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Christopher Cushing

United States partners with region in support of youth development and crime prevention

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 10, CMC The United States, through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative is partnering with regional governments in an effort to stem crime and violence by focusing on at risk youths and vulnerable populations.

This is according to Christopher Cushing, the Mission Director for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, who was   delivering remarks on Thursday on behalf of Linda Taglialatela,the US Ambassador to Barbados, Eastern Caribbean, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), during the opening ceremony for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative 8th Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Crime Prevention .

Christopher Cushing
Christopher Cushing

He said the partnership will be done through programmes that will empower young people to lead better and more positive lives, which will redound to the benefit of the region in improving citizen security and creating more stable democracies.

“Since 2010, the U.S. Government, through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), has invested US$437 million, towards improving citizen security in the Caribbean and addressing the root causes of crime and violence. To date, more than 30,000 youth, across the region, have participated in CBSI education and work-force development programmes, with more than $50 million allocated to support these programmes, he said.

“The CBSI embodies our mutual commitment to greater shared security throughout the Caribbean. It is an initiative that works towards building the health, resiliency and safety of Caribbean countries, all important elements for sustained growth, prosperity and strong democracies in the Caribbean and the United States.”

Cushing noted the importance of the conference to the future development of youth and citizen security and said that the Technical Working Group is critical to advancing the said goal.

“Your discussions will continue to help shape the broader framework for action and bring sharper focus to the needs of the region’s youth,” added the mission director. “Over the next three days, I expect you will have robust exchanges in which you, as Caribbean leaders, learn from each other and international experts, and take the time to pause, reflect, generate new ideas, and identify concrete priorities to address challenges posed by transnational crime.”

He commented on the theme adopted for this year’s conference, which is: “Changing Social Norms Through Youth Engagement”.

“This is a timely theme and an important reminder to all of us that the change we seek cannot be achieved without the support and full participation of young people. Around the world, youth are making their voices heard and spearheading powerful initiatives to address poverty, health concerns, environmental challenges, school violence and more. Here in the Caribbean, it’s no different,” noted Cushing, adding that “the U.S. Government firmly believes in the power of youth, and has partnered with regional Governments for many years to support youth development.”

The Conference, which runs from May 10-11, will culminate with a youth rally on Saturday.

Representatives are drawn from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and host country St. Kitts and Nevis.

The Community Family and Youth Resilience Programme, OECS Commission and USAID are also represented.

Posted in General, International, Local, News, Police, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Indonesia

CARICOM and Indonesia strengthen links

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, May 3, CMC – Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque described the presentation of credentials by Indonesia’s Ambassador as “a hallmark in relations” between the Community and Indonesia.

Indonesia's first Amb. To CARICOM 2018Drs. Dominicus Supratikto, who is based in Suriname, became the first Ambassador of Indonesia to CARICOM when he presented his letters of credence to the Secretary-General on Wednesday at the CARICOM Secretariat Headquarters here.

LaRocque said that with this accreditation, relations between Indonesia and CARICOM would only go from strength to strength. Both the Secretary-General and Ambassador Supratikto agreed that climate change was one area that lent itself to co-operation.

The Ambassador noted that the forming of official links allowed for more engagement between the two parties and this latest initiative was in keeping with Indonesia’s thrust to extend relations with non-traditional partners.

 

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, General, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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Nerissa Golden Launches Return to Love Book Series

BRADES – Author and entrepreneur Nerissa Golden launched her Return to Love book series February 21, 2018, in the presence of colleagues and friends at the Montserrat Public Library.

There are currently two books in the series, with Golden aiming to add two more. Love’s Sweet Joy is book one and tells the story of Monique Sinclair, a single mother who returns to Montserrat after she inherits a small pastry shop and is struggling to get her business together. Callen Saunders has Montserrat roots and is hired to coach a local basketball team after he is injured but he is extremely bitter.

Local business consultant and teacher, Angela Greenaway said she enjoyed the first novel and has been anxiously awaiting the second book.

Hon. Minister of Education Delmaude Ryan who was read both novels, congratulated Golden on the series.

Golden said she took a different path with book two, In Plain Sight. It is a romantic suspense and centres around a Dutch police officer who is hired to train the local police team. However, his job becomes more difficult as trouble washes up on local beaches.

The author said her vision was to create stories which showed possibilities for love and job creation on Montserrat.  “I’ve had women tell me they recognize their story in the book or it feels like therapy. That makes me feel good as sometimes we just need a bit of encouragement and hope to keep going. Montserrat is a character in the book as well because there are so many beautiful locations to feature and stories waiting to be told.

Both books are available online and locally from the author.

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De Ole Dawg – Part 4: 2018 -Montserrat’s project governance challenge

De Ole Dawg – Part 4: 2018 -Montserrat’s project governance challenge

Why has DfID pointed to “gaps in GoM’s project management capacity”?

BRADES, Montserrat, Mar 1, 2018 – When DfID reviewed[1] the Montserrat Hospital and Health Care Improvement Project the first time, in January 2014 it indicated that it was nine months behind and held a “medium” risk rating. Where, eight months of that delay were due to how long it took for its DfID-prepared business case to be approved.  They also spoke of several failed tenders for equipment and rated goals to date as partially achieved.  In the same review, DfID was already challenging the construction concept: “A property appraisal, conducted in September 2011, found that many of the facilities are not fit for purpose and space standards are generally inadequate[2].”   By the second review in November 2014,  risk was rated as “high,”  the project was seen as “poorly performing . . . failing DFID’s value for money test” and there was an understandable shift in construction concept from upgrading on the present site to going to a site next door.  (This would have then opened the door to requiring an evaluation of alternative sites thus the eventual choice of Hill Top after a study of site-options.) 

It is no surprise, then, to see that it is in the November 2014 evaluation report that DfID spoke of “gaps in GoM’s project management capacity.”

But it is also quite clear that such a remark was doubtless informed by concerns over the Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC) and  the pattern of delays with the building projects for Agriculture, for Customs & Revenue and for Radio Montserrat (ZJB). DfID would also have been aware of significant problems with the road improvement project.

Even more tellingly, by January 2014, questions were already being asked about how health care in Montserrat was to be financed going forward (which eventually led to the now infamous Mott-MacDonald study). 

The termination of the project was predictable. The task of doing a fresh business case for a new hospital project was put on the table. (Which, of course, would re-open all the underlying issues and points of debate.)

Now, too, many people in Montserrat are unaware that by 2012 DfID said that MDC “ha[d] not performed to date as expected,” speaking of “this failure.” In the business case to improve MDC’s performance, DfID requested over EC$ 5 millions and proposed:

“. . . to reconstruct MDC with improved governance arrangements, staffing, technical assistance and resources. It will have a direct project management function as well as a facilitation role. It is a semi-autonomous agency, reporting to a Board and in turn to the GoM. It will employ strong commercial skills and technical support   within   a   framework   of   strong   governance   and   accountability.   It   is   the   key   part   of   the institutional framework for economic development and without it the island lacks the leadership and project management capacity required to put the foundations in place for strategic and catalytic public investments.”

However, by 2014, we saw whistleblowers, audits, investigations and questions over procurement as well as management of money. In 2015, there was a scandal in the UK tabloid press.  A DfID-sponsored 2016 Business Environment Reform Facility consultancy study[3] then summed up: “the  MDC  was  terminated following  poor performance  and concerns over management of money, as evidenced by the findings and recommendations of a Task Force review of the MDC in March 2015.”

It is therefore fair comment to conclude that Montserrat has a significant, longstanding challenge with project governance (and with linked capacity and credibility).

The Programme Management Office (PMO) that was introduced last year was clearly an effort to address this challenge. It sought to do so in key part through consultancies and the introduction of PRINCE2 and other Axelos project, programme and portfolio management frameworks, training and certification.  However, our governance problem then exploded into crisis, through the firing of the first Head of the PMO by frog-marching him out of Government Headquarters. And that, on a “no cause clause” dismissal.  Since then, the PMO has obviously stalled, to the detriment of ready small and major projects.

How can we restore credibility, build capacity and reform project governance?

(For sure, that will be necessary to help us move forward with the key, “catalytic” infrastructure and related projects that will lay a foundation for self-sustaining growth.)

A good place to start is obviously the PMO and the Axelos system for project, programme and portfolio management.  A new head is needed and the dropped strands of work with Axelos and International Project Management bodies have to be picked up. Since the Axelos framework is designed to be tailored to circumstances, it needs to be explicitly integrated with EU-style Programme-based Project Cycle Management.

We will obviously need to develop a robust system for expediting – as opposed to delaying and obstructing – work on the key priority projects.

Procurement and financial management reforms need to be tailored to fit with the needed expediting also.

The question is, are we willing to expedite these changes? If we don’t, Montserrat will continue to pay a stiff price. END

[1]           See DfID’s Dev’t Tracker: https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/projects/GB-1-114508/documents

[2]               Glendon Hospital Montserrat Property Appraisal, Planning for Health Ltd, September 2011

[3]           See: http://www.businessenvironmentreform.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/BERF-Montserrat-BE-Capacity-Building_FINAL_31Jan2017.pdf

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Looking back at the 2017 Literary Festival – “Telling Our Stories”

By Cathy Buffonge

For the past nine years the University of the West Indies Open Campus here in Montserrat has been organizing an inspiring Literary Festival. Led by Campus Head Gracelyn Cassell, the Festival is dubbed Alliouagana Festival of the Word after Montserrat’s original Amerindian name, and takes place in November each year. Last November’s Festival was entitled “Telling our Stories” and as the name suggests focused on all aspects of storytelling.

For the first time the Festival teamed up with the Ministry of Education’s Reading Week, and this featured an impressive Book Parade in which children from each school wore costumes depicting storybook characters. The parade started in Carr’s Bay area and ended at the Basketball Complex in Little Bay, with a host of imaginative costumes. In addition some of the visiting storytellers from the “Lit Fest” visited the schools and met with school children for stories and interactive discussions.

The big event on the Thursday afternoon was the Memorial Symposium, continuing the annual lecture series held in recognition of Montserrat’s hero and international singing star, the late Alphonsus “Arrow” Cassell. For the first time the symposium started at 2pm, in order to facilitate school children’s attendance, and this did attract a good number from three schools, some of whom participated well in discussions.

The symposium featured seven resource persons from the Caribbean and further afield, all touching on storytelling from different angles. The keynote speaker was Dr Amina Blackwood- Meeks from the Edna Manley College in Jamaica. In her presentation “Forgetting we-self”, she pointed out that here in the Caribbean we are still singing about “dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh” instead of focusing on themes more relevant to the Caribbean.

Jamaican storyteller and dramatist A-dZiko Simba Gegele, well known locally, told an entertaining story, while Antiguan bookshop owner and reading promoter Barbara Arrindell, a long time supporter of the Festival, spoke on “Presenting our history”, and also played a part in other sections of the Festival.

Other speakers included Nicole Plummer from UWI, Jamaica, who spoke on “Constructing knowledge through storytelling”, Wendy MacBurnie from Howard University on “Filmic folklore and storytelling in Slumdog Millionaire”, and Gracelyn Cassell herself, the main organizer of the Festival,  whose topic was “Hot Hot Hot: Arrow’s story revisited”. Akini Gill from the University of Trinidad and Tobago talked about his personal experience growing up as an unrecognized dyslexic, and how he now teaches children with learning disabilities through music.

Friday saw the official opening of the Festival, starting with a reception hosted by Montserrat’s then Governor, HE Elizabeth Carriere. Welcome remarks at the opening were given by Minister of Health Hon Delmaude Ryan, the official Patron of the Festival, and there was enjoyable entertainment from Montserrat’s traditional Masquerades and from three of our veteran calypsonians, Cupid, Tabu and Belonger.

A highlight of the opening was the launch of two books. Claytene Nisbett presented her book “Life as Josephine”, depicting the life of a young black girl as she grows up in the US and later in the UK. Sarah Dickinson presented her new book “Plenty Mango”, illustrated by her husband, John Renton. In the book she takes a sardonic and light hearted but sympathetic look at many aspects of Montserrat life, with several well known characters being mentioned.

The weekend was as usual full of interesting activities and presentations. A new feature of the Festival was an imaginative dramatization of the children’s book “Who’s in Rabbit’s House?” This was organized and coordinated by Pat “Belonger” Ryan with support from parents, especially Mr and Mrs Rolando Kassie. Children took the parts of the various animals in the story, which was narrated by Hayley-Shai Kassie in front of creative scenery made by parents and the “house” built by Kirk Brade.

Another new and quite challenging event was a spelling and reading competition for children, entitled “Spell-like a champion”. This was sponsored by book publishers Harper Collins, whose first time involvement in the Festival was greatly appreciated, and who generously donated books for the prize winners and other children. The event was coordinated by Barbara Arrindell and librarian Sonja Smith.  

There was also a dramatic event put on by Brandelle Knight and a group of secondary students and these all received books donated by CODE (Canadian Organization for Development through Education) who have been another sterling supporter of the Lit Fest.

An annual feature of the Festival is the prize giving ceremony for the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) creative writing competition. This year the children, and some adults, competed to write poems on the theme “Restless Earth”. There were over 170 entries, many of them illustrated, so the judges had an extremely hard job, as there was a high standard throughout. Prize winners read their poems to an appreciative audience. The competition was ably coordinated by MVO information/ outreach officer Natalie Edgecombe.

There were several other interesting sessions during the weekend conducted by Sarah Dickinson, Barbara Arrindell, A-dZiko Simba and Nigerian born author/ story teller Atinuke Akinyemi, who kept the audience spellbound. Well known Trinidadian comedian Paul Keens-Douglas wrapped up the Festival with his lively performance “Let’s tell stories”.

As usual a host of interesting books for children and adults, many of them with Caribbean themes, were on sale at the UWI bookstall, and also from Barbara Arrindell’s Antigua bookshop, Best of Books. There was a lovely display of crafts by Juliana Meade, and as always Claude Browne’s bouncy castle was there for the children’s enjoyment.

“Word up”, now an annual event (originally coordinated by Coretta Ryan and her sister, former Festival Queen Sharissa Ryan), was held at the Community College and was reported to be a well attended and lively event, with young people reading and performing their writing creations

I would like to encourage as many people as possible, especially teachers and their students, to attend the Alliougana Festival every year. Most of the presenters come down for just a few days and this is a unique opportunity to listen to what they have to say and interact with them. It was good to have more participation from school children this time. Well done to Miss Cassell and her hard-working staff and volunteers.

Continued funding assistance from the Montserrat Arts Council and the Montserrat Foundation was a great help, as was fundraising in Toronto and Montreal by Mary Glavassevich and Evans Lewis respectively. Thanks too to Radio Montserrat for helping promote the Festival, and to those who provided accommodation free of charge to the visiting presenters. Committee Chair, Gracelyn Cassell extends sincere thanks to the hard-working members of the Steering Committee and to the Sponsors and Partners, old and new for making the 9thAlliouagana Festival of the Word possible.

Posted in Entertainment, Features, General, Opinions1 Comment

Blue Halo

PRESS RELEASE – Blue Halo Initiative

Monday, February 12, 2018 – Stage one of a two-pilot experimental fish trap project, a partnership between the Government of Montserrat and the WAITT Institute which aims to protect the island’s fisheries resources commenced last week.

The project which was carded to begin on February 1st got on the way with the arrival of the material with the exception of a bio-degradable wire on Thursday, February 8th. The materials needed in the construction of the traps are currently in the procession of the lead trap maker for the project Mr Ethan Bonteen, work on the trap has also commenced.

The four apprentices conducting the project have met on several occasions with the Hon. Parliamentary Secretary and project coordinator Gregory Willock. They held discussions regarding the execution of the project while ensuring the final details are put together to ensure a smooth running of the project over the next 12months.

Hon Willock upon the arrival of the trap materials expressed his delight in seeing the project finally getting on its way, “Well I think this is really an exciting moment for all of us. I am just so overwhelmed that the materials to make these fish traps are finally here.”

 

After the completion of the traps, they will be laid and data will be collected to determining if the project is sustainable on Montserrat.

As the weeks and months roll-on, the general public will be further informed on the happenings of the projects. The traps are expected to be laid by May of 2018.

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Is Ministry putting interests before children’s interests, acting irresponsibly, detrimental to school children?

Is Ministry putting interests before children’s interests, acting irresponsibly, detrimental to school children?

12th February 2018

By Email & Hand

Mrs. Delmaude Ryan
Minister of Education
Ministry of Education
Little Bay Montserrat

Dear Minister

I am writing to complain about the closure of all schools in Montserrat from 14th to 16th February 2018 so that teachers can attend. a workshop being held by the Ministry of Education. Unfortunately, this practice has now become an annual event. By disrupting children’s schooling in this way, the Ministry of Education is acting irresponsibly and in a manner that is detrimental to school children. One senses that the Ministry is putting its interests and those of teachers ahead of the interests of the children.

I would be very interested to know whether ministers of education abroad are guilty of the same practice. In the 15 years or so of my education, non  of the academic institutions I attended closed for a single day so that teachers could attend a workshop. That was because teacher training was done either outside of school hours or during the long holidays that teachers enjoy.

I call on you as the Minister of Education to discontinue this practice and hold these workshops outside of school hours. I am confident that in doing so I have the support of a majority of parents in Montserrat. I suggest that you address my complaint publicly and advise that in view of its importance I am placing this letter in the public domain.

Yours sincerely

Jean Kelsick

Posted in Education, Features, General, Letters, Local0 Comments

Winston Churchill

De Ole Dawg – Part 3: 2018 – We need good leaders for the upcoming storms

Moving beyond “business as usual,” “resilience” and “growth” to needed reformation

BRADES, Montserrat, February 14, 2018 – Today, Montserrat needs not just “resilience” and “self-sustaining growth” but reformation. For, “business as usual” and “go along for peace sake” etc. have not worked. Indeed, business as [nearly] usual in the face of the volcano crisis clearly contributed to our losses twenty-plus years ago.

And no, it was not just “de British” and “DfID.” We, too were implicated and we continue to be part of the problem right down to today. 

But, a reforming leader as a rule has to be “the good man in a storm” – often, a disaster triggered by marches of folly undertaken in the teeth of his earlier unwelcome advice.  On much history, such a leader will be turned to only as a last resort, and will therefore face the challenge of having been right when more favoured figures were wrong. Wrong, at awful cost. And, being newly at the helm when further disaster strikes is always a big challenge.

Sir Winston Spencer Churchill

That is what confronted Sir Winston Churchill[1] on May 10, 1940. The Neville Chamberlain Government actually won the Norway fiasco Parliamentary Debate on the Adjournment, but was fatally weakened. So, Churchill was – reluctantly – resorted to. (For many years, he had been seen as little more than a proved failure and annoying dinosaur past his stale date. He would prove to be the greatest Prime Minister for centuries, at Britain’s “finest hour.” And yes, the phrase is his. Insightful, sound, visionary eloquence was a key part of his leadership.)

Let us therefore again draw on key lessons of history.  It starts on May 10, 1940, Churchill’s first day in office. For, that very morning, Hitler’s Panzers began to roll westwards. France was soon out-smarted and shattered. By June, the British army was only saved by a miracle of evacuation under fire at Dunkirk.  Over the next three months, the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Royal Air Force backed by a primitive radar system were the slender margin between defeat and survival as Hitlers bombers and fighters came over in daily waves from their new bases in France.

The UK then had to stand alone and take a further pounding until the Japanese attacked at Pearl Harbour, in the Philippines and at Hong Kong in December 1941.  Many more terrible disasters followed. But Churchill stood firm, and with American help multiplied by Hitler’s folly of invading Russia, the tide began to turn across 1942.  Churchill would go on to win the war, but was defeated by Labour’s Clement Attlee in the 1945 election.  It is only in 1951 that Churchill would actually win a UK General Election outright. And yet (despite many flaws and failings), he is rightly regarded as one of the greatest leaders in not only UK but world history.

Clearly, unpopular leadership by one who the “natural” leadership classes despise is a difficult task. For, someone like that has already suffered defeat after defeat in council and will be widely disregarded or even mocked.   That kind of leadership is a delicate, difficult job at best.

To succeed at this time, we have to now acquire a taste for Churchillian reformation leadership, much as we had to learn to eat our veggies. So, to understand it at a deeper level, let us turn to our region’s most common history book for a case study. As, soundly presented real world cases have a subtle richness of detail due to forces in play that a generic model such as SWOT simply cannot communicate on its own. (That is part of why we need to study history.)

Paul, in Acts 27, was the most eminent leader of a controversial Jewish sect. One, that was admitting Gentiles without circumcising them and bringing them under the full force of Hebraic customs and law. He had been pounced on as a turn-coat and was being mobbed in the Temple in Jerusalem in 57 AD, but was rescued by Roman soldiers. He was then held in gaol for two years while undergoing trials and fending off assassination plots. He finally appealed against the Jerusalem leaders to trial as a Roman citizen before Caesar’s seat. Soon, he was on a grain ship full of wheat heading from Egypt to Rome. Adverse winds forced them to stop in Fair Havens, Crete. It was late in the season and the port and town were less than desirable. (Sounds familiar?)

So, there was a ship’s council on whether they could slip 40 miles down the coast to a better wintering port, Phoenix. Paul, already a survivor of three shipwrecks, intervened:

“Ac 27:10 . . .  “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion [Julius, a warrant-grade officer in the Imperial Messenger Regiment] paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.” [ESV]

Clearly, money, bought- and- paid- for technical henchmen and clever words can often manipulate officials and the crowd alike. Paul warned against the folly, but lost the vote.  And soon enough, a gentle south wind came up, so they set out on the 40-mile dash to Phoenix. They didn’t make it, a hurricane-force early winter storm caught them. For two weeks they drifted in increasing despair.  Hope was given up when Paul intervened with a prophetic insight. Shipwreck on an island, and they needed to eat to have strength. On the 14th night, at midnight, they heard breakers at a point near what is now St Paul’s Bay, North side of Malta. Soundings were made, 120 feet, 90 feet as they come in from the East. Danger, in the dark!

Four anchors were dropped from the stern, and they prayed for daylight. On a ruse of anchoring from the bow, the sailors plotted to abandon the passengers. Paul again intervened, and Julius now had learned who is a good man in a storm. Soldiers cut away the boat, and the plot failed. As daylight came, they cut the anchor lines, hoisted foresail and aimed for a beach, running aground on a sandbar. Then, the soldiers wished to kill the prisoners (to prevent escape) but Julius refused.  All 276 souls made it to the beach, as the apostle predicted.

Obviously, we see very different balances of influence at Fair Havens and at St Paul’s Bay. But to get there, Paul had to take an unpopular stance at Fair Havens and lose the vote. For, sometimes, the majority is unsound, and to strike a compromise with popular folly defeats wisdom. Worse, we must ever ponder Jesus’ warning to a nation: because I tell the truth, you do not believe me . . .”

Hard words, yes. But necessary ones as our nation stands at a cross-road. And it is the particular duty of those who stand in a watch-tower to sound the alarm, even at the most inconvenient time.

[1]           See: https://www.gov.uk/government/history/past-prime-ministers/winston-churchill

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High Court judge rules on Facebook posting

High Court judge rules on Facebook posting

There are many fronts of interest for very diverse sections of our community, that this article should receive special attention. This presents not only as this story represents but the understanding of ‘social media’ on a whole. Look out for more on the issues.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 5, CMC – A High Court judge Monday described as “reckless and scandalous” the postings of a woman on the social media, Facebook, after ruling that unsubstantiated libelous statements had caused a family to suffer “shame and embarrassment”.

Justice Frank Seepersad, who said that the woman, Jenelle Burke, would have to pay to her victims damages and costs to be assessed by a Master in Chambers at a later date, said that the defendant did not dispute that the posts were on her Facebook account but she ran the “Shaggy defence” by saying “it wasn’t me”.

In her posts, which the court heard had may have been seen by thousands of people, Burke claimed that the family in question was engaged in incestuous activities and that the father of the family was a rapist who would engage in sexual relations with his stepson and daughter who is a minor.

The telephone numbers belonging to the family members as well as their photographs were attached to the posts. One of the posts also stated that the minor, who was seven years old at the time, was involved in prostitution at her school.

In court, the unidentified family members denied that the accusations and the High Court heard that the Facebook posts had resulted in officers of the Child Protection Unit visiting the family on one occasion to carry out investigations into the allegations.

The family members who said they were once friends with the woman, said despite making reports to the police, the insults continued and in February last year became aware of the Facebook posts on Burke’s page.

In her defence statement, Burke admitted that the messages were posted on her wall but denied she was the one who did so. She contended it may have been placed there by someone else who may have had access to her account. She said as soon as was saw the posts on her page, she deleted them.

But in delivering his ruling, Justice Seepersad warned that the damage which social media postings can have is significant, as the disseminated material creates a perpetual imprint in cyberspace and “there is no deletion or rectification which can be effected with respect to information uploaded to the World Wide Web, quite unlike a print copy of a book or newspaper, the copies of which could be destroyed”.

He said the reach and permanency of social media is such that extreme caution has to be exercised by its users.

“The law needs to be pellucid, so that all concerned must understand that social media use has to be engaged in a responsible way. Anonymity cannot obviate the need to be respectful of people’s rights and users cannot recklessly impugn a person’s character or reputation.

“Words in any form or on any forum, matter and must be used carefully and not impulsively.  Within the public purview there is a misguided perception that the interaction over social media with flagged friends whether on Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Viber, is private.

“This notion has to be dispelled. Such communication once uploaded becomes public and the said communication enjoys no cover of privacy protection. The advent and continued use of social media now results in a circumstance where the rules, regulations, rights, and responsibilities which govern traditional media must be applied.

“Social media ought not to be viewed as an unregulated media forum and anyone who elects to express views or opinions on such a forum stands in the shoes of a journalist and must be subjected to the standards of responsible journalism which govern traditional media,” the judge said.

He described Burke’s Facebooks posts as reckless and scandalous.

“It is difficult to fathom how any right-thinking member of society would contemplate to publish words such as those posted on the defendant’s Facebook account.  Sadly however, far too often, social media is used as a forum to engage in this type of irresponsible and cruel discourse.

“This state of affairs cannot continue unabated and the Court therefore has elected to mould and apply the common law in a manner which gives some degree of protection to citizens. There is entrenched in local parlance the phrase, “You will pay for your mouth”.”

Justice Seepersad said given the technological revolution which now characterises modern life, ”this traditional phrase has to be subject to an update and all social media account holders need to understand that they may now have to “Pay for their posts”, if it is established that their posts are defamatory”.

He said in this case, the defendant did not dispute that the posts were on her Facebook account, noting that she had indicated that the account was set up in 2010 by “named parties who all had access to same.

“She said that she did not publish the posts but removed same when they were brought to her attention.  Social media accounts must be jealously guarded, just like a bank account and access to same should be restricted, as it is a forum where views expressed will normally be attributed to the owner of the account. “One must be mindful that although the account is private, the posts emanating from the account occupy a public space and the content of these posts will be subject to public opinion and scrutiny as will the persons to whom the posts refer. Inevitably, if what the posts contain are malicious falsehoods, then those falsehoods can translate to real-world damage to someone’s reputation.

“A word of caution is also extended to those who knowingly republish or “share” posts containing defamatory content. There must be some measure of restraint, if only to reconsider the accuracy or plausibility of truth in a post before its dissemination which is especially true of sensational and outrageous posts which can possibly cause irreparable harm,” the judge added.

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Caribbean Governments Spent Over US$3 Million On Lobbying, PR In Just Six Months – A NAN First

Caribbean Governments Spent Over US$3 Million On Lobbying, PR In Just Six Months – A NAN First

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Feb. 9, 2018: Caribbean governments in 10 countries spent a whopping combined total of US$ 3.5 million in the first six months of 2017 alone on lobbyists and public relations, News Americas has found.

Here’s the breakdown from the latest US government’s FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) report from the Attorney General, referenced from most to least in US dollars. The number here does not reflect the spend by the Caribbean Tourism Organization or the Caribbean Tourism Development Company. That reported PR spend, combined for the six-month period ending June 30, 2017, totaled $550,846.

Spend from most to least:

Bahamas

The government of The Bahamas shelled out a whopping $1,223,579.48 for the six-month period ending February 28, 2017 to Hogan Lovells US LLP at 13th Street, N.W. Columbia Square Washington, DC for “legal and government consulting services.” No further details were provided.

British Virgin Islands

The government of the British Virgin Islands shelled out $518,301.91 for the six-month period ending January 31, 2017 to Daniel J. Edelman, Inc. of 200 East Randolph Drive Suite 900 Chicago, IL 60601 for “public relations and stakeholder engagement activities in the United States to promote, position, launch and manage the 100 LIVES Project.”

The government also paid $50,000 for the six-month period ending March 31, 2017 to Hyman, Lester of 3826 Van Ness Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20016 for lobbying and legal and consulting services.

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands paid Coyne Public Relations, LLC of 5 Wood Hollow Road, Parsippany, NJ 07054 $204,836.00 for the six-month period ending February 28, 2017 for “public relations and media outreach services” including the development of press materials, media relations, programs, newsletters, and speech writing. At the same time, the government also paid Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP of Four Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA $203,226.36 for the six-month period ending January 31, 2017 to lobby on its behalf. This included legislative and public policy advice on the country’s education and advocacy program in the United States.

Trinidad & Tobago

The twin-island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago paid $600,000 for the six-month period ending April 30, 2017 theGroup DC, LLC of 1730 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20006 for lobbying and consulting services, including analysis and strategic counsel regarding the United States policy and political developments of concern.

Jamaica

Jamaica paid up $474,194.47 for the six-month period ending March 31, 2017 to Finn Partners, Inc. at 301 E. 57th Street New York, NY for “public relations” that included “business, grassroots, and business outreach services.”

Dominica

Dominica’s government shelled out $95,000 for the six-month period ending May 31, 2017 to Mercury Public Affairs, LLC of 300 Tingey Street, Washington, DC 20003 for strategic consulting services.

Aruba

For the six-month period ending June 30, 2017, the government of Aruba spent $84,747.07 with Hills Stern & Morley, LLP of 1850 M Street, NW, Washington, DC for “public relations” which included the company assisting the government in arranging meetings and speaking engagements with civic groups while also monitoring and advising on issues and developments affecting Aruba’s economy and trade.

Antigua & Barbuda

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda spent US$32,604.68 with Hogan Lovells US LLP of 13th Street, N.W. Columbia Square Washington, DC for legal and lobbying services for the six-month period ending February 28, 2017. According to the FARA filings, Hogan Lovells represented the government with an application to the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation, to have the U.S. Secretary of Education determine that the island’s medical program accreditation standards are comparable to those used in the United States.

St. Barts

The French Caribbean island of St. Barths paid up $27,185.58 for the six-month period ending January 31, 2017 to Lou Hammond & Associates, Inc. of 900 3rd Avenue, Suite 401 New York, NY 10022 for “public relations.” This included media visits, press releases, and monitored media posts in the United States and Canada on behalf of the island.

Barbados

Barbados had the least spend of any of its neighbors, spending just$890 for the six-month period ending February 28, 2017 with Berliner Corcoran & Rowe, LLP of 1101 17th Street, NW Suite 1100 Washington, DC for “consulting services … related to a potential bilateral investment treaty with the United States and on an opportunity with Argentina to have a Barbados honorary consul.”

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