. He said Bluewater “backs the movement because it inspires people to make a choice for a more sustainable planet”.

During the summer of 2017, Bluewater water purifiers helped save the depleted water reserves of Sandhamn, an island nature reserve in the Baltic Sea that sees the year-round population of 90 people leap to 600,000 over the summer months. A Bluewater water station delivered, free of charge, thousands of liters of fresh water taken directly from the Baltic Sea to visitors to the island, an initiative that also removed the need for thirsty visitors to buy single-use plastic bottles.

“Sandhamn is a typical example of how the world’s supplies of fresh water can no longer be taken for granted. At Bluewater, we’re going to the source of the problem with extraordinary purifying systems that allow people to enjoy water as pure as nature intended, sourced from non-potable sources such as the brackish Baltic Sea, without the guilt of polluting the planet with single-use plastic or chemicals.”