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Former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur passes away

Former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur passes away

Reprint – July 27, 2020

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur

(Barbados Today)

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has passed away at the age of 70,  a Government statement has confirmed.

Arthur, the island’s longest-serving Prime Minister, died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at 12:26 a.m. He was hospitalised last week with heart complications. The statement said that Minister of Labour and Social Relations and St Peter MP  Colin Jordan will be the coordinating minister for the funeral arrangements.

“The Government of Barbados extends sincerest condolences to his wife, Julie, his daughters, Leah and Sabrina and his extended family,” it added.

Posted in CARICOM, Featured, International, News, Obituaries, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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St. Vincent PM says recount votes in Guyana should be honoured

by staff writer

KINGSTOWN, ST. Vincent, Jun 11, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he remains satisfied that the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping “will not stand by idly and watch the recount which is properly done for the results to be set aside” in the disputed March 2 regional and general elections in Guyana.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is yet to announce officially the winner of the polls after the re-count exercise was concluded on Sunday in the presence of observers from CARICOM and other international organisations.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves appearing on radio programme (CMC Photo)

Both the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National unity (APNU) headed by President David Granger and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) headed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo have claimed victory.

The PPP/C said that the recount has shown that it won the election by more than 15,000 votes, while the APNU has claimed that a number of irregularities and anomalies took place during the voting exercise and has called on GECOM to make a statement on the matter.

Gonsalves, speaking on a programme on the state-owned NBC Radio St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said “we expect the CARICOM observer mission to deliver its report and we expect that what is the recount would be honoured and the Guyana Elections Commission would honour that recount and declare the winner in accordance with this recount”

He told radio listeners that “anybody who wants to challenge anything afterward can go to court but you have to declare the winner in accordance with the recount,” he added.

Gonsalves, who is expected to take over the chairmanship of CARICOM in July, said that there had been “no complaints” about the first two processes involved in the elections, namely “what happens before the election day, process of registration, putting the machinery in place for free and fair elections, secondly what happens on election day.

“: Nobody said it was a sham elections or irregularities were such that so as to undermine the efficacy of the poll. The third question which was outstanding is the counting of the votes.

“That’s why the first statement that (Prime Minister of Barbados) Mia Mottley made as chair of CARICOM…is that each vote must be counted, each vote has to be counted. Well, this is where you had the basis for the recount and the reason why it is an election and not a selection, you have to count the votes and you have to count them honestly”.

Gonsalves said that he is “satisfied that CARICOM will not stand by idly and watch the recount which is properly done for the results to be set aside

“St Vincent and the Grenadines stands firmly for democracy and reflecting the will of the people. That will tell you where we are. I don’t have to say anything straight and plain. CARICOM is not going to tolerate anybody stealing an election,” he said.

Gonsalves said he is aware of a number of opposition parties when they lose an election make a number of complaints.

“It is almost a boring repetition. We get the reports, follow the law and who win, win. When you take part in an election there is always a chance that you may lose and if you lose …you take your licks like a man,” Gonsalves said, telling listeners that he is a friend to both Granger and Jagdeo.

Coalition says a statement by incoming CARICOM Chair could undermine the legitimacy of the recount process

by STAFF WRITER

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jun 11, CMC –  The coalition –  A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC)  has expressed concern with statements made the incoming Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Dr. Ralph Gonsalves; describing it as a taking a “prejudicial” stance on Guyana’s elections.

The APNU+AFC via a press statement said they were “surprised” at  Gonsalves’s statement since the national recount process of votes cast in the March 2, General and Regional Elections, is still ongoing.

Gonsalves who is the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has urged the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to declare a winner of the elections based on the figures from the first phase of the recount.

The recount is comprised of four stages.

However, the APNU+AFC in its statement highlighted that they are “concerned as the incoming Chair of CARICOM, Dr. Gonsalves has chosen to pronounce on a process that is still ongoing, and proposes to a direct constitutional body in another CARICOM Member State in the execution of its duties.”

The coalition reminded that the four-stage process which is gazetted was agreed to by all political parties and CARICOM.

The first stage of tabulating the votes recently concluded and the second stage is now in progress. That is the compilation of a matrix of the tabulated results along with a summary of the observation reports, by the Chief Elections Officer.

According to the coalition, the reports will highlight the 7,929 instances of irregularities which directly affected the validity of 257,173 votes.

Additionally, it was also pointed out that the CARICOM scrutineering team has not yet submitted a report of its findings as mandated by the gazetted order. This will then be followed by a review of the reports by the Elections Commission and finally a declaration of the results by the Chairperson of GECOM after having studied the report.

With that, the coalition further reminded that “the ongoing process is significant and important not only for democracy in Guyana but the wider CARICOM.  It is expected that CARICOM leaders would refrain from any actions or utterances that could undermine the legitimacy of the process and its credible conclusion.”

Posted in CARICOM, Court, Elections, International, Legal, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

SKB-Flag

CARICOM mounts Election Observation Mission for St. Kitts and Nevis General Elections

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)

At the invitation of the Government of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has fielded a CARICOM Election Observation Mission to monitor the General Elections which will be held in that country on Friday, June 5, 2020.

The three-member Mission will be headed by Mr. Gasper Jean Baptiste, Chief Elections Officer of Saint Lucia, who has served as a member of CARICOM Election Observation Missions to some other CARICOM Member States.   The other members of the Mission are:

  •    H.E. Mr. Arley Gill (National of Grenada); and
  •    Mr. Chester Arlington Humphrey (National of Grenada).

The CARICOM Election Observation Mission proposes to meet with the electoral officials, leaders of political parties and other stakeholders of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, and will monitor the voting process including the opening of the poll, the casting of votes, the closing of the poll and the counting of the ballots.

The members of the Observation Mission arrived in St. Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, and will depart on Sunday, June 7, 2020.

The Election Observation Mission will issue a Preliminary Statement based on its observations and findings.  A Report on the General Elections will be subsequently prepared and submitted to the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community. For CARICOM, election observation serves as a platform to support existing democratic traditions within the Caribbean Community as part of its wider policy of supporting democracy and good governance. In this regard, at the request of the Government of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, the CARICOM Secretariat conducted virtual training in election observation for a group of local election observers.

Posted in CARICOM, Elections, International, Local, News, Politics0 Comments

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ZIZ St. Kitts Government Radio Station under fire from Opposition Political Party – Labour

With just over a week to go to general elections in St. Kitts, the St. Kitts-Nevis opposition Labour Party has sued the Government and the Radio Station, ZIZ.

Elections are due on June 5, 2020.

Posted in CARICOM, Elections, Featured, Labour, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Douglassss

The Rule of Law and The Creation of Wealth for the masses

Dr. Denzil Douglas shares two lofty ideals that his in-coming government stands for

Beresford Mack speaks with Dr. Denzil Douglas who prepares to take back the Government of St. Kitts-Nevis

Dr. Denzil Douglas

In the spirit of expanding partnership with those in the diaspora and sharing good governance responsibility, the Political Leader of the NextGen St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, Dr. Denzil Douglas outlined his leadership vision and governance strategy for the Federation.

Dr. Douglas sat down for an interview with award-winning freelance journalist Beresford Mack and gave these insights.

BM: Dr. Douglas, what are some of the things that you and your NextGen Labour team think are most important for an ordered society?

Dr. Douglas: My young and vibrant colleagues and I hold two goals and lofty ideas as sacred. First, the rule of law must be an essential ingredient in maintaining our democracy. When others have demonstrated a reckless disregard and disrespect for the dignity of the court, we respect the rule of law and the judiciary and take great pride in our long tradition of the fair administration of Justice.

Second, we believe that our in-coming government must create wealth through the enormous benefits we will be bringing to the good people of St. Kitts and Nevis on returning to government.

BM: What are some of the major projects that will create employment opportunities in construction and ignite sustained economic growth across all sectors of the economy starting in 2021?

Dr. Douglas: We are anxious to deliver a bridge between St. Kitts and Nevis, which will open big opportunities and create an economic zone at both ends. This project is designed to consolidate and expand our tourism industry especially with an emphasis in medical tourism.

We will also construct a highway from western Basseterre to the Whitegate Development area. This will bring us additional economic activity for the expansion of the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College campus in Nevis and the western campus in St. Kitts, thus offering our young people a first-class education foundation nearer to their homes.

To further improve our infrastructure, we will build a brand-new airport terminal with several jet bridges to increase the number of new airlines that we will woo to our lovely Federation.

BM: What is NextGen Labour’s vision for sports development?

Dr. Douglas: The Next Gen SKN incoming government is also anxious to begin the construction of a National Sports Academy, through which our young, highly talented and skillful men and women will be prepared to compete professionally in basketball, soccer, tennis, netball, golf, volleyball, swimming, track and field, and netball. They will also be prepared with the social graces, leadership skills, commitment to excellence and resilience, all-important skills and attributes that they will need as productive citizens in their adult lives.

BM: How will local stakeholders benefit from this new economic development vision?

Dr. Douglas: Our building and construction policy is geared towards cooperation with local businesses and international investors so that we provide a fair and transparent framework of conditions that bring solid but sustainable benefits to everyone. Therefore, we envision resuscitating the La Vallee Development Project while at the same time complete the construction of three boutique hotels at Kittitian Hill and building a state of the art Technical Training Institute. I want our people to keep abreast of the latest knowledge and techniques in their fields to perform beyond expectations.

BM: What about healthcare?

Dr. Douglas: The Next Gen SKN incoming government is already engaged in dialogue with several players in the global healthcare industry to build a state of the art hospital, a medical complex, upgrade community clinics and integrate various medical and nursing programs to the deliver the best education and cutting edge health care services to our people. We must be better able to cope with and minimize the impact of global outbreaks on our citizens.

BM: I know that you are a staunch integrationist. What role do you see for St. Kitts and Nevis as a regional player?

Dr. Douglas: I want St. Kitts and Nevis to play a vital role in shaping regional politics and economics. I will promote the formation of a CAPITAL MARKET as an important instrument to raise the finances to fund several of these major projects. My young, innovative and energetic team and I, envision our Federation working together with CARICOM and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to confront global challenges and share equal responsibility for adapting to new priorities and challenges as they arise.

Beresford Mack is a strategic communications consultant, award-winning freelance journalist and social media marketing specialist. He has worked in the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and the USA. He has won a Sony Radio award (which is described as the UK Radio Oscars) and a whilst working at London’s biggest Urban Radio Station Choice FM which has now been rebranded as Capital Xtra.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Culture, Elections, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional, Sports0 Comments

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St. Patrick’s Day Lecture feature – Praedial Larceny

Contributed by Cleo Cassell

Grace Cassell, delivering the lecture

I would like to make a confession before I continue. I confess, not to committing praedial larceny, but to never attending any of the St. Patrick’s Day lectures before March 10, 2020. I believed that by fate I should go this year because every time I turned the radio on the advertisement seemed to beckon me through the speakers. The topic also appealed to my creative mind. Praedial Larceny: A Scourge on Agricultural Production and Food Security, and in my mind, I personified Praedial Larceny and imagined this character whipping agriculture and food security.

        In contrast, the setting of the conference room at the Cultural Centre was intimate and calming. The lofty windows had been dressed with draped fabric of our green, orange and white madras, while our sturdy national flower, the Heliconia, muted the stark white walls. Even more pleasing to see were the green chairs that were almost filled to capacity.

The St. Patrick’s Day lecture truly added a sophisticated element to the debauchery that the day was becoming. It was an unmistakable reminder that the St. Patrick’s celebration was much more: it was a celebration of our ancestors who fought for our freedom. Later on, it became apparent that the lecture was also important because it was a way to safeguard Montserrat’s undocumented history in this new emerging Montserrat where so many memories of the pre-volcanic times had been buried and displaced.

The lecture was amply chaired by Mr. Claude Brown the infamous host of Farmers’ Corner, President of the Farmer’s Association and Former Agriculture Development Officer. Besides his credentials, Brown’s soothing voice, pleasant way of lightening the seriousness of the mood with a joke or two and seamless way of segueing into the next segment seemed to keep the audiences’ attention.

Claude Browne

However, Brown was not the only trick up the sleeve, there was entertainment. First came Lord Meade’s calypso, which passionately told the story of a farmer who was frustrated by his neighbours’ “damn” livestock that were harvesting his produce before he had a chance to. Our very own historian and poet, Professor Sir Howard Fergus followed with two recent poems and an old one about praedial larceny.  I do not know about the audience, but I thoroughly enjoyed his readings. It reminded me of sitting in tutorials listening to the man who made me fall in love with poetry, Professor Mervin Morris.

Sir Professor Howard Fergus

The main feature did not disappoint either. Miss Gracelyn Cassell began the lecture with anecdotes. She told the story of entitled workmen who openly stole coconuts from the Open Campus to the heart-wrenching story of her uncle, Cephas Cassel who died by the scourge of praedial larceny. The saga of Cephas’ was an allusion to the Cain and Abel story told in Genesis. Cain was a farmer and Abel a shepherd; however, it was Cain’s jealousy that led his naive brother to his death just as the murderer had done to the innocent Cephas.

My mind was completely engaged by then and kept ticking as Cassell transitioned into the historical perspectives of praedial larceny. It was once accepted as a means to an end for the emancipated slave, but was also negatively described by Bryan as a ‘typical black perversion’. Bryan’s notion appeared to be a paradox as Cassell continued by illustrating contemporary experiences, praedial larceny’s impact on food security, the approaches and measures taken to solve this problem. Although not mentioned, I shuddered as I was able to make the connection with the disturbing piracy that regularly occurred off the coast of Africa. Praedial larceny was once petty theft and was tolerated as a means of subsistence, but it had morphed into the pure evil of Cain. It was the business of highly organized theft.

Praedial larceny was much more than just stealing it was a scourge on people’s psyche. At the end of the lecture, the audience was encouraged to share a memory or experience about praedial larceny. Some of the accounts had been hoarded for over 40 years and involved even huge cows disappearing into thin air. The account that really pricked me the most was hearing about a grandmother who put pins into her provisions not to harm buyers, but to discourage people from purchasing from the thieving seller. This story reminded the audience that praedial larceny was also a public health and safety issue.

I left the lecture with a lot to think about, but not ill-equipped. Although I did not have a definite remedy for the problem, I could do my part to help put an end to praedial larceny. I would make sure I bought from reputable farmers.

Posted in COVID-19, Education, Fashion, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Opinions, Poems, Security0 Comments

Be bold on time, not without understanding and compassion

Be bold on time, not without understanding and compassion

April 3, 2020

It was disappointing to learn after the Government (GoM) had announced that they had put in place means of checking that passengers would under some kind of screening that there was no real method in place for so doing, and this not taking place at John Osborne Airport for persons arriving there.

What is still not clear or known as no one is answering questions thereabout, how the manner of tracing which is what they are to help trace or prevent the potential transmission of the virus is being conducted.

Of course, there is no way to know, had that been done properly, someone, anyone could still have arrived in Montserrat with the COVID-19 infection. But GoM must have it on their conscience; except there are persons who believe from up close and some actions, and reactions there is much insensitivity among them.

One cannot be too careful making observations, suggestions, express an opinion and some do not get offended. That is a recipe for mismanagement and abuse of one kind or another.

This pandemic which is unlike any developed from volcanic hazards, hurricane and earthquake disasters and related certainly like in those instances, requires a national response. It is therefore discouraging to learn as well as it instructs, that the government is not like it is referred to being the nine elected members, and two ex officio members who must either abstain or vote with the ‘executive’.

These thoughts let’s end by recalling a concurring statement made by His Excellency Governor Pearce at a press conference that there are (often) brighter people outside of the public service, who are all that make up the various committees dealing with this situation. Nothing questionable about that which goes for experts too. The question is not so sensitive. Why not widen the grouping dropping out some who are only there because they are a senior officer or even a department head whose expertise have nothing to do with the matter at hand.

Anyone familiar with the letter (as there has been several) from Attorney Jean Kelsick as far back as January with suggestions in particular regarding the St. Patrick’s Festival regarding its postponement or cancellation, cannot go away without feeling empathy for the thousands who reportedly increased the population by 50% not participating in the highlights (which were canceled of course) and being told, go back home right away from the March 14. They too should be refunded some of their passage monies.

The Premier in one of his statements did use the word ‘bold’ about the restrictions they have instigated. It was later used when the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Dr. Carissa Etienne, urges Caribbean leaders to “be bold and compassionate”. Why is it, no one can give their understanding of the phrase?

Why allow former Premier Romeo to accuse, government to include the Governor, for hesitating instead of taking the radical action required to slow contagion? To provide adequate emergency health care, as well as measures for mitigating the inevitable social and economic impact of this new threat? And to call on them to act swiftly to save lives and “to minimize economic fallout from COVID-19 containment supported by personal responsibility combined with proactive, and where needed, aggressive public policy”?

The Governor may have been very influenced by extraneous matters though serious and important to completely not understand that money is very essential to maximising health care and saving lives.

Those out here, as from being on the inside, do their part when they urge pleasingly or unpleasingly, begging or demanding that every effort is made to source and obtain the funds and things necessary, timely and well in advance as necessary. Proactivity is essential and that has a lot to do with educating the people who may not be well endowed to understand actions that are ‘bold, and without compassion.

Posted in CARICOM, Editorial, Health, International, Local, Opinions, Regional0 Comments

Cross-section-of-a-Corona-virus

The Corona Virus pandemic reaches the Caribbean

After BA Flight 2157 on Tuesday, March 10, could it be here in Montserrat? (What should we do?

BRADES, Montserrat, March 14, 2020 –  Over the past several days, first we learned that the Corona Virus had been confirmed in several regional territories. Then we learned how the UN Agency, the World Health Organisation, declared a pandemic – a globe-spanning epidemic.  Along the way, we heard of a Jamaican woman who flew home from the UK on March 4th to attend a funeral, and how authorities were taking steps to contain a possible outbreak. Since then schools have been closed as a second case then six more cases were diagnosed, totaling eight. Then,  it was confirmed that someone flying into Antigua from the UK on March 10 (on British Airways 2157), has been diagnosed with the virus.  Over eighty [80] passengers on that same aircraft came on their way to Montserrat, for the St Patrick’s Festival. (UPDATE: There is also a suspected case here, reported on ZJB.)

The Covid-19 virus attacks a cell,in an “isolate” from a patient(Cr: Australian Pharmacist & US CDC)

Suddenly, the Covid-19 Pandemic – global epidemic – is at our doorstep.

As a result:

After this news hit our airwaves on Friday, March 13th, a call went out for these passengers to contact health authorities.

On Saturday the 14th the recently elected Premier Easton Taylor-Farrell summarised this development, stated that the passengers were traced, contacted and told to self-isolate, adding that events with more than fifty people were restricted.

Many churches announced that worship services are suspended.

Schools (which often serve as places where viral infections spread rapidly) are closed until Friday, April 3.

Such measures are to be extended if necessary.

In effect, the 2020 St Patrick’s Festival has been shut down. That’s why promoters for some events then went on radio to announce the cancelation.

Covid 19 is indeed at our doorstep.

Cross-Section of a Corona Virus. In an infection, the S-protein spikes bind to cell surfaces, allowing penetration. The cell is then hijacked to replicate and distribute further copies of the virus using the RNA in the virus (Cr: Wiki & Scientific Illustrations)

What will we do?

Why did it take a case of possible transmission on an eight-hour transatlantic flight to trigger such measures?

(On the worst-case – let us hope, such will not be actual! – that could be shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted.)

Especially as, before the event, prominent local Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Jean Kelsick publicly advised us all on February 28:

he virus has surfaced, is spreading and has already killed people . . . . Should our visitors introduce the virus to Montserrat

will have to face some very hard questions over any deaths that may ensue . . . .  the financial cost and disappointment to the island and visitors [if the Festival were to be canceled] would be very unfortunate but a price cannot be put on lives.”

We are now in danger of both possibilities, the worst of both worlds. For, on the facts admitted by Premier Taylor-Farrell, [a] visitors have come who may be exposed AND [b] we are forced to restrict gatherings of more than fifty people. That suggests, that we did not act with sufficient prudence in good time.

Now, given the Covid-19 incubation period of up to two weeks (or possibly more in some cases) we will have to wait to see if the epidemic is here already where this virus can be spread by people before they have obvious symptoms. Also, many mild cases may be confused with an ordinary cold or could even go unnoticed.

In a further complication, there seem to be two strains, L and S. As ABC reports[1]:

“Scientists from China said they’ve identified two strains of COVID-19 linked to the recent outbreak.  Coronaviruses are a large family of RNA viruses, and when RNA viruses replicate quickly, they often mutate. Researchers analyzed 103 sequenced genomes using strains from China, and found that 70% of strains were one type, which they called ‘L.’ The ‘L’ strain was more aggressive than the remaining 30% of strains, which were dubbed ‘S.’”

There is some suggestion that it is possible to catch one strain then the other, in addition to the familiar problem of relapsing if one has not fully recovered from an infection. NewScientist gives background[2]:

Viruses are always mutating . . . When a person is infected with the coronavirus, it replicates in their respiratory tract. Every time it does, around half a dozen genetic mutations occur, says Ian Jones at the University of Reading, UK. When Xiaolu Tang at Peking University in Beijing and colleagues studied the viral genome taken from 103 cases, they . . . identified two types of the virus based on differences in the genome at these two regions: 72 were considered to be the “L-type” and 29 were classed “S-type” . . . . The first strain is likely to have emerged around the time the virus jumped from animals to humans. The second emerged soon after that, says the team. Both are involved in the current global outbreak. The fact that the L-type is more prevalent suggests that it is “more aggressive” than the S-type.”

Further, in a preprint article for the New England Journal of Medicine,[3] researchers have confirmed that “viable virus could be detected in aerosols up to 3 hours post aerosolization, up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel . . .   Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of HCoV-19 is plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for  multiple hours and on surfaces up to days.”

These specific experimental results are generally consistent with earlier reports that the virus can survive in the air for hours and on surfaces for up to a week or more. That immediately means that we have to be particularly vigilant to protect ourselves. Pix 11 of New York summarises some typical advice[4]:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

A distance of 6 feet can protect you from droplet transmission via coughs and sneezes.

Stay home if you feel you are sick.

Cough and sneeze into your elbow, or cover [your mouth and nose] with a tissue and immediately wash or sanitize your hands.

They add the US CDC instructions on proper handwashing:

Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

We can also note that for typical disinfectants, a “dwell time” of three to five minutes is advisable, to ensure maximum effect.

Of course, by definition a disinfectant can be hazardous, so we should follow instructions. Chlorine Bleach and Ammonia are particularly so, and must not be mixed. Mixing Bleach and detergents is also not advisable as chemical reactions that give off toxic gases are possible.

Alcohols are also toxic – yes, ethanol too . . . drunkenness is actually a first stage toxic reaction. Isopropyl (Rubbing) Alcohol and Methanol (wood alcohol) should not be consumed; even though they look, taste and smell almost like White Rum. Again, follow instructions on the label.

Of course, a good newspaper is the people’s college, so we need to step back up to the policy level. Fair comment: twenty-five years ago, we were imprudent in managing the volcano crisis, often dismissing warnings as likely to cause a panic. Sometimes, we thought or even said that we needed to exercise faith that nothing bad would happen, trotting out scriptures on faith. On June 25, 1997, nineteen people died needlessly. Videos taken a few days before the fatal ash flows show people harvesting ground provisions in a field while hot ash ran down the ghaut next to them. Some of those people died in fatal flows.

We need a sounder approach: yes, we are to have faith and confidence and we must always pray, but we must also be well-informed, prudent and act in good time.


[1]           See ABC https://abcnews.go.com/Health/scientists-identified-strains-covid-19/story?id=69391954

[2]           See NewScientist https://www.newscientist.com/article/2236544-coronavirus-are-there-two-strains-and-is-one-more-deadly/

[3]           See van Doremalen of US NIH et al https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.09.20033217v1.full.pdf

[4]           See PIX11: https://www.pix11.com/news/national-news/coronavirus-how-to-protect-yourself-amid-covid-19-concerns

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Columns, COVID-19, De Ole Dawg, Education, International, Local, Opinions, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Grand Central Terminal had fewer commuters than usual on a Monday morning after a state of emergency was declared amid confirmed coronavirus cases in New York.

Social Distancing May Be Our Best Weapon to Fight the Coronavirus

Reprint

In pandemics, as in war, we all need to do our part.

By Max Brooks

Mr. Brooks is the author of “World War Z.”

March 11, 2020

Grand Central Terminal had fewer commuters than usual on a Monday morning after a state of emergency was declared amid confirmed coronavirus cases in New York.
Grand Central Terminal had fewer commuters than usual on a Monday morning after a state of emergency was declared amid confirmed coronavirus cases in New York.
Credit…Brian Moss/Reuters

“Social distancing” might sound like an emotional phase in early adolescence (it certainly was for me) but in reality, it’s a public health term describing our best defense against the coronavirus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this pathogen can spread “between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet).” That close contact has carried the virus across the planet, killing at least 4,000 people and infecting over 110,000 (that we know of). Until a vaccine — or even an effective treatment — can be developed, the best hope for protecting ourselves is slowing the spread of the disease. But how do we do that?

Travel bans are proving to be too little too late. It’s too easy to mistake the symptoms of coronavirus for a simple cold or flu. Even worse, since the virus can incubate for 14 days, carriers can spread it before they even know they’re sick.

We’ve already seen that happen in Washington State, where health officials believe some people were passing on their infections for up to six weeks. This long asymptomatic incubation period also renders airport screening ineffective. What’s the use of taking a passenger’s temperature if it’s going to be 98.6 degrees even when he or she is carrying the virus?

Likewise, protective gear such as masks and gloves works only if used correctly. Masks are supposed to be worn by sick people, or those caring directly for them. But when uninfected people wear hot, sweaty masks out in public, they will be more prone to touching their faces, which is also the Achilles’ heel of rubber gloves.

It doesn’t do any good to cover our hands if those hands are still touching infected surfaces before touching our eyes, nose or mouth. Those hands, gloved or ungloved, have to be sterilized in order to prevent transmission. Which is why washing hands is an important defense but by no means the only one.

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The best way to prevent “community spread” is to spread out the community. That means keeping people apart. No more handshakes, group photos and “free hugs” from those cosplayers at Comic-Con. In fact, it might mean no more Comic-Con for a little while, as well as no trade shows, concerts or any other events that draw a large crowd. This “disruption to everyday life” carries a huge financial risk — a risk of which I’m painfully aware.

I’ve built my career on the road, assembling a readership one handshake, hug and group photo at a time. I have a novel coming out this spring, and a speaking tour is vital to its success, as it has been for all my books. Now that tour might be canceled, and I’ve already had to pull out of two events. My book “Devolution” is about Bigfoot, and now I can’t even promote it in the Pacific Northwest.

But what is the alternative? Bring an infection home to my 93-year-old dad? Gather a large crowd in a room where they can all infect one another? As a writer who lives one book at a time, I’m the last person who should be practicing social distancing. But as a writer who roots my books in factual research, I know what history can teach us about community spread.

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In 1918, in Philadelphia, health officials ignored calls for social distancing and allowed a World War I victory parade to proceed. Within three days, all the hospital beds in the city were filled. Within a week, roughly 45,000 people were infected. Within six weeks, 12,000 were dead. The prospect of a repeat of that kind of mass manslaughter is frightening — especially when you consider that the 1918 influenza had a fatality rate of about 2.5 percent, compared to the 3.4 percent fatality rate for the coronavirus estimated by the World Health Organization.

We can learn a lot from history’s tragedies, but also from its triumphs. The plague that terrorized my generation, AIDS, was subdued by the same kind of public education, cultural flexibility and medical advances we need today. Back in the 1980s, when AIDS awareness tipped from denial to panic, our salvation didn’t come from a lab, but from a pamphlet. That piece of paper, “Understanding AIDS,” was mailed to almost every American home in 1988. Thanks to the pamphlet, along with a nationwide education offensive on safe sex, my generation learned that nothing, including love, was free.

RelatedOpinion | David Leonhardt: 7 Steps to Take Against the CoronavirusMarch 10, 2020Opinion | The Editorial Board: We Are Ignoring One Obvious Way to Fight the CoronavirusMarch 3, 2020N.Y. Creates ‘Containment Zone’ Limiting Large Gatherings in New RochelleMarch 10, 2020

We adapted then. We can adapt now. And we must. Just as in war, everyone has a role to play. If we all contribute to reducing community spread, we can buy enough time for science and industry to come up with a vaccine.

Does that mean hiding in a bunker with beans, bandages, and bullets? No, of course not. Panic is not preparation. Our plans should be guided by qualified experts like the C.D.C. We also have to keep a sharp eye out for the kind of stigmatization that harks back to the early days of AIDS.

Even before the virus started showing up throughout the United States, we’ve seen disgusting examples of what fear can do to the human spirit. In Southern California, a petition called for the closing of a largely Asian-American school district even though there was no evidence of any child being infected. In New York, an Asian woman wearing a face mask was assaulted by a man who called her “diseased.” Such panic-driven prejudice has no place in our war with the coronavirus.

Hopefully, if we all do our part now, we’ll soon be able to resume our lives, and go to such fun events as book signings, where I’ll be waving at you from seven feet away.

Max Brooks (@maxbrooksauthor), the author of “World War Z” and the forthcoming “Devolution,” is a senior nonresident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point.

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Posted in Culture, Environment, Health, International, Local, News, Opinions, Regional0 Comments

Gracelyn-Cassell-DM-87969828_2029940213816456_6300135063753326592_o

The 2020 St. Patrick’s Lecture

Gracelyn Cassell

One of the quieter events of the St. Patrick’s Festival is the St. Patrick’s Lecture’ which usually takes place near the beginning of the festival activities. It takes place this year on Tuesday evening, March 10 beginning at 6.00 p.m.

Often, the event which allows for discussion after the presentation, is lively with interest. This year it takes place as usual at the Cultural Centre on a somewhat unusual topic: Praedial Larceny: A Scourge on Agricultural Production and Food Security.

The presenter to be Miss Gracelyn Cassell who is currently the Resident Tutor and Head of the UWI School of Continuing Studies, now called The UWI Open Campus Site Montserrat.

The 2020 Lecture will explore the history of a problem that affected our enslaved ancestors in Montserrat and in the wider Caribbean and continues to affect us today.  In many jurisdictions, praedial larceny is reported as being on the increase, resulting in huge losses for farmers, fishers, and families.  The search for deterrents and workable solutions, including the use of technology, has intensified.

The presentation will take the form of an interactive discussion intended to capture the experiences of victims as well as perpetrators of a crime that was once punishable by flogging. 

It is anticipated that realistic solutions will emerge from the discourse and can be presented for consideration by Government officials and policymakers. 

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Culture, Education, International, Local, News, Opinions, Regional0 Comments

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