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News Article

March 19, 2014
Bahamian company partners to grow tourists from China

Bahamaren, a Bahamian-owned company, has partnered with China Travel Service, a large Chinese travel service provider, in a partnership it says is a "powerful opportunity for The Bahamas to significantly expand our presence in China".
The company described the alliance as a broad partnership that enhances The Bahamas' position in the outbound China tourism industry, while significantly expanding Bahamaren's reach in China and other key, high-growth markets.
The new partnership is expected to spark tourism growth for The Bahamas and additionally expand the nation's tourism product throughout mainland China by maximizing the product development, talents and resources at both companies, while driving scale and efficiency in the partners' respective supply chains.
For the first time ever China Travel Service will begin the process of preparing summer packages for The Bahamas, and in September will also begin the preparation of packages for the opening of Baha Mar and the Chinese New Years Festival. China Travel Services has agreed to charter three flights into The Bahamas from China during the 2015 New Years Festival.
CEO of Bahamaren Latrae Rahming also met with the directors from China Travel Services, and noted their concerns regarding the lack of Mandarin-speaking tour operators in The Bahamas. There was a mutual agreement that The Bahamas offered a better product over its competitors, but a non-existing direct flight is a disadvantage among the competition for Chinese travelers. The directors of China Travel Services requested that Bahamaren increase its target of 10,000 Chinese considering the amount of Chinese traveling to the USA and The Bahamas.
Bahamaren said the partnership is a "strong strategic fit, leveraging the two companies' respective strengths", and focusing on the main areas: Leisure travel services, customized itineraries, business travel services, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) and destination management, visa assistance and travel insurance.
China Travel Service (U.S.A.), Inc. is the oldest and largest travel company focusing on Mainland China and Hong Kong, with over 300 offices in China. CTS is the largest conglomerate in the country, with assets exceeding US$3.9 billion.
"Today's announcement with industry leader China Travel Service is another solid step in our journey to build on our foundation in tourism and become a leader in the Caribbean in the travel service era," said Latrae Rahming, Bahamaren chairman and CEO.
"This partnership will help us fully deliver on our tourism strategy by giving us the strong back-end capabilities and the business foundation in tourism and hospitality, in addition to our already strong position in Asia consultancies. China Travel Service is the perfect partner to help us fully realize the tourism opportunity in the long term."

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News Article

February 25, 2014
BTVI students encouraged to make healthy choices

Beauty, health and fitness were all rolled into one as over 20 exhibitors recently participated in The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute's (BTVI) Wellness Fair.
People flocked to eager participants who were armed with information, samples and ready to demonstrate their skills at the Soldier Road campus of the effort led by the Student Affairs Department to encourage the BTVI family and the public to make healthy choices.
"This fair addresses the whole person," said BTVI's Manager and Consultant Dr. Iva Dahl.
"Take the time to invest in a healthy lifestyle because when you do so, you spend less time at the doctor."
Coordinator of Student Affairs Racquel Bethel said that at BTVI, they believe in taking care of the needs of the entire man.
"We provide technical education, but we also want to equip them with the necessary tools to embrace daily wellness," she said.
Free blood pressure screening, wellness and community resource information, entertainment, demonstrations, giveaways and healthy snacks were the order of the day.
Gio Cooper, owner and chef of Da' Bahamian Vegan, considered his company's participation not only as a good opportunity to promote vegan food but the healthy lifestyle concept on the whole.
"We want people to eat healthy; it doesn't have to be a vegan lifestyle. We want people to rethink their eating habits," said the 28-year-old.
Dr. Alvira Higgs, naturopathic specialist and founder of Healthy Lifestyle Center said education is key to healthy living and applauded BTVI for its efforts.
"Young people need this. They need to know from their youth and then they would go into adulthood making healthier decisions. I became a vegetarian 42 years ago. That was the last time I had animal products. I make everything from scratch, including oat burgers," said Dr. Higgs.
Additionally, Keithera Ferguson, who completed BTVI in December 2013 said the information she obtained during the wellness fair was invaluable.
"I had some fever grass tea. It helps to flush out toxins. Also, the nutritional information was really educational and I'm now even considering getting a cleanse," said the 22-year-old.
Ivan Thompson, a member of the public, expressed his enthusiasm about attending the fair. He said it fell in line with one of his goals for 2014.
"I just did my first colonoscopy therapy. I don't want to be a statistic. I'm also drinking a gallon of water per day. I had oats for breakfast this morning and will be having barley for lunch. As you know, the health of the nation is the wealth of the nation. This year, I have made a conscious decision to practice healthy living," he said.

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News Article

November 18, 2013
Romora Bay renovates and builds fitness centre with high hopes for upcoming season

HARBOUR ISLAND, The Bahamas -- Two years after its name made headlines round the world as the resort where the world's most sought-after runaway, the Barefoot Bandit, was captured, Romora Bay Club & Resort in Harbour Island is preparing for a different kind of attention. The colourful harbourfront property is upgrading rooms and baths, building a fitness centre and renovating common areas hoping for the best season since the economic freefall in 2008.
"The bookings, particularly for the marina, look good," said Client Manager Anne Ward. "So this year when we closed during the fall, we plowed full speed ahead with renovations." Only local contractors and artisans were considered for the work that will top $500,000. Contractor Christopher Ritchie was awarded the main contract and Gregory Higgs, the contract for the gym next to the dock master's office.
Timing for the makeover was not accidental.
This summer, the marina was chockablock full for American Independence weekend, the first time every one of its 40 slips was filled since the marina opened in 2008. Romora Bay earned environmental praise by building the marina without dredging, by declining the lucrative option of selling fuel, placing a dye in docking vessels so any discharge into the harbor would be detected and by creating an educational experience for youngsters with areas protected areas under the docks.
"Dredging, particularly if it is not coordinated with the outgoing tide, churns up sand and silt that covers coral reefs, damaging fragile life," explained a spokesman for Bonachella Investments, which owns the historic property on nearly six acres of some of Harbour Island's most treasured land. "Fortunately, we were able to complete without dredging because of the depth of the seabed and the design of the docks."

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News Article

April 19, 2012
Swimmers jump back into the pool

Now that the CARIFTA Swimming Championships are over, local swimmers will now turn their attention to higher level meets in the region and international arenas.
Meets on the Bahamas Swimming Federation's (BSF) radar include the Caribbean Island Swimming Championships (CISC), the London Olympic Games and the FINA World Swimming Championships. The trio of swimming meets is all penciled in after the hosting of the Royal Bank of Canada National Swimming championships, June 14-17 at the Betty Kenning Kelly National Swim Complex. The CISC is scheduled to start five days after the national championships. This meet will be held in Aruba.
Another big event on the calendar is the London Olympic Games. So far Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace is the only out right qualifier, Alana Dillete has an Olympic invitational time. The FINA World Swimming Championships are slated for December 12-16 in Istanbul. No swimmer or team has been ratified for these meets as yet.
President of the BSF Algernon Cargill explained, "We expect to have a strong team mostly made up of CARIFTA swimmers [for the CISC]. You will see the same swimmers all over again, so based on performances we expect to do very well. As you know Laura Morley was out of the water, we expect her to be back for CISC and do well. She is back in school, which is good. She is going to be training in two weeks and based on her fitness and her ability, we expect her to do well at CISC and at nationals.
"We expect her (Vanderpool-Wallace) to do her best. We don't want to put any pressure on her, in terms of medaling, but given her confidence and the way she has been swimming, we expect her to do extremely well at the games. If she doesn't medal we understand. The competition is very tough, but she is a fierce competitor and we expect her to represent The Bahamas extremely well at the Olympic games."
Like the CARIFTA Swimming Championships, the expectation for the nationals is high. The meet is the last opportunity swimmers will get to qualify for the Olympic games.
The Bahamas played host to some 18 countries from around the Caribbean last weekend, when the BSF staged the CARIFTA Swimming Championships. Overall, Team Bahamas was second with 49 medals - 13 gold, 20 silver and 16 bronze. Trinidad and Tobago secured 54 medals and Jamaica 63. However, the 26 gold medals captured by Trinidad and Tobago gave them the top spot. Jamaica had 25 gold medals over the four-day period. The remaining medals won by Trinidad and Tobago were 17 silver and 11 bronze.
"The feedback was fantastic," said Cargill. "We got positive feedback from all of the delegations as well as members of the public. They told members of our committee that this was the best CARIFTA that they have ever been to."
He continued, "We are continuing to receive a lot of accolades from our sister countries, telling us how well it went. They actually want The Bahamas to host it again. They had such a good time at the meet, in terms of the organization."
Swimmers will continue to train and compete in local meets. This weekend the Orcas Swim club will host its annual swim meet followed by the Sea Waves Aquatic Team and the Sea Bees Swim Club later on.

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News Article

November 13, 2013
Sir Arlington Butler smells his roses

"In the early 1970s, when I started my career in the Olympic Movement as secretary of the Canadian Olympic Committee, I attended my first PASO (Pan American Sports Organization) meeting and there I met the remarkable Arlington Butler, a man almost as large as the country he represented. He was urbane, confident and articulate, filled with and radiating with confidence on all matters discussed. I expected that little has changed in that regard over the years. He was fun to be with and added immeasurably to the conviviality of the PASO meetings.
"As time went on, his renown increased, to match his girth. First, he became the Honourable Arlington Butler and, in due course, Sir Arlington Butler, a distinction he bore with effortless grace. He was never excessively formal. Close friends were permitted to refer to him as 'Most Honoured and Respected Sir'. This becoming modesty only added to his reputation. I am sorry to say that, with my own expanding Olympic responsibilities, I gradually began to miss more and more PASO meetings, a sacrifice that I felt only in a diminishing lack of opportunity to maintain regular contact with Arlington. I am sorry that I cannot be with you in person as you recognize him this evening, but extend my own congratulations and best wishes on this occasion."
This message was signed by none other than Dick Pound, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) member in Canada. This was only one of the tributes that Sir Arlington Butler, a man from Brougham St. and Farm Road, received on the occasion of him being awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Award, the highest award that could be given by the IOC, at Government House on Friday, November 1, 2013.
Pound, a Montreal lawyer, became the first president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). He also ran unsuccessfully for the presidency of the International Olympic Committee against Jacques Rogge, this year's outgoing president.
Numerous friends from the Caribbean came to The Bahamas to join in the celebration. They sung Sir Arlie's praises. Unfortunately, few Bahamians have had the opportunity to see Sir Arlington in action on the world sporting stage. Sir Arlington was the longest serving president of the Bahamas Olympic Association, now Committee (BOC). He served from 1973-2008. Not many presidents of any organization around the world have served for that long. At his side through thick and thin was his wife, Lady Sheila Butler. Lady Sheila died in August of this year. She would have enjoyed this occasion.
About five years after the end of his reign, the BOC decided to honor Sir Arlington in a big way that fit the persona of Sir Arlington. He was elected after the one year stint of Dr. Norman Gay and preceded Wellington Miller in the presidency.
Sir Arlington served as the sixth president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), from 1964-1968. During his presidency of the Olympic body, The Bahamas won numerous Olympic medals in track and field, the sport Sir Arlie got his start in.
They started in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain, when Frank Rutherford became the first Bahamian to capture a track and field medal at the Olympic Games. Rutherford won a bronze medal in the men's triple jump.
Coming down to the end of his presidency, during the Olympic Games, in 2004 in Athens, Greece, Tonique Williams-Darling won the gold medal in the 400 meters (m) and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie captured the bronze medal in the 200m. His contributions will be remembered for a long time.
On Friday November 1 at Government House along with family and friends, Sir Arlington Butler, a man from Brougham St. and Farm Road who walked with royalty and men and women of influence, got an opportunity to "smell the roses". We say: "Well done Sir Arlington!"

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News Article

November 13, 2013
WTO accession to leave manufacturing, agriculture 'vulnerable'

With the government in the midst of its World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, manufacturing and agriculture are just some of the industries that are "very concerned" with the liberalization of trade, saying that it will leave them "extremely vulnerable" to the importation of goods.
Though it's an "exciting" time in the area of trade for the country, Chairman of The Bahamas Trade Commission Philip Galanis stressed that these negotiations require a delicate balancing act. And while he admits that it might be quite some time before The Bahamas receives WTO accession, progress is being made.
"It really creates a dichotomous situation, while we understand the needs and concerns of the producers, the government also has to take into account the needs of citizens who want products at a cheaper price," he said.
"Egg producers are very concerned because there is an excess of eggs in the Bahamian market presently. Part of the reason is because the food stores are saying that they can buy eggs cheaper from the U.S.
"So they feel threatened or vulnerable to what's happening. They are hoping that the government will help them in a way, either by increasing tariffs on imports, or limiting the number of importation."
Galanis was speaking at the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA)'s Accountants Week on the topic "Regional Comparisons & Initiatives, Reciprocity Agreements, WTO, GATS & CARICOM Perspectives" at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort yesterday.
While the concerns that have been voiced to him are legitimate, Galanis believes at the end of the day the pros of international trade agreements like WTO and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) far outweighs the cons.
"We want to help accountants to understand what does WTO mean for them, whether it's cross border trade, where people will be able to come to The Bahamas and provide services. How is that going to impact the profession? Is it something that they should be concerned about?" he said.
"I don't think it is, but I believe that some people have that fear with the opening up of the borders and the liberalization of trade. That means local professions, not only accountants, might see their business being adversely impacted by foreign competition. I think just the opposite is true.
"With the liberalization of trade, what we are likely to see [is] the levels of income increase, the level of investment increase, more opportunities for Bahamians not only at home but also abroad."
Like value-added tax (VAT), Galanis said WTO negotiations are very much in the early stages. However, the EPA's negotiation process has been accelerated.
"It's a very exciting time in the area of trade because a whole lot of things are coming together now, EPA, WTO, VAT, tax reform. All of these are timely and they are coming almost in a way where the hand fits the glove and hopefully it's going to be a comfortable fit," he added.

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News Article

November 19, 2013
Wilchcombe: Incredible interest in GB casino contract

Two months before the Memories Grand Bahama Beach and Casino Resort is set to open, the government has still not made a decision as to who will operate its casino.
However, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe told Guardian Business that the decision will be made by the end of this week.
He said in an attempt to ensure the government finds the right fit, it is carefully vetting additional operators that have expressed interest in operating the casino.
"At the end of the day, we are looking for the best player. While there are still three companies that are being considered, the truth is there are some other people that have come in and you don't want to turn them away," he revealed.
"We are going to look for a casino operator that's going to be comparable with what we have here in the capital and in Bimini. You cannot think about rejuvenating Grand Bahama's economy without ensuring that the gaming group that would be allowed to run the casino in Freeport could bring us the kind of leverage and longevity that we require.
"We want to give Grand Bahama that long-term growth as opposed to the boom bust because we have made mistakes in the first two casinos, the one that exists now and the one before."
Wilchcombe, who also has responsibility for gaming, stressed that the new casino partner has to be in place in time for the hotel's January 16 opening.
He said the number of operators that have expressed interest in the casino has been "incredible" and it continues to increase.
"Recently, we just had another three companies that have showed interest. Obviously there has been a lot of interest but the interest continues to pile on. That has been one of the most incredible things," according to Wilchcombe.
"With Sunwing coming in, you're beginning to see the bookings and the interest is being enhanced. That's why we're seeing one or two other companies that have expressed interest in the casino."
The government had initially indicated that it might wrap up the selection of an operator for the casino by as early as June of this year.
The hotel will come on stream in sync with the start of direct service by Sunwing Travel Group Inc. - which owns Blue Diamonds Hotels and Resorts - from six cities in Canada into Grand Bahama.
And based on current projections, an opening at this time would allow the resort to open at around the same time as the new casino operator takes over the operation of the nearby Treasure Bay Casino.

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News Article

November 22, 2013
Rum festival set to draw 'thousands'

In February, The Bahamas will host its first rum festival and organizers are looking for thousands to come to the event.
Come next year, Festival Rum Bahamas, a celebration of rum, food and culture, will be placed on the country's cultural calendar.
The festival's organizers believe this unique event will provide an opportunity for Bahamians to showcase their creative side, while bringing a much needed economic boost.
Event chairperson Alexandra Maillis-Lynch estimates between 5,000 and 7,000 will attend the inaugural event.
"We believe that as a country it is time to stop waiting for things to come to us, we have to create our own destiny. So far tourism has been pretty general, going after almost a generic tourist. What we're looking for now is a specific market because they are the ones that are often more loyal. They follow product. The rum festival world is in fact a huge one," she told Guardian Business in an interview yesterday.
"It will create employment, particularly for young adults, through construction and creative ideas how to set up and run a booth, train and learning what it takes to run a successful event/business. As Bahamians, it gives us an opportunity to showcase our creative skills."
"We're hoping for between 5,000 to 7,000. But ideally, we would like 9,000 people. That's comparable to events that are done on the island because we have done our research."
Lynch is also the festival's creator and visionary and said organizers are excited to share the history, food and culture of The Bahamas in this unique way.
"The Bahamas has a lot to offer, more than sun, sand and sea. We wanted to create a festival that showcased aspects of our history that we don't typically celebrate - piracy, rum-running, and how those past events have given birth to our distinct flavors and a culture of appreciation for the art and beauty of rum making," according to Maillis-Lynch.
Festival Rum Bahamas is expected to be an enticing mixture of local, regional and international rum exhibitors.
During the three-day festival, there will be product sampling, master classes on rum, bartending and cocktail competitions, as well as Caribbean music and food.
The festival organizers are promising that the 2014 Festival Rum Bahamas will be regionally competitive and offer a unique cultural experience for Bahamians and visitors.
The blue ribbon event of the festival will be 2014 Mixologist Competition, where the best bartenders in the region will compete to win gold, silver or bronze medals for the best rum cocktail.
The Ministry of Tourism is also onboard, as the festival's marketing partner. Tourism officials believe that Festival Rum Bahamas is an "excellent" fit with the country's tourism product, providing another compelling reason for visitors to come to The Bahamas.

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News Article

November 26, 2013
Healthy lifestyles at Christmas

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the holiday season can be a challenge.
When everyone else around you is eating ham, turkey, macaroni, peas and rice, rum cake, fruitcake or any other holiday special, you may be trying to hold out.
It may have been a resolution made at the beginning of the year, a promise to lose weight and lower the risk of health-related illnesses.
On the first day that you are tempted, you may say to yourself that you've been down this road before and you faltered. You may have also hated yourself in January and swore not to give in this year.
So you stick to your diet or healthy lifestyle. You don't want high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems or other health-related issues that arise from an unhealthy lifestyle.
While there is nothing wrong with holiday food, there are those who wish to abstain in an effort to eat healthy.
But as most doctors would say, starving yourself for three days and pigging out on the fourth is not the right idea.
Skipping to the third day, when you are surrounded by family and friends and the food is being shared, you say to yourself that a little bit of ham and macaroni won't kill you. Then, you secretly break in to your parents' home and pilfer as much ham and turkey as you can.
Does this sound familiar?
Janine Carey, co-owning manager at Liquid Nutrition in Old Fort Bay, said that the best way to avoid giving in to unhealthy foods during the holiday season is to promote the change you want to see.
"I think we have to get to a point where the majority of what we eat creates health assets - food that doesn't lead to illness," she said.
"If we have to eat those foods in excess, we should only do it in small portions.
"If it only accounts for 10 percent of your diet and you are only having that once, it isn't the end of the world.
"But if you know that 90 percent of what you eat is not filled with nutritious ingredients you have to change the way you eat."
Carey said attending family functions where heavy food will be served can be tempting, but bringing healthy alternatives can make a difference.
"If I go to a family function and I know there is a lot of heavy but delicious food, I take the initiative to bring a healthy dish to contribute to the buffet," she said.
"And slowly, over time maybe, I'll influence my aunt to change her way of eating.
"You have to be the person to promote the change."
G-Fit Academy President Charles Johnson noted that one should not stop exercising during the Christmas season.
"If you are consuming those unhealthy things, don't take a break from exercising during the holiday season," Johnson said.
"Exercising and being active would help to keep your calories down."
Johnson noted that if one is maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the entire year, the holiday season should not be so challenging.
"We run into trouble when we are accustomed to eating bad all year and then when the Christmas season comes around we tend to over indulge," he said.
"My whole thing is changing your lifestyle first."

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News Article

November 30, 2013
From kitchen star to Salvation Army chef

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) --
Jeff Ansorge once commanded a staff of 17 and made around $80,000 a year as executive chef at a posh downtown Minneapolis restaurant where a 24-ounce dry aged Porterhouse steak goes for $48. But he gave it all up to become the head cook of a Salvation Army soup kitchen, where the meals are free. Now he brings his culinary skills to bear making salmon, ribs and stews for the poor and homeless who come to The Salvation Army Eastside Corps Community Center in St. Paul. For the Thanksgiving meal that's being served Wednesday, Ansorge planned a traditional feast of turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and rolls, served on tables covered with white tablecloths.
"It is not your old-fashioned soup kitchen where you get a bowl of soup and a piece of bread and (are) sent on your way. He makes phenomenal meals that you would pay quite a bit of money to go to a restaurant and have," Salvation Army Capt. John Joyner said of Ansorge, who left The Capital Grille to run the soup kitchen.
The clients agree. "This is outstanding. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give him an 8-and-a-half, yep," Donnie Richardson, 55, a homeless man from St. Paul, said over a meal of chicken thighs, rice and mixed vegetables in the center's white-walled gymnasium. Ansorge, 40, says a spiritual awakening led him to his new job at the soup kitchen in October 2012, making just onethird of his previous salary. "I went through a divorce. I was suffering from major depression for four years. And my priorities were all wrong,"Ansorge recalled while standing near the center's pantry shelves. "I wanted the highpaying job. I wanted the big house. I wanted the cars. I wanted all that. And ultimately, none of that satisfied me."Ansorge started cooking when he was 16 at a mom-andpop restaurant. He went to school in Rhode Island, earning degrees in culinary arts and food service management before joining The Capital Grille, where he spent 12 years.Now Ansorge is lucky to get as many as three volunteers to help him in the soup kitchen. On a recent Thursday, Ansorge -- a trim man with short gray hair -- set up the tables, seasoned, seared and baked the chicken thighs, dished up meals and wiped down the tables afterward. Instead of a traditional white chef's hat and uniform, he wears a dark blue T-shirt with the words "SHIELD CREW" in white with the red Salvation Army insignia, and blue jeans.
Raised Catholic, Ansorge -- a former altar boy -- said he drifted away from his faith in his 20s and 30s. Despite his prominent position at the restaurant, Ansorge said he was spiraling downward.
"My priorities were backwards. I had a big mortgage, I had car payments, I had credit card debts," Ansorge said. "And now I have none of that."He sent about 10 applications to mainly Christian nonprofits, hoping to make a change. He chose The Salvation Army because "it's a nonprofit that works with people that need help."
Joyner said The Salvation Army initially felt Ansorge was overqualified. But none of the other candidates seemed a good fit.
"His credentials are unbelievable. He could easily be making two, three times what he makes working for us. But he told us that he wanted to give back and he really wanted to do this," Joyner said.
Susan Dunlop, chef and coowner of Joan's In The Park restaurant in St. Paul, worked with Ansorge for nearly three years at The Capital Grille. She says she's not surprised by his decision.
"That's his true passion. He wanted to do something where he was giving back to the community," Dunlop said. "It's who he is. He needs to do that to be happy."
Ansorge didn't just bring cooking skills. Joyner said Ansorge's shopping skills save the organization money.
Ansorge said he looks for bargains on food nearing its expiration date that grocery stores don't want to sell but has been frozen and is salvageable. The Salvation Army also has a partnership with the Second Harvest Heartland food bank that allows it to get 40-pound cases of mixed poultry for $5, he said. Before Ansorge came to the soup kitchen, The Salvation Army spent $28,000 on its lunch program at the East Side center. In Ansorge's first year there, he spent $13,000 on the lunch program. The center serves from 80 to 140 people each day at its Monday through Friday noon meal.
Ansorge also tries to bring nutritional value to whatever meal he serves. For some, it may be their only meal of the day.
He's eliminated desserts and cut back on the fat and sugars in meals.
"I don't want to feed them anything that I wouldn't eat,"he said. "I try to feed them something that I would feed to my own family."

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News Article

March 01, 2014
Problems with the mindset of police

Dear Editor,
I find it interesting that the people who castigate the government the most over crime are the same ones crying over the fact the police commissioner and the government have placed the police force on 12-hour shifts.
I have a few things to say about that. To begin with, I am not fond of the police commissioner, the governing party or the misfits in the opposition party. They're all heartlessly ruthless when it comes to the common people who sustain them.
The editorial writers of the major newspapers have not given any rational thought to the Bahamian dilemma and who created it. They are as one-sided and two-faced as can be. I leave that for another time.
The police force is known to be the Royal Bahamas Police Force. I presume the uniform they wear belongs to the government of The Bahamas. The arms they bear likewise belong to the government of The Bahamas. The instruments they use also belong to the government of The Bahamas.
This question I pose: How is it then that these supposedly overworked men and women are allowed to become security guards at many businesses including grocery stores after having completed a shift at their regular jobs? These same "overworked" police officers can be seen guarding establishments using uniforms and weapons provided from the public purse.
Until this time when these people need them the most, they are joined in their complaints about being overworked which renders them unable to perform.
Maybe we will all be better served if members of the opposing party "who care so much for the people" don police uniforms and volunteer to truly show how much they care rather than profiling for every photographic opportunity to show the members of the governing party. They are all culpable in this charade of deceit.
There was a time when Dennis Morgan created the modern Royal Bahamas Police marching band. It traveled all over the world bringing accolades and appreciation to our country. They were good ambassadors.
Today, we have, in my opinion, something less than one would expect. On reflection there seem to me to be three or four police bands. Maybe I exaggerate, however the point is are they police officers or entertainers?
A year ago I watched for a short time what was supposed to be a beat retreat ceremony. I was appalled at what was displayed. Crass! No Class! It could not even be billed as third-rate entertainment. How come we have these third-rate bands popping up all over in the public service? Who pays for the uniforms and instruments they use on the private jobs, at hotels, at Junkanoo, at funerals, private concerts, etc.?
These "overtired policemen" can find time for everything under the sun to make extra money, yet it strains them to perform their public duties.
No wonder some of them are tired. Some of them look like pregnant elephants - male and female alike. Is there no mandatory fitness program for them to adhere to as police officers?
Of course this is not a new phenomenon. It appears a lack of discipline has been the norm for too many years.
In conclusion, the people of The Bahamas should demand more and better. The commissioner should not make promises he does not intend to keep. The government should demand more accounting for the people's money spent. The opposition should throw away the Republican Party's playbook which says oppose all, oppose everything that is good along with that which is not.
I have no advice for the newspapers as they are all Gods unto themselves. They daily throw out the baby with the bath water and exalt the demon. They are beyond hope and common decency.
I do have some unsolicited advice for the governing party: Concentrate on doing what is good for the people.
The people of the Dominican Republic have it right: Care for your own before some stranger.
It would not surprise me one bit to learn that of all the people in the branches of government, I mean the politicians and indeed of the civil servants, per capita employ more expatriates in their homes and offices, private and public, than they do people they represent.
Indeed this is a land of hypocrites, not to speak of those pretentious church leaders who live like kings as they strut across the stage of life while their members, nay brothers and sisters, barely scratch out the essentials and are told constantly to give, give, give. When you are unable to give then we will give you a going away service which we will charge your survivors for.
When I was a boy every church had several services on Sunday and others throughout the week along with morning and afternoon Sunday school. That practice has disappeared along with prayer meetings. Today we have expensive majestic buildings with no God inside other than the preachers dressed to kill in silk brocade and $1,000 shoes which the congregation pays for unknowingly.
Yes, the police department has gone to the dogs and the country along with it. Indeed the dogs have been let out. Now is it too late to ask: "Who let the dogs out?" Too late, too late, is the cry! Dogs done gone!

- George Capron

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News Article

March 26, 2014
Changing the conversation: Assessing VAT and the nation's fiscal crisis

Anyone watching the news or reading the newspapers in the past few months would have heard some elements of the government's planned implementation of value-added tax (VAT). The private sector has mounted opposition to the introduction of VAT and some have raised concerns whether VAT is the best taxation regime to wrestle the gloomy state of the national finances. It should be stated at the outset that VAT is widely employed and recognized in many developed countries as an appropriate model for modern tax collection.
With the publication of the white paper and the value-added tax bill, there is no doubt that the introduction of VAT is a major and radical policy shift in our post-independence fiscal management. If introduced, it will amount to the alteration of an archaic taxation regime that has been in place from the colonial days. It too will have the distinction of modernizing our approach to taxation matters and hopefully will signal a new paradigm in the collection and allocation of the state's finances. The planned introduction of VAT has major consequences for The Bahamas and therefore it is vitally critical for members of the public to be informed and engaged in the consultative process. Given these realities, it is imperative for the public dialogue to be analytical, informative and frank.
VAT is generally considered a complex and robust tax. Although VAT is not the most progressive of taxation methods, it is viewed as having vast benefits in a multi-tax regime principally because it is a consumption tax. VAT is similar to retail (or sales) tax but is collected in smaller increments throughout the production or service delivery process. Its method of collection does not allow the "full" tax to be paid by the final consumer.

The tax is collected by all entities providing taxable goods and services and is imposed on sales to all purchasers. It allows for a set-off of a business' VAT liability from that of the amount paid for the purchase of the goods and services delivered to the consumer. It has a net-like-effect in the calculation of the total VAT liability owed to the government.
There is need for further explanation and discussion as to whether the "Bahamian" design of VAT will be based on a broad consumption base by an inclusion of all forms of government services. There must also be further consideration to whether there will be neutrality between public and private sector provision of goods and services. Additionally, deliberation must also be given to whether VAT will employ a credit-invoice method and if there is value in the imposition of the intended multi-rate as opposed to a single uniform rate. There has not been sufficient discussion about the increased administrative burden it will place on businesses and the government and whether the rate(s) will be high enough to raise sufficient revenue to accomplish the tax reform measures. These are weighty matters that require broad consultation and public education so that the implementation is progressive and seamless.
Further, special consideration must be given to small businesses and those entities which carry out non-commercial services in light of the added costs associated with VAT compliance. At present, the definitions of "business" and "taxable activity" in the bill are broad enough to include some charitable and religious services and possibly certain non-commercial government services. Although the bill exempts services relating to religious and charitable functions, all ancillary services may not be exempt. This was the experience in the United Kingdom (for example) where children's clothing had a zero rate VAT but some items in that category were still not exempt (i.e., a basic T-shirt versus one with embellishments).
It is interesting that the bill seeks to create a distinction in the taxes collected from goods and services for local and international consumption. This approach questions whether our present economic model justifies such a division given the limited taxpayer base. We also must examine whether there is any merit in retaining the payment of license fees in the port area in Grand Bahama under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement if VAT is to create a broad base tax regime. Emphasis must also be directed at ensuring that poor Bahamians are not unduly saddled with a greater taxation burden. In this regard, the bill provides exempt status for certain basic food items and services. The question is whether the identified exempted goods are adequate to provide the required protection for the poor and marginalized. It must be noted that some critical services are not subject to zero exemption, albeit they are heavily utilized by the poor.
There are clear advantages if VAT's application is broad based and levied as a single rate. It should stimulate economic efficiency and can also increase consumers' choice. It can also have the effect of allowing consumers to properly and wisely allocate resources in a democratic fashion.
The rationale for the exemption of financial services and international transactions requires further public explanation. The intent may have been to blindly continue the decades' old "protectionism" of foreign banks and financial service providers. For local banks and financial services providers that are majority owned by Bahamians who cater to a predominant foreign clientele, no exemption should apply. Similarly, foreign banks and financial institutions, whose shareholders are predominantly non-Bahamians and whose control is outside the geographical waters of The Bahamas, should not enjoy exempt status. These matters should be further reviewed within the context of whether VAT will be a barrier to the further expansion of the Bahamian financial services sector and the overall economic growth across all sectors.
It must also be recognized that unlike other nations that have employed VAT, the national conversation is not centered on the introduction of VAT in conjunction with the harmonization of income or capital gains taxes. This means that our approach should be fundamentally different to that of the United Kingdom and New Zealand (and other OECD countries). The primary focus should be to attain the greatest potential for overall revenue generation by taxing goods and services enjoyed by all consumers, particularly those who may repatriate savings and profits to onshore or other offshore jurisdictions without the payment of taxes under the present structure.
Our present taxation regime is unitary and based on fixed rates for business licenses and customs duties. Even within this simple system of taxation, noncompliance is remarkably high. It is also true that no matter the taxation method or model, tax evasion is inevitable. In the U.S.A., income tax evasion is projected at between 18-20 percent. It is possible that in The Bahamas the rate of tax evasion is at the higher threshold of 40 percent for customs duties, real property tax and business licenses. The government hopefully has built into its revenue projections and analysis a reasonable percentage for tax evasion, as VAT will not likely put an end to the culture of tax noncompliance. In fact, it may be arguable that tax evasion may be simplified and enlarged with the introduction of VAT, as it may lend to counterfeit inputs and "ghost" transactions. The United Kingdom pegs its tax evasion for VAT to around 13 percent and in OECD countries it is around 18 percent on average. The experience of the developed economies is that VAT is more prone to evasion when more categories of goods and services are excluded and multiple rates are utilized. There are other valuable experiences and lessons that we must take stock of and seek to find creative ways to eliminate in the Bahamian roll-out of VAT.
Government spending and tax collection
Thus far the debate on the new tax has placed too little emphasis on the relationship between VAT and the growth of government spending. Assuming that the government is able to raise more revenue with VAT it must not be a panacea for an exponential increase in government spending and the expansion of government noncommercial services. The fact that there is a need for a more modern approach to taxation demands that the government similarly create a legislative frame that ties government spending to the total amount of taxes actually collected in any fiscal period. There must be dual responsibility and accountability on the taxpayer and the government in the collection, allocation and spending of the tax dollars.
Bahamians fully understand that the government requires a broader tax regime to meet the growing demands of the society. Bahamians are also in tune with the culture of non-tax compliance, which is across all economic classes. Thus far the debate is glaringly and intellectually hypocritical by the failure or refusal to discuss all of the other available options for tax-credit expansion. There is a need therefore for the policymakers to engage in a larger purposeful discussion about taxation (period) and the best measures to increase taxes, albeit in a grueling recession. The debate must also focus on the "new" measures and methods that must be introduced to improve tax collection. There is no denying that presently the government is doing a lousy job in collecting real property tax and in the assessment and collection of customs duties and business license fees. Just as the present system allows for tax evasion, one hopes that the culture of a few paying the tax bill will not remain a staple of our fiscal discipline and management.
Governments are elected to lead. But they are also elected to govern responsibly, sensibly and fairly. There is no fairness in a taxation model that will drive people into poverty and create a further burden on those who are not able to meet the basic needs of human existence. The Bahamian people are duty bound to reject any taxation regime that favors over-taxing the poor or that creates a windfall for those who can afford to pay more.
The honorable prime minister was correct when he suggested that the government should slow down the process. At present there remains too many unanswered questions, and too many other viable options that require public explanation as to why they cannot be employed to fix the nation's fiscal crisis. It is therefore incumbent on the government to change the conversation and to review all options, inclusive of a payroll tax, to assess and determine if there are other robust models which can be implemented to assist in the expansion of the tax base. The government must also lead by example and must demonstrate to the public that it recognizes that it must reduce waste, foolish and extravagant expenditure and poor fiscal planning. It can lead by recognizing the constitutional provisions on the size of Cabinet and by creating a more lean, responsive and progressive public sector.
There is much merit in a simple and easy to understand taxation regime that better aids in tax compliance.
The government should revisit its overall taxation strategy and devise a plan that fits well within the nation's future needs and achieves our international competitiveness. The fact is that there can be no new taxation regime without an engaging public dialogue. Leadership on these matters demands a pragmatic approach to the nation's daunting fiscal challenges and the full engagement of the Bahamian people. The process must be transparent, intellectual in its analyses and focused on improving the quality of the tax product (VAT or a viable alternative).
o Raynard Rigby is an attorney and former chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party.

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News Article

March 06, 2014
Mitchell: Sexual preference irrelevant in election

Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said yesterday that a person's sexual preference should be irrelevant to whether he or she should be elected to public office.
Mitchell made the statement when asked if an open member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community could ever be elected to Parliament or even as leader of the country.
"Martin Luther King said it is the content of your character," said Mitchell at a press conference at the House of Assembly.
"That's the only thing that matters. That's what this country stands for, the content of your character."
Mitchell said his aspiration for leadership is no secret and that people have used his support for LGBT rights to say he should be disqualified from ever attempting to lead the country.
"I don't want to start a whole other thing again," he said.
"There is no vacancy at the moment. When it comes I don't see any reason to step back from the breach."
In a recent speech in Trinidad and Tobago, Mitchell said that his political career suffers because of his support for LGBT rights. The Guardian yesterday asked him to explain that statement.
"There is a race for succession going on in the country," he said.
"So everybody is trying to look and see who in the prospective future might emerge as leaders or a leader of the country.
"Now there are some people who obviously are aware of my ambitions in that direction.
"It's not something that I have been hiding.
"There is no vacancy in the country at the moment. So the question doesn't arise. But that doesn't stop people from trying to plot and scheme into the future and say this fellow, I want to stop him if I can.
"So what do you do, you try to attack [his] intellect, you try to attack the ideas, you say all kinds of things.
"So you try all sorts of things. Now the most recent attack here is, because none of that works, because of his views on this particular subject of LGBT, that disqualifies him and of course that's not what they really mean and I'm not going to help them out on this occasion.
"That's not what they really mean. But they are trying to pin something on you and say to the Bahamian people you are unfit to go further."
Bahamas Faith Ministries International President Dr. Myles Munroe said on Sunday the prime minister should replace Mitchell because he does not represent the majority of views of Bahamians.
Munroe was referring to Mitchell's recent comments on LGBT rights.
He said Mitchell seems to have an agenda that may disqualify him from serving in the position as minister of foreign affairs.
Mitchell said yesterday that while he has enjoyed a successful career, the last three days, following Munroe's comments, have proven his point.
"Here you have a man going on a pulpit and saying this person is disqualified for the job he now has because of his views," he said.
"That's what I mean. That proves the point -- not because of the content of his character, not because he is disqualified from office.
"He goes to great extent to say, 'Oh, I respect him and this and that all the rest, but his views disqualify him from going further'."
The PLP is scheduled to hold a convention in November. It is unclear if leadership will be a major factor at that time.

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News Article

February 24, 2014
10 straight for the Scottsdale Vixens!

Winning New Providence Volleyball Association (NPVA) women's titles seems to get easier and easier for the Scottsdale Vixens.
For the second straight year, they have swept the Johnson's Cherry Bombers, formerly the Johnson's Lady Truckers, in the championship series. This coming after being pushed to the limit by their nemesis three years in the championship series. Overall, it's 10 straight NPVA titles for the Vixens.
They won game three comfortably on Sunday, 25-27, 25-19, 25-20 and 25-20, over at the D.W. Davis Gymnasium, and now after winning 10 straight titles, they are showing no signs of slowing down.
"Winning is like second nature to us right now," said middle attacker Krystel Brown.
"What happened is that we added some new players to the mix this year, and some people thought that because we had those new players we wouldn't gel as much. We are the Vixens, and no matter what happens, we will always gel. This is the start of a new era for us. We feel as if the Vixens will always be the team to beat."
One of those new players Brown is referring to is outside attacker Melinda Bastian, one of the better power hitters in the country. Bastian
actually came over to the Vixens from the Bombers, a voluntary move that reportedly still have some players and coaches in the Bombers club fuming.
Be that as it may, the Vixens are certainly reaping the benefits. Bastian was dominant from the outside and at the net yesterday evening, and the sister combination of Cheryse Bain and Krystel Brown providing support, it turned out to be a cakewalk for the Vixens.
"Melinda is strong offensively and defensively. She was huge addition to our team," said Brown. "What Melinda brought was another dimension to this team, and that really helped a lot because we lost Tamaz (Thompson) to COB (College of The Bahamas). We had to make up for Tamaz's departure, particularly on the defensive side, and Melinda brought a combination of offence and defence to our team, so it just seemed to fit right in to what we were doing."
Bastian led the Vixens with 12 kills yesterday, and Bain added 10. Davia Moss had a game-high 14 for the Bombers. Bastian and Brown had two blocks apiece for the Vixens, and Kelsie Johnson led the Bombers, with three. In the service winners department, Laval Sands had a game-high five for the Vixens, and Bastian added two. Moss led the Bombers with three.
The Vixens were completely dominant yesterday, and in the series for that matter. The series was so one-sided, that the Vixens dropped just two sets - one yesterday, and the other in the first game of the best-of-five series last Wednesday. The Vixens outscored the Bombers, 275-232, in the series. The last set, in particular, was indicative as to how the series went for both the Vixens and Bombers. The Vixens got out to an early lead, withstood a mini Bombers rally, and them finished off their opponents with precise passing and timely hits. A few unforced errors and mental mistakes by the Bombers aided their cause as well.
"I think that we got ahead of ourselves at one point in that last set," said Brown yesterday. "We went into that last set thinking that it would be an easy win, and we would put them away easily, but the Bombers is a team with a lot of heart. They are not going to go down without a fight. At the end, we just had to dig down deep and pull out all of the stops."
Meanwhile, game four of the men's championship series between the Scotiabank Defenders and the Technicians will be played on Wednesday night, starting at 8 p.m., at the D.W. Davis Gymnasium. The three-time NPVA Champions Defenders lead that best-of-five series two games to one, after winning game three yesterday, 21-25, 25-23, 25-19 and 25-23.

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News Article

May 18, 2012
Rockets, Bulls show interest in Rony Cadot

Bahamian basketball standout Jean Rony Cadot is increasing his chances of making it to the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The 6' 5" guard will work out with the Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls in a few weeks. In this Nassau Guardian exclusive, Cadot explains that it has always been his dream to play professional basketball.
"I got a call at the end of my senior season here at Texas Christian University (TCU)," said Cadot. "I got a call from the Chicago Bulls first. That was at the end of the season and then one from the Houston Rockets about a week or two weeks ago. I am scheduled to work out with the Rockets at the end of this month and I have an opportunity to train with the Chicago Bulls in the middle of June. I won't say it was hard but I know it was not easy (to get noticed). I feel as though I was putting in the right amount of work during the season on and off the court. All my hard work made for better results and made it easier for something like this to happen."
Even though he is being looked at by two NBA franchises, Cadot said he is still weighing his options. The Rockets organization is based just minutes away from where Cadot stays, and might be a perfect fit for the graduating senior at TCU. In fact, Cadot likes the Rockets' overall look. Of course, he is not counting any team out, but said, "I see more of an opportunity there (Rockets), but I feel like I can contribute to any team. If given the opportunity I would be productive."
The Bulls were the number one seeded team in the east going into the NBA playoffs this year. However, they were eliminated in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers. The Rockets did not advance to the playoffs.
Cadot knows that the transition from college to the professional ranks will not be easy. At TCU, he averaged 11 points per game for the Horned Frogs. He played in 33 games in his senior year and was named to the All-conference team. Cadot had the
second highest field goal percentage for the Horned Frogs this year. It wasn't an easy road for the former C.V. Bethel Stingrays player though. He thanked God for blessing him with the talent and paving the way for him.
He said: "It was tough, especially coming from a situation where my family was not able to provide me with the support I needed. I know that they wanted to but they were not able to. I had to start from scratch and climb my way up when I got over here in the United States and just chase my dreams. I was just willing to do whatever I had to do, as far as being successful on the basketball court and taking care of my school work, is concerned. It was a tough process but I pulled through. I prayed to God and I knew that at the end of the day, He would help me, and He did that.
"Basketball over here is more organized and it provides the opportunities needed to be exposed so it adds pressure. Over here you can play on a high level where people can see you. Back at home sometimes the talent is overlooked and it is not appreciated. You don't have the right amount of support and there aren't enough people pushing you. I knew I needed to get out where I could be seen. I was able to be seen and I took off from there. I took full advantage of it and picked up where I started from, at home."
Cadot hopes to bring energy, leadership and maturity to whatever organization he signs with. He said he will do his best to ensure that his team wins. As far as his condition is concerned, he said he's not where he wants to be right now, but plans to improve before the training sessions start.
The guard is also expected to return home and play for the national team at this summer's Centrobasket Championships.

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News Article

May 18, 2012
Men getting ready for Centrobasket

Executive members in the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) are hoping to have all hands on deck when the Centrobasket Championships tip off in June.
Calls were made by men's head coach Mario Bowleg to quite a few professional and college players earlier this year. Local players were also put on notice for the start of national basketball training. When the gym doors were opened, on Monday, Bowleg said the large number of players who were on hand is a positive sign.
"We are very pleased with the turnout," he said. "We weren't too keen about having 100 guys in the gym because we are looking at the guys who played on the CBC (Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championships) team and some of the other players who are in college or playing on the professional level. We want those players come home and play. Right now, in practice, we have persons who have played professional ball like Mitch Johnson, Jeffrey Henfield and Aaron Eneas. The college players are also home right now and we anticipate them competing.
"I just got a word from Bennet Davis this morning, that he has wrapped up his season in Japan and will be heading home some time at the end of the month. That will give him about three weeks to work out with the team prior to departure, so we are looking to improve as far as the statistics are concerned, especially from the last tournament."
The Centrobasket Championships, or the second leg of the qualifying round for Caribbean countries hoping to make it to the ultimate level, will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 18-24. The Bahamas will open up against Cuba on the first day of the tournament, June 18, at 3:30 p.m. Both teams are playing in Group A along with Puerto Rico, Panama and Nicaragua. Over in Group B are the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica.
If Team Bahamas is successful, they would head to the Tournament of Americas in July, which would bring them a step closer to Olympic qualification.
Bowleg said: "If we get all of the personnel that we want I am sure we will qualify. We are still looking at some of the young players like Michael Carey and Shaquille Cleare. We should get a word back from them in short order, as far as it relates to their availability. They should be available, but I think they have to do summer classes. If that is the case, then we hope that they can switch from the early summer classes and do the late summer classes so they can come home and represent their country.
"Some of the other guys, we are working on trying to bring them home but we have to wait on them. Rony Cadot phoned me, on Tuesday, and advised me that he has training camp with the Houston Rockets. He will be working out with the Chicago Bulls too, but he intends to come home when that is finished, so, we in the executive of the BBF and the coaching staff are going to do our endeavor best to put the best team possible together, based on who we have available."
The team will have to use past experience when they head into competition in June since no warm-up tournaments are scheduled. However, Bowleg said a few scrimmage games will be played. Bowleg, who assisted Larry Brown in the last tournament, said the same system will be used but he intends to improve on it so it can fit the talent pool.
Practice sessions are held Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:30 pm, at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs national Gymnasium. It continues on Saturdays at 8 a.m.

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News Article

May 22, 2012
The first 100 days

The first 100 days frame is famously the invention of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as he first took office in 1933 promising a "New Deal" in response to the Great Depression. Since then, the frame has been used to evaluate the early days of new presidential administrations.
During the election campaign the PLP employed the frame detailing for voters what the party promised to accomplish during its first 100 days. The wisdom of utilizing such a frame will become clearer in the months ahead as many will use it in assessing the Christie administration's first months in office.
But it is not that pledge that is the main thrust of today's Front Porch. The first 100 days of a new government also concern the nature of political transitions. The remarkable thing about the transition of office from the FNM to the PLP is that it was unremarkable. After a hard fought election, power was transferred peacefully.
Hubert Ingraham conceded defeat. Perry Christie claimed victory and was sworn in the next day.

Hubert Minnis is now leader of the opposition. There is a new Cabinet in place. What a wonderful democracy and example to the world!
And, no, this was not the most contentious general election we have ever had. There have been elections with more serious incidents of violence and greater invective. This was not 1962 or 1987 when the will of the people was likely thwarted by widespread irregularities and fraud.

Troubling
Yes, there continue to be various corrupt practices including voting irregularities on Election Day and vote-buying. The question of campaign financing, especially from foreign sources, remains a deeply troubling element of our campaigns. Still, our democracy is flawed, not failed.
The usual suspects and some taken in by their hackneyed analysis were again proven wrong. Ninety percent of registered voters cast ballots. The Elizabeth by-election was not predictive of voter turnout in the general election. And the overwhelming number of voters supported one of the major parties.
The PLP's pledge aside, the first 100 days after a change of government offer important clues about the future of a new government and of the opposition. The content of the Speech from the Throne and the debate on the government's legislative agenda will be an early test for the PLP and the FNM.
What are the long-term implications of Prime Minister Christie's Cabinet selections? For example, Christie has appointed Jerome Fitzgerald as minister of education. It takes experienced ministers time to grasp, much less master the bureaucratic behemoth that is the Ministry of Education, the largest ministry.
Just as Hubert Ingraham persuaded Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, an expert and innovative thinker in tourism, to serve as minister of tourism, might Christie have prevailed upon someone like Sean McWeeney to serve as minister of education? It was also curious that Christie chose as speaker of the House of Assembly someone who has no experience in Parliament.
In addition to personnel choices, the immediate and intermediate fiscal and policy choices the newly incumbent administration makes will have longer-term consequences for its success. The assessment by the international credit agency Moody's of the PLP's home mortgage plan presents the new government with of one of its first major policy conundrums.
There are not only the policies and pronouncements of a new government. There is also the tone set over matters like civil service reassignments, the awarding and cancelling of contracts, and other decisions which give voters first impressions of a new administration.

Punting
By example, the country wants quick action on various fronts. Punting critical decisions to commissions or committees will not sit well with a public anxious about crime, jobs and the economy.
It is not only the new government that is in transition. So too, the opposition. With Hubert Ingraham leaving frontline politics, the FNM is set to have a new generation of leaders take center stage in the party and in Parliament. While unhappy with its loss the FNM is not in a defeatist mood.
Having lost, the FNM is now in better position than the PLP to present a new face to younger voters, many who voted for the DNA, and others desirous of a new generation of political leaders.
Following May 7 there has been disingenuous commentary by a handful who queried whether the FNM can survive its loss at the polls. One such sanctimonious pontificator appeared on television offering pompous purple prose masquerading as informed commentary on the FNM's survivability.
The beauty of a verifiable historical record is that it easily rebuts the self-serving historical revisionism by some. The movement and ideals which gave birth to the FNM not only survived, they continue to flourish.
The attempt to stab and perhaps kill Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield the night of the no-confidence vote against Sir Lynden Pindling in 1970 failed. The Free PLP went on to form one of the country's two major parties surviving two decades in opposition before winning office in 1992. As some supporters of the FNM like to say, the party is used to getting a cut (expletive deleted).
The FNM and its leaders survived a vicious attack in 1970 at Lewis Yard in Grand Bahama where Sir Cecil and others were brutally attacked as police officers turned a blind eye. FNM leaders and supporters were denounced as traitors even on ZNS Radio.

Egregious
There was mass victimization of FNMs including the particularly egregious case of Wellington Smith, a Turks Islander living in Inagua who worked at Morton Salt. Though not himself an active FNM supporter he was deported back to the Turks and Caicos because his wife supported the FNM. He had to leave his Bahamian wife and seven children in Inagua.
The Smith family and others were torn apart by this and other acts of victimization by successive Pindling administrations which victimized the FNM rank and file. Some of the bitterness lingers up to this day.
The party went through a disastrous split in 1977. Yet, the FNM survived.

In due course it will return to office just as it rebounded from a worse beating in 2002. Some likewise predicted the demise of the PLP which got a shellacking in 1992 and 1997, only to return to office in 2002 after which it lost power in 2007, and has now returned to government.
Some commentators are still of the view that the natives can't govern themselves, that voters would stay home in droves, and that "this" election - 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012 - would be "the year" of the independents or third parties. That they have been repeatedly proven wrong does not matter. Some prejudices will never give way to facts.
Other disingenuous commentators in a fit of magical thinking want to wish away the FNM because of where their sympathies and interests rest.

It is a like a theology of the absurd in which some people's syllabus of errors and dogmatic certitudes remain untouched by a certain quality of faith or reason.

o frontporchguardian@gmail.com
www.bahamapundit.com

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News Article

May 23, 2012
New Providence Body Building and Fitness Expo announced for June 16th

Nassau, Bahamas - The

New Providence Body Building and Fitness Association will be
hosting, it's first ever

Classic on

June, 16th 2012 8:30pm at the Rain
Forest Theater Cable Beach. The event is in aid of the National Team members
travel to Puerto Rico in October for the CAC Championships, where they
will be trying to better their 2nd place finish in 2011.

The
Classic will be honoring and paying tribute to some of the veteran body
builders and fitness athletes who've won the National titles in
previous years, and have represented the country and won medals at the
CAC level or higher.

Some of the names being
honored are Della Thomas, former middleweight, lightweight and
heavyweight champion as well as CAC medalist..

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News Article

June 06, 2012
FNM hits at Bell over allegations made in Senate

Allegations by State Minister for National Security Keith Bell that the Confiscated Asset Fund (CAF) was used as a "slush fund" under the Ingraham administration, were yesterday dismissed by Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis as "baseless and unbecoming of a minister."
Bell claimed on Monday during debate in the Senate that the Ingraham administration had used the CAF as a slush fund and that the Free National Movement was handing out envelopes of money on election day.
"One has to wonder what purpose Mr. Bell and his colleagues had for the millions of dollars collected from criminals?" Minnis asked yesterday.
"Mr. Bell appears to be completely unfamiliar with the operations of the [CAF] and unfamiliar [with the fact] that the fund is routinely audited by the auditor general, [the report is sent] to the financial secretary in the Ministry of Finance and subsequently tabled in the House of Assembly by the minister of finance."
Minnis continued: "Had he bothered to check [he] would be aware that the last audit report of the CAF was tabled in the House of Assembly in October 2011, reflecting a balance of just under $1 million, and also recording expenditure of funds from the CAF authorized for the acquisition of surveillance equipment, that is electronic monitoring, ammunition and bullet proof vests, aviation training, purchase of aircraft, motor vehicles and motorcycles, mobile police command centers, radar equipment and vessels, all to strengthen the capacity and ability of the [Royal Bahamas Police and the Defence Force]."
Minnis noted that all funds spend from the CAF were approved in Cabinet and in accordance with the Confiscated Asset Fund Act.
"Mr. Bell suffers from a common PLP disease, that of looking in the mirror and rather than themselves, seeing the FNM," Minnis said.
However, Bell yesterday stood by his allegations he made in the Senate on Monday.
He said yesterday he asked the minister of finance to have the CAF audited.
"There is evidence in the records which indicate for instance that monies were used in the funds for electronic monitoring," Bell said.
"The purpose of the Act says that the funds are there for law enforcement and crime fighting strategies and initiatives.
"Electronic monitoring is a mechanism by which persons are released from bail and the court has determined to give them bail and therefore monitoring in that sense is not a crime fighting tool. That is just one of the many things they used the funds for."
Bell said that in 2007, the Christie administration left more than $9.4 million in the fund.
"I am aware that some years ago the police seized almost $20 million in cash in three incidents in Grand Bahama," he said. "I have not seen evidence of...how those funds were disbursed but those funds were not in the account."
Minnis also took aim at Bell's comments that he personally witnessed FNM operatives handing out envelopes of money on election day.

"Mr. Bell might seek to explain why he did not see it fit and necessary to report a crime which he alleges to have seen or which was reported to him," the FNM leader said.

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News Article

June 05, 2012
First Light installs 300 solar bollards for Atlantis

First Light Technologies Ltd., a leading designer of architectural-quality, integrated solar lighting products for pedestrian applications, is pleased to announce that it has designed and installed 300 solar LED bollards for a high-profile client: Atlantis on Paradise Island.
"We successfully designed these lights from the ground up to meet Kerzner International's unique demand for a solar-powered light that would fit a high-end architectural aesthetic, be unobtrusive and yet provide sufficient lighting," said Sean Bourquin, First Light Technologies managing director and co-founder.
The lights, used for landscape lighting and way finding applications around the resort, replaced existing lights.
Because electricity prices at the resort are $0.37 per kilowatt-hour (versus typically $0.12 per kWh in the U.S.) and all electricity is generated via diesel fuel, it was important that the new lights be solar powered to cut down on operational costs and greenhouse gas emissions. A savings of 78,840 kilowatt hours per year is projected.
First Light Technologies worked with the resort's facilities and operations teams to meet these design challenges and was able to design, implement, test, manufacture and ship all of the lights within 12 weeks - completing all the work on time and budget.
The resulting design is a robust, completely self-contained, solar-powered LED bollard that will operate reliably under virtually any environmental condition, for years on end with no electrical consumption, bulb changes or other maintenance or operational costs. First Light's proprietary Energy Management System (EMS) technology ensures continued operation even in cases of low-solar weather patterns or unusual charging conditions.
The First Light bollards offer several advantages over the existing lights, such as more environmentally robust construction; improved cost savings; improved lumen output; improved light distribution; improved light color temperature, and increased intelligence with self-learning, adaptive capabilities (patent pending)
Also, since the lights are completely self-contained, they require no trenching or wiring. "The installation was easy," stated Greg Mazor of Service Electric Limited. "Our team was able to install 300 solar LED lights efficiently and on time."
First Light Technologies recently released this design-build product for other markets as its WLB Series Solar LED Bollard, an ideal light for all low-level architectural, commercial way finding and landscaping applications.
"Following on the heels of our PLB Series Solar LED Bollard launch, this offering continues our commitment to bring simple, effective self-contained solar-powered lighting to a market with an accelerating demand for such environmentally friendly and cost-saving innovations," said Bourquin.
According to McKinsey & Company, the $13 billion (2010) market for outdoor and architectural lighting will grow to $18 billion by 2016, while LED lighting is expected to outperform the general lighting market with a CAGR of 34 percent from 2010 to 2016.
"Energy efficiency is the driving force that will contribute the most powerfully to the upcoming discontinuity in the lighting industry," states the report, driving LEDs' share of the general lighting market to grow from seven percent to 70 percent by 2020.

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News Article

June 05, 2012
The Bahamas to face Bermuda on Saturday

A bonus point and a win by more than four tries is the only way The Bahamas men's national rugby team can avoid missing their chance to compete in the Rugby World Cup.
The team can no longer contend for the North American Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Championship, and the chances of advancing through the qualifying rounds for the Rugby World Cup 2015 are slim, after dropping its first match to the Cayman Islands. That defeat placed The Bahamas in a must win situation, in the game against Bermuda. The Bahamas will have to win convincingly to avoid relegation into the pre-qualification group.
The countdown to the game against Bermuda has already started, and Team Bahamas is making its final preparation. The game will be played on Saturday, at the Winton Rugby Pitch. This is the third game in the second round for countries in the north.
Play in that division started on May 19 with Bermuda taking on the Cayman Islands. Bermuda defeated Cayman Islands, 10-3. Seven days later, The Bahamas was defeated by the Cayman Islands, 27-7. According to Elystan Miles, board member in the Bahamas Rugby Football Union (BRFU), the Cayman Islands will still move on, despite that loss to Bermuda. He also noted that Bermuda is almost guaranteed to move on, no matter the outcome of Saturday's game.
"We have to rip their legs off," said Miles. "We have to get a bonus point and win the game by at least four tries. We are out of contention for the Caribbean Championship but we need to beat Bermuda to avoid relegation into the second group. We don't want to drop down.
"We had a good team in the game against the Cayman Islands, but we weren't strong enough. It was a heart-breaking loss. We have a young team so there's always next year, but the positive part is that the fitness is up from previous years. The main difference is that Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, they play with expats and our team is Bahamian, so you never know who you are going to see."
In the last meeting against Bermuda, The Bahamas lost 13-10. That game was played last year in Bermuda. Miles believes that the home field advantage should work in The Bahamas' favor this time around. The Bahamas defeated Bermuda in 2005 and Miles is confident that they can do it again. He said the team is up to the challenge, even though they know it is not going to be an easy task.
Miles said: "Some of the players who were expected to travel to Cayman did not due to personal commitments and technical problems. Now that we are home I expect a better showing. We will have the fans behind us this time."
The team will continue training for the game, which will start at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

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News Article

May 20, 2010
Family Islands get $10m boost

The Bahamas yesterday signed a $10.109 million loan facility with the Caribbean Development Bank for several social and economic infrastructure upgrades in the Family Islands, plus a $37,000 technical grant for road and port feasibility studies - the first such loan from the CDB in a number of years.

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News Article

December 11, 2013
BBFF names its athletes of the year

As the sixth Bahamian to earn professional status in bodybuilding and fitness, this year, and the first ever in body fitness, Grand Bahamian Dominique Wilkinson was a unanimous choice as the Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation's (BBFF) overall athlete of the year. Her gold medal finish at the 41st Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, sealed the deal.
"Dominique is one of those rare athletes who is just a natural at what she does," said BBFF President Danny Sumner yesterday. "Since she came into the sport, she has excelled in body fitness. She has been one of the best body fitness athletes in the Caribbean over the past three years, and it really showed this year as she was able to win her pro card in the event. Dominique is just phenomenal. She won the body fitness short class last year, and took the overall title this year. The body fitness short class has always been one of the most competitive divisions in bodybuilding and fitness, and Dominique always comes ready to perform. Her symmetry was good at the CACs and her poses were awesome. She captured her class hands down at the CACs, and as a result, was the first Bahamian to capture a pro card in body fitness. Hats off to Dominique for a tremendous job this year," added Sumner.
Wilkinson entered the sport about 10 years ago, and according to Sumner, always aspired to be a professional athlete. With her golden performance this year, the federation could now apply on her behalf to the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness (IFBB).
The other three main awards in bodybuilding and fitness went to two-time national champion Jimmy Norius, Lorraine LeFleur and Dawn Charlton. Norius took the Male Bodybuilder of the Year Award, Lefleur was named as the Female Bodybuilder of the Year, and Charlton won the Fitness Athlete of the Year Award. Kenny Mackey won the Male Physique Athlete of the Year Award, and Bernard Davis, from Grand Bahama, was named as the Most Improved Bodybuilder of the Year.
"When you look at the performances this year, you would see that a number of athletes did extremely well," said Sumner. "When you look at Lorraine Lefleur, she had a tremendous year in female bodybuilding. She was able to beat one of the country's top female bodybuilders at the Northern Bahamas Championships in Tammy Stubbs, and then she turned around and beat her again at the nationals. At the CAC Championships, she finished second in her division for bodybuilding. Also, we have to give honorable mention to a person like Amy Sands for her performance in the swimsuit competition. She won a bronze medal in her class at the CACs.
"Overall, Bahamian athletes did very well this year. We look good, and we look forward to better things to come in 2014. We're going to start the year off by focussing on nutrition and getting our bodies in shape through proper diet and proper training. Our goal is to always improve as a federation. One of the problems we faced this year was getting proper funding and training, and that was the reason why we were only able to field a small team for the CAC Championships. I think that sporting federations on the whole have to find a better way to generate funds on their own. If the funding isn't there, the athletes aren't going to get the proper training, so that is vital. Right now, we are just focussed on getting better for 2014 and beyond," he added.
The Bahamas' 15-member at the CAC Championships secured 10 top five finishes, a pro card from Wilkinson, and an overall fourth place finish for the second year in a row. Barbados won the overall title, Venezuela was second and host country the Dominican Republic placed third, just ahead of The Bahamas.
Wilkinson earned a pro card by winning a gold medal in Body Fitness Short Class, and the overall title in Body Fitness. In addition, The Bahamas got a bronze medal from Dawnitta Fry in Body Fitness Tall Class, a silver medal from LeFleur in women's light heavyweight in bodybuilding, a silver from Davis in men's heavyweight in bodybuilding, a bronze from Sands in women's bikini short class, a fourth place finish from Stubbs in women's masters in bodybuilding, a fourth place finish from Norius in men's bantamweight in bodybuilding, a fourth place finish from Mackey in men's physique short class, and a fifth place finish from Charlton in women's fitness.
As for Wilkinson, she joined Stubbs, Charles Kemp, Jay Darling, Gena Mackey, and Natasha Brown in fitness, as the only Bahamians to earn their pro cards at the CAC Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships. Next year's CAC Championships will be held in St. Maarten.

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News Article

December 17, 2013
BBFF focusing on healthier living in 2014

With a strong focus on healthier living and family life, the Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (BBFF) is starting the new year off with a fun run/walk set for March, 2014.
BBFF President Danny Sumner said that it is their goal to get as many of their athletes as possible, and Bahamians in general, fit, eating right, and living healthy lifestyles. He said that it is imperative to maintain a certain level of fitness, especially for bodybuilders and fitness athletes to produce better results at international competitions.
"Proper diet and nutrition is so very important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle," said Sumner yesterday. "In the federation, it is our goal for our athletes to get their bodies in shape early in the year. I think it should be like that across the board, with all sports. That is why we are putting on this fun run/walk which will be open to all Bahamians. During the IFBB (International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness) Congress this year, it was determined that a stronger focus should be put on fitness and family life. We want families to be aware of their diet and the type of food that they are eating. We are hoping to decrease the rate of obesity here in The Bahamas. Obesity, diabetes and hyper-tension are serious problems here in The Bahamas. We want to do our part to curtail that."
Sumner said that they are looking at it as their duty, as a sports organization, to promote health and fitness for the entire Bahamas. He said that they are doing this for the benefit of the whole country.
"We want to encourage people from all walks of life to take part in this fun run/walk," said Sumner. "It is our first event for the year, and we're hoping that it will be well attended. We want it to be a family affair - mothers, fathers and children of all ages are all welcomed to come out and take part. The focus is on the entire family. This is our first step in developing better athletes for 2014 and beyond."
Sumner said that they intend to get all of the major gyms in the country involved, so that Bahamians from every walk of life could take part in the event.
The fun run/walk is just the beginning of things to come for 2014 though, as far as BBFF events are concerned.
Sumner said that it is their intention to finally get the armed forces championships off the ground, which could possibly be held in conjunction with the novice championships. The event could possibly have a high school segment as well. After that event in May, the federation will move into the Northern Bahamas Championships, which is expected to include Bimini this time, and the nationals will wrap up local competition in July.
"With the armed forces championships, our goal is to get the police, the defence force and the prison together in friendly competition. It is imperative that these three arms of our national defence system maintain a level of fitness," said Sumner. "These championships will allow for those officers to engage in friendly competition, and at the same time, stay fit. We have been strategically getting the high school championships off the ground. We started it this year, but we still have a ways to go. There's a strong possibility that you will see a segment of that with the armed forces championships this year."
Overall, Sumner said that the focus this year is definitely fitness for all athletes.
"As you can see by our performances at the CAC Championships every year, we have some of the better athletes in the entire Caribbean, and that's across the board. What we are lacking is more advanced training to get our athletes as fit as possible. We are certainly getting there in that regard, but we still have a way to go. I would love to see a cross section of Bahamian athletes getting more fit, and that's in every sport. If they are getting the type of training that a bodybuilder or fitness athlete goes through, they would be better when they compete in their respective sport.
"Having said that, we desperately need more funding to get our athletes the proper training and proper dieting. That was a major problem for us in 2013, and hopefully we could get more assistance in that regard moving forward. For athletes to improve themselves in all aspects in their respective sports, we need for funding to be increased so that our athletes could get the proper training."
The BBFF will wrap up its year, in 2014, with representation at the 42nd Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships. A 15-member Bahamian team finished with 10 top five finishes, a pro card from Grand Bahamian Dominique Wilkinson, and an overall fourth place finish this year.
Sumner said that they are looking to possibly host the CAC Championships in 2015.

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News Article

June 19, 2012
BSA appeals for sponsors for youth sailing program

Hundreds of young Bahamians who otherwise would likely not have had the opportunity to have learned to sail in New Providence during the summer months, have been able to do this through funds raised by the Bahamas Sailing Association's (BSA) Sponsor A Child program. By donating $400 for each child, the public can allow a child to participate for two intensive weeks in this program that has helped to change the lives of many youngsters.
This year's summer sailing program is scheduled from July 9 through August 17 and the BSA is again inviting individuals, corporations and civic groups to sponsor a child. The first summer sailing program was launched in 2005 and 30 young sailors from D.W. Davis, C.H. Reeves and H.O. Nash took part.
Since then, hundreds of students from 38 schools in New Providence and Long Island have learned to sail in seven summer programs and a number of the youngsters developed a real affinity for the sport, and have gone on to represent the country in international competitions.
Junior Bahamian sailors are now participating each year in the International Sailing Federation's (ISAF) Youth World Championships, Laser North American Championships, Orange Bowl Regattas for Lasers and Optimists and international sunfish events. Also this year, three junior sailors, ages 12 and 13, will be participating in the Optimist World Championships being held in the Dominican Republic.
"We found it unfortunate that in a country surrounded by some of the most incredible waters in the world, so many of your youngsters were denied an opportunity to learn a sport that is such a natural fit for the country because of their financial situations," said Robert Dunkley, director of the National Sailing School with responsibility for fundraising. "It's obvious that if we can get our kids involved in activities that build self-esteem and teach discipline, we can help them grow and mature and that is something that's positive for them and positive for the country."
Keeping the program going and growing is expensive as certified instructors need to be hired. Also, the fleet of optimist dinghies, sunfish and lasers needs to be purchased and maintained and food and drinks need to be provided to keep the youngsters' energy levels up.
In the years since the program was initially launched, a total of 12 Bahamian sailing instructors have been certified, two Bahamian sailors are now on the College of Charleston's sailing team (one of the top teams in the United States) and a number of others are working today in the marine industry - one of which is training to be a ship captain.
The cost for each two-week session in this summer's program is $400 and sponsorship checks can be made payable to the Bahamas Sailing Association and dropped off at the Nassau Yacht Club or mailed to P.O. Box N-752. Questions about the program and sponsorship needs and opportunities can be directed to Robert Dunkley at 357-3959 or bsajrsailing@gmail.com.

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News Article

June 19, 2012
Proper ceremony due for national stadium

There are times when, in order to do justice regarding history, certain events should be redone.
Earlier this year, on February 25, the former central administration caused a so-called opening ceremony to take place at the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The state-of-the-art facility is a gift from the People's Republic of China. The nation that made the kind gesture saw to it that the project was completed and the handover took place as planned, in June of 2011.
Unfortunately the government of the day did not make sure that the connecting infrastructure work was done, so at the handover ceremony, the stadium was not fully operational. The local authorities had the project so far behind schedule that Christmas of 2011 came and there really was no light at the end of the tunnel.
The year 2012 dawned and seemingly the big focus for the Free National Movement (FNM) government was to use the national stadium as a showpiece to garner support. So, despite the fact that roadways were not finished, the parking lots not constructed and the sewerage system was far from completion, the
government spent the taxpayers' money and orchestrated what amounted ultimately to a farce.
I give full credit to Cleophas Adderley and all of the assist teams that worked on the activities. They did what they had to do and the full house (some 15,000 spectators) enjoyed the affair. Yes, although, there were some glaring omissions, those in attendance had to feel some pride. I got a good feeling and held the view that having had the opening ceremony, the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture; the Ministry of Works and other sectors, would cause the remaining infrastructure work to be done in short order.
Alas, the work pace did not pick up at all and that's when one had to seriously ponder the situation. The opening seemed to be all about looking good at general election time. The big day, May 7, came and the national stadium still sat there like an albatross, looming large but virtually a dead item. Today, a year to the month since the handover, the stadium that had an "official opening ceremony" in February, is still not fit to function as intended.
The sewerage system is the Achilles heel of the project. The track is not certified and neither is the soccer field. There are no areas for vendors. There is no media work area. All such facilities around the world are constructed with a media area/center than enables those on assignment to be able to process coverage material directly to their newspaper, radio and television bases.
It's really one big farce, about to become a great embarrassment. Such situations are the reason why the warning "be careful what you wish for" has resonated through the ages. The present Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Government has inherited this and many other problems and the electorate expects them all to be addressed to satisfaction.
Accordingly the huge challenge of getting the stadium ready to host events adequately, confronts the new central administration. Obviously the network the previous government had in place failed miserably. Even with a special committee, inclusive of the then ministers of works, environment and youth, sports and culture coming together in regular meetings (I understand), the progress was dismal.
This present government must now put the right nucleus to work so that in the near future the national stadium will be able to host all events, local, regional and international, appropriately. There ought to be a solid concentration on getting the facility fully suitable for operation.
Then, the new powers that be should redo what the previous government did and stage a proper opening ceremony befitting a facility of its kind and doing justice to the Bahamian people. Also, make sure that the major contributors are on hand and saluted for the significant roles they played.
Along with the present Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson, all of those who formerly monitored the national stadium (on behalf of the various governments), Neville Wisdom, Byran Woodside, Desmond Bannister, and yes, even Charles Maynard, should be showcased because of their efforts from 2005 to present.
Among the special invitees should be the Original Golden Girls (Pauline Davis-Thompson, Chandra Sturrup, Eldece Clarke, Savatheda Fynes and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie); quartermiler Tonique Williams-Darling, the only Bahamian in our history who has been an individual World and Olympic champion; world champion high jumpers Troy Kemp and Donald Thomas; 2001 World Champion in the men's 400m Avard Moncur; first track and field Olympic medalist, triple jumper Frank Rutherford; other living world champions such as Kingsley Poitier and Glen Wells of bodybuilding; Sir Durward Knowles of sailing; and Mychal Thompson and Rick Fox of basketball.
It must be done right. Of course, the man, the legendary one the national stadium is named in honor of, Thomas Robinson, should be allowed to say a few words during the ceremony to the people of The Bahamas and yes, the wider world through technology. He wasn't granted that simple courtesy by then Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard.
Prime Minister Perry Christie certainly has a full plate, but this is one of the ways to prove without a doubt that he is ready to spearhead quality causes and make some really fine things happen during this second time around, for him as the nation's leader.
To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com.

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News Article

June 09, 2012
Using appliances to take the strain out of cooking

Gone are the days when the most essential kitchen tool was a well-seasoned cast iron skillet which if properly taken care of would last for generations. Today, your great grandmother would probably be in a pickle if she were to enter the modern kitchen. From mandolines to microplanes, zesters, silpat liners, smoking guns, hand blenders and food processors, she probably would not even know where to begin.
Knowing that it would not only be grandmother that would be confused walking into the modern home store, and figuring out how to use the many kitchen supplies, Master Technicians staged the first of what is expected to be a number of live culinary showcases to show people how to use the appliances for everyday recipes.
Local chef Keshlah Smith put KitchenAid's countertop equipment, the hand blender and the 5-Speed Artisan Blender to good use to show patrons how to make smoothies and dips; and they used the 5-Quart Artisan Series Stand Mixer used to mix a cake; the 12-inch convection countertop oven to make Monterey meatballs, and the 13-cup food processor to make a colorful seven-layer salad.
Chef Jamal Petty, who was in the audience, said as a cooking professional it was useful to get to see the appliances at work before making a purchase as it allowed him to get a better understanding of how much of a assistance the tools can be.
"A lot of time we don't purchase stuff not because we don't like it, but because we don't know about it," said Petty. "It's good to see [the tools] in action because I can already see myself using them."
Master Technicians General Manager Derek Francis said the way forward is to allow for people to experience appliances before purchase so that they can know how to utilize them in their home kitchens.
"We want to present the customer with the opportunity to see just how these appliances can make your life so much better," said Francis. "We not only want to showcase the products that we bring to the marketplace, but we want to create that experience so people come to us thinking they don't just sell appliances they live their appliances."
The company hopes to host quarterly culinary exhibitions during which home cooks and professionals can try out their products.
"When you talk to any of the chefs, the tedious tasks tend to be the chopping tasks, but if you can turn on a food processor and let that thing evenly slice cucumbers in less than a minute and a half ... for a business you're not absorbing as much time and that creates efficiency," said Francis.

Make use of Kitchenaid's
Food Grinder Attachment

Monterey Meatballs
What You Will Need:
Countertop oven
Aluminum foil
Oven mitt
Medium mixing bowl
Serving plate
Paper towels
Spatula
Ingredients:
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 package (9 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry
2 cloves garlic
1 slice white bread
1 pound beef chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch strips, partially frozen
1 pound pork steak, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch strips, partially frozen
1 small onion, quartered
1 rib celery, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
¾ cup fresh bread crumbs
1 egg
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ jar (24 oz.) marinara sauce
Italian parsley sprigs

Preheat countertop oven to 450 degrees F. Position oven rack in "down" position in center slot. Line oven baking tray with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
Assemble and attach food grinder with fine grinding plate. Grind cheese, spinach and garlic into mixer bowl. Grind one slice white bread to clean spinach from grinder body. Remove food grinder and attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Turn to Stir speed to blend cheese, vegetables and bread together, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture into another bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Return food grinder to mixer. Continuing on Speed 4, grind beef chuck and pork steak into mixer bowl. Re-grind meat mixture to achieve even texture. Grind onion and celery onto meat mixture. Remove food grinder and attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Add bread crumbs, egg, seasoned salt, and pepper. Turn to Stir speed and mix until ingredients are well combined, about 30 seconds.
To make meatballs, roll a heaping tablespoon of cheese mixture into a ball, approximately one-inch in diameter. Form about two tablespoons of meat mixture around cheese ball, shaping into a round ball, approximately 1.5 to two inches in diameter. Place 12 finished meatballs on prepared baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 17 minutes or until cooked through. Spread marinara sauce on bottom of display platter. Arrange meatballs in sauce. Garnish with parsley. Repeat with remaining meat mixture and spinach mixture.

Fresh salsa
What you will need:
Chef knife
Cutting board
Paper towels
Serving bowl or tray
Spatula
Ingredients:
12-14 large ripe Roma tomatoes, cored
4-6 jalapeno peppers, with some seeds and veins removed, cut in half
2 Anaheim chilis, seeded
4-6 green onions, trimmed
½ cup packed cilantro leaves, divided
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
4 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons sugar, divided
Cilantro sprigs
White corn tortilla chips

Cut tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, Anaheim chilis and green onions into approximately one-inch pieces. Place tomatoes in large bowl and peppers and onions in medium bowl and set aside. Assemble and attach food grinder with coarse grinding plate. Turn to Speed 4 and grind half of tomatoes into mixer bowl. Exchange coarse grinding plate for fine grinding plate. Grind half of jalapeno peppers, Anaheim peppers, green onions, and ¼ cup cilantro leaves into tomatoes.
Remove food grinder attachment. Attach bowl and flat beater. Add two tablespoons lime juice, two teaspoons salt and one teaspoon sugar to bowl. Turn to Stir speed and blend mixture, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to display container and garnish with cilantro sprig. Display with tortilla chips.

Cranberry Apple Relish
What you will need:
Chef knife
Cutting board
Medium mixing bowl
Measuring cups
Paper towels
Serving bowl/tray
Ingredients:
4 medium Granny Smith apples with skin, cored
2 naval oranges with skin
2 packages (12 ounces each) fresh cranberries, partially frozen
3 cups sugar, divided
½ cup Grand Marnier or Triple Sec, divided
Mint sprigs

Cut apples and oranges into approximately one-inch pieces. Place in bowl and set aside. Assemble food grinder with coarse grinding plate and attach to mixer. Turn to Speed 4 and grind one package cranberries, and half of apples and oranges into mixer bowl.

Attach bowl with ground fruit and flat beater to mixer. Add 1 ½ cups sugar and ¼ cup liqueur to bowl. Turn to Stir speed and mix for one minute, or until well blended. Transfer mixture to display bowl and garnish with mint sprig.

MAKE USE OF YOUR KITCHENAID'S 13-CUP FOOD PROCESSOR

Mini pizzas
What you will need:
Countertop oven
Cooking spray
Mixing bowl
Kitchen towel
Serving tray
Rolling pin
Ingredients:
Pizza Dough
1 package quick-rise active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ¾ cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Toppings
2 ounces Parmesan cheese
1 package (8 ounces) Mozzarella cheese
1 package (8 ounces) provolone cheese
1 small stick pepperoni
1 small zucchini, trimmed
1 small green pepper or red pepper, seeded and cut in half
1 small sweet onion, halved
3 Roma tomatoes
½ cup coarsely chopped or chiffonade-cut basil leaves
Garlic and sea salt grinder
Pepper grinder

To make dough, dissolve yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand five minutes. Position dough blade in work bowl. Add remaining sugar, bread flour and salt, to bowl. Pulse one or two times to mix. With processor running, slowly pour dissolved yeast mixture and olive oil through feed tube. Continue processing until dough forms a ball, about 45 seconds to one minute. Dough will be slightly sticky.
Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place, until doubled in bulk, about 20 to 30 minutes. Prepare toppings while dough is rising.
For toppings, position shredding disc in food processor. Process Parmesan cheese. Remove cheese to small bowl and set aside. Using shredding disc, process Mozzarella and provolone cheese. Remove cheeses to display platter and set aside. Exchange shredding disc for slicing disc. Set on Thin (1MM). Slice pepperoni, zucchini, peppers, onion and tomatoes. Remove each vegetable after slicing and place on platter with cheese to display until ready to assemble pizzas.
Preheat countertop oven to 425 degrees F. Punch dough down and divide into eight pieces. Flatten each piece slightly and lightly flour on both sides. Roll with rolling pin to form a circle about five to six-inches in diameter. Repeat with another piece of dough.
Place dough circles side by side on pizza screen. Top with cheeses and vegetable combinations. Season with garlic, sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle with basil and reserved Parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly on wire racks. Place on display platter. Repeat rolling dough and pizza assembly with remaining ingredients while first batch pizzas bake. Have second batch ready to bake as first batch is removed from oven. Repeat process.

Seven-layer salad
What you will need:
Serving bowl (glass or clear plastic)
Spatula
Paper towels
Ingredients:
1-2 small heads romaine lettuce, trimmed
4 tomatoes
3 ribs celery
1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded
1 small red onion
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
4 ounces Cheddar cheese
¾ cup plain Greek-style yogurt
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1-2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup fresh parsley sprigs
¼ cup fresh basil leaves

Position slicing disc in work bowl and slide external slicing lever to Thick (6mm). Trim lettuce to fit feedtube. Process to slice. Remove lettuce from bowl and arrange in bottom of glass or plastic bowl. Slice celery. Use small center feed tube to keep celery upright and produce best slices. Remove celery from bowl and arrange on top of tomatoes. Slide external slicing lever to middle (3MM). Slice tomatoes. Remove tomatoes from bowl and arrange on top of lettuce.
Move external slicing lever to Thin (1mm). Trim yellow pepper to fit feed tube. Process to slice. Remove pepper from work bowl and arrange on top of celery. Slice red onion. Remove onion from work bowl and arrange on top of peppers. Sprinkle peas over onions.
Exchange thin slicing disc for shredding disc. Shred cheddar cheese. Remove from work bowl, and place in small bowl. Set aside.
Exchange shredding disc for multi-purpose blade. Place mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, sugar, seasoned salt and pepper in work bowl. Process for 30 seconds, or until well blended. Pour dressing over salad. Spread evenly with spatula. Sprinkle with reserved cheddar cheese.
Exchange multi-purpose blade for mini-bowl and blade. Place parsley and basil in mini-bowl. Process to finely chop. Remove from bowl and sprinkle over cheese. Display finished salad.

MAKE USE OF YOUR KITCHENAID BLENDERS
Tropical Breakfast Smoothie
What you will need:
Chef knife
Cutting board
Paper towels
Serving bowl/cups & plate
Ingredients:
Smoothie
1 medium banana
¼ fresh pineapple
2 large oranges, peeled
3 cups pineapple orange juice
1 container (5.8 oz.) vanilla yogurt
3 cups ice cubes
Orange slices for garnish
Topping
1 cup peanuts
1 cup almonds
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pecans

Cut banana, pineapple and orange sections into approximately one-inch chunks. Place in bowl and set aside. Place approximately 1/3 of banana, pineapple and orange chunks, and one cup juice in blender beaker. Process on Speed 3 using a gentle up and down motion for 50 to 60 seconds or until smooth. Add three tablespoons yogurt and one cup ice. Process on Speed 3 using a gentle up and down motion for 30 seconds to one minute or until smooth. Pour some of smoothie into display glasses and garnish with orange slice and a sprinkle of chopped nuts. Repeat.
Chop nuts ¼ cup at a time on high speed in various combinations to demonstrate chopping capability of hand blender chopper attachment. Display on plate and use to garnish smoothie.

Roasted red pepper and green onion dip
What you will need:
Measuring cups (½-cup and 1-cup)
Spatula
Chef Knife
Ingredients:
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream or 1-cup light sour cream
½ cup Romano cheese, grated
1 package ( 2/3 ounce) Good Seasons Italian Dressing
1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red peppers, well-drained
2 green onions

Crackers, for serving

In the one-liter pitcher, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, romano cheese and salad dressing. Attach the multi-purpose blade to the hand blender and blend ingredients on Speed 5. Set aside.
Drain roasted red peppers and place in the chopper attachment.
Cut the ends off of green onions and then cut in half. Place in chopper attachment.
Attach hand blender to chopper attachment and chop red pepper and green onions on Speed 3 for about 10 seconds.
Combine red pepper and green onions to the ingredients in the one-liter pitcher.
Attach the whip attachment to hand blender. Mix ingredients in one-liter pitcher on Speed 3 until evenly combined. Serve on crackers.

Make use of your KitchenAid blender
Chilled melon soup
What you will need:
Chef knife
Cutting board
Serving bowl
Paper towels
Ingredients:
3 cups ripe cantaloupe
3 cups ripe honeydew
1 ½ cups orange juice
2 tablespoons mint leaves
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh mint sprig

Cut cantaloupe and honeydew into approximately one-inch pieces. Place fruit in pitcher. Add orange juice and mint leaves. Hit Mix button and move up a speed every 15-30 seconds until reaching puree. Add honey and lemon juice. Start with Mix and move up a speed until blending ingredients well. Pour soup into honeydew display bowl and garnish with fresh mint sprig.

Make use of your KitchenAid blender
Green smoothie
What you will need:
Spatula
Paper towels
Serving bowl or cups
Ingredients:
1 banana
2 (Kensington pride) mangos
1 handful of baby spinach leaves, pre-washed
1 tray of ice cubes (15 cubes)
About 1 cup of water

Peel the mangos and add into blender. Add the banana, spinach, ice and water.
Hit Mix button and move up a speed every 5-10 seconds until reaching puree. Blend until you can't see pieces of spinach floating around.
The shake should be a light greenish color, and it should have a smooth, relatively thick consistency, somewhere between a milkshake and a thick shake.
This recipe makes enough shake to fill two average-sized glasses.

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News Article

July 20, 2012
Ingraham: Include casino gambling in referendum

Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said the government should include the question of casino gaming in its upcoming referendum, as Bahamians have the right to decide if they can gamble in casinos.
The North Abaco member of Parliament said The Bahamas is the only country he knows of that bars its citizens from playing in local casinos.
"If you're going to put the question of gambling to the public of The Bahamas, then the whole question must be put," Ingraham said yesterday at a press conference in the Majority Room of the House of Assembly. "We are singular in our decision in The Bahamas that excludes its citizens from being able to gamble in our casinos. Nobody else in the world does that."
He added that the law which banned Bahamians from casino gaming was made in 1965, at a time when it was also illegal for locals to work at casino tables. He said the government later saw fit to reverse that decision.
"In fact at the time of Independence in 1973 the then prime minister (Sir Lynden Pindling) said at a press conference that as long as he was prime minister there would never be a Bahamian croupier in the casinos in The Bahamas, because that was the established policy," Ingraham said.
"They changed their mind over time. The public of The Bahamas ought to have a right to decide whether they want to gamble in the casinos or not."
Prime Minister Perry Christie has said government plans to bring a referendum on the legalizing of gambling for Bahamians by December. Christie added, however, that a by-election in North Abaco - which has to be called within 60 days after Ingraham's resignation - will take precedence over a vote on gambling.
The ballot will only have two options: Establishing a national lottery or legalizing numbers houses. Christie has said his government will not deal with reversing the law that prohibits Bahamians from gambling in local casinos.
Ingraham added that as it stands he would not waste his time voting in the government's proposed referendum.
The North Abaco MP also urged the government to state its position on gambling and not hide behind the excuse that it is leaving the decision up to the public.
Ingraham also alleged that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) received financial support from illegal web shops during the 2012 general election campaign.
The North Abaco MP said he would do all he can to postpone the referendum, which is one of the reasons why he delayed his resignation from Parliament from July 19 until August 31. However, Ingraham did hand in his letter of resignation to Speaker of the House Kendal Major yesterday.
Ingraham also questioned why the government would spend money to hold a referendum so early in its term, when there are pressing social issues which need to be dealt with.
He also criticized the Christie administration for not educating the public about the referendum and the repercussions of the vote.
"When I last had a referendum the argument was the public was not educated. Well I don't see anything happening about educating the public about the referendum," Ingraham said, flanked by Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis and several FNM MPs and senators.
Dozens of energetic party supporters also crowded into the room and cheered several times during his statements.
"So I'd like to postpone it as much as I could so the public can be educated," Ingraham added. "You can't make a deal with the numbers fellas before the election, get their money and then call upon me to support you or to vote for it."
When asked how he would vote in the referendum Ingraham said, "I wouldn't waste my time on such a referendum."
Both the PLP and the FNM promised to hold referendums on gambling if they won the May general election. In 2010, the Ingraham administration considered legalizing the gambling sector, but after pressure from the religious community, Ingraham decided that the FNM would put the question to a vote if re-elected in 2012.
Yesterday Ingraham said he would not have proposed a referendum on gambling that did not include a question on casino gaming.
"I would not have had a referendum that did not include the casino, that would be unthinkable."
Yesterday's press conference was held a few minutes after Ingraham handed in his resignation from Parliament to Speaker of the House Dr. Kendal Major. The resignation takes effect on August 31 but Ingraham had earlier said he would resign on July 19, on the anniversary of his first election to Parliament in 1977.
The former prime minister said he put off his resignation for three reasons: To delay the timing of the government's proposed referendum on gambling, as well as to allow the FNM's prospective North Abaco by-election candidate Greg Gomez time to meet the constitutional requirements to be eligible to be elected to the House.

Ingraham said he also delayed his resignation because the new leader of the FNM Dr. Hubert Minnis asked him to stay on longer.

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News Article

July 12, 2012
The 'core' sports of The Bahamas

On July 10, 1973, when the Union Jack was lowered and the country's national flag raised for the first time, Bahamians everywhere stood in pride. Today, that same joy is felt through the accomplishments of our athletes competing on the local, regional and international stages.
 
It is that sense of national pride that pushes our athletes forward and keeps the fire burning in the hearts of the executives of the various sporting federations who work extremely hard to make the dream possible.
 
A wide range of sports are played in The Bahamas but only 10 are referred to as the core sports in the country, and a handful come under the Bahamas Olympic Committee. Here's what the various federation heads had to say about the development of their respective disciplines.
 
 
Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA)
President Mike Sands
The success of the association over the years is directly attributed to the outstanding performances of the athletes. The BAAA is an organization that creates opportunities for athletes to participate in various meets internationally and regionally.
 
"We also have taken a very special interest and care in certifying our coaches through courses. We encourage and support them in taking advantage of the courses that are available through the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as well as USA Track and Field," said Sands.
 
 These programs allow participants to improve their skills. "Over the years we have seen a growth in the number of coaches who are certified at the top level. The association has provided them with opportunities to become knowledgeable about the sport and through that extent, we have seen outstanding performances from our athletes. We have taken great pride in making that one of our priorities."
 
There have been some challenges as the association tries to reach new heights and improve, but nonetheless improvements on all levels have been achieved.
 
"The association has recently celebrated its 60th anniversary, [during] which we have highlighted numerous athletes and persons who have contributed to the programs. There is no doubt that we have grown and that the history of the organization is rich. Our founders have fought hard and the athletes have capitalized on the accomplishments from those before them. The association has become the victim of our success to an extent because the ability to fund the teams is challenging. But through the support of corporate Bahamas, the government and other sponsors we were able to provide athletes with the many opportunities. There are a number of initiatives we would like to improve upon and we are now viewing our strategic plan to determine how we will do so," according to Sands.
 
As far as accomplishments, there have been many.
 
"We can go far back as Thomas Robinson and others who were the first to make a mark on the international scene. The torch has been passed on and we thank persons like Thomas Robinson for their contributions," he said.
 
"Our success is notable. Athletes have excelled on all levels. The BAAA does not count medals but looks at the personal achievements of our athletes. That is key. Over the years, we have collected a lot of medals, but seen so many improvements from our athletes. That is our driving force, our motivation."
 
 
Bahamas Swimming Federation (BSF)
President Algernon Cargill
"Our focus is ensuring that we can develop a comprehensive National Learn to Swim program and provide an opportunity for every young Bahamian to swim. Those with potential will be identified so they can move onto more competitive swimming. We've noticed that there are too many Bahamians who cannot swim, and given the geography of The Bahamas that is really not a very good thing," said Cargill.
 
BSF wants to have continuous growth and development in the sport.
 
"The progress and success of our age group is measured by our success at CARIFTA. From 2003 to date, we have placed in the top three at those games. In 2006, we came within seven points of winning CARIFTA. So we see a lot of progress in swimming, especially at the CARIFTA level, in terms of growth," said Cargill.
 
The federation was represented at the Olympic Games and the FINA World Championships. At the last Olympic Games, The Bahamas had four swimmers, two females for the first time. In 2004, The Bahamas had the first female swimmer qualify for the Olympic Games, Nikia Deveaux. In the last Olympic Games, 2008, both Alanna Dillette and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace qualified. This summer, Vanderpool-Wallace will be the lone swimmer. But she has already won a world medal. The Bahamas has never before made it to the finals of the World Championships. To win a medal speaks to the success of the program.
"The success of our female relay team in placing at such a high level, globally, speaks to the potential of swimming in The Bahamas. We need more Olympic swimmers, and create more scholarships for swimmers. For some reason swimming doesn't receive the same profile in the eyes of college recruiters as track and field does. But we want to see more Bahamians on athletic scholarships to colleges abroad," said Cargill.
 
"The BSF wants to open more doors for our swimmers. We have had tremendous growth and the increase is phenomenal. Our swimmers have so much potential. And as a result we are looking beyond the CARIFTA Games and are now looking to win other competitions like CCAN. We want to develop aquatic sports like water polo and synchronized swimming. Diving is also on our list. There was a female's water polo team that just stopped and now the male team is in the developmental stages. But we haven't done anything in diving and synchronized swimming. We haven't explored the open water swimming as much. There were a few open water meets but we need to develop it more so we can compete at the regional and international levels," he added.
 
"Since we were founded we have expanded in terms of facilities, but we still need more pools. We have one 50 meter pool that is heavily used. There should be a pool in the east, west and south of New Providence. There were the addition of more swim clubs in New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands and we look to improve on this as well in the coming years."
 
Bahamas Football Association (BFA)
President Anton Sealey
"Over the years we have competed on every level. We have competed in senior men, women, under-23 boys and girls, under-19, under-17 and in the under-15 divisions. We have seen tremendous growth, certainly in terms of numbers and the participants in the various groups. We have had an increase on the junior side, which has assisted with the growth in the league. There have been some peaks and valleys when it comes to the senior league. We had a women's league established years ago and for various reasons that league stopped. But over the last two years, under the leadership of Daria Adderley, we started to rekindle the women's league and we are going to be putting on some tournaments in the next year or so. In Grand Bahama, they've always maintained a vibrant women's program and a competitive women's league. That is a flip to their men's league, which has not been participating over the last three years," said Sealey.
 
"I am not as satisfied with the level of growth but I have always maintained and believe that growth has to be managed and that we have managed our growth. Because it is an amateur sport, you rely on volunteers, for the most part, to do these things. Because of the growth at the youth level, a lot of the volunteers are spending their time at that level. Therefore, we don't have the quality and the number of volunteers for the senior level that will really commit you to see any meaningful growth. But, because of the amount of juniors we have coming through, we need to do something to address that senior level football. That is the challenge that the federation faces right now."
 
Sealy and his team took the helm in 1996 but the association was founded long before. Prior to 1996, the emphasis was always on senior soccer.
 
"During the years 1973 to about 1996, we had a very vibrant senior men's league here in Nassau and to a lesser extent in Freeport. But the level of play was very high and competitive. We had a heavy influence of foreign nationals participating in the league because we had foreign teachers and croupiers at that time. So these people made up the football teams that played here. At that time we had a very good senior program but nothing was happening on the junior level," explained Sealey. "In 1996, when the current administration came into office, we recognized this and our first plan in action was to develop a youth development program which would be the feeder system to the senior league. So there was a renaissance of the game when the league took a decline in the number of teams participating and that is when we embarked on the youth development program. That had a tremendous affect. Now we have competitive games, a good crowd and are performing favorably in international competitions."
 
Bahamas Softball Federation (BSF)
President Burkette Dorsette
The federation has transformed over the last 40 years, according to Dorsette.
 
"One time we were at our pinnacle in softball when we finished third in the world in the men's and ladies'. We had a lull in that progression sometime around the 1990s and early 2000s but we are gradually getting back there. The last time the men competed in the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games we finished fourth. So we are heading back there and want to improve on our placing. We have teams who are now working out for a couple of very important tournaments," said Dorsette.
 
The Pan American Games and the World Qualifiers are high on the schedule. Those matches will be played in September of this year. When it comes to the juniors, the International Softball Federation (ISF) has stepped up its programs and the BSF wants to feed off that.
 
"We had sent a novice team off to the under-16 tournament last year. They didn't fair too well but we expected that because that was their first international trip. Since then a good junior program has been developed, which we hope the teams in New Providence can piggy back off [of]," he said.
 
The federation also assists the associations with the development of their programs.
 
"We have stepped up our game, in terms of our development, and would like to supply more to our associations, whether it is equipment or technical support. The technical aspect will come in our game officiating and we would be taking full advantage of the ongoing umpires clinics," said Dorsette.
 
The BSF has just received word from the ISF regarding international certification courses for umpires. There are about six internationally certified umpires now and the BSF wants to add to that.
"Over the years we have seen a decline in the administrations of some of our associations. There are plans to host some administrative courses," he shared.
Two new associations have joined the federation.
 
"Inagua is in full swing and we have just received application from Spanish Wells. I recently returned from Cat Island and they have expressed interest and are preparing a field for softball play on that island. So softball is picking up in the country whether it is fast pitch, modified pitch or slow pitch. There have been a lot of improvements since the founding day. We've hosted numerous tournaments and added various associations under our umbrella," said Dorsette.
 
"The progression over the last 40 years has been tremendous. We will continue to pursue avenues on where and how we can improve the game. These improvements will also be seen on the adminstration, technical and upkeep of facilities. The future is very bright and we want to continue to grow by leaps and bounds. We have some young talented players who are great prospects and that is always an encouragement."
 
Bahamas Volleyball Federation (BVF)
Acting President Joseph Smith
The changes in the game have affected the BVF in a positive light, said its acting president Joseph Smith.
 
"There has been an increase in all of our programs, from the junior to the senior development side. The game has changed drastically and The Bahamas has been improving from then. We have competed on high levels. There were teams who represented The Bahamas at many qualifiers in the past and we are back on track with playing in these qualifiers. At one time, The Bahamas was number one on the women's side and on the men, we were ranked number two in the English-speaking Caribbean," he noted.
 
"When the changes to the rules of the game were first introduced we had a little lull, but as time progressed our players caught on. The federation was able to bridge that gap around 2000. That is also the year when we revamped our program, adding more of our junior players to the senior teams. The older teams had seen success and we wanted to infiltrate the juniors into this program so when our more senior players bowed out, the juniors would fill in.
 
"The executives made sure that our coaches and officials were up to international standards. That has trickled down to our players who are now coaches themselves. So overall, you would have seen a quicker game with a defensive player."
 
The list of players who have gone on to college on a volleyball scholarship is "very long".
 
"We still have some in the pipe line. Not only was the past a strong one, and the foundation sound, but the future looks bright. We have climbed our way back up the ranking ladder," said Smith. "Some of the older players have returned to assist the teams, departing some of the knowledge they know on the younger guys."
 
Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF)
President Charles 'Softly' Robins
The Bahamas Basketball Association was the governing body back in the day and the sport grew under Mr. Vince Ferguson. I watched it grow from then to now, and I have seen basketball come a long, long way. Many people might say that the sport is not growing, but it is definitely growing. There was a time that it seemed like we had better players, but we didn't have better players. What happened was there were a lot of players on one team. Players either joined the Kentucky Colonel, Fox Hill Mangoes or the Cougars. Those teams were so good because they had the numbers. So everyone enjoyed basketball back then. The actual game, comparing to now, was much better because we played more basic basketball and the players back then were fundamentally sound. But the game itself has grown, it is quicker and flashier.
 
Bahamians enjoyed the game and it showed every time the players stepped on the court. It was a joy to see players like Quant Sterling, who was ranked number one at one point in the Caribbean, play. He along with many others gave you a show that was worth every dollar spent. Nowadays, we have players who can make it into the NBA, who have even played at the high level, but their commitment wasn't like how it was in the past. They were a committed group of players who were willing to learn the game. There was a point when wearing the flag on your chest meant a lot. They took pride in the game and it showed in their dominant performance. Some people will say the players today can not compete with those in the past, but I believe that they can.
 
There is much more competition now. But we still were able to produce professional players who have played in the NBA. We also had a lot of other ball players who tried out for the professional rank. Now I see a lot of potential and we can surpass the numbers that we had in the past. I don't think the sport is in a decline. Not all of our professional players are in the NBA, they are playing in other leagues as well. We are coming back. This crew of ball players now, they are really good. So in the coming years, we should be able to produce at least three or four basketball players.
 
Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association (BLTA)
President Derron Donaldson
Over the years we have built on the accomplishments of some of our more notable players like Mark Knowles, Roger Smith and Kim Cartwright. Their, along with many others', achievements on the local and international stages have paved the way for players like Nikkita Fountain, Larikah Russell, Kerrie Cartwright, Devin Mullings, Marvin Rolle and others. We are now seeing a resurgence in the sport and the main reason for that is because we created a feeder system. More juniors are now coming forth and are playing at a very high level. They are getting opportunities many persons in the past did not get. A number of our players are ranked.
 
At the recently held Davis Cup, we changed the look of the team and sent the young players. We wanted to give them an opportunity. This year was our 24th appearance at the tournament. From since we started playing in the Davis Cup, in 1989, we've played in about 66 ties. We have never made it to the World Group but I think we can get there. We did make it into the World Group play-offs, that was back in 1993.  So you can see our tennis players have the potential.
 
Locally, we have hosted several international and regional tournaments. Bahamians have competed in these tournaments, and done extremely well. All of this is a part of our growth. There are a lot of changes we are going to make in the upcoming months. The changes that were made in the past we have built and improve on them. We competed in the Olympics. That was a major accomplishment and we want to get back there. We know that we will need to get our players in tournaments where they can earn more points. This opens the doors for them.
 
Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (BBFF)
President Danny Sumner
The BBFF started off with Hubert Wong, Cyril Smith, Edison Deleveaux and Dr. Norman Gay.
 
"They were the principal people who got the ball rolling and organized the association. Wong was the first president. That was the year they got a commitment from the International Federation for Bodybuilding's (IFB) president Ben Weider for The Bahamas to be added to the international list.
 
"We were the third member of the IFB that year. As we moved forward a lot of Bahamians became interested. Dr. Gay was president and was working extremely hard to promote the sport. One of the more notable athletes in the first era was Kingsley Poitier," recalled Sumner. "He was the most prolific. Kingsley Poitier won Mr. World. That was the highest award you could have won in bodybuilding at that time. Other persons who were outstanding on the international level were Glen Wells. He competed in Mr. Universe. There was Tony Carroll, Edison Deleveaux and Aurthur Eldon, who was around a long time. Those names were like the pioneer names who competed internationally. They sparked the fire for bodybuilders on the local scene. We had a lot of top bodybuilders going all the way back to Jeremy Knowles, Della Thomas, Joel Stubbs, Raymond Tucker and so on. We've had success at the Centeral American and Caribbean Games and next month, August, we will be heading back there," said Sumner.
 
He said the numbers have decreased over the years but the federation is finding ways to spark interest.
 
"We went into the schools and the new segments have attracted more females," shared Sumner. "So, yes, we've grown but we have also had our fair share of ups and downs. We are now working on ways to bring more people in."
 
Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF)
President Craig Kemp
"I think we're the youngest federation formed," said Kemp.
 
In the past BBF was governed by the Bahamas Baseball Association and about 10 years ago the federation was formed.
 
"Our focus is making the athletes better and ensuring that baseball is played in the country. We have grown tremendously from the day of inception."
 
The BBF's most notable tournament is the nationals, named after Andre Rodgers, one of the country's most outstanding players who went on to play in the major leagues in the U.S.
 
"Our nationals have grown from 12 teams to about 44 or 46 teams now.  We never had an accurate count of teams that were playing back then or the number of players that were professional players. Looking back at history, we can tell you that we did have professional players and they have excelled. That has paved the way for so many of our younger players who are looking to move into the professional ranks. Antoan Richardson is just one of our professional players," said Kemp.
 
Over the past 10 years the federation has assisted players with obtaining scholarships to attend college, universities and high schools in the United States.
 
"That is something we are very proud of," Kemp boasted. "Many of these players came up through the leagues under the umbrella. Our junior league is very strong. Yes, we had a decline in the sport but it has nothing to do with the fact that we don't have any stadium. We had a void for about two decades where there was very little organized baseball being played."

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News Article

July 26, 2012
Keep God's laws in your heart

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. -- Psalm 119:18.
Clara H. Scott (1841-1897) wrote these beautiful lyrics, "Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me; Place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free: Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, Thy will to see; Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!"
Many of the happenings of the times in which we live seem to be clouded with doubt, mistrust, confusion and all in all envy. We seem not to be able to see the good, only the sprinklings of misdeeds and misfits. We listen to news and stories wrongly told on innocent people, and hold them in spite zones for eons, never taking the time to find truth or seek the beauty of reconciliation.
Growing up there were severe cases of the eyes of friends, family and neighbors who woke up in the mornings barely opening their eyes with cold that gathered while they slept. Sometimes eyelids had to be washed several times so as not to cause damage due to tearing!
In our nation, there are so many things that we are allowing to go unchecked due to blindness in areas that are for the wellness, effectiveness, enlightenment and advancement of us as a people. A call to Biblical remembrance tells us that due to lack of vision wherever, people perish, but here in our text today a cry of desperation goes to the Almighty for the opening of our eyes so that we may be able to behold all the good that has been prepared for us as a people.
Happy are those whose lives are faultless, who live according to the law of the Lord. Happy are those who follow His commands, who obey Him with all their heart. They never do wrong: they walk in the Lord's ways. Lord, you have given us your laws and told us to obey them faithfully. How I hope that I shall be faithful in keeping your instructions. If I pay attention to all your commands, then I will not be put to shame.
How can young people keep their lives pure? By obeying your commands. With all my heart I try to serve you, keep me from disobeying your commandments. I keep your law in my heart, so that I will not sin against you.
Be good to me, your servant, so that I may live and obey your teachings. Open my eyes, so that I may see the wonderful truths in your law. You reprimand the proud, cursed are those who disobey your commands. Free me from their insults and scorn, because I have kept your laws.
The sense of sight is so very precious. To see danger and not avoid it openly tells that all is not well. To see wrong being done in our land, harboring those who run afoul of the law, taking money for dwellings that are not fit for living conditions, encouraging illegals at the expense of creating huge problems in due season, encouraging children to steal for our financial comfort, know that wrong is being done and doing or saying nothing, rocking at ease while Rome burns, holding grudges and withholding that which is due to the worthy, all bear the same diagnosis -- that we are blind to truth, justice and goodness.
Father, in your loving kindness, I pray that you will open our eyes to see beauty beyond the rubble, value in the uncut diamond, the rainbow after the storm and open green fields after the dust is settled. Lord open our eyes that we may see those who do not wish us well and treat us with contempt, scorn and rejection, be caught in the rapids of rivers of love for their cleansing.

o E-mail rubyanndarling@yahoo.com or write to P.O. Box 19725 SS with your prayer requests, comments and concerns. God's Blessings!

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