Archive for January 29th, 2012

Legality of multiple rape indictment challenged

| 29/01/2012 | 0 Comments

bodden-barnes (250x300)_1.jpg(CNS): Suspected serial rapist Jeffery Barnes has still not answered any of the charges against him as his lawyer claims the prosecution haveincorrectly tied together a number of charges on the same indictment that cannot be tried together. Jeffery Barnes, who remains in custody at Northward, was arrested and charged with one count of rape one for sexual assault and another for aggravated burglary shortly after his arrest on 1 November at an apartment in Ocean Club. Soon after the arrest relating to just one victim, he was later charged with two other counts of rape in relation to two other separate incidents revolving two other women.

Barnes has been charged with an assault on a 49 year old woman on 29 October in the middle of the morning when he reportedly forced his victim into his car and taking her to Admiral's Landing, where the rape took place.

He was also charged with another attack on a woman who has since left the island and also with a third assault on a female teenage relative.
Although Barnes had been expected to answer the charges against him in court Friday morning the defence attorney representing him said that the crown had misinterpreted changes to the criminal procedure code and it could not try her client for all of the crimes together.

The lawyer stated that she would be making legal arguments before the court about the charges and the failure of the legal department to correctly word the indictment which had been served on her client.

 

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Port Authority escapes court

| 29/01/2012 | 14 Comments

port office.JPG(CNS): The information commissioner will not be pursuing any court action in connection with the Port Authority’s failure to release documents relating to negotiations between it, the Cayman Islands Government and the developer, GLF Construction, relating to the cruise berthing project. Jennifer Dilbert stated Friday that although the authority had failed to comply with an order she had issued on 13 December under the Freedom of Information law, the applicant had advised the commissioner they no longer required the relevant record and therefore she would not be certifying to the Grand Court the failure of the public authority to follow the law.

The Port Authority had sought to exempt the documents from FOI but during her 19th decision in the wake of the applicant’s appeal she had order the port to release them no later than 27 January. Since no judicial review of her decision had been sought, the documents should now be available.

Technically, the Port Authority is not in compliance with Dilbert’s order but as the applicant no longer wants the information it has escaped legal sanction, though it is understood the documents have still not been released.

It is not clear why the applicant has withdrawn its request for the documents, which the commissioner had stated should be in the public domain. In her ruling she had pointed to the public interest surrounding government’s plans for cruise berthing facilities and that a considerable number of the relevant documents were already in the public domain.

In light of what Dilbert said was the need for government to be accountable for its actions and decisions, especially in the light of the high costs involved in the port expansion project, Dilbert ruled that the balance of the public interest weighed in favour of disclosure in this instance, despite the authority’s desire to keep the records under wraps.

“The port expansion is an exceptional capital project of Government, which has been called “the most expensive” of its kind in the Cayman Islands to date, involving construction costs of reportedly close to $200 million. As such, in my view it is entirely proper that this project and the decisions relevant to it should receive very close scrutiny from Government and the general public alike,” the information boss said.

CNS has now submitted an FOI request to the authority for the same and other relevant documents in order to ensure that, despite the applicant’s decision, the documents will be available to those members of the public still interested in the issue.

See information Commissioner's decision and related story here.

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Axe suspect denies robbery

| 29/01/2012 | 0 Comments

mag jewellers_0.jpg(CNS): A lone George Town man who has been charged with an audacious daylight jewellery store robbery has denied being one of three men who took an axe to the downtown store just days before Christmas. Simon Julio Newball pleaded not guilty to five counts in connection with the offence when he appeared in Grand Court on Friday morning. Newball who is represented by John Furnis denied theft, robbery, arson, handling stolen goods and being in possession of criminal property in connection with the crime which included the theft of a RAV 4 in Bodden Town on 21 December before the daylight robbery of Magnum Jewellers in Cardinal Avenue on 22 December.

The stolen getaway vehicle was found burnt out by police on Wahoo Close shortly after the daylight heist when three men one of whom was armed with an axe smashed two jewel display cases in the open frontage of the store on a busy morning in George Town and made off with thousands of dollars’ worth of high end jewellery.  The smash and grab raid took place around 11:20 when the street was packed with Christmas shoppers both locals and visitors as there were four cruise ships in George town harbour that morning.

Newball was remanded in custody until next week when his attorney stated he would be make a bail application for his client who has denied any part in the crime.

Police have made no further arrest in connection with the robbery that involved at least three masked men. According to a police report from the day of the crime the RAv4 was first stolen from Seaside Way in Bodden Town sometime on the night of 21 July. That car was abandoned by the robbers in Wahoo Close but not before it was set alight. The masked men were then believed to have made their escape from there in a maroon coloured SUV.

According to the police when Newball was arrested at his home in Windsor Park on 10 January jewellery from the robbery was found in his possession.

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Commission plans to fuel ‘good governance’ debate

| 29/01/2012 | 1 Comment

leg ass 2_1.jpg(CNS): Although thejury may still be out on whether or not “good governance” can describe the current situation in the Cayman Islands it remains the phrase on everyone’s lips and the constitutional commission will soon be adding their two cents to the debate. According to the commission’s annual report it willbe publishing a discussion paper on the subject shortly as well as another topical issue that of crown land. In the report the commissions stated that Cayman is at a point in history where the community clearly understands the necessity for the Cayman Islands “to exemplify the principles of accountability, transparency, good governance, and ethically sound decisions.”

The report notes the s establishment of the various institutions under the constitution but notes the lack of legislation for the crucial Standards in Public Life commission and the failure of the government to pass the necessary legislation for a people initiated referendums.

The report offers a review of the commission’s work throughout 2011 and its goal to encourage adherence to a concise framework of checks and balances designed to support the people and their Constitution.

“In essence, the progress of democracy in our Islands is centred on an efficient and effective symbiotic relationship encompassing the public and a government elected ‘by the people for the people‘,” the report states.

Admitting there had been inevitable hurdles and challenges in the Commission‘s developmental process, it said it will continue striving to ensure that the independence of the Commission is fortified and it encourages the public, in the report, to be an informed and proactive participants of the democratic process rather than a passive consumer of information.

“Since the publication of our first report, the Commission has undertaken multiple research-based projects, provided opinions and advice on constitutional matters, and reached out to the community by establishing an internet presence –www.knowyourconstitution.ky. As a matter of commitment to the people of the Cayman Islands, we will continue to keep the interests of the public at the forefront while promoting greater understanding and awareness of the Constitution,” the report states.

With the sad death of the Constitutional Commission’s chair Pastor Al Ebanks on 18 November, last year Wil Pineau and Julene Banks remain the only two commissioners.

See full report below

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Chefs prepare to cook up some ‘souper bowls’

| 29/01/2012 | 0 Comments

chicken-soup.jpg(BBBS): Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cayman Islands’ (BBBS) fourth annual Soup-er Bowl is back on the front burner this coming weekend. Scheduled for noon to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, 4 February 2012, at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort on West Bay Road, the event promises to be just as great as or better than previous years. A friendly competition amongst local restaurants for bragging rights as Cayman’s best soup purveyor, top chefs will pull out their most appetising one-of-a-kind creations to wow the taste buds of the voting public.

But more than just a soup competition, BBBS Soup-er Bowl is a fun, tasty, family-friendly event that showcases some of Cayman’s top chefs and finest restaurants, all while supporting BBBS.

The 2011 champion Bacchus, left a memorable impression when their Satinasutro Asian Tomato Fusion soupoutperformed all competitors. Still, others like Solana by Marriott’s gumbo andThai Orchid’s Tom Yum Goong made their mark and were voted second and third place respectively.

“We’re very excited about this fourth annual event and especially so because we’re returning to the place where it all started in 2009, the Grand Cayman Marriott,” says Big Brothers Big Sisters Fundraising Chair Stacy Parke.

“The event is unquestionably a win-win as restaurants can ‘strut-their-stuff’, attendees get to experience a culinary cornucopia and 100 percent of every ticket sold goes directly to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“We encourage the public to attend as their support helps us continue our mission of providing children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.”

BBBS Soup-er Bowl 2012 is brought to you by the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort and LIME. Other sponsors include Cayman27, dms Broadcasting, iNews, InSight Media, Island Supply, PostNet, Signs of Paradise and Vision Marketing.

Tickets, available from Funky Tangs and the BBBS Office, are $25 for adults and $10 for seniors and children between the ages of 5 and 12 years.

For more information and registration forms, interested restaurants may contact the BBBS office on 945-6315 orbbbs-cay@candw.ky. Participants need only provide their best soup, chafing dishes and a server.

Soup-er Bowl 2011 winners (600x350).jpg

Photo Kenisha Morgan: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cayman Islands 2011 Soup-er Bowl winners proudly display their awards. (From left) Deckers’ Matthias Nickchen; Thai Orchid’s Woody Sriling; BBBS Board Member Lesley Thompson; Grand Cayman Marriot’s Sebastian Mena and Matt Skaletsky; Bacchus’ Lawrence Gomes; and former BBBS Board Members Vanessa Allard and Hemant Balgobin.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cayman Islands serves children throughout Grand Cayman by providing mentors to those in need of extra time and attention from a caring adult. BBBS is a non-profit organisation that depends solely on donors and fundraisers to finance its programmes. Donations are therefore always welcomed.

To donate, become a mentor or volunteer, please contact us on (345) 945-6315 or bbbs-cay@candw.ky . Our office is located in the Diamonds International Building at 8 North Church Street, George Town.

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Young filmmakers heading to New York

| 29/01/2012 | 0 Comments

(DoT): The winners of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (DOT) short film competition entitled Cayman…Through My Eyes were announced recently, during a special screening and awards ceremony held at the Harquail Theatre. Junior winner Jessica Johnson earned a one week scholarship for the Introductory Digital Filmmaking Camp for Tweens at the New York Film Academy and a Nikon Coolpix P500 Digital Video Camera.  First place senior winner Gerome also earned a one week scholarship to the New York Film Academy for the Digital Filmmaking Camp and a Nikon Coolpix P500 Digital Video Camera.

Following an online voting process, Joshua was recognised as the People’s Choice Award winner.

Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott lauded the budding filmmakers. “It is always refreshing to be reminded that the Caymankind spirit resides in all of us here, regardless of our age.  These young stars have demonstrated an awareness of our culture, environment and what it really means to be a part of the Cayman Islands and I believe that competitions like this help to encourage our youth to develop into ambassadors of Cayman,” he said.

Winners in the junior category (students aged 10 to 13) were:
1st Place- Jessica Johnson, film titled Netball; Sir John A. Cumber Primary School
2nd Place- Carey Ebanks, film titled Planet Grow; Sir John A. Cumber Primary School
3rd Place- Sky Celestial and Jasmine Ebanks, film titled Dance; Sir John A. Cumber Primary School
Winners in the senior category (students aged 14 to 17) were:
1st  Place- Gerome Bodden, film titled My Cayman; University College of the Cayman Islands
2nd  Place- Daniel Conolly-Foster, film titled Cayman Through My Eyes; John Gray High School
3rd  Place- Joshua Smith, film titled Cayman Through My Eyes; John Gray High School

Acting Director of Tourism Mr Shomari Scott lauded the budding filmmakers, saying: “It is always refreshing to be reminded that the Caymankind spirit resides in all of us here, regardless of our age.  These young stars have demonstrated an awareness of our culture, environment and what it really means to be a part of the Cayman Islands and I believe that competitions like this help to encourage our youth to develop into ambassadors of Cayman.”

 

IMG_0038 (300x157).jpgPhoto: Winners of the Short Film Competition flank staff from DOT after being presented with awards. Pictured are (L to R) Gerome Bodden, Daniel Conolly-Foster, Joshua Smith, Kyle McLean, Raquel Brown, Diane Conolly, Jessica Johnson, Jasmine Ebanks and Sky Celestial, and Carey Ebanks.
 

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Driving becomes part of school timetable

| 29/01/2012 | 0 Comments

DVDL (1) (252x300).jpg(CNS): Over 200 students from John Gray and Clifton Hunter High Schools havegone through the theoretical course of the Department of Vehicle and Driver’s Licensing Driver Education Programme since it started on 20 October last year officials have said. Students have also been able to try their hand at the practical side and recently 30 young drivers got behind the wheel and under the hood in the car park of the Family Life Centre, under the careful watch of instructors Billy Ebanks, Roy Bush and Burman Scott and the education minister who said that there is a need for young drivers to be better prepared for the roads.

Visiting the practical class, Rolston Anglin said he was pleased the programme is now part of the school curriculum and hoped to see it grow and target even younger children. He shared his own personal grief having lost an older brother to a car accident many years ago.

“You are not only responsible for you but for the other people on the road” he told the students.
“We have had a big demand from the public for drivers to be better prepared for driving. The skills that you learn here will stick with you for the rest of your life. Remember you share the road with many other drivers and you have to take that in account.”

Deputy Chief Officer Jonathon Jackson in the ministry spoke on behalf of Juliana O’Connor Connolly, who is the minster with responsibility for vehicle licensing but who did not attend.

“A driver’s license is one of the biggest status symbols among high school students. Getting a driver’s license is not a right, but a privilege, and as such, the Driver Education Programme will help our young drivers to understand that with privilege comes responsibility, such as paying attention to the road, focusing on driving and analyzing and adjusting to road conditions when the need arises,” he said on her behalf.

Officials stated that there are now plans to introduce the driver’s education programme, which is sponsored by Saxon MG, Avis Car Rental and Prestige Motors into the private schools as well as Cayman Brac in the near future.

Fifteen-year-old Amber McCoy explained some of the things that students learn on the programme. “It has helped me to gain a better understanding of cars and how they work and what we have to do when we have to drive. The focus has been on road safety and we have received instructions such as where to hold the steering wheel and what road signs mean,” she said.

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Local Cyber Rays move on in US robot contest

| 29/01/2012 | 0 Comments

photo (1).JPG(CNS): A team of five students from year 7 and 8 of Cayman Prep High School have competed in a qualifier First Lego League tournament in Clearwater, FL.  The tournament was the culmination of 5 months of hard work by the team and its coaches.  At the end of the all-day event the team's outstanding performance meant that they advanced to the next round with a coveted 'golden ticket' to the regional tournament in Tampa, FL, on February 4.  The event comprised a mission field with almost 20 potential missions to complete within the 2.5 minute round.  The highest score of three rounds was counted. 

The theme changes every year, with this year being a 'Food Factor' challenge involving clearing bacteria, reversing pollution, safe transport of groceries, harvesting of corn, and elimination of virus to name but a few.

The Cyber Ray's also won the trophy for Best Robot Performance, a significant achievement for the rookie team.  The Cyber rays are Josh Martin, Ryan Kirkaldy, Nick Crawshaw, Mike Boucher and Drew Milgate, and the coaches are Allison Smith (Teacher), David Kirkaldy and Jeff Boucher.

Each mission has to be solved by the students using the NXT-G programming language and only Lego parts and sensors.  The Cyber Rays completed 9 missions consistently and successfully.  There are three additional aspects to the event.  The team also has to research, prepare and present a project on the food safety theme, with the Cyber Rays developing a solution to combat milk spoilage.  Secondly, the robot is judged in a technical session to review the process from start to final robot including lessons learned and changes to the programme.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly the team is judged on its understanding of the FLL Core Values, with the key learning point being to always demonstrate 'Gracious Professionalism' and 'Cooperation'.

Robotics is now a part of the curriculum at Cayman Prep High School using the exciting and varied LEGO NXT programmable brick system and accessory sensors.  The school programme got a big boost in June, 2010, when it sponsored Ms. Allison Smith, ICT teacher and now Cyber Ray coach, in completing five days of training at the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) in Pittsburgh, PA.

The NREC is part of the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, a world-renowned robotics organization.  Ms. Smith, like all students at NREC, was surrounded by real-world robot research and commercialization education and introduced to the Lego robots and NXT-G programme as a part of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum.  Much of that training has now found its way into the Prep School curriculum. 

"We started informally in September, 2010, as a club for the years 7-9," said Smith.  "In September, 2011, the school introduced robotics into the curriculum for all year 7 students". Cayman Prep High School now has a total of 48 robotics kits (46 Lego and 2 Tetrix kits).

Cayman Prep High School Principal, Sheila Purdom is an enthusiastic supporter of the robotics programmeand delighted at the success the Cyber Rays had at its first international tournament.

"We are also very proud of the Cyber Rays and very supportive of the talent and consistently outstanding effort made by the students, Allison Smith, Jeff Boucher, and David Kirkaldy in preparing for this competition which promotes our gifted and talented ICT students. As the school looks forward to the future, we aim to stay on the cutting edge of educational technology."

Smith added: "It is difficult to teach young students programming techniques as some of the concepts are abstract. The Robotics programme that we offer uses the NXT-G language which allows students to use advanced graphical-based programming tools. The students build their own robots then they write the programs to make the robots work.  In Robotics the programs come alive and it makes a difficult task easier as students are motivated by seeing immediate results."

The First Lego League field kit is a separate kit which you have to pay for when you register for the FLL program.  Jeff Boucher, coach of the Cyber Rays really got the club going by getting the team registered for the Florida FLL qualifier in Clearwater, FL, resulting in the team win and advancement to the regional competition.   FIRST LEGO League is a robotics program for 9 to 14 year olds designed to get children excited about science and technology as well as teachthem valuable employment and life skills. FLL can be used in a classroom setting but can also be used by ad-hoc teams, scouting troops, home school associations or other groups of interested kids and committed coaches. Teams are composed of up to 10 children with at least one adult coach.

On February 4 the Cyber Rays will again travel to Tampa, FL, to represent Cayman in the West Coast FLL Regionals.  The progress of the team can be followed on the team blog www.cayprepnxt.tumblr.com
For more info on the contest go to Website – http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/fll

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Cayman’s real treasure

| 29/01/2012 | 22 Comments

It is quite evident that our politicians have failed to notice that the counter to the “bad publicity” the Cayman Islands gets in the international press is almost always about our natural environment. Whether it’s the beautiful diving, Stingray City or the blue iguanas, it is Cayman’s natural unique resources, not the financial ones, that promote the destination in a positive light. But while we have a smorgasbord of legislation associated with protecting the financial services sector, we can count on one hand the laws that protect our natural environment.

In an article published in the UK broad sheet The Independent  this Saturday Cathy Winston points out what is obvious to many people in Cayman but what seems to have failed to strike a chord with our politicians: that the real treasures here are “natural ones, rather than those stashed in bank accounts.”

With no sign of the national conservation law, the beauty of our islands, the myriad unique indigenous species and the precious natural resources remain under constant threat. Although the blue iguanas that Winston writes about may be protected, the habitat in which they live is not. Nor are any of the other unique, indigenous and native reptiles, bats, butterflies, flowers, orchids, trees or shrubs, many of which are on the brink of disappearing.

While these three islands are home to more unique fauna and flora than the world famous Galapagos Islands, most of the species that occupy the land have no protection at all.

As development continues and government appears obsessed by the idea that development is the only way out of our current economic difficulties, the conservation law has once again been put on hold.

Despite the claims on the campaign trail that this government would implement a conservation law, following the failure of the previous administration to do so, at well over halfway through their term in office, after months and months of consulting and more consulting, the national conservation bill continues to gather dust on a ministry shelf somewhere.

From the mangroves which were unnecessarily ripped out from the North Sound coast more than 18 months ago on the site of the proposed Dragon Bay development to the impending threat to the central wetlands with the planned relocation of the landfill, nature continues to be grossly undervalued by the government.

The many conservationists here in Cayman that go about their business quietly doing what they can to try and protect the dwindling resources are often derided and dismissed as lentil eating tree huggers. The connection between environments and eco systems is misunderstood and the danger of reaching a tipping point from which the existing natural diversity is pushed over the edge, never to be recovered, is being ignored, despite the clear and unequivocal warnings issued by the country’s experts.

The ignorance displayed by many people, not least the politicians, when it comes to understanding the environmental connectivity and the impact development ‘over here' has on nature 'over there’ continues to be a major threat to the future of the islands as a tourism destination.

People do not come on vacation to Cayman to look at concrete buildings.

If we do not stop clearing land and continuing to develop without an overall plan that includes a real commitment to preserving the habitat as well as the creatures and plants living and growing in it, the beauty that we are clinging on to could be lost forever. Cayman cannot live on cash alone and we will not recover our economic fortunes by selling out our environment.

While people are planning to march against the movement of the dump and the fight to preserve the West Bay Road, they must also begin to focus far more heavily on the bigger picture, which is the environment as a whole.

The NCL has struggled to make it to the floor of the Legislative Assembly because the conservation movement is as yet still in its infancy and there has not been a single non-governmental voice lobbying for it.

There are no independent organisations in Cayman that are vocal when it comes to protecting the natural world. While self interest groups will come together from time to time to fight a common battle (such as over the proposed East End Sea Port) there are no coordinate efforts to protect the whole of our environment.

The Department of Environment remains a staunch advocate but as a government department there are limits to what the staff can do other than spell out the growing dangers of what we are doing to the land on which we live. The National Trust works tirelessly but far too quietly because, again, it is heavily dependent on funding from the government to survive and cannot risk a high profile opposition to government’s neglect of the environment.

It is evident now that this government is very unlikely to pass the original NCL through the legislative process. Even if it does get to the bill before the next election in the hope of picking up a few votes, it is likely to be a watered down version of the original law.

With no formal environmental plan, no laws and no independent green advocacy for our environment, it may not be long before our true national treasure is plundered.

Go to The Independent article

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