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News Article
Call for ban on fishing of most marine species

By MEGAN REYNOLDS

Tribune Staff Reporter

mreynolds@tribunemedia.net

A CAMPAIGN to protect sharks from being fished in Bahamian waters has sparked the suggestion for a blanket ban on the fishing of most marine species.

Freeport attorney Fred Smith, QC, an environmentalist with a passion for diving and sharks, encourages Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Larry Cartwright to adopt a new approach to the protection of natural resources by only permitting certain marine life to be fished during specific seasons according to size regulations and zoning laws.

All other marine resources should be protected from fishing or harvesting by legislation, Mr Smith said.

His suggestion comes ...

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News Article
105m BEC plant 'violated the law'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

Opponents of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation's (BEC) $105 million Wilson City power plant had "genuine complaints" about the way the project's permits were granted, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday, finding that in the race to complete timely construction "many procedures were ignored or bypassed".

Justice Hartman Longley, although dismissing the Judicial Review action by Responsible Development for Abaco (RDA) that sought to block construction of the power plant, agreed with its attorney, Fred Smith QC, that if the project had been private sector-driven it would "have been stopped sooner" by the Government's ...

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News Article
Baha Mar: Scotiabank loan resolution 'utmost priority'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

A senior Baha Mar executive yesterday told Tribune Business that resolving the impasse over their $200 million loan was the "utmost priority" for the developer and Scotiabank, although no breakthrough/solution appears to have been reached yet.

With just three working days before Parliament debates the resolution on some 8,000-plus Chinese work permits, Robert Sands, Baha Mar's senior vice-president of external and governmental affairs, confirmed that meetings between the two sides had taken place - and were continuing - in Toronto.

"Meetings have been taking place between the parties, and meetings are still in progress," Mr Sands ...

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News Article
Students stabbed in latest violence

By ALISON LOWE
Tribune Staff Reporter

alowe@tribunemedia.net

A SENIOR school official, the President of the teacher's union, police, parents and counselors offered a variety of views yesterday on whether police should be re-introduced as a permanent presence on school campuses as two students were stabbed and five more taken into custody in the fourth serious outbreak of violence involving school children to take place in as many days.

Fearful parents who gathered outside C I Gibson Junior High School, where two male students were stabbed in a break-time brawl during the morning, were unanimous in their view that a permanent police presence was needed to quell rowdy students in the face ...

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News Article
Newspaper salesman in plea to Tribune after claiming police told him to move

By ALISON LOWE

Tribune Staff Reporter

alowe@tribunemedia.net

A VETERAN newspaper salesman has pleaded to be able to keep selling papers in his traditional location after claiming to have been told by police that he has to move.

However, a senior police officer said he is not aware of any such directive being given to the newspaper man - and told the paperman to get in touch with him.

In his appeal to The Tribune, the salesman, who traditionally touted his wares to passing motorists at the junction of Eastern Road and Johnson Road, and goes only by the name "Mr Major", said: "This is the first time that an officer has told me I have to move from this spot. What do they want ...

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News Article
Nominations for Cacique Awards 2010 Now Open

The Bahamas Ministry
of Tourism is now receiving nominations for their

Cacique Awards 2010
which will take place

January 28th, 2011.

Any
member of the public may cast a nomination for the general awards, the
Minster of Tourism's Hospitality Award or the Clement T. Maynard
Lifetime Achievement Award. They may nominate as many persons as they
wish. The same person may also be nominated for more than one award if
he/she is making a contribution in more than one area.

To be eligible for the awards, the nominees must be permanent residents
of The Bahamas, whose product or performance has a positive impact on
the quality development of Bahamian tourism...

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News Article
Bahamas elected to OAS Budget Committee

WASHINGTON,
DC -- Dr Nicola Virgill-Rolle of The Bahamas has been elected Vice Chair of the
Organization of American States (OAS) Committee on Administrative and Budgetary
Affairs (CAAP) of the Permanent Council, a key role in the OAS, particularly
during a time of severe economic stress on the multilateral body.

In her
capacity as vice chair of the CAAP, Dr Rolle is also serving as Chair of the
Working Group to Prepare the Draft Resolution on the

Program-Budget for 2011.

This year a
Special Session of the General Assembly will be held by September 30 to approve
the program budget of the OAS.

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News Article
Speculation that Chinese criminals may work on Baha Mar 'baseless'

By MEGAN REYNOLDS

Tribune Staff Reporter

mreynolds@tribunemedia.net

SPECULATION that thousands of Chinese criminals will be brought in to build Baha Mar have been called baseless allegations by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Nassau.

Concerns raised in the local press suggested the Chinese government has chosen convicts from its overcrowded prisons to work on foreign projects and may do the same when they bring in 8,150 workers to construct Baha Mar.

Editorial writers called on government to exercise due diligence in vetting their work permits if the foreign labour is approved as concerns stemmed from an article published in a Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mai ...

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News Article
Attorney General addresses second year Law Students

Nassau, The Bahamas - The role of an attorney is not
a "right" but a "privilege," said Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs
Senator the Hon. John Delaney as he addressed students of the Eugene Dupuch Law
School.

Senator Delaney spoke on the topic, "What does the
leader of the Bar expect from Attorneys?" The students who are entering their
second year made a call on the Attorney General as part of orientation for the
new school year.

In attendance was Archie Nairn, permanent secretary;
Debra Fraser, director of legal affairs; Vinette Graham-Allen, director of
public prosecutions; and Ian Winder, tutor...

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News Article
(VIDEO) International Day of Peace, September 21st

We invite you to observe

Peace Day on September 21, 2010. There will be events during the entire week of Peace Day!

Watch a VIDEO on Peace Day within...

The International Day of Peace ("Peace Day") provides an opportunity for

individuals, organizations and nations
to create practical acts of peace on a shared date. It was established
by a United Nations resolution in 1981 to coincide with the opening of
the General Assembly.

In 2002 the General Assembly officially declared September 21 as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace.

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News Article
Christie hit out at Miller

Cables obtained by The Nassau Guardian through the whistleblower WikiLeaks reveal deep concerns Perry Christie had about the Petrocaribe agreement with Venezuela while he was prime minister, and his worries about certain moves then Minister of Trade and Industry Leslie Miller was making, allegedly without Cabinet approval.
In fact, the cables reveal that the Christie Cabinet was "sharply divided" on Petrocaribe, a program under which countries purchase oil from Venezuela on conditions of preferential treatment.
One cable claims Christie made a direct negative comment relative to Miller as a minister.
"Some ministers, the PM continued, were brought into the Cabinet because of their qualifications; others, like Minister Miller, were included in an effort, at times unsuccessful, to keep an eye on what they're doing," said the cable, which was classified by then U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas John Rood.
The cable said that at a private meeting Rood had with Christie in July 2005, the then prime minister discussed several energy matters as well as his political future.
"The PM indicated that he has concerns about the Petrocaribe agreement signed on behalf of The Bahamas on June 29 by Trade and Industry Minister Leslie Miller," the cable said.
"He stated that Minister Miller 'got way out in front of the Cabinet' on the issue and suggested that Cabinet's eventual consideration of the Petrocaribe agreement would not be favorable.
"...The PM recalled that there were no disruptions to local fuel supplies during [the 2004] busy hurricane season.
"He doubted that government, given its poor record running hotels, airlines, and utilities, would be able to do as well as the international oil companies had done.  The PM confided that the Trinidadian government had expressed to him its displeasure that Minister Miller signed the Petrocaribe agreement."
In another cable penned about a month earlier, a U.S. Embassy official wrote that Christie had up to that point remained silent on the issue but "has shown no inclination to embark on the type of sweeping project that Minister Miller envisions".
"On the other hand, Christie has also shown no inclination to silence a minister whose more outrageous comments regularly make for embarrassing headlines," the June 2005 cable said.
"Minister Miller is an erratic figure within the Christie Cabinet and his frequent dramatic pronouncements on issues ranging from Petrocaribe, to hurricane relief funding, to liquefied natural gas projects are taken with a large grain of salt.
"His recent comments on high gasoline prices have focused less on Venezuela and more on decreasing the fixed markups that local gasoline importers and retailers are permitted to charge," the cable said.
The American diplomat observed: "The Bahamas is sufficiently interested in possibly lowering its energy bill to keep sending Minister Miller to Petrocaribe meetings, but it has little in common politically with President [Hugo] Chavez.
"The one possible exception is Cuba, with which The Bahamas shares a pragmatic working relationship based on migrant issues and other people-to-people matters such as tourism and medical training and treatment."
That same cable reveals that a high level government official had privately expressed concern that a "loose cannon" like Miller would be representing The Bahamas at an upcoming meeting between CARICOM and Chavez.
The Bahamian official suggested to the Americans that rather than request Miller to speak out, "it might be better for both countries (The Bahamas and the United States) if he stayed in the background and made no other substantive comment."
MILLER'S RESPONSE
According to that cable, Miller called a U.S. Embassy official to discuss his trip.
Responding to the official's urging that the best long-term solution to the energy situation would be a market-based solution within the context of a stable, democratic political system, Miller said that in petroleum, economics and politics are always mixed, the diplomat recorded.
"He called on the United States to itself construct new oil refineries in the U.S. to relieve supply shortages," the cable said.
"Miller then went on to describe himself as a 'nationalist' saying that he understood why 'dirt poor people in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina' were upset with oil companies.
"When [the embassy official] cautioned against concluding an agreement with an unstable government whose president had a penchant for tearing up and re-writing contracts, Miller responded by declaring that paying royalties from extracted natural resources of 'one percent' was 'ridiculous and unfair'."
The embassy official, according to the cable, told Miller that investment required stability, transparency, and predictability and that all of these were in short supply in Chavez's Venezuela.
In another cable, the Americans wrote that Miller had returned from Venezuela "waving the Petrocaribe agreement and declaring cheap gas prices in our time."
Miller was quoted as saying, "What we got from the Venezuelans is a dream come true.  This is an extraordinary agreement, one that I have been behind for the past two and a half years."
But the Americans wrote: "Reducing the price of gas in The Bahamas without reducing either wholesaler or dealer profit margins or the government tax has long been one of Leslie Miller's signature theme projects.
"His past predictions of cheap gas in our time have gone unfulfilled while he has lurched from political gaffe to political gaffe.  The local oil companies have long been suspicious of his maneuverings and have challenged his proposals both publicly and privately.
"His permanent secretary, the senior civil servant in his ministry, has long given up trying to explain to him the economics of the oil business in general and in The Bahamas in particular."
The diplomat said the lack of consultation with the local oil companies suggested that any real changes to The Bahamas' energy market "remains a distant dream".
In the comment section of the cable, the American diplomat wrote: "Local reaction to Petrocaribe has been skeptical ever since its signing.
"Minister Miller's actions have been criticized in terms of process (not having Cabinet's authorization) and on substance (creating another inefficient government entity, relying on a single source of supply, and endorsing Venezuela's political agenda)."
The cable said that while Miller was pushing Petrocaribe, Christie indicated to the ambassador that he intended to walk away from the agreement.
Miller has said he will not ever accept a cabinet appointment again.  He has already been ratified by the PLP to run again in Blue Hills, a seat he lost to attorney Sidney Collie in 2007.
The July 2005 cable also revealed that Christie, at the time, was unsure as to whether he would be able to lead the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) into the 2007 general election, as he was still recovering from a mild stroke.
"The PM stated that he has already begun internal discussions on the timing of the next elections, which he must call no later than May 2007," the cable said.
"He believed he would know by his party's annual convention in November whether or not he is strong enough to lead the party into elections for another five-year term.  If he is fit enough to run, the PM is confident that no one will be able to defeat him."
Christie was strong enough to lead his party into the election.  However, his party was defeated.
When the Free National Movement (FNM) came to office in 2007, it made it clear that The Bahamas government was not interested in the oil alliance with Venezuela.
In a May 2007 cable, a U.S. Embassy official wrote, "We do not expect any warming of relations between Caracas and Nassau.
"Indeed we expect the FNM government to be a stronger partner of the Untied States in addressing Venezuela-related issues."
Not long after, Minister of State for Public Utilities Phenton Neymour confirmed that Petrocaribe was not, and would not be, a priority for the new Bahamian government.
An embassy official later wrote that Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham called the Petrocaribe accord a "stupid proposal".
The Americans noted: "The Bahamas has a wholly privatized oil distribution system that is incompatible with Petrocaribe.  Further, both FNM and PLP senior leadership are leery about being beholden to Venezuela."
 
 
 
 

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News Article
Another delay for BTC separation packages

Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) employees did not receive voluntary separation package offers as promised yesterday, as management at the company and executives in BTC unions were yesterday still trying to settle on what would be offered to whom.
Offers were initially supposed to be sent out on Monday.
However, BTC chief executive officer Geoff Houston said the company was still collating data on pension benefits owed to employees.
The Guardian understands that BTC human resource officials and union leaders were locked in meetings at the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) hall most of the day yesterday trying to finalize what would be offered to employees.
The plan was for employees to decide within 30 days if they wish to accept the offers. But BCPOU president Bernard Evans told The Guardian yesterday that the unions were trying to negotiate a longer period for workers to make up their minds.
"We hope by the end of a month-and-a-half or two months, those people who would really be looking at this package, would have been in the right frame of mind and would have done a thorough process," he said.
"It's such a tough decision and the longer you have had to weigh your options you would have made the right decision. You don't want to rush into it."
He added that the unions would guide employees through every step of the process.
"After everybody would have received these individual letters, we would convene a general membership meeting to listen to the overall concerns," Evans said.
"We will meet with each person individually to find out what are their options (and) to guide them as best we can through the professional services that will be provided."
Given the complexity of the issues involved, Evans said he believes that September will be the earliest period during which any permanent employees leave BTC.
Houston, who was a guest on the show 'Jeffrey' on Star 106.5 FM on Monday, said the process could take some time to roll out after the accept/decline deadline one month from now.  He said the redistribution of people within the company would have to happen simultaneously. He also insisted that there will be no layoffs within the company "right now."
Houston said that if the number of individuals BTC officials are hoping will accept the voluntary packages is not reached, they would have to look at other operational efficiencies to streamline the company.
While he would not say what percentage of the staff they are hoping would accept the offers, he said they have benchmarked the figure against similar telecommunication environments.  The number that has typically been thrown around is 30 percent.

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News Article
AG's office stops murder case after judge rules on evidence

The Office of the Attorney General abruptly ended the murder trial of Jerome Bethel after a Supreme Court judge delivered two unfavorable rulings on the admissibility of evidence.
Bethel, a former prison guard, is accused of the February 11, 2009 murder of Harold Gardiner.
By law, the Office of the Attorney General can discontinue a prosecution at any time. However, attorney Murrio Ducille, who appears for Bethel, said that the move was an abuse of that authority.
Prosecutors apparently anticipated presiding judge Vera Watkins' decision as prosecutor Jillian Williams presented a nolle prosequi signed by the attorney general immediately after  Justice Watkins gave the ruling Wednesday afternoon.
Justice Watkins refused to allow Gardiner's sister, Marina Prescott, to give additional evidence regarding the identification of her brother's body.
Prescott had already testified about the identification, but prosecutors wanted her to give additional evidence that did not appear in her witness statement.  Justice Watkins also did not permit photos taken of Gardiner's body at the morgue into evidence because there was no evidence he was present when Prescott did the identification.
Justice Watkins told prosecutors Jillian Williams and Crispin Rolle that the court was not a place for "patchwork."
Ducille described the move as an abuse of the separation of powers. He said the executive was "interfering in judicial proceedings," adding that prosecutors stopped the case because they disagreed with the judge's decision.
Justice Watkins said, "They've done it before. They don't like the ruling, they stop the case.  But a nolle can be entered at any time."
Ducille said there was no legal precedent on the legality of the maneuver and he was prepared to make a constitutional challenge to the decision.
Williams interrupted Ducille as he spoke.  Justice Watkins told her, "You are so rude.  I've never seen this side of you.  If you cannot conduct yourself as counsel and attorney, perhaps we have to take it up with the Bar Association."
Williams later apologized to the court.
Justice Watkins will dismiss the jury in the case on Monday.

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News Article
Bahamas elected to OAS Budget Committee
Bahamas elected to OAS Budget Committee

Dr Nicola Virgill-Rolle of The Bahamas has been elected Vice Chair of the Organization of American States (OAS) Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Affairs (CAAP) of the Permanent Council, a key role in the OAS, particularly during a time of severe economic stress on the multilateral body.

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News Article
Not healthy? Insurance may not be an option

Medical Insurers could soon begin issuing increasing permanent exclusions to individuals with pre-existing and contracted ailments, even as medical costs continue to "skyrocket", the president of the Bahamas Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) has warned.

This was because the new Insurance Act has made underwriting requirements for health and life insurance companies much more stringent.

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News Article
An education performance proposal

The Department of Education is faced with many challenges: some relate to managerial mismanagement as reported recently in the press, others to the poor academic record of its students and even the failure to date to present a credible 10-year plan to address the latter.
The department has a substantial number of good teachers, pockets of academic excellence and decades of testing experience...yet the overall record is unacceptable.
The question is, "Where to begin?"
The Single-Letter Grade
Up until a year ago it confined its annual reporting to the BGCSE (Bahamas General Certificate for Secondary Education) exams with a "Single-Letter-Grade" for all schools...public and private...and for all 26 subjects. The score always ranged between "D+" and "D-"; and the results were never treated as "Good News" in the media.
Although readily apparent to employers, parents and taxpayers alike, academic under-achievement has been far greater in the public schools; and that reality was being concealed behind the "Single-Letter-Grade".
If the department had reported the BGCSE scores for the public schools only, then the grade in all subjects would have ranged between a "D-" and an "F" and not between "D+" and "D-". Furthermore, reporting the English and Math grades would have enlarged this embarrassing picture.
However, it ceased making the "Single-Letter-Grade" report on the grounds that it was misleading.
Yes! It was misleading. But...with this action it lost a valid and necessary way to measure the department's overall performance.
A Revised BGCSE Benchmark
What we have now from the ministry and department are anecdotal examples of educational achievement that are true but do not address the broader issue of non-performance.
There are "theoretical" discussions of learning without reference to academic under-achievement, illiteracy and drop-out rates; and there is the displacement of responsibility with a discussion of the dysfunctional family.
In short there is the appearance of simply defending the status quo.
The department must face the humiliating reality of its past and present...acknowledge it...dramatize it...and earn creditability. Otherwise today's administration will always appear as part of the problem rather than the solution.
It should use the BGCSE public school data for all subjects and for English and Math separately. It should start this in connection with a new 10-year plan.
This giant step is necessary because any effective program to end the scourge of academic under-achievement and illiteracy is likely to elicit an immediate and powerful opposition.
This is what is happening across America in cities like Madison, Wisconsin,  New York City and New Jersey. Washington, D,C., unfortunately, started a successful reform program but now may be in retreat because of an effective union-managed political counter attack.
A New Vision
But...many, many school districts are turning toward the Harlem Children's Zone and the Knowledge Is Power Program education templates presented in the "Waiting For Superman" documentary; and they are applying them to their districts.
For instance, there appear to be three such districts in the state of Florida alone.
The Bahamas needs a commanding educational and political vision that will carry the country through the inevitable brutal political storm in order to reach the promised land...the cure to the scourge...the end of under achievement and illiteracy, near permanent learning impairment and reduced life-time earnings.
That New Vision could entail either  a.) the transfer of the Harlem Children's Zone template to The Bahamas with its "U. S. Inner-City" learning software, teaching techniques, training and critical experienced personnel, or b.) a more modest effort that the department would define.
But either effort must start with it identifying its most ineffective teachers, moving them out of the classroom and replacing them with higher quality teachers, even foreign teachers, if necessary.
This is that critical incremental investment in the nation's human capital that would help the country avoid the social, political and economic disaster that surely will come with the status quo.
 
About the author
Ralph J Massey is an economist and since 2003 has been a consultant on public policy issues.
He graduated from Case University magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in economics and as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society. He entered the University of Chicago as a Harry A Millis Fellow in Labor and Industrial Relations, earned a master's degree in economics and left the university as a research associate in the Department of Economics. His course advisor was Milton Friedman, the Nobel Laureate.
His business career covered 37 years with four major companies. At Kimberly-Clark Corporation, for instance, he was assistant treasurer and at Chemical Bank he was the offshore banking manager of the Bank of New Providence, Nassau, Bahamas. He was a founding member of Nassau Institute and has been a contributor to the Coalition for Education Reform.

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News Article
An all-encompassing responsibility

"We must never lose sight of the fact that the student, as the learner, is not only the center of the school system, but the only reason for its existence." This quote by R.B. Jackson gets to the heart of why schools exist.
Despite the new initiatives, the fancy educational terms, and the ever-expanding responsibilities of schools, we miss the point if we forget that students give schools its purpose. With this in mind, the foundational consideration of all educational institutions must be how best we can serve students.  An equally foundational response must include adequate preparation for success in the wider world upon completion of school. Doing this in the 21st. century, however, continues to shift from creating workers with basic proficiencies for inevitable placement in monotonous, factory-type roles, to preparing students for innovative, creative, imaginative, ideas driven work, with the skills, competencies and attitudes which engender incredible flexibility and resilience. The former characteristics are decidedly fundamental for survival in our new and ever changing landscape.
However, creating the programs and the curricula necessary to achieve the above is secondary to success in education. Understanding and respecting the individual needs of each student is primary. Underpinned by the aforementioned, education, by its very definition is about eliminating barriers to student success. In short, education requires education practitioners to do all possible to ensure the success of students -- a complex and grand responsibility indeed.
One mandate of any education system must be to get students into and out of the system as expediently as possible. In order to do this, educational institutions must be focused not only on high impact teaching and learning, but also on understanding and eliminating the many barriers to student success.  For example, that positive parental involvement increases a student's performance and success in school has been proven time and again in many different education systems and countries. Concomitantly, that the lack of positive parental involvement can be a barrier to student success is also true.  More importantly, however, that multiple strategies have been innovatively employed, by many different education systems and countries, with great success, to overcome the barrier of an uninterested and or unable parent have also been proven.
Therefore, the tendency to blame parents for poor student performance rings hollow in an age where access to information and the huge potential for local and international collaboration exist.  Moreover, it can be argued that today's pervading parental indifference is in itself due to the underperformance of our education system. Indeed, the education "crisis" has been long in the making.
Let's briefly examine another measure -- school dropouts. How many students drop out of Bahamian schools each year, and what are the main reasons?  While accurate statistics appear in short supply in the Bahamian education system, according to a 2006 report by the ABC News Corporation, American students were dropping out of high school at a rate of 2,500 per day. A later report by the New York Times, estimated that 1.2 million American students had dropped out of high school in 2010. While we may not know the exact number in The Bahamas, we do know that both government and private organizations engaging in work with marginalized youth are being overwhelmed by the numbers of citizens requiring services as a result of dropping out of school.  We can deduce, if only anecdotally, that we have a similar school drop-out issue in The Bahamas.
The reasons students drop-out of school can be multifaceted and complex.   Sometimes though, the reasons are rather simple. According to the National Drop Out Prevention Centre at  Clemson University, the top four reasons students drop out of school were -- they did not like school, they were failing and didn't feel able to catch up, they did not like their teachers, and they felt that they did not belong at school.
Other published research points to identical factors in jurisdictions outside of the United States and highlights that dropping out of school is more of a process than an event. That is, students experience feelings of inadequacy over time.  When looked at together, what becomes clear is that schools have a lot of control over maximizing and or minimizing opportunities for student success and graduation rates. To state it in a more challenging way, schools have to decide whether their modus operandi create or eliminate barriers.
Unlike poverty, unstable home environments, drugs, violence, abuse and other insidious factors that can also play a role in students' decisions to leave school, the leading factors as mentioned above are within the realm of schools to address. This in no way underestimates the importance of positive parental involvement and community support. It is understood that in the best circumstances, students and schools would have a broad support base of parents and social partners. However, the absence of these supports does not have to be a fatal barrier for student and school success. In the absence of home and community support, schools must put their shoulders to the plough and bear the responsibility of securing the future of the society. Schools are best positioned to do so.  Few other institutions have access to students in the same numbers or for the same length of time. Few other institutions can have the kind of impact schools can have on deciding the direction and influencing the degree of success enjoyed by a country.  Key to success in this area is being bold enough to accept the full depth of the responsibility.
Of course, when dynamics such as presented above are at play, policy makers have to dig deep to ensure that schools are fully supported, both in terms of legislation, and human and financial resources. It is fully recognized that financial resources are in short supply all over the world, and so emphasis must always be placed on developing and supporting robust human resources, ensuring that the best people are in positions of power, and that professional development holds a privileged position in the organization. Indeed, in the end, it will be the people who get the job done.
So, what are the most important lessons here?
1.  The old saying still rings true, even with the best educational programs, the most futuristic curricula, and facilities with all the bells and whistles, students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Education is doomed to failure if anything/anyone other than students gives it purpose and motivation.
2.   The most successful school systems around the world create trends rather than follow them. Industries adapt to the innovations of schools rather than schools adapting to industry, and successful school systems have a no-excuses approach to student success, embracing the mantra as was done in Ontario, that schools control the conditions for success.  If schools are to be more successful, they will need to embrace the full responsibility of motivating the country and giving themselves permission to take the leadership role and set the trends of tomorrow.
3.   Barriers to student success can be obvious external impediments such as drugs and poverty, but even more often, they are the intangible attitudes and feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness held by students, that cost nothing more than a positive, attentive, and caring teacher to address.
This is our full responsibility.
Makia Gibson is a passionate educator, working to improve education for all Bahamians!  More at www.yestoeducation.com

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News Article
Minister Grant carries out site inspection of the Straw Market

Nassau The Bahamas - Public
Works and Transport Minister the Hon. Neko C. Grant is "extremely" pleased with
the progress of the construction of the new Bay Street Straw Market.

On December 15, 2009 a
contract was awarded to Cavalier Construction in the amount of $11,294,468.86
for the construction of the new Straw Market on the old market site.

Mr. Grant along with senior
officials including Colin Higgs, permanent secretary, John Canton, director and
Livingston Forbes, chief architect made a site-inspection of the work on
September 17...

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News Article
Do we need to look at our immigration laws

Dear Editor,
Parliamentarians, I am calling on you to take a serious look at our illegal immigrants crisis. I will start with an example of a Bible story that talks about when the children of Israel entered Egypt they were numbered as 70 persons. By the time all that generation died, their descendants were just over 2 million (Exodus-Numbers). They outnumbered the Egyptians in Egypt and the king of Egypt was very concerned that if war broke out, they would be defeated. When they went into Egypt they were the children of Israel. And when Moses led them out, they were still the children of Israel. So what are we doing about our situation?
If we don't have an administration that takes this illegal immigrants crisis seriously, we will continue to be in crisis. For example, there are far too many shantytowns with each having over 100 illegal immigrants. When the question is asked as to what we are going to do about these shantytowns the normal response given is that Bahamians are living in these towns too. This is an unacceptable excuse as to why we allow them to continue to exist.
If we need a change in our immigration laws, then please, let us do what needs to be done. We can't continue like this. The problem is already out of control and if permitted to continue, the problem will become more and more pervasive.
So far, it appears to me that the administrations over the years, former and present, have failed the Bahamian people as it relates to them not dealing with this issue. We need to fix this problem before it is too late.
The amount it costs us per year to repatriate illegal immigrants is always pronounced, but the question I have is how much of our yearly budget financially supports the cost we incur per year to take care of the immigrants here illegally? Can anyone or any administration produce these numbers? It crushes me considering that our public debt is well over $3 billion. How much of this debt relating to illegal immigration is being absorbed by us, the Bahamians?
Some of the negative effects experienced by us are as follows:
o For 2011 thus far, it has been reported that about 1,200 illegal immigrants have been sent back to their homelands. And I believe, out of that repatriated group, some have already returned. This is not fair to Bahamians.
o The school system is overcrowded. It is alleged that the illegal children are entering the school system by recycling birth certificates. I am demanding that this matter be looked into. How will our children have a quality education in this type of environment? It is not a surprise that our national grade is a "D" average with a system like this.
o I believe a great number of the crimes in our country are being committed by unfamiliar illegal persons. This is continuously being displayed on our local news.
o Our medical clinics and hospital are overly burdened by unfamiliar illegal persons. When Bahamians go to be serviced by our country's public medical officers, they are faced with the issue that beds are not available or they must wait hours to be served.
o Too many shantytowns could cause diseases and outbreaks because they don't have the proper infrastructure e.g., plumbing, water, etc. Moreover, it is clear why our fire budget increased. The three towns that recently burned used some of our resources and created a cost for us. What else needs to happen in these shantytowns? How many more fires must take place? What needs to take place with these illegal immigrants before our parliamentarians take this illegal situation seriously?
o Illegal use of our electricity by them has also become an economic burden because the cost of fuel is placed on the backs of Bahamian taxpayers.
o It seems to me that in some facets of our society, we are already outnumbered.
We are almost to the point where, in our country, we don't know who is who. Why should illegal immigrants live in our country and enjoy all the benefits designed for Bahamians for free? All Bahamians must strive and pay their way. Why should they be able to dwell on the land, enjoy our infrastructure and other systems for free and Bahamians have to pay for the property they own and dwell on? In my opinion, this is unacceptable.
In conclusion, administrations over the years have failed to deal with the matter at hand a very important issue. Bahamians must obey the law of their land and so should the illegal immigrants. I am calling on all Bahamians to speak up on this immigration issue for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
Please put this issue on top of your agenda. As Bahamian citizens, we can't afford to lose control of our country to illegal immigrants. I want to assure you that if we don't take this situation in hand, we will lose control of our country.
But the question still remains, in whose hands will the future of our country, The Bahamas, be in? Will it be our children and grandchildren or the children and grandchildren of these illegal immigrants? I am calling this situation a sleeping giant. Please let's get this resolved.
Yours, etc.,
Rev. Esther Dawkins-Thompson
 

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News Article
200 Chinesefor road work

By KRYSTEL ROLLE
Guardian Staff Reporter
krystel@nasguard.com

The House of Assembly last night approved a resolution for the government to borrow nearly$58 million from the China Export-Import Bank to construct a four-lane airport highway.
The project will mean the grant of 200 work permits for Chinese laborers, but also a very low interest rate for the loan.
Expressing concerns about growing government debt as well as the foreign labor component of the airport road plan, opposition MPs voted against the resolution, but Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said the Progressive Liberal Party does not speak for the majority of the Bahamian people.
"By our deeds they know us,"Ingraham said....

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News Article
Government still undecided on BP compensation

By JAMMAL SMITH
Guardian Business Reporter
jammal@nasguard.com

The government is still assessing whether or not The Bahamas will seek compensation from British Petroleum(BP)as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, with an official from the Ministry of Environment saying a final decision has not been made yet.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of

Environment Ronald Thompson told Guardian Business that the government hasn't determined whether it will seek reimbursement. The oil spill, which was caused in April when the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, initially posed a threat to the country.
"The government has not really determined whethe ...

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News Article
Govt's stance on oil drilling unchanged

The government's stance on drilling for oil in Bahamian waters remains unchanged, with the Minister of Environment Earl Deveaux saying companies like the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) are not getting the green light to drill in the near future.
Deveaux said last week Thursday that the moratorium that has been in place since the Deepwater Horizon spill last year has not been lifted, and more environmental studies will have to be conducted before any drilling activity occurs.
"We have required that any of the oil companies doing something outside of their league that they have to do an environmental impact assessment (EIA)," Deveaux said.  "For example, StatOil has sought permission to engage in exploration and is currently doing an EIA, but the work that BPC has been talking about is frankly more of a business promotion than it is anything else. They have licenses but in order to continue to be viable they need to encourage and promote investment, so the likelihood of them finding oil is elevated whenever they announce that they are in close proximity of this discovery. "
Deveaux's comments came after he was asked a question regarding oil drilling and the environmental impact stemming from it in the House of Assembly by Member of Parliament for Englerston Glenys Hanna-Martin. The response was his first made in a public forum in weeks regarding the topic.
He mentioned that he had decided not to comment on BPC's activity because it could have affected stock prices and investor confidence.
The environment minister added that the government's unchanged stance on oil has been communicated to BPC, despite its CEO Dr. Paul Crevello saying the company is targeting 2012 to start drilling.
"We have a moratorium, we have not gone outside of it, we have not issued any new leases, and any exploration that is intended to take place in The Bahamas will be undertaken with an approved EIA," Deveaux said. "We have no application for oil drilling and I've told [BPC] emphatically that we're not entertaining any of that.  That's something we'll take up at another time."
BPC holds five petroleum exploration licenses covering 3.87 million acres in Bahamian territorial waters and its maritime exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Four of the licenses, named Bain, Cooper, Donaldson and Eneas, are in the southwest Bahamas near the Cuban border. The licenses expire on April 26, 2012, according to BPC's web site.
 

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News Article
Deveaux did not admit guilt by resignation

THE LATEST scuttlebut making the rounds of the political rumour mill is that by offering his resignation to Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, Environment Minister Earl Deveaux admitted he was wrong to accept the invitation of Prince Karim Aga Khan to fly in his helicopter to the prince's private island in the Exumas. According to rumour mongers it is an admission by the Minister that the helicopter ride compromised his ability to make an objective decision on the Prince's application for permission to develop his island in the Exuma Land and Sea Park.

Those persons spreading the rumour are either completely ignorant of the Westminster system of parliamentary government, or they are malicious ...

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News Article
Minister of Foreign Affairs to address 65th UN General Assembly

NASSAU, The Bahamas - Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon
Brent Symonette is leading The Bahamas' delegation to the Sixty-Fifth
Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Ministry
announced Thursday.

The General Debate of the 65th
Session of the General Assembly will take place from September 23 to
25 and from the 27 to 30.  Mr. Symonette is scheduled to address
the General Assembly on Tuesday, September 28.

The Bahamas delegation will
include Marilyn Zonicle, Under-Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
Ambassador Paulette Bethel, Bahamas Permanent Representative to...

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News Article
Sandals a major contributor to Exuma

Dear Editor,

I make the following comments as a concerned Exumian who is tired of non-Exumians trying to stop the growth and progress of the Island.
It appears that some PLP politicians in their quest for power are prepared to jeopardize the future of the people of Exuma by frustrating the largest single private employer on the island.  They are treating Sandals, which is responsible for the livelihood of hundreds of Exumians and their families, as though it is not appreciated in our country.

The truth is that Sandals Emerald Bay has provided a safety net for many people on the island whose hopes were dashed when the Four Seasons hotel closed.

When Sandals came on the scene most of the commercial airlines had terminated their services even before the departure of Four Seasons, the previous operator.

Today, after just 12 months of operations, Sandals has been able to attract carriers such as Air Canada, Continental Connections, American Eagle, US Air, Delta and the domestic carriers Bahamasair, SkyBahamas and Western Airlines.

Sandals has also honored the existing agreements with Exuma Transit for the transportation of guests.

The charge of poor treatment of its employees by the hotel is totally false as is the complaint about the presence of Jamaicans on the property.
Sandals is a Jamaican investor with core expertise provided by Jamaicans who are hardworking people with good work attitudes worthy of emulation.
The fact is that as a major Caribbean and International hotel chain, Sandals employs Bahamians in a number of its hotels in its host countries including the Turks & Caicos, St. Lucia, Antigua and Jamaica.

Interestingly, no mention has been made of the many foreign nationals who worked with the former Four Seasons hotel and who treated Bahamian workers so badly.  I don't recall any complaint being made about them.

As far as the charge of under-payment of staff is concerned, the government of The Bahamas has established a minimum wage.  Any employer who pays workers below the minimum is in breach of the law.  Anyone with proof that this is the case at Emerald Bay, should report the matter to the Department of Labour.

Indeed, the staff of the hotel should be made to understand that the property can only pay what it can afford and that higher wages could mean less staff and not so stable employment.

In any given interaction of people there will be problems; even in churches. However, I am satisfied that the resort is doing much more than its predecessor in trying to better relations with all its public.
In recent times, the hotel has been managed by some of the finest professionals of Sandals: Jeremy Mutton and Patrick Drake.

Significant efforts have been made in introducing a wide range of programs to train and upgrade staff, foster professionalism, enhance staff morale and reach out to the community and business sectors.

The hotel has introduced a wide range of programs to address training and personal development at every level, as well as entry level certification for school leavers in hospitality training and the introduction of an apprenticeship program.

In addition, there are numerous programs to enrich and enhance the everyday life of workers including luncheons, breakfasts, bingos and other recreational activities as well as access to a barber shop which provides concessionary rates to employees.

Through the Sandals Foundation, several projects are helping to transform schools and civic amenities on the island in an unprecedented manner.
For the first time in the history of Exuma, the island is blessed with a hotel choir which is a big hit whenever it appears at local churches and civic functions.

Since the acquisition of the hotel, millions of dollars have been spent on renovation and upgrading facilities, including the addition of 62 rooms, thereby increasing the capacity of the resort from 183 rooms to 245 rooms.  Also, some 60 additional persons have received employment as a result of this project.
In addition, three more restaurants are to be built, providing employment for many more people.
In the current climate of unemployment in Exuma, anyone responsible for providing jobs for over 500 permanent and 100 construction workers ought to be welcomed and respected by everyone.

I believe Exumians need to examine the situation very carefully and not be fooled.  They should never forget the trauma and loss of hope that came with the announcement of the closure of Four Seasons Hotel.  Indeed, Exumians should be very wary of persons, who for selfish political reasons, are trying to destroy their future and the growth and stability that Sandals has brought to this Island.

I can testify that the chairman of Sandals and his entire staff have always extended a hand of friendship to the Member of Parliament for Exuma, Anthony Moss.

It is an indictment on Moss that he has failed to accept invitations he has received from a major investor in his constituency whose operations have impacted the lives, livelihood and future of so many of his constituents.

Yours, etc.,
EVERETTE HART
Former island administrator

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News Article
LATEST HOMICIDE PROMPTS CONCERNS OVER LIQUOR STORES AND BARS

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

FED UP with the "senseless crime" that they feel has permeated communities across the capital, pastors, business owners and concerned residents met at the scene of the latest homicide to call attention to the deterioration of social values.

Deterioration they feel is largely due to the volume and proximity of liquor stores and bars in residential areas.

The area was reported by the community leaders to have at least 15 bars, but not one community centre or park.

Bishop Simeon Hall said: "Somebody should take responsibility for these liquor outlets. We need community action, we need forms of local governm ...

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News Article
Shareholder rift continues at the Hilton

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

The fallout from the boardroom battle at the British Colonial Hilton continues to rumble on, Tribune Business can reveal, with its Canadian pension fund investor urging its fellow shareholder to inform the Registrar General that the agreement governing their 'partnership' remains in force.

A September 1, 2010, letter from Canadian QC, Alan Lenezner, on behalf of the Canadian Commercial Workers Industry Pension Plan (CCWIPP), to legal representatives of Swiss/UK-based private equity house, Adurion, also urged that their client withdraw an application to the Central Bank of the Bahamas for permission to refinance the $19 million loan at the cent ...

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News Article
Bahamas elected to OAS Budget Committee

WASHINGTON,
DC -- Dr Nicola Virgill-Rolle of The Bahamas has been elected Vice Chair of the
Organization of American States (OAS) Committee on Administrative and Budgetary
Affairs (CAAP) of the Permanent Council, a key role in the OAS, particularly
during a time of severe economic stress on the multilateral body.

In her
capacity as vice chair of the CAAP, Dr Rolle is also serving as Chair of the
Working Group to Prepare the Draft Resolution on the

Program-Budget for 2011.

This year a
Special Session of the General Assembly will be held by September 30 to approve
the program budget of the OAS.

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News Article
Ministry set to host one day Conclave on Sports Authority Bill

By BRENT STUBBS

Senior Sports Reporter

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

WITH the new national stadium expected to be completed early next year, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture is trying to ensure that its stakeholders are kept abreast of the new regulations that will be put in place.

Today, starting at 10 a.m., the Ministry will host a Conclave on the Sports Authority Bill. The one-day meeting will take place on the ground floor of the ministry.

The purpose of the conclave is for the federations and associations to voice their sentiments on the drafting of the Bill, which is available for all to view on the Government's website www.bahamas.gov.bs.

Eugene Pratt, the Deputy Permane ...

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News Article
Government still undecided on BP compensation

By JAMMAL SMITH
Guardian Business Reporter
jammal@nasguard.com
The government is still assessing whether or not The Bahamas will seek compensation from British Petroleum(BP)as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, with an official from the Ministry of Environment saying a final decision has not been made yet.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of
Environment Ronald Thompson told Guardian Business that the government hasn't determined whether it will seek reimbursement. The oil spill, which was caused in April when the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, initially posed a threat to the country.
"The government has not really determined wheth ...

read more »