Monday, May 31, 2010

Our futile war on crime in The Bahamas

Our futile war on crime
Tribune Staff Reporter

Now here is a bright idea: If Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie would just work together, the whole country would be united against crime. Maybe that is what it will take to solve the problem. What a laughable thought, to say the least.

Honestly, if our present leaders mustered all of their intellectual capacities I am willing to bet any wager they would still be clueless and ineffective in abating crime. The math is simple. We will not solve crime by fighting crime. We will only solve crime by eliminating the conditions that give rise to crime.

So what if we stopped asking the government what their crime plan is and stop holding the police responsible for stopping crime. The problems we currently face are only allowed to thrive because there is an absence of community. Let us stop expending so much energy crying over crime, and focus on reclaiming and restoring community.

This may sound callous, but last year's murder count of 77 is dwarfed by all of the other social ills. Our fixation on the murder count - the endless comparison between annual figures - is pointless. The conditions in society are not static; they are deteriorating while our population is increasing, so naturally there will be an increase in crime. It has nothing to do with whether the Free National Movement or the Progressive Liberal Party is in power, or which Commissioner of Police the government installs.

Fact: A large percentage of our murders stem from interpersonal conflicts. This is an example of how our dysfunctional behaviour translates into a proliferation of crime. Look around at all of the incestuous relationships Bahamian fathers have with their children, or the number of children living in fear of being molested by their pastors or the shop owner down the street. In fact, look at an ordinary day in the House of Assembly. We have drifted so far away from the true spirit of community that our society has become a production house of criminality and dysfunction.

Most of the largest town criers are not even exposed to a real threat of violent crime, but in a state of fear created by the manipulation of a perception of crime, they are overcome with paranoia. The average middle class Bahamian in their mid-40s would probably struggle to name more than five incidents of violent crime that have directly impacted their lives (child abuse not withstanding). The fear they experience is more of an illusion.

Those that we should really be concerned about are the children in our society. The threat to them is real. Their lives are invariably shaped by the intense trauma that results from their exposure to violence and a host of other social ills.

On a regular basis I work with children from "Over the Hill"; they average about eight years old. In a weekly Monday exercise called "sharing the news", they tell stories about the people they know that got "jook up", "locked up", "beat up" or "killed". In this forum we often remind them that "the news" does not always have to be about the violence in their community. But without fail, every week they return with war stories. Imagine what their level of direct exposure will be by age 40.

What is most alarming is that the dysfunction they speak of has become so normalized within their neighbourhoods that they are incapable of realising how it is adversely shaping their perceptions of reality.

These children do not need a crime plan. They need a community, and what we have in the Bahamas, as Baba Shango rightly articulated, is a group of individuals stuck on the same rock. A true community is not a group of individuals living in a specific location, sharing a government and a common heritage.

A true community enables the healthy development of its children, helping them to discover their purpose and understand who they are. The community supports the healing of all children, nurtures their talents and welcomes their contributions.

In a holistic community, each generation is the link to the one that precedes it and the one that follows. A reciprocal relationship is fostered as they inspire each other. What we have today is a situation in which no one is being inspired. Few are pulling from the past and fewer still are giving to the future.

In a holistic community, the blessings bestowed on individuals in the form of skills, talents and personal wealth are no more the possession of individuals than the air they breathe. The whole notion of the self made person is an illusion. This thinking is what Albert Einstein calls "a kind of optical delusion of (one's) consciousness". It is the kind of delusion that negates community. No one survives or thrives without a form of community.

So much has been lost of our understanding of the world, our traditions, customs, rites of passage and initiations. At one time these served as a guide for the development and structuring of our communities. Often times we perceive our traditional ways as dead, perhaps that is the very reason our society is in a state of decay. Our present practices are materialistic, superficial and commercially oriented. They lack meaning and purpose.

For example, we have lost the essence of what it means to name a child. A name is supposed to call out the destiny of a child and remind a child of his or her purpose. It is not simply a form of identification. The popular practice of compounding the names of two parents to label a child is not rooted in an understanding of community. It is a glitch in the system derived from individualistic Western ideals.

The naming ceremony is a sacred event. It is where the community discovers the child's purpose and is made responsible for helping the child to fulfil his or her destiny. It is where the community unites to celebrate the arrival of the child, who is the bearer of news from the same realm to which the rest of the community must prepare to return one day.

In a holistic community, this is one of the many structures that provide a firm foundation for the growth and development of the child. In our society, many of these essential structures have been corrupted or outright abandoned.

Another prime example is the relationship between our children and our elders. The need for the connection between children and elders is much more fundamental than our current practices would suggest. A visit to grammy in our culture has become a nonchalant activity that we do in our spare time. We marginalize our elders, based on our Western world view. Generally, elders are viewed as economically unproductive, because they do not work in the economy, while they continually consume resources. They are considered dispensable, worthless even.

In traditional African culture, where a holistic understanding of community manifests, there is an unspoken language between children and elders. This is why elders take a great interest in the birth of a child. The elders prepare the children for the journey ahead, sharing with them the secrets of life. The children share with the elders news of the next realm, preparing them for their upcoming journey.

"Throughout children's lives in the village there is a strong message that they belong to a community of people who value them almost beyond anything else. It starts when grandparents participate in the birthing and are the first to hold the newborn. Because the newborn is considered a villager who has just arrived from a long trip that started in the land of the ancestors, the people most recognizable to them are the old ones," according to Malidoma Some, in the "Healing Wisdom of Africa".

If it is not clear as yet that we have far greater problems than crime then perhaps you are not seeing the crux of the matter. In our absence of community, we are inevitably damned, because we live by a destructive separatist agenda that is safeguarded by a belief in armed force.

In material terms this looks like a proliferation of gated communities, "shanty towns" and prisons; a flood of police on the streets; an increase in police raids, civilian armament and private security; and an increase in gangs. Surprise. Surprise. We are creating an increasingly segregated society with "strong people" who get by and "weak people" who don't.

All of this stems from our linear way of thinking. In this model everything is perceived through a dichotomous paradigm: good, bad; ally, enemy; old, young; black, white; male, female; straight, gay. In this two dimensional world view it is hard to see the inherent connections in all things. All reality is polarized; all knowledge is externalized, and if something cannot be proven with empirical evidence it does not exist. This lends to materialism and an imbalanced left-sided way of thinking, which cuts one off from the world of spirit.

Imagine our predicament when the entire education system is designed on this model. It breeds a society of highly materialistic, technocratic individuals with little self-knowledge. Our children are not taught to learn from within and they develop a sense of dependency. Ultimately, western education suppresses our children's intuition and causes it to atrophy.

Our linear way of thinking has manifested in everything around us, from our thoughts on life and death, to the way we design our so-called communities.

Often we hear people use the following phrases: "Here today, gone tomorrow", or "I only have one life to live." These are symbolic of our thoughts on life and death. The Christian view suggests a person is born, dies, and goes to heaven or hell. An atheist's view suggests a person is born and dies. In essence, it is the same linear model of thinking that gives rise to both of these world views. This is in complete opposition to what we see in nature.

I n traditional African culture the person is born into the community to serve a specific function or role. They leave the community through the doorway of death, enter the ancestral realm, where they continue to play a supportive role, and then are reborn into the community. Africans have developed this understanding by observing nature: the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of the moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, and the cyclical transfer of energy in the ecosystem.

In Bahamian society we recognize the cyclical nature of certain things in our speech, primarily in an unconscious way. When we say, "you killing ya granddaddy", or when we remark that a child has inherited a particular skill or trait from a deceased relative, these are unconscious revelations of reality. Unfortunately for us, living unconsciously, without purpose, has disconnected us from our very nature. This is why we are so destructive to ourselves and the external environment.

Our linear way of thinking has even manifested in the way we construct our neighbourhoods. Examine any modern neighbourhood and you will notice that our houses are lined up on streets. What you are actually seeing are houses arranged in parallel lines that never meet. This is further compounded by the walls and fences we erect to delineate boundaries and create division. This is a tangible example of a segregative way of being: each unit is compartmentalized and excluded from the other.

In a holistic model, communities are designed based on a unified way of being. The cosmological principle of community creates a physical blueprint for designing our dwellings, reminding us daily of who we are. For example, the dwellings in a compound are generally arranged in concentric circles. Elders and children are located at the core. Women form the inner perimeter and men form the outer circle.


This ties back into the relationship between children and elders, and the role of everyone in the community. The African model shows us that at the heart of community is wisdom, ancestral knowledge represented by the seed and the ripening fruit. The women represent the nurturing force that supports the core. The men represent the external boundary, the hard exterior that protects that which is most important.

Unfortunately, based on our current level of consciousness, it is virtually impossible for us to create a true community. Individually and collectively, we do not identify with the requisite higher levels of consciousness in our being needed to develop community.

Consciousness is the underlying essence that flows through nature. It is our ability to understand ourselves, each other, and the world we live in; it is our awareness of the connectivity of all things.

When consciousness is directed in a linear way it manifests in the identification with the material aspects of our being. When it is focused in a balance manner, in both hemispheres of our brain, it manifests in a holistic way of being. When we operate on a higher plane of consciousness we have greater wisdom and foresight; we access our ability to see through the third eye.

"No problem can be solved at the same level of consciousness that created it," as my mother often says in quoting Albert Einstein. This type of thinking is consistent with the old adage, "A man cannot be above his mind." Basically, a person with pink glasses lives in a pink world.

If we raise the level of consciousness in our people, particularly in our children, then new ways of being will emerge. If every strategy we employed to solve our social problems was infused with this inner knowledge, the essence of who we are, it would transform the way we live. Because everything occurring internally manifests externally, higher consciousness would inevitably give birth to community.

If we really want to solve the problem of crime we have to fill the void created by a lack of community. Raising our consciousness as a people is our best hope for reclaiming and restoring community.

The power to arrest the problem is in the hands of each individual, but most relinquish their power by denying individual responsibility. The next time you look outside of yourself for the answer to the crime problem, ask yourself these questions: What is my state of consciousness, and what am I doing to build a true community?

But first, we must examine, are we really interested in forming a community with the other people stuck on this rock, or are we content with Western illusions of security, prosperity, Godliness, and identity.

I suspect our greatest problem is the fact that we are not truly interested in forming a community. Rather, we are satisfied with living a life based on the illusions that we construct, chief among them is our futile war on crime.

May 31, 2010


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Politicians should take note from Patrick Manning and Bruce Golding

by Oscar Ramjeet:

Politicians, especially the senior ones who hold high offices like prime ministers or ministers of government, should not live in ivory towers and behave as if they are better than the electorate -- the people who put them in office. They should remember that they work for the people and behave as such and not project the image that they are demigods.

Oscar Ramjeet is an attorney at law who practices extensively throughout the wider CaribbeanI make the comment because of the situation in Trinidad and Tobago, where outgoing Prime Minister Patrick Manning was humiliated by his own supporters at his PNM party's General Council meeting. He was booed by angry PNM members, who shouted "Manning must go" and, as he was leaving, his vehicle was mobbed by angry party members, which forced officers from the Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB) to rush to his assistance.

It is unfortunate that a man who served 23 long years as political leader should be chased out from his own party headquarters, Balisier House. Observers pointed out that never in the history of the party did a leader have to leave the headquarters in such a unpleasant manner.

At the General Council meeting, Manning read out his resignation as leader of the PNM, and explained to the meeting that the constitution does not provide for the General Council to appoint a political leader other than through a convention and there is a procedure to be followed. He added that, in the circumstances, he was prepared to stay as Political Leader and as Opposition Leader and appoint senators for that duration. After he said that, the entire General Council hooted, "No. No." and exclaimed that Manning must go immediately

After Manning departed, a motion was passed by the General Council advising the PNM parliamentarians to write to the President informing him that they were supporting Keith Rowley, who was at loggerheads with Manning, to be the Leader of the Opposition.

Earlier, Diego Martin North East Member of Parliament, Colm Imbert, had indicated that he would like to run for leadership of the PNM, but a hostile crowd vigorously rejected his offer stating, "We want Rowley, we don't want anybody else. Rowley is the man. Manning make we lose the election."

Manning was flying high during his last few years as leader of the oil rich country. He ceased to use commercial airlines, but jetted to countries with large entourage and spent tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in hosting two high powered international conferences last year, which were attended by Queen Elizabeth of England, US President, Barack Obama, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and scores of leaders from the Commonwealth and other parts of the world.

It is said that, in his last couple of years, he was far removed from the people and spent large sums of money in renovating and redecorating the Official Residence of the Prime Minister. Some critics say that they are glad that he only enjoyed the luxuries for a short while, because he had to leave for the new prime minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

A woman posted this on the website, "It is a shame Manning had to end his reign like that. Ah glad he gone. There is nothing wrong with PNM or UNC, the problem is the picaroon politicians who stood under the PNM and UNC umbrella. Well, now T&T will see how true WOMAN IS BOSS.”

Another said, "What a sad day... shame on the PNM supporters for their uncivilised behaviour, but that is what Patrick encourages, so it has come to haunt him, unfortunately."

Over in Jamaica, Prime Minister Bruce Golding believed that he was the boss of all time and refused to extradite drug lord, Christopher "Dudus” Coke. When he finally decided to do so after mounting pressure, there was and still is chaos, and up to the time of writing more than 75 persons were brutally killed. Now Golding’s own supporters want him to go, and former leader of his Jamaica Labour Party, Edward Seaga, who was also prime minister, said that Golding should resign immediately and added, "I have never known a prime minister to display such a lack of moral rectitude."

It is said when prime ministers are in office for a very long time, they believe they own the country and they do as they please. But Golding only took over from Portia Simpson Miller on September 11, 2007, and is a first term prime minister and should not behave in such an arrogant manner.

May 29, 2010


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Father Etienne Bowleg has renounced all allegiance as a priest of the Anglican Diocese of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos with immediate effect

Fr Bowleg quits Anglican Church

FATHER Etienne Bowleg has renounced all allegiance as a priest of the Anglican Diocese of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos with immediate effect, Bishop Laish Boyd informed his clergy.

In an unprecedented move in the diocese of the West Indian province, Bishop Boyd stated that Father Bowleg, the former rector of the Holy Trinity Church, informed him of his decision by letter on May 17.

"I accept his renunciation and have acknowledged the same in writing.

"This means that by his own choice, intent and assertion Father Bowleg no longer holds a licence to function in this diocese," Bishop Laish said in a memorandum to the Anglican clergy this week.

This comes just weeks after a protracted court battle involving Father Bowleg and the Anglican Archdiocese came to an end.

In March, Senior Justice Jon Isaacs lifted an injunction that prohibited the removal of Father Bowleg as rector of the Most Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Stapledon Gardens.

Just hours after the ruling, locksmiths were busy on the church grounds changing the locks.

The court battle stemmed from a dispute that had arisen over Father Bowleg's contention that he is 64 years old, although with a 1937 birth certificate, he is recognised by the Anglican Diocese as being 72 - two years beyond the mandatory retirement age for Anglican priests.

Normally, the retirement age of Anglican priests is 65, but the bishop can extend that limit by another five years.

However, under church law, the absolute maximum age for a priest to be allowed to serve is 70.

Bishop Boyd described Father Bowleg's renunciation as a "sad and serious occurrence in the life of the Diocese of the (West Indian) province."

"It is unprecedented in that it comes at the culmination of a chain of events and actions that were disrespectful to, hostile toward and adversarial against the diocese," he said.

Bishop Boyd said he takes the decision to mean that Father Bowleg has renounced fellowship with the Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Province of the West Indies and all other dioceses and provinces that are in communion with the See of Canterbury, meaning the worldwide Anglican Communion.

"This is the obvious conclusion to the drawn, since, if he were continuing with the Anglican Communion and transferring to another diocese his proper course of action would have been to have asked for letters of commendatory. Up to this point no request for such documentation has been submitted," the bishop said on Wednesday.

Bishop Boyd further wished to impress the seriousness of Father Bowleg's renunciation on the Anglican clergy.

"The lack of a General Licence means that Father Bowleg is not allowed to function - officiate, celebrate, preach, vest, process, sit in the chancel or sit in the sanctuary - at any service or event of the diocese or the province, or under the auspices of the diocese or the province.

"All of the courtesies normally extended to one of our clergy can no longer be extended to him," he said.

"Of course he is welcome to worship in any our services or to attend any of our events as such would be open to all persons who wish to attend same.

"We continue to bear him all goodwill, Christian charity and the prayerful support that we offer to all people," Bishop Boyd added.

The Tribune was unable to reach Father Bowleg for comment yesterday before press time.

Father Bowleg last year also experienced familial challenges when is son, Etienne Bowleg Jr, was charged with 12 offences in connection with a high-speed police chase. These charges include possession of an illegal firearm with the intent to endanger life and causing damage to a police vehicle.

The matter is ongoing before the courts.

May 29, 2010


Friday, May 28, 2010

Archbishop Patrick Pinder Plays Caesar on The Issue of Legalized Gambling for Bahamians in The Bahamas

By Dennis A. Dames
Nassau, Bahamas:

I write in reaction to our Roman Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder’s response to the issue of legalized gambling for Bahamians in The Bahamas.

Like the Anglican Bishop’s reply to the subject matter – I do not understand my archbishop’s reasoning.

For example, my Bishop stated the following: I as the leader of the Roman Catholic community in the Bahamas do not support a change in the current law which would allow the legalization of gambling.

So, His Grace has essentially said that: he does not support a change in the current law which would allow the legalization of gambling for Bahamians in their beloved country.

His Grace no doubt supports lawful gambling for tourists - nonetheless. Here is where both Anglican and Catholic Bishops’ perspectives on the gambling for Bahamians question lack spiritual and honorable creditability.

To basically say to a member of the Catholic communion in The Bahamas that gambling is wrong for them, but right for visitors to our shores – is a sinful insult.

How did the bishops find themselves in such a morally compromising position on a political matter that should have been exclusively resolved in the Bahamian political arena in the first place - in my view?

Well, I believe that that answer could be found in their apparent aversion and abandonment of the Gospels in public life. In fact, everyone wants to be the chief politician nowadays - who is dictator of all the land. Yes, to be Caesar is more fashionable than to be Christ like nowadays; hence – the gospels are being abandoned; and church leaders in The Bahamas have clearly forsaken their divine roles according to God’s will, in my opinion.

The devil is truly busy and successful in his mission to deceive church leaders in The Bahamas – in my humble estimation.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bahamas Christian Council applauds decision not to legalise the numbers business

Christian Council applauds decision not to legalise the numbers business
Tribune Staff Reporter

THE Bahamas Christian Council expressed its pleasure yesterday at the government's decision not to legalise the numbers business at this time.

In a statement issued after the government announced it had shelved plans to legalise the numbers business despite initial assessments determining that it could bring $30 million to $40 million in revenue into the public treasury annually, the BCC said the decision is "a good step" and one "in the right direction."

The church organisation also stressed that "fundamental long-term changes" are needed if the country is to get through its present economic predicament, which Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has indicated to be quite dire, with the government having difficulty finding the money to fund essential services.

Referring to the gambling question, the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) held that a country addicted to gambling and "all the social ills that are inextricably tied to it" condemns its people and generations to come to a society "void of creativity and productivity."


As an "instrument created by God", government should "secure each person and their property, equality of justice between individuals, and constrain the forces of evil in civil society," the BCC said.

Suggesting that the legalisation of the numbers business would encourage more Bahamians to gamble - although it is widely recognised that thousands of Bahamians from all areas of society do so at present, and generally with impunity - the BCC said that "laws shape society" and "human beings generally follow the laws that are set in a society."

The government stated over the weekend that it has encountered strong opinions on both sides of the debate for and against the legalisation of numbers and would put off further consideration of the issue until a referendum can be held after the next general election. The prime minister met with the BCC last month to discuss the possibility of legalising the numbers business.

Speaking to the country's financial situation, the BCC said: "There are some fundamental long-term changes that are required. These adjustments may not be considered favourable in the short-term but are critical to our overall long-term well-being and sustainability."

"The Bahamas Christian Council pledges our support to the government to assist with the sensitising of our people to the need for such measures to be implemented.

"We would also be very willing to participate in any national discussion to devise a national plan for the long-term sustainability of the Bahamian economy," the BCC said.

The organisation suggested that think-tanks with a diverse membership could also help devise solutions to the country's economic challenges by "coming up with alternative solutions to produce and create wealth in our country."

May 26, 2010


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bahamas: Lessons to be learned from Jamaica

Lessons to be learned from Jamaica
tribune242 editorial:

THERE ARE many lessons that Bahamians, including politicians, can learn from the alarming situation in Jamaica. It was reported late yesterday that at least 30 persons were killed by that country's well armed criminal element, now challenging the state's attempt to arrest their drug lord "president."

For too long the Jamaican police and the government have turned a blind eye to Jamaica's slums. Known as garrisons they have been taken over by criminal dons, who have turned them into their personal kingdoms.

Everything came crashing down last year when the US government moved to have Dudus Coke extradited to the United States on charges of drug and gun running. For nine months Prime Minister Bruce Golding's government fought off the request, finally capitulating and agreeing that Coke should face a Jamaican court where the charges against him would be evaluated for extradition.

"Dudus" was the don, who delivered the votes for Golding's party from West Kingston, so, it is obvious that he expected his "main man" to protect him in his Tivoli Gardens fiefdom.

"Along the pitted and trash-strewn streets of West Kingston," reported Associated Press yesterday, "residents say Coke is feared for his strong-arm tactics, but also is known for helping out slum dwellers with grocery bills, jobs and school fees.

"Coke solidified his authority by taking charge of punishing thieves and other criminals in the ghettos, where the government has little presence and police rarely, if ever, patrol."

Today Tivoli Gardens is fortified with barricades, protected by gangsters with high powered rifles and supporters carrying placards declaring that "Jesus died for us; we will die for Dudus."

Here is a lesson for our own police force. There should be no area in New Providence or any of our islands where the Royal Bahamas Police Force cannot, or do not enter frequently.

And as for our politicians if they were wise they would be very careful of the company they keep. In the past some of them have had very embarrassing experiences.

We recall the support that our own home grown drug lord had when the Americans sent for him. It was surprising the following "Ninety" Knowles had and who were among those who turned out to protest when he was taken to court for his extradition hearing. Everyone knew of his illegal activities, of his own gangs and his own orders that were executed, yet when the time came to pay the piper, all we heard was how Ninety fed his neighbours, paid the school fees and took care of his community. And so, like Dudus, when the time came his supporters gathered round, and marched to the court. Ninety's generosity had solidified him in their hearts and their community, and despite their proud boast that this is a "God fearing" nation, Ninety was one man who could break the Ten Commandments, yet still demand their loyalty. Today he is all but forgotten in a prison cell in the US.

We also recall how drug dealers under the Pindling administration, rightly or wrongly, considered the PLP their party. They agitated for the day when the PLP would be returned to power so that they could get back to "the trade." As a matter of fact the rumour around Eleuthera during the 2002 election was that as soon as the PLP won, the dealers' fast-boats would be in the water, and they would return to their illicit trade. Fortunately, it did not work out that way. But, it certainly should have taught the politicians a lesson.

What is now happening to Prime Minister Golding in Jamaica should underscore for all what can happen when one plays fast and loose with law breakers.

May 26, 2010


The Government's Missed Opportunity on Legalized Gambling for Bahamians

Missed opportunity on gambling
thenassauguardian editorial:

In democratic societies, laws exist with the consent of the people. Without that consent, no law can be enforced. It can even be argued that no law is legitimate if the people do not support it.

It is clear from the large number of number houses that openly operate in The Bahamas that a significant number of Bahamians want to gamble.

The number houses advertise in the media, they donate to state agencies, they announce the numbers of the day on television and some have corporate offices in the center of Nassau.

Yet we as a nation still seek to run away from the logical position that the law should be changed, allowing Bahamians to gamble.

Keeping rules in place that cannot be enforced sends the message that people can defy the law, and there are no consequences to this defiance.

And yet again, the church is standing in the way of logic and reasonableness.

Gambling is legal in many parts of the United States. Its unemployment rate is around 10 percent. Gambling is legal in Canada. Its unemployment rate is around 8 percent.

Gambling is illegal for Bahamians and our unemployment rate is near 15 percent. The legalization of gambling has not destroyed those countries and caused mass poverty.

The church has a right to advocate its position. It should not be allowed to dictate policy, however.

The government is in financial crisis. It has to borrow to meet its responsibilities.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham says they project that the government could take in $30 to 40 million in tax revenue from a fully legalized gambling business.

Having backed down largely from the threat of going to war with local clerics, where now is the government going to get this revenue from in a time of financial crisis?

The church won't provide the funds. Its operations are virtually tax-free. Governments of The Bahamas have also given churches deep concessionary rates on the purchase of Crown land for their operations.

Instead of bringing this industry into the open and taxing number bosses who make millions annually, and those who wish to play, the government will now hike taxes in other areas to compensate for the lost revenue.

The prime minister missed an opportunity to end this decades long debate on gambling with decisive action. However, his announcement that the Free National Movement will commit to a referendum offers some hope.

If the FNM wins the next general election, and the referendum takes place, right thinking Bahamians need to make sure their voices are heard on this issue once and for all.

Those who do not want to gamble do not have to. This is a free society.

Bahamians should be free to choose how they wish to spend their money on reasonable activities just as church leaders are free to spend church funds on what they wish to.

May 26, 2010


...a shift in wind patterns is expected to propel the oil slick towards The Bahamas

Oil spill may reach Bahamas by weekend
By JASMIN BONIMY ~ Guardian Staff Reporter ~

The worst natural disaster to hit the Gulf Coast is likely to reach local coastlines by the weekend, according to Chief Climatological Officer Michael Stubbs, who said a shift in wind patterns is expected to propel the oil slick towards The Bahamas.

In an interview with The Nassau Guardian yesterday Stubbs said that in pervious weeks weather conditions have kept the oil slick contained in the Gulf of Mexico.

"As it stands now the wind is not supporting movement out of the Gulf. It's keeping the oil particles that are floating along the surface in the Gulf of Mexico," said Stubbs.

"However as Friday approaches we see the weather pattern changing and what would happen then is the winds in the area would be flowing clockwise, making it possible for oil floating on the surface to make it to the notorious loop current. So once the particles move into the loop current the chances are [higher] for it [the oil] to reach our area."

The oil spill began on April 20 after an oil rig exploded and sank in the Gulf, killing 11 people. It is estimated that oil is escaping from the collapsed rig's underground pipeline at the rate of 95 thousand barrels, or four million gallons, a day.

Stubbs, who heads a meteorological task force set up by the Ingraham administration to monitor the oil spill, said once the surface winds shift, oil sediments will most likely reach the Cay Sal Bank, Bimini, and western Grand Bahama - key fishing areas for the marine industry.

He said for this reason the government has already been warned to prepare for the likely arrival of oil in Bahamian waters.

"Some sort of action is necessary at least before the weekend so we can know where to access resources," he said. "Currently as it stands the government has taken a proactive position in that they have deployed vessels out there with scientists to get base line samplings. From that we can do some sort of clean-up plan or find ways to divert the oil using tools like booms."

On Monday, Minister for the Environment Earl Deveaux told The Nassau Guardian that the government is doing all it can to tackle the issue which has persisted for more than a month.

However, just five days earlier in a press conference, Deveaux admitted that The Bahamas is not prepared for the level of calamity that the growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could cause the country.

He also explained that international and local agencies have been notified and will assist in the clean up efforts if the spill reaches Bahamian waters.

He added that local agencies are preparing to ensure that they have a response in time to mitigate a worst-case scenario.

Still, Stubbs insisted given the magnitude of the spill, it is a problem that will persist for months to come.

"We have to take into consideration that we are now approaching the official beginning of the hurricane season and we know that we are going to be faced with quite a bit of tropical disturbances, which means that even efforts by the relevant authorities to stop the leak or to clean up is going to be hindered more so as the season progresses.

"We also know that this time of the year the formation of cyclones usually originates around the Gulf of Mexico or the northern Bahama islands. So this means whatever actions we are going to take, we need to coordinate our efforts to make certain that we take the best measures towards our area becoming contaminated."

As local experts prepare for the impending threat, British Petroleum (BP), the company responsible for the sunken oil rig, has tried twice to stop the leak. The company's first attempt to divert oil leaking from the well using a 40-foot contaminant box failed on May 8.

The second effort to capture oil using a tube inserted in a pipe has been able to recover an average of 1,885 barrels of oil a day, according to a BP spokesman.

The company said on Monday that the spill cost BP about $760 million, or $22 million a day.

May 26, 2010


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Government drops plans to legalise the numbers business in The Bahamas

Govt drops plans to legalise numbers business
Tribune Staff Reporters and

AS the government dropped plans to legalise the numbers business for the time being, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham warned last night that other taxes will have to be introduced instead to sustain the Bahamian economy.

Mr Ingraham said his government had hoped that the licencing and taxation of a legalised numbers business would bring a revenue of between $30million and $40million annually.

Bringing the illegal numbers business into the formal economy would therefore have spared the Bahamian public new taxes which will be introduced in the House of Assembly tomorrow when the budget debate for the new fiscal year starts.

Speaking with The Tribune from his office in the Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Building, Mr Ingraham said: "We knew we had to increase taxes in the Bahamas in the forthcoming budget period, that that was unavoidable. We thought that the revenue we would get from the number business would assist in reducing the number of taxes we had to impose upon the public.

"We have to get the revenue from somewhere."

Without going into details about the taxes he will introduce, Mr Ingraham said they are necessary to "sustain the Bahamian economy, reduce growth in government debt, provide essential public services and keep employed the people who are employed by the government".

He said: "That's a reality."

The Cabinet Office announced yesterday, after consultation with a wide range of community leaders and other citizens including leaders of the church, the government has decided not to proceed with the legalisation of the numbers business.

"The consultation clearly showed that there is presently not a national consensus on this matter and that, in fact, there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue," a statement said.

Instead, the government proposes that a referendum should be held on the issue after the next General Election so that the will of the people on this issue can be determined.


Mr Ingraham said yesterday his government decided against holding a referendum before the next election as it did not want to mix up the two.

Mr Ingraham pointed out that gambling was not the FNM's "issue".

He said it was not something they promised they would address during this term in office.

As to the support and opposition to the legalising of the numbers business, the Prime Minister said consultation has shown that there is strong support for it, as there is against it, and that views diverge regardless of party or religious denomination. Yesterday, the Archbishop Patrick Pinder, leader of the Roman Catholic community in the Bahamas, said that in his view, the law should not be changed to support legalised gambling. He said the laws as they are now appear "intended to exercise an abundance of necessary caution for the good of individuals and the community as a whole." (See Page Two for story).

The Cabinet Office's statement said supporters of both political parties represented in Parliament hold opposing views.

"Also, the consultation revealed that even within most religious denominations there are divergent views.

"There are pressing national challenges that require the focussed and united attention of government, church and the nation as a whole at this time, particularly violent crime and an economy battered by the global recession," the statement said.

As to how the numbers business - which Mr Ingraham said his government has also considered illegal - will be dealt with in future, the Prime Minister said it will dealt with as it has been so far.

May 25, 2010


Roman Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder says no to legalised gambling in The Bahamas

Archbishop says no to legalised gambling

ARCHBISHOP Patrick Pinder, leader of the Roman Catholic community in the Bahamas, does not think the law should be changed to support legalised gambling

The Archbishop pointed out that although the Church's longstanding tradition that games of chance are not in themselves morally evil, "there is the tendency of human nature to go to excess and to extremes. Thus what may be harmless in the beginning can, without proper restraints become quite harmful later on. The wisdom of the law as it now stands seems to understand this reality.

"The law as it now stands," said the Archbishop, "appears intended to exercise an abundance of necessary caution for the good of individuals and the community as a whole.

"Permitting the harmless use of games of chance while protecting against their harmful excess is indeed the value which the current law appears to protect and promote."

It was on these grounds that the Archbishop felt that the law should be upheld and gambling not be legalised.

Following is the text of the Archbishop's statement:

"The Bahamian community is currently engaged in much discussion surrounding the possibility of the legalisation of gambling. Surely this matter calls for much serious thought and research as part of an in-depth, national conversation. Such conversation is a necessary aspect of the formation of public policy in a strong democracy. I wish here to offer an initial contribution to that conversation.

"The question of legalisation of gambling is a challenging one for our Bahamian community as a whole. It is particularly challenging for our Roman Catholic community. At the risk of being quoted out of context, I must indicate at the outset the Church's longstanding tradition that games of chance are not in themselves morally evil. This finds official expression in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in these words: 'Games of chance or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice.' (CCC2413). It is on this basis that there is a well known practice of utilising various games of chance, in particular raffles, as a staple feature of parish fund raising. "However, the same section of the Catechism goes on to say: '(Games of chance) become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs or those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement.' (CCC 2431).

"Our Catholic tradition recognised that while gambling is not inherently evil there is the tendency of human nature to go to excess and to extremes. Thus what may be harmless in the beginning can, without proper restraints become quite harmful later on. The wisdom of the law as it now stands seems to understand this reality. The law as it now stands appears intended to exercise an abundance of necessary caution for the good of individuals and the community as a whole."

"Permitting the harmless use of games of chance while protecting against their harmful excess is indeed the value which the current law appears to protect and promote. As such, I as the leader of the Roman Catholic community in the Bahamas do not support a change in the current law which would allow the legalisation of gambling.

"I realise that this is not a simple matter. While raffles are closely regulated by law, we do have the widespread breach of the legal prohibition of gambling in the case of the illegal numbers industry. Surely, we cannot simply pretend that this situation does not exist. Nor can public authority tolerate the routine violation of the law. Here we need to come together as a community to reflect on the values which the current law seeks to protect and foster. We need to explore why there is such widespread gambling in violation of the law. What is it telling us about our character as a people? How are we to address this stubborn reality for the good of us all? Should we not be encouraging our people to save rather than to gamble? What alternatives are there to the wholesale repeal of the current law?

"Clearly this matter calls for further discussion. I am not convinced that a mere liberalising change in the law is the most wise or beneficial course to follow."

May 25, 2010


Monday, May 24, 2010

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Front-runners Emerge for the Pinewood, South Beach and Kennedy Constituencies

Front-runners emerge in PLP candidate selection process
By BRENT DEAN ~ Guardian Senior Reporter ~

Front-runners are emerging in the Progressive Liberal Party's consideration process for the Pinewood, South Beach and Kennedy constituencies, The Nassau Guardian has learned.

Party sources have confirmed that attorney Randol Dorsett is the front-runner for the Pinewood nomination, attorneys Keith Bell and Dion Smith for the Kennedy nomination and attorney Myles Laroda for the South Beach seat.

The PLP is active in its candidate selection process, having already named four candidates for the next general election.

Jerome Fitzgerald (Marathon), Michael Halkitis (Golden Isles), Hope Strachan (Sea Breeze) and Dr. Kendal Major (Garden Hills) were the first to be ratified by the party.

With the public announcement this week by former PLP Pinewood MP Allyson Maynard-Gibson that she will not seek a nomination to run in the next general election, party insiders said Dorsett currently is the "lead horse" in the race to succeed her as the party's next area candidate.

However, it is understood that there is competition for the Kennedy nomination. Former PLP MP Franklyn Wilson supports attorney Keith Bell. Bell works as an attorney at Sunshine Finance, which is a part of the Sunshine Group of Companies, of which Wilson is chairman.

Attorney Dion Smith is said to have good support among young people in the party. Sources said Smith had an impressive group of young supporters at an event at PLP headquarters last week.

After the sudden death several months ago of the PLP's likely candidate for the South Beach constituency attorney Dwayne Hanna, new faces emerged for consideration.

Sources said that Laroda has the support of the PLP's South Beach branch executive and influential stalwart councilors in the area.

The party is in the advanced stage of determining who will be its candidate for South Beach.

Others up for consideration by the party in that constituency include: Attorneys Fayne Thompson and Romauld Ferreira, former Young Liberals leader Viraj Perpall, Dr. Lynwood Brown and 2007 area candidate Wallace Rolle.

The PLP has also interviewed numerous female potential candidates. Some have been interviewed for specific areas, like (Paulette Zonicle for St. Cecilia). Party sources said others, such as attorney Cheryl Bazard and banker Gina Brown, are also under consideration to be candidates, though no area has yet been selected.

May 21, 2010


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pastor Glen Rolle on The Legalisation of Gambling in The Bahamas

Legalisation of gambling in The Bahamas
Hillside Restoration Centre
Kingdom Ministries:

By far the most talked about issue is the legalisation of lottery in the Bahamas locally referred to as the "Number House" or "The Web Shop."

When the Number Houses outnumber the churches and the bars, you know they must be saying something.

For weeks some of my friends have asked me my perspective on the issue and quite frankly I do have one, but I know they wanted me to give a simple yes or no answer; am I for it or against it?

They will say "Glen if you were in government you would have to take a position" and yes they are right. Thankfully however I am not a member of a political party and therefore can be more deliberate in my resolve to address this issue or at best give a perspective.

One of the primary reasons I am hesitant to engage in this debate is because referees are usually advised to stay out of the middle of blows or fights, particularly if they involve two heavy weights.

How dare I have a view when those who govern the state have decided to take a certain course in respect to further develop that which they have a sense of ownership to govern? For them this issue is not about the legalisation of the gambling. IT'S ALREADY A DONE DEAL.

Remember, they are the ones that administor and determine the law by which the nation will be governed. No amount of vision, aggressiveness or self ambition of any law enforcement agency can rise above the lid from which they have been placed under.

Forget the fact that most of the top leaders in our Law Enforcement Agency are intelligent and trained, most of whom are saddled with various degrees. Their action at the end of the day is predicated or determined by the degree to which legislation is structured and so in our existing system of governance, eyes and vision are not necessarily a prerequisite for transformation.

There was a very strange statement made to Pilot in his trial with Jesus..."IF YOU RELEASE HIM YOU ARE NOT A FRIEND OF CEASAR"... THE SYSTEM IS NOT DESIGNED TO RELEASE THOSE TO THEIR FULL AUTHORITY, LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENTS SIMPLY ENFORCE THE LAWS and as far as we are aware, agencies of government act on behalf of some minister of government. By extension the government or the state has already determined that the places from which number houses or web shops operate have a legal, legitimate license to do so.

Therefore, these Number Shops have a footing in our land. They are issued a license from which they can do business. No law enforcement agency can legitimately rise above that lid and not appear to be in violation of the state. "IF YOU RELEASE HIM YOU ARE NOT A FRIEND OF CEASAR."

This is the system from which we operate. We don't have a people problem, we don't have a competency problem, we don't have a commitment problem, but we are locked by a system that is designed to subject us as a people.

Having said that, I did mention that my friends would inquire of my perspective. My answers at best may be vague, or in some cases I would ask of them a question, and should they give an answer you can rest assure a debate without resolve will be the end result.

That in, and of itself, suggests that this issue may not be as easy as we think. For on one hand, how do you say to the state that they have no business finding means that may be beneficial to the development of its people, and yet on the other hand how do the voices of the religious body stand by idly and not raise objection to the legalisation of something that contradicts their core belief system; the very same legalisation which will bring damnation and rob us of the stewardship and work ethic and creativity that thriving communities need.

This is a cop out, an insult to the emerging generation, they will argue. As for me there can be no successful argument against this expressed view, and after all they too are the custodians of what is morally correct and acceptable.

To further complicate this matter who amongst us will raise an objection to a donor that gives some $100,000 (one hundred thousand dollars) to victims who would have suffered the effects of a devastating Hurricane. After all those with the moral authority were not prepared to play a matching game, and so one can see why this is a fight between the two heavy weights.

Those who are responsible for the administration of the law, and from whom we look to for sustenance, and those on the other hand who feel that laws for the land ought to originate and be a reflection of those that are determined by the moral authority.

Who can argue against the right and wrong of the position of these two giants? Sometimes referees continue without interference and hope they are both saved by the bell and keep in mind that they both mean well.

May 20, 2010


Saturday, May 22, 2010

'Wake up to gang threat' Bahamas

'Wake up to gang threat'
Tribune Staff Reporter

THE country must wake up to the "epidemic" scale of gang activity and the affect it is having on the nation's education system, said Pastor Carlos Reid, who yesterday called for the establishment of a "Gang Unit".

In the wake of the stabbing of three school boys in a fight at C I Gibson Senior School, dubbed the worst on-campus incident of violence in the school's history, Pastor Reid, founder of Youth Against Violence, said school gang violence is getting worse and a new trend is emerging - girls in gangs and gang culture in the country's institutes of higher learning.

"There's a whole heap of that, and the girls are more violent than the boys," said Mr Reid, who works closely with troubled youths. "The gang culture is now spinning off into the College of the Bahamas and BTVI."

On Thursday, three boys, two aged 16 and one 15, were stabbed and taken to hospital by emergency medical services. Three 11th grade students were taken into police custody in connection with the stabbings, and a further ten students in grades 11 and 10 were taken into custody for fighting.

As of yesterday, one student remained in custody and the rest had been released pending further investigations. All three injured students were still in hospital, and police were unable to confirm their condition.

Thursday's violence was reportedly over a girl, and Director of Education Lionel Sands said he did not believe it to be gang-related.

But Mr Reid said C I Gibson suffers from being in "the midst of lots of different warring zones", including Kemp Road, Wulff Road, Nassau Village and Fox Hill, where gangs such as the the Rebellions and the Fox Hill Dogs hold precedence.

Nonetheless, he stressed that C I Gibson is not unique in its plight, as "all of our schools are infected by this gang culture" which he feels can only be resolved through a focus on teaching "conflict resolution and mediation" to school children, along with an understanding that not all differences are a cause for a dispute.

Pastor Reid said he commonly sees problems arise when children have to switch schools - from junior to senior school for example - and then feel the need to have to "fight for their place" in a new system, or when children from one area are forced to attend school in another "territory" because of overcrowding at their local institution.

He suggested "restructuring" of schools to amalgamate junior and senior education would avoid these upheavals and therefore help reduce violence and encourage more respect for teachers, who would have been acquainted with students for a longer period of time.

Mr Reid, who works with troubled youth, said he wishes his organisation could get more involved with efforts to reach school children in conjunction with the Ministry of Education.

He lamented that a Taskforce for Safe Schools created by the Ministry of Education several months ago on which YAV had a seat has already seemed to fall by the wayside, having made little progress with no meetings held for "over two months".

"I've been agitating, we want to get involved, we want to get engaged. I believe in this climate there has to be a gang unit. Any fool could see we're in an epidemic. We did a study about six years ago and found there were over 50 gangs in The Bahamas, and they had a population of 15,000 collectively. It's grown significantly since then. We can still try to go sleep and hope when we wake up it will go away but it won't," said Pastor Reid.

The youth counsellor said he is concerned when he sees gun rampages and massacres in schools in the United States in particular, and wonders how long it will be before such an attack happens in The Bahamas given the failure to successfully address the growing gang problem.

"What could stop The Bahamas from having one of those? Those schools are more safe than our schools as far as their architectural design but our kids have the same mindset. Are we going to wait until something happens then say there's a problem? I believe all this money the government is borrowing for roads, they should be borrowing money to make the schools safe," said Pastor Reid.

Pastor Reid said fear of violence is stopping many children who may find their classes interesting from achieving their potential in school.

"This is going to be a scary place to be able to envision in the next five years. Right now alot of kids are afraid to learn in school. I've had a boy tell me that he'll be at school thinking '3 o'clock soon come and something could happen to me. I can't concentrate on learning.' Some kids say they have to leave school early, jump the wall to get out safe," said Mr Reid.

On Thursday, education officials "staggered" the release of 10th and 11th grade students from C I Gibson school to minimise the potential for more fights and retaliatory attacks, something which was also feared by several parents who gathered outside the locked school gates to call for their children to be released from classes immediately for their own safety.

At Youth Against Violence's Hope Centre, where a programme for suspended students is held, Pastor Reid said he has seen enrollment rise from 67 in the first year to 138 in the second year and over 300 this year. He links the rise both to a growing awareness of the programme in the community and to more unruly behaviour among students on the whole.

The YAC founder said the programme provides a chance for students to re-focus themselves through participation in classes in mechanics, bodywork, video and audio labs, computers, music and more.

"What we're looking to be able to do is partner with some other agencies so that we could send some of kids to work in some of these different areas of employemnt for a week or two weeks, so they can be around a different breed of people. These kids spend their lives having to navigate through a very differnt world," he said.

May 22, 2010


Friday, May 21, 2010

Bishop Laish Boyd Gambles Wrong on Gambling In The Bahamas

By Dennis Dames:

I write in response to the Anglican Church’s position on legalizing the numbers business in The Bahamas that was expressed recently by Bishop Laish Boyd.

The Bishop said that: “By enacting legislation legalizing numbers, the government would be "opening the floodgates" to the lowering of standards and values, and it would be doing so for financial reasons, so that it can make money from the numbers business".

He stated further in a pastoral letter dated May 12 that: "In short, it promotes values that are harmful to the moral fiber of our communities. It would be a mistake to affirm this subculture by legalizing it at a time when there are so many negative influences on the society, and when our community is suffering from a lack of values".

"In matters of this kind the government has the constitutional and moral responsibility to protect the value base of the country".

"Many persons who play numbers regularly become obsessed with finding the right number and wait anxiously to see which number will fall. It becomes a consuming force, often dictating every other area of that person's life. Most Christian moralists agree that the real danger in gambling lies exactly in this kind of excess".

"Persons who can ill afford to are often the biggest users, abusers, and losers," Boyd said. "It forms a false and unreliable foundation upon which to base one's personal finances. It encourages what seems to be a short cut approach to financial security rather than through the principles of Christian or other forms of stewardship”.

"It preys on those who cannot discipline themselves in these areas. Often there is a higher call to the funds used, i.e., persons need to spend that money on more basic and important things, but do not".

"It goes against the principles of Christian stewardship. Life cannot be simply about chance where so many people lose and only a few win. This is what the numbers game typifies. We need to be promoting culture and activities that are based on planning and productivity, purpose and positive advancement. Stewardship calls us to acknowledge what we have, and to build on it constructively and incrementally to accomplish higher goals".

"To argue that such a law cannot be enforced is to recognize that some of the things that we say about ourselves are sadly true; in other words, how can we enforce it by an across the board multi-agency, multi-department effort when too many of our best beloved citizens are lazy, dishonest, unwilling to do a full day's work for a full day's pay, unwilling to stand for principle, too willing to look the other way, too easily bought for a few dollars, and are prepared to accept mediocrity".

"In spite of the widespread acceptance of playing numbers, the Anglican Church opposes it, never mind how many persons see no harm in legalizing it. In spite of how many persons there are who support it, we say that such would be a bad move for the moral fabric of our society and far more devastating in its long-term effects than any monetary or taxation advantage that can be gained in the short-term".

I really don’t understand the Bishop’s logic and sense of reasoning in this instance. How moral is it to have gambling legalized for tourists in The Bahamas, and not for Bahamians?

How moral is it to have an unconstitutional law on our books that sanctions casino gambling for guests of our country, and not for Bahamians?

How moral is it to allow the illegal numbers business in The Bahamas to flourish for decades unabated and virtually unchallenged, and to the point of no return - because of protection and condonation in high places; and to suddenly wake up on day and say it’s immoral to make a wrong right?

This is a secular society Bishop, and the government has a duty to do the right things in the interest of the people and the social order. The time has come to legalize the culture of number buying and gambling generally in The Bahamas. It’s the decent thing to do Bishop and the majority of the Bahamian public agrees with it in my view.

We all need to take responsibility for our actions, and be wise in our daily living. If the man who works all week wants to drink out his pay – that’s his business; if he wants to gamble it out, so be it.

If he wants to spend it all on women – that’s his prerogative. If a woman who works all month wants to buy clothes and shoes with her salary – then let her live with her new attire Bishop.

Yes Bishop, we all will have to account eventually for our deeds; and Jesus Christ did not come here to overthrow the worldly authority. My understanding of Christ’s mission here on earth – is to offer us a better way and eternal life in his name.

He did not come here to tell us what to do or how to live, because free choice is God’s greatest gift to man in my opinion. Therefore, no bishop, priest, rabbi and so on are ethically qualified to dictate to a people on how they should live.

Rather, the sharing and dispersion of the good news of Jesus Christ should be their focus.

If the church in The Bahamas was spiritually, socially and morally effective, we would have a more peaceful, respectable and civilly upright society. We appear to have a nation of mullahs and ayatollahs who want to tell us how to govern our society and life.

The Bishop and other prominent religious leaders in The Bahamas are on the wrong tract as it relates to the work of God; because Jesus Christ has stated that his kingdom is not of this world. Preach and demonstrate the good news of the gospels, and render to Caesar all that’s Caesar’s Bishop.

We the people want to gamble legally in our beloved country and we want our government to facilitate this. Amen.

May 21, 2010

Bahamas Blog International

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Presbyterian kirks in The Bahamas - breakaway 'not linked to gay issue'

Presbyterian Church breakaway 'not linked to gay issue'
Tribune Staff Reporter

REVEREND Scott Kirkland has rejected claims that the ordination of gay ministers in the Church of Scotland drove Presbyterian kirks in the Bahamas to break away.

The minister of Lucaya Presbyterian Church in Freeport announced at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in Scotland this week that Presbyterian congregations in the Bahamas had voted in favour of leaving the "mother church" after 200 years to align with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) in the United States.

A total of 39 church members voted in favour of joining the EPC and three against after Rev John Macleod resigned from St Andrew's Presbyterian Kirk in Nassau and admitted it was partially over the Church of Scotland's ordination of its first openly gay minister, Scott Rennie.


The American EPC is strongly against such ordinations and since the ordination of Rev Rennie last year, more than 50 Scottish churches have backed the evangelical position, showing they will not accept the ordination of gay ministers.

However, Rev Kirkland has shot down any link between Rev Rennie's appointment and the Bahamian choice to align with the EPC.

"To suggest my congregation is leaving the Church of Scotland because of the General Assembly's decision to uphold the call of an openly gay minister is simply not true," he said.

"It has been a long-held ambition of the Kirk's congregations in the Bahamas to form our own denomination, following the example of many other churches around the world which began their life under the wing of the Church of Scotland."

Although the ambition to form a Presbyterian Church of the Bahamas (PCB) has been under discussion for 15 years, the Bahamian following lacks the capacity to run its own denomination and therefore hopes to affiliate with the US Presbyterians as an interim step, Rev Kirkland said. "Furthermore it has a Presbytery in Florida, very close to the Bahamas, where the two congregations can have the experience of being part of a working Presbytery and benefit from the capacity and supervision it offers," he added.

May 20, 2010


Government expects British Petroleum (BP) to be responsible for Deep Horizon's oil spill clean-up operations in The Bahamas

Government expects British Petroleum to be responsible
Tribune Staff reporter

Environment Minister Earl Deveaux said the government is assuming it will not have to sue BP, operators of the exploded Deep Horizon oil rig leaking huge amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, which could possibly affect the Bahamas.

He said the government is keen to recover any money it may be forced to spend on clean-up operations, but noted that BP has indicated it will "foot the bill" created by the spill. Mr Deveaux said it is believed BP has a global fund that will come to bear if containment efforts have to extend to the Bahamas.

If this is the case, it will be the Minister of Foreign Affairs who handles the initial round of negotiations, he said.

Only if it became necessary for the matter to go before the courts would the Attorney General's Office be directly involved, said Minister Deveaux. He admitted that if, in the end, the government does have to sue BP, it would most likely be some time before the Bahamas receives any funds. The National Oil Spill Contingency Team is fully mobilised to respond to the spill, although officials are hoping the situation is contained before the oil slick has a chance to extend beyond the Gulf.

However, Mr Deveaux said he is not "particularly impressed" with the "fragmented" response of the US government to the crisis. He said he hopes the Bahamas' efforts will be "infinitely" more organised and effective.

It is feared that ocean currents could carry the spilled oil into Bahamian waters and devastate wildlife habitats in the north-western islands.

With the hurricane season approaching, bringing with it the potential for strong winds and increased tidal flows, the situation could be "very difficult if not impossible" to manage, Mr Deveaux warned.

He added that speculation about an impending disaster has fueled a "growing sense of helplessness and hysteria".

May 20, 2010


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Anglican Bishop Rev Laish Boyd speaks out against the 'Numbers business' in The Bahamas

Anglican Bishop speaks out against gambling
By ALESHA CADET - tribune242:

ONE of the largest religious denominations in the Bahamas has officially spoken out against the proposed legalisation of gambling.

In a statement issued this week, Anglican Bishop Rev Laish Boyd said the church "does not support any plan to legalise the 'Numbers business' in the Bahamas with a view to taxing the proceeds of that business. In spite of the widespread acceptance of playing numbers, the Anglican Church opposes it, never mind how many persons see no harm in legalising it."

According to the pro-gambling Bahamas Gaming Reform Committee (BGR), Bishop Boyd's position is "hypocritical" because the church itself organises raffles and other prize games.

Responding to the statement yesterday, Sidney Strachan, chairman of (BGR) , said: "The Anglican Church is being hypocritical with the statement made saying the government shouldn't use gambling as a source of revenue for the country.

"When the Anglican Church needed money they themselves turned to gambling; when they got desperate that is what they turned to. The Anglican Church offers prizes for raffling."

But Bishop Boyd said that to explain the church's position, "we need to look for a moment at the term 'gambling'. Gambling is a broad subject area encompassing games or activities involving some risk with the potential for granting an advantage to the person or persons who 'play' or are involved.

"Some persons condemn all forms of this activity. There are others who tolerate them in varying degrees. For example, many persons have no difficulty with raffles and door prizes, or with a game of bingo. These are isolated and individual events which are usually held for fundraising and charitable causes.


"Bahamians and Turks and Caicos Islanders will buy a raffle ticket, or a door prize ticket at an event, and give no second thought to it; they see it as harmless, as I believe these involvements to be.

"It is this reasoning that let the 108th session of our Diocesan Synod meeting in October, 2008, to approve the allowance of raffles by our Anglican Schools as a means of fundraising. This came after many years of a moratorium on the holding of raffles in the diocese that was put in place during the time of Bishop Michael Eldon."

The bishop said that Numbers, on the other hand, "is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week enterprise in which persons engage and which is definitely habit-forming and downright addictive for a majority of its participants. It is a system which is designed to exploit the participants so that the few will benefit at the expense of the many. "The modern-day reality is that this form of gambling is easily accessible to all via the internet, via numerous 'web shops' and via other means. Persons can play with as little as 10 cents. This easy access leads to widespread use by persons of all ages, classes, backgrounds and socio-economic standings.

"Why do we stand as a church opposed to its legalisation and subsequent taxation? It is a matter of morality and of the moral responsibility which leaders have for those whom they lead."

However, Mr Strachan said that the church has yet to prove that gambling has had a negative impact on morals in any way.

"The Numbers business has provided more jobs and charitable donations over the last 40 years. If the government uses numbers for a worthy cause then that too should be justifiable," Mr Strachan said.

May 19, 2010


Allyson Maynard-Gibson confirms decision not to run again

Maynard-Gibson confirms decision not to run again
Tribune Staff Reporter

IN the wake of Allyson Maynard-Gibson announcing that she will not run again in Pinewood in the next general election, PLP leader Perry Christie says his party is having difficulty "balancing the old with the new" as it moves to pin down its slate of candidates for the election battle.

Senator and former PLP cabinet minister Mrs Maynard-Gibson confirmed yesterday that she has declined a nomination from Mr Christie for the upcoming election, telling The Tribune she would like to give some younger candidates an opportunity to move up the political ladder.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview with this newspaper, Mr Christie said the party which he hopes to lead into the next election has been inundated with interest from potential candidates hoping to receive nominations to run under the party's banner.

With an anti-incumbent movement growing throughout the world, PLP leader Perry Christie said that his party is faced with the same challenge as scores of people have been lining up to represent the PLP in seats that already have sitting Members of Parliament.

However, while having six or seven candidates vying for any given constituency, Mr Christie said that the party is having difficulty balancing "the old with the new".

Mrs Maynard-Gibson is the second member of the "old guard" of PLPs who it is suggested will not offer again for the party in the next election. PLP MP for Fort Charlotte Alfred Sears is reportedly in consultation with his constituents as to whether or not to offer for re-election for the area.

Nonetheless, Mr Christie told The Tribune he is pleased to see the enthusiasm from younger members of the party.

"There has been a significant increase in young professionals wishing to enter public life on our side. It is really refreshing and bodes well for the future. Our only concern is there is not an equal amount of interest from women seeking to enter politics."

Mrs Gibson, as one of the most prominent female members of the party - and the second in a year to reveal her decision to step down from frontline politics, along with former deputy prime minister Cynthia "Mother" Pratt - says she will now focus on her role as a "mentor" to others outside of politics.

"Over the past five years, in other areas of my life, I have been an advocate for mentorship and I serve as a mentor. I tremendously enjoy this and find it very fulfilling," she said.

She said her determination to allow a younger generation to play a bigger role in the party is in keeping with her father's philosophy "that it is important to step aside to allow room for younger people and to help them prepare and excel at leadership."

"I would like to help the PLP find the right mix of experience and youthful, able enthusiasm that will propel it to victory in the next General Elections," said the former cabinet minister.

Mrs Maynard Gibson was appointed senator for the PLP after running unsuccessfully for the PLP in 2007. She was defeated by the FNM's Byron Woodside, in a result that was ultimately challenged but confirmed in favour of Mr Woodside in an election court challenge.

May 18, 2010


St. Andrews Presbyterian Kirks in The Bahamas are leaving the Church of Scotland over the church's first gay ordination

Local church to split from Scottish head over gay issue
By KRYSTEL ROLLE ~ Guardian Staff Reporter ~

The controversial homosexuality issue is reportedly splitting yet another church.

According to an international media report, the entire congregation of St. Andrews Presbyterian Kirk in downtown Nassau left the church after its minister, Rev. John MacLeod, resigned over the ordination in Scottland of Rev. Scott Rennie, the church's first gay ordination.

A statement from Rev. Scott Kirkland, who is the church's moderator, confirmed that the Presbyterian Kirks in The Bahamas are leaving the Church of Scotland.

However, it made no mention of whether the gay ordinance contributed to the decision. When contacted yesterday, representatives from the church told The Nassau Guardian that only Rev. Kirkland could address the issue but he was said to be attending the General Assembly in Edinburg, Scotland.

"After 200 years in Nassau and 42 years in Freeport, the Presbyterian Kirks will leave the Church of Scotland at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland this week," said the statement.

"Rev. Kirkland was delighted to report that though the planning has been ebbing and flowing for over 15 years, with happy agreement of the Church of Scotland, the timing is now ripe to leave the mother church."

The statement further notes that the American Presbyterian Church will help prepare the congregations for ultimately becoming the Presbyterian Church of The Bahamas.

"St. Andrews Nassau has the extra joy of inducting a fine, new young minister, Rev. Bryn MacPhail, on June 6, the same day that the congregation will formally mark their entry into the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.," the statement added.

According to the online news source, Herald Scotland, the congregation reportedly voted in favor of leaving the Kirk, almost immediately after approval of the assembly to join the fundamentalist Evangelical Presbyterian Church of America, which takes the position that homosexuality is against the scriptures.

The congregation reportedly voted overwhelming in favor of abandoning the Kirk.

MacLeod allegedly gave notice of his resignation after the General Assembly last year. This came after the Kirk's first openly gay minister, Rev. Scott Rennie, was appointed to head Queen's Cross Parish Church in Aberdeen, Scotland. The move caused dissension among many quarters of the Kirk community.

MacLeod, who has accepted a post elsewhere, reportedly said he resigned because of the controversy over the posting of Rennie in Aberdeen, the ban on public discussion of human sexuality and the Church's move "away from Biblical orthodoxy".

He was quoted in the Herald Scotland as saying: "It wasn't just the Scott Rennie thing, it was the general tenor of the General Assembly that I don't think is the way a church should do business. I think it is a shame that the Church of Scotland has tried to stifle the debate.

"I have had misgivings over the Church of Scotland for a number of years. I believe there is a general drift away from Biblical orthodoxy."

Over the last several years several churches have split over homosexual issues around the world.

According to the Associated Press, in 2007 an Episcopal diocese in central California voted to split with the national denomination over disagreements about the roles of homosexuals in the church.

In 2008, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, declared a formal split in the worldwide Anglican Communion over the consecration of openly gay clergy.

May 18, 2010


Monday, May 17, 2010

Bahamas Government to bring to Parliament a new Public Service Bill that would permit ex-convicts to be hired in the public sector

Move by government to hire ex-cons in the public service lauded
By KEVA LIGHTBOURNE ~ Guardian Senior Reporter ~

Government's intention to bring to Parliament a new Public Service Bill that would permit ex-convicts to be hired in the public sector has met with the approval of the head of the Bahamas Public Services Union John Pinder, who has thrown his support behind these individuals being given a second chance.

"I don't have much concerns about it. I support persons being given second chances. There are a number of persons who may have been in prison for minor offenses, some who through misfortune caused them to commit some crimes and they should be given another opportunity," Pinder told The Nassau Guardian.

"I believe it is fair that those persons who have rehabilitated themselves be given another opportunity. If persons have the expertise or persons do possess skills, I believe that is one way of rehabilitating persons when they are released from prison. They are able to find gainful employment and certainly with government being one of the largest employers in the country it has to lead by example to give persons second opportunities," he said.

His comments came just days after Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham made the announcement in the House of Assembly, as part of a comprehensive plan his administration is putting in place to address the burgeoning crime problem.

At the time Ingraham, who was contributing to the debate on a resolution to reappoint a select committee to address crime, said this is something that could have been done by governments of The Bahamas if they chose to.

"There is no law that says you cannot do so, there is a general order that says you cannot do so. Criminals should know that we are determined to implement every measure possible to reduce the opportunities they have to wreak havoc on our community," Ingraham reported. "Young people, who want to turn around their lives, should know that the community will provide them with the opportunities to contribute in their own way to the common good of our country. But young people, and older people who need to turn their lives around should not be lulled into believing that the government is their parent; that the government, using the public purse, will bail them out of every bad decision regardless of how many poor decisions they make."

Pinder was quick to add that the first consideration should be given to all those persons who have worked in the public service for a number of years and have yet to be established.

"Certainly, I would like for them to be given first preference in being able to fill any vacancies that exist in the public service. I also hope that the prime minister with his new amendments would speak to those persons who have the ability to actually run for political office who work in the public service, to be given the opportunity to also do so, and upon not being successful being able to still come back to the public service," Pinder said.

"The reason I say this is a number of businesspersons or rich persons, wealthy persons, normally offer themselves for political office but they really do not have any experience managing government agencies or even having experience of knowing exactly how the government system functions. I believe that is another important aspect to amendment to the public service regulations," he said, adding that the regulations should also speak to a more modernized public service.

May 17. 2010


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Attorney General John Delaney denies port conflict

AG denies port conflict
By KEVA LIGHTBOURNE ~ Guardian Senior Reporter ~

Attorney General John Delaney yesterday dismissed a suggestion that there is a possible conflict of interest with his office acting as the lawyer for the government in the Arawak Cay Port deal and the law firm where he used to be a partner representing the Arawak Cay Port Development Company.

Delaney, who was speaking in the Senate, made it clear that no such position arises as he has excluded himself from any involvement with regard to the matter.

The question of conflict of interest arose when Opposition Senate Leader Allyson Maynard-Gibson called on the government to make a very clear statement on the issue to the Bahamian people so they would be assured that no conflict of interest exists.

Delaney said, "I wish to make it clear that I am a former partner of Higgs and Johnson. I am no longer a partner. There was an inference made by Senator Gibson, who referred to Higgs and Johnson being the attorneys for the Arawak Cay Port Company and me being the attorney general, by inference suggesting that there may be a conflict. In fact, she said she hopes there were none.

"Well I can confirm that in fact there is none. I want to make it clear that I am a former partner of Higgs and Johnson. I am no longer a partner at Higgs and Johnson and moreover I have had absolutely no contact whatsoever in the Office of the Attorney General with respect to this particular matter."

He added, "I insisted that I had absolutely no contact with that matter or indeed any other matter that my firm might have been involved with when I was a partner."

But Maynard-Gibson insisted: "I never said anything about him at all. The attorney general's office is the government's lawyer. That is a fact."

The government has been negotiating with local shipping interests for 18 months to establish the new port at Arawak Cay. A deal with 19 private shareholders was signed on Monday to create the new $65 million port.

The goal is that all commercial shipping will move from Bay Street by Christmas, opening up the city's center for redevelopment. The joint enterprise will be known as the APD Limited.

Delaney was a member of the law firm Higgs and Johnson and managing partner since 2007. He was appointed attorney general last November.

May 14, 2010


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Arawak Cay port development: A port Perry Christie cannot change

A port Christie cannot change
tribune242 editorial:

OPPOSITION Leader Perry Christie must have been in jesting mood when he threatened would-be investors that he would reverse any agreement signed with the Ingraham government that would locate the $65 million container port at Arawak Cay.

And to put the final seal on the threat, he declared that he was the person who would win the next general election. We pause here to suggest that were the PLP to win the 2012 election, Mr Christie, as leader, would be taking the Gordon Brown exit through the back door. We certainly never expect to see him prime minister again.

However, we all know that were he to try to change this agreement, before he could complete the first pirouette of the Christie shuffle he would be so buried in law suits that he would not be able to dig his way out -- nor would his followers be able to dig their way in to find him.

And now that Prime Minister Ingraham has secured the agreement with so many iron hoops, any hope of Mr Christie changing one tittle is no longer in the realm of possibility. It is as foolish of him to have made those threats as it was of Paul Adderley, many years ago on behalf of the PLP, to threaten Sol Kerzner that should Mr Ingraham lose the 2002 election he would have to renegotiate the Paradise Island agreement with the PLP government. The PLP lost the election. The Paradise Island resort was built in record time and became the catalyst that revitalised this country's tourist industry. Seeing Mr Kerzner take the plunge in a country written off as bad news, many substantial investors -- not drug kingpins as happened under the PLP-- followed. It was the turning point that led to this country's comeback.

"No successor government likes to contemplate having to renegotiate its predecessors' agreements, even bad agreements particularly with foreign investors," Mr Adderley told Mr Kerzner. "But this agreement is so bad, so exploitive -- that every Bahamian, including those who still support the Prime Minister together with the international finance community, would applaud a renegotiation."

We don't know who he thought he was fooling with such bombastic words and bullying tactics, but it was all a bunch of nonsense. All those who supported Mr Adderley in such puny thoughts, should turn their heads in shame today as they pass the Atlantis resort, a resort that saved this country's bacon during its rejected years. Mr Christie could not have been one of their number at that time because for the five years that he headed the Bahamas government it was openly talked that his one ambition was to leave the BahaMar resort on Cable Beach as his legacy to match Mr Ingraham's legacy -- Atlantis, Paradise Island. However, he missed the mark because of his indecisiveness -- as usual he had not signed the final agreement when time came for the changing of the guard.

And now to talk of relocating the container port when, according to him, he becomes prime minister is really a pathetic joke.

He says that given a second chance, he would move the port to his and his party's preferred location on the island's southwestern shores.

At the time that the 2005 Environmental Impact Assessment study was completed for the proposed commercial shipping facilities, the PLP government made the public believe that the southwest Bahamas was the location recommended by the independent advisers. It was only after the PLP was removed from the government that it was discovered that the public had been told a half truth.

As Tribune Business pointed out in an article last year, "based on the criteria employed by Coastal Systems International's assessment team, Arawak Cay scored 12 points, compared to the southwestern port site's 10 points on environmental impact. Where Arawak Cay rated especially high was on the minimal impact to the terrestrial environment and water quality."

However, Arawak Cay lost out because it did not fit in with the Christie administration's preferred site for its long-term master planning. That master plan took in a wide sweep of the southwest, where all kinds of developments, including private, had been planned. This excluded Arawak Cay.

Anyway, the guarantee of a 20-year exclusivity period for the Arawak Cay port development makes it impossible for Mr Christie or any other government to contemplate a change of venue.

The agreement is made exclusive for a 20-year period for not only all of New Providence and Paradise Island, but also within 20 miles of the shoreline and any other port for the landing of containerized, bulk or break bulk cargo or vehicles.

Anyway, Mr Christie's little joke was a good laugh while it lasted.

May 14, 2010


Friday, May 14, 2010

Bahamians have to learn that they cannot change their history to accommodate their political agenda

History can't be changed to suit politics editorial:

A CALLER to the Krissy Love radio talk show last week - in a discussion as to whether the image of Sir Stafford Sands should be on our $10 bill - said that to understand Sir Stafford one would have to understand the times in which he lived.

"Sir Stafford Sands was a creature of his times," said the caller. "It was the times in which he lived that made him think the way he did and do the things that he did." In his opinion Bahamians were not sufficiently mature to accept that position, but in fact that is the way all history should be understood -- in its own context, in its own time. To do otherwise would distort the facts.

The times in which Sir Stafford lived were times of racial prejudice.

A person of colour could not go to such public places as theatres, hotels, restaurants or even Bay Street barbers who cut only the white man's hair. Sir Stafford bought into the idea introduced to these islands in an earlier generation by American hotelier Henry Flagler, who in 1898 built the British Colonial Hotel (then a wooden building) and convinced the Bahamian power structure of those days that white Americans, particularly those from the south, would not frequent the islands if there was a mixing of the races.

And so to protect the tourist industry that he had taken from a short term winter resort to a year-round money spinner, Sir Stafford was intent on keeping the hotels, and any area that a visitor might frequent, exclusive.

This was a matter over which Sir Stafford and Sir Etienne Dupuch -- who in 1956 was threatened with arrest on the floor of the House when he introduced a Resolution to break down racial discrimination in public places -- battled for most of their political lives. Eventually Sir Stafford saw the light, but as Sir Etienne was to write of his friend on his death, it was too late when the scales fell from his eyes.

"If you want to see a monument to the business genius of a man...look around you in the colony today," Sir Etienne wrote in 1972. "Still... he was not a wise man in the all-important area of human relations. The time came when Stafford saw the light. But it was too late..." However, it was not too late for these two strong men in their personal relations. They each respected the other, and in the end the two arch enemies closed their lives, the closest of friends.

Sir Stafford was an enigma. There were those who called him a racist. There were others, mostly persons of colour, who would resent such a suggestion. There were two sides to the man.

One caller to the Krissy Love show was one of the many who could say with all sincerity: "I don't think he was that much of a racist. He was good for black people." She said her aunt was a nanny for Sir Stafford's daughter, and she as a child wore many of his daughter's hand-me-downs. "He was good to us, we were so poor."

There was another, a constituent in his City district, who told of his concern for his constituents who had outside toilets and how he gave them money to improve their situation.

In 1940, said another caller, "our economy was rock bottom -- there was nothing in this country, there was no way out for us." She said Sir Stafford took his own money and went around the world to build the country's tourist industry and because he was white he was able to bring people in. He took the police band on his trips with him. "They were all blacks," she said, "he ensured that they had good rooms in hotels, he ensured they were treated with respect and he joined them in their rooms. His own money paid for these trips."

She told how he took care of the entertainers and how he made certain that such Over the Hill nightclubs as the Cat and Fiddle and Silver Slipper prospered.

Troubadour Nat Saunders was on the show and admitted that as far as entertainers were concerned the UBP government was better for them than their own black government. On another occasion and in a different context, entertainer Leroy "Duke" Hanna said: "Sir Stafford Sands projected us, all of us, the great bands headed by people like Freddie Munnings Sr, the musicians, the dancers, the singers, the showmen...Sir Stafford made sure we were there on every tourist campaign trip. Culture was tops and well appreciated under Sir Stafford and his colleagues. But it just started dying after 1967..."

Yes, it started dying as the race card was being played loud and clear to create hatred and suspicion for the purpose of dividing Bahamians and winning elections.

Today, the PLP and those tainted with their racial hatreds have come, in the words of Mark Antony at the bier of Julius Caesar, not to praise him, but to inter the good that he has done in this country with his bones, so that whatever evil they might have perceived in him can grow, prosper and be enshrined for posterity. However, Sir Stafford touched and uplifted so many Bahamian lives that we do not think that Fred Mitchell and his ilk will be able to strike him from the $10 bill in the future.

As one caller told Krissy Love, Bahamians have to learn they cannot change their history to accommodate their political agenda. And, what we must also remember: The history of the Bahamas did not start in 1967. Many sacrifices were made by many Bahamians before then to make the successes of 1967 possible.

May 13, 2010