Nassau Guardian Stories

Mitchell: Detention center bursting at the seams

August 26, 2014

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell said yesterday that Cabinet will soon announce several new initiatives to deal with the vexing issue of illegal migration, noting that the Carmichael Road Detention Centre is "bursting at the seams".
"It is a very important thing," he said of the reform, in the House of Assembly.
"It is to the point where, in some communities, people are on a knife's edge about this.
"It may be that some drastic measures will have to be taken unlike we have seen in recent years to try and bring this matter under control."
On Saturday, Royal Bahamas Defence Force officers spotted a Haitian sloop off Duncan Town, Ragged Island.
As a result, 105 Haitian migrants were apprehended, 76 men and 29 women.
Mitchell said the latest apprehension brings the total number of interdictions for August to 409.
He added that three Cubans were found at Wood Cay, near Mangrove Bush, Andros over the weekend.
But he said the Cubans were taken to Inagua, instead of the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
"The detention center is unable to hold any more," he said.
"It is actually bursting at the seams. But we expect that a repatriation flight will take place tomorrow, which will remove half of those individuals back to Port-au-Prince."
Mitchell said that eight of the migrants who were recently apprehended are children, who were repatriated less than a month ago.
"So what we have is a revolving door going on here," he said.
"We believe there are Bahamians that are driving this smuggling effort, which is coming in here.
"We are sitting with intelligence chiefs and try and figure out how these things can be interrupted. Within a couple of days, I'm hoping, with the leave of the Cabinet, to announce some new initiatives with regard to documentation to try and stop new people from making applications in this country after just jumping off the boat."

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Miller says BEC blackouts should be over

August 26, 2014

Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Executive Chairman Leslie Miller said yesterday that the corporation has rectified a damaged generater that caused recent blackouts on New Providence, but said he would not guarantee that similar outages would not happen again.
"Things happen. All you can do is apologize," Miller said outside the House of Assembly yesterday.
"Hopefully, moving forward, these things will not reoccur.
"I can't give [a] guarantee because engines go down from time to time. Hopefully we will be safe for the rest of the summer."
Last week, thousands of residents suffered significant inconveniences as a result of blackouts.
In a statement, BEC said lightning storms caused the failure of several units at the corporation's Clifton Pier Power Station.
The corporation said the damage to its supply affected several areas on the island, while several other communities were impacted as a direct result of lighting storms.
Miller said, over the last week, BEC rectified the problem with that generator, noting that specialists were brought in.
"On the weekend, we were at 250 megawatts," he said. "The demand was something like 220 megawatts. So we were 30 megawatts over.
"So right now we are in good shape."
Following the outage, Miller warned that the corporation may be forced to load shed if it could not get a generator at its Clifton Pier Power Station back online.
BEC officials said load shedding officially ended last week Friday.
The latest round of outages came less than three weeks after much of New Providence was plunged into darkness for hours.
During the past four weeks, there have been sporadic outages throughout New Providence for various reasons.
Businessman Franklyn Wilson has said that the current situation with BEC is "depressing" and harmful of "the human spirit".

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Christie defends missing VAT vote

August 26, 2014

Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday shot down suggestions from opposition members that he "ran away" from the vote on the Value-Added Tax (VAT) Bill in the House of Assembly and accused them of trying to score political points.
On Friday, Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said it was disgraceful that Christie wasn't present during the vote, considering that VAT represents a turning point for The Bahamas.
But Christie said he knew the vote was in good hands.
"As prime minister of the country, I have to make a judgment as to whether or not my presence is sufficiently important to remain," he told reporters yesterday.
"I knew that we had the majority to pass the VAT Bill. I knew that I had personally led the preparation for the country. I knew I had met with the private sector of The Bahamas in respect to that.
"I know that we have to do more to prepare the government before the January introduction. I'm in the process now of solidifying and improving the team and the capacity to deal with the legislation. And so my colleagues knew I wouldn't be there. I made my contribution and I left."
On Wednesday evening, Christie traveled to Las Vegas with Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe for the opening of a hotel and casino.
The VAT Bill passed with 22 yes votes, eight no votes and six absent.
The opposition voted against the bill.
Nonetheless, Minnis said, as minister of finance, Christie should have been present. He also suggested that Christie was absent during the vote because he didn't want the record to reflect that he was there when legislation was passed that would "lead to the destruction of the nation".
But Christie said he was working to bring new investment opportunities into the country.
"I happen to be the lead person when it comes to investment and when it comes to new innovations in government," he said. "We had very significant meetings, one of which was for me to meet with the owners of SLS, the new company coming in at [Baha Mar].
"...I wanted to encourage them because they were coming in at the last moment to take over a property."
Christie said he also met with former NBA player Rick Fox and other NBA promoters, who are interested in hosting "major promotions" in The Bahamas.
As for Minnis' suggestion that VAT will hurt the country, Christie said Minnis is wrong.
"The fact of the matter is VAT will become the law," he said. "It will come into effect in January. It will not have the negative impact that they say it's going to have. I'm going to make sure of that.
"When it comes to protection of the poor, we are going to have new levels of policing in terms of pricing and prices to protect the poor. We are going to be very specific in terms of what we put in place."
Several other politicians also criticized Christie for his absence, including FNM Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner and Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Deputy Leader Christopher Mortimer, who both said Christie's absence was a "crying shame".
The government will introduce VAT at a rate of 7.5 percent. According to government estimates, VAT will result in the collection of an additional $300 million in revenue annually.

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NEMA conducts shelter management training workshop

August 26, 2014

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in collaboration with Clinton Minnis Global (CMG), conducted a shelter management workshop at Temple Baptist Church, Farrington Road, on August 15 and 16.
The training courses are part of NEMA's ongoing objective to build disaster-resilient communities throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
The objectives were to certify members of CMG and the church as shelter managers and to assist NEMA in the 2014 hurricane season, in the event a storm is threatening the country.
The participants were Rev. Clinton Minnis, Martha Minnis, Rev. Eulease Brooks, Minister Lydia Wallace, Stefan Edgecombe, Rev. Deno Cartwright, Kenya Ferguson, Kendrick Knowles, Rusher Cargill, Edgar O. Moxey Jr., Lauriette Hinsey, Minister Wendy Russell, Lavita Thurston and Rodney Knowles.
Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell, Deputy Director in the Department of Social Services Wensworth Butler and Reverend Minnis, in their remarks, underscored the importance of acquiring shelter management skills to deal with residents who seek refuge in shelters during a storm.
The instructors were Luke Bethel, training officer, NEMA, assisted by Corporal 1100 Kendrick Brown of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

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What the future holds for Dr. Andre Rollins

August 26, 2014

Dear Editor,
The most popular politician in The Bahamas today is estranged Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) MP Dr. Andre Rollins. If Rollins was looking to achieve his 15 seconds of fame by openly defying Prime Minister Perry Christie, he has accomplished it.
Judging from his scathing anti-PLP rhetoric in Parliament and calls from several PLP politicians for his resignation from Parliament, it is safe to say that Rollins' relationship with Christie and Co. has become strained and acrimonious. Rollins' popularity has soared to rock stardom among opposition supporters, which is due to his anti-PLP rantings.
There have been rumors on Facebook of the Free National Movement (FNM) and Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leaders politicking for his membership in their respective parties. This rumor has also been published in a tabloid. Everybody is waiting with baited breath to see what will be Rollins' next move.
If Rollins decides to join one of the two main opposition parties, I am of the view that the DNA has the slight edge over the FNM for one glaring reason: Rollins' seeming inability to get along with FNM leader Dr. Hubert Minnis and Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner.
I cannot envisage Rollins as an FNM rendering deference to either Minnis or Butler-Turner or following FNM protocol. Recall that it was in June 2013 that Butler-Turner slapped Rollins in the House of Assembly after he allegedly whispered into her ear. Whatever he said to her, she obviously took grave offense to it.
Also recall that Rollins went off on a tangent at Minnis over some unsavory allegations regarding sexuality which were forwarded to a tabloid newspaper. I believe it was Leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly Dr. Bernard Nottage who intervened in the back-and-forth between Minnis and Rollins by adjoining the House of Assembly for a recess in order to diffuse the explosive situation.
Notwithstanding FNM Chairman Darron Cash's informal invitation to the embattled PLP MP to join the FNM, Rollins' contentious past with the FNM leadership in the House of Assembly is hard to dismiss or ignore. Of course, in today's political landscape, anything is possible. FNMs must exercise caution by not holding their collective breaths for Rollins to join their party. This is a scenario I just don't see happening.
Another scenario I don't see happening is Rollins remaining with the PLP, where he is clearly now a marked man. To many PLP hardliners, Rollins crossed the boundary by publicly calling into question Christie's leadership of the country. He had already stomped on his political coffin by opposing two bills in the constitutional amendment.
I think Rollins must surely appreciate the fact that he will not receive another PLP nomination. Even if he mends fences with Christie and the hierarchy of the government party and is nominated, it is not a given that the majority of PLP grassroots in Fort Charlotte would support him in 2017. Many PLP hardliners now see Rollins as an outsider and turncoat, who was only able to get into Parliament because Christie chose to leapfrog him over other potential PLP nominees who had been in the trenches for years.
Bear in mind that it was as recently as 2010 when Rollins contested the Elizabeth by-election as a standard bearer for his now defunct National Development Party against the PLP's Ryan Pinder and the FNM's Dr. Duane Sands. PLP hardliners are well aware of what the PLP has done for Rollins. Put bluntly, if he runs as a PLP in 2017, he will be crushed. And so Rollins now faces a fork in the road.
He can either become an independent or a DNA. Both options are not viable for a man seeking to extend his parliamentary career. Few independent candidates have been successful at the polls. Those fortunate to win were aided by the two major political parties when they chose not to run their candidates.
For example, in the 2002 general election, the PLP didn't field a candidate in Bamboo Town against then former FNM-turned-independent incumbent Tennyson Wells, who had a falling-out with Hubert Ingraham and the FNM. The PLP employed the same strategy that year in St. Margaret, with the view of assisting Pierre Dupuch against the FNM's Loretta Butler-Turner.
Also, the PLP did the same thing in Long Island when it stayed out of that contest against Larry Cartwright and the late FNM James Knowles. If Rollins runs as an independent, it will be to his own peril, as one can be certain that both the PLP and FNM will field candidates.
In the event Rollins joins the DNA, he must surely be aware of the Bahamian historic political landscape being strewn with the corpses of many third political parties which have failed to break through the clutter to success. The Bahamas Democratic Movement, the National Development Party, the Coalition for Democratic Reform, the Vanguard Party, the Workers Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Bahamas National Party, the Poor Powerful Peoples Party and the Labour Party are some of the minor political parties which are now all defunct.
Fort Charlotte is a PLP stronghold. Rollins' predecessor was Alfred Sears, who first won Fort Charlotte in 2002 after besting the FNM's Zhivargo Laing. Laing was MP in that area between 1997 and 2002. He defeated prominent PLP businessman and fundraiser Franklin Wilson in 1997. Sears represented Fort Charlotte for 10 years. He stepped down in 2012, making way for the young Rollins.
I say all that to say this: the PLP has won Fort Charlotte in 1992, 2002, 2007 and 2012. That's four victories in five contests. PLP political strategists are well aware of this. They know that their party could have won without Rollins. They also know that whomever they field in that area against an independent or DNA Rollins will either win or place second behind an FNM candidate.
In the final analysis, Fort Charlotte will either go to the PLP or the FNM. Rollins' possible defection to the DNA will have no bearing on the outcome of the contest in Fort Charlotte. Him joining the DNA will not hurt the PLP or the FNM. FNMs in 2017 will not again flirt with the DNA, as many of them who voted DNA in 2012 are now deeply regretting their decision. The DNA will not play spoiler in that race, as it did in 2012 when its candidate and former chairman Mark Humes got an impressive 519 votes. Laing got 1,973 votes - a mere 152 votes less than the 2,125 votes Rollins got. Had it not been for the DNA, Laing would have been the current MP for Fort Charlotte and nobody would have been discussing Rollins.
Perhaps even more annoying to the FNM is the fact that Humes is no longer an active member of the DNA, as he was asked to resign his chairmanship post in 2013 due to his inactivity. And so the outcome of that contest was immensely influenced by a man who may no longer have any interest for politics.
PLPs will not vote for Rollins, as many of them are peeved at him for his anti-PLP antics. They see him as one who is trying to wreck their party and the Christie administration. And so the talks of Rollins' possible defection to the DNA and its possible impact on the two major political parties are overblown.
- Kevin Evans

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A reminder of why energy sector reform is so vital

August 26, 2014

For the last two months, there have been blackouts and load shedding on New Providence. The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) has said the cause was either lightning strikes or faults with equipment.
The problem has been vexing for individuals and businesses. Companies without generators have had their operations paused until the power was restored. Homeowners have had to sweat it out for hours at a time. The residents of New Providence are frustrated.
Yesterday, BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller said the corporation has fixed one of its latest damaged generators that caused a blackout. However, he would not guarantee that similar outages would not happen again.
"Things happen. All you can do is apologize," Miller said outside the House of Assembly.
"Hopefully, moving forward, these things will not reoccur. I can't give [a] guarantee because engines go down from time to time. Hopefully, we will be safe for the rest of the summer."
Miller has moved away from the springtime promise of reliable supply this summer. He has even come to the pragmatic point of stating that they can't guarantee the lights will stay on.
BEC is the monopoly power provider on New Providence and for much of The Bahamas. It is bankrupt and unable to meet peak demand. Years of political mismanagement have brought the corporation to its knees.
The high cost of electricity has made it difficult for individuals and businesses to pay the corporation. We have heard that there are around 5,000 residential consumers without electricity. Recently, Miller, whose family business, too, has been unable to pay all it owes, said there are approximately 20,000 residential consumers whose bills are $5,000 or more.
"This is a very, very serious problem. Our accounts receivable is in excess of $130 million. About 75 percent of that is owed by homeowners," he said.
The government is in the process of considering proposals for reforming the local energy sector. No final decision has been made on the way forward, however.
This summer of discontent when it comes to the problems at BEC should be a reminder to the government of the urgency of proper energy reform. The Bahamas appears backward and a place not so desirable to invest in if it continues to have an unreliable power supply.
Businessman Franklyn Wilson has said that the current situation with BEC is "depressing" and harmful of "the human spirit". He is right, and thousands of Bahamians agree with him. We hope the problems of this summer help to accelerate the government's reform effort. The current state of affairs when it comes to power generation is near maddening.

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Confronting the real issue(s) in the gender equality debate pt. 2

August 25, 2014

This piece concludes a series that has sought to unravel some of the issues raised during the current debate on gender equality. The positive feedback and support from both men and women following the publication of the first part has been overwhelming and encouraging, signaling the fact that Bahamians understand what is at stake. It also confirms that our people know that which is right and are committed to fairness and equality.
The public discourse over the last few weeks has left many confused as to the actual topic in focus. This is because certain interest groups and persons have turned a simple discussion about granting Bahamian women the same rights as Bahamian men as well as gender equality for certain men into any and every thing including a performing arts theater, a court of law, a religious but not spiritual seminar and a forum for voicing concerns over illegal migration or homophobia or foreign persons. We conclude this two-part series by looking at the real issue(s) in this debate.
Distractions and irrelevant additions
One of the things we have mastered over the years is the art of adding irrelevant points to a debate. While the motivation for introducing distractions to public discourse include ignorance, a confused state of mind and a genuine concern, in some cases the underlying objective is to create mischief.
It is a well-known fact that in interpreting the law, the judiciary will often consider the provisions of the law and the intention of Parliament in promulgating a piece of legislation. The prime minister, attorney general, Constitutional Commission and other parliamentarians have clearly stated that the proposed amendments to our constitution to provide for gender equality will not change the definition of marriage under the relevant laws and will not allow for same-sex marriage in The Bahamas.
Dispelling the same-sex marriage bogeyman
In the event that this is not sufficient or there remains any doubt, reference needs to be made to the document that is the subject of the debate - the constitution. Article 26 of the constitution provides that "no law shall make any provision which is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect, except under prescribed circumstances which include laws with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other matters of personal law." In essence, unless this specific provision is altered, marriage will continue to be defined as a union between a man and a woman. Section 21 (1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act, Chapter 125 clearly states that a marriage shall be void if the parties are not respectively male and female.
Was this just aimed at further complicating the discussion or is it designed to invoke the emotions of Bahamians? If the commentators have genuine concerns as true Bahamians, they should just propose alternative wording which removes the ambiguity they felt existed in the draft bills, rather than make this an issue for controversy. The saying is ever so true that if a person is not a part of the solution, he or she is a part of the problem. We are seeking solutions, not just persons that specialize in highlighting problems. Now that the Constitutional Commission has decided to revise the wording of bills numbers two and for to address the genuine concerns of the Bahamian people, it is hoped that we will be able to put this matter to rest and continue with the education of our people.
An alternative to the proposed changes
An interesting proposal has also emerged in this debate and that is, rather than changing the constitution to give Bahamian women the same rights as Bahamian men, the constitution should be revised to take away the privileges which Bahamian men have enjoyed for four decades with a view to putting all of us in the same position. This proposal is flawed in that it ignores international standards and does not compensate Bahamian men and women for the 41 years of injustice and discrimination.
Additionally, the proposal begs the question as to where the inventors of this new solution have been hitherto. Were they so busy developing this plan aimed at righting the wrong of gender inequality for all these years? Could it be that their creativity and brilliance was aroused as soon as it became apparent that the government is seeking to address this issue? The logical conclusion seems to be that they have found their religion and voice at a strategic and convenient time to question why men were given these rights in the first place. Hence, rather than give the Bahamian woman what is rightfully hers, they have taken the view that Bahamians should no longer have this right if women want the same rights.
That being said, if the goal is to bring about true gender equality, an additional question should be posed to the populace at the referendum. The question should seek the views of Bahamians on whether the exclusive rights granted to men and denied to women in our constitution should be revoked to promote equality. In essence, the questions should be phrased such that the outcome is either an expansion of all constitutional rights to all Bahamians including women or reduction of existing rights given to men to put all Bahamians, regardless of gender on equal footing.
The government and the debate
It is important that the quality of the debate is maintained at a high level and we remain civil to one another in spite of differing views. We must not allow the discussion to deteriorate in depth and substance such that we lose sight of the ultimate objective of the current proposals. Our political leaders, the religious community, civic organizations, professional bodies and the media must play their part and be responsible in the dissemination of accurate information to the general public.
The government, for its part, should ensure that the education process is comprehensive and effective in enlightening the populace and allaying any fears or concerns. More importantly, the government should be open to constructive criticisms, genuine concerns and reasonable proposals for amendments to the draft bills aimed at providing clarity on the issues. The government should also engage and enlist the support of non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to pass its message along.
Conclusion
And so this piece concludes where it started; is the opposition to granting Bahamian women equal rights justified? It is apparent that the battle here is based on ideologies, complexes and loyalty to the status quo. Are we really progressive as a people or do we just delight in opposing any and everything? Are our Bahamian brothers secure enough to support an initiative that grants their Bahamian sisters equality? Do Bahamians trust Bahamian women to be patriotic and protect our cherished country and citizenship? If all the concerns are addressed and clarity provided, will we still vote against gender equality?
Once we have addressed the unclear aspects of the proposed bills, can we now move forward to have a sensible debate on gender equality in The Bahamas? If all the issues considered in this two part series have been ironed out, what stands in our way as Bahamians from doing that which is right? Is there an underlying issue or philosophy behind the opposition by some to gender equality in The Bahamas? This writer submits that those who oppose the principle of gender equality and equal rights for Bahamian women in particular have the mindset that Bahamian women are no more than chattel or property. These individuals believe that we, the Bahamian women, are inferior to men and lesser human beings than our male counterparts.
In the final analysis, the Bahamian women and the new generation of Bahamians will be watching and listening. It is said that action speaks louder than words. It is not enough to say with mere words that you support equal rights for women; you must prove it by your actions. In the words of the late Maya Angelou, we "will forget what you said and what you did, but we will never forget how you made us (the Bahamian women) feel" in our own country.
o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments on this article can be directed to a.s.komolafe510@gmail.com.

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Court documents overhaul caught up in legal wrangling

August 25, 2014

The government is presently in a court battle with a company over an alleged breach of a contract that was designed to enable the establishment of a searchable digital database of the Supreme Court cause lists, documents and files.
Further Guardian Business investigations into the deteriorated state of the Supreme Court Registry's cause lists, which attorneys last week described as "unforgivable", as it essentially renders the records "unreliable", have revealed that the government entered into a contract with Benchmark Publishing Company (BPC) to address the situation in 2011.
However, the digitalization effort came to a halt, with claims and counterclaims yet to be resolved in court. The company alleges its work was blocked because of breaches of undertakings by the government, while the government said the company did not do what was required of it.
In a case that has never previously been publicized, BPC is now claiming $560,000 in allegedly unpaid funds, along with further damages, while the government is seeking an unspecified amount in damages and costs.
BPC, in its submissions in that case, states that the contract awarded to it in 2011 was a continuation of earlier contract dating back over a number of years. The contract was to involve the scanning, conversion and electronic indexing of Supreme Court cause lists, documents and files, and to provide for the accessibility of the same via a searchable digital database.
In court documents obtained by Guardian Business, BPC sued the government for breach of contract and damages in November 2012 after it ceased paying the company in accordance with the contract in July 2012, two months after the election.
BPC is owned and operated by Aaron "Kiki" Knowles, a close friend and advisor of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. Its contract in 2011 was valued at $1.36 million.
In its defense and counterclaim, the Attorney General's office argues that Benchmark failed to admit in it statement of claim that the contract signed included a number of additional deliverables other than those mentioned. In addition, it asserted that the company failed to provide key deliverables demanded under the contract when they were due.
These included allegedly not delivering the digital images of all documents which have been filed in the Supreme Court Registry for the years 1857 to 2008 and a relational database of the cause lists which have been filed in the registry for the period 1857 to 2008. Among other claims, the government said that when documents were made available for scanning by BPC, the company failed to collect them.
The Attorney General's Office claimed $898,202 was paid to BPC, leaving $448,381 unpaid.
On its part, BPC claimed that around July 2012, it was informed that the registrar had "verbally informed staff not to turn over files for processing to BPC, in breach of contract".
"Despite a subsequent written assurance that all New Providence files would be granted to permit completion of the contract, the registrar persisted in said refusal," added Benchmark's claim.
This led to a "fundamental breach" of the contract between the two sides.
Further, by stopping BPC from fulfilling its contract, the registrar's actions were also blamed for effectively "den[denying] [Benchmark] the opportunity or chance to secure the contract" for later phases of the project, which were foreseen but dependent on the completion of the earlier phases.
Guardian Business understands that the matter has yet to proceed beyond the preliminary stages, suggesting it is far from being resolved.
In May 2013, the case took another turn when the Attorney General sought to stop Bethel, Moss and Co. from acting for BPC, on the basis that attorney and partner in the company, Carl Bethel, by his former role as a cabinet minister, had a conflict of interest and may also be "a potential witness" in the case.
They requested Bethel step aside, but on his part, Bethel said he saw no reason to and that he had "no personal interest in the subject or the litigation".
In October 2013, Justice Stephen Isaacs, turning to evidence provided to support for the Attorney General's case against Bethel acting for BPC, suggested he agreed, ruling against the Attorney Generals claim,
Isaacs said that all of the cases "address the attorney acting for a client against a part or entity with whom he had been engaged as attorney, or with whom he has been engaged in an official capacity."
"There is nothing...that suggests that Mr. Bethel acted for either party as attorney, nor is there any suggestion that he was exposed to confidential information at the time the contracts were struck," said Isaacs.
Isaacs added: "The cases referred to are of no assistance to the applicant as all of them analyze the relationship of lawyer and client. As Mr. Foulkes put it, a Cabinet minister does not act for anyone. It was not even suggested that Mr. Bethel was attorney general when the contracts were agreed, having held that post at one time."
Government position
In an interview last week following Guardian Business revelations of the current state of the Supreme Court cause lists, Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damien Gomez said that the government is "working feverishly" to address the problem, but noted that it is "difficult to give a time line" by which improvements will be completed.
He described addressing the state of the records as among the "whole purpose behind the physical overhaul" of the Ansbacher Building, which will allow the Supreme Court Registry to move into new quarters.
"That is intended to effect vast improvements to both criminal and civil matters and to provide us with a state-of-the-art registry. The actual physical construction is coming to a close and we would want to be judged as a society after we've moved in, as opposed to before."
As to specific efforts to upgrade the registry beyond the physical environs of the department, Gomez said that these will be "intensified" after the move into the new building has occurred. The building is intended to be finished in October of this year. He did not mention the court action.
However, attorneys have subsequently suggested that there is no reason to await the completion of the physical building in order to ensure work on improving access to, and preserving the integrity of, the cause lists and files in the court is completed.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior lawyer and partner at a major law firm called the current situation as it relates to the cause lists, files and judgments, as in "shambles" that marks The Bahamas as a "fifth-world country".
Meanwhile, some have suggested the amendment of legislation to allow for a statute of limitations to be effected with respect to Supreme Court judgments would help to improve the situation, which currently sees attorneys having to search through deteriorated court documents for judgments dating back many years. Under the law, this creates a lien against the property and impacts a judgment debtor's ability to sell the property.

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Banker: Give tax chief security of tenure and incentives

August 25, 2014

A top banker has called on the government to establish an independent official "who the politicians can't touch" who would be charged with overseeing the government's tax collection and who would be paid based on how much revenue he or she rakes in.
Gregory Bethel, president of Fidelity Bank, said that this, in conjunction with a push to increase The Bahamas' stop-over visitors to the 2 million-a-year mark, and raising taxes by "10 percent" to bring this nation's tax-to-GDP ratio up closer to the global average, would assist in getting the economy out of its weak state.
"We need to set it up like we set up the chief justice or the commissioner of police, so no Cabinet minister or MP can rattle their cage. And you give them a 10-year term, and you say 'My brother, your salary is $200,000 a year, but it can go up to $500,000 a year if you meet these targets'. And you cut them loose!" said Bethel of the need for an independent official charged with overseeing tax collection.
"The other thing this bold leader needs to do is set up a central revenue agency or IRS. Staff it with accountants and lawyers from the private sector. Give them targets. In other words, you pay them incentives to collect the taxes. My God, if we collect the taxes that are due, before VAT... There's nobody collecting taxes in a meaningful way and you need someone to head that agency who the politicians can't touch."
The banker was speaking on "Connected" on Guardian Talk Radio, with host Lester Cox yesterday morning.
In addition to addressing tax collection, Bethel said that he considers the current major challenge for the country's economy the need to increase stop-over arrivals from around 1.3 million to "over 2 million".
"So do some research, find where the people are, and who you can convince to come here.
"If you can get those 2 million visitors here then you will attract the FDI. See property developers don't come here unless tourists are coming here."
In recent years, The Bahamas has seen its tourist mix increasingly shift toward cruise visitors. While bumping up overall numbers, growing by 76 percent between 2000 and 2012, coming to make up 79 percent of total arrivals to The Bahamas in the latter year, cruise passengers are known for spending significantly less than stop-over visitors, given their short stay in the country and the all-inclusive nature of their packages onboard the cruise lines.
Sector representatives such as the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association have expressed concern about the swing away from stop-over visitors, toward cruise arrivals, and have pledged to work to even out the scales.
"If you can get those 2 million (stopover) visitors here then you will attract the FDI. See property developers don't come here unless tourists are coming here. Once that happens you create employment and revenue. So it's really, really simple," said Bethel.
Meanwhile, Bethel expressed concern over government expenditure.
"Our total economy is about $9 billion, and a well-run country has a total national debt that does not exceed 40 percent of the total value of the economy. Ours is up near 70 percent. That's way out of bounds, way out of bounds. And so we need to reduce that debt.
"How do you reduce debt? You grow the economy by getting those 2 million stop over visitors here, and you have to raise taxes; ours are too low. I'm sorry. Our rate of taxation as a percentage of our GDP is around 19 percent. The average around the world is around 30 percent. So we really need to increase our taxation by 10 percent. You don't do it all at once, you do it gradually," he said.

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'Substandard' post office in service 'death spiral'

August 25, 2014

The General Post Office has been condemned as in a "death spiral", amid ongoing criticism of inefficient service and lingering structural concerns.
Dionisio D'Aguilar, Superwash president and CEO and former president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, decried the "horrendous" condition of the post office while criticizing the government's inaction.
The leading businessman and others have complained of companies having to find ways to simply circumvent having to use the service.
"The post office is in a death spiral; it just needs someone to kill it...It's so lousy, so backwards, so antiquated... No money has been invested in the modernization of it," claimed D'Aguilar, noting that bringing the post office up to standard was not a top priority for the government.
"I think there has been no attempt whatsoever to put one dollar into the post office, other than to pay operating expenses... It's certainly not a priority for government. I think they virtually abandoned it, and so it bumbles along in its prehistoric state.
"It's a known fact that it's inefficient. It's slow in delivery and it's classic Bahamas government. It just bumbles along, offering substandard service to the consumers. [The government] is only interested in maintaining the status quo and doing nothing innovative or interesting, and so that's where it remains," said D'Aguilar.
Aside from the continued delivery and processing problems, D'Aguilar decried the structural condition of the General Post Office building, and called for it to be demolished over safety concerns.
"The building needs to be condemned and demolished... It's just dangerous," stated D'Aguilar.
However, D'Aguilar acknowledged that businesses had largely sidestepped the issue through alternative methods of delivery,including customer pick-ups and courier services.
"People don't complain about it because there are alternatives. Businesses have alternatives so they just bypass it, but it's a pain," said D'Aguilar, adding that the privatization of the postal service offered the best solution given the service's current state.
Another local businessman, who asked to remain unnamed, similarly felt that businesses had been forced to take measures into their own hands due to frequent delays with the postal service.
"A lot of our customers are actually requesting pick-ups instead of mailing because it takes so long. We're doing a lot of pick-ups for our checks and payments because it's just not getting to us," said the source.
Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin was not available for comment up to press time. However, Hanna-Martin earlier acknowledged that the building had fallen into disrepair over the years after staff was relocated due to structural problems in April.
Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) Secretary General S.J. Miller last year claimed that the building posed "serious health and safety problems" for its employees.
"The government has got too many fires to fight right now. It's just not an issue for them. It's way down the list," stated D'Aguilar.

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FS outlines VAT education steps

August 25, 2014

The government has revealed some of the first details of its value-added tax (VAT) educational programs, which aim to provide both local businesses and consumers with "expansion and clarification" of the government's VAT policies as the tax's introduction date approaches.
In an interview with Guardian Business, Financial Secretary John Rolle confirmed that the government will electronically circulate a host of industry-specific VAT guidelines for business owners and brochures for consumers on the government website later this week.
"We have developed very detailed guidelines for the various sectors, which we will put out this week. This is the second round of interaction with the business community to provide expansion and clarification...which will supplement the general VAT guide," stated Rolle.
While Rolle remained confident that the government's programs would adequately prepare the country for VAT, he acknowledged that time constraints posed a serious threat with only four months until the tax is introduced.
"It's very timely because we're getting many inquiries...We want everyone to be comfortable and sufficiently knowledgeable about VAT before January," said Rolle.
VAT will be implemented on January 1, 2015 at a rate of 7.5 percent.
Rolle added that the government would work closely with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation's (BCCEC) Chamber Institute and the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) to further prepare businesses.
"Coordination with this education campaign is needed for the business community. The operations side of VAT is an area where we will be providing a very structured program.
"From the consumer side, we will be releasing more brochures outlining how VAT is to affect them. These will focus on the consumer empowerment aspect of the framework in terms of what the consumers need to look out for, what to expect and who will be legally allowed to charge them VAT," claimed Rolle.
While BCCEC CEO Edison Sumner was unavailable to provide specific details of the Chamber Institute's program, he noted last week that the Chamber Institute had submitted its educational proposal to the government, which Rolle confirmed yesterday.
"It's still in the proposal form. We will work with them to make sure that the content of the seminars is fully aligned with the VAT guidelines. We want to be present and assist if possible but it's their initiative," said Rolle, adding that the government would assist with chamber and private sponsor workshops leading up to January.
Transition phase
Rolle also confirmed that the government was working closely with the Customs Department in establishing a "transition" phase for imports leading up to January 1 that would allow businesses to earn some VAT credit for goods with pending duty rate decreases.
"During the two months before January, VAT registered businesses can track their inventory, and for any items that they acquire in those two months that are not sold (and subject to duty rate decreases), there will be a procedure where they can claim some credit against their VAT for those items," stated Rolle.
Among the list of items subject to duty drops effective January 1 are various building supplies, articles of clothing, food supplies and household appliances.
Rolle additionally responded to concerns raised last week over the logistical difficulties of implementing VAT in the Family Islands, claiming that the government would soon hold VAT orientation programs for Family Island administrators.
"It's very important for us to get into the Family Islands. We will hold orientation in New Providence within the next two weeks, maybe as early as this weekend, and begin to equip [administrators] as leaders in their communities to answer basic VAT questions. Working with them is integral in how we organize our outreach."

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Wilson: 'Multi-fuel' approach to power most strategic

August 25, 2014

Franklyn Wilson, chairman of FOCOL Holdings, has thrown his support behind the government selecting a company which will implement a "multi-fuel" approach to electricity generation as part of its efforts to reform the Bahamas Electricity Corporation and reduce power costs.
Wilson was contacted to respond to comments made by Chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) Robert Myers indicating that the chamber views the implementation of natural gas-fueled generation as the "preference" for The Bahamas based on evidence.
Wilson said: "Fuel circumstances change over time, and what might be the fuel of choice at a particular time for an extended period may not be the fuel of choice permanently, so as a general concept I think the way power plants are moving, in terms of its approach to technology and the use of fuels, is for flexibility," he said.
In 2013, Wilson said that FOCOL, along with the Grand Bahama Power Company's major shareholder, Emera, and electrical turbine manufacturer, Wartsila, submitted a joint venture bid to construct a 100 megawatt multi-fuel power plant to relieve BEC of some of its generation responsibilities.
Following the announcement of the BEC RFP process, Wilson confirmed the company would not be participating, but would still continue to offer to any winning bidder in the BEC transmission and distribution management contract a power-purchase agreement (PPA).
Wilson touted the plant's potential to save the country $100 million in energy costs per annum.
Asked last week about the status of this bid for involvement, Wilson said that it is "still there" but he said no active discussions have been underway.
"We understand the government's going through this process, and if they are interested, we're available. Our interest has not changed."
Recently, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation commissioned a study from Oxford Economics, a U.K.-based consultancy, showing the economic impact of the installation of a new diesel fired power plant, a power plant fueled by liquified natural gas shipping to The Bahamas, and a power plant fueled by LNG piped to The Bahamas through a specially constructed pipeline from Florida.
Over its 25-year life and two-year construction period, the report proposed that the knock-on economic impact of a power plant fueled by diesel would generate an additional $10.1 billion in economic growth for the country; a plant fueled by piped LNG would generate an additional over $25 billion, said the consultants.
Natural gas has fallen in price in recent years, thanks to the success of U.S. efforts to tap into this abundant resource.
Commenting on the results of the report, which the BCCEC was able to generate by partnering with one of the bidders in the BEC reform process, Myers said: "The numbers with whatever form, diesel, or gas - gas being the preference - the reductions in costs to the consumer, the government and the public, are massive. The knock-on implications are even larger; you become more competitive, you've got considerably more disposable income now left at the feet of government and the public, so that will have a positive impact on GDP and it will counter balance, to a great degree, VAT."
In June, Guardian Business reported that the two unions representing BEC workers - The Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) and the Bahamas Electrical Workers Managerial Union (BEWMU) - came out in favor of the government selecting a provider to take over power generation in the country who would do so through the use of natural gas.
Presidents of the unions, Paul Maynard and Clinton Minnis, suggested that no significant good can come of the BEC reform effort unless the current bunker C fuel is substituted for natural gas.
"We have sent a letter to the prime minister, encouraging him to move this country forward wholly into the 21st century and the first world by going natural gas, so these bills can be cut in half to re-energize this economy," said Maynard.

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RBC branch closure to lead to job losses

August 25, 2014

A planned relocation and consolidation of the Paradise Island branch of the Royal Bank of Canada (Bahamas) will lead to staff redundancies, the bank has stated.
The branch will be consolidated with RBC's main branch on Bay Street as part of RBC's strategy to reconfigure its branch network to gain efficiencies within its operations.
"Like all businesses, we constantly evaluate our operations to ensure we continue to match our service capabilities with the needs of our customers," said Nathaniel Beneby, managing director, RBC Royal Bank, The Bahamas, Cayman and Turks and Caicos Islands.
"These decisions are part of RBC's strategy to better serve our clients, while operating more efficiently. We are fully committed to ensuring a smooth, uninterrupted transfer of our customers' bank accounts," Beneby added.
Clients of the Paradise Island branch are being advised by mail and/or in branch signage of the consolidation with RBC's main branch on Bay Street. They have been given the option to have their accounts automatically transferred to RBC's main branch or to transfer their accounts to any of RBC's nine convenient locations in New Providence. For added convenience to clients, an automatic banking machine will remain at the Paradise Island location for an extended period.
Safe deposit box renters will be contacted in due course with information about the relocation of their boxes.
Confirming that the closure of the Paradise Island branch will result in some job redundancies at that location, RBC said in its statement that it is committed to ensuring that all team members affected are "treated with respect, dignity and compassion". The bank said it will work with all impacted employees to find ways in which it can support their careers going forward, whether within RBC or elsewhere.
"We believe this consolidation of the Paradise Island branch with main branch Bay Street, will support the long-term sustainability of our operations in The Bahamas," said Beneby.
The bank declined to comment on how many staff would be affected by the closure.

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GBPC seeking to improve reliability

August 25, 2014

The Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC), as part of its transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure investments, has launched a preventative maintenance program in communities across the island.
The program focuses on specific areas with a history of power-related issues and also encompasses regular testing and maintenance of key pieces of equipment such as transformers, circuit breakers, batteries and switches.
The company maintains that service reliability depends on a robust, well-maintained T&D system, and that preventative maintenance is critical to ensuring that connections and equipment are properly maintained and operating at optimal levels across the T&D system.
In a statement, GBPC said the communities of Ariel Place and Holmes Rock were two areas that have benefited from the preventative maintenance program. GBPC crews spent over a week working diligently on trimming trees, changing out transformers and hardware, fixing connections and facilitating major infrastructure upgrades and equipment replacements.
To date, GBPC has made substantial investments in finances, resources and training to improve the reliability of the company's transmission and distribution system, resulting in a 51 percent improvement in both the frequency and duration of power outages, it claimed.
In 2011, GBPC put forward a three point plan to address system reliability, generation efficiency and the need to incorporate renewable generation into its energy portfolio.

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Minister: 'ICON' to make Bahamas 'dominant'

August 25, 2014

Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder has argued that the proposed Investment Condominium (ICON) Bill will cause The Bahamas to become "dominant" in the funds sector, while attracting substantial investment from Latin America.
Presenting the second reading of the bill in the House of Assembly yesterday, Pinder claimed that the legislation will further increase The Bahamas' "visibility" in Brazil and Latin America.
"The ICON Bill is an innovative and dynamic piece of legislation and one that ensures we remain relevant as a funds jurisdiction of choice... It is another example of The Bahamas' never-ending commitment to be first-in-class in the provision of market responsive regulated and sophisticated products," said Pinder.
The ICON Bill was modeled after the success story of the Brazilian condominium, which holds over 13,000 hedge funds. The bill would provide an alternative legal structure for investment funds that is inherently familiar to those in Brazil and other Latin American countries, and would be fully compliant with Brazilian laws in an attempt to target Brazil and Latin America's lucrative investment funds market.
Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis also strongly supported the bill, stating, "The development of this legislation represents a further step...in keeping the Bahamian financial services jurisdiction abreast of the competition".
Although the legislation was modeled after the Brazilian ICON, Pinder hoped that the Bahamian ICON would attract business beyond Brazil.
"We are extremely encouraged by the interest that has been shown in the investment condominium from Brazil. However, this product is not only Brazil targeted...keen interest has been shown from advisors targeting Mexico and Peru as well as Chile.
"The regulators and the financial services community have begun in earnest to initiate local awareness of the ICON and will continue to educate and inform end users over the ensuing months and years," said Pinder.
The Bahamian ICON legislation allows for the conversion of an existing Bahamian international business company (IBC), exempted limited partnership (ELP) or unit trust (UT) into an ICON.
Pinder earlier described the ICON as a "revolutionary step" in developing the Bahamian financial services sector.
However, Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn took issue with the bill, arguing that the House had not been given enough time to give it proper consideration.

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Hotel occupancy up 'tremendously' in Grand Bahama

August 25, 2014

Grand Bahama has seen growth in hotel occupancy levels over the past six months, the Ministry of Tourism has confirmed.
According to the latest data released by the Department of Statistics, between January and July 2013, 136,262 rooms were occupied in Grand Bahama.
In the same period in 2014, 203,446 rooms were occupied - a difference of 67,184.
In terms of percentage, between January and July 2013 Grand Bahama had an occupancy level of 49.52 percent.
During the same period this year, Grand Bahama had an occupancy level of 56.23 percent - reflecting growth of 6.71 percent.
Room revenue also grew over the six-month period.
Between January and July 2013, room revenue was recorded at $12,087,072.58.
That number grew to $16,425,811.47 - a difference of $4,338,738.89 or 35.90 percent.
Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe said this improvement is only the beginning of great things happening in Grand Bahama.
"Grand Bahama has shown tremendous improvement over the past seven months and it continues to improve," he said.
"With continued focus and determined efforts, Grand Bahama will return to its glory days and by extension The Bahamas will regain its place as the premier global destination."
As earlier reported by Guardian Business, Grand Bahama's growth in air arrivals has been partially offset by a fall in its sea arrivals. Overall air arrivals were up 33.2 percent for the first four months, while sea arrivals fell by 30.7 percent.

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Your child's feet

August 25, 2014

Every child is special, and so are their feet; just as children cannot be treated as little adults, neither can their feet.
Children's feet are different from adults' feet because they are not yet fully formed. At birth and in early childhood, the feet are fat, round and floppy and will eventually grow and change into the shape we recognize as normal feet. At six months of age, the child's foot is still mostly cartilage, and the final bones do not start to form from cartilage until they are three years old. A child's foot will double in size by the age of one and is approximately half their adult length by 18 months. By age 18 months, most bones in the body are fully formed.
During this period of development, a child's foot is flexible and is at risk for injury and deformity due to abnormal pressures from ill-fitting shoes. Care should be taken when choosing shoe types and shoe fitting for children.
Nearly all children appear to have flat feet when they first start walking. This is partly due to posture and is associated with fatty deposits in the foot. When babies walk, they have to balance a relatively large head and torso, so they walk with the knees bent, legs wide apart and the feet turned outwards. Parents are often anxious about when their child will walk but they must know their baby will walk when they are ready to walk.
The average age to begin walking is 10 to 15 months. When your child first begins to walk, shoes are not necessary indoors. However, when walking outside or on rough surfaces, the baby's feet should be protected in lightweight, flexible footwear made of natural materials. On average, children's feet grow two sizes per year in the first four years of life and one size per year thereafter until growth is complete around age 14. This is not written in stone, however, and sometimes a child's foot may not grow for a considerable period of time and then grow several sizes in a short period.
Many of the problems found on children's feet are associated with growth, overuse, weight gain and postural changes. Genetics also play a crucial role in the development of your child's feet. Some children walk with their toes pointing inwards (in-toeing) and some outwards (out-toeing), and others walk on their toes (toe-walking). It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of children have flat feet. Most children grow out of in-toeing, out-toeing and toe-walking by 24 months of age. If the child's feet are causing pain, discomfort or affecting mobility, this is not normal and all children with foot pain and any persistent foot complaint should be seen by a podiatrist.
When to see a podiatrist
Outside of foot structure, the main cause of foot problems and possible deformities is ill-fitting footwear. If you notice any of the following problems with your children's feet, they should be taken to see a podiatrist. Foot problems may include foot, leg or heel pain, swelling, limping, flat feet, foot deformities, skin rashes, hard skin, lumps or bumps on the feet, nail complaints, tripping or stumbling, child not wanting to walk and asking to be carried instead. It is best to make an appointment to see your podiatrist if you have any of these concerns, other concerns or questions about your child's feet. The podiatrist can help your child by providing a comprehensive examination, diagnosis of any foot problems, and then either managing the condition or referring to an appropriate consultant. Treatment may take the form of footwear prescription or advice, including assessing how the foot functions, orthoses (special insoles) to be worn in shoes, casting, etc. Researchers have found that giving correctional foot support to children with insoles or orthotics between the ages of two and five years of age can significantly improve mature foot development. After age five, correctional support can help, but there can be no more changes to the basic foot structure.
Parents can help care for their children's feet by following these tips:
o Always have your child's feet measured for length and width before buying shoes. Always fit shoes with the child standing, because the foot spreads on weight-bearing.
o Check the size of their socks and shoes regularly for fit, condition and wear. Check shoe sizes every one to three months up to age three, every four months to age five, every six months from five years onwards.
o If possible, do not put your child in the same shoes every day. Alternate the child's shoes to allow them to dry out, especially if the feet are sweaty.
o Be especially careful and observe the feet after wearing new shoes; they can cause blisters and sores if they don't fit properly.
o Inspect feet regularly for inflamed nails, red pressure areas on the top of the toes, below the ankle bones and at the back of the heel.
o Good foot hygiene is vital. Wash their feet daily with simple soap and water and dry well, particularly between the toes. After drying, a small amount of talcum powder or moisturizer can be used. Children have naturally sweaty feet, but smelly feet may be an indication of poor hygiene or an infection.
o The toenails should be inspected regularly and trimmed as required. Cut the nails straight across and never cut down into the corners or cut them too short.
o For more information email us at foothealth242@hotmail.com or visit www.apma.org. To see a podiatrist visit Bahamas Foot Centre, Rosetta Street, telephone 325-2996 or visit Bahamas Surgical Associates, Albury Lane, telephone 394-5820 for an appointment.

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You can't go back

August 25, 2014

The statement made in the title of today's article is a most important one for everyone to get embedded in their consciousness 'You Can't Go Back'.....no you can't; and yet many keep trying to, day after day. Yes indeed, I believe, that we're all inclined to do this every now and then, that is try to go back and thus enjoy the same kind of emotions and experience we did some time ago.
For example: I was visiting with a good friend a while back in his home, and we were just 'Shooting The Breeze', as the saying goes. I was talking with great pride about my Granddaughter who is doing real well in competitive swimming. Actually, she had recently returned from Barbados where she competed for The Bahamas in The Caribbean International Swimming Championships winning four medals.
When I mentioned that, he said that he was involved in Athletics when he was young, and was quite good. Then he said "I always wish I had pursued Athletics more seriously when I was young, perhaps I could have won a scholarship and then gone to college. If I had done that, my life would be a whole lot better today than it is". I immediately said to my friend, thinking like that is a most destructive thing to do because as today's title puts it 'You Can't Go Back'.....no you can't.
Let's face it, we're all inclined to do this at times, that is to wish that we could go back in time and relive our life in some ways differently so that we could produce some different results than those obtained to date. But My Friend, let's face it, we simply cannot go back and relive our lives. So, thinking in this manner is indeed most counter-productive.
Many years ago, I met a very beautiful lady from the Philippines, in Hong Kong and fell madly in love with her. Actually, we were going to get engaged and eventually planned on getting married. However, it just didn't work out as planned. I didn't see her or have any contact with her for a very long time, and then one day I discovered her on Facebook and my heart raced. I was literally high for a couple of days as I started to think about the relationship, could it be rekindled. However, to cut a long story short, it wasn't and my spirits were dashed again.
Eventually, I had to remind myself that the past is over, 'You Can't Go Back' and that my happiness and success lies in The Now. My Friend, please don't try to go back in time and try to fool yourself into believing that you can live in The Past.....because you can't!

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com
Listen to 'Time to Think' the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m & 6:20 p.m.

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Strikers headed to boxing tournament in Georgia

August 25, 2014

The Strikers Boxing Club has been active in the country for quite a while, and just last Friday, the club wrapped up its second training camp of the summer. The camp was held at the Strikers Boxing Facility in the Golden Gates Shopping Centre.
Long-time friend of the Strikers Boxing Club and Head Coach of the Orlando Boxing Academy Jose Cruz assisted Strikers Coach Ronn Rodgers with the boxers' everyday training. He also brought three fighters with him from the New York area to help the Bahamian fighters get ready for their trip to Georgia this week. Cruz has been instrumental in bringing fighters to the island to make sure the Bahamian boxers are pushed to their limits, and not remaining complacent.
"We had a meeting at the end of the camp, and Mr. Cruz said something that really stood out to me. He said all coaches want and need one fighter to walk into their gym that has the talent to be a champion and they focus all of their energy on that one fighter, because they know that their club can make a lot of money from that one champion. He then added that you guys have five or six guys here with that kind of potential and that's unheard of," said Rodgers. "He saw the talent level here and really wants to be a part of this. He also wants to come down and help me coach these young boxers."
Strikers has assembled a five-member team to compete in the Title Boxing World Championships in Georgia that begin on Friday. The boxers traveling include Tyrone Oliver, Amron Sands, Israel Johnson, Kendrick Stuart and Deangelo Swaby.
Those five were in action at "The Chosen Ones" Boxing Show that Strikers put on in July, and although only Sands was victorious, each of the fighters looked much improved from their sparring sessions earlier in the year.
Rodgers wanted the camp to be solely based on sparring because of how sharp his fighters have become since sparring with high-level competition. Each of the three fighters that traveled to the country were champions in their respective weight classes.
"When we first started bringing down foreign fighters to compete against our boys here at Strikers, you could see that their level was a little more advanced than ours. They were a lot better than our boys the first time they came down to train. You could see the difference in their technicality, confidence and the difference in experience level. A month later we brought them in again to fight against us, and the growth of our boys was so great that we beat them," said Rodgers. "We had some fighters from New York in earlier in the summer and we were able to beat them, and then we had another camp and our boys basically owned the training camp, and looked much better than the foreigners did. We also watch videos of our sessions to try and gain more wisdom from them."
The Bahamian fighters will be competing in the bantamweight, middleweight and super middleweight divisions.

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AID Clay Court Championships come to an end at Gym Tennis Club

August 25, 2014

The AID Clay Court Championships concluded on Sunday afternoon at the Gym Tennis Club in Winton Meadows, with Larry Rolle successfully defending his title in the Jr. Vets singles division with a come-from-behind win over Brent Johnson.
Johnson jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead as Rolle seemed unable to handle Johnson's heavy topspin shots. However, Rolle soon found the answer and, after Johnson appeared to tire, reeled of six straight games to take the first set, 6-3.
The second set was a much closer affair with Johnson actually serving for the set at 5-4, but he was unable to hold on. Rolle equalized and eventually forced a tiebreak at 6-6 which he then finished off seven points to five to take the match in two sets, 6-3 and 7-6 (5).
Other winners during the two-week tournament were: Kevin Major Jr. (men's open singles and mixed doubles); Jamal Adderley and Ceron Rolle (men's open doubles); Austin Burrows and Sean Cartwright (men's Jr. vets doubles); and Danielle Thompson (women's singles, women's doubles with Marion Bain and mixed doubles).
Harold Watson, president and managing director of Automotive Industrial Distributors (AID) Ltd., presented attractive trophies and other prizes to the winners and runners-up, and pledged AID's continued sponsorship of this premier event into the foreseeable future.

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