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C’bean tourism conference to focus on climate change, other ‘pressing’ issues

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KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — The Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) says some of the most pressing issues facing Caribbean tourism will be discussed at a regional tourism conference here in August.

The 2019 Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development, otherwise known as the Sustainable Tourism Conference (#STC2019) is scheduled for August 27-29 and will be held under the theme “Keeping the Right Balance: Tourism Development in an Era of Diversification”.

The organisers said the conference, which is being held in collaboration with the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA), will allow industry experts to address the urgent need for a transformational, disruptive, and regenerative tourism product to meet the ever-rising challenges.

“Caribbean economies are facing tremendous pressure to respond to changes that are impacting the business of tourism and innovations are required to address urgent matters such as climate risk, waste reduction, community involvement and the so-called internet of things,” says CTO’s sustainable tourism development specialist, Amanda Charles.

“STC 2019 will be pivotal in bringing to the fore such issues that impact on the future sustainability and growth of Caribbean tourism.”

St Vincent and the Grenadines will host STC amidst an intensified national thrust towards a greener, more climate resilient country, including the construction of a geothermal plant here to complement the country’s hydro and solar energy capacity and the restoration of the Ashton Lagoon in Union Island.

SVGTA chief executive officer, Glen Beache notes the importance of hosting the conference at a time when the United Nations is painting a grim picture of the earth’s natural life support systems, including its ocean life and natural ecosystems.

“The need for Caribbean destinations to find development models that lean heavily towards destination sustainability is essential and so we must pay careful attention to the way we plan, manage and market our destinations’ tourism development,” Beache said.

“St Vincent and the Grenadines is pleased to be hosting STC 2019, at a time when we are seeking to maintain the balance and maintain SVG’s reputation as an unspoilt destination”.

CTO said a primary concern and priority for the Caribbean is enforcing greater preparedness and resilience to climate change. Of equal importance are the changes in consumer consciousness which require the region’s tourism sector to be more astute as it relates to tourism planning and the management of resources.

Regional benchmarks and best practices in community-based tourism, financial technologies for medium, small and micro enterprises, business innovation and destination competitiveness will be in focus during the two days of discussion. Participants will also experience a full day of study tours to immerse themselves in local communities.

It said speakers will address ways the region can respond to challenges and opportunities presented by increasing competition, shifts in consumer demands and purchasing preferences driven by social media and networking platforms, the sharing economy, and financial technologies.

“The experts will explore how this can be done in a way that enhances local livelihoods through the creation of new, varied, and innovative tourism experiences using the natural and man-made assets of Caribbean society,” the CTO added.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Twitter details political ad ban, admits it’s imperfect

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Twitter details political ad ban, admits it’s imperfect

Saturday, November 16, 2019

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TEXAS, USA (AP) – Twitter’s new ban on political ads will cover appeals for votes, solicitations for campaign contributions and any political content. But the company quickly acknowledged Friday that it expects to make mistakes as individuals and groups look for loopholes.

Twitter is defining political content to include any ad that references a candidate, political party, government official, ballot measure, or legislative or judicial outcome. The ban also applies to all ads — even non-political ones — from candidates, political parties and elected or appointed government officials.

However, Twitter is allowing ads related to social causes such as climate change, gun control and abortion. People and groups running such ads won’t be able to target those ads down to a user’s ZIP code or use political categories such as “conservative” or “liberal.” Rather, targeting must be kept broad, based on a user’s state or province, for instance.

News organisations will be exempt so they can promote stories that cover political issues. While Twitter has issued guidelines for what counts as a news organisation — single-issue advocacy outlets don’t qualify, for instance — it’s unclear if this will be enough to prevent partisan websites from promoting political content.

Twitter announced its worldwide ban on political advertisements on October 30, but didn’t release details until yesterday. The policy, which goes into effect next Friday, is in stark contrast to Facebook’s approach of allowing political ads, even if they contain false information. Facebook has said it wants to provide politicians with a “level playing field” for communication and not intervene when they speak, regardless of what they’re saying.

Response to Twitter’s ban has been strong and mixed, with critics questioning the company’s ability to enforce the new policy given its poor history of banning hate speech and abuse from its service. The company acknowledges it will make mistakes but says it’s better to start addressing the issue now rather than wait until all the kinks are worked out.

Aside from ongoing concerns about foreign elections interference, the political advertising issue rose to the forefront in recent months as Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, refused to remove a misleading video ad from President Donald Trump’s campaign that targeted Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

In response, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, another presidential hopeful, ran her own ad on Facebook taking aim at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The ad claimed — admittedly falsely to make its point — that Zuckerberg endorsed Trump for re-election.

Over the past several weeks, Facebook has been pressed to change its policy. But it was Twitter instead that jumped in with its bombshell ban.

Drew Margolin, a Cornell University communications professor who studies social networks, said Twitter’s broad ban is a reflection that “vetting is not realistic and is potentially unfair”.

He said a TV network might be in a position to vet all political ads, but Twitter and Facebook cannot easily do so. While their reliance on automated systems makes online ads easier and cheaper to run, Margolin said it also makes them an “attractive target” for spreading misinformation.

Political advertising makes up a small sliver of Twitter’s overall revenue. The company does not break out specific figures each quarter, but said political ad spending for the 2018 midterm election was less than $3 million. It reported $824 million in third-quarter revenue.

Because of this, the ban is unlikely to have a big effect on overall political advertising, where television still accounts for the majority of the money spent. In digital ads, Google and Facebook dominate.

Unlike Facebook, which has weathered most of the criticism, Google has been relatively quiet on its political ads policy. It has taken a similar stance to Facebook and does not review whether political ads tell the truth.

Twitter, Facebook and Google have already taken steps to prevent political manipulation by verifying the identities of some political advertisers — measures prompted by the furor over Moscow’s interference. But the verifying systems, which rely on both humans and automated systems, have not been perfect.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Bolivia’s new leaders break ties with Venezuela

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Bolivia’s new leaders break ties with Venezuela

Saturday, November 16, 2019

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LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivia’s interim leadership says it has broken diplomatic ties with the Government of Venezuelan President Nicols Maduro and ordered Cuban medical teams to leave Bolivia.

The announcement yesterday represents a turnaround in Bolivia’s foreign policy following the resignation of Evo Morales, a socialist who quit after a disputed election that sparked massive protests.

Karen Longaric, the foreign minister of Bolivia’s interim Government, also said the country is leaving the Union of South American Nations, known by its Spanish acronym UNASUR. The group was set up in 2008 by Venezuela’s Hugo Chvez and other leftists to support regional integration efforts and counter US influence in South America.

Longaric also says Bolivia is no longer a part of ALBA, a regional group that espouses socialist ideology.

In the meantime, Bolivia’s interim leader says Evo Morales will have to “answer to justice for electoral fraud” if he returns home.

Jeanine ez made the comment during a news conference yesterday, a day after Morales insisted from asylum in Mexico that he remains the country’s legitimate president because his resignation was forced by the military and wasn’t formally accepted by Congress.

Aez was the top-ranking Senate opposition official when Morales resigned Sunday and says that the resignation of everyone else in the chain of succession left her with the presidency.

Morales left following massive demonstrations across the country alleging fraud in the October 20 presidential election — irregularities certified by a team of auditors from the Organization of American States. Morales had claimed victory in his bid for a fourth term in office.

ez said Morales “left on his own. Nobody threw him out.”

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Cuba medical programme becomes source of controversy

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Cuba medical programme becomes source of controversy

Saturday, November 16, 2019

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HAVANA, Cuba (AP) — A much-lauded overseas medical programme has become the focus of accusations that it serves as cover for fomenting protests against governments opposed by Cuba.

Cuba said yesterday that it’s pulling 700 members of its medical mission to Bolivia after the arrest of four members of the programme, which began under now-exiled President Evo Morales. The four were accused of fomenting protests against the Government that took over from Morales, a Cuban ally.

The end of Cuba’s 400-person medical mission to Ecuador was also announced this week, along with the accusation by Ecuador’s interior minister that Cuba misused official passports to bring in 250 Cubans during protests against President Lenin Moreno, whom Cuba also opposes.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro ended his county’s Cuban medical programme after taking office last year.

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