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Daily Archives: August 11, 2017
South African Pilots make their dream a reality of visiting The Bahamas – South Florida Caribbean News
Posted: August 11, 2017 at 6:38 pm
PLANTATION Captains Sean Murray and Colin Gray, pilots from Cape Town, South Africa said, that they had always been fascinated with the beauty of The Bahamas and had dreamed of flying there.
They decided to make their dream a reality and combined their trip to The Bahamas with the recent EAA Air Venture Conference in OshKosh, Wisconsin, which climaxed July 31, 2017.
Captain Murray, a flight instructor and operator of a flying squad in South Africa said that he was captivated by the beauty of The Bahamas and began enquiring into flying there.
In searching the internet for flying instructors to The Bahamas, he was directed to The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviations (MOT) websitewhere he was able to get all the necessary information. He then requested assistance from the Bahamas Flying Ambassadors, and quickly received a response from Captain Anthony Tony Restaino, one of the Bahamas flying ambassadors founding members, who organized the fly-out.
Greg Rolle, Sr. Director of Sports and Vertical Markets, MOT, said that the MOTs website is results driven and is designed to connect all the dots with our industry partners, hoteliers, flying ambassadors and other operators. It has been a proven and vital tool for us, and user friendly to our visitors and investors.
Captains Sean Murray and Colin Gray with Greg Rolle, Sr. Director of Sports and Vertical Markets, MOT, and Captain Anthony Tony Restaino
We are always happy to connect with and engaged our visitors and drive business into The Bahamas, he said.
Murray and Gray said they were totally sold on The Bahamas, after viewing a video on U-Tube produced by pilot, Steveorino, which showcased the ease of flying into The Bahamas, while highlighting its crystal clear waters and pristine beauty.
Captains Sean Murray and Colin Gray
When the team arrived in the United States, they quickly connected with Captain Restaino, completed the necessary paper work, testing procedures and began planning their Bahamas fly out. Upon renting a Piper Seneca (PA34) aircraft, they then flew to Bimini, cleared Bahamas Customs and continued onto Great Harbour Cay, where they spent the day.
The team returned to the USA to change their aircraft, one that would allow them further exploration of the Bahama Islands.
The team cleared Bahamas customs in San Andros before spending the day in Staniel Cay, Exuma. There, they rented a boat, snorkeled, swam with the pigs and had lunch.
They then flew to Georgetown, Exuma, and became friends with taxi driver, Denise, who dazzled them with her compelling cultural stories, that were equally colorful to her 6 inches nails.
They visited Lee Stocking Island, did more beaching and lounging, experienced sharks and dined at Chat n Chill Restaurant, before returning to Opa Locka, Florida.
The Bahamas was everything we imagined and more, said Murray. We tried to do everything but could not. Our plans are to visit again and again, each time staying for longer periods of time. This time, it was with the boys, our next visit, planned for October 2017, will be with our families, he said.
Captain Restaino, who is also President of AERO Flying Club, will be leading a group of 35 persons in a fly out to Grand Bahama, September 15-17, 2017.
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Bahamas E-Passport collection returns to Thompson Boulevard/University Drive – Magnetic Media (press release)
Posted: at 6:38 pm
Posted: at 6:38 pm
Posted: at 6:38 pm
After a year spent mired in PokerStars latest marketing fail, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure will return to Paradise Island and the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas this coming January.
The name was changed to PokerStars Championship Bahamas. One of pokers most unique and successful events was altered to conform with the rest of the companys live event schedule. Now, PokerStars wants to turn back time and return the PCA to its former glory.
Its clear PokerStars understands more than just the need to change marketing material and signage. In fact, the PCA Main Event buy-in will return to the $10,300price point of its glory years. Thats when prize pools reached more than $15 million and the number of entries over 1,500. Theyve also dropped the number of events and reduced the rake in an effort to make the PCA what it once was.
Were reviewing our live events and incorporating player feedback to ensure were delivering the highest quality experience and exceeding player expectations whenever possible, PokerStars Director of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser said. This feedback included suggestions that we restore the PCA name and improve the quality of that event to reflect the great heritage and unique experience that made PCA one of the most-anticipated poker events of the year. Were restoring the name and reinvigorating the event to ensure it remains a premier poker festival.
In 2017, the PCA was caught up in PokerStars effort to fix what wasnt really broken. The company tossed 13 seasons of good will and positive marketing impressions created by the European Poker Tour on the trash heap. Instead, they chose global expansion, and a plan to put all its live events under the PokerStars Championship or PokerStars Festival banners.
For the most part, this resulted in lower prize pools across the board. Unfortunately, it also added to a growing feeling the company that once fostered pokers growth omnipotently, was quickly becoming a vapid corporate entity that cared more about shareholders than customers.
For the PCA, which saw its Main Event price tag dropped to $5,300 to shoehorn it in with the other PokerStars Championship events, the results were pretty dramatic. The Main Event prize pool dropped to $3,376,712. This marked the smallest prize pool since the inaugural PCAs $1,657,500 in 2004. Plus, the number of entries dropped to 738. This was the worst turnout since the 724 recorded in 2006.
Over the years, PCA Main Event fields have been about one-third American. January weather in the Bahamas has always made for a nice escape from the Winters of the heavily populated Northeast. Plus, the flight from New York to Nassau is less than three hours.
Back when they could play online satellites, American players certainly did. The PCA prize pools and number of entrants of the past reflected that. The three largest PCA Main Events were recorded in 2009 (1,347 entries, $12,674,000 prize pool), 2010 (1,529 entries, $14,831,300 prize pool), and 2011 (1,560 entries, $15,132,000 prize pool). That was all before the US Department of Justice effectively shut down online poker in America in the Spring of 2011.
Outside of New Jersey, Americans are still unable to play on PokerStars. In fact, even in New Jersey, the PokerStars experience is just a shade of what it once was. This mostly because player pools are made up only of those currently located inside state lines.
However, PokerStars is still planning an extensive Road to Bahamas PCA satellite schedule outside of the US. The goal is qualifying as many as 400 players for the 2018 PCA Main Event.
Theyre going to throw a massive player party. Theyll give away the once very popular player bags, full of swag worth $200 a piece. Plus, theyre even promising to make improvements to the food and beverage options players have been complaining about for years.
Add in invites for the worlds fastest man, Usain Bolt, and funny man Kevin Hart The latest celebrities draining PokerStars marketing budget And Americans may have good reason to start vacationing in the Bahamas again this January 6-14.
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Posted: at 6:38 pm
The queen of the sea, a monster mollusk that inspired its own republic in Florida but now is as likely to be found in a frying pan or a gift shop as the ocean floor, is in trouble.
A marine preserve in the Bahamas famed for its abundance of queen conchs and intended to help keep the country’s population thriving is missing something: young conchs. Researchers studying the no-take park off Exuma, one of hundreds throughout the Caribbean, found that over the last two decades, the number of young has sharply declined as adult conchs steadily matured and died off. The population hasn’t crashed yet like it has in the Florida Keys, but in the last five years, the number of adult conchs in one of the Bahamas’ healthiest populations dropped by 71 percent.
For the slow-moving slugs that gather by the hundreds to mate, scientists fear a new, unexpected threat may now doom the park’s population: old age.
The discovery also raises questions about the effectiveness of marine preserves, long viewed as a solution to reviving over-fished stocks. If one of the Caribbean’s oldest and best marine preserves isn’t working to replenish one of its biggest exports now regulated as tightly as lobster what does that mean for other preserves and how they’re managed?
“We can see (the preserve) works for grouper and sharks,” said Andrew Kough, lead author of a study published earlier this month and a larval expert at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. “But for a lot of the animals you don’t consider as much, for example conch that are tied to a complex life cycle of larval dispersal, it’s not working.”
To find out why, Kough and a team of researchers set sail this month from Miami aboard a Shedd research boat imagine the Belafonte minus the mini sub in “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” For 12 days, they’ll dive the deep channels surrounding the park in search of young conchs to count and measure. They’ll also take DNA samples to determine where the conchs are coming from. If they can trace the path of the young conchs, the hope is they can find a better way to protect them and manage the fishery.
“The babies are either not coming in in high enough numbers to replenish the adults or there’s something else going on in the park that’s an unintended consequence,” Kough said. “There’s so many sharks and rays inside the park they could just be chowing down on baby conchs.”
In the Florida Keys, the ghost of the conch looms large: in oversized highway replicas, T-shirts, and horns. When he took the throne as king of the Conch Republic, treasure hunter Mel Fisher carried a scepter crowned with a queen conch. But in the Caribbean, conch remains a vital part of the economy, and the reason its governments are so concerned.
Conchs used to be prevalent in Florida, too. But decades of overfishing nearly wiped them out. In the mid-1980s the U.S. banned their harvest to save what was left. Yet more than three decades later, they still have not recovered in Florida waters, an inauspicious sign for the Caribbean.
Across the Caribbean, conchs are as good as currency. Almost anyone who can swim can grab one from the ocean floor and sell it or serve it. Cracked conch or conch salad appears on almost every menu. Their pink-lipped shells line porches and walkways. Countless docks are littered with piles of discarded shells. They are used for everything from jewelry to bait. Whole industries, from fishermen to exporters, depend on a healthy population.
But regulating them as been uneven. While some islands impose seasons and limits on takes in the Turks and Caicos conch season starts in October and there are set limits on numbers and size other have not. Populations have plummeted in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Honduras, prompting the U.S. to ban their imports.
The Bahamas has taken an aggressive approach. In 2013, the government launched a “Conchservation” campaign to save what it considers a national treasure that once gathered in vast herds along miles of flats and seagrass meadows.
In recent years, Kough said those herds have thinned considerably, driving populations down. In the Berry Islands, he said, previous surveys found the sea bottom littered with conchs, which can live up to 40 years and not only hold an important place in the food chain but graze on algae that can kill seagrass. The last time his team visited, Kough said, they found hardly any big adults.
“The fishermen are going further to get the animals,” he said. “We found a lot of sub adults and juveniles as well, but it’s the adults that are in decline and that just screams fishing.”
Scientists believe a healthy population needs between 50 and 100 adults conchs for every 2.5 acres to sustain itself. The patchier the clusters, the harder it is for populations to find each other and connect.
Working with the Bahamian government, Kough hopes to better understand how the conchs are circulating or more precisely the baby conchs. About five days after female conchs release their eggs in long sandy strands, larvae emerge and get caught up in currents. Because the larval stage can last up to a month, the babies can float more than 100 miles. Kough suspects the young conchs from the preserve are winding up in unprotected areas hammered by harvesting.
Although the Bahamas restricts fishing, Kough said tighter measures may be needed. Regulations currently allow the take of any conch with a flared lip, the smooth curve on its rosy shell, which for years has been considered the indication of a mature conch. Scientists now believe the thickness of the shell is a better measure of maturity, triggering a local move to change rules to require shells be at least as thick as a Bahamian penny.
“You don’t want to pull up juveniles. You want animals to reproduce,” Kough said.
Kough is hoping the team can find some answers by studying currents to map the ocean highways traveled by conch larvae.
“It’s a lot more complex because the animals are spending so much time out in the open ocean and outside the boundaries because they’re dispersing as larvae,” he said. “You can’t create a huge ocean open park. Well you could, but how would you enforce that?”
The international community has vowed to protect 30 percent of the world’s coastlines by 2030 to keep fisheries sustainable. But, Kough said, the Bahamas is in the difficult position of having within its borders vast flats and shallows not considered shoreline that should be protected but could exhaust limited resources.
“They recognize there’s a problem. That’s the really important thing,” he said. “So they want to take steps to fix it before it turns into something like Florida, where the population just crashed and still hasn’t recovered.”
Published at 8:20 AM PDT on Aug 11, 2017 | Updated at 8:41 AM PDT on Aug 11, 2017
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Posted: at 6:38 pm
TRANSFERRING more toxic Bank of the Bahamas loans to Bahamas Resolve will tremendously increase this countrys public debt, former Central Bank Governor and Bahamas Resolve Chairman James Smith said yesterday.
By doing this you would free up the balance sheet and make it compliant with the Central Bank, he said. The downside is youve increased tremendously your public debt. Theres no winning in that situation but clearly if you want the bank to have a head-start you have to deal with the terrible loan book.
Mr Smith said he recommended months ago to the previous administration that to turn BOB around, it should remove all of the banks toxic loans from its books, not just a part of it as the Christie Administration had done.
Meanwhile yesterday, former Court of Appeal President Dame Joan Sawyer criticised the new administrations decision to follow in the footsteps of the PLP and transfer BOBs toxic loans to a special purpose vehicle (SPV).
So the FNM has followed the PLPs nonsense, Dame Joan said on the Nahaja Black Show. They have gone down the train even further than the PLP in that regard.
The comments came after Wayne Aranaha, chairman of BOB, revealed that $166m in toxic BOB loans will be transferred to Bahamas Resolve, the SPV the Christie administration created in 2015 to clean up BOBs balance sheet and go after loans the bank was unable to recover.
The $166m is on top of the $100m in bad loans the previous administration transferred to the SPV.
Bahamas Resolve has faced significant headwinds going after the bad loans, leading Mr Smith to warn earlier this year that taxpayers will have to pay the interest and principal related to much of those loans.
The yearly interest to the bank is about two to three million dollars, Mr Smith has said. Bahamas Resolve has so far only been able to sell two of the properties from its original portfolio. Its recoveries were supposed to finance the interest payments to BOB.
The banks isnt clean in all of this, Mr Smith, who served as minister of state for finance in the first Christie administration, said yesterday. There are legal challenges before the courts on the amount of interest they were charging and agreements they didnt keep. That helps explain why they couldnt go after so much of the bad loans.
Mr Smith said the Christie administration decided not to transfer the loans of politically exposed persons like members of the government to the SPV, a fact he believes meant efforts to clean up the banks balance sheet did not go far enough.
Its not clear if the new administration will place a similar restriction on what loans can be transferred to the SPV.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has said the $166m transfer is the banks best shot for recovery, adding the previous administration tried to protect certain borrowers, resulting in the bank having to carry provisions it didnt need to.
Nonetheless, Bahamians will pay quite a lot for this, Mr Smith said.
The banking system had over $1b in non-performing loans, working through that during the last four years. One bank had to discount to take them off the books. Similarly, we will have to eat it someway down the road and that process starts immediately. First you have to recognise the debt; $100m in promissory notes were given from the former administration to BOB in exchange for the bad loans.
Now I presume another $160m notes will be exchanged. Its a liability of the government for which they must pay back interest and principal over time.
Mr Turnquest has said the governments rescue of BOB will be debated in Parliament.
In 2015 Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, then the leader of the Official Opposition, led about 100 supporters on a march to BOBs headquarters on Shirley Street to protest the leadership of the bank.
We have assembled here at the peoples bank to declare with one loud voice that enough is enough, he said speaking from the banks steps at the time. The government must act and they must act now. The use of government voting power to prop up failed leadership in the bank is unacceptable, when the Bahamian taxpayers have been made to swallow a $100m increase in the public debt load in order to prop up the same bank.
Posted: at 6:38 pm
UK offshore can compensate for others with more limited space
A new report by the consultancy, prepared for TenneT and Energinet.dk, said 180GW of the total capacity would be deployed in the North Sea and another 50GW in the Baltic and Irish seas, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Restricting global warming to well below 2C in line with the Paris climate accord would require electricity generation to become carbon neutral by 2045, Ecofys noted.
To calculate the needed offshore wind capacity, it further assumed a 50% reduction in total energy demand by 2045 as well as a 45% electrification level.
The report identified spatial planning as an international challenge, arguing that the region as a whole has sufficient space available to meet the combined offshore wind target.
It noted that countries such as Denmark and the UK, which have “overabundant space” in their part of the North Seas to meet national offshore wind capacity requirements, can compensate for others with more limited space, including Belgium and France.
Ecofys also recommended the countries develop a 2045 roadmap for flexibility options, such as energy storage, demand response and capacity reserves, to ensure grid stability with a higher share of variable renewables in the system.
It added that increased interconnection capacity is needed to pool these flexibility resources from across the region.
In a separate study for the European Commission, Ecofys and RPS outlined the potential environmental impacts arising from the development of renewables and a grid in the Irish and North Seas up to 2030.
In a high renewables scenario, up to 76.6GW of renewable energy would be deployed in the region the vast majority of it wind.
“Much of the impact from the offshore elements relate to biodiversity through direct conflict (e.g. collisions, loss of habitat, smothering etc.) or indirect impacts (increased effort required for feeding, avoidance behaviour),” the report said.
“Facilitating the development of international grid infrastructure, including offshore grid connection hubs to support the exploitation of the lowest levelised cost of energy, is key to allowing more [offshore wind] capacity to be installed,” a spokesperson for industry association WindEurope said.
First published on Ends Europe
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Posted: at 6:38 pm
Senvion’s offshore business helped revenues despite an overall fall onshore
The firm’s results were backed by its servicing and offshore segments, as onshore revenues fell 25% compared to 2016, totalling 490.8 million.
Offshore revenues, however, grew 146% from 75 million to 184.3 million in the first six months of 2017. This was due to a 307 million order for the 203MW Trianel Windpark Borkum II offshore project in Germany, where Senvion will supply its 6.2MW turbine.
Onshore revenues fell in many of Senvion’s core markets during H1, including the UK, Canada, Portugal and Belgium. However, there was a 27.5% increase in onshore revenues in Germany.
“Our performance in the first six months of 2017 is in line with our expectations. Senvion continues to face a challenging environment whilst we are remaining on track,” said Senvion CEO Juergen Geissinger.
“We have been making progress in shaping our company for the future in times of fast decreasing levelised costs of energy as many markets shift to auction-based systems.
“Our order intake is growing and we continue to introduce products successfully. Our Chile contract has finally closed financing and is now being converted into a firm order, which is another milestone for our company,” Geissinger added.
Earlier this week, developer Aela Energia completed the financing for a 299MW of capacity in Chile, which Senvion will supply with turbines from its 3MW platform.
As a result of the deal, Senvion reduce its guidance for 2017 saying the revenue would move to 2018. Senvion now expects 2017 revenues to total 1.9-1.95 billion, down from an initial 2-2.1 billion.
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Showbiz Analysis: Barry Williams Hits The High Seas, Talks Music, Weddings, and Brady Bunch Siblings – Parade
Posted: at 6:37 pm
August 11, 2017 3:29 PM ByDr. Nancy Berk Parade @nancyberk More by Dr. Nancy
When I sat down to chat with Brady Bunch favorite Barry Williams, he had literally just witnessed a boatload of weddings. Officiating at a vow renewal ceremony for couples on the 70s Rock and Romance Cruise, Williams, who was onboard with his then-fiance (the couple tied the knot in a solo ceremony this summer), enjoyed the excitement that came with the task and his official role as cruise host.
Said Williams of the ceremony he performed for a crowd of couples whose marital statuses ranged from one week to over half a century, I think that kind of renewalits important, because at some point you need to kind of reset and start over and remember why you got into a relationship in the first place. And I think this was a perfect place to do that.
Listen to the conversation with Barry Williams.
Forever a fan of 70s music, Williams, who is also a spokesperson for classic television network MeTV, seemed to have landed in the perfect place for fun flashbacks. (Tickets for the StarVista music cruises, including the 70s Rock & Romance Cruise, are available here.)
Im referring to this as a five-day music fantasy. It is reciprocal between the passengers and talent. The talents being recognized in a very, very positive, solid way. The passengers get to hang with their heroes.
Ive never been on a themed cruise and [now] Im not sure Id want to go on anything else. It breaks down so many barriers and immediately youre connected with the passengers and youre not having to make enormous adjustments or just be off by yourself youre connected [by] the enthusiasm about sharing the same kind of generation, the same kind of experience, the same kind of passion for, in this case, the music. And I think songs of the 70s, and the songwriters, and the types of music and the diversity of that decade speaks for itself. To have so many top acts here is a thrill, explained Williams, pointing to shipboard performances by artists including Peter Frampton, America, Little River Band, Chuck Negron, and Christopher Cross.
He may love cruises, but these days Williams spends a lot of his time flying for fun. Not many people know that Im a private pilot. I fly single engine planesusually Pipers or Cessnas. And because of my travel, I can go in and get checked out at whatever airport Im staying at. And then my days off, Ill go and cruise and learn the territory wherever I am. I live in the Ozark Mountains now and I see most of it from the air.
The Brady Bunch television series will always be a special part of Barry Williams life and hes never backed away from it. Is there anything in particular about Greg Brady that he still embraces? Williams doesnt skip a beat, Well I think Greg earned a moniker of being Americas most reliable big brother. And I appreciate that.
So, if grownup Greg Brady headed home for Thanksgiving and got into one of those tense family dinner table conversations, which sibling does Williams think Greg would support in the discussion? I was pretty protective of Cindy, said Williams offering up his hypothetical answer to side with his littlest sitcom sister. I feel Jans pain as she is cast aside again, but take comfort in the fact that it wasnt because of Marcia Marcia Marcia.
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Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, comic and entertainment analyst. The host of the showbiz podcast Whine At 9, Nancy digs a little deeper as she chats with fascinating celebrities and industry insiders. Her book College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind can be seen in the feature film Admission starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.Barry William
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Posted: at 6:37 pm
Crossing the Mediterranean to Italy is now the most-used sea route for migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe with more than 180,000 landing in Italy in 2016.
The crossing is, however, fraught with dangers. Thousands escaping brutal war or poverty in their countries of origin have perished at sea while trying to reach the shores of the Europe, be it at the hands of traffickers or the mercy of inclement weather.
And while the vessels of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres)or other NGOs have been rescuing people from the sea, the very same groups are being accused of encouraging vulnerable populations to risk crossingthe Mediterranean. The argument? Refugees and migrants take the perilousjourney knowing rescue boats are waiting to pick them up.
But not all ships in the Mediterranean are out to rescue refugees. The C-Star is operated by Defend Europe, an anti-immigrant group.Sailing around the Mediterranean, its aim is to return migrant and refugee boats to Africa.
TRT World’s Abubakr Al-Shamahi explores the battle between the ships that seek to rescue people coming from Africaand one that is trying to stop them.
Spain faces migration challenge
Spain could overtake Greece this year in the number of migrants arriving by sea, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Thursday, coming shore on boats and even jet-skis.
Holiday makers on a beach in southern Spain Wednesday were stunned when a black rubber boat full of migrants reached the shore, its occupants jumping out and running away as scores of sun-worshippers looked on.
On the same day, 12 migrants arrived in waters off the Spanish territory of Ceuta in northern Morocco on jet-skis, with one — a 28-year-old man from Guinea — drowning before he could be rescued, authorities said.
According to theIOM’s latest figures, until August 6, close to 8,200 migrants had arrived in Spain so far this year.
That is more than triple the number recorded at the same time last year, according to Joel Millman, a seniorIOMspokesman, and already more than the total arrivals in 2016.
TRT World’sNafisa Latic takes a look at the numbers.
While the figure pales in comparison with Italy — where more than 96,400 migrants have landed so far this year — Spain is catching up with Greece where 11,713 alighted from boats in the same timeframe.
The number of sea arrivals, however, doesn’t take into account those coming into Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish territories in northern Morocco, by land.
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