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Wasteful Motion defeated

No confidence motion just a show ignorance

A motion of no confidence described by The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) in its previous issue of the newspaper, as “… Wasting the people’s time of confidence…,”   was easily defeated as expected on Monday, October 29. All five (remaining) government legislators voted to keep the four-year old administration in office.
(See for details: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/a-motion-wasting-the-peoples-time-of-confidence-importance-and-business/)

Dr. Ingrid Buffonge, who had tabled the motion against the government, she was once a member, said, “I wish the PDM (People’s Democratic Movement) well in the next year in office,” after the defeated motion.

But as she wound up the debate, she said she wanted to caution Montserratians “to vote wisely” adding “let us not make the same mistake”.

Buffonge said that she was pleased in bringing the motion since it was important to “hold the government to account” but acknowledged that the vote would not be in support of removing the Romeo administration, no doubt in apparent reference to the decision by former agriculture minister Claude Hogan to side with the government.

Former agriculture minister Claude Hogan, it is felt in some quarters held the key to the survival of the government that faced an uphill task to complete its first five-year term,

Political observers had erroneously expected former agriculture minister Claude Hogan, who was fired by Romeo last year, to vote in support of the opposition that included two former PDM members. But when the debate on the motion was adjourned late the Thursday night before the Monday vote, Hogan had already made his position known to legislators. He said that he had no intention of voting against the government that came to power in 2014, winning seven of the nine seats at stake in the Legislative Assembly.

“We should withdraw the vote of no confidence.  If you want to change the premier there is a way to do it,” said Hogan.

Buffonge, had earlier said that she wanted to inform legislators, foreign investors and other stakeholders interested in the development of the volcano-ravaged British Overseas Territory that the motion does not signal “political instability” here.

“My colleagues in opposition and myself as well as others who will be elected in the next general election, and I do speak for some of them no, after four years of getting things so terribly wrong we pledge to get it right.”

Earlier Premier Romeo dismissed the arguments made against by the opposition as he defended his tenure in office.

He told legislators also that while being appreciative of the role Britain plays in the development of the volcano ravaged island, London was also imposing all manner of restrictions stifling his administration.

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FAC Inquiry Janice

Berating a destructive Submission

Shelley Harris gets the rebuke of Montserrat on her submission to the FAC Inquiry

No other British resident has gone this far!

Former DFID Miss Priti Patel

In the October 19, 2018 issue of the TMR newspaper the Editorial caption read, “We cringe at what the FAC submissions must look like”. We had in our possession a copy of one of the submissions, and were seeking to obtain any others that had been made to include Government of Montserrat (GoM).

The submissions could have been made orally or written; (and we believe both if necessary). On November 7, we noted that most written ‘evidence’ submissions were published on the 6th and accessible at: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/foreign-affairs-committee/inquiries1/parliament-2017/inquiry13/publications/

Two were published on Nov 13, while oral evidence was given by our Janice Panton on Nov 12 published 06 Nov 2018 – The future of the UK Overseas Territories – oral evidence | PDF version (247 KB) HC 1464 | (Published 12 Nov 2018) along with Elise Donovan, British Virgin Islands (BVI) Government representative in the UK, and Janice Panton, Montserrat Government representative in the UK.

Janice Panton, Montserrat Government representative in the UK

On Nov 7 having been directed to the above link of the submissions, attention was drawn by a usually reliable source to a submission, by Shelley Harris husband to Nigel Harris of Montserrat Airways Ltd. owners of the airline FlyMontserrat.

The cringe was here and by the next day, the gates opened with the correspondence and the reaction of anyone Montserratian or just a friend of Montserrat.

The written submission was just over three pages long, but the contents became the subject of castigation, on Social media, radio statements, without discussion, except for ‘support’ from Speaker Shirley Osborne and distance statement from her husband Nigel on behalf of FlyMontserrat. That came in for its own criticism as well.

Mrs. Harris in the Statement in which she even denounced The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) and Radio Montserrat. “A free press would help,” she wrote. “Currently the only newspaper (TMR) hardly every(sic) ever comes out and is reduced to just republishing other agency material from off island. The Radio station is frightened to say anything anti-government and much goes unreported unless the speaker can get on air live.”

Attention was drawn to the BBC TV broadcast of the oral evidence being given https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/e2fd46fe-6270-4c04-a122-da37f8e5724a – on Tuesday 6 November 2018 Meeting started at 2.51pm, ended 4.37pm and was now being rebroadcast on the 8th.

Very quickly following the broadcast, it was noticed, former DFID Miss Priti Patel had stated: “We have also had evidence that the Montserrat Government are completely incompetence (sic) incompetent and waste enormous amounts of money, which comes from the British taxpayer!” then asked, “Is that something you think is true?” The answer was a straight “No.”

Soon after, the Committee Chairman asked Panton: “Is Montserrat sustainable as an individual territory anymore?”

Janice Panton: “I think it could be. If you look at what Montserrat as a territory has to offer…”

This one writer’s observation was directly taken from Harris’ submission. Their first reaction we received, to that and the rest, “she should be deported!” A strong feeling of disgust, suggesting, “In case anyone thought that what Shelley Harris said to the UK government could simply be ignored as the rant of an ungrateful guest in our country.  Think again.”

They cited the questions to Panton noting that Harris said in her submission: “2. Montserrat does not have a functioning government. The current one is completely incompetent and wastes enormous amounts of money – most of which comes from the British taxpayer.” The writer referenced the question (137) in the transcript from Patel as above, noting that “Panton was visibly taken aback by the ridiculous assertion and could only manage to respond; “No. That is not something I think…””

“So, there we have it; every negative word uttered by a woman whose salary is paid by Montserrat out of the mismanaged UK aid funds, is being thrown back in our face verbatim by a ranking member of the FAC… Can you imagine what else the Harris’ say to the UK government officials behind our back…” And showing more serious concern, “And who knows what other rubbish the UK officials take on board as factual,” concluding that “the matter was more serious”, than they thought at first.

There are those who suggested that Harris did not expect or realised that her submission would be publicized, believing, rightly that this was not a first that British residents have done previously and for some time.

This writer said: “When Shelly Harris wants to send secret messages to the FCO to talk about poor governance and waste of tax payers’ money, she would do well to remember that Fly Montserrat has never paid a penny in taxes into the Treasury so far in their entire existence on Montserrat, courtesy of the previous MCAP government.”

Other public comments, substantiated the writer, citing the waiver of taxes from 2009 – 2019: “S.R.O. 24 of 2014 – Exemption: Fly Montserrat Ltd. Is exempted from the payment of corporation tax for a period of five years commencing on 1st April, 2014 and terminating on 31st March, 2019.

Waiver of outstanding corporation tax: Fly Montserrat Ltd. Is granted a waiver of all outstanding tax owed before and up to 1st April, 2014.

This writer goes on to remind, that the MDC put EC$250,000 into the purchase of their 50-year-old aircraft; and, “it was the Government of Montserrat that bought the Medivac equipment for their aircraft;” and more, “They should tell everyone that they get a monthly hand out from the Access Division, yes a big fat check for EC$18,000. With no questions asked.”

No other company in Montserrat is treated so favourably… the writer states.” “Free Money! Help to buy money spinning Assets! and No Taxes!” 

“Yes, indeed Mrs Harris, what a waste of tax payers’ money.”

These questions flowed: How about the government takes your monthly hand out and uses that money in a manner that helps more people in Montserrat, rather than fund your large do-nothing salary?

 How about the FSC and Inland Revenue have a good look at your company’s accounts, which even your directors and shareholders can only take a peek at 10 minutes before your AGM, with no takeaway copies? What are you hiding? Perhaps a full audit of Fly Montserrat is in order! 

“Or better yet, how about you just leave the country?”

‘The Governor you testified is a wonderful chap. He tries to work in your interest. He calls Airport Management to smooth things.Well let me tell you one thing Mrs Fly Montserrat. You and the Governor don’t run this island. There will be never be UK Direct Rule here. Not in my lifetime.So, Thank You. Now everyone knows where you stand.”

Many questioned whether the Government would sit by without comment on the upsetting submission. It was not long before the Premier issued a statement, published in this issue for the benefit of the public. In the Statement which was also issued on radio, he said:

“While, like most, I was appalled at the tone of her unfounded accusations and ill-advised colonialistic suggestions, I must admit that I am not at all surprised.  Her statements clearly show the sort of attitudes and influences behind the scenes that have harmed and hampered Montserrat’s progress for many years.” 

Hylroy Bramble – Labour Speaks

Premier Donaldson Romeo

Visit to listen: https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/wednesday-november-14-2018-a-statement-by-premier-hon-donaldson-romeo-regarding-shelley-harris-comments/

Also speaking out publicly. David Brandt who filed a written submission to the FAC made a statement on radio very critical of the Shelley Statement, noting that the Government is the biggest investor in the airline, while Nigel did not put in a cent (that depends).

Also, speaking out especially on the statement on labour conditions – Hylroy Bramble on his Labour Speaks program. https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/wednesday-november-14-2018-labour-speaks-with-hylroy-bramble/

 

Visit to listen to these two: https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/wednesday-november-14-2018-a-statement-by-david-s-brandt-regarding-shelley-harris-comments/ 

 

Reaction on Social media was also quick and one controversial but somewhat colourful commentator and observer began: “a Big RAZZAH To The Fly M/Rat Lady. Well Done. Take A Bow. All our local reverences to you.I For One Am Happy. Your written testimony to the UK Parliament Committee was outstanding. Yes I know you thought it would be secret. Or were you trying to be a whistle blower. Madame That ship has sunk like Mundo Boat. What we have here is just another ungrateful Visitor.

Yes Mrs Fly Montserrat. We bent over like gymnasts and had you ram your Chanticleer up our rears. I guess you wanted us to imbibe your bahookies too. So when we couldn’t ingest no more of your Crappola. You defamed us in your testimony to the Select Committee.

I hope at least one person chooses another service provider to get to Antigua.

If we had a Government. They could have run the Ferry seven days a week. If we had a Government they would have told you John A Osborne Airport doesn’t belong to you.

 You’re just a tenant.

The Governor you testified is a wonderful chap. He tries to work in your interest. He calls Airport Management to smooth things.

Well let me tell you one thing Mrs Fly Montserrat. You and the Governor don’t run this island. There’ll will be never be UK Direct Rule here. Not in my lifetime.

So Thank You. Now everyone knows where you stand.

But, while more outpouring of anger and disgust at Harris’ submission kept surfacing, her husband as a director on behalf of the FlyMontserrat company issued this: “Flymontserrat would like to make it clear that Statements recently made by Shelley Harris are made by her on an individual basis and not made on behalf of the company.”

This he undid or exposed the real truth and the reason why so many connected her to the company, and not believing anything he or she said afterwards: “The views made by Shelley Harris do not necessarily reflect the views of Flymontserrat.”

The situation is that her husband has expressed publicly and privately, many of the same sentiments and discontent and disagreements towards Montserrat, behaving often in a dishonest and destructive way, always in favour of the progress of his airline.

Meanwhile, Shelley issued a ‘comeback’ statement which she circulated, omitting TMR whom she had misrepresented directly in her destructive submission. That single act of exclusion on her part tells a picture that over time the public will know about. This writer and editor of TMR here takes responsibility for being in the forefront (not in that official capacity) of establishing the very name FlyMontserrat and lots more for an airline that turned out, not to be what had been envisioned and agreed before he was cast aside as one of three directors, the other having walked away from the company very soon after the ugliness exhibited in this saga of FlyMontserrat and its owners soon emerged.

ZJB radio carried a report on Shelley follow-up statement, as they may have received a copy thereof.  The report reflected some of the issues raised and explained from her submission. “The submission to the U.K. parliament to a FAC continues to attract the ire of some people both on Montserrat and in the diaspora. Shelley Harris has issued a statement in her defense.

In her submission to the FAC Mrs Harris launched what some perceived to be an attack on the people of Montserrat, its institutions (media included) and government. Among the statements thought to be provocative is a suggestion that the U.K. government should reduce the ferry service to 10 days of operation a year, productivity in the public service and the inability of the island to govern itself.

“As far as the access issue is concerned, Managing Director of Montserrat Nigel Harris distanced himself from the statement. made by his partner saying in a subsequent statement that the View made by Mrs. Harris did not necessarily reflect the views of the company.”

The report on the matter continued: Editor James White said: “Mrs. Harris in a statement on Tuesday, reveals that a submission to the F.A.C. in her own right was done without the knowledge of anyone in fly Montserrat until after the submission was made… She said she did it publicly because she believed in putting her name to her submission and not hiding behind anonymity Mrs. Harris highlights that being part of our democracy also have duties stressing that the freedom which the forefathers of Monserrat and the U.K. fought for.

(See abstracts of her statement highlighted elsewhere in this issue)

Yet, not every Montserratian agreed that the Shelley was more than offensive, as Shirley Osborne, the Hon Speaker of Montserrat’s Assembly, sprang up in her defence, or FlyMontserrat’s, exposing a natural but in our opinion, unprofessional bias.

Here is more social media reaction, some excerpts, this time to Shirley’s self-expose.

“Low and behold who was the appointed one. A black eye for St Peter’s Village. Bassie would say “a wa happun to mi pickney. A Drum Jam a real Jumbie Dance is needed To get di hex off SHIRLEY OSBORNE. It must be OBEAH not Filthy Lucre to meek shurli tun sell out.  Now me kno how dem brave boys felt on St Patrick’s Day so long ago.

Now Madame Speaker the outspoken defender of all things Montserratian. She is the one (they) chose.

Ms Osborne you claim we should be: Sensible, Strategic, Sophisticated and Objective. Is she throwing big words to fool some of us. Well The Conscience don’t have to look in no Dictionary to find out the meanings.

Let’s be SENSIBLE. Question. Is Fly M/Rat of any benefit to us? Let’s be STRATEGIC. Can we do better elsewhere? Let’s be SOPHISTICATED. We’re not backward ppl as Shelly and Shirley seem to think we are. Let’s be OBJECTIVE. How can we be. A Redneck is calling us Dumb, Corrupt, Lazy and Incapable Of Governing ourselves. And we should keep personal feelings out of it. HELL NO.”

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Kevin Breuninger

CNN sues President Trump and White House for banning reporter Jim Acosta

  • CNN is suing President Donald Trump and multiple White House aides for revoking press pass of the news network’s White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
  • The lawsuit comes less than a week after the White House announced it would suspend Acosta’s “hard pass” in the wake of the reporter’s fiery exchange with Trump at a news conference Wednesday.
  • CNN alleges in its legal action, which has been filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were being violated with the ban.

 
 
 
 
 
 

CNN sues President Trump and White House for banning reporter Jim Acosta  

CNN is suing President Donald Trump and multiple White House aides for revoking the press pass of the news network’s White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

The lawsuit comes less than a week after press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced it would suspend Acosta’s White House credential, often called a “hard pass,” in the wake of the reporter’s fiery exchange with Trump at a news conference Wednesday.

Sanders, White House chief of staff John Kelly, deputy communications chief Bill Shine and Secret Service Director Randolph Alles are also included in the suit. The Secret Service officer who yanked Acosta’s pass is included as well, though he is not identified by name.

 

In a statement, Sanders said the lawsuit was “just more grandstanding from CNN,” and vowed that the White House will “vigorously defend” itself.

 

Watch President Trump and CNN’s Jim Acosta heated exchange  

CNN alleges in its legal action, which has been filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were being violated with the ban.

Lawyer Ted Olson, who served as Solicitor General under President George W. Bush and who reportedly declined Trump’s request to join his personal legal team in March, is one of CNN’s attorneys in the suit, a court filing shows.

Acosta, who has frequently clashed with Trump administration officials, had challenged the president about his characterization of a “caravan” of Central American migrants traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border.

A female staffer then attempted to pull the microphone out of Acosta’s hand, which he initially refused to surrender. “You are a rude, terrible person,” Trump responded as Acosta continued to speak into a microphone being passed around to the gaggle of reporters present for the news conference in the White House.

Later Wednesday, Acosta tweeted that he had been denied entrance to the White House grounds.

Sanders, in a series of tweets the same same day, said the Trump administration will “never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.”

Critics and media colleagues quickly pushed back on the statement, arguing that Sanders had mischaracterized the altercation. The press secretary received even more criticism after she tweeted a video of the exchange, which The Washington Post and other outlets said was doctored. That video was first shared by a right-wing commentator associated with conspiracy theory website Infowars, the Post reported.

Later that week, Trump appeared to discard the notion that Acosta had inappropriately placed his hands on the intern — the reason stated by Trump’s administration for revoking the pass in the first place.

Acosta “was not nice to that young woman,” Trump said in remarks to reporters Friday, but “I don’t hold him for that because it wasn’t overly, you know, horrible.”

CNN is asking the court for a preliminary injunction that would reinstate Acosta’s press credentials as soon as possible.

“While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone,” CNN said in a statement Tuesday morning. “If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.”

Minutes after the lawsuit was reported Tuesday morning, White House Correspondents’ Association President Olivier Knox offered a statement of support for the media outlet.

“Revoking access to the White House complex amounted to disproportionate reaction to the events of last Wednesday. We continue to urge the Administration to reverse course and fully reinstate CNN’s correspondent,” Knox said.

He added: “The President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him.”

The president has regularly slammed numerous mainstream media outlets “fake news” for their coverage of him and his administration, including The New York Times, NBC News, The Washington Post and others.

Trump has repeatedly singled out CNN in his attacks. And days after CNN’s New York offices were targeted with mail bombs allegedly by Trump fanatic Cesar Sayoc, the president said “the Fake News Media” was “the true Enemy of the People.

Acosta has also been the target of criticism for his style in front of the news cameras. Writer Todd Purdum argued in The Atlantic in August that Acosta’s “performance journalism” provides the Trump administration with “another convenient villain” in the press.

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Theresa May said at the lord mayor’s banquet that there remained ‘significant issues’ to resolve in the Brexit talks.

Brexit: time running out as Theresa May claims talks in ‘the endgame’

PM says negotiations with EU ‘immensely difficult’ as summit deadline comes under threat

Theresa May said at the lord mayor’s banquet that there remained ‘significant issues’ to resolve in the Brexit talks.
Theresa May said at the lord mayor’s banquet that there remained ‘significant issues’ to resolve in the Brexit talks. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Theresa May’s efforts to secure a Brexit deal by the end of March have suffered a serious setback after it emerged that UK and European Union negotiators were struggling to bridge the gap over the Irish border backstop in time for a November summit.

The prime minister was forced to admit that “significant” issues remained despite talks that went on until the early hours of Monday morning. Unless there is dramatic progress by the end of Wednesday, the exit timetable will become increasingly squeezed.

Cabinet members, who had been expecting to sign off the final Brexit negotiating position on Tuesday, were told that the issue would hardly be discussed at the meeting beyond an update of the UK’s preparedness for no deal.

Negotiators stayed up until 2.45am on Monday in pursuit of a breakthrough that did not come as the EU made a series of last-minute demands by attaching fresh conditions to the customs backstop, which is designed to come into force if no long-term free trade deal can be signed by the end of 2020.

That failure to progress the talks almost certainly delays agreement at an EU level until a summit scheduled for 13/14 December and makes it increasingly difficult for the critical “meaningful final vote” of MPs on May’s deal to be held before Christmas.

Addressing the lord mayor’s banquet at the Guildhall in London on Monday night, May said: “The negotiations for our departure are now in the endgame”. But in remarks aimed at Brussels negotiators, she added that they could not expect concessions this week just to keep the idea of a November Brexit summit alive.

“We are working extremely hard, through the night, to make progress on the remaining issues in the withdrawal agreement, which are significant,” the prime minister said. “Both sides want to reach an agreement, but what we are negotiating is immensely difficult.”

May’s remarks came as No 10 tried to accuse the EU of trying to bounce the UK into a deal. There had been a brief flurry of speculation at lunchtime, following a report in the Financial Times, that a deal could be close, based on one account of a briefing given by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, to European ministers. One witness said that Barnier had said “the parameters of a possible agreement are very largely defined”, but No 10 said any suggestion that a deal was close should be taken with “a bucket of salt”.

Labour, meanwhile, is to step up the pressure on the government by launching a bid on Tuesday to force ministers to publish the government’s legal advice on May’s Irish backstop plan before MPs vote to approve her Brexit deal, saying it would be unacceptable for MPs to be kept “in the dark” on how any agreement was reached.

In Brussels, Barnier told European affairs ministers for the 27 EU members that the negotiators had so far failed to make the decisive progress. “Barnier explained that intense negotiating efforts continue, but an agreement has not been reached yet,” a statement said.

No 10 is faced with a series of emerging demands from the EU, which wants to attach new conditions to the backstop.

Brussels wants the UK to sign up to “dynamic” alignment with state aid and future environmental, social and labour regulations, which would in effect force parliament to cut and paste EU rules into British law.

A commitment on the side of the British to provide the European fishing fleet with access to UK seas after Brexit has also been proposed by member states as a condition for agreement on the customs union.

It is not yet agreed how the backstop can be terminated and there are growing concerns across the Conservative party that it could be used to keep the UK in a long-term customs union with the EU without a say in its regulation. More than 50 hard Brexiters have said they will vote against the Chequers plan, which proposed to keep the UK aligned with EU rules on food and goods after Brexit.

Jo Johnson, the former rail minister who resigned from the government on Friday to support a second referendum , will speak to a rally in Westminster on Tuesday opposing the prime minister’s plan to take Britain out of the EU.

“I am concerned that a Conservative government is preparing to leave the British people ill-informed over the consequences, with the decision not to publish evidence showing this is a worse deal that the one we already have inside the EU,” Johnson wrote in an article for the Times.

Earlier on Monday, Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, became the second cabinet minister in two days to warn that the prime minister did not have a completely free hand in her negotiations with Brussels.

“The important thing is that there’s two checks on this deal – there’s cabinet and there’s parliament. And so cabinet’s job is to put something to parliament that is going to deliver on the referendum result. We need to work together as a cabinet to do that,” Mordaunt said.

Brexiter Andrea Leadsom said on Sunday that she was “sticking in government” to ensure the UK was not trapped in a customs arrangement against its will.

UK sources said last week that they hoped Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, could make a visit to Brussels on Tuesday to unveil a deal and prepare the way for a Brexit summit. But No 10 said on Monday that there were no plans for him to make that journey.

EU capitals also want time to examine any agreement made between the European commission and the UK before it is published. France and Germany are understood to have made the point forcefully to Barnier.

The withdrawal agreement, the draft exit treaty, is already running to more than 400 pages of dense legal text. It is expected to be published when a deal is agreed in principle between the UK and the EU, accompanied by a political declaration about the future trade relationship between the two.

Michael Roth, Germany’s minister for the EU, said the member states had made “many compromises but the room for manoeuvre is very much limited and our British friends know exactly where our discussions are”.

Belgium’s deputy prime minister, Didier Reynders, told reporters: “We have time but not so much, so for this moment it’s very difficult to make real progress but before Christmas I’m hoping that it will be possible”.

Simon Coveney, the Irish deputy prime minister and foreign minister, said it was “a very important week for the Brexit negotiations”.

“There is clearly work to do between the two negotiating teams and I think we need to give them time and space now to finish that job,” he said.

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Caribbean candidates victorious in midterm elections

Caribbean candidates victorious in midterm elections

By Nelson A. King

NEW YORK, Nov 7, CMC – In an unusually very high voter-turnout in midterm elections in the United States that observers say illustrates strong opposition to President Donald J. Trump, a number of Caribbean Democratic candidates in New York romped to victory Tuesday night with overwhelming majorities.

Uninterrupted rain throughout Tuesday and problems with the voting machines did not prevent voters for casting ballots in an era of Trumpism.

Yvette Clarke

According to the New York State Board of Elections results, popular Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, won in a landslide, garnering 167,199 votes, or 87.59 per cent, to her Republican Haitian-born challenger, Lutch Gayot, who received 10,336 votes, or 10.13 per cent.

Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, noted that her victory came on the 50th anniversary of the first Caribbean American woman, Shirley Chisholm, to run for the United States Congress.

The late Chisholm, whose mother was Barbadian and father Guyanese, was also the first Black woman to run for the US Congress. She had represented the then 11th Congressional District in Brooklyn.

“I’ve demonstrated to the people of this district (9th Congressional) that I am committed to them,” Clarke told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

“But I still have more work to do in the era of Trump – that this district has opportunities to sustain itself, that we use voter-strength to push for the goals of my community,” she added.

With the Democratic Party regaining the US House of Representatives, Clarke, a senior member of the House Energy Committee, said she will be in a better position to help her constituents.

“The victory will help to invest in infrastructure, health care, among a host of other things,” she said.

In the New York State Senate, Democratic Senator Roxanne Persaud, a Guyanese-born immigrant, regained her seat in a landslide in the 19th Senatorial District in Brooklyn.

Persaud received 64,940 votes, or 86. 90 per cent, to her Republican challenger, Jeffrey Ferretti, who received 7, 419 votes, or 9.93 percent.

“By winning the seat, we can continue doing what we’re doing,” Persaud told CMC Tuesday night at the Democratic Party Club headquarters.

“I’m not focusing on one group of people. When you do that, you’re polarizing people. I do a lot of social issues in my community – foster care, senior care, etc.,” Persaud added.

For just the third time in 50 years, the Democratic Party gained control of the New York State Senate Tuesday night in what pundits said was a clear repudiation of Trump’s policies.

In the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn, Zellnor Myrie, a young lawyer of Costa Rican parentage and Jamaican-born grandmother, defeated the incumbent Jesse Hamilton, who ran for the Independent Party. Democrat Myrie had trounced Hamilton in the Democratic Primary.

In Tuesday’s midterm, elections, Myrie received 67, 803 votes, or 88.06 per cent, to Hamilton’s 5, 327 votes, or 6.92 per cent.

In New York State Assembly, Caribbean Democratic candidates were also triumphant.

Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, handsomely beat two challengers.

Bichotte garnered 26, 817 votes, or 87.66 per cent; Republican Matthew Williams received 2,173 votes, or 7.10 per cent; and Jamaican Anthony Beckford, of the Green Party, received 631 votes, or two per cent.

“I feel good!” Bichotte exclaimed on Election Night. “I think, throughout the whole year, I’ve been working hard to fill all corners of my constituency.”

Bichotte’s Assembly Democratic colleague, Diana Richardson, the daughter of St. Martin and Aruban immigrants, was unchallenged in the 43rd Assembly District in Brooklyn. Richardson received 33,345 votes, or 92.94 percent.

Jaime Williams

In her first bid for elective office, Haitian Dr. Mathylde Frontas, a Columbia University professor, was victorious in the 46th Assembly District in Brooklyn.

In a four-way race, Democrat Frontas received 14, 750 votes, or 51.84 per rcent; Republican Steven Saperstein received 11, 823 votes, or 41.55 per cent; Ethan Lustig-Elgrably, of the Working Families Party, received 421 votes, or 1.48 pe rcent; and Patrick Dwyer, of the Green Party, received 284 votes, or one per cent.

Trinidadian Jaime Williams was overwhelmingly re-elected in the 59th Assembly District in Brooklyn. Democrat Williams received 26, 229 votes, or 77.69 per cent, to Republican Brandon Washington’s 6,306 votes, or 18.67 per cent.

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CCJ President respects the outcome of referenda in two Caribbean countries

CCJ President respects the outcome of referenda in two Caribbean countries

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Nov 7, CMC – President of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders, said that the court would continue “ongoing initiatives with justice sector bodies” in Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada despite the population in those two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries voting in favour of retaining the London-based Privy Council as  their final court.

“While the news is not what we hoped for, we respect the people of both nations and their decision,” Justice Saunders said in a statement following Tuesday’s referenda in the two countries.

CCJ President – Justice Adrian Saunders

“One of the positives that came out of this exercise is that there was sustained public education in both nations and the conversation about the CCJ intensified. We can see the fact that there was more interest in our website, ccj.org, and on our social media platforms, on LinkedIn and Twitter.

“As we begin to implement our strategic plan for the 2019-2023, which includes a renewed focus on public education, we will certainly be taking advantage of the increased audience, and the interest that has been piqued, to provide more information about the work of the Court,” Justice Saunders said.

The governments in Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada had hoped to join Belize, Barbados, Dominica and Guyana as the only CARICOM countries that are full members of the CCJ that was established in 2001 to replace the Privy Council as the region’s final court.

The CCJ, which has both an Original and Appellate Jurisdiction, also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-mdmber regional integration movement.

Justice Saunders said despite the defeat, the CCJ “will naturally continue ongoing initiatives with justice sector bodies in each of these countries, and the wider Caribbean, through the JURIST project and otherwise.”

The turnout in the referendum in both countries were low.

In Grenada, of 21, 979 votes cast, some 9,846 persons voted to adopt the CCJ as the final Court of Appeal,, while in Antigua and Barbuda, there were 9,234 votes against and 8,509 votes in favour of the adoption of the CCJ.

“These results will not, of course, deter us from serving with distinction those nations that currently send their final appeals to us. As well, the Court will also continue to process and hear applications from all CARICOM States, and from CARICOM itself, in our Original Jurisdiction, and our justice reform work in the region will also continue,” Justice Saunders said.

The CCJ noted that Grenada has an Original Jurisdiction case currently before the Court and that the JURIST Project, which is a multiyear justice reform project being implemented by the CCJ on behalf of the Conference of Heads of Judiciary of CARICOM states, is working on a Sexual Offences Model Court to be housed at the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda in 2019.

The CCJ Academy of Law is also hosting a legal conference in Jamaica in December 2018 at which jurists from both countries, as well as the wider Caribbean, are participating, the CCJ added.

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Prime Minister Mitchell disappointed at results

Prime Minister Mitchell disappointed at results

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Nov 6, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell Tuesday said he was disappointed at the results of a referendum that would allowed Grenada to join the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the island’s final court..

Grenadians voted for a second time within a two year period, to reject efforts to replace the London-based Privy Council as the island’s highest court.

In a national referendum on Tuesday, the preliminary figures released by the Parliamentary Elections Office (PEO) show that the “No’ vote secured 12,133 as compared to 9,846 for those supporting the CCJ that was established in 2001.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell

Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip, said that 22,098 or 28 per cent of registered voters participated in the referendum. Off that number there were 119 rejected ballots, 9846 for the approval and 12133 voted against the approval. In terms of percentage, he explained that 45.05 per cent for the change and 54.39 per cent against the change.

The CCJ also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement, CARICOM.

“The people have voted based on what they wished to see. As a serious Democrat it (result) has been accepted. I am not happy with it but that has always been my position when results of electiopns are given,” Mitchell said.

“I am disappointed but I am in total acceptance of the results,” he added.

After casting his ballot on Tuesday, an optimistic Mitchell had said he was confident of receiving the necessary two-thirds majority of the votes cast in getting Grenada to join Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana as the CARICOM countries that are full members of the CCJ.

But he said he would not as prime minister be initiating a third referendum on the CCJ. In 2016, Grenadians voted overwhelmingly to reject seven pieces of legislation, including that of the CCJ, which would have reformed the constitution the island received when it attained political independence from Britain 42 years ago.

They voted by a margin of 9,492 in favour with 12,434 against.

“I have said before…if this thing does not work then the opposition doesn’t have anything to celebrate. They may have a lot of questions to answer. That is my own personal position.

“History will also record who took what position when something of absolutely crucial to the life of the people of the country was in fact initiated and who did what.

“I am very clear in my conscience that I did the right thing that I firmly believe the CCJ is in fact the court that should be dealing with our final judicial system in the region and I have no doubt that history will prove me right,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell, who lead his New National Party (NNP) to a complete sweep of the 15 seats in the March 13 general elections this year,  said the opposition had engaged in “cheap propaganda” and had been able to confuse the voters ahead of the poll.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), which initially had supported the move to replace the Privy Council, had urged the population to vote “no” on Tuesday with the party’s interim leader, Joseph Andall, saying that the new position was taken  because members were not satisfied with the process.

“For example, two of the persons who were involved in drafting the Bill are members of the Advisory Committee, therefore they have a vested interest in defending and protecting the bill, it means there is no objectivity when it comes to a discussion regarding discrepancies, flaws or omission,” he said.

But Mitchell said everyone has a conscience and lamented the “hypocrisy” of some Grenadians on the whole issue.

“I am saying it again that I will not initiate another attempt at this issue as prime minister of the country. I hold very dearly to this particular position,” Mitchell said, adding that the future of the next generation is at stake.

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Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne -740

Prime Minister Browne disappointed at outcome of referendum on CCJ

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Nov 7, CMC – Prime Minister Gaston Browne has expressed his “utmost disappointment” at the failure of  his administration to get voters to support the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as Antigua and Barbuda’s final court.

In a referendum on Tuesday, the preliminary figures released by the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) showed that of the 17,743 votes counted, the “No” vote secured 9, 234 as against 8,509 for the “Yes” vote.

Antigua and Barbuda P M Gaston Browne

Antigua and Barbuda’s final court is the London-based Privy Council and the island had hoped to join Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana as the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that have so far made the CCJ their final court.

The CCJ also operates as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.

“We knew that getting 67 per cent of the votes was an extremely daunting task, practically un-achievable without the support of the main opposition party,’ Prime Minister Browne said.

“The support of the opposition was very important to mitigate against the natural inclination of electors to vote no in a referendum and this is a point that I raised during the initial consultation (on the CCJ) ,” he added.

But the leader of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), Harold Lovell said that the results of the referendum should be viewed as a personal assessment of Prime Minister Browne’ stewardship.

Harold Lovell

“This was really a referendum about the prime minister….In Antigua it was a referendum about Gaston Browne and he was not able to bring out not more than 8,000 people …even though they were talking about he is going to command his people to do this and do that”

Lovell said that of the 20,000 odd people who voted for the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) in the last general election held earlier this year, “only 8,000 came out and yet he is now blaming the United Progressive Party.

“Our position was take the politics out, let us build a coalition of people and listen to people and go forward with that approach. Cursing people,…calling people  backward, stupid, dunce that type of thing, that’s not how you build a successful coalition,” Lovell said.

He said the UPP would continue to support constitutional reform “and we believe this is a time when we must listen to what people are saying”.

But Prime Minister Browne told reporters that the opposition had succeeding in undermining the desire to replace the Privy Council accusing them of spreading lies and instilling fear in the population.

Browne said the results showed that “no one” won in the end.

“The outcome even though disappointing was not surprising. I am satisfied that my government discharged its responsibility by making the option available to the people of Antigua and Barbuda to make justice available to all at the Apex level and to bring our final court to the Caribbean.

“My biggest disappointment is the impact of this failure on future constitutional reforms. It is unlikely that my government will, in the circumstances and in the absence of political maturity and magnanimity pursue any further constitutional reform in the near future,” Browne said.

ABEC said that 33.5 per cent of the electorate voted in the referendum and that the “No” vote had secured 52.04 per cent with the “Yes” vote gathering 47.96 per cent.

The chairman of the National Coordinating Committee on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Ambassador Dr. Clarence Henry, said while he is disappointed in the results “the people have spoken and we accept the verdict.

“The result is a result that demonstrates democracy. The people have spoken and certainly we will need to reflect on the loss. However, I am of the firm conviction that as we move towards consolidation of the regional integration movement, our people whether in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada or Antigua, the greater appreciation of the institutions that we have created will become even more appreciated, celebrated in order for us to find our place in the global community.”

Henry told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that it is imperative for the region to “build our Caribbean institutions, no matter the struggles, no matter the challenges and no matter the defeats.

“Head of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), Peter Wickham, whose organisation had predicted that the “yes” vote would have received the necessary support to take the island into the CCJ, expressed disappointment at the outcome.

“I am not Antiguan but I am disappointed for Antigua and the rest of the Caribbean. I think this is an unfortunate result equally so because the same thing was replicated in Grenada (Tuesday) and I really do hope that in the future we can get back on track.

“But the most I can say is that I am disappointed. I think this is an opportunity for Antigua and Barbuda to have created history and to set a course of a circle of development and ultimately the population said no,” he added.

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Antiguans and Grenadians vote against replacing Privy Council

Antiguans and Grenadians vote against replacing Privy Council

Antigua and Barbuda vote in favour of staying with the Privy Council

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Nov 6, CMC – Antigua and Barbuda Tuesday voted in favour of retaining the London-based Privy Council as its final court, according to the preliminary figures released here.

The Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) said that of the 17,743 votes counted, the “No” vote secured 9, 234 as against 8,509 for the “Yes” vote.

Voters here had been casting ballots to decide whether to retain the Privy Council or instead move to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was established in 2001 to be the region’s final court.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne had hoped that Antigua and Barbuda would have joined Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana as the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to be full members of the CCJ that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty governing the 15-member CARICOM grouping.

“I have discharged my responsibility to make the option of transitioning from the Privy Council to the Caribbean Court of Justice available to the people of Antigua and Barbuda. I think it is a great opportunity for them.

“ I urge them to go out and vote “yes” …and in any event whatever the decision I will be guided accordingly, but as far as I am concerned I have delivered in the responsibility to make this very important option available to the people of Antigua and Barbuda,” Prime Minister Browne said, soon after casting his ballot on Tuesday.

But the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) has said it is not supportive of the move to replace the Privy Council and had urged supporters to vote their conscience.

ABEC said that 33.5 per cent of the electorate voted in the referendum and that the “No” vote had secured 52.04 per cent with the “Yes” vote gathering 47.96 per cent.

The chairman of the National Coordinating Committee on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Ambassador Dr. Clarence Henry, said while he is disappointed in the results “the people have spoken and we accept the verdict.

“The result is a result that demonstrates democracy. The people have spoken and certainly we will need to reflect on the loss. However, I am of the firm conviction that as we move towards consolidation of the regional integration movement, our people whether in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada or Antigua, the greater appreciation of the institutions that we have created will become even more appreciated, celebrated in order for us to find our place in the global community.”

Henry said it is imperative for the region to “build our Caribbean institutions, no matter the struggles, no matter the challenges and no matter the defeats.

“We must redouble our efforts at deeper and fuller education of our institutions and ;place them within the curriculum of our schools in the region,” he told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

Head of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), Peter Wickham, whose organisation had conducted an opinion poll and had predicted that the “yes” vote would have received the required support to take the island into the CCJ, expressed disappointment at the outcome.

“I am not Antiguan but I am disappointed for Antigua and the rest of the Caribbean. I think this is an unfortunate result equally so because the same thing was replicated in Grenada (today) and I really do hope that in the future we can get back on track.

“But the most I can say is that I am disappointed. I think this is an opportunity for Antigua and Barbuda to have created history and to set a course of a circle of development and ultimately the population said no,” he added.

Grenadians vote against replacing Privy Council

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Nov 6, CMC – Grenadians voted for a second time within a two year period, to reject efforts to replace the London-based Privy Council as the island’s highest court.

In a national referendum on Tuesday, the preliminary figures released by the Parliamentary Elections Office (PEO) show that the “No’ vote secured 12,133  as compared to 9,846  for those supporting the efforts to replacing the Privy Council with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that was established in 2001.

The CCJ also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement, CARICOM.

Grenadians voting in referendum (File Photo)

While most of the CARICOM countries are signatories to the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have signed on to the Appellate Jurisdiction.

The PEO said a total of 79,401 people were registered to vote in the referendum, where the voters were asked to either support or vote against the question “Do you approve the Bill for an Act proposing to alter the constitution of Grenada cited as Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and renaming of Supreme Court) (Amendment) Bill 2018?”

The country needed a two-thirds majority of the total number of ballots cast for it to join the CCJ.

In 2016, Grenadians voted overwhelmingly to reject seven pieces of legislation, including that of the CCJ, which would have reformed the constitution the island received when it attained political independence from Britain 42 years ago.

They voted by a margin of 9,492 in favour with 12,434 against.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, soon after casting his ballot told reporters that if the referendum fails, there will not be another attempt to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ under his leadership.

Mitchell had said he was “quietly confident” that the two-thirds majority would have been achieved in getting Grenada to join the CCJ.

“I really don’t have a problem with voices who say they want to say no but to concoct false stories to confuse people, for what I reason I don’t know,” he said, “this is not about party, this is about our children and grandchildren”.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), which initially had supported the move to replace the Privy Council, had urged the population to vote “no” on Tuesday with the party’s interim leader, Joseph Andall, saying that the new position was taken  because members were not satisfied with the process.

“For example, two of the persons who were involved in drafting the Bill are members of the Advisory Committee, therefore they have a vested interest in defending and protecting the bill, it means there is no objectivity when it comes to a discussion regarding discrepancies, flaws or omission,” he said.

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