Nassau Guardian Stories

Tureano Johnson claims WBC Continental Americas title

July 19, 2014

Last week, Tureano Johnson claimed the WBC Continental Americas middleweight title at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton, Wash.
He defeated 28-year-old Mike Gavronski by unanimous decision after their ten-round brawl on Friday night.
The win was a good rebound for Johnson after he suffered a controversial loss to American fighter Curtis Stevens.
Gavronski came out and gave Johnson a bit more than he was expecting early in the fight. He was the stronger of the team fighters and managed to catch Johnson with several clean blows in the early rounds. Despite getting off to a quick start, Gavronski began to slow down midway through the fight. Johnson was clearly in better shape, and as the rounds passed, Johnson began to build momentum.
At the beginning of the sixth round, Gavronski was faced with an unusual problem; his right shoe began to come apart from the bottom. Although he was able to continue fighting, it was a hindrance to him, as his shoe flapped throughout the remainder of the bout.
In the final two rounds Johnson began to run circles around his opponent. He connected with head shots at will and staggered Gavronski on several occasions. Many thought that Gavronski took too much punishment late in the fight and that it should have been stopped at the end of the eighth round.
The ringside doctor was asked to check on Gavronski in the final rounds by suggestion of the referee, but the athlete claimed that he was still able to fight.
As the fight went to the scorecards, there was no doubt about who the victor of the match was going to be.
On the day of the fight, Johnson had to lose two pounds to make the weight for the fight. That kind of rapid weight loss usually results in fatigue or dehydration. But despite that, Johnson was still able to emerge victorious.
"From the very first round, believe it or not, I was exhausted and I was tired. In boxing terms, I was a 'bit shot', which means I was unable to deliver a lot of punches. But thanks to almighty God I was able to get through the fight," said Johnson.
"Each round got harder and harder, but I noticed in the seventh round my opponent started to get a bit fatigued, and that's when my momentum started to pick up. I also gained a little bit of confidence as it went on, but that was not my best showing at all."
With the win, Johnson now has a professional record of 15-1 with 10 knockouts.

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Connecting the Caribbean

July 19, 2014

Holly Bynoe chooses her words carefully and deliberately. The soft-spoken co-founder of ARC Magazine doesn't rush herself when she's got something to say. And, when the words do come to her, she has a knack for making the listener feel their significance, especially where art is concerned.
That's why, when she agreed to meet with me during her last visit to Nassau, on the verandah of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB), I knew I could learn something about the role art continues to play across the Caribbean and throughout the diaspora.
A native of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Bynoe moved to Trinidad at 17 to study biochemistry. Unsatisfied with her academic choice, she transferred to Adelphi University in New York, where she found her way to photography through a communications degree. Years later, in addition to her work with ARC, Bynoe has gained respect for her short films, mixed-media works and work as a curator.
"It took me a long time to think about how my life would be valued by myself, trying to figure out what type of experience I would want to have throughout life, and if arts was the best way - and if it could have been valuable, not only as a matter of expressing oneself, but thinking about security, thinking about a community. It could be quite an isolating experience. Thankfully that hasn't been the case," she said.
Editor-in-chief of ARC, Bynoe has managed to weave a large network of artists across the islands and North America via the internationally-distributed publication. Established only three years ago, in 2011, ARC now reaches as far as the U.K.; Bynoe's hope is to get the word out about the region's art and artists.
"I think that people have a certain type of understanding about Caribbean art, and it's been stereotyped. And we have to debunk and remove these preconceived notions that did exist for a reason, and have existed, because we perpetuate it," she said.
Referring to work that has been pigeonholed as 'Caribbean' - often reflecting picturesque landscapes - Bynoe's hope is that ARC provides a space to showcase Caribbean peoples' intellect, cultural understandings and artistic talent.
"In The Bahamas, it's conch shells, sand, pretty paintings of the sun. It becomes really typical. But that's not really what the creative arena here is like...People are thinking; people are being critical; people are being political; people are being unafraid. They're trying to confront internalized issues, so having that platform to support that type of work gives the Caribbean a certain type of currency where we're no longer laissez-faire people who are just drinking rum on the beach. We're actually thinking critically about our experiences. For me, having the ability to move around the Caribbean and expose a public - who might be completely unaware - to the density of work is incredible."
For the past few years, she and ARC co-founder Nadia Huggins have been hard at work doing just that. In her travels throughout the West Indies and North America, Bynoe has not overlooked The Bahamas. The editor has made herself well acquainted with the local visual arts scene, featuring the works of several Bahamian artists on ARC's pages and dropping in at exhibitions and events.
Partnering with COB lecturer and artist Michael Edwards to curate this year's National Exhibition (NE7) at the NAGB, Bynoe's passion and sensitivity to art from the Caribbean diaspora will be channeled under the 2014 theme, which focuses on confronting and questioning modern notions of race, specifically blackness and whiteness.
The exhibition, expected to open November 6, will host works of Bahamian artists and artists of Bahamian descent. Bynoe, in her travels thus far, has been impressed with the size and unity of the local visual arts community.
"There's not a lot of fracturing (in The Bahamas). There's not a lot of decisiveness, not a lot of division. And you have people within the institution who want to work with these artists, so there's an openness to the business to think about the larger way in which the art will appear globally, as well," she said.
Citing a lack of alliance and support as one of the major challenges to artist communities in the region, Bynoe believes the key to changing the perception and awareness of Caribbean art throughout the world lies in collaboration.
"It's like small pond, big fish syndrome, where you have a little bit and you just fight and you breakdown your community, and it becomes something that no longer is a benefit to you. With a neutral platform like ARC there's a little bit of a diffusion with that. People are starting to see the bigger picture of the industry."
Like many Caribbean artists, Bynoe's ultimate goal is social change and progression throughout the nations, which she believes share similar challenges by virtue of a shared history. Fortunately, ARC's strong networking pull has already begun promoting dialogue amongst artists throughout the Caribbean states. Bynoe's hope is that the publication prompts the region's societies to begin to consider and value the power of art as a catalyst for positive societal evolution.
"When you offer an open platform and an open forum to start these discussions, we become self aware; we become valued; we become centered as a community, and we become introspective. With these four things manifesting themselves, you can change your country. You can change your family dynamic. You can change your relationships to people around you. So, essentially, it acts as a tool to navigate through life."

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10 Questions

July 19, 2014



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Thinking outside the beach

July 19, 2014

It's no big secret that so much of what is being marketed and sold in Downtown Nassau comes from countries many of us have never seen. A brief stroll on Prince George Wharf will reveal that many goods that have come from The Bahamas have often been robbed of their full lifespans - starfish drying out in the sun and underdeveloped conch shells are sold as cute trinkets.
This may be fine for visitors who are content with mass-produced T-shirts and rum-riddled drinks on the beach, but many are looking for a more genuine experience. And Bahamians, too, want validation that their country possesses history, culture and beauty beyond its sandy shores.
In 2012 Jaime Lewis took over from artist Jon Murray in working to close the gap in Bahamian cultural awareness. Beginning as Murray's Downtown Art Tours, the company now operates as Islandz Tours and is run by CEO Lewis and VP of Operations Orchid Burnside.
Managing four separate walking tours, Islandz hopes to provide participants with an authentic Bahamian experience - hence its motto, 'Think outside the beach'. Most of its patrons are cruise ship passengers who have a few precious hours to spend in the capital, and Burnside and Lewis have been putting in the work to make each minute count.
The Downtown Art Tour has been rebranded as Gallery Hop, and includes stops at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB), Antonius Roberts' Hillside House and a quick break at the D'Aguilar Art Foundation or The Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Gallery. Participants are also given briefings on Downtown Nassau's historic passageways and Love My Bahamas public art murals.
For those looking to soak up the atmosphere with a bite to eat, the Art&Dine tour offers the best of both worlds. An all-inclusive option, explorers can have several of their senses delighted with the Gallery Hop followed by lunch at Hillside House, courtesy of The Distinguished Palate (open Tuesday to Friday, from 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.).
For Burnside, the best thing about her job is meeting a variety of travelers on any given day. "I change their impression of The Bahamas. A lot of them have these preconceived notions, and they walk away feeling like they got a sense of our country," she said.
The enterprise also offers two alcoholic tours. The first is its Rum Runner's Passage. This walk features six rum tastings, two cocktails, conch fritters, rum-infused chocolates and guava duff spread over four locations. The second option, known as Bites on Booze Avenue - named aptly for Bay Street's 1920s pseudonym, is Islandz only tour that is offered in the evenings. Stopping at three downtown bars, participants are offered three shots of John Watling's rum, three cocktails featuring John Watling's rum and nibbles including mango-glazed fish, sushi, hot wings and conch fritters.
Lewis and Burnside are all about making learning fun - that's why they've got plans in the works for a new tour fit for anyone with a sense of adventure. The Nassau City Seeker is a scavenger hunt that affords those used to independent travel an opportunity to get off the beaten path. Competing for prizes like John Watling's rum, Tortuga rum cakes and Graycliff chocolates, participants will be given a map and an hour and a half to collect as many points as they can.
"I had one woman, for example, who got a free cruise (to New Providence) and she almost didn't take it because she hated Nassau," said Burnside. "And she thought it was just 20 T-shirts for a dollar everywhere, and all these people harassing you, and that the food wasn't that good. But she spent two hours with us, and she was like, 'Now I've seen a different side to your country, to this island, and I would come back again'."
All Islandz Tours walking expeditions range in price from $40-$70 and can accommodate groups of two to 10 persons. Those keen on learning more about Downtown Nassau's hidden gems and anyone interested in joining Islandz as a tour guide are encouraged to contact Lewis or Burnside at info@islandztours.com or visit the site online at islandztours.com.

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Unemployment down to 14.3

July 19, 2014

Unemployment in The Bahamas dropped from 15.4 percent in November 2013 to 14.3 percent in May 2014, according to the results of the latest Labour Force Survey released yesterday.
The survey conducted in May references the period April 28 to May 4, 2014.
The labor force in May totaled 197,335 people.
Both New Providence and Grand Bahama experienced a decline in unemployment.
In the case of New Providence, the rate fell from 15.6 to 15 percent, and in Grand Bahama from 16.8 to 14.7 percent.
Discouraged workers declined by 27.8 percent nationally, from 6,765 in November 2013 to 4,880 in May 2014.
In the new survey, the number of discouraged workers fell from 3,335 to 2,920 (12.4 percent) in New Providence and dropped from 1,915 to 760 (60 percent) in Grand Bahama.
Officials at the Department of Statistics said discouraged workers on Grand Bahama decreased significantly in part because some residents found jobs on Family Islands such as Bimini.
According to the standard definition of the International Labour Organization, discouraged workers are not considered unemployed as they have stopped looking for work because they feel there are no jobs available.
According to the latest survey, at the point it was taken, 28,295 people were listed as unemployed -- 14,705 women and 13,590 men.
More women were listed as unemployed and more men were listed as employed.
The results showed that 87,395 men were listed as employed, compared to 81,645 women.
The survey also showed that 13,590 men were listed as unemployed and 14,705 women were listed as unemployed.
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, Cypreanna Winters, the statistician responsible for the Labour Force Survey, said there are various contributing factors to the decrease in overall unemployment, particularly men finding jobs.
"We found those males to be concentrated mainly in the wholesale and retail industry and the hotel and restaurant industry," Winters said.
She added, "We don't have any scientific evidence to support the difference in the sexes, but we suspect that is where they are."
Unemployment among young people ages 15 to 24 continued to be considerably higher than any other age group, although decreasing from 32.3 percent to 28 percent, a difference of 4.3 percent.
However, it is unclear exactly how many people in that age bracket were unemployed at the time of the survey.
Officials have attributed the high rate of unemployment among young people over the years to their general lack of experience when entering a competitive labor market.
Winters attributed the decrease in youth unemployment to the government's National Training Agency (NTA) and Baha Mar's Leadership Development Institute.
"They (Baha Mar) had done an exercise, and I think they are in the process of doing one," she said.
"We are thinking that they are kind of the main contributors to the fact that the youth are more employed, and the training center."
The NTA, aimed at unskilled people between 17 and 25, has trained and assisted hundreds of graduates find jobs and placement programs.
Baha Mar's program is aimed at people aged between 16 and 24.
In the previous Labour Force Survey, conducted from October 28 to November 3, 2013 and released in February 2014, the department found that unemployment had decreased by less than one percent, from 16.2 percent to 15.4 percent.
10,000 jobs
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said recently that the government created more than the 10,000 jobs he promised during the 2012 general election campaign.
Davis, the minister of works and urban development, said his ministry alone has created that many jobs since his party took office.
According to the latest survey, 8,390 net jobs have been added to the economy since May 2012.
The number of people employed in May 2012 was 160,650 compared to the 169,040 people employed as of May 2014.
The total labor force totaled 188,310 people in May 2012, compared 197,335 in May 2014.
According to the latest survey, 2,445 net jobs were created between November 2013 and May 2014.
The number of net jobs added to the economy between May 2012 and November 2014 was 5,945, the survey shows.

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TUC resumes strike threat

July 19, 2014

Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Obie Ferguson suggested yesterday that talks with Prime Minister Perry Christie have been fruitless and the umbrella union is again preparing for "mass industrial action".
"We are finalizing our steps for solidarity, and we will take a stand," Ferguson said.
"We have not finalized all of the international procedures that we have to embark on, but certain steps have been taken to ensure that all of the requirements for us to have this united solidarity is in progress.
"We have received feedback from our affiliates, the Bahamian public and some non-governmental organizations.
"The workers have recommended us to engage a position in their interest, and we are prepared to do that."
Ferguson said the proposed action could be advanced within weeks and will take place throughout the nation.
He said the TUC's affiliates and their members have been put on notice.
In May, the TUC put thousands of workers across the country on notice as the umbrella union geared up for industrial action.
Ferguson said at the time the union planned to "level the playing field" in order to bring "respect and sanity in the workplace".
He said the Department of Labour had been "reduced to a toothless poodle", which lacked relevance and effectiveness.
Other issues were related to conciliation hearings,the effectiveness of the Industrial Tribal and the government settling the industrial agreements of several unions.
In a last effort to resolve the union's concerns, Ferguson met with Prime Minister Perry Christie that month.
However, he said yesterday that "nothing came out of those meetings", and he believes the union has exhausted every avenue.
According to Ferguson, the prime minister created a committee, including himself, Bishop Neil Ellis, senior pastor at Mount Tabor Church and Senior Policy Advisor Sir Baltron Bethel to address the TUC's concerns.
"Nothing has happened with respect to any of those matters," he told The Nassau Guardian.
"The purpose of those meetings was to try and find a way to resolve these matters without having to take industrial action.
"But we are back to where we were when we got started."
Ferguson also expressed concern about some of his members, whose employment statuses have been changed from permanent to independent to being on-call workers.
He accused the government of short-changing these workers on sick pay, vacation and holiday benefits and pension.

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McCartney: Murder rate down in New Providence

July 19, 2014

Deputy Commissioner of Police Quinn McCartney yesterday expressed concern about the reported 12 percent increase in murders, but said the murder rate on New Providence compared to this time last year is down.
"I think we have had a number of activities in the Family Islands," McCartney told The Nassau Guardian.
"Grand Bahama has had a significant number of murders this year, which has been a challenge to us.
"Then we have had a few other incidents throughout the islands.
"The national figure may be 12 percent or whatever percent it is, but by and large the New Providence murder rate is actually down or on par."
McCartney did not have statistics on him. He answered the question at Police Headquarters during a visit by Tuareano Johnson, Bahamian boxing champion.
During the recent budget debate in the House of Assembly, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage said between January 1 and June 10, 2014 murders were down on New Providence by four percent compared to the same period last year.
Despite a lull in violent crimes in the last few weeks, murders increased nationally by 12 percent between January 1 and July 16, 2014, compared to the same period in 2013, according to The Nassau Guardian's records.
There were 58 murders recorded during that period, compared to the 65 murders recorded for the year so far.
The figures show that 11 people were murdered in January, eight in February, nine in March, 12 in April, 16 in May and seven in June.
There have been two murders recorded this month so far -- one on Eleuthera and another on New Providence.
The murder count does not include several matters that have yet to be classified, including the four bodies found on April 3 on Anguilla Cay.
While speaking to The Guardian last week, Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said there has been a noticeable difference in the frequency of murders.
Three murders were reported since June 19.
Greenslade attributed that to the good work of police officers and the judiciary, which he said has put several known repeat offenders and career criminals behind bars.
McCartney said police will be relentless in ensuring people who commit crimes, especially violent crimes, are kept away from society.
"The initiative by the Office of the Attorney General with the Swift Justice Program, hopefully this will all help to get people who commit these offenses, once they go through the criminal justice system, to stay behind bars for long periods of time so that they cannot reoffend," he said.

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Man sentenced to 48 years for murder

July 19, 2014

A former fugitive has been sentenced to 48 years in prison for murder.
In sentencing 33-year-old Jason Marshall for the 2005 shooting death of Fabian Joffer, Justice Indra Charles said Friday, "Murders will not be tolerated. People have not yet learned, young men in particular, that you will be punished for serious crimes
"Men have lost control of themselves and retaliate in situations that do not warrant retaliation. Joffer was an innocent bystander."
The sentence takes effect from April 23, the date of his conviction.
A jury accepted the prosecution's contention that Marshall shot Joffer following an argument at a party on Major Road in Yellow Elder Gardens.
Witnesses alleged that Marshall returned with a 9mm pistol and shot Joffer.
Prosecutors said that Marshall's flight from the country to the United States by illegal means was evidence of his guilt.
Marshall was deported from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in February 2011.
He was arrested in Philadelphia for assault after he got into a fight with another man on October 2, 2010.
Marshall's lawyer Ian Cargill said that Marshall was sorry that Joffer had died, but maintained that he did not play a role in his death.
Marshall maintained that he was a victim of mistaken identity.
At the trial, Cargill argued there were three men called Jason at the party and investigators had failed to establish which Jason was responsible for the shooting, as they did not hold an identification parade.

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PM: Govt committed to protection of underwater cultural heritage

July 19, 2014

Prime Minister Perry Christie reaffirmed the government's commitment to the protection, preservation and expansion of Bahamian underwater cultural heritage this week.
Christie, who was speaking during the opening ceremony for the UNESCO Regional Meeting on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean at SuperClubs Breezes, said the Bahamian seas hold many treasures that must be protected.
UNESCO has partnered with the Bahamas government to raise awareness on the issue.
Through the meetings, which ended on Friday, UNESCO is hoping to encourage more countries in the region to support and implement the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and to safeguard and valorize their precious submerged heritage, Assistant Director General of Culture for UNESCO Kishore Rao said in a statement.
"The Caribbean region has a spectacular legacy of submerged archaeological sites ranging from shipwrecks to sunken cities and numerous prehistoric sites, preserved in the depths of the oceans," Rao added.
He noted the importance of curtailing the "scourge of illicit looting and commercial exploitation".
Christie said work must be done locally to establish a conservation plan to preserve the marine resources. He also noted the "pristine condition" of Bahamian waters.
"It is more than fitting that this meeting is being hosted in The Bahamas, a country that is rich in underwater cultural heritage," Christie said.
"The strategic geographic location of The Bahamas as the gateway to the Caribbean and the Americas has been shown for centuries, starting with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492 to the island of San Salvador.
"As the gateway between the Americas and Europe and the home to numerous reefs and shallow shoals, many ships ended their journey in our waters."
Christie said in addition to telling the stories of the treasures that are in the ocean, regional experts must also work toward finding ways to create opportunities.
"It is not enough for experts to study and present these stories," he said.
"But it is how the research into the Underwater Cultural Heritage can be merged into the future regional development of the Caribbean..."
Dozens of regional experts attended the meetings.
Director of UNESCO in Kingston, Jamaica, Christine Norton said such seminars are vital to raising awareness about protecting the ocean and everything in it.
Norton added that there are a number of issues threatening the oceans across the world, including treasure hunting and the increase in offshore industries.
Given those threats, Norton insisted that it will take a united effort to get results.

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Death row appeal delayed

July 19, 2014

The Court of Appeal was unable to hear the appeal of a condemned man who is challenging his conviction due to missing transcripts yesterday.
Anthony Clarke Sr., 48, was convicted of the September 16, 2011 shooting death of Aleus Tilus at Love Beach. His appeal is now scheduled for October.
According to his confession, Clarke was paid $5,000 by an unidentified man to murder Tilus, who had filed a complaint with the Labour Board against his employers.
Tilus, 40, was shot multiple times.
Clarke, an unmarried father of 15, did not show any remorse for the crime, according to a probation officer.
The mandatory death penalty was abolished in 2006 after the Privy Council ruled that it was unconstitutional.
According to the Privy Council, the requirements for imposing the death penalty are that the offense could be considered "the worst of the worst" and the offender is incapable of reform.
A 2011 amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code includes contract killings as a qualifying offense for the death penalty.

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Hamilton's anti-American tirade could have strained relations between The Bahamas and the U.S.

July 19, 2014

Dear Editor,
House Speaker Dr. Kendal Major probably saved The Bahamas from any severe reprisal it might have received from the government of President Barack Obama and the United States Congress when he brought to an abrupt end the reckless anti-American rant by South Beach MP Cleola Hamilton in Parliament during the debate on the Persons with Disabilities Bill.
Her anti-American tirade wasn't germane to the debate. She was out of order and should have been reprimanded by her superiors. Congress is made up of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Of the 435 members in the House of Representatives, 234 are Republicans and 199 are Democrats. There are two vacancies.
Of the 100 members of the Senate, 53 are Democrats, 45 are Republicans and two are Independents. Based on the make-up of Congress, the two major political parties which have dominated the American political landscape since 1854 and 1792, respectively, are nearly evenly divided in the Capitol.
Hamilton's broad-brush criticism wasn't only aimed at Obama and Democratic legislators; it was also aimed at Republicans. And while Republicans and Democrats are not seeing eye-to-eye on Obama's healthcare and amnesty policies, they would most certainly become galvanized in the face of any hostile and irrational criticism by a foreign government. Hamilton was probably anxious to show to Prime Minister Perry Christie and the Progressive Liberal Party her rabid devotion to the government and the party by attacking the U.S. government.
This nascent anti-Americanism may have been unwittingly spawned by Christie when he took a swipe at the U.S. government for its State Department investment report on The Bahamas. Whatever the case might be, the U.S. is this country's number one ally and this is something which even Hamilton cannot deny. The U.S. can survive without us, but we cannot survive without the U.S.
More than 80 percent of our visitors hail from the U.S. Without America, our tourism sector, which currently employs more Bahamians than any other sector, would crumble, resulting in an unemployment rate probably near 60 percent if not higher.
We owe our prosperity to the U.S. Most of what this country consumes comes from the U.S. Thousands of Bahamians are educated in U.S. colleges. It is the U.S. that offers this country military protection, as it did in the tragic HMBS Flamingo incident in 1980. Had it not been for the intervention of the U.S., we would have probably been completely overtaken by the foreign aggressors. Our defense force, with all due respect, is no match for even Haiti's military.
Without the U.S., The Bahamas would be another backward, third world nation struggling with hunger, high unemployment and disease. Hamilton's decision to criticize the U.S. was reckless and dangerous. The U.S. government is not the Free National Movement that members of the PLP love to pick on. Hamilton was swinging at the most powerful nation in the world with a military that could crush this country the way an elephant can crush a gnat. She was barking up the wrong tree. She should be reprimanded by Christie.
- Kevin Evans

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The FNM has a gem in Duane Sands

July 19, 2014

Dear Editor,
Dr. Duane Sands is a man after my own heart. He has demonstrated a care for people - both Bahamians and folks in wider society - that is becoming increasingly evident by his talk show and media appearances.
Quite honestly, Sands is perhaps one of the only FNM politicians who is sincerely speaking on behalf of the people, and who is sincerely trying to fight for the betterment of our country whilst proposing sober ideas for change for uplifting our country.
Where is Dr. Hubert Minnis, the so-called leader of the FNM who has failed to propose one sensible idea for this nation? Where is Minnis with any concrete idea or plan outside of watery-mouthed, vague responses that only he could understand?
Duane Sands has been labelled many untrue things over the years, from being lied on as one who could not relate to people (which was an attempt by his detractors to brand him with the same stigma that has been placed on his cousin Tommy Turnquest) to many other lies that are baseless and clearly the workings of a frightened political mind.
Who is the person instructing certain websites to attack Sands and other notable FNMs in the worst way? And why is it that if Minnis is criticized today by a particular FNM, these sites shortly thereafter attack his opponent in the most vile and personal way?
I would argue that Duane Sands is the most articulate, most centered and grounded of all of the possible FNM contenders for leadership within the Free National Movement. If Sands seeks to become the FNM's leader, deputy leader or seeks any other office within the FNM, at least the FNM can take comfort in knowing that it has among its ranks one of the smartest, most articulate Bahamian sons that it can offer.
Sands brings a depth to the Free National Movement, a party which has noticeably not been as profound since Minnis took over in 2012. I am surprised that this man hasn't been utilized in so many more ways.
I want to emphatically state here today that I support Sands and that I hope that the FNM realizes the gem it has lying in the rough among its numbers.
- Paulie DeGregory

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Party discipline and free speech

July 19, 2014

Three young government MPs, part of the much-touted "new generation" of politicians who will purportedly lead us into the future, decided to use this year's budget debate to express some independent ideas.
Marco City MP Gregory Moss criticized the plan to introduce value-added tax as being against the principles of the governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins stood up for Moss, while Nassau Village MP and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly Dion Smith called into question the government's approach to dealing with issues like crime and poverty.
In the run-up to the May 2012 election, the PLP made much of the fresh talent it had recruited to the ranks of its candidates. Here were the Young Turks who would reinvigorate the political scene and bring bold, innovative ideas to the party.
Yet no sooner had the three opened their mouths than the PLP old guard reared its formidable head to restore party discipline and remind them of their place.
PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts said Moss spoke "out of turn" and Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald called the young MP's perspective misguided; while former Cabinet Minister George Smith questioned how Smith could suggest the PLP had lost touch with the people.
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries V. Alfred Gray warned the new generation not to be "fast on their tongues" and act independently, as a single mistake can end a political career.
The entrenched political culture of The Bahamas would have us believe that strong internal discipline, a united front among MPs and the ability of everyone to stay "on message" are fundamental conventions of our system of party politics.
However, this is actually quite far from the truth. The history of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy, to which The Bahamas as a commonwealth country adheres, is littered with dozens of backbench revolts and hundreds of bills defeated through the combined votes of dissident governing MPs and opposition members.
To this day, a lively tradition of free and independent speech among MPs is so strong in most commonwealth countries that the party whip - an official whose job it is to ensure the government has sufficient support among its own MPs to pass laws - remains a crucial and very demanding post.
This is as it should be. The consequences of the closed ranks, lockstep approach to politics that is obviously alive and well in The Bahamas can have considerable negative consequences for the country as a whole.
Rollins hit the nail on the head when he said of the old guard's perspective: "Such thinking is dangerous, as it can be construed to imply that we must prioritize the interests of the party above the interests of our nation".
It is hoped these and other Young Turks will

have the courage to continue speaking their conscience, no matter what the establishment has to say about it.

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The finite side of life

July 19, 2014

My father just celebrated, on June 28, his 102nd birthday. I have the privilege of being his caregiver in Haiti, as all my five brothers and sisters had to continue their nomadic lives in the United States.
I am watching a proud man (he was chief civil court judge in Port au Prince Haiti) losing his ability to be self-sufficient in his daily chores. Between bouts of reciting complete poems of Virgil or Athalie of Jean Racine, there were times when he did not know who I was and when he wanted to receive no visitors.
I came back on Saturday, July 5, from the national funeral of Professor Lesly Manigat, the former president of Haiti, a moving ceremony when President Michel Martelly, paying homage to the widow of the late president, urged the Haitian people to bury the hatchet and work for a Haiti that shall become hospitable to all in the spirit dreamed of by Lesly Manigat all his life.
My 24-year-old daughter has just had a surprise party for her birthday. I remember as if it was yesterday when she was a baby, holding her in front of a painting because I had read this exercise would render your child very smart.
These three vignettes all lead to my elaboration of the concept that life is finite while the patrimony, the children and the good works constitute the indefinite part of life. This essay is an ode to the class of 2014 as it is being sent off on a new path in its journey on this earth.
The days pass but they are part of a continuum that will lead one to a death certain, which is the finality of each one of us. Having been created in God's image, we aspire to being eternal, yet mortality is our lot since the transgression of Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden fruit.
The story of my father and the death of the Professor Lesly Manigat indicate that life is short; we have to take advantage of each day to root a family that will prolong our lives on this earth. The patrimony transmitted by the parents must be enlarged before it is bequeathed to the next generation and the accumulation of good works must be accelerated because, after all, time is ruthless to those who procrastinate.
The trilogy of prolonging our lives through our children, enlarging the received patrimony and multiplying good works should be the business of each one of the graduates.
I remember while in graduate school of social work at Columbia University, the students, who were mostly women, wanted to succeed in their professional lives before settling into matrimony. My empirical survey 40 years later indicates that most of these women did succeed in their professional lives, but have failed miserably in forging a family.
Lesson one for the young ladies (as well for the young men): build your family as soon as you can. I have made the empirical observation that those women who have children early in their lives look younger later as they age. The building of a genealogy requires a next generation made by the children of each member of the family or the grooming of the nieces and the nephews by those who are childless.
The patrimony is the accumulation of assets transmitted by the parents and enlarged by the children. I have seen parents and children of today competing to deny each other the strength of the multiplication of human resources and the full energy of the young and the wisdom of things seen and done by the old.
The concept of patrimony is the roadmap to wealth creation. When a family stands together behind the legacy of the grandfathers, abundance arrives early because each link in the chain offers a guarantee to the other links, so that swimming in the raging sea, they will all ride with the waves; thereby creating a family tableau worthy of framing.
Finally, graduates of 2014: according to one of the best futurists that I know, by the name of Emil Vlagki, the future of the world will be a bleak one, unless you endow yourself with the best education possible, beyond your college degree as such. Graduate school should be one of your objectives; armed with your higher degree, practice creativity and flexibility: abundance and satisfaction will be your lot for the rest of your life, enriching yourself and your nation.
Life might have a finite aspect, but following this path will lead you into infinity in this earth and certainly beyond, fulfilling the goal set for you by the creator: "Bring me the sacrifice of your time and watch to how abundantly I bless you and your loved ones"[Psalm 73-23.24]. Continue this intimate journey, trusting that the path you are following is headed for Heaven.
o Jean H. Charles, LLB MSW, JD, is a syndicated columnist with Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at: jeancharles@aol.com and followed at Caribbeannewsnow/Haiti. This is published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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Public sector wage boost
Public sector wage boost

July 18, 2014

The government yesterday signed an industrial agreement with the Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) that will, among other things, increase the minimum wage for nearly 2,000 members of the union by $800 a year...

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Disabled Bahamians applaud passage of new bill

July 18, 2014

Townsley Roberts, an amputee, is among the minority in the disabled community.
That's because he has a job. Roberts, 38, prepares financial statements at Aetos Holdings on Tonique Williams-Darling Highway.
Kaleisha Rolle, a 26-year-old amputee, who is bound to a wheelchair, isn't as fortunate. She is among the majority in the disabled community.
In The Bahamas, where a large number of able-bodied people are unemployed, the chances of employment for a disabled person are slim, Roberts told The Guardian yesterday. He said he knows he is among the "lucky few" who have a job.
"We have been traditionally discriminated against," he said, referring to disabled people.
"People make assumptions about our intelligence because of our disabilities."
Of the more than 10,000 disabled people in The Bahamas, only 17 percent of those who are 15 or older are employed, according to 2010 Census figures that were released by the Department of Statistics in February.
And while those statistics are daunting, Roberts said the disabilities bill, which was passed in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, gives the disabled community some hope.
The Persons with Disabilities Equal Opportunities Bill seeks to make it illegal to deny a disabled person equal access to opportunities for suitable employment.
Both Rolle and Roberts were born with both legs. However, tragic circumstances led to both having a leg amputated.
Rolle said she was diagnosed with a type of bone cancer in 1993. She was eight at the time. Following surgery to remove the tumor, she said she had complications and had her left leg amputated above the knee.
In 2000, as she prepared to enter into the 12th grade, Rolle said she had a major stroke, which made traveling even more difficult. That's when she was confined to a wheelchair.
Rolle said she never finished high school.
Roberts was five when he had his left leg amputated at the knee.
He said two women were fighting when one of threw a peanut butter jar at the other. He said a piece of the broken glass cut him on the back of his leg. The cut was infected and he contracted gangrene, he said. In order to save his life, Roberts said doctors amputated his leg.
Roberts who has two associates degrees from The College of The Bahamas, said many disabled people drop of out school because they are constantly teased and bullied by other students.
Roberts said he has been working in the accounts department at his current job for 19 years.
In comparison, Rolle said she only had one temporary job in her life. She said she only got the job because she knew the manager.
Rolle said she doesn't believe that people would hire her because she hasn't finished high school and because of her disability.
Rolle said after she recovered from cancer treatment and her amputation in 1993, she was excited to return to school.
"I was just trying to get over one hurdle -- that was the cancer. I was terrified. But after I went through the treatment, I thought that was it. I was like, 'Here comes my normal life,'" she said.
"I went back to school. It was hard. I faced harassment. It was horrible. I could never ever forget that time. I was in Carlton Francis Primary School. In grade seven it was harder at S.C. McPherson."
Rolle said when she had her stroke she was forced to leave school.
"I was like a baby," she said. "My mother had to do everything for me."
Eleven years later, Rolle said she found the courage to return to school, in a bid to make herself more attractive to prospective employers. She said she enrolled in the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute three years ago and is studying to become an office assistant.
When she graduates, she hopes to find a job so that she can become more independent.
Both Rolle and Roberts said they are grateful to the government for bringing a bill that will protect the rights of people like them.
According to the bill, businesses that have 100 employees or more would be required to employ a minimum number of disabled people.
The bill states that not less than one percent of qualified disabled people have to be employed at such businesses.
Employers would be barred from discriminating against disabled people in relation to recruitment; advertisement for employment; creation, classification or abolition of posts; determination or allocation of wages, salaries, pensions or other such benefits and the choices for training, advancement or promotion.
Roberts said people in the disabled community have been fighting for such rights for a long time.
Both Roberts and Rolle said they were at the House of Assembly on Wednesday when the bill was passed.
"It was such an enjoyment. It was a weight lifted off our shoulders," Roberts said.
Rolle offered similar sentiments.
"I know we waited until 41 years, but I thank God for everything," she said.
"Thank the Lord for helping us."
Moving forward, Rolle said she hopes the issue doesn't fall through the cracks.
She added that she is hoping that the bill is passed in the Senate soon and is enacted.
Under the new law, any building where members of the public are permitted would have to be adapted to accommodate those with disabilities.
Building owners would be given two years after the legislation is brought into force to make their structures disability-friendly.

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Murders up 12 percent

July 18, 2014

Despite a lull in violent crimes in the last few weeks, murders increased by 12 percent between January 1 and July 16, 2014, compared to the same period in 2013, according to The Nassau Guardian's records.
There were 58 murders recorded during this period compared to the 65 murders recorded this year so far.
A closer look at the figures show that 11 people were murdered in January; eight in February; nine in March; 12 in April, 16 in May and seven in June.
There have been two murders recorded this month so far -- one on Eleuthera and another on New Providence.
The most recent victim, Akeem Sands, 24, of Pinewood Gardens, was shot dead and found on a dirt road off Cowpen Road south around 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
Nearly two weeks ago, Haywood Thompson, 21, an Eleuthera resident, was found with multiple stab wounds in an unfinished building on that island in North Palmetto Point.
The murder count does not include several matters that have yet to be classified.
While speaking to The Guardian last week, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said there has been a noticeable difference in the frequency of murders.
Three murders were reported sine June 19.
Greenslade attributed that to the good work of police officers and the judiciary, which he said has put several known repeat offenders and career criminals behind bars.
In June, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage said 34 people were arrested and charged with murder for the year.
At the time, Nottage said all major crimes in New Providence with the exception of attempted murder and manslaughter, were down.
He said between January 1 and June 10, 2014, murders were down by four percent in New Providence compared to the same period last year.
When Nottage made that announcement the murder count stood at 62.
"That is too many, Mr. Speaker. That is too much," he said in the House of Assembly.
In May, Nottage said he is "personally satisfied" that the government is on the right track in the fight against crime.
He said the crime problem will not be fixed overnight. He added that he spends every waking hour formulating strategies and crime solutions.
Since coming to office, the government has been heavily criticized for the high level of crime.
Nassau Village MP Dion Smith said recently the government has to do more to address the problem.
"We have to do more in our response, Mr. Speaker, as the crime epidemic is eating away at the very soul of this nation," said Smith during his contribution to the budget debate.
"We are losing too many of our bright and talented people to the war on our streets."

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Woman gives account of boyfriend's fatal stabbing

July 18, 2014

A woman on trial for killing her boyfriend outside his apartment told a jury yesterday that she remained in an abusive relationship because she was in love.
Halisia Smith, a room attendant at Kerzner International, testified that her main concern was her safety and that of her daughter when she swung at Aldean Gibson Jr. with an unknown object on May 3, 2012.
Smith is on trial for manslaughter and has denied the charge at her trial before Justice Indra Charles.
Smith said she and Gibson began dating in 2010.
She said she did not press charges against Gibson for beating her because she loved him and she did not want him to lose his job.
She cried as she recounted a 2011 incident in which Gibson allegedly pounded her in the face because he was angry that one of his friends was her e- contact.
According to Smith, she and Gibson had ended their tumultuous relationship shortly before their last fight.
Smith remained composed as she recalled how Gibson gripped her by the neck as he tried to drag her into his home.
Smith said she was holding her daughter in her left hand and she found an object in her car's side pocket and swung back at Gibson.
She said once he released his grip, she ran into a neighbor's home.
Smith denied assertions by prosecution witnesses that she was already safe when she left a neighbor's house and slashed Gibson in the neck.
In response to a question from prosecutor Cordell Frazier, Smith said she was not upset that Gibson had started taking out the music set out of her vehicle.
The case continues today. Smith, who is on bail, is represented by Wayne Munroe.

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Two months after spy claims emerged, U.S. silent

July 18, 2014

Two months after allegations surfaced that the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States was recording and archiving every cell phone call in The Bahamas, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said yesterday the government is still awaiting a formal response from the Americans.
"I don't have anything new to say about it at all," he said.
"It was where it was the last time I spoke."
Mitchell had said that the government was expected to receive a report from the U.S. Department of State last month addressing the claims.
The allegations were first reported on May 19 and were based on documents leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.
The story was originally reported by U.S. website The Intercept.
According to the documents, the NSA was using a program called SOMALGET to store and collect full take audio of cell phone calls in The Bahamas and one other country, revealed to be Afghanistan by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
In the past several weeks, Mitchell has raised the matter with CARICOM and the Organization of American States.
Last Sunday, Mitchell told members of the foreign service and Bahamians in Miami that The Bahamas faces challenges to its independence "each year, each month, each day [and] every minute in that day".
"Within the past year, you have heard about the allegations of the spying on Bahamian telephone conversations and you have seen the responses from Bahamians and their discomfort about it," he said during an independence service at St. Agnes in Miami, Florida.
"Some would have us be silent in the face of an allegation that unlawful conduct by a foreign state is taking place in our country."
But Mitchell said Bahamians must always speak up for the country.
"It does not always come in big battles like the ones you read about in the history books where armies and navies come and land and invade your shores and make you a captured people," he said.
"These days there are more subtle and insidious incursions against which we have to guard, for which we have to teach our children and there are enemies without and within.
"It is not grandstanding to speak up for The Bahamas.
"Those who make such an assertion are in fact raising questions about their own patriotism and dedication to our country."

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U.S. diplomat: Criticisms not reflective of U.S.-Bahamas relations

July 18, 2014

New U.S. Charge d'Affaires Lisa Johnson said yesterday the "negative" points contained in a recent U.S. Department of State report critical of The Bahamas government are not reflective of the relationship between the United States and The Bahamas.
Johnson said the media "grabbed" on to the uncomplimentary sentences in that report.
She added that the report also highlighted many of the accomplishments that the government made.
"The relationship between The Bahamas and the United States remains strong," she said when asked about criticisms following the release of the 2014 Investment Climate Statement on The Bahamas.
The report highlighted the Christie administration's failure to fulfill many of its "ambitious campaign promises of economic and fiscal reform".
"The investment climate report is something we issue for 80 countries worldwide," Johnson said.
"We do it every year. People who have read the report will see it commends a number of things that the government has done and a number of initiatives. We are encouraging Americans and American companies to invest here.
"The media of course is going to go to the one or two negative sentences and grab it and that's politics. I don't think it's reflective at all of the relationship between our two countries."
Several MPs have criticized the United States over the report that raised concerns over the alleged lack of transparency and "undue government interference" in The Bahamas government's bidding and procurement process.
The report also noted that the government failed to implement a mortgage relief plan and create 10,000 new jobs as promised.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Cleola Hamilton is the latest to speak out against the report.
"Personally, I think, Mr. Speaker, it is disingenuous coming from a country whose congress sits around and does absolutely nothing and failed to fulfill its election promises to its people," she said during debate on the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Bill on Wednesday.
But before she could continue, House Speaker Dr. Kendal Major stopped her.
Prime Minister Perry Christie said last week the report delved into areas where it ought not to have gone.
"I'm always surprised when [the Americans] set a standard that they would not want anyone else to go," he said.
"For example, should I be talking about how many failed promises President Barack Obama had? It just doesn't make any kind of sense to me that I should go there."
As Johnson noted, the report does highlight several positives including the strength of the financial sector.
"The financial sector of The Bahamas is highly developed and dynamic, providing a wide array of services by several types of financial intermediaries," the report said.

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