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Government ‘jumped the gun’ over Rubis leak risks

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Nassau, 01 Aug 2015 – The government displayed poor judgment and risked giving false hope to Marathon residents by releasing incomplete findings on the health risks associated with the Rubis fuel spill on Robinson Road, Vanessa Haley-Benjamin said.

Lending her support to last week’s protest by Marathon residents outside the station, Haley-Benjamin, CEO of fast-growing social and environmental movement Save The Bays (STB), said authorities were wrong to tell residents they have nothing to fear from the toxic chemicals to which they were exposed for upwards of two years, as medical tests are far from complete – and likely to be less than conclusive when they are.

“The release of these premature results is unfortunate,” she said. “The government clearly jumped the gun. In reality, there is no satisfactory way in the short term to verify conclusively whether a person has been exposed to low levels of certain chemicals, for example benzene.”

Haley-Benjamin noted that according to Dr. van de Weerdt, toxicologist and consultant with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), while the preliminary results may be encouraging, it remains important to establish a complete picture of the situation – both in terms of completing the health risk assessments and being in a position to reassure concerned citizens.

“The government should not be in the business of communicating simplified versions of this very serious situation to the public,” she said.

“With regard to the 223 persons tested, more information is required to understand the extent of the evaluations and if those tested are representative of both the original and possibly any newly impacted areas. To date, we know that 17,000 gallons of fuel have yet to be recovered from the ground. Over time, the impacted area will grow as the benzene spreads with the natural flow of groundwater.

“Residents of this area are very concerned for their safety – and rightfully so considering the known link between aggressive cancer and benzene exposure; and in light of the more than 20 recent cancer-related deaths in the area,” said Haley-Benjamin. “Exposure to low levels of benzene can result in chronic health effects and take a longer period of time to manifest. This underscores the need for long-term medical surveillance by a medical practitioner to detect abnormalities during early onset.”

Haley-Benjamin called for a full report of the investigation by the Department of Environmental Health (DEHS) and PAHO to be compiled and released to the public, and said officials should refrain from making any sweeping statements until such time.

She went on to stress STB’s full support for Justice for Marathon, the grassroots community group that organized last week’s protest, citing the lack of proper response to the leak by both government and Rubis, and the ongoing failure to fully address the concerns of residents.

Haley-Benjamin said STB’s call for stronger environmental legislation is also an effort to protect human health by either through prevention of hazardous pollution, or mitigation of the effects if such situations do arise. To that end, she called for the implementation of an effective response and public warning system for hydrocarbon leaks, and a comprehensive monitoring program for all fuel stations, in line with the recommendations in the report by consultants Black & Veatch, who were contracted by the government to evaluate the response to the Marathon spill more than a year ago.

Save The Bays CEO Vanessa Haley-Benjamin participates in last week’s protest, pointing out 20 recent cancer-related deaths in the area of the fuel leak.

In January 2013, it came to the attention of Rubis and the government that the Robinson Road station had leaked around 24,000 gallons of gasoline into the ground.

The resultant presence of strong hydrocarbon vapors and discovery of large pools of underground gasoline forced the station’s immediate neighbor, Cable Bahamas to evacuate its Customer Service Building (CSB) amid fears of health and safety issues for customers and staff. Eventually, more than 40 staff members had to be treated for exposure.
It has been confirmed that the leak led to the contamination of a wide area of groundwater, including the water supply to several homes and residents have reported a range of health problems.

For two years, Rubis and government officials were aware of the leak and the associated dangers, but failed to make any public announcements, sparking widespread outrage.

Since then, two further possible leaks at Rubis stations in New Providence have come to light. In the wake of the fallout from the Marathon case, both Rubis and the government appeared to take swift action. However yet again, they only broke their silence in response to concerns raised by members of the public.

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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Why Jonquel & WNBA Ladies get LESS PAY than Klay & NBA Guys; its forcing ladies into risks abroad

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, June 25, 2022 – Being a player in the NBA is probably one of the most lucrative jobs that one can imagine.  Though better players get better salaries those salaries range between 900 thousand dollars for the lowest-paid players to up to 45 million for the highest-paid players but it is the NBA that ultimately decides how high salaries can go.

The total amount of money any team can spend on their players’ combined salaries is set by the NBA.  The teams then decide what to pay their lowest and highest-ranked players.  For the 22-23 season the cap is $122 million.

For example in the 2021-2022 Champions the Golden State Warrior’s lowest salary will go to Shaun Livingston, a guaranteed $1,333,332.  Their highest salary will go to Stephen Curry, a guaranteed $45,780,966.  This is in addition to sponsorship deals that can rake in millions of dollars for in-demand players.

In the WNBA 2021-2022 season, Brittney Griner earned a base maximum salary (without sponsorships) of $221,450.  That is the highest salary in the WNBA.  One of the best players in the league, Griner is paid four times lower than an NBA rookie.

This is true for women across the board, including the Bahamas’ Jonquel Jones.  Jones is one of the highest-paid players in the WNBA and is regarded as one of the most prolific.  Her salary is 208,000 per year.

Recently Griner was arrested in Russia for a small quantity of marijuana; she was there because she outsourced herself to the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg to have a chance at earning more money.

Grand Bahama’s Jonquel plays for the same team and says she can’t turn her back on the international leagues because the salary is just not comparable.  Two months ago she expressed the stress of traveling through Russia on Twitter.

“Just landed in Turkey and all I want to do is cry.  That situation was way more stressful than I realized.  Thank you God for always watching over and protecting me.”

Despite playing in China and Korea she said she never felt unsafe until the war describing it as “unprecedented.”

Despite the stress and danger, she told ESPN she was just going to have to deal with it.

“While the [WNBA] is making the right and necessary strides to pay us more and ensure that if we don’t want to go overseas, we don’t have to, I just feel like in my situation, the money is not comparable. I have to think about the financial status of my family and everybody else, and also the opportunities that I’m leaving if I don’t go.”

Remembering Griner Jones said “I’ve been looking at these pictures that I have on my phone, the last set of pictures I took with her we were going to Valencia or wherever. We were all just joking and laughing around and stuff, and it’s just crazy how fast things can change.” While she has hope things will change she says it probably won’t be in her playing years. For context, Jones and Curry are both power forwards.

In 63 appearances in 2020-21. Stephen Curry averaged 32.0 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds.  In 17 appearances in the same year, Jones has averaged 15.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists.  The men’s league plays over 1000 matches per year.  The women play under 300 WNBA and NBA players are comparable in talent so why is the pay so low?

Viewership plays a major role. More people watch the men’s games than women’s games, millions more which means a lot more money for the NBA. But this is not the only reason.

“The president of the WNBA thinks that one of the reasons men are paid more than women is that 50 percent of the NBA’s revenue is shared between the league and the players; however, there is about an 80-20 split for the WNBA. This means that the players only receive about 20% of the WNBA’s total revenue” says one academic paper done on the wage disparities in 2020. The study also referenced the 1,230 games men play each season compared to the women’s 204.

The WNBA has quality players with star value just like the NBA. The issue of lower revenues can be solved in great part, by better publicity, more games on the roster and lower age ranges for players.

Drumming up excitement, seeking out sponsorship deals, greater publicity, and all-star face-offs between the NBA and WNBA are all genuine possibilities that could prove instrumental indrawing tv viewership and courtside attention.

Until then stars like Griner and Jones will continue to relentlessly outsource themselves and play all year round for a piece of the pie their male counterparts take home in a single season.

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TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS POST CABINET MEETING STATEMENT

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#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – Her Excellency the Acting Governor, Anya Williams, chaired the 19th meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday 22 June 2022 in Grand Turk. All other members were present.

At this meeting Cabinet:

  • Approved the terms and conditions for an application from a land surveyor for a licence.
  • Approved the making of the Revised Edition of the Laws 2021 (Commencement Order) 2022 subject to the approval of the House of Assembly; laws will be now be made available free of charge to members of the public on the Attorney General’s website. Physical reproductions will continue to be sold.
  • Discussed proposed amendments to the Insurance Ordinance as drafting instructions to the Attorney General’s Chambers and consultation with the industry.
  • Approved for the Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2022 to be introduced to the House of Assembly as soon as possible.
  • Approved the revision of the Anti-Money Laundering Committee Budget for the Financial Year 2022/2023 for office furniture and supplies; confirmed annual payments for the annual membership costs to the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Agencies (FIA) and annual costs of the FIA’s travel costs for the Egmont annual meeting.
  • Approved a three year rental lease agreement for the relocation of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Culture and Heritage, Agriculture, religious Affairs and Gaming, and the Tourist Board and Department of Culture in Providenciales.
  • Approved a lease agreement for a temporary HQ for the Turks & Caicos Islands Regiment in Providenciales.
  • Was updated on the proposed merger of NIB/NHIP Compliance and Collections. Further consideration was requested before Cabinet can take a decision.
  • Noted the award of the following contracts in line with the provisions of the Public Procurement Ordinance:
  1. PN 005600, TR 21/48, Furniture and equipment for Mental Health Facility – Grand Turk
  2. PN 005611, TR 21/30, Ballistic Vests for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force

III. PN 005614, TR 21/37, Bellefield Landing Civilian Safety Project – Safe Boat Slips

  1. PN 005627, TR 21/53, Furniture and Equipment for Public Works Programme Management
  2. PN 005630, TR 21/08, Vehicles for Government (resubmission)
  • Approved for a request from American Airlines to waive the import customs duties and customs processing fees for replacement parts for an aircraft that had an emergency landing on Providenciales to be forwarded to the House of Assembly for consideration and approval.
  • Noted a paper from the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) for legislative amendments to be made to the TCIAA Ordinance to regulate industrial action by employees of the TCIAA. Cabinet requested further consideration. Proposed amendments will be considered by the House of Assembly for approval in due course.
  • Approved the grant of a long lease to an applicant for a funeral home and cemetery on 60003/231 PT (2.5 ACRES)

 

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Turks & Caicos Islands Government retains it BBB+ credit rating

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#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – On the 29th of March 2022, Standard and Poor’s Global (S&P) released the results of the review of the 2021 sovereign credit rating for the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). S&P has affirmed the country’s sovereign credit rating for long-term bonds, denominated in both domestic and foreign currency, of BBB+. Additionally, the agency also maintained the outlook as Stable for the TCI.

The Rating Agency advised that the stable outlook takes into account that the country’s economy will continue to recover given the strong performance of tourism and will improve in 2022. Furthermore, S&P believes the TCI will continue to adhere to prudent financial management and limit borrowing, and that fiscal reserve balances will increase during the next two years. Additionally, the rating agency also expects continuity in TCI’s institutional relationship with the U.K.

In its report, the rating agency advised that the rationale for the rating was a result of the Country’s institutional and economic profile. That is, the economic recovery led by resurgence in tourism and continued institutional stability. S&P indicated that despite the short-term pressures of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the TCI Government’s prudent actions, aided by the U.K.’s swift transfer of vaccines, allowed international travel to resume as early as the first quarter of 2021. The combination of the Government’s swift response, coupled with pent-up demand in key source markets, led to a strong recovery in tourism, which in turn, has led to a better-than anticipated economic recovery. S&P estimates GDP per capita to be $23,674 in 2021, up from $20,757 in 2020 – a 14% year over year increase. Tourism remains the core pillar of the economy, indirectly accounting for about 65% of GDP.

S&P indicated that the ratings could be revised upwards if better-than-expected GDP increases and continued favorable growth prospects were to substantially boost economic resilience. Additionally, the rating agency also stated that they could also raise the ratings if better availability of timely data, especially on external flows and stocks, were to boost transparency and indicated that TCI enjoyed a significantly stronger economic or external position.

However, if the rebound in tourism is interrupted or turns out to be weaker than expected, leading to prolonged stress on revenues, this may cause the TCI Government to run persistent fiscal deficits that could materially worsen public finances. This could lead to a down grading of the rating.

Commenting on the rating, Minister of Finance, Investment & Trade, Hon. E. Jay Saunders, stated that “I am happy and extremely proud that S&P saw fit to maintain our country’s credit rating at BBB+, particularly at a time when many countries had theirs downgraded – mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a testament to the strength of our economy, and particularly, our government’s prudent handling of it. We have taken particular note of S&P’s comment that they could raise the ratings on better availability of timely data, and we are working towards achieving that.”

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