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News Round UP: Week Ending 8/27/16

Guyana

A comprehensive nationwide prison survey is expected to begin in Guyana in September with the aim of designing rehabilitation and social reintegration services for prison inmates.

The survey will be funded by the Inter-American Development Bank to the value of US$2.3 million through the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP).

The appraisal is part of the third component of the CSSP’s five-year programme. Project Manager of CSSP, Clement Henry says the aim of the survey is to capture information on the experiences of inmates’ lives prior to incarceration, during imprisonment, and those who are repeat offenders.

“The hope is that when we look at the information capturing what has been happening to these inmates and ex-inmates, we can be able to design programmes to target recidivism, and to also improve conditions in the prison. The pre-prison experiences will help us in terms of designing programmes to deal with ‘at risks youths’ so that they don’t end up in the prisons.”

Henry said the CSSP will begin crafting rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes on the preliminary findings.

“These preliminary data will help us as we move towards developing a comprehensive rehabilitation, reintegration service, so that is why this survey is of critical importance.”

The data-capturing period is expected to last six weeks with a preliminary report expected by the end of November. The final report is expected at the end of April 2017.

The survey – with more than 200 indicators, will sample the male population, but will likely have full census of the female population. However, high-risk prisoners are not expected to be a part of the survey.

The data collection will be implemented by the Tres de Febrero University of Argentina, in collaboration with the University of Guyana.

“University of Guyana’s role would be to capture the data, and the Tres de Febrero University’s role is to analyse the data and prepare and compile the report. They will also overlook the implementation of the survey by the University of Guyana,” Henry explained.

Henry expressed confidence in the Argentine university’s lead role based on their extensive experience in conducting prison surveys in the hemisphere.

“We feel confident that they will be able to do this task effectively.”

A 2015, United States, State Department Report on Human Rights had indicated that rehabilitation programmes within the local prison services did not adequately address the needs of prisoners. Overcrowding and the harsh conditions faced by inmates were also highlighted by the report.

More recently, a Commission of Inquiry into the prison riots of March 3 resulting in the death of 17 inmates pointed out overcrowding, and inadequate facilities as some of the shortcomings of the system.

Meanwhile, Henry said he hopes that the final report will generate intellectual presentations on the conditions of the prisons.

“They will make recommendations from these reports and the recommendations we can pull and we can utilise.”

It is also hoped that the survey will enable knowledge transfer to the University of Guyana.

“So we’re actually trying to improve scholarship in assessing what’s happening within our prisons and some of the factors that are driving our youths to being incarcerated,” Henry said.

–end—

 

Brazil

Despite Jamaica’s success at the Rio Olympic Games, Maurice Wilson, the team’s technical leader, wants to see policies implemented that will enhance the performances.

Jamaica finished with 11 medals, consisting of six gold, three silver and two bronze, and third on the athletics table behind the United States of America. The American scopped 32 medals inclusive of 13 gold, 10 silver and nine bronze, while African long distance powerhouses Kenya were second with 13 medals made of six gold, six silver and one bronze.

At the 2012 London Olympic Games, Jamaica garnered 12 medals with four gold and was again third behind the USA and Russia. In 2008, the medal tally was exactly as it is in Rio, but back then they were fourth overall.

“Well I think the Jamaican team performed extremely well throughout these championships,” said Wilson, who was in charge of the coaching staff.
Of the 63 athletes, 41 made their Olympic debuts which augurs well for Jamaica’s future when the proven stars like Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell Brown, Novlene Williams-Mills, to name a few, call it a day.

“We had quite a number of youngsters who made their debuts. Some persons felt that they could have done better, but I think the experience was very good for them. It will set the platform for Japan. I also felt that the senior members of the squad, they stood up to the task and they delivered,” Wilson pointed out.

“Overall, the management, the coaching staff and the medical staff did a great job over these two weeks, plus the two weeks that we were in camp. Overall having garnered 11 medals, six gold medals…more than we did in 2012, it simple states that we are at least maintaining our excellent performances coming from 2008,” he added.

“We just have to be prepared for the transition of our senior athletes and make sure that we have systems in place to fill the roles later on,” said Wilson.

Wilson, the man who formed the GC Foster-based Sprintec track club, pointed out that in every championship there would be challenges and the Rio Games were no different.

“I think there has to be some more guidelines in terms of how we operate in relation to our athletes. There must be guidelines that govern how they represent the country. There must be guidelines in relation to management and officials. There must be a clear distinction in terms of their responsibilities,” Wilson noted.

He continued: “These guidelines are guidelines that will help the team overall in terms of organisation and structure. From that standpoint, I think we need to improve, we need to have clear cut policies and stick to them”.

Wilson, who clearly had issues with how the relays squad members operated, said there must be rules implemented to avoid the repeat of certain things.

“They must understand that only four persons can run at any given point in time, and if six members are on a squad, the six members must warm up. They must understand that the six members must be at the track on time.

“The relay practice should be a must, repetition is the hallmark of study, irrespective of who thinks otherwise. These are things that must be put in place from a technical standpoint,” he reiterated.

Wilson has directed Jamaica’s team in the IAAF World Junior Championships in 2000, 2004 and 2006. He served a similar role at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, and Beijing in 2008, and in three previous World Championships in Helsinki in 2005; Osaka in 2007; and Berlin in 2009, and 2015 in Beijing.

Having been with a lot of these athletes, Wilson had mixed emotions with the expected last appearances of some of these athletes who might retire soon in the changing of the guard.

“It’s a happy [and] sad moment for me, because a lot of these athletes, I would have been travelling with them from the junior stage, and it’s obvious that within the next two years or so they may be deciding to move on,” he explained.

“I would like to think that the transition has begun. I think that we still need to put some more effort in terms of building the base from bottom up. But so far so good,” Wilson ended.

–end—

 

St Vincent/Sports

Guyana were crowned one-day champions of the Regional Under-19 Championship for the third straight year, when they easily brushed aside Windward Islands by five wickets in the final at Arnos Vale Stadium, last weekend.

Chasing 143 for victory, the Guyanese eased to victory with eight overs remaining, to build on recent successes in Jamaica last year and in Georgetown two years ago.

Middle-order batsman Bhaskar Yadram top-scored with an unbeaten 41, Raymond Perez got 24, while Sherfane Rutherford chipped in with 21.

Jonathon Taylor (2-16) and left-arm spinner Alick Athanaze (2-27) finished with two wickets apiece.

Earlier, the Windwards were disappointingly bowled out for 142 off 42.2 overs, after they were undermined by West Indies Under-19 seamer Keemo Paul (3-16) and off-spinner Looknauth Chinkoo (3-32).

Johnel Eugene top-scored with 42 and opener Emmanuel Stewart chipped in with 22, but the Windwards’ much vaunted batting machine found itself limited.

Sent in, the Windwards started poorly, recovered slightly but were then undone by a middle order slump to lose their way.

Anil Matthew fell without scoring to the second ball he faced in the opening over with three runs on the board and his partner Johann Jeremiah followed in the fifth over for eight to leave the score on 17 for two, with Paul claiming both scalps.

Stewart struck two fours in a 35-ball knock in adding 34 for the second wicket with Athanaze who made 18. But when both fell in the 15th over, a collapse ensued as four wickets tumbled for 36 runs to leave the side on 87 for six in the 28th over.

Eugene then came to his side’s rescue, striking two fours and a six in his 60-ball knock, while also adding 34 for the seventh wicket with Kassim Peltier (12).

In reply, Guyana got a decent start of 38 from Rutherford and Ronaldo Renee (7) before losing both in successive overs to stumble.

However, Perez and Paul (20) put on 35 for the third wicket to bolster the innings before Yadram took control of the innings to see Guyana home.

Yadram, a right-hander, faced 72 balls and counted five fours, and his 25-run fifth-wicket stand with Joshua Persaud (13) and unbroken 26-run, sixth-wicket partnership with Ronaldo Alimohamed (4 not out), calmed the nerves for Guyana.

–end–

Brazil

Rio de Janeiro returned to the cold reality of Brazil’s political crisis and recession on Monday, after bringing a carnivalesque curtain down on its Olympics festival and passing the torch to Tokyo.

After a 16-day extravaganza of sporting heroics from the likes of Olympics legends Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, Brazil woke up to the hangover of suspended president Dilma Rousseff’s looming impeachment trial and the country’s worst recession in more than eight decades.

Brazilians have mixed feelings on hosting the Games, according to a poll released on the final day, which found that 62 per cent think the $16 billion Olympics brought more harm than good.

At the same time, 57 per cent were proud the event boosted Brazil’s image abroad.

“There are doubts on the use of public money for events of this nature when there are other priorities, especially considering the economic crisis,” summed up Marcia Cavallari, the head of the firm that carried out the poll, Ibope Inteligencia.

Security fears, concerns over Zika, off-field scandals and organisational gaffes were relegated to the background as South America’s first Olympics ended in a blaze of colour late Sunday with an exuberant closing ceremony.

Smiling and waving athletes danced into the Maracana stadium, defying a tropical rain storm to launch an all-night party after Olympics chief Thomas Bach described the Rio Games as “marvellous.”

The city handed over to 2020 hosts Tokyo and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who arrived for the occasion dressed as Nintendo video game hero Super Mario.

But even as Olympics highlight reels continued to loop on Brazilian television, the nation’s attention began to shift back to the capital, Brasilia, where Rousseff will go on trial before the Senate Thursday on charges of fudging the national budget to make the numbers look better.

Rousseff, who denies breaking the law and condemns the trial as a “coup,” has paid a heavy price for the recession and a massive corruption scandal at state oil giant Petrobras — which is separate from her impeachment case but has stained the entire political class.

Interim president Michel Temer, her nemesis, is not faring much better.

Booed at the opening ceremony and harangued in the stadiums, he stayed out of sight for Sunday’s closing celebrations.

But memories of American swimming legend Phelps and Jamaican sprint king Bolt will linger after they set the 2016 Olympics alight.

Bolt, 29, made history when he sealed the sprint “triple triple” in his final Games, his third consecutive 100m, 200m and 4x100m sweep.

“There you go. I’m the greatest,” he said matter-of-factly.

It was Phelps who set the first week of the Games on fire when he took his unmatched career haul to 23 gold medals before heading into retirement at age 31.

In gymnastics, 19-year-old newcomer Simone Biles dominated the arena with her record-equalling four women’s gold medals and a bronze at her first Games.

A catalogue of outstanding achievements in Rio included Britain’s Mo Farah, who captured a “double double” in the 5,000m and 10,000m — despite tripping and falling halfway through the latter.

And the hosts got to revel in a priceless moment in the sun, fittingly in football. The men’s national team earned its greatest Olympic memory by winning the men’s gold medal.

Brazil celebrated long and loud when Neymar won the penalty shoot-out against Germany to erase memories of their 7-1 World Cup semi-final humiliation in 2014.

The United States topped the medal standings, matching their 46 golds from London four years ago ahead of Britain, who sealed a surprise second place ahead of China with 27 golds to 26.

Russia — with around half their team, including the track and field stars, banished from Rio following doping revelations — finished fourth with 19 golds.

Scandal also struck during the Games as police seized passports, phones and computers in a raid on the Irish Olympic office, following the arrest of Irish International Olympic Committee member and European Olympic chief Patrick Hickey over an alleged black-market tickets scam.

And American swimming standout Ryan Lochte and three teammates caused outrage when they falsely claimed they had been robbed at gunpoint in Rio by muggers disguised as police.

It later emerged the group had in fact been detained by security guards for drunkenly vandalising a gas station bathroom.

The fallout continued to pile up for six-time Olympic gold medallist Lochte yesterday as sponsors Speedo and Ralph Lauren both announced they were dropping him.

–end—

Jamaica

The Government is all set to implement a seven-year secondary level education policy at the start of the new academic year next month, six years after it was first mooted as a way to help students who need an additional two years to sufficiently develop their skills and acquire the qualifications to move on from high school.

Education Minister Ruel Reid announced the implementation of the policy last night in a national broadcast in which he also outlined broad aspects of the Administration’s Education System Transformation.

“Beginning this academic year, every Jamaican child will be able to benefit from seven years’ learning at our secondary schools. While some will move on at the end of five years, those in need of support will be able to benefit from quality offerings that will go a far way in enhancing their chances of becoming productive and responsible citizens,” Reid said in the broadcast.

“I want all schools to do well, and thankfully, we are getting to the point where we will be able to determine the value that individual schools are adding to our students,” he said.
According to Reid, the Ministry of Education has been engaged in an expansive programme of modernisation aimed at improving its systems, service delivery and, most importantly, educational outcomes.

“These measures are of utmost importance if we are to achieve increased productivity, acceptable levels of growth, development and prosperity, and reposition our country as the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business,” he said.

“Under the broad umbrella of Education System Transformation, we are in the final stages of re-engineering the Ministry of Education into a policy ministry with new operational arms.

“Under the modernised ministry, the central ministry will set policy, standards and provide system oversight, quality assurance and monitoring to ensure the faithful and effective implementation of policy,” the education minister added.

He said a Department of School Services will serve as the ministry’s operational arm, providing direct support to schools with its focus being school improvement.

“We have also devolved much of the ministry’s main functions into new agencies, each focusing on specific areas of the education portfolio,” he said.

“We are creating a more effective, more efficient and a more accountable education system through this re-engineering. Alongside this is a renewed emphasis on teacher quality, external quality assurance of our schools, as well as capacity building for educational leaders, and an increased focus on using data to inform decisions,” Reid added.

He said he would shortly provide an update on “significant legislative changes” that are being introduced to empower both schools and the education ministry to act in the best interest of students.

“We have already begun to see the positive results of these changes, and I am convinced that we are poised to do even better,” he said.

–end—

International

Zika may replicate in the vagina for several days after infection, researchers said Thursday after using lab mice to study sexual transmission of the virus blamed for serious birth defects.

Infection with Zika via the vaginal tract may be a robust source of infection “with potentially dire consequences,” said the study by a Yale University team, published in the journal Cell.

When pregnant mice were infected vaginally with Zika, the virus amplified and spread from the genitals to the fetal brain.

“We saw significant virus replication in the genital tissue, up to four to five days,” said Akiko Iwasaki, professor of immunobiology and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

When mice were infected early in pregnancy, scientists found evidence of the Zika virus in the fetal brain. Such infections were associated with fetal weight loss.

“Early during pregnancy, if the mother is infected, there is significant impact on the fetus, even in wild-type mice,” she said.

While findings of mice studies often do not directly translate to humans, Iwasaki said the findings shed some new light.

“The finding may be important for women, not only pregnant women,” she said.

“The vagina is a site where the virus can replicate and possibly transmit to partners. In pregnant women, vaginal transmission of Zika virus may have a significant impact on the developing fetus.”

Zika is believed to be transmitted primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, but sexual transmission is also possible.

There is at least one known case of a woman infecting her partner. Multiple other cases have been documented in which men spread the infection during sex to either male or female partners.

Zika has been found to persist in semen for as long as six months.

If a pregnant woman is infected with Zika, she faces a higher risk of bearing an infant with brain deformities, a condition known as microcephaly.

Pregnant women are urged to use condoms or abstain from sex if they live in or travel to areas where Zika is circulating, mainly in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Jill Rabin, a doctor and co-chief of women’s health at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York, described the study as “interesting.”

“Ascending infection from the vagina to the fetus in humans may provide a more direct route for infection,” she said.

“Consequently, this study may help provide a model to study the impact of therapeutic treatment of vaginal Zika virus infection during pregnancy.”

Tomer Singer, director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said the study “raises concerns about Zika becoming a sexually transmitted disease rather than just a virus that affects pregnant women.”

Viruses tend to replicate more readily in areas that are warm and moist, he added.

“More studies and larger ones — in non-pregnant humans — are needed to confirm or rule out these concerns, before we can give concrete recommendations to our patients.”

–end–

 

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