Teen moms having multiple children, says Minister Griffin

One out of every five births to teenage mothers is a second or a third birth, Minister of Social Services and Community Development Melanie Griffin said April 7. She spoke at the official opening of the Health and Family Life Community Outreach Centre at The Bahamas Family Planning Association and the graduation of students from the Peer Educator's Movement.

These "startling statistics" may only be the records of the PACE (Providing Access to Continued Education) programme, said Minister Griffin, but she said she feels that if they were to see the records of the SCAN (Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect unit) team, the statistics would be even higher.

The Minister said she was happy to note the wide space and information

provided on abstinence at the Health and Family Life Community Outreach Centre at The Bahamas Family Planning Association -- East Avenue, off Madeira Street -- as some 13 per cent of total annual births in The Bahamas are to teenage mothers.

In December, 2003, said Minister Griffin, the PACE programme closed out for the holidays with 53 teen mothers. When they reopened in January, there were 100 teen mothers.

While the young girl shows throughout her pregnancy, the young boy goes scot-free, said the minister.

However, she also said to young men: "You have a responsibility to ensure that you abstain and ensure that you make those choices that will allow you to further your education first, to build your career first. But certainly, I want you to know that if you are in a situation where you are a teen father or a teen-father-to-be, you ought to shoulder that responsibility and not leave that young mother alone."

She added she was pleased to see information there for young men, and urged them to take advantage of that corner created just for them.

Minister Griffin encouraged the students graduating from the Peer Educator's Movement to "walk the path of abstinence." This is "extremely" important, she said, as they will not only be protecting themselves from sexual diseases, but they will also be walking in line with the word of God that says the body is his temple and they ought to take care of their bodies.

The Peer Educator's Movement is an after-school youth group made up of students from high schools. These students, Minister Griffin said, are

concerned about the state of family life in The Bahamas, and peer pressure to engage in harmful sexual behaviour. They each had to educate 10 other young persons on ways to resist pressure, and the importance of making responsible decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.

However, said the Minister, sexual promiscuity, especially among young

people, is rampant in the country. And since the reality was all would not

abstain, they must be provided with family planning alternatives.

"Education is the way of the future," said Minister Griffin. "An informed

people is an empowered people. By educating our people, you are placing power in their hands. I am very pleased to see the expansion and the wide range of educational information available. I am told that in addition to your female health services, the Resource Centre will house a resource bank for family life and health educators with extensive material on child development."

A Bahamianised, comprehensive adolescent reproduction health curriculum, with resources for children in the sixth grade, is available at the centre, she said. There are also resources to conduct psychological and educational testing and tutoring for children and adolescents with learning and behavioural challenges, and other facilities and services to provide educational experiences.

"This centre," Minister Griffin said, "is to be highly commended for the

excellent and expansive resources it is making available to the Bahamian

public, and the vision that you have shown in doing so. I wish to challenge you, however, to increase your visibility and publicity so that the wider public will know that you exist and (to) ensure that your facility is fully used."

To the professionals in the field, Minister Griffin said: "Remember, that it is the right of every child to be nurtured in a safe and caring environment by a parental figure. It is the right of every woman of child-bearing age to be able to live in an environment of love and respect. Therefore, I implore and challenge all of you here today to reach out. Be that leader who positively influences community health. Continue to do your part in improving the physical, psychological, social and spiritual environment of your clients. Use your skills to influence positively the behaviour of your clients. Expand your knowledge and competence in the dynamics of your profession, and continue to create a climate of trust, respect and warmth."

The centre comes to fruition after years of planning, culminating during its present administration. It will be used by residents of New Providence and Family Islanders who visit New Providence.

Conquer life's challenges

Our lives can be different when we know what is important for us. The perception that people have of themselves, to a large extent, determines how others will in turn perceive them. If they model success in their daily interactions, if they claim excellence and determine not to make any obstacle cause them to deter their dreams, they will be conquerors of their situations. It is marvelous and exciting to know that most of the accomplishments that people achieve is the result of their mind processes and the ability to fight issues. The battles of life are won or lost in your mind. Success or failure in life's challenges is largely the outcome of your mental conceptions and the enactment of those thoughts.

Most people become buoyed up, exuberate high levels of energy, and display unbounded jubilance when things work in their favor and expectations are met. Their interactions with others are sparked with joy and satisfaction that they are accepted, they belong, and are prominent and successful. However, when there are failures, how soon they "mope and whine" and fall into despondency. They often wrap themselves in gloom because they become physically, mentally and emotionally weak. Sometimes words of self-chastisement are heard as they seek to blame and give justified reasons for their failures

Such individuals apparently have not yet learnt or accepted the facts of the true composition of life. Failure is as true to life as the needle is to the pole, as death is to life, as darkness is to light and as rain is to the warmth of sunshine. The ability that is placed within you to reverse your thoughts, or the incredible endowment within you to revitalize downtrodden experiences, can bring about healing and strength. You have the ability to choose your freedom in life's circumstances, to be a victim or a winner.

However, nobody should interpret success as the act of always winning. In fighting life's battles, you will not always be on top by making the perfect score. You will make mistakes by untimed thoughts and actions. Challenges might sometimes allow the experiences of life to make you feel cast down and trodden. There is no guarantee that in the fight of life's varied battles, that partiality, injustice, discrimination and indignities that you lash at you, will not strike you down in your emotions. James Barrie's ballad can be a spark for those who are apt to become discouraged. "Fight on, my men

I am somewhat hurt, but I am not slain. I'll lie me down and bleed a while, and then I'll rise and fight again."

Needless to say, life's battles can make you fall and cause you to bleed blood of disappointments, but yours is the challenge to rise up and continue the fight. The stamina to do this indeed breathes great success. Words are inadequate to measure the volumes of strength that a positive attitude can generate.

People need to define success with inclusion of tragedy, discouragement, failure, ridicule and misunderstandings. If you can get up, irrespective of the forces that pull you down in the eyes of good conscience, you are worthy of recognition and praise. "Three times" is not always the law for your struggles... you should keep on trying, fighting, and persevering until failure turns the other side that is called success.

Continue to set goals for your life with the ingredients of patience, determination, steadfastness and good discipline. Be kind, helpful, and respectful and be responsible for your actions as you climb the ladder of your dreams. Your colleagues, family members and the world need your contribution. What you make happen to others will in turn happen to you. Therefore, do not exhibit selfishness and fear of what others might become. Be steadfast in your struggles and "render to no man evil for evil." If you are good to others, others will be good to you. If you be unkind to others, others will be unkind to you. Have a positive portrait of yourself, and stay in the framework of honesty, integrity, loyalty and faithfulness. Prove that you will not be a victim of any negative circumstances.

The failures experienced in life's battles should not haunt and cripple your progress and joy. Conquer your circumstances. Harmonize the nuggets of life effectively in your interpersonal growth. You must be skillful in moving from dependence on the opinions, feelings and persuasion of others. Be motivated by your convictions of the latitude of your independence and intrinsic convictions. Your self-worth can be endorsed only by you, as you face the issues of life. Be alert in identifying people who assign themselves to manipulate your ambition. Be persistent and self-reliant as you wrestle with the impact of the environment. This significantly adds to the challenge of your survival. Use your unique human talents to not merely visualize your challenges, but to fight the impediments that are ever present.

Jump the hurdles that surround you, and celebrate success in all of life's inevitable challenges. Remember that when the path of life is tough, your persistence has the opportunity to grow strong in faith, character and patience.

Family planning means healthier families

However, in its expansive and more complete definition, Family Planning encompasses parenting and life skills, in general, as well as, choosing the conditions under which persons would like to become parents.

This issue of "Joining Hands for Health" explores issues involved in Family Planning.)

Would you buy a car or a house without giving serious thought to all that is involved? One may be relieved of the responsibilities of a car or house simply by selling them.

However, it is not so easy to relieve oneself of the responsibility of children, as they are not returnable.

Many residents in The Bahamas continue to have unplanned and sometimes, unwanted pregnancies. As the official guardian of the nation's health, the Ministry of Health is always concerned about the wellness of all children, and by extension their families. The Ministry encourages family planning as part of an overall National Strategic Health Plan, to help all persons to have equal opportunity to greater security and overall wellness.

The medical journal Lancet declares: "Millions will spend their lives uneducated, unemployed, ill-housed ÉÉÉand unchecked population increase is a major causal factor." Genuine love for their children should help all residents to be realistic regarding the times and world we live in, today.

When planning a pregnancy, it is recommended that both partners assess their ability to provide life's necessities for their children? Surely, one would not want one's children to be either undernourished or a burden to others. Moreover, besides food and shelter, children need good education, moral values, love, attention and time, among others.

Some questions that residents may want to consider are: If you are employed, what is likely to be the impact of pregnancy and parenthood on your job and productivity?

Have you been working long enough to earn maternity benefits? If you are unemployed, how will pregnancy and parenthood affect your ability to provide for yourself and family? Would this change affect your ability to find employment?

Who will care for your child while you are at work? Are you prepared to come home from work and spend time with your child? Do you intend to go back to night school or on some form of job training programme?

What does freedom mean to you? What will be required to secure your child's health?

Do you want to have children to please your partner, family or friends? Do you equate having children with "manliness" or adulthood? Do you merely wish to "test your seed"?

In addition to calculating the physical, mental and emotional needs of the children, the mother's health must also be considered.

The UN publication "Facts for Life - A Communication Challenge" states: "After a woman has had four children, further pregnancies bring greater risks to the life and health of both mother and child.

Especially if the previous pregnancies have not been spaced more than two years apart, a woman's body can easily become exhausted by repeated pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and looking after small children."

In other words, wise timing of pregnancies saves lives and promotes better health of the entire family.

The Bahamas Health & Family Life Resource Centre maintains a non-judgemental atmosphere that empowers open communication of the values and goals of clients. In this way, lifestyle issues are clarified and a family plan is developed that reflects the client's desires and values.

Counsellors avoid "self-righteous" and judgemental attitudes. All clients are afforded privacy and dignity.

A similar atmosphere, likewise, exists in Family Planning sessions at local community clinics.

For some, contraception implies that they are "interfering with God's work" or hindering a natural process.

These erroneous ideas and others are openly discussed so that clients feel comfortable with their family plan.

Clearly, a balanced view of procreation, as well as a consideration for each other and for children, will help all residents to plan their families.

Many contraceptive methods are available, each having both advantages and disadvantages.

In deciding what method is best for you, remember that contraception is vital not just to avoid pregnancy, but, also, to avoid sexually transmitted infections.

Persons should also enquire about potential side effects. (With newer and improved technology, much of the side effects have been reduced and sometimes even eliminated.)

The Ministry of Health encourages all residents to take control of their reproductive health and fertility by understanding contraception, knowing the choices available and taking positive steps to acquiring needed protection.

(For a detailed discussion and information regarding specific contraception methods, please contact the Bahamas Health & Family Life Resource Centre, East Avenue, New Providence, at telephone 325-1663 or P. O. Box N-9071. You may, further, contact the Ministry of Health's Health Education Division at 502-4836.

"Joining Hands For Health" is presented each week by the Health Education Division, as a public service of the Ministry of Health and The Nassau Guardian.

InsuranceÉA tool you should have!

When you think of a tool you do not usually think of insurance but insurance is a tool! The Oxford School Dictionary defines a Tool, as "an object that helps you do a particular job."

This is exactly what insurance is; it is a tool that allows you to provide the vital protection needed for you, your family, and your property in the event of a natural disaster, accident, illness or death.

But only if you have the right type and amount and so it is with all tools, to get the job done you must have the right tool! So do you have the right tool?

1. Do you have adequate and appropriate Life insurance coverage?

2. Do you have adequate health insurance coverage?

3. Do you have adequate homeowners insurance coverage?

4. Is disability insurance important to you?

5. Is content insurance important to you?

Take the Protection Check-Up - Here's a quick and easy way to find out just how much protection you've got, and what you'll need for genuine peace of mind. Once you've completed all the questions, simply give us a call to find out how you scored.

And you should have a tool chest, which is your financial plan!

As you can see there are various types of insurance that you should include in your Tool Chest, one of which is Life Insurance. Life insurance plays an important role at every phase of life, whether it is "getting married", "having a child", "buying a home", "retirement", or even, "death."

Life Insurance is a valuable tool that helps to preserve your financial stability after the loss of a loved one.

Simple put, it provides you with income when you need it most!

Life insurance can help carry out your hopes and dreams, even after you're gone as the death benefit life insurance provides can replace some of the income you would have earned, preserving your savings, investments, and other assets for the purposes you intended. It also helps to provide the funds necessary for your surviving family members' current and future needs.

With the death benefit, your family can maintain its standard of living, have funds to stay in the place they call home, eliminate outstanding debts, and have an instant estate for your beneficiaries.

In addition to death benefit protection, permanent life insurance can also offer valuable benefits while you are living. In many situations, policy cash values can help to pay your children's education expenses, pay unexpected expenses, supplement retirement income, or help to fund business opportunities.

Yet, most people have never completed a formal insurance need analysis, or discussed the different types of policies in the market.

To find out how life insurance can complement your other financial planning contact me today and get yourself a free insurance check-up!

Comprehensive can help secure your loved one's futures. If you would like help in these areas, please give us a call at 1-242-327-0854 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We're here to help you live the life you want.

Imperial Life Financial to sponsor All Saints Camp Concert Fundraiser

Imperial Life Financial recently announced the rescheduling of its concert fundraiser in aid of the All Saints Camp. The new date is August 5, said organizer Alpheus Finlayson. Imperial Life is the principal sponsor of the Red Ribbon Ball, and is continuing its campaign for HIV/AIDS awareness and its assistance to the Camp in providing residents medical and general care.

Richenda King, Executive Director of Human Resources at Imperial Life, said it was a pleasure to be a part of another exciting initiative. The concert will feature Berkley Van Byrd and Friends and showcase artists from around the country such as John "Chippy" Chipman, Peanuts Taylor, Daval Roker, Paul Hanna, King Eric, Eugene Davis, Rev Glenroy Nottage, Dr Bernard Nottage and a new group called The Bahamas Supremes. King Eric Gibson has also agreed to provide musical entertainment, as his club King and Knights on West Bay Street will be the venue for the concert. "It's an exciting club setting, with a good sound stage, lots of space for dancing and great security," Mr Finlayson added.

According to Clothie Lockhart, Nassau West Branch Manager of Imperial Life, "the event comes as a result of understanding our corporate mission at Imperial Life Financial and because of understanding our God-given sacred and humanitarian responsibility to assist those who may find themselves dispossessed in any way."

Rev. Glenroy Nottage, Director of All Saints Camp made an appeal to the public to support the event. "The AIDS situation is not going anywhere in the near future," he said. "We need to make sure that the people who find themselves in this condition have every support necessary to be at peace and at rest during these circumstances."

Event Chairperson Mr Finlayson, recognizing that almost every Bahamian family has been impacted either directly or indirectly by HIV/AIDS, said the concert is a good opportunity to raise funds for a good cause. "You can see from our fine line up of performances that everyone who comes will enjoy themselves." He added that Imperial Life plans a follow-up event - An Old School Evening - which will be held in September.

In 1994 Imperial Life Financial signed a sponsorship accord with the AIDS Foundation of The Bahamas, committing human and financial resources in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Now, 10 years later the company has raised over half-a-million dollars in its HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.

Tickets for the August 5 concert can be obtained from the Nassau West Branch at Imperial Life on Collins Avenue.

All Saints Camp To Use Donation To Purchase Generator

The All Saints Camp- home to 42 adults and 8 children with AIDS is one step closer to purchasing a much-needed generator following a donation from the Red Ribbon Ball.

Imperial Life Financial, sponsors of the Ball, presented the camp with a cheque for $5,100 on Nov. 24; the Ball also raised $43,000 in ticket sales for the AIDS Foundation, co-sponsors of the event.

According to Glenroy Nottage, director of the All Saints Camp, the facility has desperately needed a generator, a fact that became even more apparent during Hurricane Michelle.

"We had some serious experiences lately with this Hurricane Michelle. And one of the things we have never been able to handle very well is when the power goes off," says Mr. Nottage. "To be Bed-ridden and to be sick and to be in darkness is a serious thing. And with these houses being wooden, we don't advocate the use of candles and kerosene lamps."

With the planned new generator, Mr. Nottage says, "Now the power can go off when it chooses to, but we'll always have power." But the hurricane also took a heavy toll on the property.

"We got torn up real bad," says Mr. Nottage. "We had about six or seven houses that suffered serious roofing damage and structural damage. We had a portion that was actually turned around nearly 360 degrees, and a lot of our trees were destroyed. But the people were fine, the people survived. So we can always replace those things."

Geno Nairn, chairman of the Red Ribbon Ball committee, says this will hopefully be the first of many in-house Red Ribbon Ball raffles raising money for the All Saints Camp.

"We plan to perhaps do it every year to help this programme," says Mr. Nairn. "A number of people don't even know that this programme exists. And we're asking business houses to come forward and assist, either with food items or materials that they would need to support the programme."

The idea to donate money to the All Saints Camp came from Michael Adderley, branch manager of the Nassau Central Branch of Imperial Life Financial. He says with the ongoing fight against AIDS, the work of the camp is often forgotten.

"I believe that the real work is being done here," says Mr. Adderley. "When people are given up at the hospital, they are dumped here to die. And I think it's here where you can actually turn people's lives around. When the world, society, medicine have given up on them, we have somebody in their last hours, giving them hope to live on."

Since 1994, the Red Ribbon Ball has raised close to $300,000 in the fight against AIDS.

Replacement Air Controllers Prompt US Safety Concerns

The delayed transfer to Miami air controllers of basic flight contol data by Nassau's 'overwhelmed, uncertified replacement controllers' is creating more work for them and "edging on a safety factor," a union spokeman has charged.

The US National Air Traffic Controllers Association has complained that controllers co-ordinating flights between Bahamian and United States airspace are experiencing numerous information exchange problems.

What is life?

You know when you dream of becoming somebody and then someone comes along and takes away your dreams from you by taking your breath away. Then all hope is gone. What is life to some of us here today? It means nothing.

What is happening in this little country of ours? We have three hundred thousand people and some of us do not care what life is all about. You are dating a young lady and she is seeing someone else... You take a gun, shoot this young man for dating the lady who doesn't belong to you.

In the past, the saying was an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. What are we doing to some of these young people who are taking away the dreams of these young people? They are stealing and killing, what are we doing? Nothing. The Bible said in Exodus 20: 13, "Thou shall not kill ", but what are we doing? Nothing. We have all these Human Rights for those who do the killing. What rights does the family of the victims have, but pain and suffering. They are making the prison like a motel for the prisoners to enjoy and they have the attitude - so I can kill someone and they are not going to hang me.

We have to do something about the written law and enforce it to the maximum. If we don't, we will have a lot of killing, stealing and raping which is really bad for a little country like ours.

What are the political parties of this country doing? Nothing. What are the men of the cloth doing? Nothing.

All we are doing is making it better for those who are going to prison to enjoy themselves.

Walking in the Spirit - Part 2

At a personal level, for many years I slavishly followed the desire, nay the fantasy one might say, of entering a monastery of enclosed and contemplative monks. I refer to the strictest variety of monasteries where the monks and nuns do not leave their monasteries to engage in pastoral activities or works of mercy, and will only leave the monastery for very special reasons or medical emergencies and so forth.

I had always reckoned that the verse, "One thing I seek; to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life," was God's unique invitation to me to spend the rest of my life in prayer and praise behind the walls, imaginary or real, of an enclosed contemplative monastery.

To make things worse, in my naiveté, I assumed that contemplative monks and nuns were all exceedingly holy, like the saints. Eventually, though, experience was to teach me that monks and nuns are just like us. Indeed they are ordinary men and women struggling to attain holiness.

By holiness I do not mean piety or even religious fervour, but rather the desire to live close to the Spirit of God and in service to the greater community. Unlike ordinary folk, monks and nuns, however, enjoy the luxury of having their lives geared to achieving such a lofty objective. For instance they have a lot more time allocated to prayer, meditation, contemplation and spiritual reading than we ordinary folk with families to raise and so forth.

Previously, there was no doubt in my mind of the meaning of this Psalm verse "one thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life." In fact I never even questioned it or tried to analyse the words in any intelligent way.

Prayer and my own struggle to live in the Spirit of God have helped to clarify for me what the verse really means for Christians and non-Christians today, and this in essence is the reflection that I wish to share with my readership.

It now appears that the house of the Lord implies not a building or a structure but rather the essence of God or the reality of God's actual presence. In 21st century-speak, we would probably paraphrase the verse as follows:

"One thing I seek: to dwell continually in God's holy and loving presence all my life."

That makes a lot more sense, and is as meritorious as the attempt to pursue an exceedingly strict vocation in a contemplative monastery somewhere deep in the countryside.

It is imperative for us to bear in mind that very little in life is static or changeless. Take common rocks, for instance. On the surface and certainly without the aid of a microscope, it may appear that rocks do not change, that they remain static. Rocks, however, are subject to the action of sun, wind, and rain and they will eventually undergo tremendous changes, breaking down into smaller particles we call pebbles, shale, sand or dust.

We can learn a valuable lesson from the rocks. Specifically, it may not be a very wise for us to read Scripture (or history or medicine for that matter), as if it were written in tablets of stone with one meaning or interpretation - and one only -- for all generations to come, forever and ever more. Everything is ultimately subject to change. It has to. After all, we are living organisms that only cease changing when we die.

The truth about Life Insurance and why you DON'T need 'ONE'

It takes time to build a life. And it takes time to develop and grow. So give yourself, and your family the time they deserve and the time they require. " - Glenn

I think there is a misconception about what Life Insurance truly is. Life insurance is a financial instrument that:

1. Allow you to make risk free investments by guarantying your principle.

2. Let you make money on your money while diversifying your investment choices.

3. Give you a guaranteed return on your investment.

4. Provide you with an immediate inheritance for your family.

5. Allow you to continue to provide for your loved ones even after you die.

6. Allow you to create future income with minimal monthly contributions.

7. Guarantees repayment of loans.

8. Allows penalty free withdrawal of cash.

9. Provides you with low interest loans.

Life Insurance is the only product that I know that provides these comforts. But only if you have the right type and amount. You see when it comes to Life Insurance, "one size does not fit all" and you do not need to just have one. You need to have the Right One! One that provides you and your family the vital protection needed for your particular set of circumstances.

I am often amazed at how many persons have Life Insurance policy's with face amounts of $100,000.00. Let's see, What's the face amount of your policy? Is it $100,000.00? Have you ever wonder why you bought that specific amount? How did you arrive at this number?

Most insurance professionals recommend that you get insurance coverage equal to six to ten times your annual income. While this rule of thumb may be helpful, it does not take into consideration your personal situation and most times results in persons just having one -a life insurance policy. But a policy that leaves them and their family under insured!

To avoid this situation, we have developed a tool that allows you to remove the guesswork in determining your Life insurance needs. With our Life Insurance Estimator you'll be able to find out whether your present life insurance policy is the right one for you. If you don't have life insurance, then you can use it to discover how much coverage you will need to protect yourself and your family's dream and future.

Once you know the amount of coverage you need, then you have to determine which type is best for you. If you are looking for the insurance investment that provide the greatest benefits then you should consider a Whole Life insurance policy.

A Whole Life insurance policy has both an insurance component and a savings component called cash values. It provides life insurance protection in the event of your death as well as accumulates cash over time.

Although you pay one premium for the total insurance policy, part of that premium is used to pay for the insurance coverage and the remaining part of the premium goes toward your investment savings. This savings portion of the policy is invested in one or more investment vehicles (mortgages, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) that the insurance company select and the investments chosen will generally provide a better rate of return than a bank's savings account. What's more, the cash value of your policy can usually be accessed if you need money.

Whole Life insurance policies are well suited to cover long-term needs, because the coverage continues for the rest of your life or to age 100. You won't need to renew your policy periodically, nor will you need to provide proof of insurability once the policy is in place. The premium also does not increase (level premium), so you won't have to worry about the rising costs of insurance as you get older or your health deteriorates.

In addition to the protection, you can rest assured that in most cases your premiums will never exceed your return. In the earlier years your cash values will not reflect this, as there are certain items such as reserves that must be established at the onset of a policy. As well as administrative and commission expenses which are higher in the earlier years. But in a few years your cash value will begin to grow and with the help of compound interest continues to grow.

Whole Life insurance gives you a return on your money based on the investment choices of the company. But even if the investment returns of the company are not that great, you still make money on your money as most insurance companies guarantee that it will credit a minimum amount of interest to your cash values. Insurance that lacks the cash value feature, such as term insurance, doesn't offer such investment opportunities.

You can also withdraw portions of your policy 's cash value. A withdrawal of cash value is similar to a withdrawal from a bank savings account and almost as easy to make. As long as you maintain enough cash value in the policy, you can make withdrawals and still keep the life insurance protection in effect at your desired coverage level.

You can also take loans against your policy using the accumulated cash value as collateral. The interest rate is determined in advance and is often lower than the rates banks offer. If you die before the loan is repaid, however, the death benefit proceeds will generally be reduced by the amount of the outstanding balance.

Finally, because of its unique savings element, whole life insurance can be put to other uses. You can, in fact, use it as much as you would use your other investments. The expected growth of your cash value makes this type of insurance a good way to save for major financial goals such as, making a down payment on a mortgage, paying off a mortgage early, retirement, starting a business, or funding your children's education.

Now that you know the truth about life insurance, make sure you don't just have one but the right one!

"Nothing is more powerful for your future than being a gatherer of good ideas and information. That's called doing your homework. Do as much research as you can because nothing beats being prepared.

Colbert, They Are Counting On You!

When you were born, you cried and everybody else was happy. The question that matters is this: When you die, will they still be happy even though they are crying? " - Glenn

Last Saturday was an extremely busy one for me as I stretched myself to attend three funeral services, two of which went on at the same time. But I felt obliged to attend. As I sat in two of the services, I thought about the lost the families must have been feeling as they mourned their loved one. You see these individuals were very young men in their forties; with seemly lots of life still left.

Men that had gone too soon from their families who still needed them very much.

Moved by the experience, I went back to my office and looked over the weekly obituary and was surprised by the number of young men who were being buried. Then realized that in a single week the lives of a number of Bahamian families was being changed forever. These families will never be the same!

What will the wives and children of these men do? How will they remember them? Will they be consoled by their foresight or will they experience despair by their lack of it?

Apart from the human lost, what would be the financial impact on these families? The answer soon came as I read the report " The Financial Impact of Premature Death." The report looked at:

1. The financial impact of the death of a spouse and the financial adjustments the family had to make as a result of the death?

2. The role of life insurance in mitigating the financial impact of the death?

3. With the benefit of hindsight, do the survivors feel that their deceased spouses were adequately insured?

4. How long does it take a family to recuperate financially from the death?

The report's conclusion was that the premature death of a spouse has a significant financial impact on a family's financial security with 65 per cent of the surviving spouses saying the death had a 'devastating' or 'major impact'.

It also found that:

1. As a result of the death, surviving spouses have had to take second jobs, work longer hours, borrow money, or sell their homes to make ends meet.

2. Even three-five years after the death, about half of the surviving spouses say that their family's financial situation is still worse than prior to the death.

3. 61 per cent of the deceased had some type of life insurance coverage. However, 66 per cent of the beneficiaries received proceeds that were less than three times the deceased's income.

4. Sixty-six per cent of the individuals were underinsured.

5. Spouses were able to use the life insurance proceeds to pay for burial expenses, bills and loans, medical expenses, and day-to-day living expenses.

Do you ever think of the impact your death will have on your family? Why will your family be crying when you die? Will they be crying out of despair or love? Do you ever think of that?

I'm not being morbid but all of us will die. And what will our children - and friends - and colleagues - and acquaintances think of us? What impact will we have had on their lives?

_ Will they praise God for what He accomplished through you?

_ Or will they say, "you had a huge impact on my life - a destructive one. You left us lot of unpaid bills to pay and a very uncertain future because of your lack of planning."

You are worth a fortune to your family if you live, but what if something suddenly happens to you, have you made the appropriate plans? They are counting on you to!

If you are a parent, what will happen to your children if you die suddenly? How will they afford to live?

I'm sure that you would like your children to live in a comfortable environment where they will have the same opportunities for education and advancement, as if you were alive and able to contribute financially.

The solution to this problem may be in acquiring life insurance. Life insurance covers you against the risk of dying and is an affordable way to protect your family. The proceeds from the life insurance policy can be used for the benefit of your children.

Having adequate life insurance ensures that your children will be adequately provided for without being a financial burden to anyone. Having insurance as part of a well drafted financial plan will provide you peace of mind.

Life Insurance helps to preserve your families' financial stability after you're gone. Simple, it provides them with an income when they need it most and you can no longer provide it!

Your family is counting on you, you may delay but time will not. So to get you started we offer you our free report "Not Just Another Friday; Preparing for the inevitable" and our "Life Insurance Estimator" as tool you can use to make sure you don't let them down.

Remember, "There are no little events in life, those we think of no consequence may be full of fate, and it is at our own risk if we neglect the acquaintances and opportunities that seem to be casually offered, and of small importance. " -

What is important in life?

Let me commence today's article with a simple question, which I'd readers to answer with complete candor. Here's the question, what is important to you? Let's be a bit more specific with that question, what is THE most important thing in your life right now? Well, my friend, how did you answer that one?

As I'm asking that most important question, I'm thinking in my mind about some of the more obvious answers, which people may give. I'm also pondering, exactly how I myself, would have answered that question many years ago. Now here's what I believe, would be some of the more obvious, and indeed predictable answers to that question, 'What is THE most important thing in my life right now'?

I guess to the student in college, the predominant thought in his mind is passing his exams and getting his degree. This is indeed quite understandable, although it's the wrong answer to the question.

The young married man with a couple of young children, would probably say, that the most important thing in life for him is to be able to provide a good quality of life for his family and give his children a good education. Once again, most admirable, but again the wrong answer to the question.

The young entrepreneur, who has recently started her own business, will no doubt be consumed day in and day out with growing the business into a successful and indeed profitable one. Once again, an excellent objective, but the wrong answer I contend, to the question asked, 'What is THE most important thing in your life right now?' So what is the right answer, you may say? Well let me give you the answer to that leading question.

Firstly, to all who answered that question incorrectly, don't worry about it. It's taken me a long time to get to the point in my life, when I finally understood what is really important to me. My friend, if you were to ask me the question posed here today, 'What is THE most important thing in my life right now?', my answer would be immediate, it would be instant - the most important thing in my life is God!

That's right, this is the very first relationship which we all need to develop so that everything in our lives will be in order, 'divine order,' that is. Once your awareness of, and your relationship with God is in place, I honestly believe, everything else will simply fall into place.

When the student takes care of matters spiritual, God will assist him with his studies, and he will be successful.

The young married couple will have a fantastic life and all will be well with the children, when the family builds a strong foundation on God.

The person who is in business for himself, will likewise only experience real and lasting success, when he brings God into the mix, as his main partner.

So, my friend, please don't ever forget THE most important part of your life the spiritual. Allow God to work in and through ALL of your affairs, and your life will be truly outstanding. Don't ever forget that it is the Father's good wish to give you the kingdom.

Building Better Families II- The Challenge

Social scientists seek to explore and establish characteristics that engender strong, healthy and productive families. They are interested in those traits that undergird successful families. They also wish to establish a code of conduct that provide the human organism with stamina in times of stress or crisis as it faces the inevitable issues of life.

Learning to think in new ways while remaining loyal to acceptable lifestyles are ingredients that create successful families. When a large percentage of marriages end in divorce, when many people refuse to get married largely as a result of personal choices, there is need for a structure that will support the fundamentals of family units.

Family life facilitators and other family professions are not always able to tackle the underlying concerns that make family issues so hazardous and difficult to reconcile. Family members can often inflict hardship on each other without considering the consequences. Ignorance and negative relationsips sometimes are the results that must be endured.

If families are to be nurtured and if members are to feel attached there must be an actualisation of each person's self-esteem, emotional balance and a sense of responsibility. There must be dedication to cultivate and encourage the beauty in an individual's personality.

Only healthy families can appropriately nurture acceptable life-long relationships. The goal of family structures should be to establish strong and healthy families. This does not mean that such families are free from mental illness or physical disabilities. Neither does it mean that such families are free from legal and civil infringements or free from problems. Instead, strong and healthy families have techniques to cope with the issues of life. They are resilient and empowered to cope intelligently with the challenges of life. Such families can objectively evaluate themselves and in turn can enact solutions that are effective.

In order to be nurturing to all members in the family, male and female members must be able to adapt to gender differences and their roles. They must understand the factors that contribute to good mental and social health as well as the family's spiritual values. Maturity in the family will help them make right judgments when issues arise. Kindness, tolerance, love, respect and appreciation for each other will undoubtedly help to decrease dysfunction in families.

Whenever adequate, well-structured and supportive nurturing is implemented, hope, fortitude and cordial relationships will be the products. Families will then be able to survive the issues of life fearlessly. Social attachments will become meaningful and in time will validate the richness of strong family ties.

Family stress

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." (The Serenity Prayer)

Family stress is tension that arises and taxes the emotions, mental and physical well being of family members, and others. In many instances, family financial resources are affected bringing more stress. Financial stress is often created when there are inadequate funds for children's education, housing and medical bills.

Sometimes the need to provide for the daily demands of groceries, telephone, electricity, water and other basic needs can be very nerve racking.

Financial stress can be adjusted b cutting back on unnecessary, sporadic spending on trivial things. A budget should be made and followed as closely as possible.

Financial stress can be alleviated if members of the family have working abilities can solicit extra part-time jobs. Adding resources can be easily carried out if there is effective family communication.

In situations where family members can express their feelings and display a willingness to cooperate in practical modifications to their lives; tension, anger and frustration are likely to subside.

Changes in the family, can affect the expectations of some family members, especially if the crisis is sudden and dramatic.

The death of a family member, diagnosis of serious illness, loss of employment, unexpected pregnancies, and the destruction of property, are but a few situations that can cause crisis in the family.

Positive changes can also cause stress in families. The sudden increase of income, winning a greet financial prize, relocating to a large city, moving into a large house, getting a promotion or educational successes can undoubtedly precipitate stress.

Social scientists call any thing that causes stress and tension, "stressors". These vary considerably in types and degrees. How families respond to stressors will greatly determine their happiness.

Stressors can be demoralizing whenever moral values are threatened. Unwanted pregnancies in some families can create a real concern. Demotions on the job, criminal prosecutions, scandal, family violence, alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide are some of the social issues that extreme and prolonged tension to some families react stressfully.

Small stressors can mushroom into great difficulties when they occur in rapid succession.

It is difficult to prescribe treatment for family stress, since each situation has its own unique characteristics. Whether the stress is caused by biological and emotional factors, a high level of optimism and techniques for coping are essential. Indeed, it can be stressful to recognize after the ordeals are past, but with the support of friends, natural support systems, the church and community welfare outreach programmes, the burdens and pain can become more bearable.

For effective assistance to be ministered, the persons involved need to express their frustration, anger and true feelings before the situation gets out of control. Recovery is possible from all situations whether trial and error methods are used, or professional services are rendered.

It is advisable that we learn to meet crises objectively and accepting each one as a challenge and not a misfortune. Be positive and find the blessings and opportunities for growth in every situation.

Allow the sentiments from the Serenity Prayer to be a beacon in your soul as you deal with stresses that are inevitable to life and living.

Pansy Hamilton brown is an educator, itinerant guidance counselor and a certified family life educator.

It Is A Certainty!

On Sunday I had the privilege of participating in the transitional service of a lady who had been blessed with a very rich and long life. While we have been promised "three score and ten years and by reason of strength four score years." She lived to be four score and thirteen.

During her lifetime she greatly affected her family and community - The church was filled to capacity to show it. There were people from all walks of life and social status. There were blacks and there were whites. All remembering the influence this lady had on their lives.

What was most interesting to me was the cheerful and generous spirit displayed by this lady throughout her entire life. People testified of how they would go to visit her feeling down because of her physical state but left uplifted because she was so cheerful and encouraging. Others would have visited wanting to share what they had with her but eventually left with a lot more than they had brought.

This lady worked until she was forced to retire by her employer. Her granddaughter felt that if it were up to her grandmother, she would have continued to work until her death. Which shows that sometime these decisions are made for us.

She was financially independent and while in retirement had the fund available to give loans to those who were much younger and still working. She even continued to support her church on a weekly basis. Her pastor pointed out that her envelope was amongst the first to arrive even when she may have been unable to make it to church - She had lost her limps to amputation and confined to a wheel chair.

How will people remember you after you die? Do you ever think of that? I'm not being morbid - unless Jesus comes back in the next 100 years or so, all of us here today will die. And what will our children - and friends - and colleagues - and acquaintances think of us? What impact will we have had on their lives?

* Will they praise God for what He accomplished through us?

* Will they say, "Who died? Oh, yeah, I vaguely remember them."

Or will they say, "they had a huge impact on my life - a destructive one. They left us lot of unpaid bills to pay and a very uncertain future because of their lack of planning."

You see it is a certainty that you will die and if you do not die you will retire! Are you making plans for either?

The only way you will be able to avoid the bills is if you die and then your family will have to bear the responsibilities. Either way you will certainly be remembered for what you did or did not do! The question then is how would you like to be remembered?

If you are a parent, what will happen to your children if you die suddenly? How will they afford to live?

I'm sure that you would like your children to live in a comfortable environment where they will have the same opportunities for education and advancement as if you were alive and able to contribute financially.

The solution to this problem may be in acquiring life insurance.

Life insurance covers you against the risk of dying and is an affordable way to protect your family. The proceeds from the life insurance policy can be used for the benefit of your children.

Having adequate life insurance ensures that your children will be adequately provided for without being a financial burden to anyone.

It is often assumed that young families have a lesser need for insurance because death is not an immediate issue. However, accidents, criminal acts, and terminal illnesses strike the young as well as the old, so having insurance as part of a well-drafted financial plan will provide you peace of mind. With Life insurance you can:

* Create an inheritance.

Even if you are not well off you can use life insurance to provide for your children's future. Life insurance can provide you with money to pass an inheritance on.

* Provide your children with a college education.

The increase in the cash value of certain life insurance policies may be used to provide funds for college.

* Provide your family with a debt free home.

The proceeds from a life insurance policy may be used to pay off the outstanding mortgages owed allowing the house to pass to your family without any mortgage.

Oh Yes, Life insurance will allow them to pay for your funeral!

It's a certainty; you will either die or retire so you should start planning. Don't wait any longer!

Catholic Archdiocese prepares couples for matrimony

With summer fast approaching, and spring barely past us, "love is in the air." Traditionally a time to rejoice and a time of rebirth, it is also a time when people find love and eventually happiness.

As a result, summers are usually a time for weddings. A wedding, however, is more than just flowers, diamond rings and pretty dresses. It is indeed a serious endeavor and a heavy responsibility.

Recognizing that many couples may not be prepared to enter such a scared commitment, the Catholic Archdiocese offers a programme to prepare the grooms and brides for their future together. In 1976 Basil Christie, then Director of Religious Education for the Catholic Diocese, initiated the offer of the Marriage Preparation Course in New Providence. Monsignor Preston Moss, then of St. Joseph's Parish-Nassau, who had adapted the programme the Pre-Cana Conferences (the U.S. version of the programme), recognized that pastors did not necessarily have all the expertise necessary to implement the courses. As a result, he began bringing together engaged couples in his Parish and inviting married couples and professionals to share their advice and experiences. From this initiative the programme, which was originally offered twice a year, is now offered four times a year and involves seven courses.

The programme begins with an interview with the engaged couples and their parish priest about six months prior to the marriage date. Following this initial step, a seven-week course is required (courses begin in January, April, June and September). In addition to completing the courses, the couple is required to meet with their Parish Priest on a regular basis to ensure all is going well. Through these meetings the priest is able to determine whether the couple is prepared for a Christian marriage. The meetings also serve as counseling sessions during which the couple and their priest discuss communication, the theology of marriage, trust and commitment, family planning, parenthood and finances. These discussions are further supported by the courses of the programme itself which include: 1) Friendship - Trust and Commitment, 2) Sexuality, Intimacy and Family Planning, 3) Communication Skills and Conflict Resolution, 4) Parenting Skills, 5) Marriage as Sacrament, 6) Money Management and 7) Marriage Spirituality.

Upon completion of the required course and approval by the priest, the couple begins to plan their wedding. The Marriage Preparation course is just one of the programmes offered through the Office of Family Life at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre which provides counseling, lectures, workshops, develops and implements family life curriculum, and provides educational materials for use by schools and parishes.

"We've come a long way with marriage preparation in the Archdiocese. There was a lot of resistance in the beginning but now the former participants are encouraging others to attend, even couples who are not Catholic.... I feel good when couples come up to me at the end of the course and say, "You know, we didn't want to come to this, but now we are so glad we did.... It really opened our eyes to a lot of things we had never even thought about. " We've tried to listen to the couples, as well as our pastors and the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission, and have updated the course over the years to address the realities of family life in the Bahamas."

Mrs. Mary Ferguson Director of the Archdiocesan Family Life Office

These efforts have also been extended to the Family Island Parishes. Videotapes are also offered to those couples who wish to become married. These marriage preparatory courses are mandatory and many times are taken by non-Catholic couples contemplating marriage.

Fighting life's challenges

Our lives can be different when we know what is important for us." The perception that people have of themselves, to a large extent determines how others will in turn perceive them. If they model success in their daily interactions, if they claim excellence and determine not to make any obstacle cause them to deter their dreams, they will be successful. It is marvelous and exciting to know that most of the accomplishments that people achieve are the result of their mind processes. "The battles of life are won or lost in your mind." Success or failure in life's challenges is largely the outcome of your mental frame of reference and the enactment of those thoughts, whether they are good or evil.

Most people are buoyed, exuberant high levels of energy, and display unbounded jubilance when things work in their favor and expectations are met. Their interactions with others are sparked with joy and satisfaction. However, when there are failures, how soon they "mope and whine" and fall into despondency. They often wrap themselves in gloom, become physically, mentally and emotionally weak. Sometimes words of self-chastisement are heard as they seek to blame and give justified reasons for their failures. Such individuals apparently have not yet learned or accepted the true composition of life. Failure is as true to life as the needle is to the pole, as death is to life, as darkness is to light and rain is to the warmth of sunshine. The ability that is placed within you to reverse your thoughts, or the incredible endowment within you to revitalize downtrodden experiences, can bring about healing and strength. You have the ability to choose your freedom in life's circumstances.

Nobody should interpret success as the act of always winning. In fighting life's battles you will not always be on top by making the perfect score. You will make mistakes by ill timed thoughts and actions. Challenges might sometimes allow the experience of feeling cast down and trodden. There is no guarantee that in facing life's varied challenges that partiality, injustice due to human weaknesses, discrimination and indignities will not strike you down. James Barrie's ballad can be a spark for those who are apt to become discouraged. "Fight on, my men. I am somewhat hurt, but I am not slain. I'll lie me down and bleed a while, and then I'll rise and fight again."

Needless to say, life's challenges can make you fall, lie and cause you to bleed blood of disappointments, but yours is the challenge to rise up and continue the fight. The stamina to do this is also a great success. Words are inadequate to measure, or suggest the volumes of strength that this positive attitude can generate.

Persons need to define success with inclusion of tragedy, discouragement, failure, ridicule and misunderstandings. If you can get up, irrespective of the forces that pull you down in the eyes of good conscience, you are worthy of recognition and praise. "Three times" is not always the law. You should keep on trying, fighting, persevering until failure turns the other side called success.

Continue to set goals for your life with the ingredients of patience, determination, steadfastness and good discipline. Be kind, helpful respectful and be responsible as you climb the ladder of your dreams. Your colleagues, family members and the world need your contribution. What you make happen to others, will in turn happen to you. Therefore, do not exhibit selfishness in fear of what others might become.

The failures experienced in life's battles should not haunt and cripple your progress and joy. Harmonize the nuggets of life effectively in your interpersonal growth. You must be skillful in moving from dependence on the opinions, feelings and persuasion of others. Be motivated by your convictions of the latitude of your independence. Your self-worth can be endorsed only by you, as you face the issues of life. Be alert in identifying persons who assign themselves to manipulate your ambition. Be persistent and self-reliant as you wrestle with the impact of the environment. This significantly adds to the challenge of your survival. Use your unique human talents to not merely visualize your challenges but to fight the impediments. Jump the hurdles and celebrate success in all of life's inevitable challenges.

Remember that when the path of life is tough, your persistence has the opportunity to grow strong in faith, character and patience.

Pansy Hamilton Brown is an educator, itinerant guidance counselor and a certified family life educator.

Identifying 'strong families'

Strong families are effective in nurturing family members and are also able to stabilize other families who are faced with challenges that attempt to destroy them. The characteristics of such families should be adopted as family life professionals create and maintain healthy, strong families.

Such families have acceptable balances on privacy, respect for members in the unit, the actualization of ambitions and a sharing of responsibilities. Strong families deal with economic issues, social conduct justice, and contribute to the efforts made by law enforcement agencies to establish and preserve safe and cordial communities.

The mental health of families must not be overlooked. Where there are family quarrels and a struggle for survival, if the mental health is addressed, it is likely that resolution strategies will be implemented.

In situations where mothers are controlling, irritable and uncompliant, where fathers are authoritative, bullying and distant, the entire family may soon need mental health treatment.

What makes a family strong?

Families bonded by love have a sense of belonging, foster nurturing, are responsible, respect the rights of others, encourage meaningful communication, can be termed as strong. In addition, if they are responsible, caring, sharing and have a resolute value system making God the center of the family, they can be classified as "strong families."

Strong families can be identified by the reputation that they have in their communities, and the contributions that they make in establishing a decent and exemplary environment.

Strong families that over-ride stressful situations, survive adversity and maintain their family dignity should be held in high esteem. Families who talk about their sad experiences in ways that encourage others, instead of being overwhelmed, giving support to hurting family units must be applauded.

A study was done of over two-hundred families who faced adversity when family members were missing during the Vietnam War. The research found that families dealt with frustrations by:

1. They maintained their integrity and kept the family together as a team.

2. Families worked to establish a meaningful relationship.

3. Families encouraged self-reliance as they developed personal skills, strength and independence.

4. Families developed trust, understanding and acceptance based on their spiritual values.

5. Families bonded together and ordered a support system for each other.

These characteristics helped them to cope as they faced other challenging experiences in life.

A literature review suggests that family strength is based on effective communication skills being demonstrated positively.

The more members can shift their roles with respect to power and responsibility, as parents and children mature, the more families improve their strength. The ability for families to adapt to change, both internally and externally is a vital factor in family strength. Changes in the holistic development of family members and the ever-changing society, can impact families negatively if they are not prepared to be flexible and accept the realities of life.

The following factors can prove helpful in structuring a strong family

1. Commitment to one another and developing a bond and connectedness.

2. Spending quality time together is effective in discovering family needs. Having recreation and planning strategies for further family growth.

3. Being open to resolving conflicts through meaningful and non-threatening communication,

4. Elaborating and extending extravagant praise and appreciation while minimizing negative comments.

5. Having a mission statement for the family and establishing a good value system.

6. Confirming spiritual values based on a purpose and values of the family.

7. Being involved in community activities and making contributions that will improve life-styles in an anti-social environment.

8. Confirming who your family is, identifying the family tree and the legacies that are involved and should be perpetuated.

Families should strive for tolerance, be resolute in dealing with change and emotionally strong to deal with crisis. Families can be viewed as being resilient, strong and distinguished, if cohesiveness becomes the experience of every member.

Strong families are the nucleus of strong communities and a dynamic world. Here, peace, love and understanding will be permanently modeled, and will provide the capacity for a rich co-existing resilient experience.

PM gives condolences to Darling family

Prime Minister Perry Christie Sunday extended sympathy to the wife and family of Norman Darling, while speaking at the Progressive Liberal Party's anniversary prayer breakfast. Mr Darling, a soldier in the United States Marines, was killed Thursday in Fallujah, Iraq.

"The fact that Bahamians are serving in the various parts of the American Armed Forces tells us again of how close our countries are, not only historically but currently," said the prime minister.

"Our hearts go out to them [soldiers killed] and their families and our prayers, for by the very nature of their work, they were at risk," said Mr Christie. "this is not the first nor the last that a Bahamian gives his life for the country that he is fighting for, and generally, with the cause being the cause of freedom. We truly extend our sincerest sympathy to the wife, parents and family members of our departed brother."

Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell told The Guardian Sunday that he, too, was saddened by the loss of life and extended his sympathy to Darling's wife and family.

As indicated in The Guardian's Saturday report, Sidney and Madeline Darling got news of their son's tragic death Thursday night when his wife Kimberly called from their home in the United States. This news was confirmed on Friday evening when U.S. Embassy officials joined by Bahamian Foreign Affairs officials visited the Darling home in Nassau.

Mr Darling advised other parents with children fighting in the U.S. forces to pray for the safety of their children and be confident in the decision they made to be soldiers. He said that it was only God that was allowing him and his wife to remain strong during this time. U.S. Embassy officials are assisting the Darlings with arrangements for travel to the U.S.

An official statement is expected from the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs early this week.

The importance of family involvement in mental rehabilitation

Families play an important role in providing support to individuals with mental health problems. Such families have unique needs. Family loyalty affords an early and continuing source of assistance in coping and living with mental illness, despite feelings of stigma and shame. "Joining Hands for Health" begins to investigate the issue of family involvement in mental health, as well as family friendly services offered by the Ministry of Health, through the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.)

Zan is a typical, young Bahamian man of twenty-four years. He was provided with a good education, and had the support of a loving family. He excelled at sports and music. His intelligence makes him good at just about everything that he does.

However, he is not always able to effectively perform socially, and function independently. Zan has an emotional disorder. His situation is not unique, as many residents and their families have to contend with similar mental illness.

If you ask any devoted, Bahamian parent what they would be willing to do for their children, their likely response may be: "What wouldn't I do?" However, residents whose children or other relatives have mental illness often find that they are never able to do enough. This can be frustrating. Such families may find their situation isolating and overwhelming. They may feel confused, disoriented, guilty, fearful, fatigued and have a desire to escape.

Well-meaning friends and acquaintances who do not understand the unique challenges these families face, may further exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and helplessness by blaming the persons with the mental illness, along with their families. Perhaps the parents did something wrong during the ill person's childhood? Who passed down the "bad gene"? Is the mentally ill person just too weak, and not able to cope effectively with life's stressors? Or perhaps, these ones have not done enough to "get cured."

In The Bahamas, we are uncomfortable with discussing mental illness, much less providing overt support. Many persons question the appropriateness of discussing the challenges faced by the families of mentally ill residents. The general lack of understanding about mental illness as well as the stigma associated with it, is perhaps more debilitating than the illness itself.

Admittedly, most persons go through some form of mental illness at some time in their lives. Mental illness is actually a continuum of illnesses and disorders that may range from mild depression to extreme disorientation. It is ironic that we can accept and even empathize with persons with illnesses such as a cold and cancer. However, we feel immobilised when it comes to something dealing with the "head."

At Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, family involvement in therapy is encouraged and supported. It is crucial that families have an equal voice in decision-making and the choice of therapy for their relatives. In the wards, families discuss with the medical team the social history of the client, as well as treatment options. Family consent is sought for all medical procedures done. The family is encouraged to meet regularly with the medical team, and may accompany their relative at the outpatient clinics.

Family participation is the mainstay of treatment because it is recognized that the family must be a basic component of any successful treatment strategy. Inclusion and active participation of all invested parties are felt to be essential.

Health care providers assist families to obtain individualized centered service in order to meet their special needs.

There are three weekly family support groups at the Community Counselling & Assessment Centre. There, family therapy and stress management sessions are offered. The aim of all of these services is to maintain the unity, integrity and competence of the family. They are coordinated so as to reduce the stress of coping with mental illness, by strengthening and supporting family members in the role of caregivers.

Family support is not so much a set of services, but rather a philosophy or approach to healing and treatment. This is all done with the understanding that the single most important influence in a person's life is that of his/her family. Further, families provide a sense of belonging and affirms a sense of self-identity, especially in cultures such as ours.

The Ministry of Health encourages all residents who are caring for relatives with mental illness to employ treatment- seeking behaviour, rather than merely rely on informal sources of support. The Ministry has identified as a national concern enhancing the level of awareness and knowledge of mental health issues in the country. Most persons with mental illness are neither "crazy" nor a threat to others in the society.

If you desire to assist a family who is coping with mental illness, it is crucial that you do not adopt a critical attitude; do not concentrate on the negatives, or what the family is not doing.

Families who have a member that has emotional or mental problems are already painfully aware of what is wrong.

Parents, especially, frequently blame themselves for their child's problems.

Help to strengthen the things that are positive within that family, offer practical assistance (for example, running errands), and be a source of encouragement. Sometimes a simple prayer said out loud, that includes all members, goes a long way.

COPING STRATEGIES -- Here are some practical things that families coping with mental illness can do for themselves.

Keep informed: Everyone in the family needs to learn about the symptoms, duration and treatment of the illness.

Do not listen to rumours: Discuss with the medical team and the person concerned about his or her illness.

Do not presume to know more about what a person is going throughÉÉask them and be prepared to accept and respect what you hear.

Find a friend or support group: This can reduce your stress and anxiety. Others can share similar experiences in a friendly, supportive environment. Join a social club or organization: Participate in activities.

Keep healthy: exercise and eat well. Caring for ill family members takes a lot out of you.

Take time out for yourself: participate in activities that you find enjoyable and pleasantly distracting.

Ask and seek help: There are many families going through similar experiences. Additionally, the Ministry of Health has many services in place to help both you and your ill family member.

Call the ward where your relative is a patient, and speak with the health team expressing your concerns and fears.

Finally, Do not blame yourself or others!

(For more information regarding mental health and services available you may, further, contact the Ministry of Health's Health Education Division at 502-4836.

"Joining Hands For Health" is presented each week by the Health Education Division, as a public service of the Ministry of Health and The Nassau Guardian.

Family planning means healthier families

However, in its expansive and more complete definition, Family Planning encompasses parenting and life skills, in general, as well as, choosing the conditions under which persons would like to become parents.

This issue of "Joining Hands for Health" explores issues involved in Family Planning.)

Would you buy a car or a house without giving serious thought to all that is involved? One may be relieved of the responsibilities of a car or house simply by selling them.

However, it is not so easy to relieve oneself of the responsibility of children, as they are not returnable.

Many residents in The Bahamas continue to have unplanned and sometimes, unwanted pregnancies. As the official guardian of the nation's health, the Ministry of Health is always concerned about the wellness of all children, and by extension their families. The Ministry encourages family planning as part of an overall National Strategic Health Plan, to help all persons to have equal opportunity to greater security and overall wellness.

The medical journal Lancet declares: "Millions will spend their lives uneducated, unemployed, ill-housed ÉÉÉand unchecked population increase is a major causal factor." Genuine love for their children should help all residents to be realistic regarding the times and world we live in, today.

When planning a pregnancy, it is recommended that both partners assess their ability to provide life's necessities for their children? Surely, one would not want one's children to be either undernourished or a burden to others. Moreover, besides food and shelter, children need good education, moral values, love, attention and time, among others.

Some questions that residents may want to consider are: If you are employed, what is likely to be the impact of pregnancy and parenthood on your job and productivity?

Have you been working long enough to earn maternity benefits? If you are unemployed, how will pregnancy and parenthood affect your ability to provide for yourself and family? Would this change affect your ability to find employment?

Who will care for your child while you are at work? Are you prepared to come home from work and spend time with your child? Do you intend to go back to night school or on some form of job training programme?

What does freedom mean to you? What will be required to secure your child's health?

Do you want to have children to please your partner, family or friends? Do you equate having children with "manliness" or adulthood? Do you merely wish to "test your seed"?

In addition to calculating the physical, mental and emotional needs of the children, the mother's health must also be considered.

The UN publication "Facts for Life - A Communication Challenge" states: "After a woman has had four children, further pregnancies bring greater risks to the life and health of both mother and child.

Especially if the previous pregnancies have not been spaced more than two years apart, a woman's body can easily become exhausted by repeated pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and looking after small children."

In other words, wise timing of pregnancies saves lives and promotes better health of the entire family.

The Bahamas Health & Family Life Resource Centre maintains a non-judgemental atmosphere that empowers open communication of the values and goals of clients. In this way, lifestyle issues are clarified and a family plan is developed that reflects the client's desires and values.

Counsellors avoid "self-righteous" and judgemental attitudes. All clients are afforded privacy and dignity.

A similar atmosphere, likewise, exists in Family Planning sessions at local community clinics.

For some, contraception implies that they are "interfering with God's work" or hindering a natural process.

These erroneous ideas and others are openly discussed so that clients feel comfortable with their family plan.

Clearly, a balanced view of procreation, as well as a consideration for each other and for children, will help all residents to plan their families.

Many contraceptive methods are available, each having both advantages and disadvantages.

In deciding what method is best for you, remember that contraception is vital not just to avoid pregnancy, but, also, to avoid sexually transmitted infections.

Persons should also enquire about potential side effects. (With newer and improved technology, much of the side effects have been reduced and sometimes even eliminated.)

The Ministry of Health encourages all residents to take control of their reproductive health and fertility by understanding contraception, knowing the choices available and taking positive steps to acquiring needed protection.

(For a detailed discussion and information regarding specific contraception methods, please contact the Bahamas Health & Family Life Resource Centre, East Avenue, New Providence, at telephone 325-1663 or P. O. Box N-9071. You may, further, contact the Ministry of Health's Health Education Division at 502-4836.

"Joining Hands For Health" is presented each week by the Health Education Division, as a public service of the Ministry of Health and The Nassau Guardian.

Your Best Bet For '03 and Beyond!

On Thursday night as I watched one of my favourite television programmes, "Lou Dobbs' Money Line" on CNN, there was a report that talked about how a $1,000 investment in a cross section of U.S. stocks had diminished over the last 12 months. If you had made this investment and depending on the stock you chose, your $1,000 was now worth anywhere between $929 and $459. That mean you could have lost as much as 50 per cent of your money.

We in The Bahamas have not fared much better. If you were like me who looked for safe sectors in our stock markets to invest in last year, then you know there were none to be found. No matter how diversified, you tried but we all still lost money last year. We all watched our portfolio deteriorated right before our eyes, powerless to do anything about it.

In 2002 it was a case of bad compared to worse and based on what is being said by the experts, we can expect more of the same in 2003.

There has never been a time when there is so much uncertainty in the markets, whether it's from the threat of international conflict, corporate restructuring or consumers' pessimism. There has never been a time when so many economic fundamentals are up in the air at the same time. Even our usually dependable real estate sector is forecasting minimal growth for 2003. As it is expected to be affected by shrinkage in the ever-lucrative office and upscale residential rental occasioned by expatriate workers.

So what do you do? Why not take time to ensure that you are properly managing your family's money!

Even if you have no money, or you're heavily in debt, it's important to re-evaluate your situation and come up with a plan to cut your expenses and maximise your earnings. It's a sure bet to improve your finances.

Secondly, review your saving and investment habits, as these may be out of whack.

Although the experts have said it all along, it is good that persons are now realizing that an investment in the stocks market is risky business. They are now realizing that you can lose money and that you should only invest from money you can afford to lose.

But there is a product outside of stocks and mutual funds that is not so uncertain and allows you to:

1. Protecting your Principal.

2. Get a guaranteed return on your investment.

3. Create an immediate Estate for our family.

The only product that provides these comforts is Whole Life Insurance. It is an invaluable tool and you should be sure to include it in your financial planning.

Cash Value Life Insurance

Whole Life insurance is life insurance that has both an insurance component and a savings component called cash values. It provides life insurance protection for your family in the event that you die, but it also accumulates a cash value over time.

You pay one premium for the total insurance policy and a part of that premium is used to pay for the insurance coverage you have purchased. The remaining part of the premium goes toward the investment savings. This savings portion of the policy is invested in one or more investment vehicles (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) that the insurance company select and the investments chosen will generally provide a better rate of return than a typical bank savings account. What's more, the cash value of your policy can usually be accessed if you need money.

Who should consider cash value life insurance?

A Whole Life insurance or Cash value life insurance is well suited to anyone wanting to cover long-term needs, because coverage continues for the rest of your life or to age 100. You won't need to renew your policy periodically, nor will you need to provide proof of insurability once the policy is in place. Most cash value life insurance also allows you to lock in a premium schedule (level premium), so you won't have to worry about the rising costs of insurance as you get older or your health deteriorates.

Advantages of cash value Life insurance

Life insurance protection

As with any life insurance policy, one of the main strengths of Cash Value Life Insurance or Whole Life Insurance is that it can provide adequate financial resources for your surviving loved ones in the event of your premature death. Knowing that this protection is in place allows you to sleep a little easier at night.

Your Principle is Guaranteed.

In addition to Whole Life insurance providing protection, you can rest assured that your premiums will not exceed your returns. In the earlier years, your account will not reflect this, as there are certain items such as reserves that must be established at the onset of a policy. As well as administrative and commission expenses which are higher in the earlier years. But in a few years your cash value should begin to grow and with the help of compound interest continues to grow.

Lets you make money on your money

Whole Life Insurance will give you a return on your money (assuming that sound investment choices are made for the cash value portion of the policy). But even if the investment returns of the company are not that great you still make money on your money as most insurance companies guarantee that it will credit a minimum amount of interest to your cash values. Insurance that lacks the cash value feature, such as term insurance, doesn't offer such investment opportunities.

Allows withdrawals from cash value

Depending on your insurance company and the exact type of policy you have, you may be able to withdraw a portion of the cash value in your policy. A withdrawal from a cash value policy is similar to a withdrawal from a bank savings account and almost as easy to make. As long as you maintain enough cash value in the policy, you can make withdrawals and still keep the life insurance protection in effect at your desired coverage level.

Allows loans against cash value

You can also take loans against your policy using the accumulated cash value as collateral. The interest rate is determined in advance and is often lower than the rates banks offer. If you die before the loan is repaid, however, the death benefit proceeds will generally be reduced by the amount of the outstanding balance.

Diverse investment choices

The insurance company because of its size and operations typically have a wider range of investment choices available for the cash value portion of your policy, which works to your advantage and result in more favourable returns.

Disadvantages of cash value insurance

Premiums more expensive than term life premiums

The premiums for cash value life are usually quite a bit more expensive than for a comparable amount of term insurance. The reason is that, with a Whole Life or cash value policy, you are paying for both insurance and the savings component of the policy. With a term life policy, you are simply paying for straight life insurance or the death benefit only.

What can you use your cash values for?

Like any life insurance policy, the primary purpose of cash value insurance should be to provide life insurance protection for your family. Beyond that, cash value insurance can be put to any other uses because of its unique savings element. You can, in fact, use it much as you would use your other investments. The expected growth of your cash value makes this type of insurance a good way to save for major financial goals such as making a down payment on a mortgage, paying off a mortgage early, retirement, starting a business, or funding your children's education.

Given the ability of a Whole Life insurance policy to:

1. Protecting your Principal.

2. Give a guaranteed return on our investment.

3. Create an immediate Estate for our family

I feel that it is Your Best Bet For '03 and Beyond!

Hermanns is President & CEO at Family Guardian

Mr. Norbert Boissiere, chairman of FamGuard Corporation, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mrs. Patricia Hermanns as president and chief executive officer of Family Guardian Insurance Company, and president of the parent holding company FamGuard Corporation, effective February 10, 2003.

She will be a director on the Board of FamGuard, and a director of the subsidiaries Family Guardian and BahamaHealth Insurance Brokers and Benefit Consultants.

Mrs. Hermanns brings to Family Guardian experience gathered over a distinguished career in the financial services sector. She held senior positions in the offshore and local banking industry and more recently as president of a large life and health insurance company. She currently serves as deputy chairman of the Securities Commission of The Bahamas, and was a member of the Steering Committee for the establishment of the Bahamas stock exchange, previously serving as vice chairman of BISX.

Mrs. Hermanns holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Miami, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Spanish from New York University, and a Diploma in Hispanic Studies from the University of Madrid. She was named to the International Who's Who of Professionals (1997), and was recognised as "Woman of the Year - Banking (1988) " by the Bahamas Professional Women's Association.

Family Guardian, which was established in 1965, has assets in excess of $100 million and a staff of 300 with 12 offices in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and Abaco.

In announcing the appointment, Mr. Boissiere said: "Mrs. Hermanns brings an impressive record of achievement and financial expertise to the company and we look forward to her joining us as we continue to expand our sales operations and broaden our portfolio of products and services. "

ESSO donates $25,000 to Jr. Jankanoo

Recently, Esso Standard Oil S.A. Limited, the major sponsor of Jr. Junkanoo since its inception in1988, donated $25,000 to the National Junkanoo Committee.

The cheque was presented during the Jr. Junkanoo Coordinators Luncheon hosted by Esso at SuperClubs Breezes. In addition 100 JAMZ, co-sponsor of this year's Jr. Junkanoo also presented a cheque for $5,000 and provided "free" radio advertisement. Other sponsors include Vitamalt and Gatorade.

Over the past fourteen years, Esso has invested almost $250,000 in Jr. Junkanoo.

According to Esso's Family Island Territory Manager, Khaalis Rolle, Jr. Junkanoo is an integral and exciting part of the Bahamian culture that unites hearts, fuses talent, and connects the spirit. Against this backdrop, the community minded entity has committed itself to ensuring the continued development of Jr. Junkanoo.

It is very important that we continue to show our support and appreciation for the individuals who labour tireless every year to ensure that we have a successful Jr. Junkanoo parade," Mr. Rolle stated speaking on behalf of Esso's Country Manager, Keith Glinton.

"We have always been excited about being apart of this great event. It was the belief of our then sales manager, Keith Glinton, who is now the country manager, that our financial support would go a long way in developing our young people and also building a feeder system for the event that is our most prominent form of cultural expression."

There is no denying that Jr. Junkanoo provides a positive outlet for enquiring young minds, thus it is the perfect conduit for their creativity to flow. And year after year, the parade becomes more magical, and many dare say it rivals the senior parade.

"If you were on Bay Street last year you would have seen the microcosm of the senior parade develop into an event that actually rivals the senior parade in the quality of the costumes, the routine and the music. This is far beyond what we envisioned Jr. Junkanoo to be back in 1988," he revealed.

In attendance were Minister of Public Service and Cultural Affairs, Hon. Theresa Moxey-Ingraham, who brought brief remarks; Elma Garraway, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Service and Cultural Affairs; other ministry officials; representatives from the National Junkanoo Committee; Dania Ferguson, Vitamalt Brand Manager, Burns House; Jr. Junkanoo Coordinators from the various schools, along with Esso dealers.

According to the Minister of Public Service and Cultural Affairs, Hon. Theresa Moxey-Ingraham, people often complain about young people, however, not enough is done especially by the way of financial contribution to make a difference.

"If we have more corporate sponsors who are prepared to put their money where their mouths, doubts and questions are when it comes to developing programmes for young people, we would have greater numbers of young people doing positive things like Jr. Junkanoo, and so thank you very much sponsors," she stated.

The Minister also thanked Jr. Junkanoo School Coordinators for the vital role they play in developing and sustaining the rich culture of Jr. Junkanoo, their positive influence on the nation's youth and their tireless efforts in making the parade success.

A/G Bethel

Attorney General and Minister of Justice kh&i4ew. Carl W. Bethel, was elected Deputy Chairman of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) at its meeting in the Dominican Republic on October 11, 2001.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Bethel pledged that the Bahamas will continue its

efforts to fight the plague of money laundering, and is committed to assist all CFATF

members in implementing internationally accepted anti-money laundering regimes.

He also promised to seek to expand the outreach of CFATF to all countries in the

Caribbean, and to seek heightened recognition of CFATF's vital role by the CAFdC0M

Secretary and member states.

"I look forward, in particular, to working with those territories that still appear on

the FATF list as non-cooperative territories," Mr. Bethel said.

Noting that The Bahamas has been an active member of CFATF since its

inception, Mr. Bethel said after being placed on the FATF list of non-cooperative

countries and going through the process of being removed from the list in June, 2001,

The Bahamas will take an even more active role in the affWrs of CFATF.

"This commitment arises from the realization of the fact that the CFATF provides

an invaluable process allowing for peer review, mutual evaluations, and moral suasion

among partners and neighbors in our diverse Caribbean region," Mr. Bethel said.

He said the CFAFT provides a mechanism founded upon mutual assistance towards the attainment of agreed standards among equals, based upon mutual respect and a collective intention to prevent abuse, to stamp out crime, and to deprive criminals of

their ill-gotten gains.

If CFATF members are to avoid the repetition of numerous listings and de-listings,

Mr. Bethel said, they must take seriously the commitments the region made in the

Kingston Declaration to the full implementation of the FATF 40 recommendations and

the CFATF 19 recommendations.

He said reviews of the recent evaluations as well as the ongoing efforts at

implementation by other countries of recommendations made in earlier evaluations,

reveal discouraging lapses, delays, failures to implement ftilly or at ail, and institutional


"These deficiencies ought to be addressed meaningfully," Mr. Bethel said. "The

FATF 40 and the CFATF 19 recommendations now constitute the international standard to which all ought to adhere.

"No financial service provider can in good faith continue to market itself as 'reputable' while failing to comply with international standards of supervision, regulation and cooperation.

We should strive to attain the standards that will enable us to compete as a region with the rest of the world by providing meaningful value added services, efficiently and in a well-regulated and responsible manner.

"Our ability to do so should be based not only upon the existence of political will, but also upon the meaningful allocation of human and fiscal resources. Merely passing laws without the resources and institutions to implement them is not enough "We 'in The Bahamas are committed to doing everything without power to assist in this process."

To date, said Mr. Bethel, the focus of CFATF has been upon the proceeds of drug trafficking and money laundering offences, with the underlying strategy being to strengthen law enforcement efforts by identifying criminal abuse of financial systems and separating criminals from the ill-gotten proceeds of their crimes.

He said recent tragic events in the United States have dictated the need to expand beyond the focus of CFATF and every regional governing authority beyond the proceeds.

"It is clear that our efforts must be expended in shutting down the flows of any money that is being used as a tool to assist in the connection of crimes, whether that money comes from a 'legal' or 'illicit' source," Mr. Bethel said.

He said terrorism itself ought to receive the same treatment as drug trafficking, with special recognition of the grave peril it poses to the civilized world, on par with drug trafficking.

"The terrorist act ought not to be merely one of the numbers of predicate money laundering offences," said Mr. Bethel- "It must be met with severity; singled out in all its manifestations as an activity repugnant to and inconsistent with civilized behavior, and stamped out."

He said The Bahamas is drafting an Anti-Terrorism Act to define and criminalize terrorism specifically, and to provide special remedies and special powers to law enforcement agencies.

"We are making every effort to expedite this process," Mr., Bethel said.

He said seizure, confiscation and forfeiture laws will also have to be amended to permit the effective disruption of any firm or money that can be shown to have been used as a tool in the commission of terrorism offences, whether to provide food, housing, equipment or training.

Sandyport Celebrates, Receives 8th RCI Award

Sandyport Beaches Resort, West Bay Street, celebrated its eighth Resort Condominium International (RCI) award on Wednesday. The resort has won the Gold Crown Award since 1995.

During the celebrations at the Resort, Frederick Buckner, owner and chairman of Sandyport Development Company and Sandyport Beaches Resort, said that "this tremendous achievement belongs to the employees that cater to the needs of the customers at the resort."

"We are very thrilled about receiving the Gold Crown Award," said Buckner. "This award doesn't belong to me, it belongs to all the people in the resort."

His daughter, Rowena Jones, the resort's manageress, agreed with her father in promoting the hard work of the employees at the resort. She explained that the award has many recipients and that they are "blessed at Sandyport" to have an exceptional team of persons who year after year continue to bring an incredible dream into reality.

Located near Sandyport beach, the 72 room beach resort has six two-story pastel coloured buildings and employs about 170 persons. Mrs. Jones said that there are future plans for expansion of the resort.

In explaining the format for a resort receiving a RCI, John Dishinger, manager, resort services for RCI, Caribbean, explained that RCI is similar to what a five-star hotel would received for their services. However, he noted that the RCI is based on recommendations sent in by the customers who stay and visit the resort. Recommendations are based upon hospitality, maintenance of the resort, upkeep of the kitchen, check in and check out services, which are just a few of the standards.

"We are the leading time-share exchange company in the world. That means that if you buy a time share here at Sandyport you can literally trade it anywhere in the world," Dishinger said.

Additionally, he said that they are affiliated with 24 resorts in The Bahamas, which are located in Grand Bahama, New Providence, Paradise Island and Abaco.

CAPTION: Sandyport Beaches Resort receives its eight Resort Condominium International (RCI) award since its opening five-years ago on Wednesday. Pictured (L-R) John Dishinger, manager resort services for RCI, Caribbean, and Frederick Hugh Buckner, owner and chairman of Sandyport Development Company and Sandyport Beaches Resort.

Aquinas College honor one of their finest

Here's to a lady so worthy of praise. Here's to a lady always. Here's to the love that shines in her eyes and the joy that she has brought to our lives. "

Sister Mary Benedict Pratt is such a lady. A lady who has humbly given 47 years of dedicated and committed service to Catholic Education in the Bahamas. We, at Aquinas College hold a special place in our hearts for this lady. As Superintendent of Catholic schools for the past 18 years, she has been a pillar of strength and support for us. She has been a role model and her life truly exemplifies the gospel values as she strives to emulate the master teacher.

Proverbs 31, verses 10 & 29:

"Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. "

Words such as "virtuous " and "excellence " are most befitting to describe Sister Benedict.

We, the Aquinas College family, especially our administrators and teachers, would like to laud Sister Benedict for her outstanding leadership in her capacity as Superintendent of Catholic Schools.

Under her firm but kind leadership, Catholic Education has soared to great

heights. She has always been a proponent of change and a stickler for excellence. These ideals have now become the insignia of Catholic Education. ,

While strict and firm, Sister Benedict cannot be classified as a dictator, for she has always allowed us as Administrators and teachers to express our individualism. Moreover, she has always encouraged us to think holistically in our approach to education, there by empowering us to become trail blazers in the educational arena.

Sister Benedict's ability to be both fair and warm puts her in a class all by herself. Her contagious sense of humor, her unique style of leadership, her unselfish love and her devotion to the family of Aquinas College - the Administrators, staff, students and parents will always be remembered.

Aquinas College thanks Sister Benedict for her unwavering support to this institution. We are most saddened that she is retiring but she is most deserving of this.

Sister Benedict once entreated her teachers - - "To--get a life! " We, the Aquinas family, encourages her to do the same and to enjoy life to the fullest: " Let your hair down, put your blue jeans on, travel extensively and just enjoy the finer things of life. "

It was truly a pleasure to follow the lead of this great lady. We have internalized a lot of her compassion and wisdom. She has indeed left an indelible mark not only in the hearts and minds of us here at Aquinas, but on the entire Catholic community.

You will be missed, but you will never be forgotten-your foot prints will

always remain in the sand of time.

We love you, Sister Benedict, and may God bless and keep you in good health and strength as you embark on a new phase in your life.

(On behalf of the Aquinas family)

I Am Mary Benedict Pratt by Marcel T. Sherman

I am Mary Benedict Pratt,

Daughter of the soil

Island girl if you please.

I am Mary Benedict Pratt

Woman of the earth

Heaven sent and heaven bound

I am Mary Benedict Pratt

Teacher of the many

Provider of Hope

I am Mary Benedict Pratt





I am Mary Benedict Pratt

Long Island Woman

I am Mary Benedict Pratt

Mediator, disciplinarian

Officer, authoritarian

I am Mary Benedict Pratt

Woman, Nun,

I am Mary Benedict Pratt

Servant of the Light

Worker in the field

I am Mary Benedict Pratt

l am, l am, l am

I am Mary Benedict Pratt

I am Mary Benedict Pratt

I am no more -

I am Mary Benedict Pratt

The time has come for me to say

Good bye, so Iong, farewell,

I am Mary Benedict Pratt O.S.B

Priest - Church desecration not act of traditional Bahamian

Police are still actively investigating the break-in and desecration of St. Agnes Church on Blue Hill Road which occurred during the very turbulent hurricane Michelle weekend.

Archdeacon Ranfurly Brown, administrative assistant to the Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese in the Bahamas said that the act of desecration was uncharacteristic of the average Bahamian's attitude toward the Church.

He related that the sexton arrived as usual early Monday morning to prepare for services and discovered that someone had broken into the church. "Whoever went in pulled the tabernacle away from the altar," he advised, explaining that the tabernacle was the place where the consecrated bread and wine consumed at Holy Communion is kept.

The tabernacle is always locked, he explained, and it appeared that the would-be thieves were in search of cash, or some other item of secular value.

Archdeacon Brown said that the damage occurred when the tabernacle was removed from the main altar (which is made of marble), and after not successfully gaining entry to the tabernacle, the lid was forcibly removed.

Apparently, afterwards, he related, "They went into the vesting area, where the priest, choir and support staff prepare for worship and they tore open all the doors and cupboards in search of money because they moved nothing else."

All clothing and other vessels used for worship were still intact in the vesting area. "They just ransacked everything and left the door they went out open, and of course with the rain, water came in and did some damage," Brown advised.

He said it appeared that the thieves gained access through the "Our Lady's Chapel" where daily services are held every morning.

A pane of a stained glass window was also damaged and a coin box no longer in use was ripped from the church wall. The box was used sometime ago to receive parishioners' donations to the church.

"It tells you of a generation of people that know nothing of the church, and we will have to come to grips with that reality and see how we can deal with that in a positive way," Brown commented.

"The traditional Bahamian, despite one's denomination, has respect for the church," he said, and this serious reverence and awe for the church would deter the average person from even attempting to carry out such an act.

"Imagine knocking out a pane of window, climbing in, and further, to approach the altar which is always considered sacred," he said.

"For someone, or persons to enter a traditional church and rip the tabernacle away from the altar tells you of a generation that is ignorant of the church," he lamented.

The act of desecration, he said, to some extent suggests that the church is in the middle of the community, but not of the community, and that it is now time to search for new ways to instill respect for the church among certain societal elements.

The damage done to the church is expected to be repaired in time for next Sunday's service.

Families helping families

The Precious Presence Parenting Foundation recently honoured ten of its member parents for their outstanding contributions to the community.

According to the president of the non-profit organisation, Mrs. Flossie Cooper, this was an opportunity to say thank you to the members who had contributed unselfishly so that other families could have a better way of living.

"These families have contributed their time and financial support in order for other families to have a better way of life," states Mrs. Cooper, also noting that on average the single mother in The Bahamas has at least five children and is under the age of 30.

"Because of our poverty-stricken situation," it's difficult for some families to survive," she continues.

Dr. Charles Johnson and family

She adds: "Sometimes parents don't have the basics at home, and when that happens their children tend to go out and commit crimes."

Among the honourees were Dr. Glen Samuel Beneby, Dr. Charles Johnson, Mr. Harrison Petty, and Dr. Horizal Simmons.

"I was quite humbled by the award," comments Mr. Petty, one of the honourees.

"We do things to help out in the community not to get an award," he stresses, "But it's nice when people recognize you for the things that you do."

More than 40 families in the Bahamian community have received aid

through the foundation which was established seven years ago.

The Precious Presence Parenting Foundation is a parent-family mentoring organisation which provides food, clothing, counseling, and hospital transportation to local families in need.

Dr. Glen Samuel Beneby and family

The ultimate goal of the organisation is helping families understand their responsibilities in the home from a biblical perspective.

"We cannot help everybody, but we are trying to send a message to the nation that we are our brother's keeper," says Mrs. Cooper.

No contestant for Miss World Pageant

The Bahamas will have no representation at the upcoming Miss World Pageant in South Africa.

Due to no fault of her own, Miss Teen Bahamas, Kiara Sherman, will not be representing the Bahamas at the Miss World Beauty Pageant in South Africa.

It was announced earlier this month that Kiara was set to leave for the pageant on Oct. 23, but all that has changed. It was decided that due to the lack of time and preparation, and also because she was not the official Bahamas National Pageant winner, she will not attend the pageant.

"We think that it will be best if we have a fresh start," said Byron Coley-Austin, head of the committee in Nassau, "that way we will be better prepared next year when the time comes."

A nationwide recruitment process is now going on to invite "the ideal contestant" to compete in the prestigious pageants of Miss World Bahamas and Miss Tourism World 2002. The winner of the Bahamas National Pageant, which is scheduled to be held February 2, 2002 at the Atlantis Resort, is definitely expected to be sent to the Miss World Pageant next year.

Another day of celebration

Conceived by Senior Pastor Emeritus Rex Major in 1997, Marriage is Honourable is dedicated to giving marriage a high profile status. To accomplish this goal, it was envisioned that one of the best ways to give practical credence to this proposition was to highlight existing marriages which had lasted for 50 years or more.

And so it was that on Sunday, June 30th , 2002, 13 couples stepped forth at the call of the worship leader Elder Stuart Kelly, to take their place in the audience to the loud cheers of approval of family, friends and church members.

They shared in renewal of vows, special prayer, and the reception of personal congratulations and certificates by Senior Pastor Lyall Bethel. In addition, they were blessed with special music by Grace Praise Team, Elder Sarge and Stephanie Hanna, and solos by Eddie Hutcheson and Camille Smith. Elder, Cyril Peet lead the whole congregation in the "wedding prayer song ": 0 Perfect Love. As usual, Pastor Leroy Hanna directed Grace Brass, which helped all the worshipers to reach out to God afresh.

A recital of a renewed pledge of the dignity of family called them to a fresh focus on the Christian view of family and home.

Dressed up in attractive attire especially for the occasion, the 13 couples were a picture or joy and delight.

Guest speaker for the occasion was Senior Pastor Emeritus Rex Major, who used the text of Ephesians 5:31 - "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. " - to urge the church to be involved in the whole business of preparing couples for the marital experience.

The couples were then hosted to a 20-minute refreshment and fellowship time.

All of them expressed repeatedly, and some since that time, how enriched they were by the entire proceedings.

UWI/COB law study plan has successful first year

The University of the West Indies LLB programme at the College of The Bahamas was given high marks on Monday morning, and has been credited with making tremendous strides during its first year.

And as the programme enters its second year with 20 students, UWI Coordinator Dr Leighton Jackson revealed that new features will be added in the hopes of enticing even more persons to enter into the syllabus. Thirty-two students are enrolled in the first year of the programme.

Already, the programme boasts of having a qualified law librarian and fully staffed law library, which is second to none in The Bahamas. Practitioners and persons from other countries have been in contact with the facility inquiring about various materials which have been eagerly supplied.

"This puts the College of The Bahamas into the forefront of the legal profession in The Bahamas, which is exactly where we wanted to be," Jackson said at an early morning press conference held in the college's boardroom.

He also disclosed that an institutional development of the law programme has already begun on two fronts. Firstly, Jackson is making an effort to develop an institutional network within the department itself, which is based on the development of the curriculum, the development of publications, and directors are looking at how they can establish a center of legal publications in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, dealing with issues that are of particular concern to the country.

"It has always been the function of the college to be relevant and pertinent to the issues of the day in country and thereby justify its existence in a functional way," he said.

"In this respect the law programme has taken on this mantle, especially in the area of publication and we have already started to put the institutional framework together. We have set a goal for each member of staff, where each one should have published at least one article in an important law journal by the end of this year," Jackson said.

Secondly, he noted that directors are looking at the integration of the programme into the general COB syllabus. As such, he said a small committee is presently looking into ways which the LLB programme can serve other aspects of COB's programmes, allowing for the combination of economics and law, sociology and law, or politics and law.

Said Jackson: "We are hoping of course on our first graduation our students will move into the Eugene Dupuch Law School and thereby continue the contribution that the programme is making to legal education."

He said the important thing is that The Bahamas is the only country in the Commonwealth Caribbean territory where one can study law in an institution without leaving home.

Despite all of the successes however, Jackson said there are many other challenges facing the programme such as the fact that next year the programme will move into its third year, which means that another four persons will be added, along with an additional 15 courses, giving students the opportunity to choose their specialty.

At present Jackson said another difficulty the programme faces is a lack of physical space to accommodate the law library, the law faculty and also the teaching staff.

"This will become a crucial factor next year and we do not know how we are going to solve it. We had initially made some overtures to the law school and to the government relating to this new building that was earmarked for the Law School and to attempt to get some teaching faculty and library space there. I don't know where that is, but I am hoping to meet with the COB's president and other members to see how we can start asking for help in this regard," Jackson said.

"This programme has served us well and it is certainly our time to give back. I have envisioned for COB a Centre of Law and Justice where you can house not only law faculty, but also the other legal /paralegal programmes that the college offers," he said.

Men abduct woman, then rob wholesale depot

Authorities are investigating an apparent abduction and a number of armed robberies which occurred over the weekend.

Superintendent Hulan Hanna, police public relations officer said that Dorothea Strachan survived a scary two-hour ordeal after being abducted in the Yamacraw Beach area. She was not physically harmed during the ordeal.

According to Superintendent Hanna, Strachan was in the vicinity of Yamacraw Beach around 10:55 a.m. when she was approached by a masked gunman who ordered her into the back seat.

She reportedly complied and they were joined by another male. Strachan told police that she was robbed of cash, tied up and blind-folded as the bandits drove her around for two hours.

Superintendent Hanna said the bandits were believed to be linked to an afternoon robbery at Shepherd L. Key on Wulff Road.

He said the manager Anthony Key reported to police that sometime around 12:45 p.m. two assailants wearing black stocking masks, one armed with a revolver entered the establishment and demanded cash.

They were reportedly given an undetermined amount of cash from the register and they fled in a green Ford Escape.

The bandits eventually abandoned the vehicle at BCD Enterprises, Shirley Street where Strachan was able to free herself before driving to Central Detective Unit.

In other crime news around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Soft Touch Photography, Robinson Road was robbed by a male who came in inquiring about passport photos.

The male produced both $100 and $50 notes to the female employee but was told there was no change.

Reportedly as the lady attempted to assist, he pulled a knife on her and robbed her of $40 before fleeing on foot.

In other matters two armed robberies were reported on Friday.

Around 6:09 p.m., Esquire Liquor Store located on Bay and Marlborough Streets was robbed of over $1,000 when a dark gun-wielding male clad in a white floral shirt and dark trousers entered the establishment, demanded cash and escaped on foot.

Later that evening around 8:45 Rolle and Sons Convenience located Rolle Avenue off Wulff Road, was reportedly robbed of $130 by two armed gunmen in dark clothing.

Why Is Bahamasair Flying To Cuba?

I watched in amazement on our National Television Station (ZNS) as Bahamasair Our National Airline announced its new destination of travel..... Cuba.

What is so amazing is that in the last two months the Director General of Tourism, along with many leading tourist officials from around the world and Bahamians alike in the tourism industry, have been looking at Cuba in many different ways. They have been strategizing and preparing the Bahamian populace for the tourism shift in the Caribbean.

The visit of Jimmy Carter to Cuba was a marketing tool that cost Cuba nothing but in reality would have cost millions in advertising dollars. Although we claim, or find excuses to believe that Cuba is not up to standard, our officials must address the fact that there are some fundamental products that Cuba offers the world that we in The Bahamas DO


Remember, sun, sand, and sea is everywhere in certain parts of the world. Expensive hotel rooms, high gratuity, rude taxi drivers, union unrest, rampant daily criminal activity, inexpensive living and entertainment are not.

Many Bahamians ask themselves why are we servicing the major destination that is going to be a very very big player in the tourism market in the Caribbean or even the world, which we know will hurt us or will directly effect us in many ways?

Why are we taking tourist (our bread and butter) from The Bahamas to a place that is trying take away from our market and beat us in the tourism industry? I don't see many Cubans coming to The Bahamas for a visit, for convenience to move on maybe ask some of our Bahamian men especially the one who got left in tears when he thought his new wife was dead or abducted.

It is amazing that Bahamasair made this choice and cannot even service our own Family Islands consistently and on time. Especially on holiday weekends when you need Bahamasair most. They may as well play the song "And you left me, just when I needed you most"! I hope the transient passenger going to Cuba using Bahamair don't get priority over visitors who are paying and contributing to our economy from the taxi to waitress when there is a shortage of aircraft.

We leave tourist in the airport everyday stranded trying to get to their destinations, yet still we promote the Family Islands and urge them to go there only to leave another bad experience in their mouths to tell their friends back home. The key to our tourism industry is our national airline, and if we cannot get that in order we are already at a disadvantage or even a lost. Please don't blame the staff because they are some of the most industrious and innovative people in The Bahamas. What I see them do with what they have, and the daily situations they deal with is nothing but amazing. They should be paid hazardous duty pay and at the same time thank Southern Air, Sky Unlimited, and Western Air.

Before we look at feeding the enemy to beat us at our own game, we should service ourselves and try to get back into the North American market again.

So that beautiful destinations like Eleuthera, San Salvador, and other islands would not have beg an American or foreign airline and give up so much to get so little. We should be getting ourselves ready to deal with the largest Caribbean landmass that have already taken the Canadian, European, and South American market by stealth innovative actions. We should not allow ourselves to be the laughing stock of the Caribbean again because we are not decisive or afraid to hurt feelings. This is why our illegal immigration problem is what it is, forgetting that this is competition.

In closing I recall we are preparing for NAFTA, FTAA, & WTO but we must ask ourselves will traveling to Cuba aid The Bahamas any or will it be a start of free movement of many many goods, or many many services.

Yours, etc.,

Anthony U Bostwick jr

Bahamian music as a cultural determinant

I write in response to the recent public debate regarding the future of Baharnian music and would appreciate your publication of my researched commentary.


The Guardian,

Dear Sir:

The month of July was culturally reaffirming, as our Independence celebrations reflected a heightened level of patriotism.

It was also the first time in our history that our national radio station ZNS played Bahamian music exclusively.

I experienced a sense of national pride when I realized that we had accumulated a collection of diverse indigenous musical offerings chronicling our national development.

However, I became concerned when I heard a proliferation of newly-recorded songs by our female artists, which sounded like plagiarized, lewd and vulgar "underground" songs from Trinidad and Jamaica. Songs which would be marked "Not Fit For Airplay" in their country of origin.

A Scottish patriot once wrote: "Let me write the songs of a nation and I care not who writes its laws." Whatever musical expression a people love, serves as an essential index of their rationality, sensibility, morality and artistic creativity.

Since the dominant musical expressions of a people will very likely shape their culture, one has to take the musical expression of a society very seriously.

The relationship between music and its powerful effect on the human psyche is verified in the Biblical account of I Samuel, 16-23, which tells of the refreshing David's skilful playing of the lyre provided for King Saul, who was afflicted by an evil spirit.

While music itself is amoral (neither good nor bad), if the lyrics attached are obscenities, expletives and filth passing itself off as "CULTURE," the final outcome of that listening society will be unpleasant.

Instructive and insightful wisdom is contained in the philosophy, which states: "One can not build a marble temple from a mixture of mud and manure."

Unwholesome lyrics attached to strong rhythms will hold the mindset of our youth and control their lives, damaging the very fabric of our society.

Has anyone seriously considered the negative effects following the continuous airplay given many of the loose, uncouth, violent imported and indigenous songs in our Bahamas?

The dominant musical expression of a people will very likely shape the culture of that people.

Proof that music is a multi-dimensional communicator which has the potential to shape and influence a culture is evident in the recently popular American hit by Tina Turner titled: "What's Love Got To Do With It?"

The Satanic challengers and shape of the status quo were very clever when they mass-marketed this electrifying rhythm attached to this destructive idea.

No, this was not an innocent slip, but a broadside of the traditional Christian values, which has maintained societal order - marriage and family life.

Contrary to the destructive theology Ms. Turner has promulgated, Love has everything to

do with the fusing of spirits, soul emptying, sexual expression that God designed for

marriage, as many who tried her ungodly suggestion painfully learned.

Again, I repeat the maxim: "Whatever musical expression is loved by a people serves as an index of their sensibilities, rationality, morality and artistic creativity."

What does the current offerings of our popular radio stations say about the morality of our young people or the rationality of the station owners?

Are profits to be considered more important than public health issues?

Policing the American airwaves from total control by market forces is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a government agency.

The Federal Communications Commission is a seven-member body that was established as a regulatory agency by Congress in 1934.

The FCC reviews radio and television station licenses every three years to appraise their stewardship.

It is high time for the Bahamas to empower its own National Communications Commission. It must be given full powers to enforce our already existing laws regarding the dissemination of lewd and licentious materials.

These destructive influences now flowing freely through our airwaves are being channeled directly into our homes by the Cable company as well, whose obscene adult movie titles appear on their Cable Guide daily for all our children to view. This must not be allowed if our children are to be saved from the escalating incidences of sexual molestation in our society!

The potential for the creation of wholesome indigenous Bahamian music is unlimited as we consider the many forms, rhythms, styles and lyrics to be produced in the genre of social commentary, social protest, romantic, patriotic, religious, ballads or simply songs of merriment.

However, other developing countries have encouraged the continuous creation of musical offerings through state-sponsored annual song competitions that generously pay winning composers for their efforts.

Mr Eddie Minnis' popular song titled "Crab Crawlin'" is an excellent example of music as a cultural index.

Although I have never been to the island of Andros, that tune creates in my mind's eye a very clear picture of rustic churches with push-out windows and a people whose economic dependence on crabs may at times rival their devotion to church attendance.

Bahamian balladeer, Mr. Phill Stubbs is another example of a composer of songs of merriment that chronicle island life as it was and still exists in many of our family islands.

Theirs is the quality of music that should be playing in our airports, taxis, hotels, restaurants, etc.

By exposing the four million tourists who visit us annually to music, which conjures images of the tranquil, fantasy-island experience they have paid handsomely to experience, we would create a win/win situation for our visitors and our musicians. Presently our musicians reach little of this untapped market.

I visited the Port Lucaya Marketplace last week only to discover that they no longer offer the live Bahamian music enjoyed by visitors and Bahamian families alike.

Instead, there was a stage full of scantily clad, cabaret-style, shake-dancers that were instructing an attentive group of five-year-old girls in the dubious art of the "slackest wine."

I was shocked, not only by this inappropriate entertainment offering but more so by the ignorant parents who did not seem to realize the dangerous social conditioning they were permitting their little ones to engage in.

While the cabaret-style show may be appropriate adult entertainment, it is certainly not fit for children, who should be offered a safe room of toys, games and wholesome activities provided by an engaging clown.

The Old Testament Biblical account of how God's faithful deliverance of the Jewish people from their enemies would invariably result in them turning their backs on His word and His prophets by adopting the pagan customs of their defeated enemies has always been a great mystery to me.

However, when I saw those gyrating children last week, I understood the powerful and destructive combinations of ignorant parents, inattentive spiritual leaders and greedy merchants.

I realized our need for increased vigilance as I remembered a Bahamian Cultural Festival last month, to which I had won "free" tickets.

Reasoning that I would enjoy firsthand to the creative, new Bahamian musical.

Minister of Trade

Minister of Trade & Industry attacks business

The Minister of Trade & Industry, Mr. Leslie O. Miller, made some "interesting" statements while on two radio talk shows recently. If Mr. Miller wishes to be anything more than a populist spouting propaganda, he will have to re-examine his ideas. Let's look at some of them.

The instrument of harm?

Mr. Miller intends to set up a consumer tribunal that as he says "will have powers to send for persons and people to deal with matters that affects us." The Minister states that with the passing of a Consumer Protection Bill in September Bahamians with complaints about business can turn for help from the state. While it appears that Mr. Miller will be the defender of Bahamians, what he is actually proposing is an instrument of harm.

A Tribunal has a way of destroying democracy by using the force and power of Government to get what it wants to achieve politically at the expense of the Judicial system and the rights of the individual ascribed in the Constitution. They are quasi-legal set-ups having no place in a free-enterprise market economy.

Improve the court system

Mr. Miller further says "Our judicial system is a waste of time when it comes to getting fair play for BahamiansÉ"

This statement was made in relation to people getting redress from the courts when they believe they have been taken advantage of by the construction industry, (a group of people that the Minister states "most of whom should really be jailed,"). For a Cabinet Minister to be publicly attacking the courts and suggesting that a section of the business community should be jailed is descriptive of a dictatorship and it is hoped the Prime Minister and Parliament would not permit the Minister to continue with these pejorative comments.

No one doubts the need for improvement in the administration of justice and the protection of property. The courts require justices well instructed in the law and the knowledge that they are not there to make the law, or to serve any political need, but to adhere to impartiality based on the law. But to suggest that his Government needs to work around the court system by appointing a tribunal is disturbing. One of the reasons courts were established was to prevent individuals (kings and politicians) making decisions for their own ends. Is this the "fair play" the Minister would like to see reincarnated?

More price control

Mr. Miller states "We might just put more items on price control." There are Bahamians and Haitians "scavenging on the city dump. The merchants must have a conscience. Listen, everyone cannot afford the same straight across the economic spectrum."

Intervention in the market by controlling prices nullifies the very existence of economics. The free market should prevail - where buyers and sellers mutually agree on the price of goods - to their own advantage. It is offensive to both buyers and sellers for Mr. Miller to determine what level prices should be held at. It is paradoxical, but price controls reduce the competition that is vital for better prices and the availability of goods and services. Examples of failed price controls can be found in all ages: the ancient Nile (2830 BC), Sumeria (2350BC), Babylon, ancient Greece, India, Rome and in the 20th century in the Communist Bloc and even the presidency of Richard Nixon.

The Minister should have to produce evidence for Parliament showing that price controls work to the benefit of the consumer before the price of any item is controlled.

A dramatic point the Minister makes here is that merchants cause people to scavenge at the city dump because they do not have a conscience and everyone can't pay the same amount for food items. Certainly this remark is designed to confuse the issue of pricing, as merchants have no control over people deciding to live at the garbage dump.

On the other hand a "caring" government minister could start a private foundation to help these people return to a normal life or place them in Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre where they can receive treatment for their ailment.

Bank Inspectors v/s Government inspectors

Mr. Miller contends that organizations that finance building homes "should have on their staff competent persons that could go and do an evaluation for stage payments on the banks property."

Presently stage payments are released by banks and mortgage companies after an inspection by a private quantity surveyor or architect. Why should they have to engage another full time position for this purpose when they can contract this work out to companies that are licensed by government for this purpose?

In addition to this, what has become of the building inspectors at the Ministry of Works? Are they not involved in the building process as well?

Slightly pregnant

Mr. Miller contends that people selling goods by the side of the road are earning money using "slight illegal means." This is a curious statement indeed. Maybe women can now be slightly pregnant!

Either a person is breaking the law or not. Selling goods without a license is against the law. If this is impractical to enforce, Government should do the sensible thing and remove it from the books.

Demonisation of business and the judiciary

The anti-business utterances of the Minister of Trade and Industry do not go unnoticed by both Bahamian and foreign investors in business in the Bahamas. To take on the role of demonizing business people and the judicial system is most unfortunate as the standard of living of every Bahamian is directly related to the health of the Bahamian business community and an effective judicial system. This is not a practical approach for solving our nation's ills.

In his book Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life, David Friedman puts it this way:

While some regulations, such as compulsory vaccination, may make sense as attempts to force consumers to act in the general interest, many more seem designed to serve very narrow private interests - at the expense of those being "protected."

Attempting to protect Bahamian consumers from themselves by passing another Law or forming another Tribunal may seem politically correct for the moment, but there will surely be unintended consequences that our "protectors" will not envision.

Businesspeople are ordinary members of society who work to make a living, and in doing so create jobs for other people. They are no different in terms of vices like greed, selfishness, arrogance, or dishonesty than any other sector - including politicians, lawyers, employees, union leaders, or clergy. And in any event, the minister himself is a businessman and employer.

It begs the questionÉis the Minister honestly concerned about Bahamians or is he more concerned with demonizing a very important part of our community for political?

The Nassau Institute

Formerly The Institute for Economic Freedom

With FTAA, Bahamians will have to with foreigners

The more that you can do, the better it will be for you.

This, according to Huedley Moss, president of The Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU).

"The best thing the common man can do, to survive and to prepare himself for the Free Trade Area of the Americas, FTAA, is to become as qualified, informed and as educated as they possibly can. Secondly, they have to become as productive and as efficient as they possibly can, meaning gone are the days when employees used to say listen: 'It's not my job to pick up that piece of paper!'" he said.

Mr. Moss is strongly advising Bahamians to prepare themselves for the arrival of the FTAA.

The FTAA was born out of an effort to unite western hemisphere economies in 1994 at the Summit of the Americas in Miami.

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is expected to join the FTAA by 2005, as that has been the deadline set to complete the negotiation process.

In the 1990s, several steps toward FTAA completion took place in 1995, 1996 and 1998, when negotiations were held.

Mr. Moss said it was at these meetings that 34 countries agreed to implement a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

He said this Free Trade zone would progressively eliminate all barriers to trade and investment.

Mr. Moss said in April 2001, at a ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires, a number of key decisions were made by the 34 countries with a draft text being made available to the public on July 3, 2001, in four official languages; English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

He said Bahamians must equip themselves with multiple skills and take advantage with training.

"But as long as we are just sitting on our laurels and not doing anything to improve ourselves, hoping for some government to perform some miracle for us, it can't work," Moss said. He said that elements of the FTAA are present in The Bahamas due to our membership in CARICOM.

He said graduates from the University of the West Indies can come to the Bahamas and work without going through Immigration red tape.

Mr. Moss said all the graduate has to do is show his or her certificate and begin to work, without obtaining a work permit. He said eventually this process will be applicable to all Caribbean and Latin American citizens.

"The former Chamber of Commerce president, Mr. Reginald Lobosky is so concerned, that in his late 60s, he is going back to school," said Mr. Moss.

Mr. Lobosky is in the field of legal advice.

He said while Mr. Lobosky can be considered a settled and well established man, he is at risk because there are professionals who will provide stiff job competition.

He said it will be better for a bank clerk, if he can calculate bank invoices, bank reconciliation's, accounts receivable and speak another language.

"The more skilled you are, the more efficient you are, the more useful you are to the employer, hence the more efficient the employer is in providing that service," he said.

Mr. Moss said because some Caribbean countries gained independence before The Bahamas, their citizens may have twice the amount of degrees that Bahamians may have. He said these are the people that Bahamians will find themselves competing against for jobs

Mr. Moss said that in the end, the more things an individual can do and is qualified to do the better it will be for them. He said in an already tough job market Bahamians will be competing with foreigners for jobs as well.

Moss explains FTAA

The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) came out of the obsolete General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT).

This, according to Mr Huedley Moss, president of the Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union, who described the FTAA as an international trade agency which was designed in part to replace GATT.

Mr Moss has embarked on a campaign to inform Bahamians about the FTAA and how it will affect them.

He said the GATT was designed to protect countries by implementing trade tariffs and barriers.

However, over the years, he said, experts have concluded that the old trade agency was a trade barrier and contributed to the diminished standard of living some citizens were enjoying.
The FTAA, he said, has been designed to change that.

Moss said it is believed that a country's citizens will enjoy a higher standard of living, if that country is involved in high volumes of trade.

"Obviously the countries and the citizens that are going to benefit most from this, are those countries that are considered to be efficient and productive at what they do," he said.

Mr Moss said the Bahamas is preparing to join the FTAA and has decided to "sign off on the agreement in 2005."

He said the guiding principles of FTAA state that decisions would be taken by consensus from some 34 countries, but if one of the 34 countries objects, then the law being debated will not and cannot be passed.

He noted that countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, and the United States will act as Chairs and Vice Chairs in FTAA discussions.

Works director Roach leaves August 16 for private sector

After 20 years of working her way though the various ranks at the Ministry of Works, Melanie Roach, Director of Public Works will officially resign on August 16.

Miss Roach told The Guardian on Tuesday that her resignation comes after recognizing an "opportunity for advancement" at the Atlantis Resort, where she will hold the post of Senior Director of Engineering.

"In the Ministry right now as a technical person, being the director of Public Works is the pinnacle of positions. To move up further would move me into an administrative position, such as a permanent secretary, and that does not appeal to me too much at this time," the engineer said.

The 41-year-old Works director, said that since working at the Ministry for the past 20 years, she has benefited immensely from the "on-the- job" experience gained through the wide variety of projects in which she has assisted.

"Since being here, I have had much involvement in the building of roads, new construction, renovations, etc.," said Roach, who added that her job over the years has been very challenging but rewarding.

Miss Roach said her new post at Atlantis would basically involve the same type of work that is carried out at the ministry, but would conform to infrastructural development of the resort itself as it relates to engineering.

The Works director said that since handing in her resignation on July 1, there has been some discussion of having her "re-think" her decision, but she saw the position at Atlantis as an opportunity to advance within the field of engineering.

Born to parents Canon Neil E. and Joan A. Roach on April 13, 1961, Miss Roach received her primary education in New Providence at Albury Sayles and Oakes Field primaries. Her secondary education was received at St. John's College in Nassau and at St. Elphin's School, Derbyshire, England.

She graduated in 1982 and was first in her class in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of the West Indies. She attended the University of Melbourne in Melbourne Australia on an Australian government scholarship.

She received her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of the West Indies and a Master of Science Degree from the University of Melbourne in Civil Engineering.

Miss Roach joined the Ministry of Public Works in July of 1982, one week after graduating from the University of the West Indies with a first class honours degree in Civil Engineering. As an assistant Engineer, she was afforded with the opportunity to work in every section of the Department of Public Works.

Upon returning from Australia in 1986, Ms Roach was appointed an Acting Engineer in the Subdivisions section and also assisted in the Building Control Section. She also assumed responsibilities of the Deputy Buildings Control Officer.

In 1991, Miss Roach was seconded to the Ministry of Education as the Civil Works Coordinator for the World Bank Technical and Vocational Project. While at the Ministry of Education, she was assigned the additional responsibility of oversight of the staff engaged in the maintenance of public schools.

In 1993, she returned to the Ministry of Public Works to assume the position of Buildings Control Officer. She was promoted to Deputy Director of Public Works in August of 1996 and became Director of Public Works in July of 1999.

As Director of Public Works, she is the senior technical officer in the Department of Public Works and has oversight of the Department's role in the construction and maintenance of government infrastructure, including buildings, roads, docks, airports, bridges, and seawalls.

Miss Roach is a member of the Bahamas Society of Engineers, Nassau, a Chartered Engineer with the Engineering Council and a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers both of the United Kingdom.

A special farewell luncheon hosted by the Ministry of Works is expected to be held in honour of Miss Roach at the Marriott Crystal Palace Resort and Casino on August 16, her final day at the Ministry as director.

BTVI responds to writer's query on its accreditation

Education in the technical and vocational field is changing very fast. The College of The Bahamas will become a full university in the not too distant future. The Bahamas Technical & Vocational Institute will have to take on the two years courses from COB that leave behind. The two years courses should be credits to transfer to The College of The Bahamas or other universities and colleges aboard or overseas. The Bahamas Technical & Vocational Institute also have to meet the needs of the community by offering short courses, one year certificate and a two year diploma course. BTVI will have to restructure to play the role as a full community institution. Accreditation may be applied to the associate degree programme. The certificate and diploma programmes may not need to be accredited because industry set the standard.

The Editor, The Guardian,

Dear Sir:

Dr. Charles William Elliot, former president of Harvard University for 40 years advanced his belief that public schools should aim to offer the most benefit to the large majority of students whose education is unlikely to go further rather than to serve primarily as preparation for college. He urged the elimination of a related subject, and proposed instead a careful integration of the entire education programme.

Dr. Franklin J. King, Project Director, First World Bank Technical Assistance Project Commonwealth of The Bahamas and US Department of Labour and Professor Emeritus University of Missouri Columbia, Dr. King believed that competency base is the best for technical and vocational education for the industry.

Yours Sincerely,

Nathaniel Arthur


Man arrested on firearms charge

The Police Mobile Patrol Division on Monday arrested a 27-year-old man of Melvern Road, Yellow Elder, for possession of an illegal firearm.

Superintendent in charge of the Central Detective Unit Marvin Dames said that around 12 noon, officers patrolling the Big Yard in the East Street area opposite Coconut Grove Avenue, spotted a young man acting suspiciously.

"The young man was standing near a front house door. When he spotted police he began to run. The officers went into pursuit of the man," said Mr. Dames.

Police officers caught up with the man and found him in possession of a .25 pistol with six live rounds.

He is expected to be arraigned in court today.

Lack of environmental awareness concerns transplanted American

As a recently transplanted American to New Providence, I am appalled at the careless concern for our environment by the Bahamian people.

The Editor, The Guardian

Dear Sir,

My Bahamian wife, and I live in Coral Harbour. Every day groups of non-Coral Harbour residents visit our once beautiful beaches with Kentucky Fried Chicken boxes, McDonalds and Wendy's bags, cases of Kalik, Heineken and Guinness bottles, not to mention the boxes of RoughRiders. They all enjoy their time here, whether it be a family or couple.

Unfortunately, when they decide to leave, they leave all their trash behind. The bottom of the ocean close to shore is littered with broken glass for children and adults to cut their feet. The once clean areas just above the high tide mark is littered with the left over trash.

I believe we as Coral Harbour residents should start recording the license plates, along with digital pictures of the offenders and send them to the authorities. I'm quite sure many of the couples I see daily would not like these published.

I plea as an environmentalist, please take your garbage with you before we have to take drastic measures.

Yours, etc.,


Agricultural Aid

Over the weekend, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Local Government, V. Alfred Gray visited North and Central Andros and told the farmers and fishermen what the government is going to do in order to help them make their businesses profitable and to show them that their concerns would be addressed.

Minister Gray said for the farmers, the government intends to grant land tenure that the farmers would be able to use as collateral at the bank. The government is hoping to grant small loans to farmers to buy supplies and seeds and assist landowners in clearing their land by bearing 50 per cent of the costs. The farmers would also receive loans to purchase equipment and have them come in duty free.The government also wants to help assist the farmers in marketing their crops to local consumers and stores if they produce the crops in sufficient quantities and if they are of good quality.

'Idle Criticisms Won't Silence Me,' Says Envoy Blankenship

Despite public claims of U.S. Ambassador J. Richard Blankenship breaching diplomatic protocol by being too outspoken on certain issues, including crime and drugs, he told The Guardian in an exclusive interview Monday that he is not bothered by such comments and intends to continue to be very straightforward and honest.

"There are those that will complain and say that I am meddling, but this is a free country and we can all speak our minds. I am thick- skinned, and I have learned to ignore those comments that arise from idle chatter," he said.

The U.S. Ambassador, who spoke from his office at the U.S. Embassy, said if he cannot be honest with individuals, then he should not hold his position. He explained that there are certain times when bad news needs to be delivered, and he does not intend to lie or mislead people when it comes to crime and drugs.

The envoy said his number one priority is to play his role in the second largest drug war, probably in the world, remaining vigilant, and not shirking his responsibilities.

"I will keep reminding people of the evils of drugs, and what crime can do to a community, and how it can harm the tourist industry. I am responsible for four million visitors that come here annually, and the more violent crime that creeps up, the less secure they will feel, hence, the less the economy will prosper," he said.

Mr. Blankenship said his responsibility as U.S. ambassador puts him in charge of all U.S. government operations in The Bahamas, and all U.S. government agencies have to report to him.

"Whether it be the FBI, the INS, Customs, the DEA, the IRS or the Coast Guard and Navy. Not only do I have to deal with drugs and crime, but with all other U.S. agencies as well, and it's a pretty broad responsibility," said Mr. Blankenship.

The U.S. ambassador said he intends to work as closely as possible with the Bahamian government, as there is no reason why two countries that are so close in proximity cannot have a perfect relationship.

"We have to work together, as the things that affect the United States affect The Bahamas. If you look at the challenges and problems that face The Bahamas, the same problems face the United States, and we have to face up to them as well," said Mr. Blankenship.

The U.S. presently has an "excellent" relationship with the new PLP government, the same as with the former Free National Movement government, he said.

"Our relationship with both governments has been wonderful. We share a lot of goals of the PLP and the FNM as well. There are positives in both of them," Mr Blankenship said.

Memorial service for Peter Bethell

A memorial service is scheduled to be held this evening for former Progressive Liberal Party Member of Parliament, Peter J. Bethell, who died at Doctor's Hospital last week Monday after losing his battle with cancer.

The service will be held at St. Barnabas church. On Tuesday, Mr. Bethell's body will lie in state at the House of Assembly for public viewing, which will begin at 10:30 a.m.

The funeral service for Mr. Bethell, 51, will be held on Wednesday at St. Barnabas Anglican Church at 11:00 a.m. The service is expected to be aired live on national radio.

Mr Bethell was born in Nassau on November 16, 1950 to the late Stanley B. Bethell Sr. and Emma Bethell. He entered politics in 1981 when he received the PLP nomination to contest the St. John's constituency in the 1982 general election.

From 1982 to 1987, Bethell represented the North Eleuthera constituency until he was defeated by Noel Roberts in the June 1987 election. Bethell was then appointed government leader in the Senate and Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Affairs. He later returned to the House of Assembly after winning the bye-election of December 19, 1991 in the Englerston constituency that was previously held by Sir Clifford Darling.

Peter J Bethell represented Englerston from 1991 to 1997. After losing his bid to re-capture the North Eleuthera constituency in 1997, he retired from active politics.

During his political career, he served as Parliamentary Secretary, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Local Government and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Mr. Bethell was an alumnus of the Government High School, and later trained as a zoologist at the University of Nebraska. He is also credited with being the brainchild behind the Bahamas Games, initiated in 1989, and also Junior Junkanoo. He was also known as an avid sportsman who contributed greatly to the development of baseball and cricket.

Among those left to mourn are his wife, Court prosecutor, Cheryl Grant-Bethell, their daughter Pettishay, and a son from a previous marriage.

Scholarships strike high note with BNYC members

While members of The Bahamas National Youth Choir are viewed as cultural and musical ambassadors, the group is not just about music, dance and discipline.

This, according to choirmaster and Director of Culture, Cleophas Adderley who has broadened the ensemble's activities to include academic scholarships.

Ever mindful of the need for young people to be placed in environments that foster growth, Mr Adderley said, the scholarships do not require that recipients study music exclusively.

However two requirements of the student seeking a scholarship is that he or she has been a member of the choir for at least two years, while maintaining a stellar academic record.

"It's about higher educational opportunities, and the ability to represent one's country while making one's parents and guardians proud," said Adderley.

The scholarships will allow the recipients to attend St Augustine College in North Carolina.

Recipients include Tezzane Miller, Sharrana Thompson, Johnathan Burrows, Roberto Riley, and Clarence Missick.

Known for a contagious and positive work ethic, Adderley said he will be visiting other colleges and universities in an attempt to allow choir members to study abroad.

Second soprano Tezzane Miller, said that after five years in the Bahamas National Youth Choir she was not expecting to receive a scholarship, and was now deeply grateful.

In the span of five years, she said, she has traveled the world with the BNYC and has even learned a few languages that would help her if she were to return to China or Finland.

Through her travels, she has met many new friends with whom lasting bonds have been forged.

Ms Miller, who majors in Music, said the BNYC programme will do much for her academic development.

First soprano and soloist Sharrana Thompson said she has enjoyed "a tremendously exciting three-and-a-half years in the National Youth Choir."

Describing her experience as beneficial and enjoyable, Ms Thompson said the choir has greatly assisted her voice development.

"Before joining the choir, my voice was not as developed as it is now," said Thompson, who has beautifully performed the solo for the choir's classical Hayden piece, "The Heaven's are Telling."

Ms Thompson also praised choir director Adderley for helping her character development.

Mr Adderley teaches choir members the vital importance of discipline, devotion, focus, humility and respect in today's world, she said.

Reflecting on her experience thus far, Ms Thompson said she has enjoyed the mutual respect of her friends and people of different cultures, and was grateful to have traveled the world with little or no cost to herself or her family.

Ms Thompson said that while in the choir she learned more about music than she had while in school.

She said she was glad to have joined the choir as it focuses on more than just music, but the total person.

Poultry Farmers Fight For Business

Given the opportunity, Bahamian poultry farmers can produce enough chicken to supply the entire chicken market of The Bahamas.

On Wednesday a Guardian's news team visited the site of three well-known poultry farms to get a first-hand look at their daily activities.
There are approximately 60,000 chickens being harvested at Gladstone Farms.

O'Brien Turkey Farms have about 8,500 chickens available, and Diamond Farms, 14,000 chickens.

Poultry Industry Protection

It seems like such a travesty that local poultry farmers are saying that if the government does not quickly clamp down on the illegal importation of poultry from the United States it might lead to the bankruptcy of their businesses. A small country like The Bahamas may have to depend on the imports of certain things, but if an industry here can supply the needs of the citizens, then the Bahamian businesses should be the first choice to supply the products, and anything necessary to protect the businesses should be done.

In fact, although many countries are speaking of the globalised economy and the shrinking of borders, the truth is, many countries are trying to protect their main industries and their borders. For example, the US, which exports many goods all around the world, is heavily protecting its steel manufactures from competition from Russia because their steel manufactures were losing lots of money.According to the farmers, there are a number of reasons why their industry is failing:Duty reduction - this was allegedly introduced without consultation and immediately caused a loss of confidence within the sector. It is said that this decision provided importers with the incentive to increase the use of imported product instead of buying locally, either by pressuring the Department of Agriculture for permits or circumventing the permit procedure. E.g. importing turkey or chicken.* Permit/import management - since 1997, successive Ministers and the Dept. of Agriculture staff have attempted to manage the permit system. However, the system has disappointed farmers by:- periodically approving excessive permits for chicken or poultry sufficient to disrupt the local market- failing to act against import violations- failing to tighten import/permit loopholes- failing to involve the industry fully, thus avoiding transparency in permit dealings.* Hurricanes Floyd and Michelle - These hurricanes reduced capacity by 10-20 per cent,and the farmers suffered direct financial loss (which were not compensated)* Future threat of trade liberalisation in WTO/FTAA. While the previous government stated its intention to defend the agriculture sector, farmers have not been convinced due to:- past policies, e.g. duty reduction, lack of import policing- lack of preparation for trade negotiations, e.g.. reducing duties before negotiations* Availability of land/finance - only one parcel of land has been available for poultry production since 1997. Likewise, BDB financing has required excessive security for prospective poultry farmers. Lack of these facilities has hindered entry and expansion of the sector.The supermarkets might be importing produce and livestock due to reductions in duty. But many Bahamians would be hard pressed to say that they have seen a drop in prices when they shop for groceries. The previous government and this government have talked about the expansion of farming in the country. But the former one did not really put too much effort into this venture.Therefore, this government will have to handle protecting and promoting things Bahamian. It should be a priority of the government to make sure that Bahamian businesses can thrive and grow. Other countries protect their local industries, so The Bahamas should as well.

Poultry Protest

The poultry industry in The Bahamas has taken a serious nosedive, with farmers complaining that if Government does not quickly clamp down on chicken imports, their businesses will be forced to close, leaving a large number of Bahamians unemployed.

Reportedly, large food store chains and small supermarkets have abandoned local chicken producers and have resorted to purchasing their poultry from the United States.

This practice, say local producers, has crippled their businesses and has stagnated an industry which was continuing to expand, attract investment and increase employment until 1997.

The poultry farmers came together in solidarity, under the umbrella of a newly-formed Bahamas Agricultural Producers Association (BAPA) on Tuesday at a press conference held at St. Matthew's Parish to highlight their concerns on the general direction Bahamian agriculture has been taking and is taking to date.

Owner and operator of Diamond Farm, Charles Gibson told the Guardian he is seriously considering "quitting the business."

"I have on my farm nine-and-a-half pounds of chickens because I can't sell what I produce. That is the state of my operation and it has been like that for almost three months and getting worse," Mr. Gibson said.

He noted that producers have made complaint after complaint to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries with no results. Mr. Gibson claimed the situation is so bad that "I am seriously considering quitting this business which I have been engaged in for many, many years. I can't carry on any longer because there is just too much U.S. chicken on the market, plain and simple.

"This is the worst market condition in my years of growing chicken. I have never seen it like this before. Everywhere I go to sell chicken, US chicken is in the freezer or on display. My best customers have deserted me for imported chicken," Mr. Gibson said.

The local farmers claim the poultry sector was continuing to expand, attract investment and increase employment until 1997. Since then it has stagnated and declined due to:

* Duty reduction - this was allegedly introduced without consultation and immediately caused a loss of confidence within the sector. It is said that this decision provided importers with the incentive to increase the use of imported product instead of buying locally, either by pressuring the Department of Agriculture for permits or circumventing the permit procedure. e.g. importing turkey or chicken.

* Permit/import management - since 1997, successive Ministers and the Dept. of Agriculture staff have attempted to manage the permit system. However, the system has disappointed farmers by:

- periodically approving excessive permits for chicken or poultry sufficient to disrupt the local market;

- failing to act against import violations

- failing to tighten import/permit loopholes

- failing to involve the industry fully, thus avoiding transparency in permit dealings.

* Hurricanes Floyd and Michelle - These hurricanes reduced capacity by 10-20 per cent,

and the farmers suffered direct financial loss (which were not compensated)

* Future threat of trade liberalization in WTO/FTAA. While the previous government stated its intention to defend the agriculture sector, farmers have not been convinced due to:

- past policies, e.g.. duty reduction, lack of import policing

- lack of preparation for trade negotiations, e.g.. reducing duties before negotiations

* Availability of land/finance - only one parcel of land has been available for poultry production since 1997. Likewise, BDB financing has required excessive security for prospective poultry farmers. Lack of these facilities has hindered entry and expansion of the sector.

According to the group's consultant and advisor, Godfrey Eneas, "It is no secret that broiler production is in peril."

He said if Gladstone Farms, the largest producer, goes out of business, so will Abaco Big Bird, Bahamas Poultry in Grand Bahama, Diamond Farms, O'Brien Farms, National Poultry, and, possibly, contract grower Sean Miller of New Providence would follow.

"For agriculture development to proceed in a progressive and focused fashion, those who administer or are responsible for the management of the sector from the public level must co-exist in a harmoniously and symbiotic relationship with us, the Agribusiness sector," Mr. Eneas said.

"Agriculture is too complex, too costly, and very risky. Producers are now Agri-businessmen who pay business licence fees, spend huge sums of money on equipment, technology, manpower development and training, create employment opportunities and have high overdrafts at our local banks like the import merchant, car dealer or hotelier," he said.

According to BAPA members, they are the country's best chance for a meaningful degree of food security.

"Take away this group," they maintained, "and sustainable farming and agribusinesses will disappear."

Peter J. Bethel dies

Peter J. Bethell, a former Cabinet Minister in the Progressive Liberal Party administration lost his battle with cancer on Monday evening. He was 51.

Mr. Bethell reportedly died sometime after 5:00 p.m. at Doctors Hospital.

Mr. Bethell was born in Nassau on November 16, 1950 to the late Stanley B. Bethell, Sr. and Emma Bethell.

He entered politics in 1981 when he received the PLP nomination to contest the St. John's constituency in the 1982 General Election.

For five years, 1982-1987, he served the people of North Eleuthera in the St. John's Constituency until he was unseated by Noel Roberts, now deceased, in the June 19, 1987 general election.

Mr. Bethell however was appointed Government Leader of the Senate and Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Affairs.

He returned to the House of Assembly when he won the bye-election of December 19, 1991 for the Englerston constituency, that was left vacant by former House of Assembly Speaker Sir Clifford Darling. He represented the people of Englerston from 1991 to 1997, when he retired from politics.

During his political career he also served as Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Local Government, and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Among family members left to mourn are his wife, Court Prosecutor Cheryl Grant-Bethell, their daughter, and his son from a previous marriage.

Peter Bethel Sportsman

Sportsman Minister passes away

Released Tuesday, by Devin Francis

Former Minister of Youth Sports and Community Affairs, Peter J. Bethel, who commissioned the staging of the first Bahamas Games in 1989, but was unable to resolve the tumultuous problems plaguing baseball, the sport he had played all of his life, died Tuesday at Doctors Hospital at the age of 51 after a long battle with cancer .

Bethel played baseball with night league teams, Mary Carter, the St. Pauli Girl Barrons, DelJane and the Holston Knights and was also Vice President in the Bahamas Baseball Association before its feud started with the New Providence Baseball Association and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Baseball Federation.

Bethel honed his hitting skills on the cricket pitch with the St. Bernard's Sporting Club, where he was also a respected bowler, and although he was a tall man (7' 0") he never excelled in basketball or volleyball even though he competitively dabbled in both sports.

Bethel began playing baseball in the early sixties on the Southern Prep Park (Now Columbus Primary) and Windsor Park (Dorsy Park) with notable Bahamian legends like Wenty Ford, Louford 'Dog' Turner and Hugh 'Meat Man' Bethel.

Peter Bethel's Sports teams

Junior League Baseball

* St. Bernard's

Senior League Baseball

* Mary Carter

* DelJane

* Holston Knights

* Pauli Girl Barrons


* Ministry of Works


* St. Bernard's

Provide Air and Water, Miller Urges Gas Dealers

The Government is seeking to crackdown on service stations that do not have basic amenities in place for use by the driving public.

Minister of Trade and Industry Leslie Miller revealed Monday that those service stations that lack the proper amenities, including air and water, are in jeopardy of losing their licence to operate.

"If they want to be certified and have a licence as a service station, they will put in those amenities that is necessary for the driving public or they will lose their licence," Mr. Miller warned. "That is as simple as that."

He was guest speaker on the ZNS talk show 'Immediate Response' hosted by Darold Miller.

A meeting between Minister Miller and service station owners is scheduled for sometime this week, quite possibly as early as today or Wednesday.

"A service station is not a service station that only sells gas. I guess, five out of ten service station do not supply you with the amenities that is needed, air and water. They simply don't do it. If they want to be certified and have a licence they will put in those amenities that is necessary for the driving public or they will lose their licence," Mr. Miller stressed.

He said the gas dealers will only be warned once to have their businesses in order, and the Government is urging them to do so.

"They have a commitment to the Bahamian people. They should at least be in full compliance, where you can purchase gas and get some air or water if necessary," Miller said.

He also pointed to the fact that no gas station today fixes tires.

"In fact, I wouldn't dare go to a gas station to fix a tire because they don't know how to fix tires, and those who do attempt to fix it," he said. "It is difficult and shameful too. You have to have an obligation to the driving public. If I am a customer and I am patronizing your institution, I expect for you to have those basic things, the necessities for me to use."

Miller also spoke about the high cost of gasoline. He hoped that sometime in the very near future, "We can deal with that matter to try and bring the cost of gasoline down."

However, when contacted, president of the Bahamas Petroleum Retailers Association Garner Dawkins said it is not as if the retailers are refusing to have air and water, but said it was an expensive load to carry.

Pointing to his Blue Hill Road and Carmichael Road Shell Station, Dawkins said the facilities are in place but the cost of damage done to the facilities goes into the thousands.

"We have customers who are coming in, using it, throwing it on the ground, not bothering to secure it properly. I renovated this station four years ago, and we have changed the compressor and the cabinet on two occasions at a cost of $12,000," he said.

"I understand what the Minister is saying is that the stations should provide it, but I don't know of any regulations which states that we should have it. It is free, so it is very difficult to keep offering a free service and the customers are not taking care of it," he said.

Mr. Dawkins also noted that service stations are not required to have in place tire repair facilities.

"I remember when my father opened up this business about 30 years ago, that was the business at the time. That was something to help pay the rent. Now, today because of the cost of labour and everything else, it is too much of a specialized thing, when you are looking at the different cars and everything. I would have to sell tires in order to make a dollar," he added.

"Do you know how many tire repairs I would have to do in order to pay anywhere from the $7,000 to $11,000 a month rent, and I am not talking about the electricity and labour cost," Mr. Dawkins said.

"The businesses have gone into something which the consumers want, which is the convenient stores. It is the modern service station business today," he concluded.

For what is your life?

This passage of Scripture selected for study is taken from James 4:13-15 and it reads according to the New King James Version:

13. Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit. "

14. Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

15. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that. "

Our topic for today: For what is your life?

There are three factors in this text that I would like to bring to your attention. They are:

1. The uncertainty of life,

2. The brevity of life, and

3. The causality of life.

In this passage of scripture selected for study the word "LIFE " refers to time existence, as opposed to non-existence, or death. For the sake of understanding allow me to put it this way. Life refers to a period from birth to death, which is the duration of existence.

In the text, James the Apostle, the Son of Zebedee, the brother of John the Revelator and the half brother of our Lord Jesus Christ raises a famous question: What is your life?

If we were to ask some philosophical thinkers "what is life? " The E-go-ists will say that we must act in our own best long-term interest. The e-go-ists are concerned only about themselves.

The U-til-i-tar-i-an declares that we should act in such a way to please the greatest happiness for the most people. U-til-i-tar-i-an believes in pleasing his peer groups. For the He-donist, life is pleasure. He feels that pleasure is the human's good. For the Ma-ter-i-al-ist, the material things matter most. As long as they have the material things they are happy. There are far too many secular materialists and over-ambitious people in the world today. Some will kill for money; some will kill for drugs; some will kill for jewels and some will kill for land, woman, and food.

Having said that, this brings me to the first truth in verse 13 of James chapter 4; James suggests that life is uncertain. James says, "You do not know what will happen tomorrow. " You can go on board a plane to Miami, but do you have any guarantee that you would arrive alive. You could make plans to go to work tomorrow, but you don't even know what tomorrow will bring. Why the very breath you are breathing, you do not have any guarantee. You may make plans to make money. I may see you here today, but there is no certainty that I will see you tomorrow. Because of life's uncertainty, you cannot be presumptuous.

In the parable of the Rich Fool, we see the uncertainty of life. The rich fool was building bigger and stronger storehouses to store his crops. Why he did not know God was saying, "Tonight your soul is required of you. " No doubt the young man, who was shot and killed, thought he would have been here today.

Solomon spoke about the uncertainty of life, when he proclaimed that everything is vanity or meaningless What profit hath a man of all his labour, which he taketh under the sun? Putting all of your trust in your job when everything is vanity. Putting all of your trust in marriage.

Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added. " Going out late at nights and spending all of your money, when everything is vanity. Wasting your money at the Zoo Night Club, wasting your money at 601. Washing your cars on Sunday and bowing to idolatry when everything is vanity.

The second factor in our text is that life is short. James answer, "life is a vapor, it appears for a little while and vanishes. " No wonder why David said, "Lord teach me to remember my days. " God said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years. " Job agreed and said, "A man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. "

It does not matter whether you are a physician, technician, electrician, or a musician; we all have trouble. Family troubles divorce, incest, abuse, rejection and persecution. Community troubles' violence, prostitution, sexual discrimination, street-gangs, crimes, teenage pregnancy, pornography, homosexuality, unemployment, rape, murder, alcoholism, and drugs. Ecclesiastical troubles hypocrisy, heresy, apostasy, false prophets, and false religions. Political troubles misrepresentations, no presentation, selfishness, greed, abuse of power, and exploitation of labourers. Economical troubles high taxes, high prices, low salary, inflation, and recessions. Life is short and life is filled with troubles.

Solomon said concerning the events of life, "To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die; A time to laugh and a time to mourn; A time to keep silent and a time to speak; A time for war and a time for peace; A time to keep and a time to lose. "

When you are having fun, time seems to be short. When you are suffering, time seems to be long. But there is a time for everything. Weeping may endure but for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Time brings changes. Everything must change. Nothing remains the same, in time.

Thirdly, James suggests that life is in God's hands. James says, instead you ought to say, if it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that. What God chooses to do, He accomplishes, for He has the ability to do it. Psalm 115:3 says to the unbelievers, "Our God is in heavens; He does what ever He pleases. " God is God all by Himself. He does not need anybody else.

God's power is also evident in His control of the course of history. Paul spoke of God "having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation " for all people (Acts 17:26).

Isaiah says, "He brings the Prince to nothing, He makes the judges of the earth useless, He sits upon the circle of the earth, he sees the inhabitants like grasshopper.

The Lord's will, we will live and do this or that. You do not have to listen to the psychic, if God is with you. Had it not been for God, we would not have made it. Had it not been for God on our side, where would we be? The just shall live by faith. What God has willed it will come to pass. God allowed Joseph to be cast into a pit. God allowed Joseph to be cast into prison and then God allowed Joseph to be placed over all the land of Egypt. Joseph had a dream and his dream came to pass because Joseph's dream was God's dream. God's will for Israel was for them to be delivered out of the land of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land flowing with milk and honey.

Before Israel entered into God's promised, they had to face the ten plagues, they had to cross the Red Sea. Then instead of taking Israel through the land of the Philistines, God lead Israel through the wilderness. They had to pass through the wilderness for three days without finding water. Some of them grumbled against Moses, but the Lord gave them water from bitter water. God made the bitter water sweet.

God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. God's will is God's plan. God's plan is God's purpose. God's plan is from all eternity. Paul in Ephesians indicates that God "chooses us in Christ before the foundation of the world. "

Later in the same letter, Paul says that God's eternal purpose has been realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In Gethsemane, Jesus said, "0 my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will but as you will. "

Sometimes our will is to do our own thing, but we must learn what is the will of God.

Resident Of North Andros

Beautiful attitude displayed by flight attendant
It is with profound pleasure and appreciation that I write to you with regard to Ms. Jaradette Dean, Flight Attendant on Bahamasair flight #2301, 8:30 a.m. service into Mangrove Cay and San Andros on May 28th, 2002.

Ms. Dean displayed such poise and professionalism that one could not help but notice. She spoke with clarity that all could understand and assisted passengers in the most gentle way. She made them feel accepted, appreciated and comfortable. The way she carefully assisted on old gentleman, and a group of students to San Andros was awesome!

Since I don't see this kind of deportment often in The Bahamas, it touched me deeply and I want to thank Ms. Dean for displaying a beautiful attitude. It's persons like her who make people want to fly Bahamasair.

Yours, etc.,

Mary L. Godet

Amanda Perrault

Bahamasair: A positive experience
I am writing this letter to tell you about the recent experience I had flying Bahamasair from Miami to Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera, Bahamas. Because our original flight on US Air was canceled due to weather, our tickets were transferred to Bahamas Air.

We were cheerfully greeted by Miss Kitty at the ticket counter, which was quite a change from the service we received at the US Air ticket counter. She quickly noticed that my passport name did not match my married name on my ticket, and immediately looked for the amendment page in my passport. I let her know that she was the first person that day who had noticed this difference, which was no small feat, considering we had started our journey in Boston, and had proceeded through American's ticket counter and security checkpoint with no one noticing. She quickly and efficiently helped us with our new flights, and made sure that everything was all confirmed.

When we arrived at the gate, it was noticed again by the gate personnel that my ticket and passport did not match, and they also looked for the amendment page. I was also separated from my husband and subjected to a security search of my luggage. Your staff was personable and friendly which made the process very easy. The flight attendants were also very friendly and personable.

Overall, my entire first experience with Bahamasair was excellent, which is the reason for my letter. Thank you to your staff for turning a canceled flight into a positive experience.

Thank you!

Amanda Perrault,

Garber Travel

Stephen Plakaris

Cognizant of the fact that many people are quick to highlight and promote the negative attributes of Bahamasair and its affiliated services, I should be most grateful if you would allow me the opportunity to share with the general public an incident that I experienced with our national airline that, in my opinion, is worthy of praise.

On the 11th of July I boarded flight 326 in Freeport destined for Nassau. As we prepared for departure, I began to read the latest edition of the Fantastic Four comic book, when a passenger whom I had noticed in the terminal with two bottles of wine in his hands, appeared to have experienced some difficulty in finding his designated seat. In a loud and irritating tone accompanied by a deluge of profanity he began to ask where his seat was and demanded a window seat. Sitting one row behind the gentleman on the opposite side of the aisle at the window I could clearly see and hear all that transpired. Quietly assessing the situation, I unbuckled my seatbelt and mentally prepared myself to assist the flight attendants if it became necessary.

One of the flight attendants approached the passenger, calmly spoke with him and in a very authoritative but cool and professional manner diffused a potentially embarrassing and rowdy situation. Needless to say the gentleman did not get to sit by a window but he did get a beautiful smile from the flight attendant that seem to have emitted a tranquilizing effect on his person. Like myself, I am sure that the other passengers were relieved and will agree that the stewardess did an excellent job. A job that deserves public recognition. The rest of the flight was quite peaceful and I did get to finish reading my comic book. Before deplaning I enquired an learned that the flight attendant in questioned is Ms. Marsha Daxon.

Any business or organization is as good as the people that operate it. Despite the inevitable mechanical failures that contribute to the general frustration associated with traveling on Bahamasair, it is comforting to know that professionals like Ms. Daxon work for our national airline.

Yours etc.

Stephen E. Plakaris

Neko Grant On BaTelCo

The Member of Parliament for Lucaya, Neko Grant, charged in the House of Assembly on Wednesday that before the privatization of BaTelCo takes place, the government should review the deposits of consumers, of which he hopes are presently in an interest bearing account.

"It is so unfair for BaTelCo to be holding my deposit for over 30 years and the deposit of countless Bahamians for many more years without paying an interest on the same. It is a matter of concern to me, not only as it relates to BaTelCo, but other corporations providing services where consumers make security deposits and are paid no interest on these deposits," charged Grant.

According to Grant, consumers make security deposits and are paid no interest, but if they are late with their payments, an interest is attached to their payment.

"This needs to be reviewed and corrected, whether it's BaTelCo, BEC, the Water & Sewerage Corporation, Cable Bahamas or Grand Bahama Power or Utility," said Grant.

On a point of order, Minister of Housing and National Insurance, as well as former president of the Bahamas Communications Public Officers Union (BCPOU), Shane Gibson, stood on his feet to refute Gibson's claims.

"What the MP for Lucaya is stating is wrong. There is no interest that is presently attached to payments for BaTelCo if it is late," charged Gibson.

Grant went on to make further claims about BaTelCo once it was instituted in Freeport over its predecessor Contel, which was established in 1971.

Grant expressed that Contel provided more efficient services and when BaTelCo took over, they did a number of things to demoralize the staff.

"They reduced the salaries of Contel employees considerably, eliminated the payment of school fees, took away the privilege of senior managers using company vehicles and this resulted in a demoralized staff and the rendering of poor service," said Grant.

On a second point of order with regard to claims made by Grant, Gibson asked the Lucaya MP to again retract his claims.

"The member for Lucaya needs to retract his claims. Contel employees were not demoralized. He is saying this and is failing to outline the benefits of these employees once BaTelCo took over," charged Gibson.

Meanwhile, Grant noted that the privatization of BaTelCo took so long for a number of reasons. He said that finances had to be put in order, accounting procedures pre-1992 was poor and totally unacceptable and there was also a need to streamline the Corporation.

The Lucaya MP said that as the government plans to bid 49% of BaTelCo to a strategic partner, he firmly supports the participation of Bahamians in conjunction with an international partner who has confirmed adequate funding.

"By doing this, the corporation will be able to upgrade equipment, take advantage of the technical and managerial skills, an experience thereby transforming the corporation into a vibrant telecommunications provider," he said.

Grant explained that a foreign strategic partner will bring in capital expenditure, purchasing power, research and development capability. He said the results have already been demonstrated in Freeport, where Southern Electric has come into Freeport Power Company, in which public declarations have been made of what Freeport Power was paying for equipment prior to the partnership of Southern Electric and what they now pay.

"The end result is, consumers of electricity in Grand Bahama pay lower rates than do customers of BEC," said Grant.

In addition, the Lucaya MP said that the telecommunications sector policy, as detailed and published by the FNM government in July 2001, should be followed by the present government and the privatization of BaTelCo will be a huge success.

"I therefore support the resolution," he said.


The inundated atrocious terrorists activity in the Middle East perpetuated by various Palestinian factions having the support of Yasser Arafat is undoubtedly a betrayal to the world - who are working round the clock to bring peace in the region. The U.S. policy aims at achieving a Palestinian state is the best chance for resolution in the conflict. For this to be achieved, according to President Bush, the emerging Palestinian state must demonstrate that it is capable of being transparent, respect the rule of law, evolve and have in place a constitution that will allow for constructive sharing of power.

Yasser Arafat must go

Dr. Kevin J. Alcena

The United States' position is key to the final settlement in the troubled region. The world has gone beyond dictatorial leadership as personified by Yasser Arafat. The heightened state of terrorism, coupled with the Arafat dictatorial approach to governance is un-supportive of the peace effort in the Middle East.

Yasser Arafat, over the years, has failed to demonstrate statesmanship and the zeal to achieve peace with the state of Israel. Chairman Yasser Arafat has not and does not intend to take advantage of the many opportunities to move the peace process forward over the past year, making it clear that we are not going to get any constructive leadership from him. Having represented and led the Palestinian people for many decades, Arafat is entrenching his leadership status quo as a one-man band at the expense of the peace and prosperity of his people and the elusive hope of peace in the region. In my opinion, Arafat must be ousted from the political scene.

The world must re-assess the rhetoric of Chairman Arafat and hold him strictly responsible for the increased wave of terrorist, attacks on Israel and its civilians that have, over the years, seemingly disrupted the peace process. It is unthinkable that a man of Arafat's standing as leader of the Palestinians could still maintain ties with the most insensitive and hard-lined terrorist organisation in the Middle East. The indiscriminate killing of innocent people on the streets of Israel in the name of fighting for peace is not justifiable.

This is why the U.S. President, George Bush, is demanding the ouster of Chairman Yasser Arafat and the election of new leaders by the Palestinian people to ensure that all the parties to the dispute will have confidence in the peace process. Parties who do not trust that each side of the bargain would keep to the agreement as often, Arafat has repeatedly failed to perform owing to the pressure from the extremist, terrorist organisation cannot negotiate peace deals.

In the words of President Bush at his recent speech to the Palestinian and Israeli people, "there is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror....if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope. Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born". President Bush further stressed leadership not compromised by terror, to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty.

The entire Middle East peace process needs a clean break from the Chairman Arafat's perspective. The fact that other democratic institutions in Palestine are not part of the peace negotiation process renders the peace effort hopeless as Chairman Arafat often manipulates the process to suit his political, albeit international support for his Chairmanship; sympathy; financial contribution; and above all, to conceal his inefficiency in handling the affairs of the Palestinian people.

The world must rally and support the United States' position in demanding for the ouster of Yasser Arafat to give the Palestinian people the chance for new political leaders to emerge, which hopefully would be able to contribute significantly towards the resolution of the current peace impasse. Arafat is the symbol of disastrous nightmares that have perpetually engulfed the Palestinian territory in the quagmire of continued decadence, whilst his cronies have their wealth managed out of Switzerland. Israeli leaders should not make any deals with any Palestinian leader when it comes to Bethlehem. Bethlehem is for Israel.

The more Arafat manipulates the crisis in the Palestinian territory, the closer he gets to becoming martyrdom, thus ensuring a place in history at the expense of his people who have placed their trust in him. Arafat believes he is struggling for the cause of Allah and for the cause of the truth, without realizing that in modern day politics, compromise is the key to world peace and ultimately the key to peace in the region.

The U.S. has always been at the front of international calls for peace in all parts of the world. In Bosnia, Croatia, Pakistan, Haiti, etc, the U.S. was there before any nation could even decide what to do, often at their taxpayers' expense. A nation ready to sacrifice its citizens to bring peace in distant lands should be praised and encouraged. The Bahamas, the entire Caricom and Latin American should support the United States in the fight against terrorism and in bringing peace to the Middle East. Any discord with the American and Caribbean hemisphere would be a betrayal to the American people.

Failure by the international community to support the United States' peace initiative may send wrong signals to terrorist organizations that the U.S. is biased and acting alone, thus intensifying and sharpening their plans for aggressive and massive attacks on U.S. interests world-wide. We must mutually and multilaterally uphold the bold peace initiative proposed by President George Bush to ensure that the world, and in particular the Middle East, remains at peace side by side between the Israelis and Palestinians.

As long as the terrorists continue to hold sway, persistently attacking the Israelis' position and posing daily threats to the United States, the road to peace will remain difficult and almost impossible. It is a delicate and unnecessary distraction, which all parties and the international community of nations must expressly and strongly condemn. There is one argument by the United Nations that Arafat must officially severe all ties with terrorist groups and go further to prosecute extremists using terrorists as weapons to pressure Israel to peace settlement, if after the general election in January 2003 the Palestinian people decide he should continue as Palestinian Authority chief executive. I think there is no hope for Chairman Arafat - it's simply too late. Arafat is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

The world has had enough of Chairman Yasser Arafat's diplomatic and conning defence of the state of Palestinian juxtaposition with terrorist organizations in the wake of the exacerbated terrorist activities in the Middle East and the entire world. The Palestinian people must be bold in asserting their urgent needs towards the peaceful resolution of the extenuating conflict to ensure the return to normalcy and expedited economic development to ameliorate their suffering by decisively electing in January 2003 a true Palestinian national that all parties in the peace process have unquestionable trust and confidence.


The dictionary defines the word greed as a desire to acquire more than one needs or deserves.

By Errington I Watkins

It would be safe to say that 90% of our population fall within the definition of that word (greed). We as a people are so hell-bent on acquiring more and more wealth that we neglect our Christian and moral duties to our spouses and children and in many cases

to our God. Businessmen, politicians, church leaders and fraternal organisations are all part of the avarice syndrome. The other 10% are the gimme portion of the population who, for one reason or the other, have been taken out of the race for wealth by drugs, alcohol and stress and can be adequately described as by-products produced and eventually discarded by a society that failed to remember that many of those discards were once useful and productive men and women of this country who could not, or who failed in the race to acquire more.

It is indeed a sad state of affairs especially in a nation that claims to be a Christian nation. Our spiritual leaders seem to be in a race against time to see who can build the biggest and fanciest church, drive the latest model foreign car, dress in the most expensive name-brand suits; whose wife can dress the best, and who can keep the prettiest and sexiest sweethearts and install them in a nice home, supply them with foreign-made fancy jeeps and weekly trips to Miami or Family Island outings. It seems to me that most churches in this country today are just another business venture where the preacher (the manager) with the slickest line and sweet talk, that draws the most members (customers), makes the most money, and in time builds the biggest church.

I know of some reverends that are ex-convicts and many who should be in prison, that are praising the Lord and passing the collection plates every Sunday in their mad rush to see who can have the most members and the fattest bank account, Then there are the politicians, many of whom are a separate breed. If one were to take a close look at the assets of some politicians when they enter parliament and look at their net worth after five years, one would find it mind boggling. Our Civil Service, Police, Immigration, Road Traffic, Customs, Batelco, BEC, and many other areas of public service is riddled with persons who are obsessed with a desire to acquire more than they need or deserve.

The word greed or avarice is the one most single reason for the break-down in our family structure in this nation today. Parents (fathers and mothers) in their race to acquire more money both go to work, although they may have two or more children in the home. Because of the early departure for the work and the late return of the parents the children, in most cases, are left on their own to fend for themselves; which means, in many cases, that they are given money to buy fast food meals and make out as best they can. This results in bad company, bad habits and loss of parental control. As a result of working closely with others in the work place, relationships are formed and nurtured and what happens next? Divorce, broken families and stressed out kids that end up on drugs, alcohol or in Her Majesty's resort at Fox Hill.

Few of us are satisfied to live modestly any more; it is a constant race to keep up with the "Joneses" who live in the biggest houses, have membership in most clubs and appear to be the happiest and most comfortable people. This specious reasoning has taken hold of young teenage girls, who are not interested in boys their own age. They seek older middle-aged men, and in some instances geezers old enough to be their grand-dad, because these oldsters have the magnet that the young girls are attracted to - MONEY. So with their minds on fancy new clothes, jewellery, vacation trips and the finer things that their parents cannot afford to give them, they are on their merry way to shame and destruction. When they are discarded and their beauty and youth are gone and they are no longer able to attract any man of substance, they generally turn to alcohol, drugs and prostitution, out of which often come a number of unwanted, un-cared for innocent children.

In our society today there is a fast increasing population of homosexuals: In politics, banking, commerce, medical profession, the clergy and the Civil Service, that are contaminating and depraving a number of the youths in our society by violating the sanctity of their manhood, using the old age magnet - MONEY. This depravity is fast

destroying a segment of the youth, but the attitude by National Leaders is - WHO CARES! So much emphasis is being placed on the almighty dollar, that making money is like a religion to some of us, even to the point of killing or maiming someone to get it. The greed displayed by many of us in our daily lives in this society is a grave cause

for concern, as it is proven to be the natural root-cause for all the bribery and corruption in the essential service sector of this nation.

Greed and covetousness should not have roots in a Christian nation as small as ours; but as long as leaders and persons in high places continue this practice unabated, then I am afraid that the - masses will continue in their wake until some day some how and in some way the Grand Architect of the Universe will bring us to an abrupt halt.

Shared values - Ambassador's Candour Welcomed

The Editor, Nassau Guardian

Dear Sir:

Shared values: Ambassador's candour welcomed

I believe that most of us (Bahamians) have heard of, have read just about everything - under the bright Bahamian Sun-concerning the present United States of America's Ambassador, Mr. Richard J. Blankenship's various addresses in various venues. Every motive, from the sublime to the ridiculous was attributed to Ambassador Blankenship's remarks; much of the many suggestions was utter nonsense and very probably stemmed from convoluted reasoning. Some supposedly level-headed Bahamians, probably believing themselves super patriots, have called for the Ambassador to be "tarred and feathered" while others with unbelievable asininity suggested his recall.

Tribune July 7th 2002 published statements by our (Bahamas') Foreign Affairs Minister, Fred Mitchell that gave relevant matters their proper perspective. Stated, Minister Mitchell: " I've tried to indicate to the citizens of Bahamas that we are a free country and we have no wish or desire to limit, nor would we want to limit what the United States Ambassador says or does not say. Nor would we want to stop him from going where he wishes to go within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas"

All Foreign Affairs Minister Mitchell is saying that we (Bahamians) and the American people have established, over many years, a system of values common to both nations that persists and is the basis of sound and lasting mutually beneficial relationship. And that this must and will continue unabatedly robust, "Formally", and also through "back channels", when appropriate, in perpetuity. This is essentially a very strong and appropriately intelligent position enunciated by the Christie-led Progressive Liberal Party Administration's point-man on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mitchell. It also puts to rest any suggestion that the present administration, wary of the United States Ambassador's motives, is seeking any kind of confrontation with our behemoth but friendly neighbour with whom we share a common (albeit an aquatic) border.

Should one take the time to become even somewhat familiar with the "Bill of Rights" (First 10 Amendments) to the United States of America's Constitution, one would note that many of its precepts are also contained in our own (Bahamas') Constitution; such, in "Articles" forms, ideas of free speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly and freedom from arbitrary arrest' and detention without "Due Process", are the foundation of our social-economic-political system of values. Since that is the case, and a mutual commonality of values exists, Bahamian Diplomatic personnel are allowed to travel throughout the United States of America neither restricted nor censored in any way. The United States Ambassador to The Bahamas, Mr. Richard J. Blankenship, as confirmed by our Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Fred Mitchell, will continue to be afforded those very same protected privileges in our Bahamas.

The Bahamas and the United States of America, by virtue of our Bahamian territory being on America's coast or their territory on ours, have a commonality of interests; some of these are very strategic, over a wide range of initiatives and endeavors. This must never be disturbed by misguided, emotive, shoulder and chest flashes of super-patriotism. Also relative to "values", our Bahamian middle and upper middle classes, maintain almost identical values' system and expectations; both nations' middle classes value education, hard-work, personal integrity, communities' civility and respect-for-law, as the path to personal, community and national success. Therefore, when the American Ambassador's speeches, exhortations, observations,' advice etc... are consistent with those" shared values" (common to both Bahamas and The United States of America) he could never be regarded as acting or speaking pejoratively or out-of-place. His candour is welcomed.

Yours etc.

Harry Hall

Farmers Need Help

Grateful if you would allow me to express my feelings over help and hope being on the way for my farm.

Time and time again, I have sought the services of the agriculture station on Gladstone Road, and each time someone there would tell me about this deputy director, Simeon Pinder. The end result is that nothing happens. Farmers get no help.

For more than one month I have tried to rent the farm tractor to have my farm disced. The men on the station would not disc for me because the tractor is not licensed or insured to come on the road. Again, this name Simeon Pinder comes up. Farmers in the area were always able to access this service. After this man took office from wherever he came from, help for farmers started to drop noticeably.

Help and Hope is not on the way with these kind of individuals occupying high office. Their job is to help farmers. They need to license and insure the tractor now! Not in the deputy director's own time. He is getting a healthy salary from our government.

Fix the tractor now or a group of farmers will be prepared to march to the Prime Minister's office to demand the removal of this deputy director. There are plenty of other places in government for him to work.

Just before I went to present my letter to the newspaper, I received word that Mr. Earl Deveaux was on the farm enquiring about the tractor. He was told the same . He called the ministry and as I understands it, this Mr. Pinder is now making a move to have the tractor insured and licensed.

I guess now the small farmers in the Cowpen Road area will get some help.

Yours, etc.,

Cowpen Road Farmer,

Millars Phase I

'We Will Sell!'

The Government is strongly considering the privatization of Bahamasair to bring relief to the financially encumbered National Flag Carrier, confirmed Minister of Works Bradley Roberts in an interview Sunday afternoon.

"This is something that the previous government failed to do even though they had indicated in two of their Manifestos that they were going to move in that direction. But we say, we will be doing so," Roberts said.

"I don't know of any other way," Roberts continued. "The private sector has always been best suited to deal with airlines. The whole aviation business in the United States and in Europe is in one hell of a tailspin. Everybody just tend to look at Bahamasair in isolation," he said.

The Government is also looking to establish a new Bahamasair Board to deal with the restructuring of the airline's economic and physical deficiencies.

Bahamasair is also seeking to replace the aging 737s aircraft which were consistently having engineering problems, Mr. Roberts said.

The airline he said is in the process of acquiring an aircraft on a wet lease basis, to assist with Bahamasair's traffic approximately three to four times per week.

Mr. Roberts said that although the airline has its share of problems, similar problem exists within other international airlines.

"If you look at what has happened in the aviation business in the United States over the past ten years, it's been a period of bust and boom. Right now, they are going through a period of bust and there's likely to be more failures of airlines in the United States."

Although Bahamasair is financially encumbered, much credit should be awarded to its staff which received top marks by Skytrax, a world airline website, which rates the quality of service of international carriers.

Bahamasair received an overall three-star rating for service quality, product and air quality.

The airline received a four-star rating for Economy Class - Cabin Staff and also for Safety Procedures.

In the categories of Economy Class Seating, Economy Class Catering, Airport Services, and Economy Class, Bahamasair received three stars.

Ministry devising five-year plan for financial sector

A five-year strategic plan for the insurance industry will address the future of domestic and international financial services and the increasing integration of the two sectors.

Minister of Financial Services and Investments Allyson Maynard-Gibson made the disclosure on Friday during her address at the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) luncheon held at the Nassau Marriott Resort, located on the picturesque Cable Beach strip.

Minister Maynard-Gibson noted that a road map will be developed to facilitate transparency and accountability by the Ministry and the growth of the insurance business.

"The Government and its various agencies must lead the way in ensuring that The Bahamas acquires and maintains its place as a significant services market," she said.

The Ministry of Financial Services and Investment focus is upon Bahamians and its international partners "accepting that we are a blue chip, well- regulated and cooperative financial center." Hence, Minister Maynard-Gibson said, this means that the country's competition is not the traditional offshore financial centers but rather London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Switzerland.

However, she added, financial services centers will continue to be scrutinized and selected on the basis of the quality and productivity of their service providers; the standards and regulation applied in the jurisdiction; the clarity of the jurisdiction's policies; the speed with which various agencies respond to applications; the extent to which the jurisdiction responds speedily to market requirements; the extent to which the jurisdiction involves the private sector in policy formulation; and, the general environment for doing business in the jurisdiction.

It is the government's intention to involve citizens, private sector partners and regulators in policy formation. "We are determined that all Bahamians and those who call The Bahamas their home should participate actively in the mission of The Bahamas seeing itself as competing with other financial centers," Minister Maynard-Gibson said.


Differences of opinions makes democracy interesting

The Editor,

The Guardian

Dear Sir,

I will be grateful for allowing me space to reply to the comments made by Mr. E. W. Watkins on Tuesday July 9, 2002 in your esteemed newspaper.

I am delighted that Mr. Watkins has taken time out of his schedule to make comments to my letter published under the sub-heading "Cuba has work to do, before it catches up to The Bahamas" on June 12, 2002. The freedom to express contrasting points of view is what a free society is all about and our different backgrounds make it all the more interesting.

To say that my account of my first visit to Cuba is biased and prejudiced is probably correct. Biased and prejudiced for a communist (not socialist) government that for 44 years has run an island nation struggling to survive in today's world (and don't blame it on the US embargo).

Before going any further, in order to address Mr. Watkins comments, I have to do so in parts to clarify that my expressed opinion was made in loyalty to the country of my residence The Bahamas, in light of a general Bahamian public impression that Cuba presents a threat to the future existence of The Bahamas as a tourist destination, and as a professional Realtor with a genuine curiosity to see what the noise in the market is all about. As they say, first impressions are lasting impressions. No offense to the AVERAGE Cuban citizen.

I have no chip whatsoever on my shoulder. For the past 27 years I have been a resident and property owner of The Bahamas by my free will, mother of 3 real Bahamian sons, married to a real Bahamian husband. I am a proud national of the Central American country known as the "Land of Eternal Spring" the Republic of Guatemala, land mass about the same size of Cuba, a country with an enormous diversity of climatic regions, lakes and volcanoes for which the country is known throughout the world. A Democratic elected government and congress, major manufacturing industries and natural resources, state and private universities, Spanish and Mayan history, 22 Mayan languages, year-round temperature no higher than 75 degrees , population: 12.6 million, GDP: US$47.9 Billion, inflation: 6.8%, official language: Spanish; hence my knowledge of Spanish and the Hispanic culture.

In my letter I make no claims of being an expert on tourism or to have the answers to Cuba's problems nor to have the remedy to The Bahamas short falls. I have no interest of being employed by The Bahamas Tourism sector either. I am however, a Professional Licensed Realtor woman, who on her first visit to Cuba (population

I I million) saw with her own eyes why the average Cuban citizen wants to swim across the ocean on a dingy in search of freedom and a better way of life. If as Mr. Watkins says I was on a prearranged tour package (in my opinion advisable for the first visit) wherein we were able to visit places where tourists are allowed to visit, and I was dismayed; imagine what the other places I did not get to see must be like!

While my comments may be viewed as biased, the facts are the facts, Mr. Watkins and many others like him who visit this island nation to take advantage of the medical facilities and the services of the Cuban doctors are free to choose to do so, are free to pay to the Cuban Government for these services; the fact is that the same Cuban doctors that so ably treats him goes home at the end of the month with only about $34.00. If that same doctor is so fortunate, the State may, because of his profession, allow him/her to have one license plate which will allow the good doctor to drive one vehicle which also belongs to the State. Mr. Watkins and others like him could also choose to have a Bahamian doctor give him the same good treatment here at home, as their Cuban counterpart. But again Mr. Watkins is free to choose whom he prefers to give him that medical attention.

Cuban families who are given permission by the government to have a fixed number of "chairs" to serve OPERATE the "Paladares" Restaurants, which any foreigner can visit but are not easily affordable to the average Cuban citizen. In other words; a table of 12 chairs is all the entire restaurant is allowed to fill each time every day. $25.00 a meal for an average Bahamian or other visitor with a middle to high range income, is reasonable in comparison to the Cuban doctor earning that $34.00 a month, do your mathematics, or compared to what a Bahamian doctor earns per month. The thriving Bahamian restaurant owners and the Bahamian doctors would have a nightmare just thinking about adjusting their income downward in The Bahamas.

The medical clinics, the hotels, the guesthouses, the restaurants and shops the multistory apartment buildings, houses, and the businesses in Chinatown all owned by the government, must love Mr. Watkins and many others like him who arrive there paying with US dollars. The dollar is King. Sure why not, come as you are, pay as you wish, as long as you only see things on the surface, lets pretend that all is well. Let's enjoy their hospitality. After all, we get to take the trip back home, wherever it is we come from.

I would like to suggest to Mr. Watkins, that instead of sidetracking in calling this proud resident of The Bahamas a transplant and paper Bahamian, next time you are in Cuba, sit on one of those busy park benches with the average citizens and discuss with them in a frank and open way, their TRUE views and opinions about their government, their economy, what they know and have seen of the rest of the world. Do they get to see and hear International Radio and TV stations of their own choosing? I think not! So if the majority of them are not in a position to investigate what the world out there is like, how

then will they be able to offer an alternative opinion or viewpoint and also have it printed in a local newspaper!

In a nutshell my comments are made only as observations of what I consider to be the condition of one of our competitors in the tourist market and to point out the amount of work that the nation of Cuba still has to accomplish. There are many other things going on in Cuba that is common knowledge to many people who were born there, and who visit there which I will not even mention for lack of time and space.

I am told by Mr. Watkins that my opinion matters only if I were a born Bahamian. Fortunately for me, The Bahamas is a democratic country which enjoys the presence of many other paper Bahamians who have made these shores their home, and who in many different and valuable capacities make all sorts of contributions to the nation, in areas of culture, finances, investments, professions, philanthropy, charities, and others. Remember Mr. Watkins, No man should be an Island onto themselves.

Yours, etc.,

Priscilla Hudson Carey

Bernadette A. Gardiner

I noted, via the media pronouncements by management at BTVI and Minister Alfred Sears, that BTVI has been accepted as a candidate for accreditation by the Council on Occupational Education.

Has BTVI applied for accreditation?

The Editor, The Guardian,

Dear Sir,

Perhaps, due to an oversight, the following information was never provided to the public, but I do believe that "truth in advertisement" should prevail. Therefore, I quote page two of the Self Study Manual 2001 Edition Commission of the Council on Occupational Education:


The following two conditions must be satisfied before an institution can host a visiting team for initial accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation:

1. The on-site administrator or other full-time employee at the main campus must attend a Commission Self-Study Workshop within 6 to 18 months prior to hosting the accreditation visiting team.

2. For institutions seeking initial accreditation, in order to provide the public an opportunity to comment on the institution's qualifications for accreditation, the institution being considered must give notice in the appropriate newspaper's and/or media services. This notice for comments must be made prior to hosting a visiting team for initial accreditation. The notice must state that the institution is applying for initial accreditation with the Commission of the Council on occupational Education. In addition, it must state that persons wishing to make comments should write to:

Executive Director

Commission of the

Council on Occupational Education

41 Perimeter Center East, NE, Suite 640

Atlanta, GA 30346

Persons making comments must provide their names and mailing addresses."

As BTVI is an institution funded fully from public taxes, members of the public who have concerns re. BTVI are encouraged to communicate with the council at their address indicated above.

Yours, etc.,

Bernadette A. Gardiner

PM's guard fired on?

A reported exchange of gunfire between a police guard posted on the property of Prime Minister Perry Christie and two nearby trespassers shortly after 10 p.m. on Wednesday is being investigated by police.

Assistant Commissioner Reginald Ferguson, Officer-In-Charge of Crime, confirmed the incident yesterday during a crime briefing.

The exchange of gunfire allegedly took place between trespassers and the officer stationed at the Prime Minister's residence.

"We are investigating a report from an officer working in that vicinity that sometime around 10 p.m. Wednesday, two suspicious persons were seen on a property adjacent to where the Prime Minister lives. In his checking he was allegedly fired upon and he returned fire," Assistant Commissioner Ferguson said.

"We believed that the persons escaped in a vehicle which was parked nearby. We are investigating the matter at this time," he said.

The building, situated on West Bay Street, just west of Ruby Avenue, is under renovation and not presently occupied.

According to a senior officer in the Central Detective Unit, officers have yet to confirm whether or not gunshots were fired.

However, he did confirm that an investigation is ongoing with regards to an incident which occurred shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday involving a home under construction.

"We have not confirmed at this point that there was an exchange of gunfire. And we realize too, nevertheless, that it is a serious concern to us and we are aggressively pursuing the matter to determine exactly what took place and who may have been responsible," the senior officer said.

In the meantime, the Guardian was informed that Prime Minister Christie was scheduled to address the issue of crime during a closed meeting with East Street and Farm Road residents, an area he represents.

The meeting was held at Salem Union Baptist Church. It is expected that Prime Minister Christie and Police Commissioner Paul Farquharson will discuss the results.

PM on Nat'l Art Gallery

When The National Art Gallery opens its doors in February 2003, it will spark the minds of young Bahamians and produce talented artists like Amos Ferguson, says Prime Minister Perry Christie.

The Finance Corporation of The Bahamas (FINCO) presented the National Art Gallery with 12 Bahamian oil paintings, several books and a cheque of $70,000 Tuesday. Over the years, Finco has contributed about $100,000 to Bahamian art.

In 1979, FINCO commissioned 12 artists to paint on canvas and masonite 12 historical buildings in Nassau. The 12 paintings, including an oil painting of the Royal Victoria Hotel, gave birth to several other workshops hosted by Finco.

More than $3 million dollars will be needed for the restoration process, and according to Minister of Education Alfred Sears the government has included $1.2 million in the budget towards the project.

The first art museum of The Bahamas was foreseen as a "centerpiece of Bahamian culture" by Mr. Christie.

"The former government had the vision; they are not here to have a sense of accomplishment of that vision for this National Art Gallery," said Mr. Christie. "You may not be here, but we will make sure that it is completed."

Reminiscing on when he was Minister of Tourism in the PLP government in 1983, Mr. Christie said an American woman walked into his office, demanding that he visit and support a young man, who she felt was gifted, painting on cardboard with house paint.

"Of course I wasn't interested at the time, but I listened. She told me that I had to see it. She thought that I had to invest in this young man," said Mr. Christie. "It took me about 48 hours to decide that I would put $50,000 of the taxpayers' money behind Amos Ferguson."

One of fourteen children, Mr. Ferguson migrated from Exuma to the capital to be a house painter.

His work began to attract serious attention in the early 1980s, and rapidly became famous among galleries and collectors of folk art. Mr. Ferguson's paintings toured the United States and Europe in the late 1980s.

"It's great to see the roots and production of artists' work in our country, in not only Amos Ferguson, but the groups of outstanding artists in our country.

"Young Bahamians will aspire to have their paintings in this National Art Gallery," said Mr. Christie.

He ensured that the Gallery will continue to attract tourists to The Bahamas, simply because it differentiates itself from other countries and showcases the nation's originality.

They come here because The Bahamas is like nowhere else; it is not like the Americas or Europe, or wherever else they may come from. This Gallery will be a major step in institutionalizing the difference between us and them, and will bring forth millions and millions of dollars," Mr. Christie said.

He thanked FINCO for supporting art and Bahamian artists.

International Cultural weekend

Plans for the Eighth Annual International Cultural Weekend, a 'celebration of cultures' moves into high gear as time winds down for what has been deemed the "the premier festival in The Bahamas."

Under the theme "Building Cultural Relationships for a Better Bahamas" the cultural festival will be staged on October 19-20 at the picturesque Botanical Gardens. Thousands of Bahamians, residents and visitors wait with anticipation each year for the International Cultural Weekend, staged always the third weekend in October.

The Bahamas, especially Nassau, has become over the years, a melting pot of diverse international cultures as more and more persons from around the world take up residence. And as a result, persons from more than 40 nations who resident in The Bahamas have made a commitment to join hands to stage the event, which began in 1995 as part of the activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

"Excitement is building as the International Cultural Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs begin putting finishing touches on the festival arrangement which showcase the numbers of people who have made The Bahamas their home and to really say to the rest of the world that we have created something that we think is a little special," said National Chairman and The Bahamas' Ambassador to CARICOM A. Leonard Archer.

"We have in a small island like New Providence, small country like The Bahamas many, many nationalities who either live or work here in The Bahamas and do so generally, very peacefully and very happily, and get on very well together," he said.

Mr. Archer noted that one of the positive things that have come out of this weekend is the fact that it has become an educational opportunity for many youngsters who have not yet travelled out of the country.

"They are able to get an understanding of what life is like in other parts of the world," he said.

Accordingly, Chairman James Catalyn stressed the importance of such a festival.

"This is an event where we can experience in two days the cultures, indigenous food, and indigenous drinks of more than 40 nations resident in The Bahamas," Mr. Catalyn said. "The Festival has become a 'must do' on the list of activities and events."

The Committee has been encouraging nationals of all countries resident in The Bahamas to join them and make a contribution to the success of the activities.

Among nations not yet represented on the Committee but resident in The Bahamas are Belie, Bermuda, Brazil and Costa Rica.

Well water will be unsafe for years

After residents in Ruby Avenue and Westward Villas were recently urged to stop using their well water supply because of diesel contamination, Dwayne Curtis, Acting Chief Public Analyst at the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS), told The Guardian Sunday that water in and around these areas will be unsafe for many years to come.

"Because of this situation that's happening now, the water will be unsafe for a very long time. Once there is oil in the water, it is very difficult to be fully removed," he said.

Curtis mentioned a company by the name of Baychem Spill Technologies which has been contracted to extract as much oil as possible from the well water supply in these areas. Even though this is being done, Curtis said, Baychem will be able to extract the visible oil that floats, but may not be aware of the substances that can be dissolved in the water over a number of years.

"There may be some dissolved hydro-carbons in the water which might remain, making it unsafe for consumption," said Curtis, who added that diesel contamination would not affect the city water supply, but the ground water supply, aided through wells.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Delaporte, Neville Wisdom, said during a press conference on June 28 that there would be no way of determining the damage of the oil spill until results from testing are completed in the next four weeks.

Even if an individual does not live in the Ruby Avenue and Westward Villas area, Curtis said, he does not advise anyone to drink tap water if it originates from a well in their yard because there is a high risk of contamination.

"Ground water is always there, and then there are septic tanks. These tanks are designed with soak-aways which take excess water out of the septic tank and flow into the general environment and there is a possibility that water from the soak-away can contaminate the wells," said Curtis.

The DEHS analyst added that if well water is contaminated by sewage from someone who is sick, such bacteria from a sick person, can also be passed into the drinking water.

"There is no way that contaminated water can be detected by smelling, tasting or looking at its appearance. Unless there is lab testing, one will not know," said Curtis, who added that over the years, DEHS has found that most wells are contaminated in areas where there is a high population density with a number of septic tanks. Other forms of contamination, he said, include leaks from fuel and improper disposal of oil.

"We (DEHS) recommend using bottled water or the Water & Sewerage Corporation supply instead," said Curtis, who noted that water from the Corporation is also monitored by DEHS which ensures that proper chlorination is taking place to make the water safe for usage.

"The water from the Corporation is not derived from general wells, but from specific well fields that are protected," said Curtis.

Meanwhile, in regards to drinking water, Curtis said, the DEHS intensive bottled water quality monitoring programme has been accelerated over the past year.

"We have decided that we have to be more sure that the quality of water available to the public is safe; so within the past year, rather than doing random samples occasionally throughout the year, we have decided that we would try and make sure that we get one sample of each particular bottler per month," said Curtis.

The DEHS analyst noted that when traces of contamination are found in water provided by various bottlers, a re-sampling is immediately carried out to ensure that the water is truly unsafe for drinking.

"If there is a problem, we will follow up with the company to see if we can identify the problem and help to rectify it," he said, admitting that such testing is carried out more often with bottlers in New Providence, who are more accessible.

Curtis, who said that testing takes no longer than a day, stated that analysts mainly look for bacteria which may indicate contamination. He noted that such bacteria include chloroforms and fecal-choloforms, which result from poor handling practices and individuals not washing hands when handling bottles.

"Contamination can also occur from water softeners not being properly treated, but most problems would arise after the water is treated, due to handling," said Curtis.

Water safety

As water is an element that all living creatures need, it is no wonder that whenever contaminants have been found in water needed for drinking, it becomes a big issue. In the news recently there was an issue concerning the safety of ground or bottled water, and added to all this, on June 28, the Member of Parliament for Delaporte, Neville Wisdom warned the residents in Ruby Avenue and Westward Villas to stop using their well water supply because of diesel contamination. According to Dwayne Curtis, Acting Chief Public Analyst at the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS), the water in and around these areas will be unsafe for many years to come.

"There is no way that contaminated water can be detected by smelling, tasting or looking at its appearance. Unless there is lab testing, one will not know," said Curtis, who added that over the years, DEHS has found that most wells are contaminated in areas where there is a high population density with a number of septic tanks. Other forms of contamination, he said, include leaks from fuel and improper disposal of oil.

Therefore, DEHS recommends using bottled water or the Water & Sewerage Corporation supply instead.

In order ensure that ground and bottled water is safe, the DEHS intensive bottled water quality-monitoring programme has been accelerated over the past year. Rather than doing random samples occasionally throughout the year, DEHS has decided that it would try and make sure that it gets one sample of each particular bottler per month.

Although DEHS does not give the names of bottled water companies whose water contaminants have been found, when traces of contamination are found in water provided by various bottlers, a re-sampling is immediately carried out to ensure that the water is truly unsafe for drinking.

"If there is a problem, we will follow up with the company to see if we can identify the problem and help to rectify it," Curtis said, admitting that such testing is carried out more often with bottlers in New Providence, who are more accessible.

Noting the importance of healthy drinking water to living beings survival, it is important that DEHS keeps up with its testing of bottled water and the supply from the Water & Sewage Corporation, along with tracking the health records of the bottled water companies.

It is also paramount that there be no obstacles in the way in the frequency of testing bottled water. Therefore, there has to be a way to ensure that those companies situated outside of New Providence can have their bottled water tested just as frequently as those situated on the island. For there is nothing more important than the regular testing of water to secure the health of all living beings in the country.

Legacy Ball

For decades, three distinguished Bahamians have given invaluable service to their profession because of the love of their vocation and country.

This labour of love, demonstrated in the fields of medicine, allied health and education by Dr. Trevor Jupp, Marilyn Major and Edna Mae Russell respectively, however, did not go unnoticed by the Sir Lynden Pindling Foundation.

And on Saturday evening, these three prominent Bahamians became the 2002 recipients of the Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling Award for Excellence, during the second annual Legacy Ball.

Crime statistics

Unless there is a drastic turn-around now, the crime rate for 2002 will be significantly higher than that recorded for last year. Already in these first six months the police report that serious crimes have risen 32 percent when compared to the same period for 2001.

These are not comforting statistics and everyone in the nation needs have cause for worry. There are too many persons in the country with too little to do, and with too much time on their hands to plan and execute illegal activities.

From the beginning of January to the end of June 31 murders occurred in the country with an average of five per month or just over one every week. These are intolerable numbers, and it doesn't matter that in many of the cases the murdered person knew who the attacker was, because if the incidents occur in the open and in public, the flying bullets will have no specific direction and there will be no names on them. They will kill whomever they hit.

There is also no comfort in knowing that armed robbery has increased by 79 percent, especially since it has been established that in 72 percent of the cases a handgun is used in the commission of the dastardly deed.

Yes, the police may have a good detection rate going but that is still after the fact. That is after persons are dead, after people have been robbed, after women and young girls have been raped and molested. The fact that these killers, robbers and molesters have been apprehended cannot restore the lives that were snuffed out untimely or erase that feeling of violation with which the victims of robbery and rape have been left.

Just 50 short years ago The Bahamas was still touted as a quaint country with a small population where it was said that "everyone knew everyone else." That, today, is no longer the case, and the population has been boosted with an infusion of other nationalities and a particularly significant number of illegal and undocumented immigrants.

No, this country will never go back to its "fishing village" days and there should be no aspirations to do so. The memories of that era are good for those persons who have them but they should also not forget that it was a different time, regardless to how changing things remain the same. If they are to continually hope for yesterday's memories to be today's realities, they will forever express Dante's words when he wrote: "There is no greater sorrow than to recall, in misery, the time when we were happy."

The goal for today and tomorrow must be the prevention of crime rather than the detection of criminals. In that regard parents must get back to instilling values in their children, who must be taught that they should work honestly to accumulate possessions rather to steal or to become involved in other illicit and unlawful activities.

Unless and until this is done, the crime statistics will be up more times than they will be down.


Saving our youths

On Wednesday, the Royal Bahamas Police Force held its semi-annual press briefing, in which representatives from the Complaints and Corruption Branch, the Drug Enforcement Unit, the Traffic Division and the Criminal Detective Unit, outlined statistics for the first six months of 2002.

During the briefing, it was revealed that for the first half of 2002, statistics indicate that serious crimes in The Bahamas have risen significantly, compared to the same period for the year 2001. The latest figures revealed an overall 32 percent increase from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2002. Crime against the person posted a 29 percent increase when compared to the first half of 2001. And there were 31 murders recorded for 2002, averaging just over five murders per month. Of these murders, 18 were classified as domestic matters, in which the suspect knew the victim intimately or through social contact.

It was noted that most of the murders committed in the first half of 2002 and the preceding four quarters of 2001 were domestic in nature because many persons are still unable to bring interpersonal conflicts to a peaceful resolution. "This is an area for much focus and concentration by all of us," said the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Reginald Ferguson who also stated that the high-risk lifestyle of many young men is another consideration for the increase in crime. "The value of hard work is lost on these persons, and the beauty of life is extinguished by their determined action to get rich quick. Because of their gullibility, they fall prey to the deception of life in the fast lane," he said.

This increase in crime has been the subject of many sermons, editorials, articles, talk shows, etc. And the consensus seems to be that many people turn to a life of crime or commit violent acts because something went wrong with their upbringing. And this does not mean that all the people committing or backing serious crimes come from poor and undistinguished families. It is all in how parents bring up their children along with how the church and other organizations help with the raising of the youth.

This summer both the police and the Ministry of Youth are doing their part to keep the youth occupied during the summer months. But they need to ensure that along with the normal school subjects of math and English, which are being offered that the youth are allowed to participate in activities that are a breather from school subjects.

Summer is a time youths look forward to getting away from school and stress, so these summer programmes have to be less stressful on them. However, programmes like this should also reinforce the home training that crime does not pay utilizing people who have actually lived the lifestyle, and can give the truth of living a life involved in crime. These are the ones who know that being a drug dealer is not a glamorous life.

The church also has to become more involved in the upbringing of the youth, which means that pastors have to become less interested in promoting themselves, and instead ensuring that the children in their congregations know that they are loved and cared for by all the church members.

There are so many ways to show and explain to the youth the proper ways to live a life or the best ways to handle conflicts or a break up. However, everyone in society needs to do his or her part to ensure that the youths are brought up right. This means that parents are going to have to stop defending their children when their children are in the wrong. They should know that if they do wrong, there are consequences for their actions but they are still loved. Otherwise, things can only go more down hill.

A stern charge to the politicians of Caricom

There are critical components that constitute nation building. One of the greatest tragedies of being in the Caribbean region is an inherent political clientelism that borders on democracy by default. This perplexing phenomenon has deepened the poverty level throughout the Caribbean region.

Nepotism rules in the hierarchy of government for most of the developing territories in the region, whilst the big shot syndrome simultaneously perpetuates the quagmire of decadence.

When we look at Guyana, Jamaica and Haiti, we clearly come to the realization of failure that has no immediate solution. Caricom is a body that has failed. There is not one success story as a result of Caricom, except The Bahamas and Cuba.

Failure is a perpetual formula that is instigated by political clientelism for which only we in the region can blame ourselves. In this critical juncture of Bahamian development, we must clearly distinguish between politics and development. The repetitive cycle of the bureaucratic system has strangled the national development of nation building in the Caribbean.

The bureaucratic system throughout the developing countries, including the Caribbean, is the key instrument for the deepening economic failure. A good example is the entire continent of Africa, which was devastated by the hands of the bureaucrats. Governments throughout the region rely too heavily on the bureaucratic resources for development and this is where the problem lies. The recent Code of Ethics Bill that was presented before Parliament in The Bahamas is a step in the right direction and all governments throughout the Caribbean region should adopt this. There are thousands of stories throughout the Caribbean region of bureaucrats interfering with nation building and have cross conflict of interest. This is where democracy is instigated by default.

The "Single Market" Theory is Incorrect:

A "single market" for the Caribbean is wrong.

The dynamics of capitalism, including global and domestic market forces and the liquidity of global capital, are so complex that CARICOM cannot hope to understand, let alone take steps, in relation to a "single market".

The evolution of the EU as one block took, in historical terms, over a millennium-yet the EU continues to struggle with the implementation of its "common market" vision. They still have not resolved their issues, and this is despite:

* Having much more money than the CARICOM countries.

* Having much more resources in general, than the CARICOM countries.

Foreign Investment looks to the Country, not a Regional Body:

If The Bahamas were to join into a CARICOM "common market" initiative, it could be the death blow to foreign investment in our country. Why is this? Because of the reasons people invest in The Bahamas, or in other Caribbean countries. The criteria are the same for each investment decision:

* Geographic location and proximity to home country.

* Amenities and services.

* Safety of person and property.

* Legal system and systemic integrity.

* Nature and extent of capital and financial markets.

* Nature and extent of financial service providers.

* Nature and extent of communications and information technologies, including e-commerce platforms.

It is clear that the region has serious social and economic challenges ahead. I suggest that we look at a hemispherical integration, not trade but political and judicial. Once those institutions are established then we could begin with trade. NAFTA failed because there was no political instrument except to move NAFTA into the direction of multinational exploitation.

I would like to compliment the Christie Administration for not moving The Bahamas into a single market economy for Caricom.

The Bahamas can best serve the region by teaching them the principal market force economy in a small economy and that arrogance and size do not coincide. The region must be cognizant of a pragmatic economic approach in resolving their pending economic and social problems.
Dr. Kevin J. Alcena

The American Ambassador Should Be Recalled

The comments that were made by the American Ambassador, J. Richard. Blankenship, at the commencement exercise of the College of The Bahamas on Friday, the 28th June, 2002 have stirred a heightened level of anger against the Americans and the Ambassador.

The story that was filed in The Tribune's Saturday edition of the 29th June, 2002, may have caused many Bahamians to arrive at a reasonable conclusion that the Bahamian Judiciary was occupied by corrupt Judges who have no sense of their constitutional independence and who are subjected to political influence and intimidation.

It is generally accepted that the Ambassador's style is one that is frank and therefore has been the score of many criticisms.

On many previous occasions, the Ambassador has saw fit to speak too candidly on matters that may have a bearing on American policy.

However, the Ambassador has forgotten that he is a visitor in these Islands and that he is here at the pleasure of The Bahamas' relations with the United States.

The Ambassador crossed the line of acceptable diplomatic actions when he found it appropriate and necessary to disclose to the public that the Honourable Minister of National Security and now Acting Prime Minister called him to discuss the saga surrounding the publication of a photograph of her and Samuel "Ninety" Knowles during her maiden visit to HM Fox Hill Prison.

This disclosure was not necessary and obviously broke the confidence that may have been previously enjoyed by the Honourable Minister and the Ambassador.

Similarly, the comments that were made after the defeat of the FNM and the landslide victory of the PLP revealed the level of arrogance and ignorance in diplomacy that the Ambassador possesses.

It is trite in diplomatic circles that a diplomat is never to discuss matters that go to the internal political affairs of the nation where he is posted. However, Ambassador Blankenship found it appropriate to do so.

The Ambassador said these offensive words at COB's commencement exercise: "The justice system of this country will be tested repeatedly over the next several years, as traffickers are arrested, either for extradition to the United States or for trial here. It is vitally important that the justice system prove that it is up to this challenge, and that it can successfully prosecute major narcotics traffickers and that it can successfully extradite them to the United States or other countries in fulfillment of its international responsibilities."

If one is to really dissect that statement one will agree that the Ambassador is fairly ignorant of the nature and context of the Bahamian constitutional order and the manner in which criminal matters are dealt with and prosecuted under our system. For his sole education, our Constitution creates an Independent Judiciary.

A close read and examination of Chapter VII will reveal that the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal are really intended to be independent from the Executive and Parliament.

Further, the jurisprudence on the independence of the Judiciary is well settled. The Ambassador only needs to take the time out to read and study the decision of Hinds v. R (1976) 1 ALL ER 353.

Further, it must be the Ambassador's view that the role of the Attorney General's Office is miniscule, bearing in mind that that Office is constitutionally responsible for the laying of charges and for the prosecution of criminal matters and those relating to extradition.

It is not the role of the Court to act as both prosecutor and judge. This offends the spirit of the Constitution, our national concept of justice and the Rule of Law.

Persons who are brought before the Court are entitled to enjoy their constitutionally enshrined fundamental rights, to be guaranteed of due process and to take advantage of their rights to natural justice.

There is no room for a kangaroo court in this nation and the Ambassador must accept that reality. Otherwise, he can take the next plane smoking north.

The Ambassador must be made to understand that he is posted to a sovereign and an independent nation. We are not a state in the Union and we do not expect to be treated as such.

Whilst our relations with the Americans are vital to our national interests, the Ambassador must be sensible to understand that there exist many mutual benefits that the USA and The Bahamas gain from this relationship of co-operation. We will not be dictated to and we will not allow any

Ambassador to act in a fashion that may go to undermine the sanctity of our constitutional institutions.

The comments that were made by the Honourable Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service, on Sunday whilst he was preparing to leave the country were most appropriate. They really serve as a warning to the Ambassador that the PLP Government and the people of The Bahamas will not tolerate such arrogant outbursts and will ensure that the Americans understand and respect our national sovereignty.

The Bahamian people will certainly like to continue to develop the good relations with the Americans. It is worthy for the Ambassador to take a few steps back and to allow his staff to brief him on diplomacy.

Diplomacy does not equate to bully tactics. And a nation of independent thinkers cannot be bullied.

Sometimes, a word to the wise is sufficient.

Only time will tell if the Ambassador accepts and welcomes the good counsel of his advisers and the Bahamian people.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author alone. Comments and suggestions for future columns can be made via either E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or to P.O. Box SS-6836. Copyright. All rights reserved.

PM To Broadcast Live From Georgetown Guyana

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Perry G Christie leaves Nassau today to attend his first Caribbean Community Heads of Government Conference to be held July 3-5 in Georgetown, Guyana.

As CARICOM's newest Head of Government, Prime Minister Christie will address the opening ceremony of the 23rd Meeting of CARICOM Heads on Wednesday, which will be broadcast live across the Caribbean between 5:00 and 7:30 p.m. The live broadcast is being sponsored by the CARICOM Secretariat using the services of the Caribbean Media Corporation.

Also during the opening ceremony, Professor Rhoda Reddock of the University of the West Indies and a native of Trinidad and Tobago, will be conferred with the Triennial Award for Women, CARICOM's highest award for women.

During the conference, Prime Minister Christie will meet with the Secretaries-General of the Organization of American States and the Commonwealth of Nations.

He will also hold bilateral consultations with other CARICOM Heads, and during the conference will address the issue of Haiti and an OAS Report on the problems affecting CARICOM's newest member-state.

Foreign Affairs and Public Service Minister Fred Mitchell, who left on Sunday for Guyana, said at a press conference at Nassau International Airport that The Bahamas welcomes any engagement of Haiti in multi-lateral and bi-lateral processes that could help solve the economic, political and social problems in Haiti, which impact The Bahamas.

Also high on the agenda of the Conference of Heads is the issue of crime and security, a malaise affecting all member-states of CARICOM, Mitchell said.

The leaders will receive a report from the Special Regional Task Force established at the 22nd Meeting of Heads held in The Bahamas in July, 2001, after they agreed to devote special attention to the causes of crime and security threats in the region.

Prime Minister Christie's delegation will include Minister Mitchell, Alfred Sears, Attorney- General and Minister of Education; Leslie Miller, Minister of Trade and Industry; and senior officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mitchell, who will also attend the regional forum on civil society to be held July 2-3, said there is also a process of civil society deliberations which is underway in Guyana, and representatives from The Bahamas are already in Guyana attending the meetings.

The historic, regional forum on civil society will bring together representatives from the private sector, labour movements, non-governmental organisations and other non-state officials to meet with CARICOM Heads to discuss the way forward for the Community.

Minister Mitchell will also attend a meeting of the sub-Committee of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) on July 1, and the 10th Meeting of the Community Council on July 3.

The Conference, the highest decision-making organ of CARICOM, is being convened at a time of increasing strains and pressures on the regional organisation, particularly in the wake of eroding preferential arrangements and preparations for a new round of talks on upcoming international

negotiations with the European Union, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and the World Trade Organisation.

As CARICOM prepares for the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas in Trinidad, which established the Community, discussions about its observance will also feature prominently in the three-day deliberations.

CARICOM Heads are also expected to undertake an overview of the State of the Community in the context of the CSME and the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Minister Mitchell said a Prime Ministerial Sub-committee under the chairmanship of Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados, will review developments related to the CSME, subsequent to the signing of the 2001 revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which The Bahamas has not yet signed.

He said The Bahamas' position on the CSME is not likely to change in the foreseeable future. The Bahamas is not a part of the protocols of the CSME.

"The reports which are available to the government," he said, "make a compelling case for moving in that direction because the process closely parallels what we are committed to in terms of our membership in the World Trade Organisation, in the FTAA process.

"So it may be a wise thing to engage in the Single Market and Economy process as we prepare for WTO and FTAA."

The Community Council is the second highest organ of CARICOM, and comprises Ministers responsible for CARICOM Affairs. Minister Mitchell is The Bahamas' Minister responsible for CARICOM Affairs.

The community Council is responsible for reviewing other reports from other Councils of CARICOM.

Prime Minister Christie and his delegation return to Nassau on July 6.

Oil spill

Residents on Ruby Avenue and in the Westward Villas West area were warned yesterday to desist from using ground water and private pumping facilities as a result of an oil spill which has seeped through the water table.

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Neville Wisdom sounded the alarm during a press conference held at his office on the 7th floor of the Post Office Building, East Street Hill.

The underground oil spill occurred in the Cable Beach Westwood Villa area of the Delaporte constituency, the vicinity represented by Wisdom.

He sought to put the more than 300 residents on red alert, stating that the water should not be used for bathing or drinking.

The Non Aqueous Phase Liquid affecting portions of Ruby Avenue areas have been identified as diesel fuel. Wisdom confirmed that the problem existed in the area for the past two to three years.

"The bulk of the product, I am advised, appears to be intact. Approximately 3,000 gallons of fuel has been recovered to date," he said.

Wisdom was unable to say exactly how much money will be involved in the clean-up effort. Up to press time the Guardian was unable to make contact with the relevant authorities.

Wisdom assured the residents that the Minister of Health, Senator Dr. Marcus Bethel, who is responsible for environmental control and the Department of Environmental Health, is on top of the situation. He also advised that a company, Baychem Spill Technologies Limited, has been contracted by the Radisson Cable Beach Resort to conduct the rehabilitation exercises of the contaminated environment.

"Tests are being carried out to determine the quality of the ground water in immediate area. Residents in the affected area are therefore urged to use water provided by the Water and Sewerage Corporation," Wisdom said.

"I am made to understand that once they found the problem and they identified it, they began to take corrective measures. But, I just want to ensure my constituents are aware of what is going," Wisdom stated.

He stressed his concern about the heavy scent of oil that permeates the air.

When a Guardian news team visited the site near a well, the water appeared to be rusty brown with a thick oily film on the surface.

Wisdom could offer no explanation as to why this information was not brought to the public's attention sometime ago.

"The knowledge was here for some two to three years, but I have no idea why it wasn't publicized. That is very unfortunate I think," he said.

Wisdom informed that a further update would be provided within the next three to four weeks. In the main time any resident who observes any irregularities in their supply should immediately inform the Water and Sewerage Corporation, or Patrick Bain of Baychem Spill Technologies Ltd. at 394-7046 or Minister Wisdom at 322-6250-3.

Public sector reform critical, Mitchell tells Mgt. Conference

Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service Fred Mitchell yesterday called for comprehensive public sector reform.

His remarks came during the official opening of the two-day Margaret McDonald Policy Management and Administration Center Conference, held at Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort, Cable Beach.

Under the theme "Managing for the New Millennium: A Global and National Perspective", the conference is designed to address the expanding needs of the public and private sectors in the face of economic development and impending globalization.

"Reform is crucial at this stage of our national development as globalization requires response mechanisms that are capable of meeting the challenges of today and beyond," Mitchell said.

He noted that the public service and the private sector each have important roles to play in ensuring through partnerships and team efforts, that The Bahamas is able to survive in a global environment.

Education is the key to progress as globalization draws near, Mitchell said, and called on all Bahamians to educate themselves so that they might understand and use the new scientific advances in technology and information to their advantage and not be afraid of it.

"We must also reaffirm core social training and basic primary education: ability to follow rules, take instructions, follow them intelligently, and monitor results," Mitchell said.

It is incumbent that The Bahamas have a Public Service that is client-oriented, highly responsive to its environment, providing quality service and seeking the growth and development of its members so as to better perform its natural role of advising the Government and serving the public, he said.

The key to this, he said, is Human Resources development, and each Ministry, as an initial goal, ought to have a fully developed Human Resources department, which should better equip the Service to deal with the productivity issues that face the Public Service, including issues of pay, working conditions and promotions.

"It is important for the Public Service to work effectively and must be attuned to the movement of the politicians who are incoming, even while being politically neutral," Mitchell said.

"The Government of The Bahamas is fully aware that public sector reform, in addition to improving the operational efficiency of the Public Service, must also manage changes to government policies, regulations and programmes which would improve the responses of public officers and the clientele," he said.

But in order to achieve this, Mitchell said, reform must include matters such as effective policy-making machinery, providing information on a timely basis, improving the relations between the varying levels of government and the interaction between Government and the Bahamian citizenry.

Rick Fox on being one of the sexiest

Rick Fox is one of the sexiest athletes

Released Thursday, at 11:02 am EST by Shavaughn Gordon-Moss

Says actress wife's beauty is rubbing off on him


NG Sports Reporter

Could it be the caramel-toned skin? Or is that he's always well-dressed? Or maybe it's the voice that sounds like liquid honey, and could also be described as a red-hot butter knife gliding effortlessly through a pat of butter?

Whatever it is, three-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, Rick Fox was among those chosen by Sports Illustrated Women as "The Sexiest Men in Sports" in the July/August edition of the magazine which hit the stands yesterday.

But forget it ladies, the 32-year-old proud father and budding actor is the husband of one of the world's loveliest women, singer/actress Vanessa Williams.

Fox, who was home last week, when asked about how he felt about being chosen one of the "Sexiest Men in Sports" in Sports Illustrated Women said that it was his wife's beauty which was probably rubbing off on him.

"They say that married couples start to look alike. It's probably good that I'm married because I'd probably get in a whole lot of trouble; but I'd have to say that one of the positive things that came out of being married was that my wife's beauty is rubbing off on me."

Fox, who donned a robe and hit the beach for his photo shoot for the edition said he was shocked he was chosen.

"That's the last thing as an athlete working in your field (that you expect). It's always nice to have an accomplishment in what you do as a professional, but to step out beyond that I don't know how to deal with that," he said.

In an on-line survey that asked women which athlete they'd most like to see in the issue, Olympic speedskating gold medalist Apolo Anton Ohno finished first with 15,347 votes. Figure skater Alexei Yagudin was second with 2,308 votes, followed by New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who received 756.

Fox was one of more than 75 athletes, in no particular order, released in the magazine's third annual swimsuit issue.

Rick Fox

Action speaks louder than words!

Released Tuesday, at 11:01 am EST by Shavaughn Gordon-Moss

Will show he's Bahamian by his actions, says Canadian-born Fox


NG Sports Reporter

During the Los Angeles Lakers run for the 2001-2002 NBA championship for the third consecutive year, Bahamians heard Rick Fox in the background scream, "The Bahamas."

During an interview they heard him say he was inspired to play as well as he did after receiving calls from friends and family in The Bahamas.

This from a man born in Canada to a Bahamian father and Canadian mother, and signed on to help the Canadians obtain a spot in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. The latter one of the many reasons Bahamians disparagingly proclaim Fox as one of their own, even though he grew up in Nassau and attended Kingsway Academy until high school, when he went away to the United States.

As a student-athlete at North Carolina, Bahamians followed him. They celebrated his draft by the Boston Celtics in 1991. And his subsequent move to the Los Angeles Lakers, a team that has significant history with Bahamians. It was with this team that Bahamians celebrated their first NBA champion in Mychal "Sweet Bells" Thompson.

But Fox's 1992 decision to play for Canada left a sour taste in the mouths of many. That was 10-years ago, and yesterday, Minister of Youth, Sports and Education Neville Wisdom called for Bahamians to put the incident behind them and celebrate Fox, who for the past year has been proclaiming his Bahamian heritage.

Yesterday Fox said it was not his words that would get people to believe him, but his actions, and he realizes it would not happen overnight.

"That's going to be an ongoing process," said Fox at a luncheon with various Ministers in the Bahamian government, former Dallas Mavericks player Dexter Cambridge, Bahamas Basketball Federation president David "Stretch" Morley and his executives, Olympic and World Championship relay gold medalists Pauline Davis-Thompson and Eldece Clarke-Lewis, and Olympic triple jump bronze medalist Frank Rutherford, at the Androsian Steak and Seafood Restaurant.

"That's going to be an ongoing process," said Fox at a luncheon with various Ministers in the Bahamian government, former Dallas Mavericks player Dexter Cambridge, Bahamas Basketball Federation president David "Stretch" Morley and his executives, Olympic and World Championship relay gold medalists Pauline Davis-Thompson and Eldece Clarke-Lewis, and Olympic triple jump bronze medalist Frank Rutherford, at the Androsian Steak and Seafood Restaurant.

"I can come out and champion the cause and say as much, but only actions would do like coming home and spending time with the youth, and hopefully opening doors for them and their visibility to high school coaches and college coaches... pro scouts, that's all I can do," said Fox.

And Fox hopes that by doing so, other talented Bahamian youth will have the opportunities to excel, but be able to do so from home.

"I had a dream and unfortunately for my dream to succeed I had to leave home. I had to leave my parents, my country, and culture, everything I knew, which wasn't very pleasant," said Fox who spoke of days in his high school years in Indiana spent crying in the cornfields because he wasn't around people he loved.

"But I had goals and dreams, and the only way I could accomplish that was to go off and do that. I don't want other kids to have to do that in this country. I want them to still have the visibility, be seen, and go forth, but still stay at home."

Fox said that Canada asked him to play for them again in the Olympics a few years ago, but he turned them down.

And Sports Minister Wisdom said the 10-year-old decision by Fox should be put behind everyone.

"As far as I'm concerned," he said, "every human being wants to play in the Olympics. The Bahamas had no team in the Olympics, and we didn't appear to have a team that would go to the Olympics, so Rick took advantage of an opportunity by virtue of his mother's nationality, but he never lost his heart for his country for one second. So I want us to put that behind us and celebrate this very special Bahamian, and I want him to know that he has the full support of our government."

Keeping - 'I was not broke'

Chief Executive Officer of Cable Bahamas, Philip Keeping, yesterday refuted claims made in the House of Assembly by St. Margaret MP Pierre Dupuch that he was bankrupt when the cable company was launched in 1994.

"I financed Cable Bahamas out of my own pocket from August, 1994 to June 30 of 1995 when we went public, to the tune of $1 million a month. I was personally financing the company without any obligations from anyone else," Mr. Keeping said during a phone interview.

"The company was not bankrupt and this is very easy to prove," he continued. "All he (Dupuch) has to do is check with our bankers and financiers; it's only a matter of a phone call or a letter. Mr. Dupuch has no idea what he is talking about, he is talking rubbish and there is no truth in his statements. If he wants to get his facts straight, he needs to come and talk to me," the cable company CEO said.

Keeping, who was off the island during the BaTelCo privatisation debate, when Mr Dupuch made the charges, also commented on claims of BaTelCo's assets being chipped away and funds used to finance Cable Bahamas.

The $2 million dollars invested in Cable Bahamas from BaTelCo and the Bahamas Electricity Corporation was a good investment, now worth some $30-40 million dollars, Mr Keeping said.

"This was a pretty good strategy for the government to do this, but the government buying shares in Cable Bahamas has nothing to do with us," he said.

At present, Keeping continued, the Bahamian population has some $150 million invested in Cable Bahamas. The company employs 250 persons, he said, and invests a lot of money in their training.

"We have an obligation to our investors and we endeavour to grow the company. It's a judiciary duty to our shareholders. They invested in Cable Bahamas because they thought that we could grow their investment and this is what we strive to do," said Mr. Keeping.

Keeping considered it a "great" idea that the government intended to sell 49 percent of the shares of a privatised phone company to a strategic partner. The privatisation of BaTelCo would be excellent for the country, producing more competition and better services, he said.

"BaTelCo is a great company that has come a long way and they will continue to grow and prosper. They are one of our greatest competitors, but we need competition. They will compete with us in certain areas and vice versa. They will take some of our customers and revenue in some areas and vice versa, but at the end of the day, the country and the people will be the benefactors," Keeping submitted.

Cable Bahamas is competing in a lot of areas against BaTelCo, he acknowledged, but felt that the government would want two strong companies to compete with one another, as the consumer would be the benefactor at the end of the day. "There is no use in having one strong and one weak company," he said.

Because of Cable Bahamas' existence, The Bahamas is presently the only country in the Caribbean that is positioned to compete effectively with an incumbent telephone company, Keeping maintained.

"They can privatise all the telephone companies in other countries, but it will be years before there is an effective competitor. In The Bahamas, Cable Bahamas was established with one day having a competitor in mind, so we can effectively compete against BaTelCo and this will be great for the Bahamian people and investors," he insisted.

Cable Bahamas was given a 15-year monopoly on video, mainly because they were investing such a large amount of money at the time, Keeping disclosed, noting that when he set up the company in October of 1994, he had anticipated having only 75 employees, which figure has now grown to 250.

"I think this is great, and these employees have done a tremendous job in developing the company," said Mr. Keeping.

He said that Cable Bahamas has more than fulfilled its obligations under its licence and franchise agreement, and more than 95 percent of the population presently has access to cable services.

"Our agreement had listed a number of communities that would have cable services within three years, and we had to ensure that 40 percent of these communities had cable services within this time. The government also had a letter of credit that they held from Cable Bahamas until we met this obligation, but we continue to build and will continue to build every year," the cable boss announced.

Having access to a high speed cable modem is a major benefit for Bahamians, especially those in the Family Islands and on the cays, Mr Keeping said, and it will be years before some communities in the United States and Canada have access to such a high speed cable device.

Keeping concluded that "The Bahamas right now is probably one of the most cabled countries in the world," surpassing the vast majority of the rest of the world's population in access to cable television services.

Ingraham willing to forgo pay entitlement

Member of Parliament for North Abaco, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, is asking the government to move an amendment to exclude him from any entitlement of pay as a Member of Parliament or to suspend payment of the MP portion of his pension, as long as he is serving in Parliament as an MP.

"Now, as a Member of Parliament, I am also entitled under present legislation to receive a salary of $28,000 per annum as an MP. Clearly, since I am already in receipt of the salary payable to a Member of Parliament as a pension, I should now not also receive this sum again. To do so would be 'double dipping'," he said.

Ingraham, while making his contribution to the Budget debate on Wednesday, gave his assurance that he will not challenge any law passed to the effect that his cumulative payment does not exceed the entitlement due under the Prime Minister's Pension Act.

"I will serve my constituents, God willing for my full term, doing so with pleasure and gratitude," Ingraham said.

Prior to the general election, he continued, he had reported to the media that he would not, if re-elected, be paid as a Member of Parliament, being a pensioner, but noted that as a qualified retired Prime Minister, he continues to receive the salary payable to a Prime Minister.

"I also continue to receive the emolument payable to Members of Parliament. The Cabinet also agreed in 1997, to pay a retired Prime Minister an allowance, a sum which my qualifying predecessor received up to the time of his demise. I am unaware whether I will also receive that sum," said Ingraham.

According to the former Prime Minister, the repealed Parliamentary Pension Act left in place by the PLP before 1992, was a far more generous Act, which permitted Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister to receive pension benefits calculated to include allowances. Ingraham referred to this as a unique PLP creation that the former FNM government repealed.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Perry Christie said that he intends to review the pension laws relating to former Prime Ministers.


The Editor,

The Guardian,

Dear Sir:

Please allow me space in you most enlightening newspaper to respond to the lead story in the Tribune of Saturday June 1, 2002 captioned: "BUSH SANCTIONED NINETY."

After hearing the disrespectful tone of voice used by our present US Ambassador, The Hon. J. Richard Blankenship, while a guest on ZNS' Immediate Response talk show last Thursday (May 30), I was somewhat prepared for the sensational headline. However, the tone and substance of the offending news item did cause me to question the prerequisites of a United States diplomatic appointment. Is it still granted by a grateful President as a reward for large election campaign donations or does the process now require specialized training, as was the case in the appointment of Dr. Condoleezza Rice to the post of US National Security Advisor?

Perhaps a lawyer whom the Ambassador respects should carefully explain to him the difference between Bahamian and American jurisprudence. Once they would have succeeded in explaining the philosophical and spiritual differences between the basis of our two legal systems, then perhaps a knowledgeable historian would inform the newly appointed Ambassador of all the embarrassing events leading to the present incarceration of Mr. Samuel "Ninety" Knowles.

The previous government's disregard for the administration of the order of the Law and their open violation of established procedures is just one of the many reasons that their services were terminated without notice, or severance pay, by the majority of the Bahamian people.

Our people's deep understanding and respect for "fairplay" has long caused deep resentment for administrators who perpetuated the inhumane treatment meted out to prisoners incarcerated at "Fox Hell" Prison. However, we have been powerless to effect any real improvements to this medieval structure.

Perhaps the 'caring' Ambassador would provide our truly compassionate Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon. Cynthia "Mother" Pratt with a copy of the "top secret" blueprints of any US Federal penitentiary, thereby assisting The Bahamas to construct an effective correctional institution of its own. This good neighbourly gesture would certainly earn the Ambassador a special place in our hearts, replacing the mounting animosity created by his recent statements.

Prior to the appointment of Ambassador Blankenship, those of us who monitor the print and electronic media, observed a trend in The Bahamas where the separation of powers underlying our fragile democracy had been abused to the extent of nearly destroying our peace and national unity.

We thank God for His intervention and establishment of a government whose stated commitment is to honour the supreme power of our judiciary - not usurping powers unto itself which by our Constitution is reserved exclusively for the courts. Bahamians are fully aware that the Executive branch of government has no right to act as judge and jury as its sole function is administrative only.

Another subtly offensive news story carried on page 11 in the Tribune of Saturday June 1, 2002 captioned: "No III Effects for Bahamas if Ninety Extradition Fails" is yet another case in point that Ambassador Blankenship may need a refresher course in Geography as well.

Since the US Embassy property from which he operates sits on Bahamian soil, rather than issuing veiled threats to the potential negative consequences, if their extradition attempt fails, perhaps the US President and his Ambassador would investigate ways and means to truly help us in our developmental objectives.

Our joint Drug Action Task Force initiatives should be aimed at improving the crime detection skills and expanding the supply of high-tech surveillance equipment of the local constabulary in order to legitimately arrest, convict and rehabilitate our misguided young people.

Our youth are not disposable waste to be discarded in the 'trashcans'of the American prison system to serve lifetime sentences. Because Jesus is Lord of our Bahamas, then just as many former "free-basers" were delivered, set free to reclaim honourable lives, so too we are praying for the salvation of all our criminals and the speedy reform of our antiquated penal institution.

While we in The Bahamas have benefited economically from our close proximity to the United States of America, among a people whose forebears had experienced centuries of enslavement, the fear exists of once again being reduced to servile status. Therefore, any "Big Brother" strong arm statements by US officials will be viewed as acts of aggression by a nation whose historical record in the Caribbean has raised much apprehension about the high-handed way that "Colossus to the North" conducts its diplomatic relations.

Although our assertion of national pride and dignity takes precedence over material advancement, we are not unaware of the US governments' tendency to penalize dependent countries that refuse to embrace their policies with reverential fear. However, during our few short years of nationhood, we have come to appreciate the responsibility of sovereignty and now request - NO, DEMAND - the respect of the world as we strive for greater economic gains for the Bahamian people.


Phillippa Russell (Bahamian Citizen)

Veteran Educator and Columnist Liz Cromwell Dies at 67

Columnist and veteran educator Eliza Rebecca Cromwell died Wednesday, June 12 at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) in the capital.

Liz, as she was affectionately known, hails from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. But as her eldest daughter and child, Carol Clarke-Nash puts it, she was a citizen of the world, having lived in many countries

Cromwell has three daughters and two sons and spent her last 12 years in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

A teacher at heart, Cromwell was an instructor at Grand Bahama Catholic High, Freeport Anglican High, College of The Bahamas, PACE and Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI).

A master potter of ceramics, Cromwell also used the power of the pen to touch on topical issues relating to health, women and justice.

"One could very well see the things that she valued and what she wrote about," said Clarke-Nash. "She always spoke to the common interest that we all have as human beings. And if something needs to be done we should just get up and do it without fussing, without looking for accolades and your work would speak for you."

Clarke-Nash remembered her mother's words were, "I must leave things better than I found them."

"If that meant educating people, counseling people, helping them to see things differently, to live with themselves, improve their self respect -- she was always concerned with things like that," she explained, "especially with young black women and of course young men too."

Another example, she noted, was that everywhere Cromwell lived she made sure to plant fruit-bearing trees and to engender the love of the environment and cherished every day she was alive, despite the weather.

She was also described by her daughter as "God fearing" who had given her life to God many years ago.

"That also guided her. In her early days she had a serious temper, but because she gave her life to God... that helped temper how she saw the world and it filtered many things.

"She grew very loving and seemed much more tolerant than she ever was in her life and because of that impact of His love in her life she was able to be much more loving, I think, than she ever was."

Cromwell always also tried to be sure that she was fair and expected people to be fair with her, Clarke-Nash reminisced, adding that she gave respect and expected to be respected.

"She was a multi-talented person. She had a lot of humor, wit. She spoke and wrote with insight and she was fiercely independent."

Among her many accomplishments, she wrote poetry and published two books some years ago -- Canadian Jungle Tea in Canada and The River Between in Guyana.

Cromwell, a columnist with The Freeport News finished her last article on Saturday, a day before she was admitted to the hospital.

Her daughter says the family was taken by surprise by her death.

After spending the past four years with her mother Clarke-Nash knew she wasn't well but she never complained.

"But sooner or later the body gets tired of fighting and the medicines probably ceased to be as efficacious as they were," she rationalized.

Cromwell will be churched in Freeport at First Baptist Church on Saturday, June 22 at 11 am.

Liz Cromwell dead at 67.


Plans unveiled in war against gun and drug smuggling

The Government of The Bahamas has unveiled a counter offensive plan of networking between law enforcement agencies to tackle the narco trade and gun smuggling in the country.

The strategy includes the earmarking of some $450,000 for the purchase of state of the art communication equipment for the Royal Bahamas Police Force during this fiscal period and another $450,000 for the upgrade of its computer system to provide links to other constabularies and law enforcement agencies.

In addition to this, the assistance of the United States Government will be sought to stop illegal guns from entering the country.

These plans were revealed Monday in the House of Assembly by Cynthia Pratt, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security during her contribution to the budget debate.

She noted that although police have had remarkable successes in the drug war in recent times, including the dismantling of a major drug enterprise and the arrest of a leading drug trafficker, the war against drug trafficking was far from over.

"Intelligence indicates that drug trafficking activity has increased in recent times," she said.

Further to this, Pratt said, intelligence has also revealed a rise of Bahamian master drug criminals who have established operational bases in Jamaica and are now setting up bases in Haiti.

This, she said was apparent by the data that showed that cocaine and marijuana were transshipped from these bases to the islands of Bimini, Grand Bahama, Long Island and Cat Island.

"There is no doubt that drug trafficking will continue to challenge our law enforcement officials, and that is why, notwithstanding the condition of our national finances, provisions are made in this budget to outfit the Police Force with the necessary equipment to continue to wage the war on drugs," said Pratt.

Pratt said that she would also push for the provision of state-of-the art surveillance equipment for police in this fiscal year.

With regard to gun smuggling, the Deputy Prime Minister said that the Government was very concerned about the proliferation of illegal firearms.

"The link between drug trafficking and firearms trafficking is definite," she said.

Towards this end, she said as stipulated in "Our Plan" the Government will seek help from the United States "in the interdiction of guns entering The Bahamas in a programme similar to the joint drug interdiction programme in which we fully cooperate."

Fixing Bahamasair

Mr Bradley Roberts, the government minister with responsibility for Bahamasair, has again addressed the myriad of problems the airline is undergoing, and the amount of work it will take to get it on track. He said that the large amount of work needed to correct problems faced by the national flag carrier, will require major assistance.

Roberts is not saying anything new. For years now it has been the stance of this paper and many Bahamians that a lot of work needs to be done to the airline, because it is costing the country too much money to upkeep an airline, with aging airplanes, and which is not known for punctuality. Even Roberts himself admits that there is "a lot of cancer" in Bahamasair.

"It would be foolhardy for a Minister of the government to take on Bahamasair, in and of himself and this is what the people seem to be suggesting," Roberts said. "I am a businessman, but I am not an expert of aviation. I have some pretty good insights, but I started to read the business plan for Bahamasair and people seem to be expecting miracles overnight."

For his part, Roberts said that he intends to put much time and energy into the airline, as soon as the Budget debate ends. Then in another eight weeks he will be able to give the Bahamian people some insight as to what direction and what programmes will be considered for implementation for Bahamasair.

Roberts said that at the top of his agenda is appointing a new board of directors whose responsibility will be to lead the programme in the re-engineering, refocusing and redirection of Bahamasair.

"A board of directors will be in all of the corporations that I oversee, whose main job is to focus on introducing programmes and a new direction for the corporation. The Minister only gives ministerial oversight, but he does not run Bahamasair and this will not happen under the new PLP administration," said Roberts.

Roberts is on the right track. It will take time to fix the numerous problems facing Bahamasair. There definitely is some need for outside, highly trained persons to go in and give a thorough examination of the airline. It cannot be done overnight, because there are no quick fixes for an airline that has so many issues which must be cleared up before it can even begin to see a profit. And some of the solutions may have to include changing some services offered by the airline, but drastic things need to be take place.

The previous government could not help Bahamasair, and only time will tell whether the new PLP administration can make a difference. The Bahamian people can only wait and see, but there has to be some positive results, and the people need to be kept aware of how the company is faring.

Legacy, Party, Economy and that $125 million

There is nothing intrinsically wrong when "Politics" is one of the horses pulling the administrative wagon of state; but when the wagon-master dares to unhitch the others and the political horse remains the sole hauler of responsibility, it creates the potential for an impending disaster. Of course, when vanity, that monumental self-esteem of inadequate men (also meaning women) which creates a self-arrogated right to play god the conviction-that he/she alone is right and all others, wrong or colossal fools, takes over, this then, becomes the harbinger (in the political/administrative-sense) for national catastrophe.

The Editor

The Nassau Guardian

The Bahama Journal (Thursday January I0th 2002), under headlines "... Government Revenue Plummets..." quoted customs financial controller, Ms. Sandra Archer, as revealing that: "The nation's customs tax collection-government's largest revenue earner-fell by $39.8 million and an "optimistic" loss of $53,2 million. She had previously forecasted a moderate growth of three percent (3%) for fiscal year, but the impact of September 11th, has caused her to revise that prediction..." The Bahamas Customs Department accounts for about two thirds of government revenue.

Former Prime Minister Ingraham in his "Report To The Nation" published (Tribune-Monday November 12th 2001) informed that: Government has taken the precautionary step to put in place a foreign currency loan stand-by facility of United States $125 Million through local commercial banks "...Continued the former Prime Minister,..." I have been gratified to learn of the preparedness, indeed, the interest of international banks doing business in The Bahamas in acceding to our request for a loan facility of United States $125 Million"... Also, The Former Prime Minister..." The positive response of the commercial banks to its request could only have been considered for the reason that the banks appreciate the sound macro-economic fundamentals of the Bahamian economy, resulting from Government's uncompromising adherence to a policy of sound fiscal management. "... What went wrong?. Politics.

The Bahama Journal (Tuesday February 19th 2002): A front page story reported that the former Prime Minister revealed, at a press briefing on the Referendum, that, "... investigations into alleged corruption by the Minister of Education, Dion Foulkes, will be completed and revealed before general elections..." Said Mr. Ingraham, "...But yes, I expect it will be done before the elections..." He added that it would be appropriate for the public to have the information before the election, because the public will expect no less. According to the Journal's story, Mr. Ingraham has admitted that "favoritism was shown in the granting of contracts." He also conceded that, " in some cases the value of the contract exceeded the scope of work done..."

The former Prime Minister decided to "brass-it-out", as it were, and never submitted the promised "Report on Alleged Corruption" to the Bahamas' public/electorate. This was a fatally flawed act in an effort of futility.

Both Honorable Messrs. James Smith, Minister of State for Finance and Perry Christie, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, reported to the nation concerning its perilous state, and that conditions could have been less economically precarious for the nation, had the former Prime Minister conducted a follow-through with and on an essential resolution to approve the $125 Million mentioned in his (Ingraham's) "Report To The Nation" address. This was more than "unfortunate" as noted by Minister Smith; to this observer, it was reckless and irresponsible. The former Prime Minister was not an economic "duffer" and knew that in times of an acute or a precipitous revenue shortfall, governments' choices are very limited. They are, raising of taxes or borrowing of funds to meet a revenue-shortfall. Options? Raising of taxes so close to general elections is a no-no. Therefore, drastic slashes (the clean ones) in government expenditures coupled with guarded borrowings, was the remaining appropriate choice.

Had the former Prime Minister tabled the essential resolution for Parliament to approve borrowings, according to present Prime minister Christie, the Ingraham led Free National Movement Administration would have had to answer critical questions about the true state of the nation's economic condition. The Christie-led Progressive Liberal Party Administration believes that the former government wanted to avoid such a spectacle. While their suggestion probably does have merit, it is more likely that the Ingraham-led Free National Movement Administration having decided "brassing-it-out, concerning, School Contract-gate and allegations of corruption, not intending to reveal results-if-any of Ingraham's so-called investigations, dissolved Parliament rather than face the cacophonous political music of Members of Parliament Dupuch, Roberts and Wells. Therefore, it (Free National Movement Ingraham-led Administration) opted to let the national Bahamian Economy float close to the economic-disaster-cliff, rather than take corrective measure by means of Parliamentary Approval of any money-bills.

Still argued today: Had former Prime Minister Ingraham metamorphosed into a supine incompetent or much worse? Loyal-to-a-fault, not wanting dash the hopes and dreams of loyal but sycophantic colleagues, who more than revered his leadership, but carried so much political baggage as to drag their party down? (Much like the experiences of his erstwhile mentor the late Sir Lynden Pindling).

What was it about that 'Beavis and Butthead' tandem that compelled former Free National Movement Leader and former Prime Minister Ingraham, to peril his legacy, his Free National Movement Party and the nations economy so frankly and so wantonly? Enquiring minds want to know.

Yours etc.,

Harry W. Hall

PLP Going 'FNM's Way' In Privatising BaTelCo - MP

Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham commended the Progressive Liberal Party for moving ahead with the privatization of the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation (BaTelCo), despite it not being mentioned in their 'Our Plan.'

Ingraham, Free National Movement Member of Parliament for North Abaco, in a 75-page address to the chamber on Wednesday, said he was happy that the PLP became "converts having seen the folly of your ways. I am so happy that you are going the Free National Movement (FNM) way."

However, Prime Minister Christie noted that the PLP went to great lengths during the debate to make it absolutely clear that they had no objection to the privatization process.

"The difference between the PLP and the governing party, now the Opposition, was that we were asking the prime minister to include in the terms of reference of his consultancy with Deutsche Bank the question that all members who were questioning privatization are now today asking, whether or not in their consultancy they could advise the country that privatization, taking advantage of the cutting edge of technology, could have worked by offering the shares to Bahamians as advocated by both the members for St. Margaret's and Bamboo Town," Prime Minister Christie said.

He added that Mr. Ingraham at that time promised that would be included in the consultancy.

"We had no difference on privatization," he stressed.

Nevertheless, Ingraham, the MP for North Abaco stressed that the governing party in its 2002 election platform made no mention of privatizing BaTelCo.

"It is quite clear that the PLP did not put forward to the Bahamian public a position on the privatization of BaTelCo in their 2002 platform.

"It chastised us who did so in our Manifesto II of '97 of proceeding to carry out our commitment to The Bahamian public, without what they regarded as adequate consultation," Mr. Ingraham said.

Now, he said the Progressive Liberal Party, within 90 days of winning the government is proceeding to carry through on the privatization of BaTelco without public consultation.

It was in 1998 when the then-Free National Movement Government announced the idea of the privatizing of BaTelco.

"After all our troubles, BaTelCo is now not only more efficient, but substantially more profitable. BaTelCo is now more profitable, more so that it has ever been in its 37-year history," the former prime minister said.

He said the corporation is ready for the final step to privatization.

BaTelCo, in existence for 37 years - since 1965 - is expected to be dissolved, after the Minister with responsibility for BaTelCo issues the order under the 1999 Telecommunications Act. Once this is done, the new Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) will come into operation.

The Government announced its intention to launch the sale process in late September or early October of this year.

Larry Gibson honoured

More than two decades after first entering the halls of The College of The Bahamas, an alumnus was saluted Friday for symbolising his alma mater's motto of Knowledge, Truth and Integrity.

Larry R. Gibson, Principal and Managing Director of Colina Financial Advisors Limited, named The College of The Bahamas' 2002 Hall of Fame inductee last month, was honoured during the second annual Alumni Association luncheon at Nassau Marriott Resort, Cable Beach. He is only the second individual to be given what has been described as the association's highest honour. Bishop Neil C. Ellis, Senior Pastor of Mount Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church was the first inductee into the Alumni Hall of Fame and was subsequently honoured last year.

Among the family, friends and well-wishers in attendance were, former Governor General Sir Orville Turnquest and Lady Turnquest, Opposition Leader Tommy Turnquest, and Senators Damian Gomez and Desmond Bannister.

COB President Dr. Leon Higgs in his congratulatory remarks said Gibson "scaled the heights in the world of financial service". "But what I consider even more important is the fact that whenever Larry Gibson's name is called, the strongest of moral and spiritual principles are nearly always attached," said Higgs.

He added, "For a man, that is a commendation without equal in our country."

Picewell Forbes, the Alumni President said Hall of Fame inductees were persons who have displayed a lifetime of excellence and examples to others. He went on to describe Gibson as a distinguished student at COB and one who had taken that same spirit of distinction into his professional career.

Bringing the keynote address was Bishop Neil Ellis, who described Gibson as a successful, accomplished and productive individual that was worthy of the honour.

He said Gibson possessed four special characteristics that have allowed him to separate himself from others and receive the prestigious honour.

The first he said, was that Gibson was a man that had a sense of servitude.

"Our honouree, for most of his life has been a servant," he said.

He said this characteristic was evident from his involvement in the Key Club of St. Annes High School and is a trait that has continued with Gibson who has served in several capacities including, Chairman of the Securities Market Task Force, member of the Financial Services Sector Advisory Committee and Chairman of the Bahamas Development Bank.

"Today he continues this high level of unselfish service to this young, developing nation of ours as a member of the Board of Directors of BISX and The College of The Bahamas' Centre for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board," said Ellis.

Next, Ellis said, were the traits of diligence and perseverance.

"He is not an overnight wonder," he said, "He has been in diligent pursuit of his goals and objectives for more than 20 years."

This determination, he said, has allowed Gibson in previous years among other things to have been listed in the 1978/79 Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges while he attended Notre Dame College in California and to have received the 1988 prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Thirdly, Ellis said that Gibson was a courageous visionary.

He said: "This was clearly demonstrated by the fact that after more than a decade and considerable success with a secure company at which he spent a large portion of his professional life, in 1997 he blazed new trails and formed his own investment firm, a man of vision - courage and guts."

Lastly, the Senior Pastor said Gibson was a committed family man and one who was also committed to God.

"Obviously, he understands, that when it's all said and done, only what's done for Christ will last," said Ellis.

In response Larry Gibson said he was humbled and proud to be inducted into The College of The Bahamas' Hall of Fame.

The honouree acknowledged that he has had help and encouragement every step of the way and used the opportunity to offer a special thank you to his parents, Wilton and Cora Gibson, his wife Bernadette, three sons, siblings, friends and colleagues.

"The College of The Bahamas provided me with the tools and exposure to find my calling in life and a foundation on which I build every day," he said.

Towards this end, Gibson encouraged other alumni to support the Alumni Association in all of its endeavors, particularly in its goal to raise $5 million towards an Alumni Endowment with proceeds going to defray costs of a State-of-the Art Library and Learning Center.

"What better enduring legacy can we, alumni and friends of COB leave for future generations of Bahamians than a major contribution towards a National Library and Center of Learning?" he asked.

"While this is an ambitious task I implore each and everyone of you present to join the Alumni Association in making this dream a reality," he said.

The Alumni Executives were also inducted during the luncheon. They will serve during the period 2002-2004 and are: Picewell Forbes, President, Donald L. Saunders, Vice President, Algernon Cargill, Treasurer, Nekisha Simms, Secretary, Melisa Thompson, Assistant Secretary. Veronica Duncanson will serve as an Advisor.

The Alumni Hall of Fame was established last year and inductees are selected by a judging panel from among nominations from the general public. The criteria involves scholars: who excelled during their studies at the college; risen to the top in their professional lives; display altruistic service; and exhibit strength of character that translates into a strengthening of the community.

Technology is no longer for misfits and dummies

Dr. Elliston Rahming speaking at the graduation and prize giving ceremony of the Technical Cadet Corps Programme told the graduates that they should be proud because they have expanded their horizons.

Speaking at the Nassau Marriott and Crystal Palace Resort and Casino, Dr. Rahming said that he felt the Technical Cadet Corps should move to the Family Islands as well.

"And so those of you who made sacrifices, those of you who sat in afternoon classes while your peers browsed through the malls should be proud of yourselves. You should be proud because you took the time to expand your horizons and explore new opportunities," he said.

He told the cadets that after they have been exposed to the introductory aspects of science radio and television production, engineering, electronics, and computer repair, they have options other than medicine, law or accountancy.

"And let me tell you this: The stigma that was once attached to technical occupations is now all but gone. Enlightened people now know that technology is not for dummies and misfits," he said.

"Having been in operation for 12 years now, it is my view that the Technical Cadet Corps should expand to every major Family Island. To continue to have it as a well-kept secret unique to New Providence and a small portion of Grand Bahama is, in my view short sighted. We must make this programme an open-secret," he said.

Rahming noted that farming and fishing should be added to the Technical Cadet Corps if it expands to the Family Islands.

"The government has announced a bold policy initiative to re-invigorate the fishing and agriculture sectors. Well, we will need a whole cadre of highly disciplined well trained young people who can introduce the latest methodologies and apply the latest technologies to expand these two vital industries," he said.

Continuing Rahming added that he felt the Technical Cadet Corps should serve as a feeder for the Bahamas Technical Vocational Institute.

"I see no reason why successful graduates of this programme should not be allowed to enter BTVI with advanced standing, exempted from certain introductory courses," he said.

Rahming said that the feeder system will aid in identifying students interested in the programme, channelled into BTVI and steered in the direction of The College of the Bahamas.

Rahming said that the programme if implemented will produce electrical and mechanical engineers, architects web page designers, computer and electronics repair technicians, future fishermen and farmers.

He told the graduates they have made a good start and not to let doomsayers discourage them.

Rahming urged the graduates to hold onto their dreams and to never give up on them no matter how hard the road gets.

Cuba Has Work To Do Before It Catches Up To The Bahamas

I visited Havana Cuba recently, and unlike former president Jimmy Carter's visit, mine went unnoticed. I was part of a small group traveling from Nassau. For those of us visiting this country for the first time the excitement could not have been greater.

The Editor, The Guardian,

Dear Sir,

We began the Cuban experience from the moment we boarded the Cuban airline plane. We could not avoid but notice the poor condition of the plane and the smell; it looked like a plane built in Eastern Europe sometime ago.

We arrived in Havana at about 7:30 p.m. where we were ushered to the arrival section of the airport and waited in line to be admitted into the country. We soon learned that the Cuban authorities are very strict about visitors following their rules, as each one of us was required to be interviewed individually, even for those traveling with a spouse or family members.

We spent four days and three nights in Havana at Hotel Nacional, a large elegant hotel that still resembled the elegance of the 50s. We walked the streets of "la Havana Vieja" (Old Havana) where we were told that the Office of the Historian, a government agency, has been restoring the buildings for the last five years for the purpose of tourism. Other reliable source told me that a Catholic Priest is behind the project of restoration and the O.N.U.

In Old Havana we bought ice cream and found out that there are two standards of ice cream, the one sold to the Cubans for one Peso, (exchange 26 pesos for $1.00), which tasted like plastic, and the one sold to the tourists for $1.00 that tasted better.

We also toured other areas of the city and saw the dirty and dilapidated buildings and streets that were once beautiful works of architecture.

We saw people on the streets who were sitting down doing nothing, laundry hanging from the balconies, people standing in line waiting for their food ration or their bus pass, old large buses filled with people beyond capacity, people everywhere, sitting in parks and others waiting in more lines as they an appeared expressionless.

We wondered why the people did not organize themselves into teams and clean their streets and buildings to improve somewhat their living conditions. Our Cuban driver told me (in Spanish) that accomplishing this was very difficult because not everyone in the building would want to do his or her part in cleaning it.

No one in Cuba is allowed to own anything, everything is owned by the state. Cubans are not permitted to buy any property even if they had the money. Foreigners on the other hand may be allowed to buy certain properties. Cubans have no incentive to work harder because at the end of the day, they're still not far ahead. They are told everyday of their lives that they must make sacrifices for the REVOLUTION. The REVOLUTION is everything. You see the signs that remind them of the REVOLUCION everywhere. Signs that say "REVOLUCION 0 MUERTE" (REVOLUTION OR DEATH).

Two of us took a 30-minute tour with a young man not older that 17 years old, on his "homemade" tricycle. He spoke proudly of the historic sites and of the victory of the Cuban revolution in getting rid of the Batiste government that was the puppet of the imperialist regimes that controlled Cuba before Fidel. We listened to his comments and offered none of our own because we understood that it was best not to. He seemed to be one of many young revolutionaries that were born in this communist way of life. A frank expression of our opinion would more likely be misunderstood. We wondered how much he would prefer living in a free society where he would have the freedom to achieve his full potential or at the very least, try.

The charm of Old Havana can still be seen. It feels awkward though to walk in this European like streets and find for the most part a lot of poverty. You come across buildings that on the exterior have fresh paint but inside everything is dark and rundown, next to buildings that are pretty deteriorated.

In between these buildings you find small stores that sell the local craft, one or two bars where you can enjoy a "mojito" (a mixed drink) for $4.00 or $6.00, or a coffee bar where you can buy a small cup of Cuban expresso for $1.00.

If you pay with a large bill, you should remind the attendant to give your change back, otherwise it will be kept as tip. If you plan to dine outside of the hotel in a "Paladares" (a private restaurant) you would need to make reservations in advance and to indicate the menu you will want, to minimize the chances of running out of supplies. One dish of Lobster tail and a few shrimps will cost you $25.00 a plate, plus drinks. We were also taken to a less expensive open restaurant where I ordered a steak and vegetables, but did not eat it because the beef had a different colour.

While we toured some of the more popular tourist attractions of Havana, we also had a glimpse of other rundown neighbourhoods of the real Cuba. We even drove by Chinatown, El Vedado, and the famous Paseo del Malecon drive. From a distance the buildings at Malecon Dr., seem well, but upon closer look most buildings are in great need of repairs.

On the day of our departure as we drove through the streets in route to the airport, I could not help but feel sad watching the people standing in line waiting for their food ration, watching the buses drive by, filled with people beyond capacity, wondering what they were thinking as they waited their turn, going about their daily routines. Expressionless.

Somewhere I read that Cuba's literacy rate is among one of the highest in the world (95%), the health system guarantees a health professional to every citizen, free medicine and hospital facility. But as I thought of this statistic, I also thought that while all that is good, the real problem is that the Cuban people are not free.

They are not allowed the right of free speech, free gathering, the right to choose their own destiny and their own lifestyle. This truth translates into everything we experienced in Cuba. You can see it, you can sense it, and you can almost touch it. The other truth is that today Cuba has priced itself out of the tourist market, because the prices are too high, the quality of goods mediocre, the restaurants and hotels' services is poor.

To really compete for the tourist market in the Caribbean, Cuba is going to need billions and billions of dollars to rebuild its structure, it will need a re-birth of the millions of people whose mentality is that of a revolutionary not educated in the free enterprise system. It will take a democratic government and an aggressive business sector to put in place open and competitive policies.

On the other hand, while The Bahamas may not have the wealth of history, as does Cuba, we live in a democratic society with the freedom to choose our own government, freedom to work and shape our lives as we see fit.

In my opinion on the issue of Cuba, our government should take a proactive stance, concentrate efforts in training staff in all the tourist service industry to serve with a smile, encourage new business in the small hotel, bed & breakfast facilities, give incentives to businesses involved in tourism with costs breaks in order for them to pass on lower prices to consumers, continue to promote The Bahamas in the countries where we are already known and aggressively promote in those other markets where we are not.

An example of this is the Latin American market that spends millions of dollars visiting Florida. Offer them attractive packages to stretch their travel across to our islands and do away.

Presentation by British High

The Hon. Oswald Ingraham MP and Speaker of the House of Assembly received a courtesy call from British High Commissioner, Peter Heigl.

Mr. Heigl congratulated Mr. Ingraham on his election both as a Member of Parliament and to the distinguished position of Speaker. He hoped that the close co-operation between the UK and The Bahamas parliaments could be developed bilaterally and under the Inter Parliamentary Union and Commonwealth Parliamentary Union auspices.

Mr. Speaker Ingraham explained the importance of the Speaker's duty as the presiding officer of The Bahamas House of Assembly requiring him to maintain order in debate and to apply and interpret the rules, practices and traditions of the House. In any Parliament this requires considerable skill and a balanced approach.

The impartiality of The Speaker is crucial in all matters of House of Assembly management and control though Mr. Ingraham emphasized that he would continue steadfastly to represent his constituents interests and ensure that their concerns were made known to the Government.

The British High Commissioner presented The Speaker with a new copy of Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice and also an up to date edition of UK Handbook on House of Commons Procedure. The High Commissioner commented that as The Bahamas parliamentary procedures are similar to the Westminster system he hoped that these books would be useful additions to the parliamentary Libraries and helpful reading particularly for all newly elected members of the House.

Picture shows: The Hon. Oswald Ingraham MP and Speaker of the House of Assembly and British High Commissioner, Peter Heigl

Action not headlines, Mr. Minister

It is my contention that Bahamians of all strata, groupings and political persuasions should take exception to the extremely un-flattering profile, verbally sketched in a contribution in Parliament, and reported (Headline-article Bahama Journal Thursday June 6th 2002) by The Christie Administration's Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Local Government V. Alfred Cray, which depicted our nation's Revenue Officials (Customs Officers) and businesses.

To The Editor

The Nassau Guardian

It poses a perfectly madding phenomenon to observers that for reasons known only to themselves, some allegedly trained professional persons, wielding power and authority on the behalf of our Bahamian Public/Electorate could be unashamedly seeking "Headlines" over appropriately structured administrative initiatives.

". . Businesses accused of smuggling: Customs in collusion..." (Bahama Journal Thursday June 6th 2002) was just that, a nationally alarming headline, with no question mark; therefore, coming from a "Cabinet Minister", and not a 'Back bencher" of the present Christie-led Progressive Liberal Party Administration, one would immediately expect, if not the names of those perpetrators-because there could well be an active and on-going intensive investigation-then surely a 'Task force' investigating those matters, with a scope and expected time-frame for wrapping-up the probe, then the informing of Parliament of its finding and what was being done, should have been communicated to that body when the minister brought those matters before it.

When a Cabinet Minister, in charge of a very important department of Government, that impacts our National Food Supply, in his Parliamentary contribution, alludes to..." Foot and Mouth Disease rampant in Great Britain, and reported The Journal: "... We are subject to be exposed to all kinds of diseases... Therein lies the problem because there would be no way of monitoring what is brought in," said Mr. Gray (presumably these would include "Mad Cow" disease from the United Kingdom and possibly elsewhere). These are very emotive as well as alarming-in-the-extreme statements, possibly calculated and promulgated with the best of public-spirited intentions, but in a very inappropriate venue indeed. What housewife and or mother could today feel confident today, about putting on the table, for consumption of her beloved family, possibly banned food stuffs that might have been smuggled-in by allegedly crooked businesses with the collusion of allegedly, equally crooked custom officers?

It would seem to sage observers that were those assertions allegedly brought to Minister V. Alfred Gray's attention, and had sound evidential legs, he might have preferred to have gone the following route: I. Customs Officers are Revenue Officers and as such come under The Minister of Finance; who at present, is his Prime Minister Honourable Perry G. Christie. 2. Criminal investigations, when there is probable cause, are done by our Royal Bahamas Police Force and this comes under the Minister of Public Safety Cynthia "Mother" Pratt. If the police uncovers wrong-doing of the type in Minister Gray's assertions, our Attorney General is The Honourable Alfred Sears, whose office decides who and when prosecutions should occur. Minister Gray's own ministry has certain responsibilities relative to our food supply, which, I believe, we can be assured that he will zealously discharge. Finally, Minister for Health and Environmental Services the Honourable Marcus Bethell has departments in his ministry that are concerned with ensuring that our Bahamian food supply is safe for consumption.

Since all the above persons are "Cabinet Colleagues" of Minister Gray it would have been more than appropriate to have broached those matters with the view to establishing a joint-agency "Task Force" to deal with alleged criminal conspiracies, supposedly jointly entered into by so-called 'Big businesses' and our 'Revenue Officers'. Despite Minister Gray's postulates, it is possible to trace shelves items offered for sale in our Bahamas. Each imported shipment must have entered through some Bahamian port and evidence of rates and amounts of duties paid in the possession of the importer, and available for further inspection by Custom's Inspectorate. Even the mounting of a "Sting" operation would not be out of bounds. A warning by the Ministers' Contribution in Parliament, is useless as it could only serve to drive such activities if they are indeed happening-deeper underground

Harry W. Hall

P.O. Box N 163 7

New Providence, Bahamas

Phone: 1-242-324-3407


Marlin Awards Celebrates Caribbean/Gospel Music

Heavy rainfall did not stop the biggest stars of gospel and Caribbean music to shine on Sunday night at the Caribbean Gospel Music Marlin Awards at a packed Crystal Palace Rainforest Theatre.

It was an exciting night of Gospel, Reggae, Calypso, and dancehall music, accompanied with the issuance of awards in some thirty-two categories that varied from "outstanding new artist of the year", to "outstanding dancehall recording of the year." Awards were also issued in new categories, that included Outstanding Jazz, Ethnic, Dub/culture, Reggae Hip/Hop and two International Caribbean Recording and International artist of the year awards.

President of the Marlin Awards, Kevin Harris said that Sunday's awards ceremony was all about celebration, as the glory and spirit of Caribbean Gospel Music was being celebrated.

"I wish to extend a warm welcome to all of you in attendance. I especially wish to recognize those artists who have traveled many miles just to join us here tonight, we really do appreciate your support," said Harris to a packed theatre of gospel and Caribbean music fans.

Harris told guests that Sunday's Marlin Awards represented a coming together of "Nations" as so many artists representing so many diverse, ethnic and cultural backgrounds have assembled for one common purpose.

"They have come to lift up the name of Jesus through their gifts and talents and to honor those among us who have produced outstanding material over the 2000-2001 periods."

Award nominees included individuals from the Bahamas and various islands in the Caribbean, some of which included: Jamaica, Trinidad, Tortola, St. Croix, Barbados, St. Maarten, Antigua and St. Thomas.

Harris also noted that the Marlin Award committee looks to the future with much enthusiasm and excitement and has many great things on its agenda to accomplish as they move towards playing its part in building a strong, vibrant and regional gospel industry.

"Not everyone may be able to take home an award tonight, but all of us can take courage in the fact that we have found our call and embraced our purpose with passion, commitment and determination. I encourage each of you to strive for God's best, never settle for the middle ground, but keep excellence as your goal and continue to strive and pursue excellence in every aspect of your life,' said Harris.

The Marlin Awards took time out of the ceremony to honour the legacy of three of its fallen soldiers, which included the late Cindy Maria Adderley-Thompson, Ras Shorty and Prince Colebrooke.

Cindy Maria Adderley-Thompson, was the recipient of the Freddie "Buck" Farrington Servitude Award. Cindy served as one of the principal choreographers for the Marlin Awards almost since its inception, in which she helped to develop and enhance each of the awards dynamic openings. She was also the founder and director of the Miss Teen Bahamas Pageant.

Ras Shorty I, was the recipient of the President's award for foreign contribution. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, "Shorty" is credited as the creator of the famous "Soca" sound that has helped establish Trinidad & Tobago on the world music stage. He founded a new musical expression called Jamoo, meaning "Jehovah's Music" or "Born Again Soca" and is known for his tireless and unselfish contribution to the development and advancement of Caribbean Gospel Music.

Prince Winston Colebrooke was the recipient of the Denero "Troy" Davis award for local contribution. He was considered by many as a 'radical for Christ' and a true soldier of the kingdom of God.

Prince was known for his involvement and support of many church choirs and civic organizations. At the time of his passing he was an active member, vocalist and songwriter for the group "Voices." He was also a founding member and lead vocalist for the local group 'anointed' who released a full-length album in the late eighties.

A special tribute was also given to the Gospel Visionaires, who comprise of Al Gibson, Leon Bowe, Godfrey Newry and Dr. Myles Munroe. The men were given the "Rev. Rolle lifetime Award." During their time in the music ministry, the Visionaires were known to impact every home, juke box and bar room throughout the country. Because of their music, young people filled local churches and even though they were persecuted by members of the church community at that time, the group would go on to earn the respect and support from religious, social and governmental leaders.

New Margaret McDonald Centre will honour an outstanding public

A proposed new management development center embracing the talents of leading Bahamian and international practitioners and scholars is being established as a lasting memorial to an outstanding Bahamian educator and public servant.

The Margaret McDonald Policy Management and Administration Center (M.M.P.M.A.C.) will be the first of its kind 'in The Bahamas, designed to enhance the development of management practice through the use of new and effective ways of improving sustainable productivity.

Mrs. Albertha Byer, former Director of Training in The Bahamas Government and currently a management consultant chairs a special Steering Committee of prominent Bahamian professionals who are presently engaged in the establishment of the Center, which will place emphasis on mentoring young professionals who aspire toward leadership positions.

Additionally, the doors will be open to senior and middle managers who show a strong potential for more senior positions and other professional Challenges.

"The Centre is aptly named for the late Mrs. Margaret McDonald to reflect the significant contributions she made during her distinguished career in public service spanning over 52 years," Mrs. Byer said,

Other members of the Steering Committee include Mrs. Lois Symonette, former Permanent Secretary and management consultant; Mrs. Beverley Wallace Whitfield, former Chief of Protocol, Secretary to the Governor-General and veteran educator; Mrs. Myra Mitchell, computer analyst and president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; a representative of the College of The Bahamas; and Mrs. Mary Sweetnam, former Permanent Secretary and member of the Public Service Commission, and younger sister of the late Margaret McDonald.

Three major inauguration events will include the Official Launching Ceremony on Thursday 13 June in the Cafeteria of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Studies at the College of The Bahamas, a Symposium on "Managing the New Millennium" at Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort on 27 and 28 June, and a Banquet of Honour at Sandals on Friday 28 June.

Complete details of the Center will be unveiled during the June 13 launch, whose invitation list includes Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, Senators, Deltas, members of the Chamber of Commerce, members of the Public Service, members of the Clergy, members of the Golden Days Association (of which Margaret McDonald was a part), and family and friends of the late educator,

Delivering the keynote at the Launch will be Dr. Baltron Bethel, President of the Bahamas Baptist College, who was also a contemporary of Mrs. McDonald in the Public Service.

The Symposium "Managing for the Millennium: A Global and National Perspective" will provide an independent forum for dialogue among all sectors of the community concerning local, national and international issues affecting growth and development in The Bahamas.

"Through the two-day Conference we seek to establish a network aimed at building private and public sector collaboration within The Bahamas and with the international community," Mrs. Byer said.

Additionally, she continued, an important objective is also to focus on and to elicit community support of the Margaret McDonald Policy Management and Administration Center, which will provide an opportunity for cross-cultural appreciation and interaction.

Prime Minister the Hon. Perry Christie has been invited to deliver the address at the gala Banquet of Honour on Friday 28 June, when tribute will be paid to 10 outstanding Bahamian achievers, each of whom has had a meaningful connection and association with Margaret McDonald.

Steering Committee member Mrs. Beverley Wallace Whitfield said that the evening is being designed as one filled with tribute, nostalgia and fitting entertainment.

"Once again we will focus on the establishment of the Center as a monument to a Bahamian who has served well, and the quality of whose service will continue to impress and to inspire other Bahamians, especially the aspiring youth, to strive for achievement in a modern, challenging Bahamas," Mrs. Wallace Whitfield said.

She noted that the wider public will have an opportunity to participate in making the Center a successful reality through patronage at the two-day Symposium, and at the Banquet of Honour.

Mrs. Margaret Evangeline McDonald, C.V.O., C.B.E., who passed away in 2001, was from 1986 to 1992 The Bahamas" Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America.

She was also The Bahamas' Permanent representative to the Organisation of American States, Ambassador to several Latin American countries, and Non-Resident High Commissioner to Jamaica.

Prior to her diplomatic positions, she served as Secretary to the Cabinet for six years, beginning her career in the Civil Service in 1957 after 17 years as a public school teacher.

Born at Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera in April 1922, in 1948 she became the wife of the late educator Luther Haldene McDonald. Her two children, both attorneys, are Mrs. Donna Smith and Mr. Luther McDonald, Jr.

She was honoured by the Coalition of 100 Black Women in the United States of America; the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.; and the Business and Professional Women of The Bahamas.

"There is no other outstanding Bahamian whose long years of dedicated professional service can provide such a powerful inspiration for others who seek excellence and fulfillment Mrs. Byer said, "and we who knew and worked with Mrs. Margaret McDonald are today proud and privileged to steer and spearhead the establishment of the Margaret McDonald Policy Management and Administration Center not only as a tribute to her memory, but, most importantly, as a wonderful avenue of hope and help for thousands of other modern Bahamians."

Acklins Regatta

Acklins regatta to offer second biggest paying purse in the country.

Released Saturday, by Shavaughn Gordon-Moss


NG Sports Reporter

With a $20,000 purse up for grabs, the August Acklins Regatta is now the second biggest paying regatta in the country.

Offering $5,000 for a first place finish in Class A, $3,000 in Class B and $2,000 in Class C, the Burns House Regatta will be sailed August 2 and 3 in Spring Point, Acklins, and the lucrative purse is enticing the sloop sailors.

Up to yesterday, three A Class boats had already registered to compete, the Sea Star, Thunderbird and Lucayan Lady. But Bahamas Boat Owners and Sailors Association commodore, Eric "King" Gibson, who is also a member of the Acklins Regatta Committee said they could accommodate up to five boats in the class.

Queen Drucilla, Bahama Life, Barbarian, William Auto and Heatchcliff were the B Class registered. But the association could accommodate up to eight, and six C Class boats had already registered.

In addition to the purse, offered by Al Collie, Burns House will also offer $3,000 in the name of Ole Nassau rum in the A Class, $2,000 in the name of Gilbey's in the B Class and $1,000 in the name of Smirnoff in the C Class.

But the Andros Regatta is still the money leader in the country with a whopping $10,000 purse for first place alone.

"We have a lot going for us for this regatta," said Gibson of the event which is also sponsored by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, and is one of the seven races on the calendar this year from which points are garnered toward the prestigious Boat of the Year honours.

The Acklins Regatta, which started out with only C Class competition, over the past 20-years grew to accommodate B Class boats and eventually the A Class.

Leading Employees Honored At First Crystal Awards

The crowning achievement for scores of leading Sun International employees, who demonstrated extreme hard work and commitment over the past quarter, were brought to light as they were honored at the resort's first ever Crystal Awards Luncheon for Quartz 2002 (formerly Sun Star and Leader of the Quarter Awards) last Tuesday in the Atlantis Grand Ballroom.

The excitement intensified as Mr. Jeff Adderley, a Security Manager was selected Leader of the Quarter from among nine of his colleagues. Mr. Adderley was applauded and cheered on by a jubilant crowd of employees and well wishers attending the prestigious event.

"Looking at the cast of persons that were there, definitely this could not have been an easy decision to make. I think that Sun International has some of the top managers in this region. It is a pleasure to be among those persons to receive this award," said an elated Mr. Adderley.

Employed with the resort for 18 years, all of which he has spent working in the Security Department; Mr. Adderley described his time with the company as the best years of his life. He said if he had a chance to do it over again, he would do it right here at Atlantis.

Mr. Adderley acknowledged Mr. Basil Dean, Senior Vice President of Security and Surveillance and Mr. Gerard Burrows, Director of Security. He thanked them for preparing him for this leadership role. "This is what Sun International has been about for as long as I have been with the company. They train you and then they put you to a level where you not only make the company look good, but you make yourself look good."

Mrs. Karen Carey, Senior Vice President of Human Resources was highly pleased with the awards luncheon and excitement level of employees in attendance. She noted that the awards certainly symbolized the myth of Atlantis and what it represents. "The Crystal Awards focuses on the employees and the honors they deserve. I think the persons selected today were a good choice and indeed they should be very proud of being awarded the Crystal Awards for the Quartz period," said Mrs. Carey.

Various divisional winners were also very pleased over being chosen as outstanding in their respective departments. "I am still in shock to find out that I was a nominee and actually was selected the over all winner for my department," said a very pleased Sophia Mc Kenzie of Stars Dining Room.

"It gives me that extra push," said Cleveland Hall of the Casino Service Bar. " We need things like this to encourage each other in the industry to keep it working... it's good to feel that management thinks that much about you," said Hall, a former Sun Star winner.

All general staff nominees were presented with a $25 check. Divisional winners received $250.00 and the leader nominees were presented with checks valued at $50.00, while the overall leader received $500.00. All employees were also presented with special trophies to highlight their achievements.

Ms. A. Camille Fields, Employee Events and Recruitment Manager pointed out that the nomination process for the Crystal Awards was more stringent this time around. "Just being nominated is a great honor," she said.

The awards luncheon featured an upbeat and festive mood and was held under the theme "Hot, Hot, Summer." The masters of ceremony for the event Mr. Ian Reid, Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage along with Mr. Ernie Cambridge, Vice President of VIP

Services both of whom got the excitement rolling early as they appeared on stage wearing tropical shirts and dancing to reggae music.

The excitement continued throughout the event and climaxed with a special performance featuring Mr. Anthony Watkins and Mr. Kressville Ritchie, Atlantis' Leaders of the Year; Ms. Samantha Ash, Employee of the Year; Ms. Hope Curry, Mailroom Coordinator and Mr. Keith Lewis of Seagrapes. The group performed to local entertainer Stevie S' "Hold Ya Head." Other highlights included acts from performers who participate in the Seagrapes Circus at Atlantis. Clowns dawned colorful costumes and fire dancers paraded through the audience as a grand- mama handed out balloons while a man walked on stilts.

CAPTION: Pictured - Atlantis' Leader of the Quartz 2002 winners: Charles Smith, Food and Beverage Services; Antoinette Rutherford, Casino; Janet Rolle, Discovery Channel Camp; Peggy Wilson, Retail Division; Ronald Brooks, ITD; Jeff Adderley, Security Department-Leader of the Quartz Winner; Mr. Alan Leibman, Chief Operating Officer; Carrington Butler, Golf Course; Darin Strachan, Laundry;

George Petty, Ocean Club and Leo Johnson, Facilities. (Photo: Andrew Aitkin)

Lady Symonette, 87, widow of Bahamas' first premier, dies

Margaret Lady Symonette, 87, the widow of the nation's first Premier, Sir Roland Symonette, passed away yesterday.

"We in the Free National Movement are entirely appreciative of the tremendous support and encouragement our organization has received from Lady Symonette through many years of the party's existence," said Tommy Turnquest, FNM leader.

Lady Symonette's funeral is scheduled to be held at Ebenezer Methodist Church, Shirley Street, at 11a.m. on Saturday.

Turnquest said that Lady Symonette, as a long time supporter of the party, has always been an advocate of the philosophy and policies of the Free National Movement, and has never failed to express that support in meaningful ways.

Lady Symonette was a Bahamian who was dedicated to social and political principle, he said, and throughout the life and history of the FNM she never hesitated to lend support to the idea that the strength of the FNM consisted in the diversity of its membership, and that the FNM was the only real, all- inclusive hope for "our strong and proud Bahamas."

Her husband, Sir Roland Symonette, was a former Member of Parliament for the Shirlea Constituency and served as the first Premier of the Bahamas under colonial rule from 1964-67.

He was also leader of the governing United Bahamian Party until 1972, when the UBP disbanded and he and other former members joined the Free National Movement as the official Opposition.

Lady Symonette, according to her son, Brent Symonette, died due to complications caused by a stroke she suffered three years ago. Symonette said his mother's death marked the end of an era.

Brent Symonette, a lawyer by profession , following the FNM's 1992 election victory, served as the Minister of Tourism, then as Attorney General. He was also the chairman of the Hotel Corporation and head of the Airport Authority until 2001. He was elected to the House of Assembly as the representative for Montagu in the May 2 General Election.

Let's Not Sell Our Birthrights To

I am a young Bahamian computer professional having worked in the local computer industry from the birth of the IBM PC in The Bahamas back in 1984. I was educated at a technical college in London, England and have worked hard.

The Editor,

The Guardian

Dear Sir,

The common held view that Bahamians were being treated as second class people (not citizens) in our country is shared by many especially the young, educated professional. I know I will be accused of foreigner-bashing but we must look after Bahamians, in The Bahamas, first - every other country of the world does it. And non-Bahamians married to Bahamians qualify, in my book at least, as Bahamians as they have a Bahamian spouse, and Bahamian children, to support.

Things the Government should consider when privatizing BaTelCo.

1) Telecommunications is the future and the future is now - we are in the 21st Century. There is a lot of money to be made in this sector and we should not give it away to non-Bahamians. With the current state of the treasury, and economy, we need to keep as much money at home as we can. If someone is to be made rich by this -- and this sector will make a ton of money -- shouldn't a Bahamian profit?

2) There is an argument that we do not have the expertise. This may be true to an extent but we can rent the expertise by bringing in non-Bahamians on a set contract of three years, or less, with the expressed directive to train Bahamians to do the work. I suggest that they are not allowed to do any of the work without Bahamian understudies. Additionally we have gone to the best universities and colleges in the world. We have gotten the best grades simply because we have been studying while the natives of the host country have been out partying. It is simply wrong for those same partying non-Bahmaians to come here and be placed over a serious Bahamian with superior qualifications. I personally know of a case where a Bahamian went to Boston MIT and graduated with honors. He was employed locally by a large Insurance Company and placed beneath a semi-competent South American was quite obviously inferior in ability. I also personally know of an American accountant - not a chartered accountant, who was hired by a local bank because of some expertise he was claimed to have. It turns out that he did not have the claimed expertise.

3) There is an argument that we would not have the necessary contacts in the telecommunications world to make good agreements. Good agreements are made by good negotiations. Besides we do have all the contacts we need - Mr. Franklin, Benjamin Franklin, and company. All the businesses in the world are in business to make money -- they are out looking to get into our market we need to realize and understand this. Sometimes it is good that we have not made some of the contacts these non-Bahamians bring to the table as they often turn out to be liabilities rather than assets.

4) Do we really want a non-Bahamian individual or company to manage our telecommunications? In a military coup the first thing that happens is that communications are secured. This should show the importance of communications. If we have AT&T come and to manage BaTelCo and there is a Bahamian law that contradicts a US law which one will they abide by? They are making more money in the US than they could possibly make in The Bahamas -- remember this is a business. Additionally do we really want a OECD company to have access to our banks? Remember that the majority of data lines going into our banks are currently owned by BaTelCo and there is a thing called industrial espionage.

5) Government does not have to own one single share of BaTelCo. Government can make money on telecommunications tariffs that are passed on to the consumer. Government would also benefit from the funds from the sale to pay down some of the national debt. Government can also ensure that telephone rates are affordable as the PUC has the ability to regulate the rates charged.

6) Open up the industry. In the bad old days the only place to get a beeper/pager was from BaTelCo. They provided a big, ugly, noisy piece of equipment that, when it went off everyone knew that you were being paged. Also you could almost never make out what the caller was saying anyway. A couple years ago this part of the industry was de-regulated and today we have a number of pager companies offering a variety of services. It is interesting to note that BaTelCo was the last to offer the most advanced services. A similar thing has happened in the Internet Service Provider area with a number of companies offering Internet Access and BaTelCo bringing up the rear with the high speed DSL service that has been advertised for about two or three years now, tested and still not yet available. As of March this year the Telecommunication Act removed the monopoly from BaTelCo on cellular service. Would a similar thing happen here? What about local phone service, what about data services?

7) Sell BaTelCo at a bargain price. If we could get $500 Million for BaTelCo from a local IPO that is half a billion dollars that the Government could use to advance some of their ambitious agenda - this would answer the question as to where the funds are coming from. Additionally we would now have Bahamians making money off what is a Bahamian asset.

On the subject of Telecommunications in The Bahamas we must also look at Cable Bahamas. In a short time they ran fiber all through out the island of New Providence and Grand Bahama and even ran a cable between some islands and to the US. They now have the ability to provide telephone services as well.

Cable Bahamas has proven over and again to be a poor corporate citizen. They have, on numerous occasion, done things that range from immoral to illegal and yet have not faced any consequences.

Beginning with the theft of the HBO signal which was resold to the Bahamian public at a high cost, the provision of illegal Internet service (note that the PUC published a notice that the public would be prosecuted if they got Internet service from Cable Bahamas -- not the company) and finally to top it all of the illegal hookup to ZNS for their Internet service. There has been no public investigation and prosecution, or vindication.

I hope that the new Government in the Fresh Wind will help Bahamians to be able to get what we need to make it on our own. We don't need handouts we need to truly let market forces prevail. We need competition that would allow a small pager company to exist that employs five people but serve a thousand customers. We need a second cellular service provider to bring cellular rates down and service up.

This is that kind of thing that will stimulate our economy.

I say that we should all support our new Government that seems to be making steps in the right direction. But know this - we are watching and we are tired, very tired, of foolishness.

Yours, etc.,

Timothy A. Williams

Accountability and transparency

The two words accountability and transparency, like - "I SAY WHAT I MEAN AND I MEAN WHAT I SAY - were to the voting population of this country in 1992 like a dish of ice cream, and a slice of cake to a hungry child.

After a very disappointing experience with the then-PLP administration, these words were a ray of hope and expectancy of better things to come under a new FNM administration.

And so like a crowd of hungry kids on their way to a party of cake and ice cream, the voters of this country flocked to the polls - the ever-hopeful FNMs and the disgruntled and disappointed PLPs - to give the FNM a great victory and the PLP a humiliating defeat.

The new leader and PM took the bull by the horn, and in short order, pulled the country back from the brink of bankruptcy to an even keel.

For his efforts, he was given an even larger vote of confidence at the polls in 1997 and the word on the street was - the FNM will be the government for a long time - but, alas this was not going to be the case, as the ugly head of corruption began to appear on the political horizon accompanied by ignorance, bigotry and arrogance.

It did not take long for this horrific combination to start exacting its toll on the body politic, the country's economy and the minds of the voters, leaving behind a wrecked party, a crumbled economy and a population of stressed out voters.

If one were to look carefully at the record of the previous government, one would readily discern that at no time was it transparent or accountable, and that it really never was a sunshine government as promised. For the first 4 1/2 - 5 years, things were good, and people were not paying any attention to the promises that were made before the gaining of power. But if the public or opposition were vigilant, it would have discovered quite early into their administration, that those words- ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY - were used only as election gimmicks and vote-catchers.

It was only after Bradley Roberts, through his painstaking investigative and factual reporting and disclosures to Parliament, did John Q. Public begin to sit up and take note of what was really happening in the sunshine.

There were those (Government members and supporters) who were calling Bradley Roberts, a liar, a troublemaker and words unfit to adorn the face of a sheet of foolscap; but mind you, all of Roberts' revelations were not new, for some of them had been appearing in a bi-monthly tabloid (BLACKBELT) for months prior.

With the announcement that Hubert Ingraham would not be seeking a third term in office, a free-for-all scramble began for the leader-elect position.

The dirty tricks department of the party donned their battle gear and took to the battlefield (The Constituencies) promises; bribery and threats were being used left, right and centre, caution was thrown to the wind and no holds were barred - so sure of victory were they.

In 2002 a National Convention was called, controlled and managed by elements of the dirty tricks team. That debacle could not- in any sense of the word - be termed a party's convention.

It was at this point that I saw the beginning of the end for the FNM and did not hesitate in letting it be known, and immediately began preparing a plan to save Long Island from the political catastrophe that I foresaw in the making.

About seven months after the leader-elect election fiasco, the party announced a leader-designate mini-convention.

This proved to be worse than the convention before it, where the leader-elect amendment was defeated, and was nothing short of an old time UBP Island Election Day with food, drinks and briberies galore. The results and the aftermath is now history.

In 1997, shortly after the FNM's resounding victory at the polls, it was announced that all representatives in Parliament would be given $18,000.00 annually for the upkeep and operation of a constituency office in their constituencies, a limited ntunber of MPs opened constituency offices (a number of MPs had their offices opened at their own expense) and kept them operational; but a large number of serving MPs never opened an office and some only 2-3 months before the last elections.

Questions as to what was happening to this money that was being religiously paid to all

MPs monthly was being asked by members of John Q. Public - including myself - in the press, on talk shows and at political constituency meetings.

When asked by me at a political meeting, my MP told that he had his in the bank. When asked to whose account, he answered, "mine of course."

When it was quite evident that an election was near, each Member of Parliament was given $50,000.00 of our money to spend in his/her constituency as he/she saw fit. In one area that I know of, private roads and yards were graded and paved - any half-wit nine-year-old could have looked through this move and come up with one answer only - an election ploy.

I wonder if the perpetrator of this brutal assault on the treasury of this nation, really took note of the transparency of this act. I think not.

Two weeks before the election and the same time after dissolution of Parliament a circular authorising the payment of another sum of $50,000.00 to ex-members of Parliament - for one apparent reason - Campaign Funds - because when Parliament is dissolved all seats become vacant.

I am of the opinion that that act was felonious, as there was no appropriate authority for such an action.

If and until elected Members of Parliament come to grips with the realization that they are custodians and not the absolute owners of the Public Treasury, then I am afraid that this situation would continue to exist.

In our society, rape is high on the list of felonies; but as bad and despicable as it may be, parental or custodial rape is far more despicable and horrific in our society; so when we - John Q. Public - give a government custody of our treasury, WE DO NOT AND I REPEAT DO NOT EXPECT OUR LOVED ONES (the darling and lifeblood of this nation) TO BE RAPED BY POLITICAL BANDITS.

In 1984, a costly Blue Ribbon Commission of Enquiry was held - end results, NO PROSECUTIONS.

In 1994, another costly Commission of Enquiry, end results - some poor people involved became wealthy; but nothing else happened.

There is no doubt in my mind that our Police Force has the necessary facilities, personnel and capabilities of conducting fair, professional, impartial, skilful and complete investigations into the following: -

I. Abuse, misuse or direct misappropriation of Government Funds, Re Constituency Office Allocations.

II. The Air Condition Contract (Ministry of Tourism).

III. The Victory Celebration Party (Leader-Designate) of $31,000.00 supposedly paid for by a Contractor.

IV. The Dowdeswell St. Property Contract-Ministry of Education.

V. Ministry of Education School Repair Contracts.

VI. The granting of a Govt. building to an FNM General in Morgan's Bluff Andros.

VII. The granting of 30 acres of Crown Land in Cabbage Point South Long Island for a questionable project.

VIII. The removal of all soil and hence the destruction of huge acreage of Crown Land in Long Island by supporters of an FNM Member in Parliament.

IX. A large number of individuals on the payroll of various Ministries, whose only job was to campaign and act as gofers for certain Members of Parliament. A minute inspection of pay sheets in various Government Ministries and Corporations will prove very interesting indeed.

X. The allegation of Statutory Rape by a high ranking individual of the former Government should now be proceeded with.

Outstanding Faith Temple Student Wins National Award

Twenty students from the nation's top secondary schools were recently presented the 'Outstanding Students In Bahamian High Schools Award'. Successful candidates were chosen based on their academic achievements and athletic performance. Among those honored was Faith Temple Christian Academy student

Latika Cooper. Receiving a trophy and certificate, Latika attributes her success to determination. The twelfth grade student stated, "I worked very hard and made a lot of sacrifices to maintain my grades and to excel in sports. It wasn't easy, but it was well worth it." No stranger to recognition, Latika Cooper has also won the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Award for being the top female student with the highest grade point average in her school.

Principal of Faith Temple Christian Academy, Daniel Simmons noted, "We are all extremely proud of Latika's accomplishments. We always encourage our students to do their utmost best and we are pleased when those efforts are rewarded not only by our institution, but on a national level." Producing students with strong academic backgrounds as well as sound Christian morals is the goal of Faith Temple Christian Academy.

Latika plans to pursue a college education when she graduates in June, majoring in Spanish and Computer Engineering.

Minister opens 'Junkanoo in June

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe, charged on Saturday that the tourism competition among islands in the Caribbean is steep, and it is the responsibility of all Bahamians to ensure that the Bahamian tourism product is, and remains the best product in the entire world.

"The entire Caribbean is after what has made the Bahamas an outstanding destination. We can appreciate that throughout the world, but efforts are being made by countries around the region, such as Cuba, Mexico and others to attract visitors to their shores," said the tourism minister.

Wilchcombe was speaking on Saturday at the opening of the third annual Junkanoo in June festival on Arawak Cay.

According to Wilchcombe, the entire world is searching for more tourism.

He spoke about a recent business trip to New York where he talked with colleagues from different islands in the Caribbean and various countries around the world. He said finding ways to better the tourism product was most common among their conversations.

Wilchcombe noted that the door is open for the world to come inside to see what The Bahamas has to offer, but Bahamians need to firstly appreciate what the Bahamas has to offer to the world.

"It will be my obligation over the next several weeks and months, to invite all Bahamians to participate in our effort to make tourism number one and remain number one, not only in The Bahamas, but certainly in the World. We want the world to know that it is better in The Bahamas and that it keeps getting better in The Bahamas," said Wilchcombe.

The Bahamas is our land and we should share it with the world," he said, but Bahamians must realize that if we want the world to enjoy our tourism product, they must have the right attitude.

"We must ensure that our country is clean, and we must ensure that we give the best of ourselves and the best of our nation," Wilchcombe said, and that it is his mandate to ensure that entertainment and the Bahamian people are the centerpiece of the tourism experience.

"How can one come to The Bahamas if you cannot feel the spirit of Bahamians, through our music and works of art," asked Wilchcombe. " We want people to feel The Bahamas because we know, the region knows, and the world knows, that there are no better people in the world than Bahamians," he said.

Wilchcombe urged the development of similar festivals like Junkanoo in June on other islands of The Bahamas and also called for the re-establishment of the Goombay festival that was held weekly in the Summer months on Bay Street.

"We can have these festivals again, in Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and all throughout The Bahamas," he said, noting that the Junkanoo in June festival is an event for all Bahamians as well as for all tourists. He said the festival is an opportunity to bring all together to understand and appreciate the "true" aspects of Bahamian culture.

The Junkanoo in June festival is an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism and various sponsors. The festival began three years ago on Arawak Cay, and is known to attract locals and hundreds of tourists during the month of June.

The main highlight of Saturday's festival was the 50-member Junkanoo rush out, followed with musical performances by Nita, the Spank Band, Sweet Emily and Therez Hepburn.

The cultural festival was also highlighted with various stalls that offered all types of Bahamian food.

The festival will be held for the next four Saturdays in June. It was announced by The Bahamas Omni Bus Operators Association on Friday that Jitney Service will be extended in selected areas during the weekends of June, to accommodate residents and visitors wishing to attend the festival.

Reality Check

For a long time some Bahamians have held personally to the attitude that Bahamasair is their airline and they could do with it as they wish. When they travel to Florida on shopping trips they try to bring all that they buy on the flight with them, regardless to the airline's limits.

Many are the arguments that occur between those "disgruntled" passengers and the counter agents at the Florida airports because the insistent Bahamians are quick to respond that it is the people's airline and the people are entitled to do as they please.

Up to now they have largely gotten away with it while the airline has plunged the Bahamian people deeper and deeper into debt. But their thinking may well now have cause to be altered, hastened with the arrest of the man last week who irresponsibility decided to let loose with the information that his bag contained a bomb.

Well, for obvious reasons he did not make that flight home -- which was delayed more than two hours as the aircraft was searched -- and he might not be coming home for a long time if the American laws and penalties are applied.

The penalty for what that Bahamian, in the heat of the moment, thought to be a "smart Alex" wisecrack could turn out to be the most costly and stupid remark he has ever made in his young life. It could take 15 years before he returns home from his weekend shopping trip, before he is again free to be with family and friends. And perhaps by then he would have learned that it is unwise to create an unnecessary stir by shouting epithets that could lead to the belief that lives are in danger.

This should also be a lesson to all those persons travelling on the national airline who believe that because Bahamasair is subsidised with their tax money from the Public Treasury, they can do and say what ever they want to. That is not so and the sooner they accept the realisation, the better it will be for all concerned.

Hurricanes and seat belts

Two important events take place in this country today for which everyone should be prepared. On the one hand, the 2002 Hurricane Season gets underway and the wise people in these islands should not be waiting for the Meteorological Department to tell them what to do. They remember Michelle last year and the destruction caused by its passage, particularly through Andros, New Providence and Grand Bahama.

Hurricane Floyd of 1999 is also readily called to mind and even Andrew of a decade ago is still fresh in the mind of many. The season itself only last for six months, until Nov. 30, but the awareness of what havoc can be wrought by a visit should be ongoing and not be left for consideration until June 1.

And then there is the seat belt law that comes into effect today. Apart from the hefty fines that could serve as an incentive to buckle up, the adherence to the law could act as a life saver in the event of accidents. Since the legislation was passed by Parliament in January, the public has had six months to get into the habit of buckling up. If that was not sufficient time, the Treasury will be the richer. But if the message got through, the death toll on the streets should register a marked decrease.

Sir Orville Receives Honorary Doctorate

Former Governor General Sir Orville Turnquest continues his trailblazing career with an Honarary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree from Sojourner-Douglass College of Maryland.

Sir Orville received the degree during the college's 2002 graduation ceremony held on Sunday May 26, at which he was the featured speaker.

He received the award in recognition of his contributions to the development and expansion of national and international relations.

The degree was conferred on him by president and founder of Sojourner Douglass College, Dr Charles Simmons, on behalf of the school's Board of Directors.

During his tenure as Governor General, Sir Orville has, on four previous occasion, been presented with equally prestigious awards by international academic institutions.

In 1998, he received an honorary doctorate from Elmira College in New York, and in 2000, the University of the West Indies presented him with a Doctor of Laws degree during commencement exercises at the Mona campus in Jamaica.

He was made an Honorary Bencher of Lincoln's Inn, London and in that same year, Sir Orville was named an Honorary President of Nova University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which also hosts a campus in The Bahamas.

Beginning his private practice in 1953 as counsel and attorney and notary public, Sir Orville was senior partner in the law firm of Dupuch and Turnquest until his appointment as a Cabinet Minister in August, 1992.

He is a Queen's Counsel and Justice of the Peace.

In his legal career, Sir Orville also served as a Stipendiary and Circuit Magistrate, and as Coroner (1959).

He was the president of The Bahamas Bar Association and Chairman of The Bahamas Bar Council (1970-1972).

He was also part-time lecturer of law in the Bahamas Extra-mural Department of the University of the West Indies.

Sir Orville also served as a Member of the Bahamas Law Revision Committee and law tutor and member of the Examining Board for Admissions to The Bahamas Bar (1965-1992).

Venturing into front-line politics, he served as Secretary General of the Progressive Liberal Party from 1960 to1962 and was a Member of Parliament for the South Central constituency of New Providence from 1962 to 1967.

He was a delegate at the Bahamas Constitutional Conferences in 1963 and 1972, and a Bahamian delegate at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference, held in New Delhi in 1976.

He was also an Observer at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference which was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 1983.

He later became leader of the Opposition Free National Movement (FNM) in the Senate in 1972 to 1979, and also Chairman and Treasurer of the FNM.

Sir Orville later became Deputy Leader of the FNM from 1987 to1994 and served as Member of Parliament for Montagu from 1982 to 1994.

He was also President of the 38th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference, held in Nassau in 1992.

Following the August 19, 1992 General Elections, Sir Orville served as Attorney General, Minister of Justice, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister.

He resigned from active politics in November 1994, and on January 3, 1965 he was sworn in as Governor General.

Upon assuming office as Governor General, Sir Orville was conferred with the honour of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (G.C.M.G.) by Her Majesty The Queen.

He is married to the former Edith Thompson and the couple has three children.

Revamping of public service proves an opportunity

The huge financial burden left by the former Free National Movement Government presents an opportunity not an obstacle for the new Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) to revamp the public service challenged Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell.

The former Senator and Fox Hill Member of Parliament was presenting his first communication in the House of Assembly since being elected to parliament nearly one month ago.

The House met for the first time Monday to thank the Governor General for her gracious Speech from the Throne at the opening of Parliament last week Wednesday.

Minister Mitchell said that there has to be a change in the image of the public service and they must be judged by its ability to act in a politically neutral manner.

He said that everyone involved should have an understanding of the direction that it ought to take.

Mitchell said however, the image of the public service as a place where people go to work, takes precedence over change in the mindset of personnel.

To many people think that going into the public service means that they can diminish their efforts on the job he said.

"Many people who ask for jobs came already working but they said, 'I want a government job instead.' That's fine except, that it must not be because you want to be in a place where little work is expected because the public service demands hard work," Mitchell said.

He alluded to the records within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where many hours of overtime work has not been compensated.

"Look at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They have been called to do a job which the entire State Department of the United States, which has thousands of employees, are doing," he said.

The productivity in public service has been affected by a number of factors as well said Mitchell.

He said that the Government Ministries and Departments do not have properly developed Personnel and Human Resources Departments.

With the establishment of a properly revamped Human Resources Department of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, this he said, should have been replicated throughout the various governmental system.

"Human Resources Departments are just not about filling out application forms. It's about ensuring that policies and procedures are there so everyone understands how to work in the system, what the rules are and is there a path for promotion, and to take care of persons physical and mental well being," he said.

Another factor for the lack of productivity said Mitchell, is that the manuals for procedure and rules of the service are outdated and inappropriate for the present models of personnel management.

"The personnel management style of the public service is too "I-centric.' It is too heavily tilted toward the top and not collinear enough. And the management style has changed since they were put in place in 1968," he said.

The disciplinary procedures are also too slow and there is a lack of proper due process in the hearing of complaints he said.

Bearing reference to a case within his private practice regarding prison officers on half pay, some cases lasted some four years said Mitchell.

"They cannot work. By the rules they can't work but they can't make it off their half pay either. So they are forced to work in order to make ends meet and no matter how many times you write and you write and you call, the matter simply can't get resolved. So their family life is often destroyed because this is wrong and must be corrected in the course of service," he said.

The process of being hired, transferred or promoted need much to be desired said Mitchell. Adding that there are a number of week to week temporary workers who have not established permanency in their jobs.

He also noted that the physical structure, and the environment of some of the public need restructuring.

Noting these various problems within the public service, he said that this creates a great challenge for the new Government in light of the tremendous financial burden left by the former government.

However, he said that these issues are not regarded as obstacles, but rather, as a door of an opportunity.

si/Rusty Bethel-Veteran Journalist

Bahamian journalists, everywhere owes a debt of gratitude to the late Harcourt "Rusty" Bethel.

This, according to the Honourable Obie Wilchcombe, Minister of Tourism. Wilchcombe, a former opposition Senator, in a press release said Bahamians old enough fondly recall the authoritative yet comforting voice of Bethel. Bethel was the first manager of the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas. Wilchcombe fondly recalled Bethel's familiar and unmistakable tone, and his assuring and passionate delivery of the news which made Bahamians proud. He reflected on Bethel professionalism which causes every journalist to take pride in and strive for excellence in their profession.

"If we call ourselves professionals, and if we try to be honest and accurate and objective then we are all his sons and daughters. His objectivity and accuracy was never questioned, he never had to come back to apologize for a misquote or an omission," Wilchcombe said.

He praised Bethel for providing a shining professional, examples in the way he wrote and read the news. Wilchcombe said that all journalists ought to follow and practice the examples set by Bethel in their craft.

"He was a friend to all he met and will continue to live in the hearts of all Bahamians who are old enough to remember his voice. He will be particularly revered by those who seek to follow his craft, his dedication and his obvious love of country and people," Wilchcombe said.

He credited Bethel's clarion voice, which came from the Zenith Nassau Station with being the one unifying force for a nation in the time before cell phones, satellite television and the internet. Wilchcombe said many Bahamian house wives fondly recall hearing Bethel's voice which told them that "If its okay flour, its okay."

"Robin Hood flour is still the most popular brand of flour used in The Bahamas today," he said.

Wilchcombe said Bethel will be grately missed.

Man Accused Of Drug Possession On $10,000 Bail

In matters before the drug court, Quinton Kerr of Soldier Road appeared before Magistrate Carolita Bethel on a charge of possession of dangerous drugs with the intent to supply.

The 19-year-old is alleged to have possessed four grams of marijuana on March 20 while at Paradise Island.

He pleaded not guilty and received $10,000 bail. He was also required to report to Central Police Station every Tuesday and Saturday before 6 p.m. The case was adjourned to October 28.

In the same court, Shawn McKenzie, 26, of East Street and Tiffany Johnson, 25 also known as Tiffany Smith of Yellow Elder Gardens were also charged with possession of dangerous drugs with the intent to supply.

Police said that the pair possessed six and a quarter ounces of marijuana on May 21. The pair received $10,000 bail and pleaded not guilty to the charge. A part of the bail requirement was that they report to Central Police Station every Tuesday and Saturday before 6 p.m.

The defendants will return to court on October 31.

Inspector Gregory Johnson prosecuted.

Kenton Thurston, 33, appeared before Magistrate Susan Sylvester and pleaded not guilty to a charge of hawking.

It is alleged that the Joan's Height resident on May 21, at Woodes Rodgers Wharf and Frederick Street sold or exposed for sale cigars without first obtaining a permit from the Commissioner of Police.

Thurston received $300 bail and the case was adjourned to October 28.

Wanted Man

Pinder is considered by police to be armed and dangerous.

He is wanted for the armed robberies of Supervalue in Winton on March 7 at about 8:30 p.m. and of Esso Service Station, JFK Drive on the February 19, at about 7:30 p.m.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Pinder can contact CDU at 322-2561-3, Crime Tipsters at 328-8477 or the Police Control Room at 919.

Larry Gibson COB inductee

The College of The Bahamas Alumni Association announced yesterday that Colina Financial Advisors' Larry Gibson is the most recent alumni to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The official induction ceremony is slated for June 14 at the Nassau Marriott Hotel, Cable Beach. Proceeds from the event will go towards the college's endowment fund.

New code of ethics for public servants

An Integrity in Public Life Bill to govern the Public Service, including Members of Parliament is up for debate in the next working session of the newly-elected House of Assembly.

The measure was tabled in Parliament by Prime Minister Perry Christie, after it was foreshadowed by Governor-General Dame Ivy Dumont in the Speech from the Throne during the official opening of Parliament.

"My Government is committed to integrity in public life," Dame Ivy said.

In this vein, she stated that the Progressive Liberal Party Government has adopted the "strictest" Code of Ethics for Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.

This new thrust, she said, would be enshrined in a formal communication to Parliament at the first working session of the House of Assembly and will be shared with the general public.

In addition to the new Code of Ethics, she said, "My Government will introduce a Bill for an Integrity in Public Life Act, to govern all Parliamentarians, heads of Government Boards and senior civil servants.

"This legislation will be designed to induce higher levels of accountability and transparency so as to discourage corruption and ethical impropriety in public life," Dame Ivy said.

Other new measures to be introduced in the House of Assembly, is a Time-sharing Encouragement Act to stimulate the expansion of this segment of the tourism market by providing tax relief and other concessions similar to those that are available to hotels under the Hotels Encouragement Act.

"My Government also proposes to create tourism development zones to revive dying urban neighbourhoods and family island settlements by granting loan assistance and tax relief for the renovation of homes and other buildings intended for use as guest-cottages; and by providing start-up loans for new business ventures of touristic appeal in these zones," Dame Ivy said.

Another major tourism-related initiative of the Government, under the aegis of the Ministry of Trade & Industry, will be the creation and expansion of local handicraft enterprises with the aim of increasing tourism expenditure on local handicrafts.

Also to be introduced in this legislative session are a new Pensions Act, to repeal the Insurance Act 1969 and replace it with an Act to facilitate the growth and development of a well-regulated, vibrant domestic insurance sector.

"Legislation will be placed before you for a new Act to meet this need," Dame Ivy said.

Junkanoo at Regatta

Jr. parade highlights opening ceremonies

Released Wednesday, by Sheldon Langley

Junkanoo at Regatta


NG Sports Reporter

Salt Pond, LONG ISLAND - Nothing kicks off regatta time like a good junkanoo rush out and that's exactly what those attending the 35th Annual Long Island Regatta were treated to during the opening ceremonies in Salt Pond Friday.

Immediately after island administrator Jordan Ritchie officially opened the regatta, hundreds of young boys and girls from five primary schools participated in the junior junkanoo rush out which according to national jr. junkanoo coordinator Percy 'Vola' Francis, has grown in "leaps and bounds" since first being introduced six years ago.

"When we first came down here in 1996, there wasn't a cowbell or a drum to be found," Francis said. "We went to search for the junkanooers that we know of and we began to revive junkanoo here in Long Island."

Renowned Saxons Superstar leader Francis said that the rapid development of jr. junkanoo in Long Island can be directly attributed to the work of Police Constable Alphonso 'Chicken' Albury, a member of the Music Makers junkanoo group.

"Chicken went into the schools and convinced the principals that junkanoo is very vibrant and is a discipline that is necessary in the building of our youth. Since that time the jr. junkanoo parade here in Long Island has improved tremendously," said Francis.

"The parades started to grow and it's truly a delight to see where it is at today because we have to start with the kids. You can see the excitement and the exuberation in the kids. Their costumes were immaculate and they performed very well," he added.

Children from Mangrove Bush Primary, Lower's Deadman's Cay Primary, Simms Primary, Glinton's Primary and Morrisville Primary all rushed and danced around the regatta site for two laps in a tireless effort to claim the top prize for their school.

When it was all over, Mangrove Bush Primary emerged the winner for the second consecutive year while also taking the Best Banner category. Mangrove Bush accumulated 478 points.

Glinton's Primary finished second with 405 points and also took the Best Music award. Simms finished third with 390 points followed by Lower Deadman's with 378 and Morrisville with 312.

Seven year-old Dominic Turnquest Jr. from Lower Deadman's Cay Primary was just one of the many youngsters in the parade. The third grade l'il drummer adorned in a pineapple headpiece and a watermelon skirt said that he felt good rushing and was just happy his mother was watching him.

"It is important that we keep this jr. junkanoo programme going because that is the feeder system for the growth and the development of junkanoo for years to come," Francis said.

"What I would like to see is the provision of junkanoo workouts in most of the schools throughout the Bahamas and of course, junkanoo becoming a part of the school curriculum."

With so much progress being made in six short years one can only wonder the height where the parade will reach in another six years. The national cultural event of the Bahamas is definitely on the move in Long Island and has become vastly popular among Long Islanders.

"What is so spectacular is that this tremendous work has mainly been done by the children. We try to assist as best as we can in providing the necessary materials for the development of this entity of junkanoo," said Francis.

"We encourage this kind of programme throughout the Commonwealth of the Bahamas so that we can have this entertaining aspect of junkanoo in all the homecomings and regattas," he added.

Murder count at 24

The murder of a 17-year-old Mt Royal Avenue Haitian-Bahamian resident on Saturday hiked the country's murder count for the year to 24.

Superintendent Marvin Dames, Officer-in-charge, Central Detective Unit, said that around 1:05 a.m. Saturday, the victim, Jerry Raphael, along with some friends were at a Haitian dance located on Wulff Road, just opposite Union Village, when he was approached by two masked men.

One of the men was armed with a shot gun. Raphael and his friends, who were on the outside of the establishment, were then ordered to go inside, Dames said.

A single gunshot was fired shortly thereafter, and the masked men fled, along with other persons in the area.

The police were called to the scene, and they found Raphael lying down on the ground suffering from a gunshot wound to the left side, Dames reported.

An Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team which was summoned, pronounced Raphael dead at the scene.

"We are currently investigating the matter and we can say for certain that robbery was not the motive. We are trying to determine exactly what the motive is," Dames said.

He said that police are following several significant leads.

Minister Of Agriculture Alfred Gray

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Local Government has pledged to formulate a five year agricultural development plan in a joint public/private sector partnership in order to achieve to the greatest extent possible, self sufficiency in the area of agricultural and livestock production.

This according to newly appointed Minister Alfred Gray, who disclosed Wednesday night that there is a limited production of food and livestock in New Providence. However, he said the Government will seek to develop programs and strategies which will increase agricultural production both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Addressing questions and concerns of a group of farmers in the auditorium of the S. C. McPherson School, Gray advised that the government is committed to the creation, encouragement and development of agri-business which will be facilitated in great measure having regard only to financial limitations.

In addition, he said the Department of Agriculture, will be reorganized so that farmers and others interested in agri-businesses could take full advantage and make effective use of the technical and financial resources which will be made available for the asking limited only by available resources.

"On the island of New Providence, the government hopes as a policy, to encourage farmers not to become involved in every aspect of agriculture or the agri-business since it is clear that certain agricultural products or agri-businesses are best suited for the Family Islands, and that's where we hope those of you involved will expand to those Family Islands." Gray said.

He highlighted the fact that there is a greater degree of space available and the soil content in most of the Family Islands are better than it is in New Providence.

He underscored that the agricultural commodities that the PLP Government hopes to target are: poultry, mutton, pork, bananas, pineapples, tomatoes, pigeon peas, onions, cucumbers and the like. Additionally, farmers will be encouraged to expand participation beyond production to include proper grading, packaging and marketing in order to achieve the greatest possible return on their investments.

For example, Gray noted that onions are currently being harvested in large quantities in The Bahamas, however, they are presently being shipped to the Produce Exchange, wholesalers and retailers, in 50 pound bags. He said if on the other hand, farmers were able and willing to package the same onions into "consumer ready" packages (i.e. three and five pound bags) they could almost double the returns they presently received.

To this end, Gray added that the Ministry will encourage the formation of farmer groups or associations in order to pool their collective resources so that they could achieve together and in partnership, what would be impossible working individually.

But, Gray noted that special opportunities presently exist in New Providence for the production of highly perishable and highly priced items such as broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, sweet corn and herbs. He pointed out that these crops do not require large acreage for production, but would need to get to market, in the swiftest possible time after harvesting.

"I therefore encourage each of you to seriously consider the aggressive production of some, if not all of these items which are presently in great demand by the Bahamian public and indeed the tourism industry," he said.

Gray stressed his government's commitment to improving research facilities and to the establishment of farmer training programmes. The government is also committed to the rejuvenation of agricultural sector, as this sector is very critical to the government's policy of the diversification of the Bahamian economy.

"A vibrant and progressive agricultural sector is fundamental to our food security capability and it is equally an important ingredient in the maintenance of our environment, as we go forward in the years ahead," he said.

Miss BahamasUniverse Making International Headlines

Nadia Rodgers-Albury, is creating waves and headlines in the international media.

Rodgers-Albury, who is presently in San Juan, Puerto Rico, preparing for the May 29 pageant, made front-page in the popular Puerto Rican daily newspaper, El Vocero, last weekend.

"I feel very excited and honoured to have been highlighted on the front page of one of the leading newspapers in Puerto Rico," Rodgers-Albury told The Guardian.

She said the schedule in Puerto Rico has been, "rigid intense, but interesting", adding that the delegates from the other countries were extremely friendly.

Rodgers-Albury said she was confident about doing well at the pageant, noting that it is her intention to bring the crown home for The Bahamas.

"My chances are as good as any of the other delegates," she said. "I will continue to be a proud ambassador for my country, The Bahamas, and to do my very best in this pageant."

Over the past few days, Rodgers-Albury has been busy rehearsing for the finale on May 29, doing several photo-shoots and dance rehearsals.

Meantime, Rodgers-Albury has also been featured on the cover of the next edition of the popular women's magazine, SHE Caribbean.

In an advance copy of the magazine obtained by The Guardian, she said: "Our (Bahamian) women are now gaining recognition internationally and I feel we can now venture into the arena of beauty and also gain success there."

House opening plans override Clifton Cay matter - Bethel

While Clifton Cay is an important issue, the government's immediate focus is on budgetary provisions and the state of the economy, said Dr Marcus Bethel, Minister of Health and Environmental Services.

In a telephone interview, with The Guardian Dr Bethel said that as outlined in its platform, the PLP is committed to "transforming" Clifton Cay into a historical, cultural and environmental site for both locals and visitors alike.

This, he said, would have to be done within the context of the government's budgetary provisions.

"While we have just assumed our various offices, Clifton Cay is, and remains, an important issue for the public because of the contentious position it held in the past. So it is an important issue; it is not on the back burner. The government, at this time is concerned with addressing the state of the economy, and getting the economy together for our first 30 days and the opening of the House of Assembly," said Dr Bethel.

Clifton Cay is located in the southwestern section of New Providence.

Since 1999, the Coalition to Save Clifton Cay has agitated for the previous government to cease and desist in securing the development of the former slave plantation.

The entire issue has resulted in heated social debate between the need for investment dollars and the conservation and protection of green spaces.

The former, Free National Movement government was considering selling the land to foreign investors and developers - Chaffin Light and Associates - who were intent on building a gated community.

Bethel said for the next several days and weeks the government's number one priority will be evaluating the economy and setting priorities.

"Spinning out of that will be the state of the Treasury and the economy," he said.

Dr Bethel said the Clifton Cay matter is actually in the portfolio of Prime Minister Perry Christie; however he noted, the PLP hopes to preserve Clifton Cay as a historical, cultural and touristic site.

As the new Minister of Health and Environmental Services, he said, he spent the day familiarizing himself with staff members and his duties and responsibilities.

"So we must first find the budgetary provisions for the various ministries, because we can't run the government without funds," he said.

Rev C B Moss, Chairman of the Coalition to Save Clifton Cay, expressed his satisfaction with the recent general elections. He said he was pleased with the PLP's planned intention to transform Clifton Cay into a National Park, as outlined in its five year plan.

"Now that the PLP is the government, we eagerly look forward to firstly, the return of the property to ownership by the Bahamian people, followed by concrete plans for the great transformation of this environmentally, culturally and historically rich site into a priceless heritage park," Rev Moss said.

Pratt Launches Computer Classes For Constituents

Deputy Prime Minister Cynthia "Mother" Pratt yesterday encouraged her St Cecilia constituents to take full advantage of free computer classes being made available to them.

"This afternoon, I am delighted to be a part of this programme. I am glad to see that you have taken advantage of what is being offered, we are grateful to Mr Cleare and Mrs Robinson who have donated their time free of charge," Pratt, who is also Minister of National Security, told the approximately 45 women and five men who packed into the upper level of her two-story election headquarters, located on Market Street.

"Mother" Pratt made history when she became the country's first female Deputy Prime Minister, after the Progressive Liberal Party won the 2002 general elections in a landslide victory on May 2. Advising her attentive constituents that the computers were donated by the United States Embassy, she said: "I want you to know that I am working. You have elected me to represent you, and I am working. OK! I'm not just sitting down, as you noticed. I want you to know that I will not be here as much as I would like, because you do know that I have other responsibilities now, but I will not forsake you. The programmes will continue, and I am sure you don't mind, as long as the programmes continue. I can go and do other people's business, as it is my job to do the country's business."

Press members met a beehive of activity outside Minister Pratt's constituency headquarters as close to 100 constituents lined up outside, to speak to their re-elected parliamentary representative who normally meet with her between 6 and 10 p.m.

DPM Pratt assured her supportive constituents that although she may not always be there in person, their instructors would carry on the computer programmes.

"Our programmes will continue," she confirmed. "Of course you know there is an Adult Reading Programme on Wednesday of next week. Persons have registered for that. Those classes will begin; they are all free of charge. If you need help, people, come and get help while it's there. You don't ever feel ashamed if you can't read. Well Praise God somebody wants to teach you, take advantage of it. We don't get the same opportunities at the same time, but Praise God when it comes, take advantage."

Telling her constituents that she is focused on improving their lives, DPM Pratt said she is also thinking of other programmes such as Mathematics.

"We want to bring in someone to help you with both Math and English," she said, as it was

her goal for St Cecilia to become a model for all constituencies.

Said Minister Pratt: "I want this constituency to come to the point that when Mother Pratt decides to bow out, whoever comes after me, once I come to you and say, 'Support so and so', you could trust my word. You see that's what I want, it will be a family."

DPM Pratt said that when she retires from public life, she hopes to eventually purchase the building which houses her constituency headquarters and turn it into a half-way house, so that it will belong to the community and people of St Cecilia.

Minister Pratt said she wants to foster and encourage an attitude of caring and concern for one's neighbour.

Doan Cleare, computer instructor, said the computer classes will be on an Excel programme on Tuesdays at 7p.m., and MS Word on Thursdays at 7 p.m.

He said the classes are geared toward persons who have no previous computer experience, starting at the basic entry level.

Cleare said he hopes to have 30 persons a class, which will cover a three-month period.

Waste disposal site being improved, says Minister

Recently appointed Minister of Health and Environment, Dr. Marcus Bethel, said "on-going" developments of the physical plant resources at the Harrold Road garbage facility, which are expected to take place in just a few months, will "tremendously" enhance its operations.

"Money is presently being spent on the Harrold Road garbage facility for its improvement. This will increase morale and give workers the assurance that the government is trying to provide for their care and look after their concerns in a meaningful and tangible way," he said.

The Health and Environment Minister was speaking yesterday at the Baillou Hill Road garbage depot, only minutes after making a prior stop to the Harrold Road garbage facility, where he revealed that his inspection of the site has been one of "enlightenment."

"I was very impressed with the professionalism and quality of work being done out there. There may be some ongoing minor concerns, but in its totality, it's functioning very well," he said.

Dr. Bethel said that workers at the Harrold Road dumpsite facility will be impressed with the facilities that are being established, and he can only have high praises for those professionals and managers in the Ministry of Health departments.

According to Dr. Bethel, he will leave no stone unturned when it comes to health workers receiving all the resources that they need to further protect the environment of The Bahamas.

"It is most impressive, heart-warming and confidence-building for me to have so many well-trained individuals who know their job and are really doing the very best with the resources that they have. I am indeed grateful to them and will do all in my power to see that they get what they need to maintain the health of this nation," he said.

Minister Bethel said there is always a need for resources in the health field, be it technical or human, adding that his Ministry needs to ensure that initiatives are put in place to ensure that the job mandate of health workers is carried out.

"I have not taken inventory yet of all the resources that are needed, but I will be insuring that human, technical and other resources are put in place to ensure that the job is well done," he said.

The Health Minister added that he has not met with any workers to listen to their demands, but he wants to assure them that he will be around to ensure that their demands are met.

Dr. Bethel said that his examination of the Baillou Hill Road garbage facility was one of the first priorities on his agenda because the facility concerns itself with the basic health care of the environment. Having worked in the health field for more than 27 years as a health practitioner,

he was very pleased about his involvement in the Ministry of Health, he noted.

"Since being appointed Minister of Health," Dr. Bethel said, "I am most impressed with the high quality and caliber of professionals that comprise the Ministry."

Nigerian Bank Scam

The hard and fast rule when dealing with the Nigerian Bank Account Scam is to ignore it.

This according to a Barclay's Bank official, who spoke under condition of anononimity.

In a telephone interview with the Nassau Guardian, the bank official said because of incidents in the past the wider public is aware and because of recent changes in the banking industry, all banks are aware of the Central Bank's hard and fast rule on the Nigerian Scam.

The scam was this week brought to the attention of Nassau Guardian editor Tony Capron, who received three e-mails, soliciting support to repatriate millions of dollars out of Africa.

The e-mails were sent by persons purporting to be officers in various capacities in Nigerian banks, and one person claiming to be a senator, with all claiming to have access to substantial sums of money. They all sought a conduit through which to channel the money out of Nigeria.

Purported lawyer and company secretary Okeoma Williams, of Union Bank of Nigeria told of US $30 million that belongs to a foreign engineer and oil merchant who died in an aircraft, who left no named next-of-kin, to claim as a beneficiary.

Williams asked Mr. Capron to act as the beneficiary to prevent the funds being declared "unclaimed" and donated to the ECOMOG soldiers to "further perpetuate war in Africa."

The other letters were similar with a Mr. Tanko Ahmed claiming to be the manager of Africa Development Bank and having access to US$20 million, deposited by "Mr. Smith Tony" who died in a serious car crash. The senator, Dr Michael Ogene, claimed to have US$28 million.

The bank representative told The Guardian that if the lawyer (and the others) claim to have all that money all they would have to do is purchase plane tickets and come to The Bahamas or the United States and go to a bank and go through official channels.

The representative said if the sum of money is as much as $30 million, no bank would receive a phone call or a fax. She said the company or family lawyer would pay a personal visit to the bank's offshore branch where he or she would present documentation, fill out forms and follow through on matters of compliance before any bank can even consider receiving or sending money.

She explained that there are several strictly enforced check points one must pass through such as Banking Referrals and Certificates of Good Standing that must be dealt with. The Barclay's Bank representative said the rule of ignoring the Nigerian scam is a good one because normally the bank is asked to deal with existing accounts, which already contain funds.

Secondly she said because of the hard and fast "ignore it" rule, banks could be fined for not calling it to the attention of the Financial Intelligence Unit.

The bank representative explained that the fine is levied because it is considered an inconvenience to the FIU and the Police Force's Commercial Crime section because of their already heavy works loads.

US Donates Computers To The St. Cecilia Programme

Re-elected for a second term to further serve the people of the St. Cecilia constituency, Cynthia "Mother" Pratt has already undertaken the task of ensuring that the adults become computer literate.

And, with the donation of 10 new computers from the United States Embassy, it is expected that the community's first Adult Education Center will stand out as a beacon and inspiration for those willing to follow.

During the handing over ceremony at the St. Cecilia Market Street headquarters yesterday, American Ambassador J. Richard Blankenship underscored the importance of computer literacy, which he deemed an "absolute necessity" in the modern workplace.

"Increasingly, even the most common jobs require computer literacy," he said. "You can't learn how to use a computer unless you have one you can work on and experiment with. Well, now the people of St. Cecilia will have ten."

Classes began at the center on May 1, the eve of general elections. And, already 113 persons have registered for classes, which comprise those not only those in the St. Cecilia constituency, but those from as far as South Beach.

The center is a part of a dream of "Mother" Pratt, the country's first woman Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security.

"It gives me great pleasure to be able to collaborate with Mother Pratt on this worthy project. She is an institution in this neighbourhood, well known for her concern and compassion for the people. I guess that's why they re-elected her by such a huge majority," he said.

Community service is very important to Blankenship, as it is to Pratt. He said it is exactly the type of community involvement that is needed, not just in St. Cecilia and The Bahamas, but throughout the world.

"We are called to get involved, and to make a difference in our communities. The needs are all around us. We just need to open our eyes to see them, and then open our hearts to take action on them, and then, in some cases, open our wallets to pay for what needs doing," Blankenship asserted.

He added the donated computers would aid in that mission.

Accepting, Pratt thanked the American Ambassador on behalf of the people.

"When I spoke to you the other day, I knew something would happen but I didn't think it would happen this quickly. Our people, particularly in St. Cecilia need a lot of help. There are many of them hungry for education, particularly in computers," Pratt said.

"Our purpose here is to try and teach our people how to fish and not to give them a fish because they would come back tomorrow for another one," she stressed. "But if we teach them how to fish, then they can have food for a lifetime."

It is Mother Pratt's dream to develop programmes in the area that would impact on lives to make a difference, in particular the urban areas.

"And because of the donation of these computers it will go a long way in making this a success," she said.

However, she informed that the Center faced a problem in the protection of the computers.

Several weeks ago, the building was engulfed by flames and the ceiling was destroyed. Today, the ceiling is still undergoing repairs and it is hoped that security bars would be installed within the next couple of days.

In the coming weeks, Ambassador Blankenship will tour the community of St. Cecilia in the hope of providing further assistance to area residents.

Ingraham says good-bye

In his final moments as Prime Minister, Hubert Ingraham bade farewell to Governor-General Dame Ivy Dumont in a special courtesy call on Friday.

At about 1 p.m. Dame Ivy, in the Receiving Room of Government House, deemed it a special occasion that it was time for Prime Minister Ingraham to say goodbye to the people of The Bahamas.

Half an hour later, Dame Ivy welcomed Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Perry Christie. And after 6 p.m., she officially installed Christie as the third Prime Minister of The Bahamas during ceremonies at Government House.

Dame Ivy said that while in office, Prime Minister Ingraham committed himself to The Bahamas and "we know that he will continue to commit himself to working for Bahamians."

Ingraham said that he "thoroughly" enjoyed himself while in office and he thanked the Bahamian people for the opportunity to serve.

"I served honestly and faithfully and I worked hard," Ingraham said. "Thank you and good bye."

Ingraham left office Friday after 10 years as Prime Minister and leader of the Free National Movement.

During General Elections on Thursday, the FNM was ousted from power when an estimated 144,000 voters returned the PLP as Government.

As to the immediate installation of Christie as Prime Minister, Ingraham said he arranged for that transformation forthwith. He noted that upon his election to power following the August 19, 1992, he was not sworn in until the 26 of that month.

"We have organized a transition for a new Prime Minister, Mr. Christie will find a report from all Ministries of Government outlined with projects in the works so as soon as we can, in a very short time, hit the ground running," Ingraham said.

To the question as to whether he was surprised by the FNM's defeat, Ingraham said he was. He also reiterated that he was not interested in the FNM leadership and that the leader, Tommy Turnquest, though he lost is Mt. Moriah seat, would have to deal with that.

As to the FNM losing the MICAL seat in a recount, Ingraham said that did not bother him. "Whatever the results are, we are going to live with it."

He then added: "When we are rich, we don't squander. When we are poor, we don't cry."

Continued Ingraham: "We have very rich in political power in The Bahamas. We've had 35 out of 40 seats and we have been the only political party to have all 16 seats in the Family Islands at the same time.

"We are now poor in political power. We now have only one seat in New Providence and five, six, seven, depending on how you count it in the Family Islands."

But according to Ingraham, numbers are not important to him.

"I can do a job with many men," he said.

On the question of his immediate plans, Ingraham, an attorney who once shared law offices with Christie said he would take time of to relax.

Swearing In

Resolutely pledging integrity, competence and devotion to service and to duty, Progressive Liberal Party Leader, Perry Gladstone Christie took the oath of office of Prime Minister of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas yesterday evening.

In a Government House ceremony filled with pomp and pageantry, attended by a wide cross-section of Bahamians, including newly elected representatives, and presided over by Governor General Dame Ivy Dumont, Christie said his singular mission "is to help build a peaceful, prosperous and just society for all our people".

Prime Minister Christie said: "I am mindful that I have now assumed the full weight of responsibility for the stewardship of our nation.

"This is at once the highest of honours and the most onerous of challenges. But it is a challenge that I accept with a strong heart and a firm resolve. It is a challenge from which I shall not shirk. Instead, I shall serve all the people of The Bahamas to the very best of my ability."

Christie also said he would spare no effort in proving himself "worthy of the confidence and trust" which the young electorate generously placed in him and the PLP party.

"I will not let them down," Christie vowed.

One of the most poignant moments of the ceremony was when an emotional Christie reflected on the upbringing of his parents, particularly his mother, who he said modeled him into the individual that he now is.

Wishing that his mother was there to share in the special moment, Christie honored her as " the lady who fashioned my values and nurtured what I regard as a very special quality, my respect for everyone, recognizing that one is no better than the other.

He added: "This is the last occasion on this personal campaign that I have been on to achieve this high office, that I remind myself of that obligation and to say that I dearly miss her, and she should have been here."

He said they were both alive to witness the occasion of his swearing in as Opposition leader a few years ago, but that it was very unfortunate they were not witnessing the pinnacle of his political career.

The hundreds in attendance included his wife, Bernadette and immediate family, Wendal Major, Secretary to Cabinet, Paul Farquharson, Commissioner of Police, Davy Rolle, Commodore Royal Bahamas Defence Force, J. Richard Blankenship, United States Ambassador to The Bahamas, Peter Hiegl, British High Commissioner. A number of religious leaders were also in attendance including, Anglican Archbishop Drexel Gomez, Bishop Samuel Greene, President, Bahamas Christian Council and Bishop Neil Ellis, Senior Pastor of Mount Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church.

"I once again call upon all Bahamians, the victors and the vanquished, to now join together in national unity and common purpose as we move forward to embrace the opportunities and the challenges that lie before us," the Prime Minister said.

He said, "I invite you, then, to join with me in that noble quest so that together we can build a brighter future for all our people."

In congratulating Christie and the newly elected members of parliament, the governor general said that such an occasion was a time of celebration for all Bahamians.

"Once again our small independent state has shown itself to be far more organized, democratic and mature than many older and larger countries in our region, in the Commonwealth and in the world," said Dumont.

"You and they fought valiantly and your hard work has been crowned with electoral success, congratulations," she said.

Prime Minister Christie was sworn in for a five year term following the landslide victory of his party in Thursday's general elections.

Tanya McCartney defeated

After being defeated by Progressive Liberal candidate Agatha Marcelle in South Beach, Tanya McCartney of the Free National Movement said she was relaxing after four months on the campaign trail.

"I am very well," McCartney said on telephone Friday with the Guardian, after the results of Thursday night's vote tally.

With regard to future plans she said, "My plans are to continue working hard for the Bahamian people."

With that simple statement McCartney declined to elaborate on whether she would continue to campaign in the South Beach area during the next five years or move to another constituency.

When the Guardian visited the FNM headquarters on Thursday, McCartney, who lost by 87 votes, was not there.

The catchy jingle, "I fa Tanya, I fa FNM," spread like wildfire throughout Nassau and the Bahama islands. McCartney also created a website "Ifaytanya.com" that was still operating, supplying South Beach constituents and other interested persons with information on her goals.

Many voters were shocked that McCartney was defeated after putting forward such a massive campaign in the South Beach area.

Some persons said that they really had not expected McCartney to fall, after she had seemed to be so popular in the constituency.

McCartney supporters, who were out at C V Bethel High School in large numbers seemed to be deflated as only election results could be heard along with blaring car horns at McCartney's constituency headquarters.

However many Marcelle and PLP supporters shouted and chanted that McCartney was "blown away by the fresh wind."

McCartney was the youngest female parliamentarian and the youngest to be appointed to the Senate in June of 2001. The Senate move was considered to have made history because it resulted in gender equality for the first time in Upper Chamber of Parliament.

PM to preserve special gifts

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has made special arrangements for the depositing of gifts and books he received during his term in office to be preserved.

In preparing for his retirement from the high Office of Prime Minister, Ingraham revealed Sunday that he has assembled a collection of printed works received by him while in office, to be deposited at the Library of the College of The Bahamas.

He made the announcement as he presented The Bahamas Today, the Free National Movement 'Special Report' on a decade of development since 1992.

Ingraham said that another selection of books have been deposited at the library in the Office of the Prime Minister in the Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Centre.

"As for the gifts received by me during the past nine and a half years from foreign Governments, International Organisations and individuals, I believe many of these to be worthy of public display on a continuing basis," the Prime Minister said.

In this vein, he said he made arrangements for these to be properly catalogued with a view to their eventual display in an appropriate National Gallery.

And, a copy of the gifts list is to be lodged at the Cabinet Office and with the Department of Archives, he said.

"It is my hope, that in the years to come, a comprehensive collection of gifts to our nation might be assembled and form part of what will indeed become an important national collection," the Prime Minister said.

Weech speaks at Rotary

With summer right around the corner, concerns about where The Bahamas is headed in terms of global warming were addressed by hydrologist Philip Weech on Friday at the Rotary Club of East Nassau.

Weech, who serves as the Water and Sewerage Senior hydrologist and The Bahamas National Climate Change committee chairman, made several predictions of what the weather would be like in years to come.

He presented historical evidence to show that the climate will change this year and every year if global warming continues.

"The temperature of the world in the past was a lot cooler than it is now. Globally, we've seen a gradual increase since 1940," said Weech.

He added that rainfall has increased from 4.2 inches to 21.8 inches per 100 years.

"Since 1959, the rainfall on Long Island and Inagua has been decreasing at rates of 10.2 and 16.8 inches per 100 years, respectively," said Weech.

According to Weech, The Bahamas is therefore vulnerable to climate change, which will eventually affect water, health, human settlement and most importantly tourism.

"Why is the water sector vulnerable? We'll have wetter hurricanes, which is the most hazardous course of nature to our country, and we'll see rising sea level," he said.

Weech pointed out several post-1992 results of hurricanes including the disruptive flow of the country, the flooding of Arawak Cay and several tanks located in Family Islands were destroyed or moved by strong winds.

"What most Bahamians forget is that the majority of The Bahamas is under sea level. Like Nassau, most of the other islands would be under water if climate change continues and we would have to face flooding," said Weech.

The highest point in the country is Mount Alvernia in Cat Islands standing at 206 feet high.

Pine forests in Grand Bahama, Andros and Abaco also play a big part in global warming, so how they will react to rising sea level is also vital.

After stating the problems the country may have to face, Weech gave solutions which can reverse the potential tragedy, including a new sewerage system.

"We will need to reverse Osmosis in mainly the Central and south-central Bahamas, but the downside is that these are the areas where people are less-likely to afford it. In return, this new technology will be used by the more-wealthy people in The Bahamas," said Weech.

All in all, Weech stressed that the most affected area in Bahamian development will be tourism, which, if the climate becomes hotter will either distract or attract tourist from colder countries.

BDM leader

The Bahamas Democratic Movement leader and candidate for St. Margarets said Thursday that his Party is the right choice for an improved Bahamas.

"Right now we represent that fresh new wind that the PLP talks about, and when the FNM tells you to look around, they tell you to look for us, because we are the way forward," said Cassius Stuart at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium, site of the advanced poll.

He described his party as the better alternative for voters because it comprised individuals who love their country and are serious about their beliefs.

He said the upcoming elections would be very interesting, adding that the BDM would do well because they have been well received by Bahamians at large.

"I believe that the BDM has pricked the conscience of a lot of Bahamian people and a lot of people are seeing what we been doing," he said.

Asked about the low profile of the BDM during the election campaign, he replied that he along with his candidates have opted to do a lot of ground work in their respective areas instead of trying to grab the spotlight.

"Well, the BDM has not been keeping a low profile, we have been knocking on doors. The last say is in the homes. Now what we have been doing is, we've been going to every home in all of our constituencies, meeting the people. Now we can continue with a lot of the hoorah and hooray, and the firecrackers but that don't win votes, it's the people that win votes," he said.

In the final days before the elections, Stuart said he charged his candidates to revisit everyone in their constituencies.

Stuart charged that it was time for the political rhetoric to end and for parties to be concerned about the people in the country.

He said: "There are unborn Bahamians that are depending on us to stand up today. When Sir Lynden stood up in 1962, and they won in 1968, I wasn't born but the decisions he made then, affected me, so decisions we make today will affect next generations of Bahamians.

"We are not anti-PLP nor FNM but we are about making The Bahamas better for all Bahamians regardless of your political persuasion," said Stuart.

Advanced Poll CDR

Several political party candidates on hand for the advance poll Thursday expressed confidence in the way in which the voting process was carried out.

Guardian Staff Reporter

Melonie Griffin, Progressive Liberal candidate for Yamacraw said, "I particularly feel good about the calm and the peace that is here because that is how everything ought to be done, in decency and in order, in peace and in love. As you look around you can see, PLPs, FNMs, CDRs just interacting."

Griffith said she was very confident that the PLP would win in Yamacraw and give people the help and hope that they have been waiting for, especially over the last five years.

With regard to officers voting today Griffith said: "There is a large percentage of police officers in the Yamacraw constituency; in fact, between the police and the poll workers there are 228 persons, I think, who are expected to vote in the advanced poll."

Coalition + Labour candidates reported that voting at the polls went well and are hopeful with regard to the upcoming general elections.

Winsome Miller, Coalition candidate for Elizabeth, who was present at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre said everything appeared to be going fine with regard to the voting process at that station.

"It seems to be going well and I noticed that the Coalition is very peaceful," Miller said. "We are not here to influence anybody in what they came here to vote or bribe them or make a commotion, we are just here to make sure everything goes well."

Coalition candidate for Delaporte, Freddie Munnings Jr said, "The voting is going very well and every party is represented with supporters in their paraphernalia." Munnings added, "The camaraderie is very good among all the parties and everything is going peaceably.

"I think that it is going to be a great day. We are looking forward to elections next week, and our only hope is that there is no disturbances." He said there was a constant flow of voters coming out to cast their ballots and he was pleased with the turnout.

Phenton Neymour, South Beach Coalition candidate stationed at the Police College said that the proceedings went on in a fairly organized manner and the presiding officer in his area conducted the polls in an orderly fashion.

Both polls for advanced voting opened at 8 a.m. and closed promptly at 6 p.m.

BaTelCo Workers victimized

Eleutheran BaTelCo workers who support the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) have been threatened by Free National Movement (FNM) supporters on the island of Eleuthera charged a union leader Wednesday night.

President of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union Shane Gibson, who is also the PLP candidate for Golden Gates was addressing a mass rally held in the constituency.

He said that they were being blatantly victimized because the FNM's probably thought that he was on vacation from his labour duties in light of the upcoming elections.

"The PM is up to his old trick again but Shane Gibson is not on vacation. He is still at work," he said.

Gibson also charged that problems still loomed over the local armed forces despite the Free National Movement (FNM) ploy to buy their votes with salary hikes.

He said that officers of the Royal Defence Force are still having problems trying to "hustle a ride" to get to work at the Coral Harbour base, and are still fighting for vacation leave.

He said that the FNM still has the nerve to try and bribe these law enforcement officers, when they have internal issues that still need to be dealt with.

"My brothers and sisters, we are literally hours away from the inevitable change, hours away from the promised land. Hours away from no longer being oppressed people. Hours away from being set free," he said.

Gibson said that the nation needed a Government that will care and protect its people regardless of age, race, socio-economic background or mental competence, a government that appreciates its people.

"Without them, many of us would not be where we are today. It is our national responsibility to care for those who cared for us," he said.

He said that election time is time to reflect and to decide on our future and the future of generations to come.

"Think about out children, think about the victims of social ills. The suicide victim whose life could have been saved if the proper programs were in place to deal with his or her problem," Gibson said.

" The rape victim, due to our unsafe environment, and the family who lost a loved one to a senseless crime. The victims of a lack of finances. The victims, the victims....It's time to rescue a perishing Bahamas," he said.

"The PLP is here to do just that!" Gibson cheered.

He said that enough has been said about what the FNM has and has not done. The state of the economy, the general mind set of the people clearly show what time it is, he said.

"Oh the storm is over now. The dark clouds are shifting; the light is coming through the clouds, look again into the horizon, catch a glimpse of the rainbow, each colour representing a new opportunity. It's morning. It's morning time. Joy, joy, joy, cometh in the morning," he said.

COB employee dies on campus

A computer lab technician died on the College of The Bahamas Oakes Field campus yesterday after suffering an apparent heart attack.

The man was identified as 40-year-old Harry Davis, who according to college employees had just joined the institution in January after ceasing employment at the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation.

According to an eyewitness, around 4:00 p.m. Davis was working and chatting with his colleagues when, " His eyes just rolled over and he blacked out."

The campus nurse was called to the scene and tried to revive Davis while an ambulance was alerted to the scene.

The witness said that the ambulance arrived at around 4:10 p.m. and Emergency Medical Technicians worked frantically to resuscitate Davis, but to no avail.

The witness said that Davis' colleagues were understandably upset about the incident, with some being drawn to tears.

Dr Leon Higgs, President of the college, was also said to be on campus at the time the incident occurred and urgently sought to contact the relatives of his fallen employee.

Another witness said that it was believed that Davis suffered a massive heart attack. According to his colleagues, he did not complain about any form of chest pain or headache.

"They were just talking and he fall out," the witness said, relating that the computer technician was married, with four children.

As the college is closed for spring break, no students or lecturers were on campus when the incident occurred, with only administrative support staff on duty.

Another witness said, " I didn't even know he worked here until today."

"Man, he was a sociable and friendly guy," the first witness said, "I'm really sorry this happened. He was a really nice guy."

Davis' body was taken from the campus by Bethel Brothers Morticians.

Bethel Opens New Nassau Village Community Center

Children in the Holy Cross constituency and surrounding areas deserve the best the government has to offer, Free National Movement re-election candidate Carl Bethel said on Saturday.

Speaking at the official opening of Anderson House, an After School Study Center, Bethel said: "The children of Nassau Village deserved the best education the government could provide. That is why the FNM government has invested more than $12 million in the construction of two-state-of the-art primary schools here in Nassau Village, the Cleveland Eneas and the Sadie Curtis Primary. The FNM put in the facilities I requested," said Bethel.

"It hurt my heart to walk around my constituency after school hours and see little young teen-age children minding their smaller brothers and sisters, while mummy was out working. And usually, if they were girls, I could always spot some of the older fellows hanging around trying to keep company, or worse. And it was no wonder that too often children were having children," Bethel said.

The center's opening he said, was the climax of five years of work, done to find and secure a suitable property to house the center, and to seek the community's financial support to buy the building and have it renovated.

"I was determined to do better for Nassau Village. A constituent recently told me that the PLP seemed to believe that all that was needed for other people (not, of course their children) was to throw down some tar for a ball court and leave them to 'sweaty themselves up.' That has never been my view. I was determined to do something to help in improving the minds of young people, and improving social conditions. That is why I tried so hard to improve all the public facilities here in the Village. Nassau Village deserved better than that. And the FNM has provided better," said Bethel.

He said that the children of Nassau Village have the equal right to play on state-of-the-art playgrounds just as those children who play at Goodman's Bay or Montagu Beach.

Bethel said the home was named after Mrs. Jacqueline "Patsy" Anderson, a long-time resident of Nassau Village, a "daughter" of Nassau Village, with an enormous personality and strong Christian faith.

The home is outfitted with internet-ready computers, cable television, a library, and training personnel to assist area children with their homework assignments.

He encouraged area residents to embrace and make full use of the center by allowing their children to flourish within its walls.

Bethel then thanked the many donors whose names were listed on the center's "Wall of Fame". He also made special mention of Desmond and Diana O' Leary who donated $30,000.

The FNM has invested $20 million to improve the education of children, Bethel said, and has continued to invest in the process by adding the study centre to reinforce the lessons of the classroom and help them with home work.

Community Center: Holy Cross MP Carl Bethel with children from the constituency of Holy Cross at the Nassau Village Community and After School Study Center. Photo by Patrick Hanna.

Domestic destination

MARSH HARBOUR, Abaco -- This island, hailed as the "sailing capital of The Bahamas" is to be promoted as a Domestic Tourism destination, residents were told during a Free National Movement rally last night.

This promise was made by Minister of Tourism and FNM Leader-Designate Tommy Turnquest as he addressed hundreds assembled in the Marsh Harbour Shopping


"We will promote Abaco in a special investment and tourist guide for this island," Turnquest said. "Domestic tourism is high on our agenda."

The rally was also addressed by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, hours after he and Turnquest toured three cays - Great Guana Cay, Man-O-War Cay and Hope Town.

Turnquest also promised residents that an FNM government will continue to promote the development of small-owned resorts, guest houses and other

tourist-related attractions and facilities.

"As we continue to work with you, and for you -- the Bahamian people, we will remain faithful, honest and focused," Turnquest said. "We will take this

country to the next level and we ask you to continue with us on this journey."

He told them that no effort will be spared to make it better.

Turnquest told the excited crowd that it was good to be amongst them supporting FNM candidate for South Abaco Robert Sweeting.

He also said he continues to marvel at the growth of Abaco, and that he was proud of the fact that the FNM policies and actions have facilitated many residential and commercial developments on the island.

Turnquest pointed out paved roads on Man-O-War Cay, upon which a new garbage disposal site was built; new school and post office and ongoing efforts to

improve the water supply, which "all attests to our commitment and the industrious work of Local Government.

On Guana Cay, the FNM provided the necessary funding for residents to build a new dock, roads, post office and administrative building.

And on Hope Town, residents in partnership with the Government helped build a new dock, renovated public buildings, the public clinic with a full-time nurse.

"In our third term, we will remedy the water supply problem," Turnquest said.

He also told residents that in Marsh Harbour, an FNM government will complete the construction of a new dock, and build the airport terminal building, a new administration building and a police station.

As Manifesto 2002 is complete and in circulation, Turnquest said in its third term, the FNM will "significantly increase the contribution that agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing make to the national income.

"In our third term, we will make Crown Land available on a concessionary basis to support the expansion of the Family Island agriculture, manufacturing and tourism," Turnquest said. "My administration will provide Government-guaranteed loans for Bahamian-owned Family Island resort

developments of four or more rooms, and for other tourism related facilities."

He also said that Abaco will be included in his proposed Home Run 10,000 programme.

"This programme is making the PLP nervous," Turnquest said. "The fact is you don't have to be a genius to understand that to provide housing for 10,000

families do not mean all will be newly constructed.

"Some will be newly constructed; in some cases persons will be assisted in land acquisition; in some cases persons will be assisted in purchasing or repairing homes.

"It can also mean providing the mortgage financing interest rates so many Bahamian families crave."

Burke condemns pederasty

Catholic Archbishop Lawrence Burke yesterday condemned the actions of paedophiles, stating that the Archdiocese of The Bahamas will in no way tolerate any form of child abuse by any clergy, religious, or lay person, whether an employee or volunteer.

Archbishop Burke was responding to recent cases of pederasty - sexual relations between adults and children - as reported in the United States media.

He admitted that there have been cases in The Bahamas, but declined to quantify the figure and whether the incidents involved priests.

"We have had cases, and we have handled them according to the policy instituted in 1994. I am not going to start casting aspersions on lay people who work for us or priests who work for the diocese," Archbishop Burke said during a press conference held at his office.

Archbishop Burke stressed that for reasons of privacy, he would not discuss any previous cases that occurred in The Bahamas. "I am not going to violate people's privacy by talking about it," he stated.

The international allegations have had no effect locally, he said, and Catholic churches and schools are safe institutions for children.

However, he emphasized, all allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and the Archdiocese will respond promptly when there is reasonable belief that some form of abuse has occurred.

The accused person would be removed from his position immediately, pending an investigation, Archbishop Burke said, and if the accusations proved true, the person would be permanently removed.

"The Archdiocese will comply with the obligations of Bahamian law as to reporting of the incident and cooperating with the investigation with the investigation," said Burke.

And, the Archdiocese will reach out to the victims and their families and do whatever is in its power to restore their spiritual and emotional well-being, he said. Further, he added, offenders will be referred for appropriate medical evaluation and intervention.

As far as possible, he said, candidates offering themselves for the seminary as well as persons applying to work for the Archdiocese will be screened in an effort to eliminate incidents of abuse.

Archbishop Burke said that within the confines of respect for privacy of the individuals involved, the Archdiocese would deal as openly as possible with individual cases.

"The Catholic community is saddened by reports which we have received through the media concerning cases of paedophile by priests and bishops," Burke said.

However, he said, he was not surprised to know that there is sin in the world and in the church. "This is a reality of life," he said.

However, he was also aware that there has been a loss of confidence among many people in the church, and in its leadership.

"I personally see this as an opportunity for the church to enter into a period of renewal, rediscovery of the gift of celibacy, a time of real conversion for the church, and use the opportunity well to re-examine the policies of the church - things like the acceptance of candidates for priesthood," Archbishop Burke said.

He admitted that there is room for the Catholic church to change its policies, and

"We should be open enough to be looking at all of the possibilities so that this issue could be resolved for the benefit of the church."

Celibacy is important to the church because the priest is called to act in the place of Jesus, the High Priest, he said. The Life of Jesus, the High Priest showed that he himself lived a celibate life, Archbishop Burke said.

"We are trying in our own way to live a life as closely as possible to the life of the Lord. He lived a simple life and this is why we try to share things in common and don't have big bank accounts, and don't own our own houses. We live a life of simplicity, obedience so that we are available to go wherever the Bishop or whomever is in charge sends us. A life of chastity," the Archbishop said.

Watson Bahamians benefited from steady economic growth

An impressive three per cent annual growth in the Bahamian economy, coupled with sound financial management, has resulted in significant salary increases for public servants, Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson told a rally on Tuesday.

Stating that this growth has been sustained over the past six years, Watson, the Free National Movement candidate for Adelaide, also called on party supporters to reflect on the many national and infrastructural achievements of the FNM.

"In 1993, even before we were able to jump-start the economy, civil servants were awarded an across the board increase of $600 per annum; again in 1994, $600 across the board increase, and by 1996 when the economy was registering positive growth, public officials were again awarded increases between $800 and $5,000," said Watson.

He asked the electorate to judge the FNM's track record. Watson said the government reviewed the salaries of all members of the judiciary, as well as an improved salary scale for teachers, police officers, and nurses.

"What this translates into, is in 1992 minimum entry level salary for clerical staff was $7,900 - now $9,900, an increase of $2,000 annually. For degree teachers entry level was $15,700 - now $20,00, an increase of $4, 300 annually," Watson told supporters.

He said that over the years inflation was at an all- time low of 2 percent, while salary increases were being awarded and mortgage rates are under 9 percent, as opposed to rates in excess of 12 percent before 1992.

Watson reminded his supporters that the changes were the result of the FNM's bold administration, which pursued increased commerce and industry, allowing businesses to grow.

He said the 3 percent annual growth in the local economy over the past six years, aided by wise financial management, resulted in the country being cushioned against the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Watson, also Minister of National Security, said the same financial stability and growth resulted in more resources being available for law enforcement and security. However, he added, the government is intent on forming lasting bonds with social partners such as the Church, private business and civic organizations so as to fight against crime, and support the family and nurture children.

"Having said that, let me say that in 1992, there were 2,311 incidents of crime against the person, while in 2001 the number of reported incidents of crime against the person stood at 1,202 , a decrease of some 48 percent," Watson said. He told FNM supporters that their choice is clear, because they are better off now than they were before.

Since 1992, he said, Bahamians have been empowered, with improved economic conditions, and an FNM government will further explore initiatives to make life easier for Bahamians to start up their own businesses.

Nottage Academic, technical education distinction needed

The Government's integration of the Hotel Training College into the College of The Bahamas was not a good idea, Coalition + Labour Leader Dr. Bernard Nottage said yesterday.

At press conference held at his Kennedy constituency office, Nottage claimed that the move has reduced access to those seeking post secondary tourism education.

Explaining his opposition to making the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute an academic institution, he said, "It is vital that technical and vocational institutions remain available and accessible to individuals who may not possess all of the academic qualifications generally required of an academic institution," he advocated.

He said that a Coalition Government would expand the technical and vocational programmes being offered throughout the nation.

Nottage said one of the key components of the Coalition's national development plan is to ensure a clear division between academic and technical and vocational institutions.

Part of his plan, he continued, will focus on the establishment of skills centers in the country using the latest technologies to offer on-line distance education courses.

Nottage added that courses in the Family Islands will be customized to meet the particular island's local economy.

"While the present government has built a lot of schools, when you look at the results for the education system you do not see any significant improvement in that," Nottage charged.

"We believe, and are committed to an investment in the human capital of The Bahamas as opposed to building, because at the end of the day, it is what people are capable of," the Coalition leader said.

Academic education would be reorganized and developed to suit the needs of The Bahamas and to assist in its national development, he said. "We will in due course," he advised, "move the main campus of the University of The Bahamas to a Family Island, where there is room for expansion of the campus and the menu of academic and social activities associated with the nation's premier institution of higher learning."

Dr. Nottage called on the Government to look for alternative ways of reducing the cost of Bahamians obtaining higher education.

Focusing on tertiary, post secondary and technical and vocational education,

he said that if given the opportunity, a Coalition + Labour Government will ensure that all educational facilities in The Bahamas are strengthened.

Programmes will also be put in place to ensure the social and economic stability of The Bahamas, he said.

Further, he said, an Education Quality Control Board will be established that will be responsible for monitoring the quality of all educational facilities. The Board would be responsible for granting accreditation to institutions.

Nottage said that consideration would be given to educational funding. According to the Coalition leader, an educational Endowment Fund will be established to finance particular programmes or award grants to various tertiary level institutions that meet predetermined standards.

The fund would receive its initial grant from the Government and will be managed by a Committee.

Dr. Nottage also announced three levels of educational funding which would be awarded to Bahamians, including full scholarships and grants for students who are willing to study in areas of primary importance to national development.

He said loan scholarships would be offered at favorable rates, and made available to all students who meet a set criteria.

"There is no use giving people scholarships for law and medicine if you are seeking to develop agriculture and fisheries. You have to direct your scholarships toward those areas which are of prime concern for national development," Nottage said.

Post secondary education is critical to the nation's success, Dr. Nottage advocated, and if implemented, "will set us apart as a leading country around the world."

Allen celebrates 52nd birthday

Free National Movement candidate for the Marathon Constituency, Algernon Allen celebrated his 52nd birthday yesterday, and wished for a compassionate and peaceful Bahamas.

"I wish for love for my nation and I wish for compassion to flow like a never-ending stream; I wish for patriotism which is built around noble objectives of achievement on behalf of all the people," Allen said.

The birthday celebration was held at his branch headquarters, where guests enjoyed pea soup, chicken souse, and peas and rice.

Surrounded by FNM members and supporters,

the 27-year-veteran of the FNM, said that he got his nickname, "Bulgie" during his Government High School days.

"Of course that name came from a time in my youth at school in a limerick: 'Algie met a bear, the bear met Algie, the bear grew Bulgie and the Bulge was Algie'," he said in a jovial mood.

While everyone is united in laughter when a joke is told, he said, the FNM is now a unified party, and seriously focused on the days leading up to May 2.

Allen said he soon expected to be joined by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham following a brief Cabinet meeting, and also FNM leader Tommy Turnquest.

"We believe that this party is the best political vehicle to deliver better for the Bahamas. The Free National Movement has had a resurgence that has been almost miraculous in terms of its gathering and garnering of support both in the islands of the Bahamas and in New Providence. We are now comfortable, God willing, that we will win the next general elections, and we will form a government that will meet the challenges of today's Bahamas and improve on the tremendous job that we have done in service to the Bahamas," said Allen.

Now the party's campaign co-ordinator, Allen said the FNM's strategy is to stand on its record of governance, tell the truth and project visions for the future.

"We are convinced that the record of the FNM is exceptional, in relation to revival of the economy, education, health, social development and banking, we also project a vision that will ensure that the Bahamas will remain on the steady path of national development which will allow us to brave the national and international winds that may seek to sway us off our course of steady development, " he said.

Foremost in the FNM's plan, Allen outlined, are the needs of the elderly, the marginalised, those in need of homes, the disabled children at risk and those who may fall through society's cracks.

"That is why we brought in the minimum wage; we are concerned with the old issue of employment; that is why we are concerned with national health to ensure that all Bahamians can sit around the table of national bounty and sup from that table," he said.

Granville Bain honoured

Granville Bain honoured

The re-commissioned Orthopaedic Ward of the Princess Margaret Hospital was named in honour of noted medical pioneer, the late Dr Granville Bain, by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham yesterday.

Ingraham officially re-commissioned the ward and the Accident and Emergency Department of the Princess Margaret Hospital at a brief ceremony held at the hospital.

Paying tribute to Dr Bain, a noted orthopaedic specialist, Ingraham described him as one who exhibited altruism in his profession, even when his health was failing.

"This very qualified and proficient Bahamian scientist did indeed make a difference in the way we practiced orthopedic care and surgery in this country, and, even in later years, when he was himself not in the best of health, and 'out of practice' as it were, he was contacted and consulted and never failed to provide good advice and direction in the care of patients," the Prime Minister said.

A graduate of St John's College, Bain pursued further studies in Pennsylvania, spending summers, weekends and holidays in New York City, where he earned a stipend working as a porter at Penn and Grand Central Stations.

He interned at Harlem Hospital in New York City said Ingraham, " a rough and depressed area in which, on a daily basis he came into contact with some of the most complicated of cases. All of that helped prepare him for a demanding, well-rounded professional life."

When he returned to The Bahamas, Ingraham said that Dr Bain was in great demand, especially for those residents who would have traveled to the United States to obtain orthopedic care.

He gained an outstanding reputation as an extremely competent orthopedic surgeon in the United States, the Caribbean, and other parts of the world, Ingraham said.

"Dr Bain, who had done very well for himself," the Prime Minister continued, "was also an extremely generous and compassionate Bahamian who shared much of what he had with others, and who never 'skimped' when it came to making life comfortable for family and friends, and sometimes complete strangers.

"He was the life of most gatherings, and for years would take to Bay Street at the height of Junkanoo to practise and revel in his Bahamian roots," Ingraham recalled.

"He was a measure of a man who saw life fully, and saw it whole; who lived life to the fullest and ripest, and who in his time," Ingraham extolled, "brought comfort and relief and friendship to thousands whom he encountered, or who sought him out."

Almost 50 per cent of candidates newcomers

Experience is set to be challenged by ambitious newcomers as more than 60 new candidates head into what has already shaped up to be the most hotly contested General Election in Bahamian history.

The incumbent Free National Movement government has 11 new candidates out of a total of 40; the Opposition Progressive Liberal Party has a majority of new candidates - 21 out of a total of 37.

The Coalition + Labour has 19 new candidates out of a total of 28, and the Bahamian Democratic Movement has 10 new candidates out of a total of 12.

The Bahamas Constitution Party is fielding one candidate - its leader, Ali McIntosh.

The FNM, seeking to retain its status as the government, is riding high on a booming economy, low unemployment rate, improved educational and medical institutions, and upgraded infrastructure.

It is the only party contesting all 40 seats in the House of Assembly. By November 2001, it had ratified 39 candidates to contest the elections.

The Progressive Liberal Party has suffered two consecutive defeats at the hands of the FNM, led by Hubert Ingraham. However, the PLP has on its side the experienced, veteran leader, Perry Christie, who, if re-elected on May 2, would have achieved his fifth straight election victory.

Equally experienced in politics, and as a Cabinet Minister, is Dr. Bernard Nottage, who, for the first time, is leading his own party. Nottage broke away from the PLP about two years ago to form the Coalition for Democratic Reform. The CDR subsequently amalgamated with the Bahamian Freedom Alliance and People's Labour Movement to form the Coalition + Labour.

And the fledgling BDM, with a young crop of candidates, the youngest being 26, is banking on their youthfulness and appreciation for the legacy left by framers of the nation, to woo their peers, if not the masses.

The new FNM candidates are Tanya McCartney for South Beach, Pauline Cooper-Nairn for St. Thomas More, Loretta Butler-Turner for St. Margaret, Brent Symonette for Montagu, Desmond Bannister for Carmichael, Sonny Russell for Farm Road, Gaynell Rolle for Pinewood, Johnley Ferguson for Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay (MICAL); Desmond Edwards for St. Cecilia, Rev. Philip McPhee for Bain & Grant's Town, and Gladys Johnson-Sands for Englerston.

FNM Leader Tommy Turnquest said that the party was able to assemble such a group of "dynamic" candidates, who, in many instances were chosen by residents in the respective constituencies.

He noted that since the FNM ratified a great majority of its candidates five months ago, they have already completed a lot of ground work in the constituencies, which has "pleased" the party.

"The response has been overwhelming in those constituencies," Turnquest said.

A total 133 candidates were officially announced Nomination Day

held last Thursday for the May 2 General Elections, as opposed to 99 candidates in the March 1997 General Election. There are probably more new candidates for the upcoming polls than ever in history.

The new PLP candidates are Malcolm Adderley for Elizabeth, John Carey for Carmichael, Allyson Gibson for Pinewood, Kenyatta Gibson for Kennedy, Shane Gibson for Golden Gates, Michael Halkitis for Adelaide, Agatha Marcelle for South Beach, Glenys Hanna-Martin for Englerston, Veronica Owens for Garden Hills, Ron Pinder for Marathon, Alfred Sears for Fort Charlotte, Frank Smith for St. Thomas More, Keod Smith for Mt. Moriah, Sidney Stubbs for Holy Cross, Evette Turnquest for Montagu, Dr. Marcus Bethel for High Rock, Caleb Outten for Eight Mile Rock, Damian Gomez for North Eleuthera, Anthony Moss for Exuma, Fritz Bootle for North Abaco, and Vincent Symonette for South Andros.

Christie held in high regard the younger PLP candidates, the youngest being Pinder, 28; Outten, 28; and Carey, in his early 30s. He noted that none of them were born when the PLP came to power in 1967.

It was the PLP, led by the late Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling, which ushered in Majority Rule, led the country to Independence in 1973 and ruled for 25 consecutive years until the general elections of 1992, when the PLP lost to the FNM.

Asked whether the young candidates are able to appreciate the history of the PLP, Christie said those persons were chosen for their professional growth and for having strong community connections.

Christie, as one of the eldest of the candidates, and one of the "Fathers of the House of Assembly", said his message to the candidates "is that the real path for success is to commit one's self to a very dynamic house-to-house campaign, which would allow constituents to question you and you would be able to defend yourself."

Christie also said that the new candidates underwent a familiarization exercise of the PLP's philosophy and criteria for public office, being integrity and commitment.

The Coalition + Labour's new candidates are David Neymour for Adelaide, Obie Ferguson for Bain & Grant's Town, Roger Pinder for Bamboo Town, Nicholas Jacques for Blue Hills, Charles Maynard for Carmichael, Francelia Lockhart-Bosfield for Farm Road, Tolonus Sands for Fox Hill, Winston Pinnock for Garden Hills, Dario Terilli for Golden Gates, Lariett Josey-Dean for Holy Cross, Tyrone "Rock" Morris for Montagu, Fayne Thompson for St. Thomas More, Phenton Neymour for South Beach, Chesney Rigby for Eight Mile Rock, Patrick Davis for High Rock, Leslie Minus for Lucaya, Gadville McDonald for Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador, Lisa Powell-Cambridge for North Eleuthera, and Earl Hall for South Beach.

Though the Coalition + Labour is a relatively new political party, its leader Dr. Nottage said they are expected to do very well at the polls.

"Our party has the most impressive set of objectives and best vision for the country," Dr. Nottage said.

He noted that the candidates were selected in accordance with the party's constitution. They were primarily chosen by members of their respective constituency branches and have the strong support of the residents.

"All of our candidates are very accomplished people from various walks of life who have achieved a lot in their personal lives and are seeking to serve, and we expect them to do extremely well in their areas," Dr. Nottage said.

He noted that other members of the Coalition, who are either aligned with the PLM or BFA were chosen in accordance with those Party constitutions.

Asked what sort of guidance new candidates were getting, Dr. Nottage said they were not concentrating too much on not winning. "Everybody who runs in politics understand that at the end of the day, whether they win the seat or not depends on a very large number of factors and not necessarily a personal reflection on them or their capabilities," Dr. Nottage said.

The new BDM candidates are Cassius Stuart for St. Margaret, Wayne Johnson for Englerston, Parrish Simmons for Adelaide, Sydney Carroll for Blue Hills, Omar Smith for Golden Gates, Euthalie Miller for Golden Gates, Yvette Cooper for Bain & Grant's Town, Jermaine Higgs for South Beach, Noel St. Claude for Ft. Charlotte, and Dion Stuart for St. Thomas More.

Asked about the youth of the party, Stuart said, "It shows that our country is maturing and it shows that we are a young nation and that our young people have admiration to be a part of the decision-making process in this country."

Student barred from COB final exam

This story that you are about to read is the last cry of hope for a College of The Bahamas (COB) student who was barred from taking one of her final examinations which will take place on Monday.

After studying at Acadia University in Canada for three years, and thinking she was making a sensibly economic decision, the 21-year-old, who aspires to be a medical doctor, returned to Nassau with hopes of completing her two final courses which would enable her to attain her Bachelor's degree in Biology.

She registered for the courses at COB on Jan. 6, 2002 and attended classes on a consistent basis, but came across some technicalities with one of the courses and was advised to drop it by the College's Financial Controller, David Pinder, she alleged.

The student, who prefers to be identified only as "Tiffany" said that she was told that if she dropped that particular course, she would be refunded 75 per cent of her $550 tuition and probably pursue the course at another tertiary institution.

However, she later consulted the Dean of The School of Pure and Applied Science, Brendamae Cleare, who said that she would try and reinstate her into the class if she brought back a few documents, including letters from the university abroad.

In her last semester at Acadia University, she attained a 3.93 grade point average.

Two days later the documents were brought to Cleare, and Tiffany was told to continue with the class while the matter was being dealt with. She did this and maintained a B+ average. On Feb. 25, the Dean signed the slip to allow the student back in the course, but unfortunately, when she took the slip to the Records Department, she was told that it could not be done and that only the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr Linda Davis, had the authority to reinstate her.

Upon hearing this, she gave up hope and returned instead to Pinder for a refund but was told that according to the school's policies, it could not be returned.

When she approached Dr Davis, Tiffany said that her initial response was no and at this time, Tiffany had already completed more than half a semester.

A letter was then required from Pinder explaining the situation. Meanwhile Tiffany still continued to study and prepare for the final examination.

She said that she went back to Davis inquiring about the letter and was told that it could not be discussed with her, and that she would not be able to write the final examination.

In desperation, the student exhausted all avenues, turning to the Permanent Secretary of Education Cresswell Sturrup, who tried to assist her but acknowledged too that the college is only subsidized by the Government.

Tiffany said that she then sought help from the college Vice President, Dr Rhonda Chipman-Johnson who suggested that she take the course again in the summer.

At this point the student is filled with tearful frustration as her grades are supposed to be submitted by May 1 in order for her to receive her Bachelor's degree.

She said that the only college worker who is supporting her in this issue is her lecturer, who is from Ireland.

"I feel like I am being blocked and mistreated," she said; "if I said that a staff member promised me that I would get my money back, then they should not be talking behind my back like this. We should have all sat down together and talked about this. Now everybody is talking behind my back and coming down on me, saying that I am lying, and I'm not getting my money back and I'm not sitting my final exam," she said.

"The most painful part about it is that I spent seven hours a week in classes. I haven't missed any classes. I've taken every exam, which I had to study for, and I maintained a B+ average. The last day of class, my professor gave me my average which was 80 per cent. For them to just say that that 80 per cent doesn't mean nothing, that hurts me because I worked real hard," she said.

"That doesn't make sense. I have a slip signed by the Dean, who re-instated me back in the course," Tiffany continued.

"I understand that this a battle against principalities in high places and your prayers and support would be greatly appreciated. There could be more students out there who may have been in similar situations at the college and I hope and pray that there be no more," she said.

While the Guardian attempted to contact COB personnel involved in the matter, it was revealed that some staff were aware of the situation.

One person under the condition of anonymity said that it was known that Pinder did all he could to assist "Tiffany" in her quest to sit her final exams.

When the Guardian called for both Dr Linda Davis and David Pinder, we were told that Davis was out of town and that Pinder would not be in office until Friday.

When the Guardian called for Dr Brendamae Cleare, Dean of The School of Pure and Applied Sciences, we were told that she was in a meeting.

Messages were left for all individuals involved.

Smooth nomination process

Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel confirmed that 133 candidates nominated in a "smooth" Nomination Day process Thursday.

"It went very well. There were no reported incidents, nothing out of the ordinary," Bethel told The Guardian hours after nominations closed at 12 noon.

The number of major political parties since the 1997 General Elections have increased to four. The Free National Movement has put forth 40 candidates to contest the 40 constituencies; the Progressive Liberal Party, 37 candidates; the Coalition + Labour, 28 candidates and the Bahamian Democratic Movement, 12. There were also 14 independent candidates nominated to contest the elections.

Bethel also confirmed that all candidates met the requirements, under the Constitution, in order to qualify to be elected to the House of Assembly.

Candidates were required to pay a deposit of $400 in Bahamian currency, when they presented themselves to Returning Officers in the respective constituencies they are contesting.

In accordance with the Public Disclosure Act, candidates are also required to present a declaration of their financial assets and liabilities.

Candidates had to also present their declaration papers, signed by a Justice of the Peace, stating that they are qualified by law to be elected to the House of Assembly. Nominations papers were to be signed by at least five persons registered to vote in the constituency being contested.

Bethel pointed out that candidates have up to five days after nomination to withdraw their candidacy. And, in order to be reimbursed the $400 deposit, the candidate have to attain at least one sixth of the votes in their respective constituency.

There are approximately 144, 800 eligible persons to vote in the May 2 General Elections, the country's sixth general elections since Independence in 1973.

According to the 2000 census, The Bahamas has a population of 304,837, with 212,432 of these residing in New Providence.

The largest constituency is Englerston with 4, 294 voters followed by St. Cecilia with 4, 254 voters; Pinewood with 4, 252 voters; Blue Hills with 4, 239 voters; Bain & Grants Town with 4, 190 voters; St. Thomas More with 4, 189 voters.

Geographically, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay (MICAL) is the largest constituency with the least number of voters, 1,290.

The largest Family Island constituency is Marco City, with 4, 084 voters followed by Pineridge with 3, 955 voters.

A constituency mostly contested is St. Thomas More with six candidates. The constituencies with five candidates each are Bain & Grant's Town, Carmichael and Englerston. Marco City has four candidates.

The incumbents not seeking re-election are FNM members Sylvia Scriven, Vernon Symonette, Anthony "Boozie" Rolle, Gregory Williams, Mike Smith, and Sir William Allen.

The race is on

Political party leaders and candidates arose to a sunny and windy Thursday morning to officially present themselves as contestants in the upcoming general election.

At the close of nomination, 133 candidates had nominated to contest 40 House of Assembly seats.

Many paraded with fanfare in the low-80s-degree temperature from their various headquarters to the designated polling stations where, having met all legal requirements, were deemed fit by the Returning Officers to contest the 40 seats of the House of Assembly.

The candidates also paid their required $400 deposit, to be reimbursed provided they obtain at least one sixth of the votes.

At about 10:30 a.m. Orville A T "Tommy" Turnquest and his wife Shawna, marching from his Mt. Moriah headquarters on Thompson Boulevard to the Government High School (GHS), to the tunes of the Royal Ambassador's band, arrived with the small but vibrant group.

"I feel great," Turnquest told the press after he was officially presented to Returning Officer John Rolle. "The crowd was jubilant, they were upbeat and the response, particularly from Mt. Moriah has been absolutely wonderful."

Turnquest hailed Mt. Moriah, the constituency he has represented since 1992, as his "political home."

An hour earlier, Progressive Liberal Party candidate Keod Smith, 37, arrived at GHS with an entourage chanting the popular song, "Bind Us Together, Lord Bind Us Together". Smith was also accompanied by his wife, Monique.

In the classroom used for the nomination process, Mt. Moriah-registered voter Eugene Robinson handed Returning Officer John Rolle declaration papers verifying Smith's qualification to run for the House of Assembly. Rolle also received the nomination papers with at least five names of voters in the Mt. Moriah Constituency.

Smith, an environmental activist, believes that in order to preserve the timeless value of The Bahamas, its people, culture and heritage, "there is an absolute necessity to fortify the capacity for our citizens to develop themselves and earn above self-subsistence, especially for our youth."

Meanwhile, Turnquest, whose quest is to become Prime Minister of The Bahamas, said Bahamians are pleased with the state of the economy, and the programmes and policies implemented over the past years.

Turnquest said he was privileged to lead the FNM into the elections and "put together a third term as the FNM government under my leadership and move the country to an even higher level."

Having canvassed the views of the masses over the past weeks, Turnquest said, he was confident that not only would the FNM command the majority of seats in Parliament but also, "we are very satisfied that we have the majority of popular support throughout the length and breadth of The Bahamas."

Turnquest said that he has the leadership ability to assemble a team and get the job done.

Commenting on the negative feedback arising out of the election campaign, Turnquest said that would not deter his focus on moving the FNM's platform forward.

"I believe that we are the best choice and I will continue to articulate that to the Bahamian people," Turnquest said.

Over in Farm Road, Progressive Liberal Party Leader Perry Christie arrived at C.R. Walker Secondary School flanked by a large contingent of Junkanooers.

An obviously excited Christie showed off his dance skills before he presented himself to Returning Officer Garth Greene. Christie's wife Bernadette sat by his side and witnessed her husband offer himself as a candidate.

"The most important issue in this campaign and the most important issue for the next 10 years in this country, is which party has the commitment and political will to meaningful involve Bahamians in the extended economy of The Bahamas, not just as employees but as owners."

Christie pointed out that the PLP attracted the "best young candidates", many of whom were not born when the PLP was formed in 1967.

Leader of the Bahamian Democratic Movement Cassius Stuart, who nominated about 9:30 at Uriah McPhee, defended the position the party leaders took when they handcuffed themselves to the House mace in protest of what they termed gerrymandering of the Constituency Boundaries.

To the question of possible jail time for the offence, Stuart said: "If I have to be that sacrifice, I am prepared to make that sacrifice. I'm not afraid and I know my supporters will stand behind me."

Stuart is due back in court 18 days after the general election. He hoped to defeat FNM candidate Loretta Butler-Turner and the two independent candidates Pierre Dupuch and Rita Pratt, and also win the court case.

Nottage shuns nomination day fanfare

Coalition + Labour Leader Dr. Bernard Nottage quietly entered the nomination area at the Bahamas Technical & Vocational Institute around 10:15 a.m. Thursday, slipping past members of the press caught up in the pulsating sounds of Junkanoo accompanying rival Progressive Liberal Party candidate Kenyatta Gibson.

Nottage, as Chief Executive Officer of the Coalition for Democratic Reform (CDR), in the latter part of 2001 formed a "strategic alliance" with the Bahamas Freedom Alliance (BFA), led by Halson Moultrie. The resultant "Coalition" more recently joined forces with the People's Labour Movement (PLM).

The incumbent representative for Kennedy, Nottage entered the nomination station in obviously very high spirits. He was flanked by his wife Portia, and about 50 party supporters, led by the combined-Party's Election Co-ordinator Sean Farrington, who proceeded to nominate him.

Smartly dressed in a navy blue suit, Nottage appeared to be calm and collected, not at all bothered by the loud music that accompanied his opponent.

Questioned about his low-keyed entrance, Nottage said it was a very serious time in the history of the country, and this General Election is a very pivotal one.

"I think that the issues that are facing the country are very serious and I have been concerned about the cavalier approach by both political parties to this process. For us, this is a matter that we are extremely serious about and we want to create the impression that our task is one that is vital to the future of The Bahamas," he said.

"Our concern really is to get the business of nomination over with and get about the business of seeking to get the support of the people of our constituency, Kennedy, the good people who have supported me for the past 15 years, who I have tried to serve very diligently and who I am seeking to continue to serve," Nottage said.

Exuberating much confidence, he noted that now that the nomination process has been completed the Party will further seek to ensure that all Bahamians know what its message is; know what the Coalition's solutions are to the myriad of problems; seeking to create a more just Bahamas for the benefit of all.

Nottage explained that the Coalition's first task is to "Enlarge The Bahamas" by introducing "Island Rights", and generally giving more autonomy to individual Family Islands; secondly, elevate Bahamians; and thirdly to give a call to citizenship and a call to responsibility.

"In order for a Government to do that, it has to be prepared to share that responsibility with its citizens, and so we want to create a meaningful Local Government not only in our Family Islands, but in New Providence," Nottage reported.

"In this regard, what we hope to do is empower Local Government Councils to make decisions for themselves in their islands, be responsible for the education of children in their schools, be responsible for the health clinics and employment of physicians, be responsible for the economic development," he said.

Nottage said that the Coalition + Labour's vision is to have a National Development Plan in which each island will have its own developmental plan and Local Government would be able to appoint a Promotion and Marketing Authority, which will be responsible for advertising their particular island both internationally and locally.

"We want to connect The Bahamas efficiently so that we can promote the introduction of inter-island transportation through ferry services, so that when we develop this economy and we are able to exploit our agricultural and fishery resources, we will be able to trade with each other," Nottage envisioned.

Finally, he said, there is too much authority in the Central Government. He said a CDR Government would develop a more consultative government.

Acknowledging that his party is heading into the General Election as the underdog, Nottage drew reference to David and Goliath; the story of Jonah and the whale, and Daniel in the lion's den.

"I am very confident that we are going to be able to make an impact. And that confidence is bred out of the fact that our message, our vision is the best one for the Bahamas at this time. And, on May 3, you can be assured that there will be a significant representation of Coalition and Labour in Parliament, and if we are not the Government, we will hold the balance of power," he predicted.

"The Bahamas needs that. The Bahamas no longer needs a Government that has 35 seats and an Opposition with five. We need balance, we need objectivity, we need different points of view and that is what Coalition + Labour brings to the table. We are different," Nottage said. "We have a plan for The Bahamas."

Nottage formed his own party, the Coalition for Democratic Reform in 2000. As a Minister in the Progressive Liberal Party Government he held responsibility, at various times, for the Ministries of Education, Works and Utilities, Family Island Affairs, Local Government, and Bahamasair.

He was also the Leader of Opposition business in the House of Assembly.

Free National Movement candidate Ashley Cargill, who sought to wrestle the Kennedy seat from Nottage in both the '92 and '97 General Elections, also nominated yesterday.

The FNM captured 34 of the 40 parliamentary seats in the 1997 General Election. Dr Nottage, then a PLP candidate, won the Kennedy seat with 1,849 votes to Cargill's 1,693. Henry Dummet, another contestant, collected eight votes.

Cargill was the first to enter the nomination station at 9:40 a.m.

This time around would be different, he told media representatives, expressing

confidence that he would emerge the new Kennedy representative come Thursday, May 2.

PLP candidate Kenyatta Gibson arrived at BTVI with a large contingent of supporters, who danced in the street to the sound of Junkanoo music.

"We ready now, we ready now," they shouted, as curious pedestrians lined the roadway and motorists slowed their vehicles to catch a glimpse of what was going on.

Gibson entered the nomination station at 10:43 a.m., accompanied by six supporters, one bearing a sign which read: "Kenyatta Gibson PLP in 2002."

He was nominated by supporter Hilarian Butler.

BDM candidate calls for complete ballot secrecy

The Bahamas Democratic Movement candidate for the Yamacraw Constituency is calling on the Free National Movement government to ensure the complete secrecy of election ballots.

Samuel Bain, a veteran educator, said the constitutional rights of Bahamians are being violated.

"In light of the aforementioned and in the spirit of transparency the Bahamas Democratic Movement urges the FNM government to cause the Parliamentary Commissioner to issue immediate orders to all election officials that nothing, other than the signature of the presiding officer, is to be written on the ballot, the stub, or the counterfoil before or after the ballot is issued," Bain said. "Failure on the part of the FNM government to effect this change," he continued, "would be a clear sign that the Free National Movement is not committed to the principles of free and fair elections."

Electoral reform is not a one-time process, he went on, but should be continuously reviewed with an aim to improving voter registration, casting of ballots and counting of votes.

"Paramount among these is the secrecy of the ballot. Continuous effort must be made to ensure that the ballot is absolutely secret. There should be no blanket mechanism in place that would make it possible to identify any voter after any election," he stated.

There are times when a voter has to be identified because electoral agents have a query as to the legitimacy of the voter who cast a ballot, he conceded, but "there is an insidious system of identification in place today."

Bain said each ballot is similar to a raffle ticket, with a unique number, which is also printed on the stub, whose number is left when the ballot is torn from the book.

"The wickedness begins when the electoral official who issues the blank ballot to the voter also writes the voter's card number on the stub," he contended. "From the stub, one can identify both the voter and his ballot. Consequently, it is possible for someone with wicked intent to go back and locate the counterfoil of a particular voter, obtain the voter's card number and search until he finds the same voter's card number handwriting on a stub with a unique ballot number."

Parliamentary Commissioner Errold Bethel refuted Bain's suggestion, stating that there is no individual, whether an election official or otherwise who has access to the ballots or can go through ballots to see how a person may have voted.

The team approach to preventing child (sexual) abuse'

Sexual abuse, particularly child sexual abuse has torn families apart from time immemorial. Governments, social activists and concerned individuals continue to struggle with ways to effectively deal with this very difficult problem. Today, "Joining Hands For Health" looks at one strategy the Ministry of Health has developed and put in place to address this age-old vexing problem).

(Editor's Note: "Amnon the son of David, fell in love with his younger sister Tamar, and fell sick with longing for her. She was a virgin, and he being older and much stronger, forcibly raped her. King David was angry when he heard, and Absalom hated his brother for his vile act, and plotted revenge for his beloved little sister".

Child Abuse in The Bahamas takes many forms. Our little ones are being abused today, in increasing numbers in our society. Some are being physically and emotionally abused. Some are being neglected and abandoned, and yes, some of them are also being sexually abused.

In most cases of sexual abuse, the perpetrator is generally some one the child knows very well. It may be a member of the family, or a close family friend. It is generally someone who has easy access to the child; who the little one would normally trust and not be afraid to be with.

The Team Approach has been implemented through the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Programme - One of the key initiatives developed and put in place by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to strengthen family health nationally.

This approach recognizes that no one individual or group, working alone, can effectively address this complex problem. Rather, an active partnership of all the agencies involved in dealing with any aspect of this issue is fostered through the "Team Approach".

The Partners of this Multi-Disciplinary, Multi-Sectoral Team include staff from many different agencies and ministries, such as: The Accident & Emergency Department, the Children's Ward and Health Social Services at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH); the Attorney General's Office; the Child Abuse Unit of the Department of Social Services (DSS); the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Forensic Department of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF); the Crisis Center; the Guidance Counsellors in our school system, as well as the SCAN Unit and School Health Services of the Department of Public Health (DPI-1).

This "team" therefore, includes professionals such as social workers from the Child Abuse Unit, who are responsible for investigating cases of sexual abuse. Their responsibilities include interviewing the child and interviewing family members, as well as conducting home investigations to determine whether the perpetrator is living in, or near the home, and most importantly, to ascertain whether the home conditions are safe for the child.

The Child Abuse Unit also follows-up and monitors the situation should the child be placed in protective custody, and on her/his return home, to ensure that the he/she is receiving needed on-going medical and/or other needed care. They also provide counseling. This aspect, counseling, is very important to the child's eventual full recovery from the effects of the abuse.

The contributions from the RBPF are equally valuable. CID carries out the criminal investigations that would ultimately result in the perpetrator being identified and receiving the appropriate punishment (or treatment). Their Forensic Department guides the team as to what evidence to look for, and how to handle and maintain custody of the evidence once it is collected, so as to ensure future admissibility in a court of law.

The doctors, nurses and health social workers are core team players, and provide an extensive range of services. These services are designed to, as far as is possible, repair the damage caused by the abuse; and restore the child physically, mentally and socially.

Effectiveness of The Team Approach - The contributions from all members of the team, guarantees for each "at risk" child, a continuity of care. This further helps to ensure that no abused child "slips through the cracks", and gets lost in the system, and thereby, fails to receive the level and quality of care he or she needs.

Prior to the implementation of the SCAN Programme, there was no effective way of ensuring that every abused child was receiving needed counseling and follow-up medical care. Now however, there is a protocol in place. Each abused child is now able to access needed help through an established process, which also provides for ongoing monitoring.

For example, abused children would be seen in the Accident & Emergency Department (A&E) of PMH at the SCAN clinic, at which time examinations (physical as well as psycho-social) would be done. The SCAN team would conduct medical follow-up. The SCAN team would also follow up any referrals made.

The Team Approach also serves to minimize the stress the child would suffer from having to retell her/his story, over and over, to different helping agents. Using the Team Approach, a very brief history is usually obtained initially - generally from the parents/guardians/caregivers, or the CID Officers who bring the child in.

The core group, who would be responsible for providing restorative care, will be in place for whenever the child is able to open up and share her/his story. This serves to minimize the trauma of reliving the experience through repeat interviews. The process is very dynamic and it is proving to be most effective.

The Major Challenges in Implementing the Team Approach, centered primarily on people's comfort level. Team members had to change the way they previously worked. It involved, for all members of the team, a considerable amount of reading, talking and living with a very difficult subject.

There were also some initial concerns about the "chain of access, or command". That is, which professional group should the child first encounter. The decision was made that this initial contact should be at A&E. After the initial contact, if the child needed to be placed in protective custody, the Child Abuse Unit would take over. In the final analysis, all team members felt the protocol that was established and put in place, to be in the best interest of the child.

Areas Needing Strengthening included the follow-up/monitoring component. It is vital that the members of the team know what is happening with each child, throughout the helping process. This can best be accomplished by means of regularly scheduled monthly "case conferences". During such conferences, all team members would be able to bring their concerns about a specific child's progress to the table, and be able to discuss how best to proceed.

At such conferences, details of specific actions, for example court proceedings, or possible need for inpatient or custodial care, would be shared and reviewed.

What To Do if You Suspect A Child is Being Abused? If you suspect that a little one is being abused, at any time, any where in The Bahamas, you are urged to report your suspicions and fears to the following agencies: The Royal Bahamas Police Force - the Force is well represented on all Family Islands; the Department of Social Services - again there are branch offices on most of our Family Islands; the Crisis Center (328-0922); Public Health Clinics - these are conveniently located in all the major settlements on all Islands.

Nomination Day

Today is Nomination Day when more than 130 candidates in the upcoming general elections, ranging in age from 26 to 65, are to officially launch their campaigns to contest the 40-seat House of Assembly.

Candidates must pay a deposit of $400 cash, in Bahamian currency, when they present themselves to Returning Officers in the respective constituencies they are contesting.

And, in accordance with the Public Disclosure Act, candidates are also required to present a declaration of their financial assets and liabilities.

Furthermore, candidates are required to present their declaration papers, signed by a Justice of the Peace, stating that they are qualified by law to be elected to the House of Assembly.

Nominations papers are to be signed by at least five persons registered to vote in the constituency being contested.

Doors to the 40 polling divisions in New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands are set to open from 9 a.m. to 12 noon today.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham will nominate in his North Abaco Constituency.

Free National Movement Leader Tommy Turnquest, candidate for Mt. Moriah will nominate at Government High School at 10:20 a. m.

Progressive Liberal Party Leader Perry Christie, candidate for Farm Road Constituency will nominate at 10 a.m. at C.R. Walker Secondary School.

Leader of the Coalition + Labour, Dr. B. J. Nottage, the candidate for the Kennedy Constituency will nominate at the Bahamas Technical & Vocational Institute at 10 a.m.

And, Leader of the Bahamas Democratic Movement Cassius Stuart will nominate in the St. Margaret Constituency.

Today is also a significant time for new candidates, as it marks the official start of their political careers.

Many of the FNM and PLP candidates are quite familiar with the nomination process, having gone through the exercise in several general elections.

The oldest candidate is FNM candidate C. A. Smith, 65, the incumbent for Pine Ridge Constituency in Grand Bahama. The youngest is BDM candidate Euthale Miller, 26, for Garden Hills Constituency.

Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel expressed some concern over the nomination process being held at a few public schools. He urged candidates to use their discretion so as not to disrupt school hours.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Youth & Sports Cresswell Sturrup confirmed that the Parliamentary Commissioner had requested the use of several public schools for Nomination Day. But he quickly added that he was not concerned about the school day being disrupted.

Sturrup also told The Guardian that principals have been advised to "make space available" for the three-hour process.

For the 1997 General Elections, there were 99 persons who put themselves forward on Nomination Day held February 26.

Bethel said that he would not be able to confirm exactly how many candidates are running in the May 2, 2002 elections until after the nominations are closed. He also said that sometime after the process, he would officially release the assets and liability records of each candidate.

The FNM has ratified 40 candidates. The PLP Council met last night to make a final determination of how many candidates it would run in the elections. The Coalition + Labour ratified 28 candidates, and the BDM, 12 candidates.

The $400 deposit would be returned if the candidate receives more than one sixth of the votes cast on election day, Bethel said.

Nomination Day in the Bahamian political culture, officially kicks off the election campaign. Candidates normally come out with fanfare; supporters don paraphernalia and hoist placards to display their loyalty.

According to Article 47 of The Constitution, a person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the House of Assembly if he or she is a citizen of The Bahamas at the age of 21 or older. The person must have resided in The Bahamas for not less than one year immediately before the date of nomination.

Disqualification for elections to the House of Assembly, according to Article 48 (1) states, among other things, that no person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the House of Assembly who has been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in The Bahamas and has not been discharged; not certified to be insane or otherwise; not sentenced to death by a court in The Bahamas, or is serving a sentence of imprisonment exceeding 12 months imposed on him or her by the court.

Another reason a person can be disqualified as a Member of the House is if he or she is convicted of any offence relating to elections; is a member of the Senate; or is interested in any government contract and has not disclosed the nature of such contract of his/her interest therein by publishing a notice in the Gazette within one month before the day of the election.

Japanese Counsellor visits Guardian

Embassy of Japan Counselor Koichi Kodama, paying a courtesy call on Patric Walkes, General Manager of the Nassau Guardian on Tuesday, said he hopes to strengthen his country's relations with The Bahamas through cultural exchanges.

The envoy said that a Japanese representative from the embassy, located in Kingston, Jamaica, will visit The Bahamas to observe general elections set for May 2.

He said because of the geographical distances between The Bahamas and Japan, it was difficult to maintain the type of relationship desired.

However it was hoped to combat this problem by creating a teaching exchange between English and Japanese teachers. The exchange programme is already in place in countries such as the United States, Australia, and Jamaica, the Counselor advised.

The envoy anticipated that the exchange and teaching programme would go a long way to improving relations and promote an exchange of people and culture.

Although the teaching exchange was just in the idea stage, he hoped that The Bahamas would be able to send a teacher.

Kodama also indicated his country's intention to host a Caribbean Trade Fair in September and November, which will be the first of its kind, catering to local manufacturers as well as musicians, allowing them to display their wares and talents and develop trade linkages.

He said that since 1994, Japan has consulted with the CARICOM Barbados Office to aid in fostering links with Caribbean countries. Counselor Kodama returns to Jamaica on Thursday.

Cocaine Swallower Charged; Police Seek Murder Suspect

A 28-year-old Jamaican male is expected to be charged before the courts later this week for having 100 cocaine capsules in his stomach.

Up to press time the man, of St James Parish, Jamaica had reportedly excreted 81 capsules. Superintendent Hulan Hanna, press liaison officer, said the man was arrested and taken into police custody at about 6:50p.m. yesterday, following his arrival at the Nassau International Airport.

Police officers on routine duty, Hanna related, noticed a man who had disembarked from an Air Jamaica flight acting in a suspicious manner, and told him that he was suspected of being in possession of dangerous drugs.

The man was taken to Princess Margaret Hospital where he was examined and an X-ray revealed that his stomach contained 100 capsules.

In other crime news, police detectives are looking to question Robert Bruce Bethel, 25, of Cassandra Close, Golden Gates, in connection with the April 4 shooting death of jet ski operator Francisco Faubert, 30, of Balls Alley.

Faubert was shot in the area of East Bay Street. His death has brought the number of homicides to 18 for the year. Bethel is being sought for questioning in reference to suspicion of murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

Police are asking anyone with information about Bethel's whereabouts to contact them at telephone number 325-7005 or 328-8477.

Abaco Haitians could tip vote

About 200 Haitian-Bahamians from the Mud and Pigeon Pea community in Abaco are eligible to vote in the May 2 General Elections.

These persons were born to parents from Haiti, who illegally entered The Bahamas more than 18 years ago, and are now in possession of Bahamian passports.

"These are descendants of immigrants. They are Bahamians at least 18 years and older and there are many from the community of Mud and Pigeon Pea," said Local Government Chief Councillor of Central Abaco, Silbert Mills.

"They are (a) significant factor in the general elections as far as anyone's conclusion," Mills told The Guardian on Monday.

"They are Bahamians, holding Bahamian passport, whose parents may have come here years ago illegally, some legal," Mills said.

Numbering approximately 200, "they have every right as a Bahamian. They are Bahamians," Mills said.

According to Mills, if his parents migrated to a foreign country and he was born there, that gave him the right to be entitled to benefits such as citizenship.

"This is being exercised here," he said. "I don't see where one should feel upset about this."

It is no secret that illegal Haitians are in high demand for subservient labour in The Bahamas. And, those who become citizens are deeply integrated in the society.
"We use these people before the elections to do menial labour, and so the time has come where we must realize that they have every right as

everybody else," Mills said.

Asked how they are accepted in the wider community, Mills said that in today's society, Abaco is home to descendants of Haitian immigrants who are married to "White" and "Black" Bahamians.

"We have accepted that they have generally risen to their place in the society," Mills said. "They are Bahamians, they have built their homes here."

He mentioned an application for a home coming before Local Government from a young man whose parents were Haitians. Also, a number of other young persons in the same situation are home- owners, Mills added.

On the issue of housing, Mills was asked about the long-standing feud between the Haitian-Bahamian community and indigenous residents in the bustling Marsh Harbour settlement.

"There was concern about them not adhering to the law with regards to building applications," Mills said. "And also the right to the use of Government land."

But as for anybody expressing their feelings on the issue at this time, with about 200 votes in that area, "absolutely not," Mills said.

He concluded that: "You won't have the PLP making any statement, or the FNM making a statement on that, or any of their followers."

Mills also pointed out that some polling divisions in South Abaco do not have 200 registered voters like that in the Mud and Pigeon Pea community, with the exception of Sandy Point with over 200 voters.

"This community has more than some polling divisions in South Abaco," he stressed.

Bahamasair Agent Arrested

A Bahamasair employee was arrested by police after she was found to be in possession of over $100,000 in US currency.

Press Liaison officer superintendent Hulan Hanna said the 33-year-old woman of Stapeldon Gardens was arrested by airport police around 4:15 p.m. on Thursday.

Hanna said the police officers were on duty in the Transit Lounge of the Nassau International Airport when they noticed the employee acting in a suspicious manner. Police decided to search the woman's luggage before she boarded an Air Jamaica flight.

The search revealed $136,461 in US currency hidden in perfume boxes in the woman's luggage, Hanna said.

Additionally he said the woman was handed over to Drug Enforcement officials and is expected in court early next week.

'Table top' exercise held by Oil Spill Committee

A "table top" oil spill emergency response drill was conducted by government and private sector officials yesterday during the group's tri-monthly meeting.

Michael Wallace, a public analyst from the department of Environmental Health Services directed the meeting of the Oil Spill Contingency Committee, held at the College of the Bahamas.

Public sector and private oil and fuel company representatives divided into four teams, took part in the exercise, which involved damage assessment and controlling and cleaning up the "oil spill."

A simulated press conference was conducted, during which a designated spokesperson addressed the media about the ongoing attempts to contain and clean up the oil spill.

The committee meets every three months, since it was established two years ago and a plan of action was drawn up.

The committee is comprised of persons from the Cabinet Office, the Port Department, Environmental Health Services, Foreign Affairs, The Bahamas Oil Refining Company (BORCO), South Riding Point Holding Company Limited, Esso, Texaco, Bahamas Air-Sea Rescue Association (BASRA), Freeport Harbour Company, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Attorney General's Office, whose role it is to determine who is responsible and should shoulder the blame for the accident.

"In a nutshell, the committee is a culmination of governmental and private sector and special interest groups as well as community activists," Wallace said.

In the simulated drill, the report of the spill was called into the Department of Environmental Health Services at 8:30, after which the Incident Command, Operations Teams, Media Observers and Resources Units "sprung into action."

In responding to the environmental threat of an oil spill, Wallace said no one occurrence is like any other. A programme, designated APELL - for Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at the Local Level - is used a guideline for emergency response teams.

Apart from the immediate adverse environmental effects, Wallace said, an oil spill also has far-reaching economic effects on the effected country as it may destroy coastlines and underwater marine life.

He directed members of the press to the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan booklet which categorized oil spills into three tiers:

* Tier One is considered a small spillage from a ship or oil-related activities.

It is generally caused by "bad housekeeping" such as a broken hose or over-filling a tank, and should be contained by relevant response units.

* Tier Two is a larger spill, possibly the result of a tanker accident, but one which can be contained by the concentration of all government and industry response resources within the country at local or national levels.

* Tier Three is an incident which overwhelms all local and national resources, and demands external reinforcement from nearby states such as friendly neighbours and a specialized overseas response organisation such as the Clean Caribbean Co-operative (CCC) at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, or Oil Spill Response at Southhampton, England. Such an incident frequently becomes a major international affair involving a variety of agencies.

This national plan is written to respond to and oil spill of any size.

An oil spill can cause a government anywhere from $18,000 to $25,000 to clean up, Wallace said.

Two Survive Aircraft Crash

A pilot and passenger narrowly escaped death and injury when their plane crashed into the southern side of Coral Lakes yesterday.

The plane, a twin-engine Cessna, went down after its left engine failed, causing it to careen across the tops of pine trees before a hard landing in a murky area, about a mile from the Defence Force base.

The pilot, Thomas Price, 39, a Jamaican national who resides in Deerfield Beach, Florida and passenger Dellon Knowles, 27, of Winton Slope, reportedly went down around mid-day after departing Nassau International Airport enroute to Bimini.

The distress call of the Cessna, registration N768WC was reportedly made to the NIA Control Tower around 12:20 p.m.

Although there were no visible signs of injury, Price and Knowles were escorted by police to the Accident and Emergency at Princess Margaret Hospital, where they were examined.

Superintendent Perry Newton, officer in charge of the Carmichael Division, said a "suspicious" package was discovered near the crash site. Up to press time there was no confirmation of the contents.

A resident of Coral Lakes, who has an unobstructed view of the lake from his home, gave The Guardian an eyewitness account of what happened.

The eyewitness, who gave his name only as Dennis, said he was having lunch at home when he looked through the kitchen window and saw an airplane which he thought was flying too low.

"When I looked again, the plane hit the water and the impact looked like a tidal wave," he said.

Dennis said he immediately called the Police Control Room for help, then put on boots and dashed outside to offer assistance to the plane's occupants.

However, he did not get far because he started to sink in the mud, which frustrated his rescue attempt.

"I just could not get to them," he said, "but I saw two men who appeared not to be injured, because they were standing on the wing of the plane."

He said that within minutes, Defence Force personnel arrived at the lake by another route and subsequently rescued the men.

When The Guardian arrived at the scene the plane was seen in the distance in knee-deep water on the edge of the lake.

Apart from bent and twisted propellers, the plane appeared to be structurally intact.

An official from the Civil Aviation Department told The Guardian the crash occurred after the pilot "turned the plane around and was heading back" to the airport.

No Chaos At Bahamasair

Management of the national flag carrier Bahamasair has strongly denied allegations that the Easter Holiday weekend was marred by chaos and delays.

Citing passenger records, airline on-time performance statistics - particularly during the traditionally busy Easter holiday season - and air traffic control reports, the carrier responded to an article in Tuesday's edition of The Tribune, under the headline, "More Chaos at Bahamasair".

The newspaper also quoted the experience of one "Joan Smith", a passenger who reportedly left for Eleuthera on Friday and returned to Nassau on Sunday afternoon, who described the airport on both occasions as "very" cramped.

But according to Bahamasair Managing Director Paul Major, a "Joan Smith" did not travel on the airline on Good Friday, nor was the airline able to confirm when she did travel.

When the Tribune reporter was contacted for comment on her story, she said, "I was advised not to comment."

Major said that the "apparent witch-hunt" by the Tribune must stop, as the public deserves much more honest and balanced reporting, and that "the inaccuracies and misrepresentations of such a story has forced the airline's management to demand a retraction from the daily paper."

Major noted that visits to the Nassau International Airport by other reporters in search of the "truth" found calm and order at Bahamasair, even though thousands of travellers passed through the airport.

Management, he said, made good on its promise to have six of its seven aircraft in service, thereby negating the need to use sub-service between Good Friday and Easter Monday.

Major commended Bahamasair's staff for their efforts in making travel on Bahamasair over the weekend as pleasant an experience as could be expected during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

He explained that all Bahamasair flights to Eleuthera on Good Friday departed within 30 minutes except one to Rock Sound, which experienced an almost two-hour delay.

As for the airports being "cramped" , Major said Bahamasair has no responsibility for the airport facilities and, further, everyone expects airports to be "cramped" during peak travel periods. This is true of any airport anywhere in the world, he added.

To the comment that "It wasn't only Eleuthera, it was Freeport especially - they were having lots of delays" attributed to Joan Smith, Major said it was also incorrect, as all four flights to Freeport on Saturday departed within a reasonable time, except for one flight which experienced a one-hour-and-53 minutes delay due to a break taken by the crew, and an operational issue. One flight actually departed six minutes ahead of schedule, he said.

Major stressed that "Joan Smith" was also incorrect about Bahamasair "having cancelled a flight and having to come back to Nassau for the people."

She was right, however, about "every flight begin full to capacity", for which Major said Bahamasair was grateful to its passengers.

Major also denied that "the majority of passengers were upset because of the frequent delays." He said upon checking with the Customer Service staff and agents, quite the opposite was found to be the case.

"The travel agents, many of whom travelled themselves, had only the highest praise for Bahamasair's performance over the weekend, and confirmed that, unlike after previous holidays, they have not received any customer complaints thus far," Major said.

He continued: "It leaves one to wonder as to the Tribune's motivation for their relentless attacks on the Flag Carrier."

And as for "tempers running high on Saturday for sure", Major said, Bahamasair's research has shown that on-time performance of the Dash-8's was 84 percent and the jets 72 percent on Saturday.

Another "obviously deliberate" misrepresentation of the truth was the allegation of a Bahamasair plane experiencing a mechanical problem during landing, which caused NIA to close down for three hours last Friday, Major said.

He explained that the aircraft in question landed at 2:20 p.m. and was removed from the runway by 2:50 p.m. - 30 minutes later - not three hours.

"This was confirmed by Air Traffic Control, and which could also have easily been verified by the Tribune, if they were well-intentioned or interested in acquiring the truth," Major said.

He also noted that last week, a competing US carrier experienced an engine failure en route to Nassau and used Bahamasair's hangar to carry out the engine change overnight.

"No big deal was made of that incident - and correctly so - those things happen with the best of machines," Major said.

By contrast, he said Bahamasair seems to be a newsworthy event.

"If the Tribune is as interested in Bahamasair's improvement, as it so often demands it does, that newspaper must stop over-sensationalising and stick to the verifiable facts," Major said.

He admitted that Bahamasair has its share of difficulties and challenges, both financial and operational, which management and the Board are doing their "best" under the circumstances to address and correct.

"While the progress is not as fast or visible as we would like, measured improvements are being realised," Major said.

He said that the management and staff of Bahamasair are encouraged to continue to do their best even in the face of adversity as the airline tries to live up to its motto: "Serving you with pride and care at Bahamasair".

"Bahamasair still expects to have all of its aircraft in service for the summer holiday and, once again, the national airline reassures the public that safety continues to be a priority," Major said.

Knowles honoured by Rotary East

Sir Durward Knowles was awarded Rotary International's highest honour when he received the Service Above Award on March 22.

In receiving the award, Knowles fondly called "Sea Wolf" thanked his wife Lady Knowles for her tremendous support throughout his life.

The award was created by the Rotary International Board of Directors to recognize exemplary humanitarian service in any form and at any level. The RI Service Above Self Award is an internationally competitive award granted to a maximum of 150 Rotarians around the world each year who are living examples of Service Above Self.

In presenting the Award to Sir Durward, Rotary International Director Donald Osborne, representing RI president Rick King, and who flew in from Maryland to honour Sir Durward, said the award recognises outstanding efforts in the promotion of RI objectives in any avenue of Rotary service, and constitutes Rotary's highest honour.

Also flying in from St Croix especially for the ceremony was District Governor Richard grant. DG Richard is Rotary International's liaison for District 7020 which includes oversight of Rotary Club in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, Haiti, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St Barts, St Martin/Marteen, Cayman Islands and Jamaica.

Sir Durward was also recognised for his generous monetary support of the Rotary International Foundation over his many years as a member of the Rotary Club of East Nassau. As a result he was presented with a beautiful crystal recognition and Paul Harris diamond pin, placing him in the company of major donors to Rotary throughout the world.

In addition to these Sir Durward was also recognised for his pledge to the Rotary Foudation Permanent Fund to become a Charter Member of Rotary Foundation Bequest Society from Rotary District 7020.

The evening climaxed with a tribute to Sir Durward's life by former Governor General and Honorary member of the Rotary Club of East Nassau, Sir Orville Turnquest.

Sir Durward joked that as he looked around the room, there was no one more deserving of the award than himself.

The Rotary Foundation is a non-profit corporation that supports the efforts of Rotary International to achieve world understanding and health care, clean water, food education, and other essential needs primarily in the developing world. One of the major humanitarian programmes is PolioPlus which seeks to eradicate the polio virus worldwide by the end of 2005.

BDM announces new candidates

The Bahamas Democratic Movement has introduced three additional candidates to contest seats in next month's general elections.

The newly named candidates, all males, are Jermaine Higgs, Noel St. Claude and Henry Dummet. They will vie for seats in the South Beach, Fort Charlotte and Pinewood Constituencies, respectively.

The announcement came in a press statement from Party Chairman, P. Samuel Bain.

Bain said the three men will advance the Party's goal of playing a major role in the formation of the next government and that they seek an opportunity to serve the Bahamian people.

Bain described Higgs as a model candidate, who works in the tourism industry. He said Higgs was formerly an independent candidate in the South Beach Constituency but joined the BDM because his views coincide with that of the Party.

"His decision to align himself with the Bahamas Democratic Movement is also an indication of his unselfishness and commitment to adjust for the betterment of the country," he said.

Bain said the Fort Charlotte candidate resides in Fort Charlotte constituency and therefore "understands the plight of the residents of Fort Charlotte."

Dummet, who is a taxi driver by profession, was described as an individual who understands "the compelling need to revitalize the tourism industry".

"He is of the view that a greater degree of the economic pie can be brought to Pinewood through the creation of a cultural and straw market village, thereby bringing tourists from the northern coast to the Deep South," he said.

Bain said that through the candidates of the BDM, they hope to bring about "a government of enlightenment, a government that is truly of, for and by the people."

Drug swallowers jailed

A Jamaican woman who swallowed 70 capsules of cocaine and a man who swallowed 130 capsules of the same drug, were on Thursday each sentenced to two years in prison by Magistrate Carolita Bethel.

Paulet Delores Bowen, 40, pleaded guilty to possessing one-and-a-half pounds of cocaine on March 24 and importing the drugs on the same date.

Bowen was also charged with Norris George Campbell, 33, with conspiracy to possess and import dangerous drugs with the intent to supply on March 24.

The suspected drugs had a street value of $8,000.

The pair pleaded guilty to the charges and were sentenced to serve two years to run concurrently.

Campbell was also charged separately with possession of cocaine with intent to supply and importation of three pounds of cocaine on March 24. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years to run concurrently.

Campbell swallowed 130 capsules of cocaine with had a street value of $16,000.

Meantime, a 25-year-old was charged with possession of 10 grams of marijuana with the intent to supply on March 27.

Lamount Williams pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted $5,000 bail. The case was adjourned to Sept. 19.

Acting Inspector Gregory Johnson prosecuted.

In matters before Magistrate Carol Misiewicz of Court 13, Adrian Roker pleaded not guilty to a charge that he indecently exposed himself in public on March 26.

He was granted $500 bail and the case was adjourned to June 14.

James Spence of Strachan Alley, off Kemp Road, pleaded not guilty to a charge of causing damage.

It is alleged that the 33-year-old caused damage to the front windshield of a white 1998 Dodge Ram in the amount of $1,295 the property of Reno McDonald.

The case was adjourned to June 14 and Spence's police bail continued.

Inspector Donna Francis was the prosecutor.

Lester Beneby returned to Court 8 on Thursday, where arguments began with regard to him receiving bail for the charge of abetment to murder.

Prosecutor Neil Brathwaite objected to bail being granted on the grounds that Beneby was out of the jurisdiction for a long period of time. Additionally Brathwaite said the offence for which he is charge is similar to that as if he had been charged with murder.

Defence attorneys for Beneby are Wayne Munroe and Wilbert Moss Junior. The defence argued that Beneby left the jurisdiction in fear for his life. The day before he left, there was a shooting outside of his home, the defence said.

The attorneys further stated that the police knew of Beneby's whereabouts and therefore could not have been seeking to find him, as police never asked him to return to the country. Moss said he was in dialogue with police on behalf of Beneby.

The case was adjourned to April 5 for the prosecution to confirm whether they would be proceeding with the case by way of voluntary indictment, which would take the case directly to the Supreme Court to be heard. The day in question would also be used for the prosecution to verify or refute the arguments made by the defence.

Project 'dormant' but Clifton objectors uneasy

There is currently no proposal on the table with respect to the proposed development of the historic Clifton Cay area, Free National Movement leader Tommy Turnquest confirmed.

He said that he was a firm believer in sustainable development, while ensuring that the country's historical, cultural, environmental, social and recreational attributes are preserved.

"I am a friend of the environment. I believe that such a development and the environment can work together for the overall benefit of our society," Turnquest said.

He was responding to concerns on the Clifton Cay development project raised during "The Great Debate" on Sunday between himself and Progressive Liberal Party leader Perry Christie. The issue was also raised last week during a press conference held by the Coalition to Save Clifton.

Turnquest said any time a development like that of Clifton is presented to the government, he would ensure the culture is preserved.

Christie said that the public would know his commitment to Clifton, the area located in Western New Providence, where remains of the Whylly plantation are located.

"I believe that citizens of The Bahamas should utilize every opportunity to understand their heritage," Christie said. "I believe that there is a tremendous contribution to the wholesome development of our society for the strong involvement and preservation of culture in The Bahamas and Clifton lends itself to that."

A gated community and leisure resort is being planned for Clifton, home to the last remaining untouched shoreline on New Providence Island. This development has sparked wide-spread controversy as the government is being called on to reconsider its approval.

Christie proposed that a theme park be built at that site, which would boost tourism revenue to the island.

"My government would be committed to ensuring that remnants of the three civilizations that visited Clifton over the generations - Lucayans, slaves, and Loyalists - be salvaged and exhibited," Christie said.

"Most importantly," he added, "this would give us the sense of being and belonging to our past and enable us as a country to show our future generations of Bahamians where we have come from, what it represents to us and to share that with the world."

Meanwhile, the Coalition to Save Clifton said it was reliably informed that the FNM, if it is returned as the government will move without delay to formalize the approval for the gated community, which it had already given in principle.

However, the coalition said if the information is accurate, "then this evil, diabolical plot which, if successful, will have a devastating effect upon the island of New Providence and the entire Bahamian population.

Suspicious by the long and deafening silence by the government on this critical matter, the coalition made several efforts to establish dialogue with the government on the future of this proposed project.

The coalition produced a letter written June 26, 2001 seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. And, another letter written Aug. 24, 2001 to the newly elected FNM Leader-Designate Tommy Turnquest.

The coalition said a third request was sent to both the Prime Minister and Turnquest on Feb. 4, 2002, but no response came forth.

"This behavior by the government begs the question what do they have to hide?" the coalition asked.

The coalition has demanded, in the interest of the Bahamian people, that the FNM publicly state its position on the issue.

The group also warned the FNM that backed by the masses, "we will not allow this or any other devious act to strip The Bahamas and its people of this valuable treasure."

On Sunday, Turnquest stated the government's position on the issue, stating that no such proposal is being pursued.

St Cecilia Pioneers To Be Honoured

Seeking to instill spiritual and cultural up-liftment to the constituency of St. Cecilia, the St. Cecilia Community Development Committee will be hosting a gospel festival in which 38 of the constituency's pioneers will be honoured on a Wall of Fame.

Chairperson of the Committee, Kayla Lockhart-Edwards, said the honourees would be inscribed into the Coconut Grove monument which is now being refurbished with a picket fence, bushel hedge, and a six feet wall which would be on both sides of the monument which will be repainted. She expressed the urgent need for some community camaraderie and historical background for the residents of the area to look up to.

"Why not now!" Lockhart-Edwards argued during a press conference at the Coconut Grove Monument on Monday as she explained the importance of preserving the community's history. "I do not think the question is why now. A community in desperate need of spiritual up-liftment, much more so than political up-liftment."

In 1971 after returning from her studies from abroad, Lockhart-Edwards said St. Cecilia, which hosted the cultural 'Jumbey Fest' during that time, revived her Bahamian cultural instincts. However, since the festival had been decommissioned back in 70's, she was grieved that it did not continue over the years.

"This community needs to come together, and we thought that a great way to bring the community together would be through a gospel fest and to show the community that they are standing on the shoulders of great people in St. Cecilia," she said.

The Wall of Fame ceremony will start April 1 at 4 p.m. during a Spring Gospel Festival in the St. Cecilia constituency, Coconut Grove Avenue, off Blue Hill, with a Spring Festival starting at 12:00 p.m.

On Aug. 1, 1969, the first Jumbey Festival was held on Coconut Grove Ave., in which the festival was centered around a traditional Family Island Bahamian village or big yard. Ed Moxey, the first Progressive Liberal Party Member of Parliament for the constituency founded and directed the events of the festival. In 1974, a National Monument was erected in the Coconut Grove Avenue as a memorial to Jumbey Festivals 1969 to 1970, after the festival had cease. The monument was rededicated and refurbished in May 1993.

Lockhart-Edwards said the Committee consulted with residents in the area and with a few of the inductees on choosing the names.

The inductees for this year's Wall of Fame include: Ronald Deveaux, Bert Cambridge, Harry Allen, C.A. Dorsett, Horton Hanna, Solomon Campbell, Lilly Ferguson, Susan Brice, Roderick Simms, Richard Ferguson, Amos Ferguson, Fred Adderley, Pearl Hart, Eric Cash, Clarence Jones, Stanley Hanna, Eliza Horton Deveaux, Edmund and Slyvia Moxey, Naomi Taylor, Helen Sally Hutchinson, Cecil Rose, Reverend Earl Francis, Hillary Cargill, Naomi Lockhart, Buina Cleare, Carmeta Gaitor, Myrtis Beneby, Nathaniel Small, Cynthia "Mother" Pratt, Eliezer Johnson, Nat Saunders, Lovera Rolle, Gladstone Francis, Stanley Outten, Blonevia McDaniel, Kenneth Forbes, Elouise Clarke, and Leah O'Brien.

NIA Security OK

Nassau International Airport "is in full compliance" with the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) safety standards, announced the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA also made special mention of the "exemplary work" displayed by the Airport Authority's Security and the Royal Bahamas Police Force in their joint efforts to meet the required security standards.

"Improving airport security is an essential element of the joint responsibility the United States and The Bahamas have to protect travellers against the threat of international terrorism," said the U.S. Embassy in a press release Monday.

The FAA thanked Minister of Transport, Aviation and Local Government C.A. Smith for his continued support in making the airport a safer, more secure facility.

Smith expressed his pleasure on receiving the welcome report that the airport was in full compliance with the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices.

On Nov. 14, 2001, the FAA returned The Bahamas' Civil Aviation Authority to Category 1 status following a reassessment of the country's civil aviation authority made previously, which found The Bahamas not in compliance with ICAO standards.

The assessments are not an indication of whether individual foreign carriers are safe or unsafe; rather, they determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.

The Bahamas was said to be in non-compliance with international safety standards set by the ICAO. The government of the Bahamas had indicated its desire to correct the issues identified as a result of the FAA assessment.

Countries with air carriers that fly to the U.S. must adhere to the

safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations' technical agency

for aviation, that establishes international standards and

recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.

The FAA, with the cooperation of the host civil aviation authority,

assesses countries with airlines that have operating rights to or

from the United States, or have requested such rights.

Specifically, the FAA determines whether a foreign civil aviation

authority has an adequate infrastructure for international aviation

safety oversight as defined by ICAO standards. The basic

elements that the FAA considers necessary include: 1) laws

enabling the appropriate government office to adopt regulations

necessary to meet the minimum requirements of ICAO; 2) current

regulations that meet those requirements; 3) procedures to carry

out the regulatory requirements; 4) air carrier certification, routine

inspection, and surveillance programmes; and 5) organisational and

personnel resources to implement and enforce the above.

The FAA has established two, "Pass or fail", ratings for the status of these civil

aviation authorities at the time of the assessment: (1) does

comply with ICAO standards, (2) does not comply with ICAO


Sir Sidney receives Lifetime Award At Oscars

Sir Syndey Poitier was saturated with pride and humility last night when he was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 74th Annual Academy Awards.

Poitier 72, who is also The Bahamas Ambassador to Japan, was also the first black actor win an Oscar for his leading role in 1963's Lilies of the Field.

During its 74-year history, the Motion Picture Academy has handed out only six Oscar statues to African American actors - five for supporting roles.

Sir Sidney however, broke the mould for black actors in Hollywood, as he brought life to roles which dealt with racial issues.

He starred in roles such as the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn as their future son-in-law.

The glitz and glamour of Hollywood was a far cry from his humble beginnings in Cat Island, Bahamas.

He was born in Miami, Florida in 1924 but grew up in the Bahamas where his father was a tomato farmer.

His family was later moved to Nassau, when Poitier was aged 11, where he saw his first films in the cinema.

He loved the stage, where his career debuted.

On his return to the States, he applied to the American Negro Theatre in New York, but was rejected.

After practising an American accent, he was accepted - and won the job of understudying Harry Belefonte in the play Days of our Youth, which led to his stage debut, when he covered one night for Belefonte.

Followup on Adderley

Progressive Liberal Party election campaign coordinator Paul Adderley was expected to be released yesterday from Doctors Hospital.

A jovial-sounding Adderley told The Guardian from the Intensive Care Unit that he underwent several tests, after he was admitted Tuesday morning because he was not feeling well.

Having undergone major heart surgery about 10 years ago, he said doctors warned him: "You have to take your pills!"

Doctors Hospital on Thursday confirmed that Adderley was "resting comfortably and doing fine."

A former Attorney General and Member of Parliament, Adderley, 73, is still playing an integral role in the PLP's bid to win the May 2 general elections.

But he noted that he alone would not be responsible for compiling the PLP's Covenant.

"The platform itself is being proposed by a number of persons," Adderley said. "We are trying to dot all the i's and cross all the t's and get it in shape for publication, hopefully before the dissolution of Parliament."

Adderley said he was expected to be discharged from hospital Friday.

Hailing Adderley as an important part of the PLP at this time, PLP leader Perry Christie said he was happy that his "personal" assistant was doing fine.

"He was providing general assistance to me personally, and to the campaign," Christie said. "I am extremely happy that there would be no interruption in that advice and support."

Adderley took ill the day he was expected to give an address on the "History of Junkanoo" at Holy Trinity Activity Centre, sponsored by the College of The Bahamas. An avid fan of the Bahamian cultural phenomenon, he has held numerous one-man exhibitions on the vibrant, artistic colour of Junkanoo.

The former front-line politician is known for his articulation and preservation of the tenets of the Constitution. He publicly expressed his disagreement with certain provisions under the now defeated referendum question one on gender equality and citizenship.

St Cecilia Pioneers To Be Honoured

Seeking to instill spiritual and cultural up-liftment to the constituency of St. Cecilia, the St. Cecilia Community Development Committee will be hosting a gospel festival in which 38 of the constituency's pioneers will be honoured on a Wall of Fame.

Chairperson of the Committee, Kayla Lockhart-Edwards, said the honourees would be inscribed into the Coconut Grove monument which is now being refurbished with a picket fence, bushel hedge, and a six feet wall which would be on both sides of the monument which will be repainted. She expressed the urgent need for some community camaraderie and historical background for the residents of the area to look up to.

"Why not now!" Lockhart-Edwards argued during a press conference at the Coconut Grove Monument on Monday as she explained the importance of preserving the community's history. "I do not think the question is why now. A community in desperate need of spiritual up-liftment, much more so than political up-liftment."

In 1971 after returning from her studies from abroad, Lockhart-Edwards said St. Cecilia, which hosted the cultural 'Jumbey Fest' during that time, revived her Bahamian cultural instincts. However, since the festival had been decommissioned back in 70's, she was grieved that it did not continue over the years.

"This community needs to come together, and we thought that a great way to bring the community together would be through a gospel fest and to show the community that they are standing on the shoulders of great people in St. Cecilia," she said.

The Wall of Fame ceremony will start April 1 at 4 p.m. during a Spring Gospel Festival in the St. Cecilia constituency, Coconut Grove Avenue, off Blue Hill, with a Spring Festival starting at 12:00 p.m.

On Aug. 1, 1969, the first Jumbey Festival was held on Coconut Grove Ave., in which the festival was centered around a traditional Family Island Bahamian village or big yard. Ed Moxey, the first Progressive Liberal Party Member of Parliament for the constituency founded and directed the events of the festival. In 1974, a National Monument was erected in the Coconut Grove Avenue as a memorial to Jumbey Festivals 1969 to 1970, after the festival had cease. The monument was rededicated and refurbished in May 1993.

Lockhart-Edwards said the Committee consulted with residents in the area and with a few of the inductees on choosing the names.

The inductees for this year's Wall of Fame include: Ronald Deveaux, Bert Cambridge, Harry Allen, C.A. Dorsett, Horton Hanna, Solomon Campbell, Lilly Ferguson, Susan Brice, Roderick Simms, Richard Ferguson, Amos Ferguson, Fred Adderley, Pearl Hart, Eric Cash, Clarence Jones, Stanley Hanna, Eliza Horton Deveaux, Edmund and Slyvia Moxey, Naomi Taylor, Helen Sally Hutchinson, Cecil Rose, Reverend Earl Francis, Hillary Cargill, Naomi Lockhart, Buina Cleare, Carmeta Gaitor, Myrtis Beneby, Nathaniel Small, Cynthia "Mother" Pratt, Eliezer Johnson, Nat Saunders, Lovera Rolle, Gladstone Francis, Stanley Outten, Blonevia McDaniel, Kenneth Forbes, Elouise Clarke, and Leah O'Brien.

Walkabout In The Bain Town

Identifying crisis in the community to provide some proactive resolution to stagnant problems, a collaborative community walk-about to combat these issues occurred in the Grants and Bain Town area on Thursday.

The community group consisted of members from the Nassau Street Police Department and its Consultative Committee, the C.R. Walker Senior High School administration, the Parents, Teachers Association (PTA) of the senior school and the Bahamas Christian Council. The purpose of the walk was to identify some of the areas in the community that needed Government, police, or counseling assistance.

"We just basically want to see what is happening in our area. We want to know whether if people are just down trodden in terms of not working, we want to see the area in terms of cleanliness, whether we need to involve the Environmental Health, Ministry of Works, or Social Services," said Kolame Pedican, chairperson for the Committee which took part in the walkabout.

She admitted that the Committee has conducted five walkabouts last year in various communities, and that this was the first walkabout for the year. Also, the Committee will be seeking to make the community walkabouts a monthly event.

Meanwhile on his second walkabout, Willard Barr, principal of the senior school, noted that the walkabout serves an additional purpose which helps to locate homes of students which attend the school. He admitted that the school does not have many of the addresses of most of their students who live in these areas.

"One of the things you may find is truancy. There are parents that leave their houses very early in the morning and leave behind their children to go to school. But there are times when students don't show up, and this walk, when you knock on doors, low and behold look who comes out to talk to you, the student who should be in school. These are some of the things we look at when we go on these walks," he said.

Chief Inspector Eric Seymour, officer in charge of the local police station, said the police presence in this walkabout was all about sensitizing the public, especially children, to detour them from in deviant behavior to live productive lives.

"The real purpose is to encourage and cause the young people to be more aware of what's going on in the Force. We want them to know that we are their friends and to let them feel closer to us," he said.

The walkabout started from the senior school on Blue Hill Road onto McPherson Street onto Lewis Street onto Comfort Street onto East Street onto Comfort Street onto Ross Corner back to Market Street and then back to the school. The committee was well received by the residents in the area.

Bahamas economy reformed

Reformed economic policies have "significantly" improved the standard of living for Bahamians over the last 10 years, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham told world leaders at a United Nations Conference on Financing for Development in Mexico.

In his address Friday, he said his government, faced with failing tourism product and high levels of unemployment accepted the reality that its capital infrastructure and policy framework needed renovation.

"The direct, highly favorable impact on the lives of Bahamians whose incomes, and hence, standards of living improved significantly, was dramatic," the Prime Minister said.

But he said that not without difficulty and some anxiety, The Bahamas reformed its policies, implemented appropriate strategies in a deliberate, coordinated and comprehensive manner and undertook major capital works.

Prime Minister Ingraham said developing countries could implement good governance and sound macroeconomics management, and could benefit from financial support with "reasonable conditionality" from the international community.

He also said that economic growth was elusive because the developed world had the capacity and sometimes the inclination, to arbitrarily change the rules of the game.

Prime Minister Ingraham reminded the Heads of State and Government at the summit that in recent times, the developed world unilaterally changed the rules governing the delivery of international financial services and demanded standards and established time-lines for compliance by off-shore financial jurisdictions, standards not met, or required of themselves.

In the first quarter of 2001, he said, a recession already in progress, aggravated by acts of terrorism, adversely affected tourism output, resulting in unrecoverable loss of revenues to government.

"To this mix must be added the strain of unplanned demands on social, educational, health and security resources of countries, such as The Bahamas, created by the continued infiltration of undocumented migrants from neighbouring Small Island Developing States, many in transit to North America," the Prime Minister said.

He posed three questions for the focus of consideration.

First, how can the international community, acting in concert with the major multilateral agencies truly assist in accelerating the economic growth of developing nations?

Secondly, how can developing nations provide a framework to achieve greatest benefit from this assistance and attract additional capital, both domestic and international, to sustain economic development?

And, thirdly, can international rules and standards be developed so that they are not inherently discriminatory against small developing countries?

To partially answer these questions, Prime Minister Ingraham related The Bahamas' experience - one which he said was not typical of other small island developing economies.

At the commencement of the last decade, he said, The Bahamas was faced with failing investment levels, particularly in the tourism sector, the engine of the Bahamian economy. The country was also "bedeviled" by high and rising unemployment levels and declining standards of living, he noted.

"We accepted that our capital infrastructure and policy framework needed renovation. Not without difficulty, and some anxiety, we reformed our policies, implemented appropriate strategies in a deliberate, coordinated and comprehensive manner and undertook major capital works," he told the conference.

As a result, The Bahamas' tourism and financial services sectors strengthened, he said, and the manufacturing sector awoke and extended its reach into the local economy, while the industrial sector was reinvigorated.

"The direct, highly favorable impact on the lives of Bahamians whose incomes, and hence, standards of living improved significantly, was dramatic," the Prime Minister said.

PM on Small States

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham called on the developed world to assist small island developing states, like The Bahamas in achieving reasonable growth.

Addressing the poverty summit in Monterrey, Mexico on Friday, Ingraham welcomed the decisions of the United States and the European Union to increase their level of official development assistance to small developing states.

He also registered support for the Millennium Development Goals adopted at the Millennium Summit in September 2000.

Prime Minister Ingraham also acknowledged that the Monterrey Consensus was a product of compromise and cannot be expected to be a panacea for the complex development needs of the developing world.

However, he said it was The Bahamas' hope that "the consensus will be a symbol of commitment to begin the essential dialogue, and to take the vigorous and determined action required to pursue and achieve a coherent, inclusive strategy for promoting economic and social progress for all peoples."

The meeting was part of a United Nations' strategy, adopted at its Millennium Summit in September 2000, to cut by half the number of people living in dire poverty by the year 2015.

U.S. President George W. Bush and at least 58 other heads of state were to sign a document Friday pledging to use aid more efficiently to alleviate poverty.

Prime Minister Ingraham told the Heads of State and Government that there was a global consensus that rapid and sustainable economic growth was "critical" to the elimination of social tensions, both within nations and across national boundaries.

"Economic growth must transcend demographic features and provide hope and assurance to all that the future will be better than today," he said. "It must be sustainable and so must not degrade the environment, and its benefits must be equitably distributed."

According to the Prime Minister, the linkage between strong and growing economies and enhanced social and economic welfare is clear.

"Vibrant growth increases employment, enables the development of inclusive economic and social security of a people," he said. "The failure to attain economic security is evidenced by the tragic persistence of political refugees and of undocumented economic migrants, and underscores the urgency of our business here."

The passing of the first black Bahamian nurse

Hilda V. Bowen the first Bahamian trained as a nurse in the United Kingdom died yesterday at the age of 78. She attended school in the United Kingdom from 1946 to 1953, qualifying with a degree in nursing and midwifery with a specialisation in Ophthalmology.

She was appointed the first Bahamian matron of the hospital in 1962, and after three years she was appointed Chief Nursing Officer in the Ministry of Health. In that capacity, she was in charge of coordinating all of the nursing services in The Bahamas, including the Family Island.

In this post, she aided the development of the Nursing Council, the Statutory Body governing nursing practice in the country.

Lifelong long friend Lucille Capron Barnes described Bowen, as a sweet person who loved to work and steered nurses in the right direction.

"Hilda was a perfectionist as long as you kept your standard as a nurse up to par," said Barnes.

Furthermore, according to both Barnes and Bowen's nephew Henry Lightbourn, Bowen was a devout Catholic, who attended St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral almost everyday.

"Whenever she was well she went to mass faithfully, otherwise she was watching church on television," said Barnes.

Bowen's most distinguished accomplishment was her successfulness in having nursing recognised as a profession. She was most influential in developing modern nursing in the Bahamas and in 1969 was awarded the MBE for her contribution to the Nursing Service and Nursing Education in the Bahamas. But she was also involved in the Women's suffrage movement, the Red Cross and was one of the builders of the Community Development Committee, along with the late Clarence Bain.

She is survived by her sister Winifred Bowen-Lightbourne. Three nephews - Henry Lightbourne, Michael Lightbourne and Irving Lightbourne, one niece - Valerie Lightbourne-Pinder, 4 grand-nephews and 2 grand-nieces.

Better Access To Care For Persons With AIDS

Caribbean Ministers of Health have moved to accelerate access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS in the region.

Emphasis was placed on ensuring that HIV/AIDS medicines and related services are available at affordable prices to all Caribbean countries.

"This initiative will bring hope to thousands of people living with HIV and will be a model that can be replicated in other parts of the world," said Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

Health Ministers of the Caribbean countries last month held a successful round of discussions with representatives of leading pharmaceutical

companies on access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS in the region.

The Bahamas was represented at that February 18-19 meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, and infectious disease specialist, Dr. Perry Gomez.

This meeting was the first stage in a process and comes on the heels of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica developing their own national plans in partnership with United Nations agencies and the pharmaceutical industry.

This is the first time that a regional approach is undertaken to discuss joint strategies to provide HIV/AIDS care in the region.

Dr. Piot welcomed the start of this regional initiative on care.

"The Caribbean countries have taken an important step in the fight against HIV/AIDS by coming together to accelerate access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS in the region," Dr. Piot said.

The regional meeting was organized by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat in conjunction with the Government of Jamaica, UNAIDS and WHO/PAHO.

Health Ministers pledged to share their knowledge, expertise and experience and work together in an effort to maximize access to care among people living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.

They also agreed on the need to increase the level of national resources spent on HIV/AIDS, and the development of a common strategy for improving access to care in the region.

The Health Ministers emphasized the need to scale-up interventions in order to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS that is depleting its workforce.

They also placed emphasis on the development of a common framework for ensuring that HIV medicines and related services are available at affordable prices to all the countries in the region.

"This collective action is a critical initiative of the Pan Caribbean Partnership to fight against HIV/AIDS and is yet another attempt by CARICOM for joint strategies aimed at investment in our human resources with equity," said Dr. Eddy Greene of the CARICOM Secretariat.

"With the support of the United Nation agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, the region will develop sound infrastructure and technical capacities to meet the care need of people living with HIV/AIDS," he told the meeting.

Dr. Douglas Slater, Health Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who chaired the working session, said it was "clear that we have the political will to fight HIV/AIDS and creating new partnerships in access to care is a step towards fulfilling the commitments made by us all in the Declaration of Commitment of UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS."

The Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community had mandated the CARICOM Secretariat and the United Nations agencies to facilitate the process of accelerating access to care as one of the priorities of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS, which they endorsed in the Nassau Declaration (2001): 'The Health of the Region is the Wealth of the Region'.

Acknowledging the mandate given to the United Nations by the Caribbean region, Dr. Tomris Turmen, Executive Director in charge of HIV/AIDS in the World Health Organisation (WHO), said that body "will use its technical expertise in the area of HIV/AIDS care to support the Caribbean countries in their challenging commitment."

This meeting brought together delegations from eight Caribbean countries, including six Health Ministers, five pharmaceutical companies and UN agencies.

Bahamian, Colombian Fugitive Held In Cuba

A Bahamian male, along with a noted Colombian drug lord involved with a major Bahamas-based drug-trafficking organization, may be prosecuted in Cuba for falsification of documents and drug trafficking.

Cuba confirmed that it was holding an alleged Colombian drug trafficker sought in his homeland and the United States, and challenged the U.S. government to sign an agreement allowing the two countries to cooperate in the fight against narcotics smuggling.

Arrested with Bustamante was Bahamian Robert Lewis, Cuban authorities said.

The men will be tried in Cuba for falsification of documents and drug trafficking.

The lack of an extradition treaty between the United States and Cuba is reportedly attracting a number of U.S. fugitives to that Caribbean nation.

The Cuban government did not say whether it would hand over Rafael Miguel Bustamante Bolanos if such an agreement was signed with the United States. But it suggested it would be more cooperative if accords existed.

"The possibility now exists for the U.S. administration to show that it is truly willing to seriously undertake the fight against those grave scourges of humanity while avoiding a double-standard approach," Cuba's Foreign Ministry said Monday.

"It is in the hands of the United States government to prove, before American and international public opinion, that it can sidestep the petty interests of small anti-Cuban groups and defend the American people's real interests," Cuba said.

For several years, President Fidel Castro and other Cuban officials have been trying to persuade Washington to sign such an agreement.

Such a delay could be because of the decades-old embargo the United States has slapped on Cuba, the only Communist country in the Americas.

They argue that this impoverished island has limited law enforcement resources and needs the technological resources and expertise of the United States in its fight against narcotics smuggling.

So far, the American government has expressed no interest in such an agreement. Cuba blames political pressures from anti-Castro Cuban exiles opposed to rapprochement between the two countries, which have had no diplomatic relations for four decades.

Bustamante entered Cuba on Jan. 6 from Jamaica using a Venezuelan passport identifying him as Alberto Pinto Jaramillo, and was arrested at a Havana home on March 6, Cuba said.

Cuban authorities said they learned of Bustamante's true identity and the accusations against him from other countries' anti-drug agencies.

Cuban authorities also stated that Bustamante was involved with a major Bahamas-based trafficking organization and that about 10 years ago he escaped from a Colombian jail where he was serving time for trafficking.

Bustamante also is sought in the United States, both for an investigation into drug trafficking and for escaping from a federal prison in Alabama where he was serving time for money laundering and cocaine trafficking, Cuba said.

The Bahamas and the United States governments have an extradition treaty in place; proceedings are being held for the extradition of "drug lord" Samuel Knowles, alias "Ninety", to the United States on drug conspiracy charges.

A prisoner exchange agreement between The Bahamas and Cuba came into force Oct. 31, 2001, for the reciprocal transfer of prisoners, upon application.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Janet Bostwick was not available when contacted. The Bahamas' non-resident Ambassador to Cuba, Sir Arthur Foulkes, was off the island. And, Assistant Commissioner in charge of Crime, Reginald Ferguson said he had not received any information on the matter, but added that such cases would be dealt with through diplomatic channels.

Arson ruled out in Pratt Hq. fire

Police have ruled out arson in the fire which totally engulfed Progressive Liberal Party Member of Parliament Cynthia "Mother" Pratt's headquarters two weeks ago.

According to Director of Fire Services, Assistant Superintendent of Police Alexander Roberts, the fire resulted from an electrical short circuit.

" We do not suspect arson and because of the quick response of the fire department, we were able to confine that fire to that particular area and further prevent its spread to nearby homes," he said.

Roberts ruled out arson as the cause of the fire.

It was determined through both the gathering of information and physical inspection, that the point of origin was an electrical short circuit, he said.

Investigations included interrogating persons who first discovered the fire to identify certain areas where the fire was first noticed. A physical inspection was then carried out and an elimination process ensued, Roberts said.

"Out of that, we would be looking at the contents or combustible materials and the most likelihood of the fire starting, or what components in that area that was most likely capable of causing the fire," he said.

"Once we are able to determine that there was nothing, then we would have started leaning toward arson. However, in this case, we were able to see patterns and it could come from a number of reasons," Roberts said, adding that this information should remain confidential lest it fell into the wrong hands.

If arson had taken place in the case of the structure, said Roberts, it would have eliminated various potential causes.

"If we weren't able to identify a particular thing, then we would now say that arson was suspected. But we are able, based on the investigation, we are able to pinpoint exactly what happened. Once you get the point of origin, then you look at the probable causes," he said.

On March 1, the fire branch was alerted to the structural fire located on Market Street, said Roberts, adding that the building owned by Princess Culmer, had been occupied by the PLP campaign headquarters.

"As a result we attacked the fire, controlled it and subsequently extinguished the same. The fire left the building extensively damaged and immediately we conducted an investigation into the matter so as to determine the point of origin in causation," Roberts said.

When the Guardian spoke to Mother Pratt late Tuesday evening, she said that her mind was put at ease when she found out that the fire was not an act of arson.

The new headquarters she said, would be officially reopened on Friday afternoon.

" The fire devastated the building and we accept that, but I'm moving forward and I just give God thanks that nobody was hurt. That's the bottom line. And at this time I would like to give thanks to all those persons who made it possible for us to restore the building and get back to our outreach programmes," she said.

Adderley hospitalised

Former Attorney General Paul Adderley, 73, is "resting comfortably" at Doctors Hospital, according to heart specialist Dr. Conville Brown.

Adderley - who relentlessly spoke out against provisions under referendum question one on gender equality and citizenship - was hospitalised Tuesday morning, after he reportedly suffered a heart attack.

When a call was placed by The Guardian to the private hospital, the attending physician said only that the former AG was "resting comfortably."

Adderley was scheduled to give an address on the "History of Junkanoo" last night at Holy Trinity Activity Centre, sponsored by the College of The Bahamas. An avid fan of the Bahamian cultural phenomenon, Adderley has held numerous one-man exhibitions on the vibrant, artistic colour of Junkanoo.

Progressive Liberal Party Leader Perry Christie said that around noon yesterday, he received word that Adderley was resting comfortably, reading the newspapers and anticipated being discharged today.

Adderley was one of the framers of The Bahamas Independence Order, 1973. And, during the recent referendum exercise to amend the Constitution, Adderley passionately spoke out against the process.

"Until the Acts are amended properly, anybody can apply to be a citizen, and I would wish restored to the Constitution the rights of the child of an unwed mother which have been taken from her," Adderley argued.

He wished that the government had approached the amendments to the Constitution in accordance with the 39-year-old tradition which had been started in 1963 by the first Constitutional Conference for The Bahamas; and again in 1968 and 1972, which were conducted in an absolutely non-partisan way, firstly by the United Bahamian Party and then by the PLP with the participation of all political parties in the constitutional amendment process.

Adderley also spoke out against the leadership situation within the governing Free National Movement, after Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham "passed the torch" onto FNM Leader-Designate Tommy Turnquest.

The Constitution was "perfectly clear - the Prime Minister of The Bahamas must be leader of the party. This cannot be ignored," he said.

Sweet Indulgences

Staying ahead of the competition requires ingenuity, and creativity. Cheryl Alexandre, part owner of Sweet Indulgences Deli, Madeira St., took a regular business idea and added a unique twist.

With a menu that is a colourful display of international cuisine, Alexandre said she has taken a variety of dishes and added her own special touch.

"We don't offer the regular peas and rice. We try to offer different meals, things like lasagna, shepherd's pie, Creole chicken, and honey jerk chicken. We also have our very own collection of house desserts like 'pineapple splendor', which is made up of French vanilla creme, a secret filling, crushed pineapples, whipped cream and ripe strawberries," she said.

Alexandre, who has a total of four employees admits that business was slow at first, but is now beginning to grow.

"Business is starting to pick up because the food we serve is different and it's tasty. It's not particularly Italian, or Caribbean, European, or Bahamian, we just specialize in Cheryl's specialties; and these are meals and entrees that I come up with on a day-to-day basis," she added.

Despite being in the insurance industry since 1989, Alexandre said she always wanted to have her very own business.

"I always wanted to operate an eatery, because I have always been interested in cooking. From I knew myself I was always in the kitchen experimenting with various dishes," she said.

Now in business since Dec 1st 2000, Alexandre along with her husband/business partner, Alex said they've met all their short-term goals for the business.

"It was a matter of leaving a steady job and going out and taking the risk. But I got encouragement from my husband who supported me and told me to go out and do it," she stated.

Nevertheless success never comes without facing obstacles.

According to Alexandre the hardest part of starting her business was getting financing.

Having been rejected once by the Bahamas Development Bank for financial backing, Alexandre said she stuck to her guns and on her second approach to the bank she was armed with a business plan.

"The second time I showed my projections. I gave them a report as to why I thought it would be beneficial.

Then I brought all the items they requested and then I was able to get the final answer a couple of days after that," she explained.

Besides sticking to their goals and never giving up, Alexandre said she urges budding entrepreneurs to always strive to be unique, by trying to do something that's a little different from everyone else. "For example, our restaurant is in a location where we've had to make adjustments because our biggest obstacle is keeping pace with the competition.

There are quite a number of fast food franchises in the area, so we try to package or food where persons can have gourmet meals at affordable prices."

Additionally, Alexandre said that when a person plans to go into a business full-time they have to be prepared to work hard.

"You have to work harder than if you worked for someone else, if you want to become successful and maintain your success," she said.

She added: "With God, I've pulled through because I've learnt to pray even harder. When things aren't going exactly as expected, you have to know how to adjust and make up for it," she advised.

As for future plans for the business, Alexandre said they hope to expand to bigger premises that would include a much larger dining area.

"We are also planning on getting our own building, and offer our services to tourists as well," she said.

She also plans to include a separate area where takeouts would be handled.

"As far as service is concerned," she stressed, "We are always looking for ways to improve our service because we always want to maintain the highest standards when it comes to giving people excellent service "

$349 million in foreign reserves

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said The Bahamas' economy is sound, stable and growing, with foreign reserves standing at $349 million at the end of February.

Addressing the opening of Dock II at the Grand Bahama Shipyard, held in Freeport on Saturday, Ingraham said the present robust foreign reserves position compared with $157 million at the end of February 1992.

Ingraham tied The Bahamas' strong economic position to the commissioning of the second dock at Freeport, which he said was a critical element of Freeport's economy, as it opens a gateway to providing more jobs and business opportunities for Bahamians.

It also increases the development of industries operating in The Bahamas, he said.

The Prime Minister said the shipyard was developed and constructed under the greatest scrutiny to ensure that it is as environmentally safe as any other in the world, and designed to accommodate the largest cruise ships in the industry.

Started in 1999, just as the Phase II expansion of the Freeport Container Trans-shipment Port neared completion, the new ship and cruise line care facility secures the island's future as a major player in international shipping, he said.

And with Dock II in operation, he added, the Grand Bahama Shipyard offered the largest floating dock in the northern hemisphere.

Services provided will include steel and pipe work repairs, hull treatments, engineering repairs, electrical overhauls and survey inspections.

Ships calling at the shipyard will also receive routine service, damage repairs, Class certification and conversion for change of modification use, he said.

The shipyard has a complement of 423 staff, 206 of whom are Bahamians "receiving good wages, and operating in an industry which only a short while ago, did not exist in our country", Ingraham said, adding that he was confident that the forecasted employment of 388 at the yard would be met by 2004.

The Prime Minister said that as many as 2,000 additional jobs in the Freeport economy were linked to the shipyard through subcontractors. He said that the shipping industry created more than 6,000 new and additional jobs.

A food and beverage pavilion and a permanent training facility for Bahamian workers as ship builders, marine welders, marine engine fitters, vessel pipe fitters, electricians, machinists and environmental managers are expected to be completed within the year, Ingraham said.

He advised that the dock facilities receive shore-side support from workshops and storage facilities for materials and machinery incidental to the operations of a shipyard.

Ingraham recounted the circuitous route by which Dock II arrived in The Bahamas. After being purchased from Cascade General in Portland, Oregon, he said, it was towed from Portland across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, through the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean Sea, and finally across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving in Freeport in December, 2001, he said.

"During nine years of leadership," Ingraham continued, "my government has pursued sound fiscal policies, adopted and implemented transparent rules for promotion and regulation of local and international investment, and facilitated the economic empowerment of thousands of ordinary Bahamians, many of whom became owners and stockholders in the economy of our country for the first time ever.

"I am pleased to have been an instrument, in partnership with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, the Freeport business community, my colleagues and the people of Grand Bahama, in the rescue of the Grand Bahama economy from the doldrums to which it had sunk by August, 1992," he said.

The Free National Movement Government, he said, came to office resolute to reduce joblessness in The Bahamas, determined to facilitate the expansion of Bahamian ownership in the economy; and committed to creating an environment conducive to sustainable diversification in services offered in our economy.

Pay increase for Government workers

Public servants will get their promised pay increase at the end of April.

Frank Watson, Deputy Prime Minister, made the announcement while speaking at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force's annual church service yesterday at St. Mark's Native Baptist Church, Romer Street, Fox Hill.

He said: "I can confirm what has been reported, that the Government is conducting a salary review, which will include increases in salaries for certain categories of public officers and I am pleased to inform you that the Royal Bahamas Defence Force is very much a part of this review."

The Deputy Prime Minister said that it was unfortunate that the salary review had to be delayed as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks, but he added that "good works deserve good recompense."

"However we are now in the recovery stages and the salary increases will be paid at the end of April, 2002," he said.

"The officers of the Defence Force and the Public Service generally, are to be commended for the patience exercised in awaiting these increases," said Watson.

Allen ready to serve

Former Minister of Housing and Social Development Algernon Allen, who recently returned to the inner circle of the Free National Movement, said he would be willing to serve in whatever capacity, should the party become the next government.

"I don't want no big name, no big this, no big that," said Allen. "I just want to be able to make a difference. That's what I have dedicated my life to now, see how I can just make a difference."

He was a guest on Immediate Response, the ZNS talk show hosted by Darold Miller.

Within a short space of time, Allen said, newly-appointed FNM leader Tommy Turnquest has seized the power of the organization, seized the political machinery and is leading.

"He has won my confidence and he has overwhelmed me... by his gesture and his spirit," Allen said.

To the question of him still wanting to be leader of the FNM, Allen said he believed that every politician would wish to be leader and Prime Minister.

"In terms of having in one's breast, a desire, I would be absolutely dishonest, if I say, no, I do not wish to become leader," he said. "The political reality is," he quickly added, "that Tommy Turnquest is the leader of the FNM and he is doing, in my estimation, a fine job at it, and as a subsequence, he would make a fine Prime Minister whom I would have the pleasure to undoubtedly support."

According to Allen, the FNM was intent, by the grace of God, on winning a third term as government.

"Not for me, or Tommy, or those in the hierarchy," he said, "but for good of this nation, for the betterment of the people and for the upliftment of those who are in need in our beloved Bahamas."

To the question of what role he would play if the FNM is returned as government, Allen said he wished to be a part of a government can make a difference in people's lives.

"To the extent to which the FNM government can use me effectively, I would be very available. I would not accept anything from any government that is not my need," he said. "My need is to be effective. I want a ministry that can cause things to happen, and make a difference in the social environment of this nation."

Allen, in an upbeat, occasionally folksy manner, addressed a number of topical issues namely, the allegations surrounding the FNM leadership election in August, 2001, and his relationship with his constituents in Marathon. He sang the FNM's accomplishments since it came to power in 1992, noting an unemployment rate at about seven percent, improved infrastructure, and a greatly expanded housing programme as a result of a booming economy.

Allen credited much of the housing development in the country to Arawak Homes, under the chairmanship of businessman Franklyn Wilson, a member of the Progressive Liberal Party.

"We have touched lives across the length and breadth of this country," he said.

Allen, with 27 years in politics, has had his share of political struggles, having been recently fired from the Ingraham Cabinet on the heels of the FNM leadership elections last August, soon following which he charged that the process was corrupt.

But during an FNM special conclave on March 9, Allen was brought back into the fold by newly-appointed leader Tommy Turnquest, the political protégé of Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham who resigned as leader.

Allen said emotions ran high as Turnquest made the announcement. There was a standing ovation, tears, and an outpouring of love for all present at the Holy Trinity Activities Centre. At that meeting, Allen and Dion Foulkes were made co-chairmen of the FNM Election Campaign Committee.

"This is why now, the Free National Movement, 10 days ago, might have been one story. Today, it is a good story," he said.

He continued: "There is resurgence as never before in the political landscape of The Bahamas, as in the political party, my party, the Free National Movement.

"It is the time for hope, a time for rebuilding, a time for the rising of hopes that were dashed, the rebuilding of shattered dreams," he said.

Allen said he did not think those shattered dreams were as a result of the no vote to the recent referendum to amend the Constitution.

"No," he said. "They were not shattered by the referendum no vote. They were affected by a series of events over which we had little or no control."

He noted the blacklisting of The Bahamas financial services in June 2000, followed by the terrorists' attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

"But we now see a resurgence," Allen said. "We now see more hopes being built as the FNM has galvanized its members to ensure that we deliver a third victory of hope and progress to the people of The Bahamas."

Not wanting to take credit for this upbeat mood of the FNM, Allen said: "There are many who believe that much of what has occurred, has occurred as a result of not me alone, but a maturity demonstrated by a brave, courageous young leader who may have well gone against one or two other influences near to him, and reached out across every divide, persuaded undoubtedly by a cry across the length and breadth of this party, that we must be one."

Pinewood man on attempted rape charge

Three Exuma men were charged before Magistrate Carol Misiewicz in court yesterday on gun possession and ammunition charges.

The charged men were Mario Steven Davis, 33, of Roker's Point, Dimitri Teodis Smith, 24, of Farmer's Hill and Douglas Alexander Clarke, 25, of Highbury Park.

The men allegedly possessed a .40 caliber Ruger on March 8, not being the holder of a special licence. On the same date, police said that the men possessed 10 live rounds of ammunition.

All defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted $10,000 bail. The case was adjourned to June 11.

Inspector Donna Francis prosecuted.

In matters before Magistrate Linda Virgill of Court 1, Patrick Floyd Evans of Pinewood Drive was charged with forcible taking, detaining and assaulting with the intent to commit rape. It is alleged that the 31-year-old on March 7, by force took away and detained a female of 10-years with the intent to have sexual intercourse with her. On the same date he allegedly assaulted the girl with the intent to rape her.

Bail was set at $15,000 with two sureties. A preliminary inquiry was set for April 8.

Another man of Allen Drive was charged in the same court with burglary and rape. Twenty-four-year-old, Van Fransico Juste allegedly broke and entered the home of Martha Piere Noel on February 5, at Allen Drive off Carmichael Road.

Police said that the accused had sexual intercourse with a 36-year-old on the same date without her consent.

A preliminary inquiry was scheduled for April 18 and April 19. Bail was received in the amount of $10,000 with two sureties.

Armed robbery was the charge for which Schamal Hasan Forbes of Williard Road Nassau East appeared before the court.

It is believed that the 27-year-old, while armed with a handgun on March 9, robbed Philippa McKenzie of $299 the property of the Grand Central Hotel at Charlotte Street.

Forbes was remanded and a preliminary inquiry was set for June 25 and June 26.

Inspector Ercell Dorsette prosecuted.

In matters before the juvenile court, Magistrate Roger Gomez, a 16-year-old boy of Bozine Town was charged with assault with the intent to commit rape.

It is alleged that the accused assaulted a female with the intent to rape her on March 7. He pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted $1,500. The case was adjourned to May 30.

Sergeant Ann Marie prosecuted.

Two persons from Freeport, Grand Bahama were charged with possession of 25-grams of marijuana before Magistrate Carolita Bethel. The charged persons were Francis Anthony Golaz, also known as Frank Golaz, 46, a British male and Natasha Denise Simmons Golaz.

The pair allegedly possessed the drugs on March 6. Francis Golaz pleaded guilty to the charge and he is expected reappear in court on Monday for possible sentencing. Natasha Golaz pleaded not guilty to the charges and is also expected to return to court on Monday. Both defendants were granted $15,000 bail.

Sanford Calvin Sawyer of Melvern Road was remanded on a charge that he possessed a half ounce of marijuana on March 8. A bail hearing for the 18-year-old, accused is expected to be heard on Wednesday.

James Kenneth Brown, 35, pleaded not guilty to a charge that he allegedly possessed a half quarter ounce of marijuana on March 8.

Brown was granted $7,500 bail.

Acting Inspector Gregory Johnson prosecuted

Honour Retiring PM says Pastor Stewart

A senior Baptist pastor is promoting the idea of establishing a national event to honour Prime Minister Hubert Alexander Ingraham when he demits office as leader of the country.

Bishop Andrew Stewart, speaking from his office at the New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, said Saturday that a special national event would be appropriate because as Prime Minister, Ingraham did not serve the Progressive Liberal Party or the Free National Movement, but the nation.

"It is time, I feel, for us as a nation to say thanks to someone who has served us. This is only natural. In our nation's history we should be moving to this level - a level of consciousness and maturity," Stewart said.

"Amid all the noise of the issues of the day, and the political battle on the horizon, it is important for us to remain conscious as a nation, that our Prime Minister is going into retirement. This places a responsibility upon us to sponsor some national event that would give The Bahamian people as a whole, an opportunity to say thank you," Stewart advocated.

But, he stressed that saying thank you at this time was not an endorsement of any political position.

In fact, he said, the question of any political views or political position does not arise, since Ingraham was simply retiring.

"This is not in any way seeking to forecast nor influence what the Bahamian people will do in the upcoming elections. But in spite of what they may do, a Prime Minister is retiring and therefore, a nation should say thanks for his services," Stewart said. "This transcends all political, social or ethnic boundaries. He was faithful to the Office; he exercised good work habits on behalf of the Bahamian people."

Stewart called on the Government to appoint some national non-partisan, competent committee for the purpose of organising such an event, although he said it was expected that the FNM would hold an event in Ingraham's honour.

"We want to set a precedent in the future. Whenever a Prime Minister, or anyone of national prominence, including the Governor General, is retiring, we would hold a national event to say thank you for their services," Stewart said.

He added: "The next election may be a time that the Bahamian people may choose to show how they feel, support, disagree or agree with his programmes and record, but now is simply a time to say thank you."

Environment safety

A political aspirant for the Garden Hills constituency has called on the Government and environmental experts to address major issues concerning deforestation and the over-development of New Providence.

In a press statement on Wednesday, Euthalie Miller, Bahamas Democratic Movement candidate for Garden Hills, expressed concern that the Bahamian environment would become depleted of its natural resources, resulting in touristic, economic and social losses.

She said that the Government lacks the understanding of "Carrying Capacity," which states that a given habitat, be it a small island, a continent, or an ocean, was the population size of one or more species that can be sustained indefinitely without degrading its resources base.

Furthermore, Miller argued that through over development by the population, the habitat could be affected by the per capita use of resources, and that the Government should consider "the carrying the capacity" of humans increasing in relation to other creatures.

As a result, she predicted that if one species expands its numbers significantly, it would automatically displace some or all of the population of other species that compete with food, space and other resources.

"The Bahamas is our home, but it is shared by thousands of living plants and animals that need to be protected," Miller said.

Overall, she suggested that an environmental task force should be established to work with the road traffic department to ensure all vehicles were inspected to meet with the international environmental emissions standard. Additionally, she promoted the idea of enforcing littering laws, to stop the continuing trash found on the streets; upgrading garbage facilities by placing more garbage trucks on the streets; and establishing environmental programmes in schools to instill the importance of a clean and healthy environment.

"The BDM believes that every Bahamian must exert a strong sense of national pride in preservation of their environment for future generations," she said.

Fox Hill Prayers

A large crowd gathered at Fox Hill Parade yesterday to make intercessions on behalf of the Fox Hill Community and the nation at large.

The commune at noon tore down religious, political and social barriers as those in attendance joined hands in worship and praise and in one voice called on God to heal the land.

Those present included: Monsignor Preston Moss, Rector at St. Anselm's Catholic Church; Bishop Ross Davis, Senior Pastor at Golden Gates Assemblies; Bishop Neil Ellis, Senior Pastor at Mt. Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church; Pastor Hugh Roach, Pastor at Maranatha SDA Church; Rev. Dr. Carrington Pinder, Pastor at St. Marks Native Baptist Church; Rev. Ivan Butler, Senior Pastor at Kemp Road Union Baptist; Deacon Leviticus Adderley at St. Anselm's Catholic Church.

Also in attendance were: Juanianne Dorsett, Member of Parliament for Fox Hill Senator Fred Mitchell, Candidate for Fox Hill Constituency, Acting Superintendent George Mortimer, Officer-in-charge Northeastern Division, Edward Fitzgerald, Chairman, Fox Hill Police Consultative Committee and prison officers.

Special prayers were offered up on behalf of the families of the victims of Wednesday's double murders, Rosemary Wright Bennett and Jakeel Bennett and the family of Kirk 'Tank' Ferguson, killed one week ago; the Fox Hill Community; law enforcement officers; government; community leaders.

During the prayer for the children of the nation, parents flocked to the podium with their children at their side to stand in agreement for the intercessions made.

The central theme for prayer meeting focused on Psalms 50:15, "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you."

Rev. Dr. J. Carl Rahming, Pastor, St. Paul's Baptist Church and organizer of the prayer meeting said that he was led by the Spirit of God to intercede on behalf of community and entire Bahamas.

"We need answers and I feel within my spirit we can only receive answers from a higher power," he said.

Monsignor Preston Moss, exhorted those in attendance to model their lives after God by having a greater reverence for human life.

He said that Jesus gave His life so that others mankind would live and that when persons touch a human being positively they touch God "because He mysteriously dwells in each of us".

"Therefore let us commit ourselves to build a culture of life and not death," he said.

He called on those in the community to resolve their conflicts without destruction and if necessary to walk away.

"The way of Jesus is reconciliation," said Moss, "the way of Jesus is to approach each other in forgiveness and in peace."

Bahamas wants level playing field

The Bahamas is not prepared to sign a letter of commitment stipulated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) unless there is a level playing field.

This was stated by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham on his return to The Bahamas from the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia.

"We are not unmindful of the fact that virtually everybody in the Caribbean has succumbed to the pressure of the OECD and has signed up," Ingraham said Wednesday night.

"Never mind the noise in the market in The Bahamas as to what we would or would not do. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We have not signed and are not prepared to sign unless the playing field is level," he said.

In June 2000, The Bahamas was among 35 countries listed by the OECD as "harmful tax havens", and was subsequently blacklisted unless it complied with international financial standards. The Bahamas government then enacted a package of radical financial laws in order to meet such regulations.

Then after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, it became difficult for governments to trace terrorists money, which the Financial Action Task Force and the OECD felt were being hidden in Offshore Financial Centres (OFC) such as The Bahamas.

The OECD had required OFCs to sign a letter of commitment by February 28, 2002 or face economic sanctions.

However, the Parish-based organization said it would not publish a new list of jurisdictions unless they have failed to join the initiative until the end of March or early April.

The Prime Minister said that his message about the level playing field was "very enthusiastically received" by Australia and the United Kingdom.

"Canada has always been enthusiastically on our side. We have not spoken directly to New Zealand about the issue, but they joined in the consensus on the matter," he said.

He said The Bahamas felt good that those four members were likely to support its point of view along with the United States.

Prior to CHOGM, the Prime Minister said his Government held an extensive discussion on the issue with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell during his special visit to The Bahamas in February. Also, Minister of Finance Sir William Allen held discussions with the U.S. Secretary of Treasury on the matter.

"So we feel we have the support of those members and some additional members," he said. "In the meantime, we have put forward the matters The Bahamas is willing to commit to."

According to the Prime Minister, The Bahamas is willing to have greater transparency and cooperation in financial services matter.

"But, The Bahamas does not believe it ought to move faster than members of the OECD, and therefore it is not willing to put itself at a competitive disadvantage vis a vis other persons who are in the financial services business," he stressed.

On the question of fear of economic sanctions, the Prime Minister said there was no reason to believe that The Bahamas' position would result in sanctions.

"We have provided the OECD with the matters that we are prepared to commit on, prior to our leaving The Bahamas. We have no idea what their final determination would be, but at the moment, that is the extent to which The Bahamas is prepared to go," he said.

Although The Bahamas was prepared to abide by the same standards, the same time lines and the same framework, the Prime Minister said the country was not prepared to be subjected to more onerous or cumbersome conditions than members of the OECD themselves.

"The Bahamas is now in compliance with international standards," he insisted.

And when some of these matters come about, such as the criminal tax information exchange in January 2004, he said The Bahamas would be fully prepared to do so.

"We are beginning to move along that road now," he said.

The Bahamas was also preparing to participate in the exchange of civil tax information in January 2006.

"The Bahamas would have had more than adequate time to make all the preparations that are required," the Prime Minister said.

He added though, that 2006 initiative, from The Bahamas' point of view, "will only kick in if everybody else in the OECD is also kicking in."

And if this is not so, the Prime Minister said the OECD should have some sort of defensive action to take against them.

Specifically, he said, The Bahamas was very concerned that Switzerland, a premier financial center, was not being required by the OECD to abide by the same requirements as they asked of The Bahamas and others.

Before the Prime Minister and his delegation left the country last Thursday, he did not expect The Bahamas to be blacklisted.

He returned home late Wednesday night from his fifth and final CHOGM, where he was ranked 13 amongst the 53 Heads.

"We had a good conference," the Prime Minister told the media during a press conference at Nassau International VIP Lounge. "We've had an opportunity to speak to Australia and the UK about our great interest in a level playing field in the OECD Initiative, which is a matter of critical importance to The Bahamas."

Shell Ousts Two Gas Dealers

Shell Bahamas Limited has terminated agreements with two delinquent gas station dealers.

Shell's Retail Territory Sales Manager for the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands Lenice Flowers told The Guardian via a telephone interview that for several months the dealers were not complying with the contractual agreement, although the company made numerous attempts to work with them.

For several weeks now, the Shell Gas stations on Thompson Boulevard and Harrold Road were closed. However, the Harrold Road Station has since re-opened under new management.

"After numerous attempts to resolve the financial issues with the dealers, Shell was forced to terminate the agreement," said Flowers, who vehemently denied widespread reports that writs were filed against the dealers. "Shell has tried to resolve the issues with its dealers, and has been forced to seek more professional individuals to operate its service stations."

According to a source, the dealers were having to meet a $10,000 monthly payment.

Meantime, the Thompson Boulevard station remains closed, and it is unclear as to what became of the employees. It is understood that the company is in the process of searching for a new dealer.

When the Guardian news team visited the station a sign had been posted advising customers to seek service at another Shell location.

It was also observed that the Shell Oakes Field Station is under new management.

Garner Dawkins, president of The Bahamas Petroleum Retailers Association yesterday expressed outrage at Shell's actions.

Dawkins said: "Even after the oil company terminated their contracts and basically put them out, they are now suing those persons for monies owed to the company, which we find unconscionable at this point and time.

"We think it is a little harsh, because the tenants were unable to pay when they had the business, now where does Shell expect the dealers to get the monies from after they are no longer working. We find that very unconscionable."

Garner said his association planned to take immediate steps to address the matter.

"We find it very unconscionable that Shell is going after the dealers after they have already placed them in such a financial position. We find that very harsh and draconian at this point and time," he reiterated.

However, he failed to disclose what steps the association would take, but stated "we are watching the situation."

He added: "It seems as if Shell has made the first move in filing writs against the members of the Association. We are now pursuing our own avenues of assistance for the dealers. We are not going to let that go like that."

A former Shell dealer, on being contacted , failed to give a statement, but promised that he would soon discuss the matter.

Shot Miracle church pastor recuperating

A local pastor is listed as ill but in stable condition after being shot in the head, back and neck on Monday night.

At last report, Bursil M. Rolle, 38, pastor of Miracle Working Healing Church on Brougham Street, was recuperating at Doctors Hospital.

Superintendent Hulan Hanna, police public relations officer said pastor Rolle was shot during a home invasion and armed robbery around 9 p.m. at Unison Road off Carmichael Road.

Reportedly, Rolle drove an elderly lady to her granddaughter's two-storey home and before leaving, went to check the house to ensure that the grandmother and granddaughter would be safe.

After being satisfied that the home was secure, reports stated, Rolle engaged in a conversation with the two women that lasted about an hour, after which he started to leave.

Hanna said that the granddaughter escorted the pastor outside and "it was at this point that she ran back inside screaming."

The granddaughter and Rolle were reportedly then followed inside by two gunmen whose faces were disguised by neckerchiefs.

The gunmen ordered the three persons upstairs where they then tied them up and demanded cash. They were subsequently given a total of $2,700 by the grandmother before leaving the house.

Hanna said that the victims were able to free themselves, following which Rolle again attempted to leave the home.

"Rolle went outside and the persons inside reported hearing several gunshots," said Hanna.

Rolle reportedly ran back into the house. The grandmother and daughter noticed that he was injured. However, he was able to get into his vehicle and drive to the home of a nearby relative from where he was taken by car to the hospital to receive medical attention.

Hanna requested that persons having any information about the incident contact the nearest police station or call Crime Tipsters at 328-8477.

Assistant pastor fired from Baptist Church

Trouble is brewing at the St. John's Native Baptist Church again with the assistant pastor being ordered to leave Sunday night.

According to an anonymous source, Pastor Delton Fernander was handed a letter after Sunday night's service terminating him from the post.

The letter reportedly stated that as of Feb. 23, he would no longer be the Assistant Pastor of the church, located on Meeting Street, and that Superintendent of the St. John's Native Baptist Society, Rev Michael Symonette would be taking over the church.

Reportedly, St. John's pastor, Rev O. A. Pratt had resigned, and according to the St. John's Society Constitution, under such circumstances, the services of his assistant should be terminated and an election held.

This process, however, could exceed six months, the source said.

On Tuesday, Fernander met with Symonette, who did not overturn the ruling, but agreed to continue to pay his salary until he found another job, continued the source.

If Fernander is removed from St. John's, some members are reportedly prepared to follow him, wherever he is transferred.

"He didn't open the letter when he was at church. He opened the letter when he got home. Everyone wants Fernander to be the pastor. They don't like how he was fired. This happened Sunday night, and word spread like wild fire," the source said.

"I rather Fernander. He really brought in a lot of youth into the church. I am one of them and without the youth the church will die. I going to whatever church he goes to. Simple and plain," added the source, noting that Fernander held the post of assistant pastor for only about two years.

"I know he didn't expect nothing of this magnitude."

The church has about 400 members and with without a pastor or assistant, Symonette would sit in the church until a new pastor is appointed, the source said.

The Guardian was unable to contact Rev Symonette or Pastor Fernander Tuesday night for comment.

Bahamasair Temporarily Cancels Some Flights

Bahamasair's management has taken the decision temporarily to cancel the airline's Marsh Harbour/West Palm Beach and Freeport/Miami services.

The airline announced that current delays in servicing the various destinations were due to equipment shortages.

Paul Major, Bahamasair's managing director, said every effort was being made to accommodate the airline's passengers on the domestic charter operators and other schedule service carriers where warranted.

"This situation is due to the absence of one of our DCH-8 aircraft which is in Canada undergoing mandatory maintenance check," Major said. "Additionally one of our jets is in Miami undergoing a similar check and engine change, and the second jet is out of service in Nassau awaiting engine change."

Major said the full fleet of Bahamasair's Dash-8 aircraft has been rotated through such scheduled checks since October 2001.

Bahamasair's jet in Miami is expected back in service this weekend, which would alleviate some of the problem. The second jet is expected to be out of maintenance by the end of May, in time for summer travel.

" We apologise to our valued customers for the inconvenience these untimely mechanicals and scheduled maintenance have caused," Major said.

'Ashamed' PM should resign says BDM leader

'Ashamed' PM should resign says BDM leader

Bahamas Democratic Movement Leader Cassius Stuart has called for the resignation of Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.

"We demand his resignation and we will accept it from Australia," Stuart said in a press release to the Guardian.

Ingraham left the capital on Thursday for Australia to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), a day after Bahamians rejected Government proposals to amend the Constitution during the country's first referendum exercise.

During a press conference broadcast live at the Cabinet Office, Ingraham said he was "ashamed," but accepted that the results constituted the will of the people.

"If you are ashamed of us, we invite you to seek asylum in Australia, which is perhaps the furthest point from The Bahamas and where you would no longer have to be ashamed," Stuart said. "How could the leader of a country suffer such a major defeat and still remain in his position?"

He argued that under the Westminster system, of which The Bahamas was a part, such a "crushing defeat" would have demanded a resignation.

"We told you no, now you should go," Stuart continued.

He took exception to Ingraham leaving the country at this time, and questioned how could a shepherd abandon his sheep when they were scattered.

"Is this a mark of a leader?" Stuart asked.

He suggested that whatever is being discussed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting could have waited, or a representative could have appeared instead of the Prime Minister.

"Or shall we say the Prime Minister feels it's more important to be in Australia than in The Bahamas at this time. Or is he so ashamed of his people that he does not want to be among us," Stuart questioned.

"Well if this is the case, we encourage you again, to seek asylum in Australia where you could stick your head in the sand like the ostrich and be ashamed all by yourself," Stuart added.

Constitution unchanged

Three of the five questions which went to referendum would not be entrenched in The Constitution, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said.

The Bahamas needed the popular vote to amend its Constitution, but the referendum was overwhelmingly defeated Wednesday by a majority of the 133, 280 voters.

And according to the Prime Minister, the issue is defunct.

"Another Parliament, another time, another day, may or may not revisit these issues," he said Thursday during a press conference at Cabinet Office. "But this Parliament has no further competence to deal with the matter. It is a dead issue."

The Prime Minister also insisted that it was not a vote against the FNM, despite the party's mass campaign on the referendum.

He said: "Our people and our supporters did not buy our argument. Our argument was that since the opposition had made this into a political issue, we wanted FNM supporters to vote for their party. FNMs determined, quite properly, that they were going to vote on the basis of the issues.

He added: "It had nothing whatsoever to do with whether they were FNMs supporters or not. In fact, I don't believe that the most rabid of PLPs concluded that the votes that came in last evening, represent votes for the PLPs against the FNMs."

The Prime Minister did not feel that Bahamians lost confidence in the FNM, which financed the referendum. At what cost, he was unable to say, but promised a report would be issued.

Asked whether he regretted the move with general elections on the looming, he said: "I am very comfortable with my position, I have no regrets. I have no apologies to make, other than, we did the right thing and others determined it was unacceptable.

The Prime Minister also did not seek to ascribe to the population of The Bahamas, any particular motive for their decision.

"They had a right to do what they did. They exercised that right and I say power to the people," he said.

The amendments which would still take effect but not be entrenched are:

* establishing the Teaching Service Commission

* establishing an independent Parliamentary Commissioner,

* empowering the Director of Public Prosecution to litigate ordinary criminal cases.

The Prime Minister said he intended to have this amendment effected before the House is dissolved.

These amendments were previously passed in both the House of Assembly and the Senate. But they needed a majority of the electorate to decide whether they should be entrenched in the Constitution.

Island Visits To Highlight G-G's 10th Youth Awards

The annual Governor-General's Youth Award National expedition, known as the Bahamas Award Scheme Expedition (B.A.S.E.) is 10 years old this year.

It all got started during a 1992 visit by HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh KG KT, founder of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award programme, when he inquired whether the Bahamian participants would get the opportunity to do expeditions on the different Bahamian Islands. Plans then began for the first expedition on San Salvador in celebration of the Quincentennial and thus the name Bahamas Award Scheme Expedition (B.A.S.E.). Bahamas Award Scheme Expeditions have been held on Long Island in 1993, Abaco in 1994, Rose Island in 1995, Inagua in 1996, Exuma in 1997, Cat Island in 1998, South Andros in 1999, Eleuthera in 2000, and Grand Bahama in 2001. To celebrate this milestone, B.A.S.E. 2002 will encompass visiting as many of the islands where previous B.A. S.E. expeditions were held beginning June 29 to July 8, 2002.

Participants and leaders will travel by a chartered mail boat and spend one day on each island exploring (on foot) different historical sites while visiting the different settlements and meeting other young people. Governor General's Youth Award participants will also have the opportunity to qualify for either the Bronze, Silver or Gold Award expedition. Islands confirmed for exploring are South Eleuthera, Cat Island, San Salvador, Long Island, Exuma and Andros. Each group, made up of no less than 4 persons and no more than 7 persons, will have a purpose, camp out, cook over an open fire and carry all equipment in their backpacks.

The objectives of B.A.S.E. are:

To give Governor-General's Youth Award Bronze, Sliver and Gold participants the opportunity to experience adventure and discovery on a different Family Island;

To create an opportunity for participants to develop leadership skills.

To create an opportunity for participants from different islands to share experiences;

To encourage young people to be disciplined and responsible;

Encourage young people to use their initiative and be resourceful;

Give them the opportunity to receive training in the expedition section; and make it possible for Bahamian youth to have opportunities for

achievement and fulfillment in challenging situations.

Other youth groups have been invited to participate in this adventurous and challenging venture.


Allen not ashamed of Bahamians

Marathon Member of Parliament for the Free National Movement (FNM) Algernon Allen said he was not ashamed of the Bahamian people's choice to knock down the referendum.

At a press conference held by the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) at Church House, Sands Road yesterday, Allen who was invited by the religious body, said that the overwhelming majority of FNM party were influenced by the moral authority of the Council.

With the FNM's "Vote Yes" campaign quashed by the resounding no votes of Bahamians, who evidently crossed party lines in this process, Allen commended the Council for the courageous stand taken by speaking up against the referendum process used by the FNM Government.

"Let me emphatically state that I am not ashamed as some have said, of my country and the people who have voted in this very powerful way. I am proud of what the Bahamian people did in this exercise," said Allen.

He continued that the only thing one should have been ashamed of was the denial of air time by The Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas to the Council in their quest for continuous debate on the proposed referendum.

"That is simply disgraceful," he said.

"That is a matter which we as a nation ought to be ashamed of. I do feel that the Council's authority as the moral compass in this nation has been strengthened in this process and I congratulate my people and the Council for the actions which it took and for the result which is as a consequence of a very powerful consideration of a very religious nation." he said.


Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has denied knowledge of any charges of corruption against Free National Movement Leader-Designate Tommy Turnquest, and Deputy Leader-Designate Dion Foulkes.

When the question was again put to him Thursday during a press conference at Cabinet Office, the Prime Minister said:

"I know of no allegations of corruption against Tommy Turnquest, and I have no evidence of any allegations of corruption against Tommy Turnquest. And I have no evidence of corruption against Dion Foulkes."

He said however, that he had allegations in connection with some contracts being issued by the Ministry of Education headed by Foulkes, but "that did not amount to corruption, even the allegations themselves."

The Prime Minister also said, "It seems to be that we in The Bahamas are able to use this word corruption very loosely.

"When corruption existed on a mass scale, was before I came to office, not on my watch."

The Prime Minister said he would make a statement, in due course, on his findings on the Education contracts.

The allegations first came up following the FNM-leadership race on August 16, 2001, by MP for Marathon Algernon Allen who was subsequently fired from the Ingraham Cabinet.

Turnquest was voted leader-designate, winning 192 votes over Allen's 116 votes.

Allen charged that the country was being led by a "corrupt" Cabinet, that the leader-designate election was improperly influenced by Cabinet ministers determined to achieve a predetermined outcome at any cost.

Allen also charged that breaches of previously agreed rules occurred before and during the election process.

He was then given an ultimatum by Prime Minister Hubert Ingrahm to either resign or be fired.

COB 2002 Job fair

Private and public companies were encouraged to develop in students a positive attitude, good research, analytical skills and habits, for the business world, at the officially opening of the College of Bahamas Job Fair on Thursday.

Under the theme: "Together We Build A Better Nation," Ronald Symonette, undersecretary for the Ministry of Labour and Immigration, said companies must continue to encourage the collaborative partnership of job fairs, and other symposiums to help students.

"It is against this background, under these circumstances that governments are being forced to reshape and incorporate programmes to meet the demands of this new educational landscape," said Symonette to participating companies and students at the Student Affairs Building, Poinciana Drive.

In an interview, Norma Turnquest-Blenman, placement counselor at the college and co-ordinate of the event, said about 30 companies were participating in the event, which was less than last year's count of 41 participating companies. She explained that the outcome was not a disappointment, but she would have preferred if there was more of a balance of participating companies in relation to a student's major.

"My disappointment is that we don't have that balance for some of our other majors, other than business majors," she said.

Moreover, she expressed her appreciation for first time participants such as food restaurants Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Wendy's, who have joined this year for the event.

Held from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., each year the job fair is held by the college to give college students an opportunity to converse and apply for jobs with companies which encompasses their field of studies.

Ingraham off to Australia

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham heads a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) delegation seeking to forge closer ties with Great Britain and resolve political and social unrest in Zimbabwe during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) from March 2 - 5 in Australia.

Yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, CARICOM chairman, left The Bahamas for the meeting in Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Reports from the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana indicated the 15-member body intended to take a united stand in relation to solving the problems in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has been accused of supporting the take-over of white farmlands, suppressing media freedom and criticisms of government, and turning a blind eye to politically-motivated killings, as the country heads into elections March 9 to 10.

The meeting was initially scheduled for Brisbane, Australia from October 6 - 9, 2001, but was postponed because of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

The Commonwealth comprises 54 countries, from Africa to Asia, from Pacific shores to the Caribbean, representing 1.7 billion people, or 30 percent of the world's population.

The modern Commonwealth gradually evolved out of the United Kingdom's imperial past, mainly through decolinization, the effects of two world wars and changing patterns of international relations. It sets out to advance democracy, human rights, sustainable economic and social development within its member countries and beyond.

This meeting is expected to be the largest meeting of international leaders ever held in Australia, representing about 25 per cent of the world's nations and nearly one-third of its population.

In an earlier interview, Prime Minister Ingraham said he hoped to use the occasion to meet with Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair to forge closer ties between the United Kingdom and CARICOM.

BDM keep low profile

Despite major political representation entering polling rooms to survey and record the individual voting process by the public, the Bahamas Democratic Movement (BDM) has decided to keep a low profile until the general elections.

In an interview on Wednesday, Cassius Stuart, BDM leader, and candidate for St. Margaret's, said their representatives were training for the upcoming General elections and the party did not want to politicise this national agenda.

"Its just a matter of yes or no, and so we do not feel the need to pull out any forces or pull out our people on an issue like this," Cassius said.

Moreover, he described the manner of action that the other political parties have taken as being some sort of pre-election training for their representatives to ensure fairness would be upheld during the process. He spoke briefly on the fact that historically elections have been plagued by allegations of cheating and certain anomalies.

"Personally, I think it is a good thing that they can be out here," he said.

Marking his vote, Stuart, a resident of the Garden Hills constituency, arrived at the A.F. Adderley Junior High School, Blue Hills Road, constituency polling division, which is one of the two polling divisions for the constituency, around 10 a.m. The other polling division for the constituency was S.C. McPherson Junior High School.

Batelco Introduces New Billing System

The Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation today announced further details regarding the new Integrated Customer Management System (ICMS) Customer Service and Billing System.

According to Mr. Alfred Phillips, Vice President Marketing "This new computer system will revolutionize customer services and allow our Customer Service Representatives (CSR's) to work more closely with customer requests and inquires. The new ICMS system also features a more sophisticated billing system for ease of reference by our customers".

Ms Sophia Hart-Rolle, Manager of Public Relations said " Our customers will now receive one bill for all services with the exception of BatelNet charges. This will result in our customers receiving more information in a more timely manner with the added convenience of just one bill. We have also introduced a new Customer Reference Number.

Designed to increase information security and customer confidentiality, the new number will replace the use of your current name and telephone number as a reference. This will be a personal account number - just like your bank account."

"The Corporation has also introduced new billing periods" said Mr. Alfred Phillips. "There will now be four separate billing periods per month. We have taken the total number of BaTelCo customers and divided them into four separate groups. One group will be billed week number 1, one group week number 2 etc. This will allow for a more spread out mailing of customers' bills resulting in fewer lines at the cashiers and easier, quicker response to customer inquires." added Phillips.

Mr. Phillips said that the new system bills will begin to be mailed to the Corporation's customers the week of March 4, 2002. The new bills have a new look and include more information than even before.

To help our customers completely understand these changes, a pamphlet will be included with the first mailings explaining all the details of the new bill.

Additionally, the Corporation will begin a media advertising campaign in the local daily newspapers.

"The complete roll-over from the old CSS System to the new ICMS System is expected to take less than sixty days." said Phillips. "We anticipate a smooth transition, however as with the implementation of all new technology and software systems in today's world, glitches can arise. We are now preparing to meet any of these challenges in the areas of 914 or Customer Service Provisioning head-on.

We ask for your support and understanding over the coming weeks as we move to complete the successful introduction of the ICMS System." he added.

BDM Englerston candidate touts 'can do' philosophy

Community empowerment and positive attitudes are high on the list of priorities for Wayne Johnson, Bahamas Democratic Movement candidate for Englerston.

Raised in the area, and now living off Robinson Road, Johnson says his "I Can" principle, and other parts to his 10-point plan, are key to rejuvenating the community in which he was raised, and is now campaigning.

Promising, if elected, to provide business opportunities, teach wealth-creation principles, promote preventative health measures, provide guidance in financial and investment matters, set up a community centre and web page, promote e-commerce and internet knowledge, establish a community cooperative investment group, and set up training and development programmes, his greatest goal lies in the desire to promote his "I Can" principle, through education, inspiration, and motivation.

As a product of the community, he also plans to continue serving as a mentor, particularly for young men.

"A lot of young men, especially in the community of Englerston, feel that with a lack of education, there is no opportunity," says the Ida Street resident, also a computer teacher, who plans to encourage academic, athletic, and artistic accomplishments in the community. "My whole goal is to try to teach these young men, and show these young men that it doesn't matter where you come from, it's what you do that's gonna enhance your life."

Says Johnson, programmes for adults are to include retirement planning, and strengthening skills in the area of technology. Also a motivational speaker, with plans to release a book of motivational poetry, he says his promotion of the "I Can" attitude is key to rejuvenating the area.

"Our Party doesn't have a large sum of money for campaign, so a lot of people, their whole mentality is 'Well, who's Wayne Johnson?' Well, Wayne Johnson lives in the Englerston community, he lives among you, he breathes the same air you breathe, he feels the same pain you feel. But because somebody may come from the outside, who deposits money into their pockets or gives them money to do x-y-z, they may look at that person more favourably . . . if I give him that money right there and then, he comes right back for the same, five years later, for the same amount of money. But if I teach him how to fish, I can feed him for life.

"The whole process (is one) of having people empower themselves, to not look to government, look within themselves," says Johnson. "Create business opportunities in the communities, create cooperatives - just look at yourself."

Airline Passengers Irate Over Protracted Delays

The first 50 persons who checked in for the Bahamasair 3:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon flight from Miami to Nassau never left Miami International Airport until 9 o'clock Sunday night. At that time the passenger count was estimated to be over 200, with those checked in for the 6:55 p.m. and the 9:45 p.m. all milling about.

An agent then announced that two Dash 8's were scheduled to arrive at about 10 p.m. to take 100 persons and then a further announcement would be made. She gave the assurance that all the passengers would be transported to Nassau during the course of the night.

But that was not a good enough explanation for many of the aggravated passengers, some of whom were elderly and some with young children.

"This is absolute foolishness," said a man who had missed a doctor's appointment on Friday when the flight was late leaving Nassau and he was flown into Fort Lauderdale and bussed to Miami. "I was four hours late for an appointment and they were only able to accommodate me on and off between the other scheduled appointments."

This latest round of problems started for Bahamasair on Thursday when an engine aboard one of the airline's Boeing 737 jets blew out after taking off from NIA bound for Freeport, Grand Bahama, and the second jet developed mechanical difficulties while on the ground Sunday at Miami airport.

Also stranded in Miami was the Grammy Award winning group BahaMen, who appeared on the telecast with Regis and Kelly, live from Sun International's Atlantis on Paradise Island.

"It's gonna be rough," said keyboarder Jeff Chea. "We're supposed to be on the set at 6 a.m.... we're gonna be mashed up."

BahaMen made it in to Nassau in time to make the show but the last two flights left Miami at 2:15 a.m. and the remaining passengers had to be accommodated in a hotel for a few hours.

The airline's woes intensified on Monday with only three of its five Dash 8's in service and the flights backed up system-wide and a freighter had to be employed to ferry all the luggage that could not be accommodated on the smaller aircraft.

According to managing Director Paul Major on Sunday, "Every airline has delays, and when they do, the airline has the responsibility to try and get the passengers home."

Bahamasair has been hit with a string of setbacks over the past six months, beginning in August last year when the government had to pay the United States' Internal Revenue Service $6.6 million to prevent it from seizing the airline's assets. On Nov. 24, one of the airline's jets experienced a false fire warning while enroute to Miami and again on Dec. 11, a flight landed safely in Miami after the automatic landing gear had failed to operate.

In January this year the Federal Aviation Administration grounded a Bahamasair jet because of faulty engineering found during an inspection and the airline's management voluntarily took the second jet out of service to undergo a maintenance check.

Sorority Essay Winners Collect Awards At Government House

Ashley Georgina Riley, 11, a sixth grader at North Eleuthera Primary School, and Kavonne Thurston, 16, an eleventh grader at Government High School won first place in the first annual Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. essay competition.

Under the topic: "Challenges In Today's Family: How Do We Overcome Them," the duo accompanied by second and third place winners in their respective school categories, along with family members, were presented with trophies and certificates at Government House, Blue Hill Road, on Sunday.

In an interview, Thurston said the topic was "a little challenging," because there was so much a person could touch on concerning the subject. She mentioned that her motivation for writing the winning essay came from her intimate surroundings, community, and peers who helped her a lot. Moreover, she noted her excitement of winning first place, and admitted that she never expected to win.

"It was a thrill, because it wasn't really my motive to enter it. My teacher kind of coached me into entering it, and I am really thankful and grateful," she said.

On the other hand, Riley, who is also a prefect, was somewhat shy, but mentioned the major support she received in writing her winning essay.

"I had help from my teacher and my father," she said.

According to Colajean Butler, chairperson of the event, primary school students had to write 100 to 200 words, and senior high students had to write 850 to 1000 words.

Also, with the month of February being dubbed as: "Family Month," by the sorority, Butler said this competition was designated to see how children in this country dealt with certain crisis in their respective families.

She noted there were 50 students, 28 from primary schools, participating in the essay competition from various public and private schools in this country. She said the competition allowed three persons from each school to enter the competition. Additionally, she said there would be an increase in the number of students allowed to enter. Moreover, she noted her satisfaction of how the event had progressed.

"I was a bit impressed by the quality of work I received from the children. I was also impressed by the willingness of the persons in the school who allowed the children to participate," Butler said.

According to the organisation, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. is the oldest Greek-letter organisation established by black women. At present, there membership exceeds some 200,000 women in the Caribbean, the United States, Europe, Alaska, Korea, Japan and Africa.

CAPTION: (Left) Ashley Georgina Riley, 11, a sixth grader at North Eleuthera Primary School and (Right) Kavonne Thurston, 16, an eleventh grader at Government High School, both received a trophy and certificate for winning first place in an essay competition held by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at Government House, Blue Hill Road, on Sunday.

Jet Lost Power After Engine 'Overheated' - Bahamasair

A Nassau to Freeport jet with a total of 125 persons on board returned safely on Thursday following an engine malfunction, Bahamasair said in a press release on Sunday.

The airline said that a power loss was noted as one of the cockpit crew heard a "popping sound" from the engine, followed by a rapid increase in engine temperature.

As a precautionary measure, the five-member crew decided to shut down the engine of the B737-200 series aircraft, abort the flight, and return to Nassau.

No one was injured as the flight landed safely at NIA.

According to Bahamasair management, information will be revealed following the company's preliminary investigations into the matter early this week.

"The engine will be sent to a repair facility for tear down, and it is expected that a full report will be generated as to the condition of the engine and the cause of malfunction," Bahamasair managing director Paul Major said in the press statement.

According to Captain Charles Beneby, Bahamasair chief operations officer, aeroplanes which have more than one engine are able to maintain flight on the remaining engine, or engines, and "this aircraft was no exception."

"Commercial pilots are required by law to undergo rigorous training several times a year to ensure their ability to address such eventualities," Captain Beneby said.

Passengers from the flight were accommodated on later flights to their destination.

In January, an estimated $400,000 was spent on a short-term wet-lease agreement between Bahamasair and two Florida airline companies after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded several Bahamasair planes due to repairs needed to be done to them. The repairs took two weeks and cost an estimated of $164,000.

That same month, Bahamasair management noted that a Bahamasair B-737 jet aircraft was grounded at Miami International Airport, and the carrier's engineering personnel were engaged in correcting faults cited by the FAA following an inspection.

This grounding followed two incidents Bahamasair experienced with its B-737 in November and December of last year.

Bahamians Stranded In Florida

More than 100 Bahamians were left stranded for hours in Florida on Sunday after a Bahamasair jet reportedly suffered mechanical problems, forcing the airline to send Dash-8s to pick up passengers.

An inconvenienced passenger called the Guardian yesterday from Fort Lauderdale, Florida around 7 p.m. and reported that passengers scheduled to return to Nassau on the 3:45 p.m. flight were still waiting for Bahamasair to send a 50-seater.

The Guardian contacted Bahamasair's Managing Director Paul Major late Sunday evening, who acknowledged that there were flight delays in both Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports due to the mechanical problems of one of the airline's jets.

"The second jet has some mechanical problems and we're waiting to get some parts to get that fixed and until we do that, we have to use the Dash-8 to try and get the passengers home or try to get them accommodated on another carrier," he said.

"Every airline has delays, and when they do the airline has the responsibility to try and get the passengers home. That's as much as I'm prepared to comment. We are doing our best to get the passengers home as soon as possible," Major continued, adding that the jet should have been repaired and back in service Sunday night.

"Until then, we're going to shuttle the 'Dashes' until we get the passengers home or accommodate the passengers," he said.

This is the second jet in the Bahamasair fleet to have problems within a four-day period said Major, with the first jet still out of service.

"There is some cable line that they are trying to secure and if that is sorted out tonight, the jet will be back in service. This is not a major problem but the plane can't fly without it being repaired. That's where we're at," he said.

Child Center closed

Almost one year after its official opening, the nation's first child protection facility, The Nazareth Center, has not taken in a single child.

The center, which was supposed to receive its first residents within four to six weeks of its opening on May 5, 2001, is a virtual ghost town, with overgrown weeds, open trenches, sand piles, and a deserted playground.

When a Guardian news team visited the four-cottage facility at Millennium Gardens, there were crates and wooden boards sprawled across the rocky area, evidence that construction had come to a halt. In addition, gray storm shutters concealed the windows and the north-western side of the property was not fenced, allowing free and easy access.

The only evidence of a child-friendly environment at the facility was the seven stuffed animals placed in the home's administration building and a painting of a small child with hands clasped in prayer.

The center was intended to be an oasis for 40 abused children, including those who are presently accommodated at the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama.

When The Guardian called the Children's Ward of the Princess Margaret Hospital on Sunday, the on duty Sister said many abandoned children were still living on the ward. They range from new-born to 12-year-olds, she said.

"Our children would tend to go to the Children's Emergency Hostel or the Elizabeth Estates Children's Home. I think I vaguely remember them saying that we would be able to put some children there (Nazareth Center) but I really don't know what happened with that situation," she said.

She explained that she was only in charge of the ward on weekends and was unable to give precise details regarding the placement of children who left the hospital.

The Nazareth Center, she said, would be a "God-send" to the many neglected and abused children whose safety would be jeopardized if they returned home.

Melanie Zonicle, director of the Department of Social Services, was tightlipped when asked about the delay in opening the home.

"There are a number of reasons for that, that I can't share with you at this time," she said, adding that securing contractors was one factor.

She said several local contractors worked on the project, including one who was killed in an accident.

"There are still some buildings that need to be completed and the ministry is now contacting contractors to make sure that those buildings are completed within another month or so and we should be able to occupy the building and get the services in place," said Zonicle.

When asked about the 10-month delay in opening Nazareth House, deputy permanent secretary Allan Strachan, said he was not privy to what was going on with the child protection facility.

The Guardian tried to contact former Minister of Housing and Social Development Algernon Allen who was fired from Cabinet shortly after being defeated in the Free National Movement's leadership elections last summer.

Messages were left at his law office, Allen, Allen and Co, his FNM Marathon headquarters and at his Queen's Road, Nassau East residence, but no calls were returned up to press time.

The Guardian attempted to reach Barbara Burrows, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Social Development but was told she would not be in office until Tuesday.

At the center's opening it was promised that similar child protection facilities would be erected on various family islands. The $2 million "Sanctuary of Healing and Hope", was described as the most important social institution ever conceived by a Ministry in The Bahamas.

Its construction was financed by foreign businessman Philippe Bonnefoy.

Under the Ministry of Housing and Social Development, the center is being operated and managed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese.

Reported cases of neglect, abandonment, physical and sexual abuse, and incest among children rose from 215 in 1990 to 588 in 2000.

There was a total of 522 cases of child abuse for 2001 reported by the Department of Social Services, Child and Welfare Division. Of these, 83 were victims of sexual abuse, 41 were victims of incest, 157 were physically abused, 210 were neglected, 13 were verbally abused and 18 were abandoned.

Cases of unlawful sexual intercourse increased 27 percent and statistics showed there were 77 cases of unlawful sexual intercourse committed during the first quarter of 2001 as compared to the 56 cases for the same period in 2000.

Junkanoo Awards Presentation

A forum will be established to discuss "outstanding concerns" about Junkanoo and ways to improve the event very shortly, announced Theresa Moxey-Ingraham, minister of Public Service and Cultural Affairs, last Saturday.

Speaking at the 22nd annual Junkanoo awards presentation held at the Nassau Marriott Resort and Crystal Palace Casino, the minister said the forum would be seeking feed-back from the public and the Junkanoo committee on this matter.

During her speech to Junkanoo leaders, participants and invited guests, she explained that some of the concerns of the forum would address the following: securing of Junkanoo costumes; mobilizing Junkanoo groups to the parade venue; better managing of the parades under normal and inclement circumstances; the rules; the judging process; and time.

"It is vital that we make a deliberate effort together to take Junkanoo to the next level, locally throughout The Bahamas, and develop meaningful measures and take strategic steps to make Junkanoo more world renown," she said.

Meanwhile, Moxey-Ingraham argued that Bahamians should not rest "on our laurels," neither should they remain stagnant in this country's development of Junkanoo.

Moreover, the minister encouraged Junkanoo leaders and participants "to keep up the good works," to ensure that Junkanoo passes with grade 'A' inspection every year. Additionally, she argued that it was a person's duty as a Bahamian and caretakers of "this great cultural heritage," to cultivate and harvest the best fruit of "our cultural labour".

She explained that the production, marketing, and delivery of Junkanoo must be timely, appealing and tasty for local, regional and international consumption.

"We must educate and pass on this uniquely Bahamian legacy to the present and future generations," she said.

After the Junkanoo parades several problems and concerns arose from Junkanoo leaders due to the cold and rain for the start of Boxing Day Junkanoo, Dec. 26, that postponed the event until that evening, and the New Year's Day Junkanoo Parade, January 1st, was held three days later.

Constitutional amendments good for The Bahamas - PM

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said the proposed amendments to the Constitution would make The Bahamas a better, fairer and more just country.

And he stressed that that there was no political advantage to be gained by any group by the adoption of a constitutional amendment removing discrimination from our Constitution.

Ingraham made the comments during a Free National Movement vote "yes" campaign in Matthew Town, Inagua last week.

He said the amendments would bring The Bahamas in line with the practice of democratic, western countries with whom it cooperated internationally, including CARICOM, the Organization of American States and the United Nations.

"They (amendments) will endorse the principles of good governance, respect for human rights and deepened democracy promoted and supported in the Commonwealth," he said as he encouraged eligible persons to vote "yes" on Referendum Day, Feb. 27, 2002.

The amendments would benefit Bahamian women regardless of their political affiliation, level of education, profession or marital status, Ingraham said, dubbing the exercise worthy of their full support.

Defending the Government's determination to move forward with the amendments, Ingraham said: "For those who wish to do good and to act correctly, any time is opportune. For those who seek to harbour all benefit to themselves and their friends alone, no time is favorable."

Ingraham said that during the Government's nine-year tenure, they sought to fulfill the promises of the Bahamian people.

These included eliminating discrimination against Bahamian women in our laws and in our Constitution, eradicating political victimization, and the introduction of local government.

He added that the FNM Government not only created opportunities for economic empowerment of ordinary citizens, but also deepened democracy and freed the airwaves from Government monopoly.

Ingraham continued that Government also improved infrastructure, upgraded public utility services, improved health care services and also improved the maintenance of expanded educational facilities.

"We did not in 1992 say where we would begin, nor what would be the last item to be pursued. We commenced and have proceeded diligently to deliver on all our promises to the Bahamian people. We have proceeded in good faith, we have honoured our pledges, kept our word and delivered better for all Bahamians," he said.

"We have been guided by the principle that it is never too early to do the right thing; that it is never too early to do good and that it cannot be too early to cause full equality to be observed in the laws and in the Constitution of our country," he said.

The votes of the Opposition during parliament said Ingraham will forever be recorded in the annals of history as "yes".

"It is only you, if you vote no, whose votes will be recorded as a vote against removing discrimination from our Constitution and vote against deepening our democracy," he said, adding that he believed the Opposition changed its mind because they were either just being mischievous or jealous.

"Jealous that in 26 years as Government they never thought to change those Articles of our Constitution which had become outdated and which no longer met the needs of our people; or mischief because they are increasingly desperate for power," Ingraham continued.

He said that the Opposition had no fresh ideas to bring to the Bahamian people and were dedicated to a campaign of misinformation to confuse the Bahamian people.

Ingraham added that there was discrimination in the Constitution against married Bahamian women whose foreign spouses were not entitled to status nor the right to reside. He said the Constitution was also riddled with discrimination against children born to a Bahamian woman and her foreign husband outside of The Bahamas, who were not automatically Bahamian citizens.

"Some people claim that you need more time to think about this; need more time to decide if you believe that all God's children are equal and ought to be treated as equal under the law and under our Constitution. I don't believe that Bahamians need time to decide if God's children are all created equal," said Ingraham.

"I know that many people hold strong views on the question of the equality of men and women. Some of these views are grounded in tradition and culture; others are pegged to biblical understandings; or dare I say, misunderstanding. And, yet, other views are held out of fear or nationalism," he said.

Dupuch has strong vision for Out Islands

Member of Parliament Pierre Dupuch has a dream, and that is to see the Out Islands of The Bahamas grow and prosper and take their place in the sun after too many years of neglect.

"I've looked sometimes with frustration at this because not a tremendous amount has been accomplished when you talk about The Bahamas as a whole... When you talk about the Southeastern Bahamas, you're still running into situations where you go down there now and you have 10 houses and eight of them are boarded up," said Dupuch, who is running as the Independent candidate for St. Margaret's in the upcoming elections.

As a former Minister of Agriculture, he worked tirelessly to develop viable businesses to help these communities prosper. He said he remains devoted to this goal as he campaigns for another term, not only because it makes sense for the Out Islands, but because it also makes sense for Nassau.

"This is the way you spread people back to the islands and you get rid of the congestion in Nassau. A lot of politicians for many years have talked about the population explosion, because that's a popular phrase for today. Actually, we're underpopuiated. I always say it's not a population explosion, it's mental implosion on the part of the leaders of this country," said Dupuch. "You could make it so attractive on an island that you don't want to live in Nassau, you want to go back to the island. So this is what you do, you make things attractive in these various islands and the people start going back to them and very quickly you find that you're under-populated, not overpopulated. It takes care of the social problems, congestion, frustrations and all sorts of things like that." As Minister of Agriculture he did just this, implementing a banana policy that was not popular with wholesalers in the beginning, but soon proved to be a success story for both growers and consumers, the MP said.

"I started the banana policy, and a lot of people criticized me for it, but the reason was that the wholesaler in The Bahamas had refused to buy any local bananas and the farmer here was just virtually starving to death," said Dupuch. He initially tried to encourage wholesalers to buy what they could locally and then buy foreign, but that didn't work. "I finally put a ban on it and within a year production in bananas had more than doubled. It had probably tripled. The quality had gone up tremendously," he said. Dupuch was working on resolving shipping problems from far-flung islands such as Long Island when the Prime Minister changed his portfolio, but one success story stands out in his mind.

"One of the things that impressed me most of all was that Long Island had grown a tremendous amount of bananas, and a hurricane wiped out the entire crop. I went down there and I saw some people that I knew from Nassau riding around in a truck. I said, 'What are you doing in Long Island, I thought you were working in Nassau.' They were from Long Island. They said, 'Look Minister, once you made it profitable for us and worthwhile for us, we find it far better at home because we don't have to fool with congestion, crime and all sorts of things, so we're down here growing bananas."

For Dupuch, the possibilities in the Out Islands are only limited by the imagination, and by government inaction and neglect. "This country has tremendous opportunity for people who want to work at it and want to live here and make it grow and be strong and really be prosperous," said the Independent MP. "If you look at the islands here and the possibilities here it's just mind boggling. I get rather excited when I talk about it. Because all you have to do is sit down and use your imagination and rather than saying 'We can't do it,' just say 'Let's do it'."

Canadian High Commissioner visits Guardian

A political/economic counselor for the Canadian High Commission inquired about some of the social and economic issues in The Bahamas on Wednesday.

In a courtesy call to The Nassau Guardian's senior management, Canadian representative from Kingston, Jamaica, Robert Richard, 52, said these visits were a way of "taking the pulse of the country." Only his second visit, Richard discussed issues such as the upcoming Referendum; the September 11 terrorist bombing in the United States; Jamaican and Bahamian politics; Hurricane Michelle's effect on both countries; the Organization of Corporation of Economic Development (OCED); Haiti and illegal immigrants; and the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA).

"Its more or less an occasion to keep in touch with some of my local government contacts, essentially in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," he said.

Moreover, he gave an overview of the post September 11 event which had struck the fast-paced world-wide economy to a slow crawl, and created some anxiety in this country. But, noted his happiness to know that The Bahamas was on the road to recovery from the event, and that tourism was slowly increasing.

"This is the vast difference from my first visit, when a year and a half ago, everybody was gunho and very positive. There is now a sense of vulnerability, because of what has happened in September," he said.

Richard was expected to be traveling back to his office in Jamaica some time today. Overall, the Canadian High Commission has diplomatic mission for overseeing The Bahamas, Belize and Jamaica.

Farrington Rd man charged on robbery with violence

A 22-year-old man charged on robbery with violence appeared before Magistrate Marilyn Meeres yesterday to answer the count.

Dwight Anthony Smith of Farrington Road is believed to have robbed Delores Bethel while at Millie's Place of a black handbag valued at $40 that contained a U.S. passport, a Visa card, an ATM card and other personal effects.

Smith was not required to plead to the charge and bail was denied. He was remanded to prison until April 25 for a preliminary inquiry.

Another person that was expected to be charged in the court was a handyman from Pine Dale Road. Police said that Antonio Mackey, 23, at about 1:45 p.m. on Feb.14 at the mentioned address intentionally and unlawfully caused damage to a Craftsman wood chipper, a Kenmore lawn mower and two Craftsman battery charges altogether valued at $4,960.

He failed to appear in court and a warrant of arrest was issued.

Stephen Anderson pleaded not guilty to charges of house breaking and stealing from a dwelling house.

It was alleged that the 37-year-old on Feb. 15 broke and entered the dwelling place of Alecia Rolle located at Palm Beach Street and Wilson Tract.

He is believed to have stolen one RCA card with a sleeve valued at $525 and two CDs valued at $40.

The mentioned items were received on the same date. Anderson was granted $2,000 bail and is expected to return to court on April 25.

In matters before Magistrate Susan Sylvester of Court 3, John Arthur Dames was charged with two separate counts of stealing.

On the first count the 35-year-old of Fritz Lane is believed to have stolen from Bahamas Development Bank, West Bay Street one Lipton Soothing moments tea, two Celestial seasons tea, one bottle of Champereureux merlot wine, a bottle of Palmolive dish liquid and one Nature's own air freshener spray valued at $42.

He pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a $350 fine or serve two months in prison.

On the second charge Dames pleaded not guilty to a charge that while at the Bahamas Development Bank he allegedly stole $150 from Tracey Wilson.

The accused was granted $2,500 bail and the case was adjourned to Feb. 26.

Bahamas takes lead in protecting ozone

The Bahamas is taking the lead in the region to phase out ozone-depleting substances (0DS) by the year 2007 and halt the usage of chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) by Jan. 1, 2008.

Apart from Malaysia, The Bahamas will be the only country in the world to phase out ODS before the global deadline of 2010.

Towards this end, a two-day Customs training workshop on "Monitoring and Controlling Imports of Ozone Depleting Substances" got underway Monday at the Sir Cecil Wallace Whitfield Building. The workshop, a first in The Bahamas, comprised of Customs, Police and Defence Force officers, was organized by The Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission (BEST).

During the opening ceremony, Michael Turner, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Health, said the Terminal Phaseout Management Plan (TMP) developed by BEST and the National Ozone Unit of the Ministry of Health, consisted of a series of three Action Programmes each covering 24 months.

He said that the TMP sought to, among other things, monitor the movements of ozone-depleting substances, including CFCs, in and out of the country.

Turner said that CFCs, found in aerosols, foams, refrigerants, air conditioners, and fire extinguishers have contributed greatly to ozone depletion and may have contributed to the hole in the ozone layer discovered in 1985.

The discovery had a profound effect on scientific thinking about damage to the environment, confirming the fears of environmentalists who claimed since the early 1970s that the ozone layer could be damaged by high-flying aircraft, the increased use of fertilizers, and, particularly, industrial processes that released CFCs into the atmosphere.

Since the total amount of ozone, spread unevenly between nine and twenty-five miles above the earth is very thin, and there is so relatively little of it, it can be severely depleted by human activities.

According to Turner, in 2000 the country reported use of 65.9 tons of CFC or about 12% above its 1999 freeze level target with the mobile air conditioning sector accounting for approximately 60% of the overall consumption.

Considering that the ozone layer protects life on the planet from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun, he said, if depletion of the ozone continues, disastrous effects may occur.

"Increase in levels of UV-B radiation can result in the increase in skin cancers, suppressions of the immune system, exacerbate eye disorders, including cataracts, and also lead to reduced crop yields, disruptions in the marine food chain, negative effects on animals and plastic materials," said Turner.

He said that this must be avoided, and the workshop will steer The Bahamas forward to sustainable development.

Colin Higgs, Ambassador of the Environment and Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said that all levels of society have a role to play in safeguarding the earth's ozone layer.

He said that the workshop was a step forward in the Bahamas' commitment to the Montreal Protocol signed in 1987 by 182 other countries to tackle the problem of manufactured ozone-depleting substances.

"Through your training and commitment to the tasks at hand, The Bahamas can successfully meet its mandate to monitor, control and eventually eliminate the use of ozone-depleting substances," he said.

Participants will engage in discussions on such topics as: Status of Proposed Import/Export Licensing System; Information on importers, wholesalers and end-users; Historical and allowable import quantities; Record-keeping and reporting; Detecting Illegal Smuggling of ODs.

The sessions will be conducted by Bruce Pasfield, US Department of Justice; Mike Dolphin, former US Customs Agent and Ron Sibley, US Department of Defense.

Sir Sidney's Roots

What is it about Cat Island that fills her children with such pride? That causes them to claim her, to boast of her with such confidence? Is it the mystery and tranquility of this slender isle? The culture and deep-rooted sense of historical importance? Even her adopted children cannot help but feel the strong pull that is the bond between mother and child.

Sir Sidney Poitier is one such child, whose love for his homeland is evidenced by his numerous contributions to Cat Island and Bahamian society. Through his many acts of kindness ranging from social visits to scholarships, Sir Sidney has represented the generosity of Cat Island and demonstrated that he has not, nor will he ever, forget his homeland. Sir Sidney once said, "My earliest years in life were spent in The Bahamas, so I sent very deep roots into the culture of The Bahamas,"

Born in Miami Florida in 1924, this actor/director/writer has arrived in 2002 with a good many accomplishments under his belt. Indeed, he has earned more titles than actor/director/writer. Sir Sidney could also justifiably introduce himself as role model/pioneer/maker of history. Among his groundbreaking achievements, Poitier was the first black man to be nominated for an Academy Award. He was nominated for his performance in The Defiant Ones (1958) and he won his first Academy Award in 1963 for Lilies of the Field. Sir Sidney has either appeared in, starred in, or directed over fifty motion pictures and is the author of at least two published works: This Life, and The Measure of A Man: A Spiritual Autobiography.

Sidney Poitier is the recipient of numerous honours and awards including four Honorary Doctorate degrees, five NAACP Image Awards and two Golden Bear Awards. He is affiliated with, among others, the Screen Actors Guild, the Director's Guild of America, the American Film Institute, the American Museum of the Moving Image and 100 Black Men of Los Angeles.

His list of accomplishments does not stop there. In 1975 Poitier's talents were recognized for what they were: extraordinary. He received his knighthood and stepped into the shoes of 'Sir Sidney'. He was made a Knight Commander (Honorary) in The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire "for his contribution in the performing arts through which he enhanced the image of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas."

PM's secretary retires after 32 years of service

Colleagues and friends yesterday paid tribute and bid farewell to Helen Smith, personal assistant to Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.

"Mrs. Smith has been a model public servant who provided stellar public service to all," said Wendall Major, secretary to the Cabinet.

Throughout the luncheon she was serenaded by friends , presented with gifts, tokens of love and appreciation. Described by colleagues as dedicated, loyal and dependable, Helen Smith's career began in 1963, when she was appointed clerk in Rock Sound, Eleuthera. Resigning in June of 1966, she was then re-appointed Clerk Grade II in the Audit Department. Later she was promoted to private secretary Grade I. Many promotions followed including that of Executive Secretary and then Chief Executive Secretary.

In January of 1983 she was promoted to Personal Assistant and transferred to the Personal Staff Establishment of the Prime Minister

After being transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister she remained there until retiring. While working in the Prime Minster's Office she received several awards and promotions.

Responding to the accolades of praise, Smith said that it now seemed as if her life was put on hold for the last 32 years and she is now free to do whatever she chooses. "The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine, so continue to strive to be honest, loyal and committed always," said Smith.

Dr Earle Farrington Wins Golden Heart Award

Dr. I. Earle Farrington MBE, the first Bahamian consultant surgeon, was presented with the Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award at the Heart Ball Saturday in the Crown Ballroom, Paradise Island.

Presenting the award, Mr. R. E. Barnes, chairman of the Bahamas Heart Foundation saluted Dr Farrington as a modem day Good Samaritan.

He is a man who has given of himself in many fields towards helping those in need... It has been said he is the father of modern surgery in The Bahamas, and a modern day Good Samaritan because of his commitment to helping the poor and underprivileged. His life is one of achievements: when there were challenges, he saw opportunities.

"Above all," said Mr. Barnes, "he is a modest man of quiet speech, his patients gravitate to him as a person whose excellence in medicine and high professional competency is more than that of a humanitarian than a physician. He would never refuse to treat the poor even if it meant he would never be paid."

Accepting the award, Dr. Farrington said it encourages him to continue to be of service.

"It gives me great pleasure and I'm humbled by those before me who received it. This encourages to me continue to be of service."

A former head boy of Government High School, Dr. Farrington left Nassau to attend medical school in Glasgow, Scotland, after working to put his way through school.

Hospitalized with a broken arm as a child, Dr. Farrington had been inspired by the doctors and nurses who cared for him to pursue a career in medicine.

When he was granted a scholarship to study medicine at Glasgow University, it required a special Private Members' Bill to be passed by the then House of Assembly before he could be granted a government scholarship.

After completing his studies in Glasgow in 1953, he came a lecturer at the University of Glasgow and in 1962, became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Returning to Nassau in 1963, he joined the Princess Margaret Hospital, becoming the first Bahamian Consultant Surgeon. He served as Head of the Department of Surgery for 20 years and has continued to devote his expertise and energies towards improving health standards in the Bahamas.

Presently in private surgical practice, Dr. Farrington is best described as a doctor of the old fashioned type. "He went into medicine with a real desire to help others, not with a view to get rich," said Mr. Barnes.

Noting that he is much loved by patients, Mr. Barnes said Dr. Farrington is "renowned for his comforting words of guidance and known to go well beyond the call of duty."

hen medical care in the Bahamas was in its early states, Dr. Farrington was instrumental in introducing innovative plans to help modern clinical practices throughout the health care system.

Awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1992, Dr. Farrington was also a Gold Medal Recipient in the field of medicine in the Bahamas Silver Jubilee Celebrations in 1992.

He has served as Consultant to the Health Planning Team with the Ministry of Health and is presently the first Chairman of the Health Professions Council, a newly established Board to regulate professionals working in The Bahamas.

In 1992, Dr. Farrington was inducted as an Honorary Fellow of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Academy of Medical Sciences.

He was also appointed a member of the Police Services Commission, where he continues to serve.

Dr. Farrington attends St. Michael's Methodist Church where he attends Bible Study and serves on the Staff Congregational Relations Committee.

Married to the former Melanie Archer, he has two sons and two grandchildren.


Lady Edith Turnquest, Co-Patron of the Bahamas National Child Abuse Prevention Committee attended a reception this week hosted by the Ministry for Housing and Social Development and British High Commissioner, Peter Heigl for Mr. David Newton and Ms Wilma Bartlett trainers from the UK's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to children (NSPCC).

The Reception provided an opportunity for over 100 Bahamian professionals attending the NSPCC seminars to meet and network in an informal atmosphere. The evening's entertainment was provided by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Pop Band.

The British NSPCC trainers are visiting Nassau and Freeport to conduct a series of seminars and workshops arranged by the Department of Social Services and Royal Bahamas Police Force for officers involved in all aspects of child protection.

The overall theme for the visit is on "strengthening the protective network in The Bahamas for children at risk" and the seminars will involve professionals from many different fields concerned with child protection. Discussion groups will include teachers, social and healthcare workers, the police and church youth leaders and have been designed to raise awareness of community responsibilities for dealing with child abuse concerns under Bahamas existing child protection laws. The seminars will also seek to encourage greater collective networking to ensure that cruelty to children is reported as early as possible, that care and counseling is available to those damaged and, for the longer term, that more concerted programmes of action can be developed to eliminate child abuse.

Picture Shows: Mrs. Sandra Dean-Patterson, Director of the Crisis Centre; Mr. David Newton, NSPCC; Ms Wilma Bartlett, NSPCC; Sir Orville Turnquest; Lady Edith Turnquest; Supt. Quinn McCartney, Commandant RBPF Police Training College; and Ms Mellany Zonicle, Director of Social Services.

Catholics chart new waters

Delegates within the Catholic Archdiocese were yesterday advised that to fulfil the soul-winning purpose of the church, they risked abandoning certain traditions.

At the opening liturgy of the Archdiocesan Assembly 2002 held at St Joseph Church, Boyd Road, Archbishop Lawrence Burke charged Catholics to have courage and step out in faith to renew and invigorate the church and the nation.

The assembly, which boasts the theme, "Put Out Into the Deep", runs from February 17-22, and will include delegates from Catholic churches within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Burke told the congregation that God's covering would be the light of the depths they will endeavour although there might be some trepidation and skepticism.

But in order to pursue a new evangelical organisation of our culture, some risks must be taken, he said.

During the week-long meeting, said Burke, they would be challenged to make choices and decisions regarding the church.

Courage, he said, was not borne of our own strength but it came from God's sustained promise and His love.

Burke admonished Catholics to put their trust in God as He spoke to them through their imagination and meditations.

As the 21st century progressed, he said, the steps of the church must quicken to "put out into deep waters and allow the Lord to surprise us with a big catch of fish."

He said that in truth, fear was often transformed to courage and life, followed by a move of the Lord. Local history and the sacred scriptures testified to facing challenges head-on by taking risks to conquer primary purposes, he continued.

Burke said that as Jesus looked down from heaven upon a sin-sick world, He left the comforts of normalcy according to His glory, and took on the risk of humanity just to save our sins.

"Jesus put out into the deep waters by coming to save us. God's courage will be the light in those depths," he said, adding the in the deep consists of confusion and crisis and conflict.

However he said that it is within these depths that faith was strengthened and light emerged from the darkness if God was allowed to sustain the human heart.

Farmer Cumberbatch

A local farmer said Government needs to take a more positive approach to agriculture , become more involved in this aspect of industry "and stop playing.

The farmer argued that the Government was not doing enough to ensure farm labourers, equipment, and farming lands for Bahamians.

"It's about time they build a nation, and get serious about agriculture and fishing," charged Paul Cumberbatch, 52, a farmer for 32 years, on Friday. "Politics is just about everything they do."

Speaking on behalf of several other concerned farm owners, he admitted that the majority of farm workers who worked on Bahamian farms were Haitian nationals. He said Bahamians do not have the desire to become farm labourers, and therefore farm owners must request labourers from the Labour Board, Ministry of Labour and Immigration, for Haitian workers.

Cumberbatch added that it was a very tedious process of having a Haitian national receive a work permit to work on the farms.

He stated: "First of all you would have to come to place your advertisement in the newspaper. Then, you would have to carry the advertisement to the Ministry of Labour where you would have to apply to the Labour Board for consideration, which would take about four weeks or two months."

Furthermore, he argued that the Board would not give the farmers the work permit forms even after a period of time has passed, until they were satisfied that no one called for the position.

But even more frustrating, he explained, was that after a farmer would have received and filled-out the form, he or she would still have to wait two weeks before a decision from the director of the ministry to grant the permit.

"But, that doesn't even guarantee you a success with Immigration," he claimed. "When you go to Immigration they can still refuse you."

He further argued that a farmer would have to get an Immigration form to fill-out plus take four photos of the Haitian national which would all be added to the Labour Board letter including a police record and health certificate.

After processing the information for the Haitian labourer, he said, a request would have to be made to Vernon Burrows, Director of Immigration to allow the labourer to work.

"After you wait a year or two years, sometimes even four years, they tell you no," he argued.

Fully aware of the Haitian problems faced in this country, he explained that the problem has been around since he was a farmer in his 20s. He added that the greater Haitian community was within Abaco, the constituency which Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham represents.

"You would see a lot of Haitians there (Abaco) and he hasn't done much about that or in Freeport and that is where the Government is strong. So if the Government was really serious about this problem they should had started in Abaco then go to Freeport," he said.

However, he charged that Haitian nationals only used The Bahamas as a transit point to the United States, and considered the Haitian problem to be an American concern and not this country's real concern.

Additionally, he said, within construction and also landscaping were filled with Haitian labourers and not Bahamian labourers.

Meanwhile, he noted that two tractors at an estimated cost of $14 million which were used from the Bahamas Agricultural Research Centre (BRAC) in this country, have not been working for several years. He explained that the tractors were used to plough the ground for the planting of crops and clearing fields.

"There were two sent to BARC for use and all two of them are broken down because of parts," he said. "It was promised by Simeon Pinder, assistant director (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries) four years ago that he was going to fix it and make it available to the farmers and today it hasn't been fixed."

He noted the $50 million dollar road project the Government has undertaken, stressing that they could have easily spent $2million to buy some equipment to be used in agriculture.

Moreover, he claimed that during the Government's nine year period in governing this country, more land should have been already made available for young persons to venture into the agricultural business.

Additionally, he charged that more land should have been made available for Bahamians to farm.

"Agriculture is a necessity of building a country, building a nation. Without agriculture we have no nation and diversification is very important at this time, especially when our bank secrecy has been destroyed," he said.

James Knowles, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Earl Deveaux, Minister of Immigration and Labour, could not be reached for comment.

Farmers' Integrity Questioned

Minister of Agriculture James Knowles charged that the request for electricity by local farmers is questionable as some farmers have reportedly built homes and rental apartments on the property leased to them by the Government.

At a town meeting held at the S.C. McPherson High School Tuesday night, local farmers told of the economic devastation created by Hurricane Michelle and requested government assistance with their problems.

Some farmers requested that electricity be provided on their property to help increase the water pressure in the animals' feeding stalls.

However, Knowles alleged some farmers obtained government agricultural leases with no intention of farming on the property.

"Since I've been in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for about a year, I have concluded unfortunately that a disproportionate number of people applied for and obtained these agricultural leases with no intention whatsoever of farming any land. They want it for building on or they want it for excavation. We're going to come to terms with that soon," he said, adding that properties owned by the government were not for sale.

"When it's time to go you have to move your house. Please don't build on the property. The lease that you have with the Government or the agreement entitles you to farm the land only. Be careful. You have no right to put any permanent structure on the property and if you do that, you do that at your own peril because once the lease expires, the house and the land goes back to the Government," Knowles added.

"When it's time to go you have to move your house. Please don't build on the property. The lease that you have with the Government or the agreement entitles you to farm the land only. Be careful. You have no right to put any permanent structure on the property and if you do that, you do that at your own peril because once the lease expires, the house and the land goes back to the Government," Knowles added.

Speaking of the Government's property on Cowpen Road, he said: "I know what's going on over there. All kind of mansions were built over there. It's perfectly illegal. You could build a shade but don't build no three-bedroom house on it."

The farmers suggested that extension officers be sent out to the various farms to investigate such issues, and to advise farmers so that they would know what precautions to take before making investments of that nature.

He said that the ministry has fallen short in providing extension officers to the local farmers.

It was also noted by the farmers that they depended heavily on Government to market their products.

"I noted that some farmers woke up one morning and felt like planting when August came and September came. But when they were thinking about planting, they should have also been thinking about who was going to buy it from them," Pinder continued.

"There is a sneaky suspicion when we see the level of development and the mansions go up and the duplexes and the rental units, some of us ask if you want electricity for the pigs or do you want it for the duplexes. This clouds the issue and makes it more difficult to deal with," he said.

One farmer asked whether it was possible to get assistance in getting a truck for his farm but Knowles said that area has been so abused by farmers that stricter regulations were implemented.

This area has been so abused in Nassau and the Family islands that the Ministry of Finance has taken hold of the reins he said.

Pinder intervened that Hurricane Michelle was not as devastating to farmers as was Hurricanes Lily, Floyd and Andrew and the time to put in certain complaints about uprooted trees had expired.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but this is really the first hurricane you've had in New Providence for a very long time. In terms of what has happened to the other islands, nothing happened in New Providence. It is very hard of us to hear what you're saying because Floyd was $50 million. This one was not as serious because the total for the country was only around $5 million," said Pinder.

"I'm hearing you about what has occurred as a result of Hurricane Michelle and you really did get a hurricane this time. But compared to what the other farming communities experienced, you really didn't have a hurricane. In terms of the degree of loss, don't scream too loudly because you really didn't get hit until this last one," he said.

Another town meeting is scheduled with the farmers for next month.

'To Sir, with love'

'An outpouring of love, honour and appreciation surrounded Rev. Dr. Charles Saunders, 72, on Valentine's Day during a lavish luncheon for his retirement as an educator, and from certain key positions in the Baptist faith.

Highlight of the day was when Speaker of the House of Assembly Italia Johnson donated $50,000 over a 10-year period to the Charles Saunders Scholarship Fund.

This honour came on the heels of a two-mile road connecting Pinewood Gardens to Sea Breeze, christened the 'Charles Saunders Highway' by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.

Under the theme: "To Sir, With Love", the three-hour function was sponsored by The Jordan Prince Williams Baptist School, where Saunders served as principal for 23 years. Overall, he has dedicated 54 years of service to education in The Bahamas.

A humble but forthright Saunders thanked administrators, staff, teachers and students for the occasion.

"My dear friends, my ministers, for the love, affection admiration and good-will you have so lavishly showered upon and demonstrated towards me yesterday and today, I am exceedingly and eternally grateful," Saunders said.

"This luncheon is a fitting climax for 23 years of what one would term in theological jargon, 'a wilderness journey' at Prince Williams."

The special event was held under the patronage of Governor General Dame Ivy Dumont, her husband Reginald Dumont, and Reverend Dr. William Thompson, president of Bahamas National Baptist Missionary & Educational Convention Incorporated.

About 325 persons, some decked out in the traditional red and white Valentine's Day colours, gathered in the ballroom at Nassau Marriott Crystal Palace Resort & Casino to pay tribute to "a model public officer, exemplary citizen, and godly man".

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham in his Keynote address highlighted the achievements of "this multi-talented man" in church, school and the community.

The Prime Minister said he was also pleased to accept the invitation of the school to join them in this special occasion when they paid "well-deserved tribute to an outstanding Bahamian who is not only a prince of the Baptist Church in The Bahamas, but who, during a career spanning almost a quarter of a century, made an important contribution to the furtherance of education in our country".

Saunders retired as principal of the Jordan Prince William School in December, 2001. He is also retired from the presidency of The Bahamas National Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, a post which he relinquished in 1998 following 17 years of dedicated service.

He is also a retired civil servant.

"For many years, Saunders has been an icon in the Baptist movement in The Bahamas," the Prime Minister said.

Saunders served as advisor to Government on education, on the Board of the College of The Bahamas, on the Advisory Council to the Minister of Education, vice-chairman of the 1993 Task Force on Education, and chairman of the Implementation Committee of that Task Force.

The Prime Minister said it was not surprising that under Saunder's watch, as President of The Bahamas National Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, that C. W. Saunders High School was established, in 1988, and the Bahamas Baptist Community College, in 1995.

A past director of the Central Bank of The Bahamas, Saunders gained wide public service administrative experience culminating in his appointments as Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education in 1975, a position from which he retired in 1977.

Saunders also provided "stellar services and leadership" as chairman of the Police Services Commission from 1992 to the present, the Prime Minister noted.

Ingraham pointed out that in the final quarter of the 20th Century, Saunders followed, with some considerable success, in the footsteps of Bahamian Baptist giants such as the late Rev. Dr. Harcourt W. Brown, the Rev. Talmage Sands, and the Rev . Reuben E. Cooper Sr.

"Like his predecessors in the church, Saunders has sought to promote respect for, and protection of, the rights and the dignity of God's people in The Bahamas," the Prime Minister added. "Throughout his life, he stood for improving the lot of those least able to assist themselves, the young, the elderly, the disenfranchised. His fearless stance in opposition to the inbred inequalities and prejudices which blighted our country during the period of minority government form an important part of our history," Ingraham added.

"His corporate efforts contribute, in no small way, to the peaceful social revolution which led to radical change in the lives and prospects of tens of thousands of Bahamians, Baptists and non-Baptist alike."

The Prime Minister also revered Saunders as a powerful and dynamic pulpiteer, who decided early in life that he would commit his life to the service of God and of his fellow-man in The Bahamas.

As an educator, the Prime Minister noted that under the "wise leadership" of Saunders, the Jordan Prince Williams Baptist School had evolved into a state-of-the-art academic institution.

And, he also credited the erudite scholar for influencing the "progressive steps" in education, particularly since the Free National Movement became the government in 1992.

The luncheon was complimented with special presentations and gifts from various clergymen, who flourished under Saunders' guidance. Music was rendered by the JPWBS Ensemble, accompanied by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band.

PM Opens Complex In South Beach

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham yesterday officially opened the South Beach Town Center Complex, on East Street South.

The complex which houses the South Beach Library, the South Beach Post Office and the South Beach Health Clinic, cost an estimated $6 million.

"Our aim in developing Town Centers in New Providence suburbs like South Beach, was to remove unnecessary inconveniences from the lives of the residents of new and expanding suburban neighbourhoods in New Providence," said Ingraham as he addressed parliamentarians, and civil servants at the complex.

He mentioned that the cost of the clinic was more than $4 million, excluding equipment and furniture. Additionally, he said the facility was more than 13,000 square feet including the utility room.

Construction of the building was done by Reg Hut Construction Co. Ltd., and Livingston Forbes of the Ministry of Public Works served as project architect.

Ingraham said the clinic would offer a variety of health facilities including a two patient bay accident and emergency section, diagnostic radiology services, ophthalmology and audio-logy services laboratory services, four dental operatories, and a pharmacy.

The clinic was opened last March, and operates from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

"I believe this clinic is likely to serve as the prototype for the next level of primary health care facilities to be built in The Bahamas," he said.

Additionally, with an estimated construction cost of $2 million, the South Beach Post Office, which has 3,000 mail boxes and a library, which is the 10th in New Providence, were established to enhance services to residents in the area.

Ingraham revealed that the Organization of American States (OAS) had given a total of $130,000 over a period of time towards the upgrade of library facilities in The Bahamas.

He said the funds would be used to purchase computer hardware and software, and projectors, scan-jets and screens.

There were future plans for new postal facilities for Grand Cay and Marsh Harbour, Abaco; Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera; Farmer's Hill, Exuma; and Paradise Island, he said.

Also, he mentioned that funds would be allocated to conduct assessments of libraries, and to bring Family Island personnel to Nassau for additional training.

Rita Pratt is Independent candidate for St Margaret

Former school teacher, Rita Pratt, 49, a local entrepreneur for 20 years, at her Kemp Road residence on Wednesday, announced her candidacy for the St. Margaret constituency.

She said that she still sees herself as having a good chance of winning, despite the overwhelming odds of prominent heavy-weight political parties vying for the seat.

"I am from the area, I'm respected by the area," Pratt said. "I have already started my campaigning."

A member of the Kemp Road community for 49 years, and a former teacher at Palmdale Primary School and H.O. Nash Junior High School, Pratt said that the St. Margaret constituency was at a standstill, and there was a need to take the constituency to another level.

She said that she has not bothered associating herself with any of the more prestigious parties in the country, because in her opinion, in most political parties, people were chosen to join because of who they knew.

"I don't want nobody to choose me by who I know. I want them to choose me by what I can offer my community. What is happening in our country is that if you do not know somebody you are not going to get a nomination," she charged. "People who have talent and have programmes to offer the country and the parties that doesn't want to accept them, I endorse them to go out, become independent candidates, you will still make a contribution to your country."

With the motto, "A Celebration of Junkanoo Everyday," Pratt's business, the Kemp Road Community Junkanoo Souvenir Manufacturing Cultural Center, Pyfrom Road, was cited as an example for more Bahamians to follow, especially residents in the constituency.

"I want to see small cottage industry developed in the Kemp Road area that will help women to make money, and even those who are working can have their own little cottage industry to supplement their income while working," she said.

Additionally, Pratt explained, men and women would become a part of the Junkanoo aspect of the cultural industry.

In viewing her local business, her cultural products were observed to include discarded materials such as soda cans, and empty 16-ounce water bottles used to create colourful crepe paper Junkanoo dolls, and pen holders of various sizes. Her business also involves manufacturing of various Junkanoo items.

Present Member of Parliament Pierre Dupuch, has also announced his Independent candidacy for St. Margaret, after being bypassed in favor of fellow Free National Movement member, Loretta Butler-Turner.

Farmers Confront Minister

Nearly 100 farmers poured their hearts out to Minister of Agriculture James Knowles complaining of the extensive economic hardships created by Hurricane Michelle last November.

At a town meeting held at the S.C. McPherson High School library Tuesday night, local farmers pleaded with Government to allow duty free concessions for certain articles required to bring their farms back up to par.

They claimed that there was extensive damage to their crops, especially citrus trees, and loss of livestock. There was also a need for heavy equipment on their farms.

In addition, they asked for scheduled veterinary visits for their farm animals since it was revealed that some animals died because vets couldn't get to the farm to see them because of transportation. For some farmers, there was a need for electricity at the expense of Government on the farms to increase the water pressure to feed animals at the stalls.

Minister Knowles promised the farmers that the Ministry of Agriculture would assist them in restocking their citrus plants, but explained that they could apply for loans up to $250,000 which is a provision of the Small Business Loan Guarantee Act.

"That is for any small business venture except for touristic business. A separate Act was passed to cover hotels where the amount that the government can guarantee is higher. But this thing was publicized a lot when the legislation was passed. This is an opportunity for people who want to get some start-up money to go to the bank and have the government guarantee that loan with the bank," he said.

The Government guarantee is up to 80 percent," said Knowles. "Other assistance and duty free concessions are available to you as well."

Responding to questions as to what Government was doing to develop agriculture in the Bahamas to the point of self-sufficiency, Knowles explained that the diversity of production of agriculture was what made the United States an impossible competitor to beat.

"Bear in mind that we have one single climatic region in the Bahamas. As opposed to the United States of America which has extreme cold up north and extreme hot down south and every range of climate in between. The United States of America can grow anything year round," he said.

It is the only country that is probably self-sufficient in food he said, adding that these countries had the type of soil that could almost grow people.

He added: "In the Bahamas, we don't have that. We have rock and we have to pulverize it. The expense to prepare it is tremendous but we do have good climatic conditions for certain crops."

He said that the window of opportunity for production in The Bahamas, where the population was so small, made it impossible to compete with the United States.

The proximity of the US also makes our own consumers more inclined not to purchase Bahamian products, he said.

"We've got a mindset that we have to deal with. If a woman goes to the food store and sees the American bananas and the Bahamian bananas, she will buy American. I don't know why that it is. But she knows that the Bahamian bananas are better. They may not be as pretty but she will buy the pretty stuff," he said.

"There's a huge gap about where we stand now and where we can go but let's not fool ourselves about diversifying our economy in a meaningful way, in this way. Let us not fool ourselves that agriculture can be in the context of the world today a real prospect for meaningful diversification," he said.

Butler, Salkey retire from Public Service?

Permanent Secretary in the Office of The Prime Minister, Teresa Butler, 49, has officially retired from the Public Service.

The former teacher and diplomat has been Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's permanent secretary since he took office nine-and-a-half years ago.

Butler is serving as a consultant until the baton is officially passed over to Camile Johnson, acting permanent secretary, The Guardian was reliably informed.

Also retired is Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Williamae Salkey, 55.

Both public servants are said to be taking advantage of the opportunity to retire after 25 years of service.

Maria Teresa Butler was born in Nassau, Bahamas, and educated at St. Thomas More Primary School and St. Augustine's College in Nassau. She obtained a bachelor of arts degree with honours, with a concentration in history, and minors in economics and Spanish from the College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, New York in 1974.

In 1982, she completed graduate-level courses in international law and economics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

In 1985, Butler completed graduate studies and was awarded a master's degree in international economics from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Butler has left behind an impressive resumé in the Public Service. She first joined as a teacher at the R.M. Bailey Sr. High School in September 1979, when she transferred to the Ministry of External Affairs.

She moved through the ranks of the Public Service and was appointed Second Secretary in The Bahamas Embassy/Permanent Mission of The Bahamas to the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. in April, 1983. She served as Charge 'd Affaires in the embassy from June, 1985, to July, 1986.

Butler returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters in April 1989 and was promoted to the rank of Deputy Permanent Secretary in January 1990.

She was transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister, and promoted to the post of Permanent Secretary in August 1992, after the FNM became the government headed by Hubert Ingraham.

Butler has attended many international conferences and meetings at the regional hemispheric and global levels as a representative of the Government of The Bahamas. She is bilingual in English and Spanish, and has a reading knowledge of French.

While teaching, Butler co-authored a social studies textbook for primary school children. Butler is an avid reader who enjoys music, travel, gardening and decorating. She is a member of The Bahamas Historical Society, The Bahamas National Trust, and The Bahamas Music Society.

Salkey also has an impressive stint in the Public Service beginning in 1965 as a student teacher with the Ministry of Education.

Willamae Evangeline Salkey was born June 18, 1946, and received her high school diploma from the Government High School, in addition to Ordinary and Advanced-level General Certificates of Education.

Salkey holds a 1968 teacher's certificate from The Bahamas Teachers' College, endorsed by the University of the University of the West Indies, and a bachelor of science degree in sociology from UWI. In 1983 she completed a course on government administration for small island states at Riveria College of Advanced Education in Australia.

Salkey completed a Caribbean Development Bank course on CARICOM and Caribbean trade matters, a Bahamas Government and University of Miami course in labour and industrial relations and a University of Miami public administrative course.

She began her extensive career in the public service in 1965 when she entered the Ministry of Education as a student teacher. She stayed with this ministry until 1966. Salkey has also worked at the Ministry of Tourism, Department of Public Personnel, and Ministry of Agriculture, Trade and Industry.

Salkey is married to Archbyn B. Salkey, formerly of St. Andrews, Jamaica. In her leisure time, she enjoys listening to music, reading, traveling and gardening.

COB venue for youth conference, Job Fair

The College of the Bahamas Union of Students (COBUS) announced its 19th annual Conference of Youth Leaders, to be held Feb. 21 to 23 at the College of The Bahamas. The theme of this year's conference is "Embracing the Challenges, Aiming for Success."

Plans were also announced for a Feb. 28 Job Fair.

The youth conference aims to promote leadership skills in young people, particularly high school seniors.

Danielle Hepburn, COBUS president, said: "We know many young people have the potential to be leaders so we offer them the opportunity to be introduced to others that have been through what they are going through and have succeeded."

The three-day forum starts with a registration session 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 21 in the college's auditorium.

Participants, who are chosen from various schools around The Bahamas, will engage in a variety of activities and will have the opportunity to listen to a number of speakers.

Motivational speakers for these seminars include: Dr. Myles Munroe, Bishop Neil Ellis, Dr. Cynthia Pratt, Michael Pintard, Agatha Marcelle, Dr. Caroline Rolle, Cherylee Pinder, and Gurth Ford. The seminars will be held in the Student Union Building of the College of The Bahamas.

Certificates and awards will be presented to the most outstanding students in different categories.

Also at the press conference, Norma Turnquest-Blenman, assistant director of counselling services at COB, announced the date for COB's annual job fair.

The Job Fair is designed to bring together COB students, alumni, and members of the community with prospective employers.

Beginning at 10 a.m., Feb. 28, employers from various business sectors have been invited to provide students with recruitment information about their firms, career paths within the company, possible positions and application procedures.

Blenman said interested persons may use this opportunity to make initial contacts with employers, research popular career areas within the companies and disseminate their resumes in person.

In the past, the Job Fair has attracted many companies in the business field. However, this year the college is hopeful that more companies in the fields of technology, social sciences and natural sciences will participate.

BDM announces 12 candidates

Outlining a platform geared toward building an economically and educationally sound Bahamas ready for globalisation, the Bahamas Democratic Movement (BDM) introduced 12 candidates for the upcoming general elections.

Over the past several months, the BDM has captured headlines with their dare-devil political tactics.

At a reception held at Breezes Superclubs last week the party introduced candidates Cassius Stuart for the St Margaret Constituency; Deon Stuart, St Thomas More; Samuel Bain, Yamacraw; Yvette Cooper, Grants and Bain Town; Omar Smith, Golden Gates; Euthalie Miller, Garden Hills; Luke Small, South Beach; Sidney Carroll Jr, Blue Hills; Noel St Claude, Fort Charlotte; Parish Simmons, Adelaide; Wayne Johnson, Englerston and Henry Dummet, Pinewood.

The BDM also proposed to construct a University of the Bahamas in Andros, which will be able to accommodate up to 30,000 students, and usher in a new type of tourism - Edu-tourism.

Apart from the enrolment of Bahamian students, it will seek to attract students from Russia, Germany, China, Japan, England, South America, North America and throughout the Caribbean.

The Party also proposes to build a new airport and has committed itself to improving the level of health care and social services in The Bahamas.

The BDM is also of the view that a government should create conditions conducive to promoting entrepreneurship and building enterprise by providing funds to co-invest with private sector creative initiatives.

"In addition, we will put in place a clear, coherent competition policy framework. This will ensure a level playing field for new entrants into a market, and prevent dominant firms in an industry from exploiting their market power to stifle competition or inflate prices," said Stuart.

However, he said, while the government can perform specific functions, it should allow the free market to work, enabling investors to make business decisions unencumbered by regulations and restrictions, and "avoid distorting price signals through subsidies and taxes."

Stuart said the BDM will also establish a National Productivity Board under the Ministry of Economic Development to improve all sectors of the Bahamian economy.

"Within the first five years, we will make this new economy work for all Bahamians; balancing the budget by reducing government spending and revising our tax structure, creating more jobs, ensuring that all families can count on good health care and secure retirement, and most of all expanding educational opportunities so all Bahamians can learn the skills they need to build the best possible future," he said.

The BDM intends to position The Bahamas as the apex in the region for manufacturing, said Stuart, noting that The Bahamas Investment Authority will continue to attract investments for growth in industries such as electronics, chemicals, engineering and crafts.

The Party also intends to establish a Ministry of Information and Technology, which will be governed by a Communications Development Authority. This body will be in charge of National E-Commerce Strategies and Programmes, inclusive of projects designed to attract international e-commerce activities to The Bahamas.

"We will expand the postal services and provide the necessary equipment to offer facsimile and e-mail services in all post offices throughout the Bahamas. The BDM will outfit all post offices with computer terminals for access to e-mail," said Stuart, adding that a monthly rental fee for e-mail addresses will be incorporated in all such offices.

"The BDM will create a Bahamas where all of its citizens who left the country to find employment elsewhere in the world could now return back home to find employment, or better yet, create employment. There will be a greater emphasis on the quality of life. Bahamians will have a stronger sense of living on a tropical island, with more coastlines opened up, more beaches, more parks and gardens with more of our natural heritage safeguarded," he said.

On Monday, December 3, during a session of Parliament, BDM leader Cassius Stuart and his deputy, Omar Smith, protested the "undemocratic" process involved in new boundary proposals and handcuffed themselves to the mace, which represents the Speaker's authority.

The men were taken into police custody and subsequently charged. Their refusal to plead to the charges was accepted as one of not guilty, and their trial set for a later date.

Princess Margaret dies at at 71

Princess Margaret Rose, younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II, died early Saturday morning in her sleep at the King Edward VII Hospital, Buckingham Palace reported Saturday.

The funeral service for Princess Margaret, 71, and 11th in the line of succession to the British throne, is planned for Friday.

Known for her lively, high-spirited temperament, despite keeping a low profile, Princess, reportedly suffered a stroke Friday afternoon, and developed heart complications during the night. After being taken from Kensington Palace to the hospital around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, she later died in her sleep around 6:30 a.m. it was reported.

The princess' death will cast a shadow over this year's Golden Jubilee celebrations, marking the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne. A nationwide tour and a full programme of Jubilee celebrations is planned for later this year. On Feb. 18, the queen is scheduled to start a visit to Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia.

In 1978 Princess Margaret was beset by gastro-enteritis and mild hepatitis, followed by a bout of viral pneumonia in 1979.

A heavy smoker for many years, she suffered numerous respiratory illnesses. A small area of her left lung was removed in January 1985. In February 1998 she suffered a mild stroke while vacationing on the island of Mustique.

She first visited the Bahamas in 1955 when she officially opened the new hospital on Shirley Street, named in her honour as the Princess Margaret Hospital.

British flags were flown at half mast at Government House Saturday and will be so again on Friday when the Princess will be laid to rest.

Flags were also flown at half mast at the British High Commission and the Princess Margaret Hospital.

Born in Glamis, Scotland on Aug. 21, 1930 to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, now the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdown, was 11th in line to the British throne.

She was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in 1955, and was given the Royal Victorian Chain by The Queen in 1990. She is also Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

On May 6, 1960, she married Anthony Armstrong-Jones, a professional photographer, who was later dubbed Earl of Snowdown. They had two children, David, Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones. The couple divorced on July 5, 1978.

In 1974, several years before her separation from Armstrong-Jones, the princess had suffered a nervous breakdown.

Sometime during the 1950's Princess Margaret met and fell in love with a divorced man, Captain Peter Townsend, but discontinued the relationship after being told that she would be unable to marry a divorced man and remain in line to the throne. She later married Armstrong-Jones.

Although involved in approximately 80 organizations, serving as either president or patron, including those connected with music, ballet, young people, welfare and caring for the sick, Princess Margaret was often accused of being indifferent to her royal duties.

She was educated at home with her sister, Elizabeth. The young princess learned to ride, enjoyed swimming and became an enthusiastic gardener. In 1937 she joined the Brownies, and when she was old enough, enlisted in the Girl Guides. She always maintained close links with Guiding,having served as President and Chairman of the Council of the Girl Guides Association.

She was made an honorary Doctor of Music and became the first President of the Royal Ballet, of which the Queen served as patron. She also served as President of the Sadler's Wells Foundation.

Princess Margaret was also Honorary Fellow of several learned societies, and received Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Cambridge and Keele, and is a Master of the Bench of Lincoln's Inn. She also served as Colonel-in-Chief of a number of military units, including the Highland Fusiliers of Canada.

Princess Margaret began to carry out public engagements at a very young age; one early appointment was as Patron of the Scottish Children's League (becoming President in 1966). In 1947 she accompanied her father, King George VI, the queen consort, and her sister, Princess Elizabeth on their South African tour.

She was also President of the National Society and of the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; Grand President of the St John Ambulance Brigade and Colonel-in-Chief of Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps.

In her own account, Princess Margaret is quoted on The Political Divas website as saying: "I cannot imagine anything more wonderful than being who I am."

High Commissioner remembers Princess Margaret

Sharing fond memories of the late Princess Margaret, Peter Heigl, British High Commissioner yesterday made available a Condolences Book for British nationals to express well wishes to the Royal Family.

The book which will be presented to the royals, sits in the foyer of the British High Commission and will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. daily until the funeral.

Heigl noted that the Royal Family indicated that the Princess' funeral will not take on the traditional grandeur but in the form of a private Royal ceremony which will be held Friday at Windsor Castle.

He said arrangements are being made for the principal condolences book to be opened at Government House.

"This little condolence book in the British High Commission is very much sub-servient to that and is for British nationals who may wish to come here," Heigl said.

Both books will be forwarded to the royal family.

An online condolences book is also available at http://www.royal.gov.uk he said.

He said that a number of social engagements have been canceled by the Queen, with the exception of the Investure of Rudolph Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York for his administration especially after the September 11 tragedies which is slated for Wednesday.

The Queen's visit to Jamaica at the end of the month will also remain as scheduled as she celebrates her Golden Jubilee Anniversary, which marks the 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne said Heigl.

"I think it was indicative of the royal family's love of Princess Margaret that Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales the other night on television said that his abiding memory of his aunt was sitting as a small child alongside her . He said that she would sing and play the piano and she had the most beautiful voice," he said.

"Myself in my younger days remember Princess Margaret as lovely and gay individual. Britain after the war was quite a sad place in many ways. In the 1950's, we still had rationing after the second world war, and there were still a lot of bomb sites after the dreadful bombing. It was a pretty colorless country in some ways and we were working hard to rebuild it," he said.

"But to have a young princess still being able to visit and bring some joy and life and color in the UK was something which we treasured enormously," he added.

Ironically, Princess Margaret was the President of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, whose representatives are conducting a week long workshop in The Bahamas this week.

The workshop is being held under the theme, "Strengthening the Protective Network for Children At Risk" and will incorporate the attention of health care workers, education officials and law enforcement officers.

Heigl said that Princess Margaret was a very active President.

"So the trainers were particularly sad who began work here this morning. So we recognized the sad passing of Princess Margaret before the opening ceremony this morning," he said.

Grief, Memories Of Princess Margaret's '55 Visit Expressed

The Bahamas has joined the rest of the world in expressing condolences to the Royal Family on the passing of Princess Margaret Rose, younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II.

On Sunday several prominent persons expressed their grief and shared personal memories of the princess.

On behalf of the government and people of the Bahamas, Governor-General Dame Ivy Dumont expressed condolences and sympathy to the Queen.

Flags were half-masted on Saturday, when Princess Margaret passed away, and will also be flown at half-mast on Friday, the day of the funeral.

A book of condolences will also be made available.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, also expressing sympathy to the royal family, recalled, "She was in the Bahamas in 1955. I remember very clearly as a boy because I had come down to Nassau for that summer. I didn't go to the functions. I was only eight-years-old at the time.

"She has been ailing for sometime and she passed away peacefully as far as I understand," he said.

Also expressing condolences was Lady Marguerite Pindling, widow of former Prime Minister the late Sir Lynden Pindling.

She said she met Queen Elizabeth on several occasions but never had the opportunity to meet Princess Margaret.

Lady Pindling recounted that she was just a young girl working at a business establishment on East Street when Princess Margaret visited in 1955.

"I wasn't even married then. I was a single girl, then working at the then-Johnson building at the corner of East and Shirley Streets. I viewed the motorcade from the window. I was leaning out of the window and waving like everybody else," she said.

Also extending condolences was former Governor General Sir Gerald Cash who fondly recalled meeting the princess at Prince Charles' and Princess Diana's wedding reception in 1981 at Buckingham Palace.

"Death is always a very sad occasion and one sympathizes with her family on the early passing of Princess Margaret at the age of 71. When you think about it, the Queen is older than she was. I do join with the governor-general in expressing the sympathy of the people and the government of the Bahamas to her majesty and the royal family," said Sir Gerald.

"She was a jolly and petite person. She was very lively and very pleasant to deal with," he said, recalling the warm reception the Bahamian people gave her when she came here in 1955.

"We were very proud that she was able to visit. Death always brings sadness but it is something that is going to happen to everybody," he said.

British assisting in child-abuse seminar

The British High Commission has joined forces with the Government in its "mighty battle" against child abuse and neglect.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Housing and Social Development in partnership with the British High Commission kicked off a week-long workshop under the theme "Strengthening the Protective Network for Children At Risk," which is being sponsored by the United Kingdom's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. The workshop is being held at the Grosvenor Close Campus.

According to Director of Social Services, Melanie Zonicle, the number of child abuse cases continues to climb.

"The numbers are too high and we continue to see children who have been hurt in one form or another," she said. "We want to eradicate this social ill and continue to bring some sort of healing to those who have already been affected."

Zonicle added that the seminar would be extremely important because "children should come first and we should do everything within our means and our power to ensure that they grow up to have healthy productive lives."

She noted that there were persons in society who knew their children were in a situation where they could be seriously hurt but they had no idea about who to turn to.

Zonicle called on the relevant agencies - health care workers, education officials, and others - to be a little more coordinated and to work together to ensure that every step of the way the victim received appropriate treatment.

The latest statistics released by the Department of Social Services (Child Welfare Division) revealed that 522 cases of child abuse were reported last year.

The cases ranged from abandonment to neglect to verbal and sexual abuse. In May alone there were 32 reported cases of neglect; 22 cases of physical abuse; nine cases of sexual abuse and three cases involving verbal abuse.

At a cost of $2 million, the country's first Child Abuse Protection Center - Nazareth House - was officially opened in May, situated in the new Millennium Gardens.

The center for abused children was a gift to the Bahamian community from philanthropist Phillipe Bonnefoy.

The facility is operated and managed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese and can house up to 40 persons.

British High Commissioner Peter Heigl said the protection of children from cruelty and neglect has become a priority in the Caribbean.

He said one of the subjects which the Association of Caribbean Police Officers brought up as a priority some years ago was the problem of crimes against women and children in the region.

Hiegl is convinced that at the end of the workshop each agency will emerge with a better understanding of how to deal with abuse cases.

Heigl announced that the idea behind the workshop was not only to present a programme which raised awareness of the need in protecting children, but for the relevant agencies to work closely together to ensure that there was a protective network for children. It is also designed to help workers effectively recognize the signs of child abuse.

As the British High Commissioner, Heigl has been working very closely with the Department of Social Services. He played a vital role in inviting executives from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to The Bahamas to conduct the workshops.

Woman robbed of $5,000

A female employee of Clarks Shoe store at the Mall at Marathon, was robbed of $5,000 in cash by a two armed men while entering her vehicle shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday. No one was injured.

Superintendent Hulan Hanna on Sunday said the employee reported to the police that while leaving work, she was approached by an armed man, who was later accompanied by a second man, who robbed her of her tote-bags. Hanna said she explained that one of the bags contained money belonging to the shoe establishment. The men took the bags from her and escaped.

As a result of this incident, Hanna has appealed to store owners to use an alternative method of moving monies from their companies. He suggested that a security escort should be used when transporting monies, and rescheduled their money-shipments during the day time, instead of the night.

Hanna also reported that a lone gunman wearing a white and blue stripped shirt and blue jeans, robbed the Grand Central Hotel, Charlotte Street, of $550 in cash on Saturday shortly before 11 p.m. and escaped. No one was injured.

Additionally, Snack Food Wholesale Ltd., Kemp Road and Parkgate Road, was robbed of an undetermined amount of cash by a lone gunman on Saturday around 4:25 p.m. No one was injured.

Also, Hanna reported that a lone gunman wearing a yellow shirt and blue jeans robbed the Double Dragon Restaurant, Charlotte Street north, on Friday shortly before 10 p.m. and escaped. No one was injured.

Hanna said the manager reported to the police that the armed man entered the establishment and stole an undetermined amount of cash.

He said the police have not ruled out that the two incidents that occurred in the vicinity of Charlotte Street were done by the same person, but said police believed that the other robberies were unrelated.

However, he said police were following some leads in all the robbery incidents that occurred and has called on persons with any information to contact the police at 328-8477.

Rodney Moncur announces candidacy for Bain Town

Outspoken leading political activist, Rodney Moncur, chairman of the Workers Party, announced his independent candidacy for the Bain Town and Grants Town constituency last Monday noting that he came to this decision "by no easy means".

A self proclaimed community, social and political activist for over 20 years, Moncur mentioned that the Free National Movement (FNM) and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) have "failed the good people of the inner city". He claimed that the constituency has been plagued with many problems since 1967 and continued even after independence. He charged that "the people's agenda have been fed lip service" by the PLP for just under 25 years, and similarly, under the FNM rule for almost 10 years.

"I made this decision after wide spread consultations and discussions with a cross section of leaders and political generals in various political polling divisions that comprised the Bain Town and Grants Town constituency," he said. "FNM and PLP politics have taken for granted for far too long the black-belt community, and election after election, my people are duped into believing that help is on the way."

Just last June, Moncur conducted a national poll in New Providence concerning the leader of the Free National Movement (FNM), Hubert Ingraham, who was seeking a third term as Prime Minister. Moncur wanted the Bahamian public to answer whether they wanted Ingraham to stay a third term in office or leave. The results proved a large majority voting for Ingraham to step down from his office.

Last August, Moncur conducted another poll involving the FNM's leader-designate elections. Since Ingraham publicly announced his intention to resign from office to let another member lead, three FNM members campaigned for the position of leader-designate of the Party.

In Moncur's polling of who should become leader of the Party, results showed that the public preferred the former Cabinet Minister of Housing and Social Development, Algernon Allen, as favorite to win the position.

However, with the 398 FNM delegates voting, the Minister of Tourism, Tommy Turnquest, won the position, with Allen coming in second, and the Member of Parliament for Bamboo Town, Tennyson Wells coming in third.

Moreover, Moncur over the years had protested a number of national issues, and even called for the resignation of the Government's Attorney General, Carl Bethel, last year, due to a constitutional controversy.

Govt says Amendments within world standards

Government did nothing that was "outside of the norm in the world today" in seeking to amend the Constitution, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said.

"We have not sought to make any change to our Constitution that would take us outside what is the standard for democratic countries in the world," Ingraham said Sunday during his weekly Press conference held at his office in the Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Building, Cable Beach.

He said that over the years political parties have argued that they didn't want politicians on the Boundaries Commission and now, the amendment to do so has been put forward.

The current Boundaries Commission required a judge to be on the Commission but for the last 17 years judges have told the Bahamas Government they thought it was inappropriate for judges to be on the Commission.

"We are therefore proposing to remove them also. That too was agreed across the board by the political parties. With respect to the amendment to create a Constitutional office of a Parliamentary Commissioner, I can't imagine what would be the objection to having someone with a constitutional authority to conduct elections in the Bahamas and not subject to the political dictates or directions of a Minister," he said.

With regard to the extension of the judges ages, this comes under the bill which extends the age of retirement by civil servants by five years he said.

He said that he expected opposition when the government first proposed to amend the constitution.

"Persons who put the Constitution together in 1972 did not hold this view. You must also bear in mind that the view about the involvement of Bahamian women in public life in the Bahamas held by my Government, has not been universal," he said adding that from 1969, to 1982, no woman served in the Cabinet.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Janet Bostwick became the first elected female MP in 1982.

"Women in the Bahamas could not vote before the year 1962 and today, out of the House of Assembly of 40, we still only have six women, five of whom represent my party in Parliament," he said.

Initially after the 1997 General Election in 1997, said Ingraham, when the Progressive Liberal Party appointed their Senators, no women were included.

He said he would leave it up the Bahamian public to weigh the extent of commitment by political parties to achieve equality.

"It is up to the Bahamas to decide to vote no. I doubt the Bahamas is going to decide to vote no. I believe that we all want our country to be in the mainstream of the world and I believe that we all want to make sure that when we say we are a country that follows the rule of law, that all men and all women are equal under and before the law, that means that all men and all women are equal under the Supreme law of our land," he said.

Constitutional amendment will remove final obstacle to female

Voting in favor of the referendum should not cause a division among the Bahamian people as it seeks to create equal rights for Bahamians, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said Monday.

At a press conference at his office located in the Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Building, Cable Beach, Ingraham said that the first question on the ballot will deal with the equality of marital partners and the transference of their nationality to their children.

"Where the Constitution says 'a man shall have the right to', it will now say that 'a man or a woman shall have the right to.' No more and no less than that. It is very simple and very straight-forward. Whatever the Constitution says a man can do, it is now going to say when the amendment is passed, that a woman can too," explained Ingraham.

A referendum is required anytime any of 106 of the 137 articles in the Constitution is proposed to be changed, he said. The Constitution provides, he continued, that in order for changes to be made with respect to such articles, Parliament must first pass a Bill.

The Bill must pass Parliament by votes of two- thirds majority for some, or three-quarters for others, he said. The Prime Minister said that the fundamental articles relating to citizenship required three-quarters of House members' approval.

Thirty votes were need for the Bill's passage, and it received 39 votes of approval, he said.

All MPs present, including the Opposition, voted for that amendment, he said. One FNM MP was out of town at that time.

The amendments are being made in keeping with the FNM Manifesto's pledge that it would move to introduce important Constitutional changes and address outdated provisions, he said.

"When the Constitution was written in 1972, it was the norm. It was the standard in the world for there to be a difference between a male citizen and a female citizen as to how nationality can pass from one to their children," he said, noting that it was accepted that the male would have the right for his children to become nationals of his country and females didn't have that right.

Ingraham explained that it was not until 1980, when the world arrived at a consensus and established an International United Nations Convention called the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

This agreement was signed in 1993 under the Free National Movement government.

He said it was established that women should have the same rights as men with respect to passing on their nationality to their children.

This Convention was followed by the Convention For the Rights of the Child by the UN which was signed by the Bahamas in 1991.

This Convention, he said, established that each child has a right to have the nationality of both parents.

"When the previous government signed the 1991 Convention with respect to the rights of a child, they had to enter a reservation, meaning that the Bahamas Constitution did not permit it to allow its female citizens to confer their nationality to their children so the Bahamas was not in full compliance with that Convention for that reason," the prime minister explained.

He said that since the FNM government came to office it enacted laws that dealt with the eradication of discrimination against women and inheritance, as well as removal of discrimination against women with respect to employment.

"There is only one remaining legal obstacle to full equality for females under the laws of the Bahamas and that is the Constitutional provision that we are seeking now to amend. Further, we had discussions with the Opposition and got their agreement to support all of the amendments that were passed in the House, including the amendment dealing with women," he said.

The Bahamas is the only country in the English-speaking Caribbean, and the Americas, which has a Constitution which discriminates against its female citizens in terms of passage of nationality to their children, Ingraham continued.

"The fact that others have now changed their mind and their mouth about these amendments is not a matter that I am unduly concerned about except to say that I am disappointed that a political party that seeks to be the government of the Bahamas would cast ten separate votes, for ten separate bills to amend the Constitution and then walk outside and say 'We want you to vote no, but we voted yes in the House of Assembly'," he said.

"The public of the Bahamas will make their own judgment as to what to do with persons who speak out of both sides of their mouth on a very important and fundamental issue like the Constitution of the Bahamas," Ingraham said.

PM @ Town Meet

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham strongly believes that the majority of Bahamians will support the proposed amendments to the Constitution.

He told a crowded town meeting Thursday night on the Constitutional Amendment to Remove Discrimination Against Women, that his government was not one to favor one group of citizens over another.

"I truly believe that the majority of Bahamian, men and women, support these amendments," he said. "We proclaim that we are a God-fearing, Christian nation. We are a people who endured years of discrimination because of colour.

"We are not people who wish to discriminate against a person's basic human rights; rights which are included in all the international conventions against discrimination."

The forum held at the Kendal Isaacs Gym was broadcast live on the national radio and television station. Other panelists included Janet G. Bostwick, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Kingsley Black, President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers; Claire Hepburn and Michael Barnett, attorneys-at-law. The forum was moderated by Mike Smith, MP for South Beach and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism with responsibility for Information.

In a National Referendum on Feb. 27, eligible voters would be asked to vote on the following five questions and not six as approved by Parliament.

1 - To amend the Constitution to put Bahamian men and Bahamian women on the same footing as regards their ability to confer nationality on their children and nationality on their spouses.

2 - To amend the Constitution to create the Constitutional Office of Parliamentary Commissioner to deal with all matters relating to the conduct of elections, to not be subject to political control and for the position to become entrenched in the Constitution.

3 - To amend the Constitution to create a Teaching Service Commission to engage, promote and discipline teachers.

4 - To amend the Constitution to remove Members of Parliament and a Justice of the Supreme Court from being members of the Boundaries Commission and to appoint non-members of Parliament and non-civil servants excepting the Parliamentary Commissioner in their place.

5- To amend the Constitution to increase the maximum age of retirement of a Judge of the Supreme Court and a Justice of the Court of Appeal by up to five years. (This was done for civil servants in January, extending their retirement age by five years.)

Responding to points of views being raised relating to what is being called "process", the Prime Minister said it is "indisputable that we are following and complying with the process laid down in the Constitution to amend the Constitution."

What is also indisputable, he said, is that the government is following and complying with the process set out in the Constitutional Referendum Act of 1977 for the holding of a Referendum.

"I'm assured that the Referendum will be conducted in accordance with the regulations made in 1980, now repealed and replaced by Regulations made following upon the passage of the Parliamentary Elections Act, 1992," the Prime Minister said.

He noted that the process for amending the Bahamian Constitution differs from the process elsewhere in the Caribbean. No referendum is required to amend provisions in countries such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize or Guyana.

In those countries the Parliaments have the legal and constitutional authority to amend their constitutions without going to a Referendum, the Prime Minister said. This is not so in The Bahamas in respect of 106 of the 137 Articles of the Constitution.

Focusing on the controversial amendment to remove all forms of discrimination against women, their children and spouses shall be removed from the Constitution, and that no person shall be discriminated against on the grounds of gender, the Prime Minister said this was promised by his government since it first came to power in Aug. 1992. In its Manifesto '92, the FNM set out what it would do in the area of Women's Affairs. Amongst those matters were the conveying of nationality to children of Bahamian women regardless of the place of birth or the marital condition of their mother. And, accord to the foreign born spouses of Bahamian women the same immigration status as that accorded to the foreign spouses of Bahamian men.

"The Constitutional Referendum seeks the endorsement of the majority of Bahamian registered voters to remove, once and for all, all discrimination from the Constitution," the Prime Minister said.

And for those who need assistance to vote, the Prime Minister told them that "Yes will be next to a star, and No will be next to an aeroplane" on the Referendum Ballot.

He told his audience and the wider voting populace that when they vote yes to this question, they will be confirming the need to end discrimination against as much as 50 per cent of the Bahamian population made up of female adults and children because:

"You believe that a Bahamian woman's child should have a right to a Bahamian passport just as a Bahamian man's child has such a right regardless of whether his/her mother is married; and regardless of where he/she is born."

Under the present law, only the children of Bahamian men and of unwed Bahamian mothers have such a right.

Also under the Constitution, when a Bahamian man marries a foreign woman, the wife is "immediately entitled" to Bahamian citizenship, and her children, regardless to where they are born, are Bahamian citizens. And yet, the foreign husband of a Bahamian woman is not entitled to citizenship in the same way, nor are married Bahamian woman's children born Bahamian citizens if they have a foreign father and they are born outside of The Bahamas.

"It is not right that a married foreign woman's children can be Bahamian even if they are born outside of The Bahamas but the children of a married Bahamian woman - your daughters, sisters, and female cousins and other relatives - cannot give Bahamian nationality to their legitimate children born outside of The Bahamas," the Prime Minister said.

Allyson Maynard

The Free National Movement has been charged by the Progressive Liberal Party in the "people's court" for attacking local religious leaders.

At a mass PLP rally held Thursday, Allyson Maynard-Gibson took issue with Government's attack on Archbishop Drexel Gomez and St Cecelia's MP Dr Cynthia "Mother" Pratt, who is also an ordained minister.

Maynard Gibson told crowd that the FNM would be "indicted" on charges of "blatant, nasty and ugly disrespect for Bahamian women by deliberately and with malice aforethought promoting evil in the Bahamas and the intentional undermining of the Christian foundation of our society, by attacking, disrespecting and trying to bully ministers of religion".

She accused Government of not giving ear to the people and also ignoring the advice of the men of God to withdraw the Referendum and bring it back after proper consultation and deliberation with the people of God.

"Now you know that the stench of evil is high in the country when the Government tries to silence and intimidate men of God. Now you also know how evil often comes dressed up as good. We in Pinewood are not fooled though. Bahamians are not fooled. We will expose all evil that tries to undermine our way of life," she said.

Maynard-Gibson also referred to Government's exclusion of one of the passed six referendum bills in the proclamation read last Friday. Question 5, or Bill 10 was omitted from the proclamation.

It asks: "Do you approve amending The Constitution to permit the foreign spouse of a Bahamian citizen to reside and work in The Bahamas for the first five years of marriage, and thereafter entitled to citizenship."

Feeling strongly that the Government should have come to the people before making the decision, she concurred that the government is hell bent on forcing the Referendum down our throats.

"This is the Constitution that they are playing with, the most sacred document in our nation next to the Bible. They set the trap and on February 27, they will be caught in their own trap as women and men in Pinewood and all over the Bahamas vote against the referendum. We will vote yes later, on merits, after the PLP has respected our people and our Constitution, and engaged in proper and open consultation," said Gibson.

"I am keeping this indictment in a safe place. Pinewood will serve it at the right time," she said.

Caricom Meet 'Candid'

United States Secretary of State Colin Powell left here for Washington on Thursday with a "better appreciation" of issues affecting the Caribbean.

And, he pledged the United States' continued commitment to fighting drug trafficking and sources of instability in the Caribbean.

"It was a very good meeting," Powell said after meeting with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Foreign Ministers for two hours. "We exchanged views on all the subjects and it did not become a scream where we were shouting or throwing bean bags at each other."

"I return to Washington with a better appreciation of the needs in the economic and trade field. I go back with the expression of solidarity for our efforts in the campaign against terrorism."

Powell said he had a "solid, civilized discussion" with the Foreign Ministers, adding that they spoke "candidly to each other."

Noting that they were "equal in that room," Powell said the U.S. would continue to assist the Caribbean in such areas as poverty, lack of health care and education.

"If we deal with these issues successfully, then you dry up havens for narcotic-traffickers, you dry up havens for terrorists," Powell said. "If you put in place solid financial systems in your country, you make yourself less attractive to illegal activities."

Powell, who arrived in Nassau on Wednesday, also had separate private meetings yesterday with Governor General Dame Ivy Dumont and Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham after touring the Simpson Penn Centre, a correctional school for boys.

During yesterday's Press conference, Powell said the U.S. and CARICOM had a common interest and needed to find means to pursue those interests more progressively.

He told reporters in a 20-minute question-and- answer session, that he looked forward to another such forum to exchange ideas with respect to development in the Caribbean region.

Guyana's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Samuel Insanally, who spoke on behalf of his CARICOM colleagues, underscored the importance of a sustained relationship with the United States.

"We on the table our views as to the future of our relationship with the United States; a relationship, which I hasten to add is a precious one and which we must nurture, especially in the post Sept. 11 period," he said in a Press conference at the Nassau Marriott Resort and Crystal Palace Casino.

He said the CARICOM Foreign Ministers also sought to remind the United States that issues of development, trade, investment and economic issues would take a central role in any new relationship.

"We stressed to the Secretary that stability and security can only come from sustained economic development. This would be a strategy against the operations of terrorists and drug lords," he added.

Insanally noted that the increased cost of security after September 11, 2001 has had an effect on Caribbean countries' budget, adding that countries could not afford this financial burden since they were already saddled with scarce resources.

He said CARICOM appreciated the comments and responses made by Powell, especially those he gave to the U.S. Foreign Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently, in which he demonstrated a very clear appreciation and sympathy to the Caribbean's problem.

Meantime, crime and security formed a significant part of the discussions, particularly in the area of the trafficking of illegal drugs and small arms and also for many Caribbean states, the question of expatriation of criminal deportees.

CARICOM advanced a proposal for a fund to be established out of the proceeds of asset forfeitures of deportees in Caribbean states.

There was also a proposal for a review of the type of crimes for which people would be deported and the serious effects of the trade in small arms.

President George W. Bush's "Third Board" initiative was also discussed.

"In our view, the minimum requirements for its "Third Board" success must be its ability to stimulate private sector investment from both the U.S. and the Caribbean and to built the economic infrastructure including human resource capacity and providing market access for our countries," Insanally said.

Residents beat robbery suspect

One of two armed robbery suspects reaped what he sowed Monday night when the residents Nassau Village gave a him a virulent beating with a car wrench after he shot a 27-year old male resident in the stomach.

According Police Press Officer Superintendent Hulan Hanna, the suspect sustained a broken rib and was detained at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

Hanna explained that around 9:20 p.m. on Monday while standing up in the area of Alexandria Blvd., Nassau Village, Osmond Francis, who lived in the area, was approached by two armed gunmen, one of whom attempted to rob him.

"While attempting to rob him, the culprit fired a shot and struck him in his stomach. Persons who were known to Francis, probably family members that were nearby and were alerted to the incident, proceeded to severely beat the culprit and they may have also used a car wrench to inflict injuries about his body," said Hanna.

The suspect was detained by his attackers until the police arrived on the scene, Hanna added.

The police arrested the wounded man and recovered a semi-automatic weapon, a Tech-9, along with one live round, a mask, a switch blade knife and a pair of gloves were recovered. The suspect, a 22-year-old of Pinewood Gardens, was said to be in stable condition at the hospital.

The other suspect in this foiled armed robbery fled the scene in fear of his life said Hanna, noting that the police were following significant leads to determine his identity.

As for the injured suspect, Hanna said he would be formally arraigned as soon as he was in better condition.

Meantime, Hanna expressed his concern over the potential danger in vigilante justice that was exercised by the Nassau Village residents.

"Although persons may feel as if it's okay to defend themselves, it is not wise (to do so) given the circumstances that the culprit has a weapon and has already used the weapon. It is absolutely unwise for members of the public to take matters in their own hands to the point of what can be described as street justice," he said.

"So we want to discourage people from doing this because it can go either way. The same way they can overpower a suspect, the same way that suspect may harm them. This guy had a Tech-9 which is capable of wreaking serious carnage and loss of life. So we want to warn members of the public to be very, very careful," Hanna added.

He also referred to the case involving an alleged rapist who was beaten up by Chippingham residents after a 16-year old female claimed he sexually assaulted her.

"People need to summon the police and if they are going to make what amounts to a citizens arrest, then they need to make sure that their life and limb are not being endangered in the process," he said.

In other crime news, it was reported to police that a shooting occurred 9:30 p.m. on Malcolm Road East which left 31-year old Quentin Rolle in serious condition at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

According to Hanna, Rolle was leaving Mae's Food Store when he got into an exchange of words with a group of men.

"He left and had not gotten very far when he was approached from the rear by a male who was in possession of what is believed to have been a shot-gun. This person said some things to him and discharged the weapon, injuring Rolle in the upper and lower body," said Hanna.

Rolle was taken to the Princess Margaret Hospital where he was listed in serious condition.

The police are following significant leads in this matter, said Hanna, noting that an arrest will be made "fairly soon."

Abaco centenarian pastor dies

The Reverend Samuel Sands, MBE, a resident of Sandy Point, Abaco passed away at his home on Thursday, Jan. 31. The Reverend Sands, 102-years-old, was the pastor of the Mt. Zion Native Baptist Church, Sandy Point, Abaco.

Reverend Sands, who was the Father of the St. John's Native Baptist Society, and formerly District Pastor for the Island of Abaco, was born in Sandy Point on September 14, 1899. He was the sixth child of Horatio Sands of Moore's Island and Martha Sands, nee Dames of Sandy Point, Abaco.

The Reverend Sands was the patriarch of the settlement, an industrious and visionary community leader and a kind and endearing father to many.

The Reverend Sands was recently honoured by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in this year's New Year Honours, with the Award of the British Empire Medal. He has received the Precious Pearl Award for nation- building and is a Stalwart of the St. John's Native Baptist Society.

He is survived by three daughters, Deaconess Isadora Pinder, Rev. Hilda Symonette, and Mrs. Gladys Rolle.

A Memorial Service will be held at the St. John's Native Baptist Cathedral, Meeting Street, New Providence on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 7:00p.m.

Funeral services will be held at the Mt. Zion Native Baptist Church, Sandy Point, Abaco on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 10:00a.m.

Sir Orville, 3 others named to Lyford Cay Foundation Board

The Lyford Cay Foundation has announced the appointment of four prominent citizens of The Bahamas and the U.S. to its Board of Directors. Among them is former Governor-General of The Bahamas Turnquest, GCMG, QC, JP, LLB.

Others named to the Board are Mrs. Norma Taliaferra Dana, Mr. Stuart Ray and Mr. John Bottomley. Along with presently serving members whose heritage reflects numerous countries, new appointees will help steer The Bahamas' largest private educational and charitable organisation. "Each of these individuals brings a unique

background and well-tested energy to this Board," said Manuel Cutillas, Foundation President & CEO. "And each has demonstrated over a period of many years their commitment to the communities in which they live. We are

delighted they have agreed to join the Board of Directors of the Lyford Cay Foundation and help us better serve The Bahamas through provision of academic and technical scholarships and through gifts and grants to worthy organisations. We believe that each of these persons: Sir Orville, Mrs. Dana, Stuart Ray and John Bottomley adds depth, talent and enthusiasm to the Board."

Sir Orville, who served as Governor-General from January 1995 until November 2001, is credited with bringing great dignity to his office, setting a standard that will be the hallmark for his followers. Educated at home and abroad, he earned his Honours LL.B. degree at the University of London and was admitted to the English Bar in 1960. His political career that spanned four decades began in 1960 when he served as Secretary-General of the Progressive Liberal Party. He became one of the founding members of the opposition party, the presently-governing Free National Movement and served as its Chairman and Treasurer for10 years. Following the FNM's election in 1992, Sir Orville served as Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Sir Orville's interest in the law -- he is a past president of the Bahamas Bar Association, a lecturer, recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards and a delegate to constitutionalconferences and working assemblies - is matched only by his dedication to youth. Sir Orville joins Bahamians Olympic Gold Medallist and community activist Sir Durward Knowles and Dr. Keva Bethel, the former president of the College of The Bahamas, on the Board.

Mrs. Norma Dana is the widow of former Lyford Cay Foundation President and Chairman Charles A. Dana, Jr. Since his death in May 2001, she has served as President of Cadan Corp., a private holding company based in New Canaan, Ct. Her current charitable activities include The Central Park Conservancy, The Wildlife Conservation Society headquartered at the Bronx Zoo, the New Canaan Nature Center Advisory Board, the Madison Council of the Library of Congress, in Washington, D.C. and the Center for Strategic International Studies, also in Washington. A former member of the Board of Trustees of the Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Mrs. Dana now serves on their Advisory Committee.

Mr. Stuart Ray did his undergraduate and graduate work at Harvard, earning his MBA in 1970. He has extensive business, civic, educational and charitable affiliations, including serving since 1995 on the Association of the

Metropolitan Opera,since 1993 on the board of directors of the Byrd-Hoffman Foundation, and for 10 years as a member of the board of trustees of the Professional Children's School. His civic interest in the performing arts has

crisscrossed ethnic and cultural lines and his business interests across continents. A partner and managing director of two investment banking institutions for nearly two decades, Mr. Ray now serves on the board of directors of Millicom International Cellular based in Luxembourg.

Mr. John Bottomley is the Executive Director of the $17 million Fuller Foundation, served as its program officer from 1978-1987 and remains the Executive Director of the Fuller Foundation of New Hampshire, which operates

the Fuller Gardens, attracting some 10,000 visitors a year. He is a member of the board of directors of Hesser College in New Hampsire, is past president of the Richard D. McDonough Scholarship Foundation, past vice chairman of Bank Meridian and was appointed by the first President Bush to the President's Advisory Committee on the Arts, Kennedy Center. The Board of Directors also named three lifetime honorary members. They are Mrs. Sheila Hailey, who served as chairman of the Gifts & Grants Committee for a decade, Mrs. Dorothy Booth, and Mrs. Gunda Dorrance. The Foundation awards more than $1 million in scholarships to Bahamians annually and provides another $100,000-$200,000 in grants to deserving organisations.

Parliamentary Commissioner, Teachers' units now in force

Constitutional amendments establishing the office of Parliamentary Commissioner and a Teaching Service Commission came into force on Friday, Feb. 1, the Cabinet Office announced at the weekend.

It also said that the acts under which the changes were made were passed by both the House of Assembly and Senate, and do not require a referendum, except for provisions to be entrenched in the constitution.

The Parliamentary Commissioner is to be appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

The Commissioner will be responsible for keeping the register of voters and carrying out duties relating to the registration of voters and the holding of general elections. The Commissioner will also be responsible for the conduct of referenda.

The Parliamentary Commissioner is given independence from political interference, and has security of tenure.

The Commissioner may remain in office until he or she reaches the age of 65, with a possible extension to 68.

The Cabinet Office said it is expected (that the constitutional amendment relating to the Parliamentary Commissioner will lead to enhanced public respect for the office and more improvements in the services offered by the Parliamentary Registration Department.

The Teaching Service Commission will be composed of a chairman and no fewer than two, or more than four members. It will advise the Governor-General to appoint persons to hold or act in public offices in the teaching service, to remove persons out of the service, and to exercise disciplinary control over persons in the service.

The Cabinet Office said it is hoped that the advent of the Teaching Service Commission will lead to a higher level of objectivity in the service, and ensure its smoother running in the long term.

Christian Council commends PM

The Bahamas Christian Council said it was pleased and appreciative of the stand taken by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham in publicly expressing regrets in respect of remarks made concerning Archbishop Drexel Gomez.

"The council wishes to state categorically, that it holds the Prime Minister in the highest regard and that his expression of regret testifies to his sense of fair-play and his desire to do that which is right," the council said in a statement Friday.

"We wish to give the assurance that The Bahamas Christian Council stands ready to work in harmony and to cooperate to the fullest extent with the government and all civic leaders, in the promotion of peace and understanding among our fellowmen."

A repentant Prime Minister on Thursday apologised on national radio to Anglican Archbishop Drexel Gomez for accusing him of taking a "political" stance against the proposed referendum.

On the ZNS talk show Immediate Response, the Prime Minister said he had the "greatest respect" for the archbishop, and the Church.

"I did not really intend to offend the archbishop. I did want to make the point that I thought it was unfair for the archbishop to arbitrarily say that this matter should be dealt with in a year's time," Ingraham said.

At a town meeting last Wednesday, Archbishop Gomez said he strongly believed that the proposed referendum should be postponed to enable the citizens of The Bahamas the chance to "obtain a clearer picture of the nature and extent of all of the proposed amendments" to the Constitution.

He also expressed his "grave disappointment over the failure of the present government to honour its promise to provide a broad consultative process as a prelude to parliamentary action on the referendum."

Last Sunday, reacting to Archbishop Gomez' remarks, the Prime Minister said he was disappointed over the Anglican Archbishop's "political" statement on the referendum.

But on Thursday, Ingraham had a change of heart.

"I regret making that statement," the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister told radio listeners that he has "great respect" for the Church in The Bahamas, including the archbishop, who had talked to him about matters of societal interest.

Catholics and Anglicans to host leaders' forum

The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Archdiocese Church will co-sponsor a live 90-minute forum between leaders from different political parties to be broadcast on ZNS radio and television on February 11.

Speaking to the South East Rotary Club members on Wednesday, Catholic Archbishop of Nassau, Lawrence Burke, said this forum would discuss a government's role in a country and provide a setting for voters to gain a deeper appreciation for each party's vision prior to the general election.

In a speech entitled "The Common Good in Our Commonwealth," Burke said governments and businesses should hold various stakeholders and non-profit organisations more accountable for their work in the community.

"Too often non-profit organisations have engaged in unprofessional practices and unethical behaviour. As more non-profits accept public funds to assist with their delivery of social services, we need to be held more accountable," he said.

He noted that the government and various churches in this country had entered into partnerships to run various social programmes, such as Nazareth House, a transitional facility for abused children and YEAST, a programme for "at risk" young men.

He suggested that if such non-profit organisations could not provide effective and efficient services they should be penalised and their public funding withdrawn.

Burke noted that a government should not promote a state of religion, it should not have a monopoly on the media, neither should it be the only employer in the community.

A government's function, he said, should have clear limits, and businesses and non-profit organisations should not be absorbed by the state.

He suggested that the idea of solidarity would help persons to move on from "narrow self-interests" in order to promote common good and find common ground.

"In a Christian sense, it is about loving thy neighbour, and being our sister's and brother's keepers," he said.

Archbishop Burke the Catholic community expressed its solidarity with the wider community by noting its ability to cooperate with "the state," in providing quality education. Also, he said, they were encouraged to promote a more humane criminal justice system.

He also said the central government should not be doing things that local government should do.

"However, there are things like national defence that are the proper function of the central government." he told the Rotarians.

Catholics and Anglicans to host leaders' forum

The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Archdiocese Church will co-sponsor a live 90-minute forum between leaders from different political parties to be broadcast on ZNS radio and television on February 11.

Speaking to the South East Rotary Club members on Wednesday, Catholic Archbishop of Nassau, Lawrence Burke, said this forum would discuss a government's role in a country and provide a setting for voters to gain a deeper appreciation for each party's vision prior to the general election.

In a speech entitled "The Common Good in Our Commonwealth," Burke said governments and businesses should hold various stakeholders and non-profit organisations more accountable for their work in the community.

"Too often non-profit organisations have engaged in unprofessional practices and unethical behaviour. As more non-profits accept public funds to assist with their delivery of social services, we need to be held more accountable," he said.

He noted that the government and various churches in this country had entered into partnerships to run various social programmes, such as Nazareth House, a transitional facility for abused children and YEAST, a programme for "at risk" young men.

He suggested that if such non-profit organisations could not provide effective and efficient services they should be penalised and their public funding withdrawn.

Burke noted that a government should not promote a state of religion, it should not have a monopoly on the media, neither should it be the only employer in the community.

A government's function, he said, should have clear limits, and businesses and non-profit organisations should not be absorbed by the state.

He suggested that the idea of solidarity would help persons to move on from "narrow self-interests" in order to promote common good and find common ground.

"In a Christian sense, it is about loving thy neighbour, and being our sister's and brother's keepers," he said.

Archbishop Burke the Catholic community expressed its solidarity with the wider community by noting its ability to cooperate with "the state," in providing quality education. Also, he said, they were encouraged to promote a more humane criminal justice system.

He also said the central government should not be doing things that local government should do.

"However, there are things like national defence that are the proper function of the central government." he told the Rotarians.

BDM candidates

The Bahamas Democratic Movement (BDM) has unveiled its first 10 election candidates.

BDM leader Cassius Stuart party members wanted to show Bahamians how serious they were about "becoming the government of the Bahamas."

"We want to be an alternative to the PLP, the FNM, and the CDR," he said at the Super Club Breezes Resort on Monday evening.

The candidates are:

* Luke Small, 33, president of the Straw Vendors United Union, candidate for South Beach;

* Deon Stuart, 34, businessman, candidate for St. Thomas More;

* Euthalie Miller, 26, sales associate, candidate for Garden Hills;

* P. Samuel Bain, 50, educator, candidate for Yamacraw;

* Sidney Carroll Jr., 37, entrepreneur, candidate for Blue Hills;

* Yvette Cooper, 30, entrepreneur, candidate for Grants Town and Bain Town;

* Noel St. Claude, 28, a chef, candidate for Forth Charlotte;

* Parish Simmons, 30 entrepreneur, candidate for Adelaide;

* Omar Smith, 33, entrepreneur, candidate for Golden Gates;

* and Cassius Stuart, 30, entrepreneur, candidate for St. Margaret's.

In an interview on Tuesday, Stuart said the BDM planned to travel to Abaco and Long Island in search of candidates to run for those island constituencies. He said they already identified two possible candidates in Grand Bahama and Eleuthera.

Stuart also introduced vice-chairman of the Bahamas Democratic Youth Movement, Laniska Clarke, 18, a sales representative and photographer. Clarke is an member of the BDM, but is not a candidate. However, she noted her interest in politics.

"Maturity does not come with age, but rather with responsibility," she said. "

Additionally, Stuart said the BDM would look to provide a full slate of 40 candidates to run for each constituency this country, but he added that if that number was not achieved the party would run as many as possible.

Stuart said another set of candidates would be announced in about two weeks.

Bahamasair Jets Back In Operation

An estimated $400,000 was spent on a short-term wet-lease agreement between Bahamasair and two Florida airline companies while its aging jet aircraft fleet, grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration, was out of service.

The repairs took two weeks and cost an estimated $164,000.

Bahamasair Managing Director Paul Major told The Guardian on Tuesday that one of the aircraft was returned to service on Saturday and the other is expected back in operation today.

While the airplanes were out of service, Bahamasair wet-leased two jets - pilot and crew - from Planet Air and Miami Air at an estimated cost of $400,000, Major confirmed.

Bahamasair jets were serviced by Commercial Jet Inc. based in Miami, Florida for approximately $164,000, Major said.

On Jan. 11, a press release from Bahamasair noted that a Bahamasair B-737 jet aircraft was presently grounded at Miami International Airport, while the carrier's engineering personnel were engaged in correcting faults cited by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration following an inspection.

Bahamasair made "adequate alternate arrangements" to accommodate travelling customers, so that there was a minimum in disruption of service, the statement read.

This grounding followed two consecutive problems Bahamasair experienced with its B-737 in November and December of last year.

The frequencies of mechanical failure of Bahamasair jets were also addressed in a Nassau Guardian Editorial on Jan. 14.

And, in response to this, Bahamasair Chairman Fred Gottlieb in a letter to The Guardian on Jan. 15 confirmed the airline's mechanical problems with the old jets.

"It cannot be disputed that the frequency of such problems continue to increase and neither can it be denied that internal deficiencies in the airline continue to exist," Gottlieb said. "It is however disputed that these re-occurring problems are primarily reflective of poor performance on the part of the airline's Maintenance and Engineering Department and/or its management.

"A significant cause for the re-occurring problems lies in the age of the two jets owned by the airline which are more than 20 years old and have been subjected to significantly more rotations (wear and tear) than is the industry norm.

"Please be assured that both the board and management have looked deeply into the running of the airline's airplanes and recognised a long time ago that the airline's existing jet airplanes needed to be disposed of and replaced with newer aircraft, pursuant to which appropriate recommendations were made."

Roderick Darville, president of the Bahamas Airline Pilots Association reiterated his concern with the use of the vintage fleet, and wet-lease agreements using foreign pilots and crew.

"What can you expect from an old piece of equipment?" Darville asked. "They are going to break down all over the place and as time goes on, they are going to break down more often. No doubt about that."

He noted that with Bahamasair's "hectic" schedule, there is "a lot of wear and tear on the jets" as there is about half an hour rest between flights.

Roderick said, however, that the safety of passengers are not compromised because Bahamian pilots are "highly skilled" professionals.

"We do need new planes and if we get better equipment Bahamians will see a dramatic increase in reliability from its national airline," Darville said.

Tommy Turnquest, Minister of Tourism with responsibility for Bahamasair also recognised the need for a more updated fleet of aircraft.

He said that after the FAA grounded the first jet, Bahamasair decided to have the required work done on its second jet.

"There is a need for Bahamasair to pay for repairs but the difficulty is, Bahamasair has an aging fleet and repairs are greater as a result," Turnquest said Tuesday.

Bahamasair has always prided itself on having highly skilled pilots, but they are being made to fly old jets.

On the question of passenger safety, "One thing we will never do is compromise public safety," Turnquest said, "even if we have to ground a part of Bahamasair's fleet."

The government is providing substantial resources to Bahamasair to keep it operational, Turnquest said, and will use supplementary means as necessary to ensure that the airline's schedules are met.

Major said that Bahamasair has a regular scheduled maintenance programme, mandated by local and international aviation authorities.

The prescribed scheduled checks, described as, "The A, B, C, D health check-up", are respectively, with some variations, mandated after each flight-time period of 150, 700, 3,000, and 20,000 hours.

The time the aircraft is on the ground, and the number of maintenance manhours required, can range from eight hours and 60 manhours of work for an A-Check, to up to 30 days, and around 3,000 hours for a heavy maintenance D-Check, which involves a thorough examination of both the interior and exterior of the aircraft

The D-Check, aviation sources advise, is a major overhaul which returns the aircraft to its original "brand new" condition to the extent possible.

The C-Check, which includes both A- and B-Checks, can require the aircraft being grounded for 72 hours, utilising around 3,000 manhours.

Aviation experts generally recognize that "There is no such thing as an old aircraft, if it has been properly maintained," and "Aircraft, like people, reflect in older age the care taken in earlier days."

While the average age of retirement for commercial jets is recognized in some aviation circles as 24, older jets, particularly those flying short trips and accumulating tens of thousands of takeoffs and landings - or cycles - generally experience more "down time", due to more frequent maintenance requirements.

The reinstatement of jet aircraft on Bahamasair routes between the United States and Nassau, as was foreshadowed in the Free National Movement Government's Manifesto '92, leaves Bahamasair as virtually the only carrier offering jet services to Bahamians and visitors between Nassau and Florida.

United States carriers, citing the high costs of operating jet aircraft on such "short-haul" routes as between Nassau and points on the Florida east coast, have, generally, switched to smaller, more "cost-effective" commuter-type aircraft, similar to those used by Bahamasair for its interinsular services.

Seven armed robbery suspects being sought

The Central Detective Unit is seeking the public's support in capturing seven male suspects in connection with the armed robberies of homes and businesses in New Providence.

The men are between the ages of 22 and 34 and are considered "armed and dangerous," authorities say. One of the suspects is believed to be of Jamaican descent.

Five of the incidents occurred this month, the sixth in December, 2001.

Last year, armed robbery, robbery and attempted robbery fell by 38 percent, 21 percent, and 60 percent respectively, the police crime report for 2001 revealed.

The report also disclosed that crime against property posted a decrease of 16 percent. Incidences of burglary increased by 40 percent, which was considered significant, considering that housebreaking, shop breaking, and attempted breaking all posted decreases of 24 percent, 26 percent and 34 percent respectively. And, stealing and attempted stealing were down.

In his annual press briefing on Jan. 7, Commissioner of Police Paul Farquharson praised the public for its cooperation and support in the detection of crime.

The descriptions of the suspects and particulars surrounding the armed robberies issued by the CDU are as follows:

Suspect 1 - A man five feet, seven to nine inches tall, of medium build, weighing 150 to 160 pounds and between 28- and 34-years-old. He entered Hepburn House, Shirley Street at 9 a.m. on Jan. 21.

Suspect 2 - A man between five feet, seven to nine inches tall, of medium build, dark brown complexion, weighing 170 pounds and between ages 22 to 26. He is wanted for the armed robbery of a Sea Beach Estate resident around 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 20.

Suspect 3 - A man described as being five feet, 10 inches tall, of slim build, dark complexion; weighs between 145 to 160 pounds and is between the ages of 27 to 30 years. He is wanted for the armed robbery of Super Value Food Store on Blue Hill Road at 11:45 a.m. on Jan. 21.

Suspect 4 - is said to be between six feet and six feet, two inches tall, of slim build, between 160 to 180 pounds, of dark complexion and between the ages 26 to 30 years. He is wanted for the armed robbery of Nassau Plastics, Parkgate Road at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 14.

Suspect 5 - A man between five feet, eight to 10 inches tall, of slim build, weighs between 120 to 140 pounds, of dark complexion and between 32 to 34 years. He is wanted for the armed robbery of Half Moon Convenience Store on Soldier Road. The incident occurred at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 4.

Suspect 6 - This suspect is between five feet, seven to nine inches tall, medium build, between 150 to 160 pounds, of medium-brown complexion and speaks with a Jamaican accent. He is wanted for the armed robbery of Tommy Girl Beauty Saloon at 1:30 a.m. Dec. 16.

Suspect 7 - This suspect is five feet, four to eight inches tall, of slim build, weighs between 160 to 165 pounds, of dark complexion and between the ages 20 to 24 years. He is wanted for the armed robbery of Little Angels Pre-school on Fifth Street, The Grove, at 7:55 a.m. on Jan. 18.

The police are asking the public to be on the lookout for persons fitting similar descriptions of the suspects sought, and to call 322-2561 or 328-8477 if they have any information that could lead to their arrest and conviction.

In other crime news, the Drug Enforcement Unit in collaboration with Operation Bahamas America Turks and Caicos, OPBAT, arrested three men found in possession of 1,334 pounds of marijuana, with a street value of $124,000.

Police press liaison officer Supt. Hulan Hanna reported Tuesday that around 9 p.m. Monday, an OPBAT exercise intercepted a go-fast boat at the Tongue of the Ocean in Andros and seized the narcotics along with the vessel.

The men, ages 25, 32, and 47 are expected to be charged before the drug court some time this week, Hanna said.

Last Friday, a Jamaican was arrested at Nassau International Airport with $30,000 in U.S. currency strapped to his body.

Police on the lookout for robbery suspects

Criminal investigators are on the lookout for two robbery suspects and possibly a third following last weekend's crime spree and is seeking the public's help.

Three male visitors and a service station were held up within an hour and a half of each other Friday afternoon, according to Police Press Liaison Officer Superintendent Basil Rahming.

An American trio -- Paul A. Magee, 59, Stephen Payzert, 51, and Guy Bonanno, 40 -- were playing a game of golf on The Lucayan Country Club Golf Course around 2.30 pm Friday when two masked men suddenly emerged from the bushes, held them up and demanded cash.

One of the bandits was armed with a handgun.

They robbed the men of $150 cash before fleeing into the bushes.

The visitors from Massachusetts were guests at Our Lucaya Beach and Golf Resort and could only tell police that one of the robbers was wearing a black mask.

Nearly two hours later the manageress at Allied Service Station, situated at the Queens Highway and Fishing Hole Road intersection, found herself on the wrong end of a silver gun shortly after 4.00 pm when the driver of a red midsize car entered the establishment.

The driver of the car -- make, license number and model unknown -- is described as being about 5'8" to 5'9" tall and of light brown complexion.

The manageress was behind the service counter when the man ordered her to take all of the money out of the drawer and put it into a bag. She did.

The robber exited the gas station with an undetermined amount of cash, then got back into the red car and drove off, heading west on Queen's Highway towards Pinder's Point.

"The police is appealing to anyone who may have any information regarding these two very serious crimes to please call the Crime Tipsters Hotline at 352-1919, the duty officer at 911 or 352-8333 or the Grand Bahama Divisional Detective Unit at 352-9774/5," Superintendent Rahming added.

PM launches new Abaco subdivision

Six million dollars have already been spent on infrastructure alone on the development of a 664-lot subdivision in Abaco called Central Pines, which occupies more than 538 acres of land. Residents of Dundas Town, Murphy Town and Marsh Harbour, including Pigeon Pea and The Mud, gathered for the launching of this subdivision by the Prime Minister and Minister for Housing and Social Development, Hubert Ingraham.

Prime Minister Ingraham announced during a town meeting Friday evening that phase one - 423 lots - have been developed, and, in his address to the crowd of an estimated 200 people who crammed the assembly area of the Abaco Central Primary School in Marsh Harbour, this subdivision will have lots to house single and multi-family dwellings and, upon its completion, is expected to be second only to the Millennium Gardens subdivision in New Providence in terms of amenities.

The subdivision boasts of sites available for up to four churches, a complex to house all Government offices including a post office, and also a police headquarters, mini-hospital, two convenience stores, two sites for day care facilities, two large areas for parks and nature trails, and a sporting complex.

"The Government is not interested in collecting any money for the Government land," the Prime Minister told those present. "The Government's interest is in getting back every penny it puts in the subdivision that is borrowed from the National Insurance Board so that money is available for National Insurance contributors together with interest and thereon."

The Prime Minister explained that the Government allots very little public money to housing or development of land for housing purposes, but rather borrows from the National Insurance Board and lends it to the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation at low interest rates. This money is then made available for homes and to the Ministry of Housing for the development of subdivisions, but not without repayment with interest.

"The Minister of Housing would be required to repay them all of the money that they borrow, plus the interest on the money," Prime Minister Ingraham added, "because the National Insurance Board is not in the business of throwing your contributions away.

"So every nickel that the Ministry of Housing puts into a subdivisions that he gets from the National Insurance Board has to be repaid in full."

The nation's leader stated that the population in Dundas and Murphy Towns and Marsh Harbour have expanded greatly and are now the fastest growing communities in the country. He noted that the demand for housing has, therefore, been created, but advised that people borrow only if they have to.

"The housing needs in Dundas and Murphy Town have exploded," he mentioned. "Their population increased beyond any reasonable expectation over the last 10 - 15 years, and the same thing applies here in Marsh Harbour.

"As a result of that, a great demand for housing has been created," he continued, "and many people are living in accommodations that are not fit, from their point of view, for them to occupy and they can do better but they do not have either the land or the means by which they can build their own homes."

He added that the Government will devote most of its energy to selling lots, instead of building homes.

More that 200 applications for lots have been submitted and processing of these will begin this week. The lots, which will vary in size from 80 X 120 feet to 119 X 200 feet, will sell for 95 cents per square foot. Lots will be sold to Bahamian citizens 18 years or older, with preference given to first-time owners.

"The fact that I say its only to Bahamians doesn't mean that if you are married to a non-Bahamian that you and your husband or your wife can't buy a lot together. You can," Mr. Ingraham noted. "We regard a marriage between a Bahamian citizen and a non-Bahamian as good enough for our policy.

"We believe that this subdivision has something that can match the pocketbook of most people who are seeking to get their own homes," Prime Minister Ingraham continued. "We will put in place a variety of options to accommodate you."

The Minister for Housing and Social Development reported that work has started in another subdivision in Sandy Point. The Prime Minister is expected to return to Abaco within two weeks for a town meeting on the referendum.

Marsh Harbour to get new harbour by end of the year

By year's end, residents and businesses in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, should be enjoying a newly renovated harbour with an estimated cost of $13 million.

The project, which began in November 200,1 is set to revamp the existing harbour in the Abaco capital, including the amenities associated therewith.

After 150 thousand yards of dredging and filling-in a part of the existing harbour (now submerged), the facility will feature a new warehouse for Bahamas Customs, a new administration building, and a new access road to get to and from the new dock.

American Bridge, a company out of the United States, is contracted to do the dredging, and Bahamas Hotmix out of Abaco will perform the roadwork.

According to American Bridge Project Manager Mark Bell, the dredging is being carried out 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the project appears to be on schedule for its November completion.

Member of Parliament for the South Abaco, Robert Sweeting, explained that the growth in population and businesses in the area generated the need for a bigger, better facility, noting that the existing harbour has been in place before the PLP took control of the government.

"Those facilities were put in there, basically, to accommodate at that time, I think, two boats out of Nassau per week and a four-nightly boat from Florida," the parliamentary representative told The Freeport News. "Now we have several weekly ships out of the US and Nassau.

"There is just a tremendous growth in this area and Abaco, so certainly its something that should have been done long before we came to power, but it was a commitment that we made and I am certainly exited to see it finally underway."

This is not the only project that residents on the northeastern island can expect to see developing over the next few months. The construction of a new airport terminal is set to go to tender very shortly.

"We are really exited about that," Mr. Sweeting said, "It's a major facility," he continued explaining that at this point, the installation is underway to enable the airport to get a rating approved for night flights. This installation is expected to be completed by the end of February.

And with the renovation of several hotel properties in the area, the representative is optimistic about Abaco's tourism outlook.

"We're on the move," he said. "There was some disruption because of the Word Trade Center disaster, but I believe it looks like we're geared for a really good touristic season, so we're really looking forward to getting completely back on track."

Rotarians Worldwide Rally To Support All Saints Camp

Feeding over 50 people three meals a day is just one of the many challenges which the staff at the All Saints Camp face. This job will be made much easier soon with the installation of a walk-in refrigerator and freezer thanks to a donation by Rotary.

Two years ago members of the Rotary Club of New Providence, which has been a long-time supporter of the All Saints Camp, witnessed firsthand the problems, which the Camp faced in securing sufficient quantities of food and then ensuring it would not spoil due to limited refrigeration space.

"There was insufficient storage space which contributed to spoilage and waste. We felt that a commercial grade storage system would solve that problem and also improve the nutritional quality of the food for the residents," states Rotarian Bob Harvey who has coordinated the effort by Rotary.

The $24,000 price tag for a cooler-freezer was presented to members of the Rotary Club of New Providence with a challenge. "Relative to our fellow Rotary Clubs, we are a small club and we try to spread our community service work and donations around. In order to make this feasible, we started to look at our network of fellow Rotarians throughout the world for additional financial support" states Mr. Harvey.

The Rotary Club of New Providence only had $4,000 and the willingness to contribute the labour necessary to install the 16'x2O'x7.6' combination cooler and freezer. This left the club short $20,000. Support was soon found through the club's Rotarian neighbours in Central Florida.

Through a collaborative effort of the Rotary Club of New Providence, the Rotary Club of Seminole, Florida; Rotary District 6950 in Central Florida; and the Rotary Club of Pinellas Park in Florida; $12,000 was raised. The club then approached Rotary International's

Matching Grants Program for Humanitarian Projects and presented a project package for a matching $12,000 grant which would give the required $24,000 to complete the project.

Rotary International came through. "Rotary International gets a large number of requests each year, so we were very pleased to have been awarded the grant. We believe that a combination of the worthiness of the project, the collaboration with our follow Rotarians in Florida, and our own Club member's hands on support - bode well in our favour," states Mr. Harvey.

Final touches on the installation were completed this past Saturday by a team of over a dozen Rotary volunteers. "We rolled up our sleeves over a week ago and prepared the foundation. Thanks to the teamwork of our club members and the direction of club member Tim Dames from Tim's Refrigeration, we've completed this in great time" states Club President Ansel Watson.

Beaming with pride and gratitude throughout the installation has been the Reverend Father Glenroy Nottage, Director for the Camp. "We are very grateful to our Rotary friends and thank them for stepping up to the challenge" states Reverend Nottage. "This will go a long way toward helping us to provide and preserve fresh food for the residents and improve our food hygiene and storage space," he adds.

The All Saints Camp is located off Carmichael Road on approximately five acres of land and houses nearly 50 adults and 10 children, primarily HIV positive/AIDS sufferers. Last year the camp served an estimated 50,000 meals.

The project is in step with the theme "Mankind is our Business" adopted by Rotary Clubs throughout the world this year to reinforce to members as well as to the world community that the call for service to fellow beings is an essential part of being a Rotarian.

Ambassador James Smith CBE To Attend British Foreign Office International Conference

British High Commissioner Peter Heigl called on Bahamas Trade Ambassador James Smith prior to his departure for London this week as a guest of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to attend an international conference on "Trade and Economic Integration in the Americas: Implications for the Hemisphere, Europe and Asia". Senior speakers and participants at the FCO conference will comprise delegates from over 30 nations, including representatives from US State Department and Department of Commerce, InterAmerican Development Bank, Organisation of American States, World Customs Organisation, European Commission and Representatives of the Japanese, European and South American governments and economic research institutions. Mr Smith stated that he was grateful for the opportunity to participate in this important dialogue. During his stay in London he intended also to call on senior trade policy officials in the UK's Department of Trade and have talks with Foreign Office Caribbean and European Union Departments.

The British High Commissioner commented that the UK was keen to assist the Bahamas as a leading government in the Caribbean region to promote regional interests and to take up opportunities to participate in international trade discussions. UK ministers believed that prospects for improved standards of living in the Caribbean would depend greatly on negotiating new world trade arrangements which ensured that the interests of the region, which included many small and potentially vulnerable economies, were understood and built into future international trade structures.

picture shows: British High Commissioner Mr Peter Heigl presenting Ambassador HE Mr James Smith CBE with British Airways tickets and Conference Agenda.

PM opens Business Outlook Seminar via videotape

In a videotaped address, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham officially opened the annual Business Outlook 2002 seminar Monday morning.

He was unable to address the gathering in person because as chairman of the Caribbean Community, he left the country early Monday to oversee a resolution of the political deadlock in the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Participants assembled at Nassau Marriott Resort & Crystal Palace Casino on Cable Beach were able to view the Prime Minister on a mounted screen as he addressed "The State of the Bahamian Economy", reporting a modest rate of growth in 2001.

He pointed out several reasons why any government in a democratic society is deeply concerned with the performance of the economy.

It is accepted that a strong and growing economy enhances the social and economic security of a people, he said.

"It raises the living standards of all," and also ensures that "unemployment opportunities are available to all social groups," the Prime Minister said. "It facilitates the development of inclusive social policies so that everyone - including those persons whose circumstances disadvantage them in obtaining employment - share equitably in prosperity, thereby reducing discontent and social tensions.

"It also provides resources for strengthening social cohesion through better education and health services, and it provides resources for regulatory activities and policing so that all can benefit from a more stable and secure environment."

The Prime Minister went to Trinidad on a private plane, accompanied by Parliamentary Commissioner Errol Bethel, and former Deputy Parliamentary Commissioner Philip Turner.

Ingraham, along with the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonzalves, and Secretary-General of CARICOM Edwin Carrington were scheduled to meet with Trinidad's President Arthur Robinson at 12 noon Monday.

They would subsequently meet with President Patrick Manning at 2:30 p.m., and former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, at 5 p.m.

Panday, the first Asian-origin leader to occupy the office, became prime minister in 1995.

Prime Minister Ingraham is expected to return home no later than Tuesday.

"We thought CARICOM should offer some kind of assistance," Ingraham said, adding that the Bahamas specifically will aid in Trinidad's computer problems.

He said he had spoken several times with Panday and with Manning, but did not reveal details of the conversations.

Last December, Trinidad and Tobago faced new political turmoil after the opposition ditched an accord on the nation's new government, while Prime Minister Patrick Manning appointed his wife to his Cabinet.

The Opposition United National Congress led by Panday, and the People's National Movement led by Manning each won 18 of the parliament's 36 seats, resulting in the deadlocked Dec. 10. 2001 general elections.

The UNC called Manning's new government "illegitimate" and said that another election should be held, canceling a truce between the two major parties after the elections.

Shortly after the elections, both parties agreed to allow President Robinson to choose a new leader. Robinson chose Manning, a 56-year-old petroleum geologist who served as prime minister from 1991 to 1995. President Robinson swore him in as the new prime minister on Dec. 24, 2001.

The twin island republic is made up of 1.3 million people of East Indian and African descent. The nation is rich with petroleum reserves which became increasingly exploited to support its chemical-based manufacturing industries.

In 1797, Britain seized Trinidad from Spain, and Tobago from France in 1802. Unification of the two islands took place in 1888.

In 1956, late, former prime minister Eric Williams founded the PNM, and, supported mainly by Blacks, won the general election. The Indian population supported the opposition.

In 1990-1991, the Premier was taken hostage in a failed fundamentalist coup. The PNM was returned to power.

Mitchell reprimands FNM - hurried manner in passing bills

Opposition Senator Fred Mitchell on Tuesday chastised the Government for the hurried manner in which it sought to make changes to the Bahamas' Constitution.

Mitchell, who has been personally involved in advocacy for constitutional change for almost two decades, said he resented the circumstances under which senators have been brought and the method by which they were asked to deal with this "very serious matter".

Speaking in the Upper Chamber, Mitchell said although the changes were necessary, it was a desperate attempt by the Government to win the next election.

"The changes that are proposed in my view are not fundamental changes. There is nothing that this Government proposes to do by way of constitutional amendment that cannot be accomplished by ordinary legislation," he said.

Mitchell pointed out that the Constitution already gave Parliament the power to grant citizenships by an "ordinary act."

He cited Article 13, which stated: "Parliament may by law make provision for the acquisition of citizenship of The Bahamas by persons who do not become citizens of The Bahamas by virtue of the provisions of this Chapter."

He said: "If the Prime Minister and his Government wanted to help eliminate the problem of the perceived inequality of women and their access to citizenship and their chidden, when the FNM came to power they could have passed a simple act of Parliament to provide for citizenship of these persons affected."

Mitchell accused the Prime Minister of not believing in equality of the sexes any more than the man in the moon. But, he said, Ingraham saw the political value in making people think that he did. He said the prime minister was using women and women's issues to defeat his political enemies.

"If the Government really wanted to engage in fundamental change, it would take the bull by the horns and explain to the people of the country why it is necessary for the citizenship laws to be changed to two simple formulations: anyone born in The Bahamas is a citizen of The Bahamas and anyone whose parents are Bahamian whether born in or out of wedlock is Bahamian," he said.

Mitchell said that would put an end to all of these tortuous formulations about who was not a citizen of The Bahamas.

But, he said if the country was to have meaningful constitutional change, then there must be a properly appointed Commission. The Commission, he said, ought to be a committee of the whole of both Houses of Parliament, which would then appoint a blue ribbon panel of persons without regard to political party affiliation.

They would have the responsibility of canvassing the country and making recommendations to the all-party Committee. A report would then be adopted by that committee and from that, the Government would deduce a green paper.

Mitchell said the green paper would be circulated throughout the country and once there was necessary feedback from the public, Government would then publish a white paper with its final proposal and then the drafts men would go to work.

Mitchell said following the passage of any of the bill in Parliament, there must be a full and proper campaign of explanation to the public, with public monies provided for both the positive view and all the opposition views to be heard across the country.

"This process is not fair. It is clearly not fair. And as for me, when I get into the ballot box, I will be voting no," he said, adding that was the correct position to take at this time, even as the PLP supported some of the ideas contained in the Bills.

Sharon Wilson on Const.

Former magistrate Sharon Wilson said an independent commission should be appointed to conduct the proposed exercise of constitutional reform in The Bahamas.

This, she said, would be similar to steps taken by Jamaica to review its constitution in 1985.

"It is not in the interest of public policy that constitutional reform be perceived as partisan," she said. "Therefore it should be convened and carried out under the aegis of an independent commission of a wide cross section of public representation."

Wilson was speaking Wednesday night at a ZNS-sponsored forum on Constitutional Reform held at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel on West Bay Street.

"Any dramatic change in the Constitution ought only to be contemplated after wide public discussion," said Wilson, now a practicing attorney.

"Such public dialogue would help many to become informed on the existing provisions of the Constitution as a basis of understanding the changes which they are being asked by their vote to bring about."

Wilson spoke on the independent boundaries, citizenship, referendum issues, responsibilities of the Attorney-General, and the Independent Director of Public Prosecution.

She defined the Constitution of The Bahamas as a finite document which delineated the Bahamian citizen and his fundamental rights, outlined the composition and powers of organs of the state, and regulated the relations of these various organs to one another and to the private citizen.

"It is our supreme law," she said. "All laws flow from it. A change in the Constitution amounts to a change in the very foundation on which our legal framework is built."

According to Wilson, such a change in any democratic society ought only to be approached after a comprehensive consultative process which allowed an opportunity for every citizen to be heard. The Bahamas was no exception, she said.

"This means that a change in our Constitution ought only to be contemplated after there has been an opportunity for public analysis, debate and discussion, and for the voice of every citizen from every sector corner of our archipelago to be heard," Wilson said.

And to achieve this, she suggested that an independent commission be appointed to garner public opinion before such a massive exercise was undertaken.

She noted that in Jamaica, the commission comprised a wide-cross section of the Jamaican community and was given 10 months to execute its functions.

"The changes which are being proposed to our Constitution have far-reaching effects," Wilson said. "The process of allowing for public input is not merely a procedural one, but one which affects the substantive right of a people to be informed and to understand all of the implications which are embodied in the proposed changes."

She argued that the question was not whether the Bahamian people would say "yes" or "no" to the questions being put for constitutional change.

"It is whether or not the answer reflected in that vote is as a result of a process which has allowed for the most informed and reasoned position to be taken by every voting Bahamian."

Turning to the Status of Children Bill which sought to secure the equal status of all children whether born in a relationship or marriage or otherwise, Wilson held the view that the measure "cannot give or attempt to give citizenship other than is provided for in the Constitution of The Bahamas."

It is noteworthy, she said, that among the other provisions of the Bill there was one which established a right for a father of a child born out of wedlock to have the paternity of the child declared.

"The bill confers this limited right to fathers in order to aid in bringing about the equality of children," Wilson said.

She added that the proposed legislation however did not appear to take into consideration a perceived injustice which existed in respect to fathers of children born out of wedlock "and which from my experience causes more grievance than any other singular apparent anomaly in laws relating to parent/child."

Under the bill, certain rights including the rights of inheritance were conferred upon children in respect to all fathers.

However, those fathers of children born out of wedlock still had no right or entitlement in law, "not even the right to initiate an action for access in respect to these children," Wilson said.

Other speakers at the session included Attorney-General Carl Bethel, former Attorney-General Paul Adderley, Archbishop Drexel Gomez; attorneys Maurice Glinton, Desmond Edwards, Gina Morley, and Dean of the College of The Bahamas, Thaddeus McDonald.

After the three-hour segment, forum facilitator Darrold Miller announced that the next session would be scheduled for Feb. 7 at the BCPOU Hall on Farrington Road. He said the number of panelists would be reduced to allow time for more public questioning.


At the entrance to the existing government dock in Marsh Harbour there is a roundabout. On this roundabout there is a monument. The small monument commemorates Independence Day, 1973. The inscription on the top half of the monument reads "Forward, Upward, Onward Together" - Abaco, Bahamas. Carved also is an Abaco sailboat. This monument is part of the history of Abaco and the history of Bahamian Independence.

I began to wonder what would happen to this monument, as the roundabout will be destroyed when the new Government Dock is ready to be opened. I managed to find out the persons who had the monument made and also erected. Mrs. Nadene Beneby of Marsh Harbour told me that Mr. Gordon Hudson and the late Mr. Arnold Edwards, both of Dundas Town, commissioned the monument to be made and erected it on the roundabout with the help of Mr. Percy Archer. Unfortunately Mr. Archer is ill and I have been unable to talk to him.

I was able to talk to Deputy Chief Councilor for Central Abaco, Mr. Jason Swain and he told me that the Central Council would relocate the monument to a location which the community would approve of. The decision will be made at a later date as to the monument's relocation.


Work at the new government dock has begun again and is progressing at a good pace. Dredging is still being done. Work is done 24 hours per day on the construction of the dock.


'Happenings', the half-hour radio show is back on the air on Thursdays at 3:30 on Radio Abaco. Hosted by Michelle Thurston and Ronnie Ferguson, with Devaughn Edgecombe doing sports and Brian Symantec editorials, Happenings at Abaco Central was off the air due to the Christmas holiday. Tune in and hear the happenings of ACH every Thursday at 3:30.


Miss Gaitor's grade 10 Civics class presented a series of laminated posters they made in class to Abaco Central High at an assembly on January 13. The posters dealt with hygiene and were placed in the boys' and the girls' bathrooms. The posters were one of the projects of the Civics class.


Last Friday, January 11, was National Report Card Day for all Government schools in the Bahamas. Abaco Central High had the best ever report card day turnout by parents and guardians. By 5 p.m. less than 20 report cards had not been picked up and by noon on Monday the 14 there were less than 5 report cards not picked up. Parents and Guardians I congratulate you. Keep it up.

As a staff member of Abaco Central High School I would like to thank the Abaco Central High School PTA for providing lunch for the teachers on National Report Card Day. This gesture was greatly appreciated.


It seems that the raccoon population is increasing in Abaco and they are moving south. Raccoons were first spotted in North Abaco about two years ago. At the time some persons spoke out to do something about them as they feared their numbers would increase and eventually they would travel so far south as the Abaco Parrot Preserve at the southern tip of Abaco.

Well, it appears that these persons were correct, for two weeks ago three raccoons were run over south of Touch of Class Club on the S C Bootle Highway in Treasure Cay. Touch of Class is located a good distance south of the entrance into Treasure Cay.

So now is the time to take preventative measures to protect our precious Abaco parrots and their home.


The Annual Bicycle races sponsored by Road Runners Bicycle store in Dundas Town and the Interact Club of St. Francis De Sales school are scheduled for January 24 and 25 at the track in Murphy Town. On the 24, the races will be for Primary Schools, with age groups 7 and under, years, 10-11 years. Schools participating will be St. Francis de Sales' Agape Christian, Long Bay and Central Abaco Primary. There will be 2 races, one 400-metre and one 1600-metres. Race time is 1 p.m. On the 25, the junior and seniors will take to their bikes. The age groups are 12 and under, 13-14 years and 15 years and above. Schools participating will be Abaco Central High, St. Francis De Sales, Long Bay, S C Bootle High School, and Forest Heights Academy.

Entry fee is $4.00 and proceeds will go to Trauma One Ambulance service. Entry forms can be obtained at participating schools and Road Runners Bicycle Store. Road Runners will be donating all of the trophies and ribbons for the winners of the races.

Constitutional forum opens to mixed reviews

The first in a planned series of public meetings on constitutional reform opened Wednesday to harsh criticisms against the government for the manner in which the process is being conducted.

Moreover, one would have thought that such a meeting would have been held in a more accessible venue, rather than the posh British Colonial Hilton Hotel on West Bay Street.

Looking around the Governor's Ballroom, a member of the audience asked where are the people.

The forum carried live via ZNS Radio and TV-13, was addressed by Attorney-General Carl Bethel, former Attorney-General Paul Adderley, Archbishop Drexel Gomez; attorneys Maurice Glinton, Sharon Wilson, Desmond Edwards, Gina Morley, and Dean of the College of The Bahamas, Thaddeus McDonald.

Adderley, one of the framers of The Bahamas Independence Order, 1973, congratulated ZNS' initiative on sponsoring the forum, but condemned the corporation for its failure to invite Progressive Liberal Party candidates on the panel.

"Democracy requires fairness overtly displayed," Adderley said, adding that politicians do not educate their constituents on issues such as the one at hand.

He said although PLP candidates Allyson Maynard-Gibson and Alfred Sears declined to participate, "a telephone cal to the Leader of the PLP could have satisfied fairness.

"If he declined to nominate a panelist, fairness would have been satisfied," Adderley said.

Bethel noted however, that the Constitution is not hidden behind a veil in the "Holy of Holies" and untouchable by "profane" hands.

"It is a living document that speaks to the way in which we as a people wish to order our society," Bethel said. "Constitutions throughout the world are always being amended to remain relevant. Virtually every Caribbean Constitution has been amended. The Canadian Constitution has been amended and repatriated. The U.S. Constitution has been amended at least 14 times."

Bethel said that it was unfortunate that the discussion has, thus far, been little more than one long, and occasionally nasty argument about procedures.

"More important than this argument surely would be a real debate about differing visions as to how The Bahamas should be structured and its institutions constituted," Bethel said.

He noted that the fact that the Bills have been passed in the House of Assembly "does not mean that consultation ceases or cannot be engaged in.

"The very fact that of the holding of a national referendum is the highest form of expression of participatory democracy."

The Free National Movement government is proposing six questions to eligible voters.

1- Do you approve of a Teaching Service Commission?

2- Do you approve of an Independent Parliamentary Commissioner?

3 - Do you approve of the creation of an Independent Boundaries Commission?

4- Do you approve amending the Constitution to increase the normal retirement age of judges from 67 to 72 for the Supreme Court, and up to 75 for the Court of Appeal justices? and,

5- Do you approve amending The Constitution to permit the foreign spouse of a Bahamian citizen to reside and work in The Bahamas for the first five years of marriage, and thereafter entitled to citizenship.

6 - Do you agree that all forms of discrimination against women, their children and spouses should be removed from the Constitution and that no person should be discriminated against on the grounds of gender.

Adderley wished that the government had approached the amendments to the Constitution in accordance with the 39-year-old tradition which had been started in 1963 by the first Constitutional Conference for The Bahamas; then in 1968 and 1972 which were conducted in an absolutely non-partisan way, firstly by the United Bahamian Party and then by the PLP by the participation of all political parties in the constitutional amending process.

"The Constitution belongs to the Bahamian people not to any one political party," he said, "or to correspondence between the Prime Minister and those whom he chooses to consult. This ought to have been national process."

"Instead, it is seriously flawed in content and method of implementation."

On the referendum questions, Adderley said, "I will not vote yes to any of the Constitutional changes proposed, firstly because no inconvenience or problem is caused to anyone and nobody denied any rights in the Constitution.

"Until the Acts are amended properly anybody can apply to be a citizen, and I would wish restored to the Constitution the rights of the child of an unwed mother which have been taken from her."

Bishop Gomez called for a return of democracy to the masses, "because if we don't respect the people of The Bahamas then we should not have a Parliament."

He also pointed out that the FNM promised a consultative process on three separate occasions and have not kept that pledge.

"I interpret that as simply disregarding the importance of the people and a concept that once you are in Parliament, you can make these decisions irrespective of the promises.

"I am totally opposed to that approach because it sells the people short."

Up to press time, the forum was still fielding questions from the audience, past the announced two- hour time from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Uproar Over NIA Haitian Hackers

Emotions are running high at the Nassau International Airport (NIA) between taxi cab drivers and Haitian hackers, who are said to be soliciting fares illegally.

Cab drivers claim on a daily basis more than 20 of these immigrants are stationed at the airport, charging exorbitant fees to visitors who are clueless as to what is going on.

Armed with placards, the enraged cab drivers took their plight to the Road Traffic Department on Tuesday during a peaceful two-hour demonstration in front of the Government Building.

The cab drivers have asked the Prime Minister to intervene because they felt that all other avenues - the Airport Authority and Road Traffic Department - had let them down on several occasions and were only "full of promises."

"Every year we go through all the right procedures. We pay insurance, for Public Service badges, and we have to have a proper dress code, and these Haitians do nothing, and they are being allowed to steal our jobs," said Cheryl Ferguson, taxi representative at NIA.

"If a customer leave their luggage in their cars, they can't retrieve it. But in a taxi, 99 per cent of the time when a luggage or a personal item is left, they can locate us because we are properly licensed, with proper taxi plates," Ferguson said.

She added that the same situation existed at the Charter Section.

Ferguson accused the Airport Authority and Road Traffic Department of being lax in their jobs when dealing with the situation.

She said officials were blaming the situation on language barrier.

"They (Haitian hackers) have become so greedy because they see that no one is chasing them, that they are now taking visitors, Bahamians, and whomever they could."

Stephen Stubbs, a cab driver of more than 30 years said the situation had reached the point where Bahamian taxi cab drivers were quarreling with each other for fares.

When contacted, Airport Authority General Manager Idris Reid denied this assertion.

He said the Authority was aware of the complaint and had asked the cab drivers on several occasions to present their evidence of persons who were involved in hacking.

"I am sympathetic to their plight, but without names and information of the persons involved there is nothing we can do," Reid said.

However, he noted that security officers have been put on alert and a number of persons were being watched.

"If I find that there are persons transporting people from the airport illegally, then the situation will be dealt with," Reid said.

But, he said, the Authority had no evidence to support the hacking charge.

Accordingly, Road Traffic Controller Brensil Rolle said he did not have the authority to approach the Haitian hackers and ask them to cease their operations.

"I cannot say to an individual who is dressed in normal plain clothes that he ought not to go on the airport lot. If the person speaks another language and he comes there to meet his friends or other people, I do not have the authority to tell him not to do so," Rolle said.

But, he added that he identified several stands on Bay Street and near the Hilton Hotel which were to be labeled for taxi cabs only.

Miss Bahamas Pageant 19 contestants, six crowns, one spectacul

For the first time in the Miss Bahamas Pageant, 19 beautiful and intelligent Bahamian women compete for the six Miss Bahamas

National Crowns of which the Miss World Bahamas is the premier title, the winner will be awarded free travel by air and sea and an

automobile, among other fantastic prizes, plus she will represent The Bahamas at the Miss World Pageant

The contestants heritage span the islands of The Bahamas from Grand Bahama, North and South Eleuthera, Abaco and New


Sharell Armaly is a graduate of Clarke Atlanta University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fashion Design and

Merchandising and a Certificate in European Marketing and Communications (London College of Fashion). She is 21 years old and

was born in Nassau.

Cardell Bodie is an Honour Roll student at the College of The Bahamas pursuing a degree in Nursing. She was the first junior at her

high school to be elected Student Government President and also obtained the Vice-President's Award for the Highest GPA. She is

20 years old and say her name Cardell means Conqueror and Leader of Many.

Lonelle Butler - This 18-year-old Bio Chemistry major seeks to pursue her life's goal by establishing herself as a premier scientist in

her field of Micro Pathology. During her high school years, Lonelle gained membership in the Beta Club, an American based

international service organization geared towards encouraging social awareness in youth.

Shavaughn E. Albury is a 1999 graduate at Queen's College. She has studied two years of Political Science but she's now preparing

to transfer to the College of The Bahamas where she will major in Corporate Law and Banking and Finance. She aspires to be Prime

Minister of The Bahamas.

T'Shura Akeesha Ambrose was born in Nassau in 1977. Has experience in both dance and modeling but this beauty is also with

brains. She holds an Associate's degree in Banking and Finance and is currently enrolled as a second year law student (LL.B. Law

Honours Degree) at the University of Wolverhampton at Holborn College, London.

Neavada Maria Dames - Finding happiness, prosperity and comfort is what most people desire in life. This 20 year old had no idea

of the struggles, the passions or the successes she would encounter. Her high school experience has taught her no matter how hard

you try nothing is worth doing unless you do it well. She is presently a student at the College of The Bahamas pursuing a BBA

(Bachelors of Business Administration) in the area of Business Management. She enjoys photography, modeling and acting.

Anishka Colebrooke - Considers herself strong willed, intelligent, courageous and determined. A once Miss Teen Bahamas

contestant she fells that the enjoyment she experienced during that pageant encouraged her to enter the Miss Bahamas National

Pageant. She swims, dances, travels in her leisure time and enjoys the company of other people.

Shenique Suzanne Darling - This 20 year old presently works for one of our national papers as a Feature Writer and recently

graduated from the College of The Bahamas, with an Associate of Arts degree in Journalism and Communications. She some day

plans to be Editor of a Women's Magazine hopeful one with its origin in The Bahamas.

Lanique Chreese Gardiner is an 18 year old from Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera and a graduate of Abaco Central High. Because of

family situations, at an early age Lanique saw the need to seek after school employment to help her aunts support her and a younger

brother. It was at this early age she says, she learnt the value of a dollar, hard work and dedication as through those difficult years she

was able to maintain a 3.00 GPA. She plans to become a General Practitioner. She is very grateful to the people that have added value

to her life and feels it's time to give back to her family and country as she achieves her goals and the title affords the winner such






Sir Milo's anniversary marked with new call for passage of bil

The National Heroes Committee has called on Parliament to pass the long awaited National Heroes and National Honour Bills before the general elections.

The committee, which is marking the 23rd anniversary of the death of Sir Milo Butler, feared that "the Bills will die" if the House prorogues.

"The agenda of Parliament has been so crowded that this progressive bill has been put on the back-burner," said chairman of the Committee, Father Sebastian Campbell.

He was speaking Tuesday at the wreath-laying ceremony at the base of Sir Milo's bust in Rawson Square, along with other committee members.

This ceremony also marked the 11th Red Mass anniversary of the committee, in which they continued to demand the replacement of Discovery Day, which is held on the second week in October, with a National Heroes Day holiday.

They insisted that this holiday should be held every second Monday in October. Additionally, the committee has called for a National Park to be established for the statues and inscriptions of Bahamians deemed "as National Heroes."

Also, a national system of honours that would rival the Bahamian colonial heritage in which all generations of Bahamians "can be justly proud."

"This has been our cry for years. We had hoped to have one celebration on the proposed National Heroes Day. We still look forward to this, and again say thank you God for the life of Sir Milo Butler and the opportunity to again present our case," Father Campbell said.

In an interview, Loretta Butler-Turner, 41, grand-daughter of Sir Milo, noted the committee's efforts to push the Bills to become law here, which would show The Bahamas' development as a Third World country.

However, she expressed some disappointment that Parliament had not passed the Bills as yet, but hoped it soon would occur.

"There is disappointment that it is taking this long, but everything of this magnitude does not happen over night, it does take a while, and so I think that we will see this come to fruition later this year," she said.

The committee noted that this day was the anniversary of awakening "the sleeping conscience" of this nation to accept the fact that it produces heroes, adding that Sir Milo, "undoubtedly, is the first among equals."

In October last year, Government considered reverting the Discovery Day Holiday into National Heroes Day, following the death of former Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling in Aug. 2000.

During this time, the bill was introduced and debated in Parliament for the purpose of honouring Bahamians who contributed to the development of the Bahamas.

However, the Government noted that it was not proposing to add another holiday to the 10 recreational days in the year.

Christie for Farm Road

Initially upset over the major boundary changes to the Centreville Constituency, which he represented for 25 consecutive years, Progressive Liberal Party Leader Perry Christie has decided to contest the new Farm Road area in the next general elections.

Christie made the announcement Sunday during a PLP press conference at the Nassau Marriott Resort & Crystal Palace Casino, where, in the wake of boundary changes, he reintroduced candidates for the reconstituted districts.

He said that some candidates had to be shifted from originally proposed districts as a result of new electoral boundaries coming into force.

Christie will be opposing Free National Movement candidate Sonny Russell in Farm Road.

It was during the debate on the Constituencies Commissions Report in the House of Assembly in November that Christie and Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham clashed over the Centreville reshuffle.

Renamed St. Thomas More, the new district will comprise 2,153 of the registered voters in the former Shirlea Constituency and 1,165 registered voters in Centreville.

Farm Road will take in voters from the former Grant's Town constituency represented by PLP incumbent Bradley Roberts. The constituency known as Bain Town has been expanded to include Bain and Grant's Town, which is reflected in the new name, Bain and Grant's Town.

Other changes in the PLP line-up include the bowing out of Rev. Dr. C. B. Moss, who was initially announced as the candidate for the Bain and Grant's Town constituency.

Christie thanked Rev. Moss for his "magnanimous and unselfish" support for Roberts' Bain and Grant's Town candidacy.

"We had all looked to having C.B. on our team of candidates but thanks to the gerrymandering of the FNM, we are obliged to make certain necessary adjustments that resulted in a shift of some of our candidates," Christie said. "I am most grateful to C.B. for his statesmanlike approach to this matter.

"By taking the initiative of withdrawing his candidacy, he acted in the best traditions of our great party."

Roberts will go up against FNM candidate Rev. Philip McPhee for the Bain and Grant's Town Constituency.

Christie then introduced veteran politician Neville Wisdom as the candidate for Delaporte, to oppose FNM incumbent Floyd Watkins. Other new candidates include Alyson Maynard-Gibson for Pinewood, against FNM Gaynell Rolle; Sidney Stubbs for Holy Cross, against FNM Carl Bethel; Frank Smith for St.Thomas More, against FNM Senator Pauline Cooper-Nairn; and Glenys Hanna-Martin for Englerston against the FNM's Gladys Sands.

The PLP leader paid homage to Philip Galanis, who opted not to seek re-election for the Englerston Constituency.

"Phil was an exemplary parliamentarian - gentlemanly, courteous, diligent and always thoroughly prepared for debates," Christie said. "He took his responsibilities seriously and always did us proud in addressing national issues in the House, especially when it came to the state and further prospects of our economy.

"In these matters, Phil spoke as a true expert and his contributions were always intelligent, analytical and incisive."

Christie noted that in less than three months, a new government will have been voted into power.

And Bahamians are ready for a change, he said, because "they are sick and tired of the corruption, abuse of power and old, tired, broken down, broken up, arrogant FNM government that seems so cozy with corruption."

A PLP government, he said, will look after the needy and not the greedy, will expand a shrinking economy, create a system of National Health Insurance, break the back of crime, bring a National Service Programme, and establish a "true democracy not Ingraham-ocracy."

"A fresh wind is blowing," Christie said, referring to the PLP's election slogan, and,

"More and more, we can feel it every day. Before, we could only feel it on our face, or in our hair, or on our skin but now we can feel it in our bones.

"And that sweet breeze we feel in our bones today is going to sweep us into power."

Rev Simeon Hall Applauds Efforts Of Policing Community

Commissioner of Police, Paul Farquharson and officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force were lauded on Sunday by the Pastor and members of New Covenant Baptist Church, for a sharp reduction in crime in The Bahamas for 2001.

In making a special presentation to Commissioner Farquharson, at the divine morning worship service, Rev. Dr. Simeon Hall said that despite the appearance of negativity prevailing over the positive in the country, that there were facets of society that were deserving of recognition and support, among which he named The Royal Bahamas Police Force.

"Regardless of the criminal challenges, which are arrayed against it, we believe that the Royal Bahamas Police Force shall continue to make great advancement against those who would destroy our beloved Bahamas with their criminal activity," he said.

Rev. Hall said that most institutions usually reflect the persons that head them.

"In citing this Commissioner," he said, "we by extension salute the yeomen's task performed by all the men and women of the Police Force."

He said that the church was obligated to make people more responsible and law abiding citizens.

Rev. Hall pledged that New Covenant Baptist Church will not only pray for the safety and protection of all law enforcement officers but "we commit ourselves to the ideal of being good law abiding, God-fearing citizens."

Responding to the presentation, Commissioner Farquharson thanked Rev. Hall and the congregation for their continued support.

He said that his presence was symbolic of a joint venture between the police and the Bahamas Christian Council at which time Pastor Hall was President.

Farquharson said that investigations into crimes and it causes during the joint initiative, "revealed a multifaceted phenomenon that requires a multifaceted approach." He said that in most cases heinous crimes committed resulted from underlying factors of domestic violence, single parent homes and the lack of parental guidance.

Commissioner Farquharson noted however that crime and anti-social behavior exists in every strata of society from the very affluent to the immensely deprived.

He said that these realities were a clear indication "that something is fundamentally and morally wrong with us as a people."

The Commissioner of Police said that there is a lot of criticism levied against the government, church and the police for criminals in society "but they are our very own brothers, uncles, nephews, cousins, fathers and to a lesser extent our women." Farquharson said that although there are some unsavory characters in the RBPF whenever they are identified they are readily exposed to the public.

He noted that in recent times there has been meaningful progress in the Community Policing initiative, namely volunteers from the community who on a regular basis visit the East Street South Police Station and assist by answering the telephones and going on foot patrol.

According to Farquharson this ongoing relationship of the wider community partnering with the police has resulted in the successes of the past year.

Further, he said that the church as the moral fiber of society has played an integral role in the decline in crime by "educating its membership and by providing the spiritual and in many instances financial assistance needed in getting the job done."

Commissioner Farquharson also used the opportunity to extend an invitation for others to partner with the police and offer not only physical assistance but also spiritual guidance.

"The job of a police officer is usually a thankless one," he said, "However we are committed to ensuring that our mandate is carried out, which is the protection of life and property, the maintenance of law and order and the apprehension of offenders."

The police chief said that there was strength in unity and called on those in attendance to put aside their differences and form a cohesive unit that would eradicate criminal behavior in society.

Grounds and Beautification-ceremony

The Grounds and Beautification Division of the Department of Environmental Health introduced its first Employee Recognition Programme on Friday by presenting 14 plaques to departmental workers within the various divisions. The Department is expected to present these plaques on a quarterly basis, as well as introduce an employee of the month recognition award.

At the Central Division, Farrington Road, Robin Wright, chief works controller of the Grounds and Beautification Department said the jobs that the department do in New Providence "is often a thankless one."

"We normally don't get recognized unless there is a public complaint," Wright said.

He explained that some times the public often think that their department is a part of the Road Works Department at the Ministry of Works, but they aren't. Additionally, he said that the persons in each department work hard every day, and even though they "may fall short" they try to keep New Providence clean.

The responsibility of each division encompasses the maintenance of all roads side-verges, public school grounds, the Forts and the beaches. Additionally, Wright said that for a short period of time they had the responsibility of cemetery upkeep.

In an interview, Jerome Rhodriquez who has been working in the Garage Department for six years received the award for "Best Attendance" and "Best Worker." He explained that his job is not "to just win awards," but to just to the best he could do.

"I feel that it was nice of them to appreciate my work," Rhodriquez said.

The divisions of the Grounds and Beautifications include: The Central Division, Farrington Road; the Eastern Division, Claridge Road; the City Maintenance Division, Nassau Court; the Nassau Court headquarters at the Ministry of Health, Victoria Gardens.

The awardees were presented with plaques by Sylvia Scriven, M.P. for St. Margaret's and Parliament Secretary Ministry of Health. Scriven also presented a special plaque to the department for cleaning up New Providence in the aftermath of hurricane Michelle.

COB spreads out janitorial staff

The College of The Bahamas and The Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) reached an agreement which introduces a flexible work schedule for janitorial staff at the college. The new "flexi-shift" is expected to take effect Feb. 4.

This agreement, which came about in early January, comes as an administrative strategy to cut back on college expenditures due to the effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, New York. The attack killed thousands of persons and caused the world economy to contract significantly. A final meeting between COB administration and union officials is scheduled for this Friday.

"We needed to do some things to facilitate better working conditions at the College of the Bahamas, and to better utilize our janitorial staff," said Joshua Smith, the college's vice president of Physical Plant and Facilities Development, on Tuesday in an interview.

Smith said the administration expects some uncertainty about the new work schedule among staff concerning the night shifts, but it is hoped that persons will become used to the change.

"People are very skeptical about change, it's very natural," he said.

The agreement, signed by both parties, allows the janitors to now work on a week-day work rotation basis from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 10 pm, instead of just 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Additionally, the janitorial staff will have two 15-minutes coffee-breaks, and an evening supper break. Also, due to the signing of this agreement, the college has terminated contractual services with a janitorial service company, after an eight month work period, that was responsible for the college's night cleaning and maintenance operations. It was also agreed that night shift workers who are unable to work on Fridays because of religious reasons would be required to work on Sundays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"This initiative is one of a number of austerity measures that the college has implemented in light of the events of Sept. 11, 2001," explained Dr. Rhonda Chipman-Johnson, executive vice president, with responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the college, at COB's press breakfast on Monday.

Dr. Chipman-Johnson said out of the 39 member janitorial staff, 25 persons would work the day shift and 14 persons would work the night shift. Additional security and mobile radios, as well as transportation to and from work, will be provided for night shift workers. Additionally, she said six persons may be hired to ensure a more evenly distributed workload, and that Acting Inspectors with the responsibility of supervising the day to day work assignments will be appointed for only a college semester.

"I personally, do not have a problem with it," said Wilhemena Greene, a janitress at the college for 24 years.

The college currently has janitors working at the COB campus, Oakes Field; the School of Hospitality, Thompson Blvd.; the Moss Road Campus, Moss Road; and the V. Munnings Building, Nassau Street.

Turned off voters concern candidate

Her time on the campaign trail has not been an entirely easy one, says Veronica Owens, Progressive Liberal Party candidate for the Garden Hills constituency.

Owens said that she encountered many Bahamians venting such "feelings of hopelessness and frustration" over the political system that they have decided not to vote in the upcoming elections.

The PLP candidate encouraged all, including undecided voters to exercise their constitutional right and vote for the party of their choice. "We must understand that we all have a responsibility to make whatever contribution we can towards this process, and pave the path for a better life," she said.

"To not vote is to give up on self and country, and that's not right," Owens said.

A politician with principles and integrity would make a difference in the direction society takes, she insisted. The Garden Hills candidate challenged all voters to "Examine the candidates seeking to represent their constituencies carefully and support the one you distinguish (to) represent your best interest."

Owens also discouraged persons from indulging in the practice of selling their votes, which she claimed occurred during the last general election. She warned that such practices are illegal.

"To not vote is paramount to relinquishing our lives into the hands of others," she said.

In late June 1997, a few months following the general election, then-Anglican Bishop of The Bahamas Drexel Gomez at a Mass of Thanksgiving broadcast live over Love 97, said that he had been told by persons in several constituencies that "a lot of money was being spent in the election and a lot of dope was being used in the election."

Gomez' call for a Commission of Inquiry was dismissed by then-Minister of Justice/Attorney General Tennyson Wells and Free National Movement Chairman Dwight Sawyer.

Wells dismissed the Bishop's allegations as "Mere rumors and I don't see why anybody should call for a Commission of Inquiry based on rumors."

Both he and Sawyer, while agreeing that it was church leaders' "moral duty" to "speak out on these issues," suggested that Gomez should pass on to the police whatever evidence he had pertaining to the alleged use of drugs and money as voter inducements.

Gomez said he had no proof because "No one was willing to swear affidavits, but many persons have told me they saw it with their own eyes."

Toddler Infected With HIV By Relative

A five-year-old child was infected with the HIV virus by a 26-year-old relative, a doctor told a local seminar on Thursday.

The report was given by Dr Homer Bloomfield, an obstetrician and gynecologist, as he addressed a special workshop on child abuse at a one-day workshop at the Learning Resources Unit, Mackey Street.

Under the theme: "Managing Children at Risk for Child Abuse and Neglect," officials were seeking more efficient methods of investigating, prosecuting guilty persons and providing care for children abused by family members, strangers, or "friends."

They were also educated on the prevention and care of children who have been sexually abused. The workshop was spearheaded by the Ministry of Health's Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect team (SCAN), whose goal is to provide a more supportive and active role in dealing with all forms of child abuse.

Dr. Bloomfield, a member of SCAN, said there were instances of children as young as nine-years-old becoming involved in some sort of sexual activity with some person or other.

Research also showed, he said, that by the time they reached ages 17 or 18, more than 75 per cent of them would have at least participated in one act of sexual intercourse.

"We do know that throughout the world, sexual activity among children is increasing at an alarming rate. A lot of times, these things takes place in silence," he said.

In the United States, Dr. Bloomfield said before adolescents reach the age of 18, one in four girls and one in six boys, will experience some form of sexual abuse. He said there are some children in this country that go to bed every night wondering if someone is going to walk into their room in the middle of the night and have "some kind of sexual relations" with them. He said that sexual molestation can be defined as anytime a child is used or exposed to any form of sexual activity by an adult or an adolescent.

"We've seen them at ages three, four, five and six. You can imagine the life these people have been subjected too, and of course the consequences of this," Dr. Bloomfield said. "Besides the psychological trauma that is experienced during the actual act, it has serious repercussions."

These consequences, he explained, involves the child lacking sleep, unable to perform properly in school, low self-esteem, anger, depression and suicidal thoughts. He said that 98 per cent of child prostitutes have a history of sexual abuse, 85-90 per cent of offenders are known to the abused person, 45-50 percent are sitters, neighbours, or friends, 35-40 percent are family members, and 10 percent are strangers.

"I've seen a kid as young as five-years-old infected with the HIV virus by a 26-year-old relative," he said.

However, he said that while not every report of molestation may be true, none should be ignored.

Dr. Bloomfield noted records from the Department of Social Services-Child Welfare in 1999 where there were 125 reported cases of sexual abuse during that same year, and 58 reports of incest. In comparison to 2000, there were 63 reported cases of sexual abuse, and 51 reports of incest. No reports were given for 2001.

He presented a list of reported sexual offences recorded by the Royal Bahamas Police Force in 1997 which showed 11 reports of incest, 145 reports of rapes, 73 attempted rapes and 239 reports of unlawful sexual intercourse. No reports were given for 1998, 1999, 2000, or 2001.

The workshop was sponsored by The School Psychological Services Unit, Special Services Section and the Department of the Ministry of Education (MOE) in conjunction with the Child Abuse and Neglect Unit, Ministry of Health. Other topics discussed included: Understanding the Law - Legal issues related to child abuse; Understanding the role of school health workers and social workers; Identifying the sexually abused child; The role of the investigative team; The management of the abused child; Role of the Accident and Emergency Department; and Empowering Teachers to build resistant adolescents.

Established about two-years ago, the SCAN team is comprised of voluntary workers from the Private Practitioners Medical Association, Adolescent Health, School Health, Community Clinics, Non-government organisation Crisis Centre, Nursing, Children's Ward, Accident and Emergency, School Psychological Services, MOE, and Health Social Workers.

BDM says Bahamians should prepare for new era

The Bahamas Democratic Movement has encouraged the Bahamas to begin to prepare for readjustment in this new and unpredictable era.

In a press release issued by party leader Cassius Stuart Sunday, the BDM said that this should be the most critical concern of the Bahamas, in terms of restoring the economy and improving the social community life.

"We now live in a different world since the events of Sept 11, as the terrorist attacks changed a global environment, as well as aggravated economic slowdown," he said.

"We must add an innovation engine to our investment and efficiency- driven economy, so that we can become more of an entrepreneurial knowledge economy. We need to change our mindset and operating environment so that the energetic and resourceful, including some of our blest and best, from sucking secure jobs to taking risks and creating opportunities, both in the Bahamas and abroad," said Stuart.

He continued that the next Bahamian generation would have different aspirations from our forefathers, noting that it is the present man who must set the pace and pave the way for these ambitions.

Social, moral, cultural and political treasures must be preserved and modified to ensure a thriving economy for this era Stuart stated in the press release.

"The changed international environment and the new technologies at the disposal of mankind, require us to seek fresh and better answers. I invite and encourage all Bahamians, particularly the young, to participate in the development of this nation. I am confident that many young Bahamians want to be involved in improving our country. Come forward, join the BDM and contribute your ideas, and help us shape the Bahamas that we can best achieve," he said.

Bishop Ellis publicly backs Christie for PM

During a service celebrating Majority Rule, which was held at Mt Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church Sunday, Bishop Neil Ellis publicly endorsed Progressive Liberal Party leader Perry Christie as the next Prime Minister of the Bahamas.

Boldly baring his political soul, the reputable spiritual advisor announced that he has to support a leader who has the fear of God in him.

However, he made it clear that he was of no political persuasion, whether it be PLP, FNM or CDR and the like.

"I ain't nothing. I am a prophet of the Lord and prophets make kings. I am here to keep God's side in focus," he said. "I am called to take a stand. I want to see this man become the next Prime Minister of this nation."

Referring to biblical scripture, "This is not a recommendation. If you want to win, if you want to be successful in your own life, only be strong; be courageous that you may do according to the law which Moses my servant commanded, Mr. Christie," he said.

Regardless of the challenges that the PLP might face, he said, there will be "divine intervention" that will determine their fate.

"Notice, in the past, we had our little problems; we had our little challenges but notice the country was moving on. You know why? Whatever you might have said about Sir Lynden Pindling, he was a God-fearing man. If the leader is God-fearing, God spares the people. And you wonder why we've moved to a country of crime to a country of violence? No God-fearing people and no God-fearing leadership," said Bishop Ellis.

The social and moral order of the nation has strayed far from what the constitution describes as a Christian nation, he said.

"The deal here is, as law makers, God is not expecting people in the Bahamas to make laws if they can't even obey His laws. We need to give the country a chance for God to get back on the agenda. That's why we're having so much repercussion from laws you've just made in parliament," he said.

Bishop Ellis said that he would not support a party or a government which "Would call Christian ordained ministers hypocrites; that would open shops and make Sunday look like Monday; that rush bills with social and national consequences without having a national debate."

Giving a word of advice to the PLP, he admonished that moral laws and civil laws should mesh into each other symbiotically; and that whenever you write a bill that clashes with the moral law, it shouldn't be law.

"Whenever you write a bill to become law, it should be measured by God's text," he said.

He told Christie that over the next three months, he must be strong and courageous before the Bahamian community as the country is hungry for strong leadership.

"There are over 5,000 members here. Some are FNM; some are CDR; some are independent. But the way I see it is, when they are in trouble, they come to me for advice. When they need their children christened, they come to me; when they need their people married they come to me; when they are crying for help they come to me. They come to me for advice on everything else but then they want me to shut up when it's time to give political advice. I say they are liars," he said.

He told Christie to "fight for the nation like you're fighting for your wife. This is the battle cry! Protect the integrity of my country! When you do it, understand that the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go. Failure is guaranteed unless God helps you," said Bishop Ellis.

Furthermore, he told Christie that spirituality is more than just reading The Bible. "You have to read and live it. You have to promote and prepare positive minded, spiritually oriented people with a Christian background, a Christian deportment and send them into public life. He didn't say you have to be no Christian who always speaking in tongues. He said observe and at least be godly and then you will prosper wherever you go."

During the service he presented copies of his new book, "Between Heaven and Earth" (Facing the Giants while Dancing with the Angels), and told Christie that the message contained within the script would help to prepare him for his "next assignment."

Christie, who was present, held several Cabinet posts in the former PLP government led by the late Sir Lynden Pindling.

He has survived many political storms, having been fired from the Cabinet in the early 1980's.

Running as an independent in that same era, he successfully secured the Centreville constituency.

Later he went on to win the leadership of the PLP after a bitter battle with Dr. Bernard Nottage, who has since formed the Coalition for Democratic Reform.

Bahamasair Plane Grounded

The U. S. Federal Aviation Administration has grounded a Bahamasair B-737 jet aircraft for faulty engineering, following an inspection carried out by that regulatory entity.

The jet is at the Miami International Airport while the carrier's engineering personnel are engaged in correcting faults cited by the FAA, a Bahamasair's press release stated.

Capt. Charles Beneby, Bahamasair's Chief Operating Officer, who flew to Miami on Friday afternoon said that the faults cited by the FAA are "fixable," and that the airline is doing all that it can to have the jet passed and back in operation as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Bahamasair has made adequate alternative arrangements to accommodate travelling customers, "so that there is a minimum in disruption of service," the airline stated.

Capt. Beneby added that in this, as in all other instances, safety is a priority, and that "Bahamasair is cooperating fully with the FAA to ensure that the airline always remains in compliance with FAA regulations."

Late last year, Bahamasair experienced a series of problems with its aircraft.

On Nov. 24, a Bahamasair 737 jet experienced a false fire-warning from No. 1 engine while en route to Miami. It was returned to service the following day.

On Dec. 5, Bahamasair's flight 315, a Dash 8 en route to Freeport, Grand Bahama experienced an engine default warning and had to return to Nassau, where it landed without incident.

Then on Dec. 11, Bahamasair's 6:60 a.m. flight 221 with 120 passengers on board landed safely in Miami after an emergency procedure was initiated when the automatic landing gear failed to operate.

The pilot of the Boeing 737 was forced to manually lower the aircraft landing gear taking all necessary precautions to ensure that the gear was safely locked in place for him to safely land the aircraft.

Bahamasair's engineers discovered a worn out spring as the problem, which restricted contact with the automated system.

On Nov. 14, the FAA returned The Bahamas' Civil Aviation Authority to Category 1 status following a reassessment of the country's civil aviation authority in October. The Bahamas previously did not comply with standards set by the International Civil Aviation 0rganisation.

The assessments are not an indication of whether individual foreign carriers are safe or unsafe; rather, they determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.

NCTU on Constitution

Newly elected president of the National Congress of Trade Unions Pat Bain has strongly recommended that the government embark on a national educational campaign on the proposed amendments to the Constitution.

In a press statement issued Friday, Bain also said he was "appalled" by the government's recommendation to reduce the time set out in The Constitution between the announcement of the national referendum and the actual voting exercise.

On the House of Assembly on Thursday, the Free National Movement administration tabled a bill to reduce the time between the proclamation of the referendum and the actual holding of it from 30 to 21 days.

This move evoked objections from the opposition and some FNM members.

The public will be asked to vote on, amongst other things:

* The removal of all forms of discrimination against women, their children and spouses, and that no person should be discriminated against on the grounds of gender;

*The creation of an independent Director of Public Prosecutions and vesting the functions of Attorney-General for most criminal matters in the hands of such a person;

* The creation of a separate Teachers Commission to deal with matters relating to educators;

*The creation of an independent Boundaries Commission and remove from the commission the Speaker, the Supreme Court Justice and members appointed from the House by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition; and,

* To increase the age a justice must retire from 67 to 72 for the Supreme Court, and up to 75 for the Court of Appeal justices.

The Prime Minister had initially promised a 30 day notice before the voting populace go to the polls on the referendum.

"The National Congress of Trade Union is appalled and deeply saddened by the recommendation of the government of The Bahamas to reduce the time that is set out in the Constitution of The Bahamas between the announcement of a national referendum and the actual voting on the referendum by the electorate," Bain said.

And, he strongly recommended that the government embark on a national educational and consultation campaign in order for the Bahamian people to familiarize themselves with the different bills and fully understand what is involved in the amendment to the Constitution.

Bain is also president of the Bahamas Hotel Catering & Allied Workers Union with an estimated 8,000 membership.

He said the NCTU is of the view that even the 30 day period, which is enshrined in the Constitution, is "insufficient time" for the necessary educational and consultation campaign.

Furthermore, he suggested that that trade unions, churches, social groups, professional associations and other organizations must all be consulted on the issue. The campaign must include town meetings and sessions in the workplace. Widespread use of the electronic and print media must be utilized in the dissemination of information relative to the constitutional amendments.

"It is our view that because constitutional issues are not taught in our educational system, a significant number of persons in the society are unaware of the importance of constitutional reform and thus are set at a disadvantage in this process," Bain said.

Because this is the first time The Bahamas Independence Order 1973 is being amended, Bain advised that much care should be taken in ensuring that the process is fair and that adequate consultation be sought before the referendum is taken.

"We caution the government not to ignore or take for granted the voice and the wishes of the masses and to be mindful that they are servants of the Bahamian people," Bain said.

Christian Council denies support of Children's Bill

The Bahamas Christian Council yesterday denied reports by the government that they were in full support of the passage of the Children's Equality Bill.

On Monday a Bill for an Act to Reform the Law Relating to Children by providing for their Equal Status was passed in the House of Assembly, allegedly with the blessing of the Bahamas Christian Council.

At a press conference held yesterday at Trinity Assembly, Harold Road, the BCC voiced their displeasure of the Bill's passage, and agreed with Opposition Leader Perry Christie, who said that the Bill called for more dialogue within the Bahamian community even before being presented to Parliament.

BCC President Bishop Samuel Greene, and his executives questioned the urgency of the government in passing a legislation that has such far reaching consequences.

This Bill along with the Inheritance Bill, which was also recently passed by Parliament, he said would affect more Bahamians than any other piece of social legislation on record.

With regards to the Inheritance Bill, it was divided into seven segments, and seven committees were then established by the Council.

After completion of their findings over a two week period, a smaller committee was established to consider the report of the seven committees.

As a result of that, a comprehensive finding was then presented after a total period of four weeks to the government said Greene.

"I notice that the government instead of dealing with the total package have, in their own wisdom decided to deal with one segment at a time," he said.

"For the record, it was stated that the Bahamas Christian Council supported the Bill in its entirety. That is not so. The Bahamas Christian Council does not support the Bill in its entirety," he said.

He said that although there is a need to have the Inheritance Bill repealed and replaced by a more relevant Bill for this time, since the original Bill was passed in 1883.

Bishop Greene said, "nevertheless, there are certain aspects of this Bill which the Christian church cannot support by virtue of our Christian beliefs. We recognize that the government is hard pressed in many areas to come up with answers to please all Bahamians. Nevertheless, it is our position that a Bill as far reaching as this ought to have the widest possible exposure of all Bahamians before it is even debated in Parliament."

He expressed his concern about the many married women who would have to suffer the consequences of the Children's Equality Bill and the Inheritance Bill, which would allow for illegitimate children to receive equal inheritance of the marital resources.

Greene said that it was unfair for the government to push this Bill without giving Bahamian wives and mothers a chance to air their concerns and discrepancies.

"We believe that all children ought to be of the same status, or equal status, within this country in the context of this Bill. The problem comes not with regard to the equal status of children but how should these children be dealt with," said Bishop Greene.

He said that there are two children within the marriage and then there are those who were not born out of wedlock.

"Given a case where you have a wife and a husband of the family, who struggle to obtain resources, properties between themselves for the benefit of their family and at the end of the day would have attained some property and money put aside for the children of the family," he said.

"Then it is found out that the husband has fathered children outside of the marriage. The question is, should that wife be expected to allow the husband to use a part of the resources which they have amassed to help maintain the husband's children without the knowledge or consent of the wife," asked Greene.

"We believe that there is a fundamental problem there, that is why we believe there is a fundamental problem. That is why we feel that there ought to have been the widest possible exposure, especially allowing the wives to make their input," he continued.

He said that Bahamian wives have been served a great injustice in an effort to create justice for children born not of the marriage union.

He said that it should not be mandated that resources accumulated with the wife should be allotted or shared with the husband's outside children.

"In many instances, the wife doesn't even know that the husband had some children with another woman. And therefore, whether or not she knows, she ought to be consulted with regard to utilization of her resources to support her husband's children that she has nothing to do with. So we feel that somebody ought to consult the wife. Somebody has to say something to her," he said.

Public Servants graduate

One hundred and sixty-three public servants, who have completed intensive training courses in computers were rewarded for their hardwork on Friday, during a certificate presentation ceremony held on the grounds of Her Majesty's Prison.

The programme, which consisted of men and women from the Prison Department and the Police and Defence Forces comprised training in introduction to computers, Microsoft excel and Microsoft word in both the introductory and intermediate levels.

Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson was scheduled to address the graduates, but was represented by Permanent Secretary Mark Wilson.

He noted that computer technology is an inextricable part of the culture of today's modern world, and it has greatly facilitated the information age and has served to transform the way the world does business and conducts its affairs.

"It follows that those who choose not to acquire knowledge and the skills of computer technology are choosing to isolate themselves from the effective functions of today's world," he said.

"Those who do choose to acquire computer skills and knowledge, choose a path that will enable them to fully participate in the daily life and routine of the Bahamas and indeed, in its future development."

Wilson said because the Bahamas is a small country, it will have to carve out a niche for itself in the face of the globalizing force wielded by rich and powerful countries.

"We will find ourselves woefully inadequate to task, unless a large proportion of our workforce, and especially the workers in the public service, becomes experienced and adept at accessing and manipulating information," he charged.

He noted that the Public Service exists to serve the people of The Bahamas by administering and serving their needs, individually and collectively. He said it does this by acting on information that is collected and manipulated. The ability to collect and treat information in a timely manner improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the Public Service, he said adding that it also enhances the prospects for advancement of those public officers who possess computer skills and knowledge and it improves their ability to deliver quality service and to participate in the development process.

The Prison Computer Unit, since 1995 had a clear mandate to train all Prison personnel in the various Information Technology disciplines. This mandate, although not complete still can boast of a computer literacy rate of 70.1 per cent.

It is hoped that at the end of January 2003, the entire prison family would be computer literate.

Through a message, Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson congratulated the graduates on their achievements.

"It can not be denied that the computer has had the most profound effect yet on the role that information plays in normal societies and in business. Few areas of human activity have been untouched by the application of information technology," Watson said.

He said it was therefore appropriate for those who serve the public to avail themselves of computer knowledge and skills.

"Already in our Bahamas, electronic technology is having an acute impact on the delivery of public service. Therefore, public servants who desire to contribute significantly to national development must ensure that they are equipped with the appropriate tools," the deputy prime minister said.

"The year of 2002 and indeed ensuing years of this century are likely to be fraught with intense challenges. Those who are equipped with information technology skills and knowledge will, like the biblical virgins with lamps trimmed, comprise the vanguard for meeting those challenges."

Allen sides with PLP

Free National Movement Member of Parliament for Marathon, Algernon Allen joined Opposition forces in Parliament on Thursday in protest over a proposal to reduce the notice for the upcoming referendum to amend the Constitution from 30 to 21 days.

Other MPs registering their disapproval were FNM Bamboo Town MP Tennyson Wells, and

Kennedy MP Dr. B. J. Nottage, Chief Executive Officer of the Coalition for Democratic Reform.

In a brief House session, Progressive Liberal Party leader Perry Christie charged that the FNM "is rushing" the amendments to the Constitution to fit into its general election schedule.

The argument arose after Attorney General Carl Bethel read a measure to reduce the time between the proclamation of the referendum and the actual holding of it from 30 to 21 days.

"They want to have an election in March and that is the only way they can squeeze it in," said Christie.

However, Bethel then moved for the second reading of the measure and said that the concerns of all those opposing would be considered.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, who is attending a Caricom summit in the Turks and Caicos Islands, had advised Parliament on Wednesday that 30-days notice would be given prior to holding the referendum, some time in February. He also said that Bahamians would be enlightened on the changes through public meetings.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Frank Watson withdrew three previously tabled bills to amend the Constitution, "as a consequence of dialogue between the government and opposition", and introduced the "new" measures separately.

Responding to Tennyson Wells' query as to why he took such an action, Watson said that there were a number of items to be incorporated under the bills, and in discussion with the opposition and others, it was felt desirable that the measures should stand on their own, and that the government would instead introduce nine separate new bills.

"I want to register my protest against this," Wells countered. "Even though I agree that some of these things ought to be done, I believe that this is wrong what we are doing, trying to rush and deal with this constitution."

Speaker of the House of Assembly, Italia Johnson then put the motion on the floor for those to accept or reject the withdrawal of the bills. After the majority approved, Watson proceeded to introduce the following "new" bills:

A bill for an Act to amend The Bahamas Constitution, which seeks to create an Independent Boundaries Commission and remove from the commission the Speaker, the Supreme Court Justice and members appointed from the House by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.

The Bill also seeks to introduce three new articles in the Constitution which would create the Office of Parliamentary Commissioner and specify his or her authority.

Watson also read for the first time another bill which deals with the creation of an independent Director of Public Prosecutions.

"It is the conviction of this government that the creation of such an office under the governance of a director which is devoted entirely and exclusively to the instituting and undertaking of criminal cases, but provide the client for the growth and development of and display of professionalism in the preparation for and the conduct of criminal cases, which would promote the more speedy processing of cases through the court system," Watson said.

He then read another Bill providing for the establishing of a Teaching Services Commission with similar duties and responsibilities now carried out by the Public Services Commission and the Police Services Commission.

The purpose of the Teaching Service Commission would be to advise the Governor-General on the appointment of persons to hold or act in public offices in the teaching service, to remove persons out of the teaching service, and to exercise disciplinary control over persons in the teaching service, among other things.

The electorate will be asked in the referendum to answer "Yes" or "No" to the following question:
"Do you agree that all forms of discrimination against women, their children and spouses should be removed from the Constitution and that no person should be discriminated against on the grounds of gender; and do you approve the proposed amendments to Articles 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 26 and 54 of the Constitution as provided for in the Bill for an Act entitled The Bahamas Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2001?"

Another amendment will also seek to increase the age at which a justice must retire from 67 to 72 for the Supreme Court, and up to 75 for the Court of Appeal justices..

The government is proposing to hold a number of town meetings to enlighten the public on the amendments.

The Constitutional Bill - a dangerous and treacherous precedent

The Constitution of The Bahamas is the Supreme Law of the land. And by virtue of that supremacy, the Constitution represents a binding legal and spiritual connection between the people and the State. The Preamble to the Constitution speaks to this innovative and binding sense of nationality. The Constitution also serves as an important tool that preserves and ensures the survival of democracy. It provides the necessary protection for the will of the people from arbitrary and dictatorial acts perpetuated by a government that is devoid of political decency.

It is widely accepted that the Constitution is a living contract with the people. This contract is a social one that begs for the active participation from the people. In fact, it is the people that must be the driving force that propels the call for reform.

To amend the Constitution is not an ordinary act. Any amendment to the Constitution requires a process that must seek recognize the sanctity of its provisions and must seek to ensure that the interests of the people are protected. If this is the general application and rule that ought to be applied in all cases, then one must determine whether the manner in which the Government and Parliament went about commencing the process that will lead to the amendment of the Constitution was appropriate and legally justifiable.

From the outset it is a fair conclusion that the Prime Minister assumed to himself the power and duty to call for an overhaul of the Constitution of the Bahamas. It must be recognized that the Constitution belongs to the people and that no prime minister has the jurisdiction to alter it in any respect without first obtaining the expressed support of the people.

The point must be made that Constitutions are not like, and were not intended to be ordinary pieces of legislation. The constitution of The Bahamas is a living document that embodies the collective will of the people. As its creation was spurned by a mass support for political independence, its alteration should come by a similar process. Oh, by the very least, a process of collective evolution that spirits the intent and wishes of the masses as a battle cry for change.

The process that the People's Parliament was embroiled in during the parliamentary debate on the Constitutional Bill is a glaring example of the silliness that prevails throughout the mainstream of this nation's politic. There are few men and women sitting in Parliament, and certainly on the Government's side of the Chamber, who possess the intellectual fortitude and wisdom to recognize that the process was both fundamentally flawed and brazenly incestuous. The reality is that the Government and the Prime Minister have forgotten by whose power they have been appointed and to whose pleasure they serve. They have no mandate from the people to act in the fashion that they did.

The Constitutional Bill that was unanimously passed by the Bahamian Parliament was the final act that will prove to be the destruction of the essence of what it means to be Bahamian. It was rather obvious that neither Parliament nor the Government understood the nature of the collective and individual rights of the Bahamian people. The core of our existence is embedded in our sense and appreciation for our national sovereignty. The very passage of the Bill has devalued our sovereignty and will go to discredit our national worth.

As for the amendment to eliminate gender discrimination, the first question that must be posed is whether gender discrimination exists in The Bahamas? And if so, what is the manifestation of that discrimination? It must be stated at the outset that the Constitution does not provide for any form or manifestation of discrimination. It must be correct to conclude that the Bahamian Constitution can never be seen to be discriminatory either against males and/or females. If one begins with, and accepts that simple statement, then the result that the Bill seeks to achieve must be viewed with the greatest contempt and intellectual disgust.

Chapter II of the Constitution addresses the rights of citizenship. Those rights are embodied in Articles 3 to 14 inclusive. The Constitution confers the right of citizenship on certain categories of persons. Can it be said to be discriminatory if certain individuals are exempt from the constitutional right? Certainly not!

The reality is that Chapter II confers the right of citizenship on specific persons. For instance, those who were born in the former Colony prior to the 10th July 1973 are deemed to be citizens of The Bahamas as are the children whose fathers were and could qualify to be citizens of the former Colony. By conferring the rights of citizenship on those enumerated categories can not by itself lead to the conclusion that those who fall outside any of the categories must be said to suffer from discrimination.

If one understands the Law, it must be accepted that the correct position is that the Constitution, for whatever reason, conferred the right to citizenship on these persons, and by extension left the question of the right to citizenship of any emitted category to be determined by Parliament. There is no bar on the extension of the categories of citizenship. Parliament has had the authority from the 11th July 1973 to pass an Act whose intent was to confer rights of citizenship on those persons who may not be able to enjoy the constitutional right to citizenship.

But that is fundamentally different from suggesting that the Constitution is seen to be discriminatory towards either the foreign spouses of Bahamians or those who are born in The Bahamas after the 10th July 1973 of non-Bahamian parents. And it must also be correct to conclude that the Constitution need not be amended for the sole purpose of conferring rights of citizenship on these people.

The case can only be made for amending the Constitution in the fashion that it was done to widen the categories of those who are constitutionally entitled to enjoy the right of citizenship if there were reasons that would lead one to conclude that there would be the creation of secondary classes of citizenship if Parliament entrusted its legislative powers. None of the presenters and contributors to the parliamentary debate made any such suggestion and what was clear was that the Government was motivated by a silly sense of duty. A duty that none of the Ministers understood because by their very act, they have destroyed the essence of our Constitutional democracy.

Additionally, one must arrive at the very same conclusion when one talks about the elimination of gender discrimination. Article 15 is at the centre of this issue and therefore it is imperative to set out its provisions in full.

"Whereas every person in The Bahamas is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual that is to say, has the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed, sex, but subject to the respect of the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each of the following, namely:

(a) life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law;

(b) freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association; and

(c) protection for the privacy of his home and other property and from deprivation of property without compensation,

the subsequent provisions of this Chapter shall have effect for the purpose of affording protection to the aforesaid rights and freedoms subject to such limitations of that protection as are contained in those provisions, being limitations designed to ensure that the enjoyment of the said rights and freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights.

Christian Council calls Children's Bill

The Bahamas Christian Council has condemned the Inheritance Bill and the Children's Equality Bill as "wicked" and in flagrant violation of Biblical teachings.

At a press conference held at Trinity Assembly Wednesday, BCC members were in general agreement that the word "equal" is being misapplied, as children born out of wedlock should not have the same rights as those born to married couples.

The Council agreed that the welfare of illegitimate children should be looked after, but had a serious difficulty with them being afforded "equal" treatment, particularly without the consent and knowledge of a man's spouse.

Bishop Albert Hepburn advocated that an agreement should be reached with the spouse, at her own discretion, instead of a law being forced upon her.

"Sometimes, the children in the home help with the building of the home. Sometimes, we might not have been able to meet the mortgage payments, but those girls and those boys put together and the ones in the home are the ones who met the mortgage payments. The wife might not know anything about those children on the outside until the husband dies. Then these children would come up and they could claim as much as the children that burn the midnight oil," he said.

"That's a wicked bill! That should be thrown in Trash 13, which is the garbage tin. It's not right. It's wicked and the Bahamian people should open their eyes and see that it is wickedness. It will come back to haunt us after a few years. I am a minister and people have already called me and told me that they are prepared to murder their husbands if this bill goes through because they are not going to allow their wealth to go out to any children that they don't know anything about," he said.

BCC President Bishop Samuel Greene that an injustice was done in the House of Assembly Monday, when the Bill for an Act to Reform the Law Relating to Children by providing for their Equal Status, was passed with only 11 Parliamentarians present, none of whom were members of the Opposition.

"If my mathematics is right, there were 29 members who were not in chambers when this bill was passed. Out of the 29, 24 of the governing members of Parliament were not there when this Bill was passed. That presents a fundamental difficulty to us," he said.

"If we are in a democratic country, then democracy must be seen to be practised. I do not understand why it is that there seems to be some degree of urgency, of haste to get this bill through Parliament without again, some form of consultation, especially with regard to the family. Because it is the family that will suffer whatever happens in this case," he said.

Bishop Greene said that it is anticipated that cases of domestic violence will escalate as a result of the Bills' stipulations. With domestic violence already being on the increase as reported in the annual Crime Report by the Commissioner of Police, he said, "What this bill will do, is further exacerbate that situation, because you are now putting husband against wife, women who bear the children outside the marriage against the wives, and children against children. Therefore I feel there ought to be more discussion, more input and wider exposure among families with regard to how best to administer this situation."

Turning his attention to the Inheritance Bill, which was also passed several weeks ago, Greene said that it "affects those who are dead, those who are alive and those who will be born later on."

He said that the BCC agrees that the original Bill is "outdated, outmoded and in many respects irrelevant to the time in which we live."

The BCC then advised that the following written communication had been forwarded to the Prime Minister:

"No nation is stronger than the family life of its people. If this breaks down, society breaks down with it. The family is the natural human unit, not the individual, and only within the family do men and women find their natural environment. No government concerned for the wellbeing of its people can afford not to nurture family life."

"The wife ought to be consulted and ought to be allowed to give her opinion, and from those collective opinions, then a decision should be taken by Parliament as to what direction they should go in," said Bishop Greene.

Rev Dr Marina Sands strongly opposed the passage of the legislation and gave Biblical examples to illustrate her views.

"Sarah being a wife, childless, gave her husband permission to have Hagar, and by that intercourse a child came forth. But the end result was turmoil in the home. In wisdom, she said to Abraham that this mother and child have to leave if the family structure will be safe and be on course," related Rev Sands.

"Abraham was hurt because that was his child, his only heir. So he prayed to God and God confirmed that 'Your wife Sarah has spoken rightly. So you must put this child and its mother out. The scripture says in Genesis, he gave her bread and water and the child had to leave. Because God promised Abraham that he would bless his seed, Ishmael was blessed by God. Take note, he could not inherit his estate, only Isaac, the child given by God in the lawful institution of marriage, that was ordained by God from creation."

Ambassador Asks Clubs To Help 'at-risk' Youth

Members of the American Men's Club and American Women's Clubs were yesterday asked to volunteer their services to help Bahamian youth.

Newly-installed United States Ambassador J. Richard Blankenship addressed the group at a special luncheon held at the British Colonial Hilton Tuesday.

Under the theme, "Opportunities and Responsibilities: A Call To Service," he outlined various programmes that will target the nation's youth, which will be implemented under his administration.

His many endeavours he said, will be offered not only to Bahamian youth living in the capital but in Grand Bahama and the other Family Islands as well.

"We need to do our part to ensure that no boy or girl in the Bahamas is growing up without having in his life the presence of responsible, caring adult," he said.

"It's just common sense that if we don't provide young people with some kind of sanctuary, and give kids something constructive to do once the last bell rings, they are going to be easy marks for drug dealers, gang recruiters and other predators," said Blankenship.

After Embassy staff issued applications to luncheon attendees, the ambassador introduced a mentoring programme he hopes to establish.

The programme has a similar face to that of " America's Promise: The Alliance For Youth," which was started by US Secretary General Colin Powell.

Blankenship told club members to show a sense of altruism with respect to the islands which they have now made their home.

"The idea of this programme is for mentors, drawn from the embassy and from the larger American community on the island, to be matched with a Bahamian youth in need of guidance and encouragement," said Blankenship.

"The mentors will meet regularly with the kids, providing them support and encouragement, teaching them skills they will need in life, listening to their problems and concerns and suggesting possible solutions. In short, the mentors are called on to intervene in the life of an at-risk young girl or boy, take an interest in them and provide them with opportunity. An opportunity to succeed at whatever they dream of doing," he said.

Blankenship told members that coming from a land of bountiful resources and opportunities from which they all benefited, they should feel the need to open the door of opportunity to others.

Under his leadership, a golf clinic is also proposed.

The ambassador said that he will endeavour to entice members of the PGA tour, including a famous one whose name he would not disclose, to facilitate free golf clinics to Bahamian children so as to expose them to the " to another sport and activity that will promote character."

Blankenship said that he also intends to use the property opposite the Ambassador's Sanford Drive residence to set up a T-ball field.

"On that T-ball field of dreams, I intend to regularly host T-ball games open to Bahamian children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Score is not kept and there are no losers. We will have lots of fun with the kids, cook hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn and quietly try to influence their lives for the better. It is never too early to begin teaching children values which will serve them through out their entire lives," he said.

"We all know too well what can happen to these young boys and girls when no one is available to help them, when no one cares. Prisons everywhere are filled with men from such backgrounds, and streets in every major city are full of unwed teenage mothers who have fallen through the cracks of society," said the ambassador.

He told club members that they have a moral obligation to create a smoother path for the next generation of Bahamians, since they have made the Bahamas their home.

"The world has changed, and children today are exposed to more danger and temptations than was the case when we were children. We need to do our part to shepherd them through these years. T-ball and other athletic pursuits with appropriate adult participation, coaching and encouragement are one way to do this. In addition to promoting a healthy body and developing physical skills, athletics teaches discipline, teamwork, fair play and the value of hard work , all important lessons that can be carried over into the classroom and the workplace," he said.

QC Awards Stir Controversy

A storm of controversy is brewing over the recommendation of applicants for the prestigious award of Queen's Counsel, fueling speculation that high-level political pressure was influencing the choices.

The Bar Association, led by Dr Peter Maynard, is pushing for more qualified lawyers to be appointed Queen's Counsel. There are only five at present, and they are all men.

Sources said that key political figures who supported the Free National Movement government were being recommended for the award of QC. They say that Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham was pulling strings behind the scenes to reward political loyalty.

Dr Maynard confirmed Tuesday that he was in communication with Attorney General Carl Bethel concerning the most recent recommendations for the top award. He declined to go into specifics.

"I have received a communication from the Attorney General," he said. "I have responded, and I received a subsequent communication from him, and I have prepared another response. That's the current status of it."

The Attorney General consults with the Chief Justice and the president of the Bar Association before recommending an applicant to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister may then ad