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6.18pm - Initial reports out of Eleuthera indicate the damage caused by Irene was significant, but not as bad as expected, however the islands are still being battered by hard wind and rain.
Elizabeth MP Ryan Pinder, who's father Marvin Pinder is from Spanish Wells, said he understands a fibre-optic cable has been severed in North Eleuthera cutting off all communications in the area.
However second hand reports out of Harbour Island indicated there was no major damage except for trees and shrubs, beach erosion and destruction of beach huts.
In Spanish Wells shingles have been ripped off roofs and trees are down, but residents said they have fared better than expected.
Mr Pinder said hi ...
Nassau, Bahamas - Enclosed is Remarks by Attorney General at the Crisis Center Peace Conference
at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort, Cable Beach, Nassau on 20th Sept
When I think about
peace, I think of that popular song, "Let there be peace on earth and let it
begin with me, let there be peace on earth the way that it was meant to be, with
God as our father, brothers all are we, let me walk with my brother in perfect
harmony". That is exactly your theme, Peace at Home (let it begin with
me) and let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony (peace in our
community). Sy Miller and Jill Jackson were a husband and wife songwriting team. In
1955 they wrote this song about their dream of peace for the world and how they
believed each one of us could help create it
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Each year The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation offers The Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award at the Annual Heart Ball. This award has been presented since 1968. The Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award was initiated by The Heart Foundation to applaud and give recognition to individuals who have selflessly given of themselves to promote human welfare and dignity, thus making life better for their fellow man.
At the 2012 Heart Ball Ms. Marjorie Davis received The Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award. She is known for her work as an educator, and Girl Guides leader. She joined the ranks of noble giants such as Lady Camille Barnett, Mr. Lowell Mortimer, Ms. Mary Profilo and Dr. Donald Gerace. These persons were all chosen from a pool of worthy candidates, to be the winners of this award.
As the deadline for the award fast approaches, interested persons are invited to nominate an individual, to be accompanied by a letter or statement explaining why the person recommended should receive the award. Nominations are to be submitted to:
The Golden Heart Award Committee
P. O. Box N-8189
Nassau, The Bahamas
Alternatively, submissions can be hand delivered to Grosham Property, Cable Beach. This is the office site for The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation.
Nassau, Bahamas - Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham welcomes
His Excellency Mansour Ayyad Sh A Al-Otaibi, Ambassador for Kuwait Thursday,
December 2, during a courtesy call at the Office of the Prime Minister, Cable
Beach. Ambassador Al-Otaibi had earlier presented his Letters of Credence to
Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes at Government House...
What does it mean to make art from a place or from a nationality - especially when it's changed beyond stereotypical recognition? Does that limit the understanding of artwork before it's fully explored? Such questions lie at the very heart of a collection of recent work by Holly Parotti that will be on display in a London gallery next month.
The exhibition at the gallery@oxo in Oxo Tower Wharf at London's vibrant South Bank October 4-21 is a culmination of a residency shared by the five artists last year as the 2011 recipients of the Commonwealth Travel Scholarships, awarded through an invitation-only process by the prestigious Royal Over-Seas League Arts.
After applying to Commonwealth Connections, an international arts residencies scheme, Parotti's portfolio made it into the hands of the Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL) Arts committee, who contacted her for a five-week long residency in London, England and Arbroath, Scotland.
"I was taken aback - is this for real? How did my portfolio get to this point of being invited to such a prestigious program with great past artists?" said Parotti, remembering the initial invitation.
"The more I spoke with the organizers, the more I learned just how important this was going to be for my work and career. It's such a great opportunity. It's still surreal to me."
In August last year, Parotti and the four other artists from around the globe - Nick Olsen, Sunil Sigdel, Prathap Modi and Samantha Donaldson - spent a week absorbing the melting pot of contemporary art culture in London galleries before heading to northeast Scotland to work intensely on their artwork.
Blown away by the facilities she was able to use at the ROSL partner Dundee Contemporary Arts, Parotti decided to make as much work as possible in her medium of printmaking. Staying true to her original proposal, Parotti set about making five bodies of artwork that examine everyday understandings of "Bahamianness."
"I don't want people coming to the work and saying oh, here is a Bahamian artist - because already that is putting me in a category," said Parotti. "That's not to say I'm not proud of my heritage - I am. It can be a contributing factor but it is not the end of my work."
Indeed the five collections of work Parotti will display at the exhibition rely on the power of juxtaposition to present dualities in the contemporary Bahamian physical and cultural landscape in order to make common Bahamian signifiers redundant in a globalized world.
In collections like "Safety in Numbers", "Safety is No Longer a Concern" and "Forest for the Trees", the now ubiquitous orange safety cones - in tight, well-organized rows or crushed by cars - as well as towering cranes pepper or in some instances completely eclipse the Bahamian landscape.
With cranes next to palm trees in an idyllic Bahamian pastoral and cones making clean new routes over charming old island roads, Parotti finds a chilling new beauty in an industrialized Bahamas, calling for a reevaluation of paradise. Yet at the same time, deeper knowledge of who is changing the land - building these roads and new Cable Beach developments - may inspire in viewers a new understanding of Bahamian history, one that repeats itself under the guise of 'independence' in a globalized and post-colonial world.
"I really hope it sheds a new light on colonialism," she said. "It's such a dirty word but at the end of the day, we are a product of it and if we don't accept we or us the way we are today, when are we going to do that?"
"I focus on objects as metaphors for human emotion and the human condition, so these pieces on the surface deal with the choices of our changing environment," she added. "What does reclaimed land mean? Are we going to keep letting these investments happen? What will investment by other countries like the Chinese in our land mean for our future? What residual effect does that have?"
In Parotti's newest body of work on display, "Passing Ports", similar dynamics are at work to examine the very fabric of Bahamian society and identity. Inspired by the application process for gaining her U.S. visa in her passport and her own cultural duality as Italian-Bahamian inherent in her last name, Parotti decided to use the passport object to engage a new discussion about the fallacy of a true Bahamian identity.
In "Passing Ports", a series of passports showcasing Bahamian names with loyalist refugee roots (Sweeting, Albury, Bethell) juxtapose modern Bahamian names with different cultural roots (Schmid, Petit-Homme, Antoni, Klonaris). In a place where the answer to "who ya people is?" will be everything a Bahamian cares to know about your identity, "Passing Ports" helps both Bahamians and foreigners alike examine the validity of the "true-true" Bahamian in a region of people always from somewhere else.
"I struggle with my Bahamian identity," she admitted. "I think labels make it more comfortable for people to understand you, and I've always been so uncomfortable with that because often those labels are so misconstrued. The identity issue was looking at whether I considered myself a Bahamian artist or an artist from The Bahamas because there is a difference to me."
"Why do I have to say if I'm a female artist? Why can't my work just speak for itself? Why do gender and cultural identity have to be a part of the finality of the work?" she continued. "So I think with the passport object I now had a vehicle and certain visual cues to speak about these issues metaphorically, to begin to address them - because it's not over. This is the route I will be taking."
Yet in her final piece, "Undercurrent", a film installation, Parotti finds a temporary reconciliation between strained dualities through a connecting factor in the globe's landscape: the ocean.
Though an entity completely different from our shallow Caribbean waters, the ocean Parotti became familiar with in the English Channel near her residency provided a somewhat calming continuity of existence despite the change in landscape and culture. With side-by-side films of the ocean approaching and retreating from the shore, "Undercurrent" comfortably surrenders to the relentless push-and-pull of rapid change.
The film takes a departure from her printmaking medium in the rest of the work on display, but Parotti is no stranger to film - in fact ARC Magazine will show her 2010 short "Breathe" at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival this month in the "New Media 2012" experimental film exhibition.
Despite these big achievements for Parotti, she knows her work has only barely begun - the time spent in Scotland and London have sparked more ideas than she could finish in her few weeks there. Thankful for the experience, she now looks forward to continuing the dialogues she has started.
"This was an experience where I created a lot of work but I also collected a lot of information from which to create more work, just based on my time there," she said.
"I don't think my work is ever a be-all statement - I just want to begin a conversation or dialogue and whatever is generated from that is fine by me."
For more about Holly Parotti's work, visit www.hollyparotti.com. For more about the Royal Over-Seas League Arts, visit www.roslarts.co.uk.
SuperClubs Breezes yesterday said it would pay staff a percentage of their wages to minimse the impact of its two-month closure until November 1, 2011, as it moves to repair roof damage caused by Hurricane Irene.
Explaining in a statement that it was impossible to keep the property open while the repairs were taking place, the Cable Beach-based resort said it had no option but to temporarily lay-off staff for two months starting on September 1.
Apart from paying staff a percentage of their wages, SuperClubs Breezes encouraged them to take accrued vacation so they could receive full pay for two weeks.
The resort added that some staff would remain in areas such as housekeeping, food and beverage, ...
Leading Realtor Mario Carey Urges Economic Stimulus Zone Around BahaMar to Jumpstart Business along Bahamian Riviera
Nassau, Bahamas - With
unemployment hovering at the 15% level and a $2.6 billion project underway in
the heart of Nassau, a leading Realtor® has called for the creation of an
economic stimulus zone on Cable Beach.
Mario Carey, founder of Mario Carey
Realty, believes that a commercially zoned four-mile radius along West Bay
Street spinning out from the BahaMar project would unleash entrepreneurial
opportunities, create jobs, increase property values, take pressure off
congestion in other areas and, in his words, "have the potential of
becoming the single biggest economic boost for a variety of small to mid-size
businesses in a concentrated area that we have ever experienced...
A leading realtor is calling for the rezoning of West Bay Street near Baha Mar to spur the creation of a "commercial stimulus zone" spanning up to four miles.
Mario Carey, the founder of Mario Carey Realty, said the concept has the potential to be the single biggest economic boost for businesses in a concentrated area. A commercial village would not only provide the thousands of tourists and workers with superior shopping and dining options, but also revitalize a stretch of Bay Street in desperate need of attention.
Carey told Guardian Business it is time to "begin the conversation" while the Cable Beach mega resort is still a few years away.
"I know how limited opportunities are along Bay Street for commercial businesses. People are always asking for it," he explained.
"How many thousands will be at that hotel? What are they going to do?"
The top realtor, whose firm is representing Baha Mar in its elite condo offerings, is also urging that investors in such a commercial zone should be given financial incentives, such as a temporary break from real property tax or duty-free exemptions on renovations.
The key, of course, will be the reactions of those in the immediate area. Carey said the presence of homes along Bay Street is an outdated concept, pointing to Carmichael Road and the area of Palmdale as examples of thriving commercial centers.
Gaining a commercial zoning license along Bay Street is incredibly difficult from a bureaucracy perspective, he said. The creation of a commercial stimulus zone would spark renewed interest and activity along Cable Beach.
Robert 'Sandy' Sands, senior vice president of administration and external relations, did not wish to comment on the endeavor at this stage.
"Currently, there is a mix of residential, commercial and recreational uses," Carey added. "So you have a large grocery store, for instance, between a new upscale strip shopping plaza on the east, and single family residences on the west. What exists is not based on planning. It just flew up that way. It has been piecemeal with each new proposed project fighting its own battle for development, rather than being planned with deliberate consideration and according to solid resort region planning principles."
The realtor noted that such a commercial village would be incorporated into the Bahamian Riviera and Baha Mar concept, with the gradual introduction of landscaping, lighting and CCTV security cameras.
Explaining that it's important to make Baha Mar accessible to average Bahamians, and create spin-off opportunities, he insisted that the government and other stakeholders have a responsibility to remove obstacles to Bahamian participation.
"What I am suggesting is a fundamental re-thinking about an area soon to explode with life and we have not addressed the immediate surroundings. Right now it is the largest single-phase construction project in the hemisphere," Carey said.
By SANCHESKA BROWN
RESIDENTS in western New Providence were without cable and Internet services for most of yesterday after a major fiber optic cable was cut in Cable Beach.
David Burrows, director of marketing at Cable Bahamas, said the interruption in services was due to the cable being cut by Baha Mar workers.
"Baha Mar workers," he said, "accidentally cut the wire while doing their road works. This is the second time this has happened in eight weeks. This cut has caused most of the western areas to be without service. We got the call around 2pm and sent our team out immediately. It will take them about six to eight hours to fix the problem. So the services should be restored ...
Nassau, Bahamas - Dr. Jerome Claude Thomas,
(left) the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the
United Nations to The Bahamas, Belize and Jamaica, visits with Prime Minister
Hubert Ingraham at the Office of the Prime Minister, Cable Beach on Tuesday,
November 23. On Monday Dr. Thomas presented his Letter of Credentials to the
Hon. T. Brent Symonette, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs...
Nassau, The Bahamas - The Government is committed to scouting for potentially great athletes in the country and preparing them for the 2016 Olympics and
other future sporting events, the Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry
Nassau, Bahamas - Prime
Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham welcomes executives of the Royal
Bank of Canada during a Courtesy Call at the Office of the Prime
Minister, Cable Beach, on Monday, November 22.
Pictured from left to
right are: Ross McDonald, Nathaniel Beneby, Prime Minister Ingraham,
Suresh Sookoo and David Hockett...
Your editorial "Welcome to chaos" only touches the problems at the new Lynden Pindling International Airport. You give attention to the arrival of baggage and the customs procedure. But you do not mention the very long walk (it seems like a mile) from the gate to the immigration hall, with no travelators? Hardly a welcome to visitors or returning residents, who carry heavy bags as carry-ons.
On reaching the arrival hall a band such as Blind Blake's sometimes plays to keep the tourists and others in a good mood. The immigration officers do their best to process arrivals with a big smile. The delay is sometimes slow when three or four planes arrive at once. Sometimes the baggage never arrives on the same plane, a fact you discover only after waiting hours to locate it. Yet technology is supposed to record every bag on the plane. Cannot this same technology advise passengers when their bag is left to come on a later flight and that the airline will arrange delivery to their hotel?
My experience in the customs area has been that tourist arrivals are given preference, and are processed with only minor inspection. If a long wait is experienced it may be caused by the lack of operating conveyer belts. There should be better signs to direct tourists to tourist only customs officer lines, and better management of Bahamas residents only lines, where one person with excess baggage can hold up the line for half an hour.
If The Bahamas is serious about welcoming our visitors and sending them home with happy memories, there is need for an improved system for both arrival and departure for all travelers. We have a new airport, but unless thought is given to the problems of large numbers arriving at the same time, or leaving at the same time, there will be nothing but complaints. What will happen when the 2500 extra rooms on Cable Beach bring more and more travelers at the same time?
Word soon gets around the traveling public. As the retired population increases and enjoys more vacations, the quick trip to The Bahamas will be off their short list when word gets around of the long waits in arrival and departure halls. Senior citizens won't put up with this and may stay at home or choose other destinations. All the money spent on advertising The Bahamas is soon counteracted by such negative publicity and word of mouth.
There must be a better way to process all travelers including the sick, the elderly, the lame and young children. No preference or consideration is given to those travelers, except that airlines offer wheel chairs and preferential boarding. No preference is given to senior citizens proud enough to join the rest of the public. No seats are made available in the customs hall while you wait to be processed or wait for your luggage. Even the lowly auto parts shops have a ticket system so you know how many people are in front of you, so that if there are many you can return to your car, or spend time looking at other merchandise. As for the lame or elderly, if they all took advantage of the complementary wheel chair services even more chaos would result. And why is there not better information on plane arrivals and departures and delays? Surely this should also be posted in the U.S. customs hall. Once in the U.S. customs hall you are a trapped. There is no way out, no way to get to a toilet, nowhere to sit down, and the wait can be over 90 minutes.
The commercial banks give preference to senior citizens, and big commercial customers, and make no profit from doing so. All LPIA travelers are paying good money to travel, and much of that money goes to the government and the Airport Authority and the U.S. government. You cannot blame the airlines.
If The Bahamas has negotiated for U.S. customs and immigration to pre-clear passengers at a cost paid by the traveler of $20.00 or more per person, they should be required to provide a better service. They know the flight schedules. They know the number of persons to process each hour. Yet they limit the number of officers allocated at peak hours, resulting in waits of two hours from the time the electronic ticket is processed by the airlines, to the time you clear U.S. immigration and customs. If the planes decide to wait for passengers delayed in this queue, this is a cost and a disruption to the airline and the various agencies handling passengers, not to mention the delays in the next flights later in the day.
Much is made of new technology. The requirements of the U.S. to have all travelers listed 24 hours before departure so that they can be pre-processed means they have no excuse. There should be a system to weed out suspected persons needing more scrutiny, so that the honest travelers can avoid these long queues.
Don't blame the system of pre-screening passenger luggage and body searches. This works in a reasonable time, and cannot be accelerated when the U.S. immigration and customs line is already starting well behind the entry to their hall. The patient passengers think they will soon be processed, and then find another hour or more in another queue inside the U.S. hall. It is worse than Disney World at peak times. At least they tell you if the wait is half an hour or two hours and you can choose to go or not on the ride.
Why do travelers need to be at the airport 3 hours before departure, then find that the flight is another 2 hours delayed? Five hours wasted before you get on your flight to the U.S.A., sometimes only 25 minutes in the air before arrival in Miami, for example. Again the technology exists to keep passengers advised. We pay $350.00 for a return trip to Miami, 180 miles. yet only $1200 for a return trip to London of at least 9 hours each way.
- Concerned Bahamian resident and traveler
Straw vendors in the Nassau Straw Market on Bay Street are upset about new rules governing how they display their merchandise in the market, with some vendors claiming it is unfair.
According to the vendors, compliance officers from the Straw Market Authority met with them early yesterday morning, outlining that they must break down the extensions on the top of their stalls and remove merchandise from the bottom of their stalls.
Vendors said that the stalls alone do not offer enough space to display their wares, and items stored inside the booths do not sell.
"In my entire life I have never experienced [this]," said Wendy Nixon, who has been a vendor in the market for nearly 30 years.
"We always had some type of rules, but never like this. This is bringing us back to when Moses went to Pharaoh and asked to let his people go. Pharaoh didn't comply. These officers are worse than Pharaoh.
She continued, "We know if we came out of Egypt, should we be back in Egypt or [in] the Promised Land?
"They have a problem that they don't want us to be able to display our work in a neat fashion. We have to display our work in a way that the tourists can see and be able to buy."
Cheryl Brenan, a vendor for over 20 years said, "I would like to know why they keep on telling us that we must only display one of this and one of that in the shop. How do they expect us to make the money to pay the rent?"
Chairman of the Straw Market Authority Ron Pinder said he was surprised vendors went to the press with their concerns.
"I am really taken aback that they would have taken that approach, after I extended open doors [to them]," said Pinder yesterday.
"[I] met with them, met with the leaders and anytime they have any questions when I am passing throughout the market they would stop me and talk to me."
Pinder said he would not comment further and would bring the issue up during the authority's first board meeting, which was to be held yesterday evening.
Wendy Lightbourne, a straw vendor for over 30 years, said she won't comply with the rule.
"I have a medical issue [and] my shop has to be here to help me pay my bills," she said. "I don't think we need to move the [extensions] because we need space to display our work in this market."
Lightbourne noted that many of the vendors are upset and ready to fight as their livelihood is at stake.
Nixon said she wants to talk directly with the prime minister.
"We need to call on [Prime Minister] Perry Gladstone Christie... to come and see about our business because it is much too long now, May 7 has passed and we haven't heard anything from them," she said. "We only see puppets walking about. Since Perry Christie holds the puppet strings we need to hear from him. We need to hear from [Deputy Prime Minister Philip] Brave Davis. We need to hear from the persons that we elected to come into this market and stop oppressing us."
Vendors subsequently marched in the market, chanting "we will not be moved".
They also complained about the lack of fans or an air-conditioning unit in the market.
The $12 million market officially opened last December, more than 10 years after the old market was destroyed by fire.
There are 497 vendors in the Bay Street market and 103 in the Cable Beach market.
So close are we to the U.S. in terms of geography, history and popular culture that we remain ignorant of the history and culture of China, and often deeply suspicious of its contemporary intentions.
This ignorance and suspicion, studied and reflexive, is often stoked by a similar mindset in the United States.
None of this is to suggest that the People's Republic is singularly a benevolent giant dispensing its largesse and proclaiming friendship simply out of the goodness of its heart. Likewise, with our American friends.
Proximity, historically and geographically, breeds familiarity. Having achieved independence in 1973, the British Empire is a recent memory, and the American superpower is what the name implies. We are rooted in, and deeply influenced by Anglo-American culture.
But today, there is another international player capturing our attention in terms of economics and geopolitics, though only slightly in terms of culture thus far. Even as the British were getting ready to shutter its High Commission, China and The Bahamas were ramping up diplomatic relations.
When the Chinese Embassy near the Montagu foreshore is completed, it will mark the first time that a diplomatic partner has constructed its own embassy in The Bahamas. While the U.S. will clearly maintain an embassy in The Bahamas, the Chinese intention is equally as clear. China is here to stay.
One of the most consequential foreign policy decisions of a sovereign Bahamas was the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1997 during the first administration of Hubert Ingraham and the FNM.
It was not exactly U.S. President Richard Nixon going to China in reference to his 1972 visit to the People's Republic launching a new era of strategic engagement between what are now the world's leading powers. But it was in that vein of realpolitik, yielding significant results over the past 15 years and counting.
Though often cautious and conservative on various foreign policy matters, the launch of relations with China showcased Hubert Ingraham's pragmatism. Given the role the Chinese ruling party plays in its system and the weight afforded certain personal relationships, the Chinese remain mindful of which party established relations.
The PLP and the administration of Sir Lynden Pindling were readying to send former Cabinet Minister Ervin Knowles to Taipei as resident ambassador to Taiwan. That would have been a major foreign policy blunder.
We would have been more isolated, and taken less seriously by various international partners and in various forums. To put it less diplomatically, we would have looked foolish.
Which brings us to today. As China continues to "rise" or "emerge" or some other verb depending on one's strategic calculus, much of the analysis is obscured by all manner of tunnel vision including near-sightedness. Many fail to adequately appreciate China's thousands of years of civilization and its long-term vision.
China is not rising. It is rising again. China is not emerging. It is re-emerging. In 18 of the last 20 centuries, "...China produced a greater share of total world GDP than any Western society. As late as 1820, it produced over 30 percent of world GDP - an amount exceeding the GDP of Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the United States combined."
Yet, there is something different about the China which re-emerged in the latter decades of the 20th century. It is moving past ideological and near-beyond geographic borders to secure its future and ambitions. China intends to secure its global position way beyond the South China Sea.
Many have written of the Chinese and Anglo-American worldviews as captured in the respective games of wei qi (pronounced "way chee") commonly known in the West by its Japanese name go, and chess.
In his latest book, "On China", veteran Chinese watcher and American foreign policy guru Henry Kissinger explores the Western and Sino approaches to international relations and the balance of global power as demonstrated in chess and wei qi. It is worth quoting Dr. Kissinger at length.
Positions of strength
Of wei qi Kissinger writes: "Each player has 180 pieces, or stones, at his disposal, each of equal value with the others. The players take turns placing stones at any point on the board, building up positions of strength while working to encircle and capture the opponent's stones."
Kissinger continues: "Multiple contests take place simultaneously in different regions of the board. The balances of forces shifts incrementally with each move, as the players implement strategic plans and react to each other's initiatives. At the end of a well-played game, the board is filled by partially interlocking areas of strength. The margin of advantage is often slim, and to the untrained eye, the identity of the winner is not always immediately obvious."
The former secretary of state notes of chess: "Chess, on the other hand is always total victory. The purpose of the game is checkmate, to put the opposing king into a position where he cannot move without being destroyed. The vast majority of games end in total victory achieved by attrition or, more rarely, a dramatic, skillful manoeuvre. The only other possible outcome is a draw, meaning the abandonment of hope for victory by both parties."
Kissinger then compares to two game theories: "If chess is about decisive battle wei qi is about the protracted campaign. The chess player aims for total victory. The wei qi player seeks relative advantage. In chess, the player always has the capability of the adversary in front of him; all the pieces are always fully deployed.
"The we qi player needs to access not only the pieces on the board but the reinforcements the adversary is in a position to deploy. Chess teaches the Clausewitzian [Prussian military strategist Carl Phillip von Clausewitz] concepts of center of gravity" and the "decisive point" - the game usually begins as a struggle for the center of the board.
Kissinger notes: "Wei qi teaches the art of strategic encirclement. Where the skillful chess player aims to eliminate his opponent's pieces in a series of head-on clashes, a talented we qi player moves into 'empty' spaces on the board, gradually mitigating the strategic potential of his opponent's pieces. Chess produces single-mindedness; we qi generates strategic flexibility."
In a March 2012 edition, the venerable magazine The Economist reviewed the Chinese presence in the Caribbean, especially in The Bahamas, in an article entitled, "A Chinese beachhead?"
The article concluded: "Yet it is hard to see the Caribbean becoming a Chinese beachhead on America's doorstep - a mirror image of Taiwan. Despite the presence of small ethnic Chinese communities in many islands, the Caribbean continues to look north. China keeps promising a stream of tourists, but few come. Baha Mar will be managed by Hyatt and other American companies."
The article and other observers are missing the point. China may not be looking for one big thing from The Bahamas - such as involvement in the financial services and oil sectors - or in the region.
By moving into many "empty spaces" in the region and around the world, it is gaining various strategic advantages while others are looking for the big Chinese play. The game is more advanced than many realize.
Reportedly, a WikiLeaks cable from the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas queried whether the intense interest of China in The Bahamas had something to do with the ongoing liberalization and opening up of Cuba. If this analysis is meant to be taken seriously, it also misses the point.
The Chinese don't have to come through The Bahamas to get to Cuba. China is already in Cuba. And, it is strategically encircling other powers through economic, political and military influence and alliances, occupying "empty spaces" left open by those who are missing the medium- and longer-term strategy.
For those interested in understanding the multiple threads of Chinese civilization, and its approach to international relations, one may study Mandarin at the new Confucius Institute at The College of The Bahamas as well as study the manner in which China courts allies through gifts large and small, diplomatic visits and flawless hospitality. And, is anybody up to a game of wei qi?
After years of being displaced, local golfers will finally have a place they can call home.
Although the negotiation process is still ongoing, President of the Bahamas Golf Federation (BGF) James Gomez said it is looking up. He is encouraging local golfers to brush the cobwebs off their golf clubs and return to the greens.
"We have negotiated a lease with the owners of the South Ocean property, the golf course," said Gomez. "The lease itself has not been signed nor has the service agreement, which allows us to begin work prior to the commencement of the lease. But I am confident everything will work in our favor.
"I was in a meeting with the minister of sports who gave assurances that the government will give some support to the federation to secure our position with the leasing of the property. We are moving in the right direction. A number of members have already contributed to assist with the reconditioning of the golf course. We are looking at a positive outcome and the only thing that can stop us right now is the owners. If they are not comfortable with some of the things that we have forwarded to them that will hold us up a bit. But whatever it is, our job is to try and make it work."
The Cable Beach Golf course was the temporary home for the federation. Since closure, local golfers played at the Ocean Club Golf course. As a result, a major decline has been seen especially in New Providence, revealed Gomez.
The president also noted that the BGF's Driving Range is heavily used by local golfers who are not in the financial position to play on a consistent basis over at the Ocean Club Golf course, located on Paradise Island.
Leasing the South Ocean golf course is an expensive venture which has an estimated cost of $300,000. But Gomez is confident that the federation can allocate the funds for a much needed initiative.
Gomez added: "At this particular time we are having difficulties accessing courses. That means that our players, when we go to championships we are not that competitive because they don't play enough competitive rounds and tournaments on an annual basis. Because of that problem our performance in the regional championships is generally subpar. We are looking to improve upon that.
"We are still in the discussion phase. There are a number of companies who have offered assistance, in the form of equipment or otherwise to assist with the reconditioning of the golf course. That is positive. If we are able to get started in the next two weeks or so, the intent is to then branch out, in terms of sponsorship with corporate houses who may be so inclined to sponsor a hole. If they do their company's name will be attached to that hole. At the end of the day the benefit of this golf course is going to be for the entire Bahamas."
According to Gomez, the course will cater to all persons in the western district of the island. He said it will be accessible and affordable to all, not only Bahamians, but visitors that stay along the Cable Beach strip. He believes that the course can be an option for tourist until Baha Mar opens.
Sub Heaven Limited, the company behind the Subway franchise, is looking to expand its network by two stores within a year after recording a 100 percent spike in sales.
While the franchise has been in The Bahamas for more than a decade, a number of restaurants shut down in recent years. John Bull Limited acquired the rights in late 2010 and opened its first restaurant around this time last year.
Beginning with the Charlotte Street grand opening, Sub Heaven Limited went on to launch the Cable Beach location and another in the Mall at Marathon.
According to Shane Boals, division manager at John Bull Limited, the takeover has injected fresh blood into the popular franchise, and the public has responded. The executive said sales have doubled year-on-year.
"I'm looking to open up more," he revealed. "That said, I'm trying not to do what everyone else did. Everyone comes out of the gates well but lets it fall. I'm trying to make sure we have everything up to Subway standards on a consistent basis."
Boals told Guardian Business that, at one point, there were 12 Subways in New Providence under different owners. He said those franchisees got "taken away" for, among other things, not following standards.
"They are franchises for a reason. You can't just do it your way," he said.
Adhering to these standards and focusing on customers have made the franchise successful this time around, he explained. The division manager is reporting strong revenues and high customer satisfaction, partly due to quickly introducing new products launched in the U.S. to the Bahamian market.
Commenting that "every new broom sweeps well", he felt a common problem among Bahamian franchisees is a lack of consistency. He made reference to the Outback Steakhouse in Nassau, which went through four different managing partners before finally shutting its doors.
He further noted that Subway offers an ideal "price point" and healthy alliterative for consumers in a market saturated by greasy food options.
Sub Heaven Limited is eyeing two openings in the coming year, including a location in Palmdale and "somewhere further east as well". Boals said the franchise is eager to expand, but needs to wait for the right moment.
The company has considered a restaurant in the Harbour Bay Shopping Plaza, although Boals noted Bahamas Subs and Salads still has a location there.
Bahamas Subs and Salads, formerly Subway, was converted to its present trademark by Wesley Bastian when he lost the franchise rights.
Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis has accused the government of seeking to develop the former Island Palm Hotel in Freeport into administrative offices to create jobs for Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supporters.
Minnis also said yesterday there has been no evidence to support the increase in homelessness in Grand Bahama alleged by Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis on the recent campaign trail.
"Are they now saying they are changing the Island Palm to administrative offices, knowing that a lot of renovations are needed to provide jobs to their people and cronies?" Minnis asked.
A week after Davis revealed that plans were in motion to use the property as a temporary homeless shelter, Prime Minister Perry Christie announced the government's revised plans.
Last Friday, Christie claimed the government took its queue from the response the plan had received from Grand Bahamians.
The Ingraham administration acquired the 156-room three-story property adjacent to the Rand Memorial Hospital at $1.9 million to develop Grand Bahama's healthcare product and a medical tourism market.
"The stories about people living in cars, people living on the beaches when we have that property sitting there doing nothing," Davis told reporters in Grand Bahamas.
"We are looking now at the possibility of bringing some of those persons off the beach, out of the cars, placing them there on a temporary basis until we can find something more suitable for them - either jobs and then moving them away from there."
Minnis questioned whether the deputy prime minister and prime minister were just "hawking whatever sounds good politically" instead of driving national development.
He suggested that the government abandoned its original plans because the level of homelessness that Davis claimed during the campaign trail was inaccurate.
"They were preaching throughout the campaign that there is an increase in homelessness in Grand Bahama, but show me the data for those people who are supposedly living on the beach and otherwise, and the individuals living in cars," Minnis said.
"If Mr. Davis has any interest in the homeless he has not made any statement as to what he plans to do for them."
Minnis advised the government to increase the budget for social services to support Grand Bahamians faced with financial challenges, instead of abandoning the plan to expand the Rand.
He said the government is ignoring Grand Bahama's health sector and its future development.
The acquisition of Island Palm came shortly after $9 million in renovation at the Rand.
"They are not using the building to address the problems that the Rand Memorial Hospital is faced with today and those problems will continue to escalate once we continue to have problems with chronic non-communicable diseases and the incidence of violent crime," Minnis said.
"There is already a shortage of beds. With us expanding and giving the Rand the most modern facility in their institution the plan was for a lot of the patients awaiting surgery in New Providence [to] have it done in Grand Bahama, therefore developing health domestic tourism.
"With that facility you would also be able to expand health tourism to the Caribbean and elsewhere."
Peter Nicholson has worked in the investment industry since 1987. Peter has specialized in tax reduction and philanthropic tax planning since 1995. He is the president and founder of WCPD Inc., a Canadian-based financial services company. His public foundation, the WCPD Foundation, has helped him and his clients give over $60 million to charities in the last three years. Peter started investing in Exuma in 2004 and has completed several real estate projects, including the recent purchase of 40 percent of Grand Isle Resort & Spa.
Guardian Business: What is the biggest challenge facing your business or sector? What measures need to be taken in The Bahamas to solve it?
Peter: My biggest challenge is attracting potential villa buyers and rental guests for the first time to Great Exuma and my resort, Grand Isle Villas (GIV). When people come once, they tend to return after discovering the gorgeous turquoise water, talcum powder beaches and the quality workmanship of our well-appointed villas. We are not only marketing to North America, Europe and South America, but also to residents of Nassau and Grand Bahama. As exciting as life is in bustling Nassau and Freeport, an escape to our outer island paradise can be relaxing, rejuvenating, and offers a retreat which is unmatched. I really believe once they visit Grand Isle, many will choose to purchase a villa as a close-by getaway offering an excellent return on their investment.
We need to rejuvenate the economy of Great Exuma, and with increased airlift, the support of The Bahamas Tourism Board and newly-elected Prime Minister Christie -- who is favoring the return of the duty exemption on construction materials bound for Exuma -- we will partner together to make Grand Isle Villas (GIV) an important economic catalyst for this beautiful, yet unknown to many, outer island.
GB: How has your business or sector changed since the financial crisis?
Peter: Everyone's business has suffered from the economic downturn. The important thing is to see the opportunities presented during these times, and take full advantage to prepare for the day when some measure of recovery is evident. Ironically, when the first owner of GIV ran into financial challenges, it gave me an opening to purchase 40 percent of the project and make plans to turn it into a world class destination resort. Our efforts are already paying off when GIV was named eighth best luxury resort in the Caribbean by the readers of the influential survey website, Trip Advisor. Finding success in a still uncertain economy means keeping a sense of optimism and an open mind. Change is inevitable and the economy will always have its highs and lows -- knowing how to turn adversity into success is why I enjoy being a business entrepreneur. In my Canadian business, I counsel my clients not to see the glass as half empty, but view it for the potential to be half full. Once recovery comes, it is often too late to get into the game. The most successful business executives are those who put themselves out there and aggressively pursue what is possible.
GB: Briefly, can you describe a life experience that changed how you approach your work today?
Peter: I really did have a life changing experience which brought me to my current involvement in GIV. My friend and business partner, Tyrone Monroe, was born in 1959 on the tiny settlement of Farmers Cay, Exuma. He left there in his early twenties and traveled to Ottawa, Canada to seek a better life and more opportunities. Twenty years later he returned to his home for a family reunion and was amazed to see his tiny community had modernized in many ways. Tyrone realized a computer chip had allowed his home to enter the 21st century with advancements including electricity, desalinated drinking water, high speed Internet and cable television. With that realization, Tyrone also recognized the potential beauty of his seafront village and the surrounding property as a prime real estate opportunity. While he had a vision for the future, Tyrone lacked capital. This is where I came in, and a friend made an introduction between the two of us. Tyrone's enthusiasm convinced me that Exuma presented a rare investment opportunity. He knew the local real estate and totally understood his native culture. The rest, as they say, is history. Tyrone and I have a close professional and personal relationship over the past eight years. I had the capital, and the ability to raise more, giving us the chance to seize opportunities when they arose.
GB: What are you currently reading?
Peter: I am an avid reader, and my tastes can best be described as eclectic. I tend to read multiple books at the same time, as well as Canadian and Bahamian newspapers, which are critical to keep up with political and economic changes. On my current book list is "Island Fever", an autobiography of Charlie Phleuger. A true pioneer, he was Exuma's Peace and Plenty Hotel general manager for thirty years. At the same time, I am also fascinated with the book "Dead Aid" by African born Dambisa Moyo. This PhD in economics has created controversy in the philanthropic world by making the argument that if wealthy Western countries really want to help Africa, they should cut economic aid and instead replace aid with significant investment. The Chinese are doing this already.
GB: Has the high cost of energy hurt your business? What solutions have you initiated or considered to combat it?
Peter: I am always looking for new and innovative techniques to reduce energy costs, whether in my Canadian business or in Great Exuma. The sunny, frequently windy weather in Exuma, coupled with its small 7,000 population makes it an ideal candidate to be an example to the world to have sustainable ways of producing energy. Exuma has a particular challenge because energy is mainly created by diesel generators run by Bahamas Electricity Corporation. Finding techniques and technology to reduce energy costs and introduce new options is a priority for me. I treasure the eco-friendly atmosphere on Exuma. While reducing energy costs and developing new resources is a lofty goal, I am looking for people who have ideas or projects which can help us meet the need. I invite them to share their thoughts and start a conversation with me by e mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GB: What makes a great boss? What makes a bad boss?
Peter: A great leader is not afraid to listen to their people and encourage their active participation in sharing new ideas. Grand Isle's Board of Directors is a group of inspiring, great bosses. Jon Wright, our board chairman, has a sign in his company which wisely advises, "None of us is as smart as all of us." On the other side of the equation, a bad boss takes all the credit for business success and blames employees for the failure. History shows us that whether a corporate president or a politician, being an inclusive chief executive makes for a good boss.
GB: If you could change one thing concerning business in The Bahamas, what would it be?
Peter: I would certainly like to see The Bahamas surpass other destinations, including the United States of America, as the leader in providing award winning service. The most successful hospitality economies are those who invest in training their service sector employees to see the advantages of providing exceptional guest service. This means being polite, attentive, and understanding that providing excellent service attracts affluent tourists who expect nothing less than the best. Excellent performance as a service provider opens the doors to many career opportunities and advancements. People will not return to The Bahamas if their experience is marred by indifferent service and impolite attitudes. The Caribbean is known for warm hospitality; we must continue to improve our dedication to visitors.
GB: What keeps you grounded? Do you have any major interests other than work?
Peter: My family (including my four children), friends and employees keep me grounded. They know my faults, but appreciate my positive traits. No one is perfect, but I continue to aspire to fix the things that need improvement.
GB: What should young businesses keep in mind in this current economic climate to survive?
Peter: We all encounter tough times. It is not always easy to see the glass half full, but research shows optimists survive tough times better than pessimists. You can take tough times as a disaster, or you can vow to work harder, identify the problems and remember the words I have always liked: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Nothing was ever accomplished by wallowing in misery during tough times. It may be very hard, but at the end of the tough times, opportunity awaits for those who have been prepared.
GB: How would you describe or classify the ease of doing business in The Bahamas?
Peter: Doing business in The Bahamas is a learning experience, which I have honed over the past eight years. Personal relationships with the people and influencers is the best form of networking. With more than 800 islands, logistics and communication can be an issue. I would not be here if I did not believe Grand Isle, Great Exuma and The Bahamas provide a world of opportunity. The scenic splendors of the region, the amazing waters and beaches, and the traditions of centuries make it the place where I am confident it truly is "Better in the Bahamas". I am here to stay!
oI invite interested people to contact me personally at email@example.com if they would like more information on all Grand Isle Villas has to offer.
An executive at Colina Insurance Limited says medical expenses in the country could rise between six and eight percent next year.
Marcus Bosland, resident actuary at Colina, said recent inflation trends indicate that Bahamians will likely be paying more for healthcare. The steady increase in medical expenses over the years will not halt going into 2013, and it should remain in line with an overall spike in the cost of living.
"There's no reason to expect that costs will not continue to go up in the same way that they go up in everything else we consume," Bosland said. "The recent trends are in the order of six percent per year in terms of cost, which translates into slightly higher rates in premiums and that is probably of the order I expect."
Bosland's comments came at Colina's annual health forum, which was held at the Sheraton Cable Beach Resort late last week. The free public education seminar focused on medical insurance and touched on various areas, ranging from the overall benefits of having a plan to why medical insurance costs rise.
Bosland offered insight on the variables that affect pricing. He mentioned that bringing this sort of awareness to the public is essential to providing the best service to its clients so they won't be faced with high medical bills.
"It's important to know [why medical costs rise] so you can plan for it," he said. "Oil prices have been increasing over the year and medical prices are no exception and medical insurance prices as a consequence is no exception. People have to understand that because when you are faced with an increased price you need to make a decision in the context that you understand that the prices are going up."
The resident actuary added that relief for medical insurance prices could come due to a domino effect created by tariff reductions on medical equipment, with EKG machines and filters the only items that were changed to duty free, according to the 2012/2013 budget communication. He said if other medical devices can experience some type of reductions, it could slow the rise of medical expenses, which will in turn mean better insurance rates for Bahamians.
The educational forum was very timely, according to Vice President of Finance for Colina Catherine Williams. She felt the event was the perfect setting to engage in dialogue about the dynamics of medical insurance.
"We do get a lot of questions from time to time from our clients, and a lot of the time it's important for us to make sure our clients understand what they purchased and what type of benefits they received," Williams said. "The more clients understand what they have bought and what they are entitled to the better it is for us to ensure that we service them properly. Where we see a need to educate our clients, we do the best we can."