Tag Archives: caribbean

COVID: Jamaica Opposition Blasts Govt. Plan to Vaccinate Only 16% in 2021

Jamaica’s Opposition Leader Mark Golding has labelled the Government’s plan to immunise 16 per cent of the population this year as “unsatisfactory”, arguing that the country’s flagging economic fortunes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic should provide sufficient impetus for it to make every effort to achieve herd immunity this year.

Golding’s comments came following the tabling of a National COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment and Vaccination Interim Plan by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton at Gordon House in downtown Kingston, yesterday.

Dr Tufton, in unveiling the plan which was approved by Cabinet on Monday, said Jamaica is committed to vaccinating 16 per cent of the population in phase 1 of a four-phase distribution strategy, and will receive 935,676 doses of the approved COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX Facility come April. That, he said, will cost the country some $3 billion.

“At the end of phase one Jamaica will acquire additional doses of the vaccines, based on locally relevant risk factors, vulnerabilities and the COVID-19 threat. The projection for the second phase is a further 16 per cent of the population,” the health minister said. A list of priority groups, he said, will be identified for the second phase. He said it is projected that in the second phase that vaccination will be offered to the general population.

Dr Tufton said 50 per cent of doses will be earmarked for priority groups and the other 50 per cent for the general population. He told the House that the procurement of the second phase of vaccines is expected to start in the last quarter of 2021, with second-phase vaccine distribution expected to begin in the second quarter of 2022.

The minister said at the end of the distribution of phase two vaccines, 32 per cent of the population will be vaccinated.

“Based on whether there is a continued threat, demand, cost and availability of vaccine, Jamaica will endeavour to enter into a third phase of vaccine procurement. A further 16 to 32 per cent of vaccines will be procured. Twenty-five per cent of this quantity will be reserved for priority groups and special populations that have not been previously vaccinated. The balance will then be made available to the general population,” he stated.

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As SV&G Corona Cases Spike, PM, in Denial, Declares Public Holidays

Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves again rejected the imposition of curfews, a state of emergency, and outright lockdown measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He, however, announced public holidays this coming Friday and Monday (January 22 and 25), saying the strain of the pandemic and the ongoing effusive eruption of the La Soufriere volcano is beginning to show on the faces of citizens.

“…. We perhaps need as a people to pause, to reflect, to act more assuredly in ways which are inclusive, in solidarity with each other, and to be engaged fully for the long haul ahead,” he said in a national address on Monday.

“These words, ‘pause’, ‘reflect’, ‘act’, ‘inclusive’, ‘solidarity’ and ‘engagement’, incidentally constitute an uplifting acronym – ‘praise’. That is a golden watchword.”

Since December 28, the number of COVID-19 cases recorded in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has increased about five-fold, reaching 494 on Monday.

Of those, 359 cases were detected among residents with no recent travel history, two of whom – 49-year-old Justina Pompey and an 80-year-old man whose name has not been released – have died. Both deceased are said to have had pre-existing conditions.

On Friday, the World Health Organization changed SVG’s COVID-19 status, saying the country was having community transmission of the virus. However, the government said on Monday that it had objected to this classification.

In his national address, Prime Minister Gonsalves said that experiences in other CARICOM nations and others globally suggest that states of emergencies, curfews and total lockdowns have not been nearly as effective in stemming the rise or spread of COVID-19.

“At the same time, real damage has been caused to lives and livelihoods by draconian measures, tight-as-a-drum lockdowns, or night-time curfews,” he said.

He said that other experiences elsewhere, including in St Vincent, have shown that “nuanced and targeted restrictions and regulations are no less effective”.

“But these nuanced and targeted restrictions and regulations must be properly policed,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security.

“So our government will not, at this time, even with a spike, order any state of emergency, lockdown or curfew.”

However, the Prime Minister said current restrictions and regulations will be tightened and managed more closely and, where necessary and desirable, his government will ramp up restrictions and controls.

CMC

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Dominican Republic Holds First National Chocolate Festival, Online

A historic first was recorded in The Dominican Republic, which recently held its debut National Chocolate Festival in Santo Domingo, celebrating some of the region’s finest artisan confectionery, reports Neill Barston.

For the inaugural Caribbean event, entrants could sign up for more than twenty online and in-person activities to learn about fourteen companies within the sector as part of its celebration of the industry.

The festival was topped off with an award ceremony for the first Dominican Chocolate Competition (pictured), in which participating chocolatiers entered a total of 40 chocolate samples in three categories: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and experimental chocolate. An official judging panel of domestic and international industry professionals and experts evaluated the chocolate.

There was also a public judging panel of 400 consumers, each of whom received five random chocolates to evaluate. The official panel awarded nine winning chocolates in the three categories according to physical appearance, mouthfeel, fragrance, flavour-aroma balance, global quality and global impression:

Milk chocolate

Gold: Milz Chocolat 50% cocoa with milk

Dark chocolate

Gold: ChocoPunto 70% cocoa

Silver: Milz Chocolat 70% cocoa

Bronze: ChocoPunto 78% cocoa

Experimental chocolate

Gold: Milz Chocolat 50% cocoa with milk and coffee

Silver: Definite Chocolate 57% cocoa with cashew milk and macadamia

Silver: KahKow Vestige 65% cocoa

Bronze: Choco Punto 78% unsweetened cocoa with cocoa nibs

The public panel highlighted the Dominican consumer’s palate. The People’s Choice award took the texture, flavours and overall impression of the sample into consideration and awarded the following:

Milk chocolate

Milz 50% cocoa

Dark chocolate

Milz 70% cocoa

Experimental chocolate

CONACADO 70% with dehydrated and candied tomato

As its organizers noted, the similarity between the public and professional panels’ evaluations showcased an impressive demand for artisan ranges within the region.

The Dominican Chocolate Festival and Dominican Chocolate Competition are initiatives of Exporting Quality, a USDA-funded program implemented in the Dominican Republic by IESC. The Dominican Republic is a global leader in the production and export of organic cocoa. Together, the festival and the competition promote the expression of the diversity of the aromas of Dominican fine cacao in chocolate and at the same time educate the domestic and international consumers about Dominican chocolate.

The Exporting Quality program created festival chocolate.do to organize the festival and now, serve as a reference portal for Dominican chocolate.

Visit festivalchocolate.do. for a complete list of winners

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Universal Periodic Review: UK Urges SKN to Continue Work on Human Rights

In a statement at a UN meeting on the 37th Universal Periodic Review, the United Kingdom welcomes St Kitts and Nevis’ engagement with the UPR process and its approach to human rights, noting the parliamentary elections which took place in June of this year and were assessed as free and fair by CARICOM’s election observers.

The UK welcomes the accession of St Kitts and Nevis to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and we urge St Kitts and Nevis to ensure its correctional system meets international human rights standards.

We recommend that St Kitts and Nevis: 1. Develop a national strategy or action plan to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 which calls for the eradication of forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030 and was agreed by all UN Member States in 2015. 2. Adopt an open, merit-based process when selecting national candidates for UN Treaty Body elections. 3. Enact comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation which will specifically prohibit discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identitiy.

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UK: PM Johnson Wins Vote Allowing Trade Deals with Genocidal Nations

Boris Johnson has narrowly won a vote to let the UK strike trade deals with countries that are committing genocide.

The prime minister failed to quell a substantial Tory rebellion over the issue – with 33 of his own backbenchers voting with Labour and other opposition parties.

But he managed by a slim margin to scrap the amendment to the Trade Bill added by the House of Lords, winning a division by 319 to 308.

The move is awkward timing for the government, coming hours after outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China‘s treatment of Muslims and ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region constitutes genocide.

Despite the amendment being defeated, former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith – one of the rebels – said he hoped peers would “ensure an improved amendment returns to the Commons”.

He added: “The willful ignorance of alleged genocide and grave human rights abuses in China and elsewhere must stop.

“We will not sell out our values for trade deals with genocidal states.”

Video has emerged purportedly showing Uighur prisoners bound and blindfolded at a train station in China
Image: Video has shown purportedly showing Uighur prisoners bound and blindfolded at a train station in China

Speaking in the Commons, Sir Ian added Uighurs and other victims of alleged genocide “have been denied justice for many many years” and face being pushed into slave labour and forced sterilisation.

“It’s quite clear to me – but I’m not able to say so – that this has all the hallmarks of a genocide.

“I’m not able to say so, because at the end of the day it’s for the courts to make that decision, it’s not for individual politicians to do so.”

Other senior Conservatives to rebel were former cabinet ministers David Davis and Damian Green.

Donald Trump with Mike Pompeo in April
Image: Mike Pompeo (right) said China was guilty of genocide

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Commons’ Defence Select Committee, explained why he was voting against the government, saying: “We are just crafting the definition of what global Britain means and this must be front and centre in what we stand for and what we believe.”

The amendment would have let the High Court decide a country that signed up to a trade deal with Britain had committed genocide under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – revoking the agreement.

During the debate, trade minister Greg Hands said he wanted “further discussions” with MPs on how to approach their concerns.

But he angered them by admitting he had not read a compromise amendment, which was tabled by Sir Iain and Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani and designed to avoid a rebellion by containing the thrust of proposals introduced by peers while easing government concerns.

Mr Hands said he will “have to have a look at the amendment” before Sir Iain replied that he had handed it to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and his team last Wednesday and added: “With respect, it’s not a case of will he have a look at it, he must have a view about it surely because it’s there.”

In the Commons last week, Mr Raab dismissed the amendment as “well-meaning” but also “rather ineffective and counter-productive”.

Analysis: Another showdown coming soon with potentially even more rebels
By Jon Craig, chief political correspondent

During the big Commons vote on genocide and trade with China, the burly, ruddy-faced figure of Mark Spencer, the government chief whip, sat slumped in his corner seat on the front bench looking worried.

And well he might. When his deputy, the affable Stuart Andrew showed him a piece of paper with the result, it revealed that the government – with a hefty Commons majority of 80, don’t forget – had scraped home by just 11 votes.

The reason: a bruising rebellion, including some big names and several former Cabinet ministers, that will ring alarm bells in Downing Street and the Foreign Office and means this row isn’t over.

After this narrow defeat, one of the leading rebels told Sky News: “We’ve got them just where we want them, a handful of votes short. It means the Lords will be emboldened to take on our amendment.”

So stand by for a repeat of this showdown in a few weeks’ time, when – potentially – the Tory rebellion could be even bigger and the Government could face the real prospect of a humiliating Commons defeat.

The scale of the rebellion also demonstrates that the so-called “China Hawks” on the Tory back benches are a powerful lobby in the Commons and the government may have to make significant concession to them.

This sizable rebellion also dwarfs the rebellion by just six Tory MPs 24 hours earlier on Universal Credit. It shows what issues Conservative backbenchers care about.

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‘Shameful’: US Virus Deaths top 400K as Trump Leaves Office

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Registered nurse Nikki Hollinger cleans up a room as a body of a COVID-19 victim lies in a body bag labeled with stickers at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has eclipsed 400,000 in the waning hours in office for President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

As President Donald Trump entered the final year of his term last January, the U.S. recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19. Not to worry, Trump insisted, his administration had the virus “totally under control.”

Now, in his final hours in office, after a year of presidential denials of reality and responsibility, the pandemic’s U.S. death toll has eclipsed 400,000. And the loss of lives is accelerating.

“This is just one step on an ominous path of fatalities,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and one of many public health experts who contend the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis led to thousands of avoidable deaths.

“Everything about how it’s been managed has been infused with incompetence and dishonesty, and we’re paying a heavy price,” he said.

The 400,000-death toll, reported Tuesday by Johns Hopkins University, is greater than the population of New Orleans, Cleveland or Tampa, Florida. It’s nearly equal to the number of American lives lost annually to strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, flu and pneumonia combined.

With more than 4,000 deaths recorded on some recent days — the most since the pandemic began — the toll by week’s end will probably surpass the number of Americans killed in World War II.

“We need to follow the science and the 400,000th death is shameful,” said Cliff Daniels, chief strategy officer for Methodist Hospital of Southern California, near Los Angeles. With its morgue full, the hospital has parked a refrigerated truck outside to hold the bodies of COVID-19 victims until funeral homes can retrieve them.

“It’s so incredibly, unimaginably sad that so many people have died that could have been avoided,” he said.

President-elect Joe Biden, who will be sworn in Wednesday, took part in an evening remembrance ceremony Tuesday near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. The 400,000 dead were represented by 400 lights placed around the reflecting pool. The bell at the Washington National Cathedral tolled 400 times.

Other cities around the U.S. planned tributes as well. The Empire State Building was lit in “heartbeat” red — the same lighting used last year as a show of support for emergency workers at the height of the virus surge in New York City. The red lights pulsed as a visual heartbeat. In Salt Lake City, the bells at the Utah Capitol were to ring 15 times in honor of the more than 1,500 lives lost to COVID-19 in the state.

The U.S. accounts for nearly 1 of every 5 virus deaths reported worldwide, far more than any other country despite its great wealth and medical resources.

The coronavirus would almost certainly have posed a grave crisis for any president given its rapid spread and power to kill, experts on public health and government said.

But Trump seemed to invest as much in battling public perceptions as he did in fighting the virus itself, repeatedly downplaying the threat and rejecting scientific expertise while fanning conflicts ignited by the outbreak.

As president he was singularly positioned to counsel Americans. Instead, he used his pulpit to spout theories — refuted by doctors — that taking unproven medicines or even injecting household disinfectant might save people from the virus.

“We grieve every single life lost to this pandemic, and thanks to the president’s leadership, Operation Warp Speed has led to the development of multiple safe and effective vaccines in record time, something many said would never happen,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere.

With deaths spiraling in the New York City area last spring, Trump declared “war” on the virus. But he was slow to invoke the Defense Production Act to secure desperately needed medical equipment. Then he sought to avoid responsibility for shortfalls, saying that the federal government was “merely a backup” for governors and legislatures.

“I think it is the first time in history that a president has declared a war and we have experienced a true national crisis and then dumped responsibility for it on the states,” said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care policy think tank.

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tried to issue guidelines for reopening in May, Trump administration officials held them up and watered them down. As the months passed, Trump claimed he was smarter than the scientists and belittled experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top authority on infectious diseases.

“Why would you bench the CDC, the greatest fighting force of infectious disease in the world? Why would you call Tony Fauci a disaster?” asked Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

As governors came under pressure to reopen state economies, Trump pushed them to move faster, asserting falsely that the virus was fading. “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” he tweeted in April as angry protesters gathered at the state Capitol to oppose the Democratic governor’s stay-at-home restrictions. “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”

In Republican-led states like Arizona that allowed businesses to reopen, hospitals and morgues filled with virus victims.

“It led to the tragically sharp partisan divide we’ve seen in the country on COVID, and that has fundamental implications for where we are now, because it means the Biden administration can’t start over,” Altman said. “They can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”

In early October, when Trump himself contracted COVID-19, he ignored safety protocols, ordering up a motorcade so he could wave to supporters outside his hospital. Once released, he appeared on the White House balcony to take off his mask for the cameras, making light of health officials’ pleas for people to cover their faces.

“We’re rounding the corner,” Trump said of the battle with the virus during a debate with Biden in late October. “It’s going away.”

It isn’t. U.S. deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 100,000 in late May, then tripled by mid-December. Experts at the University of Washington project deaths will reach nearly 567,000 by May 1.

More than 120,000 patients with the virus are in the hospital in the U.S., according to the COVID Tracking Project, twice the number who filled wards during previous peaks. On a single day last week, the U.S. recorded more than 4,400 deaths.

While vaccine research funded by the administration as part of Warp Speed has proved successful, the campaign trumpeted by the White House to rapidly distribute and administer millions of shots has fallen well short of the early goals officials set.

“Young people are dying, young people who have their whole lives ahead of them,” said Mawata Kamara, a nurse at California’s San Leandro Hospital who is furious over the surging COVID-19 cases that have overwhelmed health care workers. “We could have done so much more.”

Many voters considered the federal government’s response to the pandemic a key factor in their vote: 39% said it was the single most important factor, and they overwhelmingly backed Biden over Trump, according to AP VoteCast.

But millions of others stood with him.

“Here you have a pandemic,” said Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant, “yet you have a massive percent of the population that doesn’t believe it exists.”

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President Biden Takes On Huge Challenges

After his inauguration today (Jan20), President Joe Biden will take the reins of power amid huge challenges — and he will likely need some degree of cooperation from Republicans in order to address them.

The coronavirus pandemic is raging as badly as ever. The economy is beleaguered. And the nation itself is fractious and divided, as the Jan. 6 insurrectionary violence at the Capitol showed.

“There is no time to wait. We have to act and act now,” Biden said on Thursday, revealing his proposed $1.9 trillion plan for coronavirus relief.

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The Biden plan includes additional payments of up to $1,400 to many Americans as well as a total of $400 million aimed squarely at improving the vaccination process.

But those plans are being made at a time when up to 20,000 members of the National Guard are on their way to Washington to safeguard Biden’s inauguration, new COVID-19 cases are surging and new unemployment claims have risen about 25 percent within the past week alone.

Many in Biden’s party share his sense of urgency. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) said that the new president should be open to GOP cooperation — but should not hang around if it is not forthcoming.

“When push comes to shove, I think there will be several Republicans who will work with us in good faith,” Boyle said. “But the real lesson of President Obama’s first two years is: absolutely do not count on that or wait on it. If within a short period of time they are not interested, press ahead. Time is of the essence.”

Some Democrats are darkly wondering whether Biden faces an even more challenging landscape than Obama did when he took office in 2009.

At the start of Obama’s first term, the economy was imploding and the United States was enmeshed in two major wars.

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“Obviously, any incoming president faces challenges,” said Ohio-based Democratic strategist Jerry Austin. “But President Biden will be facing challenges nobody has ever faced before, whether it is the pandemic or succeeding Donald Trump or what happened” at the Capitol.

Yet even though the problems appeared monumental, Austin said one factor in their potential resolution lies in the relationship between two people: Biden and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

McConnell will lose his majority once the two new Democratic senators from Georgia are inaugurated. That will split the upper chamber 50-50. In the event of a tie, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be able to cast the deciding vote once she is inaugurated along with Biden on Wednesday.

The ability of Biden to address the nation’s problems will depend “maybe most of all on how he and Mitch McConnell either get along or don’t get along,” Austin said. “They know each other, they are not strangers, they have served together for a number of years.”

McConnell, a wily strategist, has not tipped his hand as to whether he hopes to work with Biden or provide staunch opposition to him. But his capacity to entirely thwart Biden, even if he wanted to do so, is limited.

There are at least a few GOP senators who are expected to show some openness to bipartisan action: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mitt Romney (Utah). In addition, McConnell’s loss of an outright majority undercuts his ability to use procedural measures to stall Biden’s legislative agenda.

“McConnell no longer has the sole ability to stop things from coming to the floor,” said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. “That alone is a big difference.”

Trippi also offered an optimistic take on Biden’s chances of breaking the Washington logjam.

The strategist asserted that “we haven’t had functional government for, like, 10 years,” citing McConnell’s oppositional approach to Obama after Republicans won the Senate majority in 2010 and then the tumult of President Trump’s tenure.

Trippi predicted it was likely that Biden’s COVID-19 package would pass because moderate Republicans would want to get on board. He also forecast that the left of the Democratic Party was unlikely to hold Biden’s feet to the fire in the early days of his first term, given the stakes involved — and the relief across the party about Trump’s ouster.

“The two issues that matter most are the health crisis and the economic crisis,” Trippi said. “You are going to see a very unified Democratic Party and real consequences for Republicans who are just saying no.”

Some Republicans express guarded optimism too. They see Biden as someone with whom they can do business — and as far more amenable to compromise than the left-wing rivals he defeated for his party’s presidential nomination, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

“Clearly he is the best person the Democrats could have nominated and got elected, when it comes to working in a bipartisan way,” said Doug Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee. “That is woven into his DNA.”

Still, Biden has one more complication to consider: his predecessor.

The timing of Trump’s Senate trial remains unclear after his second impeachment by the House last week. Biden has suggested the Senate may be able to “bifurcate” its business, so that it could spend half its working day on Trump’s trial and half on Biden’s nominees for office as well as other parts of his legislative agenda.

Even in that scenario, however, Trump will be able to seize at least some of the spotlight that a new president might otherwise expect to command.

Biden has chosen to largely avoid getting into high-profile tangles with Trump in recent weeks. Democrats know Trump is unlikely to fade off into the sunset — but they greet that prospect with a shrug of the shoulders.

“Trump will never make a voluntary exit. He will work like hell to stay out there and in the public eye in the most dramatic way he can,” said veteran Democratic ad-maker Bill Carrick. Senate trial or not, Carrick said, “I don’t think he was going to go away anyway.”

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Biden, who campaigned on the promise to restore “the soul of America,” is keeping up his hopeful demeanor.

“Out of all the peril of this moment, I want you to know I see all the promise as well,” he said as he introduced his COVID-19 plan last week. “I remain as optimistic about America as I have ever been.”

He will soon find out if his optimism is justified.

The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage.

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Trump Pardons Bannon, More than 100 Others

President Trump on Wednesday granted clemency to more than 100 people in one of his final acts as commander-in-chief, including his former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon.

Trump announced a wave of pardons and commutations shortly after midnight on Wednesday. Bannon, rapper Lil Wayne, GOP fundraiser Elliot Broidy and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick were among the notable figures to receive clemency, along with dozens of lower profile individuals whose cases were raised by criminal justice reform advocates.

Trump granted clemency to 143 individuals in total, just hours before leaving office: 73 received pardons, while 70 were granted commutations.

The Bannon pardon was perhaps the most surprising of the batch, given the former Breitbart News editor had a high-profile falling out with the Trump family after denigrating Donald Trump Jr. in Michael Wolff’s 2018 book, “Fire and Fury.”

“Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in announcing Bannon’s pardon.

Bannon was a top adviser on Trump’s 2016 campaign and served as the chief White House strategist for roughly seven months. He was arrested and charged last August with defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors who contributed to a fundraising campaign for a private border wall.

The president reportedly went back and forth over whether to grant clemency to Bannon before deciding to do so.

Trump, who had branded Bannon as “sloppy Steve” upon the release of Wolff’s book, distanced himself from his former adviser upon news of the charges.

“I don’t like that project. I thought it was being done for showboating reasons,” Trump said at the time. “It was something that I very much felt was inappropriate to be doing.”

Trump also pardoned Broidy, a former top Republican National Committee (RNC) fundraiser, who was charged last year with conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent as part of a back channel effort to lobby the Justice Department.

Kilpatrick, the former Democratic mayor of Detroit, was convicted in 2008 of perjury and obstruction of justice.

And Lil Wayne faces prison time after pleading guilty to federal gun charges. The rapper, whose birth name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., met with Trump on the campaign trail in a meeting the campaign later touted as it courted Black voters.

Trump also commuted the sentence of Bill Kapri, better known as the rapper Kodak Black, who sentenced to 46 months in prison for making a false statement on a federal document. He had served less than half of his sentence.

The president issued pardons to several individuals who were charged with non-violent drug offenses, including Tena Logan, MaryAnne Locke and Caroline Yeats and. Alice Johnson, who Trump pardoned and who became a face of the White House’s criminal justice reform efforts, advocated for several of the individuals granted clemency on Wednesday.

Johnson was among those who advocated for clemency for Kilpatrick as well.

Trump has come under scrutiny for favoring political allies and well connected individuals in doling out pardons and commutations. Past recipients of clemency include ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, longtime Trump associate Roger Stone and ex-Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Following his election loss, Trump issued two sizable patches of pardons last month, including those for ex-Republican lawmakers Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter; his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort; longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone; and Charles Kushner, his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s father. He also pardoned Michael Flynn, his onetime national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

There had been much speculation leading up to Tuesday’s announcement about who Trump would ultimately choose to grant clemency in his waning hours as president. Some Republicans had pushed for Trump to pardon WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or former National Security Agency official Edward Snowden, but neither was given clemency.

Presidents typically issue a flurry of pardons or commutations in their final day in office. There was speculation in recent weeks that Trump would move to preemptively pardon himself or his adult children to shield them from federal charges after leaving office. Trump opted against doing so, though he still faces a Senate impeachment trial in the coming weeks and the prospect of state investigations.

Trump is slated to leave Washington, D.C., Wednesday morning, foregoing the usual practice of attending the incoming president’s inauguration. Trump will be sent off with a ceremony at Joint Base Andrews outside the district. Meanwhile, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States around noon during a pared-down ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.

Morgan Chalfant contributed

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Caribbean Development Bank elects Dr. Gene Leon president

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Dr. Hyginius ‘Gene’ Leon has been elected president of the Caribbean Development Bank by the institution’s board of governors. He will take office on May 1.
Leon succeeds Dr. William Warren Smith, who has been at the helm of the regional financial institution for the last 10 years.

Dr. Leon has more than 30 years of experience in economic development and has directed macroeconomic and financial policy support to government authorities in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia and the Caribbean. He has worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for more than 24 years, serving as Mission Chief for the Gulf States of Oman, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates as well as The Bahamas, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. He also served as the IMF’s Senior Resident Representative in Jamaica.

Prior to his engagement with the IMF, Dr. Leon was an Associate Professor at State University of New York at Old Westbury in the United States. He has also served as Director of Research at the Central Bank of Barbados and Country Economist at CDB.

Dr. Leon holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Economics from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom (UK) and a Bachelor of Science Degree (B.Sc.) in Economics from the University of London also in the U.K.

Commenting on his appointment, Dr. Leon said:
“I am deeply honoured by the trust that the Board of Governors has demonstrated in my experience and ability. The CDB remains an instrumental partner in regional development. I look forward to working with all Member States and a tremendous staff with zeal and unrelenting commitment.”

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