Nassau Guardian Stories

Brave but reticent

October 24, 2014

Dear Editor,
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works Philip Brave Davis says it is up to the fired Renward Wells to reveal to the public why he signed the poisonous Stellar Waste to Energy LOI.
Quoth Davis, "He just has to explain what happened... As I said before, what he did, I would not have done, but I understand why he did what he did." You don't say?
For some unaccountable reason, I was under the impression that Davis was Wells' boss and that, as the minister responsible, it was and is his duty to give the country an explanation for the actions of his staffer, instead of passing the buck to Wells while throwing him under the bus.
Moreover, Davis has never been lacking when it comes to making ridiculous statements, the latest concerning the $50 million to $500 million budget to revamp BEC, so why the sudden reticence?
- Ian Mabon

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Underserving your supporters

October 24, 2014

Dear Editor,
Generally when a new government gets elected it seeks to ingratiate itself to the electorate by keeping campaign promises. This current government has consistently sought to outdo itself by frustrating, ignoring and neglecting the very people who voted them in.
The government of the day does not seem to understand that they are not presently in power because all of those who voted did so for them, but rather because many frustrated voters cast their votes against the last FNM government.
Never have I heard so many disappointed with the way they marked their Xs. It is these very voters that the government continues to insult the intelligence of, under-represent and underserve.
It will be these very voters who will deflate their mammoth egos and send their jet-set lives into a tailspin. I daresay that the governance we have witnessed has put a permanent blight on the once respectable political careers of many in the upper echelon of the PLP leadership.
The only problem Bahamians who love this country have is that we cannot immediately end the hopeless quagmire of incompetence, scandal and debt that results from living under this present government. In my opinion, Bahamians are ready to choose political novices over what is presently being offered to us.
Our politicians ought not be oblivious to the fact that the memories of Bahamians are not as short as they were once thought to be.
- J. B.

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Rapists should be publicly flogged with cat o' nine tails

October 24, 2014

Dear Editor,
It is deeply disconcerting to hear of the proliferation of rape incidents in New Providence in the past several weeks. The October 16 edition of The Tribune states that four women were sexually violated in the past three weeks, not counting the latest victim, who was sexually assaulted in the early hours of the morning on October 15.
An official from the Central Detective Unit said he does not think that the first four rape incidents are related. Whether or not the rash of rapes are the work of one individual or an organized group of sexual predators, the fact remains that five women have been psychologically scarred and have been severely traumatized.
The incidents not being related offers very little emotional relief to the victims and their families.
There are at least two ways to effectively eliminate rape and other sex crimes, such as child molestation, or at the very least reduce such criminal conducts to their lowest possible level. The state can either implement the death penalty, which has been advocated by several American Christian reconstructionists in recent years, and which was practiced by the ancient Hebrews under the Mosaic legislation; or the state can simply carry out public floggings, with the view of humiliating individuals whose guilt has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt in the courts.
In this regard, the cat o' nine-tails, which was used by the Royal Navy of the British Empire, our former colonial masters, is an ideal instrument of punishment for morally depraved individuals who have no qualms about sexually assaulting another human being. The morbid sight of a rape felon being whipped with cat o' nine-tails would cause potential rapists to think twice, if the idea of violating a person ever crosses their mind. This is what I call a classic form of crime prevention. Its success is a given.
What I'm suggesting will undoubtedly be considered politically incorrect, medieval and draconian by the humanist secular ideologues who want a Godless society where the Christian religion is not factored into the equation. Notwithstanding this group, the government must takes off its kid gloves and adopt a radical, ruthless approach when dealing with rapists in order to protect the citizens it has been mandated by God to protect.
If the state fails to protect its citizens, then it has failed miserably to fulfill the purpose it was mainly created for.
- Kevin Evans

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Supporting reputable charities

October 24, 2014

The Bahamas AIDS Foundation is hosting the 21st annual Red Ribbon Ball on Saturday, November 22 in the Grand Ballroom of the Atlantis resort.
President of The Bahamas AIDS Foundation Camille Lady Barnett said recently that the foundation raised $80,000 last year and hopes for even more at this event.
"We need to raise more funds to support the work of the foundation, especially three of our most important and costly programs," she said.
The Bahamas has had the highest HIV adult prevalence rate in the region. Outreach to those suffering with the virus is important.
Lady Barnett pointed to the outreach program for adolescents infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. This program is holistic in nature and as such provides academic, psychosocial and financial support along with food, clothing, life skills, job training and preparation skills, computer access and peer support.
The annual cost per child for the outreach program is $2,000. The foundation currently works with 50 adolescents.
Another program is the purchase of medications. These are not the generic medicines currently provided free of charge by the Ministry of Health, but special medications that some patients need. They are costly, Lady Barnett noted.
The foundation has made a commitment to provide these medicines for four patients.
"That is all that we can presently afford to support," Lady Barnett said. "This program costs $24,000 a year."
The final program is "Combating HIV and AIDS through a culture of reading". This program is intended to sensitize primary school children to HIV/AIDS with age-appropriate storybooks. The books are donated annually to primary schools throughout The Bahamas, and in some cases, guest readers read the stories to the students.
Reputable charities such as the AIDS Foundation, the Ranfurly Homes for Children and the Salvation Army help the most needy in our community. Without their support, many would go hungry and without shelter. The AIDS Foundation was established in 1992 by the Zonta Club of Nassau. The Zonta Club was approached by Dr. Perry Gomez, then the director of the National AIDS Programme, with a view to establishing a non-governmental organization to assist in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Those who have enough to give should support the fundraisers held by organizations such as the AIDS Foundation. If you do not have the money to assist, consider volunteering or offering technical skills to help bring relief to those in need.
We should all be careful, however, with charitable giving. There are charlatans out there who create so-called "charities". These unscrupulous individuals give the impression that they are soliciting money for worthwhile causes. But, instead, the money is pocketed.
Make sure those you give to are credible and have backgrounds in service to the community. Also make sure that the charity has some tangible record of doing something for those in need that you can touch and see. Otherwise, your money may be going to fund the lifestyle of a fraudster who does nothing for the most vulnerable and desperate in our country.

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A celebration of diversity

October 24, 2014

Making its grand return, the 19th annual International Cultural Festival was held last weekend at the Nassau Botanical Gardens. The festival, known for its multitude of booths representing a myriad of countries, was this year no less a success than its predecessors. The two-day event featured performances, competitions, food, drink, craft items and, of course, lots of cultural pride.
The current International Cultural Festival Board of Directors, led by Chairperson Janet Johnson, took over management of the festival in 2009 and has been working to expand and improve the annual affair over the past five years. The team of directors includes Sheila Bethel, Eric Carey, Peter Goudie, Gershan Major and Brendon Watson.
It seems the board's efforts are working. Initial attendance counts revealed the festival's visitor count over the weekend to be in the region of 32,000 to 34,000. Hoping to get more international visitors involved, the board partnered with Bahamas Experience Tours, which offered a shuttle service for tourists to and from hotels on Paradise Island and Cable Beach as well as Festival Place in Downtown Nassau.
There's no mystery why people flock in droves; the festival is known as an event for everyone - families, couples, senior citizens and children reveled in the gardens and patronized this year's booths, of which there were more than 100 representing approximately 24 countries.
Doing more than incensing the garden's air with the smells of cooking food, the booths delighted the visual senses, as well. Dressing up the booths is one of the festival's traditions; not only does it give booth holders the opportunity to celebrate unique cultures through festive decorations, but it also gives them a shot at one of the festival prizes.
Divided by geographical region, the festival booths vie for first or second place in their respective divisions. There is also a best in show prize given to the booth deemed the most festive overall. Judging this year was done by a team led by artist John Cox, who chose the Republic of The Philippines' booth as the best in show. The win was the second consecutive for the booth that wowed judges with dances, food showcasing, craft demonstrations and a brief overview of the country's history.
Zeleka Knowles was part of the team representing Ethiopia as the sole African nation at the 2014 festival.
"Two years ago, South Africa was there, which was very exciting to at least have them present," she said. "But this year we heard that South Africa wasn't going to have a booth, so we thought that it'd be important to represent Africa."
The Ethiopian booth was one of the few offering vegetarian and vegan options at the festival. Served with Ethiopian flatbread, known as injera, the booth offered misir wot, a spicy red lentil stew; kik alicha, a yellow split pea curry, and garlic and ginger-infused collard greens. There were also beef skewers brushed with cardamom and rosemary butter, Ethiopian honey wine - a mead - and artisan, Ethiopian jewelry.
"We had a great reaction," said Knowles. "We got very positive feedback from a lot of people. The Rasta community was - as was to be expected - very intrigued by the booth."
Originally from Ethiopia, Knowles recognized the opportunity the festival presents for expats to connect with others of similar backgrounds.
"We did meet other Africans at the booth, so that was another exciting part about having this booth because it's such a small community of Africans here. It was an opportunity for me to meet and connect with other Africans living in The Bahamas," she said.
A nonprofit venture, the festival is sustained by a 10 percent deduction on the profits made by vendors each year. While a good portion of the funds provides for the following year's infrastructure, the board also uses a part of the money raised to support local educational and charitable ventures. Prominent beneficiaries of the festival are students who participate in Model United Nations conferences and debates in local schools. The International Cultural Festival provides sponsorship for the winning debate team to travel to the United Nations Headquarters in New York with the minister of foreign affairs.
Special mention has been made by a member of the board of directors for the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, which, every year donates the total proceeds from its festival booths back to the International Cultural Festival.
Though this year's festival just ended, the planning process for the 2015 International Cultural Festival is only a few months away. Those who are interested in getting involved may contact the board from early February onward. To find out more about the International Cultural Festival, visit its website at http://www.culturefestbahamas.com/.

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Making the transatlantic connection

October 24, 2014

Making its return to The Bahamas for the first time in over 30 years and featuring a Bahamian cast for the first time ever, "Sizwe Banzi is Dead" blew audiences away in the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts Black Box Theatre during the sixth annual Shakespeare in Paradise Theatre Festival (SIP). Directed by SIP Artistic Director Philip Burrows, "Sizwe Banzi's" two-man cast starred COB Professor Mark Humes as Sizwe Banzi and IT professional Dion Johnson in a double role as Styles and Buntu.
The co-stars had acted in previous SIP seasons and knew each other from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". "Sizwe Banzi's" return was spurred by Johnson's interest in testing his talents onstage.
"I normally try to play comedian-type roles. I wanted to challenge myself with this type of role because it's not so often you can actually portray something that is serious, significant and historical," he said.
Johnson presented the idea of a one-man show to Burrows in 2013. Advising that such a production would be "something he really needed to research, workshop and spend quite a bit of time working on", Burrows suggested "Sizwe Banzi" in lieu.
"I said, 'Well I do know there's this play if you want to do a one-man experience; there's like a 40-minute monologue that opens the play, if you want to work on that'. And we started to discuss 'Sizwe Banzi' as a possibility," explained Burrows.
Having experience working with Humes, whose stage presence he admired, Johnson decided to consider the roles of Styles and Buntu, acting opposite Humes as Sizwe Banzi.
Written during the apartheid era in South Africa, "Sizwe Banzi is Dead" is the product of a collaborative effort by South African activists and playwrights Athol Fugard, Winston Ntshona and John Kani. The play tells the story of Sizwe Banzi, a black South African man in search of work in Port Elizabeth. Originally from King William's Town, Banzi travels on a passbook, which gives him permission to look for work in Port Elizabeth for a finite period. With his - what could essentially be called a visa - expired, he is told that he must return jobless to his family in King William's Town. After an evening of drowning his sorrows with his friend, Buntu, Sizwe Banzi encounters the body of a dead man whose passbook gives him permission to stay in Port Elizabeth. Sizwe Banzi deals with internal conflict and an identity crisis in a world that defines him by the government stamps on a book. With the unwitting help of photographer Styles, Sizwe Banzi 'dies' when he replaces the picture in the dead man's passbook with his own.
"The reason I wanted to do 'Sizwe' is because, when I read the background information on it, based on apartheid, I realized the connection that it has, especially with regard to the ending of apartheid and to our own prime minister, the late Sir Lynden Pindling," explained Johnson.
The Bahamas voiced its disproval of the apartheid system in 1985, at a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting held in Nassau. The Nassau Accord was drafted at Lyford Cay and called on the South African government to strike down the apartheid system and "initiate... a process of dialogue across lines of color, politics and religion". Upon his release from prison, Mandela traveled to The Bahamas to thank the Bahamian government for its activism.
Humes noted the story's relevance in a current day Bahamas: "We (he and Johnson) were so concentrated just on learning the lines that, that was the main focus; you really didn't get the essence of it when you were learning the lines and rehearsing. But there was one day in rehearsal when we did the scene where we saw the dead guy, and Bantu was actually going to walk off, that it really hit me. I have never experienced anything like that in my life - it really shook me - and I started to actually cry. To feel that, to have that possibly happen to you - and I've seen many Haitian persons in our community just struggling to get an identity... I've seen several people in the Haitian community here who just walk around with this whole bunch of papers. And it hurts. It really does hurt to see that there are people living in our society like that. And it was kind of real to think about it."
The show's director also observed other linkages in curiously coincidental ways.
"It's very much a connection [between The Bahamas and South Africa]," said Burrows. "Things kind of happen very strangely. I had set the dates for "Sizwe Banzi is Dead" having no idea that the date that we opened was 40 years to the day that it opened in South Africa. These kinds of things sort of just happened as it came up. It (2014) was the year of the 20th anniversary of Mandela being released."
Eerie happenings aside, "Sizwe Banzi is Dead" was well-received by the Bahamian public, who congratulated the cast and director on the show's closing night with a standing ovation. By popular demand, Burrows, Johnson and Humes have decided to bring the play back to the black box theater for three nights only. Those who missed "Sizwe Banzi" during the Shakespeare in Paradise Festival will now get a chance to see it performed from November 13 - 15. Tickets will be on sale at the Dundas next week.
To reserve tickets, contact the Dundas on 393-3728 or visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thedundas. To find out more about "Sizwe Banzi is Dead", visit the Shakespeare in Paradise website at http://shakespeareinparadise.org/.

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'Man in the Boat' sculling championships set for Montagu Bay

October 24, 2014

Over the weekend of November 1, Bahamian Brewery Company Limited looks to host its fourth annual Sands "Man in the Boat" E class sailing championships at Montagu Bay.
For the past three years, Andros native Clayton Bain has dominated the sculling competition and will be coming in focused on a fourth straight victory, despite the jeers and criticism from other competitors
"I don't brag. I don't have time for that," said Bain. "Lynden Johnson (marketing director of the brewery) says he has someone to beat me, but I want to see him. Whoever it is, let him come out. I'm not ashamed and I [am not] scared."
On Saturday, November 1, the activities will begin with the High Rock Scramble sculling relays at noon. At 5 p.m., the preliminaries of the Sands "Man in the Boat" competition will be held with the top two boats advancing to the championship on Sunday, November 2 that will be preceded by the E Class regatta at noon.
Race coordinator George Kelly, said the activities will begin with the three-man relay race and will feature 10 to 12 boats, including Sands, Sands Light, High Rock and Strong Back.
During the relay, each boat will cover two laps before they exchange skippers until all three skippers have completed the course.
"This is being done so that we can get as many people as possible involved in sculling," Kelly said. "We're hoping to have a great event. After that, we will do the Sands Man in the Boat sculling race with the first two advancing to the national championships the next day.
"We also intend to have some surprises out there. We are trying to put on our ladies' races on Saturday and so we are encouraging all of the ladies to come out and participate in that. Then on Sunday, we will have the E Class competition with three races back-to-back, starting at noon. We intend to have cash prizes and trophies up for grabs."
Some of the other competitors include Dennis Fox out of Long Island, who won the St. Valentine's Day Massacre; Steven Rolle, who won both the National Family Island Regatta in Georgetown, Exuma and the Long Island Regatta and Clayton Moxey, who won in Grand Bahama.

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CABC to host 'The Champ is Here' amateur boxing show

October 24, 2014

The Champion Amateur Boxing Club (CABC) is set to host "The Champ is Here" amateur boxing show tonight at 7 p.m. at the Wulff Road Boxing Square.
The six-fight program will be the 10th showcase hosted by the club this year, and will be held in honor of Ernie "The Androsian" Barr.
CABC Head Coach Ray Minus Jr. says that he tries to put on a show every two weeks for his fighters, because it allows them to gain the level of experience needed to be competitive at the next level.
"We want to continue to develop talented boxers in the country," said Minus. "We believe in experience, and if a boxer has enough experience to know the ring, he has a chance to be successful.
"We have seen this success over the past years with some of the veteran fighters that we have in the country, and so the Champion Boxing Club is proud that it has a program that is so committed."
The featured matchup of the night will be Don Rolle vs. Lorenzo Fertil.
Rolle has had good showings at the past several CACB events, and is one of the club's top boxers, while Fertil isn't as experienced, but is still a solid fighter who continues to look better with every fight.
Other matchups scheduled include: Emmanuel Rolle vs. Michael Roberts; Terry Rolle vs. Michael Gomez; Rodneko Mackey vs. Wildmond Philippe; Shaton Jan vs. LaShawn McKinney; Lamont McPhee vs. Bruce Hepburn and Reggie Danlag vs. Habaughn Armbrister.
As the year winds down, Minus is also looking to put together a primary school event for the younger fighters in the country, who don't always get the opportunity to get in the ring on a consistent basis.
"We are looking to do something for the kids, ages five to 12," said Minus. "Even though 12 is bordering on the junior level, sometimes they can be easily outclassed at that age. So here at CABC, we are going to do something just for them sometime in November to keep them interested in the sport."

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Mitchell defends handling of threat

October 24, 2014

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell yesterday defended the government's handling of the matter involving a Bahamian man of Haitian descent who made
"perceived threats against the state".
Mitchell also said the relevant authorities determined not to prosecute Anson Aly after taking an "objective view" on the matter.
Aly threatened violence against Bahamians in an interview with ZNS news while his illegal home was being demolished in a shantytown off Joe Farrington Road last week.
He threatened to put the Colombian necktie "on these people".
The Colombian necktie refers to a method of murder that involves a victim's throat being cut horizontally.
Aly also said, "They have to understand that there are more Haitian-Bahamians in this country than Bahamians. And we [are] not scared. They don't want to start something that they can't finish."
His comments infuriated many Bahamians and reignited national debate on the illegal immigration problem in the country.
Many people expressed anger on social media and on talk shows, particularly after Aly was released from police custody on Wednesday without charge.
"The matter was referred to the Royal Bahamas police force and the immigration department," said Mitchell, who called in to the Star 106.5 FM talk show "Jeffrey" with host Jeff Lloyd.
"They examined the matter, the matter was taken as high as the DPP (director of pubic prosecutions) and the decision was made that there was no basis for charges.
"That is an objective view. The minister of immigration does not decide that.
"That was the view of the authorities that were charged with that responsibility.
"But my responsibility and the government's general
responsibility is to preach peace and good order.
"That is what we have done. How that translates into grandstanding, only The Guardian and God will know.
"I'm not the minister of social commentary. I'm the minister of immigration."
Mitchell said the government made the right decision when it referred the threat to authorities.
Police released Aly from custody on Wednesday. After his release, he apologized for his comments, saying his emotions were high during the demolition.
Mitchell said Cabinet will be briefed on Aly's matter.
"It has to be reviewed and considered and all the rest of it," he said.
"But for the moment the appropriate thing was done with referring the matter to the authorities and the authorities made the decision and there was no political interference in that matter.
"All of us have an obligation to be reasoned and keep everything in balance and in context and not to allow our emotions to get carried away with things because we are responsible for the peace and good order in society."
At a press conference on Sunday, Mitchell said the government took the matter seriously.
In an editorial, The Guardian questioned the point of "Mitchell's press conference and so-called tough talk".
Mitchell responded, "I've never seen such stupidity and illogic in my life."

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Nurses union still awaiting Ebola plan

October 24, 2014

While Prime Minister Perry Christie said he is satisfied with the plan in place to protect the country from the deadly Ebola virus, Bahamas Nurses Union President Jannah Khalfani said the union had not received the preparedness plan as of yesterday.
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, Khalfani said the union requested the plan from the Ministry of Health last Friday.
"I requested the contingency plan. We sent the email on Friday, and on Monday I checked with the secretary to the minister, and she said that he should be getting [to] my request on Monday," Khalfani said.
When asked whether she felt The Bahamas is adequately prepared to handle an Ebola case, Khalfani said, "I am not prepared to answer that as yet.
"I will probably be prepared a little bit better next week, but right now I am not prepared to answer that."
Pressed on whether her response was any indication of a lack of confidence in The Bahamas' preparedness, Khalfani paused before saying, "Listen, we cannot afford not to be prepared. We cannot afford that."
However, she said the union is working closely with the government to ensure no one "drops the ball".
Health Minister Dr. Perry Gomez has said Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) would be the primary facility for a medical response.
Asked whether PMH is adequately supplied with equipment such as hazmat suits, Khalfani said the equipment arrived last Friday.
"I understand Doctors Hospital always had the equipment, but from the government angle, the PPE (personal protective equipment) came in on Friday," she said.
"They are about to distribute them to the areas that they need to be [distributed] to.
"We will be following that as well."
During a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday, Christie said despite the "major challenges" associated with policing the country's vast borders, the government has "taken all reasonable steps to protect the country" from the deadly Ebola virus.
Concerns about the Ebola virus were heightened this month after two nurses in the United States contracted the virus after treating a patient who tested positive for Ebola following a trip to Liberia.
According to the National Ebola Preparedness and Response Plan, the possibility that a "small number" of Ebola cases could be introduced through international travel has been identified as the most likely scenario that The Bahamas would face as it relates to the importation of Ebola.
As it relates to training, Khalfani said mandatory training has begun for nurses on New Providence and on some of the Family Islands.
"We are ensuring that all nurses are going to be trained, and I understand from surveillance that there is [training being done on] the Family Islands," she said.
"You know our borders are important, and we understand that people do not just enter from airplanes, they enter from sea ports as well.
"It is important that our customs and immigration [officers] and our nurses, who are the first line of defense, know exactly what to do."
Last Friday, Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Chairman Dr. Duane Sands, who is also a surgeon, said he was not convinced the Ministry of Health is prepared to combat Ebola.
Up to yesterday, the death toll was tallied at 4,877, nearly all of them in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

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Cash hits out over mixed messages on rape stats

October 24, 2014

Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash said yesterday the contradictory statements made by Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade and Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell on rapes in The Bahamas ultimately reflect poorly on the government and its leadership.
"That is a clear indication of a dysfunctional government that lacks leadership, and there is no one more responsible for this than the prime minister," Cash said.
He was referring to Bell's statement that police believe prolific offenders are responsible for a recent "spike" in rapes.
Bell warned residents, particularly women, to be vigilant.
However, Greenslade said on Wednesday that he was "disturbed and surprised" that alarm has been sounded over rapes in the country.
Greenslade said rapes have trended downward compared to last year.
He also said he does not know that "we have any issue which should cause wide public alarm".
Neither men provided statistics.
Cash said when key stakeholders do not appear to be on the same page it does not instill confidence in the Bahamian people that the Christie administration has a handle on crime.
"The minister of state for national security gives concerns about the level of rape in the country," he said.
"Within a short while the commissioner of police contradicts him directly. That is inappropriate.
"The prime minister is out to lunch on this issue because he is obviously not leading."
Cash noted that this is not the first time government and police officials have contradicted one another in the public domain on crime.
"The Bahamian people will remember some months ago when the prime minister said in a moment of honesty that obviously his crime solutions were not working and that they had to go back to the drawing board," he said.
"Within [days] of the prime minister saying that, both the commissioner of police and the minister of national security directly contradicted the prime minister, and said as far as they are concerned everything was going fine.
"Obviously the commissioner of police and the prime minister don't speak. Obviously, the prime minister does not speak to his minister of national security."
Following Christie's statement, Greenslade, who was careful not to respond directly to the prime minister, said crime overall with the exception of murder and attempted murder was down.
He credited his 2014 policing plan and the effectiveness of officers following that plan.
When Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage was asked whether the government needed to go back to the drawing board, he suggested it did not.
He said the government needed to expand and strengthen its crime strategies.
Cash insisted the government has not done enough to address crime.
"Two murders occurred in six hours [on Monday], and then we open the newspaper today (Thursday) and heard...that the commissioner of police contradicts the minister of state for national security on rape.
"This is where it gets to the heart of [the Christie administration's] ineffectiveness as a government."

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Pintard considering running for FNM deputy post

October 24, 2014

Free National Movement (FNM) Senator Michael Pintard said he is strongly considering running for deputy leader of the party during its convention on November 21.
Pintard said he has received strong support from FNM delegates to pursue that position, as well as support to run for chairman.
"I am leaning more towards deputy leader," he said in a recent interview. "I don't believe that anyone who has had a position and does nothing should be seeking elevation."
FNM Deputy Chairman Dr. Duane Sands and Chairman Darron Cash have said they will run for deputy leader.
When asked, Pintard said he was not referring to Sands or Cash.
He said he believes that he has the skill set to assist the FNM to grow its base.
"I do not get the impression, having heard comments from the front runner, that it is likely that we are going to have unity at the leadership level, not if you have persons who are still reminiscing about what would have been a possible position they could have had," Pintard said.
"Anyone who seeks to offer for deputy leader should have the capacity to submit to authority.
"That is not the equivalent to blind leadership. It is recognizing the role of the leader and not undermining that leader."
The Guardian contacted Pintard after he appeared on the Star 106.5 FM talk show "Jeffrey", with host Jeff Lloyd on Tuesday.
Pintard told Lloyd that he is supporting FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis for leader.
"At this juncture, for a number of reasons, I support Minnis," he said.
"I believe the population, in its next government, is looking for a dynamic team with a leader who can manage all of the moving parts and who has a heart for people, which I believe all our contenders do.
"But they are looking for a team, a cadre of men and women who are talented and smart and who are prepared to consult with people.
"The cult of personality, I believe that era is waning."
FNM Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner is also running for leader of the party.
Pintard said no matter what post he runs for, he "intends to serve".
"One of the things I don't like is people who offer for elevation when the position they held previously they didn't perform in," he said on the show.
"So if you held a position, and you are unable to show concretely what your track record is in that particular position, it is an affront to those persons who you are approaching asking for support because you have not demonstrated a willingness to serve.
"Be faithful in little things if you aspire for greater things."

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Jurors unable to visit scene of pastor's death

October 24, 2014

A scheduled visit to the scene of Pastor Kendal Stubbs' death by a coroner's jury did not occur yesterday due to unknown reasons.
Stubbs, who was the pastor of Remnant Tabernacle of Praise, was taking part in the church's walk-a-thon when he died on November 3, 2012.
Ambrose Armbrister, the lawyer who is marshalling the evidence, did not arrive at court until an hour after the court's scheduled 10 a.m. start.
After his death, people suggested that Stubbs was the victim of a hit and run accident.
However, this was contradicted by traffic accident reconstruction expert Superintendent Richard Rahming in his testimony earlier this year.
Rahming said,"My conclusion is there was no indication to show that there was [any] type of impact with a vehicle at all," he said.
Rahming said based on Stubbs' injuries it was unlikely he was a victim of a hit and run.
Based on the abrasions on Stubbs' face, nose and knees, Rahming said he probably fell on his face.
The inquest continues today.

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Judge directs acquittal in car theft case

October 24, 2014

A judge yesterday directed an acquittal in the case of a man accused of taking a car in an armed robbery.
When the Crown opened its case on Tuesday, prosecutors said that Sheron Thompson robbed Dwight Dean of a 2006 Honda Accord on October 28, 2012 outside his girlfriend's home.
Police recovered the car at an auto body repair shop on November 22, 2012.
But the prosecution's case collapsed when the auto body repairman who picked out Thompson during an identification parade said he was drunk when he made the identification.
The car was in the process of being painted when police recovered it from the repair shop.
The prosecution closed its case yesterday without offering any further evidence.
Dean was unable to identify the assailant, who patted him down and took his wallet, which contained $150 and personal items when he pulled up to his girlfriend's home on Bacardi Road.
Tai Pinder represented Thompson. Neil Brathwaite and Sybrena Deleveaux prosecuted.

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EMS personnel receive Ebola training

October 24, 2014

As a part of the Ministry of Health's Ebola preparedness plan, the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) organized a workshop for emergency medical services (EMS) employees and hospital staff on how to safely deal with Ebola patients.
The Ministry of Health engaged the Emergency Educational Institute (EEI) out of Miami, Florida to train staff.
EEI President Todd Soard explained that his team instructed EMS and hospital staff how to properly don and decontaminate hazmat suits to prevent contracting the deadly virus.
"Whenever they are donning or doffing (removing) off any type of the personal protective equipment, that is part of the training we are going to be going through," he said.
"It will give them the capability of knowing how to prevent a lot of the skin contact if they were to come into contact with an infectious person.
"Practice makes perfect. That is our plan here today."
Two nurses who treated an infected Ebola patient in Texas were infected with the virus.
Soard's team was recently in Grand Bahama and will be in Abaco on the weekend.
He said if a case of Ebola does occur, the staff would be prepared to deal with it.
"Education is the key," he said.
"You don't want to have any panic or hysteria. That just causes mass confusion."
Soard said EMS staff and hospital staff will have two separate guidelines to assist certain scenarios ranging from treating patients in an ambulance to a hospital bed.
As part of the Ministry of Health's guidelines, the Fox Hill Clinic was designated as a location for the extended isolation and management of Ebola cases, the guidelines for EMS personnel stated.
It added that similar facilities will be identified in Grand Bahama and the Family Islands.
Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Lucia recently restricted travel from West Africa, where the Ebola virus has killed over 4,500 people.
But Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Representative Dr. Gerry Eijkemans said that PAHO and the World Health Organization (WHO) have warned against a travel ban.
She has said that fear of a local outbreak of the Ebola virus is "not necessary".
Ebola symptoms include fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. These symptoms may be followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function and, in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.

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Loretta is a team player

October 23, 2014

Dear Editor,
When the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Kendal Major, ordered that the police remove Hubert Minnis from Parliament for refusing to apologize for remarks he made, it was Loretta Butler-Turner that challenged the police, declaring, "Don't touch him!"
The photo that spoke clearly was Minnis being supported by Butler-Turner and feeling so secure because he had the support and assistance of a strong deputy who fought on his behalf. The police respected Butler-Turner enough to refrain from physically removing Minnis.
Butler-Turner was firm then as she always is. No one said she was too forceful then. No one said that had it not been for her, the results for Minnis might have been much different.
A leader has to be just that, someone who does not shrink when the pressure is being applied. Butler Turner was being a team player as she has on many occasions.
Butler-Turner is what the PLP do not want as the leader of the loyal opposition. Her constant challenging them and applying the pressure by presenting facts and forcefully articulating her position must not be good for the government side.
Because of her strength, the opposition is relevant. No Loretta, no worries for the PLP.
But is this the same characteristic that some are calling too strong? Take your pick, would you prefer her sit and be quiet, like other members, or continue to "hold their feet to the fire"? We can't have it both ways.
The question really is, would you like to see a leader who will continue to make the PLP sweat, or would you like for it to be business as usual?
No matter how you slice it or dice it, Loretta Butler-Turner has often saved the FNM in the House. She is the main one in the House defending the FNM's record.
Wise FNMs should embrace her and combine all of their efforts to make sure she is the leader for the good of the party and its chances.
- FNM supporter

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Loretta Butler-Turner must distance herself from her backers who are spreading misandristic rhetoric

October 23, 2014

Dear Editor,
In the event FNM Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner comes out of the November 21 convention as the newly-minted FNM leader, she would then be on the cusp of making history as The Bahamas' first female prime minister in 2017.
Her becoming this nation's chief executive officer would not be a precedent in this 21st century global society, as there have been many female leaders. Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Chile, Malta, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Liberia, Saint Maarten, Kosovo, Denmark and Bangladesh all have female leaders.
In their anxiousness to see Butler-Turner best Hubert Minnis in the leadership competition, some of Butler-Turner's staunchest backers have launched a campaign of inaccurately portraying Bahamian men in general as being chauvinist pigs and radical misogynists who have an aversion to the idea of a woman being prime minister.
This misandristic rhetoric simply does not square with reality in today's Bahamas, considering the many great strides many Bahamian women have made. Had it not been for Bahamian men, who are by and large philogynistic, the achievements that their female counterparts have made would not have materialized.
Ironically, the Butler-Turner faction responsible for smearing men with the broad brush of misogyny, seems to have conveniently forgotten that Butler-Turner is the deputy leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, the FNM, and a sitting member of Parliament for Long Island. How did she ascend to these lofty positions without the support of men?
It is extremely difficult debating persons whose presuppositions are firmly cemented. Be that as it may, I hope to challenge this preconceived notion of The Bahamas being a male chauvinist society with the following.
The governor general is a female, Dame Marguerite Pindling. Dame Ivy Dumont was the first female governor general. The first female speaker of the House of Assembly was Italia Johnson. The current attorney general is a female, Allyson Maynard-Gibson. Melanie Griffin, Glenys Hanna-Martin and Hope Strachan are PLP members of the House of Assembly and are also members of the Christie Cabinet.
South Beach MP Cleola Hamilton is parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation. There have been many other women who have graced the halls of Parliament: Pleasant Bridgewater, Verna Grant, Ann Percentie, Junianne Dorsette, Veronica Owens, Italia Johnson, Theresa Moxey-Ingraham, Allyson-Maynard-Gibson, Janet Bostwick and Agatha Marchelle are former female parliamentarians.
There are five females in the Senate: Sharon Wilson, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Cheryl Bazard, Tanisha Tynes and Heather Hunt. Wendy Craigg is governor of the Central Bank of The Bahamas. Anita Allen and Deborah Fraser are both Court of Appeal and Supreme Court justices. The former director of public prosecutions was a female, Vinette Graham-Allen. Mother Cynthia Pratt served as MP, PLP deputy leader, deputy prime minister and acting prime minister during her prestigious political career. The general manager of ZNS is Diana Swann.
Based on the above, any objective observer can see that the argument that the Bahamian society is misogynistic does not hold water. It is a lie straight from the pits of hell.
The individuals seeking to assist Butler-Turner to become the next FNM leader by railing at men must rethink their strategy, as this will only be a turn-off to the many male and female FNM delegates who will be voting on November 21. It will also be a turn-off to many non-delegates who will be voting in 2017.
If these people refuse to desist from excoriating men, then Butler-Turner would be wise to distance herself from this feminist group of men bashers.
While bashing men has become fashionable in recent times, it will not cut the muster; therefore, Butler-Turner must resist the temptation of basing her campaign on gender. She must run a gender-neutral campaign, that treats all genders with dignity and respect.
If Bahamian men perceive that Butler-Turner is pandering to the misandristic faction of her party, she will never become FNM leader; and more importantly, she will never become prime minister. Hence, the utmost importance of her distancing herself from this group.

- Kevin Evans

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Keith Bell must explain his rape warning

October 23, 2014

Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell touched a deep and raw nerve this week when he announced that police believe prolific offenders are responsible for a spike in the number of reported rapes.
In the catalogue of violent crimes, a special place has perhaps always been reserved for sexual assault, a violation widely feared by many above any other form of attack on the person.
Bell's announcement took the form of a warning - to women in particular - to be vigilant. He did not provide statistics, but told the press that more rapes are occurring, particularly in inner city areas.
The trouble is, according to the man who leads the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), no such increase in sexual assaults has taken place.
Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said he was "surprised" to hear of Bell's comments.
"I do not want to, as we say locally, throw anyone under the bus, except to say rape figures are all down," he said.
"They have been down for a very long time. They are still down over last year's and based on what I see, by the end of this year those figures are going to be down quite a bit over the figures of last year."
Like Bell, Greenslade did not provide any reports or statistics to back up his statement. Still, as the man who oversees the day-to-day operation of the RBPF, one would imagine the commissioner is in the best position to know.
Questions therefore arise: Where did Keith Bell get his information? How, if this information does not square with the understanding of the leadership of the police force, could he have deemed it sufficiently reliable to share with the public?
It is important to keep in mind that Bell did not say he personally understands there to be a spike in rapes, or that this was the considered opinion of the staff at his ministry. He specifically cited the RBPF as the source of the information.
Both the government and the police have repeatedly declared their belief in the importance of not just reducing crime, but also the fear of crime.
This mandate seems to have been on the mind of the commissioner, who spoke out, though obviously reluctant to offend anyone by his comments.
He said: "I do not know today that we have any issue which should cause wide public alarm. I am saying that in the most respectful way."
Considering the countless women in New Providence who may have suffered anxiety or sleepless nights - not to mention the victims of past rapes for whom Bell's comments no doubt sparked utter panic - we feel compelled to call on the minister to explain his claims.
Of course, he may well have been correct in his statements, and the commissioner somehow misinformed. In that case, the public should thank Bell for his vigilance and concern.
Either way, an explanation is, without question, necessary.

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Productivity versus busyness

October 23, 2014

Government workers are lousy, lazy and dreadfully incompetent. They come to work late, don't produce results that meet what you asked or paid them for in a timely manner, plus they take three-hour lunch breaks and then leave work more than a half an hour before their scheduled knock off time.
Employees in the private sector want more money for doing nothing at all. I mean, where do they think this is? Don't they see that I'm the boss and I know it all? What work do you do around here?! How dare you ask for more than $200 a week? For what you do? Are you kidding me? You want us to raise the minimum wage to what?
This is what you hear across the board when we talk about labour, work and employment in The Bahamas. You hear the same cries even in America and Canada. No doubt the calls are all the same across the Caribbean and Latin America too. But, in the Caribbean's case, is it all true? Or, is it just misguided anger?
In The Bahamas, the most recent strike actions in early September from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their related sub-unions have garnered some attention from the local and international media. The courts granted an injunction to the government to put a halt to this action that the government felt was illegal, however the discontent was already in the air and certain concerns were placed before the Bahamian people with regard to these labour matters. Matters that will most likely be addressed, but at a later date.
This strike action prompted this author to review an IMF Working Paper read a few months ago. Published on July 1, 2014, the paper analyzed labour market issues in the Caribbean.
I must say from the rip that I'm not in favor of labour unions striking on a whim. I'm not appreciative of their particular matters being rejected totally out of hand either. I'm also not wholeheartedly in agreement with the IMF's paper, even though the work produced gives impetus to framing a separate debate and from that debate begging particular questions to be asked and other matters to be raised.
My position on this entire affair, learning from the work produced by the IMF, is strictly to bring to the attention of the public a parallax position that may be seen as distorted or an aberration of the original issue. But, a part of the issue it is, even though one may feel it too distant or unrelated.
For instance, we're all not lazy loafs, unskilled and unprofessional and choose to spend our time drinking rum, smoking marijuana and taking days off because we can. And, on the other side, we are not mean, maniacal and spiteful policymakers that want to hog up all of the money for ourselves and leave the workers to eat cake! This type of language and sentiment is unhelpful.
In this spirit moving forward, the IMF paper went into great detail to collect, collate and analyze data on labour market trends in the region. Some data were more readily available, and others sparse or simply unavailable. In either extreme case, there was enough to extract a rich number of inferences from the dataset and the subsequent correlations it brought to the fore.
One theme that's prominent throughout the paper is: employment output-elasticity. Or, in other words, the extent to which employed persons' (hired workers or laborers) output (the amount, rate and level they are productive based on how and what they produce) is elastic/inelastic (negatively or positively responsive to external and or internal determinants and/or shocks) to the extent to which it impacts, or is impacted by, GDP and/or GDP growth determinants in the macro-economic sense, or in the micro-economic sense, basic company performance indicators: the bottom line and the inputs or variables that affect the bottom line.
One thing that jumps out is the correlation of employment elasticity of The Bahamas, being the lowest correlated point observed in the dataset, with Jamaica being the highest. Simply put, with any change in real growth through cyclical periods, Bahamian employment is least likely to be impacted in any significant way.
This is a very interesting outcome from this study and says a great deal about the Bahamian economy. For starters, it lends credence to the idea that we are over-saturated with entrenched workers in many areas of our economy, particularly the services and governmental sectors. A lack of employment-skills dynamism and services diversification is and was always a factor in Bahamian labour and employment dynamics.
This also gives the perception that it doesn't matter whether one person is employed on a particular task, or 10: The same level of output will be evidenced in our GDP estimates and other output and growth indicators. Essentially, we are doing the very little we are expected to do with an over-saturation of workers in those areas.
In Jamaica's case, it's the exact opposite. Which leads to another interesting piece of information brought out by the working paper: The distribution of elasticity of employment over time.
Without being too technical, the second method used is a regression model to pinpoint the rate at which growth and employment were evidenced over time.
The policies that spurred these dynamics could not be explained in the paper, but highlighting the lowest correlated over time in Jamaica and the highest correlated over time in Trinidad and Tobago, the authors did make mention of the Trinidadian government implementing employment growth initiatives that were independent of regular cyclical periods.
Further to all of this, Caribbean countries that utilized their natural resources, like Trinidad and Tobago, were seen as countries that were able to control the dynamics of employment and employment output outside of the regular business cycles and other related cyclical periods.
Further solidifying this observation was the statement that, over the last decade, real growth has been historically low, generating low employment growth. During 2002-2012, average real growth ranges from 0.62 percent in the Bahamas to 4.7 percent in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Bahamas has not utilized a great deal of its natural resources in a nationalistic sense, while Trinidad and Tobago has. Neither has Barbados (due to a lack of natural resources to exploit) to any large extent but Jamaica to a larger degree, both countries being on the sub-side of opposite ends of the spectrum.
While it has been reported that, over the medium term, real GDP growth is projected over the entire country set, one must ask the question based on this analysis is: Where will this growth be seen? Which sectors will be at the lead of this growth? Also, based on the sectors identified for growth, will this truly impact the labour market in a substantial way?
Knowing what we know now, removing constraints to innovation and investment is also a policy recommendation for the region. This is key to being able to open the doors of opportunity for development-led employment growth, but also keeping our citizenry employed with worthwhile endeavors and in a sense, not going on labour strikes and other forms of disruptive behavior.
Whatever happens as a result of these factors, natural resources are critical to impacting employment growth and managing employment elasticity. In fact, this was the key inference suggested from the paper.
Labor unions in services-dominated countries must be cognizant, particularly in non-resource rich and natural resource producing countries, that labor input at the widest margins does not significantly impact real GDP growth. And from this author's estimation, an over-saturation of employees may harm growth if this study is launched into another study that pinpoints the effects of labour and employment saturation.
I must also caution that, over time, if counter-cyclical measures aren't put in place to satisfy labour and employment demands, regardless of the benefits negotiated through the various labour unions in conjunction with the government, strikes and other work-related disruptions will become more severe and protracted as the years progress.
o Youri Kemp is president and CEO of Kemp Global, a management consultancy firm based in The Bahamas. This article was published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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