Opinion

The extra mile

May 29, 2017

I overheard someone at a business establishment state the following, "I'm not going to knock myself out for these people," -- referring of course to his employers. "They don't pay me enough." When I heard him say that I shuddered in disbelief. Firstly, with that kind of attitude, believe me, a person can never hope to succeed. Well why should I knock myself out D. Paul, after all these people for whom I work don't pay me very much you may say with an extremely negative, annoyed look on your countenance.
Well my friend, I can guarantee you that those people who succeed in life are those who not only do the work they're paid for, but they also, as today's title puts it, go the extra mile. I'm quite sure you've heard business advertisements stating that they go above and beyond what is required of them to ensure that their customers are treated well. This, of course, makes sense for any business that wants to build its customer base and have them return again and again to that business to buy products and/or services.
Yes my friend, the individuals and businesses that do not understand the philosophy of going the "extra mile" will not get too far in life, believe me. This of course applies across the board, in family relationships, with one's spouse or significant other, and the children. It applies in sports, as those who succeed in this field, no matter what the particular sport may be, also go the "extra mile".
So my friend, as you begin your day today, no matter what you'll be doing -- going to work, staying at home, going to school -- whatever it is you'll be involved with today, I suggest that you make a determined effort to go the "extra mile" with everything you undertake, and believe me, you'll have an ultra-successful day. I guarantee it.

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

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Grammy's ol' house

May 29, 2017

"Time marches on. The young get old, and the old get cold, time marches on." - (Bahamian song)

It's amazing how we think that, because we live in a high-tech world, all those things that worked "back in the day" don't work anymore. But they do. And some of them just might be the key to making houses built today more comfortable and less costly.
Think about this. When you visited your grammy in Exuma or Eleuthera or Grant's Town or Sear's Addition, what did you find? You found a house that was cool to be in, easy to live in and fun to play around. You thought the way your grammy and her neighbors lived was way more friendly and neighborly than you see today with all the technology for keeping in touch. You noticed that it didn't matter whether it was your grammy's house or your friend's grammy's house, even when they looked different, they were all cool and fun and neighborly. How come?
Well, there were two things the old people knew that we don't seem to know today: You have to keep the sun out of the house, and you have to let the breeze in.
Keeping the sun out meant never letting the sun hit any of the doors or windows directly. The two ways they did that were with the porch and the push-out shutter. The porch was the most incredible invention. You might call it the first "multi-purpose space". While keeping the sun away from the doors and windows, it was a place for small children to play, older children to listen to "old stories", young adults to court and Grammy to watch the children play, talk to the neighbors and wait for Grampy to come around the corner from work. The porch was not only shade, but it was the greatest social invention of our time.
The push-out shutter also did double or triple duty. It kept the sun away from the window while allowing the window to stay open during bad weather, so the house could remain cool, so you could smell that sweet, fresh air. It also made it easy to prepare for the inevitable storm and to shut the building down when there was a need for security, like going away. Between these two devices, the sun was effectively banned from the house.
Letting the breeze in was a little trickier. The way it was done was called "cross-ventilation". The idea was that you let the breeze in on one side of the house, and out on the other, letting it take with it any stale or foul air, smoke from the kerosene stove and the lingering smell of too much "body water", while cooling the inside of the house. To make this happen, you had to have windows on opposite sides of the house and a path that allowed the air to get across. In some cases, this meant the inside walls did not go to the roof and there was no ceiling. In other cases, there were grilles or louvres built into the space above door heads. In many cases, the buildings were designed to be only one or two rooms deep. Old builders knew how to do this, so whether it was a tiny or a huge house, you could expect to feel a breeze most of the time.
For those times when the breeze was too "light", most people had their fans. Larger or wealthier houses had ceiling fans. Others had the more mobile table fans. But these were the back-up to cross-ventilation.
Today, because we think of those houses as old, we have forgotten the lessons they taught us. And we pay for it in high power bills, isolation from one another and houses that are just not fun to live in. Houses may get old, but the lessons they teach us should not be allowed to get cold. The price is way too high.

Patrick Rahming & Associates is a full service design firm providing architectural, planning and design services throughout The Bahamas and the northern Caribbean. Visit Pat Rahming & Associates online at www.pradesigns.com and like its Facebook page.

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Why the FNM won the 2017 election, pt. 1

May 29, 2017

"In democracy, every election is a learning process. You learn from every election, the one that you win and the one that you lose. And then you prepare for the next one." - Salman Khurshid

The general election of 2017 is history, and the Free National Movement (FNM) has handily vanquished the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). We believe that the 2017 election will be studied by political pundits, students of politics and change analysts for many years to come.
Notwithstanding the assertions by some in the PLP that too much time should not be devoted to analyzing what went wrong, we strongly believe that anyone who does not learn from their mistakes is bound to repeat them. Hence, serious, sober and soul-searching scrutiny is absolutely essential. Furthermore, a prospective review of this election, without its historical context, will not afford future generations of Bahamians an essential frame of reference within which these elections took place.
Therefore, this week, we would like to Consider this... Why did the FNM win the general election of 2017?

The truth of the matter
The simple, but factual, truth of the matter is that the FNM won the general election because it was perceived by the majority of Bahamians as the lesser of two evils. It was not so much because of any great love or admiration for the FNM. Nor was it so much because of any deep and abiding faith in Hubert Minnis' ability to lead the country. There were many who were not impressed by either choice, and the DNA was not even factored into many persons' consciousness as a viable alternative.
Across the length and breadth of this country, very many strong, long-standing PLP supporters, and an even more significant number of undecided voters, had completely lost faith in the Christie administration, including some of Christie's ministers who did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, without any kind of sanction whatsoever from their leader.
Akin to that reality was the prevalent sentiment that the country could not withstand another five years of a Christie administration. Door after door, house after house, and voter after voter, PLP candidates were accosted by voters who maintained: "I really like you as a candidate, and I believe that you would be a good representative in Parliament, but if I vote for you, that would be a vote for Mr. Christie, and that is something that I cannot bring myself to do. So, I'm sorry, but this time I cannot support the PLP." Hence, in very large numbers, so said, so done.
So disgusted, disappointed and disaffected were some voters that a "spoiled ballot" movement emerged from several prominent University of The Bahamas professors. For the first time in Bahamian history, the right to vote, which was fought so hard for by the Peoples' Party, the PLP, the Suffragettes and others was questioned by a large number of undecideds, who, up to election day, were uncertain about how they would vote because of the meager choices before them.
In the final analysis, however, voters decided that it was their civic duty to vote the PLP out of office and to retire not only Christie, but all but two of his Cabinet colleagues.
In the next few columns, we will examine how a government that five years earlier had taken office in a landslide victory in terms of the number of Parliamentary seats so quickly fell from grace with the electorate.

PLP promises of 2012
In its 2012 general election campaign, the PLP's platform proffered a plethora of promises to the Bahamian people. The PLP promised that it was poised to govern on day one. It pledged to significantly reduce the level of crime that had plagued the society under the FNM's preceding term in office, promising to reduce the record number of murders. In contrast, for the next three years after being elected, the murder rate achieved a higher record than in each of the preceding years under the FNM.
The PLP promised that it would create 10,000 jobs in record time. Unlike its predecessor in office, the PLP promised to put Bahamians first. The party would also mobilize and utilize its young, new candidates to address many of the problems that were created and left unresolved by the FNM. That never happened. In fact, many of the newly elected members were side-stepped and side-lined.
In addition, Christie publicly announced that he would only serve a few years of his term as prime minister, and that, before the end of the term, he would hand over the leadership of the PLP to a successor. Proclaiming to be the "bridge to the future", after nearly 20 years of leadership of the PLP, he would willingly begin that future by passing the baton to a new party leader.
In 2012, Bahamians believed those promises and decided to give Christie his final opportunity to govern after five years in opposition.

The gaming referendum
Shortly after coming to office in 2012, the government decided to take the bold step of legalizing the domestic gaming industry. Although this was a noble objective, its practical application was fraught with problems.
First, the prime minister indicated that, in the upcoming referendum to address this, he "had no horse in the race," and that he would abide by the wishes of the electorate in a referendum that was held in January 2013. That was a fatal mistake.
The prime minister, who was also the minister of finance, could have explained that, if the country allowed this illegal activity to continue, The Bahamas could have faced the negative effects of being blacklisted. This would happen because of the inherent risk of allowing the potential for money-laundering or terrorist financing that might result from an unregulated, predominantly cash-based industry, which was estimated to annually generate as much as $400 million. Bahamians would have understood that such an unregulated, cash-based industry would not place the country in a positive light among the community of nations.
The prime minister and minister of finance could also have reasonably argued that considerable taxes and gaming fees would be raised to defray public expenditures. This was especially understandable because of the anemic condition of the country's public finances that the PLP inherited.
But to maintain that he "had no horse in the race" was a blatant abdication of responsibility by the Christie administration.
To add insult to injury, once the people voted down the legalization of this industry in the referendum, for the Christie adminstration to proceed with regularizing this industry was considered to be a slap in the face of the voters. There is no doubt that very early in his administration, Christie spent a lot of his political capital on a proposition that was considered overwhelmingly unacceptable by the electorate. Ultimately, the results of the first referendum early in his term dealt a devastating blow to the trust that the electorate placed in the Christie administration.

Putting Bahamians first
During the 2012 campaign, the PLP promised that it would put Bahamians first. Very early in its term, the PLP government repeatedly looked abroad to foreign consultants to advise it on policy issues. In many cases, those same highly paid foreign consultants availed themselves of the expertise of local professionals to inform the former of positions regarding national issues. Consultants presented these recommendations to the government as their own ideas.
The insatiable infatuation for foreign consultants and the practice of relying on their advice demonstrated the government's lack of confidence in its own highly educated, well-informed, local professionals and was deeply resented by Bahamians who were, in many cases, adequately equipped to advise the government on national issues. This practice continued to erode the trust that citizens placed in the government's promise of putting Bahamians first.
There were other examples of this, where the government delayed decisions that adversely affected Bahamian businesses while simultaneously rapidly responding to requests by foreign investors. This enraged many Bahamians who repeatedly witnessed the red carpet being rolled out for foreigners while Bahamians' proposals suffocated in red tape.
There was a general sense that the government was prepared to extend certain privileges and concessions to foreigners that it withheld from Bahamians. A combination of these factors led many to believe that "putting Bahamians first" was nothing more than an empty political campaign promise.

Conclusion
In part two of this four-part series, we will examine some of the other reasons why the PLP was so preemptorily propelled from office. We will examine BAMSI, the aborted Chinese fishing fiasco, the interference of a minister in the judicial process, the Baha Mar saga, and the Rubis debacle in order to better understand the historic happenings of May 10, 2017.

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US Embassy Charge d'affaires

May 27, 2017

US Embassy Charge d'Affaires Lisa Johnson paid a courtesy call on new Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration the Hon. Brent Symonette

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Haiti and its national and international debt status

May 26, 2017

Up to this date, around mid-May 2017, the national and international debt of the Republic of Haiti hovers around US$3 billion. This sum represents $1 billion of internal debt and $2 billion of external one. It is a very small amount if we compare Haiti's debt with other Caribbean countries that are generally overwhelmed by external and internal debts.
By way of comparison, the island of Puerto Rico is in full-fledged bankruptcy, saddled with a debt of $91 billion for a population of 3.5 million inhabitants while Haiti has ten million people.
This unusual situation of a rather solvent country, which Haiti shares with Guyana, is a double-edged proposition since these two nations are also the poorest of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region. They are poor for similar reasons: corruption, lack of sense of belonging among their citizens and disregard for their human and natural resources.
Haiti, because of its situation of extreme poverty and the calamities that have plagued the country recently, had its external debt erased twice. The Inter-American Development Bank, with support from the United States, orchestrated an erasure of Haiti's external debt in 2009 to the amount of $4.4 billion. There was still some $484 million left in the account that was wiped out with the support of a $236 million payment to the IDB by the United States after the earthquake of 2010.
On the other side, Venezuela, one of the largest creditors of Haiti because of the PetroCaribe program, has also erased $300 million of its debts after the earthquake of January 12, 2010.
The culture of corruption and the lack of sense of vision and of essential priorities exhibited by the past Haitian governments since 1956, and especially after 1986, have occasioned a waste of the debt instrument in ostentatious and personal expenses that had nothing to do with nation-building initiatives. As such, when the external debt had been erased, the two governments that preceded the current Moise / Lafontant government played the game of the cicada and the ant, singing without thinking of tomorrow.
Haiti now has an annual debt service in the order of $15 million, which represents a much higher sum than its budget for education ($5 million) or for agriculture ($7 million), which is the essential sector of employment for the majority of Haitian citizens, mainly those who live in extreme poverty in the rural world.
So Haiti goes from Scylla to Charybdis in its budget formulation, in its spending, and its projection towards the future. It must come out of this unhealthy paradigm to enter into a nation-building canvas that will make it vibrant, rich and prosperous forever. I propose two solutions that will facilitate that task.
First of all, as I have indicated throughout my essays with deliberate repetitions so the concept will be well imbued in the imagination of each reader, Haiti must conceptualize a national budget that takes into account the main headings of the core principles of nation-building:
1. Permeate the sense of belonging among all citizens within its territory;
2. Build excellent infrastructure and healthy institutions everywhere so that the Haitian citizen or resident is no longer nomadic at home and abroad;
3. Engage without internal struggle and without grumbling in an affirmative action mode towards the rural, the ghetto and the middle-class world to catch up with the small sector of the well off that has fully succeeded;
4. Rekindle the emancipator mission of Haiti towards its own citizens and towards the disinherited of the world;
5. Pass on to the youth the notion that the motherland is a continuous creation; it will have to complete the work of its ancestors to leave a Haiti which must always be a light on the hill.
The country's national and external debt as well as its waste material represents a resource that we can exploit. Norway is buying waste from other countries because it has already turned all its garbage into electrical energy. The external debt to the PetroCaribe program, which accounts for 90 percent of Haiti's external debt, can be converted into a wealth creation instrument for the foreseeable future.
In applying debt swapping for natural features or debt swap against the renovation of nature, the country will generate a sovereign wealth fund that will be as large and as deep as that of Singapore or China, which is in the order of more than $100 billion.
With a solicitation of $200 million a year from the Scandinavian countries ($100 million) and environmental organizations ($100 million), Haiti can cover all its majestic mountains (still owned by the state) with mahogany, cedar, and ebony and other precious hardwood that will make it as rich as it was during the colonial era when it was dubbed the 'Pearl of the Islands'.
The sum of US$200 million will be used to pay the external debt annually and the same value in national money will bring back the majestic flora of Haiti, contributing to the world fight against global warming. Its domestic debt, especially to the Bank of the Republic of Haiti and to the commercial banks, will be met by the financial returns from the ten PPPs -- public and private partnerships -- established with the support of the private sector for the building of roads, ports, airports, energy, communication, irrigation and a transport system.
With a population of ten million inside the country and four million in the Diaspora that demands services; Haiti represents an extremely interesting market for any leader with a minimum of foresight and any entrepreneur with a minimum of creative vision.
Haiti shall rise again from its ashes as the legend of the great king Henri Christophe, the builder of our Citadel, has enshrined in his insignia. It can be seen in this video of young Haitians celebrating Haiti's Flag Day this past May 18. It must from now on engage in the design of the management of its forthcoming abundance!

Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD, is a regular contributor to the opinion section of Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at jeanhcharles@aol.com. Published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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Manners matter

May 26, 2017

I grew up in my younger years in England and Ireland and, believe me, one thing that was hammered into us, both by our parents and at school, was to have good manners. Yes indeed, as today's title simply states it, manners matter. I remember well when I would spend time on my grandfather's farm in the summer at harvest time, all sorts of extra workers would be hired, and many of these extra workers would be extremely poor; however, they all had the best of manners, saying "Yes sir" and "No sir" "Please" and "Thank You". It just appeared to be the normal thing to do at the time as everyone, from top to bottom, young and old, rich or poor, were mannerly when dealing with others.
Today, many years later and in a different part of the world where I now reside, I find that manners are greatly lacking with so many people, and especially with a whole lot of young people. For example -- holding the door open at the supermarket for a lady to go in is just natural behavior for me, however, it never ceases to amaze me, that when I actually do this, as I always do, the ladies who go through the door which I'd kindly held open for them, don't even have the courtesy to say thank you. This, to me, is very sad, but alas true. Yes indeed, in my book, manners matter. Yes they do!
Yes indeed, manners matter, particularly in business. To me it's extremely important for businesses of all types to properly train all members of their staff to be courteous, not only to their customers, but also to each other, so that a pleasant, positive atmosphere is the order of the day throughout the entire organization from top to bottom. I guarantee that when this type of behavior is practiced at the top of any organization, it will flow throughout the business, affecting the staff and customers in a beneficial way.

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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Grenada must not be repeated in Venezuela

May 26, 2017

Like everyone else, heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) believe the ancient adage 'once bitten, twice shy'.
Back in 1983, they largely supported the U.S. invasion of Grenada in the name of a so-called 'rescue mission' that eventually really fulfilled Washington's mortal designs for the first socialist-oriented revolution in the English-speaking Caribbean.
The revolution had committed suicide and Washington only needed an excuse to enter Grenada to bury it -- once and for all.
Prime Minister Maurice Bishop had been placed under 'house arrest' on October 17 and was executed on October 19, along with others.
Citizens of the dozen mainly English-speaking CARICOM nations were seriously traumatized by the Grenada events and Caribbean governments found themselves unable to remain silent.
Washington had long planned to invade the island and troops were always mobilized. Now the opportunity was presented -- and all America needed was an invitation.
Jamaica and Guyana refused to give the required unanimous CARICOM support needed for a free pass, so Washington turned instead to the OECS leadership, a smaller grouping easier to convince to provide the necessary fig leaf.
When he announced the U.S. intervention from the White House (with troops already under way), President Ronald Reagan was flanked by the chairperson of the OECS heads of government, Dominica's Prime Minister Eugenia Charles and OECS Director General Vaughan Lewis.
A small group of mainly police officers drawn from forces across CARICOM and the OECS also accompanied the Americans as they invaded the island on October 25.
Three decades after providing Caribbean cover for U.S. military intervention in the internal affairs of a member-state, CARICOM and OECS leaders are once again being courted to bless another case of U.S.-led intervention in another Caribbean state, this time Venezuela.
As with Cuba in 1961, the Organization of American States (OAS) is today being used to divide the Caribbean and Latin American regions over the Venezuela administration led by President Nicolas Maduro.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves warned CARICOM member states in mid-May to avoid being divided by Washington's selective invitation of certain countries to meetings on Venezuela, at the exclusion of others.
Antigua and Barbuda's ambassador to the OAS, Sir Ronald Sanders, also warned CARICOM, OECS and OAS member states to avoid becoming victims of the "politics of exclusion" being pursued by Washington and other key OAS member states, especially in relation to Venezuela.
CARICOM foreign affairs ministers met in Barbados, May 18-19, during which they collectively called for "non-intervention" in Venezuela, instead advocating a peaceful political settlement.
The 13-member CARICOM group is usually united in its positions at the OAS. But in recent voting on Venezuela, several nations voted with those advocating punishing Caracas instead of condemning violence and the increasing number of deaths.
The anti-Caracas lobby at the OAS set a controversial meeting in Washington for May 31, to discuss Venezuela (in its absence).
Venezuela has pulled out of the OAS. But its Secretary General, Luis Almagro -- who is openly leading the anti-Maduro Venezuela lobby -- and his powerful backers have devised a plan to seek OAS support for political, economic and other unidentified actions and measures aimed at Venezuela.
Caribbean requests for more information on the expected outcomes of the May 31 meeting have not been met.
As a result, many Caribbean delegates will be heading to Washington next week, expecting the U.S. to request their support for unspecified actions against Caracas.
The USA has never taken its eyes off neighbouring Venezuela, which has the highest certifiable crude oil deposits in the world -- much more than Saudi Arabia.
Under Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump, Washington has waged a sustained war against Venezuela over recent years, but particularly since the death of Hugo Chavez and in light of the worsening economic and social crises mainly created by the steep drops in the price of oil on the world market.
Successive sanctions, presidential orders and decrees have over the years authorized U.S. support for Venezuelan opposition forces, including direct financing and sanctions against top government officials.
U.S. State Department figures indicate that since 2009, some US$49 million had been given by Washington to right wing opposition political elements in Caracas for such reasons as "expanding democratic space" and "supporting political competition", even "introducing alternative political concepts" such as "participatory democracy".
The entities receiving U.S. support include some of those behind the current violent protests, despite Maduro and his ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) having won all of the seven free and fair national polls held during the same period.
Many civilians have been killed by nefarious means, mainly during opposition demonstrations -- including sniper fire and use of self-made explosive devices -- while many more National Guards and police officers on duty have also been harmed by the violent attackers, even pelted with packaged excreta.
Like a slow motion coup, the violence has been spreading through opposition-controlled, mainly urban areas, while the main opposition parties and forces consistently continue mounting almost daily protests, while rejecting every invitation to talk peace.
Maduro offered to create a freely-elected Constituent National Assembly, but the main opposition MUD Alliance has firmly rejected participation in discussions, despite some 18 other opposition parties agreeing to take part.
Some CARICOM states that earlier appeared to support the anti-Venezuela lobby have somewhat mended their votes, the vast majority opting to abstain during a May 15 OAS Permanent Council vote for the hastily-arranged May 31 Washington meeting on Venezuela.
Like with Grenada in 1983, the Caribbean will again be called upon in 2017 to support an external agenda against a regional neighbour. Like in 1961, South American states will also be called upon to do the same.
The eyes of the world will therefore be focused on Washington next Wednesday, when CARICOM (including the OECS) will, once again, have to show where they really and truly stand on non-intervention by external forces in the internal affairs of Caribbean states.

o Earl Bousquet is Editor-at-Large of The Diplomatic Courier and author of the regional newspaper column entitled Chronicles of a Chronic Caribbean Chronicler. Published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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Live as ambassadors for Christ

May 25, 2017

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you, to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil." - I Peter 3:13-17

As Christians, the good things that we do should not bring about harm from the public. However, often they do. The apostle tells us that even if we should suffer, then we should consider our suffering a blessing. Why a blessing for suffering evil, even though we do good?
We should not be afraid of those who seek to terrorize us with fear, nor should we Christians be afraid of the rage or force of the enemy. Even in the most difficult circumstances, we should follow that which is good.
When we suffer for righteousness, we suffer to the glory of Christ our Lord. It is a great honor. In Acts 5:40-41, after the apostles were arrested and flogged for proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, they left rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for His name.
The point is we are not serving man. We serve God. God is the ruler of the universe. All forces fall under Him, therefore, we should not let them intimidate us. We are reminded that mankind rejected Jesus, who was the perfect example of all that is good. Therefore, if Jesus encountered unpleasantness, so will we. We should not be afraid because our enemies are also God's enemies.
The evil people of this world can do nothing to us except with God's permission. Scripture tells us in Matthew 10:28, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
Notwithstanding the setbacks we encounter in life, we should always be ready with an answer or defense concerning our faith. The things of God are permanent, but the things of this world are transient.
We owe our allegiance to God. Therefore, we should be prepared to defend His name. I am amazed that young people can repeat the words of a rap song, but can't even get a "D" grade in school. They are able to do so because the music is very close to their hearts.
This is so because they care deeply about the artist. Consequently, they take the time to memorize every word of the rap artist's song. That is the same commitment we should have to Christ.
We who say we are Christians should have a heart for Christ. That means that we live as ambassadors for Christ. We should always have a heart for sharing our faith.
However, in sharing our faith, we should do so lovingly. Someone said it is easier to catch flies with honey rather than with vinegar. The love we have for Christ is demonstrated in the love we have for one another.
How do we prepare ourselves to share and defend our faith? We do so by studying God's word. Attending Bible study and becoming more involved in the church. Through the church we learn about God's kingdom, our true home.
In talking about and defending our faith, we should generate the same passion that we do when we talk about our country, our political party, our professional team or our school. Amen.

o Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas or telephone 323-4107; E-mail: lutheranchurch@coralwave.com.

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You don't know how good you are!

May 25, 2017

Let me tell you a personal story here today, something which actually happened to me that changed my whole life. In the late 60s I joined Earl Nightingales' organization, The Nightingale-Conant Corporation of Chicago. The company was headed by Earl Nightingale, who was known as "the dean of personal motivation". Now I was marketing Earl's motivational lessons that were recorded on cassettes in those days. I did extremely well, actually selling $27,000 worth of these cassette albums in a few weeks in The Bahamas.
Apparently, everyone in Chicago was talking about my great feat and so I was invited to come to Chicago to give a talk at a new distributor seminar that would be recorded and sent out on cassettes to some 4,000 Nightingale-Conant distributors worldwide. Now let me tell you that I had never, ever spoken in public before, and indeed I had a tremendous fear of speaking in public, as many do. However, I went to Chicago, made my presentation at the seminar and returned to The Bahamas, glad to have that ordeal behind me.
Then I was appointed regional director for the Caribbean, Central and South America for The Nightingale-Conant Corporation. Now at a meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the vice president of the international division of The Nightingale-Conant Corporation played the recording of the talk I'd given a few weeks earlier in Chicago. When I listened to it, it actually amazed me and I said it was quite good. Then Ron Davis the VP said to me, "Paul, you don't know how good you are." This changed my whole life.
Yes, I had talents inside of me that I was not aware of, but that day in Puerto Rico I became aware of them and it totally changed my life. Yes indeed, I'm going to say to you here today, you don't know how good you are, as God made you and filled you full of special talents with which to succeed. Now start to believe in yourself, discover your own special talents, and believe me, the sky is the limit for you.

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.comD. Paul Reilly.
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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Solving the crime problem

May 25, 2017

As a nation, consecutive administrations have grappled with the issue of crime in The Bahamas, as have many other administrations around the world. Having spent considerable time on the ground in solving crime issues, I have come to the unmistakable conclusion that the solution to the crime problem is not jobs, education, rehabilitation or policing. Yes, all of these elements are integral to solving the crime problem, but what I have experienced in my many years of working with young people is that crime is a "heart" issue.
At times we have touted getting jobs for young people as the solution. The problem is that, in my experience, many of the young people I have worked with, when they get a job, they purchase two guns instead of one. Most of the jobs available to marginalized persons are marginal jobs with marginal pay. Do we really expect that a marginal income will clear up all the issues and create model citizens? I seriously doubt it, not from conjecture, but from personal experience.
So what will solve the crime problem? The answer is a complicated one, but if I were a witness at the trial of solution to crime, I would have to testify as to what I have seen work, and suggest that we need to put a premium on things that have brought results without ignoring the other elements. Let me give some examples. Young drug dealer becomes model citizen, husband, father and community leader. How does this happen? His "heart" is changed and his behavior follows. This story may sound simplistic, but I have countless stories of similar transformations that are continuing to occur, and if something is bringing results we should not ignore it.
Without giving names in this instance, I have a list of former "bad boys" who have left the criminal life and are now husbands, fathers, businessmen and productive citizens. One of them slept in cars from age 13; another robbed a church at age 16; another was a DJ at gang events; another was a street thug -- and the list goes on. Today they are all husbands, fathers, businessmen and exemplary leaders, even while some have never finished high school. The common denominator is a heart change through exposure to the gospel message of the Kingdom of God. Unlikely you may say, but it is 100 percent, guaranteed truth.
Let us not discount the value and importance of "heart" change in the equation of solving the crime problem. I believe the heart issue is the main one, but it is not an easy or simple solution. We live in a broken environment with broken families, abused children, neglected individuals and complicated relationships. It is hard to fix individuals in a broken environment because they have to return to and live in the environment that produced their initial behavior. In light of this I have added other elements to the heart issue for consideration below.

Law enforcement
Plea bargain and probation system: Since courts are continually clogged with a backlog of cases, plea bargains can be introduced (or accelerated), coupled with a strict probation system where offenders who break their probation conditions are immediately sent back to prison.
Three strikes program: In California a program was introduced where persons who commit three major felonies are automatically sentenced to a minimum of 25 years to life on the third offense. I believe persons who have fired a weapon or caused physical injury during the commission of a crime should automatically be sentenced to a minimum of 25 years. The carrying of assault weapons should also carry a minimum sentence of 25 years, as this type of weapon is solely used for mass murder.
Selective death penalty: I do not believe that the death penalty should be automatic for every murder. There are many different situations involved in a murder and the death penalty should be reserved for specific types of murder -- murder while committing a robbery or rape, contract killings and senseless, violent killings. Cases of murder that come about due to arguments or disputes should be separated, as these are not premeditated
Increase prison capacity and improve conditions: It is quite obvious to many in the field that the number of young persons committing crimes is increasing, which means more people will be going to prison. Our prisons are already overcrowded and the conditions are below standard. If more persons will be going to prison, capacity needs to be increased and living conditions improved to meet minimum requirements, such as proper plumbing, no more than two persons per cell and other basic amenities.

Prevention
Strategic plan: Every church body and denomination should prepare a long-term strategic plan that includes increased funding and manpower directed at the youth population. Without this commitment, we will be continuing with rhetoric and little will be accomplished. Since it has been repeatedly shown that most offenders are young men, our plans and funding should be directed at this segment of the population as a priority.
Full-time youth workers: Most churches and denominations have no full-time youth pastor and some of the major denominations in The Bahamas have no full-time youth directors. If we are serious about addressing youth issues, it is imperative that churches, and especially larger denominations, hire and put in place full-time or at the minimum part-time directors and youth pastors to mentor and develop youth.
Conflict resolution and anger management: Classes/sessions should be incorporated into schools -- particularly for students who have been involved in violence. Some aspects of this are already in place but should be expanded.
Violence and gang prevention: Sessions should be regularly scheduled in schools, churches and youth organizations, using reformed young men and women as examples to younger youth along with professional counselors and ministers.
Funding and incentives: Specific funding and incentives should be given to organizations and entities that are prepared to provide positive, alternative programming and activities for youth. There must be positive alternatives available for our youth, otherwise degenerate and criminal programming will be the default of the generation. In addition, all organizations that can prove they are conducting legitimate youth prevention, development and rehabilitation programs should be incorporated into a systemic fund. From my experience, most organizations that help youth are unfunded and officials have to spend much of their time and energy on attracting funds rather than on youth work.
Recognition of positive youth activities: This can be done through individual organizations and through government media, as well as private media outlets. Each media house should make it a point to provide recognition to positive youth achievements by allowing time slots for positive programming directed specifically at our youth.
Community-based national youth service: Establish a mandatory national youth service component that is tied to existing youth, community and church organizations that would strengthen these organizations without creating new infrastructure, personnel and budget challenges.

Rescue and rehabilitation
Enhanced training of youth workers: Co-ordinated by the Ministry of Youth (along with relevant private agencies) to ensure an adequate amount of trained youth workers to work with the various youth and community outreach programs. The ministry could also serve as the central body for the coordination of efforts.

Family development and enhancement
Parenting: Churches, community organizations and the government must make it a priority to prepare parents for parenting with regular parenting classes and a forum for dealing with parenting issues, particularly parent-teen relationships.
Marriage and parenting: As there are as many problems with parents as there are with youth, I recommend mandatory marriage and parenting classes for all seeking marriage licenses and for those who want to have children. I recommend that church leaders insist on marriage and parenting classes before performing marriages or baby dedications and christenings. Additionally, all marriage offices and justices of the peace should be required to undergo marriage and parenting training, or be required to refer persons wanting to be married to appropriate counselors before performing marriages.

Culture change
Culture change: Since it seems we have a negative culture, a concerted effort should be directed at culture change strategies -- positive entertainment, positive media programming, reduction in gun promotion and awards for positive achievements of youth.
Media production: Local producers should be encouraged to provide DVDs and video production on causes and effects of violence, including public service announcements directed at violence prevention. Positive movies created by Bahamians should be encouraged and promoted on national TV as well as other private stations.
Entertainers: Local entertainers should be encouraged to produce non-violence material and to use their platforms to promote peace.
Victims: A greater focus needs to be placed on crime victims, including victim compensation that would assist victims in recovering from their tragic losses due to criminal offenses. If not already established, a victim's compensation fund should be established to assist victims of crime.
Gang intervention/non-violence division: Establish a gang intervention/non-violence section in the Ministry of Youth or the Ministry of Education and in conjunction with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, focus on addressing school-age, youth violence and gang activity issues, and promote non-violence and positive alternatives. In addition to basic conflict resolution, this unit could address the issues of gang violence and intervention. Consideration can also be given to a special unit within the police force that monitors adult street gangs.
Information technology: Establish a website with information available for youth, youth workers, parents and community leaders, that would also incorporate a calendar of events and info on positive community activities.
Publicity for positive events: Through the Ministry of Youth, publicize positive events and have the ministry partner with organizations doing events on a national level.
Moral, character and spiritual training: Must be systematically incorporated into the lives of teens, in light of the statistics mentioned previously, to combat the march toward destructive behavior. Schools, churches and community organizations should use or implement chapel, inspirational, informational or practical sessions geared specifically toward young people.
Alternative sentencing: Young people who commit minor offenses or petty crimes should be provided with sentencing options that allow them to be supervised by social organizations or churches before incarceration is considered (elements of this appear to be already in place).
Teen and young adult fathers: All teen and young adult fathers should be required to attend parenting classes, as most young fathers tend to abandon their children, or have children with multiple women.
Systemic funding for prevention and rehabilitation: It is my feeling that confiscated assets from drug dealers and criminals should be earmarked for prevention and rehabilitation programs.

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

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It is a good thing to sing praises unto God

May 25, 2017

"The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground." - Psalm 147:6

Come Saturday morning, I am usually up, like every morning, at 5 a.m., and I enjoy making up my bed with all the pillows in "stay there" mode. I really love getting up early because it gives me time for reflection and to render thanks to a God who has brought me thus far on my way.
Saturday, outside of funerals, is my day to do housework, gardening and, yes, wash the car. And it is no joke -- I just love to work. Many times I have to fuss myself out to take a nap. But how was I to know that while washing the car I had only 50 minutes to be at the airport to travel to London with a group.
We arrived in London on Sunday and it was, according to the church's calendar, the fifth Sunday of Easter. Not living far away from St. Paul's Cathedral, the notice board informed us that at 3:15 p.m. there would be evensong and sermon commemorating the choristers of St. Paul's Cathedral, who died on active service in the First World War. What a wonderful service it was, and I still hold fast to my belief that the church has all the wonderful qualities to determine your lifestyle. It is graceful, disciplined, poised and humble in mind, body and soul.
St. Paul's Cathedral is a Christian church within the Anglican tradition (Church of England) and welcomes people of all Christian traditions as well as people of other faiths, and people of little or no faith. Christian worship has been offered to God there for over 1,400 years. They are committed to the diversity, equal opportunities and personal and spiritual development of all who work and worship there, because they are followers of Jesus Christ.
The Right Reverend David Conner, KCVO, Dean of Windsor and former Bishop to the Forces, gave the sermon. He spoke on the beauty of silence. When we are silent and still, it makes room for spiritual empowerment. Someone said that speech is silver but silence is golden, and to this end a special, composed anthem by Samuel Bordoli, "The Great Silence" was performed by the cathedral choir and conducted by Andrew Carwood. The piece sets war poet Ivor Gurney's "Song and Pain" to music in a striking and moving work, which includes the singing by the current choristers of the names of those of their predecessors who gave their lives in war 100 years ago. The spirit of the words reflects the mood at the end of the war and captures the idea of resurrection, that from the ashes the soldier poet will endure his pain and enter the house of joy.
Where there is no pain, there is no gain, and recent events in our country give way to silence, to ponder over the paths we have trod, and in many instances ignoring warning road signs. This is no time for heated talk and fuss, but time to right wrongs wherever they may have occurred and offer prayers to God that righteousness will exalt our nation. Praise the Lord!
To tell the truth, being in London for just two days, and to see the orderly national behavior made me very sad, because I once knew of the times when we were once tied to "the apron strings" of dignity, decency and decorum, but we have strayed so far and become rebellious. And all that we have gotten is national chaos to all that bodes well for how the world marks the manner of our bearing.
But I rejoice in the Psalm of the day at the service: Psalm 147, and it gave me strength for the day and bright hope for tomorrow:
"O praise the Lord, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God: Yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful. The Lord doth build up Jerusalem, and gather together the outcasts of Israel. He healeth those that are broken in heart, and giveth medicine to heal their sickness. He telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and great is His power. Yea, and His wisdom is infinite.
The Lord setteth up the meek and bringeth the ungodly down to the ground. O sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving. Sing praises upon the harp unto our God who covereth the heaven with clouds, and prepareth rain for the earth, and maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains and herb for the use of men, who giveth fodder unto the cattle, and feedeth the young ravens that call upon Him. He hath no pleasure in the strength of a horse; neither delighteth He in any man's legs.
But the Lord's delight is in them that fear him; and put their trust in His mercy. Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Sion."

o E-mail 241haystreet@gmail.com; Facebook Ruby Ann Darling or write to P.O. Box SS 19725 Nassau, Bahamas, with your prayer requests, concerns and comments. God's blessings!

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Privacy or secrecy

May 25, 2017

Should romantic partners keep secrets from each other? Do romantic partners have a right to privacy? What is the difference between secrecy and privacy? The debate between what is secret and what is private is stronger now with the age of smart phones, iPads, emails and social media. Their use is forcing couples to redefine or clarify the meaning of boundaries. In some relationships, the use of social media or smart phones causes more pain than pleasure. When the Blackberry came on the market, the clientele in marriage therapist offices increased around the world because it was easier to text and individuals would find romantic notes on their partners' phones sent to other people.
Do you have a right to lock your phone so your spouse cannot use it?
Should you have a secret password to your emails, Facebook page, etc.?
Can your spouse read your emails or text messages without your permission?
It is my professional opinion that withholding information, activities (nights out with friends) without your partner, or behavior from your intimate partner that doesn't involve you as a person or the relationship, is the practice of secrecy. This should not be practiced.
Abe Kass, a marriage and family therapist, says, "Secrecy builds walls between two partners. Privacy is not the same as secrecy. A measured amount of privacy is needed for personal health. How much privacy is needed varies from person to person."
Another author states that privacy would include closing the bathroom door to avoid embarrassment; withholding sexual fantasies that might hurt the feelings of one's partner were he or she to know what they were; or withholding an unnecessary opinion to avoid conflict. The line between secrecy and privacy is not always black and white. Each couple needs to sort out the gray areas. Being discreet can be good or bad for a relationship. For example, is causing a minor scratch to the car and not deliberately announcing this fact common sense, or is it deceit (secrecy)? Or is withholding the negative results of a minor medical test to protect a spouse from unnecessary worry secrecy or common sense? Each couple must feel their way through these "gray" areas.

B
Here is what "Marriage Mission International" proposes about the difference between the two:
Privacy is something you give someone out of respect.
Secrecy is something you withhold from one another.
Privacy is when you want to go to the bathroom or pick your nose without your spouse looking, or try to buy them a gift without them knowing.
Secrecy is when you feel guilty about something that you can't tell your spouse.
Privacy in marriage is your own personal space. In this there is trust and respect. The other partner is aware of this space and respects it without intrusion. We all need a little private time to ourselves, otherwise we'd go nuts.
Secrecy is destructive in marriage. It's a lack of trust and respect. This is something the other partner is unaware of, and, in essence, it's a lie.
Privacy is having some quality time or spiritual time alone.
Secrecy in a marriage can be a form of deceit.
Privacy is withholding info concerning yourself, the disclosure of which would be of no benefit to the partner, and which you don't wish to share.
Secrecy, on the other hand, is the withholding of info that may influence the wellbeing of the partner. This effect may be financial, spiritual, physical, or mental.
Privacy is acceptable. Secrecy is not.
How do you apply these principles to cell phones, emails, social media, wallets, purses, money, etc.? Should I give the passwords for my Facebook, email or cell phone to my spouse? Should your spouse have to demand that he or she receives the passwords?
Geoff Steurer, marriage and family therapist, responds to these questions by saying: "You are feeling insecure in your new marriage because your husband is essentially telling you that you're not welcome into part of his life. Knowing you have access to both [the passwords] creates more security and safety in marriage."
Jason and Kelli Krafsky, authors of "Facebook and Your Marriage", make the following suggestion: "Share your username and password with one another. Transparency is crucial to ensure trust in a committed relationship. Exchanging login information provides accountability and emotional security for both of you."
Another way of looking at it is a spouse should not have to ask for passwords. Neither should there be any reason to withhold passwords. I do not look into my wife's purse. On the other hand, I am not prevented from looking in it.
When a spouse finds clandestine texts in a partner's text messages, that partner loses the privilege of privacy. It would have to be regained over time. That is the time to give up all usernames and passwords. Whenever a partner is adamant on not sharing passwords, there is something he or she is trying to hide, or the individual has a destructive view of intimacy in marriage.
Geoff Steurer states: "Healthy marriages are built on the secure knowledge that our spouse is accessible and responsive to us. Having access to each other's lives does provide more security, even if we don't always know everything our partner is reading, writing, or saying. In fact, the more you're shut out from your husband's life, the more you'll want to know in an effort to know you're safe in the relationship. Hopefully he can see that the more access you have to his world, the less need you'll have to see everything he's doing."
Romantic partners, there should be absolutely no secrets in the relationship. Practice honesty and openness in every aspect of your lives. This is the true meaning of partnership, oneness, mutuality, togetherness and companionship in relationships.

o Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist. Send your questions or comments to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002.

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The PLP's mythology and central narrative shattered

May 25, 2017

The PLP suffered two seismic defeats at the recent general election. The first was a staggering loss which wiped out all but two Cabinet members, including, for the first time in our history, the incumbent prime minister.
The late, former Prime Minister of Belize George Price suffered a similar humiliation. But unlike Christie, who announced his retirement from politics, Price ran again, capturing a seat in the National Assembly and returning to the prime ministry.
The other seismic defeat for the PLP is the loss of a central narrative and mythology, which boosted the PLP before and after its 1967 victory.
Mythology and narrative is essential for the identity of groups and individuals. They tell us who we are by reminding us of our history, our struggles, our heroes, our purpose. The loss or the shattering of a narrative is often an existential threat.
Consider how Turkey seeks to write the Armenian genocide out of its history. The white majority in the United States of America has ruthlessly dismissed the genocide of Native Americans and the truth about black slavery.
In his masterful works, the brilliant and often tortured African American author, James Baldwin, repeatedly returned to the theme of how white America constructed a central narrative that kept finding inventive ways to destroy black lives and narratives.
The PLP has a legitimate claim as the party that ushered in majority rule. But over the decades the party acted with hubris and spectacular arrogance in representing itself as the embodiment of the struggle for majority rule, while sidelining the contributions of others.
The "Dissident Eight" who formed the FNM sacrificed as much, and in some cases even more, in the struggle. With Sir Lynden Pindling and the PLP having betrayed a number of the core ideals of the struggle for economic, social and racial equality, a majority of the men who ushered in majority rule eventually left and joined the FNM.

Self-serving
But for decades the PLP boasted that it was the champion of black Bahamians, deploying a certain brand of black nationalism that was politically effective and which sought to turn the FNM into a party that was enthralled to the Bay Street Boys.
The PLP reprised this effort in the 2017 general election. It failed spectacularly because a new generation of young Bahamians saw through the conceit and the self-serving manner of the PLP's strategy.
The PLP ran ads with white Bahamians claiming they were the bogeymen and bogeywomen, out to crush the aspirations of the black majority. Now Opposition Leader, Philip Brave Davis, repeatedly employed this strategy at rallies.
This strategy may have worked for an older generation of Bahamians, but it is a failing strategy for a new generation who see the PLP enthralled to certain white foreigners like the controversial Peter Nygard.
The video of PLP ministers bowing and scraping to him after the 2012 general election went viral. It hit a nerve in many Bahamians.
The revelation that the former Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald begged former Baha Mar developer Sarkis Izmirlian for lucrative contracts and $20,000 a month for a family business sickened many Bahamians.
Voters then discovered that former Labour Minister Shane Gibson was receiving money on a regular basis from a Nygard company.
The truth is that the PLP has been enthralled for decades to white foreigners with deep pockets. The late fugitive Robert Vesco was one in a long line of dodgy individuals whom various individuals in the PLP mercilessly used.
The former Bay Street Boys did exceedingly well under Pindling and the PLP, as well as under Christie.
Today, a new generation of young Bahamians, including scores in traditionally PLP seats in New Providence, are no longer buying the PLP narrative.
Former Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell is self-servingly wrong. His blinders are on. The 2017 election was revolutionary in terms of upending a PLP narrative that no longer works as it once did. Much of the PLP's mythology has been demythologized.

Slamming
Most Bahamians see through the PLP's game of slamming white Bahamians and foreigners when its suits their interests while looking for money from Lyford Cay and other places.
PLP Chairman Emeritus Errington "Minky" Isaacs displayed in dramatic form the narrative that has sustained the PLP for generations.
Isaacs stated: "I always speak to my children and I tell them check your history years ago, who round us up while we were in Africa?
"Our own black people round us up. The white people stood on the side and watched. Well ain't nothing changed. When we as black people gonna learn to stick together and learn together? You don't see no white people supporting the PLP per se. We got to learn the stickability."
Of course, he has much of his history wrong. His was a version of the odious, so-called black crab syndrome, which odiously claims that unlike white people and certain ethnic groups, black people are unable to cooperate for a common purpose. This is one of those lies that too many black people unfortunately keep telling themselves.
It was overwhelmingly colonizers and white slavers who strategized and carried out the genocide of black Africans. Many black empires and kingdoms refused to participate in the trade and fought mightily against it.
Isaacs would do well to watch author, Harvard Professor and documentarian Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s revealing and inspiring series "Africa's Great Civilizations". It will teach him and others the truth about the brilliant history of Africa and the broader narrative of the slave trade.
Thankfully, Isaacs' asinine diatribe was rebuked by Exuma MP Chester Cooper. He refreshingly noted: "During Monday's ceremony for the farewell address for former Prime Minister and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Perry Christie, there were unfortunate remarks made by the moderator in the vein of black people enslaving each other while white people watched, and white Bahamians not supporting the PLP, as an allegory for our party's recent loss at the polls."

Probe
"While there will be much to discuss and probe in the wake of the PLP's loss, I want to make clear that I, Chester Cooper, in no way support those sentiments or think them a fitting and proper analysis of the PLP's loss.
"The PLP is an organization that is supported by Bahamians of every racial makeup. The thread that binds us is that we are all Bahamians. Many white Bahamians voted for me and fought a hard battle in Exuma and Ragged Island to keep that constituency in the PLP's column in what appears to be a wave election.
"I thank all Bahamians for their support and dedication to the PLP and to The Bahamas. This country, like so many others, has a deep and complex racial history, and though we still bear the scars of the deep wounds of the past, we move forward together to build this country that we all love. This is the time for healing. Indeed, Bahamians of all races and ethnic backgrounds are welcome in the Progressive Liberal Party.
"We are interested in building this nation for all. This has been clearly demonstrated in former Prime Minister Christie having supported many white Bahamian candidates in the past and the white PLPs who served in the Senate and Parliament.
"We will need all hands on deck to steer the PLP back to its progressive roots and work to empower all Bahamians, regardless of race or ethnicity.
"I would like to express my thanks for the faith that the former prime minister, the National General Council and the good people of Exuma & Ragged Island reposed in me as a candidate, and promise to give excellent representation and to hold the current administration accountable in the House of Assembly."
If the PLP is to renew itself, it will have to move beyond a certain mentality and toward faces and individuals who may represent a new beginning. Brave Davis is not one of these faces. Nor are two of his Senate picks.
The PLP will need leaders who can help the party to renew its narrative threads and mission. The notion of power for the sake of power and not for a larger mission helped defeat the PLP in one of the more consequential elections in our history.

o frontporchguardian@gmail.com, www.bahamapundit.com.

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Assertiveness must be tempered

May 24, 2017

The word 'Assertiveness' is bandied around quite a lot these days, especially by women in the U.S.

In other words, if one wants to get noticed and start to push yourself forward so that you succeed in life; people say that you need to assert yourself. Well I agree to a certain extent but then everything can be overdone and from my personal observations, a whole lot of people, and in particular a whole lot of females in North America tend to overdo the assertiveness thing to the point where they actually lose their beautiful God Given Femininity ....this is not good.
And so we come to the title of today's article 'Assertiveness Must Be Tempered' ....yes indeed it must. Otherwise if it is overdone, it can be viewed by many as arrogance, which believe me will not help anyone to endear themselves to others, thus getting their co-operation as they travel the road of life on their way to the proverbial Success City. Yes My Friend, never lose sight of The Fact, that in all things there must be balance ....yes there must.
So the assertiveness, which is indeed needed as we pursue our goals and objectives, needs to be tempered with a certain amount of softness, co-operation and humility. If a person is too assertive, it is my belief that they may turn off more people than they turn on, and that's not good for on the Road To Success, we need the assistance of as many people as possible to help us in attaining our goals and objectives
So what you need to do now is to practice being assertive, perhaps with your friends or associates at work whilst also tempering your assertiveness with a certain amount of charm and humility. So you keep pushing your way forward as you assert yourself whilst not annoying or insulting others, whose assistance is vital to your success. Balance is the key.

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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My sincere hope

May 24, 2017

In this last election, I had a vantage point quite different from the one I'd had in the previous four elections. For the first time in 25 years, I was not a frontline, active, public, partisan political promoter. Though I voted this election - as I have always voted - my less visible partisan posture and my sometimes public criticisms of some personalities, made me persona non grata in many quarters. But this is life. Sometimes what binds people together is not principle but interest, and interest can be fleeting.
Dr. Hubert Alexander Minnis is now the prime minister of The Bahamas. He endured a tumultuous period in opposition and prevailed. Despite a warm performance as principal opponent to Perry Christie and the PLP, in the grand scheme of things, his performance was fully sufficient to win at the polls. The new prime minister has assembled an impressive Cabinet, on paper. His speeches, so far, have been laden with laudable words. He has articulated his commitment to honesty, integrity, fairness and truth. No one can argue with those stated principles. He has declared that he will hold his ministers to account; again, quite laudable. Yes, in this honeymoon period, so far, prime minister Minnis has handled himself well. In fact, with the exception of only a few of his newly elected parliamentary colleagues and their supporters, his moves have received wide support.
Forgive me, however, if I throw a bit of caution to the wind and make an observation. The prime minister is 63 years old. He is a mature man, steeped in habits that are entrenched in his character. Like all leaders, the prime minister has weaknesses, some of which may have gotten in his way as leader of the opposition. I highlighted some of them in times past, much to the chagrin of some FNM supporters. My great hope is that he does not allow them to do in government what they did in opposition, which was, to erode the trust of some of the men and women around him. My hope is that the prime minister will find the means to ensure that his weaknesses, which we all have, do not get the better of him. Instability as part of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition was bad enough; in government it would be horrendous.
Another hope of mine is that in the euphoria of getting rid of Christie and the PLP, we find a strategic economic growth and development plan for our nation. This is necessary to cure one of the most fundamental ills in this country - growing poverty. The FNM's manifesto did not lay out an economic strategy. The speeches of the prime minister and his team did not lay one out during the campaign. The time to have had a strategic plan was then. The time to implement one is now. It is my fervent hope that the government will find one, for nothing stands in our way more than a lackluster economy incapable of producing business growth, jobs and higher incomes. On this rests a better fiscal outcome, broad-based prosperity and social stability.
The PLP did not have a strategic plan for growing the economy either; they merely rested much hope in the opening of Baha Mar. We cannot go another five years without pursuing an effective plan for revving up our economy. The global economy offers us no great support, as it did in the 90s. Today, a country has to identify its unique value in the global marketplace, and effectively and efficiently, offer it to the world. To win in the world, we must stand out in it, and that will not happen by accident.
The new team of Cabinet ministers and members of Parliament have an opportunity to be outstanding. Minnis can be outstanding. Outstanding, however, needs intentional pursuit and execution. It requires a level of critical thinking, detailed planning, unified collaboration, effective execution and ongoing evaluation. Even with these things, success is not assured, as there are forces beyond our control that can thwart our efforts. However, without them, failure is almost guaranteed.

o Zhivargo Laing is a Bahamian economic consultant and former Cabinet minister who represented the Marco City constituency in the House of Assembly.

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Jamaica-Dominican Republic accord should give pause for thought in CARICOM

May 23, 2017

A few days ago, the prime minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, and the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, agreed to work towards a closer relationship.
Beyond the widely-reported desire of both nations to increase trade and investment, the language contained in the joint declaration that followed their meeting in Santo Domingo suggested that the two countries may be seeking something more.
It indicated an interest in finding new ways to address inter-regional and external relations through the creation of a bilateral agenda that, as the document put it, could result in "a convergence in positions that address regional and international issues of mutual interest".
In the joint declaration, Jamaica broke with the previously negative language that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has adopted about the Dominican Republic since 2013, emphasizing instead its belief that the two nations share a track record of "defending values and principles with respect to democracy, protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law".
It was also agreed that it was important for both sides to increase trade and bilateral investment "in an equitable way" to exploit the potential of both economies.
In an apparent recognition of the need for improved regional coherence in international trade negotiations, the official statement said that both leaders emphasized the importance of working more closely in CARIFORUM and the importance of strengthening bilateral coordination to promote a regional agenda on issues such as Brexit, the future of the ACP group, and negotiations for a post-Cotonou agreement with the European Union.
The visit placed emphasis in the near-term on increasing co-operation in tourism, with both sides agreeing to sign an agreement on multi-destination tourism at the earliest opportunity and on finding ways to develop direct air links. There were also agreements on other issues that will help facilitate a closer relationship; a meeting with the private sector to flesh out possible economic complementarities beyond tourism; and an understanding that President Medina is expected to visit Jamaica soon.
The official visit -- the first in 34 years by a Jamaican prime minister, despite the geographic proximity of the two nations -- would appear to reflect Mr Holness' previously expressed interest in deepening economic ties with nations with complimentary economies in the Northern Caribbean (Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the Cayman Islands).
The joint declaration may also hint more generally at the evolving and different thinking of the Holness government about inter-regional relations and economic growth.
Last year, Jamaica's government commissioned a review of the country's relations with CARICOM under the chairmanship of a former prime minister, Bruce Golding, who was charged with examining ways in which Jamaica can secure better value from the processes of regional integration and cooperation within the wider Caribbean region. Reportedly this document is now with Prime Minister Holness and the Jamaican Cabinet for review before being tabled in Parliament.
What the visit suggested is that not only has the global political and economic landscape changed, but that the Caribbean is becoming a very different place to when the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Single Market and Economy was signed in 2001. It also suggested the possibility that a moment may come when the economic reconfiguration of the Caribbean is required if CARICOM is unable to progress or to implement decisions.
Speaking recently at the opening of a meeting of CARICOM's Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), CARICOM's secretary general, Irwin LaRocque, recognized publicly the implications of the implementation deficit.
Noting CARICOM leaders' concern that some of their decisions were not being complied with, he warned that "the Council itself was (being) hampered by non-compliance with its decisions", suggesting that "the failure to adhere to the rules of the integration movement posed a threat to the credibility of the Community".
While CARICOM has struggled to make the CSME work, and is seemingly disinterested in making progress on deepening its economic relations with the Dominican Republic, Dominicans have seen their economy advance consistently, so that in 2016 its annual growth rate at 6.1 per cent was reported to be the highest in the Americas.
It has also forged new trade arrangements, for instance, recently agreeing to negotiate a partial scope free trade agreement with Cuba. This is expected to lead, by the end of 2018, the two largest independent Caribbean economies, negotiating significant tariff reductions, easing non-tariff barriers, and harmonizing phytosanitary and other regulations that currently impede trade between the two nations.
The implication of the Holness visit is that Jamaica has recognized that bilateral political and economic engagement with the Dominican Republic offers real benefits.
If new thinking of this kind is to have a wider application, the Dominican Republic and CARICOM need to overcome their differences. If not, where complementarities exist, other nations will find ways to deepen their bilateral relationship. Unfortunately, what is missing still is any region-wide pragmatic discussion about the economic gains that could be achieved from a closer relationship with much larger neighbors, including Cuba, especially if trade asymmetries for smaller states in the region could be created.
Any such change also requires the Dominican Republic to overcome its reservations, do more to develop relations with Anglophone Caribbean nations, and take government-led steps to offset the national negativity created by historic prejudice, and CARICOM's strident criticism of the Dominican Republic's response to its efforts to regularize the position of undocumented Haitians.
Jamaica's and the Dominican Republic's initiative, and others of the kind undertaken last year by Antigua's prime minister, Gaston Browne, suggest that there is a growing recognition that CARICOM is likely to make little progress as a bloc of 5.5 million English speakers, unless some or all of its members find a way to embrace the significantly more populous and larger economies of the Hispanic Caribbean.

o David Jessop is a consultant to the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at david.jessop@caribbean-council.org. Previous columns can be found at www.caribbean-council.org. Published with the permission of Caribbean news Now.

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Hand in hand to create a better tomorrow for China-Bahamas relations

May 23, 2017

Distance cannot separate true friends who feel so close even though they are thousands of miles apart. Although China and The Bahamas are separated by vast oceans, the long-lasting exchanges and profound friendship allow us to be neighbors across the Pacific Ocean. Dating back to 1870, some Chinese moved to Nassau and settled down, and their descendants have played an important role in the industrial, commercial and social development of The Bahamas.
On May 23, 1997, the People's Republic of China and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas established diplomatic relations, which turned a new page in bilateral relations. Since then, China-Bahamas friendship and cooperation have been developing steadily, the economic and trade cooperation flourishing, cultural exchanges deepening. Geographical distance and historical and cultural differences cannot stop our two countries from becoming good friends who embrace mutual respect and treat each other as equals. The development of China-Bahamas relations has a profound foundation and a broad prospect.
Over the past 20 years, China and The Bahamas have become partners who embrace mutual respect and trust. Both governments and parliaments had frequent, high-level exchanges, with mutual political trust deepened. The leaders of our two countries have maintained continuous contact. Chinese President Xi Jinping met with the prime minister of The Bahamas twice. The Chairman of the standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC) Wu Bangguo and Vice Premier Wang Qishan visited The Bahamas, respectively. The Bahamian governor general, prime minister, president of the Senate, and speaker of the House of Assembly visited China. High-level visits promoted our mutual understanding and trust, and pointed out the direction for development of the bilateral relationship.
China appreciates The Bahamas' adherence to the One-China policy, which is the basis and prerequisite for the sound relationship between our two countries. China and The Bahamas share the same or similar positions on international affairs and maintain good communication and coordination on key regional and international issues.
Over the past 20 years, the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and The Bahamas has been fruitful. The two countries signed a series of agreements in the fields of ocean shipping, investment, tax and tourism, which provide legal safeguards for bilateral cooperation. China built the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium as aid gratis, which has improved the level of Bahamian sports facilities and boosted The Bahamas' capability to organize international sports events.
By using Chinese commercial and governmental concessional loans, mega projects such as the Nassau Airport Expressway, The Pointe Project and North Abaco Port Project, are constructed in The Bahamas by Chinese companies. It's worth mentioning that, as the largest resort in The Bahamas and in the Caribbean region, the Baha Mar resort, a landmark project of China-Bahamas cooperation, has achieved its phased opening on April 21 after experiencing many ups and downs, which will create more than 5,000 jobs, bring new vigor and vitality into the Bahamian economy and tourism, and attract more tourists all over the world to The Bahamas.
Over the past 20 years, cultural and people-to-people exchanges have bridged China and The Bahamas. The exchanges and cooperation in fields of education, culture, sports, health, media and tourism have been deepened continuously. China has provided full government scholarships for nearly 100 Bahamian young people and has funded hundreds of Bahamians to attend short-term training and degree programs in China.
In the Confucius Institute, which was established jointly by China and the University of The Bahamas, Chinese language courses have been set up for local students to meet the demands of the Bahamian people who want to learn Chinese and understand China. This is a special contribution to our bilateral, cultural exchanges.
The Bahamian art groups, like Junkanoo troupes, performed in China several times and were warmly welcomed by the Chinese people. Chinese acrobats, puppets and children art troupes also visited The Bahamas. In March 2017, Guang Dong art troupe delivered a magnificent performance in the Convention Center of Baha Mar, to the fondness of the Bahamian audience. Under the Bright Journey Program, the Chinese medical team of ophthalmologists came to The Bahamas twice to carry out free cataract surgeries for Bahamian patients. More than 200 Bahamian people were enabled to see the light again, and these activities were highly praised by the Bahamian government and people.
The past 20 years marks a journey of solid development of China-Bahamas relations, which brings tangible benefits to the two peoples and sets up a model of treating each other as equals and conducting win-win cooperation between developing countries, regardless of their size. Looking ahead, we are more confident in elevating our relationship to a new high.
Firstly, we should continue to deepen political mutual trust. China is willing to further enhance high-level visits and exchanges between governments, legislatures and political parties, to exchange governance experiences and deepen mutual understanding and trust. We should upgrade cooperation modes under the existing framework like China-CELAC Forum, and continue to understand and support each other on issues of core interests and major concerns, such as sovereignty, territorial integrity, stability and development. Political mutual trust will continue to be the foundation of the development of our bilateral relations.
Secondly, we should advance practical cooperation. The economies of China and The Bahamas are complementary to each other, and there are broad areas for cooperation. The Bahamas has rich tourism resources, while China is a huge potential market. The Bahamian government and travel companies may strengthen tourism promotion in China, and introduce more facilitation policies, promote direct flights between the two countries so as to attract more Chinese tourists to The Bahamas. China and The Bahamas also have huge potential and a bright prospect of cooperation in areas like clean energy, traditional medicine, marine resources and infrastructure.
Thirdly, we should promote people-to-people exchanges. The ways and forms of exchanges should be innovative, and various stages or platforms should be built in order to enhance the effects of the exchanges. With the encouragement of the two governments and endeavors from all walks of life, and the facilitation of a visa exemption agreement between China and The Bahamas, the people-to-people and cultural exchanges will continue to expand. Both sides should strengthen cooperation and exchanges in fields of science, education, cultural and art, provide more scholarships and training opportunities to young students, encourage them to study in each other's countries, and support think-tanks, academic institutions, experts and scholars to conduct exchanges and cooperation.
Fourthly, we should enhance coordination and cooperation in global affairs. The Bahamas is an important country in Latin America and the Caribbean, and plays an important role in international affairs. China and The Bahamas are important developing countries and share extensive common interests. The two sides should enhance communication and coordination on international and regional issues like UN Security Council reform, global economic governance, climate change and China-CELAC cooperation to build a harmonious and mutually beneficial community of common interests.
Twenty years is merely a glimpse of history. The Chinese and Bahamian peoples have made great achievements together. Let's join hands and work together to create a better tomorrow for our bilateral relations.

o Huang Qinguo is the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to The Bahamas.

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Speech from The Throne during Opening of Parliament set for May 24, 2017

May 22, 2017

The Official Opening of Parliament on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 will feature the reading of The Speech from The Throne, which will outline the Government’s policies and objectives for the new session...

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Haiti's lifelong tragedy continues to unfold

May 19, 2017

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been advised to end, by January 2018, temporary protection enjoyed by over 50,000 Haitians originally allowed to seek refuge in the USA following a series of natural disasters that effectively crippled the small and impoverished Caribbean country over the past 12 years.
James McCament, acting director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, in a letter to US Homeland Security Secretary James Kelly at the end of April 2017, concluded that conditions in Haiti have improved enough to end the "temporary protection status" specially afforded the thousands of Haitians fleeing poverty and devastation.
At the same time, also claiming the security situation has improved after a long presence in Haiti, United Nations (UN) peacekeeping troops are also being withdrawn (as of September 2017).
The two events may seem unrelated. But, put together, they add to the grief and anxiety affecting millions in what is still the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Hundreds of thousands of Haitians fear that if the UN troops actually leave without addressing their demands for justice, the world's largest multinational organization may just walk away scot-free of responsibility for two major disasters that took too many lives to be officially excused.
The recommended deportations from the USA will also only add to the complex situation facing the Haitian government and its impoverished vast majority.
But to fully understand the gravity of the unfolding situation, Haiti's history must be briefly revisited.
French-speaking Haiti (27,700 square kilometers) is small country of just under ten million people that shares the island of Hispaniola with Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic (48,671 square kilometers).
However, Haiti is best known as the world's first black republic where slaves, led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, rebelled in 1791 and proudly declared their independence in 1804.
Not even in Africa had a free nation yet been born and the humiliated slave masters enlisted the support of the French government to make the former slaves pay dearly for their freedom.
In 1825, France demanded 150 million gold francs to recognize Haiti's independence, which sum was later reduced to 90 million -- the same amount demanded in compensation by the former slave masters.
Historians and economists agree that this high cost paid by Haiti to France over 122 years (payments continued until 1947) is largely responsible for the country having been anchored in poverty for almost all of its 213 years of nationhood.
In 2003, Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide called on Paris to return the 90 million gold francs, by then estimated at US$21 billion. Soon after, however, he was swiftly and secretly taken hostage by US and French forces and exiled to South Africa.
French President Francois Hollande, in May 2015, ahead of a visit to Port au Prince, said Paris would repay its debt to the island - only to later retract, saying he only meant repaying France's "moral debt" to Haiti.
Poverty has dogged Haiti for over two centuries. But as if that wasn't enough, the poor nation has also had its unfair share of costly natural and manmade disasters.
In 2004, Hurricane Jeanne killed 3,000 people; and in 2016 Hurricane Matthew took over 1,000 lives, destroyed 20,000 houses and displaced over 1.4 million people. But by far the worst was the January 10, 2010, earthquake (of 7.3 magnitude) that took over 220,000 lives, injured 300,000 and left 1.5 million homeless.
A health crisis of catastrophic proportions also hit Haiti in 2010, after UN peacekeepers dumped cholera-infected sewage into a river, resulting in 9,300 deaths and over 800,000 people affected.
Today, the UN stands twice accused in Haiti: facing demands for legal recourse from families of cholera victims, as well as victims of later alleged sex crimes by peacekeepers involving use of food as a weapon for sex.
Successive UN secretaries general have fought hard to shirk organizational responsibility and save the world body facing court claims for compensation for death and other damages caused by its troops in Haiti.
Peacekeepers are shielded from legal claims by UN immunity from prosecution, a policy applied to Haiti under previous secretary general Ban Ki Moon and continued under his successor Antonio Gutteres.
The UN acknowledges awareness of the problems cause by its troops in Haiti, but simply refuses to allow its staff to cooperate with investigators. Now there's the strong possibility that victims will not have their cries for justice heard.
The $346 million UN Haiti mission (MINUSTAH) is one of the longest-running in the world, but the Security Council voted unanimously April 13 to end its 13-year stay there in just six months.
Haitians indeed feel abandoned today, with the world's attention everywhere else.
Its cholera victims and others seeking justice, as well as those now being lined-up for deportation from the USA, continue to pray that official UN diplomatic immunity will eventually be revoked sooner than later; and that the US immigration officials will be dissuaded from deporting 50,000 Haitian refugees, returning them to the poverty and misery from which they thought they had been rescued.

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