Nassau Guardian Stories

CARICOM, Cuba call for post-2015 focus on SIDS

December 15, 2014

The Bahamas is among the 15 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states that signed the Havana Declaration which came out of the Fifth CARICOM-Cuba Summit last week. The declaration calls specific attention to the status of CARICOM states and Cuba as small island developing states (SIDS) and speaks to the "enormous" challenges faced by countries in the region in regards to development, calling for a universal, open and inclusive post-2015 development agenda.
As 2015 approaches, the world is considering the status of the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) -- a set of eight goals ranging from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 -- and looking to build on the MDG momentum and move forward with an ambitious post-2015 development agenda. The development agenda has been an extraordinary galvanizer of unified action, but the ability of SIDS to meet the MDGs has been recognized as a matter of concern given their economic challenges.
The United Nations (UN) notes that SIDS include low-lying coastal countries that share similar sustainable development challenges, including small population, limited resources, remoteness, susceptibility to natural disasters, vulnerability to external shocks and excessive dependence on international trade. According to the UN, their growth and development is often
further stymied by high transportation and communication costs, disproportionately expensive public administration and infrastructure due to their small size and little to no opportunity to create economies of scale.
Fifty-one (51) small island developing States and territories are included in the list used by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in monitoring the sustainable development of SIDS. These States and territories often work together in the United Nations through the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
In focusing on the plight of SIDS, the Havana Declaration -- signed by heads of state from the Caribbean Community including Prime Minister Perry Christie and Cuba's President Raul Castro -- called for an agenda focused on the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.
"In this context, we stress that said agenda must respond to the special needs of small developing states, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDS), in accordance with their respective national laws and development priorities in respect to attaining sustainable development. The Agenda should also incorporate all elements conducive to Sustainable Development, in particular culture, which must be a cross-cutting issue of the agenda and with respect to which specific goals in the relevant objectives must be included," heads agreed.
Heads also affirmed that even though middle-income countries in the Caribbean region have achieved significant advances in fulfilling the millennium development goals, those states still face enormous challenges in development, including those derived from the nature of being small islands and those related with climate change.
"In this context, we reiterate our call to adopt indicators that suitably reflect the realities of middle-income countries and, in particular, the specific problems of the Caribbean States, considering that the current criteria referring to average incomes, especially the criteria of per capita income indicators, do not reflect the multidimensional effects of poverty, inequality and vulnerability," heads noted.

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CAB urges Caribbean govt to sign IGAs

December 15, 2014

On November 3, The Bahamas signed a Model 1B intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the U.S. to implement the terms of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). The Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB) is now strongly urging those Caribbean governments that have not yet done the same to sign IGAs of their own before December 31, 2014.
FATCA was enacted in 2010 by the U.S. to target non-compliance by U.S. taxpayers using foreign accounts. The act requires foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers or by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest. The CAB calls the impact of FATCA "far reaching", pointing out that it affects any person, U.S. or foreign, who is involved in making or receiving payments that fall within the scope of FATCA. Failure to comply with FATCA could result in a 30 percent withholding tax levied on withholdable payments. It may also result in the potential loss of correspondent banking relationships for banks, which are critical to facilitate business transactions in the U.S.
CAB stressed the need for government action.
"Financial institutions in the region have spent the last few years making the necessary preparations to ensure that they are ready to comply with FATCA. It is now time for their governments to support this work by moving quickly to complete the process of establishing a signed IGA with the U.S.," the association said in a press release issued over the weekend.
Global compliance and international tax firm KPMG notes that governments which have signed a Model 1 IGA with the U.S. have implicit and explicit responsibilities to enable their local Financial Institutions (FIs) to comply with the FATCA. A Model 1 IGA requires the competent authority or its delegate to collect FI and associated account holder information, perform a data quality check on the data and then submit consolidated information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in a secure manner prior to September 30, 2015.
The CAB press release said that IGA's make it easier for partner countries to comply with the provisions of FATCA. Under an IGA, FFI's in partner jurisdictions will be able to report directly to a local competent authority; who in turn will report to the IRS.
"The latest IRS announcement states that after December 31, 2014, countries who have not signed an IGA will only be treated as jurisdictions with an "IGA in effect " provided that they demonstrate "firm resolve" to sign the intended IGA as soon as possible. The U.S. Treasury will review the list of jurisdictions having an agreement in substance (but not yet signed), on a monthly basis, to assess whether any of the jurisdictions should be removed from this list," CAB said.
"Caribbean countries affected by this announcement include Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago."

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Historic ACP meeting welcomes EC reps

December 15, 2014

The 100th Session of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Council of Ministers met in Brussels, Belgium from 9-12 December, 2014 for an historic session of the Organization.
Ministers from the ACP engaged for the first time incoming administrative representatives of the new European Commission, including Frederica Mogherini, the high representative for foreign affairs and security and Neven Mimica, commissioner for international cooperation and development. Representing The Bahamas at the ministerial council was Ambassador Rhoda M. Jackson, Bahamas permanent representative to the United Nations office in Geneva.
The landmark session was particularly important for the CARIFORUM member states, as the new secretary general to lead the ACP Secretariat for the next five years, from 2015 to 2020, was to come from the region. On Wednesday, December 10, the ministerial council approved the appointment of Dr. Patrick Gomes, current ambassador of Guyana to the European Union, as the new secretary general. The region is to also serve as the host of the next ACP Summit of Heads of State and Government.
The council met at a critical juncture as the Cotonou Agreement expires in 2020 and there is a need to redefine the future cooperation arrangement between the European Union and the countries of the ACP, within the framework of the post-2015 development agenda. The Report on the Further Perspectives of the ACP Group and the Interim Report on the Eminent Persons Group would serve as the basis for these ongoing discussions. Other issues considered at the council included Ebola and support to the affected countries, the status of negotiations for the regional economic partnership agreements (EPAs) and development finance cooperation.

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Family Islands poised for tremendous growth

December 15, 2014

Several Family Islands are poised for "tremendous" growth in 2015, according to Minister of State for Investment Khaalis Rolle.
Speaking with Guardian Business at the recent sale of The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, Rolle said the sale and planned expansion of Marsh Harbour's airport facilities would provide a shot in the arm for Abaco's economy, while also offering a template for similar developments and public-private partnerships (PPPs) in other Family Islands.
"This will be the renewed energy for the economy of Abaco. We believe that [the sale] will generate tremendous opportunities, and a key to investments of this nature being successful is access. We have to look at how we can improve access via the expansion of the existing runway, and that's an ongoing discussion," he said.
Rolle added that while Exuma continues to lead the way for smaller family island development heading into 2015, Cat Island is poised for growth through an overhaul of its airport.
"We're very excited about the future projects. Some of the islands down in the southern chain we're still working on. We're in the final stages of approving the financing for the airport with Cat Island Partners Limited. Once that is done, you will see Cat Island take off," he said, noting that there are also proposals on the drawing board for Mayaguana.
Despite the prospects, Rolle acknowledged that many of the southern islands still faced substantial economic hurdles going into the New Year due to the need for extensive investment in infrastructure.
"Some islands develop a lot quicker than others because of the existing infrastructure. As for those that are still developing, when you look at the infrastructure that's needed, they are still underdeveloped," Rolle said.
The government has made a noticeable push for public-private partnerships in recent months, arguing that the partnerships are crucial in developing the requisite infrastructure to stimulate growth in underdeveloped Family Islands. The government has pledged $150 million to renovate at least four airports throughout the country in 2015.

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Bahamas to act on antitrafficking recommendations

December 15, 2014

Laying out the actions taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the fight against crime over the past year, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell has disclosed that in the coming year, the government is committed to "act" on recommendations from the United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on trafficking in persons especially women and children.
Mitchell was addressing a lunch for honorary diplomats in The Bahamas when he addressed the matter of what he called "the pernicious activity of trafficking in persons".
The rapporteur, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, visited The Bahamas earlier this year. She held a number of meetings with the public and private sector, civil society and even the press corps, where the matter of trafficking in persons was discussed from as many different angles as could be identified. Ezeilo then wrote a report to the UN Human Rights Council, which was confidential, and shared only with the government.
Mitchell spoke to the report in general terms.
"In her report to the Human Rights Council in June, she highlighted the deficiencies which exist in The Bahamas with respect to trafficking in persons, particularly the treatment of perpetrators and the registering and protection of victims," he said.
"The government has committed to act on these recommendations in the coming year."
At the luncheon, Mitchell also pointed out that The Bahamas is among the first countries to ratify the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which -- having reached the requisite 50 ratifications -- will enter into force on December 24.
The treaty aims to regulate the international trade in conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons.
"It is expected that support and commitment to this international instrument, particularly among countries of the region, will redound to the benefit of our communities, individually and collectively, as a result of stricter weapons control which will complement our national efforts to fight crime," Mitchell said.

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Exchange of financial account information in tax matters: caution required

December 15, 2014

The automatic exchange of financial account information in tax matters is a significant step towards the elimination of bank secrecy in several jurisdictions. The project is gradually being implemented: on October 8 of this year, the Swiss Federal Council reported to international institutions its intention to introduce the global standard provided for by OECD taking effect from 2017 for about 40 countries that have already formalized their position -- these are the so-called "early adopters" -- and from 2018 for the remaining countries. Recently, a global forum meeting in Berlin underlined the progress of the programme and its supposed effectiveness in fighting the "scourge" of tax evasion by natural and legal persons, in a coordinated manner at an international level.
The procedure is similar to that laid down by Washington in the FATCA agreements-US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and, albeit in a different way, by the European Union Savings Directive. One of the differences between the Standard and FATCA is that, while for the latter the applicability criterion is U.S. nationality or, more specifically, the status of US persons for tax purposes, the key factor in the automatic exchange of information is the account holder's country of residence, regardless of nationality.
The programme is based on the OECD common reporting standard, i.e. the basic protocol which all participating countries should follow. In essence, tax authorities from the different countries are required to collect information from their financial institutions and report it to corresponding tax authorities. Financial intermediaries are therefore required to carry out extensive work concerning their customers and their financial transactions, and are also burdened with significant responsibility being sanctioned in the event of errors or omitted fulfilments. The information they need to collect includes, account holders' full data, their identity and residence, place of birth, tax identification number (TIN), accounts balances, interest on all financial instruments and dividends received, payments derived from insurance products, annuities, and the proceeds of sale from broadly defined financial products. The same reporting criteria applies to legal persons and other entities such as trusts and foundations, inclusive of all relevant data on beneficial owners as well as on those who exercise control, in accordance with the "look through" principle.
We would like to address some of these points. The Standard implies strict reciprocity; however, the banks and intermediaries operating in a given country may collect data on their account holders to a different extent from that available in other financial centers (suffice to think of the "very advanced" and pretentious United States on compliance), this begs the question on whether such reciprocity can be ensured (and whether the Unites States does intend to implement this). It should be recalled, inter alia, that the FATF recommendations against money laundering are applied by these countries in rather different ways. Even the legal principle of "specialty", which requires any information reported to be used solely for tax purposes and to be kept confidential, may be difficult to apply in some countries (for example in Italy, where not only data protection is very deficient).
The common standard might then be "construed" by the different countries in such a way as to place a financial centre at a disadvantage when compared to other centers. Going back to operational issues, the common reporting standard indicates the operators that are involved. These are banks, custodial institutions, depositaries, brokers, investment funds, trusts and insurance companies. Another significant difference with respect to the US FATCA is the absence of a minimum threshold (50,000 dollars for FATCA), below which the procedure does not apply. The automatic exchange encompasses any account of any nature and/or amount. The transmission of tax data and the reporting of information in line with the rules of the different countries in which the account holders reside, will also require the financial institutions to substantially upgrade their IT systems and will imply continuous updates; in fact, the tax systems of the different countries are not only very different but also quite complex, if not confusing, and continuously evolving.
A poignant question arises: will the Standard work as effectively and ideally as suggested by the OECD? Will the flow of data and information really be homogeneous and managed correctly? This seems doubtful. While the Swiss Government endorsed the plan with a timeliness that was seen as excessive by many, these concerns have been voiced by the Government of The Bahamas, which has long favored a bilateral approach, i.e. via an agreement between two States on well-established grounds, to the multilateral and vague approach suggested by the OECD. A multilateral approach was described as "flawed" by Minister Ryan Pinder, Minister of Financial Services, at the STEP Caribbean Conference in July. Additionally, The Bahamas has a long track record of tax information agreements, beginning with the agreement with the United States which was entered into as early as 2002, followed by those with many other countries; The Bahamas was removed from the OECD "black list".
What the OECD is now projecting, surpasses this. In fact, to identify tax evasion abroad may be challenging in the presence of hundreds of varying tax systems.
Minister Pinder also mentioned the issue of data confidentiality and the use of data in an unauthorized form, recalling the experience of several European countries. Also, the European Union and the OECD have opposed the extension of the so-called "Rubik model", i.e. the withholding on an anonymous basis of a tax equivalent to that which the account holder would pay in their State of residence. A solution adopted pragmatically by the United Kingdom with regard to Switzerland, which would have brought more funds into European States' coffers in swift and certain times, without the tax assessment and collection costs which they will now have to face, with more uncertain outcomes. In addition, the arbitrary creation of "black lists" by the OECD for smaller countries is questionable and does not benefit these countries. They are often not heard when the leading countries make such decisions on transparency, but rather are presented with a fait accompli; a position that has been upheld by many minor financial centers and one that has been clearly expressed by the Government of The Bahamas.

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reEarth scores victory in Blackbeard's Cay case

December 15, 2014

Environmental and animal rights advocates scored what they called "a major victory after a 24-year long battle" this week when the Court of Appeal dismissed the government's appeal of a Supreme Court decision that allows for the opening and operation of an island attraction across from the western end of Cable Beach.
The case involved the island re-named Blackbeard's Cay opposite Sandals Royal Bahamian, a project reportedly costing $8 million, intended as an offshore excursion for Carnival Cruise Line passengers.
Nassau businesspeople, including retailers and operators of numerous other attractions, argued against touristic development of the island so close to Nassau, saying diverting as many as half a million passengers away from known establishments, museums, restaurants, fishing, boating and snorkeling excursions would lead to serious economic repercussions, including job loss. The threat of economic loss did not deter St. Maarten businessman Samir Andrawos and Bahamian partners from continuing.
It wasn't until late 2013 when Save The Bays' legal team agreed to take on the case on behalf of reEarth to raise environmental, development processing and animal rights issues that the courts became involved, catapulting the conversation from what's good for local business, investment and jobs to what's legal in the development process.
When the case went to court in April, lead attorney Fred Smith, QC, senior partner at Callenders & Co. Grand Bahama, told the Supreme Court the evidence pointed to a "tsunami of disregard" for due process and the rule of law as civil servants rubber-stamped approvals for the project at the behest of their superiors.
"The Cabinet and the minister are regarded as the extreme authority on what should happen, regardless of what Parliament has legislated," he told the Court of Appeal.
Attorneys presented evidence showing the Blackbeard's Cay project moved forward in the absence of necessary site approvals, environmental studies, public hearings and proof of the developer's compliance with mandated conditions. In allowing this to happen, Smith said, the government contravened the provisions of the Planning and Subdivisions Act (PSA), the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act (CLPA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
In July, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Isaacs quashed the permits, agreeing with the attorneys' assertion that "the development has been carried out, and continues to be carried out, unlawfully".
Government officials including the minister of agriculture, marine resources and local government, the director of fisheries and marine resources, the Town Planning Committee and the minister responsible for Crown lands, appealed the case. When they failed to file the record of appeal in the stipulated time, the appeal was dismissed. The dismissal came via an order signed in mid-November but mailed and received by the lawyers on December 4.
The dismissal has left those who have been arguing for an end to unregulated development and the protection of animal rights ecstatic.
Along with matters surrounding the permitting process, at the heart of the issue was the future of penned dolphins at the island. reEarth presented evidence during the April trial showing that the nine dolphins had no shade, were in shallow waters and a substandard size pen -- all in violation of Bahamian law and international standards.
"This has been a long, hard 24-year battle," said Sam Duncombe, a director of Save The Bays and founder of reEarth which has collected 96,000 signatures on a petition calling on The Bahamas government to protect dolphins and other marine mammals.
Duncombe points to falling audience numbers and share value for Sea World, saying that films like Blackfish have opened people's eyes to what confinement does to these self-aware and highly socialized mammals.
"The entire industry rips these mammals' families apart and just like humans, each dolphin has a 'place' in its family structure," she said.
"The petition calls for an end to mammal facility breeding programs going forward, prohibits future imports or exports of marine mammals to The Bahamas and looks to a tiered closure of all marine mammal facilities in The Bahamas with a plan to house retired dolphins in a sanctuary funded by the very industry that has benefitted from their enslavement for decades."
While Duncombe is pleased that the victory in the current case is bringing new attention to the plight of animals for entertainment, Smith and other Save The Bays directors said the case shows that governments can be held accountable for obeying their own laws when it comes to development.
The most recent court action brought a smiling, "victory for the rule of law" accolade from Save The Bays director and Bahamas Waterkeeper President Joseph Darville.
"As the president of Waterkeeper Bahamas and the education director of Save The Bays, I would like to state my joy and pleasure about the outcome of this case which has restored my confidence in the independence of the judiciary of The Bahamas," said Darville.
"As a Waterkeeper, I am concerned about every element of water in The Bahamas and about these wonderful animals that have aligned themselves so much with the consciousness of human beings.
"We have an obligation to treat them in a humane manner. As a director of Save The bays, I salute reEarth and our legal team for their passionate insistence in bringing this debacle with the powers that be to a successful and glorious conclusion."
Duncombe echoed appreciation for the legal team, adding that the case should make The Bahamas think twice about the face it shows the world in dolphin care.
"reEarth is very grateful for the support of Save The Bays and of course our awesome legal team," said Duncombe.
According to the judge's ruling, the Ministry of Agriculture is required to take responsibility for the fate of the dolphins at Blackbeard's Cay, placing them in an appropriate location.
"I would be happy to work with the minister to ensure that when these poor dolphins that have suffered so much are moved. They will have a new home where they can lead lives that are as secure and free as possible," said Duncombe.
"Until they are assessed, they cannot be released into the wild because they have become dependent on being fed and would require rehabilitation to make sure they could fend for themselves. In the meantime, we can protect them in a sanctuary and the silver lining in this case may just be that it leads to the first dolphin sanctuary in The Bahamas -- something which reEarth is working on and something that would be fantastic for tourism as well as for these amazing mammals we share the planet with who call each other by name, swim 50 miles a day and make choices about their daily lives just as humans do. This would send an enlightened and positive message to the world that The Bahamas cares and is tune with the ever-expanding global awareness about the welfare of marine mammals."

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The smell test

December 15, 2014

The recent resignation of Ryan Pinder from the Perry Christie Cabinet has raised questions about whether Pinder used his position in government to land what the prime minister himself called a "mind-blowing" job.
It seems that neither Christie nor his minister responsible for promoting financial services could identify another suitably qualified Bahamian to fill that job.
All right-thinking Bahamians should be appalled that a Cabinet minister would use his elected position to secure a more lucrative job in the private sector -- in an area for which he held Cabinet responsibility.
Christie has indicated that he sees nothing wrong with the soon-to-be former financial services minister transitioning mid-term to a private bank because the offer was just that good.
In fact, the prime minister declared it would have been hard for anyone to turn down the offer.
But he thinks money was not Pinder's sole consideration when accepting the position at Deltec bank.
Christie tells us that it also has to do with Pinder getting the opportunity to be a power broker in the private banking world.
The absence of a distinction between private interest and public duty continues to elude this government.
That is clear for all to see.
Some observers are left wondering, at what point while he was doing his job could it have been possible for Pinder to discuss a job with an institution for which he had a duty to promote?
Was the prime minister informed that his minister of financial services was in talks with a private bank on a job offer?
We understand that Pinder has been in discussions with Deltec for several months.
Some also wonder what kind of financial institution would have the temerity to suggest to a Cabinet minister that he trade his government post for employment with them.
One such observer, who spoke to National Review without expectation of attribution, declared that Christie's hypocrisy is now laid bare for all to see.
"He is the same man who expressed concern when a former minister of tourism became employed as a consultant to a developer in Mayaguana following the 2012 general election, but now finds it acceptable for his serving minister of financial services to negotiate a lucrative job in an institution for which he holds direct responsibility to promote," noted that pundit.
Christie's inappropriate comments about the financial value of Pinder's new job and how it was "an offer he could not refuse" encapsulates the cause of so much of what is wrong in our country today.
Money and more money justifies anything, including sacrificing standards, ignoring professional ethics and dismissing the value of dedicated service to country.
We do not know when Pinder will start his new job, but it seems there is a need for a cooling off period before he starts.
This would be appropriate, and it is written into certain contracts in the corporate world.
It is also in the contract of the governor of the Central Bank. He or she cannot leave that position and join a financial institution immediately after.
A transition period for Pinder would at least provide an appearance of decency in making the transition to the private sector institution, which previously fell under his portfolio responsibilities.
Pinder's resignation left us asking Christie an obvious question, and that is who he intends to appoint to fill the position left vacant.
Christie's answer was that he had not decided (although he said he had long known Pinder would be leaving).
More interestingly, Christie added that he did not know whether he in fact would appoint anyone as minister of financial services.
If he does not, it would be an acknowledgement that the post was never that substantive to begin with.
Pinder's ministry, which has no permanent secretary, has a list of responsibilities that could easily be included under the Ministry of Finance or elsewhere.
Those areas, according to the Ministry of Financial Services' website, include promotion of financial services; relations with the Bahamas Financial Services Board; trade and industry; manufacturing (except for Grand Bahama); financial services product innovation and promotion in collaboration wit the Private Sector Industries Encouragement Act; International Trade (EU/ACP, WTO, FTAA, CARIBCAN and CBI) and development and promotion of our international commercial arbitration center.
The loss of Pinder from Cabinet is unlikely to cause any disruption to any part of the government's business.
We agree with one political observer who said, "We might simply wish Pinder bon voyage; thank him for saving the Bahamian public purse the cost of his ministerial salary and trappings including office accommodation and the operation cost of the same, his official car and travel budget."
We might also counsel Christie not to hurry to name any additional member to fill the post.
Clearly, Pinder's responsibilities can be assumed by any other existing minister.

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Blurred vision

December 15, 2014

Much has changed since those campaign days when Perry Christie touted his new generation leaders as an exciting lineup for the future.
Several of them in fact have been fired from the positions he appointed them to in his administration.
These include Marco City MP Gregory Moss, who was fired in 2013 as chairman of the National Insurance Board; Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins, who was fired this year as chairman of the Gaming Board, and Renward Wells, who was fired this year as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works.
Those three have created headaches and embarrassing scenarios for Christie.
Christie is now about to watch the departure from his Cabinet of another new generation leader, Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder, who resigned for greener pastures in private banking.
It might be a mere coincidence that Pinder's departure from Cabinet comes as Christie gives increasing signals that his bridge to the future is much longer than he had let on.
But it is nevertheless interesting to note that Christie seems to be preparing for another run at the polls, a decision that would be bad for the country.
In 2011 when he could taste an election victory, an energized Christie spoke of the exciting team of young, promising leaders he was assembling.
Pinder, now 40, was widely viewed as having a lot of ambition.
Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest said Pinder was "considered one of the few bright spots in this current PLP Cabinet".
Turnquest, the shadow minister of finance, said, "We are sure his presence in financial, trade and international taxation matters will be missed on that level."
Given what many saw as burning ambition and solid potential, it is therefore understandable why some people were surprised at Pinder's resignation from Cabinet.
For his part, Christie said he understood the decision as it would be hard for anyone to turn down the "extraordinary, mind-blowing offer" Deltec bank made to the minister.
While Pinder will remain in the House of Assembly, representing the people of Elizabeth, he loses the clout and influence that comes with a seat at the Cabinet table.
After weighing his options, Pinder decided that "the once-in-a-lifetime" offer could not be passed up.
Speaking of Pinder in 2011, Christie said, "Make no mistake about it. Ryan has proven himself to be a key member of the new generation of future leadership that is taking shape within the PLP.
"I expect even greater things of this young man in the years to come. Indeed, I am confident that Ryan Pinder is destined to play an important, possibly even an historic part in the next generation of leadership that is emerging within our great party."
Christie made the declaration at a rally in Elizabeth to celebrate the first anniversary of the PLP's victory in the 2010 by-election.
Though Pinder won the seat by a razor-thin margin after the matter was taken to Election Court, that election was a temperature gauge of the mood of the electorate as the PLP prepared to win control of the government once again.
It had had an arduous and at times humiliating time in the opposition wilderness.
While he was largely shut away at his Cable Beach home planting trees and no doubt licking his wounds in the first few months after the 2007 defeat, the Christie of 2011 was a healed and emboldened leader, organizing the team that would do battle against Hubert Ingraham and the Free National Movement in 2012.
Christie used new generation leaders to freshen up his own image and promote himself as a leader serious about succession planning.
Pinder's exit from the Christie Cabinet shows that financial considerations were more important to him than any grand idea Christie had about his future leadership role.
We do not mean to suggest that it is impossible for Pinder to return to fulfill Christie's vision for his future, but his political light has certainly been dimmed by his resignation.
In his statements to reporters after the resignation was revealed, Pinder pledged his commitment to and support of Christie and the PLP.
He said, "The relationship between myself and the prime minister remains very strong and very committed, and I support the government, the prime minister and all decisions by the government completely."
While Christie spoke of Deltec's mind-blowing offer to Pinder, he also said he does not think money was the only factor that influenced Pinder's decision.
Christie spoke of Pinder having a role as a "power broker" in private banking in the international arena.
Pinder's resignation has taken place at roughly the half-way point of the Christie term.
Christie is hugely unpopular and there is widespread buyer's remorse.
It is no wonder then that some people are also speculating that Pinder sees this as a perfect opportunity to jump off "a sinking ship".

No more love fest
Pinder was not the only new-generation leader Christie highlighted at that Elizabeth anniversary rally in 2011.
Christie also spoke of his hopes for Rollins, the former National Development Party chairman whose antics during nomination day in 2010 had seriously annoyed PLPs.
The PLP leader in 2011 described Rollins as "a well-trained, intelligent, young Bahamian with a solid vision for The Bahamas and strong ideas of how best it can be governed".
"We know the soul searching and analyzing that he has gone through and we are pleased that at the end of a long and thoughtful process, he has chosen the PLP as his political home," Christie said.
He said Rollins, "is an example to young Bahamians of the PLP's willingness to involve in a meaningful way young Bahamians in shaping and influencing the PLP's plans and strategies for the development of The Bahamas and the empowerment of our people".
Christie said he was impressed by Rollins.
"...I am most sincere in my belief that there is a role for Dr. Rollins in the public affairs of our country and Iook forward to our holding productive discussions with him," he said.
These days, Rollins is waiting to learn his political fate. A PLP disciplinary committee has yet to announce its decision after considering how to punish Rollins for insulting Christie on the floor of the House multiple times, and for refusing to apologize after the party asked him to.
From all that we could tell on the 2012 campaign trail, those new generation leaders bought into Christie's stated vision for them.
At a February 16 rally, for instance, Renward Wells declared that he joined the PLP "because Perry Christie has shown himself to be a real leader and man of vision".
Wells said Christie, aided by a "visionary energetic team of new generation leaders", was about to propel the country "into a brighter, more prosperous future".
Nearly three years after that declaration, thousands await this prosperity.
Wells and Christie, meanwhile, have long ended their love fest.
Of course, some of the so-called new generation leaders are still hanging on.
Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis and Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle, however, seem more comfortable in a supporting role, which appears valuable to Christie.
As the bridge to the future gets longer, the new generation line at the end of that bridge appears to be getting shorter.
If he is still interested in 2017, Pinder could still make another run for Elizabeth.
But the lucrative private banking field could easily snatch him from public life for good.
There are widespread expectations though that the others (Rollins, Wells and Moss) have no more than a half term left on the SSPLP.

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It's all about perspective

December 15, 2014

I've often pondered the FACT, that so many people seem to see things in a very different light, so to speak, from each other. I've reflected countless times for example on people's religious beliefs and all of the various spiritual texts available throughout this great big world of ours and the different philosophies put forth by many around the globe. In other words, how come we don't all believe the same things, why is it that our thinking varies so much in so many vital areas of life?
After my reflections, I realized that really in the long run, as today's title puts it 'It's All About Perspective'. Obviously each and every one of us are individuals who hopefully think and act as individuals who think for themselves, not allowing anyone else to do their thinking for them. So you believe one way, your children perhaps believe differently, and so do some of your relatives, friends and associates at work because 'It's All About Perspective'.
But someone said to me one day as I put forth this concept to him, but isn't it all in the end about seeking The Truth? Yes indeed it is; however, once again one's perspective of what constitutes The Truth may vary greatly. But D. Paul, I thought you mentioned in another article, that Truth does not change.....no it doesn't for Truth is, as the dictionary puts it "That which is". However, once again each individual's perception of what The Truth is may indeed vary considerably.
For example: In Christopher Columbus's time , the pervading perception was that the world was flat and indeed many thought that as he sailed off to discover the so-called New World he would sail over the edge and be lost forever...that was their perception of The Truth. However, their perception was incorrect as The Truth is that the world is round thus Columbus did discover The New World.
People often question me as to why some people are so very positive and upbeat in nature, whilst others are so negative and pessimistic. Once again it's all about perspective. Of course, the reason one is negative and the other is positive is due to mental conditioning. If one is surrounded by negative people from birth; well then, chances are you'll be negative too. Likewise with positive people.
However, one can change the way they think at any time as everything in life in the long run is a matter of choice. So in a nutshell, what I'm simply stating here today, is that everyone is free to change their perspective at any time they choose to.

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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Giants slam the Rebels in four-game NPBA weekend

December 15, 2014

Action is heating up in the New Providence Basketball Association (NPBA) as the 2014-15 season approaches its midway point. A total of four games were played at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium over the weekend. On Friday night, the defending champions Commonwealth Bank Giants crushed the Rhythm Rebels, 99-57, and The Real Deal Shockers took down the PJ's Stingers, 104-94. On Saturday, the Patron Regulators defeated the College of The Bahamas Caribs, 76-63, and the Island Luck Pros outlasted the MailBoat Cybots, 88-77.
Giants 99, Rebels 57
Michael Bain Jr. and Robson Memnon led the way for Giants with 22 points each. Jeffrey Henfield added 12 points, nine rebounds and nine
assists, and Samuel Johnson came off the bench to score 11 points and he pulled down five rebounds.
The Giants got off to a hot start as they took a 30-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, and never looked back. They led 49-25 at the half. The Rebels were never in the game in the second half, even though they out-scored them, 20-17, in third quarter. The Rebels got blasted in the fourth, as they were 33-12 in that frame.
Devon Brennen was the top scorer for the Rebels with 22 points. Both Andrew King and Whitfield Braynen added 12 points each.

Shockers 104, Stingers 94
Floyd Armbrister and William Rigby put on an offensive showcase in this game scoring 37 and 36 points respectively for the Shockers. Antoinne Levarity added nine points and nine rebounds, and Lamont Armaly and Vernal Johnson finished with six points each.
The Shockers managed to outscore the Stingers three out of four quarters despite being outscored in bench points 33-12, being out-rebounded 60-53, and losing the assists battle 26-17.
Able Joseph led the Stingers with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Devon Ferguson finished with 19 points and Kendrick Curry and Tevin Hudson added 10 points each.

Regulators 76, Caribs 63
Kenneth Pratt was the Regulators top scorer with 20 points. Gamaliel "Chameleon" Rose had a double-double of 10 points and 21 rebounds and Cruz Simon finished with 18 points.
The Regulators ability to get second chance points off of offensive rebounds was a strong factor in this win for them. They out-rebounded the Caribs 68-50 and that advantage put them in the driver's seat for the entire game.
Justin Smith led the Caribs with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds. Alvano Laing added 15 points and Reuben Goodman finished with 11 points.

Pros 88, Cybots 77
Livingston Munnings had a major game for the Pros. He ended the night with a double-double of 22 points and 20 rebounds on 11-for-21 shooting from the field in 38 minutes of action.
Adorn Charlow added his own double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Jason Mitchell Jr. chipped in with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Points in the paint were the name of the game for the Pros as they outscored the Cybots 62-30 on the inside. They also out-rebounded them 63-40 and outscored them in second chance points 20-15. A distinct size advantage on the inside was vital in helping the Pros to an easy win over last season's runner-up and the champions from two years ago.
Jeremy Hutchinson led the Cybots with 23 points. Both Ahmad Bootle and Brian Bain added 18 points apiece and Lerecus Armbrister had 12.
NPBA action is scheduled to continue tonight at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium. In the opening game at 7:30 p.m., the Y'Care Wreckers will take on the Double R. Services Ltd. Cleaners, and at 9 p.m., the Cybots will battle the Regulators.

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Popeyes Bahamas Bowl expected to reach over 110 million viewers

December 15, 2014

Over 110 million pairs of eyes are expected to be on The Bahamas come Christmas Eve as college football teams the Western Kentucky University (WKU) Hilltoppers and the Central Michigan University (CMU) Chippewas face off in the first ever Popeyes Bahamas Bowl at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The Hilltoppers are under Conference USA, while the Chippewas come under the Mid-American Conference (MAC).
The teams, collectively, are expected to bring over 200 football players and their fans to the shores of The Bahamas and ESPN will provide sole live coverage of the game on that day. This is the first time since 1937 that a bowl game has been played outside of North America. American fast food franchise Popeyes is the primary sponsor of the game.
President of the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl Britton Banowsky said one of the objectives of hosting the game here is to enhance American football in The Bahamas.
"We know that there are a lot of Bahamians who love football and they watch it on TV. It has the potential to be the largest event of anything that has ever happened in The Bahamas and so that is a lot of pressure for us but it is also a great opportunity. This game is going to project really well internationally," he said.
Deputy Director General in the Ministry of Tourism Ellison "Tommy"Thompson said this game is important for The Bahamas.
"One of the areas that we are really looking to promote is sports tourism and we see these great events as a catalyst to get more people to the islands of The Bahamas, and the fact that you have an in-store promotion in Popeyes' 1,800 stores - this is a marketer's dream come true," he said.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson also expressed his excitement over the highly-anticipated game.
"It is a major way to expose The Bahamas. It is our hope that this is enhanced over the next five years as a major, major event in The Bahamas every December," he said.
Meanwhile, the coaches of the respective teams say they are geared up and ready to go.
Jeff Brohm, WKU's Head Coach, said he believes there couldn't have been a better destination than The Bahamas to play.
"We're so happy that we get an opportunity to play the game and experience The Bahamas. When we get here it will be about five days before the game. We will practice early in the morning and then in the afternoon they will have free time to experience everything that The Bahamas has to offer," he said. "My thing is once they will see that I know many of them will want to come back."
Dan Enos, Head Coach of CMU, had similar sentiments.
"We feel it is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To play in a bowl game is a great opportunity but to come to a bowl game, and come to such a wonderful destination is a great privilege not only for the players but for their families and fans also," he said. "We are going to try and let our players have a great experience. Obviously, we need to practice but there will be time every day for them to see The Bahamas and we think that this is not just a game but also an educational opportunity for them."
The teams will also hold a sporting clinic and courtesy call with the Ranfurly Homes for Children, while they are in The Bahamas.
The game itself, which is being dubbed the largest collegiate game to ever take place in The Bahamas, will begin at 12 noon on Christmas Eve. The first 5,000 attendees of the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl will get a taste of a new chicken flavor being offered by Popeyes.
Entertainment at half-time includes special performances from the Valley Boys junkanoo groop and the Bahamas All-Star Band.

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Scotiabank scores as the official partner of CONCACAF

December 15, 2014

Scotiabank recently announced that it has become the official bank of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) and the league's first official partner.
As part of this agreement, Scotiabank will also become the title sponsor of the Champions League and the Caribbean Nations Cup, and a sponsor of the Gold Cup.
"We want to thank CONCACAF for welcoming Scotiabank into their football family," said Sean Albert, managing director of Scotiabank (Bahamas) Ltd. "Scotiabank operates in most of the CONCACAF markets and we're proud of the deep roots we have in these regions - supporting customers, businesses and communities across these countries going back more than 180 years."
The multi-year agreement also includes support for multiple CONCACAF youth tournaments including the 2016 Olympic qualifying events and the men and women's under-15, under-17 and under-20 tournaments, starting with the CONCACAF under-20 men's championship kicking off in Jamaica in January 2015. The newly-named Scotiabank Champions League tournament will resume in February of 2015.
"Football is a shared passion for our customers and employees. We're all fans of the game and dedicated to supporting football across North and Central America and the Caribbean," said John Doig, Scotiabank's chief marketing officer. "Through our support for cricket in the Caribbean, hockey in Canada and baseball in the Dominican Republic, Scotiabank has expertise in supporting sports at the elite level and the grassroots level in our communities. We are excited to work with CONCACAF to do the same with football."
A statement from the financial institution read: "Through 'Bright Future', Scotiabank's global philanthropic program, we are able to have a lasting impact on our communities through a variety of initiatives spanning arts and culture, education, environment, social services, health, and especially, through sport. Organized sports play an important role in building stronger communities and being part of a team is a living example of how we're better together. At Scotiabank we believe it's important to build teamwork and camaraderie in sport -- and that it's truly important to have a team to believe in."
CONCACAF is one of six continental confederations of FIFA (International Federation of Association Football), and serves as the governing body of football in this part of the world. It is comprised of 41 national associations, including three regions - North and Central America and the Caribbean.

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Man killed leaving brother's funeral

December 15, 2014

A teenager was killed and his younger brother injured after assailants shot up the vehicle they were in as they left their brother's funeral on Saturday afternoon.
The shooting took place on Soldier Road around 1:30 p.m.
An 18-year-old, who was being electronically monitored, was driving on Soldier Road heading to the repast with his 14-year-old brother.
When they stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of Solider Road and Prince Charles Drive, a gold Honda pulled in front of them.
Two men exited the Honda, pulled black masks over their faces and began shooting, according to police.
The brothers were both shot multiple times.
The 18-year-old attempted to drive to the hospital.
Chief Superintendent Paul Rolle said police assisted them en route to hospital.
However, the 18-year-old was pronounced dead on arrival, according to police.
The 14-year-old was in critical condition last night, police said.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Stephen Dean said the older brother was recently released from Her Majesty's
Prisons (HMP).
They were attending the funeral of their older brother, who was murdered as he sat on a bus at the eastern end of Nicholls Court in Yellow Elder last month.
He said police are constantly challenged with violent incidents involving people on bail and being electronically monitored.
He called on all branches of the criminal justice system to work together to curb criminality in the country.
"We do our part by getting these people in front of the courts," Dean said. "We are doing it.
"We have to find a way as a country [for] all the systems of justice to work together, to help us, to make sure we keep these people locked behind bars.
"As long as they are on the streets, they are not going to work.
"They are going to continue a life of crime. They are going to continue to use firearms.
"They are going to continue to become a menace to society. We need everyone. We are at a crossroads right now."
Dean urged families of men and women who are released on bail to not "cloak" them or encouraged them to continue a life of crime.
Saturday's shooting pushed the murder count up to 116, according to The Nassau Guardian's records.

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Police kill suspect who 'confronted them with a gun'

December 15, 2014

Police shot and killed an accused murderer out on bail on Saturday morning after he approached several officers in Golden Gates with a gun, according to police.
Reports are that around 2:30 a.m., the armed man walked up to the officers outside a business in Golden Gates.
One of the officers withdrew his gun and shot the suspect, police said.
The man attempted to run away, but collapsed to the ground, police said.
He was pronounced dead on scene.
During a press conference of Saturday, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said he reviewed the details of the incident and is satisfied the officers were justified.
"If you confront a police officer or any other law enforcement professional and you are armed with an offensive, dangerous, deadly instrument, and in any case an illegal firearm, the law is crystal clear," he said.
"Those officers are trained and they are prepared to defend themselves, and to defend the good citizens of this country.
"Do not attempt to take on a police officer. It is a bad
decision."
Greenslade said he met with the man's family members, who he called "decent people".
There have been several police involved shootings this year, the most recent of which took place on October 2.
In that incident, a policeman shot and killed a 24-year-old man suspected of housebreaking off Prince Charles Drive after he allegedly pulled a knife on the officer.
The man was shot in the head, according to Greenslade.
He said the officer had justification to shoot the man, who was on bail and was being electronically monitored.
Greenslade has said once someone attacks an officer the law gives that officer "full justification" to take a certain course of action.
On Saturday, the commissioner called on parents to take greater responsibility for their children and deter them from a life of crime.
"I am asking our pastors to stand in unity with us and to preach it from the pulpit," he said.
"Remind parents to go back to their homes and their children, and to say do not bring me stolen property; don't bring a stolen car to my yard and don't bring your bad friends to my house with guns in their possession.
"That same gun that you ignore mum and dad, brother and sister, and friend, is going to be the very same gun if you are not careful that will be accidently discharged in your [home] killing some young child.
"A gun is going to be used in that family when that young man gets angry and turns it on one of his family members. We have seen it before."
Greenslade asked how anyone can "sleep with a clear conscious" with knowledge that their relative or friend has a gun or has killed someone.
"Pray tell me, how can you, in a Christian nation, sleep?" he asked.
"Turn in the murderers. Turn in the armed robbers and turn in those with illegal firearms."

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Mitchell to address OAS on immigration

December 15, 2014

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell will address the Organization of American States (OAS) on the government's new immigration policy in Washington, D.C. tomorrow.
Mitchell travelled to Washington, D.C. yesterday.
He is expected to meet with CARICOM's OAS caucus and the secretary general of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, today.
In a recent statement, Mitchell said Insulza was "ill-formed" when he referred to the Department of Immigration's efforts to limit illegal immigration in The Bahamas as "roundups".
According to a statement from Bahamas Information Services, "The new
administrative measures being taken by the government of The Bahamas to strengthen the country's immigration policy and eliminate fraud are expected to take center stage during these meetings.
"These administrative measures that took effect on November 1 2014 have been the subject of much commentary both locally and internationally, much of which were based on misinformation."
The government's new immigration policy requires all non-Bahamians to have passports of their nationalities and evidence that they have permission to live and work in the country.
As part of the policy, the Department of Immigration will not issue certificates of identity to non nationals born in The Bahamas.
The department also will not accept first-time applications for residence or work permits from those who have no legal status in The Bahamas.
In recent weeks, several people have alleged mistreatment by immigration officers.
Mitchell said recently there is no evidence of abuse and the allegations are being investigated.
He said the government will not tolerate abuse of migrants and vowed that those who abuse detainees will suffer the consequences.
Mitchell is scheduled to return to The Bahamas on Wednesday.

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More police presence in tourist areas, officer says

December 15, 2014

The police presence in tourist areas has been beefed up in the wake of a fourth travel advisory to American citizens.
Other destinations have also increased the police presence near tourist attractions due to crime incidents, according to international reports.
Chief Superintendent Leamond Deleveaux, the commanding officer of the Central Division, told The Nassau Guardian yesterday, "I've been putting a police officer on every corner for over six months, and within the last month we've gotten more officers."
The entire complement of newly graduated officers has been deployed to Bay Street, Deleveaux said.
Officers have been assigned to the city center, tourist attractions, Potter's Cay Dock, Harbour Bay Shopping Center, Montagu Beach and Meeting and Augusta Streets.
Deleveaux said the officers posted at Meeting Street and Augusta Street "act as a buffer" to direct wandering tourists toward the city center.
According to Deleveaux, crimes against tourists are non-existent. He said, "To be honest with you, crimes against tourists are almost non-existent, despite what you hear or is printed in the media."
The U.S. Embassy issued the following advisory in November: "While U.S. citizens have not been targeted directly, over the past several weeks there has been an increase in the level of crime in areas where U.S. citizens live and frequent. We also have noticed criminals increasingly becoming more brazen and creative in their methods. For example, three armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas, including an armed assailant assaulting and robbing a woman walking near Ardastra Gardens. In mid-October, during daylight hours in a heavily populated area, two men armed with handguns robbed customers waiting in the drive-thru line at a local restaurant. Armed assailants have placed random items in the street as impromptu roadblocks so unassuming drivers would stop and could be robbed. A man was shot at Potter's Cay, near the base of the Paradise Island bridge, at a time when tourists would still be frequenting the area."
There has been a sustained police presence in Chippingham since the armed robbery near Ardastra Gardens, Deleveaux said.
Deleveaux said while tourists are a "priority", everyone should feel safe in the city.
According to USA Today, the St. Thomas police stepped up foot patrols in tourist areas across the island following the 2010 shooting death of 14-year-old Carnival passenger Liz Marie Perez Chaparro.
In 2011, Puerto Rico increased patrols in tourist areas in the capital of San Juan to reassure visitors the area remains safe despite a rising homicide rate in much of the island, according to the Associated Press.
According to the Daily Mail, hundreds of armed police were placed around Paris' major tourist monuments in 2013 because of an influx of criminal gangs from eastern Europe.

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Greenslade says he will not arm all off-duty officers

December 15, 2014

Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said while his "heart grieves" for Sergeant Wayne Rolle, who was recently murdered, it is "nonsense" for anyone to suggest that the off-duty officer would have stood a better chance if he was armed.
Around 7 p.m. on December 11, Rolle was shot dead on Montrose Avenue and Durham Street. He was found slumped over in a jeep.
The day after the shooting, Police Staff Association (PSA) Executive Chairman Inspector Dwight Smith said officers should be allowed to carry firearms when off duty.
Asked whether he believes Rolle would have stood a better chance of surviving had be been armed, Smith said he did not want to speculate.
However, he said whether an officer is off duty or not, that officer is expected to fulfill his duty to protect the public.
When asked, Greenslade said any suggestion that Rolle would have survived if he was armed is "nonsense".
"Let me take away from the public and from my officers, and for many of you listening, this view that because you have a gun you are all powerful and you are safe," Greenslade said.
"That is a flawed impression. If you have a gun and your back is turned, and the bad person knows you have a gun, you're dead if they come upon you from the rear."
Greenslade said he has spoken to Smith previously and intends to speak with him again today.
"I have reminded him of the laws of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas...that he does not speak for the commissioner of the Royal Bahamas Police Force on matters of discipline or promotion," he said.
"...As commissioner I have been very respectful and decent as far as my utterances.
"I am going to ask him finally to stop it.
"I have said it to him privately and...I blame the press for entertaining it.
"Stop encouraging disrespect. I have had sufficient of that. The law is clear that he is to consult the commissioner, speak to me, write to me and bring to my attention issues of concern."
Greenslade said focus should be placed on solving Rolle's murder.
"What I would like to hear him or any other officer say, if authorized to speak, [is] that you should please turn in the murderer," he said.
"Please turn in the person that murdered Sergeant Wayne Rolle.
"Please turn in the people [who] have murdered our citizens."
Greenslade said no one should assume an officer is not armed.
"I have a duty of care and I have exercised it," he said.
"I am telling you, notwithstanding what you hear, police officers are well-trained.
"They are well-armed and in sufficient numbers that this public can be comfortable.
"What I am more concerned about, is that given the number of firearms this commissioner has in the hands of police officers of all ages, that the officers understand how heavy that obligation is if they use that weapon."

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