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Bipartisan group of senators releases $908bn Covid relief bill proposal without funds for more stimulus checks

 by Oliver O’Connel

First US Covid vaccines should go to health workers and nursing home…Disney animation classics Blu-ray boxset is 15% off now

A bipartisan group of senators has unveiled a compromise $908bn (£677bn) coronavirus relief bill.

a group of people standing next to a person in a suit and tie

© Provided by The Independent

The Republican and Democrat lawmakers have been meeting every day for weeks, including during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, trying to break the impasse between the two parties.

As Covid-19 surges and spreads uncontrolled over much of the country, the Covid Emergency Relief Framework includes provisions to help small businesses, state and local governments, and to pay for unemployment insurance.

There are no funds designated for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to individuals as with the first relief package earlier in the year.

It is believed that this is to keep the total price tag down to appease Republican lawmakers worried about too great an increase in the level of the national debt.

However, $560bn of the total funding would be repurposed from the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in March. The actual new money is $348bn (£260bn).

The new bill is unlikely to move forward in its current state, as the dollar amount is far less than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would like, and far more than Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell would want.

Mr McConnell has said $500bn would be more acceptable, while House Democrats have a figure in excess of $2 trillion in mind.

It is nonetheless a framework within which the leaders may be able to work, and lawmakers hope it could break the months-long stalemate.

Video: Foreign Secretary: UK’s aid budget is to be cut with regret (PA Media)PauseCurrent Time 1:03/Duration 1:18Loaded: 100.00%Unmute0HQCaptionFull screenForeign Secretary: UK’s aid budget is to be cut with regretClick to expand

At the launch of the bipartisan bill, Mitt Romney said: “I happen to be a deficit hawk. I don’t like borrowing money. I don’t like spending money we don’t have. But the time to borrow money … is when there’s a crisis, and this is a crisis.”

He continued: “We want to help people at this particular time. And so we’ve come together, and we’ve been very careful. This is not a $1.8 trillion stimulus bill. This is a relief measure – half that amount.”

Headline figures reveal $160bn earmarked for state, local, and tribal governments, $180bn for additional unemployment insurance, and $288bn to support small businesses and restaurants. A further $82bn would be for education, $45bn for transportation, and $35bn for the Healthcare Provider Relief Fund.

The bill will also provide short-term federal protection from coronavirus-related lawsuits so that states have time to develop their own legislation on the matter – something that Republican lawmakers had been pushing for.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr McConnell said at a press conference that he had been speaking with Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about another new proposal.

While he did not outline any details when speaking to reporters, a copy of the new plan obtained by Axios includes a fresh round of funding and improvements for the small business Paycheck Protection Program, as well as the implementation of widespread liability protections.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance would be extended until 31 January 2021 and then phased out; a grant program for shuttered live venues and theatres would be introduced; and more assistance would be rolled out for the postal service, education, and the stockpiling of medical equipment.

If any bill is to move forward it has to move quickly, as lawmakers are scheduled to begin leaving for the year next week.

Democrat senator Joe Manchin said it would be “inexcusable” for politicians to clock off for the year without ensuring Americans had more relief funding to cope with the pandemic.

Mark Warner of Virginia echoed Mr. Manchin’s comments, saying it would be “stupidity on steroids” to do so.

According to Johns Hopkins University, as of Tuesday morning, there have been 13.55 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US and more than 268,000 officially recorded deaths. Read More

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BBC-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is Trump refusing to admit defeat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the latest from Biden?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Express

Disaster for Boris as furious Tory rebels could BLOCK foreign aid spending cut

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REBEL Tories are plotting to block the Government’s bid to cut foreign aid spending from 0.7 percent of GDP a year to 0.5 percent, according to reports.

By Alex Shipman PUBLISHED: Thu, Nov 26, 2020 | UPDATED: Nov 26, 2020 114

Angry Conservative MPs, predominantly from the party’s liberal wing, are understood to be organising ahead of a vote in Parliament on the proposal. Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defense committee, have criticised the budget cut, which amounts to around £4bn less for aid spending.

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Mr. Hunt said: “To cut our aid budget by a third, in a year when millions more will fall into extreme poverty, will make not just them poorer but us poorer in the eyes of the world because people will worry that we are abandoning a noble idea that we in this country have done more to champion than anyone else.

Mr. Ellwood warned cutting the budget will “leave vacuums in some of the poorest parts of the world that will further poverty and instability”.

Andrew Mitchell, a former international development secretary, said the reduction in foreign aid “will be the cause of 100,000 preventable deaths, mainly among children”.

He added: “This is a choice I for one am not prepared to make and none of us in this house will be able to look our children in the eye and claim we did not know what we were voting for.”

Rishi Sunak

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the spending cut on Wednesday (Image: Getty)

Hunt

Jeremy Hunt is among MPs to criticise the move (Image: Getty)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the reduction in foreign aid on Wednesday.

He said the budget would be reduced to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product from 0.7 percent, prompting the resignation of Baroness Sugg, minister for sustainable development.

Mr. Sunak said: “During a domestic fiscal emergency, when we need to prioritise our limited resources on jobs and public services, sticking rigidly to spending 0.7 percent of our national income on overseas aid is difficult to justify to the British people, especially when we’re seeing the highest peacetime levels of borrowing on record.

“At a time of unprecedented crisis, the Government must make tough choices.”

READ MORE: Foreign aid budget cut was right thing to do, say Express readers (TMR: Not surprising from Montserrat)

mitchell

Andrew Mitchell also voiced disapproval of the cuts (Image: Getty) TMR: Visited Montserrat in 2011 with Sue Wardel and laid the ground-work for the eventual May 1, 2012, MOU with Montserrat

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The Government plans to increase the figure to 0.7% “when the fiscal situation allows”, Mr. Sunak said

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Baroness Sugg, who served as Number 10’s director of operations under David Cameron, described plans to abandon the 0.7 percent spend commitment as “fundamentally wrong”.

She wrote: “This promise should be kept in the tough times as well as the good.

“Given the link between our development spend and the health of our economy, the economic downturn has already led to significant cuts this year and I do not believe we should reduce our support further at a time of unprecedented global crisis.”

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Tobias Ellwood

Tobisa Ellwood said cuts will “leave vacuums in some of the poorest parts of the world” (Image: Getty)

The Archbishop of Canterbury made a rare political intervention branding the move “shameful and wrong”

The Archbishop of Canterbury branded the move “shameful and wrong” (Image: Getty)

Backbenchers Pauline Latham and Peter Bottomley have also criticised the move.

Miss Latham said it could cause “more child marriages, more instances of early childbirth, more FGM, more domestic violence”.

However other Tory MPs, including the Conservative Party deputy chair Lee Rowley, supported the move.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight he commented: “0.5% remains a substantial amount of money, supporting the poorest around the world and helping them to grow.”

Baroness Sugg resigns after announcement of cut to foreign aid

The Archbishop of Canterbury made a rare political intervention branding the move, “shameful and wrong”.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said: “The cut in the aid budget – made worse by no set date for restoration – is shameful and wrong. It’s contrary to numerous Government promises and its manifesto.

“I join others in urging MPs to reject it for the good of the poorest, and the UK’s own reputation and interest.”

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has described the cut as a “very sad moment” for Britain.

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Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, COVID-19, Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

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Foreign aid backlash: Minister resigns after Boris announces major cut

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FOREIGN Office minister Baroness Liz Sugg has resigned over the Government’s plan to cut foreign aid.

By Steven Brown PUBLISHED: Wed, Nov 25, 2020 | UPDATED: 17:42, Wed, Nov 25, 2020 563

Christmas grinch caught during festive rampage

Baroness Liz Sugg has resigned from her junior ministerial role after the Government announced plans to abandon a Conservative manifesto commitment to fund the foreign aid budget. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced he would cut the budget from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent.

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In a lengthy letter to the Prime Minister, she said it was “fundamentally wrong” to abandon the commitment to spend 0.7 percent of “gross national income” on development. 

She wrote: “This promise should be kept in the tough times as well as the good.

“Given the link between our development spend and the health of our economy, the economic downturn has already led to significant cuts this year and I do not believe we should reduce our support further at a time of unprecedented global crisis.

“For me, as for many in our Party and the country, it is a source of great pride that the United Kingdom has been a development superpower and contributed so much to the world.

Baroness Liz Sugg resigns from Foreign Office

Baroness Liz Sugg resigns from Foreign Office (Image: Getty)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces foreign aid cut

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces foreign aid cut (Image: PA)

“Our support and leadership in development have saved and changed millions of lives.

“It has also been firmly in our national interest as we tackle global issues, such as the pandemic, climate change, and conflict.

“Cutting UK aid risks undermining your efforts to promote a Global Britain and will diminish our power to influence other nations to do what is right.

“I cannot support or defend this decision, it is therefore right that I tender my resignation.”

READ MORE: Well done, Boris! Brexiteer celebrates foreign aid cut – ‘Ignore them’

Boris thanks Baroness Sugg for her work

Boris thanks Baroness Sugg for her work (Image: Getty)

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “extremely grateful” for her service as a Government minister.

He wrote: “Your work has made a difference to millions of girls around the world, and will stand us in good stead for the Global Partnership for Education replenishment event next year.

“In addition, your leadership and rigor in the lead up to and during the Africa Investment Summit made it the enormous success it was.

“Your passion and commitment to your work have been clear to civil servants and ministerial colleagues, and I know that the FCDO will miss you.”

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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on foreign aid

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on foreign aid (Image: Getty)

Her resignation comes after the Chancellor told the Commons the economic crisis caused by the COVID pandemic meant “sticking rigidly to spending 0.7 percent of our national income on overseas aid is difficult to justify to the British people”.

Under legislation passed by former Prime Minister David Cameron, the UK is committed in law to spend 0.7 percent of gross national income on foreign aid every year.

Last month, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted the foreign aid should be “anchored” to the UK national interest.

Speaking to The Times, Mr. Raab said: “It’s right to say that when you invest in large sums of money in order to pursue a sustainable partnership, there needs to be something anchored to the UK national interest.

Rishi Sunak cuts foreign aid budget

Rishi Sunak cuts foreign aid budget (Image: Downing Street)

“So, we’ll look at all of the areas, whether it’s trade, whether it’s the military assets that were deployed, and see how we can effectively synergise all of those strains with the aid money going in.

“They’re not siloed, they shouldn’t be, whether it’s pursuing our moral interest or our national interest.

“We think that’s the right thing to do.”

In July, it was revealed a staggering £71million of taxpayers’ money was given to Beijing in just one year, despite China having the second-largest economy in the world.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron

Former Prime Minister David Cameron (Image: Getty)

The staggering figure was buried in the Department for International Development’s annual report.

The report found the £71.6million payment to China was sent via a combination of direct British aid and a share of funding the UK gives to the likes of the United Nations and EU, who then distribute it.

Mr. Raab said £3billion would be cut from the aid budget next year, with the axe falling on countries such as China.

Baroness Sugg’s resignation comes after several high-profile civil servants and senior aides have left their position.

Earlier this month, Mr. Johnson’s most senior aide Dominic Cummings announced he was stepping down from his position just days after ally Lee Cain also resigned.

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AP-logo

US agency ascertains Biden as winner of US 2020 elections, lets transition begin

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Biden transition gets govt OK after Trump out of options

By MATTHEW DALY, ZEKE MILLER and MARY CLARE JALONICKtoday

1 of 2 FILE – In this June 21, 2019 file photo, General Services Administration Administrator, Emily Murphy speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Department of Homeland Security’s St. Elizabeths Campus Center Building in Washington. The head of the obscure federal government agency that is holding up Joe Biden’s presidential transition knew well before Election Day she might have a messy situation on her hands well. Prior to Nov. 3, GSA administrator Emily Murphy held a Zoom call with Dave Barram, 77, a man who was in her shoes 20 years earlier during the contested 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Barram said he gave her some simple advice, “If you do the right thing, then all you have to do is live with the consequences of it.’”(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The General Services Administration ascertained Monday that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.

Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said in a tweet that he is directing his team to cooperate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.

Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump’s efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, citing, “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.” Michigan certified Biden’s victory Monday, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.

Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden transition, said in a statement that the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”

He added: “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain a complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”

Murphy, a Trump appointee, had faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration, including in critical national security and public health areas.

“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.

Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “We will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”

Pressure had been mounting on Murphy as an increasing number of Republicans, national security experts, and business leaders said it was time for that process to move forward.

Retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement Monday saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.

“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for Murphy to release money and staffing needed for the transition. Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.

Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”

Meanwhile, more than 160 business leaders asked Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,″ the business leaders said in an open letter to Murphy.

Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.

The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”

Trump had publicly refused to accept defeat and launched a series of losing court battles across the country making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and seeking to overturn the election results.

Murphy missed a deadline on Monday set by House Democrats to brief lawmakers about the delay in beginning the transition, which is usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration. A spokeswoman for the GSA said that a deputy administrator would instead hold two separate briefings for House and Senate committees on Nov. 30.

In response, the Democratic chairs of four committees and subcommittees said they could reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, but no later.

“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” the Democrats said in a letter to Murphy. “Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”

Portman said it was “only prudent” for GSA to begin the transition process immediately.

“Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face,″ Portman wrote in an op-ed calling for the transition to begin.

Murphy’s ascertainment will free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies. Trump administration officials had said they would not give Biden the classified presidential daily briefing on intelligence matters until the GSA makes the ascertainment official.

“Now that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has fulfilled her duty and ascertained the election results, the formal presidential transition can begin in full force,” said Max Stier, president, and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. “Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country’s greatest challenges. The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory.”

Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, the co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.

https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-joe-biden-donald-trump-ap-top-news-coronavirus-pandemic-04f44843e63aad2820bc72640cca2e83

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colonialism_reparation.png

United States: It Is Time for Reparations

COLONIALISM REPARATION

SO THAT COLONIALISMS OF YESTERDAY AND TODAY ARE NOT REPEATED TOMORROW

Published: 19 November 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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derez-a-hole-in-di-budgit

Dere’s a hole in de Montserrat 2020 Budget

Contribution, Part 106 – 5/2020

With what, shall we fix it?

BRADES, Montserrat, November 12, 2020 – In June, Hon Premier and Finance Minister, Easton Taylor Farrell presented the annual budget after a three-month delay due to the Covid-19 emergency. However, there is a gap in the recurrent side, EC$ 22 million (about £6.3 million). He expressed confidence, that DfID would be willing to provide support for the gap, and so he was confident that the hole would be filled.

The Recurrent Budget Schedule, Supp. Appropriation Bill,
Sept 2020

A month later, after four months of delay, answers to parliamentary questions showed that the hole was still there. Then, from August to September, we were told that revenues performed better and there were cuts, the hole was now EC$ 3 million. However, the schedule to the supplementary budget did not explain, and after fiery exchanges with Opposition MLA Member, Mr. Don Romeo, the Government has evaded giving a detailed, transparent explanation of the $19 million hole reduction.

Why?

For months, the answer to that has been sealed behind tight lips; a sure sign the news is bad.

The logical guess is that factions in DfID – now FCDO – are yet again pushing for staff cuts and other devastating cuts. Which would not do any good to an already struggling economy further hit by pandemic lockdowns. Perhaps, we can agree that the better approach is to grow our way out of the post-disasters stagnation?

Now that we have all seen the ship laying the fibre optic cable, and have seen the inland trenches cut, new terrestrial cable connected, and the trenches filled in, isn’t digitalisation an obvious opening for the economy?
Yes, we are to have faith and confidence and we must always pray, but we must also be well-informed, prudent, and guard our liberty. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

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TMR06-Nov20_20 - br mod.indd

Premier Farrell’s Remarks commemorating the 25th Anniversary of Soufriere Hills Volcanic Eruptions

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Former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur passes away

Former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur passes away

Reprint – July 27, 2020

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur

(Barbados Today)

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has passed away at the age of 70,  a Government statement has confirmed.

Arthur, the island’s longest-serving Prime Minister, died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at 12:26 a.m. He was hospitalised last week with heart complications. The statement said that Minister of Labour and Social Relations and St Peter MP  Colin Jordan will be the coordinating minister for the funeral arrangements.

“The Government of Barbados extends sincerest condolences to his wife, Julie, his daughters, Leah and Sabrina and his extended family,” it added.

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

by staff writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by STAFF WRITER

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

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

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

The recount is comprised of four stages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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