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Monday, January 30, 2012


An earthquake (magnitude 4.1) struck Martinique and the Windward Islands on Sunday at 11:33:14 UTC.

Below is a summary of the quake:

·         Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 11:33:14 UTC
·         Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 07:33:14 AM at epicenter
14.280°N, 60.246°W
68.6 km (42.6 miles)
86 km (53 miles) ENE of CASTRIES, St. Lucia
96 km (59 miles) ESE of FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique
147 km (91 miles) NNW of BRIDGETOWN, Barbados
782 km (485 miles) SE of SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico
horizontal +/- 30.3 km (18.8 miles); depth +/- 38.1 km (23.7 miles)
NST= 15, Nph= 20, Dmin=109.1 km, Rmss=1.43 sec, Gp=184°,
M-type=body wave magnitude (Mb), Version=7
·         Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Barbados consortium wins regional ferry contract

The ferry, a 112-metre wave piercing catamaran,

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday January 27, 2012 - The Barbados-based Fast Caribbean Ltd has been selected to manage a regional ferry service scheduled to come on stream this year, Transport Minister Devant Maharaj announced Thursday.

Initially, the ferry will carry passengers, vehicles and goods from its base in Trinidad and Tobago to Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and Barbados.

More routes would be added once the venture is deemed commercially viable, the minister said.

“Fast Caribbean Ltd, Barbados-based consortium, will charter from owners Montrose Global a 112-metre wave piercing catamaran similar to those operating on the Trinidad and Tobago route,” he told journalists at a post-Cabinet news conference.

“It still remains a private sector driven project based on the proposal from Fast Caribbean Ltd. They have indicated in their proposal to us the minimum capital requirement to start the service is approximately US$12 million, they propose however to raise US$20 million.”

Maharaj said a proposal has been made for 100,000 seats to be provided annually at US$10 a ticket, though nationals of Trinidad and Tobago may have to pay up to US$35.

“What the government is contributing to this is forming part of the negotiations. It includes how they would like to see our fuel price locked in at a particular rate, facilities at the Port Authority, requests in terms of fuel and lubricant duties and tariffs, corporate tax concessions,” he said.

The ferry would depart Port of Spain at 6 a.m. and arrive at its final daily destination – Barbados - at 6 p.m.

Trade Minister Stephen Cadiz suggested this service would lead to reduced regional freight cost.

“Not every shipping line goes to Grenada or St Vincent because of the volume of trade,” he noted. “It means that these islands, in getting their goods out, can in fact ship to Trinidad and then do a trans-shipment onto the larger lines.”
Cabinet approved the establishment of the inter-island ferry service last September.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


"Despite their fame, celebrities are not exempt from the feelings of low self-worth and sadness, restlessness, irritability, and apathy associated with depression. Many stars suffer from bouts of crying and fatigue, and have difficulty concentrating. They lose sleep, weight, and interest. They withdraw. But their depression isn’t just juicy tabloid fodder—they are insights into a condition that affects 19 million Americans every year. Here’s a look at some familiar faces of people with depression.


"Jim Carrey made a career on making people laugh, yet Carrey’s humor was born out of “desperation” while growing up with an ailing mother and an unemployed father. To help make ends meet, he dropped out of high school and went to work full time. Depression was a constant battle for Carrey, and he was medicated off and on for years. These days, he relies on his spirituality to get him through the valleys.


"Before becoming a wildly successful author and creator of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling contemplated suicide while a single mother in a cramped apartment after her marriage dissolved. She thought of suicide, but instead Rowling used her daughter as motivation to rise above grim circumstances and began writing what would become a multi-billion-dollar franchise. She often reflects back on those darker days, but doesn’t blame herself.


"The talented six-time Grammy winner has long struggled with a depression that frequently coincides with alcoholism and failed marriages. In 1970, Joel attempted suicide, later turning his suicide note into the song “Tomorrow Is Today.” Although he’s had a scattered history of stints of sobriety and relapses, Joel has everything mostly in control these days, noting that it’s an ongoing battle for the piano man.  . .

"As these celebrity stories have illustrated, money and fame can’t buy happiness. Depression can strike anyone. Like many celebrities did, getting the right support is important to overcoming depression. If you’re suffering from depression, or know someone who is, you are not alone. It’s important you know how to get the right treatment.

Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects one in 10 Americans, including celebrities like comedian Jim Carrey and astronaut Buzz Aldrin."




By Murray Wardrop

Scientists believe that passing small electric currents through certain parts of the brain can lead to increased academic performance.

The technique, known as Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS), has previously been used to treat cognitive impairment among stroke and brain injury patients and those with learning difficulties.

However, experts from the University of Oxford, have discovered that the technique can also help improve the abilities of healthy adults.

Researchers from the University’s Department of Experimental Psychology ran a series of experiments on healthy volunteers, testing how well they performed in mathematical, problem solving, and linguistic tasks before and after undergoing TDCS.

Electrodes were strapped to their heads to deliver small electric currents to individual parts of the brain for short bursts up to 20 minutes.

Results showed that the treatment improved subjects’ vision, decision making, problem-solving, mathematical, language, memory, and attention capabilities.

The positive effects can last up to 12 months, researchers claim.

Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh, who led the research, said: “The idea is to stimulate the brain in order to make it easier to learn new information such as maths.

“What we find with adults is that the improvement is not only in maths but actually in language, attention and decision making – they not only become better for a short time, but for long periods.

“It is not a magic pill like you might find in Hollywood movies, it’s not going to make you Einstein in one day – you still need to work hard – but together with that it makes an enhancement to your performance.”

Their research, published in the journal Current Biology, also claims there are no apparent negative side effects from undergoing the treatment, if applied correctly.

Capable of being administered through portable devices worth little more than £500, the research raises questions over whether the treatment should be widely available to help improve people’s academic performance, including schoolchildren.

However, Dr Cohen Kadosh warned that as the technology is so new, there are no training or licensing rules, which could lead to poorly qualified clinicians misusing the treatment and causing brain damage to patients.

He added: “Inadequately trained clinicians might misidentify suitable sites for stimulation — an important issue as different cognitive abilities may be subserved by different brain areas at different stages across the lifespan.

“These unique features of TDCS technology raise important ethical issues for scientists, ethicists, policy-makers and the general public.

“At best, this situation could result in the exploitation of vulnerable patients or parents for financial gain; at worst, it may risk long-term damage to the brain and exacerbate the disadvantage, potentially worsening other psychological functions.”

Julian Savulescu, Uehiro Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, said if proved safe, TDCS could be widely used to maximise people’s cognitive potential.

He said: “This could be the first step down a path to not only maximising human potential but perhaps even increasing it

“It has significant potential advantages to every human being because the capacity to learn is fundamental to our humanity.

“If some people have access to a technology and others don’t it creates inequality and in a sense that’s having an unfair advantage but this is relatively cheap and if it’s as cheap as caffeine then it should be made available to everyone.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

St Lucia in “national crisis” due to banana plant disease

CASTRIES, St Lucia, Friday January 20, 2012 – Minister for Agriculture and Food Production Moses Jn.  Baptiste said the country is facing a national crisis as the Black Sigatoka Disease continues to ravage the banana sector, a significant foreign exchange earner.

The government revealed it has asked a team of experts from the University of the West Indies to assist in combating the fungal disease that destroys banana leaves causing them to turn yellow and brown.

He said the country’s response requires support from the highest level and from all St Lucians, to avoid “total disaster”.

“I want to re-emphasise that this situation was left to develop into a crisis proportion and this calls for urgent and decisive action,   Therefore the government in which I serve will spare no effort as we seek to confront and manage this dreaded disease which is threatening the livelihoods of a wide cross section of our society,” he assured.

The minister said a “proactive and multifaceted approach” is being taken to prevent widespread destruction of the sector, including a review of a short-term plan of action.

Fungicides would also be provided to banana producers to spray plantations, he stated.

“In addition the Ministry has prepared a proposal, which details an action plan and suggests that a Task Force may be necessary to deal with the problem of Black Sigatoka. This proposal will go to my Cabinet colleagues for their consideration this week.   It will also encompass all banana and plantain farmers and there will also be a very serious and sustained education component to this plan.”

Meetings have been held with major banana stakeholders such as the National Fair Trade Organisation, WINFRESH and the Banana Production Management Unit.

Black Sigatoka is a leaf spot disease caused by ascomycete fungus Mycosphaerella fijiensis (Morelet). The first symptoms are narrow, rusty, reddish-brown streaks on the underside of leaves


Banana - Black Sigatoka Disease

The following article about BLACK SIGATOKA was written (in 1995) by Paula Flynn, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Iowa.

“Black Sigatoka is a leaf spot disease of banana that can cut a tree's fruit production in half. The fungal disease causes dark leaf spots that eventually enlarge and coalesce, causing much of the leaf area to turn yellow and brown. The high rainfall and humidity of the tropical regions in which bananas are grown are especially favorable for disease development. The fungus that causes black Sigatoka (Mycosphaerella fijiensis) is spread from tree to tree by wind, rain, and irrigation water. The name black Sigatoka was given to the disease because it was first discovered in 1963 in the Sigatoka Valley of Fiji.

“Black Sigatoka is a difficult and expensive disease to control. It is estimated that 15-20% of the price of bananas is due to the cost of the disease control measures that are used to produce the fruit. Airplanes or helicopters are used to apply fungicides to leaves. Cultural practices such as removing diseased leaves and pruning branches to improve air circulation are also helpful in reducing the occurrence of the disease, but these practices are labor intensive.

“Because fungicides are used so frequently, growers are finding that the fungus is becoming resistant to the fungicide products applied to the crop. In addition, many of the farmers that operate small plantations cannot afford to purchase fungicides. A convenient and low-cost way to control the disease would be to grow banana varieties that are resistant to the disease, but the most popular banana cultivars grown are extremely susceptible to black Sigatoka. Fortunately, banana hybrids that show resistance to this disease are being developed. More work still needs to be done to identify hybrids that produce fruit with a good shelf life and that are acceptable in taste to the consumer.”

Monday, January 23, 2012

UK boosts Caribbean aid

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Monday January 23, 2012 - The Caribbean is to receive £75 million (US$116.5 million) in development projects from the United Kingdom over four years to help with job-creation, improve security, and combat the threat posed by natural disasters and climate change.
UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague 

UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague said the funds represent a considerable increase on previous aid budgets, signaling the strong commitment to the region.

The disclosure was made during the just-ended two-day 7th Seventh UK-Caribbean Ministerial Forum held under the theme, “Sustainable Growth Towards Prosperity”.
We are one of the few nations in the world that is maintaining its international development commitments at a time of financial difficulty. We will stick to our pledge to raise our aid to 0.7 of GNI (gross national income), and you will find us a reliable partner,” he told participants.

Foreign Secretary Hague said the core task of both regions was to create new opportunities for trade, investment and innovation in their respective economies.
Sam Condor, the Foreign Minister for St Kitts and Nevis and the forum co-chair explained that the conference revitalized the partnership between the two regions as reflected in the 31-point Plan of Action agreed to.

The discussions, he stated, centred on economic resilience, climate change and security as well as the UK Air Passenger Duty (APD), which regional officials complain discriminates against the Caribbean.

Minister Condor stated that the region’s tourism sector was staggering under the weight of the tax that has made travel very expensive.

He urged the UK to consider reforming the APD to level the playing field and provide a win-win situation for both regions.

Jeremy Browne, Minister of State, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office described the two-day political dialogue as fruitful, noting that the Forum provided a framework for continuing activities with the High Commissioners in London. 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Central Bank says Barbados economy stabilized in 2011

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday January 18, 2012 - The Central Bank of Barbados said government must strictly adhere to the targets of its Medium Term Fiscal Strategy to maintain the economic stability achieved in 2011.

That plan is designed to achieve a balanced budget by 2016/2017.

The bank, in its economic performance review for 2011 and prospects for 2012, stated that the fiscal deficit was down more than two per cent of GDP from the previous 7.4 per cent for the latter nine months of last year, in line with the revised strategy targets.

The economy grew by an estimated at 0.5 per cent last year aided by increases in construction (4.4 per cent), tourism outputs (0.3 per cent), and transport and communications sectors (0.6 per cent).

The United States and United Kingdom markets rose, while the Barbados-based low-cost airline REDjet boosted arrivals from the CARICOM region led by a 35 per cent increase the Trinidad and Tobago market.

“Tourist numbers have increased, but length of stay and average spending have fallen, leading to an increase in tourism output that was marginal, at 0.3 percent,” the bank stated.

It noted that Barbados’ tourism remains competitive because the country is known as a high quality destination, adding, “In order to maintain a competitive edge in tourism, the industry must attain and maintain international standards at all times.”

The Central Bank called for further investment in refurbishment and upgrades of hotels and tourism facilities, including the cultural and historical legacy of the country.

Foreign exchange spending of BDS$5.5 billion (US$2.75 billion) was financed almost entirely from tourist inflows, earnings from the International Business and Financial Services sector, exports and capital inflows.

“As a result there was a minimal need to draw on the Central Bank’s foreign exchange reserves, which fell by only 1 percent between the end of 2010 and December 2011,” the bank explained.

“The Barbados currency remains well protected, with foreign reserve cover of 18 weeks of imports at December 2011, comfortably above the international norm of 12 weeks.”

Growth prospects for 2012 are tempered by the unsettled international climate, while the medium term growth prospects are encouraging, once the international economy settles down, the bank said further.

“The growth rate in 2012 may be one per cent or less, unless the international economic and financial climate improves. Construction of tourism facilities and Government’s housing initiatives are expected to be the main drivers,” it explained.

“In the medium term, growth rates of 2 to 3 percent are possible, provided the strategies mentioned earlier are successfully implemented,” the central bank said



A rising proportion of abortions worldwide are putting women's health at risk, researchers say.

The World Health Organization study suggests global abortion rates are steady, at 28 per 1,000 women a year.

However, the proportion of the total carried out without trained clinical help rose from 44% in 1995 to 49% in 2008.

The Lancet, which carried the report, said the figures were "deeply disturbing".

Unsafe abortion is one of the main contributors to maternal death worldwide, and refers to procedures outside hospitals, clinics and surgeries, or without qualified medical supervision.

Women are more vulnerable to dangerous infection or bleeding in these environments.

Maternal mortality

In developing countries, particularly those with more restrictive abortion laws, most abortions are unsafe, with 97% of abortions in Africa described this way.

In comparison, 95% of abortions in Latin America were deemed unsafe, falling to 40% in Asia, 15% in Oceania and 9% in Europe.

To compile the figures - often a difficult task in countries where abortion is illegal - the researchers used surveys, official statistics and hospital records.

They concluded that while the abortion rate had fallen since 1995, that drop had now levelled off, and overall, the rise in world population meant that there were 2.2 million more abortions in 2008 compared with 2003.

In the developed world, the proportion of pregnancies ending in abortion fell from 36% in 1995 to 26% in 2008.

Countries with restrictive abortion laws did not have a corresponding decrease in abortion rate - in some cases, the reverse was true.

Professor Beverly Winikoff, from Gynuity, a New York organisation which pushes for access to safer abortion, wrote in the Lancet: "Unsafe abortion is one of the five major contributors to maternal mortality, causing one in every seven or eight maternal deaths in 2008.

"Yet, when abortion is provided with proper medical techniques and care, the risk of death is negligible and nearly 14 times lower than that of childbirth.

"The data continue to confirm what we have known for decades - that women who wish to terminate unwanted pregnancies will seek abortion at any cost, even if it is illegal or involves risk to their own lives."

Dr Richard Horton, the Lancet's editor, said: "These latest figures are deeply disturbing. The progress made in the 1990s is now in reverse.

"Condemning, stigmatising and criminalising abortion are cruel and failed strategies."

Kate Hawkins, from the Sexuality and Development Programme at the Institute of Development Studies, said: "Whether it is legal or illegal, women will seek abortions and obtain abortions.

"This study showed that in 2008, 86% of abortions took place in developing countries and that nearly half of all abortions worldwide were unsafe in 2008.

"That women continue to die in significant numbers because of unsafe abortion is a scandal and is an issue that the development sector should take seriously."

The UK Department for International Development part-funded the study, and International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell MP said it was a "tragedy" that the number of "back-street" abortions was rising.

"Women should be able to decide for themselves whether, when and how many children to have - but for many this is not a reality as they have no access to family planning.

"Over the next four years, British aid will give 10 million women access to modern contraception, which will prevent millions of unintended pregnancies."


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Regional primary exit assessment discussed with Dominican stakeholders

ROSEAU, Dominica, Monday January 16, 2012 - The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) is moving ahead with plans to implement the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA) in May as part of a pilot programme.

The assessment implications were discussed last week during three days of consultations with local stakeholders including Ministry of Education officials, principals, teachers and parents.

“This is different for the very reason that it focuses on formative assessment and it allows for many more areas of students’ learning to be assessed,” said Maureen Grazette, Curriculum Development Officer at CXC.

“Students will be given credits in a continuous way instead of the one shot process that exists with the current assessment practices in schools.”

CXC has said the CPEA, to be introduced in Dominica, Grenada and Anguilla, is in response to calls from Caribbean leaders for a regional primary exit examination that assesses key areas of literacy including language, mathematics, civics and science.

According to council, the CPEA will assist with “the quality measures in the education system and offer a common measure across schools and countries in the region.”

The assessment also aims to help students achieve at higher levels of education by setting foundations for a seamless transition to secondary education, Grazette noted.

“There is a recognition that sometimes students go on to that second level of education without the necessary pre-requisites in order to do well,” she stated.

“So one of the essential ingredients in this programme is the identification of the core literacies that students must have in order to cope with the core programmes for the secondary level exams,” she said further.

Dominica opposition party gets new leader after losing dual citizenship case

ROSEAU, Dominica, Monday January 16, 2012 – Former Prime Minister Edison James is once again at the helm of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP), replacing Ron Green who opted against re-election less than a week after he lost a dual citizenship case against the prime minister and education minister.

James, 68, who served as prime minister from 1995 to 2000, said he was ready to lead the party into general elections, constitutionally due in 2014.

“There is no reluctance on my part to put everything that I have into implementing these functions,” he told those gathered at the UWP’s 22nd Delegates Convention on Sunday.

He struck aside complaints that he may be too old for the job, stating, “This brain in here might be sixty eight years old, but the waist is strong. Don’t test me.”

The UWP said the convention was the first step in an island-wide campaign to boost the party’s readiness to take over government control whenever general election is called.

James, who formerly served as president of the UWP for three years, thanked Green - now a trustee - for his years of leadership.

The UWP leader also appealed to supporters to help fund the party’s campaign to appeal last week’s High Court ruling, which found that PM Roosevelt Skerrit and Education Minister Petter Saint Jean legally contested the 2009 general elections.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Russia: Attack on Tehran is Attack on Moscow

Russia has given Iran its bear hug and warns Israel and the West that an attack on Tehran would be considered an attack on Moscow.

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Russia has given Iran its bear hug and warns Israel and the West that an attack on Tehran would be considered an attack on Moscow. The threat heightens the prospect of World War III in the event of a military strike on Iran.

Iran is our neighbor,” Russia's outgoing ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, told reporters in Brussels. “And if Iran is involved in any military action, it’s a direct threat to our security.”

Kremlin Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev accused Israel of provoking the United States towards war against Iran, the Russian Interfax news agency reported Friday. “But at the same time, we believe that any country has the right to have what it needs to feel comfortable, including Iran," he added.

Rogozin warned on Friday that more attacks on Iran could cause "a scorching Arab Summer."

Russia also has come to the defense of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, warning Western nations not to intervene in Syria with military forces. Russia is a major arms supplier to Syria and has a heavy investment in Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Japan also is drifting towards Iran, backtracking from its promise last week to back American sanctions aimed at persuading Iran to halt its unsupervised nuclear development.

Last week’s assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist has aroused more “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” protest rallies in Iran, where the scientist was buried on Friday.

Iranian state radio said the 32-year-old scientist was involved with enriched uranium, a key ingredient for a nuclear weapon.


Barbados protecting international reputation

In the midst of all the criticisms leveled against the "Rochamel experiment" and in view of the collapse of the "La Paradis Hotel" project, the CHOISEUL POWERHOUSE is pleased to publish the story below.

The question is: (a) Is the Barbados Government learning lessons Rochamel and La Paradis? Read on and share your opinion.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday January 12, 2012 – After months of speculation and closed-door negotiations Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Christopher Sinckler has confirmed that the Barbados National Insurance Scheme (NIS) will invest in the beleaguered Four Seasons resort project.

Paradise Beach Limited, the company seeking to restart Four Seasons, had sought last year a BDS$60 million investment from the NIS, and Minister Sinckler confirmed yesterday that the entity would join the national insurance schemes of Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines as minority investors in the Barbados-based tourism project.

At a function of the Barbados Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (BARAIFA) yesterday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Complex, Sinckler noted that while the project had become an international failure following the inability of the original developers to complete the project on time and within budget; by the failure occurring on Barbadian soil, the island became negatively associated.

Sinckler noted that the controversial hotel and residencies at Paradise Beach, St Michael, that had attracted some of the world’s wealthiest, including Simon Cowell and Andrew Lloyd Webber, but this had also led to “a certain circus” in the international media because these powerful people had invested a considerable amounts of money in that project and have nothing to show for it.

“That is not something we wanted on the face of Barbados’ good name, therefore the late Prime Minister [David Thompson], having contemplated all of these issues, surmised that we had to find a way to get this project restarted,” the Minister said.

Following the settlements of outstanding debts of US$60 million to suppliers in November 2010, there was an air of optimism that work would have commenced in full. However, this was not to be.

Nonetheless, it is expected that with the injection of funds from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Four Seasons should be on its way in 2012.

Sinckler said: “We are in the process to move ahead. The IDB, ANSA Merchant Bank and Four Seasons Company have agreed to put US$180 million into the project to get it going again.”

He added, “The IDB will give formal approval of the investment in February, and from there hopefully we can get this project on the way. The villa owners have indicated that once they are provided with this information they are prepared to start their investment in the project as their investments will be protected.”

Sinckler said, “Four Seasons would bring tremendous value added to Barbados tourism project. Just consider the fact in the last thirty years we have not had a major brand name property on that high level.”

He pointed out that Barbados is one of the few countries in the Caribbean that doesn’t have a major brand name. As such, all of the expertise training, human resource and marketing power in the tourism sector is supported predominantly by Government providing money to the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) to market properties in this country.

He explained further that the other problem with Four Seasons is that when the original operators of the projected decided to close it down they left close to $120 million in debt owed to various suppliers, the majority of them small businesses.

Government therefore intervened to get those resources to assist the affected businesses.

The original contemplation of international financial advisor, Professor Avinash Persaud, and his group was that if that the $120 million was cleared, the original villa owners would put their money in.

However, he noted that they expressed dissatisfaction that the original operators closed the project down.
“They were not confident about coming back to put money in a project and had nothing to show. Persaud and his team were overly optimistic at that time. However, Government will not turn its back on the project,” Sinckler added.

Friday, January 13, 2012


. . . because many of us literally equate “shooting” with “killing”, the news that Nadia Johnny of Mongouge was shot understandably sent shockwaves through the Mongouge community. We first learned that a police bullet had gone through her neck; later we understood that the bullet went through her arm.

As the story unfolded, we learned that the bullet did not come from a police gun but that a prison officer who was “defending” himself against an attack by an ex-convict. Unfortunately, Nadia - an innocent passer-by – simply happened to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time” and she became an instance of collateral damage.

Nadia was an outstanding student in her final year at Grambling State University (GSU) pursuing a degree in Accounting.

I knew Nadia from childhood and later on went on to teach her Physics and ICT at the Choiseul Secondary School. She was a very soft-spoken student and was barely audible when she spoke in class; and because of her “diminutive” physique and low profile, she was barely “visible”.

But whatever she missed out in “voice”, physique and social profile, she "more than" made up for it in academic brilliance/excellence.

Nadia was no doubt an A-student; and her academic excellence followed her all the way to GSU where her GPA average never fell below 4.0.

I last saw her (along with her Mum, brother and young son) on Christmas holiday when she came to visit me on a professional matter. We spoke at length about her studies and I found out, despite her academic brilliance, she was having much financial difficulty making ends meet. Now another layer of difficulty has been added to her ordeal.

Nadia was due to leave on Sunday, January 15 to resume her studies.

I wish her God's blessings and a speedy recovery, so that she can resume her studies at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the authorities may want to consider granting her some financial relief as a part of her indemnity package.

Nadia is a close relative of ex-policeman Leonard Johnny who is in the final stage of completing his PhD in criminology at the University of the West Indies..