A mass campaign designed to discourage the misuse of social media has been rolled out in Sierra Leone ahead of the country’s election next year.According to the country’s Ministry of Information the move is aimed at preventing violence due to irresponsible use of social media. Information Minister Mohamed Bangura said the exercise is geared towards conflict prevention especially given rising tensions within political parties as they seek their presidential candidates.“This is not only about the government. It is in the interest of the entire country,” Mr Bangura said.The ministry also said this will help avert the government from regulating social media, as a means of last resort, due to its potential to destabilise the country, the Africa Review reports.“New media, if not properly managed, has the potential to take this country to an unpleasant situation.”The minister also pointed out that over 24,000 people will trained and deployed across the West African nation to help in the mass educational exercise.A civil society organization, Heal Salone has been tasked with mobilizing volunteers and disseminating specially tailored messages.There has been talk within the Sierra Leonean government in the last five months to regulate the use of social media but civil society activists have opposed such a move saying it would stifle the freedom of speech.Mr Bangura, however, warned that if this “last-ditch campaign” is unsuccessful, the government will resort to enacting stringent laws.“If all this fails, then as a government we will come in, because we have a job to do… We will come out with robust laws, you can interpret them as clampdown or whatever… but this country is entitled to live in peace,” he said.Sierra Leone will hold its election in February 2018.
The African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) forces ended a ten-day training course on Sunday in a move aimed at stepping up efforts to counter widespread use of explosives.The training for the South West state police officers held in the administrative capital, Baidoa in southern Somalia, focused on prevention and detection of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) which has become the preferred weapon of choice for Al-Shabaab and other militant groups in Somalia.AMISOM Inspector of Police, Sahr Emmanuel Kobai-Aruna noted in his closing remarks that the training was meant to enhance the capacity of the South West Police Force, adding that the officers were taken through a number of topics on safety and security.“This is part of AMISOM’s mandate to capacitate Somali Police Force and we taught them some components of IED/ Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD); the types EOD/IED and other management course modules,” said Kobai-Aruna in a statement issued after the training.“We even taught them first aid at crime scene and casualty awareness assessment,” added Kobai-Aruna.The training course, which reviewed threats, posed by IEDs was aimed at equipping the Somali police with vital skills to detect explosives planted by terrorists.“We have just finished the course on IED and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) for 15 participants drawn from Somali police force,” said Tresphord Kasale, the AMISOM Police Coordinator for South West State.“The purpose of this course was to create awareness (among) the officers so that they are able to identify IEDs and be able to call upon experts to come and defuse them,” Kasale added.He said the training was also aimed at creating awareness among the general public on the dangers of explosives and how to identify them.He urged the public to inform security officers whenever they detect or identify an IED, for safe handling and detonation, to prevent loss of life and destruction of property.Kasale said the AU mission has played a crucial role in establishing the South West State Police Force, by training 600 police officers, who have played a major role in improving security in the region.In addition, another 600 police officers in Jubbaland have also been trained and plans are underway to recruit and train more officers in HirShabelle state next year.
By STEVE HATHCOCKSpecial to the PRESSEvery now and then I am asked about light houses on Padre Island.Today if a visitor to the Island wanted to explore an old lighthouse, they would need to make their way across the Laguna Madre to Port Isabel where they will find a perfectly preserved stone tower measuring some 80 feet in height. This structure sits in the center of Lighthouse Square and is surrounded by gift shops and restaurants and draws thousands of visitors each year. But Port Isabel has not always had a monopoly on lighthouses.The earliest mention of a light on Padre Island was contained in an article carried in the 1853 issue of American Seamen’s Friend Society, which was a journal of the day devoted to the needs of the modern mariner. The editor described a new light that had been established on the southern end of Padre Island, and north of the Brazos PassageThe light was placed atop a square tower constructed of wood, painted black, which sat atop wheels so that it could be moved about in much the same manner as the men of Troy moved the horse into the city. Because of its color it was easily distinguished from other objects by day. Its light could be seen 3.5 miles out to sea. The keeper’s house was located about a quarter mile from it.In 1855, lighthouse inspector W.H. Stevens submitted the following report:“Sir: In accordance with the annual circular from the Light-house Board, I have the honor to submit the following report on light-house service in my district:A new dwelling for the keeper at Point Isabel light-house has been built, and a new structure for the beacon at Padre Island, Brazos St. Jago, to receive the 5th order lens belonging to that light. The general condition of the different branches of the lighthouse service is, I believe, unexceptionable. The want of clerkly ability among some of the keepers causes some unsightly returns, but all are honest and faithful.I do not anticipate any extensive repairs or renovations during the ensuing year, except for the dwelling of the keeper of the beacon light on Padre Island. This house should be removed, so as to be nearer the beacon, and will need some repairs. It was never completely finished. The sum of $500 will cover the necessary expense.”The following year the tower received a 5th order Fresnel lens making its light 35 feet above sea level. It was used as an entrance light for Brazos Pass. At the onset of the Civil War, the Confederates destroyed the Padre Island light. The Point Isabel light, with its 4-foot thick walls, resisted several attempts to blow it up. Not to be totally defeated in their effort to extinguish the powerful beacon, Confederate Rip Ford ordered the removal of the lens, which effectively neutralized any night use of the tower.The lighthouse board established a temporary light on Padre Island in 1864 and immediately sought funding for a permanent tower. Ten years later a hurricane washed the wooden structure away and Congress appropriated $25,000 for a new tower.Surprisingly, it took 4 years for the Board to obtain the site, which was located just to the south of the present day Coast Guard Station, from the State of Texas. Construction of a frame dwelling on screw piles in began in 1878. The keeper exhibited the light, which was perched above the living quarters, on March 1, 1879. That same year the board established a fixed light atop a square white tower 25 feet in height on the south side of Brazos Santiago. (This light was destroyed in a hurricane sometime in the 1880s.)The Padre Island Light caught fire and burned on March 8, 1940. A low power, temporary light was put in place but it was some time before the radio beacon was replaced. Blackouts were in effect during most of the war years and Padre Island itself was quarantined. The old light finally faded into obscurity and has since been dismantled.An era had come to an end.Want the whole story? Pick up a copy of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here. RelatedWriter’s Block: Birds of a FeatherBy DINA ARÉVALO Port Isabel-South Padre Press firstname.lastname@example.org If you drive down Highway 100, just west of the Port Isabel city limits and out past Laguna Heights, you’ll see a familiar sight. To the right, between the bay and the road, is a blur of dusty green vegetation. Thick brushy weeds,…February 26, 2016In “Editor’s Column”Lighthouse officially reopensBy DINA ARÉVALO Port Isabel-South Padre Press email@example.com After more than a year spent hidden beneath a layer of scaffolding, the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse was officially reopened to visitors Tuesday. The City of Port Isabel, in partnership with the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce, celebrated the reopening of the iconic…January 26, 2018In “News”Rio History: Treasure Hunting at Isla Blanca ParkBy STEVE HATHCOCK Special to the PRESS The tide was out when we arrived at Isla Blanca Park at the southernmost tip of South Padre Island. My friend John headed to the water to hunt for jewelry while I worked my way south to a small sandbar that is only…January 18, 2019In “News” Share