CaribNews Round Up

US visa exemption rules in Republican crosshairs

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Congressional Republicans sounded an alarm Wednesday over rules allowing millions of Europeans to travel to the United States without a visa, warning that jihadists could exploit weak links in the program.The Islamic State and Al-Qaeda extremist groups “have incurred great losses in Syria and Iraq,” Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told a hearing on the security of the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

“Yet as the territory under their control shrinks, we are seeing an exodus of foreign fighters returning to their homelands,” he said.

House Republican Mike Gallagher pointed to deadly attacks in Paris, Brussels, Nice and Berlin as examples of why the US should increase its vigilance.

“The majority of these attackers were European citizens with valid passports, so it is easy to imagine any one of them gaining access to this country through a valid visa or through the Visa Waiver Program,” said Gallagher, who heads the Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry to the United States.

“While there are numerous benefits to our country that stem from our welcoming immigration system — like tourism, trade, and business — we should never cease to examine our processes through the lens of a terrorist in search of potential gaps.”

Millions of travellers from 38 wealthy countries, including 30 European nations, currently benefit from the exemption, which allows them to come to the United States for 90 days without having to go through a lengthy visa process.

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“Doc” on top- Chris Tufton Wins week two in Get Moving Challenge

Dr Chris Tufton who has taken the lead in combating non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Jamaica, has now taken the lead to win week two of the Jamaica Moves ‘Get Moving Challenge’. Dr Tufton amassed 104,000 steps last week (April 17-23).

The challenge uses 14 influencers to encourage Jamaicans to start taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle — using the power of friendly competition as motivation. For Dr Tufton, the friendly banter on social media and in the print media between the competitors including himself and Julian Robinson, is what drives the challenge.

Good healthy clean fun

“It is good, healthy, clean fun. I enjoy going the extra lap to get my 10,000 steps each day and even surpass that 10,000 steps,” he said.

Dr Tufton emphasised that the goal for the Ministry of Health, is to stem the growing NCD problem in the country, and the Get Moving challenge is one step in that direction.

“I think it’s (Get Moving Challenge) all good and if it encourages one Jamaican to engage in physical activity for their own benefit, then I think it will be well worth it,” Tufton noted.

Excited about winning week two of the challenge, he’s encouraging the other competitors and other Jamaicans to recognise the benefits of being physically active.

“We are here to work with you by just encouraging you. You can start your own challenge in your personal space- your home or at the playing field. There’s no major equipment required. The most important thing is 30 minutes of physical activity per day- running, walking, jogging, hiking,” Tufton said.

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Ian Boyne | The culture of corruption

It will take more than legislation, enforcement, changing processes, and institutional change to stamp out corruption in Jamaica. We have a culture of corruption. We have to tackle it at its root.

And there is an intimate connection between corruption and every major problem that we face in Jamaica. Professor Trevor Munroe, a master at making the connection between ideals and everyday reality, used the occasion of the heavy rains and its effects last weekend to drive home the point that “our citizens need to understand more fully that while heavy rains come from the vagaries of nature, aggravated by climate change, exceptionally heavy damage to roads and infrastructure largely reflects the impact of corruption; not the will of God, but the hand of man – of corrupt contractors and public officials”.

The National Integrity Action executive director was speaking early last week at the Commonwealth Caribbean Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies Conference in Kingston. He quoted from the auditor general’s December 2015 audit of the National Works Agency (NWA): “NWA records revealed that 36 subcontractors submitted inauthentic test results … . Further, between June 2013 and June 2014, the NWA detected 15 instances whereby contractors submitted false quality-control test results for material used in road construction and rehabilitation works. The unauthentic (sic) test results were related to projects with total project costs of $813 million.”

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