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First the weather:
80 degrees in Crown Bay St. Thomas
75% humidity.
29.99 30.01 Barometric Pressure – rising
Wind from east at 11 MPH – Mostly Clear Skies
No rain in the last 24 hours.  36.21” so far this year.

National Weather Service says:  Partly cloudy with a 30% chance of rain. High of 84F. Breezy east winds at 15 to 20 mph.

Cruise Ship News Summit at Havensight Dock
Brilliance of the Seas in Frederiksted.

At the top of the news on Friday DECEMBER  28

Today is the Kwanza day of Ujima  - it means Collective Work and Responsibility.  It means to build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.

News from Washington will have an impact here. The US Government is at an impasse and we are about to experience a tax hike and cut in services – they call it the Fiscal cliff.  The Governor commissioned a study   Bureau of Economic Research  by Wharton Berger the Director of our He reports that the impact of the fiscal cliff would be felt on three levels: spending reductions would eliminate $10 to $12 million in grant funding each year for a decade; the end of the Bush era tax cuts would wipe away deductions that benefit many Virgin Islanders.  This will also raise personal and corporate tax rates; the national impact would reduce disposable income of the people who travel here which will hurt the tourism industry.

He said it would be difficult to estimate the exact cuts to federal programs. But you can assume there will be reductions in Head Start and special education grants; HIV, cancer screening and immunization programs; substance abuse programs; veterans assistance programs; job training and employment services; child care subsidies for working parents; and programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Cuts in these programs means cuts in services.

Despite the dire predictions, Governor John DeJongh says he is optimistic that a deal can be reached to avert the fiscal cliff. There must be spending cuts and new revenues to reduce the federal deficit. The Governor said “I am confident federal lawmakers will make a deal to avoid an unnecessary economic blow to the entire nation, one that would have an extremely negative economic impact on our territory at a time when we are undergoing recovery.”

Just for background - In 2011, President Obama and Congress agreed to Budget Control Act, requiring $900 billion in automatic spending cuts over the next decade, and $1.2 trillion more in cuts set that kick in on January 2 of the new year. Unless – the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction developed alternative deficit reduction plan. They did not - yet.

There is news – ironically about new grants the Department of Health got from Washington.  Delegate Dr. Donna Christensen says the first grant is for $1.5 million dollars issued by the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. This grant is for immunizations and vaccines for children. The second grant, of $59 thousand dollars comes from the National HIV Center, and will fund the territory's HIV Surveillance Project, salaries of staff, participation in national planning, and supplies.

There is other news, HOVENSA is holding the price on gasoline at the rack in St Croix. No gas price change. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs says prices will be stable for a while.

Today Friday for Kwanzaa on St. Thomas in 5 PM to 9:00 PM. Shere is a screening of a movie called “500 years later “ and “Motherland" followed by an open dialogue at Aryans Bar and Restaurant in Subbase.

The E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary school Band Boosters have the 2013 Community Birthday Calendars just in time for the Christmas Season. They will be conducting Calendar Sales Today and Saturday ONLY . Only one thousand calendars will be available for $5.00 each at FirstBank Water Front; FirstBank Port of Sales; and FirstBank Tutu; Today and Saturday ONLY

The Vincent Mason Senior Pool in Frederiksted St Croix is closed for its annual maintenance and warranty repairs until Sunday, January 12. Vincent Mason Senior Pool in Frederiksted will re-open on Monday, January 13th – normal hours 9 to 5.

CeCe's Closet 2nd Chance Boutique will close its doors TODAY.   They will remodel and reopen but right now there are bargains at CeCe’s closet. Every dollar earned goes to programs and services for victims of crime in our Territory. The store is next to the Family Resource Center office. Come help them get ready to close - 776-3966.

Crucian Christmas Festival – Sunday December 30 we have boat races at noon and culture night at 8:00 PM in the Village. New Year’s Eve December 31 the Youth Talent show at 8:00 PM in the Village.

Addie’s "Face to Face" program about the Next Generation Network will air on Saturday, December 29 at 5 pm and again January 23 at 8 pm and January 26 at 5 pm.  In the program, President Larry Kupfer and Kevin Hughes of the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN) will discuss  the broadband initiative for the Virgin Islands and provide an update on where the project stands. 

The Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas invites the public to hear Stuart Eizenstat,
the top official in Carter and Clinton administrations, speak about our new reality in light of the rise of political Islam and a changing Middle East.  Stuart Eizenstat’s talk is open to the public, this evening at 7:15 in Lilienfeld House, across and up one house from the Synagogue. The talk follows the 6:30 Sabbath Evening Service.

Free healthy breakfast on Saturday morning from 10 AM to 11 at UVI sports and fitness Center. Come learn about health and fitness and how to be more energetic with some information about nutrition. Saturday morning of the sports and fitness Center from 10 to 11.

Lieutenant Governor Gregory R. Francis is asking Virgin Islanders to refrain from the practice of firing guns on New Year’s Eve. He wants us to avoid the risk of injury and discourage violence at the start of 2013.   He says “This practice of firing weapons shows no regard for the health and safety of our community.  It is not a Virgin Islands tradition - like the ringing of church bells to celebrate the new year,” Francis stated.  “It goes against our cultural traditions of bringing in the New Year peacefully with family and friends and enjoying New Year’s Eve festivities without fear of being injured by a stray bullet.  Let us welcome 2013 in ways that demonstrate our resolve to end gun violence.”  Francis expressed his wish that a peaceful start to 2013 will set the tone for the remainder of the year.

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