Archive for December 6th, 2012

Marine cops rescue boat that runs out of fuel

| 06/12/2012 | 9 Comments

rescue.JPG(CNS): Less than three hours after the RCIPS circulated a release to the press warning boaters to take more care and be aware of safety issues before heading out to sea, the Joint Marine and Air Operations Units were deployed on another search and rescue after receiving a report around noon on Thursday. A police spokesperson stated that an 18 foot boat which ran out of fuel while sailing between Grand Cayman and Little Cayman sparked the operation in which a the single engine Grady White, with two people on board, had run out of fuel around 28 miles off Grand Cayman.

The Units began searching for the boat in the immediate wake of the report and at around 3.15pm the vessel was located about 22 miles northeast of the main channel. Both crew members were found to be in good health. And the boat was towed back to Grand Cayman by Tornado and was scheduled to arrive back shortly after 5.30 pm.
 

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Thieves steal fuel from generator tanks

| 06/12/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Four men have been arrested by police in connection with around a dozen thefts of diesel on Grand Cayman from generator tanks at a number of cell sites and civic centres. A police spokesperson said Thursday that so far 12 thefts have been reported to them in the past four months and the four arrests were made following three separate incidents. The RCIPS urged the public and business to be extra vigilant following the spate of thefts and to continue reporting any suspicious activity to the police. The police said that the thieves have been stealing the diesel using hand-held or electric pumps to syphon large quantities into portable fuel tanks, usually mounted on the backs of trucks or in enclosed vans.

“We have proactively encouraged owners of cell sites and civic centres to improve or enhance their security measures”, said Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks. "We’re pleased to say that the increased security combined with the extra attention being paid to these locations by the police have resulted in a number of arrests in the past few weeks.”

He urged people to remain on their guard however and asked anyone who sees anything suspicious around cell sites, civic centres, or other locations where generators are kept to call the police.

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100+ drivers netted in 1st week of crackdown

| 06/12/2012 | 20 Comments

_DEW1404.jpg(CNS): The RCIPS arrested seven people on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, fined 15 for using their cell phones while driving, issued 32 tickets for speeding, 36 tickets for other traffic offences and found 22 people not wearing seat belts in just the first six days of the Christmas road safety campaign, ‘Staying Alive’. The officer leading the awareness drive said he was disappointed with the results from the first week (30 November-5 December) and also raised concerns about the number of collisions the RCIPS deals with after police revealed that they received an average of six reports of road crashes every day.

“Road safety is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week priority for the RCIPS”, said Superintendent Adrian Seales. “Throughout the year we issue repeated advisories to drivers to remind them of the steps that they can take to stay safe, and keep others safe, on the roads. The Christmas and New Year season is historically a time when people think more about the on-going festivities than safety – that’s why we launch this important annual public information campaign.  It’s the time of year where people drink more than usual and, instead of taking the sensible options of designating a driver or taking a cab, they drive."

He added that despite the warnings about the zero tolerance approach people were ignoring the cops’ message. “Seven people now face the prospect of losing their licenses for drink driving and dozens more face hefty fines for speeding, not wearing seatbelts and using their cell phones while driving,” the senior cop stated.

“If this blatant disregard for road safety continues then another family may face the prospect of losing a loved one on Cayman’s roads. To each and every driver who ignores the rules of the road, or wrongly believes that when they leave the bar they are sober enough to make good driving decisions, I would pose this question – will that family be yours?”

The Stay Alive road safety drive will continue until Friday 4 January 2013.

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Police carry out over 30 sea-rescue ops in 5 months

| 06/12/2012 | 8 Comments

police boats.jpg(CNS): Officers from the Joint Marine Unit are urging people using the ocean to be more safety conscious when heading out to sea as they revealed that over the past 5 months the Unit has been involved in more than 30 search and rescue operations. Reminding people of the safety precautions they should be taking, Sergeant Clive Smith of the Marine Unit pointed out that sea safety was a major priority for the police but too many people using the water were not taking safety issues seriously. He also warned jet skiers to be more cautious of swimmers and snorkelers.

“Making sure people are safe at sea is a top priority for the Joint Marine Unit,” Sgt Smith said. “But it’s clear that many people fail to take account of the weather conditions before setting off and people are still heading out to sea ill-equipped. We are also starting to receive an increased number of reports about people on jets skis travelling far too close to swimmers and snorkelers. If people don’t start using common sense and adopting the proper safety procedures when they are on the water then I’m afraid it won’t be too long before we have yet another serious incident or fatality.”

Sergeant Smith advised anyone planning on going out to sea to check weather reports and the sea conditions before heading out. He added that at this time of year seas can be rough from cold fronts, especially on the west and north sides of the Island. The marine cop advised people to fill out a Float Plan and inform someone of their intended departure and returning points, including ETA. He also said boaters should ensure that their vessel has a personal life vest for each person on board as well as a working VHF radio and cell phone, flares, a mirror, sufficient fuel, and VRO/engine oil.

The sergeant said that when launching, vessel crews should check that the bung or drain plug has been inserted to avoid sinking.

Once at sea, boaters should obey the Port Authority Law by not exceeding 5 knots within 200 yards of the shore line and 50 yards of any vessel at anchor and to always be on the lookout for any divers, swimmers or snorkellers who may be in the water.

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Court cases falling at first hurdle

| 06/12/2012 | 10 Comments

(CNS): A review of statistics relating to assault charges brought before the Summary Court during 2010 and 2011 reveals more than one fifth fell at the first hurdle, with cases being voluntarily stopped by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions before trials began. In total, almost 62% of the cases over the two year period resulted in defendants being released, leaving the prosecution with a 38% conviction rate in cases of violence. Although 57 people were brought to court by the crown, it elected not to proceed against them for a variety of reasons but mostly down to a lack of evidence. Some legal professionals have said government could face significant compensation claims under Cayman’s new human rights regimen if the authorities persist in bringing unsubstantiated cases before the courts.

A close examination of the statistics relating to just this one type of offence revealed that far more cases fail than succeed and the already strained criminal justice system is being clogged up with defendants who in some cases walk free without ever facing trial as charges were laid even though there was no likelihood of a successful prosecution.

Of the 266 defendants who were charged with Actual Bodily Harm, 101 were convicted but only 25 went to jail; others received lesser punishments, from probation to being bound over for good behaviour.

With the mounting complaints from defence attorneys of the continued delays in receiving the alleged evidence against their clients, the poorly drafted indictments and the constant postponements in the courts, there are concerns that this will be the first area where government will either be going to court to defend human rights claims or paying out compensation that it can ill afford.

“The public should become increasingly concerned about the persistent non-performance of the RCIPS and Office of the DPP in circumstances where there is little or no oversight,” local defence attorney Peter Polack stated in face of what he described as alarming statistics and a dismal conviction rate. “The lives of innocent people are being adversely affected in circumstances where a large part of government revenue is being wasted by persons clearly unfit for their positions of responsibility.”

See statistical review below.

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Marijuana decriminalised in Washington state

| 06/12/2012 | 49 Comments

marijuana_cultivation-786652.jpg(BBC): Possession of marijuana has become legal in the US state of Washington, a month after voters opted for decriminalisation. From midnight (08:00 GMT) anyone aged 21 and over was allowed to carry up to 1oz (28.4g) of cannabis, but smoking it in public will remain illegal. It has been legal for medical use in the state since 1998. A law legalising gay marriage also came into effect in Washington state on Thursday. On 6 November Washington, Maine and Maryland became the first US states to back same-sex marriage in a popular vote, and Washington is the first of those to enact the law. The first same-sex weddings in Washington are expected on Sunday.

Gay marriage is permitted in six states, but those laws were passed by legislators or by courts. 

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Touch and ‘Mo’ at the Rugby Club

| 06/12/2012 | 0 Comments

mo1 (210x300).jpg(CRFU): The latest sporting triumph in the MOVEMBER 2012 series took place at the Cayman Rugby Football Club last Saturday as teams took to the field for the inaugural MOvember Corporate Touch Rugby Tournament. The tournament was organised by the CRFU and the money raised was their donation to MOvember Cayman 2012. MOvember is an annual charity event held in November with the aim of creating awareness and raising money for men’s health and prostate cancer. By growing a moustache for the whole month, guys or “MO Bros” as they are also known, raise money for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.

The emphasis of the whole day was to have fun whilst raising cash for the ‘tash'.

Everyone participating agreed that both objectives were admirably achieved on the day. The last time this many moustaches were seen on the South Sound pitch was probably back in the mid-70’s when a chap sporting a fine ‘tash was considered quite the man-about-town. Those not growing a moustache for the whole month showed their support by taking a marker pen to their upper lip to draw on some pretty fancy MO’s and the women players joined in the fun and wore some fan’tash-tic efforts too. It was generally agreed that the Best Moustache of the Day went to Steve “the Baker” Henshaw who had shaved a wonderful Victorian-style handlebar MO much to the amusement of players and crowd alike.

This was not a normal touch rugby tournament by any stretch of the imagination as, in addition to their performance on the pitch, teams could gain extra points from the “handicap” system. With the aim of making the day as lighthearted and inclusive as possible, bonus points could be earned for having players on their roster with little or no previous experience of touch rugby, and also by availing themselves of the many and varied refreshments available on the day. Teams could even play their “MO’joker card” to try and get double points for a win on the pitch.

In total, thirteen teams resplendent in pink or yellow shirts adorned with a big MOvember moustache, took to the pitch in the morning and 35 games later one emerged triumphant. In between there were a lot of thrills and a few spills, or should I say spillages.

Pool 1 saw Walkers, HarMOnic MO’HO’s, Appleby, and BDO Cayman Ltd battle it out and it was BDO with their inexperienced but enthusiastic team that took top spot largely thanks to a great 4-0 win over HarMOnic.

In Pool 2, “Maples MO’ples”, Maples’ No Woman No Try (NWNT), DART and Queensgate vied for top standing. It was NWNT which took the spoils with three wins out of three.

In Pool 3, Fidelity MO’ving On Up, PwC, Genesis MO’joless, The Centurions, and MCS competed for the honours. Genesis MO’joless brought almost the perfect blend of touch rugby experience, seasoned party animals, and rookies to the game. They won the Pool and were also the only team to play their MO’Joker Card and win the double bonus points. The Centurions decided to leave their Roman armour at home and played all four of their games in a bit of a haze being driven back by the barbarian hordes in their pool group.

Mind you, the deadly dynamic duo of Justin Crighton and Damon Paynter made valiant efforts for their team as they probed hard all day to score. Never mind lads, there’s always next time!

If it sounds a bit chaotic then at the eye of the storm were the matchday co-ordinators, Karen Southway and Fiona Currie, two wonderful Celtic lasses who kept the whole day running smoother than Barry White drinking single malt in a silk kimono on a hover-rail. Thanks also to Boss Hogg Ltd who provided lunches for all and was invaluable inthe set-up of the tournament.

In the second round of matches, every team played again to determine which would go into the quarter finals. It was simply down to who had the chops on the pitch to score the tries to win. The rigors of competing in the more “social” aspects of the tournament earlier in the day clearly had an effect on some teams and there were some notable mismatches.

As teams progressed to the semi-finals it paired two of the favourites, NWNT and Fidelity. It was a tough match to referee and Stuart Geddes did a great job even though he seemed a bit confused as to where the lines were at times and at one point he even asked the crowd for a “thumbs-up-thumbs-down” verdict on a try – unconventional but totally in keeping with the enjoyment of the day. The eventual result was 5-4 to NWNT after a drop-off in added time.

In the second semi-final Walkers played DART, securing a narrow 1-0 win in a very tight match.

The final turned into a one sided affair with NWNT coming out 4-0 winners over Walkers. Both teams celebrated at the end for a day well and truly done. The resultwas largely inconsequential though because at the end of the day it was MOvember who came out as the real winners with over $4000 raised for the Cancer Society. Raising money for charity doesn’t have to be hard work and thanks to the CRFU’s Caroline Deegan, Heineken and all the teams and sponsors participating, this day was truly MO’vellous. We can’t wait ‘til next year.

 

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UK prioritises environment

| 06/12/2012 | 41 Comments

bulldozer.JPGCNS): The British government appears to be placing increasing significance on the environment within its overseas territories and said in the communiqué released after this week’s Joint Ministerial Council that it wants to see environmental considerations at the heart of policy and decision making. The fact that the environment is listed second in the priority issues that the UK government and the territory leaders agreed indicates that the Cayman government may not be able to ignore the pressing issue of the National Conservation Law for much longer. The leaders have agreed that wherever natural resources are used commercially it is done so responsibly through the use of environmental impact assessments and evidence-based management plans.

The communiqué and the comments made by Dr Peter Hayes, the new overseas territories director, when he was in Cayman last week, indicate that government may soon be forced to pass environmental laws.

In the agreement the UK says it recognises that the territories are home to many species and environments found nowhere else in the world and that sustainable economic growth and livelihoods within the territories depend on the responsible stewardship of these natural resources. Given the importance that the British government is now placing on the environment, it is offering support and assistance to the territories to help them better manage natural resources.

“Territory Governments recognise their responsibilities for the sustainable management of the natural environment and the need to put environmental considerations at the heart of policy and decision making. The UK recognises the supportive role that it can play with Territory Governments to help make this shared agenda a reality, in cooperation with NGOs, the private sector and other stakeholders."

The need for a National Conservation Law for the Cayman Islands and legally enforceable protections for the county’s unique flora and fauna has been mounting for more than a decade but no government has had the political will to push through the necessary legislation as a result of persistent anti-legislation lobbying from special interest groups.

However, as Cayman has agreed to the latest commitments with the UK, the pressure is mounting for the government to act to protect the environment. As Cayman faces planning applications for two major developments in East End, neither of which are undertaking environmental impact assessments, the need to legislate for the environment to be considered equally alongside social and economic issues on planning applications is more pressing than ever.

According to the communiqué, the territories and the UK have agreed to a number of environmental issues relevant to the different territories, from the development of sustainable fishing to incentives that will encourage private sector investment in renewable energy.

On of the agreed priority actions is for “a more strategic approach to the management, protection and conservation of the natural environment, including embedding that understanding into Government policies and decision-making”; and also “to ensure that where commercial use of natural resources takes place, it is carried out in the most sustainable and environmentally responsible way, including through the use of environmental impact assessments, evidence based management plans, and protection of important areas.”

The agreement calls for governments to implement Environment Charters and to work towards the full implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements where these have been extended to the territories. The UK has, in turn, agreed to strengthen the way it represents the territories' interests in relevant international fora and to identify and share best practice.

Despite widespread public support for the National Conservation Law the legislation has failed to reach the floor of the Legislative Assembly. The UDP government was elected to office promising to pass the bill early in its term. However, despite several rounds of further consultation on the legislation and the watering down of the law to make it palatable for special interest groups, the minister is still ignoring this area of his responsibility and has stated that it is not a priority.

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The fatal flaw of our government

| 06/12/2012 | 93 Comments

Our country is on a course to disaster. Political partisanship has divided us, crushed our economy, and bullied us all into feeling like we’ve lost the voice that allows us to hold our leaders accountable. This political partisanship is a result of our governments making decisions primarily for the benefit of their own parties, their party leaders, or special interest groups that support their parties rather than making decisions that are best for the people of our country as a whole.

There are many reasons why the party system has not worked well in Cayman – but the fatal flaw of our system is the fact that there are only two parties represented in government. So the party that elects the majority of members is given free rein to run the government without any checks or balances – and the members of the opposing party become irrelevant.

Under this system, our “two-party system” becomes a partisan dictatorship. Our premier and the majority party can propose radical policies – like new taxes to pay for their financial indiscretions – and the opposing party, or everyday citizens, are helpless in their opposition.

There has to be a better way of running our country. There must be a system of checks and balances that will force party leaders to justify their policies and decisions, build consensus outside of their own political allies, and be accountable for their actions at all times, not just on Election Day.

Holding government and all elected representatives accountable is the major driver in the creation of Coalition for Cayman. The public awareness efforts of C4C will help build the necessary national awareness about the need for less partisanship. But more importantly, C4C fills a critical void in reinforcing the vital role independent representatives play in bringing balance to our government and making sure that our leaders are putting the country and its people before politics.

So much is at stake in next year’s elections, and the political parties will do anything – say anything – to discredit the threat that C4C poses to their power.

Often a political party’s single goal is to take control (or maintain control) of the government for their own benefit, because anything short of that will leave them powerless and in their minds without a voice. Despite their most desperate messages, the current state of our country’s affairs speaks to the dangers of giving any one party too much control. We have seen the evidence of this over the last decade. 

Under both parties leadership, our country has incurred record debt – in fact, today every citizen of Cayman is responsible for $30,000 of our country’s national debt. Without checks and balances offered by independent leaders in our LA, the UDP has nearly spent our country into bankruptcy, and their excessive borrowing has forced us into noncompliance with our country’s public finance laws – creating an unnecessarily tense relationship with the UK.

Ironically, the UDP blames decisions made under PPM’s watch for the Cayman national debt – but the fact is both parties are responsible. Under a two-party system that lacks proper checks and balances, over the past decade the country’s national debt has increased more than 500%. And as a result, hardworking Caymanians are left to pay the price. Our citizens and small businesses are strapped with higher fees, and the higher cost of doing business has reduced the number of good-paying jobs. Higher debt has led to reduced government services, concerns over meeting future pension obligations, and the simple fact that right now our Country cannot afford even the most basic of infrastructure needs.

The simple truth is that unbridled party politics has contributed to a lower standard of living for every Caymanian and residents alike.

We can debate political philosophy, refute inaccuracies, and talk in theory all day long, but there is no denying that the current state of our government is dismal, and it is the result of a decade of free rein by both parties. And if we don’t change things now, we will lose our country forever.

The purpose of C4C is to bring an end to the divisive party system. We seek to endorse independent minded and objective candidates who will unite in the best interests of the country, behind good ideas, provide checks and balances that will stall bad policy, restore the concept of working together through consensus and to make sure that our leaders are accountable. Leaders who will always serve the best interest of our citizens and our country.

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