Archive for May, 2010

Cayman faces busy season

| 31/05/2010 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Forecasters are agreed on one thing this hurricane season: this could be one of the most turbulent seasons ever. From the famous duo at Colorado State University to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) experts, forecasters warn there could be up to 23 named storms in the Atlantic in the 2010 season. Cayman marks the start of hurricane season tomorrow, 1 June with a special event on the lawn of the Glass House. Everyone is invited to the National Weather Service Day with the official launch of the National Weather Service taking place at 12:00 noon.

With experts predicting anything from eight to 14 hurricanes, Cayman is very likely to be on alert a number of times this season. Hazard management has now installed directional signs for local hurricane shelters, making it easier for residents and visitors to find them. A total of 40 of the emergency shelter signs have been erected around the island with the help of the National Roads Authority.
Statistically, September is the peak month of the hurricane season but early and late season storms sometimes form in the western Caribbean, and Hazard Management is warning all residents to make sure they are prepared for a storm at any time.
“When late or early season storms form the lead time for preparation can be short. Services such as supermarkets, gasoline, banks, running water, electricity and many of the other items that we have grown accustomed to in our daily routines may not be available after a hurricane,” warns the agency. “It could be a week or more before the flow of normal goods and services are restored. Don’t get caught out, set aside food and water for 5 to 7 days.”
Residents by now should have already serviced their generators, checked shutters, removed debris from yards and trimmed trees. The public is also being reminded to ensure that travel documents are up to date as well as insurance policies.
This hurricane seasonal will bring an added worry for environmentalists as oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico. If a hurricane rolled over the spill, the winds and storm surges could disperse the oil over a wider area. “It would very definitely turn an environmental disaster into an unprecedented environmental catastrophe,” said Brian D. McNoldy, a tropical storms researcher at Colorado State University has said.
The pacific has already produce first storm of the season this weekend. Tropical Storm Agatha dumped rain on Central America, triggering flash floods and landslides killing close to 100 people.

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High time

| 31/05/2010 | 11 Comments

This is an open letter to the government, the Human Rights Commission, the legal fraternity and the general public, written in the interest of promoting better governance, greater transparency and justice. A former Member of Parliament called the local radio talk show recently and recounted a situation they considered to have been unfair and declared that true justice would only come on Judgment Day.

I was struck by the obvious concern in his voice and it reminded me again that we all have a duty to do what we can to improve our systems.

We need look no further than the Levers tribunal transcripts to see that even our judges are subject to the same frailties of the human condition that we all are. Everyone at times is subject to emotion, bias and subjectivity, but there can be no doubt the judiciary should expect to be held to higher standards.

Important words were stated by Justice Henderson after his wrongful arrest when he suggested that it should be a requirement for all judges. This statement no doubt sought to emphasize the importance of a key foundation principle of justice, that being the “presumption of innocence”.

A recent court ruling has led to a historic prosecutory appeal which will deal with the other fundamental principle of justice, the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” to determine someone’s guilt.

One thing is for sure, neither of these judges or their defense teams would have tolerated a situation where their tribunal or case did not have trusted official verbatim transcripts of the proceedings. Ironically, a key issue in the tribunal was the dispute of what had actually transpired in the courtroom which would not have arisen in the first place had there been proper records. Public announcements were also recently made of the move to have more judge only trials as opposed to the more expensive and time consuming jury trials.

As pressure mounts on our justice system to put criminals away, it also becomes correspondingly important to improve the systems that ensure a fair trial for all. One way to help is by implementing an audio-visual record of the proceedings and the production of professionally produced transcripts in a timely manner. This standard should be for both the Summary Court as well as the Grand Court. Cases where the galleries are not filled with members of the public as witnesses should also have the same expectation of fairness.

When the lights of transparency are burning brightly, we can expect improved governance and justice and it’s high time we turned up the dimmer switch.



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Officials say Coke is still in Jamaica

| 29/05/2010 | 23 Comments

(CNS): Jamaican police say they have intelligence that Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke is still in the country despite rumours the alleged drug lord had fled. Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said yesterday that he was confident Coke who is wanted by the US to face arms- and drug-trafficking charges, was in Jamaica and he would be apprehended. The security forces now plan a renewed a push on Monday to arrest him the country’s police commissioner added at a press briefing on Friday. The death toll has risen to 76 as a result of violence triggered by attempts of Jamaican authorities in the last week including 73 civilians, two police officers and one soldier.

"The latest intelligence we have is that Coke is still in the jurisdiction," Ellington told the media. "He is now on the run and we will catch him, we will execute that warrant and he will face justice. The difference with Coke is that he and persons loyal to him believe that he is above the law. He believes that he should not be arrested in Jamaica and he should not face trial for crimes he has committed in a foreign country."
Last Monday, a joint police/military team launched a major offensive against a militia loyal to Coke. According to reports in the Jamaican Observer, his supporters had mounted booby-trapped barricades at all entrances to his Tivoli Gardens base and had started shooting at police who had tried to clear the blockades. They also torched two police stations and the Coronation Market in downtown Kingston.
The security forces said Coke’s militia was very well-organised and mounted a stout defence against their efforts to stabilise the notorious stronghold.
"They were very well-organised; they knew what they were doing. We encountered very sophisticated defensive layouts. The resistance was fierce and lasted for about 12 hours," Colonel Rocky Meade, head of communications of the Jamaica Defence Force, said.
The soldiers showed journalists a slide show and video footage of improvised explosive devices rigged to barricades, plastic explosives, shrapnel, rifles and handguns recovered, men walking freely with firearms and using binoculars from high-rise buildings in the community. The soldiers also found that the explosive devices were attached by wires to remote devices which led to houses in the community. The security forces also said they found large amounts of local and foreign currency in Coke’s office.
The security team now say they have recovered 22 illegal weapons, 8,000 rounds of ammunition, police and military outfits and other military paraphernalia.
Authorities also said they had detained more than 700 people.
At that briefing, Ellington reiterated government denials that members of the security forces have burned bodies. According to CNN resident of Tivoli Gardens told them that they saw security forces torch dead people and that they feared the authorities were burning bodies to cover up the extent of the violence.
 "I literally saw them wrap up men in sheets and put tires on them and burn them," one man told the international news organisation, adding that the people were already dead when their bodies were burned.
The police commissioner reiterated government denials Friday. “Reports that authorities have burned or secretly buried bodies are false,” he said. ‘Several senior officials who investigated the burning reports found no sign that the reports were true.”
Amnesty International has called for an independent investigation into the deaths of the civilians killed since last Sunday and security forces have admitted killing unarmed civilians because of the pressure of the operation.
Coke, the man at the centre of the violence what has propelled Jamaica on to the world media stage, has a heroic reputation in Kingston having been likened to Robin Hood and Jesus because he has helped the community by handing out food, sending children to school and building medical centres.


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Dudus is not the enemy of Jamaica

| 29/05/2010 | 0 Comments

On the face of it, the (recent deaths in Kingston) are due to defiant citizens rising up against initiatives by the security forces, on orders of the government, to detain Christopher "Dudus" Coke to answer US extradition charges. The spread of the killings and mayhem has been blamed on various factors, including payments to opposing gangsters and opportunism by local criminals. At the time of writing, Coke had not been captured. ….For the sake of whatever future Jamaicans must face when this crisis passes, continued analysis of these sad, tragic developments is vital. And the most obvious truth emanating from the Dudus saga….is that Dudus in not the real enemy of which Jamaicans should be wary.

Dudus is a fall guy and the media hype surrounding his story is a smokescreen.

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Swiss naked hiker’s appeal upheld

| 28/05/2010 | 0 Comments

(BBC): A court in Switzerland has upheld the appeal of a man who was fined for rambling naked.  The court in Trogen ruled that the naked hiking did not amount to "indecent behaviour". A prosecutor was quoted as saying the ruling should not be seen as giving blanket permission for people to walk naked in the area. The case was the first since the eastern Swiss canton of Appenzell allowed naked hikers to be fined. Appenzell has become a popular destination for those who like to hike without clothes, but many locals are unhappy about the trend.

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Cook-off winner turns marine pest into spicy tacos

| 28/05/2010 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Winning first place in the Local (non professional) Cooks category in the Little Cayman Sister Islands Cook-Off, Mike Vallee sliced and diced a growing pest to Cayman Islands’ reefs and served it up as an entrée, “Spicy Lionfish Tacos”. Though their spines are venomous, the Red Lionfish flesh is good eating and, like many organisation around the Caribbean trying to keep the numbers if these fish down, the Department of Environment (DoE) is promoting the fact that they can be eaten. For anyone wondering how to best to serve them, CNS has included a section in our Classifieds for Lionfish Recipes, and invites everyone to share recipes or tips.

To upload recipes, go to and click on “Post your Free Ad Here”. To start the ball rolling, head chef at the Little Cayman Beach Resort, Chef Anthony Pizzarello, has contributed three recipes: Ginger-tempura lionfish with wasabi-chili tartar sauce and sweet soy, ‘Corn-dusted lionfish BLT wrap with chipotle mayonnaise’, ‘Petite spinach salad and sherry-honey lime vinaigrette’, and ‘Caribbean tamarind glazed lionfish with tropical fruit chutney and smoked paprika basmati rice’, which can all be found in Lionfish Recipes.

The Department of Environment has been taking steps to control the rapid growth of the Red Lionfish since the first one was spotted in February 2008 in Little Cayman. Native to Pacific waters, Red Lionfish are beautiful but they are ravenous eating machines that reproduce very quickly and present a real threat to the Atlantic eco-systems, where they are increasingly prevalent.

They have no known predators in local waters – except humans, so efforts to control this invasive and destructive species include educating the public, with a series of awareness seminars (the next one is this Saturday, 29 May, at the Elmslie Memorial Church Hall, George Town) and training divers how to catch them. Because they have venomous spines which can cause painful wounds in humans, untrained divers are encouraged not to catch them themselves but to report sightings to the DoE at 949-8469, or Grand Cayman – Mark (916-4271), Little Cayman – Keith (916-7021), Cayman Brac – Robert (926-2342).

At this point, there are over 400 residents licensed to catch lionfish, and from January 2009 through April of this year these trained divers have caught over 1,500 fish around Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, DoE Research Officer Bradley Johnson told CNS. “We’re seeing an increase in the size and amount of lionfish in the water, as we expected, which is why we’re still trying to get people aware and interested in culling them.”

Because following Hurricane Paloma there were few divers in the waters of Cayman Brac, that island is the most infested, Johnson said. A small groupof residents and all the dive staff from Reef Divers are licensed to catch the lionfish but the DoE needs more help and Johnson said they would be doing more to promote the problem on the island this summer.

Because the lionfish found their way to Little Cayman and the Brac before they were seen around Grand Cayman the Sister Islands are slightly ahead in terms of size and abundance of fish, Johnson noted. “Grand Cayman has the most cullers by far and we’re always having training courses and generating interest in it." He said the Brac and Little Cayman have about 30 cullers each.

For more information about the invasive Red Lionfish, go to the DoE website.

Dates of the Lionfish Awareness meetings

The DOE Lionfish Culling Group Facebook page

Results of the Little Cayman Cook-Off

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Security forces take control of Coke’s stronghold

| 28/05/2010 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Jamaican security officials continued to clear blockades with bulldozers set up by the followers of suspected drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke to block his stronghold of Tivoli Gardens, on Friday. At least 73 people have now been killed in the battle between security forces and the armed supporters of Coke — and allegations continue that the death toll is far higher. On the fifth day of urban violence, sections of the capital remained under a state of emergency and the search continued for the man who is wanted by the US authorities on drug-trafficking and gun-running charges.Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga has criticized the current government for not protecting residents of Tivoli Coke’s stronghold, arguing that the fighting had caused widespread suffering.

Seaga has called on government officials to lift the lockdown so trapped residents have access to food and medication.

Seaga, the former leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and Member of Parliament for West Kingston is calling for the resignation of his successor, Prime Minister Bruce Golding. According to the Jamaica Observer the man who built the community of Tivoli Gardens, has accused Golding of mismanaging the United States extradition request for Coke and described the security operation as an atrocity.
The Jamaican police have renewed their appeal for Coke who has still not been apprehended to give himself up. The Jamaican Observer reported that police had gone to premises in the upscale community of Kirkland Heights in upper St Andrew yesterday after they gained intelligence that Coke was hiding out there.
Coke was not there but police reportedly shot and killed Keith Clarke, the brother of former People’s National Party member of Parliament Claude Clarke. Four Jamaica Defence Force soldiers were injured during the operation and the Bureau of Special Investigations is probing the incident.

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Deficit close to $50 million

| 28/05/2010 | 74 Comments

(CNS): Government has said it now plans to bring its 2010-2011 budget to the Legislative Assembly on 15 June, two weeks later than the premier had announced at the last press briefing. The expected earnings and proposed spending plans of the UDP government have been submitted to the UK, and the new overseas territories minister is said to be making a decision regarding the Cayman government’s borrowing requirement. Although government has not revealed the figure, estimates are that government will need to borrow over $200 million in order to complete existing projects, commence a number of new capital works and plug the deficit of around $50million from the 2009/10 budget.

According to a joint statement from the premier and the governor, the throne speech is expected to take place on 15 June and the debate on the budget itself, which will be followed by the Finance Committee meeting, will commence on 18 June.
McKeeva Bush had said at his most recent press conference that he hoped to bring the budget by the end of May but the delay, he now says, is down to the need to meet the new Overseas Territories Minister, Henry Bellingham, to gain approval for the significant borrowing which Cayman will need for 2010/11.
“This further delay in bringing the budget to the Legislative Assembly is necessary in order to allow the new United Kingdom Government sufficient time to examine the Cayman Islands’ 2010-11 Budget and three-year financial plan,” Bush said. “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s approval is needed in respect of the borrowing requirement for the coming fiscal year.”
Bush is now scheduled to meet with the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State responsible for Overseas Territories on 8 June 2010. “If an agreement has not already been reached by then the Premier will use this meeting to seek this approval,” the joint statement said.
Government must have the budget approved and the appropriation law passed by 30 June in order for it to carry on its business at the start of the new fiscal year on 1 July.
“The Legislative Assembly will work extended hoursuntil the budget is passed to ensure that an appropriation law is in place by 30 June 2010,” Bush said. As the minster of finance, Bush has warned that he will be “doing things differently” from the way proceedings have been conducted in the past when he takes over as the chair of the Finance Committee.
The full details of the forthcoming budget have not yet been revealed but it is understood there are no new direct taxes proposed.
Government appears to be facing a $47 million deficit from core government spending and around $2.5 from government companies. As a result, the deficit is estimated to be almost $50 million, in contrast to the $5 milllion surplus that had been predicted by government when it brought the full 2009/10 budget in October.
The deficit appears to have been caused as a result of continuing declining revenues, despite increases in duty, work permit fees and several business fees impose in the last budget. Government’s predicted earnings are estimated at some $77 million less than had been forecast.

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Jeffers revealed as alleged West Bay killer

| 28/05/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Twenty-six year old Raziel Omar Jeffers, who has already been charged with one count of murder for the killing of Damian Ming in West Bay in March, is the man police have now charged with the murder of Marcus Ebanks (20) (left) and the attempted murder of Adryan Powell also in West Bay. Jeffers appeared in court yesterday to face his second murder and attempted murder charges. Authorities say Jeffers and another masked gunman jumped from the bushes on Bonaventure Lane and began firing at seven young men. Ebanks was killed and two others were wounded, including Powell, who was only 14 at the time and who is now paralysed as a result of the incident, along with Roy Ebanks who was 18 on the night of the shooting.

News 27 reports that attorney Ben Tonner of Samson McGrath is representing Jeffers and his client will appear in court next month for preliminary enquiries for both of the murder and attempted murder charges he faces.
Damian Ming (29), who was shot and killed on Birch Tree Hill Road in West Bay on Thursday, 25 March at around 9:45 pm, was the second person to be shot in a twenty four hour period of gang related killings in West Bay.
Both Adryan and Marcus’ mothers spoke to the TV station about their ordeals and how they felt about Jeffers’ arrest.

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Caribbean business falls 10% for Cable & Wireless

| 28/05/2010 | 10 Comments

(CNS): Cable & Wireless Communications (formerly Cable and Wireless International) revealed its first financial results since its demerger from the telecoms group in London yesterday. Seeking to reassure investors Tony Rice, Chief Executive said the company had delivered a good result in what has been a difficult period for all telecommunications companies around the world. He said the planned dividend of 8 cents for 2010-11 was a "base" from which it should rise. The reported revenue of $2.4bn for the year to March 31 was down 4 per cent from last year but revenue fell 10 per cent in the Caribbean region.

“Panama has withstood the initial challenges of two new mobile entrants and continues to perform well, with EBITDA increasing by 3% during the year to its highest level ever,” Rice said. “The Caribbean is facing its most difficult economic conditions in a generation and this has been reflected in the results. The region has stabilised with second half performance broadly in line with the first half but the near term economic outlook is still uncertain.”
Rice said the businesses were “positioned for the future” as the company had leading positions in attractive markets.
Tim Pennington, the firm’s Chief Financial Officer of said it had been both a bust and challenging year.
“CWI produced EBITDA of US$908 million, which met the profit forecast contained within the demerger prospectus,” he said. “For reporting purposes this figure is reduced by US$42 million to US$866 million incorporating a full year of Central costs, which represent the headquarter costs of the former Cable and Wireless plc. One of the benefits of demerger is that we can slimthese costs down and I would expect them to be closer to US$25 million next financial year.”
At the press conference in London Rice said it was too early to say if revenue growth would return this year. The firm recommended a final dividend of 3.34 per share as indicated in the demerger prospectus.

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