Archive for May 21st, 2010

Brackers pull together to find missing teen

| 21/05/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Around 50-60 local people volunteered to join the hunt for a missing teenage boy this weekend resulting in the youngster speedy recovery. Following a report that the 14-year-old boy was missing from his home on Cayman Brac on Sunday morning 16 May 2010, police launched a search and contacted friends and family in an effort to locate him. The police co-ordinated an island-wide search. The search included beaches, parks, bushes and buildings. As a result, the boy was found safe and well, at 6.00pm in the Southside Road West area. A short time later he was reunited with his family.

Sergeant Ashton Ferguson thanked the dozens of members of the community who volunteered to help with the search to find the boy.  “It was great that so many people came out to help us search for the Teenager,” he said. “Without the help of the community it could have taken us much longer to find him, and, as he hadn’t taken any food or water with him there was the potential for him to have become dehydrated.
“It seems like the teenager felt that he wanted to have some time on his own and did not realise the impact his actions would have on his family – or the potential dangers.”
Sgt Ferguson said that it was thanks in large part to the community spirit in Cayman Brac that the familywas reunited.

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Dog me, flog me, but please don’t blog me!

| 21/05/2010 | 6 Comments

It’s great that Cayman’s news media is evolving into something resembling modern journalism—thanks mostly to Cayman News Service. But it’s all happening so fast that many people are not yet up to speed on the terminology. Is there anything sadder than someone screaming about a topic they don’t understand? Read on and learn how to make sure you never sound like an idiot.

I humbly offer this review of terms in order to help prevent more embarrassing vocabulary stumbles like the one Premier McKeeva Bush suffered through last week when he launched his now infamous attack on free speech, freedom of the press, and Freedom of Information. While the focus rightly has been on his backward ideas about free speech and journalism, it is also important to point out that he does not seem to understand the differences between basic forms of published writing. And he is not alone.

This viewpoint is not a reaction to the substance of Premier Bush’s outrageous temper tantrum. I’ll leave that to others because it’s also important to pay attention to the widespread misuse and misunderstanding of terms when talking about journalism. It’s crucial that everybody speaks the same language before they begin arguing. If we are debating the proper writing styles of journalists, but you are referring to editorials and I am referring to hard news stories, we will never get anywhere. This is a common problem in Cayman. Hardly a day goes by without one or more callers—and often the hosts—of local radio talk shows incorrectly applying the terms “blog”, “editorial”, “commentary”, “news article”, etc.

This matters because it confuses things and it’s also laughable to informed people when someone rants on and on about a newspaper’s editorial being biased in favor of one view. Uh… that’s the point of the editorial. It’s supposed to be a reasoned persuasive argument in favor of a specific position.

Another mistake repeated constantly in Cayman is mistaking comments posted on a news web site for “blogs”. A blog is a Web page or pages set up by an individual for the purpose of writing about whatever it is he or she want to write about. Cayman News Service is not a blog. It is a news Web site. The user comments posted at the end of news articles and viewpoints are not blogs. They are simply “comments”. When Premier Bush’s head was on the verge of exploding as he railed against the “the bloggers” and threatened economic terror against them, Ms Nicky Watson and Cayman News Service should have said, “Okay, whatever, we’re not a blog. He ain’t talking to us.”

People in Cayman are forever confusing “commentaries”, “editorials” and “viewpoints” with news articles. Unlike news articles, “commentaries”, “editorials” and “viewpoints” are never meant to be objective and unbiased. They are by definition slanted and biased. The authors of those forms of writing are taking a stand on one side of an issue. They are not supposed to be objective. (Unless, of course, the writer is a spineless worm and spends a few hundred words never making a point or arguing for anything. These space-wasters have traditionally been common here, sadly.)

News articles are supposed to be objective and unbiased. Few are, however. It is difficult to keep bias out of news because biased people are the ones who write them. But any good reporter will at least try very hard to produce work that comes close to being objective. Simply showing up or not showing up at a press conference is a form of bias, for example (you are important enough to listen to—or not). Attacking obvious slants in a hard news story is reasonable and an important duty for all of us. Getting all worked up over the presence of opinion in a CNS viewpoint is not just wrong, it’s embarrassing. Don’t do it.

It may surprise some readers, but I believe Premier Bush ought to be forgiven for not knowing what a blog is. He has more important things to worry about, such as running our country and figuring out which in-flight movie he is going to watch next. Besides, it’s common for politicians to be utterly clueless when it comes to the Internet. For example, US Senator John McCain reportedly has never sent an email in his life. And former president George W. Bush famously said while in office that he likes to “use the Google on the Internets”. Oy vey…

But the rest of us have no excuse. We live in the real world and can’t afford to sound like idiots if we hope to be taken seriously. If you want to defend—or attack—free speech, freedom of the press, and the wonderful wilderness that is the Internet, go for it, but at least know some of the basic terms before you open your mouth.

 

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HSA partners with local charity in child abuse fight

| 21/05/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Heath Service Authority will be employing a part time child psychologist to help in the battle against child abuse as a result of a grant from Hedge Fund Care. Medical Director Dr Greg Hoeksema explained the HSA has been in need of a second psychologist for more than three years and applied to the well-known charity for help. The authority was rewarded with the funds to bring in a part time specialist who will be focusing on the front line of Cayman’s growing child abuse problem. From supporting child and family services to identify children at risk and assisting law enforcement in the prosecution of cases, Dr Hoeksema said the new practitioner should be joining the hospital in the next few weeks.

Speaking at a special press briefing to announce the support from Hedge Fund Care, Head of Paediatrics at the Cayman Islands Hospital, Dr Marilyn McIntyre explained that one abused child affects future children as it is well known that victims of abuse often go on to become abusive parents. Without intervention those who are abused can lead to the doubling of abuse cases.
Once in place the new psychologist will be working with children who have suffered different types of abuse. Dr McIntyre noted that when people talk of abuse it is often taken as meaning sexual abuse but in reality children are subjected to many forms of abuse including physical violence and emotional cruelty.  “Children who are ridiculed or bullied and made to feel unwelcome at home become prey to criminal gangs and are vulnerable to becoming juvenile offenders.”
She explained that by helping these children and their families a psychologist can not only prevent the mistreatment of the specific child at risk in the here and now but prevent future abuse and even future crime.
The hope is the new psychologist will also be able to assist in improving prosecutions and help police with the key forensic interview work with young victims. While the hospital said it would be great to have a full time forensic interviewing expert on staff the goal was to recruit a psychologist into this new post with those skills.
The existing psychologist Dr Antonia Hawkins noted how distressing it was when cases did not go before the courts for various reasons and the police face a number of challenges in getting these cases to the stage of prosecution.  
“If these cases don’t reach the court the persons cannot be prosecuted so they are free to offend again,” Dr McIntyre emphasized.
Hospital officials also spoke about the continuing increase in abuse and said paediatricians are seeing as many as three cases every month.
Despite anecdotal evidence to suggest that abuse of children is not new in Cayman, Dr McIntyre said the problem had increased significantly in the last five years and she noted that when she first came to the island more than 20 years ago it was quite rare.
For many years however, the issue of domestic and child abuse in families had been a taboo subject and there are those that believe the incest as well as violence in homes was simply ignore. Today however, with greater awareness and openness in the community light is now being shed on some of the patterns of abuse that have been a part of the community over the years.
Dr Hawkins also spoke about the changing trends in abuse and illustrative of the sexualisation of girls at a younger age. She said while people often assume child abuse is between caretakers and their charges in reality it is far more complex. “We often assume abuse is about adult caretakers targeting young children but we are seeing increases in adults praying on teens. The reality of the situation is that 12 and 13 year olds can’t go to movies without being approached by adult men making sexual advances and we have the problem of teens threatening teens as well.
Dr Hawkins also spoke about the problems some parents have and how they desperately needed parenting support as they often lacked the ability to parent properly and protect their children from external abuse.
Faced with numerous challenges in the area Dr Hoeksema spoke about the desire at the hospital for some time to relieve the pressure on Dr Hawkins and try and help more children.
“We are passionate about helping these children and we have been looking at ways where, despite the financial turmoil we could enhance the programme. It has been very painful to feel we didn’t have adequate resources but it’s a joyous day now that we have received this help from Hedge Fund care,” Dr Hoeksema said.
In tune with many other jurisdictions doctors and health care professionals in Cayman are getting better at identifying the signs of abuse and hence why the figures are growing. He also noted that abuse is by no means unique to our islands as studies around the world have revealed that one in three women will admit to some form of sexual abuse growing up.
Hedge Fund Care, an international NGO which was established in the Cayman Islands in 2005, focuses on giving financial assistance to projects and initiatives that are aimed at reducing the abuse and neglect of children. Following the HSA application Geoff Ruddick explained that it, as with all others went through a vigorous selection process which includes an academic consultant, but the organisation was happy to offer the funds to help address what is major problem and assist in the goal of eradicating child abuse and neglect in the Cayman Islands.

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Local lawyers talk information exchange

| 21/05/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): In contrast to persistent beliefs around the world Cayman reveals a considerable amount of information and has done for a long time, a local senior litigation lawyer explained at a recent conference. Explaining how information is released under its Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs), Hector Robinson, Partner at Mourant de Feu & Jeune in Cayman, set out the legal framework to a seminar audience of finance professionals recently. Advising delegates what to do if served with a request from the regulatory body relating to Cayman’s 17 TIEA he pointed out that Cayman had been exchanging information with the US since 2005.

The country’s first TIEA Was with the United States which had been negotiated in 2001 and brought into law in 2005 through the Tax Information Authority Law. He said that Cayman had received regular requests for information from the US since that time, and that all requests had been satisfied without any legal challenge to any individual request.
 
Robinson was speaking at the Westin Casuarina Resort on the theme of ‘Cayman Prepared: Adapting to the Demands of New Financial Regulations in the US and Cayman’. He stressed that when TIEA requests were received, no ‘fishing expeditions’ were permitted and he set out some of the features of the legislation. He spoke about the type of information that may be exchanged, the protection given to the individuals in respect of and from where the information is sought and the procedures which must be followed when a
request for information is made.
 
He added that other safeguards had been built in, such as the requirement that the information provided had to be kept confidential both by the Authority and the requesting country, and that the requesting country could not, without the consent of the Cayman Authority, use the data for any investigation or proceedings other than that stated in the request. However, he also noted that Cayman’s confidentiality law does not apply to TIEA requests.
 
Hector Robinson, who has nearly 20 years’ experience as a litigator, shared a platform with a team of specialist lawyers from Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, visiting Cayman from their offices in New York, Palo Alto and San Francisco, and by Mourant litigation colleague, Nicholas Dixey, who summarised the rules governing civil recovery under the Proceeds of Crime Law for delegates.

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Info boss orders key release

| 21/05/2010 | 46 Comments

(CNS): Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert has ordered the Cabinet Office to release transcripts of the Constitutional negotiations. In her fourth decision made under the Freedom of Information Law, 2007, Dilbert considered that access to an issue as important as the country’s Constitution was in the public interest and found no evidence that it would cause harm. The FOI application asked for the transcripts of the three rounds of talks that took place over the course of 5 months, from September 2008 and February 2009, between Cayman Islands representatives and the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office over what should be included in the new Constitution. The Cabinet Office withheld the release on four separate grounds, including prejudice of public affairs.

However, Dilbert ordered the release on several factors, including the lack of evidence that at this point in time it could be considered harmful or prejudicial to public affairs.  
The transcripts cover the negotiations which led to the final document that was put before the people on 20 May 2009 in the country’s first referendum, but the discussions between Cayman and the FCO delegates were conducted mostly behind closed doors.
Cayman was represented by members of government, the opposition, the Cayman Ministers Association, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Chamber of Commerce and the Human Rights Committee. Feedback collected from individuals and groups during wide public consultation was also addressed during the talks.
According to the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Cabinet Office originally withheld the release of the transcripts under four separate grounds of exemption: 15(a) disclosure would prejudice international relations, 15(b) information was communicated in confidence, 21(1)(b) disclosure would inhibit free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation, and 21(1)(d) disclosure would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.
In her deliberations Dilbert made the decision to order the release of the records because of the lack of evidence from the public authority that releasing the transcripts at this date would be harmful. She also carefully considered the public interest in releasing such information and determined that access to information on an issue as important as the Constitution of our Islands is indeed in the public interest. 
In her decision document Dilbert reveals that, although the Cabinet Office took only a week to refuse the original request, made in March 2009, it took over 100 days for the Internal Review to be completed. Section 34 of the FOI Law definitively sets out that an Internal Review of the original decision by the chief/principle officer of the public authority, which in this case was the cabinet secretary, shall be made within 30 calendar days of the notification.
Dilbert’s office made contact directly with the Cabinet Office and following that the applicant was then told the decision to withhold was being upheld. The ICO then began a process of mediation — delayed as a result of scheduling issues between the authority and the applicant. However, by the end of 2009, when it was clear mediation was not going to work, a formal hearing was set for the first quarter of 2010.
During the hearing Dilbert said the Cabinet Office had failed to draw any correlation between the release of these records and any type of prejudice.
“The only foreign government or international organization involved is the FCO and they have since advised that they have no objection to the release of the record,” Dilbert wrote.
She also revealed that the public authority had not provided even anecdotal evidence to indicate how the disclosure at this point in time would be likely to inhibit the free and frank exchange of views.
“I have not been provided with any affidavit evidence from any of the participants regarding how they might view their willingness to take part in such a venture in the future,” Dilbert noted and further said that no evidence existed that participants were informed that their comments would be confidential.
In her ruling the information commissioner says that allowing the public to read the transcripts regarding the development of the Constitution would allow greater understanding of the processes and decisions of government.
“It will also allow the public to see some of the reasoning behind certain sections of the Constitution, as well as hold the Government accountable to what they have said in the public domain about the Constitution. Issues that are this significant to the country should be scrutinized by the people affected,” she wrote. “If people can be assured that they were represented adequately and are satisfied with how these negotiations played out, it will encourage public participation in future decision making by the Government,” Dilbert said, adding that there was a strong public interest for disclosure.
The Cabinet office now has 45 calendar days to release the documents unless an appeal is filed on or before 4 July 2010 to the Grand Court by way of judicial review of the information commissioner’s decision.
A full copy of the Decision can be found online at www.infocomm.ky. Copies can also be picked up from the Information Commissioner’s Offices in Elizabethan Square.

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Cayman shoppers wave goodbye to the plastic bag

| 21/05/2010 | 43 Comments

(CNS): All three of Cayman’s leading supermarkets have reported a great response from their customers in the goal to eliminate the plastic bag. Following the announcement that Fosters, Kirks and Hurleys had all got behind the Cayman BECOME campaign, launched at the beginning of April, and would be charging 5 cents for plastic bags from in June, shoppers are turning to reusable bags. All three grocery stores say that sales of their shopping bags have soared and even before the free ride on plastic bags is over shoppers are turning their backs on plastic.

Raquel Solomon from Fosters Food Fair said the demand for reusable bags had increased significantly. “Over the month of April we sold six times the monthly average of reusable bags that we were getting through last year – the campaign does seem to be making a real difference,” she added.
As part of the campaign, the islands three leading supermarkets will all introduce a 5 cents charge per plastic bag used from 9 June onwards. The prospect of paying for plastic bags seems to have worked and prompted many shoppers to buy reusable bags.
Charles Jury from Kirk Supermarket also said he had seen a big increase in the number of reusable bags people are purchasing, as well as a significant rise in the number of customers actually bringing their own bags to the store. “We estimate around twice as many of our customers are doing this now, compared to before,” Jury noted.
New signs in the car parks outside Fosters Food Fair stores and Kirk Supermarket are a great prompt to remind customers to take their bags with them when they head inside the store.
Meanwhile, up in Grand Harbour Hurley’s has also seen an increase in demand for their in-store reusable bags. Vinton Smithson said stocks were sold out within a week of the announcement of the campaign. “Customers are really taking it on board and are pleased to be involved in this initiative,” he said.
Stores will be implementing in-store promotions on reusable bags, so the public is encouraged to keep an eye out for these, which will provide opportunities to pick up free bags and discounted bags. The Cayman BECOME campaign will also be giving away a limited amount of free campaign branded reusable bags on the morning of 12 June at all Fosters Food Fair stores, Kirk Supermarket and Hurley’s.
Tara Tvedt from dms Organization Ltd, a member of the Corporate Green Team Network who has been joint project managing Cayman BECOME said it was fantastic that the public had been so receptive to the call to action.
“As the word gets out there, more and more people have started to bring their own bags when they shop,” Tvedt stated. “We expect this to have a significant impact on the 12 million plus plastic bags that are thrown away annually here on Grand Cayman. Although this is still a baby step in terms of addressing the solid waste management issues faced here in the Cayman Islands, it is a great start and demonstrates that the local community does care about this issue and is willing to change their habits to make a difference”.
Members of Cayman Become hope to encourage people to take these small steps eventually adding up to positive change. For more information on Cayman BECOME and what to expect, go to www.caymanbecome.ky

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Petrie and team take on Cayman’s relentless pest

| 21/05/2010 | 17 Comments

(CNS): Experts at the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) say they are winning the battle in the islands’ early seasonal mosquito emergence. The outbreak of mosquitoes was a result of short heavy rains in early April before the MRCU could cover the islands’ swamp lands with pellets. Although two or three localised areas in Grand Cayman remain, MRCU Director Dr William Petrie said the problem has been brought largely under control. Despite what people may think, Dr Petrie said, this was a natural issue and not a financial one and the outbreak was not down to budget cuts.

The unexpected heavy mid-April rains accelerated the hatching of mosquito larvae in the swamps across Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands.
 
“This rain flooded all grasslands and swamps, resulting in the mass breeding of mosquitoes. So we went from having no mosquitoes, to having a serious problem on the three islands,” Dr Petrie explained.
 
In previous years, MRCU treated the swamps with pellets in May, in anticipation of the June rains. This was done in order to significantly reduce the emergence of the pest. Doing the treatment in April would normally be too early. However, there were heavy rains in April this year before the scheduled treatment was done.
 
“We would not have treated the swamps in April, as that was before the normal heavy rains. We have to apply the pellets at just the right time, for maximum effect, “Dr Petrie added.
In order to get the numbers down, Petrie said, the MRCU has conducted conventional spraying and ground operations on all three islands.
 
The mosquito plan has been very active, completing seven aerial spray operations in Grand Cayman since April.  Also in Grand Cayman, 18 ground-fogging operations have been carried out, and theareas identified as having small mosquito populations are being retreated as necessary.
 
In Cayman Brac, the MRCU has completed 28 ground operations and 14 in Little Cayman.
“We will continue to work around-the-clock to manage the situation, and we will keep the public abreast of all developments,” Dr Petrie said.
 
These mosquitoes are not related to the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito, which breed in standing water in populated areas such as yards and gardens.

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New plan for young offenders

| 21/05/2010 | 48 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News(CNS): Cayman’s juvenile offenders could be held in progressive, modern cottage-like units rather than in a more traditional security institution, the Minister for Community Affairs has revealed. Mike Adam told a meeting of the Young United Democratic Party that his ministry was examining a modern type of young offenders’ centre that had been pioneered in the state of Missouri and had enjoyed some of the highest rates of success in the entire United States when it came to juvenile offenders. Adam said that $2 million had been allocated in the 2010/11 budget to begin the work on the centre which had a target completion date of 2013 and would be located in East End on the site of the former prison farm.

Attending the YUDP monthly meeting on Thursday evening, which was focusing on at risk and vulnerable youth, Adam discussed a number of issues with the members, ranging from the Young Parenting Programme to the renovation of the Francis Bodden Girls’ Home, which is due to re-open within the next few weeks following its closure in January 2009 as a result of a fire set by one of the residents.
Adam also talked about the longer term plan of building a separate young offenders institution as required by the Bill of Rights in the Cayman Islands Constitution 2009, which provides for the separation of young offenders from adult prisoners.
Currently male offenders as young as 14 can be housed alongside adult criminals at Eagle House in HM Prison Northward and young girls in HM Prison Fairbanks. Adam said the goal was to build an institution that used modern and therapeutic techniques to rehabilitate juvenile offenders in a different way, using self motivation and treatments based on reward and development rather than the old fashioned methods of punishment.
He explained that the Missouri Model, as it is known, houses the young offenders in smaller cottage-type homes, which are graded according to the youngster’s rehabilitation and development. Adam said the system had been reviewed by various justice systems and had far better results that othermore traditional punitive institutions in which young people are incarcerated.
Sometimes called the "Missouri Miracle", the system is unique in that the centres don’t look like jails and focus on highly trained and educated staff working in teams with small groups of youths.
According to Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defence Fund the youngsters are treated with respect and dignity, and instead of traditional correctional approaches, the system uses a “rehabilitative and therapeutic model that works towards teaching the young people to make positive, lasting changes in their behaviour.” Fewer than 8 percent of the youths in the Missouri system return again after their release and fewer than 8 percent go on to adult prisons.
Adam said that his ministry was talking with officials in Missouri to see how the method could be introduced here in Cayman.
In the interim however, Adam said that the ministry was also establishing a new temporary therapeutic unit for boys and girls at the Bonaventure home in order to separate young people with behavioural, disciplinary and criminal issues from children at both Bonaventure and Francis Bodden girl’s home, for care and protection purposes. He said the new unit would cater to the specialist needs of young people at risk.
Adam noted that such care for the community’s young people at risk was expensive for Cayman as the therapeutic needs of the youngsters were diverse. Cayman had bigcity problems and numerous challenges, the minister said, but maybe only a few young people, sometimes only one, suffering from unique and specific behavioural problems or treatment needs. Even if there was only one child or teen with a unique condition, the government had to employ the necessary specialist that could deal with each and every one of the diverse needs of its most vulnerable young people.

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