Archive for February 23rd, 2009

Native snake snacks on alien iguana

| 23/02/2009 | 10 Comments

(CNS): It wasn’t quite what golfers were expecting to see on the 5th hole of the Brittania golf course, but last Saturday James Robinson and two friends came across this 6½-foot snake, an indigenous Alsophis cantherigerus caymanus, sometimes called the "Cayman Racer", swallowing an 18-inch Common Iguana, often referred to as a "Green Iguana", which is an invasive alien species. Robinson said they were just walking onto the green when they saw the snake. (Photo by James Robinson)

“At first my mates didn’t believe me. We watched it for maybe 5 minutes and then finished the hole and then came back again. To start it just had the head, and then when we left it had got past the iguana’s legs. Then the snake dragged it off into the bushes,” he told CNS.

According to local naturalist Fred Burton, who identified the snake from Robinson’s photograph, the Cayman Racer is a rear-fanged snake, capable of envenomating a young iguana (though incapable of doing so to a human), so the iguana was probably comatose by the time the photo was taken.

Burton said the biggest specimen of this species that he has seen was about 6-foot long, but if they made the Common Iguanas a big part of their diet, they might grow even bigger. It takes the snakes about five days to digest a big frog to the point they want another meal, so this particular diner was probably set for a while.
 

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Archbishop of Canterbury to attend Anglican meeting

| 23/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(Jamaica Observer): Dr Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, will visit Jamaica next month to attend a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). The archbishop is the president of the ACC, one of the three instruments of communion which serves the worldwide family of Anglican/Episcopal Churches. Anglicans are said to be looking forward to the May 2 to 14 Kingston meeting, which will see some 150 delegates representing 164 nations in attendance. The Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands said plans for the meeting are well advanced. Go to article

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Catron says proposed sex offenders list misses point

| 23/02/2009 | 5 Comments

(CNS): In the wake of the government’s announcement that it will be establishing a closed paedophile register, political candidate for Bodden Town and long time advocate for an open list Sandra Catron has described Minister for Health Anthony Eden’s proposed register as a disappointment because it does not change anything. “It only codifies what is currently occurring and in my viewpoint this is a complete waste of time,” she said.

She explained that, as this register is intended merely for the use of agencies and departments involved, ones that already have access to information, such as the police and the Department of Children and Family Services, “It simply does not make any sense.” Catron said that the goal of the campaign which she started has been missed. “The register has to be very clear. The aim and objective is to warn people of offenders who have committed an illegal act of rape or sexual assault.”

Last week Eden told the Legislative Assembly that the Sex Offender Registry Bill (2009) had been put out for a 60–day public consultation and would be the country’s first list tracking those convicted of sex crimes including rape, indecent assault, defilement, and incest. Convicted sex offenders would be required to register their names, home addresses, workplace, and details of property which they own. The wider public, however, will not have access to the list, which also proposes registering people convicted of  what were described as “unnatural offences” as defined under the Penal Code such as sodomy.

The proposals states that sex offenders assigned to the registry would have their photographs and fingerprints taken, and may be asked to provide a DNA sample — details one would assume the police would already have if the offender has been convicted. Moreover, the proposal does not state which government entity would be responsible for managing the register.

Catron said that a realistic debate was required to look at this issue properly. “We have put the cart before the horse in what seems to be an election response. Careful consideration should be given to how this is going to be organized and maintained. I believe that the most equipped persons to manage such a database would be someone in the judicial department. Clear policies for how persons are added and possibly removed are also important,” she said.

Catron said there were a number of ways that an effective register could work including ranking the seriousness of the offence so that some people are never removed given the type of offense that they have engaged in.  Believing that sex offenders are rarely rehabilitated, Catron stated that Cayman need to have experts on hand to speak about this. She said there was a need to follow the ongoing research and debates concerning how long offenders should be registered.

“Certainly any abuser of children should remain on the site indefinitely,” she added. “My petition attempted a more holistic approach. The registry was only one component. International cooperation, stiffer penalties, prevention and education were also in the petition. This law does not address any of those issues in a comprehensive manner. “

Catron noted that a holistic approach is what would be more beneficial. “Offenders should be prevented from applying for jobs that put them in direct contact with children – for example, schools, school buses, coaches etc,” she said.

With myriad issues to deal with regarding child sex offenders, another issue which could not be ignored was the problem of juvenile on juvenile abuse and serious education strategies are needed to tackle that problem, Catron noted. “Our preventative talks normally tell children that adults should not be inappropriate with them but does not speak about other children their age or older.”

Facing criticisms that an offenders registers can drive paedophiles underground, Catron argued that at present these people are in our community without any kind of monitoring. She said a public register was a powerful tool that allowed for people to be known who have committed the most heinous of acts.

“It would protect everyone in Cayman, especially our more transient population. We also need to have access to other registers overseas linked with ours so that we know if someone has entered our jurisdiction and committed this offense elsewhere. There are many creative arguments for not having this database, however, every time Ihave a victim come forward and express how their lives have been impacted by this type of abuse I find the resolve to continue to fight for the voiceless,” Catron said.

The petition asking for a public register has been signed by almost 1000 people — a significant amount for Cayman. “For government to respond in such a non-sincere manner isheart wrenching for me and it demonstrates that the powers that be really do not have a true commitment to protecting our children,” she added.

The petition is available at www.caymansexoffenders.org

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Miller backs lottery as potential revenue source

| 23/02/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): While many of the independent candidates are talking about the need for a new kind of political leadership as they declare their intentions to run, Ezzard Miller is one of the first to talk about specific revenue raising measures — a fundamental part of being in government.  Speaking to CNS, Miller, who will be running in North Side said that a legal national lottery could raise a significant amount of money for the country’s coffers.

“The government needs to look at the lottery issue seriously,” Miller said. “The laws must represent what is happening in the community and we have a significant number of people currently involved in gambling. It would be better to tap into that revenue and utilise it for important things like educating Caymanians to play a more significant role in our financial services.”

Known for his outspoken opposition to the number of work permit holders currently in Cayman, Miller said any loss of revenue to the Treasury if work permits were reduced could be replaced through an increase in some permit fees, but the veteran politician, who served two terms in the legislator between 1984 and ’92, said that current excessive increase in permits and not helped to boost the country’s GDP.

“The country’s GDP has gone from 5% in 2001 to 0.9% in 2007/08,” he said. “The increase of work permits by some 25% has seen the GDP falling. There is something wrong with that,” he added. 

He said that, in the past, the size of the financial pie in Cayman was enough to absorb all Caymanians who wanted to play a part in the economy, but now even though we had an historic high when it came to work permit holders, more and more Caymanians were being left out of the picture. He said there was a need to manipulate the scholarship system and the work permit system to match things up so that each year the private sector and government sponsored a sufficient number of local students to match the projected positions that needed to be filled.

Miller also cited the need for a ‘Job Tsar’, as he said the policy of having the immigration department manage the country’s labour force needs was not working. “A Job-Tsar would supervise the allocation of permits and the number of available vacancies. The Tsar could watch out for the interests of Caymanians and manage the process of placing them in jobs,” he added, noting that Cayman based firms had to offer more entry level positions to young Caymanians.

He said that Cayman was in desperate need of its own financial institution where Caymanians could qualify for accountancy positions and which would also introduce a professional Cayman Accountancy qualification. “We need a Cayman CPA and anyone wanting to come here must pass Cayman’s accountancy exams before the practice in the jurisdiction,” he said, arguing that Caymanian accountants and other professionals don’t necessarily need international experience to work in our own offshore industry. He said if that was required the firms should take on the responsibility of sending our people overseas to gain that necessary experience.

Talking about his own motives for running as an independent candidate, he said he wanted to offer the people of North Side better representation as they had been ignored during the last administration by the incumbent Edna Moyle, who is the Speaker of the House.

He said he did not see himself in a ministerial role but wanted to offer constructive criticism from the back bench to keep government honest. “I am running on my track record. I did a lot when I was in the house in the past for my community and I know how to bring private members bills and how to get the people’s voice heard in the Legislative Assembly,” he said.

He explained that, although he had retired from politics to do other things in his life, he had been fortunate enough to achieve those goals and, given what was happening in Cayman now, he felt the time was right for him to return. Miller noted that of the two existing political parties, if necessary he was prepared to support the United Democratic Party to form of a government but was not interested in running on the ticket of any specific party and would seek to maintain his independence.

Miller’s fist public meeting will take place on 10 March at the North Side Civic Centre at 8pm. 

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100-foot snake could be lurking in river in Borneo

| 23/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(Telegraph): An aerial photograph that appears to show a gigantic snake swimming along the remotewaterway has emerged, sparking great concern among local communities. But it is not clear whether the photograph is genuine, or a clever piece of photo-editing. The most common theory is that the photo has been manipulated on a computer. However, on the banks of the river, villagers are convinced of the massive serpent’s existence and have even given it a name, Nabau, after an ancient sea serpent which can transform itself into the shapes of different animals. Go to article

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‘Green Comet’ Fast Approaching Earth

| 23/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(ScienceDaily): Space scientists from the University of Leicester are keeping a close eye on a ‘green comet’ fast approaching the Earth – reaching its nearest point to us on February 24. Comet Lulin will streak by the earth within 38 million miles – 160 times farther than the moon -and is expected to be visible to the naked eye. Discovered only a year ago, the comet gains its green colour from poisonous cyanogen and diatomic carbon gases in its atmosphere. Go to article

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EU Leaders agree to financial reform

| 23/02/2009 | 2 Comments

(Washington Post): European leaders on Sunday pledged to establish global oversight of hedge funds, crack down on tax havens and beef up other rules as part of a reformation of the international monetary system. Leaders from 8 European countries, meeting in Berlin, said they had agreed on broad principles for bolstering the regulation of global finance in advance of a summit of the world’s leading powers April 2 in London. "A clear message and concrete action are necessary to engender new confidence in the markets and to put the world back on a path toward more growth and employment," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who hosted the meeting. Go to article

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UK to halve foreign workforce

| 23/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(Times Online): Tens of thousands of skilled immigrants from outside the EU are to be barred from entering the country to tackle public concern that British workers are losing out to foreigners in the recession. Rules governing the entry of highly skilled immigrants are to be tightened and an official advisory committee has been asked to consider whether curbs should be placed on the number of other skilled workers allowed in. Ministers will also make it easier to deport EU citizens convicted of violent, sexual and drugs offences. Go to article

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