Archive for June 1st, 2010

Police urge community to hand in weapons

| 01/06/2010 | 4 Comments

(CNS): With only ten days left before the end of the RCIPS gun amnesty, police are making another appeal to the community to hand in illegal, unwanted and unlicensed guns and ammunition before the ‘no questions asked’ period is over.Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden asked the public to continue to back the amnesty and use these last few days to hand in their weapons and help reduce gun crime in Cayman. Police have said that once the amnesty comes to an end there will be a serious clamp down on anyone found in possession of an illegal weapon. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

“The amnesty is a golden opportunity for people to get rid of illegal, unwanted and unlicensed guns and ammunition,” DS Bodden said. “Many people throughout the Cayman Islands have already taken part. To date the campaign has been well supported and we’ve had shotguns, handguns, imitation firearms, ammunition, detonators and a bow and arrows all handed in. But the clock is now ticking. In ten days that window of opportunity closes.
He explained that everyone had to play their part in reducing violent crime and asked them to seize this opportunity.
“I’m sure that the vast majority of law abiding people on the islands will agree with me when I say that, as a community, we must do everything that we can to stop guns falling into the wrong hands and being used for criminality. That’s why today I want to make a specific appeal to people who have illegal, unlicensed or illegal guns and ammunition in their possession not to let this opportunity pass.”
The senior officer said people may have guns which were once licensed but, for whatever reason, they have let that license lapse.
“If that’s the case then I would ask them to please use this ten last days to do the right thing. Bring the guns in and drop them in the secure boxes, or hand them to police staff. That’s all it takes to play your part and cut gun crime in Cayman,” DS Bodden added.

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Help wanted for national count

| 01/06/2010 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Government officials are on the hunt for people who want to help with Census 2010. Those interested in being a census worker are invited to attend public information meetings starting this Thursday, 3 June in West Bay. Government will need around 270 people to help complete the nationwide count which is taking place this October. “We are urging all interested persons to come, listen and sign up for a chance to be chosen as a census worker,” Economics and Statistics Office Director Maria Zingapan said.

 Attendees will learn about the criteria to qualify to be census workers. These include having a high school diploma or higher, a current driver’s licence, and use of reliable transportation. Census workers must also be discreet, honest and have neat handwriting.
 
Members of the public who have already signed up are also asked to attend one of the meetings. The approximately 270 census workers selected will join the team conducting the national population and housingcount that begins on 10 October this year, the Director explained.
 
Those selected will then undergo training in September to become either enumerators or supervisors in the different districts.
 
Meetings will be held from 5.30 to 7 pm and on Grand Cayman, the meetings will be held at the John A. Cumber School Hall on on Thursday, 3 June then in George Town, on Tuesday, 8 June, at the Family Life Centre, Walkers Road and in Bodden Town, on Thursday, 10 June, at the Bodden Town Primary School. In Cayman Brac, the meeting will take place on Thursday, 10 June, at the Aston Rutty Centre.Light refreshments will be served at each meeting.
 

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Women and girls offered free HPV vaccine

| 01/06/2010 | 12 Comments

(CNS): The Public Health Department in conjunction with the Cayman Islands Cancer Society is offering the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine free of charge to all females aged 9 – 26 years. The vaccine will be available on a first come, first serve basis at the Public Health Department, officials said. The vaccination drive runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., starting on Monday, 7 June until Friday, 11 June. The vaccine can prevent some types of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause most cases of cervical cancer. Researchers believe the vaccine can offer protection for a considerable period of time and recommend women are vacinated before they become sexually active. 

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Judge misbehaved says report

| 01/06/2010 | 0 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island headline News, Justice Priya Levers(CNS):  Updated Three tribunal judges have said that Cayman Islands Grand Court Judge, Justice Priya Levers, should be removed from office. According to the tribunal report, which was released on Tuesday 1 June by the Governor’s Office, the judges found that: “her misconduct, taken as a whole, has demonstrated her unsuitability to remain on the bench and we regard it as so serious as to amount to misbehaviour justifying her removal from office.”  However, Levers’ legal team has said that the Privy Council is in no way bound by the report and her case will be heard on 21 June, when they will argue that the evidence did not support the conclusions of the tribunal.

The Governor’s Office says it has released the report of the tribunal, which heard the case against Levers in May of last year, in accordance with the direction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council given on 18 February. The tribunal was convened by the former governor, Stuart Jack, as a result of information presented to him from Chief Justice Anthony Smellie.

Levers was accused of misbehaviour based on comments made in court, her reported behaviour towards other judges, lawyers, defendants and complainants, as well as criticising the chief justice and writing letters to a local newspaper (Cayman Net News) that brought the judiciary into disrepute. Although the tribunal said there was no evidence to support the allegation that she had written the letters to the press, the judges found that her conduct in other areas amounted to misbehaviour.
The three judges comprising the tribunal, Sir Andrew Leggatt, Sir Philip Otton and Sir David Simmons, found that in the cases presented to them Levers had shown herself to be “unfit for judicial office”. The senior judges said that they were satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that she “surreptitiously undermined the office, and the holder of the office, of Chief Justice by constant criticism of him to third parties.”
The report of the tribunal, which was given to Jack in August last year, was kept under wraps at the direction of the Privy Council in the UK, which will hear the case against Levers later this month.
Following the release of the report her legal team released a statement to CNS stating that the Privy Council is in no way bound by this report, and only the Privy Council can adjudicate on the merits of the evidence and whether the removal proceedings were either warranted or lawful.
“On behalf of Madam Justice Levers, it will be argued that the Tribunal of Inquiry’s findings were illegal,” her legal team stated. “Unfair at the investigatory and instigation stage, due process was not observed and she was treated unfairly by the Chief Justice; the evidence did not support the conclusions of the Tribunal of Inquiry that Madam Justice Levers ‘misbehaved’ such as to justify her removal as a Judge of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands; and the Tribunal of Inquiry went beyond its remit and, in making adverse findings, the Tribunal of Inquiry exceeded its powers under the Terms of Reference … contrary to the Constitution.”
The judges said in their report, however, that they were advising the governor to request that the question of the removal of Levers from office be referred to the Privy Council. The advice was based on what they said was “a pattern of misconduct amounting cumulatively to misbehaviour”. 
The judges stated in the report: “It became apparent from our Inquiry that the judge’s conduct had fallen below the required standards both in court and out of court. In court her cavalier treatment, when the inclination took her, of parties, witnesses and attorneys was in breach of most of the Bangalore Principles. On such occasions the standards of judicial conduct which she exhibited must inevitably have undermined public confidence in the judiciary.”
The judges examined a number of transcripts of criminal cases, testimony from witnesses in family matters, statements from lawyers, court staff and the chief justice. The tribunal said Levers’ comments in court, as recorded on the transcripts, manifested bias and prejudice towards individuals and groups on irrelevant grounds.
“There were occasions on which she was impatient, undignified and discourteous to litigants, witnesses and lawyers,” the judges stated, suggesting she had abused her freedom of speech by exhibiting blatant bias against Jamaicans.
However, her attorneys had pointed out that Levers had lived for a considerable time in Jamaica, was married to a Jamaican and her children also considered themselves Jamaicans, and it was therefore unlikely she had any real prejudice against Jamaicans.
Although Levers had submitted some 30 character references, testifying to the professional regard in which those who wrote them held her, the judges said Levers had also proved capable of behaving quite differently.
The judges said that some 11 criminal cases had been examined in which Levers’ conduct ranged from unexceptionable to heinous. “Where there was misconduct, it was of several types, including opprobrious comments about other judges; remarks redolent of bias and prejudice; an improper visit to a crime scene and breach of an assurance given to counsel; reckless complaints against counsel of serious professional misconduct; and undeserved criticisms of counsel,” the report stated.
The judges went on to say that in many cases she made objectionable comments which went  beyond occasional inappropriate remarks and revealed a course of conduct by a judge who has shown herself to be devoid of self-control. “No system of justice, particularly in a jurisdiction in which there are only four permanent Grand Court judges, can afford to include one who from time to time behaves in a way that is so uncouth, so insensitive and so unpleasant as to appear unfair. These were incidents explicable not by tiredness or inadvertence, but only by self-importance and an attitude of superiority as well as by an unbecoming lack of restraint,” the report revealed.
As well as criticising her comments regarding defendants, witnesses and her judicial colleagues, the report also criticised Levers for visiting a crime scene during a firearms case, where she had suggested to the lawyers involved that a gun discovered there by police could have been a plant. The tribunal suggested her actions, without informing counsel, in inventing a defence of ‘plant’ in the absence of evidence and in breaching her undertaking not to advance the issue in her summing-up, amounted together to serious misconduct.
A statement from her legal team at Stuarts Walker Hersant said evidence that was either “blatantly incredible, melodramatic or speculative … was, if not accepted by the Tribunal of Inquiry, relied upon by it to reach adverse conclusions which were contrary to the evidence and contrary to law.”
Her lawyers sated: “Of the many allegations made against Madam Justice Levers, most of which were grounded in speculation and lacked either specificity, independence or corroboration, the Tribunal of Inquiry made few adverse findings. Regrettably, though, such adverse conclusions as the Tribunal of Inquiry reached were without evidential foundation and were, for the most part, expressed in intemperate terms, seemingly ignorant of the fact that Madam Justice Levers, a learned and distinguished jurist, had the support of a substantial majority of legal practitioners, of diverse experience, who had had the privilege of appearing before her in the Grand Court. “

The legal team also noted that once the governor determined to involve the Privy Council, she had no choice, at great cost to the public purse, to be heard by the Privy Council to adjudicate on the merits of the case. The proceedings will now be held in public on 21 June for a four day hearing at the Supreme Court Buildings in Parliament Square in London, where the Privy Council will decide if Levers will or will not be removed from the bench.

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Reggae artist offers insight into world of music

| 01/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Chalice band leader and guitarist Wayne Armond was passing on some tips to some of Cayman’s young budding musicians recently atspecial workshop with George Hicks and John Gray high school students. In the Cayman Islands to headline a concert last month Armond agreed to do the workshop arranged by the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association. Armond has been with the reggae band Chalice which ahs enjoyed a number of international hits since the band was formed in the early 1980s.

Even though years 9 through 11 students were busy taking and preparing for their exams, a GIS release revealed, they were more than eager to take a break and pick his brain about all things musical. Foremost on their minds was advice on how to start and successfully maintain a band. He told them the key ingredients were respect, discipline, friendship and chemistry, but these must be underpinned by a solid educational foundation. This he said they’d need to manage the business side of their music careers. 

Armond was also able to help each of the students with advice on composition which forms part of their final music exams. He urged the students to find their musical niche and to be themselves when arranging their original pieces.
Taking them on a journey through Caribbean musical history, he told them of reggae music’s evolution from its earliest forms, ska and rock-steady. He encouraged them noting that, even though it is a small region, the Caribbean has introduced the most recent musical instrument and genre to the world through the steel pan and reggae. 
Wayne Armond has been a member of the international reggae band Chalice since its inception in the early 1980s. Since then Chalice has had numerous hit singles including Still Love You, Good to Be There, I’m Trying and Dangerous Disturbances.
The group has also won peer accolades including the Jamaica Music Industry’s JAMI Award. While here the group also received the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association’s Regional Recognition Award, which is presented to Caribbean musicians and bands that have inspired local artists and influenced the Caribbean sound.

 

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UK civil servants’ salaries to be revealed

| 01/06/2010 | 1 Comment

(FT.com): More than 170 civil servants are paid more than £150,000 a year, according to data released on Tuesday under Downing Street plans to make more government data public. Eleven mandarins refused to let the government reveal their salaries, according to the Cabinet Office. The moves to greater transparency for senior civil service salaries, which total £29m a year, were instigated by Gordon Brown, former prime minister, last November. However, David Cameron wants to take the process further. By early next year, Whitehall will have to publish the pay of every civil servant earning more than £58,000 a year.

 
Tuesday’s release comes as the Treasury acted to close a loophole that was allowing senior civil servants to escape its clampdown on top public sector pay.

George Osborne, the chancellor, has ruled that no one in central government should be paid more than the prime minister’s new, lower, salary of £142,500 without permission from the Treasury.

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Hospital not dock, says Arden

| 01/06/2010 | 38 Comments

(CNS): East End’s opposition member of the Legislative Assembly, Arden McLean, has told his constituents in that he is in favour of a hospital in the district but not a cargo dock or the dump. Speaking to the people of East End at a public meeting last night, the PPM former cabinet minister said he would back whatever his people wanted but he said he believed that out of the various development projects being proposed for East End the medical facility proposed by Dr Devi Shetty would be the most advantageous for the country and his constituents.

Reporting back about his political activities on their behalf, including his recent visit with Cabinet and the representations he had made for them, he said he was standing against any proposals to move the landfill to East End or a commercial dock. However, he said  he had always been in favour of medical tourism.
“There are advantages and disadvantages to bringing any development to a community but I prefer a hospital over a dock,” he said, adding that he wanted to know how the community felt about the various proposals being made concerning the eastern districts.
McLean said he did not know exactly where the proposed 500 acre medical facility would eventually be built but it seemed as though East End was the most likely location. He said he was not going to advise people what to do about selling land in connection to the project but he believed that it was the most positive of the various proposals.
“I believe a hospital will enhance the lives of the people and offer new business opportunities and careers for the future,” he added, noting that in the end it was up to his constituents what they wanted him to support on their behalf. But he made it clear that personally he was against the cargo facility as there were too many disadvantages.
Having said that, however, McLean said he believed he and his constituents should be willing to hear out Joe Imperato, one of the local investors proposing the commercial port facility in the district, who was present at the meeting. McLean said he would be organising another meeting soon where the people of East End would be given the full details so they could decide for themselves whether they wanted the dock or not.
McLean said he already knew that his constituents were against moving the landfill to his district and so would not support that under any circumstances. Nevertheless, he noted that a proposal by another East Ender, Walling Whittaker (an independent candidate for George Town in the 2009 Election) for a waste reclamation and recycling plant could be worth considering for the district. He said that ,when the opportunity arose he would also bring Whittaker to East End to talk about this proposition. “I believe this could work it is a different type of waste management,” he added.
With a number of proposals for development in East End McLean said the people had to decide for themselves what they wanted in their district. “You may say no to them all,” he said. “But I need to inform you of what’s going on and what is being proposed to come into your community and then I will represent what you want.”
He explained that whatever was developed in the community their lives would be changed forever, whether it was a hospital or a dock, and the people needed to get all the facts before deciding.
The audience response seemed to follow the lead of their representative, with some support being voiced for the hospital but the cargo port appeared to raise various concerns. The vulnerability of such a project to a severe hurricane could cause environmental catastrophe for the whole island, not just East End, one elderly resident warned. There were also questions raised about the roads that would be required for a commercial port and the impact on the beauty and tranquillity of their district.
Imparato thanked McLean for inviting him along and said that when the time was right he would ensure the people of East End were fully informed of the details of the proposed project and he hoped he would be able to persuade them it was a good thing and to support the development. “I will share all of the details of this project very soon,” Imparato told the meeting.

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For very young, peril lurks in lithium cell batteries

| 01/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): Last fall, 13-month-old Aidan Truett of Hamilton, Ohio, developed what seemed like an upper respiratory infection. He lost interest in food and vomited a few times, but doctors attributed it to a virus. After nine days of severe symptoms and more doctor visits, the hospital finally ordered an X-ray to look for pneumonia. What they found instead was totally unexpected. The child had ingested a “button” battery, one of those flat silver discs used to power remote controls, toys, musical greeting cards, bathroom scales and other home electronics. The battery was surgically removed the next day, and Aidan was sent home.

But what neither the doctors nor his parents realized was that the damage had been done. The battery’s current had set off a chemical reaction in the child’s esophagus, burning through both the esophageal wall and attacking the aorta. Two days after the battery was removed, Aidan began coughing blood, and soon died from his injuries.

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Burst water pipe stalls morning traffic

| 01/06/2010 | 4 Comments

(CNS): The Water Authority has a broken water main in the vicinity of Dart Park, on South Church Street which is slowing the morning traffic into George Town. Drivers are being asked to avoid the area where possible or proceed with caution and obey all road signs. The authority said that its operations crew is diligently working to identify the exact location of the leak and as soon as the crew can access the problem work can begin. The WA said it should take around two hours to complete the repair.

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Money often costs too much

| 01/06/2010 | 34 Comments

The latest development in the saga that has become the salary cuts for MLAs reached new lows this past week as the government took to the airwaves on Friday justifying the new 3.2% cuts instead of the originally proposed 20%-30% cuts. The arguments put forth were as follows:

1- After doing the math, the MLAs realized that if they were to take the originally proposed 20% salary cuts their chief officers would be earning more than they would. This, we are told, would be contrary to the wishes of the people of the Cayman Islands as we would not take kindly to our elected officials earning less than their chief officers; and

2- The cuts to MLA salaries would not actually provide a substantial savings to the government, and much more time and effort were being better spent on looking for those more substantial savings.

Let us begin with the second point for it a question of mathematics and not reasoning:

15 MLAs x $120,000 (on average)= $1,800,000
15 MLAs x $96,000 (original 20% cut) = $1, 440,000

Savings to the country: $360,000

15 MLAs x $120,000 (on average)= $1,800,000
15 MLAs x $116, 160 (new 3.2% cut) = $1, 742,400

Savings to the country: $57,600

Does $360,000 saving look like a small sum in comparison to a projected $50,000,000 deficit? No doubt about it. But it doesn’t take a mathematician to see that it looks eons better ($302,400 to be exact) than a $57,600 saving.

Furthermore, it is not like any of us expected that the MLA salary cut would be the end all and be all of our budgetary woes. It is one step, perhaps small but nonetheless necessary, in getting the country back to where it needs to be. As the long string of timeless clichés will tell you, in the long run it all adds up and it will make a difference.

The first point is much trickier to address because quite frankly it is simply offensive.

The people of this country have, for some time now, questioned the salaries of civil servants, particularly those in top ranking position. In fact, government’s flip flopping on the issue of those salary cuts has created a rift between private and public sector workers as it appears that a line was drawn in the sand when the question of taxation was posed.

If MLAs too are having reservations about maintaining what some may call extravagant pay grades as they currently exist, especially in this economic crisis, then they need to simply own up to their feelings and voice them as such.

To project these reservations, however, on what “the people” will think/feel is nothing short of cowardly.

If it is the comparison of the size of your cheque to those of your subordinates’/ colleagues’ that fuels your sense of credibility/authority/confidence/ego that allows you to do your job and not the fact that it was the popular vote that has given you that very right to make decisions, then we, as a country, are in much bigger trouble than any of us imagined.

Simply put: it is the integrity of our elected representatives and their abilityto make tough decisions for the betterment of the country which is of concern and of highest priority to a great many voters in this country. That said, representatives can, while taking on such a duty to serve, make a proper living wage so that they can devote the necessary time to the responsibilities of the post and also not be easily swayed by special interests with deep pockets. This is a safeguard of the democratic process. At no point was that safeguard intended to hold a nation for ransom.

Put aside the usual arguments of how those who are elected to serve the people are meant to be there to serve, not profit. That argument has been exhausted of late, even if it has yet to sink in.

The original arguments in favor of increasing the MLAs’ salaries was to make it comparable to those of CEOs, executives, and other such prestigious posts, and to bring the remuneration of the representatives up to par to some perceived status which the post (supposedly) unequivocally requires.

If that rationale is to hold water as to why this level of remuneration should be maintained then the expectations normally attached to those CEOs and execs who make those six figure salaries must also stand.

What CEO, pray tell, who has failed to make his/her company a substantial profit would not only keep his/her job but also continue to pocket his/her hefty paycheck?

What CEO, pray tell, suspected of being responsible for enacting policies which contribute to the hemorrhaging of the company’s money (or failing to enact policies to prevent it) would continue to not only keep his/her job, but pocket his/her hefty paycheck?

This latest redirection to “how the people will feel” serves to add insult to a string of injuries that the residents of these Islands have been feeling. A six figures salary is something which most will dream of making, but few will ever earn. It is proving to be fiscally imprudent for the country in these difficult times to maintain such standard. Why, one asks, must we make the sacrifice on our measly to modest salaries, where an extra $100 a month truly makes a difference, in order to maintain someone else’s $100,000+ lifestyle?

Yet there is another question that needs to be asked: what can you know of our economic struggle when your paycheck is equivalent to three/four/five of ours? How do you continue to represent us when your reality is increasingly removed from ours? The premier freely stated that over the course of the past 34 years his home has undergone 10 renovations. That is one renovation every 3.4 years. Who can afford that?

The bottom line is simple: stop deflecting, backsliding, recanting and just do the right thing for the country. The response to the declaration that a motion would be introduced to put the original cuts back on the table for a vote should be an indication of how the people feel. How readily and greedily we grasped at the proposition is proof of how desperate we have become for even a smidgen of hope that someone, anyone, will step up to the plate for the greater good.

Do not dismiss it for lack of sophistication on our part for failing to see that the opposition is playing politics, as it was stated on Friday. Both parties have underestimated us for far too long. The introduction of the motion is merely a first step and we are watching to see how it will all play out, make no mistake.

For the record: a 20% cut of a $120,000 salary is not a sacrifice. It is not even a reality check. It is a modicum of respect for those you represent. The real sacrifice is made every day by those who are living on a salary equivalent to that 20% with which you are so unwilling to part.

"Money often costs too much" (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

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