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Pandemic schooling at home is not homeschooling – this is why lesson failures are OK

Trying to force parents, children, and teachers to replicate traditional education online in the home is both punishing and pointless

TMR: Right from the beginning, we ask how does this might apply to Montserrat? How is the consultation, or the discussion or the action, not getting it right! How many of our parents and children in little Montserrat are facing this situation. Who thinks about it? What was done when it was discovered that not all had computers at home? What does that say when instead of engaging the media appropriately, with a complete lack of understanding of the important role of proper and beneficial ‘communication’?

by Victoria Bennett – The Independent – 03 February 2021

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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

When the schools closed in 2020, friends said to me, “You’re ok, it’s normal for you”. To some extent this was true. My husband and I work online from home and our 13-year-old son has always been home-educated. What we were experiencing though was not normal, particularly as our child is medically vulnerable.

Our normal home-learning includes trips to museums, meet-ups with friends, swimming, cinema outings, family travel, and more. It’s enriching for all of us. Now, we keep hearing about the “lost generation” and “long-term damage” of being out of school. My son feels angry. He wants to know if that’s how the world sees him, as a home-educated child? He’s furious at having his future written off so casually. Learning at home does not mean your life is ruined and this language reveals a lot about how homeschooling is perceived.

I’ve grown used to children assuming my son can’t read or write because he doesn’t go to school. They’re often surprised to hear that whilst education is compulsory, school is not. I’ve learned to accept the inevitable “What about socialisation? What about GCSEs?” questions. It seems the general perception of regular homeschooling children is that they spend their days locked away, destined for a life of illiterate delinquency. The reality, of course, is far from this. My son is a voracious reader, is interested in subjects from chemistry to engineering to art, plays piano and guitar, and is confident in social situations. As to whether he will do GCSEs? He might choose to, or he might make different choices. His route is not fixed.

Mother working from home with a kid: Quarantine mode

But these are not normal times for any of us and pandemic schooling at home is not the same as homeschooling. Trying to force parents, children, and teachers to replicate traditional education online in the home is both punishing and pointless. Author and educator John Holt said: “What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn’t a school at all.”

These are, as we frequently hear, unprecedented times. Why then, is the Department for Education insisting teachers, students, and parents try to replicate school at home? Holt pioneered the term “radical unschooling”, which assumes that all children are curious learners and every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. This can be challenging to trust but maybe it’s what we need right now?

When my son was seven, we spent a year caring for my mother. It was exhausting and traumatic yet, when nurses asked my son what he was learning, I felt guilty. I wasn’t managing formal lessons. I was a bad mother. The guiltier I felt, the harder I tried. One day, after yet another failed maths lesson (it isn’t my strongest subject) my son and I, sat crying on the floor. This way wasn’t going to work, for either of us. I put away the maths books, got out the paints, and, for the next three hours, we painted the garden shed, path, and ourselves until everything was a mess of colour. We ended the day laughing and the shed, though worn now, still makes people smile.

At the end of that year, my son’s life was not ruined. What did he learn? Playing Minecraft online gave him excellent keyboard skills and a strong sense of digital citizenship. Witnessing end-of-life care gave him the opportunity to learn about resilience and compassion. Being there when my mother died helped him learn how to process loss. Learning that it was okay to listen to his needs helped him articulate his feelings. We both grew, and we never returned to formal lessons.

Right now, our priority is learning how to live through extraordinary times. To do so, we need to be flexible, not rigid. Maybe, instead of worrying about algebra, we need to learn how to slow down and give time to our needs. Instead of testing, maybe we need to reflect on our collective grief and fear as we live through it. In place of Zoom classes, maybe we can develop skills in sustaining joyful human connections in a rapidly changing digital world?

This is a time for simple acts of radical gentleness. In the end, it is about loving ourselves, and each other, enough to get through this in one piece, even if that means playing hooky once in a while. The world won’t end if you do. It will be okay.

Victoria Bennett is a writer, creative producer, and full-time home educating mother to a teenage son

Read : Going back to ‘normal’ will be a process, not an event – we must learn to live with Covid

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https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/covid-travel-rules-prison-hotel-quarantine-b1799733.html

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Education, Health, International, Kids, News, Politics, Regional, Security, Youth0 Comments

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Policy paper UK-Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council 2020

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-overseas-territories-joint-ministerial-council-november-2020-communique/uk-overseas-terrirtories-joint-ministerial-council-2020-communique

Communiqué: Published 27 November 2020

Governor’s Office describes: OTs familyMontserrat Premier (c) top row

Contents

  1. The Minister for the Overseas Territories (OTs), Minister for European Neighbourhood and Americas, elected leaders, and representatives of the Overseas Territories met virtually as the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) from 23 – 26 November 2020. Ministerial colleagues from across the UK Government, including the Home Office, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, Department of Health and Social Care and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, and the Department for Transport also participated.
  2. Ministers, Territory leaders, and elected representatives were also pleased to welcome Children’s Commissioners for England and Jersey, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, and senior officials representing the UK Government.
  3. Ministers, Territory leaders, and elected representatives gave particular thanks to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales for his message of support. They also thanked the UK Prime Minister for addressing the Conference and welcomed the Prime Minister’s commitment to intensifying the partnership between the Territories and the UK Government.
  4. The JMC is the highest forum for political dialogue and consultation between the UK and elected leaders and representatives of the OTs for the purposes of providing leadership and promoting cooperation in areas of mutual interest. It provides a forum for the exchange of views on political and constitutional issues between the governments of the Overseas Territories and the UK Government; to promote the security and good governance of the Territories and their sustainable economic and social development; and to agree priorities, develop plans and review implementation.
  5. We continue to share a vision for the Territories as vibrant and flourishing communities, proudly retaining aspects of British identity and generating wider opportunities for their people.

1. Self determination

  1. The principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, as enshrined in the UN Charter, applies to the peoples of the Overseas Territories. We reaffirmed the importance of promoting the right of self-determination for the peoples of the Territories, something which is a collective responsibility of all parts of the UK Government. We committed to explore ways in which the Overseas Territories can maintain international support in countering hostile sovereignty claims. For those Territories with permanent populations who wish it, the UK will continue to support requests for the removal of the Territory from the United Nations list of non-self-governing Territories.

2. COVID-19 and the global health crisis

  1. The UK Government recognised the significant global impact and shared challenges of COVID-19, and congratulated the Territories on their handling of the response to the pandemic so far. The Territories thanked the UK for its outstanding support received both at the Ministerial and official level throughout the pandemic. The UK and Territories had worked together closely to tackle COVID-19 and this had underlined their strong links based on partnership, shared values, and mutual respect. The UK Government reaffirmed its continued support to the Territories during the pandemic and committed to supplying the Territories with COVID-19 vaccines. The UK and Territories shared information about challenges and successes around COVID-19 and committed to continue to work collaboratively to combat health crises, both now and in the future.

3. Economic resilience

  1. The UK is committed to supporting the Overseas Territories in building successful and resilient economies, and promoting the development and the wellbeing of its inhabitants. We recognise that although all are unique, the Overseas Territories, as small and open island economies, are particularly vulnerable to external shocks. Clear economic development plans, underpinned by strong public financial management, can help to create diverse and resilient economies in which people, businesses, and governments can look ahead to the future with confidence. The UK will support the Overseas Territories to increase their economic resilience through technical support and encouraging best practices in financial management.

The UK remains committed to meeting the reasonable assistance needs of Territories where financial self-sufficiency is not possible, as a first call on the aid budget. The UK will also consult the Overseas Territories on support programmes for the next financial year. In times of crisis, the UK stands ready to support the Overseas Territories, as happened following the hurricanes in 2017 and during the COVID-19 crisis. As a first step, the UK will look to the Overseas Territories to make full use of their financial resources to address their needs and will consider further requests for financial support on a case-by-case basis.

4. Exit from the European Union (EU) and trade

  1. The UK Government acknowledges that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) will impact on the Overseas Territories, particularly in the areas of eligibility for and access to funding, and trade.
  1. The UK Government has and continues to represent the interests of the Overseas Territories in the UK-EU negotiations, in particular on trade and funding programmes. The UK Government will also continue to engage meaningfully with the Territories and take their interests into account when negotiating new trading relationships with other partners around the world
  2. The UK Government will, in consultation with Territory Governments, take their interests and needs into account when designing future funding streams, programmes, and policies to promote the sustainable economic development of the Territories.
  3. The Territories’ links with the Commonwealth and United Nations will continue to be important. The UK is committed to strengthening these links. The UK also welcomes initiatives to develop links with regional organisations and with Territories and countries neighbouring the Overseas Territories.
  4. The UK Government and the UK’s devolved administrations confirm that students from the Overseas Territories will continue to be eligible for Home Student fee rates on the same basis as now, based on three years’ ordinary residence in an Overseas Territory or the UK.

5. Mental health

  1. The UK Government and the Overseas Territories re-affirmed their commitment to addressing mental health, recognising that “there is no health without mental health”. The importance of raising the awareness and understanding of mental health in our communities was discussed along with tackling the stigma that persists around mental health. We recognise that mental health affects all stages of life and that experiences in childhood can affect mental health in adulthood. It was also recognised that there is already work being done in this area in most OTs. Support from the UK is being provided through Public Health England and the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF). The United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA) will host a webinar on mental health in December 2020 for Territory and UK leaders and experts. It will provide an opportunity to have an open discussion on priority issues around stigma, mental health systems, and awareness campaigns. Overseas Territories and the UK committed to continuing the work to strengthen mental health systems to improve the lives of people with mental health problems, including children and young people, those with severe mental illness, and those in the criminal justice system.

6. Children

  1. We discussed the progress that has been made by Territories in relation to child safeguarding. We acknowledged that we cannot be complacent and that there is always more that can be done to ensure that children can grow up in an environment where they can be free from harm, flourish and meet their potential. We therefore re-affirmed our previous commitments to the highest standards of protection for children and a zero-tolerance approach to abuse. We heard from the Children’s Commissioners for England and Jersey about their roles in speaking up for children, influencing policy, assisting Governments and promoting children’s rights. We committed to consider exploring whether a Children’s Commissioner function or similar role might be appropriate for each Territory.

7. Domestic abuse

  1. We noted the increased incidence of domestic abuse globally, and the damaging effects both for individuals and for society. We acknowledged that tackling domestic abuse requires a holistic approach, including law enforcement, education, and medical professionals, and the criminal justice system. We spoke about the importance of challenging negative attitudes and behaviours and ensuring that victims are able to access the services that they need, when they need them. We heard about initiatives which our Territories are taking in this regard. We committed to identify opportunities and to take measures to tackle domestic abuse and to strengthen our system-wide response.

8. Prisons

  1. The Overseas Territories and UK recognise the unique context and needs of prisons in the Territories. We discussed shared challenges on prison reform and opportunities to work together for common objectives. The OTs and UK are committed to ensuring Territory prisons are safe, decent, and secure places of rehabilitation, compliant with human rights obligations that reduce reoffending and contribute to the security of local communities. Through the Ministry of Justice, the UK will continue to support Territories by providing expertise, project support, and by facilitating a network of experts across the Territories to support the development of tailored Territory prison standards.

9. Border security

  1. We noted the challenges faced globally, including in some Territories, of rising levels of illegal migration and border security issues and the subsequent impacts on society. We welcomed the ongoing work by the UK Government, through the new CSSF funded Border Security Programme, to help build capacity and capability in these areas. We discussed opportunities to build upon cross/multi-agency working to enhance cooperation and increase capability within the Territories. We committed to sharing best practices and lessons learned. We reaffirmed our shared interest in combating threats to our borders by working in partnership across the Territories and with the UK Government.

10. International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Instruments and Implementation (III) Code

  1. The UK reiterated that the representation of the UK and Overseas Territories in the international maritime arena is undertaken as a single entity by the UK on behalf of all and compliance with conventions is a shared collective responsibility.
  2. We recognise that a well-administered maritime infrastructure minimises the risks of a maritime incident in territorial seas and an up-to-date legislative framework provides the legal authority and enforcement powers to pursue the polluter to recover the high-level costs associated with such incidents. We continue to maintain our outstanding reputation for clean clear waters and promote our tourism with confidence. A successful III Code audit outcome will lay the foundations for future opportunities for the Territories through Blue Economies, for the Red Ensign Group to become a global leader on solutions for alternative marine technologies, and to share its expertise with others to drive forward improvements worldwide.
  3. The UK welcomed the ongoing commitment by the Territories to achieving III Code compliance and noted the investment in people and projects so far, whilst recognising the individual challenges. The UK reiterated its continued commitment to assisting the Territories through technical support and capacity building.

11. Environment/COP 26

  1. The Overseas Territories are the custodians of internationally important habitats, with rich and varied biodiversity, from Antarctica to the tropical oceans. Climate change and biodiversity loss has had, and will have, profound impacts on our natural environments, on our economies, and on our societies. Together we must act to tackle climate change and the loss of biodiversity.
  2. As coastal and island communities, our economies rely upon healthy and abundant marine environments. This year, Tristan da Cunha has put in place a vast marine protection zone, supported by the Blue Belt programme which now protects over 4 million square kilometers of ocean around the Territories. Building on the good work already undertaken, we will continue to enhance protection for our environments, both marine and terrestrial. The UK Government will meaningfully engage with the Overseas Territories to achieve local objectives that contribute to global targets for the environment, consistent with Sustainable Development Goals. Commitments to environmental funding such as Darwin Plus will support joint objectives to preserve the wonderful array of biodiversity across the Territories for generations to come, and to be an example to other communities in responding to the global biodiversity emergency.
  3. The Overseas Territories and the UK Government also pledged to work together to secure agreement on ambitious action to tackle climate change on a global scale at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow. By the time of the COP26 Summit, each government endeavours to communicate a territory-led plan for climate change adaptation and mitigation, which contributes towards global carbon emission reductions. The UK Government and Overseas Territories will continue to work together closely in the lead up to COP26, to ensure the Overseas Territories’ interests are represented. As the host of COP26, the UK Government endeavours to offer the Overseas Territories opportunities to showcase their environmental initiatives at the summit, including in areas such as transitioning to renewable sources of energy and disposal of waste. For both biodiversity and climate change actions, the UK Government commits to provide the Overseas Territories with technical and financial assistance where this is required.
  4. The UK Government and Overseas Territories welcomed the opportunity to come together as a Joint Ministerial council as a virtual forum and the opportunity this afforded all to have frank and open discussions on areas of mutual interest. We reiterated our commitment to deepening our unique partnership and looked forward to meeting together in person when the opportunity allows.

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Business/Economy/Banking, Court, COVID-19, Crime, Featured, Features, General, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Security, UK - Brexit0 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

DMCA logo

Montserrat will host a Maritime Mass Rescue Operation exercise

A release today from the Montserrat Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) says it  will host a Maritime Mass Rescue Operation (MRO) tabletop exercise and seminar on Thursday, August 8, 2019 at the Montserrat Cultural Center in Little Bay.

The one-day event, organized by the DMCA with technical support from the United Kingdom (UK) Maritime Coast Guard Agency and the United States (US) Coast Guard.

The Maritime MRO tabletop exercise and seminar will allow stakeholders to test and evaluate Montserrat’s national Maritime Mass Rescue Operation (MRO) response framework and draft Maritime Mass Rescue Operation plan for dealing with large passenger vessels that may traverse Montserrat waters.

The release notes, that some of these vessels may not have Montserrat as their destination but the circumstances may require a local response in the event of an alert or an emergency is declared.

Hence, Montserrat needs to be ready to respond nationally, with all stakeholders knowing and understanding their roles and responsibilities as defined in the Mass Rescue Operation (MRO) response plan, based on local resources and capabilities.

It is also critical that in any response Montserrat knows its resource limitations, incident command structure and logistical and communication arrangements.

The tabletop exercise and seminar would also guide Montserrat’s effectiveness and efficiency in responding to all types of marine emergencies.

The release informs that the event will bring together staff from the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA), the Royal Montserrat Police Service, the Montserrat Port Authority, Royal Montserrat Defence Force (RMDF), Tourism Division, Montserrat Integrated Border Security Unit (IBSU), Montserrat branch of the British Red Cross, Airport, Governor’s Office, the Fisher’s Association, Social Services, Ministry of Health and representatives from the US Coast Guard and the UK Maritime Coast Guard Agency.

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BVI government to improve border security

BVI government to improve border security

by STAFF WRITER

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jun 3 CMC – Over US$6-million will be spent to improve border security across this British Overseas territory.

Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley  says the move shows that the current administration is serious  about advancing the territory.

Vincent Wheatley

“For as long as I can recall, there have been complaints and heavy criticism levied against Labour and Immigration departments.That is why Cabinet recently approved the sum of $6.4 million for the purchase of a new state-of-the-art Immigration border management system.”

This comes several months after Governor Augustus announced that travellers arriving and departing the BVI will be subject to heightened security measures to include the implementation of an Advance Passenger Information (API) System.

Meanwhile, Wheatley said he intends to give support to the departments of Labour and Immigration by introducing policies and legislation to help reform and improve them.

Concerning plans for the online amalgamation of the Labour and Immigration departments, Wheatley, who is also Labour Minister, says this has already started.

“It’s currently undergoing testing. We are using a test group of 32 different businesses – which will soon be open to the wider public,” adding that the undertaking is scheduled to be ready for the broader public by July.

“It is only the beginning. Later on this month, we will be launching a few more initiatives within that department starting with a name change,” he said.

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Police offer reward to capture escaped prisoner

Police offer reward to capture escaped prisoner

bySTAFF WRITER

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Jan. 17, CMC – The police have offered a reward of EC$5,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) to anyone who can provide information that will lead to the recapturing a man who escaped last week.

The police report that Hayden Phillip was discovered missing from the prison last Thursday and since then they have been searching for the convict who was serving time for robbery and was awaiting trial for a sexually related offence.

During a press conference here Thursday,

Assistant Superintendent of Prison Finbar Charles said that the financial reward is aimed at encouraging persons who know about his whereabouts to come forward so that law enforcement can return him to prison.

“We need the public to assist us in having him recaptured,” said Charles who gave the assurance that whatever tips provided to the police and or the prison will be investigated.

On Wednesday, Inspector Desmond Richard promised that Phillip will be recaptured although he has been evading Police for the last seven days.

According to  Richards, be believes there are persons   assisting Phillips and promised that once investigations can be confirmed and clarify certain information, persons will fully be prosecuted in accordance with the law.

The penalty to harbour, conceal, or aid in the concealment of any person who has committed a crime, ranges between a minimum of six months and five years in prison.

Posted in CARICOM, Crime, International, News, OECS, Regional, Security0 Comments

US Embassy to waive visa renewal interviews for Barbadians

US Embassy to waive visa renewal interviews for Barbadians

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Aug 23, CMC – The United States (US) Embassy has announced that from August 28, it will waive visa renewal interviews in Barbados for qualified applicants.

It said the move is part of the US Government’s efforts to improve customer service and streamline the visa process.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Embassy said Barbados passport holders may qualify for a visa renewal interview waiver if their previous visa expired within the past 12 months and they are applying for the same visa category as their previous visa.

“The applicant must be physically present in Barbados or within the consular district of the US Embassy in Bridgetown to avail themselves of this option. Additionally, the previous US visa must be in the applicant’s possession, and the applicant must have submitted a ten-fingerprint scan in conjunction with the previous visa application,” it said.

Students who wish to renew their visas, and who satisfy the requirements may qualify for interview waiver if they are applying to continue attendance at the same institution, or will continue the same major course of study at a different institution. Applicants seeking to renew work-related visas who are returning to work for the same employer/company as annotated on the previous visa may also qualify. Applicants under the age of 14 and over 79 will continue to qualify for interview waiver in most visa classifications.

However, third country nationals must schedule an interview.

The US Embassy stressed that eligibility for interview waiver does not automatically entitle applicants to a waiver of the interview requirement.

It added that there will be further expansion of interview waivers in US Embassy Bridgetown’s consular district in the coming weeks.

CMC/2018

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Mark Lancaster poses with the crew of RFA Mounts Bay after watching a Humanitarian Relief and Disaster Relief Exercise on the small volcanic island of Montserrat.

UK Armed Forces on high alert for hurricane season

News story

The UK’s Overseas Territories will have unwavering military support throughout the 2018 hurricane season, a Defence minister has confirmed.

Mark Lancaster poses with the crew of RFA Mounts Bay after watching a Humanitarian Relief and Disaster Relief Exercise on the small volcanic island of Montserrat.
Mark Lancaster poses with the crew of RFA Mounts Bay after watching a Humanitarian Relief and Disaster Relief (HADR) Exercise on the small volcanic island of Montserrat. Crown copyright.

British residents were killed, homes were destroyed and infrastructure was decimated when Irma and Maria, two of the most powerful hurricanes for decades, smashed through the region back-to-back in September 2017.

Mark Lancaster visited Barbados, Antigua and Montserrat this week to reassure locals that the Ministry of Defence is supporting other Government departments to ensure that similar devastation is not repeated.

Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster said:

No matter what the elements throw at our Overseas Territories this year, we will be there to help them every step of the way throughout 2018 and beyond. We may not be able to prevent natural disasters from occurring, but our world-class military have been planning meticulously to ensure lives are protected and damage is kept to a minimum.

Our citizens in the Caribbean have already shown incredible resilience over the last year and we are determined that when this difficult period is over their local facilities are in a better state than they were before.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Mounts Bay will act as the hub of the UK’s response, and the minister was able to see a demonstration of her amphibious capabilities while in Montserrat.

Fleet Auxiliary vessel MOUNTS BAY and her crew conducting a Humanitarian Relief and Disaster Relief Exercise in Montserrat.
Fleet Auxiliary vessel MOUNTS BAY and her crew conducting a Humanitarian Relief and Disaster Relief (HADR) Exercise in Montserrat. Crown copyright.

As well as being able to carry vital aid and equipment, RFA Mounts Bay also has the latest Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter on board to provide aerial support. There is also a medical facility on board, with 10 patient beds for anyone who suffers serious injuries or illness.

The visit also provided an opportunity for Mr Lancaster to speak to island governors and residents about their needs as they continue to recover from last year’s hurricanes.

As well as preparing for this year, RFA Mounts Bay has been in the region since Irma struck and will remain there until 2020 to help restore the islands to normal.

A Wildcat helicopter takes off from RFA Mounts Bay during the Humanitarian Relief and Disaster Relief Exercise
A Wildcat helicopter takes off from RFA Mounts Bay during the Humanitarian Relief and Disaster Relief (HADR) Exercise. Crown copyright.

The Government has already committed £142million to support the recovery effort in the affected territories, as well as £300million of UK loan guarantees.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon is currently visiting the British Virgin Islands, which suffered extensive damage, as the Government continues its preparations for 2018.

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People embrace outside the Alamo Gym where students and parents wait to reunite following a shooting at Santa Fe High School today.

At least eight dead in Texas high school shooting

Jamaica Observer

Friday, May 18, 2018

People embrace outside the Alamo Gym where students and parents wait to reunite following a shooting at Santa Fe High School today.

CHICAGO, United States (AFP) — At least eight people were killed when a male student opened fire at a Texas high school on Friday, a local sheriff said, as President Donald Trump expressed his “heartbreak” over the “horrific” shooting.

The incident took place at Santa Fe High School in the city of the same name, located about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of Houston.

“There are multiple fatalities,” the sheriff of Harris County, Ed Gonzalez, told a news briefing. “There could be anywhere between eight to 10, the majority being students.”

The male teen suspect in custody was not immediately identified. A second possible person of interest was being questioned, Gonzalez told reporters.

A somber Trump, who was speaking at an event on prison reform at the White House, expressed “sadness and heartbreak” over the deadly shooting spree.

“This has been going on too long in our country,” Trump said. “We’re with you in this tragic hour.”

The shooting was the latest in what has become an all-too-familiar situation in American schools, where gun violence has become a part of everyday life.

Earlier this year, 17 students and staff were killed in a shooting at a Florida high school — a massacre that prompted survivors to launch a grassroots campaign against gun violence.

The US president, who has previously shied away from gun control measures in favor of arming teachers, said his administration was “determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools, and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves, and to others.”

– Multiple shots –
The shooting erupted before 8:00 am, as the school day was beginning.

“There was someone that walked in with a shotgun and started shooting, and this girl got shot in the leg,” an eyewitness identified as Nikki told local television station KTRK.

She said students fled the school in a panic, and several other students told local media they heard multiple gunshots.

The school district, which quickly imposed a lockdown, cleared the students from the campus, with television footage showing them leaving in a single file. No other schools had been affected.

Some students were evacuated to a nearby auto shop, where parents were picking up their children, according to CBS affiliate KHOU-TV.

Parent Richard Allen told KTRK he arrived at the school soon after the shooting and reported seeing a number of victims being taken away in ambulances.

“My son said someone went into the art room and started shooting a lot of the kids,” Allen said.

Student Paige Curry told local media that she heard gunshots and then a fire alarm, after which students were taken out by teachers to a nearby gas station.

“I saw some girl — she had, you know, she got shot in the kneecap, I guess. So she had a bandage around it. She was limping and then the firemen came and got her,” another student, who gave his first name as Tyler, told CBS.

A large contingent of police as well as agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were responding to the incident.

Posted in Crime, International, Local, News, Police, Regional, Security0 Comments

Phillipe Ardanaz

Treaty signed to define maritime space with French territories

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Mar. 16, CMC – A treaty to solidify negotiations with the Republic of France to define the maritime space between Antigua and Barbuda and neighbouring French territories, was signed by government officials on Wednesday.

The treaty establishes the outer limits of Antigua & Barbuda’s jurisdiction from where the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) ends, its use, and exploration and exploitation of the Atlantic Ocean in respect to Guadeloupe and Saint Barthelemy.

It also embraces the interests of local fishermen and seafarers who now have a clearer understanding of the delineation of boundaries, thereby enabling both governments to rectify the common issue.

Phillipe Ardanaz
Phillipe Ardanaz

“It is also the first step to manage the problems we may have between our fishermen; obviously, it is never easy to know if you are in French waters or Antiguan waters,” said Ambassador to the OECS Member States and Barbados, Phillipe Ardanaz, who signed the treaty.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his administration recognises the need for adopting a ‘Blue Economy’ approach to development and is currently looking at ways to develop the nation’s oceanic resources.

“That is a significant amount of resources for us to harness, in fact it is almost 200 times our land space. My understanding is that within the next 40 years, it will be very difficult to find sufficient land space in order to produce sufficient food to sustain the global population,” Browne said.

The prime minister added that possessing a large EEZ provides the opportunity to satisfy seafood demand and suggested the twin island is capable of harvesting in the region of 10,000 tonnes of fish and fish products each year.

“As it stands now, fresh fish and fish products are relatively outside the means of the ordinary Antiguan and Barbudan, but as we continue to invest more resources in the ‘Blue Economy’ in fisheries, we will see an increase in supply and therefore that should help to drive down the cost.”

The Prime Minister said this treaty delineates an essential area in the Atlantic waters that will ensure there are no disputes over maritime space with the country’s neighbours.

The signing of the agreement follows the Eastern Caribbean Ocean Policy (ECROP) declaration for OECS members to formalise maritime boundaries in securing rights protection and jurisdiction over marine areas.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, International, Local, News, Regional, Security, Sports, TOURISM0 Comments

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