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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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COVID-19: Which African airlines are taking off and when?

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Since 25 June, Royal Air Maroc began operating a portion of its domestic flights (Agadir, Dakhla, Laâyoune, and Oujda) from its Casablanca hub, followed by its other hubs, Marrakech and Tangier. The low-cost airline Air Arabia Maroc will also resume operations on the same date, while Air Côte d’Ivoire will reopen for business on 26 June.

However, for many airlines, the situation is less certain. The pan-African carrier ASKY Airlines, which provides service to destinations from Lomé, is waiting for African countries to open their borders before making any announcements. Similarly, Air Algérie has not announced an operations resumption date. Plagued by major financial difficulties, Air Mauritius is set to get back to business on 1 September, whereas RwandAir has suspended its flights until further notice.

On 25 June, Egypt Air said it would resume international flights gradually as of 1 July. The first round from 1 – 7 July will include: Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Amsterdam, Paris, Toronto, and Washington DC (among others).

As of 8 June, South Africa’s Airlink began taking bookings, while Safair began flights on 15 June. Mango, the low-cost airline of the near-bankrupt South African Airways (SAA) group, also resumed domestic flights as of 15 June.

South Africa has banned leisure travel until the 5-phase lockdown is entirely lifted. It is currently at level 3.

Many questions if South African Airways will be able to resume international flights given it was struggling with bankruptcy prior to the pandemic. A vote by SAA creditors has been postponed to July 16.

The gradual reopening of borders

In the intercontinental segment, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways will be providing service to Paris, Geneva, and Brussels in July, but with a reduced flight schedule. After a controversy sparked by the posting of a fake flight schedule on social media in May, Air France has listed several African capitals in its flight plan for July: Conakry, Cotonou, Douala, Yaoundé, Nouakchott, and Tunis. The airline is currently preparing landing authorization requests for the various countries concerned.

Resurrecting flights from Europe is pinned on both the ability to receive authorization from national civil aviation authorities and the reopening of the Schengen Area. In mid-June, the ECOWAS Ministerial Coordinating Committee for Transport, Logistics, Free Movement, and Trade recommended a gradual reopening of air borders: 15 July for flights between member states, 22 July for flights to non-member African countries and 1 August for intercontinental flights.

These projected dates come up against two obstacles: the health situation is neither clear nor stabilized in several African countries and fears about a second wave remain high in Europe. As a result, no one wants to be responsible for potentially importing cases in either direction.

For passengers, new restrictions are surfacing. For example, Congolese nationals stuck in Paris who want to get on an Air France repatriation flight will have to provide proof that they were tested for COVID-19 before boarding the flight upon their arrival in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. Once they have disembarked, they will have to undergo another COVID-19 screening and quarantine at a hotel.

Air Senegal targets mid-July for Paris flights

Airlines think it will take a while for businesses to return to pre-pandemic levels. Air Côte d’Ivoire, whose operations are currently limited to domestic destinations (Korogho, San Pedro, Bouaké, Man, and Odienné), accordingly plans on a gradual return to its normal service schedule: in a first phase, 25% of flights will resume, before increasing to 50%, all the while having no intention of giving up its expansion strategy in the long-haul segment.

Another example is that of Air Senegal, which resumed its service to Ziguinchor this past weekend, a destination it will get back to serving daily as of next week. While Senegal’s borders are to remain closed until 30 June, the young company, which sent all of its pilots to France to take a “refresher” flight simulator course, plans, according to our sources, to resume flights to Abidjan (four times a week, initially) and to Praia in mid-July. Air Senegal hopes to get back to operating flights to destinations such as Conakry, Bamako, Casablanca, Barcelona, and Marseille in early August, and, starting in September, Ouagadougou, Niamey, Accra, and Lagos. This means the airline could be operating 80% of its pre-pandemic flights at the end of August. Air Senegal will begin offering daily service to Abidjan in October if traffic allows for it.

The airline will know in the coming days if it will be able to resume its service to Paris in mid-July, as it hopes, with an initial schedule of five flights a week. “We can’t figure out how high demand will be. We don’t want to be in overcapacity, but we assume there will always be a segment of travelers who are flying to visit their loved ones,” says a source from Air Senegal, which is set to receive its two A321s in September and October and was the beneficiary of government grants of 45bn CFA francs (€68.5m), an amount which surpasses its target for the funding round scheduled in 2021.

Long-term schedule reductions

For the main West African operators, the crisis could bring about a more streamlined offering, while just before the pandemic many players were battling over small markets. “There were 320,000 seats available for flights between Abidjan and Dakar in a market with 150,000 to 170,000 passengers. The end result is that planes were operating at between 50% and 70% capacity.

The most predatory airlines will surely be more cautious and no longer operate as many flights as before,” says an executive from a West African carrier, adding that Brussels Airlines suspends its stopovers in Conakry and Ouagadougou when Kenya Airways and Vueling reduce their flight schedules.

What’s more, the financial situation of certain players like Air Burkina and Camair-Co, which have temporarily laid off their employees, makes a quick resumption of service more hypothetical than anything else.

Several firms are currently working on air traffic recovery scenarios for carriers and airports. “Three different realities are possible: traffic will fully resume despite the presence of COVID-19 cases, traffic will resume between certain countries that reopened their borders and traffic will resume without any particular restrictions in the absence of no new COVID-19 cases,” says Jean-Marc Bourreau, Global Director of Aviation at the Canadian firm CPCS. He is not counting on a broad-based rebound of air traffic.

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Man Rapes 6-Year-Old Girl In 7 Thunder Church In Owukpa

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A man identified as Patrick Onoja Igah, a native of Ogwurute Itabono Owukpa, was mercilessly beaten by an angry mob for allegedly raping a 6-year-old girl (name withheld).

IDOMAVOICE gathered that Mr. Patrick, famously known as Omolomo, was caught pants down while having carnal knowledge of the underage at the premises of 7 Thunder Church located in Akparoji.

Irked by his abominable act, some angry youths pounced on him, tied him, and gave him the beating of his life until he fainted.

Patrick, believed to be in his late 30, was handed over to the local vigilante who will hand him over to the police for immediate prosecution.

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New Verna Water Comes With Vitamins & Folic Acid

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Take hydration to a new height with the new Verna Active Water, available in lemon and strawberry flavours and fortified with folic acid, vitamins and electrolytes essential to keep you hydrated and active for a long time.

Verna Active Water is prized by many for its soft, balanced and gentle round flavour with lots of lemon citrus and strawberry. And it’s easy to drink by itself.
Proudly made in Ghana by industrial giant, Twellium Industrial Company, producers of Verna Mineral Water, Rush Energy Drink, Mcberry Biscuits and many more. Verna Active Water is a testament of the company’s promise to give consumers choices. With a tall list of water, non- alcoholic drinks, biscuits and more, tailored to meet the taste and preferences of consumers. This is yet another promise fulfilled against the background of its extensive experience in the beverage and water industry.

Verna Active Water is the new scientifically formulated drink with folic acid and electrolytes that come in a signature bottle and enhanced with vital vitamins to boost your immune system.
Need the right motivation and enthusiasm to face your most challenging days? Try the thirst- quenching Verna Active Water with pleasant lemon and strawberry flavour to give you the best during the day.

For anyone who lives an active lifestyle and need motivation to combat each task one step at a time. Verna Active Water is the smart choice for athletics, workers and students. 3-time bantamweight world champion, Joseph Agbeko says he drinks Verna Active Water because it contains all the essential nutrients for his active life. Verna Active Water is water for hydration, has a natural fruit flavor and best complements your active life.

Watch video below

 

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