• UNWTO, Tourism Ministers from the Americas Agree on Travel Relaunch

    Dominican Republic Minister of Tourism David Collado along with 15 more ministers and vice ministers of tourism of the Americas established partnership agreements and procedures for relaunching tourism in the region in a meeting called by the World Tourism Organization and led in its inauguration by Luis Abinader, President of Dominican Republic.

    Tourism leaders in the Americas committed to jointly addressing the reactivation of tourism, making the sector a priority and adopting international protocols. Additionally, they agreed to emphasize innovation and digital transformation, develop sustainable tourism and strengthen support mechanisms for workers and impacted companies.

    At the beginning of the meeting, the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Zurab Pololikashvili commended the way Dominican Republic has handled the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted that “reestablishing trust in travel is a key first step towards tourism recovery, bringing hope to millions of people in the Americas and igniting the economic recuperation in general.”

    In his welcome to the Tourism ministers and representatives from throughout the Americas, President Luis Abinader highlighted the role of UNWTO as a catalyst for innovation and synergies and called on those present to strengthen themselves as a shared destination and as a region through unity, determination, focus and joint vision.

    Reestablishing trust in travel is a key first step towards tourism recovery, bringing hope to millions of people in the Americas and igniting the economic recuperation in general

    Minister Collado stressed that the tourism sector generates employment opportunities for more than 500,000 families and contributes 15% of the country's Gross Domestic Product. Similarly, he endorsed the commitment "with the Dominicans, with sector partners and with the millions of tourists who are eagerly waiting to visit and know the beautiful destinations within Dominican Republic."

    Among the main topics of discussion included re-establishing confidence in travel, protecting businesses and jobs, and ensuring that the benefits of the tourism revival are felt beyond the industry itself. The working sessions were attended in person by ministers and vice ministers of Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela, and virtually by government officials from Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Nicaragua, and Peru.

    The meetings were developed with the coordination of the host country through the Ministry of Tourism of Dominican Republic, with the participation of representatives of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Association of Hotels and Tourism of Dominican Republic, among other sector organizations.

    The summit ended with attendees signing the Declaration of Punta Cana which sealed the commitment of the regional leaders to make tourism a pillar of sustainable development and ensure an effective recovery plan post-COVID.

  • US agencies publish Covid origin report

    The US intelligence community has been unable to determine the origins of Covid-19, and is split on whether it leaked from a lab or developed in nature, according to a new report. The report issued by the office that oversees the nation's 18 spy agencies did conclusively determine that it was not developed as a biological weapon.

    Experts warn that time is running out to gather evidence of its beginnings.

  • US call for religious freedom at UN General Assembly

    In a speech during the United Nations General Assembly, United States President Donald Trump announced a “global call to protect religious freedom.”

    His speech was the first time that a sitting US President has ever spoken on the issue of religious freedom at the UN.

    “Religious freedom is a fundamental right that all countries are called to protect,” said Kelsey Zorzi, ADF International’s Director of Global Religious Freedom and President of the UN’s NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

    “The President’s speech was an important and historic moment precisely because religious freedom is too often ignored or downplayed at the UN. At a time when persecution is on the rise and over 80% of the world’s population lives in countries with high restrictions on religious freedom, every country should make securing religious freedom a high priority.”

    The goal of President Trump’s speech was to highlight and broaden international support for religious freedom. He spoke of increasing attacks on houses of worship and religious sites.

    Over 150 foreign leaders, faith leaders, victims of persecution, and religious freedom activists attended for the President’s speech.

    Vice President Mike Pence also gave an opening remark.

    Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

    Religious freedom has become a central pillar of US foreign policy. In July 2019, the State Department hosted over 100 foreign delegations and 1000 civil society members during its second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

    President Trump also met with more than 30 victims of persecution in the Oval Office at that time. He was expected to raise the issue with multiple heads of state in bilateral discussions during high-level week at the UN General Assembly.

    The United States also hosted side events on the mass detention of Uyghur Muslims in China, and on the links between religious freedom and economic development.

    The 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74) opened in New York, on September 17, 2019.

  • US commemorate the end of slavery by recognising Juneteenth

    This week, US President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, which establishes a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the country.

  • US Oil and Gas Rigs in Operation Drop By 60% amid Pandemic

    The pandemic has drastically decreased demand for oil and gas globally and some producers have been forced to act. New data shows that as the demand dropped, most oil and gas rigs were shut down. Data presented by Bankr indicates that the United States oil and gas rigs in operation have dropped by 59.49% between February 2020 and November 2020.

    In February, the rigs were 790 while in November the number was at 320. The research also overviewed the weekly Brent, OPEC Basket, and WTI crude oil prices between 30 December 2019, to 7 December 2020. During the period, the OPEC basket dropped by 30.65% with the lowest price at $14.19 on April 20. WTI crude oil prices plunged by 25.81% while April 20 registered the lowest price at -$37.63. Elsewhere, the Brent price plummeted by 28.71% and the lowest value was on April 28 at $20.46.

    The drop in the number of US oil and gas rigs have historically followed changes in oil prices over an elongated period. However, the 2020 decline in rigs followed the dramatic decrease in the oil prices at a rapid pace. The rig count began to plunge in February, something that was reflected by the sudden loss of oil and gas demand globally due to the pandemic.

    The global oil consumption is mainly driven by the transport sector and in the course of the health crisis, authorities imposed lockdowns that grounded travel. A combination of falling demand, rising supply, and decreasing storage space led to a massive crude petroleum price drop. The negative price movement’s impact was significant on April 20 when crude petroleum traded at a negative price.

    The steady closure of rigs translates to less oil being produced. The closure continued across the year as producers ran out of space to store their extra oil with the crisis continuing to bite. At some point, the government intervened with President Donald Trump pledging support for the oil industry. Government storage facilities were opened, so that producers do not have to sell at a loss due to lack of storage. However, these measures appear to have had little impact on the sector. Furthermore, some rigs were forced to shut down as a safety measure for workers. This is after several facilities recorded cases of Covid-19.

    The closure was necessitated by the fact that most rigs have limited medical facilities, great distances from the mainland hence it could be devastating if they recorded cases of coronavirus. However, the emergence of a vaccine could reverse the fortunes of the sector.

    On the other hand, gas rig activity is known to decrease alongside the natural gas price.

    However, the decrease in natural gas prices began earlier even before the pandemic. Gas rigs have been impacted by the warm weather and relatively small withdrawals from storage during the winter which led to a sustained decrease in the gas price. After collapsing to worse levels in April, oil prices have partially rebounded following several response measures like the lifting of the lockdowns.

    Additionally, the steep response by OPEC and its partners are key in controlling oil production. The recovery in prices was driven by a reduction in production through the OPEC+ initiative. The group agreed to cut production by 9.7mb/d, which is about 10% of the global oil supply. In general, while oil consumption has risen from its lows in 2020 Q2, it remains well below its pre-pandemic level.

    Going into 2021, the pandemic’s full effect on the oil rigs and prices cannot be fully quantified. The crush might have a lasting impact on consumption due to changing consumer behaviour. In the long-term, the pandemic is likely to affect oil consumption as people cut on air travel for business with a preference for remote working. Working from home trends might also lower the gasoline demand. The future forecast in oil demand will also impact corporate investment decisions.

  • US tries to block Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as first African WTO head

     

    The appointment of Nigeria's ex-finance minister to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been thrown into doubt after the US opposed the moveA WTO nominations committee recommended the group's 164 members appoint Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. She would be the first woman and first African to lead the WTO. But the US, critical of the WTO's handling of global trade, wants another woman, South Korea's Yoo Myung-hee, saying she could reform the body. Ms Okonjo-Iweala said she was "immensely humbled" to be nominated. But the four-month selection process to find the next WTO director-general hit a road block when Washington said it would continue to back South Korea's trade minister.

     

    In a statement critical of the WTO, the Office of the US Trade Representative, which advises President Donald Trump on trade policy, said the organisation "must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field". Ms Yoo had "distinguished herself" as a trade expert and "has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organisation", the statement said. It added: "This is a very difficult time for the WTO and international trade. There have been no multilateral tariff negotiations in 25 years, the dispute settlement system has gotten out of control, and too few members fulfill basic transparency obligations. The WTO is badly in need of major reform."

     

    The statement did not mention Ms Okonjo-Iweala. Earlier, after a WTO delegates meeting to discuss the appointment, spokesman Keith Rockwell said just one member country did not support Ms Okonjo-Iweala. "All of the delegations that expressed their views today expressed very strong support for the process... for the outcome. Except for one," he said. Trump has described the WTO as "horrible" and biased towards China, and some appointments to key roles in the organisation have already been blocked.

     

    The WTO has called a meeting for 9 November - after the US presidential election - to discuss the issue. US opposition does not mean the Nigerian cannot be appointed, but Washington could nevertheless wield considerable influence over the final decision. Mr Rockwell said there was likely to be "frenzied activity" to secure a consensus for Ms Okonjo-Iweala's appointment. She has the support of the European Union.

     

    The leadership void was created after outgoing WTO chief Roberto Azevedo stepped down a year early in August. The WTO is currently being steered by four deputies.

     

    Ms Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as her country's first female finance and foreign minister and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank. She also serves on Twitter's board of directors, as chair of the GAVI vaccine alliance and as a special envoy for the World Health Organisation's Covid-19 fight.

     

    If Ms Okonjo-Iweala is eventually appointed she will have a full in-tray. The WTO is already grappling with stalled trade talks and tensions between the US and China.

     

    Earlier she said that her broad experience in championing reform made her the right person to help put the WTO back on track. "I am a reform candidate and I think the WTO needs the reform credentials and skills now.

     

     

  • Usdaw urges retailers to re-sign the Bangladesh Accord

    In April 2013, the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka collapsed killing over 1,100 workers, making it one of the world’s worst industrial accidents in the garment sector. The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety (the Accord) was established to ensure Rana Plaza never happened again. 

    It was a landmark agreement that ensured global fashion brands acknowledged direct responsibility for factory conditions by addressing buildings and fire safety. This led to improved safety in 1,600 garment factories employing more the two million people.

  • USVI not impacted by tropical weather system grace

    Business operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) are uninterrupted following the passage of Tropical Storm Grace, which has now been reclassified as a depression, over the weekend.

    The weather system brought rainfall, and had no impact on the Territory’s tourism infrastructure, the Department of Tourism reported.

  • Vaccine now available to protect African children against malaria

    Children across much of Africa are to be vaccinated against malaria in a historic moment in the fight against the deadly disease.

    Malaria has been one of the biggest scourges on humanity for millennia and mostly kills babies and infants.

  • Venice Court of Appeal confirms the full validity of the trademarks and rejects Ca' di Rajo's claim of non-infringement

    The Venice Court of Appeals recently delivered a judgment confirming the full validity of Bottega S.p.A.'s trademarks, protecting the distinctive features of the Bottega Gold and Rose Gold bottles, and dismissed Ca' di Rajo's claim of non-infringement, recognising the confusability with Bottega's trademarks of Ca' di Rajo's gold and rose mirrored bottles, and condemned Ca’ di Rajo to the payment ofthe full legal costs and expenses of the case. .

    This judgment confirms the similar judgment delivered at first instance by the Venice Tribunal, the previous decision in the precautionary phase and the subsequent appeal to the panel. It is therefore a win confirmed for four times.

    Specifically, the Venetian court, one of the most competent in our country, argued that the bottles' distinctive gold and rose mirrored colours are the primary element characterising Bottega Spa's trademarks. Therefore, neither the shape of the bottle, nor the label, nor any other graphic details are capable of eliminating the confusing effect of identical mirrors. Similar judgments have been delivered in the recent past by the EUIPO, the European Union Intellectual Property Office, and subsequently by the EU Court.

    The aforementioned judgment thus confirmed once again the distinctiveness of the trademarks, expressed by the worldwide diffusion of the brand to the extent that the so-called mirroring of the colours gold and pink have become the emblem of Bottega's trademarks. 

    Bottega has been designing bottles with mirrored colours since 2001, confirming a long and articulated career in which it has always demonstrated the utmost originality and extreme innovation, entrepreneurial characteristics which, together with a quality recognised over the years by almost 400 national and international awards, have made the winery and distillery in Bibano di Godega (TV) one of the most imitated companies in the world in the wine and spirits sector. The validity of the trademarks registered over the years has been recognised in Italy and in Europe by the various competent bodies.

  • Vice President Harris blazes a trail as a new dawn breaks in trouble US

    As President Joe Biden has stamped his own mark on the Oval Office with furnishings reflecting his own tastes and politics Kamala Harris smashed through one of America's highest glass ceilings as she became the first woman, first Black and person of South Asian heritage to be appointed vice president, as she blazes a trail in the most diverse White House ever.

    As running mate to the President’s Joe Biden, Harris, 56, enters the post having already forged a unique path, as California's first Black attorney general and the first woman of South Asian heritage elected to the US Senate.  Following the inauguration, the new Vice President tweeted; "A new chapter begins today.

    “Let's get to work" as she now becomes a heartbeat away from leading the United States.

    The 46th President of the USA, Mr Biden entered his new office to sign a series of executive orders hours in to his new lauded position; including signing 10 executive orders to tackle Covid-19 which has ravaged the US - Vaccination will be accelerated and testing increased. Emergency legislation will be used to increase production of essentials like masks.

    The president said it would take months to defeat the pandemic but America would "get through this" if people stood together. The moves come only a day after he was sworn in.

    With the president, aged 78, expected to serve only one term in office, VP Harris would be favoured to win the Democratic nomination in 2024, giving her a shot at more history-making -- as America's first female president.

    "While I may be the first woman in this office, I won't be the last," she said in a November speech, her first after US networks projected Biden and Harris as the winners over Trump and former vice president Mike Pence.

    On his way out of the White House, Trump left a note for his successor — continuing a tradition started by President Ronald Reagan in 1989. There was no word on the message said.

  • Viet Nam Pavilion's opening ceremony at Expo 2020 Dubai

    Nam Pavilion was held in spectacular fashion on October 1 at the Expo 2020 Dubai. Attending the event were Prof. Dr. Ta Quang Dong, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Mr. Nguyen Manh Tuan, the Ambassador of Viet Nam to the UAE; Mrs. Nguyen Phuong Hoa, Commissioner General of Viet Nam at EXPO 2020 Dubai, Director General of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and international guests including Mr. Omar Shehaded, Expo 2020 Dubai's Chief of International Participants, Mr. Graham Cooke, Founder and President of World Travel Awards as well as Ambassadors and Commissioner Generals, Pavilion Director of International participants especially ASEAN member states and ASEAN Secretariat at EXPO 2020 Dubai and many more. This year marks Viet Nam's seventh presence at the World EXPO under the direction of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

  • Vincymas takes over Port-Of-Spain

    The yellow, blue and green colours of St. Vincent & The Grenadines were hard to miss on Ariapita Avenue in Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago during the recent cultural promotion put on by the SVG Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) at T&T’s 2020 Carnival.

     

    At the event, representatives of the CDC as well as Vincentian Soca artistes were present to interact with attendees and passers-by on the popular T&T nightlife strip and to a TV audience through a live regional broadcast via entertainment network Synergy TV.

     

    This initiative gave the CDC contingent an opportunity to educate the masses about the various festivals and cultural activities due for 2020 on the destination of St. Vincent & The Grenadines which include ‘Vincymas’, ‘Union Island Easterval’, ‘Bequia Easter Regatta’ and ‘Bequia Music Festival’.

     

    Additionally, attendees at the Ariapita Avenue extravaganza had a chance to view video presentations on the upcoming festivals and were treated to pulsating performances by top Vincy artistes.

     

    Performing at the Synergy TV event were proud SVG ambassador and 2019 T&T Roach Champion Skinny Fabulous, Hance John, Casper G and 2019 Vincymas Road March Winner, Luta.

     

    CDC board members as well as other executives who represented Pan, Calypso and other facets of Vincentian culture revelled in the opportunity to promote St. Vincent’s one of a kind festivals set to the backdrop of T&T’s exciting Carnival season.

     

    The representatives collectively shared their pleasure at being in Trinidad & Tobago and invited its citizens as well as other tourists and festival lovers to come experience the splendour of SVG and all that it has to offer in this fun-filled year.

     

    The 2020 Vincymas festivities was due to happen from June 26th to July 7th.

     

     

  • Virtual Commemoration Symposium For Marcus Garvey’s 134th Birthday Anniversary

    The event will take place from 17-20 August 2021 @ 11.30 Jamaica Time 

    Purpose:This virtual indaba is organized to honour the memory and legacy of PanAfricanist Marcus  Mosiah Garvey and to reflect on his teachings and vision for a recreated Africa, that is the proud united home for African people wherever they happen to be. The get-to-gether aims at inspiring Africans to rethink and reposition Africa and Africans as an equal and respected member of the human family.

    The Context:  By way of background, Jamaica and South West Africa (now Namibia after independence in 1990) have had a long, brotherly and progressive relationship.  It all started in the early 1920s when the consciousness of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, an African born in Jamaica was captured by the plight, suppression and the largely unnoticed struggle of the black population in South Africa and South West Africa. This lead him to establish branches of the UNIA/ACL, first in Lüderitz, then Windhoek and Walvis Bay , the prominent centres for international trading in Namibia.  

    Fast forwarding to 1990, Jamaica was clearly among the most visible frontline countries  in the diaspora  that was absorbed in the liberation struggle and in the advocation in the UN and other international fora of Namibia’s plight under the wretched apartheid system of South Africa. Jamaica’s presence in Namibia’s pre-independent preparations, through the UN and directly, was equally prominent. In consequence, Jamaica became one of the few, if not the first country to welcome Namibia, signed MOU of deeper cooperation, and  opened its borders, free of visa to Namibians to live, study and work. 

    Relationship and its Progression: In appreciation, the Namibian President, Dr Hage Geingob in July, 2017 hosted Prime Minister Andrew Holness as the first Head of State or Government, from the Caribbean. During the occasion, Namibia and Jamaica renewed and extended the Cooperation agreement and  among things,  officiated at the renaming of a prominent street in the Capital city of Windhoek the honour of the Rt Excellent Dr Marcus Garvey.  The PM’s very productive week-long visit was followed up in 2018 by a delegation lead by Senator Williams, Mayor of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation who signed, among other things, a City-to City Twinning agreement and an MOU of cooperation. 

    A delegation to the KSAMC from Windhoek Municipality  lead by the Mayor, Dr Job Amupanda  is scheduled for mid September, 2021, during which time there will be an assessment of progress made on the MOU and adjustments made where necessary to improve and strengthen economic  cooperation and relations

    Garvey’s Lessons and Influence: This 134th Birthday of the Late Marcus Garvey is fitting occasion for our Continental and Diaspora celebration of this PanAfrican Legend.  And we are fortunate to have the presence of Garvey’s biological son, Hon Dr Julius Garvey and H.E. Dr Sam Nujoma, Garvey’s spiritual son who literally translated  translated  into action Garvey’s lectures and vision when he became Namibia’s first and  3-term President.   Dr Nujoma is alive, and very active as ordinary citizen No 1. He will be sharing  is memory of Garvey and the inspiration and wisdom which made him not only loved but an effective and respected national,  regional and Continental leader.

    The Theme for the 134th Birthday Commemoration event is African Unity – the Spinal Chord.  The spine and chord are reminders of what link the upper and lower body and the Notochord holds the spine and gives it its functionality.  The chord being the symbolism of Africa’s values, traditions, the culture, music, rhythm and spirit of community and Ubuntu hold everything in place and gives the body its functionality. If the spine is weak, the body is paralyzed  is unable to stand up the pressures that will come up.  The chord  is a reminder of our agility and resilience as a people  and of our distinct commitment to communal and community improvement as distinct from individualism and materialism.

    The Commemoration Event:  The first day of the virtual symposium August 17, is devoted to Garvey himself, reflecting on what he stood for and his vision for a United Africa that is prosperous and self-reliant. Some 10 international speakers of renown from the Continent and the Diaspora will share their perspectives. This first session will be followed by a multidisciplinary panel of experts discussants to contemplate the implications for all of us who share Garvey’s vision of a United and vibrant Africa. The following 3 days (18-20August) will have speakers on specific aspects that Garvey emphasized in lectures,  books and practice of what a prosperous, and Inclusive Africa should embrace through good leadership, governance and economics, education, science and technology, vocational and entrepreneurial skills for innovation,  effective value added production and strategic trade and the restoration of African’s sovereignty, dignity,  pride and belief in ourselves, and our rich legacy and future.

    The Bottomline:  At the end of the Session on Friday, a table of at least 4 resolutions with goals and targets will be developed and  tabled. It is proposed that we transmit to the secretariats of the AU six regions and copied to the Heads of State and Governments in all Regions and the Caribbean for their appropriate decision and action. These resolutions will be drawn from the each of the sessions. More immediately, a book will be produced to reflect and capture for posterity, the views, remarks and the collective wisdom shared at the symposium.

  • VIVA Cruises launches itineraries on the North and Baltic Seas

     

    VIVA Cruises launches itineraries on the North and Baltic Seas on board new expedition ship, MS SEAVENTURE

     

    River cruise specialist, VIVA Cruises, is launching four new itineraries on the North and Baltic Seas on board the company’s first ever expedition ship, MS SEAVENTURE. The new cruises will start in April 2021 and have a capacity for just 164 guests.

    MS SEAVENTURE, formerly MS BREMEN, was acquired by VIVA Cruises’ parent company, Scylla AG, from Hapag-Lloyd.

    MS SEAVENTURE’s maiden voyage, Springtime maritime experiences, will take place 18-25 April 2021, departing from and arriving to the German city of Bremerhaven. From here, the seven-night cruise will take guests to Wismar (Germany), famous for its historic old town; Stettin, Poland’s ‘green city’; Stralsund (Germany), with its unique location at a sound of the Baltic Sea; Copenhagen, capital of Denmark; Heligoland, Germany’s only offshore island; and Hamburg, Germany’s ‘Gateway to the World’. Prices start from €2,795 (approximately £2,470) per person in an outside cabin.

    The ship will then sail on three further seven-night cruises whose first and last port will also be Bremerhaven. These itineraries will be visiting iconic destinations such as Malmö and Gothenburg (Sweden), Kristiansand (Norway) and Sylt (Germany). Prices also start from €2,795 (approximately £2,470) per person in an outside cabin.

    To celebrate the launch, VIVA Cruises is offering a €350 voucher to be redeemed across VIVA Cruises’ European river itineraries in 2021 when booking a cruise on MS SEAVENTURE before 31 December 2020.

    As a small ship, MS SEAVENTURE has just 82 cabins and suites for 164 guests. It has been specially designed for its unique itineraries; its size will allow it to enter remote harbours, not to mention its maneuverability, enabling it to change course at short notice to observe animals and nature. A fleet of fourteen sturdy Zodiacs will enable guests to explore smaller ports and uncharted territories.

    Andrea Kruse, COO of VIVA Cruises, says: “We are delighted to launch this exciting new product and the first four itineraries to the UK market. MS SEAVENTURE will offer a truly unique small ship experience, taking guests to some of the most breath-taking scenery on the North and Baltic Seas.”

    All itineraries of MS SEAVENTURE will feature VIVA’s Checklist - the health and safety measures introduced in light of Covid-19 – and VIVA Cruises’ signature VIVA All-Inclusive product, which includes snacks, full board, high-quality alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, minibar, beauty products from luxury cosmetic brand, Rituals, and all tips and gratuities.

     

  • VJ Day 75

    Saturday 15 August 2020 VJ Day which marks 75 years since victory over Japan and the moment that finally brought World War II to an end.

    To commemorate this anniversary and remember those who served in the Far East, events will take place to highlight the significance of this anniversary and those who remember leaving home for an unknown country and an unknown enemy and how it feels to be known as the ‘forgotten army’ at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where a remembrance commemoration is taking place.

    With a national two minutes silence led by HRH The Prince of Wales the commemorations close at Horse Guards Parade in London where the story of all those that served in the Far East is told.

    Victory over Japan 75 years ago brought mixed emotions for those fighting in the malaria ridden jungles of the Far East. With the end of the war finally arriving relief, joy and sadness (at the human cost) was in abundance.

    Those who had fought on through the final three months, largely forgotten by people at home, could finally look forward to returning to their loved ones, and some sort of normality.

    But for many who had toiled for years in the brutal battlefields, or been prisoners, the end of the war didn’t mean the end of their suffering. The memories of what they endured and the loss of their comrades would live with them forever.

     

  • Volcanic eruption leaves Caribbean island St Vincent without power and covered in ash

    The Caribbean island of St Vincent has been covered in a layer of ash after a volcano began erupting there on Friday. There is major disruption for islanders who are without power or water supply.

    The eruption of the La Soufrière volcano has forced around 16,000 people to evacuate their homes. The Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has called for calm.

    People living on the nearby island of Barbados have also been told to stay indoors as the ash spreads through the air. The volcano was dormant for decades but started to become active in December. Scientists warn that eruptions could continue for days - or even weeks.

    The explosive volcanic eruption blanketed the island in ash and smoke and forced thousands of people out of their homes. La Soufrière, which has been dormant for decades, first started showing volcanic activity in December, but that increased.

    The Prime Minister urged the residents in "red zones" to evacuate as the volcano has been spewing dark ash plumes 6 km (3.7 miles) into the air. Ash fall has been recorded as far from the volcano as Argyle International Airport some 20 km away, St Vincent's National Emergency Management Organisation (Nemo) said.

    The volcano had been dormant since 1979, but in December it started spewing steam and smoke, and making rumbling noises. The first sign that an eruption was imminent came on Thursday evening, when a lava dome became visible on La Soufrière.

    That same night, Mr Gonsalves ordered an urgent evacuation of the surrounding area.

    Then on Friday, seismologists from the University of the West Indies confirmed that an explosive eruption was under way. Evacuees were taken to cruise ships and safer parts of the island.

    One resident, Zen Punnett, said that he saw "a huge ball of smoke", and that there was panic when people were first ordered to evacuate. "I can feel and hear rumbling here in the green safe zone... keeping calm as much as possible and praying," he added.

    Lavern King, a volunteer at shelters on the island, said: "People are still being evacuated from the red zone, it started yesterday evening and into last night. The place in general is in a frenzy." Inhabitants of the red zone constitute more than 10% of the country's population. Later on another explosion was recorded, the UWI Seismic Research Centre tweeted.

    Some evacuation procedures were hindered by the heavy ash fall, which had made visibility "extremely poor", Nemo said.

    "Now that the La Soufrière volcano has begun erupting explosively, ash falls will soon overwhelm us," the organisation wrote on Facebook, adding: "Be sure to get rid of or clean up the ash, soon after it falls. If rain falls, the ash could harden and pose a danger to you."

    Most of the Lesser Antilles islands are part of a long volcanic arc in the Eastern Caribbean. The last eruption, in 1979, caused more than $100m (£73m) of damage on the island.

    The worst eruption on record, in 1902, killed more than 1,000 people. Local media have also reported increased activity from Mount Pelee on the island of Martinique, north of St Vincent.

  • Walking With The Wounded Announces Final Team Embarking on the Walk of Oman

    Following a rigorous selection process which took place between 15th – 19th July, Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) is pleased to announce the final team participating in the Walk of Oman expedition.

    Formed of five ex-military personnel and one member still currently serving, all six of the team have physical or cognitive injuries and will tackle one of their toughest challenges yet, as they pull a custom-built cart weighing in excess of 300kg (around three times their own bodyweight) across the Omani desert.

    Starting on November 20th and ending on December 11th 2020 the team will take on an epic trek inspired by Wilfred Thesiger. Thesiger, a British military officer, travelled across the Arabian Peninsula in the 1940s, and the trek will see the team embrace the same hostile conditions in the Omani desert. The expedition will end on Oman’s Armed Forces Day.

    Highlighting the extraordinary courage of the men and women who have been injured, both physically and mentally, while serving their countries, the walk will showcase the need for continued support in aiding the transition from the Armed Forces into civilian life.

    Experiencing extreme temperatures as high as 95°F and trekking between 20 km to 22 km per day in what will be an unforgettable three-weeks of strength, determination and grit, the team facing the desert are:

    David Adams – David spent 13 years as an Aircraft Technician in the REME, serving in the UK, Afghanistan, Cyprus and Oman. David was medically discharged after a diagnosis of PTSD, following traumatic events whilst serving in Afghanistan.
    Sean Gane – Joining the British Army in 1986 as an Infantryman, Sean served for 12 years between ’86 and 2014, leaving and later rejoining. He served on operational tours including Afghanistan and served his last tour in 2009. It was during this last tour Sean witnessed many traumatic events and was later diagnosed with PTSD and hearing and nerve damage. He was medically discharged in 2014.
    Ben McComb - Ben joined the Army Reserves in October 2005 and served as a Private Solider until 2011, during which time he was selected for officer training. In 2011, he commenced regular officer training at RMAS and commissioned into the Royal Artillery. Ben has neural impingement and nerve damage in his lower limbs which is incurable. However, his condition is stable due to continuous self-rehabilitation management.
    Brian O’Neill – Brian joined the British Army in 1990 aged 17 and served in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Royal Military Police and Military Provost Staff Regiment. Brian served in 7 operational tours including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan and achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant during his 26 years of serving in the Armed Forces. He found the transition from military to civilian life exceptionally difficult.
    Andrew Phillips – Having served in the Royal Air Force from 1983 – 1993 as a Junior Technician, Andrew was injured in the build-up to the Gulf War and eventually received a medical discharge due to a spinal cord injury. Struggling with the transition from military to civilian life, he became involved in the Invictus Games which helped him regain focus and a positive outlook on life.
    Ashley Winter – Ashley served as a Challenger 2 Tank crewman serving in Kosovo and Iraq. He was diagnosed with Keratoconus ten years ago and has undertaken various physical challenges to inspire others.

    The final team of six were chosen following a five-day selection process in which they hiked across different peaks in Grasmere, Cumbria. With the walks varying each day from 5 km to 20 km, the team were able to test their physical capabilities, whilst walking in an unpredictable climate and across tough terrains.

    Ed Parker, CEO of WWTW said: “We are very excited to have been able to take all six candidates as part of the team from the selection week process. The team face an immense challenge ahead of them and each will be tested mentally and physically. Throughout the selection week process, each candidate embraced the task ahead and cemented the bond formed between them that will put them in good stead for the Omani desert.”

    The Walk of Oman is supported by The Duke of Sussex in his role as the official Expedition Patron, along with support from the Royal Office of HM Sultan Haitham bin Tariq and in partnership with the Omani Armed Forces. The team will be followed by a support team in case of emergencies during the course of the expedition.

  • What’s New In The Bahamas For August

    The Islands Of The Bahamas have once again proved to be a favorite destination for all types of travelers. The Bahamas was included in Travel + Leisure’sWorld’s Best Awards, featured in Bloomberg as the most visited destination by private jet and named the Top Meeting Destination in the Caribbean by CVENT. With exciting events in the pipeline, it’s no surprise The Bahamas continues to see visitor growth month-over-month.

    NEWS

    The Bahamas’ Impressive Start to 2019 –The July ForwardKeys survey showed international arrivals to The Bahamas increased 13.9% in June with arrivals up 9.4% in the first half of 2019. The forward booking situation for July to September remains positive, with bookings 9.8% ahead for international arrivals.

    Bahamian Islands Recognized in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards –The Exumas, Harbour Island and The Abacos were named some of the top islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda and The Bahamas in Travel + Leisure’s 2019 World’s Best Awards. The World’s Best Awards are among the most prestigious in the travel industry and are selected by the publication’s readers.

    The Bahamas Is The Leading Destination For High Flyers –In a study published by Bloomberg, The Bahamas was the top destination for travelers arriving by private jets. More than two-thirds private jet arrivals to The Bahamas originated in the U.S. or Canada.

    Nassau, Bahamas Takes Top Spot in CVENT’s Top Caribbean Meeting Destinations –Nassau, Bahamas was named the top meeting destination in the Caribbean and Latin America by CVENT. The list was compiled by analyzing meeting and event booking activity through CVENT.

    Atlantis, Paradise Island Welcomes The P1 AquaX Bahamas World Championship– November 8 – 10, 2019, Atlantis, Paradise Island will play host to the top 40 professional watercraft competitors, representing 12 countries for the P1 AquaX Bahamas World Championship. Additional festivities include a nearby Race Village with live music, local bands, food and activities for all ages.

    PROMOTIONS AND OFFERS

    For a complete, up-to-date listing of deals and packages for The Bahamas, visit www.bahamas.com/deals-packages.

    Bahamasair, Orlando to Freeport For $295.72Take advantage of Bahamasair’s Orlando to Freeport deal, visiting The Bahamas second largest city, for under $300 roundtrip.

    The Exumas Day TourExplore the beauty of the Exuma Cays on the 5-star rated Day Trip. The excursion takes guests to Staniel Cay, Compass, Cay, Thunderball Grotto and more. Save up to 25% with the code BAHAMAS2019 at checkout.

    Exuma Marathon 2019 at Grand Isle ResortStay at Grand Isle Resort for the Exuma Marathon on November 9, 2019 and save up to 35% on your reservation.

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

    Stay up-to-date with the latest events and happenings in The Bahamas: www.bahamas.com/events

    Goombay Summer Festival (August 11 – August 31)– Experience live Bahamian music, great local cuisine, authentically Bahamian Arts and Crafts, Junkanoo and lots more at the annual Goombay Summer Festival. Celebrate on Exuma on August 11 – 17, Central Andros on August 16, Long Island on August 24 and Eleuthera on August 31.

    Junkanoo Summer Festival at Smith’s Point (August 3 – August 17)– For three consecutive Saturdays in August, Freeport will vibrate with the rhythms of the goatskin drums, cowbells, brass horns and whistles as six Junkanoo groups compete against each other. The Junkanoo Summer Festival will feature Bahamian music, performances, demonstrations, Arts and Crafts and a kids’ corner of entertainment.

    Bahamas Hoopfest (November 27 – November 30)– Save the date: The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Thanksgiving Classic will be hosted in Nassau this year. This will be the first women’s basketball event of its kind to be hosted in The Bahamas. View fan packages here.

  • When Spider-Man Met The Pope

    In surely what must be the most unlikely meeting of 2021 so far, Pope Francis has just met Spider-Man himself.