The Scottish Government is being handed greater autonomy over how millions of pounds worth of benefits are paid to hundreds of thousands of Universal Credit claimants.The Scotland Bill gives Scotland new powers to make changes over how Universal Credit is paid, which will eventually affect over 700,000 households across the country.The Scottish Government wants claimants to be given the choice of having their payments made twice a month rather than once a month, as the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) plan.We also want payment of the housing element to be made direct to landlords, for all new Universal Credit claims, where the claimant is renting from a social landlord.The Scottish Government is working with DWP to implement these changes.In Dundee for a series of events as part of the nationwide Fairer Scotland discussions, Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said:“People across Scotland are being asked how they think our country can be a fairer and more equal place to live. Having a social security system that is fit for purpose helps tackle inequality.“That is why it is imperative that devolution of new social security powers gathers pace and that we make Universal Credit’s expansion in Scotland easier for claimants.“We intend to use the administrative flexibilities offered around Universal Credit to do things differently and on Scotland’s own terms.“We want housing costs to be paid direct to social landlords for new claims and for people to have choice of having their payments made more frequently than monthly, from the start of their claim.“This will go a long way to ensuring that Universal Credit’s introduction in Scotland will be better suited to our needs and will give people more choice about how they manage their money.” AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInPayment revamp could help 700,000 households.
Graeme Wellburn28.10.15 AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInDumfries and Galloway Alcohol Drug Partnership along with Crew 2000 are organising four awareness courses throughout the region on New Psychoactive Substances. The purpose of the courses is to enable local professionals to define new drugs, identify the impact of new drugs and trends in drug use, identify the typical effects and side effects of the key substances in use, highlight the legal issues surrounding NPS and identify techniques to work with users, including harm reduction. The courses are half day and are being held in Dumfries, Kirkcudbright and Stranraer and will be attended by a range of different agencies who require information on New Psychoactive Substances.The training is being provided by Vikki Craik from Crew 2000 who states “This training is a half-day interactive presentation which introduces you to some of the most commonly used new psychoactive substances and gives information on how to identify legality and provide harm reduction advice to those who may take substances.”Dr Andrew Carnon, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Alcohol Partnership said “The use of New Psychoactive Substances is having a significant impact on most agencies including my own at the NHS. It affects a wide range of agencies from the general practitioner to the consultant at the emergency department. We fully welcome such courses which will allow attendees to enhance their knowledge of the potential impact of these substances and assist us in identifying the problematic issues to services and users throughout of region.”Chief Superintendent Mike Leslie, Police Scotland said “Dumfries and Galloway like many parts of Scotland is being affected by the use of New Psychoactive Substances. Police Scotland is looking at targeting the importers, retailers, and street dealers of these substances. We recognise we cannot solve issues connected with New Psychoactive Substances in isolation and understand the importance of working with all our partners. We welcome these localised conferences and hope this contributes to addressing some of the issues associated with the use of New Psychoactive Substances and substance use in general.”Detective Constable Scott Jardine, Substance Misuse Coordinator for Dumfries and Galloway Division of Police Scotland said “We are holding four training events in Dumfries and Galloway. These have proved overwhelmingly popular and are massively oversubscribed. As such we are looking to organise additional events in early 2016.”The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of New Psychoactive Substances, both nationally and locally, and allow services to combine and address any potentially issues collectively.The events are as follows:-Cornwall Mount, Dumfries 3 November 20115 9.30am-12.30pmCornwall Mount, Dumfries 3 November 2015 1.30pm – 4.30pmCouncil Chambers, Daer Road 4 November 2015 9.30am – 12.30pmKirkcudbrightTurning Point Scotland, Burns 4 November 2015 2.30pm – 5.30pmCentre, Stranraer
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInMore than 40,000 households and businesses across Dumfries and Galloway now have access to their fastest-ever broadband speeds – thanks to the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout.More local communities are now set to follow, with nearly 2,000 additional Dumfries and Galloway premises next in line for a fibre boost, thanks to the £410m Digital Scotland partnership, led by the Scottish Government. Other funding partners include the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund. BT is investing £126 million in the two projects, on top of its commercial rollout.Whether you own a business, work from home, research homework or keep in touch with friends and family, fibre broadband enables multiple users to connect to the internet and get better access to online services and faster uploads and downloads. Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable broadband connections at speeds of up to 80Mbps* and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from.To help explain the benefits this will have for the area, pupils from Langholm Primary School got a classroom with a difference when the Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase paid them a visit this week.The Digital Scotland team visited pupils from Langholm Primary on 16th February. During the visit, pupils were able to climb aboard the Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase, a unique vehicle which features all of the equipment used in the roll-out of fibre broadband.It includes kit which is now becoming familiar to members of the public – like the new green street cabinets – as well as some of the things they don’t often see, such as how fibre-optic cables are ‘blown’ underground.Head Teacher for Langholm and Canonbie Primary School, Lindsay Brown, said: “It was a pleasure to have the Digital Scotland team visit the school. It was a great opportunity for the children to see what benefits a fibre connection can provide, as well as the amount of work that happens when engineers install fibre broadband in an area.The children were excited by the possibilities that superfast broadband may offer and discussed how this might be of benefit to their school work in order to bring out their full potential.”Sara Budge, Programme Director for Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, said: “Many residents and businesses are now able to sign up for fibre broadband thanks to our programme, with more local coverage just around the corner. I also hope that all the children at the school enjoyed visiting our Digital Scotland Fibre Showcase and found it insightful in finding out what fibre broadband can provide and how it’s delivered“You can find out all about the rollout and the status of the street cabinet you’re connected to, and sign up to be kept in the loop for progress reports, at www.scotlandsuperfast.com.”New street cabinets to deliver high-speed services in Creetown, Canonbie, Dalry, Langholm and Stranraer are among the latest to go live. To benefit from the faster connection speeds, residents need to sign up for a fibre service with their chosen provider, as upgrades aren’t automatic.Meanwhile, engineers expect the first fibre connections to be available in smaller villages and communities such as Ardwell, Auchencairn, Bankshill, Cummertrees, Dundrennan, Haugh of Urr, Kippford, Kirkpatrick Durham, Kirkgunzeon, Kirkbean and Ringford, hopefully by this summer, as Openreach, BT’s local network business, continues work on the ground.Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Councillor Ronnie Nicholson said: “I am pleased that more of our smaller communities are in line for a superfast boost. I’m determined that everyone in Dumfries and Galloway will have access to digital services as well as the skills and confidence to go online and use them. There is still a lot of work to be done but this update shows progress is being made.”Liz Mallinson, BT Scotland’s Fibre Broadband Director, added: “We’re excited to be bringing fibre technology to more rural parts of Dumfries and Galloway, especially as it involves overcoming a major technical challenge in the shape of our historic EO lines.“We’re also urging local people to check if they’re among the thousands who can already get high speed services. There’s lots of competition in the broadband market, and people may be pleasantly surprised to discover they could be surfing at much higher speeds at a similar cost to their current service – Once you’ve tried superfast broadband, you’ll never look back.”Dumfries and Galloway Residents can check the interactive map on the Digital Scotland website (http://www.scotlandsuperfast.com/where-when/) to find out if they can get the service and further information is also available on Twitter @ScotSuperfast or Facebook at www.facebook.com/scotlandsuperfast
DJ Nicholas DJ NicholasTo give back to the community, the Metropolitan Baptist Church and Jamaican charity group Reclaimed Territory is hosting a spectacular Benevolent Concert, on Saturday, October 17th, starting 6:30 pm at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Hollywood, Florida.Featured artists include Claudius England, Kamiela “Candy” Isaacs, DJ Nicholas, Rondell Positive, Haldane Worrell, Abby McDonald, Jermaine Edwards, Comedian Sis P. and radio hosts Stacy Rose and Tanya A.Continuing the emphasis on youth and community engagement, this exciting concert will raise funds for the disadvantaged in Hollywood and care packages for unsupported young people incarcerated in Jamaica. Though attendance is free, attendee are invited to donate to this worthy cause.This concert is part of a month-long outreach tour of South Florida, providing donations and entertainment to children’s homes, juvenile detention centers, rehab centers, schools and churches. The tour will continue with their community outreach, partnering with Farmshare to provide free lunches and groceries to at least 250 households in Hollywood, as well as providing live entertainment, bounce houses, games and fun for the entire family.The Metropolitan Baptist Church has long served Hollywood through community outreach. To continue this goal, the Church chose to partner with Jamaican foundation Reclaimed Territories, which has provided valuable support to vulnerable youth at juvenile centers and prisons in Kingston, Jamaica and the UK.
Photo Courtesy of: Cruise Law News Government warns it won’t be business as usualYet another eastern Caribbean country has announced the implementation of measures to stem a growing crime scourge. This time it’s the twin islands of Antigua and Barbuda. The country’s Public Safety Minister Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin warned during a press conference yesterday that it would not be business as usual. Stronger legislationBenjamin said the anti-crime measures would include stop and searches, which will be increased in criminal hotspots. He also pointed to stronger legislation, more resources to the law enforcement agencies, enhancing cooperation between the police force, the army, the Organization of Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP), the Customs and Immigration Departments.Importation of guns to be tackledBenjamin said that X-ray machine facilities and K9 units will be installed at the various Ports of Entry to tackle the importation of illegal firearms. “Let me make this clear to all and sundry in this nation, the government has a zero tolerance to crime. Who does the crime, will pay and serve the time. We shall make sure that those two last words are enforced in the state of Antigua and Barbuda.” He said.Benjamin added that based on the records he has received, 12 suspected murders were committed in Antigua and Barbuda between the period February 12 and August 18, this year.
2017 property tax bills for Broward County mailed Broward County’s Records, Taxes & Treasury Division has mailed property tax bills for 2017 and payments may be processed starting November 1, 2017. Tax bills are also available to view, print, and submit online payment at broward.county-taxes.com starting November 1st. For taxpayers whose bills are paid by escrow arrangement, a courtesy tax bill copy will be mailed in mid-November.Property taxes must be paid no later than March 31, 2018 to avoid delinquency interest, fees, and penalties, but may be paid as early as November 1, 2017 to take advantage of early-payment discounts. Early-payment discounts for payments made in full are as follows: a 4-percent discount if paid in November; a 3-percent discount applies in December; a 2-percent discount in January; and a 1-percent discount in February. The discounted amounts that apply to each month between November and February are already reflected on property tax bill coupons. These discounts apply only to full tax payments. Making a partial payment of property taxes forfeits any applicable discount otherwise available for full tax payments.2017 tax payments can be made by the following methods:Online Payments at broward.county-taxes.com: Credit/Debit Card, or eCheck:Use the search function to locate the correct tax account then follow instructions for payment by credit/debit card, or eCheck. There is a non-refundable 2.55-percent convenience fee for credit/debit card payments. eCheck payments have no additional fee.Using Your Bank’s Online Bill Pay Service:Request a payment to the “Broward County Tax Collector” directly from your bank’s online Bill Pay service, and carefully enter your tax account from your property tax bill. There is no additional fee for this service. Only full payment of a single tax bill can be made with each Bill Pay request. Attempts to make partial tax payments by Bill Pay services may be rejected and not received by the Tax Collector. Only one tax bill can be associated with each payment. Attempts to make a single payment for multiple tax bills will be rejected as multiple tax accounts cannot be identified and your payment will be rejected and returned.By Mailing a Check:Please use the green return-envelope enclosed with the tax bill or mail payment to Broward County Tax Collector, Processing Center P.O. Box 849375, Hollywood, FL 33084-9375. Always include the tax coupon with the check and write the tax account on the check, or there may be delays or rejection of the payment. All check payments must be in US funds issued from a US bank account. The payment envelope’s postmark date is used to determine the applicable early-payment discount. If check payments are rejected or returned by your bank, the payment will be canceled, a return check fee will be charged, and discount deadlines will not be extended for substitute payments.In Person:At the Broward County Tax Collector’s Office, Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Ave., Room A-100, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 8:30AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday, except County holidays. All forms of payment are accepted.At any Wells Fargo Bank Branch located in Broward County:2017 tax bills (no delinquent tax payments) may be paid at any Wells Fargo Bank Branch in Broward County, until March 31, 2018. Tax payments made at Wells Fargo must be paid in full only (no partial payments), by check or money order paid in US funds issued by a US bank, and taxpayers must have their original 2017 tax bill to present to the bank at time of the payment. No credit, debit, or cash payments can be accepted by the banks for tax payments.Partial Payments:2017 taxes may be paid in up to five partial payments. Partial payments must be for a minimum of $100 and include a $10 processing fee. Partial payments forfeit all early-payment tax discounts that would otherwise apply to full payments. The final partial payment must be for the full remaining balance and paid by March 31, 2018 to avoid delinquency interest and fees on any remaining balance as of April 1, 2018. Partial payments cannot be made online or at Wells Fargo banks.For previous article on property taxes, visit the link: Florida homeowners could pay much less
KINGSTON, Jamaica – In the one month it took the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to completely spread across the Caribbean, several islands have successfully managed to contain the spread of the virus, while other islands are actively struggling.As of March 28, the region surpassed the thousand-case threshold with close to 1,100 cases of the virus with approximately 40 deaths. The Dominican Republic has been the hardest hit by COVID-19 as 50% of the Caribbean’s cases have been reported on the island, roughly the size of Georgia.The Dominican Republic confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 1 and the precautionary measures which followed were slowly implemented. Over two weeks after the first confirmed case, tourists were still being allowed to travel to the island. It wasn’t until March 19 that President Danilo Medina announced the closure of the island’s sea and air borders, but by then the virus has already began spreading throughout communities. Along with the slow government response, lawlessness of locals has contributed to the spread of the virus. The Dominican Republic has been under a national curfew since March 20, since which, more than 10,000 residents have been detained for ignoring the curfew.Other islands including Jamaica, Haiti and Puerto Rico have so far successfully managed to keep the number of cases relatively low. Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton has been lauded by several organizations and notable figures including the Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the US Ambassador to Jamaica, Donald Tapia for the island’s response to the virus. Jamaica, which now has some 30-odd COVID-19 cases including one death, has implemented several measures to contain the spread all while keeping residents informed with daily press conferences, COVID-19 websites, COVID-19 comic books for children, among other measures.As for regional travel restrictions, nearly all Caribbean islands have closed their borders to incoming passenger travel and encouraged the larger Caribbean diaspora to refrain from attempting to travel to the region until further notice.The Caribbean Turns To Cuba For Help While Cuba now has over 100 cases of COVID-19, the Caribbean has turned to the island for answers and assistance. Since the spread of the virus, Cuba health care “brigades” have been invited to assist medical workers in Jamaica, Grenada, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica. Barbados also recently announced a medical agreement with Cuba which will see the arrival of medical doctors and usage of related drugs.The specialized health teams which have included doctors, nurses and even therapists all adept in handling critical situations. Outside of the Caribbean, Cubans were also sent to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Suriname, and in Lombardy, Italy, one of the regions hit hardest by the coronavirus.But while Cuba, which has one of the world’s leading medical industries, springs into action to help the world, the United States has criticized the island’s seemingly great efforts. “Cuba offers its international medical missions to those afflicted with #COVID-19 only to make up the money it lost when countries stopped participating in the abusive program,” tweeted an account for the US State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, last week. “Host countries seeking Cuba’s help for #COVID- 19 should scrutinize agreements and end labor abuses,” the message said.Ironically, the United States is now at the epicenter of the virus, overtaking Italy and China, with over 120,000 confirmed cases.
In a statement yesterday, Ambassador of Jamaica Audrey Marks congratulated Scott on the achievement. Marks said the win for Scott signaled the high esteem in which members of the community held her. KINGSTON, Jamaica — Justice Jewel Scott has become the first Jamaican-American to win a seat as Clayton County Superior Court Judge in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. “That is a powerful statement about the regard and esteem with which you are held in your county. Jamaicans of your calibre – both in terms of personal character and professional standing – make it such a pleasure to be able to say that as Jamaica’s Ambassador in these United States of America, I represent a government and people but also a diaspora that embodies the highest qualities that go into making and building any great nation or society,” Marks said. “We salute you, as an outstanding example in both your personal life and in your professional life, creating history in so many of your endeavours, including as the first woman and first Caribbean-American district attorney for Clayton County,” she continued. Scott, former district attorney for the county, beat judge Kathryn “Katie” Powers in Tuesday’s election with 59 per cent of the votes. “It is with utmost delight that I congratulate you, Justice Jewel Scott, on your election this past June 9 as Superior Court Judge for the Clayton County Circuit in the Atlanta Metro area. It marked a historic moment making you the first Jamaican person so elected in the great state of Georgia,” Marks said. She added: “We also celebrate you as a special daughter of our educational system. As a pass student of no less an institution than the world-ranked University of the West Indies, Manchester High School and Montego Bay High School, you clearly have been influenced to prepare you for your achievements today. On behalf of the government and people of Jamaica at home and in the diaspora, I wish you every blessing and God’s guidance as you take your seat in the Superior Court of the Clayton County Circuit, Atlanta, Georgia.”
The transition to electric mobility could help Latin America and Caribbean countries to reduce emissions and fulfill their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change, while generating green jobs as part of their recovery plans from the COVID-19 crisis, according to a new study. Increased efficiency, lower operation and maintenance costs of electric buses, as well as growing public concern around the impacts of road transport-related emissions on human health and the environment, are the main drivers behind this transition in public transport, according to the study. The report was produced with inputs from the Latin American Association for Sustainable Mobility (ALAMOS) and contributions from the Center for Urban Sustainability in Costa Rica. Chile stands outs with the largest fleet of electric buses in the region, with more than 400 units, while Colombia is expected to incorporate almost 500 electric buses in Bogotá, its capital. Other Colombian cities, like Cali and Medellín, have joined Ecuador’s Guayaquil and Brazil’s Sao Paulo in introducing electric buses. More than 6,000 new light-duty electric vehicles (EVs) were registered in Latin America and the Caribbean, between January 2016 and September 2019, according to the report. The need for charging infrastructure has boosted new ventures and services. For example, e-corridors, already running in Brazil, Chile, México, and Uruguay, allow users to extend the autonomy of their EVs by making use of public fast-charging point networks. The report calls on decision-makers to prioritize the electrification of public transport, especially when updating the old bus fleets that run through the large cities in the region. There is fear of a “technology lock-in” over the next 7 to 15 years if authorities choose to renew old fleets with new internal combustion vehicles that will continue to pollute the air and cause severe health damages. Shared mobility businesses focusing on electric bicycles and skateboards are also being developed in at least nine countries in the region.The development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure has the potential to foster new investments and jobs, which are key to COVID-19 recovery efforts in the region. The 2015 Agreement, signed to date by nearly 200 countries, aims to keep the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The transport sector is responsible for 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean and is one of the main drivers of poor air quality in cities, which causes more than 300,000 premature deaths a year in the Americas, according to the World Health Organization. Some countries are already paving the way to ensure a transition to sustainable transport. Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panamá have designed national strategies on electric mobility, while Argentina, Dominican Republic, México, Paraguay are finalizing their own plans, according to the report. Electric buses for school in St. Kitts Though still a recent development, electrification of the public transport sector is happening at high speed in several countries in the region, says the study financed by the European Commission through the EUROCLIMA + Program and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and renewable energy company Acciona. The report calls on governments to develop a clear medium- and long-term roadmap that provides legal certainty for private investment and highlights the role of sustainable mobility in power grid expansion plans, in line with climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report, “Electric Mobility 2019: Status and Opportunities for Regional Collaboration in Latin America and the Caribbean,” analyzes the latest developments in 20 countries in the region and highlights the growing leadership of cities, companies, and civil associations in promoting new e-mobility technologies. “In recent months we have seen a reduction of air pollution in cities in the region due to lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But these improvements are only temporary. We must undertake a structural change so that our transportation systems contribute to the sustainability of our cities,” says Leo Heileman, UNEP Regional Director in Latin America and the Caribbean.
One such alien-species that has caused incredible concern to many countries in Africa is the armyworm. Imported from the Americas, the caterpillar has spread throughout the continent and ruined farmers’ crops – leaving government officials scratching their heads on how best to stop the problem. Image courtesy: Twitter One such alien-species that has caused incredible concern to many countries in Africa is the armyworm. Imported from the Americas, the caterpillar has spread throughout the continent and ruined farmers’ crops – leaving government officials scratching their heads on how best to stop the problem. Image courtesy: TwitterAlien species, intentionally or accidentally transported by humans between continents to regions where they are not native, are on the rise in Africa.Once out of a briefcase after a long-haul flight, or out the door of an international train, their spread within continents can be rapid – affecting the ecology as well as societies and the economy.One such alien-species that has caused incredible concern to many countries in Africa is the armyworm. Imported from the Americas, the caterpillar has spread throughout the continent and ruined farmers’ crops – leaving government officials scratching their heads on how best to stop the problem.But given the amount of goods and people that are transported to-and-fro daily, reducing the spread of these alien species is incredibly challenging.Reports suggest that the spread of alien species within Africa is increasing. Since 2000, more alien insect pests of eucalyptus trees have spread to other African countries from South Africa, than have been introduce from other continents. Experts are calling on governments to manage the spread of these species through co-operation and communication.In history, alien plants and animals that have been introduced to the continent from outer-regions have managed to spread from country to country – often having devastating effects.The maize-eating beetle – larger grain borer beetle – was accidentally introduced to Tanzania and Togo off the back of imported grain from Central America in 1981. It took only 20 years for the beetle to migrate to the wider-continent, and can now be found in South Africa.The beetle has attacked crops, much like the armyworm, ruining the food security and the livelihoods of many farmers in the effected regions.But experts point out that alien species don’t just arrive from abroad. Many that are native to parts of Africa have also spread to countries on the continent where they are not native.An example is the fish commonly known as the Mozambique tilapia which is native to rivers on the east coast of southern Africa. Fishermen have transported the Mozambique tilapia to other areas and it is now found in river systems in southern and western South Africa and Namibia.The Mozambique tilapia is a popular species for fishing but it can pose a threat to native fish and has been responsible for the disappearance of native species in some regions.Unfortunately, once a species is introduced to one African country, it’s highly likely that it will spread to others on the continent due to fragile border checks.Experts suggest that introducing biosecurity systems at country borders could help reduce the amount of alien species slipping into the continent.Biosecurity systems are currently used by Australia and New Zealand, countries renowned for being tight on importing alien species.Overall, experts say that the best countries can do to mitigate the threat of alien species invasion, is through close co-operation.