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De Ole Dawg – Part 14: 2017: Economic Transformation

Why an economic growth strategy?

BRADES, Montserrat, June 11, 2017 – Mr Raja Kadri, Montserrat’s new Chief Economist, has championed an “Economic Growth Strategy.”[1] In his June 9th Budget Speech, Hon Premier Romeo actually set as theme: “Moving Montserrat forward towards Self-Sustainability and Inclusive Economic Growth,” which clearly implies that Mr Kadri’s growth strategy approach is now a key policy commitment. So, we need to understand what such a “growth strategy” is.

In explaining what a growth strategy is, Mr Kadri used the example of Canada, with a US$ 1 trillion economy, which formerly did not have such a strategy. However, once the oil price level began to fall back towards US$50 per barrel, it worked on a long- term- plan that would identify the key areas that can drive Canada’s economy forward towards sustained growth and transformation.

Such a long-term-plan must rise above the politics of any given day, as it must arise from a national consensus.  That means it must be evidence- based, must reflect sound economics principles and must be tied to a clear, accurate, sober, balanced view of the circumstances, challenges and opportunities we face. Mr Kadri then argued that such a plan will be vital for approaching potential investors, as it will give them a framework to work with and will show our credibility as investment partners.

It seems reasonable to conclude that he is right and we do need such a plan, one that builds on other plans we have done and opens up a long-term growth path for our economy.  For sure, that would go a long way towards anchoring the business cases for the key “catalytic” projects we need to set in motion over the next year or two, to lay a foundation for the long term growth. The Economic Growth Strategy (EGS) to be developed must therefore reflect a carefully developed national consensus about where and how Montserrat can find resources, strategies and skills that create high productivity economic sectors.

Obviously, Tourism and Geothermal Energy development are chief candidates, but there are many other possibilities to be explored. To maintain support of the people over the long haul, the EGS must feed manifestly successful long term improvement in the well-being of our people (requiring improved employment, education, housing, health and welfare provisions), while bearing in mind the need to husband our natural resources and the environment.  This instantly means that such a plan needs to reflect broad-based stakeholder participation, environmental facts, trends and concerns and must address questions of long-term sustainability. In short, the Economic Growth Strategy should reflect the approach and insights in our Sustainable Development Plan, and it should be closely tied to the creation of the next SDP, which is due from 2020 on.

The EGS must also be far more than a paper plan, it needs to set a basis for reaching out to and consulting with a critical mass of local and international investors so that the strategy will be actually put to work on the ground. If there are no investment partners involved, it simply will not work, and potential partners must be credible and committed to carrying forward viable investment projects that will develop key sectors of our economy. That is where private sector led growth will have to come from.

The first of these partners is DfID, and let us again remind ourselves about what they put on record in their 2012 MDC Business Case:

  1. “develop a tourism-driven capital town . . . as the principal location for new foreign direct investment, tourism, housing and civic facilities”;
  2. “improve physical access to Montserrat through the development of a port and breakwater . . .” ;
  • “improve and sustain access through investments in air and sea access assets”

Given the challenges to the local private sector and the lack of good access and key infrastructure, they also cautioned, “[i]nitial and catalytic investments are . . . required by the public sector and these need to be properly designed and implemented.” The economic growth plan will therefore need to prioritise these “catalytic” investments, and they should be so configured as to enhance the likelihood of attracting major investment partners, especially for tourism.  The best way to do that would be to develop the plan in cooperation with a set of interested, credible investors. In turn, that requires that the plan’s developers should include people in close touch with such networks.

Let’s remember, too, that other fairly obvious areas can be seen from the 2012 consultancy’s list:

  • Tourism
  • LB/CB development
  • Spa and wellness tourism
  • Educational tourism
  • Renewable energy (geothermal)
  • Mining and light manufacturing
  • Agro-processing
  • Fishing
  • IT-enabled services

In order to move into these areas, we need to build capacity for the long term. This again points to education, health and appropriate welfare that creates the sort of workforce we need for the economy we plan to (or, perhaps, “must”) have down the road. 

For instance, if we fail to effectively address the digital productivity challenge, we will be locked out of the already emerging global digital economy. We won’t even be able to repair our own vehicles, as something like a car already typically has in it dozens of microcontrollers in an industrial computer network.

Likewise, we must maintain a stable, just, peaceful, well governed community with minimal corruption, or no-one will wish to visit, live, study, work or invest here. That requires people who can lead such a society in the face of an ever more challenging and chaotic world. And yes, that’s a plug for our regional universities, colleges and seminaries, including faculties and departments of education, arts, law, history, government, theology, philosophy and more, not just science, technology, engineering, computing, mathematics, medicine, economics, finance, business and management.  Where, that capacity-building investment in education has to be in place years ahead of when the needs become obvious. In short, our region’s no. 1 most overlooked natural resource is right between our ears. Brain-power. It’s time to get that right.

Clearly, it’s time to set aside overly harsh dismissive rhetoric so we can come together to envision and plan a good future. As we do so, let us work with Mr Kadri et al, on building a solid Economic Growth Strategy. END

[1]           Raja Khadri May 4th interview with ZJB, at Radio Echo, from about 13:40: https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/thursday-may-4-2017-herman-sargeant-interviews-raja-kadri-montserrats-new-chief-government-economist/

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LIATT

LIAT pilots apologise for inconvenience, outline new agreement

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Jun 13, CMC – The President of the Leeward Island Airline Pilots Association (LIAPLA), Captain Carl Burke, has apologised to the travelling public in the Caribbean after pilots refused to fly the ATR72 aircraft operated by the regional carrier, LIAT, over salary increases.

“Well first of all, with the most recent situation which took place last week, I want to apologize to any persons that were inconvenienced and I want to give them all reassurance that the pilots normally, usually exhaust all means of negotiations with LIAT….,” Burke told WINN FM radio station here.

LIATTHe told radio listeners the LIAPLA had brought in an attorney to assist it with the negotiations and that “there was a deal that was brokered in the Attorney General Labour Minister’s office on the 24th of May and we thought that would have put the matter of negotiations to bed.

“Unfortunately the company did not follow through, or wrote us on the second of June indicating that they could not meet to some of the terms and conditions which were agreed to, but in general before any action is considered we always try to exhaust all means of negotiations that are arriving at….

“We just don’t take action like that and in this case the pilots had no alternative than to stop flying the ATR 72, I think that they could be viewed as being reasonable that they were negotiating a rate of pay for an aircraft that is not covered under your contract for four years, I think four years is a long time,” Burke said.

According to LIAT, it operates 10 ATR aircraft with the ATR72 capable of carrying 68 passengers, “by refusing to fly the ATR72 on the morning of June 7th, several aircraft and passengers were delayed at points of departure, including Trinidad, St Vincent, Tortola and Guyana”.

The airline which denied reports that it had ‘abandoned its pilots, said that “in this situation, the company’s priority remains to transport our loyal and paying passengers”.

Burke said that under the new the agreement that ended the three-day industrial action, “the pilots will start receiving the wage package or the new ATR salary from July 19th 2017”.

He said the retroactive payments will be in three tranches paid from August.

“So I guess August, September, October, and then there’s a gap and then there’s another schedule which will commence I think December for six payments. This was an agreement that was reached, it was formalized by way of a consent order which was filed in the Industrial Court on Saturday,” he said, adding “this has basically brought a close to the negotiations with LIAT as it pertains to wage packages with the pilots”.

Ask by his radio host as to whether the agreement will work given that the airline and its pilots have had a series of disputes over the years linked to pay and work conditions,’ Burke told listeners he was confident it would succeed.

“Well it should because as I said it is now a legal obligation on the part of the company, the mere fact that it is filed in the Industrial Court, any breach of the agreement, any party will be charged with contempt of court, we are hoping that everything stays on schedule, that we can have this matter behind us and we can move forward.”

LIAT’s main shareholders are the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Efforts to get other regional governments to become shareholders have so far proven futile.

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Cocaine found inside back seat cushion of wheelchair

Arriving passenger from St Lucia arrested at JFK after cocaine found hidden in wheelchair

CaribbeanNewsNow
June 14, 2017  
NEW YORK, USA — US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) on June 11 stopped Yoncela Stanley, a United States citizen, who was arriving on a flight from Saint Lucia.

Cocaine found inside back seat cushion of wheelchair

During the course of the inspection, CBP officers noticed that the back seat cushion of her wheelchair appeared unusual. The back seat cushion was removed and felt unusually heavy. CBP officers probed the cushion producing a white powder that tested positive for cocaine.

Stanley was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.

The total weight of cocaine seized was approximately 27 lbs, with an estimated street value of $468,000.

“This latest seizure demonstrates the vigilance of our CBP officers, and their excellence in detecting those who would try to smuggle these illegal substances,” said Leon Hayward, acting director, field operations New York.

Stanley now faces federal narcotics smuggling charges and will be prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office in the US Eastern District Court of New York.

All defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty.

 

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De Ole Dawg – Budget Special: Is 2-month late budget worth the wait?

De Ole Dawg – Budget Special: Is 2-month late budget worth the wait?

BRADES, Montserrat, June 10, 2017 – On Friday June 9, Premier and Finance Minister the Hon. Donaldson Romeo presented the Montserrat annual budget, which has been delayed since March 23, two-and-a-half months ago.

Such an exceptional delay had to be explained, and the Premier spoke of:  “[t]he UK referendum and the vote to leave the European Union . . .  UK [Cabinet] Cabinet Re-shuffle [After Prime Minister Cameron’s resignation on losing the Brexit vote] . . . [and the] drop in the value of the Pound,” concluding: “the new DfID Minister, we are told, chose to review the budgets of the two Overseas Territories [Montserrat and St Helena . . .] that receive [annual] financial aid.” (Actually, there is a third, Pitcairn, but that territory has about fifty people living there.)

Montserrat then faced further delays due to the UK snap election that just cost EIGHT UK Ministers their seats. It also cost Hon. UK Prime Minister May her majority.  DFID Ministers Hon Priti Patel and Hon Rory Stewart were returned, but one of their colleagues is among the eight the UK’s voters sent home.

The budget highlights in Premier Romeo’s speech will help us understand where we stand:

“FIRST, Our Recurrent Budget: For 2017/18, the recurrent budget estimate is One hundred and twenty-eight million, three hundred and eighty thousand, three hundred dollars ($128,380,300).  This sum is a 0.97 percent increase over 2016-17 . . .  Support from DFID will contribute $78 million, 61% . . . .

SECOND- SECTOR PLANS; . . .  a new tourism policy and Tourism development Plan, an Energy Policy and  Action  Plan  and  an Agricultural Strategy . . . developing an Economic Growth  plan . . . .

THIRD, the Capital programme: For 2017/18, the capital programme estimate is $31.14

million. This is based on approximately 56% funding from DFID, 37% from the EU and

7.15% from other funding partners.

FOURTH, Main projects:  Major projects in our capital programme  include:  Media Exchange ($1.03 million) for the completion of the ZJB Building, Roads & Bridges ($1.2 million) under the Montserrat Priority Infrastructure Needs Project, ICT ($0.95 million),  Energy  ($2.68  million)  and  Geothermal  Exploration  ($0.63  million).  Under the Montserrat Priority Infrastructure Needs Project . . . nearly $5 million . . . .

FIFTH, Expediting Projects:  . . .  longstanding problem of delays in projects will  be  minimized  by  implementing  a  Programme Management  Office  (PMO) . . . .

SIXTH, Port Development: As we all know, access is perhaps our single biggest

challenge to growth. I am happy to announce, therefore, that through the UK

Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF), and Caribbean Development

Bank (CDB), Montserrat has a top-level allocation of GBP£14.4 million or USD$20.3

million towards phase 1 of the Little Bay Port Development initiative . . . .

SEVENTH, four other “catalytic” projects . . . to help us move to self-sustaining sound growth and development . . . geothermal energy development; hospital developments; access connectivity; and human resources/public sector reform phase 3.”

In addition, it is intended to “expand access to home ownership for qualified low to middle income residents through public/private partnerships to include [the] HOME programme, Serviced  residential  lots, Divestments of Land and Housing and new Direct Builds.” Where, “seven critical emergency houses are to be constructed in the new fiscal year 2017/18.” Also, “Cabinet has recently approved granting exemption from Import Duty and Consumption Tax for three (3) years on all building materials imported specifically to repair or build any structure located in those villages of Cork Hill, Delvin’s, Foxes Bay, Weekes’s and Richmond Hill from the 1st of July.” And, of course, there was a modest pay raise of three percent for civil servants, with an extra up to ten percent for those at the bottom of the scale.

The first-phase sea port development is a major point of hope. For, this is a major step forward on access. Then, if the new PMO and other reforms help to build our project cycle management capacity and move the port and the other “catalytic” projects forward, that would be a breakthrough. Other projects will help us to keep money flowing in the economy until the key benefits of the big-ticket projects begin to flow.  It is especially heartening to see the seven emergency houses finally moving forward.

However, a sobering hint was sounded when the Premier spoke of how our annual aid grants come from a serious sacrifice by ordinary people in the UK. Many government budgets there have had 30% cuts, and officers have had to go home. A further cut of 6% is on the table, intended to save “£3.5bn by 2020.” Premier Romeo therefore pledged: “thank you, we understand how precious, how costly that gift is, and today we pledge that we will strive to make the very best use of it, to restore our volcano-ravaged island.”

Another sobering point lies hidden in the modest scale of pay raises.   For, while it is true that – based on the UN Charter, Article 73 –  there is a legally binding commitment by the UK to support sound development in Montserrat, what we receive is coming from sacrifice. Sacrifice, in a context where the voters in the UK are clearly increasingly restive.  So, something like a large across-the-board pay rise will only be justifiable from our own resources, rooted in sustained, organic, private sector led inclusive growth in a revitalised economy. 

Likewise, given cases like the troubled £285 million airport project in St Helena (and concerns about the “failure[s]” of our own MDC from 2007 – 2014), business cases and implementation for our hoped-for breakthrough projects will have to be absolutely solid. We simply cannot afford further “wasted aid” scandals. Indeed, that is a clear implication of the DfID Ministers taking time to personally go over our budget point by point before it was approved.

So, while there are indeed signs of hope and points of good news in the 2017/18 budget, we stand under a sobering warning.

END

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Project ccle

De Ole Dawg – Part 13: 2017-PRINCE2 and Moving Towards an Economy Transformation Programme

Why all of this fuss about PMO, PRINCE2 and creating an economy transformation programme based on “catalytic” projects?

BRADES, Montserrat, Jun 11, 2017 – In his June 9th 2017 Budget Speech, Premier Romeo said that, “[w]e took radical steps to ensure that the longstanding problem of delays in projects will be minimized by implementing a Programme Management Office  (PMO) . . . .  This will improve our value for money business cases, project and programme governance, transparency, and risk management. Such measures will help us improve our ability to effectively implement a sound development programme and put an end to underspending, and project over-runs. ”In short the PMO and its PRINCE2-based standards for project and programme management are pivotal to the growth and transformation programme that is now beginning with the UKCIF and EU-funded first phase port development project.

 Such a programme, likely, will take ten to twenty years to truly transform Montserrat’s economy; given the example of what happened between the 1960’s and 1980’s. This estimate is supported by the Independent Commission on Aid Impact’s [ICAI] recommendations in its June 2015 Report, on DFID’s approach to delivering impact[1]:

 “In difficult environments, DFID may need to set more modest objectives and plan its results over a 15 to 20-year period.  Its country strategies should give more attention to long-term pathways out of fragility and how to get the right balance of risk and return across the portfolio.  Conversely, when DFID is working in environments that are more conducive to development, its objectives can be more ambitious . . . .  A key success factor is coherence across DFID programmes operating in the same space, as well as with initiatives by partner countries and other development partners . . . .  We encourage DFID to move from simple forms of consultation to more meaningful collaboration with intended beneficiaries, including by building sustainable community structures that are integrated with wider governance systems.  Results will be sustained when they become ‘business as usual’ [→  i.e. are “mainstreamed”] for the communities in which DFID works.” [p. ii.]

Montserrat is a unique case, one where both halves of the ICAI’s recommendations apply. We have been hit hard by natural disasters that create fragility, but at the same time, we have significant potential to break through to self-sustaining growth and ongoing development. The obvious danger with such a situation is that we can tend to fall between two stools, with the emphasis fruitlessly shifting back and forth from one pole to the other and back again. So, our challenge, is to instead draw energy from both aspects of the situation and move ahead decisively, restoring sound governance and stable community life with adequate health, education, housing and welfare support on the one hand, and creating a dynamic, growing inclusive economy on the other.

Another concern lurks in some new words we are seeing; not just “projects” but “portfolios” and “programmes.”  We have even been hearing of a new “Programme Management Office,” PMO.  (A glance at the Programme Management Institute’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)[2] will help: [a] in order to achieve their long-term goals, organisations hold and manage portfolios, that is strategic collections of projects and programmes, much as they would hold an investment portfolio. [b] Programmes, in turn, are organisational units that support and host clusters of projects towards sets of related goals.  [c] A project, in this context, is a time-limited group of activities and efforts towards a definite, unique set of deliverable results, e.g. build a particular building or create an app for the iPad, or carry out a vaccination campaign, or the like.)

 In Montserrat, the new Programme Management Office is using PRINCE2 and other standards by Axelos, to develop capacity and to create a credible framework for the governance, management and implementation of the key, “catalytic” projects. But, that leads to another question, what is PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 means, “projects in controlled environments,” and was first created by the UK Government working with consultants. It is now under a joint public-private partnership, Axelos. It is a system of training, testing and certifications, it is a set of standards and frameworks for world-class project management, it is a way for us to move the ball forward on the key transformational projects, in collaboration with DfID and other development partners.  It is based on seven each of principles, themes and processes:

These principles, themes and processes should readily fit in with the programme-based project cycle management approach(PbPCM) used for many development projects by DfID, EU and other bodies, and so we should be able to tailor the approach to our particular circumstances. Where, of course, tailoring is one of the seven PRINCE2 principles. Also, the Tasmanian Government’s Project Management Framework e-government initiative[3] will provide some very useful resources (which are generally compatible with the PRINCE2 approach).

Beyond PRINCE2, Axelos has several other frameworks that will be highly relevant to Montserrat.  For instance: Managing a Successful Programme (MSP), Management of Portfolios (MoP),  Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices (P3O), Management of Risk (MoR) and Management of Value (MoV).  There is even an IT-specific form of PRINCE2, PRINCE2 Agile. All of these could help us build our capability to manage and govern our transformation programme. So, such frameworks and standards will provide world-class, third party quality assurance of our growing capability to carry out, manage and transparently, soundly govern the key projects in our transformation programme. (And, let us duly note: while we can hope to minimise over-runs on project costs and timelines etc., no method can actually utterly eliminate such problems.)

Clearly, solid business cases for our “catalytic” projects, backed by adequate capacity and tied to a sound economic development strategy will credibly go a long way towards strengthening our negotiation position. That should help to break the deadlocks in the project cycle that have kept our key “catalytic” projects stuck for twenty years. END

[1]              http://icai.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ICAI-report-DFIDs-approach-to-Delivering-Impact.pdf

[2]           https://www.amazon.com/Project-Management-Knowledge-PMBOK-Fifth/dp/1935589679/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495645619&sr=8-1&keywords=Guide+to+the+Project+Management+Body+of+Knowledge+%28PMBOK%29

[3]           http://www.egovernment.tas.gov.au/project_management

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5 ways to test your computer’s security – USA TODAY special

USA Today columnist Kim Komando guides you on how to test your computer’s security.

The moment you log onto the internet, your computer starts its game of Russian Roulette. I know that sounds bleak and frightening, but it’s true. Your personal data stored on the hard drive is a magnet for hackers and cyber-criminals, and they will stop at nothing to break into your system.

These attacks are often overt and frightening. Virtual bandits have committed wave after wave of digital crimes. They have extorted untold Bitcoin dollars from regular users desperate to decrypt their files.

Tip in a Tip: Just a few weeks ago, ransomware affected some 200,000 Windows computers all over the world. Learn how to protect yourself from ransomware attacks.

So how do you know if the security you set up on your computer really works?

Hackers use many different methods to invade your computer, so you’ll want to approach the problem from several angles. Think of it like a rancher leaning on the fence to make sure it’s still sturdy. Here are some ways to keep that fence from falling over.

1. Test your settings

The first tool in your arsenal is Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer. This free tool examines your Windows and Office settings for any potential problems, especially contamination.

First, MBSA will test your user account passwords and let you know if any account has a weak or disabled password, which is easy prey for hackers.

MBSA will also check many of your account settings. Is your computer set up to get automatic updates? Do you have more than one administrator account on the computer? This software will check all of that information for you.

MBSA also has guides to what settings are preferred and why. Just click the “What was scanned” or “Result details” links to read them.

Also, pay attention to your shared folders. MBSA will show you folders set up for sharing. You may have opened up some private folders in the past, so anyone on your network can access files in these folders. Make sure you’re only sharing what you meant to share, and with whom. Learn more about MBSA and download this free tool.

Related:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Keep your browser updated. Only the latest, safest version will help protect you from infections and attacks.

But an up-to-date browser is just the beginning. You need to make sure your browser plug-ins are up to date, as well. Just like an old browser, an outdated plug-in leaves your browser and your computer vulnerable.

Open up the browsers on your computer, even the ones that you don’t use, and go to Mozilla’s Plugin checker. It will show you every plug-in installed on the browser and whether it’s up to date. Even though it’s the same company that makes Firefox, the Plugin checker works for Internet Explorer, Chrome, and other browsers.

If you want to remove any plug-ins or toolbars you find, follow the instructions I provide here.

3. Test your firewall

One of the most fundamental security setups is a firewall. Windows and Mac have decent firewalls built in, and many third-party security programs include them.

A firewall keeps hackers from seeing your computer online when they’re searching for victims. Even if they know where your computer is, the firewall keeps them out.

But they’re not perfect. A wrong port setting can send up a flare, revealing your computer or giving hackers an opportunity to slip past. If you have a virus, it might have changed your settings without you even knowing.

A port test service like PortTest scans your firewall to make sure your computer is invisible. If it can see you, so can the hackers. Click here to test your computer’s firewall.

4. Permanently delete files

Newsflash: Deleting your files doesn’t actually remove them. They can still hang around your hard drive for days or weeks. Anyone who knows what they’re doing can recover them.

That’s why it’s a good idea to permanently delete any sensitive files that you no longer need. Here are step-by-step instructions.

But even then, you don’t want to just dust your hands and assume the files are gone. To confirm they’ve been deleted, fire up a file-recovery program like Recuva and see what it can even find on your system.

If it doesn’t find the files you permanently deleted, you’re in good shape.

5. Check your Facebook settings

Your computer isn’t the only place you store information. Facebook is packed with personal data that a scammer would love to mine.

That’s why they invented the “View As” tool. It shows you what your profile looks like to the public or specific people. If any of your information has the wrong settings, you’ll be able to spot it immediately.

Go to Facebook and open Settings >> Timeline and Tagging. Next, go to “Who can see my things on my Timeline” and click “View As.”

Consider this the “au naturel” setting of Facebook. You’ll see exactly what your profile looks like to strangers. Click through your Timeline, About, Photos, Friends, and other sections, and see whether vulnerable tidbits have slipped through.

Remember, you can edit every single thing in your profile. To the right of each item, you’ll find an icon with an upside-down triangle. Click this to choose who can see the information. It’s a shortcut that will save you a lot of headaches down the line.

There are plenty more settings you can use to change your Facebook privacy. Click here for a full walk-through of Facebook’s privacy settings and how they work.

How else can you keep your computer secure from trespassers? Be sure to listen or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

MORE KIM KOMANDO:

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World leaders warn Trump: ‘Paris agreement cannot be renegotiated’

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/336008-world-leaders-warn-trump-paris-agreement-cannot-be-renegotiated

 The Hill

Inform Raw

Foreign officials and many of America’s overseas allies slammed President Trump’s Thursday announcement that he’ll pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal.

The leaders of France, Germany and Italy, three key supporters of the climate deal in Europe, responded quickly to Trump’s suggestion that the agreement could be renegotiated with better terms for the U.S. 

The deal, they said in a statement, is “a cornerstone in the cooperation between our countries, for effectively and timely tackling climate change.”

 

It is “irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris agreement cannot be renegotiated,” they added in response to Trump saying he’d “begin negotiations to re-enter — whether the Paris accord, or really, an entirely new transaction — on terms that are fairer to the United States.”German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said the chancellor regrets America’s departure from the deal and added that Germany will continue to try to “save our planet,” while French President Emmanuel Macron responded in a video statement posted on Twitter. 

Charles Michel, the prime minister of Belgium, called Trump’s decision a “brutal act,” and the Swedish prime minister tweeted, “We urge you to show global leadership, we need the USA on the team. Your Nordic Friends,” to Trump.

I condemn this brutal act against @realDonaldTrump Leadership means fighting climate change together. Not forsaking commitment.

.@realdonaldtrump We urge you to show global leadership, we need the USA on the team. Your Nordic Friends

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who worked closely with former President Obama on climate and energy issues, tweeted that “Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth.” 

“We are deeply disappointed that the United States federal government has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement,” he added.

In a statement, the United Nations said it “regrets the announcement” and said the deal “cannot be renegotiated based on the request of a single party.”

“We are committed to continue working with all governments and partners in their efforts to fast forward climate action at global and national levels,” Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, said.  

Trump spoke by phone Thursday with Merkel, Macron, Trudeau and Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom, according to the White House.

He “personally explained his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord,” a readout of the calls said, and “thanked all four leaders for holding frank, substantive discussions on this issue during his first months in office.”

Trump also “reassured the leaders that America remains committed to the Transatlantic alliance and to robust efforts to protect the environment.” 

“He noted America’s strong record in reducing emissions and leading the development of clean energy technology, and he reiterated that the United States under the Trump Administration, will be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth,” the readout continued.

Trump announced Thursday his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris deal, aiming to end the U.S.’s involvement in a landmark 2015 pact in which nearly every country in the world agreed to begin tackling climate change. 

He said the voluntary terms included in the deal by the Obama administration are unfair to the United States and will hurt its energy and business sectors.  

Trump vowed to renegotiate the deal, though a White House official said what a renegotiated deal would look like is “up to the president” and provided no details.  

The United States now joins Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries that do not support the deal.

The front page of a German tabloid marked the occasion with a simple message on Thursday: “Earth to Trump: F**k you!” 

Jordan Fabian contributed

https://twitter.com/paul__johnson/status/870377567752212482/photo/1

https://www.pscp.tv/EmmanuelMacron/1jMKgoodLyqKL?t=1m49s

 Statement by France,Germany + Italy: Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, it is a vitalinstrument for our planet,
 

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Alden McLaughlin

Cayman Islands governor confirms finally, ‘national unity’ coalition

After General Elections – fallout

(L-R) Moses Kirkconnell (PPM), Alden McLaughlin (PPM), McKeeva Bush (CDP), Roy Tatum (PPM official), Austin Harris (IND), Dr Joseph Marzouca (CDP official), Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, Governor Helen Kilpatrick and Eugene Ebanks (CDP)

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) — Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick has confirmed that Alden McLaughlin, the leader of the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), has enough support to form a government with him at the helm and the former opposition leader, McKeeva Bush, as speaker, after the two political leaders went to meet with her Monday.

There were no further details yet about who will be in Cabinet and on the government backbench or who will lead the opposition benches, as there has been no official word from the politicians involved, but Swearing In Day is now set for Wednesday.

As they say, a week is a long time in politics and the week since the election is not over yet, so anything can happen, but as it stands at present the government benches will only include two independents because others who were offered seats at the government table from the various factions of independent members elected last Wednesday have refused to serve under McLaughlin.

Nevertheless, with seven PPM members returned to the LA and supported by independent Tara Rivers, McLaughlin has the largest solid group and has been able to pull together a coalition.

Following the meeting with the politicians, Kilpatrick said in a release that on Monday afternoon she met with elected representatives Alden McLaughlin, McKeeva Bush, Moses Kirkconnell, Austin Harris and Captain Eugene Ebanks.

“Mr McLaughlin provided me with evidence that he had sufficient support to form a ‘Government of National Unity’,” she said.

She added, “Accordingly, I have signed the proclamation to a call a session of the Legislative Assembly for 10:00am Wednesday, 31st May 2017 for the purposes of swearing in all newly elected and appointed members of the Legislative Assembly, voting for a premier pursuant to section 49 (3) of the Constitution of the Cayman Islands, and other attendant matters. Mr McLaughlin has indicated that he will be seeking election to the position of premier and Mr Bush to speaker of the House.”

But Not before this reported saga

Cayman Islands coalition government deal reportedly falls apart                                                                 

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) — Following a very mixed result in the first ever election in the Cayman Islands under the system of ‘one man, one vote’ in which no party, group or alliance has enough seats to form a government, a second attempt at putting together a potential coalition administration that was cobbled together just before midnight on Friday and which would have put former premier

McKeeva Bush back at the helm of government was reportedly on shaky ground by Saturday morning.

Various unverified sources suggested that veteran independent MPs, Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean, are not entirely enamoured of the idea of propping up Bush as leader. They appeared to be looking to shape another potential cabinet line-up that could see Bush maneuvered into the speaker’s chair or off the government frontline altogether.

The possibility of a new mix of the independents on the front bench, or an ‘eastern alliance’ with the former incumbent People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), was beginning to emerge.

Meetings were reportedly taking place in hotels in Grand Cayman on Saturday and, in a third possible government deal so far at the weekend, another compromise was being discussed to secure an Independent-PPM alliance that could see deputy premier and tourism minister Moses Kirkconnell as the new premier.

It is understood from Bush’s correspondence on Friday with his Cayman Democratic Party (CDP) officials that the first attempt at a CDP alliance with the independent candidates had collapsed, as Miller in particular was not keen on working with Bush in Cabinet and that Chris Saunders, formerly a Bush supporter, was also reluctant to support him as premier.

As a result, Bush went to the PPM and accepted the offer of a neutral position as speaker. In return, his two elected party colleagues Bernie Bush and Capt. Eugene Ebanks would sit on the government backbench, with Bernie Bush as deputy speaker, propping up a PPM-led cabinet with Alden McLaughlin as premier and independent Tara Rivers remaining as education minister.

But that deal lasted around five hours after Bush received significant backlash from his own supporters, who accused him of betrayal, and from the various supporters of the non-party candidates, who saw Bush as collaborating with McLaughlin deliberately to keep the group of non-aligned MLAs out of power.

Following the intervention of former MP Dr Steve Tomlinson, Bush reneged on the deal signed with the PPM and, in a classic piece of political maneuvering, he managed to secure enough support from the independents to be premier instead.

But that line-up began to splinter on Saturday. Whether further talks can hold it together to make it to ‘Swearing in Day’ on Wednesday remains to be seen. But given the lack of agreement and cohesion between the various independent groups now propping up Bush as leader, that new administration would not be a stable government.

Given the new voting system of single member constituencies, which has created an opportunity for greater accountability, voters are able to speak directly to their single representative and apply pressure to indicate what they want to see.

Although current politics is reminiscent of the horse-trading and backroom deals before the advent of party politics in 2001, there is, in addition to the formation of political parties, another significant difference between then and now: backroom talks are no longer as closed as they once were. Pictures, messages and speculation make their way on to social media with lightning speed, shaking the deals even before the ink is dry.

New Cayman Islands coalition government appears set


GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) — Following an inconclusive result to last week’s general elections in the Cayman Islands, Alden McLaughlin looks set to remain as the British territory’s leader in a coalition between his People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) and some of the independent MPs, following a weekend of deals, counter-deals, backroom talks and double-crossing.

While the front bench line-up is not yet firm, McLaughlin said on Sunday he “expected to have a government in place” and would be “going to the governor tomorrow”. Although the PPM leader has not revealed details about the make-up of his new coalition government, it is believed to include some former PPM members.

Already dubbed by pundits as ‘the weekend of the long knives’, since McLaughlin and Cayman Democratic Party (CDP) leader McKeeva Bush signed a deal on Friday afternoon joining their parties in a coalition, there has been an enormous amount of backroom dealing to arrive at a new government line-up and a significant amount of double-crossing.

The Sunday evening agreement will probably sit well with the territory, as it is believed to be a broader coalition and more reflective of what the people voted for than the first deal. The deeply controversial agreement the independents struck late Friday night, which had Bush back as premier, did not appear to reflect the election result any more than the first deal with McLaughlin.

Sources close to the final deal have indicated that Bush, despite his about-face on Friday, may have accepted the neutral position of speaker of the House.

The late night agreement that Bush struck with the independents Friday night, which was brokered by former MP Dr Steve Tomlinson, fell apart just as quickly as the deal Bush made with the PPM leader on Friday afternoon. But the West Bay veteran politician left Grand Cayman early Saturday morning, and almost immediately the elder independents made it clear they were not prepared to support Bush as premier.

Talks then went on throughout the weekend between the various groups of independents and the PPM, with deals, demands, counter deals, offers and proposals over the premiership until late Sunday. At one point, it appeared that the 19 elected MPs were going to struggle to form a government at all and a second election was on the cards, not least because of the difficulties of negotiating with the independents, who did represent a cohesive bloc.

In the end, however, some independents have apparently agreed to support a PPM-IND coalition, with, it is understood, subject to discussions, three cabinet seats going to the independents and four to the PPM.

Although the deal has taken five days to broker, it was somewhat less “closed-door” than days of old, with details of the talks leaking constantly and appearing on Facebook.

The last time anything like these types of negotiations took place was before the emergence of the party system. In 2000, it took several days to get the first deal, which fell apart within 24 hours, and it was not until the eve of ‘Swearing-in Day’ that a deal was struck that put Kurt Tibbetts at the head of a coalition of various teams. That lasted 12 months, when a 2001 ouster gave rise to the emergence of political parties, which has prevented this type of backroom horsetrading over the last three elections.

The resurgence of independent candidates in this national poll has underscored the problem of electing a group of non-aligned individuals who have not discussed their policy platforms with each other before being elected, leaving the question of who forms the government being answered, once again, in back rooms rather than in the ballot box.

While there is still the possibility that everything might change again, the existence of parties and the fact that almost half of the independents are aligned in a group has meant that a government that reflects the vote appears to have finally emerged.

But now that the government appears to have been settled, the next question is who will lead the opposition benches.

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earthquakk

Trinidad rattled by earthquake

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, May 29, CMC – An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.0 rattled the west of Trinidad on Sunday night, the Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies (UWI) has reported.

earthquakkIt said the quake, which occurred at a depth of three kilometres, was felt at 7.06 pm (local time).

It occurred west of Trinidad in the Gulf of Paria and was located at 10.51°N and reportedly felt widely in Trinidad, the SRC said.

Earlier this month, the SRC reported that an earthquake occurred north west of Trinidad and Tobago with a magnitude of 4.6 and was felt in Trinidad and Tobago and neighbouring Grenada.

On both occasions there were no reports of injuries or damages.

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AIDS Haiti

Regional legislators to meet in Jamaica to discuss HIV/AIDS issues

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 29, CMC – Jamaica will host a five-day conference that will allow regional parliamentarians to assess their role in promoting healthy living and well-being for all ages in the Caribbean.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck will deliver the feature address at the May 30 to June 3 PANCAP Regional Parliamentarians Forum that has attracted legislators from  Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

AIDS HaitiThe forum will also be attended by the Deputy Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat; Manorma Soeknandan, the Assistant Secretary-General, Directorate for Human and Social Development; Dr. Douglas Slater as well as Dr. Edward Greene, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean; Canon Garth Minott, Chair of The Regional Consultative Steering Committee for the Implementation of Recommendations to end AIDS by 2030

Officials from the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS), Caribbean Sex Work Coalition (CSWC) and the Caribbean Network of People Living with HIV (CRN+) will be in attendance.

The organisers said that the focus of the forum will be a discussion on the targets of the Political Declaration of June 2016 and the implications for parliaments in the Caribbean.

Parliamentarians are also expected to establish the foundations for increased engagement with national parliaments and national parliamentary committees on Health/Social Protection and on Justice especially in countries such as Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, which have higher HIV prevalence rates.

The delegates will also use the forum to assess their role in promoting healthy living and well-being for all ages in the region; identify the constitutional challenges posed by the criminalisation of sex between consenting adults and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation and suggest strategies that parliamentarians can adopt to advocate for the end AIDS by 2030.

 Parliamentarians will also be updated on global best practices related to parliamentarians’ engagement on these issues.

The forum will take into consideration the targets established in the United Nations High Level Meeting Political Declaration June 2016 on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) approved by 192 nations at the United Nations (UN) in September 2015.

The five-day forum, which is funded by the Global Fund and facilitated by the PANCAP Coordinating Unit and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), forms part of a wider intervention programme created by PANCAP within its Justice For All (JFA) Roadmap.

The JFA was initiated in 2013 by PANCAP, based on consultations with faith leaders, civil society, youth, the private sector and parliamentarians.

The organisers said that the Regional Parliamentarians Forum is expected to result in the formation of significant strategies, which will inform the critical steps regional parliamentarians can implement to contribute effectively to ending HIV transmission and deaths from AIDS.

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