Letters

I'm not mad at the IMF

September 18, 2017

Dear Editor,

So the IMF has suggested an income tax to solve our fiscal woes.
Instead of looking at their proposed remedy, I suggest we look at the cause of the fiscal problems.
Simply put, it has been fiscal imprudence by successive governments that has caused this. Yep - spending more than they take in while singing the praises of yet another great budget expansion without taxation to pay for it.
Instead of raising taxes, governments, since independence, have borrowed until the country has hit a threshold that is bringing costs the taxpayer doesn't like.
But wait, the government can just blame the IMF for "forcing" it to implement harsh measures like more taxation; the government would never do anything to hurt Bahamians.
And to top it off, the new government is proposing bringing a so-...

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A job well done

September 18, 2017

Dear Editor,

I have many differences with the Minnis-led administration, but he and his crew are to be congratulated on a job well done with the recent Hurricane Irma. Never before in this era has the central government ever seen fit to actually evacuate many of the Family Islands that historically have borne the brunt of any hurricane. Thousands of grateful Bahamians were brought to New Providence for safety, at the expense of the public, as it should have been.
We are waiting to see the same sort of bold and preemptory leadership by the doctor with the economy, healthcare, education and, of course, unemployment. Minnis is able to do it if he has the political will power needed.
I am not a supporter of the FNM but I like Minnis as an individual and believe that he means all of us well. I...

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Police in our schools

September 18, 2017

Dear Editor,

Call 911! That's right, call the police. What's the matter? Well, I'll tell you - there's a fight going on in one of our schools.
Remember the good old days? A fight was just that - a fight with fists and legs flailing about. There were no guns or knives; it was just a good old rumble. Nowadays that is not the case. These children today are getting out of hand. These fights are so dangerous now that it is not enough to call a security guard to break up the fight. The school authorities have to call the police to deal with the matter. The previous PLP administration saw fit to station the police at our schools. There was no need to call Central. An officer should have already been there. I would pray to God that, that police officer was well armed, or else he/she would have...

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Education: The dumbing down of a nation

September 15, 2017

Dear Editor,
We have known for more than a decade that our educational system and physical plants are in a total and abject mess. Under successive administrations they have gone from bad to worse, if that were possible.
All of the so-called modern ministers of education have lamented the state of affairs, wrung their hands and shed alligator-sized fake tears. Why do I state this without fear of contradiction?
Apart from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health is allocated the biggest chunk of the annual budget. In neither case, I submit, are we receiving value for money. Successive ministers in education, with the exception of the late Carlton E. Francis and now, Jeffrey Lloyd (FNM-South Beach), were not trained educators and may have not been as motivated as they could have been...

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A Ragged Islander's response

September 15, 2017

Dear Editor,

Please allow a few lines to voice this Ragged Islander's opinion. We, like our other Bahamian brothers and sisters, are a proud people who can trace our inheritance on Ragged Island back for the last few hundred years. The small settlement of Duncan Town, Ragged Island, has produced the most lawyers, doctors, boat captains (check the RBDF roster) nurses, businessmen, pilots, educators, musicians, fishermen and other nation builders per island capita, considering the fact that the population of Ragged Island has never been greater than 500.
Up to the 1950s, many boats sailed from Ragged Island to Haiti and Cuba, importing and supplying fruits, vegetables and meats to Bahamians from all walks of life via the market on Prince George Dock years ago.
I listened with much interest ...

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Please support text to donate campaign

September 15, 2017

Dear Editor,

Hurricane Joaquin literally devastated the southeast Bahamas. I was a Red Cross volunteer at the time and I saw firsthand how this storm affected so many people. I remember BTC introducing its text to donate promotion. I remember that everyone could contribute to the cause just by texting. This promotion was able to raise a lot of money, and I also remember BTC and Brickell Management Group matching the donation to provide $30,000 for the Red Cross to help those in need. I was happy to see that BTC is again doing its text to donate promotion.
The amount may sound small, compared to the widespread devastation, but what is important to note is that every single dollar counts. I am grateful for corporate citizens like BTC and so many others that do their best, not just in traged...

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Responding to The Guardian's editorial on 'The Age of Superstition'

September 15, 2017

Dear Editor,

We live in a natural world with many phenomena that we have some understanding of through the benefits of scientific advancement. In spite of that, there are many things we do not understand. It is important to note that just as there are natural laws, there are also spiritual laws. These laws are not to be confused with each other. Having great knowledge of natural law does not equate to having great knowledge of spiritual laws. We are wrong to posit that we only need to understand one of these laws to understand the world around us. We need balance in all things, knowledge of the natural and spiritual.
Rational thinking works well for matters that require that system of thought, but it cannot be used to address every matter that we cannot understand. There are unseen forces...

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Ragged Island will rise again

September 14, 2017

Dear Editor,

The people of Ragged Island and its descendants will not abandon their home in its time of need. Many have seen the pictures and the videos that have come from the island, which are devastating. In the wake of Hurricane Irma a massive cleanup has to be undertaken, and there will have to be a period of rebuilding. Ragged Island has withstood the test of time for hundreds of years and will continue to do so.
Where are the mobile homes that Island Luck and Sebas Bastian donated after Hurricane Joaquin in 2015? Is it not possible for some emergency housing to be sent there to house essential persons to help with the cleanup? Once the cleanup has been carried out, people will return to their properties. They will repair or rebuild with assistance from the government or by the swea...

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Guardian editorial got it right

September 14, 2017

Dear Editor,

Please accept my congratulations for Tuesday's editorial, "Leaving the 'Age of Superstition' behind". Hopefully the editorial will persuade some Bahamians that hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes and floods are natural phenomena and not divine events.

- Leonard Archer

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Coming together

September 14, 2017

Dear Editor,

Thank you for allowing me space in your newspaper to share my ideas with your readers and hopefully initiate discussion by the government, radio talk show hosts and by people in their homes, workplaces and churches about how we can help The Bahamas to become a better country economically and socially.
Before the arrival of Hurricane Irma I spoke to many persons about the idea that this hurricane was going to make this country better, and they looked at me in surprise. I explained that the hurricane was going to affect us psychologically and open us to the possibility of renewal - renewed efforts to rebuild our lives, our businesses and our country. I thought that the hurricane would remind us of what is important (God, people, family, community); strip our desires down to the...

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Christopher Columbus: Saint or sinner pt. 2

September 13, 2017

Dear Editor,

His primary, driving passion was something quite different. Listen to these startling words, written by Columbus himself to the then ling and queen of Spain concerning his lifelong passion to restore Jerusalem to its Christian origin:

"Most Christian and very high princes:
My argument for the restitution of the holy temple to the holy militant church is the following ... :
At this time I have seen and put in study to look into all the scriptures, cos-mog-raphy, histories, chronicles and philosophy and other arts, which our Lord opened to my understanding ( I could sense His hand upon me), so that it became clear to me that it was feasible to navigate from here [Spain] to the Indies; and He unlocked within me the determination to execute the idea. And I came to your Highnesse...

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Christopher Columbus: Saint or sinner pt. 1

September 12, 2017

Dear Editor,

Happy Discovery Day! As recent as 10 years ago we could express that greeting to any Bahamian without hesitation and be certain of a like greeting in return. Not so today, however.
You could start a civil war if you expressed such a wish to certain people today. It's simply amazing just how much this once little tranquil island paradise and its peaceful, gentle people have changed over the years. If some could have their way, this could well be the last time we celebrate Discovery Day.
Christopher Columbus, our once much celebrated and revered discoverer or re-discoverer, is now regarded today with deep resentment and even hatred by some. They do not view Christopher as a brave explorer any longer, but as a vicious exterminator - the first "terminator" to hit "the New World";...

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The triumvirate

September 11, 2017

Dear Editor,

Now that Irma has passed through the country, we who are alive and above ground have much to be thankful for. Material damage can be corrected. Lives lost cannot be replaced. The Minnis administration, along with the opposition, led by Philip Brave Davis (PLP-Cat Island) both rose to the challenge in a mature and unified manner. The PM and Brave et al are to be congratulated on a job well done.
The initial preparations were in fits and starts, but better late than never at all. NEMA needs an urgent makeover and possibly a change in managerial personnel.
The hurricane season is just beginning in earnest, and I would hope that measures are in place to ensure that supplies and essential items are made available and delivered, where possible, by Bahamians and others who might be ...

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Insurers warn of 20-25 rate increase

September 11, 2017

Dear Editor,

Do insurers ever warn of 20 percent to 25 percent insurance rate decreases if hurricanes do not hit? In fact, do insurance rates ever decrease?

- JB

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Hurricane unpreparedness

September 07, 2017

Dear Editor.
Kindly allow me space in your newspaper to discuss a little 'hurricane unpreparedness time'.
Why don't we begin trimming trees during February, annually? Or, why don't we trim trees all throughout any given year, so we can properly manage these trees?
Falling trees do much damage to residential and commercial properties, as well as public infrastructure.
Over many years, Bahamians have permitted trees to simply grow in any fashion, with no pruning. Trees beautify our beaches, streets, parks, public buildings and residences, and all these trees require annual management.
Let's appreciate that trees are beautiful, but understand that we need to manage them, especially living in the hurricane belt.
Going forward, will the relevant government agencies as well as private persons be prepared by not waiting until the months of June through November to manage our trees?

- Gregory Warren Strachan

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Baptism by water

September 07, 2017

Dear Editor,
The Free National Movement administration and its erstwhile leader, Hubert A. Minnis (FNM-Killarney), are about to be baptized by the waters of Hurricane Irma. The Christie administrations, as well as those of Hubert A. Ingraham - both individuals who, mercifully, no longer hold sway over our wonderful nation - were incapable of handling the ravages of assorted hurricanes and storms. Under Ingraham's watch, Freeport and the entire island of Grand Bahama have yet to recover from storms of the 1990s. Joaquin and Matthew, in no small measure, sealed the deathblow, politically, to Christie and crew.
The FNM campaigned on what now is fast looking like a bogus promise that it was 'the people dem time'. That party and its leaders shouted that they had the plans to fix the mess that the PLP and Christie had inflicted and imposed upon the unwashed masses. Well, with the harrowing and rapid approach of Irma, Minnis and the FNM administration are about to be baptized by water. It is now their time to rise to the challenges poised by this Category 5 hurricane. Irma is no joke, but the response by Minnis and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), headed by an incompetent director in the form of Captain Stephen Russell, has been dismal and pathetic at best.
The FNM never had any real plans in place to start governing from day one. Minnis is still being scripted by his handlers, and it is clear that he does not have a hands-on approach to governance and preparing for natural disasters. His administration, so far, has proven to be clueless on so many national issues that it is becoming alarming.
The FNM government, clearly, has no economic stimulation plan; it has no plan for tackling crime; it has no plan for the infrastructure here on New Providence and the major populated Family Islands; it has no plan for education; it has no plan for national healthcare, and for sure, it is not transparent and has shown absolutely no empathy, so far, for a single Bahamian, except friends and cronies.
It is unfortunate that our nation is in the usual hurricane path and has been so from time immemorial. We all know when the season starts, but successive administrations and the lousy NEMA always respond at the very last minute. No regular releases were issued. There was no announced location of shelters throughout the nation. More than 4,000 homes and businesses are still awaiting repairs that were promised by the Christie administration and the lousy NEMA, which has been headed for too long by Russell. It is profound that our major churches are ready to roll with Irma, if necessary. Pastor Melvin Lewis, of Hillside Seventh Day Adventist Church, and his team up there are to be congratulated for their proactive measures.
The PM and his administration are about to be baptized by water, and - except if a modern day John The Baptist emerges - they may not resurface. Nor will there be, I postulate, an opening of the clouds, with a dove coming down to rest over their collective heads. There will also not be the utterance "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased", if they fail to carry us through Irma successfully. Hot coals and brimstones will also be heaped upon them, if there are no recovery efforts and immediate relief following Madam Irma.
When one thinks about it, however, hurricanes, despite their destructive powers, bring out the very best in most of us. Of course, a handful of greedy, thieving and ungodly Bahamians, especially here on New Providence, are the natural sons and daughters of Perdition. Gouging and corrupt practices also abound during this particular season. House breaking and stealing always seem to spike during times when home owners and tenants are away from their properties due to severe flooding and/or the loss of electrical power. The police and defense forces do an excellent job, but they, too, are challenged with real resources to manage natural disasters.
Baptism by water is the unenviable fate of Dr. Minnis and his crew. The ship will weather Irma if all hands are on deck. We all pray to God, by whatever name you choose; lighten up the ballast and tack to the right.
The opposition, led by the next de facto and de jure leader, has an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and empathy on the ground in its constituencies and those that they hope to recapture. Brave is the man and he must rise to the occasion by taking the lead and seizing the initiative. He and the new PLP must also provide necessities of good quality and solace to as many Bahamians as possible. It is good that baptism may be of one or it may be of many, especially where The Holy Spirit is invoked. Yes, we unwashed and God-abandoning Bahamians, will emerge in one piece, again.
To God, then, in all things - even Irma- be the glory.

- Ortland H. Bodie, Jr.

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We should stop the China bashing

September 07, 2017

Dear Editor,

We should all be alarmed by the recent xenophobic rhetoric aimed at our friend and partner China and it is high time we hit the pause button and reflect on our national interest and on geo-politics.
It is tempting for us to think that the goings-on in Nassau rattle the minds of the movers and shakers in Beijing. Contrary to the belief of many Bahamians, we are not the center of the universe and China does not fashion its regional or its global economic and foreign policy based on what effect it might have on their relatively puny investments in our country.
People who ought to know better have been attacking China and impugning its motives here based, presumably, on long-held prejudices, a pro-Western bias and just plain old wrong information.
At the time of our independence in 1973 the Pindling government unwittingly conducted a two-China policy. We officially recognized the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan and formally as Formosa. For a time, former MP Ervin Knowles was packing his bags to head to Taipei as our resident ambassador. He never left.
China was subjected to civil wars and changing national alliances over the years culminating in the great power struggle after World War II between the nationalists led by Chiang Kai-Shek and the communists led by Mao Zedong.
The communists won that war and Chiang and his cohorts fled to Taiwan. Communists were dreaded in those days and so Taiwan held the official Chinese seat at the United Nations until 1971. Most countries delicately navigated a two-China policy until then. The United States recognized Taiwan until President Richard Nixon's famous rapprochement with Beijing the following year. China rejects the sovereignty of Taiwan.
We stuck with Taiwan until 1997 largely because it was in our economic interest to do so, but also because Pindling never had any real foreign policy chops; and our longest serving foreign minister, Paul Adderley, wasn't much of a globalist.
Like the U.S., Britain and other states including Jamaica recognized the People's Republic of China in 1972. It took the bold leadership of Hubert Ingraham to finally get The Bahamas to recognize the PRC on May 23, 1997, and we haven't looked back since.
Our interests with China have been largely economic though over the years cultural ties have strengthened through scholarships and exchange programs. China has always treated us with respect, promptly and efficiently establishing a physical presence here and filling its ambassador's chair with haste. We haven't always reciprocated that courtesy.
We gained great respect with the Chinese when we named Sir Arthur Foulkes as our first (non-resident) ambassador to China. The Chinese consider it an honor when deference is shown by recommending individuals of the highest stature to serve in Beijing. We haven't done so good since Sir Arthur.
Some people believe that the Chinese courted us in 2008 and used Sarkis Izmirlian and his Baha Mar project as a foil to establish a beachhead in this hemisphere. We flatter ourselves if we believe such horse pucky.
It is true that the Chinese have been investing strategically around the world, mostly looking for natural resources that they don't have such as in Australia, Africa and South America, or to create a balance of influence with the United States by investing heavily there.
The U.S. is, by far, the largest recipient of Chinese investment and some iconic American companies are now owned by Chinese interests. Between 2015 and this year, China invested over $160 billion in the U.S. Compare that with the small fries involved with the Baha Mar project and you understand the importance of scaling.
In 2008 when the world's bankers headed for their silos, it was only China left standing with pots of money to invest. Recall that at the time the interest rate earned on our money was near zero percent. What else was China to do with its trillions in reserves but invest it, even if some of those projects would fail. Remember, China for centuries plays a long game. Time longer than rope.
Izmirlian turned to the Chinese because he had nowhere else to turn back then. The terms of the deal didn't bother him enough to cause him to walk away. It was the best he could get at the time and he took it.
The Chinese were obviously not minded to conduct any real due diligence. The project created jobs for Chinese and allowed their state-owned construction company to profile in the Americas. If they had looked into the numbers they would have discovered that the project was simply too big for their novice construction company to do all at once, which was what Izmirlian wanted.
If the Bechtel Group, the largest contractor in the world, had undertaken the project it might have finished on time and (maybe, somewhat) within budget, but Nassau still would have been left with too many high-end hotel rooms chasing a sluggish pool of U.S. tourists.
The country needed a phased development, like Atlantis did. We probably needed more hotel rooms outside of Nassau and we definitely need more middle-of-the-range, two and three star hotels.
What we are getting in Baha Mar is more clustering at the top of the price spectrum while the real growth in the Caribbean is in the middle.
When the project stalled we blamed the Chinese. There is plenty of blame to go around, not the least of which is the inept Christie government, desperate to take credit for a project which the FNM has had to save twice, once with Hubert Ingraham and now with Dr. Hubert Minnis.
It is hubris to believe that the recently announced Chinese government policy against investing in hotels, casinos and entertainment has its genesis in the hiccups at Baha Mar. The $3 billion spent on Baha Mar is but a rounding error for the accountants in Beijing.
We should consider instead that the new policy owes its origins to the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. and to the irritation the Chinese have with his maladroit presidency. Chinese investments in the U.S. have fallen off sharply this year and it is a safe bet that President Xi Jinping doesn't want to pour his money into the U.S. at a time of such uncertainty.
Last year Chinese companies invested heavily in the U.S. hotel and entertainment sector while the government wants to project its wealth as a force for good in the world - building roads and schools and hospitals.
We in The Bahamas, the rest of the Caribbean and the rest of world just got swept up in the wake caused by China shutting down their ATM.
Therefore, instead of criticizing the Chinese and speculating on some supposed grand plot whereby the second largest economy in the world wants to take over and control the 138th largest, we should concentrate on how we could engage with them to our benefit.
We have a massive trade imbalance with China. We could start to fix that by getting more globe-trotting Chinese tourists to buy their duty-free Louis Vuitton bags and Rolex watches here.
Let's ramp up pharmaceuticals production on Grand Bahama and export more to China. And, instead of allowing them or any other country to fish in our waters, let's dispatch our new ambassador to negotiate for importing our seafood. Sea creatures that we curse or throw back such as urchins, hermit crabs or porcupine fish will find willing buyers in China alongside lobster and conch.
For centuries China has been a great player in foreign affairs. They established the famous Silk Road in 200 BCE to broaden trade and to cement their influence near and far.
The guiding principle of our foreign policy is peace with all nations. Let's practice what we preach and stop bad-mouthing our Chinese friends.
Xi has extended the Silk Road to The Bahamas but some of us are too blinded by our prejudices to use it.

- The Graduate

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The only just and fitting punishment

September 06, 2017

Dear Editor,

The recent murder of an 8-month-old infant has horrified and incensed many of us. But I wonder if we as a nation are sufficiently horrified and incensed to ensure that all convicted murderers receive the just and fitting punishment for their crime, which is swift execution by the state. From the looks of things, it does not appear so. Therefore, the carnage will continue, because we continue to send the message to murderers that they can take the lives of others and the state will spare theirs.
Recently, while speaking about our nation's excessively high crime rate, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said, "We are proponents of the death penalty. Our leader talked about it during the campaign trail, and we have not changed our position on that. We will do what we promised we will do." I pray that those words will be put into action very soon, but I wonder what else needs to happen before they are.
I'm eagerly waiting to see if, when and how Prime Minister Minnis and his government will seek to enforce the death penalty. If they do anything short of giving Bahamian voters the opportunity to amend the constitution in such a way to ensure that convicted murderers are swiftly executed by the state, I and others will know they are not serious and are merely engaging in BTNA (big talk, no action).
The reality is that as long as we have a so-called system of justice where people can take a person's life and then be rewarded by having theirs spared (by being sentenced to prison), we will continue to match and break our record rates of murder, year after year. Yes, even when convicted murderers are given a sentence of life in prison, it is more like a reward, because the just and proper sentence for murder is death. And what is worse is that some convicted murderers are given less-than-life sentences.
No doubt, some will chide me for calling for capital punishment. But the reality is that even though it has been more than 17 years since the Bahamian state has executed a convicted murderer, we still have capital punishment. It's just not in the state's hands; it's in private hands. And we will continue to have an ever-increasing murder rate and the continuation of privatized capital punishment if the government refuses to do its job and carry out state-sanctioned capital punishment.
To be clear, I do not support the death penalty as a reaction to our high rate of murder (even though I firmly believe that swift and consistent execution of convicted murderers will reduce our high rate of murder). I support the death penalty because it is the only just and fitting punishment for the crime of murder.

- Pastor Cedric Moss

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In love again, but with The Bahamas

September 06, 2017

Dear Editor,

I recently became an ambassador in the tourism industry. The experience so far has been breath taking.
I have worked in many fields during the course of my professional career ranging from being a Royal Bahamas Defence Force officer, a senior bank manager and a grocery store manager, just to name a few. I have worn many hats.
I always believed in providing excellent customer service while in these professions, and the tourism industry for me is no different. But for some reason I feel a deeper sense of pride. Everything seems to be so natural. The tourism industry has given me a totally different perspective on life and servitude.
I vividly remember in 1998 when I fell in love with the woman of my dreams. We are now married and have a beautiful teenage daughter. Like most couples, our journey has been a storied one, but we are still together, and she is still the one. I knew even back then that she was the one when we met. I know now that The Bahamas is my new love, and the tourism industry will be one channel that I use to express this passion.
Working directly in the tourism industry for only five weeks has made me think about when I met my first love. Do you know what goose bumps are? They are what I get when I learn something new about The Bahamas.
Do you know what it is to lose sleep at night? This has been happening to me ever since I started the Ministry of Tourism's tour guide course several weeks ago.
Do you know how it feels to wake up on a Sunday morning and browse YouTube to listen to Ronnie Butler's songs, like "Shot Gun Wedding", "Burma Road" and "Bungy on Fire"? Or Kirkland "KB" Bodie's "Coo Coo Soup"? Or Gino D's "Drunk Again"? Or The Brilanders' "Party in the Backyard"? Do you know what it is like to do all of this before getting out of bed?
Do you know the feeling of looking at the same buildings that you once passed every day of your life with a renewed sense of pride, and then searching online and through local sources to become better informed about their history?
Scott Kelly, an American astronaut who spent one year in space said, "The Bahamas is the most beautiful place from space". I believe we are the most beautiful country on earth and we have a storied and rich history that all Bahamians need to explore more.
At 43, I have suddenly acquired an insatiable desire to learn more about my country.
I want to now know the full story, the true story. I want to learn about the grave site that is now covered by the basketball court near Reeves Street in Fox Hill.
I want to learn about the early inhabitants, who, I am told, were in The Bahamas as early as 600 AD. I want to learn more about the Glass Window Bridge in Eleuthera.
I need to visit Cat Island, Mayaguana and Rum Cay.
I will continue to learn more about The Bahamas. I will treat her right and take good care of her, because she is mine. I will not allow anything bad to happen to her, no, not under my watch.
I am in love again, and this time it's with my country, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

- Dehavilland Moss

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Being ready for Irma

September 05, 2017

Dear Editor,

Hurricane Irma is a category four storm. It is a life-threatening storm, and it is getting closer to The Bahamas.
We Bahamians should make sure we are prepared on all islands. We've been hit over consecutive years. We all see the potential damage. Many people haven't recovered yet from Hurricanes Joaquin and Matthew.
Make sure you do all of your preparations. Watch the reports from the Department of Meteorology here in The Bahamas and the Weather Channel, out of the U.S.
Not being prepared and being slack could cost you your life. Devastating storms can kill. Remember that Bahamians died in Hurricane Andrew.
As hot as it is, and as warm as the water is, I wouldn't be surprised if this storm strengthens more. If you need to stay in a shelter, do so. Prepare now for it.
We all hope the storm passes us, but hope doesn't affect the direction of storms. Be ready.

- Darwin R. Luther

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