December 18, 2014

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Church of England announces first female bishop

libby_lane_smaller_cBy Tim Chesteruk From Mashable

LONDON — Reverend Libby Lane has been announced as the first female bishop for the Church of England.

She will become the new Bishop of Stockport, filling a post that has been vacant since May, and marking an end to years of debate within the Church.

Lane will be consecrated as the eighth bishop of the town at a ceremony at York Minster on Jan. 26. The Church of England’s parliament, the General Synod, voted to back plans for female bishops back in July, but the historic change to canon law was not formally adopted until Nov. 17.

Speaking at Stockport Town Hall, she said it was a “remarkable day for me and an historic day for the Church”.

“I’m honoured and thankful to be called to serve as the next Bishop of Stockport and not a little daunted to be entrusted with such a ministry,” “I’m honoured and thankful to be called to serve as the next Bishop of Stockport and not a little daunted to be entrusted with such a ministry,” she added.

h_51480658-640x383Mrs Lane has been the vicar at St Peter’s Hale and St Elizabeth’s Ashley, in the diocese of Chester, since 2007. Since 2010, she has also held the role of Dean of Women in Ministry for the diocese of Chester.

After attending university in Oxford, she trained for ministry at Cranmer Hall in Durham, according to her church’s website. She was ordained a deacon in 1993 and a priest in 1994, serving her curacy in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Her husband, George, is also a priest, the website says. They were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together.

David Cameron took to Twitter to congratulate Mrs Lane, calling it an important day for equality.

Women in the Church of England

According to the Church of England’s official website, the General Synod passed the motion in 1975 that “this Synod considers that there are no fundamental objections to the ordination of women to the priesthood.

However, the idea was subject to debate and it wasn’t until 12 years later, in 1987, that the first women deacons were ordained.

Five years after that, in 1992, the Church voted for women priests by a margin of just two votes following a five-and-a-half-hour debate. In 1994, the first women priests in the Church of England were ordained at Bristol Cathedral.

There are currently 7,798 priests in the Church of England, of which 1,781 are women, according to figures published by the Church.

The concept of female bishops has also been a fierce battleground, with groups of traditionalists opposed to the idea. In 2012, the measure passed in the House of Bishops and Clergy, but didn’t gain the required two-thirds majority in the House of Laity.

Revised proposals, which allow parishes to request male bishops, passed earlier this year, paving the way for this week’s appointment.

There are 100 male bishops, and 29 women bishops in the Anglican church worldwide, the BBC reports.

Churches in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already allow women as bishops, although none have appointed one so far.


Rev Libby Lane delivers a speech inside Stockport town hall after the announcement by the Church of England that she will be appointed as the first female bishop, 17 December 2014.IMAGE: LYNNE CAMERON/EPA

Members of the Church of England’s Synod vote on the consecration of women bishops at The University of York, northern England, 14 July 2014. IMAGE: NIGEL RODDIS/EPA

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Obama announces U.S. and Cuba will resume relations

18GROSS-articleLargeBy Peter Bakerdec. From The New York Times

The president outlined the steps the United States would take to “end an outdated approach” and begin to normalize relations with Cuba.

WASHINGTON — The United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years, President Obama announced on Wednesday.

In a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, who hosted a final meeting at the Vatican, Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba agreed in a telephone call to put aside decades of hostility to find a new relationship between the United States and the island nation just 90 miles off the American coast.

“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” Mr. Obama said in a nationally televised statement from the White House. The deal will “begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas” and move beyond a “rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”

The surprise announcement represented a dramatic turning point in more than five decades of hostility born in the depths of the Cold War and yet frozen in time long after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Once a geopolitical flash point, the Cuba-America relationship has been a thorn in the side of multiple presidents and even now generated fierce criticism from those who equated a diplomatic thaw to appeasement of the hemisphere’s leading dictatorship.

Mr. Obama has long expressed hope of transforming relations with the island nation, an aspiration that remained untenable as long as Cuba held Alan P. Gross, the American government contractor arrested in 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison. In agreeing to free him, Cuba cleared the way for Mr. Obama to take a political risk with the last national election of his presidency behind him.

Mr. Gross traveled on an American government plane back to the United States late Wednesday morning, and the United States sent back three Cuban spies who had been in an American prison since 2001. American officials said the Cuban spies were swapped for a United States intelligence agent who had been in a Cuban prison for nearly 20 years, and said Mr. Gross was not technically part of the swap, but was released separately on “humanitarian grounds.”

In addition, the United States will ease restrictions on remittances, travel and banking relations, and Cuba will release 53 Cuban prisoners identified as political prisoners by the United States government. Although the decades-old American embargo on Cuba will remain in place for now, the president called for an “honest and serious debate about lifting” it, which would require an act of Congress.

“These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s time for a new approach.”

Addressing critics of his new approach, he said he shares their commitment to freedom. “The question is how we uphold that commitment,” he said. “I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.”

Mr. Castro spoke simultaneously on Cuban television, taking to the airwaves with no introduction and announcing that he had spoken by telephone with Mr. Obama.

“We have been able to make headway in the solution of some topics of mutual interest for both nations,” he announced, emphasizing the release of the three Cubans. “President Obama’s decision deserves the respect and acknowledgment of our people.”

Only afterward did he mention the reopening of diplomatic relations. “This in no way means that the heart of the matter has been resolved,” he said. “The economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes enormous human and economic damages to our country, must cease.” But, he added, “The progress made in our exchanges proves that it is possible to find solutions to many problems.”

Mr. Castro acknowledged that Mr. Obama was easing the blockade through his executive authority and called on the United States government to go further to “remove the obstacles that impede or restrict the links between our peoples, the families and the citizens of both our countries.”

Mr. Gross, accompanied by his wife, Judy, and three members of Congress, landed at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington shortly before noon. His sister, Bonnie Rubinstein, was “beyond ecstatic” at the news, according to her husband, Harold. “We are extremely grateful that he’s on his way home,” Mr. Rubinstein said by telephone from Dallas. “It’s been a long ordeal.”

Secretary of State John Kerry landed at Andrews shortly afterward and met with Mr. Gross, his wife, other members of his family and his lawyer, Scott Gilbert. While the meeting was unplanned, a State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said it gave Mr. Kerry a chance to “express his overwhelming happiness that Alan Gross is now free and reunited with his family on American soil.”

At a news conference in Washington, Mr. Gross said he supported Mr. Obama’s move toward normalizing relations with Cuba, adding that his own ordeal and the injustice with which Cuban people have been treated were “a consequence of two governments’ mutually belligerent policies.”

“Five and a half decades of history show us that such belligerence inhibits better judgment. Two wrongs never make a right,” Mr. Gross said. “This is a game-changer, which I fully support.”

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida and a son of Cuban immigrants who may run for president in 2016, denounced the new policy as “another concession to a tyranny” and a sign that Mr. Obama’s administration is “willfully ignorant of the way the world truly works.”

“This whole new policy is based on an illusion, on a lie, the lie and the illusion that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people,” Mr. Rubio said. “All this is going to do is give the Castro regime, which controls every aspect of Cuban life, the opportunity to manipulate these changes to stay in power.”

Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, was also sharply critical. “Let’s be clear, this was not a ‘humanitarian’ act by the Castro regime. It was a swap of convicted spies for an innocent American,” Mr. Menendez said in a written statement. “President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”

Mr. Obama spoke with Mr. Castro by telephone on Tuesday to finalize the agreement in a call that lasted more than 45 minutes, the first direct contact between the leaders of the two countries in more than 50 years, American officials said.

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba were severed in January 1961 after the rise of Fidel Castro and his Communist government. Mr. Obama has instructed Mr. Kerry to immediately initiate discussions with Cuba about re-establishing diplomatic relations and to begin the process of removing Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, which it has been on since 1982, the White House said.

Officials said they would re-establish an embassy in Havana and carry out high-level exchanges and visits between the two governments within months. Mr. Obama will send an assistant secretary of state to Havana next month for talks on Cuban-American migration and will attend a Summit of the Americas along with Mr. Castro. The United States will begin working with Cuba on issues like counternarcotics, environmental protection and human trafficking.

The United States will also ease travel restrictions across all 12 categories currently envisioned under limited circumstances in American law, including family visits, official visits, journalistic, professional, educational and religious activities, and public performances, officials said. Ordinary tourism, however, will remain prohibited.

Mr. Obama will also allow greater banking ties, making it possible to use debit cards in Cuba, and raise the level of remittances allowed to be sent to Cuban nationals to $2,000 every three months from the current limit of $500. Intermediaries forwarding remittances will no longer require a specific license from the government.

American travelers will also be allowed to import up to $400 worth of goods from Cuba, including up to $100 in tobacco and alcohol products.

The Vatican hailed the agreement. “The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history,” it said in a statement.

Mr. Gross’s health has been failing. He reportedly lost more than 100 pounds in prison and is losing vision in his right eye. He went on a nine-day hunger strike in April. After turning 65 in May, he told relatives that he might try to kill himself if not released soon.

Three members of Congress were on the plane that picked up Mr. Gross in Cuba on Wednesday and accompanied him back to the United States, officials said: Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, and Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland.

Mr. Gross was in Cuba to deliver satellite telephone equipment that was capable of cloaking connections to the Internet when he was arrested in 2009. The Cuban authorities, who tightly control access to the Internet in their country, initially said he was a spy, and a court there convicted him of bringing in the devices without a permit as part of a subversive plot to “destroy the revolution.”

Mr. Gross’s case drew increasing attention as his health deteriorated. He grew despondent and talked of suicide, and his wife, Judy Gross, and other supporters made urgent pleas for his release, but off-and-on diplomatic talks seemed to go nowhere.

Cuba has often raised the case of three of its spies serving federal prison time in Florida, saying they had been prosecuted unjustly and urging that they be released on humanitarian grounds. State Department officials insisted that the cases were not comparable and that Mr. Gross was not an intelligence agent.

The three Cuban agents were part of the Red Avispa, or the Wasp Network, in Florida along with two other Cuban agents. Mr. Obama used his clemency power to commute their sentences, and they were flown to Cuba by the United States Marshals Service, according to the Justice Department.

The unnamed United States intelligence agent traded for them returned to American soil on Wednesday as well. That agent, described by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence only as “a Cuban individual,” has been imprisoned in Cuba for nearly two decades.

Officials said he was instrumental in identifying the Cuban agents who were sent back on Wednesday. Separately, he also provided information that led to the conviction of Ana Belén Montes, a Defense Intelligence Agency senior analyst; Walter Kendall Myers, a former State Department official; and his wife, Gwendolyn Myers.

“In light of his sacrifice on behalf of the United States, securing his release from prison after 20 years — in a swap for three of the Cuban spies he helped put behind bars — is fitting closure to this Cold War chapter of U.S.-Cuban relations,” the intelligence director’s office said in a statement.

Mr. Gross worked for Development Alternatives, of Bethesda, Md., and had traveled to more than 50 countries as an international development worker. The company had a $6 million contract with the United States Agency for International Development to distribute equipment that could get around Cuba’s Internet blockade, and Mr. Gross had made four previous trips to Cuba in 2009.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the former New Mexico governor and cabinet secretary Bill Richardson and several members of Congress appealed for Mr. Gross’s release, along with Jewish advocacy groups in the United States.

After visiting Mr. Gross in November, Mr. Flake and a longtime advocate of loosening the 50-year-old American trade embargo with Cuba, said he was optimistic that the case would be resolved.

American lawmakers who have drawn attention to Mr. Gross’s case celebrated his departure from Cuba. “Today, news of Alan’s release brings great relief to his loved ones and to every American who has called for his freedom,” said Senator Jerry Moran, Republican of Kansas. “I admire Alan’s strength and that of his wife Judy, who has worked tirelessly for years to free Alan and reunite her family.”

The American government has spent $264 million over the last 18 years, much of it through the development agency, in an effort to spur democratic change in Cuba. The agency said in November that it would cease the kinds of operations that Mr. Gross was involved in when he was arrested, as well as those, disclosed by The Associated Press, that allowed a contractor to set up a Twitter-like social network that hid its ties to the United States government.



Alan P. Gross, center, prepared to speak at his lawyer’s office in Washington on Wednesday. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

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A fund with the ticker ‘CUBA’ is exploding higher

By Dan Burns, Reuters From Business Insider

Shares of the Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund jumped by more than 20 percent on record volume on Wednesday morning following reports that the Obama administration was preparing to announce sweeping changes to U.S. policy about Cuba.

The fund, a closed-end mutual fund listed on Nasdaq under the ticker “CUBA,” holds stocks and assets that fund manager Thomas Herzfeld believes would benefit from an eventual end to the U.S. economic embargo againstCuba.

In early trading, shares of the fund shot to as high as $8.61, their highest in nearly at year, from the previous day’s close of $6.81, a two-month low. They last traded at $8.08.

Volume topped 3.65 million shares, by far a record amount of trading, compared with a daily average of around 11,000.

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Red Bay’s Under 11s surprise previously undefeated Savannah

pflplayoffs 131214 03The second round of the 2014/2015 CUC Primary Football League (PFL) Playoffs concluded this past Saturday, December 13 with a number of very exciting games along with a few surprises in the Under 9 and Under 11 Consolation and Champions Cups.

In addition, the inaugural CUC Girls’ Primary Football League (GPFL) came to a conclusion with the final between Sir John A. Cumber Primary and St. Ignatius Prep.

In the Under 9 Consolation Cup, Truth For Youth defeated Bodden Town Primary 6-0 and Triple C held off George Town Primary 3-2.

In the PFL Under 9 Champions Cup, Cayman Prep kept their undefeated record intact with a 4-1 victory over Cayman International School; St. Ignatius Prep drew 1-1 with Prospect Primary; Savannah Primary defeated Red Bay Primary 3-1 and Sir John A. Cumber Primary secured their second win in a row in the Playoffs with a 2-0 victory over North East Schools.

In the Under 11 Consolation Cup, Cayman International School opened their 2014/2105 Playoff campaign with a 4-1 victory over Prospect Primary and Bodden Town Primary defeated George Town Primary 4-2.

In the Under 11 Champions Cup, Cayman Prep blanked Truth For Youth 6-0; Sir John A. Cumber Primary bounced back from their surprise first round loss to Triple C with a 2-1 victory over North East Schools and St. Ignatius Prep scored late to secure a 2-1 win over Triple C.

In the Under 11 Champions Cup ‘game of the day’ Red Bay Primary’s Dequan Messam scored in the last two minutes to secure a famous 1-0 win over previously undefeated Savannah Primary. The win was Red Bay’s second successive victory in the Playoffs following a 2-1 win over St. Ignatius Prep in the first round.

The win elevated Red Bay Primary to second place in the Under 11 Champions Cup playoff standings, two points behind current leaders Cayman Prep and one point above Savannah Primary with two more rounds to go.

To conclude the day’s activities, an undefeated Sir John A. Cumber Primary faced St. Ignatius Prep in the final of the GPFL.

The two schools had previously met during round two of the regular season in early October with the young ladies from West Bay coming out on top by a score of 5-0.

Eager to avoid a second successive defeat at the hands of their counterparts, St. Ignatius Prep started the game very brightly by spraying passes wide in an attempt to keep the ball away from the always dangerous Sir John A. Cumber midfielders and attackers.

In Stoyanna Stewart, Sir John A. Cumber possess a very talented, natural goal scorer who would not be denied for very long. Miss Stewart blasted her team in front in the 13th minute and added a second in the 27th minute to make the score 2-0 going into half time.

Allison Juarez added a third in the 31st minute to secure the victory and the inaugural 2014/2015

CUC GPFL League Championship for Sir John A. Cumber Primary.



For her efforts and two goals in the final, Stoyanna Stewart was presented with the Marie Martin

Most Valuable Player Award from the award’s namesake, Miss Marie Martin.

Sir John A. Cumber’s captain Lily Powery received the League Championship trophy on behalf of her team, while Shayanna Windsor collected the League Runner-Up trophy for St. Ignatius Prep. Cayman Prep finished third and NorthEast Schools rounded out the top four.

Special thanks to the PFL’s young officials David Conolly, Joshua Frederick, Ernie Jacques, Shakur Welcome, Leo Ebanks and Matthew Suberan for officiating all the days games.

The PFL Playoffs will take a break for the holidays and resume on Saturday, January 10 at the Annex Field with the third round of games.


Fare-dodging banker banned from City

_79740118_de24-1By Joe Miller Business reporter, BBC News

Mr Burrows has since paid back the £42,550, plus £450 in legal costs.

A London banker who regularly avoided buying a train ticket on his commute to the City has been banned from working in the financial services industry.

BlackRock director Jonathan Paul Burrows was caught by inspectors at Cannon Street station last year and admitted to avoiding the £21.50 fare from Stonegate in East Sussex.

In total, Mr Burrows is believed to have dodged £42,550 in fares.

The City watchdog said he “demonstrated a lack of honesty and integrity”.

“Mr Burrows has admitted that, on a number of occasions, he deliberately and knowingly failed to purchase a valid ticket to cover his entire journey,” the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said.

_79747360_79747355“As Mr Burrows held a senior position within the financial services industry and was an approved person, he should have been a role model for others and his conduct has fallen short of the standard expected for someone in his position,” the organisation added.

Mr Burrows boarded trains at Stonegate in East Sussex, where there are no ticket barriers

Mr Burrows avoided paying the full fare by boarding the London-bound train at Stonegate – a rural station with no barriers – without purchasing a ticket.

On arriving in London, he went through the barriers at Cannon Street Station using an Oyster travel card, incurring a maximum fare of £7.20.

‘I was foolish”

Mr Burrows, who is now banned for life from working in any regulated financial industries, has since paid back the £42,550, plus £450 in legal costs.

Reacting to the FCA’s decision, he said: “I have always recognised that what I did was foolish. I have apologised to all concerned and reiterate that apology publicly.”

However he added that “the size of the settlement [with Southeastern] could be said to have led to a distorted perception of the scale of my wrongdoing”.

“While I respect the FCA’s decision today, I also regret it, coming as it did after a 20-year career in the City that was without blemish.

“I recognise that the FCA has on its plate more profound wrongdoing than mine in the financial services sector, and I am sorry that my case has taken up its time at this critical juncture for the future of the City and its reputation.”


BlackRock director Jonathan Paul Burrows

Stonegate in East Sussex

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CONCACAF Announces 2015 Gold Cup host cities, venues, group seeds and group stage dates

concacaf-gold-cup-2013Canada to host Gold Cup games for first time; USA, Costa Rica & Mexico announced as seeded nations; holiday packages and exclusive presale offering now available

MIAMI (Tuesday, December 16, 2014) – The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) announced today the 13 North American cities – Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Toronto – that will welcome the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, next July 7-26. Venues, group seeds and group stage dates for the Gold Cup were also announced.

The region’s marquee national team tournament will again call on world-class venues for next year’s edition, including a mix of NFL stadiums across the country, along with soccer-specific stadiums home to Major League Soccer teams.

“We would like to thank all cities and venues across the United States – and in fact North America as a whole –for their continued interest in our Confederation’s marque event, the Gold Cup. We congratulate those which have been selected to host the 2015 edition,” said CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb. “The explosive growth of the game across CONCACAF has been on display recently on the world’s stage, and we now look forward to bringing this success home to our regional fans during our premier tournament.”

GoldCupSoccer072114sh64Eleven of next year’s host venues have hosted previous editions of the Gold Cup: the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA (2013); M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD (2013); StubHub Center in Carson, CA (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011); Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC (2011); Soldier Field in Chicago, IL (2007, 2009, 2011, 2013); MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ (2011); Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009); BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, TX (2013); Sporting Park in Kansas City, KS (2011); Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA (2009) and the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ (2009). Years in parenthesis denote previous years in which Gold Cup matches were played at each venue.

Dallas’ Toyota Stadium – site of the kickoff for Gold Cup 2015 – and Toronto’s BMO Field will host Gold Cup games for the first time. The matches in Canada will mark the first time the Confederation’s flagship national team event has visited Canadian soil.

The historic Canada doubleheader became a reality thanks to the excellent relationship between CONCACAF and PASO (the Pan American Sports Organization), which cleared the use of the Toronto venue which is also being utilized for the Toronto 2015 Pan American games.


The dates for Gold Cup matches scheduled for each group stage city were also announced, as well as the seeded nations which will head up each group: the United States (Group A), Costa Rica (Group B), and Mexico (Group C). Seeded teams were determined based on current FIFA rankings.

The United States will kick off the 2015 Gold Cup in Dallas’ Toyota Stadium on July 7, before moving on with the rest of Group A to Boston (Gillette Stadium, July 10) and Kansas City (Sporting Park, July 13).

Costa Rica, the seeded team in Group B, begins play in Carson, CA (StubHub Center, July 8), then moves on to Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium (July 11) and Toronto’s BMO Field (July 14).

Mexico will anchor Group C and play in Chicago (Soldier Field) on July 9, Phoenix (University of Phoenix Stadium, July 12) and Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium on July 15.

The Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA), Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA), M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, MD) and MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ) will all host knockout round dates. Complete groups and schedule, including selection of dates and assignment of matches for the knockout round and the awarding of the Final, will be announced in early 2015.

To date, eleven of the twelve national teams scheduled to participate have qualified for next year’s tournament. Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and the United States, in alphabetical order, will compete for the Confederation Crown in July.

The final spot will be decided in March of next year through a play-in series between the fifth-place finisher of the 2014 UNCAF Central American Cup (Honduras) and the 2014 Caribbean Football Union Caribbean Cup (French Guyana). French Guyana will be home team for the first leg on March 25, while Honduras will host the return leg on March 29.

Taking place every two years, the Gold Cup is the official national team championship of the region, routinely drawing capacity crowds and millions of television viewers across the region. Featuring the highest-level players from across the confederation, the tournament includes the three previous Gold Cup champions – Canada (1 Gold Cup), Mexico (6), and the U.S. (5) – as well as the top finishers from the most recent Central American and Caribbean championship tournaments.

Holiday Packages & Exclusive Presale Offering

For the holiday season and for a limited time, special gift packages ‘Give the Gift of Gold Cup’ will be available, including a $25 ticket voucher to any 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup gameday and an official CONCACAF Gold Cup T-Shirt. Fans are encouraged to click here for more information.

Also, for fans interested in being part of an exclusive pre-sale offering for any Gold Cup gameday in 2015, click here for more information.

2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup Host Cities & Venues

HOST CITY – VENUE (Venue Location)

Seeded Nations

Group A – United States

Group B – Costa Rica

Group C – Mexico

Group Round

July 7 (Group A) – Dallas – Toyota Stadium (Frisco, TX)

July 8 (Group B) – Los Angeles – StubHub Center (Carson, CA)

July 9 (Group C) – Chicago – Soldier Field (Chicago, IL)

July 10 (Group A) – Boston – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, MA)

July 11 (Group B) – Houston – BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston, TX)

July 12 (Group C) – Phoenix – University of Phoenix Stadium (Phoenix, AZ)

July 13 (Group A) – Kansas City – Sporting Park (Kansas City, KS)

July 14 (Group B) – Toronto – BMO Field (Toronto, ON)

July 15 (Group C) – Charlotte – Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)

Knockout Round Venues (alphabetical order by city)

Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA)

M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, MD)

MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ)

Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)

2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup Qualified Team

Canada (Automatic Qualifier)

Mexico (Automatic Qualifier)

United States (Automatic Qualifier)

Costa Rica (Winner – 2014 Copa Centroamericana UNCAF)

Guatemala (Runner-up – 2014 Copa Centroamericana UNCAF)

Panama (Third Place – 2014 Copa Centroamericana UNCAF)

El Salvador (Fourth Place – 2014 Copa Centroamericana UNCAF)

Jamaica (Winner – 2014 CFU Caribbean Cup)

Trinidad & Tobago (Runner-Up – 2014 CFU Caribbean Cup)

Haiti (Third Place – 2014 CFU Caribbean Cup)

Cuba (Fourth Place – 2014 CFU Caribbean Cup)

French Guyana or Honduras (CFU/UNCAF Play-in Winner)


CONCACAF “The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football” is one of six continental confederations of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and serves as the governing body of football in this part of the world. It is composed of 41 national associations, from Canada in the north to Guyana, Surinam and French Guyana in the south. For more information please visit

About the CONCACAF Gold Cup

The CONCACAF Gold Cup is the national team championship for the confederation’s 41 members. Taking place every two years, the event has attained exceptional levels of popularity, routinely drawing capacity crowds and millions of TV viewers throughout the world. If other than 2013 Gold Cup Champion USA, the champion of the 2015 Gold Cup will earn half a ticket to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, facing the USA in a single-game playoff for the right to represent CONCACAF in that FIFA competition.



Mourant Ozannes funds lawyer ranked in top five offshore private funds experts

GavinFarrell.JPEG-460-x-250By James Qualtrough From Isle News

Funds specialist Gavin Farrell, partner at offshore law firm Mourant Ozannes, has continued to be recognised in the top five of global offshore funds experts according to the Who’s Who Private Funds legal market place analysis.

The latest Private Funds research, published by Who’s Who Legal, is comprised of 459 practitioners from 164 firms in 45 countries who are considered leaders in their field. The research highlights just three offshore law firms, including Mourant Ozannes, as leading global offshore players and also selects the most highly regarded individuals in the world, including the top five lawyers in New York, London and offshore. Gavin Farrell has been selected in the top five offshore lawyers alongside peers from the Cayman Islands, Channel Islands and Luxembourg.

Partner in the Guernsey funds team, Gavin was praised for his “highly respected” practice which is described as “the offshore practice of choice” by clients who appreciate his “creative, purposeful and solutions-driven approach.” Ten Mourant Ozannes funds experts around the globe are also recognised as leading lawyers by the research including Neal Lomax, partner in the Cayman Islands, described as “one of very best in the Caymans”, Ben Robins, head of funds in Jersey, “a consistently reliable source of advice on the most complex and demanding transactions,” and Robert Duggan, managing partner of the London office who is known to have “a profound commercial awareness that separates him from most.”

Commenting on this nomination Gavin said: “While it is flattering to receive such accolades, these awards can only be achieved through the assistance, dedication, help and support of all my colleagues in our department. Only this collective effort leads to new clients or existing clients continuing to instruct us as a firm.”

Who’s Who Legal is a global publication identifying the leading lawyers in multiple areas of business law. Who’s Who places heavy emphasis on feedback from clients who work with the firms involved, in order to compile their research.

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ALBA celebrates 10th anniversary


ALBA celebrates 10th anniversary, plans to move toward economic integration

From FoxNews Latino

The Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America, or ALBA, celebrated its 10th anniversary Sunday with an eye toward moving toward the economic integration of its members, welcoming two new Caribbean members and paying tribute to founders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

“Exactly a decade ago, ALBA was born in Havana as the result of the political vision and unifying will of (former Cuban President) Fidel (Castro) and (late Venezuelan President Hugo) Chavez, the authors of this epoch of changes that today all our peoples and their political elites are experiencing,” said Cuban President Raul Castro, the host of the 13th ALBA summit.

Although the conference lasted a mere five hours and its main participants were the presidents of the Bolivarian alliance – including Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega – also in attendance were the heads of the Caribbean nations of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was not on hand, but he sent his vice president, Jorge Glas, to represent him.

Emerging from the meeting was a 43-point declaration that included expressions of solidarity for Venezuela and Cuba in the face of “destabilizing attacks” by the United States, and condemnations both of the economic embargo on the communist island as well as the new sanctions imposed by the U.S. Congress on Caracas.

“The countries of ALBA will not allow the utilization of the old policies already implemented in the region directed toward fostering political regime change, as has occurred in other nations of the world,” the document said.

On the economic front, the Cuban president said that, in the spirit of building a “new financial architecture,” the bloc will push for a “complementary economic zone” that will integrate all the ALBA, PetroCaribe and Mercosur nations, a project promoted by Venezuela.

Regarding this initiative, Maduro said that the common space would be “a great economic zone of production chains, fair and balanced commerce, investment and technological advancements.”

The ALBA nations also make up part of the PetroCaribe alliance, along with other regional countries to whom Caracas supplies oil at cut-rate prices, although the recent plunge in the price of petroleum was not discussed.

Cuban Foreign Minister also read to the assembled leaders a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who praised the alliance as an “effective organization” and said “I want to confirm (Russia’s) interest in continuing to broaden our dialogue and practical interaction” with the ALBA nations.

The island nations of St. Kitts & Nevis and Grenada were welcomed as the alliance’s newest members, bringing the number of nations comprising it to 11.

No significant agreements emerged from the summit, although tributes were paid to Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, with Sunday’s gathering commemorating the first meeting between those two leaders in 1994 and the pair signing the treaty constituting the alliance 10 years later on Dec. 14, 2004. EFE

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Venezuela’s Maduro: ‘Only with a Common Path Can We Advance’

alba_summit_in_havana_2014.jpg_1718483346From telesur

Heads of state and government representatives from ALBA member states begin discussions to strengthen regional economic and political cooperation.

On the 10th anniversary of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), member nations have gathered in Havana, Cuba to commemorate the founding of the regional organization and to discuss the future of Latin American and Caribbean solidarity and cooperation.

Cuban President Raul Castro gave the opening words for the event citing the origins of ALBA’s founding. ‘‘Exactly a decade ago ALBA was born in Havana out of the political and integrationist willingnes of leaders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez…Today we commemorate as well the 20th anniversary of the first meeting between Fidel and Chavez that started an endearing friendship.’’

Later, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro commended ALBA for its decade long achievements while also acknowledging the challenges of the work to come. He expressed, ‘‘We have advanced but we can advance more… In ten years what should our priority be? Economic.’’

Maduro stressed the importance of building a regional economic bloc and continue to build common economic structures. ‘’Colonialism and neo-colonialism have directed us to take our own economic paths. Everyone for themselves … This is destined to fail. We have to build a common path. Only with a common path can we advance.’’

Maduro also gave thanks to ALBA’s quick response and support in light of recent news of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, and Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit expressed his country’s unwavering support and solidarity to the people of Venezuela and Cuba. “I am here to tell you, dear presidents of Venezuela and Cuba, our commitment is unwavering. An attack against Cuba, against Venezuela is an attack against the Caribbean and Latin America.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales was among the first to speak at the gathering. Morales urged ALBA nations to take significant steps toward saving the planet. Citing the debates underway in Peru for the COP 20, Morales said, “We have a very important responsibility. We can deabte internally and propose a first draft to the world on how to save the earth…We are convinced that human beings cannot live without the planet.”

At this year’s summit, Grenada and Saint Kitts and Nevis are also expected to be approved for full membership status.

Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, Saint Vicente and the Grenadines, Surinam and Venezuela are ALBA member states. Haiti, Iran, Syria, Honduras and El Salvador are observer states for the organization.

IMAGE: Cuban President Raul Castro (L) and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (R) in the XIII ALBA summit in Havana, 2014. | Photo: EFE

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Cayman Islands MOE announce Overseas Scholarship Information Session

The Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs and the Scholarship Secretariat will be hosting an information session for overseas scholarship applicants on Thursday, December 18th, 2014 at the George Town Public Library, 3rd Floor, Conference Room from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.


Cayman Islands Beach Bash flag football tournament announced

Hellcats2The Cayman Islands Flag Football Association has announced it is staging its sixth annual competition, Beach Bash 6, on Jan 3rd at the Public Beach from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. The event was initially scheduled for Dec 6th.

The one-day tournament will comprise coed teams competing in a 4-on-4 format, with squads consisting of three men and three women as rosters will be capped at six players. Registration fee is $100 per team with proceeds going toward the association’s Christmas toy drive.

Last year’s event, sponsored by Rubis, attracted 12 teams and featured notable players such as Ryan Smith. The Parkers, who featured Cueme Parker, beat Burger Shack for the championship.

The association will use the Beach Bash to tip off its 2015 slate of competitions. International action will come first with Cayman sending male and female national teams to the 44th annual U.S. Flag and Touch League National Flag Football Championships. Local players will compete in Kissimmee, Florida, on Jan. 16-18.

After that comes The Security Centre Ltd. 2015 Youth Flag Football League. The competition, which is slated to start in January, caters to kids ages 7-17 and is designed to grow the sport’s appeal amongst the youth.

The 2014 season attracted 180 boys and girls to the Camana Bay Sports Field across three divisions: junior (ages 7-9), middle (10-13) and senior (14-17).

Adults will take the field again in February with the 2015 Burger King Coed League. Ed Bush field in West Bay is expected to host games on Friday nights starting in February. The 2014 competition attracted 20 teams across two divisions.

IMAGE: Hellcats after winning their 8th Premier League title

The Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund, Inc. announces results of heavily oversubscribed rights offering

herzfeld-CUBA-fund_thumbMIAMI BEACH, FL, Dec 08, 2014 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — The Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund, Inc. CUBA, -1.54% (the “Fund”) is pleased to announce the completion and success of its one-for-three non-transferable rights offering which expired on December 4, 2014, in which more than 1.8 million shares of common stock will be issued, totaling approximately $12.1 million. Under the terms of the rights offering, shareholders of record October 9, 2014, were entitled to subscribe for one newly issued common share of the Fund for every three rights they held. In accordance with the terms of the rights offering, the subscription price of $6.77 per share represents 95% of the average volume-weighted closing sale price at which the common stock of the Fund traded on the NASDAQ Capital Market on December 4, 2014, and the preceding four trading days. The Offer expired at 5:00 PM Eastern Time on December 4, 2014.

Preliminary results received from the Fund’s subscription agent indicate that the Fund received total subscriptions of approximately $26.5 million (including over-subscription requests and notices of guaranteed delivery) for approximately 312% of the 1,237,690 shares available to be issued pursuant to the primary subscription. Under the terms detailed in the prospectus for the rights offering, shareholders who exercised their full primary subscription rights were eligible for an over-subscription privilege entitling them to subscribe for additional shares, subject to certain limitations, including any primary shares not otherwise subscribed and additional shares of up to 50% of the primary shares offered. Over-subscription requests will be allocated pro-rata among those record date stockholders who over-subscribed based on the number of rights originally issued to them by the Fund.

The Fund would like to thank its shareholders for their participation in this very successful rights offering.

This press release is not an offer to sell these securities and the Fund is not soliciting an offer to buy these securities in any state where the offer or sale is not permitted. The Offer will be made only by means of a prospectus. A registration statement with respect to the rights and the shares of commons stock to be issued upon exercise of the rights has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and has been declared effective.

For additional information on the Fund or the Rights Offering, or to obtain a Prospectus, please contact the Fund at 800-TJH-FUND or visit us on the web at

The Fund is a non-diversified, closed-end fund managed by HERZFELD/CUBA, a division of Thomas J. Herzfeld Advisors, Inc. (based in Miami Beach). The Fund seeks long-term capital appreciation. To achieve its objective the Fund invests in issuers that are likely, in the Advisor’s view, to benefit from economic, political, structural and technological developments in countries in the Caribbean Basin, which the Fund considers to consist of Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Aruba, Haiti, the Netherlands Antilles, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and the United States (Caribbean Basin Countries).

Investments in the Fund involve risks. Investing in companies of Caribbean Basin Countries may present certain unique risks not associated with domestic investments, such as currency fluctuation, political and economic changes and market risks. These factors may result in greater share price volatility.

Shares of closed-end funds frequently trade at a discount to their net asset value (NAV). The price of the Fund’s shares is determined by a number of factors, several of which are beyond the control of the Fund. Therefore, the Fund cannot predict whether its shares will trade at, below or above NAV.

Before investing in the Fund, investors should carefully consider the investment objective, risks, and charges and expenses of the Fund. This information can be found in the Fund’s prospectus on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. An investor should carefully read the Fund’s prospectus before investing.

Participating stockholders will be required to initially pay for the Shares subscribed for in the offer as well as any additional shares subscribed for as part of the over-subscription privilege at the estimated subscription price.

The Fund’s investment adviser is HERZFELD/CUBA, a division of Thomas J. Herzfeld Advisors, Inc. and the Fund’s shares trade on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbol “CUBA.” Thomas J. Herzfeld Advisors, Inc. specializes in the field of closed-end funds. Information about the investment adviser and the Fund can be found at

NASDAQ Capital Market: CUBA Cusip: 42804T106

For further information contact:

Reanna Lee


Thomas J. Herzfeld Advisors, Inc.

119 Washington Avenue, Suite 504

Miami Beach, FL 33139

SOURCE: The Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund, Inc.