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Bertrand Osborne dies at 83

It was by no means surprising on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. how quickly the word resounded worldwide that former Chief Minister, the Honourable Bertrand Osborne, OBE had died at his home, after a lengthy illness, which he endured mostly at his home. In 2014 he was honoured with the National Order of Distinction award

Not surprising, as the condolences and tributes kept pouring in over the internet and as announced on ZJB Radio, since the news.

Premier Donaldson Romeo

The Hon. Premier in a statement of condolences on behalf of the Government and people of Montserrat, “Premier the Honourable Donaldson Romeo expresses heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of former Chief Minister Honourable Bertrand Osborne.”

The statement reads, “It is with deep regret and profound sadness that the Government and people of Montserrat, express sincere condolences, on the passing of a former Chief Minister of Montserrat, Honourable Bertrand Osborne…”

The statement provides the information that Mr. Osborne, served as the Chief Minister of Montserrat from November 1996 to August 1997, but was a member of the Legislative Assembly continuously from 1987 until 2001 serving as the leader of the National Development Party (NDP).

Osborne at St Patrick’s Church Plymouth

As the Premier ends his condolences: “We all pray that God will bring comfort to his wife Lystra Osborne, his children and the entire Osborne family during this time of bereavement.

As we honour his legacy, may his soul rest in eternal peace.”

At the same time Leader of the Opposition Easton Taylor Farrell, while on behalf of the parliamentary opposition extending condolences to the Osbornes family assuring them that “our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time,” said: “On reflecting on the life  of Mr. Osborne it is safe to say that he was a man of integrity, a role model, an individual who has helped to shape the lives of so many who knew him.  He was truly a man who was dedicated to service to his people. His business and political contribution has helped to shape the future of this island.”

Ag. Governor and Deputy Governor the Hon. Mrs. Lyndell Simpson

 Ag. Governor and Deputy Governor the Hon. Mrs. Lyndell Simpson was also quick and in a press statement described Mr. Osborne as “a great man who maintained a deep sense of humility, integrity and dedication to the public service and the people of Montserrat.

She said “the many facets of his extraordinary life and legacy to include managing MS Osborne Limited for 46 years (1967 – 2013) will live on in the hearts and minds of all who had the privilege to know him, learn from him, and work alongside him.

“Montserrat has lost a leader,” she says, adding “an exemplary man of deep principles and patriotism.”

She, on behalf of the Montserrat Public Service “most respectfully conveys its sincerest condolences to Mr Osborne’s bereaved wife, children, family and loved ones.”

Osborne at Tree planting at Germans Bay with St Patrick’s club

TMR will memorialise in a next issue, the Hon. Mr. Osborne following a memorial service to be held in his honour on Friday, September 14, at the Montserrat Cultural Centre at 10.30 a.m. following which his funeral service will begin at 2.30 p.m. at the R. C. Church in Lookout.

Staff of The Montserrat Reporter derived from Montserrat Reporter founded by Mr. Osborne’s National Development party in 1985, offers their sincerest condolences.

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Trinidad and Tobago observing 56th anniversary of independence

Trinidad and Tobago observing 56th anniversary of independence

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 31, CMC – Trinidad and Tobago observed its 56th anniversary of political independence from Britain on Friday with the traditional military parade and differing statements from the politicians regarding the socio-economic development of the oil-rich twin island republic.

While President Paula Mae Weekes noted that independence is a work in progress she urged citizens to continue ensuring the development of the country.

“Fellow citizens, on 31 August 1962, Trinidad and Tobago shook off the reins of colonialism and dared to go it alone. To the tolling of bells, the Union Jack was lowered for the final time and the red, white and black hoisted to signal the birth of our nation.”

She said since that time Trinidad and Tobago has enjoyed a relatively stable democracy, significant economic transformation and general improvement in the quality of life of its citizens.

But she said considering the current challenges of crime and the economy, plus the island’s use of the London-based Privy Council as its final court, the world economy and global climate change, she asked how independent Trinidad and Tobago is.

“Political separation from the United Kingdom was only the first step of our long journey of self-discovery.

“Independence has never been a static notion. It implies the constant working-out of identity and purpose, sovereignty over one’s decisions and taking responsibility for one’s actions.”

In his message Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley the anniversary of independence provides citizens with another opportunity to reflect on the meaning of citizenship and the value of its national identity.

“The world has brought us news of nations gripped by civil war, anarchy and terror. In many countries people do not enjoy the freedoms we may be tempted to take for granted. That our democracy has remained intact these 56 years is no small feat.

“This deserves celebration given our status as one of the most multi-cultural societies in the western world. We have largely used our diversity as a bridge to make connections with each other. We’ve enjoyed a deep harmony that is intrinsic to our identity as nationals of this beloved country. We must guard our unity zealously. This defence is especially needed in turbulent times,” he said.

Rowley said that it is times of difficulty that the urge to retreat to narrow interests and partisan lines can become the strongest.

“But we must resist this and seek instead an agreeable guidepost. But how do we find common ground in an often polarising environment?,” he asked suggesting that the country remember the words of the first prime minister Dr. Eric Williams who said “whatever the challenge that faces you, from whatever quarter, place always first that national interest and the national cause”.

Rowley said he has no doubt that “we will do what is needed to create sustainable growth and national development. It is our responsibility as loyal citizens to ensure that our children can be proud of the decisions that we must make today”.

However, Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad Bissessar said the independence anniversary provides an opportunity “to undertake a sober, piercing assessment of our progress and the difficulties that still lie ahead.

“The question must be asked: Have we achieved the Trinidad and Tobago which the leaders of our fight for independence envisioned more than half a century ago? In answering this question, we must decide whether we wish to maintain the status quo, or determine the future that we want for our children and grandchildren.

“There is no question that our country today faces significant issues, and there appear to be no moves by the current administration to deal frontally with the problems affecting people, including escalating crime, inadequate health care, reduced opportunities for education of our young people, job losses, high cost of living, and a declining economy,” she said.

She was critical of the government’s “silence” over the decision to shut down the oil refinery at the state-owned oil company, PETROTRIN, saying that the government had “failed to articulate a plan to address the issue of the state-owned company’s debt, and the long-term impact of the restructuring exercise on Trinidad and Tobago’s economy”.

Meanwhile, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Irwin laRocque has in a congratulatory message paid tribute to the creativity and dynamism of the people of Trinidad and Tobago as well as recognising the “significant contributions” that the country has made to the regional integration process.

“Additionally, Trinidad and Tobago, as a founding member of the Community and lead Member State on regional security and energy issues, continues to make significant contributions to Caribbean integration and to the promotion and attainment of citizen and energy security,” he said.

United States Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, said that Washington and Port of Spain “have always enjoyed rich cross-cultural exchange, friendship, and the shared goal of building a more safe and secure region as underscored in the Caribbean 2020 strategy.

“We are grateful for the continued strong partnership as our countries work to deepen cooperation on trade, energy, and opportunity for all,” he said.

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John McCain, ‘maverick’ of the Senate and former POW, dies at 81

John McCain, ‘maverick’ of the Senate and former POW, dies at 81

The Washing Post

August 25 at 8:21 PM

U.S. Sen. John S. McCain, the son and grandson of four-star admirals, was bred for combat. He endured more than five years of imprisonment and torture by the North Vietnamese as a young naval officer and went on to battle foes on the left and the right in Washington, driven throughout by a code of honor that both defined and haunted him.

Sen. McCain, 81, died Aug. 25 at his ranch near Sedona, Ariz., his office announced in a statement. The senator was diagnosed last July with a brain tumor, and his family announced this week that he was discontinuing medical treatment.

During three decades of representing Arizona in the Senate, he ran twice unsuccessfully for president. He lost a bitter primary campaign to George W. Bush and the Republican establishment in 2000. He then came back to win the nomination in 2008, only to be defeated in the general election by Barack Obama, a charismatic Illinois Democrat who had served less than one term as a senator.

A man who seemed his truest self when outraged, Sen. McCain reveled in going up against orthodoxy. The word “maverick” practically became a part of his name.

Sen. McCain regularly struck at the canons of his party. He ran against the GOP grain by advocating campaign finance reform, liberalized immigration laws and a ban on the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” — widely condemned as torture — against terrorism suspects.

To win his most recent reelection battle in 2016, for a sixth term, he positioned himself as a more conventional Republican, unsettling many in his political fan base. But in the era of President Trump, he again became an outlier.

The terms of engagement between the two had been defined shortly after Trump became a presidential candidate and Sen. McCain commented that the celebrity real estate magnate had “fired up the crazies.” At a rally in July 2015, Trump — who avoided the Vietnam draft with five deferments — spoke scornfully of Sen. McCain’s military bona fides: “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Once Trump was in office, Sen. McCain was among his most vocal Republican critics, saying that the president had weakened the United States’ standing in the world. He also warned that the spreading investigation over Trump’s ties to Russia was “reaching the point where it’s of Watergate-size and scale.”


Sen. McCain arrives in the Capitol to vote against a GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act in July 2017, less than two weeks after surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye and days after his office announced he was diagnosed with brain cancer. The vote marked a spectacular break with President Trump. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)

In both of his own presidential races, Sen. McCain had dubbed his campaign bus the “Straight Talk Express.” To the delight of reporters who traveled with him in 2000, he was accessible and unfiltered, a scrappy underdog who delighted in upsetting the Republican order.

“He was always ready for the next experience, the next fight. Not just ready, but impatient for it,” said his longtime aide Mark Salter, who co-authored more than a half-dozen books with the senator, including three memoirs, the final of which included a stinging critique of Trump. “He took enjoyment from fighting, not winning or losing, as long as he believed he was fighting for a cause worth the trouble.”

So broad and party-bending was his appeal that Senate Democrats in 2001 quietly tried to persuade him to become one of them. In 2004, Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry, a Senate colleague who later became Obama’s secretary of state, considered offering Sen. McCain the second spot on his ticket.

Sen. McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign turned out to be a far more conventional operation than his first bid for the White House. He stuck to his talking points and came to represent the status quo that he had once promised to topple.


Sen. McCain speaks with his 2008 vice-presidential running mate, then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, surrounded by their families at a rally in Dayton, Ohio. Her presence on the ticket briefly boosted his campaign. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Her well-received convention speech initially gave the sagging Republican nominee a lift, and her independent streak reinforced Sen. McCain’s message and reputation. Looking back on the decision in 2012, Sen. McCain said he had been looking for “a way to galvanize and energize our campaign.”

But Palin’s performance in interviews and on the stump sowed doubts about whether she was prepared to be next in line for the presidency and, by Election Day, polls indicated that she had become a drag on his candidacy.

When he acted like an ordinary politician, trimming principles in the cause of ambition and expedience, it was all the more jarring because of the standard he had set. In the years that followed, a question often asked was: Which is the real John McCain?

He represented the end of an era during which the nation looked at wartime military experience as practically mandatory for those who aspire to high office. “McCain was part of the tradition of being able to say, ‘I did public service when I was young,’ ” historian Douglas Brinkley said.

Sen. McCain, who rose to become chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was among the Republicans’ most hawkish leaders on military matters and foreign affairs.

It was a mind-set that came, in part, from his conviction that the Vietnam War, in which he had suffered grievously, was a noble and winnable endeavor. The real failure, he believed, was that of a spineless political class.

During the Iraq War, often compared to Vietnam, Sen. McCain was an early and ardent proponent of a 2007 “surge” of troops. President Bush ultimately adopted that strategy, and it was widely credited with stabilizing Iraq, albeit temporarily.

Sen. McCain was also a persistent critic of Obama’s foreign policy.

“The demand for our leadership in the world has never been greater. People don’t want less of America — they want more,” Sen. McCain said in 2012. “Everywhere I go in the world, people tell me that they still have faith in America. What they want to know is whether we still have faith in ourselves.”

A military family

John Sidney McCain III was born Aug. 29, 1936, in the Panama Canal Zone and into a family whose military lineage included an ancestor who served as an aide to Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

He was named for the first father and son in Navy history to become full admirals: John S. “Slew” McCain Sr., a top Pacific-theater commander in World War II, and John S. McCain Jr., commander for all armed forces in the Pacific during the Vietnam War.

The middle of three children, Sen. McCain manifested his famously hot temper early: As a toddler, he would hold his breath until he blacked out. His tantrums were so severe that a Navy doctor advised his father and mother, the former Roberta Wright, to drop him, fully clothed, into a bathtub of icy water at the first sign of an outburst.

After transient early years spent mostly at military bases, he graduated in 1954 from a Virginia boarding school, Episcopal High School in Alexandria. Following his father’s and grandfather’s path, and his parents’ often-stated expectations, Sen. McCain then enrolled at the U.S. Naval Academy, which he later recalled as “a place I belonged at but dreaded.”

At Annapolis, he rebelled against the hazing and the regulations and racked up so many demerits that he was at risk of expulsion. (That, too, was something of a family tradition.) As Sen. McCain often boasted later in life, he graduated fifth from the bottom of the 899-member class of 1958.

From there, he headed to Pensacola, Fla., to be trained as a Navy pilot and continue the rowdy existence of his days at the academy.

One girlfriend at the time was a stripper who went by the professional name Marie, the Flame of Florida. Sen. McCain recalled taking her as his date to a party of young officers and their mannerly wives. Marie became bored, drew a switchblade from her purse, popped it open and cleaned her fingernails.

He did a stint as a flight instructor in Meridian, Miss., at McCain Field, named for his grandfather. It was there, Sen. McCain recalled, that he matured and became dedicated to distinguishing himself as a pilot.

“As a boy and young man, I may have pretended not to be affected by the family history, but my studied indifference was a transparent mask to those who knew me well,” the senator wrote in a 1999 memoir of his early life, “Faith of My Fathers,” co-authored by Salter. “As it was for my forebears, my family’s history was my pride.”

Sen. McCain also became involved in a serious romance, with Carol Shepp of Philadelphia, whom he had known since his days at the academy. They wed in July 1965, and he soon adopted her two sons from a previous marriage, Douglas and Andrew. The couple later had a daughter, Sidney.

Sen. McCain requested and got orders to do a Vietnam combat tour, joining a squadron on the supercarrier Forrestal in the Tonkin Gulf. On July 29, 1967, having flown five uneventful bombing runs over North Vietnam, he was preparing for takeoff when a missile accidentally fired from a nearby fighter struck the fuel tank of his A-4 Skyhawk, Sen. McCain wrote in his memoir. It set off explosions and a fire that killed 134 crewmen, destroyed more than 20 planes and disabled the ship so severely that it took two years to repair.

His own injuries being relatively — and miraculously — minor, Sen. McCain, then a lieutenant commander, volunteered for dangerous duty on the undermanned carrier Oriskany. He joined a squadron nicknamed the Saints that was known for its daring; that year, one-third of its pilots would be killed or captured.

Brutal captivity

On Oct. 26, 1967, Sen. McCain was on his 23rd mission and his first attack on the enemy capital, Hanoi. He dove his A-4 on a thermal power plant near a lake in the center of the city.

As he released his bombs on the target, a Russian-made missile the size of a telephone pole blew off his right wing. The lieutenant commander pulled his ejection-seat handle and was knocked unconscious by the force as he was hurled from the plane. He came to when he hit the lake, where a mob of Vietnamese had gathered.

With both arms and his right knee broken, he was dragged from the lake, beaten with a rifle butt and stabbed in the foot with a bayonet. Then Sen. McCain was taken to the French-built prison that American POWs had dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton.”

So began 5½  years of torture and imprisonment, nearly half of it spent in solitary confinement. During that time, his only means of communicating with other prisoners was by tapping out the alphabet through the walls.

At first, his family was told that he was probably dead. The front page of the New York Times carried a headline: Adm. McCain’s Son, Forrestal Survivor, Is Missing in Raid.

The North Vietnamese, however, perceived that there was propaganda value in the prisoner. They called him the “crown prince” and assigned a cellmate to nurse him back to health. As brutal as his treatment was, Sen. McCain later said, prisoners who lacked his celebrity endured worse.

Shortly before his father assumed command of the war in the Pacific in 1968, Sen. McCain was offered early release. He refused because it would have been a violation of the Navy code of conduct, which prohibited him from accepting freedom before those who had been held longer.

“I knew that every prisoner the Vietnamese tried to break, those who had arrived before me and those who would come after me, would be taunted with the story of how an admiral’s son had gone home early, a lucky beneficiary of America’s class-conscious society,” Sen. McCain recalled. “I knew that my release would add to the suffering of men who were already straining to keep faith with their country.”

His lowest point came after extensive beatings that broke his left arm again and cracked his ribs. Ultimately, he agreed to sign a vague, stilted confession that said he had committed what his captors called “black crimes.”

“I still wince when I recall wondering if my father had heard of my disgrace,” Sen. McCain wrote. “The Vietnamese had broken the prisoner they called the ‘Crown Prince,’ and I knew they had done it to hurt the man they believed to be a king.”

In March 1973, nearly two months after the Paris peace accords were signed, Sen. McCain and the other prisoners were released in four increments, in the order in which they had been captured. He was 36 years old and emaciated.

The effects of his injuries lingered for the rest of his life: Sen. McCain was unable to lift his arms enough to comb his own prematurely gray hair, could only shrug off his suit jacket and walked with a stiff-legged gait.

Entering politics

Sen. McCain had hoped to remain in the Navy, but it became clear that his disabilities would limit his prospects for advancement.

In the meantime, he found himself drawn toward the civilian world of politics — and it toward him. Hobbling on crutches in his dress-white service uniform, he shook President Richard M. Nixon’s hand. Sen. McCain also struck up a friendship with then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan, who invited the former POW to speak at an annual prayer breakfast in Sacramento.

He developed a network of political contacts while working in the Navy’s legislative affairs operation in the late 1970s. His office on the first floor of the Russell Senate Office Building was a popular late-afternoon socializing spot for younger senators and their staffs.

Sen. McCain’s marriage, meanwhile, frayed and fell apart. That was not an unusual story among returning Vietnam POWs, and in his case, the dissolution was aggravated by his infidelities.

While he and his wife were separated, Sen. McCain visited Hawaii, where he met Cindy Hensley, the daughter of a wealthy Arizona beer distributor. A few months after his divorce became final in 1980, he married Hensley. Then-Sen. William S. Cohen (R-Maine), later to be a defense secretary, was his best man, and then-Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.), a future presidential contender, was an usher.

The couple had three children: Meghan McCain, who became a media personality and blogger, and sons Jimmy McCain and Jack McCain, both of whom served in the military. They also adopted a daughter, Bridget McCain, whom Cindy had met while visiting an orphanage in Bangladesh.

Besides his mother, his wife and seven children, survivors include a brother, Joseph P. McCain of Washington; a sister, Jean McCain Morgan of Annapolis; and five grandchildren.

Sen. McCain retired from the Navy at the rank of captain and moved to Arizona in 1981, with an eye toward running for Congress. The opportunity presented itself the following January when a longtime Republican congressman, John Rhodes, announced his retirement. That same day, the McCains bought a house in Rhodes’s Phoenix district, and John McCain was soon in a race against three other candidates.

He was called an opportunist and a carpetbagger — accusations he dispatched with a single answer at a candidate forum.

“I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and spending my entire life in a nice place like the 1st District of Arizona, but I was doing other things,” he replied to one critic. “As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi.”

John McCain was a Capitol Hill celebrity from the moment he was elected to the House.

In many areas, he was a reliably conservative voice and vote. But from the beginning, he showed what became a trademark streak of independence. He called for the withdrawal of Marines from Lebanon in 1983 after a terrorist bombing left 241 U.S. service members dead; he voted to override President Reagan’s veto of sanctions against the apartheid regime of South Africa in 1986.

And — surprisingly to many — as a member of the Senate, he worked to normalize relations with Vietnam.

Sen. McCain crusaded against pork-barrel spending, the practice by which lawmakers direct taxpayer money to projects in their districts. He was also the only Republican to vote against the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a deregulation measure he said had been “written by every [special] interest in the world except the consumers.”

Acclaimed by the media, he was not popular in the Senate. Many of his colleagues were put off by his certitude.

“John puts things in terms of black and white, right and wrong,” then-Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) told The Washington Post in 2000. “If you disagree with him, you’re wrong. He doesn’t see that there could be legitimate differences of opinion that deserve respect.”
Journalists surround Sen. McCain as he walks to the Senate floor for a vote in January 2017. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Over the years, Keating had contributed heavily to Sen. McCain’s House and Senate campaigns. The senator’s family had taken at least nine trips, at Keating’s expense, to the Bahamas, where Keating had a luxurious vacation estate.

Sen. McCain and the four Democrats — Alan Cranston of California, Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, John Glenn of Ohio and Donald W. Riegle Jr. of Michigan, all of whom had also benefited from Keating’s largesse — became known as the “Keating Five.”

The Senate Ethics Committee finally determined that Sen. McCain had not done anything more serious than showing “poor judgment” by attending two meetings with the regulators and the four other senators. It was the lightest reprimand the committee gave in connection with the scandal. The others were rebuked but were not charged with crimes.

Sen. McCain felt that he bore a permanent taint. “It will be on my tombstone, something that will always be with me, something that will always be in my biography,” he said, “and deservedly so.”

The experience also lit the fire for what would become his signature issue and biggest legislative achievement: an overhaul of campaign finance laws. Sen. McCain teamed up with one of the Senate’s most liberal members, Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), to author a measure that called for the most dramatic change to the system since the post-Watergate reforms of 1974.

It took them more than seven years to get the legislation through. The 2002 law’s main thrust was to ban unlimited, unregulated “soft money” donations to parties, which were used as a means of skirting the contribution limits to individual candidates.

In less than a decade, however, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision opened the money floodgate and led to the rise of super PACs, which can spend unlimited sums, as long as they do not coordinate directly with candidates. Sen. McCain called it “the worst decision of the United States Supreme Court in the 21st century.”

Presidential campaigns

When Sen. McCain announced in September 1999 that he was running for the Republican nomination for president, it was yet another assault on the political establishment, which had put its chips on then-Texas Gov. Bush, the son of a former president.

“In truth, I had had the ambition for a long time. It had been a vague aspiration,” he later wrote. “It had been there, in the back of my mind, for years, as if it were simply a symptom of my natural restlessness. Life is forward motion for me.”

He ran as a truth-telling reformer, held a record-setting 114 town hall meetings in New Hampshire (while effectively ignoring the Iowa caucuses) and pulled off a stunning 18-point victory over Bush in the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary. But his campaign ran aground in South Carolina in what came to be regarded as the nastiest primary in memory.

Sen. McCain was the target of rumors: that he had fathered a black child (twisting the facts about his dark-skinned adopted daughter); that his wife had a drug habit (she acknowledged having been addicted to painkillers and stealing them from a charity she ran); that his years as a POW had left him brainwashed and insane.

One of his regrets, he later said, was getting tangled up in South Carolina’s emotional debate over flying the Confederate flag at the capitol in Columbia. After describing the banner as “a symbol of racism and slavery,” Sen. McCain bowed to the pleas of his panicked strategists and issued a statement saying he could “understand both sides” of the question.

Later, he wrote that he regretted not having told the truth, which was that he believed “the flag should be lowered forever from the staff atop South Carolina’s capitol.”

“I had not been just dishonest. I had been a coward, and I had severed my own interests from my country’s. That was what made the lie unforgivable,” he recalled. “All my heroes, fictional and real, would have been ashamed of me.”

Bush handily defeated Sen. McCain in South Carolina, beginning the end of the senator’s insurgent campaign. In April, a month after he dropped out of the 2000 race, Sen. McCain returned to the state and publicly apologized for having chosen “to compromise my principles. I broke my promise to always tell the truth.”

Sen. McCain blames the Obama administration at a January 2013 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing about the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

The bitterness of that campaign lingered for much of Bush’s presidency. Sen. McCain was, for instance, one of only two Senate Republicans to vote against Bush’s 2001 tax cuts. He said they were fiscally irresponsible and benefited “the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief.”

But by the time he ran again in 2008, Sen. McCain had come to terms with Bush and the Republican Party, and they with him. He not only voted to extend the tax cuts in 2006, but also advocated making them permanent.

Whereas Sen. McCain had lashed out at evangelical leaders Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as “agents of intolerance” during his first presidential bid, he delivered the commencement address at Falwell’s Liberty University in 2006. Falwell introduced him with lavish praise, saying, “The ilk of John McCain is very scarce, very small.”

The shift rightward caused a breach with a constituency that Sen. McCain had long counted as in his corner: the media.

“Are you going into crazy base world?” comedian Jon Stewart asked Sen. McCain during an appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” a few weeks before the speech at Liberty.

“I’m afraid so,” Sen. McCain deadpanned.

His campaign all but collapsed in the summer of 2007, but Sen. McCain battled back and won the nomination.

Still, he was flying into head winds in the general election. The war in Iraq, which he had supported, was unpopular, as was the Republican incumbent in the White House. Palin’s erratic, unprepared performance became a story in itself.

Most important, he was up against a Democrat who seemed tailor-made for that moment in history: Obama was better financed, ran a better campaign, had opposed the Iraq War and offered the captivating prospect of putting an African American in the White House for the first time.


Sen. McCain pauses for a portrait during his “Straight Talk Express” campaign bus tour in Manchester, N.H., in 2007. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Returning to Congress, Sen. McCain became a frequent antagonist of the man who had defeated him for president. He contended for instance that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2014 invasion of Crimea was a result of “a feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America’s strength anymore.”

When Sen. McCain got the gavel of the Armed Services Committee in 2015, he told The Post that he was having more fun than at any time since his 2000 presidential campaign. That same year, he announced plans to run for a sixth term in the Senate.

Sen. McCain won handily, and in his victory speech to supporters, he predicted that campaign “might be the last.”

“Thank you one last time,” he added, “for making me the luckiest guy I know.”

In his final book, reflecting on his life as it came to an end, McCain wrote: “It’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make a peace. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.”

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Little Bay - 2008 with Potato hill, bottom rt; Renesvouz bluff, mid-left. (Barge stranded aground on shoreline below Potato Hill)

Little Bay port development by 2020

by Bennette Roach

Little Bay – 2008 with Potato hill, bottom rt; Rendesvouz bluff, beach barely seen beyond, mid-left. (Barge stranded aground on shoreline below Potato Hill)

Premier the Hon. Donaldson Romeo has been touting on the transformation projects that are about to be rolled out by the end of this year. Among them is what his government sees as most integral to the development of Montserrat. As reported he is spouting great optimism surrounding the delivery of a new breakwater and berthing facility for Montserrat. Only that will not break ground until next year.

Earlier in this month like before, the Government was reportedly in negotiation with the European Union for an additional £5million to fund the project. This is expected to supplement the 14.4 million pounds or $50.8 million already allocated under the UK Caribbean Investment Fund, UK-CIF.

Government of Montserrat (GoM) confirmed that the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) delegation was due to travel to Montserrat soon, to move the project to the next stage.

The Premier explained, “following that we hope to go to procurement on the port a final decision as to what we’re doing with the port and go to procurement, hopefully as I said before we go towards having a contract in place and action on the port around this time next year, by this time next year with a view to spend those funds by 2020.”

He continued: “…a port would have to be in place completed by 2020,” as he confirms, “… that’s one certainty we have once we complete the negotiation successfully.”

He promises, “there will be activity over that period from next year right into 2020 which is good news for the man out there who wants that continuous work that I’ve spoken about.”

He said the visit by the bank was confirmed at the CDB’s forty seventh Annual General Meeting in Turks and Caicos being attended by the Hon Premier Donaldson Romeo, the Financial Secretary Collin Owen and Chief Economist Raja Cadre.

Economic Growth Strategy to get boost

The Premier reportedly has met with the CDB President Dr William Warren Smith and the full board of directors. Premier Romeo discussed the five transformational projects that Montserrat plan to take forward and focused on the partnership between the C.B.D. and Montserrat to deliver the breakwater facility.

It was also confirmed at the meeting that CDB’s Chief Economist will be visiting Montserrat to support the development of the economic growth strategy now being developed by the government.

Meanwhile in late news Friday, a Press Conference on Port Development Project is announced for Tuesday, August 21, 2018  advising that the Project will be implemented by the Ministry of Communications, Works, Energy and Labour.

The information says, that “Since the signing, the Ministry has been inviting and receiving tenders for several key aspects of the project, including, perhaps beginning with the provision of ‘Technical Consultancy and Supervision of the project. 

This Press Conference will therefore provide an update on the tender process and the upcoming stages required as part of the project implementation.

 

Pics Premier

Little Bay

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Venezuela And Trinidad Struck By Massive, 7.3 Magnitude Earthquake

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The quake could be felt as far away as Colombia and Grenada. No deaths had been reported.

A massive earthquake rocked Venezuela and the southern Caribbean on Tuesday evening, knocking out power throughout the region and sending people rushing out of buildings.

Preliminary reports from the U.S. Geological Survey indicate a 7.3 magnitude quake struck just 12 miles off Venezuela’s Cariaco Peninsula, its northeasternmost tip. The epicenter is not far from Trinidad’s northwestern coast. The two countries are separated by just seven nautical miles.

It was a little surreal; the country just seemed to shut down for a second. Kevin Farrick, Trinidad and Tobago

There are no reports of fatalities in either country so far. But in Venezuela, The Associated Press indicates there may be injuries from an escalator collapse in Cumana, the closest city to the epicenter. In a public address, Nestor Reverol, the country’s interior minister, asked for patience and insisted that national disaster teams have been dispatched for relief.

In July 1997, a 6.9 quake struck the same Cariaco region, resulting in more than 80 deaths.

In Trinidad, Joan Latchman, a seismologist at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center, told the AP that Tuesday’s quake was the strongest felt in the country since December 2016.

Stuart Young, Trinidad and Tobago’s minister of national security and communications, gave a televised address on the country’s state-owned network to confirm there were no reports of damage to the island’s infrastructure.

But images quickly flooded social media of downed power lines, toppled store shelves and fallen debris.

Kevin Farrick, a marketing consultant from Port-of-Spain, initially mistook his rocky commute home as car trouble. But once he glanced up to see the traffic lights flashing and lamp posts swaying, he realized it was more than just a bumpy ride.

“Then a transformer exploded and I was like ‘wait a minute, there’s nothing wrong with my car. It’s a damn earthquake!’” Farrick said. Soon after, he noticed people running out of area businesses and government buildings into the streets.

“It was a little surreal; the country just seemed to shut down for a second,” he said.

Many Venezuelans and Trinbagonians are now using Facebook’s check-in tool to mark themselves as “safe’ in the aftermath.

The quake could be felt as far away as Bogota, Colombia as well as several Caribbean islands in the region, including Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Although aftershocks are still being reported, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reports no immediate threat of a tsunami to the surrounding region. 

Posted in CARICOM, Climate/Weather, Earthquake, Featured, International, Local, News0 Comments

Massive earthquake rocks Trinidad and Tobago

Massive earthquake rocks Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago has been rocked by a massive earthquake, causing serious damage to property in the twin-island republic on Tuesday.

Social media has been flooded with images of destruction to roadways, popular buildings, supermarkets and cars, with some residents announcing that they are safe.

According to the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre, the 6.9 magnitude quake struck a latitude of 10.51 N, a longitude of 62.76 W and a depth of 73 km.

The quake occurred at 5:30pm and lasted for almost a minute. 

Take a look at some of the damage below. 

loopjamaica Massive 6.8 earthquake rocks Trinidad and Tobago

 

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Aretha Franklin, ‘Queen of Soul’ who transformed American music, dies at 76

Reports say the music icon died from advanced pancreatic cancer in her Detroit home surrounded by family. Here’s a look at her iconic career that spans generations in music and American history. USA TODAY

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Aretha Franklin, whose impassioned, riveting voice made her a titan of American music, died of pancreatic cancer on Thursday, her niece Sabrina Owens confirmed. She was 76.

She died at 9:50 a.m. ET surrounded by family at her home in Detroit.

A family statement released by her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, said “Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Philip of Karmanos Cancer Institute” in Detroit.

The family added: “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family.”

Franklin was one of the transcendent cultural figures of the 20th century. Raised on an eclectic musical diet of gospel, R&B, classical and jazz, she blossomed out of her father’s Detroit church to become the most distinguished female black artist of all time, breaking boundaries while placing nearly 100 hits on Billboard’s R&B chart – 20 of them reaching No. 1.

The Queen of Soul, as she was crowned in the 1960s, leaves a sprawling legacy of classic songs that includes “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools,” “Baby I Love You,” “Angel,” “Think,” “Rock Steady,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Freeway of Love,” along with a best-selling gospel catalog.

Reaction: John Legend, Barbra Streisand and other celebs grieve 

Remember: Aretha Franklin’s greatest pop culture moments

Lenny Kravitz:Aretha ‘meant so much to me’

Her death follows several years of painstakingly concealed medical issues, which led to regular show cancellations and extended absences from the public eye.

In March, Franklin canceled two concerts scheduled in New Jersey. According to a statement from her management team, she was following doctors’ orders to stay off the road and rest for two months, and she was “extremely disappointed she cannot perform as she had expected and hoped to.”

Franklin’s last performance was on Nov. 2, for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York. The previous June, visibly feeble but still summoning magic, Franklin played her final hometown Detroit show, an emotion-packed concert for thousands at an outdoor festival downtown. 

She ended the performance with a then-cryptic appeal to her the crowd: “Please keep me in your prayers.”

The Queen of Soul sang for presidents and royalty, and befriended high-profile leaders such as the Revs. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson. Amid the global glitter and acclaim, she remained loyal to her adopted home, living in the Detroit area for decades, including the Bloomfield Hills house where she moved in the late ’80s.

“My roots are there. The church is there. My family is there,” she told the Detroit Free Press in 2011. “I like the camaraderie in Detroit, how we’ll rally behind something that’s really worthy and come to each other’s assistance.”

Franklin’s voice was a singular force, earning her a multitude of laurels through the decades, including 18 competitive Grammy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and honorary doctorates from a host of institutions. In 1987, she became the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and seven years later, at age 52, the youngest recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor.

Franklin topped Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list, and her signature hit, “Respect,” ranked No. 4 on “Songs of the Century,” a 1999 project by the National Endowment for the Arts. She performed at the inaugurations of U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, garnering global attention at the latter for her big fur hat with its crystal-studded bow – a piece now in the Smithsonian Institution.

Franklin’s influence is vast and indelible. It’s most obviously heard in the myriad voices that followed her, from Mary J. Blige to Adele, and even male singers such as Luther Vandross.

But just as important is Franklin’s broader social impact: She embodied American black culture, emphatically and without apology, and through sheer force of talent, thrust it onto the global stage.

Franklin revolutionized black music and the way it was absorbed and perceived, helping create a world where we take for granted that a Beyonce can reign atop mainstream popular culture.

Franklin was emotionally complex, a woman who relished her diva status but whose vulnerabilities and insecurities always seemed to lurk just beneath. Her public success masked a private life of turbulence and loss, making for an intriguing character driven by conflicting forces: Franklin was sassy but naturally shy, urbane but down-home, confident but reckless.

That deep, complicated humanity imbued her music with authenticity. Franklin’s singing, soaked in feeling and executed with virtuoso skill, moved seamlessly among styles: gospel, soul, pop, blues, R&B, jazz, even opera. She belted, purred, seduced, testified. Even as the propulsive power left her voice in later years, she remained as expressive as ever, and her live performances continued to earn critical acclaim.

“I must do what is real in me in all ways,” she told Ebony magazine in 1967, the year when a string of hit singles – “Respect,” “Baby I Love You,” “Chain of Fools” – gave Franklin her first major crossover success.

Aretha Franklin brought down the house at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. Her performance was as memorable for her hat as it was for her rendition of “My country ’tis of thee.” (Aug. 16) AP

Franklin’s early life

Born in Memphis on March 25, 1942, Franklin moved at age 4 to Detroit when her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, took over duties at New Bethel Baptist Church.

Turmoil set in early: Her mother left Detroit for Buffalo, New York, when Aretha was 6, and died four years later.

Still, Franklin grew up in an environment ideal for nurturing her skills. Her charismatic father was a preacher and singer with a national reputation, with sermons that became top-selling records and a gospel revue that toured the country. That brought important musical figures into the young singer’s orbit, including household guests such as James Cleveland, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King and Sam Cooke. Growing up on Detroit’s northwest side, she was a childhood friend of Smokey Robinson.

She became a singing prodigy at New Bethel, and her sisters, Carolyn and Erma, also honed their gospel skills. But it was Aretha who emerged as the standout, and by age 14 she was accompanying her father on his gospel travels.

 

Gospel was the main focus, but the Franklin household was teeming with all manner of music.

“I heard classical music from the beginning. It was always in our home,” Franklin told the Free Press in 2011. “As a teenager I took more to the R&B, but I always loved classical.”

R&B music, frowned upon by many in the traditional gospel world, was also welcome in the house. The Rev. Franklin, progressive in politics and disposition, put up little resistance to the secular sounds exemplified by artists such as Cooke.

The young Aretha absorbed the emotional power of music in its many forms, whether in the throes of an ecstatic congregation or the intimacy of close listening. 

“(My older sister) Erma was a big fan of ‘Be My Love’ by Mario Lanza,” she recalled. “How many times did we hear that in our house?! Sylvia Robinson, Smokey’s sister, used to visit Erma and play ‘Be My Love,’ pressing their ears against the speakers, just crying.

“I was quite young at the time, and I thought it was very funny that these girls were crying with their ears against the speaker. I didn’t do that with the artists I heard (then) – Frankie Lymon, the Clovers, LaVern Baker, Ray Charles. As an adult I began to perfectly understand it. When I heard someone knocking me out, I thought, ‘OK, so this is what that was about.’ ”

In 1960, at age 18, Franklin spurned a hometown offer from Berry Gordy’s fledgling Motown label and opted to sign with New York’s Columbia Records, where her demo tape had caught the ear of iconic talent scout John Hammond. A year later – shortly after Franklin married her manager, Ted White – her Columbia debut was released.

That record set the tone for her five-year, nine-album tenure at Columbia, where she was groomed as an interpreter of jazz and pop standards, presented as a chanteuse at the piano.

Franklin was quietly masterful at the keyboard. Throughout her career, it was a skill overshadowed by her voice – although she played piano on most of the work for which she’s now remembered.

The Columbia period proved fruitful but frustrating for the young singer, helping expand her talent while sticking a bridle on the gospel-honed voice behind it. Even as her critical reputation and live draw grew, she managed only a handful of minor hits.

“It’s a fast track to the top if you’ve really got it going on. But I like the way I came up in the industry,” she told the Free Press in 2014. “It wasn’t too fast. It wasn’t overnight, but (rather) little by little. And gradually I grew in the industry. I like that more than the overnight sensation, as one might put it. I was able to learn along the way and grow at a very, very nice pace. My pace, really. I wasn’t thrust into anything I wasn’t ready for.”

Real success blossomed in 1967, when the 24-year-old Franklin declined to renew her Columbia contract and signed with Atlantic Records, where executives Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler saw a chance to unleash the raw power of Franklin’s vocals. Her first Atlantic single – “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” – was cut at the burgeoning soul-music hotbed FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Within weeks it was Franklin’s first No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B chart, cracking the pop Top 10 as well. She was on her way to mainstream success.

As with so much of her coming work, the performance on “I Never Loved a Man” was fueled by a deep intensity but with an intimate, welcoming feel that helped Franklin connect with listeners across the board.

“She has never learned how to be pretentious enough to build a false image, and deeply identifies with people on all levels,” Ebony wrote that year, going on to quote Franklin:

“Everybody who’s living has problems and desires just as I do,” she told the magazine. “When the fellow on the corner has somethin’ botherin’ him, he feels the same way I do. When we cry, we all gonna cry tears, and when we laugh, we all have to smile.”

‘Respect’ and the ascension to fame

Franklin’s career quickly skyrocketed: With Wexler overseeing sessions and many of the Muscle Shoals players recruited to Atlantic’s New York studio, Franklin recorded a flurry of hits in the ensuing months, all of them enduring for decades as staples of her repertoire: “Respect,” “Baby I Love You,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools, “Ain’t No Way.” She was backed on many by sisters Carolyn and Erma, who enjoyed modest solo success of their own.

Franklin was no one’s puppet in the studio: Even in her earliest years, she was assertive during record sessions, crafting arrangements and dictating commands to seasoned musicians many decades her senior.

By ’68, Franklin was an iconic figure in the African-American community – “the Queen of Soul,” as she was christened by the black press. She was now inescapably important: Franklin’s status was seconded by mainstream America that summer when she graced the cover of Time magazine.

While Franklin was not often explicitly political in public, she embraced her anointed role just as the black-pride movement was flowering. “Respect,” in particular, took on anthem-like stature, hailed as a bold feminist and civil-rights statement – though Franklin long insisted she had no grand designs when she recorded the Otis Redding tune about household relationships.

On Feb. 16, 1968 – declared “Aretha Franklin Day” by Detroit Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh – she performed a celebratory hometown show for 12,000. In attendance was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., two months before his assassination, and he took the stage to present Franklin with an award on behalf of his Southern Christian Leadership Council.

As would become typical of Franklin’s story, the outward success masked drama behind the scenes. The marriage to White, in particular, had become fraught, marked by domestic violence. By 1969, they were divorced. She would go on to wed actor Glynn Turman in 1978, a marriage that lasted six years.

The hits continued to pile up. By the end of the 1960s she had placed 28 songs in the R&B Top 40, a mix of original material and eclectic cover songs, including work by the Beatles (“Eleanor Rigby”) and the Band (“The Weight”). The momentum carried into the following decade, with a string of hit records and a 1972 gospel album, “Amazing Grace,” that became one of the genre’s all-time best sellers.

Success on the R&B side continued in the ’70s even as the pop hits tapered off, though 1976’s “Sparkle” soundtrack produced one of Franklin’s abiding crossover classics, the Curtis Mayfield-penned “Something He Can Feel.” A scene-stealing appearance in the 1980 comedy “The Blues Brothers,” where Franklin performed as a waitress belting out “Think,” was a colorful introduction for a younger generation.

 

That same year, searching for a new musical direction, Franklin signed with Arista Records, where mogul Clive Davis helped groom a fresh career path for the singer, now approaching 40.

After several tries, the 1985 album “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” became the mainstream smash they sought, producing the hit “Freeway of Love” and placing Franklin in front of the MTV audience. A duet with George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” topped the global charts two years later.

Franklin, who had spent much of the 1970s in Los Angeles, was now permanently resettled in metro Detroit, with several area properties including the Bloomfield Hills residence that would remain her primary home for the next three decades. Her father had died in 1984 after a five-year coma; he’d been shot during an attempted robbery at his Detroit home.

The 1990s saw Franklin growing into the role of elder soul stateswoman, satisfied with her status as one of pop history’s greats and playing up the diva role that had become an integral facet of her persona. While the studio pace slowed – she released just five albums from 1998 through her death – her latter-day music was generally well received, with Grammy nominations for “A Rose Is Still a Rose” (1998) and “So Damn Happy” (2003).

“I’m comfortable in my own skin, and my six-inch heels,” she told the Free Press in 2011.

Though Franklin still performed regularly in the ’90s and ’00s, her touring work was hampered by her fear of flying, which set in after a frightening small-plane trip in the early ’80s. She insisted on bus travel, trekking across the U.S. to play for adoring crowds at theaters and summer amphitheaters.

“I’ve definitely evolved to a greater maturity onstage, a savoir faire, I think,” she told the Free Press. “It’s just about relaxing more, really, and having fun with it. That comes with time, to evolve to that level and find that it’s really very simple … that it’s really about having fun and communicating with your audience.”

Franklin was long dogged by weight issues and struggled with alcohol abuse in the late 1960s. But the first glaring sign of health problems came in 2010, when she canceled six months of concert commitments while hospitalized for undisclosed reasons.

She re-emerged the next summer visibly slimmer and seemingly healthy, returning with a glowing show at the Chicago Theatre: “Six months after the world was braced for the worst, Aretha Franklin gave it her best,” as the Free Press reported at the time.

“Her voice was velvety and potent as she rolled into her set, still finding new curves and corners in the notes of songs such as ‘Think,’ ‘Sparkle’ and ‘Baby I Love You,’ ” read the review.

Nevertheless, Franklin’s concert activity became hit-and-miss during her final years, and show cancellations became par for the course, often chalked up to unnamed health problems. She increasingly spoke of winding things down, performing fewer shows by the year, and in February 2017 finally raised the prospect of retirement, saying she was recording a final album.

Two missions loomed large during the final decade of Franklin’s life, and both were still in the works when she died: She was in ongoing talks to produce a film about her life, frequently talking up potential lead actresses such as Jennifer Hudson, Halle Berry and Audra McDonald. And she was enchanted by the idea of opening a soul-food restaurant in downtown Detroit.

Reclusive by nature, Franklin liked being at home and enjoying “the small things,” as she said in 2011 – polishing the silver, buying a tea set, washing and ironing. She was a reader drawn to biographies and an avid media consumer who looked forward to her daily newspapers.

“I enjoy the comfort of home very much,” she said. “I’m very domestic when I’m at home. I can stay in the house for the longest kind of time and not get out.”

From Obama to Pavarotti, always grand

It was always BIG with Aretha Franklin. The public situations skewed to the larger-than-life, the supersize, the majestic. She was an immense presence, physically and psychologically, and could take over rooms simply by sweeping into them.

She had a knack for finding herself at the center of grand moments, whether stealing the show at the Obama inaugural or filling in for the ailing Luciano Pavarotti with an impromptu “Nessun Dorma” at the 1998 Grammys.

 

“She could get a U.S. president on the phone with two calls,” said Brian Pastoria, who co-engineered some of Franklin’s studio work.

Indeed, it was the little stuff that seemed to vex Franklin most. She struggled with personal finances, and was frequently forced into small-claims court by mom-and-pop operations around metro Detroit – limo services, caterers, contractors. Her home was often cluttered and unkempt, and while experts on creative genius might say that comes with the territory, it was enough to frustrate neighbors and leave visitors puzzled why she had so little help around her.

For years Franklin talked about plans to tackle her flying phobia, but never followed through. It kept her grounded for the final 35 years of her life, plausibly costing her millions in touring revenue.

Franklin was scrupulously private; her personal life was shielded by a tight cadre of family members and friends. When writer Mark Bego set out to pen the first authorized Aretha Franklin biography, 1989’s “The Queen of Soul,” he was struck by the array of unknowns that still surrounded her – basic details about her two marriages and divorces, her upbringing, even her musical inspirations.

“I felt as if I had just encountered one of the great unsolved mysteries of the show-business world,” he wrote.

Franklin cautiously traipsed into some of those topics with her 1999 autobiography, “Aretha: From These Roots.” But she remained elusive enough that her handpicked co-author, David Ritz, was compelled to write his own uninhibited Franklin biography 15 years later.

That book provoked the singer’s wrath – the sort of eruption familiar to those in Aretha’s world. Franklin continually churned through support staff, hiring and firing lawyers, publicists and producers. She feuded with other female singers and knew how to hold a grudge, including a beef with Dionne Warwick that became public only when Franklin alerted the press out of the blue – five years after it happened.

But when it came to the music, few were more disciplined than Franklin. She was serious about her voice and exacting about her concert conditions: big on honey and hot tea before a show and insistent on rooms without air conditioning, aware it could dry out her throat.

Many who worked closely with her also glimpsed the humanity at the heart of the superstar singer who came up in the church.

“She (was) very compassionate,” the late Darryl Houston said in 2010. Houston was Franklin’s accompanying pianist for more than two decades. “When I was dealing with the sickness and eventual death of my father in Mississippi, she was very encouraging in thought and deed. I remember a few times I would get a call from a travel agent saying: ‘When do you want to go see your dad? Ms. Franklin has taken care of the ticket.’ ” 

Brian Pastoria was part of a studio team that worked with Franklin in the 1990s and 2000s, including recording sessions at her home.

“Before the vocal sessions, she’d be in the kitchen making chili. After recording a couple of hours, she’d say, ‘OK, time to eat!’ ” Pastoria recalled. “Even though she was the greatest of all time, the Muhammad Ali of vocals, it was still always her calling on the phone for business, not her lawyer. You’d hear, ‘Hi, honey, how are you!’ It was nice. It was real. You never felt like you were dealing with a major superstar.”

For all the public gowns, glitz and diva references – she was famously portrayed in a Snickers commercial as a crabby prima donna – Franklin was a homegirl at heart. She was a connoisseur of old-school Southern soul food, proud of her knack with homemade dishes like fried chicken and ham with black-eyed peas.

“I think I rank with the best when it comes to the stove,” she told the Free Press in 1996.

That sort of organic realness coursed through her work.

“She paints a picture with a song,” said Houston. “Outside of being vocally astute, you can feel what she’s singing. You can tell when someone is just singing a song, and when the song is a part of their inner being. With Aretha, what leaves the heart reaches the heart.”

 

“It seems she never, ever forgot those roots of the church, and she really believed that we need to look above the things of this world, to a more spiritual level,” said social activist Rocky Twyman. “You felt like she wanted to bless humanity with her music.”

Franklin made her final hometown appearance in Detroit on June 10, 2017, headlining the Detroit Music Weekend festival for thousands gathered in the streets. Down the block two days earlier, tears had streamed down her face as she was honored by the city with the unveiling of Aretha Franklin Way.

For nearly two hours on the festival stage that weekend, she performed a spirited, feisty set while clearly struggling through pain, at one point singing from a plush chair.

Franklin did it her way that night, foregoing many of her biggest hits for a deeper dive into her catalog and a stirring, 11-minute gospel workout of “Precious Memories.”

The old, soaring power may have been missing, but the passion was intact. For one last time in front of her hometown community, there was Aretha Franklin, and there was that voice. 

That voice – still captivating, but now comforting in its decades-long familiarity. A sound still melding urban vitality with the warmth of Southern soul. Still joy, pain, ecstasy, liberation. Still strength and femininity. And still offering, as it always will, the promise of transcendence.

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UK Minister of Defense Mark Lancaster visits

By Bennette Roach

Mark Lancaster

Whether it was by design or coincidence, the Hon Mark Lancaster UK Minister of Defence paid a visit to Montserrat, seven weeks after Lord Tariq Ahmad, FCO Minister made a visit in time to launch the Police – Heliconia Star vessel into operation. The visit came at the official start of the hurricane season.

This visit just after on July 26, 2018, by Minister Lancaster, the first by a Defence Minister reportedly in over 30 years, coincided with the presence of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Mounts Bay which arrived in the Little Bay port early the day before.

The British minister for the armed forces said on Thursday afternoon nearing the end, said that his inaugural visit to Montserrat has given him a better feel for what the island needs to respond to any eventuality.

He spent Thursday on island on a familiarization visit meeting with key security military disaster management and government officials. His visit covered several areas to include the abandoned capital Plymouth and a reef laying event at the Cenotaph in Little bay.

RFA Mounts Bay hurricane support demonstration

Speaking with reporters Thursday afternoon at the end of his program, following a demonstration at the Montserrat’s Port Authority involving crew and equipment from RFA Mounts Bay which would be mobilized to assist Montserrat should the need arise, the U.K Minister for the armed forces said his visit underlines the longstanding and close working relationship Her Majesty’s government shares with Montserrat.

He added that his visit demonstrated and offered reassurance to Montserrat, echoing Captain Peter Selby, who sat in on the press conference with him, Hon David Osborne acting Premier and H E Governor Pearce, that there should or that should there were to be any emerging situation that Britain was there to help.

“We’ve seen that the sort of capability that is on offer which would be able to be provided within those 12 hours the ability to get on the island very much to clear the port and the airport in order to enable further relief,” the Minister said.

He said further. “This is not the only stop on my trip I started in Barbados where I focused very much on the regional support.”

He continued to announce if not reiterate, plans of wider scale for the region especially the OTs.

“Of course the United Kingdom would be to here to support the island in the immediate aftermath of any hurricane but equally I am pleased the U.K. has worked very closely with our regional allies and indeed international allies by helping to fund the new multinational Caribbean crisis center which would enable us to coordinate with other nations, so even if the initial response from RFA Mounts Bay were not to be enough to support the Island, we are confident that within a very short space of time wider international support will also be available,” he said, concluding so hopefully today’s demonstration has shown a reassured Island is a sort of support that is an offer.

Directly and specifically to Montserrat, he reported in part: “I think there’s a number of ongoing projects – I think we are aware of some of the issues that Hurricanes bring which is why I know and I discussed at lunch with the cabinet about a number of work programs which we would be looking at – projects I know for example there are other projects in the pipeline at the moment – here down in the port is just one example but also from a wider regional perspective…”

He addressed the resilience matter. “So, there’s a number of things here one is the immediate aftermath of the hurricane both regionally and locally but also trying to look forward into the future about how we can prepare the infrastructure here on the island to be that bit more resilient than it is at the moment.”

Later in the evening the Minister was the guest of honour and took part in the handing out of awards to some deserving RFA men.

There were two separate awards. Three to the soldiers who received notification that day that they had been promoted from Lance Corporal to Corporal, and the remainder were commendations to some officers including the chef, for their hard work onboard.

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Another key Govt officer Exits

By Bennette Roach

Dr. Jocelyn Clarke-Fletcher

Will Human Resource Officer Dr. Clarke-Fletcher claim constructive dismissal?

The ZJB 6.00p.m. news that same day reported, having obviously received the Deputy Governor’s memo and a release which did not reach TMR until June 27, combining the two: “…Mrs. Cheverlyn Williams Kirnon replaces Dr. Jocelyn Clarke-Fletcher with whom the government of Montserrat severed its employment relationship on Wednesday Dr. Clarke-Fletcher…”

The report noted the absence of any reason from the Deputy Governor’s Office, but noted from the release, “…the Deputy Governor did not give reasons for Dr. Clarke-Fletcher’s termination except to extend thanks to her for services to the government of Montserrat for just over a year and wished her well in her future endeavors.”

The report stated that Dr. Clarke-Fletcher was contacted and who referred to someone who has provided a bunch of lies against her, “intimating that wherever she worked before throughout the region and beyond prior to coming to Montserrat, she had an unimpeachable record. Dr. Clark-Fletcher said because of her strong Christian beliefs, she would leave the whole matter, until she says, when the time is right she will return peacefully to her native Saint Lucia.”.

Immediately following this report, very firm sources confirmed that the suggestion the Government had terminated Dr. Clarke-Fletcher although so intimated, her relationship with Government ended by mutual agreement; upon the realisation that her relationship has become untenable.

Dr. Clarke-Fletcher who came to her post seemingly overqualified had been employed by the Montserrat Government for just about nine months and not “…just over one year,” as the report stated. Dr. Fletcher was emphatic that although it was with grave difficulty as the records will show she had been nothing but professional in carrying out her functions.

Sources informed that attempts were made to treat Dr. Clarke-Fletcher similarly to the way the PMO Mr. Gomersal was treated when his services were terminated, whereby he also was reportedly ‘frogged march’ from his post.

That the Deputy Governor speaking for government gave the initial impression that the HRO lady was fired as hit the road and the airwaves, the government may find itself having to defend a case of unfair dismissal.

The official release following the initial memo which spoke of the ‘severance’ stated: “Mrs Williams-Kirnon, will replace Dr. Jocelyn Clarke-Fletcher whose employment relationship with the Government of Montserrat came to an end effective Wednesday, June 20th, 2018,” and

“The Honourable Deputy Governor, Lyndell Simpson would like to thank Dr Fletcher for her services to the Government of Montserrat for just over a year and wish her well in her future endeavours.”

When it was noted to the Premier that the releases referred to ‘the government’ severing relations with HRMU boss, he not surprisingly denied anything to do with the matter involving very key officers, and that he was made aware of the situation like others. He, however, admitted that the situation was in some respects dissimilar to that of the PMO, but he had nothing to do with the ‘dismissals’.

We have since learnt that the government lost another key officer the Head of Procurement, Taraq Bashir is no longer in its employ under questionable circumstances.

The questions keep surfacing as the confused TC discourse continues, “can the Montserrat Government afford the constant loss of key officers? In whose interest, and at what cost?

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