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Meet the woman who accidentally ticked: ‘I am a terrorist’

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Cancer patient Mandie Stevenson had to postpone a bucket list trip to New York after she accidentally labelled herself a terrorist on her visa waiver form.

The online application asked if she was seeking to or had ever engaged in terrorist activities or genocide.

Mandie, from Falkirk, mistakenly answered “yes”.

The 29-year-old, who was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in 2015, only realised her error when her application was rejected.

It meant she had to postpone a dream break to New York and make an emergency trip to the US embassy in London to persuade officials she was not a security threat.

After a couple of intense interviews, a full visa was granted – but the US authorities could not guarantee it would arrive in time for her flight.

Mandie was advised to rebook her trip, which she was taking with her boyfriend Ross, for a later date.

It cost her more than £800 to rearrange the trip for next month.

Mandie told Mornings with Stephen Jardine she was amazed when her application was rejected.

“At first I thought it was a bad dream and then I realised what I had done,” she said.

The Esta (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is an online form, which UK citizens can use to waive their need for a full US visa.

One of the questions reads: “Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?”

Mandie said she first attempted to fill in the form on her tablet, but it had crashed so she tried again at work the next day.

She said: “I believe I ticked ‘no’ and then when I have scrolled down to click confirm, I think it has nudged and moved. That’s the story I’m sticking to.

“A lot of people have said ‘how on earth could you do that?’ but to me I’ve done it really easily.”

Mandie said the mistake was “embarrassing” but she thought it would be easy to correct.

However, the American embassy in London told her it was “the worst box you could have ticked”.

Mandie had to go to London and pay £320 for an appointment to get a full visa.

After a couple of interviews her application was accepted, but she was told it would take three to five days to be granted.

Mandie said she told them she would miss her flight but the officials advised her to change her plans.

“I pleaded but they just said ‘change your holiday’.”

Mandie said she had hoped the embassy or the holiday firm would be sympathetic because she has cancer.

“I live in 12-weekly cycles because I get scanned every 12 weeks,” she said.

“I book my holidays in very specific times and this New York trip was going to be before I get another set of scan results, so I was really looking forward to it.

“It was stress that I didn’t need.

“I thought because it was a genuine error it would be quite an easy fix but I was quite wrong.”

‘Completely unforgiving’

Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent, said the question on the Esta visa waiver form was “completely pointless”.

“Nobody who was engaged in terrorism, espionage or genocide would ever tick ‘yes’,” he said.

“I don’t imagine that anybody has ever deliberately ticked this box.

“But once you are on that list you are never going to get off it.”

He said: “America is completely unforgiving. If that box gets ticked for whatever reason, immediately it’s as though the alarms go off, the shutters go down and you are into a spiral of despair.”

He said the consequence was a stressful interview and the extra cost of applying for a visa rather than a much cheaper Esta.

He said the best advice was not to book a trip until you have all the paperwork in order.

Mandie told BBC Scotland her bucket list also includes a trip to Canada, meeting football star Steven Gerrard and a visit to Thailand.

But first she will get her trip to New York.

“I’m happy again and I’m keen to get going,” she said.

 

Source: GhanaWeb

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Meet ken kojo Adams, the young ghanaian whose paintings can make you go hungry

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Food as we all know is any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink in order to maintain life and growth.

I was sitting under a big mango tree one hot Saturday afternoon reminiscing on how granny used to force me just to eat from her kitchen when I used to stay with her in the village. A series of questions which I couldn’t get answers to kept running through my mind; why have we abandoned granny’s kitchen and going after fast food.

Food does more than fuelling and restoring the body with energy. According to study, some individuals going through depression recover quickly after taking in a very good meal, the satisfaction alone brings back some memories hence food being a solution to some of our psychological problems.

At the moment food is very prestigious and you can testify to the fact that food makes us keep some people in our memories and I can honestly say, I haven’t enjoyed groundnut soap for the past four years after i lost my mom, it’s very unfortunate that we are forgoing our culture in the name of technological advances and the acceptance of others culture. My people, we have to reclaim our tradition.

Culture is also influenced by food through various ways such as tradition, religion and family. This aspects are what makes us distinct from others and created a whole new society.

There are variety of food which represents the various ethnic groups in Ghana, and this is another rich culture we have to protect for the benefit of the future generations.

Gone are the days when we cherish our local foods but now we only take selfies with round open pie made with yeast dough and topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and a variety of other ingredients and we call that strength living, LOL, what made you forget about the fresh kontomire leaves with your fresh plantain or cocoyam….our generation has lost it we choosing weakness over strength.

This is the time to promote your own.

Let’s talk about “Banku”, I’m sorry wetting your appetite.

Banku is a Ghanaian dish which is cooked by a proportionate mixture of fermented corn and cassava dough in hot water into a smooth, whitish paste, served with soup, stew or a pepper sauce with fish. It is mostly preferred by the people of the Southern Regions of Ghana; the Ewe tribe of the Volta Region, the Fante and the Ga tribe but also eaten across the other regions in Ghana. Banku is found throughout Ghana, and is one of the staple foods enjoyed by all tribes in the country.

I feel that sharp pain in my heart whenever I remember some of the pioneers of this mouth watering meal files a letter of departure from Ghana. Could this be possible?, are we also going to say bye bye to the meal because they are the originators, this will probably lead to segregation which isn’t good and that’s why I suggest, just as banku and its captivating green accompaniment has been recognized and adapted by almost every ethnic group in Ghana, so should we know that we are one people and there is a common culture that holds us together.

No two ways about this, ‘banku’ is the most commonest meal every Ghanaian might have tasted, we enjoy that and have the originators in mind. Refusing to correct what is wrong is what makes it a mistake. Let love lead, Ghana.

Oh less I forget!
what’s your thought on left over Banku 😋.

Left over banku lasts for up to a week, and some prefer to keep it longer than that because the fermentation process gives it more flavour and taste if stored properly. I dare you to try that.

The best feeling is when grand mom gives you your favorite.

Below are paintings from the young artist.

Story by Ken Kojo Adams

@kenkojoadams
#madeinghana
#ghanafood1

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Young blogger UrsTruly Praiz launches the Ghana Unite Campaign ahead of 2020 elections

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Elections both presidential and parliamentary as well as on any other level is one basic characteristic of every democratic nation on earth and it is just another form of exercise that gives the general masses with legitimacy in voting to make Choices and decisions as to whom they deem potential enough to hold the mantle of rule.

Amidst Ghana’s preparations towards December 7th general elections dubbed the very 8th one since time in memorial, much has been said and done thereby leaving some with joy but others in great fear and suspense.

Well, we at PraizFame Media Africa Inc, the owners of wwww.urstrulypraiznews.com regard this year’s elections as another very simple nationwide activity that should be conducted with so much peace and understanding void of fights,misunderstandings and forceful but illegal movements by anyone and for that reason comes the peace dubbed campaign “Ghana Unite”.

This very new development is one of the social media campaigns that has been set to promote peaceful atmosphere before and after the elections come December.

The masses acclaimed Ghana’s youngest blogger Emmanuel Quainoo Otoo professionally known as UrsTruly Praiz spearheads this very initiative and urges all Ghanaians to jump on this.

All one has to do is to share a 30 seconds video of him/herself urging Ghanaians to ensure peaceful atmosphere before and after the elections on WhatsApp number 0264770404

Let’s join hands and make this happen for Ghana is all that Ghanaians have.

Story: UrsTruly Praiz

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AWO KOMI BEAT COMPETITION TO EMERGE WINNER AT THE 40 UNDER 40 AWARDS 2020

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Awo Komi has emerged winner at the just ended Forty Under 40 Awards held on 25th September 2020 at the Kempinski Hotel, Accra.

The Forty Under 40 Awards had 40 categories and Awo Komi beat the competition to emerge the winner for the Food/Catering and Beverage category.

The Food/Catering and Beverages category had nominees like David Agongo Nsor (Dave Culinary and Event Firm), Dr. Nana Achiaa Ankrah ( Saliscom Limited, Arise Food), Sylvia Tweneboah Koduah( Noa ma me), Mariam Senou Mohammed ( Tasty Trails), and Benjamin Nii Amo ( Awo Komi).

Awo Komi is a food production company that produces special and delicious Ga kenkey in an appealing way. It has branches across Accra in areas such as at Okponglo, Legon, First Light Kaneshie all in Accra.

The Forty Under 40 Awards is usually organized in order to identify, honor, and celebrate a cross-section of the nation’s most influential and accomplished young business leaders under the age of forty from a wide range of industries.

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