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While a leading catastrophe modeling firm has revised its insurance losses estimate for Hurricane Irene, local experts believe the number is still grossly exaggerated.
AIR Worldwide reduced the losses for The Bahamas to between $200 and $400 million, down from its August 26th $300-to$700 million estimate.
But Brice Ferguson, president of Professional Insurance Consultants, said the revised figure was still "ridiculous".
In fact, Ferguson said the true figure to be closer to $30 million, and believes the manner in which firms collect the data is not only inaccurate, but could also be costing local premium payers.
"We continually talk to [the reinsurers], but the problem is they tend to sit in their glass towers, get the computer models and slavishly go by them instead of getting out here themselves, which in the old days they used to do," Ferguson told Guardian Business.
"[The computer models] are very inaccurate, and nothing can beat people on the ground for assessing the damage that was actually caused."
Better loss estimation by the major reinsurers in London, Zurich, Munich and France could result in lower premiums for Bahamian property owners, according to Ferguson. The modeling does not take into account many of the on-the-ground realities such as the protection reefs lend New Providence to mitigate potential damage on this island, he added.
"They lump us in with the US ... it makes it difficult to get the insurance that we want at the price we want," Ferguson said.
He pointed to the fact that Bahamians were paying comparable home insurance premiums to those paid in Jamaica, despite the fact that Jamaica's property owners are exposed to earthquake risk as well.
But according to President and CEO of Bahamas First, Patrick Ward, Bahamians may be spared unduly inflated premiums due to the close relationship local insurers have with their reinsurers. In a separate interview, he told Guardian Business that while he did not know where AIR was getting its numbers from, in terms of actual assumptions for insured properties, reinsurers were more likely to rely on feedback from the local market and real time "actuals" rather than the computer estimates.
"[AIR's estimates] would have had an impact, and a negative impact if it weren't for the fact that local companies are in direct communication with the reinsurers, which ultimately will be the determinant factor," Ward said.
He stated that the industry consensus was placing insured losses at between $30 and $40 million.
To arrive at more accurate insured loss estimates going forward, Ward said AIR must better analyze actual data and calibrate their forecasting models accordingly.
According to AIR, its revision was based on a refinement of information about how many properties were actually insured, based on feedback from local experts during its recent damage survey, and a reanalysis of what insurers of a "significant" portion of the market detailed their exposure to be.
AIR noted that its estimate represented all insured properties in The Bahamas - not just those insured by Bahamian companies.
From Ferguson's perspective, however, it's highly unlikely the handful of Bahamian properties insured offshore would bridge the $170 to $360 million gulf between the local and AIR's estimates. Resort properties such as Atlantis, Sandals and Breezes have offshore insurers, but based on what is known about their damages, "it's not going to make a huge difference", said Ferguson.
"Since [the] initial posting, AIR conducted a damage survey in the Bahamian islands of New Providence, Eleuthera, Abaco, and Green Turtle Cay," said Scott Stransky, scientist at AIR Worldwide.
"The levels of observed damage from both wind and flood were consistent with expectations and with AIR model results. Wind damage to well-built concrete structures was limited to the roof, as the model indicates, while the less prevalent wooden structures suffered more substantial damage. Well-engineered commercial properties typically suffered significant damage to signage."
Complaints of joint pain seem common place and are even expected as people age. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States affecting more than 40 million people. It is more common as you get older, especially in the elderly, however it can occur at any age, and the word literally means pain within a joint. Arthritis, describes the inflammation and swelling of the cartilage and lining of the joints, along with increased fluid in the joints.
Arthritis and the feet
The feet seem more susceptible to arthritis than other parts of the body because the feet have 52 bones and 33 joints that can be affected, and they bear the brunt of walking and standing. Arthritis in the feet can cause loss of motion in the joints and loss of independence, but that may be avoided with early diagnosis and proper medical care.
There are three types of arthritis that may affect your foot and ankle.
Osteoarthritis is wear and tear arthritis. It is common in people after they reach middle age. Over the years, the smooth cartilage at the ends of the bone wears down causing inflammation, swelling, and pain in the joint as the bone edges rub together. It progresses slowly and the pain and stiffness worsen over time.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease seen in joints all over the body caused by a person's own immune system attacking and destroying the cartilage.
Arthritis can develop after an injury to the foot or ankle, especially if the injuries were ignored and not treated. This type of arthritis is similar to osteoarthritis and may develop years after a fracture or severe sprain.
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by a buildup of the salts of uric acid -- a normal by-product of protein in the diet. The big toe joint is the most commonly affected area. Avoiding proteins such as shellfish, red meat, cold cuts and cheese can prevent or delay the attack of arthritis.
There are other causes of arthritis including bacterial and viral infections to the joint, bowel disorders, and even some drugs.
Different forms of arthritis affect the body in different ways. Once cartilage is damaged it cannot be reversed. Signs and symptoms of arthritis of the foot vary, depending on which joint is affected. Common symptoms include joint pain or tenderness, early morning stiffness or reduced motion, swelling and difficulty walking.
Early diagnosis is important for effective treatment of all types of arthritis. Your podiatrist will diagnose arthritis by using medical history, a physical examination and other tests. Additional tests may include an exam of the way you walk (gait analysis). This shows how the bones in the leg and foot affect walking. X-rays can show changes in the joint space between the bones or in the shape of the bones themselves. A bone scan, computed tomographic (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance image (MRI) may also be ordered for more evaluation.
The objectives of treatment of arthritis are controlling inflammation, preserving or restoring joint function and curing the disease if possible. Depending on the type, location, and severity of the arthritis, there are many types of treatment available. Arthritis may be treated in many ways.
Education is very important. Physical therapy and exercise are important to make sure the joint continues to move. Other non-surgical treatment options include pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling, shoe inserts (orthotics), custom-made shoes, such as a stiff-soled shoe with a rocker bottom, a brace or a cane, weight loss and control or nutritional supplements such as Chondritine and Glucosamine and medications, such as a steroid medications or fluid injected into the joint.
If arthritis doesn't respond to non-surgical treatment, surgical treatment might be considered. The choice of surgery will depend on the type of arthritis, the severity of the disease, the impact of the disease on the joints, and the location of the arthritis. Sometimes more than one type of surgery will be needed.
Surgery performed for arthritis of the foot and ankle may include arthroscopic debridement to clean out the joint, arthrodesis or fusing the joints together permanently, and arthroplasty, a joint replacement.
Remember, arthritis is a chronic, long term condition that will require long term treatment. If you have symptoms of arthritis you don't have to suffer in silence, there is relief available if you see your podiatrist.
oFor more information, email me at email@example.com or visit www.foothealth.org, apma.org or orthoinfo.aaos.org. To see a podiatrist, visit Bahamas Foot Centre on Rosetta Street or call 325-2996 or Bahamas Surgical Associates on Albury Lane or call 394-5820.
The Whistleblower, along with thousands of fellow Facebook junkies, is hoping against the odds that the repressive regime of Prime Minister Perry Christie was not behind the shutdown of the popular Facebook news page Bahama News Ma Bey (BN).
BN was a social media news source that kept the PLP's feet to the fire by shedding light on the inner workings of the government. Bahamians from all walks of life and of all political persuasions were routinely kept abreast on the affairs of the PLP.
BN is the second Facebook news page which was mysteriously shut down without so much as an explanation. Several weeks ago, popular activist Rodney Moncur's Facebook page was also shut down. Like BN, Moncur was very critical of the PLP and its many questionable, head-scratching policies.
Based on the plethora of comments which were given by thousands of Bahamians on these Facebook sites, the PLP's popularity has faded. With the recent announcement that law enforcement officials will now be keeping an eagle eye on social media sites, due to their understandable anti-PLPism, it is a given that the PLP has become jittery and would do almost anything to hold on to the reins of power.
The Whistleblower cannot help but notice the PLP's radical transformation into a totalitarian government in the two years it has occupied high office. The party is slowing but surely morphing into a dictatorship.
Lost in all the ongoing discussion concerning NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the troubling allegations of the U.S. government wiretapping and eavesdropping on the cell phone calls of Bahamians is the creation of the Christie regime's National Intelligence Agency, which is headed by Clifford ''Butch'' Scavella.
The Whistleblower has heard and wants clarification as to whether Scavella is making a hefty salary.
The NIA is made up of law enforcement officers. Just exactly what is the purpose of the NIA? Are all members of the NIA PLPs? Is the NIA the PLP's paramilitary, which mirrors to a certain extent the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's Black shirts and Roman despot Caligula's Bodyguard?
Will the NIA be used to intimidate political opponents of the PLP in the remaining three yers till election? And is Butch Scavella subservient to police chief Ellison Greenslade, or is it the other way round?
Whatever the case, one thing has become patently clear: the PLP has all but hamstrung and humiliated Greenslade. The PLP has undermined his authority. No PLP police officer fears Greenslade because he cannot touch them as they are the untouchables. You get the sense that the PLP wants to fire Greenslade, but they can't bring themselves to do it. It looks like they are blaming him because their Urban Renewal and Project Safe Bahamas programs have flopped.
FNM Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner said a few weeks ago that the NIA is doing the same thing the NSA is being accused of. Butler-Turner's postulation that the NIA is wiretapping the phones of FNMs is indeed troubling.
Her remarks came on the heels of a well publicized incident at the home of FNM chairman Darron Cash, when police officers went to his home and took his computer laptop and smartphone as part of an ongoing investigation into sensitive leakage of information at the Bank of the Bahamas.
The managers at that Bahamian-owned bank are prominent PLPs. It came as no surprise to the Whistleblower when he read reports of Cash's wife being placed on administrative leave.
Some PLPs have already rendered judgment on Mrs Cash. The PLP has all the earmarks of a dictatorship. It looks like the party is now targeting its political rivals and is silencing its most vocal critics.
And these are the very people who labeled Hubert Ingraham a dictator. Well at least Ingraham opened the airwaves and gave plenty latitude to the media. The media wasn't targeted as it is today by the PLP. I hope Bahamians see these people for who they truly are.
- The Whistleblower
The membership at New Covenant Baptist Church have reason to be in a celebratory mood as five months prior to the retirement on Sunday, November 18 of their senior pastor, Bishop Simeon Hall, the church, 30 years after its establishment is debt free.
Bishop Hall and the membership burned the bank's mortgage deed during a service on Sunday, May 6 at the church. It took a little over 20 years for New Covenant Baptist Church to settle its debt.
Being able to burn the piece of paper that showed the church was indebted to the bank was a joy for Bishop Hall. The Baptist minister said it meant a lot to him to see the church he founded be debt free just five months shy of his 30th anniversary as senior pastor of the church.
"We have really come far from where we started from and I think being debt free is a major milestone for us," said Bishop Hall. "We are now at a level of physical development that is adequate for our needs and those of our community and I don't foresee the church needing another mortgage for further enhancement for years to come."
With mortgage payments out of the way, Bishop Hall hopes to see the church grow beyond its four walls.
"New Covenant has been on the cutting edge of evangelistic and social outreach throughout its 30-year history [and] I am pleased that the next administration will be free from the burden of debt and they will be much more flexible in their ability to conduct many more outreach ministries for the community. Being debt free really unties the church's hands from not being able to do as many things as it may want, so I am glad that this has occurred while I was still around to appreciate it," he said.
Bishop Hall hopes the church's new status will aid the incoming church leaders in the upward and outward development of pre-existing ministries and encourage the creation of new ones in the church.
He said reaching out and touching members of the community should be the only priority New Covenant members now have because they don't have to worry about paying a mortgage.
The church sits on two-and-a-half acres on Independence Drive and is valued at $3.5 million.
Over the years the structure was expanded to include an auditorium that has the capacity to seat 1,200 persons, an educational facility with nine classrooms, a youth center and a computer laboratory.
A crime scene officer yesterday denied that he manipulated images of last year's smash-and-grab robbery at the John Bull Rolex Boutique on Bay Street with photo editing software.
David Collins, Jasper Curry and Jonathan Armbrister stand accused of the May 22 hold-up in which a masked man smashed a display case with a hammer and took 12 luxury watches, with a cumulative value of $395,360.
Detective Constable 2290 Bruce Chisholm, who photographed the crime scene with a digital camera, also rejected a suggestion by defense lawyer Geoffrey Farquharson, who appears for Collins, that the images could be altered.
While using an image from the CD to which the crime scene images were burned, Farquharson changed the color of a man's pants from white to black while using the Paint program on his laptop.
Despite this, Chisholm maintained that the images could only be changed on the computer, but the alterations would not be reflected on the CD or prints of the images.
Farquharson said this was not the case. At this point, prosecutor Sandra Dee Gardiner interjected, asking, "Is counsel giving evidence?"
Farquharson also questioned Chisholm about why he did not photograph the five fingerprints he said he found on the store's glass showcase before he lifted them.
Chisholm explained that the reflection from the flash on the glass would have made it difficult to photograph the prints.
Farquharson suggested that there was nothing to prove that the prints were really lifted from the crime scene and not from a desk in the interview room at the Central Detective Unit.
Chisholm agreed he could not prove where the prints were lifted from.
Chisholm continues his evidence today. He is the first witness to be called in the case since it began on May 9.
Legal arguments have protracted the trial, which was scheduled to last two weeks.
Chisholm first took the stand on March 14, but his evidence was interrupted by challenges to the admissibility of the photos on CD.
Yesterday, the court allowed the images into evidence. However, the prosecution did not have a projector so the images could be viewed on a large screen.
As a result, Chisholm walked around with a laptop to show the images to the judge, lawyers and the jury.
Gardiner said that a projector was supposed to be in court and she would not make any excuses for its absence.
Justice Indra Charles said: "I hope this doesn't happen again, Ms Gardiner. Please don't let it happen again."
Jomo Campbell appears for Curry and Jerone Roberts appears for Armbrister.
THE BAHAMAS Pharmacy Council's chairman last night told Tribune Business that the case which saw a Bahamas pharmacist paid $4,000 a month for the use of his company's name and licence to export illegal prescription drugs into the US is "unlikely to occur" under current laws.
Barbara Henderson, responding to this newspaper's report yesterday, said the Pharmacy Act 2009 was developed "in part as a response to this case" and she added that the Council was seeking to further strengthen laws on the import/export of pharmaceutical products in the Bahamas.
A new technology offering by a computer solutions company could create massive savings for Bahamian businesses of up to 80 percent.
Jaime Cabrera, an engineer with VMWare, said the product suite can cut costs in what businesses spend typically technology-wise, adding that the software is more user and eco-friendly.
"In terms of power consumption, businesses can save between 40 and 50 percent and in terms of hardware it can create up to 80 percent in savings," Cabrera said. "This solution will reduce costs at the data center level so the users are going to be working in a more efficient way and also provides a green alternative."
Cabrera's comments came after his presentation of the technology during a seminar at the British Colonial Hilton on Tuesday hosted by Lignum Technologies. The one-day event was attended by a number of individuals in the Information Technology (IT) from various sectors. He said businesses spend a lot of money in terms of power consumption and a considerable amount technology-wise, and having a less expensive but efficient option will work financially for them.
The product suite, in a nutshell, will create a more convenient way for technology departments to manage its data centers and enable them to be more versatile in performing tasks and processes. It also provides disaster recovery business continuity, which Cabrera said is a vital component for financial institutions.
He also mentioned that Atlantis currently utilizes the technology along with several financial institutions, and some other entities have shown interest in it as well.
"Some companies and institutions have expressed interest in our products such as the College of the Bahamas," Cabrera said. "They are interested in virtualizing desktops and they are going to be saving some money and providing better service to students. A bank has approached us as well and we look forward to providing our solutions to them."
Cabrera added that the Bahamian government would greatly benefit from transitioning to VMWare, saying the offering of a cost-efficient option - costing no more that $1 million - and green technology would appeal to them.
"Eventually the government is going to go with this because at the end of the day the government has expressed their interest and supports the idea of being green, so our technology is going to be the one providing more savings and at the same time friendly with the environment.
"I look forward to meeting with the government and a representative here, and sit down and have a workshop and go through all the values and benefits that we can provide to them."
Police are seeing an increase in electronic crime, and now a top accountant is urging companies to budget for white collar crimes as they would bad debt.
Grant Thornton's Kendrick Christie is urging all businesses to calculate realistic estimates of yearly fraud in its books going forward as a way to better prepare the company for such cases.
"In the case of The Bahamas, white collar crime has decreased in some categories," he told Guardian Business. "But a lot more people are out of work [and] the unemployment rate is very high and has affected some instances of this type of crime.
"Also a number of them are being unreported or a lot of businesses are trying to s ...