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Bermuda's 2015 November History and News

Events that made the headlines in the eleventh month of this calendar year

By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us).

Bermuda beach

See end of this file for all of our many History files

November 30. Tax authorities in Britain will be given new powers to demand personal financial details from Bermuda. The Island is one of 90 countries that will begin to share the financial details of British residents with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) from January under new plans to catch tax evaders. According to an article in the Daily Telegraph last week and a November 28, 2015 formal listing, automatic information sharing between banks across the world means authorities will soon be able to access the bank accounts, property and trusts of UK residents with assets, money or trusts overseas. See Adverts placed in the British national newspapers this week, listing the countries that will share data, warned people with undeclared offshore wealth to “come us before we come to you.” The new campaign is part of a drive to claw back an estimated offshore “tax gap” of £565m to the public purse, the Telegraph report stated. David Gauke, the financial secretary to the Treasury, said the campaign makes it clear that HMRC will put a stop to “hiding money in another country at the expense of honest taxpayers.” He added: “Under our new regime the small minority who evade tax offshore, facilitate or turn a blind eye to offshore tax evasion will face tougher sanctions.” From January 2017, 90 countries and their jurisdictions listed alphabetically from Albania to Uruguay including France and Spain will begin sharing the exact bank balances and savings interest received by UK residents. The data will be shared as far back as January 2016. “There’s not really anywhere for people to shelter as more and more countries begin automatic information exchanges,” Richard Morley of accountancy firm BDO, told the Telegraph. He added: “HMRC will let the computers do the legwork and, using its new access to previously secret financial details, will make an example of somebody to show a bit of teeth. It remains to be seen how they will use their new intelligence and powers, although the rules are hardly intended to imprison unwitting taxpayers who make an innocent error or forget to declare their inherited wealth. Countries are:

November 30. Craster was not a popular character with Game of Thrones fans. Welsh actor Robert Pugh, who visited Bermuda this week, played the wildling whose relationship with his daughters is best described as sordid; once they are of a certain age he marries them, fathers more daughters and the cycle continues. It’s one of many great storylines that have made the HBO series a hit. Mr Pugh, 66, hasn’t seen any of them. He’s been too busy acting. “It was just a job,” he said. “Once it’s finished, all the lines are gone. I remember it was a rough and ready set with all these girls hanging over me — that’s when I realized something was not right. But it’s always good to play nasty characters. People remember them.” The Welsh actor was one of several celebrities recently here for the Hackers Cup, a charity golf tournament held over two days at Mid Ocean Club and Port Royal Club. “I was asked and couldn’t believe it,” said Mr Pugh, who had never visited the Island before. “I heard Bermuda and I was jumping down her throat before she finished her question. “It’s beautiful, just fantastic. The people are so welcoming.” He fell in love with theatre as a young man in Wales, while studying for his O Levels. “I loved reading, in particular about the 18th century,” he recalled. “The first play we were studying was The School for Scandal. As part of our studies we went to see a production, collegiate theatre in Cardiff. People forgot lines, chairs fell over, screens fell, but I was absolutely transfixed. I thought, ‘I have to be a part of that magic up there’. I was always curious, but not particularly bright or sharp, but from then on it became my passion. I had tunnel vision where it’s all you can do; like breathing.” At 21 he was in university studying English but spent considerable time writing student dramas and shows and performing. “At end of the first year I thought, ‘I’ve gotta become an actor’,” he said. He dropped out of school, and went to London to pursue : the craft thinking he “was God’s gift.” He said: “I had a rude awakening. I went to [audition for entry to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art] but didn’t bother to learn my lines for the audition.” He was not accepted into the renowned institution; applications to other drama schools similarly failed “because of my lackadaisical attitude”, the actor said. The penny soon dropped; people were looking for commitment, as well as talent. “I realized there was more to acting than meets the eye. I got a job collecting rubbish for the council — it was hard work — and in the evenings I went to night school at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in North London.” He eventually reapplied to drama schools and was accepted into Rose Bruford College. Today he is listed with Gary Oldman among the respected school’s notable alumni. “I spent three years there learning the craft,” Mr Pugh said. The roles followed. In the years since, he has appeared in numerous stage, television and movie roles. He has only seen a snippet of Game of Thrones, despite its huge success. “I’ve never watched myself in that,” he said. “I’m not a big television watcher. Why, when you can read a good book? I was in a golfing junket in Scotland and they showed it on a big screen to show the paying punters what [the celebrities involved] were famous for. So I saw a bit of it there; a half scene, about five seconds. My best role was in a play based on the Danish film, Festen. I was offered the father ... another nice character I played.” The father in Festen is accused by his son of molesting him and his twin sister, who committed suicide. The accusation is made in front of family, at a dinner on his 60th birthday. The film was released in the United States under the title The Celebration. “In the cast was a young Tom Hardy,” Mr Pugh said. “It was one of my favourite roles. It was great for an actor and showed at the Almeida Theatre, which is a very intimate theatre and perfect for that type of play.” His acting has since taken a back seat to writing and directing. “In the early days I worked for a production company and wrote a couple of films and adapted a book,” he said. “I was set to study creative writing but couldn’t say no to acting. One takes 110 per cent; the other 200 per cent. Writing is with you all the time and that’s where I want to go — unless a great script comes along.”

November 30. The head of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission has strongly dismissed rumours that sites have been selected for the Island’s casinos. Richard Schuetz, the commission’s executive director told The Royal Gazette: “If there has been a deal made, I have not been made aware of that. If a deal was made and I was lied to about it, you would probably be reading about me leaving the Island. “At this point in my life, I don’t need that. I have a commitment to the people of Bermuda. That is the only constituency I serve.” Commission chairman Alan Dunch echoed similar sentiments, saying: “When I was appointed I was assured that the commission had a clean slate from which to work. I made it clear I was taking the job on the basis that there was a clean slate, and as I sit here today I can tell you that the commission has made no deals, no promises to anyone. If somebody else has, they did so at their own peril because as far as I’m concerned this commission is autonomous and will make its own decisions based on merits, not based on other people’s promises.” Mr Schuetz, a veteran of the US casino industry, and Mr Dunch, a veteran lawyer, spoke to this newspaper in a wide-ranging interview about the commission’s work as Bermuda prepares for its first casinos. He said that while the commission is still laying out the application process for prospective casino operators based on the Casino Gaming Act 2014, he said that any request for proposal (RFP) process would be public. “We are still working on the details on how that is going to roll out, but absolutely it will be public,” he said. While Shawn Crockwell, the tourism minister, recently expressed hope that the first casino would open its doors in time for the 35th America’s Cup in 2017, Mr Schuetz would say only that the commission is working as fast as possible to lay the groundwork. “Singapore were talking about legislation in 2003. In 2004 they did the request for concepts. The first property opened in late 2010. These take a long time because there are a lot of steps that need to be handled correctly. Another model that shows up a lot in discussions is the Jamaican model. The Jamaican enabling legislation was done in 2010, the first casino in Jamaica will probably open under the act in 2019 or 2020. What we are doing right now is education and looking at the Act, seeing what is the best way using the act to move forward. We are looking at doing it smarter, more efficiently with less bodies and maintaining the level of integrity that we need to feel comfortable moving forward. We are working on developing a rate programme now. We are working closely with a lot of anti-money laundering and counter terrorism people to make sure we get that right. We are just starting to lay a very strong foundation.” Mr Dunch, meanwhile, said that the opening of the first Bermuda casino would likely take time. “The initial set of regulations to do with designated sites should be tabled before the end of this year. That’s an important first step. As to the necessary regulations to get us up and running in terms of processing applications, I would like to think we could see that by the end of the first quarter of the next year, but that could be optimistic. It may not necessarily be a reality. It has to be understood that we take the process only so far, and when we are in a position to entertain applications, the actual processing of the applications is a timely process. Months. And once a licence is issued, there’s a time lag between the issuing of the licence and the physical casino being completed. That’s out of our hands. I would imagine we would put conditions on the licences that are designed to see things built in a timely manner, but there’s still going to be a significant time chunk that’s there for the physical development. When you start to add all those bits up, you see that the opening day of the first casino in Bermuda is not around the corner.” Mr Schuetz added that unforeseen issues can cause further complications and delays, saying: “We once hit archaeological digs on a tribal casino, which slows things down a lot. MGM has recently had a lawsuit. There can be environmental issues. Labour disruptions, a hurricane crashing through the Island. There are a lot of things that can happen. We are just doing the best we can under the functions that we can control.”

November 30. Parliament’s latest session consisted largely of “housekeeping legislation”, which was covered with bipartisan support. Business legislation will be updated with the tabling of the Corporate Service Provider Business Exemption Order, the Government Authorities (Fees) Order and the Bermuda Public Accountability Board Amendment Act, all brought by Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance. It came as Bermuda’s success as a financial services jurisdiction was boosted by the Solvency II equivalence for the local insurance market. The Solvency II directive introduces “a modernized risk-based regulatory regime for insurance and reinsurance undertakings in the European Union”, the minister told the House of Assembly. The directive takes effect from January 1.“Meeting an imposed deadline is difficult, but reaching a goal that many thought to be impossible is a feat of determination, endurance and extraordinary discipline,” Mr Richards added." Congratulations to the entire Bermuda team — you have truly performed a great service to Bermuda.” 

November 30. Almost three years after Bermuda Air Medivac shut down, a Smith’s-based entrepreneur is looking to establish a new air ambulance service for the Island. “People don’t know this service is needed until they need it,” said Gilbert “Artie” Darrell, a firefighter and EMT paramedic. The air ambulance would transport people in need of specialized medical attention from Bermuda to the United States. This would include those who have suffered strokes, serious traumas, major orthopedic surgeries, and spinal or brain injuries. Bermuda Air Medivac, a private company, was forced to close in March 2013 due to financial problems — leaving the Island without a speedy medical evacuation service." At the moment, if a patient needs to be transported to the States, in my experience it can take 12 to 24 hours for an aircraft to be found and brought to Bermuda,” said Mr Darrell." I had a stroke patient once, and I remember him waiting for two days to be flown out." The 32-year-old, owner and founder of contracting and consulting company Darrell International, wants to cut that time to three hours or less between the initial phone call and the patient boarding the aeroplane, which would be based in Bermuda. He is looking to raise between $3 million and $4 million from venture capitalists in the United States and Bermuda. Mr Darrell suggested that his business plan is “fairly profitable”, with patients paying either themselves or via their insurance carriers." I really think we could provide a great service,” he said, “not just for the local population, but for tourists as well.“We’re looking for ground support from the people in Bermuda. I know that already exists,” he added. Eloise Bell, the nurse who launched Bermuda Air Medivac, said she was concerned Mr Darrell’s service might hit the same financial problems that hers did." There's still a need,” she said. “I think it’s a good thing, but you’ve got to have enough money.”

November 30. Battle lines have been drawn over allegations of mistreatment and mismanagement at Summerhaven, but staff and residents have also rallied behind John Powell as its chairman. Mr Powell dismissed allegations raised by Progressive Labour Party MP Glenn Blakeney, who renewed his offensive against the chairman in Friday’s House of Assembly. Meanwhile Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, told MPs she had visited Summerhaven. She said an investigation was under way with a view to making changes at the residence for the disabled. Six members of staff at Summerhaven wrote to this newspaper in response to allegations, calling the accusations absurd and untrue.“ We work very closely with the residents on a daily basis and do not witness any form of abuse,” the letter added. The staff said they bought items for residents, knowing that their income was limited, pointing out that the facility is classed as an independent living residential home. Ms Atherden told Parliament that part of Summerhaven’s difficulties came from its classification: “There are questions about how it can be regulated and under what Act,” she said. She protested Mr Blakeney’s remarks during the motion to adjourn, telling him she disagreed with “he-said she-said allegations, because there is always another version. Mr Blakeney demanded to know why the residents’ rent was being paid directly to Summerhaven from Financial Assistance, leaving residents with “no financial support to cover such expenses as food, laundry, personal care items and health coverage”. Calling for a “full investigation, with Mr Powell either suspended or not there”, Mr Blakeney said Mr Powell’s dual role as chairman and day-to-day facility manager represented a conflict of interest, adding that he used “intimidation tactics” on residents. Mr Powell told The Royal Gazette that any issues raised by Summerhaven were addressed by the facility’s board, expressing disappointment that Mr Blakeney had not contacted him. He conceded that the MP’s complaints about the facility’s appearance had come at a time while it was under renovation.“ The place is 30 years old and it’s in bad need of renovation,” he said. “We got one room empty and we completely renovated it. We’ll move people into that room while we renovate their rooms. Right now we have 13 residents and we are not taking anybody else in until we get them all renovated. There’s a lot of work to do.” Summerhaven has now acquired its own nurse, he said, and a government dietitian has helped coordinate a menu. Any resident with a complaint had recourse to Summerhaven’s board. Mr Powell added: “If they’re not happy with a decision made by management, there is an avenue to follow, which is the board." He said no complaints had gone to the board since he was last approached by this newspaper in June. A group of four residents, who asked not to be named, vouched for Mr Powell’s running of the facility.“  It’s politics,” said one man, who is wheelchair-bound from muscular dystrophy." Some people might have gripes with the administration, but if I have a problem I go to the office and talk about it.“ I would rather see them sit down and iron it out." He said Summerhaven residents prided themselves on taking care of themselves, and said that as a diabetic he managed his own medication and diet." You can see how divided people are down here — one group gets on, one group does not. Mr Blakeney needs to talk to all the residents, not just a few of them." Another resident said: “This place does not fall in under the rest homes. Social services says we’re a nursing home. But it was built for independent living. We look after ourselves." Elizabeth Richardson, who has served as an inspector for decades and now serves on the board, told this newspaper: “The same people have complained forever. They’re never happy. “The premises here is very nice, and over the years I have seen the work Mr Powell has done to upgrade it. I’ve seen the improvements.” 

November 30. Hundreds of families had lined the streets yesterday eagerly awaiting the Santa Parade. When wet weather threatened to halt the annual event, at 4pm, as if on cue, the sky cleared to reveal a picture-perfect rainbow over Hamilton. Santa Claus would indeed be coming to town. Paraders gathered in full regalia and Gombeys hurried to get their masks on for a photograph. Glow sticks, light sabers and luminescent shoelaces — it was an evening of miracles as Front Street experienced its first snowfall. In Motion School of Dance pumped out the fake flakes on to their dueling army of nutcrackers and mice. “We took a leap of faith,” owner and director Lizz Pimentel said after the torrential rain had stopped. “They’re all here. The Rat King, Clara, the SugarPlum Fairy, all the principal dancers — it’s a little bit of everything to give everyone a taste of what’s to come.” Mother of two Daina Casling said: “It kicks off the season. We’re now treating our spot on Par-la-Ville like May 24. We came two hours early to secure it. The kids were very concerned the rain might upset that tradition. We’re so happy it went ahead.” Butterfield & Vallis carried a green message this year, a neon “Reduce Reuse Recycle” emblazoned across their chests. The float used recycled palettes for the siding and green, plastic bottles were stacked in the shape of a fir tree. “We drank a lot of Highland Spring in order to make the tree,” advertising manager Terri Durrant told The Royal Gazette. Made entirely of recycled materials, the team used drained batteries and discarded bottle tops to make up the familiar features of a snowman. Brittany Ricca said: “I’ve dressed up as Tinkerbell, a Mexican dancer.” “I’ve done it all,” she said. “And now you’re trash,” a fellow floater teased. Ms Ricca’s father is the assistant manager and she has been involved in the parade since she was a child. Bermuda Karting Club had its reindeer travel by race car instead of the traditional sleigh and BGA Wholesale Distributors created “a one in a minion Christmas”. Dressed as the popular, yellow Pixar characters, they had countless sacks of candy canes to give to the crowd. Alexandra Lima, dance teacher at Danceations, called it the highlight of their year. “We’re so proud of them,” she said. “All we want is for them to do well and have fun — to enjoy themselves and be kids still.” New Parents Marc and Sandra Boden brought their 8-month-old daughter, Chrislyn. “We brought her last year in the belly,” he said. He said it was important to them to share these experiences. “We want to take her to everything. It’s a very special Christmas for us.”

November 30. Premier Michael Dunkley has traveled to London to take part in Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meetings. According to a Cabinet Office spokeswoman, the meetings were scheduled to begin yesterday and continue until December 3, with the Premier being joined by representatives from Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena and Pitcairn. Among the topics for discussion are economic diversification and development, regional border security, global standards of financial regulation accountability and transparency and environmental sustainability. “While in London, the Premier will also engage in meetings with OT leaders, Foreign and Commonwealth Office representatives and meet with recognized business entities such as Lloyd’s of London,” the spokeswoman said. “The Premier will also conduct UK media outreach and attend a media breakfast sponsored by the Bermuda Tourism Authority.” This evening Mr Dunkley will also take part in a networking reception for Bermudians living, working and studying at the university level, hosted by the Bermuda Government’s London Office.

November 30. A community group’s dream of reconnecting the old Bermuda Railway Trail took a step closer to becoming reality at the weekend with the official opening of a new bridge over Store Hill. The Friends of the Bermuda Railway have already renovated long stretches of the trail in Hamilton Parish with the help of generous donations and numerous volunteers. The latest phase of the project has involved the construction of a bridge over Store Hill as well as an extensive clean-up of the trail either side of the crossing. On Saturday Michael Dunkley joined the Governor, George Fergusson, and Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works, for the opening of the bridge. The Premier hailed the initiative as a great example of how the community and Government could work together for the benefit of Bermudians and visitors. He then cut a ribbon — that was symbolically made in the colours of St George’s and Somerset — to officially open the bridge. Mike Murphy, who together with his son, Tucker, has been at the forefront of the scheme, thanked the numerous volunteers who initially cleared the stretch of the trail. He said: “Deloitte, Worldwide Travel, Montpelier Re employee volunteers and the Under-17 National Rugby Team all helped to cut and carry away over 15 years of undergrowth to prep the site around the bridge and the trail.” Mr Fergusson urged residents to take pride in the trail and take responsibility for keeping it clean. He also thanked Fabian Minors, who lives on the trail in Devonshire, for having adopted the section west of Store Hill by keeping it trimmed and clean and setting a great example for the community. 

November 29. Several major international business events are headed to the Island next year, including two inaugural conferences that could attract hundreds of corporate delegates to Bermuda for the first time. Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) this evening announced it has succeeded in bringing the prestigious Legal Week Private Client Forum Americas 2016 to Rosewood Tucker’s Point Resort in February, and is now finalizing details with Canada’s Radius Financial Education to stage the World Alternative Investment Summit (WAIS) 2016 here later in the year. “These are both big-name events that will serve to heighten Bermuda’s profile as an international financial centre,” said Sean Moran, BDA business development manager for the asset management and private client sectors. They will also boost our business tourism numbers through overseas attendees and generate potential interest among delegates who may want to consider doing business here. Events of this kind raise our profile and bring direct investment.” The Legal Week event is scheduled for February 10—12 and will focus on wealth-planning issues affecting high-net-worth individuals and families based in North, South and Central America. WAIS events bring together participants within the global alternative investment industry, including investment managers, hedge funds, family offices, equity managers, investment banks, attorneys and investors. For the past 14 years, Radius has been Canada’s leading producer of large high-level financial service conferences. “We are thrilled to be hosting the World Alternative Investment Summit in Bermuda in 2016 and we believe our conference will provide global asset managers an excellent platform to Bermuda,” said Tony Sanfelice, president and CEO of Toronto-based Radius. “We have been very impressed with the assistance we have received so far from the BDA and believe the agency’s targeted marketing and business development strategies will prove invaluable to Bermuda’s growth within its financial services sector in the coming years.” That sentiment is being echoed by numerous groups that have worked with the BDA over the past year to stage successful events on the Island, said BDA conferences & events manager Nicole Conrad Morrison, adding her team had noticed increased interest in Bermuda among a wide gamut of industry sectors, while those that had held events are now committed to returning to the Island. “Bermuda has seen a positive trend with the increase of international conferences finding a home on the Island,” said Ms Conrad Morrison. “This is an extremely positive reflection on the jurisdiction and our high-calibre talent across all industry pillars. The BDA provides valuable support to conference producers when they’re considering Bermuda. We guide them through the process, connecting them with necessary contacts, resources and industry support. That close teamwork, and the resulting success of these Bermuda events, encourages their return.” Significant industry events that are coming back to Bermuda next year include:

• Regulatory Compliance Association (RCA) Regulation, Operations and Compliance 2016 Symposium, scheduled for April 17—19 at the Fairmont Southampton, which this year attracted more than 250 alternative investment and asset management executives to Bermuda;

• Transcontinental Trusts: Bermuda Forum, May 9—10 at the Fairmont Southampton, which brought 240 delegates and speakers in the trust and private client industry this past April and garnered very positive reviews;

• Global Fund Forum, a three-day gathering organized by Hedge Connection for October 24—26 at the Fairmont Southampton. This year’s event brought together several hundred hedge fund managers and qualified investors at the Fairmont Southampton for one-on-one meetings, workshops and informal networking. “After a successful event in 2015, Hedge Connection has decided to host the Global Fund Forum again at the Fairmont Southampton in October 2016,” said Lisa Vioni, CEO of Hedge Connection, a Bronxville, New York-based marketing platform for hedge funds and a portal for investors. “The beauty of the Island combined with the financial industry focus of many Bermuda-based companies, plus the support of the BDA, makes Bermuda the perfect venue for our three-day alternative industry event.”

Asociación Latinoamericana de Administradores de Riesgos y Seguros (ALARYS) Congress, a biennial conference for risk managers from countries throughout Latin America, will be held at the Hamilton Princess, Bermuda between September 25—27. It was held previously on the Island in 2004 and 2010 — the only non-Latin venue in its 20-year history.

The annual Bermuda Captive Conference, running June 13—15, 2016 at the Fairmont Southampton, is another event, this one put on by a local organising committee and attracting more than 600 delegates from Bermuda and overseas. Next year’s keynote speaker is Joe Flowers, a well-known American healthcare futurist and author. ILS Bermuda’s popular Convergence event, that brought 300 delegates to its Front Street venue earlier this month, will also go ahead again next year.

November 30. In Bermuda and around the world millions of shoppers will make the most of online bargains today, on what has become known as Cyber Monday. It will inevitably mean a lot of residents’ dollars end up with overseas suppliers rather than at local stores, however there is another side to the coin. Bermuda Perfumery, through its Lili Bermuda range, is an Island-based retailer with a sizeable online business, selling to overseas customers through its website .Owner Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone believes it is probably the Island’s biggest online trading business in terms of overseas customers, and the e-commerce side of things is growing all the time. In order to maintain the prestige of the Lili Bermuda brand the company does not discount for Cyber Monday. Yet even without a sale it sees online orders ramp up at this time of year. In the approach to Christmas the perfumery, in Queen Street, St George, can find itself dealing with between 30 and 50 online orders a day.“ About 25 per cent of our business is mail order. Our website has seen phenomenal growth. Mail order has been growing by 10 or 15 per cent each year,” said Ms Ramsay-Brackstone. The Lili Bermuda website was set up 10 years ago. It has evolved with the times and is due to be completely revamped in the new year, underlining the importance the business places on the online side of things. The majority of online orders come from repeat customers. Many first purchased Lili Bermuda fragrances while on the Island, and they go on to buy more of their favourite fragrances online in-between their Island visits. Other online customers include those who have received a Bermuda fragrance as a gift and want to try some more, and unique customers intrigued by the “exclusive lure of Lili Bermuda”. A touchstone for the business is customer service, and this is one of the reasons Ms Ramsay-Brackstone has kept the entire online business in Bermuda, rather than outsourcing it overseas. It means the perfumery’s staff can deal with orders, adding a personal touch and making sure everything is packaged correctly, gift wrapped where required and mailed out on time.“ We have always been about customer service,” said Ms Ramsay-Brackstone. “We thought about doing this business [mail order] from overseas, but if we did that we would not have control of the follow-up customer service anymore.” When Bermuda postal rates increased earlier this year the business looked for alternatives and eventually linked up with international mail service DHL. The switch means customers can now easily track their packages and receive them in a matter of days, depending on where they live." It's important for customers to be able to track their orders and we have been impressed by the care DHL has shown to our packages, and by how fast they are delivered.” Lili Bermuda dates back to 1928, however, where once the Bermuda Perfumery sold its products primarily as souvenirs to visitors, today the fragrances are highly regarded and sought-after by residents, Island visitors, and overseas buyers alike. “We moved the perfumes away from being souvenirs. It is a spectacular product that’s exclusively from Bermuda,” said Ms Ramsay-Brackstone, who took ownership of the perfumery in 2004 and created her first fragrance, Coral, two years later. There is a distinct rhythm to the perfumery’s yearly business cycle. During the summer months the bulk of sales are on-Island." We have people book their trip to the Island specifically so they can come and make their own perfume at the perfumery,” explained Ms Ramsay-Brackstone. But as the winter months approach staff begin preparations for the seasonal rise in orders from overseas. Many fragrances are gift wrapped in advance, mailing boxes and packaging are made ready and work priorities are changed to accommodate the flurry of online business. Most of the perfumery’s online customers live in the US, Canada, Britain and the Middle East. Word of mouth recommendations from satisfied customers have helped to spread the Lili Bermuda name. The company also sells a fragrance library, a popular gift box with 11 small vials containing samples of the perfumery’s range. These act as an introduction for customers who perhaps have never been to the Island but want to find out what the collection is like before deciding if they want to buy a larger product. Lili Bermuda fragrances have also been featured on US television programmes and in newspapers and magazines. A German magazine recently featured an article about the Mary Celestia fragrance, which is a recreation of a perfume found hidden in the wreck of the Mary Celestia. The 19th century Civil War blockade runner sank off the south shore of Bermuda in 1864. The article sparked a flood of orders from customers in Germany. Ms Ramsay-Brackstone said any business considering having a website with an online store must be prepared to nurture and work at it." You have to look after it full time, and you have to make sure it is kept updated,” she said.“ If you have a product that is unique then you can have a sensational business. There is great potential with e-commerce, and it can be worthwhile. It’s a great way of exporting Bermuda.” 

November 30. Bermuda-based CCS Group has opened an office in Portugal as it looks to offer information and communication technology solutions and support services in Europe. The relatively low cost of setting up in Portugal, together with its “highly educated talent pool”, who have a strong command of the English language, are among the reasons CCS chose to set up a hub in Lisbon. As part of the international expansion, the company has rebranded with a new logo and website. It is intended that the European office will eventually be on a par with the Bermuda office, in terms of skills. However, the new office will initially focus on service provider infrastructure, enterprise networking and cloud technologies portfolios.“ Portugal has a relatively low cost of doing business with a highly educated talent pool most of whom have an exceptional command of the English language,” said Peter Aldrich, general manager of CCS Group. “This makes Lisbon an ideal hub for our operations in Europe. We are particularly proud of the experienced engineers who we have been able to recruit and their skills are already bearing fruit in some significant projects in Bermuda and overseas.” The company said the new office would “augment CCS’s core team of consultants so that CCS can offer multi regional solutions and support services to its customers in Bermuda and the Caribbean that have operations in Europe.” The Lisbon office will be headed by Portuguese national Pedro Morais, a consultant with extensive skills in networking and service provider infrastructure. He will be supported by David Franjoso, a senior solutions architect with more than 17 years of industry experience and Paulo Almeida, a senior architect with more than ten years of experience as a systems engineer for a systems integrator in Portugal. Commenting on the new office, Kory Logan, group director of sales and marketing, said: “CCS has been evangelizing innovative and disruptive technologies for years. These solutions have delivered a lot a value to our local customers. Many of the technologies CCS has had success with are not well represented in Europe. “CCS and its strategic technology partners are very excited to be moving into new markets and we have already begun to gain significant traction in some key verticals in Europe. “Additionally, we are happy that we can now offer seamless services and around the clock support across both regions to our Bermuda customers with a branch office in Europe.” 

November 28. The Supreme Court’s judgment expanding the rights of same-sex partners could have profound and wide-ranging effects on legislation and the workings of government departments. Shortly after yesterday’s ruling Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, called a press conference to set out some of the anticipated ramifications of the ground-breaking court case. He said the judgment did not affect the definition of marriage in Bermuda, but admitted the Bermuda Government was examining what laws and processes might need to be changed to bring them in line with the ruling .Sen Fahy told the media that the case could have consequences on legislation relating to bankruptcy, estates, wills, health insurance, pensions, and social insurance.“ The Chief Justice has made declarations of law that certain provisions of our immigration legislation shall be inoperative to the extent that they authorize me, as minister, to deny residential and employment rights to same-sex partners of persons who possess and enjoy Bermuda status who have formed a stable relationship,” he said.“ The judgment states that such individuals who have formed stable relationships with Bermudians, have the same rights of residency and employment comparable to those conferred on spouses of Bermudians.” Government’s legal team yesterday asked the Chief Justice for a 12-month suspension of the declaration while it considered what legislative changes might need to be made. The request will be heard during a separate hearing in the next two weeks. Sen Fahy said that a decision on whether or not to appeal against the judgment would not be made until after that hearing. He told yesterday’s press conference that the ruling posed a number of other issues that would need to be resolved. He said: “Under current immigration policy, if partners, whether same sex or not, are in a genuine and subsisting relationship as between a Bermudian and a non-Bermudian, the non-Bermudian is able to seek employment but would require a work permit in the event of finding employment.“ The Chief Justice has spoken of stable partnerships. As such, this policy will too need to be revisited. “The ministry must also now address the differential treatment that arises by way of this declaration as between same-sex couples who are unmarried and opposite-sex couples who are unmarried.“ The declaration appears to suggest that an opposite-sex couple that are in a stable relationship would potentially still require a work permit. That is an issue which is still under active review.” Sen Fahy added: “Individuals who feel they are affected by the ruling may consider submitting applications to the Department of Immigration for spousal letters, landing permits, and other such documentation.“ We ask for individuals to be patient because our administrative procedures may need to be amended to deal with any new applications.“ However, because this matter is not finalized, the department will be unable to process any applications that may derive from this declaration at this time.”

November 28. The Supreme Court has ruled that those in same-sex partnerships with Bermudians should have the same rights to reside and seek employment as spouses of Bermudians. The landmark ruling comes as a result of a legal action brought by the Bermuda Bred Company against both the Minister of Home Affairs and the Attorney-General. The company, which describes itself as a group of Bermudians involved in “binational relationships”, had argued that the Immigration and Protection Act had to be read in conjunction with the Human Rights Act, which does not allow discrimination on the grounds of marital status or sexual orientation. Through lawyer Peter Sanderson, they argued that Bermudians in long-term same-sex relationships had no right to have their foreign partners residing and working in Bermuda while married, same-sex couples did. In addition, the laws did not allow foreign unmarried partners who are sponsored to reside in Bermuda with their partners, regardless of sexual orientation, but there is no provision for same-sex partners to enjoy the same residential and working benefits allowed to foreign spouses under immigration laws and policies. In a judgment delivered yesterday, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled in favour of the Bermuda Bred Company, writing: “The complaint was that this section, and sections 27 and 27a which confer preferred residential rights on wives and husbands of Bermudians, discriminate directly against unmarried Bermudians and indirectly against gay and lesbian Bermudians. “These provisions purported to authorize the minister to regulate the entry into Bermuda of long-term foreign partners of Bermudians which discriminated against those Bermudians who were unmarried or in same-sex relationships. The direct discrimination was self-evident and quite obvious. No or no coherent counterargument was advanced on behalf of the respondents. The fact that the statutory provisions said to be inoperative because they conflicted with the HRA could not be attacked as unconstitutional was entirely beside the point. The indirect discrimination complaint required only marginally more analysis. Because same-sex marriage was neither possible nor recognized under existing Bermuda law, the relevant statutory provisions discriminated against Bermudians in stable same-sex relationships in an indirect way. Because while a heterosexual Bermudian at least had the option of marrying his or her partner with a view to receiving the benefit of spousal rights, this option was not available to homosexual Bermudians.” As a result, Dr Justice Kawaley ruled that the applicant was entitled to a declaration that the offending sections of the immigration legislation were inoperative to the extent that they authorize the minister or deny the same-sex partners of persons who possess Bermuda status residential and employment rights comparable to those conferred on spouses by the legislation. Following the ruling, the Bermuda Government requested that the effects of the judgment be suspended for a parliamentary year to allow them to comply, stating that the ruling could lead to a myriad of changes in the Island’s laws. Dr Justice Kawaley adjourned that argument to a date to be fixed within the next two weeks. A spokesman for the Bermuda Bred Company said they welcomed the judgment, saying: “We firmly believe in equality in these areas and in leveling the playing field for same-sex families. The effect of the decision is very specific: the non-Bermudian same-sex partners of Bermudians, who are in committed relationships, are entitled to live and work in Bermuda without immigration restriction. The decision does not deal with the recognition of marriage equality. The judgment recognizes that not only is the Island’s immigration policy unlawfully discriminatory, but that it also places an unfair emotional and financial burden on gay and lesbian Bermudians in binational relationships. Such families will have the effective ability to make life plans that include Bermuda as a home. The government has asked the court for time to consider the implications of the decision and importantly, in their words, to get their ducks in a row. We take this to mean that there will be no appeal of the decision, and that the government is committed to giving full effect to the order once it is finalized. We hope this can be done without delay.”

November 28. The Supreme Court has reserved judgment on a legal dispute between the Minister of Home Affairs and the Island’s unions. Throughout the week, lawyers for both sides have called for the court to make declarations stemming from an industrial action which occurred in January over the Bermuda Government refusing to take a continuation of furlough days off the table in negotiations. While the government has called on the courts to declare the strike action illegal and potentially issue an injunction to prevent future “illegal” industrial action, the unions have argued that government had breached contract by attempting to force salary cuts on the unions and sought declarations to clarify industrial action procedures. Arguments in the case concluded on Thursday afternoon, with Chief Justice Ian Kawaley reserving his judgment on the matter until a date yet to be set.

November 28. The Progressive Labour Party has called an emergency Central Committee meeting on Tuesday at party headquarters, The Royal Gazette can reveal. Although representatives have been requested to attend the 6pm meeting as a matter of urgency, there is no indication that it has anything to do with rumours over the future of Marc Bean as Leader of the Opposition. The PLP had initially dismissed reports of a ruction at the top during its caucus meeting on Thursday night. “The report running in the media that the Progressive Labour Party leader, Marc Bean, last night narrowly won an internal vote for leadership is not only untrue, but malevolent,” a party statement said. “The power within the PLP to replace a leader lies with the party delegates, not the caucus, and as such no vote was taken within caucus regarding Mr Bean’s leadership, as has been claimed.”

November 28. The commanding officer of the Royal Bermuda Regiment led tributes last night to a “well-respected” and “hard-working” sergeant who was found dead in a Southampton property. The body of Dejion Stange-Simmons was discovered by police as they executed a search warrant on Thursday night. Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Foster-Brown said the regiment was “shocked, saddened and angry” to hear news of the 26-year-old’s death. “He was a respected senior member of the regiment of eight years service, having been conscripted at the age of 18. He took to military life and was good at it, achieving rapid promotion through the ranks and was a sergeant by November 2011, and had been the platoon sergeant of 2 Platoon A Company for almost a year. His loss will be strongly felt across the regiment, but particularly in A Company and the sergeants’ mess. Our thoughts are with family, particularly his parents Sandrine and Andre, his stepmother, Tami, his three sisters and his brother. The regiment are stood by to support his funeral should the family wish it.” In January 2011, Mr Stange-Simmons won the prize for best sergeant, and in April 2014 he received a letter of commendation for his work in support of the Bermuda Police Service at Ferry Reach. He was a member of Immediate Response Team 2 and deployed on the most recent embodiment in October 2015 for Hurricane Joaquin. Col Foster-Brown said: “He was a talented and dedicated soldier who had been specially selected to be part of the three-man team that deployed with the British Army on a demanding six-week overseas exercise to Kenya from September to October 2014. He was hard-working, enthusiastic and always keen to volunteer, most recently as part of the Committee for the 50th Anniversary Ball that took place last Saturday. He was attached to his troops and they to him. We will miss him.” A company commander, Major David Madeiros, described Mr Stange-Simmons as “a key member of A Company, a pleasure to be around and always smiling.” Platoon commander Lieutenant Tyler Owen, described him as “exceptional” and “an excellent motivator” and someone with a “big personality” who had the “respect and love of his men, which was one of the reasons why the retention rates in the platoon were so high.” The Governor, George Fergusson, weighed in this morning with his recollections of Mr Stange-Simmons. “I have been really shocked at the sad death of Sgt Stange-Simmons and I know that his colleagues in the regiment have suffered a significant loss. This will also be a terrible sadness for his family and friends. I met Sgt Stange only once or twice but know that he was held in very high regard. In his time attached to the Welsh Guards in Kenya last year, he was a great ambassador for Bermuda.”

November 28. Residents have expressed their horror after a murder investigation was launched into the death of Dejion Stange-Simmons, a sergeant in the Royal Bermuda Regiment. The 26-year-old was found in an “unresponsive state under suspicious circumstances” on Thursday at a property on Sentinel Hill, in Southampton. He was later pronounced dead at the scene by a doctor and police yesterday said a man had been taken into custody in connection with the incident. “It’s horrendous, just horrendous,” said one area resident who asked not to be named. “This is not the norm at all. It’s a very close-knit neighborhood — we look out for one another. Our neighborhood watch failed last night. It’s something we don’t want to see ever again.” While she did not know Mr Stange-Simmons well, she described him as an “upstanding citizen” and “very quiet looking guy." The woman told The Royal Gazette that the neighborhood is normally “extremely peaceful and quiet. It’s rather shocking that as I’m going through my night routine that someone is being murdered. I was shaking last night. I heard sirens and saw flashing lights at about 10.20pm, but did not hear anything beforehand." A vacationing couple, who are staying in the area after arriving on the Island on Thursday evening, said they heard a lot of voices shortly after 8pm. “Originally, they all seemed to be having a good laugh,” said the woman, who also asked not to be named. Not being familiar with the area, she said she assumed their neighbors were having a party and went to bed. But she was woken in the early hours of the morning by shouting and sobbing, as well as the sound of sirens. The store manager at Henry’s Pantry in Southampton, who asked to remain anonymous, said the incident was “definitely shocking. It’s unbelievable these types of things are still going on like this.” He said a lot of customers had been expressing shock over the incident, especially those who knew Mr Stange-Simmons. The manager described him as a “straight-up guy who didn’t get into any trouble”. Local MP Leah Scott described Mr Stange-Simmons’s death as “incomprehensible and senseless. I am saddened to learn about the killing of Dejion Stange-Simmons. This continued violence against our males is very disconcerting and is brought even more to the fore, for me, because the anniversary of the death of my godson, Prince Edness, is on December 8. Parents are not supposed to bury their children.” Michael Dunkley expressed his “shock and sadness” yesterday at the death of Mr Stange-Simmons. “I had the privilege of meeting this young man in August last year before he and others went to Kenya on regiment training,” said the Premier, who also serves as the Minister of National Security. “He was engaging and clearly excited at the opportunities his regiment service was providing. As the minister responsible for the regiment, this loss is especially hard for the men and women with whom Sergeant Stange served and I wish for all ranks to know that the Ministry of National Security joins with them in fondly remembering this young man. To his family, words can hardly numb the pain of this terrible loss, but I hope that they can take comfort in how highly Dejion was regarded and that they are not alone in dealing with his passing.” Mr Dunkley added that on behalf of the Bermuda Government and the people of Bermuda “our hearts are united in grief at his loss and we extend sincere condolences to his family and friends.” Walter Roban, the Shadow Minister of National Security, issued the following statement today on behalf of the Progressive Labour Party. “We would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Sergeant Dejion Stange-Simmons,” he said. “Sergeant Stange-Simmons was a well-known young man, who committed to service for his country, and this event is incredibly unfortunate. His family and friends remain in our thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult period.” The Bermuda Police Service also extended condolences to Mr Stange-Simmons’s family and friends. According to a spokesman, Mr Strange-Simmons was found in an “unresponsive state under suspicious circumstances” by officers executing a search warrant at about 9.30pm. Initial reports indicated he could have suffered stab wounds. However, a police spokesman was unable to confirm details of the injuries or whether Mr Stange-Simmons lived in the property in which he was found on Thursday evening. “A family liaison officer has been assigned to assist the deceased’s family at this difficult time,” the spokesman added. In the aftermath of the incident, several police cars remained parked in the area of St Anne’s Road and Sentinel Hill. Yesterday morning, two police cars and four officers were stationed outside of the residence, which had been cordoned off. Detectives are investigating the circumstances that led to Mr Stange-Simmons’ death and anyone with information is urged contact the Serious Crime Unit on 247-1739. Alternatively, call the anonymous and confidential Crime Stoppers hotline on 800-8477.

November 28. Bermuda belonger James Stout retained his world rackets title this afternoon by beating Will Hopton, the world No 2, 1-0 at the Queen’s Club, West London, in the second leg of their challenge match. Having beaten Hopton 4-0 in the best-of-seven first leg in Philadelphia last weekend, Stout needed to win only one game in this encounter to claim the title. Stout started well serving two aces and winning the next rally for a 3-0 lead. Hopton won service on an unforced error by Stout, and recovered to 2-3, before Stout regained service. The champion began to control the rallies and move Hopton around the court, volleying at every opportunity. In this fashion he advanced to 7-2 up, until an error gave Hopton service. Hopton won another point after a double-hit by Stout, but in the next rally a superb backhand winner from the front of the court gave Stout service again. Stout resumed his attacking play. He served an ace at 8-3, and took the score to 11-3 on calm, unruffled play while controlling the rallies. A good-length shot by Hopton at 11-3 heralded four service changes at that score until Stout hit a great shot to take the score to 12-3. Good attacking play by Hopton enabled him to regain service, and an unexpected short shot then took Hopton to 4-12. At this stage Hopton was attacking more, hitting the ball more powerfully and posing a greater threat. Although he reached 6-13, it was a case of too little, too late, and at his second attempt at 14-6, Stout served an ace to close out the game in 20 minutes. Stout claimed the world title with an aggregate score of five games to nil over the two legs. This was Stout’s second defence of the world title he won in 2008. The head professional at the Racquet and Tennis Club, in New York, is only the 26th world champion since the inaugural championship was contested in 1820.

November 27. The three independent experts commissioned to assess the Bermuda Government’s efforts to balance its budget have been on the Island this week conducting research. The Fiscal Responsibility Panel (FRP) trio have had discussions with a number of people in the community to add some perspective to the numbers they have already studied. The panel is due to submit its first annual report next month. The FRP is chaired by David Peretz, an independent consultant on international financial issues who has worked in the UK Treasury and the World Bank. The other panel members are Jonathan Portes, principal research fellow at the UK National Institute of Economic and Social Research and a former chief economist to the British Cabinet Office, and Peter Heller, who worked as a senior manager during a near 30-year career at the IMF and a visiting professor at a number of universities in the US and Europe. The panelists declined to comment on their findings so far when The Royal Gazette caught up with them at the Ministry of Finance yesterday. Mr Portes said the group had “done a lot of homework” in reviewing Government accounts and projections and that meetings with a range of people from inside and outside Government this week were proving “very useful.” Their remit includes reviewing the progress of the Government’s effort to achieve a balanced budget by 2018/19, and goes as far as offering advice on tax and spending policies to achieve the goals. The panel will also consider longer-term issues, reviewing “prospects for further progress towards meeting the aims of reducing debt and debt service to less than 80 per cent and 10 per cent of revenues, and for implementing the rule that net borrowing can only be considered to finance capital spending.” During their work they will consider the impact of the most recent Budget, the credibility of the assumptions underlying Government projections, and the risks that could affect fiscal progress. Bob Richards, the Finance Minister, announced plans to form the FSR in February’s 2015/16 Budget statement. He said at the time: “To increase transparency and international credibility, Government intends to establish an international, independent committee to review, monitor, assess and publicly report on the fiscal progress of the Government. Several other islands have also adopted similar outside assessors and it has helped bolster credibility and confidence. The report prepared by this panel will be an input into the overall work to create a framework for financial stability policy in Bermuda.”

November 27. Bermuda is still yet to shed its longstanding discrimination against the Portuguese community, the Honorary Consul for Portugal has claimed. Andrea Moniz-DeSouza said that historical tensions and political skullduggery were among the causes behind the continued inequality. Meanwhile, radio personality Christine Francisco urged the Bermuda Government to fulfill its promise to introduce Portuguese in schools to help that community become “accepted”. Both spoke to The Royal Gazette following the release of the report Racial Dynamics in Bermuda in the 21st Century: Progress and Challenges by Keith Lawrence and Raymond Codrington, which focused on disparities between the Island’s white and black communities. However, the report also acknowledged centuries-old prejudices against those of Portuguese descent. These began with the influx of migrants from the Azores and Cape Verde Islands to perform low-skilled and low-paid jobs such as agricultural labour. “Portuguese immigrants experienced racial discrimination in the forms of restrictive quotas, occupational segregation and exclusion from certain social clubs,” the report said. The paper also claimed that “Portuguese-ness” was “forged in contrast to the dominant white standard” and potentially fell “in between” whiteness and blackness as constructs. Dr Lawrence and Dr Codrington concluded that negative attitudes towards the community may still exist. “I definitely identify with the comments being made,” said Mrs Moniz-DeSouza. “I see where they’re coming from and I tend to agree. I think throughout history the Portuguese community has been made to feel in a sense that they didn’t belong in Bermuda and they should go back home.” She claimed that this pervasive attitude led to many Portuguese people changing their surnames and not passing on their language or traditions to their children, in an attempt to fit in. As a result, Mrs Moniz-DeSouza said it was impossible to tell for certain how many people of Portuguese descent remain on the Island, although research suggests it may be around 25 per cent of the population. “In high school I had someone who once told me to go back home,” she said, adding that there is a lack of Portuguese acceptance from both the black and white communities in Bermuda. I also think that people tend to think Portuguese aren’t intellectual people, and that the jobs reserved for them are as gardeners and cleaners. We’re definitely trying to push that it’s OK to be Portuguese. We’re not less than anyone else,” added Mrs Moniz-DeSouza, who is also president of the charity Amigos da Casa dos Açores da Bermuda (Friends of the House of the Azores of Bermuda), which aims to promote, preserve and celebrate Azorean culture and history in Bermuda. I also suggest that those in power should step up their efforts to redress the balance. The politicians really need to stop trying to divide Bermuda’s people for their own political agenda. That’s the only way we’re going to drop the whole ‘me, you, them’ mentality and come together. Anyone in Bermuda should be proud of their ancestry, and we are too.” Ms Francisco, who presents the Portuguese music show Radio Lusitano Bermuda on Ocean 89.1FM, spoke of the need to teach children Portuguese. “They’ve promised it for the longest time, so it’s about time they kept their word. The business world has accepted us — Portuguese is now an option on ATM machines — and the younger generation are very accepting, but there is still a hardcore old-school of people who criticize us. If the politicians really want us to be accepted, let’s get the language in the schools and make it a number one priority.”

November 27. Nathan Outteridge and his Artemis Racing team-mates will hope that Bermuda yields further riches for them when the D-6 Flying Phantom Series finale starts in the Great Sound on Tuesday. Artemis won the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Bermuda at the same venue last month, and will be looking for a second straight regatta victory. “It’s great for us to go back to Bermuda,” Outteridge, the Olympic gold-medal winner, said. “The last time I was there was for the World Series regatta and we all have very fond memories of Bermuda and enjoyed the racing there, so we are hoping to sail just as well as we did then.” Artemis, the sole America’s Cup team registered, have entered two teams in the four-day regatta with Outteridge teaming up with Iain Jensen, and Luke Parkinson and Ayden Menzies sailing the team’s other Phantom. “It will be good to have two boats and hopefully we can get a couple of days of training before the event,” Outteridge said. Outteridge and Jensen will enter the regatta fresh off a silver-medal win at this month’s 49er World Championships in Buenos Aires, which was won by Emirates Team New Zealand pair and ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Outteridge and his colleagues will be familiar with the local conditions having trained extensively in the Great Sound this summer in the team’s AC45S test boat and foiling Phantom, as well as racing in the World Series in the one-design AC45F. “It will be great practice for us on the racecourse under racing circumstances as opposed to just training,” Outteridge said. “Hopefully the weather is nice to us and we don’t have any storms and we get some good racing in.” Much has changed since Outteridge’s previous visit to Bermuda with the team’s base at Morgan’s Point taking shape. “It’s great to see progress is being made for our team with Morgan’s Point,” the Australian said. “It would be good to check that out and start familiarizing ourselves with that venue.” The Flying Phantom regatta will feature more than 13 teams from Europe and the United States. “It sounds like they are bringing in a pretty strong international team of boats so I think it will be a good event,” Outteridge said.

November 27. SoftBank Team Japan will mark the next stage of their development programme whey they take delivery of their first wing-sail foiling AC45S catamaran next month. The Japanese challenger will take ownership of Oracle Team USA’s first AC45S test boat, that the America’s Cup defender had been using as a training platform this summer. “Being able to sail our own AC45S test boat really marks a significant step up in our development,” Chris Draper, the Team Japan sailing team manager and tactician, said. “As a sailing team, up until now, we’ve been restricted to racing at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events. Our plan is to take delivery of the new boat early in December. We’ll get it ready, make some adjustments, get our full sailing crew relocated here to Bermuda after the holiday break and start sailing in January. Getting a jump start in our development is fundamental to being competitive on the water in 2017.” The AC45S that Team Japan will use is a similar model to the boat Draper raced at the previous America’s Cup as helmsman of Luna Rossa Challenge built to a Kiwi design. Along with Dean Barker, the Team Japan CEO and skipper, and Kazuhiko Sofuku, the Team Japan general manager, Draper is in Japan overseeing crew tryouts with the aim of recruiting two Japanese crew members. The three-day selection process, which will be held near Tokyo from today until Sunday, will combine intense fitness testing and sailing exercises along with personal interviews. Hundreds of Japanese athletes took part in the three-month application process, with professional ice hockey and basketball players joining top sailors and rowers in trying to make the team. The group of 22 athletes will be narrowed down to just two, who will be invited to join the team. All new team members will be expected to move to Team Japan’s base in Bermuda to live and train for the next two years. “By early January, our Bermuda base will be operational and we will be out training with our sailing team on the Great Sound,” said Barker, who won the Louis Vuitton Cup as skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand at the previous America’s Cup. 

November 27. An engineer’s investigation into the structural failure of Heritage Wharf revealed extensive deterioration of the dock’s thruster walls, sustained within a few years of its official opening. Certain aspects of the wall’s design also appear to differ greatly from initial plans, with piles filled with sand instead of the concrete called for in its original specifications. The details emerged from reports filed in 2011, yet to be released by the Department of Works and Engineering, which were obtained by this newspaper through a Public Access to Information request. Built to accommodate a larger new generation of cruise ships, Heritage Wharf quickly became a political target after its opening in May 2009. Overspends on the $60 million facility, which was originally contracted at $35 million, drew fierce criticism of the Progressive Labour Party Government. According to figures given in Parliament in December 2014, repairs to Heritage Wharf cost just short of $30 million after serious damage was noticed in September 2010, in the wake of Hurricane Igor. Citing the report in 2013, tourism and transport minister Shawn Crockwell told Parliament it had been “not structurally sound to even take an average cruise ship”, prompting a rebuttal from Derrick Burgess, then the Shadow Minister for Public Works. Later in the year, Mr Crockwell referred to the report as “damning” and said he looked forward to it being made public. The Government even considered taking legal action against the contractors behind Heritage Wharf over the possibility of deficiencies in its construction. Two reports from September and November of 2011, by the United States firm Bourne Consulting Engineering, detail the extent of disrepair found earlier that year in the aftermath of the Category 1 hurricane. Heritage Wharf’s two thruster walls were both in “poor structural condition overall”, BCE said, adding: “Wale support system at top has failed completely and walls are now unsupported at the top and free to move back and forth.” Steel used in the thrusters was “freely corroding” and segments of steel sheeting along the walls had “settled significantly.” The tops of many support piles were damaged or broken, and while the thruster walls were not considered an immediate danger to ships in the berth, “a severe storm would cause the piles to fail”. The report noted that pile pipes were to be filled with concrete in the specifications, but it found that only the top 6ft 6in of vertical and batter piles was concrete filled, adding: “remainder is sand”. No steel reinforcement was shown inside the pile concrete. Drawing details were inconsistent with the BCE site inspection: the drawing showed 13 pipes on the southernmost section of the thruster, while the inspection only found 12 installed. BCE said the walls had “limited functionality”, adding: “It may be possible to repair the walls but further evaluation would be required to confirm the failures will not reoccur during severe storm conditions. The walls failed during a relatively low level event by hurricane standards and there is little point to reconstructing the walls to the original design configuration unless further investigation attributes the failure to poor materials or workmanship.” Settling of the wall was “a significant concern” and the failure of its protective coating with corrosion to the steel would reduce the life expectancy of the structure when repaired. The firm Mott MacDonald also reported on its inspection of Heritage Wharf and Kings Wharf in November 2012. It did not examine the damaged thruster wall, which was being removed by the time of its inspection, and the study was limited to above water only. The report found “extensive cracking to the upper surfaces of the Heritage Wharf structures”, which could have an impact on the structure’s lifespan. An investigation was recommended. The report also found corrosion protection for “a significant number” of piles to be failing, and recommended urgent repairs. Piles supporting the mooring dolphins for Heritage Wharf had been inefficiently orientated, the report said, with the result that “a large amount of twisting and uplift in the deck occurs, creating uneven load distribution”. A structural assessment of the piles supporting the mooring and berthing dolphins concluded they were over-utilised even under best case scenarios.

November 27. Sleep-deprived bargain-hunters lined the streets of Hamilton this morning, braving the wind and rain to snap up Black Friday deals. Some shoppers even began queuing last night at some stores, eager to capture the best value items Bermuda had to offer, with several businesses throwing their doors open at 4am to welcome the crowds. Aisa Lopez, an accountant from the Philippines, was midway through her first Black Friday in Bermuda. “It’s what I was expecting,” she told The Royal Gazette. “It’s 40 per cent off at Perry Footwear, so I bought some boots and some nice heels. It’s been a social event, because I live with three other girls in Pembroke, so it’s been exciting for us. I own a bike but the other girls don’t, so I made three trips and gave the others a ride into town.” Her housemate Cathy Liwanag, also an accountant, added: “We had the right mindset last night. After Thanksgiving dinner, we entered a food coma and went to bed early at around 10pm. “I think this is my fourth Black Friday in Bermuda. This year, I came for the shoes and the sale at Gibbons Company and AS Cooper & Sons. This was the first stop, because I know the lines here get pretty crazy. I’ve got work after this at 9am, so lots of coffee will help get me through the day.” Black Friday has been a popular feature in Bermuda for the past half a decade, with the telecoms sector in particular identifying it as one of its biggest days of the year.

November 27. The Bermuda Association of Family Mediators has launched, coinciding with the Island’s push to bring mediation to the forefront of family law. Training began at the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building on Monday, with experts from Canada helping to teach accredited family law mediation training. Sheelagh Cooper, from the BAFM, said the new body was similar in structure to the Bermuda Bar Association, and allowed trainees to become “adjunct members” until they became fully qualified. “The advantage for them is that they have access to our extensive library of mediation materials, such as books and audiovisual aids,” Ms Cooper said. The resource library is housed at the Centre for Community and Family Mediation, 38 Mount Hill Road, which will also give mediators the chance to network. Mediation has gradually overtaken the more traditionally adversarial approach to family law, which can cause bitter rifts and can traumatize the children of warring parents. For more details, call 295-1150. 

November 27. The public will hear updates in today’s sitting of the House of Assembly on how the Public Access to Information Act has fared in its first months in effect. Michael Dunkley will offer details, along with the Public Access to Information Amendment Act 2015. “The Act simply deals with amendments which we believe are appropriate for after Pati was put in place,” the Premier said. “So far, we believe it has been implemented quite successfully. There are some clauses we have to amend. It’s nothing people will disagree with. It’s something we have worked closely on throughout this process.” Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, will bring amendments to the Bermuda Public Accountability Board before MPs. Legislators will also consider the Corporate Services Provider Business Exemption Order, and health insurance amendments brought by Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health.

November 27. Updates to Public Access to Information Act have gone before Parliament. It includes a cutting down of the response time for public authorities to give information. Michael Dunkley told MPs there had been 75 Pati requests so far: 15 have been directed at the Bermuda Police Service. Six have been made to the Department of Child and Family Services; five have gone to the Cabinet Office. The numbers do not include requests made to quangos, the Premier said. Opposition MP Walton Brown voiced support from the Progressive Labour Party but said more amendments were needed. "Information that would only be released anyway should simply be automatically released, and the right to make Pati requests should be extended to people or organisations outside Bermuda. The Island has been a secretive society for centuries", Mr Brown said, with a culture of withholding information. Mr Dunkley agreed that as the Government “irons out the kinks”, Pati could be extended to queries from abroad. “That is certainly an option that we will consider,” he said. Mr Brown also suggested stronger penalties for persons who broke the rules of the Act, noting that “there was a breach of confidentiality” not long after Pati had been enacted. “What’s disturbing is it came after an extensive period of training and an extensive debate,” Mr Brown said. “We would like to see stiffer penalties for those who engage in willful violations of legislation.”

November 27. Premier Michael Dunkley today called on women to take advantage of the move to open up the Bermuda Government’s boards and committees. The Premier told the House of Assembly that members of the public seeking to join boards and committees are now free to apply to do so for the first time. Residents wishing to serve can do so via the Cabinet Office web page on the government portal. “More specifically, we are hoping that more women in our community embrace this opportunity to serve,” Mr Dunkley said. The pledge was made in the Throne Speech 14 days ago. Asked by Opposition MP Walton Brown who would make the ultimate decisions, the Premier said that all requests would be sent to the relevant ministers and ministries. “In the past there has not been an avenue for any member of the public to apply — in the past you had to know somebody and put your name forward.” Mr Dunkley said the initiative would see boards and committees draw from a larger talent pool than had been the case in the past. “It is to be followed in 2016 by a functional review of government boards to determine how their productivity and effectiveness can be increased, and decide which boards are no longer required.”

November 27. Parliament will soon debate a motion to look into “serious allegations of extortion and bribery made against sitting ministers of the Government.” The motion was brought by Opposition MP Wayne Furbert in a previous session of the House of Assembly. Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House, has ruled that the motion should be placed on the order paper for the next meeting. “I do not expect it to sit on the order paper as some other motions have sat,” Mr Horton said. The motion calls for the Governor to issue a Commission of Inquiry consisting of a minimum of three commissioners chosen from outside the Island. The allegations are against ministers Craig Cannonier, Michael Fahy and Mark Pettingill “as contained in the affidavit of developer Mr Michael MacLean, dated 2 July, 2015 and filed in certain Supreme Court proceedings.” With the motion placed on the orders, Mr Horton told MPs: “I expect it to be brought forward.”

November 27. Bermuda’s success as a financial services jurisdiction has been boosted by the Solvency II equivalence for the local insurance market. The Solvency II directive introduces “a modernized risk-based regulatory regime for insurance and reinsurance undertakings in the European Union”, finance minister Bob Richards told the House of Assembly this morning. The directive takes effect from January 1. Mr Richards said: “Meeting an imposed deadline is difficult, but reaching a goal that many thought to be impossible is a feat of determination, endurance and extraordinary discipline. Congratulations to the entire Bermuda team — you have truly performed a great service to Bermuda.”

November 27. A legal battle over industrial action on the Island continued yesterday, with a lawyer for the unions arguing that a government notice was insufficient. The notice, published online on January 27 and in The Royal Gazette the next morning, stated there was an industrial dispute involving several government departments but did not delve into the details of what the dispute was. Lawyer Delroy Duncan, representing five of the Island’s unions, said the notice was intended legally to be a warning that those in breach could be prosecuted, adding: “If you are going to prosecute somebody, you need to be pretty clear about what they are doing wrong.” He suggested that the notices would come into effect the day after publication rather than the moment they were published. The matter relates to three days of industrial action which took place beginning on January 26 in a dispute over the future of furlough days. While the Minister of Home Affairs received an interim injunction from the courts on January 28 to halt the action, he is now seeking a permanent injunction to prevent future “illegal” strikes or a declaration from the courts that the unions had acted illegally. While lawyer Gregory Howard, representing the minister, has argued that the unions have a long history of illegal strike action and acted in breach of contract in January, Mr Duncan this week argued that a letter sent by Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, had amounted to a breach of trust and confidence. Continuing his arguments yesterday he criticised the Crown’s use of articles from this newspaper to portray the unions as rabble rousers, arguing that the articles alone were not enough to prove the facts of the incidents. He also said that only one of the five unions listed in the indictment had been involved in the past incidents. He further challenged the inclusion of the Fire Association in the list of respondents, stating the only evidence that any firefighters were at the demonstrations came from a single witness. “There was no disruption of essential services. There was no disruption of fire services. Were the men were off duty? Did they take the day off? There is no allegation that there was a disruption of the fire service.” Mr Duncan called on the court to provide declarations, not admonishing any party but clarifying the proper process to avoid further confusion in the future, adding: “I have no doubt that the section four notice cries out for some form of declaratory statement so the Crown know, and the respondents and the country know, what should be done under a notice and they can govern themselves appropriately.”

November 27. Senators crossed swords during an heated debate over the Bermuda Government’s proposals in the Throne Speech and the Opposition’s alternative vision for the Island. While the Senate leaders of both parties, Michael Fahy and Diallo Rabain, exchanged verbal blows on the issue of good governance and immigration, other senators were quick to question and criticize their rivals’ policies and track record. One Bermuda Alliance senator Georgia Marshall accused the Progressive Labour Party of paying “lip service” to the protection of families and children, saying the Opposition had not acted on a single recommendation contained in the 2009 report, Justice for Families: A Review of Family Law in Bermuda. She applauded the Government’s move to provide greater protection to vulnerable witnesses in judicial proceedings and backed the creation of an integrated Family Court under one roof that would champion mediation. Sen Marshall branded the PLP’s plans to reform the education system as “throwing the baby out with the bath water” and said it would be “nothing short of disastrous to a whole generation of students. This Government is committed to building on the improvement and ensure that our children have the opportunity to settle into the curriculum,” she said. She went on to brand parts of the Reply as “blustery rhetoric” that did not make sense. PLP senator Marc Daniels claimed the Throne Speech lacked “any real developmental ideas towards diversification.” “I would like to have heard more about the very specific basis of how each initiative will help economically and socially,” he said. He criticised the OBA of using the America’s Cup as their “lynchpin” and maintained that there was an “exodus” of the Island’s best and brightest from the country. “I have heard that less than 80,000 watched the America’s Cup on television in America and in percentage views it was the 91st most watched sporting event,” he said. “It’s a feel-good factor for Bermuda but the question is, what are the long-term results?” OBA senator Jeff Baron hailed the positive impact of community initiatives within the National Security Ministry — in which he is a junior minister — but took issue with large parts of the Opposition’s Reply. “The PLP say that violent crime has not abated, but it has abated,” he said. “That statement is just false.” Sen Baron then accused the PLP of making the issue of national security a “political football.” PLP senator Renee Ming also claimed the Government’s Throne Speech lacked any diversification ideas and said she was “baffled” that the OBA planned to ban dark visors after recently tabling legislation approving a darker tint on cars. She added: “I will be interested to see how the expansion of the CCTV network in St George’s will work. We don’t need any more in the town area, it is in the residential areas that there is just one camera. They are the ones being most hard hit in terms of robberies.” OBA senator Vic Ball questioned whether the country could “trust the words of the leadership of the Opposition party” after citing examples in 2010, 2011 and 2012 when he said that the PLP had claimed the country was out of recession. He rejected claims made in the Opposition’s Reply that “all indicators say we are still in recession”, before pointing to the growth in GDP and proceeding to highlight hotel developments. Sen Ball also countered the PLP’s proposed policy of selling fish caught by local fishermen off Bermuda in international markets by saying: “How are we going to compete with the global world when our fish is being sold for $17 per pound in Bermuda?” OBA senator Lynne Woolridge said the Government’s proposal to dispose of surplus government real estate was a “great way of reducing our debt”. She finished by pointing out three typographical errors in the Opposition’s response, including having the wrong date on the cover and confusing “moot” and “mute”, before saying that the OBA was moving the country in the right direction.

November 27. Civil servants wasted $2.6 million of public funds by making duplicate payments, according to the Auditor-General’s latest report. The transactions included a payment of $807,000 in 2012 to Sandys 360, the West End sports facility that closed its doors the following year after running out of money. Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews reveals the figures in her damning 315-page dossier on government spending, stating that public officials are bound by the Bermuda Government’s official financial rules to “exercise care and implement proper controls to prevent duplicate payments by ensuring that invoices have not been previously presented for payment”. The Island’s independent fiscal watchdog lists five examples of duplicate payments: a $5.1 million “third-quarter grant” in 2010; a $1.1 million payment made by the Department of Works & Engineering the same year; a cheque for $59,000 that was issued twice in 2010; miscellaneous items amounting to $571,000 in 2011; and the Sandys 360 payment. No further details of who made the payments or who received the funds were given and it was not possible to obtain those details from Mrs Matthews this week. She wrote: “The third-quarter grant was recovered but not the cheque that was issued twice. The amount paid to Sandys 360 has not been recovered. Explanations for the other duplications have not been provided. We recommended that the Accountant-General investigate the circumstances giving rise to these duplications, implement more robust controls and procedures to prevent duplication of payments and take all steps necessary (including legal action) to recover and amounts overpaid.” The duplications are included in what Mrs Matthews has called a “litany of non-compliance with financial instructions and related rules” uncovered for the fiscal years 2010, 2011 and 2012. The report cites $78.8 million worth of contracts in 2010 and 2011 which were not put out to tender; a failure to comply with financial instructions, mainly involving the Ministry of Public Works, in relation to a number of capital projects worth more than $35 million; and $5 million worth of spending across the Government in 2010 without signed contracts or agreements. One capital project — the renovation of the Department of Human Resources — had an original contract sum of $257,000 but ultimately cost the public $958,000. The Works & Engineering contract was not properly tendered and the cost was instead negotiated with a contractor, with the approval of the head of the civil service in 2010. “As such, there was no Cabinet Award Recommendation document issued to Cabinet and no Cabinet approval was obtained for the award of this contract,” wrote Mrs Matthews. Another example was the new central government lab — originally set to cost just $46,000 and eventually amounting to $902,000 of taxpayers’ cash. “In 2010, the contract did not receive prior Cabinet approval,” said the Auditor. “Additionally, W&E noted that the services were not tendered but were negotiated with the knowledge of the PS [permanent secretary].” Paula Cox was finance minister during the period covered in the report — as well as Premier from November 2010 to December 2012 — but she told The Royal Gazette last week that she did not want to comment on the Auditor’s findings. “Bottom line: no. At the time we would have set out all what we have done. There have been a lot of statements made at the time when I was in office.” Ewart Brown, the former Premier who led the country from October 2006 to 2010, declined to comment, as did Derrick Burgess, who was public works minister during 2010. Melvyn Bassett, the former managing director of Sandys 360, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

November 27. Head of the Civil Service Derrick Binns stressed that decision-making lies in the hands of ministers as he spoke out on the controversial failure to follow financial instructions. Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews has heavily criticised the Bermuda Government for a “litany of non-compliance with financial instructions and related rules” for the fiscal years 2010, 2011 and 2012. But while Mrs Matthews has called for senior civil servants to be penalized when they break financial rules, Dr Binns stated in a press release yesterday: “Every civil servant knows that civil servants advise; ministers decide. It is for this reason that the public face of government policy is invariably the responsible minister.” Dr Binns stated that the ministerial code of conduct for Bermuda indicates: “As the political head of a ministry, the minister is responsible for all of its acts and omissions, and must bear the consequences of any defect of administration or any aspect of policy which may be criticised in the legislature, whether personally responsible or not.” He reflected: “This preserves the impartiality of the civil service who serve the government of the day, not taking sides or blocking policies with which they may personally not agree and conversely not advancing interests which they personally support. Bermuda has a competent, dedicated and hardworking civil service. Changes in administrations and governing parties have been successfully managed over several years and ministers have and do continue to rely on the advice of civil servants, confident in the knowledge that once advised, their decisions will be implemented without fear or favour, affection or ill will.” Dr Binns also referred to a definition from the civil service commission website in Britain: “Her Majesty’s Civil Service is responsible for the implementation of executive decisions of the Government and as such, it plays the key role in all segments of life including security. Civil servants support the government in power but they are employees of the Crown and not the parliament although the latter may call them on account. In order to keep their independence from the politics and the parties in power, civil servants are in a way protected from the latter through their responsibilities.” Dr Binns stated: “Bermuda’s Constitution created a Cabinet-style Government and as such the executive decisions of the elected Government of Bermuda are made by the Cabinet. This includes the award of contracts, new policies, proposed legislative changes and the organization and staffing of the public service. Civil servants regularly advise ministers on administrative processes and on the importance of adhering to financial instructions, Bermuda’s laws and where applicable, longstanding custom and practice. In every instance, the advice of civil servants should be given openly and honestly, leaving ministers in no doubt as to the implications surrounding any decisions they might make individually or collectively as the Cabinet.”

November 27. Parents have not lost the right to stay informed about changes in their schools, according to education minister Wayne Scott. However, Mr Scott stressed that the ultimate decision lies with the ministry itself, and that consultation was not the same as asking parents for permission. “The format for everything that we are looking at is ‘children first’ — what’s ultimately in the best interests of the child, not the adults,” Mr Scott said. He acknowledged that the goal of restructuring the Island’s school system had led to anxiety for some parents, but said no decisions had been made. “The goal is in January to get this information out to the public and have a further consultation of approximately six weeks or so. All of this information will then be considered with a goal of having a final decision in place by the end of March. Any decision will be made under the premise of the best interests of our children. They are the beneficiaries of our best, and they are the ones that reap the consequences when we are not giving them the best.” The ministry is at present involved in court proceedings with the Bermuda Parent Teacher Student Association (BPTSA), which Mr Scott could not comment upon. At a meeting earlier this week, the BPTSA’s chairman, Harry Matthie, charged that amendments made to education legislation had effectively deprived parents of their say. Mr Scott said that the creation of Parent Councils, which exist in tandem with Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs), were aimed at “legislatively empowering parents. It is based on best practices in other jurisdictions, and it creates a legislative requirement for consultation. There have been suggestions that since we have PTAs in place, why don’t we use those. But PTAs are, by definition, charities. We can’t legislate a charity with specific duties under the Act.” He characterized a PTA as primarily concerned with traditional activities such as fundraising, while Parent Councils would involve parents in deeper issues such as how funds are spent, or the desired quality of a principal. “You can actually have the same people involved with both,” he said. “There is another level of that, with the Parental Involvement Committee. Outcomes are better when you have parents, and parents could probably do a better job figuring out how to get that involvement than the school system can.” The emphasis on parental involvement can be traced back to a 2012 case in which Chief Justice Ian Kawaley blocked two principal transfers which had been announced without informing PTAs. In that ruling, Mr Justice Kawaley wrote: “Consultation means simply that. It does not mean that the relevant decision could not have been made over the PTA’s objections or that the PTAs had to become formally involved in any contractual collective bargaining procedures. Rather, it required them to be involved in the decision-making process in some way which was consistent with their promised role as part of the collective team responsible for managing the relevant schools.” Mr Scott described education as a topic where people were bound to differ. “Everybody has a view on education. Everybody’s been to school; everybody has an opinion. You want to give consultation, look at the facts and make a decision based on all of that. We’ve been having a conversation on this for decades. We should be demanding that we do something different.” While he agreed with the Opposition’s proposal for more STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education, Mr Scott said bringing in more STEM programmes was under way. “There’s no question that we need to have a better focus on that,” he said. Mr Scott did not support the Progressive Labour Party’s proposal to do away with middle schools. “If you are not providing excellence to your children, it does not matter if you have a two-tier, three-tier or ten-tier system. .When I first became minister and asked a group of student leaders from CedarBridge Academy and the Berkeley Institute about the right things a minister could do, their response to me was: stop social promotion, don’t dumb it down — give us a high bar to reach.”

November 26. Bermuda has won a coveted financial gold star from the European Union. The Island has been awarded full equivalence under the tough EU Solvency II regulations by the European Commission after six years of work. The move means Bermuda and Switzerland are the only non-EU jurisdictions to be recognized as in line with new Euro insurance rules. There is still a 90-day consultation period for EU member countries and the European Parliament to have their say. Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) chief executive Jeremy Cox, who spearheaded the drive to attain EU equivalency, said: “This is significant news for Bermuda and the Island’s future as a strong financial services centre. It’s an exciting time for us. The world is watching to see how Europe will transform its risk industry and improve the protection of its policyholders. The world will also be watching to see how Bermuda plays its part in this epic transformation. It has been a long journey and an incredible amount of work has gone into this over the past six years. At the Authority, we are delighted that it is now on the brink of successful completion. The Authority has always performed the role of gatekeeper to a very high standard. But this achievement marks not only our supervisory expertise, but also our ability to stay focused and keep our eye on the long-term prize. There is now no doubt as to the calibre of commercial reinsurers and insurers operating from Bermuda or the quality of their regulatory environment.” The news means that Bermuda commercial reinsurers and insurers will be able to compete on an equal footing in Europe in writing business. Bermuda had to meet rules regulating the amount of capital that EU insurers must hold to reduce the risk of insolvency. Bradley Kading, president and executive director of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (Abir), said: “Solvency II equivalence for Bermuda will ensure competitive markets and better prices for European businesses and consumers. Abir members provide significant amounts of reinsurance capacity to European-based insurers. Bermuda companies provided 20 per cent of the recent UK Pool Re terrorism reinsurance placement and historically have supplied 20 per cent of the European property catastrophe reinsurance market. In addition, Bermuda insurers have covered between 20 per cent and 50 per cent of recent European-based airline and ocean marine catastrophic losses.” Jo Willaert, president of the Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA) in Brussels, said: “It is of great importance that European industrial and financial business entities have continued access to important commercial insurance and reinsurance capacity from Bermuda commercial insurers and reinsurers. FERMA has been determined to ensure that the coverage of risks for large European corporations remains available and affordable in order to protect the competitiveness of European industries. It also protects their resilience in the event of catastrophic losses as large claims payments are made into the EU economy. The protection of European businesses will be strengthened by the equivalence decision from the European Commission.” Bermuda will be officially in line with EU standards from the start of next year, although there is a 90-day consultation period with the European Council and European Parliament. David Matcham, chief executive officer of the International Underwriting Association in London, said: “The Bermudian reinsurance market is an important source of diversification in reinsurance capacity for the international insurance market and for European insurers. “Bermudian equivalence will ensure market access and be helpful for EU consumers. We’d encourage the Commission and Council to expedite their comments, if any, on the delegated act so equivalence can move ahead.” Hugh Savill, director of regulation at the Association of British Insurers, added: “Given the close and mutually beneficial relationship between the London market and Bermuda, the publication by the European Commission of its proposals on Solvency II equivalence for Bermuda is really good news. [The year] 2016 is nearly upon us so we hope to see these proposals promptly adopted.” Robert Paton, president of the Bermuda Insurance Management Association, added: “The Bermuda Insurance Management Association applauds the BMA’s vision, leadership and tenacity in achieving a bifurcated risk based, pragmatic regulatory regime appropriate for both the Bermuda commercial and limited purpose insurer markets.” Wendy Outerbridge, corporate secretary of the Bermuda International Long Term Insurers and Reinsurers Association (BILTIR), said: “BILTIR congratulates the Bermuda Monetary Authority on obtaining equivalence with the European Union’s Solvency II prudential regulation regime. Equivalency is a significant achievement for Bermuda which will allow its insurance industry to compete more effectively in the global marketplace. The BMA has demonstrated its dedication and commitment to the industry in achieving this goal. BILTIR has been pleased to work with the BMA on this initiative over the past several years, and we are excited about the future opportunities this will bring to Bermuda.” Bermuda Business Development Agency chief executive officer Ross Webber, added: “It represents an appropriate endorsement that should reap benefits not only for Bermuda’s risk industry, but for every sector of our global market whose success depends on Bermuda’s blue-chip reputation.”

November 26. The Bermuda Government’s persistent attempts to force workers to accept continued furlough days undermined its contractual obligations, according to a lawyer representing the unions. Delroy Duncan, who represents five of the Island’s unions in a court case between the unions and the Minister of Home Affairs, said the Government “seeks to use the very same law it refuses to abide by against the respondents.” The minister has sought an injunction from the courts to prevent what it has described as illegal industrial action, which it claims threatens efforts to improve the Island’s economy. While lawyer Gregory Howard, representing the Minister, argued yesterday that the unions have a long history of illegal strike action, Mr Duncan responded that the unions were not the “rabble rousers” portrayed by the government. He noted a 2013 Memorandum of Understanding between the unions and the government in which the unions voluntarily accepted pay cuts in order to assist the government’s efforts to reduce spending, adding that the unions were always willing to negotiate with government. However, Mr Duncan argued that the government had breached its contracts by repeatedly attempting to reduce the salaries of staff and “force” the issue of furlough days, leading to three days of industrial action in January. “We say that repeated attempts to try and reduce the salaries of the government workers was undermining the relationship of trust and confidence between government and the workers and that manifested itself in this case,” he said. He specifically cited a January 23 letter written by Minister of Finance Bob Richards, which he described as an anticipatory breach of contract. In the letter, he said Mr Richards requested that the unions reconsider the issue of furlough days, saying it was “imperative” that they continue and warning that if they did not, government would be forced to consider salary cuts or layoffs. Mr Duncan said the letter “went too far” and was “worse than aggressive”. He referred to it as the “going all the way letter” which he said was the result of the Minister of Finance not getting “his way” and negotiations not resulting in what he was seeking. “As innocuous as it may seem to some, there is a legal consequence to what he did,” Mr Duncan said. “There is a contractual consequence to what he did.” He said that the real issue at hand was not the impact of the industrial action on the economic environment in Bermuda but the impact the continuation of furlough days would have on the employees of the respondents. Union members who heard the contents of the letter felt threatened and intimidated, according to Mr Duncan. The matters were more emotive for the unions as they had presented government with around $35 million in cost savings in earlier negotiations, while government representatives had only submitted around $5 million. After the decision was made not to accept the continuation, he said the government’s actions became unlawful because the continued attempts to vary the contract by not taking furlough days off the table amounted to a breach of the mutual trust and confidence between employer and employee. According to Mr Duncan, a few days later Michael Dunkley, the Premier, acknowledged that furlough days could not continue without the agreement of the respondents. Mr Duncan said that if this had been made clear from the start the situation would never have developed as it did. He said the government can’t be allowed to break the law and then criticize the unions for reacting, adding that “the elevated height of concern is not borne out by the evidence or the events.”

November 26. Bermuda’s business community is not an oligarchy, Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy told the Senate, defending the Government’s efforts to restore business confidence in the Island. However, the Opposition senators maintained that life has not improved for many ordinary people and continued to chastise the One Bermuda Alliance for failing to bring good governance regulations into law. Meanwhile, independent senator James Jardine pointed out that while many economic indicators showed a positive turn, the overall number of jobs has decreased. Senator Fahy opened the OBA’s brief on the Throne Speech with a correlation between the number of work permits issued and the number of Bermudian jobs. Work permits peaked in 2010, with 18,530 issued, tumbling to 12,425 for last year. This year has surpassed 2014’s number by the end of October, Sen Fahy said, concurrent with a drop in unemployment from 9 per cent to 7 per cent. The minister was highly critical of the Throne Speech Reply delivered last week, saying the pledge to get rid of the Job Makers Act made “absolutely no sense whatsoever.” Sen Fahy laid the blame for Bermuda’s loss of international business on the 2011 hike in payroll tax and term limits. “The Opposition continues to say that term limits were a good idea, and yet the resultant effect was a decline in international business and job losses for Bermudians,” he said. “It’s rhetoric at its worst form.” Sen Fahy said the Reply’s references to a “corporatist, oligarchical attitude” in Bermuda sent the wrong message to business. He said the OBA had encouraged a business re-growth through initiatives ranging from a new corporate landholding policy to changes in the legislation governing companies and partnerships. “We’re looking to update our compliance with International Labour Organisation principles — frankly, the legislation in Bermuda is no longer compliant; in some cases it benefits unions and in some cases it benefits employers.” In response, Diallo Rabain, the Opposition Leader in the Senate, said the Progressive Labour Party’s commitments were “rooted in social and economic justice for all Bermudians — whether they are here by accident or here by choice.” Sen Rabain reiterated the uncompromising stand on corruption voiced in the Reply by Marc Bean, the Leader of the Opposition, with retroactive legislation. The PLP welcomed the latest report on government finances by Heather Jacobs Matthews, the Auditor-General, he said, and looked forward to debating it. Sen Rabain had strong words on the Good Governance Act 2012, which was brought by PLP Premier Paula Cox, calling on Minister of Finance Bob Richards to table the necessary regulations to bring it into effect. “Why fight putting the Good Governance Act in place? What is the issue? We invite you to investigate us and investigates yourselves — let’s go.” Sen Jardine noted that the Government and Opposition were at odds on whether the Island’s long economic recession was ending. “There has been a decrease in unemployment — that’s very positive,” he said. However, Sen Jardine called it “puzzling” that the total number of jobs had fallen by 1,133 at the same time. He also called on Government to explain why online gaming had not been considered. “If there is a reason why Government does not believe it is appropriate then fine,” he said. “But I do not recall having heard any reason why that has not been given some consideration.” He went on to say he believed the Electricity Act was a “good move forward” and added he was “pleased” to see there would be a bid process for a proposed solar farm on the Finger. Sen Jardine welcomed the proposed review of the system of child maintenance payments, but noted that little mention of tourism was made in the Throne Speech adding: “The recent statement [by Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Bill Hanbury] seems to suggest they [BTA] do need more funds to carry out large marketing initiatives.” He also questioned what had become of the recommendations made by the SAGE Commission, as well as previous initiatives including the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and a feasibility study into making the Island an Air Navigation Service Provider. Meanwhile, fellow independent senator Joan Dillas-Wright said she was pleased to see the hotel development outlined in the Throne Speech, but called for a comprehensive bill of rights for the Island’s seniors. She welcomed the Government’s acknowledgement that the lack of a secure forensic psychiatric unit was a serious concern. “I was very pleased to see this is going to be addressed with some kind of solution,” she said. “I would like not to have to come back next year and read that this issue has not been addressed.” Sen Dillas-Wright also expressed her support for the Government’s decision to give overseas students the right to vote.

November 26. PLP leader Marc Bean has accused finance minister Bob Richards of misleading the public with his claim that financial instructions were waived for the airport redevelopment deal. Mr Richards released a memo last week showing that Accountant-General Curtis Stovell approved the Bermuda Government to waive financial instructions on its early deals for the controversial project. However, in a statement, the Leader of the Opposition argued that memo only shows approval was granted for the first phase of the scheme. Mr Bean stated: “The admission in the Public Accounts Committee meeting on Thursday, November 19, from the Accountant-General, that permission has neither been requested nor received by the Minister of Finance, to act outside of financial instructions, is proof positive that the One Bermuda Alliance Government is a government without financial conscience, and a government that is willing to lie and deceive the Bermudian people to achieve its goals at any cost. The memo that was subsequently released by the finance minister was a desperate attempt to pull the wool over the public’s eyes. Yes, that memo shows an approval by the Accountant General, however, that approval was for the first phase only. For the government to proceed further, into signing the airport development agreement, approval to act outside of financial instructions would have to be sought and the Accountant-General would have to sign off on this. At the PAC meeting, the Accountant-General was clear that this had not happened, and that the Government did not have the appropriate permissions in place. It is disappointing that the Premier and other members of the OBA Cabinet have been silent over this behavior. However, one would think that this admission would at the very least cause the Governor and the Auditor-General to become interested in what is going on. Instead, thus far it seems to be business as usual. The Progressive Labour Party has articulated our plan to handle corruption in government and to enhance the standards of good governance. We have condemned corruption in any and every form and have expressed our displeasure, regardless of which administration it appears to be under. It is time for the Premier and the OBA government to deal with speculation about possible corruption within their ranks rather than only referring inquiries to the PLP administration. The people of Bermuda deserve better.”

November 26. Belco management has agreed to put on hold its pension plan discussions that yesterday sparked a protest by workers. Scores of Belco employees marched through Hamilton over proposed changes to their pension plans and later gathered outside the utility company’s headquarters on Serpentine Road. “Management has acquiesced to our request,” a representative of the Electrical Supply Trade Union (ESTU) told the crowd at about 6pm. He added that no changes will be made until management has sat down with the union. Union president Ray Bean said: “Management have agreed to put a stay on this. Management should have consulted with the union in good faith rather than making a decision on their own that impacted their members. Protocol starts in the beginning. We shouldn’t have been here tonight.” Both representatives thanked the Belco workers for their support. Mr Bean added that the members of the union work with pride around the clock and will now go back to what they do best with the understanding that the union will not stand down on this matter. At a meeting at Bermuda Industrial Union yesterday afternoon, workers voted to stay off the job until management addresses their concerns. More than 100 staff members walked to the electricity company’s headquarters. At about 4pm, a number of representatives went in to speak with management, while the remaining members stood outside. Mr Bean told The Royal Gazette that management had upset the ranks by making unilateral changes to a number of the workers’ medical benefits. Workers claimed some benefit changes were made as recently as Monday with no consultation. Mr Bean said: “We’re here because Belco desires to cut costs even while making a profit. We’re here now because of benefits they have unilaterally rolled back with no consultation and discussion.” A Belco spokeswoman said yesterday evening: “The matter has been referred to the Department of Workforce Development. Management and the ESTU have agreed to meet to discuss the issue.”

November 26. Tougher international rules to combat money-laundering and other crime have hit Bermuda bank customers, the Island’s banking industry body said yesterday. The Bermuda Bankers’ Association (BBA) said that banks are now asking for additional information and documentation, from both new customers and existing ones. But a spokesman for the BBA said: “This is essential to the ongoing viability of Bermuda’s banking industry and by extension the Island’s reputation as a good place to do business.” The BBA said “rapid regulatory change” was aimed at stopping criminals and terrorists from using banks to deposit laundered money and cash from drug trafficking, terrorist financing and tax evasion. The spokesman added: “Bermuda is not immune to the impact of these changes. As a well-regarded international financial centre, it is essential that we all continue to work to maintain and enhance our reputation as a good place to do good business, aligned with the highest international standards of controls and transparency.” He said that the BBA worked with regulators the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) on the provision of financial services in Bermuda, including dealing with the impact of increased international regulations and requirements. The spokesman added: “The BBA is committed to ensuring that the legal and regulatory framework governing financial services in Bermuda operates in an efficient, effective and fair manner. “This prudent approach is not only good for banking customers but also for the protection and maintenance of the Island’s reputation as a highly-regulated and safe environment within which companies and individuals can do business.” And he said that customers should tell their bank about changes in personal circumstances, like address, marital status and other major relevant changes.

November 26. An environmental group has lamented the lack of progress in making Southlands a national park. The Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce said it was “disheartened” that there was no mention of Southlands in the Throne Speech last week. The group’s chairman, Stuart Hayward, told The Royal Gazette that it was difficult to understand why there had been such a long delay in providing Southlands with national park status. The address on November 13 by the Governor, George Fergusson, included details of the completion of a crop sector strategy and the launch of the dairy sector strategy as well as the launch of a new policy to facilitate importation of new sources of agricultural plant material. It also referred to the need to make Bermuda’s electricity service “environmentally sustainable” as a new Electricity Bill was unveiled. However, there was no mention of tabling legislation that will provide Southlands with the legal protection afforded to national parks. “We were disheartened that there was no mention of adding Southlands to the national parks system,” Mr Hayward said. “Until Southlands is codified as a national park, there is an ever-present risk that non-parkland uses will creep in. It’s not easy to understand why there has been such a lengthy delay, especially as the Premier and senior Cabinet ministers have repeatedly promised that Southlands would be protected as a listed park.” Last week a spokeswoman for the Department of Parks said: “Southlands was not mentioned in the Throne Speech because it has been mentioned in the past and the work is ongoing. The Cabinet memo to amend the Parks Act, which includes adding Southlands to the national parks schedule, is currently circulating throughout the relevant ministries. The Department of Parks also conducts maintenance projects in the park several times throughout the year.” Although the Southlands-Morgan’s Point land-swap agreement took place more than two years ago, Southlands has still to receive official national park status. At the start of this year, the Bermuda Government said the Department of Parks was viewing several options for Southlands with a view to putting the options to the national parks commission for review.

November 26. A woman who purchased two minibuses before receiving permission to operate them has lost a lawsuit against the Bermuda Government over profits lost because of a “misrepresentation.” Grace-Ann Fox, owner of Mini Mega Transport Services, had launched a legal action against the transport minister alleging that a 2011 letter from a civil servant had suggested that she had been granted an operating permit when she had not. While permission to operate the vehicles was granted more than a year later, Mrs Fox alleged the misrepresentation cost her $107,200 in profits. The Supreme Court heard that in the summer of 2011, Mrs Fox had sought to expand her business fleet from two minibuses to four, importing the additional vehicles from overseas. She sent documents to Transport Control Department, including an application to operate a public service vehicle and technical specifications for the minibuses that she wished to import. Mrs Fox later received a letter dated August 9, 2011, stating that TCD had reviewed the technical specifications and approved for the make and model to be imported for use in Bermuda as a minibus. She told the court that she understood the letter meant that her application for an operating permit had been granted, but it had not — the misrepresentation at the heart of her claim. Terry Spencer, who was TCD’s registrations manager at the time, told the court that importing a minibus and operating one required separate approvals resulting from separate approval processes, explaining that the decision whether to approve an operating permit was a matter for the Public Service Vehicles Licensing Board. He said that shortly after the letter was sent to Mrs Fox, he contacted her to explain that, while she had permission to import the vehicles, she needed to make a separate application to operate them. Mrs Smith said that despite the phone call, at the end of the conversation she was not sure if she had a permit or not. An application to operate the vehicles went before the board in December 2011, but the decision was deferred because the minister then had placed a moratorium on new minibus permits. Mrs Fox testified that she had no idea about the moratorium or that the decision had been deferred, but she placed an order for the new minibuses in January 2012. At that time, she said she believed she had permits to operate the vehicles. The board approved the permits in a September 2012 meeting in which Mr Spencer told the board that, based on instructions from the Attorney-General’s chambers, the moratorium that had previously stalled the application was unlawful because it had not been approved by Cabinet. While Mrs Fox argued that the misrepresentation cost her more than $100,000, Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman dismissed her claim, noting that she had previously applied for such permits and had experience with the process. In a judgment dated November 20, Mr Justice Hellman found that Mr Spencer’s letter was not a representation that Mrs Fox had received an operation permit. “I am further satisfied that the plaintiff did not believe that it was when she placed an order for the minibuses in January 2012,” it added. “I need not go on to consider the plaintiff’s claim for damages. However, even if the plaintiff had succeeded on liability, it is not clear to me that she would have suffered any loss. The damages which she claims are for loss of the profit which she would have earned had the August 9, 2011 letter granted an operating permit. But it didn’t. Whether or not it purported to grant one — and I have found that it did not — is beside the point.”

November 25. Bermuda has been in the spotlight in Australia as senators examine the tax affairs of big business. An Australian senate committee set up to look at the tax affairs of major companies heard that oil giants Chevron had 200 companies registered in Bermuda and a further 200 registered in the low tax US state Delaware. Chevron — the company behind Australia’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project — also told the committee that Chevron Australia Transport, a Chevron subsidiary with a stake in a shipping firm, is owned by Chevron Australia Transport Bermuda. Two of Chevron’s most senior executives appeared in front of the Senate committee on tax avoidance in the Australian capital Canberra last week. Chevron Australia managing director Roy Krzywosinski said most international shipping companies are owned through Bermuda and the Island had a remarkable safety record. But the company’s defence of its “open and transparent” dealing with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and denied the firm was a tax avoider. Mr Krzywosinski said: “Chevron did not engage in any illegal activity or tax avoidance.” But the defence did not impress the cross-party senate committee, who have spent months quizzing executives from global companies like Apple, Google and Uber. Labour senator Sam Dastyari said: “We have spent a year trying to find Australia’s biggest tax dodger and we’ve found it. It’s Chevron. It continues what we’ve seen time and time again.” And senator Dastyari described Chevron’s tax arrangements as “a rort” — Australian slang for taking unfair advantage. He said: “The structures created by Chevron with its own internal structures are a rort. They’ve always been a rort.” And Liberal Party senator Sean Edwards, a member of the conservative ruling coalition, attacked the company for its use of US and Australian dollar transactions to “minimise tax.” Chevron was last month slapped with a $269 million bill for unpaid Australian taxes between 2004 and 2008 by a Federal Court. Chevron said last week it would appeal the decision to the Australian High Court. The Royal Gazette reported last month that Chevron is one of seven companies embroiled in a probe into corporate tax avoidance by the Australian government. All the companies have been criticised for using offshore subsidiaries to cut their tax bills in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald said that financial accounts showed that Chevron and ExxonMobil, partners with Shell in the Western Australia LNG Gorgon gasfield, have a combined $87 billion in “unrepatriated profits” in accounts in low-tax jurisdictions. The newspaper also reported that “a review of Chevron’s Australia business” had found that its largest LNG tanker, used to transport Australian gas to Asia, is Bermuda-owned. Despite the 96,000-tonne Northwest Swan tanker flying the Bermuda flag since 2006, Australia appears to have been unaware that the ship was registered and owned on the Island.

November 25. The Hamilton Princess Hotel, Bermuda was both applauded and criticised yesterday for pulling the plug on two talks by a prominent same-sex marriage opponent. Ryan Anderson, a member of the conservative American think-tank the Heritage Foundation, was to speak at the hotel next week but general manager Allan Federer issued a statement saying it would not be a “venue for anti-diversity discussions.” The organizers — a group going under the names Preserve Marriage and Concerned Citizens of Bermuda — hit back, claiming the hotel was “operating under the false idea that banning a presentation results in upholding diversity, when in reality it violates the definition and practice of diversity in every form”. The free public forums on December 1 and 2 at 7pm will now be held at the New Testament Church of God, Heritage Worship Centre, 59 Dundonald Street, Hamilton. Dr Anderson’s lectures were announced on Tuesday and, according to Mr Federer, media coverage alerted the hotel to the subject matter. His statement said: “It has come to our attention that a meeting to oppose gay marriage was to be held at our hotel. Immediately upon learning of the nature of the meeting, we called the organization to explain that our policy is one that celebrates diversity and that the hotel is not a venue for anti-diversity discussions. It is a standard hotel practice that upon making a reservation, groups disclose the nature of meetings that will take place on our premises. This meeting originally was reserved under a different guise and would never have been accepted if the group had disclosed its intentions at the time of the reservation. The Hamilton Princess does not accept any booking that promotes discrimination of any kind.” Preserve Marriage said it would “seek appropriate redress in the immediate future” of the hotel’s decision to refuse to provide it with “goods and services”. Group spokesman Melvyn Bassett said: “We are highly disappointed that the management of the Hamilton Princess did not take leadership in this matter. Appropriate leadership would have been to send a message to the public stating that, because they uphold diversity, they will allow this event, as surely all hotels have had other forums and events in which speeches or debates are held with various opinions, without banning goods and services. At the same time, they have disregarded the business that citizens of Bermuda who are in favour of the current definition of marriage bring to the hotel industry. It is our hope that this discriminatory ban will be lifted and that Hamilton Princess will exercise leadership for the community rather than operating under the false idea that banning a presentation results in upholding diversity, when in reality it violates the definition and practice of diversity in every form.” Lawyer Adrian Beasley, who recently married his partner Shane in New York and had a blessing in Bermuda with a number of related events, including a cocktail reception for more than a hundred guests at Hamilton Princess, said: “I applaud Hamilton Princess for having socially tolerant and diversity-celebrating policies in place and the courage to make decisions based on such policies. You have definitely won me and my family over. When I heard about Ryan Anderson coming to Bermuda and speaking at the Hamilton Princess, I was disappointed. My husband and I are directly impacted by the Bermuda Government not recognizing our marriage. We are firm supporters of all efforts to level the playing field and to afford the same rights to us and all other same-sex married couples as to our heterosexual counterparts. That said, we are both obviously wary of mounted attempts to promote ‘traditional’ marriage in a way that is designed to counter the efforts of those of us seeking simple equality. I personally don’t have an issue with open-forum discussions, even those that advocate for ‘traditional marriage’ or for Mr Anderson to speak in Bermuda; it’s healthy to debate these topics and for all interested parties to attend. However, I also believe that the public debate is becoming incoherent with rhetoric and as emotions escalate, the issue will continue to be polarizing.” He said the hotel’s decision initially to host the talks smacked to him and his husband of inconsistency, since it was prepared to host celebrations linked to a gay marriage. “It made me reflect on the adage ‘business is business’,” said Mr Beasley. “We did send in an e-mail to the lady that organized our event and expressed our disappointment; we firmly believe in providing feedback to businesses where we choose to spend our hard-earned dollars. Our excitement at the decision of the hotel to not accept the reservation, based on their policy of celebrating diversity, is palpable; they have earned our respect in this regard. Although I don’t believe they have stated on record that the hotel supports marriage equality in Bermuda, this is a stark reminder to all of Bermuda that there are other stakeholders here, who may not stay silent anymore, where they might have five years ago.” Pastor Sylvia Hayward, an equal rights campaigner, also praised the hotel and said its decision was not an affront to free speech or diverse views. “Good for them,” she said. “I just applaud their stance because I am a firm believer in equal rights. They are not saying you can’t do it. All they are saying is you can’t do it here. They are saying we stand up for equality, we stand against discrimination and we are not going to be a part of it.” Mr Federer told The Royal Gazette he was not aware of the nature of the forums until media coverage. But the organizers said the hotel never asked for specifics about the talk. “Hamilton Princess was fully informed that the venue and arrangements were being made for and on behalf of Preserve Marriage,” said their statement. “Hamilton Princess never asked Preserve Marriage to disclose the nature of the meeting that would take place, which is a civil presentation of Why Marriage Matters. All questions were answered truthfully and fully. Availability was confirmed and then the process later discontinued by the general manager. We were shocked by the representations made by Hamilton Princess to the contrary and will be taking this serious misrepresentation of the facts up with the general management directly.” The Human Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination in the supply of any goods, facilities or services, because of religion, belief or politics, among other things. It was not possible to reach Dr Bassett for further comment on Preserve Marriage’s reference to the refusal of “goods and services.”. Mr Anderson lectures on the constitutional implications of same-sex marriage, which became legal across the United States this year. His views were cited by Justice Clarence Thomas in his dissenting opinion in the 2015 US Supreme Court case involving state marriage laws. Preserve Marriage’s statement said: “Diversity is defined as ‘the quality or state of having many different forms, types, and ideas’. The public presentation that Dr Ryan Anderson usually presents is not based on arguments founded in morality, theology nor tradition. “It is unfortunate the Dr Ryan’s views were invited and acceptable in the US Supreme Court and major universities, but apparently unacceptable for the Hamilton Princess.”

November 25. A new café will open its doors today inside AS Cooper & Sons main department store on Front Street. It has taken six months to create Somers’ Café on the first floor of the building. It enjoys sweeping views of Hamilton Harbour and has seating for 36 customers, mostly at chairs and tables in the outdoor balcony area, although there is some additional seating inside. The café, which is being run by the MEF Group, has its soft opening today. An official ribbon-cutting event will take place at a later date. A wall on the first-floor level of the store previously blocked the view of the harbour, but it has been removed and now daylight streams through large windows next to the corner café. Somers Cooper, managing director of AS Cooper, welcomed the transformation. “We got rid of the wall and it has created a brighter, more natural feeling,” he said. There was a café in the old AS Cooper store, which was demolished in 2005. However, the replacement store, which opened a few years later, has been without a refreshment spot until now. Mr Cooper said he called Emilio Barbieri and Danny Lim, of the MEF Group, and asked if they would be interested in running a café at the location. They took up the offer and set to work on the project. The result is a clean, compact café that has a lunch menu featuring sandwiches, wraps, salads, and soup. There is an additional grab-and-go selection. A La Cimbali espresso coffee machine has been installed to serve up a range of fresh coffees. Tea and hot chocolate are also available. “It’s a place for people to relax while they are shopping, and it looks pretty good,” said Mr Cooper. The aroma of fresh coffee will help draw customers to the café as they wander around the store, said Mr Barbieri, who is managing director of the MEF Group. Regarding the cafe’s offerings, he said: “We have kept it simple. It is a place where people can get a quick lunch. About 90 per cent of it will be grab-and-go.” During the soft opening period the café will iron out any kinks in preparation for its official opening. One special opening is already scheduled for Friday, when the café will be serving snacks and hot drinks much earlier than usual. The AS Cooper store opens its doors at 6am for Black Friday-sales shoppers, and half-an-hour later Somers’ Café will start selling refreshments to early bird customers.

November 25. A prominent opponent of same-sex marriage has been invited to the Island by the group Concerned Citizens of Bermuda. Ryan Anderson, who is a member of the conservative American think-tank the Heritage Foundation, lectures on the constitutional implications of same-sex marriage, which became legal across the US this year. Dr Anderson is to speak at two free public forums at Hamilton Princess, Bermuda on “the politics of marriage and what governments must know”, according to an advertisement taken out by the group. Meanwhile, more than 7,000 people have signed an online petition by Concerned Citizens of Bermuda for marriage to be kept “as a special union ordained by God between a man and a woman”. The group has been described by supporter Gary Simons, of the Cornerstone Bible Fellowship, as “a cross-section of concerned citizens in Bermuda”. While no organizer has come forward, a press release yesterday attributed comments to a spokesman, Melvyn Bassett, who said that the group had hoped Dr Anderson would bring “a much-needed clarity concerning the constitutional questions about marriage.” The lectures will “present a public case for marriage between a man and a woman along with answering questions asked by the public in the topic”, the statement added. Dr Anderson is a member of staff at another conservative group, the Witherspoon Institute, and focuses on the political and social aspects of marriage law. According to the Washington Post, Dr Anderson avoids opposing same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds. The majority of local opposition to same-sex marriage, which was the topic of public forums launched by the Bermuda Government last month, has centred on religious objections. Concerned Citizens of Bermuda has kept up a steady campaign over the past month, with paid advertising backing its online petition. Dr Anderson came to prominence in 2012 with the publication of What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defence, which he co-authored. That book was cited by dissenting judges in recent US court cases on marriage, including the ruling in June in which states bans on same-sex unions were deemed unconstitutional. Dr Anderson, who is on vacation and was not available for comment last night, will deliver his talk next Tuesday and Wednesday, from 7pm until 8.30pm. Bermudians remain “split” on the issue, according to Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister of Community, Culture and Sport, who initiated the public forums and a request for feedback after the Bermuda Government was presented with a petition backing same-sex marriage.

November 25. People aged 55 and over are the “lost generation” of the pensions world, an expert warned yesterday. Miguel DaPonte, senior vice-president for BF&M Investment Services, said: “It’s difficult to say because we get a range of individuals who come in, but a lot of people who come in can’t meet the average costs that a Bermudian would face. “They are relying heavily on social insurance to help pay the bills at the moment and on family members to help make ends meet.” But Mr DaPonte said social insurance payments would be cancelled out by the cost of Government-sponsored healthcare plans like FutureCare. Mr DaPonte was speaking after a breakfast seminar on pensions and the cost of retiring in Bermuda, presented by the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by BF&M. He said that mandatory pension schemes, where employees and employers pay five per cent of salaries each into pension funds, were relatively new in Bermuda compared to other countries. He added: “I would say 55-year-olds are on the cusp. Definitely people five to seven years away from retirement will struggle because the system has only been around for 12 years. There’s not been time for them to build up a big enough balance. One good thing the lost generation has going for them is they came through the 1980s and 1990s boom and they own property. They can live in their house, but they can’t pay their bills. Those 20 years from retirement should have enough to do it but they may have to save more than the ten per cent. For those 40 and below, 10 per cent gets them to the cusp — 15 per cent would be ideal. There are only two things you can do — increase the retirement age so people have more years to save or increase the retirement rates. And it’s always tough to raise contribution rates in a poor economic environment.” He told the Chamber meeting that later retirement would mean “people will have a higher balance and that balance can be spread over fewer years. Extending the retirement age would be a good thing.” Mr DaPonte explained that low interest rates over the past few years had dented many pension plans. "Market rates over the past 15 years haven’t done as well as they have historically. That hasn’t helped. A shift away from defined benefit pensions, which paid a fixed rate on retirement, to defined contribution pensions, which are subject to fluctuations in investment values, had also affected people’s plans for retirement. A lot of people didn’t fully grasp the implications of the change from defined benefit to defined contribution. Bermudians’ tendency towards a conservative approach to investment coupled with low to zero interest rates had also hit pensions. It will be difficult for Bermudians over the next five to ten years when they come to retire. More people than ever will be retiring over the next five to ten years, so it’s important they come out and seek the help of people at BF&M and other financial institutions to try and make ends meet. One of the key things to take away is that the system isn’t broken, it’s just young. People aged under 40 should be able to meet their pension goals over their remaining working life."

November 25. Government revenues rose nearly 5 per cent in the first half of the fiscal year while public spending fell. The Ministry of Finance today released its half-year fiscal update and said it was broadly on track to meet targets set in last February’s 2015/16 budget. During the April through September period, Government ran a deficit of $98.7 million, down from $116.7 million for the corresponding period last year. The Ministry added that the economy is growing and the prospects for further growth look favorable. Revenues for the six months through September totaled $464.2 million, an increase of $20.7 million, or 4.7 per cent, from last year’s first half. “It should be noted that the increase in revenue is due to a larger collection in customs duty, payroll tax and passenger tax, which are offset by lower receipts in all other revenues,” the Ministry stated. “In general, total revenues are tracking in line with budget estimates and the strength in payroll tax and customs duty receipts increases the chances of meeting the total revenue target of $931 million for the current fiscal year.” Spending is tracking slightly below budget estimates, the statement added. Current expenditures, excluding debt service, were $455.6 million for the six-month period, down by $3.8 million, or 0.8 per cent from the same period last year. The Ministry added that this had been achieved despite the ending of the furlough deal with public-sector unions — under which staff were taking off one unpaid day per month — that generated significant savings last year. “The current year reduction is therefore due to proposals and other budget reduction measures taken in the 2015/16 Budget,” the statement added. The Ministry said financial assistance expenditure was tracking higher than budgeted. “Other potential unexpected and unavoidable expenditures in current account expenditures in 2015/16 are being closely monitored,” the Ministry added. “To the maximum extent possible, these items will be covered with current budget allocations.” However, capital expenditure is up by $2.2 million from the first half of the previous fiscal year. This was attributed to spending on the redevelopment plan for LF Wade International Airport and projects related to the America’s Cup. Debt servicing costs through the half-year period made up the bulk of the deficit, totaling $84.9 million, up by $4.3 million from last year. This was made up of $58.8 million in interest payments and a $26.1 million contribution to the Sinking Fund, an entity designed to pay down principal on long-term public debt. The $58.8 million paid in interest expense represents 12.7 per cent of the revenue collected for the period. For comparative purposes, it should be noted that the average for countries rated similar to Bermuda is 4.1 per cent of revenue collections. Excluding debt service, Government recorded an $8.6 million current account surplus for the first six months of the year, the first time this has happened in seven years.” Gross debt was $2.25 billion at the end of September. In its economic summary, the Ministry said: “Along with The America’s Cup, the proposed reform measures in the areas of employment, international business, tourism and construction are all expected to have a positive impact on the economy beginning in 2015 and beyond. All of these measures will help the economy to eventually grow and in turn assist the Government in its goal of sustainable growth and debt reduction.”

November 25. The Ministry of Education is seeking to wrestle control off parents even as potential school restructuring looms, according to the lawyer representing the Bermuda Parent Teacher Student Association. Eugene Johnston told an urgent meeting called by the Harrington Sound Parent Teacher Association that the creation of Parent Councils by the Ministry effectively deprived parent-teacher associations (PTAs) of their right to be consulted. “What they took away is the right that was obtained in 2012,” Mr Johnston told a gathering of about 80 people in Harrington Sound Primary School. And that was the right that every parent through their PTA, and the PTAs through their national body, is consulted about major decisions that concern children.” Mr Johnston was referring to a legal battle three years ago that successfully blocked two principal transfers, with Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruling that PTAs had a right to take part in critical decisions affecting schools. “You had a lot of rights,” Mr Johnston told the gathering. “But with the Parent Councils, there is no right to consultation.” According to Mr Johnston, along with Harry Matthie, the chairman of the BPTSA, the new legislation has profound implications in light of plans to reorganize and possibly consolidate certain schools. With the Act and the Education (Parent Council) Rules 2015, the Ministry of Education “has wrestled that control off a parent body”, Mr Johnston said. “Why would they want to add a layer of bureaucracy? All of this came at the back of the school consolidation and reorganization process. It’s still in train. And none of this Parent Council legislation gives you the right to oppose school consolidations and reorganization before the decision is made.” While Harrington Sound, a close-knit school of some 275 students, might seem secure in the face of a possible school shuffle, Mr Johnston said there was “a raft of schools who feel they might be on the chopping block. “We say that you have the right to know about these matters before they implement them, that they should tell you what they propose to do, why they propose it, and tell you what other options they went through and why they excluded them.” The BPTSA is seeking to challenge the parent council rules as unlawful. Mr Matthie called the new legislation “flawed, left, right and centre” and said the inclusion of a negative resolution procedure to change regulations means that the Minister of Education, Wayne Scott, could “change the rules whenever he wants. It means that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want,” Mr Matthie said. “We will be fighting this next year and the year after, hoping we can kill it, get the MPs to change the legislation, and give us back our rights.” Meanwhile, about 20 parents gathered at CedarBridge Academy last night to hear about the progress of the Government’s SCORE Advisory Committee and have their say on how the Island’s public primary schools could be improved. Romelle Warner, the committee’s chairwoman, told The Royal Gazette she was disappointed by the turnout, but said she hoped more would attend the second meeting this evening. “People often feel more at ease in smaller groups and talk more openly, and tonight we have seen people very engaged, discussing and sharing ideas in a very calm way, and that is what we hoped to see,” she said. “We very much hope that more people turn up to the second meeting because everything that is said at these two meetings will be passed on to the ministry. Everyone’s voice is important when it comes to education and our children.” The SCORE Advisory Committee has been tasked with gathering information about all the Island’s primary schools to determine “the feasibility of reorganization, including the possibility of school closure”. It will present its report to the Ministry of Education in the second week of December. “This committee is not a decision-making one, it is an advisory committee,” Ms Warner told the group. "The data will enable all of us to have a better understanding of the present state of primary schools and allow the Minister to make informed decisions on what is best for our children. Ultimately, the changes that will be made must be about setting our young people on the path to becoming productive members of our community.” Tonight’s SCORE Advisory Committee meeting will take place at the CedarBridge cafetorium from 6.30pm to 8pm. 

November 25. Philip Butterfield has announced that he will step down as chairman of the Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Trust at the end of this year. Mr Butterfield, who has been at the helm of BHCT since inception 12 years ago, said in a statement: “I feel privileged to have worked with such extraordinary people over the past decade. Moreover, I am pleased with the generosity of so many individuals and organisations that supported the Why it Matters campaign.” Mr Butterfield will remain involved with the BHCT, and hands over his seat to Jonathan Brewin at the end of the year. As a former chairman of Bermuda Hospitals Board, on two separate occasions, and a founding BHCT trustee, Mr Brewin has more than 20 years of experience in hospital administration and healthcare management. He stated: “I would like to thank Phil for his service to the Trust and the impact that has been made on the Island’s healthcare philanthropy. It is with his vision, dedication and leadership that the Trust has been able to accomplish such extraordinary feats in support of the Acute Care Wing.” Mr Brewin is general manager of Sol Petroleum Bermuda Ltd and was Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in 2012-13. He is a board member of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce and Age Concern.

November 25. Opinion by OBA MP Sylvan Richards. "The Auditor-General’s recently released report on the consolidated fund of the Government of Bermuda for the financial years of 2010, 2011 and 2012 should be required reading for every Bermudian. The report goes behind the curtain, revealing the mindset and conduct of the Progressive Labour Party when it was the steward of the public purse during those years. It is also a damning account that goes to the heart of political choices that Bermudians are going to have to make at the next election. The public need to be constantly reminded of just how badly the PLP performed in its duty to manage the public’s money wisely and well when it was in government. The public need to understand just how careless control of the public purse was under the PLP government, and how vast sums of money belonging to the people of this country were wasted and lost. Page 18 of the report states: “As in the past, the issue is not whether controls exist, but, rather, that the controls are ignored or overridden, with those responsible seemingly immune to the imposition of penalties and sanctions built into financial instructions”. The auditor’s report is, in short, an indictment of the PLP’s mismanagement of the people’s money — a forensic analysis of a financial train wreck that continues to haunt government finances to this day. Indeed, this latest report marked the fifth straight year the financial statements of the PLP government garnered a “qualified opinion”, meaning the auditor could not sign off on its integrity. Those who are familiar with the production of reports to shareholders in private industry will know that any auditor’s report, which contained findings such as those the Auditor-General included in hers, would be followed swiftly by the wholesale firing of the officers of the company concerned. The report details failures of control and accountability within the Civil Service, but its examination of the country’s accounts is not an isolated event. It is part of a continuum of reports that make it as plain as can be that PLP ministers were part and parcel of what was going on. In 2009, for example, a Special Report of the Auditor-General documented a high level of unsupported payments, as well as an override of controls at the highest level of management in the construction of the Magistrates’ Court building and the Hamilton Police Station. In that special report, Larry Dennis, then the Auditor-General, wrote that he and his team “were denied the right to audit material expenditures related to this capital project ... These matters led me to question the propriety of certain transactions ...” The Minister of Public Works at that time is a sitting Opposition MP, and in this latest auditor’s report, it is revealed that his oversight of the project caused staff at his ministry, as well as finance ministry staff, to criticize the inappropriateness of his actions. If anyone has forgotten, Mr Dennis, for his continuing audit work, was jailed, placed under house arrest, accused of theft and given 24 hours’ notice to move his department, lock, stock and barrel, out of its office — an outrageous event that remains an embarrassment to the good name of Bermuda. Subsequent accusations that Mr Dennis was targeted because of his comments about government accounts made it certain that his reports were a topic discussed at Cabinet. The failure to correct the serious accounting faults pinpointed in Mr Dennis’s reports is an issue that lies at the heart of Ms Matthews’s latest report. In the face of the auditors’ common findings, questions need to be asked: did PLP government ministers not care about better governance? Or did the system, such as it was, work for them? Inquiring minds want to know. Ms Matthews’s latest report exposes an almost complete failure of the system to check widespread misbehavior by the former government. Attempts by PLP politicians and their supporters to evade responsibility by pointing fingers solely at civil servants is a revealing and pathetic cop-out. However, it has become quite apparent since the report was made public on November 13 that this is the tactic certain PLP MPs and their surrogates are using to defend the indefensible. They are now throwing civil servants under the bus by spouting the party line that civil servants negotiated the contracts, that ministers do not sign contracts and that those of us who are rightfully outraged at the misdeeds of the former government do not understand how government works. They need to sit down and rethink the meaning of accountability, responsibility and good governance. The One Bermuda Alliance is engaged in a massive effort to get this country’s finances back on track. We are having success in turning around Bermuda’s economy while working to end the bad habits that flourished under the PLP government."

• Sylvan Richards is the Junior Minister of Home Affairs and the MP for Hamilton South (Constituency 7)

November 25. The latest stretch of the Railway Trail to be restored under ambitious plans to reconnect the track will be officially opened this weekend. A new bridge has been erected where the trail crossed Store Hill and a large section of the nearby Smith’s track has been cleared. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, is expected to join Governor George Fergusson at the official opening of the bridge at 10.30am on Saturday. The opening will bring to an end more than 11 months of planning and construction work on the Smith’s section of the trail. The latest phase has involved four of the original old concrete pylons being raised and restored, while a brand new fifth pylon has been constructed to take the weight of the bridge sections. Previously the restoration crew completed an extensive upgrade to the trail between Winton Hill and Coney Island that also involved the installation of new bridges. Mike Murphy, together with his son, Tucker, has been at the forefront of the scheme. He said:” On behalf of Friends of the Bermuda Railway I would especially like to thank our founding members Jay Nichols, Limbo Up Foundation and the insurers and reinsurers, Allied World Assurance, Ironshore Insurance Ltd., Renaissance Re., and the recently merged Montpelier Re. We appreciate them for having the foresight and vision as well as providing core financial backing to continue to connect the trail so that it becomes a safe and healthful place for Bermudians and tourists to exercise and enjoy the scenery along the way.” Anyone wishing to attend this Saturday’s opening can park at the Penhurst Park parking area and make their way to the bridge through a newly created cut-through.

November 25. Government MP Mark Pettingill claimed yesterday that David Burt should “probably” resign as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee or at least remove himself from any hearings about the latest Auditor-General’s report. Mr Pettingill said Mr Burt’s role as junior finance minister during part of the financial year 2011 and all of 2012 — when official financial rules were repeatedly violated or ignored by civil servants — meant a conflict of interest existed. But Mr Burt dismissed that last night, insisting: “There is no conflict of interest.” The shadow finance minister told The Royal Gazette: “I have a role as the current chairman of the PAC and I will continue to discharge my duties.” Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews said her report on government spending for the financial years 2010, 2011 and 2012 spoke to a “litany of non-compliance with financial instructions and related rules.” Those failures throughout government, including in the Ministry of Finance, involved millions of dollars of taxpayers’ cash. She said the senior civil servants guilty of non-compliance should be fined or otherwise disciplined but questioned whether there was a will in government to mete out such punishments. The issue of failing to comply with financial instructions came up last week, separately, at a PAC meeting about the airport redevelopment project. Accountant-General Curtis Stovell told the meeting he wasn’t asked for approval to waive financial rules, but finance minister Bob Richards later produced a 2014 memo in which Mr Stovell did give permission. Mr Burt said after the meeting he was “shocked that the Accountant-General came here today and said that the OBA Government is violating financial instructions in their approach to the airport”, later adding that the memo covered only the first stage of the project. Mr Pettingill chided him in Parliament on Friday for failing to speak out about the Auditor-General’s findings of non-compliance with financial instructions when the Progressive Labour Party was in power. But the Speaker of the House Randy Horton said Mr Burt couldn’t comment on a report that had been referred to the PAC by the Speaker. Yesterday, Mr Pettingill said: “He has commented on the airport at length. Why is it that he can comment constantly on the airport in public yet can’t comment on serious allegations that relate to his party and his former government? It sounds to me like having your cake and eating it too. He applies the rules when they suit his benefit.” Asked if Mr Burt should recuse himself from PAC hearings relating to the Auditor’s report, Mr Pettingill replied: “It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? He was in a position of intimate knowledge. “You can’t say ‘oh, he wasn’t in charge’. You have intimate knowledge as junior minister or you should have involvement of what’s happening in that Ministry. It’s very fair to ask the question: if these things occurred when you were junior finance minister how can you be a watchdog? If it was the same position in the OBA, he’d be screaming blue murder. He should recuse himself from dealing with anything that’s being raised in relation to the period of time under his tenure as junior finance minister. As there’s so much, he should probably resign from the committee.” Mr Burt said since he became PAC chairman in early 2013 the committee had conducted all of its business unanimously. “The public should be reminded that there are more OBA members on the PAC than PLP members. Additionally, we have issued reports on previous Auditor-General’s reports that covered the time when the PLP was in power, and there has been no complaint as to our work.” He repeated that it wasn’t “proper” for him to report on the Auditor’s report, adding: “By contrast, the oversight of current spending — the airport — is not something that has been referred to the committee by the Speaker of the House. This is something that the PAC has decided to hold hearings on.” Responding to Mr Pettingill’s claim in Parliament of PLP hypocrisy, Mr Burt said: “Regarding the spurious charge of hypocrisy, what we need in Bermuda is better governance. I have a role as the current chairman of the PAC and I will continue to discharge my duties. It should also be reminded that I didn’t accuse the OBA government of violating financial instructions; that was done by the Accountant-General in testimony before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.” He said Mr Richards should comment on why during almost three years in power he hadn’t tabled the government’s financial instructions in the House to make violating them a crime. And he said he was keen to hear what the Premier had to say about Mr Stovell’s PAC testimony. Mr Burt became junior finance minister in November 2010 and stayed in the role until the OBA came to power in December 2012. Mrs Matthews’s report reveals that during the financial year that ran from April 2010 to March 2011, there were departmental expenditures in the Ministry of Finance not approved by Cabinet in the sum of $2.4m, as well as $300,000 worth of expenditure without signed contracts and $4 million worth of contracts not tendered. 

November 25. Bermudians need a “business plan” to combat diabetes, according to the chairman of the Bermuda Diabetes Association. The rising costs of treating the disease will escalate to be unsustainable, David Hills told Rotarians at their weekly meeting, in a bid to raise awareness of the disease. He said the healthcare system stood to be left bankrupt by diabetes alone. But it is the cost to the individual that he was most concerned about. The business coach and accountant said a business-minded plan of action could be the key to getting Bermudians engaged in their own care and prevention. In his presentation, he laid out some “scary” statistics: one person dies every seven seconds with diabetes, a total of 4.9 million a year, and the estimated prevalence of diabetes on the Island is at least 15 per cent.  In a system that offers “a drug for everything” and no cure, what, he asked, were the real options? He alluded to the benefits of sitting at the top of a pharmaceutical racket and questioned the incentive to find a cure. “If you owned a drug company and you get a drug that earns $3 billion a year, do you think you’re interested in a cure?” A strong signifier, he said, were the trends in global medicine use. We are witnessing frequent drug mergers, most notably Monday’s joining of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Allergan, valued at $160 billion. Mr Hills said that even though the primary drivers were now the “BRIC” nations — the developing group of countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China — developed countries will still account for 63 per cent of use. That, coupled with the high margin on original brand drugs, means that global drug sales in 2014 exceeded $1 trillion. Mr Hills said Bermuda had the highest rate of lower limb amputation in the world, per capita. “What are the cost of all these complications? The first cost is the human cost. Then there’s the social cost as a community. The family cost. And I haven’t talked about dollars yet.” He said that a diagnosis would cost the healthcare system $200,000 per person a lifetime. Given the number of Bermudians who have diabetes diagnosed, “do the math”, he said. “The total amounts to billions,” he added. His call for questions from Rotarians was met with silence. “I hope that instead of shocking people into silence, I’ve shocked people into action,” he said. He told the Royal Gazette that the medical message was clear. “I’m trying to create a business plan that allows us to get the message across,” he said. “The biggest challenge is how to motivate people.” Mr Hills suggested a new motto: “Diabetes — a life sentence to a healthy life.”

November 25. The Immigration Appeals Tribunal, an independent body created in 2011, will publish its judgments online commencing on Friday. The IAT had been left without governing regulations for more than a year after its creation, with 44 cases waiting to be heard as of May 2013. Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, told the Senate this morning that the IAT had dealt with about 60 cases since then. There have been 21 formal hearings resulting in “a body of well-reasoned written decisions that have influenced and shaped our understanding of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956, as well as influenced policies at the Department of Immigration for the better”, Senator Fahy told the Upper House. The first decision of the IAT was in regard to jurisdiction, and it was determined that the Act did not give the IAT jurisdiction to hear appeals on work permit decisions. Of the remaining 20 decisions, 13 rulings upheld the minister’s decision, while seven quashed the minister’s decision. Most of the decisions deal with the refusal to grant Bermudian status or Permanent Resident’s Certificates. One case dealt with a sham marriage and revocation of Bermuda status. The IAT’s chairman, Tim Marshall, has pledged to ensure that IAT decisions will be published on a new IAT website before he steps down after three years at the post. Mr Marshall will be succeeded as chairman by Kiernan Bell, the deputy chairman, who will take the helm of the tribunal on January 1, 2016.

November 25. Bermuda is bidding to host the annual Global Entrepreneurship Congress in 2018, the Senate heard this morning. The GEC has been hosted by Kansas City, Dubai, Shanghai, Liverpool, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow and Milan since its creation in 2009. “Future congresses will be held in Medellin, Colombia, in 2016 and Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2017, with 2018 currently up for grabs,” Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, told senators. The 2018 GEC will run from March 12 to 15 in 2018. Senator Fahy said that the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) had a team drafting Bermuda’s proposal to host the congress, headed by Nicholas Kempe, the chairman of the BEDC. According to Sen Fahy, at least 1,500 to 1,800 people would visit the Island if the GEC was secured. If achieved, this would be the largest conference hosted in Bermuda. A conservative estimate of total spending on the Island during the congress is $1.5 million, Sen Fahy added. The formal bid proposal will be submitted by February 15, 2016. “The America’s Cup is bringing new prominence to Bermuda’s attractions, and the ability for the Island to successfully execute large-scale events. As such, hosting the congress in March 2018 allows Bermuda to capitalize off the success of the America’s Cup in 2017, leverage infrastructure that will already be in place, while bringing a substantial event to our shores during the Arts and Culture season, historically a slower time for the Island.” Anyone wishing to assist with the bid is invited to contact Mr Kempe at

November 24. Parents have called an emergency meeting to discuss the “major” implications that educational reforms proposed by the Bermuda Government will have on public schools and students. Deanna Trott, president of the Harrington Sound Parent Teacher Association, said “the future of our children’s education is in dire straits” in a press release sent out yesterday as she urged parents to attend the meeting. The warning came as the Ministry of Education’s School Reorganization (SCORE) Advisory Committee announced plans to hold parent, educator and community sessions today and tomorrow. The Harrington Sound PTA meeting will take place in the school’s auditorium at 6pm tonight. According to yesterday’s press release it has been called to look at “how changes to the Education Amendment Act 2015 will have a major impact on public schools, educators and students in the very near future.” Mrs Trott said: "“The future of our children’s education is in dire straits.  We implore parents of Harrington Sound School students to attend this very important meeting. If you cannot attend, send a grandparent, family member or a friend. We believe your support in this matter is imperative.” The event will also feature two speakers: Bermuda Parent Teacher Student Association chairman, Harry Matthie, and West Pembroke PTA president, Rene Dill. The proposed consolidation of schools and educational reforms have been the subject of intense debate across the community. Yesterday, the Ministry of Education said its meetings at CedarBridge Academy would provide “an opportunity for parents, school staff and other community members to learn more about the work of the SCORE Advisory Committee and to give input on the important issue of school reorganization.. The meetings will take place at the cafeteria today and tomorrow from 6.30pm to 8pm. According to the Government press release, the purpose of the SCORE Advisory Committee is to gather current information about schools for determining the feasibility of reorganization, including the possibility of school closure. It stated: “It must be noted that the SCORE Advisory Committee will not engage in any activity related to evaluating school personnel and the findings will be communicated to the Minister of Education for consideration and decision-making. The SCORE Advisory Committee encourages all to attend so that the voices of parents, educators and community members can be heard and considered as part of the school reorganization process.”

November 24. Michael Harkin’s victory in the Supreme Court yesterday broke new ground in Bermuda in several areas of human rights and employment law. His lawyer Allan Doughty told The Royal Gazette the ruling set a new precedent for people trying to pursue claims that their human rights had been infringed by employers. He said: “The decision confirms that where a contract of any worker in Bermuda has not been renewed, for a discriminatory reason, the non-renewal may form the basis of a Human Rights complaint. Chief Justice Kawaley also confirmed that while the Human Rights Act does allow for preference to be granted to Bermudians within the employment context, the preference is confined to the hiring process.” The Harkin case also set new precedent in how damages could be assessed by the court. Mr Doughty added: “On the issue of compensation Chief Justice Kawaley overturned the board’s ruling that Mr Harkin’s loss of earnings claim should be reduced by 40 per cent for allegedly failing to prove that he had availed himself to all opportunities to earn overtime in his new position. The Chief Justice instead held that the evidence showed that Mr Harkin’s overall loss of earnings should be reduced by 32 per cent as that was the apparent difference in his overtime earnings between Bermuda and the UK. This is significant as this is the first time that a Bermudian court has awarded a loss of overtime pay to a police officer. Chief Justice Kawaley also found that there was no justification for the reduction of Mr Harkin’s loss of pension in the amount 40 per cent. For that reason the Chief Justice ordered that Harkin be awarded the full difference between the pension he would have earned while working his five-year contract in Bermuda. Finally, the Chief Justice found that the board was wrong to reduce Mr Harkin’s overall period of loss to three years from the five-year period of loss he claimed, which was the term of the second five-year contract. This is highly significant as it not only raises his total claim for loss of earnings but also spells out for the first time that in Bermuda’s Human Rights Law, a complainant is not to be compensated by pay-in-lieu of notice of up to six months pay, but rather for his actual period of loss. For that reason in Mr Harkin’s case, his damages were calculated on the basis of what he would have earned in Bermuda, as to what he actually earned in the UK over the space of five years subject to a deduction in his loss of overtime and a further deduction from the difference of cost of living between Bermuda and UK.”

November 24. A British policeman who was unfairly passed over for promotion in Bermuda has won a landmark case at the Supreme Court. Michael Harkin filed an internal complaint with the Bermuda Police Service in October 2009 when several Bermudian colleagues were promoted ahead of him — even though some had scored lower marks in their sergeant exams. Just months later he was forced to leave the Island after being told his relationship with the force was “no longer harmonious” and his contract would not be renewed. His sudden termination prompted Mr Harkin to embark on a six-year legal battle with the public office of the Commissioner of Police that ended yesterday with the Supreme Court ruling that he had been discriminated against on the grounds of his place of origin. “I’m definitely satisfied with the result,” Mr Harkin told The Royal Gazette from Coventry, England, where he works as a police officer. “It’s been a long time coming. It was never my intention that this would go to court, I had been in favour of mediation after meeting with the Bermuda Police Association at the time, but the police service kept wanting to fight it. This was never about money for me, it was about the simple principle that I was unfairly treated and this was borne out in the Chief Justice’s judgment.” In 2013, Mr Harkin took his case to the Human Rights Commission (HRC), where a board of inquiry ruled in his favour and awarded him about $100,000 — although the exact figure was unclear. However, the police service appealed against the decision, while Mr Harkin appealed against the sum he was awarded. Yesterday afternoon, Mr Harkin won a double victory after Chief Justice Ian Kawaley dismissed the Commissioner of Police’s appeal and ruled Mr Harkin’s appeal should be upheld. It is understood that Mr Harkin is now set to benefit from more than $200,000 in damages. “Hopefully now it will be easier for others in Bermuda who feel that their human rights have been violated,” he said. “This case can be used by others and could give people confidence to pursue claims when they feel they have been unfairly treated. It shows also that one person can stand up against a big institution like a police service and win. For me having to suddenly leave Bermuda where I had set up a home and had friends was very hard.” Mr Harkin joined the BPS in February 2005 on a five-year contract. During his time in uniform the officer’s record was exemplary. Within a year, he had qualified as a member of the underwater search and rescue team and later became a firearms officer. In July 2009, with six months of his contract still to run, he passed a selection process to obtain the rank of police sergeant, placing fourth in the rank orderings of his class. Mr Harkin became concerned a month later when eight of his fellow officers were promoted to sergeant, while he remained a police constable. Mr Harkin was the only officer on a work permit and he was later told by Michael DeSilva, then the deputy commissioner, that his promotion was being “deferred” until his work permit — due to expire in six months — had been renewed. In October 2009, Mr Harkin submitted a written request that his contract be extended, and two weeks later filed a complaint with his employer, arguing that he had been discriminated against on the grounds of his nationality. At a subsequent meeting with human resources, he explained he had sought independent advice from the HRC before filing his grievance. A month later, Mr Harkin was told in a letter from Commissioner George Jackson that his relationship with the force was “no longer harmonious” and that his contract would not be renewed. He left his job and the Island in December 2009, filing a complaint with the HRC before returning to Britain. During the HRC hearing into the complaint in February 2013, lawyers for the BPS argued that employers had a right to promote Bermudians ahead of guest workers. However, the argument was rejected. This part of the ruling was further enforced in a written judgment handed down yesterday afternoon. Dr Justice Kawaley said: “The respondent’s [Commissioner of Police] appeal against the liability decision is dismissed. The applicant [Mr Harkin] was discriminated against on the grounds of his place of origin in that the promotion procedure was applied to him in a prejudicial manner by virtue of his being a contract worker. No question of actual prejudice in the sense of conscious discrimination arose. The applicant’s appeal against the quantum decision is allowed in part to the following extent: the appropriate loss of earnings period is five rather than three years; the appropriate deduction for failure to mitigate loss is 32 per cent rather than 40 per cent and the loss of pension award is the agreed figure of $83,677.26 without the 40 per cent deduction.” Mr Harkin’s case was brought against the Office of the Commissioner of Police rather than a specific commissioner. Mr Jackson was commissioner at the time the complaint arose, while Mr DeSilva was commissioner throughout the defence of the claim. Last night, Mr DeSilva released a statement saying: “I am aware of the decision and I received a copy of the judgment today. We will carefully review the document and if our processes need to be revised as a result, we will do so. There are other matters related to this specific case that remain to be resolved and as such it would be premature to comment any further.”

November 24. Celebrated Bermudian saxophonist and mechanic Edwin “Doc” Simons has died at the age of 75. His younger sister, Maxine Dillas, described Mr Simons as a consummate hard worker, dedicated to his family, engines and entertaining the public. “That was his life,” she said. “He would work on cars and boats all day and then play music at night. He never liked to sit down. He was always a very loving brother to me, and a caring father to his two boys who did everything he could to make sure they were on the right path.” Mr Simons first became involved in the local music scene at the age of 18 under the influence of guitarist Jimmy Landy and later Ghandi Burgess. He, along with Mr Landy and Calvin Carmichael, formed a band called The Arpeggios, who became a local fixture, sharing the stage with artists including the Blues Brothers, Jimi Hendrix and even a 14-year-old Stevie Wonder. The band were a staple of the Island’s nightlife, performing for thousands of visiting college students at Elbow Beach. The saxophonist later formed a second band, The Warren Experience, joined by Harold Pimental on bass, Howard Rego and later Peter Profit on drums and Darrell Fubler on keyboards. The band regularly performed at the Guinea Discotheque on Burnaby Street and were a fixture at The Reefs. Off the stage, Mrs Dillas said Mr Simons was fascinated by engines and developed a reputation at a young age as a skilled mechanic. “He was so well known people would just call him all the time, so he set up a business out of his home and people would find him there all day, even in the wee hours,” she said. “He always wanted to help everybody. He was such a people person. People kept on asking him to look at their boats, so he bought a little boat so he could go out and repair boat engines. He was just so well known and well liked.” While a stroke kept Mr Simons from the stage for several years, Mrs Dillas said he worked hard to recover and was later able to return to the music scene, performing with the Doc Simons Trio. Fellow saxophonist Wendell “Shine” Hayward expressed his condolences to Mr Simons’s friends and family yesterday. “Doc will always be remembered for the energy that he brought on and off the stage,” he said. “Although he was not a very technical player, he surely made up for that with his soulfulness and ability to read an audience to know exactly what was needed to either have them singing, dancing or simply giving up that applause. He has been a miss for a while, long before his passing.” Author and historian Dale Butler described Mr Simons as a “giant of a saxophone player”, recalling his days performing at The Hog Penny and Hubie’s.

November 24. The Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission is seeking a new general counsel less than two months after it announced the hiring of Arlene Brock, the former Ombudsman, to the post. According to a notice in Saturday’s edition of The Royal Gazette, the commission is looking for a counsel to oversee all legal matters and to serve as the primary legal adviser to the commission. “The general counsel will serve as a member of the organization's senior management team,” the notice stated. “The general counsel will serve as a member of the senior leadership team and will lead and manage the legal, compliance, risk management and internal audit functions.” Qualified persons were invited to submit written applications and CVs to the commission or directly to executive director Richard Schuetz by next Monday. On September 30, the commission had announced that Ms Brock would serve as the organization's general counsel, with Mr Schuetz saying she would be an “integral person” in ensuring that the commission operates at the highest standards. In the same release, Ms Brock was quoted as saying: “I look forward to working with the commission and commission staff to realize the goal of introducing casino gaming into Bermuda with the highest level of integrity and best practices.” Efforts were made to contact Mr Schuetz. According to commission chairman Alan Dunch, Ms Brock “resigned from the position to take up other opportunities.” The commission is tasked with establishing and developing a domestic gaming industry. The Bermuda Government has expressed hope that the first local casino would open its doors before the America’s Cup returns in 2017.

November 24. A new radio station, Inspire 105, will be launched on Monday by the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, featuring David Lopes and Kelly Zuill. Mr Lopes will broadcast from 6am to 10am on Monday through Friday, with Mr Zuill taking the airwaves from 10am to 3pm, the company announced today. The station will also continue to carry live parliamentary sessions, as well as interviews with business and political leaders and local artists and musicians. Mr Lopes will bring classic music from the 1950s through the 1970s, with a sports round-up, interviews, and a weekly call-in show with Tom Wadson’s Farm. Mr Zuill, known as “Mr Gospel” for Gospel Train Show, will continue with his brand of inspirational music. The company will announce additional changes to both radio and television in the coming months, as new technology and studios are introduced.

November 23.  Chinese investment firm Fosun International Ltd has completed the acquisition of the remaining 80 per cent equity interest in Bermuda-based insurer Ironshore. The Shanghai-based firm, headed by billionaire Guo Guangchang, bought 20 per cent of Ironshore in February this year. In May the two companies announced that Fosun would acquire all remaining Ironshore shares. In a statement released late on Sunday, Fosun said it had received approvals from all relevant regulatory authorities in the US, the UK and other jurisdictions for its acquisition of the remaining 80 per cent ownership interest in Ironshore, by way of the merger. Fosun has made clear its support for the Ironshore management team and that it views its investment in the insurer as a long-term commitment. “Ironshore is pleased to jointly announce the completion of the merger transaction with Fosun, which will enable us to continue to build upon our international specialty platform and enhance our global brand,” Kevin Kelley, chief executive officer of Ironshore, said. “Fosun’s financial strength and established investment management approach provides long-term strategic capital to bolster Ironshore’s expansion strategy and further adds to Ironshore’s uniqueness. With our new owner, Ironshore is well positioned for the future as a global insurance industry leader.” Mr Guangchang, chairman of Fosun, said: “Ironshore’s excellent team has outstanding managing and underwriting insurance capabilities which are widely recognized in the insurance industry. Ironshore has the capability to provide its clients with comprehensive and quality specialty insurance products. The successful completion of this transaction marks a historic milestone for Fosun’s investments in the specialty insurance industry as well as the American financial-service sector, which significantly boosts our insurance-oriented comprehensive financial capabilities.” Fosun has other investments in insurance companies including Yong’an P&C Insurance, Pramerica Fosun Life Insurance, Peak Reinsurance, Fidelidade Group and MIG. The investment firm intends that these companies work together where it is advantageous. “Now and in the coming year, Fosun will strengthen its integration and collaboration efforts, seeking to establish a cross-region and cross-industry global insurance and financial group,” Mr Guanchang said. “We encourage our invested companies to collaborate wherever applicable, seeking to connect them to Fosun’s resources with our global insurance and finance platforms to enhance their competitiveness in their respective industries.”

November 23. A significant court appearance starts today for the Island’s unions as their representatives contest a move from the Bermuda Government for a permanent injunction against what it calls unauthorized industrial action. The Bermuda Trade Union Congress’s case against the Government will be heard by Ian Kawaley, the Chief Justice, today through Thursday. The case follows marches held in January, when thousands of unionized workers took to the streets and waited outside the Cabinet Office after the Government demanded a swift decision on continuing furlough days for public service workers. In March, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, sought an injunction against walkouts as industrial action. While an interim injunction was granted, the request for a permanent injunction remains to be decided. In May, a Labour Disputes Tribunal agreed that a walkout had occurred but ruled that the dispute had since ended and agreed to leave the ultimate decision to the Supreme Court. While some workers wished to attend the proceedings, Mr Justice Kawaley ruled last week that only those with permission from their supervisors could attend. While it could be argued that every worker had a right to attend the hearing, the Chief Justice said that it was not necessary and that the courts had limited space to accommodate them. Executive officers from each union should attend, however. Yesterday, the Bermuda Industrial Union concurred, asking members who were scheduled to work to remain on the job. Chris Furbert, the BIU president, said the union’s members conducted themselves well, but that in the aftermath of marches in January, “we heard complaints from the public about how our members were behaving”. “This is a very serious matter — we don’t take these kinds of things lightly,” Mr Furbert added.

November 23. Bermuda’s recall of Honda vehicles with potentially faulty airbags is about one-third done, mirroring a costly procedure under way worldwide — the biggest in auto history. In the United States alone, more than 30 million vehicles have been recalled for airbags to be replaced. The inflators for the Takata brand airbags have been linked to eight deaths globally. The local dealer, Auto Solutions, has posted an extensive list of years and vehicle identification numbers (VIN) in this newspaper. Glen Smith, head of the dealership, emphasized that there had been no accidents on the Island as a result of the problem. “We put safety first at Auto Solutions,” he said. “The Transport Control Department and insurance companies have been very helpful. These [the vehicles with faulty airbags] are the ones that are outstanding.” The VIN is included in the TCD paperwork on the inside of the car windscreen. According to Honda, some 1,100 suspect vehicles were shipped to Bermuda. Mr Smith believes there are “probably no more than 800” on Bermuda’s roads, as some will have been discarded in the years since. “We have changed the airbag inflators on about 30 per cent of them, or 240 vehicles,” he said.

November 23. The CEO of insurance group Argus will speak at a major conference for Commonwealth heads of government in Malta this weekend. Alison Hill will be joined as a speaker at the conference by the Argus Group chief executive Dr Vanessa Borg, head of its Maltese arm, Argus Insurance Agencies at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM), which it expected the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will attend. Ms Hill, who will speak at CHOGM’s women’s forum, said she was “honoured” to speak at the conference and that Argus operated in three Commonwealth-linked countries, Gibraltar, as well as Bermuda and Malta. She said Argus operated in Commonwealth-linked Gibraltar and Bermuda, as well as Malta and that she was “honoured” to speak at the forum. She added: “As such we understand the market advantages of operating in jurisdictions with stable governments and progressive infrastructures. We will leverage this perspective when we speak at the various forums about leveling the ground for women in senior management positions and regarding global expansion. I’m happy to say that women are well-represented across the Argus Group in many leadership positions.” Dr Borg, who will deliver a talk in business forum, added: “Hosting CHOGM is a great opportunity for Malta and for Argus and I am honored to speak at the business forum. The meeting is a chance to showcase Malta as a strategic financial centre within the Commonwealth. I look forward to discussing how to promote economic development regionally and globally.”

November 23. The Bermuda Land Development Company wrote off around $375,000 owed to the quango in just four years, according to figures released by the Bermuda Government. The Ministry of Public Works provided the information in response to a Parliamentary question by Progressive Labour Party MP Derrick Burgess. The data details that for the year ending March 31, 2010 $187,511 was written off by the BLDC with the authorization of the BLDC CEO. The full response states: “$131,096 was written off after discussion with the tenant about the accuracy of lease charges, but there is limited information about the basis for the additional $56,415.26.” During the next year $189,348 owed to the BLDC was written off with the authorization of the former BLDC board chairman. The figure related to money owed from a former tenant who offered assets in exchange for the debt. In the past two full-year periods no income has been written off by the BLDC. Meanwhile, in the past eight years the West End Development Corporation (Wedco) has only written off funds owed it on one occasion in the year ending March 31, 2014. The $160,809 owed to Wedco was written off after consultation with the Ministry of Finance due to the liquidation of companies, people no longer living in Bermuda and debts being older than 120 days as far as seven years.

November 23. The Progressive Labour Party would make good on its vow to eliminate middle schools if returned to power, replacing them with “five-year decentralized high schools”. Some middle schools, such as the Whitney Institute and Clearwater, would become senior schools, Marc Bean, the Leader of the Opposition, told the House of Assembly in the Reply to the Throne Speech. The PLP would also implement the Caribbean Examinations Council curriculum and exams as the Island’s standard curriculum. The Bermuda College would be converted to a university college, offering designations similar to those provided by the Bermuda Insurance Institute, as well as master’s programmes in the same subjects as its bachelor programmes, with CedarBridge Academy becoming its science and technology campus.

November 23. Mark Pettingill has placed pressure on the Progressive Labour Party to formally respond to the Auditor-General’s critical report. Speaking at the House of Assembly on Friday night, the One Bermuda Alliance MP compared Heather Jacobs Matthews’s report to “a bad train wreck” and a “nonsense reality show” you couldn’t stop watching. Released this month, the document listed assorted financial failures for the years ending March 31 2010, 2011 and 2012, during which time the PLP was in power, including the awarding of multimillion dollar contracts that were not put out to tender or payment for projects that did not comply with financial instruction. “I sat fuming last Saturday morning,” said Mr Pettingill. “I spent half the day (reading it). It was like watching a bad train wreck. I couldn’t take my eyes off it — it was like one of those reality shows where you say, ‘What am I doing watching this absolute nonsense?’ but you can’t turn the channel. It’s the hypocrisy that drives me nuts. It’s the reason I’ve got no hair left. Some members on that side (of the Assembly), who were in the previous government, must know what went on.” Mr Pettingill chided Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt for his lack of a response to The Royal Gazette on the matter. “They couldn’t find him for a comment. Why not?” he said. “He could comment on everything else. You have two chickens crossing the road, that guy would be standing up talking about how much it costs the Government, but they couldn’t find him to comment on the Auditor-General’s report?” Mr Pettingill was admonished by Speaker of the House Randy Horton for his stance, as Mr Horton recognized that Mr Burt’s position as head of the Public Accounts Committee rendered him unable to respond to the findings personally. When asked about the issue yesterday, Mr Burt said: “It is not proper for me to comment on a report that has been referred to the Public Accounts Committee by the Speaker of the House. The PAC, as we have since I have been chair, will hold public hearings and will call those persons who were deemed to violate financial instructions to testify. However, the PAC can only hold hearings, we cannot discipline any public officer, as discipline is handled within the civil service.” Elsewhere, during his allotted 30-minute speech, Mr Pettingill jokingly alluded to the six references to marijuana made in Opposition Leader Marc Bean’s Throne Speech response — as the PLP revealed plans to legalize recreational as well as medicinal cannabis. “There’s so much marijuana in this Throne Speech, I think people want to roll it up and smoke it when they go home,” he said. “Conceptually, I support the idea of legalization, but let’s come to reality on how Bermuda’s going to do that. It’s not a simple issue. Unless you have a really well-researched plan, it’s just sophistry. It sounds nice and appeals to people, but it doesn’t set a blueprint for the direction we need to move in.”

November 23. The implementation of parts of a package of legal reforms has been delayed to allow the judiciary, police and prosecutors more time to prepare for the new rules. Most of the Criminal Jurisdiction and Procedure Act 2015 and the Disclosure and Criminal Reform Act 2015 came into force on November 6. But provisions in the Criminal Jurisdiction and Procedure Act replacing preliminary inquiries with an administrative sending process and application to dismiss will be implemented later this year with the full scheme becoming effective from the January arraignments. Furthermore, Attorney General Trevor Moniz revealed the new regime containing rules on prosecution and defence disclosure contained in the Disclosure and Criminal Reform Act would be implemented at the beginning of the 2016. He said: “The Bermuda Police Service and Department of Public Prosecutions requested additional time for compliance. The BPS will continue to be responsible for collecting and forwarding evidence to the DPP. However, the DPP will take all decisions in respect of disclosure under the new regime. Without the new rules on prosecution disclosure being brought into force, it would not be balanced or fair to bring the new rules of defence disclosure at this time. Therefore, the full disclosure scheme will come into force together.” Sections 18 to 21 of the Disclosure and Criminal Reform that relate to new rules on active case management and indictments, appointment and substitution of alternative jurors in complex trials as well as wasted costs orders against lawyers personally are already in force. Mr Moniz told the House of Assembly on Friday that he had also tabled amendments to the Disclosure and Criminal Reform Act 2015 that came into effect at the beginning of this month. He said: “These amendments are largely housekeeping measures aimed at cleaning up some of the language. The legislation formerly required that a defence statement be served within 28 days of arraignment. This has been changed so that service of a statement is to be made within 28 days of the prosecution complying with its disclosure obligations. This provides the defence with more time to comply, and it is a more logical sequencing of events. Another amendment was made to ensure that the court retains discretion to admit late alibi evidence where it would be contrary to a defendant’s right to a fair trial for such evidence to be excluded.”

November 23. The work of the Human Rights Commission could move ahead at three times its present speed now that it can step out from under the purview of the Bermuda Government. Michael Hanson, the HRC’s outgoing chairman who is finishing his term after three years on the job, expressed his delight at the Throne Speech announcement that the commission would get greater autonomy. “The idea of moving away from being a part of the ministry and having that independence, similar to other jurisdictions, is fantastic — everything we are doing now can be doubled or tripled,” Mr Hanson told The Royal Gazette. “The idea is great, and I hope it will be welcomed by both parties. It was the Progressive Labour Party who changed the Act and enabled commissioners to come into play. That’s allowed us to lobby the Government, and so this move is very positive.” The change, one of several moves towards better mental healthcare outlined in the Throne Speech, means the HRC is likely to relocate from its premises in the Mechanics Building on Church Street. Mr Hanson also reflected on another significant victory, as the Government pledged to include mental health under the Human Rights Act. “We’re still waiting for the actual definition they are going to use,” he said. “That’s critical. But once it’s in force and unlawful, then the stigma can be attacked, and that’s always been the main driver. It allows people to start talking about it without fear. I was very happy with the reaction or lack of a reaction. Whenever human rights are brought up in Bermuda, we tend to have a quite visceral reaction on both sides when it comes to issues like sexual orientation, race, national origin. Whenever we try to address these issues, the polarization is rapid. It has been a very difficult juggling act for this first group of commissioners. I’m very, very happy to see the Government addressing mental health. But I would say that it’s step one in a process.” However, some Bermudians have questioned whether human rights laws will be used to curtail freedom of speech. Amendments proposed in the Throne Speech include outlawing discrimination expressed online, and broadening the law against publication of “racist material and racial incitement” to include “recorded telephone discussions, internet, e-mails recorded in print or recorded on the internet, radio, television or any other electronic medium of communication”. During Friday’s debate in the House of Assembly, Opposition MP Rolfe Commissiong expressed concern over the possible implications for free speech. “We are on the watch here,” he told Parliament. “We are on guard.” Members of the HRC appeared on a local radio talk show and fielded questions from listeners concerned that there were designs at play to restrict public discourse. “It was interesting that what came up on the Sherri J show was the right to freedom of speech,” Mr Hanson said. “There was some misunderstanding. This is not about stopping freedom of speech, which is a cornerstone of human rights. It’s about protecting people from discrimination and harassment.” Three years after Mr Hanson took the helm, the HRC has forged ahead as a quasi-judicial organization with the power to call tribunals and hear complaints. A law passed in October 2012 under the PLP government allowed for an independent select committee to interview and appoint human rights commissioners able to adjudicate. There are nine written judgments at present waiting to go up on the HRC’s new website, so that the public will be able to see how the commissioners have reasoned their decisions under the law. Mr Hanson came into the job hoping to outlaw “discrimination by association”, by which an individual could be targeted for links to another person or group. At the time, Mr Hanson pulled no punches on the Island’s comparatively complacent attitude toward human rights, telling The Royal Gazette that a modern and sophisticated small jurisdiction ought to stand ahead of the curve. “Bermuda should be at the forefront of human rights development,” he told this newspaper in April 2013. “In reality, we fall short.” Discrimination by association “still causes a lot of strife” and remains to be tackled, Mr Hanson said. The Throne Speech, read by the Governor, George Fergusson, also included pledges to push towards establishing a mental health court and identify a forensic psychiatric unit.

November 23. A legal initiative is set to “remove some of the poison in family breakdowns”, according to the Governor, George Fergusson. Yesterday morning, the Integrated Family Court began its accredited family law mediation training in Hamilton’s Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building. During the five-day course, mediators representing various professions from law enforcement to social services will be taught “alternative dispute resolution” by visiting experts from Canada, including conflict analysis and the psychological effects of separation and child support. The initiative encourages warring families to settle their differences constructively and respectfully, thereby improving relations, promoting compliance and saving public resources. “The mediation approach can provide a soft landing when, sadly, as it so often does, the parental unit breaks down,” Mr Fergusson said. While optimistic, Puisne Judge Norma Wade-Miller claimed a daunting challenge lay in changing “centuries of ingrained attitudes about how we tackle family disputes in Bermuda”. She said: “Old attitudes and laws, together with an adversarial system, have helped encourage an unconstructive approach to family disputes. There are cases where a father declares he will do everything he can to avoid paying child support, and cases where a mother declares she will take the father for everything he has.” Mrs Wade-Miller insisted that it was essential to quash notions of guilt, innocence, winners and losers in family fallouts. “Everyone loses when we favour other priorities and do not intend to salvage what we can of broken relationships,” she added. Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe called the implementation of the programme “a new day”, while Chief Justice Ian Kawaley said that he hoped mediation would become a “restorative tool which promotes healing rather than fracturing.” Lisa Emms-Wice, from the Ontario Association for Family Mediators, is one of three Canadian mediators helping to launch the initiative in Bermuda. “We’re very clear at telling aggrieved parties that there is nothing wrong with a position or an opinion,” she told The Royal Gazette. “But how can we get them to understand each others’ positions and opinions, and how far apart are they? Often the most minor thing can cause such controversy; it’s about how we can settle that little piece.” Sheelagh Cooper, founder and chairwoman of the Coalition for the Protection of Children, called the launch of family law mediation training “a tremendous breakthrough” for Bermuda. “We’ve been the sole provider of mediation services for 15 years,” she said. “This has institutionalized the process. I’m very happy because it makes such a difference to the lives of the children whose parents are in dispute.”

November 23. A firm with two Bermudian founders is set to propose a multibillion-dollar infrastructure plan to the Government. Urban Maximum Industries, Inc (UMI), founded by Craig Looby and Arthur Brangman, wants to build a new Causeway and bridge in an initial project. The company has secured the backing of International Asean Corp (IAC), which says it can provide as much as $5 billion for Bermuda projects from its ultra-wealthy investors, who are based in South-East Asia and the Middle East. Peter Yeung, the Toronto-based managing partner of IAC, told The Royal Gazette that the company would be “making every effort to make the connections” to enable their vision to become reality. “Our investors prefer to remain anonymous and we are quite picky about what we choose to invest in,” he added. IAC has worked on public and private-sector projects in the Bahamas, St Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, the United States, Canada, Vietnam, Cambodia and Saudi Arabia, Mr Yeung said. The projects it has backed include hospitals, hotels and residential housing developments, according to IAC’s website. In a statement, UMI said its methods for funding public-sector projects would mean the Government would not have “to put up any significant cash”, would keep control over any government-sponsored projects and added there would be “no loss of revenue to the Government.” Asked how the funding would work for the Causeway proposal, for example, neither Mr Yeung nor Mr Brangman wanted to give much away, although Mr Yeung emphasized that it would be wrong to describe the deal as a loan. “Our investors are not looking at a dollar-value return on their investments,” Mr Yeung said. “Their mandate is to seek projects that are worthwhile to the citizenry; there is a humanitarian aspect to it.” He gave the example of IAC’s Saudi Arabia project. “We are working with one of the Saudi princes in projects of between five and 15 years to build residential housing in the suburbs of Jeddah,” he said. “This will benefit the community there, as well as having a business benefit.” Mr Brangman, who is based in Altamonte Springs, Florida, and who is the president of Global Service Brokerage Group, which helps to fund business and real estate deals, said the UMI projects would include “very long-term repayment plans so it’s beneficial for everyone”. Mr Brangman added: “We have set up a system by which investors will be well taken care of without the Government spending a whole lot of money.” He declined to give more specific details. Mr Yeung added that private-sector developments on the Island were also being considered, but funding for those projects would be offered on a more conventional basis than the deals for the public-sector projects. In a statement to be released generally today, UMI states: “UMI is very pleased to announce that they have officially secured a funding programme for a diverse infrastructure and development programme called the UMI Bermuda Master Development Plan. The investment group has earmarked a $5 billion development-funding programme for use in UMI’s various deployment proposals.” The programme would support the Government’s commitment to large-scale employment, set up a development fund to back government capital projects and construct a new Causeway and bridge, the statement added. UMI has written to the Government to request a meeting with officials next month. Their aim will be to agree a memorandum of understanding to start a long-term relationship with the Island to deliver infrastructure projects in phases. UMI said it will make public its master development plan when it is complete. “We are asking the Government to be a partner,” Mr Looby said. “We are not asking them for money.”

November 23. An animal advocacy group is disappointed that it has received no response from the government-appointed Canine Advisory Committee on the future of pit bulls in Bermuda. Punish the Deed not the Breed Bermuda has been petitioning Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, Seniors and Environment, to move pit bull-type dogs off the prohibited list and on to the restricted list instead. In May, Ms Atherden appointed the Canine Advisory Committee “whose remit includes recommendations to the minister on issues including restricted breeds of dog and any relevant considerations regarding existing bans”. A spokeswoman for Punish the Deed not the Breed said: “To date, we have not received a response. We feel that 90 days is ample time for the committee to review the letter that included our intentions and educational information on bull terriers specifically. We are disappointed by the government-appointed committee’s lack of response but not discouraged in our solid commitment to bring about positive change in Bermuda.” According to a government spokesman, Ms Atherden “has reviewed the interim report by the Canine Advisory Committee and is awaiting further documentation to determine next steps.” Punish the Deed not the Breed presented the committee with a letter, breed information and relevant legislation amendments on August 20 “in an effort to provide information and initiate healthy dialogue regarding the killing of banned breeds and the need for humane legislation in Bermuda”. The group’s spokeswoman added: “We will continue to make contact with the canine committee and will remain steadfast in our efforts to grow support both locally and overseas to create legislation that holds pet owners responsible instead of unfairly executing that punishment on innocent animals.”

November 21. A memo released by the Ministry of Finance shows that Accountant-General Curtis Stovell approved the Bermuda Government to waive financial instructions on its early deals for an airport redevelopment. However, Shadow Finance Minister David Burt, who heads the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) now examining the airport project, insisted that the present airport development agreement never had Mr Stovell’s permission to go ahead as a sole sourced arrangement. “It does not matter what the minister says — financial instructions are there to be followed and the person there to ensure that is the Accountant-General,” Mr Burt said. He was referring to the release on Thursday night by Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, of the September 2014 memo from Mr Stovell to Anthony Manders, the Financial Secretary, covering the memorandum of understanding and letter of agreement for the project. “He made it clear that this only covers the first stage, and that any additional agreements have to be ratified by him,” Mr Burt said. “Neither the Minister of Finance nor his Cabinet has the power to deviate from financial instructions. If he wants to deviate from them, he has to change them. He does not have the power to ignore them.” The communication was released after Mr Stovell’s appearance before the PAC on Thursday, in which he said he had not been asked or had granted permission for the bypassing of instructions on the airport development agreement.

November 21. A retroactive regime promising zero tolerance for corruption and graft would be a top priority by a Progressive Labour Party Government. Delivering his party’s “peace and prosperity agenda” in response to the Government’s Throne Speech, Marc Bean said the PLP would immediately enact the Good Governance Act, brought to Parliament in 2012 by PLP Premier Paula Cox. Saying his party welcomed the latest Auditor-General’s report, the Opposition Leader said his side looked forward to seeing reports on the One Bermuda Alliance’s time in office. Governance legislation would be “retroactive for all activity” under the former United Bermuda Party, PLP and OBA governments, Mr Bean told the House of Assembly. “Members of the public should take note that while I, as the leader of your future government, can boldly state this anti-corruption position with clean hands and a pure heart, neither the Premier nor any of his colleagues can state the same,” Mr Bean added, charging that the OBA was undermined by the presence in Cabinet of a former Premier who “had to belatedly resign in disgrace” over governance. He accused the OBA Government of pursuing a monopolistic, oligarchical “race-based political strategy” that neglected Bermudians, and said the PLP would “double down” on education and workforce development. Bermuda remains in recession, Mr Bean told MPs, giving what he called a classically liberal plan for a diversified economy following on the Vision 2025 plan from February’s Budget Reply. He called for a technology incubator to be developed at Southside, and a wholesale reform of education and training, with STEM training from the primary level through to a proposed university college. A PLP administration would transform the Island into a finance and technology or “fintech” jurisdiction, as well as developing the Blue Economy initiative. Economic diversification was high on the list, with an emphasis on new technologies and services. Recreational cannabis is also proposed as a means of generating a new market, along with online gaming. Entertainment businesses would be boosted with establishments allowed to operate until 6am. The 60-40 rule would be dropped from the retail sector, “thus permitting the introduction of non-food international franchises.” A PLP Government would balance the budget in five years, he said, freezing government spending at 2013 levels for three years. Meanwhile, the OBA’s airport development would be halted, creating jobs through a renovation of the existing terminal. Broad tax reforms were proposed: cutting payroll tax, and pegging social insurance payments to earnings. Additionally, an overhaul of the National Pension would make it cheaper to hire Bermudians. On tourism, Mr Bean said the Bermuda Tourism Authority would lose its independence, becoming “directly responsible to the minister.” Mr Bean characterized the reply as a blueprint of policy and legislative steps to pursue over a five-year period under a PLP government. “These ideals reflect our party’s proud legacy in its unwavering commitment to social and economic justice. But they also reflect our progressive tradition of reinterpreting those values and ideals in light of changing circumstances, in order to better serve the interests of our people and this great country.”

November 21. Developers could be hit with civil penalties under a raft of new robust measures aimed at tackling those that flout planning rules. The policy was first announced in last week’s Throne Speech and will see the Director of Planning given powers to issue enforcement notices. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Home Affairs told The Royal Gazette that the present system for enforcement of breaches of planning control or unauthorized development was “not as effective or expeditious as it could be. Consequently, a ‘build it now, sort it out later’ attitude prevails on the part of some landowners and contractors,” the spokeswoman said. “An overhauled enforcement regime would empower the Director of Planning to issue enforcement notices and impose civil penalties. Civil penalties could be imposed, for example, for development undertaken without planning permission, development that is not in accordance with the approved plans or which is contrary to a condition of the planning permission, and development that damages or destroys a designated protection area.” Stuart Hayward, chairman of the Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce, welcomed the move by Government. “BEST is pleased that there will be a more workable mechanism put in place to address Planning infractions,” he said. “Our wish is not to depend on a punitive approach but to inspire understanding of the need for policies and encourage voluntary adherence to the rules and, if possible, head-off intentional breaching of the regulations.” The Ministry spokeswoman also told The Royal Gazette that the Government would look to address an “anomaly” in the planning process. She said: “In reviewing the current enforcement provisions, the Government seeks to resolve an anomaly whereby a planning search used by prospective purchasers of land to ascertain whether there is any unauthorized development on a property, brings to light unauthorized development that is too old for enforcement action to be taken. In those situations, although enforcement action cannot be taken, neither can the breach of planning control become authorized. A new mechanism is needed to regularize these time-expired development cases. The aim is to lay out the enforcement provisions in a manner that is more easily understood and to beef up the enforcement tools at the Director’s disposal.”

November 21. Bermuda’s humble sargassum fish is to be thrust into the limelight as the star of a sequence in The Blue Planet series narrated by David Attenborough. The British Broadcasting Corporation sent three members of crew to the Island in 2013 when they spent one month filming the thumb-sized predators using filming technology so advanced it was not even available on the commercial market at the time. Producer Hugh Pearson, director of photography Doug Anderson and digital technician John Chambers, veterans of the Africa and Frozen series, accompanied a crew of Bermudians during their visit including LookBermuda’s Jean-Pierre Rouja who led the expedition as on-Island producer and “fish wrangler.” Bermudians Harold Conyers, Chris Burville and Peter Flook were part of the operation acting as skippers and crew. The footage will form a sequence in The Blue Planet sub-series titled The Hunt which Mr Rouja said includes “lions in Africa, dangerous spiders and our mighty sargassum fish. Pound for pound the sargassum fish is an absolutely incredible predator it will swallow creatures larger than itself and it has a voracious appetite. It is like a combination between a pit bull and an anaconda. It is under two inches long but they will eat anything including each other.” Speaking of the high-tech equipment used to film the sequence, Mr Rouja added: “What is really great about BBC’s natural history coverage is that they are one of the last true production companies putting the time and budgets in to this type of project. They showed up with probably a million dollars worth of gear and their goal was to produce three to five minutes of footage. That is typical for the whole series. The series take three to five years to make and they have multiple crews going around the world so when you see a five-minute sequence, at least a month’s worth of work has gone into it. This was two years ago and they were shooting 4k raw underwater which was unheard of at the time — the brand new Sony cameras had not even been released yet. The big deal is the time and effort they put into securing this footage — it is unparalleled.” The episode is due to air tomorrow on BBC1 and it will soon become available online through BBC iPlayer. Links will also be uploaded to

November 21. Chequemate remained on course for a clean sweep of honours on the penultimate day of the 2015 Bacardi Keelboat Regatta in the Great Sound yesterday. After eight races Chequemate leads the overall, Bermuda and International fleets in the J-105 XL Catlin Series. Chequemate has simply dominated, winning all but two of the eight races sailed so far and finishing now lower than third. Topping the leader board in the International One Design fleet after seven races and one throw out is Blythe Walker with six points. In second with 13 points is Patrick Cooper followed by Philip Crain in third a further six points adrift. Somers Kempe, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore, leads the Viper 640 fleet after four races with six points. Breathing down Kempe’s neck in second is Rockal Evans with ten points. “This is my first time skippering a Viper in Bermuda Race Week,” Evans said. “I have had some pretty good results for my first time and I am very pleased. It was very tricky conditions but we managed well. Tomorrow [today] is the last day and we are still in contention and also having fun.” Presently third in the Viper 640 fleet is overseas skipper Justin Scott with eleven points.

November 20. Bermuda should be treated as a jurisdiction that already has equivalence with the EU’s new insurance regulatory framework, Solvency II, according to a top official of the European Commission (EC). The comments of Olivier Guersent clearly indicate the EC’s support for the Island’s bid for “third-country equivalence.” When the EC gives the thumbs-up officially, it will table draft legislation in the European Parliament, after which member states will get up to three months to give their input. Only then can Bermuda’s equivalent status be complete. Mr Guersent, the director-general for financial stability, financial services and capital markets union said that the Commission is in the process of adopting two equivalence decisions, concerning Bermuda and Japan. Speaking at a conference in Frankfurt, organized by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, Mr Guersent urged national supervisors to ignore the final steps of the legislative process, according to a report by the online trade publication Insurance ERM. “I don’t think that national supervisors should actively treat non-EU countries as non-equivalent in the meantime if there is a positive Commission equivalence decision pending in EP and Council scrutiny. They should exercise forbearance in this respect. In the Commission’s view, they should take into account the still-draft equivalence decision, otherwise they might take actions that could have to be reversed shortly afterwards.” Switzerland was the first country to earn third-country equivalence with the new regulations which will bolster capital requirements and standards of corporate governance for insurers doing business in the European Union. The Bermuda Monetary Authority, Bermuda’s financial regulator, has applied for equivalence in a multiyear effort — supported by the industry — that will help to ensure Bermuda-based firms are not disadvantaged when writing business in Europe.

November 20. A significant sovereign investment entity, which represents core stakeholders with a combined net worth of more than $100 billion, has strengthened its ties with Bermuda. The presence and activities of Scepter Partners are expected to put Bermuda “further on the map of sovereign investment capital flows”, according to the asset management firm. In coming months, Scepter intends to announce a series of offshore vehicles for direct investment into off-market transactions in the natural resources and hospitality industries. The direct investment and merchant banking specialist for sovereign wealth represents more than $14 billion of discretionary assets. It is led by the former Blackstone Advisory Partners Asia team, and its core stakeholders include senior members of Asian and Gulf-based high net worth families. The firm has offices in New York, London and Beijing. It is strengthening its links with Bermuda, having committed to running its global management business from the Island. Founded in 2014, Scepter has its headquarters in Century House, on Par-la-Ville Road. A number of its executives have longstanding ties with Bermuda, including chairman and chief executive officer Rayo Withanage, who attended Saltus Grammar School after his family moved to the Island in 1980. Commenting on the commitment to Bermuda, Mr Withanage said: “As Bermuda continues to develop its activities and effectively compete with other offshore financial centres, we hope that the presence of our activities can substantially enhance Bermuda’s role in the deployment of capital by significant sovereign investors and family offices.” When Mr Withanage left Bermuda he moved to New Zealand, where he attended law school. He then relocated to Brunei and founded a commercial multi-family office with senior members of the nation’s royal family. Euromoney magazine has previously named Mr Withanage as one of the most influential financiers in the Middle East and Asia. Other Scepter personnel with links to Bermuda include the group’s head of operations, Daniel Fenster. He lived in Bermuda during the late 1990s when he worked for Alpha Fund Management. And the group’s general counsel is Stefan Nadarajah, the only son of Bala Nadarajah. The late Mr Nadarajah was a prominent insurance sector lawyer and is credited with laying the groundwork for Bermuda’s rise as a leading global reinsurance centre. He died in 2013, but for 30 years was involved in all legislation and regulation that shaped the insurance and reinsurance sector in Bermuda. Two members of Brunei’s ruling family, Prince Abdul Ali Yil Kabier and Prince Bahar Bolkiah, are directors of Scepter. The other directors are Sir John Bond, the former HSBC Group chief executive and chairman, Patrick Theros, the former US ambassador to Qatar, and Sheikh Juma al Maktoum, a prominent businessman from the United Arab Emirates. Earlier this year Bermuda-headquartered BMB, an entity that provides capital and advice to Forbes 500 families, spun out its family office assets into Scepter. According to the firm this was “driven by the interests of investors to convert from a family office mandate to a merchant bank and direct investment syndicate”. BMB has been described as the first commercial multi-family office of ruling families to unify investors from the Middle East and Asia who traditionally had been competitors. It was originally founded in 2004 by Prince Abdul Ali Yil Kabier and Mr Withanage. Scepter presents itself as “a standing capital syndicate of ultra-high net worth individuals and sovereign investors who have combined to invest in off-market large cap transactions globally”. At its core is a merchant banking business run by the former Blackstone Advisory Partners Asia team that executed more than $500 billion in transactions, focused on mining, natural resources and infrastructure. Some of the transactions executed by the team now at Scepter have included the $20 billion restructuring of Seoul Bank, the $8 billion PetroChina West-East Pipeline Project, and the $14.1 billion acquisition of 12 per cent of Rio Tinto by Chinalco.

November 20. The cost of policing the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Bermuda was more than $100,000. Scores of police and reserve officers from a variety of departments worked a total of 2,522 hours for the spectacle that attracted thousands to Front Street. The breakdown of cost and hours worked was provided to the House of Assembly by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, and Minister of National Security, in response to a question by Walter Roban, the Shadow Minister of National Security. The data revealed that 14 reserve police officers were on duty for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, while an extra constable was on duty in the Emergency Control Room on the same days during village opening hours. A dozen police constables from the Roads Policing Unit were on duty each day as well as a sergeant. The marine unit of three inspectors, three sergeants and 11 constables was supported by four armed police and four divers, including one from the Royal Bermuda Regiment. The cost of the entire police operation was $108,250.

November 20. Oracle Team USA’s involvement in this month’s Flying Phantom Series finale now hangs in the balance. Oracle were among two America’s Cup teams due to appear in the regatta to be held in the Great Sound from November 29 to December 2. However, it is now doubtful that Oracle, the defender of the America’s Cup, will go ahead with their plans to compete, meaning Artemis Racing, the Swedish challenger, could potentially be the sole America’s Cup team among the field. “Team participation in the Phantom regatta is unlikely now,” Peter Rusch, the team spokesman, said. “Their training schedule makes it difficult to do both Phantoms and Moth, and they are going to participate in the Moth event.” A vision shared by Tom Slingsby and Philippe Presti, from Oracle, for Bermuda to host a regatta showcasing the high-performance catamaran, became reality when it was announced that the Flying Phantom Series finale would be held here. The fleet racing spectacle will feature more than 15 of the one design catamarans, with boats from Europe, the United States and Canada. The foiling multihulls will race against each other on a course specially prepared by David Campbell-James, the regatta director, and father of Land Rover BAR tactician Paul Campbell-James, who also officiated in last month’s Argo Group Gold Cup. The Bermuda event is based on an original idea from Slingsby, Oracle Team USA’s team manager, and Presti, Oracle Team USA’s coach, who both have first-hand experience sailing Oracle’s training fleet of Flying Phantoms, which are based at the team’s headquarters in Dockyard. As well as being heavily involved in the team’s two-boat test programme in the AC45 test boats, Slingsby and Oracle team-mates Jimmy Spithill and Kyle Langford are preparing for next month’s Moth regatta which has attracted a fleet of 60 sailors from 11 countries. Last weekend Oracle staged a mini Moth regatta with Langford, Rome Kirby and Presti occupying the top three spots. The Moth has gained popularity with America’s Cup sailors because it hydrofoils, similar to the catamarans used in America’s Cup racing. More than 20 America’s Cup sailors have registered for next month’s Moth regatta, among them Nathan Outteridge, a two-time Moth world champion, and his Artemis Racing team-mate, Iain Jensen. The regatta runs from December 5 to 11, with two races per day.

November 20. From the power of collaboration to a story about the British military firing on the first America’s Cup boat to be sighted off the coast of Bermuda, there was plenty of variety at the Association of Bermuda International Companies’ (ABIC) annual meeting. Collaboration was the recurring theme at the gathering of the business leaders, who were joined by guest speaker Sam Hollis, chief operating officer for the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). Patrick Tannock, ABIC chairman, called for continued collaboration between the Bermuda Government, ABIC members, unions and community stakeholders to ensure Bermuda remains a leader in international business. “These are tough times and we are all expected to do more with less. In addition to experiencing social and economic challenges, increased scrutiny and intense competition from other jurisdictions, Bermuda is facing unprecedented change and we are in unchartered territory. We need to ensure that Bermuda remains user-friendly, friction-free and solution-orientated. Our attitude and behaviors will set us apart from our competitors. That is why it is critical that everyone in Bermuda fully understands the value of international business to the Island’s economy and the responsibility that each of us have for ensuring that we maintain that value. We cannot afford to be polarized on this issue.” ABIC has been involved in a number of initiatives this year aimed at spreading a greater understanding of the importance of international business (IB) to the Island’s economy. “It must be clear that international business is not the bad guy or the spoiled one that gets everything it wants,” he said. “In order to remain competitive, Bermuda must provide an environment in which international business gets what it needs to thrive. Likewise, we in international business must be respectful of Bermuda’s culture as well as the aspirations and values of the Bermuda people. We’re all in this together.” The organization, which represents more than 100 international companies incorporated in Bermuda, has been holding meetings with unions, public schools, political parties and other stakeholders as part of its communications drive. In partnership with the Bermuda Business Development Agency, it has been promoting an expanded, multimedia campaign known as #everybody's business, which shows how IB positively affects everyone on the Island, fuels growth and job creation, and how everyone can play a part in helping IB continue to flourish. The campaign has included ten one-hour radio show slots, media advertising and informative videos being shown online and at a number of locations around the Island. ABIC has met with guidance counselors and curriculum officers at public senior schools to develop the economics curriculum, with a particular aim of helping students to understand the Island’s economy, the value of IB and the challenges and the opportunities within the sector. Mr Tannock, who was appointed chairman at the start of the year, said ABIC intends to build on its efforts during 2016. Following Mr Tannock’s address to the meeting, a video featuring of the drama of the America’s Cup 2013 in San Francisco, when Oracle Team USA came from 8-1 down to beat Emirates Team New Zealand 9-8, was presented by guest speaker Mr Hollis. He has been involved in the sporting challenge since 2010, and gave an insight into how collaboration between Jimmy Spithill and Sir Ben Ainslie, arguably the two greatest sailors in the event today, was at the heart of the dramatic reversal of fortune that led to Oracle winning in 2013. With Mr Spithill now leading Oracle in pursuit of the 2017 title, and his former team-mate Mr Ainslie skippering Britain’s Land Rover BAR team, Mr Hollis said: “It is going to be fascinating to see who comes out on top over the next two years.” As a lighthearted aside, Mr Hollis told the story of the Shamrock IV, the first America’s Cup boat to visit Bermuda. It was built in England to challenge the US title defender Resolute. The Shamrock was sailing to Rhode Island when the First World War was declared. The yacht was instructed to head to the nearest British port, but its arrival days later near Bermuda had not been anticipated. Channel navigation lights around the Island had been extinguished because of the outbreak of war, and when the boat was sighted offshore the British military at Dockyard opened fire, Mr Hollis told the audience. Fortunately, the yacht was not hit and at a later date it sailed onwards to Rhode Island. In the delayed America’s Cup competition, which took place in 1920, the Shamrock lost to the US team. “So the first America’s Cup boat in Bermuda was fired upon by the military,” said Mr Hollis. However, despite such an inauspicious start to Bermuda’s association with the America’s Cup more than 100 years ago, he said members of Oracle Team USA and their families were today “happy to be living in Bermuda.” The success of last month’s Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Bermuda event had confirmed the ACEA had made the right choice in picking Bermuda as the venue for the 2017 finals, he said. “We have never seen an atmosphere like it at any of the other events. The Friday night opening was a delight and Larry loved it,” he said, referring to Larry Ellison, owner of Oracle Team USA and the world’s fifth wealthiest man as measured by Forbes magazine. He added: “And the other teams are ecstatic to be here.”

November 20. The Bermuda CPCU Society Chapter last night held a conferment ceremony for new designees. The group is made up of insurance and reinsurance industry professionals who have all obtained, or are on the path to obtaining, the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter professional designation. The event took place at Ace Bermuda’s offices on Woodbourne Road.

November 20. Marijuana, heroin and cocaine remain the most commonly used illegal drugs in Bermuda, according to the annual report from the Bermuda Drug Information Network. The study by the Department of National Drug Control, released today, provides analysis of trends in drug use in 2013 and 2014 According to a press release from the Ministry of National Security, it presents national data on the nature and magnitude of use and misuse of legal and illegal substances in Bermuda and represents the work of a broad spectrum of agencies and departments engaged in drug prevention, intervention, treatment, counseling, rehabilitation, enforcement, interdiction, and health. The release states: “Drug use is a difficult and complex phenomenon to monitor. This report serves the purpose of providing a comprehensive overview of the current drug situation in Bermuda using multiple sources and indicators, with the intent of providing insight into the different aspects of the drug problem.” The report monitors and accounts for local drug-related information from about 30 data providers, covering some 45 drug control areas, and providing measures for more than 150 indicators. Since last year, it has expanded to include four new measures and one new survey. Drug use prevalence has remained constant among Bermuda’s residents over the past ten years, with alcohol, tobacco and marijuana the most commonly used substances among the general adult population and youths, while the heroin and cocaine remain drugs of choice for problem drug users. Since 2014, drug-related crime has declined and there were no cases where drug use contributed to the underlying cause of death. Michael Dunkley, the Premier and Minister of National Security, stated: “The Government is committed to a healthier and safer Bermuda and an interconnected balancing of drug control efforts in both supply and demand reduction. Drugs continue to jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of people throughout the world; and Bermuda is no exception, as substance abuse continues to negatively impact our island extensively. Drug use prevention cannot occur unless there is change in our social attitudes toward alcohol and drug misuse.” The report can be found at

November 20. Bermuda Hospitals Board will not strip medical negligence victim Kamal Williams of his $60,000 compensation, even if it wins a case against him at the Island’s highest court of appeal. The BHB’s lawyer, Caroline Harrison QC, delivered that assurance to Mr Williams yesterday at the Privy Council in London. However, she stopped short of pledging that the board would also foot Mr Williams’s estimated $300,000 legal bill, regardless of the outcome of the appeal. Ms Harrison said arguments over that should wait until the BHB found out if it had won. Mr Williams spent an agonizing 12 hours waiting for surgery at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital on May 30, 2011, after being taken ill with appendicitis. He alleges that because his surgery was delayed, due to a string of problems at the hospital, his appendix ruptured, spreading toxins through his body and triggering a heart attack and breathing difficulties. He spent a week in the intensive care unit on a life-support machine, and a further week recovering on a ward. Mr Williams sued the hospital, and Supreme Court judge Stephen Hellman awarded him $2,000 in compensation for the pain and suffering endured during the unnecessarily long wait for surgery. The judge declined to award damages for the life-threatening complications Mr Williams suffered during and after that surgery. But when the case went to the Court of Appeal, its judges decided that he should have been compensated for that too. Mr Justice Hellman then increased the damages by $58,000, bringing the total to $60,000. But Ms Harrison has argued that the Court of Appeal made an error in law, and Mr Williams should only have been allowed the original $2,000, as it could not be proved that the delays caused the serious complications. The BHB, which receives close to $150 million from the public purse annually, says the Court of Appeal ruling could set a dangerous and expensive precedent if allowed to stand. Britain’s publicly funded National Health Service has written to the Privy Council judges urging them to heed that concern, as the case could have ramifications for it, too. Yesterday, Ms Harrison stressed that the London appeal was about clarifying the law, not stripping Mr Williams of his compensation. “As far as we’re concerned, he’s had his damages, which we understand he’s given to charity,” said Ms Harrison, praising Mr Williams for that kind-hearted act. “The hospital has already indicated that we do not seek to recoup those from him.” The five judges of the Privy Council will deliver their decision later — probably not for several months. After the hearing, Mr Williams, from Southampton, said: “I am relieved to hear I will be able to keep the compensation. It’s a small token, I guess, of appreciation of what I have been through. But the legal costs are much higher than the damages, and they have not decided what’s going to happen with that. That does trouble me.” Mr Williams, who works as a risk analyst, is married and has children between the ages of 4 and 9. He has been making payments to his lawyers each month with whatever money he has left after paying his rent. He said this amounted to “tens of thousands” of dollars so far in a case that had been “financially and mentally stressful. When the decision comes it will hopefully be in my favour and I will be able to get back to the mental state I was in before all this happened,” he said.

November 20. Employers owe Government more than $100 million in social insurance and payroll tax contributions, it was revealed in the House of Assembly yesterday. The startling statistic came in response to a Parliamentary question to Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, by Progressive Labour Party MP Derrick Burgess. At the end of September this year 2,928 employers were 60 days or more in arrears in their social insurance contributions to the tune of $46.1 million. Furthermore 181 of those employers had balances of more than $50,000. Meanwhile 2,788 employers are 60 days or more in arrears on their payroll taxes totaling just over $56 million. A total of 221 employers have balances of more than $50,000. Mr Burgess told The Royal Gazette that the statistics showed there was an urgent need for stiffer penalties for those who defaulted on their payments. He said: “We need new legislation to ensure that employers pass on these payments to the appropriate department. The penalties for those who default need to be harsher and stronger than the slap on the wrist there is at the moment. We are borrowing money and paying huge amounts of interest on it — here is over $100 million that could be used in cash flow and has already been taken out of people’s wages. We have to be very strict in this area, and not let people get away with it by simply saying they are bankrupt. The figures are not a huge surprise to me because we have long known what a huge problem it is, but we have to address it in the form of legislation. When it comes to people’s benefits we should not be messing about.” Mr Richards acknowledged that outstanding social insurance and payroll tax contributions was a long-standing problem, but maintained that Government was trying to tackle the problem. He said: “We are putting four more people on this problem to address it. The purpose of increasing the staff is obviously to try and make sure we get on top of this issue which has been a long-standing problem for many governments. This is a problem that we are well aware of and are trying to tackle, especially in terms of social insurance.”

November 20. The Government of Bermuda is confident that there is still an opportunity for two airlines to succeed in providing service to the Island out of Europe. Shawn Crockwell, the Minister for Tourism Development and Transport, provided the House of Assembly with an update on his recent trip to the World Routes Conference in South Africa. He said: “We met with several European airlines to discuss potential service to and from the United Kingdom and Europe and were pleasantly encouraged by their level of interest in Bermuda.”

November 20. Healthcare reforms proposed by the Opposition include opening the Island’s market to international insurers to drive down costs through competition. The Progressive Labour Party’s Reply to the Throne Speech proposes removing the Bermuda Health Council, and banning the importation of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. According to Marc Bean, the PLP would bring in “an integrative system that combines the best of allopathic and naturopathic medicine”. Naturopathic treatments would include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, physical therapies and counseling, Mr Bean, the party leader, told MPs. “We will also promote the distribution and use of CBD oil, a powerful healing extract derived from the cannabis plant,” Mr Bean said. "More senior facilities would be created through a combined effort of the private sector and government. There would also be a Charter of Rights to protect seniors from all forms of abuse. Another step the PLP government will take is to provide seniors with an independent living subsidy to support families who prefer their seniors to stay and be cared for at home,” Mr Bean said. During the subsequent debate, Opposition MP Kim Wilson stressed that a PLP government would emphasize “educating as opposed to medicating”, with firm health education from preschool. An alternative therapies, Ms Wilson said such treatments were widely accepted and “one of the fastest-growing segments in the healthcare industry”, as an alternative to conventional medicine or in tandem with it. She recalled her own successful treatment of sciatic pain through acupuncture. “Complementary and alternative therapies do have a place in our modern society, and I’m pleased that the PLP as a government would provide for a mandatory requirement that health insurers extend coverage to cover established complementary and alternative medical services,” Ms Wilson added. She also called for a ban on GMOs, indicating their links to sterility and cancer.

November 20. The Bermuda Government and its own Accountant-General clashed last night over permission to depart from financial instructions in a bid to redevelop the Island’s airport. Curtis Stovell, the Accountant-General, told a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee yesterday that he had not been asked for approval for the contract to be granted to the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC). But finance minister Bob Richards later released the memorandum from 2014 in which Mr Stovell gave permission to waive financial instruction conditions. Mr Richards said: “The Accountant-General determined the applicability of procurement rules in financial instructions with regard to the proposed relationship between the CCC and Government and, after reviewing all relevant documentation and considering all circumstances, gave his permission to proceed with the project using the government to government approach.” Mr Stovell last night refused to discuss the disparity between his evidence yesterday and his 2014 memo. He referred requests for comment to the Department of Communications and Information. The memo from Mr Stovell, dated from September last year, said: “Under ideal circumstances a competitive tender process is always preferable." But it added that he “gave permission to waive the requirement for three quotations for the services to be provided under the letter agreement.” His memo to Anthony Manders, the financial secretary, added: “My permission is provided on the condition that when available, further information can be provided on CCC’s fees, even at a high level, to enable an evaluation of value for money for the services.” The airport proposal came under the renewed scrutiny of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday, which is composed primarily of Members of Parliament. Asked by David Burt, the PAC chairman, whether he had received a request for bypassing financial instructions on the agreement, or had given approval, Mr Stovell said: “No for both.” Mr Stovell described the initial agreement with Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) as “an agreement to enter an agreement.” While nothing has been spent so far on CCC, a cost centre has since been established with some expenditure on the law firm Bennett Jones and CIBC World Markets. “There is another agreement now where the Government is on the hook,” Mr Burt continued. “Is this not something you would have been required to get permission for?” “In my opinion, yes,” Mr Stovell said, adding that he had not been consulted. Asked by Progressive Labour Party MP Lovitta Foggo if he could tell the PAC that the “contract at present will have the people’s interests at heart”, Mr Stovell replied: “I don’t know that I am prepared to answer that.” The Accountant-General said he had been presented with no case for bypassing the rules, and thus could not give a satisfactory reply. However, questioned by One Bermuda Alliance MP Cole Simons, Mr Stovell conceded that such contracts did proceed on occasion in the Government. Neither he nor Graham Simmons, the interim director of the Office of Project Management and Procurement, would give an assessment of the worthiness of the project — although Mr Stovell told the PAC that he would not see “glaring issues” and not raise them. Questioned next, Mr Simmons said he had not been consulted on the present airport agreement, but was still reviewing the document. Mr Simmons agreed with PLP MP Wayne Furbert that the Government had not followed financial instructions. Repeating the rule that to depart from financial instructions, permission must be sought from the Accountant-General, Mr Stovell closed by telling the PAC: “Departure without permission is not permitted. We have nothing further to say.” The PAC membership agreed with Mr Furbert’s suggestion that the financial secretary be called before the committee for questioning. Echoing a refrain from PAC meetings over years, members on both sides criticised the Government’s financial instructions as lacking any real power. The second part of the meeting heard updates on the Auditor-General’s report on government funds for the years ended March 31, 2010, March 31, 2011 and March 31, 2012. In that report, released on November 13, Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews identified “serious deficiencies” for government oversight of capital development projects. Expressing frustration with the lack of compliance with instructions, Mr Furbert said: “We can’t be expected to sit here knowing that five years from now, the Auditor-General is going to write a report about the airport.” Mr Simons suggested adding financial instructions to the agenda for discussion at the PAC’s next meeting. “This has been going on for years and years and years,” he said. “There is no recourse, no sanctions for the malfeasance.” Replying that he “could not agree more”, Mr Burt said that violations of the instructions could only be made by the accounting officers themselves. “Hopefully, government ministers can lean on the Minister of Finance to table financial instruction so that the Good Governance Act [brought to Parliament by former PLP Premier Paula Cox] can be put into force,” Mr Burt said, referring to “the exasperation of the public, of this committee, and of the Auditor-General.” Speaking afterwards to The Royal Gazette, Mr Burt said he was “shocked that the Accountant-General came here today and said that the OBA Government is violating financial instructions in their approach to the airport.” Ms Jacobs-Matthews said yesterday that although the instructions were “quite robust”, she knew of only one case in which a civil servant had been disciplined.

November 20. The Bermuda Government remains reluctant to penalise senior civil servants who break financial rules, according to Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews. Mrs Matthews answered with an emphatic e-mailed “Yes!” when asked by The Royal Gazette yesterday if there was still an unwillingness to discipline public officials who failed to follow internal financial instructions. A myriad of failures by senior civil servants involving millions of dollars of taxpayers’ cash are highlighted in her latest report on government spending, for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012, when the Progressive Labour Party was in power. She recommends that the civil servants be fined or otherwise disciplined — a call she has made repeatedly during her six years in office. Asked yesterday if earlier recommendations of hers had been heeded, Mrs Matthews replied: “Obviously not!” She added: “This report clearly speaks to a systemic lack of accountability and responsibility during the period under review.” The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee heard complaints from MPs yesterday about the lack of repercussions for violations of the financial instructions, with chairman David Burt arguing that they should “have the rule of law” (see story below). The Auditor-General said that although the Government’s financial instructions (FIs) were “quite robust” in setting out penalties, she was aware of only one occasion a number of years ago when a civil servant was disciplined.  The Ministry of Finance responded to her latest recommendation by saying it agreed that civil servants should be fined or otherwise disciplined. But a spokesman would not reveal whether any public officials had been penalized in relation to the examples in Mrs Matthews’s 315-page report, which cites instance after instance of public servants breaching or ignoring the financial instructions. He said: “Any breach of FIs in which the Accountant-General has been notified would have been dealt with appropriately either by the Accountant-General or the responsible accounting officer. Disciplinary matters within the Civil Service are confidential.” Although she does not name the individuals concerned, Mrs Matthews’s report identifies them in most instances by job title or by the ministry they served — and it is clear that some remain in senior positions within the civil service which give them signing authority for spending public funds. The Auditor said: “It is not the policy or the role of the Auditor-General to identify persons by name. The Public Accounts Committee may wish to bring these individuals before them for questioning in a public forum.” Examples include Cabinet secretary and Civil Service head Derrick Binns, who was Permanent Secretary (PS) at the Ministry of Home Affairs for the financial year ending March 2010, when there was $2.4 million spent without signed contracts. The minister was David Burch. Dr Binns said: “I have not had an opportunity to review the report and therefore am not in a position to comment.” The deputy head of the Civil Service, Cherie-lynn Whitter, meanwhile, was PS at the Ministry of Tourism and Transport for the fiscal year 2010, when there was $1.5 million in department spending at the Department of Tourism not approved by Cabinet, as well as $3.6 million in contracts not tendered. Premier Ewart Brown was tourism and transport minister. Ms Whitter was also in charge of the chequebook at tourism for part of the financial year ending March 2011, when the Department did not tender $18.1 million worth of contracts. She did not respond to an e-mail yesterday. Some of the public servants revealed in the report to have failed to comply with financial instructions have since left the Civil Service. Robert Horton was PS at the Ministry of Public Works from 2009 to 2010, when there was a failure to comply with financial instructions in relation to capital projects worth more than $35 million. He retired from the Civil Service in February 2013. Mrs Matthews’s report stated that the PS was the accounting officer for the majority of capital development projects and was therefore responsible for ensuring that financial instructions and other internal policies were followed. Derrick Burgess was minister. Mr Horton told this newspaper he never faced disciplinary proceedings for any of the failures cited by the Auditor-General, nor was he fined or penalized in any way. “Certainly not,” he said. “Never was there any accusation, except for questions by the Auditor-General. Any question raised by the Office of the Auditor-General was replied to by me.” Mr Horton, who was a public servant for 43 years, said he had no further comment to make, having not yet read Mrs Matthews’s report. His sister, Ellen-Kate Horton, also now retired, was PS for transport for part of the financial year 2011. The Auditor’s report refers to millions of dollars worth of departmental expenditures not approved by Cabinet in 2011 under that Ministry, as well as expenditures made without signed contracts and contracts not tendered. It was not possible to reach her by telephone yesterday. Terry Lister was transport minister. Another Civil Service retiree, Kevin Monkman, oversaw $4.1 million of contracts not being tendered at the Department of Education during the fiscal year 2010, while he was PS. He could not be reached yesterday. According to the financial instructions, the Accountant-General is responsible for the “general supervision of all departmental financial accounting functions.” Joyce Hayward was Accountant-General for the whole of the period covered by the Auditor’s consolidated fund report. She quit the Civil Service in August 2013 after spending nine months on administrative leave. The Government has never commented on why Mrs Hayward was put on leave. She could not be reached by telephone yesterday. Mrs Matthews said yesterday: “The report speaks to a litany of non-compliance with financial instructions and related rules. All those employees who did not comply with financial instructions should be disciplined in one form or another.” She added that the penalty for non-compliance was “at the discretion of the Ministry of Finance.”

November 20. The Shadow Minister of Home Affairs has re-ignited his call for an overhaul of the Island’s immigration legislation. Speaking at a PLP town hall meeting last night, Walton Brown outlined his vision to amend laws surrounding foreign nationals, specifically those which contrive to disadvantage Bermudians. “We have called for comprehensive immigration reform, and that call has been purely rejected by the OBA,” Mr Walton told an audience gathered at Francis Patton Primary School, Hamilton Parish. “Every country in the world has immigration policies which say so many can come in, and so many are entitled to citizenship and permanent residence. “We have no number. The Government just says, ‘We’ll see who applies’.” Mr Brown also suggested that the minimum wage be reassessed, specifically in the hospitality industry. “There are people from places like the Philippines whose situations are so desperate, they’ll come here and work for $10 an hour,” he said. “But it denies Bermudians opportunities, because you’re not just lowering the price, you’re creating a contrived set of circumstances where Bermudians are just not going to apply. Our position is that Bermudians should come first in their own country. Who could deny that? Employers should be encouraged to hire Bermudians, not create contrived circumstances where Bermudians can be denied opportunities.” In September, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, responded firmly to claims that the Bermuda Government was soft on its immigration policies after Mr Brown hosted a public forum to discuss the topic. “This is a tiny country known for its high standard of living, which would be overwhelmed by people wanting to settle here if we did not have careful, well-thought-out policies and practices in place,” he said. While Mr Fahy acknowledged the need for “top-to-bottom” immigration reform, he added that the Government was prioritizing fixing the economy and getting Bermudians back to work. “Immigration reform on that kind of scale will have to wait for a bit,” he added.

November 20. Bermuda College’s 2013 audited financial statements were laid before the House of Assembly yesterday revealing that the college had total assets worth just over $29 million. Wayne Scott, the Minister of Education, told the House of Assembly: “During the year, the revenue earned from student fees increased by 22.5 per cent to $3,166,014. Consequently the college ended the year with a surplus of revenue of $132,881 compared to a loss of $111,880 in 2012. During the past year the Bermuda College and the Office of the Auditor-General have been working assiduously to get its audits up to date in order that the Bermuda College can be in compliance with its financial standards for its creditors.” Mr Scott also provided details of the Bermuda College 2015 Annual Report highlighting the college’s achievements of the last year including its recent re-accreditation and the success of their dual enrolment initiative. The pilot programme has seen 35 students enrolled in college-level courses. His report showed an 11.7 per cent increase in full-time students, while the retention rate advanced from 12 to 63 per cent. Lovitta Foggo, the shadow minister, expressed concern over whether the students’ graduation certificates would “formally reflect” their performance and qualifications. Mr Scott replied: “Any type of college level courses will be reflected as part of the transcripts. It goes without saying.”

November 20. Hundreds of men lined up at the Seventh Day Adventist Church yesterday as Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre hosted their fourth annual men’s health free screening. The free event on King Street was open to all men, particularly the uninsured and underinsured, providing them access to screenings for blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, foot exams, lung function, body composition, kidney function, prostate exam and consultations, dental exams, HIV testing and skin analysis. Minister of Health Jeanne Atherden opened the event, applauding the temporary facility. She said: “This is so good because we have all of these partners under one roof. This is an extension of the rising health issues. By working together they create that synergy and you get the wonderful result that you have here — people taking charge of their numbers. Men have a tendency to think they can grin and bear it and here’s an opportunity to get it all in one place. It’s not just for the uninsured and underinsured, it’s for everybody.” The initiative was introduced by the charity five years ago. Executive director of BCHC, Tara Soares said: “We recognized that there was certainly a gap in providing men’s health services on the Island. What makes this truly a successful event is all of the agencies that come together. Not just the charitable agencies but the department of health, and we also have a number of physicians, general practitioners, family practitioners that will be here throughout the day and actually seeing men. We realize that in lots of cases they’re just not getting to see their GP and they’re not having that conversation on what their personal risk factors might be. What diseases they should screened for. We try to maximize what we can actually do assessments on here during the day.” Visiting practitioner Michael O’Leary is a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and the Senior urological surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He was present for consultations and examinations at the event and gave a free public presentation at the BUEI where men could talk about anything from prostate health to sexual health. Dr O’Leary runs a men’s health clinic in Boston. He said: “There’s not a female in the room. They kick them all out. There’s something about a crowd that is more conducive to open discussions than one on one. Sometimes when I’m seeing a patient in consultation, one on one the guy’s a little nervous, but when there’s another group around they’re more likely to open up. It’s an interesting phenomenon. Guys will be very upfront and say, hey, I’m 65 years old and I can’t perform the way I used to. Is that normal. What can I do about it? The presentation I give is very layman directed. It’s not a lot of fancy jargon. It’s stuff that the average guy can understand about what he should be doing to be as healthy as he can be and to be as functional he can be as long as he wants." Dr O’Leary told The Royal Gazette he hoped that the session would foster dialogue between attendees and their peers as well as provide valuable information. He said: “A lot of men worry that when they have urinary symptoms that that’s a sign of prostate cancer. That’s rarely the case. Most prostate cancers are silent. The only way they find out they have them is because they get a PSA [prostate-specific antigen test] and they see their doc. He added: “It’s particularly important for the population here because so many men have African heritage and the disease is more common in black men than it is in whites. The charity also provided $150 vouchers for men to visit their GPs. Close to 20 per cent of the population has basic health insurance or no insurance. Ms Soares said: “Oftentimes these are the people that will develop chronic diseases and they’re just not getting the care that they need and without the care, these chronic diseases become very severe. She cited diabetes as an example and the danger of finding late stage cancers. She said: “Men who should have been diagnosed years ago, but because they couldn’t get access or couldn’t afford to get the screening. We’re trying to get in front of that, particularly with events like this today. The November campaign funds the event. To date BCHC has raised $400,000 through the mustachioed movement. 

November 20. A special breakfast meeting next week will focus on the cost of retiring in Bermuda. The breakfast seminar, organized by the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce and presented by Miguel DaPonte, senior vice-president of BF&M Investment Services, will look at changes to pensions and how to prepare for life without a work salary. Nathan Kowalski, co-chairman of the chamber’s economics committee, and moderator for the meeting, said: “This is a timely and relevant topic. We have just heard that the senior population in Bermuda will outpace the millennial population by 2017. This puts even more strain on the social insurance as there are fewer persons contributing towards it. Those of working age should now be concerned if their pension will be available to them at retirement.” The meeting will also look at the long term shift from traditional defined benefit pensions to defined contribution plans — which increases the responsibility of retirees to successfully generate lifetime retirement income. Mr DaPonte said the breakfast session would explore current pension provision on the Island and it if it sufficient to achieve minimum retirement benefits. He said: “We will also discuss what can be done to improve these outcomes whether through participant behavior, plan design or legislative changes.” The meeting will be held at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton. Doors open at 8am and the session begins at 8.30am. The cost for chamber members is $40 and $50 for non-members. Anyone interested in attending should contact Stephanie Lee as or phone 295-4201.

November 19. The editors, writers and explorers of National Geographic Traveler have named Bermuda one of the 20 best destinations in the world for 2016. The magazine has the largest audience of any travel magazine with more than 8.5 million readers, according to a press release from Bermuda Tourism Authority. CEO Bill Hanbury stated: “This year the world’s travel media have fallen head over heels in love with Bermuda. Outside Magazine named Bermuda Best Island, Conde Nast Traveler put us on its top five islands list and now we’re in National Geographic Traveler’s top 20 destinations worldwide. Our marketing team is telling authentic stories about Bermuda that are resonating with travelers, while, at the same time, our partners across the tourism economy are delivering memorable experiences. The accolades we’ve earned in 2015 are highly valuable for growing the tourism industry going forward and everyone in Bermuda should feel proud of these endorsements.” In a congratulations letter to the BTA, the editors of the magazine said winning placement on the list was a competitive process. Features editor Amy Alipio stated: “The ‘Best of the World’ list reflects the travel expertise and global knowledge of National Geographic. The destinations represent what’s superlative, timely and richly authentic in the world of travel today.”

November 19. RG Editorial. "Every Bermudian has a right to feel angry and disgusted by the findings of the Auditor-General’s report for the fiscal years 2010, 2011 and 2012. At that time, this community was dealing with the pain of widespread job losses, pay cuts, a real estate slump and a sharp slowdown in business generally — the consequences of a rapidly deepening recession. Meanwhile, certain people in the Bermuda Government were making a mockery of their responsibility as guardians of the public purse. It’s a downright disgrace. The financial instructions, a set of Civil Service rules that exist to guard against the wastage of public money, along with other basic procedures required for government spending, were apparently frequently ignored. As the report’s author, Heather Jacobs Matthews, put it: “It is evident that the policies, procedures and rules pertaining to capital expenditures are being violated to such an extent that it has now become the norm for which there are no consequences.” That is an alarming statement. It does not automatically follow that corruption took place, but the culture that Ms Matthews describes certainly creates conditions in which fraud and theft would have been easier to perpetrate, with taxpayers the victims. Public money belongs to the people, not the Government, just as bank deposits belong to the account holders, not the bank. Civil servants ignoring financial controls is the equivalent of the bank manager leaving the door of the safe unlocked. Ms Matthews should be commended for her no-holds-barred reporting of what it would be polite to describe as appalling financial mismanagement. In her immensely difficult and important role as the independent, external auditor of government finances, she knows that the better she does her job, the more personal vilification she is likely to receive for it from those who may be harmed politically or professionally by revelations of the truth. She has fearlessly executed her task and her successor, Heather Thomas, will be well aware that she has a high standard to maintain. One should bear in mind when reading Ms Matthews’s report that she did not have the time, nor the resources, to audit everything. But she and her team found enough in her areas of focus to indicate a culture of ignoring rules with impunity, sloppiness that would be comical if it did not come at a cost for every Bermudian, and tens of millions of dollars in expenditure beyond what our elected representatives had approved. Duplicate payments and overpayments do happen in large organisations, of course, but some of the cases highlighted by Ms Matthews suggest staggering carelessness with large sums of money. Take the case of a contractor who was paid $759,721 by the Department of Airport Operations in 2010: more than one third of this amount — $256,336 — comprised an overpayment. In addition, outstanding payroll tax of $321,277 owed by the contractor was not deducted from the payment. This resulted in a loss of government revenue of $577,613. To compound the mistake, the payment was initially made to the wrong person, the project manager instead of the contractor, before the recipient pointed out the error and redirected the funds. Ms Matthews also found $14 million of expenditures in 2010 that did not get the Cabinet approval they required, as well as millions of dollars in undocumented spending. In 2011, an estimated $62 million of expenditures that she tested were not tendered in compliance with financial instructions, including more than $18 million by the Department of Tourism alone. Another observation in the report offers some insight into the routine nature of the financial mismanagement. “We requested supporting documentation for an estimated $35.5 million spent on capital contracts and purchases, and 15 per cent ($5.2 million) did not have supporting documentation,” Ms Matthews reported. “Of the remaining $30.3 million, many failed to comply with the applicable purchasing and approval standards. The majority lacked the required prior approval of Cabinet, did not have agreements or contracts and/or did not follow the basic tendering procedure.” How can $5.2 million go out of the public coffers without documentation? That figure alone amounts to $100,000 for every week of the year, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg of what the report has uncovered. Those who signed off on spending without following the rules “should be held accountable for breaches of compliance”, Ms Matthews states, and this newspaper fully supports that view. Several of the senior civil servants who held the purse strings at that time are still holding them today and, as the Auditor-General pointed out in her report, there were apparently no consequences for those who were lax in their duties. If there is no accountability, bad behavior will be repeated. That’s something that any parent can attest to. In flagging up this state of affairs and investigating as far as her legal powers will allow, Ms Matthews has done her bit. Now it’s time for other authorities to seize the baton and investigate farther, whatever form that may take. To coin a phrase, it’s time to “look under the hood.” There are glaring questions to which Bermudian taxpayers deserve to know the answers. Was there misappropriation of funds during this period of loose oversight? How will those identified in this report be held accountable? Did civil servants come under pressure from politicians to ignore the rules they are required to follow? As this report applies up to March 2012, have things improved over the past 3½ years or do the same problems persist? This may have happened a few years ago, but by no means should it be regarded as water under the bridge. Lax financial controls inevitably lead to overspending — in this case, that has contributed to a public debt of more than $2 billion. That is very much a present problem and one that will linger long into the future. We need to take the necessary steps to change the organizational culture within government to one that takes important rules seriously and treats the public’s money with respect. Really, it’s the least that taxpayers should expect."

November 19. Shareholders in reinsurance firm PartnerRe today backed the $6.9 billion takeover offer from Italian investment giant Exor. The shareholders voted on the deal — which also gets them a special dividend of $3 a share contingent on the deal closing — at PartnerRe’s HQ on Hamilton’s Pitts Bay Road this morning. Exor, controlled by the billionaire Agnelli family, earlier this year froze out a rival bid by reinsurance firm Axis for PartnerRe. PartnerRe said the acquisition was on track to be completed in the first quarter of next year, subject to regulatory approval.

November 19. LONDON (Bloomberg) — Insurer Talanx AG’s $122 million loss from port explosions at Tianjin, one of China’s worst industrial disasters, takes the net hit incurred by insurers across Europe, the US, Bermuda and Asia to almost $2 billion, according to filings by 26 companies. That’s at the lower end of an initial estimate by reinsurance broker Guy Carpenter of $1.6 billion to $3.3 billion after 173 people died following the August 12 explosions. It’s the fourth most costly man-made disaster ever for the industry based on current estimates and adjusted for inflation, according to Swiss Re AG’s Economic Research and Consulting unit. “Tianjin illustrates the challenges insurers and their clients face in managing risks in an era of rapid globalization,” said Charles Graham, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in London. “This was first evident after the Thai floods in 2011. Business interruption is now one of the most difficult risks for insurers to assess.” The highest costs from Tianjin were suffered by European firms, led by Zurich Insurance Group AG, whose $275 million loss was partly responsible for the Swiss firm abandoning its proposed takeover of Britain’s RSA Insurance Group. China Reinsurance Group said its costs would not exceed $174 million, while Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed the highest loss from a US insurer at $130 million. The biggest man-made loss for insurers remains the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, which cost the industry $25.2 billion, the Swiss Re data shows. The second largest was the 1988 explosion on the Piper Alpha oil and gas platform off Britain which cost the industry almost $3 billion, when adjusted for inflation. 

November 19. Bermuda’s civic leaders need to focus as much on tackling the Island’s racial disparity as they do on its economic interests, according to a new report. Keith Lawrence and Raymond Codrington’s 30-page manifesto argues that, while open discrimination is no longer tolerated, white privilege remains “baked into the hardware and software of the political economy and culture.” But the authors of Racial Dynamics in Bermuda in the 21st Century: Progress and Challenges also warn that discussions on race could prove “unnecessary, futile and even counterproductive” if they devolve into finger-pointing and resurrecting past grievances. They suggest that while special attention should be given to young black men, the same group needs to refrain from “self-sabotage” in fulfilling negative stereotypes about them. The paper calls for a broader and more committed collective of community figureheads to promote a “comprehensive and sustained social justice agenda. This would be an expanded universe of people in Bermuda who recognise that the society’s longer-term cohesion and prosperity will depend as much on a racial dynamic as on business growth,” say the authors, representing a United States race relations think tank, the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change. To compile their paper, the duo spent three years gleaning the opinions of 86 Bermudian civic leaders, business professionals, youth organizers, non-profit community figures and public officers. They refer to previous studies which have focused on young black males — such as the Mincy Report, the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality Report, the Hopkins Report and the Bermuda Government’s Life-Skills Report — but stress that interventions concentrating solely on that group will not be enough. The authors continue: “We need to talk about the issues surrounding race openly and honestly — neither cringing nor blaming.” Noting that Bermuda’s racial imbalance began in the 17th century with European settlement and colonization, the report adds: “It is vital that white Bermudians acknowledge that they benefit today from a legacy of racial inequality.” The authors also stress the importance of compiling and studying raw data pertaining to racial issues, as opposed to relying on anecdotal evidence or appealing to emotion. They point out that more than 90 per cent of black students attend government-supported public schools, “which are widely perceived to be below standard”, while 90 per cent of white students attend privately funded schools. This racial fissure continues into the working world, where the majority of black Bermudians (58 per cent) work in blue-collar occupations, and earn less on average than their white Bermudian counterparts, 34 per cent of whom work in lower-paid professions. Figures from the white-collar sector are equally stark: a 2010 census showed that 65 per cent of white workers on the Island held senior, managerial and professional positions, versus 40 per cent of their black counterparts. “There are strong suspicions among black Bermudians that race still influences judgments about talent, qualifications and industriousness about where different people ‘belong’ in the private sector,” says the report. While 98 per cent of the prison population is black, the report states: “Bermuda’s black youth ought to be viewed more as canaries in the racial equity coal mine, that is, as a group whose problems point to deeper society-wide imperfections.” Dr Lawrence and Dr Codrington warn that social justice leaders also have to tackle “seemingly compelling evidence of ‘self-sabotage’ by young black men”, pointing to the demographics propensity for behavior such as joining gangs and dropping out of school. Another problem is that the Island’s overall affluence and tranquility can dampen the urgency for social change, turning the matter into a “hard sell”. However, they praise organisations such as Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (Curb) and the Diversity Institute of Bermuda (DIB) for initiating frank public dialogues on race. “They understand that, painful and provocative though these may be, the conversations need to happen, and that they should push beyond recitations of disparities and grievances to explore how race actually operates from day to day at multiple levels,” they say. Despite highlighting the difficulties of the challenge ahead, the paper concluded on an optimistic note. “There may not be a better time for bold, innovative action,” it said. “Bermuda’s special advantages as a nation, and courageous civic voices for social justice, position it well to eventually ‘get it right’ on racial equality in the 21st century.” Speaking to The Royal Gazette, Dr Lawrence said: “I was very pleasantly surprised to see that Bermudians were willing to take on this contentious and potentially divisive issue. It could become a good model for other places.” Dr Codrington added: “It’s for Bermuda to decide what to do next. I hope people see this not as an end but a beginning.”

November 19. There was no other option for the Bermuda Government’s planned airport redevelopment because “we can’t afford it any other way”, finance minister Bob Richards said last night. Non-tendered agreements and resorting to public-private partnerships, or P3s, were a necessary resort for replacing the Island’s ageing airport terminal, the minister told a town hall meeting attended by about 100 people last night. Tendering the project would have been too time-consuming and expensive, Mr Richards told the gathering in a room at the Anglican Cathedral, citing a $10 million consultancy fee for the hospital redevelopment. “To have something off the balance sheets, this is the only show in town,” he replied to a question from the audience, saying the only viable deal was one that would be financed over time by usage of the airport rather than government funding. “We didn’t have the money to do it,” he said. So far, a guaranteed revenue level for the new terminal proposed for LF Wade International Airport remains a work in progress. “The actual numbers are subject to current negotiations,” Mr Richards said, calling a forecast of future air traffic the most critical aspect. “Everybody likes to make fun of me for ‘fuzzy numbers’ — this is a forecast,” he said. “But the guarantee will be a hard number.” Steve Nackan, the president of Aecon — the subcontractor to Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) — estimated that a guaranteed revenue would be available by the early summer of next year. “The hope is that the revenue will always exceed what we think will be the guaranteed revenue,” Mr Nackan added. Asked if the Government would have to bail out the new airport if the project “failed”, Mr Richards said: “The Government of Bermuda will not have to bail this out — period.” The project has been subjected to “a great deal of noise and disinformation”, he told the meeting. The proposal using CCC and Aecon is predicted to cost $249 million and take 40 months to construct, with Aecon as the major shareholder of a special purpose company to build the terminal and have a concession agreement to operate it for the next 30 years. Present airport staff and management will be retained, with some of them going to a special purpose company to run the facility, and regulated by the Government — replacing the Department of Airport Operations with an “airport quango.”

November 19.  A Bermudian was forced to relive his agonizing 12-hour wait for surgery at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital when its lawyers went to the Island’s highest court to argue that he does not deserve his $58,000 compensation. Kamal Williams screamed in pain as he waited for his appendix to be removed on May 30, 2011. It ended up bursting before he made it to the operating room, his surgery having been delayed by a string of problems at the hospital. The father of two suffered a serious infection, a heart attack and breathing problems which left him on a life-support machine in the intensive care unit for a week, followed by another week recovering on a ward. Yesterday, more than four years on, he sat in a courtroom at the Privy Council in London listening to lawyers and judges debate the circumstances under which he became so critically ill. On the first day of a two-day hearing, the court was told how the lengthy wait for surgery was caused by an overburdened radiology department, lack of communication between doctors, and an important scan having to be sent to an “out-of-hours service” in Australia for interpretation. But the lawyer for the Bermuda Hospitals Board, Caroline Harrison QC, argued that it was not possible to prove “on a balance of probabilities” that the life-threatening complications suffered by Mr Williams were the hospital’s fault. She argued that his critical illness could have occurred in any case, regardless of the long wait. “You have to prove that the delay has made a measurable difference,” she told the panel of five judges, saying Mr Williams’s lawyers had not managed to do that. According to Ms Harrison, the original decision by the Supreme Court that Mr Williams should only get $2,000 compensation was the right one. Ms Harrison argued that the larger amount of $58,000 compensation — awarded to Mr Williams when he took his case to the Court of Appeal — should not have been given. She said the appeals judges based their decision on a point of law called “material contribution”, which is usually applied to the causes of industrial accidents and car crashes. Ms Harrison said it was “near impossible” for doctors to advise on “causation in clinical cases” and that it would be unfair to expect them to look at things in the same way that medical negligence insurers did. “Should the doctors be put in that position?” she asked. However, Benjamin Browne QC, representing Mr Williams, said the serious complications, in what should have been a relatively minor case of appendicitis, were partially or entirely related to that “negligent delay” at KEMH, and that the Court of Appeal had been right. Mr Browne told the Privy Council the BHB could have called evidence that the risk of Mr Williams suffering complications was high regardless of his long wait for surgery — but did not. Speaking after the hearing, Mr Williams, who has now recovered from his illness, told The Royal Gazette: “It brought it all back to me as the lawyers were talking about it in court. I’m remembering it because I’ve lived it. I got kind of upset because to them it’s just another case, and they’ve done hundreds, but this is something I have had to think about for the last 4½ years.” He said the $58,000 he was awarded by the Court of Appeal had already been swallowed up by his legal fees, which are likely to be up to $300,000 by the time the Privy Council case ends. The BHB, which receives close to $150 million from the public purse annually, took the case to London on the advice of its medical malpractice lawyers, who will meet all potential costs. Britain’s publicly funded National Health Service is worried about the potential ramifications of the Williams case when it comes to future patient complaints in England and Wales. It has sent written submissions to the Privy Council, saying that if this set a legal precedent, it could lead to a “burden on the public purse”. Mr Williams, from Southampton, hopes the Privy Council will reject the BHB’s appeal and order it to pay his legal bills. “If it goes my way and it’s all over, I will be relieved,” he said.

November 18. Restrictions lifted on the sale of life insurance will be a boost for a Bermuda-based company. VL Assurance, part of the Valor Group, had a private Act of Parliament aimed at broadening its range of services signed into law by Governor George Fergusson this week. The Act allow the firm to expand the meaning of “insurable interest” to allow it to issue life insurance policies across a wider range than just relatives, as is the case under the existing public Act of Parliament. VL Assurance will also be allowed to pay out in the event of the death of an insured direct into the relevant segregated account, which also would not have been allowed under the public Act. The private Act was backed by Valor Management, also based in Bermuda, which acts as an insurance management company. Valor Management CEO Louis Zuckerbraun said: “Bermuda is recognized as a premier jurisdiction for the insurance industry. “It enjoys a collaborative business culture where Government and business leaders work together towards world-class standards in compliance, regulation, transparency and infrastructure. These factors make it an ideal location from which to purchase insurance and annuity products that help protect, grow and transfer personal and business assets.” Valor Group is a multibillion dollar group of companies aimed at providing private placement insurance for wealthy clients around the world. Valor Management said that the change in the legal framework would give it “greater flexibility” to create specialized wealth planning and preservation services for its client base. Mr Zuckerbraun added: “Our goal is to provide the most sophisticated and secure product portfolio available. To that end, we worked diligently with the Bermuda Government to go one step further to enhance our product platform for our clients and ensure we could offer more of the complete and complex planning and product solutions they need to prosper. “The VL Assurance (Bermuda) Ltd Act 2015 is the result of these efforts and we are excited to be able to extend its benefits.” In addition to Bermuda, Valor Group, part of the COR Group, includes insurance companies and other financial services enterprises in Barbados, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Ireland. Private bills are presented to Parliament on behalf of an association or group of individuals and are always tabled and read in the House of Assembly by a backbencher. In most cases, the member who introduces a private bill is from the ruling party.

November 18. A magistrate and a defence lawyer are calling for a better way of dealing with repeat drink-driving offenders. It comes after Louis Somner was fined $4,000 and banned from the roads for five years for his third impaired driving offence. Saul Dismont, Sumner's lawyer, said handing out fines and taking offenders off the roads was not an effective solution when they were suffering from an addiction and disease. Appearing in Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Somner, who is an organizer for the Bermuda Industrial Union, admitted failing to provide a sample of breath for analysis in Pembroke on June 7. The Crown accepted his plea and offered no evidence on the alternative charge of driving while impaired. The 56-year-old also pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified, failing to stop for police and not wearing a seatbelt in Warwick on the same date. Prosecutor Loxly Ricketts told the court that police saw Somner driving without his seatbelt fastened near the junction of St Mary’s Road and Middle Road. They made repeated attempts to stop Somner without success. He continued to Khyber Pass and was apprehended when an oncoming car brought him to a halt. The officers noticed that Somner appeared to be intoxicated and he told them that he had been disqualified from driving for 18 months. He was taken to Hamilton Police Station, where he refused to provide a sample of breath for analysis. In court yesterday, Mr Dismont said Somner had suffered from a drinking problem for several years and that he “made a stupid, drunk decision”. He added that this was why it was “essential that his alcoholism is addressed”, and requested that the matter be referred to Drug Treatment Court, which he said now accepted defendants who admitted drink-driving offences. This would not only help Somner get the necessary treatment, Mr Dismont said, but would also benefit the public by dealing with his drinking problem and stopping him from re-offending. Magistrate Archibald Warner, however, said the programme was not designed or equipped to deal “chronic drink-drive offenders” and called for a more “appropriate programme” to be implemented. Drink-driving is a “big, big, big problem in Bermuda”, Mr Warner said. “Disqualification alone, as seen by the number of repeat offenders, is not a silver bullet.” He also said that treatment combined with a period of disqualification would be more effective than heavier fines. However, Mr Warner said that he would not exercise his discretion and transfer the matter because he was not satisfied that there was an appropriate regime in place to deal with such offenders. He instead handed Somner a $4,000 fine and banned him from the roads for five years. He also fined him $500 for driving while disqualified, $300 for failing to stop for police and $100 for not wearing a seatbelt. But he said the sentence was an example of the “draconian, monetary penalties” put in place to try and deter repeat offenders. “The treatment aspect would cost less than $5,000 and be more effective,” he added. Speaking to The Royal Gazette after the court case, Mr Dismont said he would be appealing the sentence with the view to getting Somner admitted to Drug Treatment Court. “Handing out fines and disqualifying people is not effective as can be seen by the amount of people that keep coming back and back and back again,” Mr Dismont said. “And this includes people who have been to prison, because alcoholism is a disease. Mr Somner is taking a stand and he hopes that the community can benefit from this bad situation.” Mr Dismont said some of his previous clients, who were in court for the same offences, had been referred to Drug Treatment Court, which he said had a success rate of at least 75 per cent for offenders who completed the programme. “Every participant has an individual treatment plan tailor-made for them and the whole design of the treatment plan is to assist them in their recovery. You’re not getting off scot-free. You have to appear every week before Drug Treatment Court and you have to stay for the whole of the session. You have random urine tests, you have to report to your caseworker regularly and the programme can go on for up to three years.” He added that sanctions can also be put in place if offenders are found to be in breach of the programme.

November 18. Cruise calls and passenger numbers are expected to increase significantly next year. An additional 15 cruise calls will be made to the Island compared with last year, while both St George’s and Hamilton will see an increase in cruise visitors during the season. Next year will also see the maiden voyage of the Royal Caribbean International liner, Anthem of the Seas, which carries 4,365 passengers — a handful more than the Norwegian Breakaway, which had previously held the record in Bermuda for the ship with the largest passenger capacity. According to the 2016 cruise schedule, which has just been released, there will be 151 cruise calls next year — the highest figure since 2012. The five regular callers — Summit, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Breakaway, Anthem of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas — will make 98 visits to Dockyard in 2016. Meanwhile, 53 visits will be made by “occasional callers” — an increase from 36 in the previous year. St George's is scheduled to host five different ships during the season, while Hamilton will welcome 14 liners, including four trips by the Holland America Line vessel, Veendam. Between March and April, four liners — Minerva, AIDAavita, Albatros and Balmoral — will dock at Penno’s Wharf, while in October the Sirena will call into the town. Mayor Quinell Francis told The Royal Gazette: “We see this as a step in the right direction. It’s pretty much a 100 per cent increase on what we had last year, and we remain hopeful that in the future we can secure a regular cruise ship in St George again. We are looking at all the options. Furthermore we have already been told that for 2017 there will be a permanent cruise ship with 500 rooms based at Penno’s Wharf, so that will obviously be a big boost to the town as well.” Meanwhile, as well as hosting the Veendam on four trips, Hamilton will welcome more than a dozen liners throughout the season, some of which, such as the Balmoral, Sirena, Insignia, Adonia and Viking King, will be visiting Bermuda for the first time. Kendaree Burgess, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are happy to see an increase in the number of cruise ships and passengers. The Hamilton stores and the Harbour Nights retailers and vendors will appreciate the extra visitors. Naturally the chamber is supportive of the increase in visitor numbers.”

November 18. A lengthy slump in the price of oil has sent the energy sector into the doldrums, but that’s not the case at Bermuda-based oil and gas investment specialists Seacrest Capital Group. The Hamilton-headquartered company is in the process of moving its office from Serpentine Road to Front Street, and expects to soon increase its on-Island staff from six to ten. Despite the price of a barrel of oil hovering around $44, which is less than half what it was two years ago, company co-founder Henrik Schröder has a confident outlook for the future. He sees greater deal opportunities abounding in the depressed market conditions. Seacrest was founded five years ago and now promotes itself as one of the largest oil and gas exploration investors in the world. It is active in six countries, has more than 50 employees worldwide and at present has 49 exploration areas under licence. The company was founded in 2010 by Bermuda residents Erik Tiller and Mr Schröder. The pair have worked together for 15 years. Seacrest has a strategic partnership with Norway’s PGS, which operates a fleet of seismic ships that gather data about the location of potential offshore oil and gas reserves. Having conducted surveys in many parts of the world, the company has an extensive data library. “They provide some of the best technology,” said Mr Schröder. “We are able to use this library, so when we decide where to go and look for gas and oil it gives us a head start on deciding where we should invest our money.” The firm’s exploration specialists around the world do further diligence to identify the best prospects. Seacrest secures oil exploration licences and the rights to “blocks” of seabed in favored locations, setting up regional companies that are then in a position to allow other players, such as major oil producers, to take a share of the licences and exploration area blocks. Seacrest has founded and grown six private oil and gas exploration companies in Brazil, Indonesia, Ireland, Namibia, Norway, and Britain. The group is funded through private equity, with capital coming from energy investors, primarily in the US and Europe. Those investors include pension funds, private-equity funds and high net-worth individuals. Acknowledging the downturn in oil and gas prices in recent years, Mr Schröder said: “There has been a blip for the past two years. There is going to be an uptick, and there will be intensive activity to find new discoveries to replace the oil reserves that are being depleted. The last year has been difficult with the oil price going sideways. Our view is that in one or two years from now there is going to be a change.” With energy producers scaling back their exploration budgets because of the squeeze on their finances created by low oil prices, Seacrest is positioning itself for the eventual rebound. “It means we can find attractive deals for new licences. The [pricing] cycles come and go. It is always about the timing. We can work hard to be positioned when the opportunities come. We feel very confident about the future,” said Mr Schröder. He also feels Seacrest has the perfect home in Bermuda, as it is centrally located in the “Atlantic margin” — a region of oil and gas exploration with hot spots along the northwest coastal areas of Europe, the western coast of Africa, the eastern coasts of the Americas, and the Gulf region. The Island is also rich in intellectual capital, as well as investment and legal expertise, he added. This was underlined by Seacrest’s Mr Tiller, who said: “Bermuda is a fantastic place to operate from. The pool of talented and experienced professionals and outsourcing providers, the high-end infrastructure required to work in an efficient manner, and the good communications with Europe and the US, have all been crucial to Seacrest’s growth and continued success.” Beyond its business activities, Seacrest involves itself in the local community, supporting the Bermuda Football Coaches Association, the Bermuda Davis Cup team, ABC Football Foundation and other activities such as TEDx Bermuda and the Ocean Vet TV series, featuring the late Neil Burnie. Mr Schröder said the sporting involvement was a way of positively changing young people’s minds and outlook during their formative years. He added: “We want to make the place where we live and work a better place. We wish that so much of the economic success here can trickle down to everybody, so everyone feels part of the success.” Mr Schröder said there were also interesting crossover opportunities with the work of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo and conservation efforts, and mentioned Seacrest’s support for the Ocean Vet series. “Neil Burnie was a dynamo, and you could not get a better platform to show what Bermuda can offer the world in terms of marine science and studies than BIOS.”

November 18. Greater financial resources need to be put into the Island’s tourism industry for it to be competitive, according to Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Bill Hanbury. The latest tourism statistics indicate that the authority’s 2014 budget of $23.1 million represented just 12 per cent of the $194 million in tax revenues generated by the Island’s tourism industry. Meanwhile, the BTA’s 2015 budget of $21.7 million was 57 per cent less than the 2000 allocation to the industry from the government at the time. “We need more financial resources to be competitive,” Mr Hanbury told The Royal Gazette. “Our budget is way below what is an acceptable budget elsewhere. When we first started working there was a lot of things we needed to rebuild. All of these new partnerships, redeploying our sales staff, it has all taken money and takes resources, and we have got to have more resources. In real dollars this year we have 57 per cent less than the high water mark was in the 2000 tourism budget. Other jurisdictions are pouring money into tourism, we need to do the same.” Opening this week’s Tourism Summit, the BTA’s chairman, David Dodwell, revealed that in 2014 the tourism industry had contributed $260 million to the gross domestic product. He told The Royal Gazette: “The 12 per cent in tax revenues reinvested into the BTA and tourism promotion each year is to sustain and grow the industry, thus ensuring an expanded contribution to Bermuda’s economy in the future. Obviously, the budget process is just beginning within Government, but there has been work done within the BTA to justify a return to the levels of 2014 if not more. It is our job to justify that and show Government that a dollar invested will pay dividends, not just in terms of revenue and visitors, but the trickle-down effect on business and employment. I would very much like more but we need to show there is a good return on investment. I am optimistic that the track record shows we have done things properly and we have a credible organization ready to take us to the next level.” The tourism budget for 2000 was $50.7 million (adjusted to include inflation), which dropped to $42 million in 2007. In the past five years there has been a 43 per cent reduction in the tourism budget. Mr Dodwell added: “We need to compete with the Martha’s Vineyards, the Cape Cods and the Hilton Heads, but more broadly we need to be able to compete with the world.”

November 18. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Public Accounts will conduct a public hearing tomorrow. Members will discuss the proposed redevelopment of LF Wade International Airport, and receive an update from the Accountant General regarding the move not to put the airport terminal project out to tender. The committee is also expected to receive an update from the Office of Auditor General on its latest reports on the Consolidated Fund of the Government of Bermuda for the years ended March 31, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Public Accounts Committee, chaired by shadow finance minister David Burt, is comprised of MPs, and is authorized by the House of Assembly to closely examine and report on matters relating to the accounts of the Government of Bermuda and, in particular, to investigate findings reported by the Auditor General in the Auditor’s Annual and other Special Reports. The meeting takes place at 2.30pm in the Senate Chamber and is open to members of the public.

November 18. One Bermuda Alliance MPs Mark Pettingill and Suzann Roberts-Holshouser have voiced their opposition to “any form of discrimination” in response to a Royal Gazette poll on same-sex marriage. None of the other 34 Members of Parliament gave their opinion on whether same-sex couples should be given the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples: 17 did not respond to our messages, 12 confirmed that they did not want to comment, and five OBA MPs referred to their party’s consultation process over the matter. In reaching out to MPs, this newspaper called their listed party, business and some personal phone numbers more than once, left voice messages and sent follow-up e-mails to ask the question: “Do you believe same-sex marriage should be legalized in Bermuda?” Mr Pettingill, a backbencher and former Attorney-General, told The Royal Gazette: “This is a legal and human rights matter. I am vehemently opposed to any form of discrimination and my personal assessment is that the law supports that position.” The Human Rights Act stipulates that sexual orientation be included under the grounds for protection against discrimination. Ms Roberts-Holshouser, a backbencher and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, said: “I don’t believe in any form of discrimination.” When contacted, Michael Dunkley outlined the Bermuda Government’s “process to stimulate community consultation discussion on same-sex marriage”. The Premier said: “This process follows a commitment by community affairs minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin in May, when she was presented with a petition to legalize same-sex marriage in Bermuda. The meetings will provide members of the public with current Government research on the subject, including recent developments in other countries. The aim is to engage the community in a frank, honest, knowledge-based discussion about same-sex marriage. The Government believes it is important to respect the consultative and inclusive spirit of the process. It is not about members of Government issuing a stance before people meet. As Ms Gordon-Pamplin has said, the Government wants to listen to the thoughts being advanced by all the people of Bermuda so that nobody feels they are on the outside. This process is about information, consultation, discussion and feedback for the broadest consideration of an issue of public and community importance. The meetings will help the Government determine next steps on the question of same-sex marriage.” The OBA MPs who did not reply to our question were ministers Bob Richards, Craig Cannonier, Trevor Moniz and Grant Gibbons, and backbenchers Sylvan Richards, Cole Simons, Susan Jackson and Jeff Sousa. The OBA MPs who stated they would not comment were ministers Shawn Crockwell and Wayne Scott, and backbenchers Kenneth Bascome and Nandi Outerbridge. The OBA MPs who referred to their party line were Mr Dunkley, Ms Gordon-Pamplin, minister Jeanne Atherden, and backbenchers Glen Smith and Leah Scott. Progressive Labour Party MPs who did not reply were leader Marc Bean, deputy David Burt, Lovitta Foggo, Glenn Blakeney, Walter Roban, House Speaker Randolph Horton, Jamahl Simmons, Kim Wilson and Dennis Lister. PLP MPs who stated they would not comment were Wayne Furbert, Michael Weeks, Walton Brown, Rolfe Commissiong, Lawrence Scott, Zane DeSilva, Michael Scott and Derrick Burgess. Mr Burgess added: “If it comes to Parliament, you will hear from me.” The issue of same-sex equality surfaced in the House in 2006, when former PLP MP Renee Webb’s bill to amend the Human Rights Act prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was rejected, with only one other member speaking out about the issue. In 2012, a bill was brought to the House by former PLP families minister Mr Blakeney, but he said that his party was sensitive to the fact that it was unlikely the Island’s faith-based community would ever favour same-sex marriage. At that time, former PLP estates minister Michael Scott delivered a passionate speech on the importance of giving homosexuals equal protection, with former Premier Dame Jennifer Smith and Mr DeSilva among those speaking out in support of a law change. In 2013, Parliament passed the landmark legislation to include sexual orientation in the Human Rights Act for protection against discrimination. One local lawyer told this newspaper that, if the Marriage Act of 1944 was read in conjunction with the Human Rights Act 1981, a refusal to contract a marriage between two people of the same sex could be considered discriminatory and would therefore be illegal. In a Global Research poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette last month, 48 per cent of Bermuda voters were in favour of same-sex marriage, with 44 per cent against. However, in that poll, 28 per cent said that their opinion of the Bermuda Government would decline if it pushed for legalization of same-sex marriage, with 19 per cent saying their opinion would improve. Another poll, released by Profiles of Bermuda in May, found that 58 per cent of voters opposed same-sex marriage, while 38.6 per cent were in favour of legalization.

November 18. Public officials violated the rules on the spending of taxpayers’ money so often that it became the “norm for which there are no consequences”, according to the latest report from Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews. The Island’s independent fiscal watchdog said the Bermuda Government’s own official financial instructions were regularly disregarded between 2009 and 2012. She uncovered $78.8 million worth of contracts in 2010 and 2011 which were not put out to tender, including $18.1 million in the now-defunct Department of Tourism. In 2010, she found a failure to comply with financial instructions, mainly involving the Ministry of Public Works, in relation to a number of capital projects worth more than $35 million. There was $5 million worth of spending across the government in 2010 without signed contracts or agreements. Pointing out that the instructions exist to “ensure that public money is managed effectively for the intended purpose”, Mrs Matthews said those who signed off on spending without following the rules “should be held accountable for breaches of compliance”. She said her office requested documents to support the spending of $35.5 million on capital contracts and purchases but there were no such documents for $5.2 million of the total figure. “Of the remaining $30.3 million, many failed to comply with the applicable purchasing and approval standards,” Mrs Matthews wrote. “The majority lacked the required approval of Cabinet, did not have agreements or contracts and/or did not follow the basic tendering procedure.” Her report reveals that millions of dollars were spent without the prior approval of the Cabinet, even though financial instructions require all contracts above $50,000 to get such approval. “During 2010, approximately $14 million of expenditures tested did not have the required prior Cabinet approval,” Mrs Matthews said. Unapproved spending included:

• $1.8 million on the commercial courts and Ministry of Finance renovations;

• $1.6 million on a maintenance and stores building;

• $1.4 million on sand and rock;

• $950,000 on renovations at the Department of Human Resources; and

• $902,000 on creating a new government laboratory.

The Auditor-General said the tender process for the commercial courts project was compromised, with the contract eventually going to a bidder who had been initially disqualified due to an invalid application. The permanent secretary (PS) — who is also the accounting officer for capital projects — confirmed to Mrs Matthews that the Public Works Minister approved the bid without senior Works and Engineering staff getting to review any of the bids and without prior Cabinet approval. Another contract worth some $900,000 — for the new central laboratory — was negotiated “with the knowledge of the PS”, rather than tendered. Mrs Matthews described numerous cases in 2010 and 2011 which violated the requirement for prior Cabinet approval. She also detailed how significant contracts were not tendered and millions of dollars were paid out without contracts being signed She said: “It is evident that the policies, procedures and rules pertaining to capital expenditures are being violated to such an extent that it has now become the norm for which there are no consequences. Compliance with the required procedures for the procurement of goods and services reduces the risk of non-performance, fraud and misappropriation. Persons with signing authority should be held accountable for breaches of compliance of the relevant financial instructions and rules. Where appropriate, the existing penalties for not complying with these policies, procedures and rules should be enforced.” Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, said on Monday that the public had “every right to be upset” about the revelations in Mrs Matthews’s report, which documents the results of audits of the Consolidated Fund for the financial years 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, when the Progressive Labour Party was in power.

November 18. The Green family of Bermuda, owners of a major Bermuda hotel and other properties, has announced a $15,000 sponsorship to aid financing of the 2016 Bermuda Agricultural Show. The cultural “institution” has traditionally been hosted by the Government of Bermuda, but was cancelled in 2015 due to financial issues. Andrew Green said in a statement today: “The Ag Show has been an institution in Bermuda for generations and almost all Bermudians have fond memories of it. It offers an opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to get together, share stories and experiences, and participate in friendly competition. Bermuda would not be the same without the Ag Show, and we are very pleased to be able to sponsor this event. We look forward to the show’s return in 2016.” The AG Show Ltd is now a registered charity, established in February for the purposes of holding the annual agricultural exhibition. The charity’s mandate is to ensure there is an operational framework to oversee volunteers and issues relating to planning, strategy, budgeting and financing. It will rely on sponsorships, donations, ticket sales, vendor permit fees and volunteer contributions to fund the show and will not receive funding from the Government. Antwan Albuoy, the charity’s president, said: “The Ag Show welcomes as many as 25,000 attendees over three days and features up to 4,000 exhibitors. Participation in the event includes a large portion of the Island’s population, from seniors who have been attending it since the show’s early days, to schoolchildren and toddlers who get an introduction to things they might not see in their everyday lives. This is an important event that showcases Bermuda’s history and culture and it is with the assistance of generous sponsors like the Green family that we will be able to carry on this tradition. We thank the Green family and all of our supporters for their contribution, and we look forward to seeing everyone at the 2016 show in April.” The Ag Show 2016 will run from April 14 to 16 at the Botanical Gardens in Paget. For information on donations and sponsorships for the show, e-mail

November 18. Healthcare and technology futurist Joe Flower will be the keynote speaker at the Bermuda Captive Conference in 2016. The author of multiple books, he has explored the future of healthcare with clients including the World Health Organisation, the National Health Service in Britain, and state and provisional hospital associations in the US and Canada. Mr Flower has also been a consultant for change with the US Department of Defence, Airbus and ArianneSpace. The 12th annual three-day captive insurance conference, running June 13-15 at the Fairmont Southampton Resort, is expected to attract more than 650 delegates from Bermuda and overseas. Captive insurance management firms and support industries are sponsoring the event, and healthcare risk management is expected to be one of the hot topics. Bermuda-based captives support and estimated 25 per cent of the US medical insurance and reinsurance market, and a growing number have originated from Canada and Latin America. “Bermuda is a leading domicile for healthcare captives and medical malpractice cover, and with so many developments in this space in the US over the last few years, I am very happy to have such a distinguished speaker as Joe here to provide context on what has happened so far and what we should be expecting in this space in the near future,” said David Gibbons, conference chairman. “We have already had considerable interest from risk managers who plan to come to the conference to hear his perspectives.” Mr Flower’s 2012 book Healthcare Beyond Reform: Doing it Right for Half the Cost examined the politics and cost of healthcare systems. A contributing editor and regular columnist at the Healthcare Forum Journal for two decades, he has also written a regular column for Physician Executive, the Journal of the American College of Physician Executives, is the author of articles for the Healthy Cities/Healthy Communities movement, and was a contributing writer for Wired Magazine and a columnist for health websites and Mr Flower’s research into the nature of change in organisations and people led to interviews with top thinkers on organizational change, from Peter Drucker to Peter Senge and Ari de Geus. He also studied chaos theory, Eastern thought and martial arts. Information on the conference is available at

November 18. The multimillion dollar impact of America’s Cup World series on the English city of Portsmouth bodes well for Bermuda, a government minister said yesterday. And Grant Gibbons, the Economic Development Minister, said that the figures for the Bermuda races, held last month, were being worked on and should underscore the value of the event to the Island. A report commissioned by British cup contender Land Rover BAR from financial services firm KPMG in the UK found that the event had generated $71.5 million in economic impact for the entire country, with $89.7 million in advertising value equivalents from the worldwide TV exposure, as well as 730 jobs on a full-time equivalent basis. In addition, the presence of Land Rover BAR’s base in Portsmouth brought $38 million to the local economy, with another $9 million coming from the event itself. Dr Gibbons, who masterminded the bid to bring the America’s Cup to Bermuda, said: “The study clearly shows that the America’s Cup-related activities can make a real economic contribution to a city or a jurisdiction.” He added that the event in Portsmouth, which attracted 250,000 spectators, could not be directly compared to Bermuda, where the numbers are smaller. But he predicted that the event would still make a “significant” impact on the economy. Dr Gibbons said: “These are certainly very encouraging figures from Land Rover BAR. What was interesting was the ratio of the impact of the team having its base there — when you look at that on a proportional basis, it’s an 80/20 ratio. It really validates our Bermuda bid and why the America’s Cup was so attractive. A lot of the economic benefit is really based on having a lot of the teams based here over a two- to three-year period. It’s the teams living here, shopping in stores, eating in restaurants and using mobile phones. These kinds of this are really where we have been seeing, and expect to see in the future, the real value of the America’s Cup to Bermuda.” And Dr Gibbons added that the media value of TV coverage had also been a major factor in Bermuda’s bid to host the Cup. He said: “That’s obviously very much a part of the Bermuda equation as well.” He added that CNN — which has around 300 million viewers worldwide — had run three separate pieces on the Bermuda leg of the World Series races. Dr Gibbons said: “That’s part of what Portsmouth was seeing — attracting business and interest to the city and that will work with Bermuda too. We are pulling together the data from the most recent World Series races and hopefully in the next month or so we will be able to share that information. The Bermuda figures, however, would only include the race event itself, not the wider impact of teams living in and spending in Bermuda. It’s not just visitors and hotels being full — we’re looking at the impact on the business community in terms of additional customers, both local and visitors and the additional spending that was done by the organizers of the America’s Cup and the teams that were here. Front Street was absolutely hopping and it was a tremendous turnout — we’re all absolutely delighted with the enthusiasm shown by Bermudians and locals and those that came from overseas.”

November 17. Bermuda-based Everest Re Group Ltd has entered into a strategic alliance between its US primary specialty insurer, Everest National Insurance Company, and Associated Electric & Gas Insurance Services (Aegis). This new partnership will provide primary admitted coverages to Aegis members, and non-member energy companies, in the utility and related energy industry, including those involved with exploration and production. In a statement, Everest said Everest National would provide a full admitted product set to these clients, including offerings for primary and excess workers’ compensation coverage, general liability, and automobile coverage, written on either a guaranteed cost or loss sensitive basis, subject to underwriting guidelines. The new Aegis-Everest alliance is effective for business from January 1 next year. Jonathan Zaffino, president of Everest National Insurance Company, said: “We are excited to begin this new venture and support its success with our vast reach of admitted product capability and risk transfer solutions, leading claims services and the strength of our balance sheet. We look forward to a long-term and beneficial relationship with Aegis and their member and non-member clients alike.”

November 17. Bermuda’s insurers and reinsurers should brace itself for more terrorist attacks, according to a US-based industry expert. Robert Hartwig of the Insurance Information Institute said that it was open whether the weekend terror attacks in Paris which killed 129 people and injured hundreds more were “the first event in a series” which might target Europe or America. He added: “The question is, and many people believe in the US, it’s not a question of if, it’s a matter of when.” Dr Hartwig said the impact of the Paris attacks on the industry would be “fairly limited. Unfortunately, the largest casualty here was the individuals, shot, killed and injured as opposed to lots of property damage. This was not an event that produced large scale property damage. It’s very difficult in this respect — I don’t expect this event to have any particular effects on property-catastrophe or property liability. It will bring some attention to the vulnerability here in the United States.” He was backed by Bradley Kading, the president and executive officer of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers. Mr Kading said: “The tragedies in Paris are loss of life and we offer our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families. There had been limited insured property loss. Terrorism risk will be elevated in the public’s eye, but for insurers it has been elevated since 9/11. There is an active, growing terrorism risk insurance market. Businesses should protect themselves with insurance. But the tragedies and loss of life are horrifying for us all.” Dr Hartwig said that the US Government had this year renewed its terrorism risk insurance programme. The renewed legislation, first enacted in 2002 after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre the year before, was designed to maintain terrorism insurance market stability, affordability and availability. The updated provisions in the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) for acts of terrorism certified by Government officials will have a trigger which will gradually increase from the original $100 million to $200 million. And the industry-wide retention — the amount of losses covered by the industry through deductibles and co-payments — increases to $37.5 million from the previous figure of $27.5 million. Dr Hartwig said: “Were an event like Paris to occur in the US, there are certain thresholds that would need to be exceeded before federal intervention was considered. Premiums had been coming down, despite the Boston Marathon terrorist bomb attack in 2013. Larger businesses, offices, shopping malls, tend to purchase coverage. Smaller businesses do not. In the States, the risk is seen as partly insurable. Some events are simply not insurable by the private sector. Up to and including a 9/11 event, losses of that magnitude — $35 to $40 billion — would be paid by the private insurance industry.” The Paris-based French insurer association Fédération Française des Sociétés d’Assurances said that victims of the attack — whether French nationals or not — can claim compensation for attacks on French soil from Le Fonds de Garantie des Victimes des Actes de Terrorismes et d’Autres Infractions, The country also has a state-backed reinsurer for property losses caused by terrorism, the Gestion de l’Assurance et de la Réassurance des Risques Attentats et Actes de Terrorisme, also based in Paris, which likely will cover any insured property losses stemming from the attacks.

November 17. A damning report by the Auditor-General underlines the origins of Bermuda’s financial woes, according to the Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance. Bob Richards said the public had “every right to be upset” after the revelations contained in Heather Jacobs Matthews’s report, which documents the results of audits of the Consolidated Fund for the years ending March 31 2010, 2011 and 2012, when the Progressive Labour Party was in power. Among the misdeeds listed in the 315-page document are instances of overpayments, double payments, millions paid for professional services without prior approval, failure to comply with financial instructions and millions paid without signed contracts or agreements. “The Government’s long-term debt as at March 31, 2012, ($1.1 billion) has almost quadrupled what it was four years ago and resulted in annual interest costs of about $71 million for the year ended March 31, 2012,” the document states. When contacted by The Royal Gazette, Mr Richards said: “The report speaks for itself. It’s good to have it revealed to the public, because the Auditor-General has credibility. It’s certainly a very, very low performance insofar as the Government is concerned, and it speaks to the reason why we’re in the hole we’re in financially.” While claiming to be unsurprised by the findings detailed within, Mr Richards added: “It’s the public’s money, and we’re just trying to do the best we can to look after it as though it were our own. We’ve had to be much more disciplined as far as spending is concerned, and to try to rein the beast in. We’re having some success in doing that.” David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, was unavailable for comment. With Mrs Matthews retiring from her position as Auditor-General next year, it was announced yesterday that Bermudian native Heather Thomas would be stepping into the role in May 2016. The report is available online at

November 17. A 20-strong group of artistic volunteers brought a stroke of creativity to Front Street’s No 1 car park on Sunday evening, by teaming up to paint a mural of Bermuda’s flag on a wall. The overnight project was the brainchild of cultural arts movement the Chewstick Foundation, and was intended to celebrate the Island and its culture. “We were thinking about how we could best represent Bermuda,” said Gavin Smith, the founder and executive director of Chewstick. He added that the non-profit organization was looking for partners to participate in future projects. “A big part of our community art programme is to tell the Bermuda story in a beautiful way — one that provokes thought and inspires,” Mr Smith said. He thanked the volunteers for giving up their time and the Corporation of Hamilton for providing the opportunity.

November 17 artwork

See above article

November 17. Unionized workers are seeking clearance to attend next week’s Supreme Court hearings on an injunction against them by the Bermuda Government. The legal action, set for Tuesday through Thursday, stems from marches prompted by a letter on January 23 from Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, ordering a decision on the renewal of furlough days for government workers. According to a statement issued by the Bermuda Trade Union Congress (BTUC), the Government threatened further legal action if public service employees turned out to attend the court hearings. The Government responded that workers had been told they were free to view the proceedings, as long as they were approved to leave work. The BTUC said that the letters, dated October 23 and November 10, also “denied permission for executive officers of the unions who are public officers to attend the court hearing”. The BTUC told public workers to stay on the job pending a ruling to be made by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley on the first day of the hearing. In response, however, the Government said workers had never been denied permission. A spokeswoman said: “Instead, our concern has always been that they should not unlawfully absent themselves from work. The head of the Civil Service wrote to the BTUC member unions on October 23 stating that public sector workers could attend court proceedings should they ask for and obtain the permission from their supervisors. Counsel reiterated this position on November 10. In fact, the very essence of these court proceedings involves the fact that workers in the public service absented themselves from work in January 2015 for three days without permission." Calling the tenor of the BTUC’s remarks “unfortunate”, the spokeswoman added that unions had been invited on October 23 to resolve the dispute without resorting to court, but that no response had been forthcoming.

November 17. A $60 million plan for a hotel and all-weather entertainment complex at the Victualling Yard in Dockyard has been shelved after the consortium behind the venture failed to secure the required funding in time. Wilson Allen Architecture & Interior Design had been selected as the front-runner to develop the historic site, but its deadline to deliver a return-on-investment case, already extended by three months, has now come and gone. Andrew Dias, the general manager of the West End Development Corporation (Wedco), has said that letters had been sent to the two other short listed developers, including a group from Boston that is developing hotels around the world. Mr Dias said it was “not yet appropriate” to name the group and would not say whether it had made a case for a hotel in Dockyard. However, he did say: “They are an overseas group that has been developing hotels globally. We feel that they fit closest to Wedco’s development plan. Part of our plan is to attract people to the Dockyard area all year round. It could be residential through the private sector, businesses or a hotel. The challenge in Dockyard is we are a cruise ship port and we are moving people out all over Bermuda. We would like to extend the shoulder months to have more activity, whether it is through a hotel or through residents who live, work and play in the area or on a commercial basis. You need a reason for people to be here.” The original plans by Jon Wilson Allen, the principal, had included a lavish glass dome roof covering the Victualling Yard, housing an all-weather entertainment complex as well as a 125-room hotel. Mr Dias said that, while the consortium was still interested in pursuing the plan, he could not “leave it open-ended for ever.” He told The Royal Gazette: “We have an ROI that expired at the end of October. We followed up with the Jon Wilson Allen group and, while they still have a desire to do it, the financing has been more of a challenge than they had anticipated. They were trying to secure funding from various different sources, which to date has not come to fruition. We felt it was time to not continue with the MOU [memorandum of understanding] we had in place. It doesn’t mean they do not have the capability of putting a plan together; if it is completed, we encourage them to come back to us. However, at that time, they would have no exclusivity to the negotiation time frame. We have sent out letters to the other applicants and I am waiting on responses — it has been only a matter of days.” Mr Dias said that Wedco believed that only the first two choices in the request for proposal process “had the ability and possibly the funding” to proceed with. The corporation is already planning to “clean up” the Victualling Yard and pull down the dilapidated roofs on the surrounding buildings. Mr Dias said that if that nothing came of the existing applicants, Wedco would continue its search for another developer. “I would encourage anyone who not only has an idea but the capability and financing to please provide us with some information,” he said. Asked what the chances of a development being completed in time for the America’s Cup in 2017, he added: “My gut feeling is that there will not be time to get something there in time due to the time it takes to come up with a design, getting it through planning, consulting with the public, government and stakeholders, and getting it all completed. To do that by early 2017 is pretty tough, at best. Anyone can approach Wedco if they have a solid business plan and show how it will fit in with the overall area. We want to do something; we want to get it cleaned up, used and back to its former glory, and be able to create some activity.”

November 17. A reconfiguration of services is being carried out by the Oral Health Section of the Department of Health. Clients will be prioritized based on current ongoing treatment and overall clinical need under the new system, which is intended to ensure available resources are appropriately invested and utilized. The Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment said every effort will be made to ensure that clients in the midst of an ongoing procedure are seen through to completion. All clients who are referred on will be provided with a list of private dentists who are accepting new patients, while staff of the Oral Health Section will collaborate with the private sector to make patient transition as smooth as possible.

November 17. The thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba could pose a threat to Bermuda’s tourist industry, an expert has warned. However, Leonard Jackson said the Island’s appeal to wealthy holidaymakers and relatively low crime rate was cause for optimism in an increasingly competitive market. The United States and Cuba restored diplomatic relations in July, after President Barack Obama called for Congress to lift its embargo in his State of the Union address last December. The embargo, which came into effect after Fidel Castro rose to power in 1959 and adopted a pugnacious approach to American interests, remains in place for the time being. But with the countries having reopened embassies on one another’s soil, amid other conciliatory gestures, it appears only a matter of time before American citizens can enjoy unrestricted travel to Cuba. Dr Jackson, a director of hotel finance and investment at Georgia State University, will give a free lecture tonight from 6.30pm to 9pm at the Bermuda College North Hall lecture theatre (G301) on the anticipated boom of visitors to Cuba, and its knock-on effect for the Caribbean and Bermuda. Fidel Castro, now 89 and in ailing health, handed the presidential reins to younger brother Raul in 2008. Raul has taken a more level-headed approach to international relations, which in turn has helped to restore amicable ties with the US. “It’s an evolving political landscape,” he said, stressing that the American public’s hostility, in his experience, was aimed towards Fidel Castro rather than the island nation itself. The Jamaican-born Dr Jackson said the passage of time had also helped both countries, as age-old tensions failed to transfer down the generations. “‘Millennials have no connection with the Cold War and its politics,” he said. “Furthermore, they’re very powerful and they think it’s socially irresponsible to isolate countries.” He foresees mass tourism coming to Cuba within 18 months, as American tourists give in to curiosity surrounding the country. “The mystique and intrigue of being a colonial country for 50-plus years: that’s what will drive people to Cuba. It has all the resources that the Caribbean islands and Bermuda have. It has natural beauty, more than 2,000 miles of coastline, colonial architecture and a diverse and distinct culture,” added the 47-year-old. “They also have a well-established arts and entertainment industry, they have opera, jazz and world-renowned Latin musicians.” But he insisted that Bermuda boasted several aces up its sleeve compared to several of its nearby counterpart destinations. “Like all the Caribbean destinations, Bermuda will lose some market share with the rise of Cuban tourism,” said Dr Jackson, “although it’s also somewhat protected, as people who go there tend to be affluent. Plus it doesn’t suffer from a high crime rate like some other Caribbean destinations such as Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Cuba also doesn’t have a high crime rate relative to those islands - but with mass tourism that can change. They will have to set up safeguards.

November 17. Bermuda must enter the 21st century to revitalize its tourism industry, the Bermuda Tourism Summit heard. Information sessions such as ‘How to Wow Authentically’, ‘The Social Session’, and ‘What Millennials Want in Meetings and Events’ indicated a need to embrace social media and marketing, with speakers all offering similar advice that suggests the Island’s floundering industry may be stuck in a rut. The panel included Shiona Turini, a fashion editor, consultant and advocate for the Bermuda Tourism Authority, and Mark Hranek, of Condé Nast Traveller, who assisted attendees in the pursuit of “clicks, shares and retweets” and offered tips on how they could augment their brand image. Mr Hranek drove home the importance of “shaping stories” in today’s industry and grasping new platforms such as Snapchat for “the next generation of consumer”. “It just shows that you’re relevant,” he said. Mr Hranek dismissed former models that target senior travelers, saying: “In 2024, guess what? They’re dead. You cannot ignore the relevance of the next generation as a customer. Don’t assume that because you have this ‘old school’ it will only appeal to the old school. Millennials are starved for authenticity.” He said for him, the appeal of social media is that you can communicate directly with people. “I love that engagement,” he said. “That engagement creates buzz and excitement and floods of great imagery. Instagram is not that far off from ‘click to buy’. The technology is there.” If embraced early, the opportunity would be a game-changer, he said. JP Lespinasse, chief marketing officer of mobile streaming app CÜR Music, said: “Even if you don’t see the millennial paying you out of their pocket book, they might have had more of an influence in the decision-making than you realize.” Mr Lespinasse asked for an “intelligible” representation of the Island, adding: “I don’t know what fish is in the fishcakes. Or what’s in the rum swizzle. Teach us how to do it. You love it. Make us love it too.” Mr Lespinasse also urged businesses to activate followers as marketing agents. Adopting the traditional attire of Bermuda shorts and long socks, Mr Hranek said: “This place has such rich history, amazing style, and it’s so close. The heritage and storytelling here is so rich. I keep using that word, ‘stories’.” Clifton Webb, a marketing executive with HSBC Bermuda, called for “authenticity and emotion”, saying: “It has its own look, feel, food, taste — its own people. I’m hesitant to tell people I live in paradise. Look at your business through the eyes of a visitor. Embrace that and share that.” Premier Michael Dunkley said it was imperative that we become a “top-of-mind destination for those who influence today’s trends and market decisions.” The Premier gave the keynote speech at the summit, at the Fairmont Southampton, and addressed the challenges of an industry he described as “critical to Bermuda. It is an important economic driver and is a key employer of Bermudians in many different careers,” he said. “For many years tourism and international business have been referred to as the twin pillars of Bermuda’s economy. This characterization is more than just a statement of fact: it is a call to action. Leadership required innovation, flexibility and recognition to succeed, but added that the Island’s tourism industry “fell short of the mark” in these regards. We ignored trends, changes in socio-economic demographics, and we did not pay attention to the advent of new competitors who improved what we invented. The lesson of a downturn or recession for business has been one of developing better business models, becoming more efficient with better customer service or you do not survive. The lesson for tourism following the decline of our fortunes is no different. We can no longer trade on what we were and hope to inspire a new generation of travelers for whom Bermuda represents ‘your grandmother’s holiday.’ Why is it that although we are just over 700 miles from New York and Boston or 90 minutes by plane, we cannot break the cycle of low air arrivals and a tourism economy shored up by cruise visitors? Is the answer to be found in increased budgets for marketing and advertising? Is the answer to be found in a market saturation strategy so that Bermuda is on every channel, every day, everywhere? We must be a choice for travelers again. Bermuda must be relevant to them and their lifestyles. We cannot achieve the revitalization of tourism by reminding today’s travelers why their parents and grandparents fell in love with Bermuda. We must make them fall in love with Bermuda for themselves.” Vic Isley, the BTA’s chief sales and marketing officer, also underlined the importance of “introducing Bermuda to a new generation of traveller”, again centred around “sharing your Bermuda stories.”

November 16. New laws to encourage investment in hotel development will go before MPs in the upcoming Parliamentary year. The Tourism Investment Incentive Act, which is expected to replace the existing Hotel Concessions Act, will also provide incentives for tourism-related products. In last Friday's Throne Speech, the Governor, George Fergusson, said the new legislation was designed to encourage job creation and training for Bermudian hospitality workers. He also detailed the next stage of the Bermuda Government's plans to establish a domestic gaming industry on the Island. "Progress in rebuilding Bermuda's tourism industry can be seen in hotel developments moving forward across the Island. The work is creating jobs and setting the stage for Bermudian employment opportunities over the long term. Integral to this effort is the Ministry of Tourism Development's work with the recently formed Bermuda Gaming Commission to establish and develop a domestic gaming industry. To that end, the Government will introduce regulations for the administration and regulation of gaming." Listing a string of new hotel developments, including Pink Beach, Morgan's Point and the proposed St George's hotel, Mr Fergusson said: "These are significant developments that promise job and career opportunities for Bermudians while setting the stage for a tourism revival that was nowhere in sight a few short years ago." He also unveiled a series of proposed amendments to customs legislation that would properly accommodate Bermudas contractual obligations in hosting the 2017 America's Cup. "Additional amendments will exempt the ACBDA from paying land tax for leased land at the Royal Navy Dockyard that is used as a venue for the America's Cup. This will ensure that Government grant monies are spent on development rather than land tax. Other initiatives will be announced later in this Parliamentary year that build upon the recently held Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series events and help to ensure the success of Bermuda's hosting of the 2017 America's Cup."

November 16. Electricity in Bermuda may become greener and cheaper in the coming 12 months as part of a regulatory Government overhaul. In Friday’s Throne Speech, the Governor, George Fergusson, outlined plans to introduce the Electricity Act, which is aimed at making services “environmentally sustainable, secure, reliable and affordable.” Belco offered its support to the proposed Act, intended to break the power firm’s longstanding monopoly on the Island by allowing competition from other providers. Meanwhile, Family Centre executive director Martha Dismont called electricity price-reduction measures “critically important” to helping struggling families. “The legislation is part of a strategic plan to allow competition in the generation of electricity,” Mr Fergusson said. He added that the act sought to introduce proper fuel regulation, criticizing the existing model as “minimal and not transparent to the consumer. Better regulation can mean lower prices and help support Bermuda’s goals on greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mr Fergusson, who also announced plans to start the bidding process for a solar plant at the disused peninsula at LF Wade International Airport, known to many as the finger. “The project, which will be launched in 2016, has the potential to produce 20 per cent of Bermuda’s peak demand for electricity during daylight hours,” said Mr Fergusson, reiterating a point made last year’s Throne Speech in which he welcomed proposals for the 56-acre site. A Belco spokeswoman said the company welcomed the Bermuda Government’s efforts to lower costs and improve its carbon footprint. “The comments in the Throne Speech are consistent with the approach that is being taken to transform the industry, as outlined in Government’s Energy Policy and previous statements. Belco shares Government’s objectives of environmental sustainability and a secure, reliable and affordable electricity system which, in order to achieve, does require regulatory transformation.” Mrs Dismont said electricity costs had spiraled in recent times to such an extent that she had witnessed families “having to make a choice between paying the electricity bill or putting food on the table. Our problem isn’t electricity itself, it’s that our families are struggling to meet their basic necessities. Any way in which Government looks at how to reduce the cost of electricity is critically important, so I have to applaud them for doing that.”

November 16. A new pilot scheme allowing fathers to stay overnight at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital after their babies are born will benefit only those who can afford or are allotted a private room. Guidelines were quietly rolled out last month which allow new dads, who previously had to go home when visiting hours ended at 8pm, to stay with their partners and help to look after their newborns all night. But the Bermuda Hospitals Board admitted yesterday that many families would be unable to benefit from the change in rules due to a shortage of private rooms. A spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette: "This is a pilot project and may or may not be implemented permanently. BHB recognizes that partners should be on hand to help care for their child and support the mother once their child is born. It is available to everyone, provided there is space. If there is more than one mother in a room, the service is not extended. There were only two private rooms on the maternity ward and they could not be booked or reserved ahead of time. They are allotted on a first come, first served basis. It is true that this service is only available where there is only one mother in the room. It can be that more than two mothers with insurance for private rooms are in maternity at the same time, but it is also often the case that mothers with insurance for public rooms, room alone. Mothers with public or semi-private room insurance can pay the difference for a private room if there is availability. BHB is of the view that it is better to allow this service despite the drawback, rather than not allow it. The cost of a private room is between $1,350 and $2,460 for a five-night stay, depending on a patient's health insurance plan. Patients must pay the whole amount upfront but they receive a refund if they stay for fewer than five nights. Doula Fiona Dill, who regularly acts as a birth companion for women during and after labour at KEMH, told The Royal Gazette: "The hospital have introduced a policy but my understanding is that it is entirely discretionary. It's not a blanket policy and, although in principle it is open to everybody, in practice it is impossible because of the facilities. I think this is really important for the public to know as I have had many excited mums contact me and be excited about the new policy but I have to go back to them and let them know that it is not guaranteed. So it's not something that couples will be able to go in and demand." Mrs Dill said it was clear the hospital had recognized a need and come up with a solution. The staff at the hospital are very aware of the shortcomings of the system and have listened to the complaints and needs of birthing women and their partners, which is great. They are on the ball and they are trying to make changes. But, despite their best efforts, the reality is that the facilities are not ideal and it will need much more than a change of policy to make this really work for everybody." The guidelines for the pilot scheme, which are available on BHB's website, state that fathers or other partners can stay in the mother's room to provide support but must not sleep on a bed, take a shower or wander in the hallways. They must sign a form which reads: "I understand that my stay is at the discretion of BHB staff and room availability." The BHB spokeswoman said: "Ideally, BHB would love to have private rooms for all mothers as well as comfortable bedding and washroom facilities for the partners to spend the night. However, due to financial constraints, this is not possible."

November 16. Hospital authorities are being urged to let fathers stay overnight with their partners on KEMH's maternity ward before and after their babies are born. A new pilot programme lets dads and other partners stay to give support to mothers after their newborns arrive, but it does not include letting them stay past the 8pm cut-off time for visitors if their partners are not yet in full-blown labour. Fathers usually must leave the maternity ward at that time if their partners have been admitted but are not deemed to be in active labour, meaning many women go through the early stages of labour at KEMH without their husband or partner by their side. Jennie Foster Skelton, a mother of two, inadvertently had her second child at home as a direct result, she believes, of the 8pm rule. She and her husband Gary went to the maternity ward in August 2012 after her waters partially broke. Though she was having painful contractions, she was told she was not in active labour and that she should be admitted but her husband would have to go home. "It was minutes after 8pm. Please, I don't want to labour on my own," said the 37-year-old, of Pembroke. "They said you do have the option to discharge yourself. So I did." Mrs Foster Skelton went home but her contractions quickly escalated and she gave birth to daughter Emily on the floor at about 10.45pm. "Gary had called 911 but the ambulance didn't reach us quickly enough," she said. "This was my second child; I knew what labour felt like. I would not have chosen a home birth. I'm a doctor's daughter." She said the hospital should "absolutely" change its policy to let fathers stay after 8pm during early labour. "My husband was as white as a sheet for days afterwards. He was so worried that he could have done something wrong. That was as a direct consequence of the rule. The doctor and nurses were all wonderful and helpful but the rule itself was an issue." Her husband added: "In retrospect, I'm very grateful for the experience, but I wouldn't have chosen it because of the potential dangers." Another mother, who is pregnant with her second child, told The Royal Gazette about her experience at KEMH in July last year, when she gave birth to her daughter. "Despite experiencing very painful contractions, I was told that I was not yet in active labour by the midwives, and that my husband needed to leave," said the 36-year-old, who did not wish to be named. "I ended up laboring alone in the hospital room until it was time to push and my husband was hurriedly called back to the hospital. Sending my husband home only served to heighten my anxiety in a situation that was already the most stressful and painful of my life. I am relieved that the hospital now allows fathers to stay with their wives and babies after the birth. However, allowing them to stay with their wives throughout the laboring process is equally important. Until that happens, my excitement over the birth of my second child this spring is tempered by my concern that she arrive during visiting hours." Mothers are regularly admitted to the maternity ward when they are not considered to be in active labour, for example, if birth is being induced or if their waters have broken. A BHB spokeswoman said: "King Edward VII Memorial Hospital has a labour room and a maternity ward. A partner has always been allowed to stay with a laboring mother throughout the process  to birth of the baby. After the baby is born, the mother and baby are transferred to the maternity ward. On the maternity ward it used to be that partners could not stay beyond 8pm. This is where the [new scheme] is being piloted. Partners can only take advantage of this service if the baby has been born." She did not respond to a question about visiting rules for fathers whose partners are admitted to the ward but are not in active labour. In 2014, 568 babies were born at KEMH.  The public can e-mail suggestions for improving the pilot scheme to

November 16. A review of pension arrangements by the Bermuda Government could adversely affect employees’ eventual windfalls, according to statistician Cordell Riley. Speaking after the Throne Speech, Mr Riley claimed that “what has not been said is more important that what has been said” regarding pension matters. Reading the speech at the opening of Parliament, the Governor, George Fergusson, said: “To address the challenges of an ageing population and to ensure that workers have financial independence and security upon their retirement, the Government will conduct a review to determine whether public and private pension contributions are set at appropriate levels.” After the review, amendments may then be introduced to the National Pension Scheme (Occupational Pensions) Act 1998 and Regulations. These amendments will provide for significant changes to the supervision and regulation of pension plans and their service providers,” Mr Fergusson said. In response, Mr Riley said: “It sounds like the Government may finally move from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan,” adding that his theory was speculative but “within the bonds of reason.” A defined benefit plan takes factors such as an employee’s salary and their total years with a company to formulate a regular payment system once they turn 65. “On the other hand, a defined contribution plan specifies how much money will go into a retirement plan today,” Mr Riley said, adding that the amount was typically either a percentage of an employee’s salary or a specific dollar amount which may be invested in mutual funds. A person’s retirement is therefore dependent on how much an employer contributes to the plan, how much an employee puts in the plan, how long the funds are left invested and how well those investments perform. “Defined contribution plans are less costly to run since there are no long-term obligations to employees,” Mr Riley said. “With an ageing population and a shrinking working population, it is easy to see why organisations who still have defined benefit plans are moving away from them. It is equally easy to see why employees would want to hold on to them.” Jason Hayward, the president and treasurer of the Bermuda Public Services Union, suggested that the review should focus on helping elderly citizens. “Pensions are the sole income for many of our seniors after retirement,” Mr Hayward said. “I would support a review that aims to provide seniors with a meaningful pension upon retirement. While both employers and employees may be adverse to an increase in contributions, these measures would hopefully reduce the number of seniors needing financial assistance and provide seniors with adequate incomes after retirement.”

November 16. The discussion over centralized dispatching for taxis looks set to reach conclusion after the Throne Speech alluded that it would be introduced in 2016. The Governor, George Fergusson, announced that efforts to rebuild Bermuda's tourism industry would heavily involve the Island's taxi drivers, as plans to create a centralized system using modern technology were already under way. The new system promises to benefit both driver and customer through the use of a mobile booking service that will expand payment methods and improve response times. Leo Simmons, president of the Bermuda Taxi Owners and Operators Association, has approved the initiative and believes central dispatching will help to unite members of the industry. "It needed to be done. Even though we're all taxi drivers, sometimes we can be divided over which dispatch company we subscribe to. It eliminates all of that." However, he maintains that there needs to be an independent group running the office. "It needs to be done in a way where no one individual benefits. People resist change. We have to be more willing to address change. We have to put aside our individual grievances for the betterment of the industry." The initiative has been met with much resistance since it was first discussed in 2002, but despite strikes and often an outright refusal to comply, it resurfaces as frequently as the technology that supports it evolves ? a rate the out-of-date industry cannot match. It is now forced to adapt as it faces the threat of Uber-like car services. Michael Ray, the president and chairman of BTA Dispatching Ltd, said he welcomed the proposal from the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport. "We were the first and only company to be compliant for the last nine years," he told The Royal Gazette. "As far as digital dispatching, we have always been compliant. We've embraced it since 2005 when we launched and have always been supporters of new technology." Mr Ray added that he had plans to reveal new technology, which he believes will enhance the entire experience. "I know the model I would like to see for a central dispatch,. I'm interested to see what they mean; how it would look."

November 16. A Bermudian teacher in Paris last night described her “terrifying” ordeal locked in a restaurant on the same block where terrorists opened fire in one of a string of attacks across the French capital. Tiffany-Latoya Smith, 28, was enjoying an evening out with a friend to watch her fiancé play in a band at Le Royal Est when news of the violence broke. “It was very terrifying,” she told The Royal Gazette. “We had to spend the night on lockdown hiding in the restaurant. My heart really goes out to the people who lost loved ones. It’s horrific to know you could have been next.” At least 129 people were killed on Friday when terrorists attacked a popular concert hall, busy restaurants and set off bombs outside the Stade de France football stadium. Ms Smith, a foreign language teacher who moved to Paris in 2011, described the events as “horrific, frightening and really sad”, adding: “People are still in search of their loved ones. Yesterday [Saturday] they were slowly identifying bodies but people are still missing. I’m less fearful today [Sunday] but I am still in shock. I was blessed that my restaurant was not touched although it was only eight minutes away.” Ms Smith received a text message from her colleague at about 10.40pm, to tell her attacks were taking place and urging her to stay safe. She said her “heart fell to my stomach” when she found out that restaurants in the tenth district, where Le Royal Est is located, were targeted. “The band stopped,” she said. “I looked at my fiancé; he knew something was going on.” The news spread quickly and about half of the 80 people in the venue left immediately, despite the owner urging them to stay. Ms Smith said: “He immediately closed down the restaurant with iron shutters and stacked all the chairs in front of the doors and the windows. I remember them telling us, especially my fiancé, to stay away from the doors and windows even though they were covered.” She said the owner told the band to stop playing so as not to attract attention, turned off the lights and ushered the remaining patrons to the centre of the restaurant. “He was really concerned about keeping us safe,” Ms Smith said, adding that they could hear sirens and saw the flashing lights of police cars outside as they watched the television in the bar area. “Everyone was scared,” she said. “They were calm but you could tell in their eyes and in some of their words that they were scared. Apparently I had a blank face — that’s what my friends told me. We were all worried for each other but looking out for each other.” Ms Smith was able to talk to her mother and reassure her that she was safe, before deciding to save the battery on her phone. “I wanted to tell her before she randomly turned on the television and found out. I did not want her to panic,” she said. By 3am the streets appeared quiet and Ms Smith said that some people decided to leave but were again urged to stay inside. Together with her fiancé and friend, Ms Smith made “a go for it” at about 4.30am and another 20 people left with them. “I’ve never seen Paris so empty before,” she said about her journey home. “We counted maybe six cars at different times. Everyone was rushing to go home.” Ms Smith said the roads remained empty yesterday, with department stores, museums, libraries and any other place that would normally attract large crowds closed and likely to remain so for the next couple of days. There was a heavy police and military presence as thousands paid tribute to the victims at Le Place de la République, outside Notre Dame Cathedral and the restaurants that were attacked, “as they did during Charlie Hebdo as well.” Ms Smith said she had received many messages from friends across the globe but wanted to reassure them that she is all right. “People are coming together as a country at this time. The Eiffel Tower is still in darkness but other monuments in the world are lit up in blue, white and red. That was really touching.” Bermuda joined a worldwide display of solidarity for France by observing a moment of silence before both World Rugby Classic games on Saturday, and it was announced last night that the flags on all government buildings would be flown at half mast as a mark of respect for those killed. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, along with the Opposition and the Governor, George Fergusson, have condemned the attacks and offered their support to France. Nicole Haziza, the honorary French Consul, thanked them on behalf of the Island’s French community for “expressing their support in these difficult times. I also thank the residents of Bermuda, who have joined the people of France in mourning the victims of terrorism. Your show of solidarity and expressions of condolence have been deeply moving.”

November 16. Residents with Alzheimer's disease and dementia can now enjoy a host of therapeutic and recreational activities thanks to a three-year funding commitment from insurance company Zurich. Action on Alzheimer's and Dementia (AAD) has been able to more than triple the number of activities it offers its clients each week and expand to two new locations, St David's and Somerset. The move comes after the Bermuda Legion announced it was aiming to create a residential facility for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's. While there is no known cure for Alzheimer's, studies have shown that activity and engagement with one's environment, learning, socializing and music are effective, even more so than medication, in some cases. AAD has been able to introduce or expand programmes such as music and movement, music therapy, art therapy, games, modified sports, animal interaction, drumming and boccia. The charity had a limited number of programmes running out of the Peace Lutheran Church in Paget and WindReach Recreational Village in Warwick, but now has additional programmes at the Chapel of Ease in St David's, and Allen Temple Church, Somerset. The donation will also allow it to offer services such as transport. Before receiving the funding, AAD ran two morning sessions and one afternoon session each week, now the only open weekday slot is on a Wednesday morning and even then there is an activity once a month. Zurich has also introduced a programme that allows its employees to volunteer a certain number of hours to the charity each month. Elizabeth Stewart, who founded AAD in 2012, said: "The goal was always to expand the programmes if there was demand and we knew that people couldn't come from the different ends of the Island. We also knew there were a lot of smaller care homes that probably didn't have structured activities ? it is required for only the larger homes to have a specific activities coordinator. We wanted to make it more accessible for people and we really want to encourage people to take advantage of what we are offering ? it is all free as a result of Zurich's funding and we are hugely grateful to them." Close to 100 people used the programmes before the donation and Ms Stewart believes there is potential for many more to now come on board. There are about 1,000 Alzheimer's and dementia sufferers in Bermuda, which is roughly on a par with those suffering from cancer. Krista Tatem heads up the charity's activity programme in her role as activation specialist and programme coordinator. "We are able to tap into the care home and rest home population now. The beauty of that is that the care staff can see how we model engaging with the clients. There is an education built into it. The programmes are designed to tap into all of their needs, whether it be social, intellectual, spiritual, physical. We know that these activities help with behaviors associated with dementia, such as anxiety, loss of memory, spatial awareness and sense of time. They are dramatically decreased through activity. There is a residual effect which helps the caregivers as well, they need as much support as possible." Andrew Vaucrosson, a Zurich volunteer, has started taking his mother, Margaret, to some of the programmes. "I am dealing with a family member who is in the early stages and so I thought it would be a helpful thing," he said. "My mom likes it. It is important she gets to come out with other people of her age and it is very stimulating. People get isolated in their own homes, which can make the problem worse. Anyone interested in the programmes cam e-mail or call 505 3679.

November 16. Girls have been invited to join the Bermuda Scout Association for the first time in the organization's history. The move comes after a new Explorers group was set up for older scouts wanting to continue with the programme, leader Brad Woodings told The Royal Gazette. “As a member of Explorer Scouts the young people will take part in a wide range of activities to gain a variety of skills and knowledge,” he said. “Learning more about themselves by not only taking responsibility for themselves, but others as well. At the same time enjoying the experience, which will prepare them for the future.” Mr Woodings said the Explorer programme in Britain accepted girls and now Bermuda was following suit. He added that previous experience with guiding was not required and that there had been a lot of interest, especially from girls taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award (DoE). “We would really like to see a Queen Scout from Bermuda again”, Mr Woodings added. The Queen’s Scout Award is the highest accolade in the scouting world, requiring members to complete a host of activities to become eligible. It has not been handed out to a Bermudian for the past three decades, Mr Woodings said. The 24th Bermuda Explorer Group, which is accepting scouts between the ages of 14 and 18, aims to further develop the skills the scouts have already acquired. According to Mr Woodings, the group was set up because scouts who were moving from middle school to high school and taking part in the DoE Award wanted to continue with their scouting activities but had no option to do so. “I am quite excited,” Mr Woodings said. “I’ve been involved for a few years with the local scouts. I went all the way through the programme in the United States and I am an Eagle Scout.” He was also previously involved with the Explorer programme and a ranger at a scout camp for two years, as well as a member of the 11th Bermuda Churchill group in Somerset. The Explorer Scouts group is now looking for eager participants — they have six with another six joining soon — and volunteers who are willing to invest their time. Mr Woodings is calling on former scouts and leaders to help run the group, but he added that anyone willing to work with students would be welcome and no previous scouting experience was required. For more information e-mail, call Mr Woodings on 334-2925 or Linda Tailford on 505-1948.

November 16. Farmers and dairy owners have reacted with cautious optimism to a pledge by the Bermuda Government to revitalize the Island's agricultural sector. In the Throne Speech, the Governor, George Fergusson, announced that a Crop Sector Strategy would be completed in the coming year, while a Dairy Sector Strategy would also be undertaken during the same period. He also outlined proposals to introduce a new policy allowing the Department of Environmental Protection to facilitate importation of new sources of agricultural plant material at potentially lower cost. Farmers welcomed the announcement, but maintained that much more needed to be done to support the industry. Tom Wadson, who runs Wadson's Farm in Southampton, told The Royal Gazette: "While I applaud the sentiment of reducing our reliance on imported produce, what we need is action. A lot more work still needs to be done to address sustainability in Bermuda, and too much agricultural land is still being used for development. Developers need to bear in mind that we cannot farm without land, and if land is continually being taken out of production we are doomed as a profession. I'm encouraged by the idea of a new policy to help bring in new sources of agricultural plants, but its not just about planting a field full of onions, there is a bigger umbrella to address here. The problems in our industry go deeper than a Crop Sector Strategy, which was last done in 2002 and never acted on." Lidia Mederios, who together with her husband Valter, runs Green Land Dairy, also urged the Government to provide more support for the farming sector. "It is important in this day and age to promote back-to-earth basics. We have forgotten how to live closer to the earth and consume foods that are alive, fresh and full of strength and vitality. If the Government gives farmers more support and opportunity to provide Bermudians with healthy, Bermuda-grown fruits, vegetables and fresh milk, we won't need to consume products that are sprayed with pesticides or contain growth hormones." During the Throne Speech, Mr Fergusson also unveiled the Government's plans to develop a national water strategy as well as conduct a feasibility study to reduce horticulture waste at the Marsh Folly facility.

November 16. Alternative and third-party capital is being used outside the traditional area of catastrophe bonds, experts have said. And the reinsurance industry is increasingly seeing alternative cash as a complementary type of additional capacity. PwC Bermuda managing director David Gibbons said: “There continues to be significant growth in the ILS market reflecting the abundance of capital still available and the attractiveness of this market as a means of diversification. We are seeing a shift away from the growth being in the more traditional catastrophe bond space and catastrophe covers to more complex structures and more diverse property and casualty lines. However, cat bonds are still an important and active piece of the ILS market.” Mr Gibbons added that there continued to be “significant interest” in the life sector — and that the variety of products offered had “very different liquidity and return dynamics” and were attractive to a growing segment of the market. He was speaking during last week’s annual Bermuda Reinsurance Conference, sponsored by PwC Bermuda and ratings service Standard & Poor’s. Co-founder and managing principal of Fermat Capital Management, John Seo, said he saw alternative capital as complementary to traditional reinsurers — particularly in closing the insurance gap. “I definitely see it as a complement and the protection gap is really the biggest place I believe alternative will play. The protection gap by definition is actually systemic risk — these are risks that are so big from single events that can’t all possibly be covered. So I do think it’s a complement, and in particular how I think it’s going to break out is you are going to see more alternative capital providing coverage on an index or parametric basis.” Mr Seo added that bigger losses are incurred through business interruption and less on the physical damage side. Craig Wenzel, a senior vice-president with XL Group, said: “I think there are plenty of things the alternative capital market can do that traditional reinsurers and insurers are sometimes loath to do — those channels aren’t set up properly to do that — but they are also looking at us to provide leadership in underwriting and understanding risk and packaging it in the most appropriate way.” AlphaCat Managers’ CEO Lixin Zeng, believes traditional capital and alternative capital will find equilibrium in the long-term.

November 15. The businesses and residents of flood-hit Mill Creek Road have expressed their dissatisfaction at being ignored in Friday's Throne Speech. But, after meeting with a government representative, the group hopes to embark on a new course of action by the end of the month. Last week, Ed Faries of Tops Ltd spoke to The Royal Gazette on behalf of the 20-person protest group about the issue, which has been rumbling on for 13 years. He claimed that flooding in the Mill Creek area had worsened to the point that it was endangering lives, and urged the Bermuda Government to finally fix the issue. "Let's say an accident happened right now and the road was flooded. An ambulance can't make it, so what next ? A boat?" said Mr Faries, adding that severe flooding cost companies as much as $40,000 in business each day, However, a Public Works spokeswoman said that the flooding caused by the canal was a long-term challenge. "Whatever work is done needs to be carefully considered to avoid a serious knock-on effect to other areas or neighboring properties," she added. The matter was not addressed by Governor George Fergusson at the opening of Parliament on Friday morning. "We are disappointed that provisions were not made in the Throne Speech for the canal infrastructure upgrades," said Mr Faries, speaking on behalf of Mill Creek Road businesses and residents. "However, we are pleased that Government has agreed to present us with a plan by November 30. We hope that funds are allocated to the canal in the next budget."

November 15. A trip to England in September by the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport cost almost $7,000. Shawn Crockwell attended the annual London International Shipping Week 2015 Convention from September 5 to 11. He traveled with Permanent Secretary Francis Richardson and Gamaralage Nawaratne, the director of maritime administration. According to the Bermuda Government's travel expenses website, the total cost of the trip amounted to $6,980.75. The event attracted the highest level government and shipping leaders from Britain and around the world, the website stated. It hosted more than 80 industry functions and networking opportunities for leaders across all sectors of the international shipping industry, including owners, ship managers, regulators, bankers, lawyers and more. "Bermuda had a primary role in organising and hosting the Red Ensign Group reception that was held on the evening of September 9, 2015," the website added. "Bermuda was also well represented by local stakeholders including Conyers Dill and Pearman, MJM Limited and Bermuda Business Development Agency." According to the website, $4,749.75 was spent on flights, $1,731 on accommodation, $400 on meals and $100 on ground transportation.

November 15. A new women’s golf event has been added to the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s calendar. The Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA) will bring a contingent of its membership to the Island for group golf vacations in March 2016 and 2017 — the time of year traditionally known as the “shoulder season”. “Bermuda is such a wonderful golf destination,” EWGA CEO Pam Swensen said. “With easy access from the East Coast of the United States, having the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) join EWGA as a new partner is exciting and will provide our members with a fabulous and convenient golf destination. And with one of our international chapters located in Bermuda, this really makes for an excellent fit.” The EWGA is a US-based national golf organization for business women with chapters for ladies in almost every state as well as four countries around the world, including Bermuda. Pat Phillip-Fairn, the BTA’s chief product and experiences development officer, said: “We’re checking the boxes on several important objectives of our golf strategy. November through March is the peak season for arts, culture and sports and now we have two strong women’s golf events to bookend the shoulder season. We also find that female visitors particularly enjoy our enhanced artistic and cultural offerings in the Uncover the Arts brochure, which helps to stimulate spending more broadly across the tourism economy.” The EWGA event is similar to the Women and Golf Trophy, now in its sixth year. The Women and Golf Trophy targets women from the UK and the EWGA will target women on the US East Coast. Over the next two years, more than 100 golfers are expected as a result of the partnership. They will golf at a variety of courses in Bermuda and local female golfers will be included throughout the rounds played. “I look forward to our US members gracing our shores and I know our ladies will show them the kind of hospitality for which Bermuda is famous,” said Gina Bassett-Cook, the president of EWGA Bermuda. “This exciting partnership will help drive more women to our Island to experience the kind of breathtakingly beautiful golf that is possible only in Bermuda.”

November 15. Flags on all government buildings will be flown at half mast until tomorrow evening as a mark of respect for those killed in Paris. Government House and the Cabinet Office made the announcement today after at least 129 people were killed in terrorist attacks in the French capital on Friday.

November 14. The Governor of Bermuda responded this morning to events that have left France in a state of national mourning. At least eight terrorists were responsible for the deaths of 127 people across Paris in what is believed to be a co-ordinated attack authored by the group that called itself Islamic State. “I am horrified at the attacks in Paris last night and express my solidarity with the people of France and the French community and French visitors here in Bermuda,” George Fergusson said. “The Prime Minister, Mr [David] Cameron, has spoken to President [François] Hollande this morning and has offered all possible assistance.” Government House has also given the following details for anyone concerned about family members and friends who are Bermudian or British passport holders and who may be directly affected. They can call the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 44 207 008 0000. The Progressive Labour Party joined the Governor in decrying the terrorist attack. “The Progressive Labour Party stands in condemnation of yesterday’s tragic events in Paris,” the Opposition said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris during this challenging time. Our condolences go out to everyone who has lost a loved one in this attack.”

November 14. France’s World Rugby Classic team in Bermuda expressed shock and concern last night after more than 120 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Paris. But the squad said the events would not deter them from taking part in tonight’s plate final. “If anything it has strengthened them in spirit and determination,” said Marc Morabito, the team’s liaison officer. France has declared a state of emergency and closed its borders after multiple gun and bomb attacks in the country’s capital. “The team is shocked of course and concerned but determined it is not going to impact the rest of their participation in the tournament,” Mr Morabito said. “If anything it is going to strengthen their bond as a team and their desire to do well in the tournament. To our knowledge, none of the team members have friends or family directly affected, but [we] feel great solidarity with fellow citizens who have friends and family who are affected.” Mr Morabito said the team would be grateful if the organizers of the event and the public would observe a minute of silence before today’s game. According to the Associated Press, at least 100 people died in a popular Paris concert hall when attackers seized hostages — one of at least six terrorist attacks across the city. Gunmen fired at cafés outside the venue with machine guns before killing more within the Bataclan theatre. Police said at least 11 people died at a Paris restaurant and at least three people were killed when bombs went off outside the Stade de France stadium. Eric Collins, a Bermudian living in Paris, described the events as “another brutal attack on the city. It’s a terrible thing. People are definitely upset more than anything,” said Mr Collins, who grew up in Paget. “People are angry and sad at the same time. People are obviously fearful. It’s going to be sad, tearful day for a lot of the French here and other residents.” But Mr Collins also had a message of resilience. “The French deal with these sorts of things quite quickly. They don’t deal with terrorists. We’re living in dangerous times. I’ve been living in Paris for year. I was here when Charlie Hebdo happened.” Mr Collins and his wife live near the Arc de Triomphe, several miles from where the attacks took place. “We didn’t know anything until my wife’s sister-in-law sent us something on Facebook. It seems like light years when you are a few miles away like this. It could have been my bistro, my neighborhood. That’s the eerie part.” Michael Dunkley said last night that the people of Bermuda joined with the rest of the world in “condemning this heinous terrorist attack in Paris. This was a tragic and shocking incident that continued to be a developing situation, which he has been kept abreast of by the Bermuda Government’s London Office." He has also reached out to the French Consulate in Bermuda to offer the Island’s assistance. Speaking to The Royal Gazette last night, Nicole Haziza, the honorary French Consul, said: “We are following the events as they are unfolding. This is very shocking news. We recommend that residents and tourists remain cautious until the areas in Paris are declared safe again.” Ms Haziza said that anyone concerned about relatives and friends could call this emergency number: +11 33 800 40 60 05.

November 14. Absentee ballots allowing students to vote have been proposed for the new legislative year. The Throne Speech promise makes good on a pre-election pledge of the One Bermuda Alliance, but the issue goes back more than 15 years. The argument for absentee ballots gained force after the timing of the 1998 General Election, which swept the Progressive Labour Party to power. It was part of a raft of political reforms, which included fixed-term elections, backed by the OBA before their victory in 2012. Extending the vote to registered voters studying overseas at "recognized educational institutions" would strengthen participation and help to build a more inclusive Bermuda, Governor George Fergusson said in yesterday's speech. Absentee ballots became the topic of an online campaign on the eve of the last General Election, with the PLP government saying the proposal remained under review, citing the potential for fraud.

November 14. Access to medication for chronic illnesses is a vital component of quality healthcare, according to the Bermuda Health Council. While less expensive drugs would not end the suffering, they would make a difference and enable an environment where adherence is less complicated and patients are more empowered, acting CEO Tawanna Wedderburn told The Royal Gazette. But Ms Wedderburn also urged for more focus on preventing the “debilitating” chronic diseases in the first place. It comes after the Bermuda Government announced that a pilot programme will increase access to key medications. “It is a vital component of quality healthcare that prescription drugs are accessible and affordable to everyone in need,” Ms Wedderburn said. “The issues of chronic illnesses are multidimensional and we cannot assume that procuring less expensive drugs alone will stop the suffering. Yes, it makes a difference and enables an environment where medication adherence is less complicated and the patients are more empowered. However, in general we have to focus on preventing these debilitating diseases in the first place. That way we can limit the suffering and have more resources to deal with the cases that do occur.” Delivering the Throne Speech on behalf of the Government, Governor George Fergusson said: “When people cannot afford to buy the medications required to treat their chronic conditions, their ability to manage diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease is compromised. “To address the situation, Government will pilot a programme to increase access to key medications,” Mr Fergusson said. The programme is based on joining the Pan American Health Organization's Strategic Fund to procure selected drugs for Government programmes at favorable rates. Mr Fergusson said: “The fund allows for pooled procurement with other countries in the region so that chronic disease medications can be obtained at significant savings. The savings will help Government programmes provide affordable, appropriate treatment that people with lifelong conditions need.” Ms Wedderburn said that Bermuda should do whatever it takes to ensure individuals with chronic illnesses can manage their condition or control their symptoms. “Many of our seniors and people with disabilities are reliant upon prescription drugs which are now a critical part of healthcare. Access to these drugs are a necessity and out of pocket costs for these drugs can result in individuals having to make tough decisions. Basic access to health should not be a hard decision for individuals. The Throne Speech also announced the modernization of the legislation guiding medical professionals in Bermuda, the Medical Practitioners Act 1950, “to provide a regulatory framework that ensures Bermuda continues to be served by well-trained, competent medical practitioners.” Amendments to the Act will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Bermuda Medical Council in regulating medical practitioners regarding professional competence and conduct. Ms Wedderburn said that based on reports from the Medical Council, “existing legislation is outdated and inadequate for up-to-date credential vetting and review.  As education and training are key investment tools within the health system; modernization will change current practice by establishing the highest qualification standards aligned with professional skills.” According to Ms Wedderburn, enhancements to the existing regulatory infrastructure will ensure that the health system continues to utilise available resources to perform at an optimal level. “The public will continue to be assured that they are receiving quality care from health practitioners who meet a rigorous registration process.” Ms Wedderburn added that updating the legislation is a continuation of the work that began with the development of the Standards of Practice for physicians, undertaken by the Bermuda Medical Council in collaboration with the Bermuda Health Council in 2013.

November 14. The Island’s most vocal opponent of conscription says he will believe the latest Throne Speech promise on the matter “when I see it. The One Bermuda Alliance say the same thing every Throne Speech,” said Larry Marshall Sr of Bermudians Against the Draft, after yesterday’s speech. Three years on from the Progressive Labour Party’s promise in its final Throne Speech, Mr Marshall said the latest declaration made him look “like a prophet”, referring to a skeptical interview he gave in 2013, in which he said the vow would be made again and again without being acted upon. That same year, the OBA promised to introduce amendments to the Defence Act 1965 to eliminate conscription. One year on, for the 2014 Throne Speech, the Bermuda Government said legislators would be invited to consider amendments to the Act that would “provide for the end of conscription. This is the third time to date that they have made this promise, and to date they have done absolutely nothing to facilitate the ending of conscription,” said Mr Marshall, who has vocally opposed the practice since 2006. He speculated that the OBA might be playing for time, in the hope that ending conscription would win the vote of young men in the 2017 General Election. “I hope they will and we can end this human rights violation, but I’m not excited at all. They are predictable — it’s always ‘this session.”

November 14. The protection of children, seniors and the sick were all prominent features of a Throne Speech that promised to look after Bermuda’s most vulnerable people yesterday. Penalties for predatory sexual crimes against children will be toughened up, legislation will be strengthened to protect seniors and people with disabilities against abuse, while access to affordable chronic disease medication will be improved. Better mental healthcare also emerged as a common theme, with the Bermuda Government vowing to add mental disabilities to the grounds protected by the Human Rights Act, identify a forensic psychiatric unit and push towards establishing a mental health court. In a wide-ranging speech read by Governor George Fergusson at the Cabinet Office grounds for the last time, the One Bermuda Alliance also pledged to find a path to end conscription, give students the ability to vote overseas and ban dark-tinted visors on helmets. The speech emphasized continued efforts for economic growth and reining in government spending — while also pointing to “multiple signs” that the economy is moving in the right direction. The agenda for the 2015-16 legislative year, the OBA’s fourth Throne Speech, told Bermudians to expect “social support programmes to continue, expansion of human rights protection, reforms to strengthen government accountability and performance, protection and care for the most vulnerable and steps to expand democratic participation”. Mr Fergusson said: “During this legislative session, the Ministry of Legal Affairs will bring forward reforms to eliminate inconsistencies in law pertaining to perpetrators of sexual crimes and their young victims. “This overdue updating of the law will ensure that penalties for predatory sexual crimes against the most vulnerable segment of society are appropriate for sufficient redress and deterrence.” Regarding seniors, he said: “The Government will take steps to amend legislation to strengthen protection for seniors and persons with disabilities. The Senior Abuse Register Act, for example, lacks the authority to remove seniors from abusive situations or cases of neglect. There is also an absence of legislation that protects persons with disabilities as well as other vulnerable persons.” On the issue of medication, he said: “When people cannot afford to buy the medications required to treat their chronic conditions, their ability to manage diseases is compromised. To address the situation, Government will pilot a programme to increase access to key medications.” As well as adding mental health to the Human Rights Act, discrimination based on the written word will encompass online conversations and comments. Laws against the publication of racist material will be expanded to include telephone discussions, the internet and broadcast, and the definition of a public place will be expanded to include indoor and outdoor spaces, when it comes to hostile words aimed at ethnicity or national origin. The Human Rights Commission will gain greater independence, moving from the purview of the Department of Human Affairs to become a non-ministry entity. People with diminished capacity due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and who have no next of kin, could be protected by the Government in a capacity similar to an “Office of the Public Guardian”, while the law for care and nursing homes will be tightened when it comes to staff qualifications. With the prison population at “record lows”, the Government will look into the best means of closing “one of the minimum security facilities”. Noting with concern that Bermuda lacks a secure forensic psychiatric unit, the Government has committed to finding a solution appropriate for the Island’s size and means. The Throne Speech also committed to funding the expansion of police security cameras into Dockyard and St George’s. A Census will be called for next year, and an independent body to administer the affairs of the legislature will go under consideration. The speech also pointed to future public debate on immigration, stating: “Government will continue to work no fixing inequities in the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act, with public consultation preceding announcements.” On basic government housekeeping, a new website is scheduled for next year, and legislation will be tabled for the gazetting of government notices to go online. Government boards will also be appraised for efficiency.

November 13. An investment company which manages more than $300 million of assets has established its operational headquarters in Bermuda — and is now seeking to make a substantial investment in an Island firm. Edelweiss Holdings Ltd focuses on wealth preservation for its high net worth clientele and has a very long-term outlook. Its new Bermuda office will be in Victoria Place, Hamilton, and it will be headed by Michael Way, a Bermudian who has returned home after seven years working in London. Edelweiss was incorporated in Bermuda in 2002 as an open-ended fund, but last month restructured into a private investment holding company. The new structure effectively creates more permanence for the company’s assets under management, in sync with its long-term investment philosophy. As of the end of June this year, it had $314 million in net assets, comprising an investment portfolio of nearly $80 million, liquid positions — including nearly 3.5 metric tonnes of gold bullion — of $162.9 million, and core holdings of $71.7 million. Those core holdings feature many companies that have been around for more than 100 years, operating in agricultural, food and industrial sectors. Speaking with The Royal Gazette during a visit to Bermuda this week, Anthony Deden, founder of Edelweiss and chairman of its executive committee, said the Bermuda company in which Edelweiss invests will have to meet its specific criteria. These include that it must be profitable, with a track record of earnings, and it must be a simple business active in any sector except finance. “We are looking to take a meaningful participation in an entrepreneurial business, owning between 10 and 40 per cent,” Mr Deden said. The firm had no interest in managing businesses, but they were looking for a company with elements of permanence, which include doing something very well, being focused on looking after customers and avoiding the kind of errors that lead to business failure. One of Edelweiss’ core holdings is a company that has been owned by the same family for some 400 years. It has a culture that has been passed down from generation to generation. “The best thing you can pass on to your children is not money, it’s a way of doing things,” Mr Deden said. “All of the companies among our core holdings care about their employees and their customers. They’re not interested in profit and growth for the sake of it. Our investors are not interested in becoming rich — they’re already rich.” Mr Deden takes a dim view of the financial engineering prevalent in the world today as well as the splurge of money printing by central banks around the world. “Wealth is created on Main Street, not Wall Wall Street,” Mr Deden said. Edelweiss has achieved an annualized return since 2002 of 9.3 per cent in US dollar terms. In 2008, when the stock market crash led to the S&P 500 index falling 38.5 per cent, Edelweiss suffered a 15.5 per cent loss. Edelweiss has eight employees, an office in Zurich, Switzerland, and 105 shareholders from 36 countries. It relies on word of mouth to attract new investors. The company chose Bermuda as its headquarters, as it had the advantages of being regarded as a “neutral jurisdiction” in the eyes of international investors, as well as having a well respected legal system and a strong track record in the insurance and reinsurance business, Mr Deden said. Mr Way, who joined Edelweiss in June this year, spent the previous seven years in London running Bloomberg Tradebook’s equity trading desk for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He is also familiar to many as a former Bermuda Davis Cup tennis player. Other Bermuda connections are that Rod Forrest, a lawyer with Wakefield Quin, is an executive director, while James Keyes is an independent director. Edelweiss plans to gradually expand its operation in Bermuda, adding to the staff over time.

November 13. Bermuda’s asset management business could be boosted by the boom in insurance-linked securities (ILS), an expert said yesterday. Jessel Mendes, a partner at financial services firm Ernst & Young, said: “The interest in insurance-linked securities is certainly helping our local asset management industry. “As people use Bermuda for insurance-linked securities, they are using Bermuda products and services and Bermuda is getting great exposure. My hope is that the momentum in insurance-linked securities helps our traditional hedge fund space.” Mr Mendes was speaking after he delivered a talk on why the Island is a good home for asset managers at the annual ILS Convergence conference, held at Pier Six this week. There are 145 listed ILS vehicles registered in Bermuda, with a value of more than $18 billion. Mr Mendes said that the Island’s asset management sector, was growing alongside the ILS market after the area declined amid competition from other jurisdictions like the Caymans. He added: “I think we kind of took our eye off the ball — we were losing incorporations because other jurisdictions were garnishing that marketplace.” But Mr Mendes added: “These funds were still being administered here, although over the years these companies have transited out. I am so optimistic because things are starting to turn. People want a viable option and Bermuda globally has a great reputation. “We have always been in asset management, but it’s not been pushed as hard as insurance.” And Mr Mendes pointed out that a number of reinsurance companies had already set up asset management arms of their own, using Island expertise. Island-based funds, as of the second quarter of this year, had a massive $152.5 billion in assets under management, although the amount has fallen from the $180 billion recorded in the same period in 2014, according to Bermuda Monetary Authority statistics. Mr Mendes said: “If you look at the three pillars, we are seeing a lot of capital coming into Bermuda. We are seeing our local reinsurance companies setting up asset management divisions and we are also seeing locally-based asset managers launching funds with reinsurance products. What I would like to see is that ILS momentum feed into traditional hedge fund play.” Earlier, Mr Mendes told the international ILS gathering that Bermuda’s reputation, regulation, stability and financial expertise all combined to make it an attractive home for asset management. “Physical presence is key to Bermuda’s success — we have a top pool of talent across all levels of the industry. We have a terrific reputation for quality globally and our regulator has a lot to do with that. We have a tried and tested jurisdiction that has been doing business for a very long time with political stability.” Michael Dunkley, the Premier, opened the day’s events and said: “Our Government believes it is important to continue to provide you, our global partners with a stable business platform that enables you to succeed and to use your innovation. I want to reinforce the fact that Bermuda is on the upsurge in so many areas. The economic challenges that have dogged the global markets these past years are showing strong signs of recovery. Here in Bermuda we are seeing some very positive economic indicators that have helped spur business confidence and business investment in Bermuda.” The two-day conference, which ended yesterday was hailed a success by organizers, with more than 300 delegates from 15 different countries attending.  Greg Wojciechowski, CEO of the Bermuda Stock Exchange and chairman of the ILS Bermuda organising committee, said, “We always look forward to welcoming our industry colleagues from all over the world back to Bermuda to meet, discuss important trends and to experience first hand the infrastructure, industry critical mass and our innovative spirit all of which combined have resulted in Bermuda becoming an ILS centre of excellence.” Proceeds from the sponsorship of keynote speaker, Jimmy Spithill are being donated to the Endeavour Programme, a youth community sailing programme directed by The America’s Cup with some of the biggest names in the marine industry taking a leadership role.

November 13. Two business organisations have said they are broadly encouraged by the contents of today's Throne Speech. John Wight, vice-president of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, in a statement, said: "The Throne Speech was well balanced, with a recognition that several initiatives such as the America's Cup have and will continue to benefit the Bermudian economy, while acknowledging that the upward turn in the overall economy is being felt by different sectors in differing degrees. The Government debt remains a large concern for Bermudians. It was reassuring to hear that for the first time since 2008 Bermuda has recorded positive Gross Domestic Product for three consecutive quarters. In addition, the current account recorded a surplus for the first six months of 2015, excluding debt service. This is strong evidence that the economy is moving in the right direction. It remains to be seen whether the initiatives in place for 2016 to address Bermuda's financial condition will be bold and far reaching enough to enable Bermuda to start working down its substantial debt in the period required to do so. The Throne Speech covered a wide range of topics. Government has a very ambitious year ahead with many initiatives requiring either new legislation or changes to current legislation. I would hope that these be prioritized so that the ones that are most impactful to Bermudians and that produce jobs get the full attention that they deserve. Reference was made to the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre, an IMF regional body, undertaking a comprehensive review of Bermuda's tax system and its administration. While increasing revenues is a necessity for the Government, increasing taxes on a decreasing tax base, following the loss of thousands of jobs in Bermuda since 2009, will not be easy. Reference was made in the speech to changing policies to improve the flow of foreign capital to Bermuda, which I think must be a priority. The recession has been especially impactful because of the numbers of jobs lost and people leaving Bermuda. It is difficult to see how many of our members will realize the required growth in their businesses before Bermuda can successfully bring more capital and jobs to the island. Overall I thought the Throne Speech was very positive. As with every plan for the future, the detail will now be in its execution." Meanwhile, Stephen Catlin, chairman of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR), said: ?ABIR is encouraged by the Government's decision to proceed with an impartial, apolitical panel of economic experts to focus on Bermuda's needs to ?provide independent, external reports of the Government's fiscal performance against the fiscal rules established? as noted in the Throne Speech today."

November 13. Protecting seniors from abuse and children from sexual exploitation, as well as making medication more easily available to the sick, were among the pledges in today's Throne Speech. A path to end conscription, improving Bermuda's human rights laws and giving students the ability to vote overseas were further reforms announced on the Cabinet Office grounds. Today's speech read by Governor George Fergusson, likely to be his last here, emphasized continued efforts for economic growth and reining in government spending ? while also pointing to ?multiple signs? that the economy is moving in the right direction. The agenda for the 2015-16 legislative year, the fourth Throne Speech from the ruling One Bermuda Alliance, told Bermudians to "expect social support programmes to continue, expansion of human rights protection, reforms to strengthen government accountability and performance, protection and care for the most vulnerable and steps to expand democratic participation." Mr Fergusson said: "The Government will take steps to amend legislation to strengthen protection for seniors and persons with disabilities. The Senior Abuse Register Act, for example, lacks the authority to remove seniors from abusive situations or cases of neglect. There is also an absence of legislation that protects persons with disabilities as well as other vulnerable persons." On the issue of medication, he said: "When people cannot afford to buy the medications required to treat their chronic conditions, their ability to manage diseases is compromised. To address the situation, Government will pilot a programme to increase access to key medications." Regarding sexual abuse, the Governor said: "During this legislative session, the Ministry of Legal Affairs will bring forward reforms to eliminate inconsistencies in law pertaining to perpetrators of sexual crimes and their young victims. This overdue updating of the law will ensure that penalties for predatory sexual crimes against the most vulnerable segment of society are appropriate for sufficient redress and deterrence." A Census will be called for next year, and an independent body to administer the affairs of the legislature will go under consideration. The long-awaited inclusion of mental health under the Human Rights Act will finally go ahead, while discrimination based on the written word will encompass online conversations and comments. Laws against the publication of racist material will be expanded to include telephone discussions, the internet and broadcast and the definition of a public place will be expanded to include indoor and outdoor spaces, when it comes to hostile words aimed at ethnicity or national origin. The Human Rights Commission will gain greater independence, moving from the purview of the Department of human Affairs to become a non-ministry entity. With prison population at "record lows", the Government will look into the best means of closing "one of the minimum security facilities." Noting with concern that Bermuda lacks a secure forensic psychiatric unit, the Government has committed to finding a solution appropriate for the Island's size and means. The Throne Speech also committed to funding the expansion of police security cameras into Dockyard and St George's, and the banning of tinted helmet visors. Persons with diminished capacity due to dementia or Alzheimer's disease, and who have no next of kin, could be protected by the Government in a capacity similar to an Office of the Public Guardian. Protection for seniors will be strengthened through changes to the Senior Abuse Register Act, and the law for care and nursing homes will be tightened when it comes to staff qualifications. On basic government housekeeping, a new website is scheduled for next year, and legislation will be tabled for the gazetting of government notices to go online. Government boards will be appraised for efficiency, with decisions coming on which are no longer required, while citizens will for the first time get the chance to apply for positions on government boards and committees. The recently formed Co-Parenting Mediation Council, previously all female, will be expanded from five to seven to include men. For the courts, video conferencing will be expanded to protect vulnerable or reluctant. Work continues on the mental health court, as well as an integrated family court merging the Supreme Court and Magistrates? divisions, while the Government will examine improvements for seeking the payment of child maintenance arrears. The nascent Public Access to Information regime, which came into law in April, is to be clarified and streamlined to improve citizens access to records. In terms of the civil service, a Public Service Reform Initiative will be tasked with streamlining the Government and, with a review now completed to identify duplicated services, it is expected that a number of department amalgamations will move forward. New regulations are slated for the awarding of contracts, including a code of practice. The speech also promised gaming regulations and the replacement of existing hotel concessions with a Tourism Investment Incentive Act, while pointing to resort investments as signs of a building turnaround in the Island's economy.

November 13. Business partnership laws are to be revamped to make sure Bermuda stays competitive, the Bermuda Government said today. The annual Throne Speech explained that changes to the law would maintain the Island's position as an offshore business leader. The speech, delivered by Governor George Fergusson on behalf of the Government, said: "New amendments to partnership laws will provide greater flexibility and certainty with respect to partnership activities, rights and remedies, structural conversions, re-domiciliation and the impact of specific events on the continuity of partnerships. Legislation will be introduced to modernize Bermuda's current legal position on third party rights, giving the jurisdiction maximum flexibility to meet the needs of the market and to match similar rights already enacted in other jurisdictions." The Throne Speech, read in the grounds of Cabinet Office at the start of the new parliamentary session, said that legal amendments would also be made to axe legal restrictions on how long property could be held in trust. Mr Fergusson said: "It is anticipated that the establishment of a clear and cost-effective approach for Bermuda's courts to change or eliminate certain restrictions on property held in trust will grow Bermuda's trust business along with the services required to administer them. The Ministry of Economic Development and the Bermuda Business Development Agency were working with the private sector to strengthen Bermuda's competitiveness worldwide, diversify the economy and contribute to the Island's economic growth and job creation. Parliament also pledged to introduce a new regulatory regime to open up the market in as ?part of a strategic plan to allow competition ion the generation of electricity and to ensure Bermuda's electricity service is environmentally sustainable, secure, reliable and affordable.? Mr Fergusson said that new legislation would also be introduced to regulate the use of fuels and get a better deal for power users. He added: "Currently, the regulation of fuels is minimal and not transparent to the consumer. ?The legislation is intended to facilitate the purchase of cleaner, less expensive, fuels to ensure efficiency in the generation of electricity and to make sure these costs and efficiencies are reflected in consumer pricing. Better regulation can mean lower prices and help support Bermuda's goals in greenhouse gas emissions." And Government signaled a tender will be put out to create a massive solar power site at the airport's disused finger, which could provide up to 20 per cent of the Island's peak demand for power during daylight hours. The real estate industry also came under the spotlight, with plans to put under the Registrar of Companies as a regulator. Mr Fergusson said: "This initiative will ensure Bermuda's real estate sector is compliant with programmes recommended by the Financial Action Task Force, a 36-country body that sets standards to combat money-laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. Passage of the amendments will help protect Bermuda's reputation as a first-class offshore financial system. The legislation will ensure that brokers and agents involved in such transactions operate in a clear and fair regulatory environment that protects the public." The Throne Speech also announced that Customs duty will be amended in line with the Island's commitment to the America's Cup competition, scheduled for 2017. The company set up to facilitate the event, ACBDA, will also be exempted from paying land tax on property at the Royal Naval Dockyard, a major hub of the Cup's activities. And the Island's tax system is also due for reform, with recommendations from the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC) under review at the Ministry of Finance, the International Monetary Fund and by CARTAC. New standards will also be set for insurance intermediaries and asset managers, in line with best practice elsewhere. Government will also act to boost the Bermuda's financial stability standards, with legislation to focus on improvements to Bermuda's recovery and resolution framework for banks."

November 13. Dark-tinted visors on helmets could be banned under new legislation that will be put before the House of Assembly. The move, which was announced in today's Throne Speech by Governor George Fergusson, has been welcomed by crime-fighting agencies as well as victims of crime. Mr Fergusson said the aim of the legislation was to minimize and ultimately eliminate the use of dark visors. "A ban will help law enforcement by removing an article that has been used by criminals, sometimes in the commission of violent crime, to hide their identity. Steps for the implementation of a ban will follow consultations with stakeholders. Public safety is a Government priority and a dark visor ban will contribute to a safer, more secure Bermuda." The announcement comes nearly two months after Michael Dunkley, the Premier and Minister of National Security, said it would be "unfair to suddenly ban a vital piece of personal road safety equipment to address the criminal behavior of a small number of individuals." His comments also followed a Royal Gazette campaign calling for tinted visors to be banned. Alex MacDonald, president of Crime Stoppers International, said: "This move can only help law enforcement agencies in identifying those who commit serious crimes and take advantage of this method of concealment. Tinted visors inevitably make it much harder for the police as well as the community to identify criminals, so anything we can do to tackle this and keep our streets safer is only going to be beneficial to the community as a whole." Gavin Kennedy, who owns The Hub in Warwick where a business was recently targeted by armed robbers in helmets with tinted visors, also welcomed the move. "This is a good move to make," he told The Royal Gazette. "It will make it much more difficult for criminals to carry out their nefarious actions. I am happy to see that this issue will be put before Parliament for debate, it's a step in the right direction. If it becomes law then I believe it will ease the concerns of small businesses as well as the whole community and make identifying criminals easier." The Commissioner of Police, Michael DeSilva, would not comment on the move to ban tinted visors. Today's Throne Speech also revealed that Government will provide funding for the expansion of the CCTV network to Dockyard, while St George's will also be included in this expansion to support of the existing police presence in the east end. Andrew Dias, general manager of the West End Development Corporation, welcomed the announcement. He said: "A fully integrated CCTV is something we have been talking about for some time, so I was encouraged to hear it mentioned in the Throne Speech. We have CCTV cameras in place in Dockyard in certain locations, but I am hopeful that a fully integrated system could become a reality and welcome the opportunity to work with other agencies in this regard." During his 25-page address Mr Fergusson announced plans to add instructors from other uniformed services to the Ministry of National Security's GREAT programme that aims to deter children from joining gangs. He detailed legislative changes that will modernize the way long-term sickness of police officers is dealt with and also revealed that Government would commission a review to determine "the best means by which to close one of the minimum security facilities."

November 13. Highlights of today’s Throne Speech include pledges to:

• Strengthen human rights legislation to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of mental disability, as well as discrimination through printed word, telephone discussions or any electronic medium

• Improve legislation such as the Senior Abuse Register Act to give better protection for seniors and people with disabilities

• Remove inconsistencies from sentencing of those who commit sexual crimes against children, while separating sexual experimentation from the most serious sexual offences

• Pursue legislative steps for a mental health court

• Work with groups such as Focus to ensure drug addicts and alcoholics can get the treatment they need efficiently and cost-effectively

• Pilot a programme to increase access to chronic disease medications

• Table and debate legislation to end conscription

• Move forward with department amalgamations to improve public sector efficiency

• Ban dark helmet visors through legislation aimed at tackling violent crime

• Address the Island’s lack of a secure forensic psychiatric unit

• Complete crop and dairy sector strategies to decrease reliance on food imports

Modernize the framework that deals with long-term sick police officers

• Introduce an Electricity Act to allow competition in the generation of electricity and ensure the electricity service is environmentally sustainable, secure, reliable and affordable

• Conduct a review of pension arrangements to determine whether public and private pension contributions are set at appropriate levels, and make changes to the supervision and regulation of pension plans and their service providers

• Introduce regulations for the administration and regulation of gaming

• Give students the right to vote while they are studying abroad

• Embark on a programme to identify and dispose surplus government real estate, with money going to the Sinking Fund to pay down debt

• Carry out a review to determine the best means by which to close one of the minimum security facilities

November 13. The Bermuda Government's financial statements have received a qualified auditor's opinion for the fifth consecutive year. Auditor-General Heather Jacobs Matthews today released reports documenting the results of audits of the Consolidated Fund for the years ending March 31, 2010, 2011 and 2012. She pointed to serious deficiencies in internal control over the management of various capital development projects. In a statement, Ms Matthews said that, in her audit opinion, these deficiencies led her to question the appropriateness of certain transactions and the underlying value of assets. The Auditor-General also cites the continued failure to provide summary financial statements which disclose the full nature and extent of the overall financial affairs and resources of the Government of Bermuda, the increased net debt and incidences of non-compliance with Financial Instructions. Ongoing concerns include inappropriate procedures and inadequate accounting for transactions, millions paid without signed contracts or agreements, significant contracts not tendered, inadequate procedures over bank reconciliations, millions paid for professional services without prior approval and IT deficiencies. The report also noted issues surrounding the financial reporting process which still requires numerous adjustments to be made before audited financial statements can be issued.

November 13. The Auditor-General’s investigation into the finances of the Bermuda Hospitals Board was triggered by a “hidden” $4 million it set aside to pay a patient who was paralyzed while in its care. The board believed a liability existed in the case of former guest worker Thomas Hofer, who suffered a broken neck at St Brendan’s mental hospital, and recorded the accrual as an “administrative expense” in its accounts to ensure it wasn’t visible to the general public, The Royal Gazette can reveal. But the decision was not included in the minutes of the BHB’s meetings, prompting suspicions of fraud on the part of the Auditor-General, who ordered an official review of it and other areas of concern by the Department of Internal Audit in February 2013. The public has only ever been given a summary by the BHB of the findings of that review, which included evidence of “serious deficiencies” in the board’s corporate governance framework and “material weaknesses” in internal controls, revenue processes and other areas. But this newspaper has become aware that Mrs Matthews raised concerns with BHB chief executive officer Venetta Symonds about potential fraud or collusion after the $4 million set aside for Mr Hofer, who was paralyzed in 1994 and launched a personal injury lawsuit in 1997, was queried by a member of her team. Mrs Matthews questioned why the board’s chief financial officer had “hidden” the $4 million as an administrative expense, instead of showing it as a claim expense or contingent liability. The BHB removed the entry after the Auditor-General threatened to give only a qualified opinion on its financial statements if it remained in place. As part of the Auditor-General’s review process, the board’s CFO was put on administrative leave. In April 2014, the BHB said she had been cleared of any wrongdoing by auditors but the CFO had decided to quit her post after more than a year on paid administrative leave. The board said the CFO was found to have “acted properly, appropriately and with all professional integrity”. Mrs Matthews released a statement the following month saying she remained very concerned that a “significant, unsubstantiated financial transaction was admittedly concealed in BHB’s financial statements”. She has made no public comment on the matter since and the board’s audited financials for 2012 to 2015 have yet to be released to the public. Mr Hofer’s lawsuit collapsed in August, when the Chief Justice struck out the action on the basis that it had taken too long to come to trial. The judgment means the BHB will not have to pay any compensation to the former chef, who returned to Germany after his accident and has lived there ever since, costing his home country some $11,000 a month in around-the-clock care. Asked about the $4 million accrual, a board spokeswoman told this newspaper: “BHB reserves funds for potential litigation. This is not specifically for one case. No additional funds were reserved for this case.” But the statement contradicts documentary evidence seen by this newspaper, in which the Auditor-General writes that the Hofer accrual was noticed during an audit of the board’s draft 2010-11 finances and “appears to be a fraudulent claim”. The BHB asked the Auditor-General’s office to sign a confidentiality agreement requiring it not to disclose the claim so as not to reveal the amount to Mr Hofer or any other claimant in the case. The Auditor-General refused. The evidence shows that the BHB, which filed a defence to Mr Hofer’s claim and applied twice to have the action struck out, believed it bore a significant financial risk with the case and anticipated a settlement. It is understood that the former CFO and Ms Symonds made the decision to set aside the funds in the belief that the BHB had an obligation to compensate Mr Hofer, as his injuries occurred while in its care. The BHB has never admitted liability in the case. It was not possible to reach Mrs Matthews, who retires later this week, for comment. She is expected to soon issue outstanding annual reports from her office, which should include a synopsis of the issues arising from the Internal Audit review of the BHB’s finances.

November 13. Bermudians at the racially troubled campus of the University of Missouri have spoken of their alarm ­— as well as their hope. After tensions peaked this week, Ty-Ron Douglas, an assistant professor at the university, and Kerri Furbert, a student in her final year, described their experiences. A flagship state university attended by 35,000 students, the University of Missouri has been roiled since September by episodes of racism aimed at black students. The outcry from students of colour, combined with what many decried as a lackluster response from university leaders, led to the resignation on Monday of president Tim Wolfe and chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. “We are fine, we are doing well — in the midst of these tense times, we are standing strong,” Dr Douglas told The Royal Gazette. “People’s voices are being heard. There are some specific instances that are problematic, but there is also hope.” Many students avoided campus after Wednesday, when two different white students were arrested on other campuses in the state after posting racial threats on social media. Kerri Furbert, a black Bermudian senior studying sport management, said she would be returning to campus today after two days off, owing to cancelled classes and fear. “Yesterday, when everyone was afraid, campus was very empty — it was definitely antsy,” Ms Furbert, 21, told The Royal Gazette. “I feel a little bit better now.” Affirming her support and liking for the school, Ms Furbert said she had initially been taken aback by some of the racial attitudes she encountered there. “It’s something I am really, really not used to, because back in Bermuda it does not happen to this kind of extreme. I have never really experienced racism that far. There are people out here who will call people by the N-word, and I never experienced that back home.” The incidents may have been sparked in September when Payton Head, the president of the student government, complained online of having racial epithets hurled at him from the back of a pick-up truck. Subsequent racist insults spread outrage through the student body. Protests included a threat by the university’s football team, the Missouri Tigers, to boycott a match, while demonstrations of solidarity spread to other colleges. “I just think people finally have had enough, and felt they should speak up” Ms Furbert said. “It has been going on for months, these incidents toward black students.” Describing the university as 77 per cent white and 7 per cent black, she said she had occasionally felt as if people were hostile to her skin colour. “When I first came here it wasn’t too bad, but after a while I realized I got treated differently,” she said, recalling how she and her boyfriend, also black, opted to leave a Subway restaurant when they sensed vehement dislike from staff. After linking arms with student demonstrators around a hunger striker in the aftermath of Mr Wolfe’s resignation, Ms Furbert expressed hope that others would gain some awareness into the struggles faced by their fellow students. She was also heartened by yesterday’s news that Mike Middleton, a black professor emeritus of law, had been appointed interim president. Dr Douglas, an assistant professor at the department of educational leadership and policy analysis, said he had mixed emotions “both professional and personal” about the protests. The hunger striker, graduate student Jonathan Butler, is “someone I knew well”, he said, as are members of Concerned Student 1950 — a protest group named after the year that students of colour were first admitted. Dr Douglas noted that Ferguson, Missouri, where the 2014 shooting of a black teen by white police sparked nationwide protests, was not far from “Mizzou”, as the university is known. “Nothing happens in a vacuum, and there are larger tensions going on nationally,” he said, also pointing to the nearing end of the tenure of Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States. “A generation of young people went through middle school and high school with the sounds of ‘yes, we can’ in their ears. The reality for many of them as they transition is that they realize they are still being told in many spaces, ‘no, we can’t’. The reality is, this is not just a Mizzou issue. There are protests taking place nationally. Things have to be revealed so that they can be healed. It’s in our faces now. This is the time for those of us in a leadership position to lead. I feel very hopeful.” A group visiting from his alma mater, Oakwood University, included Bermudians Vashon Williams, Shani Smith, Fiona Douglas and adjunct professor Lucy Douglas. They arrived during high tensions, but reported a positive experience of Mizzou, and sent a group picture of solidarity to the university. Dr Douglas said he had also received a supportive message from veteran Bermudian educator Earl “Gabby” Hart. Saying he was “seeking to be a bridge builder”, he said: “It’s good having strong, serious conversations about realities that some know every day, and others have the privilege of ignoring.”

November 13. The stretched resources of Court Services’ 35-strong team has had to learn to be “creative” in its approach to assessing, treating and managing the Island’s criminals, according to director Gina Hurst-Maybury. The department is responsible for thousands of pre-sentence and pre-release reports each year and presently has a caseload of nearly 400 offenders who are provided with support as well as a raft of rehabilitative programmes in the community. The Island’s gang problem has also posed new challenges to the staff who are tasked with supervising offenders. “One of the added challenges we face now is that a client’s gang involvement or association can prevent him from going into an area and fulfilling an unpaid work-hour requirement,” said Ms Hurst-Maybury. “We have had to be more creative in the way we deal with this problem and ensure that we have direct supervision, especially of the high-risk individuals. There have been examples of assaults on clients while they are completing their community service. The client profiles today also pose more difficulties. There is often a dual diagnosis of substance abuse and mental health issues, and perhaps multifaceted issues within the family setting too. Many of the offenders lack the skills to do community service and have educational issues such as literacy, numeracy or learning difficulties and at times have been out of formal educational settings.” Derek Flood, manager of the assessment and treatment unit, added: “We have had to be very careful with some individuals, and another problem we face is that they are not always truthful about gang associations or areas they cannot go. Sometimes we only find out about it when the individual starts work.” Court Services is responsible for the assessment, treatment and case management of hundreds of offenders in the community and is often the “gateway” service to drug treatment programmes. A team of 13 probation officers is tasked with the day-to-day case management of 340 offenders including 239 men and women on probation, 71 former prisoners who have been released on parole and 20 offenders that attend drug court. Meanwhile, 15 members of staff are responsible for overseeing offenders on community service and in the mental health court as well as writing reports and assessments on offenders awaiting sentence and release. In the last two years, 40 men and women have gone through the new mental health court, although it is still waiting for its legislative framework. The initiative, which has only seen three individuals fail to complete the programme, has proved to be a great success, according to Mr Flood. Ms Hurst-Maybury added: “The team has been very creative in helping the offenders gain employment prospects by building up their skills as well as helping them find accommodations and other resources. When individuals make strides in mental health court, it can be an incredibly emotional moment for not just them but their family too. Many of their family might have thought that they would never see their relative back in a state of stability. As people become more self-sufficient that inevitably means a lot of bridges are built within the family setting too. A lot of them just need structure and support.” All Court Services clients are subject to random drug and alcohol tests to ensure they are abiding by the terms of their orders, while probation officers routinely conduct background checks and home visits on the offenders they are responsible for. Ms Hurst Maybury told The Royal Gazette: “The numbers we are dealing with have increased in a lot of regards, but having said that if you go back 25 years the caseload was around 600 because we were also dealing with people who were homeless, or had social issues more so than criminogenic issues. “We face every challenge and try to view it as an opportunity. We have to be realistic in terms of looking at the risks that individuals pose to the community and themselves. We have been stretched in terms of the work we do and have not been able to offer the same standard of service on a consistent basis. We are doing a better job and preserving ourselves — before we used to try and do everything, but we have recognized this is not possible and we work within the resources we have as best we can along with our community partners. We have been creative over the years in terms of how we deal with clients building and maintaining that relationship as well as getting them to realize they are in control of their own destiny. We can only give them support and help to influence their decisions.”

November 13. Nurses providing care to men, women and children who have experienced violence or trauma were this week recognized for their work. The Sexual Assault Response Team and the Department of Health have been observing Forensic Nurses Week. “It’s a special week once a year that recognizes the nurses that are involved in the forensic field, who we are and what we do for the community,” said Rebecca Madeiros. The sexual assault nurse examiner added: “It’s a quiet, very unknown field so for us it helps us bring it into the public eye and that we are here to protect you and advocate for you.” Sexual Assault Response Team co-ordinator Gaynell Hayward-Caesar said: “It offers us the opportunity to reflect on the reason why we do what we do and to actually validate what we do. This is our fourth year and we really became keen on doing this through the International Association of Forensic Nurses.” As part of the event, Ms Madeiros, Ms Hayward-Caesar and Judith Brewster were recognized for “providing exceptional patient care usually at unsociable hours of the morning”. Congratulations were also extended to sexual-assault examiners Karen Raynor, Amanda Georges, Michelle Barnett, Roslyn Mingo, Thamidela Jaya and Beverly Howell, who all completed five days of sexual assault training in February. “Our motto is ‘caring is our calling’ for as sexual-assault examiners we must be non-judgmental,” Ms Hayward-Caesar said. “We must be caring and compassionate. We must be efficient and very confidential. We are regarded as expert witnesses, who provide the evidence to cases that actually go to court so that requires expertise and preparation. Every position is voluntary. One of our primary responsibilities is to assist the victim in regaining their confidence because most times they blame themselves.” Ms Madeiros, who also works as a school nurse, said she volunteers with SART and does the work she does “because nobody else does. I feel somebody needs to give these kids a voice and be their advocate,” she added. To mark the week, forensic nurses worldwide will today wear lilac — the designated colour of forensic nursing. The Sexual Assault Response Team was set up in 1998 and consists of forensic nurses, the Bermuda Police Service, the Department of Child and Family Services, the Department of Public Prosecutions, doctors and abuse advocates. 

November 12. An ambitious bid to boost the image of the insurance sector could increase business and attract new blood to its ranks, according to veteran industry chief Brian Duperreault. Mr Duperreault’s Hamilton Insurance Group has teamed up other companies to create Blue Marble — a micro insurance firm aimed at the developing world. He said: “This is a an industry effort — it can’t be the effort of a single company. And the industry isn’t enough to do this — what has been fascinating is the other industries reaching out to us saying we want to do this, how can we join?” Mr Duperreault added that companies from technology firms and banks to non-profit organisations had all expressed an interest in the venture, launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year. And he said: “We have to suppress, to some degree, our own self-interest. But if we create a demand out there some of that capital sitting around on the sides will have a use.” Mr Duperreault was speaking as part of the “view from the top” panel discussion at Tuesday’s Bermuda Reinsurance Conference, which was sponsored by PwC Bermuda and Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services and held at the Hamilton Princess. He said afterwards that a greater sense of social responsibility in the industry could help attract the millennial generation — people born between 1980 and 1995 — into an industry that faces a looming manpower crisis as senior executives and baby boomers head for retirement. “There is a great interest by the entire population in the organization, the employee base, but particularly among the millennials,” said Mr Duperreault. “One of the aims is how we how harness this interest in a positive way. It started with micro banks and micro financing, which is, in essence, delivering an essential product in the emerging world, where there is very little resources. A mobile phone may be the most valuable thing some people own, or one cow. It’s a challenge — we know they need medical coverage. You can approach it as ‘do good’ or approach it as a market development effort.” Blue Marble Microinsurance was set up by AIG, Aspen, Guy Carpenter, Hamilton, Old Mutual, TransRe, XL Catlin and Zurich. A statement on a partner website said: “We share a vision of collaborating to develop insurance supply to benefit underserved communities worldwide. Blue Marble will incubate the launch and operations of new solutions, including unique distribution methods, local partnerships and product development.” Mr Duperreault said: “We have a digital world out there. We have a phone. Most of the emerging world has a phone — how do we effectively use this technology which is in their hands? We need to be joining with others outside our industry who have capabilities and technologies to solve the problem.” And he added: “Particularly with technology, you bring in expertise and do it as a larger group — create an ecosystem.”

November 12. Six Columbus crabs have found a new home in the UK after travelling across the Atlantic Ocean on the back of a buoy. The crabs, which measure about half an inch in diameter, are thought to have come from the Sargasso Sea off the coast of Bermuda. Professional marine wildlife photographer and author Steve Trewhella spotted the rare find, which was first reported in the Western Daily Press. Speaking to The Royal Gazette, Mr Trewhella said he found the exotic crabs on a barnacle-encrusted buoy on Chesil Beach in Dorset, England, on Monday. "Columbus crabs are particularly rare. They only live in tropical oceanic waters in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It is not a species we would ever expect to see in the UK." Because the buoy was covered in goose barnacles, which are known to come from warmer climates, Mr Trewhella suspected the object and the crabs originated from the Sargasso Sea and were brought to the UK by the Gulf Stream. "The Sargasso Sea is their habitat. They only live on floating objects predominantly with goose barnacles because they feed on the larvae. We'll never know for absolute certain where they came from, we're going on the associated species we found with them. Everything is pointing to that part of the world." Mr Trewhella said that while there had only been about 50 recorded sightings of the species in Britain, they could be arriving more frequently because of the dramatic increase in marine litter and debris, which provide ideal habitats for the small crabs. "We are undoubtedly finding more and more debris from across the Atlantic," he said, adding that he found another Columbus crab inside a 6ft pipe on Tuesday. He said he was excited about the discoveries, but was concerned about the wider implications of this species arriving in Britain in greater numbers. "They're only crabs at the end of the day but is their arrival on a regular basis telling us something is happening with the Gulf Stream/ These animals have the potential to settle in the UK." Mr Trewhella and his wife, Julie Hatcher, a marine biologist, have been studying long-haul drifts arriving in the UK from the United States and Canada for the past few years. They were beachcombing when Mr Trewhella came across the 40lb buoy. But it was not until he took it home and began investigating it more closely that he discovered the crabs. "They're very cute little things, they're lovely and quite exciting if you think about how far away you are," he said, adding that they are now thriving on a flip-flop in his aquarium. Together with his wife, Mr Trewhella has written a book, The Essential Guide to Beachcombing and the Strandline, about the exciting finds to be made on British beaches. He now hopes to expand on his research and is interested in starting a project in collaboration with local specialists in Bermuda. "I'd like to think there is someone in your part of the world who would be interested in these animals that are washing up thousand and thousands of miles away," he said. Mr Trewhella would like determine the exact origin of the crabs and how long it took them to travel across the Atlantic Ocean, as well as get assistance on identifying other unfamiliar species that are being washed up on British shores.

November 12. Tourism bosses have welcomed an increase in visitor arrivals for the third quarter of 2015. Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) CEO Bill Hanbury described the 5.6 per cent rise in cruise, yacht and air visitors between July and September compared with the same period in 2014 as “positive news.” But Mr Hanbury admitted his team was not satisfied with the pace of the progress, and insisted major investments in Bermudian entrepreneurs to improve “product and experience” as well as the millions ploughed into a state-of-the-art website and new rebranding architecture would pay dividends in the long term. He revealed that the BTA would be handing out a further $800,000 in grants next week as part of its drive to improve and increase activity options for visitors. “The numbers are tracking in the right direction, but we are not satisfied,” said Mr Hanbury. “We are not happy with the pace of progress, it has been frustrating. But we believe we have done the right thing in thinking about the long term solution rather than looking for a quick fix.” Between July and September vacation air arrivals saw a small increase of 0.31 per cent compared to last year, but for the first nine months of the year leisure air arrivals are down 0.80 per cent on 2014. The latest BTA statistics show that airlift capacity to Bermuda has dropped by eight per cent or 34,000 seats in the first three quarters of the year. However the first quarter of 2016 is forecast to see a 14 per cent year-over-year increase in airlift capacity. Mr Hanbury said: “In the last 18 months we have spent a great deal of money on building from the bottom up and establishing a solid foundation in the long term interests of Bermuda’s economy. This has involved a gigantic investment of $1.7 million in improving our product and experience because that was what our consumers told us we had to do. That money has been used to fund Bermudian entrepreneurs in tourism to improve visitor’s experiences in Bermuda and the information we are receiving is that people are feeling better about the product.” Mr Hanbury also revealed that the authority’s new website as well as fresh “rebranding architecture” was expected to go live at the beginning of 2016. He said: “In April the decision was taken to fund our next generation website as well as rebranding architecture. That has cost millions but we feel will make a difference in the long term. What we had before was not up to standard and was not allowing us to compete. We hope the new website, which will be at the cutting edge of digital marketing, and new brand architecture will be up and running by the beginning of 2016. Again this was a strategic decision to take funding out of sorely needed advertising efforts to rebuild the foundational assets. I believe the numbers we have got so far would have been better if we had just thrown the money at advertising, but that would not have fixed the inherent problems.”

November 12. The Minister of Economic Development’s trip to the America’s Cup World Series event in Sweden cost almost $4,000. Grant Gibbons, who has Cabinet responsibility for Bermuda’s America’s Cup preparations, traveled to Gothenburg for the event, which took place from August 28 to 30. According to the Bermuda Government’s travel expenses website, the total cost amounted to $3,863.19. “While in Gothenburg, Minister Gibbons joined with representatives of the America’s Cup Event Authority and America’s Cup major sponsors to extend a welcome to the next America’s Cup World Series Event in Bermuda during the middle of October,” the website stated. “The Minister’s attendance not only provided a unique opportunity to promote Bermuda as the host for the next America’s Cup World Series event, but for the ultimate America’s Cup Finals, scheduled for Bermuda in June of 2017.” According to the website, Dr Gibbons’ accommodations were covered by ACBDA. $3,415.80 were spent on air travel, $353.17 on ground transportation, $61.60 on meals and $32.62 were recorded as “miscellaneous.”

November 12. Willis Capital Markets & Advisory’s Resilience Re Ltd catastrophe bond platform has had its registration confirmed by the Bermuda Monetary Authority. It is one of four registrations confirmed during October. The others are BlueGreen Re Ltd, a newly formed Class 3A reinsurer sponsored by Credit Value Partners; Legal & General SAC Ltd, which is a Class C entity; and Walbrook Fleet Ltd, a Class 1 captive insurance company.

November 12. Age Concern has called on the Bermuda Government to show that it is in touch with the Island’s social issues as it prepares to deliver its fourth Throne Speech tomorrow. Claudette Fleming, the charity’s director, said that the “tone, intent and relevancy” of the Speech are more important to the people of Bermuda than any promises, which may or may not be fulfilled. Ms Fleming has previously urged the Government to show more empathy to seniors, many of whom are struggling to pay for health insurance and fear that financial assistance could become further stretched. She told The Royal Gazette: “Age Concern’s advocacy messages have been clear and consistent. “The cost of health insurance for seniors is too high, the standardization of residential care facilities is long overdue and should be a national priority. Age discrimination in the workplace is a violation of what should be a fundamental human right — the right to earn a living and take care of oneself. There is no doubt that the signs of an improving economy is good news for Bermuda, but if those improvements are not likely to be experienced by the average senior than our financial progress has a serious social problem. The Throne Speech shall determine whether the Government is in touch with the social issues of the country to the same degree as it is concerned about our financial success, particularly those issues that impact seniors and families: the two should go hand in hand.” The charity was one of several groups who laid out what they hope to see in tomorrow’s Throne Speech, in which the Government details its plans for the coming legislative year. The Coalition for the Protection of Children listed several wish list items, including legislation to allow a parent, caregiver or therapist to testify on a child’s behalf in matters related to child abuse. The Coalition’s founder, Sheelagh Cooper, said: “This is an amendment that was made by the Supreme Court in Canada called the Khan Decision. Sixty per cent of all reported cases of child sexual abuse never proceed because this amendment has not been enacted.” The group further called for amendments to legislation which grant the automatic release after two thirds of a prison sentence are served in the case of serious sexual or violent offenders. “This policy should be changed so that refusal to engage in treatment in these areas is considered a serious enough breach of prison rules to hold the inmate until the full expiry of his sentence,” Mrs Cooper added. The charity said it also wants to allow the publication of the names of the victim of sexual offences if the victim consents, the reinstatement of the sexual offender treatment programme at Westgate, a reversal of the decision to reduce costs at the Island’s community centres and supporting the use of family mediation by establishing a fund to help cover costs in appropriate cases. Meanwhile Martha Dismont of the Family Centre said she hopes for more initiatives to help struggling Bermudian families. “We are seeing a great many people struggling to ‘make ends meet’, particularly those who are unemployed. Our goal is to work in partnership with Government and other agencies to ensure that while the economy is recovering, struggling families have their basic needs for food, shelter and clothing, met.” She called on Government to recognise and acknowledge the importance of continuing to invest in the local population and hold a round-table discussion with representatives of the Island’s low-income families to hear about their challenges. “It is not necessary to promise solutions, but to listen to their challenges,” she added. Mrs Dismont further suggested that the Government should consider how to prioritize a level of investment in the youth and vulnerable families and prioritize funding for the organisations who ensure that the vulnerable members of society are getting their basic needs met. Last week, environmental group Greenrock called on the Government to announce initiatives ranging from a bottle bill to a mandatory minimum fee for single-use bags.

November 12. Bermuda College has announced that it has received re-accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. In a letter to the college’s president, Duranda Greene, the Commission stated that, at its September meeting, it was resolved that the Bermuda College “be continued in accreditation” — and that “the next comprehensive evaluation be scheduled for Spring 2025”. Dr Greene noted the significance of the achievement in that it proved that Bermuda College met the required standards for recognized quality education, specifically that it showed: substantial compliance with established qualitative standards; integrity in statements to the public about its programmes; institutional commitment to improvement; and sufficiency of institutional resources. She said in a press release: “Accreditation assures quality and promotes improvement through rigorous scrutiny. And I am delighted that Bermuda College has been given an independent stamp of approval that we possess sufficient human, fiscal and physical resources and, I might add, the commitment to fulfill our mission of student success. The accreditation has put us one step closer to realizing our vision of becoming an internationally recognized centre of excellence. The entire Bermuda College community is to be commended for a genuine team effort to set Bermuda’s students on their paths to success. As always, our focus is, and the primary beneficiaries are, our students.” According to the press release, the College was specifically commended for:

• careful implementation and progress of its ten-year strategic plan;

• financial progress, evident through the trend of increasing revenue, through discontinuance of tuition discounts, and declining deficits;

• efforts to diversify its revenue base through fundraising and leveraging its hotel operation.

NEASC is the oldest and most recognized of the regional accrediting associations in the United States accrediting more than 2,000 public and independent schools, colleges and universities in the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, and international schools in more than 65 nations. American institutions include Dartmouth, Johnson & Wales, the Naval War College, and Harvard University. Bermuda falls in the company of Greece, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Lebanon as international institutions accredited by NEASC. 

November 12. A formal ceremony will take place at City Hall on Friday after the Convening of Parliament and Throne Speech. The Royal Bermuda Regiment (RBR), which is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary, will be granted the Freedom of the City to march through the streets by Mayor Charles Gosling. “This Freedom Parade provides a wonderful opportunity to reunite and celebrate the achievements of the men and women of the Regiment and the great successes over the last 50 years and more,” said retired Major Leslie Lowe, of the Bermuda Regiment 50th Anniversary Committee (BR50). Parliament will be convened at 11am on Friday by Governor George Fergusson, who will read out the Throne Speech on behalf of the Bermuda Government. The Regiment, headed by the Band and Corps of Drums, will then march to City Hall via Front Street, Queen Street and Church Street. At City Hall, the Freedom of the City of Hamilton will be proclaimed and an intricate, hand-painted scroll of the proclamation will be unveiled as part of the ceremony. Current and former members of the RBR will then march along Church Street to the fire station on King Street. The public is invited to attend the ceremony at the grounds of City Hall and is advised by the City of Hamilton that road closures will be in effect. Former members of the Regiment and its predecessor units wishing to take part should e-mail or call 238-3880 to confirm their attendance, and should report to City Hall no later than 12pm on Friday. Dress is Regiment Tie and Blazer, with decorations. Former service members are invited to form-up in the forecourt of City Hall at noon, under Major Lowe, the former Director of Music. This guard will observe the presentation and then march off with the Regiment. A reception for invited guests will follow. For more information visit our, follow the BR50 on social media, or contact Captain Mark Lavery on 532-0204 or 238-3880.

November 11. The City of Hamilton today came to a standstill as the annual Remembrance Day parade marked two minutes’ silence to honour the fallen. Veterans joined serving Royal Bermuda Regiment (RBR) soldiers and police on parade at the Cenotaph on Front Street, while hundreds looked on. Allan Kuhn, 94, who served in the Second World War with the Canadian Army’s Grenadier Guards, paraded with other former soldiers as dignitaries, led by Governor George Fergusson, laid wreaths at the memorial. Mr Kuhn said: “It’s very important to be here. It’s very emotional. You get a lot of young people too and that’s important.” Anglican Canon Thomas Nisbett, 90, who served in the Bermuda Militia Infantry guarding military installations on the Island in the Second World War, added: “I never miss it. I really look forward to it, especially in remembrance of those I knew in these days who are not with us any more. I feel proud of the fact I can march in their honour.” Vernon Clarke, a former regular soldier in the British Army’s Royal Engineers, who served in Europe at the height of the Cold War and did two tours of troubled Northern Ireland, said: “It’s vital to remember. When I was serving in Germany we went to some of the battlefields and I saw the graves. As far as the eye can see it was just graves. It’s one thing hearing a number on some TV programme — but to see crosses covering an entire hillside for miles is something else.” Chip Waters, a former Colonel in the United States Army Rangers and a paratrooper, added: “I come every year. Col Waters, 65, from Southampton, who served in the then-Bermuda Cadet Corps as a schoolboy in the 1960s, added: “Bermudians have made a difference in the world and it’s important to recognise that fact, whether it’s now or in the past. Bermudians have fought in all the world wars and every war that’s been since and a lot have been on peacekeeping operations in various places. The Regiment has a proud history — the Bermuda Rifles and the Bermuda Militia Artillery had battle honours from both world wars and the Regiment is important to Bermuda. Help is a long way away, so our help is from our own. That’s particularly important during things like hurricanes.” Governor George Fergusson, who is the ultimate commanding officer of the Regiment, led the wreath-laying ceremony, said: “It was an impressive turnout and very good as always to see the veterans. Sadly, one or two I got to know are not here from previous years. It was an excellent ceremony and respectfully and movingly carried out.” Michael Dunkley, the Premier, added: “You can never forget the service and the sacrifice of those who came before us. Pretty much the whole Cabinet was out and the streets were full, even with the bad weather. That to me sends a message that people will never forget.” Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Michael Foster-Brown said: “It’s always a special and moving event in the calendar. It’s a chance to honour the service of those who gave so much. It’s especially good as it’s the Regiment’s 50th anniversary and also the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War having been so recent. It was extra special.”

November 11. The Convening of Parliament will take place on Friday on the grounds of the Cabinet Office. Governor George Fergusson will deliver the Throne Speech detailing the Bermuda Government's legislative agenda for the year. Michael Dunkley, the Premier, and MPs will be present at the event, which will begin at 11am. The public is also invited to attend. Live coverage by CITV will be available on CableVision channel 2 and WOW channel 102 starting at 10.30am.

November 10. Dredging work on the North Channel that will allow Bermuda to accommodate the largest cruise liners in the industry has been completed, more than two weeks ahead of schedule. The three-strong fleet of specialized vessels, which has moved more than 100,000 cubic yards of aggregate from the seabed to the South Basin, is expected to leave the Island later this week bound for Panama. The operation was expected to take about a month, however the crews have worked around the clock making good progress and finished the job within two weeks of work beginning on October 27. Joe Simas, vice-president of marine operations for the Meyer Group of Companies, told The Royal Gazette that the project had gone very smoothly. "All the work has been completed well ahead of schedule.  The suction dredger Niccolo Machiavelli along with two splithopper barges Astrolabe and Boussole will now be mobilized and go back to Panama after this successful dredging operation. The dredging work has involved deepening and widening specific sections of the North Channel as well as The Narrows off St George's. The material from the dredge operation has been landed at the South Basin for the America's Cup Village project." Andrew Dias, general manager of the West End Development Corporation, said: "As the operation has just been completed the final confirmed numbers have not yet been presented however it is safe to say approximately 100,000 cubic yards has been deposited. Overall the operation was a success and done well under the projected time schedule." The bulk carrier, Balder, is expected to return to Bermuda on Friday to bring in the second of seven shipments of granite aggregate that will also be used in the South Basin project.

November 10. Time is running short for the Bermuda War Veterans Association, now precariously short on funds. With just three years remaining in its reserves, the group is appealing for help in its support for a group of 11 veterans and their dependents. “I don’t see us being able to pay our expenses if we can’t raise more,” said the group’s president, Jack Lightbourn, speaking shortly before Remembrance Day. The association has acquired extra burdens as its officers get older, according to Mr Lightbourn: the organization is increasingly reliant on external help for administration, which comes at a cost. The youngest of its members is 89, while the group itself was established 96 years ago. Grateful for the corporate and public generosity that has sustained it, Mr Lightbourn said the association would have been unable to provide financial support ten years ago, had it not been for its reserves. The association was once active selling tags and ran a club that was “well patronized”, he said. “The club was only allowed to spend 50 per cent, and the other 50 per cent had to be put aside for the needs of veterans. We were fortunate enough to be able to get that up high.” However, just three years’ worth of funds remain in the bank for the organization to continue paying out roughly $120,000 in financial assistance. At present, public collections cover about a quarter of that. “We are not able to go out collecting on the streets any more — it’s very difficult to get the amount of people we need to help us,” Mr Lightbourn told The Royal Gazette. “Unless we can get 12 or 20 people to go out on the streets, it’s not worth people’s while. We are much better sending out letters and advertisements.” Peter Darling, a veteran of the Royal Marines, said the association had struggled with funding for years now. “The association is doing what it can. I support it, obviously, just less than I used to. My wife and I have had to make drastic cuts on what we give to charity. They have always been short of money but any charity has less these days.” The group’s appeal went out as the Island prepared to mark Remembrance Day. The parade commemorating those who served and fell in two World Wars will embark at 10.30am, with Michael Dunkley and Governor George Fergusson leading the laying of wreaths at the Cenotaph, along with the war memorial on the grounds of Cabinet. The ceremony will take place in the Anglican Cathedral in the event of bad weather. “Though the numbers on parade sadly decline each year, that spirit is still strong and it is with considerable pride that Bermuda pauses on Remembrance Day to reflect on their service,” the Premier said. “We will remember them.” Walter Roban, the shadow national security minister, said: “It is so important to be reminded that the freedoms and privileges we enjoy were hard fought for by young men and women on our shores and on battlegrounds in distant lands, some never to return. Each generation of Bermudian must be instilled with an understanding of the value their service and sacrifice means to all of us. It is so crucial to our history that we now make sure all who have served receive their rightful benefit and are all commemorated on the Cabinet Grounds with a fitting memorial.” Attrition has also taken its toll on the ageing support base for the Bermuda War Veterans Association, according to William Adams, secretary and trustee for the group. “Quite a few of the people that used to help us have passed on. Our organization was started at the end of the First World War to help the veterans and their dependents. Mr Lightbourn and myself are both veterans of the Second World War — there are so few of us left that we can’t get out there and run a tag day like we used to do. Our problem also is that the people we are supporting are at least 90 years old.” Time had steadily taken its toll on the association, which once owned a club on Dundonald Street but opted in May of 2000 to close it down. Frank Farmer, the president of the day, said the ageing membership no longer needed a full-time location. In 2011, the association announced a sharp cut in its services — again citing an ageing population of donors. It had also lost $45,000 from its shares at Butterfield Bank. For its annual appeal, the association is sending out letters to the roughly 300 donors and companies that have maintained it over the years. The association supports Bermudians who volunteered for service overseas during the Second World War and Korean War, assisting veterans and widows in need of help. To assist Bermuda’s veterans, please donate or write to the association at: P O Box HM 2716, Hamilton HM LX.

November 10. Meteorologists are keeping an eye on a newly formed tropical storm, which is expected to pass by Bermuda tomorrow morning as a Category 1 Hurricane. Tropical Storm Kate was this morning about 600 miles southwest of Bermuda and moving north-northeast at 21mph. Forecasts suggest the system will continue northward in the coming days while strengthening, reaching hurricane strength this evening before passing between Bermuda and the East Coast of the United States The Bermuda Weather Service (BWS) has classified the storm as a potential threat to the Island. As of 11am today, the storm was expected to pass around 153 miles to the Island’s west-northwest at 5am tomorrow. According to the National Hurricane Centre, the storm passed east of the northwest Bahamas at about 8pm yesterday and boasts maximum sustained winds of 70mph. Tropical storm force winds this morning extended outward up to 80 miles from the centre of the storm. According to a spokesman for the Bermuda Government, the Emergency Measures Organisation is closely monitoring developments and is encouraging residents to stay abreast of updates from the BWS. The service’s public forecast stated: “Winds [will] increase to strong late Tuesday night through part of Wednesday with additional shower activity as Tropical Storm Kate, currently near the Bahamas, passes to our northwest eventually being absorbed by another low to its north.” This morning Walter Roban, the Shadow Minister of National Security, urged residents to take the necessary steps to prepare for the change in weather conditions. He said: “The official reports indicate that Tropical Storm Kate will past to the west of Bermuda on Wednesday morning. At this point tropical storm conditions can change and change quickly. In light of our experience last year with hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo, we call on residents to begin preparations, pay attention to news reports on the weather in the days ahead and proceed in a sensible manner to ensure safety.” Belco said in a statement shortly after 12pm today: “As in the past, Belco will respond to power outages as they occur and while it is safe to do so. Should you lose power call 955, however, if you are unable to get through, please note that engineers in our operations centre are monitoring all circuits and are instantly aware of large areas affected and the associated circuits. In the event that major restoration work is required after the storm, it will begin with essential services being restored followed by largest affected areas. Although a tropical storm warning is in effect, we encourage residents to please make all preparations early so that you and your families can be as comfortable and safe as possible.”

November 9. An almost 400-year-old Bermuda coin fetched more than $70,000 at auction recently. The coin, a rare Sommer Islands sixpence popularly known as “hogge money”, was one of a collection of coins sold at auction in New York on October 28. The event, presented by Heritage Auctions, featured the Eugene H Gardner Collection. The sixpence, which dates back to 1615 or 1616, was described as being the finest reported of its type. At the end of bidding, the coin had fetched a total of $70,500. Hogge money was reportedly introduced to the Bermuda economy in 1616 — just less than ten years after colonization began — under the leadership of Daniel Tucker, who served under the auspices of the Bermuda Company. Brass pieces were introduced in denominations of twopence, threepence, sixpence and a shilling with Roman numerals representing their value. While they were used as currency, tobacco remained the main medium of exchange for larger transactions. A description of the auction coin states: “This exceptional example of the Sommer Islands sixpence retains some of its original silver wash and much of the design motifs. It is the rare small portholes variant, with substantial detail remaining on the sailing ship motif on the reverse. Three of the four portholes are visible. The obverse ‘hogge’ is sharply visible, as are the ‘SOMMER ILANDS’ legend and denomination. The never cleaned surfaces exhibit beautiful red and green oxidized patina that attest to this coin’s originality.” While only worth a few pence in their day, hogge coins can now be worth anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000.

November 9. The Bermuda Legion is aiming to create a residential care facility for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease — in a move that could also help save the cash-strapped Focus charity. Jerry’s House in St George’s is owned by Focus, the addiction treatment group that is facing a battle for survival owing to financial difficulties. The Legion and Age Concern say a home specializing in care for Alzheimer’s patients is vital, while Focus says the $1.7 million asking price for the 3.3-acre property would go a long way to easing its own woes. Focus founder Sandy Butterfield told The Royal Gazette: “It’s perfect, an absolutely phenomenal piece of property for that kind of need. It is a waterfront setting with a garden and goats; it is a very therapeutic setting, and the building is huge. But in order for Focus to stay alive, we have to sell it — not that I want to; it’s got to be for the good of all.” Last week, this newspaper reported how Focus needs $450,000 a year to fund its wide range of services for addicts, but has struggled for income since the economic crisis began. Focus received the Barry Road property by donation, painstakingly converting it into a supportive residency for clients. It opened 12 years ago on former Cable and Wireless land, and still takes in an income of $1,500 monthly from a telecommunications tower on the site. “It’s a beautiful spot; the ground is level, and there’s room to walk around and sit outside,” Ms Butterfield added. “Everything is set up. Right now they could house about 12, but just doing interior modifications they could do more.” Carol Everson, welfare case worker for the Legion, said her charity was desperate for assistance in crowd funding the venture. “There is no way I would want to take the roof from over another man’s head, especially one trying to recover from addiction. Without the sale, Focus will default on the mortgage and be penniless; if it is bought, Focus will be saved financially and can continue. It is ideal, and the perfect setting for treating persons with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease — and a minute’s walk from the Sylvia Richardson rest home.” For seniors such as 93-year-old Herbert Tatem, a Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps (BVRC) veteran who signed up at the age of 16, such a facility could prove critical. “I have been looking after him for 15 years, since he had a stroke and an aneurysm,” his wife Dorothy said. “For a while he was okay, but now he has dementia. Some days he is fine, but today this morning, he was not himself. Right now I am not too well either. I am 91. But I make it.” Claudette Fleming of Age Concern said the Island was seeing “growing instances of Alzheimer’s — and we struggle with the resources. It will be important for the community to get behind what the Legion is trying to do, because of the challenges all charities are facing,” she added. According to a spokeswoman for the Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB), the old Alzheimer’s and Dementia Unit, which had been a separate facility, has had its patients absorbed into BHB’s Continuing Care service. “BHB has a limited number of beds in its Continuing Care service, and only a portion of them are paid for by government funds — so a facility offering quality, affordable placements would therefore be a welcome option for many families. BHB is often impacted by people who cannot find residential placements after an illness or accident when they have had to be admitted to hospital. These are not always Alzheimer’s or dementia patients, but are people in need of long-term care placements. More availability of long-term placements generally would therefore help ensure timely discharges, which is much better for patients quality of life and well-being, and usually more cost-effective for the healthcare system.” To contact the Bermuda Legion, e-mail or call 293-3975 or 703-6180.

November 9. A newer, bigger and faster container ship has taken over the Somers Isles’ route between Bermuda and Florida. The new vessel made her maiden voyage to the Island at the end of last month and is the sixth ship to carry the Somers Isles name. Previously the ship had been called the Fiorano and hauled recyclables in the seas of northern Europe. The new Somers Isles travels around two knots faster than her predecessor and can hold over 350 containers as well as 50 refrigerated containers. The ship travels between Fernandina Beach in Florida and Bermuda three times a month and is managed by Container Ship Management Ltd. Howard Pitcher, CSM vice president of commercial operations, said: “This ship is much larger than the one it is replacing. We are positioning Somers Isles to be one of the main lines to carry construction equipment and building materials for what looks to be a new phase in development in Bermuda. Our previous ship also has troubles keeping schedule in rougher weather months, so this investment in our future should benefit our current and future customers greatly in the coming months. As the ship was only built in 2012, we may be seeing her for quite a few years in this trade. This vessel is also laid out in such a way that it will be much quicker to work here in Hamilton by Stevedoring Services.” The old Somers Isles will now return to the Mediterranean. George Butterfield, manager of Meyer Freight, added: “In adverse weather conditions, the new Somers Isles is more efficient and is better able to maintain its schedule. Large deck hatches make offloading easier and faster. With the vessel being discharged quicker, our customers can receive their cargo within hours after the vessel arrives.”

November 9. A trove of little-known Bermudian history, replete with facts and pictures never before gathered, hits the shelves this evening. The third volume of local author Horst Augustinovic’s series What You May Not Know About Bermuda took two years of research. The full story is told of historical dioramas once on display at Fort St Catherine, which crumbled apart during renovations in 2010. It includes the legend of the Irish monk, St Brendan, said to have discovered an Island much like Bermuda in the 6th century. “I expanded on it — how many people in Bermuda know of this legend?” Mr Augustinovic said. “I am glad just to have the record of them — some day they will be totally forgotten.” Saved from obscurity is the 1886 picture of Marriott Morris, who brought his penny-farthing bicycle to Bermuda and started a fad for what was then a new form of transport. The latest volume concentrated heavily on military history, in part due to the recent 100th anniversary of the First World War. Scanning dispatches from the War Office in Britain to the local Governor, Mr Augustinovic was intrigued to spot an exceptional payout of £8,000 over a 1915 incident. An American visitor, George Montgomery, lost his leg when local sailor Alfred Lottimore, out on a scenic cruise, incurred the gunfire of sentries guarding German prisoners of war on Port’s Island. A rare photograph from that same year, of a broken radio mast at Daniel’s Head that killed four members of the Bermuda Militia Artillery, was identified thanks to the author’s investigations. Mr Augustinovic called on the Bermuda National Museum as part of his research. A mystery picture was unearthed, showing a collapsed structure, that was “clearly the one.” Another rarity from the First World War is a photograph of a black Bermudian serviceman, Lance Bombardier Cyril Chesterfield Eston, taken in France and recently found on eBay. Another obscure fact is that historic Carter House in St David’s, one of Bermuda’s oldest houses, briefly served as a beauty salon when it was taken over in 1941 for the US Base. Asked for his favourite quirk of history brought to light, Mr Augustinovic had a tough time choosing — but the 1937 case of 19-year-old Evelyn Stovell, who forced an apology out of the Bishop of Bermuda, might qualify. To widespread shock, even outrage, King Edward VIII had abdicated in 1936 to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson, and thus became Duke of Windsor. Ms Stovell was an employee at the newspaper’s office in Hamilton, where she had pictures on the wall of the new Duke and Duchess of Windsor. On January 5, 1937, she found them torn down. The culprit turned out to be Bermuda’s bishop, the Right Rev Arthur Heber Browne, who had found the pictures “disgraceful” and destroyed them. “She was so furious that she found him and challenged him,” Mr Augustinovic said. The Bishop had to apologize for “yielding to a sudden impulse, which I ought to have known how to control.” The book is on sale today at the Bermuda Book Store, as well as the Bookmart, where the author will be signing copies from 6pm to 9pm.

November 9. Nikki Bascome needed just 2min 33sec to ruthlessly demolish Mexican Pilo Reyes in a total mismatch at The Fairmont Southampton on Saturday night. The Bermudian was simply too fast, too powerful and too athletic for his overmatched rival, who wore the look of a condemned man on his way to the “sporting gallows” for the entirety of the one-sided battering. Boxing for the first time since his stoppage win over American Claudele Duprier in July, Bascome sensed blood shortly after the opening bell when a left-right combination sent Reyes careering across the ring. A desperate-looking Reyes tried to close the distance and apply pressure, but his predictable punches were easily parried by Bascome, who countered with a firm left hook to the temple. With Reyes offering no real threat, Bascome quickly pounced on his opponent, peppering him with vicious and accurate shots, and from then on it was a matter of when, not if, Bascome would seal his fourth professional win. The decisive blow came from a thudding overhead right that bludgeoned Reyes to the canvas, with referee Oscar Lightbourne swiftly calling a halt, much to the elation of the lively crowd of about 1,300 spectators. “I don’t think he could have held up to my power for much longer,” Bascome said. “You could just sense that immediately. I’ve been sparring with lots of bigger guys and I felt more solid. I pushed him back with a hook and I could see he was stunned, so I just jumped on him.” Still very much in the embryonic stages of his professional career, Bascome knows there will be far tougher examinations ahead than that posed by Reyes. He admits that he needs to get more rounds under his belt and hopes to return to the ring for his fifth welterweight bout early next year. “I’ve still got to go back to the drawing board and work on things,” the 25-year-old said. “I could have used my jab better in a fight like this. I need to be more active, that’s the plan right now. I want to take this as far as it can go.” Allan “Forty” Rego, Bascome’s trainer, believes his protégé is now ready to move to the next stage of his boxing education. “He’s almost there and he’s starting to read things a lot better now,” Rego said. “He’s coming along pretty good. I was quite pleased with his performance tonight.” Rego admitted he was disappointed that Reyes, who is primarily a Muay Thai fighter, was unable to offer a greater challenge. “I was expecting the competition to have been a little more, but, hey, you have to work with what you’ve got,” Rego said. I don’t think the boy expected Nikki to be that strong. Nikki is strong and punches really well. You don’t have to be big to punch hard; you just need to stand right.” Bascome will now take a short break from the gym before deciding his next move, with Rego revealing that there had been contact with overseas matchmakers. “Right now, I want Nikki to relax because you’d be surprised at the emotional strain that comes with the training. I just want him to get his mind back together and then we’ll work on something. We’ve had a couple of proposals from abroad, but we will have to see how they pan out.”

Sunday, November 8. Royal Gazette newspaper not published on Sundays.

November 7. The handling of the St George’s Hotel project came under fire during a town-hall meeting at Penno’s Wharf on Thursday night. While the attendees of the meeting expressed support in principle to a hotel on the former Club Med site, many expressed concerns about the lack of consultation in advance of the signing of the master development agreement and passing of the legislation. Of particular concern was the question of access to Gates Bay, also known as Fort St Catherine’s Beach. Francis Richardson, the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport, told the crowd that the 122-room hotel would take around 30 to 36 months to complete, with work expected to begin as soon as the second quarter of 2016. He also said the hotel would be built “down the hill”, closer to the beach than the former Club Med hotel, but that contracts required that the public have “reasonable access” to the beach. Progressive Labour Party MP Lovitta Foggo, however, questioned what the definition of “reasonable access” was, and what it would mean for members of the public. Meanwhile, former St George’s MP Kim Swan questioned why contracts have been signed before plans for the project had been revealed. “We need to see what a model would look like,” Mr Swan said. “What’s taking place right now in St George’s is signing a blank cheque.” St George’s MP Kenneth Bascome, however, urged the crowd to keep an open mind until they could speak with the developer and hear what he has to say about the project. “I believe that the developer should be here,” he said. “That’s my personal opinion. That way they can answer the questions in a more informative manner.” He said he had spoken to St George’s mayor Quinell Francis and suggested that she invite the developer to speak. However, Ms Francis reiterated that the St George’s Hotel Act was passed before the Corporation and the residents of St George’s were consulted and the beach remains an area of concern. “If we want to go to Gates Bay, where will we park? Because we will be entering a hotel development. You and our other representatives who passed this legislation didn’t consult with your constituents to see how we felt about this development, particularly in reference to this site plan. We can’t ask them about reasonable access to the beach which parliamentarians have already passed.” Asked how the hotel would affect plans to update the town’s septic system, Mr Richardson said the subject had been broached with the developer. While he said the developer was not willing to foot the bill entirely, he is willing to work with the corporation and government.

November 7. A new online taxi booking service has been greeted with widespread approval on local social media. Hitch Bermuda, a taxi booking app, launches on Monday. While the home-grown technology elicited some concern for traditional cabbies, the service is restricted to licensed taxis and taxi drivers. In this respect, Hitch differs crucially from the international transport app Uber, which has riled taxi operators worldwide by opening up the market to regular drivers. In theory, Bermuda’s pre-arranged booking service will eliminate problems such as drivers taking jobs from one another, or not showing up. “The app is free to use and will soon be available on both the Apple Store and Google Play store, for free,” marketing director Coy Millett told The Royal Gazette. “Any licensed taxi driver can register as a Hitch driver, and we regularly check registration details to ensure that only licensed taxi drivers service our passengers.” Among other features, the app will allow customers to track their cabs, and pay electronically, thus removing the need for cash. Customers can also see driver’s pictures and vehicle information. The service is the creation of Calvin Minors and Sergio Virgil, with Mr Minors saying the two had “worked tirelessly on it”. “It started out as small talk about a year ago, and now here it is,” Mr Minors said. Meanwhile, as Uber’s global expansion puts the company in increasing friction with overseas governments and taxi companies, the Bermuda Government is exploring the Island’s own laws. A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport said that a review was now under way in tandem with the Attorney General’s Chambers, examining the legal implications of taxi apps — including Uber. “The ministry is cognizant of the various technological applications that are available for the transportation industry,” he said. “Therefore, it is imperative that we have the appropriate legislation in place to avoid potential legal issues.” The Island’s taxi industry has historically lacked a central taxi authority, but technological advances could bring greater cohesion. According to the ministry spokesman, “significant progress” is under way to move toward “a central dispatching system, in consultation with the local dispatching companies, that will utilise many of the current technological applications that are available.” Last month, Bermuda Island Taxi Service launched an app service, and Leo Simmons, the head of the Bermuda Taxi Operators Association (BTOA), said there were now “at least three” versions of the technology on the Island. Expressing a degree of scepticism for Hitch, Mr Simmons said he felt it could turn out to be “Uber, just with a nicer name. They had a presentation in September. I spoke to them then and said that I didn’t fully agree with it as it puts the dispatch company out of business, or hurts their business, and you have to get the taxi drivers to buy into it as well as the public. Some feel that it’s not legal. They don’t have a dispatching licence and theoretically this is dispatching. I think that the Government needs to step in and make a statement one way or another, whether this is legal or illegal.” Mr Simmons added that the advent of the off season had left many drivers in difficult straits. “Go around and look at taxi drivers; there are no boats in and we have very few people coming in off the planes,” he said. “You’ve got guys down at the airport waiting three, four hours hoping to get a job. Sometimes these flights come in and they’ve only got 35 people on.” Uber is most prevalent in North American cities and has yet to move into an island jurisdiction such as Bermuda or the Caribbean — although the service is now available in Honolulu, Hawaii.

November 7. People are being urged to take personal responsibility in the fight against obesity and poor health. Doctors alone cannot do it all, according to Dr-Juan DeRoza, the Assessment Officer for the Department of Health’s Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit. The STEPS to a Well Bermuda Survey conducted in 2014 showed that 75 per cent of the Island’s population is overweight or obese. And if the problem is not addressed, Ms DeRoza said it could lead to higher healthcare costs, reduced life expectancy and more chronic diseases among the younger population. “Time with the physician can be limited and individuals may need to take more personal responsibility on getting the information that they need,” Ms DeRoza said. “Doctors can’t do it all, the Health Department can’t do it all. It needs to be a combined approach to improving the health of our population.” According to Ms DeRoza, the STEPS survey identified five main risk factors for non-communicable diseases: smoking, less than five servings of fruit and vegetables per day, not meeting the World Health Organisation recommendations for physical activity, being overweight and obese, and raised blood pressure. “Ideally we address all of them,” Ms DeRoza said. “I think the one that resonates with most people is going to be the overweight and obesity. And the fact that overweight and obesity is interrelated — it’s a risk factor and a condition — is what elevates it to one of the highest priorities.” The survey also showed that almost 40 per cent of adults reported being advised by their doctor or healthcare worker to either maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight. “We did ask people if physicians have given them lifestyle advice regarding eating more fruits and vegetables and the physical activity and the results weren’t as high as we would have expected,” Ms DeRoza said. She explained that the survey specifically asked if people had been told to reduce their fat or salt intake. She said the numbers could indicate that people do not remember being given advice or that doctors are imparting more general advice. But by providing more targeted advice, doctors can help tackle the obesity problem, according to Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, Seniors and Environment. “I do think that doctors have to make sure that the conversations they have with their patients are more targeted because there is a tendency that the doctor says something to you but you don’t view it as a conversation. It isn’t just about taking the measurement but turning around and having a conversation with them. You don’t want them to get up to where they are now really overweight because then you’ve got too much of a lifestyle to change. We’ve got to start identifying it earlier, so the conversations have to be earlier. The extent to which patients take in the advice is also questionable. If the patients aren’t hearing it, even though you’re saying it, then the reality is that the message didn’t get there. If they don’t take the message to heart, what will end up happening is that more people will get overweight, more people will get the chronic diseases that come as a consequence of that, more people will then be on medication.” Ms Atherden added that more people will also be off work and as a consequence the cost of healthcare will go up and the productivity of the country will decline. “And we can’t afford that from the perspective that we want a well Bermuda. Our target is to make sure that when we do the survey next time that it has not gone any higher. It’s all about us turning around and saying ‘get down to your ideal body weight because it’s important to you from the perspective of being able to carry that weight, trying to be as healthy as you can. This is important. This is so that you can live longer, this is so that you can have a better quality of life." For more information visit

November 7. Governor George Fergusson will go head-to-head with Michael Dunkley this weekend at a pilot gig regatta in St George’s Harbour. The Premier and Mr Fergusson will also be joined by Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson, as well as a host of gig rowers for an afternoon of races and activities on Saturday. The event, organized by the Bermuda Pilot Gig Club, will begin at 1pm outside the East End Mini Yacht Club. During the afternoon there will be music and refreshments before a prize-giving ceremony in the Sea Cadets building. The first race is scheduled to begin at 2pm and members of the public are welcome to try their hand at gig rowing for the first time.

November 7. The Bermuda Government is looking into several options to get cruise ships to St George’s without widening Town Cut. Speaking at a town-hall meeting, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport, Francis Richardson, said that finding smaller cruise ships to service the East End is difficult, but the Government is considering alternatives. “Next year, in 2016, we will have five visits. And for 2017, so far there are five confirmed,” he said. “Also in 2017 we are in discussions with NCL to have one of their smaller cruise ships chartered for the entire month of June for the America’s Cup event berthed right here in St George’s. In spite of our best efforts, there are a limited number of cruise ships that can even pull into St George’s. The ministry, with the assistance of the BTA (Bermuda Tourism Authority), continuously encourages our cruise partners to consider St George’s as part of their itinerary plan. Also some which we don’t have particularly strong partnerships with. We are encouraging them, but it’s not easy-going. Because of those challenges, the department has now really started to focus on prioritizing finding a solution for St George’s. We know that Town Cut is certainly an emotive issue for St George’s, and there are proponents and opponents of those options, but there are tangible options that can be utilized in St George’s. We have looked at locations along the north shore of St George’s, close to Murray’s Anchorage. There is also another contender towards the eastern side.” He added that the ministry is now in advanced discussion about the possible options and he hopes to be able to provide more details and a decision in the future. Asked for more details, he noted a 2008 study that investigated the possibility of erecting a cruise ship pier near Murray’s Anchorage, reaching out from the St George’s Golf Course. Members of the public fired a host of questions about the proposals, including asking whether the Government had considered implementing guarantees with the cruise ships in the same way that guarantees are issued for airlines to encourage smaller ships to the Island or if they had looked beyond their usual partners. Mr Richardson responded that staff at the Ministry and BTA have been looking everywhere, leading to the visits scheduled for the next two years. “We thought we were very close a few weeks ago to having a ship here for more than ten calls, but it didn’t work out,” he said. They also asked if tendering passengers from a ship moored outside Town Cut would be feasible, but Mr Richardson said such measures sparked complaints when attempted with the Veendam in 2012. That’s something that still takes place on occasion, but it’s not an ideal situation and most cruise lines don’t like to tender and the East End does present challenges,” he said. “Sometimes there are challenges getting passengers from the ship to the tender.” While one member of the audience called on Government to dredge Town Cut while the dredging equipment is in Bermuda, Mr Richardson said it was not on the cards as there is very little sediment in the cut.

November 6. A Bermuda-based property developer is to join forces with a Qatar investment firm in a massive $8.6 billion development in New York. Brookfield Property Managers has teamed up with the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) to develop a five building, seven million square foot project in the west of Manhattan. Bruce Flatt, the CEO of Brookfield subsidiary Brookfield Asset Management, which will carry out the partnership development, said: “Brookfield has enjoyed a longstanding successful relationship with the Qatar Investment Authority and we are thrilled that they share our vision for this transformative project." The deal means that Brookfield has sold a 44 per cent stake in the development to QIA. QIA CEO Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani added: “We are pleased to expand our relationship with Brookfield and invest in this world-class project." This joint venture is an example of our strategy to invest in high-quality real estate with strong partners." it is also a further demonstration of QIA’s long-term confidence in the US market." The development will be bounded by 31st and 33rd Streets and 9th and 10th Avenues and feature a mixed-use development with offices, residential and retail space. The news came as Brookfield Property Partners unveiled its results for the third quarter of the year and announced Ric Clark as chairman and Brian Kingston as CEO. The firm reported funds from operations of $218 million — $19 million up on the $199 million recorded for the same period last year. Brookfield said the increase was driven by major acquisitions during the year, including an increased interest in London’s Canary Wharf and, through its participation in Brookfield-sponsored real estate funds, the acquisition of holiday centres Center Parcs in the UK and Associated Estates in the US. In addition, Brookfield’s office and rental operations had “positive same-store growth". Net income attributable to shareholders for the quarter was $193 million (27 cents per unit) down from the $978 million ($1.37 per unit) recorded in the same period last year. The firm said: “The decrease in the year-over-year result is mainly attributable to greater fair value gains realized in the third quarter of the prior year." Mr  Clark said: “Our financial results for the quarter were bolstered partly by revenues coming online from the new leases at Brookfield Place in downtown Manhattan, which will have a large impact on funds from operations in the fourth quarter and to an even greater extent in 2016.” 

November 6. Bermuda’s gross domestic product (GDP) went up 1.5 per cent to more than $1.39 billion in the second quarter of the year after adjustment for inflation. An increase in the balance on trade in goods and services — which offset a decline in investment in fixed assets — was cited as the main driver for the increase. Before inflation, the increase stood at 2.4 per cent, which followed a revised increase of 2.7 per cent for the first quarter of the year. It was the third consecutive quarter of real GDP growth. Residents spent more on durable goods like motor vehicles and on non-durable goods like food purchases in stores, up 1.5 per cent and 0.6 per cent after adjustment for inflation. Government spending also went up by three per cent — attributed to increased outlays on administration — an increase of 2.3 per cent allowing for inflation. Investment in fixed assets fell by more than 5 per cent due to lower construction activity and less spending on plant and machinery. The net surplus on trade in goods and services went up 12.1 per cent, while exports of services fell 2.1 per cent, reflecting lower receipts from insurance services. Imports of goods fell by 9.5 per cent due to lower fuel imports, while imports of services fell by six per cent due to lower payments for transport by air and sea and management consultancy. In real terms, the net surplus on trade in goods and services rose 13.8 per cent.

November 6. By the end of today, nearly 25,000 cubic yards of aggregate will have been sprayed into the South Basin to form the foundations of the America’s Cup village. The first of seven boatloads of ground granite arrived on board the 30,000-tonne bulk carrier Balder from Canada at about 4pm yesterday. The ship was maneuvered into position alongside a series of deep metal pilings, which had previously been driven into the seabed, by two specialized tractor tugs before the load was sprayed overboard. It is expected to take about 36 hours for the aggregate to be unloaded. The Balder — one of the largest vessels to sail into the South Basin — is set to return to Bermuda a further six times over the coming weeks to discharge granite for the America’s Cup Village development. Meanwhile, between 80,000 and 100,000 cubic yards of aggregate has already been dredged from the North Channel by specialized equipment and deposited in the South Basin. “The dredging work in the North Channel has gone extremely well, and is expected to be completed ahead of schedule,” said Andrew Dias, general manager of the West End Development Corporation (Wedco). "It could be completed as early as the end of next week. The arrival of the first boatload of aggregate was a significant moment in the South Basin project. This is the first load of seven that will be arriving in the South Basin in the coming weeks. The Balder is certainly one of the largest ships to come into the South Basin. It will be on the Island until Saturday morning when it will sail back to Canada to be reloaded and then return again. It has been an extremely busy few days and we are pleased with how everything has gone so far.” The Canadian-based company RA Murray won the tender process to supply and deliver the imported fill for the South Basin project. The total budget for the delivery of the land reclamation scheme, which includes the recently installed bridge and the realignment of the approach to the bridge, is $39 million. Under the present plans about nine acres of land will be reclaimed inside the south eastern corner of the existing breakwater, creating a gravel-surfaced island. The plans include a boat yard with multiple dry storage racks, two parking areas, a marina office building, a building to house the Marine and Ports offices and a larger service building also earmarked for the department. The fill area will also include a dock specifically for tugs and ferries. The northern side of the breakwater will house a marina with 68 berths.

November 6. The final agreement between developers and the Corporation of St George for a marina to be built in the harbour has been signed. The agreement between the corporation and St George’s Harbour Marina Ltd has been sent to Michael Fahy, the Minister for Home Affairs, for approval. Quinell Francis, the Mayor of St George’s, hopes that legislation paving the way for the development will be laid before Parliament in the coming session and work could begin at the start of 2016 once proposals have gone through the planning process. “I am very excited that we have reached this point,” she told The Royal Gazette. Last night, Ms Francis outlined the latest developments in the marina project to a public meeting at Penno’s Wharf. “The latest progress that has been made with regards to the marina is certainly the most significant news we have had in the first six months of the new administration. The developer will be operating the marina, but the corporation will have a 20 per cent share under the final agreement. The agreement was sent to Minister Fahy at the end of last month and we hope that legislation paving the way for the marina will be put before Parliament in the next session. It’s a very significant moment for St George’s.” Mark Soares, one of three Bermudian investors behind the project, and director of St George’s Harbour Marina Ltd also welcomed the latest developments. “This has been a long process which began back in January 2012. We have been through two different corporations and a change of Government, but at the end of the day this is something that will benefit everyone. St George’s is the perfect fit for this project and it is designed for visiting yachts and the revenue that they bring in. The timing is also great and we hope to take advantage of all the opportunities that come with the America’s Cup in 2017.” If the development is approved by planners then building work could begin in the early part of 2016. Ms Francis told The Royal Gazette that it was hoped that the first phase of work would be completed in time for the America’s Cup in 2017. “The first phase of the work will include a breakwater as well as the yacht berths. It will also include renovations and improvements to the old terminal building on Ordnance Island. The building’s facilities will all be upgraded as part of the project.”

November 6. The creation of a local plan for North East Hamilton is a vital project for the area, the Island and the Department of Planning. And according to planner Cory Brown, the approach could also be used in other areas across the Island that are interested in community planning. “This is a cornerstone project for this area, the Department, and the Island. Upon completion it will put into place a plan for the North East Hamilton neighborhood that has been ‘in the works’ for an extended period of time with a number of great ideas thus far in large part due to the hard work and vast contribution of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) and the Design Roundtable. This will also be a model the Department can use to engage other neighborhoods or parishes that are interested in participating with community planning and/or creating a local plan for their areas with the same type of public participation.” According to Mr Brown, of the Forward Planning Section, local plans help to create a broad vision for the community from a land use perspective. Planners develop a plan through analysis of data and identification of goals for the community or the project, and help the community and its various groups identify their goals and form a particular vision. In the creation of a plan, planners identify the strategies by which the community can reach its goals and vision. Earlier this year, the Department of Planning encouraged residents, as well as property and business owners in North East Hamilton to take part in a two-month consultation and collaboration exercise to bring out thoughts and ideas about the future of the neighborhood. In recognition of World Town Planning Day the Department will today be hosting an open house to showcase the work and public contribution towards creating the local plan. Mr Brown said: “The approach that we are utilizing is called a Form Based Code, which is a participatory process that enables all stakeholders to provide input before the plan is written. Public participation is the fundamental element necessary to make this and other projects a success; input from all stakeholders is absolutely vital to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and then to establish a road map or plan for the future. We are inviting the public to view the ideas gathered so far and to offer additional feedback towards the goal of reaching a consensus for the policies that will be included in the plan. We hope to get more people involved who would like to contribute to this planning effort.” The Department also held a series of workshops over the summer to introduce the planning initiative and obtain stakeholder input. According to Mr Brown, the BEDC is the impetus for the planning effort within North East Hamilton, in conjunction with the Economic Empowerment Zone initiative designed to provide resources to assist existing businesses, start new businesses and generally uplift the community. “In order to do so a plan was initiated to identify opportunities that could enhance and improve conditions within the neighborhood,” Mr Brown added. The Department of Planning partnered with the BEDC and the Corporation of Hamilton to work towards creating a final, adopted plan for this community, which will parallel the new City of Hamilton Plan 2015. Mr Brown said: “The characteristics of this planning area which comprises the north east corner of the City of Hamilton are predominantly residential, with interspersed businesses throughout the neighborhood and Court Street identified as the cultural and retail centre. As such, it differs from the physical characteristics of the remainder of the city and presents us with an opportunity to recognise its uniqueness. After the open house, the Department, along with the BEDC and the Corporation of Hamilton, will draft the policies for the plan and then provide another opportunity for comments and review by the stakeholders. The plan will then be presented to the Cabinet and Legislature for review, comments, and approval. For more information visit

2015 development plan

North east Hamilton development plan. See above story.

November 6. A “pressing need” remains for Bermudians to get educated if the Island is to run its own gaming industry. Steve Simons, the manager of the Spinning Wheel nightclub and instructor at the independently funded Bermuda Gaming School, is adamant that training must begin now so that locals are not left out when casinos open. A veteran of the gambling hub Atlantic City, Mr Simons has been interested in gaming for most of his life. Even if a venue proves ineligible for a casino licence, he believes he can help them conform to gaming legislation. “I’ve been trying to start this school for ten years,” Mr Simons told The Royal Gazette. Along with his brother Bruce, Mr Simons teaches introductory blackjack and Crown & Anchor at the Court Street betting shop Paradise Games. Long a proponent of a gaming school, he has aligned himself with schools across the United States so that Bermudians can run their own industry. “It’s not rocket science. Anyone can do it. We’ve already been gifted to have hospitality in our DNA. We were the leading island in hospitality for years, and we can bring that back.” His fear is that current plans will exclude locals, leaving licences in the hands of foreign operators. He believes the range of spin-off jobs associated with gaming would enable two casinos to offer employment to the Island’s jobless. “We need to train now, so that when this happens we have a workforce that’s ready,” Mr Simons said, estimating it would take a local five years to reach manager level when it should take 18 months. It’s going to take five or six years just to adapt to the new industry. They’ll have 300 to 500 people housed in Bermuda that don’t need to be here, for doing these games.” He said he took his case to tourism minister Shawn Crockwell in 2013 but has received no response. Mr Simons added that Court Street businesses are often left “out of the loop” when it came to tourism. “It’s nothing different though. I’m used to this. Just like the owner of Spinning Wheel. He’s been here 40 years. I look at the obstacles they put in front of this man and he’s still here, he’s still going.” The Island’s racial history has left serious economic disparities, he said of black-owned businesses. “We’re not only educationally at a deficit, we’re at a terrible financial deficit and you can’t do anything without resources.” With 25 years’ work at the Spinning Wheel under his belt, Mr Simons said people of colour were justified in feeling irate, but needed to pull together to help one another. “They won’t all be doctors or scientists or attorneys, but they can reach their level of competence. With my knowledge of gaming I know the revenue that can be made in a quick time, so with that revenue I’m going to do what I can to elevate the consciousness of our people while enhancing our community. We’ll have that America’s Cup show and it will be twice as bright up here. It will be lit right up.” Describing himself as a firm believer in peoples’ inherent ability to make the right choices, he reiterated the need for thorough training in the impending gaming industry. “We don’t have to have poverty here and joblessness. I would advise them to be sincere and get a programme started on training people. But strong leadership, openness and diplomacy would be required. There should have been a referendum, but they didn’t want to educate people. If you’re not going to educate them, you can’t ask them to vote on something that they’re not familiar with. 75 per cent of gaming-related jobs should be set aside for Bermudians. We need legislation to protect Bermudians in this new industry, because it’s going to be here forever. It’s not coming and going.”

November 6. People reporting illegal dogs to the Bermuda SPCA are withholding information out of fear the animal will be killed. According to the organization, callers are also afraid of retaliation from both the dog owner and the general public. “The shelter does receive reports of illegal dogs,” interim executive director Deborah Titterton Narraway said. “About 50 per cent of these will not provide additional information for fear the dog in question will be euthanized but the other half of the callers do provide full reports. The reason we see at the shelter that people do not wish to provide additional information on illegal dogs is fear of retaliation from the both the dog owner and the general public.” The SPCA spoke to The Royal Gazette after local animal advocacy group Punish the Deed not the Breed Bermuda renewed its call on the Bermuda Government to move pit bull-type dogs off the prohibited and on to the restricted list. The Government appointed a canine advisory committee in April to look into the matter and a spokesman said the minister had reviewed the interim report and is awaiting further documentation to determine the next steps. While Ms Titterton Narraway, who is also the charity’s marketing, fundraising and communications manager, said that the SPCA would reserve its position on whether the legislation should be amended until further research has been done, she added that not all seized illegal dogs need to be put down. She said that while some do from a temperament perspective, many of the dogs they see “are family-friendly pets. The current laws were put in place to improve community safety and comfort, but ultimately these laws cause hardship to responsible dog owners of illegal yet properly supervised, friendly, well-socialized dogs and ultimately the destruction of the dogs in questions. The Bermuda SPCA agrees that no fault lies with the dog — humans are breaking the law by either breeding without a licence or homing a dog they know is illegal under the current law.” The animal charity, which is bound by law to report illegal dogs in its possession, said it had observed a decrease in dog fighting and fewer attacks since breed-specific legislation was introduced in 2003. However, cruelty and the improper care of illegal dogs have been on the rise and the black market for illegal dogs continues. But the biggest change the charity has observed at its shelter is a large reduction in dogs. Ms Titterton Narraway said: “Prior to 2003, the shelter would have hundreds of dogs and puppies in a year which would then be adopted out into the community after being temperament tested. In recent years we average approximately 40 dogs per year.” And according to Ms Titterton Narraway, the biggest problem at the shelter is dogs with no social skills and dogs that tend to have resource-guarding issues. “Illegal dogs tend to be kept away from people and other animals for fear of being identified.  Being ‘illegal’ also deters the owners from seeking routine veterinary care, including having their dogs tested annually and treated monthly for the mosquito-borne diseases.” The SPCA also called for other changes, namely enhanced enforcement of leash and dog-at-large laws, laws that prohibit chaining or tethering coupled with enhanced enforcement of animal cruelty and animal fighting laws, as well as a better way to deal with seized illegal dogs that are found to be healthy, trained and well socialized. According to the organization, large penalties and strict enforcement of laws for those illegally breeding and selling dogs are also needed.

November 6.  Bermuda-based bond insurer Assured Guaranty yesterday posted profits of $129 million for the third quarter — $206 million down on the same period last year. The 2015 third quarter figure — equivalent to 88 cents per share — compares to third quarter 2014 profits of $355 million or $2.09 per share. Company president and CEO Dominic Frederico said: “Assured Guaranty had a successful third quarter in 2015. “We continued to lead the US municipal market in terms of both par and number of new issues insured. We also repurchased 5.4 million shares and with finished the quarter with a record adjusted book value per share just shy of $60.” The decrease in net income was largely attributed to lower fair value gains on credit derivatives and financial guaranty variable interest entities, as well as higher loss and loss adjustment expenses, offset in part by higher net earned premiums. Loss and loss adjustment expenses were attributed largely to increased loss reserves on exposures in Puerto Rico, which is in the throes of a debt crisis. The company spent $135 million on share repurchases in the third quarter. Net earned premiums totaled $213 million in the third quarter — up $69 million on the same quarter of last year. The firm said the increase was mostly down to higher accelerations and the acquisition of Radian Asset Assurance. Assured Guaranty is the holding company for operating subsidiaries which provide credit enhancement products to the US and international public finance, infrastructure and structured finance markets.

November 5.  RG Editorial. "For an Island so small, it is remarkable that Bermuda produces anything that could be labeled “best in the world”. Yet, occasionally, we can genuinely lay claim to something that we, or one of our small number, does better than the other seven billion people occupying the planet. The shining example from the last few days was Flora Duffy’s stupendous triathlon performance, in the face of much adversity, to retain her Xterra World Championship title in Maui. Those who saw her dominating the Ironkids events at Clearwater Beach more than 15 years ago could not have imagined that she would one day go on to conquer the world. That she has done so is an example for all Bermudians that if you have what it takes to excel, hailing from this tiny and geographically isolated island should not stop you. A less obvious example of Bermuda leading the world will be marked next week by a conference expected to attract some 400 people. ILS Bermuda’s Convergence 2015 will bring in not only insurance experts, but also fund managers from around the world, who will network and lay the foundations for business deals. Bermuda has emerged as the global centre for insurance-linked securities (ILS), a once obscure asset class that has enjoyed burgeoning growth in recent years, most of it through Bermuda. More than two thirds of the world’s total $25 billion of ILS capacity was issued from Bermuda, according to Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) figures. ILS allows investors to get a decent rate of return on their money — something that has become increasingly difficult for the likes of pension funds in these times of rock-bottom interest rates for savers. In return, the investors put their principal at risk of being wiped out if a specifically defined insurance-loss event takes place, for example, a Florida windstorm that causes industry-wide losses of more than $50 billion. Because of the rarity of such events, investors have found ILS such as catastrophe bonds quite profitable and cases of capital loss have been rare. Many investors are also attracted by the lack of correlation with the world financial markets. That is to say a hurricane or earthquake is no more or less likely to occur when the stock market crashes. Pension fund managers that may five years ago have regarded ILS as something far too mysterious and complex to invest in are now increasingly regarding it as an accepted alternative asset class. Even a tiny allocation from the astronomically large amounts managed by pension funds amounts to a lot. Last year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that the assets managed by the pension funds in OECD countries topped $25 trillion. So total global ILS stock today amounts to mere 0.1 per cent of that. Many outside Bermuda are recognizing a huge potential for future growth. Just this week, this newspaper reported that the Horizon Kinetics hedge fund had increased its stake in the Bermuda Stock Exchange, on which many ILS vehicles are listed, to nearly 43 per cent. Murray Stahl, the fund’s co-founder, explained to investors: “One day — we do not know, but we hope — the ILS business is going to be orders of magnitude larger. We don’t know that, we can’t predict it, but insurance companies like to lay off their risk and Bermuda is the home of that kind of investment.” That all sounds like good news to Bermuda, even if ILS business does not generate the sort of jobs numbers that the Island became accustomed to in the years of waves of new companies setting up after major disasters. ILS has given birth to some new businesses here, including special units within existing reinsurance companies, as well as fund managers such as industry veteran Don Kramer’s ILS Capital Management, and consultants/dealmakers such as the Horseshoe Group. Just as important is that it provides a source of capital to feed the Island’s existing reinsurance industry and provides work for brokers, advisory firms and lawyers here, supporting many jobs. Britain has recognized the ILS explosion in Bermuda as “a missed opportunity” for London, which in itself is recognition of what has been achieved here. The bottom line is that ILS represents a natural evolution of the reinsurance industry and if it were not happening here it would be happening somewhere else. Originally, the centre for catastrophe bonds was the Cayman Islands, but since Bermuda’s serious entry into this market in 2010, we’ve left them — and everyone else — trailing. Credit is due to those from the Bermuda Stock Exchange, the BMA, the Bermuda Government and the insurance industry who recognized the opportunity and worked together to create the framework and spread the message to investors. Perhaps Bermuda can find other niche areas in which we can lead the world, besides triathlon and securitized insurance products. Both Flora Duffy and the ILS sector have shown it’s possible.

November 4. Drug and alcohol addiction charity Focus could close in as little as two months unless fresh funding can be found. “We find ourselves in a very high-risk financial position,” Sandy Butterfield, the group’s founder, told The Royal Gazette. Focus, based on Elliott Street, Hamilton, needs $450,000 a year to provide its wide range of services to help addicts both in the short and long term. Ms Butterfield said the charity has struggled to raise those funds since the economic crisis hit the Island. The news comes after the Centre on Philanthropy revealed charities are facing unprecedented financial pressure, with 65 per cent experiencing an increase in demand and the same proportion facing difficulty providing ongoing operations. Seven days a week, Focus opens its doors at 8am, serving as a safe haven for those in need while providing food and drink, advocacy, job opportunities, spiritual guidance and support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. It houses 18 people in supportive residency, many of whom are based on a 3.3-acre St George’s property, which is up for sale. Ms Butterfield insisted that, even if the property is sold or Focus closes, the vulnerable people in supportive residency will remain cared for “no matter what”. The charity, which Mrs Butterfield started in 1993 with fellow addiction counselor Jerry Griffiths, employs three full-time staff members, and welcomes volunteer support. She believes that Bermuda’s drugs problem, particularly with cocaine, heroin and marijuana, has worsened since then, owing to both an increase in the global narcotics trade and local unemployment issues. “To run this programme, and all the things we do, costs $450,000 a year,” Mrs Butterfield said. “We were fortunate before the recession — funding was not an issue and there was plenty of money to spare.” Although keen to stress her gratitude for funding from the Bermuda Government over the years, Mrs Butterfield says her charity’s financial position is now untenable. “I’m really hoping that somebody in the public sector will see and understand the work we do,” she said. “Everybody who comes here suffers from addiction, and this is a second home for many of them. If the people we help are here in this building, they’re not on the street engaging in negative behavior like breaking into houses or dealing drugs. If we’re not here, they’re going to go down to Front Street or they’re going to sit in a crackhouse.” Mrs Butterfield, who was honored for her charity work at an Elbow Beach awards ceremony two months ago, said that she will continue to volunteer with addicts elsewhere in Bermuda. “I will always do something,” she said. Anyone interested in helping Focus should call Ms Butterfield on 532-1292. 

November 4. NEW YORK (Bloomberg) — American International Group chief executive officer Peter Hancock dismissed activist investor Carl Icahn’s proposal to split the Bermuda-incorporated company group into three insurers, saying a division would limit earnings diversity and reduce the value of some tax assets. The stock declined 4.4 per cent in New York trading. “Management and the board have carefully reviewed such a separation on many occasions, including in the recent past, and have concluded it did not make financial sense,” Hancock said of Icahn’s plan in a conference call yesterday. “We of course will meet with him to further share our conclusions and give him an opportunity to elaborate on his views.” Icahn disclosed last week that he’d acquired a stake in New York-based AIG and said the insurer should divide into three companies, one offering property-casualty coverage, another selling life policies and a third backing mortgages. AIG trades for less than book value while the stocks of most large property-casualty insurers are above that metric. The activist investor also said that shrinking the company would help avoid the capital restrictions that are imposed on the largest financial institutions. Hancock responded yesterday that the company has still been able to repurchase billions of dollars of stock. He also highlighted efforts to streamline the business, including a $500 million plan to restructure operations by cutting jobs and improving information technology. AIG intends to dismiss about 23 percent of the top 1,400 members of senior management, he said. That would be a reduction of more than 320 jobs. “No area of the firm is left untouched” by the cuts, which will targeted to match the prospects of various units, Hancock said. “With a more focused, narrower strategy going forward, we just need fewer generals on the field. These are quite talented and highly-paid individuals.”

November 4. NEW YORK (Bloomberg) — Third Point Reinsurance Ltd, the Bermuda-based reinsurer that counts on hedge fund manager Dan Loeb to oversee investments, posted its worst loss as a publicly traded company on declines in the hedge-fund manager’s portfolio. The third-quarter net loss widened to $195.7 million, or $1.88 a share, from $6 million, or 6 cents, a year earlier, the company said yesterday in a regulatory filing. The loss per share matched the average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of six analysts was for a loss of $1.88 a share. Loeb has endured declines in holdings such as hospital-supply maker Baxter International, SunEdison and Yum! Brands at the same time that a wave of fresh capital in the reinsurance industry increased competition for business and squeezed margins. Third Point Re slipped about 3.5 per cent this year through the close of trading yesterday, after falling 22 per cent in 2014. “During the third quarter, the equity portfolio posted negative returns in most sectors amidst a broader market decline,” the company said in the filing. “Specifically, several large positions in the healthcare sector detracted meaningfully from investment returns.” Third Point Re had an initial public offering in 2013. Until the latest report, its worst period since the IPO was a $14.7 million loss in last year’s fourth quarter. The highest profit was $80.1 million in the last three months of 2013. Investments generated a loss of $193.2 million in the third quarter, compared with profit of $1.55 million a year earlier. Yum!, owner of the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains, fell 11 per cent in the period, then extended its drop in October as sales in China missed analysts’ estimates. SunEdison, the developer of renewable energy power plants, dropped 76 per cent in the three months ended September 30. Baxter slumped 14 per cent. The return on investments was negative 8.7 per cent in the third quarter and negative 4.3 per cent for the first nine months of the year. A rebound in October brought the return to 0.1 per cent since December 31, the company said. Premium revenue rose 92 per cent to $208.8 million. The combined ratio at the property-and-casualty reinsurance segment worsened to 102.8, meaning the business had an underwriting loss of 2.8 cents for every premium dollar after paying claims and expenses. A year earlier, the combined ratio was 101.7. Reinsurers are paid to take on obligations from primary carriers that are seeking to reduce risks or improve capital levels. The business can provide hedge-fund managers with a source of funds that is less vulnerable to client withdrawals, and also offers tax advantages. Ventures like Loeb’s and David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital Re Ltd. have been pressured, however, as more established reinsurers combine to gain scale, and volatile markets hurt stock bets. Cayman Islands-based Greenlight Re has posted three straight quarterly losses, and has dropped 33 per cent this year in New York trading.

November 4. A financial analyst who blew the whistle on Bermuda-based Gerova Financial Services four years ago yesterday said he felt “vindicated” now that seven men were last month charged in the US in connection with an alleged $16 million fraud involving the firm. Keith Dalrymple, who runs a small research firm with his wife in Bulgaria, published a report in early 2011 saying that Gerova was “likely fraudulent.” But the firm hit back in the media and with lawsuits by individuals and firms linked with Gerova — all of which were later withdrawn or dismissed. Jason Galanis, once dubbed “porn’s new king” in the US media after he bought a major stake in adult entertainment publisher Penthouse International Inc — now faces a string of charges brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), along with his father John Galanis, his two brothers Jared and Derek and others. Mr Dalrymple said: “I feel vindicated — at long last.” But, speaking to the Wall Street Journal, he said that it may be the last time his firm takes a public “short selling” position — a bet that a company will fail — after four years of a bruising battle with Gerova. Mr Dalrymple said: “It’s not like a 1930s movie where they catch the bad guy and he says ‘you got me’. They’re going to fight.” He set up Dalrymple Finance in 2007 to offer financial consulting and, at the time of the Gerova report, managed several million dollars for family offices, including a strategy of looking for short opportunities. The firm’s focus included looking at special-purpose acquisition companies — firms created as shells with the purpose of buying operating companies — and spotted Gerova as a business of that type. The SEC charges claim that Jason Galanis, with others, hatched a plot to dump millions of the company’s shares in an unregistered offering and distribution. It alleges he enlisted family members, a family friend from the Republic of Kosovo, Gerova director Gary Hirst and Gavin Hamels, an American investment adviser to carry out the 2010 scheme. The SEC filing with the US District Court in the Northern District of New York said that Gerova’s share price tumbled in reaction to the massive sell-off. But the filing added that Jason Galanis orchestrated a second phase to stem the price decline by bribing two investment managers to buy Gerova shares for their respective clients’ accounts in order to create demand for the stock. The filing said: “All told, Jason Galanis’ scheme reaped him and his family members over $16 million, all at the expense of unwitting investors.” The Royal Gazette reported last month that charges had been filed and that a trial date in a Manhattan federal court is scheduled for April. Gerova was valued at $748 million just before Mr Dalrymple release is report in 2011. The Royal Gazette reported in 2012 that Gerova had sought US bankruptcy protection, listing debts of as much as $500 million. Gerova, formerly known as Asia Special Situations Acquisition Corporation, took the step to protect its assets, then valued by the firm at $50 million, from creditors. The company, which had offices in Cumberland House, Victoria Street, Hamilton, was liquidated in 2012. When Jason Galanis took over Gerova in 2010, he was under a five-year bar as acting as an officer or director of a public company and paid $60,000 in civil penalties, agreed in 2007 to settle a separate 2007 SEC case. It was alleged then that he had filed false accounting information for Penthouse International.

November 4. Reinsurance firm Blue Capital posted profits of $4.4 million for the third quarter of the year. The specialist in insurance-linked securities (ILS) said that was equivalent to 50 cents a share. Reinsurance premiums written for the quarter were $5.9 million — a drop of $0.6 million compared to same period last year. The fall was attributed to premium reductions in the global market. Blue Capital president and CEO Adam Szakmary said: “Over the course of the year and the current quarter we continued to generate very attractive results, which remain largely uncorrelated to larger financial market volatility. “Blue Capital’s strategy remains focused on providing investors diversified access to the preferred traditional property catastrophe market, without adding underlying asset macro-correlation. The partial ownership by insurance and reinsurance firm Endurance, which acquired a stake in the company after it bought rival Montpelier, had enhanced Blue Capital’s shareholder value and its ability to survive tough market conditions. Partnering with an underwriting organization that has greater scale, an enhanced market position and a larger more diversified global catastrophe book of business improves Blue Capital’s ability to compete in an increasingly competitive environment.”

November 4. The revival of Cuba’s tourism industry — and its impact on Bermuda — will be the subject of Bermuda College’s annual Fall Lecture. Featured speaker, Leonard Jackson, will examine ‘The Rebirth and Revival of Cuba’s Tourism Industry: Implications for Bermuda and Caribbean Tourism’ on Tuesday, November 17. According to a press release from the College, Cuba has burst onto the scene of the tourism landscape under the leadership of president Raúl Castro, and has the potential to present significant tourism competition to both Bermuda and the Caribbean. Dr Jackson, an expert on the subject of Cuban tourism, is Director of Hotel Finance and Investment at the Cecil B Day School of Hospitality Administration in the J Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University He will share his thoughts on the impact of Cuba’s resurgent tourism on the local tourism product, and that of the Caribbean, from the perspective of factors such as off-season travelling trends, airline seat demand and visitor target markets. The event will take place at the College North Hall Lecture Theatre 6.30 to 9pm.

November 4. Tourism minister Shawn Crockwell says he is still hopeful Bermuda can have its first casino up and running in time for the 35th America’s Cup. However, Mr Crockwell conceded progress has taken longer than expected as the Bermuda Government strives to meet its “ambitious” 2017 deadline. Since the Casino Act legislation was passed in the House of Assembly in December last year, few updates have been provided, other than the appointment of the Bermuda Gaming Casino Commission, with its executive director Richard Schuetz and general counsel Arlene Brock. Giving a progress report to The Royal Gazette yesterday, Mr Crockwell said: “Obviously we would like to have it for the America’s Cup when there is going to be that volume of people in Bermuda. “It would be great for whoever is operating it because they will be able to get off to a great start. That has always been the goal. The process has taken longer than I expected but there are a lot of components to this. There has to be consultation with various bodies and there are so many things you have to do to make sure that, once we are up and running, we are not falling foul of international standards. In a perfect world I would have liked us to be further along by now. We passed the act in 2014, we amended it in 2015 and we have been getting some criticism about it taking too long. People think that once we passed the act then we should be able to open a casino but it doesn’t work that way — the regulations are really the most important part of the whole legislative structure. We have been working on them all along. Are we going to meet that goal? It is ambitious because once people have made their application there is a period of time where they have to get vetted and the like. We cannot take a short cut in this process. If we don’t make it we will be disappointed, so I can tell you that it is still the Government’s goal to achieve that goal, keeping in mind that it is the gaming commission that will be entertaining the applications so I am not in a position to direct them to do anything. I think 2017 is still very possible. Whether we do it by the summer of 2017, later in the year or early 2018.” Mr Crockwell explained that the next stage will be to complete the regulations to supplement the legislation and to begin working on site designation. “The priority at this stage is to bring the affirmative resolutions that will give me the power to select sites as designated sites for casinos which is done with the advice of the commission. Then the Parliament has to approve recommendations that I make. There are a plethora of regulations that need to go through Parliament. Some deal with the process of designating the site, some deal with the application process itself to make the application for a gaming licence. It is my hope to try to have all of those regulations dealt with during the next session in Parliament. We will definitely deal with the designated sites because that is the next logical stage for us so that those individuals who are interested can make an application. We may well be in the February session to approve all the regulations.” Mr Crockwell said that discussions were already under way with regards to creating casino industry training programmes for Bermudians. He said Government was currently considering different proposals and made a commitment that training will be available at least a year before the first casino opens. Mr Crockwell added: “The justification was always to ensure that Bermudians will be employed in the casinos and this will be a job creation opportunity. If you have all three operating at the same time it could create close to 900 jobs. The executive director has been in dialogue with Bermuda College to see if there can be some sort of partnership.”

November 4. A group of fishermen had an experience of a lifetime on Monday afternoon after spending about three hours playing with an extremely friendly whale shark. The friends headed west aboard Kevin Winter’s aptly named boat Playmate at about 8am on Monday and when they were just a few miles off Dockyard someone spotted a large white shape approaching the boat just under the surface of the water. Keilo Govia was on board and described the moment the crew realized they were about to experience a incredibly rare encounter by Bermuda’s standards. “We were just chumming the water — baiting — when all of a sudden we saw this big white body come out of nowhere everyone was like ‘oh my god!’ It was just beautiful. Everybody was so shocked and excited like they saw a ghost. Everybody was trying to take photos on it. It was so close it actually hit the boat — it looked like it was feeding on the fry but it was curious and it kept coming back. My friend’s father jumped in the water. It was with us pretty much until we left — maybe three hours — just hanging around the boat. It would swim off and come back and one time we saw it come from the bottom straight up, turned and came towards the boat. It came up so close to the boat you could put your hand over and touch it. I was glad that I was there to see it. We weren’t scared but we didn’t want it to knock the prop off and us be stuck out there.” The whale shark was likely a young animal — it was about 20 feet long while fully grown whale sharks can be double that size. Choy Aming has been scouring Bermuda’s waters for marine life for a decade as part of the Bermuda Shark Project which he launched with the late Dr Neil Burnie. Mr Aming keeps a detailed record of all the sightings around the Island either that he has encountered himself or that have been reported to him by fishermen and other boaters out on the water. He said: “There is usually one whale shark spotted each year in Bermuda — it is pretty rare. Pictures and stories usually get back to me because I am out there all the time and people let me know. To see them in November is weird though and it is unusual it was so close to shore. I usually see them out at Challenger Banks [about 12 miles off shore] and it is usually early in the summer. There are about ten encounters that people have reported and all of them have been in May, June or the beginning of July.”

November 4. After nearly 30 years, an emotional Steve Aggett was yesterday finally able to thank Ian Williams for saving his life. Speaking to Mr Williams from Britain through Skype, Mr Aggett said: “I have waited 30 years just to say thank you for everything. Everything you have done. Honestly, what you did for myself and my family ... I’m overwhelmed at the moment and so, so happy to see you. I have thought about you every day for 30 years.” Mr Williams responded that Mr Aggett was more than welcome, and that he looks forward to being able to catch up in person soon. The conversation was the first between the two since June 16, 1987, when Mr Williams pulled ten-year-old Mr Aggett from an electrified swimming pool at Waterloo House. Mr Williams also attempted to save the life of Mr Aggett’s uncle Owen Lynch, pulling him from the pool and giving him CPR, but Mr Lynch was later pronounced dead at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. They were reunited after Mr Aggett appealed in The Royal Gazette yesterday for the public to help put him in touch with his lifesaver, prompting numerous responses from readers and ultimately leading to a trans-Atlantic Skype conversation set up from this newspaper’s office. Asked about his recollection of the incident, Mr Williams said: “It was one of those days you never forget in your life. That’s for darn sure.” He said that he had come to Waterloo House at around 1pm to fill in after doing a shift at his other job at Purvis Ltd. He was cleaning up the bar area when he heard a child screaming. "I looked around and didn’t see anything because everything was at different levels. I thought I was just hearing something from the gas station. I had just about turned around when I caught a glimpse of a little head go up. I ran up to the top of the steps and he was still yelling. That’s when I realized it was a child. I ran up there, grabbed the child and pulled him out and started asking him what was wrong. He was pointing at his uncle, who was sprawled out in the pool, completely out. So I went back in again. As I was going toward him I could feel the tingling in my fingers, my arms, my legs and everything. I thought, ‘Well, it’s too late now,’ and I grabbed him. He was starting to go down. I grabbed him, pulled him back and out and started to give him CPR. His eyes came around a little bit, his pulse came around a little bit. He was here, but not really here, so the next thing I did was I grabbed one of the guys nearby and told him to call the police and ambulance.” He said he remained at the scene for a little while longer before the manager sent him home for the evening. He later spoke to a lawyer and a reporter about the incident, but said after that he didn’t give the incident much thought. “In the back of your mind you always kind of wonder what happened to people,” he said. “I thought eventually he or his family might come back, but sometimes after an incident like that it’s difficult for them.” That changed at 7am yesterday, when he was awoken with a deluge of around 30 phone calls — including some from overseas — about yesterday’s story on the front page of The Royal Gazette. He then reached out to this newspaper, but he was far from the only one. Throughout the day, this newspaper received tips from numerous members of the public to help us find Mr Williams, with others spreading the story online to help reunite the pair. While Mr Williams said he still remembers the incident clearly, it was never a story he ever felt the need to tell people about. “I just do it because it’s the type of person I am,” he said. “That’s how I was brought up. My grandfather basically brought me up and over the years I’ve done a lot of things. I’ve tried to help people out, and people have helped me out as well. I also, at one time, gave a lady the Heimlich when I was working as a captain at the St George’s Club. She would come back every year and greet me. There have been a couple other incidents a couple of other times. I just seem to be at the right place at the right time. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing or somewhere in the middle, I don’t know. It’s something I would do tomorrow again. Simple. It’s just how I am.” Speaking after their conversation Mr Aggett said he was grateful to have the opportunity to thank Mr Williams for his actions, adding that he hopes to return to the Island this Spring to thank him again in person.

November 4. The 20 businesses and one residence on Mill Creek Road have formed a group to protest against a “lack of action” on the Pembroke Canal infrastructure. In a press release, the campaigners say the area continues to go into disrepair and causes serious, sometimes life-threatening, flooding. They claim the canal has not been able to properly drain the watershed. When the canal was built, they say, the marsh area reduced the intensity of the water flow and stored excess water when it rained. However, they say that since that time there has been a huge amount of development in Hamilton, in combination with infilling, which has increased the rate and volume of storm water runoff and significantly decreased the naturally occurring storage within the watershed. As a result, this causes heavy flooding throughout Hamilton, particularly on Bakery Lane, Dundonald Street, Bernard’s Park, Woodlands Road and the BAA field area. In 2002, the Bermuda Government commissioned Canadian firm Associated Engineering to prepare the Mill Creek Flood Mitigation study, which resulted in a ten-point action plan. Residents say that only one of the recommendations has been undertaken: Government has built a floodbox and upgraded some of the dyke system at the mouth of Mill Creek. However, they allege this dyke system is deficient as a result of varying crest heights of the water, leaks and a lack of tie-in to the high ground. A great deal of work is still to be undertaken to upgrade the drainage system and pump station, they say. The Mill Creek Road businesses have been meeting with Government since 2002 including, most recently, with the Minister of Works and Engineering in July. They say he had promised a response within two weeks of the meeting with options and pricing. Another letter was sent to the Minister in mid-September restating the group’s desire for communication on the matter, but they say no response has so far been received. As a result of the severe flooding, the businesses and residence say they have been impacted as follows:

Ed Faries, on behalf of the Mill Creek Road businesses and residents, stated: “We have had enough. According to the Act, it is the minister’s responsibility to upkeep the canal. The canal is suffering from a systemic lack of infrastructure upgrades. Many developments have been allowed over the past ten years such as the expansion of TCD and partial filling in of the canal on Woodlands Road. All of these add to the volume of water entering the canal that cannot escape at high tide. Our livelihoods and the family that lives here are suffering and we need the Government to take urgent action. One business has lost two engines on its truck and just last week, another truck lost its wheel bearings. We are concerned about the safety of our customers and employees when they try to use the road on flooding days. There are days they cannot get to work and there are days when they have to wait hours for the water to recede to go home. Someone is going to get hurt and it’s a liability for our businesses. Our staff are scared to come to work or to leave work. They can’t drive through deep water. Mill Creek Road needs an immediate solution. The road could be partially raised where needed about two to three feet as a first step. Government could dig a large water storage area to hold the water back until low tide or install a large pump system, as recommended in the ten-point plan. The drainage system needs to be rebuilt as part of a long-term solution to suit the development that has been allowed over the past ten or fifteen years. It is not just a Mill Creek Road issue. It is a serious engineering challenge that is now beyond urgent. The solutions have already been determined; they just need to be actioned.”

November 4. At first blush, red crepe paper poppies might seem to make for unlikely boutonnières. But at this time every year, they appear on the lapels of thousands of Bermuda residents in the run-up to Remembrance Day on November 11. That solemn public holiday commemorating the Island's war dead marks the culmination of the annual Poppy Appeal conducted by the Bermuda Legion, the charity that works to assist war veterans and their widows. During the First World War (1914-1918) red poppies carpeted the battlefields of the stalemated Western Front in France and Belgium during the occasional lulls between the fighting. The flowers grew in profusion in bomb craters, around trenches and often marked soldiers' graves. The ubiquity of the delicate flower amid scenes of wholesale slaughter and devastation helped to inspire Canadian officer John McRae's haunting 1915 poem In Flanders Fields, believed to have been written directly after he conducted a burial service for a fallen comrade. The poem's opening stanza reads: "In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below." McRae's poem led to the poppy being adopted as an international symbol of remembrance in the aftermath of the cataclysmic conflict, which ended on November 11, 1918. Remembrance Day is held on the anniversary of the day the armistice was signed between the First World War Allies and Germany, the suspension of hostilities taking effect at 11 o'clock in the morning, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  It has been said that the First World War broke out "like a peal of thunder out of a cloudless sky". It's been called an unnecessary war, which is true, but it was also an unavoidable one. Between 1903 and 1913, the military spending of the major European powers had increased by 50 per cent. Nationalistic rivalries and the competing economic and territorial ambitions of the British, French, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and German empires resulted in an arms race centred upon the industrial-scale production of lethal new weaponry ranging from aircraft, tanks and poison gas to rapid-fire machineguns, submarines and heavy artillery. What 19th-century German chancellor Otto von Bismark had correctly anticipated would be "some damn fool thing in the Balkans" lit the fuse for a catastrophe that turned the globe into one vast abattoir. Austria-Hungary and Russia had been vying for control of the Balkans ever since the influence of the decaying Ottoman Empire had started to wane there in the 19th century. When the heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated during a visit to Serbia in July 1914, the gears and levers of an interlocking series of European defensive alliances began to mesh with a mechanical precision wholly in keeping with their Industrial Age origins. Thirty-seven days after those opening shots were fired on the streets of Sarajevo, war broke out between Russia, France and Britain and their territories and the combined forces of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Turkey had joined the fray by October, siding with the Central Powers. For the next four years, a daily butcher's bill was extracted from the combatants, paid for with the blood of their sons and daughters. "All the horrors of all the ages were brought together, and not only armies but whole populations were thrust into the midst of them," British statesman and future warlord Winston Churchill said of a conflict he referred to ? not without justification ? as Armageddon. The mighty educated States involved conceived  not without reasons that their very existence was at stake. Neither peoples nor rulers drew the line at any deed which they thought could help them to win. Germany, having let Hell loose, kept well in the van of terror; but she was followed step by step by the desperate and ultimately avenging nations she had assailed. Every outrage against humanity or international law was repaid by reprisals. often of a greater scale and of longer duration. Ultimately, 65 million troops were mobilized during a conflict that claimed four empires, cost 20 million military and civilian lives and left 20 million injured. Tiny Bermuda was drawn into this vast conflict at the outset. A major British military outpost, a state of martial law was declared on the Island on August 15, 1914. The Royal Naval Dockyard quickly became a staging point for the formation of transatlantic convoys composed of hundreds of ships. British and Canadian forces, along with local territorial units, garrisoned the Island against potential enemy attacks. And hundreds of Bermudians in the Bermuda Militia Artillery and the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps, the Island's segregated, part-time military units, volunteered to serve the common cause by fighting overseas. Boasting a population of only 19,000 in 1914, the 500 young Bermudians who left the Island to bear arms in the First World War represented the flower of their generation. Eighty never came home and are buried in foreign fields. Bermuda played a similarly disproportionate role in the Second World War (1939-45), the all -too-predictable outgrowth of the peace treaty that formerly ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. After the war to end war, they seem to have been pretty successful in Paris at making a peace to end peace, as a British general dryly remarked on the excessively punitive terms of the 1919 Versailles Treaty. The humiliating document stripped Germany of its national dignity, territorial integrity and economic wherewithal, and all but assured French Marshal Ferdinand Foch's grim assessment of its terms "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years" would attain the status of prophecy. Germany, driven mad not only by its military defeat in the First World War but the subsequent collapse of cultural continuity, political institutions and many social norms, urgently sought a new messiah ? and ultimately found one in Adolf Hitler, aptly termed the psychopathic god by poet W.H. Auden. To a culture long imbued with rampant militarism and imperialism, the paranoid, Austrian-born maniac Hitler introduced lethal new strains of nationalism, totalitarianism and homicidal racism. Between 1923 and 1933, Hitler, an aggrieved First World War veteran who believed the legislators in Berlin had administered a stab in the back to the country's fighting men by surrendering to the Allied powers, went from lunatic-fringe agitator to centre stage in German political life. First as chancellor, then as de facto legal dictator when the so-called Enabling Act and the Law Concerning the Highest State Office of the Reich swept away all constitutional limitations on his rule, Hitler embarked on crash rearmament and reindustrialization programmes, all the while remaking German society in the lunatic image of his National Socialist (Nazi) Party. When war inevitably broke out, a conflict in which Hitler was eagerly joined in 1941 by a Japanese leadership with militaristic and imperialist ambitions in Asia, the world really did risk sinking into the abyss of a new Dark Age. When the young men and women who put on uniforms to defend freedom and democracy had finally defeated fascism on the global battlefield, when the full extent of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis and Japanese against those they conquered and enslaved had been laid bare for all to see, a world that mistakenly thought it had already ?supped full of horrors? was shocked anew. The grim evidence of the Nazi Final Solution and the Japanese cruelties in China have long since vanquished most doubts about the wisdom or morality of the Allies? determination to ensure total victory and the unconditional surrender of the fascist states. Bermuda gave up fully 10 per cent of its total land area for Allied military bases during the Second World War. All military-age males resident in Bermuda liable for military service in one of the two local units (amalgamated to create the modern Bermuda Regiment in 1965). Part-time Home Guard units were also raised as a reserve. The Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps took responsibility for patrolling and defending the East End; the Bermuda Militia Artillery for the West End. In addition to maintaining guards at the Dockyard and the Darrell's Island flying boat base, the local soldiers guarded the transatlantic cable facilities, beaches and inlets, patrolled the Island, and operated motorboat patrols. Both local militias sent detachments overseas and Bermudian servicemen participated in such pivotal engagements as the Battle of Britain in 1940, El Alamein in 1941 (where Walter Hewson Perinchief was killed in action) and the 1944 D-Day landings in Normandy. Thirty-five young Bermudian men and women gave their lives in the Second World War fighting for the freedoms we now take for granted. And there are only a handful of veterans of that epochal struggle still with us today. Within a very few years, that war will have slipped from living memory as well. But we can never afford to forget the contributions of Bermuda's fallen. To this end, the National Museum of Bermuda maintains informative and splendidly comprehensive exhibits commemorating the contributions of local servicemen and servicewomen in the two global 20th-century wars, which shaped the modern world and our place in it. Pupils and teachers from every school on the Island should be encouraged to visit Dockyard to tour these displays. Many adults would do well to do the same. The sacrifices made by our forebears deserve to be remembered with respect and dignity, not just on November 11 but every day of the year. All of us owe them incalculable debts of gratitude. And all of us need to bear in mind the words of John McCrae: " If ye break faith with us who die, We shall not sleep, though poppies grow, In Flanders fields."

November 4. Mark Twain got mischievous at his first Bermuda cricket game, deliberately peppering his host with silly questions. The exasperated host, probably US vice consul William Allen, told him wickets were for the umpire to sit on when he got tired. Twain, the pen name for Samuel Clemens, later wrote about the game in an article published in The Strand Magazine. Cindy Lovell discovered a previously unknown rough draft of the account, hidden away in the Bermuda Archives. "It was unsigned and the Bermuda Archives didn't seem to know what it was,? the Twain scholar said. "I recognized the handwriting; it is very distinctive." The draft was included in the Ever The Twain Shall Meet exhibition at Masterworks last year. The find garnered international attention for Bermuda. Dr Lovell, executive director of The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, will give a talk about Twain tomorrow at the Bermuda National Library. Her speech is part of a month of events at the library arranged to celebrate Twain's life. Twain visited the Island eight times between 1867 and 1910 and was famously quoted for saying: ?You go to heaven if you want to, I'd rather stay right here in Bermuda." "He was actually in Bermuda a short time before he died," said Dr Lovell. "He had to be rushed back to his home in Redding, Connecticut where he died from angina pectoris, what he called his "tobacco heart." The 59-year-old has been to the Island several times since her museum and the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art agreed to collaborate on the Twain exhibit two years ago. She also helped organise the loan of a Winslow Homer painting of the SS Trinidad from Masterworks to The Mark Twain House. "Otherwise, The Mark Twain House doesn't really have any souvenirs of Twain's visits to Bermuda," Dr Lovell said. "He didn't really buy very much while in Bermuda. What I love about Bermuda is that Bermudians are so in touch with their connection with Mark Twain. The other night the cab driver stopped and pointed out a tree that Mark Twain sat under. It was a short ride from where I had dinner at Tom Moore's Tavern. I'm a bit sceptical and it could have been the tree that poet Tom Moore wrote under, but it's still nice that Bermudians feel this connection with Twain." (See our own loving tribute, at  Dr Lovell fell in love with Mark Twain's work at the age of nine. One of her teachers in Pennsylvania read the class a chapter from a different book every day. "He read the Adventures of Tom Sawyer chapter about whitewashing the fence," Dr Lovell said. "I was enchanted by that, because I had a little sister in the first grade who never seemed to help me with the dishes. I read Tom Sawyer over and over again." On the first day of junior high she asked the school librarian if she'd ever heard of a guy called Mark Twain. "She laughed," said Dr Lovell, "and said she had heard something about him." She didn't go to college, but instead chose to sell pumpkins and blue grass albums in her rural area. "I was like Tom Sawyer, I was a bored, restless kid that didn't have much time for school,? she said. She was in her 30s, and divorced with children, when she decided to go to university. She enjoyed it so much she became a tenured education professor at Stetson University in Florida. She continued to read Mark Twain, but didn't become more deeply involved until she taught a teachers' workshop at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal, Missouri. "Then my passions really came together," she said. "The staff there said it was a shame I didn't live in Missouri so I could help them." She went home, gave up tenure and found a job at Quincy University in Illinois, just down the road from Hannibal. Dr Lovell joined the Mark Twain Boyhood Home board and was shocked to learn they were short on cash. She set about creating special campaigns to remedy the situation. She was with them for five years before moving to Connecticut to join the staff of The Mark Twain House and Museum "Bermuda's connection with the museum started just before I arrived," she said. "Governor George Fergusson visited the museum and talks began about how we could partner with Bermuda in some way." Her talk tomorrow comes hot on the heels of the release of Lynn Cullen's Twain's End, a fictional portrayal of a darker Twain who has an affair with his secretary. Ms Cullen is the best-selling author Mrs Poe. Dr Lovell, a friend of the author, said she was a bit irritated that some people seemed to be taking the novel as fact. "It is fiction, there's no evidence to support the idea that Mark Twain was ever unfaithful to his wife, Olivia Clemens. The writer could have just as easily written Twain to be a character who commits murder. One need only consider the volumes of letters they wrote to one another during their marriage." During their courtship Mr Twain wrote to his future wife: "Even if you prove to me that you have the blemishes you think you have, it cannot appall me any, because with them, you will still be better, and nobler, and lovelier than anyone I have known." He called her Gravity and she called him Youth. They were married for 34 years before Mrs Clemens's death in 1904. The November celebrations will include a screening of the documentary Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey on November 10. On November 19, Gavin Wilson will act in Mark Twain: Reminisces and Other Lies. On November 24, there will be a panel discussion on the use of humour as a means of critiquing society with Twain enthusiasts Tim Hodgson and Catherine Hay. All events will be at 5.30pm. Tickets are $5 for each event or $15 for all. Contact or call 299-0028.

November 3. Bermuda is outranked on a tax secrecy list by Britain, the US and the Cayman Islands. Bermuda is 34th in the rankings of 100 countries for tax — while the Cayman Islands ranks fifth on the list. Switzerland tops the list, followed by Hong Kong, the US and Singapore. Britain is 15th on the list — but the UK-based Tax Justice Network (TJN) said that the country would have topped the list if its Overseas Territories had been included with it. The UK Crown Dependencies of Jersey and Guernsey ranked 15th and 17th, with the Overseas Territory of the British Virgin Islands in 21st place. The TJN report said: “Though the US has been a pioneer in defending itself from foreign secrecy jurisdictions it provides little information in return to other countries, making it a formidable, harmful and irresponsible secrecy jurisdiction.” The report singled out American states Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada as tax havens which made it easy to set up shell companies catering to overseas people and companies looking to hide assets. And it said: “The US has not seriously addressed its own role in attracting illicit financial flows and supporting tax evasion.” Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, was yesterday off the Island and could not be contacted for comment. The individual TJN report on Bermuda gave it a tax secrecy rating of 66 — a mid-level rating — and an overall financial secrecy rating of 217.7. The US has an overall rating of 1,254.7, with the Caymans on 1,013.1 and the UK at 380.2. The TJN report said the UK’s commitment to a public register of ownership for UK companies and free online searches for company accounts had boosted the country’s standing. But it was critical of Britain’s failure to force its Overseas Territories, including Bermuda, to do the same. Bermuda has maintained a register of beneficial ownership for decades — but it is not available for public inspection. The TJN report said: “Though the UK isn’t in our top ten, it supports a network of secrecy jurisdictions around the world ... whose trusts and shell companies hold many trillions of dollars worth of assets. Had we treated the UK and its dependent territories as a single unit it would easily top the 2015 index, above Switzerland. The TJN financial secrecy index measures a range of criteria, with the results weighted according to the scale of financial services offered to non-residents.

November 3. Aspen Insurance Holdings yesterday said its insurance operation had recorded the strongest quarterly underwriting performance in company history — but net income plunged due to investment losses. The Bermuda-based firm recorded underwriting income in its insurance business of $41.8 million for the third quarter of the year. Aspen chief executive officer Chris O’Kane said: “Our US insurance platform is on track to exceed $600 million of net earned premiums in 2015, together with an expenses ratio of less than 16 per cent, while our international insurance platform demonstrated a significant improvement in underwriting performance.” He was speaking as Aspen unveiled its quarterly results, which showed profits of $28.2 million — equivalent to 30 cents per share — for the third quarter of the year, down from $37.4 million in the corresponding quarter last year. Net realized investment losses widened to $40.4 million from a loss of $16.6 million in the third quarter of 2014. The firm said gross written premiums were up 10.4 per cent to $720.5 million in the third quarter, compared to $652.5 million in the third quarter of last year. Aspen recorded pre-tax catastrophe losses, net of reinsurance recoveries, of $19.1 million in the third quarter — $2 million more than in the same quarter of 2014. The reinsurance segment of the business logged gross written premiums of $316.6 million, an increase of 28.2 per cent on the $256.9 million reported for the same period last year. Mr O’Kane said: “At Aspen Re, our teams continued to demonstrate their innovative solutions, deep client relationships and disciplined underwriting. This was reflected in significant gross written premium growth, both from new business opportunities and the large pro-rata deals that we noted last quarter. Across our insurance and reinsurance businesses, we remain focused on building value for clients in our chosen areas of expertise. We continue to expect to achieve an 11 per cent operating return on our equity for 2015.”

November 3. The mother of a Bermudian police officer stabbed in a British nightclub has said his “spirits are up” after the attack. Kyle Godfrey, 22, suffered a punctured lung during the incident, which took place at the Wonderworld nightclub in Milton Keynes early on Saturday morning. Kier Lawrie, 25, of Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, appeared at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court on Monday morning in connection with the attack and was remanded into custody to appear at Aylesbury Crown Court on November 30. He has been charged with one count of wounding with intent and one count of possession of a bladed article in a public place. Mr Godfrey’s mother, Jeana Jones, said that her son was halfway through a two-week vacation when the attack took place. He was released from hospital yesterday, but will not be able to fly back to Bermuda for roughly one month, until his injury has sufficiently healed. “Kyle is recovering. I’m just glad that my son is coming back to me,” she told The Royal Gazette. “His spirits are up — he’s mentally strong and very positive, so he’s not letting it slow him down.” Ms Jones added that she plans to fly to Britain this weekend to see her son, who is recuperating at a friend’s home in London. Mr Godfrey entered the Bermuda Police Service in September last year, in a passing out ceremony attended by Premier Michael Dunkley, Governor George Fergusson and Commissioner Michael DeSilva. Prior to his law enforcement career, Mr Godfrey represented Bermuda in the Carifta Games in 2012, competing in the 400 metres relay. His childhood athletics coach Cal Simons from the Bermuda Pacers Track Club described him as “a good guy and a dedicated athlete”, adding that he was “shocked” to hear news of the violent incident. A spokesman for the Bermuda Police Service said: “We were disturbed to hear that one of our officers was attacked at a nightclub while vacationing in England this weekend. We understand that he was released from hospital today, and we are hugely relieved that his injuries did not end up any worse than they are. We have read online that a resident of Northamptonshire has been charged with one count of wounding with intent and one count of possession of a knife blade/sharp pointed article in a public place. We will be watching the progress of this case with interest. In the meantime, we are making sure that our officer is supported while he is overseas and we are looking forward to his full and speedy recovery.”

November 3. New environmental regulations for superyachts could spell “doomsday” for the industry, according to reports from the British press. However, Mark Soares, a leading figure from Bermuda’s yachting sector, has said he is yet to witness any panic resulting from the ruling — as the Island continues to expand its superyacht capacity for the 2017 America’s Cup. From next January, vessels exceeding 79ft and 500 tonnes will have to be fitted with cumbersome new equipment aimed at drastically reducing their sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions before they can enter North American and Caribbean waters. The move, approved by the United Nations’ International Maritime Organisation, led The Observer and The Daily Mail newspapers to report on a potential backlash from ultra-wealthy superyacht owners. At present, there are 4,000 yachts in the world measuring more than 100ft. Owners include Roman Abramovich and Steven Spielberg, both of whom have docked in Bermuda during the past 12 months. The green initiative will bring maritime regulations closer to road transport in terms of pollution accountability. However, according to the British publications, it may also lead to disgruntled superyacht owners weighing up whether to replace existing cabins on their vessels with the hefty machinery. Mr Soares, director of Bermuda Yacht Services, said there was a possibility the move could impact the industry, although early signs had not proven too ominous. “The industry has been expecting this decision for quite a while,” he said. “I’m sure there will be some recourse, but I haven’t seen people getting overly concerned.” In the early 1990s, President George Bush imposed a 10 per cent luxury tax on yachts priced more than $100,000, only to find that the industry tanked — causing widespread layoffs and, eventually, a U-turn. Asked whether some superyacht owners might sell their prized possessions rather than comply with the UN’s regulations, Mr Soares said: “Maybe some will: it’ll be interesting to see. I haven’t noticed an outcry in the community at this point, but maybe there will be.” Meanwhile, Mr Soares is forging ahead with plans to erect a new marina in St George’s in preparation for the America’s Cup. “Negotiations are progressing nicely,” he said. The BYS chief added that he hoped Bermuda could compete numerically with the 90 superyachts which graced Auckland’s waterfront during the 2003 America’s Cup.

November 3. Bermuda-based Endurance Specialty Holdings yesterday posted third-quarter profits of $43.6 million, as acquisition expenses hit earnings. The company said last night it recorded $64 million in one-time transaction and integration expenses associated with the buyout of Montpelier in the third quarter. Net income — equivalent to 73 cents per share — was down $24.4 million on the $698 million reported for the same quarter of 2014. John Charman, chairman and chief executive officer of the insurance and reinsurance firm, said: “Against a backdrop of relentless global competition coupled with extremely challenging investment market conditions, I am very pleased with our ability to generate an attractive third quarter annualizes operation return on equity, excluding one time acquisition costs of 12.3 per cent. “Our strong results ably reflect the high quality of our underwriting and risk management, our ongoing expense discipline, as well as the benefits arising from a globally-diversified specialty insurance and reinsurance platform.” Endurance completed its acquisition of Montpelier at the end of the second quarter. Mr Charman said: “In the third quarter, we also completely integrated Montpelier’s global staff and operations into our Endurance and we are highly confident in our ability to materially exceed our originally planned expense savings. With the powerful combination of our two companies, we are very well positioned within the global marketplace to better serve our valued clients and distribution partners with both increased capacity and a larger, more diversified product offering across our wide distribution network. The absolute transformation of Endurance over the last three years uniquely positions us to generate continuous superior value for our shareholders despite the challenging market conditions.” Endurance reported gross premiums written of $642.6 million for the quarter, up 2.6 per cent on the same period last year. Net investment income totaled $16.5 million, a decrease of $8.8 million on the corresponding quarter of 2014.

November 3. Ethical issues that arise over long-term care are being discussed by medical staff as part of Ethics Awareness Week. Expert Christy Simpson, the head of the bioethics department at Dalhousie University, is working with staff from King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute until Saturday. Medical workers and community partners will attend seminars, continuing education sessions and grand rounds until Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, Dr Simpson will lead a symposium for members of the ethics committee at the Bermuda Hospitals Board. The public can visit the lobbies of MWI and the KEMH acute care wing and general wing throughout this week to learn more about ethics and long-term care. Sharon Alikhana, the ethics committee chairwoman and director of palliative care, said: "With an ageing population worldwide, long-term care is an increasingly relevant topic. But it's not only the elderly who need this kind of care. Our younger adults with physical or learning disabilities, early onset dementia or other enduring illnesses may also need long-term support. There are community resources that can help some individuals maintain their independence rather than requiring residential care. These clients, their families and their service providers may also run into ethical issues surrounding their medical care and life decisions." Dr Chantelle Simmons, the chairwoman of the ethics education subcommittee and chief of psychiatry, added: "Ethics is about making decisions based on a shared understanding of right and wrong. It's about doing the right things for the right reasons. Some of the ethical dilemmas those involved in long-term care might face include questions around whether an individual has the capacity to make decisions about their care, living situation, lifestyle or finances. For those who are seriously ill, ethical questions may arise about end-of-life decisions like advance directives, feeding and life support." The BHB ethics committee, which has about twenty members, assists clients, their families and healthcare professionals who are dealing with ethical issues around medical care. The group formed a relationship with Dalhousie University's bioethics department more than a decade ago to provide training assistance. The committee promotes awareness of ethical concerns at both hospitals, endorses medical ethics education, provides an ethics consultation service and produces guidelines on prominent issues that can help healthcare professionals to consider all aspects of controversial decisions. The committee also reviews medical research proposals on request, and reviews hospital policies to ensure they are ethically sound. The public can contact the committee on 291-HOPE (4673).

November 3. Restrictions on tobacco and e-cigarettes are soon to go through Parliament despite vendors’ hopes for amendments. The news was welcomed by the asthma charity Open Airways as the latest government statistics show that nearly half of Bermuda’s smokers have tried to quit within the last year — the same number as were advised to stop by a doctor. The survey from November 2013 to December 2014 found that 14 per cent of the population smoke. Out of men, 14.8 per cent smoke daily, while 5.4 per cent of women were daily smokers. Daily smokers, who consumed 11 cigarettes a day on average, tended to start the habit at the age of 18. E-cigarettes and flavored tobacco were targeted as a risk to minors in the One Bermuda Alliance’s 2014-15 legislative agenda. Less than two weeks ahead of the latest Throne Speech, the Ministry of Health confirmed that the Tobacco Control Act 2015, first announced in last year’s speech, would proceed as written. E-cigarettes, initially billed as a less damaging alternative for smokers seeking to quit, have proven to be dangerously enticing to younger people, according to Tracy Nash, a nurse with Open Airways. “Tobacco companies are not allowed to add flavors to cigarettes, but with e-cigarettes, because they don’t fall under that restriction, they are able to,” Ms Nash said. “Obviously having bubblegum and strawberry, you have to ask, who are they targeting?” Nicotine remains toxic when inhaled as a vapor instead of smoke, Ms Nash said, and highly addictive. Tabled in June, the Act had appeared to some tobacco retailers to have fallen off the legislative radar — but a ministry spokesman said last night that it would proceed. “The Tobacco Amendment Bill 2015 is scheduled for its second reading in the upcoming Parliamentary session,” the spokesman told The Royal Gazette. “The ministry undertook much consultation to address vendors’ concerns and queries. There had been some misinterpretation of the application of the provisions which has now been clarified. As such, the Bill is proceeding as tabled. The changes being introduced are designed to protect children from smoking and to prevent access to tobacco-related products that encourage take-up by youth and continued use in smokers. The public is reminded that smoking is among the most significant causes of preventable deaths.” Parts of the Act have been criticised as heavy-handed by the local tobacco industry. However, according to retailer Charles Pitt, the ministry has shown a degree of flexibility. Among other businesses, Mr Pitt runs the Matchbox in Washington Mall. The Act forbids the sale of tobacco products within three metres, roughly ten feet, of confectionery and snacks — a particular challenge for a kiosk-sized shop whose wares include cigarettes. “They are going to let us put the tobacco products under the counter, so that if you were to walk up, you would not be able to see them,” Mr Pitt said, calling it “a tiny break”. Michael Heslop, proprietor of the nearby The Smoke Shop, said he agreed that smoking was a health issue, particularly for young people. “I just want us to meet the same standards as everywhere else,” said Mr Heslop, calling Bermuda’s restrictions excessive. The fact that the Act had not been passed in the last session of Parliament had given Mr Heslop hope that “they were rewriting it — it never went to the Senate”. Cigar roller Grant Kennedy had shared the optimism. “The Act was only on its first reading in Parliament — I thought they were going to make some changes to it,” Mr Kennedy said. “It has never been too far from my mind.” According to a spokeswoman for the Chamber of Commerce, the group met with health minister Jeanne Atherden and her technical officers to discuss their concerns over the draft Act. “Our concerns centred around the continued ability of businesses to carry on in business with the amendments in the draft legislation.  We were concerned with the unintended consequences of the legislation. At no point were any of the parties present advocating the dismissal of the legislation or questioning the need to protect minors from the dangers of tobacco smoking.” A concern over the banning of cigars was subsequently allayed by the ministry: cigars are classed as “premium” and can still be sold at public events. Other retailers balked at the stipulation that cigarette warning labels cover 30 per cent of the product, when most imported brands had a 28 per cent coverage, which local merchants would be unlikely to change, while the implementation date of December 31 could be impractical “as it was felt that more time was needed to run down current stocks of already imported, duty paid merchandise. There were other concerns raised by individual members with the ministry promising to review them. At the close of our discussions with the ministry, they promised to take our points into consideration,” the spokeswoman said. “Ideally the members felt that more discussion was warranted and that a fair solution could be reached in the interest of all parties concerned.”

November 3. LinkBermuda has stepped up its ability to guard against internet attacks on its network and its clients. And almost immediately after deploying the new measures, the company saw how effective they were when a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack was launched against a client on its network. The technology worked and the attack was dealt with. That result reinforced LinkBermuda's belief that it made the right move when it partnered with Arbor Networks, a US software company specializing in network security, to provide detection and mitigation solutions against DDoS attacks. While in the grander scheme of things Bermuda is a relatively small target for would-be internet attackers, that does not mean it is immune to the potentially large scale disruption that can be wrought by such attacks, particularly if they are not dealt with speedily. Craig Davis, LinkBermuda's general manager, said it was important for his company to demonstrate to customers that it has a robust detection and mitigation system to deal with such attacks. He said by partnering with Arbor Networks it had put in place such a solution against the primary threat to availability of internet-based telecommunications services on the Island. "At LinkBermuda, we manage and operate capacity on diverse submarine fiber cable systems that connect Bermuda to points of presence in New York, Florida, the Caribbean and Brazil. Ensuring the availability of these links is essential for our customers and for Bermuda itself." LinkBermuda owns and operates an advanced network of international and domestic fiber cable facilities in Bermuda, and is primarily focused on business customers, although it also has residential customers. Referring to the attack that was detected on the company's network after Arbor Networks SP was implemented, Mr Davis said: "Almost immediately after deployment, we were targeted with a DDoS attack and our protection worked exactly as designed. Without the Arbor DDoS solution in place, despite LinkBermuda?s position as the market leader in provision of internet capacity to Bermuda, customers would undoubtedly have been impacted." Matthew Moynahan, Arbor Networks? president, said: "The fact that LinkBermuda was able to mitigate a significant attach so quickly after initial deployment is a testament not only to their team's capabilities, but to Arbor's engineers as well." A DDoS attack can take a number of forms, but essentially is an attempt by an outside party to overload a website or network by bombarding it with hits. Mr Davis explained that a website or group of internet addresses can become unusable if they get too many hits, or traffic, in a short space of time. "One simple way of doing that is repeatedly asking the website for information at a high rate, such as 50,000 requests per second. Such attacks are staged by running malicious programs through connected computers and internet connections, often globally connected and known as a botnet. The reasons behind attacks can be varied, such as to harm a commercial rival, or they may be driven by political or religious agendas." Mr Davis said recognition of an attack was key, as there are also legitimate reasons why a website might suddenly experience a dramatic rise in traffic. "In any system, if a network or internet provider is not ready, a sudden increase in traffic can look like a DDoS. LinkBermuda partnered with Arbor Networks to enhance its ability to detect attacks. We can tell when the use of the internet has gone up. It is flagged up. We than have to decide if it is a problem and what to do. One solution is to turn off the IP address or addresses that are under attack, this reduces the chance of the DDoS attack overloading other parts of the network's internet pipeline and possibly causing outages to other customers. The next stage is redirecting the affected traffic to a facility where it can be ?cleaned?. LinkBermuda does this in conjunction with Eastlink, a Canadian telecoms company, and Arbor Networks. Legitimate internet traffic is identified and allowed to reach its destination, while DDoS traffic is blocked." Mr Davies said there is generally a limited life-cycle to the attacks, and an attacker usually withdraws and moves on. However, if they linger and their IP addresses are identified, the matter can be reported to the abuser's internet service provider (ISP) requesting they resolve the matter. The issue can also be raised with a heavyweight organization such as ARIN, the American Registry for Internet Numbers.

November 2. Initial steps to develop Hamilton’s waterfront should focus on landscaping the area between the ferry terminal and the docks, according to architects Linberg and Simmons. The firm, which won an open design competition launched by Sir John Swan to regenerate the waterfront, believes the landscaping project would spark opportunities for local businesses and cost $12 to $15 million. The original $156-million proposal, which included a hotel and casino in the HSBC building at Albuoy’s Point, a new ferry terminal, a market plaza, park, pier and marina, have laid dormant since they were unveiled 12 years ago. But Sjur Linberg, a partner at Linberg and Simmons, told The Royal Gazette he hoped the success of the recent Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series would reopen the dialogue on the waterfront. “The America’s Cup could be a great catalyst to get things going,” he said. “What makes Hamilton Harbour so unique is the relationship between the city and the harbour. That’s what makes it an iconic place. It is clear that when you do something spectacular, people will use the waterfront space. The waterfront holds a lot of promise.” Mr Linberg believes that Bermuda’s own products could be showcased along the waterfront in a marketplace for artisans, fisherman and members of the food and beverage industry. “The landscape portion, including creating the waterfront promenade, with a tourist information centre and public restrooms and marketplace structure is estimated to cost $12 to $15 million. The people’s park’ which Sir John was talking about is very achievable without enormous cost. The project, in my mind, is the most important project we can undertake to ensure Bermuda’s future success as a tourist destination and international business centre. A vibrant city would complement other businesses. The bigger things can happen in good time.” Sir John told The Royal Gazette that while a waterfront development itself would bring incremental improvements to the city, the casinos must be the “main financial engine”.  But he raised concerns that the Gaming Act could limit the development potential of Hamilton’s waterfront and cause further divide within Hamilton itself. “The legislation tells a story. If it’s just for the almighty dollar, then we will pay the price for many years to come. For the first time we have a chance to say, this is ours. It would totally transform the waterfront. We need a showpiece that tells the world we are back in business. It would be the beginning of a new phase of Bermuda, to show where Bermuda should be heading.”

November 2. The Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs have announced several new visitor experiences for the winter months in a brochure titled Uncover the Arts. In total, the brochure highlights 50 activities that will be available between this month and March of 2016, with some activities continuing until the end of April. Pat Phillip-Fairn, the BTA chief product and experiences development officer, said: “We’re very excited to have 18 new unique and authentic Bermuda experiences added to Bermuda’s list of cultural treasures. This is the second year in our effort to re-establish Bermuda as a destination for all seasons. The robust collection of experiences in our new brochure shows just how effective we are when the entire industry rallies around a focused strategy.” Among the highlighted activities are a once-weekly tour of Wadson’s Farm in Southampton by Tom Wadson, a beer tasting tour at the Dockyard Brewing Company, hands-on classes in Bermudian baking at Sweet Saak Bakery in St George’s and workshops on local folk medicine at the Botanical Gardens by Dr Kuni Frith. The brochure also details a new Cooper’s Island tour, a hibiscus gardens tour and a Railway Trail excursion through the West End. Meanwhile, the Island’s heritage will be highlighted through weekly tours of St Peters by Canon W David Raths and a tour of the Island’s unofficial tenth parish, St David’s. The East End is also highlighted through the popular Haunted History tours, set to continue through the winter in tandem with dinners at Tempest, and the introduction of an East End Cultural Passport. Those who purchase the $30 passport will have access to seven forts, museums and attractions in St George’s and St David's for a week. The new Uncover the Arts brochure and the Cultural Passport are available in Visitor Information Centres across the island and online at the BTA’s consumer website.

November 2. Bermuda has again been highlighted as one of the world’s top Island destinations by Condé Nast Traveler's annual Readers Choice Awards. The publication ranked Bermuda fifth-best island in a recent list, based on reader reviews. Overall, the Island received a rating of 84.2 per cent, beating out islands including Bali, Santorini, the British Virgin Islands and many others. The article states: “Though this small island sits in the North Atlantic, its climate is decidedly subtropical. A British Overseas Territory, Bermuda is a melting pot of British, American, and Caribbean cultures, and offers tons of things to do: snorkeling near pink-sand beaches, golfing, shopping, museum hopping, and more.” The article also notes the Island’s caves as an attraction, highlighting Crystal and Fantasy cave tours in Hamilton Parish, and states that there are direct flights to Bermuda from eight East Coast cities including New York, Atlanta and Miami. While Bermuda was the top Atlantic destination on the list, four Pacific Islands received higher scores, including Waiheke Island in New Zealand (84.4 per cent) and the French Polynesian Islands of Moorea and Bora Bora (84.5 per cent and 84.8 per cent). The island of Palawan in the Philippines won the prize for the top island destination for the second year in a row, scoring 85.9 per cent approval. Bermuda is no stranger to the annual awards, having won the competition 11 times, most recently in 2013. The magazine has also highlighted the Island through several articles this year, including a story focused on Bermuda’s art scene and a cover story in the February “Romance” issue. The Island was also highlighted recently when the Royal Palms Hotel in Pembroke was named in Expedia’s top-ten hotels on it’s Insider Selects list.

November 2. The US company that is in the process of acquiring a controlling interest in KeyTech, has posted a third-quarter profit of $6.6 million, or 41 cents per share. Atlantic-Tele Network (ATN) is a trading company that invests in the communications and renewable-energy industries. It is based in Massachusetts and has a connection with Bermuda that stretches back to 1998 when it was the primary investor in CellOne. It was announced last month that ATN is seeking a controlling interest in Island telecommunications firm KeyTech. In the deal, ATN is giving KeyTech its existing shareholding in CellOne and $42 million in cash, in return the US firm will take a 51 per cent stake in KeyTech. KeyTech shareholders have agreed to the move, which is now awaiting regulatory approval. ATN’s third-quarter net income was down about $10 million from the $16.2 million reported during the same three months of 2014. However, the firm also reported quarterly revenues of $96.8 million, which was 8 per cent higher. The company’s operating income was $22.5 million, down 22 per cent, which included $2.5 million of transaction-related costs. Following the completion of its acquisitions of KeyTech in Bermuda, and the Innovative group of companies in the US Virgin Islands, the firm is looking to boost its annual revenues by between $180 and $200 million, according to Michael Prior, ATN’s chief executive officer. “Third-quarter results were in line with our overall expectations, reflecting a mix of factors affecting revenues and operating profitability that are consistent with the execution of our strategy. Our acquisition of a controlling interest in KeyTech Bermuda pairs our 43-per-cent ownership of CellOne with their 42-per-cent ownership and adds wire line voice, broadband and video services to our existing mobile services. KeyTech recently received shareholder approval for the transaction and we are now awaiting regulatory approval.” Regarding the KeyTech and Innovative acquisitions, Mr Prior said: “In both cases, we are investing in markets and geographies we know well, and where we will have the ability to provide customers with a single connectivity solution for mobile and fixed telecom and media services. After accounting for the cash outlays associated with these agreements, ATN still will have significant cash resources and debt capacity to invest in organic-growth projects and to deploy in additional acquisitions, and we are actively reviewing opportunities in both categories.”

November 2. Pharmacist and university lecturer Dr Marcia Williams made a presentation highlighting studies that suggest cannabis can reduce the risk of contracting diabetes. Dr Williams, who was invited to the Island to give a presentation at the Bermuda College by the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association during Pharmacy Week, is a lecturer at the University of Technology in Jamaica and holds a PhD in Pharmaceutics from Queen’s University in Belfast. During her presentation, titled Cannabis Sativa — Recent Developments and Implications, she focused on a joint study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston. While it was published in 2013, it was not publicly reported on in Bermuda, which has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world. Legislation was passed at the end of last year allowing the use of cannabis-derived medicines but not cannabis itself. Diabetes mellitus is a group of autoimmune diseases characterized by defects in insulin secretion resulting in abnormally high concentrations of glucose in the blood. It can eventually lead to blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, hardening of the arteries and death. Those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes can not produce pancreatic insulin while those with type 2 diabetes, which can be controlled by diet, produces inadequate amounts of insulin. The researchers in the study assessed the relationship between marijuana use and fasting insulin, glucose, and insulin resistance in a sample of 4,657 male subjects. They concluded that those who reported using marijuana over the past month had lower levels of fasting insulin and insulin resistance, as well as smaller waist circumference and higher levels of HDL-C high-density lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol. The report said: “These associations were attenuated among those who reported using marijuana at least once, but not in the past 30 days, suggesting that the impact of marijuana use on insulin and insulin resistance exists during periods of recent use.” The results of the study were published in the American Journal of Medicine which reported: “These are indeed remarkable observations that are supported, as the authors note, by basic science experiments that came to similar conclusions. We desperately need a great deal more basic and clinical research into the short- and long-term effects of marijuana in a variety of clinical settings such as cancer, diabetes, and frailty of the elderly. I would like to call on the National Institutes of Health and the Division of Extramural Activities to collaborate in developing policies to implement solid scientific investigations that would lead to information assisting physicians in the proper use and prescription of THC in its synthetic or herbal form.” Dr Williams told The Royal Gazette: “They found that users did not develop diabetes and that it can delay the onset of the disease. One effect is to lower sugar levels. The studies that have been done have shown that it slows the effects of diabetes and the complications you get with it — the neuropathy — diabetes effects your nerves so you get that tingling feeling and sometimes you don’t have any feeling in your extremities. This is a study that I am planning to reproduce in Jamaica and see if it correlates with what is happening in the Caribbean.” Dr Williams went as far as to say that Bermuda should consider changing the law to allow for the use of medical marijuana. “The direction for Bermuda is probably to allow persons to have medical use with standardized products. It has to be approved and from a reputable company that has shown it says what it says it does and contains what it is said to contain.” Debbie Jones, of the Bermuda Diabetes Association, said: “It is becoming recognized that marijuana appears to have some real metabolic benefits in respect of diabetes.” Referring to those in the study who used marijuana, she continued: “That subgroup had better fasting blood glucose levels, lowered waist circumference and improvement in insulin resistance. Current marijuana use in these subjects saw 16 per cent lower fasting insulin levels and 17 per cent lower HOMA-IR (Insulin resistance). Marijuana affects areas of the brain called the cannabinoid receptors. These receptors play a role in appetite and metabolism. A drug called Rimonabant was developed to affect these same receptors but in a slightly different way than marijuana. Rimonabant was effective in lowering weight and reducing blood glucose levels. However, Rimonabant had psychiatric side effects and was removed from the market. It actually had never been approved for the US market. So researchers at Harvard who were involved in the study published in the AJM concluded that marijuana has an intriguing role to play and suggested more research be done on its beneficial effects in treating and preventing diabetes.” 

November 2. The United Kingdom has released new data on minimum wage levels, the minimum hourly rate at which all adult employees including the disabled must by law be paid. There are two types. One is the Government-mandated new Minimum Wage of £7.25 per hour from April 1, 2016 which must be paid to all employees working in the UK, including Bermuda-headquartered insurance and other companies with offices and/or employees in the UK by their British or European or other overseas-based employers. The other is the Minimum Living Wage of  £8.20 an hour set by an independent body. The latter is now being paid to all low-paid employees of discount food stores such as Aldi and Lidl. This British-UK announcement will affect Bermudian low-paid employees living and working in the UK if they earn less than the minimum wage. It is not yet known whether and how this may influence the Bermuda Government to apply minimum wages in Bermuda where the overall cost of living is hugely higher than in the UK, USA, Canada, Europe, etc.

Sunday, November 1. Royal Gazette newspaper not published on Sundays.


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