Archive for February, 2009

Prehumans walked like us

| 27/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): Footprints uncovered in Kenya show that as early as 1.5 million years ago an ancestral species, almost certainly Homo erectus, had already evolved the feet and walking gait of modern humans. An international team of scientists, in a report on Friday in the journal Science, said the well-defined prints in an eroding bluff east of Lake Turkana “provided the oldest evidence of an essentially modern humanlike foot anatomy.” They said the find also added to evidence that painted a picture of Homo erectus as the prehumans who took long evolutionary strides — figuratively and, now it seems, also literally.

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Robber uses Spiderman cover

| 26/02/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): A store on Walkers Road was robbed Thursday afternoon, 26 February, by two men carrying what looked like a knife and a sword and wearing costume masks. The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call from a staff member of ‘Shop Right’ at around 1:30 pm reporting that two masked men had robbed the store. Police responded to the scene and learnt that two men had entered the store with the weapons and demanded cash from the clerk, who was working alone in the shop, and after receiving an undisclosed sum of money they left the store on foot.

The men were wearing jeans and dark coloured tops and had masks over their faces. One of the masks is described as a Halloween type of mask, the other was a Spiderman mask. No-one was injured in the incident. Police carried out an area search but unfortunately the offenders were not located.

Anyone who was in the area at the time of the robbery who may have seen something important is asked to contact Detective Constable Dave Morrison on 516-1045 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.
 

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Psychedelic bouncing fish of Indonesia

| 26/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(ScienceDaily): "Psychedelica" seems the perfect name for a species of fish that is a wild swirl of tan and peach zebra stripes and behaves in ways contrary to its brethren. So says University of Washington’s Ted Pietsch, who is the first to describe the new species in the scientific literature and thus the one to select the name. Psychedelica is perhaps even more apt given the cockamamie way the fish swim, some with so little control they look intoxicated and should be cited for DUI. Members of Histiophryne psychedelica, or H. psychedelica, don’t so much swim as hop.

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More protection for Blues

| 26/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The captive breeding and head-starting facility for the Grand Cayman Blue Iguanas, located in the QE II Botanic Park, is no longer viewable from the Park’s woodland trail.This is an unfortunate consequence of heightened security at the facility, following the killing of seven captive Blue Iguanas in May 2008 – in a case which has still not been solved. That grim event, followed by increasing incidences of wild dogs invading the QE II Botanic Park, has required security fencing as the only long-term solution.

According to a release from the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme (BIRP), a security guard has been protecting the facility since last May. The flood of heartfelt donations and assistance which came to BIRP and the National Trust in the wake of the attack have been focussed both on covering the substantial security guard cost, and on building the high-security fence now in operation.

The four breeding pens which were formerly visible from the woodland trail are of necessity within the secured area, and so can’t be viewed from outside. Guided tours inside the facility are still available, however. The Blue Iguana Safari tour, which covers inside the captive facility and also the free roaming iguanas throughout the Park, is offered at 11am every day except Sundays, with tickets available on arrival at the Botanic Park ticket booth.

“Seeing the captive facility behind a high security fence leaves me with very mixed feelings” says programme director Fred Burton. “Obviously in view of what happened last year, this is absolutely necessary, but it is very sad that we need to spend so much on physical protection for such a well-loved symbol of Cayman’s natural heritage.”

Behind the big fence, the iguanas in the captive facility continue to thrive. So long as more protected habitat becomes available, the programme is on course to continue full scale restoration of Blue Iguanas to the wild.
 

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CNB assists Rotary with Paloma clean-up on the Brac

| 26/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): After collecting more than $120,000 in Paloma Recovery donations from an international assortment of benefactors, Grand Cayman Rotarians are now being called upon to roll up their sleeves and prepare to spend 7 March rebuilding the lives of Sister Islands residents. Cayman National is supporting that effort by sponsoring the cost of refreshments and t-shirts for the volunteers on that day. A release from Rotary says that more than 100 applications for assistance have flooded the Brac Rotary Club after the public was notified in January about their post-Paloma recovery efforts. (Left: CNB’s Claudia Welds and Rotary Sunrise President Woody Foster)

The massive clean-up and demolition event is being coordinated by the Rotary Club of Cayman Brac. Approximately 50 Rotarians from Grand Cayman will pay their way to the hard-hit Sister Islands and tackle a variety of tasks requested by the residents themselves.

To ensure that every penny donated to Rotary’s hurricane fund is spent on the needs of Brac residents, Cayman National has generously agreed to provide a special edition “Paloma Recovery TaskForce” t-shirt and a mid-day meal for each Grand Cayman volunteer taking part in the Brac effort on March 7th. As Mrs. Claudia Welds, Cayman National’s spokesperson, notes, “Once again, Cayman National is proud to support these efforts which will assist in the recovery process in the Brac, enabling residents to resume a better quality of life.”

Brac Rotary President, Alphanso Gayle, has issued the following challenge. “I urge all of my fellow Grand Cayman Rotarians to fly to the Brac on March 7th and embody our 2009 theme of ‘Making Dreams Real’ by living out our motto of ‘Service Above Self’. We are certainly grateful for the international outpouring of cash donations to the Brac relief effort, despite the world’s current economic climate. However, March 7th will be a day devoted to physical service that is badly needed within our community.”

Hurricane Disaster Committee Chair Andrea Stevens continues to encourage residents of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman to utilize the help being offered. “Rotarians from across the country will be willing and ready to help. But first, the residents have to let us know their needs by submitting an application.”

Residents can obtain an assistance application form at any post office in the Islands or from any Cayman Brac Rotarian. Recovery assistance will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with priority given to those most in need.

Many of the cash contributions donated to Rotary’s hurricane recovery efforts have been triggered by the post-Paloma updates offered online at caymanrotary.wordpress.com. Visitors to that site can learn more about Rotary’s efforts in the wake of this disaster and read comments from people around the world offering support and encouragement to the residents who are still struggling to rebuild their lives.
 

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Obesity carries same risk as smoking in teens

| 26/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Independent): Overweight teenagers run the same risk of an early death as people who smoke regularly – and the risk increases substantially with very fat adolescents. Teenagers who are clinically obese have the same risk of premature death as someone who smokes more than 10 cigarettes a day. An investigation of 45,000 men whose health was monitored for 38 years has found that being overweight at the age of 18 is equivalent to being a regular smoker in terms of the overall risk of dying relatively early in life from preventable diseases.

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Lipstick revolution in Iran

| 26/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Independent): Zohreh Vatankhah slides into the driving seat of her BMW X3, flicks a switch to some pulsating Persian pop and we’re soon zipping along the narrow lanes near her home in northern Tehran, almost in the foothills of the snow-capped Alborz mountains. Most Iranians behave in traffic as if they are in charge of dodgems, not potentially lethal vehicles: the traffic is heart-stoppingly dangerous, but with this woman I can relax. A professional racing driver, she’s used to competing, and winning, at speeds of up to 180mph. She’s glamorous, too, wearing high-heeled boots over her jeans (a controversial look in the eyes of the Iranian morality police) and a Rolex on her wrist.

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Jamaica’s airline quits Cayman route

| 26/02/2009 | 1 Comment

(Radio Jamaica): Air Jamaica will cease operating some of its traditional routes today as part of the airline’s new business plan which was made public last month. The Jamaican carrier will no longer serve Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami or the Cayman Islands routes as part of plans to make it profitable by 2010. According to Bruce Bowen, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Jamaica, the changes are well underway. "The new schedule goes into effect (26 February) and that schedule was loaded weeks and weeks ago so most passengers have (already) been re-accommodated," he said.

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Regional regualtions needed

| 26/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): The Governor of the Barbados Central Bank has urged that a regional regulatory system for the financial sector be put in place. There are proposals for a Caricom-wide system but the draft legislation has effectively been stalled. According to Dr Marion Williams, while the intention is there, national approaches have taken precedence. “The pace of implementation has been challenged recently by ongoing efforts of individual jurisdictions to reform their own national framework,” she said. “Global and regional developments will not wait until we are ready.”

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Political changes overlooked

| 26/02/2009 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Speaking in the Legislative Assembly this week, Minister Alden McLaughlin noted that the arguments surrounding the Bill of Rights and thechanges to Section 16 had so dominated the constitutional debate since agreement was reached in London, very little had been said about the rest of the document. “I am not sure whether that is a good or a bad thing,” he said, adding that the final document was a unique and modern constitution that would change Cayman’s political landscape.

With the Referendum Bill now passed, the people of the Cayman Islands will be asked a straightforward question on 20 May requiring a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer on their agreement to the entire document. During the debate in the LA on 23 February, the issue of the Bill of Rights continued to dominate the proceedings. However, McLaughlin noted that there were many advances in the constitution of which Cayman should be proud that had not been widely discussed in the public domain.

While the new document has altered Cayman’s relationship with the UK only marginally, as the country still remains a dependent territory with a governor who still has the overall final say, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts believes the UK gave up more than had been expected. The document has introduced a number of checks and balances into the political system which may serve to temper arbitrary decisions by either the politically elected members of government or the governor and has also changed the role of the attorney general.

Currently an appointed but voting member of government, under the new constitution the attorney general will no longer be able to vote in the Legislative Assembly and will become an adviser to government. The creation of a director ofpublic prosecutions will also see the AG’s role reduced as the new office takes over the power of directing criminal proceedings.

A number of commissions and councils have been created to support the country’s democratic institutions, as well as a National Security Council which will advise the governor on internal security issues, and the governor, under the draft constitution, will be obliged to act in accordance with its advice — unless it would adversely affect Her Majesty’s interests, though these are not defined. The council will consist of both government and opposition leaders, as well as the governor, representatives from civil society the police commissioner and the attorney general.

Other new bodies include a Human Rights Commission, a Commission for Standards in Public Life, advisory district councils, a register of interests for MLAs, a Judicial and Legal Services Commission and a Constitutional Commission. Each body is charged, in principle, with ensuring a more accountable democratic process.

The constitution also paves the way for the government to increase the number of electoral districts and therefore the members elected to the LA as well as the number of ministers. The Speaker and Deputy Speakers will come from the elected members of the House.

People-initiated referendums are another new democratic instrument that will allow for any registered elector to bring a referendum question to the country provided the question does not contravene the constitution itself and provided that voter presents a signed petition with not less than 25% of registered voters. Cabinet will then set the question and the date for a referendum. The results would be binding if more than 505 registered voters agree with the question. Government may also hold referendums on matters of national importance.

According to the Constitutional Secretariat, the full draft constitution will be available at supermarkets, post offices and public libraries. The electorate is being urged to read and understand the document before casting their vote on 20 May. So far, however, the only stakeholder actively promoting a ‘Yes’ vote is government. The church representatives, the opposition and the Chamber have all said it is a matter for the individual voter but broadly support the document with reservations.

The HRC has said it is not campaigning against the draft constitution but will continue to educate the public on the implications of the changes to Section 16, the non-discrimination right.

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