Sat, Apr 30th 2016, 09:06 PM
Two women, one from Amsterdam and the other from Jamaica, are in custody following the seizure of a quantity of dangerous drugs at the Lynden Pindling airport on Friday.
According to reports, around 3:30pm, officers from the Drug Enforcement Unit acting on information conducted a search of a suitcase at the airport, where they uncovered just over three pounds of ecstasy pills. The two women were arrested and taken into custody.
• Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the suspects responsible for two separate armed robberies on Saturday.
In the first incident, shortly after 1:00am, a woman had just pulled up to her home at Williams Way off St. Vincent Road in her silver Honda Torneo car, license number 255318, when two males approached in a white car. One of the males, armed with a handgun, demanded cash and robbed her of her vehicle before speeding off.
Then, shortly before 4:00am, a man was walking on Dumping Ground Corner, when a man armed with a handgun approached and robbed him of cash before fleeing.
Sat, Apr 30th 2016, 08:39 AM
Alfred Sears has reentered frontline politics, which has oft been described as a rough and tumble business. The former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Cabinet minister and Fort Charlotte MP has decided to come out of a self-imposed, four-year hiatus to challenge his former PLP successor in Fort Charlotte, Dr. Andre Rollins.
It is a huge sacrifice for Sears. From my vantage point he looked content as a private citizen. I read awhile back that Fort Charlotte constituents were petitioning for the return of Sears after it became apparent that Rollins was not a genuine PLP.
There may very well be far more to Sears' return than meets the eye. My interest in this particular development was piqued by an editorial which was published in the April 25 edition of The Nassau Guardian. The gist of The Guardian editorial concerned Prime Minister Perry Christie's eventual departure from frontline politics, and his possible successor. The editorial mentioned Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe and Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald as prospective successors.
You would have to think that Davis is on top this short list due to him being deputy prime minister and deputy leader of the PLP. The general consensus in the political world is that Davis wants to be the next prime minister. This appears to be his greatest political aspiration. He has quietly and patiently waited his turn. However, Davis may be confronted by a political roadblock. And that roadblock may be none other than the newly minted PLP standard-bearer for Fort Charlotte: Alfred Sears.
I arrived at this hypothesis due to an article which was written a few years back in one of the dailies. Sears' recent return has only served to fueled this speculation. Has Christie shrewdly and quietly handpicked his successor in the person of Alfred Sears? In Sun Tzu's "Art of War" it is said that "when the strategy of opponents first makes an appearance, you operate secretly in such a way as to be able to attack it. Since the effort used is little, and your assurance of victory is done in a subtle way, that victory is an easy one."
If my hypothesis is accurate, it would then mean that Christie has no confidence in supposed leadership front-runners Davis, Fitzgerald and Wilchcombe. It would also mean that Christie does not want any of the aforementioned to succeed him as PLP leader and subsequently prime minister. In all likelihood, though, such as scenario, however far-fetched it may be, has the potential to start a political bloodbath within the PLP between the Christie and Davis factions. There have been rumors that the Davis faction of the PLP was disillusioned and frustrated with Christie for remaining in active politics. Clearly any attempts to stymie Davis would cause a political melee within the PLP.
The infighting among the Hubert Minnis and Loretta Butler-Turner factions within the Free National Movement (FNM) would pale in comparison. I cannot envisage Sears being Christie's choice for leader siting well with an ambitious Davis. Adding intrigue to this hypothesis is the known fact that Sears has numbers boss Craig Flowers in his corner, as per The Nassau Guardian.
Davis has plenty clout indeed, but can he successfully withstand the formidable triumvirate of Christie, Sears and Flowers? I seriously doubt he can. But for what it's worth, if Sears is Christie's choice to succeed him, then I honestly believe that he will become the next leader of the PLP. However, first thing first, Sears will have to win in Fort Charlotte, which will not be easy considering the PLP's underwhelming performance the past four years.
- Kevin Evans
Sat, Apr 30th 2016, 07:36 AM
Caribbean countries have quietly started a green revolution and are now leading the way for other small island developing states in the global effort to limit the rise of global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius. While challenges remain, five months after the historic climate agreement in Paris, they remain committed to save energy and invest in renewables.
Some may argue that at a time when oil prices are low, there are incentives to slow this effort down. But, on the contrary, this is the time to take advantage of the savings and move further on their ambitious vision for the future. And that is precisely what they hope to do at next week's U.S.-Caribbean-Central American Energy Summit, hosted by Vice President Joe Biden.
The Caribbean finds itself at a turning point. The road ahead won't be short: despite a substantial push for clean energy, renewables still contribute less than 10 percent of electricity production in the Caribbean.
Ever since last year's first summit, commitments have translated into concrete actions from leaders. They have played a major role in promoting clean energy development, energy efficiency and climate resilience throughout the region. With the support of regional and international institutions, such as CARICOM and the World Bank, Caribbean countries have started a transition to clean energy alternatives.
Solar power continues to expand as technology improves and production costs plummet. Wind energy is also growing as production has become more commercially viable and technology can now better manage the unpredictability of wind and solar resources.
Eastern Caribbean countries are breaking down barriers to all renewables and are even actively exploring geothermal energy as a way to power their country in a reliable, clean and cost-effective manner. Exploratory drilling and preparatory work is happening in Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
It is important that these transitions to renewable energy go hand in hand with efforts to improve efficiency and reduce cost. Caribbean governments know the importance of reducing inefficiencies by modernizing electricity distribution companies and grid systems, and through simple measures such as making buildings more energy efficient and using high efficiency air conditioners and LED light bulbs. This is particularly crucial in the Caribbean, where many countries spend more than five percent of their income in oil imports but still cannot fully satisfy demand.
The uncertainty around the future for oil prices and of concessional oil financing, make it even more important for small Caribbean economies to diversify their sources of energy. Gains in energy efficiency help the private sector develop and become more competitive. Even with current low oil prices, electricity prices around the region average over US$0.25 per kWh, about three to four times more than what is paid in the U.S. or other developed countries.
For small tourism dependent islands like Barbados, where air conditioning alone accounts for 48 percent of hotel electricity consumption, continued gains in energy efficiency will help businesses cut costs and make the hotel industry more competitive.
At a time of global economic slowdown, this is a powerful example of how green energy can strengthen budgets, stimulate economies and unleash sustainable growth.
The private sector can also play an important role in developing the energy sector, through public private partnerships. In Dominica and Saint Lucia, the World Bank is working with the government in helping de-risk power generation investments, develop bankable PPP deals and attract qualified private sector developers. In Jamaica, a 36 megawatt wind farm has received US$63 million in funding from the World Bank's International Finance Corporation and other donors.
Increasingly, small island states are being confronted with extreme weather events and with the rise in sea level, making it more and more important to invest in energy resilience to ensure that infrastructure and systems are robust and well protected when natural disasters occur.
CARICOM together with the World Bank Group, the United States and others have been working on establishing a regional one-stop shop to provide greater access to information on technical resources, streamline financing and improve coordination and transparency.
At this year's summit, leaders have an important opportunity to build on the momentum. Progress on this front holds great promise for the region. By transforming into a model of renewable energy, the Caribbean can show the world how to generate green growth that is sustainable and supportive of the poor and vulnerable.
o Jorge Familiar is the World Bank vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Fri, Apr 29th 2016, 09:06 PM
Fri, Apr 29th 2016, 08:07 PM
THE lawyer for accused bribe taker Freddie Solomon Ramsey told a Supreme Court jury on Friday that his client is nothing more than a scapegoat in the Alstom SA/BEC bribery scheme.
Wayne Munroe, QC, made the remark during his closing address to the nine-member jury that his expected to decide Ramsey’s fate concerning four counts of conspiracy to commit bribery and 14 counts of bribery.
Ramsey, 79, is currently on trial before Justice Bernard Turner and is alleged to have committed the 18 offences between 1999 and 2003. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Mr. Munroe on Friday described his client as a “scapegoat” who, he said, was set up by Mark Smith who played on his client’s prior relationship with Smith’s father to further his own agenda.
“We like to think black people (are) crooked,” the lawyer said.
“We’d like to think the Cabinet of The Bahamas chose one company over the other so there must be something crooked. It cannot be that we as a country was bullied into anything,” the jury heard.
He said that the average individual would not believe that a smaller country like The Bahamas could be bullied by an OECD country that blacklisted The Bahamas during the period that the Inter-American Development Bank DA-12 contract was being decided.
“But nice white people don’t do that. It’s that mindset that we have. It’s a bad mindset,” Munroe said.
The bribery allegations are related to a widespread scheme involving tens of millions of dollars in bribes to countries around the world. They were brought to light in 2014 in a US Department of Justice report, which said that Alstom SA allegedly paid more than $300,000 to a BEC board member to influence contracts between 1999 and 2003.
The jury previously heard from Mark Smith, an admitted bribe taker, who received immunity from prosecution in exchange for giving testimony. It was revealed in court that Alstom SA had written letters intended for then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and then Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson as the company wanted BEC officials to reconsider the bid it felt was going to be rejected.
The jury also saw a letter Alstom SA received from then BEC Assistant General Manager Patrick Hanna in December 2000, who took issue with the French company’s attempt to discredit another bidder or the evaluation process and noted that the letters “are in direct contravention of the tender process”.
Inspector Deborah Thompson, of the Central Detective Unit, has testified that Ramsey denied having any involvement in the bribe scheme during an interview in which 101 questions were put to him in the presence of his then-lawyers Roger Minnis and Khalil Parker.
Munroe said the Crown’s case against his client rested on the words of an admitted bribe taker.
“You will only have his word for these communications over the phone and facsimile,” the lawyer said.
Munroe said it was Smith’s evidence that Ramsey used his connection with Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson to inevitably get Alstom the contract.
“The police took a statement from the former DPM but chose not to call him. So there’s no corroboration of evidence that Ramsey went to Watson. Ramsey voted with the (BEC) board not once but twice and the minutes of the board meetings show that. So use of influence where? Assistance where?” the lawyer put to the jury.
Mr. Munroe said if Ramsey had in fact met with Alstom and Smith in Florida, the travel information could easily be obtained.
He also said none of the original cheques shown to the jury were originals in order to prove that they were, in fact, alleged payments.
Mr. Munroe claimed the police did not do a thorough investigation because they did not look into whether there really was a cabinet committee that undertook an investigation into this DA-12 contract.
He also reminded the jury that they put a question to a board member on why the decision was overturned.
“The one man who could tell you wasn’t questioned at all,” Munroe said.
The case concludes on Monday, May 2, when Justice Turner gives a summation of the evidence before excusing the jury to deliberate on verdicts for the 18 offences.
Ramsey is on $40,000 bail and is represented by Mr. Munroe, Tommel Roker and Bridgette Ward.
Garvin Gaskin, Acting Director of Public Prosecution, is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Cordell Frazier.