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The story broke last week Monday that the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States has been recording all cell phone calls in The Bahamas. The online site The Intercept published the story. The supporting documents for the piece are reportedly from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Since the disclosure by The Intercept and stories in the Bahamian media, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau has just said that, as a matter of policy, the United States has made it clear that it gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.
On Monday, U.S. Charge d'Affaires John Dinkelman said he could neither confirm nor deny allegations that the NSA is recording and archiving every cell phone conversation in The Bahamas. But, Dinkelman thinks the relationship between the two countries is strong.
"Regarding the relationship between the United States and The Bahamas, it has never been stronger and will continue to be one of the closest and manageable in today's world where we struggle together for freedoms, for peace and most importantly for the security of both our nations," he said.
When the initial story broke, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell said in a statement that the reported recording and storing of cell phone calls in The Bahamas by the U.S. appeared to be illegal and an abuse of power.
"It would also represent a great moral failing on the part of its perpetrators, in addition to illegality, which challenges the founding principles of the rule of law," he said.
The Bahamian government then told the country it was awaiting an official response from the U.S. before saying more on the issue.
"In the meantime we urge all Bahamians to remain calm about this matter, keeping our eyes on the fundamentals of the relationship between the two states and our longer-term interests," said Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis last week in the House of Assembly.
The government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas should know that the Americans will tell them no more in private than they have said in public. They have not denied the allegation, and we all know that Snowden took their private files.
As a small nation, we have no retaliatory power against the U.S. But at this stage what is needed is a strong statement from a nationalist in the Parliament of The Bahamas on behalf of the government expressing the anger of the Bahamian people on this issue.
The Americans should know that as a sovereign nation we take grave offense to them recording the conversations of our children, our friends and colleagues. We have no idea what they do with this information. We don't know if they use it against us in some way. We don't know if they save it to use it against us if we dare to have an independent thought or position against America.
What this intelligence program gives the U.S. is another means by which to blackmail the people of The Bahamas. Dangling this power over the heads of a people is an act of hostility. There is nothing friendly about blackmail.
The U.S. does these things because it can. It especially does these things to little countries because they have no power of response to the great superpower.
In speaking back to America, however, we need to make that country and its officials aware that such acts of hostility toward weaker peoples fuel anti-Americanism. And this sentiment in a people always makes it more difficult for America to achieve its interests.
We wonder if there is anyone in our Cabinet who "believes in The Bahamas" enough to condemn the great United States and articulate Bahamian outrage on this point. America has compromised our political and law enforcement classes with gifts of equipment and cooperation. Others in our community are so mesmerized by being able to go shopping in South Florida that they dare not say anything to get our neighbor to the north upset.
If we are to be a proud, sovereign nation, we must stand up and condemn our friends when they have wronged us. We should let them know in clear terms that their willingness to abuse their power and violate our privacy endangers our "friendly" relationship. Their cavalier actions also erode the goodwill many Bahamians feel toward the U.S.
We shall watch and see what our leaders say regarding this matter. Maybe they don't care and hope the issue dies down over time. But if the Bahamian government lets this go with no further protest, the Americans will know that the docile people of The Bahamas live in a country where it is easy for the United States to perfect whatever intrusive experiment it chooses with little to no resistance.
The Festival Noel Committee is pleased to announce the that winning restaurant for Festival Noel's top prize, CHEF NOEL, which was won by the newly opened restaurant Agave. The restaurant owners have also won an adverting package from Cool 96 and Bahama Buy & Sell, gifts from Bristol Wines and Spirits, a winning plaque and the honour of being voted TOP CHEF in Grand Bahama.
Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller said yesterday he was shocked the Bahamas Crisis Centre rejected a $1,000 donation he made last Thursday.
Miller offered the donation amid controversy surrounding comments he made in the House of Assembly about abusing an ex-girlfriend.
"I guess you could say I was shocked as everyone else as to that press release," he said when contacted for comment.
"I believe any Bahamian, or anyone in the world, has a right to make a contribution if they are asked to make one.
"I know of no organization that really cares about anyone or anything in this country that would turn down a contribution. It is unheard of to me."
But Miller said a press statement from the centre would not affect his pledge to assist abused women in the country.
"Either you will be serious in assisting women or you will have your organization where you have these highfalutin women who believe they have the answers to everything and want to try and make someone look bad," he said.
"It doesn't hurt me because I can give my money to anybody, as I always do.
"But in my opinion we just need to get real, sit down, deal with this problem that we are facing.
"[We need to] deal with it in a forthright manner and get whatever assistance these people need.
"But don't bring politics and other garbage into the equation because people are out there hurting and I don't have time for games."
In its statement on Sunday, the Crisis Centre said the acceptance of Miller's check would be "contrary to the principles that guide our work on behalf of victims of domestic violence".
"We see this as a teachable moment for our nation," Crisis Centre Director Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson said.
"So often when a victim is battered, this explosion is followed by a honeymoon period, which is to shower the victim with gifts, money, jewelry, flowers and other niceties."
The Crisis Centre released the statement at 3 p.m.
Miller said he got a call around 11 a.m. from Dean-Patterson asking to meet with him around 4 p.m.
"So within five minutes of leaving her office I got a call saying she sent this statement out," he said.
"So I didn't know what the hell to think.
"She never indicated to me that there was a problem with the contribution.
"I was shocked when I read the story this morning. I say, you know, these people who claim to be so goody goody...have to stop being so disingenuous."
He added, "She never said to Leslie Miller that she could not accept the check.
"We had a very productive meeting, which surprised me. I mean I was onboard with her and she was onboard with me."
Dean-Patterson declined comment yesterday.
Miller said he intends to go further in his charity work for abused women and hopes to bring corporate sponsors onboard to make donations, including the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), where he serves as executive chairman.
Thousands of school children were urged to not waste time last year, by gospel recording artist Ricardo Clarke, who will once again embark on his "Wasting No Time" school campaign. During the school visits Clarke, engaged in mentoring sessions, workshops and hosted concerts as he did what he could to translate the message he wanted to in a way that the children could understand and would accept.
Clarke's school visits are motivational in nature, speaking to students about the value of a good education, cultivating a healthy network of friends and how their school years are important to the overall direction of their life.
"We will be able to use the students' love for us and our songs to hopefully direct them to a productive lifestyle," says Clarke. "It is safe to say that all schools encourage their students to avoid time-wasting habits and aspire to be great academically, it is my aim to reinforce that, and partner with schools nationally in whatever way I can to achieve this result."
Clarke says the campaign was an overwhelming success last year and reached 15,000 students in 50-plus schools in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Central and North Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Spanish Wells, Central and North Andros and San Salvador. He encouraged students to never settle for anything but the best in academics, and reinforced the importance of using their time wisely in school.
Initially, this was done without very little financial help, however, the passion to connect with the youth and inspire them to greatness kept Clarke and his team on their journey.
With over 200-plus schools and 50,000 students it was Clarke and his team's desire to visit every island, and every school, to remind students that time is a gift and to use it wisely.
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- The Grand Bahama Children's Home was the recipient of $500 from local artist Leo Brown and his publisher recently. Leo, as he is well-known, is a Bahamian Impressionist whose works are in demand both locally and internationally.
Recently, he teamed up with Daniel Lowe, President of Bahamas Printing & Publishing, to create a series of greeting cards, making his work more accessible and affordable to mainstream audiences. In creating the box of 10 litho, quality cards and envelopes, both also felt it was important to give back to the community. To this end, Leo and Mr. Lowe have committed to donating part proceeds of these cards, for a full year, to the G.B. Children's Home.
"We are very blessed by this donation," said Geneva Rutherford, GBCH Executive Committee, "Leo and Daniel have not only created a beautiful keepsake gift for visitors and residents, but they are also helping us keep the children safe in our Home. We thank them so very much!"
Pictured at the first donation from the card sales are (left to right) Brennamae Cooper, GBCH Administrator, Leo Brown, Artist, Geneva Rutherford and Daniel Lowe President Bahamas Printing & Publishing. Leo's cards are on sale at Leo's Art Gallery, Bahamas Printing & Publishing and the Art of Giving.
Nassau, Bahamas - Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry
Christie accepts a "Gift of love from the heart" book presentation
from author Beaumont Todd, left, during a courtesy call February 11 at the
Office of the Prime Minister. The book is called "Tirade of the
"Tirade of the Heart takes
you on a journey through my love's lost, sadness and loneliness, and my
greatest inspirations from nature and God. Some of my more inspired
poems were written during my greatest times of tragedy. These included
when I had lost my brother and grandmother within three months of each
other in 1998, and then both my uncle and grandfather in 2007 to 2008..."
Nassau, Bahamas - More than 2,000 young people attending
the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) Summer Youth Camps will dine on the
generosity of Bank of The Bahamas. The donation -- gifts cards for a summer's
lunches and snacks from Phil's Food Services -- was made during a presentation
today at BOB's head office with representatives of all nine summer youth camps
throughout New Providence.
"We're extremely grateful to have
the support of Bank of The Bahamas, especially since the program has been
extended from four weeks to six weeks this year," said camp coordinator
Inspector Chrislyn Skippings. "Our goal this year is to provide positive
activities in keeping with our POLICE 2012 policing plan and the bank's
donation will help sustain the programs we're currently implementing for the
NASSAU, Bahamas -- More than 2,000 young people attending the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) Summer Youth Camps will dine on the generosity of Bank of The Bahamas. The donation -- gifts cards for a summer's lunches and snacks from Phil's Food Services -- was made during a presentation today at BOB's head office with representatives of all nine summer youth camps throughout New Providence.
"We're extremely grateful to have the support of Bank of The Bahamas, especially since the program has been extended from four weeks to six weeks this year," said camp coordinator Inspector Chrislyn Skippings. "Our goal this year is to provide positive activities in keeping with our POLICE 2012 policing plan and the bank's donation will help sustain the programs we're currently implementing for the children."
This is the third year BOB has supported the summer youth camps that help students gain respect for themselves and others through well-structured activities which demonstrate the rewards of hard work and dedication. This year's sessions in neighbourhoods throughout New Providence kicked off on July 2 with a march to Police Headquarters where more than 2,000 participants were divided into their various camps, based primarily on the police division in which they live. Each camp location averages 220 participants and operates 9am to 2pm on weekdays. Some 320 youngsters are enrolled in Central Division.
This letter is about a gift of life given to my family by the doctors (private and government), nurses at the Rand ICU and the remarkable EMS in Freeport.