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Dr. Perkins gets suspended prison sentence and victim compensation fine

Dr. Perkins gets suspended prison sentence and victim compensation fine


Dr Franklin Perkins

Dr. Franklin Perkins who was on February 23rd last year, arrested and charged, was found guilty on March 1, 2017, by nine-member panel jury. He was charged for indecently assaulting a nineteen-year-old female in his private surgery at Cudjoe Head, has been granted bail pending sentencing in March next year. Sentencing was carded for March this year.


Justice Ian Morley in the high court on Monday morning handed down the sentence by which the 67-year-old medical doctor was ordered to pay the victim $10,000 within three months in default of which he would serve a period of sixmonths in jail. In addition, he has been given an 18-month suspended prison sentence.


Judge Ian Morley

The medical doctor has to date denied that he committed the act insisting that it simply was a routine medical examination. Justice Morley said he considered the statements given by persons who spoke in support of Dr. Perkins during his sentencing, adding that he also received a letter from some members of the medical fraternity on Montserrat who expressed surprise and disappointment at the guilty verdict.


The judge gave an extended account of the case and according to him, this assault on the victim’s reputation and that of her family indicates an undercurrent of racism, sexism and snobbery in the Montserrat society.

More details will be published in a later issue of TMR when some matters will be highlighted in light of the judge’s ‘findings’ and adjudication.

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Reports say most Americans want legal status for Caribbean ‘Dreamers’

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28,, CMC – Reports here says most Americans want legal status for Caribbean and other “Dreamers,” but a few are adamant that they should be deported.

For Pav Sterry of Columbus, Ohio, legalizing any undocumented immigrants — even those who came as children without a choice in the matter, is just plain wrong, according to the New York Times.

dacaHuy Pham of St. Paul, Minnesota, believes any concessions for the so-called Dreamers   will unleash another tidal wave of illegal immigration while Daniel Cotts of Phoenix, Arizona regards “blanket amnesty” for them as unfair to foreigners who languish for years waiting to come to the US the legal way.

The paper says polls have shown that a large majority of Americans support protection for young Caribbean and other immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

Yet, there remains a slice of the American public for whom the idea of legalizing an undocumented immigrant has not gotten better with age, the Times said.

It said they do not dispute that most of the immigrants are eager and hardworking and did not choose their station in life. But for these voters, that is all beside the point.

“I think DACA recipients should be given a few months to get their affairs in order and return to their home countries,” said Sterry, 58, a former math teacher, referring to the Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that President Trump has ended but which could be revived or replaced in a congressional deal.

And to those who contend that the young immigrants would be marooned in a country they do not remember, Sterry said: “Parents and children can all go home together.”

Less than a quarter of American voters, and in some polls as few as one in 10, share Sterry’s beliefs, the Times said. But it said they show how the country’s conflicted emotions about undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants have stymied legislation  for more than a decade, polarizing the Republican and Democratic parties and most recently leading to the short-lived government shutdown that still did not settle the issue.

Their counterparts on the liberal side are the progressives who are upset with Senate Democrats like Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, for allowing the government to reopen without a guarantee of protection for DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, the Times said.

On the Republican side, it said moderates are feeling the pull of hard-line members  who want any legalization bill to incorporate significant changes to immigration enforcement, including measures Democrats generally oppose, such as funding for a border wall, a sharp reduction in overall migration, and a shift to merit-based admissions from a family-based system that critics call “chain migration.”

The Times said US President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed support for legalizing DACA recipients. On Wednesday, he said he was open to granting them a path to citizenship “at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years.”

But he, too, has felt the pull from people in his administration who objected to the program, which was created by former President Barack Obama in 2012, the Times said.

In announcing the end of DACA last September, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions called it  a “unilateral executive amnesty” that had encouraged more illegal immigration and “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.”

Voters opposing legalization were often well-informed about some of the details of the immigration debate, such as E-Verify, an electronic worker-verification system that many Republicans want to make mandatory for employers, and the diversity visa lottery,which admits up to 50,000 foreigners a year who must be vetted, but do not need any special skills or family ties to the United States, the Times said.

It said proposals to eliminate the lottery have been circulating for years.

At the same time, a few of those interviewed held to common misconceptions about the young immigrants. Some said the immigrants should not be allowed to become legal if they had not tried to do so before DACA was created. But it is almost impossible for people to secure green cards once they have been here illegally for several years, the paper said.

It said others expressed the sentiment that the immigrants’ parents should have gotten “in line,” though for many foreigners, a legal pathway into the US exists only if they have special skills or relatives in the United States who are citizens.

While these voters remain in the minority, support is not absolute among the majority who want to legalize the young immigrants.

In a CNN poll last week, 84 percent of those surveyed said they supported legal status for Dreamers.

But when given a choice between keeping the government open and passing DACA legislation, 56 percent of those polled said it was more important to keep the government open and only 34 percent said a legalization bill was more important, with the rest believing they were equally important or having no opinion, the Times said.

It said the lack of firm support for the shutdown most likely contributed to Democrats’ decision to end it on Monday.

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Browne at news conference

Opposition legislator files defamation lawsuit against PM

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jan 26, CMC – An opposition has filed a defamation lawsuit against Prime Minister Gaston Browne for allegedly making “outrageous’ statements against him in Parliament recently.

The lawsuit was filed on Thursday and Browne received the documents on Friday media reports here said.

Browne at news conference
Prime Minister Gaston Browne

Daniel, a member of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) through his lawyer, Charlesworth Taber, had claimed that Browne had made the statement during a crosstalk in the Parliament Building on January 2, after the Speaker of the House, Sir Gerald Watt, had suspended the sitting due to a disruption in electricity.

They said that the allegations reportedly made by Prime Minister Browne were therefore not under the protection of parliamentary immunity, since the Speaker had already suspended the session.

Daniel had given Prime Minister Browne a two week deadline to apologise indicating that failure to do so would result in the lawsuit for defamation.

The January 10 letter to Prime Minister Browne also made reference to the comments he allegedly made on January 6, while speaking on a radio station, which he owns.

Daniel said he had been further injured by statements made by callers and is asking the court for aggravated damages.

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Harmon press

Guyana beefing up surveillance along its borders

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jan 26, CMC – The Guyana government Friday announced plans to beef up surveillance along its borders after an illegal road that links Guyana to Venezuela in one of the border communities had been discovered.

“It is a large border and sometimes things happen before you can do something, but I want to give the nation the assurance that at the level of government and the security forces, we are taking some decisive steps,” Minister of State Joe Harmon told reporters.

Harmon press
Minister of State Joe Harmon (File Photo)

Guyana has in the past expressed concerns about the number of Venezuelans entering the country illegally, mainly in the gold mining areas close to the border.

Harmon said that the National Security Committee, which is chaired by the President, has been paying attention to the issues and more active surveillance of border communities will be conducted.

He told reporters that the borders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country are large and expansive and that people may have been able to construct the illegal roads because of the large land areas without being noticed.

Harmon reiterated that only the crossings that are identified as immigration points ought to be used.

Guyana and Venezuela have a long running border dispute with Georgetown indicating earlier this week that it is still awaiting word from the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres regarding a settlement of the matter.

In November last year, the two countries concluded another round of discussions in the presence of the presence of Guterres’s personal representative, Norwegian diplomat Dag Nylander, who was expected to submit a report to the Secretary general at the end of last year.

Guyana is seeking a final resolution to the decades-old controversy in which Venezuela contends the 1899 Arbitral Award, which delineated the border between the two countries is null and void.

On Thursday President David Granger told the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) that the Air Corps and Coast Guard would be upgraded to allow for continuous surveillance over our airspace, maritime space and land-space and to support search-and-rescue services to persons in distress.

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A German hacker offers a rare look inside the secretive world of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

A German hacker offers a rare look inside the secretive world of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

January 17 at 11:03 AM

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange looks out a window at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London in May. Assange has been confined to the embassy since 2012. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The passengers stepping off the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt, Germany, last month head straight for the passport-scanning machines that allow European residents to enter Britain quickly and without any human interaction.

A lone figure in a black hoodie and jeans breaks off from the pack.

“Too many biometric details,” says Andy Müller-Maguhn, eyeing the cameras on the timesaving devices.

He has come here, as he does most months, to meet with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the world’s most controversial purveyor of government secrets. For most of the past six years, Assange has been confined to the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, fearful that if he leaves he will be extradited to the United States for prosecution under the Espionage Act. Ecuador recently granted Assange citizenship, but British officials said he is still subject to arrest if he leaves the embassy.

Müller-Maguhn is one of Assange’s few connections to the outside world. He typically brings Assange books, clothes or movies. Once in 2016, he delivered a thumb drive that he says contained personal messages for the WikiLeaks founder, who for security reasons has stopped using email.

These visits have caught the attention of U.S. and European spy chiefs, who have struggled to understand how Assange’s organization operates and how exactly WikiLeaks came to possess a trove of hacked Democratic Party emails that the group released at key moments in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The three major U.S. intelligence agencies — the CIA, the FBI and the National Security Agency — assessed “with high confidence” that Russia relayed to WikiLeaks material it had hacked from the Democratic National Committee and senior Democratic officials. And last year, then-FBI Director James B. Comey said that the bureau believes the transfer was made using a “cut-out,” or a human intermediary or a series of intermediaries.

Exactly how the Russians delivered the email trove to WikiLeaks is the subject of an ongoing examination by U.S. and European intelligence officials. As part of their effort to understand the group’s operations, these officials have taken an intense interest in Müller-Maguhn, who visits Assange monthly, U.S. officials said.

Müller-Maguhn insists that he was never in possession of the material before it was put online and that he did not transport it.

“That would be insane,” he says.

U.S. officials who once dismissed WikiLeaks as a little more than an irritating propaganda machine and Assange as an antiestablishment carnival barker now take a far darker view of the group.

“It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a nonstate hostile intelligence service,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in the spring after the group released documents describing CIA hacking tools. In December, he doubled down on that assessment, describing WikiLeaks as a national security threat and suggesting that Assange cannot protect those who pass him state secrets.

“He ought to be a bit less confident about that,” Pompeo said.

In an interview at the Ecuadoran Embassy last month, Assange insisted that Müller-Maguhn never possessed the hacked DNC emails and blasted Pompeo’s statements as “very strange and bombastic.”

Müller-Maguhn is more cautious. “How many of you wouldn’t be scared s—less by the head of the CIA declaring you the next target?” he asks.

The 46-year-old hacker moves through Heathrow Airport like a man who knows that powerful governments are tracking his every move. A Washington Post reporter travels with him as he goes through passport control.

He switches off his cellphone, fearful that British immigration officials have technology that can steal his data. Müller-Maguhn could enter the United Kingdom with his German identification card but prefers to use his passport. “The ID card has my address on it,” he says.

A heavy-set immigration officer looks over Müller-Maguhn’s passport and stares for several seconds at a computer screen.

“Why are you in the U.K?” he asks.

“I’m visiting people,” Müller-Maguhn replies.

The officer pecks at his computer. Necks crane to catch a glimpse of the man clad in all black who is holding up the normally brisk line of passengers headed to early morning business meetings.

After a few minutes, the officer waves through Müller-Maguhn, who is walking toward the exit when the officer remembers one last question.

“Sir, sir, where are you traveling from again?” he shouts.

“Frankfurt,” Müller-Maguhn replies.

And with that he is gone. Behind him, the immigration officer is still typing. The travelers who briefly took notice of Müller-Maguhn are back staring at their phones or marching toward their destinations. Müller-Maguhn heads for the Heathrow Express into London.

Into the embassy

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to reporters in May from a balcony of the Ecuadoran Embassy in London. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The roots of Müller-Maguhn’s relationship with Assange trace back to his teenage years in the 1980s when his walk to school in Hamburg took him past of the offices of the Chaos Computer Club.

The group embodied postwar Germany’s anti-fascist convictions and the hacker underground’s libertarian ethos. Now the largest hacker club in Europe, it bills itself as “a galactic community of life forms independent of age, sex, race or society orientation that strives across borders for freedom of information.”

Müller-Maguhn soon became a friend, confidant and adviser to the group’s founder, Wau Holland. “They were like a strange couple,” said Peter Glaser, a club member, journalist and friend of both men. “Andy was very young and behaved like an adult, and Wau was older and behaved like a child.”

Müller-Maguhn later parlayed his interest in computers and surveillance into a business that he co-founded in 2003 making encrypted phones. He had hoped to sell the phones to journalists and dissidents but quickly discovered that military and intelligence agencies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East were the only clients who understood the technology and were willing to pay for it.

“This was during the time I was following the path of capitalism,” he said with a smile during one of several lengthy interviews in Berlin.

Müller-Maguhn spent 10 years selling the phones before leaving the company. “You can imagine, I know really strange people in really strange places,” he adds. These days, Müller-Maguhn says, he runs a data center that hosts websites and manages email for businesses. He also works as a security consultant, helping companies and governments safeguard their secrets. One of his clients is in China, a state known for its suppression of the Internet and its surveillance of dissidents.

By Müller-Maguhn’s calculus, the nominally communist government is less prone to violence overseas and less of a threat than the United States is. “They don’t have the wish to apply their standards to the rest of the planet or have others dance to their music,” he says. “So there’s a big difference.”

In recent years, Müller-Maguhn’s consulting and advocacy work has carried him all over the world, including Moscow, where in 2016 and 2017 he attended a security conference organized by the Russian Defense Ministry.

On his way into London for his meeting with Assange, Müller-Maguhn casually mentions that he is just back from a three-day trip to Brazil.

“It was business-related,” he says, declining to elaborate.

London’s Heathrow Airport. (Andy Rain/European Pressphoto Agency)

Müller-Maguhn hops out of a cab in Knightsbridge, a posh section of London that’s home to Harrods department store, the Ecuadoran Embassy and Assange. On this cold December day, the stores are decked out for the Christmas season. Müller-Maguhn raises a camera with a telephoto lens and aims it at a building down the street from the brick embassy where Assange has been holed up since 2012.

The shutter on his Nikon camera clicks as he snaps a few shots, hoping to spot surveillance equipment pointed at Assange and the embassy. Women in fur coats rush by him as Bentleys and Rolls-Royces roll past on the busy road. Müller-Maguhn moves down the sidewalk to get a better angle, takes some more pictures and then slings the Nikon over his shoulder.

Farther down the block and closer to the embassy, he points up toward an apartment building where he suspects that the Spaniards, angry about Assange’s tweets in support of Catalan separatists, may have set up a surveillance team.

Then he bounds up the steps of the building that houses the Ecuadoran Embassy, takes one last glance over his shoulder and rings the bell of the front door, where a guard immediately recognizes him and welcomes him inside.

Müller-Maguhn met Assange through the Chaos Computer Club in 2007 when the WikiLeaks founder was seeking support for his then-fledgling organization.

In those early days, Assange described his creation as a group committed to the mission of publishing original source material so citizens of the world could see “evidence of the truth” about global corporations and their governments.

Just past the doors to the embassy, a guard asks Müller-Maguhn to turn over all electronic devices: cameras, mobile phones, as well as his watch and car keys.

“The last time, they even looked into the fruit I was bringing,” Müller-Maguhn says. “These guys have their job. They have their instructions. So I am not complaining.”

Since WikiLeaks’ early days, Assange’s circle of contacts has contracted significantly. Some allies, such as Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who first invited Assange to the Chaos Computer Club and signed on as WikiLeaks’ spokesman, broke with WikiLeaks in 2010 after Assange released hundreds of thousands of pages of U.S. military documents without redacting the names of local Afghans who had helped the military and could be targeted by the Taliban. Other backers were put off by Assange’s legal troubles and allegations of sexual assault in Sweden or his Manichaean view of the world.

Still others alleged that the group allowed itself to be used as a tool by the Russians in their campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“Look, he has messed up with so many people, I have no idea how many people he has left as friends,” Müller-Maguhn says.

Assange: The fight ‘is far from over’

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks at Ecuador’s embassy in London on May 19, 2017.

Assange continues to fear that he will be prosecuted by the United States and as a result is afraid to leave the embassy, saying that doing so would lead to his extradition. The Justice Department is considering a case against him, according to people familiar with the matter. Several months ago, Domscheit-Berg said, the FBI sought an interview with him in connection with a long-running grand jury investigation of WikiLeaks’ publication of State Department cables. Domscheit-Berg said in an interview that he rebuffed the request. “No matter the differences that Julian and I had, I’m not going to talk to anybody about what happened,” he said.

WikiLeaks is ‘always just chaos’

As WikiLeaks has contracted and Assange has retreated from public view, it has become harder for Western intelligence agencies to get a sense of how the group operates. An internal CIA report from November said the U.S. intelligence community has “gained few good insights into WikiLeaks’ inner workings.” The agency predicted that Assange’s negative views of Washington would lead the group to continue to “disproportionately” target the United States.

Former WikiLeaks supporters say the group is governed by Assange’s whims. “The way to think of it is always just chaos,” said one former WikiLeaks activist who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a frank opinion and avoid retribution from Assange. “There aren’t any systems. There aren’t any procedures — no formal roles, no working hours. It’s all just Julian and whatever he feels like.”

During the 2016 campaign, Assange put out word that he wanted material on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “He was kind of asking everybody, ‘Can we get something for the election?’ ” Müller-Maguhn recalls.

Assange signs off on all WikiLeaks publications but does not review everything that comes to the group. “For security reasons, he does not want that,” Müller-Maguhn says. Müller-Maguhn, though, is vague about WikiLeaks’ internal workings.

A former WikiLeaks associate said that Müller-Maguhn and a colleague oversaw submissions through WikiLeaks’ anonymous submission server in 2016 — although Müller-Maguhn denies such involvement.

Asked to explain the submission review process, he replies, “I don’t want to.”

The only reliable way to contact Assange, he says, is through Direct Message on Twitter. “He seems to live on Twitter,” adds Müller-Maguhn, who doesn’t hide his disdain for the platform. “On Twitter you follow people, and that’s what German history forbids you to do,” he says.

The size of WikiLeaks’ staff and its finances are also murky. Neither Müller-Maguhn nor Assange will say how many people work for the group or where they are located. “It seems to be a rather small team,” Müller-Maguhn says.

WikiLeaks has amassed a stash of bitcoin, a digital currency that enables anonymous, bank-free transactions. As of this week, the stockpile is worth about $18 million, although in late December, with the currency’s spike in value, the group was sitting on $25 million, according to public online ledgers that record such transactions. Over the past several years, the Wau Holland Foundation, which was started in 2003 after the founder of the Chaos Computer Club died, collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for Assange’s group.

Müller-Maguhn sits on the board of the foundation, which seeks to promote “freedom of information and civil courage in various forms.” He says the foundation has provided support for some of WikiLeaks’ releases, such as last year’s “Vault 7” disclosure of CIA hacking tools.

He describes the Vault 7 releases as a public service, adding that the CIA was “messing up other people’s computers and making it look like someone else had done it.”

To Assange, any suggestion that Müller-Maguhn may have served as an intermediary to deliver the DNC emails is “a lame attempt” by U.S. intelligence agencies to hurt the Wau Holland Foundation, which is a key conduit for tax-free donations in Europe.

The threat is all the more significant because the only other source of tax-exempt donations, the U.S.-based Freedom of the Press Foundation, has cut ties to WikiLeaks.

Müller-Maguhn says he cannot say with certainty what was on the USB drive that he delivered to Assange. “How can I prove what was on there?” he says. “I cannot.” But he adds that it would be risky and impractical to deliver sensitive files by hand, rather than through encrypted channels.

“A classical walk-in? You saw too many movies from the 1970s,” he says.

These days, Müller-Maguhn describes his visits to the embassy as motivated by an increasingly rare commodity in Assange’s world: friendship. Assange’s visitors include celebrities, such as actress Pamela Anderson, and politicians, such as Nigel Farage, a vocal advocate for Britain’s exit from the European Union, and Dana Rohrabacher, a GOP congressman from California.

When he talks to visitors, Assange turns on a white noise generator in the embassy conference room to counter listening devices. Above the door, he points out a surveillance camera and indicates that sensitive messages should be communicated only via handwritten notes, shielding the text from the camera with a hand or notepad cover.

On July 3, 2016, Müller-Maguhn visited Assange at the embassy to celebrate Assange’s 45th birthday. Inside the brick building, Ecuadoran children, dressed in traditional garb, serenaded Assange with little guitars and pipe flutes.

As the children sang, Müller-Maguhn’s mind flashed forward.

“I had this s—ty impression of me standing there watching 50-year-olds making music for us, and Julian would still be there,” he said.

After about two hours inside the embassy last month, Müller-Maguhn emerges from the building, carrying his black leather satchel, stuffed with documents, and his Nikon camera. He quickly makes his way through the Christmas crowds and back to Heathrow Airport for an evening flight home to Germany.

He tries to minimize his time in Britain. “I don’t like to stay overnight in a country that is hostile toward me,” he says.

Jaffe reported from Washington. Greg Miller, Rachel Weiner and Julie Tate in Washington, Karla Adam in London and Stefan Pauly in Berlin contributed to this report.


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Camillo Gonsalves

Opposition calls Finance Minister to explain himself or resign

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Jan 16, CMC – The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) on Monday restated its call for  Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves to explain himself amidst the ongoing saga in which former model Yugge Farrell claimed that she was involved in an extra-marital affair with him.

“The principles of decency and good governance in a modern democracy requires that any government minister embroiled in such a salacious scandal must clarify the situation to the satisfaction of the people or resign his position,” the party said in a statement on Monday.

Camillo Gonsalves
Camillo Gonsalves

The statement follows calls by party president and Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday and party chair, Daniel Cummings, on their radio programmes last week for the finance minister to explain what might have happened between him and the model, who has since been charged with abusing the minister’s wife.

“Such a scandal reflects negatively on the high office of the Minister of Finance and brings it into disrepute. Having failed to clarify the matter, Camillo Gonsalves, who professes to love this country and to respect its people, has but one choice. We, therefore, call on him to do the right and honourable thing and resign,” the NDP said.

The statement from the opposition paety comes amidst the ongoing saga which began when Farrell was arraigned on January 4 on a charge that she used abusive language to Camillo’s wife, Karen Duncan-Gonsalves, a Crown counsel in the Attorney General’s Chambers .

At Farrell’s arraignment on January 5, Kingstown Magistrate Bertie Pompey granted a prosecution request that Farrell be sent for two weeks of psychiatric evaluation.

The application was granted in the absence of any supporting evidence by the prosecution and in the face of strong protest by defence counsel Grant Connell.

After Farrell’s court-ordered hospitalisation, a number of documents resembling emails, which persons circulating them are suggesting were written by Farrell have been circulated.  The documents contain unsubstantiated claims about a number of high-profile persons, including that they have “full blown AIDS”.

Some persons have questioned the release of the alleged email in light of the salacious claims made by persons who have no known connection to the ongoing saga.

The NDP, on Monday, condemned the release of “private emails into the public domain which has done nothing but obfuscate the issue more.

“The timing of release of these emails and correspondence attributed to Miss Farrell is suspicious and we question the credibility of the leaked documents. If these documents are evidence in the investigation they should be handed over to the police, not circulated over public media,” the party said.

The NDP also pointed to the media report that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and his Deputy, Sir Louis Straker, have advised Camillo, who is also Member of Parliament for East St. George, not to comment on the saga.

“This is an affront as Camillo was elected by the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and owes the people of this nation an explanation as to his involvement or not. This high-handed approach demonstrates the level of contempt and disrespect that Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP hold for the people of this nation,” the NDP said.

“It is a matter of public interest, and concern and we have been following the matter as it has unfolded in the media and other public forums,” the party said, noting that over a week has passed and there has been no clear statement on the matter by Camillo.

“As a member of Parliament and Minister of Government, Mr. Camillo Gonsalves has a responsibility to explain to the Vincentian people what, if anything, he knows about the allegations. It is insufficient for him to respond merely through his relatives and other ULP party surrogates,” the NDP said.

The party said that while the matter has been ventilated in public, the situation remains unclear.

It further said that media reports suggest that Farrell’s rights were violated by the way she was dealt with in court.

The party noted that after being allowed to plead to the charge in the Magistrate’s Court, Farrell was sent on the request of the prosecutor to the mental institution for assessment.

“The reports indicate that the procedure was abnormal as no evidence or information was laid before the Magistrate to support such a decision,” the NDP said.

HOwever, on  Tuesday the Prime Minister restated his claim that a magistrate can arrive at a decision in court regarding sending a person for psychiatric evaluation based on information communicated to the magistrate by the prosecution but not relayed to the defence.

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DACA th-300x103

US judge rules DACA must continue for now

WASHINGTON, Jan.10,, CMC – Amidst intense political battle about a United States federal program that shields from deportation young Caribbean and other immigrants who were brought illegally to the US as children, a federal judge in California has issued a nationwide injunction ordering the Trump administration to restart the programme.

Stating that the decision to kill it was improper, Judge William Alsup of Federal District Court in San Francisco on Tuesday  said the Trump administration must “maintain the DACA programme on a nationwide basis,” as the legal challenge to the US president’s decision proceed.

President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme (DACA) in 2012,  to also give young immigrants the ability to work legally in the United States. However, Trump moved to end the programme in September,  saying that Obama’s actions were unconstitutional and an overreach of executive power.

That decision has set off a fierce debate in Washington as Democrats and Republicans spar about how to provide relief for about 800,000 immigrants who could face deportation when the programme ends on March 5.

Trump met with lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon in a hourlong televised meeting to begin negotiations.

But critics of the president’s decision to end the policy, including several states and organizations, had already sued the administration, saying that shutting down the programme was arbitrary and done without following the proper legal procedures.

One of the lead plaintiffs in the case, Janet Napolitano, is currently the president of the sprawling University of California system of colleges but served as the secretary of homeland security for Obama in 2012 and was an architect of the DACA programme.

In his ruling, Judge Alsup questioned the administration’s contention that the DACA programme had not been put into place legally. He asserted that the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has long had the authority to grant the kind of temporary protections that formed the basis of the programme.

Judge Alsup also cited several of Trump’s Twitter posts that expressed support for the programme.

He noted that, in September, the president said :  “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!”

Such tweets, Alsup said, bolstered the idea that keeping DACA going was in the public’s interest.

The judge wrote that previous beneficiaries of DACA, known as Dreamers, must be allowed to renew their status although the government will not be required to accept new applications from immigrants who had not previously submitted one.

In addition, Alsup said the Trump administration could continue to prevent DACA recipients from returning to the US if they leave the country.

Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for the US Department of Justice, said that the ruling did not change the department’s position.

“DACA was implemented unilaterally after Congress declined to extend these benefits to this same group of illegal aliens,” he said. “As such, it was an unlawful circumvention of Congress, and was susceptible to the same legal challenges that effectively ended DACA.

The Department of Homeland Security, therefore, acted within its lawful authority in deciding to wind down DACA in an orderly manner,” he added. “Promoting and enforcing the rule of law is vital to protecting a nation, its borders, and its citizens.”

The Trump administration could quickly appeal the judge’s ruling, hoping that an appeals court would prevent the injunction from taking effect and allowing the shutdown of the DACA program as the president announced in September.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump appeared open to negotiating a sweeping immigration deal that would eventually grant millions of undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship, declaring that he was willing to “take the heat” politically for an approach that seemed to flatly contradict the anti-immigration stance that charged his political rise.

The president made the remarks during an extended meeting with congressional Republicans and Democrats who are weighing a shorter-term agreement that would extend legal status for undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants brought to the United States as children.

In the 90-minute session — more than half of which played out on national television —Trump agreed to a framework for a short-term immigration deal to couple protection for young, undocumented immigrants with border security.

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Opposition Leader warns of constitutional crisis in St. Lucia

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Jan 2, CMC – The leader of the main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Phillip J. Pierre is warning of a constitutional crisis here following the non-appointment of a successor to Dame Pearlette Louisy, who demitted office on December 31, last year.

“…the constitutional crisis that the country finds itself in today is purely a reflection of the government’s incompetence and the government’s desire to prove that they are in charge and they can do whatever they want,’ he said.

Opposition Leader Phillip J. Pietre (left) and
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet (File Photo)

Dame Pearlette, who was the island’s longest serving head of state, announced late last year that she was stepping down amid much speculation here that she was had been forced out of office by the Allen Chastanet administration after 20 years.

The front runners to replace here in the largely ceremonial post is former foreign affairs minister Neville Cenac, the brother of the late Winston Cenac, who served as prime minister for eight months before resigning in 1982.

Pierre, who has been critical at the manner in which Dame Pearlette was removed from office, told the St. Lucia Times on line publication that St. Lucia is facing a facing a constitutional crisis because there is also no acting governor general.

“The Deputy Governor General cannot perform the function of Governor General unless there is a Governor General,’ he said, noting also that the situation also means that Prime Minister Chastanet cannot travel overseas since he normally would have to appoint an acting prime minister and there’s no head of state to appoint such a person.

“That is what happens when governments act in haste,’ he told St Lucia Times, adding “the government did not pay attention to the process by which a new Governor General is appointed”

Pierre said that had the government done so, the transition from Dame Pearlette Louisy to a successor would have been different.

‘The government does not seem to want to follow convention – they did the same thing with the Deputy Speaker,’ he said, noting that the Chastanet-led administration, which came to power in June 2016, has no respect for the Parliament and the opposition.

Pierre told the publication that he had written to Prime Minister Chastanet on two occasions and he has not responded nor acknowledged receiving them.

Tuesday is a public holiday in St. Lucia.

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John Rankins

Governor seeks legal opinions on controversial bill

By Ivan Clifford

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Dec 30, CMC  — Governor John Rankin is continuing to take legal advice on giving assent to a controversial bill designed to replace same-sex marriage with “watered-down” domestic partnerships in this British Overseas Territory.

Government House confirmed that Rankin had asked for legal opinions on the Domestic Partnership Bill in line with provisions in the island’s constitution.

John Rankins
John Rankin

“The Governor is continuing to consider the bill in accordance with Section 35(2) of the constitution. In considering the bill, he is taking legal advice as appropriate,” a spokesman said Friday.

The Domestic Partnership Bill was passed by both Houses of Parliament earlier this month in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling in May that paved the way for same-sex couples to marry in Bermuda.

The constitution does not stipulate a time frame for assenting to Bills.

Sources said legal arguments over whether the bill is in line with the constitution, and international obligations, have to be considered.

The British Foreign Office said this month while the UK government is disappointed with the implications of this bill, “this is a matter for the Bermuda government acting within the terms of the Bermuda constitution and in accordance with international law.”

Section 35 (2) of the constitution outlines procedures for the Governor to sign a bill. He has to signify that he assents or that he withholds assent or that he “reserves the bill for the signification of Her Majesty’s pleasure”.

The Governor has to “reserve for the signification of Her Majesty’s pleasure any bill which appears to him, acting in his discretion … to be inconsistent with any obligation of Her Majesty or of Her Majesty’s government in the United Kingdom towards any other state or power or any international organisation”.

The section also allows the Governor to refuse to sign a bill that is considered to be “in any way repugnant to or inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution”.

The Ministry of Home Affairs earlier confirmed that four gay couples planning to marry at sea on Bermuda-registered ships would be able to tie the knot despite the ruling Progressive Labour Party’s (PLP) push to end marriage equality.

Marriage banns were posted by the Registrar-General for the unions, with two of the ceremonies due to take place this month and a further two in January.

The One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) was still in power when gay marriages were approved but the OBA was heavily defeated by the Progressive Labour Party in July’s general election. Bermudians had overwhelmingly rejected same-sex marriage in a referendum last year.

The first gay couple to wed here were Bermudian lawyer Julia Saltus and her Ghanaian-American partner Judith Aidoo, who spoke out against the plan to reverse the court ruling.

The most recent couple were two men, one of whom was Bermudian, who tied the knot in the Registry-General’s marriage room.

The Supreme Court ruling of May 5 by Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons cleared the way for Bermudian Winston Godwin and his Canadian partner Greg DeRoche to tie the knot, but in the event they married in Toronto on May 20, saying that their legal battle had been about forcing overdue change in Bermuda.

Chris Bryant, a former British Labour government Overseas Territories Minister, has been quoted by a British Sunday newspaper as saying, if approved, the law would make Bermuda the first country in the world to cancel gay marriage after previously allowing it.

Meanwhile, as Bermuda awaits the Governor’s decision, the Royal Gazette newspaper said the tiny South Atlantic Ocean island of St Helena, also a British Overseas Territory, had approved same-sex marriage by a parliamentary vote of 9-2.

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Barbuda devastation

Guyanese author says Barbudians fighting to retain collective ownership of land

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Dec. 31, CMC – A Guyanese-born author of several books on African and African Diaspora history says the people of Barbuda are currently not only struggling to recover from the devastation that was brought to the island by Hurricane Irma, but they are also fighting to retain the collective ownership of their land.

“This is a system that has been in place since the abolition of slavery on the island and is currently being threatened by the government of Antigua and Barbuda,” said Dwayne Wong, a contributor for the Huffington Post. “Prime Minister Gaston Browne has argued that in order to rebuild Barbuda and to improve the island’s economy it is necessary to change this law.

Barbuda devastation
Barbuda devastation (file photo)

“The people of Barbuda are concerned that they will lose the control of their land, so that Barbuda can be developed into an island for mass tourism, much as Antigua has been,” added Wong,writing on Friday under the caption, “Barbuda and the Land Issue in the Caribbean”.

“As I have pointed out previously, some Antiguans have complained that tourism has become such a dominant feature on the island that the island belongs to the tourists more so than the people who lived there. The people of Barbuda fear the same thing will happen to their island as well.”

Wong said Barbuda’s struggle to retain collective control of the island is “a struggle that has been waged throughout the Caribbean islands, where the forces of colonialism and neo-colonialism have sought to establish foreign ownership over those lands.

“Christopher Columbus’ well-known ‘discovery’ of the Caribbean islands in 1492 led to massive genocide on those islands,” he said. “In many of the Caribbean islands the nation population was completely wiped out due to a combination of violence and disease. Thus, the initial process of colonization not only involved theft of native land, but also the complete depopulation of those islands.

“Those islands were then repopulated mainly by enslaved Africans. After slavery was abolished other ethnic groups, such as East Indians and Chinese, were brought to the Caribbean to labor as indentured servants. Throughout this whole process the land was owned by a small elite group of wealthy white settlers,” Wong continued.

He noted that when the people of Haiti won their independence through a revolution, one of the major provisions that were put in place by the new government was one which sought to ensure that Haitians retained the ownership of their land and property.

“This was so important for the Haitian Revolutionaries that Jean-Jacques Dessalines decreed that foreigners would not be allowed to own property in Haiti,” Wong  said.  “Unfortunately, for many of the Caribbean countries that have gained their independence after Haiti, retaining local control of the land has not been a priority.”

He said one of the reasons for this is the Caribbean’s reliance on tourism, stating that, on some islands, it became a policy to privatize beach land, excluding the locals in the process.

The author said the privatization of beach land has been the subject of a number of songs, “which have been aimed at exposing and criticizing these policies.”

In Trinidad and Tobago, he said the late calypsonian Lord Kitchener  complained about how the natives in Tobago were arrested for being on their own beaches.

In Barbados, the Mighty Gabby composed his hit song “Jack” in response to a policy put forward by Jack Dear, the chairman of the Tourist Board, who suggested allowing hotels to privatize beach land, Wong said.

Concerning Jamaica, he said Mutabaruka “complained about the all-exclusive hotels, which would make tourists believe that Negril is a separate island apart from Jamaica.”

Wong said the foreign control of land has also been an issue in Puerto Rico, a former Spanish colony, which was later taken from the Spanish and brought under American domination.

“I mention all of this to show that the struggle of the people of Barbuda to retain the ownership of their land is a struggle that has been waged and is being waged on other Caribbean islands as well, where foreign powers continue to control the economies and the land of those islands to the exclusion of the locals,” he said.

“Barbuda is unique in that its system of collective land ownership ensures that no one on the island is excluded from owning property or land,” he added.  “If history is a good indicator of what may happen to Barbuda, if this system is overturned, then the people of Barbuda have every right to voice their concerns over what they see as a ‘land grab’ taking place on their island.”

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