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US election: Trump signals he is prepared to leave White House

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/embed/p08zrrmz/55096851

“It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede,” said President Trump

Donald Trump has said he will leave the White House if Joe Biden is formally confirmed as the next US president.

Answering reporters’ questions for the first time since losing the 3 November vote, Mr. Trump insisted, however, that “this race is far from over”.

He has refused to concede, citing unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

Individual states are currently certifying their results, after Mr. Biden was projected as the winner with an unassailable lead.

The Democrat leads Mr. Trump 306 votes to 232 under the electoral college system used to pick US presidents.

The tally is far more than the 270 needed to win, and Mr. Biden also leads the popular vote by more than six million.

Electors will meet to formalise the result on 14 December, with Mr. Biden due to be sworn in as president on 20 January.

The president and his supporters have lodged a number of legal challenges over the election, but most have been dismissed.

Earlier this week, Mr. Trump finally agreed to allow the formal transition to President-elect Biden’s team to begin, following several weeks of uncertainty.

The decision means Mr. Biden is able to receive top security briefings and access key government officials and millions of dollars in funds as he prepares to take over on 20 January.

Why is Trump refusing to admit defeat?

Following a video call with military personnel on the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, Mr. Trump faced questions from reporters at the White House.

US President Donald Trump participates in a Thanksgiving video teleconference with members of the military forces at the White House in Washington, 26 November 2020
Mr. Trump spoke with members of the US military – at home and abroad – via video link for the Thanksgiving holiday

He was asked whether he would agree to leave the White House if he lost the electoral college vote. “Certainly I will, certainly I will and you know that,” he said.

However, the president went on to say that “if they do [elect Joe Biden], they made a mistake”, and suggested he may never accept defeat.

“It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede because we know there was massive fraud,” he said, an allegation he has stood by without offering proof.

Mr. Trump did not say whether he would run for president again in 2024, or whether he would attend Mr. Biden’s inauguration.

The normally routine process of transitioning from one president to another and confirming the result has been derailed by President Trump’s refusal to concede.

Under the US electoral system, voters do not directly choose the next president. Instead, they vote for 538 officials, who are allocated to American states based on their population size.

The electors almost always vote for the candidate that won the most votes in their states, and although it is possible for some to disregard the voters’ pick, no result has ever been changed this way.

Mr. Trump also said that he was planning to hold a rally in Georgia on Saturday in support of two Republicans in key runoff elections that will decide which party controls the Senate.

What’s the latest from Biden?

The president-elect celebrated a quiet Thanksgiving on Thursday, as coronavirus cases in the US continue to rise.

“This year, our turkey will be smaller and the clatter of cooking a little quieter,” Mr. Biden and his wife Jill said in an op-ed published by CNN. “Like millions of Americans, we are temporarily letting go of the traditions we can’t do safely.”

“It is not a small sacrifice. These moments with our loved ones – time that’s lost – can’t be returned. Yet, we know it’s the price of protecting each other and one we don’t pay alone.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/embed/p08zmkyp/55096851

“We’re at war with a virus, not with one another”: President-elect Biden calls on Americans to unite against Covid-19

Earlier this week, Mr. Biden urged Americans to hold smaller Thanksgiving celebrations, saying that “I know that we can and will beat this virus”. He has said that tackling the pandemic would be his main priority when he takes office.

Mr. Biden has already announced his choice of top officials for when he takes over from Donald Trump in January and said that co-operation from the White House over the transition had been “sincere”.

Speaking in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday, he said that America “won’t stand” for any attempt to derail the election. Americans “have full and fair and free elections, and then we honour the results,” he said.

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Retrogression is upon this UK Overseas Territory

Retrogression is upon this UK Overseas Territory

November 20, 2020

Since our last publication of April 3, 2020, we have prepared and made attempts to publish, the existing, ‘dire’ circumstances at the time notwithstanding. These were seriously aggravated by a Government which we must say surprisingly if not disappointingly showed the kind of ignorance or badness, which must disturb even some among them. With that said, we still leave that to the saying, ‘who the cap fit, let them wear it’!

There is much more we hope to cover that may well be more important than the scant items covered in this resurrecting issue, though there is much that must fall in place for this to continue. However, as we go forward striving to go ‘up’ where we had hoped to be as far back as 2005, we will get there.

Lord Ashcroft wrote about St. Helena in May, an article captioned, “The damage that even the threat of the virus is wreaking on St Helena”, which at the time had already highlighted some of the poor attitude and actions of the Montserrat government. Some may recall what exposed how ignorant or uninformed the Government (some of them, since nothing here, is intended to indict ‘all’ of them), when on more than one occasion, by whispers at press conferences, they would make statements that are actually contrary to what really is, or may have been published.

St. Helena up to that point did not have a case of COVID-19, and they took action, early, to ensure that did not happen, which caused them to take on such as the cancellation of St Helena Day celebrations on May 21, which as Ashcroft writes “morale on the island is said to be low. That’s entirely understandable: after all, how many setbacks can one small island take?”

On March 28, 2020, when the question of financing was put to the Government of Montserrat (GoM) at a virtual press conference, it was done with the knowledge/information that St. Helena, Cayman Islands, and indeed other OTs, had already received the £2.5 million pounds. St. Helena had already closed its borders. (Our leaders made fun at a later press conference when this was noted to them, that “nobody goes there anyway, etc.”) They seemed ignorant that the airport St. Helena now has serves their tourist industry that they rely. Montserrat should have shared that experience, if not 16 years ago, certainly four years later, i.e. 12 years ago. We were reminded of that eight/nine years ago., Today, where are we? So, is this news to anyone? Let’s talk about it!

It is still a mystery, to us here anyway, how and why there was placed before our Legislative Assembly a ‘deficit’ budget; maybe we should call it a decrepit budget. One explanation heard is that there was the anticipated shortfall in revenue because of COVID-19. Was that whole matter discussed with DFID/FCO? If so why, or where is the pressure that the Premier/Minister of Finance mentioned about being questioned, ‘how are we going fix the “problem?”

For information, Montserrat’s end of year is March 31. The government received UK approval that $79.6 million was allocated, with the additional $8.5 million added few days later; with a promise that there will be further sums after discussions would take place on submissions going further. In normal times DFID usually make good to cover needs re the budget as the year progresses. Was our Premier etc. not familiar with all those ‘sham’ (no unkindness intended here) budgets over the years he served as Minister? Maybe we should not be surprised when he stated in February this year about their ‘just observing, learning’ the discussions at the FAM talks! “…most of the sessions and the only reason why we did that is because we want to be familiar with how it works;

Somehow, hearing so little from Governor Pearce since he had recanted, rather, clarified what he said, ‘we shouldn’t be talking finance but rather concentrate on the health issues’, there seems to be something amiss with conversations with FCO/DFID. That new arrangement which began ten years ago, was what caused the Governor to be able to say regarding the above on March 28, the UK is about to settle the budget allocation and will also provide additional funds…etc.

Indeed, at least two months ago UKG had already mentioned the support they would be providing for their own existence that naturally (without saying so) included the OTs.

It has been a year since the new government and it certainly was mystifying to hear the Premier admitting that all they will be doing in the near future going forward, is continue and complete the projects began by the previous government, above asking for cooperation from a hurt and disgruntled people. The questions to follow are obvious, but they will be exposed. Hopefully by then there will be answers to the questions with admissions and at least explanations.

Of grave concern is how the relief moneys allocated by UKG for the pandemic assistance with more to come as needed, why some businesses and individuals did not benefit from the funds provided by the UKG to provide needed relief, that would save much problems later on.

Unfortunately, very early after the laisse faire approach, when it became urgent to recover and change, it was that same attitude that created hardship in how they managed what they could have avoided. They did not understand the demography and the lives of the people, nor were they familiar with the status of the not so well off. Listening to the ‘uncaring’ statements spouted in all places such as the Legislative Assembly was unbearably sickening. And to think it continues. That is more than sad. Perhaps they do not know or probably do not care but all those actions and lack of plans going forward hurt the island and the people therein. The one word that is matching is ‘retrogression’.

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United States: It Is Time for Reparations

COLONIALISM REPARATION

SO THAT COLONIALISMS OF YESTERDAY AND TODAY ARE NOT REPEATED TOMORROW

Published: 19 November 2020

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Colonialism Reparation welcomes that in the United States of America reparations are gaining traction and invites all the other federal, state, and local administrations to take action in the same direction.

On March 1, 2019, giving continuity to the action of Congressman John Conyers Jr. begun in 1989 and those who preceded and accompanied him, congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee introduces the bill 40 to establish a Commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans, holding during the legislature a public hearing and gathering the support of 162 representatives, 20 senators, and the United States Conference of Mayors.

On January 14, 2020, in New Jersey senators Ronald Rice and Sandra Cunningham introduce the bill 322 to establish a Reparations Task Force to conduct research and develop reparatory proposals and recommendations.
On February 7, 2020, in Maryland delegate Wanika Fisher introduces the bill 1201 to establish a Reparations Commission to develop and administer a program for the provision of compensatory benefits to the descendants of individuals enslaved in the State.

On February 13, 2020, in Illinois representatives William Davis and Carol Ammons introduce the bill 5024 to establish an African descent-citizens reparations Commission.

On February 21, 2020, in California assemblymember, Shirley Weber introduces the bill 3121 to establish a Task Force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans, which is approved and enters into force on September 30, 2020.

On June 5, 2019, the City Council of Evanston in Illinois adopts resolution 58 launching a local reparations process with the creation of a dedicated Subcommittee, a dedicated fund, and the first reparatory measures.
On June 17, 2020, the City Council of Chicago in Illinois adopts resolution 694 launching a local reparations process with the creation of a dedicated Commission.

On August 10, 2020, the City Council of Burlington in Vermont adopts resolution 7.06 launching a local reparations process with the creation of a dedicated Task Force.

On August 18, 2020, the County Commission of Kalamazoo in Michigan adopts resolution 1917 launching a local reparations process.
On October 20, 2020, the City Council of Carrboro in North Carolina adopts resolution 382 launching a local reparations process.

On October 20, 2020, the supervisor of San Francisco in California Shamann Walton presented the ordinance 201190 to launch a local reparations process.

Colonialism Reparation welcomes that in the United States of America reparations are gaining traction and invites all the other federal, state, and local administrations to take action in the same direction, keeping the electoral promises made.

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Attorney-Jean-Kelsick

Justice Morley spotlighted for ‘recusals’

Recusal is not a word heard often in Montserrat and probably not before the turn of the century, and probably only once before recent occurrences. Now from mid-2019 to now.

Justice Iain Morley

From then there has been a spathe of ‘recusals’ of High Court judges in the Montserrat High Court of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court mostly involving His Lordship Justice Iain Morley.

We thought it might be beneficial to you at this time to know the general meaning of the word, ‘recusal’: “To disqualify or seek to disqualify (a judge or juror) from participation in the decision in a case, as for personal prejudice against a party or for personal interest in the outcome.” In another but similar meaning: (law) the disqualification of a judge or jury by reason of prejudice or conflict of interest; a judge can be recused by objections of either party or judges can disqualify themselves.

We recall in our welcome to Mr. Morley via an exclusive interview regarding his tour of duty with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC). https://www.themontserratreporter.com/new-high-court-judge-iain-morley.

Attorney Warren Cassell

The interview sought his reaction to the welcome he received in Montserrat, and “generally how he plans to address his work; his vision for the court in Montserrat; in light of the new vision that the Hon Chief Justice has been encouraging – equal justice and fairness.”

It is Justice Iain Morley who has now found himself a subject of recusals over the past year.

Justice Morley was the first installed for the trial, The Queen vs David Brandt long-standing case from 2015, and once again set for a hearing some time next year. Morley recused himself willingly, but his replacement, retired Justice Gareth Evans QC flown in from the UK to replace him after revoking Brand’s bail and remanding him to prison, was later also requested Attorney Dr. David Dorsett to recuse himself from the Brandt matters.

He refused to be recused in a 90-clause-long Ruling which was delivered within half an hour of the end of the hearing. See – https://www.themontserratreporter.com/second-judge-off-the-brandt-trial/

Judge Gareth Evans, QC

Brandt’s Attorney had applied to the Court, after Judge Morley had been recused from the case, for Judge Gareth himself to be recused as well.

Meanwhile, over the years, Morley has by virtue of being the judge assigned to Montserrat in most high court matters civil and criminal has seen several of his judgments ending before the East Caribbean Court of Appeal, much ending disfavorably to him.

Last year Keston Riley had several outings before Justice Morley and in matters evolving therefrom.

As the appellant, Keston Riley, was charged with and pled guilty to fraudulent evasion of duty, following which he was sentenced by the learned judge Morley to a term of imprisonment. Riley successfully appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeal, following which the Public Prosecutions sought to appeal to the Privy Council.

Upon his release from prison, Riley had filed a fixed date claim seeking damages and declaratory relief from the State, flowing from the circumstances surrounding his successful appeal against conviction. The damages claim was set down for hearing before the same judge who presided over Riley’s criminal matter.

In light comments by the judge Morley and prior involvement in the criminal matter, Riley’s Attorney Warren Cassell applied to the learned judge to recuse himself from hearing the damages claim on the basis that he would not bring an impartial mind to bear on the matter. He refused to recuse himself from hearing the matter, at which point Riley appealed, alleging, in the main, that the learned judge erred in law by refusing to recuse himself.

The respondents being the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions applied to strike out the notice of appeal arguing that the grounds of appeal among other things that the grounds that the judge’s prior involvement in the matter and his remarks made in open court would not cause the fair-minded and informed observer to conclude that there was a real danger that the judge was biased.

The matter turned out an interesting judgment by the Court of Appeal which ordered Morley be recused, dismissed the application to strike out the appeal; allowing the appeal; setting aside the decision of the judge not to recuse himself; ordering that a different judge is to be assigned to conduct the hearing of the matter; awarding costs to the appellant to be assessed by a master if not agreed within 21 days.

Judge Morley would only this week accede to a request, challenging him to recuse himself in a matter, where Dunstan Lindsey of Baker Hill is involved before the court for a criminal matter stemming from words allegedly published of Henry Gordon and Ryan Kohli. The learned Justice Ian Morley was currently the adjudicating judge in this matter.

Following in or about the month of June 2020 Lindsey says he was charged with two offences of Criminal Libel alleging that “I committed libel against Henry Gordon the Prosecutor within the office of the DPP. The matter was eventually committed to High Court for trial and I appeared before Justice Iain Morley on at least three occasions for the management of the case.”

Attorney Jean Kelsick

On July 21 this year in support of an application for Justice Morley to recuse himself, Lindsey deposes in an Affidavit that the learned Justice Morley is a buddy of Crown Prosecutor Henry Gordon who is the virtual complainant in the criminal matter and one of the Claimant in the civil suit brought against the Applicant in the High Court.

He also deposed in paragraph 10 of his Affidavit that the learned Judge and Henry Gordon along with the Attorney for Henry Gordon were having dinner at a local restaurant. Moreover, Henry Gordon comes as a Prosecutor before Justice Morley on a regular basis.

According to the Affidavit by Lindsey in support of his application, the virtual complainant (VC) appears before the said Judge on a regular basis. Attorney Jean Kelsick (who also often appears before the Judge) is the Attorney-at-law for the said VC. A photograph with all three parties having dinner at a local restaurant was brought to the attention of the Applicant who is alleging apparent bias.

Judge Morley complied with the request in the face of a 44-clause response submitted by DPP Sullivan opposing Lindsey’s application. In his final clauses at clause 42 he said: “…It should be clear to this honorable court that [what] is being pursued by the applicant, in this case, is what can be considered as judge shopping… we invite this honorable court to dismiss the application with cost.”

In the next clause, he submits: “Prior involvement and knowledge does not disqualify a judge from hearing a matter. Critically, however, a judge must not predetermine or prejudge the matter or for or give the impression that he or she has formed a firm view adverse to the credibility of a party hearing the evidence.
“Finally,” the DPP said, “I remind this honorable court that by itself there is nothing wrong with the bench having dinner with the bar ad vice versa…”

Experienced lawyer Dr. David Dorsett, led on Constitution matters in David Brandt’s case

Then comes a successful application by David Dorsett on September 7, 2020, for Attorney Warren Cassell where Justice Morley has recused himself from the case of The Queen vs. Warren Cassell after hearing arguments from both the Attorneys-at-law representing the Crown and Dr. David Dorsett, Attorney-at-law.

Mr. Cassell is before the court after the same charge of Money laundering that was laid in 2007 was brought again 12 years later in May 2019.

Cassell was convicted in 2012 of the offence of Money Laundering under the 2010 Proceeds of Crime Act. 15 other convictions were quashed by the Privy Council in 2015 and the court of Appeal refusing to order a retrial stating that it was not in the interest of justice to retry Cassell. The money laundering conviction was quashed by the court of appeal after lawyers for Cassell argued that he could not be convicted under a 2010 law when the offence allegedly took place in 2007. This is because the constitution says that no person could be convicted under a law that was not in force when alleged offending act took place. The court of appeal ordered a re-trial and the privy council set aside the order for re-trial.

In an Affidavit in support of the Application for Morley’s recusal, Cassell cited some 14 grounds; Justice Iain Morley is the presiding judge on Montserrat and presides over all criminal and civil matters in Montserrat’s High Court; citing also the same grounds on which he recused himself in the David Brandt matter currently before the Court. Mr. Gordon also is a litigant in a civil matter in which I am the counsel; and associates and appears before him in numerous matters; Henry Gordon is a practising Attorney-at-law who regularly comes before the High Court Criminal division in his capacity as Senior Crown Counsel with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) being his immediate Supervisor.

He is also the Attorney-at-law who has appeared as Crown Counsel in this matter. Justice Morley has made unflattering remarks in relation to me in judgements. For example he described me as “a lawyer of moderate ability ” in a preliminary ruling in this matter dated on or about the 25th of October 2019.

[11] Nonetheless, the said Justice Morley indicated that he would be minded to recuse himself but was never requested to do so.

In announcing this latest recusal in Court Order dated 13th November, 2020 Dr. Dorsett informs that the Director of Public Prosecutions has now brought the single charge of Money laundering 12 years later (different from the single charge of Concealing the proceeds of criminal conduct contrary to section 33(1)(a) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 1999, CAP 4.04, by virtue of an indictment filed on or about 19th of May 2020.

Dr. Dorsett says, “Given the recusal of Justice Morley, a new judge will have to be appointed as the trial judge in the matter.”

The Order also stated that a “tentative trial date is set to commence on 19th April, 2021, during a four-week trial window.”

It is already being speculated that from other statements in the Order that because of the British interest in these trials (to include Brandt’s) another British Judge will be foisted in for the trials.

In an interesting note regarding our ‘recusal’ observations, DPP Sullivan notes, contrary to our thought that recusals have been rare, he submits: “It is my experience that full recusal applications are routinely made to trial judges both in criminal and civil matters.

DPP Oris Sullivan

Obviously there may be cases where out of common courtesy such as when material that may be potentially scandalous or highly embarrassing to the judge or where really serious allegations are made against a trial judge that the “letter “route raising the matter, would be kinder and preferable and allow a judge to recuse himself without litigation or disclosure of his wrongdoing. Otherwise, such applications, particularly in criminal matters where a trial date is imminent are invariably dealt with as expeditiously as the circumstances allow in respect of his case.

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visa-trave

COVID-19 forces Visa-styled requirements to enter Montserrat

by Bennette Roach

As the Government of Montserrat continues to remove and amend COVID-19 suppression restrictions, and the phased reopening of the economy continues, a release from the Government Information Unit (GIU) advises:  

“As of Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 5:00 a.m. the maximum number of persons allowed to gather in a public place will increase from 10 to 50.

  This is outlined in the ‘Public Health (COVID-19 Suppression) (No.4) Order, S.R.O. 44 of 2020’ which will be in effect until August 4, 2020.

Additionally, the categories of persons allowed to travel to Montserrat now “includes a person” who owns a habitable house or home in Montserrat.  However, persons traveling to Montserrat must register by completing and submitting the declaration form on the government of Montserrat website (www.gov.ms) no later than three days of their intended date of travel.”

Aircraft owners have seemingly (non-criminalised) responsibilities

The owner of an aircraft or vessel must also ensure that the person has been granted approval to travel to Montserrat prior to departing. All persons arriving on Montserrat must self-quarantine for 14-days commencing on the date of arrival.

The Order also “makes provisions for child care centers, nursery schools, primary schools, secondary school, tertiary school, and any other school(s) to open.”

“However, the Head or owner of the school must submit a sanitisation plan to the Minister of Health for approval, before opening.  The Head or owner of the school must also ensure that staff, students and customers practice social distancing, and comply with any direction or guideline issued by the Minister of Health regarding cleaning, sanitisation, and other precautions. Failure to comply with the directives from the Minister of Health may result in the school being ordered to close.

“As it relates to the operations of gyms and sports clubs, these entities will be allowed to offer services, but must first submit a sanitisation plan to the Minister of Health for approval, before opening.  Once approved to operate, owners of gyms and sports clubs must ensure that customers maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from each other and must comply with any direction of guideline from the Minister of Health regarding cleaning, sanitisation, and other precautions.

“Although the six feet physical distance is specified for gyms and sports clubs, the Order also makes provisions for ‘contact sporting’ activities but individuals must comply with the restriction on the number of persons allowed to gather.” 

The release concludes that all other measures which were previously announced guiding the operations of businesses such as restaurants, cookshops, barbershops, beauty salons, bars, spas and bus, and taxi operators still remain in effect.

For those so able, the full S.R.O may be downloaded at http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/SRO-44-of-2020-Public-Health-Covid-19-Suppression-No.4-Order-.pdf

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Breaking-news-Brandt

Brandt released from remand and back on bail

by Bennette Roach, London.

Bail Revoked, Brandt on remand, jailed, until? Was the headline in the TMR’s publication of July 5, 2019,  which began, “This lingering high court criminal matter has been described on Tuesday in one report as follows: “The High Court of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has ordered another ‘interesting twist’ in the case the Queen vs David S. Brandt.”

David S. Brandt

– a trial is set to begin on November 18, 2019, but meantime the judge issues ‘directive’ to stop comments on the case.

Now, yesterday originating in Antigua:

The link from July 2019 at the beginning of this story gives an extensive and somewhat detailed as to Brandt was put on remand where he has been until the breaking news. The case has been somewhat a saga with several attempts including appeals to undo the remand order and which included a new judge eventually forced to recuse from the trial.

See here: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/brandts-trial-to-begin-february-28/ another rundown as to how the matter went before we would say, COVID-19 intervened and the opportunity to end the remand and save GoM some expense from the Lockdown that ensued. That supposedly ended altogether yesterday, ‘maybe’, while it was eased earlier, there continued a curfew just ended.

The conditions of this ‘new’ bail include, among others; Mr. Brandt is to restrict his residence to his home in Olveston; he must have no contact any female under the age of 18; He must not entertain or have any interviews on the case/matter; he must have no direct or indirect contact with any jurors once the juror list is published (and he is in possession).  

The trial is now scheduled to commence on September 28.

Listen below to ZJB – Radio Montserrat’s full report:

Dr. David Dorsett, Brandt’s attorney primarily in Constitutional matters

Attorney-at-law Warren Cassell who initially provided the breaking news information, informed, “Dr. Dorsett did an excellent job in representing him from Antigua at bail hearing which was via Zoom.”

In a comment, Cassell ‘imagined how upset the DPP will be when he hears the news…..” It was probably that which drew some comments, like “For all those who talking negatively about Mr. Brandt, call on God and ask Him to deal with us the way we deserve then sit back and look. NONE will be spared……remember that.” “…everyone needs to be treated fairly; ” ”a he axx that. Everyone needs to be treated fairly.”

“The vipers them already stirring up. Everyone deserves a Fair trial. When u guys coming for people come good. Have you facts and all your Ts cross. When you assuming no carry it a court. I wonder how the High Court that doesn’t have anything to do with Montserrat favoritism is doing anything hypocritical.”

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St. Vincent PM says recount votes in Guyana should be honoured

by staff writer

KINGSTOWN, ST. Vincent, Jun 11, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he remains satisfied that the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping “will not stand by idly and watch the recount which is properly done for the results to be set aside” in the disputed March 2 regional and general elections in Guyana.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is yet to announce officially the winner of the polls after the re-count exercise was concluded on Sunday in the presence of observers from CARICOM and other international organisations.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves appearing on radio programme (CMC Photo)

Both the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National unity (APNU) headed by President David Granger and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) headed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo have claimed victory.

The PPP/C said that the recount has shown that it won the election by more than 15,000 votes, while the APNU has claimed that a number of irregularities and anomalies took place during the voting exercise and has called on GECOM to make a statement on the matter.

Gonsalves, speaking on a programme on the state-owned NBC Radio St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said “we expect the CARICOM observer mission to deliver its report and we expect that what is the recount would be honoured and the Guyana Elections Commission would honour that recount and declare the winner in accordance with this recount”

He told radio listeners that “anybody who wants to challenge anything afterward can go to court but you have to declare the winner in accordance with the recount,” he added.

Gonsalves, who is expected to take over the chairmanship of CARICOM in July, said that there had been “no complaints” about the first two processes involved in the elections, namely “what happens before the election day, process of registration, putting the machinery in place for free and fair elections, secondly what happens on election day.

“: Nobody said it was a sham elections or irregularities were such that so as to undermine the efficacy of the poll. The third question which was outstanding is the counting of the votes.

“That’s why the first statement that (Prime Minister of Barbados) Mia Mottley made as chair of CARICOM…is that each vote must be counted, each vote has to be counted. Well, this is where you had the basis for the recount and the reason why it is an election and not a selection, you have to count the votes and you have to count them honestly”.

Gonsalves said that he is “satisfied that CARICOM will not stand by idly and watch the recount which is properly done for the results to be set aside

“St Vincent and the Grenadines stands firmly for democracy and reflecting the will of the people. That will tell you where we are. I don’t have to say anything straight and plain. CARICOM is not going to tolerate anybody stealing an election,” he said.

Gonsalves said he is aware of a number of opposition parties when they lose an election make a number of complaints.

“It is almost a boring repetition. We get the reports, follow the law and who win, win. When you take part in an election there is always a chance that you may lose and if you lose …you take your licks like a man,” Gonsalves said, telling listeners that he is a friend to both Granger and Jagdeo.

Coalition says a statement by incoming CARICOM Chair could undermine the legitimacy of the recount process

by STAFF WRITER

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jun 11, CMC –  The coalition –  A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC)  has expressed concern with statements made the incoming Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Dr. Ralph Gonsalves; describing it as a taking a “prejudicial” stance on Guyana’s elections.

The APNU+AFC via a press statement said they were “surprised” at  Gonsalves’s statement since the national recount process of votes cast in the March 2, General and Regional Elections, is still ongoing.

Gonsalves who is the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has urged the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to declare a winner of the elections based on the figures from the first phase of the recount.

The recount is comprised of four stages.

However, the APNU+AFC in its statement highlighted that they are “concerned as the incoming Chair of CARICOM, Dr. Gonsalves has chosen to pronounce on a process that is still ongoing, and proposes to a direct constitutional body in another CARICOM Member State in the execution of its duties.”

The coalition reminded that the four-stage process which is gazetted was agreed to by all political parties and CARICOM.

The first stage of tabulating the votes recently concluded and the second stage is now in progress. That is the compilation of a matrix of the tabulated results along with a summary of the observation reports, by the Chief Elections Officer.

According to the coalition, the reports will highlight the 7,929 instances of irregularities which directly affected the validity of 257,173 votes.

Additionally, it was also pointed out that the CARICOM scrutineering team has not yet submitted a report of its findings as mandated by the gazetted order. This will then be followed by a review of the reports by the Elections Commission and finally a declaration of the results by the Chairperson of GECOM after having studied the report.

With that, the coalition further reminded that “the ongoing process is significant and important not only for democracy in Guyana but the wider CARICOM.  It is expected that CARICOM leaders would refrain from any actions or utterances that could undermine the legitimacy of the process and its credible conclusion.”

Posted in CARICOM, Court, Elections, International, Legal, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

usatoday-logo-1

‘It makes no sense’: Feds consider relaxing infection control in US nursing homes

Marisa Kwiatkowski and Tricia L. Nadolny – USA TODAY – Published May 4, 2020 – reprint

The federal government is considering rolling back infection control requirements in U.S. nursing homes – even as the long-term-care industry’s residents and workers are overwhelmed by the coronavirus.

A rule proposed last year by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would modify the amount of time an infection preventionist must devote to a facility from at least part-time to “sufficient time,” an undefined term that lets the facility decide how much time should be spent. The regulation has not been finalized, but CMS last week defended its proposal, saying it aims to reduce regulatory burden and strengthen infection control.

Opponents of the change said the rule could leave nursing home residents more vulnerable to infection. They expressed concern, especially given the devastation COVID-19 has caused within long-term care facilities.

“It makes no sense at all – prior to a pandemic, but more so now during a pandemic – to roll back any of the necessary infection and control requirements and the federal regulations,” said Lindsay Heckler, a supervising attorney at the Center for Elder Law & Justice, a civil legal services agency in Buffalo, New York. “They should be strengthening these infection and control requirements.”

A patient is loaded into an ambulance at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash. Monday, March 9, 2020, near Seattle. The nursing home is at the center of the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Washington state. Ted S. Warren, AP

CMS has acknowledged that infection is “the leading cause of morbidity and mortality” in the nation’s 15,600 nursing homes. In its proposed rule, the agency said 1.6 million to 3.8 million infections occur each year in those facilities, with almost 388,000 deaths attributed to infections.

The coronavirus has put a spotlight on the problem. More than 16,000 long-term-care residents and staff have died of COVID-19, according to a USA TODAY analysis of government data. And nearly 97,000 residents and staff have tested positive for the virus. Those figures are an undercount, because testing has been limited and many states have not released full data.

CMS told USA TODAY its rule would allow facilities to determine for themselves the time needed for infection prevention and go above part-time when warranted. 

“This is a person-centered approach to care and would allow CMS to hold facilities accountable by having the infection preventionist onsite full time, especially in times of an outbreak,” the agency said in a statement last week. 

Search USA TODAY’s database: More than 4,000 nursing homes with COVID-19 cases

The changes were first proposed in July 2019, part of an ongoing effort by the Trump administration to reduce regulations for nursing home providers and suppliers. In addition to modifying the infection preventionist requirement, the proposed rule would also reduce the need for a facility-wide assessment from once a year to every other year and allow certain facilities to disregard a requirement that caps residents at two per room. CMS said the changes would reform “unnecessary, obsolete or excessively burdensome” requirements. 

CMS, which has the authority to change regulations on nursing homes without legislation, said the proposal is still under review. There were 1,731 comments on the rule – from nursing homeowners to advocates to residents and their family members – when the period for public input closed in September.

Some of the submissions are prescient given what has since occurred with COVID-19.

“Too many people have died and too many have suffered,” Alice Hedt, a former director of the National Ombudsman Center, wrote in a comment posted Sept. 24. “Minimizing the requirements of the Infection Preventionist when we know infections can be prevented and addressed will result in even more deaths and suffering. I personally think this person should be full time in every facility until the death rate from infection and unnecessary hospitalizations decline by fifty percent.”

Hedt, who spent 30 years as an advocate for long-term care residents, called the proposal “a slap in the face of residents who are more frail than any time in our long term care history.”

Experts say COVID-19’s devastating effect on people in long-term care is the result of a complex mix of factors, including the characteristics of the virus, the vulnerability of older adults, and those with underlying conditions, staffing levels, and national availability of testing and personal protective equipment. For some, the virus’ effect on nursing homes has renewed their concerns about the proposed rule.

“That softening of that rule I think, in retrospect, is exactly the wrong thing,” said Christopher Laxton, executive director of the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. 

Laxton, whose association represents about 5,500 medical professionals working in long-term-care settings, last year offered tepid support of the change, writing that his group didn’t object to the new language but that both terms “may be confusing and difficult to define.” He wrote that the amount of time spent on infection prevention should be based on real-life factors, such as the facility’s risk assessment, seasonal changes, and the presence of outbreaks. 

In an interview last week, he said it is “a different world than when we first commented on that proposal.” 

“At this point, sufficient time for an infection control preventionist in a building means full time,” he said. “And it means dedicated to a single building. And being there every day. That’s what sufficient means in this context. It may not mean that outside of a COVID pandemic. But it certainly means it now.”

The News-Journal has found that nearly a third of all coronavirus cases at long-term care facilities in the county are at the Opis Coquina Center nursing home in Ormond Beach. [News-Journal]/David Tucker]

‘Sometimes regulation hinders us’ 

Within the long-term-care industry, some are less convinced that leaving the rule as is, or even strengthening it, would make a meaningful difference in infection control. 

“Sometimes regulation hinders us from putting resources where we know they need to be,” said Dr. Gregory Johnson, chief medical officer of the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, the largest not-for-profit provider of long-term care and senior services in the United States.

He noted that only a small portion of the facility-wide assessment – which the proposed regulations would require to be conducted every other year rather than annually – focuses on infection control. The amount of work that goes into what can become a 300-page document is “colossal,” Johnson said, and there are other regulations that address infection control.

During the pandemic, he said, his organization has “far exceeded” even the part-time requirement. Johnson said they began implementing visitor restrictions and other preventative measures in early March. As of Sunday, the Good Samaritan Society said 26 of its 143 skilled nursing facilities had at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.

Johnson said the organization – which operates in 26 states – grapples with differing local, state, and federal regulations and tries to surpass them. 

Too often, Johnson said, the public hears only about the nursing homes that are “bad apples.”

“There are a whole lot of people out there in this business who are doing it because of a deep care and a deep commitment to mission,” he said. 

Combined, the CMS regulations serve as the basis for federal inspections that are conducted in U.S. nursing homes. Mark Parkinson, president, and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, said that the survey process is “broken on many levels” because it measures too many things and is too punitive.

His organization, which represents more than 14,000 long-term-care facilities that collectively provide care to more than 5 million people, said it supports quality infection prevention in facilities but is behind CMS’ proposed rule change. The organization said in a statement that “more oversight is not the answer to what has happened during the pandemic – it would reduce critical resources these centers need or even put them at risk of closing.” But it also said facilities can always do more.

“When we get through this, the entire country will need to have a serious discussion and reckoning about our infection control practices in health care settings and throughout society,” the statement said.

Opposition to proposed rule

People who oppose CMS’ rule change say COVID-19 has proven that strong infection control is paramount.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) has remained steadfast in its opposition to CMS’ proposed rule. The nonprofit organization said it was disappointed to see CMS acquiesce to the argument that compliance is overly burdensome and expressed concern that the federal government was trying to change the regulations, which have been phased in since late 2016, before their impact has fully been felt. 

“The COIVD-19 outbreak has really brought to light the opportunities and vulnerabilities of long-term care and the need for effective infection prevention,” said APIC President Connie Steed, who is the director of infection prevention and control at Prisma Health in South Carolina. “And it doesn’t matter if it’s COVID-19 or influenza or other concerning infections and outbreaks that can occur in these settings. A robust infection prevention control program is really imperative for these types of facilities.”

Search USA TODAY’s database of facilities with COVID-19 cases

Carol Buckner, a registered nurse who works in telehealth, said she has long had concerns about the quality of care at the nursing home in Rochester, New York, where her brother lives, The Pearl Nursing and Rehabilitation. The center, which until recently was named New Roc Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, is one of 88 nursing homes identified by CMS as a Special Focus Facility, homes that have chronic deficiencies and face additional government oversight.

“There’s not enough staff. They’re not trained. And there’s no direct oversight. I never see a nurse in there unless they’re passing meds,” she said. “And then you add COVID into this?”

The facility’s administrator did not respond to a request for comment.

Last year, Buckner wrote to CMS to object to the proposed rule change by noting that infection control is the “single most protective” measure a facility can provide its residents. She said she knows her brother’s home has an infection preventionist only because she once spotted a staff list on a visit and saw that title listed beside a person’s name. She does not know how many hours the employee devotes to infection control. 

She said the facility has not reported any cases of COVID-19, but she still worries. 

“I’m still nervous,” she said. “I mean I’m hoping they’re doing a stringent job with being masked. But I had asked the facility, ‘What can I help you with?’ They said if you have any long-sleeved men’s shirts they could put on backwards and wear like a gown. So obviously they’re telling me they don’t have enough PPE.”

Buckner said CMS needs to impose stricter regulations. 

“I’m hopeful things are getting better,” she said, “but I don’t know that things will ever improve until full regulations are really strengthened and shored up. They need to be much better than they are.”

Marisa Kwiatkowski is a reporter on the USA TODAY investigations team, focusing primarily on children and social services. Contact her at mkwiatko@usatoday.com, @IndyMarisaK, or by phone, Signal or WhatsApp at (317) 207-2855. 

Tricia L. Nadolny is a reporter on the USA TODAY investigations team. She can be reached at tnadolny@usatoday.com or @TriciaNadolny.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Health, International, Legal, News, Regional0 Comments

COVID19-Report-April-17

Active cases down one, with second person recovered

as of April 17, 2020

With the Royal Montserrat Police Force (RMPS) boasting and becoming it seems the most important agency in the fight against COVID-19, with the emphasis on containment in the unknown or the most serious method of transmission, they announce and give a breakdown of the 46 arrests they have made since the Health Act began to show its emergency powers.

Today, the Ministry of Health in its most recent release via the Government Information Unit says, “A second person has fully recovered from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Montserrat.”

The release explains confirmation by CARPHA after investigating “seven (7) local samples which included five (5) follow-up swabs from confirmed cases and two (2) suspected cases. These latest results mean that Montserrat’s active, on–island cases have now decreased to eight (8), and recoveries have increased to two.

Unfortunately, with the police saying the 46 arrests they have made between March 28 and April 14, it is bothersome that between those dates there were two newly confirmed cases of infected persons with the virus. More worrisome was, that the Premier in his statement and subsequent press conference on Good Friday said that the reason for imposing a complete shutdown as of April 12 from midnight was, being “…aware that not everyone carrying the virus, exhibit symptoms…the danger where persons who are asymptomatic are walking around affecting others.”

He provided no evidence for this and even denied that was what he said. That was preceded with the excuse, “The Ministry of Health is unable to undertake wide-scale testing at this time…” a position created by their slothfulness even up to that point, shown up in the March 28 press conference.

According to the police, the most arrests occurred on April 11, (Saturday after Good Friday) when 15 persons were arrested.  A further breakdown of the arrests during this period is as follows: 18 arrests were made between March 28 to April 8; three arrests on April 10; two arrests on April 2 and 4 arrests on April 13 and 14. Between March 28 and April 8, the police had to issue 12 warnings, which included two juveniles.

Sounding like a boast with no new cases, “All 46 arrests will advance to court on breach of the Public Health (COVID-19 Control and Suppression) (no 2) Order S.R.O. 22 of 2020 (those before April 13), and breach of the Public Health (COVID-19 Shelter in Place) Order 25 of 2020, for those arrested after 12:00 a.m on April 13.

While no matter the size of the population 46 arrests within that space of time, statistically is considerable, though the demography may be an important consideration. It would be interesting to learn the reasons being proffered by these persons for their suspected infractions. It may not surprise that some of those reasons may be the shortcoming of how the whole situation is being managed.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Featured, Government Notices, International, Legal, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

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