Nassau Guardian Stories

Vendors disappointed by lack of progress on Potter's Cay Dock

July 21, 2017

Potter's Cay Dock vendors are disappointed that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) left office without fulfilling its promise of a new Potter's Cay. And they are similarly dismayed that it seems like the new Free National Movement government will not be able to create the space promised to them by the former administration.
But, some vendors are hopeful that when the new government is ready to improve Potter's Cay, they will finally have a say in how the area that is their livelihood will look.
One vendor, who asked to remain anonymous, said some vendors met with the new Minister in charge of the area under the bridge, Renward Wells, who expressed to them a plan he has for the area.
Guardian Business could not reach Wells up to press time. However, the vendor said Wells apprised them of the condition of the country, explaining why the government might not be able to carry through with dock improvements that were planned by the PLP but never executed.
In January, then Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries V. Alfred Gray told Guardian Business that a new plan and budget for Potter's Cay Dock would go to Cabinet and said work could begin within one month, if all goes well.
However, vendors have been waiting in limbo since then to see what the government will do about their stalls. They are still waiting and could wait a bit longer.
One vendor told Guardian Business yesterday that he has already begun rebuilding his stall and could not wait a moment longer for government to decide what it wants to do.
The vendor, Charlie Brown, said he wants to see the government implement more entertainment on the dock. But first and foremost, he said, the vendors need electricity. Most vendors utilize generators to power their stalls.
Since the passage of Hurricane Matthew some Potter's Cay vendors have already spent the money to rebuild their stalls. They said they could not wait on government to shut down their businesses and rebuild -- they had to carry on with making a living.
When Gray was asked in February what vendors should do, he said they should continue to wait on the government to finalize its plans.
"I would tell them that they should just wait until the government announces its final decision before they invest in anything that might have to be taken down," he said.
"It is scheduled to come to Cabinet shortly for final approval and thereafter we should go to tender, and I'm looking forward to starting construction shortly after that."
The original plans for the upgrade of vendor stalls at Potter's Cay had to be taken back to architects to ensure more affordable design and construction.
But vendors want their own feel on Potter's Cay, one told Guardian Business.
"This isn't the old days," he said. "We want our area to look how we want it to look."

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Fresh off of Baha Mar tour, PM slated to tour Atlantis

July 21, 2017

Only one week after touring Baha Mar, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis is slated to tour Atlantis and is likely to witness its upgrades, improvements and soon-to-come features.
Atlantis has been hard at work in recent months pushing its campaign to highlight Bahamian artists and entrepreneurs. The resort's occupancy rate is around 95 percent at the moment.
The resort recently implemented a bi-monthly art walk at its Marina Village area; several spaces inside its lobby and outside on its pool deck house Bahamian treats and confections.
Guardian Business understands one of those vendors is fresh fruit popsicle company PopStop.
Several authentically Bahamian restaurants are slated to open at Marina Village soon. This paper understands that one of those restaurants is Frankie Gone Bananas as well as a vendor from Potter's Cay Dock.
According to a recent press release by The Cove, the resort's adult pool, Cain, has undergone renovations to accommodate restaurant Sip Sip and another restaurant option. The release revealed that Atlantis undertook the upgrades in hopes of recreating the feel of Sip Sip's barefoot appeal.
"When conceptualizing our new 'Come to Life' vision, with the intention of supporting and bringing out the authentic Bahamian culture, we sought out Chef Julie to instill the spirit of the surrounding Family Islands to our resort in Paradise Island," said Howard C. Karawan, president and managing director of The Cove and Atlantis.

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No signs of improvement on Grand Bahama, says AML CEO

July 21, 2017

CEO of AML Gavin Watchorn said there are "no signs of improvement" regarding the economic state of Grand Bahama, but pointed out that the reopening of the Grand Lucayan strip would help to boost business activity on that island.
Speaking with Guardian Business yesterday, Watchorn said most of AML's businesses in Freeport "are producing positive sales". However, he paints a different picture for businesses in general on that island.
"People have had concerns about business in Freeport for many years," he said.
"There are no signs up there as a businessperson that tells that things are getting better.
"I have been involved in business in Freeport for 15 years now, and it has been forever a situation of it's about to turn and it hasn't. Something needs to happen. There are no signs of improvement."
Watchorn also lauded the expected revival of the Grand Lucayan strip, which remains closed to date since the passage of Hurricane Matthew. The prospective buyer for the property is Canadian real estate development firm Wynn Group.
"When the hotel is opened, every business in Freeport will benefit. Taxi drivers will now have more money, hair braiders and straw vendors are going to have more money and they are going to spend that money," he said.
Watchorn opined that once consumers in The Bahamas have additional purchasing power, it would no longer limit them from buying extra goods or services.
"I am always of the opinion, and I have been for a long time, that our economy is maybe a lot smaller than what we want to believe and a dollar that I pay my staff is spent in ten different stores within a week," he said.
"While everybody needs to eat, if you have $20 in your pocket going into a grocery store, you are limited to what you can get." But with $60 in pocket, he noted that a consumer could purchase more items.

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RBC making changes to fee, service charges

July 21, 2017

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Bahamas will be making changes to its fee and service charges for certain banking services effective August 28, 2017.
The bank pinned the changes as a move to remain competitive in the local banking market.
"We assure that our pricing remains competitive in the local market as we are committed to delivering value and excellent service to our clients," an RBC sign stated.
The Canadian-owned institution also made changes to its fee and service charges just last year in September.
The latest fee schedule was dated May 2017 on the bank's website.
The fee schedule, made effective for August, was posted on the bank's website on Wednesday.
Guardian Business contacted RBC for additional information on the fee changes, but was not successful up to press time.
The move to modify certain fee charges also comes just months after the bank announced its plans to close four branches.
RBC closed its locations at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in Nassau, Treasure Cay, Bimini and Spanish Wells.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell previously said the closure of RBC on Bimini and Spanish Wells would have a "devastating" impact on these communities.
The proposed fee schedule notes that there will be a 75 cents fee change for paper bank statements but e-statements are free. This will be implemented on August 18, 2017.
The price for interim/duplicate statements are $5 on the August schedule, but stood at $15 on the May schedule.
In addition, the document shows a $15 decrease for stop payments for local checks and a $10 dollar decrease for foreign checks.
Also, there was a decrease in prices for RBC Rewards Visa Platinum card services for the applicant and co-applicant, marking a decline of $25 and $15 respectively.
For personal banking accounts, changes were apparently not made for day-to-day banking services, meaning that the monthly fee of $12 remains in place. Check and in-branch transactions for RBC customers remain at $2.50.
The schedule also showed that savings account services for daily operations carried a $5 monthly fee and in-branch transactions are $2.50.
The fees mentioned above are not inclusive of value-added tax (VAT).

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Financial literacy project on the cards for Central Bank

July 21, 2017

The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) announced yesterday its plan to execute a program on financial literacy in The Bahamas.
The regulator put out a request for proposals to qualified firms to participate in designing the program. The deadline for submission of proposals is August 15.
"To be considered, firms must demonstrate a clear understanding of The Bahamas' domestic policy circumstances," the regulator stated.
"They must also have an established track record in developing communications on complex subject matter in ways that are clear, accessible and actionable for lay audiences."
CBOB said the targeted outcomes of the project are to make financial services more accessible though "safe, cost effective channels", ensure consumers are better able to conduct affairs in a prudent fashion, and ensure consumers are equipped to act in their best financial interest.
"According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), though more individuals worldwide have access to basic financial products, consumers have shown limited understanding of such products and concepts," the regulator cited.
"They are also challenged when making informed, long-term financial decisions and choosing products that match their needs.
"This undermines financial well-being and inhibits the responsible behavior that supports the longer-term stability of financial systems and economies.
"In addition, ill-informed households make less sound decisions on savings and borrowing, and are less equipped to protect themselves against fraud and financial abuse.
"Policymakers have therefore shifted their focus to financial education programs that improve financial literacy."
The regulator noted that the literacy campaign's audience is intended to be school-aged children, young adults, prospective home buyers, homeowners, pre-retirees and retirees.

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BTC to launch new Bahamian app

July 21, 2017

Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) continues to make meaningful investments in the community. The company is now working along with Bahamian app developer Stephen Brown to create a game just for BTC.
Vice President for Mobile, Alphanique Duncombe said, "We've used this opportunity to team up with local talent in the development of this app. We wanted to create a truly Bahamian experience while showcasing how talented our people can be."
The "BTC Starmaker" app resembles market heavy hitters Snapchat and Instagram, according to app developer Stephen Brown. Brown has been in the information technology arena for the past five years. After starting his craft as a hobby, he opened CSB Tech Emporium where they recently started to offer mobile app development services in 2015. He said, "I took the entrepreneurial route, opened my own company, and presented my ideas to various parties. I met with BTC in 2016, where we began to collaborate on different projects."
The telecommunications firm remains committed to nation building through the investment in youth. Brown has also helped to develop the "BTC Rush" game which is now in BTC stores. He said the BTC Starmaker app will feature Bahamian-themed filters like the police hat, a conch shell and a Junkanoo head piece. Users will also be able to play and lip sync Bahamian music on the app.
Brown added, "I was very elated about the idea of collaborating with BTC. I was happy that they were able to see the value behind my work, and I'm happy to partner with them to create quality products."
The product will be the first of its kind in the Bahamian market, and will be available to both Android and iOS users free of charge. BTC remains committed to providing top notch products and services to keep Bahamians connected one filter at a time.

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Smith still in custody

July 21, 2017

The delayed arraignment of former Senator and MP Frank Smith was yesterday described by his lawyer as a "thinly veiled attempt" to prevent him from getting bail.
Smith was scheduled to be arraigned on charges of extortion and bribery, charges for which the magistrate lacks jurisdiction to grant bail, but the matter has been deferred to 11 a.m. today as the files were not ready.
Head of the newly-formed Anti-Corruption Unit of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Assistant Commissioner Paul Rolle, announced that Smith was set to be arraigned on charges of bribery and extortion, an hour before the suspect arrived in a two-car convoy at 2:25 p.m.
Smith's hands were cuffed behind his back as officers led him from the Nassau Street Police Station to the Magistrates' Court complex.
Minutes after Smith was brought into court, Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt asked to see defense lawyer Damian Gomez, QC, and the prosecutor, Sergeant Timmy Saunders, in her chambers.
They did not return to the courtroom until 3:29 p.m. During the wait, Smith's father-in-law, Sir Franklyn Wilson, and his brother-in-law, Frannon Wilson, sat next to Smith on the suspect's bench, engaging him in conversation.
Smith's wife, Sharlyn, and other relatives were also present in court.
Ferguson-Pratt said, "I wanted to see a docket, and I called for the Crown and prosecution in my chambers."
Saunders, the prosecutor, said that after making checks he was advised that the file was not "fully prepared" and should be ready about "midday for arraignment".
Gomez said that Smith had been in custody since 10 a.m. on Wednesday. He said he was amazed that the file was not ready as he was advised about the arraignment at 1:27 p.m.
He said, "This is nothing less than a veiled attempt to prevent me from applying for bail in the Supreme Court."
The magistrate said she hoped that the file would be ready by 11 a.m. at the latest, despite the prosecutor previously stating that it would not be prepared until noon.
Before adjourning, the magistrate asked Smith if he had eaten his lunch.
He replied, "Not yet your honor."
As is customary in her court, Ferguson-Pratt told his family that they could get him some food.

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Collie: Dion Smith pretending to be a victim

July 21, 2017

Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Sidney Collie said yesterday former Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) Chairman Dion Smith is "pretending to be a victim" following comments that he is "afraid" of what the Minnis administration will do next, now that the theft probe that led to Smith's arrest found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Smith said he believes the government is trying to "destroy" the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, Collie said that as a senior lawyer and the former member of Parliament for Nassau Village, Smith "ought to know better".
"Dion knows what the due process is in the courts, in the Office of the Attorney General and [with the] commissioner of police," Collie said.
"He knows what each of those areas of government's responsibilities are.
"And there is no need for him to alarm the public by insinuating that the government is after him or after anyone, without cause.
"...If the commissioner of police is acting on information received, and asked him to come in and answer some questions, this is what happens in the course of thousands of Bahamians' lives every day.
"They are asked to come in.
"Many of them are arrested and taken in to answer questions.
"And the reason for that is the police may have certain leads, may have certain information, they need to ask certain questions in order to satisfy themselves that no crime has been committed.
"If no crime has been committed, Dion Smith need not fear."
Police had said they were investigating a report of theft of electronic items on the night of the May 10 general election.
Smith was arrested, held overnight and released the next day.
Eight BAIC employees were also questioned and released.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle said last week that, "The stuff removed was apparently his (Smith's). Persons thought different. We found out it is not so; so in relation to this there was no evidence of any wrongdoing."
Collie charged yesterday that Smith's comments are nothing but "political pandering, designed to give the impression that this government, just like the Leader of his party (Philip Brave Davis) said, is on a witch hunt".
"Nothing could be further from the truth," he insisted.
"The government came into office, discovered a number of things...so it started some investigations.
"In the course of the investigations, BAIC came on the radar. That is what happened.
"Nothing less. Nothing more. I think Dion Smith is crying foul for selfish political reasons.
"He is pretending to be a victim, but he is not."
When asked about Smith's assertions that the government is trying to destroy the PLP, Collie insisted the FNM has no intention of destroying the PLP.
"The FNM loves and thrives on democracy," he added.
"We do not want a one-party state. We are not trying to destroy the PLP.
"But we came in on a mandate, a very clear mandate.
"And one of our promises, at the top of the list, is to clean up corruption.
"And nothing Dion Smith or anybody else says is going to derail us from that.
"The government is going to flush out corruption wherever it exists and clean up this Bahamas.
"It's as simple as that.
"We are not on a witch hunt. We are not out to destroy any political party.
"I saw some other public personalities being amazed with the work of the government.
"Well, they all need to relax. The government is only doing what it said it was going to do."

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'Witch hunt' rhetoric 'absurd'

July 21, 2017

While drilling in the message that there is no political witch hunt underway, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) will continue to do its job and when it finds evidence of wrongdoing no one "is above the law".
"This whole question about a witch hunt is absurd," Dames told the media. "It's ridiculous.
"The police investigate and if there is evidence of wrongdoing persons are held responsible.
"If there is no evidence of wrongdoing they are freed, right?
"There are safety valves..."
He added, "No one is above the law and there should not be a daily debate as to whether we're on a witch hunt or taking advantage of someone.
"When we are elected to office we are elected to serve.
"And if we are serving upright, then we should have no concerns."
Dames did not name anyone, but it was a clear reference to the recent arrests of several former senior public officials.
Former Senator and Chairman of the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) Frank Smith was scheduled to be arraigned on charges of extortion and bribery yesterday.
The arraignment is expected to take place at 11 a.m. today as the files were not ready.
Last Friday, former Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett was remanded to prison after being charged with bribery, extortion and misconduct in public office.
He faces nine charges related to allegations that he received $120,000 from Johnathan Ash, who had a government contract at the New Providence Landfill.
Nearly two months ago, former Nassau Village MP Dion Smith, the former executive chairman of BAIC, was arrested in relation to a theft probe at the corporation.
He was released without charge the day after the arrest.
Seven BAIC employees who were arrested were also released.
When asked whether complaints concerning former government members and civil servants are being given top priority, Dames said complaints are being reviewed and addressed systematically, and each is given priority.
"Whenever a complaint is made, the police have the responsibility to investigate the matter," he said.
"If it is found at the end of the day that persons are culpable then they face the law.
"...Young men are being arrested in communities on a daily basis.
"Who is out there defending them and standing up for them, and making big news stories out of that?
"You walk down to the courts now, see the amount of young men that are going before magistrates.
"Do we have people out there crying, saying there is a witch hunt when a young man is arrested for a joint or stealing something from a food store?"
Dames said there is a problem in The Bahamas and it must be fixed.
Asked whether Scotland Yard of the United Kingdom has been requested to come in and assist with certain probes, the minister said the government does not need Scotland Yard as "we have competent investigators in this country".

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Roberts: 'Rise up' against evil of the FNM

July 21, 2017

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts last night called on party supporters to "rise up and challenge" the Minnis administration and take to the "streets, march and demonstrate".
"I am a strong supporter of law and order but strongly feel that if the witch hunt is not discontinued that we, the supporters of our great party, must rise up and register our disgust," he told supporters at a National General Council meeting.
"We must take to the streets, march and demonstrate. We must engage in a letter writing campaign not only to the local newspaper editors, but to the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights.
"Political activism is the most potent form of opposition to bring about change and put a stop to evil."
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has said that his government is not engaged in a witch hunt.
"We don't witch hunt," he said earlier this week.
Minnis said his government is simply fulfilling one of the Free National Movement's (FNM) main campaign promises to push "accountability and transparency" in The Bahamas.
Roberts' comments were made in light of the recent arrest of former PLP Senator and former Chairman of the Public Hospitals Authority Frank Smith.
Roberts said he was "deeply saddened and extremely concerned" about the current political 'witch hunts'.
"This is our Bahamas, where we must treat each other with respect and must avoid rushing to judgement like the plague," Roberts said.
Roberts also blasted the Minnis administration's lack of initiatives and charged that "life has gotten measurably worse for many Bahamians under the FNM", which has been in power since May 10.
"To date, the only bright spots in this country are the results of the hard work and heavy lifting of the PLP government," Roberts said.
"The pending sale of the three hotel complex in Freeport to the Canadian Steve Wynn investment group; the Commonwealth Youth Games; and good paying jobs and apprenticeship program at the Grand Bahama Shipyard are just three of the positive and bright spots in what, to date, has been cases of political victimization, gloom, doom, a number of poor decisions, walk backs and climb downs from a visionless and rudderless government.
"The FNM government must get to work post haste on behalf of the Bahamian people, because they deserve better."

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Halkitis met with police

July 21, 2017

Attorney Damian Gomez said yesterday that former Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis met with police on Monday to discuss a technical matter.
"The police told me categorically that they do not regard him as a person of interest at all," Gomez said when called for comment.
Gomez, Halkitis' lawyer, said contrary to reports, the meeting did not take place at the Central Detective Unit (CDU).
"The police wanted information about a signature," Gomez said.
"The signature was a directive of Cabinet. It was clear that it was directed by Cabinet. He answered their questions and left. It was literally a three-minute meeting."
Gomez said Halkitis has "nothing to hide".
Last week, Halkitis shared on his Facebook page that, "There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience".
Halkitis did not indicate what the post was in relation to.
It was posted around the same time that his former Cabinet colleague, Kenred Dorsett, was charged with four counts of extortion, four counts of bribery and one count of misconduct in public office.
Dorsett has denied the charges.
Halkitis' post also came amid ongoing public discussion over a downgrade threat from the international credit rating agency Moody's.
The announcement by Moody's renewed debate about the Christie administration's management of public finances.
The revelation by Moody's that it has put The Bahamas' rating on review came several weeks after the new minister of finance, Peter Turnquest, told Parliament that the fiscal situation is much worse than the FNM had anticipated, and that the new government met the cupboard bare.

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Dames: Short-term crime strategies yielding results

July 21, 2017

It would be "absurd" for anyone to believe there will be a significant reduction in crime in the country overnight, but the government's short-term strategies have already begun to yield some results, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday.
Dames, who spoke with reporters at Police Headquarters, said his ministry and the relevant law enforcement agencies are dealing with the deep-rooted issues that lead to criminality, and as part of a multi-pronged approach, long-term measures will take time to produce the desired result - a reduction in crime.
Dames insisted there is a significant amount of work to be done before that happens.
"These are social issues; these are deep-rooted issues, issues that have been manifesting themselves over the years," he said.
"...We feel confident that with the strategies and the policies that we are proposing as a government that we expect to see a reduction in numbers as we move forward."
Speaking to some of the short-term strategies, Dames said, "We talk about the increased visibility, but also using the existing technologies that are currently at their (law enforcement's) disposal to direct them in their crime fighting initiatives.
"And, that is exactly what they are doing.
"But, recognize now that the issues that we see have not manifested overnight.
"These are, I said before, deep-rooted issues and we have to introduce measures in the short term, as well as the medium and long term."
Referring to the Free National Movement's (FNM) crime platform, Dames pointed out that legislation will be created for a National Intelligence Agency (NIA), which he called an important component in the fight against crime.
He maintained that the NIA launched by the Christie administration did not serve the purpose it was proposed to.
The former administration's now defunct NIA operated for five years without legislation to govern it.
In the interim - before legislation and strategies are introduced - visibility and presence, particularly on New Providence will be executed at a high level, according to the minister.
There has been a spate of murders since the weekend.
The murder count stands at 77, representing a 22 percent increase in murders.
There were 63 murders this time last year.
When asked about the overall trend of crime in The Bahamas, Dames said he could not provide those statistics offhand, but intends to present statistics to the public on the state of crime in the country in the near future.
He did not commit to a date, but insisted the government will be transparent with the public.
Additionally, Dames indicated that the ministry will review the way the police force records crime and collates statistics to ensure it is a true representation of crime in the country.
He said this will be part of a greater effort to implement performance-based goals in specific categories of crime.

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2,000 e-passports ready

July 21, 2017

Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield yesterday said nearly 2,000 e-passports are ready for collection by members of the public at the Anatol Rodger's gymnasium which is temporarily serving as New Providence's Passport Office Issuance Center.
During a tour of the center yesterday morning, Henfield said, "During July through August, 2016, 3,664 e-passports were successfully issued for the referred period to the Bahamian populace.
"Similarly, during the year 2017, it was discovered that in spite of every effort by passport staff to prompt recent e-passport applicants to retrieve their ready documents from our Thompson Boulevard/University Boulevard location, an excess of 3,269 ready e-passports remained at the Passport Office in New Providence awaiting collection by members of the public.
"Keeping in mind that the summer of 2017 is once again upon us and after exhausting every effort to encourage persons to collect their ready documents, the government decided to once again initiate the Anatol Rodger's gymnasium issuance centre on 3rd July, 2017 for the sole purpose of issuing new e-passports to our citizens, in an environment conducive to and spacious for that purpose.
"To date, we have successfully issued 1,516 e-passports since opening our doors over the past two weeks.
"We anticipate operating at this location throughout the month of July and quite possibly into August, 2017.
"This decision will be based on customer/citizen response. The public will be informed accordingly."
Officials at the department said they have alerted the public that their passports are ready via the media.
Pickup dates are also on customers' receipts.
The minister said his ministry is considering electronic updates via the Internet in the future.

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Murder suspect arraigned

July 21, 2017

A man accused of a murder that occurred this week made his initial appearance in court today.
Diano Nixon, of Ridgeland Park, was charged before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt with the July 16 shooting death of Kalif Adderley.
Adderley was shot while walking on Robinson Road.
Nixon was not required to enter a plea and was remanded into custody.
He makes his next court appearance on September 5.
At that time, the matter is expected to be transferred to the Supreme Court.

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Officials meet to discuss prevalence of drug use among persons 12-65

July 21, 2017

Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said the dissemination meeting for the Bahamas National Drug Assessments presents health and law enforcement officials with an opportunity to learn new knowledge generated by research on alcohol, tobacco, illegal drug use and their related factors, such as perceived risk and drug treatment in The Bahamas.
Officials discussed the results of The Bahamas' National Household Drug Prevalence Survey 2017 during the meeting at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre, Thursday, July 20.
The primary goal of the survey was to estimate the prevalence of the use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine and other drugs among persons 12-65 years in The Bahamas. Perceived drug use, consequences of using drugs and treatment were also incorporated.
Dr. Sands explained why there is a focus on drug use during this time in the government's health agenda, stating that over 30 years ago, two notable Bahamian mental health clinicians, Dr. Nelson Clarke and Dr. Mike Neville, in a scientific paper published in the Bulletin of the Royal College of Psychiatrists chronicled what, at that time, was an unknown drug called 'cocaine' in The Bahamas.
He said that paper outlined that cocaine dependence had increased due to the high amounts that were available at low prices. Around the same period, there was also a simultaneous increase in drug trafficking, not only for transshipment but critically and tragically for local consumption.
"That collision and perfect storm of supply and demand, and the decisions not made, define what has arguably become the single most important influence on the welfare and quality of life of Bahamians ever."
Dr. Sands said by 1984, over 500 new cases of cocaine, including poly drug abuse, were seen at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre and the Community Mental Health Clinic (commonly known as Knowles House).
"During that inauspicious era, alcohol and marijuana were also popular drugs of choice. In response to this epidemic, which was actually an unfolding Bahamian disaster, a national household drug survey was conducted in 1991."
He said, "It revealed that alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and cocaine were the most common drugs ever used by those respondents. So not surprisingly, 20 years later, school surveys conducted showed alcohol and marijuana use was present among high school students in grades 8, 10 and 12.
"In this population there were slight increases in lifetime and past-month alcohol use between 2002 and 2011; marijuana use also increased between 2008 and 2011; however, cocaine use was not common."
He said drug abuse and trafficking has permanently scarred both The Bahamas and the United States.
"But our response, however, has not achieved the desired impact in any meaningful way and we must constantly examine our strategies to make sure they accomplish the intended goals, as opposed to simply defining and funding activities, and generating statistics that are costly and potentially ineffective and potentially misdirected."
He said the new knowledge and research presented from the Bahamas National Household Drug Prevalence Survey 2017 will help shape effective and appropriate public policy in the fight against drug abuse, by providing new research and knowledge.
The health minister said, "We must remain focused on the benefits of a reduction in the prevalence of drug abuse, and such a goal, while neither simple nor easy, is indeed achievable. Despite all of the noise in the international and local marketplace, I believe it is worth every effort that we exert to gain improvements."
He added that studies have shown that children and adolescents who refrain from trying drugs are less likely to use them during adulthood. "Therefore, we must find ways to encourage young people to delay their first use."
"It is my hope that our collective vision for a better Bahamas will include having drug-free communities where residents are well-educated on the dangers of drug use, and where our young people will reject the pressure to start engaging in substance use," Dr. Sands said.

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Smith to remain in police custody

July 20, 2017

Former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Senator and Chairman of the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) Frank Smith will spend another night in police custody after police revealed in court today at an arraignment that his file was not ready.
Smith was transported to the magistrate's court in handcuffs.
Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt met in chambers with Smith's attorney, Damian Gomez, QC, and police prosecutor Sergeant Timmy Saunders for nearly 30 minutes.
When she took the bench, Ferguson-Pratt said, "I wanted to see the docket and I called both the prosecution and the defense to see me in chambers."
Ferguson-Pratt said she was informed that Smith's file was not ready.
Saunders said he was instructed that the file "was not fully prepared to be presented today".
"We will be ready with that file in the morning," he said.
Gomez said he was "amazed" the file was not ready.
"I am amazed that the police told me at 1:30 p.m. to be ready to head to court at 2 p.m.," he said.
He added, "This is a less than veiled attempt to prevent a bail application. I would have thought that the file would be ready."
Saunders said he would "endeavor to have the file at court at 11 a.m." on Friday.
Ferguson-Pratt said she "expects the suspect to be before me at 11 a.m.".
Ferguson-Pratt then inquired of Smith whether he had had lunch for the day.
"Not yet, your worship," Smith said.
Ferguson-Pratt asked, "Did you have breakfast?"
"Yes," Smith replied.
Ferguson-Pratt then instructed Smith's relatives to get him lunch before his transfer to a police station.
Ferguson-Pratt asked if there were any other matters Gomez or Saunders wished to raise.
"Is there any possibility of police bail?" Gomez asked.
Ferguson-Pratt said, "It's not before me."
Saunders added, "He was in custody since 11 a.m. yesterday so we have until 10 a.m. tomorrow."
Smith's wife, Sharlyn Smith, father-in-law, Sir Franklyn Wilson, mother-in-law, Lady Sharon Wilson, and other relatives were present in court.

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You're really rich

July 20, 2017

Now D. Paul, with the title of today's article, you're really rich, I just know you're not addressing your remarks to me, because I live in the poorer part of town with a single mother and we have great difficulty just making ends meet each week. Yes I'm poor, real poor, so your title quite definitely does not apply to me and my family.
Now I'm sorry to correct you, but I have to in order to educate you about the truth, the real truth about you. As today's title simply puts it, you're really rich -- yes you are. You're rich in unique and special talents that the Creator imbued you with at birth. Yes indeed, you're just like any other God-created child, got a whole lot of talents, which when discovered and fully developed will take you to anywhere you want to go -- to the top of the mountain, the summit of success.
Yes indeed, I don't care where you were born or where you presently live, you are rich in natural resources, which when you develop to their fullest and work real hard will take you anywhere you want to go. Just because you were born into ghetto-like conditions does not mean that you have to stay there for the rest of your life. You just need to reprogram yourself and start to develop your God-given talents and, believe me, you'll be extremely rich.
Yes my friend, if you get nothing else into your head today, please understand that as today's short title correctly puts it, you're really rich -- yes you are, for you have within you the makings of something really special. So get to work, believe in yourself, develop and refine your God-given talents and you will be rich. I guarantee it.

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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Your assignment: the restoration of relations between God and man

July 20, 2017

As we follow the words of Jesus and subsequently the words of the apostles, it becomes clear that we have been given as a part of our diplomatic assignment, the restoration of relations between God and man. God and sinners reconciled. This is a wonderful assignment, because reconciliations are normally cause for celebration and in this case the Bible actually tells us that there is celebration in heaven every time a sinner (one who is separated from God) is reconciled. In fact, the Bible says that the angels rejoice and heaven rejoices whenever this reconciliation takes place.
We are good news ambassadors with an assignment and mission to reunite mankind to its source. This mandate is clear as evidenced by the words of the scripture in 2 Corinthians 5. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
When we look further at the words of Jesus we see that He backs up the assertion that we are ambassadors because He gave us specific representation assignments. He stated Himself, and through the Apostle Paul, that we have an assignment. He said to His followers, His disciples, His ambassadors, "go into all the world and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God." The word gospel means good news, so He designated us as purveyors of good news, but not just any good news, the good news of the Kingdom of God; the good news of reconciliation. The good news of a new birth not based upon physical dynamics. There were many good news options, but He was very specific in saying the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. He expected each of us to act as diplomats communicating this specific message from His government. He clearly stated that He had His own government that superseded the existing power structure of earth. He further stated that those who accepted and submitted to His government would be reconciled to God, and those who chose not to believe would remain separated or un-reconciled.
Looking at it from a diplomatic perspective, when He said to the disciples to go into all the world, it was actually a commissioning ceremony. For the previous three years He had been training them for this powerful assignment. When it was time for Him to depart He called, appointed and anointed (gave credentials to) His followers to represent the King of kings on earth. It is hard for the finite mind to conceive that God would come among men, demonstrate what life was supposed to be like originally, show off the attributes of God in a human body and then assign His specially trained diplomats the mission of communicating this wonderful truth to the world. This is truly an awesome concept, that ordinary men would be selected, chosen to represent the King on earth with a mission of communicating the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom and acting as agents of reconciliation. This may sound crazy, but if you examine the words of Jesus this is exactly what He said and this is exactly what the apostle Paul said.
Each of us has a choice in terms of what we do with His message. I choose to believe and have accepted my role as a good news ambassador, a Kingdom ambassador, a credentialed diplomat. I have accepted my identity and my assignment. This is important because it speaks to understanding your identity. Many Christians I have encountered over the years have no idea who they really are. Jesus commissioned us ambassadors, but we act like refugees.
Now that we have established who you are as a Kingdom citizen your outlook should change, your attitude should change and your behavior should change. Your identity is not a bottom of the barrel, end of the line person who is just content to have the privilege of survival. You are an official emissary who has the full backing of your government and you have a very clear assignment.
This is why Jesus states in the book of Matthew 5:14 -- "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." We are legal representatives who illuminate the attributes of our Kingdom, causing men to be drawn to our King and Kingdom. Until we die we are here to represent the Most High. We represent the values, morals and principles of our government (Kingdom) even in environments that do not share the same values.

o Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to pastordaveburrows@hotmail.com. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.

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