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Dominica Opposition party wants answers on Ross University departure

Dominica Opposition party wants answers on Ross University departure

While St. Vincent PM says no blame should be afforded to his regional colleagues on Ross University

ROSEAU, Dominica, Aug 14, CMC – The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) is calling on the Dominica government to make public the recent 25 year agreement it signed with the US-owned Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) that still allowed for the school to be relocated in Barbados.

“Given the apparent support of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit for the relocation of Ross University to Barbados, the people of Dominica have a right to full disclosure of the 25-year agreement that allowed this to happen without notice. We need to know what are the unmet government obligations under the agreement that allowed Ross to relocate without breaching the agreement,” the UWP said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Skerrit announced Ross University, which had been forced to relocate its operations to St Kitts and the state of Tennessee in the United States following the passage of Hurricane Maria last September, would be leaving the Eastern Caribbean nation after 40 years.

His announcement was followed by a press conference in Bridgetown where Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and the president Adtalem Global Education and chief executive officer at Ross University,  Lisa Wardell, announced that Bridgetown would be the new home of the American university by January 5, 2018.

The Skerrit administration said it had informed the RUSM that it could have resumed its operations on the hurricane struck island even before the start of the January semester in 2019.

The island’s ambassador to the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS), Vince Henderson, speaking on a radio programme last Tuesday night, read from a three-page letter Prime Minister  Skerrit had sent to the university in July indicating that plans were advanced for the resumption of classes in Portsmouth, north of here.

“It is my fervent hope that all things considered there will be a much earlier re-opening of the campus that has been indicated in your earlier communication and during your visit in April 2018,” Skerrit wrote in the July 9 letter to Wardell.

Opposition Leader Lennox Linton

But in its statement, the UWP said that after 40 years of serving as a major engine of economic activity in Dominica, “the Prime Minister found it impossible to negotiate even a phased withdrawal that would give the country at least 12 months to cushion the devastating blow and prepare for adjustments”.

It asked “what exactly does the agreement provide?”

The party said that the circumstances of the termination “allow us to conclude that the Prime Minister failed to deliver on the investment support and public infrastructure improvements that had to be addressed satisfactorily within the context of the agreement to facilitate a return of Ross. What exactly does the agreement provide?

“There was a particular concern about accreditation by the Dominica Medical Board and the future of Ross in Dominica. What exactly does the agreement provide?”

It said that the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation in the United States  is authorized to evaluate the standards of accreditation applied to foreign medical schools and to determine their comparability to standards applied to medical schools in the United States.

“This determination of comparability of accreditation standards by NCFMEA is an eligibility requirement for foreign medical schools to participate in the US government’s student financial assistance program and is therefore extremely important to Ross.

“Yet, under the watch of the Prime Minister who made himself directly responsible for Ross, there has been no determination, for more than 10 years, that accreditation standards in Dominica are comparable to those of the United States,” the UWP said.

The opposition party said “instead of coming clean with the people of Dominica to facilitate learning the lessons that will avert a similar catastrophe in the future, the Prime Minister is busy confusing the issue and creating distractions.”

The party said it has also taken note that both the chief economic and political advisor to Prime Minister Skerrit are Barbadian Avinash Persaud and Hartley Henry, both of whom serve in the same capacity to Prime Minister Mottley.

“These advisors had the inside track on the challenges faced by Ross in Dominica and were no doubt asked to advise both Prime Ministers. What was their advice to their Dominica boss about facilitating Ross to stay in Dominica?

“What was their advice to their Barbadian boss about facilitating Ross to relocate to Barbados? Did they even advise their bosses that they should, as CARICOM partners, meet with the owners of Ross to work out the best way forward for Dominica – a CARICOM Single Market and Economy country that stands to lose the significant development benefits of a 40-year investment relationship?

“Only Barbados is benefitting from this glaring conflict of interest in which the same political and economic advisors serve masters in Bridgetown and Roseau,” the UWP said.

On Monday, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said he would not blame either his Dominican or Barbadian counterparts for the controversy surrounding the decision of the US-owned Ross University to re-locate to Barbados.

Speaking at a news conference, Gonsalves told reporters that he had received information “from different sources” and he does not believe that ‘anyone can reasonably blame Prime Minister (Roosevelt) Skerrit (of Dominica) of losing Ross University neither can one reasonably blame Mia Mottley of poaching Ross University.

“The matter which comes out stark to me first of all is that the business entity has no loyalty to any country or any community if that loyalty conflicts with what they perceive to be their immediate, medium term long term interest,” Gonsalves said.

No blame should be afforded to regional colleagues on Ross University

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Aug 13, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Monday said he would not blame either his Dominican or Barbadian counterparts for the controversy surrounding the decision of the US-owned Ross University to re-locate to Barbados.

Speaking at a news conference, Gonsalves told reporters that he had received information “from different sources” and he does not believe that ‘anyone can reasonably blame Prime Minister (Roosevelt) Skerrit (of Dominica) of losing Ross University neither can one reasonably blame Mia Mottley of poaching Ross University.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

“The matter which comes out stark to me first of all is that the business entity has no loyalty to any country or any community if that loyalty conflicts with what they perceive to be their immediate, medium term long term interest,” Gonsalves said.

Over the weekend, the Dominica government called for an end to the “unwarranted verbal attacks” against the Barbados government as a result of the decision of the university to re-locate after 40 years there.

“The decision to relocate to Barbados was a decision taken solely by Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). The relationship between Barbados and Dominica is longstanding and amicable. The people and Government of Barbados have always stood with us both in good times and most recently in difficult times,’ Skerrit said in a radio and television broadcast.

The Skerrit administration said it had informed the Ross University School of Medicine that it could have resumed its operations on the hurricane struck island even before the start of the January semester in 2019.

The island’s ambassador to the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS), Vince Henderson, speaking on a radio programme last Tuesday night, read from a three-page letter Prime Minister  Skerrit had sent to the university in July indicating that plans were advanced for the resumption of classes in Portsmouth, north of here.

“It is my fervent hope that all things considered there will be a much earlier re-opening of the campus that has been indicated in your earlier communication and during your visit in April 2018,” Skerrit wrote in the July 9 letter to the Adtalem Global Education president and chief executive officer at Ross University,  Lisa Wardell.

“I wish to assure you that all the arrangements we discussed for the accreditation for Ross by the Medical Board have been acted upon to meet the desired expectation,” Skerrit added.

Last week,Prime Minister Mottley denied there was anything underhanded by her administration into accepting the Ross University School of Medicine’s move to the island.

“Barbados came into the picture, only when, for Ross University, returning to Dominica for the start of the January semester in 2019, was not an option. This is not and has never been a case of poaching or enticing anyone away from Dominica,” she said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Skerrit announced Ross University, which had been forced to relocate its operations to St Kitts and the state of Tennessee in the United States following the passage of Hurricane Maria last September, would be leaving the Eastern Caribbean nation after 40 years. Hours later, Mottley and Wardell held a press conference in Bridgetown indicating that Barbados would be the new home of the American university by January 5, 2018.

In her statement, Mottley said while she could not speak for or on behalf of Ross, “the hands of the Barbados Government are clean in this matter”.

Gonsalves said Ross University was built in Dominica, recalling that “when Ross went to Dominica in 1978 …they started with 80 students, they would have had a hurricane in 1979…that did not stop them, they were just up and running, they came back.

“They have had other hurricanes. The Barbados government, nobody could tell Ross that there will be no hurricane in Barbados. Barbados has had hurricane in the past.

“They (Ross) have assessed where they are. The back to back hurricanes were probably the occasion, the spark for them having consideration for moving. But they would have assessed that their immediate, long term interest is no longer with Dominica”.

Gonsalves said the decision by Ross was “clearly” not based solely on the weather.

“Look, Grenada is outside the hurricane belt more than Barbados. They say Grenada is south of the hurricane belt but what happened in 2004. Ivan blow down the whole place including the medical school and they build it back better because they saw their long term interest being there in Grenada….”

Gonsalves recalled that when the off shore medical schools were first coming into the region, some Caribbean countries campaigned against them saying “they are bad for the medical profession.

“Now their thinking is clearly different,” he said, adding he is unaware if the medical professionals in Barbados “are yet convinced about having it (offshore medical school).

“It is going to be interesting to see how those medical doctors going to work with the medical students at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I am sure they would be working out all of those problems and I don’t want to be negative about that, but I come back to the fundamentals that you can’t reasonably blame Roosevelt Skerrit or Mia Mottley.

“The thing is this between the decision to leave somewhere and to go somewhere else is always some period of uncertainty and that has to be sorted out…and they decided they going to Barbados. But basically 40 years of Ross in Dominica, clearly they did not consider that to be of any importance to them,” Gonsalves told reporters.

 

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Government reviewing dress code

Government reviewing dress code

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Aug 15, CMC – Less than a week after the Jamaica government announced it had suspended the no sleeveless policy after reviewing the longstanding practice of prohibiting women wearing sleeveless attire from entry into government buildings, another Caribbean island is following suit.

The Antigua and Barbuda government said it had appointed Social Transformation Minister Samantha Marshall to undertake a comprehensive review of the policy that prohibits people from wearing certain types of clothing when accessing services at government departments.

Marshall said that her ministry has already started the process and is also holding discussions with other Caribbean islands to learn from best practices.

“In the past, we have used what is the old-time sort of thinking in terms of dress code. Right now, we have to appreciate that we serve the people and we have to accept that there are ways in which persons may present themselves,” Marshall told the OBSERVER Media.

She said that if an individual is not dressed in a vulgar manner, he or she should be allowed to conduct their business.

Marshall said that the present policy is not mandated by law, but is a rather a rule that was adopted a few years ago.

“We are in consulting stages, we are hoping that within two to three weeks we can have an initial report to present to the Cabinet and we are hoping very shortly that there will be a change in the policy,” Marshall said.

Last week, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness in a statement said he has formally given instructions for the suspension of the no-sleeveless policy and instructed a full review of government dress code practices.

“It has been found, that while the practice exists to prohibit persons who wear sleeveless from entering Government buildings through “dress codes” established within particular Ministries, Departments and Agencies, there is no law or official government policy on which these are based. “

“To ensure the formulation of a proper policy, in the medium term, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport has been mandated to formulate, subject to consultation, a government dress code policy that is aligned with modern considerations as well as the climatic realities of Jamaica,” the statement noted.

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St. Kitts-Nevis P M promises no new taxes under current administration

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Aug 15, CMC – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Timothy Harris has promised that citizens will not have to worry about any new taxes for the time remaining in his administration’s term in office.

Team Unity – an alliance of the Concerned Citizens’ Movement, the People’s Action Movement, and the People’s Labour Party, led by Dr. Harris – assumed power in the February 2015 general elections. With another year and a half left in the current term in office, Dr. Harris said the focus is on alleviating poverty.

“No new taxes are contemplated during the life of this Team Unity administration. We believe that through appropriate management, through the consistent growth of the economy and through the necessary administrative efficiencies in tax collection, we believe in reordering our incentive programme, the government will be able to collect adequate revenues to finance the programmes which are required by the people,” he said on local radio programme ‘Straight Talk’ on Monday.

Prime Minister Harris said it was important to initiate programmes to assist the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. He assured that the government stood ready to help where necessary.

“I would say that, by and large, the programmes in which we are engaged are not frivolous programmes. The fact that people are poor and need help is a matter to which we must respond and we must respond appropriately,” he said. “It is a commitment of this government to do all that we can to alleviate poverty in the country because no one ought to be living demeaning lives and, at the same time, the government through the variety of social and other interventions would want to ensure that people can move from poverty into prosperity.”

The Kittitian leader reminded that alleviating poverty and economically empowering residents form part of the government’s good governance and prosperity agenda.

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Caribbean broadcasters meeting in Jamaica

Caribbean broadcasters meeting in Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Aug 14, CMC –Caribbean and international broadcasters are meeting here amidst calls for regional governments to adapt to the new media environment of which social media is now a critical part.

Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Ruel Reid, addressing the 49th annual General Assembly of the Barbados-based Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), Tuesday, said that it was also necessary for Caribbean societies to guard against insularity as well as to take their place in the discourse in the global geo politics.

“I encourage our governments to adapt to our new media environment of which social media is now a critical part – embrace social media as an additional means to engage with our citizenry, encourage youth participation in our democracies and build trust in our systems.

Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Ruel Reid

“We see the power of the media in the #MeToo Movement – and it is from advocacy against gender based injustices in the West to campaigns for girls to access to education in the East that now cannot be muted given the coverage through multiple media platforms.”

But Reid said that the shift to the online world has also brought many new social problems.

“For example, children and young adults are particularly vulnerable to cyber-bullying, revenge porn, internet addiction disorder and other forms of deeply problematic internet use. One of the worst problems is that some gangs now record their criminal acts, including murders and rapes, which they then post on social media and share via WhatsApp in order to exult in their ‘success’, humiliate their victims, devastate their families and intimidate others. These posts/shares encourage imitation and retaliation, resulting in a vicious cycle of reciprocal violence. “

He said that a less-obvious but equally troubling problem is that as traditional news outlets have become less profitable, they are also losing some of their primary news-gathering and fact-checking capacity.

“The loss of authoritative and independent sources of news means that many people now obtain their information from closed loops of like-minded people, which encourages political tribalism and increases vulnerability to fake news and manipulation via social media.”

Reid said that a number of state agencies, criminal and terrorist organizations and mercenary hackers now have the ability to destabilize countries by penetrating their communications, compromising their infrastructure and manipulating elections with fake news.

He said the cost of a cyber-hack/fake news attack has fallen dramatically as the necessary skills have spread through the hacker community, which means that these attacks are likely to be much more common in future.

“So the critical issue for our countries now is that our regulatory framework must focus on protecting vulnerable persons such as children, adolescents and young adults against malign content; our States must take steps to improve national media literacy.

“Media must ensure that it maintains high media quality with particular regard to factual content, support national and citizen security, and protect the integrity of our democratic systems,” he told the delegates.

Reid recalled that while there had been the Ferguson riots in the United States against the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager Mike Brown in 2014, Jamaica was grappling with the Mario Dean tragedy.

Deane was reportedly beaten while in police custody and later died. That matter is still before the courts. Reid said that the ordinary citizen’s perspectives were amplified alongside traditional broadcast journalists and media houses’ coverage ensuring appropriate focus on the issues attendant on both security and justice.

He said tools available to journalists, civil society and the public at large, such as access to information (ATI) legislation must not be underused.

“Just recently, use of our ATI Act exploded the widely held view that women were not allowed to wear sleeveless shirts and or dresses to conduct business in government establishments, effectively proving a barrier to access timely government services.

“Human rights activist and blogger Susan Goffe utilized the Access to Information Act to request from a number of government Ministries, whether this enforced dress code was originated from any policy document. Following the request it was revealed that no policy prohibited women’s access to government buildings in sleeveless shirts or dresses. The national discourse again ignited, and this is where these discussions can influence policy,” he said.

Reid noted the challenges to the survival of indigenous Caribbean media recognising that the global media industry is in the middle of a profound transformation.

“We have left behind the era in which the media industry was organized and regulated by infrastructure -radio, television, telephone, print etc.-. Today, content flows over many different networks and technologies.”

He said that news, information, entertainment, education, directions, home management and shopping, translations and many other services are all now digital streams that can be directed to the nearest screen.

“Many different services can now be handled on the same networks, and different services can be transmitted on a number of competing networks using different and combined technology platforms. This means that the flow of content is no longer controlled by infrastructure.

“In addition, it is now possible to provide media services without the need to have any local presence at all, or ownership of any infrastructure – other than access to the internet- , which makes it increasingly difficult to regulate effectively within a single jurisdiction, let alone by a given technology.”

Reid said that these changes mean that the traditional divisions by region and infrastructure are becoming less and less relevant.

He said in the new era, consolidated content is the heart of the media world, while infrastructure and devices are delivery channels.

“This has implications for how we will regulate, paying particular attention to what flows through an increasingly diverse array of pipes.

“The media and communications sector today is in the business of conveying both specialized and mass information across the rapidly eroding borders of broadcasting. Television and radio, business and market information, education, entertainment, publishing, advertising, telecommunications, motion pictures, home videos, video games, computer databases, and other information products are all now digital streams which run across different networks, including many that flow through some of the currently unregulated spaces”.

Reid said that content, defined broadly, is now a most critical factor and it is where value is generated and added.

“Content is now the critical determinant of the economic dynamism and prosperity of an economy.

We in the Caribbean must take note that media firms are now competing against technology firms that can operate in unregulated and untaxed spaces while accessing advertising revenue. The traditional media organizations therefore are losing both audience and income.”

Reid said between  2012 -2014 the audience for radio fell from 21 per cent to 19.6 per cent; the audience for Free-to-Air TV fell from 25 to 23.2 per cent and newspaper readership fell from 22 to 20.6 per cent as people switched to the internet and international cable.

He quoted from a 2015 document by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that argued that the creative economy of which Film and Television and Media Arts & Communications are apart, is an important part of global trade.

“The global market for traded creative goods and services totalled US$547 billion in 2012.  Growth rates stood at 8.6 per cent annually from 2003 – 2013, showing the strength and resilience of the sector despite the economic deceleration of the world economy,” the document stated.

But Reid said that there are advantages to some of the profound changes in the media landscape with one of the most significant gains being the shift from traditional to non-traditional platforms and stimulated many new creative and business ideas, as many people are now both consumers and providers of content.

“News, information and entertainment are no longer the sole province of the traditional creators and distributors of content, the broadcast and print media. In an era of citizen journalists, Facebookers, Tweeters, bloggers and vloggers, the average person is both consumer and creator of content. “

The Assembly which is being held under the theme “Building Resilience to Climate Change: Business, Technology & Content Options for Caribbean Media,” ends on Wednesday.

 

 

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Montserrat Innovation Days to Open this Week

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 By TMR staff

OCTA Innovation Newsletter – Montserrat Innovation Days reveals: The Government of Montserrat is organising Innovation Days in Montserrat on 16th and 17th of August 2018. Innovation Days will be held under patronage of the honourable Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat, who will personally open the Montserrat Innovation Days. That will be great occasion for local both public and private stakeholders to gather and to exchange relevant knowledge and best available practice in different aspects of sustainable development of the island.

Mrs. Janice Panton MBE

Mrs. Janice Panton MBE, UK and EU Representative for the Government of Montserrat and Chair of the OCTA Innovation will present Association of EU Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTA) and OCTA Innovation, EU funded project for propelling innovation in the OCTs. As an introductory speaker at the Montserrat Innovation Days, Janice Panton will particularly highlight her call upon the heads of the governments of the EU Overseas Countries and Territories to embrace Systemic Innovation for the sustainable development of their territories.

The Premier’s Office on Tuesday this week, provided some more details. The linkages between innovation and sustainable development will be the focus of discussions on Montserrat for the ‘2018 Innovation Days’, being organised by the Government of Montserrat with support from the local Innovation Advisory Board.

The ‘Innovation Days’ are scheduled for Thursday August 16 and Friday August 17 at the Montserrat National Trust starting at 9:00a.m. on both days.  The event will be launched on Thursday morning by Hon. Premiere Donaldson Romeo who will deliver opening remarks. Other speakers scheduled to deliver remarks at the opening ceremony include Government of Montserrat’s UK Representative and Chair of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) Innovation, Mrs. Janice Panton, and Brussels based OCTA Innovation Team Leader, Milan Jezic von Gesseneck.

The Brussels based OCTA Innovation Team Leader and the local Innovation Advisory Board explained that the ‘Innovation Days’ are intended to assist in enhancing sustainable development through innovation solutions for economic diversification.  The event targets both local public and private stakeholders, encouraging exchanges of relevant knowledge and best available practice in different aspects of sustainable development of the island.

During the sessions, Milan Jezic von Gesseneck, will lead a group of EU experts who will provide some lectures and transfer of knowledge on the best EU practices to Montserrat. Milan in particular will share his knowledge and experience in innovation and sustainable development; Innovation, entrepreneurship and green business expert from Trinidad and Tobago, Alan Cooper, will share his knowledge and regional experience in policy support for innovation, entrepreneurship and green business development; while development and tourism expert James McGregor, will bring the best worldwide practice and experience in visitor economy. Some members of the local Innovation Advisory Board will also deliver presentations based on their areas of specialisation.

In addition to the Innovation Days on August 16 and 17, a round-table discussion on the ‘Creative Industry’ is also being planned for Monday, August 20 starting at 9:00a.m. at the Cabinet Secretariat’s Conference Room.

The OCTA Innovation programme assists Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in propelling innovation and creativity through the organisation of local ‘Innovation Days’. Innovation Days are events held in the OCTs, ranging from one day up to several days, with support from the Brussels based OCTA Innovation Team Leader, and features lectures and trainings from experts.

Creativity in Monserrat has been recognised: handmade craft items specific to Montserrat. Emerald Isle Ceramics won OCTA Innovation BIC Award 2017 in creativity field.

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Brexit and housing crisis combining to cause exodus from London, think tank finds

Brexit and housing crisis combining to cause exodus from London, think tank finds

Information that should be of vital interest particularly to the Montserrat discourse

Caitlin Morrison
 
 

A combination of unaffordable housing and Brexit has led to an “exodus” from London, with an increasing number of young people moving elsewhere to live and work, according to new research.

Analysis by think tank Centre for London showed that job numbers in the capital reached 5.9 million at the end of June this year, up 1.9 per cent compared with the same month in 2017 – and the highest level since records began in 1996.

However, the group warned that this was driven by a “significant growth” in the number of people moving away from London to rest of the UK, and a slowdown in international migration, suggesting that the city is become a less desirable place to live and work.

London recorded the slowest rate of population growth in over a decade, at almost half the rate of the previous year, the research revealed.

A spokesperson for Centre for London said: “The continuing affordability crisis and the prospect of Brexit are dampening the city’s appeal, with the former seen as driving the rise in the number of people in their mid-twenties to thirties leaving the capital.”

In July the average rent for London rose above £1,600 for the first time on record, according to the latest Homelet Rental Index, and while house price growth in London has slowed in recent months, the average price in the second quarter of this year was £468,845 – more than double the national average of £214,578.

Meanwhile, the think tank said there were other factors spurring people on to leave the capital, with quality of life indicators such as crime and pollution worsening over the last year.

Figures showed that a balance of 106,000 people moved away from London in the 12 months to mid-2017, up 14 per cent on the previous year, which “suggests that people are looking for an alternative to London to live and work”, Centre for London said.

Net international migration dropped by 34 per cent year-on-year, to the lowest level since 2013.

The research also showed a 16 per cent decline in the number of foreign nationals registering for national insurance numbers, with a 25 per cent drop among EU citizens.

Vicky Pryce, a board member of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said the news on job creation in the capital was “very welcome” but added: “For London, long believed to be better able to absorb shocks like Brexit due to its diversity, housing affordability and rising living costs in the capital [it is] encouraging an exodus.

“Any loss of EU workers and the likelihood of services not being covered by any Brexit deal would leave the City particularly vulnerable.”

The prospect of a no-deal Brexit has become more likely in the last few weeks, with Bank of England boss Mark Carney last week admitting that the chances of the UK leaving the EU with no agreement in place were “uncomfortably high”, and the pound has fallen to 11 month lows against the dollar and the euro off the back of no-deal concerns.

Meanwhile, Silviya Barrett, research manager at Centre for London, said: “While some might interpret the drop in migration and population growth as easing the pressure on infrastructure and public services, in the longer term it has the potential to threaten their viability and significantly damage our economy.”

She added that although unemployment data was encouraging, falling 0.4 per cent to 255,000 since last year, “declining pay levels and stalling productivity are signs that there could be stumbling blocks on the horizon”.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics last month revealed that UK wage growth had slowed to its weakest pace in six months.

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Two fisherman nabbed and charged in major drug bust

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, July 31, CMC – Two fishermen—a Vincentian and a Grenadian—were remanded to prison on Monday following a drug bust involving almost EC$1.5 million worth of cannabis.

Cosmore Francis, 37, of Rose Bank, St. Vincent was charged with possession of 655 pounds of cannabis with an estimated street value of EC$1,485,540; while Kyron Alexander, 43, of Soubise, St. Andrew, Grenada, was charged with conspiracy to traffic a controlled drug.

They were also jointly charged with trafficking in a controlled drug.

A police statement said the two were nabbed during a recent drug bust.

When they appeared in the Grenville Magistrate’s Court on Monday, they were denied bail.

They will reappear in court on August 10.

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Passengers describe escaping wreckage of Aeroméxico plane crash

Officials say at least 80 passengers were injured and 49 were hospitalized, reports CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave. Two people, including the pilot, are in serious but stable condition. The airline’s CEO says the plane was 10 years old, “perfectly maintained” and was last serviced back in February.

When emergency crews arrived on scene, the Embraer 190 was largely intact, but on fire, with some passengers still inside. The head of Mexico’s civil aviation agency says it could take months to pinpoint the actual cause of the crash.

The flight was headed from Mexico’s northern state of Durango to Mexico City. Durango’s governor says the plane made it off the ground, but was hit by a gust of wind as it left the runway causing the plane to land abruptly on its left wing, forcing the engines to catch on fire just a few hundred yards from takeoff.

 

There was a strong explosion that hit the plane, recalled passenger Lorenzo Nunez. He said he didn’t know if it was a lightning bolt or a mechanical problem and that they had just taken off when the plane fell.

Another passenger described escaping the wreckage with her son. She said she was lucky enough to turn around and there was a hole somewhere in the plane. She unbuckled her son’s seatbelt and got out that way.

Other passengers described people being trapped at the back of the smoke-filled plane and helping others make it out of the flames.

“It was a miracle that no one so far has fatally been injured,” retired airline captain Ross Aimer said. “I would say this would have been a 1 in 100 chance that we had no fatalities.”

The maker of the plane, Embraer, says it sent a team of technicians to the scene of the crash to support the investigation. The U.S. Embassy says they do not have confirmation on whether any Americans were on the plane. Durango’s governor says some survivors who got out of the plane on their own power even wandered back to the airport looking for their loved ones.

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UK Foreign Office Minister for Overseas Territories to visit BVI

UK Foreign Office Minister for Overseas Territories to visit BVI

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jul. 29,   CMC – The United Kingdom (UK) Foreign Office Minister for the Overseas Territories, Lord Tariq Ahmad, of Wimbledon will visit the territory between July 31 and August 1 to discuss hurricane preparedness and view progress on recovery.

Lord Tariq Ahmad

As part of his two-day visit, the government  says that Lord Ahmad and Premier Dr.   Orlando Smith will visit a number of public sites affected by last year’s hurricanes.

During his visit, Lord Ahmad will be updated on the how the UK’s support is helping recovery efforts and will officially hand over the new purpose-built temporary Court House to the Government.

This court house will allow the Supreme Court and Magistrates’ Court to “function fully while a permanent building is constructed,” the statement said.

  Lord Ahmad will also visit the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Mounts Bay, which will remain in the region throughout the hurricane season to provide rapid assistance to islands, if needed.

RFA is a civilian-manned fleet owned by the UK’s Ministry of Defense, whose purpose is to support the Royal Navy to maintain operations around the world.

The BVI Government said Lord Ahmad will meet with the Board of the Recovery and Development Agency “to be updated on their progress and efforts to deliver the six-month accelerated plan ahead of endorsement of the longer term Recovery and Development Plan by the House of Assembly.”

“The UK has played a critical role in assisting the region to recover from last year’s unprecedented and devastating hurricanes, providing aid and support to help British Overseas Territories,” said Lord (Tariq) Ahmad, ahead of the BVI visit. “However, I know there is still more to be done before the islands are fully recovered, and the UK stands ready to help.

“We are already working with partners across the Caribbean to make sure plans are being put in place to prepare for future hurricanes, so we do not see a repeat of last year’s destruction,” he added.

The BVI Government said Lord Ahmad will also “seek to address concerns about the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act when he meets with Premier Smith and the Cabinet.”

In addition, Lord Ahmad will meet with members of the financial services industry, and business and tourism representatives.

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, Hurricane, International, Local, Police, Regional0 Comments

Epeak World  News

Done Telling Trump’s Lies, ICE Spokesman Slams Racist Propaganda, Resigns

Epeak World  News

ICE has lost a good man

about Sanctuary cities

done telling trumps lies ice spokesman slams racist propaganda resigns

A spokesman from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has resigned for a surprising, yet expected reason: he could not stand delivering the Trump Administration’s propaganda.

His name is James Schwab, and for the past two years he worked as a public affairs officer for the San Francisco division of the immigration law enforcement organization. San Francisco has become controversial in recent years due to the Trump White House and Republican Party’s renewed attack on sanctuary city initiatives, which San Francisco has had since 1989.

Sanctuary cities, for those that do not know, are municipalities with local policies that prevent state law enforcement officials from deporting illegal immigrants. Contrary to the fear-mongering nonsense propagated by conservative outlets, the purpose of sanctuary cities is to actually encourage cooperation between law enforcement and citizens since illegal immigrants are less likely to report crimes to the police if they fear losing family members to deportation.

Schwab no doubt understands that, which made his job much harder when the demonstrably racist Trump Administration directed ICE to increase their deportations in the country in late February 2018. California in particular came under scrutiny when Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf publicly warned her constituents about an upcoming raid in her area. A decision that has earned her a lot of notoriety from the Trump Administration.

Schaaf was soon accused by ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan of protecting “864 criminal aliens and public safety threats,” a number which Schwab claims was nonsensical. Speaking to The San Francisco Chronicle, the former spokesman stated that he tried to get the statement changed, but to no avail:

“I asked them to change the information. I told them that the information was wrong, they asked me to deflect, and I didn’t agree with that. Then I took some time and I quit.”

Schwab’s words reveal a level of Orwellian tactics being employed by the Trump Administration. The words “newspeak” and “doublethink” were coined in George Orwell’s “1984” to refer to government attempts at manipulating the public through language.

GOP members and conservative outlets like Fox News have employed explicit lying to justify unethical policies, and illegal immigration is no different, especially since it became a hot button issue under the Trump Administration.

To be fair, there was a good deal of deportation taking place under the Obama Administration, as well. But the situation is significantly different due to Obama’s enactment of DACA. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was an Obama era policy that allowed undocumented immigrants that came to the country as minors to be given eligibility for a work permit and a renewable two-year delay on expulsion from the country (deferred action). The rule resulted in close to 700,000 individuals being protected from deportation.

Of course Trump, in an attempt to both appease his bigoted base and destroy Obama’s legacy, ended DACA in September 2017 under the apparent justification that congress needed to come up with an official law on it over the White House.

Though Democrats have attempted to fight back against this, their minority control of both Houses has prevented anything from being done. Two government shutdowns were initiated in the past, but with 2018 being a midterm year the party could not risk hurting their constituents by extending the shutdown and hampering the distribution of social security checks.

All of these reasons are why winning back Congress is imperative for the Democratic Party. The livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of individuals are at risk because of Trump, and he won’t stop so long as he has the power

Read more at: https://epeak.in/2018/03/14/done-telling-trumps-lies-ice-spokesman-slams-racist-propaganda-resigns/

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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