Archive | Science/Technology

AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, Pool

US, Russian Astronauts Safe After Emergency Landing

It was the latest in a recent series of failures for the troubled Russian space program, which is used by the U.S. to carry its astronauts to the station.

AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, Pool

 

It was the latest in a recent series of failures for the troubled Russian space program, which is used by the U.S. to carry its astronauts to the station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin were subjected to heavy gravitational forces as their capsule automatically jettisoned from the Soyuz booster rocket and fell back to Earth at a sharper-than-normal angle and landed about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

“Thank God the crew is alive,” said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, when it became clear that they had landed safely. He added that the president is receiving regular updates about the situation.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who watched the launch at Baikonur along with his Russian counterpart, tweeted that Hague and Ovchinin are in good condition. He added that a “thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted.”

Hague and Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 2:40 p.m. (0840 GMT; 4:40 a.m. EDT) Thursday from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The astronauts were to dock at the International Space Station six hours after the launch.

But the three-stage Soyuz booster suffered an unspecified failure of its second stage about two minutes after launching. Search and rescue teams were immediately scrambled to recover the crew and paratroopers were dropped from a plane to reach the site and help the rescue effort.

It was to be the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2013. Ovchinin spent six months on the orbiting outpost in 2016.

While the Russian space program has been dogged by a string of launch failures and other incidents in recent years, Thursday’s mishap marked the program’s first manned launch failure since September 1983, when a Soyuz exploded on the launch pad.

The astronauts were flown by helicopter to Dzhezkazgan and will later be taken to Baikonur and on to Star City, Russia’s space training center outside Moscow.

NASA posted pictures of Hague and Ovchinin undergoing a medical check-up at Dzhezkazgan’s airport. One of the pictures showed Hague smiling and another had him sitting next to Russia’s space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin.

Dzhezkazgan is about 450 kilometers (280 miles) northeast of Baikonur, and spacecraft returning from the ISS normally land in that region.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said all manned launches will be suspended pending an investigation into the cause of the failure. He added that Russia will fully share all relevant information with the U.S.

Earlier this week, Bridenstine emphasized that collaboration with Russia’s Roscosmos remains important.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote, but they have maintained cooperation in space research.

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is currently the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the International Space Station following the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet. Russia stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of SpaceX’s Dragon v2 and Boeing’s Starliner crew capsules.

The last time the Russian space program had a manned launch failure was in 1983. Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov jettisoned and landed safely near the launch pad after the Soyuz explosion.

Russia has continued to rely on Soviet-designed booster rockets for launching commercial satellites, as well as crews and cargo to the International Space Station.

While Russian rockets had earned a stellar reputation for their reliability in the past, a string of failed launches in recent years has called into doubt Russia’s ability to maintain the same high standards of manufacturing.

Glitches found in Russia’s Proton and Soyuz rockets in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws at the plant in Voronezh. Roscosmos sent more than 70 rocket engines back to production lines to replace faulty components, a move that resulted in a yearlong break in Proton launches and badly dented Russia’s niche in the global market for commercial satellite launches.

In August, the International Space Station crew spotted a hole in a Russian Soyuz capsule docked to the orbiting outpost that caused a brief loss of air pressure before being patched.

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has raised wide concern by saying that the leak was a drill hole that was made intentionally during manufacturing or in orbit. He didn’t say if he suspected any of the current crew — an American, a Russian and a German aboard the station. The current crew’s stint in orbit will likely be extended following Thursday’s aborted launch.

Vladimir Isachenkov and Jim Heintz contributed to this report from Moscow.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, International, Local, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

CNET

Facebook breach put data of 50 million users at risk

The vulnerability had to do with the social network’s “view as” feature.

by

Facebook on Friday said a breach affected 50 million people on the social network. 

The vulnerability stemmed from Facebook’s “view as” feature, which lets people see what their profiles look like to other people. Attackers exploited code associated with the feature that allowed them to steal “access tokens” that could be used to take over people’s accounts. 

While access tokens aren’t your password, they allow people to log in to accounts without needing it. Facebook also said later Friday that the breach also affected third-party apps that you have linked to your Facebook account, including Instagram. As a precautionary measure, Facebook logged about 90 million people out of their accounts, the company said.

The social network said it discovered the attack earlier this week. The company has informed the FBI and the Irish Data Protection Commission. Facebook said the investigation is in the early stages and it doesn’t yet know who was behind the attacks. 

“This is a really serious security issue,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call with reporters Friday. “This underscores there are just constant attacks from people who are trying to take over accounts and steal information from our community. This is going to be an ongoing effort.” 

The news comes as Facebook has been under intense scrutiny for its ability to keep the data of its more than 2 billion users safe. The company is still reeling from its Cambridge Analytica scandal in March, in which a UK-based digital consultancy harvested the personal information of 87 million Facebook users.

The vulnerability disclosed on Friday came from a change issued in July 2017, when Facebook pushed a feature that prompted people to upload “Happy Birthday” videos, Facebook vice president of product management said on the call. The company is still investigating the attack, and doesn’t know how much information was stolen or who is behind the hack. Because it was access tokens stolen and not passwords, Facebook said that affected users don’t need to change their security settings, including their passwords.

Access tokens are a set of code granted to a user after logging in for the first time. They’re often used across websites so that you don’t have to log back in every time you go to a page. Facebook uses them for logins, and allows for secure access without needing a password.

facebook-f8-mark-zuckerberg-2018-0263
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “This is a really serious security issue.”

James Martin

Attackers carried out their attack with a series of steps that let them hop, skip and jump their way into generating access tokens for millions of Facebook users. They started by viewing a Facebook profile they had access to as another user. The “view as” feature is meant to allow users to see how their profile looks to the public or specific friends based on their privacy settings. 

But when hackers viewed a Facebook profile as another user, sometimes the tool for posting a birthday video would appear. That shouldn’t have happened, but did at times because of a bug, according to Facebook. Then, because of yet another bug affecting the video tool, hackers were able to generate an access token for the targeted user, giving them access to the user’s account.

With the access token, hackers had control over the user’s account. They could then “pivot,” Rosen said, and view their victim’s account as yet another user. Then they would repeat the process and generate an access token for that user, too.

The hackers were able to dramatically scale up this multi-step attack, so much so that Facebook noticed an unusual spike in user activity in Septermber and began investigating, Rosen said.

Fatemeh Khatibloo, an analyst at Forrester who focuses on consumer privacy, said in an email it appeared Facebook contained the damage from the breach at an early stage. She added that users probably heard about it sooner than they would have since new privacy regulations came into effect in the European Union earlier this year. The General Data Protection Regulation requires companies to tell users about a data breach no more than 72 hours after learning of it themselves.

“GDPR has forced [Facebook]’s hand in reporting the breach much earlier than they perhaps would have liked, and before they understand the full scope,” Khatibloo said.

Debra Farber, senior director of privacy strategy at tech firm BigID, said the increased speed in reporting data breaches will have a positive long-term effect for the company. “It may not be today or tomorrow, but such actions are sure to engender significantly more trust,” she said. BigID helps companies comply with privacy regulations.

The breach has also led to more criticism from lawmakers, who have already discussed introducing regulation to rein in big tech companies.

“A full investigation should be swiftly conducted and made public so that we can understand more about what happened,” Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, said in a statement. “Today’s disclosure is a reminder about the dangers posed when a small number of companies like Facebook or the credit bureau Equifax are able to accumulate so much personal data about individual Americans without adequate security measures.”

As news spread of the data breach Friday, Facebook’s own platform blocked users from posting two articles about the hacking attack. One article was by the Guardian and the other was by the AP. Facebook confirmed that its system was blocking the articles, saying it was an error. “We fixed the issue as soon as we were made aware of it, and people should be able to share both articles,” the company said in a statement. “We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Facebook has been without a chief security officer since Alex Stamos Facebook security chief departing company for Stanford in August to teach and do research at Stanford University. His departure took place during a larger reorganization of the company’s security team that was ongoing when the cybersecurity attack began. 

The departmental shifts made the cybersecurity team stronger, Rosen said. “If anything, we think this means we were able to find and address this faster,” he said.

First published September 28, 9:52 a.m. PT.
Update, 2:52 p.m. PT: Adds information from a follow-up conference call with Facebook.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Entertainment, Featured, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology, Technology0 Comments

Caribbean countries sign historic Escazu Agreement

Caribbean countries sign historic Escazu Agreement

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 28, CMC – Caribbean leaders were joining their counterparts in Latin America in signing the Escazu Agreement that seeks to protect the rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.

The leaders of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Lucia were the latest to affix their signatures to the accord that the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said is poised to be the new environmental instrument synonymous with non-discrimination, transparency and greater democracy for all.

St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet singing the Escazú Agreement on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly

“This agreement will help fight crime, poverty, inequality and is crucial to the protection of the environment in general. The agreement is sometimes referred to as ‘environmental democracy,’ which is a new legal term that implies the participation of all in protecting the environment,” according to an Antigua and Barbuda government statement.

It quoted Prime Minister Gaston Browne as outlining the importance of Antigua and Barbuda taking the bold step in becoming signatory to the agreement.

“The island is regarded as one of the front runners within the region with a progressive climate agenda, with the hope of transforming Antigua and Barbuda into a climate smart country,” it said.

Or its part, St. Lucia said it has put itself safely at the vanguard of sustainable development with equality at its core, when it joined other countries in signing the agreement that will be open for signatures until September 26, 2020.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, joined his Antigua and Barbuda counterpart as well as the leaders of Guyana, Brazil, Costa Rica, Argentina, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay in signing the agreement.

The Escazú Agreement was adopted on 4 March 2018, in Escazú, Costa Rica and ECLAC said that it reflects regional ambitions, priorities and uniqueness, while addressing environmental protection and management in sustainable leveraging of natural resources, preserving biodiversity, combatting desertification and climate change, and building disaster resilience.

The Escazú Agreement is the only treaty to emerge from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Río+20). It is also the first regional environmental treaty of LAC countries, and the first with binding provisions on defenders of human rights in environmental matters.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Education, Environment, International, News, Opinions, Regional, Science/Technology, Technology, TOURISM0 Comments

eathquale Jamaica

Earthquake rocks Jamaica’sCorporate Area and neighbouring parish

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sep. 16, CMC –  Sections of the Corporate Area and the neighbouring parish of St. Catherine were rocked by an earthquake on Sunday afternoon.

According to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) , it had not received reports of damage.

“We are aware of the earthquake…however the ODPEM and the Earthquake Unit will continue to monitor the situation and provide on update once it becomes available,” the agency said in a post on its twitter page.

The Gleaner reported meanwhile, the tremor was felt mainly in Old Harbour, Portmore and Spanish Town in St Catherine, as well as Kingston and St Andrew, according to the Earthquake Unit.

However, callers to our newsroom from as far away as Clarendon and St Mary reported feeling the tremors.

The United States Geological Survey in its report said the earthquake with a magnitude of 3.3, had a  depth of 10 kilometres and was centered in Riversdale, St. Catherine.

Later reports from the Jamiaca Observer headlines the shake as a  Light 4.6 magnitude earthquake with a magnitude of 4.6, felt in the Corporate Area and St Catherine at 1:47 this afternoon.

The tremor had a focal depth of 23.1 kilometres, the unit reported.

Meanwhile, The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, says it has, so far, not received reports of damage.

Many social media users across the Corporate Area, St Catherine and Clarendon have confirmed feeling the tremor, while others as far away as Falmouth in Trelawny, and some in St Ann, have reported the earthquake.

Posted in Earthquake, Local, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Guyana and Austria sign MOU

Guyana and Austria sign MOU

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Sept 12, CMC – Guyana Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Austria for transport, innovation and technology to enhance the local healthcare facilities.

Health Minister Volda Lawrence said the MOU is the beginning of a process which will result in enhanced healthcare facilities for citizens and that “concrete” projects could begin next year.

Health Minister Volda Lawrence and Dr. Gernot Grimm signing the MoU

“We are looking at the GPHC (Guyana Public Health Corporation) since it is our tertiary institution. You will be aware that particularly our A and E (Accident and Emergency) department is really under the threshold, in terms of a standard operating procedure that should pertain in a critical care unit.

“So, the first two aspects we will be getting involved with is a trauma centre and a critical care centre which will be able to take off the deficiencies which we do have presently. This will ensure improved delivery of care for our patients and also upgraded equipment for the staff works,” Lawrence said at the signing ceremony.

Chief of staff at the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, Dr. Gernot Grimm said the signing of the MOU is in keeping with the good relations enjoyed by the two countries over a number of years.

He said the success of the MOU would be seen in the tangible achievements sooner rather than later.

“We have brought along a couple of technical experts from Austria to have this work done as soon as possible to our bilateral negotiations, so we really want to show and speed up the whole process to be in a position to start as soon as possible,” he said.

The signing of the MOU was witnessed by Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Karen Cummings along with GPHC chief executive officer, Patrick West.

Meanwhile, the Austrian-based AMED Engineering Company has pledged to support Guyana in its efforts to modernise the public health and other sectors.

The company is holding discussions with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Public Health in developing the “Lighthouse” project and Grimm said ‘the health sector is not the only technology we are ready to co-operate with you but it’s the first one.

“I call it the lighthouse project to show the public in Guyana and in Austria that a co-operation can exceed political excellent relations by far through well-functioning economic ties and relations.”

VAMED is recognised internationally as one of the leading companies in the healthcare sector. VAMED provides a complete package of services for every type of healthcare facility. The range of services provided covers the entire healthcare value chain, from project development, planning and construction to total operational, biomedical engineering and facility management.

Greenidge said Guyana has long benefitted from initiatives introduced by the Austrian government. He added however that the administration is prepared to take advantage of the advanced ideas and projects that VAMED has to offe

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Business/Economy/Banking, Health, International, Labour, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

ExxonMobil makes ninth discovery offshore Guyana

ExxonMobil makes ninth discovery offshore Guyana

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Aug. 30, CMC – The US based oil giant, ExxonMobil has announced the discovery of approximately 197 feet (60 metres) of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoir at the Hammerhead-1  – the ninth discovery of oil in the Stabroek Block  and the fifth within the last year.

President of ExxonMobil, Steve Greenlee says the Hammerhead-1 discovery reinforces the potential of the Guyana basin, where ExxonMobil is already maximizing value for all stakeholders through rapid phased developments and accelerated exploration plans.

“The Development options for Hammerhead will consider an ongoing evaluation of reservoir data, including a well test,” Greenlee said.

Discoveries of approximately four billion oil-equivalent barrels were made prior on the Stabroek Block at Liza, Liza Deep, Payara, Snoek, Turbot, Ranger, Pacora and Longtail with the potential for up to five floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels producing more than 750,000 barrels per day by 2025.

A second exploration vessel, the Noble Tom Madden, is due to arrive in Guyana in October to accelerate exploration of high potential opportunities and will commence drilling at the Pluma prospect, approximately 17 miles (27 kilometres) from Turbot.

The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres .

ExxonMobil affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited, is the operator and holds 45 percent interest in the Stabroek Block. Hess Guyana Exploration Limited holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 per cent interest.

First oil is expected to be produced in the first quarter of 2020.

Meanwhile, the government continues to put systems in place for the management of revenues from this new developing natural resource. Just recently, a green paper on the National Resource Fund (NRF) Guyana’s version of a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) was laid in the National Assembly.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Environment, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Dr Jules and Dir Henri Yacou shake hands at OECS HQts

OECS and CGSS of Guadeloupe Sign Cooperation Agreement on Healthcare

General Director of the CGSS, Mr. Henri Yacou, signs Protocole d’Accord (MOU) in General Director of the CGSS, Mr. Henri Yacou, signs Protocole d’Accord (MOU) in Guadeloupe. (OECS Photo)

The OECS Commission has in an OECS Media Statement informed the following:

On Thursday, August 23, 2018 — Efforts to facilitate the ease of access to medical care in the French Departments of the Eastern Caribbean for nationals of OECS Member States were reinforced by a recent cooperation agreement signed by the OECS Commission and the General Social Security Fund of Guadeloupe (Caisse Generale Sécurité Sociale – CGSS).

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS Commission and Mr. Henri Yacou, General Director of CGSS.

Inter alia, the Agreement seeks to:

  1. Address the administrative, logistical and financial barriers that OECS Member States face when accessing health services in the French Departments in the Eastern Caribbean; and
  2. Facilitate the exchange of information and capacity building in an effort to support the development of regional approaches to health services and the portability of health benefits backed by adequate health insurance.

The MOU follows a visit of the CGSS General Director, Mr. Henri Yacou, and his team to the OECS Commission’s offices in Saint Lucia in June, 2018.

Dr Jules and Dir Henri Yacou shake hands at OECS HQts

Dr. Didacus Jules said, “We are very aware of the exorbitant costs associated with extra-regional travel for medical care. The Commission has been actively seeking to create linkages with our French neighbours to expand access to specialised healthcare within the region and this agreement with the CGSS in Guadeloupe is a materialisation of these efforts. We look forward to deepening areas of cooperation in the years ahead.”

Mr. Henri Yacou informed, “It’s a real pleasure to have signed this agreement between CGSS and OECS.”

“I sincerely wish that this project will facilitate the free movement of citizens of the OECS to access health care in the best conditions possible.”

 

 

The CGSS team is presently working on a plan for:

  • A pilot project in the OECS with a French health insurance company;   
  • Unique identification numbers for citizens of Member States; and
  • A financially and legally secure partnership with hospital establishments of Guadeloupe, Martinique and St Martin.

 The Agreement came into effect in July 2018 and will last, in the first instance, for a period of three years.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Health, Local, News, OECS, Science/Technology0 Comments

Dominica calls for cheaper roaming rates within sub-region

Dominica calls for cheaper roaming rates within sub-region

ROSEAU, Dominica, Aug 21, CMC – Telecommunication ministers from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are likely to agree on a policy regarding roaming rates in the sub-region when they meet in October, Telecommunications Minister Kelver Darroux has said.

He said that a decision on roaming rates is long overdue.

“We have met as the Council of Ministers of ECTEL (Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority) on the matter. We have had consultations held with various stakeholders to get the views as to what’s the best approach.

“Like we have said the European Union has gone ahead and done it and I believe for a smaller jurisdiction like the OECS member states there’s no difficulty in us moving forward. I believe we still have to take a practical step towards achieving it,” he said.

Darroux said that the ministers of the OECS ministers have listen to the plight of the consumers of the region as (it) relates to the high rates of roaming”.

He insisted that it is a situation that has to be addressed “in a timely manner.

“There has been enough talk on the matter and it is time to take action. I think we have to put more pressure on the telecom service providers in the region,” he said, acknowledging that while they individually have made “significant investments, they have held their grounds now and I think we have to put more pressure on them.

“And I think with that pressure from the Council of Ministers of ECTEL we will implement it. The Council of Ministers meet again in October of this year and that will be one of the items on the agenda at this meeting to see where we are at, what progress we have made and I am hoping at that meeting we can come to a final decision as it relates to roaming rates in the Caribbean and the OECS in particular,” Darroux said.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

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.

 

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

Montserrat to host OECS Environment Council Meeting

Montserrat to host OECS Environment Council Meeting

Under caption “Montserrat: still here, still home, still nice”, on June 15, 2018 we published that the Organisation of East Caribbean States (OECS) revealed that this year, the much-anticipated OECS Council of Ministers of Environment Sustainability (COMES 5) will be held in this lovely island of Montserrat.

The 5th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Environmental Sustainability (COMES) of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will take place in Montserrat from Tuesday, July 10 to 11, under the theme “Building Resilience on the Frontlines of Climate Change”.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment (MATLHE) is preparing to welcome more than 40 delegates to the island, for the Meeting, which will be chaired by the Honourable Minister David Osborne who will address the opening ceremony, along with other speakers who will deliver remarks pertaining to environment and climate change issues on Montserrat and the region.

Minister Osborne noted that this year’s theme is important given the devastation experienced in the region last year. He said following last year’s catastrophic hurricane season, there is heightened awareness and drive in the region for all of us to become more resilient to these natural hazards which are influenced greatly by climate change.

The Minister further noted that this year’s theme “Accelerating Sustainable Development: Addressing Challenges and Creating Opportunities.” is important given the devastation experienced in the region last year. He said following last year’s catastrophic hurricane season, there is heightened awareness and drive in the region for all of us to become more resilient to these natural hazards which are influenced greatly by climate change. Minister Osborne further noted that the COMES5 Meeting provides an avenue for environment ministers in the region to take a unified position on matters affecting our environment.

The OECS in announcing the meeting in June said, “The COMES 5 comes at a critical juncture, given the severe economic and social impacts of the hurricanes of 2017 and  will provide the forum for ministers to engage with senior technocrats and development partners and to make decisions that will advance the climate and overall environmental resilience of the region.”

As part of the meeting, the delegates will deliberate on several matters to include strengthening disaster preparedness and response coordination; The Blue and Green Economies; and Energy resilience among others.

Delegates were to begin arriving on island over this weekend and will include OECS Environment Ministers, technical officers and regional partners. It is not certain how this will evolve as due to the threat of hurricane Beryl ferry operations and flights had been suspended but are expected to resume on Monday afternoon.

 

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Hurricane, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Newsletter

Archives