Nassau Guardian Stories

There is no 'other'

January 20, 2017

It was painfully disheartening to read about Jimmy Palacious' shameful pronouncement that black people "breed too much". It was all too reminiscent of Richard Lightbourn's equally disrespectful and demeaning comments, demonstrating a total lack of empathy and understanding of a system of miseducation and oppression that continues to keep our communities disempowered.
Instead of disassociating ourselves from the social problems we see in society and casting blame on others, often times the most vulnerable, we need to examine the systems of which we are all a part of and advocate for fundamental change to these systems.
It must begin with empathy, and an understanding that "but for the grace of God". Empathy is "the experiencing of another person's condition from their perspective", placing yourself in their shoes and feeling what they feel.
When we experience ourselves as separate, we suffer "a kind of optional delusion of consciousness". It is a metaphorical prison that confines us "to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons" nearest to us. This is a lesson on the universe from Einstein: "Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
It is easy to condemn, belittle or demean others, especially when you lack empathy or respect. It takes more courage and thoughtfulness to cast judgment on a system that robs our communities of structure and support; a system that offers only contempt in the form of negative messages; a system that breeds impoverishment, inequality and hopelessness.
When it comes specifically to women, it seems as though we can't get a break in this country when our very humanity is constantly under attack. It is exhausting as a Bahamian woman keeping up with all of the narrow-mindedness, misogyny and self-loathing that is constantly on public display: questions about how we should act; who we should serve; who we should marry; what our citizenship means; how we should or should not "breed"; what the meaning of our womanhood is; how we should dress; how we should dance; what is proper; who we are. These questions always seem to challenge and undermine our sense of dignity, our personal autonomy and equal treatment.
The lack of empathy in our society for these injustices is a national disgrace; in this respect the struggle for gender equality, racial equality, social and economic justice should be equally understood.
When it comes to issues of sexual health, our hypocrisy is scandalous; and don't think for a minute it is going unseen by our children. The only script we give them is "no sex until marriage". And yet, the message they actually receive could not be further removed. This is a failed campaign because adults, who are influencing the young people, are proving this script to be false. Added to this, we teach our girls and women the harmful script that women do not have ownership of, or power over, their own bodies.
As advocates we have been pushing to change this for years. One way is with comprehensive sexual health education that would teach children, age appropriately, from primary to tertiary level, about healthy relationships and the full gamut of sexual and reproductive health. If Jimmy Palacious was serious, he would have words for the Ministry of Education, for the church and for other institutions of society (of which parenting is one) about their failure to provide proper support and guidance to our children, to empower them with knowledge and discernment.
In order to manifest change and to create wellness in our society, strong and relevant systems have to be a part of the new way forward.
Education, positive reinforcement, comprehensive sexual health education, skills training, ethics training, self-confidence building, community development, self-love: All of these tools need to be imparted for the self-development process.
If only we could all set an intention to abandon judgment and to embrace empathy and love to move our country forward. Maybe we could get to real solutions instead of degrading grandstanding.

o Donna Nicolls is a women's rights advocate and co-founder of Bahamas Women's Watch. Bahamas Women's Watch (BWW) is a non-profit organization promoting women's rights. BWW intends to broaden the understanding of local and global women's issues. BWW endeavors to enlighten and empower our communities in The Bahamas in order to strengthen the rights of women and to protect the interests and concerns of women and their families to achieve their highest living potential.

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Noble Prep wins tourney in Canada

January 20, 2017

The Noble Preparatory Academy (NPA) Spartans recently returned from their annual educational tour in Canada, and while there, they competed in the 22nd Annual Carl Dorland Basketball Classic. The classic is held at Ridley College in St. Catherine's, Ontario, Canada.
For the second year in a row, the Spartans emerged as tournament champions, dropping just one game along the way. In the opener, they lost 64-50 to the Eden School, but quickly bounced back to take a 62-58 win over Dundas Valley.
In the semifinal game, the Spartans cruised to a 69-48 win over the York School. Jarad Richardson led the way for the team in that game, with 14 points, and Keito Robinson chipped in with 13. In the championship game, Noble Prep scored a 58-53 win over St. Catherine's. Stephone Augustin and Robinson both finished that game with 18 points.
The purpose of Noble Prep's annual trip is to expose its student athletes to several of its partner institutions in North America.
"The tour gives them (players) an opportunity to get exposure from these schools, but most importantly they are academically sound," said Bullard. "I know this team can play - they can compete with anybody in the country. I know the level they are at in terms of basketball. This is why we have decided not to just focus on making all our attempts locally but looking ahead for the betterment of the students.
"These schools know that when they get one of our players, or anyone associated with us, they are getting sound, solid young men with their priorities in the right place. I always preach the importance of building these guys up as total packages. Too often we overlook that these are student-athletes, students first and then athletes."
Noble Prep has had a number of its students continue their basketball careers in Canada at its partner schools.
Last season, former NPA players Shamar Burrows and Livingston Bromwell led the Ridley Tigers to their first provincial title in school history when they won the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) Class A boys basketball championship. The Tigers qualified for the OFSAA tournament after an impressive season in which they finished with the silver medal in the CISAA (Conference of Independent Schools Athletics Association) final.
Earlier in the season, the pair led the Tigers to the Upper Canada College Invitational Tournament title.
At the collegiate level last season, a trio of former NPA players (Marako Lundy, Delroy Grandison and Tenero Ferguson) led the Niagara Knights to the second round of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) playoffs.
Noble Prep currently has three alumni on the Knights 2016-17 roster - Van Hutchinson Jr., Kevin Cooper and Jordan Wilson.

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Hutchinson named OCAA Male Athlete of the Week

January 20, 2017

Bahamian collegiate basketball player Van Hutchinson Jr. was recently named as the Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) Male Athlete of the Week for his performances in Niagara College's first two games of the 2017 portion of the season on Monday and Wednesday.
In the Knights' opener against the Mohawk Mountaineers, the reigning OCAA silver medalists, Hutchinson scored 22 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished out six assists and recorded four steals, helping his team secure a 128-109 win.
"Van played an outstanding, full, and well-rounded game against Mohawk," Head Coach Keith Vassell said of Hutchinson's play. "I think Van brings toughness and grittiness to our team. He's an all-around player who can score."
The 128-point showing in the win is the second most in the history of the men's basketball program.
Hutchinson followed up that performance with a 13-point, 11-rebound effort on Wednesday in a 94-76 win over Redeemer College. The 6-foot-4 guard also handed out six assists in the win. Hutchinson is currently averaging team highs in both points (14.6 per game) and rebounds (8.8 per game).
The Niagara are sitting in second in the West Region with an 8-1 win/loss record, and are ranked third provincially and fifth nationally.
The Knights will be in action again on Wednesday when they take on Humber on the road. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.
In their last game against Humber, Hutchinson and the Knights got a 71-66 win. That game was played on November 26. Hutchinson struggled in that game, shooting just 2-for-14 from the field. Now, he's looking to help the Knights position themselves to make a playoff run in a few weeks.
Prior to his time at Niagara, Hutchinson played for Northern Oklahoma College. As a sophomore, he averaged 4.2 points and four rebounds per game.
Fellow Bahamians Kevin Cooper and Jordan Wilson are also having solid seasons for the Knights. Against Mohawk, Cooper scored 17 points, and Wilson chipped in with 12. Against Redeemer, Wilson had 10 and Cooper added four.
Wilson is currently averaging 7.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, while Cooper is averaging 4.5 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.

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World No. 2 Jutanugarn, defending champ Hyo Joo Kim to compete in Pure Silk classic

January 20, 2017

Ariya Jutanugarn, the No. 2 player in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, and Hyo Joo Kim, the defending champion, headline the final commitment list for the fifth edition of the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, set for January 23- 9 at the Ocean Club Golf Course at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in The Bahamas. The final field of 108 players will be completed after two spots are awarded from Monday's 18-hole qualifier at Ocean Club.
A total of four of the top 10 players in the Rolex Rankings and 10 of the top 20 from the 2016 LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) money list are entered. In addition to Jutanugarn, the other top 10 players in the field are No. 5 Lexi Thompson of the United States, No. 6 Sei Young Kim of South Korea (the 2015 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic winner) and No. 8 Brooke Henderson of Canada.
Jutanugarn, a native of Thailand, won a tour-leading five titles in her second LPGA season, not only beating World No. 1 Lydia Ko for player of the year, but also capturing the Race to the CME Globe title and topping the season's money list. Among her five victories was her first major title at the RICOH Women's British Open.
Hyo Joo Kim shot a closing 7-under 66 at the Ocean Club Golf Course last year to beat Sei Young Kim, Anna Nordqvist and Stacy Lewis by two strokes for her third LPGA title with an 18-under 274 total. Jessica Korda and Ilhee Lee, who won this event in 2014 and 2013, respectively, also return.
The field also includes sponsor invite Natalie Gulbis and Bahamian Georgette Rolle, who won The Bahamas' qualifier in December to earn her fourth berth in the tournament.
"The course is in excellent condition, the field is just about set, and we are looking forward to the fifth edition of the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic," said Emily Norell, tournament
director. "The tournament has solidified over 400 volunteers and our success in the local community provides a platform for us to welcome the top 108 female golfers in the world and kick off the LPGA season in paradise. Our sponsorship remains strong and our partners Pure Silk, The Islands of The Bahamas and Atlantis, always put on a first-class show. Record crowds are to be expected, and we are ready."
For more tournament information, interested persons are asked to contact the tournament office at (242) 677-6470 or visit the event's website at www.puresilkbahamasclassic.com.

2017 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic

Final commitment list

Marina Alex
Brittany Altomare
Amy Anderson
Laetitia Beck
Katie Burnett
Dori Carter
Peiyun Chien
Chella Choi
Karen Chung
Cydney Clanton
Jacqui Concolino
Paula Creamer
Perrine Delacour
Lindy Duncan
Austin Ernst
Simin Feng
Dana Finkelstein
Sandra Gal
Laura Gonzalez Escallon
Jaye Marie Green
Casey Grice
*Natalie Gulbis
Jennifer Ha
Nasa Hataoka
Caroline Hedwall
Brooke M. Henderson
Celine Herbin
Dani Holmqvist
Wei-Ling Hsu
Charley Hull
Vicky Hurst
Karine Icher
Juli Inkster
Ariya Jutanugarn
Moriya Jutanugarn
Kim Kaufman
Megan Khang
Hyo Joo Kim
Sei Young Kim
Katherine Kirk
Joanna Klatten
P.K. Kongkraphan
Jessica Korda
Nelly Korda
Olafia Kristinsdottir
Candie Kung
Min Seo Kwak
Brittany Lang
Maude-Aimee Leblanc
Ilhee Lee
JeongEun Lee
Min Lee
Amelia Lewis
Stacy Lewis
Xi Yu Lin
Brittany Lincicome
Pernilla Lindberg
Gaby Lopez
Lee Lopez
Mo Martin
Ally McDonald
Stephanie Meadow
Wichanee Meechai
Sydnee Michaels
Giulia Molinaro
Becky Morgan
Belen Mozo
Therese O'Hara
Ryann O'Toole
Hee Young Park
Jane Park
Annie Park
Sadena Parks
Maria Parra
Katherine Perry
Pornanong Phatlum
Gerina Piller
Morgan Pressel
Mel Reid
Paula Reto
*Georgette Rolle
Madelene Sagstrom
Lizette Salas
Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong
Alena Sharp
Kelly Shon
Sarah Jane Smith
Jennifer Song
Nontaya Srisawang
Angela Stanford
Marissa Steen
Jackie Stoelting
Kris Tamulis
Kelly Tan
Lexi Thompson
Yani Tseng
Ayako Uehara
Mariajo Uribe
Michelle Wie
Cheyenne Woods
Jing Yan
Amy Yang
Julie Yang
Angel Yin
Pavarisa Yoktuan
Sun Young Yoo

* Sponsor invite

Alternates
1. Sandra Changkija
2. Mina Harigae
3. Brooke Pancake
4. Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras
5. Demi Runas
6. Holly Clyburn
7. Madeleine Sheils

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European Union considers including Bahamas on another blacklist

January 19, 2017

The Bahamas could be on the brink of once again being blacklisted by the European Union (EU), according to an Associated Press (AP) story published yesterday.
The Bahamas was previously identified by the EU as facilitating tax evasion, which underscored the union's move to blacklist this jurisdiction in June 2015.
The AP reported that the EU's executive commission put Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Guyana, Iraq, Laos, Syria, Uganda, Vanuatu and Yemen on a proposed blacklist of countries at risk of money laundering and terror financing. However, European Union lawmakers were not satisfied with the proposed blacklist, calling for an expansion to include countries that facilitate tax crimes. The lawmakers want The Bahamas on the list.
"The Bahamas was one place mentioned," AP reported.
This despite a raft of tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs), the signing of an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) with the U.S. on implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the decision by The Bahamas to adopt the OECD standards on automatic exchange of information (AEOI).
In September of last year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) attacked The Bahamas by way of an unattributed article in The Economist, which blasted The Bahamas as a "holdout" and sought to smear the jurisdiction as a "tax haven of long standing". Government officials who spoke to the matter said the attack was predicated on an OECD preference for the multilateral approach to AEOI.
Nearly 400 EU lawmakers opted for the blacklist to be revised. "In a resolution passed yesterday by 393 votes to 67 votes, with 210 abstentions, lawmakers said the list is too limited and should include territories that make tax crimes easier," said the AP.
"Dutch lawmaker Judith Sargentini, who drew up the resolution, said 'We now hope that the European Commission will be more ambitious in revisions, so as to create a blacklist which is fit-for-purpose'."
German politician and lawmaker Sven Giegold said, "In light of recent leaks revealing money laundering and tax crimes, it is ridiculous that Panama and other famous havens for dirty money are still not on the commission's blacklist."
On the other hand, Member of the European Parliament Krisjanis Karins counterargued that, "A country should be placed on the blacklist only when there is clear evidence of a systematic threat of money laundering and terrorist financing."
According to the AP, EU states agreed to establish a blacklist of tax havens by the end of this year, although critics say the list may turn out to include none of the top countries helping taxpayers avoid their bills.
Minister of Financial Services Hope Strachan is expected to say more on the matter today.

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Smith blasted for 'hateful' comments

January 19, 2017

Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell has branded as "hateful, deceitful, ungrateful, dishonest and unpatriotic", comments made by lawyer Fred Smith, QC, to the audience of an association meeting recently.
Smith told the audience: "... It's a big problem for the black Bahamians that you're down here. Believe it or not, they want your money, they want you to spend it, but they don't like you, alright."
Smith, in recorded audio from the Coral Beach Condominium Association meeting, can be heard telling the audience that Bahamians do not like foreigners, and that this country's people are very "hateful" toward foreign investors.
"It is a very difficult environment to live in," Smith told the group.
"Most of you... you're all white for the most part... The fact is The Bahamas is a very racist, a very xenophobic, a nationally insecure and a very hateful place to foreigners. So you can't just bury your head in the sand."
Some observers believe there is already an extremely bad stigma about the people of The Bahamas, especially at a time when a sovereign credit rating downgrade leaves the country's foreign direct investment climate possibly teetering on the edge of failure.
Mitchell picked up on Smith's comments and came to the defense of the country and Bahamians at large in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, saying: "I do not appreciate in the least this attempt to smear me and to smear the government and the wider Bahamian people, no matter how it is dressed up."
Smith accused Mitchell of going after foreign residents at the Coral Beach condominium, suggesting to the 65-person association meeting that the immigration minister had intervened in a private matter regarding condominium fees that were in arrears.
"Why is Fred Mitchell, the minister of Bahamas immigration, getting involved in a dispute that exists between condominium owners?" Smith asked.
"Why is he picking on Bruno Rufa or Sandra or Nancy or others? Make no mistake when the new board decides to enforce a lien against some Bahamian who refuses to pay the maintenance you will be the next one that the immigration is going to try and deport."
However, Mitchell hit back, saying his only relationship with the situation was through his ministry, which was investigating possible criminal actions of one of the condominium's residents.
"The record shows that Bruno Rufa about whom he speaks, a Canadian citizen, is now before the criminal courts of The Bahamas on a charge of working in The Bahamas without a work permit. That is an offense in law," Mitchell said.
"There is the rule of law in The Bahamas and no one's rights are infringed upon.
"When someone violates the laws and procedures of The Bahamas, then the Department of Immigration acts. Such an individual against whom a decision is made has a right in law to review their case and the government acts according to law.
"The Bahamas government is not involved in any dispute with the Coral Beach Condominium Association."
Smith, who is also an environmential activist, has been a representative for several high profile foreigners in The Bahamas. Mitchell suggested that Smith made thousands representing the condominium association in certain capacities.
"Mr. Rufa has availed himself of the courts of The Bahamas," Mitchell said. "And the records show that Mr. Smith has been paid handsomely for his work, with the minutes of the meeting's record showing that some $270,000 in fees have been collected by him and his firm for work for the association; some $1 million in outstanding fees are unbilled."
Mitchell said his first duty as a policymaker of The Bahamas was to protect the country, its constitution and its people, and thus remarked: "Given the wide circulation of the documents, no immigration minister can allow this comment to stand unchallenged, particularly as it was delivered in the face of 65 foreign people who live in The Bahamas and are valued investors here. It is hateful. It is deceitful. This is ungrateful. It is dishonest. It is unpatriotic."

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BISX All-Share Index up 6.26 percent in 2016

January 19, 2017

The Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX) released its summary report for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2016, revealing that the BISX All-Share Index closed at 1,938.21 last year, which represents a year-to-date increase of 114.26 or 6.26 percent over the previous year.
"The valuations of some of our listed companies has increased," Holland Grant, chief operating officer of BISX, told The Nassau Guardian yesterday.
"As at December 31, 2016 the market was comprised of 20 ordinary shares with a market capitalization of $4.11 billion," the summary said.
"In addition there were 13 preference shares with a market capitalization of $327 million and 19 bonds with a face value of $579 million."
BISX, over the period January 1 to December 31, traded 5,552,593 shares valued at $40,070,454.82, which revealed a more than 2 million share spike compared to the same period in 2015.
BISX's 12-month trade value comparison showed a huge spike in trade value and volume, owed to a significant amount of Doctors Hospital shares that were sold on the exchange.
The exchange's average daily trade volume showed an uptick in 2016 with daily trades of 22,240 shares, which resulted in an average daily trade value of $160,910.10.
The top share volume leaders for 2016 were Doctors Hospital, due to its large share movement in June, followed by Cable Bahamas and Commonwealth Bank Limited. Trade value leaders for 2016 were Commonwealth Bank Limited, Cable Bahamas and FOCOL Holdings Limited.
BISX's All-Share Index is a market capitalization weighted index of all primary market listings excluding debt securities, according to the Q4 summary.

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Study warns about declining Nassau grouper numbers due to overfishing

January 19, 2017

A recent study has warned about the declining population of the Nassau grouper, due to the overfishing of spawning aggregations, while asserting the need for adapted management of the fisheries resource.
Researchers from Shedd Aquarium in Chicago released a study yesterday, in partnership with the University of Exeter, the Perry Institute for Marine Science and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), in the Bulletin of Marine Science.
Krista Sherman, research associate from Shedd Aquarium, said "The Nassau grouper fishery represents a substantial monetary contribution to the Bahamian fisheries economy, supports thousands of livelihoods and is an iconic symbol for the country.
"Despite a recent national fishery closure during the spawning season, our
research suggests that aggregations continue to be overfished. Our work will inform a science-based and adaptive approach for future management of the fishery," Sherman continued.
A summary of the study was provided in a press release, which pointed out the Nassau grouper represents one of the "best-known examples of a fishery collapse" due to the overfishing of spawning aggregations throughout the Caribbean and The Bahamas.
"In part because of overfishing, the Nassau grouper is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The Bahamas still supports a commercial fishery for Nassau grouper, but managers have noted population declines and the need for proactive, science-based management," the release said.
A team that visited The Bahamas helped to conduct the study and documented migration patterns using acoustic telemetry, a technology that uses sound pulses to track fish movements.
Dr. Chuck Knapp, vice president of conservation research at Shedd Aquarium, said "After spending the last two years tagging Nassau grouper in The Bahamas during their full moon aggregations, we documented the likely extirpation of an important spawning aggregation at High Cay, a small island off the east coast of Andros in The Bahamas, which had most likely existed for decades."
He added: "The collapse may be the result of fishing pressure and the overexploitation of the species due to their natural reproductive behaviors."

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New automated license system to begin February 6 on Grand Bahama

January 19, 2017

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama - Learning experiences from the rollout of the new licensing system in Nassau should help to make the transition on Grand Bahama that much smoother.
Controller of the Road Traffic Department Ross Smith was in Grand Bahama on January 19 to announce the date for the new system to be up and running in the second city.
"We learned a lot in Nassau, and so we are taking what we learned there - in terms of getting out the kinks - and we should have a smooth rollout here in Grand Bahama," Smith told the media during a press conference at the Ministry for Grand Bahama.
The new automated vehicle and driver's license system is expected to begin on Grand Bahama on February 6.
"This transition process is a vital and fundamental component to the department's modernization plan that seeks to bring the management and operation of the Road Traffic Department into the 21st century," Smith told the media.
"One of the great features of this new system is that you can register and fill out the application form online, and I must add that you are only required to go through the registration process once, and that's the first time you are renewing your license under our new automated system."
Clients are asked to simply go online and log onto the site, which is roadtraffic@bahamas.gov.bs, and click on the icon that says, "pre-register".
All of the required documents must be scanned (that includes a passport or voter's card, NIB smart card, driver's license and a valid insurance certificate).
Once completed, clients would be given a case number, which will also be emailed to them.
"We are extremely excited about this project, because we are convinced that it introduces a process that will improve operational efficiency within the Road Traffic Department and significantly improve the quality of service we provide the public," added the road traffic controller.
"The public should be advised that the existing system of vehicle licensing and renewal of driver's license during the month of your birth will continue. There will be no change to that process, and we are not requiring everyone to change to the new system at the same time when we introduce the process next month.
"Only persons whose vehicle license expires during the month of February will be required to renew using the new system. Similarly, the same process that exists for businesses and franchises will continue as well."
Smith emphasized the fact that those who will be renewing their licenses under the new system will not be paying for a license plate. However, if a plate is lost or misplaced, clients seeking to replace that plate will incur a cost.
This new automated system is expected to help improve privacy for clients, as the license disk that goes onto the windshield of the vehicle will no longer have the driver's name or address. The new disk will have the model of the car, the date the car was licensed and a bar code, which could be scanned by police officers in the event more information is needed.
"This was something that many people had said was a problem for them over the years," said Smith. "So we have listened to the cries of the people, and so we are removing all of that private information from the license disk."
The new license plates will have two letters and four digits, for ease of identification. In Grand Bahama, all new license plates will have the letters GB, followed by the four digits. The same principle will apply to all Family Islands.

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Electronic trade portal to be launched by Ministry of Financial Services

January 19, 2017

The Ministry of Financial Services conducted an information session on The Bahamas' trade information service desk and electronic portal at SuperClubs Breezes on January 18. The official launch of the trade portal is tentatively scheduled for early March 2017. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) sponsored the event.
Minister of Financial Services Hope Strachan was in attendance. She told attendees that the portal was of great importance to the country and assured the audience - comprised mainly of members of the business community - of the government's commitment to diversifying the economy and expanding trade.
She said, "The establishment of the trade portal is a part of the government's ongoing efforts to diversify the economy by expanding trade with regional, hemispheric and international trading partners. Currently a Bahamian entrepreneur seeking to export his or her product to a foreign market will have to sift through an excessive amount of information to find reliable trade information on how to export that product. This, I am sure you would agree, makes doing business with The Bahamas unnecessarily difficult and expensive."
She said that grant funding has been provided by the European Union through the technical assistance component of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, and subsequent to an international bidding process, the International Trade Centre (a specialized joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations) was retained to provide the services to design and develop a trade portal in mid-2016.
"The intention of this trade portal is to create a 'one-stop shop' to access important national, regional and international trade information, such as export/import statistics, information on trade regulations - such as quality requirements and standards, certification requirements and rules of origin - as well as shipping information, company profiles and key information on trade agreements," said Strachan.
The portal will serve as an important business facilitation tool by reducing the cost and time required to access trade information, and in turn improve the ease of doing business in The Bahamas.
Joost van der Kooij, the lead technical consultant of the Dutch company Globally Cool, is working along with the International Trade Centre in the development of the trade portal.

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11 murders in 18 days
11 murders in 18 days

January 19, 2017

With 11 murders recorded already in The Bahamas for 2017, there are widespread concerns about crime, but Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said yesterday that the majority of murder victims are people "involved in a life of crime", contrary to hearsay that criminals often target innocent people...

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CIA considered implications of possible Pindling drug indictment

January 19, 2017

In declassified documents from nearly 30 years ago, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) thoroughly reviewed the potential fallout on the United States if then Prime Minister the late Sir Lynden Pindling were to be indicted on drug charges...

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Nottage laments low voter registration

January 19, 2017

While pointing out that voter registration has improved in recent months, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage yesterday called the sluggish number of registrants throughout the country "unprecedented".
In Parliament, the minister explained that the government is mindful of going into an election with low voter registration and therefore wants to prolong the registration period to accommodate as many citizens as possible before calling the general election.
As of Tuesday, 80,000 people (approximately 44 percent of the estimated eligible voters) had registered.
In an attempt to bolster the numbers in recent months, the Parliamentary Registration Department has extended its hours well into the evening, increased its staff complement, opened up dozens more centers for registration and conducted registration drives, particularly on New Providence.
Nottage, who has ministerial responsibility for elections, stressed that the government has done as much as it can, pointing to a radio advertisement campaign and billboards erected.
But he said despite this, the numbers remain too low.
He again compelled citizens to register for the election, as opposition members questioned from their seats in the House of Assembly why so many people have yet to register, and suggested it was because of dissatisfaction with the current administration.
"We are in a season where people are not going," Nottage responded.
"I'll leave that to you as to the answer, okay. Maybe they do not want to vote for whomever."
Nottage also noted that the low voter registration numbers has impacted the ability of the Boundaries Commission's report to be tabled.
He said the government wants to ensure no further adjustments need to be made.
"The Boundaries Commission normally would not report until such time as the commission has access to the information that it needs to determine whether there needs to be any changes, and the principle thing they are looking at, I think, is the volume of registrants," he explained.
"The member for Montagu (Richard Lightbourn) rightly says that we don't want [to] have an election on a low count of registered voters."
While Nottage previously addressed reports that personnel at some registration centers were turning away people because of their attire, saying there is no law that bans anyone from registering to vote because of what they wear, the minister said he understands people are still being turned away for this reason.
He warned that staff members engaging in this practice will be fired by the department.
"There are occasions where people are still doing it," Nottage said.
"People are still doing it, even though I told the Parliamentary [Commissioner Sherlyn Hall] that if they do it, send them home.
"Somehow people believe they are doing you a favor to register you and provide you with that service, and that is something that I am sick and tired of."
Hall has previously said there is "voter apathy" throughout the country.
When he made that statement two months ago, voter registration stood at 34 percent (56,823 voters) of the estimated eligible voters.
When compared to the same period five years ago, there were 134,000 registered voters.

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Speaker expects boundaries report 'very shortly'

January 19, 2017

Speaker of the House of Assembly Dr. Kendal Major expressed confidence yesterday that the much-awaited final report of the Boundaries Commission would be tabled in Parliament "within two weeks or very shortly".
"In speaking with the government members and the commission I am satisfied that there was an argument put forth that we will allow a little bit more time to increase and beef up the voter registration [numbers]," he told reporters in the foyer of the House, following the morning session during which the Official Opposition raised concern about the tabling of the report.
"There is more access. There are more opportunities to register.
"Individual members ought to convince as many persons as possible and assist them in registering.
"In our discussion in the House today, opposition members expressed some concern,and the question arose as to constitutionally whether the prime minister should make a decision with the voter registration being as low as it is. And I think all of us could agree that we would rather not, or wait until it's increased to the extent that it's a reasonable amount that speaks to the aspirations of the Bahamian people.
"At some point we will have to make a decision and make a cut off point.
"The argument has been put forth. I thought it was a cogent argument to wait a few more weeks and see what happens."
Asked whether the report was completed from the commission's end, Major said, "From my standpoint it is completed. It is my understanding that even the prime minister may have it in his [possession]. I did not give it to the prime minister.
"That's not necessarily the protocol, but it's pretty much done.
"We just need to bring it to the commission so that the opposition members could have full view of it, and then debate internally before it is released publicly."
Although the commission has used projections of voter registration to guide its report, it normally benefits from the guidance of the current voter registration data.
"We want to use voter registration as up to date as possible," Major noted.
However, voter registration, at last report, was under 50 percent of the projected registered voters (80,000 registered voters of the 182,000 eligible). Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage, who has ministerial responsibility for elections, called the figure unprecedented.
The speaker previously confirmed the creation of one new constituency, St. Cecilia, for the next general election.
When asked whether the creation of a new constituency was justified on the basis of the projected registration data, Major said he could not answer that question, as he had not "gathered the rationale for adding the constituency", which he expects to become clearer when debate on the report begins.
"The debate has not happened yet, so I can't answer that," he said.
Nottage appealed for parliamentarians to set about strongly encouraging and assisting citizens to get registered to vote.
Major announced ahead of the Christmas recess that he expected the report to be tabled when Parliament returned, last week Monday.
But on the day, the speaker said "much to my disappointment" several "unprecedented and mitigating factors", including information leaked in December, impacted the commission's work.
In a statement on Tuesday, Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said it is time for Prime Minister Perry Christie to give Bahamians an opportunity to vote for new leadership, and the first step is to table the Boundaries Commission report in Parliament.

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Minnis and Major at odds over boundaries report deadline

January 19, 2017

The government's failure to table the Boundaries Commission report in Parliament is a breach of the constitution, charged Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday.
"We are supposed to be a country of law and order," Minnis said.
"Our constitution clearly states that the Boundaries Commission should report no later than five years [from the date of last report].
"...The last boundaries report was on the 17th of November, 2011.
"This only shows why we have so much problems within our society.
"If a young man does something wrong, and he breaks the law in our society, what happens? He is arrested.
"Yet the government, on numerous occasions, is in breach of the constitution [and] has no respect for the law.
"Can we arrest them?
"No, but what we can do [is] when election is called, these lawbreakers must be removed."
Article 70.1 of the Bahamas constitution states: "The commission shall, in accordance with the provisions of this article, at intervals of not more than five years, review the number and boundaries of the constituencies into which The Bahamas is divided and shall submit to the governor general a single report either (a) stating that in the opinion of the commission, no change is required; or (b) recommending certain changes, and the governor general shall cause such report to be laid before the House of Assembly forthwith."
When asked to respond to this charge, Speaker of the House Dr. Kendal Major said that Minnis and Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells, who raised the issue in the House yesterday, were incorrect in their interpretation of the constitution.
"I believe the five-year period speaks to the calling of a new Parliament," Major told reporters yesterday in the foyer of the House of Assembly.
"It [the constitution] indicated that in five years it should be reviewed.
"The deadline to report was a self-imposed deadline, but it was not based on the constitution.
"So I think that premise is a bit misinterpreted."
FNM Chairman Sidney Collie yesterday also lashed out at the government over its failure to table the report.
"How can this government plan to call an election when they have repeatedly failed to deliver on their responsibility of finishing the Boundaries Commission report?" Collie asked in a statement to the press.
"... This is a desperate act of a desperate party trying to cling to power after years of disastrous, incompetent and failed leadership.
"Five years ago, the Bahamian people had the map in November.
"They were empowered to study their options and know their choices for office.
"Is it any wonder why some Bahamians have been slow to register when this government is sending signals that they would rather hold this election in the dark of night, away from prying eyes similar to how they conduct government businesses behind closed doors in secrecy?
"The Bahamian people deserve to know their constituencies and who is holding up the process."
Major announced ahead of the Christmas recess that he expected the report to be tabled when Parliament returned last week Monday.
But on that day, the speaker said "much to my disappointment" several "unprecedented and mitigating factors", including information leaked in December, impacted the commission's work.

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Man accused of murdering mother videotaped body, court told

January 19, 2017

A man accused of murdering his mother photographed and videotaped her body on the ground, prosecutors allege.
Jerome Butler, 57, is accused of killing his mother, 81, in their home at Highbury Park on February 4, 2015.
Butler, who is in custody, has denied the murder charge at his trial before Justice Indra Charles.
Yesterday, Corporal Chris Pickstock presented images and videos extracted from a Samsung Galaxy cell phone, allegedly owned by Butler on February 11.
According to Pickstock, the videos and photos were taken on February 4 at 6:30 a.m. and a 6:34 a.m.
During questioning by defense lawyer David Cash, Pickstock acknowledged that there were "a lot" of other videos and photos in the phone.
Also testifying was crime scene investigator Constable 1800 Levar Neely, who said he took photographs of the crime scene on February 10.
One of the photographs showed a suspected blood stain on the bedroom floor, Neely said.
Cash asked Neely if it was the "best practice" in homicide investigations to take photographs while the body was at the scene.
Neely agreed.
Neely also agreed that he could not say how many people were in the room between February 4 and 10.
The trial continues today. Uel Johnson is the prosecutor.

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Kidnapping case discontinued

January 19, 2017

The attorney general discontinued a kidnapping case after the alleged victim failed to show up to testify.
Prosecutors alleged that Tearge Fowler kidnapped Alridge Sturrup on August 23, 2015, caused harm to him and threatened to kill him.
Although Sturrup was informed of the trial before Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs, he did not appear for the proceedings.
Yesterday, prosecutor Algernon Allen Jr. presented a nolle prosequi directing the proceedings be brought to an end.
Calvin Seymour represented Fowler, who was on bail.

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2017 Bahamas Handbook features exciting line-up of features, facts and beautiful photos

January 19, 2017

Read about the iconic past of the country's first public high school, the first black mayor in Britain who hailed from Inagua, and how the new guardian of the Bahamian economy feels about the country's economic prospects. You'll find these stories and much more in the 2017 Bahamas Handbook, just off the press and in bookstores now.
Published by Etienne Dupuch Jr. Publications for more than 50 years, this latest edition offers an exciting lineup of feature articles, beautiful photography and a reliable compendium of facts and figures on everything you ever wanted to know about The Bahamas.
Among the articles for 2017, readers will meet Dr. Alan Glaisyer Minns, a Bahamian who became the first black mayor in Britain in 1904; Sir Charles Carter, whose accomplishments in broadcasting and media earned him a knighthood; and John Rolle, the new governor of The Central Bank of The Bahamas.
Readers will learn about the rich history of Government High School, established in the 1920s to make higher education a reality for the black majority, and produced some of the country's most prominent government and civic leaders; how American businessman and humanitarian Austin Levy revolutionized agriculture in The Bahamas in the 1930s; and how a slave by the name of Pompey led a heroic rebellion that started an anti-slavery movement in The Bahamas.
Business people will be interested in how the Securities Commission of The Bahamas is overhauling investment fund legislation and how the financial services industry is adapting to new compliance standards brought in by FATCA.
Also featured in this year's Handbook:
o The fascinating history of Cay Sal, a cluster of small little-known Bahamian islands between Cuba and the Florida Keys that was the site of espionage and intrigue and a playground for the rich and famous.
o How Milanne Rehor, project director of the Wild Horses of Abaco Preservation Society, is working to bring Abaco's rare wild horses back from extinction through the science of cloning.
o How the Lyford Cay Foundation is helping Bahamian students fulfill their educational dreams and give back to the country.
o A look back at the late legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and his connection to The Bahamas.
o The 60-year history of the Lynden Pindling International Airport, the site of industrial unrest in the late 1950s, now the modern gateway to paradise.
o How the famous swimming pigs of Exuma have taken social media by storm and become one of The Bahamas' top attractions.
The Handbook's Blue Pages section is a treasure trove of useful information, assembled in an easy-to-use alphabetical format. It features everything you ever wanted to know about The Bahamas, ranging from agriculture, boating and climate, to voting, wildlife and zoos. The most important events of 2016 are listed in the popular Year in Review.
The Government Section is a rundown on how the country's parliamentary democracy works, including the role of the governor general, the prime minister and his Cabinet, and the leader of the opposition. Members of Parliament, senators, top civil servants and diplomats are all listed.
Etienne Dupuch Jr. Publications has been in operation since the 1950s and the Handbook has been published continuously since 1960. It is a must read for anyone who lives, works, visits, studies or invests in The Bahamas. The company also publishes the semi-annual Bahamas Investor and three twice-a-year booklets: What To Do (Nassau and Freeport) and the Dining and Entertainment Guide. Among its nine publications are maps for New Providence and Grand Bahama, and two editions of the Welcome Book, a glossy coffee-table hardback.

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Gibson provides breakdown on hurricane relief spending

January 19, 2017

Minister of Labour Shane Gibson and Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins yesterday clashed over government spending over the last three months associated with the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew.
Following a detailed communication of government's spending and relief efforts since October, Rollins asked Gibson to advise the Bahamian people how much the government has spent in total to date and how much of the $150 million it approved to borrow has been spent.
"We came to this House and a resolution was brought and passed unanimously for the borrowing of $150 million, and I think the Bahamian people are entitled to know how much of that $150 million has to date been spent and what is the lion's share of the money; what in fact has it been spent on? Rollins asked.
Gibson shot back that Rollins must not have been paying attention during his communication.
"Mr. Speaker, I feel now like I was sleeping because I thought I went through that and I said how many contracts were issued, [and] how much money was spent on cleanup," he said.
"I thought we went through all of that already.
"I did not give him a cumulative figure, but if you look at the communication you can just add it up.
"One plus one is two. Everything is there."
However, Rollins said the people deserve answers, prompting Gibson to advise the Fort Charlotte MP that he (Gibson) has been elected in Golden Gates three times and also represents people, while some members of Parliament prior to the last general election had "never been on the ballot before".
Gibson eventually explained that though the $150 million was approved, the government has not drawn down on that money.
In his breakdown of government spending relating to the Category 4 storm, Gibson indicated that the government issued over $1.1 million in cash vouchers and provided approximately $3.7 million in material and labor assistance.
As of last week Thursday, 830 letters of intent were issued to contractors on New Providence.
Gibson also gave an update on the "low cost" loan offerings.
Impacted individuals who qualified borrowed over $24 million, according to the minister.
The application process, which was suspended last month, recommenced last week.
As it relates to cleanup efforts, the minister indicated that tens of millions of dollars was spent for New Providence as of last month.
The price tag for cleanup efforts on Grand Bahama was nearly $1 million, while the estimated cost for Central Andros is nearly $40,000.
Gibson said he expects these efforts to be completed at the end of the month.
He pointed to major challenges, namely people dumping once an area has been cleared.
He pledged that once completed, the total cost for cleaning up the islands impacted will be provided.
According to Gibson, contracts for repairs to the Senate, the Churchill Building and the Tracon Building will cost the government around $3.36 million.
While the government is still awaiting detailed scoping, it will take an estimated $16.54 million to repair government buildings on New Providence.
It will take an estimated $2.42 million to repair docks, bridges and seawalls and $1.31 million to repair roads on New Providence.
Gibson said it will take an estimated $20.31 million to repair government buildings, infrastructure and roads on Andros and Grand Bahama.
He also noted that repairs to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture are anticipated to cost over a quarter of a million dollars.
Gibson advised that the hit to the agriculture sector on New Providence, Grand Bahama, Exuma, North Andros and Long Island was nearly $1.3 million.
With respect to the fisheries sector, the cost to New Providence, Grand Bahama and North Andros was estimated at $1.9 million.
Additionally, Gibson said a total of $1.62 million was privately donated to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
According to Gibson, 106 families were displaced as a result of Matthew.
He also provided a breakdown of home repairs on the various islands impacted.
"Mr. Speaker, while progress has been made in the restoration of our islands over the past three months, there is still much work to be done," Gibson said.
"In the coming weeks, the major focus will be on the repair program for private homes and we expect that the pace will be greatly accelerated as more vouchers are issued and contracts for repairs are executed."

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Tale of the Diary of Anne Frank to be told by her stepsister, Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss

January 19, 2017

In what is expected to be an incomparable and emotionally moving evening, Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss, best friend and stepsister of Anne Frank, will open up about her experiences, the personal memories of a journey that took her beyond the anguish of Auschwitz to a life dedicated to humanitarianism, when she addresses an audience in Nassau on February 9.
The event, "An Evening with Eva Schloss, Beyond the Diary", is set for 6:00 p.m. at the Melia Nassau Beach resort. It is free and open to the public.
"Every few years, the Nassau Jewish community brings to the island someone whose story transcends individual religions or creeds and teaches all of us in the broader community the real meaning of strength, courage and goodness," said Rabbi Sholom Bluming. "Five years ago, we had Rena Finder, a Schindler's List survivor and two years ago, one of the Israeli fencing team athletes who survived the Munich Olympics massacre. It turned out that the man's life was actually saved by the Bahamian Olympians who were housed nearby and he never knew who saved him until all those years later, but that is the kind of real-life drama that you cannot reinvent, you can only celebrate."
This year, said the rabbi, the presentation will be one that is likely to go down in history here and abroad.
"Eva Schloss is an amazing woman," he noted. "But she is 87 years old and although she is very sharp mentally, reliving the terror and the embers of hope that burned throughout the years of degradation and starvation requires almost superhuman energy. She cannot continue to be a globetrotter forever, recounting the horrors, the hiding, the pain, the starvation and finally victory. Her story of hope and resilience will inspire all of us for its courage and for the example it sets of good outweighing evil."
Mrs. Schloss, who was Anne Frank's childhood best friend growing up in Amsterdam before the war, became her stepsister after the Holocaust when Eva's mother married Anne Frank's father after each lost their spouses. After Anne was murdered, Eva often felt she lived in her friend's shadow but was determined to make her life count and to use her story to inspire others.
"Being able to hear a firsthand account of Anne Frank's life is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, She has left behind a diary that allowed the world to see the ravages of war through a child's eyes and through the daily life of a family being torn apart bit by bit, limb by limb, dream by dream. Eva went on to live in the shadow but also in the light, creating for herself a full and rich life - author, wife, mother, grandmother, humanitarian."
Mrs. Schloss will arrive in The Bahamas February 7 and will address students from several public and private schools during a presentation at the Harry C. Moore Library at the University of The Bahamas prior to her main presentation at the Melia Nassau Beach resort on Thursday February 9th. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the program beings at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact rabbi@jewishbahamas.com or diane@dpa-media.com.

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