Thursday, December 26, 2013

UMOJA. Thursday, December 26, 2013. Christmas Deluge Brings Disaster to Eastern Caribbean

http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/12/christmas-deluge-brings-disaster-eastern-caribbean/





Christmas Deluge Brings Disaster to Eastern Caribbean

A cleric prays with Colleen James in Cane Grove, St. Vincent hours before it was confirmed that James' sister had died in the floodwaters. Her two-year-old daughter is still missing. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS
A cleric prays with Colleen James in Cane Grove, St. Vincent hours before it was confirmed that James' sister had died in the floodwaters. Her two-year-old daughter is still missing. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Dec 26 2013 (IPS) - Colleen James arrived in St. Vincent and the Grenadines from Canada two days before Christmas hoping to enjoy the holiday season with her family. Now she’s getting ready to bury her two-year-old daughter and 18-year-old sister.
“I never do nothing wrong. I always do good,” a dazed James told IPS as she looked out across the flood damage occasioned by a slow-moving low-level trough that brought torrential rains, death and destruction not only to St. Vincent and the Grenadines but St. Lucia and Dominica.
"We looked across and saw people floating down a river." -- Curt Clifton
Disaster officials have so far recovered nine bodies and the search continues for three more people reported missing and feared dead.
In St. Lucia, five people were killed, including Calvin Stanley Louis, a police officer who died after a wall fell on him as he tried to assist people who had become stranded by the floods.
The trough system resulted in 171.1 mm of rainfall within a 24-hour period ending at 8.50 a.m. on Dec. 25.
Trinidad’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar has requested that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) mobilise food and emergency supplies to be sent to St Lucia.
The CEO of ODPM, Dr. Stephen Ramroop, has contacted the Deputy Prime Minister of Saint Lucia Philip J. Pierre and received a list of items that were urgently required, including canned goods, biscuits, infant formula, water, mattresses, blankets, hygiene kits, disaster kits and first aid kits.
The ODPM expects tp ship two 40-foot containers to Saint Lucia by 1.00 p.m. local time Thursday.
No requests have come from the other affected islands as yet.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who has cut short his holiday in London, is due here on Thursday.
The body of 18-year-old Kesla James was recovered midmorning Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS
The body of 18-year-old Kesla James was recovered midmorning Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Credit: Desmond Brown     /IPS
Curt Clifton told IPS he was visiting a friend in the Cane Grove community on the outskirts of the capital, Kingstown, when they “looked across by the neighbour and saw people floating down a river” and rushed to their aid. They managed to rescue James and one of her daughters.
The floods have caused widespread damage in all three islands. Roads, bridges and in some cases, houses, have been swept away and the telecommunications companies, as well as public utilities, are urging patience as they assess the situation.
“We have seen quite an extent of damage, particularly from the gutters coming down, bringing a lot of debris on the road,” Montgomery Daniel, minister of housing, informal human settlements, lands and surveys, told IPS.
“It is going to take some time for us to clean it up. We are going to need the assistance of heavy-duty equipment,” he said.
Sixty-two people were left homeless in the wake of the flooding.
Health officials have also urged residents to be wary of diseases associated with the floods as in many cases pipeborne water has been disrupted.
Dominica’s Environment Minister Kenneth Darroux, a surgeon by profession, is hoping that the island’s plea to the World Bank for financial assistance will help the island better prepare in the long-term for the devastating effects of climate change.
Darroux is spearheading efforts by the Dominica government to secure 100 million euro from the World Bank to fund the country’s Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience (SPCR).
“Discussions are at an advanced stage,” Darroux, who now serves as minister of environment, natural resources, physical planning and fisheries, told IPS. The funds will be part loan and part grant.
Darroux noted that “the traditional climate change and environmental issues were not really producing the results that the government wanted,” adding that climate change should be viewed as a development issue rather than just isolated changes in the climate.
The World Bank-assisted programme is scheduled to begin in 2014 and will address key issues in various parts of the country. These include capacity-building for adaptation to climate change at a cost of 3.7 million euro; construction of storm drains at a cost of 5.2 million euro; agroforestry, food security and soil stabilisation at a cost of 6.0 million euro; and road works totaling 56 million euro.
Dominica has so far received 21 million dollars from the climate investment fund, 12 million of which is grant financing and nine million is “highly concessionary financing”, Darroux said.
The country also expects a further 17 million dollars from the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) and the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP), which is a regional project being undertaken by the World Bank which is running simultaneously with the PPCR.
“This investment package will seek to begin addressing the deficiency that was identified in the SPCR,” Darroux told IPS.
“I am confident that the implementation of this project will show the world that the people of Dominica stand ready to play out part in the climate change fight.”
The PPCR is a collaborative effort between Dominica, Haiti, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Each island has a national programme and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) serves as a focal point for the regional tracking of activities.
The issue of climate finance is a major one for Caribbean countries and several decisions taken at the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 19) in Warsaw, Poland, this past November are of particular relevance to the region.
The Adaptation Fund Board (AFB) reached its target of mobilising 100 million dollars to fund six projects. These include a project in Belize, which had been submitted by PACT, one of only two National Implementing Entities (NIE) in the Caribbean accredited to the Adaptation Fund.
The other NIE is in Jamaica, which has also received funding for its project.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was also operationalized at COP 19. Developed countries have been asked to channel a significant portion of their 100-billion-dollars-per-annum pledge for climate change through the GCF.
The Board of the GCF has been tasked with ensuring that there is an equitable balance of funding for both adaptation and mitigation. All developing countries are eligible for funding from the GCF.



UMOJA. Thursday, Dec 26: Contest winner Mandla Maseko set to become first black African in space

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/23/mandla-maseko-first-black-african-space

Contest winner Mandla Maseko set to become first black African in space

DJ from Mabopane township near Pretoria will be blasted 62 miles into orbit in 2015 after winning space academy competition
Earth
A view of Earth from space. Photograph: Nasa/Corbis
Born and raised in a township, Mandla Maseko has spent his life at the mercy of the heavens. "Once it rains, the lights go out," the 25-year-old said. "I do know the life of a candle."
But from this humblest of launchpads, Maseko is poised to defy the laws of physical and political gravity by becoming the first black African in space.
The DJ is among 23 young people who saw off 1 million other entrants from around the world to emerge victorious in the Lynx Apollo Space Academy competition. Their prize is to be blasted 62 miles into orbit aboard a Lynx mark II shuttle in 2015.
"It's crazy," said Maseko, the son of a toolmaker and cleaning supervisor. "It hasn't really sunk in yet. I'm envious of myself.
"I'm not trying to make this a race thing but us blacks grew up dreaming to a certain stage. You dreamed of being a policeman or a lawyer but you knew you won't get as far as pilot or astronaut. Then I went to space camp and I thought, I can actually be an astronaut."
He will be the second South African in space following Mark Shuttleworth, a white entrepreneur and philanthropist who bought a seat on a Russian Soyuz capsule for £12m and spent eight days on board the international space station in 2002.
Maseko's father, who grew up in such poverty that he got his first pair of shoes when he was 16, was determined that his children would never go hungry. Maseko and his four younger siblings were brought up in a simple brick house with access to electricity and running water. "I don't remember going to bed without having eaten," he said. "My dad provided for us. He is my hero, and then Nelson Mandela comes after."
The young Maseko's imagination was fired by the science fiction series Star Trek and films such as Armageddon and Apollo 13. "I thought, that looks fun. No matter what life throws at you, you can use it and come out on top. If you get lemons, you must make lemon juice."
Maseko does not drink or smoke, does not have a girlfriend and lives with his parents in Mabopane township near the capital, Pretoria. He enrolled as a part-time civil engineering student but had to drop out due to lack of funds. Then this year he spotted an advert for a chance to go into space. "I was in the right place at the right time and in the right frame of mind."
The competition required him to send in a picture of himself, so he got a friend to photograph him in mid-air after jumping off a wall. It also asked him to explain his motivation. "I want to defy the laws of gravity," he answered.
He was among three South Africans – one black, one white, one of Indian origin – selected from a field of 85,000 hopefuls. "We wanted to show SouthAfrica is way past the colour of our skin. We are the human race."
In the first week of December they went to the US to join more than 100 international contestants at a space camp in Orlando, Florida. The challenges included assault courses, skydiving, air combat and G-force training, building and launching a rocket, and a written aptitude test. The judges included the astronaut Buzz Aldrin. "I got to shake his hand three times," Maseko recalled. "I was like, oh, is this you? He said yes, it is me!"
Aldrin is among 12 people – all American, all men and all white – to have walked on the moon. But Africa has growing space ambitions: the majority of the Square Kilometre Array, the world's biggest and most powerful radio telescope, will be spread across South Africa and eight other countries on the continent.
Maseko, whose Twitter profile shows him in a spacesuit, is aware of his own symbolism nearly two decades after the dismantling of racial apartheid. "I'm a township boy and I'm doing this for the typical township boy who wasn't born with a silver spoon," he said. "I'll be the first black South African and the first black African to go into space. When you think of the firsts, the first black presidents – Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela – just to know your name will be written with those people is unbelievable.
"South Africa has come a long way. We have reached a stage where we are equal and we are one. Next year is the 20th anniversary of democracy and what better way to celebrate than sending the first black South African into space?"

Certification Process

We're Certifiable! Creating a Certification Program


    By Dave Lounsbury

Organizations develop certification programs when they want to create preference in the marketplace for certain types of people or technology. Certification validates the efforts of people who have invested their time and energy to learn how to implement a certain standard or best practice. And certifications are a very powerful tool for driving market adoption of a standard or skill set.

But how do organizations — including for-profit companies, nonprofit consortia and others — determine that they need a certification program in the first place? Moreover, what factors should an organization consider before putting a certification program together?

Key Considerations
There are a number of considerations an organization should undertake before setting up a certification program. The chief ones are the program’s foundation, scale, legal issues, pricing and the need to anticipate problems before they appear.
• Foundation: Building a strong foundation is crucial because, by their nature, certifications are intended to alter the way people buy and sell goods and services, so a solid sense of the program’s goal must be present from the beginning. The foundation should establish the standard competence level.
• Scale: When setting up a certification program, an organization should expect to interact with an entirely new set of customers and, if it’s a consortium, perform an entirely different set of services. The organization will be opening itself up to the possibility of interacting with anyone who wants to be in its marketplace, not just its existing members. Therefore, it must consider and anticipate the potential reach of its program and how far and wide it would like it to spread. The organization should consider some of the following questions: How large a program do we want to implement? How many people can we feasibly put through the process? Can we promote the certification to a larger group of people? Can we create and maintain a registry of who is certified?
• Legal issues: A robust certification program will offer legal guarantees of conformance. The end goal is for the organization to minimize legal risk while establishing a program that has sufficient teeth to impact the market. It can be helpful in this arena to use a third-party consulting group, since they typically have the experience and know-how to help ensure legal compliance.
• Pricing: An oft-overlooked consideration when establishing a certification program is pricing. Companies don’t want their programs to be priced too high because the certification should be as widely available as possible. Too low of a price, however, makes the program simply a rubber stamp and will not help people identify the right practices in the market — nor will it drive revenue for the organization.
• A mechanism for problem solving: During the certification process, an organization can most certainly expect a problem or two to arise. It could be that a vendor or piece of equipment did not pass a test. Perhaps there’s a problem in communicating the data to the certification agency. Or it could be that there is an issue with the underlying standard that makes the certification process imprecise. In other words, anticipate problems and exceptions to the rule! It’s extremely important that organizations have a mechanism in place to handle exceptions in a timely fashion.

Using Third-Party Providers
Given the above considerations, it may make financial and legal sense — as well as save time — to engage a third party to help set up your certification program. In addition to providing for a shared-cost infrastructure — whereby your organization benefits from pre-established processes used by other companies that have gone through the same experience — an independent, vendor-neutral third party also can help with planning for the evolution of the certification.

A certification must be able to stand the test of the marketplace and evolve over time. Feedback on how to evolve the program will most certainly come from the people who are implementing the standard and who work with it on a daily basis. This feedback is invaluable for growing and evolving the standard so that it continues to meet the needs of the marketplace. Organizations should plan to adapt the certification to the changing demands of the marketplace.

Methods of Certification
There are numerous ways in which organizations can execute certification processes. It all depends on what they are certifying and their market objectives.

For example, when certifying people — as opposed to technologies — the best programs often use a combination of written examination and in-person evaluation. This can be preferential over using a written test as it allows for a more comprehensive assessment and also takes into account experience gained over the course of an individual’s career.
On the technology side, certifying methods can range widely. A word of caution: When certifying technologies, people often get hung up on the complexity of the testing process. But it is only one component. When testing and certifying programs in the IT world, there are two salient facts to keep in mind:

1. No test has complete coverage. You can never test all of a technology’s tasks or possible interactions. The test will never tell you the complete story.
2.  It is impossible to test quality at the end of a manufacturing process. Quality has to be assessed throughout the process, and the earlier you start doing quality assessments, the less expensive it will be to deploy a quality product.

Companies should incorporate testing or conformance checks as far upstream in the development process as possible. The Open Group’s Collaboration Services branch has seen numerous examples of organizations using third-party testing to validate processes at the end of the development cycle. This hinders market adoption because when there are glitches along the way, you have to go back to the drawing board to weed them out. This ultimately slows down time to market and increases product cost.

Finally, bear in mind that it is more important that people agree to conform and stand behind the certification program or standard. The strength of that guarantee is always more important than the testing itself.

Benefits of Certification
The chief benefit of certification is simple: A certification program creates a preference in the marketplace for people who have taken the time to do it right. When people or organizations have invested in themselves, their skills and their experience, it pays off. For individuals in particular, becoming certified can be invaluable because it provides portable proof of their abilities.

Ultimately, developing a well-thought-out certification program helps an organization’s employees, customers and members advance the organization’s interests, as well as their own. It is arguably the best way to create confidence in the marketplace.


Dave Lounsbury is vice president of The Open Group’s Collaboration Services, which assists companies and organizations in creating and governing collaborations; guiding the development of standards; and the use of standards and best practices to impact the market  and improve operations. He can be reached at editor@certmag.com.

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BEMA International ONLINE STORE

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Mission is to increase the diversity of corporate America by increasing the diversity of business school faculty. We attract African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Native Americans to business Ph.D. programs, and provide a network of peer support on their journey to becoming professors.