December, 2015


Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headline News 12/31

By: Ricardo Blackman, (CDN) Barbados –

Dateline St. John’s, ANTIGUA:

“We are going to stop the domination of Syrians in terms of people that have arrived here.”  That’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Lennox Weston, who says the government is changing the tendering process to stop what he says is the domination of Syrian businessmen.


Dateline Basseterre, ST. KITTS:

The Chairman of the Eastern Caribbean Monetary Council, Victor Banks, the Chief Minister of Anguilla, has confirmed that the choice of new Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB)  has still not been made. The matter is being compared to the race for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General, where the Caribbean failed to reach consensus on a single candidate.


Dateline Havana, CUBA :

The four per cent increase in Cuba’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this year is a good result, in spite of the international economic crisis and the persistent financial and commercial embargo by the United States.  President Raul Castro asserted on Tuesday.


Dateline Providenciales, TURKS AND CAICOS:

The House of Assembly in the Turks and Caicos Islands has passed a new law that stops the path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship for foreign workers.  This appears to affect numerous Haitian, Jamaican and Dominica Republic guest workers.

Belgian police detain six people over New Year’s attack plot

BRUSSELS (Reuters) –  Belgian police have detained six people during house searches in Brussels in an investigation into a plot to carry out an attack in the city on New Year’s Eve, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Authorities in the Belgian capital Brussels on Wednesday called off the city’s traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks display, citing fears of an attack.

A judge would decide later on Thursday whether they could be held further.

Two people arrested earlier this week, named as 30-year-old Said S. and 27-year-old Mohammed K., would be held for one more month as they were charged with threatening to carry out a terrorist attack, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Alison Williams)

Facebook fights for free Internet in India, global test-case

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India has become a battleground over the right to unrestricted Internet access, with local tech start-ups joining the front line against Facebook Inc (FB.O) founder Mark Zuckerberg and his plan to roll out free Internet to the country’s masses.

The Indian government has ordered Facebook’s Free Basics plan on hold while it decides what to do.

The program, launched in more than 35 developing countries around the world, offers pared-down web services on mobile phones, along with access to the company’s own social network and messaging services, without charge.

But critics say the program, launched 10 months ago in India in collaboration with mobile operator Reliance Communications (RLCM.NS), violates principles of net neutrality, the concept that all websites on the internet are treated equally. It would put small content providers and start-ups that don’t participate in it at a disadvantage, they say.

“India is a test case for a company like Facebook and what happens here will affect the roll out of this service in other smaller countries where perhaps there is not so much awareness at present,” said Mishi Choudhary, a New York-based lawyer who works on technology and Internet advocacy issues.

Also at stake is Facebook’s ambition to expand in its largest market outside the United States. Only 252 million out of India’s 1.3 billion people have Internet access, making it a growth market for firms including Google (GOOGL.O) and Facebook.

In a letter seen by Reuters, the heads of nine start-up including Paytm, backed by China’s Alibaba Group (BABA.N), and dining app Zomato, have written to the watchdog Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) urging it to ensure Internet access was allowed without differential pricing.

The executives said in the letter, dated Tuesday, that differential pricing for Internet access would lead to a “few players like Facebook with its Free Basics platform acting as gate-keepers”.

“There is no reason to create a digital divide by offering a walled garden of limited services in the name of providing access to the poor,” they wrote.

Zuckerberg has got personally involved.

“We know that for every 10 people connected to the Internet, roughly one is lifted out of poverty,” he wrote in The Times of India newspaper this week. “We know that for India to make progress, more than 1 billion people need to be connected to the Internet.

“What reason is there for denying people free access to vital services for communication, education, healthcare, employment, farming and women’s rights?”


A company spokesman said the aim of Facebook’s Free Basics initiative was to give people a taste of what the internet can offer. And Facebook has issued a series of full-page newspaper advertisements and set up billboard banners in an unusual and aggressive campaign to counter the protests.

“Free Basics is at risk of being banned, slowing progress towards digital equality in India,” said an advertisement published in Mumbai newspapers on Wednesday, urging Internet users to support the initiative.

Launched last year in Zambia, Free Basics, earlier known as, has run in to trouble elsewhere on grounds that it infringes with the principle of net neutrality. Authorities in Egypt effectively suspended the service when a required permit was not renewed after it lapsed on Wednesday.

The regulator, TRAI, has asked Facebook and Reliance Communications to suspend Free Basics until a final policy decision is made next month.

“In a democracy you have both sides – you have Facebook spending so much on the campaign and on the other side you have internet activists making their own efforts,” TRAI chairman Ram Sevak Sharma told Reuters.

“Our job is to make a policy that is in the interest of telecom operators and end users in India.”

(Writing by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Notable deaths in 2015

(AFP) – From legendary Egyptian actor Omar Sharif to Germany’s ex-Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and Nobel-winning author Gunter Grass, here are some of the notable figures who died in 2015:

– January –

3: Edward Brooke, the first popularly elected black US senator, aged 95.

– 11: Swedish “Dolce Vita” actress Anita Ekberg in hospital outside Rome aged 83.

– 23: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz aged around 90 after suffering from pneumonia.

– 25: Greek larger-than-life singer Demis Roussos, in Athens aged 68.

– 29: Australian “Thorn Birds” author, Colleen McCullough aged 77 in hospital off Australia’s eastern coast.

– 31: Former German president Richard von Weizsaecker, a member of the Christian Democrat party, aged 94.

– February –

– 6: Algerian feminist novelist Assia Djebar, aged 78 in a hospital in Paris.

– 6: South African writer and outspoken critic of apartheid Andre Brink aged 79, on board a flight home from Belgium.

– 14: Italian Nutella owner and billionaire Michele Ferrero, aged 89.

– 14: Veteran French actor Louis Jourdan, star of “Gigi” at his Beverly Hills home in Los Angeles aged 93.

– 21: US jazz trumpeter Clark Terry, aged 94, in an Istanbul hospital.

Flowers and a photo are placed on the star of actor Leonard Nimoy on February 27, 2015 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

– 27: “Star Trek’s” Mr Spock, US actor Leonard Nimoy, aged 83 at his home in Los Angeles.

– 28: Yasar Kemal, one of Turkey’s most celebrated writers, aged 92, in an Istanbul hospital.

– March –

– 12: British science-fantasy “Discworld” author Terry Pratchett aged 66 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

– 20: Australia’s former conservative prime minister Malcolm Fraser, after a short illness at the age of 84.

– 23: Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, aged 91 in hospital after suffering from pneumonia.

– 26: Swedish poet Tomas Transtroemer, who won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature, aged 83.

– April –

– 2: Portuguese cinema legend Manoel de Oliveira, aged 106.

– 10: Former Australian cricket captain and commentator Richie Benaud, aged 84 in hospital after suffering from skin cancer.

– 13: Germany’s Nobel-winning author, Gunter Grass aged 87, in hospital in the northern city of Luebeck.

– 13: Uruguayan leftist writer Eduardo Galeano, aged 74 in a Montevideo hospital after suffering from lung cancer.

– 14: American soul icon Percy Sledge aged 74 in the American state of Louisiana, of liver cancer.

– May –

– 2: British crime writer Ruth Rendell, of “Chief Inspector Wexford” fame, aged 85 in hospital after suffering a stroke.

– 14: B.B. King, the face of American blues worldwide, aged 89 in Las Vegas.

– 30: Beau Biden, the eldest son of US Vice President Joe Biden and the former attorney general of Delaware, of brain cancer aged 46.

– June –

– 5: Iraq’s Tareq Aziz, the voice of Saddam Hussein’s regime, in an Iraqi hospital aged 79 after many years of poor health as a convicted prisoner.

– 7: British Dracula actor Christopher Lee, aged 93, in hospital in London.

– 11: US saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman in New York aged 85.

– 17: Turkey’s former president and prime minister Suleyman Demirel, in an Ankara hospital aged 90 of heart failure.

– 22: American “Titanic” music composer James Horner in a plane crash in California aged 61.

– 25: British actor Patrick Macnee, star of 1960s British spy series “The Avengers” at his home in California, aged 93.

– 26: Russia’s former prime minister, foreign minister and master spy Yevgeny Primakov aged 85.

– July –

– 1: Nicholas Winton, known as the English Schindler for saving hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis before World War II, aged 106, near London.

– 9: Saudi Arabia’s Prince Saud al-Faisal, born in 1940 and the world’s longest serving foreign minister, in the United States.

– 10: Egyptian-born “Doctor Zhivago” film legend Omar Sharif, of a heart attack in a Cairo hospital aged 83.

– 11: Japan’s Nintendo’s chief executive Satoru Iwata of cancer aged 55.

– 26: Bobbi Kristina Brown, the only child of US pop legend Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, aged 22, six months after she was found unconscious in a bathtub in her Atlanta, Georgia, home.

– August –

– 15: Pioneering US civil rights activist Julian Bond, aged 75 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

– 19: Senegal’s master drummer Doudou Ndiaye Rose aged 85 in a Dakar hospital.

Former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, master of “realpolitik,” died November, 10, 2015 aged 96

– 22: The former “first lady” of Cambodia’s murderous Khmer Rouge regime Ieng Thirith aged 83 in a former Khmer stronghold on the border with Thailand

– 30: Renowned British neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks aged 82 in New York of cancer.

– 30: American horror film master Wes Craven aged 76 at his Los Angeles home of brain cancer.

– September –

– 19: Best-selling British-American romance novelist Jackie Collins of breast cancer in California aged 77.

– 22: New York Yankees baseball icon Yogi Berra aged 90.

– 29: Phil Woods, a prolific US saxophonist aged 83.

– October –

– 5: Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell, 67, of detective Kurt Wallander fame, in Gothenburg of cancer.

– 14: Benin’s former military ruler and civilian president Mathieu Kerekou, aged 82.

– 24: “How Green Was My Valley” Irish actress Maureen O’Hara, aged 95, at home in Boise, Idaho.

– November –

– 3: Iraqi Ahmed Chalabi, a key lobbyist for the US-led invasion of Iraq who was blamed for providing false intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, of a heart attack aged 71.

– 10: Former West German chancellor, master of “realpolitik” Helmut Schmidt, aged 96.

– 18: New Zealand’s rugby legend Jonah Lomu, aged 40, after suffering from kidney disease.

– December –

– 15: Licio Gelli, a masonic grand master implicated in some of the darkest chapters of Italy’s post-war history aged 96.

– 19: Germany’s Kurt Masur, the conductor who used music to ease German reunification and comfort New York after September 11, aged 88.

– 23: Hocine Ait-Ahmed, one of the fathers of Algeria’s struggle for independence from France, in Lausanne, Switzerland aged 89.

– 28: Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, the hell-raising frontman of British heavy metal band Motorhead, of cancer aged 70.

Venezuela top court blocks four lawmakers-elect from taking office

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked four newly elected lawmakers from taking office after a legal challenge by the ruling Socialist Party, which was roundly defeated by the opposition coalition in the Dec. 6 congressional election.

The court’s Electoral Chamber approved injunctions against the election victories of three lawmakers linked to the opposition and one from the Socialist Party, while it hears the legal challenge against them. All were elected in the rural state of Amazonas.

The court also agreed to hear legal challenges to the election of another six opposition deputies, but dismissed requests for similar injunctions in those cases, according to information posted on the court’s website.

It did not describe the arguments underlying the legal challenges. A court official contacted by Reuters said no one was available to comment.

As a result, four lawmakers would be blocked from taking office when the new Congress opens on Jan. 5, while the other five would be allowed to do so while the court hears the legal challenge against them.

The opposition’s Democratic Unity coalition won 112 seats out of 167 for a 67 percent majority, driven by discontent over the country’s prolonged economic crisis and dissatisfaction with the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

A two-thirds majority gives the opposition expanded powers including the capacity to fire Maduro’s cabinet ministers.

It was not immediately evident what effect Wednesday’s court decision would have on the opposition’s majority.

The opposition is accusing the government of seeking to chip away at its majority through legal challenges to the vote results and last-minute designations of Supreme Court justices.

The lame-duck Congress, in which the Socialist Party has a majority, this month named 13 Supreme Court justices in what the opposition called a last-minute court-packing scheme.

The opposition coalition said on Wednesday it would recuse the five justices of the Electoral Chamber. It noted that one of those justices was still listed by the National Assembly’s website as a Socialist Party deputy.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth and Eyanir Chinea; Editing by Leslie Adler, Toni Reinhold)

China to prosecute former deputy environment minister for graft

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese authorities will prosecute a former deputy environment minister for corruption after a probe by the ruling Communist Party found he abused his power and took bribes, the party’s anti-graft watchdog said on Thursday.

The investigation of Zhang Lijun, who served in his position between 2008-2013, began in July.

While in office, he took gifts in exchange for promotions, abused his position for the business interests of family members and of unnamed companies, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a short statement.

He has been expelled from the party and his case handed over to legal authorities, it said, meaning he will face prosecution.

Chinese courts are controlled by the party and will not challenge its accusations.

It was not possible to reach Zhang for comment and it was unclear if he has a lawyer.

Environmental degradation is a sensitive topic in China, with thousands of protests sparked every year by concerns about pollution, particularly from factories.

In February, the environment ministry was reprimanded by the graft watchdog for problems including interference by ministry officials and their relatives in environmental impact assessments.

The CCDI also said it was investigating three officials from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top economic planning agency, for “serious violations of discipline”, a euphemism for corruption.

Since assuming office three years ago, President Xi Jinping has launched a war against deep-seated corruption, waging a campaign that has brought down numerous senior officials, including former security tsar Zhou Yongkang.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Nick Macfie)

At issue in U.N. Syria ceasefire plan: Who is a terrorist?

WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A U.N. plan to suspend Syria’s nearly five-year-old civil war calls for listing which militant groups may be fought despite an eventual ceasefire, one of the toughest issues vexing diplomats trying to end the conflict.

A U.N. draft discussion paper obtained by Reuters includes eight “framework principles” to be embraced by all countries and rebel groups that sign on to a ceasefire. The ceasefire plan also lists issues still to be negotiated, including defining “those terrorist organizations against whom combat is allowed.”

The paper’s authenticity was confirmed by two diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity. The diplomats stressed that the document was a draft, originally prepared by the United Nations, and they said multiple versions of the draft have been passed back and forth among U.S., U.N. and other diplomats.

The ceasefire idea, endorsed by the U.N. Security Council on Dec. 18 at the urging of major powers and regional players that include the United States, Russia, Iran and Turkey, would exclude militant groups such as Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.

Diplomats say the result could be a messy, partial ceasefire in which government and acceptable rebel forces stop shooting at one another but still go after Islamic State militants and other groups branded as terrorist.

With Nusra Front fighters scattered across northern Syria rather than concentrated in any one place, attacks on them could harm civilians as well as groups who signed on to any ceasefire, diplomats and analysts said.

Identifying the groups still subject to attack is a diplomatic task delegated to Jordan’s government.

In a tangible sign of the difficulty, the Jaysh al Islam militant group has agreed to take part in the peace talks, yet its leader was killed on Friday in an air strike that rebel sources say was carried out by Russian aircraft.

The U.S. State Department said the killing had complicated efforts to achieve a political settlement, a point it said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a phone call on Monday.


Staffan de Mistura, the third U.N. envoy tasked with ending a civil war that has killed at least 250,000 people and driven millions from their homes, has taken the lead in laying out the possible dimensions of a ceasefire, diplomats said.

De Mistura has said he hopes to open talks between the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and opposition groups in Geneva on Jan. 25.

Those talks will focus on trying to get the two sides to agree on a political transition for Syria.

Separate talks are underway about the shape of a ceasefire and the draft document obtained by Reuters addresses this.

Quick agreement seems likely on some framework principles, such as a recognition of Syria’s territorial integrity, but others will be vexing. Among these is one to require the withdrawal of “foreign fighters unlawfully present in Syria.”

That language could allow Assad to argue that fighters from Iran, Russia, Iraqi Shi’ite militias and others that support him are in Syria at his invitation and therefore lawfully present – a stance sure to be resisted by opposition and rebel groups.


The document lays out three possible ceasefire models that could vary from one region of Syria to another:

– A ceasefire that excludes “undesired groups,” presumably those deemed to be “terrorist.”

– A ceasefire open to all who embrace the framework principles.

– A limited ceasefire that would reduce violence by barring the use of certain weapons.

Diplomats and analysts stressed the challenge of getting the Assad government and the opposition and rebel groups into talks, let alone to lay down their arms.

“This whole document does indeed reflect how devilishly difficult it’s going to be to implement a nationwide ceasefire in Syria and when I say nationwide, I am not including the area run by ISIS,” said Fred Hof, a former State Department official who worked on Syria now at the Atlantic Council think tank.

“It’s going to be impossible to have a one-size-fits-all set of arrangements,” he added.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Lou Charbonneau; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Howard Goller)

U.S. warily eyes New Year’s threats in cities abroad

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. authorities are monitoring investigations overseas of alleged plots by Islamic State operatives or sympathizers to launch attacks over the New Year’s holiday period, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

Officials at the Department of Homeland Security and other U.S. agencies, however, said they were unaware of any imminent or credible threats by Islamic State or other militants to attack inside the United State or hit American targets overseas.

In New York City, traditionally the site of the nation’s largest New Year’s Eve celebration, police have seen no credible threat at this time, a New York police spokesman said.

U.S. officials noted arrests overseas by authorities in Turkey, Belgium and Indonesia in connection with alleged plots linked to Islamic State. Brussels, Belgium’s capital city, canceled its New Year’s fireworks due to a threat, city officials said.

Belgian police arrested two individuals connected to a motorcycle gang last weekend on suspicion that they were plotting an attack against landmarks in Brussels, possibly including the Grand Place, the city’s most famous square.

“Security services are rightly worried that Islamic State and al Qaeda will try to direct or inspire an attack early in the new year to follow up the Paris operation. The plan for an attack on Brussels’ iconic grand market would be just such a spectacular assault,” said Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA Middle East expert and sometime policy adviser to President Barack Obama.

Authorities in Turkey on Wednesday detained two suspected members of Islamic State who they believed were plotting suicide attacks in Ankara on New Year’s Eve, a senior Turkish government official told Reuters.

While U.S. officials said they have detected no serious plots inside the United States, they said suspected militants always engage in “chatter” about possible attacks at this time of year.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said it is increasing vigilance and called on the public to be alert. “While the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are not aware of any specific, credible threats to the homeland, we continue to take proactive steps to ensure personnel and resources are in place to ensure the safety and security of our communities,” it said in a statement.

Lorenzo Vidino, a counterterrorism expert with George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, said both real and false reports of terrorist plotting are common at this time of year, in part because the media is more attuned to them.

“Obviously this year, with all that has happened over the last few months and ISIS’ clear and open intention of bringing the war to the home of its enemies, the threat is more severe than ever,” Vidino said.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by David Greising and Dan Grebler)

The New Case Against Bill Cosby Is Mostly Based On Evidence Authorities Had All Along

By: Diana Moskovitz, Deadspin – 

Bill Cosby was charged on Wednesday with three counts of aggravated indecent assault by authorities in Montgomery County, Pa., for what happened back in 2004, when Andrea Constand said Cosby invited her over to his home, drugged, and assaulted her. At the time, Constand was the director of operations for the women’s basketball program at Temple, and Cosby was a prominent booster. The charges were announced today.

Constand went to the police, but then-Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor said no charges would be filed in due to insufficient evidence. Since then, with scores of women coming forward saying they were drugged and raped by Cosby, the case was reopened and re-investigated. So what changed between then and now? Only District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman knows for certain, but the complaint filed by the D.A.’s office provides a detailed outline of what prosecutors believe happened. It also provides a look at just how much of the evidence against Cosby was old—and either known to law enforcement already or, until the Associated Press intervened, kept under seal by the courts.


Bill Cosby’s mug shot, released by the Montgomery County DA’s office.

What follows is based on the criminal complaint filed. It outlines how Cosby built a relationship with Constand, to the point she considered him a mentor. He invited her to gatherings at his home that included the president of Swathmore College and professors from University of Pennsylvania. She went to his place in New York City to meet his entertainment industry contacts. Cosby also made sexual advances toward her, twice, which Constand rebuffed. Sometime between mid-January and mid-February in 2004, Cosby invited Constand over for dinner, just her and him alone.

That night, Constand was talking about how she felt “drained” and “emotionally occupied.” Cosby said he wanted her to relax, then left and came back with some pills. He said they were herbal and urged her to take them. “These will make you feel good,” he said, according to the complaint. “The blue things take the edge off.” He told her to put the pills in her mouth and wash them down with water. Constant did because she trusted him.

Cosby also urged Constand to take a few sips of wine. Within 20 to 30 minutes, Constand said she had blurry vision and trouble speaking. She told Cosby, who helped her get to the couch. He told her that he was “going to let [her] relax.”

The victim described to the police the wide range of physical symptoms she experiences during this time. She said that she lost all the strength in her legs, which felt “rubbery” and “like jelly.” She could not see clearly because everything had become “blurry” and “dizzy.” She felt “nauseous.” She could not keep her eyes open, was not aware o any sounds, had no sense of time, and was “in and out.”

Cosby did not sit on the sofa with her, but instead positions himself behind her. Despite her impaired physical and mental condition, the victim was aware that Cosby was fondling her breasts, put her hands into her pants, and penetrated her vagina with his fingers. Cosby also took the victim’s right hand and placed it onto his erect penis. The victim told investigators that she did not consent to any of these acts, and was unable to move or speak during the assault. She described her condition as “frozen” and “paralyzed.”

She woke up about 4 a.m. with her sweater bunched up and her bra undone. Cosby gave her a muffin, walked her to the front door, and said “alright.” Constand left Temple in March and moved back home to Canada, where on Jan. 13, 2005, she told her mother what happened. The family soon afterward reported it to the police.

When did police know this? The only detailed attribution in this part of the complaint references a written statement Constand gave to police on Jan. 22, 2005. A few times after that, there are mentions of Constand talking to police. If any of these details were drawn from her civil complaint, this document doesn’t point that out.

After her daughter told her what happened, Constand’s mother, Gianna, also called Cosby, leaving him a voicemail. He got back to her three days later. What followed was a string of conversations with Cosby in which, the complaint says, he “admitted fondling the victim’s breasts, digitally penetrating her vagina, and placing the victim’s hands on his penis for sexual gratification” He apologized, and “offered to cover any expenses associated with therapy.” As for the pills he gave Constand? Cosby said he couldn’t read the bottle label because of an “eye condition,” the complaint says, but he would write down the name and mail it to her.

Cosby called again, the next day. Gianna Constand recorded the conversation.

The next day a Cosby representative called to arrange a meeting between Andrea Constand, Gianna Constand, and Cosby in Florida. The two women declined. The Cosby representative provided a statement to investigators saying that Cosby had told him to contact Constand and arrange the trip. He added that “he had made similar arrangements for other women on Cosby’s behalf.” The statement was dated given on Feb. 4, 2005. And that detail about digital penetration, also from 2005, would factor into the charges brought yesterday.

In 2005, police talked to Cosby, who said he gave Constand Benadryl but “he did not tell the victim, on that night or anytime thereafter, the true identity of the pills.” He described what happened as a “consensual sexual encounter,” the complaint says. Cosby said their relationship had been social as well as romantic and that he never had intercourse with Constand because he “like[d] the petting and touching.”

“When asked if he ever had intercourse with the victim,” the complaint says, “Cosby gave the unusual answer, ‘never asleep or awake.’”

Cosby also told investigators that he had apologized to Constand’s mother, and the meeting in Florida was to “iron out whatever these problems happen to be.” According to the timeline as written out in the complaint, all these statements and facts were gathered before then-District Attorney Bruce Castor announced on Feb. 17, 2005, that his office would not charge Cosby.

So what changed? From what’s revealed in the complaint two things happened between then and now: More women came forward, and the depositions from Constand’s civil case were unsealed.

Constand brought a civil suit against Cosby a month later. Unlike the criminal investigation, which made almost no information about what happened public, Constand’s civil action aired many of the details of how she said Cosby built a relationship with her, assaulted her, and then tried to keep her family quiet. It also revealed the many ways Cosby and his backers tried to make her story go away. It was settled on Nov. 8, 2006, and several depositions taken as part of that case were sealed.

This year, after multiple women came forward saying they too had been drugged and raped by Cosby, the sealed court documents were released, thanks to the legal fighting of the Associated Press, which also tried and failed to make the documents public back in 2005. The court documents included large chunks of the depositions, which later were released in full by the court reporting service that held them. (A hold on releasing them further was placed within days of a New York Times story about them.) Here is how the complaint discusses the release of those documents, which are nearly a decade old.

The release of these depositions generated a great deal of publicity, as well as a number of public claims by women who alleged Cosby had assaulted them under circumstances similar to those reported by the victim. These events prompted the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, now led by District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, to review the statute of limitations regarding potential criminal offenses committed by Cosby against the victim. District Attorney Ferman determined that under Pennsylvania law, prosecution for Aggravated Indecent Assault must be commenced within twelve years after the offense has been committed. As such, the statute of limitations has not yet expired, and the investigation was reopened on July 10, 2015.

Investigators re-interviewed Constand, who said she would cooperate if asked to. She said that in her initial call with Cosby she told him “you are a very sick man,” and that he agreed and apologized. They also reviewed her deposition from the civil case, and the summary of that in the complaint matches what she told police. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported today, according to to sources familiar with the probe, that investigators also “have since interviewed several individuals who were close to her or Cosby at the time of the alleged assault.” Those interviews are not mentioned in the complaint.

Investigators reviewed Cosby’s depositions, and noticed both where they conflicted and where they agreed with what he had told police. Cosby told police that he gave Constand “one whole and then one … half” of a pill. In the deposition, he said he gave her “three halved pills,” which he called “three friends to make [her] relax.” Here is what follows next in the complaint:

He testified, as reported to the police, that after the administration of the pills, he lifted the victim’s bra so their skin could touch, got behind the victim “in a spooning position,” and, while in that position, he went “inside of her pants” and digitally the victim’s vagina.

The complaint goes on to point out the much reported-on detail in the deposition where Cosby talked about keeping Quaaludes on him when pressed by Constand’s lawyer. She asked “When you got the Quaaldues, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?” Cosby answered “yes.” The complaint follows with more details about Cosby’s use of Quaaludes, as taken from the depositions—that he said he once met a woman backstage, gave her Quaaludes, then had sex with her; that he said of the drug that“there were times he wanted to have them just in case”; that Cosby didn’t take them himself because, he said, “he gets sleepy.”

In terms of new evidence given in the complaint, that’s it.

Near the end, the complaint launches into a recap of events and discussion about about why the charges are appropriate. It talks about Cosby’s use of Quaaludes and his “evasive and conflicting identifications of the drug he gave the victim,” which are “inconsistent of innocent behavior and demonstrate his consciousness of guilt.” Another detail included is Cosby’s phone apology and financial offer to the Constands.

Investigators recognize that individuals who are falsely accused of sexual assault generally do not unilaterally offer generous financial assistance, and apologies, to their accuser and their accuser’s family. To the contrary, such conduct is consistent with offenders who are seeking to make amends from wrongful behavior and prevent involvement by law enforcement.

The last part talks more about details revealed by Cosby that provide “unusually compelling insight regarding Cosby’s sexual relationships with women, including his assaultive behavior towards the victim.” The complaint notes that Cosby made sure Gianna Constand understood “there was no ‘penile penetration’ involved” and Cosby had given police the “never asleep or awake” answer when asked if he had sex with Andrea Constand.

Those are chilling details—and details that authorities had in 2005. So much of this was known to investigators at the time, according to the complaint’s timeline. Yes, the depositions provide new insights and details, but those didn’t become available because of diligent police work. They became public because of legal action brought by the AP, after months of public outcry. If police or prosecutors were trying to get copies of the depositions, I haven’t seen documents indicating that in the court file. (It is, of course, possible that prosecutors have more new evidence they chose not to include in the complaint.)

The bottom line is that the case against Cosby appears to have been built on evidence that was available a decade ago. That evidence didn’t change. What changed was how much people wanted to see it, and how willing they were to believe it.

Ricardo Blackman’s Caribbean Headline News 12/30

By: Ricardo Blackman, (CDN) Barbados –

Dateline Bridgetown, BARBADOS:

The Chairman of Britain’s environment agency is under fire for spending Christmas in Barbados amid heavy floods in the UK.  A report in the Telegraph newspaper said Sir Philip Dilley has been holidaying in Barbados for the past fortnight despite telling MPs he would “work seven days a week” if there was a flooding crisis at home.  Sir Philip said his job was to “turn up in wellingtons” and criticised his predecessor, Lord (Chris)  South for taking six weeks to visit the Somerset Levels when they flooded in 2013.  But instead of working round the clock as he said he would, the British newspaper said he has been “basking in 30C sunshine in the Caribbean island at his holiday home near the world famous Sandy Lane resort.”  Sir Philip was expected to return home today to face his critics as one of the MPs who approved his appointment said he had ‘questions to answer” as he had failed to live up to expectations.. Sir Philip , 60, is paid One Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling a year for his part-time role.


Dateline Castries, ST. LUCIA:

The government of St. Lucia confirms it has received a request from Mr. Julian Evans of the Protocol Directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Britain to grant a waiver of the diplomatic immunity of Dr. Walid Ahmed Juffali, the St. Lucia Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organisation in the UK to answer a claim for additional financial relief in the High Court in London from his ex-wife whom he had divorced in Saudi Arabia.  The government of St. Lucia  has always stated that it  would not respond to requests from private lawyers to lift the immunity of Dr. Juffali or any of its diplomats, as such requests can only  come from the receiving state where the diplomat is based.  To do otherwise, it said, would be to “expose our diplomats”, wherever they are assigned, to the whims of private lawyers.  But matters of this nature are governed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961.  Both St. Lucia and the government of the UK are signatories to the Convention, and are bounded by its provisions, procedures and conventions.


Dateline St. John’s, ANTIGUA:

For the second time this year, Caribbean leaders have failed to reach consensus on a single candidate, this time for someone to serve in the position of Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).   And a former member of Parliament in St. Kitts said the indecisiveness of the region’s leaders paints a troubling picture for the economic union that should be one of stability.  “There should be no gap between one governor and his/her successor.  The successor should come into transition before the predecessor demits office.  Let us hope this gets resolved very soon” Dwyer Astaphan told OBSERVER media last night.


Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gaston Browne says Antigua and Barbuda has made its preference for the next  Central Bank Governor known after OECS leaders interviewed the two candidates on Monday.  Browne says he is supporting Grenada’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Timothy Antoine.  St. Lucia’s Dr. Jean Lyon was recommended as the favoured candidate by a search team while Dominican Valda Henry was withdrawn after being deemed the third favoured candidate.  Sir K. Dwight Venner stepped down as Governor of the ECCB at the end of November after 26 years at the helm.


Dateline Nassau. THE BAHAMAS:

Prime Minister Perry Christie said he expects a “major move” on Baha Mar that could see the troubled megaresort completed early in the New Year.  Christie said he spent much of the holidays working hard on the Baha Mar matter.


Dateline Paramaribo, SURINAME:

Facing major financial constraints and mounting pressure from the public to address corruption and money-losing public companies, Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse brought down the hammer at Suriname Airways (SLM) on Monday.  He sacked CEO Ewald Henshuijs and the entire board of directors of SLM for what he termed “major blunders”.  The money-losing state-owned airline has been plagued by nepotism, poor management and government interference, and has been suffering from financial hemorrhaging.


Dateline Willemstad, CURACAO:

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has “tightened” its travel advice for Venezuela.  According to the advisory, Venezuela is among the most violent countries in the world and it does not recommend Curacao citizens travel to the neighbouring country.


Dateline Havana, CUBA:

Central American countries agreed in a meeting in Guatemala on Monday. To airlift some 8,000 Cubans stranded in Costa Rica to El Salvador, starting the first week of January.


Dateline Port of Spain, TRINIDAD:

The government has made a $10 Billion dip into the “rainy day” Fund.  Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has also directed that there be a 7% cut in operating expenses at all state bodies, including ministries, state enterprises and the Tobago House of Assembly.  He was careful, however, to state that there would be no effect on jobs.  But there will be a major construction-led investment programme to rescue the economy.