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Ex-lawyer blames Trump 'dirty deeds' as he gets 3 years

Donald Trump's former lawyer apologized Wednesday for covering up the «dirty deeds» of his ex-boss as he was sentenced to three years for multiple crimes including hush money payments implicating the US president. Pleading for leniency in a packe
Seychelles News Agency

Ex-lawyer blames Trump 'dirty deeds' as he gets 3 years

Donald Trump's former lawyer apologized Wednesday for covering up the «dirty deeds» of his ex-boss as he was sentenced to three years for multiple crimes including hush money payments implicating the US president. Pleading for leniency in a packed Manhattan courtroom before US District Court Judge William H. Pauley III, Michael Cohen said he had been led astray by misplaced admiration for Trump. An emotional Cohen, 52, Trump's longtime «fixer,» told the court he accepted responsibility for his personal crimes and «those involving the President of the United States of America.» Cohen's lawyers had argued for no jail time after he admitted charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York of tax evasion, providing false statements to a bank and illegal campaign contributions. Cohen also pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress -- a charge stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into whether Trump's 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia to get him elected. But Pauley said Cohen -- as a lawyer -- «should have known better» and sentenced him to three years in federal prison, ordering him to surrender to custody by March 6. He was also ordered to pay $2 million in fines and restitution. «Each of these crimes standing alone warrant considerable punishment,» Pauley said, adding that Cohen was «motivated by personal greed and ambition.» «A significant term of imprisonment is fully justified in this highly publicized case to send a message,» the judge said. Before Pauley passed sentence, Cohen addressed the court, saying it was his devotion to Trump that caused him to choose «a path of darkness over light.» «Today is the day that I am getting my freedom back,» he said. «I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen I deeply admired,» Cohen said. «I now realize there was little to admire,» he said. - 'Dirty deeds' - Cohen referred to a recent tweet from Trump calling him «weak,» saying his only weakness had been «blind loyalty» to his former boss. «Time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass,» he said. Among the charges against Cohen was making secret payments to silence two women threatening to go public during the election campaign with claims they had affairs with Trump. Cohen told prosecutors the payments totaling $280,000 to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal were made «in coordination with and at the direction» of Trump -- referred to by prosecutors as «Individual-1.» Both women have claimed to have had sexual encounters with Trump before he was the Republican candidate for president and prosecutors have characterized the payments as illegal campaign contributions intended to influence the election. «Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election,» prosecutors said. The payment to McDougal was funnelled through American Media Inc, publisher of the National Enquirer, and prosecutors announced following Cohen's sentencing that AMI had been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for its cooperation. Trump this week sought to minimize the importance of the payments to the two women saying they were a «simple private transaction» and were «wrongly» being called campaign contributions. «Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced,» Trump tweeted. «WITCH HUNT!» There was no immediate reaction from Trump to Cohen's sentencing. - Lied to Congress - While federal prosecutors said Cohen's cooperation was limited and selective, the Special Counsel's office said Cohen had «gone to significant lengths» to assist their investigation. Last month, Cohen acknowledged that he had lied to Congress about his contacts with Russia during the election campaign about building a Trump Tower in Moscow and the extent of Trump's own involvement in the negotiations. Cohen, wearing a dark suit with a light blue tie, arrived for the sentencing with his wife, son and daughter, who was walking with a crutch. Other family members were also in the audience including his 83-year-old wheelchair-bound father. For 12 years, Cohen was vice president of The Trump Organization, the umbrella company for Trump's real estate businesses, and one of the principal confidants of the New York billionaire. Investigators raided Cohen's offices and New York home in April, seizing stacks of documents and electronic devices. © Agence France-Presse

Nature Seychelles creates toolkit for coral restoration ahead of global meeting in Florida

A new toolkit to provide guidelines on how to complete a successful coral restoration project has been launched by Nature Seychelles, a not-for-profit environmental organisation. The launch coincides with the Reef Futures Symposium being held in Key Largo, F
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Nature Seychelles creates toolkit for coral restoration ahead of global meeting in Florida

A new toolkit to provide guidelines on how to complete a successful coral restoration project has been launched by Nature Seychelles, a not-for-profit environmental organisation. The launch coincides with the Reef Futures Symposium being held in Key Largo, Florida, in the United States from December 10-14.  The toolkit is based on a ground-breaking large-scale coral reef restoration project carried out by Nature Seychelles in the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The chief executive of Nature Seychelles, Nirmal Shah, said, “This is an opportune moment to showcase our efforts in Seychelles to the global coral reef restoration community. We want to share best practices, techniques, and tools, as well as challenges and lessons learnt to help others who might want to carry out similar work. Scientists who worked on the toolkit are attending the conference and will be on hand to discuss these efforts.«  The toolkit describes how to complete a coral reef restoration project using the ‘coral gardening’ concept.' It further illustrates the protocol used in the restoration, as well as guidance on appropriate design, logistics, and execution of the project based on experience and field-tested methods. The toolkit provides guidelines on how to complete a successful coral restoration project. (Nature Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY In 2010 Nature Seychelles -- a leading environmental conservation organisation -- embarked on the first large-scale coral restoration project in Seychelles following the mass coral bleaching as a result of the El Niño phenomenon of 1998. The Reef Rescuers project was funded through a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to combat climate change-induced coral bleaching in Seychelles. Choosing the coral fragments that had survived the destructive effects of the disruptive weather patterns brought about by the phenomenon, a group of marine ecologists embarked on creating an underwater nursery where nine different types of juvenile corals were planted and raised on ropes for almost a year, known as ‘the coral gardening’ method. »We explain the methods used in our coral reef restoration project and how we solved the problems encountered, using low-cost solutions with the limited resources found in a small island developing nation,” said Shah. In the Reef Rescuers project, the first to be done in the world, raised over 40,000 corals fragments in underwater nurseries and transplanted over 24,000 onto a 5,225-square metre of degraded reef -- the size of a football pitch -- at Cousin Island Special Reserve. The reserve is a 50-year old Marine Protected Area managed by the Nature Seychelles. A total of 23 staff and over 40 volunteer scientific divers from around the world helped to deliver the project. The toolkit was tested during the NGOs' first restoration training program. Participants contributed suggestions to the toolkit and have helped to cascade these field-tested methodologies, tools, and trained personnel to other areas across the globe. The new toolkit aims to be a companion for scientists, managers, practitioners and local communities who are facing a coral reef restoration challenge and require guidance.

7 steps that won the hotel L'Archipel an eco award in Seychelles

A tourism accommodation on the second-most populated island of Praslin, L’Archipel, has received for the first time the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label for integrating sustainability in its operations. L’Archipel -- located in the north-east region
Seychelles News Agency

7 steps that won the hotel L'Archipel an eco award in Seychelles

A tourism accommodation on the second-most populated island of Praslin, L’Archipel, has received for the first time the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label for integrating sustainability in its operations. L’Archipel -- located in the north-east region of Praslin at the end of the Côte d'Or Bay -- has 18 deluxe rooms, five superior rooms, seven senior suites and two family suites nestled in a colourful and exotically scented tropical hillside garden. SNA presents the sustainable tourism projects the hotel has embarked on.   Energy Management Systems (EMS) All refurbished rooms in the hotel have been installed with EMS Systems with intelligent occupancy detection to control the rooms’ energy consumption. Guest comfort has been improved, condensation and humidity dramatically reduced while achieving a 30 percent saving of the in-room air-conditioning energy consumption. 88,000 kilowatt-hours are saved per year thus reducing the hotel's carbon footprint. (Hotel L'Archipel) Photo License: CC-BY   Solar Photovoltaic Panels  The hotel currently has 244 Solar PV Panels with an annual production of over 108,000 kilowatt hours which saves about 28,850 litres of diesel fuel annually.  Not burning this fuel saves 76.8 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, the same effect as removing 16 cars from the road permanently. (Hotel L'Archipel) Photo License: CC-BY   LED Lighting  All refurbished rooms have been installed with efficient LED lighting reducing the rooms lighting energy demand by 80 percent.  (Hotel L'Archipel) Photo License: CC-BY   Innu-Science Biotechnology Cleaning - Green Cleaning The hotel has successfully implemented bio-technology cleaning in the restaurant and kitchen operations ensuring a hygienic and safe environment for guests and staff. The hotel has removed over 43,000 litres of toxic chemicals per year from their operation ensuring a sustainable future for the groundwater and ocean surrounding the property. (Hotel L'Archipel) Photo License: CC-BY   Ozone Wash Cleaning   The hotel effectively uses ozone cold water cleaning on their dishwashing machines to reduce their energy consumption per year.    The Last Straw Policy  In line with the national effort to 'save our seas', the hotel is no longer giving straws with drinks. (Hotel L'Archipel) Photo License: CC-BY   Food Waste programme “Don’t Waste, Eat” L’Archipel has embarked on the programme to reduce the amount of food being wasted. In doing, it is able to make savings and also reduce the amount of garbage pickup. This practice reduces carbon emissions related to transportation and decomposition at the landfill.  

Ankara train crash leaves nine dead, 86 injured

Nine people were killed and nearly 90 injured after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in the Turkish capital on Thursday, officials said, becoming the latest rail disaster to hit the country. The accident comes less than six months after 24 peopl
Seychelles News Agency

Ankara train crash leaves nine dead, 86 injured

Nine people were killed and nearly 90 injured after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in the Turkish capital on Thursday, officials said, becoming the latest rail disaster to hit the country. The accident comes less than six months after 24 people were killed in a train crash in northwestern Turkey in a series of several fatal accidents in recent years. Transport Minister Cahit Turhan told reporters that three of those killed were operators of the train. One of the victims died in hospital, he added. Amomg those killed was a German citizen, a source in the Ankara governor's office told AFP, confirming reports in German media. The Ankara public prosecutor said 86 people were injured. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca earlier said 34 of those injured were still in hospital for treatment. Two were in a serious condition, Koca added on Twitter. The fast train had been on its way from Ankara's main station to the central province of Konya. According to Hurriyet daily, there were 206 passengers on board. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said three people had been detained. In a speech in Ankara, he vowed those responsible would be held to account. The three were employees of the Turkish state railways agency who were detained over suspected negligence, according to state news agency Anadolu. Ankara governor Vasip Sahin said the accident happened «after the 6.30 high-speed train to Konya hit a locomotive tasked with checking rails on the same route.» - Debris scattered on tracks - Turhan said the accident took place six minutes after the train left Ankara as it entered the Marsandiz station. The governor said «technical investigations» were under way to find out exactly what caused the crash in Yenimahalle district. The capital's chief prosecutor launched an investigation into the crash, Anadolu said. Images published by Turkish media showed some wagons had derailed and debris from the train scattered on the track, which was covered in snow. The windows of one wagon were completely broken while another wagon had been smashed after hitting the footbridge, which also collapsed, an AFP correspondent at the scene said. The correspondent saw at least seven bodies taken away as rescue workers searched the blue and white wagons covered with debris. Turkish Red Crescent relief workers distributed blankets and tea to the survivors, who were gathered on a road near the scene that had been blocked to traffic. A female witness whose name was not given told NTV broadcaster that the passenger train had not yet increased its speed when the crash happened. A relative of one of those aboard the train told the channel that some passengers had broken windows and then safely exited the wagons. One of those killed was Berahitdin Albayrak, a science lecturer and former vice-chancellor at Ankara University, the institution said on Twitter. Later trains from Konya to Ankara and vice versa were cancelled. - Recent rail disasters - The Ankara to Konya high-speed route was launched in 2011 and was followed in 2014 with a high-speed link between Ankara and Istanbul. In July 24 people were killed and hundreds more injured after a train derailed in Tekirdag province, northwest Turkey, due to ground erosion following heavy rains. In March 2014, a commuter train smashed into a minibus on a railway track in the southern Turkish province of Mersin, which left 10 dead. In January 2008, nine people were killed when a train derailed in the Kutahya region south of Istanbul because of faulty tracks. Turkey's worst rail disaster in recent history was in July 2004 when 41 people were killed and 80 injured after a high-speed train derailed in the northwestern province of Sakarya. © Agence France-Presse

International Monetary Fund says Seychelles' economic development is on track

The Seychelles' economic development programme is on track and authorities remain committed to safeguarding the hard-won economic stability, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Monday. The statement was made after the completion of the IMF's second re
Seychelles News Agency

International Monetary Fund says Seychelles' economic development is on track

The Seychelles' economic development programme is on track and authorities remain committed to safeguarding the hard-won economic stability, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Monday. The statement was made after the completion of the IMF's second review under the Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI) for Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, on December 7, 2018. The review was conducted earlier this year and was led by an IMF delegation led by deputy chief Amadou Sy. The IMF executive board welcomes Seychelles’ assurance that the large infrastructure and climate change related projects planned in the coming years would be implemented within the fiscal targets set in the PCI. “Seychelles’ macroeconomic performance continued to be robust in 2018. Real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth is estimated to reach around 3½ percent, reflecting strong output in the fishery industry and the information and communications sector,” said Tao Zhang, deputy managing director following the board’s discussion. Zhang said that the Seychelles’ authorities are committed to the programme’s fiscal anchor of reducing public debt below 50 percent of GDP by the end of 2021. “The authorities’ 2019 budget submitted to the National Assembly is in line with the program objectives. The authorities intend to implement large infrastructure projects in coming years within the envelope of the program’s primary surplus target of 2½ percent of GDP,” he added. A proposed national budget of nearly SCR8.5 billion ($625 million) for 2019 was presented last month to the National Assembly by Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, the Minister of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning. It represents an increase of 6.6 percent compared to the 2018 budget. IMF welcomed the prudent monetary policy of the Central Bank which has helped contain inflationary pressures but said the bank should stay vigilant and maintain the flexible exchange rate policy. Following a meeting with the IMF delegation in October, the governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles,  Caroline Abel, said that inflation is occurring because  "since the last two years although revenue is going up, we are seeing that the expenses of the country are rising. This is why the pressure in prices is not going down. Our exchange rate is still depreciating because we are still demanding for foreign exchange.” The Central Bank had announced in September that it is maintaining the tight monetary policy stance.  IMF also commented on the steps Seychelles has taken to strengthen the anti-money laundering and countering of financing terrorism framework. The local Financial Investigation Unit announced in October that a proposed law to counter money laundering in Seychelles will be presented to the National Assembly early next year.  The bill has already been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. The new law will make it mandatory for all transactions valued above $14,000 (SCR20, 000) to go through the banking system IMF said that strong tourism earnings have helped narrowed the island nation’s external current account and that targets on the primary fiscal surplus and net international reserves up to end-June 2018 were met by a comfortable margin. “While rising international fuel prices could adversely affect inflation and external balance, the economic outlook continues to be favourable. Downside risks to the outlook are largely stemming from external shocks, including from possible weaknesses in the key tourism markets and global banks’ withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships,” said IMF. Seychelles is the first IMF member country to request a PCI which was approved by the executive board last December to support efforts to reinforce macroeconomic stability and foster growth.  

May faces angry MPs with Brexit deal in limbo

Prime Minister Theresa May faces an angry parliament Wednesday after delaying a key vote on her Brexit deal in a desperate move that leaves the agreement and her own future in limbo. The British leader toured European capitals on Tuesday in an attempt to sal
Seychelles News Agency

May faces angry MPs with Brexit deal in limbo

Prime Minister Theresa May faces an angry parliament Wednesday after delaying a key vote on her Brexit deal in a desperate move that leaves the agreement and her own future in limbo. The British leader toured European capitals on Tuesday in an attempt to salvage the deal, after MPs savaged its provisions on the issue of the Irish border. May said she wanted «assurances» from EU leaders that if Britain ever entered the so-called «backstop» arrangement for the border, this would only be «temporary». But she also said it was «the best deal available», adding: «There's no deal available that doesn't have a backstop». She received sympathy from EU partners but firm rejections of any attempt to reopen the agreement, which was approved by EU leaders last month following tortuous negotiations. «There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation but of course there is room, if used intelligently, to give further clarification,» European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said ahead of talks with May on Tuesday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was «no way to change» the deal after meeting May. Meanwhile EU President Donald Tusk said bloc leaders wanted to help the prime minister but added: «The question is how». - 'Down to the wire' - May on Monday told MPs she was postponing a critical vote on the deal scheduled for Tuesday, admitting that it faced rejection and promising to consult EU leaders in an effort to get additional reassurances on the backstop. She has said the vote will now be held before January 21. On her whistlestop tour, she also met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and is headed to Dublin on Wednesday for talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar before an EU summit on Thursday. «I doubt if she really knows what she's going to achieve,» said Pippa Catterall, professor of history and policy at the University of Westminster. Catterall said that May could be trying «to take it down to the wire... so in the end parliament is faced with the choice: my deal or no deal». After her weekly Prime Minister's Questions at 1200 GMT, May will chair her first cabinet meeting since she announced the vote delay where ministers will discuss stepping up preparations for a no-deal Brexit. If no deal is approved by parliament, Britain will crash out of the European Union on March 29 -- a prospect that could trigger economic chaos. - Government in 'disarray' - The main opposition Labour Party has said the government is in «disarray» but is so far holding off on pushing ahead with a no confidence vote to attempt to topple May. The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats, which are both anti-Brexit, have urged Labour to do so and are hoping this could lead to a second referendum. A few EU supporters within May's own Conservative Party are also calling for another popular vote, while Brexit hardliners are urging fellow Conservative to oust her. A lot will hinge on what the Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 MPs prop up the government, will do. The DUP have indicated they will not vote against May on a confidence motion for now but have demanded that she jettison the backstop. © Agence France-Presse

Maldives applies to rejoin Commonwealth: president's office

The Maldives has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth, reversing a policy of isolation under autocratic leader Abdulla Yameen who suffered a shock defeat in September. His successor, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, wrote to the 53-member bloc on Friday seeking readmiss
Seychelles News Agency

Maldives applies to rejoin Commonwealth: president's office

The Maldives has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth, reversing a policy of isolation under autocratic leader Abdulla Yameen who suffered a shock defeat in September. His successor, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, wrote to the 53-member bloc on Friday seeking readmission two years after Yameen pulled the atoll nation out of it, the president's office said Sunday. Yameen withdrew the Maldives, an archipelago of 340,000 Sunni Muslims, from the Commonwealth after it mounted pressure on him to protect human rights and ensure the rule of law amid a ferocious crackdown on dissent. Solih's office said the new president's administration believed in the values of the bloc, which consists mainly of former territories and colonies of the British empire. «The Maldives' interest in re-joining the Commonwealth stems from a deep conviction that the values and principles enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter are more vital than ever,» the president's office said in a statement. The 54-year-old took office last month after winning a landslide election victory despite Yameen waging a crackdown on his political rivals and jailing most of the opposition. The former British protectorate faced persistent international pressure during Yameen's iron-fisted tenure. The strongman accused the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat of interfering in the nation's affairs. During Yameen's reign, the United States had repeatedly warned democracy was under serious threat in the strategically-located archipelago sitting on key international shipping lanes. Since Solih's election, political prisoners have been freed and opposition figures in exile have returned home. Solih has warned of a «dire» economic crisis in the Maldives and asked regional power India for help. Yameen had drifted closer to China and the Maldives saw its foreign debt balloon under his leadership. © Agence France-Presse

New lounge with island flair opens at airport in Seychelles

AVANI Seychelles Barbarons Resort and Spa aims to enhance the experience of travellers going through the Seychelles International Airport after the recent opening of a new lounge.  The chairman of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, David Savy, said th
Seychelles News Agency

New lounge with island flair opens at airport in Seychelles

AVANI Seychelles Barbarons Resort and Spa aims to enhance the experience of travellers going through the Seychelles International Airport after the recent opening of a new lounge.  The chairman of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, David Savy, said that on average one million passengers pass through the airport of Seychelles each year on both domestic and international flights. “The demand for this facility is beginning to be felt and the AVANI’s lounge is among the largest in the airport, giving passengers even more choice in terms of lounge,” said Savy. The newly opened CIP lounge -- Commercial Important Person lounge -- is one of four at the airport and has the capacity to welcome 250 persons standing and 120 sitting. Called the CIP Payanke Lounge, after the Creole name of the white-tailed tropicbird, the lounge was officially opened on December 6. The tourism minister, Didier Dogley, said that he is pleased that such a name was chosen as it reflects the uniqueness of Seychelles. “It's a name that ties us to our history and even the carpet is shaped like a coco de mer. I'm sure this new facility will improve the airport in general,” said Dogley. The General Manager of AVANI Seychelles Resort Barbarons & Spa, Stephane Vilar, said the decoration of the lounge was meticulously chosen to incorporate different components of Seychelles. “We contacted local artists through the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry for products that are on sale in the lounge,” said Vilar. Located above the current domestic terminal at the airport, the CIP Payanke Lounge is open to all travellers. In the first phase of the project, visitors have access to a playing area for children, showers and a restaurant which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. at a cost of almost $40 for adults and $20 for children aged five to eleven. For lunch and dinner, guests can be served an array of salads, cold and hot dishes at $108 for adults and $54 for children aged five to eleven. A selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are also available. All meals are free for children under five. The lounge operates daily from 6 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. The second phase in the development of the CIP lounge will include a spa due to be operational in 2019. Savy said that once renovations which are currently being carried out at the airport are completed, the Seychelles International Airport will change completely and the domestic and international terminal will be merged into one. 

Seychelles expected to recruit more teachers from Zambia to address shortage

The Seychelles’ Ministry of Education is expected to recruit more teachers from Zambia to compensate for the shortage of teachers in state schools, said a top official on Monday.  The recruitment will be done through a memorandum of understanding that wi
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles expected to recruit more teachers from Zambia to address shortage

The Seychelles’ Ministry of Education is expected to recruit more teachers from Zambia to compensate for the shortage of teachers in state schools, said a top official on Monday.  The recruitment will be done through a memorandum of understanding that will be signed with the Zambian Ministry of Education. The principal secretary for early childhood, primary and secondary, Odile De Commarmond, told the press that this move will help the ministry in addressing a shortage of teachers. “For the time being, we have 46 vacancies available at the secondary level. However, it doesn’t mean that we are going to fill all these vacancies with teachers from Zambia only,” she said. De Commarmond added that “this is because there are some specific subjects such as religion, French and physical education which we do not require or cannot be taught by Zambians.” There are 35 primary and secondary state schools in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. Presently, there are 1,050 teachers, including 173 foreigners, working in state schools on the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue.  Early this year, the Ministry of Education took in a group of Zambian teachers to work in the educational sector, mainly at the secondary level.  “For these teachers, we are still looking at the pace of their adaptation to the system to see if there are any setbacks and how we can move forward,” said the principal secretary.   De Commarmond explained that for the Zambian teachers the first thing that the Zambian needs to adapt to “is the school curriculum as in their country they have their own examination system and they do not train students for International Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).” The Zambian teachers will be teaching science, maths, geography, information communication and technology (ICT), and design and technology which are subjects in Zambia’s educational system. De Commarmond said Zambia has offered to help because it has a surplus of professional teachers.   Apart from Zambia, the Ministry of Education is also recruiting teachers from Mauritius and is exploring possibilities with Fiji, Madagascar and Philippines.  

Somalia in crisis as president faces impeachment motion

Somalia was plunged into fresh political problems on Monday after a motion to impeach President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed for alleged abuse of office cleared a key hurdle. Parliament speaker Mohamed Mursal agreed late Sunday to accept the motion, signed by 9
Seychelles News Agency

Somalia in crisis as president faces impeachment motion

Somalia was plunged into fresh political problems on Monday after a motion to impeach President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed for alleged abuse of office cleared a key hurdle. Parliament speaker Mohamed Mursal agreed late Sunday to accept the motion, signed by 92 out of 275 legislators. The document accuses the president, commonly known as Farmajo, of violating the constitution «by engaging (in a) secret memorandum of understanding with foreign countries.» It specifies control over Somalia's ports «and uniting the country with Ethiopia and Eritrea.» The motion was filed a month after Farmajo met Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki for talks on cementing economic ties between their once-rival nations. The tri-nation diplomatic breakthrough was made possibly by a rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, engineered by Abiy. The impeachment motion will succeed if its sponsors muster support from at least two-thirds of the 275 legislators in the federal parliament. Observers say the target will be hard to reach, given the entrenched factionalism of Somali politics. A date for the vote has yet to be set. The two deputy speakers held a press conference to distance themselves from involvement in the impeachment motion. “The speaker rushed to receive this document, which gives us the feeling that he was angry with something,« said the first deputy speaker, Abdiweli Ibrahim Mudey. »We want to inform the public that our friend Mohamed Mursal will take responsibility for any consequences." Mudey added that, under the constitution, any impeachment motion should be scrutinised by a Constitutional Court, but the long-troubled country does not currently have such a tribunal. Farmajo was elected by parliament in February 2017 in a vote seen as a major step forward for a country devastated by years of civil war. Political life has been relatively calm since then, punctuated by a spell of turmoil earlier this year when Speaker Mursal's predecessor, Mohamed Jawari, quit in a power struggle with the government. Outside politics, regional conflict still grips the north of the country and al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists are pursuing a bloody campaign to overthrow the government. © Agence France-Presse

Seychellois basketball teams in the lead at regional club championship

Two teams from Seychelles are leading the Indian Ocean basketball club championship taking place in the island nation from December 5-11. Premium Cobras is first in the men’s category after winning all five matches. On the women’s side, Mont Fleuri is le
Seychelles News Agency

Seychellois basketball teams in the lead at regional club championship

Two teams from Seychelles are leading the Indian Ocean basketball club championship taking place in the island nation from December 5-11. Premium Cobras is first in the men’s category after winning all five matches. On the women’s side, Mont Fleuri is leading with victories in all three matches. The 14th edition of the Indian Ocean Club championship, which will end on Tuesday, serves as the qualifiers for the African Club Championships of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).   There are three foreign teams from the region participating in the event. On the Mauritian side are Mahebourg Flippers and Malagasy club COSPN in the men’s category and UCM from Comoros on the women’s side. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is being represented by the men’s league champion Premium Cobras and runner-up Beau Vallon Heat and Mont Fleuri -- the women’s champion -- and runner-up B Challenge.   Due to the low turnout, the tournament’s technical committee decided to have the competition played on the FIBA league format. Tony Juliette, the spokesperson of the Seychelles Basketball Federation, told SNA on Monday that usually the competition was played on a knock-out basis and ended in a final. “This year the format was changed and is being played like the Euro league format which each team playing against each other twice and the team with the most points in each of the two categories at the end wins the title,” said Juliette. Three matches are on the programme for Tuesday at the Palais de sports at Roche Caiman. In the men’s category, at 3 p.m. Mauritian Mahebourg Flippers will face Beau Vallon Heat and at 7 p.m. Premium Cobras will meet COSPN Madagascar. In the women's category, only one match is left and that will be played at 5 p.m. between the two Seychelles sides B Challenge and Mont Fleuri.   

Heavy screen time appears to impact childrens' brains: study

Researchers have found «different patterns» in brain scans among children who record heavy smart device and video game use, according to initial data from a major ongoing US study. The first wave of information from the $300 million National Inst
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Heavy screen time appears to impact childrens' brains: study

Researchers have found «different patterns» in brain scans among children who record heavy smart device and video game use, according to initial data from a major ongoing US study. The first wave of information from the $300 million National Institute of Health (NIH) study is showing that those nine and 10-year-old kids spending more than seven hours a day using such devices show signs of premature thinning of the cortex, the brain's outermost layer that processes sensory information. «We don't know if it's being caused by the screen time. We don't know yet if it's a bad thing,» said Gaya Dowling, an NIH doctor working on the project, explaining the preliminary findings in an interview with the CBS news program 60 Minutes. «What we can say is that this is what the brains look like of kids who spend a lot of time on screens. And it's not just one pattern,» Dowling said. The NIH data reported on CBS also showed that kids who spend more than two hours a day on screens score worse on language and reasoning tests. The study -- which involves scanning the brains of 4,500 children -- eventually aims to show whether screen time is addictive, but researchers need several years to understand such long-term outcomes. «In many ways, the concern that investigators like I have is, that we're sort of in the midst of a natural kind of uncontrolled experiment on the next generation of children,» Dimitri Christakis, a lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics' most recent guidelines on screen time, told 60 Minutes. Initial data from the study will begin to be released in early 2019. The academy now recommends parents «avoid digital media use -- except video chatting -- in children younger than 18 to 24 months.» © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles exploring waste-to-energy strategy to reduce dependence on limited landfills

The Seychelles’ environment ministry is looking into the possibility of building a waste-to-energy plant and having a more sustainable waste management strategy, a top official said on Monday.  A waste-to-energy plant is a facility that produces clean an
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles exploring waste-to-energy strategy to reduce dependence on limited landfills

The Seychelles’ environment ministry is looking into the possibility of building a waste-to-energy plant and having a more sustainable waste management strategy, a top official said on Monday.  A waste-to-energy plant is a facility that produces clean and renewable energy through the combustion of municipal waste; it can reduce the amount of waste by up to 90 percent, the remaining of which is disposed of in landfills. “By the end of the month or early next year we will make it possible for the private sector, both local and international, or even jointly, for any interested party to submit their expression of interest to invest in a waste-to-energy plant or facility in the country,” said Alain Decommarmond, the principal secretary of environment. Decommarmond added that an area has already been identified for the potential plant at Providence, where the two landfills are located. With land being scarce in Seychelles -- a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean -- the government has been looking at ways to reduce waste.  The waste-to-energy plant is one of the strategies the Ministry of Environment is looking into under the newly endorsed National Waste Policy for the next five years -- 2018 to 2023.  The main goal of the policy is to manage waste in a sustainable manner in order to protect the environment and improve the quality of life in Seychelles. “Waste management is a top priority for the Ministry of Environment as it touches all aspects in the country, including economic, social and the protection of the environment,” said Decommarmond. Approved by the Cabinet of Ministers last week, the policy also addresses the handling and disposal of all waste including hazardous and electronic waste. One strategy to help reduce the amount of waste generated in the country is to restrict certain products from coming into the country, especially when importers have the option to bring in more environmentally friendly alternatives. “We have clearly outlined that the responsibility to deal with waste is not solely the responsibility of the government or the authority. The importer bringing in the commodity has to also think of how to contribute towards getting rid of the waste,” said Decommarmond. He added that this will be facilitated and guided through strategies that the government will put in place. The waste can either be managed locally or a system can be put in place where the waste will be collected and exported. “The policy also looks at opportunities to recycle or redeem some waste and it is important to work with the private sectors to export them,” added Decommarmond. According to the Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy (2012-2020), the 95,000 inhabitants of the island nation generates about 48,000 tonnes of waste per year.

China summons US ambassador over Huawei arrest

China summoned the US ambassador on Sunday to protest the arrest of a top executive from telecom giant Huawei in Canada, as Washington's top trade negotiator rejected suggestions that the case could affect talks aimed at settling a trade war. The arrest of H
Seychelles News Agency

China summons US ambassador over Huawei arrest

China summoned the US ambassador on Sunday to protest the arrest of a top executive from telecom giant Huawei in Canada, as Washington's top trade negotiator rejected suggestions that the case could affect talks aimed at settling a trade war. The arrest of Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou has infuriated Beijing, which demanded Washington drop its extradition request, and stoked tensions during the trade war truce between China and the United States. Meng faces US fraud charges related to alleged sanctions-breaking dealings with Iran. But with negotiations underway against a «hard deadline» of March 1 to settle the tariff dispute between the world's two biggest economies, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he did not expect the arrest to disrupt the talks. Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is in custody awaiting a Canadian court's decision on bail on Monday. Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned US ambassador Terry Branstad one day after he called in Canadian envoy John McCallum to voice China's displeasure. «Le Yucheng pointed out that the US side has seriously violated the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens, and the nature of the violation is extremely bad,» the foreign ministry said in a statement. «The Chinese side firmly opposes this and strongly urges the United States to attach great importance to China's solemn and just position,» it said. China also urged the United States to «take immediate measures to correct wrong practices, and revoke the arrest warrant against the Chinese citizen.» The statement warned that Beijing would make an unspecified «further response» in light of the US actions. - Lengthy extradition process - In a case which shook investors and rattled the markets, Meng was arrested in Vancouver while changing planes on December 1, the same day that US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to a truce in their trade battle and gave negotiators three months to find a compromise. Although Trump last week tweeted that the talks would end after 90 days «unless extended,» Lighthizer said on Sunday that March 1 is a firm deadline. «When I talked to the president of the United States he's not talking about going beyond March,» Lighthizer said on CBS's «Face the Nation.» «If there is a deal to be gotten, we want to get it in the next 90 days.» He also said that Meng's arrest «shouldn't really have much of an impact» on the talks, although he conceded that the Chinese might see it that way. «For us, it's unrelated» to trade policy matters. «It's criminal justice.» Separately, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow denied reports that Trump was «livid» that the arrest of Meng occurred while Trump dined with Xi. «He didn't know,» Kudlow told «Fox News Sunday.» «He learned way later.» The world's top two economies have exchanged steep tariffs on more than $300 billion in total two-way trade, locking them in a conflict that has begun to eat into profits. Since taking office, Trump has waged an often-fierce offensive against Chinese trade practices, which he regularly brands as «unfair.» He sees the US trade deficit with China as a particular sore point, and the imbalance ballooned to a record $35.6 billion in November, official data showed on Saturday. Analysts say Meng could become a bargaining chip in the negotiations. In a bail hearing that was adjourned on Friday, Canadian Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley asked for bail to be denied, saying Meng has been accused of «conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions.» He said if convicted, she faces more than 30 years in prison. The extradition process could take months, even years, if appeals are made in the case. Canada has a long-standing extradition treaty with the United States, requiring it to cooperate with US Department of Justice requests to hand over suspects. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said politics played no part in the decision to arrest Meng. Huawei said Friday that it would «continue to follow the bail hearing», expressing «every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach the right conclusion.» Huawei has denied any ties to the Chinese government, but many in Washington and other Western capitals are sceptical and have raised security concerns. US federal law already bans military and government use of devices made by Huawei and fellow Chinese firm ZTE. Influential Republican Senator Marco Rubio told «Face the Nation» that he plans to reintroduce legislation that would ban companies like Huawei from doing business in the US because they «pose a threat to our national interests.» © Agence France-Presse

Hearing impaired community in Seychelles to have a new centre next year

People with hearing impairment in Seychelles will have adequate space to conduct their activities in a new centre that will be established next year, said a member of the local association. The setting up of the centre, which is being spearheaded by a non-go
Seychelles News Agency

Hearing impaired community in Seychelles to have a new centre next year

People with hearing impairment in Seychelles will have adequate space to conduct their activities in a new centre that will be established next year, said a member of the local association. The setting up of the centre, which is being spearheaded by a non-government organisation -- Association of People with Hearing Impairment (APHI) -- will be located at the former maritime school in the central district of Mont Fleuri.  Anita Gardner, the chairperson of APHI, said that for too long the deaf community in Seychelles has been operating without a proper centre.   “As the association, we are operating in a small office and the students with hearing impairment are currently using a classroom at Au Cap School for learning. In general, we are dealing with more than 1,000 deaf people in Seychelles. We need a larger space where we can meet for educational purposes and conduct our activities” said Gardner. The centre will be funded through a Japanese grant of $76,000 (SCR1 million) for assisting grassroots human security Project. At the signing ceremony earlier this year, Shana David, a young deaf girl with hearing impairment, thanked the Japanese embassy on behalf of the deaf community. She said with the centre’s access to services and programmes it will be easier as everything will be under the same roof. David called on all deaf people including those on Praslin and La Digue to make use of the services once the centre is ready. Once renovation is completed on the building, the new centre will be the first of its kind in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, and equipped with modern facilities for people with hearing impairment. Gardner said, “The centre will be a one-stop hub for deaf people to receive a different kind of services. Therefore it is very important.” The centre is expected to provide educational services up to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) level. The curriculum will be similar to that of state schools but teachers will be trained in sign language to facilitate teaching. “The aim is to also have qualified graduates coming from the deaf community in Seychelles. These people are deaf, but their brains are functioning very well. They should also be occupying key positions in employment,” said that Gardner. She added that “after completing their studies, the students will be able to acquire effective communication skills to integrate into employment, but in return, the government needs to be well prepared to accommodate these people.” The facilities at the centre will also be used by older people with hearing impairment as it will be equipped with trained interpreters which can help them with different things. 

In Mauritius, sugar cane means money, renewable energy

Far out into the Indian Ocean where it is forced to be self-reliant, the island nation of Mauritius is weaning itself off fossil fuels by turning to its main cash-crop sugar cane, for electricity. The leftover, crushed sugar cane stalks and tips -- dry fibro
Seychelles News Agency

In Mauritius, sugar cane means money, renewable energy

Far out into the Indian Ocean where it is forced to be self-reliant, the island nation of Mauritius is weaning itself off fossil fuels by turning to its main cash-crop sugar cane, for electricity. The leftover, crushed sugar cane stalks and tips -- dry fibrous material known as «bagasse» -- is burned to help power Mauritius and reduce its reliance on coal and oil. Electricity from sugar cane now accounts for 14 percent of the island's needs and, when combined with other renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro, provides nearly a quarter of daily consumption. «The government's goal is to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix to 35 percent by 2025,» said deputy prime minister Ivan Collendavelloo who is also energy minister. «The 35 percent is not far off; we will have 11 solar parks by next year and at least two wind farms,» he said. «Independent producers in the sugar industry will continue to provide the largest share of renewable electricity from bagasse,» he added. In Mauritius, around 60 percent of the island's electricity is generated by four sugar companies, each running its own thermal power station. The plants run on coal for part of the year then switch to sugar cane byproducts when harvest season comes. - Power 24/7 - At the end of November, the harvest is in full swing in the fields surrounding the Omnicane company, in the south of the island. Heavy trucks pulling huge trailers are lined up next to an immense warehouse to unload their cargo of fresh-cut sugarcane. During the harvest, 8,500 tonnes are sent daily to this facility -- a total of around 900,000 tonnes for the year. The cane stalks are crushed to extract juice for sugar production. They are then soaked to extract the last juice and then heated to dry. Finally, squashed and dried, the stalks are fed into a thermal power station where they burn at 500 degrees Celsius, fuelling turbines that produce electricity for the plant and the national grid. «Electricity is available 24 hours a day, on demand, without having to wait for the wind or the sun, since we can store bagasse as we would oil and coal,» said Jacques D'Unienville, Omnicane's manager. And the carbon dioxide greenhouse gas produced by the burning? It is captured, according to D'Unienville, and used to add the fizz to soft drinks. - Cloud on horizon - However there are clouds on the horizon in the form of a drop in sugar prices since the European Union ended quotas in 2017, and increases in production in Thailand, Brazil and India, which together have put pressure on the island's farmers. Jacqueline Sauzier, secretary general of the Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture said falling sugar prices were «a fatal blow to the local sugar industry.» «The number of small farmers has fallen from 26,000 in 2010 to 13,000 in 2018,» said Agriculture Minister Mahen Kumar Seeruttun. The question is whether Mauritius will be able to produce enough sugar cane to meet its target for renewable, bagasse-based electricity. Some sugar producers are hoping that preferential treatment might provide an answer. «Mauritius is a small, vulnerable island. We do not have the capacity of Thailand, Brazil and India, but we are an efficient producer because we value the entire sugar production chain,» said D'Unienville. «We need protected access to preferential markets. Small countries should have quotas as a priority because we are very vulnerable,» he said. © Agence France-Presse

Downloads to support artists: Big Vibes is Seychelles' first online music store

In an effort to reduce music piracy and allow musicians to make more of a profit for their work, two artists in Seychelles earlier this week launched ‘Big Vibes,’ the island nation's first online music store. Big Vibes was initiated and developed by two
Seychelles News Agency

Downloads to support artists: Big Vibes is Seychelles' first online music store

In an effort to reduce music piracy and allow musicians to make more of a profit for their work, two artists in Seychelles earlier this week launched ‘Big Vibes,’ the island nation's first online music store. Big Vibes was initiated and developed by two Seychellois artists, Martin Lebon - known as Master Emel from popular local group Dezil - and Herrance Etienne, known as Xtra Big. Speaking to SNA, Lebon said that as artists, both he and Etienne understand the difficulties that artists face. “We are trying to find solutions to our own problems. One of our biggest problems is piracy. Until now, artists did not have an option to give clients a digital form of their songs. As fans could not buy specific songs they liked from an album, they saw it easier to make copies to send to families overseas. Now we are giving them an option,” he said. Lebon and Etienne wanted to create an opportunity for their fellow Seychellois artists to reduce their cost of production and marketing of their albums or singles and perhaps gain more. The online music store is a self-financed project that took the two artists over a year to complete. Lebon told SNA that presently artists rely mostly on the duplicating of CDs for the sales of their albums. “They spend over R45,000 ($3,200) to record, duplicate and market an album, but the return does not even cover costs because the price for an album has remained the same for many years. Artists fear raising the price as it may lower their sales,” he said. The online music store offers artists the chance to reduce such costs by duplicating less CD’s or make direct uploads after recording their songs. The founders are offering a rate of $9.50 per album and $1.50 per song downloaded. The artist will get 70 percent of the sales and the rest will go to ‘Big Vibes’ as a commission. The founders are offering a rate of $9.50 per album and $1.50 per song downloaded.(Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY Since it was launched earlier this week, three artists have uploaded their music and 20 more are in the process of enrolling. Lebon said that “in the long run artist can get access to factual statistics to compare to now that they are relying on word of mouth. Clients can comment, they can chat with artists. It offers more interaction.” The site also has a ‘Big Vibes TV’, whereby artists can upload their video clips, and Lebon said that soon a monetised system will be introduced like YouTube “but one that takes into consideration the Seychelles population that is small. This will help artist earn a little bit more but we are still working on the rates for that.” The site is well protected with MacAfee virus protector with 24 hours monitoring for any illegal transactions. It also has a merchandise store where they can order promotional items such as t-shirts, caps, mugs among others. Seychellois veteran artist Thomas Knowles said, “It’s a new market and new frontier for my music because the local market is dead. The online store is a new opportunity and I just uploaded my new album called ‘Sesel nou paradi’ on it.” Customers can get access to the online store on www.big-vibes.com and they can now benefit from a 5 percent discount on their purchases.

Hotel L'Archipel is 18th in Seychelles to earn sustainability label

A tourism accommodation on the second-most populated island of Praslin has received for the first time the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label for integrating sustainability in its operations. Hotel L’Archipel, represented by general manager Lucas d’Off
Seychelles News Agency

Hotel L'Archipel is 18th in Seychelles to earn sustainability label

A tourism accommodation on the second-most populated island of Praslin has received for the first time the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label for integrating sustainability in its operations. Hotel L’Archipel, represented by general manager Lucas d’Offay, received the certificate in a short ceremony at the headquarters of the Ministry of Tourism at the Botanical House in the central district of Mont Fleuri.  Speaking to SNA on Tuesday, d’Offay said, “This award represents a great achievement for all of us. Not only to the Hotel L’Archipel family but to all the people of Seychelles, especially the younger generations and to our future guests visiting our Islands.” The general manager said that getting the award has not been easy but thanks to the tireless work of the management and staff, the Hotel L’Archipel was able to fulfil all the criteria needed. “Over the past five years, Hotel L’Archipel has been looking at many ways of reducing our carbon footprint and ways in reducing our operational costs. It was not easy as we had to make sure that our guest satisfaction and comfort remains the same or better,” he said. L’Archipel is located in the north-east region of Praslin at the end of the Côte d'Or Bay. The hotel has 18 deluxe rooms, five superior rooms, seven senior suites and two family suites nestled in a colourful and exotically scented tropical hillside garden. Among the sustainable initiatives, the hotel has undertaken are installing energy management systems in refurbished rooms saving by 30 percent the air-conditioning energy consumption. The hotel has installed 244 solar panels with an annual production of 108,000 kilowatts and implemented bio-technology cleaning in the restaurant and kitchen operations ensuring a hygienic and safe environment for guests and staff.  In an effort to save the seas of Seychelles, Hotel L’Archipel is No longer giving straws with drinks in line with the country's initiative to ban single-use plastic straws. (Hotel L'Archipel) Photo License: CC-BY The Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label certificates are awarded to tourism accommodation only after they are found to be integrating sustainability practices in their business operations. The aim of the award is to encourage hotels of all sizes in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, to mainstream sustainability practices into their business operations to safeguard the biodiversity and culture of the island nation. During the ceremony, the certification of three other hotels was renewed -- Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort & Casino and Constance Ephelia Resort. The certification to the three establishments was awarded two years ago. In a statement to the press on Wednesday, Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa located on Silhouette Island said various eco-projects were launched by the hotel this year. These include a ban on plastic at the resort which has been replaced by glass bottles filled with filtered water from the island’s own waterfall. In a short address, the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Didier Dogley, expressed his satisfaction at seeing the increasing interest of various hotels towards the sustainable tourism initiative. To date, the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label has been awarded to 18 hotel establishments in the island nation.  “Sustainability is the talk of the day. These past few months I have had a chance to engage in various debates regarding sustainability as a whole. From my past experiences and my recent encounters I am glad to say that Seychelles is one of the few countries with a robust national label, which lives up to the green reputation Seychelles has worldwide, said Dogley.

Cuba finally rolls out mobile 3G, though too costly for most

Cuba became one of the last countries in the world to get 3G mobile internet services on Thursday, though most citizens on the communist-run island won't be able to afford it. Cuba's internet provider Etecsa rolled out its 3G service from 8:00 am to answer p
Seychelles News Agency

Cuba finally rolls out mobile 3G, though too costly for most

Cuba became one of the last countries in the world to get 3G mobile internet services on Thursday, though most citizens on the communist-run island won't be able to afford it. Cuba's internet provider Etecsa rolled out its 3G service from 8:00 am to answer pent-up demand, though initially only for clients with numbers beginning with a 52 or 53 prefix. Others will have to cool their heels for a few more days before they can connect to the 21st Century. At $30 dollars for 4 gigabytes per month -- an average monthly wage -- the convenience will be too costly for most. The roll-out left Idalmist Mendoza a little frustrated on a Havana street. «The prices are a little bit high. But well, maybe with time, if there are a lot of people signing up, prices will go down,» said the bureau de change employee. According to government figures, some 5.3 million people on the island use mobile phones, a little under half the population of 11.2 million. Cubans have relied for years on WiFi zones in public parks and squares. There, it's common to see hundreds of people talking, laughing and crying into their phone screens, keeping in touch with some of the two million Cubans in exile. Etecsa's home internet service, Nauta Hogar, only has 60,000 clients. Their connections costs are often paid by family members aboard, as a means of keeping in touch. - 'People with money'- «Mobile internet in Cuba, it's for people with money, because those that don't have it won't be able to connect much,» said Hector David, 28. However, he was happy with the connection speed on his phone: «Fast, very fast. I talked and used up a few megabytes, I think, but then I switched to WhatsApp and it consumed much less.» Apart from 1,200 public WiFi zones, the government says there are 670 internet cafes around the Caribbean country, where connection charges are a dollar an hour. «We are continuing to advance on the computerization of our country,» President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in a congratulatory message on a Twitter account that he only opened in August. His example has since been followed by several ministers as his government tentatively embraces social media. Cuba, which has been under US embargo since 1962, signed an agreement with Google in late 2016 to ensure a faster connection to its content. «Mobile internet is a good option, but Etecsa really has to have the technical capacity to provide a stable service, not that this is what happened during the tests, when the servers were overwhelmed,» computer engineer Enrique Rivero told AFP. «Our internet service is probably the most expensive in the world,» when set against the standard of living of its clients, Rivero said. - Test of progress - Etecsa carried out several tests of its fledgling 3G service in recent months, but by its own admission they were disrupted by «connection problems and significant congestion of voice and data services due to the instability of part of the network.» Diaz-Canel, who took over from Raul Castro in April, visited the United States in September and held meetings with tech giants Google, AirBnB and Twitter on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. For now, Cubans like Aguilera -- a homemaker from Havana -- will take this small, uncertain step towards progress. «It's not the same as connecting in a park, when you have the possibility to connect directly on your phone from anywhere,» she says. «It's very good for Cubans because it gives us one more chance to connect.» © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles' top court sentences former Anti-Corruption Commission official to 8 years

The Seychelles’ Supreme Court has sentenced the former Complaints and Communications Manager of the Anti-Corruption Commission to eight years imprisonment and a fine of $5000 (SCR75,000). Abison De Giorgio, who was in remand since February this year, was f
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' top court sentences former Anti-Corruption Commission official to 8 years

The Seychelles’ Supreme Court has sentenced the former Complaints and Communications Manager of the Anti-Corruption Commission to eight years imprisonment and a fine of $5000 (SCR75,000). Abison De Giorgio, who was in remand since February this year, was found guilty on Friday on three different counts of corruption: extortion, disclosing sensitive information and corruptly soliciting gratification in exchange for delaying an ongoing investigation on former minister Dolor Ernesta. De Giorgio’s lawyer, Alexia Amesbury, said that they have 42 days to appeal the judgment. Bill Zialor, the lead investigator in the case, told the press after the court’s ruling that he is very emotional and the case in general has been very hectic.  “Justice has been served today. The outcome of the case is not only for the police but for the members of the public. It is the first time in the history of Seychelles that we imprison someone on the grounds of corruption.” He also announced that he has resigned from the Central Investigation Department as this case comes to an end. The chief executive of the Anti-Corruption Commission, May de Silva, said that there are no winners in that case. She said that it is sad that things have ended up like that, but nobody is above the law, even if they work for the commission. “I have not yet looked at the full judgment, I will have a full review, then I will be able to comment further,” said de Silva. The Seychelles' Anti-Corruption Commission was set up under the Anti-Corruption Act 2016 and is tasked with receiving complaints, investigating, detecting and preventing corruption practices in the public and private sector. Despite the outcome of the case, de Silva said that she cannot give any guarantee at this point that anyone else within ACCS is not corrupt, nor whether another internal investigation will ensure. She added that this case will not damage the reputation of the ACCS nor deter the ongoing investigation of Ernesta.

Road accident deaths swell to 1.35 million each year: WHO

Road accidents kill someone every 24 seconds, with a total of 1.35 million traffic deaths around the world each year, the World Health Organization said Friday, demanding global action. The number of fatalities annually has swelled by around 100,000 in just
Seychelles News Agency

Road accident deaths swell to 1.35 million each year: WHO

Road accidents kill someone every 24 seconds, with a total of 1.35 million traffic deaths around the world each year, the World Health Organization said Friday, demanding global action. The number of fatalities annually has swelled by around 100,000 in just three years, with road accidents now the leading killer of children and young people between the ages of five and 29, the UN health agency said in a new report. «These deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility,» WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. «There is no excuse for inaction. This is a problem with proven solutions,» he said. The WHO's Global Status Report on Road Safety, based on data from 2016, showed that the situation is worsening. In its last report, based on data from 2013, the number of road traffic deaths was estimated at 1.25 million annually. But despite the increase in the overall number of deaths, the rate of death compared to the growing number of people and cars in the world has stabilised in recent years. «This suggests that existing road safety efforts in some middle and high-income countries have mitigated the situation,» WHO said. This is largely due to better legislation around key risks, including speeding, drinking and driving, and failing to use a seatbelt, child restraints or helmets, the report found. Safer infrastructure like sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes and better vehicle standards have also paid off. But while many countries have stepped up efforts to improve the situation, many poorer nations are lagging way behind. According to Friday's report, «not a single low income country has demonstrated a reduction in overall deaths», adding that the risk of a road traffic death remains three times higher there than in high income countries. The death rate in Africa is particularly high, counting 26.6 annual traffic deaths for every 100,000 citizens, compared with 9.3 in Europe, where the death rate is the lowest. Friday's report also shows a devastating disregard for the most vulnerable in traffic, with more than half of all those killed in road accidents either walking or on two wheels. Pedestrians and cyclists account for 26 percent of all traffic deaths, with the figure as high as 44 percent in Africa. Motorcyclists and their passengers meanwhile account for 28 percent of all road deaths, but the figure soars to 43 percent in Southeast Asia, the report said. © Agence France-Presse

At 70, universal rights declaration facing uncertain future

As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70, there are signs that the goals outlined in the text are facing unprecedented threats, from rising nationalism to a worldwide assault on multilateral institutions. This week, the United Nations High Commi
Seychelles News Agency

At 70, universal rights declaration facing uncertain future

As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70, there are signs that the goals outlined in the text are facing unprecedented threats, from rising nationalism to a worldwide assault on multilateral institutions. This week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned that the global system «that gave teeth to the vision of the Universal Declaration is being chipped away by governments and politicians increasingly focused on narrow, nationalist interests.» But some experts have argued that as the global rights movement born after World War II comes under attack, the UDHR may have an opportunity to reassert its relevance. The text adopted in Paris by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948, aimed to redress the centuries-old notion that rights are granted to citizens by states. According to the UN rights office, this was in response to the argument of Nazi defendants at the Nuremberg trials that the leaders of a sovereign state acting in what they deemed the national interest «could not be held guilty of the newly-conceived 'crimes against humanity'.» The UDHR was therefore meant to establish the rights that belong to every person, regardless of whether they live in a democratic republic, a monarchy or a military dictatorship. The declaration «was written for a precise moment like now when the attractions of nationalism and populism are sweeping through even democratic nations, once more,» Francesca Klug, one of Britain's leading human rights scholars and the author of «A Magna Carta for All Humanity», told AFP. - US leadership 'forsaken' - One of the main challenges that has always faced the concept of universal human rights is enforcement. A professor of human rights law at the London School of Economics, Conor Gearty, told AFP that even if the UDHR was written to establish the values that should transcend national sovereignty, it was always «states that truly mattered,» because governments -- not a global entity like the UN -- had the power of enforcement. Gearty said the notion of universal human rights saw major progress through the second half of the 20th century, including new multilateral treaties and national legislation embedding the articles of the UDHR. Broadly, he credits the United States with leading this effort, calling human rights «the flagship of American global ascendency,» in a 2017 article for the European Human Rights Law Review. Gearty concedes that US foreign policy had always been characterised by «double standards... (and) calculated hypocrisies,» but nevertheless described Washington as the «patron» of the post-war human rights era. However, Gearty argued, that the «America First» administration of US President Donald Trump -- who has attacked multilateralism and pulled the US out of the UN Human Rights Council -- mark the end Washington's stewardship of the global rights movement. «The US has forsaken any role as defender of international human rights, even on a hypocritical basis,» he said, describing Trump's rise as the culmination of a US withdrawal that began with the so-called «war or terror» after September 11, 2001. «The Americans have left the building,» Gearty said. At the same time he maintained that «human rights need a powerful international patron, or they will whither on the vine,» and identified the European Union as «the only credible candidate» to take the mantle from Washington. - The future - Bachelet, Chile's former president who took over as UN rights chief in September, downplayed the notion that for the Universal Declaration to remain relevant it needed support from a superpower. She said the text would endure because «its precepts are so fundamental that they can be applied to every new dilemma,» including climate change and artificial intelligence. The 30 articles of the UDHR range from equality rights to guarantees of a fair trial and the right to paid leave. For its time, the text drafted by delegates from across the globe was surprisingly progressive on gender, using male pronouns only twice. It also offers freedom from discrimination on the basis of «race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.» The phrase «other status» has been applauded for anticipating the rights of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) people, decades before they were recognised anywhere. The UDHR «has withstood the tests of the passing years,» Bachelet said. «It is, I firmly believe, as relevant today as it was when it was adopted 70 years ago.» © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles' offshore system maintains confidentiality for company owners, directors

Directors and owners of offshore companies registered in Seychelles will remain confidential following the approval of the National Assembly. In late November the National Assembly -- the Seychelles’ legislative body -- voted in favour of an amendment to m
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' offshore system maintains confidentiality for company owners, directors

Directors and owners of offshore companies registered in Seychelles will remain confidential following the approval of the National Assembly. In late November the National Assembly -- the Seychelles’ legislative body -- voted in favour of an amendment to maintain the confidentiality of these offshore companies, in action brought forth by Ahmed Afif, the elected member for the northern district of Anse Etoile. The Seychelles’ President, Danny Faure, has signed the proposed amendment of keeping the names of directors and owners of offshore companies private.   “The approval was urgent because from December 1 the companies had to declare their directors, and they did not want to do it, and what would have happened, they would have left the country and we would have lost millions of rupees,” Afif told SNA on Thursday. Afif said that the companies responsible for the registration of the offshore companies had already sounded the alarm by explaining the losses it could have for Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. “If we had left the law as it was, it would have brought our offshore system to the ground,” he said. With increased development in the offshore sector, in 2016 Seychelles did a complete review of the International Business Act. A new provision under Section 152 of the Act obliged the companies to publicly declare the list of their directors and owners giving them a timeframe of two years to comply, and this expired as from December 1, 2018. “At the time it was thought that this would become the norm and we had taken the lead, but today we see that other countries, which are competing with us, have not introduced this measure, and we so decided to bring it back to what it was,” said Steve Fanny, the chief executive of the Financial Services Authority. The law had to be brought to the National Assembly but was delayed at the Attorney General's office. Although the information will be confidential, relevant authorities like the judiciary and the financial regulatory authorities will have access to it. The offshore sector of Seychelles is the third top contributor to its economy. There are over 200,000 companies registered in the country. Seychelles is currently on the European Union's grey list which comprises of 47 countries committed to improving their transparency standards. The EU says that once fulfilled, these commitments should enhance the tax good governance environment, globally. The island nation hopes that with a return to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in January, the country will be removed from the EU's grey list along with the changes to the base erosions and profit shifting (BEPS) which the Assembly must approve.   In a meeting earlier this year with a United Nations tax expert, Seychelles was told to deploy more resources to implement recommendations from the OECD on base erosion and profit shifting. 

Washington sets aside divisions as US bids farewell to Bush

A divided Washington led by the nation's five living presidents put on a rare show of unity Wednesday at the state funeral of George Herbert Walker Bush, as America bade farewell to its 41st president. Donald and Melania Trump shared a front row pew in the N
Seychelles News Agency

Washington sets aside divisions as US bids farewell to Bush

A divided Washington led by the nation's five living presidents put on a rare show of unity Wednesday at the state funeral of George Herbert Walker Bush, as America bade farewell to its 41st president. Donald and Melania Trump shared a front row pew in the National Cathedral with past presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and their wives as an honor guard brought Bush's flag-draped casket into the prayer hall filled with dignitaries. George W. Bush tapped the casket twice when he walked up to deliver a rousing eulogy, fighting through tears as he sang the praises of his father and predecessor as commander-in-chief, who died Friday at age 94. «He showed me what it means to be a president who serves with integrity, leads with courage, and acts with love in his heart for the citizens of our country,» Bush said. «He was born with just two settings -- full throttle, then sleep,» he said. «To us, his was the brightest of a thousand points of light,» he said in a reference to his father's signature call to volunteerism. «When the history books are written, they will say that George H.W. Bush was a great president of the United States.» Bush's eulogy followed a performance by Irish tenor Ronan Tynan -- a friend of H.W. who sang to him in his dying hours. Wednesday's funeral capped a national homage that saw Bush lie in state in the US Capitol rotunda, where thousands paid respects to a statesman who steered the nation through turbulent times including the end of the Cold War -- and in a style dramatically different to the current president. Since Bush's death, Trump has traded his usual provocative posture for one of solemnity, tweeting before the service about «a day of celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life.» «He will be missed!» Trump wrote. At the funeral, Trump and his Democratic predecessors appeared locked in an uneasy truce. Trump arrived and shook hands with Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama. But his greetings stopped there, and the body language turned cold as he failed to acknowledge Hillary Clinton, his defeated Democratic rival in 2016. Clinton stared straight ahead and the two made no eye contact. It was a marked contrast when George W. Bush arrived minutes later and shook hands with the current and past presidents and their wives -- and handed Michelle Obama a piece of candy, as he did during the memorial service for senator John McCain in the same cathedral in September. Bells tolled while the casket was carried down the aisle, as dignitaries including Britain's Prince Charles, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Polish president Lech Walesa, and former US vice presidents and cabinet officials looked on. Precision, patriotic ritual, and ceremony ruled the day. The Bushes and congressional leaders stood outside the US Capitol with hands on hearts as Bush's casket was carried out to a 21-gun salute. Pennsylvania Avenue was lined with well-wishers as the cortege proceeded toward the Neo-Gothic cathedral in the first presidential funeral since Gerald Ford died in 2006. - 'Stay the course' - Bush was a decorated World War II aviator who nearly died when he was shot down on a bombing mission. He served as a congressman, envoy to China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and vice president to Ronald Reagan before winning the White House. Trump's ascendancy to the head of the Republican Party saw him exchange vitriolic attacks with the Bushes, notably slamming the presidential son's 2003 invasion of Iraq and mocking candidate Jeb Bush during the Republican primaries. Bush Sr meanwhile branded Trump a «blowhard,» and revealed he did not vote for him. At a time of political fissures, admirers of the 41st US president looked to him this week as a dedicated servant of country who aimed to do good and bridge political divides. «His life code, as he said, was tell the truth, don't blame people, be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course,» presidential historian Jon Meacham told Wednesday's service. Afterwards, the presidential aircraft carried Bush and family on his final journey from Washington back to Texas, touching down in Houston at 5:00 pm (2300 GMT). He will lie in repose at St Martin's Episcopal Church, where the Bushes worshipped for decades, until he is buried Thursday. Bush will be interred at his presidential library in College Station, Texas, next to his wife, who died in April, and their daughter Robin who died of leukemia at age three. «In our grief,» his son George said, «let us smile knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom's hand again.» © Agence France-Presse

In pictures: 9 women who competed in Seychelles for Miss Deaf Africa title

Miss Deaf Africa is an annual event that unites the African continent behind a cause often overlooked by the hearing society. The pageant is all about highlighting the beauty and potential of the young women championing the interests of the deaf community. T
Seychelles News Agency

In pictures: 9 women who competed in Seychelles for Miss Deaf Africa title

Miss Deaf Africa is an annual event that unites the African continent behind a cause often overlooked by the hearing society. The pageant is all about highlighting the beauty and potential of the young women championing the interests of the deaf community. The first Miss Deaf Africa was held in 2012 and was an initiative of Maria Sivertsen from South Africa, who has been teaching deaf people for over twenty years. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, hosted the event for the first time on Saturday which also saw the launch of the first Miss Deaf Indian Ocean pageant. Elisa Mundine from Mozambique was crowned Miss Deaf Africa 2018.   Anita Gardner, the chief executive of Miss Deaf Africa and chairperson of the Seychelles’ Association of People with Hearing Impairment (APHI), the organiser of the event, said that the pageant has been a success and will be organised in Seychelles until another country decides to take ownership over it. SNA presents in pictures the nine contestants who participated in the Miss Deaf Africa pageant in Seychelles.   Contestant number 1 -- Debra Dogley -- Seychelles (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY   Contestant number 2 -- Chimwemwe Kamkwamba -- Malawi (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY   Contestant number 3 -- Adeline -- Madagascar (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY    Contestant number 4 -- Elisa Filomena Mundine -- Mozambique (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY    Contestant number 5 -- Sylvia Barthlomeus -- Namibia (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY    Contestant number 6 -- Mary Nakimuli -- Uganda (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY    Contestant number 7 -- Natasha Sibanda -- Zimbabwe (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY    Contestant number 8 -- Luzandre Van der Berg -- South Africa (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY    Contestant number 9 -- Kenewang Nfila -- Botswana (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY 

Yemen rebels and government to hold peace talks in Sweden

Peace talks between Yemen's government and rivals aimed at ending four years of devastating war will open on Thursday in Sweden, the UN announced. No breakthrough is expected at the talks, which mark the first meeting between Yemen's Saudi-backed government
Seychelles News Agency

Yemen rebels and government to hold peace talks in Sweden

Peace talks between Yemen's government and rivals aimed at ending four years of devastating war will open on Thursday in Sweden, the UN announced. No breakthrough is expected at the talks, which mark the first meeting between Yemen's Saudi-backed government and Huthi rebels, linked to Iran, since 2016 -- when more than 100 days of negotiations failed to end a war that has now claimed upwards of 10,000 lives and pushed 14 million people to the brink of famine. Analysts and UN sources have set a low bar for the talks, which they say aim for «confidence-building» between the two parties, at war since 2015. No end date has been announced. Sources close to the rebels say the Huthis are expected to request the reopening of Sanaa International Airport, which has been damaged by Saudi-led air raids and shut down by Riyadh and its allies, who control Yemen's airspace. A source in the government delegation said President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's camp is seeking maps detailing landmines planted by the rebels. Sources on both sides said they would demand a ceasefire -- initiated by their rival -- and the opening of humanitarian corridors. UN envoy Martin Griffiths flew to Sanaa in the days leading up to the Sweden summit after his plans to host talks in Geneva in September failed when the rebels refused to leave Sanaa, saying they feared they would not be allowed to return. «The (UN special envoy) would like to announce the restart of the intra-Yemeni political process in Sweden on 6 December 2018,» his office tweeted. The government and Huthis on Tuesday agreed to a prisoner swap, to be overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross, after the Sweden talks. Among the thousands expected to be released is President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's brother Nasser, a general and former senior intelligence official. Saudi Arabia and its allies also allowed the Huthis to evacuate 50 wounded rebels from Sanaa for medical treatment in Oman, a condition the rebels had set prior to the foiled Geneva talks. - Low bar - A 12-member team from the Saudi-backed government headed by Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani, arrived in Sweden on Wednesday, a day after rebel delegates landed in Stockholm accompanied by the UN peace envoy. Yemeni Information Minister Moammer al-Eryani confirmed their arrival via Twitter, saying the government team «carried with them the hopes of the Yemeni people for an end to the coup and the return of the state». The delegation had delayed its departure until the rebels arrived in Stockholm after they failed to show up for the last UN bid to convene peace talks in September, sources close to the government told AFP. The head of the rebel delegation, Mohammed Abdelsalam, said the Huthis would «spare no effort to make a success of the talks to restore peace and end the aggression» -- but called on rebel fighters to remain «vigilant against any attempt at a military escalation on the ground». On Wednesday, six members of the rebel delegation could be seen in the grounds of the venue for the talks, the Johannesbergs Castle -- a large estate with a golf course 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Stockholm, now cordoned off by police. Analysts and diplomats have cautioned the talks could yield no breakthrough, with the two sides not actually due to sit down at the negotiating table together. «I would have very low expectations,» a Security Council diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity. - Crisis deteriorating - The US State Department hailed the peace talks as a «necessary and vital first step». The United Arab Emirates, a key backer of the Hadi government with boots on the ground in Yemen, said the planned talks offered a «critical opportunity» to bring peace to a country in the grip of what the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. «The hard work begins now,» British Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce told reporters outside the Security Council. Thousands of prisoners have been captured by both sides in the grinding war of attrition that has devastated Yemen at a cost of nearly 10,000 lives since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015, according to World Health Organization figures. Human rights groups put the death toll far higher. The humanitarian crisis, already the world's worst, will deteriorate in 2019, the UN said on Tuesday, warning the number of people needing food aid is set to jump by four million. Roughly 75 percent of Yemen's population will need humanitarian assistance in 2019, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told reporters in Geneva. Aid groups including the Norwegian Refugee Council and UNICEF on Wednesday called for the two sides to put a halt to the fighting. «Parties to the conflict must agree ways to reopen all ports and stabilise the nation's collapsing economy, while facilitating full and unfettered access for people in need of humanitarian aid,» NRC said. The coalition has largely suspended its offensive on the rebel-held port of Hodeida in the face of US-led calls for a ceasefire and new peace talks. But fresh fighting flared this week, with a coalition spokesman confirming military operations were «ongoing». © Agence France-Presse

Seychellois experts study ocean litter problem alongside other UNESCO World Heritage site managers

Representatives from Seychelles joined other marine managers and marine litter experts in the world's first workshop to focus on littering in UNESCO World Heritage marine sites. The workshop, which took place last month at the Island of Norderney in the Wadd
Seychelles News Agency

Seychellois experts study ocean litter problem alongside other UNESCO World Heritage site managers

Representatives from Seychelles joined other marine managers and marine litter experts in the world's first workshop to focus on littering in UNESCO World Heritage marine sites. The workshop, which took place last month at the Island of Norderney in the Wadden Sea, a World Heritage marine site, gave countries managing these areas the chance to share best practices, clean-up campaigns and raising awareness. Marine managers of the remote Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles, the Wadden Sea of Netherlands /Germany/ Denmark, the Brazilian Atlantic Islands -- Fernando de Noronha and Atol das Rocas Reserves, the Komodo National Park of Indonesia and Papahānaumokuākea of the United States, took part in the workshop. Experts shared their expertise and experience with the World Heritage marine site managers on how to tackle marine litter that washes up on the beaches of these sites. According to a press release from UNESCO, “In 2016, scientists determined that at least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean each year and that, by 2050, the ocean might contain more plastic than fish.” The director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, Mechtild Rössler, said that World Heritage sites are of global importance and require special protection to conserve and maintain their Outstanding Universal Value. “With marine litter increasing every year, the potential impacts are of growing concern and require careful attention,” said Rössler. Waste ending up on the shore of outer islands of Seychelles are not necessarily from the island nation in the western Indian Ocean. Some marine debris can originate from other countries, washed to the shores of Seychelles’ islands by ocean currents. To tackle marine litter waste in Seychelles regular beach cleanups are organised by not-for-profit organisations. Aldabra -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Seychelles -- is a remote atoll and the team on the island is no match for the amount of trash washing on its shores. In May this year, the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) launched the Aldabra Clean-Up Project looking to put together a team of 12 volunteers to clean up Aldabra which is home to a population of endemic giant Aldabra tortoises. “The scale of the problem like we have in Seychelles is much bigger than in countries such as Demark, Netherlands and Germany. Their main problem is to collect the litter as they have recycling plants. For countries like Seychelles, the biggest challenge is disposing of the waste after they have been collected,” said Christina Quanz, the project coordinator of Aldabra Clean-Up Project. Quanz, who attended the workshop, added that Seychelles needs to find alternative ways to deal with collected waste as the landfills are fast filling up. “We have limited space on the landfill and the best option for Seychelles is to network with different partners to look into recycling technologies,” added Quanz. It was outlined that marine debris is a global problem that needs global solutions. “Such workshops provide a platform to create global awareness about the problem, making people realise how huge it is and that every individual has a role to play in solving it,” said Quanz.  

As UAE celebrates its national day, Seychelles underscores strong relations

As the United Arab Emirates celebrated its national day on December 2, the embassy in Seychelles commemorated the event in a reception held at the Savoy Resort and Spa on Wednesday, said the Department of Foreign Affairs. In a toast for the occasion, the S
Seychelles News Agency

As UAE celebrates its national day, Seychelles underscores strong relations

As the United Arab Emirates celebrated its national day on December 2, the embassy in Seychelles commemorated the event in a reception held at the Savoy Resort and Spa on Wednesday, said the Department of Foreign Affairs. In a toast for the occasion, the Seychelles’ Minister of Health, Jean-Paul Adam, who was also the former Foreign Affairs minister said, “The relationship between the UAE and Seychelles is very strong and has even greater potential to be further deepened and developed in a variety of areas.” Adam added that as an additional expression of the excellent ties of friendship and cooperation shared between the two nations, “the first session of the Joint Commission between Seychelles and the UAE was successfully concluded in Abu Dhabi last week. The roadmap designed during the Joint Commission will no doubt boost our relationship to a much higher level.” The Chargé d’Affaires of the UAE embassy in Seychelles, Ahmed Saeed Alneyadi, said that December 2nd of every year is an occasion for UAE nationals and residents alike to express their pride in the country’s developmental and civilisational achievements. In commending the bilateral relations which join the UAE and Seychelles, Alneyadi said, “These ties are based on the principles of cooperation and mutual respect and have reached the level of strategic partnership between the two countries and peoples in recent years.” “The mutual visits of the leaders and officials of the two countries, and the ever-increasing levels of trade, economic and cultural exchange, are a powerful indicator which stands witness to the strength of bilateral relations in various fields,” he added. UAE and Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, have ongoing partnerships in education, health, housing and renewable energy. The laying of the foundation stone in 2015 for a social housing project in Bel Ombre following a $9 million grant from the government of Abu Dhabi. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY The energy sector has benefitted the most from financial assistance from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), which first started financing development projects in the Seychelles in 1979. In March this year, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development agreed to fund two renewable energy projects at a price of $17.4 million. The project agreements were signed by the Fund’s director general, Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, with the then Seychelles’ environment minister, Didier Dogley, and Philippe Morin, the chief executive of the Public Utilities Corporation. The first project will be a solar power field on the manmade island of Romainville that will be developed by Masdar -- a renewable energy company -- based in Abu Dhabi. The other project will be the installation of a transmission line on the main island of Mahe. In 2013, Abu Dhabi-based energy firm Masdar also handed over $28 million wind farm of eight 750 kilowatts turbines, manufacturing around 2.2 percent of Seychelles’ total energy requirements, or equivalent to power around 2,000 homes.  

Macron retreats on fuel tax hikes in bid to calm French protests

The French government has backed down on planned fuel tax hikes in a bid to draw the heat out of fierce protests that have escalated into the deepest crisis of Emmanuel Macron's presidency. The concessions, coming after an earlier 500-million-euro ($570 mill
Seychelles News Agency

Macron retreats on fuel tax hikes in bid to calm French protests

The French government has backed down on planned fuel tax hikes in a bid to draw the heat out of fierce protests that have escalated into the deepest crisis of Emmanuel Macron's presidency. The concessions, coming after an earlier 500-million-euro ($570 million) relief package for poorer households, mark the first time 40-year-old Macron has given ground in the face of public opposition. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Tuesday rollbacks on fuel taxes and electricity price increases in a rare televised address after France was rocked by intense street clashes and vandalism in Paris over the weekend. «This anger, you would have to be deaf and blind not to see it, nor hear it,» Philippe said after more than a fortnight of demonstrations by so-called «yellow vest» protesters. «No tax merits putting the unity of the nation in danger,» he said. ...

Tiny frog endemic to Seychelles to be monitored by audio recorders

A frog endemic to Seychelles will be monitored through a new project set up by researchers from the Seychelles Islands Foundation.  The project will monitor the absence and presence of the endemic Seychelles Frog (Sooglossus sechellensis) found in the Vall
Seychelles News Agency

Tiny frog endemic to Seychelles to be monitored by audio recorders

A frog endemic to Seychelles will be monitored through a new project set up by researchers from the Seychelles Islands Foundation.  The project will monitor the absence and presence of the endemic Seychelles Frog (Sooglossus sechellensis) found in the Vallée de Mai -- one of the Seychelles World Heritage Sites -- located on the second most populated island of Praslin. Jennifer Appoo, the Foundation’s science and projects coordinator, told SNA that the researchers will monitor the frogs by listening to their vocalisations using an equipment called a song meter. “Once deployed, song meters record at regular intervals all sounds in the surrounding environment....

Madagascar presidential hopeful Ravalomanana 'sure' of win

Madagascar presidential hopeful Marc Ravalomanana has said he is confident of closing the gap for a second round victory over his rival who narrowly beat him in the first leg of presidential polls. Andry Rajoelina got 39.23 percent of votes and Ravalomanana
Seychelles News Agency

Madagascar presidential hopeful Ravalomanana 'sure' of win

Madagascar presidential hopeful Marc Ravalomanana has said he is confident of closing the gap for a second round victory over his rival who narrowly beat him in the first leg of presidential polls. Andry Rajoelina got 39.23 percent of votes and Ravalomanana 35.35 percent in last month's poll, according to final results, setting up the pair for a close contest in the December 19 run-off to lead the Indian Ocean island nation. «The difference between me and the first placed candidate was just 3 or 5 percent,» Ravalomanana told AFP at his palatial home on Monday in the capital Antananarivo. ...

OPEC caught between Trump and falling oil prices

OPEC members and other oil-producing countries convene in Vienna this week to discuss lowering their output, as they scramble to buffer their earnings against plunging crude prices, while also coming under heavy US pressure to ensure that the commodity stays
Seychelles News Agency

OPEC caught between Trump and falling oil prices

OPEC members and other oil-producing countries convene in Vienna this week to discuss lowering their output, as they scramble to buffer their earnings against plunging crude prices, while also coming under heavy US pressure to ensure that the commodity stays cheap. At the recent G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said they were renewing a pact to cap output next year. But ministers from the two oil-producing giants and their partners will have their work cut out for them if they hope to strike a deal at the plenary sessions on Thursday and Friday and to restore their market credibility. If the 20 or so members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other nations -- which account for more than half of the world's oil -- continue to pump at current record levels, they risk seeing prices continue to tumble. Prices have already plunged more than 30 percent over the past two months and a barrel of Brent crude, the European benchmark, currently stands at around $60. ...

Seychelles hosting 80 scientists as part of Indian Ocean Tuna Commission meeting

Seychelles has welcomed over 80 scientists from more than 30 countries taking part in a meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) at Eden Bleu on the outskirts of the capital Victoria from December 3-7. Scientists from member countries of the IOTC m
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles hosting 80 scientists as part of Indian Ocean Tuna Commission meeting

Seychelles has welcomed over 80 scientists from more than 30 countries taking part in a meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) at Eden Bleu on the outskirts of the capital Victoria from December 3-7. Scientists from member countries of the IOTC met throughout the year in a series of meetings which culminated in the Scientific Committee meeting taking place in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. According to the IOTC’s Science Manager, Paul de Bruyn, this year’s meeting “is of extreme importance as scientists will pay particular attention to several burning topics, such as the population status of the flagship yellowfin tuna species bycatch species, such as sharks and sea turtles, as well as the impacts of fisheries on the ecosystem.” The yellowfin tuna has received considerable attention recently after the IOTC reduced the species catch by 15 percent in 2017....

Galapagos giant tortoise gene study hints at longevity secrets

Galapagos giant tortoises possess genetic variants linked to DNA repair, immune response and cancer suppression -- providing clues into their longevity, according to a study published Monday. A team of international researchers sequenced the genomes of two s
Seychelles News Agency

Galapagos giant tortoise gene study hints at longevity secrets

Galapagos giant tortoises possess genetic variants linked to DNA repair, immune response and cancer suppression -- providing clues into their longevity, according to a study published Monday. A team of international researchers sequenced the genomes of two such tortoises, including Lonesome George -- the last known member of the subspecies Geochelone nigra abingdoni, who died in captivity on the Galapagos's Santa Cruz Island in 2012. They detected «lineage-specific variants affecting DNA repair genes, inflammatory mediators and genes related to cancer development,» according to the study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. The Pacific island chain off mainland Ecuador is famous for its unique flora and fauna studied by Charles Darwin as he developed his theory of evolution. Twelve giant tortoise species still inhabit it. ...

India, Seychelles should work on trade, business to solidify relationship, High Commissioner says

India and Seychelles should continue to work on trade and other business opportunities to solidify the relationship between the two countries, the Indian High Commissioner told a business seminar on Tuesday. “Both India and Seychelles have certain strength
Seychelles News Agency

India, Seychelles should work on trade, business to solidify relationship, High Commissioner says

India and Seychelles should continue to work on trade and other business opportunities to solidify the relationship between the two countries, the Indian High Commissioner told a business seminar on Tuesday. “Both India and Seychelles have certain strengths and can complement each other when it comes to trade and commerce and business opportunities to achieve mutual benefit,” High Commissioner Ausaf Sayeed said. The seminar, held under the theme ‘India and Seychelles Evolving a Sustainable Business Partnership for Growth and Prosperity,’ was to identify how the nations' business communities can engage with each other to tackle common business-related issues. “India and Seychelles have been very close and dependable partners since more than four decades, and Seychelles’ trading relations with India go a long way back in history,” said Sayeed.                                               ...

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