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CaribNews Round Up

How Cuomo’s ‘free tuition’ could deepen the student-debt crisis

It turns out Gov. Cuomo’s headline-grabbing “free tuition” turns retroactively into a loan for grads who take jobs out of state — and that’s not the only ugly surprise.

The provision got tossed in at the last minute at the behest of Senate Republicans — whose upstate members worry about the “brain drain” of smart kids moving away.

Yet Cuomo went along, even defending the rule Monday: “Why should New Yorkers pay for your college education and then you pick up and you move to California?”

Well, that rule never applied to other Empire State support for higher ed, such as for cheap, quality SUNY and CUNY degrees.

Indeed, at under seven grand a year, these schools leave little reason for undergrads to go deep in debt — but it was ballooning student debt that prompted Sen. Bernie Sanders to start pushing “free tuition.”

Bizarrely, in all the months since the gov announced the plan, his minions never drew up a program with rhyme or reason. For example, while the cutoff to qualify ($125,000 in adjusted gross family income) sort of targets actual need, there’s no allowance for family size, expenses and other key factors.

So some taxpaying families who don’t qualify, though they’re actually higher need, will be subsidizing better-off folks who do.

The cutoff is also an all-or-nothing deal — which will leave families near it actually passing up income to stay qualified. (Junior, quit that summer job!)

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US-based tourism group praises Jamaica’s anti-harassment thrust

The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) has hailed Jamaica’s success in significantly reducing visitor harassment, saying it augurs well for future relations.

During a three-day, fact-finding trip to the island, the FCCA team led by President Michelle Paige said Jamaica has done a tremendous job in tackling the problem head-on, noting that there were clear signs that guests could move about freely without fear of being followed or badgered.

“What we have seen over the past three days during our visit to the main ports and also to some of the attractions has been truly amazing,” she told journalists at a media briefing at the Half Moon hotel, St James, on April 6.

She noted that “Jamaica, with all its natural beauty and wonderful people, has always been a very popular destination”.

“The problem is that a lot of the guests have either been complaining or have been reluctant to experience the product because of some of the things they had to go through. That was a major turn-off and certainly was bad for business,” she pointed out.

Paige also said that this threatened to derail the special relationship the FCCA has shared with Jamaica for over five decades.

Cruise officials, she indicated, remain unconvinced that the situation had changed, despite representation made by a high-powered delegation, led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, which visited Miami nearly six months ago.

“So we decided to come and see for ourselves; as the saying goes the proof is in the (eating of the) pudding. We decided to do something which we haven’t done in 20-odd years, and that is to take a high-level team on the ground in Jamaica to see what exactly is going on.

“We can safely say that we are leaving more impressed than we have ever been. If what we saw here over the past three days can be sustained, then you guys have every reason to be optimistic,” Paige stated.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett welcomed the FCCA delegation’s visit to get a first-hand view of the Government’s anti-harassment efforts, which he said “clearly have been bearing fruit”.

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Easter

Easter, which celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, is Christianity’s most important holiday. It has been called a moveable feast because it doesn’t fall on a set date every year, as most holidays do. Instead, Christian churches in the West celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21. Therefore, Easter is observed anywhere between March 22 and April 25 every year. Orthodox Christians use the Julian calendar to calculate when Easter will occur and typically celebrate the holiday a week or two after the Western churches, which follow the Gregorian calendar.

Easter is really an entire season of the Christian church year, as opposed to a single-day observance. Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection and penance and represents the 40 days that Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry, a time in which Christians believe he survived various temptations by the devil. The day before Lent, known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, is a last hurrah of food and fun before the fasting begins. The week preceding Easter is called Holy Week and includes Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honors the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection. The 50-day period following Easter Sunday is called Eastertide and includes a celebration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

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