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News Article
Dr. Myles Munroe's moral stance on homosexuality

Dear Editor,
World-renowned pastor Dr. Myles Munroe has the country up in arms over comments he made several weeks ago about Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell. In a nutshell, Munroe basically wants the minister removed from his post because he feels that Mitchell is supporting an agenda that is ungodly and wrong.
Munroe has received sharp criticism from his statements from the local and international communities. There seems to be a shift toward persons who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) and there is strong support from the West that it is wrong to discriminate against persons of these orientations. U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged his support for the GLBT agenda. He has even praised people of fame for coming out of the closet, the most notable and recent being NBA veteran Jason Collins.
If we go deeper into what everyone is saying, we must first look at the source and what they stand for or represent. Munroe is a man of God and he believes in the Bible. Nowhere in the Bible does it give credence to men sleeping with men or women sleeping with woman. I wonder what would have been the reaction to Munroe's statement if he said that he supports GLBT lifestyles? Would the U.S. president have sent him a note too and supported his stance?
Fred Mitchell is a politician and we must realize that politicians always have shifting views on various subjects. I think it is dangerous to sit idly by and allow politicians to become our moral leaders and dictate to us because we will always have confusion and chaos.
In lieu of Munroe's statements, Mitchell sought fit to publicly bash him. I think this was in poor taste. When we have persons, especially politicians, publicly bashing our church leaders for biblical values that are entrenched in the Holy Bible and there is no public outcry, we then see how far our values have shifted as a country. I am of the view that if persons are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered then so be it. But I think that trying to convince the masses that this lifestyle is okay, to me, is being dishonest, deceitful and ungodly.
I honestly don't know if there is a scientific reason why persons are GLBT, but I do know that persons who truly believe in the Bible cannot support lifestyles that go contrary to God's teachings. Persons who are truly of God cannot have shifting views about their sexuality and this is why Munroe's statements as a man of God are on point. The criticisms leveled against him are certainly uncanny and distasteful.
Many world leaders and celebrities of all walks of life have given public support for the GLBT agenda. Many of them have their different desires and views on this subject but we must always remember the source - that is, who is making these utterances.
Our value system has deteriorated as a people and as a world. We are more tolerant of many things these days. We now have married men and women openly having sweethearts, school children hugging each other while walking home, persons in the church choir who are perpetrators of sin and known criminals in high office who are deserving of long prison sentences. Jean Toomer said, "Acceptance of prevailing standards often means we have no standards of our own."
I hate to say this but enshrined in our preamble to the constitution it clearly says that we are a nation of God. We can't have it both ways. If we don't do it the way God teaches us then we are acting contrary to His will.
I applaud Munroe for having the grit to speak biblically on this matter and I hope that persons understand that all of us are still God's people but that there are certain standards that must be maintained if we are calling ourselves Christians.
- Dehavilland Moss

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News Article
The illusion and magic of the circus

When Steven Best and Cassandra step onto the stage, their audience becomes a part of an unbelievable magic experience that will leave them mystified -- the master illusionist spins Cassandra's head in a full 360-degree turn -- and they remind you to remember to breathe as Cassandra fits herself into a small box and Steven pushes eight stainless steel, razor sharp spikes through her. This is the magic that Steven Best and Cassandra will bring to the stage as the circus has come to town.
So believe it or not, the circus will be truly amazing, based around a new cast performing and appearing on the popular television show "Ripley's Believe it or Not" and its famous museum in the United States. There will be 12 captivating performances of acrobats, contortionists, a Michael Jackson impersonator, local animals, famous cartoon characters such as Sponge Bob, Dora, Turtle and Elmo, a hilarious side-kick midget who will serve as co-ringmaster, daring swords swallowing act, rivaling Steven Best and Cassandra who headlined their own show in Las Vegas for five years, and who are now currently performing in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in their new large-scale illusion show "Magic Spectacular!" for the best acts of the show title.
The sword act duo known as Captain and Maybelle, promise a show that will be shocking and filled with laughter. The self-proclaimed partners in crime perform classic sideshow entertainment with a contemporary twist, delivering zingers and stingers. Captain is a sword swallower, human blockhead and fire breather.
Captain & Maybelle were on "America's Got Talent Season 6", and if you missed them there, it's another dynamic duo that will leave you astonished and shaking your head in disbelief. You can see them push each other to their utmost physical limits, combining unique sideshow talent and spot-on comedy that will make you laugh and cry and have you asking why. They will show you how they quickly became America's favorite sideshow couple.
Rounding out the must see-acts will be juggler, Jonathan Jackson, and of course the co-ringmaster Stanley B. Booker Jr. who performed with the Universoul Circus in Atlanta, Georgia.
The circus has been brought to town again for the fifth year, courtesy of David Wallace and Soft Touch Productions.
"This year's event will be a circus of soul with lots of music and entertainment to hype the crowd," said Wallace, who said he tries to bring in different acts every year to ensure that the show remains relevant and a must-attend event. "This year in particular, there will be eye-popping, jaw-dropping performances that will have the audience anxious and on the edge of their seats when they see particular acts."
Matinee shows will be held today at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs Gymnasium (KGLI) for schools at 10 a.m., with a 1:30 p.m. show at Gerald Cash Primary. Shows open to the public will be held tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. at KGLI.
Admission is $12 students, $11 for pre-school aged children and includes a hot dog and drink. Adult tickets are $15 general admission and $20 ringside seating.
Tickets can be purchased at Seventeen Shop, Collins Avenue, Carey's Department Store, Mackey Street, Conliffe's Bakery off Carmichael Road and the Original Swiss Sweet Shop, West Bay Street.

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News Article
The art of politics

If artists and politicians had a relationship status on Facebook, it would certainly read as "It's Complicated".
Art in its many forms has undeniable power, able to bring groups of people across social strata and cultures and even social beliefs together in an instant - just think of the myriad of pop culture musical references and local performances used in our political rallies. Did people really think Tina Turner would appear at an FNM rally? Did it matter once the turnout stretched beyond the eye? And how many undercover PLPs, DNAs or undecided voters attended - or attentively kept an eye on their TV screens at home - waiting to catch a glimpse of the beloved internationally-acclaimed musician? That's some powerful art.
Yet local artists will openly admit feeling like the jilted sweetheart of their political paramours, finding a lack of funding for their endeavors and no certain systems for their craft that can only be put in place by politicians through law. The truth is being an artist in The Bahamas means paying 45 percent duty on your supplies, battling a one-dimensional view of Bahamian culture that is synonymous with Junkanoo, a lack of government-issued incentives to develop their craft (funding, scholarships, awards, residencies, gallery/performance spaces, public art initiatives) and the push for sun-sand-and-sea tourism over untapped cultural tourism.
On the other side, politicians balance the cries from the art community for such change with the ever-pervasive belief that art is a luxury. Such efforts often give only just enough to artists for boasting rights during election time, yet leave artists unsatisfied and often resentful. The unfortunate inability to commit wholly to the arts in all of its forms just continues to perpetuate the art-as-luxury idea instead of helping the public to realize the necessity of art to expand the definition of Bahamian/Caribbean culture and identity.
After all, here in The Bahamas, the major political parties are reduced to a single color to drive their campaigns - "Red Splash" and "Gold Rush". And if that's not art as the most basic, one-dimensional way to powerfully define Bahamian identity, then I don't know what is.
Yet the resistance too from the political side comes from a long history of spats between artists and politicians - after all, art, as said before, is powerful, and when not in favor of the status quo can be quite problematic for authority figures defining issues for society in black-and-white terms or altogether pulling the wool over the public's eyes. Through socially critical work, artists keep authority figures and societies honest, and complicate objective stances with subjective realities.
Take the work by artist Dionne Benjamin-Smith. In her earliest printmaking pieces, she explored the politics of the feminine in raw, honest linoleum-cuts that confronted viewers with its uncensored imagery and themes.
Now working in digital media and drawing more heavily from her graphic design background, she continues to make work that keeps authority on its toes. For that she's been called an artist that expresses social commentary or a political artist, and has garnered equal shares of criticism and praise for her fearlessness and ability to present troublesome political decisions or social trends in clever representations, such as the "Black Crab Pledge of Allegiance" and "Bishops Bishops Everywhere But Not a Drop to Drink".
"What drives me is speaking the truth - showing the naked emperor - so people can make their own decisions on how they view a situation," said Benjamin-Smith. "I am constantly thinking about issues I see before me. I pray about them and I am often moved to express them in some way through the work. Hopefully, people will see the truth of a situation and that the authority figures will see that the people aren't stupid. Hopefully, it helps bring truth to a world that is very messed up."
Her latest collection of work, "Birthright for Sale" which was on display at Popopstudios Center for the Visual Arts during the Transforming Spaces 2011 tour, aimed to bring new perspective to recent political decisions regarding the sale of Bahamian land and Bahamian companies. Ripped-from-the-headlines issues such as the BTC sale to Cable & Wireless and the Mayaguana land sell-off are repackaged as everyday cheap Bahamian products like Mahatma Rice, Wesson Oil and Carnation Cream, shown as individual products then represented in ubiquitous food store ad placements, all shared on a loop of digital image slides to non-descript elevator music.
"All these huge swaths of land being given away for such little in return; it grieves me," said Benjamin-Smith. "I'm witnessing these things and I wondered how to express this indignation, how to show people what's being done because so many people don't see. How do I express that our land is being sold away from under our feet?"
"The idea of them selling The Bahamas as a product came to me, selling these places that were and are special to me and is the birthright of me and my Bahamian brothers and sisters," she continued. "I included the details of the transactions on each product so people could see the truth of the matter - that their birthright was being sold like a product off the shelf - for a pittance."
Like in her earlier pieces, Benjamin-Smith brings the absurdities of reality to extremes in order to shake a response from her viewers. Indeed the pieces, critical of both politicians' decisions to sell off Bahamian land like a cheap product and of the public for not holding them accountable, are a case of "laughing so as not to cry" - the product design itself is enough to weigh on any viewer's conscience.
Indeed her work is a powerful voice in contemporary Bahamian art, being one of those artists who feel the responsibility to keep authority figures and their decisions in check for the greater good - and in a smart, respectful way, too. She even makes her pieces first and foremost for the people she's questioning, allowing society at large to bear witness to such confrontation and find their own voice in the crossfire.
"I'm respectful of the position of authority, and God says to be so, however when they're doing wrong or they're not honoring or doing the things they need to be doing, then they need to be shown," she said.
"I want them to see how their actions affect society. I'm always wanting the politicians to see - and to understand that they're not doing these things in darkness, they're not doing this without people seeing and knowing, and hopefully they will be convicted that some of their actions are hurtful and detrimental and affect people."
With work like that by Benjamin-Smith, the fear shared by many politicians is always that the art itself will not supplement them and their decisions but rather come to define them or usurp them and become the center of controversy - and a force for social or political change - themselves.
Indeed when it comes to politics, often a single image can define an entire political movement or change - from J. M. Flagg's 1917 Uncle Sam "I Want You" poster to Shepard Fairey's 2008 Obama "Hope" poster, artists have been taking their social and political beliefs to the public eye. But whether to slant public opinion or shed truth on a matter, such work has great power that stays in the public's consciousness throughout time - whether they consider such work fine art, tribute, or extreme propaganda.
Take a mural recently designed by Kishan Munroe, commissioned by the Democratic National Alliance candidate, Wayne Munroe. The impressive piece shows Wayne Munroe close to the front of a pack of people from a wide cross-section of Bahamian society walking in the glow of a lighthouse toward a better future, leaving catastrophe - in the symbol of a shipwreck and natural disasters - behind.
It's easy to label the work as a piece of political propaganda, yet Munroe insists it's an idea he's been manifesting for some time during his travels abroad. As quite the global political and social activist, Munroe has traveled worldwide to find the source of the human experience which he reflects in his artwork. He's attended protests for Occupy Wall Street and stood in solidarity with global groups calling for justice. Knowing this progressive background may be the difference between taking a cursory look at his mural and searching for the deeper meaning he always aims to incorporate into his work.
"The sketch wasn't specifically for them, it was an idea I've always had, a theme I've always wanted to work with," said Munroe. "Wayne Munroe has always supported my endeavors, and he wasn't trying to take advantage of me for political reasons."
"In the beginning he was only asking for something to beautify the place, and me being the artist that I am, I decided to take it to a totally different level, especially after my mural (on 'Da Balcony') burned down on Bay Street," he continued. "I felt compelled to make a statement, another national statement about contemporary issues we have, and something that is more uplifting, relevant, and doesn't sugar coat issues."
So is it propaganda? Then again, it depends whose interests are being served, and how damaging that is to the wider public. Many may find the road signs sharing "abstinence-only" tips or blatantly declaring "homosexuals aren't allowed into my kingdom" as problematic pieces of propaganda Bahamians see every day that perpetuate ignorance and hatred, however well-intentioned they may be by those who placed them in the public's eye.
From the artist's perspective, Munroe believes his piece doesn't exist to gain DNA votes from the public - it's a call to action to the Bahamian public in general, including politicians. After all, it's only DNA-centered because the party commissioned it - he insists he would have made a similar mural had the FNM or PLP approached him instead.
"The message would still be the same, it would have the same feeling. The piece isn't of Wayne Munroe; Wayne Munroe is of the piece," he said. "I don' feel it has that strong of a political implication because at the end of the day this is about the progression of a people to move forward."
"That's why he's closer to the front - not right at the front - because he is of the people. But most of the dynamic figures are those before and behind him, because the composition overall comes from the motion of the people as one."
Indeed, by no means is the poster one-dimensional: from the "in-between" orange hue mixing red and yellow, to the figures - worker, educator, planner - who all have a role to play to salvage society, to Wayne Munroe's garb of half-lawyer, half-everyday man, the mural is an impressive call to arms to not only the public, but to politicians as well, to move through these turbulent times with a master plan to uplift the nation.
Indeed, to Munroe, everything we see and do is a political act whether we are consciously aware of it or not, and has consequences. For him, such work is a rarity in Bahamian culture, and he calls for artists to continue to make work that challenges its viewers with its social commentary.
"Any art is propaganda, because at the end of the day you're trying to get people to respond to your thoughts, to what you believe and what you want the piece to say," pointed out Munroe.
"It's important for me to be able to not only share my international experiences but also to actually use a visual language to create an alphabet for Bahamians to understand. This is a visual language of globally turbulent times but it's also a Bahamian dialect of a visual language they can understand."
In the end, who can say when art crosses into the sphere of propaganda? If an artist's work isn't openly critical and rather praises a politician or a movement, then many may say such a tribute - like Munroe's - is propaganda by nature. Is this fair? Must artists only be critical, or can they be in support of an idea without being blamed for selling themselves out?
A clever way to address political beliefs no matter what the alignment is through humor - and with the road to the 2012 election unfolding the way it has been with a exhausting amount of mudslinging and bipartisanship from three main political parties, there is no shortage of material for satire, as seen in the various comics or cartoons in the daily newspaper.
Especially in this digital age of social media where nothing escapes the public eye, the true ugliness of political races happen in real time - more so now than in any other time in history. For artist Damaso Gray, whose piece "The Amazing Spectacular Circus 2012" has been making the rounds this political season, the use of satire can keep things in perspective. In this outrageous piece, Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie battle it out on sea creatures while Branville McCartney observes from a distance, giving new meaning to "the silly season".
"I wanted to bring humor to the occasion to enlighten the people of the grandeur of events in Bahamian history," said Gray. "I feel that it was about time that we see politics from an unbiased and insightful point of view."
"I think that the audience should see it as just that amusement rather than take it so seriously. I would hope the public sees the election campaign as it really is: a spectacle to amuse and gain the interest of the people at any cost, using multiple props and comedic mudslinging."
Yet Gray also operates from a space of honoring history, recognizing his role as an artist often intersects with that of a historian, and makes his work accordingly. In the diptych, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide", two elderly figures sit in front of two political signs - one for the PLP and one for the FNM. Gray points out that he wanted to show that these people are very set in their ways, but that the younger generation could "capitalize on their mistakes" to move the country forward.
In the end, he insists it's important, once the viewer understand the humor in his work, to move past it and come to the realization that Bahamians have to be for Bahamians - not for a certain party.
"My work I would hope gives an unbiased report of the event and gains a humorous but rationale response where it is plausible to see the event retrospectively," he said. "I would hope the public would embrace and appreciate the art as it is one of the greatest political battles in Bahamian history."
"I would hope politicians value our opinions on the how we feel about the process. It is significant that they engage artist to document Bahamian history and I hope that they see it fit to create historical spaces for the arts."
Indeed, at the root of every politically- or socially-minded piece - despite criticism, despite support, despite humor - is that very hope to be taken seriously as a member of the voting public who wishes to see a better Bahamas - a member of the voting public who sees the potential in Bahamian society and culture as still tragically untapped by their political caretakers.
For the artist, politics continues to offer a torrid affair, a constant balancing act what is and what could be, that irresistible urge to ask "what if?" even when presented with hopelessness. And if their work can help even one other member of the voting public not to decide who to vote for but to think beyond red, yellow and green, then perhaps they too can demand politicians of any party build that bridge between reality and dream together.

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News Article
Man who escaped hangman's noose says he wants to do good

To meet Stafford Clarke now, you may not believe that the quiet, unassuming man spent 25 years in prison for murder.
Clarke, 58, said he used that time to turn his life around.
As a youth, Clarke admits that he fell in with the wrong crowd.
That wrong path eventually led to a murder conviction in 1985 for the shooting death of Leon Pratt a year earlier in what Clarke claimed was a drug deal gone sour.
Clarke was released from prison in March 2010 as a consequence of the landmark 2006 Privy Council decision in Forrester Bowe Jr. and Trono Davis that determined the death penalty was discretionary and not mandatory and should be reserved for exceptionally gruesome killings.
By that time, Clarke's mandatory death sentence had already been commuted to life in compliance with the Jamaican case of Pratt and Morgan that banned executions after five years on death row.
Clarke had to be resentenced because the decision in Bowe and Davis invalidated his original sentence of death.
The sentencing judge considered the circumstances of Clarke's crime and the progress he made while in prison before determining that he was a fit candidate for re-entry into society.
Now Clarke said he spends his time trying to convince wayward youth to avoid the same mistakes that he made.
Clarke said he often spoke to students when they visited the prison.
"Anytime I see wayward youth, I tell them they need to better their condition," he said.
"I tell them make sure get your education because you're not going to get far without it. Discover your purpose and walk in your anointing.
"You can't get sucked into the vacuum of lawlessness because those things are going to lead you to destruction and death."
Clarke said he delivered this message to group of young men who he encountered on the street recently.
One of them who dismissed his advice as "foolishness" is now in prison, Clarke said, adding that the young man's friends thanked him for reaching out to them and helping them avoid the same fate.
"If I can reach one," he said, "it isn't in vain. I feel that it's my calling to motivate wayward kids."
Born to a single parent, Clarke said his mom tried to steer him on the right path "but I was rebellious and followed Satan, instead of following my divine creator."
Clarke said he regretted not completing high school and getting a college degree.
However, he said he made up for the deficiencies in his education while in prison by taking classes and doing a lot of reading.
Clarke learned to do electrical work while in prison and he has used that trade to sustain himself. He said he was also taught sewing, plumbing and welding at the prison.
Clarke said he was devastated when he went to prison because he left behind three children and an unborn child.
He said reading the Bible sustained him because it gave him "the peace of mind to know there is life beyond prison".
"I had that feeling that one day I was going to emerge from prison and make a positive contribution to society and live a life that was pleasing to God," Clarke said.
He said he was scheduled to be hanged on April 11, 1989, but was granted a stay. He considers that reprieve as divine intervention.
Clarke recalls, "I had been praying a lot, reading my Bible, trying to get my mind spiritually inclined. It's as if God stepped in. I felt he was responding to me."
Clarke said he does not believe the death penalty is a deterrent to a potential killer. He said there were three murders shortly after his death warrant was read.
"A lot of guys don't think," he said. "They just react. And if that means killing someone, they do."
Clarke said that prior to his murder conviction, he served three years in prison for robbery.
"At that time I just did my time," he said. "I didn't use my time. I sat back and counted days on the calendar."
However, he said most inmates who serve sentences of 20 years or more lose the inclination to reoffend.
"After doing that amount of time, you don't allow anyone to suck you into a vacuum that's going to lead you back to prison," he said.
Clarke said that while attending a recent crime symposium he suggested that the government amend the laws to give longer prison terms for firearms to deter gun crimes.
"It looks as though I'm wrong. A lot of guys, if they're going to church they carry a gun because of their lifestyle," he said.
"I spoke to a guy and he said, 'I don't care how much time they give me. I'm going to have my gun with me wherever I go'."
Clarke said although he was "wayward", he never had a need to be armed constantly. He said his gun wasn't for protection "but a working tool".
"Our country on the whole has taken some dramatic turns for the worse," he said.
"Before witnesses made it to court. That doesn't happen anymore. Guys today, they're more bold. They don't care, where, who or why. They just do what they want to do. A lot of guys they just don't care what's going to happen.
"I consider myself a part of the problem. This mayhem and chaos began in the 80s. I'll do anything right now to be a small part of the solution. We're a country used to tranquility. I trust that before I go I can see our nation come back to that."

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News Article
RBC supports 2014 Sunshine Insurance Race Weekend

More than 1,150 runners will pound the pavement at the 2014 Sunshine Insurance Race Weekend, beginning on January 18, 2014. RBC has renewed its support of the event for the fourth consecutive year. Marathon Bahamas, as it is affectionately known by running enthusiasts around the world, includes events for persons of varying abilities and fitness levels. In addition to the Marathon and Half Marathon, Marathon Bahamas includes a four-person relay, with distances ranging from 5.7 miles to 7.5 miles, and the Susan G. Komen Bahamas Race for the Cure 5K.
The Sunshine Insurance Race Weekend has become an increasingly popular event for both local and international runners. Marathon Bahamas hosts close to 500 international runners, has contributed $260,000 to the fight against cancer and continues to draw both participants and spectators from every walk of life. Joining in the race this year will be more than 100 RBC employees. Nathaniel Beneby, managing director, RBC Royal Bank, expressed his pleasure that so many RBC employees are taking advantage of the opportunity to participate in race weekend at cost fully subsidized by RBC.
"RBC is delighted that so many of our employees have accepted the Marathon Bahamas challenge. RBC is proud to once again support the Sunshine Insurance Race Weekend. The event is a wonderful opportunity to get fit, have fun and support a worthwhile cause."
RBC is committed to raising awareness about breast cancer and to supporting cancer research and education not only through supporting external initiatives such as Marathon Bahamas, but also through the RBC/RBTT Caribbean Children's Cancer Fund. The fund was established five years ago to assist young persons throughout the Caribbean who have been diagnosed with cancer.
The Sunshine Insurance Race Weekend kicks off the morning of January 18th with the 5K Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. The race raises awareness about the fight against breast cancer, honors those who have lost their battle to breast cancer and celebrates breast cancer survivors. The race begins at Montagu Beach and ends at Paradise Island. The Bahamas Marathon, the feature event, is scheduled for Sunday, January 19th, 2014. The full marathon begins at 6 a.m. at Junkanoo Beach.
Proceeds from all Marathon Bahamas events will benefit the Cancer Society of The Bahamas, the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, Sister Sister Breast Cancer Support Group, the Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative and the Cancer Association of Grand Bahama.

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News Article
Architects to kick off Islands of the World Fashion Showcase with wearable art

NASSAU, Bahamas - Fashion designers won't be the only ones in the
spotlight at the much anticipated

Islands of the World Fashion Showcase
(IWFS) on

May 11th and 12th.

Four artisans from very different design fields have accepted the
challenge of taking materials they would traditionally use to build and
accessorize homes, offices and other buildings and make them fit on a
new kind of canvas - the human body.

Val Pintard, Apryl Burrows and the team of Reuno Pratt and Elizabeth
Clarke are the first official class of the newly created category of
IWFS, the


L. Burnside Fashion and Design Presentation. The
division highlights one...

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News Article
Tourism plan to boost economic impact

With 65 percent of The Bahamas' total $500 million in room revenue being generated by just one hotel, the Ministry of Tourism has devised a plan to diversify the tourism sector through government intervention to increase connectivity for international passengers into and out of the Family Islands and the creation of a tourism master plan.
Director General of Tourism David Johnson, in an extensive interview with Guardian Business, said that after 50 years in tourism The Bahamas continues to be too focused on Nassau and Paradise Island, with the result that tourism is not supporting the economic and social development of the country to the degree that it could.
However, he said that the potential from diversification is massive and he explained a plan which he anticipates could begin to yield significant returns for the Family Islands by the fourth quarter of this year.
Charging that now is the time to "charter a new strategic direction" to enhance the contribution of tourism to the economy, Johnson said that two things must occur: The extension of convenient, visible and cost-effective airlift into the Family Islands, and the generation of a "master plan" that will see the touristic development of particular islands guiding which investment proposals are solicited or accepted, rather than proposals driving the development trajectory of particular islands.
"We should not be evaluating proposals in a vacuum. We should know what we want to happen in a particular island and seek out proposals that fit that," said Johnson.
With respect to expanding airlift into the Family Islands, Johnson said that the goal is to increase occupancy at Family Islands resorts from an average of 38 percent, by around 25 percent, to a position where they are operating in a sustainable way. He said that through partnerships between the government and private airlines, it is his belief that through various steps that will be taken this year, this can start to be achieved in 2015.
Airlift as 'infrastructure'
Johnson said that making a genuine change in the progress of economic development in The Bahamas will require "mandating" the provision of key infrastructure that serves the Family Islands - with airlift falling into this category.
"As much as we saw the need for roads in Nassau so people could get to school and to work, this is the same thing. Getting the air network to a competitive level is also going to cost a lot less.
"It revolves around rationalizing the role of Bahamasair as a service provider and the other licensed carriers providing that service.
"From a consumer perspective, if we can enable consumers in New York, London, Atlanta, China or Latin America to search and see these islands and see them in the same way that they can see and search Nassau and Grand Bahama - to find out how soon they can get there and what transport options are available; and book their passage and connect the same day at fares within the same range to come to Nassau and Grand Bahama, I think we will begin in a very, very, real way to diversify our tourism industry. Until then we will not - and 80 percent of our revenue will continue to go into one or two guys' pockets. And God forbid anything happens to them.
"So the government's role is to provide the climate and infrastructure for this to happen."
Johnson argued that emphasis has been placed on providing inter-island flights at times that are convenient for Bahamians, but these are not always convenient for tourists, and this - along with the inability to see domestic flights in international booking systems - has depressed Family Island stopover arrivals.
When visitors go from Nassau to the Family Islands, they more often than not cannot connect both in and out in without staying overnight in Nassau or waiting for extended periods of time at the Lynden Pindling International Airport.
"So you can go at 6.30 a.m. to Abaco, and then the flight in the evening is at best about 5 p.m. You can connect on the return but you might arrive at 7 a.m. in Nassau and not be able to leave until 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.
"We have to encourage growth in the amount of equipment (aircraft) and the ability to deliver more critical mass of services to the islands. We have to say in this first year we will grow tourism to Family Islands by 25 percent. We have to engage and invite those providers to roll the dice for us... they will put in the extra flights and by that I mean some that turn around sometime after 11 a.m. and before 2 p.m.
"We can make smart investment decisions and we will engage the operators on the basis of a proposal where there's an upside to them embracing what we are suggesting. There's a business risk to bring the comfort to a provider, sometimes it becomes the issue of a joint venture, so if we have to invest as an agency to make things happen then we will do that.
"If we have to make an investment I can't think of one where we would get better value for money. If we can start with six strategic Family Island gateways where you can connect the same day, it would make a huge difference.
Re-crafted Bahamasair
In conjunction with increasing the service provided by domestic private airlines, Bahamasair is expected to play a greater role in servicing international routes and driving down fares.
"As a country there's an understated role that Bahamasair as a national flag carrier can play in the economic development of the tourism and the country, and it has much more to do with how it should be able to perform as a low fare, high frill provider of jet service to our major markets.
"We have the ability to influence airfares that are representative of our proximity to the marketplace - today our airfares do not reflect our proximity. That is the role of our re-crafted Bahamasair, and in my view this can be done with less than the current level of subsidy."
Johnson said that Family Island resort partners the Ministry of Tourism has spoken to about the plan "without exception support it, and see the need for it".
"I am confident we will get this plan embraced, can execute it, and will see the benefit of it in the fourth quarter," he said.
Discussions with domestic airlines
With respect to the private domestic airlines that will play a pivotal role in the plan, Johnson said an initial approach was shared.
"We have had meetings on that. They have agreed on the platform (but) there are two paths to it: Path 'A' they were aware of and has complications that we've addressed; path 'B' is the revised approach, I haven't shared that with them, but I will in short order.
"It will require additional equipment and expansion by service providers, but with some philosophical change that must accompany the actions that will follow, which will enable this to happen very quickly.
"But we have to give responsible reasons for those providers to get into expansion mode. They've got to see where that makes business sense, we have to demonstrate that, and we can."
Johnson said The Bahamas' has "only just scratched the surface" of its potential in tourism.
"If we were all stock, The Bahamas' earning potental for investors or owners is so much greater because we've used less than five per cent of our capacity; some of our competitors have used more than 60 percent, so there's not much remaining life there.
"We have almost 200 hotels in The Bahamas, but our energy has been too heavily focused on the capital."

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News Article
Miss Teen Bahamas International offers top model title

It's pageant season and the Contestant Debut & All-White Party fundraiser of Miss Teen Bahamas International (MTBI) is just one of many events lined up on the extensive calendar for the twelve incredible young ladies in this year's pageant. Scheduled for April 11, the contestants will take to the stage in their first and official presentation to the Bahamian public at The Courtyard at J-line Fitness, Shirley Street.
Miss Teen Bahamas International organization has partnered with one of the largest and most reputable modeling agencies in the world, Major Model Management. Anthony Smith, the national director of MTBI, closed the deal a week ago with great optimism and excitement.
"It was one of the most difficult tasks in terms of negotiation we have had to do in years, simply because this is not something that is orthodox in the modeling and pageant world. Model agencies are not fond of pageant ladies and beauty queens and although the pageant community has been more welcoming with young ladies who are of the model type becoming beauty queens, it is rare that the two roads meet."
Considering there are so many teen pageants now coming up, what does Miss Teen Bahamas International offer that attracts young ladies to your pageant?
We have a comprehensive "Enrichment Program" that includes modeling classes, make-up application, self-defense, film production, communication and public speaking, health and nutrition and so much more in between. We want each lady to leave feeling empowered and self-sufficient. Our program offers training that will be useful to the young ladies long term.
Why did you include a modeling competition segment in your beauty pageant? And what are the requirements?
The same as the pageant requirement. Young ladies must be between 15 and 19 years. No children and free from criminal charges. There's not a height requirement. MTBI included the supermodel competition because I've seen lots of girls who have successfully made the transition from beauty queen to cover girl, spokesperson or runway model. It seems to me to be a matter of teaching them the right way to do it. Some of them find out later that the pageant world is sometimes a light step towards introducing them to the world of endless excitement that comprises modeling. After their introductions, many of them care very little about the answering of questions, judges interviews, etc and would much prefer to walk the runway, showcasing fine designer pieces.
What are the prizes for the winner for the Teen Super Model?
A one year contract with Major Model Management agency with locations in New York, Miami, Milan and Paris, and $10,000 in prizes including round trip travel to New York for a model portfolio shoot, cosmetic products, wardrobes and cash. There is also an opportunity of a lifetime for the winner to model on the international stage for some of the major designers. The opportunities and possibilities that come with all of this are endless. This is major for any young lady who is wishing to get a jump start in the modeling industry. She does not have to compete at another competition after ours for the Super Model spot. If she wins, she is automatically contracted.

Do you feel that there is a big enough market for models in The Bahamas to find work?
Certainly not, but that doesn't mean it does not exist and the push towards developing and acquiring work for local talents is not unattainable. I see many local talents modeling for local beverage companies, clothing stores, restaurants and jewelry shops. We have to simply be able to show merchants, designers and brands that we are serious about what we are and how we do it! With our training and guidance the vast array of local talent can receive the same value, if not more, with the beautiful resources we have here.
What is the next step for Miss Teen Bahamas International?
Along with our relentless and foremost pursuit to finalizing a four-year scholarship for our queens, we are always in pursuit of putting The Bahamas on the map by winning an international title, even if it does not come in the form of the young lady winning. It might happen by virtue of one of our former delegates winning Miss Bahamas and then winning the Miss Universe. But either way, pushing for our country to take pride in enlightening our young ladies and getting the best of what we have to offer here getting only the most excellent out of them in the pageant and modeling community.
What makes MTBI different or unique from other local teen pageants?
We are risk takers. There is nothing in the form of personal development, community service and pageant program building that I will not consider as long as it stays within the context of a teen and a wholesome lifestyle. There are not sufficient programs out there that are offering modeling, make-up, self-defense, film production, life coaching, social etiquette, personal communication and public speaking. We seem to have lost it. So, there's a challenge among young good men to find great wives because some times they might be smart, career oriented but not refined. No grooming or poor grooming can determine a young ladies' fate in the world, much like the story of Queen Esther in the Old Testament.
What advice would you give to young ladies who are shy and really don't like people staring at them?
Welcome to the real world! They will regardless. So make sure when they do the staring and the talking, make it worth it. Remember, you are a child of the universe and have a right to be here, and it is up to you to ensure that your value is not diminished by other people's opinion or perception of you, or actions against you. It has been my personal experience that the things that intimidated me most, or that I feared, were the ones that were leading me to my calling and my opportunities.
How would you rate your reigning queen?
Angel is a 10 all the way. We love her! What can I say, she's a teen and a growing young lady with lots of ambition and drive, and desires to know, learn and become. She has come a long way since the evening of her crowning, and she has her own philosophy and her own way of how to make things work. It's exciting to see that. MTBI encourages that. She is a true leader, highly and strongly opinionated, so we are proud of her accomplishments and her as a representative for our MTBI title."
When is the date of your pageant?
June 1, at the Rainforest Theatre, Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace.
oFor more information contact Miss Teen Bahamas International at 676-5156 or Check us out on Facebook at missteenbahamasinternational

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News Article
BTC shares may be up for grabs

Prime Minister Perry Christie has indicated that he is minded to offer shares in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company to the general public and added that the government has no interest in having managerial control of BTC.
"The way of the future really is that we have to, like the Bank of The Bahamas, involve more Bahamians in the ownership of these entities, and so from my point of view, without prejudging the government, the answer is yes to that question," said Christie when asked if he would ever offer shares in BTC to Bahamians.
Upon coming to office in 2012, Christie announced that his administration was shelving the Ingraham government's plan to offer nine percent of BTC shares to Bahamians.
While Christie indicated in a recent interview with The Nassau Guardian that the government would likely eventually sell shares, he made it clear that the focus at this time is concluding the deal with Cable & Wireless Communications for majority control of BTC.
The Cabinet will today discuss the final details of the deal, according to the prime minister, who again expressed optimism in the outcome of the effort.
Christie said it was never his intention for the government to have managerial control of BTC.
"The reason why I have put the airport under management is because I accept the efficiencies that private managers bring, and so I want Bahamasair, I want BEC, I want the water corporation, I want to be able to infuse private management into some of these because we're losing money and I want to be able to broaden ownership and the risk and the responsibility," he said.
"So no. From my purposes, that was never an issue when we were talking about owning 51 percent and intending to sell in our first term. We always knew that it would be private management that would be the order of the day.
The prime minister said from his point of view, the deal to acquire a majority interest in BTC is "complete". But he said, "When we announce this, I want to do it knowing that the government has agreed."
Christie added, "From the point of view of the government of The Bahamas, the government of The Bahamas must actually see the dots and the crossed Ts -- in other words, the literal agreement or memorandum of understanding itself.
"From my point of view, from the point of view of the committee I have appointed, we have completed that. I think the country will have a very interesting set of propositions that will be put to them.
"And to those people who told me don't waste my time, they will have, I think, a surprising outcome to this whole affair."
Christie also told The Nassau Guardian that the deal to restructure the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is "nearing its final stages".
KPMG is one of the government's advisors for the breakup of BEC and was expected to make recommendations to the government about the preferred bidders that propose to take over the corporation's management and power generation.
The company also advised the Ingraham administration before it sold BTC to Cable & Wireless Communications.
Asked why his administration, which was highly critical of the BTC deal, decided to use KPMG as its advisor for the BEC deal, Christie said, "I thought in the process they would be the best of the people available to us to take this deal to the conclusion we would like to see.
"The Ministry of Finance was using them on other matters, like for example, the Ministry of Finance had used them to examine subsidies to hotels and the tourism industry, and so it was a natural fit for us we thought since they had been through the learning experience of BTC, for us to use them for BEC, and it has proven to be so."

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News Article
Bodybuilding nationals set for June in Freeport

With Freeport, Grand Bahama coming on stream as a major player in bodybuilding and fitness in the country, that sport's national championships is now being moved to that island. For the first time in the history of the country, the Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation's (BBFF) National Championships will be held in the nation's second city. The 39th annual Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) sponsored event is set for Saturday June 21, at the Our Lucaya Resort, in Grand Bahama.
"The main thing is to give them a chance to see what they can do," said federation president Danny Sumner. "They have been calling for this for a while, and now they have it. A lot of the athletes themselves are from Grand Bahama. There was a time when Grand Bahama dominated the nationals, and it was just over the last 10 years, when New Providence took control and reigned supreme. Now, we are seeing a return to prominence for Grand Bahama."
Actually, all four overall national champions from a year ago hail from Grand Bahama. Rob Harris and Tammy Stubbs won the overall titles in male and female bodybuilding respectively, Charnice Bain was the overall winner in fitness, and Dominique Wilkinson prevailed in body fitness. They are expected to be back to defend their titles. Veteran Raymond Tucker and former overall winner Lorraine Lefleur are expected to make the trek to Grand Bahama to compete as well.
Apart from being in Grand Bahama, the nationals will have an added twist this year, as it is being combined with the novice championships and the Northern Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships. The novice athletes will still enter as novices, and will still be judged as such, while the northern Bahamas athletes are expected to be an added treat.
"First of all, I want to apologize to the novice athletes who have been training for not being able to stage the novice championships
separately this year. Quite frankly, we didn't have enough athletes entered. Anytime you have less than 10 athletes entered to compete, it doesn't make sense to go ahead with that particular event. One of the problems that we have faced is that the government has cut back on funding as it has done with all of the sporting federations. Hopefully, the ministry can make some adjustment in that regard. It is expensive for us to put these shows on, and it is expensive for the athletes to compete. Over the last two years, we have still been going to the CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Championships, but we had to cut back on the teams. These are just some of the challenges that we are looking at now."
The New Providence athletes who cannot make the trip to Grand Bahama do have something to look forward to this year though. According to the local association president Stephen Robinson, a fitness and physique competition is set for June right here in New Providence. Despite the setbacks this year, federation president Sumner said that they still have plans on the drawing board to expand the sport here in The Bahamas.
"Well, we have to find a way to venture into the high schools," he said. "We had one successful year where we had about 12-15 athletes, but we have to see if we can keep that going on a more consistent basis. It is our objective to sit down and see if we can formalize a plan with the incoming minister. I would like to officially congratulate him on his new post. Fitness and overall health are some of the main goals of the federation. We're looking at getting more people involved, possibly taking it into the Family Islands.
"When you look at most of our senior athletes, they have reached an age where they are almost at retirement. There is just one senior athlete who has been competing consistently over the past 20 years, and that's Raymond Tucker. Hats off to him for his performances over the past 20 years or more. Other than him, most of the senior athletes have reached the age where they don't want to get back in shape or it is difficult to get back in shape. Therefore, our main goal is to bring more young talent into the sport. What better place to start than in the high schools."
Out of the national championships in Grand Bahama, teams will be named for the Antilles and Southern Caribbean Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships, and the CAC Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships. The Antilles is set for late August in Trinidad and Tobago, and the 40th CAC Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships is set to be held from September 20-22, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sumner said that it is the plans of the federation to send national teams to both events.

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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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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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FNM MP criticizes ministers' decision to carry guns

Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner said yesterday Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage's decision to carry a gun could have a negative impact on the society and urged the government to rethink that decision.
"The record reflects that no previous minister of any government has ever carried arms and I would ask this government to reflect on the gravity of what is happening and reconsider that decision because it now opens the door to perhaps allowing our country to become a legal gun-toting society," said Butler-Turner during debate on the budget in the House of Assembly yesterday.
Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell confirmed earlier this week that he and the minister of national security are personally armed with police issued firearms.
Butler-Turner, who is also the Free National Movement (FNM) deputy leader, said she is opposed to this "reckless action".
"I cried yesterday that we have come to a point in our country where ministers of the government now see fit to be armed with automatic weapons," she said.
Butler-Turner said even though she received two death threats while she was minister of state for social development, she never felt the need to arm herself.
"There is nowhere in this country where I'm afraid to go even as a woman," she said.
Butler-Turner quoted a Nassau Guardian article in which Bell explained, "As a minister of national security it would not only be prudent, but it would be unwise for a minister who has to...make critical decisions which deal with life to not be armed given the serious business and nature and decisions that he has to make."
But Butler-Turner said, "To have the national security minister armed, where does that put our people who don't have... bodyguards, who feel unsafe in their homes? Where does that put us?"
MP for Mangrove Cay and South Andros Picewell Forbes insisted that the previous National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest carried a weapon, however, Butler-Turner denied that claim.
"Whenever arms are distributed from the armory, they are signed for. There is a record of every firearm taken from the armory," she added.
Turnquest previously said he has never carried a weapon.
Earlier in the week, Bell said both he and Nottage have been trained to use firearms.
But Butler-Turner questioned their level of training. She said the matter is too serious to be taken lightly.
"The level of acrimony that happens right here within the chambers of this place and the level of anger that some people display in here, when they are armed with a gun it makes it that much worse," she said. "We do not know what we can do when we become angry."
As it relates to crime in general, Butler-Turner said the government must increase its efforts to reduce crime.
She noted the large number of murders committed since the PLP won the election on May 7. Twenty murders were recorded since then.
"The government was overall unprepared for office on day one," Butler-Turner said.
"The past few weeks demonstrate that it is shockingly unprepared to aggressively combat the scourge of violent crime.
"The rapid escalation of crime and drug and gang related violence raises troubling questions."

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News Article
BPC begins 'farm-in' negotiations

The Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) has begun negotiations with major oil and gas companies in an effort to secure financing for an exploratory well.
The disclosure, included in a presentation to shareholders, details how "farm-in negotiations" are underway and expected to continue into July. A "farm-in" may serve as an operational and equity partner for BPC. While it is unknown what negotiations have taken place, oil and gas giants Shell, Exxon or British Petroleum, for example, could fit the bill and provide considerable backing and expertise.
In May, Guardian Business reported how BPC enlisted Applied Drilling Technology (ADT) to help carry out the exploratory well. ADT, a subsidiary of Transocean, is a service provider that is simply contracted for the work.
Indeed, recent negotiations with a financing partner indicate that BPC is still full steam ahead on its plans to spud an exploratory well next year.
Simon Potter, the CEO of BPC, did not return requests for comment before press time.
The presentation, held in London late last week, goes on to detail how the drilling program will be funded from new sources, such as the farm-in and a "placing".
A placing implies that BPC could offer another initial public offering (IPO) and release more shares into the London Stock Exchange.
The presentation injected a measure of confidence into investors on Friday. BPC shares rose 4.19 percent for the day, ending at 7.71 pence per share. The latest target, according to the report, is 23 pence per share, with a "risked upside" of a whopping 400 pence.
At present, 80 percent of the investors in BPC are from the UK, 15 percent from Europe, and five percent other. Retail investors make up 60 percent of the total register.
While the mood among investors remains upbeat, the political situation in The Bahamas remains one of the biggest sources of concern. Just prior to the election, the former government suspended BPC's exploratory licenses, and the new administration is noncommittal on the issue.
According to the recent presentation to investors, BPC states that: "license 'shall' be renewed" (with quotes over the word "shall"). It also notes that it plans to commence a well "by end of first year", which opens the door for a revised schedule.
BPC had previously committed to spudding a well no later than April 2013.
"The government is working to put regulations in place to oversee activities," the presentation stated. Meanwhile, BPC said it is aligning itself with "best practices" seen in Norway, the UK and the US "as we prepare to drill".
Earlier this month, Kenred Dorsett, the minister of the environment, insisted that the government is still undecided on the issue of oil drilling. He also backtracked on whether a referendum would take place.
"We do believe that the Bahamian people ought to be consulted, Whether it goes the extent of a referendum, that will have to be determined based on the costs. That is a matter for the Cabinet to decide on," he said.
Dorsett has not elaborated on what other public consultation would be available.
The company's financial statements reveal BPC spent a total of $38.9 million in 2011. Detailed 3D seismic testing took up the lion's share at $29.4 million.
Total cash came in at $35.5 million, and it reported total funding raised from IPOs and original shares of $104.3 million.

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83M NCP eyes full consolidation

The Nassau Container Port (NCP) has spent $75 million so far on development to Nassau's new front door, reporting that all major shipping companies have fully uprooted operations from downtown.
But work still remains. Top executives at the port said a further $7 million is still to be spent on infrastructure, and before shipping operations are fully consolidated, the companies need to "fit out" their leased space at the Gladstone Freight Terminal.
CEO of APD Limited Michael Maura Jr. said shipping companies have one month to complete this process.
"Bahamas Customs is also in the process of completing their fit out space as well at Gladstone. The expectation and reality is it must be done in less than a month. Then importers can submit their paperwork at Gladstone, pay, and pick up their freight in the one-stop-shop environment," Maura said.
Final delivery of the one-stop-shop is considered integral to the success of the new port.
Whereas today the process can be quite tedious, requiring payments and approvals at various offices and docks on the island, consolidation and efficiency are at the heart of the $82 million initiative.
"All of the carriers have relocated their vessel operations from Bay Street docks. Everything seems to be working very well," he told Guardian Business. "As anyone would expect, we have had a few minor adjustments and learning challenges rely on, but I think for the most part we have got past all of that."
Among the critics of the new port at Arawak Cay has been Rupert Roberts, the owner of supermarket chain Super Value.
In the early going, he said, "It's easier to get in and out of Fox Hill prison down there."
He said full consolidation might be in the plans, but in the person, that pledge has yet to come to fruition. Roberts noted how the process was actually demanding more staff requirements on his end. Other rules and regulations imposed by the port have been criticized by Roberts and other members of the business community.
Nevertheless, as NCP continues to fine tune the process, it is also carrying on with minor infrastructure projects that make up the remaining $7 million investment.
"Probably the biggest phase is the construction of the administration building at the Nassau Container Port," Maura explained.
Once these preparations are complete, the CEO revealed that the port will pursue picking up additional business from transshipments. NCP's upgraded cranes and dredged harbor give it the capacity to take on larger ships. There is the potential that $2.6 billion Baha Mar project will demand enough cargo to warrant an additional carrier into Nassau, he added.
Maura said this capacity may entice more shipping companies to include Nassau on their global routes.

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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

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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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Samsung SIII launches on Bay Street with style

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is hoping for a boom in post-paid subscribers after the hotly anticipated launch of the Samsung Galaxy S III.
As part of a 145-nation release, Bahamians had a unique chance to purchase the smartphone in tandem with consumers in North America. The release sparked a buzz among Bahamians. By 6 a.m., a long queue had formed outside of the BTC's Bay Street location, as the first 50 consumers received a discount on the coveted device.
Gershan Major, vice president of channels and marketing, said the prompt release of the Galaxy S III in the Bahamian market represents an important precedent.
The company, he said, is more focused than ever on keeping up with the demands of modern consumers, and pushing new revenue streams that go along with the smartphone market.
"What we are finding now, is a number of our customers on pre-paid are seeing the value of post-paid. They are asking for the types of devices that engender a certain lifestyle," he explained. "Bahamians are moving towards an understanding that it's not just voice. It's data, email checking, scheduling, download photos, posting photos and social media. The lifestyle change is tied to the kinds of devices they are asking for."
Thus far, consumers are responding. Major said the first 50 devices sold out quickly, and the company expects the country's stock to dwindle.
The device has been hyped across the globe, from London to Zimbabwe, as Samsung rapidly emerges as a serious competitor to the iPhone. BTC is banking on this hype in its push to get more Bahamians on post-paid packages. The country's sole mobile service provider estimates that less than 50,000 Bahamians are on a plan and receiving a bill each month.
In this vein, data has been targeted as a strong area of revenue growth.
BTC has invested millions in the past year on updates to the network, including the introduction of 4G, in anticipation of this demand.
"We are doing a better job of improving our data offerings. They are getting more attune to 4G," Major added. "We've had some challenges improving the platform, but rest assured that experience will improve as we build up the capacity of the network."
Consumers will no doubt come to expect a functional level of service that properly matches the sophistication of the phones.
Altonique Saunders, Samsung expert at BTC, was on hand for the launch last weekend to help roll out the device.
She noted that, in the past, The Bahamas tends to be behind when it comes to the introduction of new technology. It's often the better part of a year by the time the country seizes the next big thing, Saunders explained.
"There was a very large crowd in the parking lot waiting for this phone, and we've had many more come in since then as well," she told Guardian Business.
While there are many features that make it special, Saunders highlighted its 8-megapixel camera. Not only does it have a "Super HD" function, but the camera has the ability to take 20 consecutive shots in just one or two seconds.
A camera can be found both in the front and back of the device. The front can actually track a user's eye movement, which ensures that the screen never goes dark or switches off while someone is looking at the phone.
The Galaxy SIII features a 4.8-inch screen that is 20 percent larger than its predecessors, she added, whereby it treads the trendy line between smartphone and tablet.
"The browser is faster and it moves seamlessly," she said.
A laundry list of other features and functionalities also set it apart. But for Saunders, she felt the natural feel of the Galaxy S III truly makes it unique.
"Even though it's much bigger, it fits well in your hand, and the surface is very smooth," she explained. "The phone is inspired by nature. The device is inspired by the natural curves or leaves and petals. When you feel the phone, it feels like you're touching a smooth pebble out of the sea."

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Emerging artist holds exhibition, encourages others to enter Fash/Art 2012

The only event of the year where designers and visual artists come together to celebrate local arts and culture, Fash/Art is gearing up for its second year with an early call to emerging artists, fashion designers and models to participate.
Set for July 7, 11 a.m. at Doongalik Studios, the meeting, says organizer Kedar Clarke, will be a chance not only for artists to come out and see how they can get exposure, but also for the organizers to see what is trending on the local art and fashion scenes.
"We want people to come out and we want to meet them and see what emerging artists are doing here," said Clarke. "This is it - now's the chance to come and show us what you've got and see how you can fit into and benefit from our event."
Fash/Art 2012 will be a little bit different this year, with the visual art exhibition and fashion show being held on different nights in new locations. Clarke is also planning several seminars and educational opportunities for the selected group of artists and designers to help develop their creative skills into lucrative businesses in order to build up a sustainable creative economy.
"You know the struggle for most artists - they can't create a business from their talents," said Clarke. "So we will have a mentorship opportunity and seminars on merchandising and branding open to all participants in order to cultivate the arts in this country."
Yet the excitement for all selected participants is to come out on top as the ultimate designer, artist and model. Not only will models get a chance to vie for a top spot in the revered PTG Modeling Agency, but fashion designers will compete for a the title of The Harl Taylor Emerging Fashion Designer Award and visual artists for the title of The Jackson Burnside Emerging Artist Award.
Last year's winners - designer Derrika Williamson and photographer Sophia Taylor - have been blown away by the
opportunities presented to them since their exposure last November.
Recently they collaborated on a fashion photo shoot, the results of which are in Sophia Taylor's first solo exhibition, "Beaulah Land", which opened this week at Doongalik Studios. The solo exhibition was one of the perks of winning the Jackson Burnside Emerging Artist Award.
After being approached by one of the event's creators, Taylor entered her work into the 2011 exhibition along with about a dozen other artists vying for their first art show.
The young artist, who is fresh out of the International Baccalaureate Program at the Lyford Cay International School, impressed the judges with her self-taught photography skills and eye for arresting perspectives.
Like Eden, "Beaulah" carries the connotation of a land blessed by the Lord. This favored land manifests as fertile, abundant, serene - a land much like the natural, untouched corners of Caribbean countries.
Indeed in her exhibition, Taylor explores her love for nature in the tropical landscapes of her dual nationalities - The Bahamas and Costa Rica - through gorgeous photographs and paintings.
"I love vibrant colors," she said. "I like to take something that everyone sees and try to put it into a different perspective and angle - so it's the same thing everyone is used to seeing, but the picture is presented differently."
"I want viewers to have a personal connection to my photograph - that they're right there viewing it live," she continued. "Sometimes I wish that my eyes can take pictures - can grasp images. That's what I do in my work, they are what I was there seeing and I capture that moment forever."
Taylor discovered photography years ago in her art studies at The Lyford Cay International School, and has since pursued the craft with the exuberance and dedication of a committed artist. The fact that this young artist is mostly self-taught makes her work all the more impressive, yet she looks forward to formally studying the craft in her college studies in Costa Rica beginning this fall.
"I'm self-trained - I've never had anyone teach me how to use the camera and its settings," she said. "So I hope when I go off to college I can learn some settings and learn how to use my camera properly."
"It's the same thing as using paintbrushes or tools - that's what my camera is, I'm using that to create my art," she added. "There are certain rules you need to apply to photography in order for it to have an aesthetic value."
Having her first gallery show before heading off to college is the perfect start to her artistic career - already, she says, winning the Jackson Burnside Emerging Artist Award has helped her form important relationships to other photographers and the wider art community.
"I've never sold my work so I've learned how to price it properly and set up a show. It's good exposure especially for getting ready for college," she said.
"I got really great feedback. Everyone loved my work, I was surprised - I'm not overly confident, so sometimes when I take pictures and I sit back and review my work, I think, ok, I'm pretty good at this."
"I'd encourage any emerging artist, no matter how young they are, to submit their work to Fash/Art this year."
Her exhibition continues at Doongalik Studios on Village Road until July 17 (Mondays-Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.).
The space - which hosted the first Fash/Art last year - remains committed to the project not only through Jackson Burnside's legacy to young artists but also through Pam Burnside's own training and love for fashion. Doongalik Studios and the Burnsides have always preached to support local artists and craftsmen, which aligns them with Fash/Art's vision to develop local design culture.
"Jackson always made sure he was very involved in encouraging young artists," said Pam Burnside. "Sophia is very talented, and it was wonderful to be able to host her here at Doongalik. We had a wonderful opening this week and people were amazed to find out how talented Sophia is just emerging from high school."
"It has a lot to say for Sandra Illingworth teaching the art programs there in the Lyford Cay School, and also other schools teaching the IB program in The Bahamas that allows the students to really shine," she added. "I say kudos to them."
"We urge everyone to come see the young talent we have and in July to host the casting call for this year's talented artists."
The Fash/Art 2012 meeting commences Saturday, July 7 at 11 a.m. at Doongalik Studios. For more information, check them out on Facebook at or e-mail

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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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No love lost

It was my first time at a James Catalyn and Friends stage play, so I was more than excited to see "Lost Love". It turned out to be funny, interesting and relevant. For the most part, I enjoyed it, even though it dragged at times, but despite that it's a play I think people should see if it returns to the stage.
"Lost Love", a play that holds a magnifying glass to issues of ageism in The Bahamas, played recently to a packed house at the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts.
It confronts how old people with dementia and Alzheimer's are relegated to geriatric homes and treated horribly by their families, and encourages a more positive attitude toward the social issue.
Set in a traditional Bahamian home, the play's main theme runs throughout the drama and is centered around Addie and her sister Annie. Addie is the primary caregiver of their elderly mother, Rebecca, who has Alzheimer's and becomes increasingly difficult to take care of. Annie on the other hand lives a carefree life and is only concerned about her life's pursuits and illegal job of selling numbers. She has no time to help Addie with the care of their mother.
Other members of the drama include Addie's son Samson who is for all intents and purposes a responsible young man -- a refreshing change from the societal depiction of young men today; Claudius, Addie and Annie's brother who chips in to take care of his mother when needed. There is also Emma, a caring neighbor; Enty, a charming old friend of Rebecca who represents an old person of sound mind but not of sound body, and last but not least, the family priest who does his best to help lead Annie down the right path.
From curtains up, the characters fit into their roles perfectly. Their use of "Bahamianese" and funny colloquialisms seemed natural and unforced. The comedic factor flowed seamlessly. Annie quipped sayings only your grandmother knew one after another, which kept the audience in good humor for the duration of the play.
While the play is undoubtedly a comedic piece of work from Catalyn, some of the jokes in the play seemed a bit predictable. I could almost see the punch lines coming. I had the pleasure of sitting beside a lady who got so into the play she kept talking to the characters in moments of silence, often preempting things they would say.
One of the biggest highlights of the play was the character of Rebecca, who provided a good portion of the comedic value. Her sayings of "Well who you is?" and "They ain't feed me for the day" right after eating kept the play moving along quite nicely. Her character was written and directed with a lot of insight into older adults with dementia and Alzheimer's and the toll such a situation can take on families. The way Rebecca addressed the burden of her disability on her family touched on how difficult it is to take care of an older person with the disease -- but did so charmingly without too much seriousness that might have weighed the play down.
One of the characters I found interesting was Annie, the recalcitrant daughter of Rebecca. Annie is introduced in skin tight jeans and a sexy top and mimics old fashioned ideas of a good time girl. Annie is completely selfish and dabbles in illegal numbers selling to support her lavish lifestyle. She is notorious in the community for cavorting with men and presents herself as entirely materialistic and unconcerned with her mother's plight.
Addie, who is the complete opposite constantly admonishes Annie about her behavior which seems to push Annie farther away and makes her act out even more.
Annie stays very consistent to her character until the third act where she does a sudden about face and turns into a good person who cares about her mother and comes to take care of her regularly. This was a bit anti-climactic, not only in the suddenness of the change, but the about-face happened as a result of a conversation Annie had numerous times with her family members about her behavior. One was left wondering what was so different about this conversation to sway Annie to the other side so quickly and completely.
The overall story speaks to a well-known issue in The Bahamas and connected with the majority of the audience. The play clipped along in the first two acts and dragged a lot in the last act for me, but Rebecca's charming portrayal of memory loss prevented the audience from becoming too bored.
For me the themes of the play were almost too well developed, becoming very repetitive after the second act. I kind of felt beat over the head with the admonition to take care of the elderly over and over again -- which coincidentally the older audience did not mind, but as one of the few young people in the theater, the constant repetition took away from my overall enjoyment of the play.
I was delighted to see that a lot of effort went into character development. That being said, there were moments when the characters seemed to be reaching for their lines as there were lots of pauses and shuffling to get back on track, but the fumbles were skillfully handled, and did not detract from their stage presence or acting.
And it was sometime during the second act that I wondered where the title of the play fit into the story, since it seemed to have no real correlation at the time, but during Annie's redemption, she recited the poem "Lost Love" and tied it in quite nicely. The poem was one of the more poignant moments of the play and seemed to note the redemption of a person lost in the world find themselves and love as result. After the poem Annie embarks on her new journey as a better person.
No matter what, the play, which played to a packed house on opening night was most successful in its real factor and the audience seemed to have a good time relating to the vibrant characters and the funny colloquialisms. James Catalyn and Friends did a great job of pulling off a good Bahamian play.
"Lost Love" was written by James Catalyn and directed by Omar Williams.

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Education comes in many forms

The biggest concern for parents and educators during the summer months is that students do not lose everything they learned over the course of the previous school year, so for many people, ensuring that students keep their noses in their books during the break is essential. But there are those people who believe that hitting the books at all times isn't all that it's cracked up to be. They believe education comes in many forms and that book work should be supplemented with creative outlets that allow students to be able to express themselves.
This is why the 306 campers that attended the Central Division Police Summer Camp were encouraged to do more than just stick to their books over the summer. Organizers of the annual activity-based summer program say that excelling in life is not always about being focused academically. They say that sometimes for students to be the best they can be, they need to be pushed into honing natural abilities and technical skills.
It is with this value system in mind that many campers flocked to the fun-based camp.
For 12-year-old Rodesha Brown, who described herself as quiet and a person who doesn't always say what she would like to say, being in a camp where she got to use her hands was a perfect fit. While she has managed fine academically, she said she felt a greater sense of purpose and interest in the crafts she made during the summer program.
"I really like that I can express myself in different ways at the police camp," she said. "I like learning to do crafts like making picture frames and sewing. It's fun and something I never knew about before," she said.
And 18-year-old Miguel Neely found his niche through working with his hands. He admitted to not being the smartest academically, but said he felt useful when he used his hands to make things. And during the camp he taught the younger campers to make jewelry boxes as well as how to draw human faces.
"I'm really glad that I have been a part of this camp. I'm learning how to get along better with other students and younger children. I'm learning more about arts and crafts which I always loved but never really put my all into. I am really inspired just being here," he said.
The four-week camp which will end on Wednesday, August 8 focused on not only keeping students on top of their academics, by having specific periods times when students brought their schoolwork from the previous school to review it, but the camp also provided an outlet for the campers to express themselves creatively.
"We want to foster children who can do well on different fronts," said Sergeant 2212 Berkley Johnson, coordinator of the summer camp. "Not every student is academically talented, so it was important for us to encourage them to exhibit their skills in other areas as well. We have so much for the youth to do from day to day like sports, crafts, academics and field trips. We try to keep everything interesting so students don't get bored and actually learn something they can use for school later in the year or for the rest of their life. We are here to do more than just have fun and play games."
And it showed in Andrea Hanna, who said the camp helped to improve her positive characteristics.
"Everyone used to tell me that I didn't have a pleasant attitude or anything before, but when I came to the camp and listening to the police officers I have learned how to be a better person by respecting people, listening to adults and being honest and obedient. It's not easy but I feel everything the teachers and police officers are telling us makes sense," said the 14-year-old.
For 11-year-old Larissa Rolle the camp is about new experiences. According to her there were so many projects that she wasn't able to participate in half of them. She said she learned something new every day she was there. And she was fascinated to learn rug making and sewing. The reality of having so many options made attending the camp something she looked forward to every day.
While some children looked forward to the extracurriular activities, Torianno Rolle, a 12-year-old student at Oakes Field Primary School, said he was happy he was able to review his sixth grade academics as he prepared for junior school. He also enjoyed his new experiences.
"I am having so much fun," said Rolle. "I can study old things and learn about new things. I'm making a rug now and it's great. I like that I get to do so much at one camp. I wish school could be like this. I'm really having a good time this summer," he said.
While the younger students went about their craft projects and brushed up academically, many of the older campers between the ages of 13 and 17 were sent out to learn about life in the real working world at business establishments. It is hoped that the new feature would teach students to be appreciative of what their parents go through, as well as build their work ethnic and sense of responsibility.
Campers are looking forward to their final day when an arts and crafts exhibition will be staged at the National Arts Theater on Friday, August 3, for all divisions of the police summer program. It's there where their family and friends can view all that they've done.

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Homeless man shares story of struggle

Thomas Humes has spent the last seven years living on the streets of New Providence, depending on the kindness of strangers to get by.
Complications from diabetes, glaucoma and arthritis have kept the 57-year-old out of the workforce for nearly 10 years and forced him to beg for money to buy food, he said.
His life is filled with uncertainty about where the next meal will come from and where he will sleep at night.
A month ago, he said, he was sleeping on a church porch, exposed to the elements and the dangers that a street life brings. Now he lives in a shelter but does not have long-term accommodations, he said.
Humes is one of the many homeless and downtrodden people who are fed by Great Commission Ministries' Feeding Centre on Wulff Road.
He and more than 100 men, women and children lined up outside the center's doors recently, clamoring for a hot meal.
"After you get lunch here there's no telling what will happen later on, when you get hungry again," he said, as he waited for a plate of food, clutching a green ticket numbered 111.
"If I ask for a dollar or two I probably could buy a bag of chips or maybe even sometimes [I have] enough to get a snack from one of the fast food chains."
Humes said he lived in the United States for a few years before returning to New Providence shortly after the September 11 attacks.
He said the last time he had a steady job was in 2004, before his declining health led him to withdraw from the workforce.
"Within the space of a month I had two diabetic comas where I had to be hospitalized," Humes told The Nassau Guardian.
"It caused me to have a phobia about taking on an eight-hour job. I was living with family and at the time they [were] willing to house [me] but only for so long.
"It deems me unfit [to work] but people look at my structure and think he is fit to hold a job."
In spite of his bleak situation, Humes is able to see the positive side to his life.
"People asked me about my sleeping quarters and when I told them, they asked me if I'm not afraid to sleep out in the open like that," he said.
"To me, I felt like I trust God enough not to be harmed while sleeping under the open skies. I'm glad that God placed the people in my presence that looked out for me."
Humes said it is important that people not judge those who are homeless and out of work, adding many street dwellers do not have the skills to hold down a job.
"It's real serious out here," he said.
"A lot of brothers that are able to work can't find a job because they're illiterate and can't fill out an application. I mean the way this world is going now, even with a high school education a lot of brothers and sisters still can't fill out an application."
Humes' number was eventually called and he made his way to the front of the line.
He emerged with a plate of white rice and chicken, two sodas, and a smile on his face.

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Web shops fuel banking concerns

If the web shop sector is going to be allowed to exist then it should be regulated, Governor of the Central Bank of The Bahamas Wendy Craigg told The Nassau Guardian.
Noting that web shops are operating outside the regulatory framework, the governor said they really are not underground businesses.
"It does not fit the definition of underground activities," she said of the sector. "It has a face. It is very visible."
The governor pointed out that the Central Bank and local commercial banks adhere to strict national and international standards aimed at guarding against money laundering and terrorist financing.
When she was contacted for comment recently, Craigg did not take a position on whether web shops should be allowed to operate, as it is a highly political issue in the purview of the government.
Instead, the governor pointed to the dangers of having an unregulated web shop sector.
"As a Central Bank, we are certainly aware that last year the domestic banks took explicit measures in compliance with these AML (anti-money laundering) regulations to have accounts that were operated by these number houses closed," she said.
"That definitely came to our attention, and so they were left with a dilemma as to what to do with these large cash balances.
"We know that some of them were directed to the Central Bank to acquire government paper, government registered stock, treasury bills, but since we are also bound to comply with national KYC (know your customer) requirements, we had to deny those requests."
Ian Jennings, president of Commonwealth Bank, told The Nassau Guardian that the bank is still abiding by the position that the numbers businesses are operating illegally.
He said Commonwealth Bank will not entertain these accounts because it has to comply with know your customer and other requirements.
"Obviously, since the referendum, the whole question has been called into account as to whether or not it is illegal or legal activity," said Jennings, referring to the gambling referendum which took place one year ago today.
"For Commonwealth Bank, until the court rules otherwise or there's a change of the law the bank is still at the position that it is an illegal activity."
A legal challenge filed by web shops in the wake of the failed referendum remains tied up in the courts.
Jennings noted there is no clear evidence of what is happening to the proceeds of the unregulated industry.
"It's like the governor said, we hear anecdotal stories, but there is nothing we have that can prove to anybody [what they're doing]."
Jennings also said, "We're concerned with regard to the extention of credit."
He added, "The total level of credit, if it is not being regulated just adds more burden onto the consumer."
Craigg said unregulated businesses involved in "cash intensive activities" could be vulnerable to criminal exploitation.
"And that is why they've been recognized by the international organizations as requiring oversight under national AML so they have to abide by those requirements," she said, "the same way the casinos [have to]. Casinos today have to comply with AML/CFT (combatting the financing of terrorism) regulations."
The governor said some of the businesses involved in numbers made applications to the Central Bank for permission to invest overseas.
"And then the informal information that has come to our attention is that they are becoming very important providers of credit which is outside of the formal regulated banking sector and if these activities are sizeable, this certainly creates an unleveled playing field for regulated credit entities and it basically results in an under reporting of the value of credit activities in the economy," she said.
"Our understanding is that some of them are engaged in the provision of small loans, consumer loans perhaps through becoming owners of or funding pay day advance companies.
"They provide mortgages. They do in-house financing for housing and condominium development. They are owners of large commercial housing developments, so this is just a way that they are investing their cash resources that they cannot place within the banks on deposit."
The governor added that this unregulated sector could also be distorting important national economic data.
"If they are not being measured as a part of the activity that's taking place in the economy then we have an under reporting of economic information such as employment, personal income, GDP output data for the country, and by their very nature these web shops or number houses are very cash intensive."
The Nassau Guardian contacted the governor for comment on this highly divisive issue after Prime Minister Perry Christie said she had concerns about the unregulated numbers industry.
In a recent interview with The Nassau Guardian, Christie said, "Today, the governor of the Central Bank is demonstrating concern for this because what has happened is there has now been the evolution of a new economy that is underground, a new banking order that is taking place where mortgages are being given and where huge sums of money are moving.
"You always have money laundering concerns when you don't regulate, but I'm thinking now of when the banks say you can't bank your money, the Central Bank says you can't invest in treasury bills, the Central Bank says you can't export your money, you can't put it in another country, then you ask the question if that is the case, what is supposed to be happening to the money?
"And so, that is a very trying set of circumstances for me now."

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Sumner returned as BBFF president

The Bahamas Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (BBFF) held its election of officers last week, and Danny Sumner was returned as president of the esteemed body.
Back for a third consecutive four-year term, Sumner said that he feels it is his duty to incorporate new strategies and ideas into the federation's program for the next four years, and he has every intention of doing so. Sumner also serves as Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation Vice President, and is still in charge of the sport in the Antilles region.
Serving in this term with him will be vice president Dr. Cyprian Strachan who replaces Derek Bullard and secretary general Lillian Moncur. Bullard will be new executive director, Oreantheia Mackey is the assistant secretary, Simone Sawyer will be the chairman of the Judges Committee, the new chairman of the Technical Committee is Jeremy Knowles, Sharon Sawyer was elected as the chairman of the Ladies Committee, the new chairman of Research and Development is Chevy Roker, the legal counsel is Donna Major, Dr. Strachan will be in charge of the Doping and Medical Committee, the two advisors are Chrishanda Newbold from Freeport, Grand Bahama, and Donna Williams from New Providence, and Dr. Richard Demeritte and Dr. Norman Gay are the two patrons of the federation.
"Well, I'm happy to be back and I'm looking forward to the task at hand," said Sumner. "There are some more things that I want to accomplish such as the high school championships, and also an armed forces segment of the nationals. The new executives are all committed to working hard, and I want to congratulate and welcome all of them into the federation. I'm happy with this team that was elected. Each one is responsible for a strategic position where they could assist in better grooming the federation. It should be a grand year, and I'm looking forward to great results moving forward."
Sumner said that they are all in high spirits, and have all pledged to work hard to ensure that the federation has continued growth.
Up first for the federation will be a fun run/walk set for Saturday March 29. The novice championships are set for May, the Northern Bahamas Championships will be held in June, and the nationals will once again be held in July.
"We have already started to embark on a number of objectives," said Sumner. "When you look at the fun run/walk, we want to encourage Bahamians from all walks of life to get involved with this. There is a strong focus on healthier living and family life for Bahamians this year. Also, one of our major concerns is getting more young people and more women attracted to the sport. There has been a decline in female bodybuilding, not just locally but worldwide because of the swimsuit factor. Females are starting to get involved with the swimsuit competition. That is more attractive to them."
In addition to swimsuit, the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB) also introduced male physique in 2013. Also, there are categories such as male fitness, now male fitness, body fitness, figure fitness and classic bodybuilding that are becoming more and more popular.
"The IFBB has grown tremendously over the past 20 years. Back then it was just male and female bodybuilding but now there are so many aspects of the sport to get involved with," said Sumner. "We want to grow with the IFBB. It is our intention to tap strongly into the high school program. It will be good if we could get it into the school curriculum. What we noticed is that a lot of schools don't have training equipment, and that's vital for the program. I think that all of the schools, public and private, should have a mini gym with weight machines and cardio machines. That will go a long way in assisting us in getting the program started in the schools."
Sumner said that major goal of his this term, is to facilitate the involvement of Bahamian high schools in the sport of bodybuilding and fitness.
During his 10 years in office, Sumner was instrumental in having the BBFF National Championships moved to the hotels from old venues such as the Garfunkel Auditorium and the Poinciana Arena. Also, the federation joined the CAC regional body under his reign, and The Bahamas won seven CAC Bodybuilding and Fitness titles in the past 10 years. Also, five athletes earned their pro cards under Sumner's reign - bodybuilders Joel Stubbs, Gena Mackey and Jay Darling, Natasha Brown in fitness, and most recently Dominique Wilkinson in fitness.
This year, the CAC Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships are set for October 2-4, in St. Maarten. Sumner said that they are looking to possibly host the CAC Championships in 2015.

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The dangers of the web shop status quo

A year has passed since the web shop referendum. The people voted against legalizing web shops and a national lottery. Since the vote there was much talk by police and the government about shutting down the illegal gaming sector. However, nothing has changed. Illegal gaming persists in the open.
The web shop industry has gone to court hoping that the court will say it has a right to be open. The case is pending and police and the government are hiding behind that court case as justification for not acting to close down illegal gaming operations.
During the web shop referendum debate it was estimated that $400 million per year flows through the sector, which is not regulated. It is wide open for money laundering.
Wendy Craigg, governor of the central bank, in an interview with this newspaper last week noted the dangers of having this much money pass through an unregulated sector. She said unregulated businesses involved in cash-intensive activities could be vulnerable to criminal exploitation.
The current status quo is dangerous for The Bahamas. Allowing this sector to grow unregulated could lead The Bahamas to eventually being sanctioned by the international community. Drug dealers and other malevolent actors could use the numbers sector to "wash" their money. We should not wait for sanctions to come before we make changes.
The illegal numbers sector needs to be shut down. If Parliament wishes to make gambling legal for Bahamians and residents a new local gaming sector needs to be created via law with only "fit and proper" people being given licenses to operate in that sector.
If Parliament wishes to keep gambling illegal for Bahamians and residents, an aggressive crackdown is needed to close the current illegal operations. The assets and proceeds of illegal gambling should be seized by the state via the law. If these laws need to be strengthened that should be done to assist law enforcement in doing what is necessary.
The Bahamas must move beyond being a rogue jurisdiction where anything goes. While our political class may think it is fine to allow open illegality when it comes to illegal gaming, our international partners will not turn a blind eye to this forever. Allowing the illegal gaming sector to grow in The Bahamas is a danger to us all. We must act to fix this problem before we are painfully pressured to do so by outsiders.

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Urgent call to arms in Bahamian softball

Burkett Dorsett, the president of the Bahamas Softball Federation (BSF) has a heavy load on his head. The representation by the national men's team in Medellin, Colombia started very badly. In the first three games, The Bahamas mustered just three runs (against the Dominican Republic in the opener, 3-9). Venezuela blanked The Bahamas 9-0 in the second game of the Sunday double-header and Canada registered a whitewash on Monday by the score of 5-0 to put The Bahamas at 0-3 in the 7th Pan American Men's Softball Championships.
Whatever the final outcome for Team Bahamas, Dorsett is advised to go back to the drawing board. There needs to be a rebirth of sorts for the country in softball. Once ranked among the top three nations in the world in men and women's softball, the fall from grace has been a crushing blow to our sports power image.
In truth, the recent softball administrations have not been able to guide the national program in the direction of the success achieved during an earlier era. The BSF should host a conclave of top softball names, those who led substantively and not loudly. I speak of those softball leaders with one collective agenda, to propel softball in the country and to maintain the standing in the world. This was a group that sacrificed much in the interest of the development process of the game.
There was no interest among this group of stalwarts in self-aggrandizing. For them it was all about the athletes and the national program. Dorsett and Godfrey Burnside fit into this mold and so do a few more, today. Obviously, with others, the influence has not proven to be positive. It was refreshing to discover that Stephen "Garbo" Coakley is back in the mix. I was pleasantly surprised when Dorsett told me that Coakley was indeed on board again.
Coakley, Michael Moss, Greg Christie, Neko Grant, Churchill Tener-Knowles, Godfrey "Gully" Pinder, Bobby "Baylor" Fernander, Alfred Culmer and the late Leon "Apache" Knowles made up that venerable group of leaders who crafted teams decade after decade that made Bahamians across the length and breadth of this archipelago proud when they competed at home and abroad.
I believe we can make the return to past glory. Sit around with the aforementioned Dorsett. Solicit their advice going forward. Against Canada, the performance of The Bahamas was not good at all. Jason Hill went to the mound for Canada and pitched the first four innings. He allowed just one Bahamian hit and struck out 11 batters. Quite simply, he over-matched the Bahamians who swung the bats.
Hill made way for Brady Woods who pitched the final three innings, without giving up a hit. He fanned six batters. Canada struck out 17 Bahamian batters. That's truly amazing, given the country's past history in softball. Nevertheless, that's the reality of today. Regional nations that we were once better than now out-class us. There is indeed the need for an urgent call to arms Mr. President.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at

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BEAUTY, health and fitness at BTVI fair

BEAUTY, health and fitness were the focus as more than 20 exhibitors joined in The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute's (BTVI) Wellness Fair.

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Grand Bahama Artists Association off to a stellar 2014 start

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- The Grand Bahama Artists Association began this 2014 year with a bang! They have a newly elected board, a membership of new and returning persons, and a wonderful array of new and original paintings, ceramic vessels, sequenced tapestries, beaded images and illustrations.
There are small delicate paintings of children and birds, or larger images of boats, people and flowers. All are on display at the Gloria Banks Gallery, Rand Nature Centre. There is something to fit everyone's tastes, in colours and imagery, as well as budget!
The Grand Bahama Artists Association, or G.B.A.A. had their opening evening on Thursday, 6th February, 2013 with over 200 art lovers in attendance. Steve Stubbs, President, has a lovely painting of the boat on the shore, shown here, and the Vice President, Portia Colebrooke, is seen here with one of her wood engraved pieces. Members of the G.B.A.A. were present to meet and greet the persons who attended the opening event.
A raffle of art work was well received, with the winners of the evening walking away with original pieces of art. There was also a display of work in progress, so that people could get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes. There was the intricate images coming to life in the sequenced process, a wood carving of a mermaid, a water color painting of under water life, and the creation of beaded works.
The exhibit continues from 6th February til 1st March, 2014, during the hours of 9:00 - 4:00 p.m. at the Gloria Banks Gallery, Rand Nature Centre, Monday - Friday, and 9:00 - 2:00 Saturdays. Come and view the exhibit, "For the Love of Art!' You will leave inspired, and have the opportunity to own art you will always cherish and love.

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Bahamas likely 'not on radar' in Chinese credit crackdown

The Bahamas and Baha Mar should not have as much reason to fear the effects of a Chinese "credit crackdown" as other countries and projects, an economic observer has noted, as evidence emerges that major Chinese lenders are clamping down on access to credit and engaging in more "aggressive" loan management.James Smith, former governor of the Central Bank and economic advisor to the present government, said that he doubts very seriously that The Bahamas is on the radar of Chinese lenders such as the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China as a candidate for credit cutbacks.Smith made his comments in an interview with Guardian Business after the Financial Times reported that the China Development Bank has begun asking some international clients to postpone drawing down previously committed credit lines, in moves which the newspaper said highlight how strains on the country's financial system are reverberating abroad.While the crackdown is mainly aimed at reining in rapid credit growth that has been associated with the country's "shadow bank" system, the Financial Times reports that even the state-owned China Development Bank has felt the impact.Meanwhile, the newspaper also noted that the Export-Import Bank of China, Baha Mar's lender, which offered the resort development a $2.4 billion loan, is now being seen to show "greater willingness" to put international borrowers into bankruptcy and sell their assets to recover value from failed loans, indicating that it too may have been impacted by the "crackdown" underway in China.Commenting on the report, Smith said that if China is to look anywhere for places where it may wish to take more aggressive action in relation to credit extended in order to avoid losses, or reduce lending overall, it would most likely be to places like Africa and India where it has lent much larger sums than in The Bahamas, and also to more risky projects and countries."I doubt Baha Mar would fall into that category - the funding in The Bahamas and in the Caribbean is a very miniscule part of their total funding worldwide," he said."This is probably a question of quantum; Baha Mar's exposure is $2 billion, while in other places it's well in excess of $50 billion. In addition, Baha Mar is due to open at the end of the year and so it will be finished drawing down soon."However, the reports highlight one of the less discussed potential consequences of obtaining credit from China, which stepped in following the financial crisis - as it did in the case of Baha Mar - to provide credit liberally where others feared to tread due to a reduced lending appetite in the wake of the 2008 collapse. Its lending over the past five to six years has seen the country become a larger creditor to governments and companies in the developing world than the World Bank.When its lending spree began, the Asian giant was deemed an economic miracle on an inexorable path to development, while today many economic analysts suggest that the question is not when the country may suffer an economic slowdown, but how "hard" or "soft" it will be, with concerns escalating about the health of the country's financial system.Now with a massive portfolio of international borrowers, the extent to which each may potentially be subject to any efforts the government now sees fit to take to address its own internal challenges relating to the financial sector and how to best reconfigure its growth model to one focused on domestic - rather than foreign - consumption remains to be seen.The Financial Times reported that among the loans which the China Development Bank had asked international borrowers not to draw down on include two to Indian companies, including an infrastructure developer and a shipping group. The size of the credit lines was not disclosed.

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