February 13, 2012

The February 12th, 2012 issue of The Independent is online HERE

This Week's Stories:

  • Cardona slams Barrow
  • Placencia Sidewalk Art Festival 2012
  • Belize featured in ABC's Hit Romance Reality Series "The Bachelor"
  • Another Brannon shot dead!
  • City residents fear resurgent gun violence
  • Robbers hit RC Imports on Cemetery Road
  • Police and detainee rumble
  • Editorial: The Choice - Elections 2012
  • Entire Conejo Workforce Sacked by US Capital Energy
  • Sinking ship or finally a chance to heal
  • Impartial View: Why the UDP have always been a one-term government
  • BLUE NOTES: An economy in crisis
  • College Bound? Then Money Matters
  • Marcel Cardona lashes out at the UDP
  • San Pedro Politics
  • San Pedro Beat
  • 30-year battle pays dividends for Grace Kennedy
  • Barbados police fight crime with technology
  • Don't cry for Argentina: "Caribbean countries should not be used to advance Argentina's ambitions."
  • They call him Marvelous: Marvin Ottley
  • Revisiting the Ninth Amendment: The economics of nationalization

The Elections are Just Around the Corner
The elections are right around the proverbial corner and right outside everyone's door it seems. Signs, banners, flyers, campaigning groups, t-shirts, golf carts flying flags and blasting party jingles are hard to miss. Red, blue, purple...the colors are all over town. Even where I live one+ mile south. So...Wednesday, March 7th is a double election for both the mayor of San Pedro and the Representative for Belize Rural South (like a Senator in the US). There are three candidates for each. This should be pretty exciting.

Dr. Otto Rodriguez PolyClinic II receives Mobile Cot Stretcher
The Dr. Otto Rodriguez PolyClinic II is in possession of a brand new Dynamed Hare Any-Level Cot Stretcher Gurney. The donation took place on Tuesday February 7th at 2PM. The donation to the value of $700.00 was made possible through the efforts of Island Pool Supply - who facilitated purchasing and shipping and Cayo Espanto Island Resort, which provided the funds. According to Owen Vellos, Administrator at the PolyClinic II, the donation is very much needed. Prior to this donation, spine boards, which are very heavy, have been used to transport patients and had to be physically carried. With this new Mobile Cot Stretcher, the job of transporting patients to and from the clinic, within the clinic or even to and from emergency vehicles, will become much easier and will contribute to the efficiency of the PolyClinic staff.

Eco-Audit finds management efforts "insufficient" to protect Mesoamerican Reef
On Tuesday February 7th, the first ever Eco-Audit of the Mesoamerican Reef was released and it shows that management efforts by stakeholders of this precious natural resources are "insufficient." The eco-audit is a follow up to the Reef Report Card which was published in 2010 and evaluates the efforts taken to protect and sustainably manage the region's coral reefs. It also celebrates management success stories and documents the extent to which recommended management actions have been implemented in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico since the publication of the report card. The eco-audit was launched simultaneously in all four countries and shows an overall score of the reef management as fair, 2.7 out of 5, across the region and for all thematic areas.

The law is running out of gas in Belize
Two nights ago five men searched in the darkness for Enrique Makin, the chairman of a Maya village. Four of them were from the Belizean government's department of geology and petroleum; the other was the Mayan permitting officer of a US oil company struggling to conduct seismic testing on the village's land. This was the day after Standard and Poor downgraded Belize's credit ratings, citing the structural decline of the country's oil industry. In the darkness the men couldn't find Makin, so for now the standoff continues. The government wants his signature for a letter the oil company composed, granting the right to operate seismic lines (corridors cleared through the rainforest along which explosives will be detonated to find oil) across the territory of the Q'eqchi' Maya village of Conejo.

Tory peer Lord Ashcroft under scrutiny again
Lord Michael Ashcroft, Conservative Peer and former deputy chairman of the Tory party, is again coming under scrutiny over his dealings with the collapsed Belize building company, Johnson International. The company won building contracts throughout the Caribbean worth tens of millions of pounds and had interests that stretched across Belize, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago before collapsing with debts of £30 million, leaving many workers without wages. Although Ashcroft sold the company in 1999, a BBC Panorama programme suggested he'd misled the stock market about his links to the firm. The broadcaster had obtained internal company documents showing Johnson's chief executive, Allan Forest, regularly reported to Ashcroft. Most damning is a note from Forest referring to Johnson's parent company, Oxford Ventures, based in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven. Forrest wrote, "The perception in Belize is that you are still in full control of Oxford's assets (which you are of course)."

GSU: Ambush in the night!
The Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) is accused of yet another case of police brutality, after it raided a rooming house at the corner of George Street and Plues Streets early Thursday morning, February 9. The rooms are occupied by several young men who are considered to be affiliates of the George Street Gang. But this was no ordinary police raid. When the terrifying raid was finally over, the GSU officers sprayed the building with tear gas, before leaving the area.

Standard & Poors predicts another 'super bond'
The Government of Belize may end up in default on its foreign debt payments and, according to Standard and Poor's default scenario, they expect "the government of Belize to pursue a best-efforts approach to restructure its debt, as it did in late 2006 (which gave rise to the super bond)." The S&P prediction came on Monday, February 6. S&P analysts see an increased likelihood of default because they have estimated that Belize will need 14% more foreign exchange than its current account receipts and useable reserves to service its foreign debt in 2012. This is because the coupon on the "super bond" is scheduled to increase from 6% in August, to 8.5% annually.

UNIBAM leader Caleb Orozco attacked
Caleb Orozco, 38, the leader of the UNIBAM, the movement which has brought a constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court to decriminalize unnatural sex acts under Belizean law, was attacked on Wednesday evening, February 8. Orozco said an unidentified assailant threw a brown beer bottle at his face, while he was on Prince Street between George and West Streets between 4:30-5:50 p.m.

Bar madame gets 18 months for trying to seduce employee
A naturalized Belizean woman from San Ignacio, Narciza Orellana, was found guilty of trying to pressure her 17-year-old employee to sleep with a paying customer. Police accused her of human trafficking in persons, and Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith sentenced her to 18 months in jail. Orellana became the first person in Belize to be convicted under the human trafficking law. Orellana employed the girl, whom she met at a supermarket, to work at her bar called Sierra's Friends in Santa Elena.

U.B and Taiwan Academy in culture and academice link-up
The University of Belize has signed a letter of intent for bilateral cooperation with the Taiwan Academy and the Embassy of the Republic of China. UB President Cary Fraser signed the agreement with Taiwan's Ambassador David Wu at the embassy in Belize City on Thursday February 9. Minister of Education Hon. Patrick Faber witnessed the signing. Taiwan already offers about 25 scholarships each year for Belizeans who wish to study at universities in Taiwan. But through this agreement both parties will seek to strengthen bilateral exchanges in the areas of culture, education and academia. Belize and Taiwan will particularly target those topics related to Taiwan, mainland China and Chinese culture, by using resources offered by institutions and authorities in Taiwan to promote Chinese culture with Taiwan characteristics.

Marcel Cardona vows to support PUP
Marcel Cardona, the former United Democratic Party, Orange Walk East area representative, has broken his silence to verbally chastise his party at a press conference at the Belize Institute of Management on Wednesday, February 8. Cardona berated the government of Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow for its failures to address the issues in his constituency. Besides raining fire and brimstone on the Barrow government's shortcomings in his constituency, Cardona made two dramatic announcements

Belize stamps commemorate Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee
Queen Elizabeth II has reigned over the British Empire and served the British Commonwealth of nations for just over 60 years, and the Belize Postal Service honored her lifetime of service with a commemorative issue of stamps. The Queen's representative in Belize, the Governor General Sir Colville Young Sr., unveiled the stamps, which recognizes her 60th anniversary as Sovereign, to the public at the House of Culture in Belize City on Monday morning, February 6. The stamps show portraits of the Queen at different chapters of her reign. The 25 cent stamp shows a young Elizabeth as she appeared when at the tender age of 25, when she was crowned at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. The $2.00 stamp shows her 10 years later, and the 75 cent stamp show her as she looked in 1972, and pretty much the way she is portrayed on Belize's currency today.

Belize Workers Union negotiates pay increase for BSI workers
The Belize Sugar Industries Ltd. and the Belize Workers Union have signed a new Collective Agreement for B.S.I.'s hourly-paid workers at the company's Staff Club in Orange Walk Town. The agreement, which was signed last Monday, covers all workers employed at the Tower Hill Factory, Slip dock, Research and Transport Departments for a three-year period from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2014. Mrs. Aida Reyes, Labour Officer witnessed the new agreement, which provides for increases in wage rates for permanent hourly-paid employees of 4% and 5% for the periods July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 and July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 respectively.

Friends announces scholarship break for students in need
The organization known as International Friends of Belize has announced this week that it is ready to process applications for its high school partial scholarships, each worth $1,000. These partial scholarships are going to needy children already in school in Belize who demonstrate a desire and willingness to continue their studies. The first step in this process is for interested Belizean secondary schools to apply to be come "participating schools." This involves a school representative completing a short online Participating Schools Form found at www.friendsofbelize.org and agreeing to abide by the conditions required by International Friends of Belize in processing its scholarships.

PUP will proceed without Espat & Hyde, David Craig and Yolanda Shackron now in!
The Opposition People's United Party (PUP), only weeks away from the March 7th general election, has lost two of its more distinguished area representatives and possibly its grip on what had, until recently, been regarded as PUP safe seats. Mr. Mark Espat, three times area representative for the Albert constituency; and Mr. Cordell Hyde, the Lake Independence area rep for the last 14 years, have opted out of the race, the PUP's top executive confirmed at a press conference at Independence Hall on Monday, February 6.

Pickwick Club falls into receivership!
The Pickwick Club, Belize's oldest private membership club located on Newtown Barracks, has gone into receivership at the behest of Atlantic Bank Limited on Monday, February 6. The Bank's appointed receiver, Robert Garcia, has since taken over the club's operations. Billy Musa Sr. confirmed to The Reporter that Pickwick Club Limited, which has 118 local investors, had borrowed $8.5 million from Atlantic Bank.

Belize Film Industry steps up its game
Belize needs to offer financial incentives to film production companies seeking sand and sea or a jungle location to produce a film, the Coordinator of the Institute of Creative Arts' Film and Media Arts Unit Suzette Zayden said at a film industry symposium at the House of Culture in Belize City on Thursday, February 9. Zayden, who doubles as a facilitator for the Belize Film Commission, says the game has changed as film companies can shoot anywhere in the Caribbean and a number of locations are now offering very attractive financial incentives.

Gwen Liz boys win city football championship
The boys of Gwendolyn Lizarraga High School won theBelize City High Schools Football Championship, triumphing 2-1 over the boys of Anglican Cathedral College in both championship finals at the MCC grounds on Saturday, February 4 and Monday, February 7. Richard "R-J" Waight and Sergio Luna led the A.C.C. boys' offensive supported by Geon Makin and Roy Bonnel on the wings and Devaughn Zuniga and Jamal Matute at midfield, but the Gwen Liz defense of Shaheed Marsden, Ralph Martinez, Francis Andrews and Alroy Marin held them off.

Gwen Liz girls win city football championship
The girls of Gwendolyn Lizarraga High School won their second consecutive Belize City High schools Football Championship, triumphing 4-3 over the girls of Wesley College in a penalty shootout in the second game of the finals at the MCC grounds on Monday, February 7. In the first finals last Saturday, Kishay Bevans and Deandra Coote led the Gwen Liz offensive supported by Jersha Estrada, and Roslyn Smith at midfield, but the staunch defense of Wesley's Ruby Jimenez, Brenda Brown, Elisha Bernardez and Chineyre Wade held them in check. Dayrin Aguilar and Shanice Neal led the Wesley girls' offensive supported by Erica Milligan and Imane Mckenzie on the wings and Cassandra Mortis and Kirklyn Hall at midfield, but the Gwen Liz defenders Kenya Brown Shannon Neal, Shemara Nunez and Kenisha Hyde held them to a scoreless draw up to intermission.

Ziprider wins 2nd Haulover-to-Boom canoe race
Defending Ruta Maya champions, the Ziprider team of Jerry Rhaburn, Efrain and Felix Cruz, paddled their canoe across the finish line by Black Orchid Jungle Lodge resort in two hours 16 minutes and 57 seconds to win the second Haulover to Burrell Boom race organized by the Belize Canoe Association on Saturday, February 4. The Ziprider team took home a $140 first prize and a trophy. Their perennial rivals, the Belize Bank team of Daniel, Erwin and Amado Cruz were three seconds behind to win the $40 second prize and a trophy in the male category.

Satellite Image of the Great Blue Hole in Belize
"The World's Deepest Sea Hole". The Great Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Belize is a circular 305 m across and 123 m deep hole in the carbonate reef. It is a Belize National Monument and became a World Heritage Site in 1997. Jacques Cousteau took the Calypso and his submarine into the hole in 1972 to examine the stalactites suspended from overhanging walls. The Blue Hole formed during past ice ages, when sea level was 100-200 meters lower than at present. Dissolution of the carbonate rock created a subsurface void that subsequently collapsed. On land, these features are called cenotes. The image was acquired March 14, 2006, covers an area of 18.3 x 42.3 km, and is located at 17.5 degrees north latitude, 88.2 degrees west longitude.

Beasts of Belize
There are WAY more animals than people in nature-rich Belize. Get a grip on the Beasts of Belize and where to see them in the newspaper story we published on the subject.

Bionic butterfly wings are ultimate heat sensors
Move over spider silk. Butterfly wings are the new "it" material of the animal kingdom, doubling up as ultra-sensitive heat sensors. Morpho butterfly wings are iridescent thanks to rows of tiny tree-like structures on their surfaces. Light reflecting off each micrometre-long branch and trunk interferes, producing shimmering colours. Now Andrew Pris at General Electric's Global Research Center in Niskayuna, New York, and colleagues say those same "Christmas trees" make excellent heat sensors. When heat, or infrared radiation, hits the trees, the chitin they are made from expands. This increases the distance between the branches and trunks, shifting the wavelength of light they reflect perceptibly.

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