Nassau Guardian Stories

Spoil the ballot campaign

February 20, 2017

"The power of the ballot we need in sheer defense, else what shall save us from a second slavery?" - W.E.B. Du Bois

History is replete with democratic societies whose social and political developments have been punctuated by decades-long, hard-fought battles to gain the right to vote. This was evident in the case of the British suffragettes, who won the right to vote in the 1830s, their American counterparts who achieved the same right in 1920, African-Americans in the 19th century and our own suffragettes, who won the right to vote for the first time in the 1962 general election.
Recently, several University of The Bahamas professors suggested that Bahamians should consider spoiling their ballots in the upcoming general election. Therefore, this week we would like to Consider this... In the Bahamian context, does it make any sense to spoil our ballots?

What did the professors suggest?
Two prominent University of The Bahamas professors have launched a "spoil your ballot campaign". While they are encouraging people to register to vote, one of the professors maintains that

""there are a lot of people out there who are just so sick of what is going on, they don't want to register at all. You do not have to pick one of the choices that are given to you".
The professor continues: "In a democracy, voting is one part of that, and I think we should take full advantage of that. But I also believe that if we are supposed to make a choice, we should have a valid choice. We should at least be given a valid choice. So, if your subjective opinion is that you do not have a valid choice, our message is don't stay home. Go register, go vote, and vote for nobody.
"The difference between going out and spoiling a vote and staying home and not voting, or not registering to vote at all is that the spoiled vote will be counted."

The fallacies of the arguments
The first fallacy of the argument for spoiling the ballot lies in the false premise about the persons from whom the selection should be made. Their objection is that, at the general election, we should be given a "valid choice". Precisely what does that mean? The fact of the matter is that, on every ballot, valid choices are presented. One may not like the choices, one may not even think those choices are deserving of your vote, but they are the choices, and they are valid inasmuch as they have satisfied the requirements under our laws to have been nominated.
Secondly, if the spoiled ballot supporters are so opposed to the standard-bearers that the parties have advanced, then they should get more actively involved in the electoral process. They should get themselves, or candidates who they believe are more congruent with their thinking, ideology and vision for The Bahamas, nominated to run for office.
Third, the political system that we enjoy here is the only one that we have. It has evolved over many decades and has generally served us well. If those who would have us spoil our ballots are genuinely interested in advancing our democracy, they would be far more effective to the body politic if they would actively participate, instead of taking the intellectually dishonest approach of playing the role of the "all-knowing" Monday morning quarterback. If you don't like the system and really want to change the system, then try rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands and feet into the thick of the challenges that our democracy has to offer.
Fourth, if you spoil your ballot, you have no voice. It is therefore intellectually dishonest and inherently disingenuous to suggest that your voice will be heard by spoiling your ballot.
The most disappointing thing about the proponents of the "spoil your ballot" campaign is that they are teachers of young, impressionable, fertile, enquiring minds of students at the University of The Bahamas. Equally disappointing is that one of the proponents is a female activist who should be encouraging as many persons as possible not only to register to vote, but to vote for the candidate who seems most informed and best poised to move the country forward, without reference to one political party or another.

Honoring our forebears
Millions the world over, have endured much blood, sweat and tears over the centuries to earn the right to vote for all free men and women. Many have died in the journey to universal suffrage because the right to vote was considered so elemental to the development of democratic societies.
Even today, we still hear reports of voter suppression, a practice where those in authority seek to disenfranchise persons in order to influence and control the outcome of an election. We also hear reports of those who are still fighting to remove that kind of suppression and establish voting freedom, the kind we enjoy and, in some cases, take for granted here in The Bahamas.

Conclusion
It is always desirable to find perfection in a candidate, but in reality we, the voter, must often sacrifice our "ideal" candidate for one who may be less than perfect but still possesses some attributes we are looking for in a representative. It is really up to us to stay involved after an election and hold our elected officials accountable to the goals we believe in.
Therefore, we encourage all civic-minded, patriotic persons who want to see an improvement in their country, to register and to vote for the candidate who you believe best represents those ideas and ideals that are more closely aligned to your own. If that means casting your vote for a PLP candidate, then so be it. If you feel that the FNM has the best candidate, then give that candidate your vote. The same is equally true of the DNA candidate. If that person best represents your views on national development, then vote DNA.
It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to spoil your ballot. Spoiled ballots will be counted as that - spoiled ballots - and, in the aggregate, will elect not one single member to Parliament. The spoiled ballot cannot put your case in Parliament. Your voice will vanish and your objections will be obliterated.
It is time for the voices of maturity in this society to do all that they can to elevate the debate. It is time to educate and assist those who are confused, disappointed and disaffected by some of the disappointing and unimpressive candidates who have been selected, to be the standard-bearers of all the political parties.
It is not the time to take the easy path, to stop listening to the debates and cease learning about the issues and the candidates. It is time to exercise our responsibility as citizens, study the choices and decide between those candidates.
And now is definitely not the time to fail our nation by failing to make a choice at the ballot box by marking an X next to a name, thereby living up to our hard-won privilege as citizens who have been entrusted to move this nation forward, onward and upward.

o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to pgalanis@gmail.com.

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Seven of Exuma's famous swimming pigs die

February 19, 2017

The government will prevent the feeding of Exuma's swimming pigs by visitors following the recent deaths of seven pigs on Big Major Cay, according to Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources V. Alfred Gray.
Tourists and locals alike visit the Exuma Cays to swim with the pigs and feed them.
One of the pigs' owners, Wayde Nixon, told The Nassau Guardian yesterday, "The pigs were given the wrong food.
"... We had the government vet in there [who] examined them all thoroughly.
"He gave them shots, he gave them medicine, and I was there and I worked with them for three days straight."
Nixon said about 15 of the pigs are still alive.
"This incident is not going to stop people being able to come to the island," he added.
"The other remaining pigs are alive and healthy and out on the beach and going.
"But it's just that me and my partner (Don Rolle) are dealing with the government to regulate it now.
"... We had them pigs there almost 30 years, and never has this happened before, but now we are going to have to regulate it.
"Right now it's blowing out of proportion with people, anybody bringing food there, anybody doing what they [want to] do.
"We have people coming there giving the pigs beer, rum, riding on top of them, all kind of stuff.
"That never happened, but lately [it has] because it's so big, and we are never really there all the time.
"Now I will have my son and my partner's son and we will regulate it, and they will be working there, and we will have permission from the government to do it the right way so we won't have this problem anymore."
Gray said there is a need for a boundary around the pigs, which currently swim up to boats as they approach.
"... If we have boundary lines, the people will be able to take photographs and see the pigs swim, all of that," he said.
"But they will not be able to feed them things."
Gray said his ministry has partnered with the Ministry of Tourism on the matter and will "seek to implement that as soon as is practical to do so".

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More than 120 enter Ministry of Tourism's song competition

February 19, 2017

The Ministry of Tourism's (MOT) "Da Bahamian Ting" Song Competition attracted scores of talented singers, songwriters and musicians from throughout The Islands of The Bahamas.
On February 17, members of MOT's Culture and Heritage Department counted 124 submissions.
The deadline for submissions was 5:00 p.m.
"The response was overwhelming," said Director of Culture and Heritage Tourism Arlene Nash-Ferguson. "We are so pleased that so many Bahamians are creating Rake 'n' Scrape, Junkanoo and Goombay music with such passion. This proves that our creative community is still committed to preserving and promoting the rich cultural heritage of The Bahamas.
"What is even more encouraging is that artists were only allowed to submit one song. So these are 124 individuals creating music of a traditional Bahamian genre," Nash-Ferguson added.
The esteemed judges now have their work cut out for them, having to narrow the talented field down to 20 semi-finalists. Those semi-finalists will be announced during a special happy hour event in Pompey Square on March 3 at 5:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
The panel of judges will choose the top 20 songs based on the following criteria:
o Songs must be in a Bahamian genre, Rake 'n' Scrape, Goombay or Junkanoo, and around three minutes long.
After the 20 semi-finalists are announced, members of the public will choose the top 10 by voting online, via text messaging and by submitting their favorite online.
The winner will be announced on April 21.
The winner of "Da Bahamian Ting" will receive $25,000 with second place taking $20,000, third place $15,000, fourth place $10,000 and fifth through 10th will receive $1,000 each.
The top 20 songs will receive much exposure and airtime, and will be used in Ministry of Tourism campaigns locally and globally.
The goal of the competition is to showcase talented Bahamian artists and musicians. It also aims to create a more vibrant music industry that fuels job creation, economic growth, tourism development, artistic growth, and strengthens the country's brand.

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Lakia Rolle: Failure is not an option

February 19, 2017

Failure is only the direct result of not applying hard work and choosing to maximize your potential, according to Queen's College senior Lakia Rolle.
The 17-year-old was recently awarded the Paul L. Adderley Award for the best Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) overall performance in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas in 2016; and the Carol Hanna Award for best overall performance for independent schools.
Rolle sat 12 senior national examinations as an 11th grade student. She earned 11 A grades and one C grade.
For her efforts, she also received a check, a laptop and a plaque.
"You should never give up," said Rolle. "Failure is not an option, and it only happens when you give up. You only fail when you don't try, so never give up. You have to realize that the sky is not the limit -- there are footprints on the moon," she said.
Rolle was announced as the top student of the national examinations at the 24th annual national awards presentation, held on Monday, February 13 at the William Johnson Auditorium, Church of God Convention Centre, Joe Farrington Road.
"I am so elated and overjoyed to know that all of my hard work has paid off," she said. "There has been a standard set at Queen's College where you can't help but to want to not only achieve what those that came before you have achieved, but supersede those accomplishments. I remember being as young as eighth grade, and I remember aspiring to wanting to be the top in the country. I wanted to defy the odds, so my sights were always set on being the top student," she said.
The QC student boasts a 3.75 cumulative grade point average (GPA).
With her national examinations squared away, she's focused on doing her best in the five AP courses she's enrolled in for her final year; they are psychology, human geography, English literature and composition, Spanish language and culture and calculus.
Rolle sat the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) last year and scored a 1,560. She wants to better that score this year.
"I want to better it, because I realize how competitive it is as it relates to scholarships and even being accepted into schools, and I really want to further my education."
The teen has her sights set on studying biology and international business.
"Growing up I never imagined myself doing anything else besides being a doctor. I like to serve people and feel that serving people through that means will give me the utmost joy. And as it relates to international business, I also love being a delegate for change, and using who I am to help my country, and I feel that being able to pursue that degree would afford me the opportunity to better my country," she said.
She has cast her net far and wide, applying to 10 colleges. She refused to fall victim to the problem of only applying to one or two schools and not getting into any.
"I decided early on that I wanted to keep my options open and made sure that all of the schools I applied to had a great science program, and a great business program, so that even if I decided to switch my major I would be able to transition into what would be comfortable for me," she said.
Rolle is also applying for scholarships wherever she can to ensure that she has the means to afford higher education. She credits her parents, Lionel and Marvia Rolle, for instilling excellence in education in her. When she thinks about all they've done for her, she said, she always gets emotional.
"I realize the sacrifices they've had to make to get me to where I am today. They have also instilled morals -- both Christian and civic in me that I know I will take throughout my life," said Rolle.
The academic achiever also manages to balance a heavy extracurricular activity schedule that has her involved in Junior Achievement; female empowerment club The Queen in Me; and the school's basketball and soccer teams. She is also president of the Christian Youth Movement at her church.
"I'm definitely heavily involved and busy, but for me it's all about balance, maximizing my potential and realizing that I'm only in high school for a little while, and I have to make an impact on not only myself, but the people around me."
Candis Petty, a graduate of C.R. Walker Senior School, who now attends the University of The Bahamas was the recipient of the Majorie Davis Award for best overall performance in the 2016 BGCSE examinations for government schools. She earned eight A grades, two B grades and two C grades.
Carmetta Barry, who last year was a student at H.O. Nash Junior School, was named the candidate with the overall best Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) results for government schools. She also received the best BJC results in The Bahamas for 2016. She received eight A grades and two B grades.
Bahamas Academy's Jodi Garcia was named the 2016 independent school candidate with the best BJC overall results. She earned eight A grades.
Luke Knowles, of Long Island's N.G.M. Major School, was the government school male candidate with overall best BJC results for 2016. He earned seven A grades and two B grades.
While individual honors were meted out at the award ceremony, a number of schools were recognized for excellent results in the BJC and BGCSE by their overall student body, including St. Augustine's College, Queen's College, H.O. Nash, Forest Heights Academy, C.H. Reeves and D.W. Davis.
As students were rewarded for excellence in national examinations, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald urged educators and students to remain focused to ensure that, at the end of the day, they give themselves the best opportunity to succeed.

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Tapping into future careers

February 19, 2017

Shanando Moss has always wanted to work with his hands, and appears to be on his way to fulfilling that dream as a student of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute's (BTVI) dual enrollment program studying in the trade career path.
"I want to be an electrical engineer, so I am learning more about what I want to do in life," said Moss. "Currently, we are learning about electricity. I am using this as an opportunity, and I intend to come back in September for a year before hopefully going off to school."
Moss, 16, is one of 42 12th grade Anatol Rodgers High School students whose parents have agreed for them to be enrolled in the 15-week program.
"The class atmosphere is easy to learn in. The teacher, Mr. [David] Barry, makes a difference," he said.
The 25 females in the program are studying introduction to cosmetology, which includes topics such as hair analysis, beauty culture science and communicable diseases.
The young men in the trade career path classes are introduced to the fundamentals of several construction trades, including electrical installation, plumbing, masonry, carpentry, heating ventilation and air conditioning, welding, and painting and decorating.
During the almost four-month course, students spend Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at BTVI.
The program is designed to give high school students a jumpstart on post secondary education.
"The nature of the dual enrollment program eases them into college life, allowing them to immerse themselves and adjust to the work. It gives them a degree of independence," said Leroy Sumner BTVI's associate vice president of academic affairs.
"Even their parents are excited. And they won't have to make application for enrollment again. If we get them early enough, more and more of them may want to come to BTVI to complete their education. Since starting, other schools have started calling -- even in Andros and other Family Islands. It's a wonderful program designed to develop a pathway to assist students in learning a trade and earning a living," said Sumner.
Barr, the trade career path instructor, said the course helps students identify the trade they are most interested in pursuing for their lives.
He spoke highly of the students.
"This is a good group. They are very quiet. They are mannerly. They get right into their work and clean up afterwards. When I arrived, they were in here working," said Barry.
Antonique Sullivan, 16, says she finds cosmetology interesting, but says she is still trying to determine her passion.
"There is the possibility of me returning to BTVI to study cosmetology. This is a great opportunity. Not much people get to experience this while in school. It's interesting. I feel more responsible," said Sullivan.
Miriam Peet, 17, is absent from classes in math, Bahama Host, French, English and religious studies on Fridays, but ensures she catches up on any missed work.
"The majority of our teachers understands and gives us the work. For Bahama Host, we have extra classes. For others, we get what we will miss that Thursday or on that Monday when we return. I'm able to keep up, balancing the workload," she said.
Being able to keep up, she said, makes her feel accomplished.
Cosmetology instructor, Monique A. Marshall, said she was pleased with the students' performance.
"The girls are understanding the work. They conduct themselves very well and are interactive," said Marshall.

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Belief is everything

February 19, 2017

This article was written not long after the substantial win of the United States (U.S.) presidential election by businessman Donald Trump. Now as the whole world knows, when Donald Trump first announced his decision to run in the 2016 U.S. presidential election as a Republican, he had a whole lot of detractors, including within the Republican Party. Actually he has apparently no experience whatsoever in government and was just one out of a very large field of senators and government officials, including governors of states, etc.
Most people, including the media, didn't think he had a chance in hell as that well-known saying puts it. Of course he was mocked by people in his own party and by members of the Democratic Party. However after the primaries he emerged as the winner and then became the Republican candidate for the presidency.
Of course he still had his detractors and those who did everything to weaken his bid to become president, including an extremely biased, hostile media. So how come with so many being against him and doing their utmost to beat him, did he actually win? Well obviously he ran a great campaign, which was very effective. But my friend, the number one thing that Donald Trump had going for him, was his total belief that he would win in the end and he managed to do just that.
Yes indeed, as the title of today's article simply and succinctly puts it, belief is everything when it comes to being successful. That's right, whatever your goals in life are, you must believe implicitly in your ability to achieve them in a given time frame. As they say, to he that believes, all things are possible. Yes they are, and Donald Trump, like him or not, is living proof of this.

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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Let the matches begin!

February 19, 2017

Prime Minister Perry Christie toured the newly renovated Bahamas Football Association (BFA) National Beach Soccer Facility on Saturday, ahead of this week's CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Beach Soccer Championships. The $2.5 million facility, built on the site of the original complex at Malcolm Park, has a seating capacity of about 3,500 and is equipped with a number of modern amenities.
The CONCACAF Championships will serve as a qualifier and test event for the upcoming International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) Beach Soccer World Cup, which will be held at the facility from April 27 to May 7, and will feature 16 teams from around the world. As for the CONCACAF Championships, competition will run from today through Sunday.
"In terms of this facility, I want to congratulate this young Bahamian designer, Bruce Lefleur Jr. for executing the vision in a wonderful way," said Prime Minister Christie. "I think it is critical that Bahamians come to understand the significance of this stadium and the events that it will host. We are actually moving to another dimension in offering the world and the region facilities that are second to none. Many years ago, I indicated to Minister [Obie] Wilchcombe, in his first stint as Minister of Tourism, that we had to commit to sports tourism. The Bahamas has truly demonstrated our capacity internationally, and we had to broaden and deepen our involvement. For me, I am so pleased to see that we have reached that stage."
Although he will be in attendance this week to see how the stadium and its functions perform under pressure, Christie said that he's also looking forward to seeing the high-level competition up close.
"I have to come and see this, simply to see how men can run on sand without falling down. This is truly a test of stamina," Christie said. "This is going to be competitive. I am really pleased and really want to congratulate the construction company and the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson for being involved at the highest level."
The teams representing the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) this week are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the U.S. Virgin islands. Teams representing North America will be from Canada, Mexico and the United States, and teams representing the Central American Football Union (UNCAF) will be Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama.
Two CONCACAF teams will join The Bahamas as the three representatives in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017. If The Bahamas finishes in the top two at the CONCACAF Championships, the third place team will qualify along with the other top two teams.

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Rose's injury likely ends collegiate career

February 19, 2017

The Brigham Young University (BYU) Cougars men's basketball team hosted its senior night on Saturday when they took on number 22 nationally ranked Saint Mary's University. However, the team's two seniors couldn't play due to injury. One of those seniors was a native of The Bahamas - L.J. Rose - and the other was Kyle Davis.
Rose underwent surgery on Monday to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee, and according to BYU Head Coach Dave Rose, it's unlikely that he'll return this season, bringing his collegiate career to a close. He needs at least four to five weeks to recover.
"We will kind of go through it with team doctors and see what the possibilities are, but it looks like it is probably a four to five week recovery period, and that it is possible, but we will see," Coach Rose said.
Rose transferred to BYU from Houston, and to Houston from Baylor. The graduate transfer earned his degree in health at Houston and was immediately able to suit up for BYU. Rose started all 25 games he played in this season, and averaged 5.5 points, 4.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds for BYU.
Although he was only with the team a few months, Coach Rose said that he made a lasting impression on the team. Rose and Davis were both named team captains in December.
"L.J. was a guy who put a lot of confidence in us, and he came and got hurt early, but kind of made it through, and helped us," Coach Rose said. "He helped us a ton, started 25 games for us. So these are both guys who were really valuable and important to this team. It is just kind of a shame that they haven't been able to finish it like they would have liked to."
Sophomore guard Eric Mika said that playing with Rose was an experience that was second to none.
"L.J. is one of the best teammates I've ever had," Mika said. "He's so knowledgeable of the game and so positive. By coming through and overcoming a lot, they both have brought real maturity to the locker room."
Apart from Rose and the Cougars, several other teams that feature Bahamian players were in action over the weekend.
Michael Carey and the Wagner College Seahawks knocked off St. Francis 73-55. Carey didn't attempt a shot in the game, but finished with three rebounds in 11 minutes of action.
Tavario Miller and his Texas A&M Aggies defeated Auburn 81-62. In four minutes of action, Miller had two points and two rebounds.
Shaquille Cleare and the Texas Longhorns fell 64-61 to the Kansas State Wildcats. Cleare finished with four points on 1-for-3 shooting from the field. He also pulled down five rebounds.
In Big Ten Conference action, Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn and the Michigan State Spartans fell 80-63 to No. 16 Purdue. Nairn finished with two points, five assists and four rebounds, and in American Athletic Conference play, the SMU (Southern Methodist University) Mustangs topped Danrad "Chicken" Knowles and the Houston Cougars 76-66. Knowles played 13 minutes and pulled down two rebounds.

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'Buddy' Hield puts up 28 in Rising Stars game

February 19, 2017

New Orleans Pelicans' shooting guard Chavano "Buddy" Hield put on a show for his home crowd on Friday in the BBVA Bank Rising Stars Game, one of the newest additions to the National Basketball Association's (NBA) All-Star Weekend.
The game featured the top rookie and sophomore players in the league, and for the second year in a row, it pitted Team USA up against Team World.
Freeport native Hield scored 28 points for Team World, as they knocked off the United States 150-141. Denver Nuggets' guard Jamal Murray, who hails from Canada, led the way for them with 36 points. He was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the game.
"It was a lot of fun," Hield said about the exhibition game. "It means a lot to play in New Orleans. Everybody is embracing it, the atmosphere and us. I just wanted to go out and give the fans something good to watch."
Hield had 19 of his 26 points at the half, which allowed his team to take a 77-66 lead at the break. His first half was highlighted by an alley-oop dunk off a three-quarter-court pass from Murray.
"I was just out there having fun," Hield said.
With just over 20 games remaining in the regular season, Hield hopes he can use this game as a springboard to finish the season on a strong note. The Pelicans currently sit with a win/loss record of 23-34 and are in 11th place in the NBA's Western Conference.
"I feel like when you get a lot of confidence and start to shoot the ball well and you start having fun and feel comfortable out there, it will loosen you up a little more. I've just got to keep getting better and use it as a major boost to the second half and continue to shoot the ball well."
Hield is averaging 8.6 points, 1.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game during the Pelicans' first 57 games of the season. He's shooting 39.2 percent from the field, but is knocking it down from three-point land at a decent rate of 36.9 percent.
Since Hield was inserted into the starting line-up in December, his statistics have gone up.

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Continuity of The Bahamas' sports brand should be national focus

February 19, 2017

During the 1950s when Stafford Sands recognized the value of Bahamian entertainers, led at the time by the crooner/calypso specialist and ultra musician George Symonette, The Bahamas' tourism brand began to take shape.
Sands, the "father of tourism", maintained his close connection to the Bahamian entertainment industry during the early and mid 1960s and showcased them to the world to attract visitors to this country. He understood that the entertainers were largely responsible for repeat visitors. In subsequent years, through different central administrations, tourism ministers followed Sir Stafford's lead to an appreciable degree and The Bahamas' tourism brand became cemented. Now, we have in place The Bahamas' sports brand, which is poised to propel this nation as tourism has for many years.
While our organized sports program has, since the 1930s, figured prominently in the growth of this nation, the true potential of the commodity was never fully realized. There was always some deterrent or another.
A case in point is the large body of work done by Neville Wisdom when he was Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture. He got near to consummating an arrangement with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for The Bahamas to be the base country for that organization's Hall of Fame. Wisdom got the planning to the point whereby a prospective location for the IAAF Hall of Fame was selected in Sandyport, New Providence, and toured by then IAAF President Lamine Diack. The IAAF chief also visited first-time Prime Minister Perry Christie and got his blessing.
Lo and behold, general elections came, the Christie government lost power and Wisdom's plan, a magnificent one, was aborted, cancelled I believe, without even the slightest review.
Much has happened otherwise though in sports, from that time. Subsequent governments have paid significant attention to the furtherance of the national sports profile. The present government however, with Dr. Daniel Johnson at the helm for its sports focus, made large strides. The Bahamas became a sports host nation of note. One of the prize events (Commonwealth Youth Games) endorsed by this government, is scheduled for after the general elections of 2017. The view here is that no matter what happens at elections time, continuing The Bahamas' sports brand should be a national focus.
If the second Perry Christie governance gets extended into a third term, Dr. Johnson who is taking a sabbatical from frontline politics, will not be there, but hopefully whoever becomes the sports minister recognizes the importance to this country of its sports brand.
The same goes for whoever gets appointed sports minister, if there is a government other than the present one when May of this year closes out. Though far from perfect and guilty of oversights, tardiness and some unreasonable actions, regarding sports, this government has fostered the brand like no other.
The Bahamas' sports brand is entrenched as a marketing item for the country. Therefore, the challenge going forward, after Dr. Johnson leaves the sports scene, will be continuity of the sports brand push.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com)

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Victory for the 'Lady in Red'

February 19, 2017

It was smooth sailing for the Campari Lady Nathalie on Sunday, as it booked its 17th victory in the Catch Me If You Can series, holding off five 'A' Class sloops in the waters of Montagu Bay. The 'B' Class sloop Lady Nathalie was given a 12-minute head start on a 10-mile course, and with a late surge, it was able to hold off the Redstripe, the Running Tide, the Southern Cross, Good News and Ed Sky. The Lady Nathalie now leads the all-time series, 17-13. On the Saturday of the regatta, 'C' Class and optimist races were held. Event organizer and owner of the Campari Lady Nathalie Eleazor "Barber J" Johnson, said that he is thankful for the support that he continues to get from year to year for the regatta. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre Regatta is held every year in February. Sponsors for the regatta included the government of The Bahamas through the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources with responsibility for regattas, Butler and Sands, Burns House, Bristol Wines and Spirits, Caribbean Bottling Co., Sands Beer, Lowe's Wholesale, Asa H. Pritchard Ltd., BTC and Sir Durward Knowles, just to name a few.

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Services offered under NHI's primary care phase revealed

February 19, 2017

The National Health Insurance Secretariat revealed a full breakdown of services that would be offered by physicians under the $100 million primary care phase, outlining treatment and prevention measures for patients with diabetes, cancer, asthma, hypertension, high cholesterol and mental health issues.
With primary care expected to roll out in May 2017, the secretariat reiterated that certain services would not be included under this particular phase, such as non-primary care specialist, dentist and ophthalmologist/eye care specialist visits.
In a draft document subject to approval by the NHI Authority issued last week, the NHI Secretariat provided an outline of the benefits package for primary care services at the physician level.
"A primary care physician might offer services that are both covered by the primary care benefits package and not. Over time, NHI Bahamas coverage will expand to include additional services, secondary and tertiary, once other health system strengthening activities have advanced and the healthcare system is ready for full implementation."
Under the primary care phase, pregnant women do not have to pay out of pocket for pregnancy tests, prenatal vitamins, doctor visits, blood tests to learn their blood type and to check for any diseases, ultrasounds to check the baby's growth and find out the sex, and screening for genetic defects such as Down syndrome.
Among other illnesses, the secretariat pointed out that cancer is one of the leading causes of death among Bahamians.
"Preventative measures, including regular screening, can help identify cancer at the early stages before it becomes more serious. The primary care package covers specific tests that screen for prostate, breast and cervical cancers, blood tests to assess risks of developing cancer, HPV (Human papillomavirus) vaccine and high-risk HPV testing for women," the statement said.
Primary care will also provide treatment for diabetes.
"Approximately one in four Bahamians have diabetes. Additionally, 80 percent of Bahamians are overweight, which significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes," the secretariat said.
"The primary care benefits package can help persons prevent or manage diabetes through diet and exercise counseling, blood sugar monitoring, at-home glucose monitoring, management assistance through regular doctor visits, and essential medication such as insulin."
The secretariat acknowledged that "too many Bahamians suffer with mental illness in silence".
"Left untreated, mental illness can negatively impact your quality of life," the statement said.
"With the NHI Bahamas primary care benefits package you can receive assessment and diagnosis of mental illness, counseling and medication such as antidepressants."
Other serious conditions such as hypertension and high cholesterol were addressed.
"Approximately 16 percent of Bahamians aged 25-64 have high cholesterol and one third have high blood pressure," said the secretariat.
"Primary care benefits help patients through counseling on healthy eating and exercise to lower risk, blood pressure testing and monitoring, blood sugar testing and monitoring, cholesterol screening, analysis of liver and kidney functions, and EKG (electrocardiogram) to assess heart function."
Patients with asthma will also receive treatment such as EKG of the heart, lung x-ray, and testing of lung function under the primary care phase.

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Turner-Jones: Bahamas has to invest in education, social welfare to stay competitive

February 19, 2017

The Bahamas has to invest in education and social welfare if it is to stay competitive in the region, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) General Manager Therese Turner-Jones told Guardian Business recently.
Turner-Jones said the country's inordinately high murder rate has to be curbed for sectors like tourism to continue to grow. She said men ages 18 to 34 have to be targeted for interventions that cause them to shift the crime culture.
"We have a murder rate per 100,000 that's way beyond anything one would call normal for a country this size, so that needs to be addressed, and you can address that through improving the social infrastructure and services," she said.
Turner-Jones added that the country has to begin to put young men into more productive activities, but moreover she suggested that this country and many of the Latin American and Caribbean countries have to begin to spur cognitive skills and critical thinking earlier on in the lives of our countries' youth.
Last week Turner-Jones attended a workshop sponsored by the IDB where experts discussed how societies could begin to turn on the brains of kids at an early age, so that they have the cognitive skills and critical thinking ability needed to compete in today's world.
At that workshop the IDB launched two flagship publications; one on the social pulse of the Caribbean and the other on early childhood development in the region.
Turner-Jones said it has been found that for every dollar invested in the education of a child, it reaps a return of $17 in the future. She said the IDB study looks at childhood intervention between zero and two years old and between the ages of three and six years.
According to Turner-Jones, The Bahamas and Jamaica have a lot of work to do to improve the education on those islands.
"Our vision for the Caribbean and The Bahamas is that we create an economy that's thriving, where people are safe, productive and happy, so it speaks to all of the needs and challenges," she said. "By focusing on the early years we are touching on an aspect of that."

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Despite Aliv, BTC's subscriber base up 6,000

February 19, 2017

Cable & Wireless Communications Limited (CWC), part owner of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), said despite the entrance of BeAliv Limited as the second provider of cellular mobile services in the country, BTC's subscriber base grew by 6,000 on a quarter to date (QTD) basis through increased data-led promotional activity.
The telecommunications giant, in its preliminary results for the period ended December 31, 2016 published last week, stated that it was able to grow its subscriber base in The Bahamas across mobile, video and Internet products on a year-to-date (YTD) basis.
"Momentum is steadily building in our video RGU (revenue generating unit) base through penetration of our newly constructed fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network," said CWC.
"Despite the entrance into the market of our first mobile competitor in
November 2016, we were able to grow our subscriber base by 6,000 QTD through increased data-led promotional activity."
In the face of BeAliv entering the telecommunications market, there is a possibility that BTC could lose market share.
CEO of BTC Leon Williams once said that BTC could lose $100 million when a second mobile company enters the market. "If the new entrant takes 30 percent of the customer base, it means that BTC will lose one third of its revenue. Its revenue would go from $320 million a year to $220 million a year," said Williams.
Before the second mobile competitor launched its mobile services last year, CWC pinned a drop in its mobile revenue to The Bahamas in its preliminary second quarter 2016/2017 results, published in November 2016. CWC said its mobile revenue was two percent lower in the second quarter of 2016/2017 as compared to the same quarter in 2015/16 on a rebased basis, due primarily to a revenue decrease in The Bahamas.
In addition, CWC revealed that BTC incurred total infrastructure repair costs estimated at $35 million to $45 million as a result of Hurricane Matthew, adding that BTC suffered significant infrastructure damage and business interruption from the Category 4 storm. CWC stated that its third-party insurance was expected to cover a significant portion of the hurricane-related losses.
However, in this financial review, CWC pointed out that for The Bahamas and another regional neighbor, mobile subscribers spiked significantly during the holiday period.
"Mobile subscribers grew by 11,000 on an organic basis YTD and by 50,000 QTD as promotions drove increased sales during the holiday period, particularly in Jamaica and The Bahamas," said CWC.
CWC highlighted Jamaica's strong performance in mobile subscriber growth, which marked a total of nearly one million for the first time.
"Jamaica continued its mobile subscriber momentum with particularly strong growth QTD as mobile subscribers rose by 56,000, moving above 900,000 in total for the first time. We posted 21,000 organic RGU additions with growth across our internet and telephony services, driven by improved bundling propositions," said CWC.
CWC continued: "Organic increase (decrease) in RGUs of 2,000 YTD and (20,000) QTD were impacted by an adjustment that we recorded in Q4 to eliminate 30,000 non-paying subscribers from our subscriber counts.
"Internet and telephony subscribers were up 7,000 and 2,000 respectively YTD on an organic basis, as we increased penetration across our high-speed networks and sold more bundled packages, particularly in Jamaica and Trinidad."

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'Serious' long-term planning needed for tourism, says IDB official

February 19, 2017

The Bahamas needs "serious" vision planning for the next 30 years if it is to remain competitive in its tourism sector, especially as the country has maxed out the product it currently offers, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) General Manager Therese Turner-Jones told Guardian Business recently. The country has to pay special attention to climate change and what that will do to the industry, she said.
Turner-Jones, who is the first Bahamian general manager at the IDB and first female general manager of the Caribbean, said 30 years is a short time but insisted that a lot of changes can occur in that time, especially with climate change and sea level rise a real threat to the islands of The Bahamas.
"It's great to have a warm beach, but we have to think about coastal erosion and climate change," she said. "We have to think, 'Will we even have these beaches in 30 years?'"
Turner-Jones said she does not envision tourism ever going away, but insisted The Bahamas' product in its current form might not be sustainable. She added that the experiences of cultural and adventure tourism have to be expanded if The Bahamas is to remain competitive, especially as beaches are lost to inundation due to sea level rise or erosion as a result of climate change.
"Are we building up our sea walls and looking at coastal management," she said.
The IDB general manager said the country could create ways to keep the money tourists spend in the local economy, instead of repatriating it by way of imports.
"There are opportunities to think about what we could be doing more of and how we diversify the economy more," said Turner-Jones.
"There is always room to deepen the integration of tourism as a sector and other parts of the economy. We don't have a whole lot of resources because we're small. We don't have large swathes of land where you can do good agriculture. But there are ways we can lessen the import content of tourism so that more of it (money) stays here."
She said an IDB study found that Bahamian taxpayers are heavily subsidizing the tourism industry. Meantime, much of the money that comes into the country from the industry goes back out to cover imports that keep the tourism sector running.
According to Turner-Jones, The Bahamas also has to improve its productivity levels to keep on par with countries whose tourism sectors hire the best and brightest.

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Post-convention register bounce

February 17, 2017

The inevitability of the next general election is becoming ever more evident.
Not only has there been a significant increase in voter registration since the Progressive Liberal Party's convention late last month, according to Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall, but now that the Constituencies Commission's report has been approved and gazetted, voters' cards are being issued.
Hall said as voter registration continues ahead of the election, the report, which outlines constituency boundaries, makes the work of the Parliamentary Registration Department much easier as officials can now start registering people according to the new constituency maps.
"The Constituencies Commission report was passed in Parliament, as you know, on Wednesday night, which I have a copy in my hand," Hall said in an interview.
"And it is gazetted, I am told, in the newspaper as well.
"So that means, legally, we can commence registering people based on the new 2017 maps.
"We have all those ready and that's what we're doing now, in fact, as we speak."
Hall said people coming to register as of Friday would receive their voter's card immediately.
"Once they provide the right documentation, we can present to them their cards," Hall said.
He also said people who registered on or before February 15 would be able to pick up their voter's cards sometime next week.
"[That's] because we're doing a transition as we speak from the electronic 2012 register to the electronic new 2017 register," he said.
He said there will be a public announcement sometime next week as to when and where people who have not yet picked up their voters' cards can get them.

Uptick

Hall also noted there has been an uptick in voter registration since the Progressive Liberal Party's convention, which was held January 24-27.
He said the number of people the department is registering since the convention at the end of January has doubled.
"Well, let's put it this way, before the convention, we used to take in round about 350 (per day) thereabouts," he said.
"After that, we're taking in 700 to 800 per day.
"You can make your own judgment on that."
Hall said as of Friday, there were just over 111,000 voters registered. There were around 90,000 people registered at the end of January.
The department believes there are around 180,000 eligible voters.
By October 2016, six months before the last general election, there were at least 134,000 people registered.
The government has beefed up efforts to register citizens in light of the lower numbers.
Voter registration will continue until a writ of elections for the next general election is issued.
It is unclear when the next general election will be called, but the House of Assembly must be dissolved, by law, before the end of May.

Challenge still looms

There is currently a challenge on the constitutionality of the boundaries report before the Supreme Court.
Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins and Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn filed the challenge, claiming that the report is invalid because it was not produced within the five-year limit outlined in Article 70(1) of the constitution.
They have asked for a judicial review of the matter.
Justice Ian Winder is expected to give his ruling on Tuesday.
Hall did not comment on the court matter.

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Union: Gibson playing games with officers' careers

February 17, 2017

The method of payment Minister of Labour Shane Gibson is proposing to satisfy customs officers who signed letters asking to be paid outside of their union's bargaining unit, could have dire consequences for their careers, claimed Bahamas Customs Immigration and Allied Workers Union (BCIAWU) President Sloane Smith this week.
Gibson said in the House of Assembly this week, that customs officers who applied to receive funds agreed upon by BCIAWU, will be paid by voucher at the end of the month.
"There after, they will be paid monthly on the payroll," Gibson said.
After receiving a petition signed by over 100 customs officers last week requesting payments, Gibson said that payments were ready, a move BCIAWU President Sloane Smith said was political.
Smith told The Nassau Guardian that customs officers were not fully informed by Gibson on what signing the petition would mean for them.
"As far as what he would have said publicly, some officers signed, but what he didn't tell them is, in order to pay them on their salaries, he would have to give them a salary unto themselves, which means taking them outside of the salary scale, and once he pays them, they will be locked into a situation where they cannot get increments," he said.
"Had he simply paid the entire bargaining unit in accordance to what we agreed, this would not be an issue," he said.
Smith added: "He is also inviting us back to the table, because all those people who signed would be placed outside of the scale and they themselves could not get increments or anything until they create something different for them.
"That is when you plot and you play games with people's lives, he should at least have the decency to explain all of that to them.
"While he thinks it's fun to play games and to get an edge, this union is not interested in the games he's playing.
"People have real life concerns, and now that you've backed these people into a corner with these signatures, people are calling and saying they want to withdraw their letter."
Smith said he does not believe Gibson cares about the workers and their families, who would be the ones "to suffer from the situation at hand".
He added: "We will go to the table, we will take the same document we agreed with them in 2014, that they signed off on, 2016 the financial agreement that he inferred that he's going to pay them according to, which I don't believe, because if he doesn't put that in writing, it does not mean anything to me."
Smith said that he will do all that it takes to look out for the interests of customs and immigration officers.
He said long after Gibson is gone, the union would continue to stand for the people.
He said the union has no interest in the issues of politics and Gibson should do "as we have told him before, stay out of our business".
Acting Treasurer Winifred Linden said, "All the minister needs to do is pay the money.
"Stop using the media houses to get brownie points for the PLP to get some votes
"Just pay the money.
"He is not doing anyone a favor, because this is money owed to the officers".
Gibson previously said, that out of the 559 uniformed customs officers, 517 applied to be paid; and out of the approximate 300 immigration officers, approximately 87 of those applied to be paid.
"He don't need to be quoting stats, and he don't need to be quoting figures, I don't care if it was a hundred percent who signed," Linden said.
"The fact of the matter is, you put these people in a position where they're in need, and then you come around here acting as though you're doing them a favor because you're paying them their money."
Linden insists that the letters be retracted, and that Gibson set a time and date to determine a course of action.

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Tattoo artist accused of sex with minor

February 17, 2017

While noting that most sexual offenses go unreported, a prosecutor yesterday urged a jury to bring justice to a teenage girl who spoke up.
In her closing address in the trial of Jamal Daniels, Koschina Marshall told the jury not to be distracted by suggestions that the victim was "fast', as their only duty was to determine if sexual intercourse occurred with a 14-year-old on September 22, 2014.
Daniels has denied the charge of unlawful sexual intercourse at his trial before Acting Justice Renae McKay.
Marshall said, "The law doesn't say about how she was dressed. She cannot give consent. No 14-year-old can consent to sex. If she's 14, she cannot say I want sex and if you have sex with a 14-year-old, you are guilty according to the laws of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas."
Holding up a photo taken of the victim back in 2014, Marshall said, "Look at her, she doesn't even look 14 - that's a child."
According to the prosecution's case, Daniels lured the girl to his home on Carmichael Road through a fake Facebook profile.
The victim's Facebook 'friend" Quetell suggested that they both get tattoos at a parlor on Carmichael Road.
The victim, now 17, caught the bus to the parlor and as she was on her way, a man who spoke with an American accent called her phone from a private number and asked if she was still coming.
The victim said when she arrived she asked Daniels for Quetell and was told that she was in another room.
The young woman said that Daniels did not complete the tattoo on her stomach and held her down and raped her. Police also photographed the incomplete tattoo.
Marshall told the jury that in the past, your friends were people that you knew, but the victim grew up in the age of social media, "where they believe these people are their friends".
Although the girl did not report the matter immediately, she told a social worker what happened two days later.
Marshall said the victim's hesitation to report the matter was consistent with most cases of sexual abuse, which often go unreported.
Marshall said that there was corroboration of the victim's account as she was able to describe Daniels' bedroom before she was shown photographs that police had taken of the scene, and she directed police to his home.
Marshall said the attacker spoke with an American accent and Daniels told police that he was born in Brooklyn, New York. He also admitted that he was a tattoo artist and police found tattoo and piercing equipment in his home.
Marshall showed he had something to hide when he initially took police to the wrong address on Carmichael Road.
Daniels' lawyer, Allan Emmanuel, told jurors that the girl's claim was not supported by scientific evidence and they should, therefore, acquit him.

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Wells: Failed leadership has led to rise of gangs

February 17, 2017

Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells believes so many young people have become involved in gang culture because leaders in society have not proven to be good role models.
Wells' comments came after Minister of National
Security Bernard Nottage's address in the House of Assembly outlining the prominence of gangs in the country's crime situation.
In his address, Nottage spoke about plans to fight against crime and gang activity in The Bahamas.
Wells, a Free National Movement MP, said that what the government should be concerned about is, "socializing our young people and getting them to feel a part of this country, a part of communities, a part of families, and not a part of gangs".
"We have imported that mentality that took root in North America and transported it here in The Bahamas, whether it came from those who would have lived in the United States and, came back to The Bahamas, or whether it is by simply watching television," he said.
"I believe that it's high time that we once again begin to establish a community mindedness in our young people, and a sense of moral warehouse."
He added that young people need to be taught lessons of self worth, so that they don't have to look for affirmation in gangs and regarding them as 'the be all, and end all of their existence".
He suggested that focusing on the youth will go a long way in dealing with the crime situation in the country.
Between last Friday and Monday, there were seven murders in the capital.
In a press conference on Monday, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade advised that residents should not refrain from going about their normal lives, because the country is not in a crisis.
Shortly after, Prime Minister Perry Christie said, in the same vein, "It is insane. It is reminiscent of the Wild West and it is something we must get control of as quickly as possible".
Wells, in response to the contrasting views of Christie and Greenslade, said, "The confusion is there to see, in the midst of confusion, wickedness always thrives.
"There needs to be a clear cut acceptance by them both as to what will happen moving forward.
"There is an interesting scripture that was said by King Solomon the wise, he said when justice is slow in coming, the heart of the people grow more wicked and, they do more wickedly."
He said that under a Free National Movement government, educational measures will be taken to properly socialize young people.
He added: "We will be working with fathers so that they can, once again, become interested and integrated in the lives of their children.
"Especially their boys, in seeking to raise them, and giving them a sense of role model and not have the 'thug' on the corner be the person they're looking up to."

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21-yr-old charged with murder

February 17, 2017

The man who police believe is responsible for the February 13 murder of Frederick Ferguson has also been charged with possession of an illegal firearm.
Prosecutors allege that Trevor Cooper, 21, of Prince Charles Drive, fatally shot Ferguson outside a night club on West Bay Street around 2.a.m.
Cooper was not required to enter a plea to the murder charge at his appearance before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt.
He was further accused of the possession of a .40 pistol and ammunition.
Cooper did not have to enter a plea to the charges and he returns to court on April 25 when it is expected the case will be fast-tracked to the Supreme Court.

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