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Antiguans and Grenadians vote against replacing Privy Council

Antiguans and Grenadians vote against replacing Privy Council

Antigua and Barbuda vote in favour of staying with the Privy Council

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Nov 6, CMC – Antigua and Barbuda Tuesday voted in favour of retaining the London-based Privy Council as its final court, according to the preliminary figures released here.

The Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) said that of the 17,743 votes counted, the “No” vote secured 9, 234 as against 8,509 for the “Yes” vote.

Voters here had been casting ballots to decide whether to retain the Privy Council or instead move to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was established in 2001 to be the region’s final court.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne had hoped that Antigua and Barbuda would have joined Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana as the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to be full members of the CCJ that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty governing the 15-member CARICOM grouping.

“I have discharged my responsibility to make the option of transitioning from the Privy Council to the Caribbean Court of Justice available to the people of Antigua and Barbuda. I think it is a great opportunity for them.

“ I urge them to go out and vote “yes” …and in any event whatever the decision I will be guided accordingly, but as far as I am concerned I have delivered in the responsibility to make this very important option available to the people of Antigua and Barbuda,” Prime Minister Browne said, soon after casting his ballot on Tuesday.

But the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) has said it is not supportive of the move to replace the Privy Council and had urged supporters to vote their conscience.

ABEC said that 33.5 per cent of the electorate voted in the referendum and that the “No” vote had secured 52.04 per cent with the “Yes” vote gathering 47.96 per cent.

The chairman of the National Coordinating Committee on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Ambassador Dr. Clarence Henry, said while he is disappointed in the results “the people have spoken and we accept the verdict.

“The result is a result that demonstrates democracy. The people have spoken and certainly we will need to reflect on the loss. However, I am of the firm conviction that as we move towards consolidation of the regional integration movement, our people whether in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada or Antigua, the greater appreciation of the institutions that we have created will become even more appreciated, celebrated in order for us to find our place in the global community.”

Henry said it is imperative for the region to “build our Caribbean institutions, no matter the struggles, no matter the challenges and no matter the defeats.

“We must redouble our efforts at deeper and fuller education of our institutions and ;place them within the curriculum of our schools in the region,” he told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

Head of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), Peter Wickham, whose organisation had conducted an opinion poll and had predicted that the “yes” vote would have received the required support to take the island into the CCJ, expressed disappointment at the outcome.

“I am not Antiguan but I am disappointed for Antigua and the rest of the Caribbean. I think this is an unfortunate result equally so because the same thing was replicated in Grenada (today) and I really do hope that in the future we can get back on track.

“But the most I can say is that I am disappointed. I think this is an opportunity for Antigua and Barbuda to have created history and to set a course of a circle of development and ultimately the population said no,” he added.

Grenadians vote against replacing Privy Council

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Nov 6, CMC – Grenadians voted for a second time within a two year period, to reject efforts to replace the London-based Privy Council as the island’s highest court.

In a national referendum on Tuesday, the preliminary figures released by the Parliamentary Elections Office (PEO) show that the “No’ vote secured 12,133  as compared to 9,846  for those supporting the efforts to replacing the Privy Council with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was established in 2001.

The CCJ also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement, CARICOM.

Grenadians voting in referendum (File Photo)

While most of the CARICOM countries are signatories to the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have signed on to the Appellate Jurisdiction.

The PEO said a total of 79,401 people were registered to vote in the referendum, where the voters were asked to either support or vote against the question “Do you approve the Bill for an Act proposing to alter the constitution of Grenada cited as Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and renaming of Supreme Court) (Amendment) Bill 2018?”

The country needed a two-thirds majority of the total number of ballots cast for it to join the CCJ.

In 2016, Grenadians voted overwhelmingly to reject seven pieces of legislation, including that of the CCJ, which would have reformed the constitution the island received when it attained political independence from Britain 42 years ago.

They voted by a margin of 9,492 in favour with 12,434 against.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, soon after casting his ballot told reporters that if the referendum fails, there will not be another attempt to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ under his leadership.

Mitchell had said he was “quietly confident” that the two-thirds majority would have been achieved in getting Grenada to join the CCJ.

“I really don’t have a problem with voices who say they want to say no but to concoct false stories to confuse people, for what I reason I don’t know,” he said, “this is not about party, this is about our children and grandchildren”.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), which initially had supported the move to replace the Privy Council, had urged the population to vote “no” on Tuesday with the party’s interim leader, Joseph Andall, saying that the new position was taken  because members were not satisfied with the process.

“For example, two of the persons who were involved in drafting the Bill are members of the Advisory Committee, therefore they have a vested interest in defending and protecting the bill, it means there is no objectivity when it comes to a discussion regarding discrepancies, flaws or omission,” he said.

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Antigua independence

CARICOM congratulates Antigua/Barbuda on its 37th Independence Anniversary

 
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     Antigua and Barbuda’s ‘invaluable contribution’ to regional integration and ‘active participation in the Councils’ of the Caribbean Community have been highlighted as CARICOM congratulates the country on 37 years of Independence.
 
Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, in a congratulatory message to Prime Minister Hon. Gaston Browne said:
 
“Under your leadership as Head of Government responsible for Services within the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet, Antigua and Barbuda has advanced the Region’s efforts, as it seeks to build competitiveness, unleash key economic drivers to growth and address the grave challenges to its financial services.”
 
The Secretary-General also noted that Antigua and Barbuda has made great strides in its development since independence.
 
“Indeed the theme for this year’s Independence celebration, “Antigua and Barbuda: Forward Together” is an apt reflection of the firm determination and steadfastness of the Antiguan and Barbudan people in their efforts to ensure the sustainable development of the nation,” he stated.
 
Antigua and Barbuda observe their Independence Anniversary on Thursday 1 November 2018.
 

 

 
 
 

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Rowley team sweeps internal elections

Rowley team sweeps internal elections

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 1, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley led his “Team Red” in a total sweep of the internal polls of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) on Sunday, according to Rohan Sinanan, the campaign manager.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

Speaking on a radio programme here, Sinanan said that while Rowley was elected unopposed during the elections, all the members of his team were victorious and that the victory as an “endorsement of the political leader”.

“That’s the important factor,” said Sinanan, noting that the slate had included Finance Minister Colm Imbert who contest the chairmanship of the party that was founded in 1955 by the late Dr. Eric Williams, considered the “father of the nation: and the country’s first prime minister.

Other successful candidates included Public utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte, as vice chairman, and Forster Cummings as general secretary.

Apart from Rowley, the other uncontested posts were that of lady vice chairman held by Planning and Development Minister, Camille Robinson-Regis and labour relations officer held by Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus.

During the campaign Rowley had called for total endorsement of his team, telling supporters that the party would be going into three elections, including the general election over the next two years.

Rowley led the PNM into victory in the 2015 general election, defeating the coalition People’s Partnership government of then prime minister Kamla Persad Bissesar.

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U.S. President Trump holds prepared remarks as he speaks about his summit meeting with Russian President Putin at the White House in Washington

Trump claims he misspoke about Russian meddling in Putin press conference

By Kathryn Watson CBS News July 17, 2018,

Last Updated Jul 17, 2018 4:46 PM EDT

President Trump on Tuesday claimed he accepts the findings of the U.S. intelligence community that Russians interfered in the 2016 election. He also said he misspoke when he suggested otherwise in a widely criticized press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday in Helsinki, Finland. 

“I will begin by stating that I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies, I always have,” Mr. Trump said at the top of a meeting with members of Congress. “And I have felt very strongly that, while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying that, and I have said this many times, I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. It could be other people, also. There are lots of people out there.”

Mr. Trump appeared to be reading from typed notes — with some handwritten additions — during his remarks in which he stated that Russians were behind the meddling. 

U.S. President Trump holds prepared remarks as he speaks about his summit meeting with Russian President Putin at the White House in Washington

U.S. President Donald Trump holds prepared remarks as he speaks about his summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the start of a meeting with members of the U.S. Congress at the White House in Washington, July 17, 2018.

Leah Millis / REUTERS

The president, making what he described as clarifying comments in a meeting with members of Congress at the White House Tuesday, said he meant to say that he had no reason to think Russia “wouldn’t” have interfered in the 2016 election, instead of what he actually said on Monday, which is that he had no reason to think Russia “would” have interfered. Facing backlash over his remarks, Mr. Trump told reporters he reviewed a transcript of what he said, and decided to clarify his comments. 

“The sentence should have been, I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia,” the president added later. “So just to repeat it, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’ and this sentence should have been, and I thought I would maybe be a little bit unclear on the transcripts or unclear on the actual video, but the sentence should have been, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia. So sort of a double negative.”

 

Those remarks came after Mr. Trump defended Russia from charges of election interference Monday’s press conference in Helsinki, when Mr. Trump said all he could do is “ask the question” about meddling and said Putin was very strong in his denials. Mr. Trump also cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia did interfere with the election to his benefit. 

After the press conference, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats reiterated the findings of multiple intelligence agencies that Russians meddled in the 2016 presidential election. 

“My people came to me — Dan Coats came to me and some others — they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia,” Mr. Trump said Monday. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server. But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server.”

Mr. Trump was referring to the hacked server belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Mr. Trump told “CBS Evening News” anchor Jeff Glor the DNC “should be ashamed of themselves” for getting hacked. 

Mr. Trump insisted on Tuesday that any actions Russia took had no impact on the presidential election and that there was no collusion between members of his campaign and Russians. He also emphasized the importance of diplomacy, said getting along with Russia is a good thing, and claimed his meeting with Putin was more successful than the NATO meeting in Brussels last week. 

“As successful as NATO was, I think this was our most successful visit,” Mr. Trump said. 

Only a small handful of Republicans, like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, have defended Mr. Trump’s performance at the press conference. 

 

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Haiti’s Prime Minister resigns , President promises to respond to demands of Haitians

Haiti’s Prime Minister resigns , President promises to respond to demands of Haitians

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Jul. 15, CMC – Haiti’s Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant, resigned  on Saturday, just after days of violent protests against fuel price rises.

Jack Guy Lafontant

Lafontant, who faced a motion of no confidence following the protest that led to the death of at least seven people, told Haiti’s Chamber of Deputies that he had sent President Jovenel Moise his resignation letter.

The deputies had called on the prime minister to answer questions after riots erupted from July 6-8 to protest the government’s attempt to raise fuel prices by up to 51 per cent as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

Earlier this year, the French speaking Caribbean nation signed an agreement with the IMF to carry out structural reforms to promote growth.

The IMF said that getting rid of the fuel subsidies would free up cash for other things like education, health and job creation.

However, on Thursday, the Washington based lending agency suggested   “a more gradual approach” to ending fuel subsidies which were expected to generate around US$300 million.

Shortly after Lafontant resigned, President Jovenel Moise in an address to the nation said his administration is doing all it can to respond to the demands of the public.

“I did a lot of consultations, I consulted people who were victims, political parties, civil society, grassroots organizations and many other groups in society. I engaged in dialogue with international partners. I have listened to the demands of all people and sectors.”

President Jovenel Moïse

“When the sectors speak, the leaders must listen to them, that is how democracy will become stronger, that is how the solidarity of the Haitians for one another will become better,” the president said.

He also urged Haitians to “cut bridges with old practices that are putting the country behind.”

“As Head of State, I have issued instructions to every official in the State, to every person in his or her own interest, to ensure the safety of the lives and property of people across the country.”

According to Moise, he will continue consultations in order to choose another Prime Minister “ to lead the Government and gather all the forces in the Nation without wasting time, to form an inclusive Government whose mission will be to relieve the misery of the people, develop agriculture, energy and infrastructure in the country, take all measures and actions to maintain political and social stability, encourage investment to create wealth and conditions that will allow all Haitians live better in their country.”

“You have given me a five-year term, as you can see, we have started the work, I will continue, stability, economic and social progress must become a reality in the country of Haiti,” he said.

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Diplomatic passport case filed by private citizen - ruled abuse of process

Diplomatic passport case filed by private citizen – ruled abuse of process

BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Friday July 13, CMC – Opposition Leader Dr Denzil Douglas scored a legal victory on Friday when a High Court judge threw out a challenge filed by a private citizen to his right to sit in Parliament on the basis of his ownership of a Dominica diplomatic passport.

High Court Judge Trevor Ward ruled that the civil suit brought by Cuthbert Mills “was an abuse of the process”, since it had come after Attorney General Vincent Byron had already filed a similar claim.

Opposition Leader Dr Denzil Douglas celebrates after the ruling.

Mills had submitted a claim that Douglas is not qualified to be the Parliamentary Representative for the constituency of St Christopher 6 because he has a Dominica diplomatic passport. But during a two-hour hearing last Friday, Douglas’ lawyers, Anthony Astaphan SC, Delano Bart QC, Sylvester Anthony and Angelina Gracey Sookoo-Bobb asked the judge for the claim to be struck out.

Sookoo-Bobb told the media after the ruling that Justice Ward had agreed with the former prime minister’s legal team that Mills’ claim amounted to an abuse of the process of the court, having been filed one month after Byron’s claim.

The court ruled that under the constitution, Mills was not allowed to bring a second claim or to intervene.

The issue of cost has been reserved and submissions will be made as to whether or not Mills will pay Douglas’ cost and how much he should pay.

“Those submissions are to be filed by July 19, 2018,” said Sookoo-Bobb.

The case brought by the Attorney General is to be heard on September 28.

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Premier not seeking re-election at upcoming party convention

Premier not seeking re-election at upcoming party convention

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jun. 19, CMC  – Premier Dr. Orlando Smith has announced that he will not be seeking re-election as leader of his National Democratic Party (NDP) at the upcoming convention on the weekend.

Dr Orlando Smith

Smith, 73,  who made the announcement in a broadcast late Monday, said he made the decision after ‘much thought and prayer’ and after discussions with family and colleagues.

“And so, when the NDP comes together in its upcoming Convention, I will not seek nor accept the nomination to lead the party into the next election,” the premier said.

“There is so much work left to do. With this decision, I will be free to dedicate 100 per cent of my time and attention to that task….while my journey as the Premier and leader of the territory will come to a close at the end of this government’s term in office, the mission that was launched so many years ago lives on.”

The decision made by the Premier means that the only confirmed contenders to succeed him as party leader are Education Minister Myron Walwyn and Health Minister Ronnie Skelton.

During this weekend’s convention candidates will also be contesting the offices of vice president, secretary, deputy secretary, treasurer, deputy treasurer, chaplain, chairman of the youth movement, and chairperson of the women’s association.

CMC/kb/2018

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LA Times logo

Essential Politics – Comey, Trump, Kim…

   
 

By David Lauter

On his return from Singapore, President Trump lamented on Twitter that his “thought process must sadly go back to the Witch Hunt.”

His eagerness to jump back into the fray belied the “sadly.”

Even before he left Washington for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump was looking ahead to the scheduled release of a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, who was expected to sharply criticize the president’s nemesis, former FBI Director James B. Comey.

The report, issued the day Trump turned 72, would be a good birthday present, the president said.

THE NEVER-ENDING 2016 CAMPAIGN

One central fact about the report issued by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz: It has only a tangential relationship to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian efforts to shape the 2016 election and possible collusion by people close to Trump.

The main focus of the 500-page report, as Evan Halper wrote, was on the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of email while she was secretary of State.

Comey mishandled the case by flouting Justice Department rules and publicly talking about the FBI’s conclusions, according to Horowitz — a nonpartisan figure who commands wide respect from both parties in Congress. Comey’s actions did not display political bias but were improper, Horowitz’s report concluded. He also found that Comey correctly determined that the FBI had no grounds to recommend criminal charges against Clinton in the email probe.

The report also went into great detail on a “culture of leaking” of investigative details from the FBI to reporters — something that clearly played to Clinton’s detriment in 2016.

In Clinton’s eyes — and in the opinion of many outside analysts — Comey’s announcement in October 2016 that the FBI had reopened its email probe after finding some of her emails on a laptop belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner could well have been the deciding factor that cost her the election. The inspector general’s criticisms of the FBI investigation would have rocked the campaign had the election not already been held more than 19 months ago.

The historical nature of the inquiry — and its strong implication that the FBI had been unfair to Clinton, not him — didn’t slow Trump, of course. To him, Comey represents the enemy, the Deep State that he and his supporters see as conspiring against him. Anything that reflects badly on Comey serves the president both politically (keeping his supporters revved up) and, it seems, psychologically.

The report “totally exonerates” him, Trump falsely declared Friday.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, went further, as is increasingly his habit. Even though the report does not mention Mueller at all, and involves only matters that took place months before Mueller’s appointment, Giuliani took to Sean Hannity’s Fox television show Thursday night to say that Mueller should be “suspended.”

Even more extraordinarily for a former U.S. attorney, Giuliani declared that an FBI agent cited in the report for sending text messages critical of candidate Trump “should be in jail by the end of next week.”

The FBI agent, Peter Strzok, and a second former agent, Lisa Page, provide the key connection for Trump and his backers that allows them to link the Clinton email investigation to the Mueller probe.

Strzok played an important role in the email investigation and the early stages of the FBI’s Russia investigation in 2016. The personal messages he exchanged with Page — the two were having an affair — which show disdain for Trump, taint the entire investigation and everything it produced, Trump’s backers claim.

Mueller removed Strzok from the investigation last summer, after he learned of the messages and before they became public.

Friday morning, the Russia investigation got a new jolt when a federal judge ordered Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort jailed on allegations of witness tampering. Trump, shortly before the court hearing, continued his effort to distance himself from Manafort, saying that he “worked for me for a very short period of time.”

NORTH KOREA ‘NO LONGER A NUCLEAR THREAT’

It’s possible that future historians will look back and say that Trump’s meeting with Kim in Singapore this week represented a milestone along a road toward a peaceful, secure future for northeast Asia.

It’s at least equally possible that it will be viewed, like Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s trip to Pyongyang in the closing months of the Bill Clinton presidency, as yet another trip leading nowhere in the unsuccessful U.S. effort to reverse North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Trump’s not one to wait on the verdict of history.

“President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer – sleep well tonight!” he declared on Twitter. “Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”

As Barbara Demick and Tracy Wilkinson wrote in their assessment of the summit, the talks hadn’t been expected to produce much and “actually produced less than many analysts expected.” The vaguely worded summit declaration — largely negotiated before Trump and Kim arrived in Singapore — deferred almost all the hard work to a future negotiating process.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately set off for Seoul and Beijing to try to get that process moving, as Wilkinson and Eli Stokols reported.

“We’re hopeful that we can achieve that in the next — what is it? — 2½ years, something like that,” Pompeo said. “There’s a lot of work left to do,” he acknowledged.

In addition to Demick, Wilkinson and Stokols, our colleagues in Singapore for the summit — Noah Bierman, Victoria Kim, Matt Stiles and Bob Drogin — produced a large body of excellent stories. Here’s a selection of some of the most insightful stories that remain of interest several days after the events have ended:

Demick wrote about Kim’s remarkable and brutal success at consolidating his hold on North Korea while also improving the country’s dismal economy. Kim is the “perfect dictator,” said Andrei Lankov, a Seoul-based scholar who has lived and worked inside North Korea.

Demick also explained why, seven decades after the fighting stopped, it’s still hard to formally end the Korean War.

Bierman wrote a first-person account of being one of the handful of reporters actually on-scene at the summit site.

Stokols wrote about how the summit highlighted the unique nature of “diplotainment” in the Trump era.

Kim wrote this about her experience as a reporter who grew up in South Korea, viewing North Korean Kim’s triumphal turn on the world stage.

David Cloud wrote about the nervous reaction at the Pentagon to Trump’s talk of ending joint military exercises with South Korea.

And lest anyone forget, Demick and Wilkinson wrote this about North Korea’s record of starving, shooting and imprisoning its own people.

Trump, as is now widely known, did not press that topic when he met with Kim and, indeed, went out of his way to downplay the North Korean government’s brutality.

Kim is a “tough guy” who took over a “tough country,” he told Fox News’ Bret Baier. “If you can do that at 27 years old, that’s one in 10,000 could do that,” he said, admiringly.

When Baier pressed him, noting that Kim had “done some really bad things,” Trump seemed to waive the concerns aside.

“Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done,” he said.

Friday, also on Fox, Trump expressed admiration for the way Kim’s underlings respond to him: “He speaks and his people stood up at attention,” Trump said. “I want my people to do the same.”

ESCALATING THE TRADE WAR

Remarks like that — even if Trump means them partly in jest — feed the president’s reputation for authoritarianism. So does the contrast between his warm praise for Kim (or other heads of state like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping) and his often-harsh criticism of America’s traditional allies.

The latest example came this week after Trump threw into chaos the G-7 economic summit in Quebec. As Jim Puzzanghera explained, Trump initially agreed to a joint communique to end the summit, as is traditionally done at such meetings. Then, after leaving early, he withdrew from the communique in an apparent fit of pique at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau had the temerity to say, as he has several times, that Canada would not go along with some U.S. demands for changes in the NAFTA trade treaty with the U.S. and Mexico.

The next day, two of Trump’s top economic advisors — taking their cues from the president — used unusually harsh rhetoric to denounce the Canadian leader, calling his words a “stab in the back.”

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said, on Fox, of course.

On Tuesday, Navarro apologized.

Trump’s conviction that other countries are cheating the U.S. on trade formed a central part of his campaign. Mainstream economic advisors diverted the president for most of his first year in office, but this year, he has steadily ratcheted up trade tensions.

On Friday, the administration took its latest step, detailing $50 billion in Chinese imports that will be subjected to hefty tariffs.

As Puzzanghera and Don Lee wrote, less than a month ago, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the administration was “putting the trade war on hold.” Now, it’s back on.

IT’S TRUMP’S PARTY

Trump’s savaging of the allies, levying of tariffs, downplaying of North Korean oppression and ending of military exercises with South Korea all broke with longstanding Republican positions.

Each outburst brought a few, scattered criticisms from the usual voices — Sen. John McCain and his fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and a few others.

The vast majority of Republicans remained silent.

Republican voters stand firmly in Trump’s corner — much more so this spring than they did last fall — and they’re ready to punish any sign of disloyalty. Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina discovered that Tuesday when he lost his primary, largely because of his willingness to criticize Trump.

As Mark Barabak wrote, the lesson was clear to all GOP elected officials:

“If you’re a Republican member of Congress who wants to speak out against Trump, you have a couple of choices,” David Wasserman, who handicaps House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, told Barabak. “Retire or lose your next primary.”

A second lesson also came Tuesday when House GOP leaders successfully squelched an effort by moderate Republicans to force a vote on immigration legislation.

As Sarah Wire wrote, the moderates, led by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) had pushed for a vote on protecting the so-called Dreamers — young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children. Instead, the House leadership will bring to the floor two immigration bills — a hard-line measure that even its backers say can’t pass the House, and a more moderate effort that House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has billed as a compromise.

Friday, Trump seemed to kill off that effort, as well. “I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one,” he said.

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Bishop Joseph Atherley

Former BLP legislator sworn in as Opposition Leader

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun 1, CMC – Bishop Joseph Atherley was on Friday sworn in as Opposition Leader, one week after he was a member of the victorious Barbados Labour Party (BLP) that swept the May 24 general elections, winning all 30 seats in the Parliament.

The Member of Parliament for St Michael West constituency, accompanied by his wife, Esther, his sister Eudaline Atherley-Roberts and son Joseph Atherley III, took the oath of office before Governor General Dame Sandra Mason.

Bishop Joseph Atherley

Also present at the ceremony was the President of the St Michael West branch of the BLP, John Bancroft.

“I have heard a lot of things said and obviously it seems to be a shocking event to some. Let me tell you what it is not. It is not a reaction to any ministerial appointments made by the Right Honourable Prime Minister last week and the omission of myself.

“It is definitely not a reaction to that. I have indicated that to the Prime Minister and to my other parliamentary colleagues.

“It is definitely not a repudiation of the Barbados Labour Party platform or policies,” Atherley said, adding that he was part of those engaged in the formulation of the policies contained in the party’s manifesto.

“I support those…it is not a reaction to any decision by her,” he said, adding that he believes tremendously in the importance of democracy.

“I believe strongly we need to do everything we possibly can to make sure we expand our platform of democracy,” he said, adding that he wants “to constitute that physical presence” on the opposition benches”.

He said he would give “critical support to the party in office…to applaud them when they get it right, which I believe they will often, to put pertinent and pointed questions to them when necessary to keep them on their toes.

“This is about our traditions of democracy, it is about parliamentary processes  and that is why I am doing what I am doing,” he told reporters, adding that he would not be forming a party.

Prime Minister Mottley had last weekend noted that she was exploring the possibility of amending the Constitution to allow for the opposition party with the most votes to be able to nominate two members to the Senate. The move was seen as allowing the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), which formed the last government, of having a presence in the Parliament.

But Bishop Atherley, the head of the Evangelical Holiness Christian Community Church, said he would be appointing two senators soon.

Another government legislator, Gline Clarke, who has also expressed disappointment over being left out of the Cabinet, has however indicated that he would not be crossing the floor.

“My constituents are not happy. The people who I represent are upset, not me. A lot of my constituents have been meeting with me and have expressed their dissatisfaction,” he told the online publication, Barbados TODAY, while making it clear that “I was elected a Member of Parliament. I was never elected a minister.”

“It is the Prime Minister who has to make the choices. If I did not meet her eyes, there are other things that can be done. The Prime Minister can appoint and disappoint and the truth of the matter is that I was elected as Member of Parliament. You have to give the  Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt all of the time,” Clarke said.

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Prime Minister Mia Mottley, addressing Barbadians following meeting with Social Partnerships

Barbados to suspend payment to domestic and external creditors

By Peter Richards

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun 1, CMC – Prime Minister Mia Mottley Friday announced that her new administration would suspend payments due to domestic and external creditors as she appealed to them to “accompany us on this journey” in revitalising the ailing Barbados economy.

“From today we are suspending payments due to external commercial creditors. Similarly we will endeavour to make scheduled domestic interest payments. However domestic creditors will be asked to roll over principal maturity until we reach a restructuring agreement,” Mottley said, following a meeting with the Social Partnerships.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley, addressing Barbadians following meeting with Social Partnerships

“The truth is our debt has been unsustainable territory for some time. The arrears represent an effective default by the previous government to Barbadians,” she said, noting that these arrears were BDS$1.7 billion at the end of September last year and that new figures are expected next week.

“We have never taken this type of creditor action like that before and our action today are designed my friends to ensure that we will never ever have to do so again,” she said, hinting at stringent policies ahead for Barbadians.

She said the new measures will be introduced in a ministerial statement in two weeks and will place the public debt “on a sustainable footing.

“Creditors will thank us for that. Unsustainable debt is of no use to anyone. The restructuring I announce today is only but one part of a comprehensive economic reform programme,” she said that will stabilise the public finances after years of mismanagement.

Mottley, said there was need for total collaboration on the journey to “rescue, rebuilding and transformation.

“We did not choose to be here, but we are here. We move forward together my friends in a spirt of openness, with a covenant of hope and opportunity, upward and onward we shall go, inspired …and greater will our nation grow in strength and unity,” said Mottley, flanked by members of the Social Partnership.

She said that the path ahead is “gruelling, but as more and more of you gather around and as we march out together I tell you, you will find that a new dawn is breaking”.

The state of the Barbados economy had been a major issue in the campaign for the May 24 general election in which Mottley led her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to a clean sweep of all 30 seats in the Parliament, defeating the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) that had been in power for the past 10 years.

The Central Bank of Barbados (CBB) had last month said that the local economy had contracted by an estimated 0.7 per cent during the first quarter of this year and warned that the outlook “remains challenging”.

CBB Governor, Cleviston Haynes, in a review of Barbados’ economic performance in the first quarter of 2018, said that the performance reflects the combined impact of a decline in real output in the tourism sector, the slowing of construction activity, the late start to the annual sugar harvest and the slowdown of domestic demand arising from the budgetary measures announced in the May 2017 budget.

The CBB said that while the supply of foreign exchange was more than adequate to meet market demand on a timely basis during the quarter, “higher public sector debt service obligations than usual contained the growth of international reserves at the Central Bank to BDS$14 million (One Barbados dollar = US$0.50 cents) for the period”.

The Central Bank said that decisive stabilisation measures that place the public finances on a sustainable path, alter the trajectory for the international reserves and create the conditions for strong durable growth are now needed in order to deal with the challenges ahead for the local economy.

Earlier, prior to the start of the talks with the Social Partnership, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said her immediate focus would be on protecting the local currency.

“Our objectives were made very clear on Monday, that we all agree that at all costs, the Barbados dollar must be saved in terms of its value; that we remain committed to a fixed exchange rate; that we remain committed to a stable and prosperous Barbados that is fair and equitable in its opportunities being delivered to its citizens.

“We now go into a bit of the heavy lifting and the drilling down,” she said, adding that it was extremely important for the Social Partnership to be aware of exactly where the country stands financially before coming up with a plan to let the country move forward, and that regular meetings would be paramount”.

Following the discussions, Mottley told Barbadians “there is no avoidance in delay when treating with the economic and financial position in which we find ourselves.

“Our national rescue and rebuilding starts today. We set course not on the easy or quick path,” she said, warning that in order to get out of the present situation ‘we need to invest in our people, our education, our health, our safety and our public infrastructure.

“Hope must be matched with real opportunities,” she said, including developing new skills, find new jobs, new investments among other initiatives.

“We believe your government can achieve these things by spending more wisely in greater openness with the people. Not by spending and taxing more,” she said, arguing that this approach to development for the last 52 years “will not be as readily available as we must now deconstruct what government does and reconstruct it to fit our needs and today’s technologies”.

Mottley said there are new things to be done and in the process “rid ourselves of the corruption of the past and put in place a range of arrangements that ensure that we are never ever in this place again”.

She said the new transformative path by her administration would encourage Barbadians here and abroad, as well as attract new investment opportunities and build new infrastructure, describing the process “as a marathon”.

She said when the last administration came to office a decade ago, it inherited a debt of about six billion Barbados dollars “yet they have left us with a debt level when arrears are added of over BDS$15 billion.

“Public debt as a proportion of our national income is being regarded as high as 171 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) ,the third highest in the entire world,” she said, noting that only Japan and Greece are above Barbados.

She said every year Barbados spends BDS$800 million in interest on the debt and this year, the island will spend a further one billion dollars on meeting promises to pay back what was borrowed.

“Our interest bill alone is equal to the Central government’s entire wages and salaries bill. In fact our interest bill is about BDS$15 million or so higher.

“How can we as a people develop if we spend more on debt interest than we spend on education? How can a people live if they spend more on debt interest than they spend on public health? How may a nation prosper if it spends more on its interest for its debt than in looking after its environment, public infrastructure, public transport?

She questioned on what projects did the last administration spend such large sums of money asking “where did the nine billion dollars of extra debt come from?

She said less than one per cent of that debt would have paid for a new sewage system for the south coast, a reference to the ongoing sewage problem in that tourist section of the island that has been criticised by various private sector concerns and the general public.

“Regrettably we have nothing to show for this debt. The last government pout itself in a trap, water spending push up the debt  and pushed up interest payments so they raised taxes which stopped the economy from growing.”

She said after holding discussions with the Social Partnerships, her administration will seek the cooperation of domestic and external creditors in the restructuring of the public debt.

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