Nassau Guardian Stories

K.I.S.S.

October 16, 2014

I guess that when some people initially read the title of this article 'K.I.S.S.' they'll automatically think that I'm going to be dealing with the romantic side of life.
Well, if you thought that my friend, you'd be dead wrong.
The letters 'K.I.S.S.' are an acronym for 'Keep It Simple Stupid' which is a well-known saying which has been around for a long time.
Actually, now that I reflect on it, my mentor Earl Nightingale produced a very successful training program some years ago in conjunction with well-known and indeed respected Sales Trainer Fred Herman titled 'K.I.S.S.' which stood for 'Keep It Simple Salesmen'.
Hopefully by now my valued readers are beginning to get the gist of what this article is all about, and that is the power of simplicity.
Some people do indeed have a tendency to always try to complicate everything in their lives, which is not good, believe me.
I've been in the business of inspiring and motivating people for quite a long time now through lectures and seminars which I have facilitated all over the world, through my writings, radio and T.V.
Now, I honestly believe that one of the reasons why I've been so successful at what I do, is that I put ideas and concepts in a simple, understandable format which all can fully comprehend.
There are unfortunately many, many lecturers and teachers who do indeed possess a whole lot of excellent information.
In fact, many of them are quite brilliant. And yet these brilliant, knowledgeable people are not too successful when it comes to imparting their knowledge to others simply because they make everything sound so very complicated, thus it actually turns people off.
I know that just about everyone knows that the late Steve Jobs was a brilliant person, an innovator extraordinaire.
Jobs once said this about simplicity. He said "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication". Oh, how true that is.
Christianity, as all know, is one of the major religions of the world, whose members are supposed to be following the teachings of Jesus, the master teacher.
I believe that one of the reasons why Jesus was such a good teacher was because of the simplicity of his teaching.
He told stories, parables to illustrate the point he was making, which all could indeed fully comprehend.
So my friend, in conclusion, why don't you remember today's most important lesson, and then do your utmost to simplify rather than complicate your life.

oTHINK ABOUT IT! Visit my Website at: www.dpaulreilly.com
LISTEN TO 'TIME TO THINK' THE RADIO PROGRAM ON STAR 106.5 FM AT 8:55 AM & 6:20 PM

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Christmas planning in October

October 16, 2014

This is another Christmas spending warning article. Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. It is a time for family togetherness, fun, sharing, relaxation and reflection. However, far too many people waste money, time and energy during the Christmas season. Banks, merchants and sales persons try to lure us into the trap of unnecessary spending. If we do not think carefully, we find ourselves sucked into the quicksand of deep spending. Most of the time it is because we want to give a good impression to our associates, friends and relatives.
I find it imperative to write about his topic every few years. Why? Because still far too many people who cannot pay their basic utility bills (electricity, water, cable, telephone) are spending lavishly on buying gifts, new furniture, cars, etc. It is money they do not have (borrowed money) or money they should be saving for other more important things. In 2009, I made this statement about Christmas bank loans: "While many are struggling to make the everyday payments on utility bills and the need for food, they will be mesmerized by the attraction of this easy money for Christmas. I warn everyone not to fall prey to these commercial tricks. It is unwise to borrow money from a bank or other lending institution to use for items such as Christmas gifts."

No Christmas loans
Why do people feel the need to get a loan to make their Christmas enjoyable? There are many reasons people rush to get Christmas loans. Here is what I shared five years ago and it is still relevant today.
"First, some have been taught that the giving of gifts is the only respectable thing one should do during Christmas-time, even when you do not have money of your own. Yes, it is a wonderful, caring thing to give gifts, but a gift is given when you have something to give. Some are embarrassed to admit they have nothing to give, hence, they will get an unsecured loan with high interest to buy gifts. How foolish.
Second, some feel giving gifts to friends and family can show affluence, even though it is stupid to borrow the money to get the gifts. I call this internal pressure. Too many have the wrong notion about affluence and are often driven by the need to be accepted by their peers and to be kept in good favor in the eyes of their associates. This is what materialism has done to many of us today.
Third, some people are actually under tremendous pressure to purchase gifts for family and friends because of family tradition or because they will be made ashamed by others (family members) in a public setting. I call this external pressure.
I encourage everyone not to give in to banks' seducing commercials. "Banks are putting out the honey pots to attract the eager 'shopping bees' to come into their establishments to get some Christmas money. While many are struggling to make the everyday payments on utility bills and the need for food, they will be mesmerized by the attraction of this easy money for Christmas. I warn everyone not to fall prey to these commercial tricks. It is unwise to borrow money from a bank or other lending institution to use for items such as Christmas gifts."
It is not necessary to break that fixed deposit you have for raining day, home expansion, or college education, to give a gift to a loved one. Say no to the temptation. Do not give in to the pressure.

What can you do?
You might be asking what then you should do. You are thinking you do not want to be embarrassed. I encourage you to be creative. "Find creative ways to fulfill your kind heart of giving. Write a letter, use the coconut tree to make a craft, draw or paint a picture, take a photo, bake a cake, etc. Remember, the greatest and most valuable gifts you give this Christmas is your time, your smile, and a warm hug. Let no one make you feel guilty if you cannot give a Rolex watch."
Start planning now how you can spend less for Christmas this year and still be happy.

o Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002

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Don't ostracize the church

October 16, 2014

"Say to them, 'This is what the Lord says: If you do not listen to me and follow my law, which I have set before you, and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened), then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city a curse among all the nations of the earth'.
"The priests, the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speak these words in the house of the Lord. But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the Lord had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, 'You must die! Why do you prophesy in the Lord's name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?' And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the Lord." [Jeremiah 26:4-9]
Dr. Martin Luther was a priest in the Catholic Church during the 16th century. He lectured in Bible studies at the University of Wittenberg, Germany.
Luther observed some things happening in the church, which he did not consider to be scriptural. Consequently he voiced his disapproval and began to speak out about what he saw. As a result, he was persecuted for daring to speak the truth of biblical faith.
Often in our world, when a person stands up for right, he or she is ostracized. Repeatedly we are made aware of people being destroyed for bringing to light irregularities in companies and/or the government. The message is ignored and the messenger penalized.
John the Baptizer lost his head because he spoke truth about King Herod and Salome. He was God's messenger speaking God's truth. Unfortunately, people living in sin seldom want truth.
Jeremiah, in the text, preached a sermon in the temple and denounced the corrupt court of King Jehoiakim. He spoke words from the mouth of God, "Then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city a curse among all the nations of the earth." His adherence to God's instructions placed his life in jeopardy.
The priest, the prophets and the people seized him with cries of his immediate execution. The temple was the holy place of God and to speak of it in such a fashion was, in their view, blasphemy. Regrettably, they did not listen; the message came directly from God, not Jeremiah.
Shiloh was once a sanctuary of the Lord. Prior to the monarchy, the Aaronic priests served there. Eli and his family served as priests there. Samuel grew up in its temple.
However, because of the sins of the people, the Lord allowed his holy sanctuary to be destroyed. When Eli's wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas, took the arch of the covenant into battle, the Philistines captured the arch and supposedly destroyed the sanctuary of the Lord.
The Lord had sent the prophet to the king and the people to warn them about their wicked ways and to give them an opportunity to repent and seek his forgiveness. Instead, they neglected the message and sought to destroy the prophet who was only the messenger.
We in this country often seem to be following in the footsteps of the people of Jeremiah's time. Instead of paying attention to the message of the church, we get angry because our evil intents are exposed.
God still speaks to his servants. When people go astray, God gives them an opportunity to repent and seek his forgiveness.
Consequently, when the church speaks out against evil practices, don't ostracize the church and the men of God. The word of God is the benchmark of life. Therefore, hear the message and heed the word of God. He will hold you accountable, because you were warned. Amen.

o Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, Pastor The Lutheran Church of Nassau, P. O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bah. Phone: 426-9084 E-mail: lutheranchurch@coralwave.com, Website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.

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GB stem cell facility performs first procedure

October 16, 2014

The first procedure at the Okyanos Heart Institute happened yesterday, inaugurating a new chapter in stem cell therapy in The Bahamas.
Mathew Feshbach, CEO of the institute, told Guardian Business that the Grand Bahama-based cardiac stem cell therapy facility performed its first procedure yesterday, but did not provide specifics regarding the nature of the procedure.
The announcement comes after more than two years of delays while the government reviewed Okyanos' proposal and crafted the recently passed Stem Cell Therapy Bill and Regulations, which will oversee Okyanos and any future stem cell therapy facilities. Okyanos was founded in 2011.
Okyanos raised $8.9 million in March, which according to sources, brought the company's funding to $14 million. In an article posted in Venture Capital Post (VCP) in July, Okyanos explained that it would treat heart patients using "autologous adipose derived regenerative cells (ADRCs) in The Bahamas". Adipose, or fat, is the richest source of regenerative cells in the body; "autologous" simply means that the cells are derived from the same patient undergoing the cell therapy treatment. Okyanos is offering cell therapies based upon the technology of San Diego-based Cytori Therapeutics. The VCP article's author, Ray Xeri, points out that the same technology is being used in Cytori's Phase II clinical trials for heart disease but is otherwise unavailable to patients in the U.S., if and until FDA approval is achieved.
"Thus, the opportunity to serve patients with few other options in the nearby Bahamas became an opportunity for Okyanos and its backers," Xeri said in July.
The multimillion-dollar facility currently employs 17 people and is seeking additional staff as it ramps up operations. Okyanos aims to treat coronary artery disease through cardiac stem cell therapy.
The government tabled the Stem Cell Therapy Bill and Regulations in August, prompting Okyanos to praise the government on "providing a legislative and regulatory jurisdiction so that this very promising standard of care can be brought forward".
The regulations would allow embryonic stem cell therapy only in "exceptional circumstances", stipulating that all embryonic stem cells intended for therapy must be previously derived, and prohibiting the use of all new human embryonic cells.
Under the proposed regulations, three regulatory bodies will be formed to regulate stem cell therapy in the country: the National Stem Cell Ethics Committee, Scientific Committee and Compliance Committee.
Initial application fees for stem cell research stood at $2,500 in the tabled regulations. Approved facilities would be required to pay annual license fees ranging from $15,000 to $50,000.
Okyanos' progress is an encouraging sign for the country's prospects in the burgeoning medical tourism industry, despite The Bahamas' failure to rank on the 2014 Medical Tourism Index.
The international metric, which published its most recent report in September, ranks countries' medical tourism sectors according to country environment, facilities, services and general health of the local medical tourism industry.

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Lack of credit bureau hampering lending accuracy

October 16, 2014

Many in the financial services community are welcoming the advent of a credit bureau, particularly given the Central Bank of The Bahamas' (CBB) statement that lenders at present are not able to accurately assess the credit worthiness of potential clients due to a lack of comprehensive information on their outstanding debt obligations.
The inability to judge creditworthiness accurately has led, in a great many cases, to consumers taking on too much debt, given their income and level of assets. This has, in turn, led to foreclosures and repossessions if customers are unable to service their debts.
This is borne out by the CBB's Financial Stability Report December, 2013, which records that total private sector loan arrears rose by $101.7 million to $1.3 trillion, the second consecutive expansion in arrears. The bank notes, in particular, that non-performing loans grew by 11.4 percent to just under $1 trillion. The report also notes a 30 percent surge in commercial arrears, year over year.
In the credit bureau consultation document, the bank points out that greater claims on capital tends to reduce lending activity.
"The inability to accurately judge creditworthiness also means that financial institutions have been adversely affected if a significant number of clients are unable to meet their debt obligations. More risky loans impact banking sector stability; high levels of bad debt, higher provisions and write-offs," the bank says. "Problems in the banking sector present challenges for overall economic growth and financial stability."
The report notes that between 2009 and 2013, restructured loans totaled $778.8 million; write-offs were $462.7 million, and provisions
totaled $442.7 million.

How it works
Credit bureaus collect personal, financial and demographic information on individuals and small firms and provide this information to participating lenders by way of a credit report. Creditors then utilize these reports to determine whether or not to grant loans or extend credit, and at what interest rate. Typical clients or subscribers to credit bureaus include banks, mortgage lenders, credit card companies and other financing companies.
Some of the typical users of a credit bureau include banks, credit unions, the judiciary, tax authorities, insurers and landlords. The information these entities would use will have been supplied by banks and insurers, credit unions, credit card issuers, retailers, utilities and public registers.
Once a credit bureau is in place, research in other jurisdictions shows that borrowers are incentivized to improve credit and payment behavior. The CBB says the borrower benefits from faster credit decisions, protection against problems of over-indebtedness and lower collateral requirements and lower interest rates.
Lenders, on the other hand, look forward to increased access to accurate and comprehensive information about borrowers' credit histories and payment habits, enabling better assessment of true creditworthiness. This would streamline the credit decision-making process, lower exposure to risky loans could reduce operational costs, improve capital adequacy and reduce provisioning requirements.

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Tourism demands transparency, fiscal responsibility

October 16, 2014

Fiscal responsibility and government transparency remain the greatest concerns to regional tourism, according to the president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).
CHTA President Emil Lee told Guardian Business that government transparency and accountability are vital to promoting tourism throughout the region.
"There is probably no area of government that benefits more from fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability than tourism. The simple reason is that tourism in our region involves every member of the community, and the more the members of that community are intimately aware of tourism initiatives, the more they can assist in the delivery of the country's tourism objectives.
"If we expect to have all hands on deck in advancing tourism, all hands need to know all of the details. So advancing these principles of good governance is not simply a nice thing to do. In the case of tourism, it is also an important and valuable imperative to ensure an alignment of goals," said Lee.
Lee said that the CHTA continues to work alongside the Caribbean Tourism Organization and with individual governments throughout the region to further promote transparency, warning that seeking "short-term political gains" continues to interfere with the best interests of Caribbean economies.
"Many times, metrics for decision making are not always about what is best for the economy, and too many decisions are motivated by short-term political gains. The best way for tourism to prosper is when citizens see how their tax dollars are being efficiently and effectively invested to develop a happy and stable community.
"The connections between tourism, economic growth, social benefits and community wellness must be transparent for all to see," said Lee.
Although Lee acknowledged that the region still faces issues of transparency, he noted that The Bahamas has largely succeeded in promoting government transparency and accountability, citing the Bahamian government's recent efforts in promoting public-private partnerships (PPPs).
"Those partnerships require considerable fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability in order to have worked so well for so many decades. To a lesser, though still important, degree, the initiatives involved in airlift development and the easing of visa requirements are other example of The Bahamas' efforts in this area," he said.
The government last month issued a request for expressions of interest regarding a host of infrastructural PPPs, business relationships between private sector companies and the government for the development of projects that serve the public, such as roads and airports, throughout the country worth over $175 million.
Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle told Guardian Business earlier this week that PPPs offer the most effective mechanism for meeting the infrastructural needs of the country due to the government's lack of resources.
Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation Chairman Robert Myers last week urged the government to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international organization of countries designed to promote transparency and accountability in governments.
Myers argued that joining the OGP would send a clear message to potential investors that The Bahamas is taking steps to modernize its government and increase the ease of doing business, while keeping up with regional competitors.

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Slow VAT registration 'not unexpected', reflects 'lingering uncertainty'

October 16, 2014

CEO of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) Edison Sumner said yesterday that he expects value-added tax (VAT) registration numbers for local businesses to "expand significantly", despite sluggish initial figures.
Sumner, who also serves as the co-chair of the recently established VAT Education Task Force, stated that he "didn't expect a rush" on the first day of registration eligibility for businesses after Financial Secretary John Rolle revealed earlier this week that the Ministry of Finance had received less than 40 VAT registration applications from not even two dozen companies following the launch of the online registration service.
Approximately 4,500 businesses must register for VAT before November 30. Applications for mandatory registration apply to businesses with annual turnovers exceeding $100,000.
Sumner attributed the low figures to lingering uncertainty from members of the business community over the tax's implications.
"A lot of companies are still going through the process of understanding what VAT is about and its implications. But we expect [the number of registrants] to expand significantly over the next several weeks."
"The chamber has already held two or three registration workshops and registered a few companies through the process. We didn't expect a run on registration on day one," said Sumner.
The ministry additionally received 21 applications for customs transitional warehousing arrangements, which cater to large inventory retailers, including food stores, clothing stores and building supply stores. The government expected to process several more applications before the recently passed October 15 deadline.
The Ministry of Finance continues to conduct workshops with the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), BCCEC and the VAT Education Task Force, which will focus on increasing public education and awareness regarding the tax beyond the January 1, 2015 implementation date.
Sumner noted that the BCCEC would begin expanding its registration workshops to the Family Islands starting today in Abaco, where roughly 200 businesses are scheduled to attend.
"As we move about the country, we should see an increase in registration, particularly once we get the task force in motion to assist the government in continuing with registration workshops and preregistration workshops," said Sumner.
The group effort is currently conducting workshops on New Providence on a sustained basis for the next several months, with upwards of three workshops a day capable of assisting 60 to 80 businesses a day with the registration process.

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Preseason honor for Buddy Hield

October 16, 2014

Buddy Hield's preseason buzz continues to grow as he was recently named to the All-Big 12 Preseason team, which is voted on by the Big 12 coaches.
Last year, the Bahamian collegiate basketball player had his best season with the University of Oklahoma Sooners. He is coming off of an eventful summer during which he participated in both the LeBron James and Kevin Durant skills academies and made an appearance with the Bahamian national basketball team at the FIBA Americas CentroBasket Championships in Mexico. FIBA (International Basketball Federation) is the world's governing body for the sport, and FIBA Americas is in charge of basketball in this region.
Hield averaged 19.8 points and six rebounds in four games for The Bahamas at CentroBasket.
At the Kansas Jayhawks Big 12 Media Day in Kansas City on Wednesday, Jayhawks' Head Coach Bill Self said that Hield "could be player of the year in our league", which was a huge statement for the legendary coach to make, especially with all of the talented scorers coming back to the Big 12 for the 2014-15 season.
Hield, a 6-foot-4 junior, averaged 16.5 points per game and led the Sooners to a second place finish in the conference last season. Although his efforts earned him a spot on the All-Big 12 Second Team, many will be looking to see if Hield can take his game to another level and raise his draft stock going into the 2015 National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft.
Hield saw his draft stock improve toward the end of last season, but he decided to go back to school for his junior year. He will be one of the most looked at prospects this season, especially when it gets closer to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament time. He was projected as a late first round/early second round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
This year he will be asked to be more of a playmaker and will look to show improved ball handling skills, which was listed as one of his main weaknesses on several draft sites this past summer.
Oklahoma's 2014-15 season will begin on November 7, with an exhibition game against Washburn, followed by a non-conference game against Creighton University on November 19. Hield will have a chance to play in front of his home crowd over the Thanksgiving weekend when the Sooners travel to The Bahamas to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament at the Atlantis Resort.
Other players voted to the All-Big 12 team include Iowa State forward Georges Niang, Kansas forward Perry Ellis, Kansas State guard Marcus Foster, and Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Juwan Staten.

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Charles W. Saunders Cougars crush the Giants

October 16, 2014

The Charles W. Saunders Cougars made quick work of the St. John's College Giants, in front of their home crowd yesterday, taking the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) junior girls' match-up, 14-0. The game was called at the end of the third inning due to the mercy rule. The Cougars continued to improve while the winless Giants slipped further into oblivion.
Both Shania Sturrup and Asikia Brennen finished the game with three in-the-park home-runs each for the Cougars. Breante Dean also chipped in with one in-the-park home-run.
"What we try to do most is allow the girls to have fun," said Cougars' Head Coach Brad Wood. "This is high school softball. They don't get paid for this and it's really not that serious, although we want them to take the game of softball serious. We try not to apply too much pressure on them, and just encourage them to go out there and do their best."
The Cougars will travel to Nassau Christian Academy (NCA) for their next game and try to extend their win streak against a tough Crusaders team.
"We just have to keep the plan basic and simple," said Wood. "It's all above having fun. We want to smile when we are away, and when we are at home as well. I'm not trying to put too much pressure on them, because this is just softball. Some of these girls have more serious things to deal with. I just want them to listen, do as I say and we will be fine."
The Giants will be at home for their next game, and will try to get their first win of the season against the Queen's College Comets. The playoffs for the junior girls division begin on Tuesday November 4, at the Freedom Farm Baseball Park.

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BHTA's 16th annual golf tournament a tremendous success

October 16, 2014

The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) saw approximately 100 golfers tee off at the prestigious Ocean Club Golf Course for the BHTA's 16th annual golf tournament. Also, over 20 corporate sponsors donated almost $50,000 in cash and prizes in support of BHTA's workforce development initiatives and scholarship programs. The scholarships help to prepare and educate young Bahamians on the many options in the dynamic Bahamian tourism industry.
Corporate support came from quite a few business sectors in The Bahamas inclusive of hotel operators, restaurants, attractions, food and beverage distributors, travel and tour companies, financial institutions, marketing and promotional companies, insurance companies, and service operations. Sponsors provided cash donations, players fees, corporate prizes, and/or provision of products and promotional goodies for the golfers "trick or tee" bags.
This year, platinum and gold sponsors were able to "dress up their own hole" and golf carts, in keeping with the Halloween "trick or tee" theme. Sponsors set up emblazoned corporate tents, banners, flags and some had personnel giving away promotion items, beverages and products from the Sands Beer tent and the Heineken stand. Golfers played a "fidelity fun wheel" at the Fidelity tent, while the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board (NPIPB) tantalized the players taste buds with Bahamian treats at their hole. Atlantis, Aquapure and Scotiabank all dressed up their respective holes, while companies such as the British Colonial Hilton, Milo B. Butler & Sons Distributors, Caribbean Bottling Co., Serena Williams Media and PR, PINOL - Bahamas Wholesale Agency, Sign-a-Rama, Graycliff, Cole Insurance, Resorts World Bimini, Leisure Tours, J.S. Johnson, Bahamas Food Services, KFC and D'Albenas filled players "trick or tee" bags with corporate products and paraphernalia or gave generous cash donations to the cause.
"The support from our local businesses was truly impressive. All industries supported the BHTA Golf Tournament," stated Stuart Bowe, president of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association. "The tournament set-up created a new standard for the future."
Suzanne Pattusch, executive vice president of the BHTA, stated: "We could not have done this without the support and participation of our amazing corporate sponsors, our golfers, and of course the BHTA staff, volunteers and golf committee members. Not only was the tournament a smashing success in terms of the support garnered, everyone had fun playing and participating. We fully expect next year to be even more dynamic; more entertaining."
Golfers were able to win a record number of amazing prizes. The winners of the tournament were Anthony Hinsey and Gerhard Burkes. They won two tickets each to the United States, courtesy of Bahamasair. Other prizes included hotel "stay-cations" to Atlantis, Treasure Cay, Pink Sands, Valentine's Resort and Marina, Comfort Suites, Melia, Pelican Bay, Pigeon Cay and Swains Cay. Attraction members such as Ardastra, Dolphin Encounters, Luciano's Restaurant, Duke Wells Photography and Mandara Spa were part of the prize packages. Albany Golf Club awarded another top team four complimentary rounds of golf on their championship course. The best dressed hole went to Sands Beer, and their representatives won tickets to the VIP Tent at the upcoming Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. The best dressed cart went to Fidelity Bank, and their representatives won family passes to Dolphin Encounters.

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Wells fired

October 15, 2014

Months of raging controversy over the signing of a letter of intent (LOI) for a New Providence landfill project came to a head last night with a simple announcement from the Cabinet Office that Renward Wells is no longer parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works.
"The Cabinet Office advises that the governor general, acting in accordance with the advice of the prime minister, has directed that the office of parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works and Urban Development become vacant," the statement said, though it did not indicate why the position became vacant.
It was unclear whether Prime Minister Perry Christie still intends to provide an explanation surrounding the signing of the LOI.
Christie did not provide an opportunity for reporters to ask him questions on national issues yesterday as he said he would a day earlier.
There was no reaction from Wells to the firing last night.
There had been great speculation over Wells' fate after he signed the LOI for the $600 million-plus waste-to-energy project with Stellar Waste to Energy Bahamas Limited without Cabinet approval.
Wells signed the document in early July.
The Nassau Guardian reported

on July 21 that Christie asked him to resign. But Wells refused to resign and remained quiet, even as the matter became the popular topic of daily national debate.
Last week, Minister of Works Philip Brave Davis said Wells had taken a "back seat" as parliamentary secretary.
Christie told reporters on September 25 that he had asked Wells to "speak to the nation" on the matter in the House of Assembly and then he will speak.
Christie said he and the Bamboo Town MP would address the LOI matter before the House breaks.
He later urged Wells to speak truth.
The House has been adjourned to November 19 and Wells never spoke.
"The member for Bamboo Town knows my position," said Christie in the House of Assembly recently.
"You could assume if I spoke to him on day one, that my position has not changed, and therefore if I am sitting here in this Parliament when a member is defying me, I have the capacity to tell him, get out.
"He understands exactly what my position is."
Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins had said that if Rollins was fired, he would name names of other people who should also be fired.
However, he later explained that he did not intend to suggest he knew of any corruption.
Rollins also said Wells was being used as a pawn in a leadership struggle within the government.
Both Christie and Davis have denied the assertion.

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Minnis claims PHA report reflects '10 mil. clerical errors'

October 15, 2014

Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday that an auditor's finding that $10 million in pharmaceuticals could not be accounted for at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) last year is not an issue as it reflects "clerical errors".
The forensic accounting report reveals that there was a $10 million difference in inventory between the physical count and the theoretical inventory balances at the Princess Margaret Hospital Pharmacy, and no satisfactory explanation was provided.
Minnis, who said he read the report, claimed that there were two clerical errors that any accountant could have caught.
"There was a clerical error in that report where one liter of intravenous fluid, which costs no less than $20, was recorded as $5.4 million," said Minnis, who is a former minister of health.
"There was another clerical error where another liter of fluid was recorded at $3.6 million. That was in excess of $9 million in clerical errors, which the accountant should have picked up.
"That's what is in that report. That's how they came about that $10 million. It's a clerical error. That's why I said it is essential to review it.
"So the FNM and I [were] being blamed for $10 million of clerical error. All you had to do was review the report, and you would have found it was a clerical error."
The Nassau Guardian did not locate those "clerical errors" in the report of forensic auditor, UHY Bain and Associates.
Former Minister of Health Dr. Bernard Nottage has said the money was "lost" during the Ingraham administration.
But the period for the unaccounted for $10 million in pharmaceuticals was 2013.
The forensic accounting report also points to alleged abuses in relation to pharmaceuticals and medical supplies while Minnis was minister of health.
The report covers the period July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2013.
The forensic accounting report points to a report of the hospital's internal auditor.
"The Interal Audit concluded sample results revealed that an excess of $10 million in inventory did not physically exist in the pharmacy during the year (2013), but remained in the centricity system," the forensic accounting report says.
The report also says that, on several occasions, lack of effective controls allowed expensive pharmaceuticals and emergency supplies to reach their expiration date, instead of allowing for the transfer of the drug before expiry.
When Nottage accused the FNM administration of "losing" the PHA's money, he was responding to Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn who called on the government to be transparent regarding the report.
When asked if any of the concerns raised by the auditors were ever brought to his attention when he served as minister health between 2007 and 2012, Minnis said no.
"Anytime there is anything negative, they blame someone else," he said.
"If there is something positive, they accept the glory."
Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez said the government will "do the right thing" once the PHA is done with its investigation into the alleged abuses.

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Minnis confident of victory

October 15, 2014

A day after Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner announced she will run for leader of the party, FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday he is confident he will defeat her.
The Killarney MP, who has been FNM leader for over two years, said he is not worried about a challenge.
"I will run as leader," he said.
"I will go in as leader and I will come out as leader, after which we will continue running on a very, very aggressive campaign.
"We will not stop until we reach Government House when we are sworn in as the new government of the Commonwealth The Bahamas.
This Christie-led government is the worst government this country has ever seen."
On Monday, Butler-Turner said she will offer a firm and inclusive style of leadership.
Yesterday, Minnis said, "I don't look at individuals in terms of who is challenging me.
"I don't look at names or whatever. The post is vacant, and therefore anybody could challenge.
"But in terms of looking at personalities, no, I know what I have to offer."
While Minnis said he is prepared to work with Butler-Turner if she loses her bid to be leader, he added he is not thinking about the alternative.
"We are all FNMs and we are all fighting for one common goal," he said. "That goal is to move the PLP."
There has been reported strife between Minnis and Butler-Turner, which insiders have said is hurting the party.
In an internal email to Minnis last week, Butler-Turner said he was "playing a dangerous game" when he called an emergency meeting of the executive committee to discuss convention, when he knew she would be off the island.
But Minnis denied this and said there is no rift in the party.
Minnis said yesterday he is worried about the average Bahamian living in Bain's Town and Grant's Town, who cannot afford groceries or to keep their utilities on.
He said he denied a request to be on a special list of Bahamians whose water would not be turned off.
"If I don't feel their pain, how do I understand what they are going through?" he asked.
"The only way for me to lead and understand, I must feel their pain. I must understand their suffering. I must understand the problems they are facing."
When asked about the reported division in the party, Minnis said the party remains strong and effective.
"The FNM has been an effective opposition," he said.
"You must remember, every great oak tree was once a nut."
The FNM's convention is set for November 21.

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10 criminal courts by year's end 'problematic'

October 15, 2014

Although Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson said the government has made provisions for the appointment of additional judges, Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett said the government's push to have 10 criminal courts running simultaneously by the end of this year would be "problematic".
However, Sir Michael agrees there ought to be additional courts dealing with criminal matters.
"I think 10 by the end of this year is unrealistic at this stage," he said yesterday following a swearing in ceremony for Senior Justice Jon Isaacs, who was appointed a justice of the Court of Appeal.
"But certainly, we can increase the number from presently six to possibly eight. We need to put a lot of things in place for that to be done.
"It's not easy to conduct a criminal trial because you know you have to have jurors, you have the wider bar.
"A lot of things [have] to be contemplated to enable that to be done. So that is the objective, to increase the number of courts dealing with criminal trials.
"Whether we can do 10 by the end of this year is probably problematic. But there is a need to increase the number of courts to deal with criminal matters."
Underscoring the limited number of cases that are heard in criminal courts on an annual basis, Prime Minister Perry Christie said last year the government wanted 10 courts by the end of this year.
Maynard-Gibson, who was also at the swearing in ceremony, said the government has put measures in place for additional judges to be appointed.
"The budget allocation has been made and the appointment process itself is now a matter for the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) and the chief justice who chairs that commission," she said.
Sir Michael said judges are doing what they can to speed up trials.
"All you can do is continue to try to do as many [trials] as you can bearing in mind that the interest of justice requires hearing both sides and to ensure that procedural regularities are complied with to ensure at the end of the day, it's a matter that can withstand the scrutiny of the interest of justice," he said.
Sir Michael added that the civil side must not be neglected.
"The largest volume of work we do in the Supreme Court are domestic and family matters," he said. "They are very important. You can not underestimate the importance of having those matters heard and determined quickly.
"They involve family and they involve children...We can't ignore that part of the work of the court."

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Red Ribbon Ball set for Nov. 22

October 15, 2014

President of The Bahamas AIDS Foundation Camille, Lady Barnett announced yesterday that the 21st annual Red Ribbon Ball will be held on Saturday, November 22 in the Grand Ballroom of the Atlantis resort.
"For those of you who missed the 2013 ball, l advise you to get your tickets for the 2014 Red Ribbon Ball now. The 2013 ball was fabulous and 2014 will be even better," said Lady Barnett at a press conference at the Hilton hotel in Downtown Nassau.
"Last year, we raised $80,000.00. This year, we hope to raise even more funds. We need to raise more funds to support the work of the foundation especially three of our most important and costly programs."
Lady Barnett pointed to the outreach program for adolescents infected 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.
These medications are more costly, Lady Barnett noted.
She said the foundation has made a commitment to provide these medicines for four patients.
"That is all that we can presently afford to support," she said. "This program costs $24,000 a year."
The final program is "Combatting 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.
This year, the foundation has included a slogan and jingle competition that will coincide with World AIDS Day on December 1.
"As you can see, the proceeds from the Red Ribbon Ball are vital to the work of the foundation," Lady Barnett said.
"I encourage the community to support the ball, come and have fun and know that you are supporting a worthy cause."
Lady Barnett thanked the foundation's "loyal and generous partners", including Cable Bahamas, Zamar, John Bull, Hilton Hotel, Colina, Bahama Fantasies, Pictet Bank, BTC, JetBlue, Atlantis and Scotiabank.

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Cash to run for FNM deputy post

October 15, 2014

Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash yesterday revealed he will run for the deputy leadership position of the party during the FNM's convention on November 21.
"After spending many months dismissing talk of convention and who would be running for what position because that was not the time for such talk, I am able to confirm that I will offer my service as deputy leader of the FNM at the upcoming convention," said Cash when contacted for comment.
"I have only one goal and that is to do everything within my power to ensure that the FNM becomes the next government of The Bahamas whenever Prime Minister [Perry] Christie musters up the courage to call a general election."
Current FNM Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner announced on Monday that she will run for the leadership of the party.
Cash said his record reflects that he has his finger on the pulse of the party and has been hard on the government when necessary.
"I believe that by any objective measure it will be clear that for the last two plus years I have been relentless in my work to carry our party's message and make the case for why we would be a considerably better government [than the current government]," he said.
"Service at the level of deputy leader will still enable me to assist the leader and serve the party but at a more strategic level as we move closer to a general election."
Cash said he feels "extremely good about his prospects" of winning the deputy leadership race.
"I have traveled with the leader and individually, and particularly in the Family Islands our supporters know and appreciate that they have had a chairman who has been active, present, consistent, vigilant and never afraid to take on this horribly incompetent government," he said.
Responding to criticisms that the opposition has not been as effective as it could have been, Cash said not all of the criticisms have been "fair or justified".
However, he said the opposition has benefited from the criticisms and is progressively better because of them.
"In many respects the delegates' decision will come down to this: Did Darron Cash perform his job as national chairman in a way that inspires confidence that he will do as good a job or better if we promote him?" he said.
"As for me, I am confident that they will be able to answer that question with a yes and with a high degree of confidence."
Cash said he believes the party will emerge stronger following the convention.
Deputy Chairman Dr. Duane Sands has called a press conference for this morning to announce which position he intends to run for.

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Sir Arthur: FNM leadership race should not be about gender

October 15, 2014

Former Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes yesterday commended Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner on her decision to run for leader of the Free National Movement (FNM), adding that the contest should not be determined by gender.
While not endorsing Butler-Turner or any other candidate, Sir Arthur said he hopes the best candidate is selected.
"I commend Mrs. Turner, first of all for choosing to serve her country in the political arena, and also for aspiring to lead one of the country's two major political parties," said Sir Arthur in an email responding to The Nassau Guardian's questions.
"She follows in the footsteps of outstanding crusaders who blazed the trail for Bahamian women to take their rightful place in our political life.
"I speak of women such as [Founder of the Women's Suffrage Movement] Mary Ingraham; [Treasurer of the Women's Suffrage Movement] Eugenia Lockhart; [first female Senator] Doris Johnson; [first female member of Parliament] Janet Bostwick, and others who followed them.
"...With regard to the contest for leadership in the FNM -- or any other organization for that matter -- the choice should have nothing to do with gender, one way or the other. The object should be to select the person best qualified for the post."
Sir Arthur, a founding member of the FNM, said he hopes one day soon the representation of women in parliament will more closely reflect the demographic reality in the country.
"It simply makes sense to recognize that half of the nation's talent is with its women, and to draw on that talent," he said.
Butler-Turner announced on Monday that she will run for the leadership of the party.
She said she made the decision after much counsel with her Long Island constituents, her family and close friends.
"Along with others, I am grateful for the service that the present leader of the FNM, Dr. Hubert Minnis, has given as an MP, a minister and as leader of the opposition," she said at her home, off Shirley Street.
"Still, given the great challenges of mounting a more effective opposition, of holding this government accountable and of returning the FNM to office, the question is this: Who is the best available person, at this time, to lead the opposition in Parliament and in the country, and to defeat the PLP at the next general election?
"...I believe that I am the most capable individual at this time to unite, to reignite and to lead the opposition in order to defeat a failed government."
Minnis said yesterday he is confident he will win the leadership race.

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Hung jury in murder trial

October 15, 2014

A judge yesterday ordered a retrial after a jury was unable to decide whether Benson Ismy was guilty of murder.
Prosecutors alleged that Ismy shot Jerome Davis in the head at the Magic City parking lot on July 7, 2012.
According to the Crown, the shooting was the result of a fight that began inside the club.
But jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on his guilt, standing divided 10-2.
The jury convicted Ismy of possession of a .357 revolver and two bullets for the weapon on July 8 by the same count.
Justice Roy Jones will sentence Ismy on the firearm and ammunition charges in January.
He returns to court on Friday for a new trial date on the murder charge.
Abigail Farrington prosecuted. Tamara Taylor appeared for Ismy.

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