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Melford Nicholas

Antigua government seeking clarification from Britain on former minister’s arrest

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Nov 17, CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government says it will seek clarification from the British government regarding the decision to arrest then tourism and investment minister Asot Michael on his arrival in London last month.

“We think it is appropriate that the question be asked and that at all times, the civilities and protocols that need to be exercised between states are recognised by all states large and small,” said Information Minister Melford Nicholas.

Melford Nicholas
Information Minister Melford Nicholas (File Photo)

Nicholas, speaking to reporters at the end of the weekly Cabinet meeting, said the Gaston Browne government believes that this is a relevant question in light of the treaty on diplomatic relations which countries usually adhere.

“TO whom much is given much is expected,” Nicholas said, acknowledging that the government could not at this time state what protocols had been breached.

“Everyone was jolted by the way the intervention was done and to the extent that the British government may have been led to believe that they were justified in taking that action is a matter of their own determination.

“But we must now ask the question from the reverse standpoint in terms of whether or not that would have been the prescribed way of handling such circumstance were it involving a state of a different size,” he told reporters.

Michael, who has already said that it was “unfortunate” that Prime Minister Browne did not contact him before relieving him of his portfolio, has said he had been advised by his lawyers to remain quiet on the issue.

Prime Minister Browne, who acknowledged that he had, “no firm details of the reasons for Michael’s arrest,” nonetheless said that he had advised Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams to revoke immediately Michael appointment “pending the outcome of his arrest …by the Metropolitan Police in London.

Michael had also indicated to his constituents of St Peter, “who are very dear to me, that they have no reason to doubt my sincerity and my continued devotion and commitment to their interests”.

But Prime Minister Browne Friday announced that the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) is planning ahead and that someone had been appointed to take care of the constituency.

“As it stands now, Michael has not been charged but we have made it abundantly clear that in the event he is charged then clearly we will have to replace him”.

He said an approach had been made to Shermane Jeremie, who has been working in the New York office of the island’s tourism department for at least a decade, to be the standby candidate.

“She is not challenging the present representative Asot Michael….but in the event he is charged then she will be the automatic choice to replace him,” Browne added.

Posted in International, Local, News, Police, Politics, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

Edouard Junior

Warrant issued for former tourism minister

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Nov 16, CMC – A warrant has been issued for the arrest of former tourism minister tourism minister Edouard Junior less than a month after he claimed he was being politically persecuted and prevented from leaving the country.

According to the warrant issued by Clame Ocnam Daméus, the Government Commissioner at the Court of First Instance in Port-au-Prince, the former minister is accused of “embezzlement of public property and attempted embezzlement of public goods…”.

Edouard Junior
Edouard Junior (File Photo)

But the former minister has strongly denied the allegations describing them as “threats, acts of intimidation and instrumentalization of justice for personal and political ends…”

He said while he is aware he is “is not and cannot be above the law” he is nonetheless “prepared to answer, if necessary, the questions of the justice of his country to the extent that the procedures laid down in Articles 42, 185 and 186 of the Constitution are scrupulously respected.”

He is urging the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation to audit the former government so as “to put an end to attempts to discredit its administration and to manipulate public opinion.”

Junior  has re-affirmed his “attachment to the ideals of law and justice” recalling that “the construction of our democracy must necessarily obey the strict respect of the Constitution and the laws of the Republic.”
Last month, Junior told radio listeners that unknown gunmen had fired shots at his home and that he had also received death threats.

“From now on, my safety and that of my family are in the hands of (President) Jovenel Moïse..,” said Junior, who served in the 2016-17 administrations of former president Jocelerme Privert and former prime minister Enex Jean-Charles.

In October, Daméus, as part of the preliminary investigation sent a letter to the Director of the Immigration and Emigration Service asking him formally to “pass the necessary instructions” so that Junior and former economy minister Yves Romain Bastien be prohibited from leaving the country by air, sea and land.

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devexlogo_

UK proposal on aid for overseas territories withdrawn at DAC, but sparks debate

 
By Molly Anders, Sophie Edwards 01 November 2017
 
View of damage caused on by Hurricane Irma in Road Town, the capital of the
British Virgin Islands.  Photo by: Ministry of Defence / CC BY
 

PARIS — The United Kingdom was forced to withdraw its last-minute proposal on changes to the aid rules that would have allowed for spending on wealthier but climate-vulnerable island states after failing to secure a consensus at the Development Assistance Committee’s high-level meeting in the French capital this week.However, sources say the proposal sparked a key debate over ODA eligibility and “reclassification” of countries after a crisis during the meeting at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s headquarters in Paris.

The DAC sets the rules on ODA spending for the 30 richest donor countries, and gathers every two years for a high-level meeting, which took place on Monday and Tuesday this week.

At the start of the meeting on Monday morning, the U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel proposed a change to the aid rules that was not on the official agenda: a “three year waiver” for rich countries struck by disasters to temporarily qualify for ODA.

The proposal came after the U.K. government was criticized for its response to Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean. Several of the country’s overseas territories — including the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla — were badly damaged by the storm, but the U.K. was not able to draw on its aid budget for the recovery because the islands are too wealthy to qualify under the current rules.

Sources present at the high-level meeting told Devex the U.K. withdrew the proposal later in the day, after it “became clear there wasn’t consensus,” according to Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International. Changes to the aid rules must be agreed unanimously by the committee.

However on Tuesday, U.K. minister of international development Lord Michael Bates — apparently unaware of the government’s withdrawal the previous day — told the International Development Committee in the U.K. House of Commons that the proposal was still in play at the DAC meetings. He said the secretary of state was “making the case as we speak.”

Controversial proposal

Byanyima, who sat in on the DAC meetings, told Devex: “The British government wanted to count the money to spend in its own territories; I think that is really absurd. I must put it that way.”

“This is now diverting money that should go to the poorest countries — people living in crisis in Africa [for example], people on the verge of famine like in Somalia and Nigeria — and to give it to your rich islands when you have other money to use to solve the problems of your territories? For me that’s taking from the poor to give to the rich and it’s not right,” she said.

The U.K. government was criticized in the media and by politicians from the opposition Labour Party for being too slow to respond after Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean in September. The Times newspaper’s diplomatic correspondent Catherine Philp told the IDC that reporters had received complaints from people in the area who said they felt angry and neglected after seeing neighboring islands receive faster assistance from the French and Dutch governments.

The IDC also heard from representatives of the territories who spoke of huge losses. Blondel Cluff, Anguilla’s representative to the U.K. and EU, said nearly all of the country’s key infrastructure was annihilated, including its schools, by the storm. Cluff said that U.K. assistance arrived within a day but that historically the country has been neglected.

“We are the Cinderella of the overseas territories … we have been overlooked time and again and this is because we have not been commercially attractive,” she said.

Reigniting debate

While the U.K.’s proposal to make an exception for its crises-struck territories was withdrawn, Byanyima and DAC chair Charlotte Petri Gornitzka said the proposal reignited a debate that had fallen on the backburner over how to account for wealthier countries that fall out of the rich-country category after a crisis.

According to the current rules, countries’ GNI must fall below a certain level to qualify for aid, but no mechanism currently exists for countries that graduate from ODA eligibility and then, due to unforeseen crises, fall back into it.

At the meetings, Byanyima said she “could sympathize with the issue of states falling back” into ODA eligibility due to humanitarian crises, such as war or natural disasters.

“Development isn’t so linear, a country can progress and can regress, I know this for sure. My own country, Uganda, went through a brutal dictatorship and civil war, went into negative growth and slid back, our economy shrunk — so it can happen. It’s not common but it can happen, so it would be good to have a process to tackle that,” she told Devex.

Petri Gornitzka told Devex that the U.K.’s proposal helped revive the important debate around ODA eligibility and “reclassification.”

“During the meeting we have been discussing what happens when you graduate and something [like a natural disaster] hits, what happens to small islands? And when you discuss this you realize this can happen not only to small islands, so the issue of crisis that can hit even rich countries and middle-income countries has been discussed. In the DAC that means that yes, the U.K. proposal was one trigger, but also the discussion on graduation,” she said.

Petri Gornitzka said the DAC has committed, in part due to the U.K.’s failed proposal, to “continue to collect data and analysis about what happens when you graduate on one hand, and examine this more immediate issue of crises.”

More research needed

The DAC communique that came out of the high-level meeting states: “We will review and reflect on the evidence base that documents the consequences of different graduation processes on access to development finance from all sources, and will continue to conduct policy analysis on the patterns of cooperation, including financing, channels, and objectives in countries in transition, in coordination with other relevant actors.”

Still, it is unclear whether future change to the rules would impact the eligibility of the British overseas territories. Richard Montgomery, director of the Asia, Caribbean, and overseas territories division at the U.K. Department for International Development, said that even another hurricane would be unlikely to render the islands in question poor enough to meet the ODA threshold.

“I think given the size of the economy and the GDP estimates that we have, it’s actually quite unlikely these hurricanes would shock them back to a level of GDP which is below the ODA threshold,” Montgomery told the IDC on Tuesday, adding that Anguilla might be the nearest to the line.

However, the DAC did also express an interest in possibly reconsidering the GDP-bound criteria for aid eligibility. The communique issued Tuesday night acknowledges the current debate around “new measures and metrics of development progress beyond per capita income,” suggesting the fundamental income-based metric for aid eligibility might up for discussion in the future.

Update, Nov. 2: This article was amended to clarify that the DAC sets the rules on ODA spending for the 30 richest donor countries, and that British Overseas Territories including including the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla were affected by Hurricane Irma

Read more international development news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive the latest from the world’s leading donors and decision-makers — emailed to you free every business day.

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marijuuu

Guyana to host CARICOM consultations on use of marijuana

 
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Nov 3, CMC – Guyana will host a consultation on the use of marijuana on Monday, November 6, 2017 as part of the efforts by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments to conduct careful in-depth research so as to inform decision making on the issue.

The Regional Commission on Marijuana, which was established by CARICOM leaders, will meet with various stakeholders including Youth and Faith-based organizations.

marijuuuThe region-wide consultations are intended to obtain information on the social, economic, health and legal issues related to marijuana use in the Caribbean.

“Such information would, among other outcomes, determine whether there should be a change in the current drug classification, modelled after the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances for which many, if not all, CARICOM members are party to,” the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said in a statement.

It said that given that reclassification of the drug would make it legally accessible for all types of use, including religious, recreational, medical and research, the Regional Commission is expected also to provide recommendations on the legal and administrative conditions that will apply, as per its Terms of Reference.

Many Caribbean countries’ legislations do not currently allow for full legislation under international law and national approaches to addressing this issue have resulted in various positions.

In the case of Jamaica, for example, the Dangerous Drugs Act was amended in 2016 and legislation was passed which reduced possession of small quantities to a petty offence. It also created the framework for the development of legal medical marijuana, hemp and nutraceutical industries.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Cabinet agreed, in August 2016, to send a draft law to Parliament for its first reading. In August of this year, Belize introduced an amendment to its Misuse of Drugs Act, to deciminalise the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana.

The proposed legislation also provides for the imposition of monetary and non-recordable penalties for such amounts that are found on school premises in specialized circumstances and decriminalizes the use of the substance in small amounts on private premises.

In other countries there have been widespread public information and communications initiatives driven by both government and civil society.

In addition to national consultations, the Regional Marijuana Commission will undertake extensive secondary research to inform the preparation of reports to be submitted to the CARICOM leaders for its consideration, the Secretariat added.

So far, consultations have taken place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados and the Secretariat said that national consultations will continue in Suriname, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Belize.

The Commission is headed by Professor Rose-Marie-Bell Antoine, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and includes practitioners with expert knowledge in a variety of disciplines including medicine and allied health, health research, law enforcement, ethics, education, anthropology/sociology/ culture.

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Dominica PM addressingindpendence

Dominica celebrates 39 years of political independence from Britain

ROSEAU, Dominica, Nov 3, CMC – Hurricane battered Dominica is celebrating 39 years of political independence from Britain on Friday with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit urging citizens not to be daunted by the tasking of rebuilding the island.

Hurricane Marie hit Dominica on September 18 as a Category 5 storm, killing at least 28 people and leaving billions of dollars in damage.

Unlike previous years when nationals were honoured for their contribution to the socio-economic development of the island, this year’s national awards ceremony has been postponed to next year.

Dominica PM addressingindpendence
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit delivering national
address at Independence Rally

In his address to the nation marking the independence celebrations, Skerrit said that the Dominica ‘is still standing” despite facing the “fiercest floods, the most ferocious winds.

“We are sorrow-stricken; we swallow hard, but it still catches in our throat; and we are still standing! Difficulties envelope every aspect of life, uncertainties swirl; and we are still standing! The outside world wondered aloud whether this is the kind of devastation from which you don’t recover. We are still standing.

“We, the children of Dominica, have shown the world that disaster is finite; but, hope is infinite! Maria stole everything money can buy, everything you can put a price on; but left what you cannot but… that which is priceless! We will determine the value of those things through our actions in coming days and weeks. A moment comes, but rarely in history, when a nation’s soul is revealed”

He told the Independence Day rally at the Windsor Park Stadium attended by thousands of people that how the island responds to the storm “will define us, will make us; will become us.

“In this solemn moment, let us all, Dominicans who reside here or abroad, let us chose today to renew our pledge to the service of Dominica, her people and to all humanity. Let us together renew our pledge to fight poverty and ignorance; build a prosperous, progressive nation; and to invest in institutions that safeguard justice and opportunity for all.

“Our nation’s doubters will say what is the point of such a small country having such high ambition at such a low time like this? We say that the measure of the greatness of a nation is not its size or what it aims for in comfort, but what it strives for in crisis.”

Skerrit said that the day following the hurricane he witnessed “total destruction” adding “I saw corrugated iron mangled and tossed aside, with everything else as if we had been ransacked by a giant burglar.

“I sensed uncertainty spiralling. I smelled fear. I also breathed in the deep indefatigable determination of the vast majority of our people to carry on and stand up. When faced with grave danger humans have evolved an instinct to fight or flee. We chose to fight! We chose to rise”.

He said he is confident that people who would have fled the island after the storm as they did in 1979 when Dominica was hit by Hurricane David, would soon return.

“Sometimes it takes a crisis to remind everyone of the importance of our journey. Remember, you only see the stars clearly at the darkest hour. Ladies and Gentlemen, on this our Independence Day, Dominica stands forth on the edge of a great triumph to come, on the edge of a triumph not just for Dominica but for the world.

“The disaster visited upon us has shown in so many ways how we are not an island onto ourselves. We are not an isolated fragment of humanity floating in the Caribbean Sea. Humanity is tightly knit. The industrialisation of others warmed the seas and brought hell and fury down upon us but we will not be helpless victims of this world”

Skerrit said humanity’s development has shaped Dominica and the island’s response must help to shape humanity’s course.

“It will be a measure of the maturity of our independence of its meaningfulness if we are brave enough and wise enough to accept that the challenge of our time is global warming and climate change. We must therefore grasp the opportunity to make a difference to the world to shine a light onto the right path for our planet.

“We do not lightly choose to rebuild better or to build the first climate resilient nation in the Anthropocene. The message has found us. We understand the task. We shall rebuild so as to bring a new hope into being for humanity. We must. We will. Our tryst with humanity’s destiny is not a chance thing.”

But he also acknowledged that the task before the island is “formidable,” adding “we have lost an estimated 200 per cent of our GDP (gross domestic product) and our goal is to rebuild better not just to replace what was lost.

“We must use the opportunity to move quickly to 100 per cent resilient and renewable energy. We must rebuild almost all of our schools and clinics in a smart, climate resilient way. We must build new roads bridges and put in place slope interventions. We must coordinate our rebuilding so that our cables run underground alongside this new infrastructure.”

Skerrit outlined new plans for the re-development of the island saying there are moves to establish the Climate Resilient Economic Agency of Dominica, (CREAD) to support the rapid implementation of the plans once they are funded.

He said following his visit to the United States, London and Brussels over the last few weeks over 50 per cent of the funding needed to rebuild the island had been forthcoming and that “we will be presenting our plans to a partners conference in New York later in the month to help raise part of the rest. We will support the private sector as it rebuilds and restores.

“We will facilitate insurance pay-outs the importation of rebuilding materials the forbearance of lenders and clamp down on price gouging.  For the balance of the resources we are pursuing innovative financial instruments that link the restoration of the rain forests and protection of our marine environment to new resources for rebuilding.

“It will require careful, thoughtful, strategic planning carried out at lightning speed, because we do not have the luxury of time. It will take unity of purpose. It will take courage, It will take fearlessness. It will take incessant striving. It will take every single Dominican to join the fight to feel its fierce urgency. It will also require a resoluteness of character. This is no time for ill-will. No time for petty and destructive criticism.”

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Mueller Raises Pressure on Trump With Papadopoulos-Russia Link

Bloomberg +

By Greg Farrell and Chris Strohm

31 October 2017

  • Using junior aide as cooperating witness, he’s after others
  • Court filing suggests campaign aides aware of Russian attempts

Follow the Trump Administration’s Every Move

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2017-10-31/robert-ray-white-house-has-the-right-to-push-back-video

Before laying out the charges against Papadopoulos on Monday, Mueller unsealed indictments against former campaign manager Paul Manafort and an aide, Rick Gates, who have been put under house arrest. Those indictments focus on their business dealings without mentioning Russian collusion, and the Papadopoulos charges don’t name the campaign officials said to have received his information.

Trump on Tuesday morning dismissed the charges as bunk in a series of tweets, misstating the timeline of events that prosecutors laid out, which stretch until this year:

“The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manafort’s lawyer said, there was ‘no collusion’ and events mentioned took place long before he came … to the campaign. Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!”

But Hilder sees a connection.

“This may not look like it’s related to Manafort, but they’re all intertwined, and the several roads lead to the same location,” he said.

Your Guide to Understanding the Trump-Russia Saga: QuickTake Q&A

According to prosecutors, various campaign officials supported Papadopoulos’s contacts with Russians. (“Great work,” an unnamed supervisor responds to one of his emails reporting back.) How high that support went, and who knew about it, will be an important thread for prosecutors.

In March 2016, Papadopoulos suggested to Trump a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Jeff Sessions, then a foreign-policy adviser and now attorney general, shot down the idea, according to a U.S. official. Papadopoulos kept pitching the notion, according to the court filing. In April 2016, he emailed a high-ranking Trump campaign official “to discuss Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump,” prosecutors said.

Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor who’s now managing director of consulting firm Berkeley Research Group LLC, said that after Papadopoulos’s arrest in July, Mueller may have used him to make recordings that could result in charges against others.

“Anyone who’s had a conversation with that guy since July until last night should be thinking about what they said to him,” Cramer said.

Trump, Russia and the Early Murmurs About Pardons: QuickTake Q&A

Taken together, the charges against the three men reveal that Mueller’s team has access to tax documents and international financial records going back years, as well as internal emails and other information related to those who worked on Trump’s presidential campaign.

“This shows they’re putting their nose to the grindstone and they’re bringing rock solid cases,” Cramer said.

The charges show how decisions that Trump made when he was still a long-shot candidate are coming back to haunt him. He threw together a ragtag team of political operatives and campaign advisers with scant vetting or experience. The documents describe an atmosphere of frantic grasping for an edge against Clinton, who personified the political establishment.

Although the Papadopoulos filing doesn’t name any other Trump campaign officials, the descriptions of the former junior foreign policy adviser’s emails to these people sends a clear message: Mueller’s team knows a lot about what went on in the campaign. The depth of that knowledge could impact some of those officials’ decisions on whether to cooperate with Mueller.

Long List

The list of possible targets is long, and may include former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who, like Manafort, initially failed to disclose work for foreign interests.

After he left the administration, Flynn filed an updated registration form showing that he hadn’t disclosed contacts and payments from foreign entities while serving Trump starting in February 2016.

At the time, Flynn, a retired Army general, ran a consulting business. In one case, Flynn Intel Group received $530,000 from Inovo BV, a Dutch company working for Turkey’s government, to lobby the U.S. for extradition of a dissident cleric who has opposed President Recep Erdogan.

FBI agents asked Flynn in January whether he talked with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak of Russia about sanctions imposed by then-President Barack Obama in retaliation for Russia’s election meddling.

Flynn Resigns

Flynn resigned Feb. 13 after only 24 days on the job. In his resignation letter he apologized to the president for giving “incomplete information” about his interactions with the Russian ambassador.

Papadopoulos’s cooperation also could ratchet up pressure on other former campaign officials. They include Corey Lewandowski, who was running the campaign when Papadopoulos was channeling Russian requests, before Manafort took over in May, and Sam Clovis, a talk-radio host who was a senior policy adviser.

Carter Page, a campaign adviser who traveled to Moscow in July 2016 and delivered a speech there that criticized U.S. foreign policy, said in an email that he had no relationship with Papadopoulos. He said he is focused on his libel lawsuit against Yahoo News over an article last year that said he had met with senior Russian officials in an attempt to soften U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

The Mueller investigation is also wrapping in some Democrats. According to the Manafort indictment, two unidentified Washington lobbying firms were paid $2 million for work related related to Manafort’s clandestine influencing scheme.

One of the firms, cited only as Company B in the indictment, is the Podesta Group, according to a person familiar with the matter. Tony Podesta, the brother of Clinton’s former campaign manager John Podesta, left the firm Monday, the person said.

— With assistance by Kevin Whitelaw, David Voreacos, and Peter Robison

 

 

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Browne Asot

PM defends decision to strip from office Investment and Tourism Minister

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 27, CMC – Prime Minister Gaston Browne has described the investigation involving his former tourism and investment minister Asot Michael as “a serious matter” insisting that Michael “was actually arrested on a serious issue” in the United Kingdom earlier this week.

Browne, speaking on Observer radio here, said that after he was briefed orally on the situation regarding the arrest, he immediately requested that law enforcement authorities in Britain submit the information in writing to Antigua and Barbuda’s High Commissioner to London, Karen Mae-Hill.

Browne Asot
Prime Minister Gaston Browne (left) and
former minister Asot Michael (File Photo)

“I was told by the high commissioner that he was actually arrested on a serious issue…we were told it was not a frivolous arrest, that it was a serious matter, that the international police, INTERPOL and the metropolitan police [were] actually following.
“And, I also understand that it included the local police as well. And, as a result of certain information they would have gathered, that is what led to this action,” Browne told radio listeners.

Earlier this week, Michael in a statement, said he was “sorry” that Prime Minister Browne had not contacted him prior to making public his removal from the Cabinet.

“I propose to speak to him as soon as possible, and to explain the situation,” Michael said, adding that he had also been informed that a local radio broadcast had indicated “that the police in England informed me that I would be required for further questioning.

“This is untrue. The police did not say this to me,” he added.

Michael has since said that he has been advised by his lawyers not to make any further comment on the situation regarding his detention in the United Kingdom.

Prime Minister Browne said he is still awaiting a document from the British authorities explaining why the National Crime Agency (NCA) took Michael into custody.

“I am aware. I and the one who requested the high commissioner to get what they told her verbally in writing. This was done after I received information and took the necessary action to relieve Minister Michael, or former minister for that matter, Michael of his ministerial position.

“My understanding is that former minister Michael was arrested for conspiracy to bribe. My understanding is that the bribe action may not have taken place and this is what I have been told – conspiracy to bribe involving a U.K. national.”

Prime Minister Browne said he has since assumed the tourism, investment, economic development and energy portfolios.

Earlier this week, the minority opposition Democratic National Alliance (DNA) questioned the: haste” in which Prime Minister Browne removed Michael from his cabinet.

In a statement, the DNA said that while like the rest of the country it will “follow this unprecedented development with keen interest”, it has taken note of the “rapid” move by the prime minister to revoke the appointment.

“It is a well-established legal principle that every accused is innocent until proven guilty. However the DNA finds it more than curious that Prime Minister Browne acted with rapid fire in revoking Minister Michael’s appointment as a Cabinet Minister and relieving him of all portfolio responsibilities,” the DNA said in the statement.

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SVG Flag

St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrating 38th anniversary of independence

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Oct 27, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines is celebrating its 38th anniversary of political independence from Britain with the traditional military parade and differing views on the progress the island has made from the government and the opposition.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in his Independence Message urged citizens to continue to focus on the inter-woven socio-economic fabric of unity, peace, justice, and prosperity in the quest of the further upliftment of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

SVG FlagHe said the nation is founded on the belief in the supremacy of God and the freedom and dignity of man and woman and that the ideals, and principles, enshrined and elaborated in the Constitution “are the bedrock fundamentals which unite us as a people in a specific landscape and seascape… and through the prism of which we have been shaped over time.

“They are the enduring basics which engender our social solidarity, for good, not ill,” Gonsalves said, noting that “our people’s unity and solidarity are made manifest, formally and practically, in citizenship which is the bond that holds us together, now and forever.

‘Citizenship is the highest office in the land, higher than that of Governor-General or Prime Minister. This fundamental truth thus restrains us from joining any bandwagon, however tempting its lure of easy money, which urges us to sell our citizenship and our passport.

“Our citizenship is not for sale; it is not a commodity for trade or commerce. And our passport is the outward sign of the inward grace of citizenship; that, too, is not for sale,”’ Gonsalves said, a reference to the decision by some Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to engage in the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) that provides citizenship to foreign investors for making substantial investments in the socio-economic development of the particular country.

Gonsalves was also critical of what he termed the “this unsavory under-belly of a small number of hardened criminals’ which he said threatened the security of citizens.

“Accordingly, this monstrous criminality must be fought unequivocally on all fronts; the perpetrators of such criminality must be stopped. Our civilisation will never allow a handful of gun-men and their opportunistic allies to hold sway.

“We shall be relentless in pursuing them. Our Parliament, Cabinet, Law Courts, Police Force, and all other security and law-enforcement agencies, at home and abroad, in communion with a supportive people as a whole, will defeat these vile threats to our citizen security.”

In his message, Opposition Leader Godwin Friday said independence provided an opportunity to “take stock of where we are and consider where we are going”.

He said in recent times, citizens have endured economic hardship, social problems such as increasing violent crime, political strife and moral decline.

“Our people now live in constant fear of violent crime. Despite these serious threats to the existence of peaceful society, no action is taken by those in power to reassure the public. Official platitudes have replaced substance.

“Our decaying physical infrastructure — roads, bridges, schools, public buildings, health facilities, police stations and coast guard facilities– are in plain view for all to judge. Our economy is underperforming. Ill-informed and misguided policies have eroded our economic base and impeded our productive and competitive abilities.”

Friday said that other effects of poor economic policies and management are also in plain view of citizens including high and ever-increasing taxes, the lowest wages in the OECS; massive unemployment and unconscionably high government debt to the domestic private sector.

He said these “ills” have forced business closures and made local building contractors afraid to do business with the government.

“Accountability for the use of public funds is woefully lacking and moral responsibility to account is denied in the highest levels of our government.

“A correction is clearly necessary. Just as our Caribbean neighbours in Dominica and elsewhere are gallantly rebuilding after natural disasters, we too must rebuild from our own man-made crisis,” he said, adding “we must not fail”.

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Peter Wickham

Regional political analyst speaks on removal of Asot Michael from Antigua government

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 27, CMC – Barbados-based Caribbean political analyst Peter Wickham Friday said he supported the decision of Prime Minister Gaston Browne to remove his Investment and Tourism Minister Asot Michael from his Cabinet following his arrest in the United Kingdom earlier this week.

Wickham, who also heads the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that Browne’s response was entirely reasonable, as he has to set a standard for his administration.

Peter Wickham
Peter Wickham (File Photo)

“This matter is one of these awkward situations in politics that certainly one doesn’t expect and I think the reaction of the Prime Minister under the circumstance is entirely proper.

“He’s now revealed that he received information sufficient to convince him that he should temporarily remove the allocation of Tourism and investment from Mr. Asot Michael (and) I think it is a reasonable reaction under the circumstances,” said Wickham, a former University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer in political science.

He said while Prime Minister Browne didn’t have all of the information he “certainly had enough information to come to a reasonable conclusion and I think we have to understand there are two things going on here. One is as a minister of government and the other thing is his role as a member of parliament.

“For the time being he continues to be a Member of Parliament but the position as a minister is entirely at the discretion of the Prime Minister.”

Browne had originally acknowledged that he did not have all the circumstance surrounding the arrest of Michael on his arrival at Gatwick Airport on Monday, but has subsequently said that the investigation involving his former tourism and investment minister was as “a serious matter” insisting that Michael “was actually arrested on a serious issue.

Browne, speaking on Observer radio in his homeland, said that after he was briefed orally on the situation regarding the arrest, he immediately requested that law enforcement authorities in Britain submit the information in writing to Antigua and Barbuda’s High Commissioner to London, Karen Mae-Hill.

“I was told by the high commissioner that he was actually arrested on a serious issue…we were told it was not a frivolous arrest, that it was a serious matter, that the international police, INTERPOL and the metropolitan police [were] actually following.

“And, I also understand that it included the local police as well. And, as a result of certain information they would have gathered, that is what led to this action,” Browne told radio listeners.

Earlier this week, Michael in a statement, said he was “sorry” that Prime Minister Browne had not contacted him prior to making public his removal from the Cabinet.

“I propose to speak to him as soon as possible, and to explain the situation,” Michael said, adding that he had also been informed that a local radio broadcast had indicated “that the police in England informed me that I would be required for further questioning.

“This is untrue. The police did not say this to me,” he added.

Michael has since said that he has been advised by his lawyers not to make any further comment on the situation regarding his detention in the United Kingdom.

Prime Minister Browne said he is still awaiting a document from the British authorities explaining why the National Crime Agency (NCA) took Michael into custody.

Wickham said that Prime Minister Browne has indicated that for the time being, the matter of Michael’s arrest, “which has not been disputed, it’s enough to warrant his removal as a minister.

“Now this can change. If there are pieces of information coming to the fore that indicates that the approach of the British government was presumptuous in charging him, then he may very well be exonerated. We haven’t heard the last of this. It is entirely possible that Mr. Michael will return to his cabinet position but for the time being he is not.”

The political analyst said that he does not anticipate any long-term implications for the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) as a result of the incident involving Michael, but cautioned that the party should remain alert to any change in public support.

“As far as implications go for the wider government, the ABLP, there are a couple of factors we have to take into consideration. One is the allegations that are being made; but then there is the other side of it. Does this make the UPP any stronger?

“I think that that is something I’m not very clear on because my sense is that even as there some challenges related to the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party and Mr. Michael, the other side which is the strength of the UPP and the extent to which people will consider them more worthy for office would also now be brought into question.

“But I don’t think this changes any of that. I think in the long-term, regarding the health of the ABLP administration isn’t threatened significantly by this but I do feel they have to be on the watch to ensure that it does not happen,” he told CMC.

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Some in Houston wary of helping Puerto Rico

Hurricane relief concert: All 5 living ex-presidents put politics aside, call for unity

 By Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas  — The five living former presidents put aside politics and appeared together for the first time since 2013 at a concert on Saturday to raise money for victims of devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and Republicans George H.W. and George W. Bush gathered in College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University, to try to unite the country after the storms.

Texas A&M is home to the presidential library of the elder Bush. At 93, he has a form of Parkinson’s disease and appeared in a wheelchair at the event. His wife, Barbara, and George W. Bush’s wife, Laura, were in the audience.

Grammy award winner Lady Gaga made a surprise appearance at the concert that also featured country music band Alabama, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer ‘Soul Man’ Sam Moore, gospel legend Yolanda Adams and Texas musicians Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.

The appeal backed by the ex-presidents has raised $31 million since it began on Sept. 7, said Jim McGrath, spokesman for George H.W. Bush.

President Donald Trump offered a video greeting that avoided his past criticism of the former presidents and called them “some of America’s finest public servants.”

Some in Houston wary of helping Puerto Rico

Some in Houston wary of helping Puerto Rico

Those who voted for Trump debate how much support the federal government should give Puerto Rico.

“This wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and devotion to one another,” Trump said in the greeting, played during the concert.

Four of the five former presidents — Obama, George W. Bush, Carter and Clinton — made brief remarks that did not mention Trump. The elder Bush did not speak but smiled and waved to the crowd. They appealed for national unity to help those hurt by the hurricanes.

“The heart of America, without regard to race or religion or political party, is greater than our problems,” said Clinton.

The last time the five were together was in 2013, when Obama was still in office, at the dedication of George W. Bush’s presidential library in Dallas.

There is precedent for former presidents joining forces for post-disaster fundraising. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton raised money together after the 2004 South Asia tsunami and Hurricane Katrina the next year. Clinton and George W. Bush combined to seek donations after Haiti’s 2011 earthquake.

“It’s certainly a triple, if not a home run, every time,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “Presidents have the most powerful and prolific fundraising base of any politician in the world. When they send out a call for help, especially on something that’s not political, they can rake in big money.”

Much of Puerto Rico still dark, dry, frustrated

Much of Puerto Rico still dark, dry, frustrated

Much of the island lies in the chokehold of a turgid, frustrating and perilous slog toward recovery.

Amid criticism that his administration was initially slow to aid ravaged Puerto Rico, Trump accused island leaders of “poor leadership,” and later tweeted that, “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes” while saying that Federal Emergency Management Agency, first-responders and military personnel wouldn’t be able to stay there forever.

But Rottinghaus said ex-presidents are seen as less polarizing than the current president.

 

“They can’t get away from the politics of the moment,” he said of current White House occupants. “Ex-presidents are able to step back and be seen as the nation’s grandfather.”

Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 25, unleashing historic flooding in Houston and killing more than 80 people. Shortly thereafter, all five ex-presidents appeared in a commercial for a fundraising effort known as “One America Appeal.” In it, George W. Bush says, “People are hurting down here.” His father, George H.W. Bush, then replies, “We love you, Texas.”

Hurricane Irma subsequently hit Florida and Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, while both devastated the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A website accepting donations, OneAmericaAppeal.org, was created with 100 percent of proceeds pledged to hurricane relief.

Is Puerto Rico Trump's Katrina?

Is Puerto Rico Trump’s Katrina?

Though Trump has staunchly defended his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, his critics blame his slow response and mismanagement for turning the crisis into an even worse disaster.

–By Will Weissert

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, Entertainment, Hurricane, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Travel0 Comments

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