Thursday, May 30, 2013

Crimes against Children on the Increase... ...a Sex-offender’s Registry is in the Works for The Bahamas

Crimes Against Children Up

Jones Bahamas:

Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin yesterday revealed that there has been a noted increase in crimes against children.

However, the minister who spoke to reporters outside of Cabinet yesterday could not give any figures.

Between 2011 and 2012 there were 1,300 reported cases of child abuse, which include sexual abuse, neglect, emotional and physical abuse.

The minister said it’s a situation that’s of great concern for her ministry, particularly those that go unreported.

“I don’t have the information at the tip of my tongue, but we do know that abuse against children is up,” she said.

Just this past Monday, a community activist was arraigned in the Magistrate’s Court on incest charges and weeks before that, a police was arraigned for engaging in gross misconduct with an 11-year-old.

According to the minister, a sex-offender’s registry is in the works for The Bahamas.

“The minster of national security has already indicated that his ministry will be moving ahead with that and we will do it collaboration with one another,” she said.

Over the past several weeks, several men have been brought before the courts to face sex charges involving young males in their family.

Just last month, a toddler died from injuries he sustained after he was sexually abused by another close male relative.

It is the minister’s hope that people would shy away from abusing children, even when it comes to neglect.

May 29, 2013

The Bahama Journal

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Stephen Serrette, leader of the Christian People’s Movement is charged with committing sex acts with two boys under the age of 12

Accused Of Sex With Young Boys

Tribune Staff Reporter

THE 51-year-old leader of the Christian People’s Movement was charged yesterday with committing sex acts with two boys under the age of 12.
“To God be the glory! Jesus is Lord,” said Stephen Serrette as he was escorted by police officers into Magistrate’s Court, where he was also charged with aiding and abetting sex between the two boys.
The Nassau resident continued to repeat “This ain’t right”, as Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez read out the charges.
According to court dockets, it is claimed that on Wednesday, November 21, 2012, the man had sex with the elder of the two boys.
The second charge accuses him of having sex with the younger boy at some point between 2011 and 2012.
The third charge claims the party leader purposely allowed the two boys to have sex with each other.
Serrette was not required to enter a plea in the matter, but his attorney Ramona Farquharson-Seymour said he maintains his innocence on all counts.
A Voluntary Bill of Indictment will be drafted to fast track the case to the Supreme Court.
The matter was adjourned to July 16.
He was remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison until that date.
Serrette launched the Christian People’s Movement in 2011, which he described as a political party emphasising Christian values.
Prior to that, he served as national chairman of the Bahamas Constitution Party and a branch chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party.
May 28, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

We lack spirituality and respect for God and man in The Bahamas

By Dennis Dames:

As murders continue to fascinate and overwhelm our nation and people, I am moved to cite the words of Exodus 34:7: Having mercy on thousands, overlooking evil and wrongdoing and sin; he will not let wrongdoers go free, but will send punishment on children for the sins of their fathers, and on their children's children to the third and fourth generation.
Murderers apparently feel that they are exempt from penalty, but the word of God says otherwise.  We lack spirituality and respect for God and man in The Bahamas; so, our future and our children’s tomorrow become darker and dimmer with each new murder and other sinful deeds committed on our soil.  Yes, punishment on children for the sin of their fathers, and on their children's children to the third and fourth generation.

Oh the verdict which is on our young ones, because of the wicked transgressions of our fathers.  It will only mount as more evildoing is perpetrated throughout our society by our sinful and decadent parents.
The problem in The Bahamas is grave sin and man’s heartlessness towards man – in my view.   As the poet Robert Burns wrote: Man's inhumanity to man…  Makes countless thousands mourn!

We are indeed on the road to self-imposed grief and divine retribution, where wrongdoers will receive their just due.  The secular courts might fail us, but God’s ruling will not.
Thank heaven for God is not like man.

Caribbean Blog International

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Save the Bays... formerly Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay has filed an action in the Supreme Court... seeking a judicial review to stop the dredging at Simms Point / Nygard Cay... ...

Nygard Cay Also Part Of Review Bid

Tribune Staff Reporter

AN ENVIRONMENTAL group has filed an action in the Supreme Court, seeking a judicial review to stop the dredging at Nygard Cay.
The action was filed by Callenders law firm on behalf of Save the Bays, formerly Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay, the new umbrella organisation. Respondents include several government departments, the Town Planning Committee, Peter Nygard and Mr Nygard’s associate, former ambassador to the environment Keod Smith.
The coalition has claimed that work carried out at Simms Point/Nygard Cay, which doubled the size of the area since it was purchased by fashion mogul Peter Nygard, has damaged areas of Clifton Bay, including Jaws Beach.
They have previously called for the government to step in and protect the delicate, environmentally significant area.
Fred Smith, QC, said the judicial review is on the basis that Save the Bays represents the collective interests of persons committed to protecting Clifton Bay and other parts of The Bahamas of particular environmental interest.
“In a nutshell, the judicial review seeks to determine whether the rule of law applies in The Bahamas or not,” he said.
In addition to a judicial review, the action seeks an interim injunction restraining Nygard and Smith from continuing what it claimed was “unauthorised construction and dredging.”
It also alleges that Nygard and Smith are trespassing on Crown land. Specifically, it cites construction of a groyne, dredging of the seabed, demolition of an existing dock at Jaws Beach, construction of a new dock on the sea bed and beach and the placement of large boulders on the western edge of the public boat ramp at Jaws Beach.
The suit alleges that the works being carried out “without the requisite permits and approvals constitute offences under the Planning and Subdivision Act, the Building and Regulation Act and the Coast Protection Act.”
Initially called the Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay, the organisation announced its name change to Save the Bays in early May to avoid confusion with the original coalition to save the historic area east of Lyford Cay for the Bahamian public when it was the target of developers some 14 years ago. At that time, the coalition called for the creation of a land and sea park but only the land park was created. The original coalition continues to call for the sea park and has expressed concern about activities at Nygard Cay. With many of the same supporters in both organisations, Save the Bays is also urging passage of a Freedom of Information Act and an Environmental Protection Act.
May 24, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Homeowners Protection Bill is before Parliament

Homeowners Protection Bill Debated

By Kendea Smith:

Lawmakers in the lower chamber yesterday began debate on the Homeowners Protection Bill, which is designed to assist struggling homeowners facing “extraordinary” circumstances to keep their homes.

Moving the Bill in the House of Assembly was State Minister for Finance Michael Halkitis.

“This Bill represents a modernisation of the lending framework in The Bahamas and creates a level playing field between borrowers and lenders. All of the provisions in the legislation have been benchmarked against international standards and hence are the standards that are in for in the home countries of the major lenders,” he said.

When passed, the court will be empowered to provide relief to borrowers from the consequences of breach of a loan agreement where the borrower pays the arrears by a reasonable time to be determined by the court.

The Bill also provides for the transfer of mortgages between financial institutions at no cost for the borrower.

In addition, the lending institution may sell after one year of giving a notice to default.

And if the lender sells the home at a surplus, the lender must give the borrower that money.

The minister said the bill has had widespread consultation.

“We continue to work hard to bring relief to homeowners who have mortgages and have fallen into difficulty. We face many challenges but we are committed to keep working to help as many as we can. We believe that this legislation is a positive step towards that end,” Minister Halkitis said.

The minister also spoke about the government’s much touted mortgage relief programme.

The government was told initially that 1,100 mortgagors could be approved through the programme.

However, banks only entertained 422 applications. Of that number 147 were deemed potentially eligible and only six were approved.

Minister Halkitis said the government continues to process appeals.

“To say that we are not satisfied with the outcome would be an understatement,” he said.

“We believed that it was a well thought-out plan which had as a prominent element working with the financial institutions to mutually agree on a plan. We have previously passed an amendment to the stamp act to extend the stamp tax exemption to homeowners who have lost a first home to foreclosure and are now seeking to acquire a second home. We have in committee the pension plans to access those savings to save their home.”

First to contribute to the debate from the Opposition was North Eleuthera MP Theo Neilly.

“While the Bill seeks to protects borrowers in the long run it might end up doing the opposite. Where financial institutions may become more careful and apply more scrutiny. As a result, if there are less loans or mortgages quite naturally there will be less construction thus less money circulating in the economy,” he said.

“So though the Bill seeks to help people, if we are not careful it may cause more harm,” he said.

May 23, 2013

The Bahamas mortgage crisis and the Homeowners Protection Bill in the Bahamian Parliament

The Bahama Journal

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ministry Of Tourism Heightens Awareness Of The Lionfish

By Lindsay Thompson
Bahamas Information Services

Fisherman Charles Knowles, and Frederick Arnett, Assistant Fisheries Officer at the Department of Marine Resources donned impenetrable gloves to clean and handle Lionfish in preparation for the cook-off, during the Lionfish Hunt II held in Seymour’s, Long Island on May 17-18, 2013. (Photo/Ministry of Tourism)

Chef Sandra Morrison at Cape Santa Maria displays Lionfish cakes made with breadcrumbs, herbs and garnished with locally grown pineapples, during the cook-off of the Lionfish Hunt II held in Seymour’s, Long Island on May 17-18, 2013. (Photo/Ministry of Tourism)

SEYMOUR’S, Long Island – The Ministry of Tourism and its partners have come together to further heighten the awareness of the invasive venomous Lionfish in Bahamian waters and steps to eliminate its impact on local species.

One such avenue is the Lionfish Hunt II, a competition and cook-off between local fishermen and chefs, held May 17 to 18, 2013 at Seymour’s Dock.

A predominately fishing economy, the island, which is 90 miles long and four miles wide, is split by the Tropic of Cancer. It is noted for the famous Dean’s Blue Hole and steep rocky headlands. A concerted effort has been launched to heightened the presence of the Lionfish which has been sighted following the passage of the devastating Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

The Department of Marine Resources has classified the Lionfish as an invasive alien species outcompeting and preying on commercially and ecologically important marine species. And, the best way to manage the species is to eat it.

Hence the two-day hunt and cook-off explored the hunting, handling, cleaning and eating of the Lionfish, which is proving to be quite the delicacy.

Approximately 270 fishes were caught, the largest up to 16 inches in size. Organiser and fisherman Charles Knowles and Frederick Arnett, Assistant Fisheries Officer at the Department of Marine Resources donned impenetrable gloves and spearheaded the handling and cleaning of the catch which was fillet and shared amongst the restaurants involved in the cook-off.

Chefs from Cape Santa Maria and Stella Maris Resort prepared the fish in a variety of dishes such as fish cakes garnished with locally gown pineapples, and stir-fried Lionfish in a tropical Thai curry sauce also with freshly grown pineapples.

Samantha Fox of the Ministry of Tourism office on the island underscored the importance of educating residents and tourists about the Lionfish.

“The Ministry of Tourism has partnered with individuals in the community in their efforts to bring further awareness about the species,” she said.

“It (hunting) has also become a tourist attraction, when visitors come into Long Island, divers take them out snorkelling and educate them about the species.”

She said because of the abundance of the species, restaurant owners are being encouraged to add it to their menus. And, entrepreneurs to use parts of the fish for jewellery and other craft items once the venom is cured through cooking.

Another organiser of the Lionfish hunt Theresa Knowles of Bahamas Discovery Quest said based on snorkelling expeditions, there was a noticeable growth in the numbers of the Lionfish. They became so prevalent so they started studying them.

“It was shocking because Long Island is a fisherman’s island and without fish available, the economy would really go down fast.

“So, we decided to put together a Lionfish hunt and at least be able to clean the shoals, the shores and coral reefs right along the edges of Long Island and begin to educate individuals about what could be done,” she said.

For the first Lionfish hunt, she said the committee worked very hard for three months and was quite shocked at the response that people felt the Lionfish meat was great to eat.

Subsequently, individuals were approached and handed information about the Lionfish and what it could do to the local marine resources.

The ultimate goal is to work with The Bahamas Marine Exporters Association in putting the Lionfish on the market, she said.

“The Lionfish hunts are great but it is a temporary measure. But the long-term goal is to be that any fisherman can sell Lionfish meat on the market.”

Frederick Arnett, Assistant Fisheries Officer at the Department of Marine Resources said the department has been playing a significant role in the awareness and education of the Lionfish since 2009, when it developed the National Lionfish Response Plan with the College of The Bahamas.

Since then, the department has actually signed on to a regional project called Mitigating the Threats of Invasive Alien Species in the Insular Caribbean (MTIASIC).

The Department of Marine Resources is the national executing agency for that project, a four-year programme aimed at addressing the invasive species issue, generally within the region.

There is nothing unique about the prevalence of the Lionfish in the waters surround Long Island, as opposed to other islands in The Bahamas, Mr. Arnett said.

“This information sharing, knowledge awareness and the whole community gathering should happen in each of our major islands,” he said.

May 17,2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

...we Bahamians don’t have an issue with slavery... ...We don’t mind giving up our personal freedoms, our self-determination ...we don’t mind having to rely on other people to feed us clothe us determine our future... ...Like Uncle Tom, we don’t mind a Massa ...we just want a good one

Five Years Later . . .


IF YOU were born with a disability, this is not about you.
If you are a child; this is not about you. If you are among the many who through no fault of their own were born here but remain undocumented; this is not about you. If you are sick and struggle everyday to determine whether the little money you have should go to buy medicine or food; this is not about you. If you struggle everyday to overcome the pain of abuse, or if you are still living under the threat of it; this is not about you. If you are an able-bodied, adult who enjoys all of the rights and privileges – real or supposed – of being a Bahamian, then this is definitely about you.
I want to tell you a secret. You are being lied to. You are allowing people to appeal to the laziest part of your human nature and you are giving people the power over you, your life and your children’s lives. Because in truth there is no white man enslaving us, no foreigners taking anything we don’t willingly give up to be taken, no secret society of “others” or “hidden forces” attempting to keep Bahamians down. And even if there is a black boss, a cabal of black bosses who, through either politics or social discrimination, have been able to keep the masses down, I congratulate them because they have subjugated 350,000 people without firing a single shot.
In the end, my friend, if you feel powerless it’s because you didn’t want the power. You worry about feeding your family because you have left it up to people outside of your house to feed you. You worry about not being able to compete with the ever quickly encroaching world because you have not prepared yourself to be marketable. You worry about the land being sold from under your feet because you have ceded the power over the land to a small group of people who would never have power unless you willingly vote them in. If you are unhappy, if you feel like The Bahamas is teetering on the edge of becoming some dystopian hellscape then it’s because you want it to.
I know I can’t do away with 40 years of excuses made on your behalf in 40 column inches, but I just want you to know, as a church is not the building with polished pews and pretty stained glass, neither is the Bahamas sun, sand and sea – it is the people. It has always been the people and its fortunes rest on the people. And when I say people I don’t mean those people, not your people or my people…I mean on you, the individual.
What upsets you? You don’t like the abuse of our environment? What have you done in the past 40 years, other than talk about it? You believe Bahamians are disadvantaged by an influx of foreign workers?
What have you done to educate yourself to replace the foreigner with the bachelors degree, the masters degree, the doctorate, the one with the second language, the one who has worked abroad or spent 10 plus years in the field?
Are you willing to take the cutlass out of the hand of your Haitian brother to work in your neighbour’s yard or the wash basket out of the arms of the Filipino maid of the lady down the street? And if so, are you satisfied with only being a replacement for the gardener or the maid?
Does crime upset you? Are you willing to call the police on your cousin? What about your uncle? Your son? What about your daughter’s boyfriend or your boyfriend? What about your neighbour? Your husband? Or is it just the crime you don’t benefit from that upsets you?
Does child abuse disturb you? Are you going to say “that’s nothing new” when you hear most of our sexually active teens are trading sex for chattel or say “that’s our culture” when you barely blink at a story of a man in his mid-twenties and the 15-year-old mother of his child?
But I understand. Bitching and whining, winging and complaining… there’s some comfort to that and actually doing something… well that would be something.
If we were honest with ourselves, I mean like really honest, we Bahamians don’t have an issue with slavery. We don’t mind giving up our personal freedoms, our self-determination, we don’t mind having to rely on other people to feed us, to clothe us to determine our future. Like Uncle Tom, we don’t mind a Massa, we just want a good one.
So every five years, as we have done for the past 40 we look to a group of 39-40 overseers who run the plantation for the massa we hope will bring us more food, softer work and nicer things. If they fail we sadly do not turn to ourselves and say what can I do to save myself from this untenable situation we turn to the Massa one plantation over and say: “Run, come Massa Pindling, save me from cruel Massa Symonette”.
And then 25 years later: “Run, come Massa Ingraham, save me from thieving-Massa Pindling.”
Then 10 years later: “Run, hurry come Massa Christie, the yoke Massa Ingraham put on me too hard.”
Then five years after “Massa Ingraham, I sorry I didn’t appreciate you better please help me! Massa Christie does run he plantations slack and let the overseers run through the pantry.”
Then another five years after: “Massa Christie come back, I forget how hard Massa Ingraham is be.”
On a side note, if I were the political powers that be in this country, I would be quick to teach self reliance and self determination because the years between the hand over from one massa to the next is getting shorter.
The sad, unfortunate – and I believe unintended – consequence of our practised version of our adopted European faith is that we continuously seek a saviour outside of ourselves – in a manger, in the sky, existing in some age other than this, in some realm other than the here and now instead of acknowledging the God that dwells within.
But the power of what it means to be Imago Dei – made in the image of God – cannot coexist with a system that needs you to be dependant, that needs you to need it. So we are encouraged to ignore that grace and abandon what could be paradise on earth for the Land of Should. And the land of Should is full of wonderful Should trees that grow big fat Should fruit.
One tree bears: The Government should, the other tree: The Church should, the next one over, the police should and still another, my boss should. But there is another little tree far in a cave in a dark corner in the Land of Should that everyone ignores. It is a very important Should tree, but it grows a bitter fruit that no one likes called: “I should.”
We all say that we want nothing more from these people than access to opportunity – but that’s a lie. Let’s be honest, it is. We want to be given something, a hand out. We’ve spent a generation getting used to it. We have forgotten what our grandparents’ knew: Opportunity doesn’t drag people up from the gutter it meets them half way on their climb out.
We have allowed politicians to tell us that we are poor, disadvantaged, that there is some magical secret bag of money, a whole boatload of stuff in some secret harbour that the other guys don’t want you to have, but only if we bring them into power and put them on the throne that the ship will let loose its moorings from its hiding place and come right into Potter’s Cay Dock. You know it won’t because there is no ship. There never has been, never was and never will be. The only ship that will ever come into port is the one you captain yourself.
There was a time when it didn’t matter that we were poor, that we were uneducated or under-educated, where great achievers emerged from yards with outdoor toilets and clapboard palaces. Why didn’t that hold them back? Because it didn’t matter that they were poor because everyone was poor and everyone had an outdoor toilet. They still had to achieve and they achieved with far less – most dying wishing they had one fraction of the opportunity that we just pass by today.
So the next time “they” are doing something to you that you don’t like, stop and think about how much of that thing you don’t like is being done to you with your permission. Much has been said about how some of our grandparents sold their votes for a sack of sugar, a pound of flour and some lard. Don’t allow yourself to regard this fact with self righteous indignation, we are no different. What is it now? A government job or contract? The protection of a politician? Sweet promises and sweeter lies?
Democracy is an exercise, capitalism is an exercise, that means that it requires effort, work, stretching, heavy lifting, it is a doing, it is not something that is done to you. But if you find that it is being done to you… then it is something else entirely.
May 13, 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

In Search of Incorruptible African Leadership

AFRICANGLOBE – In the 21st century, whoever examines the leadership crises on the African continent seems to have a few questions which still remain unanswered: could there still be some incorruptible leaders out there which the continent must reach out to? If yes, why have they refused to step forward at a time when the African people need them most?

Why do people with strong moral backgrounds never seem to be interested in the political African discourse? Can Africans continue to leave the fate of their children in the hands of those greedy politicians that are seeking political power as a means to their financial breakthrough?

Shocking Documentary Portrays a Looming Crisis

A couple of days ago, while busily examining the ways in which the African youth can save the continent from the firm grip of corruption, neo-colonialism, bad leadership and the wasteful nature of our ‘democratic’ elections (as in Zambia where by-elections wastes huge chunk of taxpayers money), a friend of mine recommend l could be better off doing some research on the emerging trend where corporate institutions are rather facilitating the systems that worsen our woes in a more sophisticated manner.

In fact, just when l thought Africa is on cause to uproot corruption for good, l was shocked to discover that what we have witnessed for from previous years were just a tip of the iceberg. With the advent of science and technology, corporate greed and neo-colonialism still at work, African leaders are still looting the continent on a daily basis without a trace. Curiosity they say kills the cat. I began a journey in search of answers to help save mother Africa from the hands of these traitors.

There and then my attention was quickly drawn to some essential materials. On top on the list were:
1.“Hiding Africa’s Looted Funds: Silence of the Western Media”, a must read article written by Lord Aikins Adusei.

2.“How To Rob Africa”, an Al-Jazeera documentary by Zimbabwean undercover journalist Stanley Kwenda and Gahana’s Anas Aremeyaw Anas(a documentary I suggest every African youth must watch).

In “Hiding Africa’s Looted Funds”, the writer threw more light on how financial institutions here in Africa and abroad have been colluding with corrupt African leaders to rob the continent of her wealth; depositing these blood money somewhere in Europe and America without any media outrage whatsoever. Yet under their leadership, these are the very leaders who lead the crusade to solicit for more loans on behalf of the African people as if to say such loans are truly meant for our development. What fails to make the news is the percentage of such loans that end up in offshore bank accounts. It was very interesting reading the tall list of overseas financial institutions which have been collaborating with corrupt African leaders to steal African moneys for decades.

Perhaps the sad part is that many of these African leaders often die, leaving the huge sums of looted funds in offshore banks which is later confiscated by the Western politicians for their own use. As we speak today, all the billions of dollars that was stolen from Nigeria and recently in Libya have all gone ‘missing’. Nevertheless, the West have never made any accounts to Africa on the whereabouts of such moneys though many of such African leaders have long died and gone. For instance, what has happened to all those dollar accounts owned by African politicians secretly held in Swiss Banks? Has Europe made any effort to return these looted funds to Africa, though many of such African leader have long died and gone?

How To Rob Africa

While watching “How to Rob Africa”, I shed tears and wondered why the West have carefully designed such sophisticated schemes with the sole purpose of robing Africa of her wealth. I became completely astounded about the sophisticated nature in which corruption has eaten deep into the moral fibres of our leaders. What is more worrisome at the moment is the nature in which some fellow Africans are willing to collaborate with the perpetrators of these criminal activities while remaining anonymous.

Currently, it is said that the Caribbean is increasingly becoming the safe hideout for such looted funds from Africa. I am in touch with some organisations to help expose some of the politicians and other similar institutions involved in the looting of Africa.

Old Age is Bad For African Leadership

In order to end the crisis, the old age-style leadership must end. The youth must be given the opportunity to exhibit their youthful exuberance at the leadership front. For many years, Africa has suffered enough from the hands of old men who never see the need to pave way for young and fresh ideas. This is despite the fact that many of the youth are beaming with fresh ideas and solutions. Our constitutions for instance have cupped the age requirement for the office of the president at 50 and above. This trend has completely side-lined all the youth from daring to venture into the highest offices on the continent.

May 11, 2013

African Globe

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Haitian villages, Haitian shanty villages, Haitian shanty towns... ...and their environmental issues and unhealthy conditions in The Bahamas... ...Report warns of a serious and growing threat to public health

Shanty town residents fear crackdown

Guardian Staff Reporter

Many Haitians living in two shanty towns on New Providence yesterday said they were fearful of being forced to move from the only place they call home, following a scathing environmental report revealed by The Nassau Guardian.

There has been “a marked increase” in the number of shanty towns on New Providence over the last two years, and the populations have grown “exponentially”, according to the report completed by researchers in the Department of Environmental Health.

The report titled, “Haitian shanty village locations in New Providence” indicated there are at least 15 Haitian shanty villages on the island. The Guardian visited two of those communities yesterday.

Several residents of a Haitian village off Faith Avenue and Milo Butler Highway were observed sitting in a social hub of the community speaking a mixture of Creole and English.

Several residents, though initially reluctant to speak, welcomed The Guardian into their houses, to gain a first-hand look at living conditions.

Those houses had three to four rooms, including a kitchen, bedroom and common room, and some were outfitted with a bathroom and toilet.

Yolande Pierre, 31, said if the government decided to clear out the area, those who can not afford to rent elsewhere would be forced to move to Haiti or become homeless.

Pierre, a Haitian-Bahamian married to a Haitian man and mother of five, said The Bahamas is the only country she knows.

The report, which has yet to be released to the public, indicated researchers found a “marked indifference to the extremely unhealthy conditions by those that occupy the shanties”.

Researchers said “the presence of discarded human usage, waste, combined with the presence of domestic livestock is evident”.

They warned, “In time, many of the animals from these yards will enter the food chain — as owners of the livestock observed in one particular shanty — and be sold to grocery and wholesale meat outlets as well as [used for] their own consumption.”

While garbage littered the outskirts of the community, the area appeared clean, well kempt and the only odor present was that of food being prepared.

Pierre said some residents have inside toilets and those who do not use a shared facility that is attached to a man-made cesspit.

“People say the shanty towns are bad, but I don’t see it being bad,” Pierre said. “The only thing that matters is the garbage and people do the very best they can to keep the environment clean.”

“Bahamians would say we don’t pay any bills, but if we had a choice of paying bills where the government would build us some homes with rent - though Bahamian society would not allow it - for the Haitian-Bahamian sake, we would be happy to do it.”

Frederic Bien-Amie, another resident, pointed out a sign that read “no dumping”. He said the community is a close-knit one that assists each other.

One such resident was Sarah Phillis, whose house had no electricity or water supply, though the 50-year-old said she was happy to use the shared outhouse toilet.

“Everyone tries to keep their yards clean,” Bien-Amie said. “I don’t have any garbage in this yard. I tell everybody, ‘keep your yard clean.’”

Members of the community clean the shared outhouse, Bien-Amie said.

Meanwhile, in a Haitian village located on Montgomery Avenue off Carmichael Road, several residents said the area is being developed to become more self-sustaining.

During a tour of the area, one resident, who did not wish to be named, pointed out a small vegetable farm, chicken and duck coop and an outhouse attached to a cesspit.

He said residents find the term shanty town degrading and discriminatory, and prefer the term Haitian communities. He felt the report was not an accurate reflection of his community.

“Don’t think these people are nasty, some of them have toilets,” the resident said.

“You have areas in New Providence with outside toilets, people running outside to get water on the main road. The government needs to deal with that first.”

Guerline Petit-Charles, who lives with her mother and father in that community shared that resident’s views.

Asked about the report, which warns of a serious and growing threat to public health, Petit-Charles said many residents are doing the best they can, and while they want more for their families, without employment or assistance they have to make do.

“I don’t think they throw any garbage or any waste in plastic bags or anything like that,” said Petit- Charles, who told us she has been searching for work for three years.

“They build their outside bathrooms where they dig a sewer hole and build it up just how they do it for a cesspit.”

May 15, 2013


Monday, May 13, 2013

Proud To Be Bahamian!

Your Say: We Must Be Proud To Be Bahamians

THE REV Fr S Sebastian Campbell continues his articles reflecting on how to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Independence.
JANUARY 10 is the new holiday, to be written in law, to be first observed in 2014. It’s done, albeit long in coming. It’s most unfortunate that we live in a culture of sloth and tardiness. Our prayer must always be: “God lord deliver us.”
With the spirit of nationalism burning in our souls, the very idea should ignite great pride and cause every true blooded Bahamian to dance for joy.

How can politicians and Members of Parliament muddy the waters at such a pragmatic moment by advancing that there are too many holidays on the annual calendar?
How as representatives in a Christian nation a suggestion can be advanced to eliminate a Christian holiday?
These politicians, in part, claim to be the mouthpiece for the business community. True or false, is not important.

The time comes, for an evolving country, to stand up against nay-sayers, advance its nationalist flag of identity and show the world its priority. Economics cannot forever be an over-riding influence that dictates who we are and what we should do. Representatives in Parliament are elected to be the keepers of the flame of our spirit of nationalism. Or is it, again, petty, political mischief in an unending quest to score cheap brownie-points.

No one can disagree that January 10, 1967, is a singular defining movement in our march to nationhood. It’s shameful that it has taken 46 years, three Prime Ministers and two political parties to finally do that which was inevitable. Anyone could have done it, but kudos to our present day Prime Minister for advancing this nationalistic fervour. It goes now to his legacy along with a litany of other cultural, national advancements that are being entrenched into law. Among them, The Randol Fawkes Labour day, the National Honours and Heroes legislation, Heroes Day, National Heroes Park among others with a National Cultural Commission as an engine to keep this train going.
The National Heroes Committee has been in place for approximately twenty years, preaching this same one message of nationalism as we made demands on our Bahamian people and government to run with the ball and be radical enough to do these things. It has been painful, during the recent debate, on Majority Rule Day, to hear Members of Parliament negating the struggle of our campaign. It is nonsense to talk of too many holidays or converting an existing holiday. Many who contributed were shallow in their presentation. I did not feel the power of the struggle coming from the “belly” of these representatives. Many didn’t live it, neither was research evident. Some could have done a much better job.
I cannot join the chorus of “Too many holidays”. There are political detractors. Why would they use Barbados and Jamaica as measuring rods. Why not go to Trinidad and experience how liberal they are with holidays as a teaching tool or use Barbados and discover a national heroes day and an Errol Barrow day were added without conversion. I came into the National Heroes Committee at the time when founding members Fred Mitchell and Loretta Butler Turner were demanding a holiday for nation hero Milo B Butler, without sacrificing any present day holidays.

I still believe Butler deserves a day or until such time we embed him in the National Heroes Day Holiday celebrated in October.

But I do seriously believe Lynden Oscar Pindling, Father of the Nation, like Errol Barrow, Father of Barbados, ought to have a holiday named in his honour. Surely Fawkes and Pindling ought to be memorialised this way. Both changed the destiny of our country. They are at the pinnacle of the chart on national heroes. At Sir Lynden’s death, then Prime Minster Ingraham said: “Sir Lynden is the greatest Bahamian who has or who will ever live.” Now we must convert words into action.
It was ridiculous to consider sacrificing Whit Monday as that holiday for conversion as suggested by a Member of Parliament? Is he crazy? This is a Christian nation.
As such, we must know that Whit Monday celebrates a defining moment in the life of the church. In fact, it is the birthday of the church, on this day Christianity was born. We must teach it, not abandon it. The church must wake up when ignorance parades in garments of sheep’s clothing. We, the church, is failing in teaching the truth the whole truth about our faith! “Take your hands off – Whit Monday. It must not be converted!
Our cultural advance continues in this our year of celebration 40th Anniversary of Independence. Let us join the movement to re designate colonial appendages, rename streets, bridges, airports, docks and harbours. Let our islands all name their heroes and celebrate them. Let us talk to our tradition bearers and write our history, before we lose all of it. Let us look at “we–sef” and celebrate us, in this Bahamas without apology.
Be Proud To Be Bahamian.
May 09, 2013

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Bahamas and the Case for Another National Holiday... ...the addition of Majority Rule Day... ...

By:Llonella Gilbert
Bahamas Information Services
May 7, 2013

Bahamas Would Not Be Out Of Sync With 11 National Holidays

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie said based on random surveys of other nations, with 11 national holidays including the addition of Majority Rule Day, The Bahamas will not be out of sync with international norms.

The Prime Minister set out to prove that the concern about the aggregate number of public holidays in The Bahamas is “greatly exaggerated” as he wrapped up the debate on the Majority Rule Day Bill in House of Assembly, Monday, May 6, 2013.

“At present, we observe 10 national or public holidays in The Bahamas. The addition of Majority Rule Day will bring this number to 11. How does this compare with other countries?”

Prime Minister Christie said, “As a comparative frame of reference, the following should be noted:

In the U.S. there are 11 federal public holidays (one of these, it should be noted, is observed quadrennially (the others being observed annually).”

He explained that in Barbados, they also have 11 public holidays. (Of particular interest, Barbados has both a National Heroes Day and an Errol Barrow Day observed as separate national holidays).

“In Trinidad, they have as many as 14 national holidays.

“In the United Kingdom, the position varies: England has eight ‘bank’ holidays, as they are called, but Scotland and Northern Island which are integral parts of the United Kingdom have nine and 10 public holidays, respectively.”

He said in Bermuda, a colonial territory with whom The Bahamas has a great deal in common, both in terms of historical ties and basic economic configuration (tourism and financial services), there are 10 public holidays.

In the Cayman Islands, another colonial territory with which The Bahamas has certain economic similarities, they have 12 public holidays.

The Prime Minister explained that in continental Europe, in France, they have 12 public holidays.

“In Switzerland, a country that we have a lot to do with in terms of our financial services industry, holidays are set not by the federal government but by the 26 individual cantons into which the country is divided.

“Interestingly, however, for a country that justifiably prides itself on its work ethic, 17 of the 26 cantons have public holidays of 10 or more. In fact, there are some cantons in Switzerland that have as many as 14 to 15 public holidays every year.

“Indeed whether one looks at it intra-regionally, hemispherically, or globally, we will remain very much in line with the norms of developed and developing countries alike.”

Prime Minister Christie said he is aware that employers are concerned that additional holidays may translate into additional measurable financial losses during a time when many businesses are facing during difficult times as many countries are facing recessions and they want to ensure maximum productivity from workers.

“However, that is not an argument against making Majority Rule Day a public holiday. Rather it is, I would submit, an argument – and a perfectly legitimate argument - that perhaps the time has come for national bi-partisan consensus that the total number of public holidays should not increase beyond the total number that will come about when Majority Rule is added to the list.”

He added, “In other words the time has perhaps come for us to agree that after this addition of Majority Rule Day, no more holidays will be added in the future unless an existing holiday is eliminated. That way, the total number would remain stable for the indefinite future.”

Bahamas Gov

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Audit Report: The National Insurance Board (NIB) Salaries and Bonuses were Unauthorised

Report: NIB Salaries and Bonuses Unauthorised

By Ianthia Smith
Jines Bahamas

The National Insurance Board (NIB) audit report noted that former Chairman of the NIB Board of Directors Patrick Ward increased suspended Director Algernon Cargill’s base salary from $140,000 to $171,225.50 from October 20, 2008 to October 19, 2011 without the proper approval.

According to the controversial and scathing report the increases were given without the approval of former Prime Minister and NIB Minister Hubert Ingraham, NIB board of directors and human resources.

The auditors from Grant Thornton sought advice from Thomas Evans QC, senior partner at Evans and Co. Attorneys at Law to determine whether the authorisation and payments of executive salaries and bonuses by Mr. Ward without the knowledge of the proper authorities were in accordance with the NIB act.

But in his opinion, the attorney indicated that Mr. Ward, in approving these payments without the full knowledge of the NIB board and the human resources committee.

That such actions were ultra vires, or beyond the powers of both the board and human resources and consequently are void and of no effect.

Additionally, Mr. Evans said in the report that Mr. Cargill and Human Resources Vice President Richenda King in submitting the proposal for salary increases to Chairman Ward for authiorisation may lead to an inference that they were complicit in the ultra vires conduct of the chairman.

Also from the scathing report Grant Thornton outlined the findings of an interview the company did with Mr. Ward and is reported as saying, “I believe that I did not do anything illegal or unethical and I would certainly react very strongly if someone tried to tarnish my reputation.”

The interview also said Grant Thornton asked Mr. Ward why the Board was not informed about Mr. Cargill’s increases.

According to the report, he replied, “We did not discuss details of the executive remuneration at the full Board meetings. The minister does not approve annual increases. The minister approves the initial contract/terms of the contract,” he continued.

“You cannot run to the minister every time for salary increases. The previous minister didn’t and as far as I’m aware, it has never been done.”

The report also noted that Mr. Cargill took home more than $915,000 from 2011 to early 2013 acting as an NIB representative on the Commonwealth Brewery Limited, Cable Bahamas Limited and Bank of The Bahamas Limited boards.

May 08, 2013

The Bahama Journal

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Facebook and the Rights of Bahamians in The Bahamas

By Dennis Dames:

Facebook is free for all, but it doesn’t mean that we are liberated to slander others with impunity - or to make vile threats against brothers and sisters without consequences. Facebook was not designed to override the justice system, or to be a place where public trials and inquiries are conducted by citizens - in the name of justice.

I have noticed recently, that some of our Bahamian brothers and sisters are using Facebook to exercise their so called rights, while they infringe on the rights of others. This cannot be right. I have witnessed so called trials and inquiries being conducted by compatriots who apparently feel that they are now magistrates and judges in the Bahamian court system.

I have noticed that some of us are now being picked-up, questioned and charged for our Facebook indiscretions. It appears to be getting worse, rather than better. We all have been warned by the Commissioner of Police about our irresponsible Facebook maneuvers; some of us believe that the COP’s warning is a joke, so we continue to be out-of-control in the distorted interests of freedom and justice – on Facebook.

Well, like the saying goes: for every action – there is a reaction. We all have equal rights, and we are all equally free. The law exists to protect every citizen. It is a shame therefore, that some of us feel that we have exclusive rights, so we continue to be the self-appointed judge of the land, the violator of personal privacy, or the shameless slanderer on Facebook.

Okay! Carry on, until the law knocks on your door - to take you to the lawful place, where you must answer accordingly - for your potentially criminal Facebook behavior.

May 05, 2013

Caribbean Blog International

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bahamas Immigration Policy Hurts Tourism ...and Business Expansion

Immigration Policy Hurting Tourism Investment

Tribune 242 Editorial:

MANY BAHAMIANS are walking contradictions. They accept that this country needs the goodwill of tourists and foreign investors, but — in the words spoken from the floor of the House by an older generation — they also “believe that they should bring them (foreigners) in, suck ’em dry and throw out the husks”.
While the Tourism Ministry is spending big bucks to convince visitors and investors that the Bahamas is the ultimate paradise, the heavy boots of Immigration seem to be working overtime to destroy those efforts.
If it is an increase in Bahamian jobs that this government wants, then the Immigration policies, as currently executed, are not going to encourage production of those jobs — rather it will mean that, even locally, many business owners will think twice before expanding.
It should be made mandatory for every Immigration officer to attend the Bahamas Host programme to understand what it means to be working in such a sensitive economy — an economy that depends upon goodwill and confidence. Good manners will not hinder these officers in the efficient execution of their duties, but at least they will learn how to carry out their duties without being boorish.
Judging from the hits on our website from the general public and the telephone calls, the public is incensed by the treatment of the sea lion trainer who was humiliated before the guests of Atlantis earlier this week. All Bahamian hotels are competing against the world market for the tourist dollar. This is the only way that they can keep their doors open, hotel rooms filled, and Bahamians employed.
Atlantis, with its almost 8,000 employees and related associates, is the largest private employer in the Bahamas. Of this number, 74 are foreigners on work permits — way below the number of permits allowed Atlantis under its heads of agreement with government.
Yet this week, three Immigration officers entered Atlantis’ private property through a back gate, interrupted a session the sea lion trainer was conducting with some of the hotel’s visitors, demanded her passport, which, of course, she did not have on her, resulting in them ordering her to their car and driving off. No explanation to anyone. It was a mistake, of course. The lady was breaking no Immigration laws. She was working legally for the resort.
While calling the incident “regrettable,” Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell’s comment that on some occasions the execution of policy causes some “confusion” was not good enough.
Nobody can be confused by common good manners. Wouldn’t it have been more polite to have waited until the session with the guests was over? The officers could have then taken the lady aside and asked the pertinent questions.
Of course, the correct procedure, rather than rushing out the door to show off their bully tactics, would have been to have checked the database at Immigration to confirm the woman’s immigration status. What they would have discovered was that whoever had “tipped” them off to the “illegality” was misinformed.
If whoever in Immigration had done their job, these men would never have been instructed to go to the resort. However, even if Immigration had discovered something wrong, they should have telephoned the hotel and asked to speak with Mr George Markantonis, the president and managing director of the resort, or one of his assistants. But, oh, no! There’s certain excitement in showing who is the boss “in we country!”
Although matters had been smoothed over, Mr Markantonis made it clear that he was still “extremely upset” at the “heavy-handed behaviour” of two of those three officers.
An Associated Press report, published in the Charlotte Observer, in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday, quoted Mr Winston Rolle, former CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, as saying that there are not enough skilled Bahamian workers available for the private sector in the Bahamas.
“What happens when we cannot find people to get the job done? Are these businesses supposed to go without? I don’t think that is practical and realistic,” Mr Rolle said. “I think the current stance by government is damaging. For people sitting outside of the Bahamas, what is being portrayed is scary.”
But Atlantis was not the only resort graced with Immigration’s presence.
Mr Sandy Sands, senior vice president of Baha Mar, had his own Immigration visit. The officers arrived at the Sheraton during the lunch period and detained senior engineers. Mr Sands said that the officers approached the foreign staff in public view. ‘‘At our urging,” said Mr Sands, the officials agreed to “take the matter to a private location,” where the matter was resolved.
While supporting the Bahamianisation policy – by “recruiting talented Bahamians to work in various positions throughout the organisation,” said Mr Sands – “the long-term success of our project depends on attracting expatriates whose skill sets contribute to the success of the project or our operating entities and by extension contribute to the long term success of our operation.
“We have to be careful in terms of the manner in which enforcement of the Immigration Department is conducted and we really have to enhance the perception that the government welcomes foreign investment and by extension welcomes those skill sets that are not readily available within the country.”
The country also has to be “very careful”, he said, that it does not send signals to investors or potential investors that the country is not investor-friendly.
According to Wikileaks, a US Embassy official in February 1976 had an interesting conversation over lunch with the country’s former deputy prime minister Arthur Hanna. The topic was the country’s Bahamianisation policy.
They discussed a range of ideas, including the cost of work permits. It was noted that certain firms had argued that their profits were so marginal that the permit fees might force them out of business. There was also the claim by the larger firms, which had to bring in large numbers of technicians to service equipment, that the added costs were prohibitive.
“Hanna’s attitude,” the official reported to Washington, “ranged from scepticism to outright rejection. He showed no concern over the possibility that the alternative to paying the work permit fees or employing Bahamians was to close down the business.”
Today with the economy desperate for an injection of capital, no one can afford to have such a cavalier attitude — certainly it will not produce the 10,000 jobs that the PLP promised in their first months in government.
April 26, 2013