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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) at e-mail exclusively for Bermuda Online
See end of this file for all of our many History files
August 22. In the 1980s, when Tom Butterfield was an ad hoc member of the Bermuda Heritage Advisory Committee, he put together two small, separate exhibitions during Heritage Month. Held under the auspices of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, key elements of each were a painting by US artists Andrew Wyeth, and a pencil drawing by Georgia O'Keeffe, which thousands of locals and visitors flocked to see.Seeing this response, Mr. Butterfield wondered how many more Bermuda paintings by well-known overseas artists were out there in the world. He also realised the importance of a 1979 Act of Parliament waiving duty on paintings done before 1970 — a huge "plus" in repatriating Bermuda art. In 1987, he approached the then-Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs, Robert Barritt, with the concept of forming the 'Masterworks Heritage Fund' to repatriate such art, and received the Minister's blessing. "He encouraged our independence, but we had to look at money-saving ways to make the scheme work, so the 1979 Act was of huge benefit." director Mr. Butterfield remembers. He also brought to the Minister's attention the issue of a ten percent Government tariff on the purchase of foreign currency, which was also waived. The final hurdle was the cost of insurance, for which Colonial Insurance became — and remains — a willing corporate sponsor. Thus, was the way was paved for the founding of Masterworks in 1987 — the same year in which the first 12 paintings, including a pencil drawing by George Ault, were purchased and repatriated. Exhibitions were held wherever anyone was willing to lend wall space. The first significant exhibition took place in 1994 at the Windjammer Gallery, with others following wherever "homes" could be maintained, including the Crisson & Hind Gallery, 41 Front Street (above Smith's), and Bermuda House Lane. At one stage, it also shared space at the Bermuda National Gallery. Meanwhile, a variety of educational and other programmes were created and nurtured, and as exhibitions of art created by established, budding and visiting artists were often packed to overflowing on opening nights. Among the most notable was a joint exhibition by then-Premier Jennifer Smith and Lady Waddington, wife of then-Governor Lord Waddington, the opening of which was attended by record crowds. For approximately nine years, openings of the popular 'Artists Up Front... Street' series, featuring the work of young and budding artists, were Friday night fixtures on the social calendar. They still are — in the renamed 'Artist in the Garden' programme in the Botanical Gardens, which are held in conjunction with live music aimed at attracting a wider audience to the world of art. Meanwhile, the Bermudiana Collection has continued to grow, but without a proper facility in which to display it, the Foundation elected to take it overseas. For the past eight years, the travelling exhibition has been seen in Britain, the US and Canada, and now awaits its home in the new Museum. Today, there are over 1000 pieces in the Collection, including three Homers, the first of which arrived in 1992. No finite number has been set for future purchases, not least because artists will never stop visiting Bermuda to make art. The Artist-in-Residence programme, begun in Dockyard in 1997 to bring overseas artists to the Island for inspiration and the introduction of fresh ideas, continues today at its new location at 'Buckingham' in St. George's. During their stay, artists conduct workshops, and end their stay with an exhibition of their work. 1997 also saw the beginning of a working partnership with the Bank of Butterfield, which includes the popular Artfest in the Garden (formerly known as the Festival by the Sea, along Front Street). This event gives the public an opportunity to enjoy an open air art exhibition with entertainment and refreshments in a safe environment, as artists of all ages and levels of ability display their work, and participate for Quick Art and People's Choice awards. From the beginning, art education has been a key component in the growth of Masterworks. Despite having no permanent home, one of its earliest projects was 'Artists' Encounters' — art classes for children conducted by well-known local artists such as Bruce Stuart and Chesley Trott — at the former Admiralty House in Spanish Point. Another was the summer programme, 'Art on the Gogh', with children being bussed around the Island to create art en plein air. Today, Masterworks' juvenile art classes are oversubscribed months in advance, with plans afoot to expand them once the new museum, with a special classroom, is opened next year. 2002 marked the final move to the 35-acre Botanical Gardens, where the Foundation is now headquartered in the historic, 19th Century Arrowroot Factory, to which the new state-of-the-art museum is being added. Thanks to then-Premier Jennifer Smith, the Government graciously granted Masterworks a 21-year plus 21-year lease for a peppercorn rent of $1 per year. From 2003 HRH the Prince of Wales, a keen watercolorist, has honored the registered charity with his patronage — something he does only when he can maintain an active interest — and he also wrote the forward to the Bermudiana Collection travelling exhibition catalogue. Just as there is no limit to the imagination and drive of the Masterworks Foundation, of which the above are only some of the highlights in its 20-year history, so too is the public's support and belief in its aims and objectives — and indeed its passion for the upcoming museum. "People understand what we are doing. They are attached to the concept and want to be part of it," Mrs. Outerbridge, assistant to the director, says.
August 22. A new, purpose-built museum, the 1000-strong Bermudiana Collection of repatriated Bermuda art by such internationally artists as Winslow Homer, Georgia O'Keefe, Albert Gleizes and George Ault; the Eliot O'Hara Collection; established programmes such as 'Artists in the Gardens' and artist-in-residence; calendars; the hogge and onion projects, a CD; the beautiful 'The Masterworks Bermudiana Collection' book by Patricia Calnan; special edition china; capital projects and imaginative fund-raisers, and even a commemorative wine label.These are just some of the many highlights in the proud, 20-year history of the Masterworks Foundation — and certainly cause for celebration, for what started out as nothing more than a concept in director Tom Butterfield's head has now become a Royally-recognized entity which has successfully raised millions of dollars to repatriate and acquire its still-growing collection of Bermuda-related art for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Public appreciation of the Foundation's aims and objectives, however, took time, as Mr. Butterfield admits. "Twenty years ago when we repatriated our first 12 works and put them on a wall, questions were asked, so we had to set about encouraging the general public's participation. You can't just hang a painting on a wall and hope that people will come. You have to generate some enthusiasm and interest in the process," he says. Thus began what could be termed 'a voyage of limitless imagination' to do just that, and today the director believes the mission has been successful, with turnout at exhibitions, workshops and more, as well as financial backing and support, showing no signs of slowing down, and increasingly reflecting a complete cross section of the community. "Through the art, and the understanding of our environment, we are able to open different receptors a little bit better, and be more welcoming to others, and at the same time be better world travelers when visiting other cultures. It is a wonderful symbiosis," Mr. Butterfield says. As with any art collection, the Foundation has always faced the issue of quantity versus quality with every purchase it has made, but the director credits his mother with steering him right at the outset. "In 1987 we had a choice. We had borrowed some money to acquire either one of Georgia O'Keefe's pieces, or 12 works by mostly known artists which covered a fuller spectrum — oils, watercolour, pencil drawings — spanning 70 years of artists who had visited Bermuda," Mr. Butterfield recalls. "I was wrestling with the idea of buying one piece by a well known individual and hanging my reputation on that, but my mother said, 'You have to have a broader impression'. It was good advice." And also fortuitous, for among those 12 works was a pencil drawing by George Ault. Last year, thanks to a generous Bermudian donor, the Foundation was able to purchase the large oil painting for which the sketch was made. "However, the painting is not just a large oil. It is also the finest example of Precisionist of Bermuda available that we will ever be able to find. It is a true masterpiece," Mr. Butterfield says. Art finds its way into the Masterworks Foundation Collection via several routes, all of it vetted by a Collections committee, which then makes recommendations to the Board. The routes include: a gift from an estate; individual donation; group donation; gift of the artist, particularly an artist-in-residence; matching donations, where the Foundation raises half the cost and the artist donates the other half; donated gifts of collections. Of the latter, Mr. Butterfield mentions the Eliot O'Hara Trust which so approved of what the Foundation was doing that in 1990 its trustees decided the organisation was the correct repository for seven of the artist's ten Bermuda paintings. Like all registered charities, funding for everything from administration, to maintenance, building and purchases of art is an ever-present concern, and while Masterworks has done well to go beyond merely staying afloat to make its dream reality, fund-raising in today's world is a constant challenge — particularly in a small island like Bermuda, where competition for the donor dollar is getting stiffer, and capital campaigns are on the increase. No longer can an organisation afford to be complacent, or assume that the one-time donor will become a "regular". Some, of course, will question the importance of supporting art versus a multitude of worthy health and social causes, and even among art supporters there are those who prefer donating to bricks and mortar rather than to art itself. "It is important to understand, and what is somewhat misunderstood by many of us, including myself until recently, is that the Museum has had four to five campaigns going simultaneously, and we have to accept that the individual has the opportunity to choose the campaign to which he or she wants to donate: Is it education? Bricks and mortar? The collection? Administration? A new campaign? These are all facets required to run a museum, but it is the individual who decides to which area he or she is most comfortable making a donation." Certainly, no one could accuse the Foundation, and particularly Mr. Butterfield, of a lack of imagination, initiative or entrepreneurship in devising new ways to attract present and future donors to its cause. Everything from gala dinners to the director personally running first marathons and now cycling thousands of sponsored miles, have become part of the yearly calendar. Special events which had modest beginnings, like Art in the Gardens (formerly Artists Up... Front Street) have blossomed. Exhibitions, competitions, art camps, workshops, auctions, including the hugely popular hand-decorated fiberglass hogges and Bermuda onions, calendars, 'Art Smart'- a book for schools — and cruises are just a few of the fun ways participants of all ages and from all walks of life have contributed financially and benefited educationally. Then there are the corporate sponsors, like the Bank of Butterfield, with whom the Foundation has joined forces on various art-related projects, and whose support has been consistent and invaluable. Making all of this tick, of course, involves a great deal of unglamorous backroom work performed by a dedicated and loyal staff (Elizabeth Walker-Sobhani, Yvona Vujacic, Kate Waters, Barbara Imboden, Judy Howells, Julie Butler and Carrie Zenti) who have also "caught the vision", and for whom Mr. Butterfield and assistant to the director Elise Outerbridge, who first joined Masterworks as a volunteer in 1987 before signing on permanently in 1990, have the highest praise. From its initial, nomadic existence to its permanent home in the Botanical Gardens, Masterworks has hewn an inspiring path through dogged persistence, patience and passion against sometimes difficult odds and the inevitable naysayers, which is why there is such joy surrounding the 20-year milestone. "Make no mistake, it has taken a lot of hard work, and a lot of ridicule, but despite the criticism and being called 'neophytes', the most gratifying thing is that we have stuck to our mission and our guns," Mrs. Outerbridge says. "Believing so strongly that what we are doing will eventually be a legacy for all of Bermuda is what allows us to continue." Of course, the 'Big Present' marking two decades of progress will be the opening next March of the Museum of Bermuda Art, a purpose-built gallery adjoining the present space in the historic old Arrowroot Factory. Designed by The Studio, it is being constructed to the highest standards, with special, state-of-the-art lighting, temperature control and storage facilities. The building will also include a members' lounge, classroom, bathrooms, a kitchen, library and more. It will also incorporate a large, preserved former water tank whose graceful internal arches are an intriguing feature, and which will doubtless be the scene of interesting uses and events. "Whether you have a museum, a gallery or a theatre, you are in the hospitality business," Mr. Butterfield says. "Some have a high-end accent, while others are to enthrall. Our ambition for the new museum is to be all of that. We will have some unbelievable exhibitions, and continue our 'Art in the Gardens' series in the Richard Faries Gallery." Asked what he felt were the Foundation's most outstanding achievements in a long history of experiment, innovation and success, the director did not hesitate. "The willingness to risk, and the sense that future generations will have something to look forward to, that they can identify with and inherit. That refreshes the spirit."
August 22. International business chiefs have said "punitive legislation" mooted by Government is not the way to achieve the desired promotion of black Bermudian executives.The Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC) was responding to Monday's announcement that Government may impose fines and create an enforcement agency to educate international companies that do not promote black Bermudians to top jobs. The move will transform the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality (CURE) from a policy-making entity to one with powers of enforcement, in the light of statistics showing black people are still a minority in executive positions — down from 29 percent to 27 percent last year. ABIC Vice Chairman Harry Wilken said: "We understand and support the CURE's aims and the objective of workplace equality, and strongly believe that the promotion of Bermudians is in the best interest of Bermuda business. However, our preference is not for a legislated or punitive approach, but a solution where Government and employers partner to deliver improvements that are measurable and maintain the competitiveness of the workforce and business." Announcing the plans, Minister for Community and Cultural Affairs Wayne Perinchief claimed: "I believe there's an element of racism in the maintenance of the white male in middle and upper management." However, Mr. Wilken said ABIC, along with other employer organizations, has been working with the Ministry of Community Affairs and technical officers at CURE to better understand the existing and potential middle and senior management pool in Bermuda. "Our members act properly and aggressively to train and promote Bermudians, and as an organisation, we operate the largest university scholarship programme in Bermuda," he said. "A critical element in converting the CURE agenda into tangible results is to have a sustained flow of adequately educated and trained Bermudians available for middle and top management jobs across all industry sectors." However, he claimed ABICs efforts are "hamstrung by a lack of clear data," explaining: "It is impossible to identify existing and potential pools of qualified employees — and to properly measure progress in hiring particular groups — without having meaningful data. Workplace surveys conducted by CURE do not include information on educational levels attained. The prevailing success rate in education is also such a serious challenge that all parties must continue to work to establish effective programmes that will best serve Bermuda's interests. ABIC and its fellow employer organizations continue to believe that CURE's desired outcome will not be achieved through punitive legislation." Mr. Perinchief said the legislation had been drawn up after consultation with major employer bodies, that racial quotas have been ruled out and it is not intended to be punitive. He told this newspaper: "We can no longer leave the issue of imbalance and under-representation of blacks in the workplace to good will." Currently employers of more than ten people fill out an annual survey on the racial, gender and nationality breakdown of their workforce, detailing the salary and promotion hierarchy. If companies were doing badly they might get interviewed by the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality (CURE), said the Minister, but only if the company agreed. Under the new law, affecting companies with 40 or more employees, bosses will have to root out areas which could have contributed to institutionalized racism and put forward programmes to iron out disparities. Companies will not be sanctioned if their demographics stay the same, but failure to prove they have changed their human resource policies could lead to fines or even a board of enquiry. CURE will make recommendations to companies having no success in changing their hiring and firing culture and the new policy will be policed by a team of compliance officers who will also educate companies on improving employment practice. Mr. Perinchief also said Government is helping companies by putting a graduate registry online to make them aware of qualified Bermudians about to enter the job market.
August 22. Insurance companies are likely to face claims of between $750 million and $1.5 billion as a result of damage caused by Hurricane Dean in the Caribbean and Mexico.As the storm moved across the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and quickly lost power, being downgraded from a category 5 hurricane to a category 2 within 12 hours of striking land, analysts were beginning to predict lower insured loss figures than had at first been proposed. A slight shift in the direction of the powerful storm meant it avoided a direct hit on Jamaica and spared the Cayman Islands. It then hit the Yucatan Peninsula in a less densely populated area, steering away from the tourist destinations of Cancun and Cozumel. On Sunday, California-based extreme risk modeler EQECAT estimated damage in the Lesser Antilles islands and Jamaica to be between $1.5bn and $3bn. However, more recent estimates reflecting the fact the hurricane missed directly hitting heavily populated places, are lower. Boston-based catastrophe modeler AIR Worldwide said it did not expect insured losses for Jamaica to be any more than $1.5m as the most destructive part of the storm, the eye of the hurricane, had spared Jamaica's capital Kingston. Late yesterday AIR estimated that insured losses in Mexico would not exceed $400m. According to catastrophe risk management company Risk Management Solutions, the likely range of insured losses is between $750m and $1.5bn. Of this, only up to $300m is expected to be from damage to the Mexican coast, with most of the remainder resulting from the storm's destruction in Jamaica, according to a PR Newswire report. "Dean has taken an extraordinarily fortunate track, slipping between St Lucia and Martinique and striking a scarcely populated area of the Mexican coast. Given its intensity, the Caribbean and Windward Islands have faired relatively well," said Dr. Claire Souch, senior director of model management at RMS. The first category 5 storm since 2005 was packing winds of 160 miles per hour as it struck the southeastern Yucatan Peninsular coast in a relatively sparsely populated area. If Hurricane Dean had come ashore 150 miles further north it could have been a different story as it would have hit the tourist cities of Cancun and Cozumel and likely caused three times the amount of damage to insured property. "Though Jamaica has taken a large hit, the track for a category 5 storm could hardly have been better planned to minimize the damage," said Dr. Souch. "Dean's impact in Mexico will be similar to Hurricane Emily's in 2005, which was a category 4 storm and caused around $250m of insured loss. If Dean had made landfall in the north of the Yucatan Peninsular coast, we could have been looking at a near repeat of Hurricane Wilma, which devastated the area and resulted in insured losses of some $1.8 billion." Bermuda insurer Hiscox said this week that the storm should not cost the firm too much, providing it steers clear of Florida and oil production areas in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Dean has remained a fairly small, although fast-moving storm. It originated as a vigorous tropical wave off Africa's west coast on August 11. The storm is expected to continue decreasing in intensity as it crosses the Yucatan Peninsula it will decrease in intensity, but will likely maintain a category 1 to 2 hurricane status before emerging into the Bay of Campeche where it is not expected to cause much damage, despite being the location of much of Mexico's oil production.
August 22. Parliamentary Registry staff have seen an upsurge of older people signing up to vote for the first time, leading to probes on whether they are genuine new cases or Bermudians living abroad wanting to cheat the system.Strict voting laws bar people from voting if they have lived away for more than six months. Parliamentary Registrar Randy Scott said staff had dealt with more than 100 people of all races in their 50s and beyond wanting to register for the first time in the last year. He said: "Our antennae go up when we see a first-time application to register from a person in their twilight years. We wonder whether this person has been away for a long time and has decided to come home to vote. "However, it's hard — it's nice if people are getting excited who have never participated before. We are seeing quite a bit of it. We are hoping it's because they are reconnecting with the process." Mr. Scott said checks were made to see voters were still resident or just flying in. "We receive emails from people who want to come home and vote and they have lived abroad for 20 years. We try to correct the register as much as we are able to where people no longer live here but they have a Bermudian connection but they are no longer entitled to vote. We have seen things like that up 100 percent. It's hard to prove unless a person just walks and then we would ask them questions. Over the past year, there's numerous cases like that. It's nothing unmanageable." Shadow Attorney General John Barritt said Bermuda's strict laws barring votes from those who had spent a relatively short time away needed to be changed. British voters can be gone for up to 15 years before they lose the right to vote back home in UK national elections and European Union elections. Mr. Barritt said the six month limit was far too short and was one of several aspects of electoral law which needs to modernized. "What about people on work secondment — why should they be deprived of their right to vote because work requires they have to be away for longer than six months a year?" The United Bermuda Party want to introduce absentee ballots to allow all registered voters to vote if they are off the Island at the time of an election or the day of the advance poll — which is just a week or so before the election.
August 22. An American doctor has been appointed chief of staff to Bermuda Hospitals Board.Donald Thomas III will be chief medical advisor to the board and will be responsible for physician relations, reporting to CEO David Hill. He arrives on an initial one-year contract and will be expected to pave the way for a Bermudian to take over the position in the long-term. The role has been performed in recent months by local physicians on a rotation basis. His appointment is in keeping with the trend of BHB recruiting from overseas as it tackles challenges including the rebuilding of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Englishman Mr. Hill was brought in last year from the James Paget Healthcare Trust in Norfolk, UK; American consultants Kurron were drafted as support for management three months ago; Johns Hopkins Medicine International, of Baltimore, was asked to carry out a review of the Island's healthcare needs earlier this year; and specialist overseas doctors are due in Bermuda as part of a link-up with three American hospitals. Dr. Thomas, who has more than three decades' experience as a healthcare practitioner, was picked with the backing of Bermuda's physician community, according to BHB chairman Herman Tucker. "The board is extremely pleased to appoint Dr. Thomas to this critical medical leadership position," said Mr. Tucker. "Dr. Thomas will be responsible for BHB and private physicians who work at the hospitals, and therefore have a vital role in the quality of patient care in both hospitals. He will be a valued medical leader and an extremely well qualified mentor for a Bermudian to train under." A statement from BHB said Dr. Thomas would be required to establish fair and consistent policies and processes. His 12-month contract contains a clause to extend his tenure, if required. Dr. Thomas joins BHB from Greeley Company, a consulting, training and education company advising healthcare organizations. BHB says he will have the backing of the company's international resources in his new job. He was previously CEO and chief medical officer for Mentat Systems Inc. and also worked with Wellspring Partners, the Los Angeles County Health Department among other health organizations. Mr. Hill said: "We welcome Dr. Thomas to BHB. This is a critical position for the hospital in its drive to deliver consistent, quality patient care to the Bermuda community." Wesley Miller, chairman of the Active Staff Committee, a group of leading physicians at the hospitals, said: "We believe Dr. Thomas' appointment will provide us with strong and consistent leadership within the physician group." Health Minister Michael Scott said: "Dr. Thomas brings a wealth of experience from highly respected healthcare institutions and this bodes well for the patients and staff of our hospitals."
August 22. A cruise ship headed for Bermuda played the good Samaritan by offering assistance to a stranded vessel on the weekend. The Empress of the Seas, departing from Philadelphia, was 200 miles east of Cape Henry, Virginia, exactly halfway to Bermuda, when a boat came into sight around 10.30 a.m. on Sunday morning. The vessel, Cindy, had just one person on board who refused assistance. The man was headed to the Azores and had nothing on board to alert anyone that he was in danger. The cruise ship put an alert on the boat just in case he ran into more trouble and continued to Bermuda early that afternoon.
August 22. A man originally accused of the manslaughter of the two sons of a retired Bermuda Police officer and teacher will now stand trial on a double murder charge.Yuri Fidel Agard is accused of deliberately slaughtering Justin and William Greene outside a Barbados nightclub in March last year after prosecutors decided to upgrade the charges against him. A preliminary hearing on the case will be heard on Monday, September 3 in District A Magistrates' Court in Bridgetown, followed by a trial before a Supreme Court jury. The Greene brothers — whose parents are former Bermuda Police narcotics officer Detective Constable Ronald Greene and CedarBridge Academy teacher Margo Greene — died from stab wounds after a dispute with a group of men in the early hours of March 26, 2006. Agard, of Hutson Alley, Reed Street, St. Michael, Barbados, was charged with the manslaughter of Justin, 21, and William, 25, two days later. The accused was 18 at the time. Five other men — Jody Omar Farnum, Kelvin A. Squires, Chad Carlton Worrell, Jason Stevenson Hurley and Jamal Marlow Mayers — were charged with violent disorder in connection with the incident and are understood to be awaiting trial. The Greene brothers lived in St. Joseph's parish in Barbados and are believed to have spent some of their childhood in Bermuda. Det. Con. Greene and Ms Greene divorced in 1992. Station Sergeant David Welch, from the Royal Barbados Police Force, told The Royal Gazette: "Yuri Agard's charges for the deaths of brothers Justin and William Greene have been upgraded...(to) one count of murder for each of the victims." He said the decision to amend the charges was taken by the office of the director of public prosecutions.
August 22. Customers are set to enjoy a whole new experience and level of service when Esso City, in the centre of Hamilton's financial district, reopens its doors to the public next Monday.There will be wireless Internet access for laptop computer users, a mighty selection of 30 types of coffees, an expanded ready to eat food selection, additional seating and fuel discounts for Taxi Association members. The gas station at the junction of Par-La-Ville Road, Church Street and Richmond Road, closed about seven weeks ago after Esso decided not to renew the former dealer's contract. But now the Tigermarket store and station under its new dealers Craig and Antoinette Cannonier is looking forward to a bright future. Mr. and Mrs. Cannonier were approached by Esso a month ago to take over the station and get it back up and running. The Cannoniers are also the business owners of the Esso gas station on South Road near Collector's Hill, where they have been in charge for the past four and a half years. Esso are also putting an emphasis on training and retraining new and existing staff in the day-to-day running of the station, including food preparation and cooking.
August 22. Premier Ewart Brown yesterday personally congratulated scores of volunteers who are the driving force behind a scheme to transform Bermudian lives.Making the statement at yesterday's open house event for the Mirrors Programme, which centres on youth intervention for at risk young people, Dr. Brown spotlighted how it can procure change on Bermudian lives. And Dr. Brown said that the only way the current adversities affecting those youth between the ages of 18 to 24, is to change perceptions. Dr. Brown stated: "Many years ago while in the United States, I witnessed something called Uncommon Results. I watched dedicated people, much like ourselves, transform misguided lives into hopeful vessels of opportunities. From the first moment I saw Uncommon Results in action I knew it was exactly the tonic needed for the ills affecting Bermuda's youth. It took a decade, but today, Uncommon Results is here. There's a new name for it. Mirrors, as we've titled it, will transform Bermudian lives so that all of our citizens can enjoy an unimpeded pursuit of success and happiness." Speaking to The Royal Gazette, Dr. Brown said that some young people are simply not able to manage their circumstances effectively. He elaborated: "What some youngsters are able to swim through, others get stuck in. And when they get off-track, there must be forthcoming help from the community. And, this programme is an example of the community coming to the aid of its least able members." During the past few weeks, the media, this paper included, has reported on the widely perceived disconnect the Island's youth has with the ruling PLP Government, especially since Dr. Brown came to power. Not so, responded the Premier, who described the recent coverage by the media, as merely someone's attempt at swaying public opinion on his personality. "I think that's apart of an orchestrated attempt to indicate that there's no interest or support from young people," he explained. "I think it's far from true, especially by the number of young people here in this room today. Everywhere I go I meet and talk with young people and they don't seem to be disaffected to me. There are some, but they're in the distinct minority and for those that feel otherwise, that's what makes a democracy." Dr. Brown concurred with the criticism by the Progressive Minds group the youth wing of the PLP — that questioned the motivations of scores of young people, almost entirely from private schools that held a demonstration on Parliament a few months ago. Some counter-protestors from the Progressive Minds were at the march on Parliament and were heard questioning the expressive pupils on where they were getting their information. "I think a lot of those people came there as a result of listening to people, who had already made up their minds about the Government," Dr. Brown articulated. "When I see some consistency from a group, then I pay more attention to them." The Premier, under the Ministry of Social Rehabilitation, spearheaded the scheme in 2007 and when functional, it will be an intensive programme for youth believed to be falling through the cracks. The goal of Mirrors is to develop human potential by assisting participants to better understand themselves. Giving youth a new context in which to mould their lives is the grand idea, according to the Ministry. Comprised of 182 professional volunteers and at least 116 referred young people, the Mirrors Programme will be delivered in two phases. The first phase, is a six to nine day residential programme. It will provide a challenging intensive course, where those enlisted must confront the choices they have made. Additionally, it will highlight the consequences of those choices and how they have limited the possibilities available to them in the process of making them. The second phase of the scheme is to be implemented in the community over a period of 12 months. In this phase the participants must implement changes to their lives, such as potential recognition. Nataki Smith, 31, an educator by profession, was one of the trained volunteers present at yesterday's official unveiling of the programme, which saw a ten-minute video presentation on the US version of it. "The reason I volunteered for this opportunity is to help youth at risk, get their life on track, regain self-esteem and find out from them what they want to get out of life," Ms Smith said. "Since I work in the education system and I see lots of troubled youths, I thought it would be a good experience to transition to the next level. By troubled youths, I mean some that have behavioral problems, emotional problems, as well as those that come from dysfunctional families." In Bermuda, one cannot talk about the depressing plight of youth, without pointing the blame finger. However, Ms Smith admitted that no one in particular is to blame for the current inclinations. "I don't think that you can blame one particular person," she added. "I think that everyone as a whole has a part in contributing to the way in which a person feels. From family members, parents, community members, teachers and peers — these are all influential elements that we must consider." Also present at yesterday's gathering at the Ace Ltd. Headquarters on Woodbourne Avenue, was Acting Minister for Social Rehabilitation, Dennis Lister, representing the off-Island Minister Dale Butler. Mr. Lister described the Ministry's scope as comprehensive and has the goal of improving the lives of all Bermuda residents from their first breath to their last.
August 22. Crime Stoppers is pulling out all the stops in preparation for the Island's first crime fighting conference.Delegates from around the world will descend on Bermuda from November 4 to 8 to discuss 'Global issues, community solutions'. Organisers on the Island have now moved into high gear ready to welcome the 500-strong international delegation. The 28th Annual Crime Stoppers International Training Conference will feature notable delegates such as Lord Michael Ashcroft, KCMG — the man who founded Crime Stoppers UK in 1988, and Sir Ronnie Flanagan, GBE MA — the former Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (now the Police Service of Northern Ireland). Also in attendance at the Southampton Fairmont event will be representatives from Interpol, the United Nations and New Scotland Yard. Joanne MacPhee, Crime Stoppers chairwoman and deputy conference chair, said: "The only other country to ever host this prestigious event outside of the US and Canada was Australia, so we have very big shoes to fill. "We have four days of training scheduled, but in true Bermuda fashion we have also set aside time for our guests to enjoy all the beauty and hospitality our Island home has to offer. Residents should be very proud of the fact that this tiny Island is going to host some of the world's most pre-eminent authorities on crime detection and prevention. Crime is a huge social issue affecting all of us, and aptly enough our conference theme is Global issues, community solutions." Organisers are now hoping to bring the Department of Tourism on board to assist in funding for the event. US retail giant Target is one of the sponsors, together with the Bermuda Police Service. Target is also sending three representatives from its Assets Protection team, while director Tony Heredia will be a Fraud and Theft panelist. The committee has invited Bermuda-born motivational speaker Dennis Rahiim Watson as a guest speaker. Mr. Watson is much sought after in the US and was recently commended by Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for winning the 'Youth Leadership Award' from the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Mr. Watson's presentation will be 'Winning strategies for combating crime in our community'.
August 22. Guests will be able to stay at the $70 million dollar Tucker's Point Hotel next year.The resort plans to have a "soft opening" with guest rooms available as soon as October 2008, however the official opening will not be until April 2009. Yesterday, the Premier, Minister of Works and Engineering and Minister of Environment got a sneak peak of the luxury on offer when a model guest room was unveiled. The president of Tucker's Point Club, Ed Trippe, said: "The hotel will recreate the romance of early 20th century travel for the 21st century through its inspired design, superior services and distinctive amenities. "It brings back a time when guests did not check in, rather, they arrived, by horse-drawn carriage from the ferry dock, accompanied by steamer trunks filled with formal gowns and white dinner jackets. At the same time, today's guests will find every modern comfort here, including the most sophisticated technology, which will be discreetly tucked away to preserve the ambience." At a cost of more than $800,000 per room Tucker's Point Hotel is Bermuda's first luxury hotel to be built in more than 35 years. Situated on 200 acres of waterfront land the high end resort will boast a spa, croquet lawn, two pools with private pool side cabanas and a variety of dining options. The 88 guestrooms range in size from 520-square-foot to 1,800-square-foot, while the Governor's Suite is 2,300-square-foot. The resort will be decorated in a classic British style and General Manager Alan Paris said he wanted guests to feel as though they were staying at a manor house. Each room has a spacious balcony with a view of Castle Harbour, a flat screen panel TV, Wi-fi, fireplace, wet bar and walk in closets. They also have a luxury five-fixture bathroom with a stand alone deep bathtub. The rooms also come with amenities such as portable phones and I-pod/Mp3 docks and 24-hour room service. Premier Ewart Brown, who is also the Tourism Minister, took a tour of the model room and commended the group on the plush interior and added that they were the first to realize that Bermuda needs a high-end hotel to offer tourists. Along with the amenities at the hotel guests will be able to use the facilities at the Tucker's Point Golf, Beach and Tennis Club. The Tucker's Point Club which includes the golf and tennis facilities, fractional residential units and hotel have been popular with customers. Its Ship's Hill Town Homes, Estate Homes and Waterfront Homes, which range in price from $1.98 million to $4.6 million, have already sold out. While 95 percent of its Golf Villas have also been sold. The hotel will be affiliated with the Preferred Hotel Group, an exclusive marketer of independently owned and operated hotels around the world. To view the model guest room go to the Gazette Video link at www.theroyalgazette.com.
August 22. A Republican candidate for the 2008 US Presidential election met with Premier Ewart Brown during a visit to Bermuda yesterday.Arizona Senator John McCain is on vacation and staying with friend Gregory Slayton, the US Consul. According to Mr. Slayton, the politician's interest in Bermuda was sparked by his meeting with former Premier Alex Scott during his official visit to Washington DC in 2006. "Senator McCain is fascinated by the growth of Bermuda. He and his wife Cindy are meeting with the Premier and the Governor and leaders of business. It's very much a vacation for them, a few days of rest. Bermuda is a very, very successful country and leaders from the US are very interested in finding out more about the country. I'm honored to have them," said Mr. Slayton. Senator McCain suffered a setback in his campaign to reach the White House earlier this summer when two top aides on his team quit. "He has been trailing in polls to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The son and grandson of US Navy admirals, John McCain spent six years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam and retired as a Captain before first being elected to Congress in 1982.
August 22. A Bermudian drug trafficker who was given a probation order here five years ago after admitting importing $1.7 million worth of cocaine, heroin and ecstasy could be facing a life sentence in the States.Anthony Quinton Beach pleaded guilty last Friday in Georgia to three counts of conspiracy to possess drugs with intent to supply. He can expect to get at least ten years in prison when he is sentenced in November but may be jailed for life for the most serious offence involving crack cocaine. He is understood to be in custody in Union City, Georgia. Beach, from Devonshire, walked out of Supreme Court in Bermuda in September 2002 with a two-year probation order despite pleading guilty to importing $1.7 million of drugs to the Island the previous March. A change in the law here meant he could not be sentenced for the entire stash of drugs because they were intercepted and substituted for smaller amounts before they got here by US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in New York. The 45-year-old, himself a crack cocaine and heroin addict, was also given an 18-month jail term already served on remand. He took an overdose the day after the sentence, was found in an incoherent state in his car and later returned to court for breaching his probation order and taking illegal drugs. The charges he admitted in the US last week relate to at least 500 grams of cocaine, 100 grams of heroin and 50 grams of crack which he intended to distribute in the northern district of Georgia and elsewhere between November 1997 and March 2001. The latter charge carries a minimum ten-year jail term and a maximum sentence of life. Eight other allegations will be dismissed when he is sentenced by Judge Richard Story in the US District Court in Atlanta in the autumn. DEA agents arrested Beach, 45, last September as he tried to return to Bermuda from Jamaica via Miami. He had been thrown out of Jamaica for overstaying his visa and was wanted in the US for drugs offences. The Jamaica Observer reported that he was originally indicted in America in February 2003 but fled to the Caribbean island in July 2006 after failing to attend a court hearing. The newspaper said he was wanted by the US for allegedly operating a drug smuggling ring between Atlanta, Georgia, Bermuda and Jamaica. Beach, previously of Ariel View Road, Devonshire, gave Jamaican Police his address as Alexandra Road in the same parish and told them he was a painter and decorator. Back in 2001, the father-of-five was accused by Bermudian prosecutors of 20 counts of importing, handling and possessing heroin. He eventually pleaded guilty to importation of cocaine, heroin and ecstasy. Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons said he could not be sentenced for bringing $1.7 million worth of drugs to the Island, since it was DEA agents who brought most of the narcotics in after a sting operation. They intercepted the drugs Beach intended to be sent here in golf bags and replaced them with smaller controlled samples. Ms Justice Simmons sentenced Beach for importing just 6.95 grams of cocaine. A bid by the Crown to seize almost $350,000 worth of his assets had earlier failed in the Supreme Court. The same judge said prosecutors failed to prove his assets were derived from drug trafficking. The court heard that Beach had been sending money out of the country to the mothers of his children in the US and Jamaica and that he had given around $10,000 to his father to take care of bills.
August 23. Auditor General Larry Dennis was interviewed again by Police yesterday in connection with their probe into missing Police documents relating to the Bermuda Housing Corporation corruption investigation.Mr. Dennis had his Police bail extended and will return to Hamilton Police Station on October 12. He refused to comment about the matter yesterday. He was arrested in June for alleged possession of stolen documents and not revealing his source but was released uncharged after officers had raided both his home and office. Media reports based on the missing documents had claimed Premier Ewart Brown and members of the Government had been investigated over alleged corruption at the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC). Sources later claimed Mr. Dennis had been authorised by former Police Commissioner Jonathan Smith to hold those documents and that a member of the Auditor General's staff worked side-by-side with Police for most of the inquiry in what was labeled as the largest ever investigation into the disappearance of public funds. Two other men were also arrested in the early stages of the Police probe into the missing BHC documents but neither were charged. Mr. Dennis — who heads the Government's fiscal watchdog — has continually called for more legislative protection for whistleblowers as he has hit out at the number of frauds and misappropriations that were detected in recent years in Government entities. In the legal wrangle over the media's publication of the file's contents, Chief Justice Richard Ground said it was unclear whether the documents had been stolen or whether they had simply been copied and distributed to the media. In October the Privy Council will decide whether to uphold or overturn a press gag preventing further revelations from the files.
August 23. Police uncovered a stash of Molotov cocktails, swords, machetes as well as black clothing and bandanas in two incidents, it emerged today. The discoveries were made in the central parishes - the Police declined to say where - two Sundays ago but were made public today as officers warned of a rise in the number of bladed weapons being used in violent incidents. They were stashed in two locations and were found after a member of the public told Police they had seen two armed men. It is not clear if the armed men sightings are related to the uncovering of the weapons stash. Officers say one person has been arrested in connection with the incidents - where machetes, swords, metal pipes, petrol bombs and metal rebars were found - and inquiries are continuing. The findings were revealed at a news conference today where Police put on show some of the bladed weapons they have seized in the past. Officers say the use of bladed weapons is on the rise in Bermuda. Sergeant Alex Rollin also said that often Police arriving at the scene are finding suspects still carrying weapons or discovering that suspects have tried to hide them nearby. Sgt. Rollin said: "The public are reminded that recent amendments to section 315 of the Criminal Code now give the Police and the courts new powers when it comes to dealing with weapons offences. The public were also reminded, especially those travelling, for while certain items may be legal and easily acquired in other countries, many are prohibited in Bermuda. These include flick knives, brass knuckles, crossbows, slingshots and blowguns."
August 23. An opposing claim about the impact of Government's work-permit policy, its effect on international companies and knock-on consequences for Bermudian jobs, has been made by Labour Minister Derrick Burgess.He refutes a suggestion by business leader David Ezekiel that companies are looking to set up offices overseas to outsource work because of difficulties related to the six-year work term limit for ex-pats which, as an unforeseen consequence, will lead to administrative and processing jobs normally done by Bermudians also shifting to these new locations. Minister Burgess yesterday said he has no evidence of that happening and no-one has approached him or his Ministry with such concerns. Bizarrely the Labour Minister and Mr. Ezekiel, who is chairman of the Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC), have not spoken to one another since The Royal Gazette broke the original story on August 9. Using unequivocal language, Mr. Burgess dismissed the ABIC leader's concerns as being without evidence but also revealed he had not felt it necessary to call Mr. Ezekiel during the past two weeks to speak about the matter. "I feel that people will be confused due to misinformation, as subjective and uninformed statements lead to anxiety and uncertainty in the minds of those affected by the term limits policy," said Mr. Burgess. "I am not aware of any company that has experienced significant difficulty since the term limits policy was introduced." He said Government recognized that nothing must be done to jeopardize the continuing success of business in Bermuda. Mr. Ezekiel, who is currently in the UK, has warned that Bermuda-based international companies seeking to outsource jobs overseas that were previously filled by ex-pats on the limited work permits will end up also taking jobs usually filled here by Bermudians — such as cashiers and processing — overseas because of the economic logic. He said his own company International Advisory Services, the largest captive management firm on the Island, was already looking to outsource because of difficulties having to constantly replace work permit staff, and added: "We are not the only ones. Everyone is." But Mr. Burgess said there was no evidence. The Royal Gazette asked the Labour Minister if he had spoken to Mr. Ezekiel about his comments. He replied: "No" Royal Gazette then asked: "So how can you be sure what he has said isn't what's happening?" Mr. Burgess: "We are in charge. We know what is happening. And if Mr. Ezekiel had a concern like that, with all the communications and dialogue that we have I would have thought he would have called us." Royal Gazette: "He represents such a large body of companies, that is significant." Mr. Burgess: "We represent the entire Bermuda, everyone." Royal Gazette: "Haven't you contacted him?" Mr. Burgess: "Why should I? Mr. Ezekiel has my phone number, he has my permanent secretary's number. If he has got concerns he can call us. We have said to him and anyone who meets us — we are not off limits to anyone. Easy access." Royal Gazette: "I find it surprising that he has not contacted you and you have not contacted him." Mr. Burgess: "There's no need for me to contact him. If anyone has a concern or problem, call us. I do not take my agenda from the newspaper as far as calling anyone, because if they had concerns they would have called us." A representative of ABIC said it was considering Mr. Burgess statement but did not expect to issue a response until sometime next week.
August 23. Bermuda's six-year work permit term policy can be altered if it starts to cause a problem for domestic and international companies, but there is no evidence at present that it needs to be changed. That was Labour and Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess' message to the business community as he responded to a story in the Royal Gazette two weeks ago in which David Ezekiel, chairman of the Association of Bermuda International Companies, warned of unforeseen consequences of the policy that would impact Bermudian jobs. Mr. Ezekiel said his own company, International Advisory Services, which is the largest captive management firm in Bermuda, was already looking at outsourcing jobs overseas that were previously done by ex-pats because of difficulties caused by having to find new staff when an ex-pat's work permit expired. "We are not the only ones. Everyone is," said Mr. Ezekiel. He said a consequence would be that as work permit jobs relocate overseas so would administrative, cashier and processing jobs normally done by Bermudians, because of economics. "Industry jobs that would be filled by locals will be exported in the future," he warned. But Mr. Burgess said yesterday he had seen no evidence of this and had heard nothing from companies or individuals to substantiate what the ABIC chairman claimed. Mr. Burgess also said that he and Mr. Ezekiel have not been in contact since the story was published on August 9, but that if Mr. Ezekiel had some genuine concerns he would have expected him to call. He said: "This policy has not caused anyone any problems. If you manage it right you will succeed. No-one who has come to the Ministry for extensions has been denied. There is no way this Government will tell a company that if they can't find a Bermudian, but so-and-so has to go, that's not common sense." Mr. Ezekiel said his company was looking to outsource, but Mr. Burgess responded: "No evidence is provided to support this claim." He went on: "Just last week I met with the heads of two reinsurance companies based in Bermuda. They shared with me the tremendous successes that they have enjoyed since setting up shop in Bermuda, one making the observation that his company's growth in terms of employee numbers and revenue greatly exceeded expectations. Neither questioned the term limits policy, although they emphasized the need for quicker and more efficient processing of work permits." The Labour Minister said the delays in work permits being processed was being sorted out. "We have made ourselves available, we have told companies and the head of ABIC, if you are experiencing any undue delay call me directly, call the permanent secretary directly. We won't allow a company to have a person on standby, and they may lose them because of us not processing the work permit fast enough. We realize we have some problems with efficiency and we are working on that." He added: "No one has been penalized because of the delay. We have made the necessary ad Because you did not get your exemptions or your waiver say by June and your seven years is up in July, we are not saying that you've got to go. We have made the allowances for that." Mr. Burgess said Government had worked with the business community to identify "key persons" within organizations that would qualify for exemptions to the term limits, and these went beyond chief executive officers and other senior managers. "They can be technical, professional, clerical or service as well as managerial staff. It is up to the employer to make the case to the Minister," he said. The work permit limits regime is policy, not law. Therefore, the Government is able to modify the policy as required in order to ensure there is no negative outcomes for any principal segment of the community." Mr. Burgess said it was accepted that, on occasion, some businesses would decide to outsource beyond Bermuda's shores, but he added: "It is our submission that decisions to outsource to locations outside of Bermuda - on the rare occasions that they occur - are based upon fiscal prudence and the wish for improved organizational and operational efficiency, not Government's work permit term limits policy." Asked about apparent anecdotal evidence of companies outsourcing as a result of term limit difficulties, the Labour Minister said he had no evidence and therefore no reason to investigate such claims. Mr. Ezekiel was in the UK this week. A representative of ABIC said the organisation, which represents more than 400 international businesses with a physical presence in Bermuda, would be considering Mr. Burgess' statement and expected to make a reply next week.
August 23. The sub prime mortgage crisis could trigger more claims on Directors and Officers policies, according to one of the world's largest insurance brokers.D&O policies protect executives and members of a company's board from liability in the event of a lawsuit against them claiming wrongdoing connected to their business, with the coverage usually paying for the cost of defending lawsuits after a deductible and a portion of any settlement. Insurers including Bermuda's XL Capital, offer such policies and slightly different coverage known as errors and omissions (E&O). Marsh & McLennan warned that higher interest rates and falling property prices contributing to rising delinquencies on sub prime mortgages offered to less creditworthy borrowers allied with an increased relaxation of underwriting standards has resulted in bankruptcy of more than 50 mortgage lenders, the collapse of hedge funds, increased regulatory scrutiny and ratings downgrades. The problems have also increased fears about the potentially large exposure insurance companies and pension funds may have to large securities backed by sub prime mortgages, such as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and collaterised loan obligations (CLOs), the insurance broker added. And they reckon a raft of litigation could arise from these issues with mortgage lenders able to file lawsuits against banks after being forced into bankruptcy when they were asked to buy back loans. These suits could claim that the banks imposed improper margin calls and valued the lender's underlying collateral incorrectly, said Marsh. Equally shareholders may sue sub prime lenders that have gone bankrupt, claiming that the companies, their accountants, trustees and underwriters, misrepresented or omitted details when accounting for residuals, while large insurance claims on failed sub prime collateral could spark lawsuits from bond insurers claiming the originators of the mortgages underwrote the loans poorly, they went on to say. "Although the D&O and E&O insurance market has been largely stable, if there are a high number of costly claims under these insurance policies, this trend may reverse and costs may begin to rise," said Jill Sulkes, a managing director in Marsh's Financial Institutions Practice. XL declined to comment on the subject.
August 23. Former Progressive Labour Party MP El James will run again in the coming election in Warwick North Central after being praised as "Cabinet material" by Premier Ewart Brown.Mr. James, 58, did one term as Dr. Brown's running mate in Warwick West and then retired in 2003. Amid rumors that Mr. James would be fast tracked to the top upon his return, Premier Brown told The Royal Gazette: "I don't have a job in mind — we will cross that bridge when we come to it. But of course I consider him Cabinet material. He has the ability, the time, the energy and the experience." The seat is currently held by George Scott who has been moved by party bosses to the neighboring virtually no-hope UBP seat of Warwick West. Premier Brown denied the PLP's Warwick North Central seat was now vulnerable and said Mr. Scott had been moved from the seat because "we thought he could win a seat somewhere else". But he declined to explain why late PLP leader Fredrick Wade's widow Ianthia had been dumped by party bosses after originally getting the backing of Warwick West branch members in the opening round of the selection merry-go-round. Mr. James was elected alongside Dr. Brown in Warwick West at the 1998 election which was fought under the old dual-MP system. But he languished on the backbenches and was a vocal critic of then Premier Jennifer Smith. Mr. James was also known to be opposed to the Register of Interests which lists MPs financial assets and he stood down after just one term four years ago. Yesterday he told a press conference he had never stopped working for the area since retiring from Parliament. He said: "I have assisted people with housing, assisted young men with getting employment and we have had a few enter rehabilitation." Mr. James, who will defend a 134-vote majority against United Bermuda Party candidate Wayne Scott, said voters on the doorstep had voiced most concern over the education system. They backed Purvis Primary but they had worries over the middle and senior schools, said Mr. James. "Being a product of Purvis myself I share their belief as well as their concern." But he said Government was tackling the education system which he said was the only true way to empower people of all colours and would reduce other social problems such as crime, drugs and unemployment. A former international cricketer, Mr. James said he was already working on a plan to revive community spirit including a car care workshop planned next month. "This will be especially designed for women. It will give participants a chance to learn how to change the oil, change the tyres and wiper blades etc." Other events planned include cast net throwing, plant propagation, a block party and Christmas cooking workshops. Premier Brown said he came to view Mr. James as the unofficial mayor of Warwick after the two were paired together in Warwick West in 1998. "He would take me to places in Warwick West that I didn't know existed. This man knows Warwick and Warwick knows this man and I have no doubt he comes back into politics with the life and energy that only he can muster." One PLP insider said Premier Brown wanted to bring in allies to promote to Cabinet. The source said: "Right now he is Premier and running three ministries — Transport, Tourism and, effectively, Health. "Whoever he has must be 190 percent loyal to him. He doesn't want to find himself out-voted in Cabinet on anything he does." As a golfing buddy of the Premier and successful entrepreneur, Mr. James, is seen as a more comfortable fit in the Brown government than current MP George Scott who, although quiet in Parliament just as Mr. James was, created waves when he got involved in an ugly spat on a worksite with Canadian construction worker Curtis Macleod. Mr. Macleod lost his work permit as a result — only for the Supreme Court to overturn Government's decision.
August 23. More than 100 people last night packed out the first meeting of a pressure group fighting a new housing law which penalizes Bermudians married to foreigners.Couples of a variety of ages, politicians and lawyers were among those formulating a plan to protest at the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2007, which became law in June. They are angry that the law means Islanders and their expatriate spouses must obtain permission to buy property and can only own one home if the foreign partner does not have Bermudian status. A committee was formed last night, with group leaders proposing a meeting with Labour and Immigration Minister Derrick Burgess to air their concerns. Those present also discussed how they could go about challenging the law. Ronnie Viera, who is married to a Canadian, organized last night's get-together at the Chamber of Commerce. "Most people didn't even know that this law had passed," Mr. Viera told the meeting. "Those that knew they were affected — nobody was doing anything about it. Not being one of those people who could afford to do that, I wanted to get a group together. There was no public consultation with this. It was slipped through the House and it affects a broad cross-section of the community." After Mr. Viera threw the floor open to questions and discussions, numerous people told how the law affected them and offered their own suggestions for the way forward. Lawyer Saul Froomkin said Government could not be criticised for attempting to crack down on the practice of fronting, in which non-Bermudians gain property or land, using Bermudians as a front. However, he argued: "They have taken a nuclear bomb to destroy an outhouse." One woman drew laughs from the crowd by observing: "It looks as if Bermudians should not get married. Have children out of wedlock and go and buy as many homes as you want." Another woman, who said she was getting married soon, said: "If I get married, I lose my house." One woman suggested: "Can we not look at this from a human rights perspective?" But a quick reply was called out from the back of the room: "No, because we don't have any human rights in Bermuda." When the hour-long meeting finished, Mr. Viera said he was delighted with the way it had gone. "It was very, very good," he told The Royal Gazette. "It shows how much it's affecting people by the various questions that were asked. "The suggestion to approach the Ministry is a good one. It's one I always had in mind anyway. It's not in our interest to butt heads."
August 23. The Ministry of Education last night dismissed claims new appointments could push its media team's combined salary to around $250,000 taxpayers' money. Acting Permanent Secretary Ellen-Kate Horton said new Communications Consultant Scott Simmons would only be in the job until December 31, during which time he would be paid about $30,000.Ms Horton also rejected media reports which suggested Mr. Simmons and Communications Officer Carla Zuill would soon be joined full-time on the Ministry's press desk by a third PR officer. She said Mr. Simmons was merely "filling an immediate gap" caused by the resignation of PR officer Gary Moreno earlier this month. On Tuesday night, Mr. Moreno now a ZBM news reporter filed a report saying the combined salaries of Ms Zuill, Mr. Simmons and his own replacement, currently being recruited, would be around $225,000 to $250,000. Ms Horton replied in a statement last night: "Mr. Simmons is working on a contractual basis for the Ministry from the period August 20 to December 31, 2007. The cost of his services will be around $30,000, not between $80,000 and $102,000 as speculated by the media." Mr. Simmons is being paid at that same rate which a communications officer who serves and ministry is paid. Thus, claims that this Ministry is paying between $225,000 and $250,000 for its communications are erroneous and mischievous." Last night, Bermuda Union of Teachers general secretary Mike Charles questioned why more than one press officer was needed in the Ministry in any case, saying the money would be better spent on increasing the number of teachers. Mr. Charles said: "If you are looking to spend on education, I would like it spent on education." I feel if you are going to spend the money, it could be spent on the students, on getting resources for the students in the form of teachers or supplies. It could be money that could be spent on something much more important for Bermuda's children. We need lots of music teachers." Regarding Mr. Simmons, Mr. Charles said: "It doesn't affect education in any way. He's come in as a PR person. I thought they already had one in Carla Zuill. It begs the question: why another one? Maybe the Ministry is using them for different purposes." I know Ms Zuill works closely in the Ministry itself. I don't know what Mr. Simmons is going to add. "Responding, Ms Horton said Mr. Simmons would be primarily responsible for handling all communications pertaining to the Hopkins Report." In light of the staff shortages at the Department of Communication and Information with the recent resignation of public affairs officer Gary Moreno, it would be extremely difficult for Ms Zuill to properly service the Ministry's over 10,000 stakeholders," she said." As a result of DCI currently undergoing a staff shortage, resources are stretched in light of existing officers already managing several ministries each under their portfolios." Education Minister Randolph Horton also responded to claims from the Opposition that three people in the communications team seemed to be excessive and that former Progressive Labour Party spokesman Mr. Simmons was a political appointment." We are not being excessive at all," said Mr. Horton. "The Department of Communications and Information is stretched and our existing officer cannot do it all by herself. Mr. Simmons' appointment is not a political one."
August 23. Former Bermuda prosecutor Lloyd Rayney is not a suspect in the murder of his estranged wife, according to reports in Australia.Newspapers in Perth — where mother-of-two Corryn Rayney was slaughtered earlier this month after failing to return home from a line dancing class — say detectives hunting her killer have ruled out her husband. Detective Senior Sergeant Jack Lee told media gathered outside the property that the search was a "process of elimination" and a normal line of inquiry. "Mr. Rayney has fully cooperated with the Police in this investigation," he said. "I wish to emphasize Mr. Rayney is not a suspect and any further speculation regarding his involvement in this offence may be detrimental to this investigation." Mr. Rayney worked as a senior crown counsel in Bermuda's Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for just over a year from 2003 to 2004. His wife, a registrar in the West Australian Supreme Court with whom he has two young daughters, was here for part of his stay. Her body was found in a grave in Perth's Kings Park on August 16, nine days after she went missing. Mr. Rayney told reporters in the city yesterday he "welcomed" the Police search. "All I really want is to put out the same message that the police and Corryn's family have been for a long time, that is, if anyone has any information, could they please come forward, anything that might be helpful," he said. Press reports down under say the couple were estranged but still lived together. Mr. Rayney, described as a top Perth lawyer, is said to have been minding the children while his wife was at the dance class. Perth Police Commissioner Karl told a press conference that the killer was "probably some sort of person who's known to Mrs. Rayney, but that's all I am prepared to say at this time".
August 23. US Republican Presidential candidate John McCain has pledged to protect Bermuda's international businesses if he is successful in his White House bid. The Arizona Senator, who spent three days on the Island this week meeting business and political leaders, said he understood the concerns of the insurance and reinsurance sectors about draft legislation proposing a clampdown on US business operations in so-called tax havens.He told The Royal Gazette: "The industry, the re-insurance that's had such phenomenal success has been good for both nations. I would oppose any measures that would upset that." He also pledged to back Bermuda as a tourist destination, describing the warm welcome the Island extends to thousands of US visitors each year as "frankly, the greatest aspect of Bermuda-US relations." Earlier this year, Premier Ewart Brown and Premier Paula Cox discussed the tax haven legislation in Washington with influential Democrat politician, Congressman Charles Rangel, chairman of the powerful financial House Ways and Means Committee. He told the Government delegation that Bermuda was not on the list of jurisdictions that could suffer from the proposed clampdown on offshore US business operations. The views of Republican presidential candidate Senator McCain are sure to provide further re-assurance to Bermuda's business leaders. Senator McCain arrived on the Island on Monday, having had his interest in Bermuda sparked by talks with former Premier Alex Scott during the latter's official visit to Washington DC in 2006. He and wife Cindy stayed with family friend Gregory Slayton, US Consul to Bermuda, at Mr. Slayton's official residence. During the trip, he met with Premier Ewart Brown, Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley and former Premier Sir John Swan. He also had talks with business leaders Brian Duperreault; chairman of the Bank of Butterfield, Ralph Richardson; executive director of the ACE Foundation, Philip Butterfield; Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Bermuda, and Endurance Specialty Holdings CEO Kenneth LeStrange. "Our conversation was about the war in Iraq, about the economy, taxes and what we might expect and strong economic bonds between Bermuda and the US. Also, the good news about the increase in airlines," said Senator McCain. A former Naval aviator, he spent plenty of time at sea during his trip, enjoying a sight-seeing tour hosted by prominent Bermudian lawyer Justin Williams on his 43-foot motor yacht Justified. Speaking as he prepared to fly home yesterday, Senator McCain said: "We've had a wonderful trip, and will come back as soon as we can." Reflecting on the trip, Mr. Slayton said: "Senator McCain has a real deep understanding of Bermuda and all the success Bermuda has — its commitment to free trade and the rule of law and democracy." Senator McCain suffered a setback in his campaign to reach the White House earlier this summer when two top aides on his team quit. He has been trailing in polls to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
August 23. Public school teachers will today learn what pay rise they are to get after two years without an increase.The decision by an arbitration panel called in to resolve a long-running dispute between Bermuda Union of Teachers (BUT) and the Ministry of Education will be revealed this morning. Teachers are asked to attend the Berkeley Institute at 11 a.m. to find out if they will receive the 4.5 percent rise for two years that union leaders claim they were promised. Pay talks broke down earlier this year when the BUT rejected a final offer from government for 4.5 percent for the first year and four percent for the second. Union president Lisa Trott told The Royal Gazette last night: "We have received our (pay) award and teachers will be told what it is tomorrow." She said the meeting would be closed but the union would release the panel's decision immediately afterwards. Lawyer Larry Scott, who chaired the tribunal panel, said: "I have submitted my report to the Minister and it is now up to the Minister to do with the report as he wishes. I wouldn't comment on the contents of it. My panel has signed off and the Minister has the document in his possession." Mr. Scott said the panel's decision was binding as both parties had agreed to the arbitration. The Ministry of Education did not respond to a request for information by press time last night.
August 23. Bermuda Red Cross is reaching out to aid Hurricane Dean victims by launching an appeal for donations while the Salvation Army has plans to repair buildings in Kingston.Ann Spencer-Arscott, director of the Red Cross, said the appeal was launched yesterday. She said they sent the information to all the media and advised the banks. Mrs. Spencer-Arscott explained how appeals normally work. "Generally with appeals, we tend to keep them open for up to three months. But it depends on the severity of the disaster and numbers of people affected and length of time." She said the Tsunami appeal was open for a year but the normal time is three to six months. The director said an appeal is launched when a disaster hits close to home. "We are so fortunate to have a very generous community who want to help our sister societies and islands", she said. When asked what she would say to encourage people to donate, Mrs. Spencer-Arscott said: "It's always nice to know that if we were ever hit by a devastating hurricane or other natural disaster, there would be people who could offer assistance to us. Like the saying goes, what goes around comes around. The homes and structures in those countries that were affected aren't built like ours. So if we lose part of our roofs, it's one thing. But for some of them, they lose their homes. The sooner people donate, the sooner they can get the money out and the sooner people can be helped." Major Doug Lewis of the Salvation Army explained his group will be sending a work team between eight and ten to Kingston, Jamaica. The team will be repairing the children's village orphanage and a school for the blind. Major Lewis said the Salvation Army in Jamaica is presently serving 500 meals a day at the shelter and have also handed out food packages to over 1000 people so far. They are working with the office of disaster preparedness and emergency management in Jamaica. He said: "We're committed to sending a team to help look after the facilities in the children's village and school for the blind". Major Lewis said if people want to help, the best way is to give financial donations so they can purchase goods in Jamaica. He also said the response has been positive from the public. "People have already responded even though we haven't started publicly. We certainly want to help out and we're going to do what we can to alleviate whatever the need is." The team will leave sometime next week. The plan is to stay for two weeks depending on how much they are able to accomplish. Donations for the Red Cross can be deposited into Bank of Bermuda account number 010-18747-011, Bank of NT Butterfield account number 20-006-060-663859-200 or Capital G Bank account number 35760. Donations can also be mailed to: Bermuda Red Cross Hurricane Dean Appeal Fund Charleswood 9 Berry Hill Road Paget DV 03. Salvation Army donations can be mailed to: Salvation Army PO Box 2259 Hamilton, HMJX. Hurricane Dean left Jamaica and headed straight for Mexico. With top winds of 100 mph, Dean's centre hit the tourism and fishing town of Tecolutla shortly after civil defence workers loaded the last evacuees onto army trucks headed to inland shelters. But there was no escaping the sprawling storm's hurricane-force winds, which lashed at least 60 miles, of the Vera Cruz coast.
August 23. The imposing black vessel in the harbour just finished an 11,500 mile voyage to save marine wildlife around the world.The Farley Mowat's voyage began in Melbourne with stops at Pitcairn Island and the Galapagos before travelling through the Panama Canal before arriving in Bermuda on August 18. The ship is owned by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) and run by a dedicated and friendly crew of environmentalists. The SSCS was started in 1979 by Paul Watson, who was one of the co-founders of Greenpeace, and now holds the position of Captain on the Society's vessels. This month it is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Since then it has completed 160 voyages and sunk eight whaling ships. And they have managed to do all this without harming anyone. The SSCS is known for its stance of taking action against people breaking international conservation laws, instead of bearing witness to animal slaughters like other environmental groups. It has made international headlines for ramming into whaling vessels in the Antarctic, blocking ships from harming seals off of Canada and destroying long line fishing equipment off of Galapagos Islands — among other things. And the ship itself means business. Painted an intimidating black and flying a flag which looks eerily like the Jolly Roger the Farley Mowat has a steel reinforced hull and water cannons pointing off its bow and the aft helicopter pad. While at sea the ship's crew has also been known to erect a seven-foot long "can opener" off its bow out of steal beams. Capt. Watson said: "I know that Sea Shepherd is sometimes called radical although we are actually a very conservative organisation. We are not a protest group. We intervene against illegal activities. Presently we are in a working partnership with the Ecuadorian National Police and the Galapagos National Park. Last month we arrested a dozen shark fin smugglers, exposed the names and connections of the shark fin mafia in Ecuador and seized more than 40,000 illegal shark fins." The Farley Mowat is currently berthed in Hamilton Harbour while it awaits a place in Dockyard. While it is here it will prepare for campaigns in the North Atlantic to oppose illegal bottom trawling in the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap and to intervene against the Canadian seal hunt. Capt. Watson said he was glad to be back on the Island: " We have been visiting Bermuda since March 1979 when our first ship Sea Shepherd departed from Bermuda to hunt down the pirate whaling ship Sierra. Our ship Whales Forever stopped in Bermuda in 1994 and this ship the Farley Mowat was last in Bermuda in December 2004 and again in May and June 2005." The organisation is based in Washington and does not spend any money on fundraising, instead it relies on donations. Some of its celebrity supporters include Pierce Brosnan and Christian Bale. The ship will be in Bermuda until February, anyone interested in donating money, time or equipment to the Farley Mowat should visit the website seashepherd.org.
August 24. National footballer Shaki Crockwell, 25, was shot in the back of the neck on the Railway Trail in Devonshire. He was wearing a protective vest at the time. He left behind two young children.
August 24. A prestigious conference of senior legal figures hosted in Bermuda provided food for thought as the Island strives to improve its justice system, said the local judge who organized it.The Regional and Gender Conference of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association (CMJA) attracted 167 delegates from 33 Commonwealth nations. Among the topics on the agenda for the three-day event were equality and the courts, gender and human rights and family and gender-based violence. It was organized by Bermuda's Puisne Judge Norma Wade-Miller, who is Regional Vice-President of the CMJA, and hosted by Chief Justice Richard Ground. Speaking as the event at the Fairmont Southampton resort wrapped up earlier this week, Mrs. Justice Wade-Miller told The Royal Gazette: "Bermuda is a prosperous, vibrant economy, with a strong legal presence. Yet we too have our well-advertised problems. Our system of justice is in need of improvement in many areas, and the country has its own dark sides, just as do all other countries represented here this week. This conference... provides much food for thought to us as well, as we seek to improve our own legal processes and face up to areas in which we too might be deficient in the areas of equality and gender." Mrs. Justice Wade-Miller said topics relevant to Bermuda discussed at length in the international context included outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation — the topic of an ongoing campaign on the Island. The Bermudian delegation, she said, learned more about the ways other countries have handled this issue. "The conference has shown that the issues of equality and gender are hugely important in different ways to the countries represented here. In advanced democracies with strong economies we have learned the importance of ensuring that legal processes are structured to ensure fairness in situations where there is a risk of discrimination on grounds of gender, culture, disability, sexual orientation or age. In nations emerging from conflict, we have learned that legal systems have to create structures which modify cultural customs which are often contrary to international conventions on human rights," she said. At the start of the conference on Monday, Attorney General Philip Perinchief announced that legislation to outlaw discrimination against women is set to be tabled in the next session of Parliament. He is working on Bermuda signing up to the principles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Adopted in 1979 by the UN, it is described as an international bill of rights for women, defining what constitutes discrimination against them and setting up an agenda for national action to end it. CEDAW defines discrimination against women as encompassing the political, economic, social and cultural realms. By accepting the convention, states commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including abolishing discriminatory laws and adopting new ones prohibiting discrimination against women. The convention also provides for tribunals to be established to ensure the effective protection of women against gender-based discrimination. Mrs. Justice Wade-Miller said of the news: "Until I see the details I can't really comment fully, but any discrimination against women or any entity should be looked at and the legislators should tackle it."
August 24. The Governor says he provides a "steady heartbeat" for our Constitution, but it must have been racing when he saw the state of his car this week.This was the scene after Sir John Vereker's Rover 75 collided with a wall after heavy rain on Wednesday. If the Governor has been accused of stonewalling on certain controversial issues, then this picture would certainly seem to provide evidence. The crash happened at 11.30 a.m. as the Governor's driver was travelling with Kevin De Silva, aide-de-camp to Sir John. He said: "The car slid out on the wet surface on the corner nearing Devonshire Dock. Responding to the slide, the driver corrected the spin, yet was unable to keep the car from hitting the wall." The Rover is a four-year-old "runabout" — one of two official cars belonging to Government House. "We are still awaiting estimates of the damage from the insurance company," said Capt. De Silva. He added that no one was hurt and there were no other vehicles involved. The Governor has spoken of his role in ensuring stability in Bermuda. At the Queen's Birthday Parade in June, Sir John said he aimed to provide "a steady heartbeat for the Constitution, a heartbeat unperturbed by short-term politics, a heartbeat that provides an assurance of stability and integrity in an uncertain world". Unfortunately this Bermuda Stone wall proved not so stable.
August 24. Only one of four beaches that are usually monitored by lifeguards will have coverage from Monday due to staff shortages.The Department of Parks only has seven staff available at present, compared to the 20 ideally needed to provide coverage at Horseshoe Bay, John Smith's Bay, Clearwater Beach and Turtle Bay. According to a spokesman, the key problem is that many of the guards have started returning to school. There had been 13 available earlier in the summer. The shortage was compounded yesterday by the fact that two of the lifeguards were out sick, meaning Clearwater Beach and Turtle Bay were without cover. "With reserves available to work this weekend the towers at Clearwater Beach and Turtle Bay will be opened this Saturday, August 25, and Sunday, August 26," said the spokesman. "Starting Monday August 27 only the lifeguard tower at Horseshoe Bay will be opened for duty. In addition, the surf on the South Shore has been a bit rough during the last few days so the Department of Parks has erected surf warning signs at the south beaches to alert the general public to use caution when swimming or snorkeling."
August 24. Slave Sally Bassett has proved the inspiration for one of Dolphin Quest's newborn calves.The baby dolphin born on June 6 has been named Bermudiana after the tiny purple iris found growing in the ashes of the slave girl. Sally was sentenced to death on June 6, 1730, and then burned at the stake. She always maintained her innocence and said God would send a sign to prove it. People then found the Bermudiana flowering out of her ashes and Sally became a focus of the anti-slavery movement. Katie Page submitted the winning name for Bermudiana, who is Caliban's calf. From May 23 to June 6, dolphins Cirrus, Bailey and Caliban gave birth to three female calves, and last month Dolphin Quest ran a competition to name the newborns. The contest attracted more than 550 entries, presenting the crew with the difficult task of choosing the winners. Cirrus's calf is now to be called Luna, from a suggestion by Alex Jenkins. Luna is the name of the Bermuda Moongate — a national symbol. Legend has it that people who walk through a Moongate are blessed with good luck, especially young lovers and honeymooners. Bailey's baby has been named Nea. Jane Downing chose the winning entry, which was inspired by a Bermuda-designed and built racing yacht in the late nineteenth century, christened after a member of the Gosling family. Katie, Alex and Jane will each receive photographs of their named dolphins and will also get to meet the mothers and calves at the Bermuda Maritime Museum facility. A spokeswoman for Dolphin Quest said: "We would like to thank the public for helping to name the three dolphin babies. We invite everyone to stop by and say hello to the new babies at Dolphin Quest Bermuda." For more information, telephone 234 4464.
August 24. Government has began an initiative to tear down dangerous walls across the Island. Speaking at a press conference at Loyal Hill Pass, Devonshire, Minister of Works and Engineering, Dennis Lister, addressed concerns residents had about a wall so decayed, the road was forced to shut down more than three years ago. As a result of the road closing, the top road has been used for traffic and is suffering from wear and tear. Along with Mr. Lister, Junior Minister of Health, Patrice Minors, spoke on behalf of the residents. Mr. Lister explained that along with the usual wear and tear, the decay of the wall was exacerbated by Hurricane Fabian in 2003. Works and Engineering employees starting tearing it down on Wednesday. Mr. Lister said: "We're here to highlight Government's initiative in areas where there are dangerous walls. This is a situation that has been out of hand for a long time." He said thanks to assistance from Ms Minors, his ministry stayed on top of the situation in order to find a solution. Ms Minors explained while she was on the canvassing trail, Loyal Hill Pass was a common complaint. "The residents are truly excited that a new wall will be erected and the road re-opened. With the road closed, it has become a nuisance to the residents," she said. A few of the residents thanked the Government for starting the project. Mrs. Kathleen Trott said: 'I'm thankful the wall is getting fixed. It's been a nuisance. We have so much traffic which is unbearable sometimes. I'm just thankful and happy." Mrs. Ida Spenser said she was also thankful the wall was being fixed because children would use it as a shortcut to get to school instead of going the long way around. Another resident, Shirley Richardson said: "We still have a number of issues to be worked out but I think we're on our way to getting some improvement." Mr. Lister also said there are many other areas Island-wide with dangerous walls but was unable to give a number or specific examples. He said they could fall down at any moment as a result of rain, winds and hurricanes. The Minister couldn't say when the walls would be fixed, but said the most important thing was to tear them down to avoid any accidents.
August 24. Poor staffing, pay and conditions are causing morale within the Bermuda Police Service to plummet and Government must shoulder responsibility, according to the Opposition United Bermuda Party.Party leader Michael Dunkley spoke out in response to recent claims by Public Safety Minister David Burch that, because the Governor is the head of the Police Service, Government should not be blamed for poor performance within the service. The claim was later rubbished by Deputy Police Commissioner Roseanda Young, who said that policing was "a shared partnership" between the Governor, Government and the Police Commissioner. Yesterday, Mr. Dunkley also went on the attack, accusing Government of "passing the buck" after neglecting the service for years. "It is about time that Minister Burch and his Cabinet colleagues, instead of sitting on their hands, pretending it's nothing to do with them, get on with helping the police and people make our island home a better and safer place for all," Mr. Dunkley said. "We have serious problems in our Police Service that are preventing them from doing the good job they're capable of doing. I have suggested before that a good deal of their frustration stems from Government's failure to take their deteriorating conditions of service seriously. Minister Burch has contradicted me, saying, in effect, that the Government is powerless to do much more than provide funding for their equipment. Blame for any failings belongs, he says, up at Government House. I don't think many people are taken in by that sort of passing the buck. Under the Constitution the Governor retains the formal power to control the police operationally. What that means is that he oversees the way they carry out their policing, and has control of them in emergencies. It doesn't mean that he and the Police Commissioner aren't prepared to work closely with the Government to address the problems at hand as has taken place in the past with former United Bermuda Party Governments. Nor does it mean that he has a magic wand that he can wave and solve problems caused by years of Government neglect of the administration of their working conditions." Mr. Dunkley listed three areas of concern, manpower shortages, pay, and working conditions which were all controlled by Government. "Under the Constitution the police budget, training and manpower has been delegated to the Government," he said. "The Government doesn't like to talk about just how far down the police are in terms of staff numbers, but it is no secret that shortages are severe, and adversely affect the performance of every unit in the service. The numbers get worse with every month that passes. We have to expect second best from traffic officers, from narcotics officers, from community policemen from every police department because they just don't have the bodies to be able to do the kind of job they're capable of doing. I realize that it's difficult these days, to recruit policemen locally or from abroad, but it's not impossible. Government foot-dragging and the Government's preference for non-Bermudian recruits from the Caribbean, as opposed to non-Bermudian recruits in total if needed, makes the situation much worse than it should be." Mr. Dunkley also slammed the "disgraceful state" of contract negotiations between Government and police. A pay agreement for 2005-2007 is still being thrashed out by the two parties. "Any Government that allows its negotiating team to fall so far behind with its work on a new contract that it hasn't been able to reach agreement before it expires, is being careless and inefficient to the point of being contemptuous of those with whom they are negotiating," Mr. Dunkley said. "This has almost nothing to do with the Governor, I'm sure he takes an interest, but constitutionally, he is not involved. This is something that lies smack on Government's doorstep. Government negotiators have failed to get a contract after three years of trying, and that must adversely affect the performance of the Police Service. Our police men and women are affected by these delays, their morale is bound to be depressed by the fact that their income is falling so far behind the cost of living." Mr. Dunkley also ridiculed Government's repeated failure to begin construction of a new police station, a promise it has made every year since 1999. "This story has been told too many times for me to need to repeat it. The police stations in Hamilton and Somerset and the complex at Prospect are in a dreadful state. They are so bad they are probably causing health problems. But the Government makes no bones about the fact that improvements are somewhere between the back burner and the back of beyond. These are three big, sprawling sets of problems for a small organisation that is under great pressure to do what it does for the community. They aren't the only problems, by any means. "How do you think a policeman reacts to being taken away from his real work to escort the Premier's entourage to and from the airport? How do you think a policeman who hasn't been able to take his vacation this year reacts to being bounced around in the service as a result of pressure from the Government to put more manpower on to traffic patrols one week, onto narcotics the next and into community policing the week after that?"
August 24. Planning officers have turned down a seven-storey office and apartment block on the outskirts of Hamilton. They ruled the height excessive and its appearance at odds with the 'Bermuda Image', but another reason against the building was its windows would have disorientated migratory birds.In a report to the Assistant Director of Planning Anna Eatherley, assistant enforcement officer Claudette Baisden said: "Bermuda is a well known destination to our visiting migratory birds, however a seven-storey building will be a danger to these species. "The lighting from the offices will blind and redirect the birds from their intended course." Yesterday, conservationist Dr. David Wingate said: "I'm glad that they're thinking about these kinds of issues. The height is not a threat but the reflection of glass can be a hazard with birds flying into it. We get reports every year of birds hitting windows in Hamilton or getting trapped in them during their migration." Plans for the building, at 5 Crow Lane, were submitted by Villa Development Co. Ltd. The application included two underground parking levels, three storeys of office space, and three upper floors of apartments and penthouses. Ms Baisden however, said in her report: "A seven-storey building at the above stated location does not amalgamate with the surrounding architectural design." The Development Applications Board rejected the application because it conflicted with the Bermuda Plan 1992. The board report said the mixed-use building "does not exhibit a massing, scale and appearance of development compatible with the Bermuda Image when viewed from public roads". Members said it exceeded the number of permitted storeys (three above the level of a public road) and that they were "not satisfied" with "the overall appearance and visual impact of the development". It was also ruled that "the infrastructure at this site can not accommodate a seven-storey building". Planning officers said there were only two rights of way for the 6,619 sq. ft development, proposed for the Cavendish Road side of Crow Lane.
August 24. Bermuda is already seeing a return on its $1.5-million investment into the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which is scheduled for the Mid Ocean Club in October. Hoteliers yesterday spoke enthusiastically of increased bookings over that period, which they claimed was due in no small part, to the fact that legendary golfer Tiger Woods is now eligible to compete. The world's number one ranked player won the final spot in the 25th annual competition open to the winners of golf's four majors the Masters, the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship. He joins fellow American Zach Johnson, Argentina's Angel Cabrera and Irishman Padraig Harrington on the Bermuda invite list. Participation is not compulsory but Transport and Tourism Minister, Premier Ewart Brown (pictured), has said that signs are positive that the 31-year-old superstar will take part. Bermuda Hotel Association president Michael Winfield, who is also president of Cambridge Beaches, described the event as a "win-win" situation for the island. "It's a bit difficult to quantify specific reservations, but certainly the major hotels are reporting a surge in business," he said. "And the fact that Tiger is hopefully going to play. I'm not a golfer, but the name that everybody knows is Tiger Woods. " All signs indicate that October 15-17 will be a wonderful time for Bermuda, he stated. "Ticket sales have gone extremely well. I think there are very few left. I think it's a very successful idea and will do a lot of good for Bermuda. We have it for two years which is very important and all the after-play coverage is going to be tremendous. It's going to be brilliant. It's all good news." Mr. Winfield said the timing of the event is also fortunate, as it falls at the beginning of the slower season for tourists to the island. "It's perfectly timed. The hotels are delighted with it. One, it brings immediate business and two, it provides great long-term coverage on the island. It's a win-win situation all round." His comments were supported by various hoteliers. Assistant general manager of Ariel Sands Aaron Medeiros said the hotel will be operating at "nearly 100 per cent occupancy" at that time. "There maybe one or two bookings that are not related to the PGA but most of our guests will be here for that," he said. "We're thrilled about it." General manager of Grotto Bay, Johannes Martens, said the 201-room property was solidly booked. "We're sold out over that period," he said. "We're absolutely thrilled." He said the reservations were actually made before Woods won the 89th PGA Golf Championship at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his 13th major title and became eligible to compete in Bermuda. "We were sold out prior to his win (on August 12)," he said, agreeing that the fact that the hotel was the second closest to the course, gave it an advantage. Regional Director of Sales and Marketing for the Fairmont Bermuda Shelley Meszoly said bookings at the two properties were also brisk. "Rooms at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess sold out shortly after the announcement was made that the PGA Grand Slam would be held in Bermuda, when quite a few companies reserved blocks of rooms for their clients," she said. "As host hotel for the tournament, The Fairmont Southampton is sold out on Wednesday and Thursday during the tournament. After Tiger won the PGA Championship we had a surge of bookings and now have only 50-60 rooms remaining on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday."
August 24. Government's healthy eating message is being extended to October's Bermuda Music Festival.The Department of Tourism yesterday called for the Island's health food providers to set up shop at the event which is bringing Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson and other music icons to Bermuda. They want the festival's 17,000-plus visitors to eat snacks like salads instead of munching their way through fatty hot dogs and burgers. It comes after Health Minister Michael Scott announced a new Healthy Weight Action Plan aiming to cut Bermuda's growing obesity problem. Premier and Tourism Minister Ewart Brown said in a statement yesterday: "The Ministry of Health has just embarked on an extensive awareness campaign encouraging Bermudians to make healthier lifestyle changes. The potential attendance at this year's festival is upwards of 17,000 people, and we saw the Bermuda Music Festival as an excellent way to assist in promoting this initiative; so we are encouraging all health food vendors to join us this year." The Tourism Department says it expects the twelfth Bermuda Music Festival to be the biggest and best to date and says ticket sales have been brisk so far. People are urged to buy them quickly to avoid disappointment. It takes place from October 3 to October 7 at the Fairmont Southampton Beach Club and the National Stadium. All vendors interested in operating at this year's Bermuda Music Festival can contact 292-0282.
August 24. Residents who spoke out against a multi-storey car park have been granted a judicial review of the Government's planning approval. More than 70 people objected to plans by First Church of God to construct a two-storey car park off North Shore Road in Pembroke. The parking lot was refused by the Development Applications Board but then approved by the Minister of the Environment on appeal in February. Despite letters of opposition and the formation of a neighbourhood committee, angry residents say Minister Neletha Butterfield approved church leader Bishop Vernon Lambe's appeal without any consultation. They are now questioning the legality of her decision through a judicial review. Residents Lauretta Lorna Stoneham, Claudette Fleming and Janet Francis named the Environment Minister, the Attorney General and the Development Applications Board as respondents in their application for leave to file for judicial review on July 31. Yesterday this was approved by the Supreme Court. It means any building work must now be suspended. Legal representative Darrell Clarke said last night he was "very pleased" by the decision. He said residents had questioned the planning approval on the basis of illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety. Despite only three residents being named on the appeal, Mr. Clarke says he has been contacted by more than 70 people protesting Ms Butterfield's decision. Mr. Clarke, of Darrell Clarke Barristers and Associates confirmed the judicial review of the parking lot and added: "In addition to this, the church has in effect been prohibited from taking any further steps towards development of the parking lot. The order was granted in favour of the 70 objectors to the application which was made by the church. I can also confirm that there are somewhere in the region of ten grounds of objection filed in our Notice of Motion and that we intend to vigorously oppose the Minister's decision." The First Church of God says it only has 100 parking spaces to cater for up to 1,000 worshippers. Overflow parking has been provided at Pig's Field but the recreation area is now due to undergo a revamp. Last night a Government spokesman said Ms Butterfield could not comment on the planning decision. "It would not be proper for the Minister to make any comment as this is an outstanding court case that is being addressed by the Attorney General's chambers," he said.
August 24. Public school teachers were handed pay rises yesterday after two years without an increase. The award they got — 4.5 percent for last year, which will be paid in back pay, and four percent for the forthcoming academic year — was rejected by the Bermuda Union of Teachers during long-running talks with the Ministry of Education. The final figures were agreed by an arbitration panel after those talks broke down, and are binding as both parties agreed to arbitration. No one from the union was available for comment yesterday. However, the news sparked mixed reaction from teachers. One who works at CedarBridge Academy told The Royal Gazette: "It's not like the money isn't there. We've already seen evidence of money that really has been squandered in less useful ways such as the top-heavy management and the top-heavy Government organisation right now." The woman, who asked that her name not be printed, claimed many teachers dig into their own pockets to help out students whose families cannot afford to buy them basic equipment, and also to supplement classroom supplies such as text books. "I challenge anyone who is on the other side of the table, who's making the decision, to walk in our shoes even for a week and truly understand what we deal with and how we earn every dime of that money," she said. She added that she could not rule out the possibility of a strike, although she was not in a position to gauge the wider mood within the profession. Another teacher said of the pay settlement: "I don't think it's bad at all. Think about it — we are getting four percent on top of that 4.5 percent. The Government is not a bank. I don't have a problem with it. I would rather see them improve working conditions and the educational system itself than for teachers to be fighting over blasted money." Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Ellen-Kate Horton, said: "We are happy that the decision has been made and that we can enter the classroom in September with an agreement."
August 24. Social Rehabilitation Minister Dale Butler was flying the flag for the region as the International Slavery Museum opened in the UK.The museum, in Liverpool — a port city which played a huge role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade — has been created to mark the bicentenary of the Slave Trade Act. Mr. Butler was invited to yesterday's opening through links he forged with Organisers during his spell as Cultural Affairs Minister. After offering the invitation to current Cultural Affairs Minister Wayne Perinchief — who was unable to attend — Mr. Butler went himself, paying for his own transport and accommodation as the four-day trip fell outside his Ministry. Mr. Butler, who said he appeared to be the only Minister from the Caribbean region present yesterday, reflected on how the slavery museum has been built from humble beginnings around a decade ago. "It was an excellent experience," he told The Royal Gazette. "I had attempted to establish a relationship with the museum in 2003 when I became Cultural Minister. They were interested in Bermuda, that we had slavery here, and kept in touch. In 1994 the museum had in its possession a very small slavery section. It was very controversial because it was in its basement. But through the years, they decided to build something proper." Liverpool's ships and merchants dominated the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the second half of the 18th Century. Its inhabitants gained great civic and personal wealth from the trade, paving the way for the development of the port into one of the UK's leading cities. At the trade's peak in the two decades leading up to its abolition in 1807, up to 130 ships left the port for Africa every year — representing three quarters of all European slaving ships. In total, Liverpool ships transported half of the three million Africans carried across the Atlantic by British slavers. Mr. Butler, who studied in Liverpool during the 1970s, said he was pleased to see the city was now acknowledging its role in the trade. "I got the feeling for years there was a sense of denial," he said. "There's a small group here who feels it's a waste of time, and say: 'why bring up the past?' But you can't eliminate certain parts of history." The Minister praised the museum's use of interactive technology to show how groups such as banks and churches benefited from slavery, while he was also impressed with a replica of a sugar-mill factory. A section on racism — highlighting the achievements of outstanding blacks such as Nelson Mandela and Jesse Owens — also caught his attention. He said he would like to see some of the museum's ideas taken to the Island's own slavery exhibition at Bermuda Maritime Museum, particularly the emphasis on using modern technology. Mr. Butler is a historian who has studied Bermuda's slavery past. Earlier this year, he backed this newspaper's Break The Chains campaign by signing Anti-Slavery International's on-line petition which calls for world leaders to take action to help free more than 12 million modern-day slaves. The International Slavery Museum was officially opened to mark the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade yesterday.
August 24. People who continue to litter the streets with cigarette butts could soon end up before the courts. But the Corporation of Hamilton (COH) hopes it does not get to that stage — and has bought new cigarette receptacles to place around the city in the hope smokers will use them instead of the street to get rid of their butts.Deputy Mayor William Black said: "We have had a real problem with people throwing their cigarettes on the streets and sidewalks in the city. During the May in Bloom campaign we put out new plant holders which are now full of cigarette butts. The problem has become worse since smoking was banned from restaurants, bars and offices because people congregate in one area and then drop their cigarettes." However, the Corporation has already started exploring its legal options. Officials are working with the Attorney General's chambers and Police so that people can be ticketed for throwing butts on the streets. Mr. Black added: "Instead of a fine, though, we want them to be sentenced to community service, to clean up the city streets." In the meantime the COH hopes the public will take advantage of the new cigarette receptacles that will be placed around the city. It is also hoped that businesses who have customers or employees who frequently smoke will purchase one too to place outside the offices. A receptacle costs $500 and companies that buy the bins will not be responsible for maintaining or emptying them. Staff from the Corporation will be in charge of the maintenance and the bins can be purchased by contacting the Corporation at 292-1234.
August 25. Bermuda already has the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world, but a team of explorers and scientists say there is evidence of a treasure trove beneath us capable of enriching the lives of everyone.Exploration of the seabed has unearthed evidence of rare metals which could challenge China's monopoly in the high technology market. These REEs (Rare Earth Elements) are needed for 21st century products such as cell phones, computers, navigation systems and hydrogen storage. There is also the possibility of diamonds, gold, platinum, uranium and other precious minerals beneath our waters. Nick Hutchings, chairman of Ocean Projects Ltd., says research has revealed lava deposits in the seamount of Bermuda's volcano which point to their presence. One of the lavas - 'Bermudite', was originally discovered in the 'Deep Drill' experiments of 1972 when scientists drilled 800m into Bermuda's earth. In May 2006 however, Ocean Projects Ltd. and a team of scientists also discovered the rare lava carbonatite 3,600 ft down on the ocean floor. Scientists Dr. Wolfgang Sterrer, a research associate at the Bermuda Natural History Museum, and Dr. Fabrizio Aumento, a marine environmental scientist from La Tuscia University, Italy, teamed up with Mr. Hutchings to explore the seabed aided by a Global Marine Systems ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle). They retrieved samples of Bermudites, unique alkaline intrusive sheets similar to the Meimechites found in Siberia, South Africa, and China. Dr. Aumento, speaking at a BUEI lecture this week, said: "There are indications that on the north west slope of Bermuda there are very bright gold seams in the rock. Whenever we find these Bermudite rocks they are often associated with very rich mineral deposits." Mr. Hutchings, 54, told The Royal Gazette: "The geology is promising because we have this important sequence of lavas - we have the basalt, the Bermudites and now the carbonatites." He said that one carbonatite plate in South Africa - the Palabora copper mine, had proven reserves (an estimated value) of $25 billion. In Siberia, at Meimecha, the presence of Bermudites (called Meimechites) and carbonatites have yielded a wealth of platinum. Mr. Hutchings said: "Our geology warrants further investigation as we have a particular combination of three lavas which make it very interesting. I must stress at this point we have not discovered any mineral deposits, only the potential for them. This is just the first step in a very long investigation." In 1996 Bermuda gained sovereignty over its Exclusive Economic Zone, extending the country's borders from 21 square miles to 256,000 square miles. Mr. Hutchings said: "Our country now stretches 200 miles in all directions, although 99.9 per cent of it is underwater. We know very little about it at present but there are signs there may be valuable natural resources." He told the audience at the BUEI lecture: "The resources belong to the people of Bermuda and at the end of the day that is going to decide what is going to happen to them. Impartial accurate scientific data will ensure that when the time comes, an informed decision will be made." Mr. Hutchings said yesterday that the Government would be responsible for managing these resources. "The people of Bermuda could benefit in several ways," he said. "The first is through Government-funded infrastructure such as schools, roads and hospitals, which are paid for by the royalties and taxes. The second is the direct benefits to shareholders, through dividends, and thirdly, the benefit to the economy in Bermuda." The challenge now is to conduct a comprehensive survey of our waters, drawing up a detailed map, and then to sit down with geologists to identify any interesting topographical features. The next step would be further exploration with an ROV, running video footage and collecting samples to identify what the rock is made from. Mr. Hutchings, of Paget, said: "We have an exploration licence with the Bermuda Government and that means we have exclusive rights to negotiate with the Government for mining lease should we discover a mineral deposit. We could be lucky and find one on the next dive or it could take many years of exploration." Ocean Projects Ltd. is privately owned and is restricted to 20 shareholders per share offer, but Mr. Hutchings said: "We are thinking very carefully about how to get a broad base of ownership in the company when the time is right. At some point next year there will be some kind of share offer where shares will be available and at that point we will be looking for at least $1 million in funding. The question then will be, do we go after a few big investors or lots of smaller investors or a combination of both." He said each mapping exploration needs $100,000-$120,000 of funding.
August 25. One of Bermuda's most luxurious hotels will open its doors to the public for historical tours next week. The Fairmont Hamilton Princess was hand-picked by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts as one of nine hotels to be featured as part of their centennial celebration. The Royal Gazette sat down with hotel manager, Allan Trew, to talk about what people can expect in the tours and why they should come. Mr. Trew explained this a company wide initiative. Fairmont has chosen nine historic properties to invite the public to show them historic parts of these hotels. He said Hamilton Princess was opened in 1883, a few years before the first Fairmont hotel, San Francisco, opened in 1907. Hamilton Princess was later bought by Fairmont. During the tour, expected to last between 30 and 45 minutes, guests will be able to see the Gold Lounge which Mr. Trew said played a very significant part during World War Two when it served as an intelligence headquarters for the British Government. He said the Gold Lounge is a Fairmont brand and is in all their hotels. Another area is the Gazebo Lounge which was previously a bar. Mr. Trew said the bar inspired writers such as Mark Twain and Ian Fleming. Another historic part of the hotel is wall adorned with pictures of the hotel from its development stage to what it looks like today. There will also be stories of guests who have made the hotel famous. According to Mr. Trew, the best part of the tour will be the tea. "After the tour, this is perhaps the highlight, we are inviting guests and visitors to join us for a special tea for $19.07. The company has created a limited commemorative tea which we are serving at the Heritage Court. There are also special commemorative drinks at the bar", he said. Although reservations are not required, Mr. Trew suggested people make reservations because the afternoon tea is quite popular. According to Mr. Trew, Mark Twain is the most well-known guest to have stayed at the hotel even though the hotel has entertained presidents, royalty, dignitaries and other celebrities. He told a story of when Michael Jackson and Macaulay Culkin stayed in the hotel at the same time. "The guests were sitting out in the courtyard trying to catch a glimpse of Michael Jackson when the two of them threw big water balloons down at them", he laughed. When asked why people should come out for the tours, Mr. Trew said: "I think they would find out something very interesting that they never knew. This hotel has always been a focal point of Bermuda. It is important we share history with the Bermuda public". Rehanna Palumbo, director of Sales and Marketing at Hamilton Princess said: "We want to invite everyone to join us for these historical tours. We've been honored to have history unfold at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess from the time the hotel opened in 1885 until today, and this is our chance to share the most fascinating aspects of the hotel's history, indeed Bermuda's history, with the community." In addition to Hamilton Princess, the eight other hotels featured around the world are the Savoy in London, Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, Fairmont Empress in Victoria, British Columbia, Fairmont San Francisco, Fairmont Copley Square in Boston, Fairmont Banff Springs in Banff Springs, Canada, Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg and the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. The tours will take place on Sunday, September 2 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Reservations for the free tours are not required and are appropriate for all ages.
August 25. A hotel set on Hamilton Harbour served as headquarters for intense intelligence operations for the British Government during the Second World War. Fairmont Hamilton Princess housed twelve hundred secret agents, experts, scientists and linguist in the former Adam Lounge, dubbed Room 99, from 1940 to 1945. It was chosen because of because of it's strategic geographic location. The story says because Bermuda had a stable Government, a long shipping tradition, first class harbours, a British Naval base and a base for flying boats at Darrell's Island, it was the best place to operate out of. Working out of a two-storey wooden building, the Gazebo Lounge and the Adam Lounge, the Gold Lounge today, the men intercepted all postal, telegraph and radio traffic between the Western Hemisphere and Europe. Flying boats to Darrell's island would drop off packages which were delivered by launch to the Princess dock. The mail was sorted in the present-day Gazebo Lounge area before being sent over to the Adam Lounge to check all the details. The parcels were then searched by the Imperial Censorship staff for microdot messages that could have been sent by German spies. The men would decode the secret correspondence, extract the letters from the tightly sealed envelopes and put them back without anyone knowing. They were led by Senior Representative of British Intelligence, Sir William Stephenson or code name "Intrepid", who helped to trap German spies and agents in the US. Stephenson was the wartime British security coordinator for the Western Hemisphere. He received the Medal for Merit, highest honour the United States can grant a non-citizen, in a New York ceremony on November 30, 1946. Major-General William J. Donovan presented the medal, with Col. G. Edward Buxton, wartime assistant OSS director, background, Mary Simmons, or Lady Stephenson as she became later. Sir William eventually settled in Bermuda. Sir William retired in 1964 and moved into a suite at The Princess with his wife. They eventually moved into a home in Paget were he lived until he died at the age of 93 in 1989. The hotel was closed at the start of the war. It was re-opened by the British Government with the nickname, "Bletchley in the Tropics" after Bletchley Park, the English country house where the "Enigma" code was broken.
August 25. The Jamaican Association of Bermuda (JAB) is appealing for cash donations and other items after the country suffered a pounding by Hurricane Dean last Sunday, which brought around 145 mile-per-hour wind gusts. JAB, responding directly to the tremendous outpouring of concerns for Jamaicans back at home, held an emergency meeting on Tuesday to help co-ordinate relief efforts. And, JAB's annual picnic planned for the Labor Day weekend at the Shelly Bay Field has been cancelled in order to focus attention on the current relief efforts. The association has set up a special relief fund account to facilitate urgent needs. Monetary donations may be made as follows: cheques and money orders may be made payable to The Jamaican Association (Bermuda) and either deposited directly to Relief — Fund account number: 010-407146-012, HSBC Bank of Bermuda or mail to: Jamaican Association (Bermuda) P.O. Box HM 2890 Hamilton HM LX. Cash deposits can also be made directly to this account. The collection of items is also encouraged. However, the problem of storing, sorting and shipping items to Jamaica in a timely manner remains an issue, according to JAB. Anyone interested in coordinating a shipping effort should contact: Ralston Wright, President, at 537-2511; Traddie Simpson, Vice President, at 505-6882; Lisa Bailey, Treasurer, at 524-1049; Dave Medley, Secretary, at 524-1288; Joan Richardson, Assistant Secretary, at 238-1933. It's understood the Jamaican Government and all relevant agencies are in the process of making a final assessment of the full damage sustained to the island. According to the Jamaica Observer, a local paper there, 107 public schools were damaged, in varying degrees, by Hurricane Dean on Sunday, according to the latest estimate from the Ministry of Education. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) office in Jamaica has mobilized US$100,000 from the agency's national committee in France and was expecting another £50,000 from the counterpart committee in the United Kingdom. And according to the US National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Hurricane Dean was the third most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall since record-keeping began in the 1850s, based on its central atmospheric pressure.
August 25. Police are investigating what is believed to have been the shooting and killing of a 25-year-old Hamilton Parish man in Devonshire last night. He was named yesterday as Shaki Crockwell, a former Bermuda Hogges player. It is understood the popular footballer was shot once in the neck on the Railway Trail near Loyal Hill after 10 p.m on Friday. Police arrived on the scene around 10.22 p.m. to find him unresponsive and a doctor later pronounced him dead. A Police spokesman has confirmed that foul play is suspected. Detectives from the Serious and Organized Crime Division have launched a probe and would like to speak to the person who placed an emergency call to 911 to report the incident. Anyone with information into the death of the man is asked to call 295-0011 or they can call the confidential Crimestoppers hotline of 1 800 623 8477. See Monday's edition of The Royal Gazette for the full story and photos.
August 25. Questions were raised about the daunting task of applying for Financial Assistance now that former Medical Clinic patients must apply to be placed on the Government's Health Insurance Plan (HIP).For those who take the step to apply for financial assistance the decision is no laughing matter as a box of tissues sitting on the pre-screening desk will attest. Chantel Smith, a manager in the Department of Financial Assistance said the process can be quite humiliating and distressing for many. However, the staff try as hard as possible to be helpful — filling out applications for those who cannot read or write, even visiting seniors and the disabled in their homes for ease. "Family members can apply for them or we can even go to them to do the assessment," Ms Smith said, "We are very sensitive to the needs of seniors and disabled. We try to assist as much as possible." Concerns about applying for Financial Assistance were raised by former medical clinic patients who expressed their dismay over how intrusive the process can be. One patient even said she may not bother with applying because she is so distraught at the form which requires a signature from her landlord therefore letting him know she may be on financial assistance. While Dianna Taylor, the Director of Financial Assistance, is sympathetic to these concerns she is also a realist and makes no excuse for delving into people's personal affairs. "These services (free medical care) were being abused by those going to the clinic, she said, "Most who apply for financial assistance are honest and fair, but we have to be sure. A worker will have to make one mandatory visit to see who is living at the residence and make sure you are at the address you said you were and it has the number of rooms you stated." To that end, the Department requires anyone applying to sign a Client Declaration Form, which then binds the applicant to all of their statements. Should the person have lied on one of the seven required forms they are subject to suspension of assistance, according to Ms Taylor. The Director, however, does not want to give the impression the department is heartless. While there are stringent procedures to get financial assistance, it is meant to give the case worker a better picture of who the potential client is and what help they might need. And for the former medical clinic patients this could actually help- as Ms Taylor points out many of the patients have actually been eligible for other benefits without realizing it. "I have had quite a few who have said 'Wow I wish I had known about this before'. Many of those had been going up in age, but now they know what is possible," she said. Before a member of the public can receive any financial assistance they must visit the Department's offices on the first floor of Global House for their pre-screening. A very medical and perhaps intimidating term for what is basically an information-gathering process for the applicant. The meeting is also a chance for former medical clinic patients to receive their temporary health insurance card, which identifies them for their doctors. Temporary because after three months, the process for applying for financial assistance should be completed with the client either receiving help or not. During the pre-screening former patient will also receive a list of 18 mandatory items which, after speaking to the counselor, will be whittled down to the individual's necessary documents. And the sooner these documents are collected the sooner the applicant can make an appointment and return to the Department for their interview and the results. This process has come under scrutiny after Premier Dr. Ewart Brown's announced the closure of the clinic in his November Throne speech and the Ministry of Health later revealed these patients would be place on the Government's Health Insurance Plan (HIP). The closure according to Premier Brown would protect the patients dignity, however in a news conference in April he also said the salaries for staff at the clinic had ballooned to half a million dollars a year and 30 patients were taking up acute care beds to the tune of $6 million for the tax payer. Streamlining the process and having everyone apply for financial assistance would help ensure that there was no abuse of the process. And that is exactly what Ms Taylor with her staff of seven case workers, three managers, one investigative officer and one social worker are trying to do in the most sensitive manner. The process has started for more than 300 former medical clinic patients bringing the case load of the department to 1,100. Ms Taylor stressed, however, that these medical clinic patients, while they may receive extra services through HIP, would be going through the financial assistance process the same way everyone else did. "They are going to get assessed by us just like everyone else. If they can't qualify for financial assistance, if you have the means to pay for medical assistance then you should." To qualify the person must be Bermudian, a guardian for a Bermudian child and must not have more than $5,000 in any of their bank accounts. Should a senior or someone applying for financial assistance have more than $5,000 they must spend down to that amount in order to qualify. Ms Taylor, however, made it clear that their pensions would not be touched and all of this was just to ensure the process was fair for everyone. "When they come back for the intake they will leave knowing if they got it and how much they are going to get," she said. "It is hard to know what a case looks like though because every case is different and every situation is assessed on its own merits."
August 27. A local drama group was able to give back to their community in a big way, after writing and acting in a Christian production. Drama group Mosaic Too raised $2,000 from ticket sales and used a majority of the money to provide five needy families with grocery vouchers from the Market Place. In addition, the group donated books to the Bermuda Institute (BI) Library and gave $500 to help a student in need pay for their education. The members of Mosaic Too have found that giving back to the less fortunate has also been rewarding for them. Group member, Lalisha Simmons, 24, said: "We get absolutely nothing tentatively, but we get everything mentally. It has helped me a lot, made me not be so materialistic and able to recognize other people's needs and not my wants. " Mosaic Too are a drama group comprised of fifteen people, ranging in age from 15 to over 30, coming from different religious denominations throughout the Island. Though all of the members have their different talents, personalities and backgrounds they are united in their goals to give back to the community and share the gospel, explained Miss Simmons. The group was started in 2004 by Miss Simmons, 24, and Kyron Hill, 23, who were inspired after getting involved with the 'Apocalypse' drama group at Atlantic Union College. Mr. Hill said: "I had a desire to start my own drama group to put together plays on the Island. I thought it would be a good idea to get young people involved with positive activities and give back to the community." This year's play, Justice, took place on July 21 at the City Hall, and was as a "thought-provoking" play about a young man being tried for various "unethical and illegal" offences against the community. It forced the audience to ask the question: 'What is justice?' Is it up for other people to judge our mistakes or only for Jesus Christ to decide. In the past, Mosaic Too have put on three other local productions as well as one in Massachusetts, which raised money for non-perishable foods for flood victims in Haiti.
August 27. Budget Carrier Zoom Airlines cancelled its London Gatwick to Bermuda flight yesterday due to mechanical problems.Last night, The Royal Gazette received a tip saying the weekly flight was hours late. It was due to arrive in Bermuda around 2.15 p.m. yesterday. A check with airport officials revealed that the plane's mechanical problems caused the company to scrap the flight after trying to repair it. Instead, Zoom is expected to arrive at the same time tomorrow afternoon, before a 3.15 p.m. turnaround, when it will then head to New York's JFK Airport. Airport officials were unable to specify the exact cause of the mechanical setback. Zoom launched its twice-weekly service between London and Bermuda in mid-April, before later adding a route between Bermuda and New York's JFK airport. The carrier broke a long-held monopoly by British Airways when it unveiled its ultra-cheap ticket prices between the Island and London, with some round-trip tickets costing just under $500, depending on date of travel and seating. The Boeing 767-300ER aircraft it uses has 266 seats, of which 84 are premium economy and 182 economy.
August 27. On a day of music that included a performance by Bermuda's international recording artist Heather Nova, it was an eight-year-old schoolgirl who went on stage but neither sang nor played an instrument who summed up what Saturday's Picnic in the Park event was all about.Hundreds of people from across Bermuda's communities mingled and relaxed at Astwood Park on South Shore, enjoying spectacular sea views, sunshine and a diverse range of music from Island performers. But it was Kayla Travers, eight, who delivered the most poignant message when she joined Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce's Stuart Hayward on stage and read a short letter she had written to explain a 500-signature petition to save Southlands from development, signed by other children, that she had gathered. "My school would not allow me to bring the petition in to school, so I worked hard to obtain these signatures where ever I could," she told Mr. Hayward and the audience. When I spoke to kids they were all concerned about our green spaces and wanted to help protect Bermuda. Just because we can't vote doesn't mean that our voices shouldn't be heard as well. I wish the Government would stop playing around with our futures, after all we are Bermuda's future. After all our land is destroyed we can never get it back and it will be way too late for our voices to make a difference. So, please Mr. Hayward, will you help us kids save Bermuda?" Kayla was applauded and, as she left the stage, told The Royal Gazette that it had taken about a month to collect the signatures. Her school did not want to be caught up in any political row so it asked her not to collect signatures at school. Kayla, accompanied by her mother Karen, said she used her own time to gather support from youngsters who want to see the 37 acres of wilderness at Southlands preserved rather than built on to create a hotel, as is currently planned. Mr. Hayward, who accepted the petition, said: "It is extremely encouraging when we talk about saving open spaces for the future to see children, for whom we are doing this, wanting to get involved. It is inspiring and encouraging and reminds us adults that we should really kick in and help. To have a youngster lead the way like this does a lot for this particular cause." The concert and picnic to promote the work of BEST and the importance of preserving open spaces was hailed a success by Mr. Hayward, who also briefly performed, providing recorder accompaniment to Heather Nova. He said: "People really appreciate the parklands. They have come to share the park, listen to good music and enjoy some food. But we take much of our open spaces for granted. Bermuda does not have enough protected open space and most of what we have is just an application away from being developed." As well as Heather Nova, Picnic in the Park featured musical performances by Val Sherwood, Jackie Ayers and her band, Undread, Flookie, an acoustic Olybhosh, Ras Georgis and Joy Barnum.
August 27. Six postal stamps have been unveiled by the Bermuda Philatelic Bureau to commemorate 100 years of Scouting as well as the one-hundred-and-fiftieth birthday of Lord Baden Powell, the founder of Scouting.It was officially announced on Thursday, as the 'Scouting 2007 commemorative stamps,' and represents the fourth commemorative stamp issue for the year. This collection continues the Bermuda Post Office's efforts to portray all facets of Bermuda's heritage, culture and history, Government said. The stamps represent the following: 35c stamp, Bishop's Own Cubs at Government House; 70c stamp, Lord Baden Powell inspecting Cubs, Front Street Hamilton; 85c stamp, Scouts on parade, Front Street Hamilton; $1.10 stamp, Dance of Kaa, Government House Souvenir Sheet; $1.25 stamp, Bermuda Scout Badge; $2.00 stamp, Lord Baden Powell inspecting Cubs, Front Street Hamilton. Orders may be prepaid for collection or mailing on the day of issue at the General Post Office in Hamilton or any sub-Post Office.
August 27. White, female and with an English accent, Jane Correia is not your typical Progressive Labour Party candidate.But breaking down the social barriers has been a theme of her life. She was the first woman Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and is now a contracts administrator in the male-dominated world of construction. Indeed both those experiences have armed her for the political fight which at first blush seems an odd choice for the shy and unassuming 44-year-old mother of two. She might not seem like someone likely to thrive in the hurly-burly of political debate. She disagrees: "I think it is something I will be able to deal with given the experience from the yacht club. "There were times when there were contracts that got sticky, my philosophy is if you tell the truth and stick to the truth you will never go wrong. That would be the way I would conduct myself in the House." And she has already been embroiled in controversy. Three years ago the Opposition attacked Government for awarding her husband's firm Correia Construction a contract to repair the Dockyard foreshore damaged in Hurricane Fabian without putting it out to open tender. Then Works and Engineering Minister Ashfield DeVent had said no other bids had been sought because other marine building contractors had been tied up or had lacked the resources to do the job. And earlier this year the Mid-Ocean News ran an article claiming that Government had given Correia Construction the bulk of the building work for the new multi-million pound cruise ship pier in Dockyard. At that time, her husband, company boss Dennis Correia, had insisted the tendering process for the cruise ship pier had been carried out correctly and that his friendship with the Premier had not been a factor in any decision, despite claims other people had not been given sufficient time to put together rival bids. Correia Construction has also been given the Government contract to build a new vehicle emissions test centre but Mrs. Correia said it had tendered for that contract. She said of the Fabian repairs: "We had done an awful lot of work for Dockyard. We built the cruise ship dock and terminal there and it was felt we had the most knowledge of how it had been constructed to repair it. We tender any Government contract just like anyone else — but this was an emergency situation, there had been a hurricane." But the scrutiny continues. "There is nothing to find. We are a reputable company and we are reputable people." Earlier this month she was announced as PLP candidate to fight the United Bermuda Party stronghold of Smith's South. She said: "I have been involved in the labour force throughout my life. My grandfather was a plumber, my father in the UK was involved in the roofing business and I ended up married to a construction worker. They are blue collar jobs. It seems just like a natural fit." Despite this the firm is not unionized. "None of the men have asked to be unionized," she said. "We feel we treat them very fairly. If they asked to be unionized we would have to follow the law." She said she had only stepped forward to join the PLP after a lot of soul searching. "I joined the PLP because I felt very welcome at any meeting. There are some very, very bright young minds and I felt that their philosophy was along the lines of my own." Some have argued the parties differ little in their ideological approach. Probed on what UBP policies she disagreed with, she said: "It would not be fair for me to comment because I haven't been to any of their meetings." Of the PLP's policies which attracted her, she said: "They are keen to see international business continue here." She is excited by the Southlands project. "The PLP are keen to see the racial barriers broken down. Education is key." She said the PLP was keen on Bermudianisation but if posts couldn't be filled then work permit holders would be employed. "I think it was a tremendous thing they did in introducing long-term residency because they recognized the plight of those who had been here for a long time and were left in no man's land." Indeed Mrs. Correia herself was left in no man's land for a long time. Despite moving to Bermuda from England with her mother when she was seven, she only got status and the right to vote three years ago through her marriage to Dennis. Educated at Gilbert Institute and Bermuda High School for girls, Mrs. Correia did a secretarial course in London and came back and joined Appleby, Spurling and Kempe where she started in the typing pool, before becoming a paralegal and then moving into marketing. In her spare time she did volunteer work at both hospitals but she said her work with Meals on Wheels as a teen was an eye-opener to the poverty which existed in Bermuda. "I really didn't realize people lived in such poor conditions in Bermuda. It is only when you see it for yourself you realize just how bad it is. We were going all through the back of town. People were living in squalor. It was mind-blowing. I couldn't believe in a country such as Bermuda people were living in such dreadful conditions." But the experience did not cause her to get politically involved. It's only within the last four to five years has she become interested in party politics. Asked why, she said: "People complain and just don't do anything about it. I have to confess I was one of those. So, instead of complaining, I decided to get involved." She signed up to the party last October and told Premier Ewart Brown she wanted to stand as a candidate. The Premier is a personal friend of the family — she says she met him and a host of Government ministers after inviting them to events at the RBYC where she was Commodore from 2004-2006. "I respected them and felt comfortable with them. One of my goals when I set out to become Commodore was to make the club more representative of the community, to make people feel welcome. I believe in this day and age there really shouldn't be anywhere where people feel they are not able to go in and feel welcome." She said the Yacht club supported that concept and welcomed the slave ship replica Amistad when it came to Bermuda. Some have questioned how someone can become a candidate so soon after joining a party when other loyal party workers have been forced out despite years of services. She said: "I wouldn't say I have been fast-tracked. My husband and I have been involved quietly with the PLP for many years. We did the Jones' Village playground at cost when one of their candidates approached us." Some suspect her speedy elevation smacks of racial tokenism as the PLP seeks to broaden its appeal. But she said: "Just because I am white isn't the reason I am joining the PLP. I would like to encourage other whites to join the PLP. Only because I think it would be more representative of our community which I believe is basically 60/40 and I would like to eventually see the PLP platform become that. But that is my opinion and my vision." Former Cabinet Minister Renee Webb has lamented there has been behind-the-scenes resentment about the PLP's new high-flying white recruits because of their race. But Mrs. Correia has yet to experience it. Indeed she produces a pile of printed emails of support from PLP stalwarts backing her candidacy. And if hostility comes about she will meet it head-on by talking it through with her critics. Talking things through seems to be another key strand to her philosophy. She backs the Premier's Big Conversation on race and has been hosting small groups of women to chew over race topics along with PLP campaign chairperson Dawn Simmons. "Everyone felt extremely comfortable — what we thought would last maybe an hour lasted six hours. So the next session was a barbecue." Visitors would have marveled at her sumptuous home which boasts a swimming pool, a tree house and plenty of room for her large dogs to run off excess energy. But, speaking amid barrage of noise from her chirruping caged birds, she indicates the surroundings are the result of effort rather than privilege. The home has been hugely renovated in the last few years. "Because my husband's name is Portuguese my mother-in-law had to purchase it in her name — McGregor — in the 1970s." In the early days the furniture was boxes and crates as the family made do on Mrs. Correia's salary as a paralegal while her husband successfully fought off cancer. Her husband's background also plays a part in the list of issues she wants to tackle. "The Portuguese have been marginalized and it is part of my political platform." She conceded few Portuguese had been drawn to the PLP despite often being overlooked under the previous administration. I don't understand why that is and I would hope to encourage them to join." Asked about the issues that matter to her most she said she is interested in youth and boosting technical education which has been lagging. "We are losing fine craftsman by not offering what was offered — such as the woodwork class, or the metal shop or the cooking class and sewing class. When I was at school this was all offered in the senior years. We don't have enough good tradesmen anymore — we have an excellent programme in the National Training Board but if you could at least start people in their younger years." But to make a real difference she will need to get elected and she concedes winning it will be an uphill battle to overturn Cole Simons' 400-plus majority in Smith's South. So far she has been canvassing by phone because she suffers from chronic back pain which has led to a spinal stimulator, complete with battery, being inserted in her body to determine which nerves are causing the trouble. Recently one of the wires was disconnected and had to be fixed. The pain has eased somewhat but she still shakes during spasms. She is building her strength up in preparation to hit the pavements during the campaign. But she is used to hard-work, putting in up to 80 hours a week at Correia Construction which is a half-minute walk from her Devonshire home. She enjoys the tendering process, despite the massive pressure, knowing failure will result in work drying up and eventual layoffs while getting too much work will put a strain on manpower. The firm has grown from a dozen employees to around 60 in little over a decade making it one of Bermuda's biggest companies. The firm is truly a family affair with her daughter Danielle, 25, employed as a truck driver there. She might not win her political battle but will be shocked if the PLP lose. Either way she says she is in it for the long haul and is not just there for Dr. Brown. "I have a great deal of respect for the Premier — I think he is a man who gets things done. But I have a great deal of respect for other members of the PLP — like Paula Cox. I am very excited about it, I have had a lot of support from PLP members. I don't just plan to make it a one-off and drop out."
August 27. Consumer Affairs is to hire extra staff as it struggles to cope with a soaring caseload.Complaints rose seven percent in 2006 to just under 1,000 and are already on the up this year. Gripes against the auto industry again topped the list in 2006 with a 19 percent hike while complaints also poured in over other trades. Recurring themes were:
Consumer Affairs Executive Officer Karen Marshall said the main areas behind the 985 complaints were over automotive, construction, retail and landlord/tenant disputes.Currently Consumer Affairs has three staff but is now hiring another enforcement officer and an education officer. "Statistics clearly show there's a need," said Mrs. Marshall who said there were hours of work behind sorting out each complaint. And Government is also planning to beef up the law although some of the legislation has been a long time in the works. In Bermuda any individuals can declare themselves to be a tradesperson without taking the time to learn all the necessary skills. Community and Cultural Affairs Minister Wayne Perinchief said a task force would licence all types of trades with new entrants needing courses while long-serving reputable trades people would be grandfathered or given an oral test. Measures to tighten up procedures on quotes are still at the Attorney General chambers as Government lawyers assessed what piece of legislation to put it under. People often chose an estimate at the middle or lower end, said Ms Marshall. "But by the time the work is over the bill is triple the cost of what the estimate was - causing a debt for the consumer which is un-planned for. It caused havoc in building work They are in the middle of the construction and the money runs out." Full disclosure measures are also in the pipeline so people would know if they were buying a 'new' car which had sat on a lot for five years or had been returned by a previous customer and was not sold as second-hand but as new. Ms Marshall said the Transport Control Department had tightened up that loophole. Consumer Affairs report that two in five car windshields are shattered en route to Bermuda. Disclosure is about if an item gets dropped on the docks and is repaired before it gets sold - those sort of things the consumer is entitled to know."
August 27. Listening to people complain all day — it's not a job for the faint-hearted.The better they do, the more people complain. That's the odd reality for the hard-pressed staff of Consumer Affairs who have to traverse a potential minefield of angry customers and resentful retailers on a daily basis. Executive Director Karen Marshall said: "Sometimes it can be overwhelming in the end. There are days I have to tell my staff to talk a walk — people are becoming violent. Sometimes you can take it really personally. But if we weren't doing a good job we wouldn't be growing and people would stop ringing." And the work doesn't cease when staff are on a break. "We get stopped in the street. You could be having dinner and they come up to your table and tell you their problems. I have even had people figure out where I live and come to my home." Enforcement Officer Rhonda Daniels pointed out that Consumer Affairs wasn't there to beat up retailers but to ensure both buyers and sellers behaved properly. "You can have unethical business practices but also unethical consumers as well." People in the middle of a dispute have impersonated Consumer Affairs in a bid to hoodwink businesses into refunding money. Switching is another scourge practiced by shameless shoppers. "With ladies our tops don't always match our bottoms so they switch the pants from a size eight to go with the top of a size ten." Some have taken price labels from cheaper goods and put them on more expensive items. Some deliberately tamper with a faulty product and say it is faulty or defective. But for everyone who lies there's 20 who really need our help." Ms Marshall added: "Consumers are very lazy. They don't like to do their homework. They see something and buy it. They see it cheaper somewhere else and automatically think they are entitled to get their money back from the other store. People don't compare pricing or products." In the US shoppers who habitually demand refunds end up on a blacklist said Ms Daniels. The 'serial returners' phenomenon has yet to hit Bermuda. "But we do have the problem where consumers repeatedly make the same mistake." Consumer Affairs said householders needed to find out if a tradesmen was going to charge for travelling time, or the extra person who comes with them, or to dispose of the old item they were replacing — before they got a nasty shock when the bill came. Consumers are urged to get their terminology right as it could save them cash. An estimate is a rough ball-park figure on what something might cost. A quote is where some serious consideration of costs and time scales has been done. A law currently being worked on will stipulate how much a vendor can reasonably exceed their quote by. Another consumer-generated problem is young people signing up for cell phones without reading their contracts. When they defaulted on payment their name was sent to a collection agency who took an additional cut, pushing the debt up further. "We have an increase of calls on that. Teenagers talk on the phone all the time and then have a phenomenal cell phone bill they have to pay," said Ms Daniels. "People want us to assist and complain the fees are too high. If your bill is a $100 you get a bill from the collection agency saying you now owe $130." She urged those in the red to contact their cell provider and work out a repayment plan. Once it reaches the debt collection agency there was little that can be done. Consumer Affairs has also run campaigns for younger people warning them about the dangers of identity theft, falling behind on their rent and modifying their cars in a way which would compromise with the warranty. Car complaints are legion. Flashy autos built for belting down European motorways are a nightmare to maintain after months of chugging along Bermuda's gridlocked roads. Ms Marshall said: "The problem we have is Bermuda consumers are demanding so much more. High end cars which are really not suitable for Bermuda because of our stop and go. It is just a nightmare. "There is going to have to come a point when Bermuda retailers are going to have to stop meeting the demand. You go in five o'clock traffic at a snail's pace. Those things are just not good for the car." Replacement parts are exorbitant and services are needed more regularly. "People are just floored when they get their bills — even for just a service its $1,000. It's craziness." Peddlers can be another problem. Consumer Affairs are concerned some are getting their goods from middlemen rather than manufacturers, meaning warrantees don't hold. It's an important point when you are buying expensive mopeds or washing machines from a container. Consumers still have a right of refund if they buy poor quality goods from peddlers. But the consumer will have to take the peddler to court under the Sales of Good Act — and the difficulty is finding them again. Purchasers should buy items in their original packaging because it will often have important instructions, urged Consumer Affairs. Street sellers have brought in electrical items without ground wires from countries without safety standards. "They can harm people — we saw electrical saws without safety guards or ground wires," said Ms Marshall. Such dangerous kit was turning up on building sites where damp conditions could turn it lethal. Ms Marshall said: "Everyone has a right to earn a living and we don't want to disenfranchise anybody but there is a due diligence that needs to be done. If we have a recall it's very hard to find who sold what." And Ms Daniels added: "We are not being punitive. We are trying to ensure the products being sold to Bermuda residents are of a high standard." Now there are moves afoot — via the Small Business Development Corporation — to have designated 'peddlers areas' which will allow easier enforcement but also give the street traders themselves protection by giving them safety in numbers against any criminals looking to take advantage. People buying stuff at yard sales and on websites take their chances but it's not a case of 'anything goes' if the stakes are high. "But if you bought a second-hand boat for $100,000 and (there is a problem) with it you have recourse in court," said Ms Marshall. Consumers Affairs take a lot of complaints about Cablevision but have to refer them to the Telecommunications ministry. Ms Marshall points out: "Under their licensing all their channels have to be off for 24 hours, not just the one." Consumer Affairs sits on boards of ministries to press the case of the consumer and has amended numerous acts to make them more consumer friendly. "A lot of laws were really one-sided toward the retailers," said Ms Marshall. Landlord/tenant disputes are another large source of complaints. Consumers Affairs see it all — from tenants determined not to pay to landlords who enter their tenants apartments to watch TV and help themselves to the contents of the 'fridge. Handling recalls is another important function. Last year there were 122 such cases. Earlier this month there was a recall on Chinese toys and toothpaste. Ms Marshall said: "We have been saying for almost two years now we have a big problem with China — there really isn't the quality control, it's not the same standard as the rest of the world. "That's why you had Mattel with around 800 products which had to be recalled." But retailers are keen to buy Chinese products because they are cheaper. At the heart of the work of the Consumer Affairs is sorting out disputes. Everything from customers wanting to know if they can get a refund because they have changed their mind (the answer is no), to people who have had builders do a shoddy job and flee with their money. Complainers are urged to be truthful and allow reasonable time to get the problem fixed. "Consumers need to understand that every complaint takes hours and hours of investigation," said Ms Marshall who reports her team gets up to 15 complaints a day. And the caseload has also increased with customers wanting advice pre-purchase. Consumer Affairs promise to return calls within two business days but the hope is to improve on that with more staff. Dispute resolution requires the patience of a saint and the deduction skills of a detective said Ms Marshall. "You are going to get three different versions of the same story from everybody. You have got to somehow be able to identify the key issue. You are going to get a lot of anger and emotion. People not sticking to the facts but giving you everything under the sun which is not necessary. You try to get a win-win. A compromise where both parties are happy with the outcome. It takes a special type of person to keep going amid the daily flak but it has its own rewards. My desk is piled high with cases. If you didn't make a difference it would be the most depressing job in the world. A lot of people couldn't handle a job like this. But when you get it right people are really grateful. That makes it all worthwhile."
August 27. Bermuda could have its own celebrity chef soon. Island resident Ian Friedman, who was an executive chef at Cafe Cairo and Barracuda Grill, is currently in the final stage of interviews for Gordon Ramsay's FOX TV reality show "Hell's Kitchen". But he is also working on his own cooking show aimed at men. He has already shot the pilot of "Bachelor Pad" with business partner Scott Krol and they are shopping it to TV channels such as Bravo, Fox, Food Network and Spike TV.
August 27. Police urged the community to come forward with any information about the murder of national footballer Shaki Crockwell.Mr. Crockwell was found dead at 10.22 p.m. on the railway tracks near Loyal Hill, Devonshire, on Friday. He was shot in the neck. Police were tipped off by a mysterious phone call from an individual who did not leave his or her name. Police are urging that person to contact them and they are also asking anyone who spoke with the Mr. Crockwell in the days leading up to his death to contact them. Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley echoed the Police's call and urged the community to pull together and provide the police force with any information they have about the shooting. Mr. Crockwell worked at Dunkley's Dairy for a few years as a merchandising salesperson and Mr. Dunkley extended his condolences to the Crockwell family and his friends. "It has been a shock, the tragic way that he died," Mr. Dunkley said. "It is disappointing that we have lost another young person to violence. "I am appealing for people to work with the Police. It seems young people don't go to the Police with information in these circumstances. But we need to, as a community, work with the police. It does not benefit anybody if justice does not take the proper course. We have seen a rise in violent crime on this Island and its not good for tourism or international business but it is also bad for our young people who are growing up in a society where this is going on."
August 27. Detectives have today urged witnesses to break their silence and come forward to help after a 25-year-old man was shot dead on Friday.Shaki Crockwell was found lying in a pool of blood along the Railway Trail near Loyal Hill in Devonshire. He had received a single bullet wound to the neck. It emerged today that Mr. Crockwell, who was wearing a bullet proof vest when he died, was due to appear in Magistrates' Court this morning on charges of grievous bodily harm and having a bladed weapon. Police say they were alerted to his body by a 911 call from a member of the public but officers have been unable to trace the caller. They are appealing for witnesses to come forward with information. At a press conference today Det. Supt. Randy Liverpool said: It is important for members of the community to take an active role in assisting the Police, bearing in mind we can only act on matters with their assistance. Witnesses need to do their civic duty and come forward so this level of violence in our community can be arrested. Mr. Crockwell, who lived in Hamilton Parish, was wearing jeans, a green hooded top and a protective vest, when he was gunned down at 10.23 p.m. The father-of-two was a former striker with the National football team and the Bermuda Hogges, and also played for the Boulevard Blazers. Anyone with information is urged to call the Police on 299 4239 or the anonymous Crimestoppers hotline on 1 800 623 8477.
August 27. Police arrested six people in the early hours of Saturday morning for swimming naked and trespassing on the property of the Bacardi International headquarters on Pitts Bay Road. At around 4 a.m., officers arrived on scene only to discover a group of 20 people swimming in the company's landmark fountains — some only had on underwear while others were nude. The suspects' charges will include indecent exposure. Officers were not able to apprehend the other 14 people, as they managed to escape. Inquiries are ongoing.
August 27. Guns have been around in Bermuda for many years. According to the Bermuda Police Service, from 2003 to the present, there have been 37 incidents of firearms offences.But there have also been two gun-related murders on the Island during the past three years. Jason Lightbourne, 18, was the last victim of a gun shooting, on July 23 last year. He was shot and killed while behind the wheel of a car on Ord Road, in Paget. To date his killers have never been brought to justice, two people were arrested in connection with the crime, but they were eventually released. Police have poured many resources into the investigation, but claim to be road blocked by a lack of participation from potential witnesses. Chief Inspector Tracey Adams said at the time: "We are significantly hindered from progressing as a result of information that is being withheld, despite our persistence to seek the truth." It's been speculated that Mr. Lightbourne's murder was gang related. In another case, on April 27, 2003, college student Shaundae Jones, 20, was shot in the chest at point blank range in Dockyard. The motive behind his killing is unclear, but Mr. Jones was a witness in the murder trial of Tekle Zion Mallory and his best friend. At the time of the shooting Mr. Jones and his friends had just left Club Malabar when someone rushed up to the car he was in and shot. Mr. Jones' mother, Marsha Jones had stated previously: "I just can't see any more children die. "I feel like all of these children are mine, and I'm not talking about children from Warwick, Southampton or Somerset. I'm talking about everywhere." In June this year, an American couple, staying at a guest property, was robbed and beaten by gun-touting masked men. Police have since remained tight-lipped about that investigation. It is understood they were staying at an east end guesthouse, though Police refuse to say where exactly. In the early hours of the morning, the thugs struck, threatening and beating the man and his wife before making off with cash, jewellery and a digital camera. The husband suffered fractured ribs and his wife suffered bruising to her face. Both were treated at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and flew home later that day. In a special report a year ago, this paper had reported the going rate for guns on the streets was around $3,000 in what was described a seller's market with owners more keen to rent them out than permanently lose valuable protection. One well-placed source told The Royal Gazette: "Some people have guns and won't let them go but some who have them see it as a business. The guns usually come in with drug shipments. There are 101 different ways. "People monitor, if they see a lot of Police activity at the Airport they use the ports, if they see a lot of activity on the docks they use the Airport. A lot of them use it for protection," the source added, "not necessarily to have gun fights. The thinking is if the other guy has got one, I want one."
August 28. Amid the red and black graffiti paying tribute to slain Shaki Crockwell, one word said it all - why?The 25-year-old was gunned down on Friday with a single bullet wound to the back of the neck. Police discovered his body in a pool of blood on a remote stretch of the Railway Trail. At the time of his death Mr. Crockwell was unarmed but wore a bulletproof vest, suggesting that in his final days he feared a violent attempt on his life. Yesterday, detectives could not rule on a motive and refused to comment whether his murder was related to an alleged assault with a machete earlier this month. Mr. Crockwell was due to appear in Magistrates' Court yesterday on charges of grievous bodily harm and possession of a bladed weapon. His father Danny Crockwell last night hit out at the machete allegations, saying his son was putting his difficult times behind him. His lawyer Charles Richardson said he had denied the charges. Speaking at a press conference, Detective Superintendent Randy Liverpool said: "At this point in this inquiry we cannot connect his death to any appearance in court." Police added that rumors of gang or drug-related activity were "speculation". "We do not have information to that effect. We cannot speculate and will pursue all lines of inquiry," said Police Commissioner George Jackson. As a former striker for the national team, the Bermuda Hogges, and captain of the Boulevard Blazers, Mr. Crockwell was renowned for his talents on the football pitch. Yesterday the Crockwell family home in Middletown was surrounded by graffiti emblazoned on the roads and walls of buildings. The tributes said 'RIP Shak', 'Blaze' and 'Stay hard and kick it', but also featured the 'Superman' sign - Mr. Crockwell's symbol after his goal-scoring victory practice of pulling up his shirt and running around the pitch, arms extended. Among the messages from family and friends were the words 'One Shaq, gone in body, here in spirit, always in our hearts' - testament to the outpouring of respect and affection in his neighbourhood. Police Commissioner Jackson said yesterday: "On behalf of the Bermuda Police Service I would like to express our condolences to the family of Shaki Crockwell in light of their recent loss. Another young Bermudian has been murdered in what appears to be part of the growing prevalence of growing violence in our community." Det. Supt. Liverpool of the Serious and Organized Crime Division outlined the facts behind the killing, saying: "At approximately 10.23 p.m. on the evening of August 24, Police received a 911 call from a member of the public notifying us that a body was lying on the Railway Trail at the Loyal Hill area of Devonshire. Within minutes Police responded to that call and discovered the body of Shaki Eugene Crockwell, 25-years-old, from Hamilton Parish, lying in an unresponsive state in a pool of blood. At that time it was noted that Mr. Crockwell was wearing a protective vest of some sort. He was ruled dead by a doctor shortly thereafter. Several lines of inquiry are being pursued at this moment," he said. "At this time we would like to appeal to anyone who has been in contact with the deceased during the days leading up to his untimely death, and especially anyone to whom he might have expressed some kind of concern for his safety, taking into consideration at the time the body was found he was wearing some sort of protective vest." Police are particularly anxious to trace the 911 caller who alerted them to Mr. Crockwell's body. "We are very keen to speak to that person and ask that he comes forward to speak to us," said Det. Supt. Liverpool. They also want to hear from anyone who was in the Loyal Hill area between 8.35 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. on Friday. "We would like to appeal to anyone with any information of any vehicle seen going into or leaving that area during that time," said Det. Supt. Liverpool. "I would like to thank the members of the community who have assisted us so far. We've had several people who've cooperated with the Police and provided information. We have a few lines of inquiry and they will be pursued with tenacity until we can identify who is the perpetrator of this heinous crime." Police Commissioner Jackson said: "It is important for members of the community to take an active role in assisting the Police, bearing in mind we can only act on matters with their assistance. Witnesses need to do their civic duty and come forward so this level of violence in our community can be arrested." Last night Mr. Crockwell's father Danny said: "I'm still shaken up, it's like a dream and I haven't woken up yet. Twenty-five years I had him and it's just gone like that." Shawn Crockwell, United Bermuda Party chairman who is a second cousin to Shaki, said: "We were quite close. He was a fun guy and was the love of his father's life. The underlying issue here is the growing trend of violent crime in Bermuda and use of firearms. What we have to do now is ensure that his loss isn't in vain and that we can use it in some way to resolve conflicts without the use of violence." Anglican Bishop of Bermuda the Rt. Red. Ewen Ratteray said: "I am deeply shocked and saddened by the death of this young man. And I assure his family and friends of my prayers for them at this sad time. Those who know about this and other similar incidents know what they ought to do, that is, have the courage to speak. Concerted efforts need to be made to eliminate guns from our society. The community has to make it clear by all means possible that it abhors such violence and will not tolerate it any longer." Mr. Crockwell, who lived in Hamilton Parish, was wearing jeans and a green hooded top at the time of his death. Anyone with information is urged to call the Police on 299 4239 or the anonymous Crimestoppers hotline on 1 800 623 8477.
August 28. He is the man in charge of the biggest Bermuda-owned life insurance company in the domestic market, which also happens to be the second largest local company in terms of capitalization on the Bermuda Stock Exchange.Argus Group chief Gerald Simons has headed the organisation since 1998. Although he did not join the ever-growing life insurance, pensions and investments company until 1971, the Bermudian's route to the top started back in 1966. At that time he was the first black teller to work for Butterfield Bank in St. George's. The bank even took the unusual step of providing him with a Mobylette scooter so he could make his daily commute from Warwick to the East End. His grandmother one day took a call from someone called Stewart who asked if Mr. Simons would get in touch with him at his office. "I did not have a friend called Stewart who worked in an office, but I called and it turned out to be JEP Stewart, who was founder and managing director of Argus Group," recalled Mr. Simons. The Argus boss had been alerted to the young Mr. Simons by a mutual friend, Colonel Tucker at Bermuda Regiment. The Colonel had been asked if he knew of any bright Bermudian recruits with potential to reach management level in the local company. Mr. Simons had not only secured the runner-up best Regiment Recruit award of 1966, but had notably required leave of service to take his A-level Chemistry and Maths exams. He was already heading for the University of Manitoba on a Government teacher-training scholarship, but Mr. Stewart made a counter offer of a scholarship on the proviso that he would return to Bermuda to work with Argus. "He said if I came back to Bermuda and passed the relevant insurance exams I could become a manager and possibly CEO," said Mr. Simons. He studied economics at the University of Western Ontario and worked at Argus as a summer student, moving around the health, life and general insurance areas, this was to prove useful in later years as it meant he was one of the few managers with experience across the board at Argus. While a student he was involved in the university's campus newspaper, where he pursued one of his life-long hobbies photography, and he was also a member of the debating group and the choir. In 1971 Mr. Simons became a full-time employee with Argus, working as a clerk and then as a salesman and supervisor. His photographic skills came in useful when a re-shoot of pictures for the 1973 company report was needed. When Peter Parker, who had acted as Mr. Simons' mentor at the company, resigned in 1977, it was Mr. Simons who moved up to the role of manager of Bermuda Life Insurance Company. He had by this stage completed the Life Office Management Association (LOMA) programme and been made a Fellow. Life became very busy for Mr. Simons from 1982 onwards as he assumed the role of group sales manager and chaired a number of internal committees. At the same time he entered politics, first as an appointed senator and later elected as a MP in 1985. He returned to the Senate in 1993 and finally retired from politics in 1995 when Premier John Swan stepped down. During his years in Government he had been, amongst other responsibilities, Education Minister, Minister for Community and Cultural Affairs and Minister for the Environment. Juggling a leading company position with a political life seems a tall order, but it was one Mr. Simons was willing to fulfill - and with the blessing of Argus, which had, and continues to have, a supportive culture towards it and its staff serving the community. "Bermuda suffers from a shortage of people, so there is a requirement to double-up. It is typical of a small island," said Mr. Simons. "Argus recognizes the duty of each of us to serve the community and we are encouraged to do so. For me it was a demanding combination, especially when holding down ministerial responsibilities. Around Budget time I was spending four-and-a-half days a week in Government." Leaving politics in the mid-1990s, at a time when he had added the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA) initials to his qualifications, also put him in pole position to become CEO of the company. In 1996 he was awarded the OBE by the Queen and the following year was named Argus' CEO designate, taking on the full role in 1998. "Being the head of the organisation gives an opportunity to put a stamp on things. One of the things I try to do is create an environment in which every employee can give of his or her best," said Mr. Simons. He meets every new employee and encourages them to share their positive past work experiences with their new team members. "We have recruited people who have worked in fast food and they've become junior clerks and then moved into the international business sector. One of the concerns is losing good employees to the international sector, but that sector has grown so large that we can hire from them so it works both ways." When he took over as CEO Argus was made a profit of $11 million and had 94 employees, today it has around 175 employees and made a profit in the past year of $37m. Mr. Simons is enjoying his stint as head of company and has no retirement plans as yet.
August 28. Two incidents caused Gerald Simons to take his health and fitness seriously as he reached his 40s. Keen to take his two young sons out on the water Gerald Simons bought an outboard motor to fit to his boat but, unlike the character on the publicity material for the motor who seemed capable of carrying it with ease, Mr. Simons struggled to lift the thing. Around the same time, aged 40, he had set out to play tennis with a friend and within 10 minutes was sitting on a bench trying to catch his breath. "I wondered what I would be like at 50 - if I made it. So I joined a gym and started working on my fitness," he said. The health drive eventually led him to compete in the May 24 Marathon Derby race, not once, but four times during the 1990s. Healthy living is something that Argus Group promotes for its employers and its customers. CEO Mr. Simons lives that philosophy. "Nowadays I do a walking and I have taken up golf in anticipation of my retirement. We are going to defend our TB & Cancer tournament trophy at Belmont Hills next month. Over the past eight years (as CEO) I have received these invitations to play golf and I'd look around to see who could make a team, then it occurred to me that they really like it when the head of the company shows up. So I took it up, my wife plays it much more seriously however." His other main pastimes are photography and choral singing. In the early 1970s he worked closely with the National Trust taking pictures of the early Palm Sunday walks and promoting its work. His choral singing has been a lifelong pursuit, including the church chorus at St. Mary's Church, Berkeley Institute choir, president of the choir of University of Western Ontario and today as a member of the Wesleyan Methodists' Ambassadors of Harmony. He also enjoys snorkeling, gardening and cooking and is married to Sheilagh Robertson. The couple have two sons, Duncan and Andrew, both of whom are now in their 20s.
August 28. Bermuda Hogges president Shaun Goater yesterday said the death of former Hogges and national team striker Shaki Crockwell had left the football community in shock.Goater and coach Kyle Lightbourne contacted all Mr. Crockwell's Hogges team-mates to break the news and offer words of comfort over the weekend. He said all the Hogges players had indicated they would show up for his funeral to show support for his devastated family. Former Manchester City star Goater learned about Mr. Crockwell's death when a friend telephoned him at 8 a.m. on Saturday. "I was like: 'Are you serious?' I got on the phone and called Kyle, who hadn't even known, and we both started calling the team," said Goater. "We said that we wanted all the boys to attend his funeral because he was part of our inaugural season. We will support his family in any way we can. It's a shock to the football community. He was so into his football; dedicated to his football. He was bubbly: that was his character. When the team was not playing so well, he would get everyone else going. He was the life and soul of the dressing room. That was some of his attributes. That's why we got him involved with the Hogges." Police say Mr. Crockwell was shot in the neck and killed on the Railway Trail in Devonshire on Friday night. His friends and family say the tragedy happened as Mr. Crockwell was trying to put a difficult past behind him. Yesterday, Goater echoed Lightbourne's call for other young sportsmen on the Island to learn the lesson to steer clear of confrontation. "I have no idea why somebody might have done what they have done," he said. "I just try to pass on to these players: you have the opportunity, whatever you do, to be involved in something positive. This is what we are able to offer our players. You get to do what you love. Because we are playing football everyday, everyday, you are staying fit so you can't go out. I just hope that if there's anyone in any situation like that, that they see it and think of Shaki. I think he was trying to move away from the crowd. I hope the younger ones can learn from this and hopefully make good decisions." Sammy DeGraff played football with Mr. Crockwell since the pair were youngsters and was his team-mate for both the national side and Bermuda Hogges. "I just came back on the Island and a friend of mine called me and said he had been shot. I couldn't believe it," said DeGraff. "People have been calling everyone, shocked. It's just kind of like: 'Man, why did that have to happen?' That's life I guess. He was trying to get himself together and starting to come into his own. He was a joker, a very sociable kind of guy, easy to get along with. It's just unfortunate." Referring to Mr. Crockwell's progress on the football field, where he had begun to fulfill his early promise, DeGraff said: "He had a good domestic season and he started to become a regular in the national team. "He's going to be missed, not just by Boulevard (Blazers), but by Bermuda."
August 28. The murder of Shaki Crockwell has pushed the lack of a witness protection programme on the Island back to the forefront.Yesterday detectives appealed for witnesses to break their silence, reminding them of their "civic duty" to report information. A culture of silence envelopes Bermuda, and for the families of those murdered, they can spend years waiting for justice. The parents of Shaundae Jones, 20, and Jason Lightbourne, 18, are still waiting for witnesses to come forward. Mr. Jones was shot in the chest leaving a nightclub at Dockyard on April 27, 2003. Mr. Lightbourne was gunned down in Ord Road, Paget, just over a year ago, on July 23, 2006. Despite a $50,000 reward and guarantee of anonymity, no one has yet come forward with information leading to Mr. Lightbourne's killer. Detectives in Bermuda say they are constantly frustrated at the community's silence towards violent crime. Yesterday Detective Superintendent Randy Liverpool encouraged the Government to further their efforts towards establishing a witness protection scheme. Det. Supt. Liverpool said: "It is well known that we have been having difficulties with witnesses wanting to come forward in an inquiry. The Police Service would love to find a way to change that and a lot of consultation is being looked at the moment. A witness protection scheme is one of the things being considered and that is something we would welcome if it would encourage people to come forward." Shawn Crockwell, United Bermuda Party chairman and a second cousin of Shaki Crockwell, said: "In a small community it's always difficult and people can't be relocated so easily on Bermuda. "If the Government does have a proposal that could provide better protection, I would certainly welcome it, but it has to be protection that is tangible and real." In May, the Ministry of Justice organized a conference aimed at 'Modernizing the Criminal Justice system in Bermuda'. It discussed implementing a 'No Witness, No Justice' victim and witness care programme on the Island, following a similar initiative in the UK in 2003. At the time Justice Minister and Attorney General Philip Perinchief said vulnerable witnesses and victims of crime could be moved abroad prior to trials to prevent intimidation. Continued protection may also be considered under legislative measures to improve the Island's criminal justice system. A Government spokeswoman said last night that a national victim and witness care programme was under review. She said: "A committee has been formed to look at establishing a 'No Witness, No Justice' programme and a victim and witness care unit."
August 28. The lawyer of slain national footballer Shaki Crockwell has hit out at the reprisal culture which has led to a recent spate of gun killings which he said often had the marks of planned executions. And Charles Richardson said pressure was on the Police to crack the latest case after failing to solve the last two shooting murders — the slaying of 18-year-old Jason Lightbourne in Paget last July and the murder of college student Shaundae Jones in Dockyard in 2003. Mr. Richardson appeared in court yesterday as the Department of Public Prosecutions went through the formality of dropping charges against Mr. Crockwell for possessing a bladed article and wounding. Charges which he had denied, and which the victim's father last night also denied. Mr. Richardson said he only knew Mr. Crockwell briefly and added: "I didn't get the impression from him anyone was out to get him." But he warned Bermuda was on the slide into a culture of gun violence and revenge. He told The Royal Gazette: "There seems to be a propensity to carry out what appears to be planned executions with impunity. That should be of real concern to all people. "This island is way too small for this type of — and I use the word reservedly — psychotic mindset. "This gangsterism is not uniquely American or uniquely Caribbean but it is reminiscent of the type of things you see regularly in those jurisdictions. It concerns me a culture appears to be developing in Bermuda's underworld with planned executions — a standard operating procedure where people among us consider it proper to carry out these executions." He urged people not to allow such violent bloodlust to flourish and take root. While such incidents had nothing to do with the vast majority of the country everyone felt less safe as a result. A failure to tackle serious social issues such as single parenthood, the disenfranchisement and disillusionment of young black men was partly to blame said Mr. Richardson and the problem would go on unless society got a grip. But he said young black men both here and abroad were taking the attitude that if they were disrespected in any way then they would retaliate extremely violently. Getting rid of the reprisal mentality was difficult said Mr. Richardson who said he was once of the same mindset. Mr. Richardson was given a 15-year jail sentence in 1995 for his part in the infamous Spinning Wheel nightclub shooting before earning a law degree while in prison. He said he realised some would brand him a hypocrite for speaking out against guns in the light of his violent past. "Every time something like this happens I feel a sense of responsibility and guilt. I cannot help but question whether or not the incident I was responsible for back in 1994 in any way contributed to anybody at anytime every considering doing something like this. The possibility is yes. It causes me to reflect." He said no person should have the power to decide whether another lived or died.
August 28. MTV is planning to broadcast Bermuda's first Run For Freedom — creating potentially hundreds of millions of viewers for the historic event. A boss at the global entertainment network told The Royal Gazette it hopes to film the run — designed to raise awareness about modern day slavery — as part of its campaign against human trafficking. MTV Europe executive director Tom Ehr said he hoped a slot could be found on the company's Europe-wide news section, which hits about 180 million homes with 360 million potential viewers. It comes after run organizer Charlotte Wilberforce, a great-great-great granddaughter of slave emancipator William Wilberforce, got in touch with Mr. Ehr. MTV hopes to link its coverage of Bermuda's Run For Freedom with a simultaneous run in London, also organized by Ms Wilberforce. "We hope to get a news team to cover things at both ends of the run," said Mr. Ehr. "I'm hoping to support it in whatever way we can. It's right up our alley. I had met Charlotte's sister, who is a photographer and was doing something around the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. Then I spoke to Charlotte and it sounded like something we would like to cover. If we get a piece on MTV's Europe-wide news, that's potentially 180 million households and you can double that for the potential viewers. I don't want to guarantee it's going to happen, but it's what I would like to happen. I'm sure we can do things on-line in the run-up to the event as well." The three or four mile run takes place in or around Hamilton on March 23, the nearest Sunday to March 25, the anniversary of William Wilberforce's 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, which paved the way for the end of slavery in Bermuda 27 years later. It intends to put pressure on global leaders to end the captivity of more than 12 million men, women and children across the world, while raising cash for anti-slavery coalition Stop The Traffik. Ms Wilberforce set up a Run For Freedom in London in March this year to mark the bicentenary of her ancestor's law. She launched a plan for a similar project on the Island after arriving in Pembroke for work reasons. Mr. Ehr said a three or four team crew would probably spend a day or so filming, with footage likely to be aired the day afterwards. He said MTV's anti-trafficking campaign aims to increase prevention of the trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation in Europe. "Our campaign is mainly directed at young people who are often the targets of traffickers," said Mr. Ehr. "That's what we are about: trying to raise awareness and making sure young people know what is happening. Our focus is mainly sex trafficking in Europe. We direct a lot of stuff at young people in the former Soviet Union. We want to provide them with information and encourage young people to watch out for each other as well. We also want to get the message across to young men who may be thinking of paying for sex." Ms Wilberforce yesterday explained that she had learned about MTV's campaign, Exit, while at a Stop The Traffik concert earlier this year. "Their approach and thought that goes into their research and help for others was quite commendable," said Ms Wilberforce. "I think that because they genuinely care, to come on board with Bermuda proves that our voices can be heard across the globe. I am thrilled that they have agreed to be involved and again with many community members and organizations being involved in Bermuda the sense of unity is very strong." The Royal Gazette has been marking the Slave Trade Act's bicentenary with its Break The Chains campaign, which calls for governments across the world to stamp out modern day slavery. We are urging readers to sign Anti-Slavery International's on-line petition on the subject. So far, more than 36,700 have put their names to the list.
August 28. The mother of 2003 shooting victim Shaundae Jones today urged Shaki Crockwell's devastated family to fight for justice for their slain loved one.Marsha Jones is dismayed that nobody has ever been convicted of gunning down her own 20-year-old son at point blank range in Dockyard four years ago. Today she passed a message of support to Mr. Crockwell's grief stricken family and urged them never to give up until his murderer is held to account for Friday night's fatal shooting. Ms Jones, who has worked tirelessly to try to get to the bottom of her son's killing, told The Royal Gazette: "Right away, I start thinking about the pain the family go through. It's a long, drawn out, painful process. I hope they have some kind of satisfaction and they get the culprits. I'm so, so sorry, but they have to keep on top of things. They have to keep fighting. Until I get my justice, I will continue to speak out. You can't bring him back, but at least find who was responsible and let him stand in a court of law. Get up, open your eyes and fight for your children. They are not here to fight for themselves, so you have to do their fighting for them. Somebody does. They need to try to get the information they can because not everyone talks to the Police. See what they can find out and pass on to the authorities. Don't give up. Don't sit around and do nothing." Mr. Crockwell, a 25-year-old national footballer, was shot in the neck and killed on the Railway Trail, Devonshire, before 10.20 p.m. Detectives, who say the victim was unarmed but was wearing a bulletproof vest, have not yet revealed a motive. Police said they had received a very encouraging response to calls for help from the public with their murder investigation, but declined to reveal information about any fresh leads. Ms Jones was off the Island when news spread over the weekend and learned of the killing on her return. "I just feel so bad for the family. When I heard, I just cried," she said. "They have got to look at his clothes and belongings. One day you are here, the next you are gone and you don't understand why. I will pray for them, they really need it." Bermuda College student Mr. Jones was shot after he left Club Malabar with friends in a car on April 27, 2003. The Island suffered one more shooting murder since then, when 18-year-old Jason Lightbourne was killed in Paget last July.
August 28. Muscle-flexing and empire building rather than imminent attack was the motive behind the stockpile of weapons unearthed in the central parishes recently, a street source has said.Police uncovered a stash of Molotov cocktails, swords, machetes and metal pipes as well as black clothing and bandanas in two locations after a tip-off about two armed men. One person has been arrested in connection with the caches but Police have stayed tight-lipped where they were found this month but warned of a rise in bladed weapon violence. However one person with a knowledge of Bermuda's underworld said the stash had been acquired as a show of strength as two central gangs pooled their resources to control more drug turf. "It is a case of individual making themselves more important within their own turf. It has nothing to do with the average citizen." Asked how the secret stash could build a gang leader's image the source said: "Within these groups nothing is secret in Bermuda. People are boasting." And as the gangs got a bigger slice of the drug action they needed more weaponry said the source. "It's like any business - the stronger it becomes, the more they want to protect it. Guns put the gang members further ahead in the race to get street kudos. They will do anything to get one - whether they have bullets is another thing. Gang members who had lived in the States were copying those lifestyles when they returned. These weapons are the easiest to make - the Molotov cocktail is some gas in a bottle with a chord - rap videos show them regularly."
August 28. An opposition Senator called on Government to reveal the programming schedule and content for its new TV service due to be launched within a few days. Despite The Royal Gazette consistently asking questions on the nature of the content, programme scheduling, exact budget and staffing of the new TV station details are unknown. Last year, Government allotted $840,000 for the project and in this year's Budget set aside $690,000 and five full-time staff. In the past Government has hinted that Bermudian history and other public educational initiatives would be included in the station's programming lineup. Opposition spokesperson for Telecommunications, Senator E.T. (Bob) Richards, said that since the Island already has a functioning media, which is privately owned, with the purpose of being independent and objective, the TV station proposal was "unheard of". Sen. Richards was particularly interested to know the exact content of the station, the number of staff it has now and the amount of staff the channel will require in future. Also, the terms of governance of the channel and a clearly defined purpose. He also questioned the exact motivation for the station and said the UBP was interested to know the level of access the Opposition would have to it, as well as alternative viewpoints, once it goes live. Sen. Richards added: "To spend the taxpayers money on a Government TV station, in a first-world country as Bermuda, is just unheard of. Government has proposed that the station will be something like the BBC in the UK, which is government owned. But the BBC has total editorial independence from the Government there. The BBC has flogged past Governments and the current one, royally, in the past and have taken delight in doing so. It does not appear that this TV station will be of that nature. Then they (Government) gave the example of Barbados, where they have the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which is government owned as well. I shot that down because that particular TV station was put in place when there was no TV stations at all in Barbados, in other words, the CBC brought TV to Barbados, there were no private sector TV stations at all when that came.'' Sen. Richards said the entire project was a waste of money that could be better spent on other issues in Bermuda such as crime-fighting and housing. He added: "In Bermuda we have about 65,000 people, three TV stations, four when you count Fresh TV and it seems to me that there's no need for another TV station other than to propagate Government propaganda, it's a total waste of money. We could be building houses, improving education and fighting crime. "By the time it's all said and done, it's going to be a fair chunk of change and that money can be better used elsewhere for Bermuda." In the House of Assembly former Premier Scott described the project this way: "The Government feels it prudent and necessary to speak on a regular basis directly to the people of this country, in an unmediated and unedited fashion.'' Yesterday, when contacted by The Royal Gazette, Beverley Lottimore, the head of DCI said: "At the moment we are pleased with the progress we are making but there are still things to be completed." The station was initially due to go live in June but that time frame was pushed back to September.
August 28. Work has begun on the new Safety and Emissions Testing Station in North Street, Transport Control Department (TCD) announced yesterday. Traffic and parking restrictions will be in place while construction takes place at the property. These include:
TCD says ongoing construction is not expected to disrupt normal day to day operations and apologizes to any inconvenience caused by the restrictions.
August 29. C Travel CEO Carl Paiva defended Zoom from the criticism it has received in recent weeks. The low cost airline has come under fire for delays and a cancelled flight this week due to mechanical problems. But Mr. Paiva believes Zoom has turned the corner and is backing it to deliver a reliable service in the future. He pointed to the fact that the flights are 90 percent full as an indicator that things are going in the right direction. "I talk to them almost daily via email and I am most impressed with the way they have dealt with these issues," he said. "They have exceeded my expectation and I think they have exceeded their own expectations and that is reflected in the numbers of passengers they have had." Although Zoom has been operating for less than three months, it has already flown 3,000 customers, but only received 70 complaints, according to Mr. Paiva. "Seventy complaints may not seem high, but when you look at the ratio it is not low," he said. "But, equally, I think they have had bad press when they had delays in the past because a new product such as Zoom is always going to be focused on closely as opposed to the legacy carriers who have been around for a long time and have similar problems, because it is the norm." And he reckons that people should focus on the positives rather than dwell on the previous problems. "I have been concerned about that, but we need to focus on what they have done for Bermuda," he said. "And this is in terms of people coming to Bermuda, eating in our restaurants and staying in our hotels." Most importantly, Mr. Paiva said, Zoom are now sitting up and taking notice of what their customers and travel agents such as C Travel are saying. "They really do listen to us," he said. "We had about 25 people that have travelled on Zoom from here and they have been most impressed with the carriers. People have got to realize that this is a carrier that is focused on leisure travel - what costs you, maybe, $7,000 for premium class on another carrier may cost $1,000 on Zoom - you have got to keep in mind that they are a low cost carrier. They have only been around since 2002 and they have been most successful in that short space of time and we have had some good feedback from our customers about them."
August 29. Proposed legislative changes to the way charities are governed will be the subject of a public meeting tonight.According to Minister of Social Rehabilitation Dale Butler, a "full and frank discussion of the impact of the proposed changes" will take place at the event, which kicks off at 6 p.m at the Cathedral Hall in Hamilton. The discussion is the final round of public consultation on proposed changes to administration of charities. Mr. Butler said: "I encourage everyone with an interest in charities in Bermuda to attend this important meeting. Whether members of a charity, contributors to charity or beneficiaries of charity, this discussion is part of the public consultation the Ministry of Social Rehabilitation is committed to in our desire to ensure Bermuda is well served by the more than 400 charities currently registered on the Island." Earlier this month, Mr. Butler warned charities about failing to file their annual accounts. He told a press conference that almost a hundred of Bermuda's 408 registered charities have failed to disclose their finances to Government - despite a Senate report in June declaring them delinquent, and the risk of losing their registered status. The Minister said he is keen to get feedback before he makes recommendations to Cabinet on topics including financial reporting and reporting methods.
August 29. Rude retailers are a constant source of complaints say Consumer Affairs staff but they also say customers need to know their rights and not be so willing to be trampled on.The watchdog body spoke out after statistics show complaints across the board are on the rise, jumping seven percent to 985 last year. Enforcement officer Rhonda Daniels said: "We get a lot of calls about customer service retailers being rude. But the majority want to work it out." She said complaining customers thought they had addressed their problem just by taking it up with the sales person but dealing with the manager was vital. "The salesperson probably doesn't have the authority to resolve a complaint. They will just tell you what the store policy is. We feel customers want us to do the work for them." Her colleague Karen Marshall said: "Bermudians don't like confrontation, we don't like to deal with issues. If we can get someone else to deal with them that's great. We see a little bit more aggression but we don't speak up for what's right. If they get shot down a couple of times then that's the end." However, sometimes customers go too far the other way which is equally unhelpful. "Instead of going in a calm but forceful manner they yell and scream and throw something at people. That's not doing it right." But the pair agree some stores need to brush up on their understanding of how shoppers might feel if they are sold an unsatisfactory item. Ms Daniels said: "Retailers may have an idea customer service is 'Good morning, how are you? Here is our product, goodbye.' Their only idea of customer service is to ensure the product doesn't come back, it is off their shelf. Customer services is not just prior to you buying the product. It is the after-sales service. How is that treated when they come back with an issue?" And Ms Marshall adds: "Retailers are very poor with that. Some of them are getting better. But the poorest really don't want to know you when something has gone wrong." Sometimes frontline staff weren't told store policies, others were told all about good customer service but refused to take note. But the CAB believes it has made inroads with retailers because they will now call for advice when dealing with difficult customers. "For us that's a key of success, they want us to come in on training and talk to them," said Ms Marshall. "I think retailers are hurting. I think they are trying to make sure they keep customers. But I do think they need to pull up their socks with customer service. But the other problem is the type of people they can hire for that wage." Customers are often perplexed about why guarantees aren't always honored. Ms Marshall explained: "A lot of retailers aren't buying into the manufacturers warranty because their customs duty doubles. They pay duty when they ship it in and they pay duty when they ship it out. "Any warranty ceases to exist when it travels overseas so you have to buy in to it. Some companies do buy into the warranty to a point. They don't buy the full coverage. You are not going to find a retailer with clothing is going to buy into a manufacturers warranty." That was why retailers often did their own repairs. A 15 percent 'restocking fee' deducted from refunds has become common in the computer industry and was now filtering down to various other retail arms. Ms Daniels said people were angry with the deduction. "But businesses spend more money to re-sell a product. Either because it is out of the packaging or it's now an old product so will now have to be sold at a discount." Ms Marshall said store policies which might only give you a few days to return a defective item didn't override the law. Under the Sale of Goods Act 2002 goods must of satisfactory quality, be safe and free from defect. The goods must be as described and be fit for their purpose and they should work for a reasonable amount of time. "The Sale of Goods Act is there to help them. A lot of people don't know the law, which is sad because you should actually know the laws in your own country. It is not that difficult." Bermudians are often shocked about the prices they pay in stores here. The Consumer Protection Act protects against gouging, but it requires significant overcharging, a $25 item when everyone else is charging $1 for something very similar. Not surprisingly no can remember it ever being enforced.
August 29. Governor Sir John Vereker today called for murder victim Shaki Crockwell's family and friends to do everything they can to help Police find his killer.Sir John spoke of his shock at Mr. Crockwell's shooting and pledged Government House's willingness to provide outside assistance in the murder investigation. However, he stressed the only way to crack the case was for people with information about the death to come forward. Mr. Crockwell's body was found by Police on the Railway Trail, Devonshire, on Friday night. He had been shot in the neck. Witnesses' reluctance to speak has been partly blamed for the failure to convict anyone for Bermuda's two previous shooting murders, Shaundae Jones in 2003 and Jason Lightbourne last year. Speaking at the swearing in of new Director of Public Prosecutions Rory Field at Government House yesterday, Sir John said: "The Police cannot bring to justice those responsible for this and other violent crimes without help from the public. Successful prosecutions require more than well-founded suspicion; they require hard evidence. The assistance the Commissioner needs most at this time is not assistance from outside Bermuda; it is assistance from those within the circle of family, friends and associates surrounding those such as Shaundae Jones, Jason Lightbourne and now Shaki Crockwell, who have met tragically early deaths."
August 29. The Telecommunications Ministry is investigating CableVision after complaints from viewers over the continual loss of channels. Fed-up TV fans have become sick of flicking to their favorite channel only to be greeted by a notice saying there is a service interruption. Consumer Affairs reported this week that the problem had been raised for years by frustrated viewers. And Acting Telecommunications Director Patricia DeShields said: "Yes, we have got complaints and we are investigating." But she denied rumors that CableVision didn't have the rights to some channels. She said: "CableVision does have the licence to operate as they do." However she said she was unable to reveal how many complaints had been relieved and she added that only CableVision and not satellite channel company WOW was being investigated. Bermuda CableVision general manager Terry Roberson said: "We experience reception difficulties with certain channels from time to time because of Bermuda's remote location. However, we address these concerns immediately as they happen." He said following the first part of CableVision's satellite refurbishment earlier this year the company was about to begin phase two. Satellite specialists will be brought in to assist local technicians to fine tune satellite dishes for higher quality signals. Mr. Roberson added: "Our goal continues to be to improve channel availability for our customers, and we apologies to our customers for any inconvenience." However there was no word on when the work would be completed. Consumer Affairs staff said CableVision viewers are unable to claim a refund unless all the channels are out for at least 24 hours.
August 29. Cheeky youngsters who hit the headlines after skinny dipping in the Bacardi fountains have posted pictures of their escapade on an internet forum.According to the Police, six people were arrested for indecent exposure in the early hours of Saturday for swimming naked and trespassing on the property of the Bacardi International headquarters on Pitts Bay Road. They said around 20 people were seen swimming in the company's landmark fountains - some only had on underwear while others were nude. The other 14 managed to escape. Now the group has posted pictures of the daring mass dip on the popular internet social site Facebook, calling their group "I have swam/been arrested in the Bacardi fountain!" and claiming far more people were involved than the Police said. Boasting 31 members as of yesterday, the page is listed as being for those with a common interest in "sexuality," appears to be mainly comprised of college-age locals, and greets members with the words: "Welcome fellow criminals and swimmers of the fountain!" It explains: "Around 40 people attended the pool party at the fountain on Friday 24th August, many escaped the clutches of the popo, an unlucky six got booked." It describes the mischievous episode as: "Running full speed to the Bacardi fountain after a complete mash up in town with a brigade of troops following you." Along with pictures of the young people reveling in the water dressed in very little, messages paying tribute to the skinny dippers are popping up on the site. "Congrats. You all made it to the second page of The Royal Gazette. They tried to tone down your numbers to 20 though. Too bad I showed up 10 minutes late...just in time to catch you being taken away in the back of the cruisers," said one, in reference to our original story on Monday. Another simply comments: "We're celebrities!" It was unclear yesterday whether the young people involved will find themselves in hot water over their cold water adventure - with a Police spokesman saying charges may be pressed, depending on how seriously Bacardi views the incident. A spokeswoman for the company said: "Bacardi Limited has not made up its mind. They are just now assessing any damage that may have occurred during the incident. Once we assess the situation, we will determine the next steps."
August 29. Herbert Tatem was just 16 years old when he found himself manning a machine gun at St. David's, guarding Bermuda against the Nazis. Now 85, he is still waiting for the benefits to which he is entitled for six years of service on the home front during World War Two.For decades, veterans who defended the Island rather than serving overseas were not recognized for their efforts, a situation addressed earlier this year when Government announced they would be entitled to newly-increased pension payments along with those who served abroad. The announcement placed heavy emphasis on the fact that black war veterans, some of whom were denied payments because of their race and others because they served at home, would finally be paid what they are due. Mr. Tatem, from Paget, said that as a white veteran who served with the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps, the Bermuda Volunteer Engineers, the Royal Navy at HMS Malabar and at Admiralty House, he did not initially realize that he too was now entitled to a veteran's pension. When he finally became aware of his rights, he submitted a claim "a few months ago" but has heard nothing since. He continues to hope he will get his money soon. "It's a big deal as far as I'm concerned. All I wanted was to be recognized as a volunteer in my six years. We've not had anything. We weren't recognized. One of the chaps who went overseas was a good buddy of mine. He's an overseas volunteer and I'm a landlubber but I think we probably did as much good as he did," he said. "We've not had anything all these years and I'm reaching a point now where I might not be needing it much longer. I'm gone 85 and it's a bit annoying mainly because we've not been recognized. It's been a bit of an annoying undercurrent for me." Mr. Tatem explained that the pension payment doubled in the same announcement by Government to $800 would make a difference. "If I got payments of $800 per month that would do me quite well. I have savings but four years ago I had a stroke and an aneurysm and the medical bill was $118,000. That left a great hole, and every month my savings are down a bit further. Every month the little savings I have reduce. All I need is some other sickness and it will be gone," he said.
August 29. Bermuda's resources on the history of slavery have received some welcome additions from the new International Slavery Museum in the UK.Social Rehabilitation Minister Dale Butler bought a series of books and documents on the subject on his visit to the venue for its official opening last week. He donated them to Bermuda National Library and the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs so that they can be used to help educate people of all ages about how the scars of slavery have blighted the world. Publications include the Atlas of Slavery, by James Walvin; Slavery, Atlantic Trade and the British Economy 1660 to 1800, by Kenneth Morgan; The African Slave Trade, by Basil Davidson; and The Great Slave Emporium, by Williams St. Clair. They will complement the library's existing stock, which has been depleted in recent years after books on slavery were loaned out but not returned. Mr. Butler, a historian and former school teacher, said hard copies stored in the library would give people a better chance of carrying out their own research. "While there's a tremendous amount of information on the Internet, sometimes you can only find one chapter of the book that you are trying to research, such as Basil Davidson's. Now, people can go to the library, and they can take out the book and read it all," he said. Mr. Butler said Community and Cultural Affairs Minister Wayne Perinchief was organizing promotions ahead of the 400th anniversary of the beginning of habitation in Bermuda in 2009. "The Ministry encouraged me to do as much as I could to help them and their planning for 2009 when I went on this trip," said Mr. Butler. For two centuries from the early 1600s, slavery was an integral part of the Bermudian way of life, with generations of slaves forced to work on the land, aboard ships and in homes. The Island's 4,200 slaves — almost half the population — were finally freed on Emancipation Day, August 1, 1834, 27 years after the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act banned Britain's part in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Joanne Brangman, head librarian at Bermuda National Library and Acting Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs, said Mr. Butler's contribution to the library was vital. She said: "It's very important to get literature like this into our library. Many people think that because Bermuda didn't have plantations we didn't have slavery. But we had our own form of slavery. It's very important that people have a look and learn about our history. These books will make a very nice addition to our stock." Mr. Butler was invited to the opening of the new museum, in Liverpool, through links he established during his time as Cultural Affairs Minister. He paid for his own accommodation and transport because the four-day trip fell outside his Ministry. It is thought he was the only Minister from the Caribbean region at the event.
August 29. An award-winning activist in non-violence has called for zero tolerance on gun crime in Bermuda.The work of Dennis Rahiim Watson has earned praise from Democratic Presidential frontrunners, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Over the past 30 years, he has campaigned against gun crime and gang violence in the US through his motivational speaking and work in conflict resolution. Mr. Watson is originally from Ord Road in Paget but last night said he felt "ashamed" to be Bermudian. Mr. Watson said the death of Shaki Crockwell, 25, was "a stain on Bermuda's reputation". He is now calling for politicians to defeat gun violence on the Island. "This gun violence is non-negotiable," he said. "The Bermuda Government must have a zero tolerance for guns and for the machete. No young person in Bermuda should feel empowered to play God, judge and jury. We are a civilized society of laws and enjoy a global reputation for our stability and friendliness. We used to be a model country for the world and so we ought to be on the cutting edge of conflict resolution, leading a 21st century lifestyle without violence." Mr. Watson, who now lives in New York, is chairman of the National Youth and Gang Violence Task Force and President of the National Black Youth Leadership Council in the US. He says providing jobs, mentors and self-esteem are essential in leading young men away from violence and "self-destructive" behavior. Now he is calling on Bermuda's Government to act. "I would like to work with the Premier and the churches, and am volunteering to organize workshops in conflict resolution in Bermuda," said Mr. Watson. "We need to have a series of summits from Somerset to St. Georges, to sit down and bring men together. We have got to focus away from the folly of guns. No young person ought to die before their mother and father. My condolences go out to Mr. Crockwell's family and his two children. This is a stain on Bermuda's reputation, to think guns can resolve issues. A cold-blooded thug mentality is being brought into this country, but Bermuda is not New York or Jamaica. This is not a part of our peaceful culture. We need to quash this and stamp it out. I am asking Bermudians to call Crimestoppers and turn in whoever is responsible for this murder." Mr. Watson has received more than 300 awards for his work and is the keynote speaker at the international Crimewatch conference, to be held at the Hamilton Princess in November. His most recent award - the 2007 Distinguished Youth Leadership Award from the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, earned him high praise from both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Senator Clinton said in a letter: "This honor recognizes your tireless efforts to encourage and inspire young black people to be responsible citizens by promoting peaceful solutions to conflicts". Senator Obama wrote: "For over three decades you have been a strong voice for good in our communities and I wish you continued success in your work with the next generation of African Americans."
August 29. The Railway Trail offers a peaceful retreat for walkers, cyclists and horse riders a world away from the hustle and bustle of Hamilton.Running the length of the Island, it provides 22 miles of serenity. With its rural views and seascapes, many consider it one of Bermuda's hidden gems and the Department of Tourism is keen to develop its eco-tourism potential. That solitary nature however, was used to screen fatal violence on Friday when a 25-year-old man was shot dead on its pathway. Yesterday, the trail from Loyal Hill to Palmetto House in Devonshire looked no different as it bathed peacefully in the sunshine among the birdsong and occasional butterfly. The only sign of something unusual taking place was the yellow Police cordon. Further down, just out of sight, detectives searched for clues in the hunt for Shaki Crockwell's killer. Mr. Crockwell, a father-of-two and footballer for the Boulevard Blazers, Bermuda Hogges and national team, was gunned down with a single bullet to the back of the neck at 10.23 p.m. Such is the secluded nature of the trail, neighbors in the surrounding houses did not hear a thing. Dorothy Williams, 68, of Northridge Close, said: "It was a shock. It is so quiet and peaceful around here, it's beautiful. I used to take my grandchildren along the tracks to the playground but it's kind of scary that this has happened. I don't think I would even go there now. It is awful, very sad, to think of this happening to such a young man still in his prime. I just thank God it wasn't one of my children or grandchildren." Another neighbor however, said the remoteness of the trail made it an ideal place to commit crime. "We have been broken into about five times since last August, so nothing really shocks me," she said. The 50-year-old, who did not wish to be named, said: "It is quite secluded here, there's not many houses and very few people around. There's no lights on the trail so I really wouldn't walk up there by myself at night."
August 29. Former Senator Walter Roban was unveiled as the Progressive Labour Party candidate for Pembroke East today.Mr. Roban, 41, a trust review officer for the Bank of Bermuda, has been a member of the party for 20 years and helped mastermind the PLP's 1998 election victory. He takes over from PLP stalwart Ottiwell Simmons who took 82 percent of the votes in the 2003 election. Mr. Roban will face the United Bermuda Party's Sean Pitcher in an election which must be called by January 2009. Mr. Roban told a press conference there was a need to identify more green space in the densely-populated seat and he called for a greater Police presence because of worries over drug crime. Premier Ewart Brown said: "Walter Roban arrived at this point in his political life the old fashioned way - he earned it."
August 29. War veterans entitled to benefits for their service have still not received them despite new legislation passed earlier this year, Government has admitted.Many of those who served during the World Wars have never been paid a veteran's pension. Some who served overseas were never informed by the Bermuda War Veterans Association or Government of the day that they were entitled to payments. This situation mainly affected black soldiers who served in the black branch of Bermuda's armed forces, the Bermuda Militia Artillery (BMA), Bermuda Militia Infantry, Bermuda Militia Engineers and the Caribbean Contingent of the BMA. Others of both races who defended Bermuda on the home front during World War Two were never recognized for their service. An announcement by Government and subsequent legislation passed earlier this summer was supposed to redress the balance. The news that six decades of inequality was at an end was warmly welcomed at the time by veterans and their families. However, according to Shadow Minister for Seniors Louise Jackson the benefits have not been forthcoming. "They've not received a penny. It seems unconscionable to my mind," she told The Royal Gazette. In response to inquiries about her claim, Calvin White Sr. Assistant Director, Pensions, in the Department of Social Insurance, said the newly-entitled veterans have not been paid due to challenges with verifying who is qualified, but they should be forthcoming within weeks. In April, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier Paula Cox announced that amendments to the Pensions and Gratuities Act would mean that soldiers who served both at home and overseas but did not receive assistance would now be eligible to receive veteran's benefits. In addition, these benefits were doubled from $400 to $800 per month and means-testing as a method for determining qualification would be eliminated, she said. She also announced that medical and dental benefits would be enhanced for veterans. The legislation was approved by MPs and the Senate between June and July. One of those still awaiting benefits is John DeShield, 99. Having served in Africa and Italy with the Caribbean Contingent (BMA), gaining five medals in World War Two, he is the oldest surviving war veteran in Bermuda. Currently in poor health and bedridden, Mr. DeShield has recently spent time in the Continuing Care Unit at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital which has cost $121 a day. "He is in his hundredth year and he still hasn't been remunerated for his contribution to his country," said his daughter Elizabeth Isaac, 75, from Pembroke, who said her father was never informed of his right to benefits. She hoped the recent moves by Government would lead to him getting them at last along with help with his medical bills, but this has not been forthcoming. "It's a known fact that not only my father but others too in that Regiment are entitled, but as far as I know and understand they have not been informed how to go about getting it," said Mrs. Isaac. "So many of them have died, but their widows and families should even at this late stage get something. We care for him at home but right at the moment he's in the Continuing Care Unit, and we've had no help with the medical expenses. I don't feel he should have to pay, being a war veteran. I get very upset. All of them served and they should be recognized." Another veteran, aged 83, who served abroad with a British force during World War Two told The Royal Gazette he has not received benefits either. The man did not know he was entitled to benefits but the publicity prompted him to inquire about this. "I think it would make a big difference to me (although) I'm not pushed the way I was. One time I didn't have any money to buy a bag of cement to renovate my house. I'd never heard anything from Government until this past Friday when they said they wanted a record of my service and they copied it this morning," said the man on Monday. Mr. White said: "No, the newly-entitled veterans have not received their payments but we anticipate that they will begin to receive the payments within the next two weeks and all payments will be made retroactive to April 1, 2007. One of the challenges we have experienced is being able to independently verify persons as members of the qualifying units. We have not been able to obtain a comprehensive list from the Bermuda Regiment or other sources and some of those applying as veterans may not have produced a discharge certificate, a service record or other proof of service such as a photograph but we are working with those who do not have the required documentation to expedite payment to those who are legitimate war veterans. We are also considering assisting war veterans without proper documentation by having them to sign an affidavit that can be attested to by a third party to prove their identity as war veterans." Veterans can apply for benefits through the Department of Social Services.
August 30. Opposition MP Maxwell Burgess walked out of court yesterday a free man. The United Bermuda Party MP denied that he assaulted William Sinclair Smith at Bailey's Bay Cricket Club on July 20 last year.And yesterday the Crown offered no evidence against him. Mr. Burgess did not respond to a request for comment yesterday. However, Mr. Burgess claimed in this newspaper days after the alleged incident that he hit Mr. Smith in self defence. He said: "What happened was he said to me that I was 'f**ked up'. I asked him what he meant by that and the next thing I knew he was firing a blow at me and I indeed fired one back. I acted in self defence, without question." But Mr. Smith alleged at the time that the MP launched an unprovoked attack, telling The Royal Gazette: "He grabbed me and said I f**king well got you' and then he struck me from behind. I don't know why he did it. We didn't have a verbal dispute or anything. I don't know if he was drunk or what." Mr. Smith alleged he suffered swelling around his eye and had to go to hospital to get a cut 'taped up'.
August 30. The top ten squash players in the world — barring injured Australian Anthony Ricketts — have already signed up for the sport's world championships which will come to Bermuda for the first time later this year.The Endurance World Open is being billed as the biggest tournament on the squash calendar and will take place in a specially constructed glass court to be placed at the Fairmont Southampton, offering spectacular South Shore views. Among the favorites to win the November 25-December 1 tournament will be world number one Amr Shabana of Egypt and the current World Open champion, third-ranked David Palmer, an Australian who lives in Bermuda. Shabana won an epic final at last year's PSA Masters in Bermuda against one of the greatest names in squash, Peter Nicol. And the brilliant young Egyptian has held the coveted number one ranking every month since his last appearance in Bermuda. Palmer is considered by many to be one of the fittest players on the pro circuit and he has a strong local following and will no doubt be keen to impress his fans. Gregory Gaultier, currently ranked fourth in the world, has confirmed his entry and is excited about returning to Bermuda. Gaultier said: "The World Open title is the most important goal I've been thinking of since I started squash. Bermuda is a magic place and having this tournament there makes it even more special." He has steadily climbed the world rankings since last year and also has the distinction of having beaten Shabana twice in recent months, at the US Open and at the World Open. Meanwhile Fellow Frenchman, Thierry Lincou, ranked fifth in the world, also loves Bermuda, having played here on five previous occasions. He has also confirmed, along with Scotland's John White, ranked ninth in the World and is another popular player among Bermuda squash fans. White recorded an impressive win against Shabana during the British Open last September. The Scot said: "The Organisers in Bermuda put on great events. And I always look forward to tournaments in Bermuda as the players are treated very well from start to finish... I am sure this year's World Open will be even more spectacular." Entries close on October 2. Those listed in the world's top 23 as of the October 1 rankings, will be automatically eligible for the main draw along with one wild-card entry from Bermuda. The next 24 players in the world rankings go into a qualifying tournament, together with four local players, plus four World Squash Federation wild-cards, for a total of 32 vying for eight places in the main draw. The four wild-cards are available to players who are ranked number one in their respective countries if those countries do not have representation in the top 47 on the world rankings. Bermuda Squash and Raquets Association (BSRA) spokesman, Roger Sherratt explained: "Anyone can enter the World Open but some players automatically go into the main draw, while others will be seeking to enter through the qualifying rounds." It provides an opportunity for the best players from those countries who are beginning to develop their squash programmes to compete at the very highest level, according to Organisers. At the beginning of August 2008, there were 18 countries in the top 50 rankings from far as Australia, Brazil, England, France, India, Mexico, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Scotland and Spain. But with squash now being played around the globe, countries such as Colombia, Greece, the Czech Republic, the US, Germany and Hungary, have players in the number 50 to number 100 rankings and may be eligible for one of the four wild-card spots. "We anticipate that literally all of the world's top players will be entering the tournament," Sherratt said. "And it would be a good idea to bear in mind that sensational young Egyptian player Ramy Ashour, who did not even qualify for last year's PSA Masters in Bermuda, is now the second-ranked player in the world. Watch out for this 19-year-old sensation in November." For more information about the Endurance World Open Bermuda 2007 Squash Championships, log onto squashworldopen.com.
August 30. Boxing champion Teresa Perozzi has declared her title bout against "Swedish Sensation" Asa Sandell as the most consequential of her career — with victory set to lead to big prize purse fights in Europe.Perozzi returned home from a grueling training regime in New York yesterday ahead of her clash with highly rated and highly funded middleweight champion Asa Sandell in Sweden. Next month's sell-out will be screened live on Swedish TV with former heavyweight champion of the world Riddick Bowe's battle with Daniil Peretyatko scheduled as the main event at the Lofberg Arenais, Karlstad. Perozzi, the North American Boxing Council world champion, needs no reminding of the career-defining opportunities on the horizon with a duel against undefeated Russian boxer Natascha Ragosina in the pipeline should she prevail. "I know this fight is my big chance to make serious bucks by breaking into the European market. Boxing is huge in Europe and although I'll never be full-time, that's where the money and exposure is," she said. "When I beat Sandell people will stand up and take notice of me and say 'Who's this Bermudian girl?' I've already been lined up to fight Natascha Ragosina who is undefeated - that's the direction I want to take my career. With all the possibilities which could arise, there's no doubt this fight is the biggest of my career." An intense ten-day training programme in Albany, New York, with trainer Rick Sweeney has seen Perozzi achieve the best condition of her career with the 42-year-old just a few pounds over the weigh-in limit. Costs of the trip were covered by Ministry of Sport funding, with Perozzi able to completely devote herself to training and take two weeks off work as a masseuse. "It was so much more intense than I've experienced before as I could devote all my time to training — it's taken me to a whole new level," said Perozzi, who is ranked sixth in the world. I trained for eight hours every day and I feel in the best shape of my career. I've never had that kind of one-on-one attention before. I've gone through the pain barrier and I'm ready to go the full six rounds." Professional boxing had been forbidden in Sweden until last year with Sandell, a trained journalist, having had to fight many of her fights, including a defeat to Laila Ali, in the US. But the 6ft tall boxer has built up an extensive and loyal support and has been described by Perozzi as the female version of Vitali Klitschko. "She (Sandell) is very popular fighter in Sweden but I like going into someone else's backyard and beating them," said Perozzi. "No one can say you've won because of home advantage then. I've had that a lot in Bermuda and I'm sick and tired of the girls I beat using that as an excuse. She stands tall and I suppose she's a female Vitali Klitchko as she adopts a very European style of fighting. But I know how to beat her and will try and get inside her so she can't extend her reach. I'm a southpaw whereas as she is orthodox and I'm not sure how many unorthodox fighters she has fought. She doesn't intimidate me and to be honest I think she has been built up to be more than she actually is." In her last fight Perozzi beat Yvonne Reis in a non-title bout at Berkeley school gymnasium in June.
August 30. A $1.4 billion-valued Bermuda-registered mining company could soon be combined with Central African Mining and Exploration Company to form a company with the potential to be the world's largest cobalt producer and one of the largest copper producers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.An offer has been made by the Central African Mining and Exploration Company (CAMEC) to buy all the shares of Katanga Mining Limited. Katanga is a Bermuda company which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The share buying offer would be made on the basis of 17 common shares of CAMEC for one of Katanga. Last Monday the closing trading price of Katanga shares on the TSX was C$22.50, while the following day the closing trading price on the UK's AIM exchange of CAMEC shares was 52p (C$1.05), implying a value for the CAMEC Offer of C$17.80 per Katanga share at that date and giving Katanga an offer value of C$1.518bn ($1.43bn). The average Katanga share price for the 30 days prior to CAMEC's announcement on May 4 that it had acquired a 22 percent stake in Katanga was $13.30. Based on publicly announced production targets for both CAMEC and Katanga, the combined entity will have a targeted production capacity of approximately 250,000 tonnes of copper and 20,000 tonnes of cobalt per year. At full production, CAMEC would produce approximately 60 percent of the cobalt and Katanga 60 percent of the copper for the combined entity Upon completion of the proposed deal CAMEC will maintain its current listing on AIM and will apply for a listing on a Canadian Stock Exchange. CAMEC management intends to meet with as many Katanga shareholders as possible in the coming weeks, the company said. Phil Edmonds, chairman of CAMEC, said: "We believe that the combination of CAMEC with Katanga will benefit both sets of shareholders and position the enlarged business to take an active role in any further consolidation of the sector in the DRC. Together with the shares we hold, the offer has the support of shareholders representing approximately 54 percent of Katanga's shares. I encourage the remaining Katanga shareholders to accept our offer and participate in the creation of a leading international copper and cobalt company." Katanga is engaged in the acquisition and development of mineral properties and is currently focused on the refurbishment and rehabilitation of the Kamoto/Dima mining complex in the DRC. The first copper from this property is due to be shipped in December 2007, with full production to be reached in 2011 following completion of the four-phase rehabilitation of the brownfield site. In February 2004, Katanga entered into a joint venture agreement with Gecamines, a state-owned and operated mining enterprise of the DRC, to rehabilitate certain assets which include exploration and mining properties, the Kamoto concentrator, the Luilu metallurgical plant, the Kamoto underground mine and various oxide open pit resources in the Kolwezi district of the DRC.
August 30. The key to bringing massive future economic success to Bermuda by attracting emerging global giant companies from China to incorporate on the Island has been identified by Bermuda-based lawyer John Milligan-Whyte, and he is getting Chinese business leaders to sit up and take note.Currently, Bermuda is in danger of being overtaken by rival Cayman Islands to attract Chinese companies incorporating despite this Island's past innovation and success and arguably greater reputation. But Mr. Milligan-Whyte is now banging the Bermuda drum, pointing out the advantages that sophisticated Chinese globalizing companies can benefit from if they opt for Bermuda as their incorporation domicile of choice rather than rivals such as Cayman or the British Virgin Islands. The message is being absorbed. Two related, newly-written business strategy books co-authored by Mr. Milligan-Whyte and translated into Mandarin language translated versions are proving to be major sellers in China. He and co-author Dai Min have already been made honorary professors of Peking University in recognition of their work in researching and promoting economic business strategies for China. The impact of their latest book could prove to be of major significance to the future prosperity of Bermuda and its leading reputation as the preferred offshore jurisdiction for major incorporations. Presently Cayman and BVI are viewed as more attractive to Chinese companies seeking to incorporate, due to their lower fees. However, this is a short-sighted economy argues Mr. Milligan-Whyte in the book. He says an incorporating company seeking to take the next step and list on a major stock exchange will find the ease of doing so much greater in the mature and respected regulatory environment of Bermuda, not to mention the associated credibility worldwide that comes from having a Bermuda-link. Chinese business leaders reading 'New China Business Strategies: Chinese and American Companies as Global Partners' will find the Bermuda is better message spelled out. "A lot of companies being incorporated are being positioned to go public. But you can't list a BVI incorporated company on the Hong Kong or Singapore stock exchanges because of BVI's looser regulation," he explained. It is possible to list if incorporated in Cayman, but as Mr. Milligan-Whyte points out in the book: "Bermuda companies are, and have enjoyed, a high degree of acceptance and confidence in the international capital markets. Although sophisticated Chinese companies, such as China Netcom, are using Bermuda companies 'to go global,' other mainland Chinese are not yet aware of the competitive advantages, superior reputation, and success Bermuda enjoys in capital markets." Mr. Milligan-Whyte, who is a partner at law firm Milligan-Whyte & Smith, is embarking on his latest trip to China to attend the World Economic Forum's inaugural annual meeting of its 'New Champions' - an impressive gathering of CEOs and other top business executives and country leaders. He hopes the book will send the message to the immense Chinese companies seeking to go global that basing the location choice for an incorporation purely on the difference in the initial fee is a nonsense if they are seeking to eventually go public and list on a world stock exchange. "At the moment Bermuda is not being chosen most of the time. There is a massive process going on and Bermuda could be seriously overtaken by Cayman. These companies are going to be mega multi-nationals, unlike anything we have today. The book will popularize that Bermuda is the better choice. The Chinese are loving the book." Mr. Milligan-Whyte also views the book as the most efficient way to get the message out to the world's most populous country, with its 1.3 billion people. Trying to meet with individual groups of CEOs in such a vast economy would be a endless and time-consuming route. He recognizes that the Bermuda Government cannot cut its incorporation fee just to accommodate Chinese companies, but there is scope for management companies that facilitate incorporations in Bermuda to change their approach when they are aware of a Chinese company seeking to incorporate with the intention of later going public. Management companies could, for instance, re-structure their fees so the initial incorporation cost is a closer match to rival jurisdictions. Mr. Milligan-Whyte is also chairman of Core Capital, a company that "commercializes genius." It is in this role that he has been invited, along with partner Orlando Smith, to the high-powered World Economic Forum "New Champions" meeting in Dalian, China.
August 30. Investigators looking into the sale of two oil tankers by Indonesia's state-owned oil company Pertamina, which resulted in a claimed $50 million loss for the country, are to visit Bermuda to speak with company bosses of Frontline Shipping.Their visit will be part of a worldwide investigation that will also include carrying out inquiries at South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industry, Goldman Sachs in the US and partially Indonesia-owned Equinox Sailing. Bermuda's exempted company Frontline Shipping bought two tankers for $184m while they were under construction at Hyundai in South Korea, but the sale was allegedly not endorsed by Indonesia's finance minister. The Attorney General's Office in Indonesia announced the wide-reaching investigation on Tuesday, according to a report in The Jakarta Post, newspaper. A team of Indonesian prosecutors will travel to question companies allegedly involved in the sale after three of the four ignored a summons from the AGO, said the newspaper, which stated that Equinox Sailing was the only one of the companies to send a representative for questioning. The schedule for the prosecution team's visit to Bermuda, the US and South Korea, has not been finalized. The team is to be headed by prosecutor Slamet Wahyudi. According to the Jakarta Post report: "Pertamina sold two of its tankers for $184 million while they were still under construction at Hyundai in South Korea. The tender-winner was Bermuda-based Frontline Shipping Ltd. "AGO investigators found the sale had been made without endorsement from Indonesia's finance minister. The sale price was allegedly below the standard price for this type of tanker, which ranges between $204 million and $240 million each." Hyundai built the tankers, Frontline bought them, Goldman Sachs acted as a financial consultant for the sale and Equinox Sailing as a mediator for Frontline. Criminal law expert from the University of Indonesia, Indriyanto Seno Aji said the AGO should conduct the investigation with legal assistance and cooperation from the countries involved. The Jakarta Post newspaper said: "Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission started its investigation into the alleged graft case in 2004, but could find no proof the tanker sales had inflicted state losses. The AGO has continued to pursue the case regardless."
August 30. An appeal has been launched to raise almost $2.5 million to help pay off outstanding debts surrounding the Spirit of Bermuda.The Bermuda Sloop Foundation wants $2.25 million to pay off the outstanding debt from the building of the ship after costs overran. But it also wants another $3 million in a longer-term project to set up an endowment fund to help pay for future programmes. The vessel sailed into Bermuda on September 30 last year and so far 270 Bermudians have experienced at least a five-day voyage on board. The Foundation has plans to raise $2.6 million to pay for the mortgage of the ship and grow an endowment fund to $3 million over the next five years. The endowment fund will pay for future programmers. According to the chairman's report, the final cost of the boat was $6 million, an increase of $300,000 from March 2006 and $1.9 million since 2003. The increases were due to the complex electronic, technical and safety mechanical systems. The final $2.6 million will pay the $1.7 million mortgage, the $260,000 private loan on the renovations and $600,000 for the endowment fund to reach $1 million. Speaking on behalf of the foundation, executive director Malcolm Kirkland said the price for the boat skyrocketed 40 per cent from when they saw it in 2003 until it arrived in Bermuda. "Our whole business model didn't contemplate that. We didn't plan on still having to do capital fundraising", he said. He said the current interest payments were $9,000 a month. Mr. Kirkland said the opening income was "pretty good" with half the operating expenses being produced by the operating revenue. They have raised about $900,000 from donations. He said the Foundation would like to be self-sufficient in three years and said they know there is proof in the concept they have been working with. Mr. Kirkland said they have collaborated with Wedco for a long term facility at number seven and eight Dockyard Terrace, but costly renovations had to take place first. "This project is definitely Bermudian led. Ninety-six percent of the donors are local with 85 percent of the dollars being Bermudian", he added. He said the Foundation was very appreciative for all its donors over the years. "We are pleased the role of the ship has taken. There are kids who graduated from Adult Education when the public system failed them who exchanged onto German and Dutch naval ships and we had the Germans and Dutch on the Spirit", he said smiling. The Spirit has conducted 13 coastal five day voyages including nine schools teams with Sandys Middle School, Spice Valley Middle School, Dellwood Middle School, Bermuda Institute, CedarBridge Academy and Adult Education School. She also has participated in the ASTA Tall Ships Challenge in the US and Canada. For more information about the foundation or to give donations, contact 737-5667 or e-mail info@ bermudasloop.org.
August 30. British Airways (BA) is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the first flight to Bermuda in 1937 with a limited-time special club class airfare of $1,937. Following hot on the heels of the '70 percent off' World Traveller and World Traveller Plus airfare deals, BA has announced a seat sale for passengers looking for additional space and comfort in Club World, which features the 180-degree flatbed seat, on their way to London. The price marks 1937, the year when BA started flights to Bermuda, and the sale lasts until September 3. It can be used on trips between August 30 and December 18. Coupled with the Club World offer are the four-star London hotels at $99 per person per night based on double occupancy. The hotels include the Shaftesbury Kensington, Kensington Park and Hilton Olympia and the offer must be booked with a round-trip flight originating in Bermuda and is open to Bermudian residents paying in Bermuda dollars or US dollars. Meanwhile, the 70 percent off seat sale for World Traveller and World Traveller Plus which was extended, will close at the end of today. To book visit the website at ba.com.
August 30. Witnesses need to "stand up and be counted" in the absence of a witness protection programme on the Island, Governor Sir John Vereker insisted yesterday.Talks have been ongoing for months regarding setting up a witness initiative which could see vulnerable individuals sent abroad to prevent intimidation. It is hoped the move will help reverse the trend of people not speaking out after serious crimes, which has been partly blamed for the failure to convict anybody for the shooting murders of Shaundae Jones in 2003 and Jason Lightbourne last year. Friday night's murder of 25-year-old Shaki Crockwell, at the Railway Trail, Devonshire, has brought the subject back to the forefront. Yesterday, Sir John said it would be very difficult to set up an effective witness protection system on a small island like Bermuda, although he confirmed the plan was still under consideration. He said the immediate need was for people to have the courage to share crucial information with the authorities, or to take advantage of the anonymous Crimestoppers hotline, manned by staff in Miami. "A witness protection programme is difficult in a small island," said Sir John. "The witnesses we need are witnesses who are prepared to stand up and give evidence in court. If anybody isn't prepared to do that, it's already possible for them to call the private line (Crimestoppers) so they don't have to reveal their identity. We are looking at it (a witness protection programme) but frankly we want people to come forward and stand up and be counted." In May, Attorney General Philip Perinchief said Government was looking at sending witnesses abroad before trial, with continued protection provided after they have given evidence in court. Mr. Perinchief also pointed to witnesses' reluctance to tell tales on offenders who may be their friend. "In a small country such as Bermuda there arises, I suppose, a culture of protectionism for the accused who very often is somebody's ace boy," he said three months ago. It is understood a taskforce has been discussing the issue at a series of meetings since May. Former United Bermuda Party Minister Quinton Edness yesterday added his voice to those calling for witnesses to come forward, but said a protection programme would be a big help in serious cases. "I would urge people who may have information about this murder to come forward and either call Crimestoppers or call the Police. It is people's duty to help the Police and help solve this murder," said Mr. Edness. "It affects us all in Bermuda. It is almost like a watershed. If this is not solved we could be looking at retaliatory actions taking place. We should have had a witness protection programme years ago. We need to have witness protection. The Government needs to put up some funds to protect people, even if this means being sent to another jurisdiction. But there are some very courageous people in Bermuda and they must be courageous to come forward with information."
August 30. Bermuda's growing code of silence which stops people informing on murderers risks tipping the country into mayhem if it is not reversed, Public Safety Minister David Burch has warned.He said Police knew the likely killer of Shaki Crockwell but were powerless because the public were not helping. He told The Royal Gazette: "Families in their homes have to take up the mantle and decide it is their responsibility to raise their children and save this country from anarchy." Senator Burch was asked if he was disappointed about the response to appeals for witnesses to the murder of the 25-year-old national footballer who was shot in the neck on the Railway Trail, Devonshire on Friday night. He said: "It falls to us in the way we raise young people why they won't come forward and participate in this society and recognize that by their silence they are contributing to not being in a positive place." Parents needed to do far more to encourage youngsters to face up to their responsibilities. It is not something that can be legislated or that I can stand up and pronounce as a minister and have it happen. Police are reasonably confident they know who it is. They cannot get anyone to confirm that so it is anecdotal." The gun killing is the third in the last four years - Shaundae Jones was shot dead in Dockyard in 2003 and Jason Lightbourne was slain in Paget just over a year ago. Asked if the Police were now under massive pressure to crack the case after two previous unsolved gun murders Sen. Burch said: "I think people understand quite clearly what the challenges with the Police are. "Police are actually doing their job, they are able and capable of solving the crimes. They just can't prosecute because that is not something they can do on their own. I believe all three of these murders can easily be solved if people are prepared to come forward and provide information to the Police so they can secure a conviction. It has very little to do with the vast majority of people in this country who don't know anything about these matters. But there are people in this country who do know. We have tried offering money - rewards. They can give information to Crimestoppers anonymously, nothing seems to work - there seems to be a code of silence amongst a certain element of the community. We all have to work at how we break that code if we want to live in a country which is peaceful and without murders." Sen. Burch said he was surprised people still didn't understand that when you called Crimestoppers you spoke to an agency in Miami - not a policeman in Bermuda - to ensure complete confidentiality. "They certainly don't pass on any phone numbers or anything like that. We are testing at the moment the ability to text message into that number, but it's an 0800 number so we are not sure of the technical challenges. That may raise the level of comfort that it is a text message not someone's voice being recorded." More needed to be done to break the code of silence said Sen. Burch. We will try whatever we can to break that cycle but it is going to require far greater efforts outside this ministry - health and family services, the schools, parents - everyone. We either want to live in peace or we don't - and if we do then we all need to do something to try and fix it. We see it on an almost daily basis - people get beat up, people get chopped and they won't prosecute. I don't understand it." He said people's fears over retaliatory violence were real. "But until someone stands up and takes a stand - 'I am not going to be chopped and keep silent - I want justice for being assaulted. This generation doesn't have a real sense of the value of life. I am old so it is something I have great difficulty trying to process and understand. But it must start in the home - a lot earlier than when they become teenagers." He said faith as a foundation for values had been lost which had aided the decline. Lack of witnesses has also hampered Police efforts to tackle Bermuda's huge drug trade. Recently Police Assistant Commissioner Bryan Bell said Police knew who the major drug dealers were but were unable to convict them. Asked about that situation Sen. Burch said: "As much as Government and Police forces try to counter this certainly the drug dealers have far more resources than we do, they are constantly looking at ways to counter the measures we put in place."
August 30. New Director of Public Prosecutions Rory Field hopes Bermudians can be given specialist training to help tackle sophisticated crime.Speaking after being sworn in by Governor Sir John Vereker yesterday, Mr. Field said in a previous role in Serbia he arranged for the UK's Crown Prosecution Service technology-based crime experts to pass on tips to local lawyers. He told The Royal Gazette he hopes to do something similar in Bermuda. "The crime in Bermuda has a potential to be much more sophisticated," said Mr. Field. "I have some background in dealing with money-related crime and highly-skilled crime. I instigated looking at high-technology crime in Serbia. I set up training programmes with the CPS, bringing their experts to Serbia and taking people from Serbia to the UK. I would like to give Bermudians the same kind of opportunity to get some skills." Earlier, Mr. Field had given a brief speech at the swearing in ceremony at Government House, describing his new role as very serious and important. "I'm going to be taking over and benefiting from the good work which has been done before me," he said. His previous experience includes serving as DPP in Belize from 1999 to 2001, and working as legal adviser on organized crime for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, with a focus on reforming the criminal justice system in Serbia. He contrasted his role in Belize to his new task in Bermuda, saying: "Belize had a very high percentage of murders per capita. There were serious problems with violent crime, including murder. Although there's been tragic cases here in the last few years, the murders were much lower. Bermuda is a much safer place." Performing the swearing in, Sir John said: "The Department of Public Prosecutions is an important part of the effort to keep Bermuda lawful. And they have been successful, both in eliminating the backlog of cases that had built up over the years, and in securing convictions. I am delighted to be welcoming Mr. Rory Field as substantive director. He has a distinguished track record and valuable experience." Sir John also paid tribute to Juan Wolffe, who served as Acting DPP following the departure of Vinette Graham-Allen earlier this year. Members of the legal community have warned Mr. Field faces a tough job due to a history of discontent within the Public Prosecutions department and the need to reform the justice system. Premier Ewart Brown and Attorney General Philip Perinchief were both absent from the ceremony due to other commitments. The Premier's Press Secretary Glenn Jones said Dr. Brown expects to meet with Mr. Field and wish him well in his new role very soon. Mr. Perinchief, who has already met Mr. Field in both official and social capacities earlier this year, said: "We intend to see a great deal of each other over the coming months."
August 30. The Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute should not be viewed as a "lunatic asylum", but rather the well-respected mental health service organization. Chief operating officer Patrice Dill told members of the Hamilton Rotary Club this week about the need to break stigmas surrounding mental illness. "I believe that one's mental health is just as important as one's physical health and must not be taken for granted," she explained. "Your brain is a very important organ in your body and if it is not functioning properly it will affect the way the other organs function." Many people who lack knowledge believe the myths surrounding mental health, but in reality anyone can become vulnerable to illnesses, including: depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and dementia. "Mental health can affect anybody no matter what their religious, ethnic or racial background. It doesn't just happen to the poor, it can happen if you have a lot of money, it can happen to anybody," said Ms Dill. MWI has been in existence since 1875 - in it's original name - and is "well-respected" both locally and internationally for it's work in areas, such as mental health, learning disabilities, substance abuse and child and adolescent services. The institution has maintained its accreditation from the Canadian Council of Accreditation since 1970 and has also been accredited by The Royal College of Psychiatrists in the United Kingdom, to serve as a teaching hospital for junior doctors training to become Consultant Psychiatrists. "Bermuda is way ahead of the game in terms of service delivery. We are not behind at all, we are very much in the cutting edge when it comes to our service," she said. According to Ms Dill, the institution changed its name from St. Brendan's Hospital to Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute in 2005 for several reasons, namely "to truly represent the services (they) do". She said: "We are not just a hospital we do a lot of community programmes, we run group homes and clinics, do a lot of outreach and educational presentations. We are not just an in-patient treatment centre." "We needed to offer a new beginning to help destigmatise the issues surrounding mental illness for the Island of Bermuda. "We no longer wanted to be considered the asylum or a lunatic asylum." Instead Ms Dill describes MWI as a "therapeutic institution that has clinical programmes to address different specialties of mental health services". Though the institution has come a long way, Ms Dill admitted they still face challenges, for instance, trying to get Bermudians to work in fields like psychiatry or nursing. Currently at MWI, there are four psychiatrists on staff, all of whom are non-Bermudian, in addition 70 percent of the in-patient nursing staff are also foreigners. Right now, there are two Bermudians who have finished their schooling and plan to go into psychiatry, and it is expected there will be another four graduates by 2010 or 2011, but there is still a need. She urged Rotarians to "become mental health advocates" and asked them to advocate not only for their own health, but also for the mental health of others, "to ensure that Bermuda can remain the paradise that we have come to know".
August 30. Bermuda insurance and pensions company BF&M Limited today announced record profits of just over $12 million for the first six months of the year.The total of $12,068,828 compares to $9,611,932 for the same period a year ago, and for shareholders represents a 20 percent return on equity. Group contributions from general insurance, health and life insurance, real estate, asset management, pension administration, and BF&M's interest in the operations of the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited were strong. In addition, our life and health reinsurance activities in the Caribbean and Latin America have commenced which over time we anticipate contributing to our earnings. Mr. Wight added that while underwriting results were very positive investment performance was poor due to the weak US bond markets in the second quarter. This had a negative effect on half year earnings.
August 30. International businesses should not be expected to pick up the slack when the Government cuts funding to charitable organizations, according to a leading donor. A member of The XL Foundation, one of Bermuda's largest charitable donors, said many international business were already heavily investing in the Island and should not be expected to fund everything at a packed public meeting on the administration of charities last night. The XL Foundation member said that although 90 percent of the company's workforce lived elsewhere in the world The XL Foundation gives two-thirds of its charitable budget to organizations in Bermuda. He added that the Island needed to prioritize pointing to the $11 million earmarked by Government to be spent on cricket in the next few years. "I am all for supporting development in sports but when you take it away from the charities, many that provide basic services that make the Government look good, and assume that international business will pick up the slack, I think it is an unfair burden to put on businesses already being charitable. He added that the Foundation has already earmarked most of the funds and would not be able to help many charities left in the cold this financial year after the Government cut or did not renew grants usually received. And he said that the Island's charities could benefit from streamlining instead of duplicating services because an Island of 65,000 people did not need 400 charities. The meeting was organized by the Ministry of Social Rehabilitation to allow charities and donors to discuss proposed changes to the Charities Act. Some of the changes include greater accountability, better registration, a definition of what a charitable organisation is and more transparency of charities' goals and mission statement. Minister of Social Rehabilitation Dale Butler said: " Almost 90 percent of households donate to charity with the average household donating more than $1,200 in a year. This is more than the average household donates in the US and far more than in the UK. Together we can ensure that 'Giving in Partnership' is more than just a slogan — it is our modus operandi and our best avenue in securing a brighter future for all people in Bermuda."
August 30. An election for the post of Common Councillor is set to be held by the City of Hamilton on October 11 — if more than one candidate is nominated.The vacancy has arisen due to former occupant Courtland Boyle being appointed Alderman earlier this year. Announcing the election, Mayor Sutherland Madeiros said: "Candidates interested in running in the election and eligible voters must be registered before September 19. It is anticipated that Nomination Day will be on October 4 and that the election will be on October 11 if more than one candidate is nominated. "I welcome and support participation in the management of this dynamic City. Anyone who is interested in helping to run the City of Hamilton should consider standing for election as a Councillor. Prospective candidates must be on the Municipal Register and have some flexibility in their schedule to attend meetings. I would be happy to discuss any questions that a prospective candidate may have."
August 31. The Hustle Truck was yesterday re-launched two weeks after it was suspended due to anti-social behavior from its workers.Earlier this month, Housing Minister David Burch called off the scheme when staff hurled abuse and vandalized Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) property in a row over pay. Yesterday, the Minister announced the return of a "new and improved" version of the project, which involves bussing unemployed people around the Island to carry out manual labour. The 87 workers previously employed on the Hustle Truck is being whittled down to 63, so that each of the three supervisors only has to take care of about 20 individuals when it officially resumes on Monday, September 10. "You will be aware that as a result of disruptive behavior three weeks ago, the programme was suspended so that a complete review could be carried out and an improved management plan implemented," Sen. Burch told a press conference. "I am pleased to announce that over the past few weeks that process was concluded." Since the initiative's launch in April, 270 people have participated by carrying out tasks such as landscaping, general cleaning or painting, with 26 graduating to full-time employment. They arrive at work at 8 a.m. and undergo a seven-hour day, returning consistently throughout the week. However, it was suspended after the incident at BHC, which Sen. Burch said involved employees repeatedly shouting abuse and damaging pictures on the wall. Yesterday, he suggested critics of the Hustle Truck had hoped the incident would lead to its permanent demise. "The openness of the programme was specifically designed to decrease bureaucracy and allow persons to have an opportunity at employment despite past problems," he said. "There are some who wished for the programme to die a natural death and others who criticize the absence of a plan in initiating this programme. I am not moved by either of these views as the positive impact of the Hustle Truck, in spite of the challenges, has been impressive. To date, 26 Hustle Truck workers have graduated to full-time employment. I believe they would not have done so were it not for the existence of this initiative." In an attempt to prevent any repeats of the BHC incident, the Hustle Truck team has also been boosted by the appointment of Shane Watson as an alcohol and drugs counselor. "We recognize the need for this type of support at Bermuda Housing Corporation, not just Hustle Truck workers but also for some of our tenants," said Sen. Burch. He said the 87 people workers would be cut to 63 following an interview process. As each person graduates to full-time employment, others will be invited to participate in the programme. Sen. Burch also paid tribute to Major Barrett Dill, BHC's deputy general manager who has overseen the programme.
August 31. Berkeley Institute kicked off its annual family week with Chairman of the Berkeley Institute Board of Governors, Calvin White Sr., addressing students and parents on the history of the school.The event is an orientation for incoming senior one(S1) students and their parents. Mr. White spoke about the school's "illustrious history" saying: "The Berkeley Institute had enjoyed more than 100 years of educational excellence and it was amongst the first of Bermuda's schools to offer academic programmes irrespective of gender or race." He said the alumni of the school are part of Bermuda's academic, business and Government leaders. Mr. White explained teachers are " the key component in the delivery of quality education". He went on to discuss the controversial graduation rate at the end of last school year. The chairman said: "The Berkeley Institute has always calculated its graduation rate in the same way. The administration divides the number of students who meet the requirements by the number of students in S4, in the BSC programme, at the start of the S4 year. This method has been consistently used at the school." Mr. White added a student will not graduate if he or she hasn't met the required credits. If a student has not met those requirement, he or she will have to attend summer school. He added: "Within the framework of the School's Core Values, The Board of Governors remains steadfast in its mission to provide a standard of excellence in education at our school. This can only be achieved with the professional and committed efforts of strong teachers who are devoted to the total development of the students at The Berkeley Institute."
August 31. Two female tourists were robbed of a digital camera and personal belongings on Wednesday.Police attended the scene on Malabar Road, Sandy's. The victims told officers they were riding rental cycles east on Malabar Road when three unknown men rode up next to them. One of the men grabbed a pink plastic bag that was in the rental cycle's basket containing the camera and personal items. A struggle between one of the suspects and victim began with the suspect punching her in the face before escaping. Officers located the suspects on Scott's Hill Road. A short chase began with one of the men being arrested. Police are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to contact the Somerset Criminal Investigation Unit of 234-1010.
August 31. A cruise ship worker was robbed and attacked yesterday morning.Police attended the robbery on Front Street where the 38-year old Azamara Journey employee said he left the ship at 3.45 a.m. and was walking along Front Street. He said he was approached by a man who called over four other men. The men attacked the victim and stole money from him before making their escape. The victim sustained a head injury but refused local medical treatment. He was treated on board the ship. The main suspect is described as a 6ft dark skin male in his 30s with a bald head. Police are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to contact 295-0011 as they are investigating the matter.
August 31. A law passed three years ago to hit counterfeiters with huge fines and prison sentences is still not in effect because of red tape.Instead of being able to impose jail terms of up to ten years and dole out penalties of $250,000 courts can only fine the fakers $240 under laws dating back to the early part of the last century. The Copyrights and Designs Act 2004, which is actually featured on the Government's laws website, was signed off by the Governor in March of that year. But it is still not operational as the regulations which go with it have yet to be drafted by Government. The only pieces of legislation Police and Consumer Affairs have to work off are the Patents and Designs Act 1930 which has a maximum fine of $240 and The Merchandise Marks Act 1889 which is even softer. Last October Police raided a Hamilton shop and netted $1,000 of fake DVDs while they warned supermarkets were in contravention of the Act for selling fake designer handbags, clothing and perfume but no prosecution was launched. The law delay was raised in the Consumer Affairs Report of 2006. And this week Inspector Charlene Thompson, of the Fraud Squad, said: "Our only hope is that it is gazetted soon because the legislation which has been passed would give us, the Police, the power to go on and do what we have to do in terms of enforcing the law. But we want to put out the warning to people doing this that once the legislation is in place they run the risks of complaints." Pirating operations have been linked to gangsters and even al Qaeda say authorities. We want to let people know who are purchasing these counterfeit goods that ever since 9/11 you are looking at possibly helping fund terrorism," said Inspector Thompson. The old Act lacks punch on punishment, seizure and search powers but the new act legislates the Consumer Affairs department to be the investigative body for such offences. Labour and Immigration Permanent Secretary Robert Horton said: "The delay in bringing the Copyright and Design Act 2004 into operation is regrettable, but has been caused by the unanticipated amount of time that it has taken to draft the 21 copyright Regulations that will supplement the Act. However, I am pleased to advise that most of the work on the Regulations has been completed and we very much hope that the Act and the Regulations will be brought into force by the end of the year."
August 31. Entrepreneurs chewed over commerce with the Premier yesterday at his 'Brown Bag Lunch on the Lawn'. Dr. Ewart Brown welcomed small business owners to the Cabinet Office grounds to discuss issues and opportunities. Representatives of 15 companies attended, joined by the Bermuda Small Business Development Corporation and the Ministry of Finance. The Premier said: "I can really relate to this group because I am a small business owner. I know the challenges they face first-hand, but I also know the self-fulfillment that comes with owning your own business." Leroy Turini, owner of Winky Dinky Dog, said the Brown Bag Lunch had been the perfect opportunity to network. "It helps to know there are other people going through the same struggle," he said. Ivan Outerbridge, of technology company Eye Designz, proposed a smart card idea to Dr. Brown, who is Minister of Transport. "I've presented it before to PTB, but it was ahead of its time back then. Now might be a better time," he said. "I've been trying to meet with the Premier face to face for a while. So this was a good opportunity for me." And it seemed the entrepreneurs' ideas were welcomed. Dr. Brown said: "A few of the people here today had some very good ideas about strengthening small businesses in Bermuda. I wouldn't be surprised if their ideas became legislation."
August 31. Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley last night reiterated the need for witnesses to the murder of Shaki Crockwell to come forward.Mr. Dunkley, who is Shadow Public Safety Minister, said in a press statement: "I would like to endorse the comments by the Governor, the Premier and Colonel Burch urging the public to pass on to the Police any useful information they might have about the murder of Shaki Crockwell, and about other serious crimes committed recently. "We in the United Bermuda Party have also warned of the threat posed to this fragile community by members of the public who sign on to a code of silence about criminals and their behavior." However, he added: "But in a small community like Bermuda, leadership plays an important role. It must come from the top and right now we do not have it. How credible is a government that on the one hand imposes a code of silence on their involvement in the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal and a gag order on the Press and then endorses the arrest of whistleblowers, while on the other hand admonishes members of the public for not coming forward with information about the tragic murder of Mr. Crockwell and other crimes. I am concerned that this Government's behavior contributes to the very code of silence they are now urging people to step away from. People nowadays are less willing to speak freely on public issues because of the level of intimidation stirred up by this Government. The Government itself has always been reluctant to come forward with information about issues of public concern, always reluctant to stand in the sunshine of public scrutiny as it once pledged to do. Our political leaders can't have it both ways. It's not good enough anymore to talk the talk and not walk the walk. You can't say: 'Do what I say, not what I do'. We have serious trust issues at play in Bermuda. One way to make progress on them is to make sure we have a government that practices what it preaches." The Government chose not to comment on Mr. Dunkley's views last night.
August 31. Murder victim Shaki Crockwell's former football team-mates are to raise money for his devastated family by staging a fund-raising match.Boulevard Blazers players are still reeling from the killing of their captain and star striker Mr. Crockwell, 25, whose body was found in a pool of blood on the Railway Trail, Devonshire, at about 10.20 p.m. last Friday. He had been shot in the neck. Club secretary Saidha Wainwright told The Royal Gazette they were planning a memorial game in September or October to generate cash for the victim's two young sons, eight-year-old Qwezi Savory and Santiago Crockwell, aged just six or seven months. It is hoped a trust fund can be set up so they can go to college when they are older. Ms Wainwright said players were planning to attend next Tuesday's funeral wearing T-shirts carrying photographs of national team footballer Mr. Crockwell, while this week's training sessions had been cancelled. "We are trying to help the family with the arrangements as much as we can," she said. "Everyone is still in shock at the fact he's not going to be here any more." Also yesterday, Shaun Goater, the president of another of Mr. Crockwell's teams Bermuda Hogges, called for witnesses to come forward to help Police with their investigation. The former Manchester City striker is the latest in a long line of names, including Governor Sir John Vereker, Premier Ewart Brown, Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley and Public Safety Minister David Burch, to urge people to break Bermuda's "code of silence" which stops the public informing on murderers. People's reluctance to speak to Police has been partly blamed for the failure to secure any convictions in the Island's previous two shooting murders, Shaundae Crockwell in 2003 and Jason Lightbourne last year. "It's a life and a life is important. You want people to speak out. You want anyone who has heard anything or knows something to pass the information on," said Mr. Goater. "People feel threatened, which is why they won't come forward. It takes courage." Anonymous hotline Crimestoppers issued a statement yesterday stressing that its calls are answered through a centre in Miami, Florida, and that they are not recorded or monitored. "There is a safe, secure and totally anonymous hotline set up expressly to receive calls from those persons who might otherwise by cautious or concerned about sharing information directly about the Police service," said the statement. "Information received is written down and relayed back to Crimestoppers' local coordinator and, when appropriate, forwarded on to local law enforcement agencies. In most instances, Police officers are not even made aware of the fact that they are acting on a Crimestoppers' tip. Callers using the Crimestoppers hotline will never be asked to give their name or reveal any other personal information, even when a reward is sought. Crimestoppers urges the public to end the silence, stop the violence." A week after the incident, Police refused to provide any information on how their investigation was going. Since a brief press conference on Monday in which detectives revealed details about the murder and issued a plea for witnesses, Bermuda Police Service has declined many requests for updates from this newspaper. Yesterday, Police said they had a "media strategy" in place, meaning they would only speak to the press "at the appropriate times". Force spokesman Dwayne Caines told The Royal Gazette it would not be prudent to disseminate information, including how many witnesses had responded to calls for help so far, whether they were close to an arrest and whether Sen. Burch was right to claim Police were confident they knew who the killer was. On Tuesday, Police described the initial response to their appeal as "very, very, very encouraging" but stressed the need for more people to come forward. Mr. Crockwell was wearing jeans and a green hooded top. Anyone with information should telephone Police on 299-4239 or the anonymous Crimestoppers hotline on 1-800-623-8477.
August 31. Public Safety Minister David Burch has been blocked after calling for Police to farm out guard duties to the Regiment to help free up more officers for active patrols. The news comes as it emerged Police are 33 officers short of the full complement of 469 while Bermuda Reserve Police, which has around 100 officers and puts at least 30 on the street each week, have had operations suspended. A brief Police press release yesterday said anomalies over insurance coverage had meant reserve duties are limited to training only while Government, insurers and Police hammer out a solution. Several Police sources said the Reserve Police played a full part in keeping law and order. One said: "At the weekend they are putting out quite a number of people. They are very, very useful." The Reserve officers also police Harbour Nights on Front Street on Wednesdays. Asked if next week's festivities were in jeopardy Acting Mayor Bill Black said: "If they are not going to be there it is going to have an effect on us. I am hoping the regular Police will step in and assist." This week Public Safety Minister David Burch told The Royal Gazette that his suggestion to claw back Policemen occupied in non-Policing duties - such as court duty and guard duty - had been shot down. "That would help us greatly. I don't know what the numbers are but they are significant. "If we were able claw them back and deploy them in operational policing then perhaps we would not hear the cry that the Police are undermanned.. If one employed the Regiment in some of those roles which are traditionally carried out by militaries in most civilized countries you would release policemen from those sorts of duties. But from where I sit there is no real appetite on the part of the Police or the Governor to do that. I am extremely frustrated about that - all I can do about that, because it is operational policing, is talk about it. As much as people calling it whining, it's a reality of life. I asked I said to people 'I can fix this, let me' and we had a constitutional crisis just for asking. You cannot have it both ways." A Government House spokesman said last night: "We consider it would not be appropriate to change the current arrangement." Recently Sen. Burch called for Government to have operational control of Policing but that was rejected by the Governor - to whom the Police Commissioner reports directly. But Government controls the purse strings. Sen. Burch said training was "frozen" temporarily three months ago but has now been freed up. He said "I had concerns about overspending last year." He said the budget had been overspent by 40 to 50 percent and he added: "Now they are under-budget as far as they have indicated." Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley agreed with Sen. Burch's call to get Police off static guard duties and back into active Policing. But he criticised Government for not doing more to keep force numbers up, after claiming the force had lost 40 officers between January and July this year. And he said Government's excuse that the traditional recruiting grounds in Britain and the Caribbean weren't so receptive was no reason for letting numbers dwindle as he urged Government to look at other countries for experienced officers and to reassess the benefits package being offered. Mr. Dunkley said officers were becoming disillusioned partly due to the fact Police had not had a pay rise for two years and were working out of contract. A source close to the Police told The Royal Gazette: "It is two years now and people wonder why morale is an issue - this is not a way to recruit Bermudians to an organisation, I can tell you." However this paper understands from a variety of sources that foot-dragging on the part of the Bermuda Police Association could be to blame for the stalled pay talks. Mr. Dunkley also questioned how the axing of Community Beat Officers would help the Police build bridges at a time when they were finding it difficult to get witnesses to come forward for gun murders. He said the Community Beat Officers had been employed to get to know communities at a grass roots level and had been very successful in the Prospect area in particular. "They had a number of challenges but cleaned it up before it got out of hand." But he said the move to Community Action Teams would see Police reacting to incidents rather than preventing them as they go along.
August 31. Tourism's Pop and Sizzle ambassadors, left without pay for weeks, have been reimbursed. On Wednesday, nine students employed as meeters and greeters at tourism hot-spots had not been paid since late July leaving them fearing they would not get their money before college started. One angry parent said thousands of dollars was owing - with employees getting around $900 every two weeks - but promises to get it sorted had not been honored as the problem was passed from one person to another. She said the whole operation seemed haphazard with one manager turning up at her home to pay her daughter $900 in cash after a previous delay in payment. Then money stopped coming altogether. But hours after this a Tourism spokesperson said the delay in salary payment to the Pop and Sizzle Ambassadors has been rectified. An internal administrative matter was the cause of the delay. The Bermuda Department of Tourism apologized for any inconvenience caused to the Pop and Sizzle Ambassadors and thanked all nine dedicated workers for their stellar service on behalf of the Tourism Department.
August 31. Controversial education chief Ellen-Kate Horton slammed the public school system as chaotic and "a disaster in the making", according to documents obtained by the Mid-Ocean News.In a politically-laced, racially-charged memorandum to members of the Cabinet, the top civil servant, sister of Education Minister Randy Horton, warned that poor decisions "will undoubtedly assist in handing the government back to the UBP". And Ms Horton also argued that, by adopting a school curriculum devised in the US, "it is as if we are buying ourselves back into slavery" and implied that Government was spending taxpayer dollars unwisely. Her missive also took a swipe at education professionals, accusing school principals of meddling in the curriculum rather than focusing on what goes on in the classroom, while individual teachers were too busy "doing his or her own thing because no one is accountable to do the right thing". Former Education Minister Terry Lister came under fire for failing to meet with education officers while one public school head was attacked for sending his child to a private school. And Ms Horton also declared that Bermudians were still living under the yoke of colonialism which instilled an inferiority complex among islanders. The three-page e-mail, written in 2005 when Ms Horton was a member of the Curriculum and Instructional Leadership team (CIL), provoked an angry response from head teachers, who claimed they would "find it impossible to work with a group of people or a single person who can pen such vitriolic remarks". Chief Education Officer Joseph Christopher later confirmed that the Ministry had "dealt with Ms Horton with respect to the matter of this inappropriate e-mail". Ms Horton's e-mail reads in part: "Dear Sirs and Madams: How can the Government justify spending approximately $1.2 million of the taxpayers' money each year employing 13 education officers of the CIL team if there has obviously been a vote of no confidence? Shouldn't the Minister of Education ensure that the Government spends money allotted to education wisely? Recently we learned, quite by accident, that the middle school programme for Mathematics and English Language Arts will be the programme written in Plano, Texas, for THEIR students. Plano is a rich, majority white suburb of Dallas. We will spend megabucks for this online curriculum without seeing if the pilot (in place at Whitney Institute) is working. At no point has the Minister met with the five officers of the core areas to discuss this situation. We have asked for an audience with the Minister but have been denied. In an attempt to ameliorate these circumstances, the current Minister should seek assistance from those Ministers who successfully led our schools in the past (Horton, Butler). Do we really want independence? This must be some kind of JOKE, a country that cannot (or will not) adequately educate its people is not worthy of becoming independent. If we truly wish independence, one of the most important aspects en route to that destination is definitely a solid ability to educate the populace. The decision has been made to use a programme brought to Bermuda (and bought BY Bermuda) by an American principal of the Whitney Institute. Principals are not curriculum experts; a good number of them are not even good instructional leaders! While we 'try' the programme on Bermuda's public school system, the very principal of whom I have spoken, sends his son to private school. What is wrong with this picture? The Plano curriculum is clearly not good enough for his child!!! The decision to use the Plano curriculum has been made by five school principals who themselves (the majority of them anyway) were put into place using yet another imported tool (an interviewing tool). Fifty per cent of Bermuda's children are enrolled in private schools. This demonstrates an utter lack of confidence in public education. This has happened since the introduction of the American Middle School system, which occurred under the UBP watch. Was this by design?" Ms Horton went on to point out that the CIL team had spent a year reviewing the Middle School curriculum with teacher leaders, had written quarterly planners, had set standards and had taken teachers out of the classroom for "professional development" yet the CIL team had essentially been ignored by the Ministry. "The entire year of COSTLY work, preparation and research has gone to waste!" Ms Horton wrote. "Wake up and smell the roses before it is too late! Such decisions will undoubtedly assist in handing the government back to the UBP!" Ms Horton also questioned the financial cost of buying a curriculum model in from the US, adding: "We are clearly not THINKING independence as through this system, it is as if we are BUYING ourselves BACK into slavery! It is as if we are saying, 'Here Uncle Sam, teach our Bermudians to be little Americans . . . in fact WE'LL PAY YOU FOR IT!' "Colonialism systematically determines the manner in which we think and the reasons for which we think that way. This mindset is SO influential that we actually believe that our behavior is 'normal'. We have been socialized to feel and act as if we are inferior and incapable. We are ashamed of OUR culture hence we look to the USA and Britain (where blacks are the minority) to educate our kids rather than look towards the Caribbean isles where there are obviously similar racial demographics. Adopting exams and curricula devised for other incomparable jurisdictions will not solve our problems." In an attack on teachers, Ms Horton said: "Downloading lesson plans developed by someone else does not make teachers good instructors. The missing element is accountability. Everyone is doing his or her own thing because no one is held accountable to do the right thing. This has led to chaos. Persons with the least understanding of what this country needs to educate the leaders of tomorrow are being allowed to make important decisions that we will live to regret for decades to come." Calling for Bermudian educators to develop a curriculum model specifically for the island, Ms Horton concluded: "Gone are the days when we need 'massa' to tell us how to think. Creating our own standards, curriculum, assessment and units of study is the way forward. Principals, concern yourselves with ensuring that your teachers TEACH the curriculum well. Leave the written curriculum (which is mandated) to your curriculum leaders."
August 31. Ellen-Kate Horton was appointed Acting Education Permanent Secretary earlier this month, three months after the sacking of predecessor Rosemary Tyrell. Ms Tyrell's dismissal came about following an assessment by an independent team of UK inspectors which concluded that the public school system needed a complete overhaul. Ms Horton's position is probationary until it comes under review in December. The appointment sparked outrage among teacher representatives, who claimed that Ms Horton lacked experience and, as the sister of Education Minister Randy Horton, would be continually confronted with a conflict of interest. Although those allegations were later denied by the Bermuda Public Service Union, which staged a press conference to defend Ms Horton, the Mid-Ocean News has obtained documents which show the Education chief was reprimanded for her correspondence to Cabinet. Although she signed the letter 'Ellen-Kate Horton for the CIL team', she later acknowledged that she acted independently. When school leaders saw the memo, they demanded that Ms Horton face disciplinary action. In a letter to Chief Education Officer Joseph Christopher, Alan Leigh of the Association of School Principals wrote: "First of all, it must be verified that Ellen-Kate Horton did in fact write the letter on behalf of the CIL team or did she in fact write it for herself. "As I pointed out to you, principals will find it impossible to work with a group of people or a single person who can pen such vitriolic remarks. The least the ASP would expect would be a verbal apology given by Ellen-Kate Horton to the principals as a body. If it is verified that the CIL team were in fact responsible, then we would expect the Ministry to take the necessary action. A statement like 'a good number of them are not even good instructional leaders' does not create the harmony necessary to create a winning team. The way the principal of Whitney has been castigated is totally lacking in respect and has to be dealt with severely." Responding to the letter the same day, Dr. Christopher said: "The matter of that e-mail has been raised with Ms Horton and she has stated that the e-mail was of her own crafting and was not written on behalf of the CIL team. The Ministry has worked, over the past week or so, to solve the matter of the online curriculum and had come to a satisfactory conclusion for all participants. The Ministry has dealt with Ms Horton with respect to the matter of this inappropriate e-mail and would hope that the principals would not allow this to derail our ongoing collaboration." When told about the letter yesterday, Bermuda Union of Teachers President Lisa Trott said it demonstrated why so many teachers had opposed Ms Horton's appointment. And she also defended the principal of Whitney Institute Middle School, saying it was unfair for Ms Horton to single him out for attack. "There is a procedure in place for people to discuss their concerns, and for a civil servant to write such a letter to the Cabinet is totally out of the realm of normalcy," Mrs. Trott said. "Any other civil servant would never have gotten away with penning such a letter to the Cabinet and the fact that the letter was sent to Cabinet speaks for the free-for-all rein that some people are given if they have the right connections. It was very antagonistic and didn't help in any way. The whole tone spoke of the encounters that the union has had with Ms Horton. We objected to her appointment and the letter shows why." Referring to Ms Horton's condemnation of the Whitney Institute Middle head for sending his child to a private school, Mrs. Trott said: " It's very unfair to criticize anyone for where they send their children to school as there are many factors that have to be taken into account in that decision. Of course Ms Horton's own child never set foot in a public school in Bermuda, she did go to a public school but I understand that it was a very elite public school in Canada. I guess this is typical of the type of personal attack that we get from this person. But if you are looking at the system as a whole and want to change the whole system for the better, such personal attacks should not be necessary, there's no need to single out individuals. I know of the positive influence that the principal at Whitney has had and it was so unfair to single him out. The point is, a good idea is a good idea and if a person has a good idea it shouldn't matter where they come from, be it Canada, America or the Caribbean. We admit that we need to change some things but we are not getting the maximum out of everybody if we're fighting amongst ourselves."
August 31. The Bermuda Public Services Union (BPSU) is investigating a string of complaints that career civil servants are being overlooked while plum posts are allegedly given to political appointees. Secretary Ed Ball yesterday confirmed the Union is addressing "a number of concerns" expressed by Government workers who believe traditional hiring and promotion practices have been bypassed. Although he refused to state what specific placements are under question, Mr. Ball said the issue was compounded by an anxiety that senior civil servants would have to report to persons with less experience. "A number of concerns have been voiced to the Union which are being investigated," he said. "And if there are violations, someone will have to answer. The Bermuda Public Services Commission is there to stop political interference. It checks to see if the proper steps have been followed. I can state that no contract worker can give direction to a civil servant, period. A consultant is hired for a specific job and has no vested powers greater than a civil servant especially a senior civil servant." The hiring of Premier Ewart Brown's former press secretary Scott Simmons as a consultant to the Ministry of Education was criticised as a political appointment earlier this month as was the decision to make Education Minister Randy's Horton's sister Ellen-Kate his permanent secretary. Teacher representatives were particularly outraged by Ms Horton's appointment, claiming she lacked experience and, as Mr. Horton's sister, would likely continually be confronted with a conflict of interest. Questions have also been raised over posts within the Department of Tourism, Government was interrogated over its faith-based tourism scheme headed by Dr. Brown's political campaign manager Andre Curtis. As part of that initiative, Mr. Curtis was paid $400,000 and brought 2,200 tourists to the island over a 12-month period. Although the assertion has been denied the Opposition has claimed the scheme is a way of getting cash to Mr. Curtis as a thank you for his campaign assistance. More recently, Emily-Gail Dill was transferred from the Ruth Seaton James Centre for the Performing Arts to help run the faith-based initiative out of the Department of Tourism's New York office and assist with the Bermuda Music Festival and the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. While he did not comment directly on any of the mentioned appointments, Mr. Ball said: "There are issues the Union will be addressing shortly. There is a process in place for secondments, contract officers and the like. We like to operate with transparency. One of the biggest criticisms I have is of people who only tell one side of the story, people who are not open enough to tell the truth. This is a principled matter and there are certain principles we like to work to. If (an appointment) doesn't satisfy that criteria, then something is wrong. The Bermuda Government is supposed to be the employer of choice. It must do things above board and follow (standards set by) the Bermuda Public Services Commission."August 31. Electricity costs are set to soar after the Fuel Adjustment Rate peaked above ten cents for the first time today. Residents face a two percent increase in their bills for September after the Fuel Adjustment Charge reached 30 percent - up from 28 percent in August. But alternative energy sources are now on their way, according to Belco. The company has applied for planning permission to install a wind turbine and solar panels at a house in Warwick in an experiment into the feasibility of introducing renewable energy into homes on the Island. Belco says in order to make Bermuda more sustainable, traditional energy must be combined with large and smaller renewable energy sources. In terms of large sources, the Current to Current project, which aims to harness the power of the ocean, is still in the pipeline, with work on an underwater power generator scheduled for 2009. Research into currents around the Island last year concluded there were too many eddies to generate power successfully. As a consistent current is needed, the Gulf Coast is now being looked at as a possible location. A cable on the seabed would run power to Bermuda. Belco spokeswoman Linda Smith said: "Our agreement is in place with Current to Current to purchase power from them when it's available. The agreement is to purchase between ten and 20 mega watts in the initial stages." She said: "We need to add 40 mega watts of new capacity by 2010 to meet increased demand and to replace older plant. We have been taking a look at how we will meet these needs and we envisage a combination of small scale renewable power for individual homes, and large scale renewable (ie. Current to Current). The capacity needs to be a combination of small scale, large scale and traditional plant." Belco this week made advances towards renewable energy sources in the home with its planning application for a 'micro windmill' and solar/thermal panels at a company-owned property in Middle Road, Warwick. While wind turbines generate power, solar panels transfer heat and can be used to warm water. Ms Smith said a Belco employee will volunteer to live at the cottage to assess their practicality and the costs involved. The company hopes to have its 'beta site' - experiment, in place by the end of the year and then take the public on tours to gauge their reaction. "We are looking to showcase a 'beta site' at the end of year to provide examples of various kinds of small scale renewables. We aim to assess the value of them to the consumer," said Ms Smith. "Until there is a large scale renewable (ie. Current to Current) we feel the community should be looking to incorporate some level of small scale energy in new construction and larger renovations. We want to work with the community to find a comfort level and so find ways to incorporate these new strategies to meet Bermuda's overall energy needs." Ms Smith said: "At the moment Belco is paying between $89.17 and $109.85 per barrel and as a result, the Fuel Adjustment Charge is at its highest level ever of 10.2 cents per kilowatt hour, which currently accounts for approximately 30 percent of the total bill." She added that this charge is used by utility companies around the world to adjust bills according to fluctuations in fuel prices, and that Belco does not profit from it. The charge is reviewed by the Price Control Commission. Since June 2005, it has almost doubled, from 5.3 cents per kilowatt hour. Ms Smith urged residents to stamp out "phantom power" loses by unplugging their computers and electrical goods when not in use. "Just make sure you're not paying for something you're not getting any benefit from, for example when your television is turned off but still plugged in," she said. For more energy saving tips, visit the company's website at: belco.bm.
August 31. It's the newest eatery on the Island at Collectors Hill.When Mr Chicken decided to relocate to Queen's Street in Hamilton, ready and waiting to take over the vacated premises on South Road were Mr. Simmons, his wife Emma and his brother Wilmont. Their latest business venture the Rotisserie Grill is now up and running. From March to July the restaurant was redesigned and fitted out with equipment and fittings from the US and Italy. Although there are a few final fittings to be added, and the complement of staff is not quite full, the rotisserie opened four weeks ago and so far has been building up its customer base through word of mouth. There are already regulars who visit a number of times each week to enjoy the wholesome comfort foods on offer.
August 31. A former officer has rejected claims that the recent restructuring of the Police Service will improve its operation or effectiveness.And he contends that the Community Action Teams (CAT) developed under the realignment will have little impact on major problems facing the island such as drugs and gang violence. His comments followed a report by this newspaper that officers were left demoralized by a decision to reduce the Narcotics and Criminal Investigations Departments by half, and get rid of community officers. That staff was drafted to the CAT initiative, with a team established in each of the island's three police stations. The Police Service issued a press release in response to the story in which Superintendent Michael DeSilva insisted the realignment would not compromise "community safety, operational effectiveness or public confidence". He argued that the CAT initiative, combined with a new shift system, would place more officers in places such as Hamilton, at times when bars and nightclubs are busy. And he dismissed the comments of officers interviewed by the Mid-Ocean News account, saying their views were in the minority. Countered a former officer in a letter to the editor this week: "I think it is fair to say that the major problems facing the police today are drugs, burglary/theft, gang violence (and) anti-social behavior, all of which are drug related, major disregard for the rules of the road by certain road users and the list goes on. I cannot see what impact the CAT patrols will have on the crime/drug problems. Will groups of police officers patrolling in vans be in a position to solve burglaries or thefts or the cutting down of on major drug importation through our ports and open shoreline? Supt. DeSilva goes at length to say the low morale issue is from a minority of officers. I would suggest that if a properly conducted survey were to be carried out within the Police Department on the problems which affect morale, Supt. DeSilva would be in for a shock." The man agreed that officers should be on hand to make arrests for "possession of minor amounts of drugs, drinking in public places, etc.," in Hamilton, but questioned how the Service intended to efficiently police the rest of the island. "I am sure all the victims of crime in Bermuda, from Somerset to St. George's, who have been burgled, robbed or assaulted, most of the culprits are drug users, will be happy to know that the pool of detectives, both CID and Narcotics, has been reduced in order to help fill CAT patrols to make things safe around bars and nightclubs. I would say it is ridiculous to reduce the manpower of two of the most important departments in the Police Service. These are officers who carry out all the major investigations, inquiries and interviews, complete the files and normally end up with their case in Supreme Court. Most of them have received overseas training and have many years of experience behind them. To stick this type of officer in a van for 12 hours whilst the crime rate soars is farcical." A police spokesman yesterday gave this response: "As you know the realignment took place on June 16, 2007 and is designed to shape the organisation so that it best develops community-focused partnership policing. On September 16 it will have undergone a three-month initial trial period where the Bermuda Police Service can fully ascertain the effectiveness of the new realignment. It is much too early to deal with specifics as levied by a former police officer, particularly when the criticisms are out of context with the overall purpose of the realignment. We remain focused and committed to ensuring that we provide the best policing strategies for Bermuda."
August 31. A collection of artifacts found in Bermuda's waters is now on exhibit at Sydney's Hyde Park Barracks Museum, one of the convict heritage sites.The display is the culmination of decades of research by local divers Michael Davis and Chris Addams, who together retrieved more than 2,500 convict-related items from waters off Dockyard including military buttons, badges, regimental pieces and items carved by hand out of Bermuda flowstone. Australia's Historic Houses Trust (HHT), which operates the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, offered to hold a two-year exhibit of the collection after Mr. Addams' daughter Rhiannon gave a presentation hosted by the University of Tasmania and the International Centre for Convict Studies a few years ago. A Bermudian living in Perth, she spoke before representatives of historical and archaeological institutions around the world. Convict Hulks: Life on the Prison Ships had its official opening early in August. A few snags along the way might have prevented that, however, were it not for the intervention of Premier Ewart Brown. "I have to give big thanks to the Premier," said Mr. Addams. "Back in January I applied directly to him and his secretary came back to me within two weeks, saying it was okay for the exhibit to go ahead." Although protected by the Dromedary Trust, its name taken from one of the "vermin-ridden, rat-infested" hulks that housed hordes of convicts here, Mr. Addams said he felt it appropriate official sanction was given before the artifacts were moved off the island as they belong to all of Bermuda. The troubles didn't end once he received the go-ahead, however. Less than a week before the exhibit's planned opening in Australia, the artifacts remained in Bermuda, mired in bureaucratic red tape. "The customs people in Australia are probably the strictest in the world," Mr. Addams said. "And when it comes to items made of wood, of bone, etc., they (really) go over them. We wanted to go early in anticipation that everything would have to be quarantined." The diver postponed two flights waiting to see the collection ready for travel. "We were in utter panic," he recalled. "But again I have to thank Carla Hayward in Government Archives and Dr. Brown. He gave the okay for the exhibition to go to Sydney on a Wednesday. It went straight on a freight plane to London and from there, on an express freight to Sydney, where it arrived Friday evening." Passage went equally smoothly at the other end. According to Mr. Addams, Australian customs officers and representatives from the HHT worked from midnight until 10 a.m. the following morning to ensure the date set for the collection's official opening would be met, "because they knew it was incredibly important". It was a view his daughter had taken in an interview with the Mid-Ocean News earlier this year as she explained why Australia would be interested in a collection culled from the Atlantic. "In my opinion, one of the significant things that the Bermuda collection brings, is that in Australia the physical items of the convict heritage are things that the convicts made because they were convicts, the buildings they were instructed to make, the paintings they were instructed to paint, the furniture they were instructed to do. They were all created because they were convict slaves. The Dromedary convict collection is significant because these are the things the convict made because he was still a man, because he was still a person, because he still had that spirit, rather than as a sign of their indenture." The British Government established convict hulks at many of its colonies including Bermuda, New South Wales and Tasmania. The Dromedary was sent to Bermuda as a convict hulk in 1826. The vessel, which had formerly been used as convict transport to Australia's colonies, remained moored here for nearly 40 years. Of the 9,000 convicts sent here, close to 2,000 died. In 1982, Mr. Addams and Mr. Davis received permission to excavate the hulk's anchorage area, finding scores of items reflecting convict life in that period. "For me and Mike (the exhibit) is the culmination of 25 years of fighting for recognition of what these people put into Bermuda's history. It's a forgotten aspect of our past," Mr. Addams stated. "They built the Dockyard, they built all the forts. They were a totally expendable force. Twenty or 30 died, they said, we'll send over more, no problem. They're all buried outside sanctified ground, on Watford Island where they sit outside the walls of the main graveyard." Mr. Addams said he felt Bermudians would be proud of the exhibit, which includes a sidebar on the island itself. "It was just downright incredible, they have really done Bermuda well. The Dromedary material was the main exhibit in the old Convict Barracks, which are kept in a pristine condition by the (HHT). On the opening night they laid on actors and actresses in period costume complete with redcoats in uniform. And to walk into the exhibit was stunning for on one wall you had the satellite image of Bermuda on its lonely underwater mountain pedestal and on the other wall, a six-foot-by-two image of the old Dockyard circa 1848, depicting the hulks in place. I was shown four prints of convicts in situ and then asked what I thought about them, it took me a few seconds to realize they were taken in Bermuda. The backdrop of a Bermuda sailing craft is very recognizable." Once the exhibit has run its course at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, Mr. Addams said there was hope it would travel to other parts of the world. "They want to set up exhibits in Perth, in Tasmania. What we're hoping is it will become a truly travelling showpiece for Bermuda and its underwater maritime history. So it doesn't stop there." The exhibit runs through July 26, 2009. For more information visit hht.net.au or, for details on the Dromedary Trust, convicthulks.com.
August 31. Hundreds are expected to participate in the Labour Day celebrations. The joint Labour Day planning committee (JLPC) representing all the registered trade unions in Bermuda have revamped the agenda that will climax at Bernard Park, following the traditional march from Union Square outside the BIU Headquarters building. It will get under way at 11.30 a.m. on Monday In the past many people who did not march tended to gather at the park, some as early as 8.30 a.m. They had little or nothing in particular to engage their attention until the marchers reached there and the speech-making began. The programme has been revamped to cater to those early birds. It should be interesting, according to a JLPC spokesman who urged churches, workers' groups and other organizations to support the Labour Day events. The social highlight of the weekend will be the 26th annual banquet of the Bermuda Industrial Union. It will be a gala event, as usual, at the Fairmont Southampton Resort. Nearly all 600 seats have been sold out. As we reported last week, guest speaker will be US Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, who is serving his eighth term as the Democratic Congressman for Mississippi's Second District and is currently chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. He is the longest-serving African-American elected official in the state of Mississippi. He served as alderman and mayor in his hometown for years. His reputation as a no-nonsense problem solver has earned him the trust of his constituents and the respect of his colleagues in Washington. Another US Congressman will be among the local and visiting dignitaries the BIU will be hosting. He is Rep. George Kenneth Butterfield, Jr. known to have no hesitation in claiming Bermuda as his ancestral home. Born in Wilson, North Carolina and commonly known as G.K. Butterfield, he is an American Democratic Party politician who currently represents North Carolina's 1st congressional district in Congress Rep. Butterfield's father was a Bermudian, Dr. G.K. Butterfield, who migrated to the US to further his education. He became a dentist, married an American and practiced in Wilson for 50 years. Dr. Butterfield became engrossed in politics and was elected to the Wilson City Council in 1953, making him one of the first African- American elected officials in North Carolina since Reconstruction (1862-77). Rep. Butterfield obtained his higher education at North Carolina Central University, earning an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a Juris Doctor law degree. Before his election to Congress, he was an attorney and an elected judge. He serves on the House committee on Energy and Commerce. He also serves as one of the nine chief deputy whips on the Democratic side. He is an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Rep. Butterfield's closest kin in Bermuda are members of the Pearman clan who own and operate the People's Pharmacy in Hamilton. Among the other dignitaries at the BIU gala will be Premier Ewart Brown and US Consul General Gregory Slayton.
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