Archive for June 7th, 2012

CIFA issues bans and warnings over referee abuse

| 07/06/2012 | 9 Comments

rooney.jpg(CNS): Misconduct by players, coaching staff and fans has raised concerns and led the Cayman Islands Football Association Disciplinary Committee to issue a number of bans this season to individuals from three different local league teams. CIFA officials said that bans have been handed out to several players and four team staff, ranging from 6 months to two years and one player has been banned for life following an assault on a referee during a game in which he was struck in the head. The committee chair has issued a stern warning over the need to improve conduct following mounting complaints of verbal and discriminatory abuse suffered by referees and officials.

The incidents have occurred during various CIFA league matches this season and Richard Barton, the Disciplinary Committee chair, said it was regrettable but as a result of the poor conduct of not just players but team officials as well, it had become necessary for the committee to make its concerns public.

“The frequency at which verbal, and in at least one case, physical, abuse has been hurled at referees can only be described as a complete lack of regard for the integrity of the sport. Such lack of regard is further evidenced by the mounting caseload of incidents amongst players, the vast majority of which involve racial and discriminatory verbal abuse in addition to violent conduct,” Barton said in a statement released Thursday.

“What now appears to be an emerging theme of insolence and an attempt by certain repeat offenders who seemingly strive to bring the sport of football into disrepute will strictly not be tolerated. The DC has had to resort to the extreme measures, including imposing lifetime banson certain players in our efforts to reverse this unfortunate trend within the various leagues,” the chair added.

He said that team officials as well as members of the football clubs should remember that the ability to play football is a privilege and not a right and playing carries a “high standard of responsibility which must at all times be assumed and exhibited by its beneficiaries,” Barton stated.

“As Chairman of the DC I implore club managers and sponsors to give due consideration to these concerns and to be more discerning in their team selection process, which extends beyond the players on the pitch. This is a stern caution to all participating in the sport that the DC will take all the necessary action that is prescribed within the scope of its authority to radiate this disturbing occurrence,” the chair warned.

Although the committee has at present refrained from publicly naming and shaming the individuals involved in the abuse, Barton warned it was an action that remained open to them should the abuse and poor conduct continue.

The warning comes in the wake of the historic appointment of a Cayman Islands’ football official to the top FIFA post in the region. Jeff Webb’s election as president of CONCACAF will see the spotlight turned on Cayman when it comes to football in the Americas. As a result the conduct of local players, coaches and others involved in the game is even more significant.

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Former cop acted as debt collector

| 07/06/2012 | 34 Comments

court good.jpg(CNS): A former RCIPS officer, who has since left the Cayman Islands, was described by a magistrate as acting as an “unregulated private debt collector while clothed in the authority of a police officer” when he threatened a woman with arrest if she did not make payments in a theft case. Last month Magistrate Valdis Foldats threw out a theft case against Kerry Horek as a result of the behaviour of the Financial Crimes Unit officer in the case. The magistrate found that the police officer had assisted the complainant to reach an unlawful agreement with the defendant, delaying a prosecution for theft as well as committing the offence of ‘compounding’ by attempting to extract payment from the accused woman for the missing funds.

Horek, a former partner at Island Rental Services, was accused of dishonestly appropriating rental payments of over $22,000 made by tenants for one of the firm’s landlords. Horek, who has since lost her business, had contended that the theft was committed by an employee of the company, who stole other funds as well and was the cause of the rental firm’s demise. However, as the main partner she had accepted culpability for the loss incurred by the landlord and had been attempting to come to some agreement with the victim to repay the missing money.

As events unfolded, Horek said she was harassed by DC Richard Clarke from the Financial Crimes Unit (FCU) into making payments to the landlord under threat of arrest, before she was able to negotiate an appropriate payment plan that she could afford. As a result, she was struggling to meet payments beyond the first $5,400 before getting into difficulties, at which point Clarke arrested her.

During the Summary Court trial the officer admitted that he had brokered a deal between Horek and the landlord as he believed the complainant was only interested in getting back the stolen cash. Clarke testified that facilitating the agreement was the easiest way for the complainant to get that money back rather than go through a court process. The officer admitted that he did not consult with his superiors or obtain any legal advice before embarking on this course of action and the magistrate said that Clarke did not appear to have an understanding of the offence of 'compounding'.

Furthermore, after he had arrested Horek he entered into an agreement himself with the defendant for her to sell his own condo. After the sale was completed he then filed charges against Horek.

In his ruling as to whether he should stay the summary trial on the grounds that to allow it to continue would be to condone the abuse of process committed by the officer, Foldats noted that without oversight, advice or directions from a superior officer, Clarke assisted the landlord to reach an unlawful agreement with the defendant. Foldats added that the investigating officer had taken what he called “an active, aggressive and partisan” part in trying to get money for the landlord.

“In essence, he was acting as an unregulated private debt collector while clothed in the authority of a police officer, pressuring the defendant to make payments under threat of arrest. The investigating officer's actions, although perhaps unwitting (in the sense that he was unaware of the offence of compounding), were certainly unlawful. In essence, he facilitated the commission of an offence,” Magistrate Foldats stated.

“It is this unlawful conduct that offends the court's sense of justice and propriety,” the magistrate added as he threw the case out.

The officer’s role as a debt collector had also been previously highlighted by a senior officers in the RCIPS before Horek had been arrested. She told CNS that she had complained to the police about Clarke’s harassment and in an email correspondence a senior officer had described Clarke’s actions in similar terms to the magistrate, and believed that Horek’s case was a civil not criminal matter.

Asking officers in the FCU to address the complaint, Superintendent Kurt Walton wrote to officers about the harassment over the payment plan and the threats of arrest. “It would seem to me that this became a civil matter at some point for which the RCIPS are now performing a debt collector's role,” Walton wrote, as he asked the FCU to look into the issue.

Horek said she believes the officer at the FCU did not follow Walton’s instructions and as a result she was arrested and embroiled in a protracted criminal case, which involved her having to attend court on 30 separate occasions until it was finally thrown out by the magistrate last month.

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Event to showcase Cayman’s athletic talent

| 07/06/2012 | 0 Comments

(CIAA):  The 2012 National Track & Field Championships of the Cayman Islands Athletic Association will be held on Friday June 15th starting at 6pm and Saturday June 16th starting at 9am at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. The Meet is opened to all schools, clubs and individuals, and will showcase many of the islands best athletic talents. It will also serve as a qualifier for athletes preparing for upcoming regional and international competitions in the youth, junior and senior categories.Events being contested are:  100m Hurdles, 110m Hurdles, 80m, 100m, 150m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 3000m, Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump, Shot Put, Discus, Javelin and Ball Throw.

Age groups eligible to compete are: 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17 and over.

Registration forms are available on or by contacting Liz Ibeh 925-4763, Coach Williams at 925-1943, Coach Yen at 925-6917 or Coach Wason at 916-6966.  Forms will also be available at Schools P.E. Departments.  Completed registration forms should be returned to any of the above persons or emailed to Registration closes on Tuesday June 12th.

See schedule and registraiton form attached

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Blu-tack banned in window explosion scare

| 07/06/2012 | 0 Comments

pack_today.jpg(Daily Telegraph): Pupils and teachers were banned from sticking their art work to windows with Blu-Tack by school health and safety officials claiming it could cause the glass to explode. he officials claimed that the sticky blue substance could combine with a chemical in the window to make glass shatter. They ordered all artwork to be removed from the windows. But the demand was debunked by the Government's new Myth Busters Challenge Panel – and the edict reversed. The panel, set up to probe over enthusiastic use of health and safety laws, checked the claim with Blu-tack's maker Bostik and were satisfied it was safe.

The Myth Busters told the private firm that runs the primary school in Perth and Kinross, Perthshire to remove the ban.

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Disney channel to ban junk food ads

| 07/06/2012 | 0 Comments

junkfoodban (249x300).jpg(Bloomberg): Walt Disney Co. (DIS), aiming to combat childhood obesity by banning junk-food ads, will require that food and beverage advertising to kids on its TV networks and radio stations meet new nutritional standards by 2015.The guidelines, which follow federal recommendations, are designed to promote fruits and vegetables, limit calories, and curb the intake of saturated fat, salt and sugar, Burbank, California-based Disney said in a statement. By the end of this year, food products will begin bearing the “Mickey Check” logo, signaling that they meet the standards.

The effort, expands on Disney’s adoption of nutritional guidelines in 2006. Disney is the world’s largest entertainment company, with holdings that include film studios, theme parks, radio stations and the ABC broadcast network. The company’s media networks generated $7.6 billion in advertising revenue in its most recent fiscal year, an increase of 8 percent.

The guidelines give specific standards. Breakfast cereals, for example, should have no more than 130 calories and fewer than 10 grams of sugar per ounce.
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UN sends warning ahead of Rio summit

| 07/06/2012 | 1 Comment

desertification.jpg(Reuters): Population growth, urbanisation and consumption are set to inflict irreversible damage on the planet, the United Nations said on Wednesday, and called for urgent agreement on new green targets to save the environment. The U.N. Environment Programme sounded the alarm in its fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) report, published two weeks before the Rio+20 summit in Brazil, one of the biggest environment meetings in years. Time was running very short, U.N. Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, as the planet heads for 9 billion people by 2050 and the global economy consumes ever larger amounts of natural resources.

"If current trends continue, if current patterns of production and consumption of natural resources prevail and cannot be reversed and 'decoupled', then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation," Steiner said in a statement.
Of the 90 most important environmental goals in existence, only four are making significant progress.

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Public should be concerned

| 07/06/2012 | 167 Comments

swarbrick.jpg(CNS): The auditor general has said that the public needs to be concerned about how government is spending and managing public money. Following the release of another report highlighting continued weaknesses in how government looks after the public purse, Alastair Swarbrick said government has a duty to have proper stewardship over public finances and the people need to pay attention to how their money is being managed. Ahead of several more reports expected over the next two months, the auditor general encouraged the public to pay close attention to how its money was being looked after.

“I think the public should be concerned about these issues. It is their money at the end of the day, however it is collected and whatever coercive revenues it is incurred through,” Swarbrick said Tuesday, as he published his latest report revealing continued risks of abuse of the government’s fuel card system GASBOY.

“They should be looking for the government to get as much value as possible from that money,” the auditor general said, referring to public coffers. “It should be directed at appropriate things, the right things and not used for inappropriate activities. It should be of very significant concern to the public if there is a risk of potential abuse of the system.”

Swarbrick said his reports were not about “picking on” or “harassing” government but it was his job to hold government to account for its use of public funds.

“We want to help government move forward and improve but at the end of the day my ultimate goal is to hold them to account to the Legislative Assembly and there unto the public. The government has a responsibility to have effective proper stewardship of those funds. It is public money, not their money, and they have the responsibility to use that money appropriately in line with good principles."

He said that it was the controls in place that would prevent the system from being abused. A common theme in most of Swarbrick’s and his predecessor’s reports is the failure of leadership in government to oversee and control systems relating to how money is spent.

The audit office is one of the few checks and balances on how government spends the half billion dollars it collects from the people each year but Swarbrick also pointed to the work of the internal audit unit.

This department also examines weaknesses and vulnerability to fraud, abuse or mismanagement in public spending, which he said should be utilised by public service management. He said the unit’s findings were a useful tool to identify potential weaknesses and point to ways things could be improved, but government is not making good use of that tool.

The internal audit unit does not regularly publish its audits, though it has released some under Freedom of information requests. Their work often only comes to light as a result of the auditor general taking up the unit's findings.

With serious weaknesses and potential fraud and abuse by government being revealed in the last three reports, the next report on how government deals with capital projects is also likely to reveal further failings.

Swarbrick said that in the next report due at the end of this month his office has used the school projects and the new government building as case studies to measure how well government deals with major public sector developments.

Following that the office will be releasing the first two of four reports examining government spending in general which will examine more closely what are believed to be widespread weaknesses and vulnerabilities across the entire public sector. 

The auditor is also hoping to publish an update on public sector financial reporting and details on where government is on the promised consolidated accounts for the 2010/11 financial year.

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