Archive for March 10th, 2009

Woman safe after abduction at knifepoint

| 10/03/2009 | 24 Comments

(CNS): UPDATED: Police have confirmed that they have taken the car into evidence which belongs to the 29-year-old woman who was abducted on Monday evening by a man armed with a knife in the vicinity of Caribbean Bakery on Mount Pleasant Road. Although the car belonged to the victim  she was forced by her attacker to drive it to the Barkers area before she escaped uninjured. Police said the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at approximately 8:20 pm on Monday, 9 March,from a member of the public reporting that they had found a woman in a distressed state in the vicinity of Pappagallo Restaurant, West Bay.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) responded to the scene and found the woman in a very distressed condition. She has since told officers that she was driving home when she stopped at the Caribbean Bakery. She says that when she got back into her vehicle, there was a man armed with a knife inside. She told police that he forced her to drive into the Barkers area where he told her to get out of the car. The woman then ran away.

“This woman has been exceptionally brave,” said Acting Chief Superintendent Marlon Bodden. “What happened to her must have been terrifying and the incident is being taken extremely seriously.” Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department are conducting an enquiry and Bodden said he was determined to find the man who did this. “We have a team of officers working on this case,” he said.

The suspect is described as around 6-foot tall, of slim build and dark complexion, and he was wearing dark clothes. Anyone who was in the West Bay area, in particular in the area of the Batabano Plaza or the Caribbean Bakery between 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm, who may have seen something suspicious, is asked to contact George Town CID on 949-4222.

Police are also calling on the public to always be aware of their surroundings, always consider crime prevention measures and do everything they can to remain safe.

“Always lock your car, the doors and windows of your home and always have your personal safety in mind,” said Chief Superintendent Bodden. “Never accept or give rides to strangers, be aware of your surroundings and do everything you can to make sure you minimize your risk of becoming a victim of crime.”

If you want further information on personal safety, you can visit the RCIPS website at for tips and advice. Click on Crime Prevention and follow the links. You can also contact your local neighbourhood officers through your nearest police station.

• George Town; 949-4222
• West Bay; 949-3999
• Bodden Town; 947-2220
• East End; 947-7411
• North Side; 947-9411
• Cayman Brac; 948-0991
• Little Cayman; 948-0100

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime
Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Man killed in fight

| 10/03/2009 | 27 Comments

(CNS): UPDATED : Although the RCIPS has yet to officially confirm the identity of the 42-year-old man who was killed last night following a fight at a house in Savannah, CNS understands that the victim, who was stabbed, was local radio personality Sherman Bodden (DJ "Jazzy B”) who worked at Vibe 98.9 FM. A 39-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Police said that the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call from a woman residing in Prince Link, Savannah at around 10:45 pm on Monday night, 9 March reporting that two men were having a fight at the house.

Police and medics responded to the scene and found that the 42-year-old victim had sustained a number of serious injuries. The victim was taken to hospital but was unfortunately pronounced dead. It has since been revealed that the injuries are apparently stab wounds.

Police said a post mortem will be carried out and a Family Liaison Officer has been assigned to the relatives of the victim. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has stated that it cannot identify the victim officially until the post mortem is complete.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Kennett who has strategic oversight of the investigation offered condolences to the relatives of the victim adding,.”“It would appear that this is an isolated incident and that these two men were known to each other.”

Anyone with information about the crime is asked contact to Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Kim Evans on 949-4222. Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Pollution creating acid oceans

| 10/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Human pollution is turning the seas into acid so quickly that the coming decades will recreate conditions not seen on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs, scientists will warn today. The rapid acidification is caused by the massive amounts of carbon dioxide belched from chimneys and exhausts that dissolve in the ocean. The chemical change is placing "unprecedented" pressure on marine life such as shellfish and lobsters and could cause widespread extinctions, the experts say.

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Zoo chimp ‘planned’ attacks

| 10/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): A male chimpanzee in a Swedish zoo planned hundreds of stone-throwing attacks on zoo visitors, according to researchers. Keepers at Furuvik Zoo found that the chimp collected and stored stones that he would later use as missiles. Further, the chimp learned to recognise how and when parts of his concrete enclosure could be pulled apart to fashion further projectiles. There has been scant evidence in previous research that animals can plan for future events. Crucial to the current study is the fact that Santino, a chimpanzee at the zoo in the city north of Stockholm, collected the stones in a calm state, prior to the zoo opening in the morning.

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Tourism research scholarship

| 10/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is offering the Arley Sobers Memorial Scholarship which will provide up to US$5,000 to Caribbean nationals working in tourism research and/or statistics. People already employed at Caribbean national tourism organizations and who are seeking to enhance their skills in these areas through a short term training programme or course, are eligible to apply. Caribbean nationals wishing to apply have until 30 April. Information on how to apply for this, as well as other scholarships being offered by the CTO Foundation scholarship, can be found at

The scholarship has been established with a US$10,000 contribution from the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and support from CTO Member Countries. It was established to honour the late Arley Sobers, the CTO’s Interim Secretary General and Director of Information Management and Research, who died suddenly last August while on an overseas mission for the organization. Acccording to the CTO, Sobers dedicated over two decades of his working life to the service of the Caribbean Tourism Organization. He was very determined to ensure that Caribbean tourism statistical information and research was accurate, reliable and properly validated. From very early in his career he recognized tourism’s importance to the economies of the Caribbean, and while Mr. Sobers worked primarily in the area of research and statistics, his overall influence and contribution to Caribbean tourism was wide reaching.

The CTO Foundation, set up in 1997, is registered in New York State as a Not-for-Profit Corporation, formed exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. Its main aim is to provide scholarships and study grants to students and industry personnel who are Caribbean nationals, from CTO-member countries, who wish to pursue studies in the areas of tourism/hospitality and language training.

The Foundation supports individuals who demonstrate high levels of academic achievement and leadership potential and who express a strong interest in making a contribution to Caribbean tourism. Major CTO Foundation sponsors include American Express, American Airlines, Interval International, Universal Media, the CTO chapters worldwide and numerous CTO allied members.

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FOI requests fall in February

| 10/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Immigration Department and the police continue to be the agencies receiving the highest number of requests, according to the Freedom of Information Unit’s February report, and half of the government authorities are yet to receive a request at all. Requests fell during February with 55 requests for information made from 1 to 28 February, compared to 117 during January. Since the law came into effect and up to February, 172 FOI requests have been made and 71 remain in progress.

Of the requests completed so far one has failed to meet the thirty day deadline taking 32 days to close. Despite this one failure most public authorities are responding to requests well within the 30 calendar days allowed by the law, said FOI Coordinator Carole Excell. “Even when consultations with applicants and third parties were necessary, the average response time was fewer than 14 days,” she added.

“I am very satisfied with the efficient responses by the respective information managers,” Excell said. “The challenge for government will be to continue to meet the 30-day requirement consistently, to provide a satisfactory experience for applicants in using the law to obtain information.”

Not everyone, however, is getting want they requested. From the 65 requeststhat were closed in February, while 33 were granted in full, six were granted in part, and five were exempt in their entirety. In seven cases the respective information managers determined that their public authority held no records related to the requests and three requests were deferred. Three more were withdrawn and another eight were already available in the public domain.

February also saw a request for one internal review of the chief officer for the Immigration Department and two appeals were sent to the information commissioner following decisions made by the Legal Department and Public Service Pensions Board.

February FOI implementation report gives examples of the types of requests that were made during the month and along with January’s report s available on the units website: Each public authority also maintains an online disclosure log, in which requests of general public interest (and the decisions made on these requests) are recorded.

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Acknowledge problem to see solution

| 10/03/2009 | 5 Comments

So we all know by now about UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s new trick. It goes like this: whenever he finishes a speech (and it doesn’t matter what the speech is about) with the final flourish – “And finally, comrades, we are going to clamp down on tax havens!” – he gets a standing ovation.

It is rabble rousing stuff. And since he never gets clapped for saying anything else, he has begun to trot out the tax haven thing with alarming regularity.

On the other side of the pond, Senator Levin is still hopping with indignation. This is how he described the problem at a 2007 reading of the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act bill: “At one Subcommittee hearing, a former owner of an offshore bank in the Cayman Islands testified that he believed 100 percent of his former bank clients were engaged in tax evasion.” (Levin doesn’t actually name this individual – that’s a secret.) “He said that almost all were from the United States and had taken elaborate measures to avoid IRS detection of their money transfers. He also expressed confidence that the offshore government that licensed his bank would vigorously defend client secrecy in order to continue attracting business.”

Unpalatably true, or dastardly false? His statement certainly doesn’t sit very well with the US Internal Revenue Service’s own commissioned in depth report, which concluded last summer that Cayman-based financial activities of US persons is typically legal.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Cayman Islands ministers and their advisers, roused at last from their soporific complacency, hot-footed it to Washington last week to “make sure the right people get the right messages”. The right message, it seems, is that Cayman is a global financial services centre of good standing, with exemplary anti-money-laundering and anti-terrorist-financing policies that are held up as a beacon oflight in the offshore industry.

Furthermore, it is hoped that Cayman’s recent Tax Information Exchange Treaty amendment – rushed through just before Christmas to forestall the growing rumblings of global discontent – will single Cayman out as being wholly cooperative. In short, the message is that Cayman is not a deserving candidate for blacklisting at the upcoming G-20 meeting in London.

And Cayman is cooperative; even the IRS thinks that cooperation with the Cayman Islands government has been good. Furthermore, Cayman has been identified as having a “strong compliance culture” by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, findings not dissimilar to those of the IMF and the OECD.

But the trouble is that mere cooperation does not really solve the US problem – which is how to identify those offshore transactions that are not legal. The IRS, which relies on self-reporting, has to make cumbersome specific and justified enquiries on a case by case basis; they cannot simply make a blanket enquiry about everyone.

And yes, Cayman does now make a handy scapegoat. Of course the credit crunch wasn’t caused by the existence of offshore centres! But so what? Actually, Levin & co were sounding off long before anyone had ever heard of the credit crunch. So let’s not get sidetracked by the unfairness of it all. For until we look the problem squarely in the eye, we cannot see the solution … so let’s be clear:

The reality is this: thanks to offshore confidentiality laws, some (overtaxed) onshore citizens have – according to their own laws and at least to some extent – been able to ‘cheat’ on their taxes. And, like it or not, onshore governments have a sovereign right to rein them in.

Coming up next:

• ‘The new legislation – its likely effect on Cayman’s financial centre’ (what’s legal and what’s not, how they’ll police it, and how severe – or not – will be the resultant contraction), and finally
• ‘A bright future – why Cayman will continue to flourish’.

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Activists keep hope alive for constitutional choice

| 10/03/2009 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Despite the recent passage of the Referendum bill, local grass roots organisation Equality Cayman still hopes to persuade government to offer the people of the Cayman Islands a choice when they go to the polls on 20 May to decide on the country’s new Constitution. Having organised a petition to demonstrate the strength of feeling in the community regarding Section 16, the group said that the last day for members of the public to sign it will be Sunday, 15 March.

“It is our hope that we can persuade government to offer the people of the Cayman Islands the chance to choose the full right of non-discrimination,” Carlene Alexander, one of the founders of Equality Cayman, said. “We are aware of the passage of the bill but our understanding is that the government has the ability to amend the law and enable a third choice. We remain optimistic that they will consider giving people that choice and believe there still is time to influence the process."

She noted that if enough people stand up then the mistake of adopting a constitution that is an insult to the cherished concepts of fairness and equality for all can be avoided. The organisation has received a significant response from the community with a ground swell of people supporting the position of a free standing right.

"Unfortunately, some misleading and confusing information is coming from those who are actively fighting against strong rights for all people in Cayman," Alexander continued. "Equality Cayman believes the people will figure this out. As the decisive day draws closer we expect that they will see that one side is arguing for their rights and one side is working to prevent them from having full rights. In the end, it makes no sense for typical Caymanians with families and a basic sense of right and wrong to oppose rights and protection from discrimination for all because it benefits them. Even those who are fighting against a stronger bill of rights would themselves be protected by it, as would their children and grandchildren."

Equality Cayman rejects the claim that the draft constitution would be a good start that can be built upon and has stated that this constitution is more appropriate for the 18th century than the 21st century. The organisation contends that the United States, for example, made key mistakes in their constitution that required 200 years and a civil war to correct.

“The British Virgin Islands, a mostly conservative Christian society, adopted a constitution that includes a strong bill of rights and there has been no ‘collapse of moral fibre’ there. Furthermore, the BVI has been able to keep all appropriate protections for its own citizens on matters such as
education," Alexander said.

She explained that Equality Cayman does not have a political position and it is not supporting one party over another. The group’s aim, she said, is simply to ensure that no one is discriminated against.

“Our entirefocus is on trying to get the best possible constitution for the people of the Cayman Islands," she added. “I am confident that my fellow Caymanians want full rights and do not want to be discriminated against in any circumstances. We deserve this from our government.”

The Equality Cayman Face Book page currently has 590 members with several more joining every day, and the organisation states that there is now a sense among members that momentum is building. “The Caymanian people are realizing what is at stake and how important it is for our constitution to include stronger rights and better protection from government discrimination for all," Alexander said.

The petition is online at and Equality Cayman members also have hard copies for people to sign. The petition, addressed to the "Cayman Islands Government" includes the following statement:  “By signing this petition, I am asking the Cayman Islands Government to give the people the right to choose in the 20 May, 2009 referendum between the full right to be free from discrimination by the Government or the limited right that is contained in section 16 of the Bill of Rights in the current draft Constitution. Please allow me to let my voice be heard and let my vote be counted.”

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Commonwealth Day

| 10/03/2009 | 0 Comments

This year the Commonwealth commemorates its foundation sixty years ago. The London Declaration of 1949 was the start of a new era in which our member countries committed themselves to work together, in partnership and as equals, towards a shared future.

We can rightly celebrate the fact that the founding members’ vision of the future has become a reality. The Commonwealth has evolved out of all recognition from its beginning. It has helped give birth to modern nations, and the eight original countries have become fifty-three. We are now home to nearly two billion people: a third of the world’s population. Across continents and oceans, we have come to represent all the rich diversity of humankind.

Yet despite its size and scale, the Commonwealth to me has beensustained during all this change by the continuity of our mutual values and goals. Our beliefs in freedom, democracy and human rights; equality and equity; development and prosperity mean as much today as they did more than half a century ago.

These values come from a common responsibility exercised by our governments and peoples. It is this which makes the Commonwealth a family of nations and peoples, at ease with being together. As a result, I believe we are inspired to do our best to meet people’s most pressing needs, and to develop a truly global perspective. That is why the modern Commonwealth has stood the test of time.

But as we reflect upon our long association, we should recognize the challenges that lie ahead. Nearly one billion people of today’s Commonwealth are under 25 years of age. These are the people that this association must continue to serve in the future. It is they who can help shape the Commonwealth of today, and whose children will inherit the Commonwealth of tomorrow. To help them make the best of their opportunities, our young men and women therefore need the opportunity to become active and responsible members of the communities in which they live. I am pleased that the Commonwealth recognizes this, and is determined to continue to put young people at its centre.

The call that brought the Commonwealth together in 1949 remains the same today. Then we joined together in a collective spirit – built on lasting principles, wisdom, energy and creativity – to meet the great tasks of our times. As the Commonwealth celebrates its sixtieth birthday, its governments, communities and we as individuals should welcome that achievement. Together, we should continue to work hard to deal with today’s challenges so that the young people of today’s Commonwealth can realize their aspirations. In that way, we can look to the future with confidence.

Queen Elizabeth II is Head of the Commonwealth

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DoE aims to tame lionfish

| 10/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As the invasive red lionfish continues to proliferate in the Cayman Islands’ waters, the Department of Environment (DoE) is working on creating a local volunteer team to begin removing them. However, as the Marine Conservation Law prevents anyone from taking species from protected areas, the Marine Conservation Board (MCB), which has the power to exempt certain people from that restriction, must first delegate its power to the DoE to enable them to tackle the problem. (Photo by Alex Henderson)

DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie explained that once the power has been given to them by the MCB to grant specific divemasters and other local volunteers a licence to remove the lionfish, the DoE has plans in place to train them and begin the process of removing the fish.

“We need to make sure that the volunteers we authorise know exactly which fish they are looking for, as we have already had a few problems of misidentification, and how to protect themselves when handling the fish,” she said. “The lionfish is a serious problem for the local marine environment and the goal is to reduce the population to a level where it no longer presents a threat to indigenous species. But to execute this programme it requires the contravention of several marine conservation regulations, so we need to make sure we follow the correct procedure,” she said.

Ebanks-Petrie noted that several local divers had already expressed their interest in volunteering to tackle the problem and tame the population, which has grown significantly in a matter months. The director said that while the first sightings were reported to the DoE early last year in waters around Little Cayman, by the end of 2008 the lionfish were reported across all three islands. The picture shown above was taken this past weekend at Turtle Reef off Grand Cayman.

“The fish have spread very quickly and it is important that we deal with this issue with urgency and get the correct measures in place to legally begin reducing the population,” she added.

Campaigns have already begun in Florida and in other parts of the Caribbean to begin taking the fish out of regional waters as the lionfish will not only compete for food and habitat with native reef species but could also harm divers or swimmers. Bermuda is now issuing culling permits to divers who undertake a training seminar.

The red lionfish (pterois volitans), which has long, venomous spines that it uses for protection, is native to the Indo-Pacific region but it has appeared in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea in recent years, possibly as a result of aquariums losing their captive fish in hurricanes.

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