Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Donald Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers, his low-life girlfriend; V. Stiviano and America's racial obsession

By Dennis Dames:




The much talk about firestorm between Mr. Donald Sterling; the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, his low-life girlfriend; V. Stiviano and the NBA Commissioner; Adam Silver is indeed far from over.  Firstly, I am not impressed, nor do I approve of the fact that a personal conversation between Sterling and Stiviano has entered the public domain, and which has resulted in Mr. Sterling being banned for life among other penalties - from NBA games by commissioner Silver.

This whole episode sets a bad precedent in my opinion, as many gold-diggers will now follow Stiviano’s gold-digging pursuit, by recording and publically distributing private and salacious conversations between them and their sugar-daddies for personal gains.  I believe that Stiviano will live to regret such a move; and she will end up a piece of unwanted trash in short order.  She has started a devious hunt that she will eventually discover is way above her head and intelligence.

Ms. Stiviano is a bad and wicked woman of many aliases – in my opinion.  Her days as a wannabe rich glamour girl is coming to a rapid end, as Mr. Sterling’s estranged wife has thrown the first punch by suing her for all the things that her separated husband has bought her; as she claims that they were purchased with the family’s funds.  The blow was thrown before the evilly recorded and distributed conversation.

I shall wrap-up for now, but will deal with this subject again as things get muddier and dirtier on this subject.  I will opine about the HIV confessor; Mr. Magic Johnson, and Mr. Cheap man and low-tipper; Michael Jordan at the appropriate time; also Mr. unpresidential Barak Obama, who seems unable to resist wagging his half white –half black tongue in racial fires in his country; even if he is dead wrong.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Fear of Crime mounts in The Bahamas

Fear of Crime Deepens




By Jones Bahamas:


The fear of crime in New Providence is seemingly deepening as a result of the recent carnage recorded over the past few weeks.

Police have been called to the scenes of numerous armed robberies, shootings and murders in recent days prompting residents in the capital to reportedly take extra precaution in their day to day activities.

The murder count now stands at 37 with the majority of them occurring in over-the-hill communities.
Of the last six murders, three of them took place in the Englerston constituency.

Englerston residents have since expressed fear and concern for their safety after the three shooting deaths which came just days apart.

Wellington Smith who has lived in the area for more than 40 years said crime levels have increased in the area.

“It’s really disappointing because it never was like that but it just picked up, I’m not happy about it at all, safety is my primary concern and the concern of everybody,” he said.

A pregnant woman and mother of two who wanted to remain anonymous, fearing retaliation for speaking out, also weighed in on the issue.

“Crime is very bad in the area, we have a lot of thieves around here, my car already got broken into before, I had two cars and this is the second one to get broken into,” she said.

“This affects me a lot because I can’t buy anything or put down anything in this yard without someone coming and trying to steal so I’m really concerned about me and my children’s safety. We need a lot of police in this area to watch out for these thieves and these killers; we got people who live on the side of us now who tote guns.”

Another woman who also wanted to remain anonymous said each day, she moves through her area on edge, fearful of the criminals’ next move.

“You have some boys who just want to snatch your purse and you have to move out the way before they kill you,” she said.

“The police need to come when you call them because I had my laptop that was stolen, I don’t see why I should be buying these things over and over for people to be stealing when I am a woman who already need assistance,” she said.

According to reports from the public, the shootings could be related to a turf war, however, Police Press Liaison Officer Superintendent Stephen Dean assured that the investigations into the shootings are in its initial stages and reports of turf wars are only rumors at this point.

“Like any other communities, police are concerned about what we have seen in the past couple days, in particular this community,” he said.

“We have put some initiatives in place to increase our presence in these areas, we increase all angles, all hands on deck as we have increased our intelligence base, and we have increased our relationship with the public. We realise that this cannot be a police fight alone so we are engaging members of the public, we’re looking at our religious leaders who can be at the forefront in getting to help us to reach particularly the young men in the area, we don’t want to see our young men just being shot down.”

Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin said that the number of guns on the street is creating a challenge and contributes to the neighborhood’s crime woes.

“We have to understand what it is that is causing it, why is it concentrated in communities like this and others and what is it that we as a country can to do to alleviate and counteract what we are seeing?” she asked.
“One of the things is, there are a lot of guns and we have to figure out how we can successfully interdict illegal firearms in our country. I’m very concerned about that, it’s creating a whole new culture and atmosphere, people at night are hearing gunshots regularly and that creates fear, we have to get on top of this issue.”

The country has recorded two more murders at this point than it did at the same time last year.

April 29, 2014

The Bahama Journal

Sunday, April 27, 2014

‘Significant’ Rise In Syphilis Cases in The Bahamas ...and other Caribbean countries

‘Significant’ Rise In Syphilis Cases



By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
kvirgil@tribunemedia.net
Nassau, The Bahamas
 


THE number of syphilis cases among other reported instances of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) is on the rise in the Bahamas, said Ministry of Health officials yesterday.

According to Larry Ferguson, Coordinator of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) at the Ministry, the incidence of persons who contracted syphilis since 2010 is concerning, especially among younger people.

Prior to 2010 the older population, in some cases those up to 80 or 90-years-old, were the front runners in statistical data, Ms Ferguson said. However, as more young people contract syphilis, healthcare professionals believe there is substantial mixing in sexual activity between both age categories. 

Ms Ferguson was not able to give the specific numbers of increase in syphilis cases since 2010 but she insisted that there was no doubt that the rise was significant. She said the same has been found in other Caribbean countries.

She noted that the groups most at risk in recent times were men who have sex with men (MSM’s) along with the unemployed and underemployed.

“We know that for the longest time,” Ms Ferguson said, “we have been seeing chlamydia more than any other infection. But even though we are seeing a large number of chlamydia more than any other infection chlamydia cases are going down.

“However we are seeing an increase in syphilis. That is the one thing that we are concerned about. What we find for syphilis, not specifically 15 to 24 age range even though they are included, is prior to this time we always saw syphilis in our older population. Just now we are having syphilis in that population which is a concern and tells us that there is a mixing of the two.

“Unemployed persons who engage in transactional sex, they don’t call themselves commercial sex workers, they just have sex for things. That group is at high risk because quite often if you are going to have transactional sex the other person might not want to use a condom. ‘You want the money, I want the sex so you have to go on my terms’ and that’s one of the reasons why they are at high risk.

“Men who have sex with men, in many cases you have a group and they stay amongst themselves. So if one has syphilis and is intermingling it is more likely that it will spread. But with this group there are persons in the group who take the initiative to ensure that other group members get care and come for testing and necessary treatment.”

Ms Ferguson was speaking to reporters during the Ministry of Health’s first STD Awareness Symposium where scores of health professionals gathered under the theme “Talk, Test, Treat”.

With the rise in cases, the Ministry of Health runs ongoing awareness programmes to sensitise the public of the risk factors involved with unprotected sexual activity.

April 25, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and French Republic formalised diplomatic relations

CARICOM, French Republic forge closer cooperation:

 



(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and French Republic on Thursday, 24 April formalised diplomatic relations with the accreditation of H.E. Michel Prom, Plenipotentiary Representative of France to CARICOM.

CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque accepted the Letters of Credence in a simple handing over ceremony in his office at the Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana.

In an exchange of views following the ceremony, Ambassador LaRocque said the accreditation demonstrated the continued strong relations between CARICOM and France, and referred to the applications for Associate Membership of CARICOM by French Departments: French Guiana, Guadeloupe and Martinique.

For his part, Ambassador Prom conveyed his appreciation for being accepted as the latest Ambassador of France to the Caribbean Community family. He said that strengthening the “long and strategic partnership” was imperative, given the large community of Caribbean people in France and in its Departments.

“It would be a pity if our people don’t have a focus on working together, not only for regional concerns like security but other bilateral matters,” the Ambassador said. He added that CARICOM’s consideration of French Guiana, Guadeloupe and Martinique for Associate Membership could provide the avenue for more direct participation.

In this context, Secretary-General LaRocque recalled the exchange of views between the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM and His Excellency Serge Letchimy, President of the Regional Council of Martinique, during the 25th Intercessional Meeting of the Conference in St. Vincent and the Grenadines where the issue of Associate Membership was considered. He informed that with specific regard to the French Departments; the Community was in the process of understanding various constitutional arrangements to allow for a dialogue in the not too distant future.

Ambassador LaRocque expressed the hope that France would consider resuming its non-borrowing membership of the CDB as part of its interface with the Region. He noted that another area of cooperation was continuing training in the French language, which would further strengthen relations not only with France and its Departments, but also with CARICOM’s French Speaking Member State, Haiti.

Given France’s increasing influence in the European Union (EU), the Secretary-General sought its advocacy on behalf of CARICOM with regard to EU’s policy of graduating middle income countries from concessionary financing. He told the newly accredited Ambassador that at a time when some countries of the Caribbean were feeling the effects of the international financial crisis, the Region was concerned that access to development funding was premised on the assumption that GDP per capita was an appropriate measure for development. This policy, he added, fails to consider the vulnerabilities of small states particularly that they are open to the vagaries of international shocks and the disastrous effects of climate change.

As CARICOM and France consider future cooperation, Ambassador LaRocque said that the year ahead offers many opportunities. He signalled the Region’s interest in engaging on issues pertaining to trade in respect of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM).

The Secretary-General also noted that closer cooperation could be explored through existing relations between the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the Caribbean Animal Health Network (CaribVET), in relation to the management of Sanitaryand Phytosanitary Systems.

April 25, 2014 

CARICOM 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Bahamas: we are a nation for sale... our people have lost Bahamian pride

A country with no plan, pt. 2


Nicole Burrows Included in our country’s original development plan should have been practical ideas for the dispersion of the growing population into our constituent islands, and that is where foreign direct investment ought to have entered the development conversation and equation. Because, as social scientists have reinforced time and again, living like sardines in a can morphs very rapidly into a bombardment of social ills.

Included in the original plan should not have been tourism, which is not sustainable in its current or previous forms for long-term and diversified growth, given its near absolute reliance on external investment and external decision-making. The same applies to banking, particularly offshore private banks, but also overseas commercial franchise banks, whose ownership similarly originates outside of The Bahamas. But, we keep suffering the consequences of these old decisions and plans, because we keep clinging to something hoping it will continue to be what it can’t.

The idea to build an anchor project on every island was not a brilliant one, because anchor projects foster the same extreme dependence on outside investors. What happens when those investors – who could end up as the second largest employer in the land – withdraw, as they often and are well within their rights to do? And, since nothing lasts forever, what is the plan for when Atlantis folds or fails and 350 thousand people are confined to one island to battle for 10,000 jobs?

Implanted resort properties as a business model for national and economic development are not sustainable. What is sustainable is foreign direct investment in the form of joint partnerships only, primarily or solely in infrastructural development, and this should have been the plan from day one. As it was not decided then, perhaps it can be decided now: no more resorts, only infrastructural joint partnerships with direct domestic investment as a main feature, resulting in equal advantage to Bahamians, to literally build our country. The premise: If John Smith’s and Jane Rolle’s hard-earned money goes straight from their pockets into building a roadway, they are both more likely to have pride in it and take care of it.

We need foreign expertise most of all to build our infrastructure: roads that are sound; basic, reliable utilities, including clean water, renewable power and new communications technology; and ground, water and air transportation and ports on every habitable island, starting with the largest of them.

Above all, we need these things to be attained using methods that don’t include the Bahamian government borrowing money to fully finance entire projects, leaving the Bahamian people with unlimited, everlasting debt and zero financial interest in their own country. Enter bona fide joint partners.

Renewed thinking

Where we find ourselves today begs the question: “What more did we expect to happen, after putting all our eggs into this one, tattered old basket?” Did no one before now, presumably, have the foresight to envision that a diversified economy built on actual, measurable innovation and creative enterprise would move our country further along the path of development and in a more sustainable way?

Entertainment and sports/recreation notwithstanding, where is the innovative talent and creativity in tourism and banking? You can only do so much with natural resources before they become threatened, and you can only offer financial instruments proven reliable in other markets. To survive the developmental long haul and to remain on a growth track with a standard that is constantly elevated, ingenuity is vital. Have we done our people a grave disservice by disallowing – even discouraging – them to think innovatively and creatively for four decades, stifling their dreams before they take root or flight?

We have sold our sun, sand and sea year, after year, and this is the reason: we are a nation for sale. And we keep leaning on it as our staple, because, as some media and political pundits and industry warriors have expressed, it is our ‘bread and butter’. Well, enough already. Who is going to have the wisdom plus the vision to see beyond the illusion that tourism is ‘the goose that laid the golden egg’, or the other illusion that the banking industry won’t continue to be subject to the pressures of international markets and influences?

They are not irrelevant, but we are fighting to keep these two main industries afloat when they are what drag us down lower and lower, because of the chokehold we have on them, which we should have relinquished over time, while creating new industries with the same tenacity.

Restore pride and hope

When your people, since the 1980s, have been taught to keep The Bahamas clean (for tourists) and now the place is filthier than ever, what do you think is going to happen to tourism? Which tourists are we hoping will pay exorbitant travel costs to get here, followed by costly hotel rates, to see what? Garbage? We don’t want to see it; why should they? How dump-like do we have to become for it to register as filth?

I suppose a big part of this mental block lies in the fact that our people have lost Bahamian pride. It’s not difficult to imagine. They have little or no pride in themselves, because they have nothing to look forward to; why should they, when they can’t do or be anything much in their own country, because their country is not encouraging them to develop creative and innovative talents for good, or giving them the conduits necessary to utilize those talents to their greatest potential even beyond the borders of their country?

Economic welfare is and will forever be tied to social welfare, which means as long as we have little or nothing to look forward to in terms of economic gain, communities will degenerate and people will fine-tune their criminality to get what and where they want, in life.

Our economic and social health and well-being won’t improve if we are still dosing ourselves with expired medicines and methods to cure our modern condition. And the longer we wait to transform our nation in a monumental way, to take the gargantuan leap of faith – or whatever you need to call it to make it feel right – the poorer and more criminalized the nation will become.

Nicole Burrows is an academically trained economist and a self-trained writer. She writes primarily on the economy and society, and her interests include economic growth and development and contemporary women’s issues: nicole.burrows@outlook.com

April 23, 2014

thenassauguardian

- A country with no plan, pt. 3

- A country with no plan, pt. 1

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our Caribbean: Dictatorship in a democracy?

By Oliver Mills:




We in the Caribbean have inherited the Westminster system of government, characterised by the rule of law, competitive party politics, the independence of the judiciary, fundamental rights and freedoms for citizens, and designated periods for elections. These are accepted at face value, with little sustained critique as to its relevance to the way we really do things, or whether this inherited system is really a drag on our progress because of numerous procedures, debates, the fragile nature of our political parties, and questionable allegiances to them.

Oliver Mills is a former lecturer in education at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus. He holds an M.Ed degree. from Dalhousie University in Canada, an MA from the University of London and a post-graduate diploma in HRM and Training, University of Leicester. He is a past Permanent Secretary in Education with the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands
And when we elect our leaders, we soon find that, in some ways, democratic practice is either sidestepped, or regarded as an inconvenience. This results in some decisions not being made through consultations at the various levels, but are handed down after meetings with inner circles and interest groups in the form of directives. We therefore find that in a subtle way we have institutional dictatorship within the framework of a much heralded democracy.

An article in one Caribbean paper says of the maximum political leader of that country that he has been acting like an imperial leader, enjoys saying he is the leader, and letting everyone know that he makes the final decisions on matters of national significance. To me this is personal dictatorship. It shows a self-possessed individual, who needs to remind himself of the position he holds, which he seems to interpret as conveying on him unusual power and authority over others, rather than being the servant of the people.

“Leader” suggests superiority to others, possessing special knowledge and insights, and in a most frightful way, implies knowing what is right over and above anyone else. Such a disposition leads to an abuse of power, the creation of imaginary foes, and does not entertain different perspectives, which are often seen as time consuming, and not dealing with the issue. Confusion therefore leads to directives being given, while those around the leader remain silent, fearing for their jobs. But it impacts negatively on the country later, and then the blame game begins.

A former Caribbean leader is noted for saying that he means what he says, and says what he means. This is the dictatorial mentality of the class prefect, and the traditional colonial administrator who lack the proper communication or persuasive skills, and therefore resort to arrogance and the power of position to scare others into conformity through fear. This makes some people compliant for fear of imagined consequences, but kindles in others a spirit of resistance, leading them to contest the statements and behaviour of such persons.

This disposition is unhealthy for any democracy. The politically conscious of Caribbean society should therefore educate their people into a new and different kind of political culture that promotes dialogue, respect for persons, and their views. Dissent must be seen as positive thereby enriching the democratic process. This is the antidote to emerging dictatorial tendencies.

But strangely, some of us see these statements and behaviours as being those of a strong, no nonsense leader who means business. And we repose in such persons a certain aura and authority, which are then used to manipulate us, and perpetuate the reign of a Caribbean oligarchy.

Our political institutions and practices in many ways seem to legitimise dictatorship, arrogance, and political puffery. This is the dictatorship of tradition, and it contaminates real democracy.

Recently, a journalist described a Caribbean leader as fearing no one, adding that he was essentially lord and master of his political domain. Could there be such a thing as “lord and master” in a democracy? Is it not such thinking that creates a situation where dictatorship comfortably resides in a democratic setting, and is even expected to do so by some?

This idea of strength, mastery, firmness, and being in control is reflective of a mind-set with origins in the plantation system, and we have yet to eject these thoughts from our psyche. In Caribbean democracy, kindness, sensitivity to others, fairness, and an altruistic outlook tend to be seen as soft and lacking backbone. Leadership has to be a macho thing, encouraging adoration.

To view leadership as being something that is entrusted to others through the agreement of the body politic, and which can be retrieved by those who have commissioned those leaders to act in the public good, has yet to be really registered in Caribbean political life. Failure of the electorate to realise the power it really has, provides the soil for dictatorship within a democracy.

A minister of government in a non-independent Caribbean territory was recently reported as stating indignantly that there will be taxes, come hell or high water. Isn’t this representative of a dictatorial strand operating in the context of democratic institutions? Is this possible, when a democratic political culture is supposed to eject such tendencies from political life, and from the practices of its institutions?

Why then, do we still have situations where democracy is upheld as an ideal, but is then undermined by dictatorial practices and behaviours? And those charged with upholding it, are sometimes the very ones who discard it.

It would appear, as some say, that real democracy has been hijacked by special interests, as a result compromising the public good. The political directorate has become the lobbyists for these interests, advocate for them, and the people who commissioned these persons to act on their behalf, are side-lined until the next election.

Caribbean democracy seems to have little problem making the transition from democracy to dictatorship when it suits particular political operatives. There seems to be no conflict, or sense of unease involved. It is slavery and the plantation system from which these values came.

Many Caribbean political operatives still feel that to get things done, some dictatorship must be involved. This means editing out dissent. Some even boast with respect to their way of doing things that “there is no democracy here.” They do not consider the possibility of engaging others, and so arrive at better, and more well considered solutions.

And this type of dictatorial culture slowly takes root. And it is buttressed by charismatic personalities with high intellectual abilities who mesmerise the people. A patron-client relationship then develops, where scarce resources are exchanged for political support.

This is neither good, nor right, since a healthy and prosperous society is sustained by the values of democracy and entrepreneurship. Dictatorship leads to benefits for the few, and eventually to a country attaining the status of a failed state.

April 22, 2014

Caribbeannewsnow

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Create a Bahamas for Bahamians ...and then watch them care more for themselves, their people, their environment and their future

A country with no plan, pt. 1


Nicole BurrowsOf late, when I hear any of our political leaders speak about the need for a national development or economic plan I am baffled.

The prime minister and his deputy, along with the minister of the environment and a number of others in Parliament, have spoken of this on recent occasions and it is instantly disconcerting. If it were intended to display intelligence or passion, it missed the mark on both counts, and it is really not something that any member of a governing party should ever utter.

We have been a sovereign nation for almost 41 years. I know that there are all sorts of growing pains attached to that sovereignty, and, really, we are just an infant country. But, some issues, in particular, keep us stuck in our infancy: the lack of a national and/or economic development plan is the most significant of them.

Why, after all this time has passed since our autonomy are we just now saying that we need national and economic plans for development? As the country’s leaders, how is it that you’re only now asking for these plans, which should have been the crux of your existence and previous governance? Moreover, how do you win an entire government without having had such plans, be it the most recent win in 2012, or the very first win in 1967? What government can govern at all – never mind effectively – without first having a comprehensive plan to govern? As it appears, have we really been on autopilot for all these decades?

As a ruling government, the fact that you have no such plans, by your own admission or public comments, does nothing to inspire confidence amongst the citizenry. What are the 300,000 or more of us – less the ones sitting in Parliament apparently unaware of how significant an issue this is – supposed to think about where it is you intend to take this country and how you intend to do it?

A guest on a local radio show recently suggested that such development plans have not existed prior to now, yet there exists an Economic Development Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister? How is that even possible? What is it that they do there year after year? I am certain I know the answer – maintain the status quo. We are a status quo-maintaining society, and it shows from the top down.

Our direction

Going forward, in the best interests of the country, every man or woman who offers himself or herself as a servant of the people, for elected or appointed public office, should be required to submit a serious analysis of economy and government, in support of an overall plan of how to (sustainably) grow our nation. In the absence of this, and without demonstrating coherent and sustained thought on the question of growth, for what reason will I give you my vote?

With the exception of none, all of the issues we have as a country point to: 1) our (obvious) lack of direction; and, 2) the fact that so much has changed in our economy and society in four decades, yet so much is unchanged with respect to laws and regulations, structures, people and processes that govern their enforcement.

Is it at all realistic to expect to move forward when the framework of your country is so rusty and fragile that you can’t build anything new on it without predicting that it will collapse?

The current government while in opposition campaigned on a Bahamas for Bahamians first. But here’s something to think on: The Bahamas was never for Bahamians. It was a vacation home; a paradise for visitors. And out of that grew a tourism industry, which I suppose seemed the easiest thing to follow through with at the time. But we are surely paying for that easy decision now. To create a Bahamas for Bahamians would have required much more effort than simply leaning on tourism.

That said, the benefits of open trade and foreign direct investment are well known, but we should have developed, be developing, from the inside out, not the outside in. As long as we aren’t, we will always be either stagnant or backward moving because there is no real value being added to human capital and productivity. Employers and employees have hit a ceiling of achievement and most will stop there. Additionally, they have no vested interest in what they achieve internally, but will continually look to the outside for the answers and the reward.

Had we developed instead from the inside out, meeting and securing our primary needs first and steadily growing and expanding real industry, something like value-added tax, or the (threat of) implementation of any method of taxation, would be a far less likely bone of contention, as the desperate scramble for revenue would have been avoided, de facto.

External input into our economy, by way of tourism, foreign banking and other foreign direct investment should never occur without attached domestic investment opportunities for the people these investments are meant to benefit. And if we are to assume those people are the citizens of our country, then why is it that they are the very people who repeatedly end up with the minimum wage or no benefit?

Give the people whose country it is the opportunities to directly invest in the development of their own country, in whatever small portions they can afford. And then watch them care more for themselves, their people, their environment and their future.

• Nicole Burrows is an academically trained economist and a self-trained writer: nicole.burrows@outlook.com.

April 16, 2014

thenassauguardian

- A country with no plan, pt. 2

- A country with no plan, pt. 3

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Value Added Tax (VAT) Option trumps a Payroll Tax in The Bahamas

‘Payroll Tax Not A Viable Option’

 

Tribune 242
Nassau, The Bahamas:


BAHAMIAN workers would face grave reductions in take-home pay if a payroll tax were implemented instead of a Value Added Tax (VAT), the three leading government voices in financial affairs, including the Prime Minister, agreed.

“You would need a payroll tax of 20-25 per cent to equal what a VAT of 15 per cent would generate,” said Prime Minister Perry Christie.

The Prime Minister was addressing a national conclave for Chambers of Commerce at Breezes on April 2.

Asked if the government had considered alternatives to VAT, the Prime Minister said absolutely, and was still listening to and talking with people. But a payroll tax would penalise the working individual, he said, a conclusion echoed by Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis and by Financial Secretary John Rolle.

Both said government had plugged payroll tax into a model, and the results showed the impact on the economy, including smaller take-home paychecks, would be far greater than the anticipated 5-6 per cent cost of living increase that will accompany the first year of VAT.

According to government’s figures, it would take a 16 per cent salary deduction to equal what a 10 per cent VAT rate across the board would generate. The deduction would have to be between 20 per cent and 25 per cent to generate as much as a 15 per cent VAT rate would net. 

“The net positive impacts (of VAT) outweigh the net negative impacts,” said Mr Halkitis, noting that the Bahamas still does not have capital gains tax, estate taxes, corporate or individual income tax.

Minister for Financial Services Ryan Pinder said the Bahamas remains one of the lowest percentage tax regimes in the world. 

The Bahamas rate of taxation to GDP is 16 per cent, he said, while US taxpayers cough up 32 per cent of the gross domestic product in taxes every year. 

“The real question,” said Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle, “is can we afford not to do it?”

Warning of the increased scrutiny of credit rating agencies, he said: “It only takes one person, one suggestion that the Bahamas is not a good place to invest, not a safe place to put your money, and guess what happens – it not only impacts the government, it impacts everyone. We have only one chance to get it right.”

April 15, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cuba Reiterates Call for Nuclear Disarmament

HAVANA, Cuba, April 9 (acn) Cuba reiterated its call on UN member nations to jointly work for a world free of nuclear threats through the total elimination and prohibition of atomic weapons. 

Speaking at the opening session of this year’s meeting of the UN Disarmament Commission, Cuban ambassador Oscar Leon stressed the leading role of Latin America and the Caribbean after being declared a Zone of Peace by the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in January.



Leon also stressed the decision by the UN General Assembly to declare September 26 International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.  

April 09, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jamaica Ranks 25th in Prostitution Revenue Worldwide

Jamaica ranks 25th in earnings from prostitution -- website








KINGSTON, Jamaica – A website Havoscope.com, which provides data and information on black market activities around the world, ranks Jamaica 25th in Prostitution Revenue Worldwide.

According to the ranking posted March 2014, Jamaica earned US$58 million from the industry, falling behind the Czech Republic which earned US$200m.

The number one earner according to the Havoscope.com ranking is China, which it says hauled in US$73 billion in revenue from prostitution.

Spain ranked second with US$26.5 billion and Japan third with US$24 billion.

Other countries in the list were the United States with $14.6b in earnings, the United Kingdom with US$1b and Russia with US$540m.

There were 26 countries in total.

See full ranking here:
Prostitution revenue worldwide

April 10, 2014

Jamaica Observer

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

USAID Subversion in Latin America Not Limited to Cuba

By Dan Beeton- CEPR


A new investigation by the Associated Press into a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project to create a Twitter-style social media network in Cuba has received a lot of attention this week, with the news trending on the actual Twitter for much of the day yesterday when the story broke, and eliciting comment from various members of Congress and other policy makers. The “ZunZuneo” project, which AP reports was “aimed at undermining Cuba's communist government,” was overseen by USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). AP describes OTI as “a division that was created after the fall of the Soviet Union to promote U.S. interests in quickly changing political environments — without the usual red tape.” Its efforts to undermine the Cuban government are not unusual, however, considering the organization’s track record in other countries in the region.

As CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot described in an interview with radio station KPFA’s “Letters and Politics” yesterday, USAID and OTI in particular have engaged in various efforts to undermine the democratically-elected governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, and Haiti, among others, and such “open societies” could be more likely to be impacted by such activities than Cuba. Declassified U.S. government documents show that USAID’s OTI in Venezuela played a central role in funding and working with groups and individuals following the short-lived 2002 coup d’etat against Hugo Chávez. A key contractor for USAID/OTI in that effort has been Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI).

More recent State Department cables made public by Wikileaks reveal that USAID/OTI subversion in Venezuela extended into the Obama administration era (until 2010, when funding for OTI in Venezuela appears to have ended), and DAI continued to play an important role. A State Department cable from November 2006 explains the U.S. embassy’s strategy in Venezuela and how USAID/OTI “activities support [the] strategy”:

(S) In August of 2004, Ambassador outlined the country team's 5 point strategy to guide embassy activities in Venezuela for the period 2004 ) 2006 (specifically, from the referendum to the 2006 presidential elections). The strategy's focus is: 1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez' Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.

Among the ways in which USAID/OTI have supported the strategy is through the funding and training of protest groups. This August 2009 cable cites the head of USAID/OTI contractor DAI’s Venezuela office Eduardo Fernandez as saying, during 2009 protests, that all the protest organizers are DAI grantees:

¶5. (S) Fernandez told DCM Caulfield that he believed the [the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations Corps'] dual objective is to obtain information regarding DAI's grantees and to cut off their funding. Fernandez said that "the streets are hot," referring to growing protests against Chavez's efforts to consolidate power, and "all these people (organizing the protests) are our grantees." Fernandez has been leading non-partisan training and grant programs since 2004 for DAI in Venezuela."

The November 2006 cable describes an example of USAID/OTI partners in Venezuela "shut[ting] down [a] city":

11. (S) CECAVID: This project supported an NGO working with women in the informal sectors of Barquisimeto, the 5th largest city in Venezuela. The training helped them negotiate with city government to provide better working conditions. After initially agreeing to the women's conditions, the city government reneged and the women shut down the city for 2 days forcing the mayor to return to the bargaining table. This project is now being replicated in another area of Venezuela.

The implications for the current situation in Venezuela are obvious, unless we are to assume that such activities have ended despite the tens of millions of dollars in USAID funds designated for Venezuela, some of it going through organizations such as Freedom House, and the International Republican Institute, some of which also funded groups involved in the 2002 coup (which prominent IRI staff publicly applauded at the time).

The same November 2006 cable notes that one OTI program goal is to bolster international support for the opposition:

…DAI has brought dozens of international leaders to Venezuela, university professors, NGO members, and political leaders to participate in workshops and seminars, who then return to their countries with a better understanding of the Venezuelan reality and as stronger advocates for the Venezuelan opposition.

Many of the thousands of cables originating from the U.S. embassy in Caracas that have been made available by Wikileaks describe regular communication and coordination with prominent opposition leaders and groups. One particular favorite has been the NGO Súmate and its leader María Corina Machado, who has made headlines over the past two months for her role in the protest movement. The cables show that Machado historically has taken more extreme positions than some other opposition leaders, and the embassy has at least privately questioned Súmate’s strategy of discrediting Venezuela’s electoral system which in turn has contributed to opposition defeats at the polls (most notably in 2005 when an opposition boycott led to complete Chavista domination of the National Assembly). The current protests are no different; Machado and Leopoldo López launched “La Salida” campaign at the end of January with its stated goal of forcing president Nicolás Maduro from office, and vowing to “create chaos in the streets.”

USAID support for destabilization is no secret to the targeted governments. In September 2008, in the midst of a violent, racist and pro-secessionist campaign against the democratically-elected government of Evo Morales in Bolivia, Morales expelled the U.S. Ambassador, and Venezuela followed suit “in solidarity.” Bolivia would later end all USAID involvement in Bolivia after the agency refused to disclose whom it was funding in the country (Freedom of Information Act requests had been independently filed but were not answered).  The U.S. embassy in Bolivia had previously been caught asking Peace Corps volunteers and Fulbright scholars in the country to engage in espionage.

Commenting on the failed USAID/OTI ZunZuneo program in Cuba, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) commented that, "That is not what USAID should be doing[.] USAID is flying the American flag and should be recognized around the globe as an honest broker of doing good. If they start participating in covert, subversive activities, the credibility of the United States is diminished."

But USAID’s track record of engaging in subversive activities is a long one, and U.S. credibility as an “honest broker” was lost many years ago.

Source: CEPR

April 08, 2014

venezuelanalysis

Friday, April 4, 2014

Open-minded politics and the Caribbean

By Oliver Mills:


Caribbean politics in many ways can be regarded as being a closed-minded activity. We as Caribbean people often have our allegiance to political parties pre-determined for us by our political culture, and through political socialisation. Through these processes, our minds from very early are shaped to accept designated political beliefs, which very often we do not question, or even revise, despite the fact that the political organisations we support can often behave in unacceptable ways. We therefore become the victims of our own choice. We are therefore not open-minded about the political beliefs we hold.

William Hare, a former professor at Dalhousie University, says that open-mindedness is the ability to hold particular views, but to revise them when new evidence that contradicts them is presented. To me this means we remain open to the possibility that what we currently hold to be true; can be found to have no basis or substance when new evidence is presented to the contrary. We should therefore revise our original position, and adopt the new, evidence-based one, despite the psychological unease we may experience, because of the changes necessary to put things right.

The lack of open-minded thinking in Caribbean politics is seen most starkly just before independence, when Caribbean governments had other political systems to choose from, but instead retained the one they inherited. This meant continued governance by the well-off and parliamentary legislation being formulated to benefit the elites. Since the system benefited only a minority at the expense of the majority, there was no consideration of reflecting in an open-minded way, on whether it needed to be evaluated, and replaced by one which was more equitable.

A closed-minded view of politics therefore prevailed from the eve of independence to the present. Independence itself was a gift to the Caribbean closed-minded elite. This is why every Caribbean independent country is experiencing the same problems in some form presently, since the content of the gift was worse than the packaging.

Apart from not being open-minded about the inherited political institutions, there was, and still is no attempt to politically educate citizens of the independent countries in a serious way to rid their minds of the myths their previous controllers had, and still have about them.

One Caribbean author states that myths were used to make people contented with their lot. For example, they were told the social order under which they lived was natural, and even divine. This led to a cowed ambition, and an existence without any serious purpose, since everything was fixed. Few Caribbean countries since independence have sought to free the minds of their citizens in a systematic way from the complexes the pre-independence period imposed on them.

Because of this, unhealthy negative thinking remains, and some of the coping mechanisms in the pre- and post-independence period were and are to submit to the system and be contented with it, while seeking to be recruited into the ranks of those who wielded, and still possess power and authority, so they could be a part of the system of dominance, and so help to keep their own people quiet and obedient. This is the closed-minded way of coping, and these behaviours remain in the present era.

Some who used this strategy, and still employ it, include the educated middle class. Closed-minded thinking has therefore led to economic stagnancy, exhausted political ideas and, most frightening of all, it has led to ministers of government behaving like civil servants, rather than transformational leaders.

The political directorate in the Caribbean has therefore become copycats of other systems, because they have not employed open-minded thinking to find alternative social arrangements that would work in their respective countries.

In one area where the Caribbean political directorate has become most open-minded though, is in the role of the maximum political leader, or prime minister, simply because it gives them more power, and authority. This is shown where, according to Trevor Munroe, the Caribbean prime minister dominates the executive or cabinet, more than does the British prime minister, and we also have a political culture which defers to our leaders.

The prime minister in the Caribbean also exercises greater control over his or her party than what obtains in Britain, since party candidates are approved by the leader. In Britain, the candidate for election is chosen by the people in the constituency. The Caribbean prime minister’s power over the legislature is also greater than that of the British prime minister, because he or she has the power to dissolve parliament.

We have seen, then, that open-mindedness in Caribbean politics exists only where it benefits the leaders. If they see where being open-minded gives them an edge, they revise their views on certain practices. If no political mileage is gained, closed-mindedness prevails.

But open-mindedness goes beyond personal advantage. It is about being constantly alert to the possibility that the political environment might change and so endanger progressive policies. It is being constantly open to the changes in the way the electorate measures the political winds, and decides to change with them. It is being open to new political ideas and philosophies, which are transformational in character. And it is having the willingness to adopt, make decisions based on evidence, and so provide citizens of the Caribbean with a prosperous, happy, and viable society.

Most importantly, open-mindedness involves the willingness of Caribbean leaders to give up their most cherished ideas, once new evidence shows they no longer have credence, and change them for those that have.

April 03, 2014

Caribbeannewsnow

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The cost element of a National Health Insurance (NHI) proposal is a major concern ...says The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC)

 Chamber: Nhi Costs 'A Major Concern'




By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net
Nassau, The Bahamas



THE Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) is finalising the formation of a committee to review the Government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) proposals, its chief executive agreeing that implementation costs were a major concern.

Edison Sumner, who is also a member of the Government’s NHI steering committee, told Tribune Business: “We are in the process of finalising the formation of a committee who will be reviewing the NHI proposals, and once that committee is formed we will start to put positions together based on the information that we have.

“There was a private sector committee established several years ago, who looked at the work of the Blue Ribbon Commission, and we are going to be studying the work already done and looking at revisions made to the current plan.”

“Once our committee would have had a chance to review those details, then we would be able to begin putting a position forward. As it stands at the moment, I have been representing the private sector on the NHI steering committee,” Mr Sumner said.

“It’s been more of an exploratory process to see what’s available, what’s out there and getting reports in from the consultant, Sanigest. We haven’t formed an opinion as yet. We are reviewing the information we have, and the committee, once they complete their work, then we will begin to formulate a comprehensive private sector response to the NHI proposals.”

National Health Insurance was first developed as a policy priority under the first Christie administration. A 15-member Blue Ribbon Commission was appointed to review the feasibility of a National Health Insurance Plan. The National Health Insurance Act 2006 was then tabled in Parliament by the Christie government on November 2006.

The Government is now moving towards the “full implementation” of a National Health Insurance scheme, having appointed a 12-member steering committee to oversee the full implementation of the National Insurance Act 2006. The main fears, now as then, were the likely cost burden an NHI scheme would impose on the Bahamian economy and business community, and who will pay for it.

“The cost element is a major concern, and even that hasn’t been determined yet. We have some ideas and indications but we don’t know; we don’t know for sure yet how it’s going to be funded. These are questions being asked and issues being addressed. I suppose we won’t have a final determination until the work of the consultants and the cost analysis is complete. We expect to be very engaged in the process,” said Mr Sumner.

March 31, 2014