Archive for January 13th, 2012

Masked men break into George Town gas station

| 13/01/2012 | 10 Comments

P1130006.JPG(CNS): Two masked men reportedly broke into the Shedden Road Texaco gas station in George Town sometime in the night on Thursday or early this morning . George Town detectives are investigating the suspected burglary after a report made around 5.15 on Friday morning that the station’s store’s glass door had been smashed.  Police said that initial investigations suggest that the men broke into the premises overnight but it is unclear what, if anything, has been stolen.

An RCIPS spokesperson said enquiries are on-going and anyone who has any information regarding the crime, or who saw anything suspicious in the area of the gas station overnight, should contact George Town CID on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).

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IRS cash won’t be from here, says Cayman Finance

| 13/01/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Following the collection of billions of dollars from around the world by the US Internal Revenue Service from its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), representatives from the Cayman Islands financial services sector say it is unlikely that anyof that cash has come from this jurisdiction. Anthony Travers, the former Cayman Finance chair who has stated on numerous occasions that tax dodgers don’t use this jurisdiction, said it was wrong for anyone to assume the money would have come from accounts based here. Richard Coles, the current chair of the industry body, said there was nothing to suggest any of the money came from Cayman but if it had they were pleased it had been recovered. Read more on CNS Business

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GM Mozzies didn’t linger says Cayman control unit

| 13/01/2012 | 15 Comments

mozz eggs.JPG(CNS): Fears that genetically modified mosquitoes had bred and produced surviving offspring in the local population of insects are unfounded the director of Cayman’s Mosquito Research & Control Unit has said. Bill Petrie said that after the research study in Cayman undertaken by Oxitec the mosquitoes did not persist in the environment and there was a significant reduction in the local population of the pest. A report revealed by Genewatch UK and other activist NGOs this week showed that not all of the GM mosquitoes used by the UK firm were actually sterile as claimed by the company and their offspring had survived and mixed with local populations.

“We monitored the mosquito population very thoroughly for several months after the pilot study was conducted, and found an initial reduction in the population of around 80 percent,” Petrie said. “This suppression of the population was sustained for some considerable time. These data refute any allegation that the released mosquitoes persisted in the environment.” He added that during the Grand Cayman pilot study which took place in East End only male mosquitoes, which were sterile and that cannot bite were released.

Petrie said that some of the claims by Genewatch and Friends of the Earth were inaccurate in particular regarding the lack of regulations for bio-study in Cayman as Petrie said the unit had to obtain a permit from the Department of Agriculture for the importation of the mosquito eggs and release of the progeny which he said was obtained after discussions on the rationale behind the pilot study.
“We also consulted with Department of Environment to address any concerns they might have had,” Petrie added.

In the wake of the release of the report and the concerns raised by the charities and activist organisations Oxitec the British company currently undertaking the trials in an effort to find a way to eradicate dengue fever said the charities had made inaccurate assertions about Oxitec's motives, “process and technology with the purpose of causing anxiety” in relation to the on-going research.

“Oxitec was founded with the purpose of finding better ways to combat diseases spread by insects rather than wholesale reliance on toxic and broad spectrum insecticides,” the firm stated in a release on Thursday. “Dengue is an intractable disease spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that affects more than 50 million people annually, mostly in dense urban environments.  There is neither medication nor vaccine for this disease.”
It said it was using genetically engineered 'sterile' males resulting in non-viable offspring and the research could potentially become an important new tool in combating the mosquitoes thatspread disease.

“The institutions who determine the acceptability of any new public health technology are that nation's regulators.  By causing unfounded anxiety outside of the regulatory process, inexpert commentators risk consigning more than 50 million people to "breakbone" flu,” Oxitec charged the charities.

It said the allegations about the study which is already five years old and are extremely misleading. In one laboratory experiment a high level of survival of the mosquitoes in the apparent absence of tetracycline was found which Oxitec said was a strange result.

“We and they investigated and found the food they used for the mosquitoes was contaminated with tetracycline.  While this was a clear case of contamination we have, of course, carried out dose-response studies to determine whether the tetracycline levels that can be found in the environment are likely to lead to survival of our mosquitoes.  While tetracycline can be found in the environment in isolated areas it is not present in sufficient quantity to ensure survival of the mosquitoes,” the firm stated.

Oxitec also denied using poor regions as its laboratory for genetically modified mosquitoes and said that the insinuation that the firm was targeting exploitable populations was “irksome and patronising” as dengue is associated with tropical climate and about two fifths of the world population are at risk as it accused the NGOs of undermining the chance of a real solution to dengue.

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Courts to open own legal aid clinic

| 13/01/2012 | 1 Comment

179839d7441b78dbcf1a0905f574d59e (287x300).jpg(CNS): The chief justice has announced plans to open a legal aid clinic under the administrationof the courts that can offer advice and pre-litigation services to those in the community who qualify for government funding of their legal disputes. Anthony Smellie said the clinic will also provide training opportunities for law students as he called on the profession to volunteer their services to support the clinic. Following the controversy surrounding the administration of Legal Aid when the premier moved the budget from the courts to his own ministry Smellie welcomed its return to the courts in the last budget.

As a result he stated that lawyers invoices far taking on the legal aid cases were now being processed on a more regular basis. Against the background of what he described as the misgivings surrounding the subject over the past few years, he said it was a “wise and appropriate decision” by government to relinquish the funding back to the courts.

He said the judicial administration was now in a position to advance the sort of legislative reform most suitable for Cayman and a draft bill had been prepared part of which included a Legal Aid Clinic which would be located at Kirk House.

“The Clinic will provide the dual benefit of advisory and pre-litigation service to persons who qualify on the means tested basis, as well as training for law students undertaking the legal practitioners’ course,” he told the profession as he gave his report at the opening of the Grand Court on Wednesday.

“The viability of the clinic will however, depend on the willingness of you, the practitioners, to give of your time to work with the lecturers in supervising the students, and overseeing and appraising their work with clients,” he added as he urged lawyers present to volunteer for service at the Clinic.  

The chief justice said based on the experience in other jurisdictions in the region the legal aid clinic has proven to be a very successful way of achieving the dual objectives of practical training for lawyers and service to the public who can’t afford but need legal advice.

With more than 454 applications made each year more than half of which are not related to criminal cases it was clear there was a need for the service.

The issue of legal aid which costs the government around $1.8million per annum despite being comparatively low continues to cause controversy among politicians who are reluctant during times of economic hardship to appropriate money to a cause lacking popular support.

In an attempt to change the way the cash was managed and reduce the funding in its first budget in October 2009 the UDP administration announced that it would be establishing an independent legal aid office that would employ lawyers to represent people in the courts as well as offer free legal advice. The premier moved the budget into his own ministry and announced that local attorneys Theresa Pitcairn and Steve McField who be in charge of establishing the new office.

However, the then governor, Stuart Jack stepped in and ordered a review of the legal process and the premier’s decision to remove the budget from the independence of the judiciary.

A commission then produce a report which has never been made public in its entirety a hard redacted copy was released to CNS via an FOI request which revealed that the courts were providing value for money and that a clinic would be far more expensive.

The auditor general also conducted a value for money report which also found that while there were administrative issues with the accounting at the court the system provided value for money and all those in need of legal aid, especially in criminal matters, were provided with professional representation.


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Missing woman’s husband told to leave island

| 13/01/2012 | 91 Comments

evans immigraiton.JPG(CNS): The immigration department is asking the husband of missing person Anna Ebanks Evans, who disappeared almost one year ago, to leave the Cayman Islands. Gary Evans, who is a Jamaican national, told the local television news channel that despite still being married to Anna, who is Caymanian, he has been told to leave the country. Evans is father to three Caymanian children and has been in the country since 1984. Although he was questioned in the wake of his wife’s disappearance from the George Town landfill January last year, he has never been charged with any crime relating to the whereabouts of Anna.

Speaking to Cayman 27, Evans said he has been told that he must leave Cayman because he has no rights to remain, but he believes that the department has not taken in consideration the fact that he has children that are Caymanian and he is still married to a Caymanian. He also said that his application for permanent residency had been blocked.

Anna was last seen at around noon Thursday 27 January 2011 by her cousin at the George Town landfill, where they both worked. The alarm was raised when Anna, a director of wagons at the landfill, did not meet up with her work colleagues at the end of her shift.

Despite extensive searches and the use of a specilly trained canine unit from the US, there have been no sightings of Anna since she disappeared.

See Cayman 27 video

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New port proposal surfaces

| 13/01/2012 | 87 Comments

cruise ship beautiful.jpg(CNS): The government could have another proposal to consider alongside its current talks with the Chinese for cruise berthing facilities, this time in George Town. Although government has rejected the alternative put forward by local sea captains in South Sound, this third option keeps the facilities in the capital. CNS understands that a Caymanian led consortium has approached government with a plan to finance and construct the facilities in the Pageant beach area. The proposal would be an all-weather facility with no competing retail that would deliver passengers ashore around one mile north of the current terminals and shuttle them into the down town area.

Sources tell CNS that the proposal from the as yet unnamed group of local businessmen would reportedly involve a direct partnership with the cruise lines and would not depend on upland retail development at the site, which is currently in private hands.

It is understood that an offer has been made for the land that would facilitate this third option for government to consider.

Sources close to the consortium told CNS that this proposal would address all of the concerns that people have about the facility and would ensure that the cruise facilities remain safely in Caymanian hands. The project was described as “ideal” as it would mean the facilities would still be very close to the main retail area in down-town George Town but it would alleviate rather than add to the downtown traffic issues.

The group is said to be offering a guarantee that, with the exception of the marine engineering experts, the bulk of the work will go directly to Caymanian contractors and the group estimates that as many as 2,000 local people could be employed on the project.

The eleventh hour proposal is currently well under wraps but CNS understands that the plans will be submitted to government this week and details of them will be made public before the end of January.

Government is currently engaged in talks with the Beijing based firm China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) after the MOU between the premier, the Port Authority and the Chinese firm was renewed in November to extend talks until March.

The proposal with CHEC involves a 51-year lease on the upland element of the development, which would include a range of facilities, including a hotel, a proposal for a casino, restaurants and an extensive retail area with a two storey walkway from the ships.

Meanwhile, a group of local sea-captains have proposed that the facilities be developed in the Red Bay South Sound area, which they say presents a safe all-weather harbour with facilities for up to four piers and a marina, where passengers would be shuttled into George Town from the ships.

The premier, however, recently rejected the proposal as he said the cruise berthing facilities had to be in George Town because of the investment by local merchants in the capital.

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