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Bipartisan group of senators releases $908bn Covid relief bill proposal without funds for more stimulus checks

 by Oliver O’Connel

First US Covid vaccines should go to health workers and nursing home…Disney animation classics Blu-ray boxset is 15% off now

A bipartisan group of senators has unveiled a compromise $908bn (£677bn) coronavirus relief bill.

a group of people standing next to a person in a suit and tie

© Provided by The Independent

The Republican and Democrat lawmakers have been meeting every day for weeks, including during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, trying to break the impasse between the two parties.

As Covid-19 surges and spreads uncontrolled over much of the country, the Covid Emergency Relief Framework includes provisions to help small businesses, state and local governments, and to pay for unemployment insurance.

There are no funds designated for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to individuals as with the first relief package earlier in the year.

It is believed that this is to keep the total price tag down to appease Republican lawmakers worried about too great an increase in the level of the national debt.

However, $560bn of the total funding would be repurposed from the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in March. The actual new money is $348bn (£260bn).

The new bill is unlikely to move forward in its current state, as the dollar amount is far less than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would like, and far more than Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell would want.

Mr McConnell has said $500bn would be more acceptable, while House Democrats have a figure in excess of $2 trillion in mind.

It is nonetheless a framework within which the leaders may be able to work, and lawmakers hope it could break the months-long stalemate.

Video: Foreign Secretary: UK’s aid budget is to be cut with regret (PA Media)PauseCurrent Time 1:03/Duration 1:18Loaded: 100.00%Unmute0HQCaptionFull screenForeign Secretary: UK’s aid budget is to be cut with regretClick to expand

At the launch of the bipartisan bill, Mitt Romney said: “I happen to be a deficit hawk. I don’t like borrowing money. I don’t like spending money we don’t have. But the time to borrow money … is when there’s a crisis, and this is a crisis.”

He continued: “We want to help people at this particular time. And so we’ve come together, and we’ve been very careful. This is not a $1.8 trillion stimulus bill. This is a relief measure – half that amount.”

Headline figures reveal $160bn earmarked for state, local, and tribal governments, $180bn for additional unemployment insurance, and $288bn to support small businesses and restaurants. A further $82bn would be for education, $45bn for transportation, and $35bn for the Healthcare Provider Relief Fund.

The bill will also provide short-term federal protection from coronavirus-related lawsuits so that states have time to develop their own legislation on the matter – something that Republican lawmakers had been pushing for.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr McConnell said at a press conference that he had been speaking with Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about another new proposal.

While he did not outline any details when speaking to reporters, a copy of the new plan obtained by Axios includes a fresh round of funding and improvements for the small business Paycheck Protection Program, as well as the implementation of widespread liability protections.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance would be extended until 31 January 2021 and then phased out; a grant program for shuttered live venues and theatres would be introduced; and more assistance would be rolled out for the postal service, education, and the stockpiling of medical equipment.

If any bill is to move forward it has to move quickly, as lawmakers are scheduled to begin leaving for the year next week.

Democrat senator Joe Manchin said it would be “inexcusable” for politicians to clock off for the year without ensuring Americans had more relief funding to cope with the pandemic.

Mark Warner of Virginia echoed Mr. Manchin’s comments, saying it would be “stupidity on steroids” to do so.

According to Johns Hopkins University, as of Tuesday morning, there have been 13.55 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US and more than 268,000 officially recorded deaths. Read More

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BBC-1

US election: Trump signals he is prepared to leave White House

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/embed/p08zrrmz/55096851

“It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede,” said President Trump

Donald Trump has said he will leave the White House if Joe Biden is formally confirmed as the next US president.

Answering reporters’ questions for the first time since losing the 3 November vote, Mr. Trump insisted, however, that “this race is far from over”.

He has refused to concede, citing unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

Individual states are currently certifying their results, after Mr. Biden was projected as the winner with an unassailable lead.

The Democrat leads Mr. Trump 306 votes to 232 under the electoral college system used to pick US presidents.

The tally is far more than the 270 needed to win, and Mr. Biden also leads the popular vote by more than six million.

Electors will meet to formalise the result on 14 December, with Mr. Biden due to be sworn in as president on 20 January.

The president and his supporters have lodged a number of legal challenges over the election, but most have been dismissed.

Earlier this week, Mr. Trump finally agreed to allow the formal transition to President-elect Biden’s team to begin, following several weeks of uncertainty.

The decision means Mr. Biden is able to receive top security briefings and access key government officials and millions of dollars in funds as he prepares to take over on 20 January.

Why is Trump refusing to admit defeat?

Following a video call with military personnel on the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, Mr. Trump faced questions from reporters at the White House.

US President Donald Trump participates in a Thanksgiving video teleconference with members of the military forces at the White House in Washington, 26 November 2020
Mr. Trump spoke with members of the US military – at home and abroad – via video link for the Thanksgiving holiday

He was asked whether he would agree to leave the White House if he lost the electoral college vote. “Certainly I will, certainly I will and you know that,” he said.

However, the president went on to say that “if they do [elect Joe Biden], they made a mistake”, and suggested he may never accept defeat.

“It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede because we know there was massive fraud,” he said, an allegation he has stood by without offering proof.

Mr. Trump did not say whether he would run for president again in 2024, or whether he would attend Mr. Biden’s inauguration.

The normally routine process of transitioning from one president to another and confirming the result has been derailed by President Trump’s refusal to concede.

Under the US electoral system, voters do not directly choose the next president. Instead, they vote for 538 officials, who are allocated to American states based on their population size.

The electors almost always vote for the candidate that won the most votes in their states, and although it is possible for some to disregard the voters’ pick, no result has ever been changed this way.

Mr. Trump also said that he was planning to hold a rally in Georgia on Saturday in support of two Republicans in key runoff elections that will decide which party controls the Senate.

What’s the latest from Biden?

The president-elect celebrated a quiet Thanksgiving on Thursday, as coronavirus cases in the US continue to rise.

“This year, our turkey will be smaller and the clatter of cooking a little quieter,” Mr. Biden and his wife Jill said in an op-ed published by CNN. “Like millions of Americans, we are temporarily letting go of the traditions we can’t do safely.”

“It is not a small sacrifice. These moments with our loved ones – time that’s lost – can’t be returned. Yet, we know it’s the price of protecting each other and one we don’t pay alone.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/embed/p08zmkyp/55096851

“We’re at war with a virus, not with one another”: President-elect Biden calls on Americans to unite against Covid-19

Earlier this week, Mr. Biden urged Americans to hold smaller Thanksgiving celebrations, saying that “I know that we can and will beat this virus”. He has said that tackling the pandemic would be his main priority when he takes office.

Mr. Biden has already announced his choice of top officials for when he takes over from Donald Trump in January and said that co-operation from the White House over the transition had been “sincere”.

Speaking in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday, he said that America “won’t stand” for any attempt to derail the election. Americans “have full and fair and free elections, and then we honour the results,” he said.

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Express

Disaster for Boris as furious Tory rebels could BLOCK foreign aid spending cut

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REBEL Tories are plotting to block the Government’s bid to cut foreign aid spending from 0.7 percent of GDP a year to 0.5 percent, according to reports.

By Alex Shipman PUBLISHED: Thu, Nov 26, 2020 | UPDATED: Nov 26, 2020 114

Angry Conservative MPs, predominantly from the party’s liberal wing, are understood to be organising ahead of a vote in Parliament on the proposal. Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defense committee, have criticised the budget cut, which amounts to around £4bn less for aid spending.

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Mr. Hunt said: “To cut our aid budget by a third, in a year when millions more will fall into extreme poverty, will make not just them poorer but us poorer in the eyes of the world because people will worry that we are abandoning a noble idea that we in this country have done more to champion than anyone else.

Mr. Ellwood warned cutting the budget will “leave vacuums in some of the poorest parts of the world that will further poverty and instability”.

Andrew Mitchell, a former international development secretary, said the reduction in foreign aid “will be the cause of 100,000 preventable deaths, mainly among children”.

He added: “This is a choice I for one am not prepared to make and none of us in this house will be able to look our children in the eye and claim we did not know what we were voting for.”

Rishi Sunak

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the spending cut on Wednesday (Image: Getty)

Hunt

Jeremy Hunt is among MPs to criticise the move (Image: Getty)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the reduction in foreign aid on Wednesday.

He said the budget would be reduced to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product from 0.7 percent, prompting the resignation of Baroness Sugg, minister for sustainable development.

Mr. Sunak said: “During a domestic fiscal emergency, when we need to prioritise our limited resources on jobs and public services, sticking rigidly to spending 0.7 percent of our national income on overseas aid is difficult to justify to the British people, especially when we’re seeing the highest peacetime levels of borrowing on record.

“At a time of unprecedented crisis, the Government must make tough choices.”

READ MORE: Foreign aid budget cut was right thing to do, say Express readers (TMR: Not surprising from Montserrat)

mitchell

Andrew Mitchell also voiced disapproval of the cuts (Image: Getty) TMR: Visited Montserrat in 2011 with Sue Wardel and laid the ground-work for the eventual May 1, 2012, MOU with Montserrat

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The Government plans to increase the figure to 0.7% “when the fiscal situation allows”, Mr. Sunak said

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Baroness Sugg, who served as Number 10’s director of operations under David Cameron, described plans to abandon the 0.7 percent spend commitment as “fundamentally wrong”.

She wrote: “This promise should be kept in the tough times as well as the good.

“Given the link between our development spend and the health of our economy, the economic downturn has already led to significant cuts this year and I do not believe we should reduce our support further at a time of unprecedented global crisis.”

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Tobias Ellwood

Tobisa Ellwood said cuts will “leave vacuums in some of the poorest parts of the world” (Image: Getty)

The Archbishop of Canterbury made a rare political intervention branding the move “shameful and wrong”

The Archbishop of Canterbury branded the move “shameful and wrong” (Image: Getty)

Backbenchers Pauline Latham and Peter Bottomley have also criticised the move.

Miss Latham said it could cause “more child marriages, more instances of early childbirth, more FGM, more domestic violence”.

However other Tory MPs, including the Conservative Party deputy chair Lee Rowley, supported the move.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight he commented: “0.5% remains a substantial amount of money, supporting the poorest around the world and helping them to grow.”

Baroness Sugg resigns after announcement of cut to foreign aid

The Archbishop of Canterbury made a rare political intervention branding the move, “shameful and wrong”.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said: “The cut in the aid budget – made worse by no set date for restoration – is shameful and wrong. It’s contrary to numerous Government promises and its manifesto.

“I join others in urging MPs to reject it for the good of the poorest, and the UK’s own reputation and interest.”

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has described the cut as a “very sad moment” for Britain.

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US agency ascertains Biden as winner of US 2020 elections, lets transition begin

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Biden transition gets govt OK after Trump out of options

By MATTHEW DALY, ZEKE MILLER and MARY CLARE JALONICKtoday

1 of 2 FILE – In this June 21, 2019 file photo, General Services Administration Administrator, Emily Murphy speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Department of Homeland Security’s St. Elizabeths Campus Center Building in Washington. The head of the obscure federal government agency that is holding up Joe Biden’s presidential transition knew well before Election Day she might have a messy situation on her hands well. Prior to Nov. 3, GSA administrator Emily Murphy held a Zoom call with Dave Barram, 77, a man who was in her shoes 20 years earlier during the contested 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Barram said he gave her some simple advice, “If you do the right thing, then all you have to do is live with the consequences of it.’”(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The General Services Administration ascertained Monday that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.

Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said in a tweet that he is directing his team to cooperate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.

Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump’s efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, citing, “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.” Michigan certified Biden’s victory Monday, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.

Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden transition, said in a statement that the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”

He added: “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain a complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”

Murphy, a Trump appointee, had faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration, including in critical national security and public health areas.

“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.

Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “We will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”

Pressure had been mounting on Murphy as an increasing number of Republicans, national security experts, and business leaders said it was time for that process to move forward.

Retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement Monday saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.

“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for Murphy to release money and staffing needed for the transition. Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.

Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”

Meanwhile, more than 160 business leaders asked Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,″ the business leaders said in an open letter to Murphy.

Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.

The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”

Trump had publicly refused to accept defeat and launched a series of losing court battles across the country making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and seeking to overturn the election results.

Murphy missed a deadline on Monday set by House Democrats to brief lawmakers about the delay in beginning the transition, which is usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration. A spokeswoman for the GSA said that a deputy administrator would instead hold two separate briefings for House and Senate committees on Nov. 30.

In response, the Democratic chairs of four committees and subcommittees said they could reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, but no later.

“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” the Democrats said in a letter to Murphy. “Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”

Portman said it was “only prudent” for GSA to begin the transition process immediately.

“Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face,″ Portman wrote in an op-ed calling for the transition to begin.

Murphy’s ascertainment will free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies. Trump administration officials had said they would not give Biden the classified presidential daily briefing on intelligence matters until the GSA makes the ascertainment official.

“Now that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has fulfilled her duty and ascertained the election results, the formal presidential transition can begin in full force,” said Max Stier, president, and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. “Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country’s greatest challenges. The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory.”

Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, the co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.

https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-joe-biden-donald-trump-ap-top-news-coronavirus-pandemic-04f44843e63aad2820bc72640cca2e83

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Trump Doesn’t Have a “Right” to Keep Filing Frivolous Lawsuits

Jurisprudence

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By Jim Wagstaffe Nov 13, 20204:36 PM

People on the steps of the Capitol take selfies and hold up signs that say "Biden Harris" and "Trump You're Fired"
Hundreds gathered at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg on Saturday to show their support for Joe Biden. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

This piece was originally published on Just Security, an online forum for analysis of U.S. national security law and policy.

The unofficial “show me” Missouri state slogan is not just an appropriate moniker for election legal challenges. It is a well-settled ethical requirement imposed by legislatures and courts for the filing of any litigation in this country.

We have all seen in these immediate post-election days not just the filing of a cornucopia of lawsuits attacking the process and results, but also a President Donald Trump-inspired trope that the Republicans, like all citizens, have a “right” to file lawsuits to test the bona fides of election results across the country. No, they don’t.

The uniform and governing rule in federal and state courts across the country is that before lawyers and litigants can pursue a case, they are under an affirmative duty to certify that the lawsuit is factually and legally meritorious. Wishful thinking doesn’t cut it.

I have been a litigator and civil procedure law professor for decades and am the author of a litigation practice guide for lawyers and judges. In my book, in every semester’s class, and in each case, I underscore to judges, students, and my colleagues that you cannot even file (much less pursue) litigation unless you first have sufficient factual and legal support. Model Code of Professional Conduct Rule 3.1 as well as the ethical canons in virtually all 50 states mandate that lawyers not bring a civil action “unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous.”

Since 1983, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 has mandated that lawyers and their clients not commence a lawsuit unless based on (1) well-grounded evidentiary facts, (2) a colorable basis in law, and (3) a proper purpose. And as to the “good facts” aspect of this rule, the lawyer is under an affirmative duty to conduct a reasonable investigation and substantiate the facts before filing a lawsuit making wild allegations of misconduct.

Violating Rule 11 is at the lawyer’s and client’s own economic peril. If the court concludes that litigation was filed without a sufficient factual or legal basis, it has the power to impose financial sanctions, including the payment of the other side’s attorney’s fees. The rule evolved in response to a growing sense there had been an increase in the filing of abusive litigation.

The late, great federal Judge William Schwarzer wrote that one may not avoid the sting of sanctions by operating under the guise of “a pure heart but an empty head” when filing meritless lawsuits. Rather, one must pursue litigation with objective—not subjective—good faith based on actual evidence.

The plethora of filed and threatened lawsuits during this high-octane postelection cycle raises these concerns with special focus. Simply bellowing “stop the count” means nothing if there is no substantial evidence of legal or factual impropriety. Telling a court that vote count observers “are being excluded” doesn’t work unless it is true and material. And certainly, internet-inspired conspiracy theories have no place in a solemn court proceeding or in the public discourse.

Bluntly put, the ethical requirements mean that you cannot file and vaguely hope to find evidence to support your case. You must have those facts (not just suspicions) in hand or, at a minimum, specifically identify what fact will have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation. Zealous advocacy, yes. Filing “pie in the sky” litigation, absolutely not.

All this means that the required evidentiary support is judged by what you know at the time of filing—not with the benefit of skewed hindsight. You must review the available documentary evidence and interview relevant witnesses before pursuing strategic, uncorroborated litigation. Implausibility, hearsay, and hopeful ideology don’t fly.

Thus, it is not enough to say in lawsuits the election was “riddled with fraud,” “stolen from the American people,” or “deeply rigged.” To the contrary and in case after case, judges (no matter who appointed them) have insisted on facts. For instance:

• In Michigan, Judge Timothy Kenny denied a preliminary injunction filed in Detroit to halt certification of the election because the assertion of “failed oversight” by election inspectors was speculative and unsupported, stating the “Plaintiffs’ allegation is mere speculation,” that they have “offered no evidence to support their assertions,” and they “are unable to meet their burden for the relief sought.”

• Also in Michigan, Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens dismissed a claim brought by an election observer claiming that poll observers were excluded, explaining “the complaint does not specify when, where, or by whom plaintiff was excluded. Nor does the complaint provide any details about why the alleged exclusion occurred.” Stephens otherwise dismissed the evidence as inadmissible hearsay without an exception.

• In Georgia, Judge James F. Bass dismissed a suit alleging that ballots received too late were invalidly counted, stating that there was “no evidence” that the ballots were invalid.

• In Pennsylvania, Judge Paul Diamond denied the Trump campaign’s motion for an injunction concerning greater access for poll watchers after the plaintiffs’ lawyers admitted that its poll observers were allowed in to observe. The judge questioned the lawyers, “I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?”

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Indeed, it is highly ironic that many of the politicians championing these election litigation strategies are the very ones in many other contexts who’ve complained of “the explosion” of frivolous litigation filed by “evil and greedy” plaintiffs’ lawyers. The “litigiousness” shoe now seems to be on the other foot.

Bottom line: You must have specific and credible evidence before you can file a lawsuit. And no surprise that the judges hearing these cases almost uniformly have and will continue to say “show me” or you’re out of here.

You may then read: https://www.justsecurity.org/73367/trump-has-a-right-to-pursue-legal-challenges-to-election-but-not-without-the-facts/

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St. Vincent PM says recount votes in Guyana should be honoured

by staff writer

KINGSTOWN, ST. Vincent, Jun 11, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he remains satisfied that the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping “will not stand by idly and watch the recount which is properly done for the results to be set aside” in the disputed March 2 regional and general elections in Guyana.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is yet to announce officially the winner of the polls after the re-count exercise was concluded on Sunday in the presence of observers from CARICOM and other international organisations.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves appearing on radio programme (CMC Photo)

Both the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National unity (APNU) headed by President David Granger and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) headed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo have claimed victory.

The PPP/C said that the recount has shown that it won the election by more than 15,000 votes, while the APNU has claimed that a number of irregularities and anomalies took place during the voting exercise and has called on GECOM to make a statement on the matter.

Gonsalves, speaking on a programme on the state-owned NBC Radio St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said “we expect the CARICOM observer mission to deliver its report and we expect that what is the recount would be honoured and the Guyana Elections Commission would honour that recount and declare the winner in accordance with this recount”

He told radio listeners that “anybody who wants to challenge anything afterward can go to court but you have to declare the winner in accordance with the recount,” he added.

Gonsalves, who is expected to take over the chairmanship of CARICOM in July, said that there had been “no complaints” about the first two processes involved in the elections, namely “what happens before the election day, process of registration, putting the machinery in place for free and fair elections, secondly what happens on election day.

“: Nobody said it was a sham elections or irregularities were such that so as to undermine the efficacy of the poll. The third question which was outstanding is the counting of the votes.

“That’s why the first statement that (Prime Minister of Barbados) Mia Mottley made as chair of CARICOM…is that each vote must be counted, each vote has to be counted. Well, this is where you had the basis for the recount and the reason why it is an election and not a selection, you have to count the votes and you have to count them honestly”.

Gonsalves said that he is “satisfied that CARICOM will not stand by idly and watch the recount which is properly done for the results to be set aside

“St Vincent and the Grenadines stands firmly for democracy and reflecting the will of the people. That will tell you where we are. I don’t have to say anything straight and plain. CARICOM is not going to tolerate anybody stealing an election,” he said.

Gonsalves said he is aware of a number of opposition parties when they lose an election make a number of complaints.

“It is almost a boring repetition. We get the reports, follow the law and who win, win. When you take part in an election there is always a chance that you may lose and if you lose …you take your licks like a man,” Gonsalves said, telling listeners that he is a friend to both Granger and Jagdeo.

Coalition says a statement by incoming CARICOM Chair could undermine the legitimacy of the recount process

by STAFF WRITER

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jun 11, CMC –  The coalition –  A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC)  has expressed concern with statements made the incoming Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Dr. Ralph Gonsalves; describing it as a taking a “prejudicial” stance on Guyana’s elections.

The APNU+AFC via a press statement said they were “surprised” at  Gonsalves’s statement since the national recount process of votes cast in the March 2, General and Regional Elections, is still ongoing.

Gonsalves who is the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has urged the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to declare a winner of the elections based on the figures from the first phase of the recount.

The recount is comprised of four stages.

However, the APNU+AFC in its statement highlighted that they are “concerned as the incoming Chair of CARICOM, Dr. Gonsalves has chosen to pronounce on a process that is still ongoing, and proposes to a direct constitutional body in another CARICOM Member State in the execution of its duties.”

The coalition reminded that the four-stage process which is gazetted was agreed to by all political parties and CARICOM.

The first stage of tabulating the votes recently concluded and the second stage is now in progress. That is the compilation of a matrix of the tabulated results along with a summary of the observation reports, by the Chief Elections Officer.

According to the coalition, the reports will highlight the 7,929 instances of irregularities which directly affected the validity of 257,173 votes.

Additionally, it was also pointed out that the CARICOM scrutineering team has not yet submitted a report of its findings as mandated by the gazetted order. This will then be followed by a review of the reports by the Elections Commission and finally a declaration of the results by the Chairperson of GECOM after having studied the report.

With that, the coalition further reminded that “the ongoing process is significant and important not only for democracy in Guyana but the wider CARICOM.  It is expected that CARICOM leaders would refrain from any actions or utterances that could undermine the legitimacy of the process and its credible conclusion.”

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CARICOM mounts Election Observation Mission for St. Kitts and Nevis General Elections

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)

At the invitation of the Government of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has fielded a CARICOM Election Observation Mission to monitor the General Elections which will be held in that country on Friday, June 5, 2020.

The three-member Mission will be headed by Mr. Gasper Jean Baptiste, Chief Elections Officer of Saint Lucia, who has served as a member of CARICOM Election Observation Missions to some other CARICOM Member States.   The other members of the Mission are:

  •    H.E. Mr. Arley Gill (National of Grenada); and
  •    Mr. Chester Arlington Humphrey (National of Grenada).

The CARICOM Election Observation Mission proposes to meet with the electoral officials, leaders of political parties and other stakeholders of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, and will monitor the voting process including the opening of the poll, the casting of votes, the closing of the poll and the counting of the ballots.

The members of the Observation Mission arrived in St. Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, and will depart on Sunday, June 7, 2020.

The Election Observation Mission will issue a Preliminary Statement based on its observations and findings.  A Report on the General Elections will be subsequently prepared and submitted to the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community. For CARICOM, election observation serves as a platform to support existing democratic traditions within the Caribbean Community as part of its wider policy of supporting democracy and good governance. In this regard, at the request of the Government of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, the CARICOM Secretariat conducted virtual training in election observation for a group of local election observers.

Posted in CARICOM, Elections, International, Local, News, Politics0 Comments

SKB-Labour-WhatsApp-Image-2020-05-27-at-8.32.45-PM

ZIZ St. Kitts Government Radio Station under fire from Opposition Political Party – Labour

With just over a week to go to general elections in St. Kitts, the St. Kitts-Nevis opposition Labour Party has sued the Government and the Radio Station, ZIZ.

Elections are due on June 5, 2020.

Posted in CARICOM, Elections, Labour, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional0 Comments

CARICOM-Chairman-bdos-PM-Mia-Motley

CARICOM Observer Team for Guyana Elections Recount

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley

Statement by the Chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Observer Team for the recount of Guyana’s Regional and General Elections will arrive in Guyana on Friday, May 1.

The three-member team will be led by Miss Cynthia Barrow-Giles, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies (UWI), and includes Mr. John Jarvis, Commissioner of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission and Mr. Sylvester King, Deputy Supervisor of Elections of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Ms. Barrow-Giles was a member of the High-Level Team which came to Guyana last March to participate in a scheduled recount which had to be aborted. The other members of that Team are unavailable for the present mission. Both Mr. Jarvis and Mr. King participated in the CARICOM Electoral Observer Mission for the Elections held on 2 March 2020.

The Community thanks the Government of Canada for the generous support it has provided to CARICOM for this initiative.

The Community calls on all concerned to ensure a credible and transparent recount process in order to provide legitimacy to any government, which would be sworn in as a result. This process must be completed without further delay.

30 April 2020

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Elections, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

Douglassss

The Rule of Law and The Creation of Wealth for the masses

Dr. Denzil Douglas shares two lofty ideals that his in-coming government stands for

Beresford Mack speaks with Dr. Denzil Douglas who prepares to take back the Government of St. Kitts-Nevis

Dr. Denzil Douglas

In the spirit of expanding partnership with those in the diaspora and sharing good governance responsibility, the Political Leader of the NextGen St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, Dr. Denzil Douglas outlined his leadership vision and governance strategy for the Federation.

Dr. Douglas sat down for an interview with award-winning freelance journalist Beresford Mack and gave these insights.

BM: Dr. Douglas, what are some of the things that you and your NextGen Labour team think are most important for an ordered society?

Dr. Douglas: My young and vibrant colleagues and I hold two goals and lofty ideas as sacred. First, the rule of law must be an essential ingredient in maintaining our democracy. When others have demonstrated a reckless disregard and disrespect for the dignity of the court, we respect the rule of law and the judiciary and take great pride in our long tradition of the fair administration of Justice.

Second, we believe that our in-coming government must create wealth through the enormous benefits we will be bringing to the good people of St. Kitts and Nevis on returning to government.

BM: What are some of the major projects that will create employment opportunities in construction and ignite sustained economic growth across all sectors of the economy starting in 2021?

Dr. Douglas: We are anxious to deliver a bridge between St. Kitts and Nevis, which will open big opportunities and create an economic zone at both ends. This project is designed to consolidate and expand our tourism industry especially with an emphasis in medical tourism.

We will also construct a highway from western Basseterre to the Whitegate Development area. This will bring us additional economic activity for the expansion of the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College campus in Nevis and the western campus in St. Kitts, thus offering our young people a first-class education foundation nearer to their homes.

To further improve our infrastructure, we will build a brand-new airport terminal with several jet bridges to increase the number of new airlines that we will woo to our lovely Federation.

BM: What is NextGen Labour’s vision for sports development?

Dr. Douglas: The Next Gen SKN incoming government is also anxious to begin the construction of a National Sports Academy, through which our young, highly talented and skillful men and women will be prepared to compete professionally in basketball, soccer, tennis, netball, golf, volleyball, swimming, track and field, and netball. They will also be prepared with the social graces, leadership skills, commitment to excellence and resilience, all-important skills and attributes that they will need as productive citizens in their adult lives.

BM: How will local stakeholders benefit from this new economic development vision?

Dr. Douglas: Our building and construction policy is geared towards cooperation with local businesses and international investors so that we provide a fair and transparent framework of conditions that bring solid but sustainable benefits to everyone. Therefore, we envision resuscitating the La Vallee Development Project while at the same time complete the construction of three boutique hotels at Kittitian Hill and building a state of the art Technical Training Institute. I want our people to keep abreast of the latest knowledge and techniques in their fields to perform beyond expectations.

BM: What about healthcare?

Dr. Douglas: The Next Gen SKN incoming government is already engaged in dialogue with several players in the global healthcare industry to build a state of the art hospital, a medical complex, upgrade community clinics and integrate various medical and nursing programs to the deliver the best education and cutting edge health care services to our people. We must be better able to cope with and minimize the impact of global outbreaks on our citizens.

BM: I know that you are a staunch integrationist. What role do you see for St. Kitts and Nevis as a regional player?

Dr. Douglas: I want St. Kitts and Nevis to play a vital role in shaping regional politics and economics. I will promote the formation of a CAPITAL MARKET as an important instrument to raise the finances to fund several of these major projects. My young, innovative and energetic team and I, envision our Federation working together with CARICOM and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to confront global challenges and share equal responsibility for adapting to new priorities and challenges as they arise.

Beresford Mack is a strategic communications consultant, award-winning freelance journalist and social media marketing specialist. He has worked in the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and the USA. He has won a Sony Radio award (which is described as the UK Radio Oscars) and a whilst working at London’s biggest Urban Radio Station Choice FM which has now been rebranded as Capital Xtra.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Culture, Elections, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional, Sports0 Comments

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