Archive for July 14th, 2011

Preparations begin for Cayman’s food festival

| 14/07/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Although the Taste of Cayman food festival is more than six months away the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) is beginning the work to pull the culinary event together. The 24th Annual Taste of Cayman is set for Saturday, 28 January 28 and organizers expect more than 4000 people to be sampling food from more than 35 of the Island’s hottest restaurants. “Each year, the event grows and changes to reflect the direction we are moving,” says Trina Savage-Christian, executive director of CITA. “We are excited to be able to put on such a wonderful event that is one of the largest and best food and wine experiences in the Caribbean.”

Taste of Cayman now forms part of a full culinary month which includes Cayman Cookout and CITA is also looking for restaurants and event coordinators who are interested in hosting a culinary event any time in 2012. The Taste of Cayman festival is a key element of the month long celebration of food and has gone from strength to strength since it started as a very humble affair in the 1980s

Savage-Christian said the event’s success was down to the efforts of the contributors and their ideas and exciting developments. There are many opportunities for local residents and companies to be a part of this event and sponsorship starts at CI $500 with a ‘Sugar Bowl’ level sponsorship, moving to Bronze Fork, Silver Spoon and Golden Fork. The Planning Committee has some new sponsorship opportunities this year, all of which add value to the entry ticket for adults attending the festival.

While the association is not actively recruiting volunteers yet the Planning Committee is eager to start a data base of people who are interested in volunteering their time for the Festival. Each year, several hundred volunteers are needed to ensure that the event runs smoothly.

Volunteers assist with festival preparation in the weeks leading up to Taste of Cayman, as well as on-the-day volunteering followed by help with some of the labour intensive wrap up of the event in the weeks after the Festival.

“It is because of the generosity of our community, from the corporations to the volunteering of time and energy, to the thousands of people that attend the event, that we are able to produce such a world class event each year,” Savage-Christian added.

Those interested in sponsoring items such as a reusable Bambu spork (which will be given to each attendee for use when sampling food items), wine glass lanyards, wine glasses, a lionfish cooking demonstration component and the festival entertainment, to name a few, are encouraged to contact CITA at 949-8522

Contact CITA at tasteofcayman@cita.ky or 949-8522 to register your name on the volunteer list.

 

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Immigration department gens up on own law

| 14/07/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Immigration staff have recently undergone training in changes to the law that governs the work they do. More than 100 employees of the department as well as representatives of the Cayman Status and Permanent Residency, Business Staffing Plan, and Work Permit boards, and the Enforcement and Border Control team took part in the work shop facilitated by local attorney Angelyn Hernandez. Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans and her management team said they believed it was useful for all staff to have an overall understanding of the key areas of the law and regulations which was fully implemented last October.

“This review is already proving to be worthwhile. The public will undoubtedly derive benefits from having a department which is up-to-date and knowledgeable on matters of the immigration laws and regulations,” Evans said.

Conducted at the end of last month the refresher course covered the intricacies of the updated Immigration Laws and Regulations.  “This is just part of an ongoing effort to equip staff to better-serve our customers,” Evans added.

Every section has benefitted from the review, Training and Development Manager Jenifer Gager-Sterling said as she explained uniform staff and board members were also involved. “While this training will improve … efficiency and effectiveness, it was one of several ongoing training programmes,” she noted. “Similar sessions will continue, including training in specific areas which impact the functions of the respective sections.”  

 

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Spelling errors cost millions in internet sales

| 14/07/2011 | 3 Comments

(BBC): An online entrepreneur says that poor spelling is costing the UK millions of pounds in lost revenue for internet businesses. Charles Duncombe says an analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half. Duncombe says when recruiting staff he has been "shocked at the poor quality of written English".  Sales figures suggest misspellings put off consumers who could have concerns about a website's credibility, he says.The concerns were echoed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), whose head of education and skills warned that too many employers were having to invest in remedial literacy lessons for their staff.

Duncombe, who runs travel, mobile phones and clothing websites, says that poor spelling is a serious problem for the online economy.

"Often these cutting-edge companies depend upon old-fashioned skills," says Duncombe. And he says that the struggle to recruit enough staff who can spell means that this sector of the economy is not as efficient as it might be.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics published last month showed internet sales in the UK running at £527m per week.

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Cops say crime still down

| 14/07/2011 | 39 Comments

(CNS): Figures released on the morning following a second shooting of an innocent victim in two weeks in the course of an armed robbery reveal that overall crime is still down on last year.  There were almost 100 fewer serious crimes in the first six months of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010 and some 222 less crimes overall.  However, robbery has increased by close to 35%, with 39 incidents in the first six months of this year compared to 29 in 2010, which was also significantly up on the year before. Despite perceptions within the community, the commissioner still said the fall in crime was good news for Cayman, before admitting that there was more work to do.

With no murders during the first half of 2011 compared to five in the first half of 2010, the percent rate for serious crime is down by almost 22%, but alongside robbery, which has increased, the possession of unlicensed firearms is also up by over 133%. 

The police pointed to their success in addressing burglary, which is down almost 27% and noted that there were only six attempted murders this year so far compared to 14 in 2010. Overall crime was down by more than 12.5% in the first six months of this year when compared to the first half of 2010.

"This time last year our resources were severely stretched dealing with murders and attempted murders, most of which were gang related shootings," Police Commissioner David Baines said Thursday as the figures were released. “I'm pleased to once again recognise the hard work of our staff in bringing that situation under control and putting a number of people before the courts for those crimes.  This year the crime landscape is somewhat different. The increase in robberies is very concerning and has posed some challenges.  These remain the focus for prevention, investigation and detection efforts by the RCIPS.”

The commissioner said robbery teams were working hard pursuing every avenue to find the evidence needed to get those responsible off the streets and to help businesses with the crime prevention they need to target-harden their premises.

Giving some indication that the police know who the robbers are, Baines said, "It will come as no surprise that when certain individuals are in our custody for other matters the robberies stop. The challenge we in the RCIPS have is obtaining enough hard evidence to link those people to those crimes to get them off the streets long term and put them before the courts.”

He said proactive weapons operations had led to an increase in the figures recorded for possession of unlicensed firearms.

“Every hour of every day our officers are gathering information and evidence to target those who possess illegal guns. We will not let up on that — even during this gun amnesty period. If you have an illegal gun and you don't hand it in we are coming after you. Let me assure you that our operations have not been put on hold for the month of July — so if you have a gun, or know someone who has, now is the time to give it up,” Baines added.

Importantly, the top cop pointed to an improvement in the community’s confidence in the RCIPS when he said more and more people were coming forward with information.

“It is only a matter of time before we come for you,” he warned local criminals. “This week saw a 9 year sentence handed down by the courts for illegal possession of a shotgun.  I hope that when it comes time to release the figures for the next six months that we will still be talking about major reductions in crime. But to give us the best possible chance to do that we need to work together, increase our police and community collaboration. That's the only way we will cut crime in Cayman and continue to keep you, our communities and Cayman safe," the commissioner added.

At a recent police meeting in West Bay one member of the public told Marlon Bodden that it was the first time they had attended such a gathering where the police had not tried to say crime was down. The member of the public had pointed out that while the police say the figures are declining, local people are scared and perceive that crime is continuing to get worse because of the way it now affects their lives.
 

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Mac threatens CNS with suit

| 14/07/2011 | 229 Comments

(CNS): The premier has hit out at Cayman News Service and threatened to take legal action over a Viewpoint written by a reader discussing the ban on civil servants exercising the right to free speech. Through his attorney, McKeeva Bush has accused CNS of “an unwarranted and defamatory attack against him” and demanded the article be removed and an apology made. Bush said that the author of the piece, published in May and written under the pen name ‘Bean Counter’, suggested the policies and behaviour of elected officials, and the premier in particular, is comparable to terrorism because civil servants fear victimisation and loss of their jobs if they speak out and that he is therefore opposed to the people's rights to freedom of speech. However, CNS believes the Viewpoint is fair comment and reflects an honest opinion.

It has therefore not bowed to the premier’s threats. Nicky Watson, the owner of Cayman News Service, said that in her view it was important that the local on-line media house took a stand to protect the rights of people to express their criticisms of government policies.  She added that small media operations like CNS provide a voice for the people and should not be open to abuse or bullying simply because politicians don’t like the opinions expressed.

“The premier appears to have missed the irony of asserting one’s support of free speech under the Constitution while simultaneously threatening legal action when faced with the exercise of that avowed right,” said Watson.

CNS received the letter from Steve McField, the lawyer acting on behalf of the premier, on Wednesday 29 June demanding the removal of what he said were the defamatory and disparaging remarks, an apology, an agreement to pay the attorney’s fees, as well as to “cease and desist” publishing defamatory statements about his client by 5 July, giving Watson only three working days to consider their position. 

However, the CNS owner was quick to decide that the article was nothing more than a provocative criticism of Bush’s administration for its continuation of the policy which restricts freedom of expression for public servants. After taking legal advice, Watson responded to the premier’s lawyer and said that there was nothing to apologise for or to correct.  “As has been stated in the courts, ‘a critic need not be mealy-mouthed in denouncing what he disagreed with; he was entitled to dip his pen in gall for the purposes of legitimate criticism’,” she noted in her response.

The original article spoke in general terms about elected officials causing feelings of fear because of the policy which prevents government workers from speaking freely and the implicit threat that they will lose their jobs and livelihood if they do, which the author suggests is a form of terrorism. Defending everyone’s right to free speech, the writer points out that it is wrong for a government policy to prevent people from signing petitions and that this has created a climate of fear.

The article is even more relevant at present as the question of civil servants being able to speak out, join demonstrations and more importantly sign petitions has been of particular public interest. A number of important petitions have been circulating that the instigators hoped would trigger a “People initiated Referendum”, a new constitutional right afford to the Cayman people in the 2009 constitution. However, the question of whether or not civil servants can sign those petitions has still not been addressed, adding weight to the points raised by Bean Counter.

Although Watson pointed out that CNS takes every threat of legal action very seriously, she added that it was also very important to consider the merit of those threats. She said capitulating to this kind of threat would merely encourage people to have their lawyers issue them for every little slight or uncomfortable comment and return Cayman back to the days when everyone was afraid to say anything.

“No one wants to engage in a protracted legal battle, where generally the only people that benefit are the lawyers, but it is important that we back the rights of people to criticise government policy and those in authority – it’s fundamental to what we do at CNS. Bean Counter’s article is fair comment and we will ensure that any opinion that is expressed fairly and reasonably on CNS is protected,” she added.

Since its inception, CNS has been a forum that allows people to comment anonymously, in a chat room style, on the news of the day and to directly criticise the actions of those in positions of power as well as elected officials.

It appears CNS is not the only member of the media threatened by the premier. It is understood that Bush has also taken aim at Rooster’s morning phone-in show Crosstalk for criticisms of the premier aired a few weeks ago.

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Woman shot in Bodden Town

| 14/07/2011 | 93 Comments

(CNS): Update – A 57 year old woman has become the latest victim of armed robbers after she was shot during a heist in Bodden Town at around 10:08 pm on Wednesday evening. Police confirmed that the woman who work's at Lorna's Texaco was leaving the gas station and crossing the road to her car when a masked man appeared from the bushes brandishing a firearm. The robber threatened the woman and grabbed her handbag. The robber discharged several shots injuring his victim in the shoulder and knee before running off with her bag. The woman was taken to the Cayman Islands hospital where she is being treated for the injuries. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

This is now the second robberyin which a victim has been shot as it comes in the wake of the shooting of CIB brewer Kemar Golding who was shot in the head by masked gunmen in Red Bay two weeks ago and is currently being treated in hospital in Miami.

During this latest robbery and shooting in Bodden Town the police say that another robber may have also been involved but officers investigating the crime do not yet have details of the second suspect. The police also noted that the woman was not carrying any cash from the gas station takings in the bag taken by the culprits.

Anyone who was in the area at the time and has any information which could assist the investigation should contact Bodden Town police station on 947-2220 or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477 (TIPS).

 

 

 

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ACC receives 21 complaints

| 14/07/2011 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Officials are giving very little away about the work of the new Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Commission, but the Commissions Secretariat confirmed this week that the body has investigated a total of twenty-one different complaints over the last 18 months. Since it was formed in January last year the commission has not yet made public any of the details regarding those investigations, including what triggered them or what the outcome was. “The commission will not release information on the types of information received or investigations conducted,” the secretariat told CNS in response to questions submitted about the work of the commission.

Given recent events, questions from the public have been increasing about the role of the new body established to support  anti-corruption legislation, which came into effect in January 2010 but has been shrouded in secrecy since its inception. However, the secretariat did say that there were plans afoot to reveal a little more about the commission in a public education campaign and to launch a website.

Deborah Bodden, head of the constitutional secretariat which supports the commission (even though it was not established under the Cayman Islands 2009 constitution), said the members were in the process of creating a manual which will detail its policies and procedures. She explained that once this was completed, the ACC members will begin media appearances to promote their roles.

The Anti-Corruption Commission Law also requires the commission to produce an annual report.  This report is sent to the governor, the deputy governor, the attorney general and the director of public prosecutions, and once itis reviewed it will be made available on the commission’s website, offering accountability to the public.  Bodden also revealed that there are plans to publish minutes from meetings on the website as well.

The commission meets on a quarterly basis and has now met five times. Reports of corruption offences may be filed by anyone and there is a confidential phone line for members of the public to make those reports (928-1747) or to provide the Anti-Corruption Commission with tips or information.

The ACC is supported by an Anti-Corruption Unit, staffed with specialist police officers. However, the law states that any police officer can receive reports of corruption and cause an investigation to be made. 

The chair of the commission is Police Commissioner David Baines and members include Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick as well as Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams. The two civilian members appointed by the governor are Sir Peter Allen and Leonard Ebanks.

The commission has considerable powers but so far it is not known if it has used any of them in its 18 months of existence. It has the power, with the assistance of the Grand Court, to order a freeze on a person’s bank account or property for up to 21 days if there is reasonable cause to believe that the person is involved in corruption and members can also request banks and other entities release information needed in corruption investigations.

Under the law the commission’s purpose is to investigate any report of corruption, including any attempted offences or conspiracies to commit corruption, receive and, as permitted under the law, request, analyse and disseminate any information about corruption or suspected corruption and assist overseas anti-corruption authorities with corruption investigations.

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