Archive for October 25th, 2011

Blue iguanas given chance to recolonize land

| 25/10/2011 | 20 Comments

(CNS): The home of the next generation of blue iguanas has been almost doubled with the purchase of a key piece of land that opens up previously inaccessible habitat in which the critically endangered creatures can now be released. A combination of willing landowners, the National Trust’s European Union EDF9 grant and a supplementary grant from Maples FS has allowed the recovery programme to buy 23 acres of land for the Salina Reserve. Originally deeded to the National Trust by the Cayman Islands Government, the Salina Reserve has always had a less than ideal northern boundary because of a privately owned piece of land situated almost entirely inside the reserve.

It divided the dry shrubland in that area, which is key habitat for the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana. It is this piece of land that has now been purchased by the Trust and become an integral part of the Salina Reserve.

“The importance of this land goes beyond the direct conservation value of the 23 acres involved,” said Fred Burton, Director of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme. “The purchase has unlocked a previously blocked fragment of habitat, which together with the new parcel now almost doubles the area of shrubland available here for the Blue Iguanas to recolonize.”

The European Union grant to the Trust is part of a project “Management of Protected Areas to Support Sustainable Economies”, shared with the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.

In Grand Cayman it is being implemented jointly by the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, the National Trust and the Department of Environment. The grant includes some funds for land purchase for Blue Iguana habitat, in addition to development of nature tourism and education infrastructure and programmes in the new Colliers Wilderness Reserve, which is also becoming a key home to the Blue Iguanas.

The Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Jamaica commented that the EU was pleased to be able to contribute to the preservation of the Blue Iguana, an interesting and threatened species, through the extension of its habitat.

"Biodiversity is essential for the survival of mankind," he said. "Each of us have to do what we can to ensure that species, such as the Blue Iguana, survive and are there for our children and grandchildren.  This is a practical example of thesupport that the EU gives and I would like to congratulate the Cayman Islands National Trust for their hard work that has brought this extension of the Salina Reserve."

In a fortunate coincidence of timing, the landowners approached the Trust with a view to selling near the time that the Trust took receipt of the first tranche of the EU grant. With support from the project’s technical assistant (based in TCI) and the EU Delegation in Kingston, Jamaica, the necessary procedures and approvals were completed in good time and the purchase documents were signed on 14 September.

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Bush makes $500k committment to Miss Lassie

| 25/10/2011 | 59 Comments

(CNS): Following the recentrecognition of Miss Lassie’s House in South Sound as a world monument, in need of protection the premier has offered government commitment to the restoration of the house of Cayman’s renowned visionary artist. McKeeva Bush has handed over a letter of commitment for $500,000 over a four year period to the Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF) as a contribution to the ongoing project at the home of Gladwyn K. Bush, better known as Miss Lassie. Bush hailed efforts underway to secure Miss Lassie’s South Sound house, Mind’s Eye, as a heritage site.

The importance of the site is a matter of pride for all Caymanians, the Premier noted. “Mind’s Eye was being considered with sites from around the world for this recognition,” he said.

The recognition of Mind’s Eye came from the World Monument Fund (www.wmf.org) which placed it on the Watch List 2012 as a threatened cultural-heritage site.

Restoration of the house will also preserve for future generations an example of their ancestors’ homes, the premier he added and lauded CNCF’s Henry Muttoo and Lorna Bush for their efforts.

The efforts by Muttoo in particular to campaign for the preservation of the house have continued for manyyears. The house is a unique monument in many ways not just as the home of the prolific and internationally acclaimed artist but because it is where she translated her visions not just on to canvas but on the walls, windows and doors of the family home where she had lived all of her life.

The land and house was bought by the previous government administration in 2008 and since then the CNCF has worked hard to raise the financial and other resources to not only preserve Miss Lassie’s work but turn the house into a museum, gallery and cultural centre.

 

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New LIME gizmo offers internet freedom

| 25/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local telecommunication operator LIME has launched a personal mobile-broadband router called ‘MiFi’, which creates its own hotspot and allows up to five devices to connect to the internet at the same time.  LIME said the new gizmo is Ideal for small-businesses, individuals, families and small student working groups as it is a light-weight portable modem that works at a distance of up to 30ft and provides simultaneous internet access to Wi-Fi enabled devices such as laptops, tablets, media players, digital cameras and video game consoles.

According to Tony Ritch, General Manager LIME Cayman Islands, the increase of portable internet access devices such as iPads, Blackberry Playbooks and other tablets as well as Wi-Fi enabled smartphones has been driving a demand for wireless internet service.
“As our customers’ appetite for internet-based technology increases, we are ensuring that the services we offer meet their needs and ultimately make their lives easier.  As such, we are proud to partner with Huawei in providing this exciting mobile solution that will give customers wireless internet access on all of these exceptionally popular devices,” he said. 

The ‘Mi-Fi’ router offers 5 hour battery-life and has a built-in antenna, a micro SD card slot and is compatible with over 20 different types of devices. The Huawei® E586, which has sold more than 150 million units worldwide, creates an instant internet hot-spot and facilitates wireless file-sharing. It retails from $97 and customers can add the data plan their choice.

“The full potential of today’s most popular devices can only be experienced through LIME’s superior 4G network and we will continue to offer the technologies that allow our customers to fully utilise even the most sophisticated devices” Ritch added.

The Huawei® E586, utilises the LIME Mobile Data network and offers up to 4G connectivity speed across the island for any Wi-Fi-enabled fixed and portable device. The MiFi device is designed to help bridge the digital divide by providing opportunities to enjoy broadband internet services, regardless of geographic location, LIME said.

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Local activists seek support to save West Bay Road

| 25/10/2011 | 40 Comments

(CNS): Weather permitting, three different community action groups will be hosting a rally this weekend to raise support for their campaign to save a 2500 foot stretch of the West Bay Road from closure as part of a government land swap with the Dart Group. The Concerned Citizens, West Bay Action Committee and Save Cayman are joining forces to urge the wider community to sign the petition against the proposed closure. Government is planning to swap the stretch of road, which is crown land, as part of a wider deal with the islands’ biggest developer and owner of Camana Bay in order to create a beach front site for the property recently purchased by the group on the West Bay Road.

As part of the ForCayman Alliance, a controversial deal which government intends to sign with Dart to stimulate development, the stretch of crown land along the West Bay Road from Calico Jacks to Yacht Drive will be given to Dart in exchange for land in Barkers, West Bay and the construction of the Esterly Tibbetts highway extension.

The proposed deal has sparked a number of concerns among the activists, who have said they are worried that the swap does not represent good value for money for the public purse as well as the continued erosion of public access to the islands’ famous stretch of beach. Concerns have also been raised by some members about the growing power of a single investor that is already estimated to be the largest single land owner on Grand Cayman.

The rally will be held at Seven Mile Public beach at 4pm on Saturday 29 October.

More information is available by emailing trulyforcayman@gmail.com  or calling 925 2484

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People urged to report sexual harassment

| 25/10/2011 | 9 Comments

(CNS): With the launch of a new sexual harassment awareness campaign, the chair of the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation is urging people who suffer sexual harassment to report their experiences and take action. With the passage of the Gender Equality law, which comes in January, Rayal Roberts said the foundation hopes that employers will be encouraged by the campaign to implement best practice policies that address sexual harassment in the workplace. “Sexual harassment is a prevalent issue in the Cayman Islands,” said Roberts.

“By getting the public talking, we hope that victims learn that their suffering should not go unreported. We urge the public to support each other and take action. Sexual harassment, in any form, should not be accepted in our community,” he added.

The campaign theme, "I am not the one who should be ashamed", centres on empowerment and giving voice tovictims by encouraging them to speak out about sexual harassment, and it also acknowledges that the behaviour of the harasser is unacceptable and shameful.

The foundation unveiled its cache of campaign tools at a special launch evening at the Harquail Theatre, including educational posters for prominent display in workspaces and public areas; brochures clearly defining what constitutes an act of sexual harassment and outlining preventative measures and practical suggestions for victims; decals, magnets and t-shirts.

"Our campaign poster depicts persons with tape covering their mouths, and we want to encourage people to remove the invisible tape that is on their mouths when it comes to this issue. By encouraging victims to seek help and being courageous enough to step forward as witnesses, individuals can become part of the solution," Roberts added.

Continuing to spread the word far and wide, ESRF and Women’s Media Watch representatives have visited students at Triple C and St. Ignatius High School, in addition to carrying out a host of television and radio appearances. With a series of cinema and radio advertisements slated for later in the year, alongside a number of community outreach initiatives, organisers are optimistic that their message will be heard loud and clear.

Campaign t-shirts are available to purchase for CI$15 at the Purple Dragon School of Martial Arts, which is located on the second floor of the Largatos Building on Lawrence Blvd. For further information, or to get your posters or brochures, email esrfoundation@gmail.com or visit www.esrfoundation.org.ky.

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Tax haven crackdown yields €14billion

| 25/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): An international drive against offshore tax havens has reaped nearly 14billion from would-be tax evaders, the OECD said on Tuesday. Some 100,000 taxpayers in 20 major economies surveyed by the OECD have revealed previously undetected offshore assets in the last two years, allowing tax authorities to collect the equivalent of nearly $19 billion. "As cash-strapped governments look to pay down their deficits, this will make a substantial contribution to fiscal consolidation," Secretary General Angel Gurria said at the opening of a two-day meeting on tax transparency.

"Just as important — most of the additional revenues has been secured from citizens trying to evade taxes," he added. "At a time when many governments are forced to ask their citizens to accept higher taxes and reduced public services, everyone must pay their fair share."

 

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Silence stretches prison term

| 25/10/2011 | 25 Comments

(CNS): The refusal of a robbery getaway driver to give up his criminal associates or the whereabouts of the guns used in the crime has resulted in a long sentence for the silent man, despite the fact that he did not take part in the actual robbery. Having pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact of robbery, John Alfredo Miller was given a five year sentence by Justice Charles Quin on Tuesday as a result of his silence about the actual robbers. In refusing to assist the police to find the gunmen or the weapons used in the crime, Miller said he was afraid for his own life, as well as that of his family members.

The maximum sentence for the crime is seven years after trial, and while Miller was given a two year reduction as a result of his early guilty plea, the judge found no other factors that could discount the sentence, in particular assisting the authorities, which was noted as the strongest of all mitigating factors. Justice Quin said the absence of cooperation with the police in the case was a “deeply regrettable consequence of the pervasive and abhorrent influence” criminals currently have in the Cayman Islands.

“To this defendant I state that the fear he has for himself and his family will only spread if criminals are allowed to thrive and remain at large,” Justice Quin observed during his sentencing ruling. “I would implore this defendant to examine carefully all the consequences related to his silence in the round and understand that there is no long term good for him, his family or the community when criminals are allowed to thrive and their actions go unpunished.”

The three armed men who perpetrated what the judge said was a robbery of the most serious kind have never been brought to justice and the guns or imitation weapons they used to put fear into as many as five victims on the night of the crime never recovered.

“This defendant has decided that due to fear for his safety and that of his family he will not assist the crown, the court or indeed himself by identifying the gunmen or providing some information which could assist the police to recover the three guns,” Justice Quin said before he handed down the five year jail term.

The crime took place on 29 November last year at ‘The Shoppe’ on the junction of Watercourse Road and North West Point Road in West Bay. Three armed men carrying shotguns and hand guns entered the store, where they threatened and robbed both the customers inside of mobile phones and $550 cash from the shop’s register. The robbers also threatened a man approaching the scene as they left the shop and made their escape, telling him to turn around.

One of the victims saw a white Ford Explorer, which appeared to have been waiting for the robbers, pick them up and drive off at great speed, heading in the direction of the West Bay four-way stop. The witness noted the registration and immediately called the police.  Sometime later the police located and stopped the car but by then the robbers had disappeared.

When Miller admitted his part in the robbery as the getaway driver, he claimed that he had received a call asking him to go to Watercourse Road to pick someone up. It was then, as he parked in a driveway near to The Shoppe, that Miller saw the three gunmen, who he admitted got into his car for a short time before he dropped them off.

The court found that Miller had in fact already been waiting for the gunmen with the intention of taking them away after they had committed the crime of robbery. He had left the car’s engine running and witnesses saw him leave at high speed, the judge observed, helping the robbers escape and in doing so, “he aided, abetted and assisted the gun men to leave the scene of the crime undetected,” impeding their apprehension.  

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Aussie arrested for showing the queen his bum

| 25/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(Metro): Australian Liam Warriner has been charged by police after he 'mooned' the Queen during her royal visit to Brisbane, Queensland. He revealed his backside to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, giving them quite an eyeful as they made their way from the airport into the city. The royals were visiting Brisbane to see the reconstruction working that has been underway after flooding hit the area earlier this year. Liam Warriner, a local construction worker, is alleged to have bared his bum and wedged an Australian flag between his butt cheeks while running for 50 yards beside the motorcade.

Warriner said that both the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh waved at him during his run. The bottom-revealing incident didn't go down well with officials though. Warriner, 22, was charged by Australian police on account of wilful exposure and public nuisance offences and is to appear before magistrates on Friday.

On being released on bail Warriner said that he was dared to moon the Queen by his colleagues.He told the Herald Sun: 'I mooned the Queen.

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Search engines failing, says Facebook exec

| 25/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(Telegraph): Top Facebook executive, Ethan Beard, has said that Google and other search engines are failing to give people the results they really want and need. Talking exclusively to The Telegraph, Beard, the director of the Facebook Platform, said that search will have to “go social” but admitted that a tie-up between the social network and its major rival Google would not make good business sense, despite the benefits to consumers. Beard is in London, as part of a global tour, talking to hundreds of British developers about the new additions to the site’s Platform since f8, the recent Facebook developers conference – at which the site's chief, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the 'Timeline' and a ‘new breed of social apps’.

‘Platform’ is the part of Facebook which allows other websites to integrate Facebook apps or tools, such as the Like button, onto their website, and developers to use the site’s social graph to create socially driven services and games, such as the hugely popular Farmville game.

Beard said that search needed to go social so that people could get really good product recommendations from their most trusted sources, their friends, as well links to sites where they can buy the items.

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20 million bees freed as lorry overturned

| 25/10/2011 | 1 Comment

(BBC): A highway in the US state of Utah was temporarily closed after a lorry carrying at least 20 million bees overturned, freeing the insects. The bees were being transported to California, ready to pollinate an almond crop next spring. Interstate 15 was closed down for several hours while local beekeepers worked overnight to recapture the bees. The trip was among the last of 160 truckloads of bees being sent south from Adee Honey Farms in South Dakota. Authorities closed the southbound lanes of the highway, near the Arizona border, for several hours on Sunday night. The road reopened early on Monday morning, but officials warned drivers to keep their windows closed.

"The driver lost control, hit the concrete barrier and rolled over," said Corporal Todd Johnson of the Utah Highway Patrol. "Of course, we then had bees everywhere."
 

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