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CNN: WH Ordered Trump Admin Officials to Boycott WHCA Dinner

CNN: WH Ordered Trump Admin Officials to Boycott WHCA Dinner

CNN: WH Ordered Trump Admin Officials to Boycott WHCA Dinner

By Theodore Bunker    |   Tuesday, 23 April 2019

The White House has ordered officials in the Trump Administration to boycott the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, CNN reports.

The dinner usually acts as a chance for journalists and the people they report on can meet and mingle. News outlets pay for tables and extend invitations to members of the administration, legislators, government officials and the odd celebrity. Typically, a comedian is hiring as the featured speaker for the event, but the WHCA opted to invite author Ron Chernow this year instead.

White House Cabinet Secretary Bill McGinley reportedly issued the order Tuesday morning, after President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that he will skip this year’s dinner with members of the press, as he did last year and the one before.

“The dinner is so boring and so negative that we’re going to hold a very positive rally” in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Trump told reporters.

The president has repeatedly decried the news media as the “enemy of the people,” since entering office.

Olivier Knox, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, told CNN when asked about the boycott: “We’re looking forward to an enjoyable evening of celebrating the First Amendment and great journalists past, present and future.”Related Stories:

Read Newsmax: CNN: WH Ordered Trump Admin Officials to Boycott WHCA Dinner | Newsmax.com
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A view of St. Sebastian's Church, damaged in a blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday (Chamila Karunarathne - AP)

Sri Lanka blames local Islamist extremist group for Easter bombings that killed 290

(Adapted)

By Joanna Slater , Amantha Perera and Shibani Mahtani April 22

Explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killed 290 people and injured more than 500 Sunday. This is what we know so far:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/world/this-is-a-very-cowardly-attack-sri-lanka-blasts-leave-hundreds-dead-on-easter-sunday/2019/04/21/eaecd2dc-9c42-482f-9e09-e3ea06a3372a_video.html

● Government says attack carried out by National Thowheed Jamaath, a local Islamist militant group, with suspected international assistance.

● Churches were attacked by suicide bombers as worshipers gathered for Easter services.

● Prime minister says elements of government had prior intelligence of attacks.

● At least a dozen of the dead were foreigners, including from India, Japan, the United States and Britain.

● The Sri Lankan air force said it defused an explosive near Colombo’s main airport.


‘This is a very cowardly attack’: Sri Lanka blasts leave hundreds dead on Easter Sunday

Coordinated explosions targeting churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killed more than 200 people and injured more than 450 on April 21. (Drea Cornejo, JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka on Monday accused a local Islamist extremist group, the National Thowheed Jamaath, of being behind a string of Easter bombings against churches and hotels that killed at least 290 people.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the group, which roughly translates as National Monotheism Organization, perpetrated the attack using suicide bombers against three churches and three hotels, adding that it likely had international links.

“We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,” he said. “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”

He also called for the police inspector general, Pujith Jayasundara, to resign because security agencies had received a report warning of attacks by this group against churches and hotels weeks before.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena said he would seek “international assistance” in the investigations into the serial blasts. Intelligence agencies have reported that “international organizations” were behind these “acts of local terrorists,” said a statement from his office. The statement also said that the government would implement anti-terrorism measures that give additional powers to police, effective at midnight.

Attention is now focusing on why and how the government and security forces were unable to foil the coordinated bombings. Two officials provided The Post with the three-page intelligence report that the health minister alluded to, in which a senior police official warned of potential suicide attacks by the same Islamist extremist group.

Sri Lankan security forces officers secure a site believed to be a hideout of the militants following a shootout in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday. (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

The report also identified several members by name, including its alleged leader, Mohamed Zaharan. Mujibur Rahman, a member of Sri Lanka’s Parliament who was briefed on the report, said it was based on input from Indian intelligence agencies.

The highly coordinated attacks left the island nation reeling, a crushing blow after almost a decade of peace since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war. 

In that time, tourism in Sri Lanka had been steadily growing, the country transformed by the apparent end of instability, bloodshed and frequent suicide bombings over the 26-year war. 

A huge number of the dead were worshipers at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, north of Colombo; officials reported at least 104 dead there. A church in Batticaloa on the island’s eastern shore was also attacked.

In Colombo, the three high-end hotels attacked included the Shangri-La and the Cinnamon Grand hotel. An official at the Sri Lankan air force said an explosive was defused close to the city’s main airport, the Bandaranaike International Airport, on Sunday night, probably an additional target. 

At the Shangri-La Hotel, the blast occurred in a restaurant as guests were having breakfast. Investigators who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press said that two suspects had checked into a room at the hotel earlier in the morning and gave local addresses to hotel staff.

A curfew has been imposed from 8 p.m. Monday night until 4 a.m. the next morning.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told reporters Sunday that some government officials had prior intelligence about the attacks but did not act on it.

“Information was there,” he said at a news conference. “This is a matter we need to look into.”

[Sri Lanka timeline: How eight explosions wrought devastation on Easter Sunday]

The security apparatus in Sri Lanka is controlled by the president, Maithripala Sirisena. Relations between him and the prime minister have been at a low point since Sirisena tried to oust Wickremesinghe from office late last year, launching a political crisis. 

Rahman, the member of Parliament briefed on the report, is affiliated with country transformed minister and said Wickremesinghe “had the letter in his hand” when he met with lawmakers Sunday, referring to the notice. 

“He told us that the Indian intelligence had conveyed threats of possible attacks. Two possible dates were mentioned, April 4 and 11,” Rahman said. “Part of the problem is since the October 26 coup, the prime minister has not been invited to the security council meetings, so we don’t know what is being discussed,” he added.

Police arrested 13 people in connection with the bombings, and three police officers were killed during a raid at a suspect’s house. 

Images of splintered pews and bloodstained floors played across local television screens Sunday as the enormity of the attacks, launched on the holiest day of the Christian calendar, became clear.

From the altar of St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo, the Rev. Joy country transformed out at worshipers packed into pews and standing along walls for Easter Sunday.

Nearly halfway through the Mass, as the congregation stood to recite prayers, he heard an enormous blast and saw what he described as a fireball.

The explosion was so powerful that it blew off much of church’s roof, sending debris raining down on the people below.

As the smoke cleared, he saw a terrifying scene: scores of wounded and dead, crying out in pain and fear. At first, Mariyaratnam was motionless with panic. “I was thinking, ‘How could such a thing happen in a place of worship?’” he said. “We are still in shock.”

Delicia Fernando, 52, was sitting toward the front of St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo with her son and two daughters. Her husband Ravi preferred to stand at the back of the church. Her first impulse after the explosion was to run, but then she and her children turned back to look for Ravi. They found him crushed under debris from the roof, his body pierced with shrapnel.

Sitting in the living room of her parents’ home near the church, she said she had never experienced anything like this violence, not even at the height of the country’s civil war.

A view of St. Sebastian’s Church, damaged in a blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday. (Chamila Karunarathne/AP)

Though a majority of the dead were Sri Lankan, at least a dozen were foreigners including people from India, Japan, Britain, the United States and Turkey. The unidentified bodies of 25 people believed to be foreigners were at a government mortuary in Colombo.

The dead included “several” Americans, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. He blamed “radical terrorists” for the attacks. 

Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist nation, but it is also home to significant Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities. While there has been intermittent conflict between religious groups — including threats to Christians — nothing remotely like Sunday’s attacks had occurred.

Blasts ripped through three churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa at approximately 8:45 a.m. Sunday as worshipers were gathering for services, police said. 

Ruwan Wijewardene, the state defense minister, said the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. Six of the attacks occurred between 8:45 and 9:30 a.m.

There was a seventh blast at a banquet hall about 2 p.m. and an eighth at the house raided by police around 2:45 p.m.

The deadliest attack was at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, known as “little Rome” for its Catholic presence. Also targeted was St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, the largest Catholic congregation in Colombo, and Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa.

Two people at the Shangri-La Hotel described a powerful explosion that made the ground shake just before 9 a.m. Photos showed broken windows and shattered glass on a street next to the hotel.

Sarita Marlou, a guest at the hotel, wrote on Facebook that she felt the impact of the explosion in the hotel’s flagship restaurant all the way up on the 17th floor. She described seeing pools of blood as she evacuated the hotel.

Also targeted were the ground-floor Taprobane restaurant at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel and the luxury Kingsbury Hotel.

[Sri Lankan government blocks social media and imposes curfew following deadly blasts]

Three police officers were killed in a clash at a home in the Dematagoda area of Colombo, police said. They had gone there to interrogate an individual.

Pompeo condemned the attacks “in the strongest terms.”

“Attacks on innocent people gathering in a place of worship or enjoying a holiday meal are affronts to the universal values and freedoms that we hold dear, and demonstrate yet again the brutal nature of radical terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten peace and security,” he said in a statement.

A victim’s relative mourns at the police mortuary in Colombo. (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)

In an updated travel advisory issued late Sunday, the State Department warned that “terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Sri Lanka,” citing threats to tourist sites, shopping malls, hotels, places of worship and other public areas.

Sri Lankan authorities blocked Facebook and the messaging application WhatsApp in an attempt to halt the spread of false and inflammatory messages. Security was heightened at churches across the country, and the streets of Colombo grew quiet and deserted as the curfew took effect.

Wickremesinghe, the prime minister, condemned “the cowardly attacks on our people today” and urged the country to remain “united and strong.”

The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist activity online, reported Sunday that Islamic State supporters were portraying the attacks as revenge for strikes on mosques and Muslims.

Yousef A. al-Othaimeen, head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, “strongly condemned” the “cowardly attacks [on] innocent worshipers and civilians.” The OIC represents 57 predominantly Muslim nations.

People in Sri Lanka expressed a sense of disbelief at the eruption of violence. Biraj Patnaik, South Asia director for the human rights group Amnesty International, said Sri Lanka has witnessed rising hostility toward Christians and Muslims in recent years, including repeated attempts to disrupt prayers at churches. But the scale of Sunday’s attacks, he said, was “shocking and unprecedented.”

The bombings were the worst violence to hit Colombo since 1996, when a blast at the country’s central bank killed nearly 100 people. That attack was carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, which waged a war for a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka’s north for more than 30 years.

Messages of condolence and condemnation on Sunday poured in from around the world.

Pope Francis during his Easter address called the attacks “horrendous” and expressed a “heartfelt closeness to the Christian community, attacked while gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such a cruel act of violence.”

“I entrust to the Lord all who so tragically died, and I pray for the wounded and all those who suffer because of this traumatic event,” Francis said.

Mahtani reported from Hong Kong. Rukshana Rizwie in Colombo, Niha Masih in New Delhi and Chico Harlan in Rome contributed to this report.

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Gerald elucidates on Redhead

Gerald elucidates on Redhead

Adapted from Radio Montserrat

A local social commentator continued to give a different view following the officially led public celebration of the life of the recently deceased Justice Albert Readhead, who was afforded a ceremonial burial in Antigua and followed up by being further honoured in Montserrat.

Justice Redhead, a long-standing jurist, who has served with the sub-region including Montserrat for over thirty-five years, died in Antigua in March after a period of illness. Claude Gerald, a keen follower of the workings of the law, told ZJBNews that when one becomes a Judge, one has to be prepared, to make social sacrifices.

“You cannot be fraternizing with Tom, Dick and Harry, because you will lose credibility, and you will compromise the judiciary. A judge does not have buddies or partners, except perhaps for his colleagues and maybe his family. Because judgeship is a very hallowed undertaking. So, it’s not about being popular and being in the center of the red of the egg. A judge becomes a hermit and a recluse once he accepts judgeship.

“I want to argue here, that it’s only in that light, that a judge can have the moral courage to do what the law says and make interpretations that are wholesome and to advance the law. That is what is essential.”

Mr. Redhead was given an official funeral by the government of Antigua, which was popularly broadcasted in the region. The government of Monserrat and the local bar joined also. But, Mr. Gerald says that despite all the words spoken at his death, “no one has uttered a word as to just how his Redhead’s actions helped to grow the law.

“How his decisions have made the law stronger. No one spoke of his integrity and his moral courage. It’s all empty talk about how he was a nice man, how he was my friend and how we got along very well,” he said.

“And, let me tell you this,” he concluded, “in our culture, when a man becomes the friend of an official, that official is expected to do the friends bidding. Justice Albert Redhead lived controversially, and died similarly because of his approach of matters before him.”

Justice Redhead was born in Grenada and studied in London, but, after returning to Grenada, moved on and worked in St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Montserrat for over 30 years. He first served in Montserrat in 1985.

Claude Gerald is a social commentator on Montserrat. Ceegee15@hotmail.com.

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09Howard Fergus FB

Notre Dame

Howard Fergus

An unholy fire frolicked
through notre dame in Paris
in Holy Week last night swallowing
at a few gulps what was in building
for near two hundred years;
this soul and harbinger
of gothic art and architecture
whose spire still pointed proudly up to heaven
after philistine world wars
and years of human hurricanes, suddenly
collapsed losing much of its innards;
flames stained the glass and darkened windows
and the light dimmed sadly over France.

Paris and the world stand aghast
at what seems now just a ghost
of this universal icon of art of several ages;
sad, that it was not insured full proof
against ruination; its fancy wood,
provided welcome fuel for the fire.

The call for funs to build again this monument
to medieval genius, resonates loudly across
the coffers of the world even though
some treasures are forever lost.
Holy men are gathering relics
or what is left of them
like the blood-stained crown of thorns
which they say mocked Jesus Christ,
and consummated our salvation.

An unholy fire rampaged
through notre dame in Holy Week,
destroying sacred things with tears,
and mourning in the street;
in Montserrat the third geothermal well
ended up in smoke in Holy Week.

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Mueller, wearing a baseball cap and looking pensive, is pictured behind the driver

In search for the ‘real’ truth, and ‘nothing’ but the truth!


The Slatest

Hope May Be for Dummies, but I Still Hope the Mueller Report Solves Russiagate’s Original Mystery

By Ben Mathis-Lilley April 16, 2019

Mueller, wearing a baseball cap and looking pensive, is pictured behind the driver's side window of a car.
Robert Mueller arrives at his office in D.C. on March 21. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Let’s travel back to the distant, foggy past to think about what the Russia-Trump story was all about in 2016 and early 2017. Before James Comey got fired, before Robert Mueller was even a twinkle in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s bewitching hazel-green eyes. Before the obstruction question, before offshoots like the Michael Cohen campaign finance case and Trump Tower Moscow and the inaugural fund. At that point, the public knew two things: one, that Russia had likely orchestrated a hacking and propaganda campaign against Hillary Clinton, and two, that Donald Trump’s advisers had made squirrelly efforts, both during the Republican National Convention and the presidential transition period, to advance Russia-friendly positions regarding economic sanctions and the war in Ukraine.

And, to badly paraphrase David Mamet, if there’s a quid and there’s a quo, there is probably a pro. Had Trump been trying to do favors for Russia’s ruling oligarch-gangsters to reward them for sabotaging his opponent? And did they sabotage his opponent because they knew he’d in turn make it easier to launder money into the U.S. by eliminating sanctions against them?

That possibility became the central mystery of Mueller’s investigation into “collusion”: In Rosenstein’s words, the special counsel was tasked with investigating “links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.” And when Attorney General William Barr released his March letter summarizing Mueller’s conclusions, he quoted the special counsel as having written that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” But Barr didn’t explain how that conclusion had been arrived at, and given that Mueller’s report is defined by a law as a summary of “prosecution and declination” decisions, the most long-gestating question it might be able to resolve when it’s (partially) released on Thursday is why the special counsel decided that a number of publicly known links between Russia and the Trump campaign did not constitute a chargeable conspiracy. Those include:

• The June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower in New York City between Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and several Russian government–connected individuals who brought up the subject of Magnitsky Act sanctions.

• The Trump campaign’s elimination of a line in the Republican National Convention platform that called for the U.S. to provide weapons to anti-Russian forces in Ukraine.

• Then–Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s Aug. 2, 2016, meeting in New York City with Konstantin Kilimnik, an individual who the special counsel’s office says is believed to have “a relationship with Russian intelligence,” at which Manafort gave Kilimnik campaign polling data and discussed a potential resolution to the war in Ukraine. (Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict was another reason the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russia.)

• Incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Dec. 29, 2016, phone call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak—which Flynn later lied about to federal investigators in an apparent attempt to keep them from finding out that he and Kislyak had discussed sanctions.

On June 14, 2016, just after the Trump Tower meeting, the Washington Post revealed that Russian government hackers were believed to have illegally accessed the Democratic National Committee’s servers . Which is to say that Trump and his advisers knew from mid-June 2016 onward that Russia was 1) seeking sanctions-related policy changes and 2) possibly attempting to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The Trump crew nonetheless continued to communicate with Russia-connected individuals about sanctions, and you could conceivably argue that those conversations amounted to implicit participation in Russia’s illegal election-sabotage plan.

Thanks to Barr’s letter, though, we know that either 1) Mueller decided that no such conspiracy could be proven in court or that 2) Barr used carefully hedged language to make it seem like that’s what Mueller concluded. And, to the extent that any single document could possibly resolve our modern information war or allow us even the smallest moment of satisfaction and closure, the (partial) version of Mueller’s report that’s being released Thursday will ideally explain which of those things happened, and what Mueller himself actually thinks about Russiagate’s original animating question.

Also interesting:

What’s Been Saved and What’s Been Lost in the Notre Dame Fire Donald Trump’s Ilhan Omar Tweet Might Be the Worst Tweet in History What Happened While We Were Waiting for the Mueller Report Why Nancy Pelosi Is So Comfortable Dismissing the Influence of AOC and Her Fellow Lefties

The Seven Things to Look for When Reading the Redacted Mueller Report

By Richard L. Hasen April 15, 2019

Donald Trump Jr.
Why wasn’t Donald Trump Jr. charged? Above, Trump Jr. in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on March 28. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Attorney General William Barr has indicated that a redacted version of the Mueller report is likely to be sent to Congress this week and made public. It could come any day now, though a Good Friday release, coinciding with the beginning of Passover, would be the news dump to end all news dumps. (Update, April 15, 2019, at 12:10 p.m.: On Monday, the Department of Justice announced that it expected to release the report on Thursday morning.)

Whenever the report comes, how will we know what to look for? From Barr’s summary released a few weeks ago, we expect the report to focus on both the question of possible “collusion” between Russian agents and Americans as well as whether the president obstructed justice in seeking to prevent a full and fair investigation of possible collusion.

Passover begins with asking four questions, and in that spirit, I begin with four questions about possible collusion that I have been anticipating since the Barr summary that I hope we will be able to answer once we get to dig into the report itself.

On collusion:

1. To what extent did Americans assist or cooperate with Russians or other foreign agents in hacking Democratic National Committee emails, in trying to break into American voter registration databases, or in efforts to spread “dirt” on President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election opponent, Hillary Clinton? We know from earlier government reports that Russian agents did all three of these things, but we do not know whether any Americans were involved or might have known at the time of the interference. Barr’s summary of Robert Mueller’s report, meanwhile, stated that Mueller’s investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Did members—or affiliates—of the campaign, though, coordinate with any Russian cutouts, such as Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks?

2. Were any of the people involved in this collusion investigation somehow connected to the Trump campaign or the Trump family? Alternatively, to what extent were campaign or family members duped by foreign agents? The Barr summary is very careful to say that there was no finding in Mueller’s report of “coordination,” which it defined in a particular legal way as an “agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference.” As Ben Steinberg suggests, there’s plenty of room for cooperation short of this legal standard that could be described in the report. For example, Mueller might believe that winks and nods suggested both sides were cooperating but doing so in a subtle enough way to prevent prosecutors from proving an illegal conspiracy.

3. How successful were the hacks into American voter registration databases and other election-connected computers? We have seen conflicting reports of the extent of Russian success in these endeavors, but the details have not been confirmed in an official government report. More importantly, what can be done to prevent such hacking efforts again?

4. If Americans cooperated with Russians in procuring or spreading opposition research, why did Mueller not charge any Americans with any crime in this area? As I explained in an earlier Slate piece, we must learn why Mueller declined to prosecute former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort or Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. for apparently violating laws prohibiting the solicitation of foreign contributions to American campaigns, based on those campaign surrogates’ June 2016 meeting with Russian agents at Trump Tower. As I wrote, “How Mueller answered this question could have profound ramifications for what federal law enforcement will do to stop foreign involvement in the upcoming 2020 elections.”

Does Mueller point to new specific evidence Congress might consider in pursuing possible impeachment charges against Trump based upon obstruction?

I have two additional—and similarly important—questions on how Mueller judged the issue of potential presidential obstruction of justice:

1. Does Mueller’s report use any language suggesting that a reasonable prosecutor acting in her discretion could have charged Trump with obstruction but for Department of Justice policy against indicting a sitting president? We know Mueller refused to make the call on whether Trump obstructed justice, but we do not know why he made that decision and whether it had to do with the strength of the evidence. All we know is that Mueller’s report says, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” and Barr took the subsequent step of exonerating his boss.

2. Does Mueller point to new specific evidence Congress might consider in pursuing possible impeachment charges against Trump based upon obstruction? If Mueller left the issue for Congress, does he do so laying out clear not previously public evidence for possible impeachment, or is there not much more than a judgment call about whether Trump’s publicly known actions rise to the level of impeachable offenses?

Finally, there is a remaining question that encompasses the entire probe and how it was ultimately dealt with:

To what extent does it look like Barr is trying to protect Trump and Trump’s family, such as Donald Trump Jr.? Despite his expected redactions, has Barr made it possible to evaluate Mueller’s reasoning or the evidence collected?

This is a key question. Already Barr has given Trump a great gift by releasing a summary that has allowed Trump to claim his “exoneration” for weeks without anyone being able to raise a counterargument based on the actual evidence collected and analyzed by Mueller. We all are waiting to see if the redaction leaves a credible report, or more reason to be suspicious of Barr and a longer list of questions. We should at least know the answer to this question in a matter of days.

What Happened While We Were Waiting for the Mueller Report

The focus on the report has distracted us from the reality in plain sight.

By Dahlia Lithwick April 15,

Donald Trump with his eyes lowered.
Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Friday. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, Donald Trump allegedly instructed Kevin McAleenan, the border enforcement official he was about to tap as the new head of the Department of Homeland Security, to close the Southwestern border to migrants. This directive came with the promise that Trump would pardon McAleenan if there was legal fallout from that action. The comments, which CNN characterized as a possible joke, alarmed DHS officials, though the White House later denied that the statements were made. But we are waiting to hear Robert Mueller’s assessment about whether Donald Trump has obstructed justice.

Last week, Donald Trump said, “I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing.” And yet, throughout the end of the 2016 campaign, he praised the operation as something he “loved,” despite having been warned not to trust information coming from an entity that was known to be willfully assisting attempts to steal the U.S. election. But we are waiting to hear from Robert Mueller about whether Donald Trump has “colluded” with foreign powers in the 2016 election.

Last week, we learned Donald Trump’s sister Judge Maryanne Trump Barry apparently left her seat on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, thus permanently ending a judicial ethics investigation into whether she was involved in a massive tax evasion scheme reported last year by the New York Times. A complaint seeking to determine whether the scheme was a tax dodge—from which both Barry and Donald Trump benefited—was filed last October. (There is a statute of limitations on the tax evasion claims, but there is no statute of limitations on judicial wrongdoing.) On Feb. 1, the courts indicated that the complaint was “receiving the full attention” of investigators. Ten days later, Barry filed her paperwork to step down. The investigation dies with that action. But we are waiting to hear Robert Mueller’s conclusions on whether the president has misbehaved. There is no crime called collusion.

There has never been a crime called collusion.

Last week, as professor David Rothkopf ably summarized here, Attorney General William Barr testified that he was able to be the arbiter of whether the president obstructed justice, which is actually not the case. He also reversed a long-standing Department of Justice policy to defend statutes because the president told him to. The treasury secretary has refused to abide by a law that on its face demands that the president’s tax returns be turned over to the House Ways and Means Committee, again at the president’s request. In other words, in many departments, we are seeing Trump appointees willing to put the president above the law. We saw a mass purge at the Department of Homeland Security ostensibly because no senior officials are willing to break the law hard enough and fast enough to mollify the president. We heard the president invoke the word treason explicitly to describe his critics. But we are waiting for William Barr to summarize for us whether Robert Mueller concluded that the president has violated the law.

Last week, it was also rumored that the president had threatened to send undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities to punish political opponents. The White House initially indicated that the proposal was not seriously considered, until the president said it was still being considered, and by Sunday, it was back in play. On Friday, the president tweeted a video incorrectly suggesting that Muslim American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar doesn’t think 9/11 was a big deal, the contents of which were so offensive that Fox News would only play 5 seconds of it. On Sunday night, it was reported that the threats against her life had increased to the point that she needed additional security. Still, we are waiting for the Mueller report to help us determine whether the president is fit for office.

There is no crime called collusion. There has never been a crime called collusion, but that is the crime from which Donald Trump—never having seen the Mueller report—says he has received “complete and total exoneration.” Very few people have actually seen the Mueller report, but we do know that there was no explicit finding by Mueller on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice. And yet, when it comes to that very question, much of what we saw happen before our very eyes—Trump’s treatment of James Comey, his complaints about Jeff Sessions, multiple efforts to stymie the investigations—could certainly be understood to be elements of obstruction of justice. So acute is the sense of national shock and trauma at Trump’s open and flagrant misconduct that we are waiting patiently for a Mueller report to confirm that we have all been seeing what we’ve all been seeing for the past two years. We are standing next to a burning building and waiting for Robert Mueller to let us know if he smells smoke.

We have allowed Donald Trump’s narrow legal aperture to define the scope of wrongdoing for the rest of us.

Senate Republicans, bearing witness to all this, are extremely upset with … the president’s choices for the Fed. Beyond that, they will tolerate quite literally anything, including multiple agencies without Senate-confirmed Cabinet officials and agency heads. High-level collaborators will write memos to the file and count on history to exculpate them for doing their best in the face of an out-of-control autocrat. No matter what facts Mueller assembles, they will discredit it as the lawless work of deep state spies.

Robert Mueller was not charged with saving America from Donald Trump. Robert Mueller was not asked to define the scope of his own mandate in order to fit the precise contours of Donald Trump’s misdeeds. The persistent and perilous belief that whatever it is Robert Mueller has unearthed in secret is more relevant or compelling than what Donald Trump does openly every single day has produced a national myopia that has everyone so obsessed with the fruits of the Tree of Collusion and the Tree of Obstruction that we may have missed the forest altogether. We don’t get to outsource all the crime fighting and unfitness determinations to Robert Mueller and Adam Schiff. This is not the sharing economy; they aren’t Uber.

We have allowed Donald Trump’s narrow legal aperture—which allows only the noncrime of collusion to be the issue—to define the scope of wrongdoing for the rest of us. We have allowed the president to determine and define what we should consider illegal and improper and unfit, and we have allowed the confines of Mueller’s directive to define what we can hold Trump accountable for. But we should know what is wrong.

The issue before us is not just whether Barr eventually lets us know whether Mueller ultimately determined that the president unlawfully conspired with Russian agents to sway the 2016 election, or whether he attempted to obstruct inquiries into related investigations. The issue before us is (or at least, includes): whether Donald Trump has dangled pardons to obtain illegal outcomes, removed officials for their refusal to break the law, rewarded or pardoned others for breaking the law, threatened judges for legal conclusions they have made, violated campaign finance laws, violated tax laws, punished and threatened the free press, incited violence against Muslims, misused his charitable foundation, incited violence against political opponents, violated the Emoluments Clause, directed others to make illegal campaign payments, declined to seek redress for the brutal murder of a journalist by a foreign power, forced family separations at the border, attempted to change the asylum law at the border, banned trans service members, attempted to revoke Dreamers’ status, had conflicts of interest with Russia and other oligarchs worldwide, persistently lied about his conflicts of interest during the campaign and thereafter, used his twitter feed to incite retributive acts against critics … this list could go on and on. And on.

There will be a public reckoning about what the Mueller report contains and who can see it, possibly as soon as this Thursday, when the redacted version will be released. We can wait for that and have it, but we also need to acknowledge that it is not a substitute for a systematic public reckoning about everything else. Being so stunned by what’s happening every day that you put all hope in what someone else might uncover tomorrow is a rational way to cope in a time of numbing disintegration of government, rules, and trust. But it’s not enough. It’s not a substitute. It’s barely even a start.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Elections, International, Local, News, Politics0 Comments

SPCCU logo

St. Patrick’s Cooperative Credit Union Ltd. host Regional Credit Union Movement Board of Directors Meeting

On Friday, April 12, 2019, the St Patrick’s Cooperative Credit Union Ltd – Montserrat (SPCCU) plays host to the regional Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions Ltd. (CCCU) Board of Directors Meeting. This is the first time in the history of the SPCCU that such a meeting is been hosted in Montserrat.

The Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions is the regional Apex body for credit unions whose mission is to facilitate the advancement of the Caribbean Co-operative Sector through sustained growth and development, protecting the movement’s philosophy and values and ensuring safe, sound and efficient co-operative service providers.

The CCCU Board of Directors meeting in Montserrat comes on the heels of the SPCCU/ Montserrat hosting the prestigious regional credit union movement, Sir Everard Dean Annual Lecturer series in October 2018, another first for the SPCCU/ Montserrat.

The meeting of the CCCU Board of Directors will entertain issues affecting the regional credit union movement such as compliance, governance and regulatory matters. The meeting is also of great significant since it represents the last formal gathering of the CCCU Board of Directors prior to the CCCU hosting the upcoming World Credit Union Conference during the period July 28-31, 2019 in the Bahamas.

SPCCU General Manager, Mr. Peter Queeley notes that SPCCU hosting of such a meeting is a testimony to growth and significance of the SPCCU/ Montserrat in the regional credit union movement. He further noted that the hosting of the meeting also represents a recognition by the regional credit union movement that the SPCCU/ Montserrat has become of age and is ready to play its part and hold its own in terms of the regional credit union movement.

The CCCU Board Meeting in Monserrat comes on the heels of the most recent meeting of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Monetary Council Meeting held on February 15, 2019. At that meeting, the ECCB noted that twelve financial institutions were identified as systematically important institutions three of which were banks and nine were credit unions.  The ECCB noted that “while commercial banks continued to dominate the financial sector, credit unions were expanding, becoming an increasingly important source of credit to the private sector through increases in membership, assets, loans and deposits. The boom in credit union activity has implications for financial inclusion and the financial stability framework.”

The SPCCU/ Montserrat is a member of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions and the OECS Credit Union Forum.

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

crif

CCRIF to provide US$220,000 to Young Caribbean Nationals in Support of Disaster Risk Management

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, April 8, 2019. CCRIF SPC is pleased to announce that for a fifth year in a row it will provide funding of over US$220,000 to Caribbean nationals in support of scholarships and internships. This initiative is aimed at building a cadre of persons who can effectively provide support for comprehensive disaster risk management (DRM) and climate change adaptation in the region.  

The initiative is part of CCRIF’s Technical Assistance (TA) Programme which was launched in 2010. This programme has three main components – scholarships and professional development; support for local disaster risk management initiatives undertaken by non-governmental organizations; and regional knowledge building, which involves the development of MOUs with regional organizations towards implementation of strategic regional projects in support of DRM and climate change adaptation. Since the inception of the programme in 2010, CCRIF has invested over US$3 million. CCRIF operates as a not-for-profit organization and the resources made available for the TA Programme are derived from earned investment income.

With respect to scholarships, over the period 2010-2018, CCRIF has awarded 24 postgraduate and 29 undergraduate scholarships totalling US$445,250 to students from 8 countries for study at The University of the West Indies and US$545,561 to 16 students from 8 countries in the region for study in the USA and UK.

In 2019, through the CCRIF-UWI Scholarship Programme, CCRIF will provide scholarships to postgraduate and undergraduate students who are pursuing study at The University in areas related to disaster management at all three of its residential campuses (Mona, Jamaica; Cave Hill, Barbados and St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago). Eligible programmes of study include Geography/Geology, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Meteorology, Insurance and Risk Management, Natural Resource Management, Land Management and Building and Construction Management. The undergraduate scholarships are awarded to students enrolled in a qualifying BSc or BA programme to cover their second and third (final) years of study. The value of each postgraduate scholarship is US$11,000 and each undergraduate scholarship US$8,000 (US$4,000 per year for the two years). The deadline for 2019 applications is June 2 2019. For further details:

http://www.ccrif.org/content/programmes/ccrif-uwi-scholarship

CCRIF also will provide up to four scholarships this year for study in master’s programmes in areas related to disaster risk management at universities in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada as well as at local universities (other than UWI) in Caribbean countries. Eligible areas of study under the CCRIF Scholarship Programme include: Catastrophe/Disaster Risk Management; Property/Casualty Insurance; Meteorology; other hazard/disaster-related disciplines and MBAs with a major in Risk Management and/or Insurance or a related field. Scholarships are valued up to a maximum of US$40,000 (for extra-regional universities) or US$20,000 (for Caribbean institutions) and are awarded to applicants who demonstrate academic excellence, are involved in, or work in the field of risk/disaster management or sustainable development in the Caribbean and have a record of broader community involvement. The deadline for 2019 applications is June 2 2019. For further details:

http://www.ccrif.org/content/scholarship

CCRIF’s flagship professional development programme is its Regional Internship Programme, which was launched in 2015. It is designed to provide opportunities for students who have specialized in the areas of disaster risk management, environmental management, actuarial science, geography, climate studies and other similar areas to be assigned to national and regional organizations where their educational experience can be enhanced through practical work assignments. In this initiative, CCRIF is partnering with a range of organizations who act as host organizations. These include national disaster management and meteorology agencies as well as: the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA); Caribbean Development Bank (CDB); Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS); Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC); CARICOM Secretariat; Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) and various departments of the campuses of the University of the West Indies (UWI), among others. Since 2015, CCRIF has placed 85 interns in 27 host organizations with an investment of almost US$270,000.

The programme is open to citizens of CARICOM and/or CCRIF Caribbean member countries who are graduates of a recognized university. The interns should have completed a course of study in any one of the following key areas: disaster risk management, environmental management, meteorology, climate studies, civil engineering, management studies with a focus on risk management, environmental economics, geography, geology, civil engineering, risk management and actuarial science. The deadline for 2019 applications is June 2 2019. For further details:

http://www.ccrif.org/content/regional-internship-programme

CCRIF is the world’s first multi-country risk pool in the world, providing parametric insurance for tropical cyclones, earthquakes and excess rainfall to 19 Caribbean governments and 2 Central American governments. To date, CCRIF has made payouts totalling US$139 million to 13 member governments – all made within 14 days of the event. Data from member countries show that over 2.5 million persons in the Caribbean have benefitted from these payouts.

Through its insurance products and Technical Assistance Programme, CCRIF is committed to supporting Caribbean countries towards reducing vulnerabilities and building resilience within the context of advancing sustainable prosperity of the small island and coastal states of the region.

About CCRIF SPC: CCRIF SPC is a segregated portfolio company, owned, operated and registered in the Caribbean. It limits the financial impact of catastrophic hurricanes, earthquakes and excess rainfall events to Caribbean and – since 2015 – Central American governments by quickly providing short-term liquidity when a parametric insurance policy is triggered. It is the world’s first regional fund utilising parametric insurance, giving member governments the unique opportunity to purchase earthquake, hurricane and excess rainfall catastrophe coverage with lowest-possible pricing. CCRIF was developed under the technical leadership of the World Bank and with a grant from the Government of Japan. It was capitalized through contributions to a Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) by the Government of Canada, the European Union, the World Bank, the governments of the UK and France, the Caribbean Development Bank and the governments of Ireland and Bermuda, as well as through membership fees paid by participating governments. In 2014, an MDTF was established by the World Bank to support the development of CCRIF SPC’s new products for current and potential members, and facilitate the entry for Central American countries and additional Caribbean countries. The MDTF currently channels funds from various donors, including: Canada, through Global Affairs Canada; the United States, through the Department of the Treasury; the European Union, through the European Commission, Germany, through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and KfW, and Ireland. In 2017, the Caribbean Development Bank, with resources provided by Mexico, approved a grant to CCRIF SPC to provide enhanced insurance coverage to the Bank’s Borrowing Member Countries.

For more information about CCRIF:

Website: www.ccrif.org | Email: pr@ccrif.org |  Follow @ccrif_pr |  CCRIF SPC

#ccrif #scholarships #internships #technicalassistance #universities #uwi #students #postgraduate #undergraduate #disasterriskmanagement #drm #caribbean #climatechange

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Climate/Weather, Education, News, Youth0 Comments

NGolden-Author-Photo

Nerissa Golden Named Acting Director of the Montserrat Arts Council


Nerissa Golden

LITTLE BAY, Montserrat – Author and Business Coach Nerissa Golden has been appointed to act as Director of the Montserrat Arts Council (MAC) until a substantive head is found.

The acting director along with member of the MAC Board Reinford “Kulcha Don” Gibbons attended the Regional Cultural Committee meeting in Trinidad last week to be updated on the plans for hosting CARIFESTA and other issues related to the development of cultural industries.

Golden, who sat on the board of directors for two years, resigned in order to take up the current position. She will oversee internal restructuring of operations, as well as prepare for Montserrat’s representation at the CARIFESTA XIV in Trinidad & Tobago this August.

Golden is a former Director of Information & Communications for the Government of Montserrat. She is the author of eight books and has managed the Discover Montserrat media platforms for the past four years.

One of her priorities, will be to support the establishment of new governance structures as mandated by the board and the development of a revised cultural policy for the island which aligns with local and regional focus to build the creative sector.

Former director Chadd Cumberbatch ended his secondment to the council from government at the end of March. Chairman of the MAC Board Albrun Semper said they were grateful for Mr. Cumberbatch’s contribution to building culture and wished him success in his future endeavours.

The council recently closed its call for applications for two senior roles, Director of the MAC and the Head of Planning & Production on Friday, March 29.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Education, Entertainment, Fashion, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

Jus Wonderin...

Jus Wonderin…

Jus wonderin why de magistrate charge $2500 forthwith for some individual and why de Custum Officers jus search out the gel dem panties who come here for St. Patricks festival.

Jus wonderin if these things should no stap and wonder what the Premier goin do bout it and if dey not going decriminalise de marijuana and free up the people  dem.

Jus wonderin when de people in Davy Hill for de spanikin house dem a go get dem key.

Jus wonderin if Gregory is a follower or a leader.

Jus wonderin if dem nar do discipline de honourable doc.

Jus wonderin if de honorable opposition was there when dey outsource the cleaning services and now a pretend he don’t know nothing. I callin on him to stap fool de people dem and buy vote carze Montserrat people dem no foolish.

 Jus wonderin why de hon minista o agriculture and he acting PS demolish de nursery at Brades and move it to where Sankofa was above Public Works.

Jus why de premier and de FS late wid de budget for three years in a row, if dem no need fu come to d people and explain why three years in a row de budget late.

Jus wonderin why de PDM govment so incompetent and also de opposition members also so incompetent.

Jus wonderin if disunity carze dat fu de P D M and de others dem jus ignorunt o stupid.

Jus wonderin why Montserrat people dem no come together and save this country f deterioration.

Jus wonderin if nobady a go say anything bout de Customs offica dem behavia tumbling out de gei dem underwear and brazier dem and spreading dem out in front o everybady.

Jus really wonder if dat a true and why we hear bout marijuana and no bady hear bout de people dem rites and de marginalisation. 

Jus wonderin if dat will continue when Kristmus come.

Jus wonderin wha a happen bout de new hospital if awe a go get wan u not.

Jus wonderin if a new Attorney General appointed yet.

Jus wonderin if now awe get a PMO if the rest of the Premier’s important office is staffed.

Jus wonderin if Saga Gregory mi a fire shots at de FS who really ha the responsibility fu de budget preparation.

Jus wonderin whu much trouble de siam FS carse Montserrat and if he an de Career Govna who appoint him an give him big bonus.

Jus wonderin if dem shudn’t do im de same lek de PMO but definitely fu carse.

Posted in Entertainment, Joke Corner, Jus Wonderin, Local, News, OECS, Police, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Workmen look at the clockface on the Queen Elizabeth Tower, commonly referred to as Big Ben on April 2, 2019 in London, England.

Today in Brexit: Give Us Just a Little More Time—Seriously, Please?

The Slatest

By Elliot Hannon – April 05, 2019 The Slatest

Workmen look at the clockface on the Queen Elizabeth Tower, commonly referred to as Big Ben on April 2, 2019 in London, England.
Workmen look at the clockface on the Queen Elizabeth Tower, commonly referred to as Big Ben on April 2, 2019 in London, England. Animation by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Today in Brexit is a daily feature that will attempt to keep track of the chaotic mess playing out in the U.K. If you’re just tuning in, here’s a brief explainer on what you’ve been missing. 

Welcome to Brexit purgatory, which on Friday started to look like it might last even longer than previously thought possible. With the U.K. set to depart the EU in exactly one week and no agreement in Parliament on what the relationship between the two should look like after the breakup, Prime Minister Theresa May formally requested from Brussels another extension to the Brexit deadline, proposing a new drop dead date of June 30.

Today in Desperation: Will Brussels agree to the 11-week extension for the U.K. to try again to reach consensus on a deal? It looks increasingly like not. The British prime minister requested the very same June 30 extension the first time around, and the EU shot it down, opting for a shorter reprieve. It appears likely to say no again, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be an extension of some kind. European Council President Donald Tusk is pushing a full-year extension! He’s pitching it as a “flextension,” meaning that the U.K. would have the full year to come to some sort of decision but could pull out earlier if it got its act together. In this scenario, the U.K. is a harried student begging a teacher (the EU) for one more day after pulling an all-nighter to finish an essay—and failing. And the teacher, after taking a look at the state of the paper, replies: “How about you take a week. Trust me, you’ll need it.”

Today’s Emergency: What now? EU and U.K. leaders are scheduled to meet for an emergency summit Wednesday that will almost certainly revolve around the terms of an extension, rather than the nature of Britain’s exit. It is not a certainty, however, that the EU will grant an extension at all. There are rumblings from within the European member states, the loudest coming from France, that granting another extension won’t do anything other than kick the can down the road—yet again. It’s a hard argument to counter considering the lethargic pace of the Brexit negotiations until a deadline focused the mind. Those deadlines haven’t yet produced any new results, but they have sufficiently motivated British parliamentarians to engage on the issue.

Today’s Reminder This Is Still a Negosh: It’s important to remember that Brexit is a negotiation, and rumblings from France, for instance, could be a “bad cop” routine, serving as a stick to keep the U.K. moving. The European Union’s line has generally been that it would like the U.K. to stay as closely aligned with the bloc as possible, and as the deadline nears, British parliamentarians have been drifting toward a more centrist compromise that would see the country more closely aligned than even under May’s negotiated withdrawal. Would the EU want to halt this momentum just to prove a point about deadlines? Seems unlikely.

The brinkmanship of sticking to the current April 12 deadline or bust, without the ability to grant some sort of extension, might help keep British leaders on task. But it also makes very real the as possible the U.K. would be unable to come to an internal agreement about its future relationship with the EU and would leave the bloc with no deal at all. A no-deal Brexit, which would see the country revert to WTO trade rules, is favored by a sizable and vocal portion of the right wing of British politics. This non-negotiated style of Brexit, however, is seen as carrying substantial economic risks, as it would essentially rip the U.K. economy from the European economy in one week’s time, requiring new customs arrangements, trade deals, and on and on. The operating assumption is that the EU will do what it takes to avoid that scenario, even grant an extension that perhaps wasn’t exactly earned.

Today’s Lame Duck: Complicating matters on Friday’s extension request is the fact that European parliamentary elections are set to be held on May 23. That puts the U.K. in the potentially awkward position of going to the polls to elect representatives to a government they don’t plan participating in, long-term. May has assured Brussels the country will go through the steps to hold the election, a move that has laid the groundwork for a longer extension. From the EU’s point of view, having lame duck British MEPs isn’t all that appealing for the obvious reason that they may have different long- and short-term interests on matters before the European Parliament. This may seem like a far-fetched threat of internal sabotage by British MEPs should Brexit negotiations stretch on through another session of parliament in Europe, but it’s one that right-wing pro-Brexit MP Jacob Rees-Mogg made explicitly on Friday.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Elections, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Scriptures, UK - Brexit0 Comments

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