People wait for the result outside the Scottish Parliament as voting in the referendum closes on September 18, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Scotland. Polls have now closed in the Scottish referendum and the United Kingdom await the results of this historic vote. With a substantial turnout at the polling stations the vote is too close to call and the result is expected in the early hours of Friday morning. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images The results of the Scottish independence referendum are in, and the answer is no. The referendum asked only a single question: Should Scotland become an independent country? Scottish voters have decided that it should not. With 26 of 32 voting districts reporting, both the BBC and the Guardian have predicted the referendum is set to lose by a comfortable margin. Although some votes have yet to be counted, Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister of Scotland, has conceded defeat, telling the Guardian that “there isn’t a yes vote tonight.” Heading into Thursday’s vote, the polls had too close to call. Most suggested a small edge for the “No” campaign, but by narrow enough margins — and with enough questions about whether the surveys were representative — that the world was left in doubt about what the final result would be. Now we know: Scotland will not become independent after all. Why Scotland rejected independence There are a few facts that are key to understanding the referendum’s failure. First, this is not a huge surprise. The pro-independence campaign has never been able to show that it had the support of a majority of Scots. Heading into the referendum campaign, independence trailed in the polls by more than a 20-point margin. Although it made up significant ground in the weeks preceding the vote,  a “yes” result was always going to be a long shot. Second, financial markets reacted negatively to polls showing the pro-independence campaign gaining ground, which may have spooked undecided voters. The value of the pound plummeted on September 8, after a Yougov poll showed a narrow margin in favor of independence. Stocks in Scottish companies also fell on that news, with the Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard Life, and the SSE utility company each falling more than 2 percent, and the Lloyds banking group falling more than 3 percent. That volatility may have convinced some voters that independence was too financially risky. The unsuccessful case for independence The independence referendum had its roots in political differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Scotland is more liberal than the relatively conservative, but wealthy and populous, south of England. Those differences have led Scottish leaders to push for more independence, in order to pursue a more liberal political agenda. But even though the independence referendum wasn’t about freeing Scotland from oppression, national pride still played a role in the campaign. The Yes campaign presented a vote for independence as a way to show pride in Scotland and belief in its ability to thrive on its own – a position whose sunny optimism continued to win over voters until the very last minute. Scottish tennis champion Andy Murray, for instance, tweeted Thursday that he had just voted for independence after becoming disenchanted with the “negativity” of the anti-independence campaign. However, promises by the leaders of the three major UK parties to grant Scotland greater autonomy in the event of a “no” vote — the so-called “devo-max” option — may also have persuaded some undecided voters that full independence wasn’t necessary. Right now, the Scottish parliament already has the right to set and administer Scottish policies in a number of areas, such as health care and education, but others are “reserved” to the UK parliament at Westminster. Under devo-max, the Scottish parliament would be given control over most of the reserved matters, with just a few exceptions, such as those that involve foreign policy or national defense. What will happen next Although the UK won’t lose Scotland entirely, that doesn’t mean that the status quo is going to prevail. The thorny question of how (or whether) to implement “devo-max” still remains. As Vox’s Matt Yglesias explained here, devolution is already a point of contention in UK politics, because England doesn’t have its own parliament, while Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland do. English policy is set by the UK-wide parliament at Westminster. That means that Scottish MPs get to vote on matters of English policy, but English MPs don’t get to vote on matters that have been devolved to Scotland. (This debate is known as the West Lothian question — named after an area of Scotland.) That system is generally seen as benefiting the Labour party. Unsurprisingly, that makes it particularly unpopular with the Conservatives. Already, some Conservative MPs have said that they would demand that the West Lothian question be resolved before further devolution is granted. David Nuttall, MP for Bury North, which is near Manchester in the North of England, told the Financial Times, “You cannot have devolution and then say Scottish MPs will still be voting on matters that do not affect Scotland. We will need to draw up new rules on this as part of the settlement. There is a group of us that will push for that.” Regardless of how the devo-max debate goes, however, there probably won’t be another independence vote. Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond has said that the vote was a “once in a lifetime” decision and that he would not pursue another one if independence failed to gain majority support.  Read More →
By Harold A Williams The Grand Bahama Sports Council joins with the Grand Bahama Basketball community in offering condolences on the passing of Keith R Mullings this past weekend. Grand Bahama has lost a sports legend and we will forever remember Keith “Seven Footer” Mullings and the game he loved. An avid athlete during his younger days, Keith contributed much to the game of basketball on Grand Bahama both at the local and national level. He was one of the pioneer players who helped to develop the YMCA basketball league while playing for the Citi Bank Chargers. Coached by the legendary Coach Gladstone “Moon” McPhee, Keith won several national and local awards including the Commonwealth Basketball League Most Valuable Player and several rebounding tittles which earned him the nick name “Seven Footer”. For his efforts and his extraordinary contribution to the game, Keith was recognized with induction in the class of 2005 into the prestigious Grand Bahama Sports Hall of Fame where his memories and his contributions to basketball will live on in the history books. On behalf of the Grand Bahama Sports Hall of Fame Committee I offer my sincere condolence to his wife Jan and their children, and to the country’s basketball family. The Grand Bahama Hall of Fame also extends condolences to the family and colleagues of Track and Field Coach, Dwayne Jennings, who also passed away last week. Coach Jennings was instrumental in having many youngsters gain educational opportunities through athletic scholarships to colleges and universities abroad. May their souls rest in peace.  Read More →
Standing from left: Gerald Rolle, Parliamentary Registration Department; Janet Russell, Port Department; Elkenny Lockhart, Retiree; Donna Bastian, Post Office; Sandra Smith RBPF; John Fraser, Grand Bahama Health Service; Lotoya Mcphee, Judical Department; Patrice Gibson, Department of Agriculture; Dorothy King Rolle, Immigration Department. FREEPORT, The Bahamas – The Northern Region Public Service Week Planning Committee, in celebration of the 15th Annual Public Service Week and Recognition of Retirees under the theme, “Charting the Course, Serving the Nation, Securing the Future” held a press conference at the Public Service offices, National Insurance Building, September 17. In observance of national Public Service Week, October 14-26, 2014, the Planning Committee announced that this year the over 25 years of dedicated service of 18 retired public officers will be celebrated. They also announced that on September 20, 2014 there will be a Fun Run/Walk & Health Screening. On Sunday, 28th September 2014 at 10:00am a Service of Thanksgiving, is planned for the Pro-Cathedral of Christ the King, and afterwards, an Appreciation Luncheon under the patronage of the Hon. D. Shane Gibson, Minister for Labour & National Insurance and the Ministry of the Public Service, in the National Insurance Building. Planning Committee members are seated from left: Patrice Johnson, Department of Social Services; Laurie Bullard, Ministry of Public Service; and Lady Naomi Wallace Whitfield, Ministry of the Public Service.  Read More →
Representatives from The Bahamas Gymnastics Federation are to take part in the Pan American Games being held in Toronto, Canada in 2015. It is the first time that The Bahamas has been invited in Gymnastics to the high-level regional competition and comes after Gymnastics was among the smaller Olympic sports in The Bahamas selected by The Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) to participate in the Pan American Sports Festival. BOC Secretary General Romell Knowles said that “the invitation to Pan Am Games for gymnastics is a dividend return from Bahamas Olympics’ decision to invest in some of the country’s smaller sporting Federations by sending them to the Pan American Sports Festival.” The Festival is a multi-sport event organized by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) for athletes from the Americas as a development and training event to aid countries with their preparations for the larger Games competitions. Part of the Bahamas Gymnastics squad who visited the Festival are pictured with BOC officials: from left are BOC Secretary General Romell Knowles, gymnast Simone Hall, gymnastics coach Trevor Ramsey, Bahamas Gymnastics Federation President Barbara Thompson and BOC President Wellington Miller. Not pictured is Gymnastics Federation delegate/coach Lavette Saunders who also travelled to the Festival. Among other smaller Bahamian sports Federations and Associations who were singled out for this type of advancement by the BOC were archery, handball, rowing, athletics, cycling, judo, basketball, soccer, volleyball, boxing, equestrian, bowling and swimming.  Read More →
Bahamian Volleyball players polishing skills under renowned Brazilian coach. Elite Bahamian volleyball players and national team members will benefit from a month of practice clinics under renowned Brazilian coach Augusto Sabbatini. Coach Sabbatini is in The Bahamas as a result of sponsorship by the International Volleyball Federation and NORCECA, the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation, through The Bahamas Olympic Committee. Coach Sabbatini praised The Bahamas Volleyball team and its “high quality players and high potential”. Bahamas Volleyball has had considerable regional success this year, with three team medals at various regional qualifying events. Volleyball Team Bahamas won gold in French St. Martin; Silver in Cuba and Bronze in Puerto Rico. The team also placed fifth at the Continental Championships in Canada. The team’s next outing will be at the Central American & Caribbean (CAC) Games in Veracruz, Mexico in November. Bahamas Volleyball Federation President Rev. Dr. Joe Smith noted that the Federation intended to divide Coach Sabbatini’s coaching time between New Providence and Grand Bahama and would invite coaches and players from Abaco to take part in the Grand Bahama sessions. Shown from left are BOC Secretary General Romell Knowles, Coach Sabbatini, BOC President Wellington Miller and Bahamas Volleyball Federation President Rev. Dr. Joseph Smith.  Read More →
New Opportunity for Students at COB in attaining higher education… Members of The College of The Bahamas, Central State University and Texas Southern University attended the signing ceremony. The College of The Bahamas has established formal relations with Central State University (CSU) which will permit capacity-development opportunities for faculty and staff, joint research projects and cross-cultural activities to strengthen faculty and student engagement. Leaders of the two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding recently at a ceremony held at The College’s Harry C. Moore Library and Information Centre. Established 127 years ago, CSU is Ohio’s only predominately African American public institution of higher education. President Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond welcomed the partnership with The College of The Bahamas. Acting President of The College of The Bahamas Dr. Earla Carey-Baines and Central State University President Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond sign the MOU. “We have longed for this day ever since we came here six weeks ago; we knew that we had the potential to have a partnership that’s meaningful for both institutions,” said Dr. Jackson-Hammond who characterized CSU as a transformational institution. “Everything we do, from the time that we wake up to the time we go to bed, is about transforming the lives of students because we know that if we transform the lives of students, we will transform the lives of families and their communities.” In February, CSU became a 1890-land grant institution, making it one of two institutions in the state of Ohio to receive an additional federal subvention of $1.3 million per year for the first five years and $2.6 million in subsequent years to promote science, technology, engineering, mathematics and agriculture. Acting President of The College of The Bahamas Dr. Earla Carey-Baines anticipates a rich and vibrant relationship between The College and CSU which are similar in key areas. Many years ago CSU transitioned from college status. It is also attempting to diversify its student population and the majority of those students are pursuing Business courses, much like at The College of The Bahamas. “We are 40 years old this year and we are extremely proud to be partnering with an historically black university that is as old and as prestigious as Central State University. We have much we can learn from each other,” said Dr. Carey-Baines. “We want our students to study at home, but we want to give them opportunities to study with and learn from others and we are certain that this partnership with CSU will help us to achieve that goal.” There will also be opportunities for CSU and other international students to study at The College and experience Bahamian culture once The College has expanded its residence halls at the Oakes Field and Northern Bahamas campuses, as is anticipated under a comprehensive ten-year Master Plan. “We expect to be able to offer CSU students space in our residence halls, even if only during the summer when they are available, so they will have opportunities to learn from and study with us here in The Bahamas and to experience some of our culture,” the Acting COB President said. Vice President of Advancement at The College Dr. Ian Strachan was also optimistic about opportunities to strengthen the partnership between the two institutions. He was particularly enthusiastic about learning of CSU’s community engagement undertaking. The College is seeking to develop a model called the University Zone in order to forge strategic relations with community leaders, social and civic organisations and governmental and non-governmental entities in the communities that border the Oakes Field Campus in order to enrich its research, service and outreach programme. “We would be interested in learning what types of outreach models are used by CSU that we could emulate here in this urban environment as we try to make sure we have a full impact, not only in terms of teaching and research, but in terms of service to our communities,” Dr. Strachan explained. The establishment of exchange programmes with other universities is a strategic priority for The College of The Bahamas – which is transitioning to university status – in order to increase the international exposure of its students and faculty as well as to build its international reputation.  Read More →
As a result of recent press reports that suggest possible ambiguity as to the VAT treatment of supplies of services made in the Port area between Grand Bahama Port Authority licensees within the backdrop of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, the Ministry of Finance has issued this response: “The Ministry of Finance wishes to reaffirm that the VAT Act that was recently passed by Parliament clearly sets out the VAT treatment of such supplies. Specifically, section 3.(3)(a) states that the VAT Act does not apply where: ‘a supply of goods within the Port Area is made by a taxable person who is a Port Licensee to another Port Licensee and the goods are of a kind and for a use within the customs duties exemptions in clause 2 of Hawksbill’,” said Bahamas Financial Secretary, John Rolle. “It is to be noted, in this context, that the VAT Act excludes the application of VAT specifically in the case of goods that are of a kind and for a use within the customs duties exemptions of Hawksbill, thereby explicitly excluding services from the non-application of VAT.” Mr. Rolle said that the Ministry of Finance recently issued a Guidance Note on VAT and the Hawksbill Creek Agreement. He said it provided further clarification on this matter. “In the section entitled ‘What if I provide services to another Port licensee, will they be subject to VAT?’ it is explained that: ‘Services provided by a Port licensee are subject to the general VAT rules and therefore services provided by one Port licensee to another Port licensee will be subject to VAT’,” said Mr. Rolle. “Of course, such transactions will be subject to the general exemptions of services, that are provided in the Second Schedule of the VAT Act.” Mr. Rolle said that examples of such exemptions relate to the provision of financial and insurance services.  Read More →
By Arthia Nixon for Bahamas Consul General’s Office of Atlanta Mrs Christie showed up at a surprise birthday party in Atlanta. The wife of the Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Perry Christie is shown here with friends Wanda Howard and Xernona Clayton. Alejandra Stack gets a hug from the birthday lady, Mrs. Christie. ATLANTA, Georgia – Bernadette Christie, First Lady of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas received “the shock of her life” when she was given a surprise pre-birthday party during her visit to Atlanta, Georgia. Under the guise of being a guest at a party for someone else, she and her sister Paula walked into the home of friend Denise Harrod, only to be greeted by staff of the Bahamas Consulate General’s Office and Bahamas Tourist Office singing “Happy Birthday Mrs. Christie”. The First Lady was led into a main area by friend, civil rights activist and broadcasting legend Xernona Clayton, where she found cakes honoring her. She also took time to greet Bahamian children whose parents are attached to the Consulate Office. After mixing and mingling, guests dined on a meal prepared by A Taste of Elegance’s Chef Maurice Randal, an Atlanta-based Grand Bahama native. “I was in on the surprise because we all love Mrs. Christie so much that it was easy to put it together,” revealed Xernona Clayton. “We wouldn’t dare miss it because we are so in love with her and what she represents. Everybody from the country is just so wonderful and so friendly and so inviting, that it’s a joy to have any excuse to get together. And it’s very special because it’s her birthday and I’m delighted to be here.” Bahamas Consul General Randy E. Rolle and First Lady Bernadette Christie. “How intriguing and delightful it is for us at The Bahamas Consulate in Atlanta to have [Mrs. Christie] visiting with us just moments before her birthday,” said Student & Cultural Affairs Officer Robert Pinder. “We thought it would be a momentous occasion to celebrate the First Lady’s birthday while she was visiting here in Atlanta. We are coming together to celebrate the wonderful legacy of our nation’s First Lady.” “It’s a pleasure on behalf of The Bahamas Tourist Office here in Atlanta to be here and celebrate our First Lady,” added Eddie Archer, General Manager of the Ministry of Tourism’s Atlanta Office. “We are enjoying ourselves truly with a Bahamian flavor. The food, drinks, music and dance… it’s a great feeling!” Said Deputy Consul General Monique Vanderpool: “Birthdays are so special and we just wanted to let our First Lady know how very special she is. We knew her birthday was coming up and we wanted to start the celebrations here to let her know how much we appreciate and love her.” Mrs Christie blows out her candles. Brenden and Brent Vanderpool, Jr wish Mrs. Christie happy birthday as Xernona Clayton and Wanda Thomas look on. vonne Turnquest, Danielle and Kelysta Anusiem and Deputy Consul Monique Vanderpool. Tourism Office General Manager Eddie Archer, Mr. Edward Hales and Consul General Randy E. Rolle.  Read More →
BP MORNING REPORT >>>> The rogue officers were both stations at the Arawak Cay Port Entry Station Both vehicles may have been stolen! Investigators are cracking down on rogue officers. The invoices were never submitted to Customs Evaluations Department BP investigators have learnt! Nassau, Bahamas — Two female Custom officers should find themselves on the wrong side of the law and out of a job after what some are calling ‘fraud’ while working for the government agency. Bahamas Press has the names of the two women, however, we will not identify them at this time. Both officers could be implicated following an investigation where Customs senior officers uncovered how the Bahamas Government had been defrauded of substantial amounts of funds from persons importing vehicles; but this is just the beginning of our report. Sometime last week the Customs Department seized two Mercedes vehicles – one a 2014 and the other a 2015 – both imported into the country at the same time via trailer. According to our investigations both women; working at the entry checking section of Customs, facilitated the clearance of the vehicles. But this was just the start of the crime. Documents shown to Bahamas Press confirms the women in clearing the vehicles [said to be owned by them]; allegedly drafted a fraudulent invoice claiming that each vehicle was purchased for two thousand dollars [$2,000]. And there’s more… While submitting a fraudulent invoice at entry checking; the rogue officers also failed to allow those entry forms to be checked by the Evaluations Department. What in the hell is this? ‘THIEFIN’ THE DAMN TAXPAYERS MONEY! What is even more interesting is the fact that while the officers lied on their entry forms, it is further being investigated with foreign authorities whether the vehicles were stolen, and if so, both officers would find themselves in deeper ‘DO-DOO’! Sources deep in the department believe the women are apart of an even bigger and wider ring of crooks working at the ports of the country. Bahamas Press believes both officers should be swiftly dealt with and made examples. You cannot have a government job – with many benefits – and yet still find ways to thief the people’s money! Along with the Mercedes Customs officials also confiscated a Ford truck. In it they found over 1000 rounds of live ammunition. Boy I tell ya – If ya don’t laugh you will cry. We report yinner decide!  Read More →
New Program to give young people a ‘second chance’ at Education… Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie. Christie Government set to leave no one behind in the area of Education… Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, the Hon. Philip Davis delivers remarks and introduces the Prime Minister during the launch of the Urban Renewal Commission’s General Education Diploma - GED- Programme. The event was held September 15 at Evangelistic Temple. NASSAU, The Bahamas – In a bid to provide a ‘second chance’ for some Bahamians, the Government has launched the Urban Renewal Commission’s General Education Diploma (GED) programme. Announcing the initiative on the evening of September 15 at Evangelistic Temple, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie recalled some of his personal challenges with education and encouraged the 75 diploma candidates ‘never to give up’ on themselves. The General Education Diploma will provide education and skills to those who for various reasons had not met standard expectations, and will provide a bridge to a better future. “Believe in yourself even when others give up on you,” said Mr. Christie. “Believe that you can do anything that you put your mind to and always remember that the nothing that is worthwhile in life ever comes easy.” Also in attendance was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, the Hon. Philip Davis, who told the participants that although the journey ahead might prove to be difficult at times, their focus should always be on the ‘end result.’ “Celebrate the gift of a second chance. It may not present itself again,” said Mr. Davis. “It is estimated that half of all welfare recipients do not possess a high school diploma, therefore, this is an excellent opportunity for those of you with children to be able to support them even better.” The GED program will span nine months’ duration, which is ‘a year’ on the academic calendar. The nine months are divided into three terms with the first com mencing September 22, 2014 and ending December 19, 2014. The second and third terms will begin January 2015 with an end to the academic year in June 2015. The first graduation is proposed for June 2015. Subjects will include: Mathematics; Language Arts; General Science; Biology; and Business studies which will incorporate Business Communication, Computers in Business (including Microsoft word, excel, access, and power point), and Entrepreneurial Skills. They will also learn how to develop small businesses and be exposed to courses such as: Principles of Business, Marketing and Accounting; Oral Communication; Civics; and Life Skills, with personal development.Vice-President of Administration at Atlantic Educational System Dr. Melony Thompson said the programme has been in existence since the year 2000 and has proven to be successful: “The success of our students is a testimony to the quality of this program,” said Dr. Thompson. “Colleges locally and internationally have accepted students from this program; Government departments and Ministries, and private organizations have honored students completing this programme and can attest to the quality.” Also in attendance was Co-Chair of the Urban Renewal Commission, Mrs. Cynthia Pratt.  Read More →
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