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News Article

June 10, 2011
Commonwealth Bank quarterly dividend up 20

Shareholders were treated to welcome news at the Commonwealth Bank annual general meeting (AGM), as executive chairman William B. Sands Jr. announced a 20 percent increase in the 2011 quarterly common dividend to six cents per share from last year's five cents per quarter.
Nearly 300 Commonwealth Bank shareholders filled the ballroom at SuperClubs Breezes, Cable Beach, for the annual general meeting held on Wednesday, May 18.  Under the theme "From Strength To Strength", shareholders heard a glowing report on what marked the 51st. year of the bank's operations.
"Your bank continues to grow from strength to strength," said Sands.  "I am pleased to report that the bank recorded a new high of $1.4 billion in total assets in an economy that has still not recovered from the 2008 downturn."  Net income for the year was $53.8 million, a new record for the bank and a 27 percent increase over the results recorded in 2009.
The chairman's report further revealed to shareholders that while a challenging operating environment in 2010 repressed loan growth, the bank was able to meet or exceed many of the significant objectives.
Mr. Sands also recognized the bank's shareholders whose continued support and loyalty contributed to the company's overall success.  In 2010, the bank was again able to sustain its long-standing and consistent dividend program, distributing more than $25.6 million to common shareholders.  With the bank's continual strength in performance, it has maintained a position as the largest public company traded on the Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX).
Sands also disclosed that during the year, the bank successfully expanded its Saturday banking service to a third branch in New Providence - Oakes Field Branch - and launched a major development project at its Marsh Harbour, Abaco branch.  Speaking to the latter, Sands said that the branch expansion project would serve to accommodate the rising economic activity on the island. "It is important to the board of directors that the bank invests in our local communities and continues to support the growth and revitalization of the areas in which we do business.  When the branch is completed in the fourth quarter 2011, it will transform the existing structure by adding an additional 6,000 square feet and creating a modern state-of-the-art full-service facility featuring the bank's signature design and amenities."
Overall, the bank remains cautiously optimistic as it looks to the future and the anticipated domestic economic and global recovery.  Economic indicators point to the beginning of a recovery in late 2011 or early 2012.  The bank's president Ian Jennings noted that Commonwealth Bank has always been a market leader, and its business model has provided it with a strong, time tested foundation, which allows it to quickly adjust to market diversities in order to maximize the opportunities that exist.  "Our underlying strategy is to continue to produce long-term, profitable growth by delivering exceptional value to our customers, shareholders and communities through a well controlled and risk mitigated environment," he noted.
The evening ended on a celebratory note, as the bank saluted former chairman T. Baswell Donaldson, CBE on his retirement after an outstanding and distinguished career of 13 years of service, marked by the bank's asset and profitability growth and its focus on distinctive customer service.

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News Article

June 19, 2013
Women of worth encouraged to take their positions

Life will never be the same for participants in the recent Woman of Worth (WOW) Ministries International conference because after two days of interceding prayer, they left the conference knowing they would be held accountable for their actions, and that their lives would never be the same.
Under the theme "Positioned for Such a Time as This" intercessors saturated the atmosphere in the Ocean View Suite at SuperClubs Breezes. It was transformed into a tabernacle of worship, with prayer and praise.
Minister Lavette McFall spoke to the women about what God has in store for them, while Reverend Eileen Johnson told them that they had been handpicked, processed and positioned and that God was getting ready to promote them.
Pastor Patricia Womack, out of Atlanta, Georgia, spoke to the women about being "light" in accordance with the conference's theme.
"When we are called out by God, we cannot be threatened by other people's gifts or talents because there is no competition in God," said Womack.
She told them that everyone has been gifted for the role they are to play in the kingdom. And that God wants to reveal his plan and purpose for their life to each person individually. The pastor told the women that they all have their own unique flavor so there was not a need to compete because competition is counterproductive. And that weakness of attitude will lead to weakness of character and God wants women to be exceptional, established, extraordinary, excellent and endowed with power from on high.
Co-pastor Cleopatra Williams warned the women that they can be in position to receive their gifts, but out of place. And she encouraged the women to be vocal on issues. She told them to speak out on issues because they know the truth and if they don't they would be out of place.

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News Article

June 18, 2013
Banquet occasion to say farewell to St Bede's

THE Roman Catholic School Board, administrators, faculty, teachers, parents and students said farewell to St Bede's Catholic Primary School at a banquet at SuperClubs Breezes.

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News Article

July 01, 2011
Police liaison officers for public schools

Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade announced yesterday that a police liaison officer will be assigned to each government school when schools re-open in September.

Greenslade and other government officials, including the Director of the Immigration Department Jack Thompson, met with public school principals during a forum at SuperClubs Breezes Resort yesterday morning to discuss crime and immigration related issues affecting the public school system.

School violence has been a major concern in public schools, especially in New Providence, over the last few years. The Department of Education and police have had to respond to fights, stabbings and at least one homicide on or near New Providence public schools.

"I've assured principals that they are fully in control of their schools and we stand in full support of them," Greenslade said.

"But we will be more than happy to ensure that there's a school liaison officer assigned to every school in The Bahamas. We have sufficient officers to deal with that and they should be available at all times to the schools and any issues that needs to be pushed further up will be handled by our officers."

Greenslade's announcement came fours years after the Free National Movement (FNM) administration dismantled the school policing program left in place by the last Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration.
This program involved stationing police at public schools.

That initiative was replaced with a community policing approach through which officers are stationed outside schools during peak hours (7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.).
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and his government have held to the position that police officers do not belong in schools.

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News Article

February 03, 2012
Sunquest lifts off with direct flights from Halifax

Tourism officials believe that expanding its Canadian market will only have a positive impact on The Bahamas' bottom line.The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation is teaming up with Canadian tour operator Sunquest, as it announced direct flights to Nassau from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Tourism's National Manager for the Canadian office Janet Cuffie said the venture is part of the ministry's expansion strategy.

She believes the key to ensuring that The Bahamas is seen as a strong destination by vacationers is through successfully convincing travel partners to offer more destinations in more markets.

"There will be two weekly departures on Thursdays and Sundays aboard Thomas Cook Airlines' 217-seater Boeing 757 aircraft," she said.

Cuffie told Guardian Business the launch of this newest service is in addition to the year-round flight from Toronto to Nassau that Sunquest currently operates.

Cuffie revealed that in addition to the flights, Sunquest will offer Nova Scotia residents the opportunity to book three, four and seven night stays at any of eight Nassau or Paradise Island area resorts.

These resorts include Atlantis Paradise Island, Comfort Suites Paradise Island, Paradise Island Harbour Resort, Best Western Bayview Suites, Superclubs Breezes Nassau, Wyndham Nassau Resort&Crystal Palace Casino, Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort and Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort.

Sunquest's Vice President Steve Buchart toldGuardian Business the company is delighted to offer direct flights between Halifax and Nassau as part of its winter 2012 program.

He called this move a win-win situation for all involved.

"This new route not only allows our customers in Halifax to experience, first-hand, our Thomas Cook Canada flights and the best-in-class service that goes with that, but it also provides us with the opportunity to further promote Nassau as a fantastic vacation destination.

"Not only does Nassau offer great resorts, beautiful beaches and ample opportunities for fun, it is now easier than ever to visit with this new direct service."

The Halifax program to Nassau with Sunquest is showing strong sales for the month of February.

In fact, last night's inaugural flight was sold out.

Sunquest has been offering Canadians vacation packaged holidays for over 40 years, specializing in the Caribbean, The Bahamas, Central America, southern Europe and Mediterranean cruises.

Halifax is the largest city in Canada's Atlantic region.

The nonstop seasonal service from Halifax to Nassau commenced yesterday and will end on April 8, 2012.

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News Article

July 02, 2011
Thompson: Undocumented children not targeted

Immigration Department Director Jack Thompson yesterday revised remarks he made Thursday on the issue of undocumented migrant children in the school system, emphasizing that his department does not intend to enter schools and remove children who do not have legal status to be in the country.

Thompson, who was speaking at a forum for public school principals Thursday morning at SuperClubs Breezes, said The Bahamas cannot afford to have illegal immigrants in the public school system.
"You should call me and tell me where they are living because I have to deal with them," Thompson told the principals on that occasion.

"We have to hit at the root. The root is the parent.  I am not in the business of sending the children home and not the parents, or sending the parents and not sending the children.  We have to send them together. "All of them must go and they must go as soon as possible because we can't have people illegally residing and going to school and absorbing our resources. You know how the community feels about this. The communities are outraged."

Yesterday, in a statement, Thompson emphasized a point he made at the event Thursday while backing away from some of his more aggressive remarks made at the education forum.  He said his department will be humane as it carries out its duties.

"The director emphasized that as a matter of policy the church, schools and clinics were off limits for apprehension exercises," said Thompson's statement.
Thompson also stressed Thursday, while calling on educators to inform his department of undocumented students, that immigration officials would not target these children.  Instead, he added, they would goafter their parents and deal with families simultaneously.
"Administrators were told that students of foreign nationals attending schools should apply to the Department of Immigration for a residency permit or permit to reside.  It was emphasized that while students should not be denied the right of a basic education, records by the Department to Immigration are critical for future applications - i.e., permanent residence (and) citizenship," said Thompson yesterday.
The public school system in The Bahamas does not bar children from receiving an education if they have no legal status in the country.

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News Article

July 01, 2011
Immigration crackdown

Director of Immigration Jack Thompson yesterday called on school principals to report unregularized students who register at their institutions, saying the Department of Immigration intends to "flush out" undocumented foreign nationals enrolled in the public school system.

Thompson, who was speaking at a forum for public school principals yesterday morning at SuperClubs Breezes, said The Bahamas can not afford to have illegal immigrants in the public school system "absorbing our resources."

"You should call me and tell me where they are living because I have to deal with them," Thompson told the principals.

"We have to hit at the root. The root is the parent. I am not in the business of sending the children home and not the parents or sending the parents and not sending the children.  We have to send them together.

"All of them must go and they must go as soon as possible because we can't have people illegally residing and going to school and absorbing our resources. You know how the community feels about this. The communities are outraged."

He pointed out that the children who are not Bahamians should be in receipt of a permit to reside.

Thompson noted that the permit to reside card is similar to a Bahamian driver's license.

He said his department has to begin a dialogue with the Department of Education "so we can flush out and unclog the system because there is a lot of concern."

Thompson stressed that immigration officials will not target the undocumented children but will go after their parents and deal with both simultaneously.
Public school officials cannot refuse to register illegal immigrants, as according to Bahamian law, all children residing in The Bahamas have the right to an education.
"This is a balancing act, because while on one hand you can not deny education, by the same token we have a responsibility to crack down and to deal with this issue," Thompson said.
Children who are born to Bahamian women, whether married or single, have the automatic right to citizenship. Only in cases where a non-Bahamian woman is married to a Bahamian man is the child automatically granted citizenship.
Children born in The Bahamas to single women who are not residents of The Bahamas have a right to apply for citizenship when they turn 18.
Thompson said immigration officers never round up illegal immigrants at schools, hospitals or clinics and churches.
"That is a no, no," he said. "While we have a job to do, we have to do things the right way."
He said apprehension exercises will take place in the communities where they live.
While he had no official count, Thompson said there are "a number" of children attending school without proper documentation.
He said it is the department's policy to ask undocumented migrants to leave the country and apply to be regularized through the proper means.
"What we are challenged with now is, should we regularize someone while they are here in the country? Should we regularize someone after they have been here for five years?
"So we're often criticized when we send people back but if we start regularizing persons who are here to start with, then I'm not sure what message we are sending."
Director of Education Lionel Sands, who also attended the forum, told principals that they should work along with the Department of Immigration in its efforts.

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News Article

July 04, 2011
Government immigration statements must be clear

The Director of the Department of Immigration, Jack Thompson, on Thursday made hawkish statements on the illegal immigration problem in The Bahamas while addressing principals at an event at SuperClubs Breezes Resort.
Thompson, said The Bahamas cannot afford to have illegal immigrants in the public school system "absorbing our resources."
"You should call me and tell me where they are living because I have to deal with them," Thompson told the principals.
"We have to hit at the root.  The root is the parent.  I am not in the business of sending the children home and not the parents or sending the parents and not sending the children.  We have to send them together.
"All of them must go and they must go as soon as possible because we can't have people illegally residing and going to school and absorbing our resources.  You know how the community feels about this.  The communities are outraged."
Thompson also emphasized at that event that his department does not, as a matter of policy, apprehend undocumented children at schools.
Thompson's bold remarks reflect the frustration many Bahamians feel with the failed immigration policy in The Bahamas regarding Haitians. Successive governments have been unable to slow the flow of people from Haiti to this country. Therefore, there are thousands of people here who were not invited.
All right-thinking people would accept that it is impossible to stop unauthorized Haitian migration to this country.  Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and it has a population of nearly 10 million.  Many Haitians want a fresh start away from the struggling republic.
Many Bahamians, however, think that successive more can be done by our leaders to reduce the flow of Haitians to The Bahamas. This segment of society is frustrated and angry. Those Bahamians want illegal shantytowns demolished and those who are here illegally to be sent home.
By echoing this frustration, however, Thompson went in tone beyond the policy position of the executive branch of government.  The Free National Movement (FNM) administration has been moderate in its approach. The FNM has held to the traditional apprehension and repatriation policy, but it has also extended an olive branch, inviting Haitians who have been in the country for long periods of time to come in and be regularized.
The Nassau Guardian published Thompson's remarks last Friday.  It appears as if Thompson's superiors in the Cabinet were not impressed. On Friday he issued a more conciliatory statement, emphasizing that Immigration will not be targeting undocumented children in schools.
If the Cabinet wants to clarify the position of the government, that's fine.  Policy and tone are dictated by Cabinet.  We take issue, however, with the insinuation that this newspaper misconstrued what Thompson said Thursday.
"The Thursday's article gives the impression that children are to be targeted by the department's officials. The Department of Immigration regrets this insinuation and strongly condemns any such suggestion or attributions," said Thompson's Friday statement.
This newspaper reported what the immigration director said at a public forum. The comments the Cabinet has a problem with were uttered by its head of department.  The dispute it has is not with this newspaper and it should not have statements sent out suggesting improper reporting when the issue is one between the executive branch of government and one of its senior officials.
The Friday statement should have simply said that the immigration director was excessive in tone and that the policy of the Cabinet is more moderate.
The Nassau Guardian needs not be involved with the varied policy positions held between senior civil servants and the executive branch of government.

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News Article

June 07, 2011
CBC Championships rapidly approaching

Local basketball players have less than three weeks to work on their games if they plan to play on one of two senior national teams, set to compete this summer.
Coaches of the respective teams have by June 23 to select and submit a roster of 24 players eligible to participate in the upcoming Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC) Championships. The men's tournament is slated for July 23-29 and the women's are penciled in for August 3-7, at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium. Even though The Bahamas will be the host of both the men and women's championships, the deadline is still in full effect, confirmed Lawrence Hepburn, Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) President.
He said: "The coaches are going through their selection process everyday. They do an evaluation of the players and what they have or see at each practice. We don't want to close our practice sessions too early because there are persons we have not seen as yet, and then there are players who still haven't performed up to their full potential, because they are still getting in shape. We wanted to see what a little more practice time and getting in shape will do. Some of our players practicing now are veteran players and they bring a lot to the floor.
"We know and have an idea who some of our younger players are. These players are a little more active than the older ones, but we plan to combine the experience factor as well as the youth factor. Up to now everything has been working out well. I have watched the coaching staff sit down night after night and do evaluations, so in that aspect, they are doing well. The practices are running really strong. I know we will meet the deadline of June 23 to name the 24 players selected."
The roster of 24 players will be shaved down to 12, seven days ahead of tournament play. Hepburn encourages persons who are interested in representing their country to come out to practices, noting that no additions can be made once the 24 names are sent in.
If you are unable to come out to training sessions a communication must be sent in to the federation stating the reasons why. Leniency is being given to persons in summer school at their respective colleges, playing in professional leagues, and others who are currently not in range of any of the practice sessions.
Workouts are currently being held in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera. Interested persons from the remaining Family Islands are asked to contact their association's president or the BBF for more information. Head coaches for the men's squad are Larry Brown, Mario Bowleg, Quintin 'Three Ounce' Hall and Dexter Cambridge. Larry Tidwell will head the women's squad, and he will be assisted by Felix 'Fly' Musgrove and Kayla Campbell.
"The problem is once we name the 24 there is a difficulty in naming anyone else who comes in later," confirmed Hepburn. "Anyone who is off to school or has not communicated to us their position and what is happening, it is going to be difficult trying to get them on the team. It is going to cost us $1,000 per player if we name persons outside of the roster of 24. This is why we have been asking and telling persons if you are interested and if there is a situation, summer school, professional contract or job situation let us know. We will look at your situation and make some decisions based on that, but to come after June 23 and you're not named to the 24-man roster, it is going to be really difficult to get you on. It is possible but it costs $1,000, so we must name the list and you have to be on that roster."
Training sessions for both squads are held three to four times a week. Hepburn and executive members want to have a good showing at the championships and hope to qualify for the Centrobasket Championships. Playing host creates a perfect opportunity for The Bahamas' men and women's teams to qualify.
This will mark the first time in 10 years The Bahamas is playing host to the event. The BBF will welcome teams from Jamaica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic.
The men's championships will be held under the patronage of former Bahamian NBA player Mychal 'Sweet Bells' Thompson, who won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. Teams will play out of two pools. Jamaica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana and the Turks and Caicos Islands will play out of Pool A, and the other pool will feature the British Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, Bermuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Cayman Islands.
The women's affair will be played in a round-robin format.
Only the top three teams from both tournaments will advance to the Centrobasket Championships, which is made up of eight countries from around the Central American and Caribbean region. Teams will be staying at the SuperClubs Breezes Resort. Officials from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and CBC will be housed at the Wyndham Nassau Resort.

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News Article

May 01, 2013
Toastmasters Club 1600 share 44-year living legacy

It was an inspiring meeting for some, for others it was an enjoyable trip down memory lane as 24 past presidents of Toastmasters Club 1600 met for only the second time in the club's 44-year history.

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