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4 THROATS CUT; CITY SHUTS DOWN IN PANIC
US Embassy advises its citizens to “stay away”.
Citywide panic ruled most of the streets of the old capital for most of Tuesday, January 8, especially in the Queen’s Square and Mesopotamia divisions on the Southside, after it was announced that four massacred bodies had been discovered at about 7:00 in the morning in the upper flat of an apartment at the corner of Dean and Plues Streets.
The murders of the four men, some of whom were known members of the George Street gang, were rendered all the more horrific when it was reported that their throats had been cut, and the bodies had suffered many stab wounds and bore cut marks of torture.
The murders also had international repercussions: after the confrontation between angry relatives and friends of the slain men and the police, the US Embassy almost immediately released a travel advisory which “informs U.S. citizens residing and traveling in Belize of several gang-related homicides that occurred in Belize City on January 7, 2013. While there is no indication that U.S. citizens are targeted or otherwise under direct threat, there is a possibility that retaliatory violence could take place. As a precaution, the Embassy’s Regional Security Officer has advised U.S. Government personnel to avoid travel to Belize City for the time being.”
Almost immediately after the discovery of the butchered bodies, grieving relatives, gang members and friends of the slain men — Leonard “Ghost” Myers, 30; Albert “Long John” Fuentes, 19, of George Street; Anthony Henry Perez, 28, of Plues Street; and Keino Quallo, 40, of Dean and Plues Streets — began blaming the police’s feared Gang Suppression Unit (GSU), who have had a long, antagonistic relationship with the gang.
LEONARD “GHOST” MYERS STABBED 38 TIMES: AUTOPSY
A post-mortem was conducted today on two of the bodies of four murdered men, Albert “Long John” Fuentes, 19, Leonard “Ghost” Myers, 30, Keino Quallo, 40, and Anthony Perez, 28, who were found dead in an apartment at the corner of Dean and Plues Streets on the morning of Tuesday, January 8.
The autopsy was conducted on the bodies of Albert Fuentes and Leonard Myers.
The examination found that the cause of death of Fuentes was asphyxia and stab wounds. His mother, who witnessed the autopsy, said that she saw about 10 stab wounds in his chest, and his throat was slit.
She requested a further test because of the possibility that he had been drugged. The doctor explained to her that the drug he noted was the type that was inhaled, which was put on cloth and placed over the nose.
She requested verification, but at the conclusion of the procedures, nothing more was done in the way of further testing.
The cause of death of Leonard Myers was declared to be stab wounds to his chest, back and throat. No member of his family was allowed to witness his autopsy, but the undertaker told his wife that he had been stabbed 38 times, and his throat slit.
NATHAN PRATT, 43, PLEADS GUILTY TO THEFT FROM ENRIQUE MARTINEZ AND SONS LIMITED
Pratt told the court that he is a drug addict and had a relapse.
Today, Nathan Pratt, 43, a resident of Vista Del Mar, was taken before Magistrate Dale Cayetano, where he was charged with theft.
According to a report by a supervisor at Enrique Martinez and Sons Limited, on Wednesday, December 19, 2012, Pratt, who was a driver of the delivery truck for the company, was to drop off one roll of 5/8″ copper tubing valued at $206.00; one roll of 3/8″ copper tubing valued at $103.00; half roll of 1/2″ copper tubing valued at $77.50; half roll of 1/4″ copper tubing valued at $40.50; and one disconnect switch valued at $25.90 at the Belize Water Taxi terminal, located on North Front Street, to be delivered to Caye Caulker.
But later that day, the supervisor was informed that the abovementioned items had not been delivered.
When he arrived at work at 8:00 the following morning, the supervisor found the delivery truck parked on the company compound. When he checked the truck, he realized that (1) black radio and amplifier valued at $100; (1) red 2-ton bottle jack valued at $40; (2) black and grey speakers valued at $1,200 were all missing from the truck’s interior. All the stolen items added up to $2,722.90, and are the property of Enrique Martinez and Sons Limited.
DORAN MOODY, 29, CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER OF UNCLE-IN-LAW
Moody chopped Mark Davis, 43, on New Year’s Day after a family misunderstanding.
Doran Moody, 29, a farmer and resident of Biscayne Village, was today charged with attempted murder, use of deadly means of harm and grievous harm when he appeared before Magistrate Dale Cayetano.
According to a report to police by Mark Davis, at 7:00 on New Year’s night, he was called to his sister’s house to try and quell a misunderstanding between his niece and her common-law husband, Moody.
Davis reported that he went to the house on his bicycle and that was when he encountered Moody in the yard. He told Moody to leave the yard and as he, Moody, was leaving the yard, he grabbed a machete from the frame of Davis’ bike, which was parked by a mango tree.
Davis said that he and his sister both started to run, but he fell and that was when Moody pounced on him and chopped him with his own machete. Davis sustained chop injuries to his left hand, the left side of his face and his left ear, which was almost severed. He said that the only reason his attacker didn’t kill him was because Moody’s brother put himself between Moody and him, Davis.
FFB PRESIDENT CONGRATULATES NEW FIFA REFEREES, CALLS FOR MORE YOUNG REFEREES
The entire Football Federation of Belize Executive was in attendance today at the media luncheon to honor 4 FIFA Referees at the Santorini restaurant near Mile 46 on the George Price (Western Highway) on the outskirts of Belmopan. Also in attendance was the President of the Referees Committee, David H. Jones.
In his address to the newly certified FIFA Referees 2013, FFB President Ruperto Vicente said that, “Refereeing is a key part of our sport. Without referees the game is not official. So, referees are an important and integral part of our football.” He congratulated the new FIFA Referees on their achievement, noting from his own past experience that, “It is never an easy task to pass the FIFA test… that is administered by FIFA… and to move on to the list of FIFA International Referees.” He also reminded the new inductees that, “Being a FIFA Referee, you must understand that it puts a heavy responsibility on you, because other referees will be looking at you as their role model. You will be the one to set the pace for them.”
Vicente also used the occasion to encourage more young people to become referees. “I am calling on the Referees Committee to recruit younger referees, because the game is now a game for youth, and older referees cannot keep up with the youth…. Our football is growing, and it will grow a lot more this year, and in years to come. There will be more activities, more tournaments, and that means more football being played in this country – youth football, league football, inter-district football, semi-pro level football being played; and you will also have international matches to assist with and to referee. So, we are calling on the Committee to recruit younger referees, and to recruit them even from high school. We need referees who can critically think; referees who can make decisions without being questioned or without being intimidated. Those are the kind of referees that we’re looking for. We need those kinds of referees today.
NATIONAL TEAM COMPLETES SWEEP OF 3 FRIENDLIES IN PREPARATION FOR COPA CENTROAMERICANA
The National Team of Belize played its third game at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8, at the FFB’s Goal Project Stadium in Belmopan in preparation for its participation in the Copa Centroamericana tournament later this month in Costa Rica. The National Team won, 5-2, against recently crowned national champions, Belmopan Bandits. Scorers for the National Team were Harrison “Cafu” Roches (26’) and Deon McCaulay (55’, 74’, 78’ & 82’); while the Bandits got their goals from Kevin Rodriguez (77’) and Floyd Jones (86’PK).
This was the third of three preparation games played by the National Team in five days, following a similar schedule as they will be playing in the Copa Centroamericana. In its first outing on Friday, January 4, the National Team drilled visiting Trigillos of Chetumal, Mexico, 7-nil; and then clipped the highly rated Platense FC of Honduras, 1-nil, on Sunday, January 6, at the same venue. At the Copa Centroamericana, Belize will go against host Costa Rica on January 18, Guatemala on January 20, and Nicaragua on January 22.
According to our sources, the Belize National Team leaves for Costa Rica on Wednesday, January 16.
BNCA SAYS NATIONAL CRICKET TEAM NEEDS SPONSORS TO ATTEND ICC AMERICAS DIVISION 2 CHAMPIONSHIP IN BAHAMAS
Cricket is not the number one sport in Belize, but it still has a solid following, especially in the Belize River Valley villages, where over a dozen teams participate in the annual cricket competition.
Yesterday, Conway Young, Cricket Development Officer of the Belize National Cricket Association (BNCA) sent out the following release:
“Attached is the tournament schedule that the Belize National Team will be competing in the Bahamas from February 04-10, 2013.
“The Belize National Cricket Teams is still looking for sponsors to assist the players in this tournament. If anyone is interested in assisting the BNCT you can contact the Belize National Cricket Association at [email protected] to get more information.”
The attachment includes the games schedule for the Belize National Cricket Team in the ICC Americas Division 2 Championship which takes place in the Bahamas at the Haynes Oval. Participating teams are Panama, Argentina, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos Islands, and Belize. Belize is scheduled to play against Panama on Tuesday, February 5; vs Bahamas on Wednesday, February 6; vs Turks & Caicos Islands on Thursday, February 7; (a bye on Friday, February 8) and vs Argentina on Saturday, February 9.
Editorial: The Slaughtering
Tuesday morning’s slaughtering of four leaders and/or affiliates of the George Street gang was a message being sent to that gang and the surrounding community. On the one hand, it may have been that the message was only intended for a section of the gang and the community, and, on the other hand, it may have been a broader message, a message for Belize City and Belize nation.
A few years ago some Belize City men went fishing and disappeared somewhere outside the Barrier Reef. A couple days later, a single body was found, badly beaten, floating in shallow water at a southern section of the Reef. The single body found was that of a magistrate, a man who was generally thought to be “clean.” In the aftermath of the disappearances, there were questions which came up about the previous activities of two or three of the other men. None of the other six has ever been found.
A few years before that, an English Caye watchman, his common-law wife, and a couple of their children disappeared on the way to the caye in a boat travelling from Belize City. None of them were ever found.
Before Tuesday morning, Belize City and Belize nation had experienced the trauma of having to cope with sensational and gruesome murders and disappearances. There had been the case of a pilot for one of the local airlines who disappeared into thin air along with his plane. The difference between the disappearances, on the one hand, and Tuesday morning’s slaughtering, on the other, was that the community and the nation had to deal with the bloody visuals within hours of the slaughtering, and at the same time face the municipal upheaval of rash blame assignment and anticipated retaliation.
ATTACK THE UPPER LEVEL OF CRIME FIRST: Letters
In an ineffective attempt to lessen crime, the Government has directed a war against gangs that will result in hardened gang members and retaliation. The actions of the Government protect those in the upper level of crime and seek to punish the lower level offenders – gangs that the upper level has helped, created and has placed in untenable positions.
Belize has two levels of crime. The lower level of crime comes from gang affiliation. The separate and upper level of crime arises out of corrupt politics. Those involved in the upper level of crime are politicians that put their own interest, or the interests of their cronies, ahead of the interests of the people of Belize.
The lower level of crime, gangs, can never be resolved until the upper level of crime, corrupt politicians, is brought to an end. The reason is that the upper level of crime is a significant factor in bringing about and maintaining the problems that lead to gang affiliation.
There are three primary problems that lead to gang affiliation. The first is lack of education that deprives the youth of the knowledge and ability to maintain himself. The second is fatherless homes where the child does not receive proper direction and support from his biological father. In the States, 70% of those in prison come from single parent homes. The third is lack of available employment by which the child can seek to maintain himself.
MAYOR BRADLEY SPEAKS ON THE LINKING OF PAYMENT OF LAND TAX ARREARS TO VEHICLE LICENSING
For many city residents, having a vehicle for personal use is more of necessity than a commodity. Many people commute on a daily basis, whether for work or school, so having their vehicle licensed is a must in order to carry out their daily activities.
There is no dispute on the importance of keeping up-to-date on property tax payments as well. But now, the Belize City Council has decided to link property tax and vehicle licensing.
The Belize City Council has decided that persons in arrears for property tax will be prohibited from licensing their motor vehicles until their tax payment has been made. Amandala spoke to several Belize City residents who said that they have been turned away and were not allowed to renew their vehicle license until they have made full payment of their property tax arrears. Those persons claimed that they were not aware of that policy before, and that it is an unfair policy, and probably illegal, because property tax and vehicle licenses are two different things.
Amandala spoke to Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley, who said that the policy came about as a result of the Council linking all of their systems by computer networks.
“We are moving in a direction of linking traffic with property tax, and with liquor and trade and our building permits,” he said. “If you try and get a vehicle license, the system will pull up if you owe property tax, trade license, or any other tax, and it will prohibit you being issued your license until that bill is cleared.”
“GENESIS” FALLS SHORT, NO MAPS OF BELIZE
I received a gift today of a beautifully bounded 2013 personal diary/planner with the words “The Genesis Agenda” across the top, and “Belize!” at the bottom, with the Belize Coat of Arms taking up the middle section, all imprinted on a blue hard cover. Belize’s tourist attractions are well advertised in picturesque scenes on the monthly pages of the diary, but there is one glaring omission; and for that, I don’t like the diary.
About ten years ago, while holding a management position in a big company, I received a Christmas gift of a very similar type, same size, of hard-cover diary from one of our Guatemalan fertilizer suppliers. We shared a cordial and friendly relationship, but I communicated my strong objection to the agent when I discovered that there were maps of all countries of Central America inside the diary, but Belize was included as a part of Guatemala. He apologized profusely, but I never used that diary.
Genesis Art has disclosed the source of all their art work and pictures, but I cannot find anywhere in the diary the names of the printers and publishers. More importantly, there are no maps displayed, which would have been a great opportunity to advertise our country as an independent nation in Central America. Perhaps the agents are also targeting Guatemalan tourists? It may just be an innocent oversight, but I am nevertheless puzzled by “The Genesis Agenda.”
A Tale of Five Cities: Travel to Campeche
This morning we were off to our next destination, Campeche, in the like-named Campeche state of Mexico. We chose to stay there on the way to Palenque to visit the ruins mostly to break up the trip into manageable-length bus segments, not because we had any burning desire to visit the city. And that was too bad, as it turned out to be a really, really nice place, and we only had one night to enjoy it. (We would later have another night there on our return trip, but we hadn't planned that all out at the time.)
Larry, our host at La Casa Lorenzo, gave us a ride to the ADO bus terminal in Merida as he was heading downtown to a hardware store that morning. The ride was helpful as we knew we had a fairly long walk to the hotel from the Campeche ADO station, and the less we have to walk with our heavy packs, the better.
And there is the little matter of traffic stops. These exist when leaving one state and entering another, and sometimes at other places in between. The buses always seemed to get sent right through, but there were indeed police with machine guns at the stops.
Seven Surprising Facts of the Rhyncholaelia Digbyana
Common Name: Digby’s Beaked Laelia
The Rhyncholaelia digbyana is an uncommon and stunning species of orchid that is native to Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras. Below are seven surprising facts of this beautiful orchid:
1.) If given adequate light and kept somewhat dry between watering, this orchid will provide you with large, up to seven inch flowers, pale green, and quite fragrant especially at night.
2.) This plant has sturdy, stiff, upright light green leaves that have a silvery appearance. When grown in strong light the leaves will turn a red-purple color.
3.) The Rhyncholaelia digbyana needs bright light, intermediate growing temperatures and good air circulation.
4.) Although it may be grown successfully in well drained pots, the plants grow best when mounted on cork or grown in slatted wood or plastic baskets.
‘Money for Nothing’ in Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Spent the early part of this morning arranging an exchange of sterling to US dollars to fund the next stages of our build in Ambergris Caye,Belize.
Before commencing the build project Rose and I considered a number of ways in which to fund it. Leave the money in our UK bank account and exchange currency on a stage by stage basis, open a US dollar account with our UK bank and exchange sterling for the total build cost and draw on it on a stage by stage basis,transfer money to our Atlantic International Limited Bank account and draw down on that, and a whole host of other approaches to the funding requirement.
In the end – after much deliberation- we elected to make use of FC Exchange which s a UK based specialist currency broker. The appeal for us being that we exchange reasonably sizeable amounts of sterling at the market rate at the time of exchange ( this way we have certainty of the rate which we much prefer to taking a gamble on whenever a stage payment is due). The rates offered are generally higher than we could get at a bank and there are NO wire transfer fees. It works for us but may not appeal to everyone.
After taking care of the money it was time for Rose and I to review the plans for the Ground and First Floors to see if there are any changes we want to make or questions we would like to ask Daniel Camal,our building contractor,at the meeting we were having with him at 4 pm.
Who was Keino Quallo? by Aria Lightfoot
Who was Keino Quallo? Many people see a black unshaven face and a headline. “Four Gangbangers brutally murdered”. He matches what people think a “gang” banger looks like. They have no idea of who he is or where he came from, what led him down his path. All people know and feel is that they are stricken by fear because of violence. Any solution, even state-sanctioned murder, is an acceptable solution. The thinking is, he was a menace to society – so who cares, he probably have killed many more people and getting his just desserts.
Not so fast…
I met Keino in High School. I must have been about 14 years old, my second year in High School and he was one year ahead. Keino arrived in Belmopan with such notoriety. He was arrested in the U.S. for drug trafficking at the age of 15 years old. His father was a well-known attorney, Glenford Quallo, was recently murdered.
Keino popularity grew fast at Belmopan Comprehensive School. He was charming, articulate, athletic, tall, and very intelligent. He was a snappy dresser and carried himself with a lot of confidence, therefore the women flocked him. We became friends because my best friend was dating his friend at the time.
I found him very interesting. His experiences and world -view and his perspective on different issues. He was, if I recall, a die-hard PUP supporter and in my mix of friends we had both die- hard PUP and UDP supporters. Our discussions would range from politics to law to life. My God we were only 15 at the time! We also shared sports in common. We both played basketball and played on the school teams so we travelled all over Belize playing sports.
No Nonsense or Just No Sense- Things That Make You Go Hmmmmmmmmmmm by FAC
Turning Treasure to Trash
Soooooooo…what do we think bout this picture???? It certainly does make a bold statement. I’m gonna guess the Minister wanted to convey that illegal cutting/transportation/selling of rosewood will not be tolerated. On the other hand, this idea that the wood had to be burned because nobody could be trusted to store it properly kinda STANDS OUT MORE. There must be some policy already in place to deal with confiscated goods, yes???? And if there is to be an investigation, why burn the evidence? And why not turn around and use this wood for some other purpose?? Furniture in a museum….material for some artist????
Daily Dingleberry 01-11-13 For the Slow and Stubborn
Ok. I really am getting tired of being targeted just because I ask for evidence. I have no problem asking the hard questions and socking it exactly where it belongs. But PLEASE do not get uppity when I ask for proof. Spreading rumours and crazy conspiracy theories will not help anything. That is just irresponsible. You can not say you love this country and its people when you engage in rumour mongering and propaganda. That obscures the real efforts to find the truth. Do you hear me??????? Our biggest problem is collection of evidence. While we are spreading rumours about how much the gang leaders were paid off, from $1500 each plus room and board to $40,000 each, where the hell is your concern for the murdered men???? You should be yelling and screaming about how the crime scene was handled. You should be yelling and screaming about how the bloody coroner might not have run tox screens or how he keeps giving different times of death…THAT is the concern here! Without evidence, none of this matters! Focus people. But see. That’s just it, right? You don’t really care about justice. You care more about causing hysteria and furthering your political agendas.
Find out what it means so you can show some.
Olson Refreshes Belize's Identity With New Take on Old Travel Posters
Check out the old identity for the country of Belize, and you're transported straight to the '80s, which figures since that's the last time the logo got an update -- until recently. The country's tourism board tapped Olson to refresh its marque, and the agency crafted this gorgeous, modern take on the Belize identity.
Olson turned to Belize itself for inspiration -- the circular forms found across the nation inspired the new typeface, while a local artist contributed his own take to the national bird, the toucan. In all, the identity brings a contemporary, yet classic vibe to represent tourism in Belize and harkens back to classic travel posters of the '60s (which, as design pieces tend to, stand the test of time better than the stuff of recent years). The graphic forms are balanced out with textural brushstrokes -- a nod to the handcraftsmanship of the country's artisans.
According to Olson Chief Creative Officer Dennis Ryan, "We wanted it to feel non-commercialized. A lot of times, tourist destinations try to create images that cater to the traveler, versus what the destination wants the traveler to experience." He adds that the agency's director of design, Joe Monnens "wanted the logo to feel modern yet timeless. And those travel posters were held up as an example of tourism promotion that felt authentic to the destination. From the outset, the intention was to lend it a more contemporary feel while harkening back to something longed for in our modern culture: things that are authentically crafted. Thus, the work to capture that hand-painted, brushstroke texture -- something found all over the country of Belize."
Below, find a behind the scenes video that shows agency's thinking behind the new Belize identity, and head over to Creativity-Online.com for more great work.
Why life's never boring for Belfast's oil baron
Northern Ireland-born Susan Morrice struck oil in Belize, but, she tells Helen Carson, it was a discovery that owes much to walks around Fair Head on the north coast as a schoolgirl. A Northern Ireland woman who literally struck oil in her career wants to bring her incredible business nous back home.
Belfast-born Susan Morrice (60) claims there is oil and gas in the province — and she should know, as the expert geologist struck oil in the Central American country of Belize after petrochemical giants Shell and Mobil both failed to do so.
“I was told by people in the industry ‘don’t do this Susan, you will ruin your career’. But I knew there was oil there. We struck oil with the first wildcat well. It usually takes 10-15 wildcats before you hit oil.”
That was over 30 years ago, now Susan lives in Denver, Colorado, and has founded her own oil company Belize Natural Energy (BNE).
Despite being an international player in the oil world, and counting former US president Bill Clinton, who she has known since he was governor of Arkansas, as one of her best friends and supporters, Susan still talks with an Ulster accent — with not a trace of that transatlantic drawl others pick up after less than three decades away from home.
Danny Michel plays Brock
Musician Danny Michel was mesmerized by her beautiful voice. A woman singing in her native language of Belize. Words he didn’t understand.
The moment was magical. Beyond words. It was about her voice. The beauty of the song. And the challenge Michel had set for himself to make music like he’s never made it before.
They were together in a recording studio in the Central American country. Michel (pronounced Michelle) was in Belize to record what became the 10th album for the 42-year-old from Kitchener-Waterloo.
Over years of travel to Belize, the culture and its music has, in his words, “seeped into me.”
After the woman finished singing, he threw up his hands, speechless. In an awkward, embarrassed sort of way he asked: ‘what are you saying?’
She smiled. Offered the translation: Black birds are dancing over me.
He paused. Smiled. “OK, we have the album title.”
And so it is. Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me (Six Shooter Records) is a collaborative effort between Michel and the Garifuna Collective (The Benque Players), a group of musicians from Belize. The woman’s voice is heard at the end of Survivor’s Guilt, the third track on his album. On Jan. 17, Michel brings a taste of their music and more to the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre.
Getting to Caye Caulker isn’t easy. Leaving with all your fingers isn’t guaranteed.
Let us back up a little. Caye Caulker is one of the less traveled Caribbean islands that make up the country of Belize. While the more popular nearby tourist town of San Pedro is ticky-tacky, like a rundown movie set of a Caribbean island, Caye Caulker is a flashback to an earlier, non-five-star-hotel era. Palm trees sway, and locals fly-fish without concern for time or timeliness. It’s not a place you go to chill out under an umbrella with a Corona – it’s a place you hit if you want to get lost. Shortly after arriving, we headed over to the Lazy Lizard at the end of the Caye and ordered a tall glass of “lizard juice,” a drink with a mysterious green hue that quickly put me in my (paralytic) happy place.
You won’t want to linger too long, because if you’re on Caye Caulker, chances are you’re going diving in the morning – and most of the boats leave at zero dark thirty. Caye Caulker is the closest inhabited island to the Great Blue Hole and Turneffe Atoll, dive sites often rated among the world’s top 10. The closest, and one of the easiest for beginners, is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, whose nutrient-rich waters wash over reef walls, attracting mega fauna like nurse sharks, eagle rays, and dolphins. Then there’s the Turneffe Atoll, where flat, calm waters hide a vertical wall that descends from 15 feet to as deep as you are able to dive. The top prize is Lighthouse Atoll, home to the Great Blue Hole. Here you swim with reef sharks, octopuses, great barracudas, and schools of hundreds of fish in a variety of species. Lighthouse Atoll is also home to Half Moon Caye, where the Belize Audubon Society has successfully created the quintessential tropical island, open for day trips and overnight tent camping, that lets you get in touch with your inner Crusoe. Belize Diving Services is the oldest dive shop on the island (founded in 1978), and is currently the only shop recognized by international Dive Agencies. As the only technical shop in Belize, it offers diver training where you can learn to safely dive up to 200ft. – allowing you to dive much deeper in the blue hole or on the Belize Barrier Reef than the deepest limits of recreational diving.
Salvaging the Costa Concordia
Almost a year ago, more than 3,000 people were relaxing aboard the opulent cruise liner Costa Concordia at the start of a week-long Mediterranean cruise. Today the ship is the subject of possibly the largest and most daunting marine salvage operation ever attempted.
On Friday 13 January 2012, the huge vessel heeled over on to its side, with more than 4,000 people on board, just off the coast of the small Italian island of Giglio.
Thirty-two passengers and crew members died in the accident, which unfolded when Capt Francesco Schettino steered the ship too close to shore while trying to show it off to islanders, and hit a rock.
Hundreds of workers are involved in the recovery operation
Pockmarked with rust smears, its once bright paintwork bleached by the sun, the hulk of the Costa Concordia makes a forlorn spectacle.
Winter storms have battered its exposed flanks, making the work of the 400-strong salvage team even more difficult.
It was originally planned that the vessel would be removed from Giglio by the spring of 2013. However, work is now expected to be complete "by the end of summer".
Much of the work so far has been preparatory.
New World Belize drilling "making steady progress"
New World Oil & Gas (LON:NEW) said the side-track of its keenly anticipated Belize well is making "steady progress".
On Monday the drill-bit had reached a depth of 10,195 feet and is bearing down on the targeted 11,880 feet as it prepares to test the Hillbank and Y3, two oil bearing formations.
The company deviated the original Blue Creek 2 well to locate what it believes is a "potentially significant trap".
New World said drilling had been deliberately controlled to maintain a gauge wellbore diameter that will maximise log quality.
City broker Shore Capital declared itself "very happy" with the headway being made.
"We continue to believe that this is an extremely exciting time for New World, and were delighted to see the initial results from Blue Creek 2," said analyst Craig Howie.
"New World intends to flow test this well following drilling of the deviated section although, in the meantime, we believe that the B Crest prospect has already been substantially derisked by earlier results, which indicate a much increased likelihood of discovering a significant oil accumulation."
In Denmark, where New World holds two onshore licences that comprise the Danica Jutland Project, the company continues to make progress.
It is over half-way through completing a 75km 3D seismic survey in the Jensen Prospect on Licence 1/09, while it is in the final stages of interpreting 2D seismic shot on Licence 1/08.
Kelleher said: "This is an exciting time for New World on a number of fronts.
"Not only will we soon find out if the first of a fully funded multi-well, drilling campaign in Belize has made a commercial hydrocarbon discovery, but we will also have the results of our latest seismic work on our Danish licences, as we look to continue to de-risk the multiple prospects we have already identified to drill-ready status."
Software founder John McAfee reportedly house hunting in Portland
He has made international headlines since going on the run from authorities in Belize late last year. Now John McAfee has turned up in the Rose City.
According to the Willamette Week, the eccentric software millionaire said he plans to call Portland his home for the next 18 months.
"Rain is good," said McAfee during a videotaped interview with the newspaper. "It cleans the streets, it makes the ambiance a little darker, I'm in a darker mood these days. I don't know why. So this is perfect. "
Mary Emily O'Hara, a freelance writer for the Willamette Week, snagged the exclusive interview with the elusive founder of the anti-virus software company that is named after him.
She sat down with McAfee at Coffee Division, an unassuming coffee shop in southeast Portland, to ask him why he chose to come to Portland.
"I like the weather. I don't like sun. Sun frightens me ," he said.
It's a strange statement, considering McAfee spent the last five years living in sunny Belize. The 67-year-old told O'Hara he arrived in Portland five days ago.
"He's an eccentric person," said O'Hara. "So I think he can really get with the whole keep Portland weird vibe."
John McAfee brings his 'Where's Waldo' act to Portland
After his deportation to the U.S., the peripatetic software millionaire says he's had it with the sun -- for now. Last time we checked, John McAfee was on the lam from, well, whoever it was that he said was after him in Belize. But the former software mogul, who was deported to the United States after fleeing to Guatemala, has decided to pitch his tent in Portland, Ore., for a while. (Assuming, of course, that he's not yanking the media's chain for kicks and giggles.)
Willamette Week snagged an interview this week with McAfee, who said he was "looking for a home here and plans to live in Portland for the next year and a half while he collaborates with local artist Chad Essley on a graphic novel about his life."
"I like the weather. I don't like the sun," he told his interviewer. "This is perfect. I've got enough sun for a while. I had five years of everyday sunny...Nothing wrong with rain, rain is good...it cleans the streets. It makes for a new ambiance, a little bit darker. I'm in a darker mood these days."
In November, police in Belize searched for McAfee, one of the pioneers of antivirus software, for questioning about the murder of his neighbor, American expat Gregory Faull. That began a monthlong case of hide-and-seek as McAfee went on the lam from the authorities, all the while telling his story to a transfixed media that he was being wrongfully persecuted by officials in Belize and that he feared for his life if he was arrested.
Thirst for Biofuels Drives Hunger in Guatemala as Corporate Land Grabs Continue
'They need food. They need land. They can’t eat biofuel, and they don’t drive cars.' The surge of biofuels is starving developing nations, and nowhere is this more clear than in Guatemala. A recent piece by New York Times reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal explores the microcosm of that nation and the havoc being wreaked on food supplies for the global poor.
In our global economy, the expansion of the biofuels industry and the American and European fuel standard mandates are driving up food prices worldwide as multi-national corporations grab up land for food-based agriculture in less developed regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Space once devoted to growing food for humans is more profitably being used to churn out monocrops like corn and sugarcane to be used as fuel.
And, as Rosenthal writes in her article As Biofuel Demand Grows, So Do Guatemala’s Hunger Pangs, "nowhere is that squeeze more obvious than in Guatemala."
Nearly 40 percent of domestic corn crops are used for US biofuel according to Think Progress, and 15 percent of the world’s supplies are consequently pushing up the price of corn and other staple foods in Guatemala.
"Just three years ago, one quetzal—about 15 cents—bought eight tortillas; today it buys only four. And eggs have tripled in price because chickens eat corn feed," Rosenthal writes