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A few days before the CARICOM 33rd Assembly in St. Lucia, Grenada's Prime Minister Tillman Thomas startled Grenadians by announcing the future construction of a new hospital, which many dubbed "another fool's joke". As the assembly concluded in St. Lucia, there was Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of Barbados with another "all fool's joke" by announcing that CARICOM leaders are moving to better coordinate foreign policies, and his nation has already taken steps in such direction.
Without in any manner trying to diminish or dismiss Stuart's enthusiasm about foreign policy coordination, it was quite interesting to learn from his comments about the Barbados foreign ministry initiatives to re-examine Barbados foreign policy and more specifically to ascertain if "we are in the right places at this time and make sure that we make the appropriate adjustments".
It is commonly known that following any CARICOM pow-wow in the region, there are numerous post pow-wow media spins and in this particular case, Barbados was apparently accorded the responsibility to selectively tell the global community what went on. It was extremely encouraging to see Stuart's awakening since the untimely passing of former Prime Minister David Thompson. Having awakened and in his lackluster approach to give his nation special kudos about the Caribbean Court of Justice and Barbados's adherence to the one China policy, I was not impressed because Stuart fell extremely short on both issues and maybe they should not have been mentioned.
Why? Barbados' early acceptance of the CCJ as the final appellate jurisdiction is commendable and will always be recognized. Stuart, in expressing his appreciation about the many regional individuals who contributed to the creation of the institution, failed to give credit to former Chief Justice David Simmonds and former Prime Minister Owen Arthur.
What was even more striking and shameful is when he dealt with foreign policy issues and used Barbados' and mainland China relations. With fairness to Stuart, Barbados has made the correct decision and while the former BLP administration did not take the initiative to establish a resident ambassador in Beijing as the current DLP administration did, readers must be reminded that former Barbados Foreign Minister Billie Miller did quite a bit of work in strengthening effective bilateral cooperation between the two nations.
However, as the notion and useless terminology of "foreign policy coordination" is touted and bandied around to the region's population, Stuart sat amongst two regional leaders whose nations still maintain strong relations with the renegade province Taiwan. While Stuart was on the rostrum advancing his media spins, there might have been three other CARICOM leaders around whose nations maintain strong bilateral ties with Taiwan.
Therefore, in my view, if CARICOM is to demonstrate any credibility and seriousness in its approach to "foreign policy coordination", simple common sense demands that CARICOM is obligated in addressing and settling the One China policy. Passing a resolution or reaching consensus amongst leaders is fine but the implementation of the resolution must occur and be honored by some of our regional leaders.
Foreign policy coordination amongst CARICOM member states is not achievable and will never work.
The sooner that this myth is dropped and buried, those within the organization who continue to dream and harbor thoughts on this issue should call it a day. It cannot work and efforts should be made to focus on other pressing issues affecting the organization.
It is possible that limited functional cooperation between CARICOM states might be possible. For example, at a time when the region faces a depletion of local resources to implement and sustain national development initiatives, CARICOM should take the initiative of encouraging Barbados and the other states to have one chancery in Beijing, where their operational resources can be better maintained. A similar suggestion will work very well in Toronto, where many CARICOM states have opted to maintain their consulates.
These initiatives must not be seen as foreign policy coordination, but rather functional cooperation. There is no foreign policy coordination task and our leaders, secretariat staffers and ill-informed international agencies bureaucrats must understand that there is no foreign policy to coordinate.
Member states have achieved their independence in varying times; they have made their own independent decisions about who they would maintain diplomatic relations with. CARICOM cannot change it and should not attempt to. Given the secretariat's success in harnessing and befitting from various multilateral initiatives, it is advisable that the secretariat should continue in this direction, as it is likely to have more measureable outcomes.
Foreign policy coordination is a very complex issue and often misunderstood. It might be logical and reasonable to assume that the region and its leadership are showing signs of deficiency in this area.
Get to work, Dr. Anthony. As CARICOM chair, it might be helpful to re-examine your nation's diplomatic relation with Taiwan and understand that the recall of an ambassador from Castries to Taipei does not solve the One China policy.
o Ian Francis resides in Toronto and is a frequent contributor on Caribbean affairs. He is a former assistant secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grenada and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Printed with the permission of caribbeannewsnow.com.
A toddler died two months after a social worker placed her in a "safe" home, a Supreme Court jury heard yesterday.
Three-year-old Jennifer Pinder died from injuries associated with child abuse on February 25, 2007 while in the care of Troy Sweeting and Rosetta Cruz-Sweeting, her aunt, prosecutors say.
Social worker Monique McKenzie told the jury that the Sweetings "appeared to be upright citizens of good character" from her investigations.
McKenzie authorized the child's release from the Nazareth Center into the family's care during the week of December 13, 2006, the court heard.
McKenzie said she did not follow up on the child's welfare after she was placed with the Sweeting family.
Pediatrician Dr. Percival McNeil first came into contact with Pinder on February 21, 2007 in the Accident and Emergency section of Princess Margaret Hospital.
McNeil said the child had multiple injuries about the body, which in his opinion were not accidental. He said her injuries were consistent with child abuse.
He said, "These injuries were not accidental, so they were inflicted."
McNeil said the medical team felt that Pinder had a "slim chance of survival".
The prognosis was correct and Pinder died at 1:44 a.m. on February 25 after suffering from four cardiac arrests.
Doctors were able to restore Pinder's heartbeat after the first three arrests but their resuscitation attempts failed after her heart stopped a fourth time.
Cruz-Sweeting is no longer charged with Pinder's murder.
The case against her husband continues before Justice Roy Jones.
Anthony Delaney and Charles Newbold are the prosecutors. Raymond Rolle appears for Sweeting.
The country's leading fixed-based operator (FBO) has been receiving some backlash due to increased fees in the aviation sector.
Anthony Hinsey, public relations manager for Odyssey Aviation Bahamas, told Guardian Business he fears that customers are being "doubly charged" at times and that if the government is not careful, it could lead to The Bahamas being priced off the market in the future.
He maintains that the biggest issue is not the fact that there are aviation fee increases but the message of inconsistency that is being sent out to customers.
"What we're hearing is that there are ports where people would go to clear customs and they are not being charged the fees. However, when they come to Nassau or wherever there is an Odyssey operation, we charge and collect fees because we're asked by Customs and Immigration to do so on their behalf," he noted.
"The concern is the fact that it is not happening everywhere that it should be happening. The amount doesn't seem to consistent."
Therefore, Hinsey is urging the government to properly notify all key stakeholders in the sector as to avoid any further backlash, so that the fee can be charged consistently and giving adequate warning.
"If you intend to introduce a fee increase, it's only fair that you give people adequate notice rather saying to them effective Monday morning, these will be the new fee increases," he revealed.
"These charter operators put their prices to their customers well in advance before trips actually take place, and for them to add in fees either last minute or with no notice at all from our government is not fair on their part.
"It [the fee increases] was not done properly, with hardly any notification and was just thrown at the people. It's been months since the fees have been introduced. People have accepted it but have been complaining about the fact that they can go elsewhere and pay much less."
Odyssey Aviation Bahamas is an independent FBO brand in The Bahamas, with four locations: two FBOs and two handling locations.
Just this week, Jim Parker, president of Caribbean Flying Adventures.com, pointed out how The Bahamas' private aviation industry has seen a steady decline over the past five years and believes the main reason for this is the "significant" increase in fees that continue to be experienced in the sector.
Currently, The Bahamas averages 49,000 arrivals annually from the sector, which accounts for millions of dollars injected into the economy. Tourism officials have confirmed that the private aviation sector contributes more than 456,000 room nights on an annual basis.
Four bodies found on Anguilla Cay had tires placed on top of them and set on fire, Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Lt. Commander Raymond King said yesterday.
King said the Royal Bahamas Police Force and RBDF launched a joint operation to recover the bodies, which were discovered nearly two weeks ago by fishermen.
King said the bodies were those of three men and one woman. Officials believe they were Haitians.
King did not say what led them to believe that.
They were transported from Anguilla Cay to New Providence yesterday.
"We arrived at the cay shortly after sunrise yesterday (Thursday) morning and within minutes we were able to locate the bodies based on the odor that was being emitted," he said.
He added, "The bodies were badly burned.
"It appears as though the individuals used tires to try and disintegrate the bodies."
On Tuesday, Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said police had yet to find any bodies on the cay.
King said police used a helicopter in their original search and found nothing.
"We conducted a more thorough search yesterday (Thursday) and were able to locate the bodies," he said.
When asked how the bodies ended up on the cay, King said, "There weren't any signs of any vessel being shipwrecked, so we have no idea in terms of how the bodies were taken to the cay or how they met their fate on Anguilla Cay," he said.
Anguilla Cay is located in the Cay Sal Bank near the coast of Cuba.
Police could face renewed scrutiny over their crime reporting as the United States Embassy has again made public a crime that happened in The Bahamas that the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) failed to report.
This is not the first time the embassy has issued a warning referencing crimes that have not been reported by the police to the Bahamian public.
But Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said yesterday police do not attempt to cover up or downplay any crime in the country that "ought to come to the attention of the Bahamian people".
Ferguson was responding to questions from The Nassau Guardian about a United States Embassy's warning on Friday that referenced an attempted armed robbery of an armored truck at Wendy's restaurant in Cable Beach Friday before last.
Ferguson confirmed the attempted armed robbery occurred around 5:30 p.m. and a firearm was recovered.
He said no suspects were arrested in connection with that matter up to yesterday.
"I am telling you I am aware of the attempted armed robbery of the armored vehicle, and what could have very well happened in that case [is that] the information did not get to the press officer in time when he was sending out his release," Ferguson said.
He added, "Obviously, if the U.S. Embassy got it, they must have gotten it from a police source."
However, the incident was not included in other crime reports since March 14.
When asked about the implications of the embassy revealing a crime that the media were not aware of, Ferguson said, "There is never a case that I know of [where] we seek to cover up any information that ought to come to the attention of the Bahamian people.
"That is how we police; you have to make people aware so that people can be alert, and that is how people would be able to assist in passing on information."
Pressed on the matter, Ferguson said the incident was an isolated one and the public has no reason to doubt whether crime reports reflect all serious crimes in the country.
Ferguson admitted police cannot report all incidents, including minor ones on a daily basis, but he said he is satisfied that all serious matters are reported.
He said there have been times when a crime occurs and it is not included in the crime report until the following day because of the progress of the investigation.
Ferguson also said the police press officer, Superintendent Stephen Dean, does an "excellent job in his awareness in terms of those crimes that are of public concern."
Dean, who was contacted for comment, said it would be inappropriate for him to speak on the matter.
In November, the embassy sent out a warning to its citizens highlighting at least three incidents where machete-wielding assailants robbed American visitors in a six-month period.
One of the robberies took place in a visitor's hotel room that month.
Another two incidents occurred on Barbary Beach on September 22 and June 1 respectively.
When contacted at the time, Assistant Commissioner of Police Emrick Seymour, officer in charge of the Northern District, confirmed the reports.
Ferguson said while he is happy to provide information on matters, he did not have all the facts on those incidents and did not wish to speculate.
In February, there was widespread speculation about the consistency of crime reporting for 2013 after the Princess Margaret Hospital's records showed that more people were treated for gunshot injuries than the number of shootings listed in the police statistics.
When questioned about the police statistics, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade stood by the figures he presented earlier this year and said police statistics and hospital data will "never be the same".
He has repeatedly said the police force's crime statistics accurately reflect the level of serious crime in the country.
Noah (Rated B)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson
Genre: Biblical Drama
Dwight's Rating: 3 stars out of 4
An epic battle between good and evil, with a large floating vessel, and mysterious, giant talking creatures with incredible strength and seemingly magical powers. Expect all that and more in the new film "Noah"!
Confused? Well, yes, this "Noah" is indeed about that Noah, of the Book of Genesis fame -- grandson of Methuselah, who begat Lamech, who then begat said Noah. The same one who saved all of Earth's creatures by loading them two-by-two on his ark to wait out the great flood that came to wash away the evil in mankind and all the sins of the world.
For the most part, that's largely where the similarities end between the story you know from the Bible and this movie. And as a result, we are left with a perplexing and yet intriguing film.
As you can surmise, there are things going on here that you're unlikely to find in any account of Genesis you'll ever come across. It is an often wild interpretation, taking what is already one of the most fantastic stories in the Bible to even higher heights of incredulity.
I criticized "Son of God" for sticking far too closely and cautiously -- and ultimately, boringly -- to the Gospel accounts of Jesus. "Noah" is the complete opposite. And while some of the choices are questionable, I do applaud director Darren Aronofsky (2010's "Black Swan"), who co-wrote the script along with Ari Handel, for taking chances with a very bold and unique story.
So, unlike with "Son of God", you might want to rethink taking the Bible study group or Sunday School class to see this one, as someone is going to have a lot of explaining to do. But if you are willing to accept the embellishments, you'll likely find this an incredibly entertaining tale.
The CGI work is absolutely breathtaking and astonishing, and it establishes itself as a technical masterwork.
Russell Crowe, as Noah, delivers a strong performance. I've always imagined that those sinful people watching Noah build his ark must have thought him mad. In "Noah", there's apparently no question about it. Here, he is a certifiable nut job. But Crowe plays him with such depth, that we can clearly understand that it's the weight of the world -- the enormous burden that has been placed on him -- that is driving him to the edge. That, and some of the human members on the ark, who are really trying his patience.
Anthony Hopkins also has a small role, and is always a pleasure to watch. Emma Watson, too, gives a worthy performance. But it does feel familiar, as she's once again in a film with tones of "Lord of the Rings", to which the "Harry Potter" series she's best know for have often been compared.
This year is shaping up to be "The Year of the Bible" for Hollywood. In addition to "Son of God" and "Noah", there are a number of other biblically-themed movies due out, including "Mary, Mother of Christ", and "Exodus" about Moses.
One wonders on which side of the divide these films will fall -- the grounded-in-Biblical-"reality"-side with "Son of God", or the extreme-fantasy-side with "Noah." As both movies have had success at the box office, this doesn't seem to matter to audiences. But so far, we can score one in favor of extreme-fantasy as the more exciting and interesting way to make a Bible movie.
o Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of " Morning Blend" on Guardian Radio. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email email@example.com and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.
I remember quite well, the period during the 1960s when the Batelco Radars was one of the best softball teams in the country. It was a pivotal era. The ethnic gap in the game of softball was about to be totally bridged. Traditional softball competition at Garfunkel Field, that saw the participation of few black players, was transforming into league play at the new John F. Kennedy Drive Park.
Prior to that change, the Southern Recreation Grounds (now Cannon William Thompson Park) was where a large number of black players performed. On Sundays, the Southern Recreation Grounds (SRG) was one of the main venues of activities for black athletes.
At the same time, many of them were playing cricket or soccer at Clifford Park, Windsor Park or St. George's Park. The SRG enjoyed that kind of popularity and the Radars were the softball darlings of the time. The top players evolved as stars, household names. When visiting the SRG, most often, fans watched Brian "Boldie" Gibson, the last of the great underhand delivery specialists.
He was the star pitcher of the Radars. Then, there was Russell Franks who was an avid athlete and a bit of a socialite. He was one of the original Radars. The peers of Gibson and Franks included Anthony "Boots" Weech, Keith "Muggins" Archer and Audley "Congo" Williams, who also thinks of himself as one of the better whist players in the country. Well, the jury remains out on that one.
They were a part of the catalyst group that contributed to etching the name Batelco Radars into Bahamian softball history.
A few years behind the aforementioned stalwarts but significant, nevertheless, to the tradition of the Radars, was Charles "Chuck" Mackey. The 1960s and 1970s were special decades in the development of softball in the country. The Radars, through the outreach connections of it players, had much to do with the expansion of softball into commercial and recreational play.
These days, Williams is still as boastful as ever, Weech remains quiet but profound and Muggins forever the supreme unionist, all of them still in love with the game of softball. Boldie gave us a scare a while ago. He was fading rapidly, but through the power of the Almighty, he is back, seemingly as vibrant as ever.
The same can't be said for Franks and Mackey. They are both facing challenges and are greatly incapacitated in comparison to the active individuals we once knew.
It was thus a fitting gesture, when the Radars decided to pay tribute to their colleagues. Weech first mentioned the plan to me and I thought it a great idea. This past weekend a social bash was held at the home of Archer, in Imperial Park, and it was a great reunion of Radars, honoring two of their very own.
This is a special moment in time in Bahamian sports history.
More and more, organizations are recognizing the importance of connecting the generations by bringing back into the spotlight those who made a positive sports difference. Now, a little bit more is known about Franks and Mackey.
Best wishes to them!
o To Respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Chairman Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday the fact that the United States Embassy in Nassau has once again made a crime public that was not reported by police "creates room for speculation" about the Royal Bahamas Police Force's policies.
Sands was contacted to respond to comments Assistant Commissioner Anthony Ferguson made to The Nassau Guardian on Sunday in defense of police policies on crime reports.
Ferguson responded to a previous Nassau Guardian article which pointed out that a new U.S. Embassy crime warning referenced an attempted armed robbery of an armored truck at Wendy's restaurant two weeks ago.
The matter was not included in police crime reports.
"What Bahamians ought to be asking ultimately is who is determining what ought to come to the attention of the Bahamian people," Sands said.
"If there is a discrepancy and the U.S. Embassy or one of its agents would report something that was not reported locally [by police] then we have to ask why or how did that happen.
"Was it an accident? Was it a typographical error, was it an omission or was it a deliberate instruction that came from somewhere. And if it came from somewhere was it the political directorate that sought to suppress that information or not?"
Sands said the minister of national security and minister of state for national security should be questioned over the matter.
"When a sovereign [country], the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, finds itself in the unbelievable internationally embarrassing situation of having a crime of this magnitude reported by our neighbor and we haven't reported it, then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should be made to give a public account, the Ministry of National Security should be made to give a public account and the prime minister should feel red-faced," he said.
On Sunday, Ferguson said police do not cover-up or downplay any crime in the country that "ought to come to the attention of the Bahamian people".
Ferguson confirmed the attempted armed robbery of the armored truck and said a firearm was recovered.
"I am telling you I am aware of the attempted armed robbery of the armored vehicle, and what could have very well happened in that case [is that] the information did not get to the press officer in time when he was sending out his release," he said.
He added, "Obviously, if the U.S. Embassy got it, they must have gotten it from a police source."
However, the incident was not included in other crime reports since March 14.
In February, there was widespread speculation about the consistency of crime reporting for 2013 after it was revealed that the Princess Margaret Hospital's records showed that more people were treated for injuries than the number of shootings and rapes listed in the police statistics.
When questioned about this, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said police statistics and hospital data will "never be the same".
Artist Jamaal Rolle said he felt a great sense of accomplishment when he presented Pope Francis with a self-portrait in Vatican City last month.
Rolle, 29, described the moment as a culmination of months of labor and dedication to a dream he knew would be fulfilled.
"I had this epiphany," he said at Graycliff restaurant yesterday.
"One night I just had this idea to do a portrait of the pope. It was so strong, something to obey in a sense. So I commenced working on the portrait for no reason. I just did it."
Shortly after finishing the portrait, Rolle said he contacted his publicist Azaleta Ishmael-Newry asking her to find a way to get it to the pope.
He admits the idea sounded crazy.
Ishmael-Newry explained that the pair was fortunate enough that Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, papal nuncio and representative for the Vatican in the Caribbean, was able to assist Rolle.
In Vatican City the pair had a private tour of the Apostolic Palace, the pope's residence and met with Girasoli at the palace's bronze doors.
Rolle said the next day it was not only raining, but there were some 70,000 visitors waiting to see the pope.
"As I presented the portrait, because of the rain and it was so big, I didn't really get to shake his hand but his guards accepted the portrait and the pope was smiling," Rolle said.
"So it was a good experience. It was a privilege to have my work in Rome where it will be among the Renaissance greats such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci."
Rolle, who has painted and presented portraits to celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Sir Sidney Poitier, media mogul Oprah Winfrey and the Miami Heat basketball team, said he hopes to inspire young people.
"I always feel, 'why not take your talents to the world? As Bahamians I feel that we are the most talented people in the world," he said.
"If I can inspire one person I feel like I've achieved my purpose.
"I want to encourage young people to reach for their dreams."
Rolle's sponsors for the trip included Sir Durward Knowles, Alain Torchon-Newry, Anthony Adderley, Ian Bethell, John Armstrong, Julian Smith, Branville and Lisa McCartney and Graycliff's Enrico, Annamaria and Paulo Garzaroli, just to name a few.
Four bodies were found on Anguilla Cay in the Cay Sal Bank near the coast of Cuba about a week ago, Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commodore Roderick Bowe said yesterday; however a senior police official said police had not seen the bodies.
Bowe said the bodies were badly decomposed.
"I don't want to speculate, but from the pictures that we got they would have been there for a while," he said.
"Because it may be a crime scene and we are not trained to investigate in that fashion, it has been handed over to the police.
"That's a matter that the commissioner [of police] and I spoke about. He would rather his people go in and deal with it."
The Guardian first reported that police were investigating reports of dead bodies on the cay on March 21.
At the time, Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said he sent a team to the area to investigate and had no further details.
Ferguson told The Guardian yesterday that the officers reported that they did not find anything on the cay.
"We continue to probe the information," he said.
"We are still trying to determine the exact location."
When asked about Bowe's comments, Ferguson said he could not speak conclusively on the RBDF's information.