Archive for April 11th, 2012

Loaded gun found after fire

| 11/04/2012 | 31 Comments

police jackets_7.jpgCNS): Officers from the RCIPS K-9 unit found a loaded handgun this weekend following a brush fire in Governors Harbour in the early hours of Friday morning. Police said Wednesday that officers also recovered the charred remains of a bag which is believed to have been stolen during a robbery in West Bay on the previous night. The discovery was made after the fire service had responded to a report of the fire at around 12.10 am on 6 April on an open lot in North Magellan Quay. After the fire was extinguished and the stolen bag discovered police officers conducted an extensive search of the brush area with dogs and recovered the firearm nearby.

The robbery had taken place less than an hour before the fire at around 11.40 pm on Thursday night outside an address in Willie Farrington Drive.

A woman who was getting out of her car was approached by two masked men armed with what appeared to be handguns. They demanded the woman's handbag which she handed over before running away.  These suspects who were described as tall with light brown complexion wearing masks were believed to have left the scene in a dark coloured sedan heading towards George Town.

A police spokesperson said that enquiries are ongoing into the weapon and the robbery.Anyone who was in the area of North Magellan Quay around the relevant time on Friday and has any information which could assist the investigation is asked to contact George Town police station on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line on 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477(TIPS).

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Mac sets referendum for July

| 11/04/2012 | 144 Comments

_DEW2501_0.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands premier has announced that there will be a referendum this summer on the question of single member constituencies. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly Wenesday morning, he said government had decided to hold the national ballot before the next election on 18 July because of what he described as the divisiveness that the debate was causing in the country. He said government had given significant consideration to the current national discussion and would soon begin an education campaign. McKeeva Bush said he was optimistic that once the people of Cayman were informed on the pros and cons they would make the right decision.

“It is a very divisive issue and when combined with the politics that have been infused into the discussion, it has and will create significant confusion in these islands,” Bush told his legislative colleagues on Wednesday, as the House returned after the Easter break and he made the unexpected announcement.

“My government had previously made a commitment to hold a referendum on the issue at the same time as the next general election. However, due to the deepening divide inthe country caused by the way the opposition and the independent member from North Side has used this issue, my government feels it responsible to put this issue to the electors of this country.”

He said it was important that the public be given its full voice on what he described as a most important constitutional issue.

“In this vein I am pleased to announce that the gGovernment will hold a referendum on the issue of single member constituencies on 18th July, 2012," he said, adding that his position on the electoral system was: "if it is not broken – we shouldn’t meddle with it.”

He said government would embark on a public education process on the proposal for single member constituencies, which would be a significant change.

“I am optimistic that after the intelligent people of the Cayman Islands have made themselves fully knowledgeable and informed on the pros and cons of the various systems, as they have always done, they will make the right decision on this subject,” Bush stated.

Asked by the opposition leader what the question would be and if the referendum would be based on the question in the petition currently circulating asking for a people-initiated referendum on the subject, Bush said that the question or questions would be revealed at the earliest opportunity.

He refused to be drawn on whether this referendum was to be driven entirely by government or whether it was influenced by the petition request, as he said he had heard lots about the petition but he had never seen it and was not aware what it said. He insisted that the ballot question would be arrived at soon and that first there would be an education campaign.

An opponent of single member constituencies, in his statement the premier said the introduction would be costly and he believed it would increase demands on the country’s limited resources, claiming it would see constituenciesdemanding individual services and amenities.

“People who were historically used to voting for and having multiple representatives to represent them, under the changed system would only have a single representative. So people would be put in a worse position; for most people who live in constituencies with 4, 3, 2 representatives, if they move to 1, their franchise rights will be severely shrunken," he added.

Bush said that single member constituencies would be one of the most divisive paths for these islands because it would divide the indigenous vote and create “deeply divided and insular constituencies” at great expense as there would need to be 18 constituency offices and 18 secretaries with associated resources.

These claims have been widely disputed by those promoting the concept of one man, one vote and single member constituencies, which is considered more democratic than multiple voting rights.

The petition, which has been circulating since February and has already collected close to the 3,800 electors names required to trigger a people-initiated referendum, requests a November ballot as opposed to a summer referendum. In order for the referendum on the issue to pass, the premier said it would require 50% of the electorate to vote in favour as stated in the constitution on people led referendums, and not 50% of the turn-out, which might in the summer months prove to be a tall order. 

See the premeir's full statement below.

Petition for single member constituencies and contacts

 

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Touch championships open under full rules

| 11/04/2012 | 0 Comments

Touch4 (240x300).jpg(CRFU): The inaugural National Touch Rugby Championships 2012 started last Saturday with a feast of rugby on show from some of the leading players here in Grand Cayman. Playing for the first time under full International Touch Rules, six teams demonstrated their wares with some rousing rugby, prolific passing, sensational side-steps and scintillating sprinting under the baking Cayman sun.First up was Heineken Brew Crew against DART. With its potent mix of wizened old heads and some of the finest young bucks from the Cayman Rugby National Under 20’s team, Heineken Brew Crew proved too much for DART.

Superior game knowledge and blistering speed led them to early scores from the brothers Morgan and Will Hayward. Solid performances from Caroline Deegan and Lisa Kehoe kept DART on the backfoot until Hayward the Elder, comparable to a young Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments, parted the DART defence like the proverbial Red Sea. If the Israelites had his speed and direction they surely would not have spent 40 years in the Wilderness.

It was one-way traffic and Dave Bailey, the Brew Crew’s oldest member, showed the nimble footwork of a man half his age and weighed in with two top tries of his own. Cries of “Well done, Granddad!” from some of his younger team-mates seemed a tad disingenuous, but by demonstrating a superb side-step to out-fox the defence it goes to show that apparently an old dog can learn some new tricks.

As DART reeled from the battering like a punch-drunk boxer they contributed to their own downfall with some elementary errors in defence. Further tries from Keswick Wright, Lisa Kehoe and Bianca Johnson secured a 10-2 victory for the Heineken Brew Crew; Riley Mullen adding two late consolation tries for DART.

Maybe it is something about playing rugby in an all-black kit but Team Black looked every bit as dominating on the rugby paddock as the New Zealand All Blacks with a stirring 16-1 victory over Walkers Blue Iguanas.   The ball flew from hand-to-hand in a dazzling display of free-flowing rugby. Mike McGrath, like an antipodean Geppetto, pulled the strings and was pivotal in much of Team Black’s good work. His fast offloads and quick passing helped Simon Raftopoulos and Captain Scott McCarty bag four tries each and James Waters pitched in with three more. The gathered crowd was mightily impressed but the Walkers Defence looked simply shell-shocked under the blitzkrieg of tries. More were added to the total by Rudolf Weder, Etienne Duvenage, and McGrath himself in a match that couldn’t end fast enough for Walkers who admirably battled to the end and were eventually rewarded with a late Paul Smith try.

KPMG were next up and they put a scratch team through their paces against Heineken Brew Crew. Never having played together before they looked understandably rusty in the opening exchanges and the Brew Crew opened up a lead early in the first half. However, as the game progressed KPMG started to find holes in the defensive line that the speedy Dean Curtis exploited to great effect. With playmaker Neil Montgomery coming more and more into the game they steadily pegged back the score line and by half-time held a slender 6-5 lead.

Heineken started to buckle under the strain and the pressure led to a, how shall we say, frank exchange of words between team-mates at half-time. It looked like an upset maybe on the cards but, possibly buoyed by some refreshments provided by their eponymous sponsor, the Heineken Brew Crew rallied in the second half. Hayward the Younger outscored his brother by two tries to one, and Steve Henshaw bulldozed his way to the try-line with two more. KPMG ran out of energy late in the game and eventually were defeated 7-11. They should take heart from this performance though and will be tough to beat as the Championships progress.

Maples played their first game of the day against Team Black. It certainly felt as if they’d been pitched into the lion’s den as Team Black made a fast start. Raftopoulos was instrumental in keeping the scoreboard ticking over and his elusive running angles will be a feature of this tournament. Maples would not lie down and kept the score close until midway through the second half with tries from “Livingston, Choi and Palmer”. They may sound like a poor man’s tribute act to the MOR Super Group from the 1970’s (Emerson, Lake and Palmer), but with Marty Livingston and Jyoti Choi playing some good rocking rugby and Chris Palmer providing a solid rhythm, Maples were able to give a fine show of their greatest hit moves. Unfortunately for soft-rock fans everywhere, Team Black showed their metal and eventually proved too strong. Weder (3), Duvenage (2) and Waters (2) sealed the deal to run out 11-6 winners.

The closest game of the day was saved until last when the two corporate behemoths of Cayman, Maples and DART, faced off as the sun set over the yard-arm. Tiffin was taken in the Main Stand and DART were equally hospitable allowing easy and early tries to their rivals. Guy Major played a central role along with Adam Huckle and Joanne Ziegler as they started to dictate play. In adversity DART showed some spirit and after spluttering and stuttering their way through the early exchanges, they finally found some fluidity and brought the score back to 7-6 at half-time.

Three tries a-piece for Major and Choi from Maples were answered by a similar hat-trick for Iain Blackwell for DART. First up DART tries for Nic Schwartz, Michael Mulligan and Siobhan O’Sullivan kept the crowd engaged with this exciting match.  The final score showed a Maples win 10-8. However, DART can take heart from their performance and with improved decision-making in key areas of the pitch they can trouble other teams in the league.

So Team Black head the table after the early exchanges but one thing that we can be sure of is that there will be plenty of thrills and spills in this competition. So if it’s fast and furious rugby you’re after come down to the South Sound Rugby Ground on Saturday 14th April for the next round of the National Touch Rugby Championships 2012. Don’t miss it.

 

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Abdel Hakim Belhaj to sue Diego Garcia commission

| 11/04/2012 | 0 Comments

diego_garcia2.jpg(BBC): A former terror suspect who claims he was tortured after being rendered to Libya in 2004 is suing the UK commission in charge of Diego Garcia. Abdel Hakim Belhaj alleges the aircraft taking him to Libya refuelled at the UK territory, and that its administration was complicit in his illegal rendition. Mr Belhaj is already suing MI6 and the government. Successive governments have denied involvement in such renditions. But the BBC understands Mr Belhaj's rendition had ministerial approval. Mr Belhaj believes he was rendered from Bangkok to Libya by the CIA, and claims that during his more than four years in a Libyan prison he was interrogated by agents from countries including Britain and United States.

He has since worked with Nato as one of the leaders of the forces that helped overthrow Col Muammar Gaddafi and is now a senior military commander in the new Libya.

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Opposition leader in TCI calls for August elections

| 11/04/2012 | 1 Comment

derektaylor.jpg(CNS): The leader of the People's Democratic Movement (PDM) in Turks & Caicos is calling on the British government to hold elections on 1 August this year. Speaking at a recent press conference in the overseas territory, which is currently under the direct rule of the UK, Derek Taylor said it was time that the will of the people be expressed. He said the PDM were ready to lead the people to better times. The former leader of the official opposition said the milestones which the islands’ governor maintains must be met before an election is at the discretion of the UK while the will of the people is not heeded. “This is wrong,” he told the local press.

While he acknowledged the problems facing the Turks and Caicos Islands, he said the PDM was willing to work with all stakeholders to find resolutions. Taylor also noted that when the UK took over the territory, the country was close to its knees but the British had had enough time. “We needed the Interim Administration to prevent a crisis,” Taylor said, adding that now it was time to move on.

He said that justice must take still take its course in relation to the corruption investigations and he said his party had in the past pointed out the shortcomings of the previous regime. Taylor said the PDM has a record of accomplishment and TCI needed a clear path for development in an environment that reflected honestly, accountability and transparency.

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Bush snubs protestors’ pleas

| 11/04/2012 | 38 Comments

alice maecoe.JPG(CNS): The Cayman Islands premier has rejected pleas from campaigners seeking to preserve the West Bay Road to meet him to discuss the planned deal with the Dart Group, describing them as “destructive”. In a short letter to the protestors McKeeva Bush said their views and reasons for objecting to the road closure were repetitions of past misrepresentations and he had other “national priorities” and “urgent community” needs to deal with. He told the activists that the meeting they wanted would come after other government business. Disappointed with the response, representatives from the various community groups said Tuesday that the premier had a duty to listen to the electorate.

In his correspondence to the activists (posted below) Bush said that he would hold another public meeting at some point to give “factual information” to the people who elected him.

Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, representatives from the Concerned Citizens Group, the West Bay Action Committee, Save Cayman and the Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free circulated correspondence between the groups, the premier and the FCO to the media.

Alice Mae Coe, chair of the Concerned Citizens Group, questioned the government’s position of ignoring their objections given the fact that they had collected over 4,000 signatures on the petition against the road closure, more than 2,300 of which were registered voters.

“We have been working for the greater part of a year to try and get government to listen to our concerns about the closure of the West Bay Road, but our concerns continue to fall on deaf ears,” Coe said. Sheadded that the campaign would continue and she was still hopeful that the premier may listen and try to understand what the objections are about and why the campaign is continuing.

Rejecting what the campaigners said was an unfounded allegation, Coe said the groups were not “destructive” and had written back to the premier accusing him of failing to deliver good governance. In the most recent letter they also remind the premier that there are more than 4,000 people supporting the campaign against the road closure, more than half of which are voters.

Mervin Smith, representing Save Cayman, pointed out that as an elected politician, the premier had an obligation to listen to both sides and not just that of the developer. He said when the ForCayman Alliance with Dart was announced there had been no previous discussion in public about whether this was something the people supported or not. Government, he said, simply announced the road was going to close. He reminded Bush that he represented the people of Cayman as well as Mr Dart.

Smith was not as hopeful of a positive response as Coe and said he did not believe that it was likely the premier would “see things our way”, but the campaign would continue.

Despite the fact that an agreement has now been signed between government, Dart and the NRA to begin work on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway into West Bay, which needs to be completed before the more than 4,000 feet of the original road can be closed, Coe said that there were thousands of people ready to stand up and stop the closure if need be.

Smith confirmed that if it came to it they would be prepared to occupy the road. “We will not allow this to happen,” he said as he accused government of trying to sell out Caymanians with an insulting deal.

The activists are holding a meeting Thursday evening at 7:30pm (details below) across from the Foster’s Republic in West Bay to drum up further support for the campaign and to follow on from the recent motorcade.

See correspondence between activists, premier and FCO below.

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