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Opposition Leader confirms senator no longer a legislator

Opposition Leader confirms senator no longer a legislator

by staff writer

ROSEAU, Dominica, Jan 9, CMC – Opposition Leader Lennox Linton Wednesday confirmed that an opposition legislator, Dr. Thompson Fontaine, was no longer a parliamentarian after Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced on Tuesday night that he had missed three consecutive meetings of the legislative chamber.

“Mr. Thomson Fontaine, as we speak, is no longer a senator in Dominica because he missed three consecutive sittings without the expressed authority of the Speaker,” Skerrit told television viewers.

Opposition Leader Lennox Linton

Linton, speaking on a private radio station here, acknowledged that Fontaine, an economist who is reported to be employed as the Senior Economic and International Policy Adviser on the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, overseeing implementation of Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, had written to the Speaker Alix Boyd-Knights about his unavailability to attend Parliament.

“Thompson Fontaine is under pressure because the Speaker will not accept his notification or his word to the Speaker that he can’t attend parliament. She decides what she wants and since is sole judge of that under the rules of the parliament…so she decides what she accepts and what she doesn’t accept.

“But Thompson had already decided that it would be better for him to move on and he was going to resign the Senate position anyway, “said Linton who had named him as a senator following the 2014 general elections.

He said the decision by the economist “had nothing to do with leadership or this sort” and that Prime Minister Skerrit “is trying to make a deal about it” even as he, Skerrit has not informed the nation about the position regarding a parliamentary secretary Ivor Stephenson, who was appointed in April last year and is yet to make an appearance in Parliament.

“When you put the Thompson Fontaine situation side by side with what has happened with Ivor Stephenson and how he as prime minister has managed it…with an elected member incapable of going to Parliament …and he is happy that through the machinations of the Speaker they have declared the Thompson Fontaine seat in the Senate vacant”.

Skerrit had told television viewers that Linton had shown poor leadership by allowing Fontaine to miss the three consecutive sitting of the parliament “to the point where the Speaker would write to the President informing the President that a senator has missed three sittings and therefore, he has vacated his seat in the “Parliament.

“I can tell the country that this would never happen to me as prime minister with an elected member of parliament, far more, for a senator,” he added.

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Governor grants Caribbean nationals clemency

Governor grants Caribbean nationals clemency

NEW YORK, Jan 1, CMC – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has granted pardons to several Caribbean nationals, including five Jamaicans, convicted of minor drug and other offenses and saving them from possible deportation under the Donald Trump administration’s tough policy on immigrants.

Cuomo said he was granting clemency to 29 immigrants “who have demonstrated substantial evidence of rehabilitation and a commitment to community crime reduction.

“While President Trump shuts down the federal government over his obsession with keeping immigrants out, New York stands strong in our support for immigrant communities,” said Cuomo, adding “these actions will help keep immigrant families together and take a critical step toward a more just, fairer and more compassionate New York.”

Five Jamaicans, a Trinidadian, one Haitian and six nationals from the Dominican Republic were among those granted pardons.

The Governor said the pardons are in recognition of the immigrants’ “rehabilitative efforts and to remove the barriers that their criminal records present to their immigration status.

“Some are facing deportation, while others wish to be able to participate in their communities as citizens of the country they call home. In each case, a pardon will make immigration-related relief possible, if not automatic,” he said.

Cuomo said Jamaican Olive Ferguson, 75, was convicted of attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance in 1991 and that “she has been crime-free ever since”.

He said Ferguson is “an active member of her church. She has remained crime-free for 27 years. A pardon will minimize her risk of deportation.”

Jamaican Rohan Hylton, 47, was convicted of a similar offense in 1992 as well as criminal possession of marijuana in 2001 and 2003.

Cuomo said Hylton came to the United States over 30 years ago with his family “to escape political persecution.

“As a father and dedicated family man, he now lives and works in Queens. A pardon will allow him to apply for discretionary relief from his deportation order. He has not been convicted of any misdemeanours or felonies for 12 years.”

Cuomo said another Jamaican, Kerrone Kay-Marie Parks, 33, was convicted in 2013 on drug-related charges.

“She is a domestic violence survivor, a mother of three children on the honour roll, and currently volunteers full-time at a nursing home. She has remained crime-free for five years.”

Jamaican Jeremy Grant, 58, was also convicted of drug-related charges in 2005 “when an individual in a group he was a member of sold drugs to an undercover cop and the entire group was convicted in Manhattan,” the New York governor said.

He said Grant “has been in prolonged removal proceedings since 2006,” and “has remained crime-free for 13 years.

“A pardon would remove the barriers to apply for a green card renewal, and prevent him from being deported and losing his access to necessary medical treatment,” Cuomo said.

He said Grant’s compatriot, Trevor Elliot, 67, was convicted of drugs in the early 1990s and has worked at a non-profit that provides social services for the youth and as an elder care provider.

“A pardon would allow Mr. Elliot to apply for citizenship. He has maintained a crime-free lifestyle for 10 years.”

Trinidadian Anthony Khan, 66, was convicted of a drug offense in 1980 when he accompanied an acquaintance to sell a controlled substance and was arrested as part of a sting operation in the Bronx.

Cuomo said Khan, who migrated to the United States in 1971, is “an active church goer and a husband and father, who has worked with the Taxi and Limousine Commission for 35 years.”

He has remained crime-free for 37 years, the governor said.

Haitian Reginald Castel, 45, was convicted of assault in 1999 and Cuomo said Castel, who came to the United States at the age of eight, is married with four children and was deported without notice in September 2017.

“A pardon will allow Mr. Castel to apply for re-entry to the United States and reunite with his family. He has remained crime free for 19 years.”

Alisa Wellek, executive director of New York’s Immigrant Defense Project, said that in pardoning immigrant New Yorkers who face deportation, despite years of contributing to the community, Cuomo “has used a powerful tool to restore dignity to people for whom punishment will otherwise never end, simply because they were not born here.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor’s office and our Immigrant Clemency Project to provide immigrant New Yorkers with a fighting chance to remain with their families in the face of Trump’s hateful agenda,” she said.

Cuomo had last year announced a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s policy of forced family separation on the US southern border.

To protect the Caribbean and other immigrants from overly aggressive deportation tactics increasingly utilized by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, the governor also issued executive orders to prohibit ICE arrests in New York state facilities without a warrant.

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Romeo - PDM

Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo 2019 New Year Statement


First, let me wish a happy, God-blessed new year to the people of Montserrat young and old, near and far; to all citizens, residents, visitors and friends. May we all go forward with God together in this New Year which God has graciously allowed us to see.

As we move forward into 2019, there is great hope and good reason to be optimistic. Over the past two years we have been blessed with several breakthroughs that open up opportunities to build a sound future. Yes, the sea port, the undersea fibre optic cable, geothermal and solar energy development, the pending hospital, the EU funding, the new growth strategy, a five-year capital programme, several investment opportunities and more are now open before us, as I discussed in my recent interview with our acting Communications Director.

In the past four years the Government of Montserrat (GoM) has been able to weave the landscape that now projects the opportunity for growth, development and a thriving economy.  We stood on our own two feet before this crisis, and after 23 years of resilience training, we are ready to do it again. 

First I must give some good news on private sector investment initiatives. For example, in Dick Hill the Art Housing project has put in place the foundations and the road infrastructure to the 10 unit villa project.  The next stage will resume where we shall see the buildings going up. This was confirmed on my recent visit to the UK.  Meanwhile, we continue to advance potential projects in water bottling and the digital sector of our economy. These projects will provide services to the outside world and bring significant employment and revenue to the Government and People of Montserrat.

Let us now take note of the progress with various ongoing projects. Some of the following projects are more visible than others, but we are making good progress that will help us to build a solid future:

Carr’s Bay Bridge: With funding in place, we can all see that frameworks have been set up, concrete has been poured for the main bridge structures and work is ongoing. The bridge deck, base and vertical walls are already in place. The wing walls, the catchment, the outfall and the head walls will follow. Works on the Carr’s Bay Bridge are scheduled to be completed by January 31st.

Barzeys Road and bridge:  We have completed 820ft  of concrete roadway with an average width of 20ft.  The work also required kerbs, drains, retaining walls, building a bridge and re-aligning the roadway. The resilience, safety and access on this section of road have been greatly improved as a result of the works completed. 

Sea Port, Phase 1: A year ago, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved 14.4M pounds (about EC $50 million) for the development of Port Little Bay under the UKCIF fund.  GoM will provide an additional 7M pounds (EC 24 Million) to assist with the project expenditure. CDB & GoM have developed Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the procurement of the Project Manager, Marine Consultants, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Consultant (ESIA). Land has to be acquired; asking prices suggest that we will need to take the compulsory acquisition process route.

The Public Procurement Board has issued an award letter in Dec 2018 to STANTEC Consultants out of Barbados, who will be on ­­­­­­­­island in early January 2019. A Project Coordinator for the Port project is expected to be in place by February 2019. The ESIA for the Port Project will be done by the Technical Consultants, to meet a deadline of Mar 2019. The Technical Consultants will also advance the tender process for the Design Build Contractor. This should start in June or July.  Under the European Development Fund (EDF), the Port project must be completed by 2020/21.

Airport: Construction drawings for the new Air Traffic Control Tower are nearly complete and tender documents are being developed.  The Prefabricated Cab for the Tower was expected on island by end of December 2018.  Of the EC$2.315m of GoM/Department for International Development (DFID) and EU funding for this project, EC$961,531.00 has been spent on the Cab.  EC$324,732.04 has been spent on equipment for the new Air Traffic Control Tower.  The remainder will be spent on a final payment for the pre-fabricated cab, as well as on the construction of the Shaft.  

Fibre Optics Cable: This is a priority project for GoM and DfID.  It will greatly enhance resiliency of our communications in the face of hurricanes and open the way for a powerful digital sector in our economy. Funding of about £5 millions is assured. The request for proposals is being finalized and should go to the Market this month.  It will then take another month to have a contract in place. We intend to have the fibre optic cable in place for the peak of the Hurricane season, August.

Hospital and healthcare: The hospital project is a part of the five-year capital programme being further developed with the UK, which helps to secure funding.  A steering committee is being set up for the project. Wider ongoing developments include better pediatric care, improved psychiatric care, sharing of anaesthesiology resources with neighbouring islands and creation of Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs).  Options are being explored for better air ambulance services to Guadeloupe.  Healthcare in Montserrat continues to benefit from technical support through the UK departments, such as Public Health England and the Department of Health, as well as DFID and FCO in meeting its international health obligations while we address local challenges.

ZJB New Building: This is now nearing completion and the Station will soon be moving house.  Equipment for the new building was successfully tendered and a new generator should arrive shortly.  While waiting on the new equipment to arrive I have given the directive for them to occupy and broadcast from the New ZJB building with our present equipment. 

250 kW Solar PV project: This project is expected to be completed by the middle of March and will increase the resilience of our Electricity supply through solar energy.  Upon completion the roof top solar installation is expected to produce 250 kw of solar energy. This project’s capacity is approximately 10% of our peak power load, and it is intended to develop a second phase, of 750 kW, as was announced last November when CARICOM Energy Month was launched here. Installation is scheduled to begin on the 14th January 2019. The total expenditure to-date has been $870,490.

Geothermal Well 3: Regarding the drilling of the third well, DFID will provide an update on the negotiation between DFID and Iceland Drilling Company (IDC). This should inform the strategic approach on the final drilling completion and development of the third well.

Geothermal power plant: GOM has completed an early market engagement on the development of a geothermal surface plant to generate electricity. DFID and GOM after assessing the early market engagement report agreed to move to the geothermal generation stage.  The technical assistance required for the geothermal surface plant development and implementation will be financed by DFID.

Housing: We were able to provide permanent housing to five households who were able to enjoy their first Christmas living in their new homes.  Montserratians have a strong desire to own a piece of the rock and as a result we will be providing new lots in the Lookout Area.  We intend to extend the Drummonds housing development, through the construction of another complex with six two-bedroom apartments.  We are presently negotiating with DfID, our funding partner, to build a number of new homes over the next five years. 

Port Buildings Project: Work was to be done on the Montserrat Port Authourity (MPA) warehouse roof and on the Ferry terminal. Of the EC$1.1M, spend to date is $670,000. The other $430,000 is to be spent on the Office Accommodation and the final aspects of the Ferry Terminal Canopy.  The project is 85% complete and works are expected to be completed by March 2019. The MPA roof repairs and Ferry Terminal Canopy Cover are completed, including construction of a staircase, a verandah at the arrival section, paving works and reconfiguration of the fencing.  The anticipated Canopy which will form the roof for the newly paved areas will be installed shortly.  

Liquid Waste Management Project: This project has four components: [1] the Margetson Sewage Treatment Plant, [2] The Lookout warden assisted accommodation walkway, [3] the Lookout warden assisted accommodation sewage balancing tank and [4] the New Windward sewage stabilization ponds. The first three components are already completed.  Work on the New Windward ponds is still in progress. The installation of the pond liners was delayed due to late arrival.  Completion of this project is now scheduled for later this month.

Tourism: The new tourism director will now be in place shortly.  It is anticipated that he will advance the discussion of the formal twinning of Montserrat and Antigua as one tourist destination. The future looks bright for the anticipated EU funded tourism development which would increase the tourism dollars for the private sector.

Another key sign of progress comes from the testimony to the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) by Lord Ahmad, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister for Overseas Territories, on December 18th 2018. This is the same FAC that I testified before and also submitted written evidence. 

In his testimony Lord Ahmad confirmed that along with the Secretary of State, (Penny Mordaunt) and his colleague Lord Bates, the view they are now taking involves much more long-term support of Capital projects in Montserrat as in each British Overseas Territory.  He confirmed that we  are working  through  the  details  of  a  £30  million-plus  programme  supporting infrastructure. However, having surveyed our needs, GoM asked for significantly more than £50 million. 

GoM acknowledges and thank Lord Ahmad and Lord Bates for the critical role they have played so far in the negotiations over the 5-year Capital programme.  For it is time we agree a real programme of action to recreate a civilized home for the People of Montserrat.

Given the legal obligations to support OT’s, Montserrat has a priority claim on DfID’s £12 billion plus development aid budget. According to the 2002 UK International Development Act, we must not be put in competition with very poor third world countries.  The key projects we are proposing are transformative and — with timely and adequate support — will help to get Montserrat out of dependency on annual grants from the UK.

It is definitely good news that, apart from having discussions with us year after year over budget support, GoM, FCO and DfID are now also discussing the first long-term capital programme with many projects.  This will not only help to set Montserrat on a course out of dependency on the British tax payers but will fulfill the UK’s obligations under the United Nations Charter, Article 73, by ensuring our advancement, economically, socially, educationally and even politically while also promoting constructive measures of development.

That is why I shall continue to call on HMG to honour the UK’s policies which are very supportive and allows them to do what is right by the people of Montserrat while doing what is in the interest of the British tax payers. 

So, 2019 is indeed the time for UK policies and actions to match. 

2019 is also the time for us as a people to be assertive about our rights as British Nationals under the UN Charter.  Those who refuse to accept this and who sometimes even laugh at it are unintentionally working against Montserrat’s interests. That must now stop and we must come together to move forward with a united force.

Finally, the key strategic move for 2019 and beyond is to turn our breakthroughs into a breakout that moves us beyond dependency and lingering impacts of the volcano disaster to resilient, self-sustaining, inclusive growth and development.  With key infrastructure and projects coming in place, 2019 is the year for us to all work together to continue to attract the right kinds of support. This includes local and foreign investments and business that will build a modern, thriving, diverse, resilient, and lasting economy. One, in which all of our people, whether citizens, residents, visitors or friends, young and old — through enterprise and initiative — can fulfil their hopes in a truly democratic and God-fearing society

Let us therefore continue to commit 2019 into God’s hands and seek his wisdom as we work together to build our future.

God bless the People and Government of Montserrat in this year of our Lord, 2019.

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Forces in Trinidad and Tobago linked to downfall of Guyana government

Dec 28, 2018 – Caribbean News Service – A senior official of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Friday said “forces in Trinidad and Tobago” had colluded with the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to bring about the demise of the coalition government.

“It should be noted that Charrandass Persaud himself acknowledges the bribe by asking ‘what is wrong if I get paid?’ In his own words, he has admitted his embrace to the treacherous PPP culture of getting rich through corruption and lawlessness,” said PNC executive member Aubrey Norton.

Persaud voted with the PPP last Friday after Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo successfully tabled a motion of no confidence that brought about the downfall of the David Granger-led, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) government.

The APNU had enjoyed a slender one seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly and Persaud later told reporters he had voted with the opposition in a bid to clear his conscience.

Norton told a news conference that the party is in possession of the information regarding the role played by the Trinidad and Tobago forces and knows of the meetings at hotels in Trinidad, but it will not provide the details of its information to the public at this time. He told reporters that a senior PPP official is obsessed with wanting to control the wealth of Guyana that will emanate from the oil sector and as a result was willing to do anything to achieve his objectives.

Norton said that it was for this reason, the senior PPP official “colluded with forces in Trinidad and mobilised resources to bribe a sitting member of parliament in pursuance of his hunger for wealth and power.”

Norton said that the APNU, whose other significant member includes the Alliance for Change (AFC), to which Persaud was a sitting member when he voted to bring about the downfall of the government, is prepared to contest any general and presidential election. But he said the government as well as the PNCR were keeping “all options” open and dismissed calls by Jagdeo for the present administration to resign.

Jagdeo has also said that the PPP has no plans to attend Parliament next Thursday and is open to meeting with the government before then to discuss elections matters.

On Friday, Jagdeo held talks with representatives of the major western missions here to brief them on the recent passage of the no confidence motion and to outline the PPP’s concerns.

The one-hour meeting was attended by officials of the United States, Canadian and British missions as well as the European Union.

Neither Jagdeo nor the officials would comment following the meeting.

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PM says Speaker will have to address allegations that legislator was bribed

PM says Speaker will have to address allegations that legislator was bribed

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 29, CMC – Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo says the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland,  will have to address allegations that former government back bencher Charrandass Persaud had been bribed into voting in favour of a successful opposition inspired motion of no confidence against the government last weekend.

“If a vote in the National Assembly was procured by unlawful means to overthrow a constitutionally elected government that will have serious implications and the Speaker will have to address that issue,” Nagamootoo said.

“If you had a member of parliament who knew that he had lost confidence in his party or his slate, he should have indicated to the House that he no longer wanted to support his slate and he wanted to endorse another slate so that the House would know how to deal with that situation,” he added.

Persaud, who has since announced his resignation from the ruling coalition government, has said that he voted with the opposition in a bid to clear his conscience.

“My conscience was stifled for long…they (government) voted for things that should not have happened, period”, Persaud told reporters soon after the vote.

But there have been several reports posted on social media claiming that a bribe had been paid to the former legislator and on Friday, a senior official of the ruling People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Aubrey Norton, accused a senior official of the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) of colluding “with forces in Trinidad and mobilised resources to bribe a sitting member of parliament in pursuance of his hunger for wealth and power”.

Nagamootoo said that the Speaker of the House will also have to consider whether a simple 33 or 34 votes were needed for the motion to be carried. He said there is an overwhelming view that the motion needed 34 votes to pass and that this was known to the opposition.

“They were privy to a legal opinion that says you needed 34. And so, they are in a quandary now how to deal with the situation because the Speaker had indicated at the last sitting that he will return on the 3rd of January to address the consequences of the votes, meaning, did it meet the threshold under the constitution for a majority?”

Prime Minister Nagamootoo said people are “coming to grips” with the reality that it is not a majority that is catered for in the Standing Orders, as the House regulates its own procedures. The majority, he said, is addressed in the Constitution.

“So, the constitutional majority will have weigh, more significance on how does one arrive at a majority… The formula has been one half plus one. So, if you have 64 members of the parliament, your one half would be 32 and a majority would be 33. How then can you have 33 as a majority for 65, unless you can prove that 64 is equal to 65.

“So, you can see already that it is producing an absurd conclusion, and the constitution would have never contemplated the creation of an absurdity,” he added.

Following the 2015 presidential and general elections, the coalition government received a slender one seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly and Prime Minister Nagamootoo defended the earlier decision of the government to accept the ruling last Friday that the motion had been successfully put to the vote.

“We accepted the ruling of the Speaker, because as an attorney-at-law when a judge makes a ruling, you accept the ruling until you’re able to have that ruling withdrawn, those are things a court would do if it found it had been in error,” he said.

 

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US-based group writes Speaker of Guyana Parliament

US-based group writes Speaker of Guyana Parliament

By Nelson A. King

NEW YORK, Dec 26, CMC – The US-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has written to the Speaker of the Guyana Parliament, Dr. Bartland Scotland, requesting that he considers annulling last weekend’s vote of no confidence that brought down the in the David Grange coalition government.

In the letter, the CGID said it is relying on Article 153 (a) and (b) of the Guyana Constitution, that notes  “a member of the National Assembly elected on a list shall cease to be a member of the Assembly if: (a) “He or she declares in writing to the Speaker or to the Representative of the list from which his or her name was extracted that he or she will not support the list from which his or her name was extracted;” and (b) “He or she declares in writing to the Speaker or to the Representative of the list from which his or her name was extracted, his or her support for another list.”

Guyana Parliament Building (File Photo)

Last Friday, government backbencher Charandass Persaud voted with the opposition Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) to win the no-confidence motion in the 65-seat National Assembly after several hours of debate.

The Granger led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) coalition had held a slender one-seat majority since the 2015 general elections.

In the December 24 letter, CGID said that “Persaud publicly withdrew his support for the APNU+AFC coalition List from which he was extracted and declared his support for the PPP/C List.

“Consequently, in accordance with Article 153 (a) and (b) of the Guyana Constitution, it is the position of CGID, having consulted with several attorneys in Guyana and internationally, that Mr. Charrandass Persaud’s vote for the no confidence motion against the government on December 21 is null, void and of no legal effect, and should be vitiated,” CGID wrote.

“The institute, therefore, respectfully solicits your review and sanction of this matter of urgent national importance,” it added.

The CGID said that, prior to the Constitution Amendment Act of 2007, Article 156.3, an original provision of the Constitution, stated that “A member of the national Assembly elected on a list shall be disqualified from being a member of the Assembly, if he or she in the prescribed manner, declares that he or she will not support the list from which his or her name was extracted or, declares that he or she abstain from supporting that list or, declares his or her support for another list.”

CGID said this original provision, Article 156.3, was repealed and replaced with the extant provisions of Article 153 by the Constitution Amendment Act of 2007.

“The amendment, notwithstanding the fundamental intent of the framers of the Constitution, remains applicable and paramount to the interpretation of the extant provisions of Article 153,” CGID wrote, adding that the Constitution “comprises binding rules which govern the organization, powers and administration of government and society.

“The intent of the framers, thereof, is the jurisprudential standard for constitutional interpretation,” it added.

CGID said the framers of the Guyana Constitution intended, in Article 153 (a) and (b), that “a member of the Assembly, elected by the people and extracted from his party’s List, cannot act against, refuse to support nor vote against the List from which he or she was extracted, and neither can a member vote for, with or in support of another List, without first declaring such intent to the Speaker in writing.”

Consequently, the US based group said that Article 153 (a) and (b) of the Guyana Constitution “mandates that any member who, accordingly, makes such declaration against the List from which he or she is extracted or in support of another List, shall cease to be a member of the National Assembly.

“The commission of an act against the List from which a member was extracted, as well as an act in support of another List, for which a written declaration was deliberately and deceitfully withheld from the Speaker, likewise violate the provisions of Article 153 (a) and (b), and similarly disqualifies such a member immediately from the Assembly, since the intention of the Constitution is for the member to fully honor the content of Article 153 to the letter,” it said.

CGID said Article 153 clearly mandates that “before a member acts against the List from which he or she was extracted, or in support of another List, a declaration of that intent must be first submitted to the Speaker, the consequence of which, or the failure to so declare, require nullification of the act by the Speaker and disqualification of the member from the Assembly.

“Article 153, therefore, safeguards against the government side of the Assembly bringing itself down,” CGID said. “It follows, therefore, that a public withdrawal of support for the List from which a member was extracted and the public declaration of support for another List, with or without a declaration to the Speaker, automatically triggers or invokes Article 153 (a) and (b), and such member shall cease to be a member of the Assembly.

“Honourable, Speaker, on Friday, December, 21, 2018, Mr. Charrandass Persaud, then a member of the Assembly, who was extracted from the APNU+AFC coalition List, voted in favour of the no confidence motion that was tabled in the National Assembly by the parliamentary opposition, against the APNU+AFC coalition government of Guyana, enabling its passage,” added CGID in its letter to Scotland.

As a result of Friday’s no confidence vote, Guyana is preparing for general elections early next year.

Persaud, a lawyer, told reporters after the vote that his conscience had been “stifled for long,” adding that he had not been offered any money or position by the opposition to vote against the government.

Persaud, who had long criticized the PPP as “corrupt” and “out-of-touch”, among other things, said he will be tendering his resignation to Parliament and the Alliance for Change (AFC), a partner in the coalition government, and that he would not be returning to the House as a Member of Parliament for the AFC.

In the interim, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, a former president, said that he plans to meet with Granger on several issues. The meeting is scheduled for next month.

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Government back bencher defends his vote that topples coalition

Government back bencher defends his vote that topples coalition

Government back bencher Charandaas Persaud, said his conscience had been “stifled for long” as he defended his decision to vote with the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and topple the three-year-old coalition government of President David Granger late on Friday night.

With the coalition – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)- commanding just a one-seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly, Persaud’s vote was crucial and he told reporters that he had not been offered any money or position by the opposition to vote against the coalition government.

Charandaas Persaud speaking to reporters after voting to bring down the government

“My conscience was stifled for long…they voted for things that should not have happened, period”, Persaud told reporters.

Media reports quoted Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, as saying that security arrangements will be put in place for Persaud, who is due to leave the country on Saturday.

The vote by Persaud means that Guyana will hold fresh general elections by March next year.

His colleagues, who were caught by the surprise vote, believe that he had made a mistake in the voting.

But the attorney gave a strong “yes” when the Clerk of the Assembly re-started the process.

He told reporters he voted to clear his conscience and now that his conscience is clear, if he dies, he knows that he would die a happy man.

Persaud said he will be offering his resignation to the Parliament and the Alliance for Change (AFC) a partner in the coalition government, and that he would not be returning to the House as a Member of Parliament for the AFC.

He told reporters that he had become tired of voting along party lines and had become disenchanted with his party for always voting for issues brought up by its coalition partner.

He said there were a number of issues that forced him to vote against his own party and side with the PPP, a party that he has long criticised as being corrupt and out of touch.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said that he intends to meet with the President Granger on the issue and several other matters.

Under the Constitution, the Government has to call elections within three months or at a time agreed to by two-thirds of the National Assembly. The President is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment following a cancer diagnosis. That treatment schedule is expected to continue for five more months.

Meanwhile, Britain’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn Saturday called on Guyana to respect government’s loss of the no-confidence vote.

“Members of Parliament must be allowed to undertake their constitutionally mandated roles in the absence of fear or favour,” he said, urging politicians to campaign on the issues facing the country.

“We urge calm on all sides and look forward to a free and fair election and a campaign fought on the issues that confront Guyana and it’s future development,” he said, adding that he was hoping that any protests that followed the vote on Friday night would be peaceful.

“Maintaining the fundamental tenets of democracy is paramount to us all and whilst everyone has the right to protest this must be peaceful,” he said.

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Reliable Sources

Welcome to Friday’s editionof the Reliable Sources newsletter. This is Oliver Darcy, filling in for Brian Stelter, and ready to walk you through a busy day of medianews. I enjoy reading your feedback, so please do get in touch via emailor find me on Twitter.

Scroll down for news on The Weekly Standard, Facebook’s latest data breach, Mika Brzezinski’s on-air apology, and more. But first, somebreaking news…

BREAKING NEWS:

Federal judge rules ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional

There is some blockbuster news out of Texas tonight. A federal judge declared the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate unconstitutional, adding, “The court declares the remaining provisions of the ACA … are inseverable and therefore invalid.” CNN’s story is here with all the details…

Expect this story to dominate a good portion of the news cycle as we head into the weekend. It’s generating a lot of chatter — among both journalists and politicians — and Trump has already started to tweet about it…

The “acting” chief of staff is…

OBM director Mick Mulvaney. Trump announced the news in a tweet, naturally. He added a couple hours later, “For the record, there were many people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M will do a great job!” In an “acting” capacity, BTW.

So who actually wanted the job? That’s unclear. As Irin Carmon quipped on “New Day” Friday morning, the chief of staff job is like the Oscars hosting gig — it used to be a sought-after position! But now? It’s “thanks but no thanks.”

Trump was frustrated by the “growing perception that no one of stature wanted the job,” the AP reported. Per CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, “Trump was sick of the prevailingnarrative & wanted to put an end to the speculation & bowing out ofcandidates” like Chris Christie. Enter Mulvaney. According to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, he was at the W.H.for a meeting about the “looming government shutdown.” He wasn’t therefor a job interview! But he “walked out with a promotion…”

Did Christie’s book play a part in his disinterest in the role?

Heading into Friday, Chris Christie seemed to be the frontrunner for Trump’s CoS. Not only does he have a wealth of experience, but he shares chemistry with the president. So why did Christie publicly come out and say that he was not interested? Officially, Christie said, “that now is not the right time for me or my family to undertake this serious assignment.” But he has a book coming out in January titled “Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the power of In-Your-Face Politics.” And multiple reporters say that was a factor.

WaPo’s Josh Dawsey tweeted, “Christie’s lucrative memoir, which is expected to settle some scores, will come out in January. It’s finished. Being chief of staff would have complicated that.” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs said that Christie “damaged his standing with Trump with memoir republishing.” And NYT’s Maggie Haberman reported that the book “is expected to touch on his tenure as a federal prosecutor” during which Christie “prosecuted Charles Kushner, the father of Jared Kushner… a task that has since complicated his relationship with the Trump family.”

“Trump can still convince people to look elsewhere”

The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott wrote in her latest piece that Trump used the Apprentice-styled search for anew CoS, in part, to “manipulate the news cycle” and send “journalists scrambling to report” the latest updates. “This week thus showcased not only how the White House problems show no signs of ebbing, but also how, in spite of them all, Trump can still convince people to look elsewhere,” Plott wrote…

All the president’s investigations

Brian Stelter emails: Reporters are great at covering the minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour developments in Trump’s assorted scandals. But what about the BIG story? That’s a lot harder to capture…

CNN on Friday made a concerted effort to zoom out, WAY out. Multiple segments explained “Trump’s deepening legal jeopardy” and “all the president’s investigations.” A graphic noted that the Trump Organization, Trump’s foundation, his 2016 campaign, his transition, his inauguration, and his administration are all under investigation. 

As Ana Cabrera said on Friday: “The one common denominator in each of those? President Trump himself, who is lashing out and blaming other people around him.”
Dean: “Much more damning than Watergate”
Stelter continues: I think the segments were inspired, in part, by CNN contributor John Dean‘s viral tweet overnight. He wrote, “Trump’s campaign. Trump’s transition. Trump’s inauguration. Trump’s presidency. Plus Trump & family. All are now under state and federal criminal and civil investigations. This is much more damning than Watergate, and it is just getting started.”

I know I’ve been a broken record about this, but 90-second nightly news packages and 500-word stories are not enough — the audience needs a lot more to fully digest what’s going on. This came up on Rachel Maddow‘s show on Thursday night, too. “What a moment we are all living through,” she said… “I don’t know who you know or how old they are, but nobody else has ever lived through a moment in the American presidency like this. We’re the first.” So what are the best ways to tell THAT story?

    Cohen speaks to ABC
One of George Stephanopoulos’s key questions for Michael Cohen: “How does this end for Donald Trump?”

Cohen’s answer: “That sort of gets into the whole investigation right now between special counsel’s office, the attorney general’s office, you also have the SDNY — I don’t want to jeopardize any of their investigations.” Translation: Much more to come…
    This Sunday on “Reliable”
Brian Stelter emails: On Sunday morning I’ll be joined by Edward Felsenthal, Joan Walsh, Matt Lewis, Olivia Nuzzi, and Will Bunch… Plus Michael Rothfeld, one of the WSJ reporters who broke the Cohen/Trump/Enquirer news… And Oliver too, if he’s free! Darcy, are you available?

Darcy replies: Yes, I’ll move my brunch plans, see you there 📺
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

Poynter asked 19 Facebook fact-checkers what they think of their partnership with the social media company. Most said it was a net positive, but there is more work to be done… (Poynter

 — The Daily Beast reports via multiple sources that Jared Kushner served as an important conduit between National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and Trump… (Daily Beast)

 — Fox News is “fixated on an alleged wave of media attacks” on Melania Trump. In response, Mediaite points out some of the vicious attacks on Michelle Obama that aired on Fox News… (Mediaite)

 — Hossein Derakhshan writes, “The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not…” (NiemanLab)
    The Weekly Standard is no more


Share Tweet Forward   Welcome to Friday’s edition of the Reliable Sources newsletter. This is Oliver Darcy, filling in for Brian Stelter, and ready to walk you through a busy day of media news. I enjoy reading your feedback, so please do get in touch via email or find me on Twitter.

Scroll down for news on The Weekly Standard, Facebook’s latest data breach, Mika Brzezinski’s on-air apology, and more. But first, some breaking news…
 
BREAKING NEWS:
Federal judge rules ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional
There is some blockbuster news out of Texas tonight. A federal judge declared the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate unconstitutional, adding, “The court declares the remaining provisions of the ACA … are inseverable and therefore invalid.” CNN’s story is here with all the details…

Expect this story to dominate a good portion of the news cycle as we head into the weekend. It’s generating a lot of chatter — among both journalists and politicians — and Trump has already started to tweet about it…
 
The “acting” chief of staff is…
OBM director Mick Mulvaney. Trump announced the news in a tweet, naturally. He added a couple hours later, “For the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M will do a GREAT job!” In an “acting” capacity, BTW.

So who actually wanted the job? That’s unclear. As Irin Carmon quipped on “New Day” Friday morning, the chief of staff job is like the Oscars hosting gig — it used to be a sought-after position! But now? It’s “thanks but no thanks.”

Trump was frustrated by the “growing perception that no one of stature wanted the job,” the AP reported. Per CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, “Trump was sick of the prevailing narrative & wanted to put an end to the speculation & bowing out of candidates” like Chris Christie. Enter Mulvaney. According to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, he was at the W.H. for a meeting about the “looming government shutdown.” He wasn’t there for a job interview! But he “walked out with a promotion…”
Did Christie’s book play a part in his disinterest in the role?
Heading into Friday, Chris Christie seemed to be the frontrunner for Trump’s CoS. Not only does he have a wealth of experience, but he shares chemistry with the president. So why did Christie publicly come out and say that he was not interested? Officially, Christie said “that now is not the right time for me or my family to undertake this serious assignment.” But he has a book coming out in January titled “Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics.” And multiple reporters say that was a factor.

WaPo’s Josh Dawsey tweeted, “Christie’s lucrative memoir, which is expected to settle some scores, will come out in January. It’s finished. Being chief of staff would have complicated that.” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs said that Christie “damaged his standing with Trump with memoir he’s publishing.” And NYT’s Maggie Haberman reported that the book “is expected to touch on his tenure as a federal prosecutor” during which Christie “prosecuted Charles Kushner, the father of Jared Kushner… a task that has since complicated his relationship with the Trump family.”
  “Trump can still convince people to look elsewhere”
The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott wrote in her latest piece that Trump used the Apprentice-styled search for a new CoS, in part, to “manipulate the news cycle” and send send “journalists scrambling to report” the latest updates. “This week thus showcased not only how the White House’s problems show no signs of ebbing, but also how, in spite of them all, Trump can still convince people to look elsewhere,” Plott wrote…
 
All the president’s investigations     Brian Stelter emails: Reporters are great at covering the minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour developments in Trump’s assorted scandals. But what about the BIG story? That’s a lot harder to capture…

CNN on Friday made a concerted effort to zoom out, WAY out. Multiple segments explained “Trump’s deepening legal jeopardy” and “all the president’s investigations.” A graphic noted that the Trump Organization, Trump’s foundation, his 2016 campaign, his transition, his inauguration, and his administration are all under investigation. 

As Ana Cabrera said on Friday: “The one common denominator in each of those? President Trump himself, who is lashing out and blaming other people around him.”
Dean: “Much more damning than Watergate”
Stelter continues: I think the segments were inspired, in part, by CNN contributor John Dean‘s viral tweet overnight. He wrote, “Trump’s campaign. Trump’s transition. Trump’s inauguration. Trump’s presidency. Plus Trump & family. All are now under state and federal criminal and civil investigations. This is much more damning than Watergate, and it is just getting started.”

I know I’ve been a broken record about this, but 90-second nightly news packages and 500-word stories are not enough — the audience needs a lot more to fully digest what’s going on. This came up on Rachel Maddow‘s show on Thursday night, too. “What a moment we are all living through,” she said… “I don’t know who you know or how old they are, but nobody else has ever lived through a moment in the American presidency like this. We’re the first.” So what are the best ways to tell THAT story?

    Cohen speaks to ABC
One of George Stephanopoulos’s key questions for Michael Cohen: “How does this end for Donald Trump?”

Cohen’s answer: “That sort of gets into the whole investigation right now between special counsel’s office, the attorney general’s office, you also have the SDNY — I don’t want to jeopardize any of their investigations.” Translation: Much more to come…
    This Sunday on “Reliable”
Brian Stelter emails: On Sunday morning I’ll be joined by Edward Felsenthal, Joan Walsh, Matt Lewis, Olivia Nuzzi, and Will Bunch… Plus Michael Rothfeld, one of the WSJ reporters who broke the Cohen/Trump/Enquirer news… And Oliver too, if he’s free! Darcy, are you available?

Darcy replies: Yes, I’ll move my brunch plans, see you there 📺
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

Poynter asked 19 Facebook fact-checkers what they think of their partnership with the social media company. Most said it was a net positive, but there is more work to be done… (Poynter

 — The Daily Beast reports via multiple sources that Jared Kushner served as an important conduit between National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and Trump… (Daily Beast)

 — Fox News is “fixated on an alleged wave of media attacks” on Melania Trump. In response, Mediaite points out some of the vicious attacks on Michelle Obama that aired on Fox News… (Mediaite)

 — Hossein Derakhshan writes, “The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not…” (NiemanLab)
    The Weekly Standard is no more     It was the ending feared most by staffers at The Weekly Standard. On Friday morning, Clarity Media Group — a media holding company owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz and the parent company of The Weekly Standard — announced that after more than 23 years of serving as a voice for traditional conservatism, the magazine will cease publishing. Its final issue will be published on December 17. The announcement was delivered to staff in an all-hands meeting after the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Steve Hayes, met privately with Ryan McKibben, who heads Clarity Media Group. My story has all the details here…
  Inside the all-staff meeting
At the brief all hands meeting, which I obtained an audio recording of, McKibben told staff that they would be paid through the end of the year, and that afterward they would receive severance which would range in scale depending on factors like seniority. To receive severance, however, employees would need to sign a strict non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement. “I know it’s an emotional day, but I want to tell you, don’t get on social media and attack anybody because it will put your severance in jeopardy,” McKibben told employees. 

McKibben was not eager to take questions. When staff raised some at one point during the meeting, McKibben replied, “I’m not going to take questions. This isn’t a press conference.”
  TWS subscriptions transferred to new WaEx mag
Staffers at The Weekly Standard had suspected its owner declined to allow the magazine’s leadership to find a buyer because the company wanted to retain access to its subscribers and use them to help launch the Washington Examiner magazine, another one of its media properties. McKibben disputed such speculation at Friday’s meeting, but said that the publisher had a legal legal obligation to subscribers, and that it would be fulfilled by the new Washington Examiner magazine.
  What happens to the archives? 
McKibben stunned staff when he said at Friday’s meeting that “at some point” The Weekly Standard’s website is “going to come down.” That left some with the impression that the archives would be removed. I reached out to Clarity Media Group asking about the magazine’s archives, and a spokesperson told me that “at this time” they will remain online. The spokesperson added, “Clarity will determine the long-term future of the website as they work through additional details of the closure.”
  A shift in conservative media
A lot of ink has already been spilled about the death of The Weekly Standard. But the bottom line is this: It represents a broader shift in conservative media. Outlets on the right that are critical of Trump have lost influence or changed their tone, while media organizations on the right supportive of the President have flourished. 

Hayes touched on this in an all-staff note he sent early Friday morning. Hayes wrote, “This is a volatile time in American journalism and politics. Many media outlets have responded to the challenges of the moment by prioritizing affirmation over information, giving into the pull of polarization and the lure of clickbait. I’m proud that we’ve remained both conservative and independent, providing substantive reporting and analysis based on facts, logic and reason.”
  “Needed now more than at anytime in our previous 23 years…”
After the shuttering of The Weekly Standard was announced, Hayes said in a statement that he was “profoundly disappointed in the decision to close The Weekly Standard,” writing that its “unapologetically conservative” voice was “needed now more than at anytime in our previous 23 years.”

Bill Kristol, who was the original and longtime editor, tweeted, “All good things come to an end. And so, after 23 years, does The Weekly Standard. I want to express my gratitude to our readers and my admiration for my colleagues. We worked hard to put out a quality magazine, and we had a good time doing so. And we have much more to do. Onward!”
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO

The Week’s Matthew Walther writes about “what made The Weekly Standard great…” (The Week)

John Podhoretz, a co-founder of The Weekly Standard, writes that the creation of the magazine was his “proudest professional moment” and adds, “The cessation of the Standard is an intellectual and political crime…” (Commentary

The Weekly Standard’s Alice Lloyd writes about “last lines” and how “the best last lines aren’t endings at all…” (The Weekly Standard)

National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru: “Though the magazine was a competitor to National Review, our rivalry was friendly and respectful. The Standard was a reliable source of intelligent and felicitous writing…” (National Review)

Max Boot: “I devoutly hope a new [Weekly] Standard will arise to lead the Republican Party out of the moral and political oblivion to which the president is consigning it…” (WaPo)
    Mika apologizes on-air for “vulgar” remark     Mika Brzezinski was back on “Morning Joe” Friday morning — and she apologized at the outset of the show for what she characterized as her “vulgar” language earlier in the week. You’ll recall, Brzezinski generated a storm of controversy when she asked on Wednesday if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was a “wannabe dictator’s butt-boy.” 

“Please allow me to say this face to face,” Brzezinski said. “The term is crass and offensive and I apologize to everyone, especially the LGBTQ community and to my colleagues for using it.” Brzezinski added, “I will work hard to be better. I just wanted to say on camera, looking people straight in the eye: I am really, really sorry.”
 
CBS donates $20 million
Brian Stelter emails: On the day Les Moonves was forced out of CBS in September, $20 million from his severance was earmarked for donations. On Friday, CBS named the 18 groups that are getting grants. The goals, according to CBS: “Increasing the number of women in positions of power, promoting education and culture change, and supporting victims of harassment and assault.” The CBS press release did not mention Moonves by name, but it didn’t have to. Here’s my full story…
  What the recipients said
“We thank CBS for these donations,” the groups said in a joint statement. “We also recognize these funds are not a panacea, nor do they erase or absolve decades of bad behavior.” The recipients also said “we look forward to receiving the full results of the investigation into Mr. Moonves and an update on additional concrete commitments that CBS — and all organizations — will make to support lasting change.” 
  Kadro says goodbye to “CBS This Morning”
Brian Stelter emails: In an internal memo on Friday morning, “CBS This Morning” exec producer Ryan Kadro said he’d been discussing his next steps with David Rhodes since September. Now he’s officially stepping down, effective January 4. Kadro played a key role in building “CBS This Morning” from the very beginning. My impression is that he’s well liked inside CBS. His exit is widely seen as a reaction to the morning show’s shaky ratings. The #’s slumped after Charlie Rose was fired a year ago. “CBS News expects to name a successor soon,” a spokeswoman told me…

 –> In a Friday night memo to staff, Rhodes wished Kadro well and said “we have a number of compelling internal and external candidates” for his job. Rhodes said the new E.P. will “take the reins in January.” 
  Speaking of CBS News…
Stelter adds: Why doesn’t “60 Minutes” have a permanent executive producer yet? It has been three months since Jeff Fager was forced out. Bill Owens is just the “interim” E.P. This VF story by Joe Pompeo had an explanation earlier this week: The permanent appointment — Owens, or maybe Susan Zirinsky, or a surprise candidate? — “will not be made” until the law firms’ investigation of CBS, Moonves, Fager, etcetera “is complete.”

Pompeo noted that “staffers are eager for a decision, especially given the wider tumult and uncertainty within the company. The decision is ultimately Rhodes’s to make, but it is expected to involve close input and scrutiny at the highest levels.” I’m hearing more and more frustration from inside “60” about the situation…

 –> Quoting from Rhodes’ Friday night memo: “I continue to be assured in conversations with Joe Ianniello that our company is committed to positive change. We’re working in concert to bring everything to fruition as quickly as possible on a number of fronts…”
 
Facebook announces another privacy problem
Another day, another massive user data issue announced by Facebook. On Friday, the social media company said that it had exposed some photos from as many as 6.8 million users without their permission. Facebook blamed a bug that allowed third-party app developers to access photos which might not have been publicly shared by the person. Donie O’Sullivan has details here…
The new king of the news dump?
Donie O’Sullivan emails: Facebook is becoming the new king of Friday news dumps. Today we learned a bug exposed millions of people’s photos. In September, Facebook announced it had suffered its biggest beach in history. That announcement also came on a Friday. When Facebook admitted that Sheryl Sandberg did actually receive emails about the work Definers (the firm that pointed out George Soros’ links to a group critical of Facebook) it chose to do so on Thanksgiving Eve. And, when Facebook released a report it had commissioned into its role in genocide in Myanmar it did so on the eve of last month’s midterm elections. Maybe it’s all a coincidence. But for a company that says it wants to be transparent it doesn’t look great…
    Dorsey’s gov’t-organized balloon ride in Myanmar
Jack Dorsey’s trip to Myanmar — a country that has experienced violence which activists say might have been fueled in part by social media — has already resulted in a sizable amount of backlash. Ryan Mac’s latest for BuzzFeed is sure to add more fuel to the fire. Mac reported that a now-deleted Facebook post showed Dorsey had taken a hot-air balloon ride in Myanmar arranged by the country’s government. Mac said a Twitter spokesperson confirmed the balloon ride, but said Dorsey had no knowledge of the government’s role with it. Yikes…  
FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE

Daniella Emanuel emails: A new analysis from the Tow Center shows that Apple News editors in the UK rely on only six publications for over 75% of their top news stories…(CJR)

An Phung emails: A Kentucky appeals court ruled that Purdue’s secret OxyContin papers should be released. This is a victory for the health and science news site STAT, which filed a motion more than two years ago to unseal the records… (STAT)

Phung emails another item: ICYMI: The NewsGuild and Writers Guild are having a “banner year for organizing and bargaining” according to this report by Poynter. As newsrooms grapple with layoffs and budget shortfalls, young staffers are unionizing to “take control of what they can…” (Poynter)

Shep Smith is really fed-up with the Hillary Clinton comparisons: “That investigation is over…” (Mediaite)

 — Kudos to WaPo for conducting this “Fact Checker poll…” It shows that the vast majority of Americans refuse to believe Trump’s most egregious falsehoods… (WaPo)
 
THIS WEEK’S PODCAST Inside Mic’s collapse and Vox Media’s growth
“Digital media companies fighting for their futures” is the theme of this week’s “Reliable Sources” podcast. The guests: Two former editors from Mic, Kerry Lauerman and Colleen Curry, and Vox Media’s publisher Melissa Bell. You’ll come away understanding more about what works, and what doesn’t work, for digital media players. Listen to the pod via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your favorite app…     Tucker Carlson loses an advertiser      An insurance company said Friday that it would no longer advertise on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show after the host seemed to suggest mass immigration makes the country “dirtier.” On Thursday night’s program, Carlson said, “We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided.”

Pacific Life responded by telling The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr that as a company it strongly disagreed with Carlson’s comment, and that it would pause its advertising on his show “as we reevaluate our relationship with his program.”
Fox calls it an “unfortunate and unnecessary” distraction
I asked a Fox News spokesperson on Friday afternoon for a comment about Pacific Life pausing ads on Carlson’s program. The spokesperson responded by lacing into left-leaning groups like Media Matters that highlighted Carlson’s comments, saying, “It is a shame that left wing advocacy groups, under the guise of being supposed ‘media watchdogs’ weaponize social media against companies in an effort to stifle free speech. We continue to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions.”
 
A streaming role for Turner’s Kevin Reilly
Kevin Reilly, president of TBS and TNT and chief creative officer at Turner Entertainment, will now also oversee content strategy for WarnerMedia’s forthcoming streaming service. Deadline has the details here…

>> Brian Lowry adds via email: Reilly’s ascent follows a similar move by CBS to consolidate content — including CBS All Access — under chief Showtime’s David Nevins, and both execs cut their teeth at NBC during the “Must-See TV” era. The two joined former colleagues in reminiscing about that period at a Hollywood Radio and Television Society panel last year…
 
What Rupert knows
Alex Koppelman emailsBrian previewed The Ringer’s oral history of Fox’s stunning move to take NFL rights away from CBS in this newsletter the other night. It is as good and interesting as advertised, but I wanted to highlight in particular what seems to me to be the most important quote from it. 
 
It’s from George Krieger, who served for years as a top executive at Fox Sports: “When he does a deal, Rupert’s thinking about, ‘What’s this going to look like 10 years out, 20 years out? Will this help me build a network?’ The other guys are trying to manage financials for the next quarterly financial report.”
 
It’s a quote that says a lot about the history not just of TV but of digital and print media over the past 10 years — all the executives who’ve chased traffic for short-term wins with no concern for the long-term damage they’re doing to their brands, for example. And it’s something that executives should keep in mind if the economy cools off over the next couple years. You can cut and cut and cut and keep your investors happy for a while, but somewhere there’s someone smarter and bolder than you who’s thinking about the future — and soon enough they’ll be kicking your ass.
    Alex Jones is now broadcasting on Instagram 
InfoWars founder Alex Jones is banned by nearly every major social media company. He’s not allowed on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Apple, Spotify, Pinterest, and other such platforms. But the one place he hasn’t been barred from is Instagram — and it seems he’s now starting to take advantage of it.

On Friday, Jones used his Instagram account to broadcast live an episode of the InfoWars show “War Room.” I reached out to Instagram to see if the company had any comment on the issue — after all, Instagram’s parent company Facebook has already banned Jones. An Instagram spokesperson said, “We will be continuing to review reports that we receive from the Instagram community and take action in line with our Community Guidelines.”
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART FOUR

 — Kevin Roose writes about “how YouTube’s year-in-review ‘Rewind’ video set off a civil war…” (NYT)

 — CJR interviews a 19-year-old college student who reported on decades of sexual misconduct allegations against a violin professor at the University of Michigan… (CJR)

 — White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley jokingly asked if Fox News host Bill Hemmer wanted a job in the administration after Hemmer seemed to offer some public relations advice on immigration during a segment… (Mediaite)
    Apple strikes a Peanuts deal
Apple has struck a deal with DHX Media to produce new series, specials and shorts based on the beloved characters from the animated world created by Charles M. Schulz,” Sandra Gonzalez reports, citing “a source familiar with the deal.” She says “the deal with DHX is a major get for Apple in the children-geared programming space…”         By Chloe Melas:

— Here’s the first look at the “Downton Abbey” movie…

— Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger make their relationship IG official…

 David Letterman’s Netflix series has been renewed… 
 
“If Beale Street Could Talk” finds epic quality in love story
Brian Lowry emails:Barry Jenkins took the Oscar two years ago for “Moonlight,” and he could be in the mix again with “If Beale Street Could Talk,” a beautifully rendered love story. It’s based on James Baldwin’s 1970s novel, but directly ties into themes about African-Americans and the justice system that resonate today.

Read Lowry’s full review here…
 
“Springsteen on Broadway” gives fans best seat in the house
Lowry sends another one: Netflix gives Bruce Springsteen fans the best seat in the house for “Springsteen on Broadway,” a marathon special that transfers his sold-out one-man stage show to the screen, shrewdly timed to drop right after its run closes.

Read Lowry’s full review here…  
That’s a wrap on this edition of the newsletter. Enjoy your weekend. Brian will be back on Sunday!   Share Tweet Forward
Mika Brzezinski was back on “Morning Joe” Friday morning — and she apologized at the outset of the show for what she characterized as her “vulgar” language earlier in the week. You’ll recall, Brzezinski generated a storm of controversy when she asked on Wednesday if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was a “wannabe dictator’s butt-boy.” 

“Please allow me to say this face to face,” Brzezinski said. “The term is crass and offensive and I apologize to everyone, especially the LGBTQ community and to my colleagues for using it.” Brzezinski added, “I will work hard to be better. I just wanted to say on camera, looking people straight in the eye: I am really, really sorry.”
 
CBS donates $20 million
Brian Stelter emails: On the day Les Moonves was forced out of CBS in September, $20 million from his severance was earmarked for donations. On Friday, CBS named the 18 groups that are getting grants. The goals, according to CBS: “Increasing the number of women in positions of power, promoting education and culture change, and supporting victims of harassment and assault.” The CBS press release did not mention Moonves by name, but it didn’t have to. Here’s my full story…
  What the recipients said
“We thank CBS for these donations,” the groups said in a joint statement. “We also recognize these funds are not a panacea, nor do they erase or absolve decades of bad behavior.” The recipients also said “we look forward to receiving the full results of the investigation into Mr. Moonves and an update on additional concrete commitments that CBS — and all organizations — will make to support lasting change.” 
  Kadro says goodbye to “CBS This Morning”
Brian Stelter emails: In an internal memo on Friday morning, “CBS This Morning” exec producer Ryan Kadro said he’d been discussing his next steps with David Rhodes since September. Now he’s officially stepping down, effective January 4. Kadro played a key role in building “CBS This Morning” from the very beginning. My impression is that he’s well liked inside CBS. His exit is widely seen as a reaction to the morning show’s shaky ratings. The #’s slumped after Charlie Rose was fired a year ago. “CBS News expects to name a successor soon,” a spokeswoman told me…

 –> In a Friday night memo to staff, Rhodes wished Kadro well and said “we have a number of compelling internal and external candidates” for his job. Rhodes said the new E.P. will “take the reins in January.” 
  Speaking of CBS News…
Stelter adds: Why doesn’t “60 Minutes” have a permanent executive producer yet? It has been three months since Jeff Fager was forced out. Bill Owens is just the “interim” E.P. This VF story by Joe Pompeo had an explanation earlier this week: The permanent appointment — Owens, or maybe Susan Zirinsky, or a surprise candidate? — “will not be made” until the law firms’ investigation of CBS, Moonves, Fager, etcetera “is complete.”

Pompeo noted that “staffers are eager for a decision, especially given the wider tumult and uncertainty within the company. The decision is ultimately Rhodes’s to make, but it is expected to involve close input and scrutiny at the highest levels.” I’m hearing more and more frustration from inside “60” about the situation…

 –> Quoting from Rhodes’ Friday night memo: “I continue to be assured in conversations with Joe Ianniello that our company is committed to positive change. We’re working in concert to bring everything to fruition as quickly as possible on a number of fronts…”
 
Facebook announces another privacy problem
Another day, another massive user data issue announced by Facebook. On Friday, the social media company said that it had exposed some photos from as many as 6.8 million users without their permission. Facebook blamed a bug that allowed third-party app developers to access photos which might not have been publicly shared by the person. Donie O’Sullivan has details here…
The new king of the news dump?
Donie O’Sullivan emails: Facebook is becoming the new king of Friday news dumps. Today we learned a bug exposed millions of people’s photos. In September, Facebook announced it had suffered its biggest beach in history. That announcement also came on a Friday. When Facebook admitted that Sheryl Sandberg did actually receive emails about the work Definers (the firm that pointed out George Soros’ links to a group critical of Facebook) it chose to do so on Thanksgiving Eve. And, when Facebook released a report it had commissioned into its role in genocide in Myanmar it did so on the eve of last month’s midterm elections. Maybe it’s all a coincidence. But for a company that says it wants to be transparent it doesn’t look great…
    Dorsey’s gov’t-organized balloon ride in Myanmar
Jack Dorsey’s trip to Myanmar — a country that has experienced violence which activists say might have been fueled in part by social media — has already resulted in a sizable amount of backlash. Ryan Mac’s latest for BuzzFeed is sure to add more fuel to the fire. Mac reported that a now-deleted Facebook post showed Dorsey had taken a hot-air balloon ride in Myanmar arranged by the country’s government. Mac said a Twitter spokesperson confirmed the balloon ride, but said Dorsey had no knowledge of the government’s role with it. Yikes…  
FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE

Daniella Emanuel emails: A new analysis from the Tow Center shows that Apple News editors in the UK rely on only six publications for over 75% of their top news stories…(CJR)

An Phung emails: A Kentucky appeals court ruled that Purdue’s secret OxyContin papers should be released. This is a victory for the health and science news site STAT, which filed a motion more than two years ago to unseal the records… (STAT)

Phung emails another item: ICYMI: The NewsGuild and Writers Guild are having a “banner year for organizing and bargaining” according to this report by Poynter. As newsrooms grapple with layoffs and budget shortfalls, young staffers are unionizing to “take control of what they can…” (Poynter)

Shep Smith is really fed-up with the Hillary Clinton comparisons: “That investigation is over…” (Mediaite)

 — Kudos to WaPo for conducting this “Fact Checker poll…” It shows that the vast majority of Americans refuse to believe Trump’s most egregious falsehoods… (WaPo)
 
THIS WEEK’S PODCAST Inside Mic’s collapse and Vox Media’s growth
“Digital media companies fighting for their futures” is the theme of this week’s “Reliable Sources” podcast. The guests: Two former editors from Mic, Kerry Lauerman and Colleen Curry, and Vox Media’s publisher Melissa Bell. You’ll come away understanding more about what works, and what doesn’t work, for digital media players. Listen to the pod via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your favorite app…     Tucker Carlson loses an advertiser 
Share Tweet Forward   Welcome to Friday’s edition of the Reliable Sources newsletter. This is Oliver Darcy, filling in for Brian Stelter, and ready to walk you through a busy day of media news. I enjoy reading your feedback, so please do get in touch via email or find me on Twitter.

Scroll down for news on The Weekly Standard, Facebook’s latest data breach, Mika Brzezinski’s on-air apology, and more. But first, some breaking news…
 
BREAKING NEWS:
Federal judge rules ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional
There is some blockbuster news out of Texas tonight. A federal judge declared the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate unconstitutional, adding, “The court declares the remaining provisions of the ACA … are inseverable and therefore invalid.” CNN’s story is here with all the details…

Expect this story to dominate a good portion of the news cycle as we head into the weekend. It’s generating a lot of chatter — among both journalists and politicians — and Trump has already started to tweet about it…
 
The “acting” chief of staff is…
OBM director Mick Mulvaney. Trump announced the news in a tweet, naturally. He added a couple hours later, “For the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M will do a GREAT job!” In an “acting” capacity, BTW.

So who actually wanted the job? That’s unclear. As Irin Carmon quipped on “New Day” Friday morning, the chief of staff job is like the Oscars hosting gig — it used to be a sought-after position! But now? It’s “thanks but no thanks.”

Trump was frustrated by the “growing perception that no one of stature wanted the job,” the AP reported. Per CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, “Trump was sick of the prevailing narrative & wanted to put an end to the speculation & bowing out of candidates” like Chris Christie. Enter Mulvaney. According to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, he was at the W.H. for a meeting about the “looming government shutdown.” He wasn’t there for a job interview! But he “walked out with a promotion…”
Did Christie’s book play a part in his disinterest in the role?
Heading into Friday, Chris Christie seemed to be the frontrunner for Trump’s CoS. Not only does he have a wealth of experience, but he shares chemistry with the president. So why did Christie publicly come out and say that he was not interested? Officially, Christie said “that now is not the right time for me or my family to undertake this serious assignment.” But he has a book coming out in January titled “Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics.” And multiple reporters say that was a factor.

WaPo’s Josh Dawsey tweeted, “Christie’s lucrative memoir, which is expected to settle some scores, will come out in January. It’s finished. Being chief of staff would have complicated that.” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs said that Christie “damaged his standing with Trump with memoir he’s publishing.” And NYT’s Maggie Haberman reported that the book “is expected to touch on his tenure as a federal prosecutor” during which Christie “prosecuted Charles Kushner, the father of Jared Kushner… a task that has since complicated his relationship with the Trump family.”
  “Trump can still convince people to look elsewhere”
The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott wrote in her latest piece that Trump used the Apprentice-styled search for a new CoS, in part, to “manipulate the news cycle” and send send “journalists scrambling to report” the latest updates. “This week thus showcased not only how the White House’s problems show no signs of ebbing, but also how, in spite of them all, Trump can still convince people to look elsewhere,” Plott wrote…
 
All the president’s investigations     Brian Stelter emails: Reporters are great at covering the minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour developments in Trump’s assorted scandals. But what about the BIG story? That’s a lot harder to capture…

CNN on Friday made a concerted effort to zoom out, WAY out. Multiple segments explained “Trump’s deepening legal jeopardy” and “all the president’s investigations.” A graphic noted that the Trump Organization, Trump’s foundation, his 2016 campaign, his transition, his inauguration, and his administration are all under investigation. 

As Ana Cabrera said on Friday: “The one common denominator in each of those? President Trump himself, who is lashing out and blaming other people around him.”
Dean: “Much more damning than Watergate”
Stelter continues: I think the segments were inspired, in part, by CNN contributor John Dean‘s viral tweet overnight. He wrote, “Trump’s campaign. Trump’s transition. Trump’s inauguration. Trump’s presidency. Plus Trump & family. All are now under state and federal criminal and civil investigations. This is much more damning than Watergate, and it is just getting started.”

I know I’ve been a broken record about this, but 90-second nightly news packages and 500-word stories are not enough — the audience needs a lot more to fully digest what’s going on. This came up on Rachel Maddow‘s show on Thursday night, too. “What a moment we are all living through,” she said… “I don’t know who you know or how old they are, but nobody else has ever lived through a moment in the American presidency like this. We’re the first.” So what are the best ways to tell THAT story?

    Cohen speaks to ABC
One of George Stephanopoulos’s key questions for Michael Cohen: “How does this end for Donald Trump?”

Cohen’s answer: “That sort of gets into the whole investigation right now between special counsel’s office, the attorney general’s office, you also have the SDNY — I don’t want to jeopardize any of their investigations.” Translation: Much more to come…
    This Sunday on “Reliable”
Brian Stelter emails: On Sunday morning I’ll be joined by Edward Felsenthal, Joan Walsh, Matt Lewis, Olivia Nuzzi, and Will Bunch… Plus Michael Rothfeld, one of the WSJ reporters who broke the Cohen/Trump/Enquirer news… And Oliver too, if he’s free! Darcy, are you available?

Darcy replies: Yes, I’ll move my brunch plans, see you there 📺
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

Poynter asked 19 Facebook fact-checkers what they think of their partnership with the social media company. Most said it was a net positive, but there is more work to be done… (Poynter

 — The Daily Beast reports via multiple sources that Jared Kushner served as an important conduit between National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and Trump… (Daily Beast)

 — Fox News is “fixated on an alleged wave of media attacks” on Melania Trump. In response, Mediaite points out some of the vicious attacks on Michelle Obama that aired on Fox News… (Mediaite)

 — Hossein Derakhshan writes, “The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not…” (NiemanLab)
    The Weekly Standard is no more     It was the ending feared most by staffers at The Weekly Standard. On Friday morning, Clarity Media Group — a media holding company owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz and the parent company of The Weekly Standard — announced that after more than 23 years of serving as a voice for traditional conservatism, the magazine will cease publishing. Its final issue will be published on December 17. The announcement was delivered to staff in an all-hands meeting after the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Steve Hayes, met privately with Ryan McKibben, who heads Clarity Media Group. My story has all the details here…
  Inside the all-staff meeting
At the brief all hands meeting, which I obtained an audio recording of, McKibben told staff that they would be paid through the end of the year, and that afterward they would receive severance which would range in scale depending on factors like seniority. To receive severance, however, employees would need to sign a strict non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement. “I know it’s an emotional day, but I want to tell you, don’t get on social media and attack anybody because it will put your severance in jeopardy,” McKibben told employees. 

McKibben was not eager to take questions. When staff raised some at one point during the meeting, McKibben replied, “I’m not going to take questions. This isn’t a press conference.”
  TWS subscriptions transferred to new WaEx mag
Staffers at The Weekly Standard had suspected its owner declined to allow the magazine’s leadership to find a buyer because the company wanted to retain access to its subscribers and use them to help launch the Washington Examiner magazine, another one of its media properties. McKibben disputed such speculation at Friday’s meeting, but said that the publisher had a legal legal obligation to subscribers, and that it would be fulfilled by the new Washington Examiner magazine.
  What happens to the archives? 
McKibben stunned staff when he said at Friday’s meeting that “at some point” The Weekly Standard’s website is “going to come down.” That left some with the impression that the archives would be removed. I reached out to Clarity Media Group asking about the magazine’s archives, and a spokesperson told me that “at this time” they will remain online. The spokesperson added, “Clarity will determine the long-term future of the website as they work through additional details of the closure.”
  A shift in conservative media
A lot of ink has already been spilled about the death of The Weekly Standard. But the bottom line is this: It represents a broader shift in conservative media. Outlets on the right that are critical of Trump have lost influence or changed their tone, while media organizations on the right supportive of the President have flourished. 

Hayes touched on this in an all-staff note he sent early Friday morning. Hayes wrote, “This is a volatile time in American journalism and politics. Many media outlets have responded to the challenges of the moment by prioritizing affirmation over information, giving into the pull of polarization and the lure of clickbait. I’m proud that we’ve remained both conservative and independent, providing substantive reporting and analysis based on facts, logic and reason.”
  “Needed now more than at anytime in our previous 23 years…”
After the shuttering of The Weekly Standard was announced, Hayes said in a statement that he was “profoundly disappointed in the decision to close The Weekly Standard,” writing that its “unapologetically conservative” voice was “needed now more than at anytime in our previous 23 years.”

Bill Kristol, who was the original and longtime editor, tweeted, “All good things come to an end. And so, after 23 years, does The Weekly Standard. I want to express my gratitude to our readers and my admiration for my colleagues. We worked hard to put out a quality magazine, and we had a good time doing so. And we have much more to do. Onward!”
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO

The Week’s Matthew Walther writes about “what made The Weekly Standard great…” (The Week)

John Podhoretz, a co-founder of The Weekly Standard, writes that the creation of the magazine was his “proudest professional moment” and adds, “The cessation of the Standard is an intellectual and political crime…” (Commentary

The Weekly Standard’s Alice Lloyd writes about “last lines” and how “the best last lines aren’t endings at all…” (The Weekly Standard)

National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru: “Though the magazine was a competitor to National Review, our rivalry was friendly and respectful. The Standard was a reliable source of intelligent and felicitous writing…” (National Review)

Max Boot: “I devoutly hope a new [Weekly] Standard will arise to lead the Republican Party out of the moral and political oblivion to which the president is consigning it…” (WaPo)
    Mika apologizes on-air for “vulgar” remark     Mika Brzezinski was back on “Morning Joe” Friday morning — and she apologized at the outset of the show for what she characterized as her “vulgar” language earlier in the week. You’ll recall, Brzezinski generated a storm of controversy when she asked on Wednesday if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was a “wannabe dictator’s butt-boy.” 

“Please allow me to say this face to face,” Brzezinski said. “The term is crass and offensive and I apologize to everyone, especially the LGBTQ community and to my colleagues for using it.” Brzezinski added, “I will work hard to be better. I just wanted to say on camera, looking people straight in the eye: I am really, really sorry.”
 
CBS donates $20 million
Brian Stelter emails: On the day Les Moonves was forced out of CBS in September, $20 million from his severance was earmarked for donations. On Friday, CBS named the 18 groups that are getting grants. The goals, according to CBS: “Increasing the number of women in positions of power, promoting education and culture change, and supporting victims of harassment and assault.” The CBS press release did not mention Moonves by name, but it didn’t have to. Here’s my full story…
  What the recipients said
“We thank CBS for these donations,” the groups said in a joint statement. “We also recognize these funds are not a panacea, nor do they erase or absolve decades of bad behavior.” The recipients also said “we look forward to receiving the full results of the investigation into Mr. Moonves and an update on additional concrete commitments that CBS — and all organizations — will make to support lasting change.” 
  Kadro says goodbye to “CBS This Morning”
Brian Stelter emails: In an internal memo on Friday morning, “CBS This Morning” exec producer Ryan Kadro said he’d been discussing his next steps with David Rhodes since September. Now he’s officially stepping down, effective January 4. Kadro played a key role in building “CBS This Morning” from the very beginning. My impression is that he’s well liked inside CBS. His exit is widely seen as a reaction to the morning show’s shaky ratings. The #’s slumped after Charlie Rose was fired a year ago. “CBS News expects to name a successor soon,” a spokeswoman told me…

 –> In a Friday night memo to staff, Rhodes wished Kadro well and said “we have a number of compelling internal and external candidates” for his job. Rhodes said the new E.P. will “take the reins in January.” 
  Speaking of CBS News…
Stelter adds: Why doesn’t “60 Minutes” have a permanent executive producer yet? It has been three months since Jeff Fager was forced out. Bill Owens is just the “interim” E.P. This VF story by Joe Pompeo had an explanation earlier this week: The permanent appointment — Owens, or maybe Susan Zirinsky, or a surprise candidate? — “will not be made” until the law firms’ investigation of CBS, Moonves, Fager, etcetera “is complete.”

Pompeo noted that “staffers are eager for a decision, especially given the wider tumult and uncertainty within the company. The decision is ultimately Rhodes’s to make, but it is expected to involve close input and scrutiny at the highest levels.” I’m hearing more and more frustration from inside “60” about the situation…

 –> Quoting from Rhodes’ Friday night memo: “I continue to be assured in conversations with Joe Ianniello that our company is committed to positive change. We’re working in concert to bring everything to fruition as quickly as possible on a number of fronts…”
 
Facebook announces another privacy problem
Another day, another massive user data issue announced by Facebook. On Friday, the social media company said that it had exposed some photos from as many as 6.8 million users without their permission. Facebook blamed a bug that allowed third-party app developers to access photos which might not have been publicly shared by the person. Donie O’Sullivan has details here…
The new king of the news dump?
Donie O’Sullivan emails: Facebook is becoming the new king of Friday news dumps. Today we learned a bug exposed millions of people’s photos. In September, Facebook announced it had suffered its biggest beach in history. That announcement also came on a Friday. When Facebook admitted that Sheryl Sandberg did actually receive emails about the work Definers (the firm that pointed out George Soros’ links to a group critical of Facebook) it chose to do so on Thanksgiving Eve. And, when Facebook released a report it had commissioned into its role in genocide in Myanmar it did so on the eve of last month’s midterm elections. Maybe it’s all a coincidence. But for a company that says it wants to be transparent it doesn’t look great…
    Dorsey’s gov’t-organized balloon ride in Myanmar
Jack Dorsey’s trip to Myanmar — a country that has experienced violence which activists say might have been fueled in part by social media — has already resulted in a sizable amount of backlash. Ryan Mac’s latest for BuzzFeed is sure to add more fuel to the fire. Mac reported that a now-deleted Facebook post showed Dorsey had taken a hot-air balloon ride in Myanmar arranged by the country’s government. Mac said a Twitter spokesperson confirmed the balloon ride, but said Dorsey had no knowledge of the government’s role with it. Yikes…  
FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE

Daniella Emanuel emails: A new analysis from the Tow Center shows that Apple News editors in the UK rely on only six publications for over 75% of their top news stories…(CJR)

An Phung emails: A Kentucky appeals court ruled that Purdue’s secret OxyContin papers should be released. This is a victory for the health and science news site STAT, which filed a motion more than two years ago to unseal the records… (STAT)

Phung emails another item: ICYMI: The NewsGuild and Writers Guild are having a “banner year for organizing and bargaining” according to this report by Poynter. As newsrooms grapple with layoffs and budget shortfalls, young staffers are unionizing to “take control of what they can…” (Poynter)

Shep Smith is really fed-up with the Hillary Clinton comparisons: “That investigation is over…” (Mediaite)

 — Kudos to WaPo for conducting this “Fact Checker poll…” It shows that the vast majority of Americans refuse to believe Trump’s most egregious falsehoods… (WaPo)
 
THIS WEEK’S PODCAST Inside Mic’s collapse and Vox Media’s growth
“Digital media companies fighting for their futures” is the theme of this week’s “Reliable Sources” podcast. The guests: Two former editors from Mic, Kerry Lauerman and Colleen Curry, and Vox Media’s publisher Melissa Bell. You’ll come away understanding more about what works, and what doesn’t work, for digital media players. Listen to the pod via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your favorite app…     Tucker Carlson loses an advertiser      An insurance company said Friday that it would no longer advertise on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show after the host seemed to suggest mass immigration makes the country “dirtier.” On Thursday night’s program, Carlson said, “We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided.”

Pacific Life responded by telling The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr that as a company it strongly disagreed with Carlson’s comment, and that it would pause its advertising on his show “as we reevaluate our relationship with his program.”
Fox calls it an “unfortunate and unnecessary” distraction
I asked a Fox News spokesperson on Friday afternoon for a comment about Pacific Life pausing ads on Carlson’s program. The spokesperson responded by lacing into left-leaning groups like Media Matters that highlighted Carlson’s comments, saying, “It is a shame that left wing advocacy groups, under the guise of being supposed ‘media watchdogs’ weaponize social media against companies in an effort to stifle free speech. We continue to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions.”
 
A streaming role for Turner’s Kevin Reilly
Kevin Reilly, president of TBS and TNT and chief creative officer at Turner Entertainment, will now also oversee content strategy for WarnerMedia’s forthcoming streaming service. Deadline has the details here…

>> Brian Lowry adds via email: Reilly’s ascent follows a similar move by CBS to consolidate content — including CBS All Access — under chief Showtime’s David Nevins, and both execs cut their teeth at NBC during the “Must-See TV” era. The two joined former colleagues in reminiscing about that period at a Hollywood Radio and Television Society panel last year…
 
What Rupert knows
Alex Koppelman emailsBrian previewed The Ringer’s oral history of Fox’s stunning move to take NFL rights away from CBS in this newsletter the other night. It is as good and interesting as advertised, but I wanted to highlight in particular what seems to me to be the most important quote from it. 
 
It’s from George Krieger, who served for years as a top executive at Fox Sports: “When he does a deal, Rupert’s thinking about, ‘What’s this going to look like 10 years out, 20 years out? Will this help me build a network?’ The other guys are trying to manage financials for the next quarterly financial report.”
 
It’s a quote that says a lot about the history not just of TV but of digital and print media over the past 10 years — all the executives who’ve chased traffic for short-term wins with no concern for the long-term damage they’re doing to their brands, for example. And it’s something that executives should keep in mind if the economy cools off over the next couple years. You can cut and cut and cut and keep your investors happy for a while, but somewhere there’s someone smarter and bolder than you who’s thinking about the future — and soon enough they’ll be kicking your ass.
    Alex Jones is now broadcasting on Instagram 
InfoWars founder Alex Jones is banned by nearly every major social media company. He’s not allowed on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Apple, Spotify, Pinterest, and other such platforms. But the one place he hasn’t been barred from is Instagram — and it seems he’s now starting to take advantage of it.

On Friday, Jones used his Instagram account to broadcast live an episode of the InfoWars show “War Room.” I reached out to Instagram to see if the company had any comment on the issue — after all, Instagram’s parent company Facebook has already banned Jones. An Instagram spokesperson said, “We will be continuing to review reports that we receive from the Instagram community and take action in line with our Community Guidelines.”
 
FOR THE RECORD, PART FOUR

 — Kevin Roose writes about “how YouTube’s year-in-review ‘Rewind’ video set off a civil war…” (NYT)

 — CJR interviews a 19-year-old college student who reported on decades of sexual misconduct allegations against a violin professor at the University of Michigan… (CJR)

 — White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley jokingly asked if Fox News host Bill Hemmer wanted a job in the administration after Hemmer seemed to offer some public relations advice on immigration during a segment… (Mediaite)
    Apple strikes a Peanuts deal
Apple has struck a deal with DHX Media to produce new series, specials and shorts based on the beloved characters from the animated world created by Charles M. Schulz,” Sandra Gonzalez reports, citing “a source familiar with the deal.” She says “the deal with DHX is a major get for Apple in the children-geared programming space…”         By Chloe Melas:

— Here’s the first look at the “Downton Abbey” movie…

— Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger make their relationship IG official…

 David Letterman’s Netflix series has been renewed… 
 
“If Beale Street Could Talk” finds epic quality in love story
Brian Lowry emails:Barry Jenkins took the Oscar two years ago for “Moonlight,” and he could be in the mix again with “If Beale Street Could Talk,” a beautifully rendered love story. It’s based on James Baldwin’s 1970s novel, but directly ties into themes about African-Americans and the justice system that resonate today.

Read Lowry’s full review here…
 
“Springsteen on Broadway” gives fans best seat in the house
Lowry sends another one: Netflix gives Bruce Springsteen fans the best seat in the house for “Springsteen on Broadway,” a marathon special that transfers his sold-out one-man stage show to the screen, shrewdly timed to drop right after its run closes.

Read Lowry’s full review here…  
That’s a wrap on this edition of the newsletter. Enjoy your weekend. Brian will be back on Sunday!   Share Tweet Forward
By Chloe Melas:

— Here’s the first look at the “Downton Abbey” movie…

— Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger make their relationship IG official…

 David Letterman’s Netflix series has been renewed… 
 
“If Beale Street Could Talk” finds epic quality in love story
Brian Lowry emails:Barry Jenkins took the Oscar two years ago for “Moonlight,” and he could be in the mix again with “If Beale Street Could Talk,” a beautifully rendered love story. It’s based on James Baldwin’s 1970s novel, but directly ties into themes about African-Americans and the justice system that resonate today.

Read Lowry’s full review here…
 
“Springsteen on Broadway” gives fans best seat in the house
Lowry sends another one: Netflix gives Bruce Springsteen fans the best seat in the house for “Springsteen on Broadway,” a marathon special that transfers his sold-out one-man stage show to the screen, shrewdly timed to drop right after its run closes.

Read Lowry’s full review here…

That’s a wrap on this edition of the newsletter. Enjoy your weekend. Brian will be back on Sunday!



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

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

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

Associated Press

Published 13 December 2018

Image via AP Photo/File

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

___

Associated Press writer Chad Day contributed to this report.

By Associated Press

Published 13 December 2018

Filed Under russia , russian spy

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

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

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

by staff writer

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

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

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo 2019 New Year Statement

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