Report: Western Union, MoneyGram Charge Africans Twice as Much to Send Money Home

western union moneygram 350x188 Report: Western Union, MoneyGram Charge Africans Twice as Much to Send Money Home

Report: Western Union, MoneyGram Charge Africans Twice as Much to Send Money Home

A new report found that Western Union and Moneygram reportedly charge Africans working in the U.S. and Europe twice as much to wire money home than their Latin American and Southeast Asian counterparts.

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) found that transactions fees cost the region an estimated $1.8 billion annually. Western Union and MoneyGram account for two-thirds of remittances, or $586 million of the loss associated with fees, the report found.

Remittance fees have gone down for people sending money to Southeast Asia and Latin America, which is in keeping with G8 and G20 targets to reduce transactions costs, but the cost of sending money home to Africa has remained the same.

The remittances to Africa account for five percent of the continent’s GDP. Maria Quattri, one of the authors of the ODI report, told Al Jazeera that the “message of the report is the poorest people in the world, Africans, are paying the highest charges for remittance fees.”

Quattri calls for better regulation of money transfer service providers and banks. She blamed a lack of competition in the industry for the exorbitant fees.

She said, “We want to see greater transparency on charges, in particular charges on currency conversion fees.” She added that ODI has called on U.S. and British financial regulators to better assess transaction costs. She also called for international governments to promote the creation of more viable money transfer providers.

Read more at america.aljazeera.com

 Report: Western Union, MoneyGram Charge Africans Twice as Much to Send Money Home

Dominican Republic Reports 17 Confirmed Cases of Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Illness

chikungunya illness 350x196 Dominican Republic Reports 17 Confirmed Cases of Mosquito Borne Chikungunya Illness

Dominican Republic Reports 17 Confirmed Cases of Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Illness

The Dominican Republic released figures on a new mosquito-borne illness, chikungunya, that seems to be spreading in the Caribbean. The DR reported there are 17 confirmed cases and 767 suspected cases of chikungunya, with the suspected number of cases in the Caribbean rising about 20 percent in the week to 29,760.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) released a report on the 16 communicable disease threats, including the first case counts for chikungunya. The disease was first discovered in 2013 in Saint Martin and has since spread across the Caribbean.

Chikungunya is carried by the Aedes aegypti, the Yellow Fever mosquito. The University of Florida reports that the Aedes aegypti is found in 23 states.

 Dominican Republic Reports 17 Confirmed Cases of Mosquito Borne Chikungunya Illness

287 Missing and 9 Dead, in South Korea Ferry Disaster

 

south korean ship 350x196 287 Missing and 9 Dead, in South Korea Ferry Disaster

287 Missing, 9 Dead, After Ferry Carrying South Korean Students Sink

Nine people were killed, 287 remain missing, after a ferry carrying mostly high school students sunk off the southern coast of South Korea on Wednesday. Officials say the death toll is expected to rise drastically, as dozens of rescue ships and aircraft continue searching for survivors.

The ferry was set to sail from Incheon Tuesday evening heading for Jeju, a popular tourist destination about located 12 hours away. The ferry sent a distress signal at about 9 a.m. local time on Wednesday morning,  after it began leaning to one side. The cause of the accident has not been determined.

At Least 200 Girls Kidnapped in Attack on Nigerian School in Chibok

chibok nigeria 350x230 At Least 200 Girls Kidnapped in Attack on Nigerian School in Chibok

At Least 200 Girls Kidnapped in Attack on Nigerian School in Chibok (Attribution Unknown)

BBC News reports that scores of girls were abducted from a north-east Nigerian school their parents said.

The gunmen reportedly arrived at the school, located in Chibok, Borno state, late Monday night and ordered the teenage girls to board trucks.

At least 200 girls were abducted.

 

Moroccan Women Stage March in Rabat Demanding Gender Equality

morocco 350x238 Moroccan Women Stage March in Rabat Demanding Gender Equality

Moroccan Women Stage March in Rabat Demanding Gender Equality (Photo credit: Cristi Moise)

 Moroccan Women Stage March in Rabat Demanding Gender EqualityMorocco women march to demand gender equality (via AFP)

A group of around 800 Moroccans, mostly women, staged a march in the capital Rabat on Sunday demanding that a constitutional guarantee of gender equality be applied in the kingdom. The march from the city centre to parliament was led by the Civil Coalition…

Jamaican Sprinter Asafa Powell Gets 18-Month Ban for Doping

asafa powell 350x265 Jamaican Sprinter Asafa Powell Gets 18 Month Ban for Doping

Jamaican Sprinter Asafa Powell Gets 18-Month Ban for Doping (Credit: Olympics.org)

Jamaican sprinter and former 100-meter world record holder, Asafa Powell, was banned for 18 months over doping allegations.

Powell, 31, tested positive for the banned stimulant oxilofrone at Jamaica’s national trials last June.  He has been suspended from competing since news of his doping case broke in July.

A panel of the island’s Anti-Doping Commission announced their decision to ban Powell on Thursday in Kingston.

Asafa Powell’s ban begins from the date his sample was collected, June 21, 2013. He will be eligible to compete on December 20.

Powell, like former teammate Sherone Simpson, who is banned until Dec. 20, blamed the findings on a physiotherapist who supplied them with supplements.

 Jamaican Sprinter Asafa Powell Gets 18 Month Ban for Doping

Giant Artwork of a Child Shows Drone Operators Face of Targets in Pakistani Region

bugsplat 350x220 Giant Artwork of a Child Shows Drone Operators Face of Targets in Pakistani Region

Giant Artwork of a Child Shows Drone Operators Face of Targets in Pakistani Region

An art collective to raise awareness about civilian casualties of U.S. drone strikes, has installed a giant portrait of a child facing upward in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan, which is frequently hit by drone strikes.  

The portrait, entitled #NotABugSplat, when viewed by a drone camera, shows the face of a child staring back, not seen by a screen in a control room as a dot against a grainy landscape. This has led to the creation of the term “bug splat.”

The campaign was launched by Reprieve UK and The Foundation for Fundamental Rights, in conjunction with JR’s Inside Out Project-connected artists collective.

 Giant Artwork of a Child Shows Drone Operators Face of Targets in Pakistani Region

Jamaican Government Rebuffs Deal for Prisoner Transfers from Great Britain

handcuffs 350x262 Jamaican Government Rebuffs Deal for Prisoner Transfers from Great Britain

Jamaican Government Rebuffs Deal for Prisoner Transfers from Great Britain

British politicians are upset with the Jamaican government after it rebuffed the United Kingdom over a compulsory deal to send Jamaican nationals in its prisons back to the Caribbean island nation. Jamaican courts have said it would be unconstitutional. That has ticked off many in the British media.

The Jamaica Observer reports that Jamaicans make up the third largest foreign nationals in the British prisons. There are 692 men and 45 women, who make up the total number of 10,600 foreigners, from 157 countries in British prisons. The total cost to the British government is an estimated £400 million a year. 

It’s interesting to note that a voluntary agreement for prisoner transfer from England to Jamaica had been reached in 2007, but it has yet to be ratified in the Jamaican parliament. The prospects of that happening are next to nil.

Even if the British government was able to reach a deal with the Jamaican government to transfer the prisoners back to island, the question arises of whether or not those prisoners would consent to such a deal? The reality is the prisons in Jamaica are far more deplorable and harsher than the prisons in the United Kingdom. The prisoners could sue the British government under Article 3 of the Human Rights Act, claiming that they would be subjected to “inhuman and degrading treatment” if placed in prisons in their own countries.

So what’s the solution?

Last year British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that taxpayers would fund a major prison building program in poor countries such as Jamaica and Nigeria because no prisoners would choose to go to a foreign prison where conditions are far worse than that of British prisons. Cameron said, “When people are sent to prison in the UK we should do everything we can to make sure that if they’re foreign nationals, they are sent back to their country to serve their sentence in a foreign prison,” the Daily Mail reports.

Cameron added, “We should be using all of the influence we have to sign prisoner transfer agreements with those countries. Even if necessary frankly helping them to build prisons in their own country so we can send the prisoners home.” 

Sounds like a bribe to me…on both sides. The British taxpayers are footing the bill to toss the foreign prisoners out and the respective countries are getting new prisons to house these inmates.  The Jamaican government is clearly in no economic or social position to take these prisoners back. Look at the rampant crime that prisoners transferred from the U.S. has caused?

Still, it seems to me that if the British government really wanted to force the Jamaican government into action, it could by revoking visas like the U.S. government did when it sought the arrest of druglord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. Still, the relationship between the U.S. and Jamaica is different. The British government colonized and as some would say, plundered the tiny Caribbean island. This also plays into recent drive to seek reparations from the United Kingdom.

 Jamaican Government Rebuffs Deal for Prisoner Transfers from Great Britain

Marijuana Growers Association Launched in Jamaica

marijuana 350x233 Marijuana Growers Association Launched in Jamaica

Marijuana Growers Association Launched in Jamaica

A group of marijuana growers, including medical marijuana business owners from Canada and Colorado, met in Kingston, Jamaica to officially launch the Ganja Future Growers and Producers Association. The group will lobby for the creation of a regulated marijuana industry. As you know, Jamaica isn’t simply known for its white sandy beaches, reggae music or its jerked cuisine, but for ganja!

Rupert Lewis, a professor who represented the University of the West Indies’ Mona campus, said, “Jamaica has a prime opportunity to enter and revolutionize an industry that could have an enormous kickback on our growth and development potential.”

I am guessing Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller approves of this new association, since the moderator for the meeting on Saturday was Kingston Mayor Angela Brown-Burke, who is also a senator and vice president of the ruling People’s National Party.

Marijuana is outlawed in Jamaica, but the country is in need of a big economic boost and lifting restrictions on marijuana could pay off. Pot legalization is gaining traction across the globe. Reform supporters believe legalization would pay off for the ‘no problem mon!’ island. The island could become a mecca for medical marijuana research, develop new ganja products and global exportation to countries where cannabis is legal.

 Marijuana Growers Association Launched in Jamaica

Afghan Cop Kills Photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, Wounds Reporter Kathy Gannon

anja niedringhaus 350x245 Afghan Cop Kills Photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, Wounds Reporter Kathy Gannon

Afghan Cop Kills Photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, Wounds Reporter Kathy Gannon

A police unit commander is in custody after two female journalists working for the Associated Press were attacked in eastern Afghanistan leaving one dead and one wounded. Anja Niedringhaus was killed and Kathy Gannon wounded, BBC News reports.

The attack occurred in the Khost, located near the border with Pakistan.

The attack comes as Afghanistan steps up security ahead of the presidential elections on Saturday. The Taliban is threatening violence.

BBC News reports Anja Niedringhaus, 48, was killed immediately, while Kathy Gannon, 60, received medical treatment. The women came under attack while traveling with election workers who were delivering ballots i the Tanay district of Khost.

[Image credit:  Parstimes]