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Volume 6 © 2008
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The site is compiled and edited in The Bahamas by Russell Dames, with writer Claire Booth.  This site does not represent the views of Fred Mitchell, the Government of The Bahamas, the PLP or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

9th November, 2008
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23rd November, 2008
30th November, 2008
2nd November, 2008
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FAREWELL TO CAPT. LEONARD THOMPSON: They laid him to rest in a private ceremony on his home island of Elbow Cay, home also to the famed candy striped Hope Town Lighthouse.  But before they did, the community of Abaco, its leadership class and the country’s leaders appeared at the tiny St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church in Marsh Harbour to bid a formal farewell to the man who was lauded by the Prime Minister as the man who had done more than any other for the modern development of Abaco.  Mr. Ingraham in his usual “don’t know what to say style”, had also to pepper his national tribute with the support that the late Captain Thompson gave to the FNM and how many cheques Captain Thompson personally gave to him in the cause of the FNM.  But you know, he doesn’t know any better.  Captain Thompson served in the House of Assembly from 1949 to 1968.  He was also a leader in the Abaco Independence Movement that wanted The Bahamas to remain a colony of Britain.  He was a former prisoner of war of the Germans in World War II.  He was a developer who started Treasure Cay in North Abaco and the Great Abaco beach Hotel.  He was 92 when he died.  Our photo of the week is that of the body of Captain Thompson being borne by police and defence force pallbearers at the official funeral on Sunday 26th October. 
Photo: Peter Ramsay


The attendance by politicians was sparse, not the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition was there but the Synod went on anyway.  It was the final time, the swan song of the Archbishop of the West Indies Bahamian Drexel Gomez at the national annual gathering of the Anglican Church in The Bahamas.  A penny for the thoughts of all the priests gathered there.  He did not break his record time of the homily of last year of one hour and fifty five minutes.  This year it was only one hour and twenty five minutes, but it contained the usual pointed commentary at the society that he has had an opportunity to shape over the period of his second stint as a Bishop and the historic making first time that a Bahamian Anglican has served as the Archbishop of the West Indies.

The question now is what does he do?  The Archbishop is a smart man.  He is intellectually keen and quite apart from his spiritual and temporal stewardship of the Anglican Church, he has generally been a force for moral good and reason in the society.  He has stood against capital punishment, the excesses of capitalism, and pointed out the need for the society to reason together in its politics.  That voice should not disappear simply because he is retired.  He will no doubt remain a force to be reckoned with given his expert ability to manoeuvre through the slings and arrows of the vicissitudes of Bahamian life.  Some think that what is in store is an international role or consultancy that will keep his mind active and engaged, particularly given his role in seeking to save the Anglican communion in its split over human sexuality and in forging a new covenant for the church to stay together.

On that latter subject, the Bishop was none too optimistic.  He told the church that he believed that despite the best efforts that a split was inevitable.  It is a pity that men of God can’t seem to get their acts together on this.  It seems ironic that positions are so hardened that there is little Christian charity to go around even for fellow church men.

The Archbishop said that for the moment, he expects that when he steps down he will serve as an Assistant Bishop, dispensing whatever role the incoming Bishop Laish Boyd would have him do.  No doubt, if the PLP returns to power, some secular posting may be available for him, but do not look for anything from the FNM government.

What we thought was especially interesting though was his call to the politicians, largely in their absence for the two parties to get together to talk about and settle the future of the country.  The cartoonist Stan Burnside seemed to take the view in his cartoon that this was a national scolding by the Archbishop of the two political leaders.  With respect to Mr. Burnside, that cannot have been a scolding of Perry Christie, whose outstretched hand was cut off during the last election in the face of the silence of the church.  The PLP under Mr. Christie is still, delusional to some, reaching out to Mr. Ingraham and the FNM for some kind of national consensus on the way forward for our country.  The overtures have been met by stony silence at best and outright hostility in most cases.

The Archbishop also joined Bishop Simeon Hall, the Baptist preacher who supports the FNM, in the call for there to be a moratorium in lay offs.  This question of the loss of jobs is a vexing one.  The Archbishop said to employers: “To whom much is given much is required.”  The problem is that there is hurt even in the business community and who is urging a moratorium for them?  We like the call of the clergymen for compassion but that call must be made more loudly and more directly to the leader of the country, Hubert Ingraham.  He is a mean man, with a mean streak and an ear that is impervious to human suffering or pleas for compassion.  He obviously needs prayers.

As the Archbishop demits office at the end of the year, he can look back to some accomplishments. The most major of these would seem to be the number of vocations that were attracted to Anglican Church work during his time, at a time when the church was faced in a marketing sense with an onslaught of attacks from the evangelical and charismatic Christians. The Anglican Church was infected with that evangelical fervour as well, and the main progenitor of that is now engaged in a legal battle with the church over whether he can be forced to retire.   But the young priests are well trained and in the main a disciplined lot.

Will that discipline last under the new Bishop?  The new Bishop was a surprise choice and the question now is will he be tested early in the short term and so put his stamp on the way church will run?  No doubt, he will.  How will he deal with a looming financial crisis of the church?  The church is said to be some three million dollars in debt, a source of great discomfort to many laymen.  How will he respond to the arguments on human sexuality, which is the main crisis point of the international church?  He must also think what about the church’s expansion in the face of the continued onslaught from the evangelicals and the charismatics.  He can take comfort in the fact that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery what with the array of evangelicals and charismatics donning Anglican like robes.

Perhaps the new Bishop and the Roman Catholic Archbishop can become a pair for reason in the church community.  We wait to see.  And so Archbishop, farewell and thank you for all that you did for the country during your time.  Exit stage left.

Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 31st October 2008 at midnight: 308,915.

Number of hits for the month of October up to Saturday 31st October 208 at midnight: 1,214,179.

Number of hits for the year 2008 up to Saturday 31st October 2008 at midnight: 11,215,289.

Anglican Archbishop Drexel Gomez addresses his final Synod as Archbishop- Nassau Guardian photo: Edward Russell III



    Members of the standing committee of the police chiefs of Caricom were in town for the week.  They were hosted by the Bahamian police chief Reginald Ferguson.  Mr. Ferguson know doubt will have had much to tell them about how he is unable to fight crime in The Bahamas and how he is mired in a political controversy (see story In Passing) in which it appears that political ideology is stopping the effective fight against crime.
    Welcoming the regional police chiefs to The Bahamas and wishing them well was the Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham with his Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest in tow.  The Bahamas has 65 murders for the year and it appears that we may be on track to equal or exceed last year’s figure of 79.  All of the police chiefs in the region are in similar trouble.  St Lucia is wracked by dissension over the hiring of foreign police officers.  Antigua’s Commissioner was fired and the Opposition is on the government’s back about crime and murder.  Jamaica is in the worst shape with regard to crime, with no idea how to combat the murders that plague their country.  In Trinidad and Tobago, the Police chief is also the subject of political controversy and the country lives in fear of kidnapping and murder.
    We hope they have a good conference but in the case of our police chief, he would do well to learn some lessons in political etiquette and how not to let your political beliefs interfere with the performance of an effective crime fighting job on the force.
Nassau Guardian photo: Donald Knowles

    The Bahamas’ Minister of Education Carl Bethel has signed an agreement with the Government of Cuba to extend the stay of 40 odd teachers in The Bahamas.  The agreement was signed with the Cuban Ambassador Jose Luis Ponce on 30th October.  Many of the teachers are Spanish language teachers but many are also involved in special education.
    This is the renewal of an agreement made under the PLP government and the particular idea of Perry Christie, the former Prime Minister.  Mr. Christie has a special child Adam who is autistic.  Because of that, he met other parents without his resources who could not afford the care for autistic children and the PLP government got involved in bringing the Cuban support for the problem.  Mr. Bethel was effusive in his praise for the agreement saying that he had heard from many of the parents about how successful the special needs programme was.
    The FNM has been insulting to the Cubans and skittish in their interaction with Cuba.  They believe their own propaganda about relations with Cuba that because we have good relations with Cuba we will have bad relations with the United States.  But Cuba clearly has something to share with us, and they are also our neighbours just as the US is.  The Cubans are still awaiting word on agreement to continue the eye care programme started under the PLP.  We think the renewal of the teachers is good for The Bahamas and we find that at last this government can make a decision in the best interest of the country, instead of making decisions purely for political purposes.

    The Nassau Guardian carried an editorial on Wednesday 29th October in which it criticized Members of Parliament and Ministers of the government and their staffs for not responding or not responding adequately to requests from the press for information.  The Guardian is impressed that Barbados is about to pass a Freedom of Information Act which will provide Barbadians with a right to know information from the government.
    We agree that the public has a right to know.  We agree that this government, in fact all governments tend to be too secretive about information.  The problem does not just exist at a political level but it is encouraged and buttressed by a stubborn refusal by the public service to adjust to any new policy in this area.  There is then lots of blame to go around.
    The immediate problem about which The Guardian was concerned was that Kenyatta Gibson, the MP from Kennedy refused to provide them with information about how he spent his $100,000 constituency allowance provided by the Government.  The Guardian said that they had been working on it for three weeks and that it was like pulling teeth to get some people to answer and in the case of Mr. Gibson, he did not answer at all.  Looked at from Mr. Gibson’s probable point of view, a point of view we do not share, he can safely say that after all he has been through why should he give a damn about what the Guardian thinks?  He no doubt thinks that in the run up to the 2007 election, he was sandbagged by the press and despite all the adverse publicity attendant to his conduct in public life, his constituents re-elected him with a resounding victory when the trend was against the PLP under whose banner he was elected.  Like Rhett to Scarlet in ’Gone With The Wind’, he can say to The Guardian “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”.
    The Guardian is right about the right to know.  There must be a change of the culture but that change is not one just for the elites.  The public at large has re-elected an FNM government that was riddled when they were in office with corruption and conflict of interest.  But the press was only interested in alleged PLP corruption and conflict of interest, not in the FNM and its corruption and conflicts, known ones, not allegations as in the case of the PLP.  So the PLP may well take the position; why should we deal with a press that is biased and imbalanced?  So to The Nassau Guardian and the progenitors of the idea of the right to know and freedom of information: this is a two way street and the press in The Bahamas needs to clean up its own act, begin to be balanced, fair and responsible and then maybe  more of those phone calls will get answered.


    It is clear that the Minister of Education Carl Bethel and the Ministry have dropped the ball in seeking to solve the problem at the Eight Mile Rock High school.  We called the attention of the public to the issue last week in this column.  We also called the attention of the public to the fact that the new junior high school in Grand Bahama is being occupied by teachers and students without a building occupancy certificate in contravention of the law.  No word from the Ministry.
    This week, the teachers had had enough of the poor environmental conditions at the school and called a meeting with the Minister at the school to hear how it was to be resolved.  When Mr. Bethel got there on Thursday 30th October, he was met by a crowd of hostile parents and teachers from throughout the system and their union president Belinda Wilson.  They decided that they wanted to meet with him, not just allowing their colleagues of the Eight Mile Rock School to meet.  He decided that he would not do so, and stormed out of the meeting to the chagrin and anger of parents and teachers.
    The Minister must have been stung by the allegations and called a press conference on Friday 31st October to explain his behaviour.  He said that the meeting was not to be with all teachers only those at the Eight Mile Rock School.  Clearly, this was not a good week for Mr. Bethel.  The pictures are all over the net of him leaving the meeting in a huff.  We have some of the pictures by Allyson Smith of the event.  We also have the video links [here and here] that show how the teachers led by Mrs. Wilson called for the Prime Minister to remove both the Permanent Secretary at Education Elma Garraway and the Minister forthwith.  Good luck with that!  We will see the second coming first.  Here is Mr. Bethel’s explanation in his own words:

    “…It was not appropriate to continue with any form of the meeting because I felt that there was an absence of the good faith that required preconditions for such a meeting.  When I entered the hall, I was told by the president that there was a meeting that had started with all of the teachers since 8 o’clock in the morning, but it had run over time.
    “The president's claims were false, based upon the information he received before he entered the gymnasium.
    “I was told that they had already voted that if asked to leave, they would all remain.
    “If the teachers felt that I was rude and disrespectful, I am sorry that they felt that way.  I think that it was strange that the teachers were out of their classrooms when no industrial dispute was filed.
    “Let me re-emphasize that the health and welfare of our teachers and all of our students in the school environment, which should be conducive to learning, is of paramount importance to the Ministry.
    “Health tests that were conducted and show that of the 860 students at the EMRHS, 326 were screened, 37 of the 68 teachers and 12 workers were screened, and of that 37, eight would require further testing.
    “No reference in the scope of works with the contracts that were issued indicated any attempts to deal with the causes of the infestation noted in January of 2005.
    “The ministry has arranged for the students to have classes at St. Stephen's Parish Hall and Bethel Deliverance Baptist Church.
    “It is the view of the Ministry of Education that with the exception of the four tin buildings which require substantial repairs.... the school premises is safe for occupancy and instruction and all of the scheduled classes can be held at regular school hours. A programme has been arranged for teachers o be paid for additional classes after school for the students to 'catch up' on their missed classes”

    With two days left in the long run up to the U.S. presidential election, The Bahamas is on pins and needles.  Mr. Obama, who is black, is the clear favourite of the Bahamian people, if for that reason and no other.  Not too many are concentrating on policy, even though a few of the Rick Lowe types have been trying to say that Mr. Obama will be bad for business because he intends to shut down tax havens like The Bahamas.  Mr. Lowe’s types are too associated with racism to have credibility in that area with the masses so they are largely ignored.
    This is very much a matter of racial pride.  Racial pride aside however, it appears that wishful thinking may cause serious withdrawals if Mr. Obama loses as the polls seem to indicate there is chance that he might.  There is also the trepidation that forces will try to kill Mr. Obama if he appears to be winning as he does now appear.  There is also the fear that some surprise will come out of the box, like finding Bin Laden, to sink Mr. Obama’s chances.
    We know that when this is over and next week when we upload, we will almost certainly know who the winner is, there will be withdrawal symptoms all around.  There is serious work to be done in the US and here at home.  The economy of the US is in serious trouble.  The economy in The Bahamas is not well.  What Bahamians ought to know is that whoever wins, we have to work with them to try and keep the country afloat, so enjoy the moments but let’s hope that we can all work together to make our country safe, wealthy and secure when the dust settles.  Oh by the way, we support Mr. Obama as well and wish him all the best.

    The Nassau Guardian reported on Friday 31st October that the Atlantis property, engine of the tourism economy in The Bahamas is planning to cut back its labour force by ten percent.  That would mean some 800 to 1000 people are to lose their jobs either permanently or on furlough for an indefinite period.  The tourism sector is in deep trouble and so is our economy.  The government is not seriously addressing the resultant social tensions because of the economic situation.  Its members do not seem to take these issues seriously.
    Another sign of the times was the announcement by the Bahamas Hotel Workers Union and the Hotel Employers Association that it would tap into their joint trust fund to provide 6 million dollars in monies to help tide people over in the bad times.  The grants are to be up to $1,000 each in order to pay electricity bills and other emergency needs.  When the doors opened on the day after the announcement on Tuesday 28th October at the hotel union’s offices some 200 people showed up pushing, shoving screaming and the Union itself was not prepared for the onslaught of people and their demands.  There was the usual charge of the assisted that the relief effort was disorganized.  But this is a sign of the times and it was easily reminiscent of the long lines that appeared in front of the offices of the Department of Social Services when the government announced its relief effort.  All of it was and is demeaning to the poor and the needy.
    The cry is now going out for the government to do something systemic to deal with these issues.  The former Minister of State (PLP) James Smith has described the government’s efforts so far as piecemeal.  Former Prime Minister Perry Christie has called for the formation of an economic council to deal with issues and other PLP spokesmen have called for the Prime Minister to address comprehensively the country on the issue of the economy.  Meanwhile, Bahamians are hunkering down for what promises to be a long difficult period ahead.  The US economy does not seem to be settling down and the lag effect on The Bahamas has not yet set in but we started with the tourism figures and they do not look good in the medium term.  So far, hundreds have been laid off or fired from the tourism sector, scores more in the construction industry are idle.  But the greatest blow would be Atlantis.  If 500, 800 or 1,000 people lose their jobs there, what a disaster that will be.


    The church of St. Augustine of Canterbury in San Salvador celebrated its fifth Recognition Service on Sunday, 12th October, 2008.  In addition to the special service, the parish hosted a gala banquet as part of the recognition activities.
    The Rt. Rev’d. Laish Boyd, Bishop Coadjutor of the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands,  offered accolades to the honourees for their contribution to the Church and their involvement in nation building.  He also offered congratulations and encouragement to Fr. Jude Edomwonyi and members of the vestry as they seek to promote mission and ministry in the parish.
    The honourees, who all received plaques, were Canon Basil Tynes, Father Sebastian Campbell, Mrs. April Edomwonyi, Mr. Jarvis Jones, Mrs. Linda Jones, Mrs. Chantel Pinder, Mrs. Laurel Beattey, Mrs. Ruth Nairn  and the island Administrator Mr. Jordan Ritchie.  Byran Woodside, Minister of State for Land and Local Government in the office of the Prime Minister was present.
Photos: St. Augustine’s Communications Ministry


    Last Sunday as we uploaded the site, the funeral of the late and former Member of Parliament for Abaco (1949-1968) Captain Leonard Thompson was taking place.  The funeral was attended by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham and the former Prime Minister Perry G. Christie.  The photos show Mr. Christie arriving with his Members of Parliament Picewell Forbes at the left back, Alfred Sears at the left front, and Alfred Gray at the right back and the former PM’s aide Inspector Warren Johnson at the funeral held at St. Francis de Sales Church in Marsh Harbour; also a photo of Fred Mitchell PLP MP for Fox Hill and former Foreign Minister with now Foreign Minister Brent Symonette who were part of a team of eight Parliamentary pallbearers for the official funeral.
BIS photos: Peter Ramsay

Mortgage Assistance From Finco
Tanya McCartney who heads the largest mortgage company in the country RBC FINCO told the Nassau Guardian that they are helping to keep mortgage defaulters in these bad times afloat by two plans: allowing a moratorium on payments altogether for a period or allowing a moratorium on principle payments with the interest being paid.  There will have to be plenty of this kind of help.  Meanwhile Commonwealth Bank, the Bahamian consumer lending bank continues to expand its lending portfolio and is even building a new branch on Prince Charles Drive.  Do they know something we don’t know?

Christian Council On Gambling
Despite the overwhelming public support for legalized gambling for all Bahamians, the popularity of selling numbers, the gambling game that goes on in the ubiquitous web shops around town, the Bahamas Christian Council’s President Patrick Paul says that it continues to oppose gambling.  The president of the Council made his statement to the press last week.  The problem is we know that he cannot speak for the Council in its entirety because neither the Anglican Church nor the Catholic Church opposes gambling as intrinsically evil or immoral.  We believe that the church is not being realistic such as they speak through the Christian Council and the government should move post haste to legalize all forms of gambling for Bahamians and Bahamian residents.

Franklyn Butler Funeral
As we upload today, the funeral of the late Franklyn Butler Sr., the son of the former and late Governor General of The Bahamas Sir Milo Butler and formerly the head of Milo Butler and Sons Ltd., is taking place at St. Agnes Anglican Church in Grants Town.  Mr. Butler led his father’s grocery business into a Bahamian giant and parlayed his inheritance into being a major shareholder to some of the nation’s most important businesses.  You may click here to post a message on a website created by Bradley Roberts, former Minister of Public Works in his memory.

Dreaded Stupid Daylight Saving Time Ends
Daylight Saving Time in The Bahamas that follows what happens in the U.S. finally comes to an end and we reverted to the proper time at 2 a.m. this morning.  Now we can all get a restful night’s sleep until these clowns change the time again in the spring.  Why don’t they leave the time alone?

The Commissioner’s Response
The Commissioner of Police Reginald Ferguson was in the news last week in an article written in the Bahama Journal by Tamara McKenzie.  Ms. McKenzie sought to get a comment from the Commissioner on whether or not the allegations by Fred Mitchell (click here for the statement) were correct that the police are leaking information to the press about a so called investigation in an alleged construction scam.  The Commissioner was dismissive and combative saying that while there is an investigation, he did not conduct police business in the press and that the press ought to be careful not to print information where private agendas are being pursued.  This is a curious comment from a Commissioner of Police who is dealing with a politician and a PLP one at that in Fred Mitchell.  Secondly, his brother Johnley Ferguson, the Chairman of the FNM, was not to be outdone.  He claimed that what Mr. Mitchell alleged about the FNM being possibly involved in such a conspiracy is talking nonsense and argued that Mr. Mitchell ought to bring up the proof.  Do you not think that the Chairman of the FNM should have better sense than to seek to defend his brother’s conduct, knowing what the PLP alleges about this all.  Things that make you go Hmmm!

Rudy King Lives To Fight Another Day
The bankruptcy order by the Supreme Court against Rudy King, sometimes known as Dr. Rudy King, wanted fugitive from justice in the U.S. and the man who escaped the clutches of a $400,000 debt from American Express, has been set aside by the Court of Appeal.  It appears that despite the misgivings of the President of the Court of Appeal, the order to set it aside was given.  Two other Justices agreed to set the matter aside.  So Cavalier Construction who thought that it had an enforceable judgment against Mr. King for $824,938 has to start all over again after two years.  The debt is owed for the renovation of Mr. King’s home in Skyline Drive.  Mr. King is like a cat with nine lives and of course, he had God to thank for it.  The press reported that he said the following:
“First and foremost I thank God for giving me the strength to go through this process.  I’ll now put this behind me.  I will look forward to doing better and greater things as I am normally accustomed to doing.
“This was a delay, but there is a process and God allowed me to go through this process and I’m able to really search myself and to see who I really am, and allow Him to work through me.  I’m just going to move on with my life now, put this all behind me.  Like Philippians says, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and that’s all I’m concerned about.
“I have no animosity towards anybody.  I know this was a personal thing against me by... some political persons who are no longer in power, but God is God and if you prove faithful and if you are chosen by God, He will take you through the process, but you will be victorious.”

Lia Lashley

The granddaughter of the former Governor General Sir Orville Turnquest and Lady Turnquest, daughter of Caryl and Charles Lashley and niece to Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest was buried in Nassau on Friday 31st October.  Lia was 24 and died suddenly reportedly from kidney failure in Jamaica where she was studying medicine.  Her case was complicated reportedly by sickle cell anaemia.  She is survived by her parents and brothers.  The funeral took place at St. Christopher’s Church in Lyford Cay.  Archdeacon Keith Cartwright presided.

Photos: Peter Ramsay

Previous Columns
9th November, 2008
Welcome to
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The Official Site of the Progressive Liberal Party... The Official Site of the Free National Movement...
PLPs On The Web... Interesting Places...
Bradley Roberts / PLP Grants Town Bahamas Government Website
Neville Wisdom / PLP Delaporte  Reg & Kit's Bahamas Links
Alfred Sears / PLP Fort Charlotte Bahamians On The Web
Melanie Griffin / PLP Yamacraw Bahamian Cycling News
John Carey / PLP Carmichael FredMitchellUncensored.Com ARCHIVES...
Grand Bahama PLP
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MR. PRESIDENT: The Bahamas and Bahamians were captivated by the American presidential election.  It was obviously historic.  It is also obvious that what happens in the US affects what happens in The Bahamas.  It is also obvious that culturally, The Bahamas is a part of the United States.  On Tuesday 4th November, election day in the United States, you would have thought that The Bahamas was also politically and jurisdictionally a part of the United States.  Bahamians were riveted to their TV sets watching to see if the first man of African descent could actually be elected President of the United States.  At 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, just after the polls closed on the Pacific coast of the United States, the networks of the US declared Barack Hussein Obama the President elect of the United States.  He had done it.  There was cheering all around our country.  There were tears.  People could hardly believe what was happening, that in their lifetime a black man had become President of the United States.  So our photo of the week is the picture of the man Barack Obama, his wife and two children as they mounted the stage, showing the black family that he is preparing to take that into the White House, home of the Presidents of the United States of America.


Lord, we ain’t what we want to be; we ain’t what we ought to be; we ain’t what we gonna be, but thank God, we ain’t what we was.

---Quoting Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Addressing the Legislature of the State of Hawaii

The result became clear by 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the evening of 4th November.  The temperature was just right in Washington D.C., the city that soon he would rule.  Barack Hussein Obama is now the President elect of the United States of America.  He has done it.  All over the world, people including Bahamians broke out in spontaneous applause and cheering for the son of a Kenyan immigrant who ended up, a first generation American being President of the United States.  How likely is that story?

It is an unlikely story but Americans are too fond of saying only in America are there stories of people who start from nothing and become something.  It is not only in America.  Certainly, the scale is different, but there are other stories.  People from the Caribbean who migrated to Britain and became members of the House of Lords.  People from Africa, whose children became leaders in the House of Commons in the UK.

In The Bahamas, we must not forget that Lynden Pindling’s father was an immigrant from Jamaica.  He married a Bahamian woman, and their son a first generation Bahamian at the age of 36 liberated our country from racial oppression and mental slavery at the age of 36.  The night of 4th November for African Americans had a similar feel and effect as the night of 10th January 1967 on Bahamians of African descent.  The people of African descent in the United States expressed the feeling that a great weight had been lifted off their shoulders.  At last, their humanity had been fully embraced by their country.

During the campaign, the curmudgeon Republican establishment led by John McCain was busy negating Michele Obama because she dared to say that following the choice of her husband as the nominee for the Democratic Party that for the first time she was proud of her country.  During the campaign, the spinmeisters of the Republican establishment sought to denigrate the preacher who heads the church that the Obama family attended.  They used excerpts from speeches by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to damage Mr. Obama.  Mr. Obama was willing to pay the price to win and he simply left the church and disavowed the preacher.  But imagine the cultural divide between the two Americas that could not understand, do not understand what happens in the churches of African Americans in the U.S.  Imagine someone trying to pin on you the words of your pastor.  Sometimes we bet you don’t even listen to the sermons much less embrace them.

In any event, Mr. Obama ran a skilful campaign.  John McCain’s campaign was a mess.  Where Mr. Obama was smooth and on message.  Mr. McCain was fitful and off message.  Things were not running in Mr. McCain’s favour: not the tide of history, not the economy, not the mood of the country and the world.  The Bush administration, headed by a President with low poll numbers had lost all of their hubris from the early years.  Their leader had squandered American goodwill and was virtually in hiding during the campaign.  Not even his own party members wanted to be seen with him.  It must have been a moment of great embarrassment and discomfort.

On the evening when the result became clear, the people of the US capital city engaged in a great communal catharsis.  They moved into the street in Washington DC.  Car horns were honking throughout the city.  They headed to the White House stood in their thousands in front of the White House, home of the President.  It was very much like being in The Bahamas, where after the election the losers have to hear the taunts of the Bahamian people telling them to take off the MP licence plates from their cars and turn in the government cars.  It is not a pleasant business.  They were young people in the main, beating drums and taking pictures and shouting out “Yes we did!”

When Mr. Obama took to the stage in Chicago, his home city, to accept and acknowledge the fact that he had won, he spoke deliberately and soberly.  While others felt the weight had been lifted off their shoulders, he looked as if he had the weight of the world on his.  Indeed, he does.  The expectations are high about what can be accomplished.  People are talking in way that is apocryphal.  He did try to dampen down expectations but what the heck.  Let the people want to enjoy the moment while they can.

And so the work of Mr. Obama begins in earnest.  There is a transition to carry out.  The Bahamas could learn a lesson about transitions, where in the US it takes 75 days, in The Bahamas, it takes one day.  We are sure it is no less brutal and difficult for an unpopular President leaving office but it is certainly more seemly and dignified.  The law in this country should be amended so that following a general election; it takes 90 days before the new government takes office.

We wish Mr. Obama well.  Like most in The Bahamas, we join our countrymen in hoping that he helps this country and this region progress, rather than regress.  But Bahamians should remember that Mr. Obama will become the President of the United States of America, not the President of The Bahamas.  He must represent the interests of his country, not those of The Bahamas.  He must also be sensitive to the American role in the world, there is no doubt but as he moves forward, the question for us must not be so much what will he do to help us but what will our own Government do to help us.

Best wishes to the new U.S. President.

Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 8th November 2008 up to midnight: 280,960.

Number of hits for the month of November up to Saturday 8th November 2008 at midnight: 302,199.

Number of hits for the year 2008 up to Saturday 8th November at midnight: 11,496,249. 



    Today, we commemorate the fallen soldiers of the  great wars of the 20th century that led twice to the defeat of Germany.  The heroes of those wars that survived are now sadly almost all passed.  But we remember their sacrifices that we might enjoy the freedom we have today.  We also remember this day the four marines: Fenrick Sturrup, Edward Williams, David Tucker and Austin Smith, who lost their lives in the defence of The Bahamas on 10th May 1980 when their ship the HMBS Flamingo was sunk in waters off Ragged Island by Cuban fighter jets.  A solemn service of remembrance was led at the Christ Church Cathedral, followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the Cenotaph in Parliament Street.

BIS photos: Peter Ramsay


    Paul Adderley, the country’s first Attorney General in an independent Bahamas should be congratulated for in his retirement and very senior years almost single handedly leading the charge against the forces of a resurgent Hubert Ingraham in the courts.  Mr. Adderley took on the case of interpreting what Article 36(4) of the Constitution meant.  That is the provision that provides for three senators to be appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition but circumscribed by the condition that the three senators must cause the Senate to reflect the political balance of The House.
    When you look at the mathematical formulation, it shows that the split between the FNM and the PLP in the House gives the three senatorial appointments to the PLP.  We say it that way because every Prime Minister up to this one has always interpreted the position in that way.  Whomsoever the Leader of the Opposition recommends, then the Prime Minister gives the appointment to that person.  Mr. Adderley brought the case against the appointment of two FNMs Tanya Wright and Anthony Musgrove.  The first is a closet FNM, who is described as neutral because of her antecedent as the President of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce.  The latter is an FNM because he is the Deputy Leader of the FNM and ran on the FNM ticket in the last general election.
    The appointments should have gone to the choices of Perry Christie:  Michael Halkitis (which Mr. Ingraham did) and then Raynard Rigby and Ricardo Treco in that order.  Mr. Ingraham sought to play games and appointed who he wanted.  The court case ensued.
    Now after months and months of delay and legal wrangling, the Court through Chief Justice Burton Hall has ruled that the appointment is the Prime Minister’s that he is not bound by the choices of the Leader of the Opposition, but he cannot act unreasonably in exercising the power because of the limiting condition that it must reflect the balance of the House.  Therefore, said the Judge, Mr. Musgrove’s appointment was invalid because he was subject to the FNM whip, whereas Mrs. Wright’s appointment was valid because the evidence of her political affiliation is thin and therefore in the eyes of the court she is neutral.  Bottom line, Mr. Musgrove’s seat as a Senator is vacant.  The point is whether it was vacant ab initio or only vacant at the point at which the declaration was made by the Courts.  It makes a difference as to whether or not the monies paid to Mr. Musgrove from the Treasury have to be returned, some argued.
    Mr. Ingraham announced that he will comply with the Court’s order, and that he will in due course appoint someone else.  We disagree with the Judge and the PLP must appeal: the appointments are for the Leader of the Opposition and that is that.  Tanya Wright’s appointment should also be declared invalid.  The PLP has not announced what it intends to do.  You may click here for the full judgment of Sir Burton Hall, delivered on 5th November, 2008.


    On the day after Senator Anthony Musgrove, the FNM senator was stripped of his seat in the Senate the press reported the following statement by Mr. Musgrove:
“I have the privilege to serve in the Upper House, based on the recommendation to his Excellency, the Governor General, [made] by the prime minister, and as far as I'm concerned, until I am no longer in a position to serve or the prime minister feels that I should no longer serve, then, as far as I’m concerned, I will continue to function as a senator in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.  I am still a senator in the Commonwealth and as a result I will continue to function in that office.”
    At the same time and without telling a word, it appears, to former Senator Musgrove, who is also the Deputy Chairman of the FNM; the Leader of his party Hubert Ingraham was sounding off to the press:
“The government will comply with the decision of the court, as is our duty.  So the first thing [Wednesday 5th November] morning, I gave instructions, firstly, to the Treasurer to discontinue the pay of Senator Musgrove with effect from Tuesday – the day before the court made the decision.
    “Secondly, to cause a letter be written to the President of the Senate, the Clerk of the Senate, the Governor-General, to advise them of the decision of the court.  The Attorney General’s office tells me that they are proposing to appeal.  That’s entirely up to them.  The Prime Minister of The Bahamas will in due course make an appointment to the Senate.  He will consult the leader of the opposition.  He’ll make an appointment.”
    Mr. Ingraham’s statement was not a considered statement.  It was made rashly and without forethought.  It was part of his usual boorish response to serious matters.  It was, quite simply, piggish.  He undercut one of the young leaders of his party and embarrassed the man before the country.  He ought to be condemned for his loutishness and vulgarity.  No words of consolation, no words of thanks.  No words of regret.  He did not even get the constitutional facts correct.  The amount given to Senators from the Treasury is not pay.  It is described in the estimates as an honorarium.  Senators do not get paid for what they do.  Not even a thank you to the Senator Musgrove who finds himself in this embarrassing position because of the stupidity and rashness of Mr. Ingraham.  He suffers for Mr. Ingraham's mistake.  My! My! My!  What a louse.

    Branford McCartney is a decent young man with potential who has brought a measure of a balance back to the Immigration portfolio as its Minister of State.  Unfortunately, Mr. McCartney has overstepped his bounds, and fallen into a grave error by ordering the ban of the Jamaican musician Mavado from The Bahamas.  The Bahamas Christian Council and a number of church leaders went on a witch hunt to have the concert stopped because they objected to certain lyrics that the performer sings.  His records are extremely popular in The Bahamas.
    The fact of this ban will not stop people from listening to the music.  But in the end, it did damage the business success of a group of young Bahamians and for no good reason.  And even if the government did not agree to grant a work permit, on what basis was the artist denied a tourist visa to the country and then escorted like a common criminal back on the Air Jamaica flight back to Kingston?  This is short sighted and wrong.
    The morality police this country are always on some kind of misguided witch hunt going in the wrong direction.  Mr. McCartney sought to deny the access of the artist into the country because he said the lyrics were objectionable.  So free speech in the country is at stake because Mr. McCartney and the government can decide what can and cannot be heard.  Mr. McCartney ought to rethink his situation, and the promoter should sue the government for the loss of revenue.
    Here is what Sigma Management said in its own words as published in the Bahama Journal on Friday 7th November:
    “We also wish to state for the record that as a result of the decision taken by the state minister for immigration, we lost a substantive amount of money.  More importantly we timed our events such as these concerts the past eight years to help generate some much needed monies in the local economy of The Bahamas, and to ease the financial woes of many local Bahamians just before Christmas.
    “We choose to spend big bucks and long dollars at this crucial time of the year as producers of these concerts while other promoters are shutting down productions.  We do not believe we are deserving of the poor treatment we have received from our government authorities.
    “Mavado, who has broken no laws in The Bahamas, was poorly treated and unjustifiably discriminated against by Bahamas Immigration upon arrival at the Lynden Pindling International Airport on Thursday October 30, 2008.
    “He was not permitted to enter the country or given any reason why he couldn’t enter as an entertainer or as a tourist.  He was escorted back to the aircraft when he arrived at the immigration counter and suffered embarrassment and humiliation as he was singled out among those arriving on the flight and handled in a degrading fashion.  This was most un-professional and unacceptable.
    “Considering all this, the question we as local promoters now face is how can anyone plan any business in this jurisdiction when it appears that decisions are made ‘willy nilly’ by those in authority for the benefit and comfort level of those ‘special interest groups’ whose objective is to tear down and condemn just because they choose to?”


    It has been a long eight years.  George Bush was not in our view a good President of the United States.  He embarrassed his country because of the way he handled the world and the way he created and prosecuted a war against a sovereign country, removing a President, which allowed a victor’s justice to be wrought upon the man and that country by his internal enemies.  America is certainly better off because it has righted a great wrong with the election of Barack Obama.  This is not a panacea for all ills but it is a beginning.  The US is a fine country and many of us just could not understand the morality of its leaders as they embarked on an assault on their constitution, on their values and on the way of life that they espoused as emblematic of the “free world”.  It is over now and obviously, the world breathes a collective sigh of relief.  Farewell.


    The funeral service of the late businessman and civic activist Franklyn Butler took place at St. Agnes Anglican Church in Grant’s Town where he had once served as a vestryman and People’s Warden.  Mr. Butler was believed to be one of the richest black Bahamians.  He is survived by his wife and five sons.  Former Prime Minister Perry Christie MP attended the service on Sunday 1st November.

Photos: Peter Ramsay



The troika that runs The Bahamas is the Governor General Arthur Hanna, a former Deputy Prime Minister; Perry Christie, the now Leader of the Opposition and a former Prime Minister; and Hubert Ingraham, a former Leader of the Opposition, once Prime Minster and now Prime Minister again.  The Governor General has the power to summon them to his House and he did on Friday 7th November for lunch.  Where is that fly on the wall when we need him?
BIS photo: Peter Ramsay


    The Grand Bahama Council of the PLP held a conclave for PLPs in Grand Bahama from Friday 7th November 2008 to Saturday 8th November.  Delegates got a chance to air their concerns to party leader Perry Christie and to Chair Glenys Hanna Martin.  The Chair of the Grand Bahama Council is Senator Pleasant Bridgewater.  Other PLP parliamentarians attending the event were Fred Mitchell MP Fox Hill, Senator Jerome Fitzgerald, Picewell Forbes MP South Andros, Dr. Bernard Nottage, MP Bain and Grants Town.

Some photos from the prayer breakfast Saturday 8th November by Allyson Smith


A modest Economic Stimulus Package Proposal
    All indications are that we are headed for a global recession and history has taught us that such a downturn can last between eighteen and thirty-six months so a fairly comprehensive economic stimulus package is always necessary to navigate a country through these challenging times. This has to be driven by the government for three reasons. Firstly, “the happiness and prosperity of our citizens ...” according to Thomas Jefferson and this is true today as it was back in 1811. Secondly, the government is the legal guardian of market efficiency and thirdly, the primary goal of the firm (or the private sector) is to maximize shareholder value, not the happiness and prosperity of the citizenry. The government cannot rely on the private sector to lead this charge.
    To offer relief on consumption items, part of the $131 million in tax concession given to businesses (as part of the revitalization act) should be repealed and part of the sweeping and precipitous customs duties increases and excise taxes should rolled back. This will provide balance in priming the country’s economic pump. The PM did not say that the excise taxes and the current duty and stamp tax regimes will increase government revenue by 10% over 2007 figures or some $146 million. How is this possible when the economic growth for this fiscal year is pegged at 2% and the government only collects 20 cents out of every dollar generated in the Bahamian economy? At 2% growth rate the government should realize $28 million in revenue increase over 2007. This was possible only through sweeping tax increases that will amount to $250 million per annum or a cool $1 billion over the next four years. While I appreciate the government’s strategy of avoiding deficit spending, the social cost to the country is too great as poverty, crime and general loss of hope will increase. Asking the taxpayers to cough up $1 billion over the next four years is a bit much. We must remember that the consumers represent the other half of the supply and demand equation. They need disposable income to support businesses.
    The single largest investment most Bahamians make is in their homes and every effort should be made to assist them in keeping it. Through a “COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT ACT”, the government should make available to home owners mortgage relief in the amount of $100 million for a period of one year. For example, qualified and struggling home owners can borrow sufficient money from the government to pay off the arrears of their mortgage and to cover 50% of their mortgage payments for 12 months. For 12 months the homeowner pays 50% of the original mortgage payment and the interest on the government. When economic conditions improve, the government can easily sell the debt to commercial banks (the holder of the mortgage). So a homeowner who pays $1,000 per month will pay $500 to the bank and interest to the government. This program could put several hundred dollars in the pockets of literally thousands of homeowners, positively impacting household income, savings, and buying power. This goes a long way in buying groceries, fuel, and utilities. As homes in the Bahamas rarely lose their value and appreciate in value during times of plenty, the government can actually make money on this deal. A variation of this was successfully implemented by Franklin Roosevelt as part of his New Deal during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Lest we forget, all economies are driven by credit.
    On the issue of energy relief and as reluctant as the government is to do this, it should reduce the tax on imported diesel by 10% from 27.5% to 24.5%. This will translate into some $8.0 million being passed on to persons in the tourism, construction, and transportation industries.
    As a long term strategy, the government should seriously consider unemployment insurance, especially for workers in the fishing, farming, tourism, and construction industries. Since our economy is intrinsically linked to the United States and US recessions usually last between six and eight months, the Bahamas could consider providing unemployment benefits for 32 weeks. Legislation could empower the cabinet to extend it to 36 weeks and any period beyond that should require parliamentary approval.
    In these challenging economic times, the government must lead the way in stimulating the economy. This must include fiscal austerity, an aggressive capital development program, and a balanced tax relief initiative. Businesses do supply goods and services and generate jobs, but if the consumer lacks confidence and disposable income who will the businesses sell to? This is a modest economic stimulus package proposal.
Elcott Coleby

Ingraham To Address The Country On The Economy
After weeks of stony silence and pummelling by the PLP on the economy, Hubert Ingraham has deigned to get off his Prime Ministerial high horse and address the nation on the economy on Monday evening 10th November.  Don’t look to hear anything new, just an attempt to steal the ideas of the PLP and blame the PLP for what went wrong.

Who Will Ingraham Appoint?
With the FNM now stripped of one of its Senators and proscribed by the Court of being able to appoint another person as an FNM Senator, you can count on Mr. Ingraham to appoint someone that would make mockery of the Court’s decision.  What we think is likely will be the appointment of someone like John Pinder, who is an FNM sympathizer and union leader.  The person, in other words, will be FNM in everything but name, like Tanya Wright, the Senator whose seat is considered valid by the Court.  When PLP Perry Christie is consulted on the matter, he ought to object to any name save that of a PLP whom he wishes to serve in the Senate.  He should also make his position clear on the matter and public.

A White Prime Minister For The Bahamas?
Brace for it.  Brent Symonette, the white Bahamian who now serves as Deputy Prime Minister has been licking his chops all week, waiting for an Obama victory at the polls in the United States.  You see he has a vested interest.  Not because he believes in racial equality or any such thing but it will be possible now to argue that if a minority can become President in the United States and Bahamians were all for that, what is the problem with him becoming Prime Minister in The Bahamas where he is a minority?  It is a perverse logic.  Paul Adderley, the former Attorney General when talking about Mr. Symonette’s chances, once said that it is possible for a white man to become Prime Minister of The Bahamas, just not “that white man” referring to Mr. Symonette.  Sir Arthur Foulkes, the FNM’s chief propagandist has started the ball rolling.  The Bahama Journal reports in its edition of 6th November that Sir Arthur Foulkes says that The Bahamas is ready for a white Prime Minister.  He was speaking on a radio talk show on Love 97.  Two votes for Brent then.  One from himself and another from Sir Arthur.  Good start!

Marco City Case Ending
After much stalling and delaying by Fred Smith, the attorney for Zhivargo Laing, the embattled Minister of State for Finance, the case has finally gone to the judges for their judgment.  The allegations that have to be settled are the same as in the case of Allyson Gibson against FNM Byran Woodside.  How many people have to be excluded from the ballot box because they were not qualified to be registered to vote in Marco ity in the general election  of 2007?  Mr. Laing is challenging the votes of 22 people from the May 2nd 2007 General Election and Ms. Bridgewater, the votes of 80 people.  Zhivargo Laing won the Marco City seat by 47 votes in the last General Election.  Philip Davis MP, Counsel for Pleasant Bridgewater told the Court on Thursday 6th November, the real number of voters the court will likely have to adjudicate upon will be 58 on Ms. Bridgewater’s list and 15 on Mr. Laing’s, due to the total number of concessions each side has made to the probable final totals on the respective lists.  After the concessions to the evidence, Ms. Bridgewater has 72 people on her list, with Mr. Laing conceding that 24 of these votes should be disallowed.  In Mr. Laing’s case, it is believed he has 22 challenged voters remaining on his list with Ms. Bridgewater conceding seven of these votes should be disallowed.

Atlantis Needs To Be Investigated
Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes should investigate what Atlantis is doing with its programme to send employees to Dubai where they are managing another Atlantis property.  The word is that the employees, some 41 so far, who have been sent to Dubai have had to quit their jobs in Nassau, they are not transferred.  They are paid substandard wages and live in substandard housing conditions.  Many want to come home but they have to pay for themselves the thousand dollar ticket.  When they return to Nassau, there is no guarantee they will get their jobs back.  Please Mr. Minister investigate.

Of Sissies and Cry Babies
In the House of Assembly recently there has been a propensity of Hubert Ingraham and his men to start throwing around that term "sissy" loosely on the floor of the House from their seat.  One member of the FNM found his way into some trouble when he said things in such a way that it rebounded on him as in better to be a sissy than a cry baby.  Uh Oh!  So all need to be careful what they say.  Mr. Ingraham himself tried on one occasion to say that when he said the word sissy he did not mean orientation but coward.  Nice try but no one believes it.  We say again, just be careful what you say in the future.

Hurricane Relief for Inagua

Commander Stephen Russell, Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), accepted a cheque in the amount of one thousand dollars from the churches in San Salvador towards the hurricane relief efforts for the island of Inagua.  The presentation took place at NEMA's office on Friday, October 31st, 2008.  The Rev'd Father Jude Edomwonyi, President of the San Salvador Christian Council, presented the cheque.

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GOMEZ PREPARES TO RETIRE: Archbishop Drexel Gomez is coming to the end of his term as Primate and Metropolitan of the Province of the West Indies of the Anglican Church.  Since he announced his retirement two years ago, he has been engaged in a round of final visits throughout the diocese.  On Thursday evening 13th November, the Bishops of the Province gathered for a concelebrated mass at Christ Church Cathedral to say farewell to the Archbishop.  There was a banquet in his honour on Friday 14th November.  Attending the banquet were the Governor General Arthur D. Hanna and former Prime Minister Perry Christie.  Our photo of the week shows the Governor General at the centre, the Archbishop on the left and former Prime Minister Perry Christie to the right.  BIS photo: Peter Ramsay


On Monday 10th November, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham gave a national address to the country.  In that address, he sought to calm fears of the economic issues that are fast threatening to submerge the country in a sea of red ink.  He did not do that.  Instead, he sat before the teleprompter, his eyes too wide open, like a deer steering into headlights in the night, and simply told the country to wait and see.  Within days, it was clear why he went to the country.  He knew that he was going to face a stunning announcement.  Atlantis, the rock of the tourism economy of The Bahamas was going to lay off 1000 workers.  The Prime Minister knew in advance and he did not warn the country about it.  He did nothing.

The closest that Mr. Ingraham came to doing anything inventive in his address was to say that he was thinking about an unemployment benefit programme.  There were no details.  That fits right into the pattern of behaviour here.  The PLP said to Mr. Ingraham from last year that there is a problem with hunger in the country.  He then came up with an extension of the food stamp programme.  The PLP then complained about the electricity costs and the ability of people to pay.  Mr. Ingraham announced a programme for that.  Then the PLP said what about mortgages, he could not even wait to get back from the IMF meeting in Washington to announce a programme for mortgages even though he did not even talk to the banks about it.  The PLP accused him of making it up as he goes; a piecemeal approach.  The PLP accused him of not have an overarching programme to announce to the country.  So, the national address.

The national address fell flat and had one new idea, maybe the unemployment benefit.  Only there is a problem with the unemployment benefit.  Mr. Ingraham says that he is going to raid the Medical Benefits Branch of the National Insurance Fund.  Mr. Ingraham gave no details, but the first thing that seems to be a falsehood is that raiding the monies will not affect the Fund.  The fact is that the National Insurance Fund is one fund with four branches.  The overall performance of the Fund is determined by the size of the principal of the Fund.  So if monies are removed without paying interest as a normal investment, the Fund will be adversely affected.

What Mr. Ingraham probably seeks to argue is that when the Fund was first established in 1974, the Medical Branch was able to build up substantial monies because the Industrial Benefit part of the Fund did not kick in until 10th November 1980.  That means the sums being set aside to take care of that benefit were being accumulated and created a surplus.  In 1986, the PLP passed special legislation to make it possible for the monies in that part of the Fund to be used to build clinics and health care facilities.  So it is argued today, that if Mr. Ingraham wants to raid the Fund to spend it on an unemployment benefit, then he needs legislation and regulations.

In any event, legislation and regulations are the way to go because it is important for Parliament to have oversight of what this unemployment benefit will be.  PLP Activist and former candidate for Chairman Elcott Coleby suggested in a letter written and published on this site last week that there ought to be a 32 week benefit for unemployment, with the Cabinet being able to extend that benefit to 36 weeks.  We think that this should also be tied to some public work participation so that there is productivity tied to it.  There should also be a component or requirement that the applicant should be looking actively for work.

Mr. Colby also suggested a Community Investment Act where people would get relief from a government agency for their mortgage payments.  The policy issue arises like this.  The Atlantis pay cheque is now a devalued commodity.  Some bankers are saying that at one point they used to accept the Atlantis job as being as secure as a government job.  Now that people with 30 and 20 years on the job have been fired and let go with little compensation, anyone now coming in to borrow money on the strength of an Atlantis pay cheque has to be examined like a less than secure risk.  Further, with so many new customers being Atlantis workers, mortgage defaults are expected to rise with the high number of layoffs.

Mr. Colby suggests that under a Community Investment Act, the government would simply buy the loan portfolios from the banks of a specified class of mortgagors.  The mortgagors would pay half of their normal figure to the government and interest to the banks.  When the market recovers, then mortgages can be sold back to the private banks.  While this may not be the perfect solution, we think that some form of tweaking of this nature ought to be designed to help homeowners through the present crisis.

Similarly, we think that the 1990 orthodoxy that the government ought to get out of the hotel business should be debunked and discarded.  It is clear that the government needs through the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas to buy the hotels in Grand Bahama and get them up and running and put people back to work.  The Prime Minister had little or nothing at all to say about the situation in Grand Bahama that is absolutely dire.

In fact, Sir Albert Miller who has been the faithful and circumspect lieutenant for the cause of the St. George and Hayward families, who own the Port, broke his silence this week in which he said that Freeport is in deep economic trouble (see below).

What has happened is that ten percent of the Atlantis workforce has been laid off.  That is a serious contraction.  The company is not confident about its bookings for next year with customers willing to lose their deposits because they cannot afford to come to Atlantis on their vacations any longer.  The hotel and tourism sectors are in meltdown.  There has been a massacre on the employee numbers.  In the meantime, all the Government and its Prime Minister can do and say is wait and see.

Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 15th November 2008 up to midnight: 305,820.

Number of hits for the month of December up to Saturday 15th November 2008 up to midnight: 623,652.

Number of hits for the year 2008 up to Saturday 15th November 2008 up to midnight: 11,802,069. 


ATLANTIS DENIES THE RUMOURS    The PLP continues to suffer from one lie after another told in The Punch, the local down market rag where its owner simply makes up one story after the next.  Silence gives the impression that the police and the FNM are in league with The Punch to smear the PLP.  The PLP is also good at silence, lending authenticity to these lies.  Now Atlantis may have shown the way to the PLP.  The resort issued a statement on Thursday 13th November refuting allegations made in the press generally and in The Punch in particular.
    The Bahamas had such a strong rumour mill going after the mass firings at Atlantis that they even had one popular Junkanoo man from the Valley Boys, dead and gone upon hearing the news.  Not so, said Atlantis.  They also denied that there is any truth that the hotel is up for sale or that a deal has been negotiated with MGM Grand of Las Vegas in the United States.  Here is what the release said as reported in the Nassau Guardian of Friday 14th November.  The statement was issued by Ed Fields a Senior Vice President of the Company:
    “Kerzner International [is dismayed] with respect to some media reports that staff affected by the recent layoffs were riotous and violent... such reports [are] completely false.  In addition, the company also refutes any claims that anyone collapsed and died as a result of the staff reductions.
    “Nothing could be further from the truth.  Given the circumstances, our former team members conducted themselves with dignity and graciousness.  While quite naturally some people were emotional, there were no acts of violence, no property damaged and the whole exercise was quite peaceful.  We feel that our former team members have been unfairly depicted by these reports and that we can only express pride with the character displayed by all.
    “Management is not in talks to sell Atlantis to MGM Resorts.  The staff reductions are not because of any ongoing negotiations.
    “There is no such deal, period.  Any assertions to the contrary are wrong.  We are saddened that given the seriousness of times such as these, that reporting inaccuracies do not lend to lessening the pain that many of our people are experiencing.”


    The Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham is either in a state of shock or denial about the Bahamian economy over which he presides.  The pundits all condemned the speech as useless.  The speech that they were talking about was a national address by the Prime Minister on the state of the economy.  In retrospect, it appears that the only reason he gave the speech was that he was aware that Atlantis was about to release up to 1000 workers.  If the workers could find any comfort in their Prime Minister’s speech they must have eagle eyes.  There was none that we could find.  We described it as simply describing the problem and watching and waiting.  You decide for yourself by clicking here for the full address.
BIS photo: Peter Ramsay


    Former Prime Minister Perry Christie responded on Tuesday 11th November to the Prime Minister’s national address.  Mr. Christie denounced Mr. Ingraham for leaving more questions than answers.  He said that the address did not provide any hope for the Bahamian people.  He said that the speech merely described the problem.  Click here for the full statement made from the Opposition Committee Room of the House of Assembly.  You may also click here to view the statement on video.

    Sir Jack Hayward, one of the owners of the Grand Bahama Port Authority amused us all earlier this year in a sign of his “cluelessness” when he said that the economy of Grand Bahama was not being adversely affected by the feud within the Port Authority over ownership.  He gave as an example the fact that he could not get a table in two upscale restaurants in Freeport that business was going well in Grand Bahama.  It was a Marie Antoinette moment - let me them eat cake.
    This week Sir Jack had a bit of good fortune when one of attorney Fred Smith’s foolish cases about the St. Georges being oppressed as a minority shareholder was dismissed by Justice Neville Adderley.  The judge followed that up the next day, however, with an order that the declaration that the St. Georges and the Haywards are fifty fifty owners of the Port made by Justice Anita Allen should be carried out and the shares properly registered.  The parties are back in court again on Monday 17th November to fight that order.
    In the meantime, the Nassau Guardian reported that Sir Albert Miller who with the late Edward St. George and Sir Jack ran the Grand Bahama Port Authority up until August of this year had a different view of the economic situation in Grand Bahama.  The story said that he believes that the failure of the owners of the Grand Bahama Port Authority to resolve a feud that has lingered for more than two years is worsening an already depressed Grand Bahama economy. Here is what he said in his own words:
    “I stayed there for two years and three months [after being called back from retirement] hoping that I could have contributed toward a settlement or the resolution of the problems, but when I did not see an imminent resolution I walked away at the end of August.  It is still going and I still don't see a resolution, and it does have a bearing; there’s no doubt about it.  Talking to the people on the ground, they see it as a problem and the sooner it is settled, the better it would be.
    “Investor confidence continues to be impacted by the situation, which has no apparent end in sight, and the only new business that Grand Bahama is seeing is Ross University.
    “The unemployment is quite severe, the building industry is very, very slow and the hotels are known to employ a large pool of people, both male and female, and they are doing terrible at the moment.  I don't see the beginning of a turnaround yet at all.
    “As an industrial centre Grand Bahama is the perfect spot for a liquefied natural gas plant, although I recognize that it will not have an immediate impact on the current problems.
     “I am hoping that the company involved in Royal Oasis [the hotel property that closed after Hurricanes Francis and Jean] starts something in the New Year.  I don't think they will do anything before then, but that in the centre of town will create some employment and excitement.
    “The Prime Minister's speech gave us some encouragement, but we think it’s going to take a while before we see a turnaround.
    “I’ve been with the Port Authority for about 35 years and I know the role that [it] plays in this community.  There’s no question about it that the licensees, that the man on the street look to the Port Authority for leadership and business development... and it is not happening and it has been going on for two years.  That is a real factor in these hard economic times.”


    The PLP’s Spokesman on Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and the Public Service held a news conference on Tuesday 11th November to deal with the case brought by the PLP against the appointment to the Senate of Anthony Musgrove and Tanya Wright.
    Earlier in the week, former Senator Damien Gomez, who assisted Paul L. Adderley in his arguments in the case indicated that given the ruling of the Chief Justice Burton Hall, Senator Tanya Wright ought to consider resigning because she may well be subject to the FNM whip.  Mr. Mitchell supported that position.  He said that one had to examine Ms. Wright’s record of voting to see whether or not she was subject to the whip and if she was then it meant that her appointment was invalid as well.
    We believe that the Judge got it wrong in his ultimate order (Link here for the full judgment).  He got the principle right, but applied the principle wrongly.  The matter should be appealed by the PLP so that it is clear that the three appointments to the Senate under Article 39(4) are for the PLP.  You may click here for the full statement of Mr. Mitchell.

    The Opposition’s spokesman on Tourism Obie Wilchcombe MP for West End issued a statement on behalf of the PLP in response to the layoffs announced by the Atlantis resort on Tuesday 11th November.  Here is the statement:
    “The Ingraham administration could have saved the jobs of Atlantis employees and hundreds of others if it had moved quickly and responded to signs that the country’s economy was under threat.  The government ignored requests made as early as November 2007, to begin discussions on the pending economic crisis.
    “It didn't have to happen this way.  The indicators were there from the third quarter of 2007.
    “The government failed to provide the appropriate leadership to stave off the impending economic crisis cushion the impact and deploy a contingency plan.
    “The government’s position today that there was nothing, and is nothing that could be done is a ‘cop-out’.  This is the time for leadership and we have not seen any.  That is why Bahamians have had to join the long lines in search of relief.
    “Last year in Parliament, the Progressive Liberal Party raised the fact that the U.S. mortgage crisis would have a negative impact on The Bahamas’ economy.  Soon after that, global oil prices began to soar.
    “In the first quarter of this year the U.S. Federal government stepped in with a stimulant package to get Americans to spend.  We asked the government to open dialogue in Parliament and requested the prime minister to assemble a bi-partisan group of the best and the brightest to discuss the issues affecting the economy.  Again the government of The Bahamas did nothing.
    “In the second quarter of this year governments throughout the region and around the world were responding to the global dismal economic picture.  Again the government of The Bahamas did nothing.  When the government did move it raised tariffs on clothing, shoes and books.  In the worst of times the government increased tariffs.
    “According to my information, the dollar value of the terminations by Atlantis was around $15 million.  The utilities cost of Atlantis in the past year increased from $40m to $60m.  The government should have accepted the advice given in Parliament and followed the actions of other governments by reducing or eliminating government taxes on oil imports.
    “I want know what the government did to protect the jobs of the Bahamian people at Atlantis and Baha Mar.
    “What is even worse is that the government did not insist that Atlantis commit to re-employing the terminated staff once the economy rebounds.
    “Further, did the government ensure that Atlantis did not terminate Bahamians while keeping expatriates employed in positions that could be filled by Bahamians?  In fact the government should review the number of expatriates in The Bahamas who are employed with jobs that can be done by the thousands of Bahamians who are now on the unemployment line.
    “I fear that the decision by Atlantis, regarded as the leader of the hotel sector in The Bahamas, will lead to a domino effect in the local hotel sector.  Atlantis is forecasting a slow first quarter in 2009 and no meaningful reversal of this trend until 2010.  This reality defines the state of the tourism hotel sector for the foreseeable future.”


    Roy Colebrook and the faction of the executive of the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union that supports him are embattled as we upload this statement.  Many of the workers who were laid off from the Atlantis property are blaming the Union and his leadership for not doing enough to save the jobs of the workers.  Some of the workers have actually accused the Union and its leadership of being in complicity with the employer to get rid of those workers who were anti Roy Colebrook so that they can have an easier time when the next elections come up for the Union.
    The Bahama Journal reported that Mr. Colebrook and his executives were holed up in the Union’s headquarters under heavy police guard on Thursday 13th November.  Workers were demanding to see them but they were prevented from making their way to the offices of the Union.  Mr. Colebrook told the press that the Union had to continue to do its work.  Mr. Colebrook said:
    “We have to focus on the issue and the issue is we have hundreds of persons losing their jobs.  There’s no other issue that’s important to me at this time.  Hundreds of persons are losing their jobs and day and night I’m working.
    “Seven days a week I’m negotiating for minimum amounts of persons to be laid off and these are the things that are important.  We have over $6 million dollars for these members.
    “We are in a highly emotional period and persons may act out but at the end of the day they are going to have to answer for themselves.  Mr. Colebrook cannot answer for their actions.”
Union Vice President Kirk Wilson is shown addressing a "small, but angry" crowd of laid off Atlantis workers in this Bahama Journal photo by Archie Cambridge

    Our answer to our headline question is no.  We opposed the bailout, the provision passed by the US Congress to rescue the banking system by an injection of 700 billion dollars of money.  We thought it was ill advised and would lead to the bankrupting of the US economy.  No one can see what the money has done to ease the situation.  It has saved inefficient companies without stopping the pain at the bottom of saving people in their homes.  Now the auto industry of the US which is woefully inefficient is seeking to be bailed out.  This is wrong and it should not be done.
    Pretty soon if the US is not careful they are going to end up like Zimbabwe, with its money worthless and the treasury simply printing money to keep up with prices.  Already the British pound has crashed from $2 to the pound in July of this year to $1.47 to the pound as we upload.  The Canadian dollar was $1.05 to the US dollar this time last year.  It is down around 77 cents to the dollar this year.  An extreme scenario no doubt but the warning must be given.
    If the US President and the country's economists believe in the free market then let the market reign in this instance.  If the companies fail, they deserve to fail and their parts will be worth more than those companies are as full fledged units.

    Our photo of the week (see above) shows the Anglican Archbishop Drexel Gomez at a farewell banquet for him on Friday 14th November at the Crystal Palace in Cable Beach, New Providence. Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services was there and provides this photo essay of the event.

    The Russian Ambassador Mikhail L. Kamynin presented his credentials to the Governor General Arthur D. Hanna on Thursday 12th November.  Mr. Kamynin is resident in Havana, Cuba.  The Russians, who are one of four permanent members of the UN Security Council, are seeking to expand their influence in the region and spoke to their interest in expanding ties with The Bahamas.
    The photo shows Allyson Maynard Gibson with her Husband Max Gibson who is the Honorary Consul for South Korea at Government House shaking hands with the Ambassador just past the Governor General Arthur Hanna and before Foreign Minister Brent Symonette.  Former Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell was present to observe the function and is shown with Minister Brent Symonette and Mrs. Maynard Gibson in the centre at the reception afterwards.
BIS photos: Peter Ramsay

    The Annual Red Ribbon Ball held with the support of a volunteer committee headed by Camille Barnett, wife of the Attorney General Michael Barnett, took place on Saturday 15th November.  It was well attended and raised thousands of dollars for the AIDS Foundation and the cause in The Bahamas.  Our photo, by Edward Russell III shows from left to right; Dr. Perry Gomez, Director of Aids care in The Bahamas; Mrs. Hubert Minnis, wife of the Minister of Health; Dr. Hubert Minnis; Mrs. Emanuel Alexiou, wife of the Chair of Colina, sponsors of the event; Emmanuel Alexiou; Mrs. Camille Barnett, wife of the Attorney General Michael Barnett and Chair of the Aids Foundation; Attorney General Michael Barnett.  Photographer Peter Ramsay was also there and presents this photo essay of the event.

    The Landfall Centre’s Dr. Gilbert Morris, a frequent contributor to this column writes about the meaning of the new US President elect’s economic policies.  In this article, the economist deals with the
financial crisis in the US with a comprehensive analysis of the current problems that will face US President Elec Obama upon entering office. He calls it “Obamanomics”. You may click here for Dr. Morris' piece.

Letter Circulating From PLPs On The Internet
    There is letter circulating on the internet from well known PLPs indicating the exasperation at the fact that the Party is not more active in support of the causes of the electorate.  We have removed the names but print the letter. - Editor

Dear All,
     What is going on with the PLP and its council?  I am a bit perplexed as to why there was not an Official statement released yet as it relates to the dismissal of employees from Atlantis by the PLP.  I honestly feel that this present dispensation of economic hardship is pregnant with potential to proliferate political mileage on the FNM but more importantly reaffirm our dedication to those who are affected most by this dormant economy.  I am convinced that at this time we should be organising Town Meetings after Town Meetings commencing from next week injecting hope in the minds of the dejected, but yet we are still not hearing from our leaders enough or the PLP.  I feel that the council was elected to be the watchdogs of all injustices and to ensure that at the end of the day the voice of the PLP is echoed throughout the nation, and what better time is it than now to capitalise on a FNM Government that totally is void of vision, character, and a heart for the people.
    While many are been laid off from their jobs whether it is the Wyndham, Atlantis, and other Private sector affiliated employment, I feel we as a party are a bit too serene and tranquil when in fact we should be vociferously informing all that we share in the hurt of persons who are affected by these "hard" times, and reassuring persons that we in no way endorse this callous form of governing from the FNM.
    In less than 7 weeks we would be in the year 2009 marking three years until Elections and it may even be sooner than that if this Government continue on this same downward path and as a proud PLP it is time that we do some serious self-evaluation and purging of those that hinder us from progressing forward and realise that we need to take this country by force, but it is not going to happen if all we continue to do is stand around and watch.  We must be proactive.  The Bible firmly declares in Proverbs 29:18 that "Where there is no vision, the people perish" and with this Government we are 100% sure that there is no vision, but we can't allow our country to perish and to ensure this we need to speak up!!!

Note:  The PLP did in fact issue a statement on the Atlantis layoffs:
    Today’s events represent a serious downturn in our economy and a gloomy twist in the lives of hundreds if not thousands of Bahamians.
    We had called upon the Government to approach this economic crisis in a non partisan fashion, enlisting the support and ideas of all stakeholders. This has not happened. Today we can only trust and pray that the Government considered and attempted to negotiate possible concessions or interventions which could have preserved the jobs of the many hundreds who were today sent home. We do not know. We only know that hundreds of Bahamian workers are today displaced and their lives sent into a tailspin.
    Unfortunately despite the numerous indicators of a looming economic crisis of unprecedented proportions not least of which were the almost 6,000 homes disconnected from electrical supply, the Government has wandered aimlessly into this crisis.
    We are now as a country scrambling, late in the game.
    We call upon the Prime Minister to now engage the full participation of all stakeholders to ensure we preserve the interests of all of our people and that through creative policy interventions we ensure that The Commonwealth of The Bahamas fares these turbulent times.

Lyford Cay In An Uproar
Having helped to elect Hubert Ingraham to office by giving their money to the FNM to defeat the PLP, the rich and famous in Lyford Cay are now crying and crying out loud about the taxes.  The FNM administration came into office and immediately removed the $35,000 cap on Real Property tax that has to be paid to the Government.  Under the PLP, no one paid more than $35,000.  The FNM removed that cap and also unleashed the property assessors in Lyford Cay to raise the property valuations.  The result, huge increases in property taxes.  Oh well, you get what you pay for.

Leslie Miller Responds To Christie
Former PLP MP, now businessman and head of the Bahamas Light Development Council responded in the press to the statements by former Prime Minister Christie on the economy.  Mr. Miller generally praised Prime Minister Ingraham’s statement on the economy.  But in response to Mr. Christie’s statement, he is quoted as saying: “Those who can do and those who can’t criticize.”  His statement appeared in The Tribune Wednesday 12th November 2008.

Moseff House Opens In Fox Hill
The family of the late Leslie Davis of Fox Hill have put their money where their mouths are.  The late Mr. Davis who died in 1999 left a will and in it willed a property to be used to assist the dispossessed in Fox Hill.  The property sits next to the Fox Hill police station.  After a lot of stops and starts and a great deal of heartache and hard work, the family now has the facility it wants.  It is equipped with a lounge and computer room, a kitchen.  It is planned to provide soup for the indigent every week on Wednesdays.  The opening took place on Monday 14th November.  Officiating was Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette.  Fox Hill MP Fred Mitchell attended as well.  Assistant Superintendent Ismella Davis, the Officer in Charge of the Fox Hill office was thanked by the family for helping to make it a success.

Mitchell Addresses Rotary
What is the story for The Bahamas after the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States?  The Rotary Club of West Nassau invited the PLP’s spokesman on Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell to speak to the Club on Thursday 13th November to talk on the subject.  Mr. Mitchell thought that the election was positive for The Bahamas and the region but he also spoke about the need to defend this country’s interest in the face of a Bill co sponsored by Mr. Obama and introduced in the U.S. Senate in February of this year called the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act.  You may link here for the full address.

The Symonette Contract
A construction company in which the Symonette Family as in Brent Symonette (Deputy Prime Minister) is said to be the contractor that got the contract to effect the demolition work at the Lynden Pindling International Airport of the rental car company buildings there as the airport gets ready for the refurbishing.  The last time there was a contract involving the Symonettes, it led to Brent Symonette’s resignation as the then Chairman of the Airport Authority.  What happened to ‘once bitten twice shy’?

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WORKERS PROTEST: This is the age, or so it appears, when protest marches have become passé.  After all, Barack Obama, a black man, is in the American White House and so all is well in the world.  But someone obviously forgot to tell the laid off workers of the tourism sector in The Bahamas and their union and political leaders.  As the House of Assembly met on Thursday 20th November to discuss the economy, the workers (a handful of them) were in the streets singing the songs of Zion, the songs that evoke the human rights and civil rights struggles of the 1960s in The Bahamas and the United States of America.  It obviously all went right by the government.  Inside, while the House of Assembly sat, they cracked jokes, made fun of the economic situation.  Perhaps it was the low numbers of the protestors or a feeling that nothing could be done in any case.  There was an air of unreality about it all.  Outside, distressed workers.  Inside, the PLP struggling to make the point that we are in a serious emergency; the FNM having a good time laughing at the fate of the people of the country.  Rome fiddles while the city burns.  Our photo of the week is that of a protester speaking to the press outside in Rawson Square in Nassau asking for justice for the workers.  BIS photo: Peter Ramsay


Send in the clowns; there ought to be clowns
Don’t bother they’re here
--- A Little Light Music

Why have you to fight when I could have the cretin or the fiend?
-- King Philip of France in The Lion In Winter (1968)

Brent Symonette, the Deputy Prime Minister, knows he has arrived.  As the black Americans would say, “He is as snug as a bug in a rug.”  Why?  He is just at the cusp of accomplishing his life long dream of becoming Prime Minister of The Bahamas, or so he thinks.  Once he gets it, (God forbid!), he can then say he is the only Bahamian who can say that two generations of his family have served in the top seat of the country.  His father Sir Roland Symonette went down in Bahamian history as the first Premier of the country as the post was then called.  His father also goes down in history as the longest serving Member of Parliament in the history of the country.  Brent Symonette is also a rich man, declaring a net worth of 58 million dollars when he ran for the House of Assembly in 2007.  What he can’t win over, he can buy.

The one worry that has continually plagued him is the fact that he is a white Bahamian and he was not sure that the country, well really the FNM, would be ready for him.  But the ducks are all lined up now.  Tommy Turnquest is quiet and placated in his job as Minister of National Security.  Carl Bethel, smart guy that he is, does not have the support of the faithful.  They think of him as a little too brash and too eccentric in his brilliance.  Zhivargo Laing simply has the reputation of being all things to all men.  In other words, he talks too much.  Hubert Ingraham is simply coasting and tired.  He looks like any moment he is going to simply drop down.  He does not now take life seriously.  So who else is there?  Who else has the money, the charm, the pedigree, the right to be Prime Minister in the FNM but Brent Symonette?  Lord of all he surveys in his right there is none to dispute.

Such is the state of The Bahamas today that it could be possible in this dispensation to consider such a thing.  Even the minions in the FNM have become comfortable with the idea.  Many of them, comforted by the largesse of the Deputy Prime Minister are getting more comfortable as we speak.  The FNM is a sad party indeed.  That they would actually contemplate a turning back of the tide is interesting indeed.  We wait and see.

In the mean time, the man who is once again the king of the hill, top of the heap, number one, is Hubert Ingraham.  He has come to Nassau from Abaco with all of the prejudices, cuts and scars that come with that.  The truth is the national patrimony stands to be sabotaged at every turn.  Even though he says he has come from the poor and says that he represents the poor, no one in their right mind believes it.  His policies do not help the poor.  They destroy the poor.  And worse, even though they tout the fact that the policies of the FNM help the middle class, the evidence is that they do exactly the opposite.

Nothing shows the fact that the Prime Minister of this country is living in outer space more than his performance in the House of Assembly on Thursday 20th November.  It was interesting to watch.  He is almost like someone who is bipolar.  When in the House a few days before that on Monday 17th November, he seemed the very picture of sweetness and light, encouraging the PLP to come back on the Thursday and enter into a debate on the adjournment about the economy.  The word is that the FNM was embarrassed by the Speaker Alvin Smith making the pre-emptor decision on the Monday to cut off Shane Gibson MP (PLP) for Golden Gates while he tried to raise the issues with the economy and relate them to crime.  So the magnanimous Prime Minister offered a debate on the economy.  Except that you always know that with Hubert Ingraham, there is a trick.  He simply cannot be trusted with anything.  There is a trap always waiting around the corner.

So when the House met on Thursday 20th November, it became clear that Mr. Ingraham did not intend for there to be a debate on the economy in any sense of that word.  He started from the beginning to nitpick.  As soon as the PLP started to talk, he began quarrelling and grumbling.  He tried to stop Obie Wilchcombe the MP (PLP) from West End from finishing with the loud grumbling.  The PLP Members spoke almost in a line, the FNM members spoke afterwards.  It was like a conversation with the deaf.  Nothing was accomplished for the poor and the needy, the unemployed and the distressed.  Mr. Ingraham led his men in laughter and jokes the whole time that the addresses from the PLP side continued.  Fred Mitchell MP Fox Hill (PLP) later described his behaviour as disgraceful: “obfuscation, deflecting and jocularity.”

That is where Mr. Ingraham was on Thursday 20th November.  He seemed to have replaced Charles Maynard, his MP for Golden Isles as the class clown.  One joke after the other, while people were suffering outside in the country.  Once again, what happens in the House of Assembly does not accurately reflect what is happening in the country.  The mood out there is sad, depressed and ugly.  We expect our leaders to help us through any crisis.

In the face of this kind of madness, it takes a special breed to soldier on.  It is early days politically.  One has the sense that the country itself is not yet into politics.  It seems that people are not generally in the mood for listening.  Perhaps that is where the FNM gets the strength to engage in the display of unreality that they show.  We think that the situation in the country is serious and that it is important that the government show that it is genuinely concerned about the fate of its people.  What we don’t need is Ingraham the clown.  We need the other part of the bipolar politics of the FNM, Ingraham the leader of the country who will take seriously his responsibilities.

Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 22nd November 2008 up to midnight: 309,012.

Number of hits for the month of November up to Saturday 22nd November 2008 at midnight: 948,496.

Number of hits for the year 2008 up to Saturday 22nd November 2008 at midnight: 12,111,081. 


    We have said it before on this site.  Alvin Smith, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, has proven to be the worst Speaker in post independence Bahamian history.  He is a disgrace in the position.  He lacks the intellectual heft for the job and is so filled with prejudices and a quick temper that he has become an absolute embarrassment not only to his party but also to the entire country.  The people of Hatchet Bay ought to be thoroughly ashamed of him.
    The Speaker's latest offence is his cutting Shane Gibson off from speaking in the House on the connection between crime and the economic situation in the country on Monday 17th November.  The Speaker used a little used rule on relevance to cut off Mr. Gibson’s debate.  On the other hand, he has allowed FNMs to wander from one topic to the other without let or hindrance.  There is never a decision in favour of the PLP, always a decision in favour of Hubert Ingraham and the FNM.
    The PLP must find a way to fix this problem.  Mr. Smith is such an embarrassment to The Bahamas that perhaps he must be socially shunned by all PLPs.  Perhaps the PLP must announce at its next public meeting that in future all PLPs are to ignore Mr. Smith socially and in fact take actions to show their contempt of him and his action every time they meet him in the streets.  It is one form of non violent civil action that would be punishment for his record of unrelenting bias and prejudice.


    The Atlantis property has laid off 950 workers.  Eight hundred from the hotel itself and 150 from their time share operation.  The main engine of the tourism sector is feeling the pinch and the pain.  The Minister of Tourism Vincent Vanderpool Wallace was in China last week seeking to get tourists from China to come to The Bahamas.  That is fine but as it was pointed out; there are no direct flights from China to The Bahamas.
    While we support his effort to bring people from China, the Minister would do well to remind Elma Campbell Chase, the now Ambassador and former Minister not to use her bad ways that she exhibited as the Minister of Immigration in Nassau in her job in China and make sure that she grants visas on an objective basis and not on the basis of whim and prejudice.
    But the Minister of Tourism has other, greater problems to face in tourism.  The product itself is wearing out, and needs refurbishing.  We have allowed Kerzner and Atlantis to carry too much of the Bahamian burden.  So much so that many people don’t realize that Paradise Island is in fact in The Bahamas.  The product needs fixing and the people need to upgrade the service component.  We call it retooling and retraining.
    One example of the retooling necessary: Mr. Vanderpool Wallace is a great fan of the Internet.  He says that the Ministry of Tourism offices abroad can be closed because The Bahamas can be accessed through the Internet.  Quite apart from that not being true, the Internet in The Bahamas does not work fifty percent of the time.  Well, perhaps a little exaggeration, but the point is it is down much, much too often.  There are some basic things that we simply need to fix before inviting the world here.  Another is getting rid of the rats that seem to have overtaken the island of New Providence.
    The Bahamian people must now know that they elected a pig in a poke.  It is time now to reverse gears and look to some other party for their salvation.  The tourism product has gone from bad to worse under them.  This FNM is a turkey.  Stick a fork in them, because they’re done.
Workers protest economic conditions - BIS/Peter Ramsay


    Following up on the debate on the economy on Thursday 20th November in the House of Assembly, Fred Mitchell MP for Fox Hill and Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs and the Public Service held a news conference in which he blasted the FNM for their conduct in the House of Assembly.  He said that the Prime Minister's behaviour was rude and showed disrespect for the unemployed people of the country.  You may click here for the full statement.
Photo: Miguel Taylor


    Fred Mitchell has returned to video casting via the Internet.  Shortly after the general election of 2007, Mr. Mitchell had largely abandoned the traditional media in favour exclusively of podcasting in audio and video.  There has not been one for a while, but now with the help of PLP’s producer Andrew Burrows, there is a new video available on YouTube called The Mitchell Report.  The report outlines his response to the national address by Hubert Ingraham the Prime Minister.  Mr. Mitchell ponders the fate of some two hundred new homeowners in Fox Hill, many of whom used to work for Atlantis.  You may click here to view video report, which was released on Thursday 20th November.
BIS/Peter Ramsay

    The compendium of crime bills that has been parked in the House of Assembly since the summer time is now on the way to the Senate where the bills are to be debated during this week.  The House disposed of the last of them on Monday 17th November.  Political activist Ricardo Smith had an interesting take on the Sexual Offences Bill which over uses the penalty of life imprisonment for every offence.  Rape is now to draw a life sentence.  Having sex in a car is to draw two years in jail, down from 20 years.  Life imprisonment for sleeping with your cousin.  That is incest.  Life imprisonment if you peep into the bedroom of a girlfriend that you just had a falling out with and you want to see what she is doing.  Five years if you bother with a sheep, a goat or a cow.
    Meanwhile, the unemployed lines grow longer, as Parliament deals with the prurient matters of interest to the FNM Members of Parliament.  They must be national jokes for bringing this bill.  It is not to make light of it, but the law as it is now is quite adequate for the events that actually follow in the society.  In any event, we now know that life imprisonment means in reality about 15 years in jail.  The FNM knows this and so all they are doing as usual is a public relations scam to fool the public that they are doing something about crime.


    Vincent Peet, the North Andros MP for the PLP, made an impassioned plea for the unemployed when he spoke in the House of Assembly on Thursday 20th November during the debate on the economy.  In an unusual move, he read from a prepared statement.  In the statement, he described life under the FNM in The Bahamas as a miserable life.  He said that the FNM made a similar accusation against the PLP prior to 2007, but he said that nothing that happened then can be compared to the complete state of despair and hopelessness gripping so many Bahamian families today.


    The Chinese Ambassador Hu Dingxian paid a courtesy call on the Opposition’s spokesman on Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and the Public Service Fred Mitchell, who is also the Member of Parliament for Fox Hill.  The call took place at Mr. Mitchell’s law office Gwendolyn House on Dowdeswell Street on Friday 21st November.
Photo: Miguel Taylor

    The word around Washington is that Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. first lady (wife of former President William Clinton) and now the junior Senator for New York is about to quit the US Senate to become the US Secretary of State under the new President Barack Obama.  It appears that the new President sees this as reaching out to the forces that tried to defeat him.  We believe that she is alone a good choice for the job, but with the other factors, one wonders whether this is a good choice.
    We think of the experience of Perry Christie in The Bahamas when he became Prime Minister in seeking to reach out to others from the FNM.  The result was that he left his enemies in place to destroy him.  And destroy him and his government they did.  Now Hubert Ingraham is back with a vengeance and destroying every PLP in sight.  There is no feeling for bipartisanship in this country at all.  Mr. Obama ought to be careful and see that as an instructive lesson.  Do not surround yourself with your enemies.

    Bahamian athletes led by Dominic Demeritte and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Leevan ‘Superman’ Sands are complaining about the subvention packages being offered by the government.  They feel that the rules are not transparent or fair.  They argue that they ought to both receive higher subventions given their success in their sports.  Mr. Sands is a triple jumper and Mr. Demeritte is a runner.
    The complaints of Mr. Sands and Mr. Demeritte are the second such complaints from athletes.  The so called ‘Silver Knights’, the men who won the silver medal in the 4 x 400 relay in Beijing complained following their award from the government after their silver medal win at the Olympics that they were not adequately compensated.  We believe that the matter ought to be looked at again with a view to satisfying the complaints of these athletes.

    They were called in one by one and told that they were being offered a package to leave the Department of Immigration in which many had worked for over forty years each.  They were to leave within the week and are now all gone.  Two of the men were in their fifties and therefore had no reason to expect that their careers would be cut short.  The common thread was that they were all perceived as PLP supporters.
    There were seven in total.  The names are familiar: Western Saunders, Lambert Campbell, William Nottage, J.T. Rolle, Samuel Moss.  Mr. Campbell was Deputy Director.  The rest were Assistant Directors.  One of them made a counteroffer and was told that if he did not accept forthwith, he would be transferred into another department.
    This political purge is being called ‘the revenge of Elma’.  The Elma referred to is Elma Campbell Chase who was universally reviled in the Department of Immigration and by her own fellow Cabinet ministers for micromanaging the Department and turning down regular immigration applications even for FNM Members of Parliament for work permits.  In short order she was gone, banished to China, but the reports say that as she was going out the door, she wrote a report in which she recommended that the entire slate of officers be purged from the department.
    The former minister reportedly said as she was leaving for her new assignment in China, that she may be leaving but others would follow her quickly.  So said so done.  Vernon Burrows the Director was dispatched to Cuba as Ambassador.  The others were fired with a package of two years salary, their normal gratuities and pensions.  If they are PLPs, we hope that they use their newfound freedom to work day and night to remove Hubert Ingraham and his heartless crew from office.

    On Tuesday 25th November, the PLP Branches of Marathon and Fox Hill will hold a joint public meeting in Fox Hill on the Fox Hill Parade to mark the 55th anniversary of the founding of the PLP.  The Leader of the Party Rt. Hon Perry Christie and Glenys Hanna Martin, Party Chair will be featured speakers.  The theme is "55 years... Into the Future."
    The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Love 97FM and on GEMS Radio.  Other speakers are Viraj Perpall, Young Liberals; Ryan Pinder, Attorney at Law; Cheryl Bazard, Attorney At Law; Melissa Sears, Vice Chair Grand Bahama; Senator Jerome Fitzgerald, Melanie Griffin, MP Yamacraw; and Fred Mitchell, MP Fox Hill.

    Sunday 23rd November, 2008 marked 55 years since the public announcement of the founding of the Progressive Liberal Party.  In addition to the public meeting planned in Fox Hill to commemorate the anniversary, the Party's Faith Hall has produced an essay entitled 'Just Ahead', coupled with a photographic retrospective by Andrew Burrows. Please click here.

Brian Seymour Marries
PLP (formerly of the Coalition for Democratic Reform CDR) activist and owner of Antoinette’s Interiors in Freeport (the self described mender of drapes) was married in Freeport on Saturday 22nd November in a small, private church ceremony.  His wife is the former Kathleen Grant of Hunter’s, Grand Bahama.  We wish them both well.  Another former CDR member married the same day, so we describe them now as part of the ‘coalition of the willing’.  Good luck and best wishes in your new life and to your new bride.

Elcott Coleby Marries
Former Coalition for Democratic Reform (CDR) member and now PLP activist Elcott Coleby married in a public ceremony at the East Street Gospel Chapel on Saturday 22nd November.  He married the former Sharon Grant Knowles.  We congratulate them both.  Mr. Coleby ran for Chairman of the PLP in February 2008.  Mr. Coleby is the second former CDR member to marry on 22nd November.  He is the second half of the ‘coalition of the willing’.  Dr. Bernard Nottage, former CDR leader, was present for the wedding along with Fred Mitchell MP for Fox Hill and Senator Jerome Fitzgerald (PLP).

One Bahamas

Sir Durward Knowles and Sir Orville Turnquest, the Olympic gold medallist and the former governor general respectively, are still on the campaign trail for One Bahamas.  This was a movement started during the term of the first FNM government and pushed by Sir Orville as a counter move to Independence under the PLP and Majority Rule celebrations.  On three previous occasions in ceremonies at schools, Sir Durward has apologized to black people in this country for the things done to them by his race when they first had all the political power.  He did it again when he appeared at St. Thomas More’s One Bahamas celebrations with the former GG on Thursday 20th November.  At the primary school, he told the students that white people did some bad things to black people.  Hmmm!  We keep saying if he keeps this up, he is soon going to get put out of his race.  No other seems to have an appetite for this.  When Brent Symonette, the Deputy Prime Minister was asked on a radio talk show whether he thought an apology was in order, he said that we should move on from that.  Maybe Sir Durward can do so because he is 90 years old.  The photo is from the Bahamas Press website.

Central Bank Warning
Central Bank Governor Wendy Craigg was in the newspapers this week with dire warnings about the next two years.  Ms. Craigg said that Bahamians ought to exercise the greatest care in spending money because it looks like it is going to take the US economy some two years before it recovers.  She was quoted in the Nassau Guardian of Wednesday 19th November.

Lawyers Feeling The Pinch
The press is reporting in The Bahamas that lawyers from the big conveyancing firms in Nassau are feeling the pinch.  H. Campbell Cleare III, partner in McKinney Bancroft & Hughes and Prescod Williams of Graham Thompson were all quoted in the story about the downturn in property transactions and the effect it is having on their businesses.  What they did not say is that the large law firms are also for the first time considering laying off lawyers because the work has fallen off so dramatically.

Raynard Rigby Celebrates A Birthday
Former PLP Party Chairman and one half of the law firm Gibson Rigby & Co celebrated his 39th birthday on Saturday 22nd November 2008.

A New Political Party
People connected to a well known PLP activist newly installed in the PLP’s council are talking some strange talk.  They say that in two weeks, they intend to announce a new political party called the National Development Party (NDP).  That acronym is already in the graveyard of Bahamian politics.  When will they ever learn?

Bahamas Supermarkets Shareholders Ante Up
The Nassau Guardian reported on Thursday 20th November that shareholders of Bahamas Supermarkets Ltd. owners of the now troubled City Markets grocery chain are being asked to chip in five million dollars to help the company through a cash shortfall.  It appears that they are unable to raise it from the bank given the company’s severe losses since the takeover by the Bahamian Caribbean group.  The shop shelves are bare and suppliers are not supplying any new food items reportedly because of the company’s delays in paying.  The shareholders are being asked to ante up to remedy the problem.

Britain To Take Over Turks Finances?
Caribbean Net News online has reported that the British government is sending in two administrators from London to oversee the finances of the Turks and Caicos Islands.  The country is said to be running a serious financial deficit and London, the colonial power, is concerned that the country may be headed toward serious financial trouble.  No comment was reported from the Government of the Turks headed by Michael Misick.  There is presently a Commission of Inquiry in the Turks looking into government corruption.

New Public Service Leadership
Jack Thompson, the Controller of Road Traffic, is to take up a new post on Monday 24th November as Director of Immigration.  Philip Turner, who has been languishing in the Ministry of National Security, after being abruptly removed from the prison as Superintendent during Hubert Ingraham’s last term when certain allegations never proven were made, is to become the new Controller of Road Traffic.

Why The House Does Not Meet On Wednesdays
The FNM has stopped meeting on Wednesdays the normal day for House meetings to avoid having Opposition day, which is supposed to be the second Wednesday in each month.

Previous Columns
30th November, 2008
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PLP SENATORS AT WORK: The Senate met after a long hiatus from work on Wednesday 26th November.  They had not met since the summer time.  The House of Assembly had spent months debating Bills that had been introduced on crime matters since before the summer break.  The government decided to park them all in Committee.  They made no changes in Committee to the bills save some cosmetic changes to the Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Bill.  The Senators got the whole raft of Bills: on plea bargaining, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Mental Health Act, on human trafficking, on domestic violence and sexual offences - all one day and disposed of them.  The PLP Senators made full presentations.  The country is consumed about crime.  The murder toll as we move into December is now 72 for the year, seven short of the record number of 79 last year.  Our photos of the week are the PLP senators as they spoke in the Senate Hope Strachan, Jerome Fitzgerald and Michael Halkitis.  BIS photos: Peter Ramsay


The press reported on Monday 24th November that the Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham believed that the country was lucky that he indeed is the Prime Minister of The Bahamas rather than Perry Christie of the PLP.  He claims, as they say when introducing preachers at a Baptist service, that he is a man for a time such as this.  It was a churlish thing to say.  Stupid, in fact!  But what can you expect of someone whose time is obviously up and needs to move off the scene and let someone else take over.

The matter of his statement and the silliness of it were addressed by Fred Mitchell MP for Fox Hill at the joint public branch meetings of the Fox Hill and Marathon Branches of the PLP on Tuesday 25th November. Mr. Mitchell said the following: “A word to Hubert Ingraham…  It is not good to live in cloud cuckoo land. In the press he was quoted… saying that the country would have been worse off under Perry Christie as Prime Minister.  One thing is, we will never know.  The other is, mouth can open to say anything.  What we do know is that our country is worse off under Hubert Ingraham as Prime Minister than when Perry Christie was Prime Minister 18 months ago.”
Perry Christie, the former Prime Minister and now Leader of the Opposition, himself addressed the issue when he spoke at that Fox Hill meeting.  He put it succinctly.  He told the audience that all they had to do to figure out whether they were better off under Hubert Ingraham as Prime Minister was to put their hands in their pockets and they could immediately tell the difference.

Can you imagine, though, that the Prime Minister of the country could make such a silly and inane statement while a country is careening out of control and into crisis?

Since coming to office, it has been that way with Mr. Ingraham. He has no agenda.  He is obviously a tired old warhorse who has no more interest in this job that he has than in the man in the moon.  Yet he finds himself in the job and does not want to leave because he sees himself as the king of all he surveys.  That makes him like the lion that has been wounded, even though weakened, he still has the capacity to bite your hand off.

What we see in our country is degradation.  What we get from the Free National Movement and Mr. Ingraham is public relations.  Look at the roads; holes everywhere.  Look at the dead rats that you see everywhere and the live rats running across the streets.  Look at the garbage uncollected.  Look at the state of the hospitals.  Look at the tourism product.  That is the country over which Mr. Ingraham presides, slipping into darkness.  He responds like the frog that is in warm water, and you slowly turn up the heat but the frog does not believe he is dying and the heat turns to boiling level.  He simply sits there in the water feeling good until it is too hot and it is too late to save himself.

What does that mean for the PLP?  Fred Mitchell made this point at the meeting on Tuesday evening in Fox Hill: “There is an inexorable transition taking place in the PLP.  It is coming whether we like it or not.  All of us from the top to the bottom must know that and each has to examine what our roles will be in that transition and be prepared to do what is necessary to effect it.  Tonight, mine is to promote the ideas for change.  People look to the campaign of our brother Barack Obama in the United States.  All I say is, you cannot simply talk the language of change; you must change.  Everyone wants to talk change but when it comes to change, no one wants to change.”
Frank Rich, the New York Times columnist writing on 16th November about the United States said that at a time of genuine national peril we actually do need an opposition party that is not brain-dead.

That certainly must apply to The Bahamas as well.  The PLP has to come alive not only as a party preparing for government but to play an extensive role in framing the debate in the country as an opposition party, where a government is simply itself brain dead.  It is difficult to do so in the face of what Mr. Mitchell called the unremitting hostility of the media but it must be done.  The two ways he argued that it can be combated is by the use of the technology available to us and by the use of plain old fashioned meetings.  In other words, you must get the word out, mouth to mouth.

To be sure, there are some retooling and retraining issues that the PLP must address for itself.  First, the branch structure has to be strengthened and there must be a programme of recruitment.  Secondly, the shadow Cabinet must begin to act as a shadow Cabinet.  Its members are too silent on too many issues.  Indeed, the country may not even know that there is a shadow Cabinet.  Thirdly, there is a need for a comprehensive policy document about where the PLP intends to take the country if it wins the government.  The themes must be social justice and economic empowerment.  That has to be fine tuned to a politically saleable message.

All of this however will be for naught if this does not galvanize around a leader who has the support of the faithful.  The transition about which Mr. Mitchell spoke will inevitably include that as a factor.  However, those who approach this process by seeking to down, disrespect and diss the incumbent leader as he himself retools and retrains the PLP are to be cautioned.  They are looking for trouble.

Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 29th November 2008 up to midnight: 220,174.

Number of hits for the month of November up to Saturday 29th November 2008 at midnight: 1,186,393.

Number of hits for the year 2008 up to Saturday 29th November 2008 at midnight: 12,331,255. 


    The Progressive Liberal Party’s spokesman on Foreign Affairs sent  a note of condolences to the Indian High Commissioner to The Bahamas in Kingston, Jamaica to express condolences on the deaths as a result of the attempted siege of Mumbai, that nation’s financial capital.  The statement reads as follows:
    “Please accept on behalf of the Progressive Liberal Party, our Leader Perry Christie and all of our members and supporters in The Bahamas our sincere condolences on the deaths and injuries as a result of the appalling incident in Mumbai.  We are deeply concerned about the welfare of your people and wish to express our solidarity with your government and people at this sad time. Our thoughts will continue to be with your country.”

    We think that Julian Francis, the former Central Bank Governor and now Chair of BTC Company Ltd., made an interesting point about the run down of the foreign reserves in these times of trouble.  But it is one of these points that you wonder whether is more hurtful than helpful.  The nub of it is this.  Mr. Francis during the past week told The Nassau Guardian that the foreign currency reserves are now at $626 million.  He said that he was concerned that if things do not go well during the winter and there is not new foreign direct investment, the reserves will run down to historic lows and this will undermine the value of the Bahamian dollar.  Each Bahamian dollar gets its value from the US dollar in the Central Bank that backs it.  He urged the country to be cautious in its spending.
    From what we hear, the airport is as busy as ever, with Bahamians crowding to go away for the weekend and shop until they drop.  Obviously, Bahamians aren’t paying attention to cautions over spending.  Mr. Francis told the story of how the reserves of the country ran down in 1992 to $150 million.  The conventional wisdom is that the country should have three months of non oil import level reserves to carry us through.  We suppose on balance it is good thing for us to know about, but for poor people, what choice do they really have but to spend what they have?  This country now has an increasing problem with poverty.  There is no public policy instrument that is dealing with this.
    All through the week, the country was battered by one bad news story after the next.  The Standard and Poor’s rating on the outlook for the economy was downgraded from stable to negative.  The sovereign credit rating remained thankfully at A minus.  On the heels of that, though, came the news that our GDP growth for this year lags behind all of the Caribbean expect for Jamaica.  Even Haiti is ahead of us.  The main point here, we suppose, is that the experts in The Bahamas love to describe problems.  The problem we have with them is that they offer no solutions.  There is a whole industry in The Bahamas, from the Prime Minister on down, to describe problems.  What do we pay these people for?  Not to describe problems, but to give us solutions and we don’t think telling us not to spend money is a solution.  We know that.  The solution we want is how to find the money.  The Bahamian saying: “Talk is cheap, but money buy land.”


    Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham went to St. John, the capital of Antigua last weekend for a meeting of the Caricom Bureau.  The meeting was chaired by the current Caricom chair Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer of Antigua.  Mr. Spencer led the Bureau through discussions on the remit for the negotiations to settle a Caricom trade agreement with Canada.  The one way preference system under the current Carib/Can agreement with Canada will not be WTO compliant when the current waiver expires.  The European Union has already signed an agreement with Caricom, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).  The Americans will also be calling shortly, we imagine.
Shown from left at the 24th meeting of the Bureau of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caricom Community in St. John’s, Antigua are Caricom Secretary General Dr. Edwin Carrington, Prime Minister Ingraham, Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda and Prime Minister Dean Barrow of Belize.  Photo: Antigua Sun

    During the course of the debate on the crime bills, Attorney General Michael Barnett (pictured) was in the unenviable position of having to defend the Office of the Attorney General, which has been blamed for not being able to deal with the backlog of cases and thus clogging up the courts.  The judges and the politicians have piled on the office, with judges saying the most uncomplimentary things about them.  Mr. Barnett could only say the reasons why.  There is no thought that the problem is going to be resolved.
    What we wish is that the new Attorney General would simply apologize on behalf of the FNM and particularly on behalf of his big mouthed Prime Minister for making baseless and “ballsless” accusations against the PLP on this score.  That was the source of Mr. Ingraham infamous comment “wutless” which he infamously attempted to apply to former Prime Minister Perry Christie.  Here are the excuses given by the Attorney General for why the office can’t perform its job as reported by the Nassau Guardian:
    “Murder cases are piling up faster than the 25 prosecutors in the Office of the Attorney General can deal with them.  With 60 murders recorded in 2006, 79 murders taking place in 2007 and 71 so far for 2008 - and with police boasting a high detection rate - the number of these cases that need to be heard is well over 100, and the number of murder suspects on bail was last reported at more than 100…  There are more than 400 criminal cases currently on the Supreme Court calendar…  Currently, there are only two judges in Nassau and one in Freeport who deal with criminal matters.  The Attorney General said there should soon be another judge in the capital hearing those matters.  Every time you have a criminal matter you need a court to be able to conduct a criminal trial.  You need a jury to be able to conduct a criminal trial.  You need the witnesses and you need to have the support staff.  It’s always a challenge…  The same group of lawyers practice in the criminal courts and there are often conflicts [of scheduling] that arise.”
    Mr. Barnett hopes that the plea bargaining bill just passed by the Senate will help to alleviate the backlog, but President of the Bahamas Bar Association Wayne Munroe expressed his take on the matter to the Nassau Guardian: “I don't see that it will be helpful…  In our constitution, the Attorney General is charged solely and exclusively with prosecutions.  The bill might be seen to be unconstitutional for infringing on that proposition.  So apart from potentially being unconstitutional, [and] adding an extra step which would add delay, I don’t know that it’s going to accomplish anything at all, but to put the system back one step.”
BIS/Peter Ramsay


    The Marathon and Fox Hill Branches of the PLP held a joint meeting of their branches on the outside on the Fox Hill Parade on Tuesday 25th November.  The meeting was held to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the founding of the PLP on the 23rd November 2008.  The theme of the meeting was “55 years… into the future.”  The speakers were Viraj Perpall, Acting Chair of the Young Liberals; Cheryl Bazard, Attorney at Law; Ryan Pinder, Attorney at Law; Grand Bahama Vice Chair Melissa Sears, Senator Jerome Fitzgerald, Melanie Griffin PLP MP Yamacraw, Glenys Hanna Martin, PLP Chair, Fred Mitchell PLP MP Fox Hill and Party leader Perry Christie MP.  You may click the photos of Perry Christie, Fred Mitchell and Glenys Hanna Martin above for video links to their addresses mounted on
Photos: Andrew Burrows

    In his address to Rotary on 13th November speaking about the victory of Barack Obama, Fred Mitchell the Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs said this: “He is obviously a balanced and well educated, thoughtful man.  We ought to enjoy the moment.  Whatever his policies are to come, his victory is so important to the lifting of the self-esteem of young people of African descent in this country that it outweighs any potential economic issues at this time.  They can see that one of their own can make it, if they work hard, learn their lessons and be honest.  The victory negates the thug culture that threatens to overtake us even up to the halls of government in this country.”
    Vice President of the Bahamas Union Of Teachers Quentin Laroda talked to the Bahama Journal about the “Thug Life”.  His remarks were published on 27th November in the Bahama Journal.  We share the concern about this because the FNM used, spitefully and cynically used, the thug culture that has infected this country to win their election victory in 2007.  Mr. Ingraham has become a specialist in it.  So while we are busy trying to encourage young boys to learn their lessons, Mr. Ingraham is busy encouraging the thug life.  Here is what Mr. Laroda had to say in his own words:
    “Student violence in Bahamian schools is due significantly to the fact that the nation’s youth have adopted too much of the American hip hop culture, in which it is considered cool to be a thug.
    “The Ministry of Education’s TAPS Programme – which is geared to deal with the issue of school violence through less punitive actions, and psychological and therapeutic sessions – is not the answer.
    “Alternative programmes are needed for children with special needs, which cannot be force-fed into the general student population to create frustration for both the teacher and the child.
    “I think the way forward is to try as best as possible to meet the needs of kids who don’t fit into the norm in terms of behaviour and academic abilities.
    “I support any attempt to see how we can ameliorate those issues and problems.
    “Some of the psychologists and sociologists misdiagnose the causes of the violent behaviour by students and seem to be focusing on the American diagnosis of the ‘angry black male who has been disenfranchised because of race etc.’
    “I think the violence in our society is based on a culture of imitation of the American cultures and some cultures of some other countries as well.  So we have Bahamians who might not be angry, per se, but they think that it is cool to be a certain way.  I think the influence of the rap and hip hop music is greatly underestimated.
    “If you would look at their behaviour, it mimics a lot of the rap songs they listen to.  The girls behave like they are in a rap video and the boys behave the same way.  I know of kids who live in nice middle class areas who are describing themselves as ‘in a gang’ and ‘in the hood and in the ghetto’.  So it is not their environment so much, as in their mindset.
    “Being in the ghetto or the hood and in a gang is what is deemed cool by hip hop music.
    “Your natural instinct as a Bahamian would be to solve a problem or apologize if you insult or hurt someone.  Your rap culture is telling you ‘boy show that nigga that you don’t play and you ain’t soft.’  That is not what the traditional Bahamian looked to or cared about but that is what the rap stars push in their music.  It is not so much that the young Bahamians are angry at anything, but it’s that the culture they have adopted has taught them a mode of behaviour and they are just living by that mode of behaviour.
    “Even with the drugs, smoking dope, the sex and the reference to women as ******* and ***, and so forth and I want a Thug… We have a group of young Bahamian females 30 and under whose idea of the perfect man is a tattooed thug.  That doesn’t come from anything Bahamian.
    “I grew up in the hip hop culture and know how it influenced me and I conclude that there is a generation gap between the young people and psychological professionals dealing with this issue.
    “They are adopting an American model and trying to apply it to Bahamian society.  I think what we have to understand that in The Bahamas, we always had teenage pregnancies.  Our great-grandparents and our parents had kids at an early age but there was a level of shame.  What we lack now is that there is no more shame.
    “The parents of the students now enrolled in school grew up in the 1980’s where the drug culture was rampant in The Bahamas.  So materialism is rampant.  So we have young boys who may not have any homosexual inclination but if an older homosexual says well I can get you a car, or some nice shoes or a Tommy shirt, they will sleep with him to get those things because that’s what is cool.
    “Some children have lost respect for life, property and authority and want to live out the thug life that they hear about in hip hop – dying in a ‘blaze of glory’.
    “Forty years ago, if a woman was walking home in the night and she saw a man in the road, she felt comforted and safe because that man would offer to walk her home safely.  Now, if a woman is in the road in the night and sees a man, she is fearful for her life because more than likely, she thinks she’ll get raped or robbed.
    “Our children have adopted a culture of violence that is promoted by the music they listen to.”


    The Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham told the Nassau Guardian in its edition of Tuesday 25th November that the Royal Oasis Hotel in Grand Bahama will not open any time soon.  The two hotels that form Royal Oasis in Grand Bahama have been closed since the last hurricanes hit the island.  Some 1200 people are out of work.  Freeport is now a ghost town.  Mr. Ingraham said that there was no good news to report on the matter.  In another interview, he praised the Our Lucaya Resort of Freeport for keeping the 1000 Bahamian employees on the job despite the down turn in the economy.
    This man Ingraham is something else.  He finally has caught on that Royal Oasis is a dead project.  They seem to have problems with financing.  The government needs to buy the hotels and get Royal Oasis up and running again.  As for Our Lucaya, we agree what they are doing is good but why did he not do the same at Paradise Island; persuade the hotel to keep people in work?  What is now emerging is that the FNM government was complicit in allowing Atlantis to clean house of all the employees that they thought were undesirable.  The union is also being accused of being involved in the same thing.  Bottom line, Mr. Ingraham is a lost soul, a commentator when he as Prime Minister ought to be doing something about it.
File photo of former Oasis employees gathered to commiserate on being laid off

    The relentless campaign of FNM collaborators and sympathisers in the media to interfere with the business of the PLP and its leadership continued over the past week.  First, there was an inaccurate headline in The Nassau Guardian, which said that Mr. Christie (pictured in this file photo) had decided to stay on as leader until 2012.  The only problem is there was nothing in the quote from Mr. Christie which indicated that he indeed said that.  Here is what The Guardian itself quoted him as saying:
    “My commitment is to ensure that the PLP wins the next general election.  In the process between now and then there will be considerations as to how best to go about doing that.  As of now, I am the leader.  There is no thought on my part of vacating that position and most certainly, I will lead the party going into the next convention.  As of now, I am leader of the party and it’s safe to assume that the party has a leader capable of taking it into the next election.
    “One of the things that we want to be very, very committed to is ensuring that we make all of the right decisions that will be, I think, beneficial to the Progressive Liberal Party including from time to time assessing the position of leadership in the party.”
    Now, we have said it before on this site, the maxim of the press of The Bahamas is ‘Never let the truth interfere with a good story… don’t bore me with the facts, I have already made up my mind’.
Within days of the Guardian's inaccuracy, The Punch, the down market rag, then piled it on by running a front page article with the pictures of the Chairman Glenys Hanna Martin and Obie Wilchcombe, the Opposition spokesman on Tourism under a banner headline saying that a PLP MP was looking to join the FNM because Mr. Christie had shocked him by saying that he was staying on until 2012.  The clear point of the story was to perpetrate a deception that the two who were pictured might have been one of the MPs.
    It turns out when you actually read the story that it had nothing to do with them at all, save that they were said to be stunned by the revelation in The Guardian, which itself as we have pointed out was not a revelation or truth at all.  The MP they were talking about was Kenyatta Gibson who last time we checked does not sit in the House as a PLP but as an independent.  That then means that it was not a PLP MP at all who was looking to join the FNM.  The whole thing was concocted, a tissue of lies, made up in the fertile imagination of the national misfit Ivan Johnson who runs The Punch.  He and John Marquis of The Tribune deserve the same dungeon deep down in hell.
    It gets tiresome but we hope that the PLP leadership now gets this point, and more importantly begins to act on it.  It is the point made by Perry Christie at the public meeting in Fox Hill on Tuesday 25th November and we quote: “Every available informational avenue, technology and otherwise, must be used to connect with the people.  No public issue affecting Bahamians must go unaddressed.  No cry for help must go unheard.  No false and self serving political challenge from the other side must go unanswered!”

    The government of the Turks and Caicos Islands headed by Premier Michael Misick (pictured) has issued a statement clarifying our report last week based on a report on the Caribbean Net news website.  The following is the statement:

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands; Monday, November 24, 2008 –
Press Statement from the Desk of the Premier the Honourable Michael Misick outlining facts pertaining to £5 million Hurricane Relief Aid from the United Kingdom.
      “As a result of the global economic slowdown and deepening financial crisis, countries around the world are challenged with economic realities and the Turks and Caicos Islands is no exception.
      “We have witnessed countries borrowing billions of dollars to sure up their economies and countless companies making dramatic cut backs; for example Citibank has laid off 53,000 employees.
      “Here, at home, we have had two major hurricanes costing the Government to lose millions of dollars in revenue and costing even more millions in expenditure for recovery and rebuilding after the Hurricanes.  As a result of these realities, my Government has taken measures to protect the economy and ensure that we are able to survive the global recession.
      “Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, the People's Democratic Movement (PDM) and their allies in Caribbean Net News (CNN) have asserted that the British have taken over the administration of TCI Finances.  This is absolutely not true and is a continued campaign by the PDM and Caribbean Net News to smear our country, undermine the government, the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the growth of our country.
      “The facts are as follows:

    “Every Turks and Caicos Islander should be assured that your government will do what it takes to protect your interests and ensure that all of the hard work that has gone into empowering our people and providing progress for our country will be maintained and excel.
      “Let the Progress Continue.”

    The Executives and Members of the Bahamas National Youth Council are inviting all political parties and their support organizations to be a part of a national youth forum entitled ‘Youth Tackles the Economic Crisis’.  Its President Tyson McKenzie says:
    “We would appreciate it, if you were to continuously encourage all young persons of the political parties to attend the forum on the 18th December 2008 at 7 p.m. at the Ministry of Youth on Thompson Blvd.  This forum will facilitate a process that will allow young persons from various aspects of society to inquire and receive the information on the plans that the government and private sector has to address these unfortunate times.  It will allow young persons to speak their voice as it relates to the economy and ensure that young persons; despite their political preferences and beliefs are all heard by influential figures.
    “Invited panellists will include The Hon. Zhivargo Laing. Minister of State for Finance and Public Service; Mrs. Wendy Craigg, Governor of Central Bank of the Bahamas; Mr. James Smith, Chairman of Colina Financial Advisors Ltd.; Mr. Michael Halkitis, Opposition Senator and Mr. Ryan Pinder; US Certified Tax Attorney and Attorney-at-Law.  We have also requested remarks be brought by the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Minister Desmond Bannister.”

    The Bahamas government’s Ambassador to Washington gave an address in Freeport on Thursday 27th November in Grand Bahama.  C.A. Smith was urging a diplomatic engagement with the new American President Barack Obama particularly as it applied to the law which Mr. Obama supported as a Senator, called the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act.  You will remember that this was a subject thoroughly addressed by the Opposition’s spokesman on Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell in an address to Rotary several weeks before.  Oh well, better late than never for the FNM.  Here is some of what C.A. Smith said in his own words as reported by Vanessa C. Rolle of the Bahama Journal:
    “Because of the strength of our democracy, our laws, the relevance of our Conventions, and the long standing good neighbour relationship that we enjoy with the United States, we should not be comingled with jurisdictions that violate the laws of the United States or threaten their well-being.
    “Sound diplomatic and economic relations will likely influence The Bahamas’ ability to successfully address the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Bill proposed by President-Elect Barrack Obama when he was in the Senate.
    “The Bahamas will have to redouble its efforts in engaging and sensitizing the new administrative team of United States President-Elect Barrack Obama of the long history of friendly relations between both countries.
    “The Bahamas must continue to engage US policy makers in the White House, on Capital Hill and elsewhere about the strength of the nation’s democratic environment.
    “This area is of great concern to The Bahamas. If the Bill is successful, it tends to put all tax haven jurisdictions into one grouping. These all are groups of jurisdictions that provide safety for their tax dodgers.
    “The thing that we have to do in The Bahamas is to make sure that there is a clear understanding at the highest level of the United States, at Congress and elsewhere that The Bahamas has a well regulated [jurisdiction with] well experienced regulators, a jurisdiction that reaches the highest standard of financial institutions worldwide.
    “The Bahamas now has an opportunity to show the US hierarchy the strength of its regulations in the banking sector.
    “In the face of bank failures in the US, which are being attributed to the absence of industry regulation, we in The Bahamas have the opportunity to tell the world that our democracy, judiciary and financial systems are stable and our regulations are formidable.
    You may click here for the address by Mr. Mitchell, which said the same thing weeks ago.


    The San Salvador Christian Council hosted their First Public Speaking Competition at Saint Augustine’s Anglican Church, San Salvador on Saturday, 22nd November, 2008.  The topic of the competition was ‘The Lack of Corporal Punishment has led to the moral decay of San Salvador and The Bahamas’.  Dr. Thomas A. Rothfus, Executive Director, Gerace Research Centre, College of The Bahamas, San Salvador, expressed gratitude to the president of the San Salvador Christian Council, the Reverend Father Jude Edomwonyi, for giving him the opportunity to serve as Chief Judge for the event.  He also congratulated the contestants for their display of intellectual creativity and development.
Photo: winners of the junior category, senior category and Fr. Jude Edomwonyi, President San Salvador Christian Council


    Thanksgiving Day, though American in origin as the last Thursday in November, is widely celebrated in The Bahamas; and each year, the Fox Hill Constituency, under the patronage of its Member of Parliament Fred Mitchell, hosts senior citizens to a thanksgiving luncheon, held, poolside, at the home of Mr. Julian Edgecombe, son of Fox Hill elders Mr. and Mrs. Frank Edgecombe.  Mr. Mitchell (in straw hat) is pictured chatting with the seniors, including above left at left, Mr. Frank Edgecombe and above right, Mrs. Edgecombe.  More pictures of the event from the Fox Hill Consituency office are shown below.  Immediately below at centre, Mr. Mitchell is pictured with the director of the Fox Hill Urban Renewal Programme, Mrs. Portia Sands.

Farm Road’s Joe Billy - Blind Blake Festival
The Farm Road Community has announced the 24th Annual Joe Billy - Blind Blake Festival; Thursday, 4th to Saturday, 6th December 2008 to be held on Market St. between. Lilly of the Valley Corner & Quakoo St.  This year, the Festival will salute the late Irene Joan Wood.  On Thursday, December 4th at 7:00 p.m enjoy ‘Christmas with the People’ a live radio broadcast on Joy 101.5FM and Sis. C.  On Friday, December 5th at 7:30 p.m. the Member of Parliament for Farm Road and the Minister of State for Culture will officially open the Festival followed by junkanoo groups in a ‘Best Music Rush-Out Competition’.  On Saturday, December 6th the Festival goes all day, with food, drinks and entertainment for the entire family.

Christmas Concert In Fox Hill
The Fox Hill Festival Committee is holding its annual Christmas Concert on Saturday 6th December at 6:30 p.m. on the Fox Hill Parade.  This year the Christmas Tree will be named in honour of the former representative for the Fox Hill Constituency Frank Edgecombe.  Mr. Edgecombe is a former Senator, Member of Parliament and head teacher of the Sandilands Primary School.  The Bahamas Youth Concert Orchestra will perform under the direction of Joanne Connaughton.  It is free and all are invited to attend.

Standard & Poors Rating
The rating agency Standard and Poors that international investors look to as to whether or not to invest in a country has now downgraded the investment rating outlook for The Bahamas to negative because of the down turn in the economy here, dependent as it is on the US economy.  The all important rating as attached to bonds or government securities remains A minus.  The move was not unexpected, but again puts pressure on the government of Hubert Ingraham to bolster the economy throughout the rough ride.

Haiti/Bahamas Diplomatic Agreement
Haiti and The Bahamas signed an agreement on Thursday 27th November, which will waive visas for Haitian diplomats and Bahamian diplomats entering the respective countries.  The agreement was signed by Harold Louis Joseph, Ambassador for Haiti and Brent Symonette, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister for The Bahamas.

Omar Archer on Bernard Nottage MP
The Tribune up to its usual mischief published the contents of a private e-mail that somehow reached into their office.  There was an exchange of comments about the Leader of Opposition business in the House of Assembly Bernard Nottage.  The e-mail came from Omar Archer who left the Bahamian Democratic Movement of Cassius Stewart and joined the PLP.  He was involved most recently in a drama in which he escaped being shot several times by gunmen in Nassau Village.  Mr. Archer’s comments were not complementary and went unanswered by the PLP once they reached the public domain.  We think that Dr. Nottage is an excellent Leader of Opposition business and PLP MPs are doing the best they can, given the circumstances in which they and the party now find themselves.

What Are The Brits Up To?
British police arrested Damien Greene MP and Shadow Minister for Immigration for the Conservative Party in the UK.  Mr. Greene was held for nine hours on Thursday 27th November to be questioned in connection with information that was leaked into the public domain about illegal workers in Britain that the UK Home Office, their equivalent of the Ministry of Immigration, did not want revealed.  David Cameron, the Conservative Party leader was livid.  He said that Mr. Greene was just doing his job as an MP.  Many have criticized the tactic as heavy handed.  The Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the UK has denied that he or any Minister was aware of the arrest before it happened.  Fred Mitchell, Opposition spokesman for Foreign Affairs has sent a letter of concern to the Opposition leader in Britain.  The view here is that this is all the Hubert Ingraham administration and that of Acting Commissioner of Police Reginald Ferguson need to make a similar move in The Bahamas.

PM’s Press Conference
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has a scheduled press conference for today at 3 p.m. If there is any breaking news, we will update you.

Ricardo Treco Recovering
The PLP Candidate for the St. Anne’s Constituency in the 2007 election is recovering at home following a brief stint in hospital.  Our thoughts are with him.

Mother Pratt’s Husband
We express our concern for the husband of Cynthia ‘Mother’ Pratt, the Deputy Leader of the PLP and former Deputy Prime Minister.  Mr. Pratt is facing serious health challenges in hospital.  Please continue to pray for their family.

Devard Francis Marries
St. Anne’s PLP Constituency Chair Devard Francis married the former Janique Deveaux in a ceremony at the Southland Church of God on Soldier Road on Saturday 29th November.  We wish him well.  Former Prime Minister Perry Christie and Mrs. Christie attended the wedding, as did MPs Alfred Gray (PLP MICAL) and Fred Mitchell (PLP Fox Hill).

OECD Still On The Bahamas
On Saturday 28th November, Caribbean Net News quoting a Reuters story said that the Director of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Centre For Tax Policy Administration Jeffery Owens says that The Bahamas is not fulfilling the commitment it made to the OECD on transparency and accountability standards.

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