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IDB launches call for proposals from startups in the Caribbean

IDB launches call for proposals from startups in the Caribbean

 

WASHINGTON, Jun. 20,   CMC – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has launched a call for proposals that will reward the most disruptive ventures in Latin America and the Caribbean that are using innovation to improve lives.

The Washington-based financial institution said the selected startups will participate in Demand Solutions Chile, which will take place on November 21 in Santiago, Chile.

Demand Solutions is the IDB’s flagship innovation event that brings together “the world’s most forward-thinking minds to share creative solutions to the development challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the statement said.

In this edition, the IDB said startups can participate in two thematic areas.

In the first, they must provide solutions in four categories related to the cultural and creative industries: Design with social sense: sustainable fashion, smart fashion, urban art, wearable technology; and multimedia that improves lives: videogames, digital content, audiovisual content.

The other categories are: New technologies: 3D printing, blockchain, internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics; and export of services to global markets: production and commercialization of cultural content, export of goods and creative services.

The IDB said the 10 most innovative startups in the creative industries will be selected to participate in Demand Solutions Chile with all expenses paid for one representative per startup.

The first place will receive financial support to continue with its development, the IDB said.

Additionally, the IDB said this edition of Demand Solutions will also reward five startups that provide solutions to water and sanitation challenges in the region.

Since 2009, the IDB said along with Fundación FEMSA it was awarded the Water and Sanitation Prize for Latin America and the Caribbean “to recognize and stimulate the most innovative solutions in the water, sanitation and solid waste sectors.”

The startups interested in participating in Demand Solutions must present a solution proposal to a development challenge before July 15, the IDB said.

It said the representatives must be over 18 years old.

Winners will be notified by mail in early September 2018.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Climate/Weather, Energy, Entertainment, General, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Science/Technology, TOURISM0 Comments

structure - St. Lucia

Saint Lucia To Host Major Regional Building Standards Forum & Exhibition

OECS Media Release

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 — Caribbean countries are still recovering and rebuilding from the ravages of the 2017 hurricane season underscoring the urgent need for disaster resilience to be a top priority in the region. The building sector is of critical concern and this is being addressed in the upcoming Caribbean Building Standards Forum and Exhibition slated for June 13 to 15 at the Bay Gardens Hotel in Saint Lucia. Members of the public and journalists are invited to the event that will start at 8:30.

Hosted at the Bay Gardens Hotel, the activity is a collaboration between the OECS Commission and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) under the theme ‘(Re)building for a Resilient and Robust Response to Disasters’.

It will bring together local and regional stakeholders in the construction and finance industries as well as development partners. The exhibition component will feature building products, technologies and services that enhance disaster resilience and preparedness. This should be of particular interest to the general public as they prepare for this year’s hurricane season which starts officially this month. 

The aim of this regional building forum is two-fold. Firstly, the OECS Commission, under the EU-funded iLAND Resilience Project, is seeking to review and discuss the 2015/2016 OECS Building Code and Guidelines to update and improve their provisions and implementation. Secondly, the CDB is leading the effort to harmonize a regional approach to disaster resilience and regulation of the building sector.

The CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) is also a collaborating partner on this effort and will be participating in the forum. Member States of the OECS and the wider CARICOM region are expected to benefit from this joint appraisal and engagement of the construction sector in respect of resilience.

Presentations will be delivered by regional and international technical experts from various fields in the industry to be followed by working groups and closed sessions.

Members of the public are welcome to participate in the dialogue and the exhibition. 

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

Hakai magazine - 21317456_917456491739700_7023303973981631530_n

The Eastern Caribbean Is Swamped by a Surge of Seaweed

Massive rafts of floating sargassum are killing wildlife and preventing fishers from launching their boats.

by Ryan Schuessler

June 11, 2018

Barbados’s Long Beach, typically a picturesque vision of white sand and blue water, is buried beneath a vast expanse of thick, rotting seaweed. It’s a stinking nuisance that has turned deadly.

“We have found three dolphins dead,” says Carla Daniel, the director of public awareness and education with the Barbados Sea Turtle Project. Daniel and her colleagues believe the dolphins got caught on June 4 in sargassum seaweed that has been washing up on Barbados and across the eastern Caribbean in mounds up to two meters thick. A necropsy of one dolphin revealed it died of stress.

Seven endangered green sea turtles have also died so far. “For the majority of animals, the sargassum can be a problem because it traps them,” Daniel says.

Under normal conditions, floating sargassum is a thriving ecosystem. It provides a vital habitat and food source in the open ocean for fish, turtles, and crustaceans. There are even a handful of species found only in floating sargassum mats, including the aptly-named sargassum fish. But when it grows too thick, the seaweed clumps in dense, tangled mats so expansive and impenetrable that sea turtles and other surface-breathing animals can’t break through.

The current losses are reminiscent of 2015, when the worst sargassum influx to date killed more than 40 green and hawksbill sea turtles, their bodies found in the thick rafts of seaweed. “For an endangered species, that’s unacceptable,” says Hazel Oxenford, a biologist at the University of the West Indies in Barbados.

But the current surge of seaweed is expected to be much worse than the one in 2015. “You can see on the satellite that there’s a lot more coming,” says Iris Monnereau, who works with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Barbados. Satellite observations show hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of sargassum floating in the central Atlantic. The challenge is in predicting where it will go next and where it might reach land, a situation that causes a whole other set of challenges.

In Barbados, the dolphin death toll has already risen to at least six—and it is expected to keep rising. Photo by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project

In Barbados, the dolphin death toll has already risen to at least six—and it is expected to keep rising. Photo by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project

Thick mats of sargassum seaweed can prevent animals from reaching the surface to breathe. Photo by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project

Barbados, the easternmost nation in the Lesser Antilles, an island chain in the Caribbean Sea, was just one island in the region on which the seaweed made landfall. In Dominica, a sargassum mat came ashore in the town of Marigot a few days before Barbados was inundated.

“It’s the worst we’ve seen it. [The seaweed] took up the entire bay,” says Andrew Magloire, who has worked in Dominica’s fisheries sector for more than 20 years. “The fishermen could not go to sea for two or three days. They couldn’t get the boats out because it was so thick.”

Sea weed – invates Marguerita Bay, Montserrat

In Montserrat, conservationist Veta Wade says “huge walls of sargassum” have come ashore on the island’s eastern coast.

The seaweed’s arrival in Barbados started as a trickle around January, Monnereau says. But the amount arriving has ramped up dramatically since early June. “It’s really come back in full force,” Monnereau says. “It’s just been disastrous.”

Historically, small quantities of the floating macroalgae naturally drifted into the Caribbean from the Sargasso Sea to the north. Since at least 2011, however, sargassum from a new source—the north equatorial recirculation region (NERR)—has begun inundating the region with thick mats of seaweed.

The massive rafts of sargassum produced in the north equatorial recirculation region have been washing ashore in recent years not only in the Caribbean, but also in Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and West African nations including Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. Illustration by Mark Garrison

The massive rafts of sargassum produced in the north equatorial recirculation region have been washing ashore in recent years not only in the Caribbean, but also in Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and West African nations including Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. Illustration by Mark Garrison

Conditions in the NERR, an area near the equator where large currents circulate, sporadically spurs the growth of sargassum—although the exact trigger for the blooms remains unclear. Evidence points to some combination of excessive nutrients from agricultural fertilizers and pollution; increasing nutrient flows from the Congo and Amazon Rivers and in dust blown from the Sahara Desert; and increasing sea surface temperatures caused by climate change. Under normal climatic conditions, sargassum can double its mass in just 11 days, Oxenford says. A warmer sea will dramatically boost its growth potential, she says.

These mass accumulations of seaweed devastate marine and costal ecosystems: they prevent vital sunlight from reaching coral reefs and seagrass beds, and their decomposition saps the water of oxygen and releases toxic hydrogen sulfide. The result is a rapid degradation of seagrass beds, mangroves, coral reefs, and other shallow coastal ecosystems. A 2017 study showed how an influx of sargassum caused the mass die-off of seagrass beds in Mexico, causing damage that may take years or decades to repair.

The phenomenon’s impact on local fisheries is also becoming clear. And the news isn’t all negative.

“As bad as [sargassum] is, [it] has a lot of life in it,” says Barbadian fisherman Allan Bradshaw.

Since the sargassum rafts began appearing in the eastern Caribbean in 2011, fishers have been landing more mahi-mahi than ever before, Bradshaw says. Juvenile mahi-mahi congregate near sargassum rafts. “Never before would you have seen those in such vast quantities,” Bradshaw says.

But Barbados’s crucial flying fish fishery has taken a hit. While the mechanism remains unclear, the arrival of such massive amounts of sargassum have coincided with a dramatic decrease in flying fish landings. Compared to the first six months of 2014, when Barbadian fishers landed 981 tonnes of flying fish, the catch plummeted to just 278 tonnes a year later, during 2015’s major influx of seaweed—a 72 percent decrease in one of the island’s most important fisheries.

Although impacts of the sargassum influx on fisheries has been mixed, unprecedented challenges emerge when the massive rafts—fueled by increasing temperatures and nutrient loads—come near shore.

Carla Daniel, the director of public awareness and education with the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, has been working to find and rescue animals that have been washed ashore with the seaweed. Photo by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project

Carla Daniel, the director of public awareness and education with the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, has been working to find and rescue animals that have been washed ashore with the seaweed. Photo by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project

This includes risks to human health. While the hydrogen sulphide gas released when the seaweed decays occurs naturally in the human body, it is dangerous in large amounts, causing headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even asthma. It can also cause “rapid and extensive damage to concrete and metals,” writes the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The smell and blight also has the potential to damage the tourism industry, an economic pillar to Barbados and other islands in the region.

Back in Barbados, Daniel and her team are picking through the thick sargassum mats that cover the beach, looking for turtles and wildlife that can still be saved. Going live on the Barbados Sea Turtle Project’s Facebook page last Thursday, Daniel released a turtle named Olive that had survived being washed ashore. The turtle, which is missing three of its four flippers, was taken out to sea and returned to, of all places, a small patch of sargassum.

But it’s a carefully considered placement. The seaweed, says Daniel in the video, will give the turtle a source of food and a bit of shelter, as sargassum naturally does in the open ocean. As long as the sargassum doesn’t get too thick and the current steers clear of the shore, Olive should be okay.

Daniel believes the threat of vast sargassum mats killing wildlife and washing ashore is “going to be part of our new reality.” But her team, which relies on locals to report sightings of stranded wildlife like Olive, has seen a huge outpouring of support in recent days. “People are very, very willing to help.”

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Featured, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology, TOURISM0 Comments

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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Wendy C Grenade

University lecturer commends ruling of CCJ

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 21, CMC –A senior lecturer at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) has welcomed the ruling of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) regarding the registration of Commonwealth citizens to be included in the voters list ahead of the May 24 general election here.

Wendy C Grenade
Wendy C Grenade

St. Lucian academic, Professor Eddy Ventose had challenged the decision of the electoral authorities here to deny him the opportunity to be registered even though he has been resident in the country for several years. The matter was heard during an unprecedented sitting of the Court, two Sundays ago.

In its ruling, the CCJ, which is Barbados’s final court, said that the “long standing policy of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission in relation to Commonwealth citizens to register as electors … is unlawful and ultra vires.

“The Court is satisfied that on the basis of judicial finding pronounced in this matter, which has not been appealed, the applicant has satisfied the necessary legal and regulatory conditions for registration as an elector,” the CCJ ruled, threatening to jail the Chief Electoral Officer, Angela Taylor, if she failed to obey the ruling.

Dr. Wendy C Grenade, a senior lecturer in Political Science in the Department of Government, Sociology, Social Work and Psychology, said the “CCJ must be commended for acting with a sense of urgency in the Ventose case.

“Its responsiveness in dispensing justice to Professor Ventose and by extension to other Commonwealth Caribbean citizens in Barbados, must be applauded. The CCJ also promoted transparency in its deliberations by utilising technology to livestream the court session.

“This was a sophisticated act of techno-democracy, where the CCJ bridged the divide between itself and ordinary Caribbean people. The virtual court demystified lofty judicial proceedings. This was quite refreshing and reassuring, particularly for some who question the efficacy of the CCJ,” she said.

The lecturer said that the rule of law is a central pillar of any well-functioning democracy and that when state officials ignore or seek to frustrate rulings of the court, justice is denied and democratic norms are ruptured.

“The CCJ must be commended for demonstrating its judicial independence by protecting the rights of Commonwealth Caribbean citizens from the arbitrary exercise of power by a Caribbean state.

“The CCJ’s warning that Barbados’ Chief Electoral Officer will be imprisoned and/or fined if she does not comply with its ruling, sends a strong signal of its seriousness of purpose and its intention to apply the full extent of the law to ensure justice for Caribbean citizens. It also demonstrates that the state is not above the law and that state officials can be held accountable for their actions.”

She said that the Ventose case is also significant because it demonstrates the importance of judicial review as a critical means through which citizens can claim legal redress against laws or policies that infringe on their rights.

“Judicial review is a powerful weapon available to citizens in their battle for rights and justice. One can argue that, given the remoteness of the Privy Council and the relatively high costs associated with taking matters to the UK-based court, judicial review has not been a norm in the Caribbean’s legal praxis.

“However, the proximity of the CCJ to the Caribbean’s reality, provides impetus for increased citizen activism through judicial review. Professor Ventose must be complimented for channelling his legal skill to an activist cause,” she added.

The lecturer said that beyond the legal question, a major implication of the Ventose judgement is that Caribbean people who reside in other Caribbean territories must feel a sense of belonging to the Caribbean sister state where they live, work and pay taxes.

“The right to vote, as contentious as it may be, is one of the most cherished democratic rights, particularly for people whose history has been replete with oppression and denial of suffrage. The CCJ’s judgement in this case has affirmed the enfranchisement of the Caribbean “other”.

“Fifty odd years after independence, it is encouraging that an indigenous Caribbean Court can do so. This renews hope in the promise of regionalism.

“The ruling in this case is a victory not only for Commonwealth Caribbean citizens in Barbados but for Caribbean jurisprudence, Caribbean democracy and regional integration. It reinforces the urgency for other CARICOM countries to put systems in place to accede to the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction.’ To date, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have done so, although, except for the Bahamas, Haiti and Montserrat, all other CARICOM countries are members of the CCJ in its original jurisdiction.

The Grenada-born lecturer said that importantly, “this landmark judgement is most timely for Grenada as that country seeks to re-open the conversation on another referendum to facilitate Grenada’s accession to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ, replacing the UK-based Privy Council as Grenada’s highest Court of Appeal”.

She said the case “highlights several benefits of the CCJ, which should be the catalyst of a YES campaign going forward”.

http://cananewsonline.com/main/barbados-elections-university-lecturer-commends-ruling-of-ccj/?utm_campaign=twitter&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitter

Posted in Court, Elections, International, Legal, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Bulbs

CARICOM moving to phase out incandescent bulbs by September

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, May 9, CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are expected to complete the phase out of the use of incandescent bulbs by September this year, the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat announced Wednesday.

It said the regional countries are undertaking the project to become more energy efficient, on the basis of a mandate from the CARICOM Energy Ministers.

BulbsThe Secretariat said that the plans for the phase out programme are now being developed by the CARICOM Secretariat and the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).

The programme will include a roadmap to reduce the import and sale of incandescent light bulbs within the region, and will guide and support countries in the establishment of regulations and actions for the phasing out exercise.

“If all goes according to the plan, incandescent bulbs will gradually be phased-out as energy efficiency standards for lighting are phased-in. The phase-out schedule could begin as early as January 2019 with the 100 watt incandescent bulbs, with further restrictions on smaller lamp sizes entering into force in incremental stages over a number of years,” the Secretariat noted.

The decision to develop the phase-out programme was taken at the recently-concluded meeting of CARICOM Energy Ministers as part of the menu of quality measures that are being undertaken to steer the Community towards energy efficiency and sector regulation.

The incandescent light bulbs have existed for 130 years and are inefficient because they waste most of their energy. They are very cheap to manufacture and purchase, but only five per cent of the input power is converted into visible light, with the remainder converted into waste heat.

Hence, they are expensive to operate and lead to high electricity bills for households and businesses that use them. The natural successors to the incandescent bulb are compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). These use 60-90 per cent less energy than incandescent lighting and offer a much longer lifespan, the Secretariat noted.

It said that in 2015, the CARICOM Ministers had approved energy perform standards for CFLs and LEDs. These standards protect consumers from “underperforming products” while simultaneously protecting importers of highly efficient products from competitors saturating the market with “cheaper”, low performance products.

“Effort is being made for the standards for CFLs and LEDs to be adopted at national levels before year end as an assurance of quality in the efficient lighting alternatives. This is a precursor to the removal of inefficient incandescent bulbs from CARICOM markets.”

Cuba was the first country in the world to successfully complete the phase-out of incandescent bulbs. In 2007, the Caribbean country banned the import and sale of incandescent bulbs and implemented a programme for their direct substitution with CFLs in households.

According to reports, about 116 million incandescent bulbs were replaced by CFLs in every household in Cuba, resulting in peak demand savings of about 4,000 MW and eight million tons of carbon emissions.

Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code

Among the other steps that the region has taken on the road to energy efficiency is the development of an Energy Efficiency Code for buildings within the CARICOM.

The Energy ministers at their meeting here last month also approved the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code, with the accompanying Caribbean Application Document, as the Regional Energy Efficient Building Code (REEBC).

The establishment of the REEBC is a very important step in creating a clear and generally-accepted framework for maximising the efficiency of the “total” energy services in buildings.

“The approval paves the way for the systematic implementation of the principles and practices related to, among other things, energy efficient lamps and lighting. The phase out of incandescent bulbs is consistent with the requirements of the recently approved Energy Efficiency Code for CARICOM buildings,” the Secretariat added.

It said within CARICOM, successful implementation of the REEBC could eliminate 15,000 barrels of imported oil and save an estimated one million US dollars in foreign exchange every day.

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WhatsApp users should be careful when opening messages, after the discovery of a text bomb that can cause your handset to freeze. The glitch works by overloading systems with tens of thousands of hidden text characters, forcing affected users to reset their device

Warning over WhatsApp ‘text bomb’ that could crash your phone: Malicious message causes iPhone and Android handsets to freeze

Mail onLine

  • The glitch overloads smartphones with tens of thousands of hidden characters
  • This forces users who received the message to reset their iOS or Android device  
  • This come in two varieties, one featuring a black dot and a warning message
  • Another contains a crying while laughing emoji with instructions to ‘read more’
  • A full system reboot may be required if you are unlucky enough to activate it

WhatsApp users are being warned about a new ‘text bomb’ that can cause their iOS and Android handsets to freeze. 

It is being spread by messages sent via the popular app and comes in two varieties.  One reads: ‘This is very interesting’ with a crying while laughing emoji, followed by ‘Read more’. Tapping on ‘read more’ causes your handset to freeze. 

Another features a black dot and contains the words ‘if you touch the black point then your WhatsApp will hang’. Clicking on the black dot causes the crash to occur. 

The code powering the messages is being shared on Pastebin, meaning anyone can find it online, copy and paste it, then spread the text bomb via WhatsApp.

Its understood that the text message is being circulated by friends as a prank to their WhatsApp contacts, to deliberately crash their phones.

Anyone who is sent the text bomb is advised to delete the message in question. The safest way to do this is to delete the conversation thread it is part of, rather than clicking on the message itself.

Devices caught out by the bomb may need to be rebooted. To do this, hold down the power button on your handset until the restart option appears, or power down the device then power it back up if this option isn’t available.

WhatsApp has yet to issue a statement, but the Facebook-owned firm is likely to issue a software patch fixing the problem in the near future. 

Scroll down for video 

WhatsApp users should be careful when opening messages, after the discovery of a text bomb that can cause your handset to freeze. The glitch works by overloading systems with tens of thousands of hidden text characters, forcing affected users to reset their device

Another variant of the message is said to contain the words ‘if you touch the black point then your WhatsApp will hang’. Clicking on the black dot icon in the message causes the same issues to arise for Android users specifically
 

Another variant of the message is said to contain the words ‘if you touch the black point then your WhatsApp will hang’. Clicking on the black dot icon in the message causes the same issues to arise for Android users specifically

The bug has been hidden in the specially crafted messages according to Neowin, who first reported the text bomb after spotting claims made on Reddit.

In the first message, the code in question is hidden just after the emoji and clicking on ‘read more’ causes Whatsapp to expand this part of the message. In the second, the code is hidden after the dot icon.

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N. Korea, setting stage for talks, halts nuclear, ICBM tests

N. Korea, setting stage for talks, halts nuclear, ICBM tests

KIM TONG-HYUNG and ERIC TALMADGE

Associated Press
 
North Korea Suspends Nuclear, Long-Range Missile Tests, Will Close Testing Site

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea announced Saturday it will suspend nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches ahead of its summits with Seoul and Washington, but stopped well short of suggesting it has any intention of giving up its nuclear weapons or scale back its production of missiles and their related component parts.

The new policy, which sets the table for further negotiations when the summits begin, was announced by leader Kim Jong Un at a meeting of the North Korean ruling party’s Central Committee on Friday and reported by the North’s state-run media early Saturday.

Kim justified the suspension to his party by saying that the situation around North Korea has been rapidly changing “in favor of the Korean revolution” since he announced last year his country had completed its nuclear forces. He said North Korea has reached the level where it no longer needs to conduct underground testing or test-launching of ICBMs.

He added that the country would close its nuclear testing facility at Punggye-ri, though that site was already believed to have been rendered largely unusable due to tunnel collapses after the North’s test of what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb last year.

The announcement is seen as an opening gambit aimed at setting the tone for talks ahead of Kim’s summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in next Friday and U.S. President Donald Trump in late May or early June.

Trump almost immediately responded with a tweet saying, “This is very good news for North Korea and the World” and “big progress!” He added that he’s looking forward to his upcoming summit with Kim.

South Korea’s presidential office also welcomed North Korea’s announcement as “meaningful progress” toward the denuclearization of the peninsula. Presidential official Yoon Young-chan said in a statement that the North’s decision brightens the prospects for successful talks between Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed the announcement too but was a bit more guarded in his reaction.

“What is crucial here … is how this development is going to lead to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of nuclear arms, weapons of mass destruction and missiles,” he said. “And I will keep a close eye on that.”

Some analysts believe that rather than denuclearizing, Kim feels he is entering the negotiations from a position of strength and is hoping to achieve tacit recognition that his country is now a nuclear power. They believe he wants engage in talks and make some concessions around the edges that would convince Washington and other countries to ease sanctions on his struggling economy.

In his speech at the party meeting, Kim praised his nuclear policy as “a miraculous victory” achieved in just five years. A resolution passed after his speech also stressed that the country had successfully achieved its goals of obtaining a viable nuclear force and suggested it intends to keep that force — at least for the time being.

Using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, it said the North would “never use nuclear weapons nor transfer nuclear weapons or nuclear technology under any circumstances unless there are nuclear threat and nuclear provocation against the DPRK.”

“This was a smart move by Kim,” said Vipin Narang, an associate political science professor and nuclear proliferation expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Although it largely formalizes previous pledges on the moratoria from last November and March, it still leaves a lot of wiggle room for circumventing the pledges in the future, and nothing in there is irreversible. And nothing in there mentions denuclearization, of any variety.”

Narang noted that North Korea has already conducted as many nuclear tests as Pakistan and India, and may indeed not need to conduct any more underground testing.

“The aim of this, in my view, is to make it exceedingly difficult for Trump to say the North is uninterested in talks and walk away,” he said. “Kim is doing everything he can now — in a reversible way, mind you — to ensure the summit happens. Because that’s his ultimate victory.”

Tossing out another nugget that could be used at the summits, Kim stressed at the party meeting his desire to shift the national focus to improving the country’s economy, which has been hit hard by international sanctions and the “maximum pressure” strategy pushed by Trump.

 The announcement ends what had been an ominous silence from Pyongyang regarding the stunning diplomatic moves Kim has been making since the beginning of this year, including his first summit, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, last month.

It also gives the best idea yet of what Kim intends to bring with him in his summits with Moon and Trump.

Seoul says Kim has expressed genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons. But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of “denuclearization” that bears no resemblance to the American definition, vowing to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its troops from the peninsula.

Some important items were also left off the North’s resolution, suggesting either that the North isn’t willing to go that far or that it wants to wait and see how much it can gain by further concessions once actual talks begin.

It did not announce a moratorium on short- or mid-range missile launches or ground-based engine testing. It also did not suspend the production of more fissile material to build additional warheads, or the production of the longer-range missiles, which are Washington’s primary concern.

At the height of Pyongyang’s standoff with Washington and Seoul last year, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters the country could conduct an atmospheric hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean.

That kind of test would also not be included in the suspension.

___

Talmadge, the AP’s Pyongyang bureau chief, reported from Tokyo.

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Darcy Boyce

COTED meeting agrees on CCREE full operationalisation

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Apr 20, CMC – The Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Energy has ended here with an agreement that work has advanced towards the full operationalisation of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) by the middle of this year.

Minister of State in the Office of the Barbados Prime Minister, Darcy Boyce, who chaired the one-day meeting on Thursday, said “we can then move forward with appointment of the executive board and staffing of the Centre”.

Darcy Boyce
Darcy Boyce

Montserrat became the latest Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to have deposited its instruments of ratification of the agreement establishing the CCREEE.

Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica and Belize are the other CARICOM countries that have deposited their instruments of ratification.

The Centre is intended to function as the implementation hub for the CARICOM Energy Policy, as well as the Caribbean Sustainable Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS). I

n 2015, CARICOM leaders approved the establishment of the CCREEE and identified Barbados as the host country for its Secretariat. The COTED agreed to interim operations of the Centre in January, 2016 and on Thursday, the meeting agreed on decisions related to the transition from that interim stage to the first operational phase.

When fully operational, the Centre is expected to improve the quantity and quality of programmes and projects in sustainable energy within the region.

“We had a very useful meeting, and I expect that we would have put ourselves in a position to achieve a lot more in the energy sector, in renewable energy and energy efficiency over the next few years,’ Boyce said, adding that “good progress” had also been made on the matter of labelling of energy efficient equipment within the region.

He said this step would ensure that people knew “exactly what they were getting” when they bought equipment and sought to encourage them to acquire more efficient equipment and appliances for their properties.

The meeting also approved a pilot programme which will get underway shortly to promote energy efficiency in commercial and residential buildings. Substantial discussions were held on integrating climate resilience into the C-CERMS against the background of the region’s vulnerability to intense climate-related events.

The one-day meeting also discussed insurance and electricity disruption.

“We felt that we needed to discuss ways in which we could get the work done to guide us… to become more resistant to those situations, and to help us to recover faster” when there are natural disasters,” Boyce said.

He said the ministers also took stock of the availability of technical assistance under the CARIFORUM Regional Programme for Energy under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) to get the resources that were necessary for studies and to implement projects to grow the energy sector.

The ministers also had “robust” discussions on oil and gas in the Region. A working group is to be established to consider how there could be deeper cooperation and more advice available on the technical matters on that sector.

Boyce had at the start of the meeting made reference to the region’s oil and gas sector, and its potential to benefit the populace.

“While we are all determined to make sure that we benefit as best as we can from renewable energy and energy efficiency, we all also have to bear in mind that if we are the owners of resources, we ought not to let those resources stand there idly, but we should use them for the benefit of our countries and for the Region.

“So I am very glad that we are not shying away from the matter of oil and gas. It is a matter of balancing … oil and gas, with the natural resource of sunlight, and wind, and water. And this is what it is all about: optimising, getting the best mix of those resources to give our people and our economies what they need”, he said.

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