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CARICOM and Cuba to strengthen relations in key areas of cooperation

CARICOM and Cuba to strengthen relations in key areas of cooperation

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jun 14, CMC – The Cribbean Community (CARICOM)  and the government of Cuba have both pledged to continue to strenthen relations in matters related to trade and the arts.

This was the outcome of talks between CARICOM’s  Assistant Secretary General, Human and Social Development  Dr. Douglas Slater, and  Cuba’s Vice Minister  Rogelio Sierra Diaz, when they met at the CARICOM Secretariat on Wednesday.

The issues related to a Disabilities Project, the extension of Art programmes at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica, and trade.

In the discussions on the Disabilities Project, Slater, who spoke on behalf of CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque,  noted that a tri-lateral  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), among the Government of Guyana, the Government of Cuba and CARICOM had already been signed.

He explained that there was a decision to implement the Project in phases and outlined that a Centre has been constructed by the Government of Guyana and a  team from Cuba is already in  Guyana working on the Project.

He said when the initial phase was completed in Guyana and there was a clear way forward, the Project would be extended to the other CARICOM Member States.

In response, Diaz said firm steps had been taken and there was a lot to be thankful for. He said it was now important to acquire the equipment needed.

In relation to the phase of the Project that would extend it to the other CARICOM Member States, he said that the CARICOM Secretary-General and staff would play a key role in achieving the goals of that phase.

Both parties agreed that there were still some details that needed to be refined between CARICOM and Guyana.

The Cuban Vice-Minister also gave the assurance that Cuba would provide support, knowledge and training, but emphasized that the project belonged to CARICOM.

Turning to the matter of the extension of programmes in the School of Art at the Edna Manley School in Jamaica, the Cuban Ambassador said the Government of Jamaica had been contacted and the areas in which Cuba could provide assistance were identified. He explained that it was being proposed that there might be some additional infrastructural requirements for the project to move forward and various options to address this challenge were being explored.

Slater expressed an interest in further engagement on the matter and also gave an assurance that the CARICOM Secretariat would engage with the Edna Manley School to explore the available options.

Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Integration, Joseph Cox who was also present, spoke about a trade and economic partnership agreement that had been regionally applied in 12 Member States and highlighted that Haiti had now expressed an interest in joining the agreement.

We have commenced our engagements with Haiti in this regard and we will have further engagements with Cuba regarding their inclusion and that should happen in the very near future”, Cox said.

In relation to a Joint Commission in which the second protocol was signed in November 2017, he advised that Member States needed to accelerate their efforts to satisfy the legal requirements to be party to the Commission.

Under the agreement, more than 300 Caribbean products would have fees removed for export to Cuba.

The Cuban Vice-Minister said he understood that there were legal protocols that would have to be addressed, but implored CARICOM not to allow them to create further delays.

The goal of the protocol is to improve trade relations between CARICOM and Cuba.

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CARICOM countries to benefit from new Mexico-FAO initiative

CARICOM countries to benefit from new Mexico-FAO initiative

SANTIAGO, Chile, Jun 15, CMC – At least 14 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries will design multiple projects to mobilize resources from international sources allowing them to improve the resilience and adaptation of their agriculture, food systems and rural communities to change climate.

The projects will be funded under a new initiative created by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID).

FAO Director General, José Graziano da Silva, and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Luis Videgaray, signed the agreement that creates the fund with an initial budget of US$500,000.

They said that the money will be used as a pre-investment resources that will mobilize millions of dollars for resilience and adaptation projects.

“Thanks to the support of the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation, 14 CARICOM countries will design 27 projects to mobilize resources against climate change,” said the FAO Director General.

“We all know that the Caribbean is one of the region’s most vulnerable to climate change. We saw it in the last hurricane season, when the islands of Dominica and Barbuda were practically destroyed,” said Videgaray during the signing agreement in Rome.

The countries that will develop the projects are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Ten of the projects will be presented to the Green Climate Fund, 12 to the Global Environment Facility and five to various European Union mechanisms. They will focus on vulnerable rural communities facing climate risks.

The fund between Mexico and FAO will also support CARICOM countries develop their institutional and technical capacities for planning, decision-making and project management, to enable them to better cope with natural disasters and extreme weather events, the FAO said.

Mexican experts and specialists from FAO will work side-by-side with their Caribbean counterparts in the design and implementation of the projects.

“The fund is a combination of financial resources and human resources,” Videgaray said.

Both the FAO and Mexico say building resilience requires improving the quality of infrastructure through actions such as rectification and strengthening of river channels and burying power lines, but these are expensive investments and the Caribbean countries do not always have the necessary capital to implement them.

“That’s where international funds come in. This initiative from Mexico and FAO will allow countries to obtain much needed resources that are currently available but that many times Caribbean countries cannot access, because their projects have to improve from a technical standpoint,” Videgaray said.

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico explained that the fund signed between FAO and Mexico is an agreement open to other countries.

“We already have the good news that the government of Canada is going to come on board with resources. And this is key because the challenge is enormous. We must recognize that the Caribbean is not generating climate change but that it is one of the most affected regions, so we all have the responsibility to contribute, ” Videgaray added.

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EU promises assistance to Caribbean in developing biodiversity strategy

EU promises assistance to Caribbean in developing biodiversity strategy

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jun 15, CMC – The European Union (EU) has reaffirmed its financial support for regional sustainable development while acknowledging the need for the development of a Caribbean biodiversity strategy over the next 5 years.

Chargé d’Affaires at the EU Delegation in Guyana, Layla El Khadraoui, told the participatory regional workshop for the development of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Biodiversity Strategy that Europe, which has been a “reliable friend” to the region is hoping “that the exchanges throughout this workshop will guide the discussion towards a concise Regional Biodiversity Strategy for the next 5 years.”

Chargé d’Affaires Layla El Khadraoui at the
EU Delegation in Guyana,

Describing the EU as “the world’s largest contributor” to cooperation for development and climate financing, she said it increasingly integrates climate change into its broader development strategy.

The diplomat said much work she noted has been done with the UN Environment “to build a strong regional approach to the conservation and management of marine and terrestrial biodiversity in the Caribbean, focusing initially on Cuba, Haiti and Dominican Republic” with a budget of Euro 3.5 million (One Euro=US$01.29 cents).

She said with an additional budget of Euro 40 million, the EU will also be providing support to 12 of its ‘overseas territories’ through a regional programme focusing on resilience, sustainable energy and marine biodiversity.

She described climate change as “burning priority” of the EU for which it is using 20 per cent of the funds from the contributors by 2020 for projects and programmes related to climate change and disaster risk reduction.

El Khadraoui said those financing priorities are with the knowledge that the Caribbean Sea region is particularly sensitive to natural and climate related disasters.

“Each year hurricanes are a risk for many of the islands, and they are expected to become more intense in the future because of climate change.

“Various Caribbean countries are fringed by mangroves, sea grass meadows and coral reefs, all of which form an interrelated ecosystem that is not only important to the economic and social well-being of the islands and countries, but they are key elements for adapting to the countries’ increasing vulnerability to these more intense natural events associated with climate change.,” she said.

She noted for examples that the mangroves, sea grass meadows and coral reefs not only provide well-documented protection against strong waves and storm surges during tropical storms and potable groundwater supplies, but they provide food, shelter, habitat, important nursery grounds and reproductive areas for many species.

“Mangroves and sea grasses also capture significant volumes of CO2 released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels,’ she said, while underscoring the critical importance of proper management of biodiversity.

“Most tourists appreciate the beauty of landscapes and seascapes like healthy coral reefs, beautiful beaches and other ecosystems that provide a broad range of essential services that would be either expensive, or impossible to restore or replace once they are lost.”

Therefore, she added, “investing in protecting and building the resilience of nature´s free services on the land and in the sea is a necessity for the well-being of the islands’ and countries’ future generations,” El Khadraoui told delegates.

Meanwhile, the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat says it is resolved to present to the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) by year’s end, a CARICOM Biodiversity Strategy (CBS) that will guide the protection and sustainable use the Community’s natural resources.

Assistant Secretary-General of the Directorate of Human and Social Development, Dr Douglas Slater, said this effort is collective and timely to accelerate progress in achieving regional commitments under the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity (CBD).

The CBS is an output under the Caribbean Hub sub-component of Phase II of the Programme for Capacity-Building related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

The process has been funded by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund and has received implementation support from UN Environment, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), CBD Secretariat.

The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) is aiding the development of the CBS for the CARICOM Secretariat and is also facilitating the workshop here.

Dr Slater noted that biodiversity and the regional economy are “deeply interconnected.”

He said the natural ecosystems of the region provide the people of the region with essential goods and services such as food and nutrition, medicine, recreation, fuel, storm protection, and climate resilience.

He said for those reasons, it is critical to “pause and take stock.”

The CARICOM Secretariat, in collaboration with UN Environment, has therefore coordinated the preparation of a progress report titled State of Biodiversity in the Caribbean – A review of the progress towards the Aichi biodiversity targets which will be released shortly.

Dr Slater said CBS will allow COTED to advice on the post-2020 biodiversity priorities for the Region and establish linkage to the Small Island Developing States (SIDs) agenda as well as the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

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Campaign to combat childhood obesity launched

Campaign to combat childhood obesity launched

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun 15, CMC – Barbados has launched a campaign aimed at addressing childhood obesity and the government has said it is examining the feasibility of restricting foods high in salt, fat and sugar from the school environment and from being marketed to children.

Health and Wellness Minister, retired Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, speaking at the launch of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Campaign, cited a report by researchers at the University of the West Indies (UWI) showing that in 1987, only 8.5 per cent of Barbadian school children were obese.

However, by 2010, the percentage rose to 32.5 per cent and it is now projected that the figure could increase to 50 per cent by 2030.

“Childhood obesity is harming Barbados through its impacts on the health and social fabric of the country. Not only is the burden of obesity in children large but it is projected to continue growing unless we take decisive action,” Bostic said.

He said that the impacts of childhood obesity on health encompassed issues such as increased risk of adult obesity and increased risk of non-communicable diseases, depression and anxiety.

The campaign, an initiative of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados, and dubbed “Stop! Yuh TOO Sweet,” will initially focus solely on the support of policy change to ban the sale of sugary sweets in schools.

Bostic gave the assurance that the government was committed to addressing the issue in several ways including working in partnership with a variety of agencies.

Other initiatives include promoting breastfeeding as an integral part of early child nutrition; supporting the monitoring of growth and development in early childhood; and encouraging regular physical activity in school-aged children.

He said that the Ministry would be engaging the food industry on reducing the production, manufacture, distribution and marketing of energy-dense and high-salt foods.

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Ant

Get Rid of Ants Cheaply and Naturally

the balanceeveryday

Home Remedies for Ants

Search online for “ways to get rid of ants,” and you’re likely to turn up page after page of results, but which ones work and which ones don’t? It’s not so easy to decide. Save yourself the hassle of sifting through the lore, and give these cheap, natural and science-based ant remedies a try.

 

  • 01

    Vinegar

    Ant
    •••

    Wipe down your countertops, cupboards and any other places where you’ve spotted ants with a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water. Repeat the process throughout the day to maintain the efficacy. In addition to repelling ants, vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner.

    Why This Works: Two reasons, really: ants hate the smell of vinegar, and it removes the scent trails that they use to get around. Observe ants for a little while, and you’ll see that they all follow the same path in and out of your house. If you eliminate their scent trails, it will give you a serious leg up in the battle.

    Warning: Vinegar is not safe for natural stone countertops. If you have granite, marble, quartz or some other type of stone countertop, use your regular spray cleaner to wipe down your counters instead. It’ll still help with the ants

 

 

 

  • 02

    Chalk/Baby Powder

    Chalk pieces
    •••

    Draw a line of chalk in front of the spot where the ants are entering your home. It’ll act as a barrier that they won’t cross. Refresh your chalk line periodically, so it continues to work.

    Why This Works: No one is really sure. Some people think it’s because ants don’t like the calcium carbonate in the chalk. Others think it’s because the chalk line interrupts their scent trails. Whatever the reason, it seems to do the trick. Try it, and see for yourself. This is one time you could even put your kids in charge of the pest control.

 

 

 

  • 03

    Borax

    Borax
    •••

    Mix together equal parts borax and either syrup or jelly (borax and sugar also work). Then, place the mixture where the ants will find it. If you have small kids or pets, be sure to put it out of their reach. It may be natural, but it’s still toxic.

    Why This Works: Once consumed, borax damages both the ants’ digestive systems and their outer skeletons, which means certain death for them.

 

 

 

  • 04

    Herbs/Spices and Essential Oils

    Cinnamon
    •••

    Sprinkle cinnamon, mint, chili pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cloves or garlic in the area where you’ve seen the ants. Then, treat your home’s foundation in the same manner. Placing bay leaves in cabinets, drawers, and containers can also help to deter ants.

    Certain essential oils have also proven to be effective against ants. Place a few drops of peppermint, citrus, eucalyptus or cinnamon oil on some cotton balls. Then, stick them in problem areas. Replace them as the scent wears off.​

    Why This Works: Many plants – including the ones listed – give off a strong scent to repel ants and other insects in the wild, and they work just as well in your home. Use something other than peppers, if you have pets or small children. The capsaicin in the peppers can irritate mucous membranes. Essential oils should also be kept out of the reach of children and pets.

  • 5

    Coffee Grounds

    Coffee Grounds
    ••
    Are you a coffee drinker? If so, get in the habit of sprinkling your used coffee grounds in the garden and around the outside of your house.

    Why This Works: Ants are repelled by the scent given off by the grounds; and incidentally, so are cats. This makes them great pest control. Since coffee grounds are full of minerals, like potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium, they also happen to be great for the soil in your garden.​

  • 06

    Cucumber/Citrus Peels

    Cucumbers
    •••

    Leave cucumber or citrus peels in areas of known ant activity to send them on their way.

    Why This Works: Cucumber and citrus peels are toxic to the types of fungi that ants feed on, so ants do their best to avoid them. If you’re battling ants in your kitchen or bathroom, switch to cucumber or citrus-scented cleaners. For the best results, look for products that are scented with actual citrus or cucumber oils. Synthetic fragrances won’t have the effect you’re after.

 

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Summer Grilling Could Expose Your Skin to Cancer-Causing Chemicals

Summer Grilling Could Expose Your Skin to Cancer-Causing Chemicals

https://www.livescience.com/62640-bbqs-skin-cancer-causing-chemicals.html?utm_source=notification

 
 

Credit: Shutterstock

Summer barbecues may expose you to potentially cancer-causing chemicals in a surprising way: The chemicals may literally get under your skin, a small new study from China suggests.

The study found that people who sat around a grill were exposed to chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) through their skin. PAHs can be produced from the burning of organic substances, such as coal, gasoline and wood; they also form when meats are cooked using “high-temperature methods,” such as panfrying or grilling, according to the National Cancer Institute. Exposure to these chemicals has been linked with an increased risk of certain cancers.

But most previous studies have focused on exposure to PAHs through food or the air, rather than through the skin.

The new study, however, found that during grilling, people absorbed higher amounts of PAHs through their skin than through the air, the researchers said. Still, the greatest levels of exposure to PAHs occurred through eating the barbecued meats, the researchers noted. [9 Disgusting Things That the FDA Allows in Your Food]

It’s known that exposure to smoke can put people into contact with carcinogens, including PAHs, that can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled, said Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, chief of occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York, who was not involved with the study. But barbecues probably don’t represent that great a risk for most people, he said.

In general, there’s no level of exposure to carcinogens that’s completely safe, although the lower a person’s exposure, the better, Spaeth said. However, most people probably don’t need to be overly worried about absorbing cancer-causing chemicals through their skin while attending a barbecue, if they don’t do this frequently.

“For the average person, it’s not likely to end up being a real major worry, since most people don’t engage in this activity all the time,” Spaeth told Live Science. But moderation is “prudent” when it comes to how much barbecue smoke people are exposed to and how often, and how much they eat meats cooked with these high-temperature methods, Spaeth said.

In the new study, the researchers looked at data from 20 men who attended a barbecue for 2.5 hours in Guangzhou, China. The participants were divided into three groups: One group ate barbecued meats and took no special precautions to avoid exposure to smoke through the air and through their skin; a second group didn’t eat any meat, but was exposed to the smoke through the air and through their skin; and a third group didn’t eat any meat and wore a special mask to prevent inhalation of smoke but was still exposed to smoke through their skin.

The researchers collected urine samples from the participants before and after the BBQ and also collected air samples during the BBQ, to analyze for PAHs. The scientists also calculated estimates of each participant’s uptake of PAHs through food, the air and their skin.

As the researchers expected, consuming the grilled meat was linked with the greatest level of PAH exposure. But the researchers estimated that absorption through the skin was the second-highest PAH-exposure route, followed by inhalation.

The study also found that people’s clothing may lower the amount of PAHs that are absorbed through the skin over the short term. But once clothing is saturated with smoke, the skin may absorb larger amounts of PAHs, and so the researchers recommend washing clothes soon after leaving the grilling area to reduce exposure.

Spaeth said he agreed that wearing clothes like long sleeves and long pants would be one way to reduce exposure to PAHs at a BBQ. In addition, the type of fuel a person uses can affect the amount of PAHs produced, with propane producing much lower doses of PAHs compared with charcoal, he said. Finally, barbecuing in a well-ventilated area, such as outdoors as opposed to inside a tent or confined area, could lower exposure to PAHs, Spaeth said.

The study was published today (May 23) in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Original article on Live Science.

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cdb

CDB adds electric vehicle to transportation fleet

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 10, CMC  – The Barbados based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has added an electric vehicle to its transportation fleet, as part of its commitment to advance a clean energy agenda in the Region.

cdbThe vehicle, a Nissan Leaf Tekna purchased through the company Megapower Ltd. – based here, produces zero emissions and will reduce the Bank’s carbon footprint as it transports packages and officials throughout the island.

Energy security is a consideration integrated throughout CDB’s work ,both within the organisation and throughout its Borrowing Member Countries, under the Bank’s 2015-2019 Strategic Plan.

In 2015, CDB adopted an Energy Sector Policy and Strategy that set out the CDB’s approach for tackling the Region’s energy challenges, including emphasising energy security and access; prioritising renewable energy and energy efficiency; and promoting a holistic approach to energy sector

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The docking of two robotic spacecraft, the Tiangong 1 space station and Shenzhou 8 capsule, provided a preview of larger Chinese space complexes planned for the future.

Farewell, Tiangong-1: Chinese Space Station Meets Fiery Doom Over South Pacific Ocean

 

An artist’s concept of China’s Tiangong-1 space station prototype burning up in Earth’s atmosphere during its fiery fall back to Earth overnight on April 1-2, 2018.

Credit: Alejandro Miranda/Alamy

Tiangong-1 is no more.

China’s prototype space station, whose name translates as “Heavenly Palace 1,” met a fiery end in Earth’s atmosphere today (April 1), breaking apart and burning up in the skies over the southern Pacific Ocean at about 8:16 p.m. EDT (0016 April 2 GMT), according to the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Force Space Component Command (JFSCC).

“The JFSCC used the Space Surveillance Network sensors and their orbital analysis system to confirm Tiangong-1’s re-entry,” U.S. Air Force officials wrote in a statement. [Tiangong-1: China’s Falling Space Station in Pictures

Some pieces of the school-bus-size Tiangong-1 almost certainly survived the fall, but the odds that they caused any damage or injury are extremely small: You had a less than 1-in-1-trillion chance of getting hit by a flaming chunk of the heavenly palace, according to experts with the Aerospace Corporation. 

By the way, if you do manage to find such a chunk of Tiangong-1, don’t pick it up or breathe in any fumes emanating from it. The space junk may be contaminated with hydrazine, a toxic rocket fuel, experts have said.

Tiangong-1 was about 34 feet long by 11 feet wide (10.4 by 3.4 meters), and it weighed more than 9 tons (8 metric tons). The space lab consisted of two main parts: an “experimental module” that housed visiting astronauts and a “resource module” that accommodated Tiangong-1’s solar-energy and propulsion systems.

https://www.space.com/40101-china-space-station-tiangong-1-crashes.html

The docking of two robotic spacecraft, the Tiangong 1 space station and Shenzhou 8 capsule, provided a preview of larger Chinese space complexes planned for the future.
The docking of two robotic spacecraft, the Tiangong 1 space station and Shenzhou 8 capsule, provided a preview of larger Chinese space complexes planned for the future.

Credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com Contributor

The craft launched without anyone aboard on Sept. 29, 2011, to an orbit about 217 miles (350 kilometers) above Earth. That’s slightly lower than the orbit of the much larger International Space Station, whose average altitude is 250 miles (400 km). Tiangong-1’s main mission was to help China master the technologies required to assemble and operate a bona-fide space station in Earth orbit, a goal the nation aims to achieve by the early 2020s, the country has said.

On Nov. 2, 2011, the robotic Shenzhou-8 spacecraft visited Tiangong-1, executing China’s first-ever orbital docking. Another big milestone came in June 2012, when a crew of three spaceflyers linked their Shenzhou-9 vehicle to the heavenly palace and came aboard for a spell.

Three more “taikonauts,” or Chinese astronauts, visited in June 2013, traveling on the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft. Each of these crewed missions lasted about two weeks.

Tiangong-1’s design lifetime was just two years, and the space lab’s work was mostly done after Shenzhou-10 departed. The empty space lab continued to do some Earth-observation work, however, and researchers and engineers kept in touch with it until March 2016, when data transmission between Tiangong-1 and its handlers stopped, for reasons that China never explicitly specified. At that point, an uncontrolled atmospheric re-entry was apparently inevitable.

This is the view of outside researchers. But Chinese space officials dispute such terminology, said Dean Cheng, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation who’s an expert on China’s space program. [The Biggest Spacecraft to Fall Uncontrolled From Space]

“The Chinese insist that it is controlled,” Cheng told Space.com. “They’re very, very unhappy when you use this term ‘uncontrolled.'”

Chinese officials say that they know where Tiangong-1 is and can provide location updates at any time, Cheng added. But for other spacefaring nations, a “controlled” re-entry is one performed under the guidance of a spacecraft’s handlers — for example, the intentional de-orbiting of the Soviet/Russian Mir space station over the Pacific Ocean in March 2001. 

https://www.space.com/40101-china-space-station-tiangong-1-crashes.html

“We should be diplomatically, and in the space-policy world, pushing China to accept a definition of ‘control’ that is comparable to that of the rest of the rules-based world. You don’t get your own definition,” Cheng said. “To support that, there need to be some sticks here,” he added, referring to consequences.

The re-entry of Tiangong-1 was tracked by the JFSCC, the U.S.-based analysis group Aerospace Corp., the European Space Agency and scientists around the world as part of a global space-debris tracking network. 

“The JFSCC works alongside government, industry and international partners to track and report reentries, to include today’s Tinagong-1 reentry, because the space domain is vital to our shared international security interests,” JFSCC deputy commander Maj. Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander of the 14th Air Force, said in the JFSCC statement. “One of our missions, which we remain focused on, is to monitor space and the tens of thousands of pieces of debris that congest it, while at the same time working with allies and partners to enhance spaceflight safety and increase transparency in the space domain.”

“All nations benefit from a safe, stable, sustainable, and secure space domain,” Whiting said. “We’re sharing information with space-faring nations to preserve the space domain for the future of mankind.”

Tiangong-1’s successor, Tiangong-2, launched to Earth orbit in September 2016 and hosted three visiting astrpnauts a month later. And a robotic vessel called Tianzhou-1 rendezvoused with Tiangong-2 a few months later, performing several automated docking and refueling operations from April 2017 to September 2017.

The success of these missions apparently has China poised to start building a permanent space station. The nation aims to begin construction and assembly operations next year, and the first crewed missions to the outpost could come in 2022, Chinese space officials have said.

Tiangong-1 is not the biggest spacecraft ever to fall from the sky. That distinction goes to the 140-ton (127 metric tons) Soviet/Russian space station Mir, which was guided to a controlled destruction over the Pacific Ocean in March 2001.

The largest craft ever to come down at least partially uncontrolled is NASA’s 100-ton (91 metric tons) space shuttle Columbia, which broke apart as it was returning to Earth on Feb. 1, 2003, killing all seven astronauts aboard. An investigation later pinned the cause of the disaster on a piece of foam insulation from Columbia’s external fuel tank, which broke off and punched a hole in the heat shield on the orbiter’s left wing during launch, two weeks before the tragedy.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com

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Dominica aerial

Trinidad blanks support for Dominica at OAS meeting

 
 

WASHINGTON, Mar 28, CMC – Trinidad and Tobago has blanked support for hurricane ravaged Dominica that was seeking to get a waiver on its assessed quota contribution to the Organization of American States (OAS) for the 2018-2019 period.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador to the OAS, Anthony Phillip Spencer, said despite the “goodwill” expressed by the other delegations, including those from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), his country would not support the waiver, adding that Port of Spain would instead consider supporting either the “deferral of payments of contributions by member states and where possible the implementation of a payment plan”.

Dominica aerialDominica is recovering from the destruction caused by the passage of Hurricane Maria on September 18 last year and the island had gone to the OAS meeting here last week urging member countries to approve of the waiver.

The island’s alternate representative to the hemispheric body, Judith-Anne Rolle, told the Special Meeting of the Permanent Council on March 23 that the post disaster assessment situation in Dominica undertaken in collaboration with a number of regional and international organisations, including the World Bank and the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) had painted a very dismal picture of the island.

“The post disaster needs assessment also concluded that Hurricane Maria resulted in total damages of US$931 million and losses of US$382 million to the productive, social, infrastructure and cross cutting sectors amounting to 226 per cent of the GDP9 gross domestic product) of 2016, ” she told the meeting.

She said the cost associated with the reconstruction of the country had been estimated at more than US$1.3 billion, recalling the words of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit that ‘we have lost all that money can buy…and we would need help of all kinds”,.

The diplomat said that every sector of the Dominican economy had been impacted by the hurricane, a category 5 storm with the greatest loss being recorded within the agricultural sector at 33 per cent, followed by the tourism sector at 19 per cent.

She said that in assessing its international obligations, Dominica has identified as ‘a mitigating measure waiver facilities of its annual contributions over a specified period to address its commitment to international organisations.

“It is in this regard that we have forwarded a request for a full waiver of quota contributions assessed the Commonwealth of Dominica for the years 2018 and 2019 for consideration and approval of this Council.

“Let me on behalf of the government of the Commonwealth of Dominica record our profound appreciation to all member states for their continued and invaluable support to the Commonwealth of Dominica as we advance recovery efforts in our homeland,” she told the OAS meeting.

But Spencer told the meeting that while “Trinidad and Tobago would like to reiterate solidarity with all member states that have been …impacted by Hurricanes Irma, Maria and the other devastating storms…in the last hurricane season”, his country is aware of the situation having been among the early responders to Dominica’s pleas for assistance.

“Trinidad and Tobago has had itself to explicitly express a position that it is unable to facilitate any increase in its own assessed contributions. Given the explanations provided by the chair of the CAP, this delegation must advice distinguished colleagues that at other multilateral fora in the hemisphere, Trinidad and Tobago has had to explicitly state its concerns for the overall impact of adjustments in the established arrangements for payment of quota contributions.

“In doing so Trinidad and Tobago has offered the proposal, the opportunity, the option for consideration of the deferral of payments of contributions by member states and where possible the implementation of a payment plan, subject to review, of course given that you never know how long adjustment and capacity to return to the normal arrangements…,” Spencer said.

He told the OAS meeting that “in those circumstances…Trinidad and Tobago would wish to offer its express reservations again here, without prejudice at all for the concerns we share with all member states for the very dire circumstance in which our own sister CARICOM state currently is”.

The Trinidad and Tobago diplomat said that recognising there is a commitment of all member states including Dominica ‘once it is within its capacity to do so to fulfil its responsibilities for the payment of its assessed quota of contributions.

“In this regard…this delegation is appreciative of consideration given to this matter. This delegation recognises the goodwill expressed by the delegations. This delegation wishes to itself join in expressing goodwill in attending to this matter, but consistent with the position adopted in other multilateral fora in the hemisphere, this delegation again wishes to offer for consideration, the option of the deferral of payments of contributions, and where possible the implementation of a payment plan subject to annual review,” Spencer said.

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PCJ seeks to assure measures being taken to preserve environment as it searches for oil and gas

 
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 21, CMC – The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) says it is taking all measures to ensure environmental preservation during its search for oil and gas on the island’s south coast.

PCJ’s Oil and Gas Manager, Brian Richardson, told a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank that protection of the environment while undertaking its engagements is a pivotal part of the entity’s mandate.

oil spillHe said that the Corporation and its partner in the exploration exercise, Tullow Oil, have been abiding by this in accordance with stipulations from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), which is monitoring the project.

Richardson said NEPA, as an independent body, “has looked at what Tullow Oil is doing and has seen that they are doing the appropriate work, which is reflected in the international community”.

He noted that two 2D surveys have already been conducted by the companies, and “we have not had any issues.

“We are going to go through it a third time, and I don’t believe we are going to have any issues,” he added.

While pointing out that environmental risk is an ever-present possibility, Richardson said that “the way you manage it is to try and reduce that actively, and we have a company who actively pursues that”.

He said that in addition to the seismic vessel, there will also be smaller scout vessels around to protect fragile marine environment so that the various life forms do not cross the path of the large vessel.

PCJ Manager Corporate Affairs and Communications, Camille Taylor, said the survey vessel will also have marine mammal observers on-board.

She noted that these individuals have the authority to stop the survey if they think there is any risk to marine life, adding that “they will pretty much be directing when and where (things are done), and their top priority will be to preserve marine life”.

Taylor said that “as it is, seismic surveys are non-invasive and they (persons conducting the exercise) tend to be very respectful of marine life.

“The PCJ is taking every precaution, (and) with NEPA and the marine mammals observers on board, it is assured that marine life will not be harmed”.

Oil and gas exploration activities being undertaken by the PCJ and Tullow Oil, which began with an agreement in 2014, will shift into a higher gear with the initiation of the first-ever 3D seismic survey in the waters off Jamaica’s south coast between the Pedro Banks and Portland Cottage this month.

PM says electoral victories in Grenada and Antigua send strong messages

March 23, 2018
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ROSEAU, Dominica, Mar 24, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Friday said that the “clear and strong mandates’ given to the incumbent governments in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda should serve them to implement policies geared towards “the re-fashioning and revitalisation” of their respective economies.

Browne skerrit
Prime Minister Gaston Browne (left) and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit (right) with CARICOM Secretary general irwin La Rocque (File Photo)

Speaking on the state-owned DBS radio, Skerrit in extending congratulations to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, whose Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) won 15 of the 17 seats in Wednesday’s general election, said it showed that as in the case of Grenada, the electorate had “evaluated all options and determined it would be better not to tinker or tamper with a formula that is working.

“All may not be well with everyone and for everyone in Antigua, but voters obviously took the picture and broader picture into consideration and stick with the incumbent party,” Skerrit told radio listeners,

“I believe the message we can draw from both the Grenada and Antigua election outcomes is that stability at this time is crucial. If what you have is working for you then it is better…to stay with it.

“These large mandates have given each respective government the opportunity to make hard but needed decisions with respect to the re-fashioning and revitalisation of their respective economies,” Skerrit said, warning that ‘these economies in the English-speaking Caribbean are at a very crucial stage.

“We cannot wish natural disasters away nor can we pretend that there aren’t international forces acting against our very best interest. Therefore governments in the region need a mandate to act and I think both the Grenadian and now the Antigua and Barbuda governments have been given such a strong and clear mandate to bring about needed reforms”.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell led his New National party (NNP) to a complete washout of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Grenada winning all 15 seats for the second consecutive occasion on March 13 and the third time overall since 1999.

Skerrit said that he was looking forward to working with both governments “in the furtherance of the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) and OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) missions and agenda.

“To the losing NDC in Grenada and the UPP (United Progressive Party) in Antigua and Barbuda, I commensurate with Mr. Nazim Burke and Mr. Harold Lovell, I wish their respective organisations the very best wishes in their efforts to re-organise and re-position themselves.”

Skerrit said that in the case of Antigua and Barbuda, where “hundreds” of Dominicans reside, the outcome of the election was important.

“It was important for us that these elections were conducted in atmosphere of free from fear, violence or intimidation. We wish the very best for Antigua, because when Antigua prospers, Dominican families prosper as well”

But as he has said in the past, Skerrit reiterated that opposition parties in the Caribbean were becoming very critical of existing government policies without having developed any meaningful alternatives.

“It speaks to the fact that electorates are really in many instances fed up with the negative rhetoric coming in from political quarters,” he said, including his own country as part of that malaise.

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