Archive for February 18th, 2009

Stanford and bank charged

| 18/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(AP): Federal regulators have charged Texas financier Allen Stanford and three of his firms with a "massive" fraud that centered around high-interest-rate certificates of deposit, and raided some of the companies’ offices. The bank’s chief financial officer, James Davis, and Stanford Financial Group’s chief investment officer, Laura Pendergest-Holt, were also charged in the complaint. The complaint was filed in federal court in Dallas in which the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges Stanford orchestrated a fraudulent investment scheme centered on an $8 billion CD program that promised "improbable and unsubstantiated high interest rates." Go to article.

 

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Lions recycle glasses

| 18/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Last month the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens marked the Glaucoma Awareness campaign by recycling Eyeglasses. The club packed 254 pairs of glasses for the Lions International recycling project and will continue to collect them over the coming weeks. The Lions are also urging local people to get tested in order to detect the condition at the earliest possible time to prevent severe loss of vision.

The Lions explained that Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the pressure inside the eye may or may not be elevated. This disease occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises. Without treatment, people will slowly lose their peripheral (side) vision. Over time, straight-ahead vision may decrease until no vision remains. Glaucoma can develop in one or both eyes. The most common form of the disease is open angle glaucoma.

In open angle glaucoma the normal fluid pressure inside the eye progressively increases. With glaucoma, there are no initial symptoms. Vision stays normal, and there is no pain. However, as the disease progresses, a person with glaucoma may notice his or her side vision gradually failing. That is, objects in front may still be seen clearly, but objects to the side may be missed. As the disease worsens the field of vision narrows and blindness results. Detection comes fromregular dilated pupil eye exams.
If glaucoma is detected and treated early, it usually can be controlled before severe vision loss occurs. Many people at high risk for glaucoma are unaware that they could be going blind.

The club explained that some groups are at higher risk of developing the condition such as where there is a family history of Glaucoma as it is hereditary. People over the age of sixty and those not receiving regular health care also face a higher risk. The Lions urge people to be tested as without a dilated pupil eye exam every two years, vague symptoms may go unnoticed until it’s too late and the disease has progressed to a severe stage. Many times, there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

 

 

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Crime Stoppers honours police coordinator

| 18/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The law enforcement coordinator for Cayman Crime Stoppers (CCS) has retired and a new coordinator will be announced shortly. Robert Scotland was instrumental in developing the position he has held since 2001, and to show their appreciation, CCS directors presented him with a commemorative plaque. (Left: Scotland CCS chair Stuart Bostock)

According to the crime fighting organization, Scotland was the informational link between Cayman Crime Stoppers and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service(RCIPS, giving CCS a voice within the police service while reporting back to the Crime Stoppers board of directors with data and statistics about the results of tips submitted via the programme’s anonymous tips-line, 800 TIPS.

Chairman Stuart Bostock said, “Coordinating activities between the police and Crime Stoppers is a vital component of the programme. Robert’s contribution has been invaluable in building strong ties with the RCIP and we are deeply appreciative of his hard work over the years.”

Scotland said, “This experience has been immensely rewarding for me. I hope the bonds between the Royal Cayman Islands Police and Cayman Crime Stoppers continue to strengthen.” While his recent career move means that he is no longer able to serve his community in the official role of law enforcement coordinator, the CCS board of directors has approved his subsequent nomination to rejoin them in a civilian capacity.

“I am thrilled that I am able to remain a part of this vital community service, which goes from strength to strength”, he said, adding, “I am very much looking forward to continuing the good work of Cayman Crime Stoppers in its mission to keep Cayman safe.”
 

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Artist creates YCLA awards

| 18/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Caymanian sculpture artist, Horatio Estaban, will once again be commissioned by the Young Caymanian Leadership Awards (YCLA) Committee to create five Caymanite and sandstone awards to present to each of the five finalists at the black tie televised gala this coming Saturday. Traditionally, there has been one Award larger than the rest for the recipient, who is announced live on Cayman27 the night of the event. However, this year the first Honorary YCLA will be given in tribute and memory of Estella Scott-Roberts.

The five finalists for the 2009 YCLA – Elroy Bryan, Marilyn Conolly, Chris Duggan, Sean Parchment and Raquel Solomon – will each be presented an Award for their overall leadership and commitment to being role models for the younger generation.

The 2009 Young Caymanian Leadership Awards will be held on Saturday, 21 February at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. The live telecast will begin promptly at 7:00 pm and will celebrate all young Caymanian leaders and share the successes over the past ten years.

For more information the YCLA, email ycla@candw.ky
 

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Residents say close Barkers

| 18/02/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): In the face of unsolved murders, drug abuse and gang activity troubling the residents of the West Bay district, Acting Commissioner James Smith attended his first police community meeting on Tuesday where he addressed a number of their concerns. However, the issue that dominated the night’s proceedings was the perceived need to regulate the opening of the Barkers area.

Prior to the ACP’s first meeting in the district, the West Bay Action Committee had submitted a letter to him outlining a number of concerns from the recruitment of officers from high crime jurisdictions to the level of training and a demand for K9 patrols. But their first point was regarding Barkers Point, a national park on the north coast of West Bay where the burnt out car and body of Estella Scott Roberts was found in October last year.

Angelique Howell, Area Commander for the district, explained that she had raised the community’s concerns regarding the area with the Solicitor General to interpret the law and see if the police did have the power to close the road after dark. However, she explained the SG’s position which was that this could only occur in exceptional circumstances and past crime in the area could not be used as a reason to cordon off what is in part private property. Howell said that working together with CUC and the district beautification committee, new light poles had been erected along with signs regarding littering and loitering.

While the audience seemed unconvinced that the police did not have the power to restrict access to Barkers after dark, Smith told residents to take up their concerns with the Ministry of Tourism which managed the park to see if it would supply resources to erect a barrier and supply the security staff to man the gates. “We cannot close Barkers. This sits firmly with the Minister of Tourism to put up some form of barrier,” the Commissioner stated, adding that a considerable amount of serious continuous crime would have to take place before the police could take action to close it as it was a matter of restricting people’s liberty.

However, residents felt that this was already the case. One resident from the WBAC said people were calling for it to be closed at night because they have very real concerns that drugs are being trafficked there and people were using it as a dump, not to mention the fact that Scott-Roberts’ body was found there and the police were doing nothing. “The West Bay Action Committee is not asking for it to be closed, we are asking for it to be regulated properly,” he said. “We want it closed at night from dusk till dawn.”

One committee membersaid he had been coming to police community meetings for several years and the only thing that kept on happening was more crime.

Residents raised the possibility of finding the resources themselves to close it, as they said they all feel very strongly about it. One local fisherman objected, however, as he said he used it at night to go into the area to fish.

Another issue which caused contention and saw Smith face off with residents was the recruitment of officers. Residents wanted to know who was responsible for recruiting foreign officers and why the RCIPS did not recruit Caymanian officers instead of ones they described as being from high crime jurisdictions. Smith said he would recruit the best officers for the job, no matter where they came from. He said with 120 different nationalities on the islands the police service needed to reflect that diversity. However, he did say he agreed that there were training issues and he was doing what he could to ensure that improved.

With regard to requests for a permanent K9 patrol in West Bay, Smith said he could not justify this as not only is it very expensive but there is a worldwide shortage of these kinds of dogs and finding a match to a good handler with a dog was not easy.

He reassured the community that despite the long unresolved murders in the district, the cases were not closed or cold but were still being investigated, though he said that the police needed information from the community. “Somebody out there knows something,” said Smith, emphasising the need for the community to come forward. A number of people in the audience said that residents feared for their lives and would not come forward because some police officers had a habit of telling the criminals who had tipped them off.

Smith said he was aware that the RCIPS had not always handled information well and there was a problem of keeping confidential information secure but he was addressing that problem with his joint intelligence team which he said was also assessing the gang issue to see if Cayman did have a problem with violent organised gang activity.

Howell gave a report on overall police activity in the districts and noted that while the year was less than two months old police had responded to 505 call outs and already made 102 arrests but she pointed to a 40% overall reduction in crime in the district during 2008.

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Pushing the envelope

| 18/02/2009 | 7 Comments

According to local news reports, our little band of feisty politicians had great fun in London lecturing the UK Government on how to govern a colony, and on exactly which human rights should be included in a colony’s constitution and which not.

I wonder how accurate the reports really are. It would be interesting to read the UK’s version of events. It can’t be much fun for a British Minister of State, representing sixty million people, to be lectured by MLAs and cronies representing the interests of a mere twenty thousand islanders.
Imagine the FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) lady having to listen politely to a delegation from the Isle of Anglesey or the Orkneys, demanding exemption from Britain’s human-rights obligations. Don’t ask, don’t get, of course; but it must all seem a bit cheeky, over in London.
A bit ungrateful, even. After all, British Governments have invested a great deal of time and effort in Cayman in recent times.

First, they cleared the ground for a self-supporting tax-haven industry; then they encouraged a self-supporting tourism industry. Then they cemented those arrangements by setting us up as the regional base of MI6, the FCO’s spy agency. (This last fact came to light at the infamous EuroBank trial. There’s a fascinating report in The Guardian of 18 January 2003.)

All the while, Britain guaranteed (formally or informally) the Cayman Islands Governments’ borrowings. That gave our Islands the best credit-rating in the region, allowing our politicians to spend the loan funds on giving us the best capital-infrastructure in the Caribbean. We have good reason to be grateful. Our Financial Secretary is an FCO-appointed Civil Servant, responsible to Britain through the Governor. He it is who decides how to tax us all. Our elected MLAs have some say in how Public Revenues are raised, and can recommend new taxes; but the Financial Secretary’s consent is always required.

It was the FCO – acting through an earlier Financial Secretary – who decided that Cayman’s taxes would not include an Income Tax. Or, a few decades ago, an Inheritance Tax or death duties. The Financial Secretary, guided by the FCO, composes the annual government Budgets that set down how the revenue will be spent. Sometimes the FCO, through its local appointees, authorizes expenditures outside the Budget. Constitutionally, it could decide every penny, if it wanted; but mostly it can’t be bothered, and that’s where the elected MLAs come in.

It’s in this general context that one must view the current squabble over which side of our government should pay for what. Our elected MLAs have their knickers in a twist because some of “their” money has been appropriated by the FCO to investigate policemen and judges. Did the FCO waste millions of dollars on unnecessary investigations? Maybe. Probably, for all we know. Is it a big deal, worth risking the anger of the FCO for? Probably not.

Old TV programs sometimes show old movies of the classic Keystone Kops comedies, and The Three Stooges and Tom & Jerry. Clumsy idiots running around like headless chickens into walls and through walls, bumping into each other, bashing everybody over the head with cardboard batons, and always arresting the wrong persons.

Hmmm. Remind you of anyone?

But Mr Bridger’s investigations, the settlement of Judge Henderson’s claim, the enquiry into Judge Levers, the Magic Roundabout of Police Commissioners and their Deputies… All those things are legitimate expenses of the Cayman Islands Government. It makes no sense for anybody to try to make the FCO pay for them. Cayman is a colony. The FCO is our colonial master. Our constitution, imposed on us by the British Government, doesn’t even provide for elected MLAs to reject FCO expenses.

Anyway, the screw-ups of the FCO’s men are very small beer compared with the tens of millions of dollars wasted every year by the elected MLAs on loss-making commercial ventures and bureaucratic empire-building. What about our home-grown screw-ups, such as the Cayman Airways and DOT boondoggle, Pedro’s Castle, the government Investment Bureau, and all those First Class airfares for overseas junkets. Hundreds of millions down the tubes, there. Let’s face it: the fuss about who is to pay for the Keystone Kops is pure political posturing. Like it or not, Cayman owes its entire prosperity to the FCO. We’d better watch out they don’t get mad and take it away.

If pushed hard enough, the FCO just might get irritated enough to throw up its hands and say, “The hell with it. Do what you want. We’ll take our game somewhere else.” No doubt it would be inconvenient to find a new home for MI6, but it wouldn’t be impossible. The BVI would be happy to offer a home, if it meant taking all Cayman’s tax-haven clients as part of the package. Which it would. Don’t anybody doubt that for a minute. The only doubt of importance is whether our elected MLAs (soon to be called “MPs”, for vanity’s sake) understand that the course they’re on leads directly to full independence from Britain, and what that independence would entail.

Maybe they do understand, and maybe they envisage themselves as heroic rebels against tyranny in the mold of the leaders of the American Revolution. “The British are coming! The British are coming!” Paul Revere warned in panic, galloping around the settlements. For us in Cayman, the shout may be, “The British are going!”
 

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