September 2007 Archives

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Photo courtesy of The Royal Gazette (Friday Sept. 21st 2007 edition).

1st Place - Bermuda Rasta: Bermuda's ongoing homage to the United States became badly derailed today by this questionable rendition of the U.S. flag. A PLP spokesman explained that the design was pursuant to the party's non-white policy.

2nd Place - eh: Brown invites the media to an open house.

3rd Place - Gombey House: Ewart called the new programme "Windows for Transparency in Governance".

Honourable Mentions:

Fast Eddy: The newly installed prophylactic was no match for the Twin Towers of Testicular Fortitude.

Blankman: To counter recent accusations that Bermuda is rapidly becoming a Banana Republic without the Bananas and without the Republic, Government arranges for an emergency shipment of Bananas to be kept under wraps until the time is right.

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Today, is the 4 year anniversary of Politics.bm.

I went back and re-read the first few months of posting when I started in September 2003, and guess what I was writing about?

Lack of accountability, conflicts of interest, term limits, racial antagonism to name a few. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to all those who participate by writing to me with their thoughts, tips and critiques. I've been fortunate to to come to know many, many people over the past few years who I otherwise wouldn't have.

This continues to be a fun and interesting experience.

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This week's caption competition could be bugged.

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Photo courtesy of The Royal Gazette (Friday Sept. 21st 2007 edition).

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The full draft racial quota law is online at the Gazette here.

I've also saved a copy over here, because their website is so terrible and unpredictable.

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A reader speculates on the so-called 'defection'.

I think they released that without his appoval - he was quietly paying the token membership to curry favor and they went "holy cow a white guy!". Anyway, they've effectively prevented many others from joining by doing so.

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A very important and succinct op-ed is in the RG today, written by a top executive here who puts the threat to our future prosperity that is Dr. Brown and his party's policies.

Money quote:

Despite the threat of changes to the American tax code, Bermuda’s insurance executives are more concerned with the threat to their companies posed by the prospective policies of Ewart Brown. Typically, “trial balloons” are floated by junior ministers or assistants to undersecretaries in a way that provides those at the top of the administration with plausible deniability. When the leader of a country (even one whose authority remains unconfirmed by an election), describes prospective policies, those policies are understood to reflect the intended course of the country, lacking only the needed details to become law. And these policies are deeply unsettling to those who operate in a constantly challenging global environment. While Bill Berkley lobbies Senate leaders for changes in tax law, Bermuda’s Premier describes the changes he plans to implement. Who can - with any confidence - say that Bermuda’s insurance leaders are worried about the wrong man? Who can say that external threats are more potent than those that are home-grown?

Not to mention the increasing funding of Dr. Brown's lifestyle that our businesses are apparently expected to support:

In a few short months, Dr. Brown (among other things) has proposed to prohibit some expatriate insurance executives from owning cars; “asked” that industry CEOs provide him and his ministers with free transport on corporate aircraft; “requested” major insurance companies to finance his pet music project; and, most recently, promised to attach a Bermudian to the work permit of every expatriate insurance executive. In short, Dr. Brown has threatened to increase, to a degree unrivalled by his predecessors, the costs and burdens of managing an insurance business from Bermuda. And, at the same time, the saga of the Bermuda Housing Corporation has been played out in Bermuda and in London, with Dr. Brown doing his best to obfuscate, delay and otherwise prevent the release of the details of his involvement.

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With the roll-out of "Goodwill Plus" we're seeing a page taken out of a very American political tactic of naming policies in ways that evoke strong emotive responses while actually achieving the opposite.

The New Onion touched on this a few days ago:

For the record - Goodwill Plus - is in the American style of naming something positive (Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, etc.) that is in fact a terrible idea.

Controlling the language - nicely Orwellian.

I would imagine that the Premier is using some American advisors and/or has read noted US Political consultant Frank Luntz, who specialises in testing words to help sell a product.

Luntz recently published a book entitled "Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear".

Salon.com interviewed Luntz in January of 2007 in a great article entitled "How to speak Republican".

So, for example:

- laws to relax air pollution standards in the US were called the Clear Skies Initiative.

- laws to expand logging were coined as the Healthy Forests Initiative.

- the estate tax was rebranded the Death Tax

- tax cuts were called tax relief

In our case here, we're seeing this as well under our American President impersonator.

The response to this is of course to counter the spin by not adopting the Orwellian terminology and using more appropriate terms.

Language is powerful, and most people are cursory observers of politics and news, and don't dig deep to see how shallow and sincere the politicking is and how counterproductive these 'policies' are.

So "Goodwill Plus" is more accurately called "Opportunities Lost", Government TV is "Propaganda TV" and "term limits" are "Losing competitiveness" for example off the top of my head.

Or of course we could call this what it really is, a pre-election campaign to push some buttons. None of this is intended to communicate anything; it's all geared around playing on people's fears, prejudices and insecurities.

Like most good lies, it's all built on a bit of truth, but twisted to further a narrow short term political (and financial) agenda.

We shouldn't forget that term limits were trotted out right before the last election, and then quietly shelved until recently when it was needed again to score a few cheap votes.

At some point however, the international businesses will tire of being used as whipping posts. Is it going to take someone to leave to prove the point?

Bermudian jobs are already being lost, with positions moved overseas at many companies, as a commenter at 21 Square has demonstrated.

And now, at the Monte Carlo Rendezvous (which is an informal gathering of top level (re)insurance execs from around the world), Bermuda and political corruption was a topic of discussion as an element of our declining appeal and viability as a home base.

The PLP under Dr. Brown are, to use an American term he may be familiar with, a clear and present danger to all Bermudians' aspirations for a prosperous future, both economically and socially.

Bermuda may be a small place, but it's bigger than Dr. Brown's personal ambition (although probably not his ego).

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A reader reaches back:

Speaking from memory, didn't the BMA turn around and print over his [Edgar Wilkinson's] signature on all the newly issued bills at the time? Effectively whiteout with a new signature printed on top of it.

That's the way I remember it. And if I recall, the Not the Um Um guys did a skit where they talked about the "Edgar Wilkinson scratch and sniff 5 dollar bill".

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Evidently there's a shortage of real news, which resulted in today's installment of silly headlines (and story):

Wilkinson defects to PLP

Lots of fun stuff in this very short 'story'.

Firstly, is it a defection if someone quit one party 17 years ago to join another 17 years later?

Secondly, the reason for joining is rather weak:

"I have always supported the Government in power."

Or, said another way, I go where the power and money is. Good riddance if that's the case.

Thirdly, if he "always supported the Government in power", how does that reconcile with leaving the UBP 17 years ago, while they were still in power?

Fourthly, isn't this the same guy who was disgraced after being caught illegally exporting Bermuda currency when head of the Bermuda Monetary Authority? If that's the quality of defection that gets front page listing on a party's website, I'd be re-examining my recruitment strategy.

Whatever. Now, on to real news, like the Premier not being bothered to comment on stories on the international press that his policies, actions and scandals are threatening our sole economic pillar.

Dennis Pitcher gets it right.

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I'm out of commission until Thursday and I'll unlikely post anything other than reader comments until then.

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Caption Competition winners:

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Photo courtesy of The Royal Gazette

1st Place - Bermuda Rasta: At the press conference, a reporter asks if Mincy's study will include ferry pilots.

2nd Place - Blankman: You say Tiger decided not to come because Johnny didn't want to play golf?

3rd Place - Bermuda Rasta: In a flash of horrible misjudgement, Ewart notices Wanda wearing his "qlq" t-shirt

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The PLP website is the gift that keeps on giving. So little substance, so much comedic material.

This week's gem under "Premier Rocks Washington. The first sentence reads (brace yourself):

Premier Ewart Brown is a foreign policy powerhouse.

Ok. Now stop laughing.

Note to PR guy: talking about Bermudian issues (including mayonnaise) in a foreign country doesn't make it foreign policy. It's the content not the geographic location that counts.

Unless of course they're taking the view that because Dr. Brown spends almost all of his time overseas that to him Bermuda is a foreign country, in which case it would then qualify as foreign policy?

Come to think of it, maybe they were right all along.

That website is so out there, even by partisan party website standards . It's so phony, so full of empty hyperbole, so desperate to overstate everything, that it reminds me of The Onion. It's a study in satire, but of the unintentional variety.

PS Bermuda doesn't do foreign policy, the UK does.

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This week's caption competition is startling:

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Photo courtesy of The Royal Gazette

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A reader writes:

Goodwill Plus is a joke. Ewart knows that there are simply not enough Bermudians with suitable education and aspirations to replace all the Svens that are needed to drive Bermuda's international sector. And sorry, three years of tutelage will not catch up a young Bermudian to someone with decades of experience in a particular field.

His policy actually hurts Bermuda as he's announced that expats have no longterm career path here - it makes it very hard to recruit, even for areas where there are few interested Bermudians, such as the Police. The reality is that the big international insurers seem to get all the Svens they want. On the rare and erratic occasion that Immigration turns down Sven's renewal - it is more likely that his employer will transfer him to their growing offices in Dublin or Zurich than continue to play "find the peanut" with the Bermuda Government.

The Police is a good example. Not long ago the Government was lamenting that it's increasingly hard to recruit overseas Police Officers.

Duh.

They're offered non-renewable 5 year contracts if I recall. All the while Bermudians are turning away from the Police as a career as well.

The Government is really firing on all cylinders aren't they?

It's that law of unintended consequences; these policies, term limits, Goodwill Plus etc. are failing because they're designed to achieve a political goal, not an economic or social one.

And we're seeing the results of this as the self-professed party of Bermudianization is presiding over a boom of foreign job creation while Bermudians stagnate.

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A reader writes on what the Premier is missing:

The Premier missed the point on this one in the sense that 'Johnny', if he has those credentials, will achieve his success over time but not in 3 years. The analogy would have been much better if Shaquille the apprentice electrician was working along with Vladimir from Poland who would show him what a day's work entailed, those are the people who need direction and training, much more than an educated student in the insurance industry. But of course Dr. Brown would have all young Bermudians believe that they deserve to be CEO of ACE.

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There's so much to deal with in Dr. Brown's speech yesterday, that's it's sort of hard to know where to start.

But how's about here:

Over the past decade, the number of highly skilled job opportunities in the international business sector - like actuaries - has grown exponentially. However, the quality of student we produce in Bermuda has not risen to meet the demand.

Firstly, as any actuary would point out to you, statistically speaking, in a population of 40,000 work age Bermudians, we'll only produce 5-10 actuaries. That's just the way it is. I know that isn't the politically pandering thing to say, but it's just true.

Bermuda doesn't possess some superior gene pool that means that we can create a disproportionate number of actuaries, or people capable and desiring of heading up multi-billion dollar public corporations with all the stress and expectations and sacrifices that that brings.

The false expectations that are being created are very damaging. It's one thing to tell people that they will be educated to be able to go out and get a decent job if they work hard at it, it's another to pretend that in 3 short years after graduating college that you can gain all the experience necessary to take over any position in our economy.

International business, reinsurance and finance is a clubby business that is built more on experience, credibility, relationships and drive than having the right college degree. That's important, but if you're in the industry you see that certain individuals can bring hundreds of millions of dollars of investment or revenue to a company based on their name, reputation and contacts. That what the big salaries, stock grants and perks are compensating for.

That can't be transferred from Sven to Johnny in 3 years. And that's not to mention that Sven won't come to train Johnny if he knows that he has a 3 year dead end job.

The argument that the Premier presented is so shallow and intellectually dishonest it's hard to describe.

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Story-time with Dr. Brown:

When international business comes to our Ministry of Immigration [Ed. Note: isn't it a Department?] looking for a work permit for Sven from Sweden, we will grant that permit but it will have conditions.

Attached to Sven's three year work permit will be young Johnny, a Bermudian who has just graduated from college with a degree in financial services and a hunger for success.

Of course Johnny doesn't have the kind of experience Sven does.

I understand.

But Goodwill Plus will compensate for Johnny's inexperience because in order to get the work permit the CEO has agreed to put a scheme in place that trains Johnny to take over Sven's job when the three-year term is up.

After three years, Sven goes back to Sweden and Johnny is on his way to a healthy career.

In this scenario the CEO is getting the highly skilled employee he wants, without compromising quality -- and the Government is getting its own people in position to enjoy hometown success.

Sounds great. But it isn't based in reality.

Regardless, we should expect the Premier to practice what he preaches in his growing private business interests (that's a topic to be discussed in more detail). Hence there is only one conclusion which can be drawn from this insightful fairytale:

Dr. Brown will prove out this concept by having a Johnny attached to every Boris at the stem cell clinic which's he's fronting...I mean operating...for the Russian businessmen, which in 3 short years will be 100% Bermudian operated.

Right?

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Killing off Bermuda Day has brought out the comedians in full force:

While we're renaming things should the PGA Grand Slam be renamed the Tiger Woods Memorial Cup?

and

Technically speaking shouldn't the first one be called National Heroine Day?

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A couple of weeks ago, Stuart Hayward wrote a good column in the Sun about the cynicism that is the PLP's racial strategy.

Judging by the tag team attempt to reframe his argument and redirect attention by Cal Smith and Dr. Hodgson, and now with Julian Hall joining in to complete the trifecta with his nasty little broadside, one can only conclude that Mr. Hayward is on a good wicket.

Mr. Hayward's response today to Cal Smith and Dr. Hodgson's articles is both accurate and effective, and will no doubt generate further attacks for a number of reasons:

1) The current PLP leadership cannot permit people to undermine their faux sincerity and 'credentials' on bridging the racial divide, as it's the foundation of their election campaign.

2) They have to protect their turf; they can't allow others to question their approach and weigh in on an issue they position themselves as the sole authorities on.

3) The truth hurts.

4) If there's one thing I've learned about the PLP sponsored letter writers it's that they must always have the last word.

Julian Hall's letter contains a couple of items of note (and a whole lot worth ignoring):

Firstly, I'll await patiently, those who attacked (and protested - although he's dead) me for the accurate and appropriate use of the term "media whore" to describe the Premier's take-all-the-credit, avoid-the-bad-news press strategy to condemn Mr. Hall for calling Mr. Hayward a "past-her-sell-by-date political hooker". "Media whore" is so much better; "political hooker" is just crass and not clever.

Secondly, the real howler is this early line:

I wonder sometimes whether excessive immersion in Bermuda's political scene, particularly on the part of those who venture into the arena of race relations, should now come with a health warning from the Chief Medical Officer [we have no Surgeon General]: "CAUTION : COULD CAUSE INSANITY".

I can only conclude that Mr. Hall lacks enough self-awareness to know that this paragraph is most applicable to himself and those he is defending, advising and enabling and the rest of Mr. Hall's comments would be considered in that vein.

I'd agree with Mr Hall's insanity statement, I'd just apply it to those who talk about nothing but race, and twist everything around to race, rather than those who talk about it as one issue...not The Issue.

The Premier and his race consultant have ventured into the arena of race relations far more than anyone else in Bermuda, in fact that's their signature issue. One would presume that they're so politically invested in this issue because they know they think that they can capitalise on it at the polls; they're racial venture capitalists.

Back in March I wrote a column for the Gazette about the cynicism of politicians who make their living on exploiting racial sensitivities while claiming to want to solve them, and Mr. Hayward has added his own perspective, which I'd sense is pretty much on the money judging by the response it has invoked.

Indeed, his critique generated such angst among those he mentioned that they're coordinating an attempt to discredit him as mentioned in his column today:

There are other possibilities - among them that as he may have been solicited to write his critique (as were others who declined), his heart wasn't in it. Of course it's not right for me to speculate, but I genuinely want my friend Cal to be a respected contributor to the public discourse. This was not his best effort.

And discredit him they will try, by dumbing down the debate to claim that when Mr. Hayward said (accurately) that the Premier's pick for race consultant is divisive, that what he said was that the PLP created racial division. Of course he didn't say that. But it's much easier to respond to something he didn't say than something he did.

Of course, the other tried and true tactic is to respond to an article about the present by talking only about events that occurred in the past; attacking someone for having the gall to assess things in the present by unrelated issues that occurred in the past.

But that's the intention: keep us outraged about the past so that we miss what's going on right in front of us.

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Well that didn't take long.

Two Facebook Groups (here and here) have popped up to in response to Higglytown Heroes Day...er, I mean National Heroes Day (people with young kids will get that reference).

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Some readers write in on losing a day that celebrates us all, not political figures;

Does Bermuda have anymore democratic process left? Would something like this not be up to the majority to decide? I appreciate that change is constant and change can be good, however, change such as this is effectively erasing the history/heritage of Bermuda and over-writing it with politics and political motivations. If the politicians want to introduce a public holiday to celebrate heroes, then do exactly that. Introduce another day.

The PLP's quest to erase/re-write history is worrying at best.

and

I guess they ran into a roadblock creating a new holiday?

Hey UBP, reclaim Bermuda Day for Bermudians!

and

Unlike you to hold your fire on their announcing that May 24 will now be known as National Heroes Day. Another St Kitts innovation!

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Cabinet announced that in addition to renaming Bermuda Day to National Heroes Day (sounds like a Disney movie) to honour individuals rather than the whole community, that they've renamed Bermuda to PLP.

Other name changes include:

The Queen's Birthday holiday to Oppressive Colonialist Day
Longbird Bride to ExpatBird Bridge
Tynes Bay Incinerator to Government Archives
Gosling's to Horton's Rum (cake) Factory
Paget to White Supremacyville
Dunkley's Dairy to Brown's Dairy.
John Barritt & Son Ltd. to Ewart Brown & Associates Unlimited
Bermuda Bookstore to Butler's Printing Press
The Bermuda College to PLP Induction Academy

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From those who brought us wikipedia, we now have wikileaks.org, a safe destination for whistleblowers:

Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact. Our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by all types of people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.

We believe that transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies. All governments can benefit from increased scrutiny by the world community, as well as their own people. We believe this scrutiny requires information. Historically that information has been costly - in terms of human life and human rights. But with technological advances - the internet, and cryptography - the risks of conveying important information can be lowered.

Seems to me like the Son of the Soil knows where to post part two, whenever he's ready.

Dr. Brown's wasting his time trying to button up the The Royal Gazette, the Mid Ocean News, and that jackass at Politics.bm with his libel claim (aka trojan horse for a temporary injunction against further publication - or even linking to leaked info).

It won't be me he has to worry about, that's for sure. The internet is a big place.

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Sad to see that someone defaced the 13th green at the Mid Ocean Club in advance of the PGA Grand Slam.

However, in today's RG story, they identify the letters singed into the green as "qlq" which would appear to mean very little.

It seems far more likely that the letters were the mirror image of that, instead reading "plp".

Why? I don't know. But the vandalism occurred on Wednesday night, which was the day that it was announced that Tiger Woods had opted out. So one would presume that "plp" is what it meant to read, not "qlq". An angry fan? An overzealous party supporter? A plain old idiot? Who knows.

I would point out that there was a caption in my weekend Caption Competition which read:


I'm really sorry about the 13.th, Tiger
sid v
Posted by sid v at September 15, 2007 08:28 AM

I didn't understand it at the time. I didn't recall it when someone mentioned to me on Sunday evening that the green might have been damaged.

Oh well. Let's hope they can minimize the damage.

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Caption Competition winners:

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1st Place - Darkside: Alas, this was the postcard that pushed Ewart over the edge

2nd Place - Smoking Gun: Dunkley tries his hand at milking a Tiger.

3rd Place - The Milkman (aka Dunkley) : The Milkman would deliver.........


Most likely to cause me some grief - Proteus: 'Chocolate Milk'

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One of the ferries in Dockyard smashed into the dock very hard around noon today.

Many people appear to have suffered injuries, including what I'm told are likely broken bones and cuts. The fire service and ambulances are taking the injured for treatment.

From what I was told by someone on the ferry, the boat struck the dock while docking and people were thrown out of their seats.

Not sure what the cause was, but the person I spoke with said that they heard that the ferries engines didn't shift into reverse to slow down at docking.

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I need a laugh, in fact that's all I've been after all week since restarting posting, and I'm sure this week's caption competition will assist:

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Photo courtesty of The Mid Ocean News

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A reader calls it correctly, about Tiger Woods withdrawal from the PGA Grand Slam:

I guess this is one RG article the PLP site might overlook linking to.

Indeed. 24 hours and counting.

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Tonight's clip on ZBM News (I'll post it to YouTube is I can find my video camera's plug) of UBP Leader Michael Dunkley having a grip n grin yesterday at a PGA event in Atlanta with none other than Tiger Woods (and Jim Furyk and Padraig Harrington by the way) is surely classified as cruel and unusual punishment.

We all know that the Premier threw millions of taxpayer dollars to get that photo-op himself (and a round of golf), and on the day that it's announced Tiger has declined to attend, Michael gets the money shot.

Damn, that's cold.

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There's a new blog out by Mike Hind (aka Uncle Elvis) called The Devil Island.

It looks so good that it reminds me that I don't have an artistic bone in my body.

Enjoy.

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The Gazette runs with the headline this morning of "Tiger Pulls Out".

The way I see it, the reason he can't participate this year is because he didn't pull out.

Baddam bum.

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And the PGA has the formal announcement:

Jim Furyk will take part in the 2007 Grand Slam of Golf at the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda. Furyk will take the spot of PGA Champion Tiger Woods, who withdrew citing the need to spend time with is family. Furyk has competed in two PGA Grand Slams of Golf before, winning in 2003 and finishing as runner up in 2006.

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Fran Tucker, one of the local organisers of the PGA Grand Slam sent out an email today at 4PM (which rapidly made its way to me) that Tiger Woods has declined to participate in this years grand slam.

Hi everyone,

We've just received the Official word from the PGA that Tiger is unable to join us for our Grand Slam. Apparently, it's been a very tough year for him with his new personal commitments.

So, Jim Furyk is lined up to come, and we are confident this will be a great event, for Bermuda and for all of us. I'm sure you were all holding out hope that Tiger would come (I sure was!), but once we get over the shock, we will move on and continue with all the plans.

Take care, and I'm sure I'll be in touch soon.

Fran Tucker
Corporate Sales & Hospitality Chair
PGA Grand Slam
294-7926

I swear that I heard ZBM reporting last night that he was coming.

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Congratulations to the Royal Gazette's Matthew Taylor, on his career change, as noted in the byline in today's story (on yet another un-tendered contract):

Correia contract 'stinks' — UBP"

by Matthew Taylor – Chef Reporter

The contract might stink, but Chef Matthew says it just needs a little seasoning, then it'll taste like chicken.

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Thank you, to the many, many of you who sent messages of condolences regarding my nephew. The number of emails was surprising and appreciated.

I will be restarting activity here over the next day.

Thank you again.

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I'm taking some time off from the blog.

On Sunday night my nephew Jacob in Canada passed away after a lifelong battle with leukemia.

He endured more in his 16 months than anyone should ever have to endure in a lifetime, and he did it with a smile on his face.

He will be missed but never forgotten.

Jacob_sm.jpg

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The Gazette today published further comments from Michael Dunkley on the Tillman Darrell incident.

The thing that they neglected to say is that he was asking them to publish his comments in full from the original interview. I thought that he could have said more. Evidently he did.

Here was his request to the Gazette, which he sent to me:

While my comments in the paper in connection with this story are correct they are not complete as a very important part of my conversation with the reporter was omitted from the newspaper coverage. At the start of our conversation I made it very clear that I do not support the use of violence as a way to resolve a conflict between individuals. This was conveyed to Mr. Darrell during our discussion of this matter. While it is at times easy to justify an act of violence based on trying circumstances we must do all we can as a community to lower the incidence of violence. I hope we can live and learn from each incident and make some real progress. Thank you for the clarification.

Damn pro-UBP Royal Gazette.

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A reader reports in:

Christian, Big Pow this morning at Camden house. Just about every GP car arrived there by about 10am. Maybe this could be the buildup to calling an election during the labour day speeches.

Could be.

After the Premier had to abort the obviously planned summer election due to his spiking unpopularity amid the leaked police investigation, many people speculate that the next window is late October (25th), around the time the Music Festival and PGA Grand Slam will be held; two events which the Premier presumes will translate into a little goodwill for him.

Just as importantly it's a a few days before the Privy Council is scheduled to hear the attempted gag order on October 29th; a decision which is almost certainly going to uphold the Chief Justice and the Court of Appeal's rulings in favour of the public interest and right to know.

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