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Published:Saturday | May 25, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Trough to bring heavy showers into Monday

Sections of the island are experiencing a welcomed relief from dry conditions this weekend into Monday.

The Meteorological Service Division reports that a persistent trough across Jamaica and the central Caribbean will bring showers, which may be heavy at times, over the period.

Projections are for periods of showers and thunderstorms to affect sections of most parishes, especially during the afternoons.

Fishers and other marine operators are urged to exercise caution as sea conditions will deteriorate in the vicinity of showers and thunderstorms.



Expert warns of Caribbean heat season


A Caribbean climatologist says that while the Caribbean is best known for having wet, dry and hurricane seasons, a little known fact is that the region also has a distinct heat season.

Cédric Van Meerbeeck, climatologist at the Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) says that since about 1995, the Caribbean has had a distinct heat season which lasts from about May to October and is forecast to be more intense this year that the last two years.

“And during that heat season, you find that the levels of heat discomfort and heat stress [increases] so that’s impacting your health, also the health of some animals,” Van Meerbeeck said, adding this has implication for comfort levels as well as major sectors in the region, such as tourism and agriculture.

He said that while the heat season peaks in September, the region has its most heat waves between August and October.

The climatologist said that for the first half of the heat season, the air is still relatively dry, therefore, the temperatures are not necessarily so uncomfortable.

“But it is really that second part of the heat season that we want to warn against. Keep cool; don’t go in the sun in the middle of the day; seek shade, seek ventilation in your homes.

“If you have an AC, make sure you run the AC while you sleep so that your brain and your body can recover better and that you can function normal in the face of the heat,” the climatologist advised.



CARICOM education ministers meet next week over CXC concerns

ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC):

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) education ministers meet in Barbados next week to discuss issues relating to the examinations set by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC).

Antigua and Barbuda Information Minister Melford Nicholas, speaking at the end of the weekly cabinet meeting, noted that the reputation of the Barbados-based CXC could be affected following reports of misconduct during a sitting in Trinidad and Tobago.

“The CXC, over its life, has achieved a certain degree of acceptance as an entry point for universities across the globe. So this particular issue is troublesome in the sense that if we, … from across CARICOM, do not handle it correctly, it could do some harm to the reputation of the CXC process itself. So they have got to deal with that."

The Cabinet statement said that questions concerning the open-book mathematics CXC exam which was initiated by invigilators in Trinidad, though the exam was to have been without materials, will be discussed.

Hundreds of persons across the region have signed a petition calling for the 2019 CSEC mathematics exam to be redone, in light of a breach in security in Trinidad and Tobago.

The petition comes after CXC issued a statement advising that it had launched an investigation into the cheating incident.

Three invigilators have since been fired following the circulation of a video on social media showing students at a certain secondary school on their phones during the CSEC math exam.

Nicholas said if the resit of the exams is required to protect the CXC’s reputation and credibility, then the regional examination body should consider such a proposal.



Jamaica only Caribbean country in IAEA project to help fight food fraud

VIENNA, Austria (CMC):

Jamaica is the only Caribbean country included in a five-year research project announced on Wednesday by the Austria-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to refine methods to apply nuclear-derived techniques to test for accuracy in food labels.

It said that the participating countries in the research project, which started with a kick-off meeting last week, are China, Costa Rica, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, New Zealand, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand and Uruguay.

IAEA said that the outcome of the project, carried out in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will assist countries in combatting fraud in high-value food products, such as premium honey, coffee and speciality rice varieties.

“Numerous foods are sold at premium prices because of specific production methods, or geographical origins,” said project coordinator and IAEA food safety specialist Simon Kelly.

“In order to protect consumers from fraud and potential unintended food safety issues, we need standardised methods to confirm that the product has the characteristics that are claimed on the label.”

The project will help countries apply stable isotope techniques to protect and promote foods with added-value, such as organic food or products with specific geographical origins like Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

The method works by looking at the ratio of stable isotopes in elements – such as hydrogen, oxygen and carbon – and the concentration of elements in a sample of the product. These can provide a unique fingerprint that links a crop to the place where it is cultivated.