Nassau Guardian Stories
February 20, 2017
St. Anne's MP Hubert Chipman said yesterday his letter to Speaker of the House Dr. Kendal Major, in which he claimed that the boundaries report he signed was not the one tabled in Parliament, was "misinterpreted", and fired back at Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis for criticizing his absence during debate on the matter in the House of Assembly last week.
But Chipman -- the opposition's representative on the Constituencies Commission -- insisted yesterday that he stands by his letter.
The letter sparked uproar in Parliament last week after Major, who is chairman of the Constituencies Commission, read it into the record of the House.
Chipman, who was contacted by The Nassau Guardian, said, "I was very, very surprised that it got the reaction that it did. As a matter of fact, I believe the letter was misinterpreted, to be honest with you. But again, I will deal with that."
Chipman would not elaborate on what he meant about the letter being misinterpreted, insisting that he intends to deal with the matter in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.
In the letter, the MP expressed "extreme displeasure at the complete and utter variance between the contents of the document shown to me and the document actually tabled in Parliament".
He said, "The document I signed is not the same document tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, February 8, 2017.
"In particular, as mentioned during our telephone conversation of Friday, February 10, 2017, I had no prior knowledge of the changes relating to Montagu, as announced by the Right Honorable Prime Minister, when the draft report was tabled in the House of Assembly on February 8, 2017.
"Therefore, I am bound to express my profound disappointment that the document produced to me withheld material contained in the actual draft report laid in the House."
When he contributed to debate on the report, Davis suggested Chipman's priorities were not well ordered.
Chipman was not present for the debate because he was attending a CARICOM heads of government meeting in Guyana on the invitation of Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell.
"I was very, very disappointed to hear my priorities were misdirected or he (Davis) was disappointed," Chipman said.
"When I was asked on Wednesday prior to leaving the country by the minister of foreign affairs whether I would join him at a CARICOM [meeting] in Guayana, I thought it was a privilege. I accepted it.
"I did not know at the particular time that the debate would have been going on the next week, because I would tell you, Parliament is not ordered in such a way that you can plan your life around it... so I thought it was appropriate that I accept.
"The government of The Bahamas invited me to go to CARICOM, Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell, and I accepted it.
"How can [my priorities] be wrong to not represent my country?"
Asked to respond to Davis' claim that the report was late due to the change to the opposition's make up on the Constituencies Commission, Chipman said, "I don't think the change in membership had anything to do with the report coming forward."
Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins and Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn have initiated a legal action challenging the constitutionality and legality of the report, which they submit violates a provision in the constitution that states that a report shall be completed once every five years.
A Supreme Court judge is expected to rule tomorrow whether a judicial review into the matter will proceed.
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February 20, 2017
Three men were shot on Windsor Lane and taken to hospital around 10 a.m. yesterday, police said.
According to police, a group of men were involved in an altercation that led to three of them being shot.
Police launched a manhunt for two suspects wanted for questioning in relation to the matter.
The suspects are Rolie Anthony Henfield, nicknamed "Babloo", 20, and Tony Austin Maycock, nicknamed "Fats", 44, both of Windsor Lane.
Police warned that the men are considered to be armed and dangerous and urged the public not to approach them.
Yesterday's incident was the latest in the spree of gun violence that has gripped New Providence in recent weeks.
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February 20, 2017
The gazetting of the Constituencies Commission report has not derailed plans by attorney Michael Scott to push forward with the legal action he filed on behalf of Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins and Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn.
Scott said he intends to take the case as far as the Privy Council if needed.
He had intended to apply for an injunction intended to prevent the gazetting of the report, which he and his clients insist should be void because it was completed outside the five-year timeframe called for by the constitution. He said he was shocked by the action taken, making it clear to him that the government fears the validity of his clients' case.
"I was shocked to see that actually," he said of the gazetting of the report on Friday.
"They're obviously in an unholy rush to get this done as quickly as possible, as if they are petrified that my clients may be on to a good case."
Scott and his clients, Rollins and Lightbourn, are seeking a judicial review into the constitutionality and legality of the report.
Scott and attorneys from the Office of the Attorney General presented skeleton arguments before Justice Ian Winder last Thursday.
Article 70 of the constitution states that the commission shall report at five-year intervals.
Based on that, the new boundaries report should have been produced by November 16, 2016, five years after the last report.
Asked whether the gazetting has changed his plans, Scott said, "Not at all because our case was commenced before the debate actually began in Parliament, and we intend to actually proceed on Tuesday.
"I believe that our application for leave will succeed, [and] in the event that it doesn't, we are prepared to take it to the Court of Appeal and then to the Privy Council because we believe our argument on the law is a solid one."
Attorney Loren Klein, representing the government in the matter, argued in court on Thursday that even if the court contends that the boundaries report was not filed on time, it would not make it invalid.
Klein contended that "the simple failure to comply with a procedural requirement, not a substantive requirement, does not necessarily invalidate an executive action taken, appointment made or legal result attained".
But Scott insisted there is no legitimacy in "procedural slackness".
"You have to look at it in this perspective; Mr. Klein's arguments are that the article in the constitution is merely directory," he said.
"If he's right [and] you don't comply, what is the sanction for that? Does it mean that you can simply ignore the provision in the constitution?"
The opposition MPs want the boundaries used in the 2012 general election to be used in the upcoming election.
They also submit the government is practicing gerrymandering, particularly in the Montagu constituency which has been renamed Free Town.
Much of what was historically in the Montagu constituency is now in St. Anne's.
"Then, of course, there are the collateral issues of gerrymandering of boundaries and the issue of whether or not having regard to low voter registration it was proper to have added the 39th constituency," he said.
Scott said the action is more than just politics; it is about solidifying democracy for the Bahamian people.
"If our legislators can ignore the most sacred and organic law of the country, how do we expect ordinary Bahamians to obey the law?," he asked.
Scott said it has been a difficult process bringing the matter to the courts, but it is a necessary one.
"Having filed the necessary papers since last week we've had one roadblock after another trying to have this matter heard, because it's a very sensitive subject and I understand that," he said on Friday.
"No one really wants to deal with this matter, but it's important; and those of us who are supporting this, we are road warriors for democracy."
Justice Winder is expected to hand down his decision tomorrow on whether there are grounds for a judicial review.
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February 20, 2017
As crime remains at stubbornly high levels, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage has announced the introduction of previously used measures and those that are currently in place to curb the trend.
As he did in 2013, Nottage announced that the Royal Bahamas Defence Force would assist the Royal Bahamas Police Force with patrols.
Back then, Nottage said that 150 defense force personnel would carry out "sedentary and other duties carried out by the Royal Bahamas Police Force" to allow those officers to be deployed on the front lines of the crime fight.
Those measures also resulted in police complaining of burnout after working 12-hour shifts for months. The extended hours were phased out after the officers successfully filed a lawsuit seeking remuneration for the extra hours.
The government was ordered to pay those officers overtime or give them extra days off. To date, neither has happened.
This time, Nottage has suggested joint patrols between the police and the defense force.
Former Bahamas Bar Association President Elsworth Johnson said this is a worrying trend and if the move was not sanctioned by Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade, it could be unconstitutional.
He asked what deficiencies were present in the police force that required the military agency to become involved.
As he recalled a case where an elite squad of marines shot a Haitian during an independent immigration roundup, Johnson also noted that marines do not have the training to be on the streets.
Johnson said that the magistrate asked what the marines were doing on the streets.
Mexico, another country with a dangerously high crime rate, recruited the military to assist in the war on crime almost 10 years ago with little results.
In remarks published in The Guardian in 2016, Mexican Defense Secretary General Salvador Cienfuegos said that soldiers ought to return to their barracks.
He said, "We didn't ask to be there [in the streets]. We don't take any pleasure in it. None of us... were trained to pursue criminals."
Last week, while explaining that the carnage of 29 murders for the year was linked to criminal gangs, and holding up mug shots of alleged gang members, Nottage promised enforcement of anti-gang legislation.
"We will enforce the new anti-gang law that we passed in 2014. Persons convicted of an offense under this act are liable to a fine of $500,000 and to imprisonment for 20 years," he said.
Six alleged members of the One Order gang were charged under the act in 2015. However, the charges were later withdrawn after it was revealed that the men were accused of belonging to the gang before such conduct was criminalized.
The alleged leaders of One Order and Mad Ass were jailed before the anti-gang law came into effect.
Nottage announced that prosecutors would object to bail for people accused of firearms possession. However, this is already happening as magistrates lack the jurisdiction to consider bail for gun offenses, resulting in the automatic remand of suspects until they can get a date for a bail hearing before the Supreme Court.
However, a mere objection before a judge without demonstrating that an accused will not return for trial, is unlikely to result in refusal of bail for firearms offenses.
Nottage also announced that the courts would be asked to place greater restrictions on bailed suspects fitted with electronic monitoring devices, but the court already exercises its discretion to impose territorial restrictions and curfews when deemed necessary.
The current and former governments have both offered the same explanation for the violence: That for the most part the criminals are killing each other and law-abiding citizens have little to fear.
However, under both governments this has proven to be untrue.
In 2014, Latore Mackey, the press secretary of Prime Minister Perry Christie was found murdered and in 2009, under the Free National Movement, Tagia Soles-Armony was gunned down during an attempted car jacking outside her mother's home in Sea Breeze.
Johnson noted the commissioner has already spoken to the social programs that need to be put in place to address the scourge of crime.
He said the commissioner constantly addresses the need for parents to play a greater role in rearing their children by not condoning criminal activity.
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February 20, 2017
Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis on Saturday saluted former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham during the official launch of the campaign of the FNM's North Abaco candidate, Darren Henfield, on Abaco on Saturday, and pledged that change is coming for the constituency.
Ingraham was not present. The Nassau Guardian understands that he was not invited to the event.
Ingraham has confirmed that he supports Henfield 100 percent. The former prime minister represented North Abaco from 1977 to 2012, deciding not to take his seat after his party's loss at the polls in the last election.
This sparked a by-election, which took place in October 2012. After the FNM lost that election, Minnis -- then a few months into his leadership position -- declared in Abaco that the "Ingraham era is over".
"Remember during the by-election when the PLP promised plenty and more to you? Just like always, they delivered precious little," he said on Saturday.
"As soon as the election was over, the PLP didn't even look back for North Abaco.
"Most people even forget that Renardo Curry is in the House. A church mouse makes more noise than him. I reminded Renardo two weeks ago that he had borrowed my seat and within seven weeks he will be forced to leave. His time is up."
Minnis added, "The PLP will offer plenty talk and promises to North Abaco in the weeks and months ahead.
"Don't let them fool you all over again. Run them out of town. They are a very neglectful group in the PLP. They don't mean you any good. They will take your vote and give you nothing in return. They will give you more of the same.
"In the FNM we are different. We are agents of reform. We are agents of change."
Minnis pledged that change is coming to Abaco.
He told supporters, "Tonight, I salute Hubert Alexander Ingraham for all he has done for the people of Abaco and for all of the Bahamian people.
"In this spirit, it is my intention to lead a new era of reform and modernization for the 21st Century Bahamas.
"I will be a change agent, in areas such as education and empowering a new generation of entrepreneurs.
"I want to help thousands of young Bahamians to launch their own small businesses and microenterprises."
He also told supporters, "It is my mission to lead the charge for a revolution in solar power. We will launch a solar power initiative that will help thousands of Bahamians to power their homes and businesses with solar energy."
Minnis also raised the topical issue of the delayed boundaries report.
"Perry Christie and the PLP can't even get a boundaries commission report out on time...If the PLP can't handle a matter as relatively simple as this, they can't manage the complex business of government.
"The Baha Mar disaster was caused by Christie and the PLP.
"They can't handle anything big and they can't handle anything small, because they are too busy looking after themselves.
"If they can't take care of government business in Nassau, you know they can't take care of your problems and business in Abaco.
"The PLP [has] neglected the educational needs of the youth of Abaco.
"We need to do a comprehensive assessment of the educational needs in Abaco, including staffing, facilities and curriculum, especially for high school. This will include looking at the needs of Abaco Central High."
Minnis again told voters that they should not vote for the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).
"Don't mind all the noise from other places," he said.
"If you want to get rid of the PLP you have to vote FNM. A vote for the DNA is a vote for the PLP. If you go to bed with the DNA you will wake up with [Prime Minister Perry] Christie.
"The last time people voted for the DNA, we got Christie and the PLP.
"Neither the country nor Abaco can take five more years of hell from the PLP."
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February 20, 2017
Opposition Leader Loretta Butler-Turner yesterday suggested that Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn and Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins were justified in filing a legal challenge against the Constituencies Commission report, but conceded that the government "had its way".
Lightbourn and Rollins submit that the report violates Article 70 of the constitution, which requires a report to be completed "at intervals of not more than five years".
Prime Minister Perry Christie tabled the report in Parliament on February 8, announcing the renaming of the Montagu constituency to Free Town and the addition of new constituency, St. Barnabas.
Ahead of the May 7, 2012 general election the report was tabled on November 28, 2011.
"Well the reality of it is, the government had its way," Butler-Turner said.
"The government wanted to add and gerrymander without the benefit of great numbers, so no matter what the opposition says, the government essentially does what it wants.
"And it speaks to the fact that we have got to reach to a level of maturity where we do, in fact, consider an independent boundaries commission that is autonomous of government gerrymandering and interference.
"I think all of this speaks to the fact that the government is desperate.
"They are hoping that this last minute gerrymandering and disregard for what the opposition has to say plays into their ability to retain office."
Butler-Turner added yesterday, "I think both Richard Lightbourn and Andre Rollins were within their right to file such a petition.
"But the fact that remains is this: the government conveniently uses jurisprudence as a thought, as a tool, when they don't wish to debate something, but when the opposition does, they totally disregard it.
"So what can we say? The opposition has its say and the government has its way."
In a letter read into the record by House Speaker Dr. Kendal Major last Wednesday, St. Anne's MP Hubert Chipman also expressed "extreme displeasure at the complete and utter variance" between the document shown to him and the document actually tabled in Parliament.
Chipman, however, did not indicate in his letter what these variances were.
When asked her thoughts on the document being debated and passed in Parliament, despite the legal challenge and Chipman's letter, Butler-Turner said, "The opposition is trying very hard to effectively do its job in light of all the anomalies that the government is foisting on the Bahamian people; it's unfortunate.
"Mr. Chipman was named on December 19 to represent the opposition on the boundaries committee, and after one or two meetings, they seemed to have switched up what he thought. And so he was in his right to be able to write such a letter.
"And of course we support all of the opposition members in the actions that they have taken, but at the end of the day, the debate is completed even in the absence of... the minister of foreign affairs being there, the leader of the opposition being there.
"So what does this say?
"It says that they did not want a full ventilation of this debate.
"They wanted to move forward and they will probably be rushing to have a quick election."
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February 20, 2017
Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest is urging the government to cancel Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival (BJC) this year, given its fiscal challenges -- or at the very least substantially cut spending on the event.
Last week, The Nassau Guardian's National Review revealed that Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) Chairman Paul Major recommended to Prime Minister Perry Christie to halve the budget for carnival this year, due to political and economic considerations.
The inaugural BJC in 2015 cost the government $12.9 million.
The BNFC reported that the 2016 carnival cost $9.8 million, of which $8.1 was subsidized by the government.
Major said the commission can hold the event this year with a $4 million government subsidy.
But Turnquest said if the event must be held at all, the input from the government should match the subvention of the Junkanoo parades.
"My personal view is that the carnival should be skipped this year, or delayed if it is to be held, until after elections," said Turnquest in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.
"I, too, believe that the $4 million to $5 million subvention should be further reduced to not exceed the contributions made to the Junkanoo parades or a max of $2 million, whichever is less, in order to facilitate the transfer to private control."
The FNM has said it would privatize carnival if it becomes the next government.
"As a government, we should offer the event with a pay back plan for licenses and other taxes and allow the project to float free of government interference and indebtedness to the Bahamian people," he said.
"Why hold onto a losing proposition when there is a viable option to free yourself of this burden on the Bahamas treasury?"
Major advised the prime minister that in other jurisdictions, when faced with financial difficulties, carnival was never canceled.
He wrote, "It will be very difficult to convince stakeholders and sponsors in the future that there will be an annual carnival if we were to skip a year."
Major further advised the prime minister that the commission and the government could make some "hard decisions" to cut costs, including staging all events in the cultural village (at Arawak Cay), reducing the performances in Nassau to two nights and reducing production and marketing costs, among other things.
He also recommended that the Ministry for Grand Bahama or the Ministry of Tourism pick up some of the costs related to carnival on Grand Bahama.
Turnquest, who is the MP for East Grand Bahama, said he took exception to the suggestion that the Ministry for Grand Bahama should cover any of the costs.
"I note with interest the suggestion by the commission to halve the Ministry of Finance contribution to Junkanoo Carnival while suggesting that the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Grand Bahama up their contribution to the failed event," he said.
"The point missing by the organizers is that they have not been able to demonstrate clearly that this event is becoming successful and a clear plan for recovery for the already sunk cost of over $29 million is realistic and practical."
Last week, it was also revealed that Major threatened to quit as chairman of the BNFC over a dispute with Unique Bahamas International Ltd., which handles the production for carnival.
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February 20, 2017
The Progressive Liberal Party is about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with this crazy and dangerous spy bill that will allow them to eavesdrop on every single Bahamian, read our emails and listen to our phone calls.
First of all, it is unconstitutional, and they have no right to invade people's lives in this way. Every citizen of this country has the right to privacy, and any government that would seek to violate that right does not deserve to be in power.
And as the PLP should know better than anybody, The Bahamas is a place that thrives on secrecy, and everybody has at least one skeleton in the closet.
The idea that the authorities would have access to everybody's intimate discussions and have proof of who is whose sweetheart, 'outside' child, etc., is terrifying to most citizens of this country, and they simply will not stand for it.
The public will be up in arms when they realize what this bill really means.
Soon enough, corrupt police officers will be blackmailing us to keep our private business under wraps. Politicians will be using embarrassing personal information to destroy their opponents, and the citizenry will be afraid to express themselves honestly to their friends and family for fear that their words will be used against them in the public square.
Could it be that anyone who doesn't vote for the PLP will be victimized after the election, if they happen to send an email or WhatsApp indicating who they voted for?
And then there is the financial services industry, which exists to provide privacy to clients. It is the second pillar of our economy and it is already suffering, with banks preferring to set up shop in Switzerland, Cayman or any other offshore banking haven. How many jobs will this spy bill cost that vital industry?
Why is the PLP poking this wasp nest at all? They are in a good position to contest the next election, despite their abysmal performance in office because, for now at least, the opposition remains divided and a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Why did they try and sneak it into Parliament on the quiet and rush it through without public consultation?
How are members of the public not supposed to come to the conclusion that the whole point of this exercise is to give them a powerful tool for spying on political opponents in the run-up to election?
Well, they don't have to spy on me because I will tell the whole country: Thanks to this spy bill, I'm voting FNM.
- Molly King
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February 20, 2017
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), the party which I fully support, made a terrible tactical decision back in 2012, when our operatives erected huge billboards across New Providence which sought to bring attention to the horrific number of alleged homicides perpetuated under the FNM's watch leading up to the general election of that year.
At the time it seemed "cute" and an effective way to highlight the rising trend of serious crimes at that juncture. Mind you, the billboards were just what the doctor may have ordered, but, in hindsight, we, the PLP, made a tactical error of the highest order. Crime and the fear of crime have retarded the growth of our national and personal development.
We are spending tens of millions of dollars on court houses, manpower and other resources, but the results are dismal at best. We are not, I submit, receiving value for money. I am not one to engage in the senseless blame game, which seems to be playing out between society, the police and the politician. There is no one single answer to the plague of crime and there is little, if anything, anyone is able to do to contain the fear of crime. It is what it is.
Many of us are wringing our collective hands and bemoaning the fact that we seem to have lost our fundamental traditions and societal mores. In short, many of our younger people, and some not-too-old ones, have evolved into nasty, brutish beasts with absolutely no regard for God, much less man. This evolution was predicted decades ago by the late, great and indomitable Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling. Many thought that he was talking out of his head, but time has proven him correct.
The barbarians, back in the day at any given time, could have been the Huns or the Germanic tribes, who at various junctures invaded and over-ran Europe and the so-called Western world on a regular basis. They raped, pilfered and destroyed with abandonment. The barbarians, of our own making, are now at our collective gates here in New Providence and parts of Grand Bahama. These are the only two inhabited islands where we seem to have hot spots of crime.
I hate to say it, but bad news should and must always be faced head-on. The bad news is that a large majority of our younger people is anti-social. Many of them are intellectually dumb and are prone to emulate what they consider to be a bling-bling lifestyle with all of the negatives that go with the same. They will lash out to assault someone, be it man, woman, boy or girl, with impunity. It would not be in your best interest to yuck up some of their vexations because you could end up as another homicide stat.
The barbarians are now at the gate, and the question is, how do we stop them? It would be impossible to do so. They have already infiltrated our midst and until they eliminate each other the bloody carnage will go on unabated. It is as simple as that. Political barbarians are also at the gate.
We all remember how Dr. Hubert Minnis ranted and raved against Renward Wells (PLP-Bamboo Town) a few years ago. He (Minnis) demanded answers from Wells and the PLP administration about the letter of intent. One would think that by now Wells would have told Minnis about what went down. Now that Wells is in Minnis' orbit, not a word from either of them. Misleading the electorate? It starts at the top, across the board.
The average law-abiding citizen and resident has very little to fear about crime, and unless one is in the wrong place at the wrong time, it is highly unlikely that you'd become a stat. The prime minister is my political leader and an individual whom I greatly admire. Similarly, Dr. Bernard Nottage (PLP-Bains Town and Grants Town), our minister of national security, is a stand up guy. They are wrong, however, in their assessments on crime and their knee-jerk reactions, with all due respect.
We do not have a "Wild West" in our wonderful country. That was a bad choice of words on the part of my beloved and visionary leader. I am sure that he innocently uttered those words in a moment of speaking off the cuff, which, at this electoral season, conveyed the wrong message to the average Bahamian. Nottage says that he is going to call out the officers of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to assist in the fight against crime. This is dead wrong along with his suggestions of restricting the free movement of citizens and residents.
Nottage's suggestions, while sounding good, will not solve anything except to create more legal work for hot-shot lawyers, who will challenge such legislation as unconstitutional. In addition, the police or defense force officers cannot possibly cover every square foot of our islands. The commissioner has bad public relations skills and he, too, is prone to dramatics and platitudes. He is "too cute" for his own good, in my opinion.
Now, he and the PM appear to be publicly feuding and talking over each other's heads. This is wrong and can only negatively impact my party, the PLP. The PM should immediately do two things: call a national prayer service in conjunction with the so-called religious leaders and civil society for Fort Charlotte, and call a national conclave with all political parties, stakeholders and other Bahamians of good will to, again, discuss and dissect the causes of crime and come up with workable and, if necessary, draconian adjustments to the Bail Act.
Other than this, the PM, with all due respect, needs to make a guest appearance on Real Talk Live Prime Time sooner rather than later. Yes, the barbarians are at the gate, but in all things, even this, to God be the glory.
- Ortland H. Bodie Jr.
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February 20, 2017
Our neighbor to the north, the United States, is navigating politically dangerous times. It has an occupant in the White House in President Donald Trump, who was aided in getting there by Russia, according to American intelligence agencies. It is unclear where the Russian scandal will take the country. Some are referencing Watergate, but the comparison is premature at this time.
Trump has been under constant assault by the media and those opposed to him regarding his ties, and those of his associates, to Moscow. Trump is a fighter, however. He calls the media dishonest - though untruths are uttered by members of his administration nearly every day - and lashes out regularly.
It is common for politicians to dislike the media. We see it here in The Bahamas. The last two administrations have accused us of unfairness.
Politicians and the media are supposed to have an adversarial relationship. Our democratic system envisions the free press as a restraint on the power of government and other dominant interests. Journalists should be skeptical. They should ask tough questions. They should be provocative. Tyranny descends when power is consolidated, when it is unchallenged and unquestioned.
The media do not always get it right. The media are not always fair. The media are not always focused on the most important things. But without an independent media, democracy would crumble, quickly.
When Trump tweeted on Friday that the news media are "the enemy of the American people" he did something injurious to the 240-year-old republic. His words were an attempt to delegitimize the media as part of the democratic equation.
Senator John McCain said accurately that efforts to sideline the media are how dictatorships get started.
Here in The Bahamas, we must be thankful for, and fight to protect, our free press. We have four dailies, a popular tabloid, more than 20 radio licenses and three TV news broadcasters. All these media exist in a country of only 350,000.
We have a vibrant public sphere where matters are debated; where dissent is expressed; where power is brought to account; where state policy can be altered or stopped.
We must never believe that any person is greater than democracy. There must be a separation of state powers all watched over by a free press and the rule of law in order to help prevent one person or a select few from ruling in the most abusive manner.
When politicians ask citizens to ignore their media and not to trust them, the citizens are being led down the path to ruin. They end up taking the people's resources, their freedoms and, in extreme cases, their lives.
We are in election season. You read, hear and see the debate for power. Feel proud that this exists in your country. Feel proud you have the vote. But temper that pride with vigilance. We the people are the protectors of our own freedoms. We constantly must fight to ensure the gains are maintained and that there are future expansions of liberty.
We hope our American friends do not choose Trump over their media. In doing so they would choose a dangerous demagogue over democracy.
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February 20, 2017
"The power of the ballot we need in sheer defense, else what shall save us from a second slavery?" - W.E.B. Du Bois
History is replete with democratic societies whose social and political developments have been punctuated by decades-long, hard-fought battles to gain the right to vote. This was evident in the case of the British suffragettes, who won the right to vote in the 1830s, their American counterparts who achieved the same right in 1920, African-Americans in the 19th century and our own suffragettes, who won the right to vote for the first time in the 1962 general election.
Recently, several University of The Bahamas professors suggested that Bahamians should consider spoiling their ballots in the upcoming general election. Therefore, this week we would like to Consider this... In the Bahamian context, does it make any sense to spoil our ballots?
What did the professors suggest?
Two prominent University of The Bahamas professors have launched a "spoil your ballot campaign". While they are encouraging people to register to vote, one of the professors maintains that
""there are a lot of people out there who are just so sick of what is going on, they don't want to register at all. You do not have to pick one of the choices that are given to you".
The professor continues: "In a democracy, voting is one part of that, and I think we should take full advantage of that. But I also believe that if we are supposed to make a choice, we should have a valid choice. We should at least be given a valid choice. So, if your subjective opinion is that you do not have a valid choice, our message is don't stay home. Go register, go vote, and vote for nobody.
"The difference between going out and spoiling a vote and staying home and not voting, or not registering to vote at all is that the spoiled vote will be counted."
The fallacies of the arguments
The first fallacy of the argument for spoiling the ballot lies in the false premise about the persons from whom the selection should be made. Their objection is that, at the general election, we should be given a "valid choice". Precisely what does that mean? The fact of the matter is that, on every ballot, valid choices are presented. One may not like the choices, one may not even think those choices are deserving of your vote, but they are the choices, and they are valid inasmuch as they have satisfied the requirements under our laws to have been nominated.
Secondly, if the spoiled ballot supporters are so opposed to the standard-bearers that the parties have advanced, then they should get more actively involved in the electoral process. They should get themselves, or candidates who they believe are more congruent with their thinking, ideology and vision for The Bahamas, nominated to run for office.
Third, the political system that we enjoy here is the only one that we have. It has evolved over many decades and has generally served us well. If those who would have us spoil our ballots are genuinely interested in advancing our democracy, they would be far more effective to the body politic if they would actively participate, instead of taking the intellectually dishonest approach of playing the role of the "all-knowing" Monday morning quarterback. If you don't like the system and really want to change the system, then try rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands and feet into the thick of the challenges that our democracy has to offer.
Fourth, if you spoil your ballot, you have no voice. It is therefore intellectually dishonest and inherently disingenuous to suggest that your voice will be heard by spoiling your ballot.
The most disappointing thing about the proponents of the "spoil your ballot" campaign is that they are teachers of young, impressionable, fertile, enquiring minds of students at the University of The Bahamas. Equally disappointing is that one of the proponents is a female activist who should be encouraging as many persons as possible not only to register to vote, but to vote for the candidate who seems most informed and best poised to move the country forward, without reference to one political party or another.
Honoring our forebears
Millions the world over, have endured much blood, sweat and tears over the centuries to earn the right to vote for all free men and women. Many have died in the journey to universal suffrage because the right to vote was considered so elemental to the development of democratic societies.
Even today, we still hear reports of voter suppression, a practice where those in authority seek to disenfranchise persons in order to influence and control the outcome of an election. We also hear reports of those who are still fighting to remove that kind of suppression and establish voting freedom, the kind we enjoy and, in some cases, take for granted here in The Bahamas.
It is always desirable to find perfection in a candidate, but in reality we, the voter, must often sacrifice our "ideal" candidate for one who may be less than perfect but still possesses some attributes we are looking for in a representative. It is really up to us to stay involved after an election and hold our elected officials accountable to the goals we believe in.
Therefore, we encourage all civic-minded, patriotic persons who want to see an improvement in their country, to register and to vote for the candidate who you believe best represents those ideas and ideals that are more closely aligned to your own. If that means casting your vote for a PLP candidate, then so be it. If you feel that the FNM has the best candidate, then give that candidate your vote. The same is equally true of the DNA candidate. If that person best represents your views on national development, then vote DNA.
It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to spoil your ballot. Spoiled ballots will be counted as that - spoiled ballots - and, in the aggregate, will elect not one single member to Parliament. The spoiled ballot cannot put your case in Parliament. Your voice will vanish and your objections will be obliterated.
It is time for the voices of maturity in this society to do all that they can to elevate the debate. It is time to educate and assist those who are confused, disappointed and disaffected by some of the disappointing and unimpressive candidates who have been selected, to be the standard-bearers of all the political parties.
It is not the time to take the easy path, to stop listening to the debates and cease learning about the issues and the candidates. It is time to exercise our responsibility as citizens, study the choices and decide between those candidates.
And now is definitely not the time to fail our nation by failing to make a choice at the ballot box by marking an X next to a name, thereby living up to our hard-won privilege as citizens who have been entrusted to move this nation forward, onward and upward.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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February 19, 2017
The government will prevent the feeding of Exuma's swimming pigs by visitors following the recent deaths of seven pigs on Big Major Cay, according to Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources V. Alfred Gray.
Tourists and locals alike visit the Exuma Cays to swim with the pigs and feed them.
One of the pigs' owners, Wayde Nixon, told The Nassau Guardian yesterday, "The pigs were given the wrong food.
"... We had the government vet in there [who] examined them all thoroughly.
"He gave them shots, he gave them medicine, and I was there and I worked with them for three days straight."
Nixon said about 15 of the pigs are still alive.
"This incident is not going to stop people being able to come to the island," he added.
"The other remaining pigs are alive and healthy and out on the beach and going.
"But it's just that me and my partner (Don Rolle) are dealing with the government to regulate it now.
"... We had them pigs there almost 30 years, and never has this happened before, but now we are going to have to regulate it.
"Right now it's blowing out of proportion with people, anybody bringing food there, anybody doing what they [want to] do.
"We have people coming there giving the pigs beer, rum, riding on top of them, all kind of stuff.
"That never happened, but lately [it has] because it's so big, and we are never really there all the time.
"Now I will have my son and my partner's son and we will regulate it, and they will be working there, and we will have permission from the government to do it the right way so we won't have this problem anymore."
Gray said there is a need for a boundary around the pigs, which currently swim up to boats as they approach.
"... If we have boundary lines, the people will be able to take photographs and see the pigs swim, all of that," he said.
"But they will not be able to feed them things."
Gray said his ministry has partnered with the Ministry of Tourism on the matter and will "seek to implement that as soon as is practical to do so".
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February 19, 2017
The Ministry of Tourism's (MOT) "Da Bahamian Ting" Song Competition attracted scores of talented singers, songwriters and musicians from throughout The Islands of The Bahamas.
On February 17, members of MOT's Culture and Heritage Department counted 124 submissions.
The deadline for submissions was 5:00 p.m.
"The response was overwhelming," said Director of Culture and Heritage Tourism Arlene Nash-Ferguson. "We are so pleased that so many Bahamians are creating Rake 'n' Scrape, Junkanoo and Goombay music with such passion. This proves that our creative community is still committed to preserving and promoting the rich cultural heritage of The Bahamas.
"What is even more encouraging is that artists were only allowed to submit one song. So these are 124 individuals creating music of a traditional Bahamian genre," Nash-Ferguson added.
The esteemed judges now have their work cut out for them, having to narrow the talented field down to 20 semi-finalists. Those semi-finalists will be announced during a special happy hour event in Pompey Square on March 3 at 5:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
The panel of judges will choose the top 20 songs based on the following criteria:
o Songs must be in a Bahamian genre, Rake 'n' Scrape, Goombay or Junkanoo, and around three minutes long.
After the 20 semi-finalists are announced, members of the public will choose the top 10 by voting online, via text messaging and by submitting their favorite online.
The winner will be announced on April 21.
The winner of "Da Bahamian Ting" will receive $25,000 with second place taking $20,000, third place $15,000, fourth place $10,000 and fifth through 10th will receive $1,000 each.
The top 20 songs will receive much exposure and airtime, and will be used in Ministry of Tourism campaigns locally and globally.
The goal of the competition is to showcase talented Bahamian artists and musicians. It also aims to create a more vibrant music industry that fuels job creation, economic growth, tourism development, artistic growth, and strengthens the country's brand.
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February 19, 2017
Failure is only the direct result of not applying hard work and choosing to maximize your potential, according to Queen's College senior Lakia Rolle.
The 17-year-old was recently awarded the Paul L. Adderley Award for the best Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) overall performance in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas in 2016; and the Carol Hanna Award for best overall performance for independent schools.
Rolle sat 12 senior national examinations as an 11th grade student. She earned 11 A grades and one C grade.
For her efforts, she also received a check, a laptop and a plaque.
"You should never give up," said Rolle. "Failure is not an option, and it only happens when you give up. You only fail when you don't try, so never give up. You have to realize that the sky is not the limit -- there are footprints on the moon," she said.
Rolle was announced as the top student of the national examinations at the 24th annual national awards presentation, held on Monday, February 13 at the William Johnson Auditorium, Church of God Convention Centre, Joe Farrington Road.
"I am so elated and overjoyed to know that all of my hard work has paid off," she said. "There has been a standard set at Queen's College where you can't help but to want to not only achieve what those that came before you have achieved, but supersede those accomplishments. I remember being as young as eighth grade, and I remember aspiring to wanting to be the top in the country. I wanted to defy the odds, so my sights were always set on being the top student," she said.
The QC student boasts a 3.75 cumulative grade point average (GPA).
With her national examinations squared away, she's focused on doing her best in the five AP courses she's enrolled in for her final year; they are psychology, human geography, English literature and composition, Spanish language and culture and calculus.
Rolle sat the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) last year and scored a 1,560. She wants to better that score this year.
"I want to better it, because I realize how competitive it is as it relates to scholarships and even being accepted into schools, and I really want to further my education."
The teen has her sights set on studying biology and international business.
"Growing up I never imagined myself doing anything else besides being a doctor. I like to serve people and feel that serving people through that means will give me the utmost joy. And as it relates to international business, I also love being a delegate for change, and using who I am to help my country, and I feel that being able to pursue that degree would afford me the opportunity to better my country," she said.
She has cast her net far and wide, applying to 10 colleges. She refused to fall victim to the problem of only applying to one or two schools and not getting into any.
"I decided early on that I wanted to keep my options open and made sure that all of the schools I applied to had a great science program, and a great business program, so that even if I decided to switch my major I would be able to transition into what would be comfortable for me," she said.
Rolle is also applying for scholarships wherever she can to ensure that she has the means to afford higher education. She credits her parents, Lionel and Marvia Rolle, for instilling excellence in education in her. When she thinks about all they've done for her, she said, she always gets emotional.
"I realize the sacrifices they've had to make to get me to where I am today. They have also instilled morals -- both Christian and civic in me that I know I will take throughout my life," said Rolle.
The academic achiever also manages to balance a heavy extracurricular activity schedule that has her involved in Junior Achievement; female empowerment club The Queen in Me; and the school's basketball and soccer teams. She is also president of the Christian Youth Movement at her church.
"I'm definitely heavily involved and busy, but for me it's all about balance, maximizing my potential and realizing that I'm only in high school for a little while, and I have to make an impact on not only myself, but the people around me."
Candis Petty, a graduate of C.R. Walker Senior School, who now attends the University of The Bahamas was the recipient of the Majorie Davis Award for best overall performance in the 2016 BGCSE examinations for government schools. She earned eight A grades, two B grades and two C grades.
Carmetta Barry, who last year was a student at H.O. Nash Junior School, was named the candidate with the overall best Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) results for government schools. She also received the best BJC results in The Bahamas for 2016. She received eight A grades and two B grades.
Bahamas Academy's Jodi Garcia was named the 2016 independent school candidate with the best BJC overall results. She earned eight A grades.
Luke Knowles, of Long Island's N.G.M. Major School, was the government school male candidate with overall best BJC results for 2016. He earned seven A grades and two B grades.
While individual honors were meted out at the award ceremony, a number of schools were recognized for excellent results in the BJC and BGCSE by their overall student body, including St. Augustine's College, Queen's College, H.O. Nash, Forest Heights Academy, C.H. Reeves and D.W. Davis.
As students were rewarded for excellence in national examinations, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald urged educators and students to remain focused to ensure that, at the end of the day, they give themselves the best opportunity to succeed.
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February 19, 2017
Shanando Moss has always wanted to work with his hands, and appears to be on his way to fulfilling that dream as a student of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute's (BTVI) dual enrollment program studying in the trade career path.
"I want to be an electrical engineer, so I am learning more about what I want to do in life," said Moss. "Currently, we are learning about electricity. I am using this as an opportunity, and I intend to come back in September for a year before hopefully going off to school."
Moss, 16, is one of 42 12th grade Anatol Rodgers High School students whose parents have agreed for them to be enrolled in the 15-week program.
"The class atmosphere is easy to learn in. The teacher, Mr. [David] Barry, makes a difference," he said.
The 25 females in the program are studying introduction to cosmetology, which includes topics such as hair analysis, beauty culture science and communicable diseases.
The young men in the trade career path classes are introduced to the fundamentals of several construction trades, including electrical installation, plumbing, masonry, carpentry, heating ventilation and air conditioning, welding, and painting and decorating.
During the almost four-month course, students spend Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at BTVI.
The program is designed to give high school students a jumpstart on post secondary education.
"The nature of the dual enrollment program eases them into college life, allowing them to immerse themselves and adjust to the work. It gives them a degree of independence," said Leroy Sumner BTVI's associate vice president of academic affairs.
"Even their parents are excited. And they won't have to make application for enrollment again. If we get them early enough, more and more of them may want to come to BTVI to complete their education. Since starting, other schools have started calling -- even in Andros and other Family Islands. It's a wonderful program designed to develop a pathway to assist students in learning a trade and earning a living," said Sumner.
Barr, the trade career path instructor, said the course helps students identify the trade they are most interested in pursuing for their lives.
He spoke highly of the students.
"This is a good group. They are very quiet. They are mannerly. They get right into their work and clean up afterwards. When I arrived, they were in here working," said Barry.
Antonique Sullivan, 16, says she finds cosmetology interesting, but says she is still trying to determine her passion.
"There is the possibility of me returning to BTVI to study cosmetology. This is a great opportunity. Not much people get to experience this while in school. It's interesting. I feel more responsible," said Sullivan.
Miriam Peet, 17, is absent from classes in math, Bahama Host, French, English and religious studies on Fridays, but ensures she catches up on any missed work.
"The majority of our teachers understands and gives us the work. For Bahama Host, we have extra classes. For others, we get what we will miss that Thursday or on that Monday when we return. I'm able to keep up, balancing the workload," she said.
Being able to keep up, she said, makes her feel accomplished.
Cosmetology instructor, Monique A. Marshall, said she was pleased with the students' performance.
"The girls are understanding the work. They conduct themselves very well and are interactive," said Marshall.
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February 19, 2017
This article was written not long after the substantial win of the United States (U.S.) presidential election by businessman Donald Trump. Now as the whole world knows, when Donald Trump first announced his decision to run in the 2016 U.S. presidential election as a Republican, he had a whole lot of detractors, including within the Republican Party. Actually he has apparently no experience whatsoever in government and was just one out of a very large field of senators and government officials, including governors of states, etc.
Most people, including the media, didn't think he had a chance in hell as that well-known saying puts it. Of course he was mocked by people in his own party and by members of the Democratic Party. However after the primaries he emerged as the winner and then became the Republican candidate for the presidency.
Of course he still had his detractors and those who did everything to weaken his bid to become president, including an extremely biased, hostile media. So how come with so many being against him and doing their utmost to beat him, did he actually win? Well obviously he ran a great campaign, which was very effective. But my friend, the number one thing that Donald Trump had going for him, was his total belief that he would win in the end and he managed to do just that.
Yes indeed, as the title of today's article simply and succinctly puts it, belief is everything when it comes to being successful. That's right, whatever your goals in life are, you must believe implicitly in your ability to achieve them in a given time frame. As they say, to he that believes, all things are possible. Yes they are, and Donald Trump, like him or not, is living proof of this.
o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.
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February 19, 2017
Prime Minister Perry Christie toured the newly renovated Bahamas Football Association (BFA) National Beach Soccer Facility on Saturday, ahead of this week's CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Beach Soccer Championships. The $2.5 million facility, built on the site of the original complex at Malcolm Park, has a seating capacity of about 3,500 and is equipped with a number of modern amenities.
The CONCACAF Championships will serve as a qualifier and test event for the upcoming International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) Beach Soccer World Cup, which will be held at the facility from April 27 to May 7, and will feature 16 teams from around the world. As for the CONCACAF Championships, competition will run from today through Sunday.
"In terms of this facility, I want to congratulate this young Bahamian designer, Bruce Lefleur Jr. for executing the vision in a wonderful way," said Prime Minister Christie. "I think it is critical that Bahamians come to understand the significance of this stadium and the events that it will host. We are actually moving to another dimension in offering the world and the region facilities that are second to none. Many years ago, I indicated to Minister [Obie] Wilchcombe, in his first stint as Minister of Tourism, that we had to commit to sports tourism. The Bahamas has truly demonstrated our capacity internationally, and we had to broaden and deepen our involvement. For me, I am so pleased to see that we have reached that stage."
Although he will be in attendance this week to see how the stadium and its functions perform under pressure, Christie said that he's also looking forward to seeing the high-level competition up close.
"I have to come and see this, simply to see how men can run on sand without falling down. This is truly a test of stamina," Christie said. "This is going to be competitive. I am really pleased and really want to congratulate the construction company and the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson for being involved at the highest level."
The teams representing the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) this week are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the U.S. Virgin islands. Teams representing North America will be from Canada, Mexico and the United States, and teams representing the Central American Football Union (UNCAF) will be Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama.
Two CONCACAF teams will join The Bahamas as the three representatives in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017. If The Bahamas finishes in the top two at the CONCACAF Championships, the third place team will qualify along with the other top two teams.
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February 19, 2017
The Brigham Young University (BYU) Cougars men's basketball team hosted its senior night on Saturday when they took on number 22 nationally ranked Saint Mary's University. However, the team's two seniors couldn't play due to injury. One of those seniors was a native of The Bahamas - L.J. Rose - and the other was Kyle Davis.
Rose underwent surgery on Monday to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee, and according to BYU Head Coach Dave Rose, it's unlikely that he'll return this season, bringing his collegiate career to a close. He needs at least four to five weeks to recover.
"We will kind of go through it with team doctors and see what the possibilities are, but it looks like it is probably a four to five week recovery period, and that it is possible, but we will see," Coach Rose said.
Rose transferred to BYU from Houston, and to Houston from Baylor. The graduate transfer earned his degree in health at Houston and was immediately able to suit up for BYU. Rose started all 25 games he played in this season, and averaged 5.5 points, 4.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds for BYU.
Although he was only with the team a few months, Coach Rose said that he made a lasting impression on the team. Rose and Davis were both named team captains in December.
"L.J. was a guy who put a lot of confidence in us, and he came and got hurt early, but kind of made it through, and helped us," Coach Rose said. "He helped us a ton, started 25 games for us. So these are both guys who were really valuable and important to this team. It is just kind of a shame that they haven't been able to finish it like they would have liked to."
Sophomore guard Eric Mika said that playing with Rose was an experience that was second to none.
"L.J. is one of the best teammates I've ever had," Mika said. "He's so knowledgeable of the game and so positive. By coming through and overcoming a lot, they both have brought real maturity to the locker room."
Apart from Rose and the Cougars, several other teams that feature Bahamian players were in action over the weekend.
Michael Carey and the Wagner College Seahawks knocked off St. Francis 73-55. Carey didn't attempt a shot in the game, but finished with three rebounds in 11 minutes of action.
Tavario Miller and his Texas A&M Aggies defeated Auburn 81-62. In four minutes of action, Miller had two points and two rebounds.
Shaquille Cleare and the Texas Longhorns fell 64-61 to the Kansas State Wildcats. Cleare finished with four points on 1-for-3 shooting from the field. He also pulled down five rebounds.
In Big Ten Conference action, Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn and the Michigan State Spartans fell 80-63 to No. 16 Purdue. Nairn finished with two points, five assists and four rebounds, and in American Athletic Conference play, the SMU (Southern Methodist University) Mustangs topped Danrad "Chicken" Knowles and the Houston Cougars 76-66. Knowles played 13 minutes and pulled down two rebounds.
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February 19, 2017
New Orleans Pelicans' shooting guard Chavano "Buddy" Hield put on a show for his home crowd on Friday in the BBVA Bank Rising Stars Game, one of the newest additions to the National Basketball Association's (NBA) All-Star Weekend.
The game featured the top rookie and sophomore players in the league, and for the second year in a row, it pitted Team USA up against Team World.
Freeport native Hield scored 28 points for Team World, as they knocked off the United States 150-141. Denver Nuggets' guard Jamal Murray, who hails from Canada, led the way for them with 36 points. He was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the game.
"It was a lot of fun," Hield said about the exhibition game. "It means a lot to play in New Orleans. Everybody is embracing it, the atmosphere and us. I just wanted to go out and give the fans something good to watch."
Hield had 19 of his 26 points at the half, which allowed his team to take a 77-66 lead at the break. His first half was highlighted by an alley-oop dunk off a three-quarter-court pass from Murray.
"I was just out there having fun," Hield said.
With just over 20 games remaining in the regular season, Hield hopes he can use this game as a springboard to finish the season on a strong note. The Pelicans currently sit with a win/loss record of 23-34 and are in 11th place in the NBA's Western Conference.
"I feel like when you get a lot of confidence and start to shoot the ball well and you start having fun and feel comfortable out there, it will loosen you up a little more. I've just got to keep getting better and use it as a major boost to the second half and continue to shoot the ball well."
Hield is averaging 8.6 points, 1.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game during the Pelicans' first 57 games of the season. He's shooting 39.2 percent from the field, but is knocking it down from three-point land at a decent rate of 36.9 percent.
Since Hield was inserted into the starting line-up in December, his statistics have gone up.
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February 19, 2017
During the 1950s when Stafford Sands recognized the value of Bahamian entertainers, led at the time by the crooner/calypso specialist and ultra musician George Symonette, The Bahamas' tourism brand began to take shape.
Sands, the "father of tourism", maintained his close connection to the Bahamian entertainment industry during the early and mid 1960s and showcased them to the world to attract visitors to this country. He understood that the entertainers were largely responsible for repeat visitors. In subsequent years, through different central administrations, tourism ministers followed Sir Stafford's lead to an appreciable degree and The Bahamas' tourism brand became cemented. Now, we have in place The Bahamas' sports brand, which is poised to propel this nation as tourism has for many years.
While our organized sports program has, since the 1930s, figured prominently in the growth of this nation, the true potential of the commodity was never fully realized. There was always some deterrent or another.
A case in point is the large body of work done by Neville Wisdom when he was Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture. He got near to consummating an arrangement with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for The Bahamas to be the base country for that organization's Hall of Fame. Wisdom got the planning to the point whereby a prospective location for the IAAF Hall of Fame was selected in Sandyport, New Providence, and toured by then IAAF President Lamine Diack. The IAAF chief also visited first-time Prime Minister Perry Christie and got his blessing.
Lo and behold, general elections came, the Christie government lost power and Wisdom's plan, a magnificent one, was aborted, cancelled I believe, without even the slightest review.
Much has happened otherwise though in sports, from that time. Subsequent governments have paid significant attention to the furtherance of the national sports profile. The present government however, with Dr. Daniel Johnson at the helm for its sports focus, made large strides. The Bahamas became a sports host nation of note. One of the prize events (Commonwealth Youth Games) endorsed by this government, is scheduled for after the general elections of 2017. The view here is that no matter what happens at elections time, continuing The Bahamas' sports brand should be a national focus.
If the second Perry Christie governance gets extended into a third term, Dr. Johnson who is taking a sabbatical from frontline politics, will not be there, but hopefully whoever becomes the sports minister recognizes the importance to this country of its sports brand.
The same goes for whoever gets appointed sports minister, if there is a government other than the present one when May of this year closes out. Though far from perfect and guilty of oversights, tardiness and some unreasonable actions, regarding sports, this government has fostered the brand like no other.
The Bahamas' sports brand is entrenched as a marketing item for the country. Therefore, the challenge going forward, after Dr. Johnson leaves the sports scene, will be continuity of the sports brand push.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com)
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