Archive for September 14th, 2010

Cayman Islands escapes Tropical Storm Karl

| 14/09/2010 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The area of low pressure which passed over the Cayman Islands today, turned into the eleventh named storm of the season today, when the centre was around 196 miles south west of Grand Cayman. Although Cayman has escaped the worst of the weather as Karl is now moving west-northwest and away from the Caymanarea at 15 mph hazard but some further strengthening of Karl is expected overnight which will lead to continued cloudy to overcast skies with locally heavy showers and squally conditions occurring at times throughout the night. Flooding of low lying areas is expected, and residents of these areas should take all necessary precautions. 

A small craft warning remains in effect for the Cayman Islands. The CI National Weather Service will continue to monitor the progress of tropical storm Karl as it continues to move away from our area tonight, but all residents are urged to stay tuned to the local media for further updates. 
On the forecast track the centre of Karl will move over the Yucatan peninsula on Wednesday. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph with higher gusts.
Meanwhile, Hurricanes Igor and Hurricane Julia continue their slow progress across the Atlantic. Igor is a category four hurricane and Julia a category one hurricane, neither is expected to become a danger to land as they are both forecast to make turns to the north.

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Sudden cancellation of premier’s address to country

| 14/09/2010 | 70 Comments

(CNS): Just four days after it was announced that tonight (Tuesday 14 September) the premier would make a national radio and television address to the country on the economy, his press officer has said that this is postponed. While no explanation for the delay or any new date set for the broadcast has been given, the premier’s office says that the question and answer town hall meeting at the George Town Town Hall will still take place at 8pm Wednesday, 15 September, as announced. The premier’s message was to be carried on Radio Cayman and Cayman27 this evening, and it was announced last week that he planned to speak to the people of the Cayman Islands about some of his government’s economic policy.

 The message was going to give an overview of the government’s strategy to deal with the current economic situation across all sectors of the Cayman economy.

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Teen driver charged in fatal collision

| 14/09/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Update  — An 18-year-old woman has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and causing death by dangerous driving. Brooke Novak appeared in court today in connection with a fatal road crash last month. At about 12.30am on Tuesday, 3 August, police received a report of a two vehicle collision on the Esterley Tibbetts bypass  near Lakeside Condos. Fedaranne Faustino, a 24-year-old passenger in a Honda Civic, sustained serious injuries and later died at the Cayman Islands Hospital. Novak who was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser, was arrested at the scene. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

It was determined that the driver of the Honda was not driving under the influence of alcohol, having passed all relevant screening tests for DUI, police announced a few days after the crash.

Yesterday, Monday 13 September, the 18-year-old Novak was formally charged in connection with the incident. She was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and causing death by dangerous driving.

The young woman was given bail, but her passport has been seized and the court has prevented her from leaving the country to attend college. Novak, who is a Canadian passport holder, is facing serious charges and the court heard that she was considered too much of a flight risk for her to be allowed to leave.

Represented by defence attorney John Furness, she is expected to appear in court again later this month.

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World’s first hydrogen-powered production car

| 14/09/2010 | 0 Comments

(BBC): A fuel cell car claimed to be the world’s first to come off a production line has come to the UK. The Honda FCXClarity uses hydrogen to generate electricity, which then powers the car. The carmaker sees it as the future of motoring, insisting hydrogen is better than batteries that need to be very heavy to supply enough electricity. But it is likely to be many years before the infrastructure is in place to make these cars practical. As such, Honda’s hydrogen car could be seen as a brave move; previous models made by other carmakers in the past, often as derivatives of conventinoal models, have not been put into production.

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Mac says people must give something to get something

| 14/09/2010 | 56 Comments

(CNS): The country’s premier has said that people need to make sacrifices in order for the country to improve its economic fortunes. Speaking to tourism stakeholders last week at an industry lunch, McKeeva Bush berated the community when he said everybody wanted something but no one was prepared to give anything. He said some people didn’t recognise the importance of the cruise industry but it was very important and government was focusing on the need to turn cruise visitors into overnight guests.  He said the cruise project was essential and if “we are going to have to lift some piece of coral out of the way” then that’s what would happen. “To get something we have to give something,” Bush said.

He said his government was dedicated to an integrated tourism industry as research had shown it was fragmented and there was an absence of a defined brand for Cayman. “When we took office last May, we knew immediately that turning around the tourism industry would be one of our biggest challenges as well as one of our biggest opportunities. We knew from the outset that we wanted to develop collaborative, practical solutions with the full engagement of our private sector partners,” he said. .
Bush noted that there were still those who remained unconvinced as to the importance of cruise tourism to the economy but he said statistics from Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s (FCCA) for the third quarter of 2009 and estimates of the fourth quarter indicate that a record 13.445 million passengers cruised the Caribbean in 2009, an increase of nearly half a million (440,000) over 2008. The industry’s growth is led by the Caribbean region, which continues to rank as a dominant cruise destination, accounting for 37.02% of all itineraries in 2009.
Of the 1.45 million cruise passengers that called on Grand Cayman during the 2008-2009 cruise year around 90 percent disembarked, he revealed. “With an anticipated 214 vessels expected to call on our islands for the remainder of 2010 (between Sept – Dec), the forecast is for 575,626 passenger arrivals to our shores,” he said. “According to the Department of Tourism’s 2008 exit survey report, the average spend per cruise passenger was US$101.13 per person, which is marginally higher than the average spend across the Caribbean of US$97.26 recorded by the Business Research & Economic Advisors report (BREA) and I should point out that this calculation does not include pre-paid tours.”
He also stated that 35% of crew members disembark and spend an average of $108.81 per person on items such as jewellery, cosmetics and clothing. Crew personnel visiting the Cayman Islands spent $21.8 million during the 2008/2009 cruise year, the premier said figures had shown.
“Based on these statistics, there can be little doubt as to the value of cruise tourism to the Cayman Islands economy. But even so, we cannot realise the full possibilities and benefits of cruise tourism with our present facilities,” he added. “The need for cruise berthing facilities as part of the overall development of the Cayman Islands tourism infrastructure has been talked about for some seven years now and this government is committed to ensuring that the talks will lead to action.”
He said the berthing facility is a critical necessity as government had been repeatedly advised that ships in the Oasis class will not place destinations on their itineraries that don’t have berthing facilities. “Most of our Western Caribbean competitors such as Honduras, Montego Bay, St. Lucia and Ocho Rios already have walk-on cruise facilities and our Islands are at a competitive disadvantage the longer we delay in addressing this issue,” Bush told stakeholders.
“The development of the cruise berthing facility will not only ensure that the mega ships will include the Cayman Islands as a port of call, but it will provide a seamless disembarkation experience for passengers, which in turn will improve their overall view of the destination. This is the kind of experiential difference that influences whether those visitors will choose to return to the Cayman Islands as stay-over guests in the future,” the premier stated.
He said plans had been completed to launch a programme aimed at converting cruise visitors to stay-over guests. “This is a two-year pilot programme which will be spearheaded by the Department of Tourism to help to stimulate the local economy.”
Bush admitted there was still an incredible amount of work ahead with regards the tourism sector but he said he was committed to it. “Tourism is a bridge to a better quality of life for the people of the Cayman Islands. We can create opportunities for our young people, as well as our more mature citizens. There is a place for almost everyone in tourism – whether an artist or an accountant, a dive master or taxi driver,” he said.

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Law aims to protect kids

| 14/09/2010 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Although the new Domestic Violence bill, which has gained support from both government and opposition, was driven by the issue of gender violence in the country, the minister responsible said it would also protect the islands’ children. Presenting the new law to his legislative colleagues last week, Mike Adam said many of society’s current problems were down to children growing up witnessing or experiencing violence and abuse in the home. He said these kids learned no other way of dealing with conflict but through violence and the goal of the legislation was to eradicate abuse from the domestic setting and protect the children as well as other family members from it. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

The Protection from Domestic Violence Law 2010 aims to provide protection for specified categories of people living within a household residence from any kind of domestic violence by allowing them or third parties to apply for various protection orders.
Bringing the bill before the House, Adam explained that the law went beyond physical violence but included emotional, psychological and financial abuse as well as sexual violence. He said that the elderly, people residing in a home who weren’t direct relatives and children could all apply for protection orders of varying kinds if they were subject to abuse of any type in the place where they live. The law also provides for those being abused to remain in a home, even if the abuser is the owner or tenant, and removes the abuser.
The goal of the legislationis to try to eliminate the things which entrap mostly women and children in homes with abusers.
Adam said the legislation was a truly collaborative effort. Based on the recommendations of the special committee appointed by the previous administration in the wake of the violent murder of Estella Scott Roberts, the former director of the risis Centre and advocate on gender issues, the law seeks to expand protection for those in situations of abuse.
The minister pointed to the wider implications for society of children growing up in violent and abusive situations. “Some children only know how to deal with others in violent ways,” he said, adding that the report by crime expert Yolande Forde had pointed to violence in the domestic situation as the major contributing factor to criminality and violence in adults.
He said the bill would not only serve to protect people in the midst of abuse but it was also a piece in the puzzle of improving crime prevention in the wider community. Adam explained that nearly all of the children passing through the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre (95%) had behavioural problems and most of the people perpetrating the abuse were themselves abused.
The police dealt with 167 cases of domestic violence last year, but the minister told legislative colleagues that this figure was likely to be only the tip of the iceberg as domestic abuse is notoriously under reported.
With the passing of this legislation Adam also explained that those who were abused in non-violent ways, who are controlled through psychological, emotional and increasingly financial means, would also be able to seek protection orders from their abusers. The protective net is also cast considerably wider, the minister explained, than in the previous more restrictive law, to include children, the elderly, the disabled, and other vulnerable people. It also takes into account modern family structures, so even if an abuser is not resident but is visiting the home the protections can still apply.
He explained that third parties may also apply for protection orders when they know of abuse but the abused is unwilling as a result of battered women’s syndrome or unable through fear or other circumstance to come forward themselves.
The aim of the law is to ensure that all people who could suffer at the hands of an abuser in their home can gain protection from the courts.
“Domestic violence is not acceptable,” Adam said. “This law will ensure that the court is empowered to deal with it.”
He said this type of violence could no longer be considered private or cultural. It was a community wide problem that was undermining the community as a whole and the law would offer greater protection to people from what was believe to be one of the worst abuses of human rights.

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Right to silence lost

| 14/09/2010 | 80 Comments

(CNS): The long held right for someone who is arrested to remain silent without incriminating themselves has been lost. Although serious concerns have been raised in the community, the controversial Police Bill, which includes the change, is shortly to become law. In future, remaining silent or speaking can all be used against an individual who falls foul of law enforcement and is arrested .The attorney general defended the clause which will enable prosecutors to point a jury (at trial) towards an adverse inference or a negative reason for a person’s silence at arrest, saying it was not new and had been in place in the UK since 1994. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr) 

The Police Bill 2010, which repeals the police law of 2006, covers a wide spectrum of police and criminal related issues, from the powers of the police commissioner and the process of complaints about the police to the rights of those arrested. The bill contains a number of controversial clauses, the most contentious of which is the introduction of clause 148. When a person fails to mention something which could be important later on in the case when it comes to court, a jury may “draw such inferences from the failure that may appear proper”, the clause reveals.
Defending the removal of the right to silence without incrimination, Sam Bulgin said this particular right was nowhere to be found in the European Convention on Human Rights. He said people may feel it is traditional but it was not in that convention.
He pointed out that, even with the clause, people would still not be compelled to testify or to speak, but he said there were times when it was reasonable for a person to answer a question or explain themselves. Now if they did not when it was clear they should, an adverse inference could be made during the trial. In other words, a jury could conclude a defendant did not say anything because he was hiding something, which implies guilt.
“We are living in changing times and traditions have to be tweaked,” Bulgin told the Legislative Assembly when he tabled the bill on Friday afternoon. He said the way things were done forty or sixty years ago were no longer appropriate in a modern democratic society and he said as far back as 1994 the UK had put thisin place.
The AG also anticipated comments by the opposition and in particular Alden McLaughlin, whom, he said, had agreed with the need to change legislation when he was in office but now, sitting on the opposition bench, had the luxury of adopting populist sentiment.
The opposition did raise a number of concerns about the bill but they were not alone.  The Criminal Defence Bar Association had offered its comments regarding the problems associated with the introduction of an adverse inference in April of this year in a letter to the solicitor general.
With no legal aid available to those arrested in Cayman until they are charged and taken to court, most suspects have no legal representation at the arrest, detention and interview stages. In order for this to be implemented fairly, the defence bar said that legal advise would now have to be freely available to all those who are arrested and detained before being questioned.
The defence lawyers also raised a number of other issues about the potential problems of disclosure to the suspect before questioning and the need to train local officers about the implications of not disclosing information to defendants about the reason for their arrest before they ask questions.
The introduction of a right to draw adverse inference will also require a change to the Cayman Islands Constitution. The leader of the opposition, making his reply to the tabling of the bill on Monday afternoon, pointed out that at present the Constitution clearly states in section 5 (3) that a person has a right to remain silence and there is no follow on saying that if they do stay silent then it can be used against them.  Kurt Tibbetts told the AG that if the law was passed it would be unconstitutional.
Alden McLaughlin, who could not be in the House to debate the bill because of family commitments, told CNS this weekend that he had serious reservations about Clause 148. When the AG said McLaughlin was taking the populist position in opposing the proposed erosion of the right to silence, he suggested that he had had a different position when in Cabinet, but McLaughlin emphatically denied this was the case.
“In this assertion the AG has been disingenuous and I challenge him to provide one example of how my views on this issue have changed over the years," McLaughlin said. “In one of my very first major speeches in the House, in July 2001, I set out my objections to the erosion of the age-old right to silence.  That was when then AG, David Ballantyne attempted to introduce provisions similar to those now being proposed by Sam Bulgin.”

He said that not only had his views not changed but, given the attitude of the current government to legal aid, his concerns are greater now than were 9 years ago.

“The provisionscontained in the Police Bill will allow the court to draw adverse inferences from an accused’s failure to assist the police with their case by remaining silent. This is a fundamental departure from the common law position and is based on the UK Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994. It is worth noting that that statute has been the subject of much criticism and concern in the UK,” McLaughlin added.

He said the change in the law would lead to serious consequences, which havebeen highlighted by a number of legal experts. The former cabinet minister also pointed out that, while the UK has had similar provisions operating for the past decade and a half, there are significant practical obstacles to introducing the adverse inferences provisions to Cayman law.

“Firstly, legal aid is not available to suspects until they are charged and taken to court. Therefore persons arrested, detained or interviewed at the police station may have adverse inferences drawn from their failure to answer questions without having had the benefit of independent legal advice as to the consequences of remaining silent,” he said, agreeing with the criminal defence bar but going further when he pointed out the attitude of the current government to legal aid.

“Another potential problem is what happens when an attorney who is present at the interview of a defendant is required to give evidence at the trial regarding the advice given to the defendant at the police station in order to avoid an adverse inference being drawn against his client,” McLaughlin said.
“This situation frequently occurs in England and Wales but in that jurisdiction the solicitor at the police station is distinct from the barrister at trial. Here in Cayman, the attorney who had appeared at the police station would most likely also be the trial attorney and so would potentially be forced to become a witness in his own case, and thus may find himself unable to continue to act as the trial attorney.”

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Former OT minister suing Operation Tempura boss

| 14/09/2010 | 1 Comment

(CNS): According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, a lawsuit alleging a police cover-up of phone hacking has been launched by one of Scotland Yard’s former senior officers and the former UK minister with responsibility for Overseas Territories, Chris Bryant. The claim for judicial review filed Monday accuses Assistant Metropolitan Police Commissioner John Yates, the man who had oversight of the discredited Operation Tempura and the special police investigation team (SPIT) here in Cayman, of making misleading statements to parliament and the public and of failing to carry out a proper investigation.

The former deputy prime minister, John Prescott, and at least one other person are also expected to join the action, the UK paper reports. This could result in forcing open some of the Metropolitan police’s locked files.
The suits relate to a case surrounding the alleged phone-hacking scandal by the UK Sunday tabloid News of the World and private detective Glenn Mulcaire at the time when Andy Coulson was editor.
Bryant claims in his suit that the newspaper got hold of his father’s new phone number only days after he had moved to a new house, despite the fact that the number was not listed in the telephone directory or known to anyone other than close family members. The phone company, Orange, confirmed several illegal attempts had been made to access his mobile phone mailbox.
Yates is personally accused in the claim of making a number of misleading statements, including to a Commons committee: "Yates insisted that all reasonable steps were taken to warn people when there was the ‘minutest possibility’ they had been hacked. That statement is not true."
The claim adds that when Yates was asked if Bryant had been warned, he gave a "misleading impression" by saying that he was "in correspondence" with the politician.
The claim says police deliberately "ring-fenced" the investigation despite the "clear inference that numerous journalists at the News of the World and other tabloid newspapers were involved in hacking".
Scotland Yard refuse to disclose how many people they had warned because that would reveal that "only a small proportion" had in fact been notified, according to the claim filed by leading media QC Hugh Tomlinson.
Last week, Yates wrote to the Guardian about allegations made by Bryant. He said: "I strongly object to the reference … of Chris Bryant MP [him] accusing me of giving a misleading account and stating in respect of part of myevidence to the home affairs select committee that ‘It was a fib’. "I am writing to Chris Bryant indicating that the relevant paragraph is both wrong and defamatory and asking him not to repeat it."

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Cuba’s public-sector layoffs signal major shift

| 14/09/2010 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): In perhaps the clearest sign yet that economic change is gathering pace in Cuba, the government plans to lay off more than half a million people from the public sector in the expectation that they will move into private businesses. Over the past several months, President Raúl Castro has given stern warnings that Cuba’s economy needs a radical overhaul, beginning with its workers. With as many as one million excess employees on the state payroll, Mr. Castro has said, the government is supporting a bloated bureaucracy that has sapped motivation and long sheltered a huge swath of the nation’s workers. “We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world where one can live without working,” he told the National Assembly last month.

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Swiss cities consider allowing foreign residents to vote

| 14/09/2010 | 0 Comments

(Swiss info): Foreigners living in French-speaking Switzerland are able to take part in votes and elections in their commune and sometimes also at the cantonal level. In the German-speaking part of the country, this is largely only possible once Swiss citizenship has been obtained. On September 26, Bern and Basel will decide on whether to follow the Swiss-French lead and allow foreigners the vote. With the exception of Valais, all the western Swiss cantons have introduced voting rights for foreigners. Neuchâtel and Jura accorded foreigners voting rights from the time of their creation, in 1848 and 1978 respectively.

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