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Friday, November 18, 2022
Schools across the island celebrate World Children’s Day today
Dominica joins the rest of the world in celebrating World Children’s Day today.
World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day and it’s a day set aside to promote international togetherness, and awareness, and improve welfare among children worldwide.
Various schools on the island used themes, including funny hairstyles, socks, crayon costumes, colour-coded wear, amongst others which formed part of the celebration.
Dominica news online
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
The late Terry Raymond said to have made a ‘significant’ contribution to youth development in Dominica
The late Terry Raymond, a former employee of the Youth Development Division and past President of the National Youth Council (NYC), has been described as a man who made a significant contribution to youth development in Dominica.
Raymond, who was also a former prison officer and a member of the JCI Movement in Dominica, passed away on Sunday 13th, November 2022, after a prolonged illness.
On February 1, 1999, Raymond, then a prison officer, was seconded to the Youth Environment Service (YES) Corps within the Youth Development Division. He worked as YES Corps Coordinator until October 31, 2005. During his time with YES Corps, he developed six core training modules for the project which included Orientation Module, History, Heritage & Tourism Module, Agriculture Module, Forestry, Wildlife & National Parks Module, Coastal Marine Module, and Waste Module.
He also formed the Dominica Youth Environmental Organization (DYEO) as well as several Environmental Clubs at Secondary Schools across Dominica. Under the project, one of the initiatives under the project was the Annual National Beach & Waterways Cleanup Campaigns which were implemented during the month of October, forming part of the observance of Independence.
“The Youth Development Division and Dominica has lost a man who made a significant contribution to youth development in Dominica.”
Condolences are also extended on behalf of the Youth Development Division, and the Ministry of Youth, to Raymond’s wife Jennifer and his children.
Source: Dominica news online
Thursday, November 10, 2022
DLP reveals new candidates for upcoming elections
The Dominica labour party has revealed its new candidates to contest the 2022 general elections. They were revealed at a meeting at the Windsor Park Sports Stadium Forecourt on tuesday night.
The candidates are Roland Royer- Cottage Constituency, Lakeyia Joseph – Paix Bouche Constituency, Julian Defoe- Petite Savanne Constituency, Miriam Blanchard- Roseau North Constituency, Dr. Cassandra Williams- La Plaine Constituency, Lynsia Frank- Salisbury Constituency, Daren Pinard- Colihaut Constituency, Fenella Wenham- Portsmouth Constituency, Daren Lloyd- St Joseph Constituency, and Cassanni Laville- Mahaut Constituency
They will be joined by the returning candidates who will include Dr. Vince Henderson- Grandbay Constituency, Gregory Riviere- Marigot Constituency, Fidel Grant- Wesley Constituency, Cozier Frederick- Salybia Constituency, Denise Charles- Soufriere Constituency, Octavia Alfred- Castle Bruce, Dr. Irving McIntyre- Roseau Valley Constituency, Gretta Roberts- Morne Jaune/Riviere Cyrique Constituency, Melissa Poponne- Skerrit- Roseau Central Constituency, and Chekira Lockhart- Hypolite- Roseau South Constituency.
The ministers who were replaced are Kent Edwards- La Plaine Constituency, Shanks’ Esprit- Salisbury Constituency, Catherine Daniel- Colihaut Constituency, Joseph Isaac of the Roseau North constituency, Roselyn Paul- Paix Bouche Constituency, Rayburn Blackmoore- Mahaut Constituency, Ian Douglas- Portsmouth Constituency, Reginald Austrie- Cottage Constituency, Dr. Adis King- St Joseph Constituency, and Dr. Kenneth Darroux- Petite Savanne Constituency.
Dominica news online
Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Tuvalu first to call for fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty at Cop27
Using United Nations climate talks, Tuvalu has become the first country to demand an international fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, Faysing out the use of Coal, oil, and gas. The small Pacific islands nation becomes the second country to call for an end to the era of burning fossil fuels, the primary cause of the rapidly escalating climate crisis, along with fellow Pacific nation Vanuatu being the first.
Tuvalu made the call on tuesday at the Cop27 climate talks in Egypt. Climate activists have welcomed the move but condemned large polluters like the U.S. and China for ensuring that fossil fuels are shielded by previous iterations of the climate talks.
Last year at Cop26 in Scotland, Countries vowed for the first time to fays down the use of coal, but Gas and oil was not mentioned. the prime minister of Tuvalu said that the warming seas are starting to swallow our lands inch by inch. Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International. said a fossil fuel treaty that would curb new exploitation of reserves and switch in a just way to renewables has so far been overlooked “by design” because of the reliance of several powerful countries on digging up and burning fossil fuels.
Monday, November 7, 2022
Huge solar flare just hit Earth today; causes blackout in Australia, NZ
A dangerous M-5 class solar flare hit the Earth today causing a radio blackout in Australia and New Zealand.
An M-5 class solar flare hurled from the sun as a result of a sunspot eruption AR3141 at 0011 UT today, according to spaceweather.com. There were shortwave radio blackouts around the South Pacific, parts of Austrailia and all of New Zealand.
Thursday, October 27, 2022
New missile strikes hit Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia; Russia warns U.S. commercial satellites could become targets if involved in war
Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia, the Ukrainian capital, has been struk by fresh Russian missiles. The capital lies in the south and it's home to Europes largest nuclear power plant.
From midnight into the morning Sirens went off in Kyiv. The local Ukrainian media reported that authorities had told residents to seek shelter.
If the U.S gets involve in the war, there commercial satellites and those of its allies could become targets for Russian retaliatory strikes senior Russian official warned.
The u.s commertial satalites have been providing imagery of Russian troops and weapon formations and mass grave sites left behind in occupied areas.
according to a Ukrainian presidential advisor, the heaviest of battles still lies ahead in Kherson as Ukrainian troops try to advance on Russian forces. Russia appears to be diging in fore more fighting as citizens were ordered to evacuate as remaining men were envited to local joined militias.
Thanks for the information
QUANTUM EXPERIMENTS WITH ENTANGLED PHOTONS WIN THE 2022 NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS
PHYSICISTS ALAIN ASPECT, JOHN CLAUSER AND ANTON ZEILINGER LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR QUANTUM TECHNOLOGY
By James R. Riordon
October 4, 2022 at 10:47 am
Tests of quantum weirdness and its potential real-world applications have been recognized with the 2022 Nobel Prize in physics.
At some level we are all subject to quantum rules that even Albert Einstein struggled to come to terms with. For the most part, these rules play out behind the scenes in transistors that make up computer chips, lasers and even in the chemistry of atoms and molecules in materials all around us. Applications that stem from this year’s Nobel Prize take advantage of quantum features at larger scales. They include absolutely secure communications and quantum computers that may eventually solve problems that no conceivable conventional computer could complete in the lifetime of the universe.
This year’s prize is shared among three physicists. Alain Aspect and John Clauser confirmed that the rules of quantum mechanics, as weird and difficult to believe as they are, really do rule the world, while Anton Zeilinger has taken advantage of strange quantum behavior to develop rudimentary applications that no conventional technology can match. Each laureate will take home a third of the prize money, which totals 10 million Swedish kronor, worth roughly $915,000 as of October 4.
“Today, we honor three physicists whose pioneering experiments showed us that the strange world of entanglement … is not just the micro-world of atoms, and certainly not the virtual world of science fiction or mysticism, but it’s the real world that we all live in,” said Thors Hans Hansson, a member of the Nobel Committee for Physics, at a press conference announcing the award on October 4 at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (SN: 11/5/10).
“It was certainly very exciting to learn about the three laureates,” says physicist Jerry Chow of IBM Quantum in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. “Aspect, Zeilinger and Clauser — they’re all very, very well known in our quantum community, and their work is something that’s really been a big part of many people’s research efforts over many years.”
Aspect, of the Université Paris-Saclay and École Polytechnique in France, and Clauser, who now runs a company in California, showed that there are no secret back channels of communication that explain how two particles can exist as a single entity, even though they are far apart (SN: 12/29/14).
The experiments of Zeilinger, of the University of Vienna, that rely on that quantum behavior include demonstrations of communications, absolutely secure encryption and components crucial for quantum computers. He pioneered another, widely misunderstood, application — quantum teleportation. Unlike the teleportation of people and objects in science fiction, the effect involves the perfect transmission of information about a quantum object from one place to another.
“I was always interested in quantum mechanics from the very first moments when I read about it,” Zeilinger said via phone at the news conference announcing the award. “I was actually struck by some of the theoretical predictions, because they did not fit the usual intuitions which one might have.”
The discovery of quantum behavior that rules the world at small scales, like the motion of an electron around an atom, revolutionized physics at the beginning of the 20th century. Many leading scientists, most famously including Einstein, acknowledged that quantum theories worked, but argued that they couldn’t be the true description of the world because they involved, at best, calculating the probabilities that something would happen (SN: 1/12/22). To Einstein, this meant that there was some hidden information that experiments were too crude to uncover.
Others believed that quantum behavior, derogatively called weirdness, though difficult to understand, had no secret ways of transmitting information. It was largely a matter of opinion and debate until physicist John Bell proposed a test in the 1960s to prove that there were no hidden channels of communication among quantum objects (SN: 12/29/14). At the time it wasn’t clear that an experiment to perform the test was possible.
Clauser was the first to develop a practical experiment to confirm Bell’s test, although there remained loopholes his experiment couldn’t check that left room for doubt. (His interest in science developed early. In 1959 and 1960, Clauser competed in the National Science Fair, now known as the International Science and Engineering Fair (SN: 5/23/59). The fair is run by the Society for Science, which publishes Science News.)
Aspect took the idea further to eliminate any chance that quantum mechanics had some hidden underpinnings of classical physics (SN: 1/11/86). The experiments of Clauser and Aspect involved creating pairs of photons that were entangled, meaning that they were essentially a single object. As the photons moved in different directions, they remained entangled. That is, they continue to exist as a single, extended object. Measuring the characteristics of one instantly reveals characteristics of the other, no matter how far apart they may be.
Entanglement is a delicate state of affairs and is difficult to maintain, but the results of the experiments of Clauser and Aspect show that quantum effects cannot be explained with any hidden variables that would be signs of non-quantum underpinnings.
To Chow, the significance of this research is twofold. “There’s really an element of showing, from a philosophical point, that quantum mechanics is real,” he says. “But then, from the more practical standpoint … this same beautiful theory of quantum mechanics gives a different set of rules by which information is processed.” That, in turn, opens up new avenues for next-generation technologies like quantum computers and communications (SN: 12/3/20).
Zeilinger’s experiments take advantage of entanglement to achieve feats that would not be possible without the effects that Clauser and Aspect confirmed. He has extended the experiments from the lab to intercontinental distances, opening up the possibility that entanglement can be put to practical use (SN: 5/31/12). Because interacting with one of a pair of entangled particles affects the other, they can become key components in secure communications and encryption. An outsider trying to listen in on a quantum communique would be revealed because they would break the entanglement as they snooped.
Quantum computers that rely on entangled particles have also become a topic of active research. Instead of the ones and zeros of conventional computers, quantum computers encode information and perform calculations that are blends of both one and zero. In theory, they can perform some calculations that no digital computer could ever match. Zeilinger’s quantum teleportation experiments offer a route to transfer the information that such quantum computers rely on (SN: 1/17/98).
“This [award] is a very nice and positive surprise to me,” says Nicolas Gisin, a physicist at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. “This prize is very well-deserved, but comes a bit late. Most of that work was done in the [1970s and 1980s], but the Nobel Committee was very slow, and now is rushing after the boom of quantum technologies.”
That boom is happening on a global scale, Gisin says. “In the U.S. and in Europe and in China, billions — literally billions of dollars are poured into this field. So, it’s changing completely,” he says. “Instead of having a few individuals pioneering the field, now we have really huge crowds of physicists and engineers that work together.”
Although some of the most esoteric quantum applications are in their infancy, the experiments of Clauser, Aspect and Zeilinger bring quantum mechanics, and its strange implications, to the macroscopic world. Their contributions validate some of the key, once controversial ideas of quantum mechanics and promise novel applications that may someday be commonplace in daily life, in ways that even Einstein couldn’t deny.
Maria Temming contributed reporting to this story.
Questions or comments on this article? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
BRAZIL’S BOLSONARO AND THE RIGHT OUTPERFORM, DEFYING POLLS
By DIANE JEANTET and CARLA BRIDI
October 3rd, 2022
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Jair Bolsonaro considerably outperformed expectations in Brazil’s presidential election, proving that the far-right wave he rode to the presidency remains a force and providing the world with yet another example of polls missing the mark.
The most-trusted opinion polls had indicated leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was far out front, and potentially even clinching a first-round victory. One prominent pre-election poll gave da Silva a 14 percentage point lead. In the end, Bolsonaro surprised to the upside and came within just 5 points. He will face da Silva in a high-stakes Oct. 30 presidential runoff.
On Sunday, da Silva, known universally as Lula, obtained 48.4% of valid votes, which excludes blank and null ballots, while Bolsonaro got 43.2%, according to Brazil’s electoral authority. The first round’s nine other candidates received a fraction of the frontrunners’ support.
“This is a big defeat for the democratic center that saw its voters migrate to Bolsonaro in a polarized scenario,” said Arilton Freres, director of Curitiba-based Instituto Opinião. “Lula starts ahead, but it won’t be easy for him.”
The vote was virtually free from the political violence that many had feared. Alexandre de Moraes, the Supreme Court justice who also leads the electoral authority, congratulated Brazil for the “safe, calm, harmonious and peaceful” election that demonstrated its democratic maturity.
Yet tensions remain high, as are the stakes. The election will determine whether the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps Bolsonaro in office for another term.
The past four years have been marked by his incendiary speech, testing of democratic institutions, widely criticized handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worst deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in 15 years. But he has built a devoted base by defending conservative values and presenting himself as protecting the nation from leftist policies that he says infringe on personal liberties and produce economic turmoil.
“I understand there is a desire from the population for change, but some changes can be for the worse,” Bolsonaro told reporters after the results were released. Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the nation’s electronic voting machines are vulnerable to fraud, didn’t challenge the result.
Da Silva is credited with building an extensive social welfare program during his 2003-2010 tenure that helped lift tens of millions into the middle class and saw exports surge amid the global commodities boom. He is also remembered for his political party’s involvement in corruption scandals and his own convictions, which were later annulled by the Supreme Court that ruled the judge had been biased. That freed him from imprisonment and cleared the way for his presidential run.
Just ahead of the election, da Silva made a plea for support, saying a small number of votes could mean the difference between an outright victory and a runoff.
Bolsonaro outperformed in Brazil’s southeast region, which includes highly populous Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states, according to Rafael Cortez, who oversees political risk at consultancy Tendencias Consultoria.
“The polls didn’t capture that growth,” he said. “It leaves a bitter taste for the left, if we consider what the polls were showing.”
Bolsonaro and allies have repeatedly cast doubt on the reliability of pollsters like Datafolha, and pointed instead to his street rallies with great turnouts. Supporters like retired engineer Ramon Almeida agreed.
“I don’t believe these polls by the Datafolha group. I believe the ‘Data-people’ poll I see everywhere Bolsonaro goes,” Almeida, 72, said Sunday after casting his vote at a school in Sao Paulo’s upmarket Pinheiros neighborhood. “I think there’s going to be a runoff in the end.”
Analysts noted that also-rans did worse than anticipated, and their voters appeared to jump ship on the election’s eve, decamping to Bolsonaro’s side.
hat is most likely is people changed their preferences strategically before the vote, and that really favored Bolsonaro,” said Nara Pavão, who teaches political science at the Federal University of Pernambuco. “People who were originally voting for Simone Tebet or Ciro Gomes (the third and fourth place finishers) decided at the last minute to vote for Bolsonaro.”
The difference between Bolsonaro and da Silva in the first round amounted to 6.1 million votes. Tebet and Gomes together earned 8.5 million votes, and more than 30 million people abstained.
Speaking after the results, da Silva betrayed the fact he didn’t even know for which date the runoff is scheduled. But he said he was excited for another few weeks of campaigning, and the opportunity to go face-to-face with Bolsonaro and “make comparisons between the Brazil he built with the Brazil we built during our administrations.”
“During this whole campaign, we were ahead in the opinion polls of all the institutes, even those that didn’t want us to win,” da Silva said. “I always thought that we were going to win these elections. And I tell you that we are going to win this election. This, for us, is just an extension.”
The right’s positive night extended to races for governorships and congressional seats, especially candidates with Bolsonaro’s blessing. His former infrastructure minister surprised by finishing first in the race to govern Sao Paulo. The governor of Rio de Janeiro, an ally, vanquished his opponent to win reelection outright.
Sergio Moro, the former judge who temporarily jailed da Silva and was Bolsonaro former justice minister, defied polls to win a Senate seat.
Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party will surpass da Silva’s Workers’ Party to become the biggest in the Senate. In the Lower House, Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party and the coalition led by da Silva’s Workers’ Party will be the chamber’s two largest forces.
Among its victors were Bolsonaro’s former ministers of regional development and science and technology. In the Lower House, his former health minister, a general who oversaw the pandemic’s troubled management, and his former environment minister, who resigned amid an investigation into whether he had aided the export of illegally cut timber in the Amazon, also secured seats.
“The far-right has shown great resilience in the presidential and in the state races,” said Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo.
Bolsonaro told reporters that his party’s showing in Congress could bring fresh support ahead of the Oct. 30 vote, as other parties strike alliances in exchange for support in the runoff.
“Brazil is much more polarized than many people thought, and governing will be difficult for whomever wins,” said Brian Winter, vice president for policy at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. “I think the next few weeks will put heavy strain on Brazil’s democracy as these two men fight it out. Expect an ugly race that will leave scars.”
Bridi reported from Brasilia. AP writers Mauricio Savarese, Daniel Politi and David Biller reported
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A CARIBBEAN ISLAND GETS EVERYONE INVOLVED IN PROTECTING BELOVED SPECIES
TINY SABA HAS A WEALTH OF BELOVED SPECIES IN NEED OF SUPPORT
By Anna Gibbs
September 27, 2022 at 7:00 am
The coral reef, once bustling with more than 5,000 long-spined sea urchins, became a ghost town in a matter of days. White skeletons with dangling spines dotted the reef near the Dutch Caribbean island of Saba, the water cloudy from the disintegrating corpses. In just a week last April, half of the urchins, Diadema antillarum, in a section of reef called “Diadema City” had died. In June, only 100 remained.
The mysterious die-off started sweeping across the Caribbean in February. It’s eerily similar to a mass mortality event in 1983 that wiped out as much as 99 percent of the Caribbean Diadema population — a huge blow to not only the urchins, which have not fully recovered four decades later, but also the reefs. Without urchins grazing, algae can overwhelm a reef, damaging adult coral and leaving nowhere for new coral to settle.
Before the die-off, Saba’s coral cover — the part of a reef that consists of live hard coral rather than sponges, algae or other organisms — hovered around 50 percent. Today, that number is down to 3 percent.
“It’s just downhill, downhill, downhill,” says Alwin Hylkema, a marine ecologist at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences and Wageningen University in the Netherlands who is based in Saba (pronounced “say-bah”).
I learned about Saba’s sea urchin problem only shortly after I learned that the island existed. Saba is a blip in the Caribbean; at 13 square kilometers, it’s about a quarter the size of Manhattan, with the towering Mount Scenery volcano at its center. Its reefs attract scuba divers, but a lack of beaches shields it from regular Caribbean tourist traffic — hence its nickname, “the unspoiled queen.” What the island lacks in size and sand it makes up for with its great variety of species, its biodiversity. Steep cliffs support several microclimates. In just a few hours, a visitor can hike from volcanic rock to grassy field to misty cloud forest.
This diversity makes Saba the perfect spot for Sea & Learn, an annual educational program that brings scientists from around the world to the island. Former dive shop owner Lynn Costenaro launched the program in 2003 to encourage more divers to visit Saba during the off-season. But the event has grown to play an important role in educating the island’s 2,000 residents about their home’s unique wildlife and ecosystems.
Throughout October, the scientists present their research on everything from biology and geology to astronomy at restaurants and in plazas. Several researchers also host public research trips underwater and on shore, so attendees can see the lobsters, or rock formations or stars for themselves.
This kind of local engagement with the environment comes at a time when many species are at risk, and not just on Saba, says Severin Irl, an island ecologist at Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany. Although islands cover only about 7 percent of the world’s landmass, they are home to an estimated 20 percent of all species — and 75 percent of all documented extinctions.
Some island species occupy only one island; others are spread out in small populations across several islands. Species within small populations can develop a very narrow, island-specific set of adaptations, which spells trouble when humans and invasive species arrive. Today, any given plant or animal on an island is 12 times as likely to go extinct as species on the mainland, Irl and an international group of researchers reported in the November 2021 Global Ecology and Conservation. And the decline is speeding up at an unprecedented rate. As biodiversity decreases, islands lose the complexity that helps keep the ecosystem stable and less vulnerable to disruptions, such as climate change.
“We’re in the midst of a biodiversity crisis … and islands are really bearing the brunt of that global change,” says arachnologist Lauren Esposito of the California Academy of Sciences, who has presented research on spiders and scorpions at Sea & Learn.
The features that put island inhabitants at risk — their small size and isolation — also make them wonderful laboratories. Like the famous Galápagos Islands that turned Charles Darwin on to natural selection, islands present opportunities to study individual species as well as ecosystem dynamics, in a relatively small microcosm. In 2021, the California Academy of Sciences launched Islands 2030, co-led by Esposito, in five tropical archipelagos, including the Lesser Antilles where Saba is located. The aim is to conduct biodiversity research as well as train local communities to become guardians of their environments. The program took its inaugural trip to Saba’s Sea & Learn last October.
I attended that Sea & Learn and tagged along on field trips to see what progress and pitfalls researchers had experienced while working on Saba to protect a tiny orchid, a bright-billed bird and those dying urchins.
On my first night, I joined locals and tourists at the Brigadoon restaurant to hear Mike Bechtold talk about Saba’s orchids. Bechtold, a retired nuclear arms expert from Virginia who fell in love with orchids while serving in Korea, first traveled to the island in 2003 to study the flowers. He’s since presented several times at Sea & Learn. This was his first time back in seven years.
After defining an orchid as a flowering plant with three petals and a laundry list of unusual attributes, Bechtold described the disorganized history of orchid research on Saba, including a series of miscommunications that has resulted in count discrepancies. A recently published book identifies 22 species, while Bechtold counts 32.
“To know what we have to preserve, well, we at least have to know what is there,” says Michiel Boeken, a former secondary school teacher from the Netherlands who studied orchids on Saba during his 2010 to 2012 tenure as principal of the island’s only secondary school.
The morning after his presentation, Bechtold led a hike to Spring Bay to look for orchids. We walked along the island’s only major road — aptly named The Road. At the trailhead, we descended into a swath of trees laden with mosses and other plants. We’d only walked for about 10 minutes when Bechtold pointed out an Epidendrum ciliare, the most common orchid on Saba, perched on a tree.
Stepping carefully over hermit crabs, we looked for the pile of rocks that marked where to leave the trail to find another species, Brassavola cucullata. Bechtold, Boeken and colleagues had surveyed the Spring Bay population from 2011 to 2014 to see if Saba’s numbers were declining. As we lowered ourselves down the steep hillside, we eventually spied the tiny white and yellow flowers of B. cucullata atop a tall tree with a metal tag glued beneath it; it was #582 of 834 B. cucullata plants that Bechtold helped tag a decade earlier.
We counted the plant’s leaves and measured them. Bechtold’s team had found that larger plants with more leaves had a better chance of survival than smaller plants, as did plants that were higher off the
ground, like #582. Plants close to the ground were often munched on by wild goats.
The orchid is found from Mexico to northern South America. But here, the B. cucullata population was indeed declining, with small plants dying and not many new plants starting to grow, the researchers reported in 2020 in the International Journal of Plant Sciences. Without counting flowers for many more years, if not decades, it will be hard to know if the decline reflects natural population dynamics or if it’s a troublesome trend.
Regardless of cause, the population’s small size makes the island’s B. cucullata vulnerable. A recent hurricane knocked over several trumpet trees hosting large orchid plants. Some of the plants were crushed; others, lowered to the ground when their tree toppled, faced death by goat chomping.
Tracking red-billed tropicbirds
A week after the orchid hike, I found myself perched on a boulder high up on a cliff at Tent Bay on the island’s southern coast, looking for nests tucked into narrow rock crevices. German ecologist Lara Mielke, another volunteer and I started out at dawn to beat the heat, climbing hand over foot up the exposed hill. Overhead, red-billed tropicbirds, with long white tails and bright crimson beaks, swooped out across the sea.
About 1,500 breeding pairs of Phaethon aethereus mesonauta, one of the three subspecies of red-billed tropicbirds, breed on Saba, as much as a quarter of the subspecies’s global population. Tropicbirds spend most of their lives at sea, only coming to land for a few months each year to breed and raise a single chick. Their cliffside nesting spot makes the birds hard to study even when they’re on land. Fortunately, on Saba and the neighboring island Saint Eustatius, or “Statia,” the terrain is tough but not impossible to scale.
While climbing, I was startled by an abrasive squawk coming from a deep crevice hiding a nest. But the birds are more squawk than bite, and Mielke was able to reach her arm into the small opening and extract the bird to wrap a band around its leg.
Tameness, helpful when it comes to banding, makes these birds vulnerable to invasive predators. Tropicbird chicks are often eaten by feral cats that roam the island’s cliffs. Over the years, the Saba Conservation Foundation has set up cat eradication programs with mixed success.
After banding the bird, Mielke handed me a warm egg she’d pulled from the nest. I held it in my palm as she filled a plastic bin with water. An egg’s buoyancy indicates how far along it is. We knew, though, that once the chick hatched, it probably wouldn’t live long. In past years, researchers have observed the disappearance of every chick at Tent Bay, presumably snatched by the feral cats.
Chicks have much better odds on the other side of the island. In 2011 and 2012, Boeken — involved in several conservation efforts on Saba — found that 62 of 83 hatchlings, or 75 percent, at Old Booby Hill near Spring Bay to the north survived to fledge the nest. And on Statia, which has no cat problem, as many as 90 percent of chicks survive after they’ve hatched. Though, for reasons still unknown, their colonies produce much fewer chicks because many eggs simply never hatch.
Tropicbirds are faithful to both their mate and nest site, sometimes even returning to the same rock cavity each year, says ecologist Hannah Madden of the Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute, who moved from the Netherlands to Statia in 2006 and has spearheaded Statia and Saba’s tropicbird research. But the birds may be loyal to a fault. If a nest is repeatedly robbed or eggs fail to hatch, the chances of successfully raising chicks may be increased by relocating or finding a new mate.
Madden and Mielke, working as an independent researcher, are now analyzing GPS data of the subspecies’s foraging patterns. The last Caribbean-wide assessment of seabirds happened over two decades ago, so Madden has been hosting webinars to teach people on other islands how to collect such data during next year’s nesting season.
“In 2023, we want people from as many islands as possible in the Caribbean to get out there and monitor the seabirds on their islands,” she says.
Peter Johnson, an 11th-generation Saba resident, teaches math and physics at the secondary school. Sometimes after class he sits outside the school and listens to the red-billed tropicbirds flying overhead.
“Their birdcall is so unique,” he says. “They’re certainly something that reminds me of home.”
Johnson was a kid when Sea & Learn started in 2003. He still remembers when, in the fifth grade, scientists came to his classroom and let him try on a spelunking helmet used for cave exploration. Years later, he returned to Saba after earning degrees in engineering in Virginia. “You’re more inclined to be proud of where you’re from, the more you know about it,” he says.
Esposito, of the Islands 2030 initiative, recalls being impressed by the fluency of Saban youth when talking about nature. Sea & Learn scientists visit Saba’s schools to teach about the island’s unique species. When Esposito asks students if they’ve seen the island’s local snake — its only snake, the red-bellied racer — they usually say yes. She doesn’t get the same answer on Statia or neighboring islands.
“I have seen the direct effect of Sea & Learn,” she says. “There is this connection between the people coming to do research and the local population and communities that doesn’t exist in most other places.”
Sea & Learn coordinator Emily Malsack hopes the program encourages locals to stay on Saba to work in conservation. It’s already having an impact. Johnson is now the president of the Saba Conservation Foundation. Saban native Dahlia Hassell-Knijff got a degree in biology in Mississippi, then returned to the island, where she oversees projects at the regional Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance. She also grew up attending Sea & Learn.
“It was a very tiny organization [at the time], but it didn’t seem tiny to me,” Hassell-Knijff says. “It was like a dream come true for a little kid.”
Hassell-Knijff’s story is “an indication of progress that’s to come,” Esposito says. Islands 2030 plans to recruit early-career scientists from five archipelagoes to attend the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, where they can work toward an advanced degree and become part of a network of scientists from their archipelago. The hope is that this next generation will return to their home islands to become leaders in biodiversity science and conservation.
There’s a need for this support. Many researchers who study island biology travel from abroad, spend some time and leave, causing research to sputter and disrupting long-term studies that are crucial to understanding population trends of, say, orchids and tropicbirds. Mielke recently ended her six months on Saba to return to Germany, and after 16 years on Statia, Madden moved back to the Netherlands this summer.
“It’s just tough,” Madden says. “At this point, I don’t know who will take over the projects that I’m working on.” Bechtold, too, worries about who will track the orchids after he and Boeken retire from research and can no longer travel to Saba.
Saving the urchins
The night that marine ecologist Alwin Hylkema presented his research about Diadema, the plaza was packed with over 100 adults and children. Hylkema has become something of a local celebrity. At first, he conducted his urchin research from the Netherlands, visiting Saba twice a year, until he realized it made more sense to do his studies on site. He moved his family to Saba in 2019.
Since then, Hylkema has worked on restoring Diadema to the reefs around Saba. But it’s a challenge: After urchin larvae settle onto a reef, they are easily eaten by queen triggerfish and spiny lobsters. To help more of the animals survive to adulthood, Hylkema’s team has been collecting the youngsters, known as settlers, and growing them in a lab on Saba. Once the animals are a few centimeters wide and less likely to become a meal, the team returns them to the reefs.
In October 2021, things were starting to look up for the animals. That same week, Hylkema’s team bred Diadema in captivity for the first time in Caribbean history.
The lab-grown urchin success came just in time. Hylkema anticipates producing 1,000 to 2,000 juveniles by the end of this year, which he hopes to use for restocking the devastated population at Diadema City. But that will have to wait until whatever is causing the die-off dissipates. Researchers at Cornell University are analyzing Diadema tissue sent by Hylkema and others to try to determine the cause, likely a pathogen.
One afternoon, I hitchhiked south from the town of Windwardside in the middle of the island to the harbor in Fort Bay, where Hylkema’s lab is located. I wanted to see the captive-bred Diadema. The crates in the lab were organized by urchin size: The youngest ones looked like inch-long pom-poms; older urchins resembled plums covered in long, black sewing needles.
In an air-conditioned storage container out back, specks of urchin larvae swirled in glass jars on a vibrating metal plate. After 50 or so days, the larvae will settle and eventually be transferred to the crates. If all goes well, the animals will grow in the lab until they’re big enough to be taken out to the reefs, where they’ll begin the next generation of Diadema.
Questions or comments on this article? E-mail us at email@example.com
HURRICANE FIONA PUMMELS CARIBBEAN
SEPTEMBER 26, 2022
On September 18, 2022, Hurricane Fiona blew through Puerto Rico and nearby islands with wind gusts topping 160 kilometers per hour (100 mph) and up to 75 centimeters (29 in.) of rain. The storm destroyed roads and bridges and left thousands of people without power. The damage to infrastructure is making it difficult for authorities to provide food, water, and medicine to those impacted by the storm.
Effect on Our Brothers and Sisters
Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos
None of our brothers or sisters were killed
4 publishers suffered minor injuries
75 publishers were displaced
140 homes sustained minor damage
18 homes sustained major damage
1 home was destroyed
None of our brothers or sisters were killed
58 publishers were displaced
57 homes sustained minor damage
26 homes sustained major damage
2 homes were destroyed
2 Kingdom Halls sustained minor damage
2 Kingdom Halls sustained major damage
Guadeloupe and Martinique
None of our brothers or sisters were killed
16 publishers were displaced
43 homes sustained minor damage
2 homes sustained major damage
13 Kingdom Halls sustained minor damage
Circuit overseers and local elders are shepherding affected families and providing practical assistance
Arrangements are underway to provide humanitarian aid to the affected families and repair homes
All relief efforts are in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines
We know that our brothers and sisters affected by this storm will find comfort in the acts of love that are abundant in our brotherhood.—Acts 11:29.
CANADA STRUGGLES TO RESTORE POWER AFTER STORM; BODY FOUND
By ROB GILLIES
September 24th, 2022
TORONTO (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada remained without power Sunday and officials said they found the body of a woman swept into the sea after former Hurricane Fiona washed away houses, stripped off roofs and blocked roads across the country’s Atlantic provinces.
After surging north from the Caribbean, Fiona came ashore before dawn Saturday as a post-tropical cyclone, battering Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Quebec with hurricane-strength winds, rains and waves.
Defense Minister Anita Anand said troops would help remove fallen trees, restore transportation links and do whatever else is required for as long as it takes.
Fiona was blamed for at least five deaths in the Caribbean, and one death in Canada. Authorities found the body of a 73-year-old woman in the water who was missing in Channel-Port Aux Basques, a town on the southern coast of Newfoundland.
Police said the woman was inside her residence moments before a wave struck the home Saturday morning, tearing away a portion of the basement. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a release on social media that with assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard, as other rescue teams her body woman was recovered late Sunday afternoon.
“Living in coastal communities we know what can happen and tragically the sea has taken another from us,” said Gudie Hutchings, the Member of Parliament from Newfoundland.
As of Sunday evening, more than 211,000 Nova Scotia Power customers and over 81,000 Maritime Electric customers in the province of Prince Edward Island — about 95% of the total — remained in the dark. So were more than 20,600 homes and businesses in New Brunswick.
More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers — about 80% in the province of almost 1 million people — had been affected by outages Saturday.
Utility companies say it could be days before the lights are back on for everyone.
Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Amanda McDougall said Sunday that over 200 people were in temporary shelters. Over 70 roads were completely inaccessible in her region. She said she couldn’t count the number of homes damaged in her own neighborhood.
She said it was critical for the military to arrive and help clear debris, noting that the road to the airport is inaccessible and the tower has significant damage.
McDougall said it is amazing there are no injuries in her community.
“People listened to the warnings and did what they were supposed to do and this was the result,” she said
Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said that over 100 military personnel would arrive Sunday to assist in recovery efforts. Schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday. He said many bridges are destroyed.
“The magnitude and severity of the damage is beyond anything that we’ve seen in our province’s history,” King said, and that it would take a “herculean effort by thousands of people” to recover over the coming days and weeks.
Kim Griffin, a spokeswoman for Prince Edward Island’s electricity provider, said it would likely take “many days” to restore power across the island.
“The sense on the street is one of shock and awe over the magnitude of the storm,” said Sean Casey, a member of parliament who represents Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island. He added that locals are also determined to mount a recovery effort. A long line quickly formed after the first gas station opened in his community on Sunday afternoon.
“Everywhere you go around town you hear generators and chain saws,” Casey said.
Bill Blair, minister of emergency preparedness, said the federal government would also send approximately 100 military personnel to Newfoundland and Labrador as it shifts to recover from the storm.
Entire structures were washed into the sea as raging surf pounded Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland.
“This is not a one-day situation where we can all go back to normal,” Mayor Brian Button said on social media. Unfortunately, this is going to take days, it could take weeks, it could take months in some cases.”
Much of the town of 4,000 had been evacuated and Button said asked for patience as officials identify where and when people can safely go home. He noted that some residents are showing up at barricades angry and wanting to return.
In Puerto Rico, too, officials were still struggling to grasp the scope of damage and to repair the devastation caused when Fiona hit the U.S. territory a week ago.
As of Sunday, about 45% of Puerto Rico’s 1.47 million power customers remained in the dark, and 20% of 1.3 million water customers had no service as workers struggled to reach submerged power substations and fix downed lines.
Gas stations, grocery stores and other businesses had temporarily shut down due to lack of fuel for generators: The National Guard first dispatched fuel to hospitals and other critical infrastructure.
“We’re starting from scratch,” said Carmen Rivera as she and her wife mopped up water and threw away their damaged appliances, adding to piles of rotting furniture and soggy mattresses lining their street in Toa Baja, which had flooded.
Officials across Eastern Canada also were assessing the scope of damage caused by the storm, which had moved inland over southeastern Quebec.
Mike Savage, mayor of Halifax, said the roof of an apartment building collapsed in Nova Scotia’s biggest city and officials had moved 100 people to an evacuation center. He said no one was seriously hurt.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre tweeted that Fiona had the lowest pressure — a key sign of storm strength — ever recorded for a storm making landfall in Canada.
“We’re getting more severe storms more frequently,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said more resilient infrastructure is needed to withstand extreme weather events.
Associated Press writers Dánica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, contributed to this report.
TROPICAL STORM IAN STRENGTHENS, STORM WATCH ISSUED FOR FLORIDA KEYS
By Andrew Freedman
September 25th, 2022
Tropical Storm Ian was strengthening Sunday night, and it is forecast to intensify more rapidly Monday and Tuesday — possibly into a high-end Category 4 storm.
The big picture: Ian could hit western Florida or another part of the Gulf Coast as a powerful hurricane as early as midweek this week.
State of play: Tropical Storm Ian was some 430 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba at 8pm ET, and its maximum sustained winds had strengthened to 60 mph, up from 45 mph Sunday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was moving to the northwest at 12 mph.
President Biden declared a federal state of emergency for multiple Florida counties on Saturday night, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for the entire state.
A tropical storm watch has been issued for the lower Florida Keys.
The National Hurricane Center forecast two to four inches of rainfall from the Florida Keys into the southern and central Florida Peninsula from Monday through Wednesday morning.
What to watch: In its 8pm update, the National Hurricane Center said Ian was expected to become a hurricane Monday and a "major hurricane" on Tuesday before hitting western Cuba.
Threat level: Studies show an increase in the occurrence of rapid intensification due to human-caused climate change.
The western Caribbean Sea is a powder keg for hurricanes right now, with high ocean heat content and weak upper-level winds.
What they're saying: Even if the west coast of Florida doesn't sustain a direct hit from Ian, "it doesn't take an onshore or direct hit from a hurricane to pile up the water," acting NHC director Jamie Rhome said in a Sunday briefing.
He urged Florida residents to find out if they're in a likely evacuation zone at FloridaDisaster.org in case evacuations are ordered.
What's next: The key questions facing forecasters, public officials and tens of millions of residents along the Gulf Coast are where the storm will head once it becomes a hurricane, and how strong it will be once it gets there.
The computer models have been diverging, with some showing a landfall in northwestern Florida or perhaps southeastern Alabama. Others show a hit much farther east, closer to Tampa.
Forecast trends since Friday have nudged the most likely track of the center of Ian to the west, closer to the Panhandle region of Florida.
While the likelihood of significant impacts in South Florida has decreased, it has not entirely disappeared, and the Hurricane Center is urging all Floridians to prepare for storm impacts.
Context: Human-caused climate change is altering the characteristics of nature's most powerful storms.
For example, sea level rise from melting ice sheets makes a hurricane's storm surge more harmful.
This story has been updated with the storm's strengthening and the latest estimates of when the storm is expected to become a hurricane.
FACEBOOK VIOLATED RIGHTS OF PALESTINIAN USERS, REPORT FINDS
By BARBARA ORTUTAY
September 22, 2022
Actions by Facebook and its parent Meta during last year's Gaza war violated the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation and non-discrimination, a report commissioned by the social media company has found. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa, File)
Actions by Facebook and its parent Meta during last year’s Gaza war violated the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation and non-discrimination, a report commissioned by the social media company has found.
The report Thursday from independent consulting firm Business for Social Responsibility confirmed long-standing criticisms of Meta’s policies and their uneven enforcement as it relates to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: It found the company over-enforced rules when it came to Arabic content and under-enforced content in Hebrew.
It, however, did not find intentional bias at Meta, either by the company as a whole or among individual employees. The report’s authors said they found “no evidence of racial, ethnic, nationality or religious animus in governing teams” and noted Meta has “employees representing different viewpoints, nationalities, races, ethnicities, and religions relevant to this conflict.”
Rather, it found numerous instances of unintended bias that harmed the rights of Palestinian and Arabic-speaking users.
In response, Meta said it plans to implement some of the report’s recommendations, including improving its Hebrew-language “classifiers,” which help remove violating posts automatically using artificial intelligence.
“There are no quick, overnight fixes to many of these recommendations, as BSR makes clear,” the company based in Menlo Park, California, said in a blog post Thursday. “While we have made significant changes as a result of this exercise already, this process will take time — including time to understand how some of these recommendations can best be addressed, and whether they are technically feasible.”
Meta, the report confirmed, also made serious errors in enforcement. For instance, as the Gaza war raged last May, Instagram briefly banned the hashtag #AlAqsa, a reference to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, a flash point in the conflict.
Meta, which owns Instagram, later apologized, explaining its algorithms had mistaken the third-holiest site in Islam for the militant group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed offshoot of the secular Fatah party.
The report echoed issues raised in internal documents from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen last fall, showing that the company’s problems are systemic and have long been known inside Meta.
A key failing is the lack of moderators in languages other than English, including Arabic — among the most common languages on Meta’s platforms.
For users in the Gaza, Syria and other Middle East regions marred by conflict, the issues raised in the report are nothing new.
Israeli security agencies and watchdogs, for instance, have monitored Facebook and bombarded it with thousands of orders to take down Palestinian accounts and posts as they try to crack down on incitement.
Israel experienced an intense spasm of violence in May 2021 — with weeks of tensions in east Jerusalem escalating into an 11-day war with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The violence spread into Israel itself, with the country experiencing the worst communal violence between Jewish and Arab citizens in years.
In an interview this week, Israel’s national police chief, Kobi Shabtai, told the Yediot Ahronot daily that he believed social media had fueled the communal fighting. He called for shutting down social media if similar violence occurs again and said he had suggested blocking social media to lower the flames last year.
“I’m talking about fully shutting down the networks, calming the situation on the ground, and when it’s calm reactivating them,” he was quoted as saying. “We’re a democratic country, but there’s a limit.”
The comments caused an uproar and the police issued a clarification saying that his proposal was only meant for extreme cases. Omer Barlev, the Cabinet minister who oversees police, also said that Shabtai has no authority to impose such a ban.
Associated Press reporter Josef Federman contributed from Jerusalem.
COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF TEXAS LAW ON SOCIAL MEDIA REGULATION
By PAUL J. WEBER
September 16, 2022
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal appeals court Friday ruled in favor of a Texas law targeting major social media companies like Facebook and Twitter in a victory for Republicans who accuse the platforms of censoring conservative speech.
But the decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is unlikely to be the last word in a legal battle that has stakes beyond Texas, and could impact how some of the world’s biggest tech companies regulate content by their users.
The Texas law, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott last year, has been challenged by tech trade groups that warn that it would prevent platforms from removing extremism and hate speech. A similar law was also passed in Florida and ruled unconstitutional by a separate appeal court.
The final say is likely to come from the U.S. Supreme Court, which earlier this year blocked the Texas law while the lawsuit played out
“Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,” U.S. Circuit Court Judge Andrew Oldham wrote.
NetChoice, one of the groups challenging the law, expressed disappointment in a statement that pointed out the ruling was the opposite of the decision made in the lawsuit over the Florida law.
“We remain convinced that when the U.S. Supreme Court hears one of our cases, it will uphold the First Amendment rights of websites, platforms, and apps,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s vice president and general counsel.
Republican elected officials in several states have backed laws like those enacted in Florida and Texas that sought to portray social media companies as generally liberal in outlook and hostile to ideas outside of that viewpoint, especially from the political right.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote in May that is not clear how the high court’s past First Amendment cases, many of which predate the internet age, apply to Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and other digital platforms.
The Florida law, as enacted, would give Florida’s attorney general authority to sue companies under the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. It would also allow individual residents to sue social media companies for up to $100,000 if they feel they have been treated unfairly.
The Texas law only applies to the largest social media platforms that have more than 50,000 active users.
MARTINIQUE, THE FRENCH GEM OF THE CARIBBEAN
Destination & Tourism Valentín Fuentes
September 20, 2022
Martinique, belonging to France, is located in the heart of the Caribbean. It is a privileged place with fabulous beaches, turquoise sea, sugarcane plantations, mountains, rum, and a great historical past that visitors enjoy as they walk its streets to admire the architecture of its ancient buildings as well as its vast culture.
Here we present the most emblematic places of this island where Josefina de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, was born.
Fort de France
The capital of Martinique is a splendid place to walk through cobbled streets and visit places like the Saint Louis Cathedral and the Park of La Savane where the statue of Empress Joséphine is located. The Fort de France area boasts cozy venues for visitors to enjoy the island's finest cuisine and sample the great rum produced in Martinique.
In addition, very close tourists will find the golden sandy beaches, Anses d'Arlet, which is one of the best that can be found on the island. Also, a must for tourists are the ruins of the Chateau Dubuc, one of the most popular historical places, located on the Peninsula of Caravelle.
Fort de France Great Market
Here, tourists will find a wide variety of fruits and vegetables from all over the island. For food lovers, it is a privilege to visit this market because they can find high-quality products such as vanilla, spices, peppers, and energy infusions such as the famous bois bandé, among many others. Its restaurants offer exquisite food with recipes of typical local dishes like crab, grilled fish, accra (cod), lambi (West Indian mollusk), chicken colombo, and chatrou (octopus), to name a few.
Morne Larcher Mountain
This mountain is perfect for those who like to walk along paths to exercise and breathe fresh air amid the best of nature. From the heights of Morne Larcher, the visitor enjoys a spectacular view of the emblematic Diamond Rock, Diamond Beach, and the Island of Sainte Lucie. One of the most recommended routes is Anse Marigot, Saint-Pierre, which takes just over three hours. This route is open all year round and has a guide service for visitor safety.
Anse Couleuvre Beach
It is located north of Martinique and has crystal clear water, soft sand, and the best sunsets on the island. It is a perfect place to spend the day diving or snorkeling to admire the fabulous marine fauna that this place offers. The coast is gray, covered with volcanic sand with a few rocks and an area of lush vegetation and rich natural life. From the beach, visitors can see the island of La Perle, home to numerous sea snakes and tropical fish of all kinds. Here tourists tend to picnics to enjoy the sea and sunny days.
Le Robert Bay
This area is full of interesting little islands that can be reached by kayak. Llet Chancel is highly recommended because is inhabited by thousands of endemic iguanas which can only be found on this site. For those who don't have enough physical fitness to paddle around in a kayak, there is the option of the so-called Ti Canot, which is a small boat that can be rented for sailing in the area. It is one of the most interesting historical sites in Martinique. The village of Vert-Pré has a natural harbor where several legendary pirates fought several battles important place to visit is the parish of the village, which was founded in 1694 and which, in its origin was named Cul-de-Sac.
This fabulous island is full of waterfalls that tourists can visit after walking along lush tropical paths. One of the most recommended is the Didier Waterfalls following the Trace Route. Another popular one for the local population and foreign visitors is Saut du Gendarme where people can swim and spend an extraordinary day of adventure in the jungle.
One of the most spectacular is La Coulevre Waterfall with over 130 yards in height. Since it is located very close to La Coulevre beach, visitors can enjoy the sand of this beautiful beach of Martinique. Also highly recommended is George de la Falaise Waterfall, in Ajoupa-Bouillion, which consists of a series of rock formations with water jumps in a wide jungle area full of rich biodiversity.
HURRICANE FIONA INTENSIFIES TO CATEGORY 4 AS PUERTO RICO CONTENDS WITH AFTERMATH
The U.S. territory continued to grapple with the major destruction left in Fiona's wake, with many facing sweeping power outages and water supply issues.
Sept. 21, 2022, 2:15 AM EDT / Updated Sept. 22, 2022, 1:41 AM EDT
By Chantal Da Silva
Hurricane Fiona intensified into a Category 4 storm overnight after battering the Turks and Caicos Islands and leaving major destruction in its wake in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Meanwhile, a new tropical storm, Gaston, gained strength in the Atlantic Ocean, with maximum sustained winds increasing to nearly 50 mph with higher gusts as of early Wednesday.
The National Hurricane Center warned that swells generated by Gaston could affect the Azores, an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic, later this week, causing life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
By late Wednesday, Fiona was about 550 miles southwest of Bermuda, and is expected to pass to the west of the British island territory Thursday night, according to the hurricane center.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and was moving north at 10 mph, it said.
A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning is in effect for Bermuda, which could see 2 to 4 inches of rain, the center said in an update late Wednesday.
"A storm surge will cause elevated water levels along the coast of Bermuda in areas of onshore winds beginning Thursday night," the center said. "Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves."
Multiple deaths have been reported so far in Fiona’s wake, as Puerto Rico continues to grapple with widespread devastation, including sweeping power outages and water supply issues.
A 78-year-old man was found dead and a 70-year-old woman was apparently affected by gas emitted from a generator in a home in the Las Granjas neighborhood, a fire department on the island said in statements. A dead dog was also found on scene, officials said. The home, officials said, had all of its windows and a canopy gate closed.
As of late Tuesday, more than 1.1 million customers across the U.S. territory were still without power, according to the online tracker Poweroutage.us. That’s almost a third of the population.
Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said during a news conference Tuesday that he expected a steady and gradual improvement of power restoration throughout the island.
He warned, however, that more rain had increased the likelihood for some areas to see additional flooding and landslides. On average, he said, the island had seen 10 to 16 inches of rainfall, with the hardest-hit areas seeing more than 25 inches.
Pierluisi said he had signed an executive order so residents would have access to food all over the island.
The devastating impact of the storm came as Puerto Rico marked the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, the deadliest natural disaster on U.S. territory in a century, from which the island is still recovering.
It also unfolded on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which hit Puerto Rico 33 years ago as a Category 3 storm.
As the territory now grapples with the aftermath of a new storm, some residents have expressed concerns about the response effort.
“Puerto Rico is not prepared for this, or for anything,” Mariangy Hernández, a 48-year-old homemaker, told The Associated Press.
She said she had doubts her community of some 300 would receive long-term support from the government, despite ongoing efforts to clear streets and restore power.
“This is only for a couple of days and later they forget about us," she said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been assisting with the response to Fiona after President Joe Biden declared a federal emergency for Puerto Rico on Sunday.The head of FEMA visited the territory Tuesday to survey the damage as the agency announced it would be sending hundreds more personnel to supplement response efforts.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency on the island as it dispatched teams to the territory.
Joe Studley, Antonio Planas, Nicole Duarte and The Associated Press contributed.
DARREL TOULON HOME AFTER 37 YEARS TO MAKE MUSICAL THEATRE “OH MARIA! – SONGS & STORIES OF THE SURVIVORS”
Darrel Toulon returns home after 37 years living and working in UK, Germany and Austria to create an original ‘Song Cycle’ Musical Theatre “Oh Maria! – songs and stories of the survivors”, over an intense collaborative 2-week Workshop, to be performed in Venues all across Dominica, along with other young talented Dominicans.
The Workshop will run from 5th to 18th August 2018 at Old Mill Cultural Center, during which, stories of survivors of Hurricane Maria will be converted into monologues, and then into lyrics for songs arranged for performance by the Workshop Participants themselves.
Under the Artistic Direction of Darrel Toulon, the selected Participants of the Workshop, who Toulon plans to attract from all over the Island, will be introduced to a whole new range of creative tools, by the international Leading Team of Maurizio Nobili (Musical Director, Song Writer, Composer, and Arranger) and Carole Alston (Singer, Actress, Vocal Coach, Singing Teacher).
Complementing the Faculty will be Alwin Bully, Pearle Christian, Lennox Honychurch, Dorothy Leevy, Ophelia Marie, and Anthony Toulon who have been invited to give Key-Talks, providing invaluable intergenerational local input.
Darrel Toulon stated: “This provides me with a chance to give something back to Dominica after 37 years of living and working abroad. Leading and creating similar projects internationally with people from other countries and using their traumatic experiences to communicate with a contemporary European Audience, it matters now to initiate this project back home.”
I have been teaching and developing this kind of Workshop-to-Performance, very interdisciplinary, and collaborative process orientated worker the past years here in Austria/Germany/Switzerland at Universities, Think-Tanks. It's been done with Professionals, Students, Researchers, and also local Community Folks. Time to bring this home, and empower a younger generation to dig deep into themselves and pull their personal Art out.
TOULON TO PRESENT "OH MARIA! – SONGS AND STORIES OF THE SURVIVORS
July 24, 2018
Dominican-born Darrel Toulon returns to his native country after 37 years of living and working in UK, Germany and Austria to create a piece of Musical Theatre together with young talented fellow-Dominicans.
"Oh Maria! – songs and stories of the survivors" is going to be an original Song Cycle to be created over an intense collaborative two-week workshop, to be performed in venues all across Dominica.
During the workshop, which will run from 5th until 18th August 2018 at Old Mill Cultural Centre, stories of survivors of Hurricane Maria will be converted into monologues, and then into lyrics for songs arranged for performance by the workshop participants themselves.
Under the artistic direction of Darrel Toulon, the selected participants of the workshop, who Toulon plans to attract from all over the Island, will be introduced to a whole new range of creative tools, by the international leading team of Maurizio Nobili (musical director, song writer, composer, and arranger) and Carole Alston (singer, actress, vocal coach, singing teacher). Complementing the faculty will be Alwin Bully, Pearle Christian, Lennox Honychurch, Dorothy Leevy, Ophelia Marie, and Anthony Toulon who have been invited to give key-talks, providing invaluable intergenerational local input.
Darrel Toulon stated: "This provides me with a chance to give something back to Dominica after 37 years of living and working abroad. Leading and creating similar projects internationally with people from other countries and using their traumatic experiences to communicate with a contemporary European Audience, it matters now to initiate this project back home."
The project, was well-received at its first presented to the Dominica High Commission in London. Janet Charles, Acting High Commissioner stated: "Following the astounding success of the Gala event in Austria last year, the Dominica High Commission in the United Kingdom is very pleased to endorse Darrel Toulon and his team for the upcoming project in Dominica."
This is an excellent education opportunity for the participants, to work with experienced and highly skilled professionals of international repute, where they will be given guidance and coaching, be introduced to ideas concerning storytelling, song-writing, arrangement, interpretation, and performance, for creative purposes of transforming the stories of trauma and resilience.
The final performance will be kept deceptively simple, almost like a live-radio-play, in that the emphasis will be on the voice, and the stories will unfold through song, spoken-word and a sound-scape all created in the two-week workshop.
Alwin Bully, one of the first to be approached to be part of the academy stated: "The Arts can be incredible supporters and healers of the traumatized after disasters. It would be truly interesting and amazing to see what can be achieved when a group of talented individuals come together around a specific theme."
Carla Armour of Vetivert Inc. expressed her excitement in working with "Oh Maria!":
"As a company specializing in producing and promoting Heritage Events and Creative Tourism it is very exciting to work with Darrel and the alpha group's project and to realize "Oh Maria!". It is a perfect extension of our current activities geared at finding new and innovative approaches to rebuild and renew ourselves post Hurricane Maria. Numerous studies show the importance of creative expression and innovative implementation of traditional practices in building psychological resilience. We are confident that this ambitious project will provide an ideal seedbed to help accomplish this."
Gisele Astaphan, as sponsor for "Oh Maria!" stated: I support this venture because it is free and accessible for all. The only way we can advance as a nation is to create a society which develops the human mind and its creativity to maximize the potential."
Discover Dominica Authority has endorsed 'Oh Maria' as new or improved skills learned during the workshop will be an enhancement to Dominica's cultural tourism offering as they can be incorporated into existing tours or used to create new tour options.
"Oh Maria!" is a production of the Alpha Group (Austria), and is presented in Dominica by the Dominica Institute of the Arts, Division of Culture.
Sponsored by J. Astaphan & Co, Josephine Gabriel & Co, Valley Engineering, and Harmony Villa.
Other interested members of the Private and Public Sector are being invited to join as sponsors in this inaugural project of the Summer Artistic Academy.
TOULON RAISES EC$99,000 FOR THE PRINCESS MARGARET HOSPITAL
March 31, 2018
The sum of EC$99,127.81 (€ 31.067,73 EURO) has reached its intended destination at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Dominica. The money raised at the Darrel Toulon & Friends Benefit Gala held in Graz on 12th December 2017, is to be used for the purchase of equipment for refurbishing the Blood Bank of Dominica's main hospital which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Dominican-born Darrel Toulon brought together a group of over 40 international artistes who all performed without remuneration at the Grazer Orpheum on Tuesday 12th December 2017. The programme consisted of song, dance and music interspersed with voice-files and video-clips of images and sounds recorded before, during and after the onslaught of the Category 5 Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on September 18th 2017.
"On behalf of the government of Dominica, the Ministry of Health, the management team of the Princess Margaret Hospital, together with the staff and patients; I do hereby extend our deepest appreciation for the hard work and team effort that was expended by Darrel Toulon and Friends", wrote Clayton Bryan, Hospital Services Coordinator, who promised that the funds will be specifically used for the procurement of equipment for the Blood Bank.
The Benefit Gala, under the honorary patronage of Dr. Bettina Vollath, Parliamentary President of Styria, was endorsed by the Dominica High Commission in London, who provided access to the several film clips and sound files used in the montage sequences. The Acting High Commissioner Ms. Janet Charles has expressed her "thanks for the support given to Darrel Toulon and Friends by the community of Graz to raise this sum of money which is much needed by the Hospital."
Special Guest was fellow-Dominican Sade Bully, herself an internationally recognized dancer currently based in New York, former soloist with Garth Fagan Company. Sade Bully was invited by Darrel Toulon to join the cast of artistes coming from as far as India, Cuba, China, and Brazil.
"It was truly an indescribable feeling to go to Austria for the very first time to be part of an event alongside so many incredible artistes, all performing together for Dominica," Bully said.
Sade Bully performed her dance-solo with a singer (Austrian musical star Elisabeth Sikora), String Quartet and Combo, led by Italian Musical Director Maurizio Nobili.
"This event truly spoke to the power of Art to unite us and make tangible change," Sade Bully continued.
"Thanks to the commitment of several trusted Friends, this Event was possible", said Darrel Toulon.
Toulon left Dominica in 1981, and has been active in theater production since moving to Germany in 1987. Engagements as dancer, choreographer, teacher, and director have lead him to (among other places) Caracas, Madrid, Rome, Pristina and St. Petersburg.
Between 2001 and 2015 Darrel Toulon was Ballet Director of the Opera House in Graz, during which time he forged ties with several of the artistes who answered his call to perform at the Benefit Gala for Dominica.
"The feeling of helplessness I experienced in the wake of Maria's destruction was gone, as together we sang onstage "Starting all over again is gonna be rough on us, but we're gonna make it! to raise well needed funds for rebuilding the island".
Ticket sales, sponsoring, donations, and contributions in cash, resulted in 31.067,73 EURO deposited in a special donations account set up an administered by the Afro-Asian Institute of Graz, who transferred the entire sum of 31.067,73 EURO to the account of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, at the National Bank Dominica.
HURRICANE DAVID IS BORN
August 25th, 1979
On August 25, 1979, the storm that will become Hurricane David forms near Cape Verde off the African coast in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. It would go on to devastate the island of Dominica, and then the Dominican Republic, killing 1,500 people.
On August 27, two days after forming, the storm reached hurricane status and headed straight for the Caribbean Sea. The small island of Dominica and its capital city, Roseau, took an extremely hard hit on August 29. Winds with speeds of up to 150 miles per hour devastated the island. Thirty-seven people died and 60,000 lost their homes, nearly 75 percent of the entire population. The banana and citrus crops, essential to the island’s economy, were wiped out. It was the worst storm to hit the island to that time.
At 1:30 a.m. the next day, the hurricane turned on Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic. Now a Category 5 storm, it pummeled the island with 175 mph winds (and gusts over 200 mph) and waves as high as 20 to 30 feet. Mudslides caused by the storm proved to be particularly deadly in the Dominican Republic, where they killed nearly 1,200 people. The worst incident was in Padre Las Casas, where more than 400 people tied themselves together as they attempted to climb to higher ground, but were washed away when a dike broke, releasing a flood of water in their direction.
On September 1, David hit the Bahamas and, two days later, caused $60 million in damages in Florida. From there, the hurricane skipped up the coastline of the United States. Charleston, South Carolina, took a heavy hit and the storm caused flooding from Virginia to New York. Trees and power lines came down in many states. Hurricane David finally dissipated on September 7.
TROPICAL STORM ERIKA - AUG 2015
Erika, the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, formed on 24 August, 2015. On 27 Aug at 2.00pm Tropical Storm warnings remained in effect for the following countries: Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and St. Kitts and Nevis. Tropical Storm watches have been issued for the Southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Preliminary reports indicate that there has been significant rainfall in Dominica that has resulted in flooding and landslides. There are reports of casualties and damage to infrastructure: 25-30 persons presumed missing in the north-eastern and south-eastern areas of Dominica. (CDEMA, 27 Aug 2015)
The island of Dominica sustained significant damage due to the passage of Tropical Storm Erika on 28 August. A band of torrential rain caused by the system resulted in the 6 to 8 inches of rainfall in less than twelve hours and triggered massive flooding and several landslides. (IFRC, 4 Sep 2015)
Fourteen people were reported dead, 16 missing, 574 rendered homeless and 1,034 people evacuated due to the unsafe conditions in their communities. As of 25 September 2015, damage and losses were estimated at EC$1.3 billion (US$483 million) or 90 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)...The communities of Petite Savanne and Dubique were hardest hit with all residents being evacuated to guest houses and community centres. The government is in the process of building new homes for the 39 families in Dubique, with the expectation that the relocation will take place by April 2016. The residents of Petite Savanne will be resettled to Bellevue Chopin, but no timeframe has been set for the completion of the building.
16–30 SEPTEMBER 2017
Maria originated from a well-defined tropical wave that departed the west coast of Africa on 12 September. The system moved westward over the tropical Atlantic for the next few dayswhile producing scattered and disorganized deep convection. By 15 September, showers and thunderstorms increased and began to show signs of organization, with some curved cloud bands developing. Deep convection then quickly became more consolidated and better organized, and it is estimated that a tropical depression formed about 580 n mi east of Barbados by 1200 UTC 16 September. The “best track” chart of the tropical cyclone’s path is given in Fig. 1, with the wind and pressure histories shown in Figs. 2 and 3, respectively. The best track positions and intensities are listed in Table 12. Moving westward to the south of a mid-level high pressure area, the cyclone strengthened into a tropical storm around 1800 UTC on 16 September. Maria turned toward the west-northwestshortly thereafter, and quickly intensified into a hurricane by 1800 UTC on 17 September. While situated in an environment of warm sea surface temperatures and light vertical shear, the hurricane strengthened extremely rapidly. Maria became a 100-kt major hurricane by 1200 UTC 18 September, and just 12 h later, as it neared Dominica, it became a category 5 hurricane with maximum winds of 145 kt. The hurricane made landfall on the island with that intensity and an estimated minimum central pressure of 922 mb around 0115 UTC 19 September. After striking Dominica, Maria continued moving west-northwestward and entered the northeastern Caribbean Sea. Slight weakening had occurred due to the system’s interaction with the mountainous island of Dominica, but the hurricane soon regained intensity and strengthened to its peak intensity of 150 kt with a minimum pressure of 908 mb around 0300 UTC 20 September while centered about 25 n mi south of St. Croix. Maria moved west-northwestward to northwestward toward Puerto Rico and, after reaching maximum intensity, underwent an eyewall replacement with an outer eyewall becoming more dominant by the time the center of the systemreached Puerto Rico (Figures 4a and 4b). The hurricane weakened somewhat before its landfallon that island due to the eyewall replacement, but also grew in size. Maria’s center crossed the southeast coast of Puerto Rico near Yabucoa around 1015 UTC 20 September, and the hurricane’s maximum winds at that time were near 135 kt, i.e., just below the threshold of category 5 intensity. The hurricane’s center crossed the island, roughly diagonally from southeast to northwest, for several hours and emerged into the Atlantic around 1800 UTC 20 September. By that time, Maria had weakened after interacting with the land mass of Puerto Rico and its maximum winds were estimated to be 95 kt.
Over the next couple of days, the hurricane moved northwestward along the southwestern periphery of a mid-level high over the western Atlantic while gradually restrengthening. Although Maria never regained all of its former intensity, its maximum winds increased to near 110 kt by 0000 UTC 22 September while the hurricane was centered about 60 n mi southeast of Grand Turk Island. Maria turned toward the north-northwest, and its center passed 30 to 40 n mi east and northeast of the Turks and Caicos Islands on 22 September. Moderate southwesterly vertical shear prevented any additional strengthening during that period. The system maintained major hurricane status until 0600 UTC 24 September, while turning toward the north. Maria continued to gradually weaken, and it lost its eyewall structure by 25 September while continuing northward at a slow forward speed well offshore of the southeastern U.S. coast. The cyclone then weakened to category 1 status, and by 0600 UTC 27 September the center of the 65-kt hurricane passedabout 130 n mi east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. On 28 September, Maria turned sharply toward the east and began to accelerate as it weakened to a tropical storm. Moving rapidly eastward to east-northeastward, the system became an extratropical cyclone by 1800 UTC 30 September while centered about 465 n mi southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland. The cyclone moved east-northeastward until dissipation over the north Atlantic about 400 n mi southwest of Ireland by 1800 UTC 2 October.
Hurricane Maria was a deadly Category 5 hurricane that devastated the northeastern Caribbean in September 2017, particularly Dominica, Saint Croix, and Puerto Rico. It is regarded as the worst natural disaster in recorded history to affect those islands. The most intense tropical cyclone worldwide in 2017, Maria was the thirteenth named storm, eighth consecutive hurricane, fourth major hurricane, second Category 5 hurricane, and deadliest storm of the extremely active 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. Maria was the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Mitch in 1998, and the tenth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record. Total monetary losses are estimated at upwards of $91.61 billion (2017 USD), mostly in Puerto Rico, ranking it as the third-costliest tropical cyclone on record.
Maria became a tropical storm on September 16 east of the Lesser Antilles and rapidly intensified to Category 5 strength just before making landfall on Dominica on September 18. After crossing the island, Maria achieved its peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph (280 km/h) and a pressure of 908 mbar (hPa; 26.81 inHg). On September 20, an eyewall replacement cycle weakened Maria to a high-end Category 4 hurricane by the time it struck Puerto Rico. Passing north of the Bahamas, Maria gradually degraded and weakened, swinging eastward over the open Atlantic and dissipating by October 2.
Maria brought catastrophic devastation to the entirety of Dominica, destroying housing stock and infrastructure beyond repair, and practically eradicating the island's lush vegetation. The neighboring islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique endured widespread flooding, damaged roofs, and uprooted trees. Puerto Rico suffered catastrophic damage and a major humanitarian crisis; most of the island's population suffered from flooding and a lack of resources, compounded by a slow relief process. The storm caused the worst electrical blackout in US history, which persisted for several months. Maria also landed in the northeast Caribbean during relief efforts from another Category 5 hurricane, Irma, which crossed the region two weeks prior.
The total death toll is 3,059: an estimated 2,975 in Puerto Rico, 65 in Dominica, 5 in the Dominican Republic, 4 in Guadeloupe, 4 in the contiguous United States, 3 in the United States Virgin Islands, and 3 in Haiti. Maria was the deadliest hurricane in Dominica since the 1834 Padre Ruíz hurricane and the deadliest in Puerto Rico since the 1899 San Ciriaco hurricane. This makes it the deadliest named Atlantic hurricane of the 21st century to date.
Maria originated from a tropical wave that left the western coast of Africa on September 12. Gradual organization occurred as it progressed westward across the tropical Atlantic under the influence of a mid-level ridge that was located to the system's north, and by 12:00 UTC on September 16, it had developed into Tropical Depression Fifteen, as deep convection consolidated and developed into curved bands wrapping into an increasingly-defined center of circulation. At that time, it was located about 665 mi (1,070 km) east of Barbados. Favorable conditions along the system's path consisting of warm sea surface temperatures of 84 °F (29 °C), low wind shear, and abundant moisture aloft allowed the disturbance to consolidate and become Tropical Storm Maria 6 hours later, after satellite images had indicated that the low-level circulation of the wave had become well-defined
Maria gradually strengthened, and by late on September 17, although the center had temporarily become exposed, a convective burst over the center enabled it to become a hurricane. Shortly afterward, explosive intensification occurred, with Maria nearly doubling its winds from 85 mph (140 km/h)—a Category 1 hurricane, to 165 mph (270 km/h)—a Category 5 hurricane, in just 24 hours, by which time it was located just 15 mi (25 km) east-southeast of Dominica late on September 18; the rate of intensification that occurred has been exceeded only a few times in the Atlantic since records began. Maria made landfall in Dominica at 01:15 UTC on September 19, becoming the first Category 5 hurricane on record to strike the island nation.
Entering the Caribbean Sea, Maria weakened slightly to a Category 4 hurricane due to land interaction with the island of Dominica, however it quickly restrengthened to a Category 5 hurricane and attained its peak intensity with winds of 175 mph (280 km/h) and a pressure of 908 mbar (hPa; 26.81 inHg) at 03:00 UTC on September 20 while southeast of Puerto Rico; this ranks it as the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane since reliable records began. An eyewall replacement cycle caused Maria weaken to Category 4 strength before it made landfall near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico at 10:15 UTC (6:15am local time) that day with winds of 155 mph (250 km/h)—the most intense to strike on the island since the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane. Maria weakened significantly while traversing Puerto Rico, but was able to restrengthen to a major hurricane once it emerged over the Atlantic later that afternoon, eventually attaining a secondary peak intensity with winds of 125 mph (205 km/h) on September 22, while north of Hispaniola.
Maria then began fluctuating in intensity for the next few days as the eye periodically appeared and disappeared, while slowly nearing the East Coast of the United States, although southwesterly wind shear gradually weakened the hurricane. By September 25, it passed over cooler sea surface temperatures that had been left behind by Hurricane Jose a week prior, causing its inner core to collapse and the structure of the storm to change significantly. On September 28, a trough that was beginning to emerge off the Northeastern United States swung Maria eastward out to sea, while also weakening to a tropical storm. Periodic bursts of convection near the center managed to maintain Maria's intensity as it accelerated east-northeast across the northern Atlantic Ocean, but interaction with an encroaching frontal zone ultimately resulted in the storm becoming an extratropical cyclone on September 30, which continued east-northeastward, before dissipating on October 2.
Upon the initiation of the National Hurricane Center (NHC)'s first advisories for the system that would become Tropical Storm Maria on the morning of September 16, the government of France issued tropical storm watches for the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, while St. Lucia issued a tropical storm watch for its citizens, and the government of Barbados issued a similar watch for Dominica. Barbados would later that day declare a tropical storm watch for its citizens and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The government of Antigua and Barbuda issued Hurricane watches for the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat by the time of the NHC's second advisory which declared Maria a tropical storm. The Dominican Republic activated the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters for humanitarian satellite coverage on the 20th.
Prior to both Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), already struggling with increasing debt, had seen budget cuts imposed by PROMESA as well as the loss of 30 percent of its work force since 2012. With the median age of PREPA power plants at 44 years, an aging infrastructure across the island made the electric grid more susceptible to damage from storms. Inadequate safety mechanisms also plagued Puerto Rico's electric company, and local newspapers frequently reported on its poor maintenance and outdated control systems.
According to the non-profit environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council, the island's water system was already in substandard conditions prior to hurricanes Irma and Maria. The NRDC reported that seventy percent of the island had water that did not meet the standards of the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act.
Still recovering from Hurricane Irma two weeks prior, approximately 80,000 remained without power as Maria approached. FEMA's Caribbean Distribution Center warehouse, its only emergency stockpile in the islands, is located on Puerto Rico. By September 15, 2017, 83% of the items there, including 90% of the water and all of the tarps and cots, had been deployed for post-Irma relief, mostly to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Maria arrived before supplies were replenished.
Evacuation orders were issued in Puerto Rico in advance of Maria, and officials announced that 450 shelters would open in the afternoon of September 18. By September 19, 2017, at least 2,000 people in Puerto Rico had sought shelter. Using anonymous aggregate cell phone tracking data provided by Google from users that opted to share location data, researchers reported that travel from Puerto Rico increased 20% the day before the hurricane made landfall. Puerto Rican travelers often chose to go to Orlando, Miami, New York City, and Atlanta. Internally, there was an influx of people into San Juan.
As Maria approached the coast of North Carolina and threatened to bring tropical storm conditions, a storm surge warning was issued for the coast between Ocracoke Inlet and Cape Hatteras, while a storm surge watch was issued for the Pamlico Sound, the lower Neuse River, and the Alligator River on the morning of September 26. A state of emergency was declared by officials in Dare and Hyde counties, while visitors were ordered to evacuate Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Ferry service between Ocracoke and Cedar Island was suspended the evening of September 25, and remained suspended on September 26 and 27, due to rough seas, while ferry service between Ocracoke and Hatteras Island was suspended on September 26 and 27. The port in Morehead City was closed by the United States Coast Guard on the morning of September 26. Schools in Dare County closed on September 26 and 27, while schools in Carteret and Tyrrell counties, along with Ocracoke Island, dismissed early on September 26, in anticipation of high winds. Schools in Currituck County were closed on September 27, due to high winds.
The outer rainbands of Maria produced heavy rainfall and strong gusts across the southern Windward Islands. The Hewanorra and George F. L. Charles airports of Saint Lucia respectively recorded 4.33 in (110 mm) and 3.1 in (80 mm) of rain, though even higher quantities fell elsewhere on the island. Scattered rock slides, landslides and uprooted trees caused minor damage and blocked some roads. Several districts experienced localized blackouts due to downed or damaged power lines. The agricultural sector, especially the banana industry, suffered losses from the winds.
Heavy rainfall amounting to 3–5 in (75–125 mm) caused scattered flooding across Barbados; in Christ Church, the flood waters trapped residents from the neighborhood of Goodland in their homes and inundated the business streets of Saint Lawrence Gap. Maria stirred up rough seas that flooded coastal sidewalks in Bridgetown and damaged boats as operators had difficulties securing their vessels. High winds triggered an island-wide power outage and downed a coconut tree onto a residence in Saint Joseph.
Passing 30 mi (50 km) off the northern shorelines, Maria brought torrential rainfall and strong gusts to Martinique but spared the island of its hurricane-force windfield, which at the time extended 25 mi (35 km) around the eye. The commune of Le Marigot recorded 6.7 inches (170 mm) of rain over a 24-hour period. By September 19, Maria had knocked out power to 70,000 households, about 40% of the population. Water service was cut to 50,000 customers, especially in the communes of Le Morne-Rouge and Gros-Morne. Numerous roads and streets, especially along the northern coast, were impassible due to rock slides, fallen trees and toppled power poles. Streets in Fort-de-France were inundated. In the seaside commune of Le Carbet, rough seas washed ashore large rocks and demolished some coastal structures, while some boats were blown over along the bay of the commune of Schœlcher. Martinique's agricultural sector suffered considerable losses: about 70% of banana crops sustained wind damage, with nearly every tree downed along the northern coast. There were no deaths on the island, although four people were injured in the hurricane—two seriously and two lightly. Agricultural loss were estimated at €35 million (US$42 million).
Rainfall ahead of the hurricane caused several landslides in Dominica, as water levels across the island began to rise by the afternoon of September 18. Maria made landfall at 21:15 AST that day (1:15 UTC, September 19) as a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 165 mph (270 km/h). These winds, the most extreme to ever impact the island, damaged the roof of practically every home—including the official residence of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who required rescue when his home began to flood. Downing all cellular, radio and internet services, Maria effectively cut Dominica off from the outside world; the situation there remained unclear for a couple of days after the hurricane's passage. Skerrit called the devastation "mind boggling" before going offline, and indicated immediate priority was to rescue survivors rather than assess damage. Initial ham radio reports from the capital of Roseau on September 19 indicated "total devastation," with half the city flooded, cars stranded, and stretches of residential area "flattened".
The next morning, the first aerial footage of Dominica elucidated the scope of the destruction. Maria left the mountainous country blanketed in a field of debris: Rows of houses along the entirety of the coastline were rendered uninhabitable, as widespread floods and landslides littered neighborhoods with the structural remnants. The hurricane also inflicted extensive damage to roads and public buildings, such as schools, stores and churches, and affected all of Dominica's 73,000 residents in some form or way. The air control towers and terminal buildings of the Canefield and Douglas Charles airports were severely damaged, although the runways remained relatively intact and open to emergency landings. The disaster affected all of the island's 53 health facilities, including the badly damaged primary hospital, compromising the safety of many patients.
The infrastructure of Roseau was left in ruins; practically every power pole and line was downed, and the main road was reduced to fragments of flooded asphalt. The winds stripped the public library of its roof panels and demolished all but one wall of the Baptist church. To the south of Roseau, riverside flooding and numerous landslides impacted the town of Pointe Michel, destroying about 80% of its structures and causing most of the deaths in the country. Outside the capital area, the worst of the destruction was concentrated around the east coast and rural areas, where collapsed roads and bridges isolated many villages. The port and fishing town of Marigot, Saint Andrew Parish, was 80% damaged. Settlements in Saint David Parish, such as Castle Bruce, Good Hope and Grand Fond, had been practically eradicated; many homes hung off cliffs or decoupled from their foundations. In Rosalie, rushing waters gushed over the village's bridge and damaged facilities in its bay area. Throughout Saint Patrick Parish, the extreme winds ripped through roofs and scorched the vegetation. Buildings in Grand Bay, the parish's main settlement, experienced total roof failure or were otherwise structurally compromised. Many houses in La Plaine caved in or slid into rivers, and its single bridge was broken.
Overall, the hurricane damaged the roofs of as much as 98% of the island's buildings, including those serving as shelters; half of the houses had their frames destroyed. Its ferocious winds defoliated nearly all vegetation, splintering or uprooting thousands of trees and decimating the island's lush rainforests. The agricultural sector, a vital source of income for the country, was completely wiped out: 100% of banana and tuber plantations was lost, as well as vast amounts of livestock and farm equipment. In Maria's wake, Dominica's population suffered from an island-wide water shortage due to uprooted pipes. The Assessment Capacities Project estimates that the hurricane has caused EC$3.69 billion (US$1.37 billion) in losses across the island, which is equal to 226 percent of its 2016 GDP. As of April 12, 2019, a total of 65 fatalities have been confirmed across the island, including 34 who are missing and presumed to be dead.
Post-hurricane relief aid that was brought to Dominica from regional partners and aiding countries additionally brought several non-native species that became established and which local stakeholders are still trying to remove in 2022.
Blustery conditions spread over Guadeloupe as Maria tracked to the south of the archipelago, which endured hours of unabating hurricane-force winds. The strongest winds blew along the southern coastlines of Basse-Terre Island: Gourbeyre observed a peak wind speed of 101 mph (162 km/h), while winds up north in nearby Baillif reached 92 mph (148 km/h). Along those regions, the hurricane kicked up extremely rough seas with 20 ft (6 m) waves. The combination of rough seas and winds was responsible for widespread structural damage and flooding throughout the archipelago, especially from Pointe-à-Pitre, along Grand-Terre Island's southwestern coast, to Petit-Bourg and the southern coasts on Basse-Terre Island. Aside from wind-related effects, rainfall from Maria was also significant. In just a day, the hurricane dropped nearly a month's worth of rainfall at some important locations: Pointe-à-Pitre recorded a 24-hour total of 7.5 inches (191 mm), while the capital of Basse-Terre measured 6.4 in (163 mm). Even greater quantities fell at higher elevations of Basse Terre Island, with a maximum total of 18.07 in (459 mm) measured at the mountainous locality of Matouba, Saint-Claude.
Throughout the archipelago, the hurricane left 40% of the population (80,000 households) without power and 25% of landline users without service. The islands of Marie-Galante, La Désirade and especially Les Saintes bore the brunt of the winds, which caused heavy damage to structures and nature alike and cut the islands off from their surroundings for several days. Homes on Terre-de-Haut Island of Les Saintes were flooded or lost their roofs. On the mainland, sections of Pointe-à-Pitre stood under more than 3.3 feet (1 m) of water, and the city's hospital sustained significant damage. The Basse-Terre region suffered severe damage to nearly 100% of its banana crops, comprising a total area of more than 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares); farmers described the destruction to their plantations as "complete annihilation". Beyond their impact on farmland, the strong winds ravaged much of the island's vegetation: fallen trees and branches covered practically every major road and were responsible for one death. Another person was killed upon being swept out to sea. Two people disappeared at sea after their vessel capsized offshore La Désirade, east of mainland Grande-Terre, and they are presumed to be dead afterwards. Damage from Maria across Guadeloupe amounted to at least €100 million (US$120 million).
In the wake of the hurricane, more than 85% of the island's houses were damaged, of which more than 25% were completely destroyed, leaving more than 50,000 of the island's 73,000 residents to be displaced. Following the destruction of thousands of homes, most supermarkets and the water supply system, many of Dominica's residents were in dire need of food, water and shelter for days. With no access to electricity or running water, and with sewage systems destroyed, fears of widespread diarrhea and dysentery arose. The island's agriculture, a vital source of income for many, was obliterated as most trees were flattened. Meanwhile, the driving force of the economy—tourism—was expected to be scarce in the months that followed Maria. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit characterized the devastation wrought by Irma and Maria as a sign of climate change and the threat it poses to the survival of his country, stating, "To deny climate change ... is to deny a truth we have just lived." Many islanders suffered respiratory problems as a result of excessive dust borne out of the debris. Light rainfall in the weeks following Maria alleviated this problem, although it also slowed recovery efforts, particularly rebuilding damaged rooftops.
VP HARRIS AND CARIBBEAN LEADERS TO ROLL OUT NEW U.S. PARTNERSHIP ON CLIMATE CHANGE, ENERGY
By Jacqueline Charles
Updated September 14th, 2022
Three months after the Biden administration and Caribbean leaders agreed to fine-tune details of a new energy and climate change partnership, leaders will meet face-to-face in Washington Thursday to review their progress and announce a series of steps the United States will take to address the needs of the Caribbean region. In an exclusive interview, a White House official confirmed to the Miami Herald that Vice President Kamala Harris will sit down with the leaders of five Caribbean nations to discuss proposals for addressing energy security, financing and food security matters in the region and how the Biden administration can better help. The meeting comes after President Joe Biden promised to “intensify” relations between the United States and the region during the Ninth Summit of the Americas. Attending Thursday’s meeting will be three Caribbean presidents — Chan Santokhi of Suriname; Irfaan Ali of Guyana; and Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic — and Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago. Mottley, Rowley and Ali each separately chaired a committee in the walk-up to the discussions.
During the summit in June in Los Angeles, the Biden administration announced the United States-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis, also known as PACC 2030. Among several initiatives, the United States committed to supporting energy infrastructure and climate resilience projects; helping Caribbean countries access financing for climate initiatives and assisting with identifying and launching clean energy and climate projects. While the commitments were welcomed, it was clear from a meeting between Harris and leaders of the 15-member Caribbean Community regional bloc known as CARICOM that both sides had differing views on how the partnership should be pursued and prioritized.
For example, in speaking of investment opportunities, the Biden administration stressed the involvement of the Inter-American Development Bank to help with financing. But Caribbean leaders later noted that there were six Eastern Caribbean countries that were not members of the IDB and therefore could not access any of its funds. Also, in a discussion with Biden, who dropped in on the meeting, Guyana’s Ali said the region had developed its own programs on food security, energy, logistics and transportation, which it is ready to roll out with the help of the United States. Another point of difference was the United States’ emphasis on moving away from fossil fuel, which the leaders of Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad all responded to with a “not quite yet.”
In opening remarks during the Harris meeting, CARICOM Secretary General Carla Barnett said “our member states are heavily dependent on fossil fuels for our energy needs; oil and gas reserves are concentrated in a few of our countries, but we are predominantly energy importers.” It was agreed by both Biden and Harris that three high-level action committees would be created to develop concrete, near-term solutions to pressing challenges in the region. Each of the committees had representation from the United States, CARICOM and the Dominican Republic, which isn’t a member of the mostly English-speaking Caribbean Community regional bloc that includes French-speaking Haiti and Dutch-speaking Suriname. “The action committees have held nearly a dozen technical and high-level meetings since June to formulate action plans,” said the White House official. The goal, said the official, is to find the best way — and most effective areas to provide U.S. technical assistance, training and other support to strengthen energy security, improve access to finance, and enhance food security in the Caribbean. As part of the plan, the Biden administration committed $28 million to provide food security assistance to Caribbean nations.
Jacqueline Charles has reported on Haiti and the English-speaking Caribbean for the Miami Herald for over a decade. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for her coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she was awarded a 2018 Maria Moors Cabot Prize — the most prestigious award for coverage of the Americas.
KENYA ELECTION 2022: WILLIAM RUTO SWORN IN AS PRESIDENT
By Cecilia Macaulay
September 14th, 2022
Tens of thousands of people cheered as William Ruto was sworn in as Kenya's president at a ceremony in the capital Nairobi following his narrow election win last month.
Mr Ruto hailed it as "a moment like no other", adding that a "village boy" had become president.
Defeated candidate Raila Odinga did not attend. He said he had "serious concerns" about his opponent's victory.
Mr Ruto won the election with 50.5% of the vote, to Mr Odinga's 48.8%.
Mr Odinga has alleged that the result was rigged, but the Supreme Court has ruled the election was free and fair.
Mr Ruto - the former deputy president - was handed a copy of Kenya's constitution and a sword to represent the transfer of power from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
With his hand on a Bible, the 55-year-old swore to preserve and protect the constitution.
"Standing here today is testimony that there is God in heaven. I want to thank God because a village boy has become the president of Kenya," Mr Ruto said, referring to the fact that he grew up in rural Kenya.
He also had conciliatory words for Mr Odinga, and all his opponents.
"Their supporters will be my constituents. I will work with all Kenyans irrespective of who they voted for," Mr Ruto said.
There was also a handshake between the outgoing Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, his former deputy with whom he fell out during their second term in office.
New Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said the Ruto administration marked "freedom" for Kenya, and the days when people were targeted because of their association with him "are over".
Earlier, at least eight people were reported to have been injured in a crush as they jostled to enter the stadium to witness the ceremony.
But inside the crowd was in high-sprits, with frequent cheering, waving of the Kenyan flag, and groups of people proudly wearing yellow - the colour synonymous with Mr Ruto's campaign.
About 20 heads of state from across Africa attended the event.
Religion was a persistent theme throughout the swearing in ceremony, with leaders from the Christian and Islamic faiths offering prayers for the new president.
Bishop Mark Kariuki said God had showcased his might by elevating Mr Ruto, who was once a road-side chicken seller, to the presidency.
Mr Kenyatta has stepped down at the end of his two terms. He backed Mr Odinga in the election, saying Mr Ruto was unworthy to serve as president.
Mr Kenyatta congratulated Mr Ruto on his win only a day before his inauguration.
Mr Kenyatta said he was committed to a peaceful transition and urged the new president to serve all Kenyans.
In a statement, Mr Odinga said he had received a call from Mr Ruto inviting him to the inauguration, but that he would not attend as he was abroad and he did not believe the election was free and fair.
This is despite the fact that the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous judgment, confirming Mr Ruto's victory and dismissing Mr Odinga's concerns that the election was marred by widespread irregularities.
Mr Ruto won after portraying himself as a "hustler" who was challenging an attempt by two dynasties - the Odingas and Kenyattas - to hang on to power.
He promised a "bottoms-up" approach to the economy to tackle the high unemployment rate among young people, and to improve the lives of those less well off.
WILLIAM RUTO: HOW KENYA'S NEW PRESIDENT IS INFLUENCED BY RELIGION
By Evelyne Musambi
BBC News, Nairobi
September 13th, 2022
William Ruto, who has been sworn in as Kenya's new president, is the country's first evangelical Christian president and is likely to put religion centre-stage while in office after it played a key role in his election victory.
The 55-year-old is not shy of publicly professing his faith and has been vocal on issues like gay rights and abortion, which are likely to come up during his tenure.
Mr Ruto is fond of quoting the scripture, praying and even sobbing in public. During the campaign, his opponents mocked him as "deputy Jesus" - a badge his supporters quickly adopted.
His first action after the Supreme Court upheld his victory in last month's election was to get on his knees and pray alongside his wife Rachel and other leaders who were in the room.
Mr Ruto and his wife have even built a chapel in the compound at their residence in the Karen suburb of the capital Nairobi.
A Muslim leader also prayed in the compound after the judgement, showing that despite Mr Ruto's strong Christian belief, he plans to be the leader of people from all faiths. Kenya's different religious communities generally co-exist in peace and the new president also enjoys the support of many Muslims.
Bishop David Oginde of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya said he hoped that Mr Ruto's government would "stand for values and respect the fact that Kenya is a religious society".
Kenya is a country of devout believers, with even Chief Justice Martha Koome attributing the Supreme Court's judgement confirming Ruto's victory as "the work of God" - rather than the court itself.
As deputy president, Mr Ruto's religious influence on outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta - a Catholic - was also evident during their first term, especially during their quest to clear their names at the International Criminal Court over charges related to the violence which broke out after the heavily disputed 2007 elections.
The pair repeatedly attended evangelical churches to pray, and garner public sympathy as they tried to avoid being put on trial - something they achieved when the prosecution dropped charges against Mr Kenyatta in 2014 and judges threw out the case against Mr Ruto in 2016.
Born in a Protestant family, President Ruto became an evangelical Christian, with local media publishing photos of him as a pastor in his youth.
His wife has often held prayer meetings and Mr Ruto has on several occasions credited her spiritual intervention for his political success.
His campaign's religious credentials were bolstered by new Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's wife, Dorcas, a retired banker who became a pastor.
Some 85% of Kenyans are Christians - 33% Protestant, 21% Catholic, 20% evangelical Christians and 7% following African churches - while about 11% are Muslim, according to the last census, in 2019. A small number of people adhere to other faiths but very few admit to being atheist or even agnostic.
Political analyst Macharia Munene told the BBC that Mr Ruto's appeal to Christians across all denominations was a factor in his election victory.
"His opponent Raila Odinga blundered when he spoke of Christianity being brainwashing and when his wife Ida spoke about regulating churches. All those statements worked in Ruto's favour vote-wise," Mr Munene said.
Political analyst Herman Manyora said he would not be surprised if Mr Ruto appointed religious leaders to government posts, as they had played a vital role in helping his campaign.
"Just like during President Moi's regime, it's likely for church services to feature prominently in Sunday prime-time news," Mr Manyora added.
Mr Ruto is expected to take a tough stand on gay rights. In 2015, ahead of a visit by then-US secretary of state John Kerry, he told a congregation in Nairobi that "Kenya is a republic that worships God. There is no room for homosexuality in Kenya".
In an interview with CNN following his election victory he said he did not "want to create a mountain out of a molehill" but, crucially, he added: "When it [gay rights] becomes a big issue for the people of Kenya, the people of Kenya will make a choice."
Mr Manyora said a major test for the government would come if there was a legal attempt to recognise gay rights. In 2019, the High Court ruled against activists who were seeking to overturn a law banning gay sex, however activists vowed to carry on with their campaign.
"The penal code that criminalises homosexuality is unconstitutional. Here is a man who purports to be very Christian. People call him 'deputy Jesus' and let's say a court ruling goes against his thoughts on homosexuality, it will be very interesting to watch Mr Ruto's [reaction]," Mr Manyora told the BBC.
Mr Ruto is also known for his conservative views on abortion, having opposed - with the backing of the church - the current constitutional provision which allows it if there is a risk to the mother's health.
So the chances of his government relaxing abortion laws are slim, however under the current constitution, he has little scope to tighten them, whatever his personal beliefs.
Mr Ruto also has strong support among Muslims, many of whom agree with him on issues such as gay rights and abortion.
He received a major boost after the election, when the United Democratic Movement (UDM) - which has dozens of Muslim leaders within its ranks - ditched Mr Odinga's coalition, and threw its weight behind Mr Ruto's to help it gain a majority in parliament after the election failed to produce an outright winner.
However, Mr Manyora warns that he should be aware of Muslim sensibilities: "He will pacify the Muslims by bringing their leaders close to him but unless he tones down his Christianity, he is bound to offend some Muslims.”
Bishop Oginde said that if Mr Ruto appoints religious leaders to government posts, then all faiths should be represented.
"We will support him, offer guidance where we can and certainly pray for him. We pray that he will demonstrate Godly leadership," the bishop added.
Mr Ruto's electoral success was largely down to the fact that he portrayed himself as a "hustler", fighting the attempt by two political dynasties - the Odingas and Kenyattas - to hang on to power.
He promised a "bottoms-up" approach to the economy to tackle the high unemployment rate among young people, and to improve the lives of poor people.
Mr Manyora said Kenya's new president will now have to fulfil his promises.
"Christianity is a cover used by many leaders in the world to get power and when they get to power, things change," he said.
CARIBBEAN’S CALL FOR REPARATION, INDEPENDENCE FROM BRITAIN LOUDENS AFTER QUEEN’S PASSING
September 10, 2022
The passing of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday marked the end of an era for Britain.
At the Royal Family’s castle in Balmoral, the longest-reigning monarch of Great Britain died peacefully at age 96.
News of her deteriorating health prompted the Queen’s immediate family to rush to Balmoral Castle in Scotland to be by her side.
On her passing, Elizabeth’s 73-year-old son, Charles, ascended to the throne as the monarch of the United Kingdom and the head of state of 14 other realms including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
In the Caribbean, the news of the Queen’s passing “renewed calls from politicians and activists for former colonies in the Caribbean to remove the monarch as their head of state and for Britain to pay slavery reparations,” Reuters reported.
In an interview, a 44-year-old academic who chairs the Bahamas National Reparations Committee, Niambi Hall-Campbell, believes that the ascension of King Charles III to the throne could be “an opportunity to advance discussions of reparations for our region.”
At the summit in Kigali, Rwanda held last June, Caribbean ministers who spoke to Reuters said they “had no problem with Charles as a person, but were uncomfortable with the symbolism of a royal succession.”
Charles’ comments at the Rwanda summit about his “personal sorrow over slavery” seem to offer “some degree of hope,” according to a Jamaican reparations advocate Rosalea Hamilton.
Britain’s new king did not mention the reparations in his Kigali speech.
Some Caribbean nations have expressed their intent to separate from the monarchy. In 2021, Barbados transitioned into a Republic. Jamaica has also said it may soon follow Barbados in leaving the royal rule. Both countries remain members of the Commonwealth.
I CANNOT MOURN: FORMER COLONIES CONFLICTED OVER THE QUEEN
By CARA ANNA, DANICA COTO and RODNEY MUHUMUZA
September 11, 2022
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Upon taking the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II inherited millions of subjects around the world, many of them unwilling. Today, in the British Empire’s former colonies, her death brings complicated feelings, including anger.
Beyond official condolences praising the queen’s longevity and service, there is some bitterness about the past in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and elsewhere. Talk has turned to the legacies of colonialism, from slavery to corporal punishment in African schools to looted artifacts held in British institutions. For many, the queen came to represent all of that during her seven decades on the throne.
In Kenya, where decades ago a young Elizabeth learned of her father’s death and her enormous new role as queen, a lawyer named Alice Mugo shared online a photograph of a fading document from 1956. It was issued four years into the queen’s reign, and well into Britain’s harsh response to the Mau Mau rebellion against colonial rule.
“Movement permit,” the document says. While over 100,000 Kenyans were rounded up in camps under grim conditions, others, like Mugo’s grandmother, were forced to request British permission to go from place to place.
“Most of our grandparents were oppressed,” Mugo tweeted in the hours after the queen’s death Thursday. “I cannot mourn.”
But Kenya’s outgoing president, Uhuru Kenyatta, whose father, Jomo Kenyatta, was imprisoned during the queen’s rule before becoming the country’s first president in 1964, overlooked past troubles, as did other African heads of state. “The most iconic figure of the 20th and 21st centuries,” Uhuru Kenyatta called her.
Anger came from ordinary people. Some called for apologies for past abuses like slavery, others for something more tangible.
“This commonwealth of nations, that wealth belongs to England. That wealth is something never shared in,” said Bert Samuels, a member of the National Council on Reparations in Jamaica.
Elizabeth’s reign saw the hard-won independence of African countries from Ghana to Zimbabwe, along with a string of Caribbean islands and nations along the edge of the Arabian Peninsula.
Some historians see her as a monarch who helped oversee the mostly peaceful transition from empire to the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 56 nations with historic and linguistic ties. But she was also the symbol of a nation that often rode roughshod over people it subjugated.
There were few signs of public grief or even interest in her death across the Middle East, where many still hold Britain responsible for colonial actions that drew much of the region’s borders and laid the groundwork for many of its modern conflicts. On Saturday, Gaza’s Hamas rulers called on King Charles III to “correct” British mandate decisions that they said oppressed Palestinians.
In ethnically divided Cyprus, many Greek Cypriots remembered the four-year guerrilla campaign waged in the late 1950s against colonial rule and the queen’s perceived indifference over the plight of nine people whom British authorities executed by hanging.
Yiannis Spanos, president of the Association of National Organization of Cypriot Fighters, said the queen was “held by many as bearing responsibility” for the island’s tragedies.
Now, with her passing, there are new efforts to address the colonial past, or hide it.
India is renewing its efforts under Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remove colonial names and symbols. The country has long moved on, even overtaking the British economy in size.
“I do not think we have any place for kings and queens in today’s world, because we are the world’s largest democratic country,” said Dhiren Singh, a 57-year-old entrepreneur in New Delhi.
There was some sympathy for the Elizabeth and the circumstances she was born under and then thrust into.
In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, resident Max Kahindi remembered the Mau Mau rebellion “with a lot of bitterness” and recalled how some elders were detained or killed. But he said the queen was “a very young lady” then, and he believes someone else likely was running British affairs.
“We cannot blame the queen for all the sufferings that we had at that particular time,” Kahindi said.
Timothy Kalyegira, a political analyst in Uganda, said there is a lingering “spiritual connection” in some African countries, from the colonial experience to the Commonwealth. “It is a moment of pain, a moment of nostalgia,” he said.
The queen’s dignified persona and age, and the centrality of the English language in global affairs, are powerful enough to temper some criticisms, Kalyegira added: “She’s seen more as the mother of the world.”
Mixed views were also found in the Caribbean, where some countries are removing the British monarch as their head of state.
“You have contradictory consciousness,” said Maziki Thame, a senior lecturer in development studies at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, whose prime minister announced during this year’s visit of Prince William, who is now heir to the throne, and Kate that the island intended to become fully independent.
The younger generation of royals seem to have greater sensitivity to colonialism’s implications, Thame said — during the visit, William expressed his “profound sorrow” for slavery.
surprising since she was presented by the British as “this benevolent queen who has always looked out for us,” but young people aren’t awed by the royal family.
“The only thing I noted about the queen’s passing is that she died and never apologized for slavery,” Spence said. “She should’ve apologized.”
Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.
Follow AP stories on Queen Elizabeth II’s death and other stories about the British monarchy at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii
PAKISTANI PM SAYS HIS FLOODED COUNTRY FACES FOOD SHORTAGES
By MUNIR AHMED
September 12th, 2022
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan is grappling with food shortages after deadly floods left the impoverished country’s agriculture belt underwater, the prime minister told the Turkish president by phone, as authorities scaled up efforts Monday to deliver food, tents and other items.
Shahbaz Sharif spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan overnight to thank Turkey for dispatching food, tents and medicine by 12 military aircraft, four trains and Turkish Red Crescent trucks. The International Rescue Committee estimated that the floods have damaged more than 3.6 million acres of crops in Pakistan.
A government statement said Sharif briefed Erdogan about the government’s relief activities and sought assistance from Turkey in overcoming the “food shortage.” Sharif also sought help from Turkey on reconstruction work in the flood-hit areas.
More than 660,000 people, including women and children, are living at relief camps and in makeshift homes after floods damaged their homes across the country and forced them to move to safer places. Pakistan, the country’s military, U.N. agencies and local charities are providing food to these flood victims.
Pakistan heavily relies on its agriculture and occasionally exports its surplus wheat to Afghanistan and other countries. Now it is in talks to import badly needed wheat and vegetables, including to people not directly affected by floods.
Meanwhile, the price of vegetables and other food has started increasing.
Until last week, floodwater was covering around a third of Pakistan, including the country’s agriculture belt in eastern Punjab and southern Sundh provinces which are the main food basket. Initially, Pakistan said the floods caused $10 billion in damages, but authorities say the damages are far greater than the initial estimates.
That’s forced Pakistan and the United Nations to urge the international community to send more help.
In response, U.N. agencies and various countries, including the United States, have sent more than 60 planeloads of aid. Since last week, Washington has sent three military planes to deliver food.
Three more U.S. military planes carrying aid were to land in Pakistan’s worst flood-hit southern Sindh province later Monday, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
Washington days ago set up a humanitarian air bridge to flood-ravaged Pakistan to deliver aid through 20 flights, which will arrive in Pakistan before September 16. The U.S. authorities also plan to distribute cash among needy people.
Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a visit to Pakistan traveled to flood-hit areas, where deluges from floods are still causing damage.
Guterres has called on the world to stop “sleepwalking” through the dangerous environmental crisis. He assured Sharif in a meeting with him that he will do his best to highlight the ordeal of Pakistanis facing floods.
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said at a news conference Monday that Pakistani authorities and international aid agencies are assessing the flood damage that has affected 33 million people. He said the government would proceed with transparency in the distribution of aid.
Meanwhile, the IRC, a prominent international aid group, on Monday warned of mounting economic losses, likely leading to food shortages and an increase in violence against women. In a statement, the group said the floods destroyed over 3.6 million acres of crops in Pakistan.
“The acute loss of farmland and agriculture is likely to be felt in the months and years ahead. It is vital that the humanitarian response remains fully funded in order to give the people of Pakistan the best chance of rebuilding their lives,” said Shabnam Baloch, IRC’s director in Pakistan.
She said so far the IRC has reached 29,000 women and girls with aid in flood-hit areas.
Deluges from the rising Indus river and the Lake Manchar in the Sindh province were still posing threat to Dadu, a district in the south where rescuers using boats were evacuating villagers to safer places Monday. Light rain is expected in flood-hit areas this week, according to the Meteorological Department.
CREOLE JAM SHOWCASES HAITIAN CULTURE DURING CARIBBEAN CARNIVAL
September 5, 2022
he Haitian-born creative and executive director of Creole Jam, Rose Guerrier, says the New York-based group is seeking to showcase and clear up misconceptions about Haitian culture during the in-person, West Indian American Day Carnival Parade, on Monday, Labour Day, on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway.
Labour Day is a public holiday in the United States.
“The message we want is to showcase Haiti and its history,” Guerrier told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) ahead of the seven hour spectacle, adding “we want to showcase Haiti and its liberation, and we liberated many.
“This is the first time that the Haitian community will see their culture displayed in such a way, with authentic costumes and music of our culture,” she said, adding that ll masqueraders will follow a choreographed routine.
“This is the first time we will be portraying our history on the Parkway. Our goal is to showcase our culture and create unity in the community. We want to uplift the culture, uplift the morale of the community, because of the many traumas we’ve been through.
“We want to put a smile on the faces of the Haitian people and on the faces of our brothers and sisters from Africa to the Caribbean,” said, adding that the. Creole Jam will comprise four sections, with about 50 masqueraders.
Guerrier said Erol Josue, director of ethnology in Haiti, has travelled from the French-speaking Caribbean island to assist in the production.
“Once he learned what I’m doing, he came from Haiti and brought costumes. And we made him the first Creole Jam Ambassador of Culture for 2022.”
Brooklyn resident Jocelyn Gay, a member of the Brooklyn-based Voix et Tambours & Haiti, Inc. (Voices and Drums of Haiti), said she’s “ecstatic” to be part of Creole Jam.
“This is what I do,” she said, referring to artistic performances. “That’s my life. It was always my dream to share my culture with the rest of the world,” added the retired social worker.
Guerrier said she was very grateful to Grenadian Derek Noel for giving the group the space at his business to conduct its mas camp.
“Derek has been a very good friend, and he offered me the space to show the unity,” she said.
The Carnival Parade is the culmination of five days of carnival that started last Thursday on the grounds of the Brooklyn Museum, where all carnival events, except Monday’s parade, took place.
The New York-based West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organiser of Brooklyn’s Caribbean Carnival, is celebrating 55 years of carnival in New York.
“Road rules are safety first, costumes only and culture matters,” stressed WIADCA in a statement. “This year our return to the parkway (Eastern Parkway) inspires us to continue the cultural work on behalf of our community, city, state and partners,” said WIADCA’s Guyanese-born chairperson Michelle Gibbs-Francis. “Without them, the mas and pan groups especially, we would not be here today.
“Our losses were tough, but we stood stronger together to overcome by providing for others and producing several impactful community programs for youth, adults and seniors. As for our COVID protocols, we have several guidelines in place to verify vaccination and temperature checks.”
SKN PATRIOTS PICK UP FIRST VICTORY AT CPL 2022
September 8th, 2022
The St Kitts and Nevis Patriots’ title defence at the 2022 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) got a boost today when they defeated the Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW) by four wickets.
GAW won the toss and chose to bat first.
The Patriots laid down the gauntlet from the first bawl with Sheldon Cottrell and Duan Jansen frustrating the batters.
Jansen took the early wicket of Paul Stirling.
Chandrapual Hemraj played a patient innings to build a platform, scoring 43 runs, before Captain Shimron Hetmyer displayed some attacking intent to take his side to 162/6.
In response, the Patriots took a patient approach to the chase after losing the valuable wicket of Evin Lewis in the second over.
Andre Fletcher went on to score 41 runs for the Patriots before his dismissal but the wickets of both Dwayne Bravo and Darren Bravo in the 16th over had seemingly ended the Patriots chances of a win, before Jansen and Dwaine Pretorius combined in the final overs with a 55-run partnership to guide the side to a remarkable win.
The Patriots are now third on the CPL standing.
GAW remains in last place after losing all of their three matches.
WILL QUEEN ELIZABETH'S DEATH MEAN MORE CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES MIGHT KICK THE MONARCHY TO THE SIDE?
KING CHARLES TAKES THE THRONE AS SOME COUNTRIES RETHINK HAVING A BRITISH HEAD-OF-STATE
By Keith Reed
September 8th, 2022
Will the death of Queen Elizabeth II bring about the end of colonial ties to the British Monarchy in more majority Black nations around the world?
The 96-year-old queen’s death comes as some majority-Black nations in the Caribbean and elsewhere reevaluate their association to crown. Great Britain maintains a close relationship with many of its former colonies through the Commonwealth of Nations, a bloc of 56 countries, some of which still recognize the head of the British monarchy as their official head of state—even if they have their own elected governments.
Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada are all Caribbean islands that still recognize the British monarch as their head-of-state.
But numerous Black-majority former British colonies, most recently Barbados, have disassociated themselves from the crown over the years, with leaders and activists in those nations citing the monarchy’s ties to slavery and their continued economic exploitation following the end of the slave trade. Queen Elizabeth II’s passing means the ascension of King Charles, a less popular figure on the global stage, at the same time as those discussions continue.
In March of this year, a group of 100 Jamaican political activists published an open letter to Prince William, the deceased queen’s oldest grandson, demanding reparations and discouraging a visit to the island to commemorate the queen’s 70th anniversary on the throne.
“We see no reason to celebrate 70 years of the ascension of your grandmother to the British throne because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind,” they wrote.
“During her 70 years on the throne, your grandmother has done nothing to redress and atone for the suffering of our ancestors that took place during her reign and/or during the entire period of British trafficking of Africans, enslavement, indentureship and colonialization.”
Prince William still made the trip, giving a speech that condemned what he called “the horrors of slavery.”
But Jamaica didn’t officially remove the queen as its head of state as the island nation of Barbados did last November. That country kicked the monarchy to the curb after 400 years, establishing itself as a republic and installing its first-ever president, Sandra Mason. Barbados is now building a museum to commemorate the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
OBAMAS RETURN TO THE WHITE HOUSE, UNVEIL OFFICIAL PORTRAITS
By Darlene Superville
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, returned to the White House Wednesday, unveiling official portraits with a modern vibe in an event that set humor and nostalgia over his presidency against the current harsh political talk about the survival of democracy.
While her husband cracked a few jokes about his gray hair, big ears and clothes in his portrait, Mrs. Obama, a descendant of slaves, said the occasion for her was more about the promise of America for people like herself.
“Barack and Michelle, welcome home,” declared President Joe Biden as the gathering cheered.
Biden, who was Obama’s vice president, praised his former boss’ leadership on health care, the economy and immigration and said nothing could have prepared him any better for being president than serving with Obama for those eight years.
“It was always about doing what was right,” he said.
The portrait of Obama, America’s 44th and first Black president, doesn’t look like any of his predecessors, nor does Michelle Obama’s look like any of the women who filled the role before her.
Obama stands expressionless against a white background, wearing a black suit and gray tie in the portrait by Robert McCurdy that looks more like a large photograph than an oil-on-canvas portrait. The former first lady, her lips pursed, is seated on a sofa in the Red Room in a strapless, light blue dress. She chose artist Sharon Sprung for her portrait.
Scores of former members of Obama’s administration were on hand for the big reveal.
Obama noted that some of them in the East Room audience had started families in the intervening years and feigned disappointment “that I haven’t heard of anyone naming a kid Barack or Michelle.”
He thanked McCurdy for his work, joking that the artist, who is known for his paintings of public figures from Nelson Mandela to the Dalai Lama, had ignored his pleas for fewer gray hairs and smaller ears. “He also talked me out of wearing a tan suit, by the way,” Obama quipped, referring to a widely panned appearance as president in the unflattering suit.
Obama went on to say his wife was the “best thing about living in the White House,” and he thanked Sprung for “capturing everything I love about Michelle, her grace, her intelligence -- and the fact that she’s fine.”
Michelle Obama, when it was her turn, laughingly opened by saying she had to thank her husband for “such spicy remarks.” To which he retorted, by way of explanation, “I’m not running again.”
Then the former first lady turned serious, drawing a connection between unveiling the portraits and America’s promise for people with backgrounds like her own, a daughter of working-class parents from the South Side of Chicago.
“For me, this day is not just about what has happened,” she said. “It’s also about what could happen, because a girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolley Madison. She was never supposed to live in this house, and she definitely wasn’t supposed to serve as first lady.”
Mrs. Obama said the portraits are a “reminder that there’s a place for everyone in this country.”
Tradition holds that the sitting president invites his immediate predecessor back to the White House to unveil his portrait, but Donald Trump broke with that custom and did not host Obama. So, Biden scheduled a ceremony for his former boss.
Mrs. Obama said the tradition matters “not just for those of us who hold these positions, but for everyone participating in and watching our democracy.”
In remarks that never mentioned Trump but made a point as he continues to challenge his 2020 reelection loss, she added: “You see the people, they make their voices heard with their vote. We hold an inauguration to ensure a peaceful transition of power ... and once our time is up, we move on.”
McCurdy, meanwhile, said his “stripped down” style of portraiture helps create an “encounter” between the person in the painting and the person looking at it.
“They have plain white backgrounds, nobody gestures, nobody — there are no props because we’re not here to tell the story of the person that’s sitting for them,” McCurdy told the White House Historical Association during an interview for its “1600 Sessions” podcast.
“We’re here to create an encounter between the viewer and the sitter,” he said. “We’re telling as little about the sitter as possible so that the viewer can project onto them.”
He works from a photograph of his subject, selected from about 100 images, and spends at least a year on each portrait. Subjects have no say in how the painting looks. McCurdy said he knows he’s done “when it stops irritating me.”
Obama’s portrait went on display in the Grand Foyer, the traditional showcase for paintings of the two most recent presidents. His portrait replaced Bill Clinton’s near the stairway to the residence, the White House tweeted Wednesday night. George W. Bush’s portrait hangs on the wall opposite Obama’s in the foyer.
Mrs. Obama’s portrait was hung one floor below on the Ground Floor, joining predecessors Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush, according to the tweet.
Two spokespeople for Trump did not respond to emailed requests for comment on whether artists have begun work on White House portraits for Trump and former first lady Melania Trump. Work, however, is underway on a separate pair of Trump portraits bound for the collection held by the National Portrait Gallery, a Smithsonian museum.
The White House Historical Association, a nonprofit organization founded in 1961 by first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and funded through private donations and sales of books and an annual Christmas ornament, helps manage the White House portrait process. Since the 1960s, the association has paid for most of the portraits in the collection.
Congress bought the first painting in the collection, of George Washington. Other portraits of early presidents and first ladies often came to the White House as gifts.
AFTER DEL RIO, SOME HAITIAN MIGRANTS FOUND SAFETY IN THE U.S. BUT MANY HAVE NOT
September 7, 2022
In the chaos of a squalid migrant camp in Del Rio, Texas, last year, Esther was desperate. Her 15-month-old son was sick and hungry.
There wasn't enough food in the camp, so she went back across the river to Mexico to buy some. When she tried to return to the camp on the Texas side of the river, Esther says, she was threatened by Border Patrol officers on horseback.
"There were horses, and the way they were talking to us, asking questions and riding up to us, telling us, 'Go back to Mexico. Go back to Mexico,'" she said by phone in Haitian Creole through an interpreter.
Photographs and video of Border Patrol agents on horseback trying to corral a crowd of Black migrants sparked outrage all the way up to the White House.
Nearly a year later, some of those Haitian migrants have found their way to safety in the United States — but thousands more have not. And advocates say no one has been held accountable for how they were treated by immigration authorities in the camp in Del Rio, or in the months since.
Esther is not the woman's real name, but NPR is using it because that's how she's identified in a lawsuit filed last year on behalf of a group of Haitian migrants who were in Del Rio. Like many of the migrants, Esther says she traveled there from Chile, where she'd been living with her husband and son.
She was among roughly 15,000 Haitian migrants who crossed the border illegally within a few days of each other last September and found themselves confined in a squalid camp on the banks of the Rio Grande.
Esther says she tried to get medical treatment for her son, who was suffering from fever and diarrhea, in the Del Rio camp. But she says medical staff there gave her only water and syrup that didn't seem to help.
The incident involving Border Patrol agents on horseback prompted an internal investigation by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
"Not everyone's going to like all the findings," said CBP commissioner Chris Magnus when he announced the findings at a news conference in July, "but the investigation was comprehensive and fair.
Investigators found no evidence that the agents on horseback struck any migrants with their horses' reins, "intentionally or otherwise." But their report concludes that some officers on horseback used "unnecessary" force and verbally abused the migrants.
"There is no justification for the actions of some of our personnel, including unprofessional and deeply offensive conduct," Magnus said at the time.
A disciplinary review board recommended action against four Border Patrol agents, Magnus said, although no details about their punishment have been announced.
But Haitian migrants and their advocates say that report is not credible, because investigators didn't talk to a key group of witnesses: the migrants themselves.
"I was shocked when I received word that the report was coming out and when I read the findings," said Nicole Phillips, the legal director of Haitian Bridge Alliance.
The organization, along with other advocacy groups including the Justice Action Center, is suing the Biden administration on behalf of Esther and other migrants.
CBP investigators included filings from that lawsuit as an exhibit in their 500-page report. But Phillips says they never contacted or interviewed the migrants directly.
Phillips says the official report contains some important inaccuracies. For example, she says, Border patrol agents did strike migrants with their horses' reins. She's also disappointed that investigators focused only on the incident with the horse patrols, while basically ignoring the squalid conditions in the camp.
"There was no investigation into that," she said. "The lack of food, the lack of water, the lack of medical care. And that's what's also really disappointing.”
In the confusion at Del Rio, several thousand migrants were released directly into the United States. Thousands more were deported to Haiti, including two of Esther's sisters, who had also been in the camp.
Once Esther and her husband understood what was happening, they had to make a choice. They could still try to ask for asylum in the United States. But they didn't want to risk being deported to Haiti, where she said her life had been threatened because of her family's political connections.
"What we were thinking was we couldn't go back to Haiti because of the problems we knew were happening in Haiti," she said. "I didn't want to get deported, and that's why we chose to go back to Mexico."
Esther and her family decided to cross the river back into Mexico, where they received medical treatment for their son, as well as legal help. Months later, they were allowed into the United States to seek asylum. They're now in Florida, living with her husband's family.
But they know that many other Haitians weren't so lucky. The United States has deported more than 20,000 people back to Haiti since last September, though the pace of deportation flights has declined sharply since June.
"That was hard really because when you think about all the effort you made to get there and it's just gone," said a man who's identified as Jacques in the lawsuit against the Biden administration.
Jacques was also in Del Rio last year, hoping to apply for asylum. Instead he was deported back to Haiti. Now he's hiding in the countryside to avoid the gang that drove him to leave the country in the first place, and says he only travels at night to avoid attention.
"Day by day things are getting worse," he said by phone in Haitian Creole through an interpreter. "When you think things are getting better, things get worse. But, you know, we have to be resilient because there is nothing else we can do. We can just be cautious."
Jacques says he's just trying to survive until he can find a way to get out of Haiti again.
THE U.N. SAYS FAMINE WILL REACH PARTS OF SOMALIA LATER THIS YEAR
September 5, 2022
MOGADISHU, Somalia — The United Nations says "famine is at the door" in Somalia with "concrete indications" famine will occur later this year in the southern Bay region. This falls just short of a formal famine declaration in Somalia as thousands are dying in a historic drought made worse by the effects of the war in Ukraine.
U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told reporters that he was "shocked to my core these past few days" on a visit to Somalia in which he witnessed starving babies too weak to cry.
A formal famine declaration is rare and a warning that too little help has come too late. At least 1 million people in Somalia have been displaced by the worst drought in decades, driven by climate change, that also affects the wider Horn of Africa including Ethiopia and Kenya.
Famine is the extreme lack of food and a significant death rate from outright starvation or malnutrition combined with diseases like cholera. A declaration means data shows more than a fifth of households have extreme food gaps, more than 30% of children are acutely malnourished and over two people out of 10,000 are dying every day.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been described as a disaster for Somalia, which has suffered from a shortage of humanitarian aid as international donors focus on Europe. Somalia also sourced at least 90% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine before the war and has been hit hard by scarcity and the sharp rise in food prices.
"Ukraine has occupied the narrative," Griffiths said.
Hungry families in Somalia have been staggering for days or weeks on foot through parched terrain in search of assistance. Many bury family members along the way. Even when they reach camps outside urban areas, they find little or no help.
At one camp outside the capital, Mogadishu, Fadumo Abdi Aliyow showed The Associated Press the graves of her two small sons next to their makeshift home. Disease had overwhelmed their weakened bodies. One was 4. The other was eight months old.
"I wanted to die before them so they could bury me," Aliyow said. Another resident of the camp of 1,800 families, Samey Adan Mohamed, said the last meal she and her eight children had was rice a day ago. Today they had only tea.
Camps like theirs are ringed by death, bringing aid workers to tears. "I couldn't get out of my head the tiny mounds of ground marking children's graves," UNICEF's deputy regional director Rania Dagash said last week. "I'm from this region and I've never seen it so bad."
A formal famine declaration would bring desperately needed funding. But "tragically, by the time a famine is declared, it's already too late," the U.N. World Food Program has said.
When famine was declared in parts of Somalia in 2011, the deaths of a quarter-million people were well underway.
"This is not a repeat of the 2011 famine. It is much worse," the U.N. humanitarian agency said last week. So far, at least 730 children have died in nutrition centers across Somalia, it said, and more than 213,000 people are at "imminent risk" of dying.
"You feel like you're looking at the face of death," Mercy Corps CEO Tjada McKenna told the AP after visiting the badly hit city of Baidoa. There is not enough therapeutic food to treat the acutely malnourished, said McKenna, who saw many young children and pregnant women. "For every one person I saw, imagine all the people who couldn't get that far. And so many people were arriving each day."
At the same time, aid funding has dropped more than 60% from the response to Somalia's previous drought in 2017, USAID administrator Samantha Power said last week, noting a "degree of despair and devastation" not seen before in her career.
The Horn of Africa region has seen four straight failed rainy seasons for the first time in well over four decades. The upcoming rainy season is also expected to fail. That endangers an estimated 20 million people in one of the world's most impoverished and turbulent regions.
"Sadly, our models show with a high degree of confidence that we are entering the fifth consecutive failed rainy season," the director of the regional climate prediction center, Guleid Artan, has said. "In Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, we are on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe."
The rainfall in this year's failed March-to-May season was the lowest in the last six decades, Artan told the AP. Next year's March-to-May season doesn't look good either, he said, worrying that "this could be the seven-year drought, the biblical one."
Formal famine declarations are rare because data to meet the benchmarks often cannot be obtained because of conflict, poor infrastructure or politics. Governments can be wary of being associated with a term of such grim magnitude. Somalia's recently elected president, however, appointed a drought envoy in one of his first acts in office, which Griffiths called "impressive."
Because of the remote nature of Somalia's drought, and with some hard-hit areas under the control of the al-Shabab extremist group which has been hostile to humanitarian efforts, no one knows how many people have died — or will in the months to come.
Hundreds of calls from across Somalia, including from al-Shabab-controlled areas, come in daily to the Somali-run Radio Ergo. Some say no aid is available in camps. Others say water sources have run dry or lament the loss of millions of livestock that are the foundation of their health and wealth.
"People don't cry because they want their voice to be heard," radio editor Leyla Mohamed told the AP. "But you can feel they are hurting, that they feel more than we can hear."
JUDAH JNO. BAPTISTE: THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
September 2nd, 2022
Mechanics and music make quite the mix, yet Judah 'DiYoute' Jno. Baptiste is pulling it off quite successfully.
The local Hip Hop artiste has put his business skills to use, being the manager of Grease Monkey Mechanics, which he runs along with his brother Marcus Jno. Baptiste, the chief mechanic, with over ten years of experience under his belt.
"What makes us stand out is we take pride in doing things to the manufacturers' specification," Jno. Baptiste told The Sun. "We don't do things 'modifay' in local parlance. We take pride in using state-of-the-art tools and equipment to do our work."
Grease Monkey Mechanics opened two and a half years ago amidst what one may consider a saturated market of vehicle mechanics. But Jno. Baptiste says there was a need for their services.
"We did surveys and many people weren't very satisfied with the level of work and service they got from other mechanics," he said. "The majority of good skilled mechanics are roadside, and people are concerned about the security of their vehicles, also they don't have the proper tools and equipment. And a lot of established major shops don't really have skilled mechanics, but they have the equipment. So, with us it's the best of both worlds."
The company, which has four employees has encountered its fair share of struggles in its almost three-year life span.
"The most challenging aspect is sometimes the unavailability of parts and equipment. And when you have to import parts the cost of duty is a problem. Because you don't want to charge your customers a lot but then you have to sometimes because of what you pay on parts," he said.
With every downside comes an upside. Jno. Baptiste says the most rewarding part of working at Grease Monkey Mechanics is the satisfaction of customers.
"Seeing the growth of the business, satisfying our customers, and the fact that most customers we work with always refer someone else to us," he said.
The company's use of social media platforms is another way it keeps and grows its followers. The future looks bright for Grease Monkey Mechanics as the brothers only foresee the company growing in size, popularity, and customer base.
The work involved in keeping the garage functioning smoothly means time management is key to Judah since he has his entertainment career to focus on. DiYoute entered the music scene in 2009 singing Bouyon. He eventually transitioned to the Hip Hop genre in 2015.
"I didn't like the path Bouyon was taking, the topics, and the vibe on a whole", he said. "To me, my type of lyrics would not be hitting it in Bouyon, it's not what people are into right now."
DiYoute focuses more on self-motivation and positive upliftment in his songs and lyrical content, telling the Sun: "For everybody who takes the chance to listen, they love it, positive reviews only." The switch to Hip Hop wasn't difficult for the young artiste since this genre has been his first love. This is quite obvious as he is one of the few artistes doing Hip Hop in Dominica. His lyrical content has also put him on the right path.
"In fact, for two of my last three albums released on Spotify, Apple Music, and other platforms, I charted number one in Dominica for two weeks straight," Jno Baptiste said.
That's quite an accomplishment for a Dominican Hip Hop artiste based who lives here.
DiYoute laments the most challenging part of being an artiste in Dominica is minimal support for the artform. Also, the majority of entertainers need to have a regular 8 – 4 job to sustain themselves.
"A few artistes actually went into music full time and you can see their quality is better, their productivity is better, everything is better because they can focus on music," he said.
While not revealing too much of what the future holds, he advised Dominicans to look out for big things from him soon and follow him on social media to keep abreast of the latest Hip Hop developments.
-By Andrea Louis
THE FIRST HURRICANE OF THE SEASON ARRIVED LATE, BUT DON'T LET YOUR GUARD DOWN
September 5, 2022
For months, the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season was notable for one reason: a complete lack of hurricanes. That finally changed on Friday, when Danielle strengthened into the Atlantic's first hurricane since last October.
The 2022 season had been predicted to continue the recent run of storm activity that pushed meteorologists deep into their annual list of alphabetized storm names, even exhausting it entirely.
But so far, it's been a quiet summer: 60 days elapsed from Tropical Storm Colin's demise on July 3 and Danielle's arrival on Sept. 1.
"No tropical cyclones formed in the basin during August," as the National Hurricane Center said in its monthly recap. "This is quite unusual and is the first time that has occurred since 1997, and is only the third time that has happened since 1950."
Weather conditions can change rapidly, and dangerous storms could still form in the coming weeks, experts warn. Just days after Danielle formed, for instance, another tropical storm, Earl, formed.
Why is there a gap between the prediction and reality?
This is not the above-average hurricane season experts predicted — at least, not yet. Scientists at Colorado State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted the Atlantic's seventh above-normal season in a row, with more than the average of 14 named storms.
Their reasons were solid: The climate pattern known as La Niña in the Pacific Ocean normally brings a more active hurricane season in the Atlantic. In addition, water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic have been among the warmest ever recorded, providing plenty of fuel for storms.
"Those two factors alone were expected to drive an active Atlantic hurricane season, but it hasn't turned out that way," meteorologist Jeff Masters told NPR. He's a hurricane expert for Yale Climate Connections and a co-founder of Weather Underground.
"It was not expected and the reasons for it are not well understood," Masters said (more on that below).
What does history say about a slow start to storm season?
It's a mixed picture, with a small sample size. But experts warn not to assume there's less risk just because the first months of hurricane season have been calm.
Since routine aircraft reconnaissance began in 1944, only two other seasons didn't see a named storm in August. The first came in 1961, which pivoted into a very active season. A flurry of dangerous hurricanes formed in September alone — including Hurricane Carla, which devastated the Texas coast.
The second such season, in 1997, remained a quiet one. But Jamie Rhome, acting director at the National Hurricane Center, noted in a statement sent to NPR that in 1992, the storm season had also been quiet, before Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida and Louisiana in August.
"It only takes one landfalling hurricane to make it a bad season for you, and we still have three months to go before the end of the Atlantic hurricane season," Rhome said.
So, what's happened so far this year?
Hurricanes, it turns out, have two big enemies: dry air and wind shear. This year, those conditions are being boosted by the Bermuda High, a high-pressure system that sits over the Atlantic Ocean.
The Bermuda High is currently smaller and farther north than normal — leading to high temperatures from Canada to Europe. It's also allowing the powerful jet stream to dip far to the south over the central Atlantic, preventing hurricanes from forming.
"When high winds get up on top of a developing system that's trying to be a hurricane, those high winds will tear it apart," Masters said.
The same dynamic is funneling dry air to the Atlantic that also saps storms.
"Things are all upside-down" this summer, a hurricane expert says
Climate change is causing hurricanes to get more powerful on average. In general, air that's becoming warmer and more moist provides more fuel for extreme weather, from hurricanes to intense inland storms. Researchers are still working to learn how rising temperatures might affect the overall number of storms that form.
"Hurricanes fundamentally form in response to unequal heating of the poles compared to the equator. They're meant to redistribute heat," Masters said.
But their services have not been required this summer, because sunny conditions have brought heat waves to northern latitudes and raised ocean temperatures in the far north to resemble tropical warmth.
With little need for hurricanes to transport heat, the Atlantic isn't the only place seeing a calmer storm season.
"The western Pacific has also been super quiet. We're somewhere around maybe 60% of average activity there," Masters said. "So it's kind of a global thing going on here. It's not just the Atlantic: Things are all upside-down.”
Does this mean we're in for an easier hurricane season?
We might see less powerful hurricanes compared to recent years, Masters said, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be dangerous. Because of warm ocean temperatures, he expects any cyclone that does form to pack a great deal of water, raising the risk of flooding — the main cause of death from hurricanes.
"It's unlikely we're going to have an above-average season now," he said, noting that the hurricane season is nearing its traditional halfway point of Sept. 10.
But forecasters warn not to become complacent in the absence of hurricanes.
"It's still early. It only takes one bad storm to make a hurricane season for the ages," Masters said. "So we still have to be vigilant.”
As Colorado State's researchers said when they made their seasonal forecast, anyone who lives in an area that could be affected by a hurricane or tropical storm "should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”
BANK OF AMERICA’S NEW HOME LOAN PROGRAM LETS BORROWERS BUY HOMES IN SELECT CITIES WITH 0% DOWN AND NO CLOSING COSTS. THIS NEW LOAN WILL MAKE HOMEOWNERSHIP MORE ATTAINABLE FOR BORROWERS LIVING IN MINORITY COMMUNITIES.
Published Sun, Sep 4 2022
Bank of America is launching a new mortgage product that would allow first-time homebuyers to purchase a home with no down payment, no mortgage insurance and zero closing costs.
In an effort to close the racial homeownership gap, the Community Affordable Loan Solution will launch in markets with predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, including Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and Miami, and may later expand to other cities. It will not require a minimum credit score and will instead consider other factors for eligibility.
Is Bank of America’s new zero-down mortgage worth it?
Home buying is a notoriously expensive process and has gotten even more costly as property values have increased over the years. When you consider a modest 5% down payment, lender fees, which can run you up to 1% of the home’s value, and closing costs, which can be as high as 6% of the loan’s value, buyers can pay close to $46,800 upfront for a $400,000 home — this still excludes other charges like the underwriting fee, title check, home inspection and appraisal fees.
Offering a loan that doesn’t require a down payment, mortgage insurance or closing costs could lower the barrier to entry for homeownership. And when you spend less money on down payment and closing costs, you can reserve more of your savings for paying for serious home repairs that need to be taken care of, or emergency expenses that could arise as soon as you move in.
Just keep in mind, though, that making no down payment means that your home loan will cover the entire value of the property and your monthly payments can be higher than they’d be if you paid a little upfront. You’ll need to work with a financial planner or mortgage lender to make sure that the monthly payments will fit into your budget.
Who will be eligible?
While the goal of the program is to bring Black and Hispanic borrowers closer to homeownership, people of all races can qualify for the Community Affordable Loan Solution.
Eligibility will be based on income and the location of the property. It will also use credit guidelines based on factors such as timely rent, utility bill, phone and auto insurance payments to determine creditworthiness, though, there is no minimum credit score requirement.
If you’re interested in applying for a loan through this program, you must also complete a homebuyer certification course provided by select Bank of America and HUD-approved housing counseling partners before submitting your loan application.
“Our community affordable loan solution will help make the dream of sustained homeownership attainable for more Black and Hispanic families, and it is part of our broader commitment to the communities that we serve,” AJ Barkley, head of neighborhood and community lending at Bank of America, said in a statement.
Other low down payment options to consider
Navy Federal Credit Union offers a VA home loan option that doesn’t require a down payment and is meant for current or retired members of the Armed Forces who have signed up for a Navy Federal Credit Union membership (immediate family members are also eligible).
This lender also has another option called the Military Choice mortgage, which has similar guidelines to the VA loan, such as no PMI and a 0% minimum down payment, but allows sellers to contribute up to 6% of the home’s value toward closing costs.
Chase Bank offers down payment options as low as 3% if you apply for the DreaMaker home loan. The DreaMaker loan is designed especially for those who can only afford to make a small down payment, but it also comes with stricter income requirements. Qualifying borrowers must not have an income that exceeds 80% of the Area Median Income.
PNC Bank also has a few specialized loan options to consider. It offers a special loan option geared toward medical professionals who are looking to buy a primary residence only. With this loan, medical professionals can apply for as much as $1 million and won’t have to pay private mortgage insurance regardless of their down payment amount.
PNC Bank also has a USDA loan option, which traditionally doesn’t require a down payment. Though, homebuyers interested in a USDA loan must use the loan to finance a property that’s located in a qualifying rural area.
21-YEAR-OLD CANADIAN TIKTOK INFLUENCER FALLS TO DEATH WHILE SKYDIVING. TANYA PARDAZI, A PHILOSOPHY STUDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO WHO RAN A TIKTOK ACCOUNT WITH MORE THAN 100,000 FOLLOWERS, DIED AUGUST, 27TH 2022
Sept. 4, 2022
By Julianne McShane
A 21-year-old Canadian college student and TikTok influencer fell to her death while skydiving in Toronto late last month, according to reports.
Tanya Pardazi died Aug. 27 at Skydive Toronto, where she had completed a course before her first jump, which ultimately led to her death, a friend told CTV News Toronto.
Pardazi was studying philosophy at the University of Toronto, according to CTV News Toronto, and ran a TikTok account with more than 100,000 followers.
The skydive facility requires student to complete a course in "all of the fundamentals required to successfully complete your first skydive" — including "equipment, how to exit the airplane, freefall body position (arch), canopy control, and emergency protocol" — before they take their first jumps from 4,000 feet, according to the website.
The facility confirmed a 21-year-old student's death in a Facebook statement that did not identify Pardazi by name.
A representative for Skydive Toronto said by email that "out of respect for the family, we will not be releasing any further details than what our statement has already included."
The Facebook statement said the skydiver "released a quickly rotating main parachute at a low altitude without the time/altitude required for the reserve parachute to inflate.”
"The jumper was a welcomed recent addition to the skydiving community and will be missed amongst the student's new friends and fellow jumpers of Skydive Toronto Inc," the statement added. "The team at Skydive Toronto Inc has been profoundly affected by this accident as they have refined their student training program for over 50 years."
The facility is working with police — who confirmed the fatal incident in a statement Aug. 28 — as they investigate, the statement said.
Friends of Pardazi told CTV News Toronto that she had made it to the semifinals of a Miss Canada competition. She "had an interest in anything that was new and adventurous,” her childhood friend Melody Ozgoli said.
“She really lived every second to the fullest,” Ozgoli told CTV News Toronto. “This is the biggest shock to us. It’s very hard to process. It’s been a couple of days, but we still don’t even believe it.”
The University of Toronto's cheerleading team paid tribute to Pardazi in on Instagram.
"Forever part of our team and in our hearts, Tanya Pardazi was one in a million," the caption read
VIBRANT J'OUVERT FESTIVITIES RETURN TO BROOKLYN, WITH CHARACTERS FROM JAB MOLASSIE TO BABY DOLL
BY PRECIOUS FONDREN
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 4, 2022
Early in the morning on Labor Day, the melodic sounds of steel-pan drumming and the roar of cheering crowds will awaken many New Yorkers as the Caribbean celebration J’ouvert rolls through Brooklyn streets. J’ouvert, French for “break of day,” marks the beginning of the West Indian Day Parade and Carnival. It hasn't happened on an official level in New York City since 2019 because of the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s back in full force this year, including a pageant-like procession of costumed celebrants whose flamboyant attire represents elements of history and folklore.
“A lot of people don’t understand J’ouvert,” Sandra Bell, a third-generation Carnival costume maker and production stage manager, told Gothamist. Bell was born in Trinidad and has celebrated J’ouvert in Brooklyn for years. “They don't understand it came out of struggle, and the fight for our cultural expression,” she said.
J’ouvert and Carnival are mostly known now for their vibrant showcase of Caribbean culture, but the occasion also has historical roots. One common take on its origin is that Carnival was introduced by French colonials when they arrived in Trinidad in 1783. During this time, Trinidad became a plantation economy and a slave society. Masked balls arrived as French culture permeated the island, but enslaved people weren’t allowed to attend such gatherings. In response, they hosted their own events, using their history, rituals, and folklore to entertain themselves while mocking the slave masters.
After emancipation came on Aug. 1, 1838, J’ouvert evolved into a commemoration of newfound freedom. The pre-Carnival celebration typically starts before sunrise, around 3 or 4 a.m., and carries on until the start of the Day Parade mid-morning.
While many participants will favor attire that's barely there, others uphold a tradition of representing figures from historic folklore. Below, Bell and another expert, Brooklyn College professor Dale Byam, explain who these characters are and what they represent.
The most common character people will encounter at J’ouvert is the Jab Jab or Jab Molassie. Both are variations of a “devil,” Bell said. “They’re very scary creatures.” Smeared in black paint, mud, or oil, Jab is most recognizable because of the long plastic horns that adorn its head. The character, she said, represents the evils of the slave masters.
“They would be dancing on the street with European clothing on and so in essence the message they were sending is that the Jab Jab that they had encountered when they were a slave was a slave owner,” said Byam, an assistant professor in the Africana Studies department at Brooklyn College.
“You can go from island to island and see the Jab in various forms,” she explained. “You can see them sometimes blackened in European clothing, or you could see them blackened with chains around their neck and horns.” In addition to whips and chains, people portraying Jab might carry pitchforks, and can be painted in blue, red, or green instead of black.
Though not as common on the streets of Brooklyn as the Jab Jab, the Moko Jumbie is just as intriguing. The character derives part of its name, practice, and meaning from West Africa, as "Moko" is a healer in the Kongo language. Once the stilt-walking tradition made its way to the Caribbean, the Trinidadian people added "Jumbie," meaning ghost or spirit.
“They are the ones who are above the rest of us,” Bell said. “They’re the protectors of the village. They see from far. They can tell you something is coming.”
Moko Jumbie’s attire is as outlandish as can be. Not only are people usually on stilts, but they also wear extremely colorful clothing and creatively decorative headwear.
“He in some cultures is a shaman or a diviner,” Byam said. “When the slaves think about Moko Jumbie, they also think of him as a kind of spirit or ghost. He was on those stilts because he could sort of look over the crowd and protect the village.”
Bell said the Dame Lorraine character became a vehicle for criticism of the French aristocracy. Usually dressed in long ruffled dresses and gloves, and carrying a pocketbook and umbrella, the character is a “mimicking of the plantation owners' wives,” Bell said. “They also wear a wire mask with a European face painted on it. They wear hats with flowers, and they have enlarged breasts. It’s all in making fun of these European women.”
Byam agreed. “They are mimicking the idea of power and how we use power,” she said. “They would give themselves ostentatious names and parody the way the Europeans danced. These physical characteristics were comic-like, and it drew a lot of laughter.”
The meaning and context of the Baby Doll has changed over time, according to Byam. The character is dressed in frilly pink, white or purple dresses and bonnets, and carries a toy baby doll on its hip. “It symbolizes a child that was born out of wedlock,” she said. “And then the Baby Doll character would approach someone, particularly a man, and accuse him of being the father.”
“It's a mimicking of a tragic story,” Bell elaborated. “They're making a caricature out of a situation that's happened a lot during those times.”
While in the beginning Baby Doll was typically portrayed by men, Byam explained, the character more recently has emerged as a gesture of activism among women. “A few students of mine had sent me photos of themselves,” she said, “and they’re feminists who are out there using this as a sort of stage to speak about specific issues facing women.”
THE HISTORY OF BROOKLYN’S CARIBBEAN CARNIVAL, THE MOST COLORFUL EVENT IN NEW YORK CITY
POSTED ON WED, AUGUST 28, 2019 BY DEVIN GANNON
Every Labor Day, millions of people gather in Brooklyn to celebrate Caribbean culture at the West Indian-American Day Carnival. Since the early 20th century, the Carnival, which first got its start in the United States in Harlem, has brought together New Yorkers through beautiful costumes, music, dance, and food of the West Indies. Starting in the 1960s, the festival has taken over Crown Heights‘ Eastern Parkway, uniting many islands (Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Haiti, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and Grenda, Guyana, Suriname and Belize, and others) in one extravagant party. As one of New York City’s largest, and certainly most colorful, events, the Carnival should not be missed. Ahead, learn about the history of the parade, the traditions that thrive to this day and the details of this year’s festival.
While Caribbean immigrants to the United States settled in Brooklyn, where a vast and vibrant community remains today, many also landed in Harlem. During the turn of the 20th century, the Manhattan neighborhood welcomed thousands of islander immigrants. By 1930, a quarter of Harlem’s population was of West Indian descent.
Caribbean immigrants brought many traditions to New York City, including cultural celebrations. One Trinidad native, Jessie Wardell, started the Carnival in Harlem during the 1920s, hosting annual extravagant costume parties inside spaces like the Savoy and Audubon Ballrooms. The celebrations were modeled after Carnival, a worldwide event typically held in the winter, before Ash Wednesday. But unlike the celebrations across the Islands, New Yorkers had to celebrate indoors, as the city’s cold weather prevented them from comfortably partying outside.
Confining an extravaganza like Carnival to a room did not bode well for many celebrants. Wardell decided to move the celebration outside and she organized a street festival on Labor Day that ran along Lenox Avenue, starting at 110th Street in Harlem. The first known Carnival street parade in NYC occurred on September 1, 1947, and grew larger each subsequent year.
After a string of violent incidents, the city revoked the carnival’s permit in 1964. Five years later, Carlos Lezama established a committee, which later became the West Indian-American Day Carnival Association. Lezama and the association were able to gain approval for the parade on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, running along the same route used today.
The former president of WIADCA, William Howard, passed away last year after serving on the committee since 2014. “Bill’s leadership and guidance were indispensable to both of these true Brooklyn institutions, as was his role in strengthening the welfare and unity of the borough’s diverse African-American and Caribbean-American communities,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said in a statement.
Dr. Jean Joseph was elected in April as the new president for the WIADCA. Joseph said this year, the association is focused on safety and quality during the events. “To help accomplish this we have implemented a public awareness campaign reminding both masqueraders and masses that preservation of our culture and our parade is the key,” Joseph said, according to the blog Jay Blessed. “We continue to promote the idea that this is our culture and the parade is our stage, therefore, it is imperative that they are preserved for future generations.”
The highlight of the five-day festival, which kicks off the Thursday before Labor Day, is the dazzling parade, that attracts about two million paradegoers to the Crown Heights neighborhood. Thousands of participants dance down Eastern Parkway or travel via float wearing unbelievably elaborate costumes, decorated with rhinestones and feathers. The vivid costumes are prepared months in advance. The more spectacular, the more likely to win the cash prize.
Another vital piece of the parade is the music, adding to the playful and jubilant atmosphere. Visitors can hear Jamaican-style reggae, calypso from Trinidad and Tobago and soca, a spin-off from Calypso that features funk and soul. The sound of the steel drum, or steel pan, is most closely associated with the festival.
When the British government banned drums in Trinidad during the early 20th century, Trinidadians began using whatever other objects they could find to make music. They found that a dented section of an oil drum could produce a note, and as a result, steel drums were produced. At the Carnival, steel bands compete in the “Panorama” competition on the grounds of the Brooklyn Museum.
And the food. Oh, the food. Vendors line up on the sidewalks along the parade route hawking classic dishes from the West Indies. From meat patties and rice balls to fruit juices and rum punch, the culinary delights will never disappoint.
Many revelers also participate in J’Ouvert, which means daybreak in French, a predawn party that marks the opening of the Carnival. The origins of the celebration date back to slavery times and are based on masquerade balls of French settlers in the 18th century. Because slaves in Trinidad were banned from attending, once emancipated, they created their own carnivals, as a way to mock their masters and to celebrate newfound freedom.
While traditions vary among the Islands, participants, or “Jab Jabs,” of J’Ouvert typically smear paint and powder on their bodies and place horns on their head. Some dress as African warriors and devils and goblins, as they dance and move to the sounds of steel drums.
While tradition calls for J’Ouvert to begin just a few hours after midnight on Labor Day, the city in 2017 moved the start time to 6 am after a few violent incidents occurred over the years. And parade-goers are now screened for alcohol and weapons by the NYPD upon entering the route.
When is the parade?
Monday, September 2, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where is it?
The parade runs down Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, beginning on Schenectady Avenue and ending at Grand Army Plaza.
When and where does J’Ouvert begin?
The pre-parade party begins at 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. It runs on Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Empire Boulevard. The celebration moves right onto Nostrand Avenue and then turns and ends on Midwood.
What other events take place before the parade?
The WIADCA hosts a number of pre-parade events, featuring outdoor jam sessions from Afro-Caribbean bans, a junior carnival with live music and the steel band Panorama contest.
NY Carnival General Information
An end of summer Caribbean Talent showcase promoting performing arts and cultural diversity where all performances are welcome!
Brass Fest is a cultural/musical experience that incorporates musicians and artists from the entire diaspora. Previous Caribbean music Ambassadors include Tabou Combo, Kes the Band, Nailah Blackman, Teddyson John, Farmer Nappy, DJ Stakz and more. During this event we bring genres including Soca, Afrobeats, Reggae & Kompa to Brooklyn.
The Children's Carnival is a spectacle of Caribbean culture and artistry presented by children from ages 1 - 17 years. Portrayals in bright, beautiful colors of feathers and fabric, fitted sometimes of wire frames are presented by bands (groups formed consisting of participants from 10 to 100+). The children’s costumes capture the essence of the theme being portrayed by the band. These bands are accompanied by the sweet rhythms and sound of soca music which represent Caribbean culture.The parade starts at St. John's Place and proceeds through the streets leading to the Brooklyn Museum where the bands are then presented and judged.
Panorama Steel Pan Competition
The New York Panorama is the largest steel pan competition in North America. This annual steelband competition takes place in Brooklyn, New York every year during Carnival Week. The Panorama competition brings together participants from all around the world to compete against each other for the title of Champions.
Dimanche Gras showcases, Traditional Mas” which features characters derived from African folklore and memes from the plantation. These characters include “Dame Lorraine”, “Midnight Robber”, “Pierrot Granade”, “Jab”, “Babydoll” and “Bat” and “Ole Mas” which features characters dressed to make satire of some aspects of society – such as political heads, an incident that was prominently newsworthy.
Marie Pascale Affana: Giving back to Dominica is the least I can do
Aug. 17, 2022
A focused, determined, multi-talented young woman, who Dominica has embraced as one of its own, is committed to giving back to church, community, and country for as long as this is where she calls home.
Marie Pascale Affana from Cameroon, West Africa, came to Dominica in 2009 to pursue a degree at the All Saints University School of Medicine. She successfully completed her studies and is now a doctor of physiology and employed as a lecturer in the same subject.
Because she loves teaching, saying 'yes' to the job offer from All Saints was a no-brainer. However, Affana shared with The Sun that there was something else that made her stay.
"Being a Catholic Christian I firmly believe that we all have a mission," she said. "I pray a lot to understand what my next step will be, I listen to the Holy Spirit and I feel that God has directed me to stay in Dominica for my mission."
During her stint as a student, Marie got a better understanding of the country's residents.
"The people are generally very honest, kind, and look out for others. I remember the first time we went grocery shopping we forgot some items on a bus. The driver came back to our place to give us those items," Marie said. "We were so surprised."
She made sure to engage herself in the community and give of her time and talent, to have a deeper appreciation of life in Dominica.
"I am involved in church ministry, youth groups, and choirs. I am also the Director of the Sixth Form Sisserou Singers," she said.
Marie enjoys experiencing Dominica's culture as it is reminiscent of her Cameroonian heritage.
"Dominica is so rich with culture and I like the fact that culture is not too far from what I know back home," Affana said. "When you come here you see how the culture which has left the continent has been integrated and it is so beautiful to see."
Online information about Dominica was difficult to find while researching back in 2009. Marie revealed that one of the biggest adjustments, of moving here was the lifestyle.
"I would say it is closer to the western world and the diet consisting of a lot of meat and pies, whereas I am accustomed to more fish and ground provision," she said.
Another adaptation was leaving a large population of over fifteen million (at the time) and coming to a population of 70,000.
"The fact is many people know you. There is a lot of crossing in circles. It was different in a good way where most people would look out for you," Affana stated. Dominica is famous for its natural beauty and terrain, which Marie came to realize is a source of pride for the people.
"Of course, the landscape of the country. Cameroon has mountains and all that but Dominica, you have special mountains and a lot of activities are hiking," she said.
In her 13 years living in Dominica and making many good friends who have welcomed her into their families, Affana's impression of Dominica has changed for the better.
"It has been a very beautiful experience when you're in a place for all that time," she said. If you don't like the place you really wouldn't stay."
Her plan is to continue giving back to the country until she feels she has completed her work here.
"I will always be grateful for the fact that Dominica gave a lot to me and I feel giving back to Dominica is the least I can do. I want to keep pushing with the youth ministry at church," she said. "I am planning to push for a music education programme in my church that is going to launch this summer."
This vocal powerhouse, known for her hit songs 'My Baby Oh,' 'Bucket list', and 'African Prince', has also collaborated with the local Kompas band Xtasy and says music continues to be a strong part of her future and she only sees herself growing as a recording artiste.
-By Andrea Louis
House panel calls for cryptocurrency fraud oversight
By FATIMA HUSSEIN
August 30, 2022
WASHINGTON (AP) — A House oversight subcommittee asked regulators and industry leaders on Tuesday to explain what they are doing to stop cryptocurrency fraud and other scams perpetrated on consumers.
Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, head of the Economic and Consumer Policy subcommittee, asked leaders of the Treasury Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Federal Trade Commission for more information on the steps they are taking to curb the growth of fraud and consumer abuse linked to cryptocurrencies.
The inquiries come as the cryptocurrency market has seen immense volatility, as bitcoin lost nearly half its value at one point this year and other cryptocurrencies fell even more.
“Despite these vulnerabilities, the federal government has been slow to curb cryptocurrency scams and fraud. Existing federal regulations do not comprehensively or clearly cover cryptocurrencies under all circumstances,” reads one letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Five of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges were also sent inquiry letters, requesting documents on company policies regarding the removal of fake accounts.
A report on the impacts of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets on financial markets and illicit finance is expected to be released in the coming weeks. In March, President Joe Biden issued an executive order calling for several agencies to look at ways to regulate digital assets and gave them 180 days to do so.
On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned that criminals are more frequently exploiting vulnerabilities on certain decentralized finance platforms to steal cryptocurrency.
Several major legislative proposals were offered in Congress this year as well.
Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and John Boozman, R-Ark. have proposed a bill that would give the regulatory authority over Bitcoin and Ether to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. Stabenow and Boozman lead the Senate Agriculture Committee, which has authority over CTFC.
In June, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., proposed the Responsible Financial Innovation Act, which would create legal definitions of digital assets and virtual currencies; would require the IRS to adopt guidance on merchant acceptance of digital assets and charitable contributions; and would make a distinction between digital assets that are commodities and those that are securities.
Hi this is Mac. I am one of the moderators for this discussion. Congratulations Shawn on your new show on Yuwise Radio Network!