Archive for May 11th, 2012

Home invaders strike in early hours

| 11/05/2012 | 4 Comments

crime-scene-tape.jpg(CNS): Police have now confirmed that they are investigating an aggravated burglary reported to have taken place around 3.00am on 8 May in Northward Road, Bodden Town. An RCIPS spokeperson said that two men broke into a house where they held and threatened the male victim and demanded cash before making off from the scene. Although police did not say if the intruders were armed, other sources tell CNS that the victim was a man in his 60's whom the suspects assaulted while he was sleeping in his bed in order to wake him up and ask for the cash.

Police said that enquiries are ongoing into the home invasion and anyone with information is asked to call Bodden Town police station on 947-2220 or crimestoppers on 800 8477 (TIPS)

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Injured manstill missing

| 11/05/2012 | 6 Comments

Aaron McLaughlin.jpg(CNS): Update Monday 14 May — The RCIPS are still trying to find Aaron McLaughlin because he is injured and refusing medical attention. However, police will not confirm if they believe that the 20-year-old man has been shot. A spokesperson for the police said there are no reports that he was involved in committing any crimes but, from what is known so far, it appears as if he may have been the victim of a crime and they want him to come forward. "He is doing his best to avoid the police and, as such, we are not in a position to get an account from him as to exactly what has happened to him," the RCIPS police spokesperson said Monday.

"We are concerned about his welfare and would ask anyone who knowswhere he is to contact the police on 949-4222. McLaughlin is 5’11” in height, brown complexion and around 150lbs.

At around 5pm Thursday, 10 May, police received a report that he had been injured in an incident which had occurred in the early hours of the morning. McLaughlin, who is known to frequent the George Town and Prospect areas, has been in touch with family via the telephone. However, it is not clear at this stage how serious his injuries are or if he has sought medical attention. Officers are appealing for the assistance of the public in their efforts to trace this man urgently. 

Anyone with information should call George Town police station on 949-4222.

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Robotics team places at international tournament

| 11/05/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman Prep High School’s robotics team made a very respectable showing last weekend at the First Lego League World Invitational tournament. The Cyber Rays were up against a field of 64 teams in Lakeland, FL, where the competition included 5 robot runs, technical evaluation, project presentation, and Core Values interviews. Josh Martin, Michael Boucher, Nick Crawshaw, Ryan Kirkaldy, Drew Milgate, Samantha Smellie and Aideen Teeling earned 2nd overall in the Presentation Award for Effective Communication. The award, placed them at the top of the world rankings and gained international publicity the islands, the team’s mentor said.

Head coach Alison Smith, mentors David Kirkaldy and Jeff Boucher, parents and Sheila Purdom also went along to support the team. Boucher said the Lego League provides incredible opportunities for the young team

“This is more than learning robotics.  These kids learn to think like scientists and engineers, while building interpersonal and presentation skills, and learning about team dynamics, research and time management, fairness and honesty, and over an event like the FLL World Invitational, performing well under immense pressure," he added.

Head Coach Allison Smith added that even if the children do not pursue engineering and science, they have learned to strive for excellence in all that they accomplish.
"We were never sure how far we would get as a rookie team but we were determined to do our best.  I am happy to say that doing our best has proven that we are capable of international success. I am very proud of the growth and development that each team member has demonstrated throughout the season. What we learn will always be more important to us that what we win," she said.

The coaches and mentors said the weekend’s event was the culmination of a “real dream season for the rookie team from Cayman” with important wins at the qualifying event in January, and at the regionals. It was at the Florida State Championship where the team qualified for the World Invitational event.  On every trip the team has promoted the CaymanIslands with prominent display of our flag in all events and handing out Cayman Islands trading pins kindly provided by the Department of Tourism.

The team is already looking forward to the next season of FLL robotics competition which starts in the fall school term and will be centred around the theme of senior citizens entitles "Senior Solutions. Independent. Engaged. Connected."

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Referendum bill passed

| 11/05/2012 | 46 Comments

vote here 2.jpg(CNS): The referendum law was passed on Thursday night, despite the fact that the deputy premier, a Cabinet member, voted against it. The government bill passed without any of the changes proposed by the opposition members. In order for the vote to carry some 7,550 people will need to go to the polls and vote ‘yes ‘on 18 July. Although this is a government and not a people-initiated poll, the UDP administration has opted for the higher threshold for the question to carry. This means 50 per cent of the electorate plus one vote and not a majority of voters who turn out will be required in order to change the country’s voting system, presenting an uphill, if not impossible, battle for the supporters of one man, one vote.

Although a people-initiated referendum would have also required fifty percent of the electorate plus one vote for it to pass, the opposition leader pointed out that under those circumstances government would have been obligated to take a neutral position. At the very least, it would not have been able to use the full weight of the government machinery and resources to campaign full on against the proposal, he observed.

Alden McLaughlin also raised concerns that many civil servants are now  fearful about going to vote since, given the circumstances set by government, the only people who need to go to the polls are those voting ‘Yes’, which could leave them exposed to intimidation. McLaughlin said that despite reassurances from Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, many civil servants are not convinced that they are free to vote their conscience and still fear reprisals, no matter what Manderson has said.

Following a full day’s proceedings in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday to debate the law to facilitate the referendum on one member, one vote and single member constituencies, government refused to accept any changes requested by the opposition or the independent member.

“The government has now completely hi-jacked this process and will be placing its full weight and resources against the question to make sure it fails,” McLaughlin said in the wake of the debate. By emphatically stating its position against one man, one vote and having “polarized the environment”, McLaughlin said things have turned out very differently from what should have been a people’s poll.

He said that Bush had made it virtually impossible for the 'yes' vote to carry. However, the opposition leader said that, regardless of the odds now being well and truly stacked against it, the campaign would go on and no one was giving up. The major battle, he said, would be to try and persuade civil servants to go out and vote, despite what he said was a very real fear that they would suffer the consequences of doing so.

McLaughlin warned that some 1,900 more people would need to come out and vote in this national poll than in Cayman’s very first referendum for the constitution.

“It is important to recognise exactly what Mckeeva Bush has done with this process,” McLaughlin said. “He has done all he can to ensure its failure.”

During the debate in the House, Ezzard Miller also raised his concerns but was optimistic that at least the day had been declared a holiday. He said that by setting the threshold so high, Bush was punishing the people that cared about the political process and who cared about democracy.

By having a majority of electors needed to past the vote and not a majority of turn out, ‘no’ voters could stay home as their vote was now irrelevant, he said. The only thing that would count now was the 8,000 yes voters that were needed, he said as he urged the people to make history by carrying the vote regardless of government’s efforts to prevent the introduction of one man, one vote.

“Be proud to brag to your children and grandchildren that you were one of the 8,000,” Miller said as he called on every registered voter to come out and vote yes.

During the presentation of the bill, Bush denied the accusations about the vote be rigged against a ‘yes’ vote and said government had made it "as fair as possible,” as he launched into a tirade against the principle of single member constituencies.

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George Town cop shop counter re-opens for business

| 11/05/2012 | 1 Comment

police station (245x300).jpg(CNS): Following the closure of George Town police station on Wednesday morning after a fire in the cells an RCIPS spokesperson confirmed that the public counter has reopened for business. The station has reportedly suffered smoke damage in the cell area after the blaze which is currently under investigation. Ten police officers and one teenage prisoner were all hospitalized after the fire and although all of the police personnel have now been released from hospital the young prisoner trapped in the cell remains in the hospital in the critical care unit in a stable condition.

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First cheques cut on ‘saving homes’ initiative

| 11/05/2012 | 24 Comments

bank-foreclosed-homes-in-jamaica.jpg(CNS): Following the premier's announcement that he would use some of the Dart cash advance to help Caymanians who were at risk of losing their homes, the first batch of cheques isabout togo out. More than 70 applications have now been approved for assistance. The committee, established by the premier and now chaired by Rene Moxam, has reportedly considered many applications over the last few weeks and more families are expected to be approved in the coming weeks. The government initiative offers those who are approved an initial payment $12,000 followed by up to three more mortgage payments.

Each applicant can claim a maximum of $20,000 and will be given 50 years to pay back the money. The programme has been funded from cash given to government by the Dart Group in a preliminary investment agreement.

Although the full proposed ForCayman Alliance Investment deal has still not been signed more than a year after it was first announced, an agreement dealing with the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension and the closure of the West Bay Road was signed at the end of last year between the NRA, government and Dart. As part of this pre-agreement deal, which will facilitate the redevelopment of the Courtyard Marriott site into a five star resort, Dart gave government a $5 million advance from a proposed payment of $20 million for community projects. The developer has offered the money to government as part of the future main deal, which involves crown various land swaps and development initiatives.

Government announced earlier this year that the first $5 million would be split equally between education and helping families facing mortgage arrears.

A committee was established in the premier’s ministry, which was originally chaired by Sonia McLaughlin, the chief officer with responsibility for finance. However, the premier stated last Friday that she was removed because the governor “sent the auditor general in and frightened the daylight out of”  the chair of the committee. In his controversial statement released in response to the governor, McKeeva Bush implied that the governor had tried to block the initiative. ”We couldn’t get anything done for months,” he said. “We finally had to change that person as the chair."

Moxam was appointed to chair the committee after McLaughlin stepping down. Other members include Collector of Customs Carlon Powery; Cora Grant-James, Manager of Debt Collection at Royal Bank of Canada; Attorney Steve McField; and Felicia
Galbraith of Cayman National Bank.

According to government officials, only a handfull of applicants have been refused. With around $2.5 million set aside for the scheme, government will be able to assist around 125 applicants in total.

In the face of criticisms that the money was a form of political handout or that it would only serve to prop up irresponsible people, Bush denied the accusations and said the funds would be used only to help those who were most in need and about to have their homes repossessed. He said the critics were out of touch about the harsh reality faced by some people who, through no fault of their own, were about to lose their homes.

“No, we can’t help everyone,” he said. “But this will help some of the most needy ones.”

The premier has also said that the money would be given to the banks and lending institutions that were about to repossess homes and not directly to the individual people involved.

Application form and criteria

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Cop car collides with fence

| 11/05/2012 | 23 Comments

police car.jpg(CNS): The RCIPS have confirmed that a police Suzuki SUV has been involved in a collision with a property off Elgin Avenue in George Town this evening. At around 7:35pm on Thursday the car, which was traveling from Shedden Road towards Elgiin Avenue, collided with fencing at the junction of Elgin Avenue and Louise-Llewelyn Way and drove into the vacant property of number 14 Louise-Llewelyn Way, where it came to a stop, an RCIPS spokesperson said. In what is turning out to be a difficult week for the police, the injured officer was transported by ambulance to the George Town hospital, where she is being treated.

Police said the SUV was damaged, as well as the fencing of the empty building, but stated that the cause of the accident is unknown and the matter is now being investigated.

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