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News Article
'Ace' plays high stakes card in tribute to his old friend

Broadcaster Anthony "Ace" Newbold pulled no punches as he paid tribute last week to Edmund Spencer Moxey, his friend of 30 years, whose dream for his people was cruelly smashed by his political colleagues in 1987.

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News Article
Politics, diplomacy and the church

A U.S. Embassy official claimed in a cable penned in 2003 that Bishop Neil C. Ellis -- who is repeatedly described in diplomatic documents as Perry Christie's spiritual adviser -- remarked that the then prime minister was not a "true man of God" although he was trying to be religious.
The American also wrote that at a meeting with Ellis at his Mount Tabor Baptist Church, he also remarked that Hubert Ingraham, at the time former prime minister, was definitely "not a man of God" even if he does attend church.
When we sat down with Ellis a few days ago at Mount Tabor to discuss the cables that mentioned his name, Ellis denied most of the claims documented by U.S. diplomats.
But it is the claim regarding his purported comment on Christie and Ingraham's spirituality that he seemed most taken aback by.
"I don't qualify to determine who is a man of God and who is not a man of God," he told The Nassau Guardian.
"...For me to say I think Christie is a pretender would be very hypocritical of me because I've always said publicly and I would say again, I believe Perry Christie is one of the greatest humanitarians I've ever met."
A read of at least two cables shows that while Ellis was growing his church, American diplomats were placing the spotlight on him and his relationship with Christie in a major way.
"Quite a bit of it surprises me," said Ellis, when asked about what his general impression was of what the Americans attributed to him.
According to the cables, obtained by The Nassau Guardian through WikiLeaks, despite not being a member of the government, Ellis wielded considerable influence in the Christie administration, as did businessman Franklyn Wilson.
One of the cables, which was classified by then Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Witajewksi, said,  "Ellis openly uses his pulpit in one of Nassau's largest and fastest growing churches to advance the PLP's political agenda, and by allying himself so closely with Christie, has surpassed many of his more established (and perhaps more respectable) religious brethren in influence."
The name at the end of that particular cable is Richard Blankenship, who at the time was United States ambassador to The Bahamas.
Ellis told The Guardian he was not well liked by Blankenship because he had made a statement about the involvement of diplomats in the local affairs of a country.
He said it arouses curiosity that the Americans want to know everything that is happening on every level in the Bahamas.
 
'A CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE'
 
The Americans documented two meetings they say they had with Ellis at his church in Pinewood Gardens.
Ellis told The Nassau Guardian he recalled at least one of those meetings, but he remembered it being very informal with no detailed discussion about Christie or Ingraham.
According to one of the cables, on December 2, 2003, a U.S. diplomat paid a courtesy call on Ellis, described as "hard to pin down" and "charismatic".
"During the nearly two-hour meeting, Ellis described the enterprise his parish has become," the cable said.
"He also outlined his role as the local Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, of Bahamian politics -- the one visit that all aspiring politicians must make in order to confirm their legitimacy."
Ellis totally dismissed this claim when he spoke with The Nassau Guardian.
"Why would any sensible, logically thinking person make a statement like that?" he asked
The cable added: "Ellis has come far, from a humble background, mentored and supported by prominent businessman Frankie Wilson, with whom he maintains a close personal and business relationship."
The American diplomat wrote in 2003 that conventional wisdom holds that Ingraham had sealed his fate by displaying arrogance toward the religious leadership while he was prime minister.
"The electorate of the Bahamas is devout, and the church leaders refused to remain silent after the former PM had expressed views antithetical to religious conservatives, such as welcoming to port a cruise liner catering to gay clientele and advocating for constitutional reform targeted toward improving women's rights," the diplomat also wrote.
According to the diplomat who wrote the cable on the heels of the December 2, 2002 meeting, Ellis described "a strange ritual" whereby Christie had sought a meeting with him over a several week period as he was gearing up for the 2002 election campaign.
The cable said: "Ellis kept rebuffing [Christie's] request, offering him only a 10 minute slot.
"Finally, however, Ellis offered [Christie] the opportunity to travel with him on a religious speaking tour in the U.S., promising that if [Christie] attended three of his sermons, he would be available to counsel  [Christie] throughout the tour.
"Thus, the two men spent many intense hours together, during which time Ellis looked into [Christie's] soul and concluded that [Christie] has religious inclinations, but is 'not yet there'."
But Ellis said this could not be further from the truth.
"I can't look into a person's soul," he told The Nassau Guardian.  "I'm not the savior of the world.  Jesus is."
The cable said though Christie was not one of Ellis' regular parishioners, since the 2002 election, he had attended from time to time, as did all but three cabinet ministers.
An embassy official said in another cable after reportedly meeting with Ellis in late May 2002 that the bishop had expressed his desire for closer relations with the embassy, bemoaned his treatment in the press and offered a fascinating, intimate account of how he came to publicly endorse Christie in the last election.
The official said that as Wilson did in a separate meeting, Ellis unconvincingly denied having or wanting any real influence.  Both men were described as "powerbrokers" as it regards the PLP -- a claim Ellis laughed at as he denied it to the Guardian.
The embassy official described Ellis as one of the Bahamas' most controversial figures.
The cable said:  "He publicly endorsed Perry Christie during the 2002 campaign and reportedly told his congregation from the pulpit during a religious service that they must support Christie if they wished to remain members of his church."
The diplomat also wrote that Ellis also held a huge religious revival featuring a renowned U.S. evangelist that was a magnet for criticism about the reported "greediness" of its fundraising appeal.
"Establishment religious figures now sometimes preface fund-raising remarks by noting that the funds 'will not be used to build a vacation house in Bimini' to distinguish themselves from the self-proclaimed bishop," the cable said.
"The press hounds him constantly about his flamboyant personal lifestyle and open political preferences.
"Ellis was another protégé of (the late former prime minister) Sir Lynden Pindling, who identified him as a promising young man growing up on the small island of Bimini and brought him to Nassau to complete his education."
The diplomat wrote that Ellis is affiliated with the Full Gospel Baptist Church headquartered in New Orleans, and is its "bishop" for international churches, theoretically having all Full Gospel Baptist churches in The Bahamas under his leadership.
"Prime Minister Christie has openly referred to Ellis as his spiritual adviser, and many Bahamians assume that his influence runs deep within the administration," the cable said.
 
ENDORSING CHRISTIE
 
In the cable that came out of the May 2002 meeting with Bishop Ellis, the diplomat goes into amazing details about what was allegedly observed.
For instance, the cable said the embassy official was met by the first of Ellis' personal assistants upon arrival, and was passed on to the second, who entertained him while Ellis finished a meeting with his seven associate pastors.
According to the cable, Ellis then received the official in his "nicely appointed, bordering on lavish, but not quite passing over into poor taste, office."
"He was dressed in a loud magenta clerical shirt with gold and diamond cufflinks, a thick gold chain, several large gold rings and a gold Rolex watch," the embassy official wrote.
"Ellis is a thin, energetic man of middling height, in his early 40s.  He is married and has three adopted daughters." (Ellis said he does not have three adopted daughters).
Ellis also strongly denied the American diplomat's characterization of him.
In fact, he said he never owned a Rolex watch or diamond cufflinks in his life.
"Anybody who knows me knows that I am not given to much jewelry," added Ellis, now 50.
When The Guardian visited him, he was wearing his gold bishop's cross around his neck, his wedding band and a wristwatch (definitely not a Rolex).
In fact, Ellis said he shops for $10 watches at Bijoux Terner in the Atlanta airport and has one watch that is a little more expensive that was a gift from someone in the ministry.
Ellis said he wears his bishop's ring only at special services -- a fact later confirmed separately by his associate pastors and assistant who had not been privy to his earlier discussion with The Guardian.
They all said they have never seen the bishop with any Rolex watches and that he barely wears jewelry.
The cable alleges that Ellis described "the remarkable story about how he came to endorse Perry Christie in the 2002 elections."
The diplomat wrote:  "According to Ellis, he barely knew Christie before the run up to the 2002 election.
"After that time, he says Christie began seeking an appointment with him, saying he needed to speak with him for several hours.
"Ellis says that he kept putting Christie off, both because he didn't have that time to spare and because he had a bad initial impression of him."
According to the cable, Ellis said this bad opinion dated from the PLP leadership battle between Christie and Dr. Bernard Nottage.
"Nottage was a friend and former congregation member of Ellis and harbored a lot of ill will toward Christie because of his loss," the diplomat wrote.
"Christie was persistent in his pursuit of Ellis, whose church membership has definite PLP leanings."
The cable added:  "Finally, according to Ellis, he agreed to take Christie along with him on an evangelical trip to the U.S., promising that if Christie attended all the services he preached at, Ellis would give him the time in between to listen to his appeal.
"Ellis said that when given the opportunity, Christie and Ellis spoke for 13 hours straight, about both secular and spiritual matters and that Ellis progressively became more convinced that Christie had been 'sent by God' to lead the Bahamas.
"The meeting ended, according to Ellis, in a scene reminiscent of the Biblical story of Samuel's anointing of Saul, with Christie coming around the table they were seated at, going to his knees and requesting a blessing from Bishop Ellis.
"At the time, Ellis reported, the spirit came upon him and told him that he had to endorse Christie."
The cable also said:  "Ellis, on the one hand, denied having or wanting any political influence with Christie, but on the other hand went to great lengths to explain how close their relationship is and how often Christie calls on him for spiritual guidance.
"For example, Ellis recounted that Christie had presented him with the names of his Cabinet nominees before they were announced and asked him to pray over them and give his opinion."
But Ellis told The Guardian that the official's characterization of these events is "totally false".
"First of all, I can't say I had a bad impression of Mr. Christie before I met him," Ellis said.
"But it is true I didn't know him that well (prior to 2002).  All I knew of him was his public life.
"As it relates to Mr. Christie seeking my anointing, that is totally false.  I don't remember him ever saying that to me and I don't remember saying that to anybody."
Ellis said it is true that Christie traveled with him more than once.
"The first trip he attended with me, he said he just wanted to talk with me and spend a little time with me," the bishop said.
"My office let him know what my schedule was and when they told him of a particular trip that was going on he asked if he could go and I had no objections because people go on trips with me from time to time.
"I did say to him since he was a politician that I would prefer him not to travel alone with me, so he brought two of his other colleagues with him."
Ellis said the trip was to Atlanta.  He also recalled another occasion where Christie traveled with him to Baltimore, Maryland.
"I don't see that as an unusual situation," he said of the trips.
Ellis also suggested it was laughable to write that he spoke to Christie for 13 hours straight.
"Just think about that," he said.
"I do know that in the 2002 election, I was very up front with my support for Mr. Christie.  I don't believe that if you have a conviction you have to be secretive about it.
"...I felt at that time this was the man to lead our country and I was proven to be right at the time.
"To say he was sent by God to lead the country, I don't know if any of us could be that bold."
Ellis also said he had no recollection of Christie ever getting on his knees to be anointed by him.
"If the person (the embassy official) wasn't even clear about what I was wearing, they were putting things on me that were not on my person, then I don't how much more attention to pay to anything that was said," he said.
 
MULTIPLE ATTACKS
 
According to the May 2002 cable, Ellis claimed that ever since Mount Tabor started to grow and he began to be seen as a successful pastor, he has come under attack by some people, including other pastors, who are jealous of his success.
As a result, Ellis claims he has been unfairly vilified in the press, particularly the scandal-mongering tabloid The Punch, the diplomat wrote.
"Ellis says that during one stretch The Punch printed negative articles about him in 95 consecutive editions.
"...In addition, Ellis has received heavy criticism for the large salary he draws (reportedly a tax-free $180,000 a year), and his penchant for luxurious living.
"Recently, attention has focused on the impressive house he is building for himself in one of Nassau's more exclusive neighborhoods, reportedly costing $1 million.
"Ellis claimed that the stories were exaggerated, but made no excuses for his lifestyle, implying it was only fitting for the pastor of such a large and thriving church."
Again rejecting how he was characterized by the diplomat, Ellis told The Nassau Guardian, "I understand the role I am in...I'm always up for public scrutiny.
"I try to take it gracefully.  I've never responded to any attacks in the media...When you're in the public's eye and when you're in public life you have to be open to public scrutiny."
The diplomat wrote in 2002, "As a consequence of his ongoing bad press, Ellis has vowed not to respond to any of the allegations against him.
"Doing so, he said, just legitimizes those allegations and gives them more life.  Many in his congregation, he says, have disagreed with this policy and urge him to publicly lash out at his critics, which he admits is tempting, but he continues to maintain his silence, preferring to let the criticism pass."
Ellis told the Guardian he has not collected a salary from Mount Tabor in 17 years.
"I give my services to Mount Tabor free of charge," he said.
He said he earns money from speaking engagements, books and other products he offers.
"If Mount Tabor was paying me $180,000 I wouldn't be going home," he said with a laugh.
He stressed also that he never told his congregation to vote PLP or leave the church.
Ellis insists that the recording to this effect is a compilation of several sermons he delivered that were doctored by critics and sent to the media.
He said Christie never asked him to be his spiritual adviser and he never regarded himself as such.
Asked by The Nassau Guardian if he would be prepared to endorse Christie in the next general election, Ellis said it was not something he wished to discuss publicly as yet.
"Mr. Christie and I shared a wonderful relationship leading up to the (2002) election and thereafter," he added.
"I don't claim to have been any closer to him than any others."
Ellis stressed that he has respect for all of the country's leaders and noted that he was a part of a group of pastors who met with Ingraham last year to discuss important matters.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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News Article
Two thumbs up to My Grandma's Coffee Cakes of New England

You never know who you're going to meet just hanging out in The Bahamas... Now let me be absolutely clear here, I did not actually meet Bob Katz, the president of My Grandma's Coffee Cakes of New England, but I did speak with him over the telephone, after a conversation he had with my husband. That conversation led to me speaking with Mr. Katz, and him promising to FedEx me some of his products. Not knowing what to expect imagine my shock and surprise when two huge boxes were delivered to my office, shipped from Boston, Massachusetts, packed with a variety of My Grandma's of New England Coffee Cakes for me to try -- Granny Smith Apple Coffee Cake, Patriot Coffee Cake, Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake, Cinnamon Coffee Cake without nuts, Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake and Ted Williams Chocolate Cake. There were so many varieties (and I realized that it was just a sampling of their products) that I closed that box right back up, shoved it to the side and did my best to forget about them. After all, the last time I had touched a coffee cake was probably back in the 1980s when they were quite popular.To be honest, I let those cakes sit for a few days, because it was just a bit overwhelming to open that box to see the amount of cake that Mr. Katz had shipped -- five large (one 10-inch, 3.1 pound cake serves 20-26 people), four small (one eight-inch 1.75 pound cake serves 10-14 people) and three boxes of individually wrapped mini cakes (each box had nine mini cakes). So imagine how overwhelming that was to see that many cakes (and my head spun when I thought about the calories). But Mr. Katz had spoken so highly of his product that started a sensation in 1990 with Grandma Esther Cluck's authentic old world family recipe, that started in a 250-square foot bakery, to a company that today bakes many varieties by hand six days a week. They also offer Banana Walnut Cake, Golden Raspberry, Cappucino, Lemon Poppy, Cape Cod Cranberry and Chocolate Chip Walnut coffee cake flavors, for a total of 12 flavors to suit every taste bud.It's a cake that Mr. Katz is proud to boast has been served at the Plaza Hotel in New York City's Tea Room, The Vatican, Major League All-Star Game, The Ryder Cup and the U.S. Tennis Open. His cake has also been featured on Oprah's O List, Food Network's "Roker on the Road", NBC's "The TODAY Show" and was an addition to the 2011 News and Documentary Emmy Gift Bags. So of course I had to give them a try.As Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake is a classic flavor, that was the first one that I opted to dig into. It was moist and delicious and not overly flavored with cinnamon. Even my husband who is a take it or leave it kind of sweets guy gave it a thumbs up.Perusing the flavors we both decided that the Granny Smith Apple Cake had to be taste-tested next. It was like an epiphany, with a layer of apples in the middle and on top of the cake... I can say it was absolutely divine. It was rich, buttery and the perfect accompaniment to a soothing latte. It was swoon-worthy and had me going back for seconds and thirds. I even heated up the Granny Smith Apple Cake up with a scoop of our respective favorite ice cream flavors on the side and it was like I had died and gone to heaven. After three slices of the apple cake, I realized that I had to share the goodness around (or suffer the fate of looking like the Goodyear Blimp times two), so share I did. A few days later I asked some of the people to share their thoughts with me to share with you.
"The Cinnamon Coffee Cake was in one word 'yum', it was great. I could eat a whole cake with a few glasses of milk."
-- Trevor Adderley Jr., 15
The Cinnamon Walnut Mini Coffee Cake was delightful and the taste of the toasted nuts really did it for me. The cake was filled with flavor. I also had the Granny Smith Apple Coffee Cake -- now this cake was the cake of cakes. It was everything you would look for in a cake. It was sweet, but not too sweet, moist, with an awesome flavor. The best part was the thin sliced apples on the top that were soft, yet still had a little crunch to them. Overall, it was a taste of nostalgia. It took me to a dream of sitting on the porch of a cottage sipping tea at brunch and reminiscing with a view of only fields of grass ahead.
-- Latoya Petti, 30
"Love the flavor of the Cinnamon Walnut. It's not too sweet, just enough punch."
-- Cassie Benoit, 29
"I tasted the pumpkin and cinnamon coffee cakes from My Grandma's of New England and thought they were very tasty. What I liked most was the moist texture of the cake coupled with the burst of flavor from the swirl of the cinnamon that was surprisingly not too sweet. The pumpkin was moist as well, but I think could have had a stronger spice flavor... maybe more cinnamon and pumpkin spice in the swirl would have added to it."
-- Tonya Adderley, 41
"The Cinnamon Walnut Cake Without Nuts was very moist with a nice flavor, but I thought there was too much sugar on top though."
-- Fellesia Davis, 19
"I had the Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake and that was delightful. It was really good."
-- Chelsea Tynes, 13
"Had the Cinnamon Walnut ... ooh that's good."
-- Ed Berg, 28
By the way, Mr. Katz informed me that My Grandma's Coffee Cakes of New England will FedEx their delicious kosher offerings right to your doorstep. You can visit their site or email him at rkatz@mygrandma.com or call at 617-365-9902. Actually I was explaining all of this to my mother as we shopped at Super Value on Cable Beach, I looked to my left, and surprise, surprise, right there in the frozen food case (where they stock specialty frozen items and the like) were a couple of flavors from My Grandma's Coffee Cakes of New England (and I hadn't even noticed them before then). The store had about five of the 12 flavors, and they were all small cakes as opposed to the large, so just in case you're in for a delicious treat you do have options -- you can order directly from Mr. Katz. They will bake a cake fresh for you for the next day and send it out comfortably dressed for the journey. Or you can trot down to Super Value and purchase one out of the frozen food case, thaw and enjoy. The cake slices best with a sharp knife when it's been chilled. The shelf life for My Grandma's Coffee Cakes of New England is 12 months in the freezer or 12 days un-refrigerated. All cakes come in a reusable freezer bag. They also offer lower fat versions and all their cakes can be made in lower fat version, except for the Ted Williams All-Star Chocolate. All cakes can also be baked without walnuts.

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News Article
Calzaghe dominates Jones in unanimous decision video
Calzaghe dominates Jones in unanimous decision (video)

Joe Calzaghe overcame a first-round knockdown to beat Roy Jones Jr. in a unanimous decision Saturday night. The Welshman said this would be his final bout

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News Article
Dennis Dames: Autopsy Report on the Recent Gambling Referendum in The Bahamas

Dear Editor,

The
so called gambling referendum is history, and a resounding no - is the
order of the day.  Punch drunk and shell shocked is the yes crew - as
they ridicule the opponents of web shop gaming, and a national lottery.

Who
called the game in the first instance, and why were they so persuaded
that yes to their questions of legitimizing web shop gaming, and
instituting a national lottery would have prevailed at the end of the
day?

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News Article
Who are they fooling

Dear Editor,

Who do our government leaders think they are fooling? They say to us that if we - the
Bahamian people - would give them, on January 28, 2013, the mandate to demand that gambling remains an illegal operation they would abide by that directive.
They say - that with all the energy and willpower and manpower they could muster - they would without any delay execute an anti-gambling crusade in this nation. They say they would immediately impose that anti-gambling law.
Here is how this same truth is reinforced in the editorial of The Nassau Guardian of November, 19, 2012: "The stakes are high. The prime minister has said that he will shut down the web shops, if the Bahamians vote no. Many Bahamians think that he is joking regarding this promise."
Government leaders promise, in effect, that they would, if given the power to do so by the people, round-up, arrest, and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, even to the extent of imprisoning or fining or both, all such lawbreakers.
They promise that they would shut down every operation that attempts to foster illegal gambling endeavors: web shops, numbers houses, lotto outlets (all such except, of course, their cherished, well - protected casino operations).
That is what we hear them say - with emotional fervor and politically persuasive jargon.
Now, who do they think they are fooling?
Well, here is the ugly truth as it now stands, that we must all face up to. There is a law - now, this very minute - as I write now and as you read this document, which makes all gambling activities in the entire Commonwealth of The Bahamas illegal (except for the casino operations which have been granted temporary exemptions from the law).
At this very moment, government leaders, and all or any of their law enforcement agencies do not need one single citizen's vote to create that law or to execute it. It remains valid law on the books. It needs only obedience and submission to its present demands to be effective.
Yet, these same leaders are now, at this moment, not making any sincere effort to see that this presently existing anti-gambling law is upheld.
Quite to the contrary, they have given comfort to lawbreakers, even allowing them to advertise glamourously their criminal operations publicly without one single show of disapproval or resistance.
On Monday, December 3, 2012, in The Punch "Off the Political Cuff" under the byline "Web Shops must be careful not to battle the Church", the author made this assessment: "The prime minister and the PLP government have said from the outset they have 'no horse in the race', and while that is a noble approach to the situation it is well known that the present government in office for only a matter of months would not like to see the referendum fail."
From what source do you think the government authorities would suddenly and miraculously get the needed leadership courage, the united resolve, the clear conscience, the strong conviction or the moral backbone, or as we say in common language the "guts", to do what they know they must and should have been doing for a long time? Just because citizens in a referendum vote said no to gambling?
Who do you think they are fooling? Well, I say if these leaders are truthful and sincere about these statements then let them demonstrate it this very day; release that courage and just resolve, and take the necessary lawful posture now. Send out the riot squads and round up all they know are guilty lawbreakers.
If they could find it after January 28, 2013 - just days away - then why not pull it out of the reservoir now, when they already have a no vote.
Who do you think they are fooling?
Who but the least discerning can miss the very plain truth that the government leaders want the vote to be yes. They have made no attempt to make it appear otherwise and by various means are themselves promoting the yes vote.
With many references to the referendum, they plead added reasons, why a no vote would destabilize the economy, since they advocate that at least 3,000 jobs would be in jeopardy if a no vote ensues.
Government leaders are already calculating the added dollars brought in to the Public Treasury - when the yes vote comes in. What a whitewash of true democracy.
Here is a good example: I sat with hundreds of others - friends, family and well-wishers - to witness the passing of the baton from retiring Bishop Simeon Hall to his youthful successor. During that very inspiring three hours Dr. Timothy Stewart, the main speaker, delivered a well-crafted sermon stating most convincingly why Bahamians must not vote to make gambling legal. I have never heard him in better form.
However, when I watched the ZNS television newscast of that impressive service from New Covenant Baptist Church, all I heard and saw was the leader of the opposition, the prime minister and Bishop Simeon Hall.
Not only was there not even one excerpt from Pastor Timothy's 45-minute passionate sermon, but as far as I am aware, there was no reference to his name, even though he was the featured speaker for the occasion. The no vote advocate must not be given fair coverage. I am still alarmed at such a biased media coverage display of such a very historic happening in our church life.
I have always held a very high regard for Loftus Roker, even since the early fifties when we were teachers together. But that level escalated greatly when I read his very honest appraisal of our present national decline. I share wholeheartedly his evaluation that "legalizing gambling would be a negative move for The Bahamas 40 years after independence".
How brutally brunt was his evaluation of how low we have fallen when he so sincerely stated: "If he is doing something that is illegal now and is still illegal today, because nothing has changed and you know who he is... it is unbelievable what we have come to in The Bahamas, and I am saying then it appears to be no law and order in the country."
How low we have fallen. What depths of poor governance and base principles of life we are so boldly showcasing. I lament with the ancient prophet Israel and apply it to my own country The Bahamas: "Hear this solemn sermon of truthful warning: 'Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light; and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter" (Isa 5:20 (N.I.V.).

- Rex Major

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News Article
Cash denies ties to BOB leak

Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Darron Cash said yesterday there is not a "snowball's chance in hell" that he is somehow behind the alleged leak of confidential information at the Bank of The Bahamas.
On Thursday, three police officers showed up at his Cable Beach home and seized two laptops and a smartphone as part of an ongoing probe into the leak.
"My wife, whose name they have taken through the doggone mud, is also a professional," said Cash, who was a guest on Star 106.5 FM radio show "Jeffrey" with host Jeffrey Lloyd.
"She works at the Bank of The Bahamas in human resources. She never had access to the kind of information that was released to the public -- never and never would.
"So explain to me how the managing director of the bank, the board of directors of the bank, the auditors of the bank, the ministers who had access to the information, have their personal computers been seized? Have their cell phones been seized?"
Seemingly angered by the ordeal, Cash said there is no doubt in his mind that he was targeted because of politics.
"I don't want (Prime Minister) Perry Christie...or anyone else in that regime to judge me by their undecorated standards," he said.
"I never have and never will disclose private and confidential information."
The matter involving Bank of The Bahamas grabbed national attention several months ago after The Punch reported a series of allegations regarding loans from the bank.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson told The Nassau Guardian yesterday that police acted after they received a complaint from the bank.
But Ferguson said he could not reveal anything about the ongoing investigation.
Cash said yesterday that even before those articles were published in The Punch people had expressed concerns about activities at the bank.
He said the FNM was merely doing what a responsible opposition should do when it called for an investigation.
Earlier this year, Cash called for the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Assembly to "scrutinize the extent to which public funds, including those of the National Insurance Board, are at risk with BOB".
Cash said yesterday he issued those statements because he and others in the FNM had gotten accounts of "where the bodies were buried and said it is time for the government to use its offices to determine whether the information was fact or fiction".
Christie, who is also minister of finance, assured the public earlier in the year that "there need be no fear or concern" relating to the bank.
"The bank's capital position and other fundamentals remain strong," Christie said in a statement.
FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis also defended Cash.
On Thursday night, he accused the government of directing the police to carry out a "political witch-hunt" on Cash because of his recent critique of the bank.
"The FNM will not stand for the apparent political assault on its national chairman, which is purely a smoke screen and deflection away from the very real, pressing and serious issue and chronic problems facing our nation," Minnis said.
Attorney Carl Bethel, who represents Cash, told The Guardian that he filed a notice of originating motion in the Supreme Court , which will begin the process of determining whether the police followed lawful protocol in the execution of their duties.

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News Article
Another rivalry would excite professional boxing scene

There is nothing better than a good rivalry to excite boxing fans.
Last year at a boxing show staged at the Nassau Stadium, Ryan "Big Youth" McKenzie tossed a bold challenge right at former Commonwealth super middleweight champion Jermain Mackey. Not content with the loud shouting match, separated by seats and rows, McKenzie went over to where Mackey was seated and confidently predicted he would be the knockout winner if the match could be made.
Mackey did not back down. They did not come to blows but it was evident that a fire was ignited. Spectators, with great interest, watched and listened to the two pugilists. In general there is a great deal of curiosity to see a Mackey/McKenzie bout. It was clear on that occasion to observers that the incident had left the two boxers unsettled, as indicated previously in this space. More than likely, they will clash in the ring. If they don't, both will no doubt wonder for the rest of their lives about a possible outcome.
Boxing rivalries have sparked interest throughout the history of the sport in this country. Old boxing fans still talk about Battling Douglas' bouts with Stoney Godet and Iron Baby. Then there is Leonard "Boston Blackie" Miller. He had memorable matches with Bert Perry and Baby Boy Rolle. Ray Minus Sr. and Cassius Moss packed the Nassau Stadium a couple of times.
Now, McKenzie and Mackey are poised to add their names to the list. A bout between the two would be a classic, and no doubt leave spectators with a thirst for more. McKenzie, the current light heavyweight champion of The Bahamas, would go up against Mackey, a comfortable super middleweight. The super middleweight maximum pounds limit is 168 and it's 175 for the light heavyweight class. McKenzie said repeatedly during the aforementioned
verbal altercation that he would come down in weight for Mackey.
With a bit of a height advantage and punching power, McKenzie would present a real challenge for Mackey who has not fought since 2009. However, the former Caribbean and Commonwealth king has proven his toughness in the ring.
He was a courageous and difficult opponent on his way to the Commonwealth crown. He routinely wore down opponents. This is where he will be dangerous for McKenzie who in early bouts displayed a tendency to fade. He has gained a world of confidence though over the last two years.
This would be one of those dream matches for a promoter. Once sufficiently advertised, Mackey and McKenzie would draw a big crowd. Mackey is working closely on his return to the ring with former boxer turned promoter Elkeaner Saunders.
McKenzie, on the other hand, has a close relationship with Meacher Major who now fights out of the Major Boxing and Entertainment Promotions camp. The two groups could join forces for this potential blockbuster show. I believe that once it is promoted properly, the show would be enormously successful.
At this point, despite Mackey's experience, I would give the 9-0 McKenzie a slight edge. Mackey had started to look a bit worn out prior to his two successive knockout defeats at the hands of Canadian Adonis Stevenson and Kirt Sinnette of Trinidad & Tobago, respectively in 2009. He looks quite fresh these days and alert, but the jury is still out on him. If the promoters can get together for the bout, Mackey would need to be in top condition.
McKenzie longs for the kind of recognition Mackey once had... and more. A McKenzie/Mackey match could be one for the ages.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at fredericksturrup@gmail.com)

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News Article
Bank of Bahamas says no politics in loan grants

Recent media reports suggesting political favoritism or political involvement in the granting of loans by Bank of The Bahamas are "simply untrue", the bank said in a statement on Friday.
"Successive governments, to their credit, have systematically avoided any involvement in credit policies or the granting of credit," the statement said.
"Further, virtually all of the loans involving so-called political persons that have been the subject of recent stories in the media were made in the period 2008-2010 when these persons were not even in government.
"Indeed since 2011 there have been very few new commercial relationships established at all, the bank having decided instead to concentrate on potentially more profitable areas of the retail banking market. The time periods just mentioned are significant therefore in dispelling the idea that politics played a role in the granting of loans."
BOB was responding to The Punch, which claimed to list several political figures' loan information at the bank.
The bank said the loans made were not personal but commercial loans "in which certain political figures may have been interested as investors or shareholders".
BOB added that the bank operates on principles and standards and after remaining silent on the issue, felt it needed to set the record straight.
"Recent media reports suggesting excessive unsecured lending practices are simply untrue. In virtually all cases, our loans are more than adequately secured," the statement said.
"In any event, the loans in question, although not accurately reported, represent a very small fraction of the bank's overall loan portfolio and do not in any way constitute a material risk to the overall health and soundness of The Bank of The Bahamas."
BOB said it registered its first loss last year, a loss of $3.5 million, after 20 consecutive years of profitability.
"In this regard, however, the bank's experience was hardly unique," the statement said.
"Indeed another clearing bank just recently posted a sizeable loss for the same period -- again the first loss of its kind. Others, it should be remembered, recorded losses in recent years.
"The point is that these are challenging times for banks in The Bahamas. However, The Bank of The Bahamas, in common with all the other clearing banks, has proactively taken the necessary steps to ensure that it is robustly positioned to deal with the challenges that we all currently face."
The bank said it has achieved tremendous success over the years and is well poised for a return to profitability
The statement said, "The bank is robustly capitalized exceeding Central Bank requirements and international banking norms. Through a combination of profit retention and preference share issuances, the bank grew its total equity from $17 million to its present level of $140 million.
"With this level of capital, the bank has a risk weighted capital ratio of almost 22 percent which is consistent with the averages of other clearing banks and well above the range of 14 percent to 17 percent required by The Central Bank of The Bahamas."
BOB said an investigation is ongoing into the source of the leaked confidential information. It said that internal steps have been taken to prevent future breaches.

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News Article
Grenade attack on newspaper

A LIVE hand grenade was thrown through the front door of Punch Publications, prompting an emergency lockdown of Farrington Road until the bomb squad could remove the explosive and safely detonate it.

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