Providenciales, 10 Apr 2015 – Once he is done with his presidency, Barack Obama promises to go Caribbean island hopping and the Turks and Caicos makes the list.
Barack Obama, US President: “You know on the second question, absolutely! (laughs) I’ll do some island hopping once I am out of office and you guys can show me all of the good places to go.”
Big move for a Turks and Caicos University of the West Indies student when she is a part of the White House hosted town meeting at the Mona Campus in Kingston, Jamaica. Katrina King-Smith was selected out of scores of young leaders by US President Barack Obama to ask him anything; she challenges him on how smaller states can be and remain viable economies and invited him to come to the Turks and Caicos.
“My name is Katrina King-Smith, I’m from the Turks and Caicos Islands my question is two part as well. Firstly in countries such as the Turk sand Caicos Island where our population is small and our main sources of revenue are tourism and foreign direct investment, I was wondering if you can suggest two ways that the government may better generate and regulate sustainable revenue, especially with regulations currently being put in place to close off shore financial centers. And secondly, I was wondering if after your term has ended, would you mind coming to the Turks and Caicos to visit?”
Royelle Robinson is president of the Turks and Caicos Student Association at UWI and last night told me, “We are definitely proud of Katrina for representing us so well! One of our aims as an organization is to make the Turks and Caicos known and educate our fellow members of the University of the West Indies community about the lovely country we call home.” President Obama explained to Katrina and the students at the meeting held yesterday at UWI, that the same issue cropped up in his CARICOM heads of government session earlier.
Barack Obama, US President: “Operating in the United States, employing folks in the United States, essentially headquartered in the United States and yet somehow their mailing address is such and such island where they have to pay no taxes. Those are the kinds of egregious concerns that we are trying to deal with, I think we try to take it on a case by case basis and in my CARICOM meeting that I just had, this issue was brought up and there were a number of leaders who brought up that they were being unfairly labeled as areas of high financial risk. What I committed to them, is we will examine their complaints and go through, in very concrete ways, where our concerns are and how our governments can work together.”
Today, all of those CARICOM leaders and US President Obama are in Panama for the seventh Summit of the Americas; historic as it is the first time Cuba will join the caucuses. Before, as a Communist country, Cuba was forbidden to join those meetings.
Omicron results in 267,000 case record for USA, eclipsing even Delta
By Dana Malcolm
#USA, December 31, 2021 – The US has broken its record for most daily coronavirus cases with a massive 267,000 cases recorded on Tuesday. The information was courtesy of data prepared by the New York Times about infection rates.
The Omicron variant now accounts for more than half of the cases in the country.
Information the Times released said, “The country is averaging more than 260,000 new cases a day, surpassing the peak levels from last winter. Infection rates are especially high in parts of the Northeast and Midwest. Though breakthrough infections are common with Omicron, scientists say vaccinated people, especially those who have received booster shots, have protection against severe cases and death.”
Despite the steep increase there is a silver lining. The same data that shows the increase also shows that hospitalizations and deaths remain at a steady rate and that rate is much lower than variants like Delta.
Amidst the drastic increase the Centers for Disease Control has slashed its recommendations for quarantine days in half, after which a COVID patient may leave quarantine without testing. There has been much controversy surrounding the issue with accusations of capitalism being slung toward the entity.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky defended the decision saying, “What we do know is about 85 percent to 90 percent of viral transmission happens in those first five days, which is why we really want people to stay home during that period of time.”
She said masks should be worn for five days after quarantine to prevent the final 10 per cent to 15 per cent of possible transmission.
Walensky did not explain the efficiency of a 10 quarantine vs the new five day quarantine or say if this was expected to lead to an uptick in cases.
Deadly Salad Mix Recall in US; TCI seems unaffected
By Shanieka Smith
#December 24, 2021 – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been investigating an outbreak related to packaged salads that have killed about three people, and 22 have been hospitalised due to fears over Listeria infection.
Recalls were made in Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Indiana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, and Massachusetts.
The brands recalled are Fresh Express, Bowl & Basket, Giant Eagle, Little Salad Bar, Marketside, O Organics, Signature Farms, Simply Nature, Weis Fresh from the Field, and Wellsley Farms Organic.
The CDC advised that anyone who has purchased the recalled items should discard them and properly sanitise their refrigerators to avoid contracting the associated bacteria called listeria.
Listeria may cause headaches, stiff neck, confusion, and fever.
Local grocer, Sunny Foods confirmed that the recall does not impact his store and it may be the same for others in country.
The TCI Government had not replied up to news time to a query about whether the recall affects this market.
TC Reef Fund gives a Financial & Projects Report
By Shanieka Smith
#TurksandCaicos, December 7, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, the local environmental non-profit, announced a successful fiscal year. Approximately $114,058 dollars was raised in 2021. The expenses of the organization, however, outweighed the revenues. For the fiscal year, it was about $128,984 dollars.
The largest source of revenue came from donations designated for specific projects. Nearly half of the fiscal year’s revenue came from individual donations and memberships. Don Stark, Chairman of the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, said the ongoing success of fund-raising contributed to hiring their first full-time Executive Director in 2021, Mrs. Alizée Zimmermann.
“I have been very happy to become a major part of the TCRF as the Executive Director,” said Alizée Zimmermann. “TCRF has accomplished so much since 2010 and I hope that we will continue to be a leader in environmental advocacy not only in the TCI, but also regionally. We are already considered a regional leader in the battle with SCTLD. I am also happy to say that in 2021 we have expanded our volunteer network to over 100 residents who donate their time to assist TCRF with our various projects. We could not accomplish the things we do without the support we receive from these generous volunteers.”
Since 2010, when the organization was founded, $1.4 million dollars have been raised without the government’s contribution. About $924,000, which is, 67 per cent of the money, has been used to support environmental projects in the TCI.
Its largest project, which started in 2012, is installing and maintaining dive and snorkel boat moorings. Stark said the project’s cost is now at 287 thousand dollars.
“That’s $287,000 that TCRF has essentially donated to the TCIG, since once we install a mooring in a marine park, it becomes Government property,” said Stark.
He added that over $43, 000 had been invested in education and outreach programs.
Alizée Zimmermann, Executive Director of the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, said they expanded their volunteer network to over 100 residents.
The Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease project, which dominated the expenses, came to almost $37,000. Also, moorings which were over $24,000 accounted for a large part of the project expense.
The third-largest project expense was the Smith’s Reef Rehabilitation and Improvements project. It was about $10,585 dollars for the year.
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