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Government condemns “fake news” after earthquakes hit Trinidad and Tobago

Government condemns “fake news” after earthquakes hit Trinidad and Tobago

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 22, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government Wednesday criticised people spreading “fake news” about the extent of the damage caused by the magnitude 7.3 earthquake that rocked the oil rich twin island republic on Tuesday.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has since expressed support to Trinidad and Tobago, adding that Havana is ‘ready to attend any emergency”.

Communications and National Security Minister Stuart Young said that while “thankfully we have had no reports of deaths and injuries” there were people, including opposition politicians, who had been using the social media network to disseminate fake news on the incident.

“I want to denounce all of those persons…circulating fake news,” Young told reporters at the weekly post cabinet news conference, adding that “this is very irresponsible, that is something that is unacceptable”.

Young warned that the “mischievous” actions of those irresponsible people “could have a very detrimental effect” on the population and urged ‘all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to act in a responsible manner and not to act in any illegal activity”.

Young said that several government buildings had been closed Wednesday as a result of the quake on Tuesday as engineers and other stakeholders undertake an assessment of the situation. He said the assessment is also being done by private building owners.

“I expect more reports of damages, “he said, adding that he hope the non-loss of lives would remain that way.

On Wednesday, the country was rocked by an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 and Young as well as the seismic Research centre (SRC) of the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) warned the population to be prepared for additional aftershocks in the coming days.

“I think we can expect aftershocks…the state will continue to monitor,” Young said, urging citizens not to take unnecessary risks” and should not crowd the various health centers and hospitals unless it is necessary..

He said the police were out in full force to maintain law and order and young appealed again to citizens to ‘continue to be each other’s keeper.

“At the end of the day we are all our brothers and sisters,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Company (T7TEC) said that nearly 100 per cent of its customers are “back on supply, with individual reports and small local outages being attended to”

It said that overnight the majority of those reports were completed as a result of additional crews being called out in all areas.

“Bearing in mind that aftershocks are expected, we want to share some safety tips with customers:

During or immediately after an earthquake we encourage customers to turn off breakers to protect appliances in the event of surges. When outdoor, stay away from poles and wires as that may be shaking, in case they fall. If poles or wires are on the ground treat as if they are live! Stay away and contact T&TEC.
“ Similarly, if trees fall on lines or poles, do not touch them as they can act as a conductor for electricity and electrocute or shock the individual.”

Posted in Earthquake, International, Local, Regional0 Comments

Trinidad hit by strong aftershock

Trinidad hit by strong aftershock

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 22, CMC – An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 rattled Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, sending an already frightened population out of building into the streets.

The Seismic Research centre (SRC) of the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), said that the quake, which occurred at 9.27 a.m. time, followed Tuesday’s major earthquake that registered 7.3.

Wednesday’s quake was located Latitude: 10.60N, Longitude: 62.87W and at a depth of 80 km.

It was felt 40 km east south east of Carúpano, Venezuela and 100 km north north east of  Maturín, Venezuela

“No tsunami warning or watch has been issued related to this morning’s 5.9 aftershock. Please ignore any “information” to this effect,” the SRC said in a statement.

Several building here have suffered structural damage as a result of Tuesday’s massive quake and the SRC has warned Trinidad and Tobago to be on the alert for many more aftershocks.

Several buildings have been damaged in the north-west including the capital, Port of Spain, causing two government offices to remain closed, one small house collapsed, about half a dozen cars crushed by falling walls.

There have been no reports of deaths or injuries as a result of the tremors

Posted in Climate/Weather, Earthquake, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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Venezuela And Trinidad Struck By Massive, 7.3 Magnitude Earthquake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manafort convicted on 8 counts; mistrial declared on 10 others

Michael Cohen says he worked to silence two women ‘in coordination’ with Trump to influence 2016 election

The Washington Post

Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen pleads guilty – makes deal

President Trump’s former attorney pleaded guilty Aug. 21 to charges related to his business dealings, according to those familiar with the matter.

August 21 at 5:50 PM

BREAKING: The president’s longtime personal lawyer, who pleaded guilty to eight violations of banking, tax and campaign finance laws on Tuesday, faces a recommended jail sentence of between four and five years. This story will be updated.

President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday in a Manhattan courthouse to eight violations of banking, tax and campaign finance laws in a federal investigation that scrutinized his business dealings and efforts to silence women with negative stories about Trump.

Cohen pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of making a false statement to a bank and two campaign finance violations: making an unlawful corporate campaign contribution and making an excessive campaign contribution.

“Yes, sir,” Cohen answered when the judge asked if he pleaded guilty.

Cohen — long the self-professed “fixer” for Trump — agreed to the deal after prosecutors claimed he risked more than a dozen years in prison, according to a person familiar with the matter.

His guilty plea follow a months-long grand-jury investigation into Cohen’s activities, including his taxi business, as well as a hush-money payment that Cohen arranged to an adult-film actress, Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had a tryst with Trump years ago.

Cohen has said he used a home-equity line of credit to finance a $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016, a month before the 2016 election.

Cohen is the fifth Trump associate to have pleaded guilty or be charged with criminal wrongdoing since Trump took office, including his former national security adviser, his deputy campaign chairman and a former campaign policy adviser.

Cable television played Cohen’s plea in an extraordinary legal split screen, as a Virginia jury convicted Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on eight counts in his bank and tax fraud trial.

Reminded that he had previously vowed to “take a bullet” or “do anything” to protect the president, Cohen told ABC in July that Trump is not his top priority. “To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty,” he said.

Last month, Cohen attorney Lanny Davis released an audio recording of a September 2016 conversation between Trump and Cohen in which they discussed a deal that a Playboy model made to sell the rights to her story of an alleged affair with Trump. The move was seen as a dramatic turn against Trump by the Cohen camp.

 
3:26
Trump’s many denials about knowledge of Michael Cohen’s payments

CNN aired audio from 2016 of Trump and Cohen discussing paying for a story about an alleged affair, after months of Trump and his advisers claiming ignorance.

Trump’s current attorney and advisers have said he has nothing to fear from Cohen.

“If he gets indicted for something that has nothing to do with the president, well, I feel sorry for Michael, although I don’t know how sorry I feel for him, because he was tape recording the world and deceiving them, including his client,” Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani told Fox News on Monday.

“But it has nothing to do with us,” he added.

Cohen’s plea agreement comes just one day after the New York federal court overseeing the seizure of Cohen’s records finished its review of which documents were protected by attorney-client privilege.

The case against Cohen stems in part from a referral by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and examined Cohen’s role in at least two episodes involving Russian interests, according to people familiar with that probe.

However, special-counsel investigators have indicated to federal law enforcement officials that the office does not require Cohen’s cooperation for its probe, according to two people familiar with their work.

The Cohen investigation first burst into public view in April, when FBI agents searched his New York office, home and hotel room. The searches — in which agents collected all of Cohen’s phones and electronic devices — set off panic in the White House that federal investigators were looking into Trump’s business dealings and communications with Cohen.

Since then, the probe has led to revelations about how Cohen sought to squelch negative stories about Trump and then leverage his access to the president.

After the raid, Giuliani acknowledged that the president had made several payments reimbursing Cohen for the $130,000 settlement with Daniels. Trump had previously denied knowledge of the payoff.

Meanwhile, leaked documents showed that Cohen was paid millions last year by companies such as AT&T and Novartis to provide advice about the new administration.

Cohen had been under scrutiny by federal prosecutors starting in the fall of 2017, when Mueller’s team came across some unusual financial transactions and loans Cohen had obtained.

The special counsel referred the matter to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, which has been looking for evidence of possible bank fraud, wire fraud or violations of campaign finance laws in Cohen’s business dealings, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation has examined loans related to Cohen’s taxi medallion business and whether any laws were broken as part of an effort to stifle negative stories about Trump when he was running for president, according to people familiar with the matter.

A central focus of the probe has been on matters that have nothing to do with Cohen’s most famous client but rather Cohen’s attempts to borrow substantial sums of money against his taxi medallions and evidence suggesting he lied to get the money. On more than a dozen loan documents, according to two people familiar with investigators’ work, Cohen dramatically inflated the value of his medallion business year after year, even as the industry suffered from the rise of ride-hailing businesses.

In May, a New York taxi operator and former Cohen business partner agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of a plea deal in a separate New York state criminal tax fraud case.

Cohen is also under investigation for defrauding the IRS and failing to report his earnings, according to one person familiar with requests for information about Cohen’s financial records.

Cohen worked for Trump for more than a decade, starting in 2007. The raid on Cohen’s office enraged the president, who claimed prosecutors were violating attorney-client privilege.

Cohen also argued that prosecutors had violated attorney-client privilege by seizing what his lawyers said could be thousands or more items related to his work as a lawyer.

It is unusual for investigators to seize the papers of an attorney, but in court filings federal prosecutors maintained that Cohen was doing very little legal work and that they were investigating his business dealings to search for evidence of potential crimes.

U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood appointed a former federal judge to act as a special master and review the seized items to assess what material must be withheld from investigators because it is covered by attorney-client privilege.

In the end, only a tiny fraction of the seized material was found to be covered by the privilege, according to court filings.

Although Cohen has for years been portrayed as a lawyer who handled some of the most important and sensitive issues for Trump, the president has insisted to associates in recent months that Cohen was not that closely involved with him.

However, Giuliani said in May that Cohen was routinely asked to handle issues that could cause personal embarrassment for Trump, such as the claim of an affair by Daniels.

Trump has denied the affair, but Cohen directed that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, be paid $130,000 just before the November 2016 election to ensure her silence, Cohen acknowledged this year.

“The agreement with Michael Cohen, as far as I know, is a long-standing agreement that Michael Cohen takes care of situations like this, then gets paid for them sometimes,” Giuliani said in May.

Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.

Manafort convicted on 8 counts; mistrial declared on 10 others

Manafort guilty on 8 counts of tax and bank fraud, with jury deadlocked on other 10

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud. The judge declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 charges.

August 21 at 5:58 PM

A jury has found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty on tax and bank fraud charges — a major if not complete victory for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as he continues to investigate the president’s associates.

The jury convicted Manafort on eight of the 18 counts against him and said it was deadlocked on the other 10. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on those charges.

Manafort stood impassively, his hands folded in front of him, and showed little reaction as the clerk read the word “guilty” eight separate times. As through most of the three-week trial, Manafort showed no apparent emotion as he looked at the six women and men who convicted him.

President Trump reacted to the verdict by denouncing Mueller’s investigation.

“It doesn’t involve me … it’s a very sad thing,” the president said after arriving in West Virginia for a political rally, adding that the Manafort case “has nothing to do with” Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,” Trump said. “Again, he worked for Bob Dole, he worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for many people. And this is the way it ends up.”


Paul Manafort’s attorneys, Kevin Downing, center, Richard Wetling, left, and Thomas Zehnle leave the Federal Courthouse after their client, Paul Manafort, was convicted on 8 counts of tax and bank fraud. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Manafort, 69, was found guilty of filing a false tax return in each of the years from 2010 through 2014, as well as not filing a form to report a foreign bank account as required in 2012. He was also convicted of two different instances of bank fraud, related to a $3.4 million loan from Citizens Bank and a $1 million loan from Banc of California.

The charges on which the jury deadlocked included three counts for not filing a form to report a foreign bank account, and seven for committing bank fraud or conspiring to commit bank fraud.

After the clerk read the verdict, Ellis asked the jurors if they wanted to keep their names confidential. The group responded, “Yes, sir.” Ellis then said he’d keep their names under seal, but that they could talk about the case if they desire.

The judge thanked the jury members for their service and they were dismissed.

Once the jury left the courtroom, Ellis asked Manafort to approach the lectern. The judge told Manafort that he would be ordering a pre-sentencing report and it was important for Manafort to “pay careful attention to the preparation of the document.” Manafort, in a black suit, listened as the judge explained the pre-sentencing process.

 
0:57
‘I feel very sad’: Trump reacts to Manafort guilty verdict

President Trump reacted on Aug. 21 to the conviction of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on eight counts tax and bank fraud charges.

Manafort’s possible prison sentence wasn’t immediately clear, but legal experts said he likely faces more than a decade in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.

The verdict comes as President Trump has stepped up his criticism of Mueller’s investigation, publicly criticizing it on a weekly basis. As the Manafort trial began, Trump called for the probe to be shut down immediately.

Manafort’s guilty verdict may strengthen Mueller’s hand as he continues to investigate possible conspiracy and seeks an interview with the president; an acquittal could have led to a broader effort by conservatives to shut down the special counsel’s office.

The 18 charges in the Manafort trial centered around Manafort’s personal finances, and had little to do with the special counsel’s mandate of probing Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with those efforts.

But the trial was the first to emerge from Mueller’s probe, and as such it marked a significant public test of his work.

The jury deliberated for four days before announcing its verdict.

Over two weeks of testimony, more than two dozen witnesses, including his former right hand man Rick Gates, as well as his former bookkeeper and accountants, testified against Manafort. They said he hid millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts that went unreported to the IRS, and then later lied to banks in order to get millions of dollars in loans.

His lawyers had argued that Gates, not Manafort, was the real criminal, pointing to Gates’ admitted lies, theft, and infidelity. Gates pleaded guilty in February to lying to the FBI and conspiring against the United States, and has said he hopes to get a lesser prison sentence by cooperating against Manafort.

Prosecutors, in turn, told the jury that the most compelling evidence in the case were the dozens of documents, many of them emails, showing Manafort oversaw the false statements to the IRS and banks.

Manafort called no witnesses at all, as his lawyer argued prosecutors had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to defraud the government or banks. Manafort’s lawyers repeatedly suggested their client might not have known the law.

The trial featured heated arguments at times — not between the government and defense lawyers, but between U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis and prosecutors. The judge repeatedly chided prosecutors in front of the jury, though at the end of the trial he urged the panel not to consider during deliberations any opinions he may have expressed.

Manafort faces a second trial in September in Washington D.C., on charges he failed to register as a lobbyist for the Ukraine government, and conspired to tamper with witnesses in that case. Manafort has been in jail since June as a result of the witness tampering charges.

On Tuesday morning, the jury sent a note indicating they were split on at least one count. At that time, Ellis said he might be open to accepting a partial verdict at a later point, but not yet.

Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing argued jurors should be given a new verdict form that would give them the option to be undecided on the charges. The “third option should be hung as to each count,” said Downing, who added that the jury “shouldn’t be misled” into thinking that a hung jury is inappropriate.

Prosecutor Greg Andres objected to that suggestion, saying such a form goes against the judge’s instruction for the jury to keep deliberating. The judge agreed, saying that if the jurors still can’t come to a consensus after he sends them back to continue deliberating, then he would “ask them to tell me where they stand.”

When the jurors were brought into the courtroom, Ellis told them only that if they failed to agree on a verdict, the case would be “left open and undecided,” and that there was no reason another 12 jurors could decide the case “better or more exhaustively” than they could. He told jurors not to yield their beliefs, but asked them to consider whether they stood in the minority, and if so, whether they should change their minds.

The president has repeatedly spoken out publicly in support of Manafort, both at the trial’s outset and during jury deliberations. On Monday morning, Trump tweeted that Mueller’s investigators “are enjoying ruining people’s lives and REFUSE to look at the real corruption on the Democrat side — the lies, the firings, the deleted Emails and soooo much more! Mueller’s Angry Dems are looking to impact the election. They are a National Disgrace!”

During closing arguments last week, Manafort’s lawyers accused the special counsel’s office of having gone on a fishing expedition to find evidence of financial crimes.

“Nobody came forward to say we’re concerned about what we’re seeing here. Not until the special counsel showed up and started asking questions,” lawyer Richard Westling said, suggesting the special counsel “cobbled together” information to “stack up the counts” against Manafort and overwhelm the jury.

“It is not enough that wrong information or even false information was given,” Westling said, telling jurors that to convict his client, they had to be convinced that Manafort intended to deceive banks and the IRS.

Downing, another defense lawyer, said the government was so desperate to charge Manafort they made a deal with Gates, who should not be trusted.

“To the very end, he lied to you,” Downing told the jury.

Prosecutors charged Manafort failed to pay taxes between 2010 and 2014 on millions of dollars in overseas bank accounts which he kept hidden from his accountants and the IRS. He earned that money working as a consultant for Ukraine’s then-president, Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych fled Ukraine in 2014 amid massive street protests, causing Manafort’s income to dry up, according to witnesses.

Prosecutors called Manafort’s bookkeeper and former accountants to testify against him. Those witnesses said Manafort misled them about foreign bank accounts he controlled. A former accountant for Manafort said she went along with falsifying information on Manafort’s tax return to lower the amount he would have to pay.

Other witnesses included employees of luxury clothing stores, a landscaper, and a home entertainment company employee, all of whom testified to the big ticket purchases Manafort made — paid via wire transfers from foreign bank accounts.

Witnesses said Manafort spent a small fortune at the time he was cheating the IRS — more than $1 million on clothes, including a $15,000 ostrich jacket, more than $2 million on home entertainment systems, and millions of dollars on homes for himself and his family. One witness said Manafort spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on landscaping, including a bed of red flowers in the shape of an “M” in the backyard of his Hamptons home.

Michael Brice-Saddler contributed to this report.

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

Massive earthquake rocks Trinidad and Tobago

Massive earthquake rocks Trinidad and Tobago

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

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

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

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

Take a look at some of the damage below. 

loopjamaica Massive 6.8 earthquake rocks Trinidad and Tobago

 

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Posted in CARICOM, Climate/Weather, Earthquake, Featured, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

This suppression of the ‘free press’ must end and be replaced

This suppression of the ‘free press’ must end and be replaced

August 17, 2018

Our pitch as we quote: “you don’t need formal censorship to strangle a supply of information.” This is more than relevant to us here in Montserrat, as the success to make The Montserrat Reporter ‘irrelevant’ continues to reign.

This past week the Editor – Caribbean News Now sent the following ‘To our regional media colleagues’:

Many of you will have noted the recent editorial-writing initiative by The Boston Globe that has enlisted scores of newspapers across America proposing a coordinated response under the theme “The dirty war on the free press must end” to President Trump’s escalating “enemy of the people” rhetoric.

“While we may not face the same rhetoric as US media, domestic regional news outlets in particular do face politically motivated attacks, ranging from threats of defamation lawsuits (including criminal libel in some jurisdictions) to economic pressure by the threatened or actual withdrawal of government advertising, all of which leads to self-censorship that is inimical to the concept of a free press enshrined in most if not all national constitutions.”

The Montserrat Reporter over the years have always reported at regional media conferences as noted in the preceding paragraph. But, we have been exposed to politically motivated attacks which came initially from Ministers in the UK Government, but the matter was dealt with and remedial response placed in the hands of local (GoM), for advice and proposals as to how to remedy and change the situation.

This editor observed how our top public servants under the hoodwinked eyes of the political leaders diverted the requests and even the actual attempts by the UKG to deliver as they knew only too well their obligation and responsibilities, especially taking into consideration the Montserrat situation. Gradually and with increasing subtly the lack of interest in providing information (via independent media) aided by the economic pressure as described above, TMR was unable to near adequately meet its self-devoted duties to Montserrat, the ignorance to the detriment of Montserrat’s progress.

That grew worse ten years ago as the political directorate with a public service that didn’t need the encouragement, deliberately set out to kill the only independent media, in even more direct and through legislative actions. (We will mention that through the years TMR remained ahead and was more aware, being the ones who encouraged government to move into the digital area, having been there since 1996.)

We are now at the position after noting the damage being done by starving local media from barely adequately playing its role on Montserrat, for Montserrat and its part of the wider region and the world. We are more than ever in a situation where we can say, that the country through its leaders has become more than guilty of preventing us from carrying out the solemn role of the press, quoting from authority, “to inform the public and serve as watchdogs over our governing bodies — exposing injustices, corruption and deceit before such behavior can destroy democracy.”

Believe it or not they have been led with blinkers, ignoring to their own detriment that, as one newspaper, , concurring with the many other newspapers, “the free press is more important than at any other period in our country’s history.” (See last week’s De Ole Dawg on newspapers – https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-11-a-good-newspaper-is-the-peoples-college/

It cites: “As dutiful citizens trying to stay informed, we are bombarded constantly by false and misleading reports posing as “news” on social media. The increasing inability of the populace to accurately decipher truth from fiction in this steady stream of content that almost seamlessly mixes truth and lies is less about the gullibility of the people and more about the sophistication with which purveyors of disinformation have finely tuned their craft.”

“We propose to publish an editorial on August 16 on the dangers of the administration’s assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date,” The Globe said in its pitch to fellow newspapers.

The idea as the Globe expected differing views from the editorials, “but the same sentiment: The importance of a free and independent press.”

We were late in meeting the 16th deadline but support Caribbean News Now who had promised to join this effort by publishing an editorial highlighting the different but equally important issues faced by regional media.

This was, “an in invite to regional publications to collaborate this respect,” CNN wrote.

Posted in Editorial, International, Local, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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Three will leave to pursue Chevening Scholarship

L-R: Miss Jamiel Melissa Greenaway, Miss Tanisha Christopher and Miss Deidre Allen

The Governor’s Office is pleased to announce that Miss Jamiel Melissa Greenaway, Miss Tanisha Christopher and Miss Deidre Allen have been awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship for the 2018/19 academic year.

Miss Greenaway of the Attorney General’s Chambers will be studying for a LLM in Banking and Finance Law at Queen Mary University of London.

Miss Christopher of ZJB Radio will be studying for a MA in Global Communication and Development at Loughborough University in London.

Miss Allen who is based at Environmental Health will be completing a MSc in International Development – Envirionment Climate Change and Development at the University of Manchester.

His Excellency the Governor, Andrew Pearce, who met all three scholars at the Governor’s Office earlier today said:

“I’d like to offer warm congratulations to Jamile, Tanisha and Deidre on being awarded the Chevening Scholarship this year. This island has been sending scholars to the UK to study since the 80s and this is the first time we have received three in one year. Montserrat has a lot to offer, including its bright and talented young people and the three of you are evidence of that that legacy. You all do your family, friends and the rest of the country proud. Congrats once again.”

The Chevening Scholarship scheme is the UK Government’s global scholarship programme, funded by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations. They are geared to students with at least first degrees enabling them to study for Masters programmes or equivalent and who show the potential to become future leaders and decision makers in their home countries.

Posted in Education, International, Local, News, Regional, Youth1 Comment

Dominica Opposition party wants answers on Ross University departure

Dominica Opposition party wants answers on Ross University departure

While St. Vincent PM says no blame should be afforded to his regional colleagues on Ross University

ROSEAU, Dominica, Aug 14, CMC – The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) is calling on the Dominica government to make public the recent 25 year agreement it signed with the US-owned Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) that still allowed for the school to be relocated in Barbados.

“Given the apparent support of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit for the relocation of Ross University to Barbados, the people of Dominica have a right to full disclosure of the 25-year agreement that allowed this to happen without notice. We need to know what are the unmet government obligations under the agreement that allowed Ross to relocate without breaching the agreement,” the UWP said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Skerrit announced Ross University, which had been forced to relocate its operations to St Kitts and the state of Tennessee in the United States following the passage of Hurricane Maria last September, would be leaving the Eastern Caribbean nation after 40 years.

His announcement was followed by a press conference in Bridgetown where Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and the president Adtalem Global Education and chief executive officer at Ross University,  Lisa Wardell, announced that Bridgetown would be the new home of the American university by January 5, 2018.

The Skerrit administration said it had informed the RUSM that it could have resumed its operations on the hurricane struck island even before the start of the January semester in 2019.

The island’s ambassador to the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS), Vince Henderson, speaking on a radio programme last Tuesday night, read from a three-page letter Prime Minister  Skerrit had sent to the university in July indicating that plans were advanced for the resumption of classes in Portsmouth, north of here.

“It is my fervent hope that all things considered there will be a much earlier re-opening of the campus that has been indicated in your earlier communication and during your visit in April 2018,” Skerrit wrote in the July 9 letter to Wardell.

Opposition Leader Lennox Linton

But in its statement, the UWP said that after 40 years of serving as a major engine of economic activity in Dominica, “the Prime Minister found it impossible to negotiate even a phased withdrawal that would give the country at least 12 months to cushion the devastating blow and prepare for adjustments”.

It asked “what exactly does the agreement provide?”

The party said that the circumstances of the termination “allow us to conclude that the Prime Minister failed to deliver on the investment support and public infrastructure improvements that had to be addressed satisfactorily within the context of the agreement to facilitate a return of Ross. What exactly does the agreement provide?

“There was a particular concern about accreditation by the Dominica Medical Board and the future of Ross in Dominica. What exactly does the agreement provide?”

It said that the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation in the United States  is authorized to evaluate the standards of accreditation applied to foreign medical schools and to determine their comparability to standards applied to medical schools in the United States.

“This determination of comparability of accreditation standards by NCFMEA is an eligibility requirement for foreign medical schools to participate in the US government’s student financial assistance program and is therefore extremely important to Ross.

“Yet, under the watch of the Prime Minister who made himself directly responsible for Ross, there has been no determination, for more than 10 years, that accreditation standards in Dominica are comparable to those of the United States,” the UWP said.

The opposition party said “instead of coming clean with the people of Dominica to facilitate learning the lessons that will avert a similar catastrophe in the future, the Prime Minister is busy confusing the issue and creating distractions.”

The party said it has also taken note that both the chief economic and political advisor to Prime Minister Skerrit are Barbadian Avinash Persaud and Hartley Henry, both of whom serve in the same capacity to Prime Minister Mottley.

“These advisors had the inside track on the challenges faced by Ross in Dominica and were no doubt asked to advise both Prime Ministers. What was their advice to their Dominica boss about facilitating Ross to stay in Dominica?

“What was their advice to their Barbadian boss about facilitating Ross to relocate to Barbados? Did they even advise their bosses that they should, as CARICOM partners, meet with the owners of Ross to work out the best way forward for Dominica – a CARICOM Single Market and Economy country that stands to lose the significant development benefits of a 40-year investment relationship?

“Only Barbados is benefitting from this glaring conflict of interest in which the same political and economic advisors serve masters in Bridgetown and Roseau,” the UWP said.

On Monday, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said he would not blame either his Dominican or Barbadian counterparts for the controversy surrounding the decision of the US-owned Ross University to re-locate to Barbados.

Speaking at a news conference, Gonsalves told reporters that he had received information “from different sources” and he does not believe that ‘anyone can reasonably blame Prime Minister (Roosevelt) Skerrit (of Dominica) of losing Ross University neither can one reasonably blame Mia Mottley of poaching Ross University.

“The matter which comes out stark to me first of all is that the business entity has no loyalty to any country or any community if that loyalty conflicts with what they perceive to be their immediate, medium term long term interest,” Gonsalves said.

No blame should be afforded to regional colleagues on Ross University

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Aug 13, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Monday said he would not blame either his Dominican or Barbadian counterparts for the controversy surrounding the decision of the US-owned Ross University to re-locate to Barbados.

Speaking at a news conference, Gonsalves told reporters that he had received information “from different sources” and he does not believe that ‘anyone can reasonably blame Prime Minister (Roosevelt) Skerrit (of Dominica) of losing Ross University neither can one reasonably blame Mia Mottley of poaching Ross University.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

“The matter which comes out stark to me first of all is that the business entity has no loyalty to any country or any community if that loyalty conflicts with what they perceive to be their immediate, medium term long term interest,” Gonsalves said.

Over the weekend, the Dominica government called for an end to the “unwarranted verbal attacks” against the Barbados government as a result of the decision of the university to re-locate after 40 years there.

“The decision to relocate to Barbados was a decision taken solely by Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). The relationship between Barbados and Dominica is longstanding and amicable. The people and Government of Barbados have always stood with us both in good times and most recently in difficult times,’ Skerrit said in a radio and television broadcast.

The Skerrit administration said it had informed the Ross University School of Medicine that it could have resumed its operations on the hurricane struck island even before the start of the January semester in 2019.

The island’s ambassador to the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS), Vince Henderson, speaking on a radio programme last Tuesday night, read from a three-page letter Prime Minister  Skerrit had sent to the university in July indicating that plans were advanced for the resumption of classes in Portsmouth, north of here.

“It is my fervent hope that all things considered there will be a much earlier re-opening of the campus that has been indicated in your earlier communication and during your visit in April 2018,” Skerrit wrote in the July 9 letter to the Adtalem Global Education president and chief executive officer at Ross University,  Lisa Wardell.

“I wish to assure you that all the arrangements we discussed for the accreditation for Ross by the Medical Board have been acted upon to meet the desired expectation,” Skerrit added.

Last week,Prime Minister Mottley denied there was anything underhanded by her administration into accepting the Ross University School of Medicine’s move to the island.

“Barbados came into the picture, only when, for Ross University, returning to Dominica for the start of the January semester in 2019, was not an option. This is not and has never been a case of poaching or enticing anyone away from Dominica,” she said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Skerrit announced Ross University, which had been forced to relocate its operations to St Kitts and the state of Tennessee in the United States following the passage of Hurricane Maria last September, would be leaving the Eastern Caribbean nation after 40 years. Hours later, Mottley and Wardell held a press conference in Bridgetown indicating that Barbados would be the new home of the American university by January 5, 2018.

In her statement, Mottley said while she could not speak for or on behalf of Ross, “the hands of the Barbados Government are clean in this matter”.

Gonsalves said Ross University was built in Dominica, recalling that “when Ross went to Dominica in 1978 …they started with 80 students, they would have had a hurricane in 1979…that did not stop them, they were just up and running, they came back.

“They have had other hurricanes. The Barbados government, nobody could tell Ross that there will be no hurricane in Barbados. Barbados has had hurricane in the past.

“They (Ross) have assessed where they are. The back to back hurricanes were probably the occasion, the spark for them having consideration for moving. But they would have assessed that their immediate, long term interest is no longer with Dominica”.

Gonsalves said the decision by Ross was “clearly” not based solely on the weather.

“Look, Grenada is outside the hurricane belt more than Barbados. They say Grenada is south of the hurricane belt but what happened in 2004. Ivan blow down the whole place including the medical school and they build it back better because they saw their long term interest being there in Grenada….”

Gonsalves recalled that when the off shore medical schools were first coming into the region, some Caribbean countries campaigned against them saying “they are bad for the medical profession.

“Now their thinking is clearly different,” he said, adding he is unaware if the medical professionals in Barbados “are yet convinced about having it (offshore medical school).

“It is going to be interesting to see how those medical doctors going to work with the medical students at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I am sure they would be working out all of those problems and I don’t want to be negative about that, but I come back to the fundamentals that you can’t reasonably blame Roosevelt Skerrit or Mia Mottley.

“The thing is this between the decision to leave somewhere and to go somewhere else is always some period of uncertainty and that has to be sorted out…and they decided they going to Barbados. But basically 40 years of Ross in Dominica, clearly they did not consider that to be of any importance to them,” Gonsalves told reporters.

 

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Education, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional, Science/Technology, Technology0 Comments

Government reviewing dress code

Government reviewing dress code

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Aug 15, CMC – Less than a week after the Jamaica government announced it had suspended the no sleeveless policy after reviewing the longstanding practice of prohibiting women wearing sleeveless attire from entry into government buildings, another Caribbean island is following suit.

The Antigua and Barbuda government said it had appointed Social Transformation Minister Samantha Marshall to undertake a comprehensive review of the policy that prohibits people from wearing certain types of clothing when accessing services at government departments.

Marshall said that her ministry has already started the process and is also holding discussions with other Caribbean islands to learn from best practices.

“In the past, we have used what is the old-time sort of thinking in terms of dress code. Right now, we have to appreciate that we serve the people and we have to accept that there are ways in which persons may present themselves,” Marshall told the OBSERVER Media.

She said that if an individual is not dressed in a vulgar manner, he or she should be allowed to conduct their business.

Marshall said that the present policy is not mandated by law, but is a rather a rule that was adopted a few years ago.

“We are in consulting stages, we are hoping that within two to three weeks we can have an initial report to present to the Cabinet and we are hoping very shortly that there will be a change in the policy,” Marshall said.

Last week, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness in a statement said he has formally given instructions for the suspension of the no-sleeveless policy and instructed a full review of government dress code practices.

“It has been found, that while the practice exists to prohibit persons who wear sleeveless from entering Government buildings through “dress codes” established within particular Ministries, Departments and Agencies, there is no law or official government policy on which these are based. “

“To ensure the formulation of a proper policy, in the medium term, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport has been mandated to formulate, subject to consultation, a government dress code policy that is aligned with modern considerations as well as the climatic realities of Jamaica,” the statement noted.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Columns, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Fashion, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

St. Kitts-Nevis P M promises no new taxes under current administration

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Aug 15, CMC – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Timothy Harris has promised that citizens will not have to worry about any new taxes for the time remaining in his administration’s term in office.

Team Unity – an alliance of the Concerned Citizens’ Movement, the People’s Action Movement, and the People’s Labour Party, led by Dr. Harris – assumed power in the February 2015 general elections. With another year and a half left in the current term in office, Dr. Harris said the focus is on alleviating poverty.

“No new taxes are contemplated during the life of this Team Unity administration. We believe that through appropriate management, through the consistent growth of the economy and through the necessary administrative efficiencies in tax collection, we believe in reordering our incentive programme, the government will be able to collect adequate revenues to finance the programmes which are required by the people,” he said on local radio programme ‘Straight Talk’ on Monday.

Prime Minister Harris said it was important to initiate programmes to assist the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. He assured that the government stood ready to help where necessary.

“I would say that, by and large, the programmes in which we are engaged are not frivolous programmes. The fact that people are poor and need help is a matter to which we must respond and we must respond appropriately,” he said. “It is a commitment of this government to do all that we can to alleviate poverty in the country because no one ought to be living demeaning lives and, at the same time, the government through the variety of social and other interventions would want to ensure that people can move from poverty into prosperity.”

The Kittitian leader reminded that alleviating poverty and economically empowering residents form part of the government’s good governance and prosperity agenda.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, International, Labour, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

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