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CLICO's Duprey spent billions on Florida properties
Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

By Oscar Ramjeet:
Caribbean Net News Special Correspondent -

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad: While Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, the Bahamas, and other Caribbean islands are trying to ensure that policy holders, and investors with CL Financial, CLICO, and other subsidiaries are protected, it has been discovered that the CL Financial Chairman, Lawrence Duprey, spent billions of dollars in several high rise properties in Florida.

The Trinidad Guardian reported that Duprey went on a shopping spree in South Florida in the last five years, buying or developing up to a dozen properties and spending an estimated US$1.5 billion - some of which would have come from local pensioners, who were lured by promises of high returns from his insurance companies.

The newspaper reported that the jewel in Duprey's Florida crown is a company called DYL Development Group, which in 2005 announced more than US$1 billion in new development in South Florida.

Among the projects undertaken by the DYL group are a 50-storey condominium project called Infinity at Brickell, which has 459 residences and is located on Brickell Avenue, one of the most expensive streets in Miami; a 69-storey office office/condominium complex with 550 residences called Infinity II on Brickell Avenue; twin 23-storey towers comprising 345 hotel rooms and 171 condominium residences for a hotel in Fort Lauderdale; and a 50 unit luxury high-rise oceanfront condominium complex in Fort Lauderdale, where the prices ranged from US$900,000 to more than US$2 million.

Other properties snapped up by Duprey included 121,533 square feet of motel buildings in Fort Lauderdale. This property was bought by a company, Capri Resorts LLC for US$35 million in 2005. The property was sold to a company called Sable Resorts, which was related to the buyer, according to reports seen by the Guardian.

The investment appeared in the CL Financial annual report in 2004 as an associated company, with CL Financial holding a 26.88 percent interest. The investment does not appear in the CL Financial annual reports after 2005 and there is no mention of it being sold.

The Guardian report stated that, through a company called Dalco Properties, Duprey purchased a 1.98 acre parcel of land in Broward County in 2008 at US$92.87 per square foot. Duprey and Winston Fifi were the officers of the company in 2000, while Duprey, his wife Sylvia Baldini and Andrew Gross were listed as the officers of the company in 2008.

Also in 2008, the CL Financial group spent US$300 million buying 6,000 acres of land that is described as "rural" in Osceola County in Florida.

Duprey is the Chairman of the DYL group, whose website describes the British American Insurance Company as its "capital partner". The founding member and principal of DYL is Geoffrey Leid, who was listed as the Corporate Secretary of CLICO in the CL Financial-owned insurance company's 2007 annual report.

In 2004, another Duprey company called Colonial Development received a loan of US$45.6 million from Chicago-based Corus Bank for the Europa By-The-Sea project. In 2006, the same bank lent an affiliate of DYL Development Group US$140 million on the Infinity at Brickwell property in 2005.

Florida court records indicate that the mortgage was amended eight times between 2005 and December 2007, when the loan's maturity was extended, with US$6 million outstanding, DYL is required to pay US$2 million up front, plus a US$100,000 extension fee and US$1 million each quarter, with the total due on Sunday.

The Central Bank applied for and received an injunction last Sunday requiring that it must give its prior approval before CL Financial sells, assigns or disposes of any CLICO assets. Neither British American Insurance nor any of the Florida assets in which CL Financial may have a capital interest is included in the injunction.

February 28, 2009


February 28, 2009 | 12:42 PM Comments  {num} comments

Aliens are already here!
Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

MOSCOW. (Andrei Kislyakov for RIA Novosti) - Alien worlds may exist billions of light years away or at the bottom of your coffee cup. The latest chemical and biological research suggests that extraterrestrial life may exist all around us or even inside human bodies.

Biologists found out long ago that many microorganisms, including bacteria, can survive in the hostile space environment. University of Arizona researchers suggest that alien microorganisms travelling inside asteroids were able to withstand freezing space temperatures and searing heat during re-entry, eventually settling on the terrestrial surface. Moreover, it appears that such microorganisms are arriving all the time.

Biochemists say alien life forms could appear on Earth as a result of several evolutionary processes, and that they either dwell among us or even inside human bodies.

Scientists have started doubting the theory of evolutionary development as the primary means for creating life on this planet. New data on space microorganisms can revolutionize our understanding of the origin of life.

The extraterrestrial life concept and the theory that life on Earth may have originated in outer space would receive additional backing if scientists manage to prove that terrestrial life had gone through several evolutionary cycles.

In that case, it would be appropriate to inquire about alien life forms' hideouts, and why they have not been sighted to date.

But the point is that they are not hiding from anyone. Scientists speculate that, owing to their unusual biochemical processes, alien microorganisms can thrive in acid lakes or near volcanic fissures and cracks on the seabed. They have not been discovered yet because current biochemical methods can only detect known forms of life.

It appears that alien microorganisms ten times smaller than terrestrial bacteria may be responsible for various human diseases that still go untreated. For instance, they may cause kidney stones. However, scientists must find a way to detect these life forms, which cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Italian chemists from the University of Turin have made a sensational conclusion that numerous amino acids were probably brought to Earth from outer space and became one of the main building blocks of life.

Quantum-chemical calculations showed that amino acids originating inside gas-dust clouds deep in space could have been captured by interstellar dust and reached Earth where primary conditions for the creation of life had already existed.

Mexican scientists working in this field have confirmed the findings of their Italian colleagues. They say amino acids are not destroyed in interstellar space, and that some of these extraterrestrial compounds might have reached Earth.

It turns out that, apart from organizing highly expensive and dangerous space missions in the quest for extraterrestrial life, humankind must also focus on its home planet.

Although no traces of extraterrestrials may be found here, life might have existed on Earth long ago but had disappeared for some inexplicable reason.

Unique traces inside geological layers would enable scientists to track down alien life forms. If such microorganisms had a different metabolism, they could have influenced the chemistry of rocks or could have created mineral deposits in a way that known living organisms cannot.

This makes it imperative to explore Earth, primarily its remote areas and those with adverse living conditions, in search for new exotic life forms. It is common knowledge that 17 animal species, including previously unknown ones, become extinct every 60 minutes.

If the extraterrestrial microorganism theory is proved, it will become obvious that this planet and space have always been interlinked.

16:27 | 27/ 02/ 2009


February 27, 2009 | 4:16 PM Comments  {num} comments

House votes to ease limits on Cuba trade, travel
Related to country: Cuba

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

By Susan Cornwell:

WASHINGTON, USA (Reuters): US restrictions on trade with Cuba and family travel to the island would be eased under legislation passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday but the changes could encounter trouble in the Senate.

Supporters hope congressional action will be the first step toward reviewing and possibly reversing the decades-old US policy of shunning Cuba. Tucked into a larger spending bill, most of the changes would expire on September 30 unless there is a move to extend them by Congress or President Barack Obama.

Obama has made clear he favors relaxing limits on family travel and cash remittances by Cuban Americans to Cuba, although he has said the US trade embargo against that country should stay in place to press for democratic reforms.

The legislation approved by the House does not lift the overall embargo. But it would prohibit the Treasury Department from enforcing Bush administration rules requiring payment of cash in advance for agricultural sales to Cuba.

Analysts believe that US rice sales to Cuba will soar if the provision becomes law. Rice sales declined every year after the cash-in-advance rules were imposed in 2005, because Cuba could turn to Vietnam -- a country with which it has close ties -- for rice on easier terms.

The House-passed legislation also would provide for general licenses for travel to and from Cuba for marketing and selling agricultural products. And it would allow Americans with relatives in Cuba to travel there more frequently and for longer periods of time.

But the measure must pass the Senate before becoming law, and Florida Republican Senator Mel Martinez, a Cuban-American, opposes the changes, an aide said. Martinez could try to use Senate procedural hurdles to stop the bill.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last month the Obama administration wants to ease travel restrictions on families wishing to visit relatives in Cuba and she pledged a review of Cuba policy.

Democratic Representative Jose Serrano denied lawmakers were trying to put pressure on or get ahead of the Obama administration on Cuba policy.

A veto threat from then-President George W. Bush kept the bill from being voted on until now.

"I think if this passes and gets signed into law, it will send the message, or at least alleviate any concerns the White House may have that Congress is not on board" with easing US policy toward Cuba, Serrano said.

Francisco "Pepe" Hernandez, president of the Cuban American National Foundation, one of the leading Miami-based exile groups, said he was pleased with the House passage but worried there could be problems in the Senate, which is expected to take up the measure as soon as Friday.

"We have been asking for that since the (travel) restrictions were put in place," he said. "We believe there should be more opportunities for Cuban families to connect."

Last year, nearly one-fourth of Congress wrote to the Bush administration urging a review of Cuba policy after Fidel Castro, who seized power in a 1959 revolution, retired due to poor health. His brother Raul took over as president.

Washington broke off diplomatic ties with Havana in 1961, after Castro moved the island rapidly on a socialist path aligned with Moscow during the Cold War. The United States imposed the trade embargo in 1962.

February 26, 2009


February 26, 2009 | 10:35 PM Comments  {num} comments

Space debris, comets and asteroids threaten Earth
Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

MOSCOW. (Andrei Kislyakov for RIA Novosti) - Humankind has created a major problem: space debris, now threatening long-term space travel. So much space junk has accumulated that the international community must take urgent action to prevent major accidents at high altitude and on Earth.

Space debris denote manmade objects in orbit around Earth that no longer serve any useful purpose but which endanger operational satellites, primarily manned spacecraft. In some cases, space junk may threaten Earth during reentry because some fragments do not burn up completely and can hit houses, industrial facilities and transport networks.

Right now, 40 million fragments of space debris weighing several thousand metric tons circle Earth. In mid-February, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) reaffirmed the importance of guiding principles to prevent the formation of space debris for all nations.

On December 17, 2007, the UN General Assembly passed its Resolution 62/101 stipulating recommendations on enhancing the practice of states and international intergovernmental organizations in registering space objects.

Concerted international efforts and the dangers of hypothetical space debris crashes will make it possible for humankind to cope with this problem in the long term. However, Earth is still threatened by asteroids and various comets.

Scientists are particularly concerned about the potentially hazardous asteroid 99942 Apophis, which will fly close to Earth in 2029. Russian astronomer Sergei Smirnov said the asteroid with a diameter of 600 meters spelled nothing good for geostationary telecommunications platforms, due to be launched by that time.

In 2012, Apophis will pass close enough to Earth, enabling scientists to more accurately calculate its 2029 orbit.

Astronomers estimate that at least one out of the 100,000 small planets or asteroids, discovered since 1801, annually approaches Earth. Moreover, U.S. scientists have recently solved a discrepancy which may spell extremely negative consequences for our civilization.

It is common knowledge that a new comet annually enters the solar system. Judging by the average lifespan of comets, about 3,000 of them fly through the solar system each year. In reality, astronomers register only 25 comets.

Scientists seem to have solved this contradiction. This discrepancy between theoretical calculations and practical observations is explained by the fact that many comets cannot be detected by optical systems.

It appears that such objects are created when a celestial body's nucleus loses most of its water due to evaporation. This makes new comets too dark to be observed through optical telescopes and a potential threat to planet Earth.

The latest studies of terrestrial and lunar craters show that most of them were gouged by comets. This news is not very encouraging either.

17:04 | 25/ 02/ 2009


February 25, 2009 | 10:47 PM Comments  {num} comments

Obama administration urged to 'listen to Lugar'
Related to country: Cuba

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

WASHINGTON, USA: Calling Senator Lugar's report “a clear and convincing case against current US policy,” Sarah Stephens of the Center for Democracy in the Americas released the following statement on the report issued by the Ranking Republican Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on US-Cuba policy.

“The Lugar Report demolishes any continuing case for US-Cuba policy and offers a clear if implicit challenge to the Obama administration to make significantly greater changes in US policy toward Cuba beyond his campaign promise to lift the travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans.

“The administration should pay careful attention to what the report says about conditionality – the premise of the Obama Cuba policy – and consider a new approach based on engagement as Senator Lugar is suggesting.”

The report, authored by Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Republican Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, titled “Changing Cuba Policy – In the United States National Interest,” is scheduled for release today.

“Lugar's report calls US policy ineffective and says it fails US interests, hurts our relations with the region, prevents us from cooperating with Cuba on issues like drug interdiction that matter to both countries, and stops our country from capitalizing on developments in Cuba that would otherwise enable us to redefine the relationship in ways that would help average Cubans.

“In its place, Lugar advocates reinvigorating diplomacy, restoring travel rights, and cooperating with Cuba in areas ranging from agricultural trade and medical research to alternative energy and law enforcement. His far-reaching recommendations include direct and multilateral diplomacy, clearing Cuba for foreign aid, and dropping Cuba from the terrorism list.

“The Obama administration should listen to Lugar, and expand the boundaries of what is possible as it considers reforms in Cuba policy.

“This report clears significant political space for the President to engage with Cuba, to open travel and trade, and to repair our country's image in the region by reforming our failed Cuba policy.”

The Center for Democracy in the Americas released its study, “9 Ways for US to Talk to Cuba and for Cuba to Talk to US,” with recommendations by experts on how US policy makers could engage with Cuba in ways leading to new opportunities for diplomacy.

February 24, 2009


February 24, 2009 | 6:16 PM Comments  {num} comments

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