Archive for August 25th, 2010

Danielle turns north as Earl becomes 5th named storm

| 25/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Tropical Storm Earl was around 520 miles west of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands when it became the fifth tropical storm of the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season on Wednesday afternoon. With maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, Earl is now moving west at 16 mph. The NHC said that this motion is expected to continue during the next two days, some strengthening is forecast and Earl is expected to be a hurricane by Friday. Meanwhile, Hurricane Danielle which is travelling at 17mph has made a turn to the northwest and with winds increasing to near 105 mph, on Thursday, Danielle is now a category two hurricane with further strengthening possible during the next 48 hours.

Interests in Bermuda are now being advised to monitor the progress of Danielle which is still expected to pass east of the island.
Earl is currently forecast to follow a more westerly path and the NHC says the storm should pass the region to the North of the Leeward Islands by Monday.

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Prisoner free after appeal

| 25/08/2010 | 16 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island headline news, Cayman Court of Appeal(CNS): A man who was serving a ten year sentence in Northward HMP, having been convicted on a firearms charge, walked free this morning following his acquittal by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal. The president Sir John Chadwick (left), apologised to David Whorms over the length of time it had taken for his appeal to be dealt with and told him he was free to go. Although the crown had applied for a retrial when the court handed down its written judgment allowing the appeal on the 2008 conviction for possession of an unlicensed firearm, the court said the prosecution’s case was not strong enough to warrant a retrial and acquitted Whorms. The conviction was overturned based on a misdirection of the trial judge, Justice Williams, to the jury.

The Court of Appeal found that the judge had not explained to the jury clearly enough that another individual, Cary Esteban, who was with Whorms on the night of the arrest and the discovery of the gun, could have also been in possession of the weapon.    
“In our view the jury needed to be directed … that before they could be sure the weapon was in the possession of Mr Whorms … they must be satisfied that it was not, in fact, in the possession of Mr Esteban,” the president of the Court of Appeal wrote.
During the trial, evidence had pointed to Esteban having some involvement with the weapon that was found in the car occupied by Whorms, Esteban, and a third man, Donald Nixon, by police, after they were pulled over while driving in the Cayman Kai area on the night of New Year’s Day 2008.
The loaded .38 calibre Smith & Weston revolver was found by one of the police officers under the passenger seat where Esteban was sitting. Later, a spent .38 shell was found at Esteban’s home and gunshot residue was found on Esteban’s T-shirt following specialist tests.
However, charges were dropped against Esteban and were only brought against Whorms, whose DNA was found on the weapon. His defence attorney had argued that the DNA could have made it on to the gun through transference when he was arrested and the gun found, as an expert witness had testified that it was secondary DNA.
The appeal court judges said the members of the jury were entitled to reject the notion of transference but they had not been properly directed when it came to dismissing the possibility that on the night of the arrest Whorms may not have been in possession of the gun because someone else was.
The judges said the jury should have been directed that, even though Esteban was not on trial, they needed to consider if he could have been in possession of the weapon. Unless they were satisfied he was not, they could not be sure it was Whorms.
“If they could not be sure of that they could not convict him,” the Court of Appeal stated. “We are unable to avoid the conclusion that there was a misdirection in this case. That misdirection was, in our view, sufficiently material to render the verdict of the jury unsafe."
The original crown counsel in the case was not available when the judgment was delivered, and while a request was made for a retrial by the prosecuting lawyer who was holding, she was unable to offer an argument since she was unfamiliar with the facts of the trial.
The Court of Appeal criticized the crown for not being prepared for the possibility of the court allowing the appeal. “Somebody in the Legal Department should have addressed their minds to the possibility that this would be overturned,” the president noted.
The court said it did not feel that in the interests of justice a new trial was required as the crown’s case was not strong enough and the appellant had already served 33 months – almost three years — in jail as a result of his period of remand following his arrest and then ongoing delays in hearing the appeal.  

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Private bankers targeted in letter attacks

| 25/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(Swissinfo): Two people have been injured after corrosive liquid was sent in letters to several private bankers and their families, in Geneva police said on Wednesday. They confirmed a report of the attacks which appeared in the city’s Tribune de Genève newspaper. Geneva became a centre for private banking 200 years ago and the western Swiss city is now said to manage around ten per cent of international private savings. Police have contacted other financial institutions in the city urging them to be careful of any suspicious packages.



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Effects of ‘slobbing it’ can last for years

| 25/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(Independent): One month of "slobbing it" has weight gain effects that can last for years, research has shown. Scientists asked volunteers to gorge on fast food and be less active for four weeks, expecting them to put on weight but then return to their normal size. Instead, after a promising start to their weight loss efforts, the participants kept getting bigger. After two and a half years they were still more than three kilos heavier than when the study began. A comparison "control" group who did not change their lifestyle showed no similar increase in weight. "The long-term difference in body weight in the intervention and control groups suggests that there is an extended effect on fat mass after a short period of large food consumption and minimal exercise," said study leader Asa Enersson, from Linkoping University in Sweden.

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Wrong kids on programmes

| 25/08/2010 | 13 Comments

(CNS): There are more than 170 different programmes being provided by a plethora of organisations in the Cayman Islands for young people, it was revealed at a recent police-government public meeting. Although the focus of the current crime meeting roadshow has been the RCIPS, the commissioner and his district commanders have been accompanied by both the community minister and the health minister in order to provide a united front on the causes as well as the acts of crime. Mark Scotland, who has responsibility for youth, admitted that Cayman has no shortage of youth activities but the problem is they have not been coordinated or focused on the kids that need them most. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

“Most of the country’s programmes are disproportionately targeted towards kids who are not at risk,” the youth minister, Scotland, told the audience in West Bay on Monday evening. He revealed that the country’s youth policy is currently under review with the goal of better targeting the existing programmes and initiatives towards young people that are vulnerable and in danger of slipping into a life of crime.
While Cayman may have numerous sports programmes, church activities and other initiatives designed for young people, most of the places are taken up by kids that are already in secure safe homes and are not likely to have behavioural problems.
Talking about crime being a community wide problemand not just a police problem,
Scotland said the presence of the ministers at the meetings was testament to the government’s commitment to looking at societal causes of crime. “Our presence here tonight shows that we acknowledge that the police are not the only ones responsible for dealing with crime,” Scotland said. “We are now putting in targeted programmes in place for youngsters that have been identified as youth at risk.”
Mario Ebanks pointed out that the report by crime expert Yolande Forde, which was published over four years ago in 2006, revealed exactly what societal issues were the underlying causes of criminality in young people and asked if any of the recommendations had been implemented.
Mike Adam, the community affairs minister, said that the report on the pre-disposing factors to criminality in the Cayman Islands had gone before Cabinet for consideration some time ago with a view to some policy implementation but it had been delayed because the National Security Council was now reviewing it and wanted to co-ordinate the findings with its long term crime plans. In March 2009 Adam had held a retreat with government officials working in the community with the hope of creating policies based on the report with a view to enhancing crime prevention strategies.
Adam acknowledged that there was a pressing need to provide programmes that dealt specifically with youngsters who were vulnerable and had behavioural problems at a very young age. He said there was evidence to suggest there were indicating factors in children as young as eight years old that they may be at risk of falling into a life of crime, providing an opportunity to intervene before that happened.
Adam said his ministry was working on a range of therapeutic programmes to deal with kids who were at risk, from providing nurturing family foster homes all the way through to more secure units for children who had already offended or who had drug dependency problems or both. He said the ministry was also paying close attention to whole families that are in crisis and need support.
During the meeting in George Town last week Adam said the ministry was trying to revitalize the foster care programme as he said it offered a better alternative to institutionalized care for kids that were vulnerable and encouraged people to join in the programme and consider becoming foster parents, especially with teens.
He also announced that the long anticipated legislation dealing with domestic violence would be coming before the Legislative Assembly at the next sitting and would address the issue of parents who allow children to witness violence as well as who are exposed directly to it.
“We have not been properly addressing the symptoms that lead to crime and behavioural problems at an early age but that’s what we intend to do,” Adam stated. “We are developing interim measures with trained staff that can provide the necessary therapeutic care for young people already in trouble and in need of intervention.”
He said the ministry wanted to co-ordinate its efforts with the police to help address crime from a holistic point of view via the community.

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Employers face stiff fines over health insurance

| 25/08/2010 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Government plans to significantly increase fines for firms not providing health insurance as well as improving the cover of basic health insurance under new legislation. The Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2010 is expected to come before the Legislative Assembly next month when the country’s parliament sits again. The law will also provide for the Health Insurance Commission to issue fines directly to employers who don’t get health insurance for their staff. Employers failing to provide mandatory health care benefits could be fined as much $30,000 under the new law, while fines for companies that are not approved insurers who issue policies will be as much $100,000. The law also intends to addresses the problem of the poor coverage provided by the basic package.

Employers who take more from their employees than is allowable under the law for health cover could be fined up to $40,000 and bosses who fail to provide workers with details about their health insurance can be fined up to $15,000 with daily penalties of as much as $1,000.

Things should also improve for employees as they will be getting more health care cover from the basic package. Currently there is a cap of $25,000 cover for each bout of illness or injury, which in many cases is far from adequate.  The Health Insurance Commission has recommended that this cap be removed. Health Minister Mark Scotland has announced the government’s plan to address the myriad issues with the country’s mandatory health cover, which he says will improve health cover for everyone.
“This new plan has benefits for maternity care that are not in the insurance plan now; it has benefits for mental health care and it has benefits for dialysis,” Scotland told News 27.
The law will also ensure that health insurance companies cannot refuse to insure employees who have existing medical conditions.
The introduction of a mandatory improved benefit package as well as better enforcement should have a knock on effect to the Cayman Islands Hospital and its financial health. Much of the past short fall in the Health Service Authority’s budget is as a result of inadequate cover. When patients can’t afford to meet the gap between what their health insurers pays for medical care and the actual cost of that medical care the hospital has been left to cover the shortfall.

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Danielle regains hurricane strength & new TD forms

| 25/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Hurricane Danielle returned on Tuesday evening following a short spell when it was down graded to a tropical storm.  At 5am AST on Wednesday morning (25 August) the hurricane was about 710 miles east of the Leeward Islands moving west-northwest at around 17mph. Maximum sustained winds have now increased to 85 mph with higher gusts and Danielle is a category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. The National Hurricane Centre said that further strengthening is expected over the next 48 hrs Danielle is still expected to slow down and turn toward the northwest during the next couple of days. Meanwhile, a broad area of low pressure about 430 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands has formed into a tropical depression.

The NHC reports that TD7 has maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour is moving at 17mph and is forecast to become a tropical storm later today.

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Magistrate not renewed

| 25/08/2010 | 39 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island headline news(CNS): Caymanian Magistrate Grace Donalds, who has served the Summary Court for over a quarter of a century, has not had her contract renewed. Despite the increased work load at the summary courts, the magistrate, who had wished to continue on, was told Tuesday that her contract would not be renewed. Sources confirmed to CNS that Donalds was not given a reason why her services were no longer required. The magistrate’s contract expires on 31 August and with no notice of her departure from the courts she leaves behind a number of part-heard cases in the country’s busy lower court. Donalds was a Deputy Clerk of Courts from 1988 until 1993, when she began serving as a magistrate.

Donalds, who is over 60 years old, had opted to continue on past retirement as the law provides for all civil servants to continue on contracts until they are sixty-five. Sources close to Donalds say the magistrate is surprised and disappointed at the news as she had hoped to serve for at least one more two year contract.
No complaints have reportedly been made about the magistrate’s decisions recently and a source revealed that in hermore than twenty-five years of service only one complaint was ever raised about a ruling she had made in the courts.
CNS contacted Donalds for comment, but although she confirmed that she had been unexpectedly told her contract would not be renewed, she said she did not wish to discuss the matter further.
With the creation of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, as provided for under the Cayman Islands Constitution 2009, all future judicial appointments, including magistrates, will be made by the members of this new oversight body.
It is understood that the newly appointed commission will be meeting on 30 August when they will now be addressing two key vacancies in the already overloaded court system.
The panel will also be overseeing the recruitment of a full time Grand Court judge to replace the former Justice Priya Levers, who was recently removed from the Grand Court bench by the Privy Council in London.

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