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News Article

February 25, 2012
Nearly 90 get jobs at Solomon's Fresh Market

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham yesterday praised the investment made by AML Foods Limited at the grand opening of Solomon's Fresh Market in western New Providence, adding that the market has already employed nearly 90 Bahamians.
"AML Foods Limited undertook this significant investment in a 38,000 square foot grocery store during what is recognized as the great recession, the worst global economic downturn since the 1930s," Ingraham said.
AML Foods Limited owns Domino's Pizza, Cost Right Warehouse and Solomon's Super Centre and is in discussions to bring Carl's Jr., a popular American eatery, into the country, he said.
"I believe that you have chosen wisely in locating your newest store in this portion of the western district. This area includes a new business angle, existing neighborhoods, which continue to expand, as well as new residential subdivisions."
He added that Solomon's Fresh Market will become a catalyst for other businesses to follow in the years to come.
Ingraham said Bahamians can all be proud of the fact that this new market is environmentally friendly, inclusive of building materials, air conditioning and refrigeration, and light and water usage.
He added that much progress is being made on the construction of the four-lane highway which will link Blake Road to Oakes Field and beyond to the center of Nassau, making travel to the new market much easier.
The market is located on Windsor Field Road near Lynden Pindling International Airport.

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News Article

February 29, 2012
Carl Hield featured on AIBA website!

Bahamian boxers are getting the kind of training they need to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, and now the whole world is aware of it!
Welterweight Carl Hield was featured on the International Boxing Association's (AIBA) website yesterday, as a powerful boxer looking to build up his endurance heading into the final round of Olympic qualifiers, in May. Hield and fellow Bahamian Valentino Knowles are looking to continue a period of excellence for local amateur boxers by becoming the second and third Bahamians to reach the Olympics in the past four years. Taureano Johnson made it all the way to the quarter-finals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and now Hield and Knowles are looking for their moment of glory.
When contacted yesterday at the high level endurance-training camp in Cardiff, Wales, Hield wasn't even aware that he was featured on the global boxing website, but added now that his name is out there, he will definitely be looking to show what he is made of.
"This is probably the best camp that I have been to in terms of developing the whole boxer," said Hield yesterday. "What we are going through here is very intense. In addition, we're getting a greater understanding of the scoring system, letting us know what to expect at the highest level of amateur boxing. The sport has progressed to the point where you have to be up to speed on the technical aspect of it if you are going to advance at tournaments such as the Olympics and the World Championships. This is my third camp, and where this one stands out, is that it teaches us more of the basics and what to expect. I'm enjoying it and just embracing the opportunity."
Both Hield and Knowles won bronze medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, and Knowles is the reigning Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games Champion. At the world championships level, Knowles became the first Bahamian to win a bout at that level, with his victory over Joseph Njogu from Kenya in Milan, Italy, in 2009. In the light welterweight division (64 kg.), Knowles is ranked second in the region while Hield is the fifth ranked welterweight in this region. They have a bout a week and half remaining at the high level training camp in Cardiff, where they are expected to reach new levels of fitness, and be on par with the conditioning of top-level boxers from around the world.
The interval training in Cardiff reportedly brings a combination of high intensity burst of speed and short recovery phases in a single workout. The main objective of the camp is to build speed and endurance. The theory is that by adopting high intensity interval training, the boxers will be able to adapt their bodies to burn lactic acid more efficiently, allowing them to exercise at much higher intensity for longer periods of time, thereby having improved performance through greater speed and better endurance. Cross-training mixed with interval training is said to make the boxers amongst the fittest athletes in the world.
"The training is going very well," said Head Coach Andre Seymour yesterday. "It is very cold up here but Carl and Valentino are not deterred. They know what they need to do to get to London. They are focussed and are putting in the work. This camp was ideal for us to get ready for the final qualifier for the Olympics. What you have here is a lot of technical work going on. Every day we do a lot of sparring and a lot of running. It's good to be working with a different cadre of boxers from different parts of the world. That could only serve to help us in our goal of qualifying for the Olympics," he added.
Seymour, who himself is a Three Star internationally certified coach, said that even he has learned a lot mixing with coaches from different nationalities up there at the camp. About 15 countries are represented at the camp.
"Our boxers are getting more cardio and learning more of the European style," said Amateur Boxing Federation of The Bahamas (ABFB) President Wellington Miller, who also serves as the president of the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC). "The training up there is very intense. Carl's photo shows that he is in good shape and Valentino is always ready to go. I just spoke to them and they are in high spirits. Both of them are well known in the Americas and now they are becoming well known in the world. I'm very confident that they will be able to put it all together because these guys know what it is like to train on this side of the world and now they are getting their feet wet with European style training. It's just a matter of time before they'll be able to put it all together. With Carl being featured on AIBA's website, I think that is huge. It puts his name out there and the name of The Bahamas out there. That's a big thing for The Bahamas. It's a global website so people from all over the world will be able to see it, and The Bahamas will be able to benefit from sports tourism."
In Cardiff, Hield and Knowles hit the gym about three times per day, constantly staying in shape. It is predicted that many of the boxers at the 'Road to London' program in Cardiff, will have increased their endurance levels by up to 50 percent by the end of the three-week training camp. Hield and Knowles are scheduled to return to The Bahamas on March 10, and will head directly to Cuba to continue their preparation for the final Olympic qualifier, from May 11-20, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The top five welterweights and light welterweights from that tournament will qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.

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News Article

February 20, 2012
Visual and culinary artists come together to feed the hungry

The power of arts and culture will be on full display during the charity event Empty Bowls on February 26.
As in its previous three years, in exchange for a small donation of $15, guests not only receive a delicious meal of Bahamian soup and a beautiful handcrafted keepsake in the form of a ceramic bowl - as well as a bread roll and a cup of fevergrass (lemongrass) tea - but also the satisfaction that they are working together with other Bahamians to fight a growing hunger problem in the country.
Originally conceived by John Harton, a teacher in Bloomfiled, MT, the Empty Bowls charity event has spread to communities fighting hunger all over the world - including The Bahamas.
"Everyone has their own version of Empty Bowls - ours takes on a Bahamian flavor," says Joann Behagg, who worked with a committee to bring the event to The Bahamas. "We're promoting Bahamian culture through the arts. We're trying to make people aware of things that are Bahamian so that we're not downplaying our culture."
Indeed the afternoon will be about all things Bahamian - this year they're spotlighting Bahamian culinary delights by serving up such native staples as chicken souse, peas soup and dumpling, conch chowder, okra soup and pumpkin soup, as well as native fevergrass tea.
They will be served in handmade bowls - by such local ceramicists as Joann Behagg, Nadia Smith, Alistair Stevenson, Katrina Cartwright, Neko Meicholas and Robert Pennerman - which guests can keep as a thanks for their donation.
This year, the committee has even been speaking to local schools about their mission, bringing on student volunteers to create bowls for the event as well.
Yet that's not all the event has in store - besides celebrating culinary arts and visual arts, the charity event will have donated artwork on sale by such local artists as Rosemarie Laing, Danderia Bethel, Kennel Augustine and Don Russel, and will celebrate the performing arts with such local sensations as Jazz Etc, Nicolasena Davis Carter, Sonovia Pierre, and the National Children's Choir.
All proceeds from the event will go towards the Great Commission Ministries International who work to feed many hungry Bahamians each day with filling and nutritious meals. Whereas in a previous year their donations have also gone towards providing relief to post-earthquake Haiti, this year the proceeds will go toward buying materials to donate to Family Island communities still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Irene.
Behagg points out that the event is a chance for artists to use their talents to benefit the community.
"Artists can give and artists can make other people aware of the needs of the community through their giving," she says. "Through their efforts people not only see their work but also see that they have a heart, a conscience, and that they're willing to share their talent with other people."
"This event allows us to share our talents with our fellow Bahamians and make them aware that what you have is not just yours, it was given to you by your Father, and therefore he is asking you to help people who are in need - and people who are in need are hungry in our country."
Empty Bowls Charity Event is free to attend and will take place February 26, 1 p.m.- 6 p.m. at Queen's College on Village Road. To place an order for tickets for bowls and soup at $15 per person, call 327-8109 - though they will also be available at the door.

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News Article

February 24, 2012
The Facts on the National Prescription Drug Plan

NIB Sets Record Straight on NPDP Drugs and Payment

Nassau, Bahamas - The following is an NIB Statement on the National Prescription Drug Plan Generic Drugs and Payments:

In
light of recent misinformation heard on the radio airwaves with respect
to the National Prescription Drug Plan and generic drugs, The National
Insurance Board wishes, once again, to provide the public with the true
facts about prescription drugs supplied by the National Prescription
Drug Plan.

The
public should know that the Drug Plan's formulary of medications provides
more than 160 drugs and medical supplies for the treatment of eleven
chronic conditions...

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News Article

February 29, 2012
No mid-year budget report this year

Progressive Liberal Party Member of Parliament for St. Thomas More Frank Smith has suggested that the government has scrapped its mid-year budget statement this year because it does not want to focus attention on the state of the country's fiscal affairs, given that a general election is approaching.
But Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing said the government decided to forgo it in light of the fact that it is winding down its parliamentary agenda ahead of the election.
In a statement, Smith said, "Following the general election of 2007 the PM introduced what he said was an important new initiative, the practice of a mid-term budget address and debate.
"At the time, he is quoted as saying that it was a matter of best practice that we come to Parliament to provide an update on the state of play of public finances at mid-year.
"Now this is 2012.   We are already well into February, well beyond the mid-year point, and the PM has provided no indication that he intends to be consistent with his practice.  In fact, the House of Assembly is now being so managed as to prevent members from having an opportunity to speak as the government maneuvers various measures through the parliamentary process."
Smith questioned whether Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and the Free National Movement have abandoned "what he and they once described as 'best practice' or are they afraid to account to the Bahamian people at this time".
"Are they afraid that honest debate in Parliament will expose the degree of mismanagement?  That they would be found to have been wanting?  Is it that they will have to disclose to the Bahamian public the true state of affairs of the government's finances?" he questioned.
But Laing said Smith and the Progressive Liberal party are "desperate in their political maneuvering".
"This is a group of people who spent five years in office never giving a mid-year report," the minister said.
"The mid-year budget report was a construct and an invention of the Free National Movement administration, so for Frank Smith to open his mouth about the mid-year budget report is the height of laughability.
"The reality is that the work of Parliament is approaching a wind down period and we are doing all and sundry to prepare for that very big process, which is the election process, and the government  has determined in that regard that there be no mid-year budget presented."
Laing said the government is dealing with the final set of matters that it promised Bahamians it would address, including the Freedom of Information Bill, already passed by the Senate.
"If Mr. Smith wants to raise questions with respect to Parliament and the fiscal process, he can do that," the minister added.
"But it is nonsense, utter nonsense on his part, but I understand his desperation."
Laing said government revenue is lower than projected for the first six months of 2011-2012, but he could not provide figures as he spoke to The Nassau Guardian while riding in his car yesterday.
But he said revenue has traditionally performed better in the second half of the fiscal year due to the benefits of the height of the tourism season.
"That's been a trend now for years," Laing said.
The Ingraham administration has provided the mid-year budget statement in February, but Progressive Liberal Party MPs have annually branded the exercise a waste of time.

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News Article

February 29, 2012
Man pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2011 beating death

A man yesterday pleaded guilty to beating a man in the head with a piece of wood during a fight.
Mario Thompson, 34, ended his murder trial by making a plea to the less serious charge of manslaughter in the January 2011 death of Francoeur Etienne at Wilson Track.
In his confession statement, Thompson said he got into a fight with the deceased after confronting another man about bothering his nephew and girlfriend.
Thompson said that during the fight, he picked up the wood off the ground and hit Etienne in the head.
Prosecutors recommended a sentencing range of 16 to 18 years in a plea agreement.
Supreme Court Justice Indra Charles sentenced Thompson, who has spent a year on remand, to 17 years.
Chief counsel Neil Brathwaite said the prosecution accepted the plea to manslaughter because it would have been an available verdict for the jury since the issue of provocation arose and the jury would have had to determine if Thompson was capable of forming the intent required to prove a murder charge because of his intoxication.
In mitigation, defense lawyer Terrell Butler said Thompson had no prior convictions. She said, "He was drunk.  He was not acting like his normal self. This was a man who has never been in trouble with the law."
Butler added that Thompson had shown "great remorse for his actions".
She said he was a marine carpenter and consequently was able to make a contribution to society on his release from prison.
In passing judgment, Charles said, "You are a man of good character and look at where you are just because you say you were intoxicated. You have no previous convictions and pleaded guilty at the first reasonable opportunity, but in light of what you've done the court has to sentence you."

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News Article

February 20, 2012
New forms of life discovered in Bahamas blue holes

An American researcher found new forms of life in a blue hole in Abaco, which he believes may provide clues to how life evolved.
Dr. Thomas Iliffe, a marine biology professor at Texas A&M University,  said he's made a number of discoveries in the 20 years that he has been studying blue holes in The Bahamas.
On a recent excursion with five other researchers, Dr. Iliffe and his team found strange forms of bacteria - which he said point to the evolution of life.
"Mostly I've been studying the higher life forms, mostly crustaceans which are relatives of shrimp, crab and lobster, and also a few species of fish," he told The Nassau Guardian last week. "But the big question is, what are these animals eating? We believe that the bacteria living in the cave are the base of a food web.  So I had one of my graduate students, Brett Gonzales, conduct an investigation of some bacteria that we found on one of the blue hole walls in Abaco.  And so we scraped some off the wall at a depth of about 100 feet.
"We brought it back to the laboratory and looked at the DNA in these bacteria, and we found that it wasn't just a single species, that there were multiple species and multiple types of bacteria... Most life forms on the surface use photosynthesis as the base of the food chain. There is no light in the [blue hole]."
According to Iliffe, one idea being espoused is that these animals in the blue holes are living under low oxygen environments because there is no photosynthesis - where oxygen is produced. "There is no light; there's no oxygen production. Because of that, the level of oxygen in the caves is low or totally absent.  So these are like the conditions present on the early earth before the evolution of plants and the evolution of photosynthesis.  We believe that some of the bacteria found in these caves are similar to the bacteria that lived on the early earth prior to the evolution of plants," Iliffe continued.
He added that such findings may give some insight into how life could develop on other planets.
"On other planets in the solar system, there is new evidence that shows that oceans existed.  For example on Mars, the oceans have dried up... so if there's water still on Mars, there may be cave explorers going to explore them.  I expect that it would be similar to the cave environment that we have in the blue holes in The Bahamas."
Iliffe has also studied salt water caves in Mexico, Bermuda, the Mediterranean Sea, and in the Pacific Ocean.
"So basically, I've studied all around the world, but The Bahamas stands out as one of the most important and specular areas that I've studied anywhere on earth," he added.
"For example, one of the very interesting species in The Bahamas is called the remipede," he said, adding that it looks like a centipede, and is only found in saltwater caves at significant depths.
"Right now there are 25 known (saltwater cave) species known from around the world.  And of those, 16 are known from caves in The Bahamas," he said.
The Bahamas is known to have more than 1,000 blue holes, most of which have not been scientifically explored.
"I could spend several lifetimes without running out of things to do.  There is no shortage of interesting  and fascinating work to be done," he said.

Iliffe and his team plan to return to The Bahamas later this year.

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News Article

February 20, 2012
Political parties must set clear policies

Dear Editor,
 
The much-anticipated upcoming general election is expected to be formally called and Parliament dissolved by Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham within the next few weeks.  Established youth organization (organizers of the 'Say Something' youth forum) 'We Are The Future' - A Youth Organization in conjunction with its election arm 'Truth Bahamas' wishes to engage those seeking election in discussion on the key issues currently affecting The Bahamas.
The governing Free National Movement, the official opposition Progressive Liberal Party and the newly formed Democratic National Alliance have now all officially launched their candidates.  It would, therefore, appear that the three political parties, as well as the numerous independent candidates, are ready for the campaign ahead of the general election.
Notwithstanding the lights, carefully orchestrated political performances and the professionally drafted, repetitious, empty and partisan rhetoric without a clear statement of the issues currently facing The Bahamas and a clear statement of each party's policy position on those issues, it would appear that no one is ready to actually govern the country for the next five years if elected.  While it is imperative for each party to outline what it intends to do if elected, this rhetoric is not helpful and is moreover unrealistic, especially considering the flexibility required in governance, as well as the unstable global economic climate in which the elected government must operate.
Where the leaders of the respective parties have made traditional campaign promises, there has been no substantial and realistic discussion as to the viability of these promises and absolutely no indication of the source of funds required to make such promises a reality.
Whilst we understand that election campaign literature (Manifesto 2012, Our Plan, etc.) has yet to be published 'We Are The Future' - A Youth Organization, on behalf of the youth electorate, call for this literature to include a clear statement of each party's policy as it relates to the following key issues currently facing The Bahamas:
1. Crime - Including proposed statutory amendments to ensure that justice is properly served and safeguarded in the interest of society, propositions for the enhancement of the prosecution capabilities at the Attorney General's Office, propositions for the preservation of independent prosecutions inclusive of the source of additional resources to be allocated for crime fighting (if any), etc;
2. The judiciary - Including parties' policies on protecting the independence of the judiciary, propositions on expanding the number of judicial officers, propositions for the modernization of the various judicial registries inclusive of the source of additional resources to be allocated for crime fighting (if any), etc;
3. Immigration - (i.) General policy on immigration, more specifically including parties' policies on illegal immigrants, those working and residing within The Bahamas without leave to work and/or remain, policy on present statutory framework and proposed amendments to either regularize and/or crack down on illegal immigration;
(ii.) General policy on foreign labor, more specifically including an established and transparent process for the grant of work permits, such that the same may be subject to proper scrutiny, whether public, judicial or otherwise, etc;
4. The economy - General economic and monetary policy, including propositions to diversify the current economic model, relieving the present day reliance on tourism, inclusive of the source of additional resources to be allocated on such diversification (if any);
5. Tax - General policy for a sustainable system of taxation, more specifically propositions for the overhaul of the current tax regime, more specifically, policy and propositions on income tax, value added tax (VAT), sales tax, corporation tax, etc;
6. Oil exploration and drilling - General policy on offshore oil exploration and drilling, more specifically, in support of it or not, if so, policy on the requisite environmental protections and tax framework, immigration policy relating to the required specialist workforce, policy on educating young Bahamians in specialist areas;
7. The environment - General policy for a sustainable environment, more specifically, the proposed legislative program to ensure protection of the environment, etc;
8. Youth entrepreneurship - General policy to encouraging youth entrepreneurship;
9. Social welfare - General policy for sustainable social welfare, inclusive of the source of additional resources to be allocated for proposals (if any);
10.  Unemployment - General policy to reducing unemployment, inclusive of the source of additional resources to be allocated for proposals (if any);
11.  Sports - General policy to encourage sporting in The Bahamas.
The country looks forward to considering parties' and candidates' policies on the issues in exercising the established democratic tradition through the upcoming general election.
 
- 'We Are The Future' - a youth organization

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News Article

February 23, 2012
The Facts on the National Prescription Drug Plan

NIB Sets Record Straight on NPDP Drugs and Payment

Nassau, Bahamas - The following is an NIB Statement on the National Prescription Drug Plan Generic Drugs and Payments:

In
light of recent misinformation heard on the radio airwaves with respect
to the National Prescription Drug Plan and generic drugs, The National
Insurance Board wishes, once again, to provide the public with the true
facts about prescription drugs supplied by the National Prescription
Drug Plan.

The
public should know that the Drug Plan's formulary of medications provides
more than 160 drugs and medical supplies for the treatment of eleven
chronic conditions...

read more »


News Article

February 24, 2012
Laing predicts GB 'renaissance' at Outlook

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama - State Minister of Finance Zhivargo Laing says he is not "delusional" about the uphill climb for the Grand Bahama economy.
The minister served as the opening speaker of this year's Grand Bahama Business Outlook at the Grand Lucayan Beach & Golf Resort.  This year's event, he said, comes at a critical time.  Laing believes it will be remembered as the turn of the tide for this struggling economy.
He told Guardian Business the island will begin to recover by the fourth quarter of this year, and by early 2013, the unemployment rate should fall below 20 percent.
"I'm not delusional," he said. "Grand Bahama's economy is significantly challenged.  I think people do not realize for about 10 years this has been going on.  That is the closest to a recession you can get.
"But I remain bullish on the future."
The minister began his speech by looking back over the last 10 years.  In May 2002, he said, unemployment stood at 6.4 percent.  By 2007 it had risen to 8.8 percent, caused by a lack of significant investment, the impact of hurricanes and in particular the closure of the Royal Oasis Resort.
Of course, next came the recession in 2008. The GBPA was also plagued with ownership and managerial issues at this time and there was limited promotion of the island.
Millions upon millions of dollars in government subsidies, he claimed, "stopped the island's economy from collapsing".
According to the latest numbers from the Department of Statistics, the unemployment rate on the island stands at more than 21 percent.  Investment, both foreign and domestic, has remained stagnant and uninspiring.
After acknowledging the past, Laing announced to the crowd that the future holds a different story.
Continued government subsidies to the tune of $17.3 million this year, rising airlift from Bahamasair and "aggressive intentions" from the GBPA "will begin a renaissance of this island", he said.
Last week, Guardian Business reported that Bahamasair plans to inject at least $25 million into the Grand Bahama economy through significantly expanded airlift.
Through an initiative with the Ministry of Tourism, direct service from Baltimore, Raleigh, Louisville, Richmond and Fort Lauderdale will all begin in a matter of weeks.
Bahamasair is investing in new, more efficient planes for its fleet and will enlist a sub-service operator to assist with the service.
According to David Johnson, the director general in the Ministry of Tourism, airfare will be slashed 50 percent and travel time by 70 percent.
"I think we're going to gain serious momentum in the tourism sector as Bahamasair follows with this arrangement," Laing added. "I expect it will create results."
The minister said the "fullness" of the Job Readiness Programme should be felt a little later this year as spending works its way through the system.  He told Guardian Business the intention is to improve the economic outlook and generate enthusiasm for those on the island.
Another concern for business interests in Grand Bahama is the future of the shipping industry.
Over recent months, Hutchison Port Holdings has laid off dozens of workers as Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), its sole client, continues to move operations over to Panama.
The booming South American nation has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the region, offering high efficiency, low prices and convenience.
Hutchison Port Holdings owns a significant stake in the Grand Lucayan, which has also experienced major struggles in recent years.
Laing said that with light at the end of the tunnel, stakeholders in Grand Bahama will stay the course.
"The one thing I am confident about is those who made an investment here are interested in protecting it.  They have the ability to be creative and innovative," he said.  "The government is prepared to do what it can to provide support.  I think GB is ready for the turn and things will get better."

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