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Turkey’s Erdogan to convene meeting on Russian Mir payments, possible sanctions

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ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will convene a high level economy-focused meeting on Friday at which Russian payment system Mir and possible Western sanctions will be discussed, two sources with information on the matter told Reuters.

Erdogan’s meeting with officials will also address agreements with Russia, recent volatility on the Istanbul stock exchange and the general economic situation, the sources said.

Two Turkish banks suspended use of Mir this week after Washington expanded its sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.



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Antigua & Barbuda

Wallings Nature Reserve defies Gov’t request to hand over signage

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The government will surely have to find another way to retrieve the signage from the management of the Wallings Nature Reserve (WNR) because its Executive Director Refica Attwood says she’s holding onto the property of the organization.

Attwood said earlier this week that the WNR was officially pulling its services from the National Parks site including all signage.

But Information Minister Melford Nicholas said the signs that were contributed by corporate sponsors were taken and ought to be returned.  He said the site was never leased, nor was ownership passed to anyone; it was a voluntary arrangement that has now come to an end.

But Attwood said there will be no voluntary return of any signage, saying that none of the signs were donated by corporate Antigua.

“Wallings Nature Reserve Inc bought and paid for the signs. The 32-foot sign is the company’s sign we just did not put it on the usual board as was the norm. That was one of the first things we had to do to ensure people knew where to find us. Ironically the capital letters were hand painted at a value of 10,000 USD per letter so the painting cost 30,000 USD. The artist loving the fact that we followed a popular sign from the U.S donated her work to the company for free,” she said on Thursday night.

Attwood said the green signs bearing our logo, tagline, email address, website, and the designer and support were also not donated.

“The trail map and directional signs were also bought and paid for safety reasons for hikers using the space as an easier way for us to stay at base and assist hikers with getting on and off the trail. I walked the trails and mapped them with a GPS. The trail map is my idea! You should see the rough sketch with me making lots of X’s because I joked to the designer that I can’t even draw a proper stick man,” she said.

Additionally, Attwood said that had the signs been donated as the article claims it would have been clear as day as a part of the design.

“The colored trail flags were paid for in installments getting a company here to understand our financial struggles and building a tangible relationship with them to be constantly replacing the signs. We purchased cloth ropes to protect the trees and stand up to the weather. That idea came from coloring in a book and having to follow numbers and I figured it would be an ideal way to distinguish the various trails. They were printed back and front for safety reasons,” she added.

The flags were designed for people that can tell color but cannot read, for people that can count but cannot read, and for people that can read, identify the color and count with the company’s logo so you know who to call if you need help. The purple trail was supported by a hiking group and the flags had their logo, according to Atwood

“I’m not surprised by the actions of clowns at this point. So for clarity, the signs belong to the company and we have no reason to put them back as we have moved peacefully from the space. Additionally, our partner’s page on the website clearly states who our partners are. It is a requirement that we must honor,” she said.

The WNR had a temporary arrangement with the Agriculture Ministry but something permanent was in the works, and late last month the ministry said a legal officer was working to settle an agreement with the company.

However, Attwood posted photos and videos to social media on Monday showing the removal of signs and other WNR property from the area.

She remained adamant that the organization does not want to enter into a public-private partnership with the government, and stated that the “exceptional” program should continue without the involvement of the government.



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Willikies man fined $19K for possession of gun, bullets and weed

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By Latrishka Thomas

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A recently executed search warrant at the home of a Willikies man led the police to the discovery of an unlicensed firearm, ammunition and cannabis plants.

The homeowner, 28-year-old Casim Watson, was arrested and charged with possession of the gun, possession of five .32 rounds of ammunition, possession of one .357 Magnum hollow point bullet, cultivation of seven cannabis plants, and possession of the same plants.

On Tuesday, the police found the gun under Watson’s pillow loaded with five bullets, while another round was found in his kitchen cupboard.

The plants were discovered in his yard.

The defendant appeared before the All Saints Magistrate’s Court yesterday and admitted to the crimes.

Magistrate Ngaio Emanuel-Edwards then fined him $12,000 with a default prison time of one year for the gun, $6,000 for the ammunition with the possibility of imprisonment for six months if he fails to pay, and $1,000 or one month in jail for cultivating the controlled drug.

He was reprimanded and discharged for possession of the plants.

Watson, who was represented by Attorney Michael Archibald, was given six months to pay the fines.

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Antigua & Barbuda

An Illinois couple will have a few more days to celebrate their anniversary in Antigua after Hurricane Ian grounded their flight home

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WTHR: As Hurricane Ian hammers Florida with high winds and heavy rains, many Floridians and Hoosier natives traveled back home at the last minute to avoid the storm.

Others, unable to travel, are finding themselves temporarily stuck both in the Sunshine State and around the Caribbean as the storm grounds air travel in and out for the next few days.

“We’re on the edge of a hurricane and we’re sitting here where there’s 85 degrees and sunshine,” said Joe Johnston.

With clear skies and warm weather from their Sandals beach resort in Antigua, Johnston and his wife, Connie, thought they’d dodged the stormy weather when Hurricane Fiona swept through the Caribbean last week.

But now, as Hurricane Ian barrels down on Florida’s Gulf Coast, their plans to fly back home to Mahomet, Illinois through Miami and into Indianapolis have hit the brakes.

“It looked like it was going to go more to the Gulf side. Well, then it kind of changed directions and came back in a little bit.  So when I was looking at it today, I thought, ‘This isn’t good.’ And then we got notifications that our flight was canceled,” Johnston said.

As the Sunshine State braces against Ian, Johnston said he and Connie, along with other U.S. travelers in Antigua are stuck a few extra days, unable to fly home until Friday at the earliest.

“You know, at the end of the day, there’s going to be people in Tampa that are going to lose their homes and hopefully nobody loses their life,” Johnston said. “So it’s kind of hard to think, ‘Oh, poor us,’ when there’s all that to think about. But yeah, we’ve gotten lucky over the years and this year, not quite as lucky. But we’re not facing anything like what hundreds of thousands of others are facing.”

Visiting Antigua to celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary at the end of September together, Johnston said he and Connie have always lucked out in traveling the Caribbean during hurricane season. And while the delay in getting back home wasn’t planned, he said they’re still feeling lucky in avoiding Ian’s hardest hits.

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