Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The protection of animals from abuse and neglect in The Bahamas: There is a widespread culture of brutality against animals...The stories of dogs and cats being beaten to death, lit on fire, decapitated, are too numerous to ignore... And, the links uncovered by mental health experts between animal cruelty and the other forms of violence and deviance makes this an issue that should be on everyone's agenda in a country plagued with crime and anti-social behaviour
"The picking up of dogs
is not going to cure the problem - what's going
to cure the problem is
getting the animals spayed and neutered, keeping
dogs in your yard, and if
you want it to have puppies, you must find homes for those puppies and then
have them spayed. It's a
people problem, it's not
an animal problem."
-- Bahamas Humane Society President Kim Aranha
By PACO NUNEZ
Tribune News Editor
Animal rights activists say they were caught off guard by Minister of Agriculture Larry Cartwright's announcement that Animal Protection and Control Act has been in effect in New Providence for the greater part of a month.
The Act contains provisions for an animal control board and corps of wardens with the power to investigate claims of abuse and neglect, but the Bahamas Humane Society and other groups say they haven't been contacted to take part in either, despite being promised they would.
Instead, it seems the government has chosen to rely on authorities already in existence before the new Act was passed, particularly the Animal Control Unit that runs the notorious government pound.
In making this announcement, Mr Cartwright said: "The laws are only as good as the enforcement. That is our hope."
But how far the minister can have cause to be hopeful depends on how qualified members of this unit are to enforce the provisions of the new law, and animal rights campaigners who spoke to Insight are somewhat less than optimistic.
As the name implies, there are two aspects to the Act - animal protection and animal control. The unit has always been associated with the latter.
When interviewed in 2009, its supervisor Kirkland Glinton characterised their role as controlling a potential public health issue.
Their task, he said, is to round up stray animals in order to "remove the disease element from the population."
The unit captures and euthanises around 50 dogs a week, but this has little impact on the number wandering the streets of New Providence.
Mr Glinton admitted that by the time 50 dogs are collected and killed, another 50 have already appeared in the same areas.
To make any progress at all on the control front, the unit's staff require more support, training and education, the administrators said in 2009.
They also called for an additional 15 or 20 staff to help run the unit; more equipment, ranging from vehicles and traps to animal food, cleaning agents and syringes; building repairs, and a facility where animals can be tested for diseases to separate the healthy from the ill.
According to a number of animal rights activists that take an interest in the unit's activities, nothing has changed over the last two years.
One said: "There has been no training of any kind. The unit is still manned by the same number of people and conditions haven't improved at all."
So much for control.
But what of the other aspect of the Act - the protection of animals from abuse and neglect?
That there is a widespread culture of brutality against animals no one denies. The stories of dogs and cats being beaten to death, lit on fire, decapitated, are too numerous to ignore.
And, the links uncovered by mental health experts between animal cruelty and the other forms of violence and deviance makes this an issue that should be on everyone's agenda in a country plagued with crime and anti-social behaviour.
But far from contributing to the protection of animals, the unit has been accused in the past of actually adding to the problem.
Before the Tribune's interview with the unit's administrators in 2009, a 14-year-old student wrote to the newspaper to share the horrors he claimed to have seen at the pound.
He described: a live dog locked in a kennel with a dead dog, faeces covering the floors of the kennels, and animals locked up without food and water.
His complaints sparked public outrage and the formation of an activist group demanding better conditions at the pound. It quickly attracted more than 500 members.
The Ministry of Agriculture was quick to issue a statement denying the claims and chastising the young boy, but an unannounced visit from The Tribune confirmed the substandard conditions.
If there have been any changes in the past two years, they have been invisible to animal cruelty campaigners.
How then, are we to trust this unit to protect animals from violence at the hands of humans?
The new Act does contain stiffer fines and penalties for those who abuse and neglect their pets, but the problem was never that an offender could not be deterred because the consequences were too light; but rather that he or she usually never actually faced any - despite the existence of fines and penalties under the old laws.
The Cabinet has chosen to implement the act in New Providence first, precisely because there is an Animal Control Unit here. Yet in Grand Bahama, where the lack of a government agency has caused the local Humane Society to take the lead, much more has been done in recent years to enforce animal cruelty laws.
This included one or two high profile prosecutions and awards being offered for information when an abused animal is discovered. I don't remember the last time any of this happened in Nassau.
The example of Grand Bahama points the way to how the Act should be implemented: those who have been trained and have experience in animal control should be better supported in their efforts, but wherever possible, the power of enforcement should be placed in the hands of the campaigners and volunteers who care deeply about animals and who already dedicate time and energy to the improvement of their lot.
These should be the government's new wardens, and should be given the authority to call in law enforcement at the slightest sign of animal abuse or neglect.
Only then can we have any real hope of breaking the culture of contempt for the rights of animals which has led to our stray problem in the first place.
At the end of the day, protection is the best form of control.
* What do you think?
November 28, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
The current state of Bahamian politics and suggestions for what is required for the future political and socio-economic development of The Bahamas and the Bahamian people (Part-2)
Who’s looking in the mirror? Part II
By Raynard Rigby
This is the second and final part of a two-part series which examines the current state of Bahamian politics and makes suggestions for what is required for the future political and socio-economic development of The Bahamas and the Bahamian people. In Part I, we examined the state of our current political leadership and the need for new dynamic visionary leadership.
A vision for the future
A compelling argument can be made that The Bahamas has not really had a progressive agenda since the 1980s. We have been on a singular path to economic development: foreign intervention by an investor directed at the tourist sector and real estate sales. This has led to a narrowed path to development. Both the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM), under Christie and Ingraham, have not sought to craft a meaningful policy so as to lead to the Bahamianization of the economy. Christie as prime minister often boasted about the billions of dollars that were attracted to the country during his single term. This was the clearest sign that his ideology was grounded in a view of the country that the economy could only be expanded by the foreign ‘savior’. His philosophy was identical to that of Ingraham, who is able to take credit for the rejuvenation of the tourism sector when Sol Kerzner came off the plane and transformed the Paradise Island plant. No one can honestly criticize the brilliance of Kerzner and his long-term impact on the national tourism product.
In the midst of our economic successes (limitedly defined by the provision of meager paying jobs) there has been no public recognition for the gifts that are housed in the Bahamian soul; of industry, hard work, creativity and a unique spirit to withstand poverty and economic downturns. Yet, there are those who wear red, gold and now green, who in their quiet moments, dream of a better Bahamas. This dream is centered on a better life and a larger share of the economic pie.
In the recent PLP mini-convention on the economy, I was shocked that no substantive talk was centered on the expansion of the economy to allow for greater Bahamian participation. No talk of economic diversification with the attendant specific plans. No promise of a LNG industry with the introduction of stiff regulations. Not a whisper of oil exploration and the introduction of the comprehensive regulatory laws. No promise to establish a Ministry of National Development to ensure that within a specific targeted period that there will be a deliberate push to create an expanded entrepreneurial base. Not even a whisper for the need, a national imperative, to craft a policy to guarantee the ownership by Bahamians of banks and hotels and major businesses. So for me, there was a deep sense of disappointment and a confirmation that there still remains today a profound lack of vision in framing a progressive statement by the PLP, as many would expect. The PLP is expected to be the premier champion of an agenda that has at its core the principles of shared-prosperity amongst the citizenry. This event was for me a startling confirmation that the PLP today, some months from a general election, still lacks a vision for the future (perhaps other than Urban Renewal 2.0).
Our future – what about crime?
In my discussions with many young and middle-aged Bahamians I sense a growing frustration about what they perceive the future will bring. Many have fears of crime and the increasing criminality, yet they know that both parties are guilty of playing politics with crime, blaming each other and demanding the then sitting minister to resign. It was then Deputy Prime Minister Cynthia Pratt in 2002-2007; and now Minister Tommy Turnquest has had to face the same silly and naive onslaught. Sensible Bahamians know that no politician can fix the crime issue. And those same Bahamians know that Urban Renewal (whether 1.0 or 2.0), the stellar PLP solution, is not the panacea for crime. The truth is that the FNM’s and the PLP’s so-called solutions for crime are similar in that they are both predominantly focused on the aftermath of crime – that is, the steps to catch the criminal and keep him locked away for years. No politician and no leader have addressed the question about the lack of assimilation by the majority of Bahamians of Haitian lineage; and they have been deathly silent on the effects and frustrations of those who are stateless. And what about the fact that too many young Bahamians have no path and no interest in playing a meaningful role in the mainstay economy.
Too, we must recognize that we are reaping the effects of the drug culture, the get rich fast and easy culture.
No plan has addressed the systematic challenges that increased poverty has brought on for far too many families, some due to the fact that they are single parent homes, underpayment of salaries and a lack of educational opportunities for mobility. On the latter, I have been so disappointed in the PLP by the fact that we kept in place a loan scholarship program which is a failure of the realities that there are still far too many Bahamians who cannot afford a tertiary or post graduate education. I know that I would not have earned two degrees without the bonded scholarship scheme. The PLP has betrayed its philosophy on this (and other) issue(s).
Many too have a deepening frustration about the state of the educational system and the high percentage of those who still graduate without being able to read, write or do basic arithmetic. Perry Christie has promised to double the national budget’s contribution to education. He has on two separate occasions failed to explain where he is going to increase the nation’s revenue stream to make this promise a reality. He has also failed to explain to the public how the money will be spent and what will be the measurable and attainable goals. He has not said that the school year and days will be extended. He has not promised to increase the salaries of teachers to encourage an expansion in the local talent pool. And he has not even suggested that there will be attempts to determine and thereby to introduce same-sex schools to foster improved performance amongst boys. In this era of increased knowledge, our political leaders must talk sense and this means sharing details and not engaging in sheer rhetoric and bald empty promises. The leader must have credibility of ideas and must recognize that there are intelligent Bahamians who will dissect ideas to ensure that they follow a pattern of logic and commonsense.
On the other hand, Hubert Ingraham boasts that he is a doer, and that Christie is a mere talker. This descriptive analogy of the two was made during the recent debate on the rules to govern the multimillion dollar straw market. Well, truth is that the PLP didn’t build the market in its term (2002 to 2007), notwithstanding the fact that the profile of a straw vendor is expected to be a PLP supporter or sympathizer. For some voters, Ingraham’s characterization of Christie bears truth. Ingraham though is no angel. He has some challenges in his style of governance. In this era of informed-participation, the Bahamian people expect a leader who can make decisions but who is also prepared to engage the electorate in national conversations and constructive dialogue.
Additionally, the Bahamian people expect a leader who has a vision for the country that is beyond a five-year cycle. Both the PLP and the FNM have published limited manifestos or action agendas that only set out their promises for a single term in office. Cassius Stuart, when he was leader of the Bahamas Democratic Movement (BDM) (I struggled to remember the party’s name), often spoke of a national development plan spanning beyond 10 years. He was dead right and on point. None of our current leaders understand this. They are lazy dreamers. They are not long-term planners and they have no sense that they are called upon to lead a people. Sir Lynden Pindling was masterful at this. He shared a vision and a plan. You could close your eyes and see where you or your children could be in 10 or 20 years. He campaigned on a message that gave goosebumps because it revealed a future that was far beyond one’s own imagination. He forced people to think of themselves, of better, of the future as a success for them, and for our nation as having an untapped potential. He was a visionary par excellence. But, Christie and Ingraham have failed their teacher. They have brought our local politics to a five-year plan – shortsighted, easy and small achievements, no large plan that transcends generations and that causes for a transformation in our thinking and our individual approaches. And as a result, the country and her people are stagnated in a fixed circle of small and meaningless achievements and potential and we are being dragged down a road of a hopeless and less rewarding future.
What is now needed is leadership on ideas
The Bahamas is at the stage that we require a new league of leaders. Where are the Lynden Pindlings, Arthur Hannas and men like Arthur Foulkes and Stafford Sands (yes I called his name) of this century and time? Where are the men of vision who are prepared to try new things and prepared to think big? Where are the thinkers, the dreamers?
I believe that there is an abundance of talented and visionary (should I say young) leaders in this country. But they are shy of the profound silliness that occurs in the political process. They do not propose to worship mediocre leaders who are frightened to recognize that their time has come and gone. They too are not so naive to believe that the presence of one of them on the stage signals a dramatic change in our politics. They are convinced that far too many Bahamians do not wish to be ‘saved’ from the idiosyncrasies of a political system that favors and graduates the corrupt and the fool. So, they retreat to a solemn place of thinking, analysis and private conversations where their frustrations are felt in every word and their passion for a better future is unmatched and unsurpassed by anyone in elected office.
There should be a recognition that we need them now; that they must step forth and be the promoters of ideas and of sound thinking. Our country’s current path mandates that they step forth with boldness and with a passion to serve the people, not a political party or an undeserving and ill-prepared leader, but the people. But then they look in the mirror and see a face of discontent and of a hypocrisy that they once criticized. And then they realize their presence whilst critical will not change the current dispensation because there are far too many ‘unbelievers’ on the stage who demand prominence and in whose hands lay the guided trust of the same undeserving leader, and so they smartly retreat.
So, the question remains where are our new visionary leaders?
I am sure that it is a matter of choice. Do you step forth and be a part of the push towards a sensible solution for the national good even if it means that your voice will stand alone? Or do you play a role outside of politics to compel those in office to recognize that they are not ‘gods’ but servants of the people who are subject to public criticism and scrutiny? They must follow the path that will be true to the Bahamian people and that will lead to a more fair and just nation. This means that there must be a willingness by all Bahamians to openly speak about our future and to chart a course that guarantees our collective and national development towards a future that is progressive and prosperous for the vast majority of Bahamians; not just the white Bay Street or the small black elite.
Our course must be to deepen our economic opportunities to ensure that there are no glass ceilings and an economic elevator that goes freely to all floors landing some on paths of surpassed economic expectations and that allows others to flow to the top based on their commitment to hard work, creativity, non-discriminatory access to capital and a nation that rewards its best and brightest.
These are not easy goals, yet they are all attainable if we work together to craft a national resolve to discipline, hard work and industry. The standards of mediocrity must be buried and in its place must shine a national call to sacrifice, to ‘We-ism’ and a unified commitment to pursue a vision, and its clearly defined course, that provides a better future for our people. This is hard work. But we must pursue it to fulfill the hopes, vision and the expectations of our forefathers and foremothers.
Pindling, like Martin Luther King Jr. who dreamed of a better America, dreamed of a better Bahamas for all Bahamians. In his lifetime, he achieved much for his people and he lived long enough to know that we still had much ‘land to possess’. If he was alive I am sure that he would be demanding a return to national excellence and would be exhorting all of us to not rest on our laurels but to continue to uphold the old Bahamian traditions of sacrifice and hard work. For me, Pindling remains an inspiration for what can be achieved with great and visionary leadership, called and inspired by God.
I remain hopeful that this present course that we are on will end when the two leaders of the FNM and the PLP will look in the mirror and say to themselves ‘I have done my part, time for me to leave this office and pass the baton to those who are ready to lead and to usher in a new era of great and visionary leadership’. I often wonder if they ever look into the mirror and hear loud voices ringing in their heads, not cries of exhortations but of despair and a dying hope. Perhaps we should stand in their paths with our individual mirrors so that they can hear our loud voices, so that they can do what honorable men are expected to do in such times of crisis and national yearning.
My mirror is always in my pocket waiting and hoping for that moment when I will see them so that the process can begin of bringing about a new era of our politics, one based on vision, a progressive agenda and leadership of substance over style, dance moves and empty rhetoric. Where is your mirror? Is it ready for a generational change in our nation’s leadership? I hope so. This boat is sinking.
Writer’s Note: It is a fact that in the PLP cabinet of 2002 to 2007, no minister was under the age of 40 years. The same cannot be true of other administrations after Independence, including that of Ingraham. There were three PLP cabinet ministers in the PLP government in 2002 who were under the age of 45 in 2002 at the time of their appointment. This corrects an error that appeared in Part I.
Raynard Rigby is a practicing attorney-at-law and he is a former national chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party (Nov. 2002-Feb. 2008). He is the author of “A Blueprint for the Future of The Bahamas” (July, 2008) and “The Urgency for Change in the PLP” (2009). He remains an avid commentator on matters of national interest and importance.
Nov 21, 2011The current state of Bahamian politics and suggestions for what is required for the future political and socio-economic development of The Bahamas and the Bahamian people (Part-1)
Meet the candidates: A look at the prospective future leaders of the FNM
By ADRIAN GIBSON
With the 2012 general elections likely being the last election that PM Hubert Ingraham would lead the FNM into, one notes that in a post-Ingraham era—perhaps 2017—the FNM may find itself at a crossroad in terms of leadership. Whenever the Chief decides to depart the political scene, the impending leadership showdown within the FNM will be great theatre. As it stands, there is a conga line of leadership hopefuls, minor also-ran pretenders and plenty of peripheral figures.
No doubt, there will be persons vying for the leadership whose smug giddiness, jack-in-the-box outlooks and sulfurous presence in a runoff could setoff alarm bells. One can only imagine the great setback the party would suffer if such individuals were designated as leader. These days, Bahamians are tired of hearing meaningless missives by garrulous airheads seeking their support only to disappear into the abyss once they have it.
When it comes to the future leadership of both major parties, as it currently stands, the political cupboards are somewhat bare. Although there is a fluid field littered with leadership contenders and pretenders, there is no heir apparent for the FNM’s leadership. Frankly, when the time comes for the FNM to choose a future leader, there will be a need for a far-sighted, energetic and inspiring leader who can articulate a vision for our nation and who is decisive, reasonable and a good listener. As I look at the prospective future leaders of the FNM, if anyone has been overlooked or left out, it means that—at present— their candidacy would be of no significance in any leadership race within the FNM.
PM Ingraham, the FNM’s current leader, is a political legend who overthrew a political godfather (Sir Lynden Pindling) in a head-to-head matchup. Mr Ingraham, who is seen as a man of the people, has connected with a broad swath of the public and has rightly become a feared, revered and beloved figure. Since this is likely the last election he would lead the FNM into battle—he has indicated that he would retire after another term or if the FNM loses the election—today we’ll examine the chances of the persons seen as likely successors of Mr Ingraham.
Tommy Turnquest, the former leader of the FNM, appears to be too indistinct and unpopular to win a caucus within the party and, even more, win a general election. His term as leader was mired in mediocrity and, his current term as National Security minister, has been a long, stupendously ineffective blur!
It is difficult to describe Mr Turnquest as politically analytical and intuitive and, moreover, he seems remote—constantly being read as emanating a sense of separateness. The minister has been able to competently manage Parliamentary affairs as the leader of government business in the House of Assembly. Mr Turnquest is likely to be a part of any leadership clash as he has a prominent name in the FNM and his political naval string is buried in the party.
Carl Bethel has become the nowhere man of Bahamian politics. Mr Bethel has been said to have alienated many voters—both in the internal fabric of the FNM and within his constituency—and was previously beaten by DPM Brent Symonette in the deputy leadership race during the party’s 2005 convention.
Party sources assert that Mr Bethel considers himself a strong contender to succeed Mr Ingraham. That said, Mr Bethel is seen to be an arrogant no-hoper who could only win a race for the FNM’s leadership in his fitful and fanciful dreams. There are those in the hierarchy of the FNM and among the party’s council members who consider Mr Bethel a posturing wannabe whose fantasies about becoming Prime Minister will follow him into old age!
Due to Carl Bethel’s calamitous political record, particularly during his last posting at the Ministry of Education—of which he was relieved by PM Ingraham—one party insider wondered if he could effectively run a concession stand, weighed against a political party or our archipelagic country?
Bran McCartney. Surprise! Yes, I said it.
Bran McCartney was on the fast track to becoming the face of the FNM. The current leader of the DNA, who emerged from the belly of the FNM, may not be seen as trustworthy if he abandons the DNA and returns to the FNM. I think that one day, after PM Ingraham leaves the front line, he will!
So, does McCartney stand a chance in a hall of convention delegates after “severing” all ties with the party? Will he remain divorced from the FNM or seek a remarriage? Is the DNA Mr McCartney’s stage for his very own bigheaded and self-important posturing and pontificating with the expectation of impressing the council of the FNM with his organizational and leadership abilities? After all, he would be the only challenger—post-Ingraham—who has ‘leadership experience’, right?
Desmond Bannister has been the most competent Minister of Education in many moons. His youth, coupled with his attention to detail, energy and poise and political appeal, makes him a strong contender to succeed PM Ingraham as FNM leader. If Mr Bannister wins the North Andros seat—leaving a relatively secure seat in Carmichael to vie to represent his traditionally PLP hometown—it would be a strategic move that should make a statement as to his future in the FNM and about his ability to capture even the imagination of the PLP’s base.
Bannister is intelligent, erudite and cool under fire. His sober minded outlook and perceived common touch makes him one of the best bets to lead the FNM in a post-Ingraham era.
Dion ‘The Bruiser’ Foulkes, who is also a hands-on people’s person, will no doubt throw his hat into the leadership rumble. Foulkes is a charismatic politician whose family ties are entrenched in the FNM. If he wins his seat, that would bring added credence to his leadership chances.
Although he’s currently playing second banana, Brent Symonette is not to be underestimated politically. Whilst there are some who would vigorously oppose his ascension to the leadership, Mr Symonette is said to be a down-to-earth chap who has one of the safest seats in Parliament and is said to be so good on the ground that he’s referred to as a political groundhog during campaigns. That said, Mr Symonette’s detractors feel that he could alienate some voters, thereby making his trek to the top even more difficult.
Dr Duane Sands—whilst at this juncture a political featherweight—could win a seat and purportedly garner support in succeeding Mr Ingraham. I have long heard that Sands would be one of Mr Ingraham’s favorites in the race to succeed him. That said, will Dr Sands have the political horsepower to successfully overthrow a long line of seasoned contenders for the leadership?
Zhivargo Laing will lose his voice after Mr Ingraham’s departure. Frankly, his political career might simply implode! There are many persons who have come to see Laing as a second-rate imitator of PM Ingraham and as another man with forlorn hopes of leading the FNM. By all accounts, Mr Laing is not well-liked, seems intolerant to divergent views and, relative to the leadership, is attempting to step into a pair of oversized shoes.
If Mr Laing is thrusted to the leadership of the party, I doubt that the national electorate would have much to do as his constituents will likely ensure that he doesn’t have a chance—and, frankly, one must be elected to become Prime Minister. Mr Laing would need to be situated in a 100 per cent guaranteed FNM seat.
Dr Hubert Minnis is a respected voice who is gliding under the radar and quietly becoming one of the strongest contenders for the leadership. Dr Minnis is a one-of-a-kind presence and a tactical populist, who would be a top-tier candidate. He is one of the odds-on favorites to lead the party post-Ingraham, has eclipsed many longer tenured MPs in popularity and has proven to be a good policy administrator in his capacity as Health Minister.
So, who will it be? Could either Bannister or Minnis emerge as leader? It is likely.
Is the next FNM leader among the other potential challengers? Or, is the next FNM leader a dark horse candidate who has yet to grace the political scene or could it be someone from outside of the traditional FNM core, perhaps from another party? Admittedly, we’ve also seen that before. Time will tell…...in the meantime, next week I’ll take a look at the PLP’s likely leadership challengers post-Perry Christie.
Caribbean Blog International
Sunday, November 27, 2011
I have received a number of comments on my initial piece in relations to the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) election strategy - dated November 26, 2011, from a number of supporters of the party in question. The gist of their reactions was that if the DNA wins a few seats, they feel that they would have enough turncoats in the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), and Free National Movement (FNM) to form a Democratic National Alliance (DNA) government in The Bahamas.
Well what is this!?
How could a minor political party expect elected members of two major organizations to join them in mass to form an administration in The Bahamas? The DNA is obviously living a political fantasy in a castle in the sky; and so called intelligent Bahamians have bought in to the Democratic National Alliance con game on the nation.
They don’t expect to win outright, they don’t expect to pull any deals with the major parties to form a government - if the opportunity presents, and they are blindly confident of PLP and FNM elected traitors coming over to their side to form the next Bahamas government – if push comes to shove.
It is safe to assume that the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is banking on political chaos after the results are confirmed following the 2012 general election. In this way, the spotlight and pressure could be on the respective leaders of the PLP and FNM; Messrs Christie and Ingraham. The Progressive liberal Party, and Free National Movement supporters could turned against their skippers in an atmosphere of political confusion and turmoil; and the Democratic National Alliance would relish irrationally in the uncertainty.
There must be a winner when the smoke clears though, even if it means a re-run of the election.
Here is where we the Bahamian people need to seriously consider who we are going to vote for, and our reasons for doing so. Are we going to vote for a DNA political stalemate and service Branville McCartney and Co’s ego or what?
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is not ready to govern on day one, because they expect to fall well short of the new 20 (twenty) member majority needed for a decisive victory. They would tell anyone who would listen, that they do not expect to win the 2012 election. They are relying on FNM and PLP double agents to pull them through.
It’s a long shot, and a very unrepresentative diversion being played on the Bahamian electorate by the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) – in my humble opinion.
Caribbean Blog International
Saturday, November 26, 2011
As I travel throughout New Providence communities and listen to the various perspectives on the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), one view dominates the people’s opinions. That is that the DNA will win some seats, but it will be well short of a decisive election victory for them; but they could muster enough parliamentary representation to determine the ultimate general election winner.
Well, if the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) finds itself in the position of influencing the next government of The Bahamas through a coalition arrangement, how could it be possible for them to form an administration with the established Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) or free National Movement (FNM) when they consider both political organizations to be out of touch with the vision of a 21 century Bahamas and Bahamian people?
Herein lays the madness of the Democratic Alliance; as the general public – including many DNA supporters believe that the party could only play a spoiler’s role in the 2012 general election. The DNA game looks like a political con on the Bahamian people, because an outright victory for them appears remotely impossible, and it’s this writer’s view that they are not open to a partnership with any of the two major parties – if circumstances present them self.
When we look at New Providence where more than half of the political constituencies are concentrated and boundary changes and lines are becoming clear to all, one must ask oneself: which districts are winnable for the DNA? Eastern, western, northern, southern and central Nassau will be very unkind to the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) – in my view. The best that they could do is influence which PLP or FNM standard bearers will be victorious.
This reminds me of the 1977 general election where an intensely splintered opposition provided the ideal chemistry for the ruling party’s victory. This is something that Branville McCartney - the DNA leader should not be proud about in the end.
It will defeat the purpose of real political change in The Bahamas, and the Moral of the story would be: unite for victory, and divide and get beat.
The DNA is presently engaging in an all-out air political assault where they are busy sending e-mail updates on their activities to persons on their list, and using online platforms like Facebook and Twitter to connect with potential voters. They have yet to begin a well planned and organized ground blitz in the various constituencies. Apparently, they do not see the wisdom of getting a head-start in the field, or they simply don’t care.
One young voter remarked recently that he hasn’t seen anybody yet, despite the reality that a general election is just around the corner. I have been hearing a lot of similar sentiments lately. This is bad news for the DNA; they have not effectively capitalized on the momentum that followed their launch earlier this year, in my opinion. The ground is where they should be by now, instead of the political group orgies and partying among their converts. Stop making fellow DNAs feel good with street rallies, and Party Hardy; and hit the road Jack!
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) has not convinced the Bahamian electorate to get on board their ship in prizewinning numbers to date, and with a general election on the horizon, they seem to be paralyzed about taking their campaign to the level of useful political charm and viability – in my humble view.
Caribbean Blog International
Thursday, November 24, 2011
The current state of Bahamian politics ...and suggestions for what is required for the future political and socio-economic development of The Bahamas and the Bahamian people
Who’s looking in the mirror? Part I
By Raynard Rigby
(This is the first of a two-part series which examines the current state of Bahamian politics and makes suggestions for what is required for the future political and socio-economic development of The Bahamas and the Bahamian people.)
What is this about?
I sat in awe on Sunday, October 16, 2011 and watched the dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DC. It was a moving event for me. As an enthusiastic fan of the sheer might and brilliance of the black diaspora, the image of King hails huge in my ethos. And in thinking of the pilgrimage of Martin Luther King, I began to think of the successes that we have achieved at home: strong black families; black leaders in all areas; some success and yet far too many shortcomings for a nation our size. I then focused on our future, of what lies ahead and whether it will be a promising one.
I also enthusiastically watched the events unfold in Jamaica, which led to the ascension of a 39- year-old, Andrew Holness, to the seat of prime minister after the voluntary departure of Bruce Golding from office. That led me to think of the lack of maturity of our political leaders.
Then, in my reflections I came to a place which made me question the current path that we are on and question whether we will have a bright and prosperous future if we remain on this path. And, then I froze when my mind fell upon my children and what will The Bahamas be like when they are adults. Will they be owners of the economy, be leaders of industry or will they be relegated to second-class citizenship? In my reflections, I searched deep, stripped of my political thinking, and was led to dream of a brighter future and a better tomorrow for them. But in the midst of this all, I knew that the road ahead will (and must) be paved by struggles and hard work to transform the gloom of the present into a bustling and promising future.
Whatever you might think, I suspect that we are all unified by the singular revelation that we are glued by an abiding respect for a future that always affords and accords to all of us a better, prosperous and bountiful hope of a glorious ‘promised land’ within these Bahama Islands.
Where are we today?
There is no denying the fact that the Bahamian economy has felt the impacts of the global recession. The unemployment rate is far too high. There is no denying the fact that overall household incomes have fallen over the past four years. The total number of tourist arrivals, whether cruise ship or stop over, has also been impacted by the economic downturn. Many small businesses have not been able to duck the severe and debilitating financial impacts. Many have closed and others that have survived have had to lay off staff and/or plan for reducing profits. The fact is that many homes have felt the effects of the crippling recession and whilst there remains an abundance of hope and prayer for a swift and strong recovery, there are no immediate signs on the horizon.
Many have criticized the present FNM administration for the manner in which they have managed the Bahamian economy, citing job losses and the rise of crime as the visible side effects of failed policies. Many of the criticisms have originated, at no surprise, from the lips of the opposition PLP. However, in a time of immediate news cycles on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News (yes, American stations), Bahamians have had the great advantage of following the events gripping Greece, Europe and even our most powerful nation to the north, the United States of America.
The ease by which information is now available has led to the reality that the Bahamian electorate is now more informed by the thousands. We have entered the age of information and this has had a tremendous influence on the thinking process of the traditional Bahamian voter.
The compelling question is whether those vying for political office recognize this new fascinating dispensation of the Bahamian voter and if so, have they made valuable adjustments to reflect the new era of politics.
The day of reckoning
The next elections must be called by May, 2012. Thus far the PLP has announced the majority of its candidates for the election cycle.
The Boundaries Commission was recently appointed, which is the first tangible step towards the elections. The FNM as the incumbent government appears to have decided to wait for the redistricting of the boundaries to launch its candidates. The fact that the PLP has named some new faces, with very little political experience, may be a part of its formula to say to voters that that party is preparing for future leadership. The fact is that when the PLP was in government from 2002 to 2007 there was no one in the cabinet of Prime Minister Perry Christie who was under the age of 45. The same is not true for Hubert Ingraham in his three terms as prime minister.
There is no denying that the upcoming campaign will be a referendum on Ingraham’s performance as prime minister. He has some tangible programs and initiatives that he can tout on the campaign trail. Nonetheless, the election is likely to be fought on the issue of leadership. Yes, leadership. Not vision. Not message. Not a plan for the future of The Bahamas. Yes, a simple visual and abstract thing as leadership.
The FNM’s guess is that Ingraham will win this battle hands down because Bahamians prefer a strong macho-like leader who can make decisions, no matter how silly or bad they may be. The FNM will say that the PLP and Christie are the same as in 2007. That Christie is weak and indecisive, because he could not transform his party by ridding it of the known ‘bad apples’. Christie too has the perception of being ‘late again’ and having a tendency to ‘over-speak’.
Both Ingraham and Christie are men over the age of 60 years. Christie turned 69 years in August. Bruce Golding, the former prime minister of Jamaica (as of Sunday, October 23, 2011) is 64 years. Golding decided to step down prior to the next election (in either December 2011 or in early 2012) to pave the way for a new dynamic young leadership in his Jamaica Labour Party. Many criticized former Prime Minister the late Sir Lynden Pindling for not stepping aside after the ‘terrible damage’ to his image brought on by the Commissions of Inquiry into drug trafficking and the Hotel Corporation. That would have been a path of honor and perhaps of restoring the dignity of his office and that of the party. Too, Pindling was seen as the PLP and many could not differentiate the two because in their eyes Pindling equals PLP. However, the same over-powering image that Pindling maintained and enjoyed, well he was our Moses, is not shared by either Christie or Ingraham. But, in the context of the FNM, no one else has been able to hand them victory; so, in some respects, Ingraham may be larger than Pindling in the context of FNM politics.
There is no denying the fact that many Bahamians, open-minded and independent thinking PLPs and FNMs, share the view that both Ingraham and Christie have had their time in frontline politics. They wish for them to drive off into the grand light of retirement. I am not sure that this is driven by age alone, or by the fact that they have been on the scene since 1977. But the view, shared by a growing segment of the populace, is that the two are bankrupt of new, fresh, progressive and transformative ideas.
For me, I suspect that these Bahamians are saying that more fundamentally Christie and Ingraham are dinosaurs of vision. That they grew up in an era in The Bahamas where they cannot or are incapable of fully understanding the new Bahamas that has unfolded; that the fight is less about black and white, about oppression or segregation, but more of poverty, expanding opportunities and of redesigning a system that caters to and places too much emphasis on the foreigner rather than the Bahamian potential.
Also, the public sees in Britain and the U.S.A., and now in Jamaica, dynamic new leaders in their 40s (or almost 40). Leaders who are articulate and smart, and who have charted the course of their nations in the worst of economic times, and who, with less experience in public life, have not caused the destruction of their national treasures. This is the door that Branville McCartney enters. But, some say that he is an ‘image-centric’ leader who has failed to engineer a political or national cause and who appears happy to have it all about him. The era of leader-worship is over and unfortunately McCartney’s timing is off badly. It is likely then that the DNA will be a non-starter.
There is no denying the truth that the Bahamian voter knows a ‘flakey’ leader when he sees one. We require and demand from our political leaders philosophical substance and a mature balanced-approach to nation building.
Raynard Rigby is a practicing attorney-at-law and he is a former national chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party (Nov. 2002-Feb 2008). He is the author of “A Blueprint for the Future of The Bahamas” (July, 2008) and “The Urgency for Change in the PLP” (2009). He remains an avid commentator on matters of national interests and importance.
Nov 14, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
As we all sit and evaluate the political parties and independent candidates who will offer for public office in the run-up to the 2012 general election... we should make every effort to determine if there is someone on the ballot good enough to vote for
Exercise your democratic power
Interesting debates always emerge when the question is posed as to whether or not citizens living in democracies should feel obligated to vote.
Most democracies were fought for. People who campaigned for freedom, self-governance and civil rights were jailed, some were murdered, some were beaten and many others were victimized. Some of these fights were actual wars.
In this context, we all should take the vote seriously. It is not a right, but a gift fought for by those who came before us.
As we all sit and evaluate the political parties and independent candidates who will offer for public office in the run-up to the next general election, we should make every effort to determine if there is someone on the ballot good enough to vote for.
Those who do not think there is anyone good enough to vote for should consider entering the race or the political process.
But if the ballot is filled with poor candidates, what should a voter do? Should voters feel compelled to vote?
No, they should not. Voting is an important part of the democratic process. However, voting should not be confused with democracy. Democracy is about self-governance. As citizens, we have a responsibility to do this everyday – not just every five years.
By working at a charity, providing assistance to the homeless, democracy is at work; by volunteering as a mentor at a school, democracy is at work; by raising an educated, hardworking law-abiding citizen, democracy is at work.
So for those who think there is no reasonable offering to vote for at the next general election, you should rest assured that there are many other ways to participate in the advancement and governance of The Bahamas.
A group of residents in a community can easily come together, approach their public school, and start an afterschool literacy program for the children falling behind, for example.
Simple initiatives such as these, if done by many individuals or by many groups, can do much to change the lives of the disadvantaged and the soon-to-be lost.
Elections are important; voting is important. But if you think the mainstream political parties are pathetic and the independents are incompetent, do not distress. You can exercise your democratic power everyday by doing something to help build the community.
Nov 22, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
By ADRIAN GIBSON
BY all accounts, the Boundary Commission’s leaked report reflects nearly surgical alterations to various constituency margins—eliminating a handful of constituencies (with a supposed reduction from 41 to 38 seats in the House of Assembly), extending others and carving out even newer voting blocs. As we enter the final furlong in the run-up to the 2012 general elections, one can already begin to envisage the possible political outcome for certain MPs. Today, based upon the redrawing of the boundaries of certain districts, I’ll look at the probable political fates of Bamboo Town MP and leader of the Democratic National Alliance Branville McCartney, Elizabeth MP Ryan Pinder, Golden Isles MP Charles Maynard and St. Thomas More MP Frank Smith.
Quite honestly, relative to the political survival of the aforementioned MPs, their respective constituency associations/parties should immediately seek-out the services of Fealy Demeritte or another undertaker and have them on standby as these gentlemen appear to all be facing political deaths/political burials. Barring any changes, the four MPs mentioned are likely to run into political buzz-saws as the escalation of the 2012 general election campaign gets in full swing.
That said, today we’re gathered here for the announcement of the official political home- going services of Branville McCartney, Ryan Pinder, Charles Maynard and Frank Smith. Whilst the official political obituaries could be written at a later date (post-election), officiating the impending ceremonies will be His Grace, the Right Honourable Hubert Ingraham, Arch-Bishop of the Bahamian Political Diocese—fully regalled in his party’s red vestments—assisted Suffragan-Bishop Brent Symonette (DPM), PLP leader and Farm Road MP Canon Perry Christie—who will administer last rites at the political graveside—and a large contingent of registered voters in the newly reconfigured Bamboo Town, Elizabeth, Golden Isles and St Thomas More constituencies. (I would have no problem with congratulating, publicly and privately—via personal congratulatory cards—those of the four MPs listed who survive this election cycle.)
The official political funeral services will be held at The People’s Electoral Chapel. Organist Melanie Griffin, Yamacraw MP, will lead the choir in opening and closing the ceremonies with a riveting rendition of the hymn ‘It is finished.’ Moreover, as election draweth nigh and the manifestation of this massive political burial ceremony bears down upon those MPs, the official pallbearers are PLP Deputy Leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, Carmichael MP Desmond Bannister, West End and Bimini MP Obie Wilchcombe, Killarney MP Dr Hubert Minnis, Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin and Long Island MP Larry Cartwright.
Political interment will follow on the grounds of the soon-to-be demolished Cecil Wallace-Whitfield building, which presently houses the Office of the Prime Minister.
As it stands, no one from either major political party has volunteered to serve as political pallbearers for Bran McCartney as they have all decided to politically cremate him this election cycle. That said, Mr McCartney’s political ashes will be sprinkled by Rodney Moncur and Nicholas Jacques. In this instance, I would pay to hear either Mr Ingraham’s or Mr Christie’s eulogy!
The restructured Bamboo Town seat appears to be more PLP-leaning now, particularly since the Boundary Commission’s inclusion of several polling divisions from the traditionally PLP constituency of Kennedy (estimated at some 400-500 voters). Moreover, McCartney is further weakened as the FNM has seemingly strategized and moved traditionally FNM polling divisions to strengthen its candidate’s chances in a newly shaped constituency/South Beach. Although it appears that McCartney’s electoral prospects has been doused, either Mr McCartney is committing Hubert Ingraham-assisted political suicide or he’s enjoying the role of underdog with the expectation of beating the odds!
If Ryan Pinder is dispatched to the political bone yard as the boundaries report seems to suggest, I would miss the political energy of this affable chap, whose shrill, crackling voice and firebrand persona helped to reinvigorate political debates—both in and outside of the House of Assembly—since his election in the 2009 Elizabeth by-election.
Pinder’s political burial ceremony could be realized as his present constituency has seemingly taken on a new configuration and now encompasses traditionally FNM boroughs such as Treasure Cove and Port New Providence whilst traditionally PLP-inclined polling divisions have been stenciled out.
Frank Smith, who sometimes appears to be puffed-up and frothing-at-the-mouth, may have reached his political midnight. It appears that he has been given his political death as certain traditionally PLP districts have been removed from his constituency’s current layout only to be replaced with FNM-leaning areas such as Blair and Paradise Island.
Frankly, the last PLP of any prominence to run in Blair—A D Hanna—was beaten 5 to 1 in that traditionally UBP/FNM area. Including Blair, along with Paradise Island, in the new St Thomas More could be the political death knell for Frank Smith, especially as portions of PLP-inclined Kemp Road have been axed. No doubt, it appears that PM Ingraham has greased Smith’s skids, helping to hasten his skate out of Parliament!
Over the years, it appears that the run-up to a general election usually results in an increasing intake of spirits for the faint-hearted and MPs who fear well-deserved defeat. This election, considering the political funerals/wakes, fainting spells, embarrassing behavior and those privy to fall into drunken stupors, the electorate may need to call AA—Alcoholics Anonymous!
The new political map enlarges the inner city constituencies, creating a strong PLP bloc and extending Englerston as far west as Mount Moriah, whilst extending the Bain Town and Farm Road constituencies to include portions of St Cecilia. According to sources, there may or may not be a seat called St Cecilia as the seat could be completely repositioned.
So, Kenyatta Gibson could possibly win a seat after all—he’s set to challenge Frank Smith in St Thomas More!
Obie Wilchcombe will absorb four of twelve polling divisions from the eliminated Eight Mile Rock (EMR) seat. Apparently, the other polling divisions will be absorbed into the Lucaya seat. If EMR MP Verna Grant challenges Wilchcombe for his seat, she would take a spanking in Grand Bahama.
Moreover, I’m told that the Ragged seat could be detached from my hometown—Long Island—and be appended to the Exuma seat.
In Grand Bahama the PM has seemingly moved to strengthen the unpopular Zhivargo Laing in Marco City by appending traditionally FNM polling divisions to his seat—namely, two from Lucaya and one from High Rock. Further, it appears that Pineridge MP Kwasi Thompson, an easygoing and stellar first-time MP, will be sacrificed as his reconfigured seat now includes the traditionally PLP Hawksbill Subdivision. Additionally, he’s facing a formidable challenger—Dr Michael Darville.
No doubt, there are those who will refer to the new boundary cuts as gerrymandering and yet others who will view it as an electoral undertaking executed from time immemorial and one that perhaps, this time, was drawn up by a schematic, politically-savvy mastermind. The upcoming general election is setting up to be a soap opera……one that has me grinning from ear to ear as the plot thickens!
Published: November 19, 2011—The Tribune’s ‘The Big T’
Caribbean Blog International
Monday, November 21, 2011
A ban on smoking in public places in The Bahamas would save lives... and help reduce healthcare costs for Bahamians
Smoking kills. The Bahamas needs to ban smoking inside public places to preserve the health of those who do not smoke.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually among adult non-smokers in the U.S. The CDC also notes that secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths annually among adult non-smokers in the US.
We live in a free society. Adults who choose to smoke, knowing the dangers of the practice, are free to face the consequences of their actions. Banning smoking inside enclosed restaurants, casinos, enclosed nightclubs and other public places will help save the lives of the employees who work there and those who regularly visit.
Many jurisdictions in developed countries have moved to ban smoking inside public places. On Wednesday, the New York City Council went further and voted to ban smoking in 1,700 city parks and along 14 miles of city beaches.
Here in The Bahamas some are afraid of a smoking ban ± especially those in the tourism sector. They argue that such a restriction would make The Bahamas less competitive, as people like to smoke in casinos and in restaurants.
Banning smoking in these places may actually bring in more customers ± such as those who do not want to socialize in smoky places.
But more importantly the ban would save lives. It would especially save the lives of workers. Casino workers and restaurant employees are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke.
A ban on smoking in public places would also help reduce healthcare costs. Fewer people would need to be treated for the lung maladies that result from breathing in the smoke exhaled by others.
Many of our visitors come from developed countries where indoor smoking bans already exist. The practice of going outside to smoke is becoming more and more the norm. The Bahamas would only be conforming to the emerging international standard.
Hotels could have designated smoking areas near exits for those who want to smoke. Restaurants could expand, if the space exists, to outdoor seating for smokers. The Bahamas is warm throughout the year.
Smokers should have no problem smoking outside.
Several years ago, the Ministry of Health spoke publicly about its consultations with stakeholders regarding an indoor smoking ban. There has been little public discussion of the issue for a while. The government should make the move. Non-smokers should be protected.
Those addicted to smoking should seek medical help. New treatments continue to become available for smokers. Nicotine addiction is one of the hardest addictions to break.
Nov 21, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE SCRAP metal industry has been brought to a standstill once again, it was revealed yesterday, one leading operator telling Tribune Business that the Customs Department had its 'hands tied' because it had not received the new regulations that govern the sector.
Everette Rolle, proprietor of Caribbean Recycling and Trading Solutions, told Tribune Business: "We are somewhat at a standstill again. The extension to the ban expired, but the regulations that govern the new Act are not in place.
"Customs is at a standstill; they cannot process anything for us. They haven't been given the regulations in as much as they are responsible for the administrative side. It's crazy.
"The Government has not come to us and said anything because Customs is in a quandary, and in the absence of any clear-cut procedures they say they are going to wait on the Government. We would load the containers but Customs is not going to process the papers for the export. You can't blame them; they say they want to help us but their hands are tied."
The Cabinet Office issued a statement on November 1, stating that the 90-day temporary ban on the export of scrap metal, which was implemented on 27 July, would be extended by two weeks to November 11.
It was expected that by that time, the Pawnbrokers and Second-hand Dealers Act 2011, which aims to regulate the export of scrap metal, would have taken effect. Under the provisions of the Act, business owners or dealers engaged in the export of scrap metal will have to verify the identity of customers and maintain records of all transactions.
Scrap metal export businesses are also subject to monitoring by a police-designated administrator. The Government placed the temporary ban on the scrap metal trade, while imposing a permanent ban on all copper exports in an effort to curb the theft and destruction of property said to be linked with the industry.
Mr Rolle said: "The Government needs to come clean and continue to accommodate us until the regulations are in place. There's something fishy about the whole thing.
"I made some calls, and they said they were going to do something during the course of this week, but we haven't heard anything. It's just uncertainty right now."
He added: "We, in addition to providing employment, are providing service. The Department of Environmental Health can tell you that. It's too close to Christmas for this to be happening. This is a price sensitive business. You purchase stuff hoping to flip it immediately to capitalise on the price."
Attempts to reach Earl Deveaux, minister for the environmentm for comment on the matter proved unsuccessful up to press time. Calls placed by Tribune Business to Customs Comptroller Glen Gomez also proved unsuccessful.
November 18, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Bishop Simeon Hall appeals to the homosexual community to seek help so that they can play their God ordained role in our communities already distressed with crime, social distress and disorder
By Royston Jones Jr
Guardian Staff Reporter
Baptist Bishop Simeon Hall said yesterday that homosexuals ought not to be demonized by homophobic clergy, but they, like anyone else, should be invited to the church to, “experience the transforming power of God.”
“Over the last three days, three young men contacted me since I made this statement to all those with a sexual orientation to seek help,” said Hall at a Rotary Club of West Nassau luncheon at Graycliff.
“One of these men came to my office on Tuesday evening, the other on Wednesday and the other has an appointment.
“Their painful and sordid stories were frightening, but my response to them was pastoral.” In a statement on Monday, Hall urged homosexuals to seek help to turn away from their “non-productive and deadly practice”.
Hall said yesterday, “I do not demonize anyone, their sexual preference notwithstanding. “But what I find disturbing is men absent, men unable to take care and provide for their families, men dying and leaving children to fend for themselves and men infecting their partners with HIV/AIDS.
“All this negatively contributes to a society already on the edge of disintegration.” Hall claimed that the sexual practice of men who have sex with men (MSMs) is negatively impacting the growth and development of The Bahamas.
“If this sexual practice [has led] to an increase of 14 percent of our men contracting HIV/AIDS, then it is clear that this practice, which, by the way, can produce nothing, is now...deadly and is a threat to our national infrastructure.”
Hall released his statement on Monday in response to a Nassau Guardian article that revealed that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in The Bahamas among MSMs is near 14 percent, which is nearly double the eight percent documented in 2008 by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
“All over this nation leaders are crying about the absence of men; the church, the schools [and] young women looking for strong male men to marry them,” Hall said yesterday.
“My appeal, therefore, is to the homosexual community to seek help so that they can play their God ordained role in our communities already distressed with crime, social distress and disorder.”
The Government of The Bahamas is co-sponsoring the 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference at Atlantis
Resort. The conference opens today and ends Monday.
Nov 18, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The social climate in The Bahamas is one that lends itself to violence... Poverty, frustration due to the lack of opportunity and creative outlets, alcohol and marijuana abuse, verbal and physical abuse as a means of rearing children, noise and dirt, poor educational achievement, weak state regulation of an array of activities, unemployment, poor housing, and widespread corruption create an enabling environment for criminality
Gangster’s Paradise Part 4
By Ian G. Strachan
Thirty-eight years after independence, we are (in the net) not much better off as a people. Despite all of our blessings, we have squandered many of the gifts and have not achieved our national potential. We are living in an era, a time; we are experiencing a moment in this civilization’s history when we are obliged to stop, to reflect, to take note and to question all that we have thought to be right and true. We must look critically and honestly at our current course, define our preferred destination and reset our course. - Senator Dr. Duane Sands, October 26, 2011
Senator Dr. Duane Sands’ words strike the right chord but they, in the end, are just words. We face a situation that is far more troubling than those who want our votes will ever admit to. When I speak to people who know, people who have seen the underbelly of this country up close, they tell me the system, from top to bottom, is plagued by corrupt players. Where then is the hope?
Certainly we must root out corruption; certainly we must do our best to police neighborhoods, as well as stop and punish criminals, but we must also understand that our greatest hope is in prevention. I noted last week that I would focus on seven areas. First we looked at social justice and inequality, at education and at parenting. We continue now with four more areas of concern.
Discipline and order
The social climate in The Bahamas is one that lends itself to violence. Poverty, frustration due to the lack of opportunity and creative outlets, alcohol and marijuana abuse, verbal and physical abuse as a means of rearing children, noise and dirt, poor educational achievement, weak state regulation of an array of activities, unemployment, poor housing, and widespread corruption create an enabling environment for criminality. Bahamians need discipline. We are an unruly people, accustomed to ad hoc approaches and shortcuts, bribery and curry favoring. We want punishment doled out for gross offenses like murder, but by and large we want to be left alone to duck taxes, steal by way of employment, buy stolen goods, hire illegal immigrants, break traffic laws, keep a filthy yard, etc.… How do we “reset our course”?
Here are some suggestions. I’m sure you can think of others. These will have a cumulative effect on the psyche of Bahamians:
· Legalize and regulate Numbers. Government should even consider a complete takeover of the industry. If not, it should heavily tax it and control the number of outlets, hours of operation, and the zones in which they are allowed to operate locations. Begin seriously educating the public (starting with kids) on the follies of gambling. Establish services for gambling addicts.
· Bring bars and nightclubs under tighter regulation. Reduce the number of liquor outlets and control where they can be located. Strictly enforce the legal drinking age. Raise the age. Prohibit the sale of alcohol on Sunday. Close all bars and clubs at 1 a.m. and heavily police them at closing time. Include breathalyzer tests in road block inspections. Increase taxes on alcohol.
· Introduce a unified bus system, including dedicated school buses. Bring all public buses on strict regulation and management and have them run on a schedule. Remove loud music from buses.
· Increase the number of public/environmental health inspectors to ensure sanitary conditions of homes and yards with a system of warnings and fines for homeowners and landlords who do not ensure proper sewage disposal or proper garbage containment and collection, and who do not remove derelict vehicles and debris, or who have overgrown yards.
· Crack down on noise makers: whether they are private cars, public buses, corner prayer meetings or bars trying to attract customers.
· Introduce cameras that can catch people driving without seat belts, running lights, riding without helmets or skirting through gas stations to avoid stopping.
· Follow the recommendation of the 1994 Task Force on Youth Development and establish a network of community centers in every constituency. Use church spaces or schools after hours. Provide tutoring, sports leagues for all ages, adult literacy, life-long learning, and Big Brother/Big Sister programs. Fund these centers through the Ministries of Youth and Education, churches and area businesses. Take funds for constituencies out of MPs hands and put it in the hands of local boards that can govern and run these community centers.
· Increase funding for all existing outreach and youth organizations, such as Boys Brigade, Scouts, Brownies, Island Stewards, Focus etc. These groups shouldn’t have to beg for money each year. Demand data collection and longitudinal studies to track the careers of children in such programs, to ensure that support is justifiable through evidence which proves they prevent delinquency and violent behavior. (Revisiting the work of Safe Bahamas might be a good start).
· Government should make it a point, through the Ministry of Youth and Culture, or National Security or Social Development, to assist with technical support and funding, in the creation of a Neighborhood Improvement Association in every New Providence neighborhood. Neighborhood churches can also be enlisted. These organizations can help police, and help maintain clean neighborhoods and build community cohesion. They can also lend support to the vulnerable in their midst. Sadly, most communities will not do this work on their own. Leadership and support are needed.
At some point this country must acknowledge that the problem of violent crime and crime against the person and property is a male problem. Males are almost always the perpetrators. To address crime then, address the socialization and education of males; and we must focus intently on identity formation among boys. Media images and social mores support a version of manhood that is in many ways destructive and anti-social. This is at the heart of male violence, male academic underachievement, male disengagement from civil society, male absence from the lives of children, male violence toward women and children, and the pressures on males to rob, steal and deal to acquire and maintain female affections.
Some cry out for hanging. Hanging does not deter crime. As Irwin Waller, author of “Less Law, More Order”, notes, “The rates of homicide are unaffected by whether capital punishment is used or not. For instance, the rate of decline in rates of homicide in the United States has been similar to that in Canada since 1976 when the United States reinstated the use of the death penalty and Canada took it out of its criminal code.”
I understand the call for the death penalty in a society where 95 percent of the murders between 2005 and 2009 went unpunished by the time of Chaswell Hanna’s 2011 study. People want to see murderers punished, even more than they want future murderers deterred. The bitter truth is most crimes (of whatever sort) in this country will forever remain unpunished. I repeat therefore that our greatest hope is prevention.
Nonetheless, I believe that there is value in making an example of those you do capture and convict. I believe in reform, but I also believe in appropriate punishment and restorative justice. Victims, in my view, are best served when their victimizers are made to repay and must face those they made suffer.
I support life sentences for murder (30 years minimum). Give the murderer no choice but to live with the consequences of his actions; the death penalty in my view is an easy out. While in prison, make the lifer work for the state and for the victims. Give him every opportunity to contribute to the society he attempted to destroy.
I also believe we need a national conversation about sentencing. It should not be left solely to political parties and their MPs to decide. A recent sentence handed down on a notorious trafficker left me stunned. The Americans must think we are ridiculous.
We must decriminalize drug use (marijuana and cocaine), and approach these phenomenon as public health issues. However, since the U.S. may never end the prohibition on these substances, we must get serious about sentencing traffickers. The danger of course is that cracking down on traffickers doesn’t do away with the traffic; it in fact promotes more violent crime as new players and rivalries over turf emerge. Which brings us right back to education, social justice, parenting, the economy, etc.
As we crack down on drug traffickers we must ask ourselves this: if possession of a firearm is four years (the public thinks this is too mild by the way), how much do you give the gun trafficker?
If we want to be tougher on crime, we must also be tougher on those who are supposed to uphold the law but instead pervert it. All judges and magistrates should be appointed through public hearings and their finances should be scrutinized annually. The same for high ranking policemen and defense force officers; customs, immigration and prison officials; and those who work for the AG’s Office. They should also all be subject to random drug tests.
In the end, so many of these suggestions come down to one thing: money, money, money, and that is in seriously short supply in this country. But more than money, it speaks to will, courage, and character. Are we prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure that in 10 to15 years we have a more peaceful, more orderly country than we do today? If so, we must all make sacrifices, and we must all share the burden. Otherwise, we’ll continue on our current “course” – anything buckup go.
Nov 14, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Bishop Simeon Hall appeals to to homosexuals in The Bahamas to "seek help" and turn away from "deadly, abnormal sexual practices"
By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
BISHOP Simeon Hall, senior pastor at New Covenant Baptist Church, is appealing to homosexuals to "seek help" and turn away from "deadly, abnormal sexual practices".
Quoting statistics from a local newspaper, Bishop Hall said that in the Bahamas the number of men contracting AIDS because of homosexual practices has doubled in the past few years.
"According to Dr. Perry Gomez, director of the National HIV/AIDS programme, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Bahamas with men is near 14 per cent, nearly double the 8 per cent documented in 2008 in the Joint United National programme on HIV/AIDS," he said.
"Homosexuality, like lesbianism, is anti-family and it goes against what God has ordained. This sexual practice cannot produce anything and now we are seeing that, according to statistics, it is deadly."
Bishop Hall said he is not trying to demonise homosexuals, but rather help them to seek help.
"I wish to affirm that homosexuals and lesbians are human beings just like everyone else. I do not demonise them, but I hurriedly urge them to seek help and turn away from this non-productive deadly practice."
Erin Green, spokesperson for the Gay Lesbian Bi-sexual and Transgender community (GBLT) said it is ignorant to think that homosexuality is the cause of the HIV/AIDS increase in the Bahamas.
"I invite Bishop Hall to attend the Caribbean HIV conference this weekend, where he, along with other Bahamians, can engage in activities and expel these myths that are so prevalent in Bahamian society," she said.
"It is dangerous to believe homosexuality equals AIDS. As a country we need to educate ourselves, not only AIDS/HIV, but also homosexuality."
According to the latest statistics, adult HIV prevalence in The Bahamas is among the highest in the Caribbean at 3.3 per cent. AIDS is also still a leading cause of death among Bahamian men and women, aged 15-44.
The disease occurs primarily among heterosexuals - approximately 87 per cent - although under-reporting by men who have sex with men remains a challenge.
The 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference will be held at the Atlantis resort, November 18 to 21, under the theme "Strengthening Evidence To Achieve Sustainable Action."
The conference is expected to attract 2,000-2,500 participants and will highlight scientific research findings, implementation lessons learned, skills-building tools, and networking opportunities.
November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Perry Christie, the political hypocrite calls for an independent Boundaries Commission almost 10 (ten) years after the PLP - under his leadership - encouraged voters to vote against a referendum called by the Ingraham administration on 27 February, 2002... One of the questions had to do with whether an independent Boundaries Commission ought to be established in The Bahamas
By Candia Dames
Guardian News Editor
Free National Movement Chairman Carl Bethel has dismissed as idle talk former Prime Minister Perry Christie’s statement that the time has come for an independent Boundaries Commission.
Christie spoke of the need for an independent commission in an interview with The Nassau Guardian last week.
“I had the opportunity to put one in and didn’t, but there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that our democracy has matured to the point where it is a major contradiction to have someone sit down in a room by themselves and draw a plan that impacts the future of a country, and not have that done in a transparent way,” said Christie, leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
“...There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that we have passed the time when it ought to have happened.
“Because of gamesmanship, [political leaders are] able to take advantage of what is really a glaring failure on the part of our democracy where [they] in a very candid way take advantage of this opportunity and this discretion to draft a map that they could just cherry pick and change things around.”
But Bethel said he doubts Christie was very serious about that suggestion.
“Opposition parties, sometimes it seems, say things that they never had any intention when they had the power and authority of doing, and make all sorts of promises,” he said.
“I think, Mr. Christie, if he was serious about what he now says, when he had his Constitutional Commission, would have at least looked at that question which he now raises.
“I do not believe that it is a serious suggestion on his part. Obviously, it is not a matter that has been canvassed by him or his colleagues for very long. I think it’s relating really to the moment. It’s a comment made in the moment and not so much a considered, well thought out, much debated position.
“The Constitutional Commission under the former PLP government didn’t touch it, and it’s one thing to talk to hear yourself talk; it’s another thing to come with a well considered proposal.”
In 2002, Christie and the PLP encouraged voters to vote against a referendum called by the Ingraham administration.
One of the questions had to do with whether an independent Boundaries Commission ought to be established.
Fifty-seven thousand, two hundred and ninety-one people voted ‘no’ and 30,903 people voted ‘yes’.
“I’m not sure that we can accord too much credibility to what Mr. Christie may genuinely feel to be his position at this present time,” Bethel told The Nassau Guardian.
In the interview last week, Christie also accused the current administration of gerrymandering.
But Bethel also dismissed this charge.
“Oppositions always say that,” he said. “That’s a stock phrase used by oppositions.
“When the PLP created the St. Anne’s Constituency during the last boundary revisions under Mr. Christie’s superintendence, the then opposition (FNM) felt that this was a classic case of gerrymandering because what was apparent to us is virtually as many FNM polling divisions in as many different constituencies had been pushed into this new entity called St. Anne’s, and that the consequence of doing that was to strengthen the Progressive Liberal Party’s hold on at least three constituencies: Yamacraw, Elizabeth and Fox Hill.
“And so in a sense it was a classic case, in our view, of getting three for the price of one, which by any calculation would amount to an exercise in gerrymandering.”
Bethel said there are principles that guide the Boundaries Commission, which is also known as the Constituencies Commission.
“Those principles are usually discussed among the members and agreed in general long before they actually sit down to address the specific questions of the boundaries,” Bethel said.
“One of those principles would be, for example, that the commission would be seeking to attain as near as possible equality in the number of registered voters in every constituency (depending on the island).”
The FNM chairman added, “What is clear and there is nothing that the opposition has been able to say to date — and they had to a lot to say about these boundary cuts —but there is nothing that they have been able to say to date that is able to cast any doubt upon the integrity of the adherence of the Boundaries Commission to the principle that all members, including opposition members, would have agreed at the beginning of the whole process.”
In three of the last four general elections, the party in power that cut the boundaries lost (1992, 2002 and 2007).
Nov 14, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
...the repeal of sodomy laws within the Commonwealth: ...British Prime Minister David Cameron has taken the decision to withhold British aid from non-compliant nations
Jamaica Must Not Surrender Sovereignty
By Shirley Richards, Guest Columnist
Not being satisfied with the failure of the Commonwealth heads of government to arrive at a consensus on the matter of the repeal of sodomy laws within the Commonwealth, British Prime Minister David Cameron has taken the decision to withhold British aid from non-compliant nations.
Did we hear right, or were we mistaken? Is it true that our former masters are now calling on us to repeal laws that they are not in agreement with, or face the penalty? Is it that somewhere in the 1962 Jamaica (Constitution) Order in Council which facilitated our independence, there remains a hidden, residual power for Britain and its allies to manipulate our legislature as it thinks fit? What did Gandhi, Nkrumah, Manley and others fight for?
The effrontery of David Cameron and his allies is incredulous! (Incidentally, If Eric Williams were around, he surely would have made it clear to members of the Commonwealth that 43 from 54 leaves nought!) Thankfully, however, the very system which the British left us contained within it the right to resistance. That very same philosophy was the driving force of the struggle for the independence of America - government depends on the consent of the governed.
As has been many times said before, the retention of the buggery law provides guidance to us as a country between that which is acceptable and that which is not, in terms of sexual behaviour. It is the legal underpinning of the survival of the tradition of the heterosexual family. It is a guide to parents, children and to our public officials in the matter of sexual affairs. How could the homosexual lifestyle be in the interest of humanity when it leads to nothingness and is fraught with dangers both for the individual and the society?
HIV transmitting out of control
What makes the effrontery worse is that the scientific literature has indicated that in Europe generally "HIV transmission seems to be out of control in the MSM population". If David Cameron was really interested in our welfare, wouldn't he be urging us, with tears in his eyes, not to repeal our laws, as it would appear that by liberalising their laws Britain and its allies have made a grave error?
What is also of grave concern is that in these countries where the laws have been liberalised, there seems to be an emerging tyranny which penalises any expression of dissent of the lifestyle, even where such dissent is expressed privately. Just last month in England, father-of-two, Adrian Smith, 54, was found guilty of misconduct by the Trafford Housing Trust and had his salary slashed by £14,000 after saying on his private Facebook page that same-sex weddings in churches would be "an equality too far".
Neil Addison, an expert in religious discrimination law and a practising barrister in England, commented on this case, saying: "When I was a child, people in England used to say, 'I can say what I like, it's a free country.' That is certainly no longer the case in Britain today."
It's a very similar situation with the abortion issue. On November 15, an employment tribunal in London will begin to hear the case of Margaret Forrester, who was sacked from her job as a mental-health worker because she had shown a pro-life booklet to colleagues that said women suffer from mental-health consequences after abortions.
It is also expected that by December 5, the British Government will lift the ban on same-sex civil-partnership ceremonies in churches. (This was what Adrian Smith was concerned about). Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone is insisting that churches would have the freedom to decide if they want to offer same-sex services. However, the fear is that even if the scheme was initially voluntary, churches that do not agree to offer the services are "likely to be put under huge pressure to change their policy by campaign groups".
With all due respect to Lord Gifford, QC, the situation seems to be the same in Ireland. At the time sodomy was decriminalised in 1995, it was argued by the homosexual lobby that they simply wanted to be left alone. However, since then, the lobby has grown into 'a rights industry', and now any criticism or even questioning of them and their continuous demands is not tolerated.
On Sunday, October 30, journalist Eamon Delaney, writing in Ireland's leading newspaper, the Irish Independent, referred to the "insatiable demands" of the homosexual advocates "for more and more recognition and identity". Mr Delaney expressed the concern that this will "eventually alienate mainstream opinion." http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/loud-and-proud-gays-want-to-take-over-rest-of-society-2920975.html.
It is just a matter of time before persons who hold contrary views on both the issue of homosexuality and abortion will have to flee Europe and the United States in search of safe haven. (Déjà vu?)
At the same time, however, one wants to make it abundantly clear that use of violence against homosexuals is absolutely wrong and must be denounced. All allegations of violence, including violence against homosexuals, must be thoroughly investigated by our security forces with the aim of bringing perpetrators to justice.
So up, you mighty nation! Have you forgotten who you are? You are Jamaicans, for goodness sake! Within your laws as they currently are is the key for the preservation of the family, the health of nations and the survival of the human race. So do not be ashamed! Do not be intimidated! You are on solid healthy ground!
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November 12, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
By PAUL G TURNQUEST
THE 2012 general election will be determined by the results of five key constituencies, party insiders have predicted.
According to information gleaned from the recently revealed Boundaries Commission report, it is believed that a victory by either the PLP or the FNM can only come with a victory in what will be the new Elizabeth, Sea Breeze, Bamboo Town, Carmichael, and the as yet unnamed "constituency 21" in the South of New Providence.
Of the 38 seats being recommended by the Commission for the 2012 election, the PLP believe that they are poised to win 10 or 11 out of the 23 in New Providence, two out of the five in Grand Bahama, and possibly six out of the 10 seats in the Family Islands.
However, when it comes to these five "coin toss seats" in New Providence, party insiders said the results can go "either way".
As it currently stands, constituency 21, which will be created out of polling divisions from the old Golden Isles, South Beach, and Blue Hills constituencies will comprise of some 4020 voters. A look at the 2007 general election results of these respective polling divisions, which now make up Constituency 21, reveals a slight lead in the favour of the FNM with 1695 votes to the PLP's 1670.
The "new" Elizabeth, which essentially will encompass the old boundary lines of the 1997 Yamacraw constituency, shows from the 2007 election results that the FNM will yet again have a slight edge over the PLP having secured 1689 votes to the PLP's 1630.
Sea Breeze, although currently represented by the FNM's chairman Carl Bethel is being reported to be a seat that will be "up for grabs" come 2012. However, even PLP party officials have admitted that it is likely that this seat would not go to either the PLP or the FNM, but rather to the DNA's Chris Mortimer.
Bamboo Town, yet another seat that will be "up for grabs" is currently represented by the DNA's leader Branville McCartney, who is expected to face a "tremendous challenge" from both the PLP and the FNM.
As for Carmichael - currently represented by the FNM in its Minister of Education Desmond Bannister -- it is unknown who will return to carry the party's banner in the 2012 election as it is believed that Mr Bannister will be the party's next candidate for North Andros and the Berry Islands.
Yesterday, it was revealed that the Boundaries Commission had recommended that three seats should be cut from the current 41-member Parliament, bringing the new total for the 2012 general election to 38.
The seats proposed to be eliminated at that time were Eight Mile Rock, Kennedy, and Clifton. However it is understood that while the Kennedy constituency might remain, the constituency of Montagu and Englerston have been eliminated in New Providence to make way for larger inner-city seats, and a new seat (constituency 21) in the south of New Providence.
Speaking to The Tribune yesterday on the reports of the possibility of Kennedy's elimination, the area's current MP Kenyatta Gibson said that he generally had no comment as the reports are only "recommendations" at this time.
"However, notwithstanding that, I will run wherever my leader and my party decide for me to run in the next general election," Mr Gibson said.
Other changes to the current make-up of the constituencies show that drastic cuts have been made to many of the "inner city" areas, such as Farm Road and Centreville, Mount Moriah, and St Cecilia.
November 10, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham should be commended for concluding political boundary cuts early for the 2012 general election... The boundaries commission reported late in the process under the administration of Perry Christie in 2007 ...causing some confusion
The boundaries commission proposal
Sources have confirmed that the governing Free National Movement (FNM) is proposing to reduce the number of seats in the House of Assembly to 38 – the constitutional minimum – for the next general election. If the FNM sticks to this position, it would be a good thing.
We have long argued that there are too many seats in the current House (41) based on our population size (350,000). If the constitutional barrier did not exist, it would be easier to cut that number further. In Sir Lynden Pindling’s final election as prime minister in 1992 there were 49 seats in the House – an unjustifiable number.
The boundaries commission is expected to report to Parliament within a few weeks with its recommendations. We are very near to a general election, one likely to be called for early 2012. As of Monday, 136,615 people were registered to vote, according to the Parliamentary Registration Department. It is estimated that approximately 160,000 people are eligible to vote. With this announcement, and subsequent moves towards the election in the months to come, the rest of the electorate interested in voting will register, likely bring the total on the final voters’ list above the 150,684 voters who registered to vote in 2007.
If the governing side is able to finalize these cuts within the projected time frame, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham should be commended for concluding this part of the electoral process early. The boundaries commission reported late in the process under the administration of Perry Christie in 2007, causing some confusion.
Ingraham is likely aware of the recent record of ‘boundary cutters’ and he is not wasting time with this exercise which is essentially governed by the prime minister. In the last four general elections, the prime minister who cut the boundaries lost three out of four times (1992, 2002 and 2007). Too much significance is placed in this process in a modern Bahamas.
There are certain ethnic or historic communities that support parties for all manner of complex reasons. For example the residents of the old Shirlea in Palmdale support the FNM and not the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). The residents of Englerston support the PLP and not the FNM.
However working class residents of the newer parts of New Providence, such as those residing in the southwestern part of the island, are less loyal. Constituencies such as South Beach and Carmichael go back and forth. These are swing areas and more and more of them are emerging.
It could be reasonably argued that there are currently 10 swing seats in the current configuration. These voters are worrying about crime, the economy, the roadwork and leadership. They are open to the best argument put forward by the best suitor. A wise leader or party should seek to present the best message to this group rather than wasting time in dark rooms cutting boundaries.
The next step for the parties once the boundaries are finally set is the finalization of their candidate slates and the presentation of their manifestos. Too often in Bahamian elections, manifestos come late and they are either too vague or too rambling.
Each party should put forth transformative ideas on crime, immigration and the economy in a coherent and digestible form. Then, the candidates and parties should state their cases on the campaign trail.
For the voters, this is your time to select a legislature and an executive. Take it seriously. It is a mighty task. At the minimum, we must all be engaged with the process and register to vote. Scrutinize them carefully. The men and women you chose to write the laws and govern will have extraordinary powers.
An election is nearly upon us.
Nov 09, 2011