Archive for October 31st, 2011

Cops name sex attack suspect

| 31/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The police have now confirmed that they are searching for 32-year-old Jeffery Barnes, whose last known address was in George Town and who is wanted in connection with a sexual assault that took place on Saturday morning as well as a previous sexual attack reported to police this weekend. Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden warned the public that Barnes is a violent man who is believed to have access to guns. He said people should not approach him directly but contact the police if he is sighted. The senior officer told the media on Monday that a specially trained response team is hunting for Barnes across all three Cayman Islands.

“We are aware that he has access to firearms and he is a dangerous individual with a violent disposition and it is very important that we get him into custody,” Bodden told the media at a press briefing held at police headquarters on Monday afternoon.

DS Bodden explained that police have reason to suspect that Barnes is the man that committed a sexual assault on a 49-year-old woman in Admiral’s Landing on Saturday morning, and that he had approached a young girl in Victory Avenue some time earlier the same day, attempting to lure her into his car. It is suspected that he also committed an assault on a member of his own family a few days before.

The senior officer confirmed that the rape victim called the police to report the incident at around 10:28 Saturday morning and almost simultaneously other police officers were receiving a separate report that Barnes had tried unsuccessfully to get an eleven-year-old girl into the car he was driving sometime before he allegedly committed the rape.

Then, later on Saturday evening at around 8:20pm police received a further separate report accusing Barnes of another assault that had taken place a few days before Saturday’s incidents on a member of his own family.

Bodden gave very few details about any of the various reports or the victims because, he said, all three were live and sensitive enquiries. He stated that Barnes was well known to the police and confirmed that he was not currently on parole, but a warrant had recently been issued for his arrest in relation to a separate assault allegation unrelated to the latest reported incidents.

Unwilling to comment on any of Barnes’ previous convictions for related crimes, Bodden reiterated his warning that he was a violent individual who may have weapons in his possession.  

The senior police officer warned people not to approach Barnes but to contact the police in order that the specially trained officers could attend the location. He confirmed that officers had received reports over the weekend about Barnes’ possible whereabouts but when police responded he was not found at the locations. Bodden appealed to everyone in the community to call the police immediately if they had any information at all regarding where Barnes may be staying and assist the police in arresting him.

Bodden stated that the 49-year-old victim was reportedly waiting for a bus on Shamrock Road in broad daylight when a man believed to be Barnes approached her in a red Honda Civic. He offered her a lift and when she told him she was waiting for the bus he got out of the car and threatened her with what appeared to be a weapon wrapped in cloth. He forced the woman into the car and drove the vehicle to Admiral’s Landing, where he committed the sexual attack.

Police later recovered and seized the car in the Prospect area, which Barnes had reportedly borrowed, and the vehicle is currently undergoing forensic examination by scenes of crime officers. Bodden confirmed that the car seized by the police was the same vehicle that approached the young girl in Victory Avenue.

See related story: Police hunt sexual predator

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Box of squid leads CNS poll

| 31/10/2011 | 38 Comments

(CNS): Following the publication of a thought provoking Viewpoint on CNS by popular contributor Aristophanes Duckpond, a CNS poll has revealed that he was right – most people would prefer to vote for a box of frozen squid at the next election than the current government or the opposition. 50% of voters that had taken part in the on-line straw poll by Monday evening voted for the squid, 46% for the opposition People’s Progressive Movement and only 4% said they would vote for the ruling United Democratic Party. As unscientific as the poll is, the results so far point to a current preference for what Duckpond suggested was a third way.

Less than 300 people took part in the vote, which coupled with the comments demonstrated that the ‘calamari’ seemed to have the edge when it came to the people’s choice.

With well over a year before campaigning would normally be expected to start and 18 months to go before the May 2013 election, there is time for the opposition and the governmentto turn the results around but the third way appears to be an elusive but attractive option to the public and reflects the failure of official party politics to gain sufficient support.

The exceptionally poor showing of government in this latest web based ballot reflects other CNS on line votes that demonstrate little support for the current administration or the premier among readers. In August, 72% of the more than 600 people who voted in a poll assessing the performance of McKeeva Bush said he was “a terrible premier”.

Back in May, at the current administration’s half way point, 65% of voters stated that the current UDP government is the worst administration in Cayman Islands history and a further 21% said they had performed poorly. In April 89% of the 550 voters backed the opposition’s no confidence motion in government.

See the online poll: Which party would you like to see form the next government? (open)

A 3rd Way for Cayman by Aristophanes Duckpond

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Researchers publish findings on GM mosquitoes

| 31/10/2011 | 1 Comment

(NYTimes): Researchers have reported initial signs of success from the first release into the environment of mosquitoes engineered to pass a lethal gene to their offspring, killing them before they reach adulthood. The results, and other work elsewhere, could herald an age in which genetically modified insects will be used to help control agricultural pests and insect-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria. But the research is arousing concern about possible unintended effects on public health and the environment, because once genetically modified insects are released, they cannot be recalled.

Authorities in the Florida Keys, which in 2009 experienced its first cases of dengue fever in decades, hope to conduct an open-air test of the modified mosquitoes as early as December, pending approval from the Agriculture Department.

Supporters of the research worry it could provoke a public reaction similar to the one that has limited the acceptance of genetically modified crops. In particular, critics say that Oxitec, the British biotechnology company that developed the dengue-fighting mosquito, has rushed into field testing without sufficient review and public consultation, sometimes in countries with weak regulations.

“Even if the harms don’t materialize, this will undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the research enterprise,” said Lawrence O. Gostin, professor of international health law at Georgetown University.

The first release, which was discussed in a scientific paper published online on Sunday by the journal Nature Biotechnology, took place in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean in 2009 and caught the international scientific community by surprise. Oxitec has subsequently released the modified mosquitoes in Malaysia and Brazil.

Luke Alphey, the chief scientist at Oxitec, said the company had left the review and community outreach to authorities in the host countries. “They know much better how to communicate with people in those communities than we do coming in from the U.K.” he said.

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Questions raised over 7billionpopulation figure

| 31/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(BBC): The United Nations estimates that on Monday 31 October the world's population will reach seven billion. But how accurate is this figure? Not only is the world's population supposedly reaching seven billion today, the charity Plan International has anointed a girl born in India as the seven billionth. In reality, things are much less clear. The UN's population estimates chief, Gerhard Heilig, describes it as "nonsense" to suggest anyone could pinpoint where the seven billionth child will be born. And he says the UN recognises that its own figures come with a 1-2% margin of error. Today's population could actually be 56 million higher or lower than seven billion, Heilig says.

"There is a window of uncertainty of at least six months before and six months after the 31 October for the world population to reach seven billion," he told the BBC. “You are always going to be essentially guessing… We will never have a true, definitive figure”
The UN Population Division website adds that no-one can determine the date with an error margin smaller than about 12 months, as even the best censuses have "inevitable inaccuracies".

"In fact, due to very poor demographic statistics in a significant number of developing countries the uncertainty may be even larger."

According to some experts, the UN has jumped the gun. The US Census Bureau says the most likely date the world population will reach seven billion is between March and April next year.

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