Archive for September 25th, 2009

IRS tells auditors to look at loans by offshore funds

| 25/09/2009 | 0 Comments

(Bloomberg): The Internal Revenue Service told its auditors in Manhattan to develop cases against offshore hedge funds and foreign companies it said are trying to avoid taxes on income from loans they make in the US. The agency, in a Sept. 22 directive, urged the Manhattan field director of the IRS financial services section to pursue a transaction the agency says seeks to improperly take advantage of an otherwise legal tax break. The agency also urged the official to be watchful for similar techniques.

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Budget delayed as no UK OK

| 25/09/2009 | 110 Comments

(CNS): Cayman was breaking out in a cold sweat on Thursday evening as there was still no agreement from the UK for the CI government to borrow the necessary funds to balance the budget. A planned public meeting hosted by Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush to explain what government has had to concede to get permission to borrow was postponed after long talks with the FCO failed to produce an agreement. Government has also been forced to delay the budget statement in the Legislative Assembly until 1 October.

Bush spent a good deal of Thursday in continued phone negotiations with the Foreign Office, which has continued to spell out the need for the CIG to find a sustainable revenue to fund its expenditure. Although Bush has said he is adamant that he does not want to introduce any form of direct taxation, it is becoming increasingly clear that the UK wants to see exactly that before agreeing to extend the borrowing levels of the territory.

For the last week government has been stating on a day by day basis that it hoped that the UK would give its support to the extra borrowing that government needs to get through the next budget year, and it was reportedly hopeful yet again that “tomorrow” would be the day it would gain approval from the UK.

Withthe budget policy statement postponed for the second time, government now finds itself in an unusual situation as the last budget appropriation by the LA will expire before the parliament next meets.

During a closed door meeting with representatives from the commercial and financial sector today at the Westin, Bush pursued earlier requests made to the private sector, most of which have been rejected. But speculation also mounted that Bush was exploring the possibility of seizing the contents of dormant and frozen accounts to fill government’s empty coffers.

Late on Thursday evening News27 posted a video interview with Bush as he left the meeting with the private sector in which he said negotiations with the UK were continuing. He said the UK wanted to see cuts in expenditure and a more sustainable revenue base.

“As far as cuts are concerned, this will have to await some sort of study. This is not a decision I can make … it is something for the officials and the governor will be on top of those matters,” he told Cayman’s TV network. Bush explained that revenue raising measures were, however, down to his government and he had spoken with the private sector to see what it would accept.

“Private sector, of course, is not satisfied with the CEF, not satisfied with income tax, not satisfied with property tax, not satisfied with VAT. However, they have gone away to look at what fees can be increased. We have made suggestions but, of course, when you meet with one section of the private sector it does not always satisfy the next,” he said, adding that people at the meeting had spoken out about their needs and how to make business flourish.

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Paws for thought

| 25/09/2009 | 12 Comments

When the phone rings at 7am on a miserable, rain soaked Monday morning and you see that the call is from the veterinary surgery where your favourite dog is being treated for constant vomiting, kidney infection and laboured breathing, you know it’s not going to be a good day.

My worst fears immediately came to fruition as I churned inside and listened intently for any positive news regarding Hobnob. The vet’s tear-fuelled voice, however, gave away the stark truth.Thirteen minutes later I was looking directly into Hobnob’s dark, hazel coloured shiny eyes and recognized the playful, but not the terrified look, of a dog so cared for and so loved that it broke my heart to see her inside a steel cage with an intravenous drip attached to her front leg. This cold, clinical, but necessary holding pen at the veterinary surgery was to be where Hobnob would spend her final few hours clinging painfully to her precious life.

There is truly no justice in this world for a dog whose whole, but sadly short, life was spent bringing pleasure to others in such a remarkable way. One of the most painful and guilt laden decisions to ease her suffering had to be made by her brave owner stricken with all the conflicting emotions on such an occasion. The sense of loss and grief felt since the fateful day has been palpable in the sentiments and eulogies describing Hobnob which have been received since. Scant solace though for the void now left in Hobnob’s absence.

So what’s the problem? Old age? Disease? Road Traffic Collision? Sadly not. The problem, as with many problems around the world, is atrocious human behavior. Harsh words but relevant in the circumstances, I believe.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that certain individuals in our so-called ‘developed society’ deem it appropriate, and maybe even sadistically amusing, to willfully administer poisonous or injurious substances to the very animals that are globally recognized as being ‘man’s best friend’. This should really come as no surprise to me as I’ve witnessed many human vs human atrocities in a professional capacity, but to wantonly cause misery to any animal is, in my humble opinion, the worst crime of all.

The outcry since that sad day has resurrected the anger and pain of many residents of the Cayman Islands who have suffered similar incidents and lost their faithful companions in such a despicable way. Further research on the subject has uncovered a history of incidents stretching island wide. Even Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are not spared the injustice of the deliberate, and criminal, actions of those so blatantly intent on causing misery to others.

I am trying to remain impartial in all this. I am trying to rationalize the behaviour and approach the situation with an open, non judgmental mind. I am trying to fathom what it would take for the community in which we live to recognize that maliciously baiting food and killing animals is abhorrent.

My sentiments are obviously fuelled by the personal anger I feel welling up inside, not just for Hobnob’s death but also that of Bumble (left), yet another close friend’s dedicated pet, and all the other innocent dogs and animals that have been the victim of such outrageous human disregard to life, any life … human or otherwise!

Since Monday (21 September) I have become aware of many, many historical incidents and utterances from various sources, all of which add credence to this ‘viewpoint’ and should hopefully promote, not just discussion, but firm, positive action as well. The law in this respect is clear. In short, it is a criminal offence to willfully, without any reasonable cause or excuse, administer any poisonous or injurious drug or substance to any animal. This is an offence of Cruelty. The prospect of a four thousand dollar fine and one year imprisonment sadly does not seem deter or affect the attitude of those persons committing this offence.

The rhetoric and emotion aside I am asking, nay demanding, that those intent on such behaviour please desist and seek alternative animal control measures. I am a pragmatic person and recognize the need and desire to protect one’s property from animal intrusion. However, the deliberate and heinous act of baiting sandwiches, meat and other apparently tasty treats for consumption by dogs, cats, chickens etc must stop. I accept, to a certain degree, that ‘a man’s home is his castle’ and we all have the right to protect the same from both human and animal intrusion. Within the boundary of your property you can do as you please. What is appalling to me is that the recent, and historic incidents, are apparently occurring in public areas. That is simply not acceptable and it is only by some sort of divine intervention that an infant or adult within our society has not been mortally affected … to the best of my knowledge!

I hope these few words, in memory of the beloved Hobnob and Bumble, do go someway to alerting people to the increasing incidents taking place. I have deliberately been geographically non-specific and non-accusatorial to any section of our society as I believe it is so widespread in our islands that to point fingers and engage in antilocution would be unproductive. I do not intend for my writings and personal feelings of certain events to be regarded as scaremongering or divisive in any way. These incidents are real, they affect real people and only serve to generate bitterness, anger and, sadly, grief.

Previous postings in the Viewpoint section of CNS, most notably this one in February 2009, have eloquently and articulately described the widespread occurrences of animal cruelty. The perpetrators must know that this will not be tolerated. If the conscience and actions of such people can be positively affected then it is a step in the right direction but more, much more, needs to be done. Punitively, the law doesn’t seem to be effective. This is a matter for the authorities and legislators. Socially, the behaviour is unacceptable and we, as a community, must not let the deaths of innocent animals happen in vain. Personally, in the memory of such lovely dogs and seeing the pain that my friends have endured, I will do my bit. Words are all well and good but what’s needed now is education and action.

I would be very interested to read any responses and representations from any section of society. Please do not let this issue peter out as it has in the past.

Rest in Peace Hobnob and Bumble!

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Child molester gets 5 years

| 25/09/2009 | 68 Comments

(CNS): Justice Alex Henderson has sentenced Gifford Prendergast to five years in prison following the recent guilty verdict which he handed down on 8 counts of indecent assault on a minor. The judge told the court that there were aggravating factors in the case, especially as the convicted man was in a position of trust and had committed repeated offences on the child over a period of 18 months. Henderson said he had manipulated his victim and, although he had used only minor physical force, he had as the victim has said “exerted mental force".  Henderson said that sexual offences were inherently harmful when victims were coerced and exploited.

The judge spoke of how the offence has a long term impact on the victims as they find it difficult to form relationships based on trust when they become adults and because of the feeling of fear, shame and degradation from which they suffer. Henderson noted that in this case Prenderast’s victim was 12 and 13 while the abuse took place and was therefore too young to give consent and would not have done so even if the child had been of age.

Henderson suggested too that Prendergast’s offence were both part planned and part opportunistic but the abuse of trust and power were aggravating factors and that the abuse was considerable and enduring.

The maximum sentence in the Cayman Islands is ten years and the judge told the courtthat, based on the circumstances, he was using four years as his starting point. Although there were some mitigating factors as this was Prendergast’s first conviction and he had some 26 pages of character witnesses, the judge added to his starting point because of the aggravated factors which he had spoken about.

During the Crown’s presentation to the judge, the prosecuting attorney had stated that in the UK the acts which the defendant had perpetrated on the child would now be considered rape as a result of the change to legislation in 2003 and noted that the maximum sentence would therefore be 14 years. Although that did not apply in the Cayman Islands as the acts were still considered indecent assault and not rape, she hoped the court would consider that situation and asked the judge to start his calculations for sentence at five years.  

The defence counsel had submitted that, while there were aggravated circumstances, the defendant had no previous convictions and was of previously good character to which many people had voluntarily testified in the submission of character witness statements.

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