Nassau Guardian Stories

Sale, sale, sale: Sound economic policy or national folly

March 05, 2014

Dear Editor,
Step right up. The sale is on. Get all your corporations, beaches, land, electricity, water, boys, girls, cays and rocks that you need to make you happy.
Perhaps the new tourism brochure from The Bahamas should read to this effect as the country sells off every corner, every crack, every soul that it can to pay the government's ever-increasing debt. Does this make good economic sense? When we look back over the state-sanctioned and pushed for privatizations of the commons we can see that, while in power, government officials may have benefited from the sale of everything and everyone, but the country suffered in the long run. Sadly, these are only limited resources; we do not have three or four or even five electricity corporations that can be sold off and then resold. Once the one and only, not to be confused with the Ocean Club, is sold it is sold forever. The money is spent before the sale is finalized and then nothing can be done to recreate that kind of sale again. What is more, the sale is often written so that the seller loses and the buyer gains and the former totally surrenders all say in the future of many parts of the nation. Many of the countries that have privatized national corporations have done so more intelligently but with terrible social and economic results. However, this country seems to be ignoring the lessons of history and moving ahead towards more damaging national development.
The same is true for land. Even those cays that seem to be selling like brightly-colored cakes in a bakery window are endangered. Once they are sold, they are gone forever. The baker will never be able to replicate the recipe to make new cays. People come into the bakery and woo the baker's pride and joy away form him; suddenly he realizes that he has nothing, and is left sleeping in his car because his planning was such that he did not think about what the future would hold if he sold everything that he used to make those fabulous cakes along with the cakes.
Economic history has spoken louder than anything and has shown people the folly of their ways. The American Economist Joseph Stiglitz talks about the perils of privatization and selling the commons as does the Indian economist Amartya Sen, both of whom are Nobel laureates. Meanwhile, the country, or the government, with the backing of the population, runs headlong down the path and sells everything in the dash to pay down debt. They apparently have created policies, regulations and plans, please don't forget plans, to prevent what happened in other countries from happening in this country. Do they not see that the debt they are paying will only resurface next year and then they will have nothing left with which to pay it off? Shall they sell the people? Swift has already argued that all babies should be sold to pay for their parents' food and housing.
We have privatized water so that it is now a quasi-public corporation. When this was done in Puerto Rico, Bolivia, India and other countries, the water prices increased by 100 percent within months. People could no longer afford to buy or use water. Many people started stealing water. Is that where we want the country to get to? Apparently it is.
Sure, government is encouraged to divest itself of many services by the all-powerful trade liberalization racket, but it does this kind of drastic reorganizing with a plan. This government apparently has no plan, nor did the government before it. But they are happy to sell. The U.S. is the biggest proponent for selling of its commons that are not legally protected from sale. They are also a country with some of the biggest disparities between the rich and poor. However, they do it more intelligently than The Bahamas does. While this may all sound fine and good, it is not. When things are sold off like this in a purported rich country, not a country where people have lived always in poverty but where poverty is increasing and people are being forced into desperation, like The Bahamas, it has been found that crime and violence increase. As we lose open spaces, the areas that people use to release the tensions built up from work, poverty and unemployment, the tensions rise and explosions occur. The more we see development close in on the coast, the worse this situation will become. We, however, continue down this road of well-known result. All the while, those taking the decisions build their walls higher and stronger.
The land that was once owned by the great-grandmothers and the grandmothers and then the mothers and fathers has been sold off because it can be, because we have let it. Where do we plan to live? Why not think about it, sleep on it? Five hundred thousand dollars today will only be worth $200,000 next week. And so on until a few weeks from now, it will be worth $1, while land only increases in value. Corporations are similar, unless left to decay.
The country has, however, decided that it will ignore sound economic lessons from others, and is choosing to run headlong into the hangman's noose. It will sell everything to whomever wants it and then sit back and wait for the crime, violence, poverty and hardship to worsen. As the banks announce that jobs are fleeing to less expensive destinations, what do you think will happen next? Privatizing corporations will have a similar impact on the employment figures. Jobs will flee the country in search of cheaper or more skilled labor beyond Bahamian shores. Much like when local companies invested in producing juices or poultry and the government changed policies, and devastated the local industry. Of course, these are all the pitfalls of development. To simply destroy every avenue for locals to develop by effectively outsourcing jobs to cheaper destinations and selling away the land at the same time seems odd economic policy. So, like the experience with free zones in Jamaica, the jobs are meant to be for locals but the transnational companies said they wanted cheaper labor and imported said workers. After that was done and the Jamaicans protested, the companies closed up shop and left. Government is controlled by corporations, not the inverse.
Apparently, people say to sit back and pray for a miracle. Ironically, God helps those who help themselves, at least that is what the Saint James Bible offers. Apparently, though, there's another bible out there that says, sit back and a god will come and help you. While we sit back, the sale continues and the jobs leave in dozens.
- Ian Bethell-Bennett

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Changing the mandatory minimum laws

March 05, 2014

Court of Appeal President Anita Allen, at a special sitting of the Court of Appeal to mark the new legal year, recently called for amendments to laws forcing magistrates to hand down mandatory minimum sentences in certain drug, firearm and ammunition cases.
Parliament passed the laws in 2011 during the term of the last Free National Movement (FNM) administration. People convicted of drug possession with the intent to supply or illegal firearm possession, under the laws, face a fixed sentencing range of four to seven years. Prior to the change in the laws, magistrates were able to sentence those convicted of such crimes based on their own discretion.
The court has not accepted Parliament's decision to set absolute sentencing rules. These mandatory minimum sentences have been overturned on appeal.
Parliament passed the laws to stiffen the punishments given to drug and gun offenders. Previous to the passage of the laws some thought there was too much variance in the sentences given by magistrates to such convicts. Criminals with previous convictions, who needed serious jail time, walked out of courts with fines or short stays at Her Majesty's Prisons.
While many still think mandatory minimum sentences are necessary in The Bahamas in order to ensure prison sentences for certain convicts, the laws are both meaningless and unfair if the court rejects them. They are meaningless because on appeal new sentences will be issued. The laws are unfair to those who are unable to afford good lawyers to file appeals on their behalf.
There is another danger. The Court of Appeal could eventually have a serious backlog of cases before it comprised of drug and gun appeals if the laws stay in effect.
"Significantly, magisterial criminal appeals accounted for over 50 percent of the number of matters disposed of and well over 90 percent of those were appeals against the imposition of the mandatory minimum sentences for drug, firearm and ammunition possession," said Allen.
"The sheer number of these appeals, however, places immense pressure on this court. Moreover, it is in my view an injudicious use of judicial time to have three senior justices doing what magistrates could have done if they had the discretion to impose the appropriate sentence in the first place."
Parliament should, therefore, repeal these mandatory minimum laws and restore discretion to magistrates in these matters. Many Bahamians would like these tough sentences to remain. However, based on the position of the court it would be impractical and unwise to keep them in place.
While Allen rightly said the Crown can appeal what it thinks are unduly lenient sentences by magistrates, some review system needs to arise in The Bahamas regarding judicial officers who regularly issue indefensibly lenient sentences.
Judges have discretion but they also have the responsibility to issue responsible sentences based on the evidence before them. It cannot be reasonably argued that a man with multiple convictions found with an automatic weapon should just be fined. If such irresponsible sentences are the norm in the courts of magistrates justice is not being served.
The government seems minded to take the advice of Allen. It should. Our system would be improved if it does so.

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Miller under fire for abuse remarks

March 05, 2014

Despite Minister of Social Services Melanie Griffin's recent declaration that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is serious about fighting for the rights and protection of women, she offered no comment yesterday when asked to respond to Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller's recent comments about physical abuse and one of his ex-girlfriends.
However, Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner said the fact that Miller has not been publically rebuked by anyone in government shows that the PLP does not "stand up for the rights of Bahamian women".
Miller made the claims during his contribution to the mid-year budget debatem in the afternoon sitting of the House of Assembly on February 20.
At the time, Miller was on his feet criticizing the opposition for what he claimed was not standing up for Bahamian fishermen while it was in government, but now pressuring the present government to assist them.
He compared the behavior to an abusive relationship.
"...Today they come in here preaching about their love for the fishermen," Miller said, referring to the opposition.
"My God, that's your idea of love? That's like beating your wife or your girlfriend every time you go home.
"You just beat her for looking at her. I love ya. Boom, boom, boom.
"I had a girlfriend like that. When I didn't beat her she used to tell me I ain't love her no more cause I don't hit her. But seriously I had one like that. I had one. She used to tell me," he insisted as other members murmured and chuckled.
House Speaker Dr. Kendal Major injected, "We know that you're joking with that."
However, Miller said he was "serious with that".
"I tell her I get tired, man," he continued, laughing. "My hands hurting a little bit...give me a break."
After a comment from a sitting member inquiring whether he was joking, he reiterated,"I am telling you the truth. One thing I don't do is lie."
When asked to respond to Miller's remarks, Griffin refused to speak about the matter.
In contrast, Griffin spent a significant portion of her recent debate contribution lambasting Butler-Turner for her recent comments that the PLP is not serious about protecting women.
Butler-Turner, who was contacted by The Nassau Guardian, said she was "shocked" that Miller was not rebuked in the House of Assembly.
She added that the matter is not one to take lightly.
"I sat right there during his contribution," she said. "I was shocked by it and he repeated it. He said essentially that he had a girlfriend and if he didn't beat her she felt that he didn't love her.
"And there was no outcry, just humor from the other side and others at the House at the time.
"What really hurt me about it is I was just saying the week before that women are being abused and nobody stands up on the governing side for it.
"And essentially, once again, he (Miller) got up and he talked and none of them rebuked him for it. As a matter of fact, I was even taken aback that the speaker didn't have him rebuked for the remarks."
Butler-Turner said Griffin's silence in the House of Assembly and yesterday speaks for itself.
"The fact that someone from the government side can get away with such loose and wild talk about how they have abused women, whether the woman consented to it or not, and not a peep from the governing side, it clearly strengthens the argument that I put forward that they really do not stand up for the rights of Bahamian women and girls."

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Symonette: Ingraham would have fired Lightbourne

March 05, 2014

The government's value-added tax (VAT) coordinator Ishmael Lightbourne, who owes tens of thousands of dollars in outstanding real property tax, would have already been fired under former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, former Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette said recently.
Symonette said it is a disgrace that Prime Minister Perry Christie has allowed the issue to languish.
At last report, Lightbourne said he was still employed with the Ministry of Finance.
"Perry Christie should have fired him," Symonette said.
"Under Hubert Ingraham that man would have been gone before the end of the day.
"That's the difference between those two leaders. How can he (Lightbourne) tell me about paying VAT when he can't pay real property taxes for 10 years?
"That's a disgrace. The man is a non-payer. It's time for Mr. Christie to get serious or get out the way."
The Guardian revealed that Lightbourne, who has been lecturing Bahamians on the need to pay their taxes, has not paid property taxes on his West Bay Street home in at least a decade.
The Guardian further revealed that Lightbourne owes $110,083 in taxes on a commercial property he owns, through a company, at Mount Royal Avenue.
Lightbourne, who is also a director of Sandbourne Limited, has not paid taxes on the commercial property in Palmdale in over 20 years.
The Free National Movement (FNM) has called on Lightbourne to resign or be fired over his delinquent taxes.
Symonette said, "This is becoming a national disgrace.
"[PLP Chairman] Bradley Roberts is saying don't go after Ishmael, but you can't say that because what's the difference between Ishmael and Brent? Not a damn thing."
Roberts told The Guardian last week that "rather than shoot the messenger" people should remember why there is need for tax reform.
Symonette admitted that he has been sued before for outstanding real property taxes.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said the public should not rush to judge Lightbourne.
Christie told The Guardian that he intends to address the Lightbourne issue when he speaks during the mid-year budget debate, which is expected to resume today.
Minister of Labour and National Insurance Shane Gibson has committed to revealing the tax status of past and present opposition MPs.
Symonette said Gibson can go ahead and expose the tax dodgers.
But he warned, "A lot of ministers should be very careful about exposing only tax dodgers and make sure that those persons in glass houses do not throw stones."

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Man admits raping pregnant woman

March 05, 2014

A sex offender accused of sodomizing a pregnant woman during a burglary at her home pleaded guilty to the offenses yesterday before the prosecution called its first witness.
Anthony Penn, who was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in 2012 for a similar offense, will not get any additional time in accordance with the terms of a plea agreement that bars the judge from imposing a consecutive sentence.
Penn sodomized the woman after she begged him not to violate her on April 23, 2011. He also robbed her at gunpoint of an undisclosed sum.
Justice Indra Charles will hold a formal sentencing hearing today, but she told Penn that he will receive 20 years for the armed robbery, 25 years for the rape and seven years for the burglary to "run concurrently with any other sentence he's serving".
Bar Association President Elsworth Johnson appeared for Penn and Abigail Farrington prosecuted.
In June 2012, Penn was convicted of the sexual assault of a 21-year-old woman on April 25, 2011.
Prosecutors alleged that Penn burglarized the woman's home, robbed her at gunpoint and raped her.
Penn, who denied the allegations, remained silent and did not call any witnesses on his behalf.
The woman claimed that Penn broke into her New Providence home, placed a gun to her head and forced her to have sex with him while her twins slept in the same bed.
The woman said she grabbed the gun after Penn placed it on a pillow. She pulled the trigger and to her astonishment learned it was toy.
Senior Justice Jon Isaacs sentenced Penn to 25 years in prison for the rape and armed robbery. He was sentenced to 10 years for burglary. Isaacs ordered those sentences to run concurrently.

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Shooting death on New Providence

March 05, 2014

Police last night reported that a man was robbed and shot through Tyler Street in Chippingham yesterday. Details were scarce up to press time, but police said he was transported to hospital last night where he was pronounced dead.

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Hall disappointed by tone of LGBT debate

March 05, 2014

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell's suggestion that Bahamas Faith Ministries International President Dr. Myles Munroe is ignorant is unfortunate and disappointing, Bishop Simeon Hall said yesterday.
Hall said both Mitchell and Munroe are entitled to their views, but each should keep the debate above board.
"I want to avoid whether I agree with Dr. Munroe or not," he said.
Mitchell reportedly told The Tribune on Monday that, "ignorance is a strange thing" in reference to Munroe's call for the prime minister to replace him over recent comments he made on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.
Munroe claimed that Mitchell does not represent the convictions of the majority of Bahamians.
Mitchell reportedly said he did not want to get in a back and forth with Munroe, but he said Munroe misinterpreted what he said.
But Hall, a former president of the Bahamas Christian Council, said in a statement, "To call Myles Munroe ignorant is like calling me white; or Fred Mitchell boorish.
"It is most distressing that national debates in our Bahamas always sink to its lowest levels and I did not expect that kind of remark from the minister, if indeed he said so.
"I do not always agree with some things Dr. Munroe states but he is a highly intelligent, articulate soldier of righteousness held in the highest esteem by political and religious communities the world over.
"Whatever the minister might have said in Trinidad and whatever Dr. Myles' position is, the label of ignorant ought not to enter the debate.
"I am of the considered opinion if Myles Munroe were an Anglican priest the word ignorant would never have been used to describe him."
In the speech, Mitchell said his political career suffers because of his position on LGBT issues.
He also urged tolerance and spoke of the general rights of all people.
Munroe said Mitchell should keep his personal convictions to himself.
Mitchell has said that when he spoke in Trinidad, he did so as the minister of foreign affairs.
Hall said he did not want to get into the LGBT issue.
"All persons are human beings first, before you look at one's sexual preference," he said.
"Sex is a private matter, I don't need to know the preference of anyone."
Last Thursday, Bahamas High Commissioner to CARICOM Picewell Forbes said he had "some different views" from his boss (Mitchell) on LGBT issues.
Forbes told parliamentarians that he believes in the traditional, nuclear family. He expressed his admiration for Mitchell, describing him as a friend and mentor.
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts told The Guardian on Monday that he didn't understand what the discontent is over the issue.
He said successive governments have endorsed the position taken by Mitchell.
In 2011, then Foreign Affairs Minister Brent Symonette said that the government supported the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that affirmed rights for LGBT people.

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Govt to consider tourism leaders' tax plan

March 05, 2014

Despite Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder's dismissal of a recommendation from tourism leaders that the government should roll out a shared payroll tax as an alternative to value-added tax (VAT), Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe yesterday said the government will "assess" their plan.
Veteran hotelier Robert "Sandy" Sands told The Nassau Guardian that tourism leaders would soon present a five-point "smart tax plan" to the government.
The plan will include a recommendation that the government tax web shops as a way to improve revenue and institute a shared payroll tax of five percent, paid by both employer and employee.
Wilchcombe said the tourism industry's plan is but one of many the government intends to mull over ahead of the planned implementation of value-added tax on July 1.
"The government is looking at everything before we proceed," Wilchcombe said.
"The prime minister invited the private sector and all stakeholders in the country to submit their ideas. So what the hotel association and the other associations are proposing will certainly be considered.
"You must remember that we're a service driven economy and at all times we have to consider the impact of anything that we do and how it would impact our service industry.
"I suppose that they would have given tremendous thought and had the research done by someone who is respected in the industry. We will look at it and we will assess it. But again, the government is welcoming all views and at the end of the day it will make a decision that is required."
The tourism industry leaders' recommendations are being proposed as an alternative to a 15 percent VAT rate, which they insist will hurt the country's number one industry.
"Tourism is the goose that lays the golden egg," said Sands, the group's spokesman.
"We protect tourism. We protect every industry in this country.
"Tourism is the lifeblood of the Bahamian economy and tourism leaders in The Bahamas are proposing a smart tax plan that will support, strengthen tourism and raise needed government revenues."
However, Pinder does not buy that argument.
He said that nearly every country with a successful tourism industry has some sort of consumption tax in its economic model, which has not damaged their respective tourism sectors.
Pinder added that the government has seen taxes from the tourism sector diminish because hoteliers are finding ways to garner revenue outside of traditionally taxed areas.
He said the government's planned tax reform, with the introduction of VAT, is a way to address the issue.

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Rolle hits back at Dorsett's housing claims

March 05, 2014

Former Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Housing Brensil Rolle yesterday called Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett's comments in Parliament last week a "feeble" attempt to distract from the Christie administration's "poor performance in the Ministry of Housing".
During his contribution on the mid-year budget, Dorsett accused the Ingraham administration of illegally building and selling government homes before the May 2012 general election.
He said the Free National Movement (FNM) built more than 400 homes in its last term, but said those homes were not built in accordance with the Planning and Subdivision Act.
Rolle called that assertion "reckless".
"He must know that homes were built on land owned by the government," Rolle said in a statement.
"Secondly, he should know that all subdivisions are coordinated by the relevant government agencies and every subdivision design is approved by the Subdivision Section of the Ministry of Works.
"The FNM, therefore, concludes that this political attempt to blame the former Minister of Housing Kenneth Russell is really a veiled attempt to discredit the hard working public officers that are tasked to perform the ground work for the construction of subdivisions."
Rolle said instead of focusing his attention on building homes, Dorsett has continued to make excuses and attribute blame to the FNM.
He said the housing minister has failed to fulfill the promises he made to the Bahamian people, and should get on with the job of building homes and accommodating Bahamians.
He said as dozens of homes have yet to be completed in Pride Estates, Fire Trail, Sunset and Abaco, Dorsett should be reminded that the Ingraham administration agreed and paid for the infrastructure of the subdivisions that were under construction during the general election to be completed in July 2012.
"However, upon coming to office the program was stopped and the subdivisions [were] neglected and abandoned," Rolle said.
He said the former administration met the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (BMC) in chaos when it came to office in 2007, but the then government did not complain.
Dorsett also said the FNM administration between 2007 and 2012 started construction of 566 homes and completed 450 by May 7, 2012.
Rolle called that statement laughable and encourages Dorsett to "get on with building his 20 houses as quickly as he can".
Dorsett said his ministry has begun construction on new government homes.
Last June, the Ministry of Finance signed a $60 million memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Insurance Board and the BMC for the program.
At the time, Dorsett said the project would begin in 30 days.
However, it was delayed due to the failure to fulfill several stipulations in the MOU, he later said.
These included the hiring of a financial advisor and a project manager, he said.
The first phase of the housing plan calls for the construction of 127 homes and construction is expected to take place over the course of the year.
NIB is providing the department of Housing with $10 million, in $2.5 million quarterly installments, to begin the program.

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Her Majesty's Prisons sends the wrong man to court

March 05, 2014

Court officials are trying to locate a defendant accused of causing over $20,000 in damage to equipment belonging to the Water and Sewerage Corporation.
Marvin Rolle, 41, is scheduled to be tried for the offense before Justice Vera Watkins.
The court sent an order of attendance to the prison but the wrong Marvin Rolle was sent to court.
The Rolle who appeared before Watkins yesterday is 20-years-old and is charged with armed robbery.
Watkins satisfied herself that the wrong man was before her when she looked at a passport photo attached to the case file.
Attorney Michael Kemp told the court that the younger Rolle was granted bail last year but his family was unable to meet the requirements for his release.
He quipped that the older man may have been freed instead of him.
Watkins said the court would place Rolle's date of birth and full name on the order of attendance.
In other court news, Richard Ford, also known as Richard Parchment, was unanimously acquitted of the armed robbery of a phone card vendor.
Prosecutors alleged that Ford robbed the man at gunpoint of cash and phone cards with an total value of $300.
Ian Cargill represented Ford.

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Methodist Church reconfirms anti-web shop stance

March 05, 2014

President of the Conference of the Methodist Church in The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Reverend Derek Browne yesterday distanced the church from the call made by former president Rev. Dr. J. Emmette Weir for the government to regulate and tax web shops as a revenue boosting measure.
Weir, the retired pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Grand Bahama, said while there are many Christians who have religious objections to gambling, there are some who agree that web shops should be regulated and taxed.
He said that people have the democratic right to patronize the businesses.
However, Browne said Weir does not have the authority to speak for the Methodist Church, which has been opposed to any form of gambling in The Bahamas, including casinos.
He said he had not read Weir's comments and was uncertain what perspectives he spoke from, but believes that "he may be speaking from the perspective of what is happening with the financial institutions as it relates to banks and the like.
"And what the unregulated funds from web shops are doing to those institutions."
Browne said the Methodist Church met with Prime Minister Perry Christie ahead of the January 2013 gambling referendum and made its position clear then.
"Our position did not change, but the government finds itself in a predicament whereby the whole matter of banking is affected... where there is unregulated flow of funds throughout the country," he said.
"And I believe that provides a dilemma for the government. Now the government will do what it can do, and needs to do, [but] that is up to the government."
He said it remains to be seen whether the government will move to regulate the web shop industry, but if it does, the church will fulfill its obligation to counsel, support and discourage those involved in gambling.
Several government ministers and members of Parliament have thrown their support behind the sector's regulation.
Weir's suggestions were outlined in a essay called 'VAT, Web Shops and the Church'.
In the document, Weir called on the government to delay its implementation of value-added tax and introduce it at a lower rate of 10 percent.
He suggested that VAT's implementation and the proposed regulation of web shops happen simultaneously on March 1, 2015.
On the issue of VAT, Browne said the church has not finalized its position.
However, Browne said he believes with the international pressures and the fiscal challenges of the government, tax reform is necessary and it must find means to better collect outstanding taxes and increase its revenue.
He said he believes VAT is one of several viable options.
Browne said the majority of people opposed to VAT are among the business community, who do not want to have to "open their books to the government".
"The noise that you hear in the market place is not so much from the people, and if it comes from the poor man, he is only saying what he hears someone else saying," he said.
The government plans to introduce VAT on July 1 at a rate of 15 percent in most cases and 10 percent in the hotel sector.
The government has said this is expected to raise an additional $200 million in annual revenue.

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Living her life without limits

March 04, 2014

Eight years ago, Megan Louise Sands suffered a horrific jet ski accident that resulted in her having to undergo a colostomy, a surgery that took a toll on her physically and emotionally. With support from family and friends, and through educating herself on her condition, she now lives a productive and normal life.
Sands recently completed the 26.2-mile Marathon Bahamas in less than five hours, a goal she set for herself, and proved that her life is not limited due to her ostomy -- a surgically created opening from an internal organ such as the intestine to an external point on the body usually in the abdomen. She now wants fellow ostomates (a person who has had one of three ostomies, colostomy, urostomy and ileostomy) to come to the realization that they can live their lives without limitations.
"No one should feel restricted due to an ostomy," said Sands. "I want to show people out there who are locked in their houses because they're too uncomfortable to go out in the community, that you pick to live life without limitation."
To that end, the 28-year-old has founded the Megan Louise Sands Ostomy Foundation, which she says will be devoted to raising funds to help individuals who have an ostomy and are economically disadvantaged and require both financial and emotional support. This is her way of giving back to people who weren't as fortunate as she was to receive emotional and financial support.
Her immediate goal is to create awareness by getting people talking and sparking positive conversations about ostomy.
One of the first events to be staged by the foundation will be a 5 kilometer fun/run walk on Sunday, May 18, starting at Montagu. Sands' goal is to raise $50,400 from the effort, from which 100 percent of the proceeds earmarked to help 24 ostomates through the foundation's Patient Assistance Program. It costs an average of $2,100 annually for supplies (pouches, wafers, skin prep wipes, remover wipes and paste) for one person and which are all essential items for people with an ostomy.
"I can attest from a personal experience of living with an ostomy that it is crucial to always have sufficient and proper supplies and that this can be extremely costly. Unfortunately, there are ostomates here in The Bahamas that are resorting to the 'Ziploc bag and tape' method due to a lack of finances," she said.
Sands said she could not have imagined her life if she had not had the proper supplies at her disposal. She said having them made her life a lot easier.
Education and awareness
Education and awareness is also high on her agenda for the foundation in Sands' vision, as she said too many people don't know about ostomies, or don't want to talk about it.
"It's not something people find easy to talk about -- regardless of whether it's affecting them personally, or it's someone that they know. If I talk to someone about it and say, 'ostomy or colostomy', they would usually have no idea what I'm talking about. I would usually have to say I wear a bag, and when I say that, people get it. Through the foundation, I just wanted to create awareness."
When she woke up in the hospital in 2006 after her accident, Sands was one of those people who did not know what an ostomy was, or how to take care of herself. Over the years she had to do a lot of research, and learn how to care for herself. She also had to educate herself on the options available and the fact that she did not have to restrict herself to using what she left the hospital with. She said she went though trial and error to make her own life more comfortable.
Today Sands utilizes a two-piece system (instead of a one-piece). She has an appliance that sticks to her stomach, and the actual bag. Over the years she's also had to endure lots of skin issues, because the appliance is stuck to her skin 24 hours a day and causes irritation. As she runs, she sweats a lot and goes through her supplies quicker than most people, so she has an appreciation for how costly it can be for people who are financially challenged. And without insurance, she says an ostomy patient can find that purchasing supplies can be costly.
Some common reasons someone may surgically have an ostomy created include cancer, Chron's disease, irritable bowel disease or trauma, such as an accident or a gunshot wound.
Sands, who says she's a lot more comfortable today with her lifestyle (going to the bathroom in a different way) than she was just a few years ago, said getting to where she is today was a "gradual breathing process" because immediately after her accident she was told it was possibly only temporary. Looking back, she said being told that did not help because she told herself that she could live her life as an ostomate in the short term. When she came to the realization that it would be more permanent, the then college student said it was hard for her. In the final analysis, Sands said what she has had to endure has made her a stronger person.
"When I moved home I got into running, and I set a goal to do the half marathon and I said if I could do that I would push myself and I did the full marathon in January. It was like if I could go through what I'd been through, then I could do all these other things, so it's made me a positive, more stronger person, but also to show that just because I have a colostomy doesn't mean that I can't do the things that I love to do."
Prior to her accident Sands had always been active -- she played tennis and ran -- even though she wasn't as serious a runner as she is today.
She said she decided to make the first event by the foundation a physical one to show ostomates who are locked in their homes that they can choose to live their life without limitation.
Sands, who has been working alongside Ostomy Nurse Dawn Albury to bring more of an awareness to the condition and erase the look of disgust people give ostomates because they don't fully understand, departs New Providence this week for a six-week course in the United States as she focuses on her foundation.
Sands, who has a master's degree in community mental health counseling and a bachelor's degree in psychology, says her classes also helped her during her ordeal. Eventually, she wants to host health seminars and have a meeting place for ostomates to be able to meet each other, in a support group setting.

1st Megan Louse Sands Ostomy Foundation Fun Run & Walk
When: Sunday, May 18
Starting point: Montagu
Time: 6:45 a.m.
Fee: $30 (tee-shirt included)
Registration: Opens April 21Registration locations: SOS Marine, East Bay Street, Green Parrot, East Bay Street, The Linen Shop, downtown and Studio Vivo, Sandyport Plaza

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Who is in the driver's seat

March 04, 2014

When you have a child, there is no denying that you need support, and lots of it. If you are lucky enough, you will get plenty of it. But when does lots of support become a total takeover, leaving you feeling like a back seat driver?
If you have lots of family and loves ones patiently waiting for the new arrival, with lots of recommended do's and don'ts, you are blessed. It is a beautiful time in a woman's life and generally family and friends join in, but it can also be a little intimidating for the first time mother. There are a few things we need to acknowledge in this dynamic -- oh yes, we're going to go there! First of all, mammas, remember this, you are the mother and no one has more influence (good and bad, I might add) on your child than you, as a parent. That being said, there are many ways to do things, and not every way is the best way for you. Making a decision to do things your way, is okay. Having a child means that it has become your right, and your turn, to parent. Let me warn you though, it can get a little rough.
So how do you accept the help without taking on the guilt that comes with wanting to take another parenting path? As new parents, we may have heard the wonderful, guilt tactics our loved ones use: "I raised you, and you came out just fine." Or, "I raised eight children on my own, and ain't nothing wrong with them." Or how about, "Fine. Don't do it my way. I guess you don't need my help since you seem to know everything."
It can be very hurtful and isolating, I know. But the reality is they are saying it with loving intentions. They want to show you how they did it as a matter of pride so that their ways pass on, for generations to come. After all, they love you and your baby, and they want to be a part of the whole dynamic. I believe that it's human nature.
Mothers, in-laws, aunts, grandmothers, etc. are used to being in the driver's seat. You may not be able to empathize with the driver's seat comparison but, understand that one day, you will have to give up the driver's seat as well, especially when one of your kids has children.
Support is shown in loving ways, not deciding and dictating what needs to happen, but rather a show and tell of options as to how things can be done. It makes the new mom feel that she has support when she needs it, and that she can feel comfortable to make her own decisions for herself and her baby.
I believe that when you leave the door open for conversation, and support, you will find that new mom becomes empowered, strong and confident. So make your decisions mamas, but find a way to state your position in a loving way. Let's be honest, it's hard to give up the driver's seat, so show some compassion.
Love & hugs!
o Bianca Carter is a certified lactation counselor (CLC), and founder of Bun in the Oven. For more information, give us a call at 601-6977 or visit us at the Harbour Bay Shopping Plaza, next to Starbucks. Follow us on Facebook at babybunintheoven, email us at info@babybunintheoven.com, visit us at www.babybunintheoven.com.

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Even turtles need their annual health checks

March 04, 2014

Not only humans need to get their annual health physical, as evidenced by the fact that Atlantis' Green Sea Turtles, located at the Hibiscus Lagoon in the Beach Tower, recently had to have their annual check-ups.
Resident veterinarian at the resort Eric Anderson made the "lagoon call" to give the large and weighty reptiles thorough physical examinations which include a check of each turtle's weight, body condition, eyes, ears, mouth, skin and shell for any issues. A full blood analysis was also conducted to evaluate overall health, while a spa-like sand scrub completed the experience so any accumulated algae can be removed. The scrub also helps to bring out the shell's natural colors.
Green Sea Turtles are reptiles whose ancestors evolved on land and took to the sea to live about 150 million years ago. They are one of the few species so ancient that they watched the dinosaurs evolve and become extinct.
Green Sea Turtles are large and weighty with a wide, smooth carapace (shell) and are named not for the color of their shells, which are normally brown or olive depending on their habitat, but for the greenish color of their skin.

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Violence and grief top themes in group therapy program

March 04, 2014

Throughout the more than 190 group therapy sessions "The Family: People Helping People Program" held since it received a research grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation in October 2013, to study its effectiveness, researchers have found that violence and grief were the two most resounding themes of Family discussions.
"The Family represents a microcosm of the entire country," Director of Research for the Family, Keva Bethell, said during a recent presentation on the program, entitled "Overt Themes Synopsis". "As such, it can be deduced that violence, and the grief associated with it, are two pertinent issues wreaking havoc in our society," she said.
Bethell added that people are sad about losing their loved ones to violence.
"If they're not provided the space and time needed to grieve, the sadness is repressed, and can later present itself as anger," she said. "Anger can cause people to go into a rage."
Founder of "The Family: People Helping People Program" Dr. David Allen, said that Family group sessions have centered on a number of various themes. However, it was observed that the following eight major themes seemed to be recurring -- suicide and depression; abuse -- sexual, physical, emotional and abuse via neglect; trauma; addiction; violence; economic hardship; infidelity and domestic violence and overcoming grief.
"After each session is conducted, the therapist or therapist facilitator writes a praxis that reviews the discussions during the sessions, the overt and covert themes of the discussion and a reflection," said Dr. Allen. "In an effort to plot the incidence of the eight major themes, all the praxis from the group sessions was reviewed. Each time one of the major themes appeared as an overt theme, the incidence was recorded."
Bethell said that violence and grief were the two most popular themes of Family sessions (16 percent and 15 percent, respectively). These were followed by abuse (10 percent), and suicide and depression (seven percent), trauma (five percent), addiction (four percent). Infidelity and domestic violence (four percent) were almost equally represented.
"Although it is undoubtedly an underlying issue, economic hardship was discussed the least amount of times during the sessions (one percent)," she pointed out. "Other themes such as anger, shame and forgiveness accounted for 38 percent of the discussions."
Bethell said that it is of note that abuse is the third most talked about issue in the sessions.
"Abuse victims are often left traumatized and depressed. Their lives are never the same, as it takes great pain, effort and time to put together the broken pieces of their life," said Bethell.
Dr. Allen added: "If trauma is not dealt with, life may go on; but a traumatized person can spend the rest of their life moving backwards -- in other words, looking back at the traumatic event, even though time is moving forward.
"Trying to move forward in life while facing backwards makes for a poor quality of life."
Despite the fact that free and confidential Family sessions are held in some of the most fragmented communities in the Bahamas -- such as Bain Town, Fox Hill and Kemp Road, economic hardship was the least talked about theme, the researchers pointed out.
"From this finding, one can conclude that people are not so much concerned with discussing their circumstances -- such as joblessness -- as they are their experiences, such as surviving a gunshot wound to the face," Bethell said. "As such, it is important that a space, such as The Family, be provided to allow people to work through their hurt and pain, under the guidance of trained therapists."
Dr. Allen said that offering the services free of charge proves to the "broken people of our Bahamian society" that someone still cares.
"As we continue to take a look into the shadows, the very moral fabric of our nation, it is important that we stand with people in their pain, and in so doing, form a communitas, that is, an environment in which we all care for each other equally," he said. "It is what the Africans call 'obuntu', which means that we all need each other, that is, 'Because you are, I am'."

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That dark line on your nail could be harmless or it could be cancer

March 04, 2014

Have you ever looked at your toenail and notice a dark line on the nail? Well, that mark can be harmless or it can be cancer. Get it checked out. Melanonychia (mel'-a -no-nik'-e-) is a tan, brown or black lengthwise streak or line on the nail plate. Melanonychia occurs because of increased production of melanin by melanocytes in the nail matrix (growing cells).
Melanonychia most commonly occurs in people with darker skin color. Among people of African heritage, "racial" melanonychia affects up to 77 percent of young adults over the age of 20 and almost 100 percent of those older than 50 years of age. The condition is less common in other races and affects males and females equally and increases with age. One or more of the toes may be involved but the big toe is the most common site for the melanonychia. Approximately two thirds of cases have a brown-black color, and one third of cases have a lighter color. The width of the band can vary from 1 millimeter to several millimeters. The bands are wider than 3 millimeters in greater than 50 percent of people. The wider and darker the bands are, the more concerning they are.
There are many causes of melanonychia including medications -- inflammatory disorders, trauma, fungal infections and systemic diseases. The most concerning cause of melanonychia is melanoma (cancer) of the nail. Thankfully only a small number of people with longitudinal melanonychia will have subungual (nail) melanoma.
Symptoms
Person with melanonychia will usually come to the doctor with a history of a tan, brown or black lengthwise streak or line on the nail that extends from the back of the nail or cuticle area to the free end of the nail. There is usually no pain, itching, or burning.
These streaks may be common and often people will say they had the dark bands on the nail for a long time. It is still recommended that they see a podiatrist to have it checked out anyway.
When you see the podiatrist, a careful history will be taken and will include information on the medications taken, past treatments, hobbies, illnesses, family history, any history of trauma to the area, prior history of a biopsy of the nail, number of nails affected, results of any prior nail clippings sent for examination under a microscope, results of cultures sent for infectious organisms, change of appearance of the band over time.
After seeing the podiatrist, they will most likely biopsy the nail to determine whether or not the melanonychia is benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). With these melanonychia there's no guarantee that it is benign unless you look at it under a microscope.
On the other hand with toenail melanoma, there is a long-standing history of melanonychia that recently changed in appearance. Changes that are cause for concern include changes in the color, pattern, or size of the band, new onset of pain or ulceration in the site of the melanonychia, or the presence of blood under the nail. Other signs of melanoma may be melanonychia developing abruptly in a previously normal nail plate and pigment streak getting suddenly darker or wider.
Treatment
For the majority of the cases of melanonychia there is no treatment needed.

When treatment is needed, it is based on the cause of the condition. If the melanonychia is secondary to a systemic condition and/or dermatologic disease, treatment of the underlying condition is helpful. If melanonychia is secondary to a drug, discontinuation of the offending agent may result in clearance. If there is any concern about the melanonychia being melanoma (cancerous) the podiatrist will perform a nail biopsy so it can be looked at under a microscope. After seeing the podiatrist and it is determined that the melanonychia is benign, it doesn't mean that it will always be harmless. Similar to a mole on the skin, the nail and the band should be checked regularly for changes that may indicate they are no longer harmless.
o If you have a streak on your toe nail and you are concerned about it, you should see a podiatrist to have it examined. For more information, visit www.foothealthfacts.org or to find a local podiatrist call or visit Bahamas Foot Centre on Rosetta Street, telephone 325-2996 or Bahamas Surgical Associates on Albury Lane, telephone 394-5824.

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The law and domestic violence

March 04, 2014

Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, dating abuse, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pattern of behavior which involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating or within the family. Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, battery), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation.
Many people suffer silently from domestic violence in one form or the other. This is either due to not being able to break out of the cycle of violence where they feel trapped, or not knowing what rights they have to protect themselves when they do decide to leave an abusive relationship.
Two forms of protection the law offers individuals leaving an abusive relationship or a circumstance of domestic violence are a protection order and a bind over order.
Often persons use the terms "protection orders" and "bind over orders" interchangeably but even when a distinction is drawn between both terms, it is not necessarily the right one.
The two terms have different meanings in Bahamian law, and anyone seeking protection whether by way of a protection order or a bind over order should be familiar with the difference. Only by knowing the difference does an individual know what their options are and also know what the parties have been ordered not to do, when a court order is given.
Protection order
A protection order is a far more extreme ruling of the court than a bind over order used to try to prevent domestic violence. It is this kind of order that many people refer to incorrectly as a "bind over order." Both of these orders attempt to restrain people (that is to have them bound over to keep the peace).
The purpose of a protection order is to protect the life, limb, and emotional well being of people who have been the victims of domestic violence, or who are at risk of such violence. Battered persons or emotionally abused persons may apply for them. In addition, parents of abused children can apply for them.
Protection orders usually prohibit one person from contacting, or getting near, one or more persons. For instance, a protection order may prevent an abuser from coming within 500 feet of the abused person, or within 500 feet of the children. If such a geographic restriction is included in a protection order, the protection order's circle of prohibition (the area where the person who is the subject of the order cannot go) moves with the person (or people) protected. Thus, a person with a protection order can have a 500-foot circle around them that their abuser cannot enter, no matter where he/she goes.
Protection orders usually have additional terms, including a general order not to commit acts of domestic violence.
Protection orders create what is really a new criminal law that applies to one person, the subject of the order. Violations can subject a person to contempt of court, but, far more importantly, violations are a criminal offense. Indeed, a protection order may often contain language addressed to law enforcement officials in the form of what is known as a penal notice, telling them to take violating offenders into custody. In The Bahamas, law enforcement officials can generally be counted on to do exactly that.
Both men and women can apply for a protection order. More protection orders are issued against men than against women.
Because protection orders restrain people's liberty -- by limiting where they can go, who they can call, who they can talk to, etc., they are rare, and a person asking for them has to meet a high standard.
First, no one can get a protection order in The Bahamas just on the belief, suspicion, or fear that domestic violence may occur. The person who is to be object of a protection order must have already committed one or more acts of domestic violence, and the person asking for a protection order must be able to prove it. However, the evidence that can prove domestic violence can be the victim's testimony, or the testimony of a witness.
The more evidence a party asking for a protection order has, the better chance of getting the protection order. Going to a doctor or hospital, after a prior assault, for instance, is good evidence that domestic violence has occurred. Similarly, a criminal arrest is helpful, but is not required.
The law recognizes that a person who has engaged in domestic violence in the past is more likely to do so again, as compared to a person who has never done so. But, the past is not a guarantee of future behavior. Therefore, a person asking for a protection order has to show past domestic violence, the risk of it and show the court that domestic violence is likely to occur in the future.
You do not need a lawyer to apply for a protection order. But, a lawyer is a very good idea if you think you need such an order.
An application for a protection order has complicated requirements, and the standard of proof is high. It is far better to have a lawyer on your side, to draft the request for a protection order, and to go to court and argue for the protection order on your behalf, including asking you questions in court. Your lawyer is also able to cross-examine the person claiming that there is no need for such an order.
A protection order is not needed to call the police if someone is in danger. If you are being threatened with violence, or are scared that violence may shortly occur, get help -- call 911, protection order or not.
Proving that someone violated a court-issued protection order, on the other hand, is relatively easy. Therefore victims are encouraged to seek protection orders which can prove to have more effective results than reporting incidents to the police and waiting for the Crown to prosecute abusers.
Protection order procedures
Protection orders should be applied for in the magistrate's court.
The person who is the object of a protection order will then have an opportunity to argue that there is no justification for the order. Eventually, the court will decide how long the protection order should last, or whether it should last.
Protection orders will not necessarily protect you. While protection orders are serious matters, and are generally taken very seriously, they are, in the end, a piece of paper. A violent person can choose to ignore a protection order, take his or her chances of going to jail, and attack someone. Just as laws against murder do not stop all murders, protection orders do not stop all people from committing further acts of domestic violence. They are however a strong deterrent.
Protection orders are useful, because they often stop people, and because they lead to better police responses. However, no one should consider themselves 100 percent safe because they succeeded in their efforts to get an order.
Bind over order
This term is used to describe the set of orders the court imposes on one or both of the parties in instances of "altercations" usually.
Bind over orders are not enforceable by the police. Rather, violations of these orders can be brought to the attention of the court, which has the power to order an offender to pay a fine, which is usually attached to the order, or in some instances jail, but the latter is very rare. Bahamian courts are more likely, at the first violation, to simply admonish the offender and tell them to behave better in the future. The court also has many interim sanctions, including fines.
Both protection orders and bind over orders are available from the Bahamian courts. Both restrict the liberty of the people they reach. However, protection orders are far more restrictive, and have far greater consequences in the event of a violation.
No one deserves to be abused. You have the right to be protected.
o If you would like to talk to someone about anything that is bothering you, please call 328-0922 or 322-4999. For more information check out our website at www.bahamascrisiscentre.org or contact us. Email us at bahamascrisiscentre@yahoo.com or call us.

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About 15 percent of tickets already sold for world relays

March 04, 2014

There's now just 81 days to go before the staging of the biggest athletics event to ever be held in The Bahamas, the IAAF World Relays, and tickets are disappearing fast.
According to Lionel Haven, managing director of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), approximately 3,500 tickets have already been sold. With only about 25,000 tickets up for grabs over the two days of competition, the public, particularly Bahamians, is urged to secure seats as soon as possible. Nearly 15 percent of the total space available to the public has already been earmarked. Additionally, the majority of tickets sold so far have been in the gold section - the part of the western grandstand of the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium closest to the finish line.
With that being said, Haven said that it is imperative that Bahamians recognize the importance of booking their tickets early, and not fall in the traditional "last-minute" category. Interested persons can obtain tickets online at bahamasworldrelays.org, or at the ticket booth at the stadium, which is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The inaugural International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Relay Championships is set for May 24-25 at the new national stadium. The event will get underway with The Bahamas' junior segment at 3:30 p.m. each day, on Saturday under the concept 'One Island, One Lane', and on Sunday under the approach 'One School, One Lane'. The top eight teams from the high school test event on May 9-10, will qualify for the 'One School, One Lane' races on Sunday May 25. As for the much-anticipated world relays, they will start at 5:30 p.m. sharp each day. The tickets sold will cover both the junior segment and the world relays for that particular day.
"Ticket sales are going tremendously well," said Haven yesterday. "It is an open shop, and that is why we are encouraging Bahamians to buy early. We are trying to get the Bahamians to come out in droves. We are encouraging you to wear your colors, and let's come out and show what Bahamian culture and ambience is all about."
Also yesterday, it was revealed that four national suppliers came on board in support of the global event, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC),
Bahamas Waste Ltd., and PharmaChem Technologies Ltd. out of Grand Bahama.
"The sponsors to this event is a major part of what we are doing, and we are very happy to have them here with us," said Haven. "This allows us, from a financial perspective, to meet our financial objectives, but more importantly, it allows us to put on the show that we intend to put on here in The Bahamas.
"It is very difficult for any event to run without the support of corporate citizens. What this event will provide to sponsors is unique, in the fact that it will take the sponsor's brand beyond the shores of our country. We have already tied down an international broadcaster, and we have received requests from over 100 broadcasting companies willing to broadcast this event in their respective countries, so this event is going to be seen around the world."
That international broadcaster is International Sports Broadcasting (ISB), an organization which usually provides live video feeds of competitions and ceremonies. The various official broadcasting companies in more than 100 countries could then tap into the feeds and air the respective programs live or on a taped delay in their respective markets.
There are currently two levels of sponsorship for the world relays - national partners and national suppliers. Coca-Cola, John Bull and Atlantic Medical Insurance Ltd. have come on board as the national partners thus far, and with yesterday's revelation, there are now four national suppliers.
"Our marketing team has done a fantastic job in getting the various companies to support this event," said Haven. "There are a couple others, who we are deep in discussion with, and we're in the process of finalizing those, but anyone who is interested is certainly free to contact us here at the stadium. Like I said, our marketing team has done a tremendous job, and so far, we are quite pleased at where we are at."
In terms of volunteers, about 800 in total will be needed to ensure the smooth running of the global event, and already, about 250 people have signed up. There was a volunteer recruitment drive this past Saturday at the Mall at Marathon.
"People are going to be needed to do a variety of things. In some areas, there will be a need for technical skills, a need for institutional knowledge, and a need for people with energy - plain and simple," said Haven. "Anyone who is interested in being a part of this wonderful event, feel free and register.
"There is going to be a vetting process to ensure that the persons who are registered will be categorized according to their skills, and there will be training so that they will know what is expected of them, and what they need to do. We certainly look forward to many Bahamians from all walks of life getting involved."
Just like ticket sales, volunteer registration can be done on the event's website, www.bahamasworldrelays.org.
"The Bahamas as the host is looking forward to this grand event," said Haven. "We have assembled an organizing committee that is unique to international events in this country. It is completely comprised of Bahamian professionals, who are going to ensure that this event is a success. We are excited, and we look forward to the support of the Bahamian public."
The Government of The Bahamas is investing millions of dollars into this global event. It is estimated that the work being done inside and around the stadium alone, will cost approximately $12 million.
"The government has been fully on board since day one," said Haven. "They are actively involved in every facet of our organization. This is truly a national event. The reputation of The Bahamas will be at stake, and the government is committed to presenting a spectacular product for the world to see, so that the image that exists at the end of this event is a positive one. Also, the media will play a vital role in the impression people in other countries will have of The Bahamas, so we will make sure that everything will be in place."
As far as the press is concerned, about 150 work stations complete with ethernet and wireless connections will be set up in the press tribune inside the stadium, and not too far away will be a main press center. Also, a spacious mixed zone, where written press and broadcasters can interview athletes and coaches, will be on the lower level near the finish line.
"This was important to us, because the press is not only here to cover the event. The press is our unmentioned international marketing arm because of the way they explain their experiences here in The Bahamas," said Venues Director for the IAAF World Relays Jeffrey Beckles. "Their stories tells a lot about The Bahamas, and a lot about our capacity to host events of this nature, so it is important to us to ensure that the press is properly accommodated."
Over the past 20 years, the relays have brought international acclaim to these islands, the bulk of global medals, be it at the Olympics or the world championships. As a result, Director of Sports Timothy Munnings said that it was only fitting that an event of this nature came to The Bahamas. He said that there will be no better time for Bahamians to show their support for our world-class athletes, than to come out to the world relays on May 24 and 25.
"We all know the long history of success The Bahamas has in the relays, and so it's just an exciting feeling to know that these world relays are going to be here in our backyard," said Munnings. "The enthusiasm and excitement that everyone feels when they watch the relay events on television can now be felt in the stadium right here in The Bahamas. The relays are normally the most exciting part of any championships. Hence they are the last events at any meet. The world's best athletes are coming here, but we want the world to know that this is our backyard, and we aren't going down without a fight. So, we are calling on everybody to come down to the stadium and just enjoy themselves. Go Team Bahamas!"
Munnings said that this a national event, and the effect of such could be felt long term. With that said, he encouraged all Bahamians, particularly the many volunteers to sell the islands of The Bahamas to the thousands of visitors, and promote a brand that will be attractive to the entire world.

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Basketball '40 Greatest' week of activities officially launched

March 04, 2014

The Ministry of Tourism is on board with the '40 Greatest' project planned by the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) for later this year. BBF President Charlie 'Softly' Robins admitted recently to being excited about the way the project has evolved.
"You know, I intended initially to just honor the '40 Greatest' as a part of our championship tournament in May. However, this thing has grown legs of its own and has become something very big. The first real understanding for me of the vastness of the concept was when the Minister of Tourism, Obie Wilchcombe, indicated clearly to me that his ministry will support the affair.
"He expressed himself on the project shortly after the news got out. In the following weeks the subject of the '40 Greatest' has become constant in the capital and the second city. My understanding is that even in the United States, people like Carter Lightbourne and Lynden Rose are enthused and prepared to be a part of the affair," said Robins.
Robins has named his secretary general Clifford Rahming as the point person. Rahming has had a series of meetings and according to him, the "structure of the week of activities" is almost complete.
"We have done a lot of work to date. Early on, the president used a small unit to jump-start the project. With the launch, now all of the executives and officers have pledged to play important roles. They will all have portfolios. We are ready to move and complete the structure for the week of activities, and we plan a grand time to be had by all, a fun time, an enjoyable period," said Rahming.
He informed also that 80 of the names to be considered will be announced during championship weekend in May and the final cut of 40 will be made public about two to three weeks before banquet night.
"We will do an elimination in conjunction with an accounting firm to get down to the 80 names. Then the process will continue to come up with the '40 Greatest' from which will come the top five players of all time," Rahming further disclosed.
The living basketball legend Mychal 'Sweet Bells' Thompson will be the special guest for the week of activities.
o To respond to this sports feature, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com.

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Morley swims personal best times in two events

March 04, 2014

Laura Morley, a Bahamian swimmer in her junior year at the Peddie School, in Hightstown, New Jersey, competed last weekend at the 114th Annual Eastern Interscholastic Swimming Championships, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Both the Peddie School girls and boys teams finished second against 46 other schools. Morley was one of the school's high point scorers at the meet, for the girls, finishing second in the 100 yards breaststroke in a personal best time of 1:04.42, which surpasses the All-American Consideration time standard.
Morley added a fifth-place finish in the 200 yards Individual Medley (IM) in another personal best time of 2:06.95. She also swam in the 400 yards freestyle relay and finished second, and the 200 yards medley relay, in which she finished fourth. Both relays surpassed the Automatic All-American time standards.
Peddie School's swim coach, Greg Wriede, said that "she did a great job this past season" and he "hopes she builds on it at CARIFTA."
Morley is now back to training in preparation for the 2014 CARIFTA Swimming Championships, which are scheduled for Savaneta, Aruba from April 22-25. This year, CARIFTA Swimming is FINA sanctioned, and Morley's goals are "to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games, and also the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Championships later in 2014."
This is Morley's final CARIFTA Swimming Championships. She is a member of the Swift Swimming Club, the winning team at the 2013 Bahamas National Swimming Championships.

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