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budget address5

2019 Budget Highlights new era of Transformation


Premier and Minister of Finance Don Romeo

The Hon Donaldson Romeo, Premier and Minister of Finance of Montserrat, for four years and seven months on Wednesday,  May 15, 2019, presented his fifth and largest budget of $202.2 million in a BUDGET SPEECH, under the theme, “A New Era of Transformation: A Platform for Progress”,  during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly at the Montserrat Cultural Centre where he outlined the spending and revenue expectations for this financial year.

No surprise that the budget focused as it did representing the largest sum of moneys over the time of the PDM government, which is represented in a modest increase of nearly 5% over  last year and substantial capital budgeted sums.

It was that capital injection that delayed the budget as the Premier noted when he was moved to address the matter through special interviews with the media.

The Premier stated “this budget which marks a milestone in the long journey to build strong and sustainable foundations for a better Montserrat, and in our development partnership with the UK.  Given the significance of the transformational projects in the budget, we now stand on the threshold of an era of growth and progress towards a robust future.  We have strengthened our governance framework, with financial management systems and controls that improve the trust and confidence in public spending.  In that context, we are now seeing key infrastructure investments and interest by local and international investors that could open up further opportunities for a new Montserrat economy”. 

The Premier highlighted that “the upcoming Little Bay breakwater and berth will bring better tourism and trade opportunities. The upcoming Fibre Optic Cable Project opens up room for a digitally based sector.  The new 250 kiloWatt Solar PV power plant points to a greener energy future.  The new tourism strategy and economic growth strategy lay out a ten-year road-map to take advantage of these opportunities.  That’s why projected growth in our economy for the year ahead is 3.2 – 3.5%.  We are on the way to the growth targets outlined in our economic strategy”.

The Premier continued to discuss the actual sums involved stating “We have moved to a much more credible budget which was critical to implementing the programs you the people have charged us to deliver.  Estimates of recurrent Revenue and Expenditure for 2019/20 provide for a total of $137.77 million dollars. This is a 4.81% increase over the previous year.  On the capital side there is EC$ 64.40 million to finance several key infrastructure projects that will open the doorway for faster, self-sustaining growth of our economy in years to come”.

Go here to find the speech and estimates:

http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Speech-2019-20.pdf

http://Budget Estimates- http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Estimates-2019-20.pdf

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Featured, Government Notices, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

DSC_6962a

Margaret ‘Annie’ Dyer-Howe gets elegant homegoing celebration

RT Hon Mary ‘Annie’ Dyer Howe

From related posts – adapted by Bennette Roach

The Right Hon. Margaret Annie Dyer-Howe OE, MBA was finally laid to rest at the Lookout Cemetery following a fitting state-sponsored ‘Service of Celebration…’ for her life at the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. She was born on November 18, 1941, and died on the night of April 6, 2019, after a long illness at the age of 77 years.

She was honored for her tireless crusade to elevate women, protect children and uplift the underprivileged. She was remembered for her calm and measured demeanor, generous spirit and quiet dignity. She was celebrated through words, song and even the steel pan.

“She took her beloved country under her wing. And now she flies with the angels.”

The Right Honourable Margaret Mary “Annie” Dyer-Howe O.E. received a bright homegoing Friday at the Roman Catholic Church in Lookout. Following the two-hour-plus service, a procession led by the Montserrat Defense Force, with marching band in tow, made a one-mile trek to the Lookout Public Cemetery. Mrs. Dyer-Howe received a gun salute and was laid to rest as family members, friends and dignitaries sang hymns.

Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s casket was regal as the woman herself, white with gold trim and a hint of the Montserrat madras, draped with the Montserrat flag.

“Miss Annie’s homegoing service was one that truly summed up the woman she was,” says Rose Willock, Dyer-Howe’s longtime friend and a broadcasting legend in Montserrat. “Outgoing, community-spirited in every way and dedicated to her homeland.”

“She empowered women at every level,” added Willock

“She was an ordinary woman who produced extraordinary outcomes,” said Hon. Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat.

“I have chosen simply to focus on an aspect of her personality that no one who knew her for any length of time could ignore: in all she did, this formidable professional and passionate champion of women’s rights, had a calm, unshakable dignity about her that set her apart,” he said.

He recounted like many others in tribute and recollection: “Mrs. Howe accomplished much as a Minister of Government, but she obviously did not need political office to motivate her forquality service to her island. During the years 1987 to 2001, a gap in her political career, she not only managed the Montserrat Water Authority with distinction, but also co-founded the very successful Howe’s Enterprise and established the Small Business Association. She thus used what was apparent loss, to shift her focus to another area on which to stamp her authenticity and to demonstrate excellence.  Giving to her community and country was always her overriding interest. Mrs. Howe has left much for us to emulate as a nation.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe influenced just about every sector of Montserrat. Principled, pragmatic and devoutly Roman Catholic, she helped enact social change during a time when women were mostly excluded from prominent positions in society. Due to her efforts, the protocol for acceptance into the Montserrat Secondary School was changed to allow non-affluent students a fairer chance. Mrs. Dyer-Howe argued that students from wealthy families had an unfair advantage because their parents could afford private tutoring.

The Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne while delivering a really powerful tribute, said among so much more, “… there was really never any one name that captured everything she was, everything she represented, everything she brought into this world…

Former Chief Minister Dr. Lowel Lewis, said in tribute: “She also made her mark as Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

“Mrs Dyer Howe was a lady of dignity.  She knew how to recognize true loyalty and support.  Just a smile and a thank you.  Nothing else was required from her.  And she never expected anything from anybody she helped or was kind to.”

More expressions of her exemplary character as Dr. Lewis also recalls, “She never once said a word to me about the fact that I cut short her last term as a Minister of Government, when I changed to a coalition government with MCAP in 2008.  She understood the reason for that decision.”

Paying tribute on behalf of the St. Patrick’s community. Bennette Roach with Shirley Spycalla, sang in Latin the simple prayer, Pie Jesu (Blessed Jesus, grant her thine eternal rest and peace…). He preceded that with a few words speaking to the special character that she had passed on to her St. Patrick’s community, back in 1983-4 when she promised to correct the wrongs (perceived or otherwise) of the PLM party and strive for better and progress…

Mrs. Dyer-Howe, who was profiled in the book Gallery Montserrat by Sir Howard Fergus, was born Margaret Corbett on November 18, 1941 and grew up in St. Patrick’s in southern Montserrat. She was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who was a district midwife. She attended the St. Augustine School, which was then on George Street in Plymouth, and later taught at the school before migrating to the United States for secretarial training. In 1964, she married businessman and politician Michael Dyer. It was during that union that her political aspirations took shape, spending 16-17 years in that service.

In 1974, Michael Dyer passed away. In 1979, Mrs. Dyer-Howe competed in a by-election in the Southern district for the seat of the late Joe Taylor. She won, essentially reclaiming the seat lost years earlier by her husband. In 1983 she was re-elected and assigned the Ministry of Education, Health, Community Services, Women’s Affairs, Culture and Sports. She became only the second woman (of three elected up to that time) in Montserrat to hold a ministry, following Mary Rose Tuitt in 1970. She married Robert Howe in 1984.

“Miss Annie’s home-going service was one that truly summed up the woman she was.”

Fergus, a longtime friend, was among the luminaries paying tribute Friday. Speaking about Mrs. Dyer-Howe helping to break the female barrier in parliament, he said: “She was No. 2 to wear the toga of a minister, and she did more than warm the bench. She did more than any of her generation to elevate women in skills and consciousness.”

In 2018 she was presented with the Order of Excellence during the Montserrat National Awards for her exemplary contributions to the country.

It was again, Hon. Speaker of the House Shirley Osborne who perhaps summed up Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s legacy best during Friday’s service. “Many of the building blocks of Montserrat were put up, leveled out and cemented in place by this woman.

“So, Montserrat is Annie’s house.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe is survived by her husband Robert, step-daughter Joycelyn Howe, brother Neville Corbett (aka Dick Martin) and many other family members.

The Right Hon. Margaret Annie Dyer-Howe OE, MBA was finally laid to rest at the Lookout Cemetery following a fitting state sponsored ‘Service of Celebration…’ for her life at the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. She was born on November 18, 1941 and died on the night of April 6, 2019 after a long illness at the age of 77 years.

She was honored for her tireless crusade to elevate women, protect children and uplift the underprivileged. She was remembered for her calm and measured demeanor, generous spirit and quiet dignity. She was celebrated through words, song and even the steel pan.

“She took her beloved country under her wing. And now she flies with the angels.”

The Right Honourable Margaret Mary “Annie” Dyer-Howe O.E. received a bright homegoing Friday at the Roman Catholic Church in Lookout. Following the two-hour-plus service, a procession led by the Montserrat Defense Force, with marching band in tow, made a one-mile trek to the Lookout Public Cemetery. Mrs. Dyer-Howe received a gun salute and was laid to rest as family members, friends and dignitaries sang hymns.

Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s casket was regal as the woman herself, white with gold trim and a hint of the Montserrat madras, draped with the Montserrat flag.

“Miss Annie’s homegoing service was one that truly summed up the woman she was,” says Rose Willock, Dyer-Howe’s longtime friend and a broadcasting legend in Montserrat. “Outgoing, community-spirited in every way and dedicated to her homeland.”

“She empowered women at every level,” added Willock

“She was an ordinary woman who produced extraordinary outcomes,” said Hon. Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat.

“I have chosen simply to focus on an aspect of her personality that no one who knew her for any length of time could ignore: in all she did, this formidable professional and passionate champion of women’s rights, had a calm, unshakable dignity about her that set her apart,” he said.

He recounted like many others in tribute and recollection: “Mrs. Howe accomplished much as a Minister of Government, but she obviously did not need political office to motivate her forquality service to her island. During the years 1987 to 2001, a gap in her political career, she not only managed the Montserrat Water Authority with distinction, but also co-founded the very successful Howe’s Enterprise and established the Small Business Association. She thus used what was apparent loss, to shift her focus to another area on which to stamp her authenticity and to demonstrate excellence.  Giving to her community and country was always her overriding interest. Mrs. Howe has left much for us to emulate as a nation.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe influenced just about every sector of Montserrat. Principled, pragmatic and devoutly Roman Catholic, she helped enact social change during a time when women were mostly excluded from prominent positions in society. Due to her efforts, the protocol for acceptance into the Montserrat Secondary School was changed to allow non-affluent students a fairer chance. Mrs. Dyer-Howe argued that students from wealthy families had an unfair advantage because their parents could afford private tutoring.

The Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne while delivering a really powerful tribute, said among so much more, “… there was really never any one name that captured everything she was, everything she represented, everything she brought into this world…

Former Chief Minister Dr. Lowel Lewis, said in tribute: “She also made her mark as Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

“Mrs Dyer Howe was a lady of dignity.  She knew how to recognize true loyalty and support.  Just a smile and a thank you.  Nothing else was required from her.  And she never expected anything from anybody she helped or was kind to.”

More expressions of her exemplary character as Dr. Lewis also recalls, “She never once said a word to me about the fact that I cut short her last term as a Minister of Government, when I changed to a coalition government with MCAP in 2008.  She understood the reason for that decision.”

Paying tribute on behalf of the St. Patrick’s community. Bennette Roach with Shirley Spycalla, sang in Latin the simple prayer, Pie Jesu (Blessed Jesus, grant her thine eternal rest and peace…). He preceded that with a few words speaking to the special character that she had passed on to her St. Patrick’s community , back in 1983-4 when she promised to correct the wrongs (perceived or otherwise) of the PLM party and strive for better and progress…

Mrs. Dyer-Howe, who was profiled in the book Gallery Montserrat by Sir Howard Fergus, was born Margaret Corbett on November 18, 1941 and grew up in St. Patrick’s in southern Montserrat. She was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who was a district midwife. She attended the St. Augustine School, which was then on George Street in Plymouth, and later taught at the school before migrating to the United States for secretarial training. In 1964, she married businessman and politician Michael Dyer. It was during that union that her political aspirations took shape, spending 16-17 years in that service.

In 1974, Michael Dyer passed away. In 1979, Mrs. Dyer-Howe competed in a by-election in the Southern district for the seat of the late Joe Taylor. She won, essentially reclaiming the seat lost years earlier by her husband. In 1983 she was re-elected and assigned the Ministry of Education, Health, Community Services, Women’s Affairs, Culture and Sports. She became only the second woman (of three elected up to that time) in Montserrat to hold a ministry, following Mary Rose Tuitt in 1970. She married Robert Howe in 1984.

“Miss Annie’s home-going service was one that truly summed up the woman she was.”

Fergus, a longtime friend, was among the luminaries paying tribute Friday. Speaking about Mrs. Dyer-Howe helping to break the female barrier in parliament, he said: “She was No. 2 to wear the toga of a minister, and she did more than warm the bench. She did more than any of her generation to elevate women in skills and consciousness.”

In 2018 she was presented with the Order of Excellence during the Montserrat National Awards for her exemplary contributions to the country.

It was again, Hon. Speaker of the House Shirley Osborne who perhaps summed up Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s legacy best during Friday’s service. “Many of the building blocks of Montserrat were put up, leveled out and cemented in place by this woman.

“So, Montserrat is Annie’s house.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe is survived by her husband Robert, step-daughter Joycelyn Howe, brother Neville Corbett (aka Dick Martin) and many other family members.

The casket of Margaret “Annie” Dyer-Howe is prepared for burial at the Lookout Public Cemetery in Montserrat.

She was honored for her tireless crusade to elevate women, protect children and uplift the underprivileged. She was remembered for her calm and measured demeanor, generous spirit and quiet dignity. She was celebrated through words, song and even the steel pan.

“She took her beloved country under her wing. And now she flies with the angels.”


The casket of Margaret “Annie” Dyer-Howe is prepared for burial at the Lookout Public Cemetery in Montserrat.

The Right Honourable Margaret Mary “Annie” Dyer-Howe O.E. received a bright homegoing Friday at the Roman Catholic Church in Lookout. Following the two-hour-plus service, a procession led by the Montserrat Defense Force, with marching band in tow, made a one-mile trek to the Lookout Public Cemetery. Mrs. Dyer-Howe received a gun salute and was laid to rest as family members, friends and dignitaries sang hymns.

Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s casket was regal as the woman herself, white with gold trim and a hint of the Montserrat madras, draped with the Montserrat flag.

“Miss Annie’s homegoing service was one that truly summed up the woman she was,” says Rose Willock, Dyer-Howe’s longtime friend and a broadcasting legend in Montserrat. “Outgoing, community-spirited in every way and dedicated to her homeland.”

“She was an ordinary woman who produced extraordinary outcomes,” said Hon. Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat.

He recounted like many others in tribute and recollection: “Mrs. Howe accomplished much as a Minister of Government, but she obviously did not need political office to motivate her for quality service to her island. During the years 1987 to 2001, a gap in her political career, she not only managed the Montserrat Water Authority with distinction, but also co-founded the very successful Howe’s Enterprise and established the Small Business Association. She thus used what was apparent loss, to shift her focus to another area on which to stamp her authenticity and to demonstrate excellence.  Giving to her community and country was always her overriding interest.

Dr. Lowel Lewis
Florence Griffith
Hon Speaker Shirley

“I have chosen simply to focus on an aspect of her personality that no one who knew her for any length of time could ignore: in all she did, this formidable professional and passionate champion of women’s rights  had a calm, unshakable dignity about her that set her apart.

 “Giving to her community and country was always her overriding interest. Mrs. Howe has left much for us to emulate as a nation.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe influenced just about every sector of Montserrat. Principled, pragmatic and devoutly Roman Catholic, she helped enact social change during a time when women were mostly excluded from prominent positions in society. Due to her efforts, the protocol for acceptance into the Montserrat Secondary School was changed to allow non-affluent students a fairer chance. Mrs. Dyer-Howe argued that students from wealthy families had an unfair advantage because their parents could afford private tutoring.

Jackie Dangler
Wejahna Weekes

The Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne while delivering a really powerful tribute, said among so much more, “… there was really never any one name that captured everything she was, everything she represented, everything she brought into this world…

Former Chief Minister Dr. Lowel Lewis, said in tribute: “She also made her mark as Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

Easton Taylor Farrell
Premier Romeo

“Mrs Dyer Howe was a lady of dignity.  She knew how to recognize true loyalty and support.  Just a smile and a thank you.  Nothing else was required from her.  And she never expected anything from anybody she helped or was kind to.”

More expressions of her exemplary character as Dr. Lewis also recalls, “She never once said a word to me about the fact that I cut short her last term as a Minister of Government, when I changed to a coalition government with MCAP in 2008.  She understood the reason for that decision.”

Shirley and Bennette
Sir Professor Howard Fergus

Paying tribute on behalf of the St. Patrick’s community. Bennette Roach with Shirley Spycalla sang in Latin the simple prayer, Pie Jesu (Blessed Jesus, grant her thine eternal rest and peace…). He preceded that with a few words speaking to the special character that she had passed on to her St. Patrick’s community, when she promised to correct the wrongs (perceived or otherwise) of her PLM party and strive for better and progress…

Mrs. Dyer-Howe, who was profiled in the book Gallery Montserrat by Sir Howard Fergus, was born Margaret Corbett on November 18, 1941 and grew up in St. Patrick’s in southern Montserrat. She was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who was a district midwife. She attended the St. Augustine School, which was then on George Street in Plymouth, and later taught at the school before migrating to the United States for secretarial training. In 1964, she married businessman and politician Michael Dyer. It was during that union that her political aspirations took shape.

Mrs. Dyer-Howe, who was profiled in the book Gallery Montserrat by Sir Howard Fergus, grew up in St. Patrick’s in southern Montserrat. She was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who was a district midwife. She attended the St. Augustine School, which was then on George Street in Plymouth, and later taught at the school before migrating to the United States for secretarial training. In 1964, she married businessman and politician Michael Dyer. It was during that union that her political aspirations took shape, spending 16-17 years in that service.

In 1974, Michael Dyer passed away. In 1979, Mrs. Dyer-Howe competed in a by-election in the Southern district for the seat of the late Joe Taylor. She won, essentially reclaiming the seat lost years earlier by her husband. In 1983 she was re-elected and assigned the Ministry of Education, Health, Community Services, Women’s Affairs, Culture and Sports. She became only the second woman (of three elected up to that time) in Montserrat to hold a ministry, following Mary Rose Tuitt in 1970. She married Robert Howe in 1984.

“Miss Annie’s home-going service was one that truly summed up the woman she was.”

In 1974, Michael Dyer passed away. In 1979, Mrs. Dyer-Howe competed in a by-election in the Southern district for the seat of the late Joe Taylor. She won, essentially reclaiming the seat lost years earlier by her husband. In 1983 she was re-elected and assigned the Ministry of Education, Health, Community Services, Women’s Affairs, Culture and Sports. She became only the second woman in Montserrat to hold a ministry, following Mary Rose Tuitt in 1970. She married Robert Howe in 1984.

Fergus, a longtime friend, was among the luminaries paying tribute Friday. Speaking about Mrs. Dyer-Howe helping to break the female barrier in parliament, he said: “She was No. 2 to wear the toga of a minister, and she did more than warm the bench. She did more than any of her generation to elevate women in skills and consciousness.”

Added Willock: “She empowered women at every level.”

In 2018 she was presented with the Order of Excellence during the Montserrat National Awards for her exemplary contributions to the country.

Hon. Speaker of the House Shirley Osborne perhaps summed up Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s legacy best during Friday’s service. “Many of the building blocks of Montserrat were put up, leveled out and cemented in place by this woman.

“So Montserrat is Annie’s house.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe is survived by her husband Robert, step-daughter Joycelyn Howe, brother Neville Corbett (aka Dick Martin) and many other family members.

Keith  Howe
Fr. Mark Schram

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Trump takes over Fourth of July celebration, changing its location and inserting himself into the program

Trump takes over Fourth of July celebration, changing its location and inserting himself into the program

Fireworks after a campaign rally by President Trump rally in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Wednesday. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

By Josh Dawsey , Juliet Eilperin and Peter Jamison May 10

President Trump has effectively taken charge of the nation’s premier Fourth of July celebration in Washington, moving the gargantuan fireworks display from its usual spot on the Mall to be closer to the Potomac River and making tentative plans to address the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, according to top administration officials.

 The president’s starring role has the potential to turn what has long been a nonpartisan celebration of the nation’s founding into another version of a Trump campaign rally. Officials said it is unclear how much the changes may cost, but the plans have already raised alarms among city officials and some lawmakers about the potential impact of such major alterations to a time-honored and well-organized summer tradition.

Fireworks on the Mall, which the National Park Service has orchestrated for more than half a century, draw hundreds of thousands of Americans annually and mark one of the highlights of the city’s tourist season. The event has been broadcast live on television since 1947 and since 1981 has been accompanied by a free concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol featuring high-profile musicians and a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra.

The new event, to be called “A Salute to America,” will shift the fireworks launch to West Potomac Park, less than a mile southwest of its usual location near the Washington Monument. In addition to a possible address by Trump, the location may feature a second stage of entertainment apart from the performers at the Capitol, officials said.

Washington D.C. council member Mary Cheh, (D-Ward 3) says that President Trump is trying to mimic totalitarian regimes with his plans to hold a military parade. (Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post)

The revised Independence Day celebration is the culmination of two years of attempts by Trump to create a major patriotic event centered on him and his supporters, including failed efforts to mount a military parade modeled on the Bastille Day celebration in France. The new event has become a top priority for new Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, whom Trump tasked with the job three months ago, officials said. D.C. council member says Trump’s plans for military parade are all about his ego

[Trump’s ‘marching orders’ to the Pentagon: Plan a grand military parade]

The president has received regular briefings on the effort in the Oval Office and has gotten involved in the minutiae of the planning — even discussing whether the fireworks should be launched from a barge in the Potomac River, administration aides said. The president has shown interest in the event that he often does not exhibit for other administration priorities, the aides added.

“I think the president is excited about the idea, and we’re working hard on it, and I think it could be very, very meaningful,” Bernhardt said in an interview. “The president loves the idea, as probably all Americans do, of celebrating America on the Fourth of July, or thereabouts.”

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, said in an interview that she is concerned that Trump could polarize what is typically a unifying event for Americans.

Fireworks illuminate the Mall in celebration of Independence Day in Washington on July 4, 2018. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)

“It’s not about any one president. It’s about how our nation came to be, because of a hardy band of brave men and women,” McCollum said. “It’s not about any one person, it’s about ‘We, the people.’ And if the president moves to make this about him, I think he will find the American public disappointed and angered by it.”

An official in the administration of D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said federal officials have informed the city government of potential changes to the Fourth of July celebration but that the logistics and cost of the altered format had not been finalized.

 The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss preparations for the event, said the city was concerned about moving the fireworks and about the logistics of the president traveling to the Mall to address the crowds, which could cut off the flow of visitors to and from nearby Metro stations.

 “We have a lot of people come to the Fourth of July. Logistically, over the years, the kinks have been worked out,” the official said. “We don’t want to throw off what already works.”

President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron during a Bastille Day parade on the Champs Elysees in Paris on July 14, 2017. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The president’s idea for a Trump-influenced Fourth of July celebration began within hours of attending a lavish Bastille Day parade in Paris in 2017, former aides say. Before Air Force One took off to return from France, Trump came to the back of the staff cabin and laid out the particulars of a proposed military parade in Washington — down to the types of tanks that he wanted in the streets and the kind of aircraft he wanted to fly overhead.

[‘HOLD THE DATE!’ Trump announces Independence Day celebration]

The idea later shifted to become a Veterans Day-linked parade instead, before collapsing altogether last August as costs for the potential event ballooned. Trump blamed local officials in canceling the event.

Then, this past February, Trump announced on Twitter that Americans should “HOLD THE DATE!” on July 4 for a “Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!”

There have been no public announcements since then, but federal officials are working furiously to adjust plans for an event that has been largely unchanged for at least two decades.

It is unclear whether the changes to the Mall celebration will increase costs for taxpayers. Launching the fireworks last year cost roughly $250,000, a figure that does not include the cost of security, portable toiletsTrump’s focus and fencing. The D.C. official said the city would expect the federal government to pay for any new costs incurred by changes to the celebration.

In justifying Trump’s changes, Interior officials argued that moving the fireworks launching site from the north and south sides of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool — where it has been located for at least 18 years — to West Potomac Park will allow for more visitors. 

National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said the agency typically has to close an area around the Reflecting Pool for about 10 days before the event, cutting off access to one of the Mall’s most popular sites.

Bernhardt said that, by altering the launch site, “that’s going to be a significant expansion of space that’s available to watch the fireworks from the Mall.” 

“And we might even have some more surprises in store for the public, very very soon,” the secretary added.

Trump has sometimes featured fireworks at his political events, including at a campaign rally this week in Panama City, Fla. The Trump administration is also taking steps to expand fireworks celebrations elsewhere in the United States. 

[Trump loves a military parade — it’s one reason he’s heading to Paris]

On Tuesday, Bernhardt and South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) announced that they had reached an agreement allowing the Park Service to resume launching fireworks at Mount Rushmore in 2020. That practice, which began in 1998, stopped in 2009 after Park Service officials determined that a pine beetle infestation had heightened the risk of a forest fire igniting in the area.

“I am pleased to inform you that THE BIG FIREWORKS, after many years of not having any, are coming back to beautiful Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Great work @GovKristiNoem and @SecBernhardt! #MAGA,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

Fireworks go off as President Trump finishes speaking at a rally in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Wednesday. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

Trump’s focus on Independence Day reflects a broader pattern of focusing on the details of projects important to him personally. He grew obsessed, for example, with the renovation of FBI headquarters in Washington, asking for building specs, floor plans and even furniture and carpet schemes, current and former aides said.

“He wanted to be the project manager,” said a former senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe Oval Office meetings. 

No president has participated in a Fourth of July celebration on the Mall in recent memory, usually celebrating instead at the White House. President Ronald Reagan participated in a “Star Spangled Salute to America” at the Jefferson Memorial on July 3, 1987, which showcased an economic announcement, but the regular fireworks celebration happened the next day as usual. 

Reagan’s unveiling of an “Economic Bill of Rights” took place at 10 a.m., with the vice president, secretary of state and other members of the administration in attendance. The official White House diary estimated the crowd size at 10,000, though Reagan said it was half that. He later said that he “didn’t remember ever being hotter than I was on that platform in the sun.”

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Who of those serve in the LegAss understand being 'honourable'

Who of those serve in the LegAss understand being ‘honourable’

May 3, 2019

It was obvious that those of us listening to the events as they unfolded in the Legislative Assembly (LegAss), on that somewhat tumultuous March 29, 2019, that the story was not near what was coming over the airwaves. It was such that even those who might have been present in the gallery were unaware of what was taking place.

It turns out and there are those of us who would easily understand from being present in the gallery at times and those who would say what and this and that which they wouldn’t do, if they were the Speaker or a legislator, depending on the circumstances.

Over the last several years for over a decade, it wasn’t difficult to tell if a Speaker was being more than bias towards a government or opposition or different members as the case may be. Whichever way that was, except the members were prepared to take some action as may be or could be necessary, in an environment where people talk out mostly in gossip, it meant the situation would only get worse.

It was an unpleasant experience, though not surprising because somehow the lack of integrity and just ordinary common sense that is prevailing among many, leaves no doubt that being forthright for honesty and decency is somehow at an all time low to the point where good is unnoticed, wrong acceptable, and bad is seen as the norm, and good.

With regards to the behaviour of our legislators, or some of them, it was surprising taking into consideration the little rattle preceding here that the Speaker would hold this opinion when she said this. “I find it very troubling that there could be Members of this House, leaders in our community, setters of standards for the others of us who could declare that they find the occurrences of March 29t altogether out of order, regrettable, unacceptable and never to be condoned, and in the same breath also declare that the primary consideration is not the violation, but the votes that they might not get in the upcoming elections, from voters who might disagree with the penalties meted out to those members who violated the rules of the house.”

That is indeed really quite sad to hear, listening to the six charges she read out, and all she had said before. Of course, that may be because she had just said this prior to that statement. “Members are required to take a stand when problems arise and indeed where members are unwilling to take a stand it becomes a problem. To the extent that the members refuse to hold their members to the highest standards they also prevent the Speaker from properly defending the dignity and reputation of the House and, in this case, from addressing the indignity that was heaped upon the House.”

Let’s list them here, the infractions of the offending members. Disruption of house proceedings. Violation of the dignity and honour of the House. Disregard for the authority of the Chair. Unparliamentary language. Leaving the House without the permission of the Speaker. Grave misconduct in the House, including abuse of the use of parliamentary speech.

The Speaker says she doesn’t see these or much else as an attack on her or even disrespect to her. If a singe of those charges in any mix can be made against any other member of the house that does tell of the dire situation this territory faces as it is already looking out to hear or see those who from among them and others who will present themselves to the electorate in less than a year’s time.

There are those who were unhappy that she spoke so long on the matter, but from what she said it appears that it was necessary. It is difficult to believe that anything she said was new to any member and for those of them who were bored and falling asleep, we hope that they will seek to hold each other to the fire as is necessary. And what if she did not speak as fast as she did!

More than half of the members are new, four having served at least one term before with one having a third consecutive term. But they are in the fifth year. All have had training parliamentary training since elected, but could it be they misunderstand the title honourable?

And thinking that even after nearly an hour that there are still those who felt nothing wrong took place. And could it be that the Speaker was accused of lying when they thought they were not guilty as charged? After all, those who voted against or abstained from voting should be called upon to explain their position, if they still consider it honourable.

Posted in Editorial, Elections, Local, News, Opinions, Politics, Regional0 Comments

cq5dam.thumbnail.cropped.1500.844

World Press Freedom Day: “Media for Democracy”

Today’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day centers on the theme of “Media for Democracy: journalism and elections in times of disinformation”.

By Vatican News

The numbers speak louder than words: 95 journalists killed in the line of duty last year alone. 700 over the past ten years. 348 imprisoned.

The figures come from the International Federation of Journalists. In its own report, issued in April this year, Reporters Without Borders denounces “unprecedented violence” against journalists, claiming most victims were “deliberately targeted” precisely because they were doing their job. Still, journalists and reporters continue to risk their lives in conflict zones, providing truthful and reliable coverage of world events, and investigating stories of crime and corruption

World Press Freedom Index

One of the aims of World Press Freedom Day is to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the field. Another is to assess the state of press freedom throughout the world. The World Press Freedom Index, compiled every year by Reporters Without Borders, does exactly that by evaluating the state of journalism in 180 countries. Only 24 percent of those countries are classified as “good”. Norway ranks top of the list in terms of press freedom, with Turkmenistan at the bottom.   

According to the 2019 Index, “The hostility towards journalists expressed by political leaders in many countries has incited increasingly serious and frequent acts of violence that have fueled an unprecedented level of fear and danger for journalists”.  

World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 and has been celebrated every year since then. This year’s theme of “Media for Democracy: journalism and elections in times of disinformation”, discusses the challenges faced by media during elections, along with the media’s potential in supporting peace and reconciliation processes.

In announcing the theme, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said: “No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power”.

Truthful reporting and peace journalism were highlighted by Pope Francis in his Message for World Communications Day last year. In the message, he calls journalists “protectors of news” and describes what they do as “not just a job”, but a “mission”.   03 May 2019, 13:32

Posted in Editorial, Education, Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Politics1 Comment

Gegory Willock

It was certainly messy

Hon Speaker, Shirley Osborne, with clerk in Legislative Assembly session
Seating in opposition Hons. Easton Farrell, Dr. Sammy Joseph, Dr. Ingrid Buffonge and Gregory Willock

Aware that TMR (The Montserrat Reporter) had not given full coverage under the headlined “…Assembly mess,” in the March 29, 2019 issue, we had prepared coverage for publication under caption “It was certainly messy” following full investigation. Time went by, but as of last weekend the time came for an answer following postponement of earlier sittings, when the matter(s) was dealt with in the Assembly held on April 25, 2019.

The result – apologies, and suspensions from sittings.

In last week’s TMR issue we headlined the week’s share of mess both in the UK and in Montserrat, both in different proportions. Montserrat being much less, affecting only the territory but coming nevertheless from the highest level possible in parliament, the Legislative Assembly (LegAss).

We addressed the matter briefly in the Editorial where we suggested from the brief information available last Friday immediately following the poor conduct of the Legislative member Dr. Ingrid Buffonge, in her fifth year after being elected in the last 2014 General Elections, supported by the Hon Gregory Willock, a fact he constantly seeks to deny.

Dr. Buffonge has reportedly said that her remarks were not directed to the Speaker, and was unaware that her microphone was still turned on. But irrespective Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne has explained that she, “… used language that is just absolutely not acceptable here. And upon being asked to apologize to the house choose instead to leave.”

With Dr. Buffonge’s supporter of her failed motion against the PDM government last year, Hon Willock was seemingly in support and joined Dr. Buffonge who rather than, or refusing to apologise as Speaker Osborne said she was asked to do, walked out.

Earlier in the sitting the Speaker had admonished members from both sides that they should be mindful of how they interrupt a speaker., This is usually done by a member drawing attention by saying, “On a point of order…”

This time the speaker had interrupted Dr. Buffonge who was speaking to a Supplementary bill to approve additional funds for health care, for relevance. She was stating her repeated continue d dissatisfaction with the way the Ministry of Health had been functioning. But the Honourable Speaker told Buffonge, “I find what you are saying very interesting, however, I’m having great difficulty making the connection, the relevance of what you are saying to the bill on hand. —would you in maybe twenty words or so explain the connection before you go on?” she asked of the member.

Dr. Buffonge responded by saying, “Madam Speaker, I’m really struggling to have a voice in parliament with you being super controlling. I find that nobody else gets the treatment that I get.”

At some point soon after Dr. Buffonge among other words uttered the offending words, and after being asked to apologise, reportedly said goodbye to the House and walked out. She was followed by Willock leaving the Hon opposition leader with Hon. Dr Sammy Joseph.

A stunned public wait for the next move on the issue. Meanwhile the Hon Speaker is reported to have said, ‘The standing orders allows the House to name and suspend members. What I will recommend to the house, and what the House will take on in response to the behaviours of those two persons this afternoon, is something we will discuss and respond to and address appropriately at the next sitting.”

And so, here we were on Thursday, April 25, 2019, as the questions asked prior, e.g. “Could parliamentary member be facing possible suspension during the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly?”

The Hon Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Shirley Osborne having convened the sitting on the 25th, to address parliamentary issues, as she opened: “Unfortunately for us, the very first order of business this morning, is that we are required to respond to and resolve a matter brought forward from the last sitting of the house, which took place on Friday March 29th.”

It ought to have been surprising, even if not shocking, especially to those who were still willing to downplay the events, claiming worst happen in other parliaments when the speaker continued after addressing the Hon members’ “the very first sitting of what would grow to be called the Montserrat Legislative Assembly was held in 1937, and in its 82 years of existence the house, as far as we can tell from researching into the written records and consulting with current and former parliamentarians, nothing has ever occurred in this august and venerable house that even remotely compares to what unfolded in this place on March 29, 2019.”

The Speaker continued her introduction of the matter on hand:

“Not surprisingly, this Honourable House – and this Chair – were quite unprepared to respond immediately, knowledge of Standing Orders being not quite the same as familiarity with the remedies it provides for dealing with matters so entirely unfamiliar to this Chair and this House.

The entire House recoiled in disbelief and reacted with shock at the untoward and alien occurrence and the house was suspended briefly, in accordance with Standing Order Number 3 (2) which reads, simply: “(2) The Speaker may at any time suspend a meeting.” So that I might confer with the Clerk and Standing Orders for the appropriate response.

“In the interests of clarity, therefore, and so as to ensure that all who have an interest in the workings of the Montserrat Legislative Assembly are provided with the facts, on record, in replacement of misconceptions resulting from ignorance of the rules of the House of Assembly and in response to the opportunistic misrepresentations of the facts, I shall briefly recap.”

She went on to do that in terms some of which appear here in this issue and before. She mentioned however, circumstances and events that took place prior to the March 29 meeting where she said: “…I made a plea to the members to not repeat the unfortunate and unbecoming behaviours of the previous sitting.” She said she made these comments after asking the radio not to broadcast what she was about to say to the members. The essence of this is that what happened that day was a situation which just got far worse than imaginable.

After the brief suspension on March 29, the Speaker reported: “I advised the House that I would confer further with the Clerk of the Assembly, seek wider advice and report back at the next sitting with appropriate rulings and directions for the House,” adding, “As is proper and indeed best practice, Madam Clerk and I, both, have also, separately, sought advice from our colleague clerks and speakers in other jurisdictions.”

Thus she began: “I have done so. My considered ruling, therefore, is this.” Only that before the ruling, she went on with much more explanation of the honour and culture surrounding the rules, existence, control and conduct of the house, much of which most if not all members would have been exposed to before, formally or otherwise, excerpted thus.

“The Montserrat Legislative Assembly is governed by generally accepted rules – Standing Orders, custom, codes of conduct and the authority of the Speaker – …the House is the proverbial “nation unto itself”, within which the members enjoy Privilege with a capital P, or a set of privileges available to no others else in our society. For this reason, also, is it incumbent upon them to never violate this high honour.

“These orders, rules, customs and codes, in conjunction with The Montserrat Constitution Order 2010, oblige members to always – and assiduously – uphold the honour and dignity of the House, to be ever careful to never engage in conduct that might be damaging to the reputation and integrity of the House as a whole or of its members generally, in whichever situation they might find themselves…”

 “Under Standards in public life, the Constitution reads,

106.— (2) In the exercise of their functions Ministers, members of the Legislative Assembly and public officers shall uphold and conform to the highest standards in public life

These orders, rules, customs and codes of conduct exist –

“to assist all Members in the discharge of their obligations to the House, their constituents and the public at large by –

  1. establishing the standards and principles of conduct expected of all Members in undertaking their duties;
  2. setting the rules of conduct which underpin these standards and principles and to which all Members must adhere, and in so doing
  3. ensuring public confidence in the standards expected of all Members and in the commitment of the House to upholding these rules.

After all that and much more, questioning on the way:

“With what authority, for example, would a teacher at MSS be able to reprimand a child for disrupting the class, or for cursing and swearing in the classroom, if Members of Parliament are seen to be allowed to do this in the House, with impunity?

Would we consider it acceptable for congregants to speak “badwords” in our churches?”

Then – “My office as Speaker allows me the authority to advise members and, at this moment, I advise the House that there is campaigning and politics and there is administering and governing.

“I further advise members that, in this House, the guide ought best be, above all other considerations, effective administration and good governance for the benefit and advancement of the entire populace.”

And eventually laying out the ‘charges’ having named before those who have caused them to be brought. “Honourable Members, the matters under consideration are, in general, a violation of the Standing Orders of the Assembly, and specifically:

“disruption of house proceedings;
disregard for the authority of the Chair;
violation of the dignity and honour of the House;
unparliamentary language;
leaving the House without the permission of the Speaker;
and grave misconduct in the House, including abuse of the parliamentary privilege regarding speech.”

Accordingly with the authority of the Speaker. “All of these being behaviours prohibited by the ,

She also cited the Standing Orders from which the charges derived Standing Order Nos. 39, 40, 4, 49, 78 (1), 49 Section 2.

It is my recommendation, therefore, that the violations of the Parliament by these two members be responded to in this manner:

“that Mr. Willock renders an apology to the House, withdraw from this present sitting and be suspended for one sitting hereafter.

“That Dr. Buffonge renders an apology to the House, which must be in writing and with notice, withdraw from this present sitting and be suspended for two sittings hereafter.

The question to be put is, therefore, Honourable Members, whether the House accepts these recommendations.”

It may be surprising to note that the opposition with one member absent voted against the motion, with the two ‘charged’ not being able to vote, the motion carried with the government side voting in favour with one abstention.

Reports, unconfirmed and being checked speak to continuing awkwardness and misbehavior, which may cause further citations. The matter may not be over. The budget presentation is carded for the next sitting of the house likely to be May 155. The two members will be absent.

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

Mueller, wearing a baseball cap and looking pensive, is pictured behind the driver

In search for the ‘real’ truth, and ‘nothing’ but the truth!


The Slatest

Hope May Be for Dummies, but I Still Hope the Mueller Report Solves Russiagate’s Original Mystery

By Ben Mathis-Lilley April 16, 2019

Mueller, wearing a baseball cap and looking pensive, is pictured behind the driver's side window of a car.
Robert Mueller arrives at his office in D.C. on March 21. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Let’s travel back to the distant, foggy past to think about what the Russia-Trump story was all about in 2016 and early 2017. Before James Comey got fired, before Robert Mueller was even a twinkle in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s bewitching hazel-green eyes. Before the obstruction question, before offshoots like the Michael Cohen campaign finance case and Trump Tower Moscow and the inaugural fund. At that point, the public knew two things: one, that Russia had likely orchestrated a hacking and propaganda campaign against Hillary Clinton, and two, that Donald Trump’s advisers had made squirrelly efforts, both during the Republican National Convention and the presidential transition period, to advance Russia-friendly positions regarding economic sanctions and the war in Ukraine.

And, to badly paraphrase David Mamet, if there’s a quid and there’s a quo, there is probably a pro. Had Trump been trying to do favors for Russia’s ruling oligarch-gangsters to reward them for sabotaging his opponent? And did they sabotage his opponent because they knew he’d in turn make it easier to launder money into the U.S. by eliminating sanctions against them?

That possibility became the central mystery of Mueller’s investigation into “collusion”: In Rosenstein’s words, the special counsel was tasked with investigating “links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.” And when Attorney General William Barr released his March letter summarizing Mueller’s conclusions, he quoted the special counsel as having written that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” But Barr didn’t explain how that conclusion had been arrived at, and given that Mueller’s report is defined by a law as a summary of “prosecution and declination” decisions, the most long-gestating question it might be able to resolve when it’s (partially) released on Thursday is why the special counsel decided that a number of publicly known links between Russia and the Trump campaign did not constitute a chargeable conspiracy. Those include:

• The June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower in New York City between Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and several Russian government–connected individuals who brought up the subject of Magnitsky Act sanctions.

• The Trump campaign’s elimination of a line in the Republican National Convention platform that called for the U.S. to provide weapons to anti-Russian forces in Ukraine.

• Then–Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s Aug. 2, 2016, meeting in New York City with Konstantin Kilimnik, an individual who the special counsel’s office says is believed to have “a relationship with Russian intelligence,” at which Manafort gave Kilimnik campaign polling data and discussed a potential resolution to the war in Ukraine. (Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict was another reason the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russia.)

• Incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Dec. 29, 2016, phone call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak—which Flynn later lied about to federal investigators in an apparent attempt to keep them from finding out that he and Kislyak had discussed sanctions.

On June 14, 2016, just after the Trump Tower meeting, the Washington Post revealed that Russian government hackers were believed to have illegally accessed the Democratic National Committee’s servers . Which is to say that Trump and his advisers knew from mid-June 2016 onward that Russia was 1) seeking sanctions-related policy changes and 2) possibly attempting to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The Trump crew nonetheless continued to communicate with Russia-connected individuals about sanctions, and you could conceivably argue that those conversations amounted to implicit participation in Russia’s illegal election-sabotage plan.

Thanks to Barr’s letter, though, we know that either 1) Mueller decided that no such conspiracy could be proven in court or that 2) Barr used carefully hedged language to make it seem like that’s what Mueller concluded. And, to the extent that any single document could possibly resolve our modern information war or allow us even the smallest moment of satisfaction and closure, the (partial) version of Mueller’s report that’s being released Thursday will ideally explain which of those things happened, and what Mueller himself actually thinks about Russiagate’s original animating question.

Also interesting:

What’s Been Saved and What’s Been Lost in the Notre Dame Fire Donald Trump’s Ilhan Omar Tweet Might Be the Worst Tweet in History What Happened While We Were Waiting for the Mueller Report Why Nancy Pelosi Is So Comfortable Dismissing the Influence of AOC and Her Fellow Lefties

The Seven Things to Look for When Reading the Redacted Mueller Report

By Richard L. Hasen April 15, 2019

Donald Trump Jr.
Why wasn’t Donald Trump Jr. charged? Above, Trump Jr. in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on March 28. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Attorney General William Barr has indicated that a redacted version of the Mueller report is likely to be sent to Congress this week and made public. It could come any day now, though a Good Friday release, coinciding with the beginning of Passover, would be the news dump to end all news dumps. (Update, April 15, 2019, at 12:10 p.m.: On Monday, the Department of Justice announced that it expected to release the report on Thursday morning.)

Whenever the report comes, how will we know what to look for? From Barr’s summary released a few weeks ago, we expect the report to focus on both the question of possible “collusion” between Russian agents and Americans as well as whether the president obstructed justice in seeking to prevent a full and fair investigation of possible collusion.

Passover begins with asking four questions, and in that spirit, I begin with four questions about possible collusion that I have been anticipating since the Barr summary that I hope we will be able to answer once we get to dig into the report itself.

On collusion:

1. To what extent did Americans assist or cooperate with Russians or other foreign agents in hacking Democratic National Committee emails, in trying to break into American voter registration databases, or in efforts to spread “dirt” on President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election opponent, Hillary Clinton? We know from earlier government reports that Russian agents did all three of these things, but we do not know whether any Americans were involved or might have known at the time of the interference. Barr’s summary of Robert Mueller’s report, meanwhile, stated that Mueller’s investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Did members—or affiliates—of the campaign, though, coordinate with any Russian cutouts, such as Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks?

2. Were any of the people involved in this collusion investigation somehow connected to the Trump campaign or the Trump family? Alternatively, to what extent were campaign or family members duped by foreign agents? The Barr summary is very careful to say that there was no finding in Mueller’s report of “coordination,” which it defined in a particular legal way as an “agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference.” As Ben Steinberg suggests, there’s plenty of room for cooperation short of this legal standard that could be described in the report. For example, Mueller might believe that winks and nods suggested both sides were cooperating but doing so in a subtle enough way to prevent prosecutors from proving an illegal conspiracy.

3. How successful were the hacks into American voter registration databases and other election-connected computers? We have seen conflicting reports of the extent of Russian success in these endeavors, but the details have not been confirmed in an official government report. More importantly, what can be done to prevent such hacking efforts again?

4. If Americans cooperated with Russians in procuring or spreading opposition research, why did Mueller not charge any Americans with any crime in this area? As I explained in an earlier Slate piece, we must learn why Mueller declined to prosecute former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort or Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. for apparently violating laws prohibiting the solicitation of foreign contributions to American campaigns, based on those campaign surrogates’ June 2016 meeting with Russian agents at Trump Tower. As I wrote, “How Mueller answered this question could have profound ramifications for what federal law enforcement will do to stop foreign involvement in the upcoming 2020 elections.”

Does Mueller point to new specific evidence Congress might consider in pursuing possible impeachment charges against Trump based upon obstruction?

I have two additional—and similarly important—questions on how Mueller judged the issue of potential presidential obstruction of justice:

1. Does Mueller’s report use any language suggesting that a reasonable prosecutor acting in her discretion could have charged Trump with obstruction but for Department of Justice policy against indicting a sitting president? We know Mueller refused to make the call on whether Trump obstructed justice, but we do not know why he made that decision and whether it had to do with the strength of the evidence. All we know is that Mueller’s report says, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” and Barr took the subsequent step of exonerating his boss.

2. Does Mueller point to new specific evidence Congress might consider in pursuing possible impeachment charges against Trump based upon obstruction? If Mueller left the issue for Congress, does he do so laying out clear not previously public evidence for possible impeachment, or is there not much more than a judgment call about whether Trump’s publicly known actions rise to the level of impeachable offenses?

Finally, there is a remaining question that encompasses the entire probe and how it was ultimately dealt with:

To what extent does it look like Barr is trying to protect Trump and Trump’s family, such as Donald Trump Jr.? Despite his expected redactions, has Barr made it possible to evaluate Mueller’s reasoning or the evidence collected?

This is a key question. Already Barr has given Trump a great gift by releasing a summary that has allowed Trump to claim his “exoneration” for weeks without anyone being able to raise a counterargument based on the actual evidence collected and analyzed by Mueller. We all are waiting to see if the redaction leaves a credible report, or more reason to be suspicious of Barr and a longer list of questions. We should at least know the answer to this question in a matter of days.

What Happened While We Were Waiting for the Mueller Report

The focus on the report has distracted us from the reality in plain sight.

By Dahlia Lithwick April 15,

Donald Trump with his eyes lowered.
Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Friday. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, Donald Trump allegedly instructed Kevin McAleenan, the border enforcement official he was about to tap as the new head of the Department of Homeland Security, to close the Southwestern border to migrants. This directive came with the promise that Trump would pardon McAleenan if there was legal fallout from that action. The comments, which CNN characterized as a possible joke, alarmed DHS officials, though the White House later denied that the statements were made. But we are waiting to hear Robert Mueller’s assessment about whether Donald Trump has obstructed justice.

Last week, Donald Trump said, “I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing.” And yet, throughout the end of the 2016 campaign, he praised the operation as something he “loved,” despite having been warned not to trust information coming from an entity that was known to be willfully assisting attempts to steal the U.S. election. But we are waiting to hear from Robert Mueller about whether Donald Trump has “colluded” with foreign powers in the 2016 election.

Last week, we learned Donald Trump’s sister Judge Maryanne Trump Barry apparently left her seat on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, thus permanently ending a judicial ethics investigation into whether she was involved in a massive tax evasion scheme reported last year by the New York Times. A complaint seeking to determine whether the scheme was a tax dodge—from which both Barry and Donald Trump benefited—was filed last October. (There is a statute of limitations on the tax evasion claims, but there is no statute of limitations on judicial wrongdoing.) On Feb. 1, the courts indicated that the complaint was “receiving the full attention” of investigators. Ten days later, Barry filed her paperwork to step down. The investigation dies with that action. But we are waiting to hear Robert Mueller’s conclusions on whether the president has misbehaved. There is no crime called collusion.

There has never been a crime called collusion.

Last week, as professor David Rothkopf ably summarized here, Attorney General William Barr testified that he was able to be the arbiter of whether the president obstructed justice, which is actually not the case. He also reversed a long-standing Department of Justice policy to defend statutes because the president told him to. The treasury secretary has refused to abide by a law that on its face demands that the president’s tax returns be turned over to the House Ways and Means Committee, again at the president’s request. In other words, in many departments, we are seeing Trump appointees willing to put the president above the law. We saw a mass purge at the Department of Homeland Security ostensibly because no senior officials are willing to break the law hard enough and fast enough to mollify the president. We heard the president invoke the word treason explicitly to describe his critics. But we are waiting for William Barr to summarize for us whether Robert Mueller concluded that the president has violated the law.

Last week, it was also rumored that the president had threatened to send undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities to punish political opponents. The White House initially indicated that the proposal was not seriously considered, until the president said it was still being considered, and by Sunday, it was back in play. On Friday, the president tweeted a video incorrectly suggesting that Muslim American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar doesn’t think 9/11 was a big deal, the contents of which were so offensive that Fox News would only play 5 seconds of it. On Sunday night, it was reported that the threats against her life had increased to the point that she needed additional security. Still, we are waiting for the Mueller report to help us determine whether the president is fit for office.

There is no crime called collusion. There has never been a crime called collusion, but that is the crime from which Donald Trump—never having seen the Mueller report—says he has received “complete and total exoneration.” Very few people have actually seen the Mueller report, but we do know that there was no explicit finding by Mueller on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice. And yet, when it comes to that very question, much of what we saw happen before our very eyes—Trump’s treatment of James Comey, his complaints about Jeff Sessions, multiple efforts to stymie the investigations—could certainly be understood to be elements of obstruction of justice. So acute is the sense of national shock and trauma at Trump’s open and flagrant misconduct that we are waiting patiently for a Mueller report to confirm that we have all been seeing what we’ve all been seeing for the past two years. We are standing next to a burning building and waiting for Robert Mueller to let us know if he smells smoke.

We have allowed Donald Trump’s narrow legal aperture to define the scope of wrongdoing for the rest of us.

Senate Republicans, bearing witness to all this, are extremely upset with … the president’s choices for the Fed. Beyond that, they will tolerate quite literally anything, including multiple agencies without Senate-confirmed Cabinet officials and agency heads. High-level collaborators will write memos to the file and count on history to exculpate them for doing their best in the face of an out-of-control autocrat. No matter what facts Mueller assembles, they will discredit it as the lawless work of deep state spies.

Robert Mueller was not charged with saving America from Donald Trump. Robert Mueller was not asked to define the scope of his own mandate in order to fit the precise contours of Donald Trump’s misdeeds. The persistent and perilous belief that whatever it is Robert Mueller has unearthed in secret is more relevant or compelling than what Donald Trump does openly every single day has produced a national myopia that has everyone so obsessed with the fruits of the Tree of Collusion and the Tree of Obstruction that we may have missed the forest altogether. We don’t get to outsource all the crime fighting and unfitness determinations to Robert Mueller and Adam Schiff. This is not the sharing economy; they aren’t Uber.

We have allowed Donald Trump’s narrow legal aperture—which allows only the noncrime of collusion to be the issue—to define the scope of wrongdoing for the rest of us. We have allowed the president to determine and define what we should consider illegal and improper and unfit, and we have allowed the confines of Mueller’s directive to define what we can hold Trump accountable for. But we should know what is wrong.

The issue before us is not just whether Barr eventually lets us know whether Mueller ultimately determined that the president unlawfully conspired with Russian agents to sway the 2016 election, or whether he attempted to obstruct inquiries into related investigations. The issue before us is (or at least, includes): whether Donald Trump has dangled pardons to obtain illegal outcomes, removed officials for their refusal to break the law, rewarded or pardoned others for breaking the law, threatened judges for legal conclusions they have made, violated campaign finance laws, violated tax laws, punished and threatened the free press, incited violence against Muslims, misused his charitable foundation, incited violence against political opponents, violated the Emoluments Clause, directed others to make illegal campaign payments, declined to seek redress for the brutal murder of a journalist by a foreign power, forced family separations at the border, attempted to change the asylum law at the border, banned trans service members, attempted to revoke Dreamers’ status, had conflicts of interest with Russia and other oligarchs worldwide, persistently lied about his conflicts of interest during the campaign and thereafter, used his twitter feed to incite retributive acts against critics … this list could go on and on. And on.

There will be a public reckoning about what the Mueller report contains and who can see it, possibly as soon as this Thursday, when the redacted version will be released. We can wait for that and have it, but we also need to acknowledge that it is not a substitute for a systematic public reckoning about everything else. Being so stunned by what’s happening every day that you put all hope in what someone else might uncover tomorrow is a rational way to cope in a time of numbing disintegration of government, rules, and trust. But it’s not enough. It’s not a substitute. It’s barely even a start.

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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.


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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

Jus Wonderin...

Jus Wonderin…

Jus wonderin why de magistrate charge $2500 forthwith for some individual and why de Custum Officers jus search out the gel dem panties who come here for St. Patricks festival.

Jus wonderin if these things should no stap and wonder what the Premier goin do bout it and if dey not going decriminalise de marijuana and free up the people  dem.

Jus wonderin when de people in Davy Hill for de spanikin house dem a go get dem key.

Jus wonderin if Gregory is a follower or a leader.

Jus wonderin if dem nar do discipline de honourable doc.

Jus wonderin if de honorable opposition was there when dey outsource the cleaning services and now a pretend he don’t know nothing. I callin on him to stap fool de people dem and buy vote carze Montserrat people dem no foolish.

 Jus wonderin why de hon minista o agriculture and he acting PS demolish de nursery at Brades and move it to where Sankofa was above Public Works.

Jus why de premier and de FS late wid de budget for three years in a row, if dem no need fu come to d people and explain why three years in a row de budget late.

Jus wonderin why de PDM govment so incompetent and also de opposition members also so incompetent.

Jus wonderin if disunity carze dat fu de P D M and de others dem jus ignorunt o stupid.

Jus wonderin why Montserrat people dem no come together and save this country f deterioration.

Jus wonderin if nobady a go say anything bout de Customs offica dem behavia tumbling out de gei dem underwear and brazier dem and spreading dem out in front o everybady.

Jus really wonder if dat a true and why we hear bout marijuana and no bady hear bout de people dem rites and de marginalisation. 

Jus wonderin if dat will continue when Kristmus come.

Jus wonderin wha a happen bout de new hospital if awe a go get wan u not.

Jus wonderin if a new Attorney General appointed yet.

Jus wonderin if now awe get a PMO if the rest of the Premier’s important office is staffed.

Jus wonderin if Saga Gregory mi a fire shots at de FS who really ha the responsibility fu de budget preparation.

Jus wonderin whu much trouble de siam FS carse Montserrat and if he an de Career Govna who appoint him an give him big bonus.

Jus wonderin if dem shudn’t do im de same lek de PMO but definitely fu carse.

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Workmen look at the clockface on the Queen Elizabeth Tower, commonly referred to as Big Ben on April 2, 2019 in London, England.

Today in Brexit: Give Us Just a Little More Time—Seriously, Please?

The Slatest

By Elliot Hannon – April 05, 2019 The Slatest

Workmen look at the clockface on the Queen Elizabeth Tower, commonly referred to as Big Ben on April 2, 2019 in London, England.
Workmen look at the clockface on the Queen Elizabeth Tower, commonly referred to as Big Ben on April 2, 2019 in London, England. Animation by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Today in Brexit is a daily feature that will attempt to keep track of the chaotic mess playing out in the U.K. If you’re just tuning in, here’s a brief explainer on what you’ve been missing. 

Welcome to Brexit purgatory, which on Friday started to look like it might last even longer than previously thought possible. With the U.K. set to depart the EU in exactly one week and no agreement in Parliament on what the relationship between the two should look like after the breakup, Prime Minister Theresa May formally requested from Brussels another extension to the Brexit deadline, proposing a new drop dead date of June 30.

Today in Desperation: Will Brussels agree to the 11-week extension for the U.K. to try again to reach consensus on a deal? It looks increasingly like not. The British prime minister requested the very same June 30 extension the first time around, and the EU shot it down, opting for a shorter reprieve. It appears likely to say no again, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be an extension of some kind. European Council President Donald Tusk is pushing a full-year extension! He’s pitching it as a “flextension,” meaning that the U.K. would have the full year to come to some sort of decision but could pull out earlier if it got its act together. In this scenario, the U.K. is a harried student begging a teacher (the EU) for one more day after pulling an all-nighter to finish an essay—and failing. And the teacher, after taking a look at the state of the paper, replies: “How about you take a week. Trust me, you’ll need it.”

Today’s Emergency: What now? EU and U.K. leaders are scheduled to meet for an emergency summit Wednesday that will almost certainly revolve around the terms of an extension, rather than the nature of Britain’s exit. It is not a certainty, however, that the EU will grant an extension at all. There are rumblings from within the European member states, the loudest coming from France, that granting another extension won’t do anything other than kick the can down the road—yet again. It’s a hard argument to counter considering the lethargic pace of the Brexit negotiations until a deadline focused the mind. Those deadlines haven’t yet produced any new results, but they have sufficiently motivated British parliamentarians to engage on the issue.

Today’s Reminder This Is Still a Negosh: It’s important to remember that Brexit is a negotiation, and rumblings from France, for instance, could be a “bad cop” routine, serving as a stick to keep the U.K. moving. The European Union’s line has generally been that it would like the U.K. to stay as closely aligned with the bloc as possible, and as the deadline nears, British parliamentarians have been drifting toward a more centrist compromise that would see the country more closely aligned than even under May’s negotiated withdrawal. Would the EU want to halt this momentum just to prove a point about deadlines? Seems unlikely.

The brinkmanship of sticking to the current April 12 deadline or bust, without the ability to grant some sort of extension, might help keep British leaders on task. But it also makes very real the as possible the U.K. would be unable to come to an internal agreement about its future relationship with the EU and would leave the bloc with no deal at all. A no-deal Brexit, which would see the country revert to WTO trade rules, is favored by a sizable and vocal portion of the right wing of British politics. This non-negotiated style of Brexit, however, is seen as carrying substantial economic risks, as it would essentially rip the U.K. economy from the European economy in one week’s time, requiring new customs arrangements, trade deals, and on and on. The operating assumption is that the EU will do what it takes to avoid that scenario, even grant an extension that perhaps wasn’t exactly earned.

Today’s Lame Duck: Complicating matters on Friday’s extension request is the fact that European parliamentary elections are set to be held on May 23. That puts the U.K. in the potentially awkward position of going to the polls to elect representatives to a government they don’t plan participating in, long-term. May has assured Brussels the country will go through the steps to hold the election, a move that has laid the groundwork for a longer extension. From the EU’s point of view, having lame duck British MEPs isn’t all that appealing for the obvious reason that they may have different long- and short-term interests on matters before the European Parliament. This may seem like a far-fetched threat of internal sabotage by British MEPs should Brexit negotiations stretch on through another session of parliament in Europe, but it’s one that right-wing pro-Brexit MP Jacob Rees-Mogg made explicitly on Friday.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Elections, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Scriptures, UK - Brexit0 Comments

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