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In Plea Deal, Russian Woman Admits to Being a Secret Agent

In Plea Deal, Russian Woman Admits to Being a Secret Agent

Associated Press

Published 13 December 2018

Image via AP Photo/File

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Russian woman accused of being a secret agent admitted Thursday that she conspired to infiltrate the American gun-rights movement to gather intelligence onconservative political groups as Donald Trump rose to power.

Maria Butina, 30, agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

The case, which is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has offered insight into how Moscow seeks to influence American policy.

Prosecutors say Butina and her Russian patron, Alexander Torshin, used their contacts in the National Rifle Association to pursue Russian back channels to American conservatives during that campaign, when Republican Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Butina’s case, brought by federal prosecutors in Washington, also comes amid a broader push by the Justice Department to enforce U.S. laws governing foreign agents, including those accused of working for Russia.

As part of her deal, Butina pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent and she agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Prosecutors also say it is “very likely” that she will be deported from the U.S. after her sentence is completed. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, though the defense noted Thursday that federal sentencing guidelines recommend no time to six months.

According to her plea agreement, Butina’s work was directed by Torshin, a Russian government bank official now under sanction by the Treasury Department for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Butina admitted that she “sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics.” She said her boyfriend, conservative political operative Paul Erickson, helped her as she tried to use his ties with the NRA to set up the back channels. Erickson, who is referred to as “U.S. Person 1” in court papers, he has not been charged.

In their filings, prosecutors have said federal agents found Butina had contact information for people suspected of being employed by Russia’s Federal Security Services, or FSB, the successor intelligence agency to the KGB. Inside her home, they found notes referring to a potential job offer from the FSB, according to the documents.

Investigators recovered several emails and Twitter direct message conversations in which Butina referred to the need to keep her work secret and, in one instance, said it should be “incognito.” Prosecutors said Butina had contact with Russian intelligence officials and that the FBI photographed her dining with a diplomat suspected of being a Russian intelligence agent.

Butina’s lawyer, Robert Driscoll, had previously decried the charges against her as “overblown” and said prosecutors criminalized her mundane networking opportunities. He has said his client was a student interested in American politics and wanted to see a better relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Butina, jailed since her arrest in July, had mounted an aggressive defense and tried to have the charges against her tossed. But for several weeks, Butina’s lawyers and federal prosecutors had indicated in court papers that they were working toward a resolution in the case.

___

Associated Press writer Chad Day contributed to this report.

By Associated Press

Published 13 December 2018

Filed Under russia , russian spy

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

Government says economy grew by more than two per cent in 2017

Government says economy grew by more than two per cent in 2017

by staff writer

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Dec 13, CMC – The St. Kitts-Nevis government says the economy grew by 2.1 per cent last year as the twin island Federation continues to demonstrate resilience amidst prevailing downside risks in the international and regional economic environment.

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, presenting the EC$749.3 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) to Parliament on Wednesday, said that gross domestic product (GDP) had increased eased by 2.1 per cent  which is on par with the growth rate of 2.3 per cent recorded by the advanced economies.

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris

He said this outturn also surpassed the economic output of the member states of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) of 1.3 per cent for the same period.

Harris said that the growth in the local economy was underpinned by expansions of 11.4 per cent in the agriculture sector; six per cent in the transport, storage and communication sector and 4.7 per cent in the construction Sector.

“The growth trend in the economy continued in 2018 resulting in a positive outturn during the first half of the year. I am advised that the growth we are currently witnessing is attributed mainly to activities in the tourism Sector which grew by 8.5 per cent,” said Harris, who is also the Finance Minister.

He told legislators that the manufacturing sector also rebounded during the first six months of 2018 recording an expansion in economic activity of 3.7 per cent after declining by 10 per cent during the same period in 2017.

He said the upturn in the sector had been influenced by a five per cent increase in the production of electronic components and positive growth within the agricultural, real estate, renting and business activity sectors.

Harris said that the average rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) deflated by 0.6 per cent in the first half of 2018 in line with the deceleration in prices in the non-food and seven service indices of 1.6 and 1.2 per cent respectively.

“Price levels in the food and beverages Index however, increased by 2.6 per cent over the period under review as a result of the steady increase in international food prices. My administration will continue to monitor this situation and work to improve food security in the Federation so that we could limit the negative impacts of these international trends.”

Harris told the National Assembly that there had been a transformation of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI) resulting in more professional management systems as well as increased cooperation with partners.

Under the CBI, St. Kitts-Nevis provides citizenship to foreign investors who make a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the twin island Federation.

Harris said that every challenge in the industry was confronted “responsibly with a view to maintain the integrity of the programme and consolidate the socio-economic development of our country.

“Mr Speaker, wherever evidence has been provided regarding unacceptable behaviour we have acted appropriately. When persons sought to sell below programme statutory thresholds, we have taken quick action to dissuade and to have them cease and desist. When persons maliciously generated letters purporting to come from our Citizenship by Investment Unit bearing false information, we have acted, including to seek the support of the relevant law enforcement authorities.

“We welcome those service providers who were implicated in any way in these spurious letters to come forward, so advise the Unit and be prepared to bring full, definitive and factual evidence of such malpractice and fraud so that such matters can be fully addressed and corrective action taken,” he said, noting that offers of assistance have come from at least two international organisations.

Harris said that his administration would continue to act in the best interest of the country as it relates to the CBI, which he said had been the catalyst for the government improved economic success.

“As we move forward, we will work even more closely with developers, service providers and agents to ensure the highest standards of integrity pervade all areas. The programme is too important to allow the mischief and despicable agenda of anyone to destroy the good things which the programme has brought or discourage the participation of reputable entities.”

He said in 2019, a further set of policies and legislative developments will further bolster the CBI programme.

“There have been recent efforts to scandalize the programme by aggrieved parties with personal vendettas. Truth be told, it is the incredible success of our CBI programme that has provided the fiscal space for us to pay a double salary and introduce our poverty alleviation programme. These good developments are what the bitter-elements of the Opposition are hoping to undermine in their unfounded and malicious attacks on the CBI programme,” Harris told legislators, adding “.we acknowledge there is more work to be done.

“As a responsible member of the international community we are working with our international partners to achieve efficacious outcomes.”

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

Man jailed for beating girlfriend whom he accused of having sex with senior government official

Man jailed for beating girlfriend whom he accused of having sex with senior government official


by staff writer 

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Dec 14, CMC – A magistrate has sentenced a 26-year-old man to three years in jail who assaulted his girlfriend after accusing her of having sex in the office of a senior government official last month.

Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett handed down the sentence, after hearing that woman had to be rushed to the emergency department of the hospital on November 30.

The court heard it was the third such beating in four days.

The accused had been in custody since he pleaded guilty, on December 3, to the charge of assault occasioning bodily harm, stemming from the incident.

The Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) is withholding the name of the man and his 26-year-old girlfriend, who live in south-western St. Vincent, in the interest of the abused woman and her children, who are now receiving support from the Social Services.

At the sentencing hearing, the woman told the court she and the man have been together for three years and have three children including twins, who will be three years old next month.

She told the court that while the abuse started some time ago, she never believed her boyfriend would have gotten so aggressive over simple things.

She said she was beaten by the man on November 26 when he accused her of being in a sexual relationship with their neighbour and even though he said he would not do it again, he did so three days later.

On November 30, the man beat her so severe after she had gone to the office of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture in search of a job that she had to be taken to hospital.

The boyfriend had accused her of having sex with the senior government official and even searched her underwear.

The man was arrested at the hospital and charged.

The woman told the court that because of the beating, she did not get a chance to take up the job and even though the children have been asking for their father.

She said since the last incident she has been receiving counselling and assistance from the government.

Even though the man told the court he was “sorry” over the incident, Senior Magistrate Burnett said “the sentence of this court is three years in prison”.

Posted in Court, Crime, Kids, Local, News, Police, Regional0 Comments

Congressional Black Caucus condemns Trump’s latest attack on Caribbean immigrants

Congressional Black Caucus condemns Trump’s latest attack on Caribbean immigrants

By Nelson A. King

WASHINGTON, Dec 11, CMC – The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has renewed its criticism of the Trump administration following its latest attack on low-income immigrants of colour, including Caribbean immigrants.

In a letter to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the CBC wrote that a proposal to restrict green cards for immigrants who are likely to use public assistance programmes, such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme and Medicare Part D, is “racially discriminatory and a reverse of what Congress intended.”

Yvette D. Clarke (File Photo)

The CBC said that the justification for the proposal is “inaccurate and incomplete.”

The December 10 letter was signed by CBC chairman Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana, and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, Democrat of New York, who also serves as the CBC Immigration Task Force Chair. Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants.

The CBC’s letter is a follow-up to one dispatched to US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in September.

“We are writing as members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to express our strong opposition to your agency’s proposed rule concerning public charge determinations. The proposed rule would cause major harm to immigrants, their families, state and local governments, health care providers and numerous other parties throughout the nation.

“Black immigrants, who comprise only 8.7 per cent of all non-citizens, but are more likely to be impacted by the proposed rule, would be disproportionately injured. We, therefore, urge you to immediately withdraw this proposed rule in its entirety,” the letter noted.

In a town hall meeting in Brooklyn last week, Clarke heightened her warning to Caribbean and other immigrants about the Trump administration’s proposed Public Charge rule, saying that it will “deeply affect a large portion of residents” in her district, who are predominantly Caribbean nationals.

“Now that this rule change seems imminent, it’s important that we know our rights, understand how it will affect our community, and share strategies to ensure that our families, congregations and communities are safe,” said Clarke.

She said Public Charge rule has been a statutory ground of inadmissibility for nearly 135 years; and that, generally, if deemed a public charge, one will not be allowed to become a permanent resident in the United States.

But Clarke said the proposed rule by the Trump administration would expand the list of government programs that could be used to block Caribbean and other immigrants from obtaining green cards.

The Congresswoman said the rule would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deny immigration benefits to Caribbean nationals who have used or are likely to use the programmes in an amount equal to about US$150/month in certain types of benefits.

“Simply put, this proposed rule is yet another attack on poor communities of colour,” declared Clarke at the meeting that was attended by representatives of several immigration advocacy groups, including the New York Immigration Coalition.

Clarke noted that, for several years, safety net programmes have helped Caribbean and other immigrants across America, particularly the large immigrant population in her district, “who came to the United States with limited resources to pursue the American Dream.

“It is our duty to ensure that this dream is attainable for all, regardless of race, nation of origin, or socioeconomic status.”

Clarke said she was “happy” to be an original sponsor on Congresswoman Judy Chu’s No Federal Funds for Public Charge Act, which would prohibit any US federal funds from being used to implement this proposed rule.

Clarke said the DHS, on October 10, 2018, proposed the rule that would make it easier for the agency to deny admission, visas, green cards, and the ability to change or extend non-immigrant status to individuals, who have received government benefits from specific programs above certain dollar amounts.

The Congresswoman said the proposed rule “will likely not go into effect, if at all, before mid-February 2019.”

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

Educator calls for criminal prosecution of those responsible for circulating sex video featuring school child

Educator calls for criminal prosecution of those responsible for circulating sex video featuring school child

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Dec 10, CMC – A former president of the St. Lucia Teachers Union (SLTU) is calling on stakeholders including the police to take the necessary action against those responsible for the circulation of a video on social media showing a school girl in uniform engaged in sexual acts.

“This is getting out of hand,” Virginia Albert-Poyotte, a veteran educator told the on-line publication, St. Lucia Times after the police and education officials confirmed they were aware of existence of the video, involving the 13-year-old student.

Albert-Poyotte, said the authorities should ensure that the persons with whom the teenager was engaging in sexual activity, those who recorded the video as well as those circulating the video face criminal prosecution.

“Whoever is involved in this type of activity needs to be pursued and justice needs to be administered in order to curtail that kind of behaviour,” the former school principal said, urging the Ministry of Education, the SLTU, the National Principals Association and the police to come together and decide how to deal with the matter.

The publication said that in addition to the video, there are also reports that nude photos of another young girl have been posted on social media.

Under the St. Lucia Criminal Code, no person under the age of sixteen can legally consent to sex. The code makes it a criminal offence for anyone to have sexual intercourse with or attempt to have sex with a child under 16, commonly known as statutory rape.

The maximum penalty for rape in St. Lucia is life imprisonment.

Posted in CARICOM, Crime, Kids, Local, News, OECS, Police, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Police probe murder/suicide case

Police probe murder/suicide case

by staff writer 

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Dec 10, CMC – The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) says it has activated its  Chaplaincy Unit to provide grief counselling after a police constable is alleged to have killed an elderly woman and then committed suicide.

The JCF statement said that the Community Safety and Security Branch has also been directed to offer support.to persons affected by the incident at the Islington Police Station in St. Mary, north-east of here.

Police said that Constable Toyan Ormsby, 25, and  62-year-old Dawnett Maxwel, ,died from gunshot wounds in what investigators believe was a murder/suicide.

Media reports said that Maxwell had gone to the police station on Sunday to visit a prisoner and following the visit, she and Ormbsy, who was on cell duty at the time, were seen in conversation outside the building.

Gunshot were later heard and police officers who responded found the couple with bullet wounds.

The police said that the officer shot Maxwell before turning the gun on himself.

Posted in Crime, Local, News, Police, Regional0 Comments

NY Post photo

Police Commissioner comments on plan “Sex Island” festival

by staff writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Dec 11, CMC –Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says the organisers of a four-day, three-night “sex-travaganza”, called Sex Island, has a “snowball chance in hell” of actually hosting the event in Trinidad and Tobago.

The New York Post website reported that the organisers have named an island off the coast of twin island republic as the location for its next event, which promises its patrons drugs and prostitutes, and costs between US$4,500 and US$6,000 per person, had been given the “go-ahead” by local authorities.

(NY Post Photo)

But Griffith, speaking on a local radio programme here Tuesday, said he wanted to disappoint “those why think it may happen.

“It is definitely not going to happen, there is no such plan whatsoever that can actually ensure that it takes place,” Griffith said, telling his audience “there is no private island of Trinidad and Tobago.

Griffith said he believes the event being promised here started some years ago in Colombia “but it is difficult if not impossible for this to take place.

“Even before the police get involve you need the requisite approval for entry into Trinidad and Tobago waters from the Ministry of National Security (and) you must go through Immigration authorities. And then having said that …I can give the assurance that before the first joint is lighted, before the first lap dance is made that will never happen.

“There is absolutely no way that something as organised and promoted as this can take place in Trinidad and Tobago waters,” Griffith said, while there are certain local places the police have been monitoring  and used for illegal activities.

He said these local activities could give rise to human trafficking and the police have being using intelligence driven information to shut them down.

Griffith insisted that the planned “Sex island” event scheduled for December 14-17 will not happen.

“With social media you have fake news and you have a situation…where you get tip offs for the police service to be able to provide that pre-emptive strike to prevent something from happening.

‘This is definitely not going to take place in Trinidad and Tobago

The event’s website claims there are only three tickets left, and they had catered for 50 guests.

According to the website, included in the cost is “unlimited sex with two girls per day, all meals and snacks, all the alcohol you desire, airport pickup and drop-off, yacht parties, bedrooms with showers, large closets, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and unlimited condoms.”

The NY Post report says that in addition to the women, “guests have easy access to drugs, with Sex Island staff members acting as liaisons between dealers and partygoers. Cocaine is far and away the most popular drug requested by guests.”

Posted in CARICOM, Entertainment, International, Local, News, Police, Regional0 Comments

DSC_0390

MSS hosts school’s talent in exhibition

The Montserrat Secondary School (MSS) hosted an exhibition which as ZJB reporter put it, “was a hive of activity today. It enabled students to showcase their skills in an eye-opening exhibition to mark the institution’s 80th anniversary.

A more detailed account will appear in the next TMR issue.

Posted in Entertainment, Kids, Local, News, Youth0 Comments

economic recovery

Economic Growth Strategy and Delivery Plan

From the Government Information Unit (GIU)

The final version of the Economic Growth Strategy and Delivery Plan for Montserrat is now available online.

The Government of Montserrat has developed the Economic Growth Strategy (EGS) 2018-2022, which will act as the guide for public investment over the next several years; with the goal of the eventual re-balancing of the economy from public sector driven to private sector led. It seeks to accomplish this by analysing the potential of key sectors that have been identified as the most economically viable with the ultimate goal of long-term sustainability. The EGS ensures that actions are tied to these goals by clearly outlining a delivery plan which details the responsible agencies and time-frames for accomplishing tasks geared towards achieving economic milestones. The strategic focus of the EGS is expected to go beyond 2022 as it will dovetail into the development of the new Sustainable Development Plan (2021).

The EGS & Delivery Plan is available The document is available in the publications section of the Government of Montserrat website.  To access the document, individuals should go to www.gov.ms click on the  ‘publications’  tab, then click on ‘Ministry of Finance’ in the list provided.  Once on this page, click on the pdf “Economic Growth Strategy & Delivery Plan – Final’ to open or download the document.  Alternatively, the document can be accessed at the following link http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Economic-Growth-Strategy-Delivery-Plan.pdf

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Howard Fergus

Development stifled and Public Service

Bureaucracy and Consultancies -Heavyweight Governor!? Facebook

There was this retired public servant gentleman with whom I was having a discourse about some specifics about the state of Montserrat. He/we concluded that missing is an education which will come through information and discussions among people. So, he suggested the use of Facebook.

I promptly noted that Facebook, in its setting is good for rallying groups together, but in a general way does not reach as many people, certainly not all the people, often those for the masses to whom certain material and important matters are targeted. I reminded that Facebook is a great tool for what it is good for. I offered my usual description – It is about entertainment, gossip and mischief…varying information which should be always verified.

But as suggested it is a good meeting place to exchange thoughts and information among those willing to participate.

It has been suggested often, that TMR in fact had the first Facebook back in the 90s.

It is here, that some posts and comments caught my attention that I felt compelled to share, especially with our readers who otherwise would not know about. The matter though only recently highlighted was first aired at Governor’s coffee morning with the media on September 26.

There he said on the matter of the public service very much the same as was later captured in that ZJB report where he was quoted as, “once again voicing his concern about the high level of bureaucracy in the public service…challenging them to be more result oriented…”

The Governor took aim at the number of consultancies done on the island and some of the needless processes in the public sector …that the bureaucratic red tape inherited from the U.K. is stifling development.

He said: “…there are consultancy reports analyzing previous consultancies going back decades; and there’s a consultancy on every conceivable thing you can think of; furniture, everything, air conditioning, the works. And then you add on top of that that if you want to go on leave, the process is quite stupendous.  The ‘Brits’, we’ve made a mess of a lot of things around the world. For a tiny island we have made an incredible mess. It has to be said says is something very unique and special to Britain… we but the amount of bureaucracy we reproduce is stupendous, and here we sort of incubated it; and if you want to go on leave you fill in a form and then it has to go round about 10 people. By the time it eventually comes back to you to confirm you can go on leave you’re near retirement…”

The Governor addressing that CARICOM meeting a few weeks ago, continues: “The level of bureaucracy, the level of complexity that’s expected on the village on a rock like Montserrat…it is the size of a British village on a relatively remote rock in the Caribbean. And we expect it to run its own port, run its own airport, run its customs, collect its taxes, organise its pensions, organise its civil service, to best practice, run a police force, run a Marine vessel, be ready to do search and rescue; do all sorts of financial services activities; and most recently, participate in arranging sanctions against Iran and Burma and maintain lists of things like dual use products that could be diverted into chemical weapons misuse. we’re expecting all of that of ourselves, of a village. And it ain’t ever going to happen, not in a month of Sundays will that happen, the model is wrong, we shouldn’t ever pretend otherwise. You can talk about it all, you can write about it…we can write all these reports and have all these committee meetings and at the end, nothing happens.”

At Facebook some important things get commented on. The foregoing was referred to and expressed as follows:

By Howard Fergus 

His Excellency is a heavy weight
in this Her Majesty’s dominion,
DfID’s footstool, and playground
of British civil servants over the years.
The Governor weighed against the service
recently, with damning clarity.

Bureaucracy was slow and paralytic,
communication was circuitous
with letters taking ages to be processed:
a request for leave was answered
when the candidate was ready to retire.
That is what the Governor said,
and the Governor is an honourable English man
who spoke with royal authority;
and there were studies on top of studies
and studies of studies (consuming our aid).

What the Governor did not say
were his plans to cure the sore
since the service is in his purview and portfolio.
I hope he gets around to this
before he is ready to retire,
that he is not afflicted with like paralysis.

(Lord help us. Everybody just come an wash dem mout pan awe.)

The (our) celebrated poet, satirical at times, as can be, and would be expected, got support and reactions. One of our very active and knowledgeable, insensibly exiled journalist, with BBC and regional fame, was first to react.

Mike Jarvis

Agreed.
My thoughts as posted elsewhere.

“The Governor of Montserrat is right. The present model is wrong.

So, now that he has found it necessary to highlight it at a level beyond the local, the question for Governor Pearce is this:
“Guv, what are YOU going to do about it?”

On the outmoded and unnecessary time-consuming administrative requirements imposed on a micro local government in a micro territory, how much of this now needs a massive rethink?

How much needs to be referred to the administrative authority – as is done in the UK Nations and Regions, councils and local governments – so that the local administration and civil service can focus on the priority local issues?

Is it not time for a realistic new partnership with the UK central government, especially in Montserrat’s case?

With elections pending, this is something for current and aspiring Montserrat politicians to add to their ‘promise list’…or is it too big an issue?”

More reactions

Following also some brief, remarks, all considered worthy of mention, but selected:

With elections pending, this is something for current and aspiring Montserrat politicians to add to their ‘promise list’…or is it too big an issue?”

Estelle Howe

Estelle Howe

I lol bcuz I’m jus loving that last bit ” everybody jus come wash dem mouth pan awe”

Vernon Jeffers (former Minister of Government)

Quite an interesting “Tale”.
And they all in unison, exclaimed, “Lord help us”.

Joseph Jackman (just visited Montserrat)

Very well put. Sir Howard… my very short visit to the rock last week. Have a blessed, inspired and productive day.

Dunstan Lindesay

Sir Howard Fergus. The Conscience concurs with your sentiments. But we can’t wait to DIE before (they) fix it. We must find a way. OURSELVES.

Posted in Featured, International, Local, News0 Comments

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Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo 2019 New Year Statement

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