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TCI Country Leaders condemn vicious memes

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#TurksandCaicosIslands – February 12, 2019 – The Church in the Turks and Caicos is among those today condemning the divide and conquer tactics being employed ahead of the 2020 General Elections and is calling on islanders engaged in the vicious memes to “stop it now.”

“The Bible admonishes us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. These videos and other messages on social media are signs of hatred and jealousy. The Christian Council condemns such acts and urges persons to desist from this negative behavior,” said the Christian Council in a media statement.

Magnetic Media had requested a statement from the Council and others on the hurtful memes which are becoming increasingly cruel and dangerously defamatory with each new one created.  A meme is defined as: ‘a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.’

Social media memes have now become an infamous way for people to attack leaders and other public personalities, anonymously.  Some residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands are taking full advantage of expressing their innermost thoughts, and no one is exempt.

One resident suggested, “Let Miami forensics find out who is creating and distributing these videos.  They have the expertise and the equipment.  It is the lowest, lowest, low… this has got to stop.”

It was a meme released last week, amidst the interest in the leadership race of the Opposition, Progressive National Party, (PNP) which sparked this reaction for the Grand Turk resident. 

The video used a popular scene from the 2004 German film, Downfall; which is an historical drama about the final days of Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Nazi Germany.   

In the Turks and Caicos, the crudeness is escalating to potentially criminal heights.   According to the Turks and Caicos Bar Council, the nation has the legal framework to protect citizens and residents from libel, which are untrue or erroneous statements written in the public domain.

The Turks and Caicos Bar Council informed that: “…one may be pursued in Court for Defamation– more specifically, Libel for written publications (e.g. articles written on social media) and Slander for spoken words of a defamatory nature.  A person adversely affected by the publishing of false information that causes damage to their reputation may seek redress…”

Redress can be a retraction and apology, an injunction to stop the guilty party publishing the unsubstantiated deprecating statements or the victim can sue for damages.

Rights of individuals are protected in the Turks and Caicos, informed the Bar Council, under the Obscene Publications Ordinance.

“…which prohibits persons from producing and or distributing subject matters that is deemed obscene by right thinking members of the community. If found liable, under this Ordinance, a person is subject to a $5,000.00 fine, 6 months’ imprisonment or both.”

Beyond the societal repercussions, the Christian Council reminded that there are spiritual ones too.

“These messages are killing, stealing and destroying the joy and reputation of others. Remember a house divided against itself cannot stand. Appreciate the political differences of others and if you do not support them then do not vote for them. There is no need for this mudslinging. Remember at end of the day it is our own we are destroying. Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”

The Church is vowing not to sit by and allow this ugliness to spread.

Political attacks have been most pronounced against two leading ladies in the country – Hon Sharlene Robinson, Premier and Hon Josephine Connolly, second All Island member of the House of Assembly. 

Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. Connolly were the two most voted for all island candidates in the 2016 General Elections and so their fall out – politically – was epic for the Turks and Caicos Islands.  While the break-up of the first Cabinet of the Sharlene Robinson-led PDM Administration is 20-months old, a war of words and videos has raged on.

Hon Connolly, who eventually withdrew from the PDM party has since February 3, 2019 announced that she will join the Opposition PNP. 

In a statement to Magnetic Media, Mrs. Connolly rejected the accusations levelled at her, “I have no agenda except for the success of this country and the people who live here. I have nothing but love and respect for the Hon Washington Misick and the Hon Akierra Misick. They are both resourceful and effective politicians who have given a lot for their country and their party and I have nothing but admiration for the work they have done and are doing.”

Connolly, who is a wife, mother of two and successful business woman surmised: “…if our political process is to be elevated from the taunts of the playground, that we as a people need to say no to those who want to pollute the process and drag down fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders. There are more sensible, God fearing and supportive Turks and Caicos Islanders than there are these political character assassins.”

Also a wife, mother of two and pioneering female figure, Sharlene Robinson shared comments which she has made before to denounce the nasty memes, even if those messages may be in defence of her political career.

“I know that my record can stand for me. This behavior is driven by pure hate and that is truly not who we are as a people.  Too many people do not understand that we are on a world stage and we are painting ourselves in the worst light. I encourage persons to use these talents and time for good: Build up and not pull down. Use your preferred politician’s record to promote them as it is a disservice to them to participate in such trash in promotion of them.”

Robinson, like others has seen the sinister attacks cross the line, “Over the years, my children, my husband and my Church have been the subject of nasty attacks all because I have made the choice to serve in the political arena.”

PDM Party Chairman, Douglas Parnell said his party condemns the messages and recommends a few items more worthy of focus, “The Government and especially our Premier and all members of our party have been vilified and personally attacked with nasty and vicious rumors and smear campaigns over the years and we cannot stress how distasteful and distracting these tactics can be to the real issues that need to be addressed in this country.” 

Meanwhile, the European Union is seeking to institute copyright protections which would make it illegal to use uploaded information likes photographs and videos; essentially, memes would be banned if the EU gets its way.

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

Crime

Warning! Pedophile loose in Provo; Hunt on for child sex stalker

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

#TurksandCaicos, May 11, 2022 – A man, posing as a jitney driver, has sexually assaulted a school girl and now warnings are issued and police are on the hunt for the pedophile.

The information from the Royal TCI Police has been a double shocker; firstly because a letter was leaked exposing that officials were aware of the situation but there had not been more urgent notice the public and because the suspect is among us and is still at large.

The leaked communication was dated May 12, 2022.  It came from woman police, Irene Butterfield, Assistant Superintendent of the Royal TCI Police and was issued to Edgar Howell, the Director of Education for the Ministry of Education.

On Friday, that notice was shared with parents in English, Creole and Spanish.  It was leaked the day prior.

From the Police issued WARNING:  “The Safeguarding and Public Protection Unit is actively investigating a report of an unknown male who is operating what appears to be an illegal jitney.  H e picked up a school girl and subjected her to a sexual attack.  The victim is now safe and being cared for.  We are seeking the assistance of families and communities in disseminating this information that is of vital importance to both government and private schools to put measures in place for the safety of children after school.  Parents and guardians are asked to be aware and take precautions and make provisions for their children to be collected safely from schools by someone who is trusted and to desist from allowing their child / children to ride home in illegal jitneys.”

The original letter said the “Safeguarding and Public Protection Unit is actively investigating a report of an unknown male, ‘pedophile’ who is operating what can be an illegal jitney and frequents schools, picking up children and committing sexual acts.”

The Police was asking the Education Department to disseminate the information to all public and private schools so that parents were put on the alert.

While the letter is dated May 12, which was on Thursday, what  the public does not know is how long ago this investigation was opened; how many children would have been sexually assaulted and how intrusive were those attacks.

On Friday, the Royal TCI Police issued a statement and its contents lent more insight, but were extremely disturbing as the public now has official notice that a girl was sexually assaulted and it seems the attack was enormously traumatizing.

The victim is now safe and cared for says the Safeguarding unit and the male is unknown and was operating a jitney when the unsuspecting child climbed into the vehicle for what now can only be called a ride from hell.

“Se les pide a los padres y tutores que sean conscientes y tomen precauciones y hagan provisiones para que sus hijos sean recogidos de manera segura de las escuelas por alguien de confianza y que desistan de permitir que sus hijos viajen a casa en taxi colectivo ilegales. También se les pide a los padres y tutores que escuchen a sus hijos y les enseñen a no guardar secretos inseguros.”

This is the warning in Spanish and it also asks parents to ensure their children are not keeping secrets about what may have happened to them.

Make sure whoever is around your child, says the release, is a trusted person and to desist from allowing your children from riding in illegal jitneys.  You get in the tone of the statement, it is simply not worth the heartache and damage which can be done.  Specially trained officers are on standby to deal with these cases, when they present themselves and this includes confidentiality.

Sadly, in the absence of proper or sufficient legal public transportation, illegal jitneys, which are manned by unregistered and unknown individuals are a customary go to for thousands of residents who need to get around the island.  These jitneys are an illegal mode of public transport, but they operate unencumbered.  Legal community cabs are now in service, but the sector is slow growing, unable to meet the current transportation demands.

“Nou mande paran ak ak moun ki responsab yo tou pou koute pitit ou yo epi anseye yo pou yo pa kenbe sekrè ki pa an sekirite. Pifò abizè kiltive relasyon solid ak timoun yo anvan yo pwogrese pa yon ofans seksyèl. Souvan, yo kòmanse teste limit yon timoun lè yo aji nan yon fason ki pa apwopriye avèk yo tankou achte kado pou yo, ba yo lajan epi fè yo santi yo espesyal. Paran ak moun ki responsab yo ta dwe fè atansyon ak siy sa yo epi avèti lapolis. Inite Sovgad RTCIPF la gen ofisye ki resevwa fòmasyon espesyal ki pral trete nenpòt rapò avèk anpil konfyans. Yo pral koute w epi sipòte moun ki pi vilnerab yo.”

The largest portion of the expatriate community in Turks and Caicos is of Haitian origin; the warning in Creole calls for better stewardship of children even as parents try to get them to school and while there was no information provided on the perpetrator, there were numbers provided to contact the Unit.

Contact 232-6696 or 338-4013. 

“Parents and guardians are also asked to listen to your children and teach them not to keep unsafe secrets. Most abusers cultivate strong relationships with children before progressing to sexual offences. Often, they start by testing a child’s boundaries by being inappropriate in other ways such as buying them gifts, giving them money and making them feel special. Parents and guardians should look out for these signs and alert the police. The RTCIPF Safeguarding Unit has specially trained officers who will deal with any reports in strict confidence. They will listen to you and support those most vulnerable.”

Schools have now posted and issued the warnings to parents.

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Bahamas News

WHO says COVID deaths THREE TIMES higher

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

May 14, 2022 – Weeks ago the world marked an awful milestone 6 million COVID-19 deaths now the WHO says the real number may be almost three times higher.

In a recent press release the organization said new estimates from its data show that the full death toll or excess mortality associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 was approximately 14.9 million but might be as high as 16.6 million.

The organization explained that,  “Excess mortality is calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would be expected in the absence of the pandemic based on data from earlier years.”

Basically the excess mortality rate tells us how many people will be alive were it not for COVID. It is important to know what that figures including spikes associated with omicron are not included in this data set so the number could very well be higher.

“These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director of the organization.

South-east Asia and the Americas were the worst hit by the pandemic in terms of death toll.

WHO data shows 20 countries, containing approximately 50% of the global population, account for over 80% of the estimated global excess mortality for the January 2020 to December 2021 period.

These countries are: Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, the Russian Federation, South Africa, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States of America (USA).

 

WHO COVID DEATHS Photo caption:  File photo in Jakarta;  at a time when there were fears about running out of space to bury its dead.

(Supplied: Arbain Rambey)

 

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News

TCI Opposition Leader ‘Missed’ A lot; Leader of Government Business delivers Roasting Rebuttal during Budget Debate

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#TurksandCaicos, May 14, 2022 – With so many pages in a mammoth sized document which captures all of the national spending for the upcoming fiscal year, it is possible that the Leader of the Opposition missed important allocations.

When Edwin Astwood, Leader of the Opposition PDM stood to respond to the Budget Communication delivered on Tuesday May 3, he blasted the government for a number of areas he claimed was underfunded.

Akierra Missick, who is the Government’s Lead in the House of Assembly, rebutted his remarks and accusations as untrue and pointed to a lack of research and thorough examination of the Budget on Astwood’s part.

“Some amazing comments were shared by my colleague opposite, the Leader of the Opposition …he knows some facts need to be cleared up,” said Hon Akierra Misick, who is the Minister for Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development and the Member for the Long Bay and Leeward District of Providenciales.

During his submission on the Budget, there were harsh words about insufficient funding to the Royal TCI Police, however, the Minister said the statement is untrue.

“I heard the Police Commissioner himself say it during the Appropriations Committee, he has presented a Budget is accepted and adopted by the Executive, by the Budget Department, by the Ministry of Finance.  Of course there will always be a scope for increased funding in every single budget, in every single department but there must be a balance and National Security is a priority of this Administration and it is reflected in our budget because you would note, in the Budget Book the Police force funding for last financial year was $27 million this year it is increased to $31.5 million, which is an increase of $3.6 million.

So to say that that is not us putting our money where our mouth is just plain untrue,” said the Minister who defended spending on national and border security.

She also pointed out that the Opposition Leader must have missed the announcement of at least three new vessels.

“In the capitals projects pages he would note that there is a vessel for national security, secretariat alone; in the police budget he would note that there is a vessel for the police. In the DECR budget, there is a vessel for the DECR and maybe he missed it in the Capital Projects pages which shows that the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK Government is investing $1 million in the DECR equipment and resources to assist us in protecting our borders.”

She assured there is allocation for CCTV cameras and a whopping 229 percent increase in training for Police officers.

“Their increase in the training alone shows that we are pouring our time and energy into the resources of the police force to assist us in our national security goals. On the heels of that, my brother colleague must have missed that under the Border Force initiative, again contained in our Budget, we are installing two radar stations one in the North West Point area, one in the Leeward Long Bay area; again to assist with meeting our national security goals and needs.”

In respect of Edwin Astwood’s strong remarks on the infrastructural projects or lack thereof across constituencies, she said contrary to his statement work was being done in the constituencies citing the bridge in Salt Cay and, the dump in Wheeland and other projects in Blue Hills, Leeward and Long Bay.

An improvement identified by the minister, ‘street lighting.’

“I know it’s a big book.  I know the Appropriations Committee did the best that they could in the time that they had, so I’m not going to say that my colleague would have intentionally overlooked these vessels in the Budget Book during his presentation but as one who believes in consensus building and building bridges – like I did in Salt Cay, which I will talk about a little later on, ‘cause my brother doesn’t seem to have visited that part of his constituency in the last few weeks to see the work happening in Salt Cay- I’m here to build bridges and let you know we are putting our money, our energy and our time into national security, into police force training, into upgrades.”

She said her ministry was “co-sponsoring” on the construction of a law enforcement recruitment and training center, to the tune of $2 million and she reminded the LOO about several moratoriums to prioritize TCI Islanders’ employment opportunities.

“On the heels of genuine concerns that we would have had about Turks and Caicos Islander businesses having a true opportunity to bid for these larger scale construction works under the large contractors’ business license, the Ministry of Finance took the position that we would freeze large construction licenses that did not have a TC Islander majority ownership in them.

This provides us as Islanders another opportunity for us to get our affairs in order and be the movers and shakers and the builders of the bigger projects in these islands.”

Misick told the Speaker of the $2.3 million investment into smaller contractors and the ministry is seeking to incentivize the hiring of more Turks and Caicos Islanders in the construction industry.

Citing the support to entrepreneurs, the coming review to support livable wages and the cumulative millions directly to TCI homes through her government’s initiatives, Misick said these are a reflection that the Budget is “people centered.”

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