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Grenada to host major ICT conference in June

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Grenada to host major ICT conference in June

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (CMC) – Grenada will host the fifth regional meeting of the Caribbean Internet Peering and Interconnection Forum (CarPIF) that will focus on developing the Internet in the Caribbean by improving policy and building relationships between network operators and content providers.

The Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) and the Internet Society (ISOC), which are co-organising the June 12-13 event, say it will draw Internet giants like Facebook and Google to the region as well as policymakers, regulators, private sector leaders, and academics.

“This event presents an opportunity for Grenada and the region to showcase the steps being taken to accelerate Internet development in the Caribbean,” said CaribNOG executive director and co-founder of CarPIF, Bevil Wooding.

“In addition, the forum addresses the peculiar policy and regulatory challenges that have made Internet connectivity, access and affordability difficult in some Caribbean countries. Removing barriers to infrastructure development, content availability and Internet traffic distribution can have a significant and positive [impact] on Internet growth in the Caribbean, along with the benefits of economic development and social empowerment that follow.” he added.

CarPIF, launched in Barbados in 2015, was created to promote the development of Internet exchange points and greater regional and international interconnections between Internet service providers, content delivery networks and other content and network service providers.

“We will be building on the momentum of past meeting where major international Internet companies like Google, Facebook and Akamai have participated alongside our regional and national Internet service providers,” said Wooding, who also serves as the Caribbean outreach manager for the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN).

The organisers said that by staging CarPIF in Grenada this year, they hope to highlight how the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has been leading by example in the successful establishment of Internet exchange points in countries like Grenada, Dominica, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Increasing Caribbean interconnections requires collaboration and partnership among a diverse set of stakeholders,” said Brent McIntosh, the head of Regional IP Operations at Cable and Wireless.

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Saudi Arabia eases travel restrictions on women

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Saudi Arabia eases travel restrictions on women

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Saudi Arabia yesterday began implementing a landmark reform allowing women over the age of 21 to receive passports and travel abroad without permission from a male “guardian”, authorities said.

The reform, announced earlier this month, weakens the restrictive guardianship system that has long been a symbol of repression against women.

“The passport department has started receiving applications for women aged 21 and above to issue or renew passports and to travel outside the kingdom without permission,” the department said on Twitter.

Women in the kingdom have long required permission from their male “guardians” — husband, father and other male relatives — for these tasks, a restriction that drew international censure.

The reform comes after high-profile attempts by women to escape alleged guardianship abuse despite a string of reforms by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, including a landmark decree last year that overturned the world’s only ban on women drivers.

In other changes unveiled earlier this month, Saudi women were also granted the right to officially register childbirth, marriage or divorce and to be recognised as a guardian to children who are minors —same as men.

The reforms were widely celebrated in the kingdom, but they also drew backlash from arch-conservatives, many of whom shared old video sermons on social media by Saudi clerics advocating guardianship laws.

Some also denounced the change as “unIslamic” in a society that traditionally sees men as protectors of women.

The reform comes as the OPEC petroleum producer reels from low oil prices and seeks to boost employment opportunities for women — currently facing chronic joblessness.

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26-year-old determined to preserve Jamaica’s cultural heritage

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26-year-old determined to preserve Jamaica’s cultural heritage

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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More than 220 Jamaicans have been awarded Chevening Scholarships since it was first introduced in 1983. Chevening is the United Kingdom Government’s global scholarship programme that offers future leaders the opportunity to study in the UK. This year, 19 outstanding young Jamaicans were selected for the scholarships. Over this week the Jamaica Observer will share the stories of some of the 2019-2020 awardees.

 

IT was Jamaica’s first National Hero Marcus Garvey who said: “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots,” and this holds true for 2019/2020 Chevening Scholarship awardee Chantelle Richardson.

A special collections librarian at National Library of Jamaica (NLJ), Richardson will be undertaking a research-based fellowship on digitised archival material from Latin America and the Caribbean at The British Library.

When she completes her course of study, the 26-year-old, who is from Manchester, is determined to use her expertise to aid in the digital preservation of several Jamaican maps, manuscripts, newspapers, and photographs that are an integral part of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

“I am extremely passionate about preserving the nation’s irreplaceable cultural heritage, and I plan on using the knowledge and skills gained from the fellowship to tangibly digitise material unique to Jamaica and the world,” said Richardson, who describes herself as an avid reader and lover of all things Jamaican.

One of the major deliverables of this fellowship opportunity is to identify and liaise with a local partner institution to manage an Eccles Centre for American Studies-funded conference.

The theme of the conference will be based on Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) content, and will also include an element of training on applying to EAP for funding.

“I believe this will prove an essential step in helping to provide the necessary training for local bodies who manage cultural emblems,” Richardson stressed.

She also highlighted the fact that the NLJ houses the most extensive newspaper collection in the region, dating back to the 1700s, and the information on those pages is vital to the understanding of how life was in the past and how it can be made better for the future.

According to Richardson, the fellowship will also help to improve access to many resources housed at the NLJ and other regional institutions, through digitisation.

Richardson sees Chevening as an excellent medium through which young leaders, like herself, can come together to make meaningful changes in the society.

“My long-term objective is to aid the generation coming up to have a better appreciation for the contribution made by our forefathers and to actively engage in activities that will improve their lives.

“Upon returning to my country I also plan to execute a three-year developmental plan, which will engage persons in the library and information field, my community, and the wider society to improve the preservation of archival materials. In addition to the funded conference with training components, I will also strive to have information sessions, webinars, and social media campaigns aimed at preserving our cultural legacy,” said Richardson.

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Forest fires in Brazil surge as deforestation accelerates

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Forest fires in Brazil surge as deforestation accelerates

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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Sao Paulo, Brazil (AFP) — The number of forest fires in Brazil surged in the first eight months of 2019, official data show, as President Jair Bolsonaro faces growing criticism over rampant destruction of the Amazon.

Nearly 73,000 fires were recorded between January and August, compared with 39,759 in all of 2018, the embattled National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said late Monday.

That is the highest number of forest fires for any year since 2013 and follows two years of declines.

“What we are seeing is a consequence of the increase in deforestation seen in recent figures,” said Ricardo Mello of World Wildlife Fund (WWF)’s Amazon Program.

Forest fires tend to intensify during the dry season, which usually ends in late October or early November, as land is cleared to make way for crops or grazing.

The INPE figures show fires have been concentrated in States occupying the Amazon.

Thick smoke has blanketed several cities in recent days and even caused a commercial flight to be diverted.

The data comes as Bolsonaro faces growing criticism over his anti-environment rhetoric, which activists blame for emboldening loggers, miners and farmers in the Amazon.

Norway on Thursday joined Germany in halting Amazon protection subsidies, accusing Brazil of turning its back on the fight against deforestation.

The governors of nine States spanning the Amazon also published a statement on Sunday saying they would negotiate directly with the Amazon Fund contributors.

The latest INPE figures coincide with a United Nations (UN) regional meeting on climate change in Brazil ahead of December’s summit in Chile.

INPE is already in Bolsonaro’s crosshairs over data showing a surge in deforestation in recent months.

Bolsonaro dismissed the figures as lies and sacked the head of the agency tasked with tracking forest clearing.

Brazil leads the region in forest fires this year, according to the INPE data that is collected via satellite and updated in realtime.

Venezuela ranked second with 26,453 fires and Bolivia with 16,101.

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