Archive for June 26th, 2009

Arsonist destroys car

| 26/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A car in Savannah Meadows was deliberately set ablaze, a fire investigator found after an incident on Thursday, 25 June, which has been determined to be arson. Police and fire were alerted to the blaze at around 12:40am yesterday. Emergency services responded to the scene in Jim Bodden Avenue and found a blue Mitsubishi Lancer on fire. The fire department extinguished the blaze and the fire investigator determined that the vehicle had been intentionally set on fire. The owner of the vehicle had been inside his house at the time and no-one was injured in the incident.

Scenes of Crime Officers processed the scene and an investigation has commenced led by Detective Sergeant Joseph Wright who says that a number of leads are being followed up. “There are a number of lines of enquiry we are looking at,” he said. “But, we would appreciate anyone with information coming forward.”

Anyone who was in the area of Jim Bodden Avenue around the time of the fire who might have seen something suspicious should contact Bodden Town police station on 947-2220 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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Web slows after Michael Jackson’s death

| 26/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): The internet suffered a number of slowdowns as people the world over rushed to verify accounts of Michael Jackson’s death. Search giant Google confirmed to the BBC that when the news first broke it feared it was under attack. Millions of people who searched for the star’s name on Google News were greeted with an error page. It warned users "your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application". "It’s true that between approximately 2.40PM Pacific and 3.15PM Pacific, some Google News users experienced difficulty accessing search results for queries related to Michael Jackson and saw the error page," said Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker.

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Triple gold for Brac swimmer

| 26/06/2009 | 7 Comments

(CNS): A young swimmer from Cayman Brac brought home three gold medals from the Grand Canyon State Games’ International Summer Games, held 19 through 21 June, competing in the 11 to 12 year old age group against girls up to 23 months older than her. Martha Rivers who turned 11 last month, won gold in the 50 Yard Backstroke (37.52), the 50 Yard Breaststroke (42.50) and 50 Yard Freestyle (31.79). Her participation was made possible through the Global Academy for International Athletics and the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee (CIOC). More than 7,000 persons of all age and ability levels competed in 33 sports in these 2009 Summer Games in Arizona, the largest amateur sports festival in the US.

The Global Academy’s William Maxwell contacted all 96 national Olympic committees that have never won an Olympic medal, and requested that they send athletes in various sports, and the CIOC was the only one that responded to the communications, a release from the committee stated. This was the Global Academy’s second effort to organize children’s trials specifically to identify and encourage potential Olympians at much younger ages than most nations are accustomed to. The first effort garnered 28 children from eight nations; meanwhile China is building sports academies to house and train 200,000 children per year.

Rivers was provided with individual coaching by two time Olympian Michael Troy and performance psychologist Chris Dorris for three days prior to the competition day. Each morning she had a short mental exercise programme, followed by some brief explanation of how elite athletes and others prepare to succeed at their chosen tasks, then she had one to 1½ hours swim training with coach Troy. Most afternoons were free to sightsee, shop or relax, hosted by members of the Global Sports Academy committee.

Rivers has been swimming since age four and has won events at meets in the Caribbean as well as in Florida swimming for the Cayman Islands Stingray Swim Club. Maxwell stated in his final report that she has all the natural attributes of a successful athlete. A detailed “prescription” for future training will be prepared and forwarded to her coaches in Cayman with recommendations for age and ability appropriate training routines. He stated that it takes enormous sacrifice and discipline, as well as natural giftedness, to be an elite athlete; all have that potential in some domain, but few achieve that elite status because it is very arduous to do so.

According to the CIOC, the Grand Canyon State Games’ showed that behind every winner are hundreds of well-organized volunteers, who rarely receive the appreciation they deserve, and there must also be a strongfamily support system. Rivers was accompanied by her mother, Anne Jackson, who said she hopes Martha will be supported at home in Cayman Brac to achieve her goals in the sport of swimming.


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Bracker brings home bronze from Bahamas

| 26/06/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The Cayman team came home from the XIII CAC Age Group Championship, held in Nassau, Bahamas, on 18 and 19 June, with a combined score of 17,770 and placed 12 out of 20 countries. Amelia Gillespie from Cayman Brac was the lone medalists from the Cayman Islands, placing 3rd in the 13-14 age group girls High Jump with a leap of 1.51m. Other notable performances came from Leandro Powell in the 11-12 age group Boys High jump as his 1.40m effort tied him with 3 other competitors for 3rd place, unfortunately on the count back he was awarded 5th place. Justin Nalty also managed a 6th place finish in the 13-14 age group boys high jump with a leap of 1.60m.

Overall, Barbados taking the top spotover host Bahamas and Jamaica, Coach Tyrone Yen reports.

"Congratulations to Ameilia Gillispie of Brac Athletic Club on her outstanding performance," said Brac Sports Instructor Mitchum Sanford. "Congratulations to her coach Flynn Bush and the rest of the Cayman team delegation. This was Ameilia’s first representation of the Cayman Islands at an International Meet. The best is yet to come from this outstanding athlete in coming years."

In terms of team scores, Cayman’s representative Kiara McLaughlin and Jada Wright had a combined score of 3,287 pts in the 11-12 age group girls, where Aruba with 5,081 points was first, followed by Bermuda with 5,065 and the Netherlands Antilles with 4,822. In the boys’ equivalent Jeavhon Jackson and Leandro Powell amassed a total of 4,612 pts, as Barbados took top honors in that division with 6,319 points followed by Puerto Rico with 5,712 points and Jamaica with 5,703 points.

Amelia Gillespie and Shenelle Stewart, representing Cayman in the 13-14 age group girls, had a combined score of 6,196 points. Top honors went to Dominica with a combined score of 8,101points followed by Barbados with 7,868 and Jamaica with 7,792. Our loan representative in the boys 13-14 division, Justin Nalty, scored 3,890 points in his 7 events to finish in 19th place overall out of 27 athletes.

Head Coach Tyrone Yen said, “The members of the team produced gusty performances, giving their all in 6 to 7 events over a 2-day period, with quite a few also achieving personal best performances”.

Travelling with the team was Manager Sana Tugman, Head Coach Tyrone Yen and Assistant Coach Anthony Chin. The team returned to the island on Saturday 20 June.

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‘Witches’ burned in Kenya

| 26/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): Villagers, many straight from their farms, and armed with machetes, sticks and axes, are shouting and crowding round in a big group in Kenya’s fertile Kisii district. I can’t see clearly what is going on, but heavy smoke is rising from the ground and a horrible stench fills the air. More people are streaming up the hill, some of them with firewood and maize stalks. Suddenly an old woman breaks from the crowd, screaming for mercy. Three or four people go after her, beat her and drag her back, pushing her onto – what I can now see – is a raging fire. I was witnessing a horrific practice which appears to be on the increase in Kenya – the lynching of people accused of being witches.

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Powery no longer missing

| 26/06/2009 | 12 Comments

(CNS): UPDATE — Friday 9:00am: Police report that contact has been made with Brian McAndrew Powery and concerns for his welfare have been alleviated. Powery, 43, was reported missing on Tuesday 23 June, and it was said at the time that he had been last seen by his family on Wednesday, 17 June, sitting at the George Town bus station and that relatives were concerned for his welfare. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has released no further information.

Anyonewith 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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War on drugs lost

| 26/06/2009 | 4 Comments

Today (26 June) is World Drug Day and the UN has released a report finally acknowledging that the global effort to address the many and complex issues of drug misuse have tipped far too much toward law enforcement and away from treatment and prevention.

At the risk of ‘them a cumin for me with the pitchforks at dawn’ I am going to stick my head on the block and say it is time that we began discussing our own overly heavy emphasis on the law enforcement part of tackling drug misuse here and our serious lack of commitment to treatment and sensible prevention. The war on drugs has failed everywhere, prohibition has not worked, and while the rather ’radical’ idea (to some) of legalising recreational drug use may seem beyond the pale, the evidence of success and the arguments for this as a solution are mounting.

The concept of legalising drug use as a way of tackling the problem is not new. The arguments have been around for a long time and those arguments are not merely about personal freedom but are based on sound economic and social principles. The arguments are multifaceted but they are logical; sadly, when it comes to drugs, people carry very biased and emotional opinions which prevent them from seeing the logic of the arguments.

Consequently, over the last four decades those putting forward the legalisation argument have been seen as depraved, liberal or extremists because drugs are bad, right? Yes, they are, but so are trans-fats, sugar, caffeine, whiskey, tobacco, rum, heavy cake, tequila, chicken dippers, vodka and, well, a lot of other stuff that people like. What people find particularly upsetting about drugs — and essentially alcohol which is the only thing we allow that does this — is the mind changing bit.

Yet man himself has sought to imbibe mind warping substance since he dropped out of the trees, so denying the human desire to get a little tipsy is itself rather strange. Ironically, the one drug we allow is one of the worst. (I suspect we allow it because of its biblical connections. If Jesus had turned the water into opium, who knows…).

For many people with a tendency to misuse drugs, alcohol is very bad as it makes many people violent compared to other drugs such as extacy or ganja, which by and large do not.  Yet here in Cayman the use of both those drugs will see you serving at Her Majesty’s pleasure just for touching them, whereas you can drink till you fall over, bash your wife and crash your car and, unless you do something seriously bad (bashing your wife not serious enough apparently), you are unlikely to end up in jail.

The issue with drug use is that, for some, using drugs is a part of their lives and, aside from the obvious personal health risks, their lives are none the worse for it, while for others, their lives are ruined by the use and drive to get their fix at all costs. If we were to be honest with ourselves, we know that we probably have a considerable number of people going to plush offices on Monday mornings working for leading firms here that probably spent the weekend high on illicit substance, but because they were discreet, paid good money that they had not stolen and didn’t beat anyone up they turn up for work on Monday without having placed any undue burden on the local society.

On the other hand, during the same weekend a teenager from a broken home who has emotional difficulties already, no job or hope may well have had to break into a house, fight a few people and generally cause a nuisance before he scored enough crack for his pipe.

Drugs are entrenched in our community and so is the crime that goes with it. If we really want to address the problem we must change our view of drugs as evil and look at them as another commodity that needs to be controlled, like alcohol or tobacco. But above all society needs to take these dangerous substances from the hands of the criminals and put them in the hands of the community and make them legal to buy, sell and use. Right now when the two major manufactures of cola go up against each other to sell their goods, the sales representatives don’t shoot each other for the market share. They compete in a legal arena using pop stars and gimmicks. However, if the drink was prohibited they probably would start shooting because making cola illegal would not stop some people wanting it.

This was demonstrated by the prohibition of alcohol in America. The US government effectively created organised crime as a result of that prohibition. Once it was legalised again the hoods and gangs moved to drugs and have stayed there ever since, and it is now the second largest trade in the world after the arms trade.  

Legalisation gives governments control instead of the ruthless criminals; it enables governments to tax the goods and ultimately diverts funds. Drugs sold on a legal market would be a fraction of the cost and reduce the amount of acquisitive crime committed to buy them. But more importantly, and the biggest and most positive argument for legalisation is that the billions of dollars spent worldwide trying to fight the illegal trade could be spent on treatment and prevention.

Currently of those billions of dollars spent on law enforcement to fight the war on drugs a tiny fraction is spent on treatment and prevention. Here in Cayman if we compare the annual Drug Court budget with the Drug Task Force …….

Oh, yes! The Drug Court doesn’t have a budget. Well, there we are! 

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UN backs drug decriminalization in new report

| 26/06/2009 | 5 Comments

(Huffington Post): The United Nations has lavishly praised drug decriminalization in its annual report on the state of global drug policy. In previous years, the UN drug czar had expressed skepticism about Portugal’s decriminalization, which removed criminal penalties in 2001 for personal drug possession and emphasized treatment over incarceration. But in its 2009 World Drug Report, the UN had little but kind words for Portugal’s. "These conditions keep drugs out of the hands of those who would avoid them under a system of full prohibition, while encouraging treatment, rather than incarceration, for users."

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Jackson’s celebrity suicide

| 26/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(Salon): CNN’s coverage of Michael Jackson’s sudden illness in the minutes before his death was reported captured nicely the way the media has treated him. Nutty people were allowed to talk at length, including a guy who kept saying his concerts in London were in 2010. (They were scheduled for next month.) Wolf Blitzer looked into the camera to tell us earnestly that the head of the concert promotion company had told them that Jackson was in "tip-top shape," and that he’d passed a health exam "with flying colors." Funny how an impossibly pampered 50-year-old guy in top-top shape could just keel over dead.

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US TIEA needs protecting

| 26/06/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): The need to ensure that any new tax agreements will not apply retrospectively has been one of the major goals in the ongoing negotiating process of the information exchanges that the Cayman Islands has recently entered into. Criticised for taking too long negotiating these deals, Alden McLaughlin said that during his time in office the technical team had entered into negotiations with a number of countries that are due to be signed but had held firm on the crucial issue of non-retrospective exchange to protect Cayman’s most important TIEA with the United States.

“I hopethe new team has been briefed about our previous negotiations and that this still remains a red line issue,” he told CNS.

Since taking office the new administration has signed a Double Tax Agreement with the UK, has negotiated and signed a bilateral Tax Information Exchange Agreement with Ireland, and has initialled the technical negotiations agreement which had been made with the Netherlands. However, it is not entirely clear whether those agreements could now apply retrospectively.

The former minister with responsibility for financial services, Alden McLaughlin said that while he was criticised for not signing deals quickly enough, the technical team had done a tremendous amount of work and had also been determined to ensure that no new agreements could put Cayman’s commercial advantages at risk.

“We had what we called two red line issues, which were, first, the scope of TIEA and preferences that it not include indirect taxes and, secondly, that they were not retrospective,” he said. “We had gone a long way with Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, all of whom had agreed to non-retrospectivity and we believed it was very important to hold these lines.” 

McLaughlin explained that holding firm was not just about the business Cayman had done with these particular countries with whom the team were negotiating, as the exposure was fairly limited, but how it would impact existing TIEAs, especially that of the United States. He said if any other country managed to get an exchange agreement with Cayman that allowed for retrospective information requests the United States would seek the same concession, which would have far greater implications for Cayman’s offshore industry.

“The Nordic countries wanted full retrospectivity but we had to hold the line because if we did not the US would certainly demand to renegotiate their agreement. We were aware of the need to be consistent with the agreements,” McLaughlin added. He said the private sector had been pushing for the Cayman Islands government to just sign deals before the G20 but they had not given full consideration to what would happen if the deals signed had not held on this issue.

“I know the argument was made by some in the private sector that we should just go ahead and sign and give them what they wanted,” said McLaughlin adding that another problem was that the demands can be replicated infinitely.

“We can sign enough deals to get off this list but you can be sure there will be another list after that and then another list and another. So it is important to be sensible about the concessions you make. Where you do make concessions we need benefits otherwise we are going to wind up in a situation where other jurisdictions become more attractive because they will have the benefits,” McLaughlin added.

He acknowledged that now he did not know the final parameters of the two new deals signed this week and, as yet, the current government has not provided the information regarding the details of the deals. But McLaughlin said he hoped that the new negotiating team had been briefed and stuck firm to holding those red lines.

According to the final DTA that was signed with the UK (now posted on the HM Treasury website) it states that it will apply from April 2010. However , it does not specifically state that it could not apply retrospectively if an enquiry made in the tax year starting April 2010 was connected to previous years.

McLaughlin said that despite the struggle to maintain the red lines they had also met with beneficial propositions along the way. The former minister said that most of the states his team engaged with were willing to offer some form of commercial benefit in return for a bilateral TIEA.

McLaughlin also said that given the enormous amount of work that the civil servants leading the technical team had put in and the knowledge that Deborah Drummond and Chris Rose had about this matter it was surprising they were not directly involved in the current negotiations.

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