News from Anguilla
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Speaking of which, we had a few observations/protests concerning issue #8, which is re-assuring because it means that this is being read and that everyone is paying attention;-) . So Ill guess well call this section:
For one thing, the Police Station referred to last week was not designed by David Kenworthy but by David Brazier/International Architects Design Group.
Another reader protested that everything came in as underlined font (I thought that had been sorted out before sending out, so apologies all round). All I can say was that it was before dawn, on a Sunday, when everything was being composed! Well try doing everything as plain text as a trial (so you have the option to reformat it at your end a good exercise in creativity on your part!). My involvement will be limited to putting section heads in capitals.
An interesting comment came in on the IRS: "There is no hope at all of any legal challenge succeeding on USA territory, regardless of merit. Where there is hope is in offshore forums and international courts, where a body that has no interest in continuation of the status quo in the USA can consider whether a particular claim (say, for extradition of an accused tax evader) is consistent with the petitioning country's own laws. That's when the scholarship of the people who proved that the 26th [should read 16th] Amendment was never ratified could come in handy. "The IRS and the income tax are mostly a fraud - but they are an immensely successful fraud, which I have lost thousands of dollars and much sleep trying to overcome".
On the developments in banking in Anguilla, we
Well, I e-mailed NBA, Scotia and CCB for their comments on this. To date a reply has only come in from Scotia (Ill send a reminder off to the others so hopefully well have something from them to report next time).
Scotias media release, datelined Anguilla, 29 February, 2000, reads: "Scotiabank is making it possible for millions of visitors to get cash from any of the 225 ABMs located across the Caribbean region. So far, the bank has hooked up its bank machines in 13 Caribbean countries to the global networks, Mastercard and VISA International. Three more are underway and it is anticipated that Scotiabank Anguilla will be connected before August 2000. "This represents a significant enhancement to Scotiabanks ABM program", concludes Walter MacCalman, Managing Director Scotiabank Anguilla Limited. "Not only does this capability improve the functionality of our ABMs, but it also allows us to provide greater accessibility for our customers and this of banks from around the world".
A couple of things to note, here. One is that the banks will have to compare the service enhancement and customer satisfaction aspects with the significant cost of setting up such a system; there will be, undoubtedly, a point at which these curves or factors will intersect; however, as the cost of transferring data comes down (e.g. by using fibre optics/satellite links) and the quality goes up, such concepts do become reality and so there is no reason to suppose that Scotiabank Anguilla will not have this in place before August 2000. The other is that customers can make cash advances on their cards at Scotiabanks counters, anyway.
LATEST NEWS FROM ANGUILLA....
Has of course been dominated by the election held on 3 March. The intensity of the campaigning over the final few days did not translate into a high voter turn-out. On the contrary, there were fewer votes cast this time, despite a one-seventh increase in the electoral roll. Usually there would be queues outside the polling stations, but they were not so much in evidence this time around. To be sure, there was an influx of Anguillians who also live overseas during the week, but this did not seem to be to the same extent as before; in some cases it is rumoured that these travel costs are taken care of by candidates and, were this true, it could be suggested that the 365 days since the last election was too short a period for the candidates to replenish their war chests. Quite a few Anguillians also chose not to vote, arguing that their vote would not make any difference, while others were just plain cynical of the political process in Anguilla over the last year. This "none of the above" aspect on the part of almost 36% of the electorate is a damning indictment of the political malaise on Anguilla over the past few months. Apathy was particularly triumphant in Valley North where incumbent Eric Reid won by a landslide of votes cast. As is often the case, no one successful candidate can claim to have received the support of the majority of registered voters in his constituency. Here are the details:
Anguilla Election Results, 3 March 2000
District 1, Island Harbour
District 2, East End
District 3, Valley North
District 4, Valley South
District 5, Road North
District 6, Road South
District 7, West End
All-Anguilla Total Eligible Voters 7522 (6578).
United Front -ANA/ADP 2233 (ANA 2053; ADP Banks, Rogers 973; Total
3026), or 46.3% (62.4%)
Part of the problem of comparing the March 2000 elections with those held a year earlier was the re-alignment of parties and groupings during the year. Readers familiar with U.K elections will immediately have noticed a "swing", across the island, away from the incumbent Government of Messrs. Baird and Hughes x 2. In each of their 3 constituencies, they polled fewer votes in 2000 than in 1999, while their (sole) opponents picked up votes. This despite an increase in voters registered in the districts. Members of the outgoing opposition were up against 2 contestants in each of their 4 seats. All of these incumbents increased their number of votes, although in some cases the percentage turnout was markedly less.The vote-by-vote announcement of the result in Road North was a particular nail-biter. At one point Eddie Baird was ahead by about 25, but towards the end Rhona Richardson caught him up and then even took a lead of about 10 for herself. Rumour has it (so don t quote me) that a few minutes before the polls closed Eddie, realising how close it could be, drove off and came back with a family of 4 who had not voted. Must have been a few antacids popped that day! As they did not poll the required percentage of votes, Margaret Augustus and John Benjamin will forfeit their EC$1000 deposits. The new Government, being sworn in on Monday the 6th, at 9.30 a.m., consists: Osbourne Fleming (Chief Minister, etc.); Victor Banks (Minister of Finance, etc.); Eric Reid (Minister of Social Services Health, Education, etc.) and Kenneth Harrigan (Minister of Public Works, etc.). Assuming that they stay the course for the next 5 years, it would be my (rash) prediction that other things being equal and looking at the trends of 1999/2000 the political stars of Hubert Hughes and Edison Baird may well be eclipsed in 2005.
An interesting appeal was made by former political leader and Speaker of The Assembly Atlin Harrigan, in a letter to "The Anguillian". He observed that the last thing that Anguilla needed now was another coalition. Yet any vote for anything but the United Front would result in such a coalition. He noted that the Front was a coalition of sorts, but implied it was far better structured and thought-out than any possible alternative.
As mentioned and prophesised/hypothesised in a previous issue, this has resulted in 100% of the members of the Legislative Assembly being returned by the electorate. Yet this has automatically translated into a radical change of Government. This is unusual, by any standards in any democracy. I d be grateful if any reader were able to contact the Guinness Book of Records (or similar) to get this oddity registered.
Again, going back to a previous prophetic issue, Monday has been declared a holiday (so overseas readers should not expect any service on Anguilla that day); meantime we await the rest of the predictions coming true such as the customary announcement by the new Minister of Finance that the countrys finances are in a far worse state than had ever been thought possible, the convening of the House of Assembly (theres a novelty!); and hopefully the general tarting up and gentrification of the island prior to the visit of HRH Prince Andrew from 14-16 March (well look at this next issue).
The first of the world-wide qualifying matches in preparation for the (soccer) World Cup took place on Sunday, 5 March. Its a long way from there to Japan and South Korea in the summer of 2002. Anguilla, which has the distinction of having been anchored at the foot of the FIFA rankings ever since it was admitted as a member under the zeal of former Fulham defender Les Strong, about 10 years ago (and I dont think that Anguilla has ever won a FIFA recognised match in all of that time), hosted The Bahamas at the Ronald Webster Park that afternoon; although due to global time-zone vagaries it may not have been the first result to be reported, it would surely qualify as the premier result from an alphabetical-listing perspective! The final scoreline was Anguilla 1-3 The Bahamas, but this flatters the victors - the scoreline would have been much closer but for an excellent performance by The Bahamas' goalkeeper. Bahamas first goal was quite remarkable; the Anguilla goalkeeper was way out of position and a speculative shot from mid-field found the net, David Beckham style. Bahamas had raced to a 3-0 half-time lead as a result of two direct free kicks from just outside the penalty area and a combination of badly arranged defensive walls/goalkeeper. Anguilla scored from a penalty midway in the second half. The return match is in The Bahamas on 19 March. After that Anguilla play in Haiti and then at home to Montserrat.
CLIPPINGS FROM MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS
The following material is courtesy of "The Guardian Weekly" issue of 2-March-2000, page 28 (which also holds the Copyright) please contact them for subscriptions:
U.S. reels as WTO rules tax breaks illegal by John Burgess
The final ruling against the breaks by the World Trade Organization, announced in Geneva, could be the most important loss the United States has suffered in a trade dispute. Canceling the tax break would cut jobs and profits at exporters, said trade officials, who are seeking a negotiated settlement.
"However this comes out," said Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart Eizenstat, "we have to make sure we have not put our exporting companies at a competitive disadvantage."
Under consideration are inducements, such as tariff reductions, that might make Europe amenable to a settlement. Federal officials are studying the option of filing counterclaims against Europe, and they are working to get support from European companies whose U.S. subsidiaries benefit from the export credits. U.S. officials are seeking an early meeting with European counterparts.
"This is a case with a big economic impact on the United States," said John Richardson, deputy chief of the European Union's Washington mission. "We're aware of the waves it's creating on this side of the Atlantic." The WTO decision set off immediate protests on Capitol Hill. Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth Jr. (R-Delaware) said it "ignored economic reality." Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the panel's subcommittee on international trade, said the decision would complicate a vote due later this year in Congress on whether the United States should remain in the WTO. "It comes at a very bad time," Grassley said. "For a lot of people, the WTO is a questionable institution."
Comment: This has to be seen in perspective of the various disputes between the US and the EU, including such matters as the issue of banana quotas from the West Indies, who are up against the successful lobbying of The White House (and thence the WTO) by Del Monte and Chiquita. It also puts into sharp focus the U.S. supported initiative by the supra-national bodies such as the OECD and their attempts to control/close down various so-called "tax havens". The moral of the story: "Do as I say, not as I do". Double-standards and hypocrisy, anyone?
Next item same source, same issue page 4
France angry over report of US-British spy network by Richard Norton-Taylor and David Gow
The publication of a highly provocative report by the European Parliament has brought to a head concerns about a worldwide eavesdropping network dominated by the United States and Britain.
The report - by the parliament's justice committee - says that the network, code-named Echelon, infringes rights to privacy. It coincides with a number of European investigations charging the US with industrial espionage and increasing French distrust of the close intelligence cooperation between "Anglo-Saxon" nations.
The parliamentary report claims that the Echelon network is capable of listening in on "billions of messages per hour" - including telephone calls, fax transmissions and private emails - and intercepts sensitive Europe-wide commercial communications. The existence of the Echelon network was confirmed recently by an official US government document published on the internet. Last week Duncan Campbell, the British journalist who helped compile the report, told the committee it was run by the US national security agency (NSA) with Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
The report describes a number of cases in which US companies allegedly won contracts destined for European firms after NSA intercepted conversations. The Airbus consortium and Thomson CSF of France were among the reported losers. A former NSA agent, Wayne Madsen, told Australian television last year that the US used information gathered from its base in Australia to win a half-share of a significant Indonesian trade contract for AT&T, which intercepts showed was initially going to NRC of Japan.
Meanwhile in a 100-page report submitted recently to the French defence ministry's strategic intelligence arm, DAS, the software giant Microsoft is accused of colluding with the US intelligence services to spy on foreign businesses, amid suspicions that the company planted "back door' spy holes in its MS-DOS operating system and Windows software.
According to Le Figaro, the spying devices would enable the NSA to penetrate a company's networks and read top-secret documents. Microsoft said it had never, in France or any other country, installed a system allowing the NSA or other US government agencies to decode encrypted data coming from a computer equipped with Windows. Lawsuits against Britain and the US for their role in Echelon have been lodged in France, and parliamentary inquiries are under way in Italy and Germany. In the US a congressional investigation into Echelon's implications for privacy rights begins later this year.
Last week the Foreign Office said British intelligence services worked "entirely within the law". This allowed interception in the interests of Britain's "economic well-being" as well as to protect national security. A spokeswoman added: "We do not engage in bulk surveillance."
And heres an Editorial on the matter, from "Le Monde", taken from the same publication, page 25
The end of the cold war has not put an end to espionage any more than it has caused John Le Carre's inspiration to dry up. That may be a good thing for literature, but it is much more regrettable when it comes to relations between so-called "allies".
While the espionage business continues to thrive, its remit has changed. It now focuses on gathering not only military intelligence, but also - and perhaps above all - information about a country's economy, finance and hi-tech capabilities. This has naturally caused tensions between "allies". If the report to which the European Parliament devoted two days of hearings this week in Brussels is to be believed - and there are good reasons for doing so - the United States is guilty of having seriously abused its dominant position.
It has turned its worldwide espionage network, set up to counter the Soviet Union during the cold war, into an electronic eavesdropping system that is exploited by US industry. The instrument, known as Echelon, uses 120 satellites within the terms of an agreement between the US, Australia, Britain Canada and New Zealand. It is a powerful system that can intercept, listen in on and decipher telephone calls, fax transmissions and private emails exchanged all over the world by governments, businesses and individuals. The system's controlling body is one of the two main US intelligence agencies, the National Security Agency (NSA), which employs 38,000 people and has a budget of $4bn. Of course Echelon is used in the fight against drugs, organised crime, terrorism and so on. But in areas such as hi-tech and defence, says the EP report, it also provides US industry with information pirated from its European competitors, which can help it to snatch contracts from under their noses.
It will be argued that the Europeans are themselves no strangers to industrial espionage. But the problem is that no single European Union country possesses a network as large as Echelon, and that it is hard for the EU nations to work together on this issue because one of their number, Britain, plays a prominent role in Echelon. It would be difficult in this case to accuse the Latin countries - France in particular - of being paranoid about the "Anglo-Saxon" nations, since several German companies have also reportedly suffered at the hands of Echelon. Since the US has passed on to its "allies" only those elements of Echelon's eavesdropping activities that it is prepared to release, the latter find themselves in a fundamental position of inferiority: they do not know exactly how much the Americans know.
It would nice if Washington and London, both of which like to preach the virtues of free trade and fair competition, saw fit to provide some sort of clarification - whether by telephone, fax or email.
Comment: Despite your "rights", you have to accept that, for practical purposes in the year 2000, there is no such thing as privacy. On the other hand, there are various forms of what we now call "spin". When George Orwell wrote "1984", back in 1948, he was remarkably prescient (and dont forget that, at the books end, the broken hero, "Winston", did learn to love "Big Brother"). Meantime, there is no reason to make things easier for "them"; anyone communicating "in the clear" have only themselves to blame if confidential information is picked up by a third party. For its imperfections, sending e-mail by encryption (such as PGP) does help. After all do you send confidential information by sealed letter or on a postcard?
SCAMS SECTION. THIS WEEK NIGERIA 419 SCAMS
The title of this section refers to article 419 of the Legislative Code of Nigeria, which (supposedly) makes this kind of activity illegal. However, as one reader, who passed on not one but two of these to us this week, can attest, the perpetrators have come a long way from their previous method of communicating (by airmail); the Nigerians have now gone electronic. The letters do vary in their detail, but the plot remains the same. You may wonder: "Well, so what suppose I just empty the money out of the account number Im going to give them what have I got to lose? And perhaps plenty to gain?!?" Think again. Due to the tremendous amount and wide variety of scams coming out of Nigeria you would be very well advised to treat all offers coming from that country with suspicion. Above anything else, never travel there upon invitation of a "newly found business contact" whose references you cannot verify independently. We've heard of people being robbed or outright disappearing - so be careful!
It could all end as a nightmare, but start as a dream - with a letter or email similar to the following one. (Note: The telecommunications addresses of the "attorney" have been censored but are available to interested investigators upon request. But, let's face it, these scams are so common and Nigeria is so corrupt that investigations are very unlikely to happen, let alone to succeed.)
Now, weve seen cases like this where the numbers just dont add up but the scam here is not that they want to use your account to siphon from rather, if you accept their proposal, you will at some stage be required to pay an urgent up-front fee in order to facilitate the transfer. If you pay that money you'll never see it again, nor will their transfer ever arrive at your account.
These practitioners are very creative in designing new "scenarios", but in the end it all boils down to the following: Someone wants to transfer money from Nigeria to a foreign bank account (yours) and promises to pay you a commission for receiving and then forwarding or investing the money. If you agree, you will be required to pay an up-front fee to make the transfer possible. Once you've paid, they will try again and ask for another fee. And so on - until you are no longer willing to pay. At this point your money is gone and the scamsters disappear. If you turn up for a meeting, you may find yourself kidnapped or worse.
As mentioned before, the web page of C.E.G. has been redesigned and rebuilt. Check it out at www.ceg.ai