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Michael Scott: Ex-Attorney for Anna Nicole Smith Says Immigration Minister Shane Gibson Should Resign as He Misled the PM
Related to country: Bahamas

Attorney Says Immigration Minister Should Resign:

By Quincy Parker -
Nassau, Bahamas:

Minister of Labour and Immigration Shane Gibson misled the prime minister and the country over the Anna Nicole Smith permanent residency matter, according to lawyer Michael Scott, who said the minister should do the honourable thing and resign.

Mr. Scott made that assertion to the Journal after asserting that Anna Nicole Smith does not own a home in The Bahamas, or at least not the million-dollar Eastern Road waterfront mansion she was staying in called "Horizons."

However, when asked about the claims, Director of the Department of Immigration Vernon Burrows said that Ms. Smith – whose real name is Vicky Lynn Hogan Marshall – is a legal permanent resident.

"As far as the Department of Immigration is concerned, she is the owner of the house," Mr. Burrows said. "We have received no evidence otherwise."

Mr. Burrows pointed out that it was on the basis of the evidence in hand that Ms. Smith was granted permanent residency in The Bahamas, without the right to work.

"As far as Immigration is concerned, she is a permanent resident of The Bahamas, having gained it through home ownership," Mr. Burrows asserted.

But Mr. Scott, who at one time represented Ms. Smith but ended the relationship citing a commercial transaction, told the Journal on Friday that ownership of the home had officially reverted to South Carolina-based developer G. Ben Thompson.

And, on the question of the cheque for Ms. Smith’s permanent residency fee, Mr. Scott was adamant.

"There is no question that (Minister Gibson personally) received the cheque," he said. "That is a fact. I say that without a scintilla of doubt."

The lawyer insisted that Minister Gibson personally received the cheque on September 20 at about 7pm at the Horizons residence.

After making repeated statements on the matter, Minister Gibson on Friday referred the Journal to Director Burrows for comment, saying he did not wish to get drawn further into the matter any further.

In fact, Mr. Scott said Ms. Smith never had legal title to the home.

In the wake of an allegedly consistent refusal to honour an alleged obligation to pay for the house, he reiterated that Ms. Smith has been asked to vacate the premises by October 31.

Mr. Scott explained that the documentation the Department of Immigration relied on to make the determination of status for Ms. Smith was "incomplete." He said the Department’s claim that it had documentation showing that Ms. Scott owned the house was true "at the time."

Minister Gibson told the House of Assembly last week that the department’s file included a conveyance granting title of the house to Ms. Smith, from the law firm of Callenders and Company, where Mr. Scott is a partner.

He pointed out that the agreement between Mr. Thompson and Ms. Smith called for her to execute a mortgage to pay Mr. Thompson back the million dollars he paid for the residence.

According to Mr. Scott, she refused to do so after being asked on at least four occasions to honour the agreement, leading to potentially serious consequences for her.

"Once she refused to execute the mortgage, I could no longer represent her," Mr. Scott said, finally explaining explicitly why he stopped representing Ms. Smith, "because my primary client is Ben Thompson."

Mr. Scott took issue with the minister seeking to lay the blame for any misconduct or impropriety in this increasingly contentious matter at the feet of the law firm.

"He is trying to transfer blame to us for something his department failed to do," Mr. Scott said, indicating that the Department of Immigration ought to have had supporting documentation.

Mr. Scott insisted that the department would not be able to produce any documentation in which they ask for proof of ownership of the Horizons residence.

According to Mr. Scott, the money for the house came from South Carolina real estate developer G. Ben Thompson, who pre-dates Anna Nicole Smith as his client. He said that Mr. Thompson bought the house, but at the last minute decided to transfer the title to Ms. Smith in order to assist her.

However, he said that Ms. Smith had agreed to pay Mr. Thompson for the house. He said he had seen evidence that Ms. Smith acknowledged the debt.

Mr. Scott said that she had been asked for the money on four occasions, and after the last refusal to pay, Mr. Thompson appears to have had enough.

"He instructed me to cancel the conveyance in escrow, and to prepare a fresh conveyance in his name, which has been done, and stamped," he said.

So, while Ms. Smith may have appeared to own the home, Mr. Scott contends that she never did, and that she does not now.

On the question of the conflict of interest suggestions raised by observers who note that Callenders has represented both Ms. Smith and Mr. Thompson, Mr. Scott explained that he was representing Mr. Thompson in the purchase of the home, and Ms. Smith came into the matter later.

He said that he had been asked by Mr. Thompson and an associate, both of whom were friends of Ms. Smith, to act on her behalf after the tragic sudden death of her 20-year-old son Daniel.

Daniel’s death sparked a number of changes on the face of things, including the dismantling of the Coroner’s Court, a cross-border police investigation and allegations of an improper relationship between a Cabinet minister (Minister Gibson) and a private individual seeking permanent residency.

The controversy swirling around Anna Nicole Smith seems to continue unabated. She has so far not made contact with an attorney for her ex-boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, who insists that he is the father of Ms. Smith’s daughter Dannielynn Hope.

Mr. Birkhead had originally sued Ms. Smith in California, demanding that she submit Dannielynn Hope to a paternity test.

He has now filed a new lawsuit here that apparently alleges that Ms. Smith provided fraudulent information when she applied for residency in The Bahamas as she identified her daughter’s father as being her American attorney, Howard K. Stern.

According to reports, Ms. Birkhead’s lawyer Debra Opri said: "It will be up to this government entity to pursue any criminal investigation against either Anna Nicole Smith and or Howard K. Stern."

30 October 2006

October 30, 2006 | 3:56 PM Comments  {num} comments


Europe should prepare for the 2nd discovery – that of the Americas in turmoil

"There was a lot of distortion regarding Fidel’s illness"
• Affirms Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, president of Cuba’s
National Assembly of People’s Power

(Taken from the La nueva España website)

RICARDO Alarcón de Quesada, president of Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power since 1993, laughs when he recalls the afternoon when they announced to the world Fidel Castro’s illness and hospitalization. "Now he’s quite well; that’s the truth," he says.

"That afternoon I talked with Fidel, and we had a good laugh over what was going to happen after the announcement. We were right about what happened afterward: it was in all the headlines, and produced all kinds of speculation. On the one hand, that is also an acknowledgment of Fidel’s person; not even his enemies can ignore him. But there was also a lot of distortion and quite a bit of foolishness. According to the media, it was as if the country was at the brink of a social and political disaster. And it was the calmest place on Earth."

Alarcón arrived last Monday in Oviedo (Spain) to participate in the 2nd International Seminar "Humanity Against Imperialism: Ideas for the 21st Century," which is taking place at the Teatro Filarmónica.

This is your first visit to Oviedo. What brings you here?

"This type of meeting is important. In the first place, because of the human contact, which can’t be replaced by Internet or cell phones. But in the second place, the discussion of ideas is very important, debate to try to define common paths. It’s a mistake to think that what can be achieved on the theoretical level has no practical effectiveness. The world is changing, and to a good extent, that change is provided by theory. And there are many examples of that."

Like the Cuban regime, which has survived many changes, right?

"It’s true, the Cuban Revolution is from the Cold War period. It went through peaceful coexistence, and made it to the failure of so-called real socialism. We have been in a unipolar world for more than 15 years, and we are witnessing the collapse of that world as well. When I was a student, it seemed like history had longer periods; there were wars of 100 years, and now times are shorter, and we are going to see many more changes."

But Cuba is still in the middle of the international sight?

The media depends, to a great extent, on news agencies, and in that aspect there has been a lot of manipulation regarding Cuba. There are many clouds, deliberately placed, between the individual and reality. Noam Chomsky has a very good quote for this, which defines society in the United States. "It is a historic series of buildings of lies, placed one on top of the other." Imagine the poor human being below that skyscraper of lies. And the journalists, too, are underneath it. How can you wrestle with the real world if it is so difficult to get to? People can sense it somehow, and it takes away credibility from the media. But now there are real alternatives.


"Twenty years ago, it was necessary to wait for a ship to come from Asia with a letter from Indonesia. Now, getting more information about a story in the newspapers is just a matter of minutes. We call Jakarta and that’s it. That’s what happened on March 11 – people mobilized by cell phone."

Can it be made politically profitable?

"Maybe, but more than the political use of technology, I’m interested in the possibility of communicating with you in real time."

The other face of currency is lack of commitment.

"In some places, people are stranded, obsessed with consumerism and individual material gain. But in Latin America, society is very lively; suffice it to think about Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil... there, you can see turmoil. You can’t talk about the planet as a whole, or see the world from the standpoint of Europe. In reality, Europe should be prepared for a second discovery of America, to meet it again."

Is Hugo Chávez the head of that Latin America?

"Today, Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution are a key part of that process, but I don’t think that he would agree with calling himself "the head." We should not forget the first indigenous government, that of Evo Morales. He was in Oviedo two years ago, they told me, and few then imagined that he would be the president of his country."

Is there a way to fit together all national interests on a world scale?

"George Bush thought that he could fit them together. Just look at how the world has changed in the 10 years since they forced Nixon to resign for lying; they judged Bill Clinton politically for lying with respect to Monica Lewinsky; and with George Bush, we know that he deliberately lied when he said that there were weapons of mass destruction, and nothing is happening."

What worries him is Islamic terrorism.

"I don’t like to give surnames to terrorism. Should we call anti-Cuban terrorists Christian terrorists because they’re Catholic? It would be insulting to Christians. Terrorism is an aberration that must be eliminated, but with an informed attitude, not with hypocrisy."

What is your position on the nuclearization of Korea?

"We’re concerned about the situation. To proliferate – luckily, we speak the same language – means that something is extended. The only way to put an end to this is generalized nuclear disarmament."

October 29, 2006 | 6:01 PM Comments  {num} comments


At least 20 UN agencies have condemned the U.S. blockade of Cuba as "a unilateral policy"...
Related to country: Cuba

UN agencies censure U.S. blockade of Cuba:

By Granma International -

UNITED NATIONS (PL).—At least 20 UN agencies have condemned the U.S. blockade of Cuba as "a unilateral policy" that is blocking economic and social cooperation with the island, according to an official report by the secretary general published October 27.

In that document the agencies state their disagreement with Washington’s imposition of coercive measures against Cuba over more than 40 years.

These international bodies have demanded the annulment of the blockade of Cuba on account of its violation of international law.

The report, which also includes considerations from 100 countries opposed to the blockade, confirms a universal consensus on ending that hostile policy.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) particularly censured Washington’s decision to intensify the blockade of Cuba in order to make economic, political and social life on the island more difficult.

The ECLAC refers to a report from the Cuban authorities, according to which the accumulated direct and indirect damage to the economy of that underdeveloped country amounts to $82 billion.

For its part, UNICEF cited as a concrete example of the prejudicial effects of the blockade the serious problems in acquiring cytostatics for child suffering from cancer.

Pharmaceutical laboratories that had contracts with Cuba had to suspend supplies of those medicines after they were bought up by U.S. transnationals, UNICEF notes.

For the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the extra-territorial effects of the blockade imposed by Washington have significant consequences for Cuba due to the influence of U.S. interests in transnational enterprises.

In its turn, the UN Population Fund highlights in its report the efforts made by Cuba to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS over close to 20 years in the quality of the a country blockaded by the United States.

In the UN secretary general’s report the UN Development Program (UNDP) reiterated the impossibility of acquiring equipment and other supplies manufactured by the United States or protected via patents held by that country.

According to UN-Habitat, the blockade imposed on Cuba restricts that nation from having access to low-cost chemical products and equipment for the treatment of water and waste water, which has negative impact on the environment and public health.

"The UN system in Cuba has come up against difficulties and limitations for technical cooperation projects, above all acquiring equipment and other supplies manufactured in the United States or with components produced there," the UNDP notes.

The Secretary General’s report is circulating among UN members as part of the procedures prior to the annual debate on the "The need to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States."

According to the official program, the 61st General Assembly is to discuss the issue on November 8, for the 15th year in succession.

On the 14 previous occasions the General Assembly passed by an overwhelming majority a resolution calling on Washington to end the blockade of Cuba.

Last year the vote reached the record figure of 182 votes in favor.

(Translated by English Dept, Granma International)>>>

October 28, 2006 | 2:25 PM Comments  {num} comments


Immigration Minister Shane Gibson: Anna Nicole Smith Had "unconditionally" Purchased a $1 Million Home in NP
Related to country: Bahamas

Minister Seeks To Clear Air On Anna Nicole Controversy:

By Macushla N. Pinder -
Nassau, Bahamas:

An investigation into claims that American reality TV star Anna Nicole Smith does not own her Eastern Road home and faces eviction has revealed otherwise, according to Immigration Minister Shane Gibson.

Referring to the Department of Immigration’s file on Vicky Lynn Hogan Marshall – Ms. Smith’s real name – Minister Gibson told members of the House of Assembly on Wednesday night that thus far, it has been revealed that the former Playboy playmate had "unconditionally" purchased a $1 million home in New Providence.

"The file also contains a notarized copy of a conveyance prepared by Callenders & Co., executed by George Clifford Culmer, liquidator; and Ronald H. Kelly, transferring ownership of the property in question to Vicky Lynn Marshall," Minister Gibson said.

"The file further reveals that the $10,000 permanent residence fee was paid by a cheque drawn on the account of Callenders & Co. The law firm has since advised that at the time of the application, the conveyance on file was executed in favour of Vicky Lynn Marshall."

Minister Gibson further claimed that Callenders & Co. not only represented Ms Smith, but at the time, also Mr. Culmer.

According to the minister, Callenders & Co. now purports to represent Mr. Culmer as well as Gaither Ben Thompson, a South Carolina-based real estate developer.

Mr. Thompson, whom Ms. Smith reportedly had a brief relationship with last year, claims to be the actual owner of Horizons – the Eastern Road waterfront mansion where the Trimspa model is staying.

Mr. Thompson wants her out of the house by the end of the month. He has otherwise threatened to begin formal eviction proceedings.

The real estate developer seems to have bought the home in August as a favour to Ms Smith with the understanding that she would take out a mortgage and pay him for the home.

However, Ms. Smith has reportedly refused to pay, claiming that the house had been intended as a gift, a claim Mr. Thompson denies.

The law in the Bahamas states that a person owning a house valued at more than $500,000 and having the means to reside without being employed – and being of good character – is eligible for residency.

If it is found that Ms. Smith does not own the house, this could affect her permanent residency status here in The Bahamas, where she gave birth to a baby girl last month. Ms. Smith recently buried her 20-year-old son Daniel Wayne Smith at Lakeview Cemetery in New Providence.

Daniel died suddenly while visiting his mother, only days after she had given birth to her daughter, Dannielyn Hope.

"The investigation now underway by the Department of Immigration has yet to uncover any evidence that the Central Bank of The Bahamas or the National Economic Council granted any approval or if indeed there was any request as provided for under the law for Mr. Ben Thompson, a foreigner, to hold a mortgage on property in The Bahamas as has been publicly alleged," Minister Gibson said.

He assured that in the event it is discovered that any of the information or representation made to the Department of Immigration is inaccurate, untrue or misleading, the matter would be dealt with to the "fullest extent of the law."

"The investigation into this matter is ongoing, in addition to which the department is seeking the advice of the Attorney General on referring the details of this matter to the Council of The Bahamas Bar Association for its consideration," he said.

Minister Gibson has faced scathing criticisms in recent weeks from the Opposition Free National Movement over his decision to fast track Ms. Smith’s permanent residency application. The minister insists the process took three months, agreeing that this was "done very quickly."

But as he did in an earlier interview with the Bahama Journal, he also insisted that this was not the first time an application was processed in record time, as recently pointed out by former Free National Movement Cabinet Minister Dr. Earl Deveaux.

At the time, Dr. Deveaux charged that the processing of Ms. Smith’s application in just three months would set a "disturbing precedent".

But Minister Gibson again cited the case of Czech financier Viktor Kozeny, whose application was reportedly processed in about six weeks to two months.

He added that an application was approved for Derek Turner, the Bahamas-based international securities trader who was convicted last year of running a phony investment scheme in 42 days.

The minister further claimed that on April 9, 2002, a relative of a present sitting Member of Parliament applied for permanent residency status. The application was approved five days later on April 14, he said.

27 October 2006

October 27, 2006 | 3:49 PM Comments  {num} comments


Amnesty International Renews Call for The Bahamas to Abolish Corporal Punishment
Related to country: Bahamas

Amnesty Int’l Renews Call For Abolition Of Corporal Punishment:

By Candia Dames -
Nassau, Bahamas:

Amnesty International has renewed its call for The Bahamas to abolish corporal punishment, saying it opposes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of all prisoners without exception.

"What we’re asking certainly at this stage is that this sentence not be carried out," said R. E. Barnes, the international human rights group’s representative in The Bahamas.

He was referring to the recent decision by Justice Jon Isaacs who sentenced Alutus Newbold to 16 years in prison with four strokes of the rod when he enters prison and four upon his release.

Mr. Barnes said Wednesday; "We understand that there’s a period of about three weeks in which the prisoner has the right to appeal and we hope that is going forward and that the court will overturn the sentence in the legal system. Beyond that, we believe The Bahamas has to look at this sentence as a violation of Article 17 of the Constitution of The Bahamas which declares that no person shall be subjected to torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment."

He said The Bahamas would be in violation of international human rights laws if it were to administer flogging.

"So we find this a variation of the law here [and it’s] something that needs to be looked at very seriously for both its legality and moral usage," Mr. Barnes said.

Earlier this month, Justice Isaacs sentenced Newbold for burglary, attempted rape and causing harm, after an attack on an 83-year-old woman in her home in Cat Island in 2004.

"Corporal punishment is in direct contravention of Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states ‘no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,’" Amnesty said in a statement.

Amnesty International recommends that its partners take immediate action by sending appeals to Prime Minister Perry Christie and Attorney General Allyson Mayanrd-Gibson as quickly as possible expressing concern that Alutus Newbold has reportedly been ordered whipped with the rod, which would constitute torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and calling for this punishment to be dropped.

But Amnesty wants to make it clear that its opposition to the infliction of corporal punishment upon Newbold in no way implies a lack of sympathy for the victim of his crime or detraction from the seriousness of the crime.

In its release, Amnesty says that corporal punishment was abolished in 1984 in The Bahamas, but was reinstated in 1991 for specific offences. According to Bahamian law, sentences of flogging cannot exceed 24 strokes, while sentences of whipping are for a maximum of 12 strokes.

The Bahamas made a unilateral declaration against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment at the United Nations in September 1981.

The 1991 amendment to the law allowing corporal punishment seems contrary to this voluntary act, Amnesty International said.

Opposition to Justice Isaacs’ ruling has also come from other quarters.

On Monday night, Anglican Archbishop Drexel Gomez in his charge at the opening of the Anglican Synod also expressed alarm over the ruling.

He called for the country to abolish or discontinue the use of what he called cruel and inhuman forms of punishment, which had been formally outlawed by the 1963 constitution.

"Quite apart from the stated government policy of penal rehabilitation, it is simply unchristian for us to inflict any form of barbarity upon human beings," Archbishop Gomez said.

"Rehabilitation is the compassionate Christian response to the communal challenge on crime. The traditional secular over-emphasis of punishment has contributed to recidivism and the spiraling increase of violence in our community. We therefore call on all persons to exercise compassion and mercy even unto those whom we think are undeserving."

26 October 2006

October 26, 2006 | 12:38 PM Comments  {num} comments


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