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Photo of the week

Comment of the week

THE SUCCESS OF THE CARNIVAL

05/17/15 2:02 PM

 

image001This week, we share with the readers of this column some of the responses of the commentators and pundits about the carnival put on by the Government on 6 May to 9th May.  It was an unqualified success.  It was so successful that you had a slightly tipsy Branville McCartney, the Leader of the extra parliamentary Democratic National Alliance (DNA) congratulating the organizers on TV—couldn’t quite bring himself to be gracious enough to say thank you Perry Christie but what he said would do.  Then the old sour puss Candia Dames, the Nassau Guardian’s editor, was able to run the headline VINDICATED to describe what she said was the vindication of Perry Christie, perhaps using his word, in the face of often withering criticism of the whole carnival effort.  It would have been interesting to see the ample figure of Ms. Dames rollicking, mammary glands a bouncing, in the Carnival but never mind next year. But we digress.

 When they had all sobered up so to speak, they were busy talking about accounting for the money spent and yada, yada, yada.

We want to congratulate the government.  In that there is no surprise.  We want especially to congratulate Paul Major who has now cemented the title of the Mr. Go To Guy when you want to get an idea executed and you want to be sure that it will be carried out efficiently and with integrity.  Whatever they taught in junior school, at SAC and working at Citibank, he learned it well and he carried off this one with finesse and directed grace. 

Now for those who are still biting iron, sucking sour grapes and other assorted misfits who can’t see the forest for the trees on this one.  In that group we put people like Ian Strachan, more of what we say about him later;  Lincoln Bain—what can you say about him but bitter bitter bitter.  The one we can’t understand is Celi Moss, bright guy but negative, negative, negative.  The leading Mr. Bah Humbug though is the Leader of the Opposition Hubert Minnis. 

Tens of thousands of FNM supporters were out there at the Carnival.  No doubt they had a good time.  Tens of thousands spent money, and provided a profit for the scores of vendors who were selling stuff at the event.  One story we found moving and compelling:  a lady who didn’t know how she was going to keep her kid in school, made enough at the carnival to pay her child’s school fees.  To us that made the whole thing worth it.

Nicolette Bethel who used to be the Director of Culture couldn’t quite seem to make her mind about it and maybe she has a point as you will see later.  Here’s our point though.  The late Winston “ Gus “ Cooper and Percy “Vola” Francis, pictured above, stood with Fred Mitchell, the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Junkanoo parade in  Marsh Harbour, Abaco   in February 2013.  One is the founder of the Valley Boys, arguably Junkanoo’s greatest group.  The other is the leader of the Saxons, the greatest rival of the Valley Boys. The two them said to Mr. Mitchell that it was time to take Junkanoo to another level.  They had just come from Brazil and they saw how Brazil’s Carnival was.  It was an industry which supported the work of artists all year round.  They needed to do the same with Junkanoo and they needed for the government to embrace that vision.

They got Perry Christie to buy into the idea and he sold it to the wider government.  Fast forward Ministers Danny Johnson Obie Wilchombe and Paul Major and his Committee and all the controversy and back and forth.  The end of the day is that from Gus Cooper, bless his departed soul struck that first blow to create the Valley Boys, he had a vision for the future of culture in The Bahamas.  It took from 1955 to 2015 for that vision to come true.  That is 60 years.   Andre Rollins, impatient to succeed, could learn a thing or two about how time passes and how ideas sell.

For our money though the best treat, excuse us ladies, was the sexy “old gals”. We won’t name those who put on their costumes and bared their flesh for our entertainment.  Old age wears well on them.  They are still beautiful gals, that’s the point.  The nation had fun and plenty of husbands will be shelling out next year while their wives are on the road march, and they will be sucking salt back home on the couch watching it on TV. Next year we look forward to Loretta Butler Turner, FNM MP, fully regaled, joining those sexy old gals in the road march.

 But fellas hands off these women, they belong to some pretty powerful men in this country.

Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 16th May 2015 up midnight: 481,515;
Number of hits for the month of May up to Saturday 16th May 2015 up to midnight: 938,967;
Number of hits for the year 2015 up to Saturday 16th May 2015 up to midnight: 9,020,959.

TOP

Editorial

PM’s Take On Ismerlian

05/17/15 5:52 PM

The Prime Minister Perry Christie spoke to the Nassau Guardian on 13th  May and published on 14th May his take on the Bahmar Cable Beach project and the delays which are much in the news.  See our comment above LORD LET THE GOVERNMENT SAVE IZMERLIAN. Here is what the Prime Minister had to say in his own words:

“ It is not my view that it is a money situation, that the financing has run out or that the Ismerlian family is without money.

“ This is not the issue.  I think the parties got caught into two very strong positions that represented the developer, the Izmirlian, wanting to have a certain date to finish and the contractors wanting to have payments, installment payments, toward being able to arrive at a date, that they can finish, and so clearly they needed to have an intermediary talking to both of them and the strongest intermediary you can have is those who represent the people of the country.

On Ismerlian Anti Government Comments at the Chamber Of Commerce delivered last month, the Prime Minister said: “ This is a family interest [the investment in Bahamar], and so I think he allowed frustrations to overtake him and to say some things on reflection he ought not to have said and most certainly I would have wished for him not to have said, but having said it, we have passed that stage now.”

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THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS BY ELCOTT COLEBY

05/17/15 2:00 PM

elcott (11 – 15 MAY 2015) 

PM Christie opens Island House Boutique Hotel

With 30 luxury rooms, six luxury apartments, two restaurants, gym, spa, squash courts, yoga studio, meeting room, pool, movie theatre, a coffee bar, and 128 employees to pamper their high end guests, the $40 million luxury boutique hotel, the Island House Boutique Hotel was officially opened on Monday of this week. Delivering the keynote address was Prime Minister Christie who thanked the Holowesko family for their belief in the Bahamian economy and for taking the risk to invest in a segment of the economy traditionally dominated by foreign investors. The Prime Minster touted the economic impact of the investment including increased public revenue and repeated the call for more Bahamians to invest in tourism related projects. The Island House is located in the hills just outside Lyford Cay.    

Four Seasons Resort to boost South Eleuthera economy

After a quarter of a century of waiting, the residents of South Eleuthera are set to benefit substantially from a major economic stimulus involving one of the world’s most respected hotel and hospitality brands, the Four Seasons.

A Heads of Agreement between the government of The Bahamas, the Cotton Bay Holdings Limited and Mine Holdings Limited for the construction of a five star, $100 million luxury 115 room boutique hotel, 40 private residences, an 18 hole world class Robert Trent Jones golf course, spa, restaurants, recreational facilities, a commercial shopping center and employee housing. This first phase will create 200 direct construction jobs and 300 hotel jobs during operations.

“This day will mark the beginning of the renaissance of tourism on the beautiful island of Eleuthera” said Prime Minister Christie in his keynote address. Commenting further on additional jobs to be created in support services and infrastructural upgrades, the Prime Minister pointed to the planned upgrade of the Rock Sound International Airport.

“South Eleuthera airport facilities will be upgraded to international IATA standards and allow for day and night time commercial and private international flights with refueling and adequate passenger and luggage facilities as well as improved local emergency services to meet the brand standards of Four Seasons and other significant touristic developments taking place in the immediate future” said Prime Minister Christie.

Tourism Minister Hon. Obie Wilchcombe added that the government has facilitated a successful turnaround in the economies of Grand Bahama and Exuma and he fully expects the same for Eleuthera. He explained that The Bahamas was blest and privileged to have so many great hotel brands marketing its tourism products internationally but The Bahamas remains one of the greatest brands in the world.

The resort is expected to break ground before the end of the year under the watchful eye of its principal, Colombian born Dr. Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo, a resident of Eleuthera.  

Immigration amendment bill 2015 comes into force

Having been signed into law by the Governor General on Friday 8th May, the Immigration Amendment Act 2015 and attendant regulations came into force on Monday. In a statement released by the Minister of Immigration, Mitchell said that “this is a pleasing development and one which will strengthen the hand of the Department of Immigration as it seeks to stem the tide of unlawful migration in The Bahamas.”

The Act will amongst other things provide for stiffer penalties for illegal landing, for harbouring illegal migrants and for making attempts to leave this country to be smuggled into another country. The Act will also make it an offence to enter into a fraudulent marriage and will strengthen the powers of arrest of Immigration Officers.  READ MORE.

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TOURISM WEBSITE IS HACKED

05/17/15 2:00 PM

image006

NASSAU, Bahamas (BIS), May 14 — Further to the announcement by Bahamas Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie from the floor of the House on Wednesday that the official website of the Ministry of Tourism had been hacked, the Ministry of Tourism wishes to update the public on the facts surrounding the incident and the immediate steps taken by the government to mitigate further national security breaches.

The Bahamas government can confirm that several government-owned websites including the Ministry of Tourism websites, www.bahamas.com and www.bahamasfilm.com, were hacked on Wednesday morning apparently by members of a Tunisian Islamist activist group called the “Fallaga Team.”

All defaced sections of the government-owned websites were quickly removed and a corrected version redeployed and with the restoration of ALL compromised pages, all affected websites are now back to normal modes of operation.

The evidence collected has been turned over to the relevant local authorities and the matter is currently under active investigation.

As a short-term strategy and in an abundance of caution, all government websites have been checked for possible breaches, safeguarded and reinforced against potential vulnerabilities by the implementation of software patching.

As a long-term strategy and being cognizant of the fact that we live in an era where cyber-terrorism poses clear and present dangers to our national security, the government of The Bahamas will convene a meeting of industry experts to review the entire government owned internet related infrastructure with a view to determining what, if any, additional measures can be taken to deliver the strongest possible cyber-security protocol.

It is the intent of the government to cause to be established a permanent public/private sector committee that will meet regularly, conduct regular audits of public internet infrastructure and advise the government on matters of cyber-security so as to inform public policy going forward.

Minister of Tourism the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe underscored the importance of the internet as the dominant platform for global communications, trade and commerce. He also pointed out that such technological advancements attract the burden of opportunistic and unscrupulous individuals using these legitimate platforms for nefarious purposes, therefore the government of The Bahamas necessarily gave this breach its serious and immediate attention.

“IT networks, websites and social media have become essential communications tools used to conduct business in The Bahamas as is the case globally,” said the Tourism Minister. “We know that with today’s increasingly sophisticated malware, simply navigating to a compromised website or opening a document can unleash a whole slew of malware onto a user’s computer and can shut down entire networks, causing serious disruptions to government’s operations, to national trade and commerce and can sometimes cause serious harm to a country’s international reputation.

“As a consequence,” continued the minister, “hackers have special or invasive means of identifying weak spots for nefarious purposes. This matter has been given serious attention and we will spare no effort in protecting and safeguarding these valuable assets and as demonstrated this morning, we are ready with an immediate fix as we did yesterday morning.”

 

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LORD LET THE GOVERNMENT SAVE IZMERLIAN

05/17/15 2:00 PM

sarkisIt is clear that in some way the Bahamar Cable Bach hotel project is some deep doo do.  Yep the speculation is that the project, the invention of Sarkis Izmirlian, the Armenian merchant, who lives in Lyford Cay, does not have the money to complete the project. 

In the mainstream press and the social media, they put the figure of 250 million dollars are what is needed to finish it and it does not seem that he has a plan to come up with it.  The press said that the Prime Minister was engaged all week in talks to see if the “dispute” between the developer Mr. Izmirlian and the contractor China Construction can be resolved so the project can finish.  This is so important to the country and the PLP if it requires the government to step in and knock heads they should do so.  If it requires finding a new developer for the project, the government should find one. 

There is not a lot of public sympathy for Mr. Izmirlian who has made it seem like he is doing the country a favour on this one.  He is at odds with his immediate neighbour Breezes.  He is at odds with the government over the payments owed on paving the road.  He owes BEC a whole heap of millions.  He is at odds with the Union.  He is at odds with the government.  He is at odds with the contractor.  One can only imagine how much he is at odds with everyone and their grandmother.

The government has enough at stake in this though that they must step in, even if it means finding a new developer for the project. 

What really concerns us is that the present situation could very well lead to the developer without so much as a by your leave laying off the young people who are now working on the facility, newly hired excited.  You can just see that coming down the road.  Step in, enough is enough.

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DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER SPEAKS ON THE NEW BEC DEAL

05/17/15 2:00 PM

image007It’s been a long time coming and the Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis outlined the parameters of the deal on Wednesday 13th May in the House of Assembly as to how power and energy will be supplied to The Bahamas through the Bahamas Electricity Corporation in the future.  In the meantime, power cuts continue throughout New Providence with the spokesman for BEC saying that the cuts will be all over the island and will be two hours at a time.  The public is so sick and tired of power cuts and promises.  Let’s hope that this announcement leads to changes for the better in the power supply and lower prices.  You may click here for the full statement.

 

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THE CHANGE FOR THE BETTER TO LOWER PRICES

05/17/15 2:00 PM

 

image007Mr. Speaker
On Thursday, 30th April 2015, I announced the selection of PowerSecure International, Inc. as the preferred bidder to manage the New BEC, both generation and transmission/distribution, for a period of five (5) years, subject to the negotiation and finalisation of the management contract, the major terms of which have been agreed.

This decision was taken in consideration of the unanimous recommendation of the Task Force appointed to review the proposals and its financial advisors, KPMG Advisory Services, technical advisors, DNV GL, and as a result of an extensive, robust, and patient request for proposal (RFP) process.

Mr. Speaker
The National Energy Policy 2013-2033 identified six (6) priority areas to guide us to sustainable energy reform. The cited areas are:
1. Security of energy supply through diversification of fuels;
2. Modernising of the energy infrastructure;
3. Development of renewable energy sources such as solar, ocean energy, biofuels, waste-to-energy and wind;
4. Energy conservation and efficiency;
5. Development of a comprehensive governance/ regulatory framework to protect the consumer, effectively support the advancement of the energy sector, and to facilitate the introduction of renewables and the diversification of fuels; and
6. Eco-efficiency in the manufacturing, agricultural and tourism sectors and government as leaders in energy conservation and the use of renewable energy.

Mr. Speaker
A key step toward reform is the restructuring of The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), to create efficiencies which will allow for significant reductions in the cost of energy, reliability of service, increased energy security, and environmental responsibility. All of these will assist The Bahamas’ to meet the articulated goal of a modern, diversified and efficient energy sector, which provides Bahamians with affordable energy supplies, thereby enhancing our international competitiveness and sustainable prosperity.

We are well on the road to fulfilling our Charter for Governance commitment toward ensuring a positive bottom-line effect on the pockets of the average Bahamian and business owner. We have taken very deliberate steps to get to this point. The Amendment to the Bahamas Electricity Act, which we delivered earlier this year, was critical to what we do now.

Mr. Speaker
The RFP for the Management of BEC was issued in August 2013 and advertised widely in The Bahamas and internationally. From the RFP, we sought to ultimately identify a suitable company to manage all functions of the existing BEC under a new structure. That company would, to the extent required, bring access to capital for investment in the generation side of the business, as a partner to the Government. Further, the company would assist us in addressing the significant legacy liabilities of BEC totalling more than $450 million in an efficient manner, facilitating BEC’s capacity to invest in much needed new equipment. These legacy liabilities include bank debt and bonds, overdue payables, a deficit of the pension plan, and environmental liabilities (not yet quantified) as well as restructuring costs going forward.

As the process evolved, taking into account various challenges, in particular, the issue of restructuring the large amount of legacy debt, the structure was adjusted such that the relevant assets (excluding land) and business of BEC would be transferred to a single entity, the New BEC; and Government would itself procure offers for the refinancing of the legacy debt.

Mr. Speaker
It is important to note the key components that brought us from the initial 13 bidders of August 2013 to this point. By 13th September of that year, nine (9) bidders submitted technical proposals. Three (3) of the bids were rejected. By 15th November, five (5) of the remaining bidders submitted pricing proposals; and on 24th December, each were asked for further particulars of their proposals.

On 31st January 2014, four (4) bidders submitted revised pricing proposals. Each of them, in February and March of 2014 made presentations to the Task Force that included representatives of the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Works, Ministry of Environment & Housing, the Attorney General’s office along with the Government’s advisors.

From April to July, the Task Force and the Government’s advisors undertook a detailed assessment of bid proposals and alternatives put forward by bidders. In accordance with the process, the Task Force made recommendations to Cabinet on the next steps and for the refinancing of the legacy debt.
On 29th August 2014, three (3) bidders were invited to a final round of evaluations. These evaluations included site visits by a Government delegation to bidder facilities over the period September to November 2014. Negotiations on management contract terms were pursued in earnest and finalised during November and December 2014.
Mr. Speaker
When Government set out in pursuit of a Manager for BEC, we were firm in the criteria for the preferred bidder. We sought out the company best able to extract value from the existing New Providence generation assets including advanced asset management, efficiency retrofits, improved operating schemes, fuel selection and purchasing schemes, effective supply chain, emergency response planning, preparation and execution, and training employees in proper maintenance techniques. 
As well, the company had to have the ability to manage the building of new major generation in New Providence including objective development and financial evaluation of options, design and engineering capabilities, managing construction on time and on budget, operating the selected option, and optimising fuel source for the selected option.
Further, the company had to have the ability to extract value from existing assets on the Family Islands, including advanced asset management and fuel selection and purchasing schemes.
In respect of both New Providence and the Family Islands, the company had to have the ability to procure and/or manage the building of renewable energy projects supplemented with selective replacement of fossil fuel plants, including control schemes and integration system design, small fossil fuel installation experience, and renewable generation experience.

We also determined that the company must have the ability to improve the availability and reliability of the transmission and distribution systems to improve efficiency through state of the art asset management, planning for system and capacity expansions to meet new and increasing loads, use of live line maintenance and construction methods, effective supply chain, emergency response planning, preparation and execution and training of employees in proper construction and maintenance techniques for line and station work.

We deemed it necessary that the company demonstrate its ability to effectively manage the customer services functions including advanced metering infrastructure, to include pre-paid metering, the ability to detect theft, and the ability to remotely connect and disconnect power. Other modalities would include effective management of the bill rendering cycle, the collection cycle, and efficient management of service requests and the call centre function.

Mr. Speaker
The success of any company is commensurate to the efficiencies of its staff. It is therefore an imperative that the company commit to proactive management relationships, including employee and union relations and community interface. This commitment requires the incorporation of a Health and Safety programme to include safety rules and policies, energy control (switching & tagging) functions, safety training, and field audits of work.

While these were the overarching criteria for the RFP, it is given that the company must align itself with and support the realisation of Government’s National Energy Policy goals and objectives; and set out an overall strategy for sustainable cost reduction without compromise to reliability and the environment. The company is also required to be equally sensitive to the diverse needs of the Family Islands and articulate a strategy to meet those needs.

Mr. Speaker
PowerSecure, a public company in the United States of America, is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: POWR), which is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Extensive information concerning its ownership and activities is available on line for any interested party. However, I am pleased to read its credits into the record of this House.

PowerSecure is widely held with no single controlling shareholder. Headquartered in Wake Forest, North Carolina, it has total assets of $265 million, shareholders’ equity of $157 million, trailing twelve month revenues of $283 million (to 31st March 2015) and market capitalisation of $318 million (11th May 2015). It has grown considerably over the last several years, posting on average over a 25% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). In addition, based on its most recent investor presentations last week, it holds a strong contract backlog of $402 million. Indeed, since January 2014, it has announced more than $400 million in new business.

As at 15th March 2015, it was 95% owned by institutional and mutual fund owners. The company’s largest shareholder is Wellington Management Company, an investment manager with $900 billion under management. Other notable shareholders include Dimensional Fund Advisors, SRB Management, Blackrock Fund Advisors, Vanguard Group, AWM Investment Company, Becker Drapkin Management and other major, primarily US-based institutions and funds.

PowerSecure’s 33-year energy veteran and Founder, Mr. Sidney Hinton, serves as its President and CEO. Prior to establishing PowerSecure he worked for Carolina Power & Light (now Progress Energy), Southern Company and Georgia Power Company. Under his leadership at PowerSecure, close to 1,000 employees across the United States operate and maintain approximately 1 GW of Distributed Generation capacity. It reported 98.4% reliability for these systems in 2014, which is one of the best in the industry. Its three-prong operations take in Utility Services (engineering and infrastructure solutions), Power Generation (distributed energy and solar installation and management) and Energy Efficiency (including production of its own LED lighting systems). The company serves many of the largest utilities in the United States.

PowerSecure specialises in Utility Scale Solar Power through its subsidiary PowerSecure Solar; and has provided both solar and storm hardening services to multiple utility customers. Of particular note is its efficient mobilisation of resources for every named storm in the US in the last 5 years. As recently as January this year, it mobilised utility support during the severe weather and snowstorms in the Northern United States. It also performs rate and cost of service analysis studies, and an entire array of system studies using the latest technology. It has completed hundreds of projects for utilities, industrial and government organisations, and other specialty clients.

Mr. Speaker
The company’s PowerServices and generation group has a team of managers with significant Investor Owned, Co-operative and Municipal Utility managerial experience, as utility directors, senior engineers, and senior VPs of engineering. PowerServices provides traditional electrical engineering services to electric utility clients and others. This Government has never questioned the qualification and capability of BEC’s management and staff. We are keenly aware of their material challenges. With this in view, we are confident that the PowerSecure team, in consultation with experienced engineers at BEC, will collaborate effectively to plan, design, procure, and construct generation, transmission, distribution, substation projects, and utility communication projects for the New BEC.

PowerSecure’s Utility Engineering division provides engineering, project and construction management, and quality control services for turnkey design/build (EPC) utility infrastructure projects, along with testing and commissioning for an array of power delivery and SmartGrid systems. Its team has completed projects for private and public entities, including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, NASA, and both large and small industrial clients and utilities.

Mr. Speaker
The selection of the new manager is the primary step in the overall restructuring of BEC and reform of the energy sector. We have now turned our attention to the next steps, which include the finalisation of the management contract with PowerSecure. At the same time, we are in the process of establishing a Transition Committee as per the agreement. This Committee will consist of well-versed business and technical persons. The Business Plan will be a Contractual document once approved by the Board of the New BEC and the quantum of the Management Fees will be tied to meeting the targets set out in the Business Plan. The Task Force is also in the process of considering and recommending on several robust proposals submitted by world class Banks to raise monies by way of Rate Reduction Bonds. In the near future we also expect to enter into a Rate Reduction Bond mandate with a preferred bank(s) for the refinancing of the legacy liabilities, without a Government Guarantee as well as providing monies for the working capital and other needs of the New BEC.

At the satisfaction of these requirements, Government will table legislation to establish the New BEC, transferring the operating assets and certain liabilities from the existing BEC to this new company. That legislation will establish a completely new and non-partisan Board to oversee the management contract and operation of New BEC.

With its credits, the Government of The Bahamas is satisfied that PowerSecure has the technical, operational and financial capacity required to manage the New BEC.

Mr. Speaker
We sincerely thank those bidders that were not selected for their broad engagement, contribution to the process, professionalism and patient tolerance of the process. We especially thank our technical and financial advisors, and the Government Task Force, who have all undertaken extensive due diligence on the existing financial and operational conditions at BEC, the various bidders and all of the options put forward by those bidders.

With confidence, we now look forward to the establishment of the New BEC under the supervision of PowerSecure. As promised, we are well on the way to delivering to our constituents a 100% Bahamian owned, world class electrical utility, offering its customers affordable and reliable power, and a tremendously improved customer service.

As the transition unfolds, I commit to bringing further updates to this House. In the meantime, we encourage all stakeholders to remain steadfast in their work toward the goal of more efficient, more reliable service at a more cost effective rate.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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THE WORK OF THE MISSIONS ABROAD

05/17/15 2:00 PM

NEW YORK: The Hon. Forrester J. Carroll, Bahamas Consul General to New York, attended the memorial service for Jonathan Melchizedek Kemp at St Phillips Church, Harlem, New York, on Monday, May 11, 2015. Kemp, better known as “Johnny Kemp,” was a world-renowned entertainer with the smash hit “Just Got Paid,” which made it to number one on the Billboard charts. Born in Nassau and raised in Freeport, Kemp began his career at a young age and was already a national star before he moved on to New York and became an international sensation, spreading a message of Love and Bahamian Pride everywhere he went. Kemp is survived by his wife Deirdre Fisher-Kemp, and two sons, Jason and Jared. Pictured from left to right; Timmy Allen, band member and life-long friend; Cordell Cleare, Chief of Staff, Senator Perkins Office;  Pastor Percy Kemp, brother; Michael Kemp, brother; Patty Kemp-Grossman; Anthony Pratt, Bahamian American Association;  Bishop Sobig Kemp, brother; and Consul General Carroll

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NEW YORK – Mr. Edward Kraftmann, Founder and Co-CEO, Ms. Ronit Tehrani, Founder and Co-CEO, and Mr. Jonathan Krause, Chief Financial Officer of SO2Speak.org, paid a courtesy call to the Hon. Forrester J. Carroll, Bahamas Consul General to New York, on Thursday, May 7, 2015, at Bahama House, 231 East 46th Street.  So2Speak.org is a non-profit organization that combines speech with education in order to empower tomorrow’s leaders. This rapidly growing organization engages the community and students to become more active participants in their academic, personal and social growth. The executive board is now branching out and hoping to establish a connection with The Bahamas. Pictured from left to right are Mr. Kraftmann, Ms. Tehrani, Consul General Carroll, and Mr. Krause.

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TUNE IN TO CANNES FILM FESTIVAL WITH TRAVOLTA

05/17/15 2:00 PM

image013The 68th annual Cannes Film Festival (Le Festival International du Film de Cannes) is underway and The Bahamas Weekly is excited to announce that Bahamas’ very own, Travolta Cooper, filmmaker of BLACK MOSES and founder of #TheCinemas is on location and will be providing updates over the course of the festival!

One of the most prestigious and publicised film festivals in the world, and held in Cannes, France, the event previews new films of all genres, including documentaries from around the world, and was founded in 1946. The 2015 festival poster features Hollywood star and Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, photographed by David Seymour.

We will be hearing from Travolta very soon, so stay tuned! His recent message (in reference to this graphic) is, “We’re producing a ‘Video Diary’ series of The Cinemas – Cannes 2015 – and we’re working with Tempo, TheBahamasWeekly.com, and our social media pages in getting them out to you. Please follow us IG @thecinemas and like our Facebook page #‎ TheCinemas

The Cinemas is the brainchild of its host, Bahamian writer, director, and producer Travolta Cooper, who began the show as a result of an endorsement deal with The Bahamas’ movie theater chain. At heart, The Cinemas is designed to promote and encourage the new wave of Caribbean Cinema happening in the Region and around the world. The show consists of movie reviews and interviews with a Caribbean twist.

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BRADLEY CONGRATULATES THE PLP ON THE CARNIVAL

05/17/15 2:00 PM

 12th May 2015

Cultural tourism continues to dominate the resurgence of the Bahamian tourism product as it embellishes the international brand of The Bahamas as a preferred destination. For this the Progressive Liberal Party congratulates Prime Minister Christie and his government for their vision, leadership and focus in making Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival 2015 a smashing success.

Obviously the world was literally watching as The Bahamas took to the world stage in a colouful display of our rich cultural heritage in a spirit of unity and national pride. The Bahamian people demonstrated that they are the greatest fans in the world and are to be commended and thanked for their continued support for and ownership of all things Bahamian. 

I am advised that CARICOM Minister after CARICOM Minister saluted Prime Minister Christie in Martinique this past Saturday on the great success of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival. 

Special thanks to the organizing committee and the commissioners under the chairmanship of Paul Major for the many man hours of hard work and the many sleepless nights all in the name of public service. 

I further commend the more than five hundred entertainers whose talents drove this entire celebratory event. They liberally and joyfully shared of their time and talents in the name of national development. The masters and legends are all winners in my book. 

As for the doomsday prophets, preachers of gloom and doom, armchair critics, the know-it-all crew and the naysayers, I invite all of them to once again eat crow and to do so liberally because they all had selfish hidden agendas and their tirades had absolutely nothing to do with advancing Bahamian culture, empowering Bahamians or stimulating our local economy. They were all betting against the Bahamian people and they all lost. 

As for Dr. Minnis, that poor hapless fellow, he is again on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of the national discussion on culture regarding its integration into the national economy. Minnis is on record as saying that at the first opportunity, the FNM “WILL DISCONTINUE CARNIVAL!”  Minnis is hell bent on foisting the disastrous policy of “STOP, REVIEW AND CANCEL” on Junkanoo Carnival if given the opportunity by the Bahamian people. After three years as opposition leader, he remains a very risky proposition and a lost soul still unable to get out of his own way. 

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Branville McCartney: The DNA Leader And His Boys

05/17/15 2:00 PM

DNA Leader enjoying the Carnival.  That’s the man we remember, fun loving, having a good time and hanging out with the fellows.  Good sense of humour.  This was taken at the Carnival on the evening of Thursday 7th May and posted the next day.  He was obviously having a good time.  ZNS even interviewed him and he told them he was having a good time.  Next day though he was in the press saying that while he thought it was good party, the PLP had to do more than throw a good party .  Hmmm!  You just can’t win with some people.

 

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Ray Munnings Sings Funky Nassau With His Son

05/17/15 2:00 PM

The song Funky Nassau was released in 1971 earning the group called the Beginning of The End a gold record and millions of plays round the world.  The group was essentially made up of the Munnings brothers and cousins.   Ray himself was the son of the late legendary Freddie Munnings and he co-wrote the song with his cousin the late Tyrone Fitzgerald aka Dr. Offff.  The crowd loved it when at the Carnival on Thursday 7th May, Ray did a reprise of the song with his son Raphael Jr.

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THE RABIDLY ANTI PLP NASSAU GUARDIAN

05/17/15 2:00 PM

image016The Nassau Guardian has become so irrationally anti PLP that you can never wonder what is going to be found in their columns.  It was so bad  on 11th May that Bradley Roberts, the PLP’s Chair felt compelled to issue this statement.  What continues to concern us is that with the thousands of people benefitting from the PLP and its governance, not one independent voice seems to rise up and denounce this biased behavior on the part of the Nassau Guardian and the unethical conduct of some of its reporters.

See the statement below: 

I refer to the 11th May 2015 editorial of the Nassau Guardian. While the editor is entitled to his or her opinion, the reasoning must be based on empirical data if it is to have a semblance of credibility. Additionally, the editorial content must be accurate but needless to say, the editorial on this day failed the litmus test on both counts.   

As much as the editor wants to deflect from the successful implementation of the government’s fiscal consolidation plan, the fiscal reform policy of the PLP government was a success and prevented the country from further downgrades of its credit ratings which has serious implications for the country’s economy, especially investment. Given the deep black hole the FNM government left the country in, the success of the entire economic recovery of The Bahamas is predicated in large part on fiscal reform as the government sits at the center of the macro-economic cycle; fiscal reform was a game changer for the country. The facts of the matter are that fiscal reform was necessary, the FNM government lacked the political will and strength of leadership to make that tough policy call and the PLP did. The PLP government must take full credit for saving the economy after the FNM tried to sink it. Further, contrary to the editor’s assertion, the evidence is clear that the PLP did in fact campaign on fiscal reform and delivered on it – just read page 58-59 of the PLP’s “A charter for governance.” 

For the edification of the reading public, the Guardian’s editorial argued that sure, fiscal reform was necessary and the PLP did successfully implement both fiscal and tax reform but the PLP government cannot take any credit for the success of the policy because they did not campaign on it. Not so. The evidence shows otherwise and once inaccuracies can be identified in the Guardian’s editorial, the entire editorial collapses because it cannot be seen as credible. 

The editorial claimed that the PLP government failed to get back the two percent or “an outright majority stake” in BTC. This assertion is also inaccurate. The PLP government did secure the additional 2% stake in BTC and did so at no additional cost to the Bahamian people even in the face of criticism from many critics, including the editorial board of the Nassau Guardian who repeatedly and slavishly carried forth the FNM talking point that Prime Minister Christie was on a fool’s errand, meaning his quest to secure the additional 2% stake in BTC was an impossible task and that he should quit. Having succeeded to the chagrin of his critics, they simply moved the goal post again to satisfy their pre conceived notion of failure even before the policy was pursued. As for operational control of BTC, this is a redundant point because the PLP never intended for the government to assume operational control of BTC, a policy the government of The Bahamas abandoned as far back as 1998. 

 Since this claim is also inaccurate, the entire editorial comes off as an extreme and biased tirade against the PLP government that lacks credibility.

 “Three years on, help and hope are nowhere to be seen” was the editorial headline, but the editor’s perspective on jobs creation was particularly interesting and I would be remiss if I do not comment. 

  In May of 2012, the PLP inherited a labour market where unemployment had increased by an average annual rate of 20%, which means that unemployment doubled in five years on the watch of the FNM government. There was no criticism of the FNM government by the editorial board of the Guardian, only the excuse that the recession was at fault and not the failed policies of Hubert Ingraham and the FNM. They saw and heard Ingraham try to destroy that Baha Mar project, the only game in town, but not one word from the Guardian’s editorial board. The FNM failed to attract any substantive projects, but mum was the word. They saw the deleterious impact of “stop, review and cancel” but not one word. They saw the bungled New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP) that caused businesses to close and massive job losses but not one word beyond blaming the recession. It is clear that none of those poor decisions by the FNM had anything to do with the recession, but never let the truth get in the way of a good story. 

The PLP inherited this mess in 2012 and by November 2014, the economy added more than 8,800 jobs under the watch of the PLP. Additionally the Lyford House Hotel opens today; Baha Mar is about to open in months; the Nassau Resort and Quality Inn on Bay Street are being refurbished; the Sarmiento group is about to broke ground in South Eleuthera; Baker’s Bay in Abaco is expanding; work has begun on the Hilton Hotel refurbishment in addition to a new hotel, marina village and board walk and after much negotiations and hard work, the cruise ship port for Williams Town in Grand Bahama is imminent. 

The editorial board of the Nassau Guardian is well aware of these projects and the hard Prime Minister Christie is doing on behalf of the Bahamian people but tells the Bahamian people and the world that help and hope are nowhere to be found. Statistical data reveal over and repeatedly that reduction in the discouraged worker category is proof positive that Bahamians are hopeful and increasingly optimistic about the country’s economic turnaround and future prospects but never let the truth get in the way of a good slimy misleading story. 

Basically the editor decided ahead of time that nothing the PLP did in its first three years was successful, only to craft arguments after the fact to meet his or her biased preconceived notion.
The editorial board of the Nassau Guardian should carry on smartly.

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Weighs In On Carnival

05/17/15 2:00 PM

Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival is over, and it was a rip-roaring success. As happened in Grand Bahama, in Nassau thousands and thousands of people thronged the festival site, hungry for the new experience, and for the first time ever The Bahamas entered the twenty-first century world of festivals, productions and events.

For the first time ever, too, the government of The Bahamas understood and supported the need for real economic investment in bringing something like this off; the committee that was appointed brought local financial and production expertise to the table and ensured that the execution of the event would be top-class; Bahamians and international performers were hosted on the same stage and that stage was beamed to the world; and at long, long last the Fort Charlotte/Arawak Cay arena has been turned into the kind of festival village that has long been dreamed about.

Throughout the world, the twenty-first century has brought with it a hunger for the festival experience, and, together with tourism, the cultural economy is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. To say we have been slow to capitalize on that is to understate the reality. There are many festivals throughout The Bahamas. They have been happening for years, but none of them have been able to tap into the global economy the way Junkanoo Carnival was able to for many reasons. They are run like petty shops; they are overly politicized; they rely too much on government handouts rather than focusing on economic generation; they are poorly advertised; they are treated like backyard get-togethers rather than businesses. This homecoming culture, as one might call it, has not taken advantage of any of the things that the twenty-first century has to offer with regard to linking culture and tourism and participating wholly in the global cultural economy. Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival has changed that game entirely.

In the months leading up to this event, many people asked me for my opinion of Junkanoo Carnival, and wondered if I would speak publicly and critically about it. I did not. I didn’t join the chorus of people criticizing the concept for the simple reason that I fundamentally agree with the need—economically and socially—to shift the government’s focus and investment from old, mid-twentieth century economic activity to the cultural industries. I fought for an event like this when I served as Director of Culture. The festival model that was put in place here is in many ways a mirror image the festival model that was put forward by Keith Nurse in 2004 when he was engaged to lead a task force on the transformation of CARIFESTA. It’s something you will hear me talk about if you download and listen to the podcasts on CARIFESTA, which were produced back in 2008 when we were hosting and not-hosting the festival. Those of us who fought for the inauguration of a festival culture in The Bahamas have all been vindicated. I could not oppose what I fundamentally support.

But I have always resisted the linking of this transition from homecoming culture to festival culture with the name and form of Carnival. I have always believed, and continue to believe, that we missed a major, major opportunity to put the whole of Bahamian culture squarely on the world stage by choosing to make our mega-festival in the image of the Trinidad carnival rather than studying the ways in which Carnival were monetized and working out how we could do that with Junkanoo.

I am not convinced by many of the reasons spouted to justify spending money to bring in Trinidadian consultants to produce a cookie-cutter event. No one has yet explained to me to my satisfaction why it was necessary to import a Trini-style Carnival (when we could have turned to Brazil, whose Carnival is even bigger and more lucrative than Trinidad’s, and whose production is far closer than to what exists in Junkanoo today) rather than investing in the time and energy required to make Junkanoo the centre of the experience. Now I have worked with Junkanoo for almost all of my adult life, and I know as well as anyone who has done so how unbelievably difficult it is to work with the Junkanoo community; how obstructive that community can be; how unreasonably protective they are of their vision of Junkanoo; how ignorant many of them are of the history and significance of what they do; how petty their differences; how slow they are to change. Any one of these arguments would have brought agreement from me; but I still would have demanded that the new festival at least consider ways in which our own aesthetic and traditions could be honoured, rather than supplanted by those of another territory. But the ease with which our leaders were able simply to import a ready-made festival was troubling, to say the least.

The whole process behind this festival revealed, once again, how deeply people who sit in positions of authority in our country distrust what is ours, how ready we are to push aside what is vibrant and indigenous when it is unformed and messy in honour of what is foreign and nicely packaged. What we did with the festival itself is akin to what we do with our houses, our fruit, and, in general, our national development. We build Florida boxes that hug the ground, have no cross-ventilation, and which bake in the heat and flood in the rains, when we have a perfectly good vernacular architecture that developed to handle our environment. We buy mangoes and avocadoes and bananas and oranges with “Dole” and “Sunkist” and other US stickers on them when the same fruit are growing in our back yards and on our islands; and we have come to regard the solution to all of our local issues as being the outsourcing the problem area to the most convenient foreign direct investor.

Countries don’t grow by outsourcing. Corporations may do so, but citizens are not commodities. And cultural expressions are not interchangeable. What is most troubling about the whole exercise is the narrative that has emerged, that local expressions of culture cannot be monetized, that Junkanoo cannot be improved, that Junkanoo has “served its purpose” and needs to move over to make room for Carnival. This discussion, this argument, which I have seen flourish on Facebook in too many places to be believed, is part of the reason I am weighing in on this now, after the fact.

Let me be quite clear here. I do not believe for one moment that the reason this weekend was successful was because we were celebrating Carnival and not Junkanoo. The greatest success took place at Da Cultural Village. Even though many people took part in, and enjoyed, the Road Fever, the real achievement lay in the hosting, the production, and the presentation of the concerts on Fort Charlotte and Arawak Cay. The real value of the mega-festival lay in the promotion of Bahamian music, and in the development of our event management skills. It was connected also to the recognition/admission/understanding, at long last, that we exist as part of a wider pan-Caribbean world and that our music has a place alongside it on the global stage. The success that was achieved lay in the marriage of industrial standard production values—and international-style expenditure to achieve those values—rather than in any shift to the celebration of Carnival. Let us keep that in mind as we carry this discussion forward.

But let me be equally clear. The most disturbing thing that has come out of the weekend has been the fact that we have now set the carnival in opposition to what is ours—and that to do so, we have spouted the most arrant nonsense about carnival, Junkanoo, and what they mean to us. I have seen people try to argue that Carnival and Junkanoo are basically the same thing. I have seen people suggest that for us to move on from Junkanoo to Carnival is some sort of inevitable cultural evolution, in complete ignorance of the cultural evolution that has got Junkanoo to where it is today. Rather than incorporating the Carnival as a celebration of our Caribbean connections, which we could have done to the same effect, we have set up an opposition that pits Junkanoo against Carnival.

Finally, one last concern. Much has been made of the fact that a study that I oversaw has found that Junkanoo does not turn a profit. People who have never looked at that study, who have clearly never even heard me explain what that study did and showed have been all over the airwaves using that study to justify why we should invest in Carnival and not in Junkanoo. We have bought into the idea that Carnival is an economic engine for development and Junkanoo is a drain on the public purse. I will go into far more detail about that study in a later post, but let me just say this: Carnival could not have happened the way it did this year without the participation of the Junkanoo community; their artistic and costuming expertise was hard at work in many of the Carnival companies. Many designers and builders participated in Carnival as a means of making money out of the event, as a means of turning what they do every year for love and the nourishing of their spirits into a means of making a living because they have not been afforded the opportunity to make that living out of Junkanoo. Whether Carnival offered them the economic returns that it promised has yet to be determined. For me, the real value of this event will lie in its ability not only to allow at long last the chance for musicians, dancers and producers to make a living doing what they love, but also to bolster the growth of Junkanoo, a festival that we Bahamians have already developed. And that success still remains to be seen.

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Letters to the editor

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In passing

PATRICK ROBINSON CENSORS BAHAMASUNCENSORED-’- WHAT A CRUEL JOKE

05/17/15 8:03 PM

THE HYPOCRISY WITH JUNKANOO CARNIVAL – So here’s something to ponder on for a bit. We posted an article today at 2pm titled: Branville McCartney: The DNA Leader And His Boys. It included the DNA leader and a couple of his friends having a good time at Junkanoo Carnival. No big deal right? The DNA Leader obviously supports the event and so we would believe the same for his friends pictured smiling there along with him. Not so!

Around 6:30pm we got this facebook message from Patrick Terrence Robinson who was one of the men in the photo that we, by all indications thought was having a good time.

Patrick_Robinson2

First thought was why all the fuss about the photo? Then we took a look at his profile page on facebook page and saw the reason. Oops. Sorry mate, never meant to rat you out like that.  We took it down but that joke’s on you.

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Mizpah Tertuellien Dies

05/17/15 5:50 PM

The Bahamas Bar Association announced on 15th May the death of former Senator Mizpah Tertuellien.  She was called to the bar in 1988. She was one of the participants of the Philosophy Club with Susan Wallace and  Dr. Cleveland Eneas.  Later she went on to serve in the Pindling Administration in the Senate.  She gave intellectual voice to a grass roots party during the Pindling era.  Her husband Egbert predeceased her.  Her nephew is the Deputy Director of Prosecutions Franklyn Williams.

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What Is Ian Strachan’s Problem?

05/17/15 2:00 PM

image017The late playwright Winston Saunders used to say about Ian Strachan  that he is  just a troublesome fellow.  He wasn’t wrong about that because just when you think this man has become a mature individual who can play to the mainstream and embrace his ambitions to actually put his hand to some mainstream task and make it work, he lets us down.  The man just likes to complain about everything.  This causes the objective observer to wonder if this  is simply a very unhappy person, an unhappy person about life. He has it all on the face of it: a good job, influence in the society and talent, a family.   So in the face of a generally happy event in The Bahamas, we had this from Professor Strachan, the teacher of our children at the College, soon to be University of The Bahamas about the Junkanoo carnival

On 12 May he posted on Facebook :  “The fundamental idea that black people partyin (sic) half- naked will attract white American tourists by the thousands is gravely flawed.

Later he posted : “How is 100K what you pay Montano? My sources say he and others normally would consider 5-10K US a good pay day. Someone help me understand.”

For the record, the idea is not to get white American tourists to be attracted to half naked black people.  That trivializes a real and genuine attempt to monetize the cultural talents of our people; so that they can make a living equivalent to what he Dr. Strachan gets at the College of The Bahamas that allows him to lambast the effort.   As for the 100k being paid to the Trinidadian artist.  That is simply untrue.

 

 

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Lincoln Bain One Of The Army Of Complainers

05/17/15 2:00 PM

image018Lincoln Bain formerly the television collaborator on  Controversy TV and who is  now a declared FNM candidate for the Pinewood constituency against the PLP’s Khaalis Rolle posted this about the Carnival on his Facebook Page. What is it about being in politics that causes people to write and say things that they cannot possibly mean.  When you look at the success and amazing success of what happened with the Junkanoo Carnival, any intelligent person can see that the thing was a roaring success, whether or not it’s a success in economic terms and we believe that it was. 

The fact is, it was a success with the people.  All the esoteric arguments about  who came from where and whether this was right or the next was right were ignored by the vendors who made money and the people who simply turned out spent their money and danced in the streets.  The thing is, we would pay attention to him  if he at least got his math right but his figures just don’t add up. He started with a false premise about money spent to return per capita. Mr. Bain comes off like Mr. Scrooge. In the face of all the goodwill, he can only say : Bah humbug!  Just for the record though here is what he said:

“This Junkanoo Carnival is now a proven waste of the country’s resources. This is just a grossly over budget concert. There have been many concerts in the Bahamas over the years that have drawn large crowds e.g. Beres Hammond and Byron Lee & the Dragonaires concerts. Yet the promoters of these concerts never spent 9 million to have these concerts. The Government says that 100,000 people will come to their carnival concert. Even if so, at $15 per head that would mean only $1.5 million nowhere near covering or justifying the $9 million spent. The TA Robinson Stadium holds 15,000 people. The area where they are holding the carnival concerts is nowhere near the size of the Stadium. It is not even 5% of the size of the Stadium. So to estimate that 100,000 people will fit in that space over 2 days is completely asinine. Huge Basket Ball Arenas usually seat under 20,000 people eg. MSG holds just over 18,000 and Miami Heat Stadium holds just over 19,000. But for Stadium concerts where there is 180 degree seating as it is at the carnival concert site (only in front of a stage and not 360 degree seating like a game) the seating is about 12,000. The site where these concerts are being held and where the Freeport concert was held are barely as big as one section of those stadiums. So where Bahamian officials are getting their estimates is beyond me.”

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Johnny Kemp’s Memorial In New York

05/17/15 2:00 PM

Obie Pindling, the oldest son of the late Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling, attended the memorial service of his good friend Johnny Kemp, the musician, who died on a beach in Montego Bay on Thursday 16th  April.  The service took place for the star who put The Bahamas on the map with the hit song Just Got Paid on  Monday 11th May in New York city.  The pictures show the church service with his brother Rev. Sobig Kemp at the pulpit and Mr. Pindling with Pearl Wong, daughter of Jack Wong of Freeport and Mrs. Diane Bowe Pindling.   The memorial service for Mr. Kemp was held at the Jubilee Cathedral in Freeport and his body was interred in the city’s cemetery on Saturday 16th May.

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Mitchell In Qatar

05/17/15 2:00 PM

Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell is shown in a bi-lateral with Turkey in the margins of the Doha Economic Forum.  He met with Ambassador to Qatar for Turkey Ahmet Demirok on 13th May.  They discussed joint Caricom representation in Istanbul and the appointment of an Honorary Consul for The Bahamas in Turkey and for Turkey in the Bahamas. The Minister was there in Doha for 15th annual Doha Economic Forum sponsored by government of Qatar.

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Caricom On Guyana

05/17/15 1:58 PM

The CARICOM Election Observer Mission to the election in Guyana on  Monday 11th May is seen  holding a post-election-day review.   The elections were pronounced generally free and fair.  Only problem is it took more than 72 hours before a result was declared.  This led to some tension in the society and violence.  Both sides claimed victory and the former President of the United States Jimmy Carter who was an observer of the elections called on the Electoral Commission to announce the results.  The delay is similar to that which transpired in St Kitts and caused unnecessary confusion. The Mission, in an Interim Statement, said that the voting process was transparent, free and fair, and that the secrecy of the ballot was protected and respected.

 

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The Guyana Elections Commission

05/17/15 1:58 PM

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Guyana’s new president David Granger displays his inked finger after voting. Photograph: Adrian Narine/AP

Former Opposition leader David Granger was sworn in Saturday 16 May as Guyana’s new President succeeding the outgoing Donald Ramotar.

GECOM, Georgetown, May 15, 2015 – The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is quite aware of the anxiety that prevails at this time in relation to the final declaration of the 2015 elections results. GECOM wishes to inform the public that it shares that anxiety but is constrained by the legal requirements, which it has to observe.

 Relative to the process of declaring the results, those results have now been declared by the respective Returning Officers for the ten Electoral Districts. However, parties may raise objections by midday of the day after the last of the ten declarations.

 For that reason, since the last declaration was made this morning, Friday May 15, 2015, the Commission has to wait until noon on Saturday May 16, 2015 before it can pronounce on a final declaration. This is the law.

The Commission is therefore asking the public to bear with it until midday of Saturday May 16, 2015, before it advises on the next stage of the declaration of results.

 

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You Say And I Say Over Alfred Gray Case

05/17/15 1:58 PM

It would useful we think if on this matter the PLP has as little to say about this issue. The FNM has an interest in keeping it alive.  What interest does the PLP have?   Discussing feeds into the FNM’s narrative and their strategy of death by a thousand cuts.  Let’s be done with it.  Carl Bethel claims that the PLP is suppressing the truth about the Alfred Gray matter, saying that  conflicting evidence should be put to a jury and not decided by the Attorney General.  Minister of State Damien Gomez said that the Administrator Zephaniah Newbold, who alleged that Mr. Gray threatened him couldn’t remember what Mr. Gray had said and had the office proceeded Mr. Gray would have succeeded on a  no case submission.  That didn’t stop Michael Pintard FNM Chair form coming back and saying he didn’t give a hoot, Mr. Gray ought to go.  Point then is why we should keep talking about it. The PLPs line is this: the Attorney General has a complete discretion to decide these matters. She did and that is the end to the matter.

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Julian Believe

05/17/15 1:58 PM

This is a talented young man  whose proper name is Julien Thompson and he calls himself Julian Believe.  This collaboration is with the Trinidadian performer Bunji Garlin.

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Omar Archer: The Musings Of A Natural Ass

05/17/15 1:58 PM

Omar Archer thinks of himself as a hero.  He is losing whatever sense he had before he jumped out of the window of the magistrate’s court.  We reported last week that this man who specializes in a crazy kind of politics where he defames criminally PLP and public figures opposed to the FNM in an attempt to escape from the police jumped out of the window of the Magistrates Court and ended breaking both his legs.  He actually confirmed the story on video which he circulated with him laying up in bed in hospital. 

Mr. Archer  claims that he has sacrificed much for the cause and the broken legs is the price he has to pay for the cause.   What cause?  He has none save the political lunacy in which he is engaged.  A stupid guy, bordering on politically insane, thinks he has a cause. 

He said he was grateful for all the support he got.  We say again,  he cannot even get it right when it comes to jumping out the window.  He’s trying to break his neck not his legs.  Oh Lord how long?

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Nicolette Bethel Weighs In On Carnival

05/17/15 1:58 PM

Nicolette_BethelThe former Director of Culture and daughter of cultural icons E Clement and Keva Bethel  weighed in on the Carnival on her Facebook page.  Not being quizzical like Dr. Ian Strachan ( see comment on this site) she seemed to take a middle road which is yes it was successful but that we have allowed ourselves to do was dilute Junkanoo which we invented and nurtured in favour of Carnival which we borrowed from Trinidad. 

Perhaps Dr. Bethel but we do not believe that Junkanoo can be destroyed so easily.   We didn’t discard it.  The leading Junkanoo aficionados Winston “ Gus “ Cooper and Percy “ Vola “ Francis designed what you see here. 

The Carnival is Junkanoo.  It is the economically sustainable version of it.  What about that don’t we get. 

You may click here for her full statement.

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Immigration Act Comes Into Force

05/17/15 1:58 PM

image025Nassau, Bahamas – The following is a statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs & Immigration on the coming into force of the new Immigration Amendment Bill:

I am pleased to announce that following the assent by the Governor General on Friday 8th May, the Immigration Amendment Act 2015 and the regulations made thereunder come into force today. This is a pleasing development and one which will strengthen the hand of the Department of Immigration as it seeks to stem the tide of unlawful migration in The Bahamas.

The Act will amongst other things provide for stiffer penalties for illegal landing, for harbouring illegal migrants and for making attempts to leave this country to be smuggled into another country. The Act will also make it an offence to enter into a fraudulent marriage and will strengthen the powers of arrest of Immigration Officers.

It creates for the first time an Immigration Reserve, patterned after the Police Reserves. It will be established in the next fiscal year and in the first instance in islands that have, at present, no immigration presence. An announcement will be made shortly on when recruitment can be expected for the reserve.

The Act also creates an immigration status known as a Belonger’s Permit to be issued to those who are born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents and who are lawfully in The Bahamas. The fee for this is 125 dollars.

The public is reminded that everyone who lives and works in The Bahamas should have evidence of that right to live and work here. This includes non-national students. It includes those children born of non-national parents in The Bahamas.

I thank the public for its continued support of all of the measures that have been taken so far and those to come to try to manage the problem of illegal migration

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Franklyn Wilson Sets The Record Straight

05/17/15 1:58 PM

image031Yes sir we agree with Franklyn Wilson, Chairman of Arawak Homes, who spoke to The Tribune about the state of The Bahamas and of governance and of business here.  Summed it up perfectly in the interview published in The Tribune on Friday 16th May:

“The fact of the matter is there are so many signs in this country which point to very significant, positive progress, and which are being missed in the public dialogue by what I call ‘death by a thousand cuts of complaining’

“None of the issues provoking the complaints was significant in the grand scheme of things. The things dominating the headlines today have not a Christ thing to do with sustainable development in the country.”

 

The issues dominating the media and public discussion may be important to some ideologues and persons obsessed with topics such as transparency, but they are not going to make a difference” to the Bahamas’ wider economic and social issues.

 

 “None of that has anything to do with investing in this country. None of that has anything to do with sustainable development in this country.”.

 

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Michael Misick Accuses The British Of Rigged Justice

05/17/15 1:58 PM

michael-misick-arrest-warrant-interpolFormer Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick challenged his trial by the British all the way up to the Privy Council.  His appeal as dismissed.  Here is what he had to say in response to it.

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands  – ( Press Statement from Former Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Michael Misick and other named defendants in the May 11th, 2015 Privy Council Appeal.)  We note that the British Privy Council has dismissed our appeal which was brought to ensure that there is judicial independence in the Turks and Caicos Islands as there is in mainland Britain. They have also dismissed our appeal to ensure that we are able to have a fair trial as is the case in Britain; that is, a jury trial. 
What these two decisions revealed is that the British judicial system is rigged against us from top down. The same system that is responsible for the appointment of judges in Turks and Caicos Islands is also responsible for the appointment of judges at the Privy Council. Clearly, today ranks were closed to protect the establishment. We are disappointed by the decision and we think that it continues to be a miscarriage of justice for a powerful state like the UK to continue to politically persecute a few local island politicians because they seek political independence from Britain. We seek the same autonomy over our country as the Conservatives seek for Britain from the European Union.

It remains our position that these corruption cases are nothing more than a political witch-hunt that was carefully designed and orchestrated by the British establishment to destroy and discredit local politicians and their families and associates, while allowing wealthy white developers and other individuals who were implicated in the Commission of Inquiry and/or were previously charged, to pay their way in order to avoid justice.

Even an independent fact-finding mission appointed by CARICOM was critical of the manner in which these investigations and trials have been conducted.

There is absolutely no way that any of the defendants can receive a fair trial when the system in Britain is working strongly against us. Many of the defendants in this case do not have Queen’s Counsel, simply because respected defence lawyers from the UK have withdrawn their services because they were not paid adequately or in a timely manner, and also because Special Prosecutor Helen Garlick and her Special Investigation and Prosecution Team significantly increased the number of pages of evidence given to the defence lawyers, but the system has refused to increase the payment for the said defence lawyers to match this increased work-load. It is now over 102,000 pages of evidence and over 500,000 pages of unused material which they have still yet to disclose when we are supposed to be only 6 months from trial.

While the SIPT lawyers and prosecutors such as Andrew Mitchell, QC, are paid millions of dollars in British pounds, the defence lawyers from the UK are paid in US dollars and then they are highly taxed in accordance with English law.

All of this strikes at the heart of equality of arms, which is supposed to be the bedrock of justice systems all around the world. How can we get a fair trial in these circumstances, when respected Queen’s Counsel is refusing to take on our cases?

But we will continue our fight for justice and our freedom and that of our country and reveal the blatant injustices for the world to see.

While we are disappointed with today’s decision, we are resolved to press on. To this end, we have filed a challenge to the new appointment of Judge Paul Harrison on the grounds that it is unlawful for him to be appointed retrospectively and for him to be appointed as a special tribunal.

We have also since Monday filed an appeal to our earlier challenge to Justice Harrison on the basis that he has reached the retirement age of 70 and as prescribed by the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution it is therefore unconstitutional for him to be appointed at age 78 as a judge of the Turks and Caicos Supreme Court.

In addition to these two challenges, we have some months ago appealed the decision of Justice Harrison not to recuse himself as the trial judge in this matter because he is conflicted as the Chairman of the Jamaican Integrity Commission and he has publicly expressed views that mirror the facts in our case. Based on his public statements, it will be exceedingly difficult for Justice Harrison to judge us fairly and dispassionately, therefore, he should have done the honorable thing and removed himself from this case when we applied for him to do so.

We would like to thank our family, friends and well-wishers for their continued support and encouragement as we endure some of the toughest days of our lives in fighting for justice from one of the world’s strongest Empires, with diabolical dealings throughout centuries of its history.

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Ricardo Smith Says

05/17/15 1:58 PM

image026Ricardo Smith who posts comments from time to time on the web and was a PLP activist during the last campaign had this to say on his Facebook page as he responded to the FNM and their criticism of the decision of the Attorney General not to bring charges against the PLP Minister Alfred Gray.  Last week, the Chair of the FNM Michael Pintard said he was going to seek judicial review of the AG’s decision.  No doubt he has his head filled up with stupidity on the point by Mr. Judicial Review himself Fred Smith Q C.  There can be no Judicial Review of the absolute power of the Attorney General. The case law is clear.  Wasting time.  Then  the Leader of The Opposition weighed in to say he did not  accept the decisions.  We think that Mr. Smith is right to remind them of the decision to let a man with the last name of Mosko go who had been charged with murder under the FNM, shot a black man in the back and killed him. The FNM’s Attorney General simply let him go.  Here is what Mr. Smith says and we agree:


Whenever Hubert A. Minnis says the name Gray we must say Mosko!!! When they say Gray we say Mosko!!

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A Mother’s Day With The Williams Sisters

05/17/15 1:58 PM

The Williams sisters are favourites in this column and all their offspring.  Mother’s Day was last week on  10th May.  The sisters posed with their offspring to mark the day,  Another happy photo and Happy Mother’s Day to Elaine Williams Pinder, second from left, back row; Sharon Williams Stuart ( centre front); her husband Rev. Timothy Stuart is at the far left of the picture; sister Ronnie Williams McIver to the left of Sharon  and Albertha Williams Bartlett, second right.  Missing are Daphne, Ethelyn and Jan. 

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Mitchell In Qatar 13th May

05/17/15 1:58 PM

Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell is pictured in a bi lateral with Turkey’s. Ambassador to Qatar Ahmet Demirok. The discussion was on a possible joint Caricom representation in Istanbul and appointment of Honorary Consul for Bahamas in Turkey and for Turkey in The Bahamas. Minister there for 15th annual Doha Economic Forum sponsored by the government of Qatar.

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Clay Sweeting’s New Baby

05/17/15 1:58 PM

These modern couples these days put all their business on the web.  It’s the fashion.  No more secrets.  The baby was announced to the world, fresh from the womb by his proud father Clay Sweeting the  Deputy Chair of the Bahamas Agricultural Industrial Corporation.  He said of his wife Delia: she is s trooper.  Congratulations to the couple on the birth of their new son Davin Glen Sweeting on 13th May.

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Mitchell Hosted By The Japanese In Qatar

05/17/15 1:58 PM

Presentations by Fred Mitchell, Foreign Minister of The Bahamas to Dr. Kazuyuki Hamada member Japanese House Of Councilors the upper house and Shingo Tsuda, Ambassador Japan to Qatar, following a dinner hosted by the ambassador in Doha.  Mr. Mitchell presented books on the Commonwealth of The Bahamas as mementos of The Bahamas and in appreciation for the dinner hosted by the Ambassador for the third year in a row.

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Leslie Miller On The PLP

05/17/15 1:58 PM

lmillerThe Freeport News reported on Friday 15th May that Leslie Miller, the PLP MP and outgoing Chair of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, has indicated that he will run as an independent if he does not get a nomination from the PLP in the next election.  Mr. Miller has been expressing unhappiness about the failure to execute people who are convicted for murder and the press thought that his views might cause him to lose his nomination.  He lost his son in 2002 to a murder.  He has been voicing the popular concern that not enough is being done to cause executions to take place including letting the Privy Council go as the final Court of Appeal.

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Congratulations Sister Annie

05/17/15 1:58 PM

image030Sister Annie Thompson School renamed St  Bede’s pre school

The former St. Bede’s Catholic Primary School has undergone a name change to become the Sister Annie Thompson Pre-School, which honors well-known Nun and Educator, Sister Annie Thompson. During the official ceremony held on the school grounds on Thursday, May 7, Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie said that he deemed it an honor to recognize Sister Annie in this special way.

“Given the rich life that Sister Annie continues to live, I cannot think of one more fitting to bestow this honor upon,” said Mr. Christie. “Sister Annie Thompson has had a positive influence on the lives of so many Bahamians. What many people do not know is that Sister Annie Thompson has a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Education and began teaching in classrooms across the United States during the l960’s.”

Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie officially opened the newly-established Sister Annie Thompson Pre-School on Thursday, May 7. 

Minister of Education, Science and Technology the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald said the new pre-school would play a major role for generations to come.

“The pre-school that is being opened on these grounds, where Sister Annie was principal, is critical to the future of our country,” said Mr. Fitzgerald. “Greater emphasis is being placed to ensure that our children receive the tools and skills necessary to provide them with the foundation needed for their future educational success.”

Annie Eliza Thompson was born in 1933 in Gregory Town, Eleuthera, to parents John Alexander and Muriel Joyce (Johnson) Thompson. She attended university in Albany, New York and became a nun during the l960’s. In l970, she became the Principal of St. Bede’s Roman Catholic School. Sister is an avid sportsman, especially in the game of basketball.

The new government pre-school is located on the compound of the former St. Bede’s Roman Catholic Primary school on Sutton Street off Kemp Road. The state-of-the-art school was established in 2013 after the government purchased the property from the Catholic Board.

 

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PLP Marks Three Years

05/17/15 1:58 PM

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Prime Minister Perry Christie and his Cabinet led the PLP to mark the third anniversary of its coming to power with a service of thanksgiving at Bishop Neil Ellis’ Mt. Tabor Church this morning.

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Jeffery St John Murdered

05/17/15 9:58 AM

jeff_st_JohnIt happens all too frequently, a well-known male personality in The Bahamas found alone, murdered.  The police call for information leading to the arrest of a suspect.  The lurid details defame and demean the life of  the person, who no matter what things were intrinsic to them, does not deserve to be killed.  That was the story of Thaddeus McDonald, of Harl Taylor, of  Latory Mackey.  This time it’s Jeff St John 64 years old, the fashion designer and late employed at a popular eatery. The date of his death 15th May; they say naked in a bathtub; killed it appears by blunt force trauma; a fire was set to cover the tracks.  The whisper of homosexual murder goes around. Too  often in our country that means the crime will not be solved and if it comes to trial all you have to say is that is what it was and that in the minds of many Bahamians justifies the death.  Women should sympathize with that.  Once all you had to say when you killed a woman was that you discovered her being unfaithful, juries would routinely let you go.  The other observation is that this is the second murder in the area where the perpetrators sought to cover their tracks by setting fire to the premises. The police have appealed for leads. We have a lot of work to in this country of ours, not dissimilar to all countries across the world.  

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