Archive for October, 2011

Cops name sex attack suspect

| 31/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The police have now confirmed that they are searching for 32-year-old Jeffery Barnes, whose last known address was in George Town and who is wanted in connection with a sexual assault that took place on Saturday morning as well as a previous sexual attack reported to police this weekend. Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden warned the public that Barnes is a violent man who is believed to have access to guns. He said people should not approach him directly but contact the police if he is sighted. The senior officer told the media on Monday that a specially trained response team is hunting for Barnes across all three Cayman Islands.

“We are aware that he has access to firearms and he is a dangerous individual with a violent disposition and it is very important that we get him into custody,” Bodden told the media at a press briefing held at police headquarters on Monday afternoon.

DS Bodden explained that police have reason to suspect that Barnes is the man that committed a sexual assault on a 49-year-old woman in Admiral’s Landing on Saturday morning, and that he had approached a young girl in Victory Avenue some time earlier the same day, attempting to lure her into his car. It is suspected that he also committed an assault on a member of his own family a few days before.

The senior officer confirmed that the rape victim called the police to report the incident at around 10:28 Saturday morning and almost simultaneously other police officers were receiving a separate report that Barnes had tried unsuccessfully to get an eleven-year-old girl into the car he was driving sometime before he allegedly committed the rape.

Then, later on Saturday evening at around 8:20pm police received a further separate report accusing Barnes of another assault that had taken place a few days before Saturday’s incidents on a member of his own family.

Bodden gave very few details about any of the various reports or the victims because, he said, all three were live and sensitive enquiries. He stated that Barnes was well known to the police and confirmed that he was not currently on parole, but a warrant had recently been issued for his arrest in relation to a separate assault allegation unrelated to the latest reported incidents.

Unwilling to comment on any of Barnes’ previous convictions for related crimes, Bodden reiterated his warning that he was a violent individual who may have weapons in his possession.  

The senior police officer warned people not to approach Barnes but to contact the police in order that the specially trained officers could attend the location. He confirmed that officers had received reports over the weekend about Barnes’ possible whereabouts but when police responded he was not found at the locations. Bodden appealed to everyone in the community to call the police immediately if they had any information at all regarding where Barnes may be staying and assist the police in arresting him.

Bodden stated that the 49-year-old victim was reportedly waiting for a bus on Shamrock Road in broad daylight when a man believed to be Barnes approached her in a red Honda Civic. He offered her a lift and when she told him she was waiting for the bus he got out of the car and threatened her with what appeared to be a weapon wrapped in cloth. He forced the woman into the car and drove the vehicle to Admiral’s Landing, where he committed the sexual attack.

Police later recovered and seized the car in the Prospect area, which Barnes had reportedly borrowed, and the vehicle is currently undergoing forensic examination by scenes of crime officers. Bodden confirmed that the car seized by the police was the same vehicle that approached the young girl in Victory Avenue.

See related story: Police hunt sexual predator

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Box of squid leads CNS poll

| 31/10/2011 | 38 Comments

(CNS): Following the publication of a thought provoking Viewpoint on CNS by popular contributor Aristophanes Duckpond, a CNS poll has revealed that he was right – most people would prefer to vote for a box of frozen squid at the next election than the current government or the opposition. 50% of voters that had taken part in the on-line straw poll by Monday evening voted for the squid, 46% for the opposition People’s Progressive Movement and only 4% said they would vote for the ruling United Democratic Party. As unscientific as the poll is, the results so far point to a current preference for what Duckpond suggested was a third way.

Less than 300 people took part in the vote, which coupled with the comments demonstrated that the ‘calamari’ seemed to have the edge when it came to the people’s choice.

With well over a year before campaigning would normally be expected to start and 18 months to go before the May 2013 election, there is time for the opposition and the governmentto turn the results around but the third way appears to be an elusive but attractive option to the public and reflects the failure of official party politics to gain sufficient support.

The exceptionally poor showing of government in this latest web based ballot reflects other CNS on line votes that demonstrate little support for the current administration or the premier among readers. In August, 72% of the more than 600 people who voted in a poll assessing the performance of McKeeva Bush said he was “a terrible premier”.

Back in May, at the current administration’s half way point, 65% of voters stated that the current UDP government is the worst administration in Cayman Islands history and a further 21% said they had performed poorly. In April 89% of the 550 voters backed the opposition’s no confidence motion in government.

See the online poll: Which party would you like to see form the next government? (open)

A 3rd Way for Cayman by Aristophanes Duckpond

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Researchers publish findings on GM mosquitoes

| 31/10/2011 | 1 Comment

(NYTimes): Researchers have reported initial signs of success from the first release into the environment of mosquitoes engineered to pass a lethal gene to their offspring, killing them before they reach adulthood. The results, and other work elsewhere, could herald an age in which genetically modified insects will be used to help control agricultural pests and insect-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria. But the research is arousing concern about possible unintended effects on public health and the environment, because once genetically modified insects are released, they cannot be recalled.

Authorities in the Florida Keys, which in 2009 experienced its first cases of dengue fever in decades, hope to conduct an open-air test of the modified mosquitoes as early as December, pending approval from the Agriculture Department.

Supporters of the research worry it could provoke a public reaction similar to the one that has limited the acceptance of genetically modified crops. In particular, critics say that Oxitec, the British biotechnology company that developed the dengue-fighting mosquito, has rushed into field testing without sufficient review and public consultation, sometimes in countries with weak regulations.

“Even if the harms don’t materialize, this will undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the research enterprise,” said Lawrence O. Gostin, professor of international health law at Georgetown University.

The first release, which was discussed in a scientific paper published online on Sunday by the journal Nature Biotechnology, took place in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean in 2009 and caught the international scientific community by surprise. Oxitec has subsequently released the modified mosquitoes in Malaysia and Brazil.

Luke Alphey, the chief scientist at Oxitec, said the company had left the review and community outreach to authorities in the host countries. “They know much better how to communicate with people in those communities than we do coming in from the U.K.” he said.

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Questions raised over 7billionpopulation figure

| 31/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(BBC): The United Nations estimates that on Monday 31 October the world's population will reach seven billion. But how accurate is this figure? Not only is the world's population supposedly reaching seven billion today, the charity Plan International has anointed a girl born in India as the seven billionth. In reality, things are much less clear. The UN's population estimates chief, Gerhard Heilig, describes it as "nonsense" to suggest anyone could pinpoint where the seven billionth child will be born. And he says the UN recognises that its own figures come with a 1-2% margin of error. Today's population could actually be 56 million higher or lower than seven billion, Heilig says.

"There is a window of uncertainty of at least six months before and six months after the 31 October for the world population to reach seven billion," he told the BBC. “You are always going to be essentially guessing… We will never have a true, definitive figure”
The UN Population Division website adds that no-one can determine the date with an error margin smaller than about 12 months, as even the best censuses have "inevitable inaccuracies".

"In fact, due to very poor demographic statistics in a significant number of developing countries the uncertainty may be even larger."

According to some experts, the UN has jumped the gun. The US Census Bureau says the most likely date the world population will reach seven billion is between March and April next year.

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Police hunt sexual predator

| 30/10/2011 | 63 Comments

(CNS): Updated — Police have now released a description of the man who sexually assaulted a 49-year-old woman on Saturday at around 10.30am and who may have attempted to abduct an 11-year-old girl earlier in the morning in the Red Bay area. The criminal investigation department is on the hunt for a man described as fair skinned, slim build, small slim face with a straight nose and around 5’ 6” in height. Police said the suspect was aged between 25 and 28 years. The suspect has tattoos on his arms that are dark blue-ish in colour, which appeared to be in the form of letters, and a tattoo on his neck. Officers have not yet named the suspect, who they say spoke with a Caymanian accent and was wearing a grey short sleevedT-shirt, light blue jeans and dark sneakers.

On Saturday morning the female rape victim was reportedly forced into a Red Honda hatchback vehicle and taken to a location on Admiral's Landing, where she was assaulted. CID are still carrying out investigations with the victim. Police have since recovered the vehicle and said efforts are being made to locate the male suspect, who, it is understood, is known to the authorities.

After the first report came in to the police another report was made of the same vehicle approaching a young female in the same area earlier on Saturday, and this is also being investigated.

Meanwhile, officers are also investigating a stabbing which took place around 10.30pm on Friday night during a fight between two men in the vicinity of the Marquee Plaza on Lawrence Boulevard, George Town. During the fight one of the men was stabbed twice with a knife. The victim then ran towards West Bay Road. Police attended the scene but the suspect had already fled.

Contact was made with the victim, a 24-year-old male who was subsequently taken to George Town Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Road blocks and the police helicopter were utilized to try and capture the suspect, but to no avail. During the processing of the scene police recovered a knife and officers are continuing investigations, including the examination of CCTV

Anyone who has any information on the sexual assault is asked to contact Detective Constable McQuade at George Town CID 949-4222.

Anyone who has any information on the stabbing contact Detective Constable Berns also on 949 4222. The public can also call crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS). Police reminded the public to always call 911 in an emergency.

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CIMA reports 12% increase in value of captives

| 30/10/2011 | 4 Comments

(CNS): According to the third quarter figures from the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) the local captive insurance sector continues to do well despite the soft global conditions in the insurance market in general. CIMA licensed 29 captive insurance companies in the first nine months of 2011, 14 more than during the same period in 2010. The total number of captives in the jurisdiction at 30 September 2011 stood at 730. Total premiums as at 30 September were reported at US$9.6 billion a 12 percent increase on December last year when premiums were valued at US$8.6 billion and the highest recorded in CIMA’s history.

Total assets, as of 30 September this year were reported at US$58.3 billion, compared to US$57.9 billion as at 31 December 2010, the authority revealed.

CIMA’s Managing Director, Mrs. Cindy Scotland said the increase in captive formations and the size of the premiums indicated the health of local captive industry, despite the international market.
“In all of 2010 there were 25 new captives formed, so for our 2011 numbers to already be at 29, and with new applications pending, we anticipate this calendar year to reflect significant growth in new captives,” she added.

The total number of captives at 30 September is only one more than the 729 recorded at the same time last year and there are also eight less than the 738 active at the end of last year but the total number has still increased steadily throughout this year.

Officials explained the decrease was due to licence termination of companies in liquidation since 2009 and 2010 but not dissolved until 2011, and to special purpose vehicles completing their one-year policy cycle. So on 31 March there were 720 captives in Cayman which grew to 725 at 30 June, before reaching 730 last month.

A captive is an insurance company formed and owned by an entity or group of entities for the purpose of covering the risks of that entity or group. The Cayman Islands has continued as the leading jurisdiction for health care captives. As at September 2011, health care was the primary line of business for 256 companies (35%). Workers’ compensation remained the second largest line of business with 157 companies (22%) providing this as their primary type of risk insured.

The 730 class B (i.e., captive) licensees active as at 30 September comprise the following: 418 pure captives (57%), 120 segregated portfolio companies (16%), 75 group captives (10%), 51 association captives (7%), 34 special purpose vehicles (5%), 31 open market insurers (4%) and one rent-a-captive. The 120 segregated portfolio companies comprise a total of 634 active segregated portfolios.

The Cayman Islands captive insurance industry is composed mainly of companies insuring risks in North America. Premiums originating from North America accounted for 84% of the Cayman market, followed by Europe at 3%, Caribbean and Latin Americaat 2%, and the remaining global market at 11%.

In terms of captive numbers, North America accounts for 90% of the Cayman market, followed by Caribbean and Latin America at 3%, Europe at 2%, and the remaining global market is 5% the authority stated in a release Friday.

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Goldman faces suit over sale of risky debt

| 30/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): Goldman Sachs Group Inc has been hit with a new $1.07 billion lawsuit for having allegedly sold risky debt that it expected would tumble in value to an Australian hedge fund, causing that fund to become insolvent. The lawsuit by the Basis Yield Alpha Fund alleges fraud, breach of contract and negligence, and seeks to recoup $67 million of losses plus $1 billion of punitive damages. It was filed on Thursday with a New York state court in Manhattan. Basis Yield was managed by Sydney-based Basis Capital Funds Management Ltd.

Basis Yield sued three months after a U.S. judge dismissed a similar case, saying the fund could not sue in federal court under U.S. securities laws because its investment in the Timberwolf 2007-1 collateralized debt obligation did not qualify as a "domestic" transaction.

Timberwolf was cited in a scathing U.S. Senate panel report in April that faulted Goldman, Deutsche Bank AG and others for hawking debt they expected to perform poorly.

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Sri Lanka demands CHEC redo cracked road

| 30/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(Sunday Leader): The Sri Lanka government has faulted the Chinese contractor of the Southern Expressway for the poor carpeting of the highway and has ordered an immediate recarpeting before its opening scheduled to coincide with President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s birthday. The contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) has agreed to reconstruct the carpeting at its expense after the government claimed it would not accept the highway if it was not up to standard. Deputy Highways Minister Nirmala Kothalawala told The Sunday Leader that the carpeting on certain parts of the road on a 6-7 kilometer stretch has not been properly laid.

Kothalawala explained that cracks begin to appear when the carpeting is not done properly. He said that once the highway was completed, a thorough test was carried out to test the road, the bridges and the culverts.

“It was then that we found that certain areas on a 6-7 kilometer stretch had not been carpeted properly,” he added. Kothalawala said the government had immediately informed the Chinese contractor that the highway would not be accepted if it was not up to standard.  “The contractor agreed and they got down a special machine for the recarpeting. The work is now being completed,” the Minister said.

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Chines take ancient health skills to Jamaica

| 30/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Chinese medics will be demonstrating their ancient and traditional medical skills such as acupuncture and cupping as well as providing modern health care to Jamaicans, the Chinese embassy in Kingston has said. The Chinese People's Liberation Army’s navy hospital ship the Ark Peace landed in Jamaica on Saturday October 29 and 100 health professionals will offer volunteer medical service to Jamaican people both aboard and at the Olympic Garden Health during its five day stay. “Over 100 Jamaican patients will benefit from using on-board CAT, ultrasound facilities which are rarely functioning in Jamaica,” said the Chinese officials.

This is the second stop of the hospital ship’s 100-day voyage across the Pacific and around the Caribbean on ‘Mission Harmony’.  The 14300-ton and 178-meter-long ship carries aboard a state-of-the-art 300-bed hospital that can be deployed for wartime evacuation, medical support for warships, international humanitarian mission and disaster relief, Chinese officials claimed in a release from its Jamaican Embassy.

The Ship was launched three years ago but is making only its second trip abroad after treating 15,500 people last year on a voyage to the Gulf of Aden and five African and Asian countries.

During its visit to Jamaica Chinese health professionals and their Jamaican colleagues will have opportunities to visit each others hospitals (on-board) and conduct medical exchange at seminars, while Chinese Navy football and basketball teams will play with JDF teams.
A spokesman from Chinese Embassy said the visit would add a new dimension to China-Jamaica relationship that has seen rapid development in recent years.

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Jeweller faces massive fine under CITES laws

| 30/10/2011 | 2 Comments

(St.Thomas Source): A manufacturer of high-end jewellery, art, and sculpture has been sentenced in the US to penalties of more than $4million for knowingly trading in falsely-labelled, protected black coral.  The firm violated the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act, which make it a felony to falsely label wildlife intended for international commerce. The Endangered Species Act is the US domestic law that implements the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).  On July 15, GEM Manufacturing LLC, headquartered in St. Thomas, pleaded guilty to seven counts of violations of both the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act.

The St. Thomas company was sentenced to pay acriminal fine of $1.8 million, which will be apportioned between the Lacey Act Reward Fund and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Asset Forfeiture Fund.

GEM was sentenced to pay an additional $500,000 in community service payments for projects to study and protect black coral, and ordered to forfeit dozens of jewellery items, 10 artistic sculptures and nearly 7 tons of raw black coral. The total value of the forfeited goods exceeds $2.17 million, according to the Justice Department, bringing the aggregate financial penalty to $4.47 million.

That makes it the largest penalty for the illegal trade in coral, the largest non-seafood wildlife trafficking financial penalty and the fourth largest for any U.S. case involving the illegal trade of wildlife, according to the release from the Justice Department.

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