Archive for February, 2008

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Bigger Prison

February 22, 2008

Well Bermuda is going need much bigger prisons if Sen. Burch has his way.  Yes, let’s lock up the single mother because her son was involved in some act of violence while she was out late working several jobs to provide for her children and at home watching them.  This way her other children can follow suit of the eldest son?!  (One extreme scenario). 

IMHO, it takes a community to raise a child.  There seems to have been a shift in thinking about how children are raised from being community based to the parents sole responsibility.  I clearly remember being put in my place by family friends and teachers, not solely my parents.  Teachers seem to have been stripped of any power to discipline incidents in the classroom (I remember being appalled when I read this, although I believe the student was suspended at some point after the BUT stepped in).  I think discipline is an aspect of the education system that also needs some careful consideration when we look at revamping the education system. 

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Bermuda Flavours

February 21, 2008

Thomas Frost, executive chef of Fairmont Hamilton Princess, and Christopher Chafe, executive chef of Fairmont Southampton Princess showcased a variety of Bermudian dishes this weekend to Bostonians in a weekend event at Fairmont Copley.  In addition, Malcolm Gosling was on-site promoting Bermudian Rum and Joel McDonell producer of Bermuda’s own Gombey Jam Factory.

From the write up in the Royal Gazette, the weekend event sounds like a huge success and a great way to promote Bermuda as a tourist destination.  Although, that article doesn’t state the type of people that were at this event – chefs looking for new twists?  Fairmont guests only?  General public?

By the looks of things the event was mainly organized by Fairmont and had no Ministry of Tourism involvement (from what I can tell anyway).  It will hopefully entice more visitors to the island to see what else the island has to offer other than unique cuisine.  The Ministry of Tourism should take some notes.

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Brief Budget Review

February 15, 2008

I’ve been skimming through the 2008/09 budget that was released today and have a few comments.

  • Government has put aside $143 million for the Ministry of Education. Like the Throne speech, I don’t see any concrete ways in which this money will be spent to fix the current state of our education system other than more reviews – this time of the current curriculum and internal communication procedures. 
  • I was particularly intrigued by some of the improvements set out by the Department of Immigration including the use of biometric identification using facial recognition and e-passports to ultimately automate passenger clearance at the airport.  I would think that facial recognition would be more useful if used in conjunction with CCTV (Smart CCTV) to cut down on crime?
  • I will be looking forward to the details of the free daycare programme to be released by the Minister of Culture and Social Rehabilitation in relation to the number of families government will give free daycare to and what ‘qualifies’ a family for free daycare. 
  • Similar to the Throne Speech I didn’t see any money budgeted for free public transportation…oh wait there is less than a sentence that mentions it will be a phased project at the bottom of page 2o, however no funds have been set aside for free transportation.
  • Social Insurance will be going up 6.75%
  • Looks like vehicle licencing will be going up again…
  • Airport Departure Tax will increase from $10 t $35 with the rationale that our departure tax is much lower than other Caribbean nations.
  • Duty on cigarettes is increasing for 15.5% to 18% and is considered to be a ‘health’ tax.  Interestingly, I saw no mention of any other money being budgeted for health initiatives.  
  • The Budget mentions an increase in luxury sailboats and motor boats and then states that the government proposes to increase the rate of duty from 35.5% to 55% purely as a revenge-raising measure.  I am unsure if this relates to the duty on boats or duty on everything…

At the beginning of the Budget there was an informing section on the importance of personal saving. It would be nice to see the government try to do a little saving – another deficit is forecasted for 2008/09. 

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Education time-line

February 12, 2008

Education Minister Randy Horton explained the time-line for restructuring his Ministry following the recommendations made in the Hopkins report.

June 2008 — pilot curriculum tests, with standard-setting to take place during the summer;

June 2009 — first administration of curriculum tests, with results made available to the public;

June 2010 — first determination of schools’ status and the rewards programme;

June 2011 — implementation of a “comprehensive accountability programme” with annual reporting to the public.

Judging by this time-line, we could end up failing another 3 years of young bright Bermudians before anyone is held accountable?!

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And now for something completely different…

February 10, 2008

I have read through the Throne Speech and have some thoughts I want to post, but I’ve been a bit busy at the moment.   

In the meantime, I found the following article on automatic writing an interesting read.