Archive for February 20th, 2012

Prison battles against drugs

| 20/02/2012 | 24 Comments

Prison entrance.JPG(CNS): Following reportsof ganja being found hidden in staff offices at the prison last week the Deputy director at Northward said that since December the prison has intensified its efforts to stop drugs from getting inside the prison walls but he described it as a “relentless battle” to combat the smuggling. Daniel Greaves told CNS that the latest haul of drugs was less than an ounce and was found as a result of a search based on intelligence about ganja being hidden in the office. He explained that as the prison authorities clamp down then prisoners are becoming more creative as they try to smuggle drugs into HMP Northward and then to hide it once it’s inside the grounds.

“While it's been challenging due to resource reasons, the security department continue to tirelessly to battle all attempts by smugglers to have their goods delivered,” Greaves stated. “These efforts are supported by intelligence, external fence patrol, joint police/ prison operation and intensive searches of living accommodation inside the prison, hence the need for prisoners to be creative in trying to find place to hide their illegal items.”

Greaves also explained that aside from increasing the physical security to try and stop the drugs the prison was now looking at how to get prisoners off the drugs.

“While it is a relentless battle, we remain positive and optimistic that through programs and initiatives we can reduce the demand for drugs which will ultimately lead to a reduction in the supply,” he added.
Over the last two months or so, the prison deputy said that more than 16lbs of ganja has been smuggled in and handed over to police. “This is our reality” Greaves said of the situation that faces all prisons the world over.

He explained that when the prison authorities find inmates with drugs they can be charged and dealt with internally but depending on the amount the cases can be referred to the police for prosecution.

 In the most recent case Greaves said that investigations are now underway to find the possible source. “There is no reason to believe that the drugs found belong to any officers at this time, however the investigation will look at all possibilities,” he said as he explained that prisoners had been working in the area cleaning but that office provides many functions for both staff and prisoners.

Prior to the discovery of the drugs in the shift commander’s office on Thursday morning several packets of ganja were recovered from the administrative building which houses the prison director’s office last week.

The use of ganja appears to be prevalent in Northward and one inmate freely admitted using the drug when he gave evidence during a recent murder trial in the grand court. The prison witness told the judge that his memory was faulty as a result of his regular ganja use which had persisted whilst he was incarcerated. 

While HMP Northward appears to have a problem with ganja, when it comes to the serious problems associated with class A drugs, such as cocaine and heroin Cayman has largely escaped, not just the more damaging effects of those drugs on prisoners but also the accompanying violence.

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Aquatic club makes waves in Florida

| 20/02/2012 | 0 Comments

Coral Springs Invitational 1 (257x300).jpg(CBAC):A select team of Camana Bay Aquatic Club (CBAC) swimmers travelled to South Florida earlier this month to train with the South Florida Aquatic Club (SOFL) Comets swim team and compete in the Coral Springs Open Invitational Meet, which took place 3-5 February. SOFL is a year-round competitive swim team and a member of USA Swimming, the Olympic development programme for competitive swimming. With more than 450 members and a host of world-class facilities, including two 50-metre Olympic-size pools and three 25-metre and 25-yard pools, this was a unique opportunity for thirteen young CBAC swimmers to train with one of the leading competitive aquatic programmes in the United States.

“An opportunity like this not only allows our swimmers to meet other competitive swimmers of similar ages and make new friendships – but it also gives them invaluable training time in a 50-metre pool,” explained CBAC Head Coach Katie Lambert.

The two-day meet gave the swimmers a further taste of competitive swimming at a top-level international meet in the Coral Springs Aquatic Centre’s Olympic-size pool. The weekend saw all swimmers make significant strides towards their individual goals.

“This was a great opportunity for our CARIFTA hopefuls to race in a 50-metre pool and to achieve their times to make the team,” said Coach Katie. “This included Eddie Weber, 11, who swam six personal best times. “Eddie has been training very hard and is working towards trying to make the 2012 CARIFTA team. This was a big step for him and he is that much closer to reaching his goals,” she added.

Another event highlight saw one of CBAC’s youngest Novice A swimmers, Emily Link, 9, take an average of six seconds off her personal best times. Both Skyler O’Connor, 10, and Isabella Tognazzo, 13, set personal bests in the 50-metre Freestyle; Skyler knocked four seconds off her time, setting a new personal best of 39.04 seconds.

Coach Katie was pleased with her swimmers’ quick adjustment to racing in a long course pool. “I am very proud of all our swimmers. The Coral Springs meet was a great example of the success of CBAC’s swim programme and the advantages of attending international meets,” she said. “This was also a chance for CBAC to make contacts on the international swim scene and hopefully bring more swimmers to the Cayman Islands.”

The Club is now focused on training for CBAC’s first open water swim series, which begins on Saturday 18 February. Taking place over the course of six weeks, the three-part series is open to the public and is a great way for everyone in the local community to learn a vital life skill, enjoy a great workout, get wet and have fun. 

The Camana Bay Aquatic Club provides a positive environment for young swimmers to hone their skills and achieve their goals. “Being involved with a swim team teaches swimmers the values of teamwork and individual goal setting,” said Coach Katie, “And you’re learning a life skill. Swimming is a sport for people of all ages, and we hope that swimmers fall in love with it and swim for life.”

Based at the Camana Bay Sports Complex, CBAC is one of two swim clubs on island; Stingray Swim Clubis headquartered at the Lions Aquatic Centre. Both Clubs are governed by the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association (CIASA). The CARIFTA Swimming Championships will take place in Cable Beach Nassau, Bahamas from 12-15 April 2012. The Cayman Islands team for this Olympic-qualifying meet will be selected and announced on Monday 5 March.

For more information about CBAC or the Open Water Series contact Coach Katie Lambert at katie.lambert@camanabay.com. For highlights from the Coral Springs Invitational Meet, visit www.facebook.com/pages/Camana-Bay-Aquatic-Club.
 

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Immigration launches ‘virtual’ office

| 20/02/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The Cayman Islands immigration department is launching a brand new online service tomorrow and local business owners and human-resource professionals are urged to attend the launch of Immigration On-Line (IOL) on Tuesday afternoon in order to learn how to use the new virtual service. “While our customers have had access to see their data for several years, the previous system provided very limited information,” said Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans. “That system will be terminated in May and be replaced by IOL, so all of our customers should make an effort to get enrolled as soon as possible.” Read more on CNS Business

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Mac to hit back with public meeting about port

| 20/02/2012 | 28 Comments

mac budget.jpg(CNS): In the wake of a public rally in opposition to government’s proposed Dart deal, the premier will be hitting back by hosting his own public meeting this evening (Tuesday 21 February) in George Town on the same spot. McKeeva Bush says he will be updating the public on the cruise ship dock and “other matters”. Following the meeting hosted by local activists against the ForCayman Alliance, the premier will be emphasising the need to get projects going to create jobs and generate business to kick start the still flagging economy. The meeting, which will be broadcast live on Radio Cayman, will be held at Celebration Park Next to the Courthouse at 7:30pm.

See flyer below.

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Cayman v Bermuda: Cox responds to Bush taunts

| 20/02/2012 | 0 Comments

bush and cox.PNG(CNS Business): Following taunting remarks by Premier McKeeva Bush last week that the Cayman Islands would win Bermuda’s insurance market, Bermuda’s Premier Paula Cox has punched back, saying, “Only the naive would be foolish enough to count Bermuda out,” and it was unlikely that Cayman’s initiative would represent a serious threat to Bermuda’s existing reinsurance market in the short term. She maintained that Bermuda was known as the risk capital of the world and was working to extend its lead while Cayman was trying to close the gap. The island also took measures to include Bermudians in its economic success, she said. Read more on CNS Business

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Scientists find genetic defect behind obesity

| 20/02/2012 | 1 Comment

Fatty-deposits (266x300).jpg(CNS): Researcher’s from London’s Imperial College in theUK have found that defects in a protein that functions as a dietary fat sensor may be the cause of obesity and liver disease, according to a study published in the journal Nature. The findings highlight a promising target for new drugs to treat obesity and metabolic disorders, the experts stated in a release on Sunday. The protein GPR120 is found on the surface of cells in the gut, liver and fat tissue and allows cells to detect and respond to unsaturated fatty acids from the diet, especially the omega-3 fatty acids which are believed to have a beneficial impact on health. Scientists found that mice deficient in GPR120 were more prone to developing obesity and liver disease when fed a high-fat diet.

They also found that people with a certain mutation in the gene encoding GPR120, which stops the protein fromresponding to omega-3 fatty acids, were significantly more likely to be obese.

“Being overweight is not always unhealthy if you can make more fat cells to store fat,” said Professor Froguel. “Some people seem to be unable to do this, and instead they deposit fat around their internal organs, which is very unhealthy. Our study suggests that in both mice and humans, defects in GPR120 combined with a high-fat diet greatly increase the risk of this unhealthy pattern of obesity. We think GPR120 could be a useful target for new drugs to treat obesity and liver diseases.”

In the gut, when unsaturated fatty acids from food bind to GPR120, this stimulates the release of hormones that suppress appetite and stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin. When fat cells sense high levels of fat in the blood through GPR120, it stimulates them to divide to produce more fat cells to store all the fat, reducing the risk of fatty liver and furring of the arteries. This mechanism could be an important pathway for bringing about some of the healthy effects of omega-3s.

When they were fed on a high-fat diet, mice that lacked GPR120 not only became obese but also had fatty livers, lower numbers of fat cells, and poor control of blood glucose.

The researchers believe that mice that are deficient in GPR120 have difficulty storing excess fat in fat tissue. Instead, their bodies store fat in areas where it can cause health problems, like the liver, the muscles and in the walls of arteries. In humans, this pattern of obesity is associated with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The researchers analysed the gene for GPR120 in 6,942 obese people and 7,654 controls to test whether differences in the code that carries instructions for making the protein contribute to obesity in humans. They found that one mutation that renders the protein dysfunctional increases a person’s risk of obesity by 60 per cent. The researchers think this mutation mimics the effect of a bad diet lacking in unsaturated omega-3 fat.
The research was funded by the Medical Research Council, the European Commission, and numerous funding bodies in France, Japan and Finland.

 

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Cave plans long term

| 20/02/2012 | 39 Comments

caveScan 2 (219x300).jpg(CNS): The owner of the North Side caves, who says he plans to develop them into a tourist attraction, told CNS that there will be no bar, restaurant or nightclub inside the caves and that no development work is taking place there yet, merely tests in preparation for his re-zoning and planning applications. Christian Sorensen admitted however that he did have plans for a licensed bar and restaurant near to the caves.  He denied that he did not discuss his plans with the National Trust but said that it was several years since he had sat down in conservation with them and had not alerted them to the current work at the site of theproposed commercial “nature attraction”.

Sorensen told CNS that the circulation of the picture and comments by the National Trust had misrepresented what was happening and that both the NT and Department of Environment have known for many years that Crystal Caves wanted to create an attraction in the area. The need for access roads to his land, he said, had involved extensive discussions with the Trust, which holds land neighbouring the property.

Minutes of meetings back in 2009 show that the project was support by the then leader of government business, now premier, McKeeva Bush, who told the developers that he would support a planning waiver for the access roads.

Sorensen confirmed that government has granted a retail licence and a tourist attraction licence for the attractions as well as a liquor licence. However, he stated that he did not have a music and dancing licence. He said that with the proposed developments, such as the Shetty hospital and Cayman Enterprise City, the time was right to return to the proposal and begin the necessary process to get planning permission.

The plans go back to the 1990s, Sorensen said in response to the criticisms that have emerged since the excavator was photographed in the cave last week. He said that when he bought the land it was always with the intention of creating a guided tour of some kind and it was through talks with the National Trust that just five of a very extensive network of caves and a nature walk in the surrounding area emerged as the basis of the planned attraction. He said a small wooden structure would be erected some distance from the caves where visitors could buy a drink and some food after their tour, as well as souvenirs

The developer insisted that he had official “permission to carry out the tests” at the cave and to clear a pathway for the excavator as he needed to measure the areas to ensure that the five caves could be accessed safely by visitors.

Sorensen claimed that the project was “an eco-friendly one that would protect not damage the caves”. He said that at present people are camping there, burning fires, stealing stalagmites and vandalising the sensitive cave system. Sorensen said as an official attraction the caves would be managed properly and have round the clock security as well as qualified guides taking people round. He said that some people had been guiding tourists and charging money for the tours on his land, without regard to the safety of the visitor or the integrity of the caves.

The goal to have an organised attraction there is not new, Sorensen insisted, but it would still be some time before he actually started to develop the caves as a tourist attraction and, as a result of the previous discussions with the National Trust and the DoE, he had modified the original proposals and would now not have the road going so close to the caves. He said there would be lighting but experts have advised that this does not cause any damage to the sensitive eco systems.

Sorenson was concerned that the comments by the Trust were not reflective of the reality of the situation because they were aware of the long term plan and he said this had caused the distress. However, he conceded that he had not called attention to his ‘testing’ at the site as he did not want to attract further unwanted attention to the area from the visitors he says are causing the damage.

Asked about his plans for an environmental impact assessment, Sorensen said he would have to consider the situation and the costs involved as well as who would undertake the assessment, noting that his family had developed caves in Barbados so they already had considerable experience.

With no national conservation law, Sorensen and his partners at Crystal Caves are underno obligation to carry out an environmental impact assessment.

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Foiled cash-bag robber admits guilt

| 20/02/2012 | 14 Comments

courts good.jpg(CNS): A forty year old foreign national has admitted attempting to rob a cash bag from a security guard outside foster’s supermarket in Savannah last year. Calmore Range pleaded guilty to attempted robbery on Friday when he appeared in Grand Court before Justice Seymour Panton. The Spanish speaker was assisted by an interpreter and remanded in custody until his sentencing hearing next month.  Range was charged in December following his arrest at Owen Roberts International where he was trying to leave the country a few days after his foiled robbery attempt.

Range had made his bid to grab the cash as the security guard was loading an armoured van outside the supermarket in the Countryside Shopping Village on 2 December at around 7:30. As he approached the guard carrying what was at the time believed to be a handgun he demanded the cash bag but the guard put up a fight and Range ran off empty handed. Although the guard reported to police that he was shaken bythe attack, he was not physically injured and no shots were fired.

The police issued a description of the suspect and Range was arrested four days later at the airport.

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BT group steps up campaign against dump move

| 20/02/2012 | 25 Comments

yard-sign-1 (240x300).jpg(CNS): Lawn signs indicating the district’s spreading opposition over the proposal to move the landfill have sprung up around Bodden Town as the Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free steps up its own publicity campaign in what it says is a response to the Dart PR machine. In reply to the recent “ForCayman Investment Alliance” flyer, the coalition has published a rebuttal flyer, which it has distributed through the Bodden Town and Savannah post offices. The campaigners have also launched a website setting out the group’s opposition to the plan to cap and remediate the existing dump and start a new facility in Midlands Acre as part of a controversial major partnership deal between the Dart Group and government.

The coalition said the response to their campaign has been overwhelming and demand for the new lawn signs is outstripping supply.

“Property owners, tenants and business owners have been phoning and emailing us for the yard signs and then calling back for more – for their friends, family, and neighbours,” said Vincent Frederick, one of the coalition leaders. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the response, but we aim to get more signs out to the people of our district as they become available.  We expect that they’ll be displayed in Midland Acres, along the main road in Bodden Town and throughout the district.”

The group does not have the funding of the Dart Group, which has also been running a campaign in the district to win the hearts and minds of the residents for the relocation of what they say will be a state-of-the-art modern eco-waste management park

Nevertheless, Gregg Anderson, another coalition leader, stated, “We’re using every means at our disposal, in spite of our limited resources, to counter the misconceptions spread by government and by Dart and to defend our district against this needless assault.” 

He denied allegations made by his district representative and environment minister, Mark Scotland, who accused the coalition of suggesting the current location in its current form is acceptable.

“This is an outright lie,” Anderson said. “The George Town dump, as it has been mismanaged by this and by previous governments, is completely unacceptable.  But the problem of Mount Trashmore can and must be fixed where it is without contaminating a new site.  We fully support the solution chosen by the Central Tenders Committee, favoured by independent engineers and adopted by this very same government before its inexplicable about face – a waste-to-energy facility, proper management of the GT dump, and a concerted recycling programme.”

He said this was the same conclusion of the 2008 APEC Engineering study commissioned by the government, adding that since its inception the coalition has called for a solution of the landfill problem which is in the interest of Grand Cayman as a whole at its current location instead of creating a new Mount Trashmore “with no concern at all for due process, for the well-being of Bodden Towners and for their environment.” 

The coalition takes the position that the sudden decision to move the landfill is for “the sole benefit of Dart” as they point to the need to convert the residential/agricultural zoned area into a heavy industrial zone.

Alain Beiner, a Bodden town businessman and a coalition spokesperson, stated that while the activists don’t have the spending power of Dart or even government but with the flyer and the website the group hoped what he called the facts and the opinion of those not on Dart’s payroll would get out to the people of the district and beyond.

“Government has ignored due process and the need for an environmental impact assessment.  They have even refused to tell us which government entity decided to move the dump to Bodden Town and on what basis.  They have refused to consult the people of our district, apparently preferring the opinion of those with a financial interest in forcing the dump on us,” he said.

The Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free is a non-political, single issue community organization open to everyone, regardless of political affiliation.  It supports no political party and condemns equally past and present governments for neglecting their responsibility in regards to proper management of the George Town landfill and the elimination of Mount Trashmore.

Go to coalition website and see flyer below.

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Cubans repatriated after three months in Cayman

| 20/02/2012 | 12 Comments

wave 1750 (250x300).jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands government returned sixteen Cuban refugees last week who were forced toland on Cayman Brac back in November because of problems with their vessel. Two men, however, remain on the run. Fernando Figueredo and Rafael Hildalgo, escaped the Detention Centre on 21 January and are still being sought,officials stated. The 15 men and one woman were all repatriated, despite their claims for political asylum in the Cayman Islands, all of which were reviewed and refused. According to officials, the refugees all signed letters stating that they wished to be repatriated. One of the men also stated that he would be getting on the next boat leaving Cuba as soon as he could.

In a release from GIS, the Cubans reportedly stated that they had been treated well during their stay in Cayman by government, individuals and the wider community but gave a “thumbs-down” to having to return.

Poster_1724 (300x199).jpg

“I’m happy to be going back to see my family, but I will get on the next boat leaving Cuba but not stopping in Cayman Islands,” one refugee reportedly told GIS.

Acting Assistant Chief Immigration Officer Joey Scott led a team of 17 officers in what was the first repatriation handled entirely by immigration and the second in two years.

Gary Wong, head of the immigration’s enforcement arm, said that the goal was to carry out the process in a safe and effective manner.

Anyone with information regarding the two missing refugees is asked to call 526-0418, 526-0433 or 526-0488, or risk facing prosecution.

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