Bahamas Blog International
Voters Want To Know Their Constituency Political Candidates For Election To Parliament In The Bahamas 2007 General Election
Related to country: Bahamas
The time for action:
Bahama Journal Editorial -
The public needs to know the names of those men and women who wish to be law-makers in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Voters who would vote in the next general elections –whenever these are called- need to have some idea as to who will get their nod of approval.
We are today quite persuaded that a lot of Bahamians are sick and tired of the waiting game to which they have been invited; courtesy the leadership and high command in both major political parties.
The people have a pressing need to know –sooner rather than later- just who is coming their way.
This may well explain why so very many of them are still to be counted as being in the ranks of the "unregistered, yet eligible to vote" crew.
They –too- can and will make their own real impact on the outcome of the next general elections. Put otherwise, it is in no one’s interest for any significant number of potential electors to be ‘turned off’ or tuned out.
This would be a most unfortunate turn of events; threatening the perceived legitimacy of the entire democratic process in a post-Independence Bahamas.
One of the more interesting facts of life in the political world is the truth that is to be found in the proposition that elections can be won and that these contests for power can also be lost.
Depending on who you talk to on any given day, you could get the feeling that General Elections could be called any day now. And yet again, depending on who you talk to on any given day, the outcome of those general elections is seen as a done deal for the incumbent Progressive Liberal Party.
Interestingly, there is another view that suggests a very different outcome. Those Bahamians who are not persuaded that there is any ‘done deal’ for anyone are persuaded that the outcome of the next elections is no such thing.
Neither major party has a lock on the support of a clear majority of voters who will vote.
Each party will be obliged to fight for the support of those voters who vote independently.
It is also a foregone conclusion that media –radio, television, print and the internet- will play their own uniquely important parts in this Bahama drama.
Public that is far from naïve does not take kindly to a party governing or in Opposition- that appears to be dithering and dawdling on a matter as important as the one concerning candidates. And as important, it is absolutely important that the parties concerned choose wisely.
But even as the two major parties play take their own sweet time, they need to be reminded that life goes on. Here reference is made to the fact that even as they put the finishing touches on their choices, some political operatives are running their own side-show campaigns.
Some of these games are resonating with a public that needs to be awakened from its slumber.
For our part, we want to see a campaign that is focused on track record in and out of office. It should also be one where character and competence are seen to count; and for sure the campaign should be one that is conducted as if sobriety, reasoned debate and real vision do matter.
Put otherwise, we want a campaign that is conducted in the light; and not one where the truth is left to the tender mercies of those remorseless liars and spin masters who would insist that you call this putrid stuff public relations.
Our country is too small and its social bonds far too fragile for this kind of garbage.
We repeat that there should be no space in this matter for those who would dispense with the truth and get down into the gutter and make charges and allegations.
Wherever and whenever there are allegations of impropriety, the person bringing forward the allegation should have the decency to "put up or shut up."
The time has come for action on the matter involving who will run.
But we also counsel some and caution all that no one should be so cocky as to believe that they or their party are entitled to rule.
In the ultimate analysis, the people will have the government of their choice.
30 January 2007
|January 30, 2007 | 9:37 PM
International Criminal Court (ICC): Good News or What?
Re: International Criminal Court:
Bahama Journal Editorial -
The good news today is that we took a detour from our usual path and found ourselves in the middle of some truly good news.
As reported in The Economist Magazine, we learn that:
When the International Criminal Court (ICC) struggled into being, its well-wishers were unsure how long this fragile creature would survive, let alone if it would vindicate its creators' hopes of dishing out just deserts to tyrants.
Aged four-and-a-half, the tribunal is proving a lustier infant than many predicted. Its prosecutors have delved deeply into horrible wars in Congo, Sudan and Uganda.
The court's first trial-of Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese warlord, accused of using children as soldiers-is due to start later this year. The first indictments for the mass killings in Sudan's Darfur region are expected next month.
Five leaders of Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army have already been indicted. One has since been killed, but the other four face trial when caught. An investigation into atrocities in a fourth, as yet unnamed, country is due to be announced soon.
As the court's reputation grows, so does the number of countries that have signed up-104 at the last count. They include all the main European states. Japan, which will become its biggest donor by far, is expected to join later this year.
But the real change in the court's fortunes stems from a gradual shift in America's attitude: it has moved from outright hostility to some cautious signals that, in some parts of the world, it sees the ICC as useful.
In the court's early days, the administration devoted huge energy to limiting the risk of American citizens being hauled in. Using threats to hold back economic or military aid, it cajoled about 100 states into signing bilateral accords to keep Americans out of the court's grip.
Under these deals, countries vowed that Americans would be immune from prosecution for atrocities committed on their soil-and would in no event be sent to the ICC.
John Bolton, America's erstwhile ambassador to the UN, hailed his country's decision in May 2002 to pull out of the ICC (not to be confused with the World Court, also in The Hague) as the "happiest moment" of his government career.
Tom DeLay, the former Republican House majority leader, lambasted it as a "kangaroo court...a shady amalgam of every bad idea ever cooked up for world government". President George Bush called it a "foreign court" where "unaccountable judges and prosecutors can pull our troops or diplomats up for trial".
Despite the court's repeated assurances, American congressmen and officials feared that the world's sole superpower would become the target of politically-motivated prosecutions.
Although some fears remain, the tone has undoubtedly changed.
Mr. Bush recently waived restrictions on military aid to 21 countries, and curbs on economic aid to a further 14, despite their refusal to sign bilateral immunity deals.
Senator John McCain, a Republican presidential hopeful, has said he wants to see the United States in the ICC. In an article in the Washington Post, he and a former senator, Bob Dole, urged America and its allies "to use their intelligence assets, including satellite technology" to help the ICC in Darfur.
John Bellinger, chief legal adviser to Condoleezza Rice in the State Department, has been the driving force behind the change of attitude. He thinks the campaign against the court undermines broader American aims, such as ending impunity for the worst crimes. "Divisiveness over the ICC distracts from our ability to pursue these common goals," he has said. "We do acknowledge that it has a role to play."
Ms. Rice has herself urged a softer line, saying America was "shooting [itself] in the foot" by imposing sanctions on those unwilling to sign bilateral immunity deals. Many such states were old American allies who reacted by moving closer to China.
The first sign of a shift came with America's surprise decision not to veto the Security Council's referral of Darfur to the court in March 2005.
When Serge Brammertz, the ICC's deputy chief prosecutor, was appointed to head the UN's inquiry into the murder of Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's former prime minister, nine months later, not a grumble was heard from America.
Nor did it object when the Security Council voted last summer to transfer Charles Taylor, a former Liberian president, to the ICC's premises in The Hague for trial.
And America's ambassador to Uganda has been urging support for the ICC's prosecution of the Lord's Resistance Army rebels, despite criticism from local community leaders who claim that the threat of arrest is impeding the peace process.
On their own, these signals may not amount to much. But together they suggest at least the beginnings of a change of heart. Mixed messages are still coming out of Washington; but the vitriol has gone.
29 January 2007
|January 29, 2007 | 5:58 PM
Fewer and Fewer Bahamians are Saving for a Rainy Day
Related to country: Bahamas
Rates of borrowing top Bahamian savings rates:
By BARRY WILLIAMS, Guardian Staff Reporter -
Financial statistics are revealing a grim reality - fewer and fewer Bahamians are saving for a rainy day.
The impact of this has spin-off effects on the economy as evidenced by the pressure commercial banks are feeling to attract depositors - a main strategy for building liquidity levels.
"[There is] a link between savings and financial services," said Vincent Peet, Minister of Financial Services and Investments. He gave an address at the official launch of the annual Savings Culture seminar sponsored by Bank of The Bahamas International.
"As a nation that makes a significant proportion of its living from financial services, we need not only sharpen our skills within the sector, but to begin as a people to be financially conscious of the whole ethos of earnings and savings," Peet added.
Statistics support that The Bahamas is a consumer society, with low levels of savings. The average Bahamian has less than $1,000 in his or her savings account, according to Central Bank statistics. They also reveal that the amount of credit outweighs savings by $1.5 billion.
In recent years many counter-productive strategies to saving has been used both by consumers and the financial institutions that cater to them.
Banks are realizing now, more than ever before, that innovative strategies are needed to create a paradigm shift away from haphazard spending.
Kids are a good target group to teach the importance of saving and controlled spending, said Tanya Wright, senior manager of business development and public relations for the Bank.
"The buy-in to the national initiative to promote a savings culture is as important to us [the banking community] as the individual savings goal is to the customer," she said.
Some commercial banks, including Wright's, are encouraging this effort of kiddy savings by offering higher interest rates on deposit accounts for young adults.
Money management is one of the critical problems facing families says Melanie Griffin, Minister of Social Services and Development. She said many are simply living above their means.
"Our culture places tremendous emphasis on the acquisition of material things," she said. "It is so important that we develop a savings culture in The Bahamas, instead of the overspending culture that currently exists."
Griffin said it is not uncommon for people making good salaries to show up at social services. The brow-raising salary deductions for checks leave some persons with a gross take home pay of $100 or less per month, making it necessary for them to turn to government for help.
The additional burden on the social welfare system is only compounded with a reliance on credit.
|January 28, 2007 | 9:24 PM
9/11 Commission Instigated Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) Weathers " ...category six hurricane"
WHTI--Weathering a storm:
Bahama Journal Editorial -
Tuesday, September 11, 2001 marked the beginning of a new state of affairs in the world. That was the day when terrorists struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; incidentally that same day when they would have struck the White House itself.
Mercifully, they were thwarted in this last design.
We raise this 9/11 specter of terror as we reflect on the significance of what has come to be known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
As we have come to learn, The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires all citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda to have a passport or other accepted document that establishes the bearer’s identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the United States from within the Western Hemisphere.
We note also that the travel document requirements make up the departments of State and Homeland Security’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). This change in travel document requirements is the result of recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, which Congress subsequently passed into law in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
We are further advised that The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will require, with some exceptions, that citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the British Overseas territory of Bermuda present a passport to enter the United States when arriving by air or sea from any part of the Western Hemisphere, including The Bahamas.
Of extreme importance to this country is the fact that during consultations in Washington, D.C. in June, U.S. Ambassador John Rood promoted awareness of the travel initiative within the United States by securing approval for placement of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism’s posters reminding travelers of the passport initiative to be posted in all U.S. customs and passport facilities in Florida.
We are told that "the shift to the passport requirement at airports is the first phase of a broader initiative to strengthen scrutiny at all points of entry, an initiative recommended by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The new rules are likely to be instituted at land and sea ports as soon as Jan. 1, 2008."
We are today being advised that yesterday's smooth transition was like a tonic to many. This was due to the fact that a high percentage of travelers had in fact obtained a passport.
The message –quite clearly- did get through.
For now, those rare travelers who arrive at airports without passports are generally being accommodated rather than turned away, said Kelly Klundt, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
We are advised that tourism officials in Mexico and Canada had earlier expressed concern that potential tourists -- particularly those traveling by land -- would be turned off by the new passport requirement.
J. Willard "Bill" Marriott Jr., chairman and chief executive of Marriott International expresses a commonly held fear when he indicates, "I'm afraid, if it's not properly implemented and communicated, that WHTI could have a serious negative impact on legitimate commerce and tourism, as well as our diplomatic relationships with our two largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico."
Similarly, Mexican Tourism Secretary Rodolfo Elizondo Torres predicted that 318,000 fewer Americans would visit Mexico in the next year because of the new requirement. "The lost income could reach $254 million a year," Torres said in a statement.
Note also that there is a Caribbean voice that speaks. It belongs to CTO’s Secretary General, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace.
He said that "while the Caribbean applauds the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) and the US government’s efforts to increase security at the borders, he believes that the different sets of rules for sea, air or land travel may leave travelers confused and could discourage commerce and tourism."
Vanderpool-Wallace was also troubled by the possibility that "the potential economic impact on their business could be catastrophic…
Because of the potential far ranging effect of this action; there is nothing potentially more devastating. This is a category six hurricane."
While we appreciate and understand the depth of his fear concerning this matter, we are today persuaded that The Bahamas and its neighbours can and will weather this storm –as they have done through so many others.
Passengers experienced few difficulties yesterday as new border security rules went into effect requiring citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and some Caribbean islands to present a passport when entering the United States by air, officials said.
Previously such passengers were able to prove their identity with a variety of documents, including a combination of a birth certificate and a driver's license. Now, under select circumstances, two other documents, the Merchant Mariner Document and the Nexus Air card, will be permitted instead of a passport.
26 January 2006
|January 27, 2007 | 11:10 PM
Bahamas: Guns, Drugs And Murder Culture - And The American Way
From The Heart: Guns, Drugs And Murder -
By Rupert Missick:
Nassau, Bahamas -
It is just a few days past Christmas and this little country of ours has already registered six murders for the year. It seems as if guns are everywhere for anyone who wants one.
Drugs seemingly are as prevalent today as they were during the wild seventies and the roaring eighties.
And murder, the by-product of the guns and drugs culture is at its highest levels ever.
While it is wrong to suggest that Haiti is responsible for our troubles in this regard, it is also foolish to ignore the fact that three Haitian boats over the past week alone have been caught with significant amounts of drugs on board.
For Haitians to bring drugs or any other contraband into this country is to add insult to injury.
Many Haitians come here illegally, work and send money to their families back home. Many of them benefit from the educational and medical services of this country.
So to try and bite the very hand that feeds them and to dump their poisonous cargo on this society to create more havoc on our streets and in our homes is totally unacceptable.
The government must move with quick haste to stem this tide of drugs, guns and murder before this country passes completely out of their control and become violent like Haiti and Jamaica.
Our politicians need to wake up, do their jobs or be gone.
The Police, Immigration, Customs and the Defense Force need a quick kick in the pants. And we citizens of this fair commonwealth have got to stop cuddling evil and supporting corruption.
Top government officials cannot take three million dollars from a foreign investor and say, so what. Police and Defense Force Officers cannot be buddy-buddy with known drug dealers and no one sees that as a problem.
Our churches can ill afford to be places of greed and corruption hungering after money, power and prestige without further eroding the spiritual and moral fiber of our society.
In the end, all of us will live in or die in the kind of culture we foster.
Trouble is, we can do better. We can do more and a lot better. It’s high time that we pull up our socks and care to do better.
The United States of America manufactures more guns and weapons of major and minor destruction than any other country in the world.
The largest cash crop in America is not soy, rice, wheat, potatoes, beans or tomatoes. It is marijuana!
You do the math. The largest gun manufacturer, the largest marijuana grower right on our doorsteps; think, can we expect any fall out or as they say in the tourist, any spill over from that?
It is time that The Bahamas demand that America account for any of its drugs or guns that might be finding their way inside our borders.
If we are to account for and is often held responsible for illicit traffic south to north, then American must account for the same from the north to us.
Our problem is of courts that we have no power to enforce anything.
We can propose and suggest as much as we please. The simple fact of the matter is, we manufacture no guns!
26 January 2006
|January 26, 2007 | 10:03 PM
america american bahamas bahamian bahamians caribbean crime crisis cuba cuban development economic economy global government health history ict4d individualeconomy international investment obama people political revolution social war washington world