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Montserrat makes first moves to Digital Payments

Last year, the Government of Montserrat (GOM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Bitt, a Barbados based fintech company, to create a digital payments ecosystem in Montserrat. The goal is to achieve financial inclusion and reduce cash usage. Both objectives are parts of the overall development strategy of Montserrat and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).

Following the historic signing of a partnership between the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the Barbados-based fintech firm BITT in February 2019 to launch the digital dollar, the Government of Montserrat (GOM) announced recently a pilot project to test the use of the DXCD on island.

Bitt has been working with the Government of Montserrat and other domestic stakeholders, such as the private sector, commercial banks, and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), to create a digital payments ecosystem in Montserrat.

GoM is inviting the public to participate in a progressive initiative aimed at boosting financial inclusion and improving the ease of doing business in Montserrat and across the Eastern Caribbean. This initiative is both historic and essential to the future socio-economic well-being of the people of Montserrat.

As Premier Romeo announced, upon signing the MOU, “The people of Montserrat will benefit from increased financial inclusion, and a significant reduction in their need for cash to make payments for goods and services, or as a means of saving. Anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer, will now be able to conduct these domestic transactions securely, efficiently, and, digitally.”

While highlighting the importance of creating a digital payments ecosystem in Montserrat, Premier Romeo added that, “The use of cash, as we all know, has risks and costs associated with it. It costs money to print money, and saving cash ‘under the mattress’ and walking around with cash can be risky.” He further stated that “the need for cash for everyday transactions like purchases, or sending money locally to your loved ones, would be eliminated, as you would be able to use Bitt’s mMoney mobile wallet for free peer-to-peer transfers of money using your smartphone, tablet or computer.”

The digital payments ecosystem, once implemented, will include a number of free services. Consumers need only to download Bitt’s free mMoney mobile wallet app from Google Playstore and Apple Appstore to access the free services including: sending money to loved ones locally or within the ECCU, paying for goods and services, and adding funds to their wallet, and cashing-out of the wallet at participating merchant/tellers. 

The Government of Montserrat is inviting members of the public service to volunteer to participate in this important pilot rollout of Bitt’s money solution.

For further information click the link https://www.bitt.com/assets/Montserrat_Bitt_Communiqué.pdf:

Related: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/are-digital-wallets-coming-to-montserrat/

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, International, News, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Figure 2: Crick’s March 19, 1953 letter, p. 5 with a highlight (Fair use)

The Credibility of God

by

A Special: Part 7

Is the gospel a credible basis for a just civilisation?

When Cayman Chief Justice Anthony Smellie recently ruled[1] to impose same-sex marriage under colour of law in Cayman, some of his underlying points suggested that tradition, religion and linked religious ethics lack basic intellectual credibility and are particularly prone to inequities. Also, in recent years, there has been a flood of articles and voices across the Caribbean that have tried to discredit and dismiss the gospel, the Scriptures that teach it and the churches that bear witness to it. Last September, in answer to one such article,  the below was submitted under the right of reply, but was unfortunately rejected by a leading regional newspaper. Given what is now so clearly at stake and given the foundational importance of the gospel message and gospel ethics, we present the below as a needed first defence of our civilisation.

Over the years, many millions have met and been transformed through meeting God in the face of Christ. This includes countless Jamaicans [and many other people across the Caribbean]. It also includes many famed scholars, eminent scientists and leaders of powerful reformations. Logically, if just one of these millions has actually been reconciled with God through Christ, God must be real and the gospel must be true. (Where, if instead so many are deeply delusional, that would undermine the rational credibility of the human mind.)

However, for some years now various voices have tried to dismissively question God, the gospel and Christians. So, it is not unexpected to see Mr Gordon Robinson writing in the Gleaner[2] recently (on Sunday, August 26, 2018),  about alleged “dangerous dogma promulgated by the Church and its many brainwashed surrogates,” “perverse propaganda spread by Christian churches,” “sycophants” and the like.

Along the way, he managed to ask a pivotal question: “Who/what is God?”

Regrettably, he also implied outright fraud by church leaders: “Either the Church has NO CLUE about who/what God really is, or it deliberately misrepresents God’s essence in order to frighten people into becoming church members and tithing. Nothing else makes sense.”

Fig 1 DNA, Showing the Genetic Code (HT ResearchGate)

In fact, a simple Internet search might give a better answer. For, thinkers such as a Thomas Aquinas or an Augustine of Hippo or a Paul of Tarsus or even a Wayne Grudem[3] or a William Lane Craig[4] have long since credibly addressed the idea of God and systematic theology at a little more sophisticated level than Sunday School lessons or Internet Atheist web sites. In so doing, they have made responsible cases that rise above the level of caricatures of the art on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

We may begin with Paul in Romans 1, 57 AD: “Rom 1:19 . . . what can be known about God is plain to [people], because God has shown it to them. 20 For [God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So [people] are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  [ESV]

Here, one of the top dozen minds of our civilisation first points out how our morally governed interior life and what we see in the world all around jointly call us to God our Creator. But, too often we suppress the force of that inner testimony and outer evidence. (This, predictably, leads to unsound thinking and destructive deeds stemming from benumbed consciences and en-darkened minds.)

For one, consider how for sixty years now we have known that the DNA in the cells of our bodies has in it complex, alphanumeric, algorithmic code that is executed through molecular nanotechnology to build proteins, the workhorses of biological life. That’s why Sir Francis Crick wrote to his son Michael on March 19, 1953 that “we believe that the DNA is a code. That is, the order of bases (the letters) makes one gene different from another gene (just as one page of print is different from another).”

Yes, alphanumeric code (so, language!), algorithms (so, purpose!), i.e. intelligent design of life from the first living cell on. Including, us. No wonder the dean of the so-called New Atheists was forced to admit that Biology studies complicated things that give a strong appearance of design. 

1947 saw the advent of the transistor age, allowing storage of a single bit of information in a tiny electronic wonder. We have since advanced to computers based on silicon chips comparable in size to a thumb-nail, with millions of transistors. These microchips and support machinery process many millions of instructions per second and have storage capacities of many gigabytes. Coded electronic communication signals routinely go across millions of miles through the solar system.  Every one of these devices and systems required careful design by highly educated engineers, scientists and programmers. The living, self-replicating cell’s sophistication dwarfs all of these; yet we question the all-knowing God, the author of life.

Figure 2: Crick’s March 19, 1953 letter, p. 5 with a highlight (Fair use)

Next, Mr. Robinson and others inevitably appeal to our known duty to truth, right reasoning, fairness, prudent judgement, etc.  But, where did that inner moral law (testified to by our consciences) come from? Surely, it is not a delusion; or else responsible, freely rational discussion would collapse into nihilistic chaos: might and manipulation (= “power and propaganda”) make ‘right,’ ‘rights,’ ‘justice,’ ‘truth,’ ‘knowledge’ etc. Instead, our conscience-guarded hearts and minds clearly show the Creator’s design that we freely live by the light and law of truth and right.

Such considerations – and many more – point us to the only serious candidate for the source of reality that can bridge IS and OUGHT: the inherently good (and wise) Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. Who is fully worthy of our loyalty and of humble, responsible, reasonable service through doing the good. Then, we may readily draw out the classic understanding of God described in scripture and studied in systematic theology: all-good, eternal, creator and Lord with sound knowledge and full capability to work out his good purposes in the right way at the right time.

Moreover, what we most of all need to know about God is taught by Jesus the Christ, recorded in scripture within eye-witness lifetime then accurately handed down to us for 2000 years now, at fearsome cost: the blood of the martyrs. Martyrs, who had but one incentive: that they directly knew and must peacefully stand by the eternal truth – cost what it will. They refused to be frightened by dungeon, fire or sword, much less mere rhetoric. Why would thousands die horribly to promote a known lie?

Their record is that Christ is the express image of his Father, Logos – Cosmos-ordering Reason himself, prophesied Messiah, the Saviour who in love died for us on a cross. He rose from the dead as Lord with 500 eye-witnesses, precisely fulfilling over three hundred prophecies that were long since recorded in the Old Testament. (See esp. Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12, c. 700 BC.[5]) He ascended to his Father in the presence of the apostles. He shall return as eternal Judge, before whom we must all account. (Yes, professing and “backsliding” Christians too.) The Bible also records Jesus’ prayer for us: “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and [“thy Son”] Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.” [John 17:1- 5, cf. 3:16.]

That is the truth witnessed by the church, whether it was 33 AD in Jerusalem before an angry Sanhedrin, or 50 AD before the laughing Athenians (who had built a public monument to their ignorance of God), or today.  We therefore confidently invite Mr Robinson et al. to join with us in a serious-minded, substantially informed discussion about “who/what God really is” and about why the gospel is just that: God’s good news that brings salvation, blessing and hope for the positive transformation for our nation.


[1]See TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/cayman-islands-chief-justice-smellie-tries-to-redefine-marriage-fails/

[2]Cf. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/focus/20180826/gordon-robinson-gospel-according-gordon

[3]See: http://www.waynegrudem.com/

[4]See: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/

[5]See: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isa+52%3A13+-+53%3A12&version=AMP

Posted in Columns, De Ole Dawg, Education, International, Local, News, OECS, Opinions, Regional, Scriptures0 Comments

Mitchel Anguilla

Connecticut Man Facing Charges In Anguilla Over Death Of Resort Worker

April 23, 2019 – Lisa Rozner, Local TV

https://cbsloc.al/2vhodI9

DARIEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – A Connecticut man is accused of killing a hotel worker on a Caribbean island while on vacation with his family.

Scott Hapgood

A family vacation on the British island of Anguilla ended with an arrest and accusations of manslaughter for 44-year-old Scott Hapgood, of Darien.

Last week the island’s police department arrested the father of three in the death of 27-year-old hotel employee Kenny Mitchel. Mitchel worked at the luxury Malliouhana Resort, where Hapgood was staying.

Kenny Mitchel

A death certificate shows Mitchel, also a father and husband, died of suffocation and blunt force trauma to the head, neck and torso.

Hapgood’s lawyer reportedly alleges his client was acting in self-defense.

A judge in Anguilla initially denied bail but then allowed Hapgood to walk free on bail equivalent to about $75,000.

His neighbors didn’t want to go on-camera, but were shocked and say Hapgood is a kind man. They say the family has three children in elementary and middle school.

Hapgood works at UBS Financial Services Company. A representative there would only say they were following the situation closely.

As for Mitchel, his family tells CBS2 he’s a native of Dominica and was a peaceful man from a devout Christian family. Among those he leaves behind are a daughter, who they say was his pride and joy.

Hapgood is due back in court on the island Aug. 22. His lawyer allegedly told a local paper there that he has every intention to clear his name.

Posted in Court, Crime, International, Local, News, Obituaries, Regional, Youth0 Comments

A view of St. Sebastian's Church, damaged in a blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday (Chamila Karunarathne - AP)

Sri Lanka blames local Islamist extremist group for Easter bombings that killed 290

(Adapted)

By Joanna Slater , Amantha Perera and Shibani Mahtani April 22

Explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killed 290 people and injured more than 500 Sunday. This is what we know so far:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/world/this-is-a-very-cowardly-attack-sri-lanka-blasts-leave-hundreds-dead-on-easter-sunday/2019/04/21/eaecd2dc-9c42-482f-9e09-e3ea06a3372a_video.html

● Government says attack carried out by National Thowheed Jamaath, a local Islamist militant group, with suspected international assistance.

● Churches were attacked by suicide bombers as worshipers gathered for Easter services.

● Prime minister says elements of government had prior intelligence of attacks.

● At least a dozen of the dead were foreigners, including from India, Japan, the United States and Britain.

● The Sri Lankan air force said it defused an explosive near Colombo’s main airport.


‘This is a very cowardly attack’: Sri Lanka blasts leave hundreds dead on Easter Sunday

Coordinated explosions targeting churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killed more than 200 people and injured more than 450 on April 21. (Drea Cornejo, JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka on Monday accused a local Islamist extremist group, the National Thowheed Jamaath, of being behind a string of Easter bombings against churches and hotels that killed at least 290 people.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the group, which roughly translates as National Monotheism Organization, perpetrated the attack using suicide bombers against three churches and three hotels, adding that it likely had international links.

“We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,” he said. “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”

He also called for the police inspector general, Pujith Jayasundara, to resign because security agencies had received a report warning of attacks by this group against churches and hotels weeks before.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena said he would seek “international assistance” in the investigations into the serial blasts. Intelligence agencies have reported that “international organizations” were behind these “acts of local terrorists,” said a statement from his office. The statement also said that the government would implement anti-terrorism measures that give additional powers to police, effective at midnight.

Attention is now focusing on why and how the government and security forces were unable to foil the coordinated bombings. Two officials provided The Post with the three-page intelligence report that the health minister alluded to, in which a senior police official warned of potential suicide attacks by the same Islamist extremist group.

Sri Lankan security forces officers secure a site believed to be a hideout of the militants following a shootout in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday. (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

The report also identified several members by name, including its alleged leader, Mohamed Zaharan. Mujibur Rahman, a member of Sri Lanka’s Parliament who was briefed on the report, said it was based on input from Indian intelligence agencies.

The highly coordinated attacks left the island nation reeling, a crushing blow after almost a decade of peace since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war. 

In that time, tourism in Sri Lanka had been steadily growing, the country transformed by the apparent end of instability, bloodshed and frequent suicide bombings over the 26-year war. 

A huge number of the dead were worshipers at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, north of Colombo; officials reported at least 104 dead there. A church in Batticaloa on the island’s eastern shore was also attacked.

In Colombo, the three high-end hotels attacked included the Shangri-La and the Cinnamon Grand hotel. An official at the Sri Lankan air force said an explosive was defused close to the city’s main airport, the Bandaranaike International Airport, on Sunday night, probably an additional target. 

At the Shangri-La Hotel, the blast occurred in a restaurant as guests were having breakfast. Investigators who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press said that two suspects had checked into a room at the hotel earlier in the morning and gave local addresses to hotel staff.

A curfew has been imposed from 8 p.m. Monday night until 4 a.m. the next morning.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told reporters Sunday that some government officials had prior intelligence about the attacks but did not act on it.

“Information was there,” he said at a news conference. “This is a matter we need to look into.”

[Sri Lanka timeline: How eight explosions wrought devastation on Easter Sunday]

The security apparatus in Sri Lanka is controlled by the president, Maithripala Sirisena. Relations between him and the prime minister have been at a low point since Sirisena tried to oust Wickremesinghe from office late last year, launching a political crisis. 

Rahman, the member of Parliament briefed on the report, is affiliated with country transformed minister and said Wickremesinghe “had the letter in his hand” when he met with lawmakers Sunday, referring to the notice. 

“He told us that the Indian intelligence had conveyed threats of possible attacks. Two possible dates were mentioned, April 4 and 11,” Rahman said. “Part of the problem is since the October 26 coup, the prime minister has not been invited to the security council meetings, so we don’t know what is being discussed,” he added.

Police arrested 13 people in connection with the bombings, and three police officers were killed during a raid at a suspect’s house. 

Images of splintered pews and bloodstained floors played across local television screens Sunday as the enormity of the attacks, launched on the holiest day of the Christian calendar, became clear.

From the altar of St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo, the Rev. Joy country transformed out at worshipers packed into pews and standing along walls for Easter Sunday.

Nearly halfway through the Mass, as the congregation stood to recite prayers, he heard an enormous blast and saw what he described as a fireball.

The explosion was so powerful that it blew off much of church’s roof, sending debris raining down on the people below.

As the smoke cleared, he saw a terrifying scene: scores of wounded and dead, crying out in pain and fear. At first, Mariyaratnam was motionless with panic. “I was thinking, ‘How could such a thing happen in a place of worship?’” he said. “We are still in shock.”

Delicia Fernando, 52, was sitting toward the front of St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo with her son and two daughters. Her husband Ravi preferred to stand at the back of the church. Her first impulse after the explosion was to run, but then she and her children turned back to look for Ravi. They found him crushed under debris from the roof, his body pierced with shrapnel.

Sitting in the living room of her parents’ home near the church, she said she had never experienced anything like this violence, not even at the height of the country’s civil war.

A view of St. Sebastian’s Church, damaged in a blast in Negombo, north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday. (Chamila Karunarathne/AP)

Though a majority of the dead were Sri Lankan, at least a dozen were foreigners including people from India, Japan, Britain, the United States and Turkey. The unidentified bodies of 25 people believed to be foreigners were at a government mortuary in Colombo.

The dead included “several” Americans, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. He blamed “radical terrorists” for the attacks. 

Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist nation, but it is also home to significant Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities. While there has been intermittent conflict between religious groups — including threats to Christians — nothing remotely like Sunday’s attacks had occurred.

Blasts ripped through three churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa at approximately 8:45 a.m. Sunday as worshipers were gathering for services, police said. 

Ruwan Wijewardene, the state defense minister, said the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. Six of the attacks occurred between 8:45 and 9:30 a.m.

There was a seventh blast at a banquet hall about 2 p.m. and an eighth at the house raided by police around 2:45 p.m.

The deadliest attack was at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, known as “little Rome” for its Catholic presence. Also targeted was St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, the largest Catholic congregation in Colombo, and Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa.

Two people at the Shangri-La Hotel described a powerful explosion that made the ground shake just before 9 a.m. Photos showed broken windows and shattered glass on a street next to the hotel.

Sarita Marlou, a guest at the hotel, wrote on Facebook that she felt the impact of the explosion in the hotel’s flagship restaurant all the way up on the 17th floor. She described seeing pools of blood as she evacuated the hotel.

Also targeted were the ground-floor Taprobane restaurant at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel and the luxury Kingsbury Hotel.

[Sri Lankan government blocks social media and imposes curfew following deadly blasts]

Three police officers were killed in a clash at a home in the Dematagoda area of Colombo, police said. They had gone there to interrogate an individual.

Pompeo condemned the attacks “in the strongest terms.”

“Attacks on innocent people gathering in a place of worship or enjoying a holiday meal are affronts to the universal values and freedoms that we hold dear, and demonstrate yet again the brutal nature of radical terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten peace and security,” he said in a statement.

A victim’s relative mourns at the police mortuary in Colombo. (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)

In an updated travel advisory issued late Sunday, the State Department warned that “terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Sri Lanka,” citing threats to tourist sites, shopping malls, hotels, places of worship and other public areas.

Sri Lankan authorities blocked Facebook and the messaging application WhatsApp in an attempt to halt the spread of false and inflammatory messages. Security was heightened at churches across the country, and the streets of Colombo grew quiet and deserted as the curfew took effect.

Wickremesinghe, the prime minister, condemned “the cowardly attacks on our people today” and urged the country to remain “united and strong.”

The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist activity online, reported Sunday that Islamic State supporters were portraying the attacks as revenge for strikes on mosques and Muslims.

Yousef A. al-Othaimeen, head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, “strongly condemned” the “cowardly attacks [on] innocent worshipers and civilians.” The OIC represents 57 predominantly Muslim nations.

People in Sri Lanka expressed a sense of disbelief at the eruption of violence. Biraj Patnaik, South Asia director for the human rights group Amnesty International, said Sri Lanka has witnessed rising hostility toward Christians and Muslims in recent years, including repeated attempts to disrupt prayers at churches. But the scale of Sunday’s attacks, he said, was “shocking and unprecedented.”

The bombings were the worst violence to hit Colombo since 1996, when a blast at the country’s central bank killed nearly 100 people. That attack was carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, which waged a war for a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka’s north for more than 30 years.

Messages of condolence and condemnation on Sunday poured in from around the world.

Pope Francis during his Easter address called the attacks “horrendous” and expressed a “heartfelt closeness to the Christian community, attacked while gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such a cruel act of violence.”

“I entrust to the Lord all who so tragically died, and I pray for the wounded and all those who suffer because of this traumatic event,” Francis said.

Mahtani reported from Hong Kong. Rukshana Rizwie in Colombo, Niha Masih in New Delhi and Chico Harlan in Rome contributed to this report.

Posted in Crime, Featured, General, International, Local, News, Obituaries, Regional, Religion0 Comments

Answering CJ Smellie: “neither tradition nor religion could form the ‘rational basis for a law’”

Answering CJ Smellie: “neither tradition nor religion could form the ‘rational basis for a law’”


Is our God-fearing, Christian “tradition” outdated,  oppressive and irrational?

BRADES, Montserrat, April 6, 2019 –  In trying to establish what has been called “same-sex marriage”[1]  Cayman Islands Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, QC reportedly held[2] that  many inequities have existed in the name of tradition but neither tradition nor religion could form the “rational basis for a law.”  That is but an inch away from implying that the God-fearing, Christian faith that is the Caribbean’s dominant tradition is inevitably oppressive, outdated, ill-founded and/or irrational. Likewise, the historic legacy of Parliamentary Democracy in the Westminster system[3] with separation of the powers of government – the legislative, the executive and the judiciary – may also seem to be just as outdated. 

Such perceptions will not be left unanswered, even though this requires some fairly challenging steps of thought. Justice Smellie and others have forced the matter.

First, we must answer the attitude that one can tell the truth by the clock: what is old (or old-fashioned) is at best suspect. However, truth is not told by the clock, but by what is sound. Where,  well documented experience – history – is a key means to access what is sound.  Yes, slavery, racism, exploitation, oppression and other age-long painful evils and errors are in our past, but so are the conscience-guided reformation principles and movements that created a legacy of liberty and established constitutional democracy in our region. Where too, the Common Law and the linked Westminster system of Parliamentary Democracy under rule of law are historically anchored, time-tested traditions that build in many centuries of hard-bought experience and sound lessons in liberty and self-government. Failure to recognise, appreciate, acknowledge and respect that is not a credible context for sound reform.

Similarly, the foot of the cliff we fell over because we acted unwisely is not the best foundation for building a better future. For example, if we could go back to 1986 – 88, would we treat the Wadge-Isaacs report on volcano hazards in Montserrat in the same way? What should we have done differently between 1995 and 2003? What are we hearing today that we would be well-advised to heed (but may not take seriously)?

Likewise, it is often fashionable nowadays to denigrate the Christian religion and faith in God, the gospel and scripture. All of these are commonly dismissed as irrelevant, outdated, irrational emotional crutches or even as “fairy tales.” More broadly, “faith” and “reason” are often seen as opposites, so only what is “secular” and “modern” is responsible, sound, scientific, progressive and rational.  However, if we probe almost anything we accept as truth or knowledge (say, A), we will see that it has some sort of basis (say, B). But, why accept B? C, then D etc. We thus come to Agrippa’s three unwelcome alternatives:

[i] an endless (= “infinite”) chain of warrant we cannot complete, vs.

[ii] question-begging circularity, vs.

[iii] accepting a finitely remote, but unprovable start point (= a point of faith). 

Of these the first two fail immediately, forcing us to the third approach. The question we face, then, is not whether we have “a point of faith,” but in what/who and why.

Worse, we have seen many scientific revolutions that overturn older schools of thought – often, one funeral at a time. History has to be regularly updated or even revised. After Kurt Godel,[4] we know that the major axiomatic systems of Mathematics are not utterly certain; even while it is obviously self-evident that 2 + 2 = 4 etc.

Do we then throw up our hands and say, we cannot know anything for sure so we know nothing at all? No, even that is a (self-refuting) knowledge claim: we know that we know nothing. Oops.

Instead, we turn to reasonable, responsible faith. That is, we unavoidably have a “faith-point,” first things that we are willing to trust as credibly true but cannot prove – the “first principles” and “first plausibles” through which our proofs, arguments, knowledge and decisions are built. We may then compare alternative faith-points (“worldviews” is the technical name[5]) on [i] reliably covering the facts, [ii] logical coherence and [iii] explanatory power; towards the “best.”

Where also, there are a few plumb-line, self-evident truths we can use to test our thinking. For instance, it is undeniably true that error exists, which is thus certainly known, though humbling (as, we may err). So, worldviews that suggest that we cannot cross the ugly gap between our inner world of thoughts and how things seem to us and the outer one of how things actually are in themselves, fail.  Similarly,  we can be confident: truth says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not.  

Likewise, St Paul astutely asked: “even . . . [for a] pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?” [1 Cor 14:7, KJV.] That is, without clear distinct identity we can neither think nor communicate. A first, inescapably true law of thought: A is A. Where: if A is confounded with what is not-A, there is only needless confusion and chaos.  (Which, should already ring a few warning-bells.)

Of the live worldview options before us, millions can testify that it is not at all unreasonable or irresponsible to trust the inherently good and utterly wise creator God, the veracity of the gospel of Jesus and the life-transforming insights of scripture.

Turning to the scriptures,[6] we meet there the voice of the Creator God, proclaiming the end from the beginning, establishing a covenant people, accurately prophesying the messiah to come hundreds of years ahead of time. A messiah who would be a despised, rejected wounded healer unjustly put to death but rising in triumph and bringing many souls to salvation. In the gospels, we see just such a Messiah,[7] one who was despised and unjustly crucified but rose from the dead with five hundred witnesses who could not be silenced, and now with millions across the Caribbean and world whose lives have been touched for the good by that risen Christ.

It is this same Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who taught us:

“Have you never read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined inseparably to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” [Matt 19:4 – 6, AMP.]

Here, we see “tradition,” “religion,” “history” and the obvious complementarity of the two sexes jointly testifying to what marriage is at root, a law of our morally governed nature that is prior to any human government and its decrees. Therefore, as government did not invent marriage, its officers cannot use the magic of words to “modify” or “update” or “add to” it as they please under colour of law. Government is not God.

Until very recently, this was generally recognised and respected by legislatures and judges alike.  So, given the contrast between an ages old law anchored on the naturally evident creation order that founds stable human society and radical judicial novelties, which should we see as “reasonable,” why?

Now, too, is what is old inevitably suspect, likely to be oppressive, discriminatory, violating of “rights”?  To ask is already to answer: no, we also do not tell good/evil by the clock but by what is right. Marriage, as that which recognises and honourably binds men and women through natural and complementary differences vital to nurturing the next generation is clearly not “discriminatory.”   So, that our laws have hitherto recognised the law of our nature that is literally written into our maleness and femaleness is a reflection of reality, not “oppression.”

To suggest otherwise is blatantly morally unsound and chaotic. As, we are now beginning to see. E


[1] See, TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/what-is-marriage/

[2]See https://caymannewsservice.com/2019/03/legalises-gay-marriage/

[3] See http://australianpolitics.com/democracy/key-terms/westminster-system

[4] See https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/goedel-incompleteness/

[5] See https://www.thefreedictionary.com/worldview

[6] See https://www.biblegateway.com/

[7] See http://vimeo.com/17960119

Posted in Columns, Court, De Ole Dawg, Legal, News, Opinions, Regional1 Comment

Solar pv handover

Is this end of Geothermal Energy development?

“No!” says Premier Romeo, also Minister Lewis – as solar energy emerges

https://www.themontserratreporter.com/bright-openings-for-2019/

Solar Energy Released

Even coming on the heels of the pulling out of Icelandic drilling equipment from the compound encompassing the MON3 well, the drilling site for the continuing project of “Unlocking the Geothermal Potential of Montserrat” and the news of the report that end of the project, Montserrat on Monday celebrated a milestone in the “green” renewable energy development.

Premier Romeo as he thanked the European Development Fund, EDF 10, for major funding, with other funding, “sourced through our own Ministry of Finance; and as always, this was supported by DfID,” opened his remarks at the handing over ceremony of the completed 250 kilowatt solar project to Montserrat Utilities Limited (MUL).

“Today is a milestone for Montserrat, as we formally commission our 250-kilowatt Solar, photovolt type powerplant. It’s good news to know that it is now on grid, and it represents 10% of our load demand. MUL now has a renewable energy driven powerplant that is capable of carrying about 10% of our peak load.

“As we go forward. Plans are in place to add a further 750 kilowatt of solar PV capacity with some battery back-up. When this is in place we will have one megawatt of solar PV capacity which can supply about 40% of our current electricity consumption. We will not stop here, clearly. For as we continue to explore green energy, like the rest of the world, we will keep an eye on wind, biofuels, electric vehicles, and of course, geothermal.

“On geothermal, we have already two wells that have proven capacity to support our needs. And, a third well that has unfortunately met with technical difficulties. However, we are still moving forward to develop this form of green energy, through working with partners to bring geothermal power plant in place,” he said.

He noted: “Thanks are due to – through hard, persistent work the Ministry of Communications and Works, the consultants, STANTEC and the contractor SALT Energy, all led by Hon Lewis, the plant was successfully completed within the EDF 10 deadline.”

ZJB reported that on Monday, in the history of electrical generation on Montserrat, Hon Energy Minister Paul Lewis, handed over the completed 250 kilowatt solar project to MUL, during a special ceremony at the MUL car park at the station.

The project is the realisation of Mr. Lewis and the government’s vision to see solar become a key contributor to Montserrat’s green energy production capabilities.

It is anticipated, the report continued, that with the inclusion of the 250kilowatt solar into the National grid, there will be an expected reduction in the fuel surcharge. And eventually lower MUL’s consumer bills. The 250kilowatt solar project.

The reported noted this is the first phase of the eventual one megawatt solar PV project as planned. The next stage will be the 750kilowatt solar PV project with box for storage and as Minister Lewis explains the aim is to incorporate other sources of renewable energy into the national grid.

Meanwhile Kendal Lee the Managing Director of (MUL) outlined that the historic storage integration of solar power into the national grid is in line with the vision of the company.

He explained that the consensus of a staff meeting some years ago was that the company should become the greenest provider of utility services in the Caribbean, and, now he concedes that the reintroduction of renewable energy generation into company’s electricity portfolio shows that they are heading in the right direction.

European Union (EU) officer Kyle Walrond who was present at the handing over ceremony cemented the EU’s committment to supporting the renewal of energy and the sufficiency sustainable development as [Montserrat] like other territories in the region progress to agreeing economy.

The EU rep noted, “As you know we are committed to support the effort that goes toward mitigation of climate change worldwide and every step, small or big towards our common goal of making peace with our planet. This occasion marks yet another milestone in our countries’ development. As Montserrat forges ahead with its goal of transitioning from a fossil fuel based energy sector to a renewable based energy sector.”

He revealed that the  EDF program will also assist the government and its goals to replace conventional street light with LED lighting, solar lighting for roads and other infrastructure matters adjacent to main powers will also be installed with support from the European Union.

The last time the company utilized renewable energy as part of its generation mix was from 1989 through to 1995. When it operated 2 – 100 kilowatt vectors wind turbine machines at St. George’s Hill.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Energy, Environment, Featured, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

Gerald elucidates on Redhead

Gerald elucidates on Redhead

Adapted from Radio Montserrat

A local social commentator continued to give a different view following the officially led public celebration of the life of the recently deceased Justice Albert Readhead, who was afforded a ceremonial burial in Antigua and followed up by being further honoured in Montserrat.

Justice Redhead, a long-standing jurist, who has served with the sub-region including Montserrat for over thirty-five years, died in Antigua in March after a period of illness. Claude Gerald, a keen follower of the workings of the law, told ZJBNews that when one becomes a Judge, one has to be prepared, to make social sacrifices.

“You cannot be fraternizing with Tom, Dick and Harry, because you will lose credibility, and you will compromise the judiciary. A judge does not have buddies or partners, except perhaps for his colleagues and maybe his family. Because judgeship is a very hallowed undertaking. So, it’s not about being popular and being in the center of the red of the egg. A judge becomes a hermit and a recluse once he accepts judgeship.

“I want to argue here, that it’s only in that light, that a judge can have the moral courage to do what the law says and make interpretations that are wholesome and to advance the law. That is what is essential.”

Mr. Redhead was given an official funeral by the government of Antigua, which was popularly broadcasted in the region. The government of Monserrat and the local bar joined also. But, Mr. Gerald says that despite all the words spoken at his death, “no one has uttered a word as to just how his Redhead’s actions helped to grow the law.

“How his decisions have made the law stronger. No one spoke of his integrity and his moral courage. It’s all empty talk about how he was a nice man, how he was my friend and how we got along very well,” he said.

“And, let me tell you this,” he concluded, “in our culture, when a man becomes the friend of an official, that official is expected to do the friends bidding. Justice Albert Redhead lived controversially, and died similarly because of his approach of matters before him.”

Justice Redhead was born in Grenada and studied in London, but, after returning to Grenada, moved on and worked in St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Montserrat for over 30 years. He first served in Montserrat in 1985.

Claude Gerald is a social commentator on Montserrat. Ceegee15@hotmail.com.

Posted in Columns, Court, Features, Legal, Local, News, Obituaries, Opinions, Regional0 Comments

09Howard Fergus FB

Notre Dame

Howard Fergus

An unholy fire frolicked
through notre dame in Paris
in Holy Week last night swallowing
at a few gulps what was in building
for near two hundred years;
this soul and harbinger
of gothic art and architecture
whose spire still pointed proudly up to heaven
after philistine world wars
and years of human hurricanes, suddenly
collapsed losing much of its innards;
flames stained the glass and darkened windows
and the light dimmed sadly over France.

Paris and the world stand aghast
at what seems now just a ghost
of this universal icon of art of several ages;
sad, that it was not insured full proof
against ruination; its fancy wood,
provided welcome fuel for the fire.

The call for funs to build again this monument
to medieval genius, resonates loudly across
the coffers of the world even though
some treasures are forever lost.
Holy men are gathering relics
or what is left of them
like the blood-stained crown of thorns
which they say mocked Jesus Christ,
and consummated our salvation.

An unholy fire rampaged
through notre dame in Holy Week,
destroying sacred things with tears,
and mourning in the street;
in Montserrat the third geothermal well
ended up in smoke in Holy Week.

Posted in Crime, International, Local, News, Poems, Regional0 Comments

Barr-D-Trump-Mueller

The Mueller Report Is Much Worse for Trump Than Barr Let On

https://www.wired.com/

JIM WATSON/Getty Images

If president Donald Trump isn’t guilty of obstruction of justice, who ever could be? Special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report, made public Thursday in redacted form, outlined over nearly half of those pages how the president reacted to and fumed over the Russia probe, seeking to undermine it, curtail it, and even fire the special counsel himself.

AG Barr, President D**** Trump, SC Mueller

The first section of the Mueller report details Russia’s efforts to upend the 2016 presidential campaign, and scrutinizes the many interactions between Trump associates and Russia. But it’s in the second half, which provides a litany of instances in which Trump may have obstructed justice, that the real bombshells await.

‘I’m F***ed’

According to the report, Trump’s reacted to Mueller’s appointment as special counsel in May 2017 as follows: “Oh my god, this is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”

And then, as Mueller lays out in sometimes lurid detail, in at least 10 episodes over the ensuing months Trump sought to block or stop that very investigation. He did so even as Mueller doggedly made public the “sweeping and systematic fashion” in which the Russian government attacked the 2016 presidential election, and brought serious criminal charges—and won guilty pleas—from a half-dozen of the president’s top campaign aides.

Little if any of those revelations had made their way into attorney general William Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller report last month. Even as he correctly summarized that Mueller did not find that Trump’s campaign conspired—distinct from colluding, which the report makes clear—with the Russian government, Barr appears to have misled the public about the severity of the evidence on obstruction of justice. He also misrepresented Mueller’s reasoning for not making a “traditional prosecutorial decision” on the obstruction half of his investigation.

The attorney general has implied that Mueller left that choice to Barr. In truth, the report makes clear that Mueller felt constrained by the Justice Department policy that a sitting president could not be indicted. Don’t mistake lack of prosecution, in other words, for absence of wrongdoing. “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president did not obstruct justice, we would so state,” Mueller’s report says. “Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Mueller then points to Congress, not the attorney general, as the body appropriate to answer the question of obstruction. As Mueller wrote in what seems to be all but a referral for impeachment proceedings, “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balanced and the principle that no person is above the law.”

Low Barr

That the contents of the Mueller report diverges so sharply from Barr’s portrayal has long seemed possible, based on his initial summary and subsequent appearance before Congress. Barr was appointed, after all, after writing a memo casting the Mueller investigation as illegitimate. In the hours leading up to the report’s release, that suspicion increased sharply.

Ninety minutes before the public had a chance to read the report, Barr held an odd and at times curt 22-minute press conference in which he re-summarized his views, presenting an argument that made him sound more like the president’s personal defense attorney rather than the nation’s chief law enforcement officer. “The special counsel found no collusion,” said Barr. “That’s the bottom line.” Barr went on to stress how frustrating the Russia probe was to the president, asking reporters to consider Donald Trump’s emotions and mental state.

Barr further praised Donald Trump for “fully cooperating,” ignoring the president’s refusal to sit for an interview with Mueller’s investigators, along with the fact that Trump tried at least once to fire the special counsel, consistently attacked the legitimacy of the investigation in public, and openly encouraged witnesses not to cooperate. Barr also never mentioned that a half-dozen of the president’s top campaign aides—including the former campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, national security advisor, and personal lawyer—have all pleaded guilty to crimes stemming from the probe.

The true scope and implications of Mueller’s work didn’t sink in until over an hour later, when the report itself was posted to the Justice Department’s website. It quickly became clear that the report didn’t line up with the rose-colored glasses with which Barr had presented it over the preceding month.

The contrast was especially stark in the matter of obstruction. The 10 episodes the report details include a Trump lawyer’s attempt attempt to keep national security advisor Michael Flynn from implicating the president, and Trump’s attempts to pressure White House counsel to cover up or stall the investigation of national security advisor Michael Flynn in the opening days of the presidency, and Trump instructing White House counsel Don McGahn to deny that Trump had ever ordered him to fire Mueller. Trump also, the report says, complained that McGahn kept notes of their meetings.

There was, Mueller also concludes, good reason for the president to attempt to obstruct the ongoing FBI probe. “The evidence does suggest indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal or political concerns,” Mueller wrote.

After reading through the numerous episodes, it seems almost nothing short of a miracle that Mueller’s probe appears to have wrapped up on his own terms, though not for lack of effort on Trump’s part to derail it. Instead, Mueller paints a picture of a commander-in-chief who fought back in private and public against the probe, but was ultimately saved from his worst instincts by aides like McGahn, who cooperated extensively with Mueller’s probe and testified for some 30 hours before his team. “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful,” the report reads, “but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

The Russia Probe

The question of obstruction will rightly take much of the spotlight Thursday. But the Mueller report also clarifies some questions about the Trump campaign and Russia—again offering a corrective to Barr’s enthusiastic exoneration of Trump.

The report’s first volume is a highly detailed and deeply informed investigation of the two-pronged attack by Russia on the 2016 campaign. It encompasses both the information influence operations of the Internet Research Agency and the active cyberthefts and document dumps of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, funneled through WikiLeaks using the thinly veiled online personalities of DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0. As Mueller wrote, “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 election in sweeping and systematic fashion.”

In the report’s first 200 pages, Mueller walks through Moscow’s efforts, as well as the various odd instances where Trump campaign officials or Trump aides met with Russian-linked individuals. While none of the interactions between Trump associates and Russians apparently rose to the level of a prosecutable conspiracy, Mueller himself set a high bar for such charges—defining such applicable charges as only arising out of an agreement, tacit or explicit, with the Russian government itself. Mueller was careful to say, though, that the Trump campaign apparently “expected” to benefit from Russia’s help.

Barr had previously quoted in his summary the second half of a single sentence on the first page of Volume I, telling Congress that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference efforts.” The full sentence is decidedly more troubling. As Mueller actually wrote: “Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference efforts.”

Moreover, Mueller makes clear that part of the reason he couldn’t find a prosecutable conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia was because he was stymied by lies, obstruction, and evidence deleted by his investigative targets. “The Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report,” Mueller wrote. In one specific example, Mueller says he was unable to reconcile the purpose of a long-mysterious meeting in the Seychelles because two key figures, campaign chair Paul Manafort and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, had deleted their exchanges about the meeting.

What Happens Next

There were countless moments—some accounted in great detail in the Mueller report—where it seemed that Mueller himself might be axed or his investigation hamstrung, including threats from the president and the still-inexplicable appointment of Matthew Whitaker as the acting attorney general. Yet, in the end, despite all the breathless cable coverage and breaking news headlines, both Mueller and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein endured through to the completion of the investigation on Mueller’s own terms. In Barr’s first letter to Congress announcing the end of the probe, he—as legally required to do—explained that there were no significant areas where he or Rosenstein blocked Mueller.

Given the nearly 200 pages of obstruction-related episodes and evidence that Mueller amassed, including confirmation that Trump tried to remove Mueller and gain control of the probe himself, that fact alone seems like a testament to the resiliency of the country’s democratic institutions.

But the report’s release also made clear just how much more investigation there may be still to unfold, even as Mueller himself prepares to wrap up work in the days ahead and return to private life. Mueller has evidently referred at least 14 ongoing investigations onto other prosecutors, including 12 that are redacted in the report to prevent harm to ongoing cases. The other two, which focus on Michael Cohen and former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, have been publicly known for some time.

And beyond those, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler has already requested that Robert Mueller testify before Congress no later than May 23. Nadler has also said he plans to subpoena for the full, unredacted report, as well as any underlying materials. Which is to say: This is far from over. The long-awaited “Mueller Time” may have come Thursday, but Mueller’s impact will reverberate for some time to come.


More Great WIRED Stories


Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) is a contributing editor for WIRED and the author, among other works, of Mueller’s War, available on Scribd. He can be reached at garrett.graff@gmail.com.

Posted in Crime, Featured, International, Legal, Local, News, Opinions, Politics, Regional0 Comments

SPCCU logo

St. Patrick’s Cooperative Credit Union Ltd. host Regional Credit Union Movement Board of Directors Meeting

On Friday, April 12, 2019, the St Patrick’s Cooperative Credit Union Ltd – Montserrat (SPCCU) plays host to the regional Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions Ltd. (CCCU) Board of Directors Meeting. This is the first time in the history of the SPCCU that such a meeting is been hosted in Montserrat.

The Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions is the regional Apex body for credit unions whose mission is to facilitate the advancement of the Caribbean Co-operative Sector through sustained growth and development, protecting the movement’s philosophy and values and ensuring safe, sound and efficient co-operative service providers.

The CCCU Board of Directors meeting in Montserrat comes on the heels of the SPCCU/ Montserrat hosting the prestigious regional credit union movement, Sir Everard Dean Annual Lecturer series in October 2018, another first for the SPCCU/ Montserrat.

The meeting of the CCCU Board of Directors will entertain issues affecting the regional credit union movement such as compliance, governance and regulatory matters. The meeting is also of great significant since it represents the last formal gathering of the CCCU Board of Directors prior to the CCCU hosting the upcoming World Credit Union Conference during the period July 28-31, 2019 in the Bahamas.

SPCCU General Manager, Mr. Peter Queeley notes that SPCCU hosting of such a meeting is a testimony to growth and significance of the SPCCU/ Montserrat in the regional credit union movement. He further noted that the hosting of the meeting also represents a recognition by the regional credit union movement that the SPCCU/ Montserrat has become of age and is ready to play its part and hold its own in terms of the regional credit union movement.

The CCCU Board Meeting in Monserrat comes on the heels of the most recent meeting of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Monetary Council Meeting held on February 15, 2019. At that meeting, the ECCB noted that twelve financial institutions were identified as systematically important institutions three of which were banks and nine were credit unions.  The ECCB noted that “while commercial banks continued to dominate the financial sector, credit unions were expanding, becoming an increasingly important source of credit to the private sector through increases in membership, assets, loans and deposits. The boom in credit union activity has implications for financial inclusion and the financial stability framework.”

The SPCCU/ Montserrat is a member of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions and the OECS Credit Union Forum.

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

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