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Brian introduces pianist - DSC_1646

Badoor pianist Evgeny Kuznetsov thrills children to showcase their experience

by B. Roach

Evgeny Kuznetsov at the Cultural Center piano

A Russian-born pianist whose name is Evgeny Kuznetsov, on January 25, 2019, enthralled children from the primary schools in a piano play exhibition, almost like a recital.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Evgeny-Kuznetsov-thrills-children-at-piano-DSC_1683.jpg

The children were all students of Brian Hosefros who is the most recent music fellow on island through the Montserrat Music Foundation, which was founded by Sir George Martin, to teach and involve children in music on Montserrat.

Brian Hosefrom introduces Kustnetso

Kustnetsov is a graduate from Moscow State University of Culture and Arts. While studying, he won prizes and participated in competitions and festivals such as Russian Youth Scriabin Piano Competition, Moscow Chopin Piano Festival, Tatiana Nikolayeva International Piano Competition, Moscow Liszt Piano Festival. He currently lives in London and plays on venues such as Steinway Hall, 1901 Arts Club and Burgh House.

Brian Hosefrom introduces Kustnetsov

His exhibition for the children was done at his friend Brian’s invitation who says he is desirous of introducing the children to as many varieties of music; and it is hoped to bring out in the children the wealth of talent he has observed that they have. He is allowing them to create and perform music they have written.

This he will showcase on Saturday,  March 9, in a presentation “A Montserratian Fairy Tale by the Montserrat National Youth Choir” at the Cultural Centre. Brian has been working with the students from the various schools to create a production featuring music and a dramatic presentation written and performed by children.

The show is expected to begin promptly at 7.00 P.M. and all are invited to be in their seats on time for the start.

The pianist Kusnetsov shared an article recently published “in our corporate blog,” to be found here at: https://badoo.com/team/press/117/. It appeared under caption – Badooer makes music in Montserrat. The article boasted: “When Evgeny, one of our QA engineers, had the opportunity to go and perform for the Montserrat Foundation to help support the island’s population, of course we jumped at the chance to support him.”

https://badoo.com/team/press/117/ Badooer makes music in Montserrat

Here at Badoo HQ, we like to think we’re always making people’s days a little brighter – bringing new couples together, making dates between strangers possible, coming up with a never-ending stream of romantic puns… But sometimes, we get to take it a little further and actually do some real good. 

When Evgeny, one of our QA engineers, had the opportunity to go and perform for the Montserrat Foundation to help support the island’s population, of course we jumped at the chance to support him.

If you haven’t heard of Montserrat before, or why it’s in need of support, it’s a small island in the West Indies that suffered a terrible volcanic eruption about 20 years ago. The capital city, along with pretty much the whole of the southern half of the island, was buried under about 12m of mud and debris, and several more eruptions, gas clouds and rock flows have further damaged the area since. The whole population had to be evacuated to the northern half of the island, and a new airport, capital city and housing for everyone affected had to be constructed.

More than half the population of Montserrat chose to leave – and have been granted full British citizenship so they can settle here and start fresh – but for the people who decided to stay, the island is still their home. And that’s where the Montserrat Foundation comes in, along with our very own Evgeny.

Evgeny’s been playing the piano since he was seven years old, when the rest of us were still making daisy chains and shooting lasers from our fingers, and his trip to the island was part of the Foundation’s education programme. While he was there, he performed a kind of “lecture-concert” for the children, as he calls it, that included a combo of classical music, contemporary songs and quizzes to make the whole thing more interactive. He also joined in with music lessons and even performed a song by the island’s most popular artist, Arrow.

‘Meeting the people there was the best part of the trip. I met many incredibly talented, fascinating people who work hard to make life on tiny Montserrat better, people who care about education and arts. And the children, with their endless energy, were just amazing!

‘The community on the island is quite small, fewer than 5000 people, so naturally all of the children are very curious about new people – meaning I got a lot of attention! Most of them had never heard live classical music before, and I was very surprised when all of them listened to it very carefully. Then during the pop/rock part, some of them started to sing  – and they sang really well, believe me!’

This isn’t the first time Evgeny’s had the chance to take part in charity events. He recently took part in a 12 hour “piano marathon” in Kings Cross, where pianists played “The Infinite Piano Series” for 12 hours straight to support Amnesty International. However, it is the first time Badoo’s had the chance to support him, and we loved that we got to be a part of his latest adventure.

‘I feel really proud of Badoo. Support for initiatives like this one makes our company not just a place to work, but a place where you feel like people believe in you and your ideas.

‘Life on such a small island is tough for most of the children, but music is powerful and I hope that more of them will expose themselves to the arts. Many them did come to me after the concert with a lot of questions, which makes me think we did the right thing!

‘Overall, it was an incredible experience, and I hope Badoo continues to support other people doing things like this, whatever their activities might be.’

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Teenager commits suicide after mother takes away cell phone

Teenager commits suicide after mother takes away cell phone

by staff writer 

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 4, CMC – A 16-year-old girl is reported to have committed suicide after her mother took away her mobile phone after finding out that she had been posting revealing photographs on social media, the Trinidad Express newspaper reported Monday.

It said that the incident occurred on Saturday when the teenager drank a poisonous statement at her home in Wallerfield in East Trinidad.

The paper reported that a container with “a green liquid” was found in the bedroom.

The mother told police that she had taken away her daughter’s cellphone after relatives discovered she had been posting revealing photographs on social media.

The child was rushed to the Arima Health Facility, where she was pronounced dead

 

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Hands holding smartphones

Smartphones in school: Ban, restrict or allow?

BBC News

Hands holding smartphones

Love them or hate them, smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives. But should they be left outside the classroom?

Nick Gibb, the minister for school standards in England, told the BBC he believes schools should ban their pupils from bringing in smartphones.

Opinions are certainly divided, with many people saying that pupils should be taught how to use their phones responsibly.

Preparation for life after school

Peter Freeth, whose daughters are aged 13 and 18 years old, says schools should do more to integrate phones into the learning experience.

Peter Freeth with his two daughters
Peter Freeth, here with his daughters, says “It’s too late to take phones off kids so get them using them for something valuable”

“Schools expect children to do their homework on computers. They need to use apps in the classroom as part of the process, to watch videos, stream content, log attendance and participate in study groups. Basically, all the things that smart businesses do.”

“Banning phones is based on an old idea that students should sit quietly in front of the teachers. There shouldn’t be a disconnect. In the work place we’re adapting the learning process to the learner. The idea of getting rid of smartphones is about conformity.”

A fantastic power in their hands

Astrid Natley

Astrid Natley says there’s a hypocritical divide where adults “choose to reject the reality of the 2019 world and how so many people function and communicate”

Astrid Natley, an English teacher at a secondary girls grammar school in Lincolnshire, incorporates phones into her classroom.

“My school does not have money for classroom tablets and technology.”

“When students use their phones for research, they learn that they have a fantastic power in their hands. We can give the student the ability to see how education can be accessed at home without it feeling like a despised departure from their own world.”

“For reading difficulties, font size can be increased on their phones; for recording their work, photos can be taken, and I also use group quizzes to engage the students.”

“If we stop children using phones, then we’re rejecting something they care about. Phones are important for them and that’s not going to change.”

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‘No place in a child’s life’

Meanwhile, Yvonne Lockhart, a registered nurse who has worked for community education supports a complete ban.

“I am banned from mobile phone usage at work, and my phone must be ‘removed’ from my person or handed in. If I am caught with it in my pocket, I will be subject to a disciplinary procedure which will impact on my career.”

“We need to teach children how to behave like the professionals they are striving to become. Ban the phones, they have no place in a child’s life.”

Kids are socialising

On Facebook, Tara Blount reveals her children’s school has implemented a ban and are seeing the benefits. Image copyright .

Richard, a secondary school English teacher in the independent sector, thinks there should be a clear separation between school and home.

“We wouldn’t expect children, left to their own devices all day with no formal schooling, to voluntarily pick up text books at home and learn, so it is inherent in the system that they do things differently in the two environments.”

“Children are getting more than enough screen time and access to this technology in their lives without the need to bring it into the classroom. The internet is too easy and too unreliable a research tool, so let’s leave phones and laptops at home, and show them a different world in their lessons – one of books and pens.”

Stop bullying

Assistant head teacher Alison Gill, from Shropshire, agrees an all-out ban is necessary so staff can “do what they’re trained to do and not take on the role of the police or social services.”

“We have a computer suite, where students can use the internet, under supervision. We’ve no way of tracking what they’re looking at on their phones, iPads or smart watches.”

“We have already had a case of harassment whilst a student was off school. Allowing students mobile technology into school adds another layer of issues for teaching staff to deal with and also leads to further confrontations inside and outside of the classroom.”

Safety is key

Many people accept that mobile phones are a very useful way of keeping in touch with children and making sure they travel safely to and from school. Parents with children who have medical conditions say a smartphone is vital to keep tabs on their health.

Insulin pen being administered
Kay Bellwood’s son’s mobile phone monitors his glucose levels

Kay Bellwood’s 11-year-old son has Type 1 diabetes and relies on his phone to to tell him his blood glucose levels.

“His phone has tracking, so if his blood glucose level is too low he can be found if he’s unable to walk or talk. He can send an SOS.”

“It is literally life saving medical technology. A ban would be direct discrimination under the equality act.”

Written by Sherie Ryder, UGC and Social News

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CARICOM Secretary General says youth crime and violence demands a regional solution

CARICOM Secretary General says youth crime and violence demands a regional solution


by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jan 15, CMC – A two-day conference aimed at examining and redefining violence prevention solutions as it relates to youth violence and prevention in the Caribbean began here on Tuesday with the Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Irwin LaRocque, saying it is a regional problem that demands a regional solution.

LaRocque told the conference that has brought together leaders from youth movements, governments, civil society, development organizations and academia that crime and security is an issue that is having an impact on all the 15-members of the regional integration grouping.

CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque

“It is a regional problem that demands a regional solution.  It not only requires the full co-operation of all our countries but also all the stakeholders within the member states.  The multi-state, multi-sectoral response to this challenge is vital for us to succeed in defeating it,” LaRocque told the opening ceremony.

He said a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2012 Caribbean Human Development Report on Citizen Security, noted that crime and violence impose high social, economic and cultural costs.

Crime and violence are development issues and the report recommended that a model of security for the region should be based on a human development approach with citizen security being paramount, he added.

The two day conference, which is being hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, UNICEF, the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat, the St. Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission, and the Caribbean Learning for Youth Networking and Change Sessions (LYNCS) Network., is intended to design transformational youth-centered action to combat crime and violence and address constraints that youth activists face in improving safety outcomes in their communities.

LaRocque told the conference that the youths are the demographic that is most affected by crime and violence and that some of the main findings of recent studies are that the majority of victims, as well as perpetrators of crimes recorded by the police, are young males 18 to 35 years old.

He quoted the UNDP report as indicating that the Caribbean has some of the highest figures of youth convicted of crime with at least 80 per cent of prosecuted crimes being committed by young people between the ages 19 to 29 years old.

“There are a number of socio-economic determinants of crime, not least of which is the high youth unemployment rate in the region of 25 per cent in 2017. That is three times the adult average and highest among young women ages 18 to 30 at 33 per cent,” he said, adding that to combat this scourge, Caribbean leaders approved the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy in 2013, which incorporates the CARICOM Social Development and Crime Prevention Action Plan.

LaRocque said that the plan hinges on a multi-pronged approach, including crime prevention, justice reform, prison and corrections reform, capacity development within law enforcement and border security, and intelligence-led law enforcement.

He said that within the realm of crime prevention, it has been recognised that there is a need to work closely with communities, to address citizens’ perception of, and support for, the security and law enforcement sector.

This involves the development of close collaboration between and among ministries responsible for national security and their counterparts in related sector.

LaRocque said that the Crime Prevention Action Plan and the CARICOM Youth Development Action Plan (CYDAP) are two of the main policy frameworks which guide the design and implementation of policy and programmes in member states to address crime and violence from a prevention perspective and through addressing the underlying social factors.

He said they also seek to create an enabling environment for adolescent and youth well-being, empowerment and participation in national and regional development.

But LaRocque told the delegates that notwithstanding the value of the projects and programmes that are put in place to deal with crime and violence in the region, he is of the firm view, “the core of this battle must be fought in the home.

“Families have a vital role to play in turning the tide of this struggle.  The universal values of love, hard work, honesty, character building, belief in self and self-respect are key weapons.

“The first intervention must be in the home.  It is there that our youths are first socialised. It is there that we must tackle the concept of toxic masculinity which comes out of a false notion of what it takes to be a man,” he said, adding ‘we must demonstrate that gangs, crime and violence are not the answer to a path of success and self-actualization”.

He said conferences such as this one provide an opportunity for young people to be fully involved in providing solutions to problems that affect them.

“The engagement of youth at all levels of the decision-making process is critical for the successful outcome of all these interventions.  It is not only your future that is at stake but your present circumstances.  You must be equal partners in this struggle as your theme, “Youth as Partners and Innovators” suggests,” he added.

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Legal witnesses  testify in parliamentary disqualification trial of opposition leader

Legal witnesses testify in parliamentary disqualification trial of opposition leader

by STAFF WRITER

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Jan. 10, CMC – The case brought against the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas, continued in court Thursday with three expert witnesses on Dominican law making presentations before  Justice Trevor Ward QC to help him determine whether Douglas, through his use of a diplomatic passport issued by the Commonwealth of Dominica, is under allegiance to a foreign power.

The expert witnesses provided by the Government were  Reginald Armour and Justin Simon, former Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda. 

Dr. Denzil Douglas

Both men, who are are Dominican   attempted to show that   Douglas  demonstrated his allegiance to the Commonwealth of Dominica when he travelled on his Dominican diplomatic passport.

The lone expert provided by the defendant was Attorney-at-Law,   Gerald Burton, also a Dominican.

Douglas, in an affidavit filed in the High Court Registry on February 21, 2018, admitted to holding a diplomatic passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica, which he has used to travel. 

He also admitted to filling out and signing an application form for the diplomatic passport he holds, which is valid until July 29, 2020.

The opposition leader has argued that he has not sworn an allegiance, taken an oath of allegiance, nor become a citizen of Dominica.

However, the Attorney General’s Chamber is arguing that  Douglas is in violation of Section 28 of the Constitution after filling out an application form for a passport of another country, being issued with said passport and using that passport to travel, which are positive acts that constitute adherence, allegiance and obedience to a foreign power.

The St. Kitts-Nevis government, through the Attorney General, Vincent Byron, is seeking a declaration from the High Court that, since the election to the National Assembly on February 16, 2015, Douglas became disqualified from being elected as a member of the National Assembly and was accordingly required to vacate his seat in the National Assembly by reason of his becoming a person who, by virtue of his own act, is in accordance with the law of Dominica, under an acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state, namely, Dominica.

Additionally, the government is also seeking a declaration that Douglas has vacated his seat in the National Assembly; an injunction restraining him from taking his seat in the National Assembly and from performing his functions as a member as well as costs, and other relief as the court may deem just and expedient.

Meanwhile,  Anthony Astaphan, lead counsel for Douglas in the Dominica Diplomatic Passport case said  the legal matter   “is a simple one.” “This Diplomatic Passport was given to Dr. Douglas as a matter of professionalism and personal courtesy (by the Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit). He applied for it as required under the regulations. He did not declare a citizenship of Dominica at no time, even when he travelled on his regular passport or on the Diplomatic Passport. His nationality was always declared as that of St. Kitts and Nevis or a Kittitian,”  Astaphan told reporters.

Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has described the matter of one of grave constitutional, political and parliamentary significance to the Commonwealth.

Both sides have until January 25 to submit written submissions based on evidence that was presented in court on Thursday, after which the lawyers will have until February 4 to respond, if necessary.

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DSC_0467

MCC Graduates 20

In 2018 Graduation and Awards Ceremony

By Bennette Roach

The Montserrat Community College in its usual business-like style, conducted its 2018 Graduation and Awards Ceremony, its 13th on Wednesday, December 19 at the Cultural Centre in Little Bay.

Principal Geraldine Cabey hailed by a student for her sternness, “a woman whose presence is like no other, a woman with voice is enough to send chills running you’re your spine…” she had some serious caution for the graduating and other college attendees. In her remarks and report, she informed that the Graduating class has created a new beginning for themselves, whether as a step-up on the next wrung of the academic ladder or as new entrants into the workforce…providing the distinct opportunity especially for our graduants, as well as the institution, to consciously reflect on the academic journey that would have culminated in this event.


Principal Geraldine Cabey

She reported 56 full time students pursuing 26 subject areas, in pursuit of the Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examination qualification at the Certificate, Diploma or associate degree level. In addition, 25 part time students who pursued a combination of both advanced CAPE subjects and secondary level CSEC courses.

She reported an overall 92% subject pass rate for the June 2018 CAPE examinations, achieved by the graduating class together with the current second year students.

The most outstanding performer, the Valedictorian of the class of 2018, Miss JenAlyn Weekes, gained passes in twelve (12) CAPE Units over the two years she spent at the College. Miss Weekes, the principal said: “epitomizes the College’s Motto which is ‘Aspire, Apply, Achieve’”.

Miss JenAlyn Weekes

A notable feature of the ceremony was that every participant was connected with the College, either past or present staff or student, to include Mr. and Mrs. Alfonso Lee for their ‘outstanding’ generosity to the college, in one instance, for painting buildings on the school compound.

The master of ceremonies was Mr. Glenroy Foster who was a one of the first persons to graduate from the college before he moved on to pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering, and who now serves at the Ministry of Communication and Works.

Mr. Glenroy Foster

In his opening and welcoming remarks he said: “Graduation is a time where many reminisce on the years spent at the particular institution.

“I would want to believe that the graduating class could remember times of happiness and sadness, the joyful times and the stressful times and more importantly the friends that they spent all of these times with.

“This institution is a precursor to the traditional 3-year and 4-year university experience.  It gives persons a taste of what to expect in their transition from the secondary school way of education where they are taught to the university situation where they are lectured.”

“There is no spoon feeding,” he told the students.

He shared.  “I believe it is the hope of the MCC, that the two years persons spend at the college would provide them with the necessary tools to aid them in their next step along life’s journey.” Then to the students: “Whether that step be higher learning or that step is becoming a member of the work force,” he reminded… ”this graduation ceremony marks a milestone in your lives and a point where you can look back on what you have achieved as well as look forward to what the future may bring.”

Some entertainment was provided by one student, Miss Okessa Halley giving her rendition of the song ‘One Moment in Time’, accompanied at the piano by the accomplished (staff member) Miss Anne-Marie Dewar.

Miss Okessa Halley

The keynote address, delivered by a graduate of the college of very recent years, Miss Nadia Browne. She was smooth in her admonishments, advice and encouragement.

Straight off, she began with the observation: “I noticed that most of you have left the confines of school life and joined the workforce, while others have opted to further their studies.”

“Regardless of your choice,” she continued, “my message to you this evening centers around your personality. As we hear of the turmoil in other parts of the world and look at the state of our nation, it is evident that society needs its youth to exhibit such qualities as integrity, vision, selflessness, dedication, cooperation and a host of others to function properly.

Miss Nadia Browne

Having noted that it wasn’t long since she had to miss her graduating exercise, because of an exam, she being very much a youth, including herself in her next comment: “The task is ours to set a good example for those who are even younger than us and future generations.”

“Take a moment to think about the person you want to be,” Nadia offered. “Who is that person in society? What will it take for you to become that person? Eventually, you will all be a part of the workforce. In spite of the accolades or lack thereof you gained from your scholastics, you will have to prove yourself to be a competent worker, quick learner and cooperative team-member. What do you want your co-workers to say of you?

“Would you rather be known as the worker who does not shy away from a challenge or the person who is only at work because he or she needs to be paid?

She recommends her personal choices: “I strive to maintain a reputation in my workplace for being an individual who espouses such tenets as responsibility, trustworthiness, dependability, supportiveness, cleverness, fairness, honesty and friendliness, who my coworkers are comfortable interacting with. – and when required in my office – I also try to be loving, demonstrate good listening skills, provide sound advice and exhibit confidentiality.”

There was plenty beyond this. “Who do you think Montserrat needs you to be? An innovator? A peacemaker? An activist? A negotiator? How can the talents you have been blessed with be used to make your nation better?” leaving an audience and college students, impossible not taking something away. Nadia closed: “I hope that at least something that I said tonight will resonate with you… Congratulations once again. I look forward to working alongside you to improve our nation and world.” (See her address here online at www.themontserratreporter.com) with the story.

The prizes, certificates and awards for all students were delivered with the able assistance of Mrs. Oslyn Jemmotte a past Registrar and bursar at the college.

The valedictorian, Miss JenAlyn Weekes was humble as she acknowledged her title of achievement. “I see myself as a representative of a group of valedictorian…” At the end she added: “I wish to urge members of this class, to be grateful for the foundation that his been set and to go out there anad soar like an eagle and accomplish great things,” thanking all those including staff etc, parents and all those who contributed to the journey so far.

The vote of thanks delivered by student Doron Cassel should have ended the day’s events but for the surprise event of an award/gift to the principal Mrs. Cabey. This came with the words as she was acclaimed: “… a stern woman whose presence is like no other; whose voice is enough to send chills running down your spine; a woman when she walks, the sound of her heels echo throughout the school…” So it was a privilege, pleasure and honour, the young man said: “to give this award to none other than Miss Geraldine Cabey, whose looks will make you remember every piece of homework, you think you can trick your teacher…”

The recession of the now graduates, no longer graduants, followed.

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A boat-filled harbour photographed from the air, west of St George

Complacency kills: Caribbean gears up for tsunamis

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-46356998

BBC News

By Philippa Fogarty
Kingston, Jamaica

8 December 2018

A boat-filled harbour photographed from the air, west of St George's, Grenada, in February 2018
Image caption – Island nations like Grenada hope to be tsunami-ready by 2020

The last time a major tsunami hit the Caribbean region was in 1946, after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola.

At Playa Rincón, the sea rushed 700m (2,300ft) inland, according to a man who clung to the top of an almond tree to survive. Waves were 5m high in places and 1,600 people died across the north-east coast. Small tsunami waves were also recorded in Puerto Rico, Bermuda and even New Jersey.

Since then, a handful of tsunamis have occurred – in Panama and Costa Rica in 1991 after an earthquake, and in Montserrat in 1997 after a landslide of volcanic debris. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, sub-sea landslides generated waves that killed three people.

Over the same period, populations have more than doubled and tourist numbers on Caribbean beaches have soared, passing 30 million in 2017. In most places, infrastructure is concentrated in coastal areas.

Experts warn that the region runs the risk of complacency over the tsunami threat.

“The potential for tsunamis is significant and has to be taken seriously,” says Christa von Hillebrandt-Andrade, who oversees the Puerto Rico-based Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program under the US National Weather Service.

“Within the Caribbean and bordering the Caribbean, there are major fault structures and also volcanoes that could generate a tsunami at any time.”

Multiple risks

Key areas are along the north-eastern and eastern boundaries of the Caribbean where the North American and South American plates interact with the Caribbean plate.

Tsunamis in the Caribbean

Presentational grey line

These boundaries include areas of subduction (where one plate is forced under another, as in the Indian Ocean in 2004) and strike-slip motion (where plates are side by side, like the San Andreas fault).

One area to watch is the subduction zone east of the Lesser Antilles, says Dr Robert Muir-Wood, chief research officer at RMS catastrophe risk modelling consultancy and the author of a 2015 report on mega-tsunamis. “We strongly suspect this area is potentially prone to these really large earthquakes, which would be associated with a major regional tsunami.”

Haitian presidential guards lower the Haitian flag on April 19, 2011 in front of the destroyed presidential palace in Port-au-Prince
Image captionHaiti has struggled to recover from the damage caused by a devastating earthquake in 2010

Another series of faults lie north of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and includes the 8,400m-deep Puerto Rico Trench. While this area is not a straightforward subduction zone and there has not been a really significant earthquake along this boundary, there is evidence of massive submarine landslides into the trench and historical reports of local tsunamis, says Dr Muir-Wood.

Big earthquakes have also occurred off the Caribbean coast of Central America and Venezuela.

“The Caribbean is clearly a place where both [regional and local] types of tsunamis can be anticipated, and the key is that simply because an event hasn’t happened in the last 300 years of history doesn’t mean it can’t happen,” says Dr Muir-Wood.

Warning time

Before 2004, Ms von Hillebrandt-Andrade says tsunami warning systems in the Caribbean were “basically non-existent”. But the Indian Ocean disaster sparked action and a regional body on tsunami risk was established under Unesco in 2005.

Significant work has been done to increase the data flow to the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC), which provides alerts to the region.

“Every single country has opened up its seismic data and that has been absolutely critical,” says Ms von Hillebrandt-Andrade.

Today there are 80 sea-level stations and 125 seismic stations sending information, up from five and 10 respectively in 2004. “That has permitted us to reduce our lead time – the time it takes to issue the initial [tsunami warning] product – from 10-15 minutes to under 5 minutes.”

Once PTWC has issued an advisory, responsibility for local alerts devolves to national governments. At this level, Ms von Hillebrandt-Andrade says, capabilities “vary greatly throughout the region”.

A car drives on a damaged road in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on October 2, 2017
Image captionHurricane Maria resulted in thousands of deaths on Puerto Rico after it hit in 2017

Some places, like Puerto Rico, have well-established protocols. Other places are less practised.

In January, when PTWC issued its first international tsunami threat message to the region after a 7.6 earthquake off Honduras, governments in the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, for example, faced questions over their response.

Some governments “had a little bit more difficulty deciding what product they should issue, if they should issue a product, if there really was a real threat”, says Ms von Hillebrandt-Andrade. “Strengths and weaknesses were identified.”

Funding vital

One early aim of the regional body was to establish a centre like PTWC in the Caribbean, but that has been sidelined in favour of improving education. Local tsunamis can potentially reach shore before an alert, and lives can be saved if residents know to seek high ground.

Central to this educational push is the annual tsunami exercise, Caribe Wave, and the Tsunami Ready programme, now adopted by Unesco, which sets out guidelines for communities to meet. So far Puerto Rico, Anguilla, St Kitts & Nevis and the Virgin Islands are certified as Tsunami Ready, while pilot projects have taken place in Haiti and Grenada.

Hurricane Emily is shown in this computer generated NOAA satellite illustration made available July 14, 2005 over the south-eastern Caribbean Sea
Image captionHurricane Emily hit Grenada in 2005

In Grenada the area chosen was St Patrick’s Parish, 8km (5 miles) south of rumbling submarine volcano Kick ‘Em Jenny. Educational billboards, evacuation maps and signs have been posted and an awareness programme carried out.

“We had to get down on the ground and interact with all of the community groups, we worked with the churches, the schools, the fisherfolk, the farmers,” says Senator Winston Garraway, minister of state with oversight of disaster management and information. “From the senior people to the children, they have the information now and they know exactly what has to be done.”

The government wants the whole island to be Tsunami Ready by 2020, starting with a southern parish potentially vulnerable to a tsunami generated off Venezuela. Mr Garraway also wants to establish a nationwide siren system to complement alerts disseminated via radio and TV.

Aerial views of the slopes of the Soufriere Hills showing the destruction and complete loss of the capital of Monserrat, Plymouth and St Patrick's village
Image captionA tsunami hit Monserrat in 1997 after there was a landslide of volcanic debris

But resourcing is a major problem for small island nations like Grenada, which must also address twin challenges of hurricanes and the impact of climate change. “Most of what we have to do, we do not have the ready resources,” says Mr Garraway. “Grant funding is extremely important for us at this time.”

Regionally, work remains to be done. Scientists still do not have the data needed to accurately size very large earthquakes and their type of movement quickly. Tsunami protocols for cruise ships are needed. Better understanding of bathymetry (water depth and shore height) would enable better scenario modelling, but some nations do not have that information.

“Every single country and territory in the region has room for improvement,” says Ms von Hillebrandt-Andrade.

“Tsunamis don’t occur that frequently, so it’s very easy to become desensitised. But the reality is that a tsunami could kill many more people than any hurricane could.”

Related Topics

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Climate/Weather, Education, Environment, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional, Technology, TOURISM0 Comments

CXC Note master - training teachers

OECS / CXC – NotesMaster Montserrat Program Launched

OECS / CXC Media Release

The OECS-CXC-NotesMaster MOE(Ministry of Education) Montserrat program was launched 26-27 November. 

The program has goals of introducing primary level teachers to new e-Learning technologies and increasing there pository of high quality learning resources available to stakeholders across the OECS, freely accessible anytime and anywhere, across all platforms. 

The output from this programme will be accessible via the OECS Learning Hub, where all member states will have free access.

The workshop was spearheaded by Dr. Gregory Julius, Director of Education and Mrs. Zelma White, Senior Education Officer for primary schools from the Ministry of Education Montserrat. Mrs. Hyacinth Bramble, Education Planner, was very instrumental in the successful execution of each day’s proceedings. 

To ensure continuity, MOE Montserrat, will be implementing an Open Educational Resource (OER) development program, that will enable a deeper integration of ICT in the schools. The outcome of this program will form add to the regional repository on the forthcoming OECS Learning Hub. 

A range of new features will be available on the 2019 NotesMaster platform to facilitate a fully virtual classroom with real time video interaction between teacher and student.

Posted in CARICOM, Education, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

PANCAP Director, Derek Springer

Message from the Director of PANCAP, Mr. Dereck Springer

on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2018

PANCAP Director, Derek Springer

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     This year’s World AIDS Day theme “Know your status” encourages us to be tested to know whether we are HIV negative or positive. This theme is very relevant as the world has committed to Fast Track actions towards achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets by the year 2020. The UNAIDS 2018 Global AIDS Monitoring (GAM) report informs us that there are an estimated 310,000 adults and children living with HIV in the Caribbean, of which nearly 55,000 are unaware that they have HIV. 
 
While many people experience anxieties when contemplating being tested, it is good to know that the majority of these will test HIV negative. What is important is those who know that they are HIV negative have an incentive to keep themselves free from HIV by adopting changes to their lives that can reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV. The few who test positive for HIV can have immediate access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs that would enable them to enjoy a good quality life and live much longer.
 
The 2018 UNAIDS GAM report also helps us to understand that we still need to place 74,400 persons who are living with HIV on treatment and 103,000 are yet to achieve viral suppression, that is, having very low levels of virus in the body, even though the virus is still present.
 
Science and evidence show that AIDS can be defeated once we get 90 percent of people to know their HIV status, of those who are HIV positive 90 percent receive anti-retroviral drugs and are retained in care, and 90 percent of those on treatment achieve viral suppression. Once this happens, we are well on the way to achieving the end of AIDS, by 2030.
 
So what is stopping us from achieving these 90-90-90 targets? The biggest challenges we face are persistent judgment and unfair treatment of people living with HIV and persons belonging to key population groups such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, persons who use drugs, migrants and other mobile populations, and persons with disabilities. We judge persons who are different from us and we often times treat them differently. We do so because we do not take the time to understand.  This year’s theme must, therefore, serve as a catalyst for increased strategic advocacy using the PANCAP Regional Advocacy Strategy 2017 and national advocacy plans for increasing political will to remove the policies and legislative barriers that obstruct people from coming forward to know their HIV status. The fear is real as people are concerned that they will be treated differently if they test positive.
 
We must bring into the spotlight the critical need for laboratory improvements and increased coverage in our region. We need more laboratory facilities including those led by the communities themselves to know our status. We need laboratories to confirm community-led HIV screening tests.  We need laboratories and point-of-care diagnostic systems to monitor our viral loads and health care providers who are trained to provide clinical management for HIV-related illnesses.
 
We cannot get people tested if we do not have test kits, the right diagnostic equipment, and the right human resources. When we talk about placing 90 percent of people who are HIV positive on treatment and retaining them on treatment we must also ensure that we do not have stock-outs of key drugs. How can we be taken seriously when we encourage people to be tested and then fail to provide uninterrupted treatment? How can we fail to respond to people living with HIV when sometimes drugs are not available and people become anxious because their health care provider had stressed the importance of adherence to treatment and the impact of non-adherence on their health, including the potential for drug resistance?
 
If we are serious about getting people to know their status, we must move beyond the rhetoric to decisive actions to demonstrate that we understand the full implication of what it means to move someone who tests HIV positive to sustained viral suppression. We must guarantee good quality laboratory testing and laboratory services, uninterrupted treatment and monitoring within our health care system. And we must begin to tackle the reform of the justice system to enable persons who suffer discrimination to obtain redress in a timely manner. This calls for the engagement and involvement of our ministries of justice and attorneys general among others.
 
I call upon our governments and all who can make this happen to take the necessary actions to create an enabling environment in which people who want to know their status can come forward with the knowledge that they will not be treated differently, and that if they test positive they will be provided with the treatment, care and support they need to enjoy good quality lives and achieve viral suppression. Only then can we get them to know their status and begin the journey towards ending AIDS as a public health threat in the Caribbean. 
 
 
 

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Education, Health, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

There is no such thing as “Governor’s powers”

November 23, 2018

In our last couple or more editorials we have commented or drawn attention to what we can expect to see or hear what have been submitted in response to the Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry as to “consider(ing) the resilience of the OTs, how effectively the FCO manages its responsibilities towards them, and how it envisages their future.”

The FCO explained: “As our place in the world changes, we need to think about the effect on them and whether the structure of our relationships still work.”

The Inquiry invoked all kinds of responses, submitted in different ways in terms of the approach, many straying away from the considerations of the Inquiry.

Here, several discussion sessions were set up where the public was invited to participate to air their thoughts, there were radio programs included.

At least fifteen submissions were made from Montserrat, government, organisations, and individuals here and the diaspora.

We have been concerned about what the contents and the quality, as well as the relevance of the submissions. Not surprisingly, several dealt with the subject of what, as we’ve noted before refer erroneously to the “governor’s powers”.

Let us state right here that there is just too much ignorance surrounding he topic, if not merely misunderstanding, misinterpretation, but perhaps a sensible presentative discussion on the issue might suffice. There is not that much to take into consideration to clear the eyes at the front of the minds. The most powerful person in an OT is the Premier, Chief Minister, Chief Islander, whatever the title.

We note that Montserrat is among the latest to have agreed a Constitution nine years ago from the UK. It remains disputed by many as having been rushed and in some areas inappropriate for Montserrat. One of the areas that occupied the discussions up to the UK submitting the final document for acceptance, was the matter of what was termed “governor’s powers”.

We noted that since the passage of the Constitution 2010 we heard no comment ascribed directly to governor’s powers from the first premier, while several others official and otherwise continued to refer to it, as it formed part of many of the discussions on the Inquiry.

A look at most of the OTs’ Constitutional Orders from the UK reveal the matter appearing in varying text, but mostly one does not find the reference strong in terms of powers, rather often as ‘responsibilities’ in the Montserrat Constitution. It follows that their submissions, if at all, dealt with the matter almost just in passing, while calling for a different approach to the management of the topic.

One submission refraining from speaking to the matter directly, instead like most of the more informed submissions, referred to: “the ultimate power of the administrative authority, the British government, to impose legislation by imperial decree on the OTs.”

Sadly, we saw the office of the Legislative Assembly, referencing, “…the heavy-handed imposition of laws from Great Britain combined with the excessively wide range of powers enjoyed by Governors.” There were at least two others who made similar references in even more direct terms.

 

There was also with one really disappointing, maybe not surprising entry which was brief, but spoke exclusively to the topic. Yet another, again not surprising, but one we thought would know better, who was not as direct, but referred to the policy of recruiting governors from the FCO staff – and the arrangement for selecting Governors.

To his credit we noted that the Premier’s submission excluded any such discussion, and so it is hoped that while we don’t claim to like the tone of it, that when he presents orally later, that he does not take on board any such discussion, but some of the submissive thoughts from some of the other responses, that address meaningfully the request from the FAC.

On another level, just like organisations such as FOTBOT (Friends of the British Overseas Territories), the OTs especially that there were many common responses should jointly make an exclusive submission as they have, and have had many established forums through which they can do this, knowing that some should and will enjoy special attention in the end.

That was always the case as it had been expressed time and time before. Ask Alan Duncan who is now very well associated with the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) from whence came the Inquiry.

Posted in Editorial, Education, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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