Archive for July 29th, 2013

LIME repairing cable failure

LIME repairing cable failure

| 29/07/2013 | 53 Comments

(CNS) Updated 6pm: LIME customers may have problems with internet and phone services following a failure early yesterday on their submarine cable system that runs north and south out of the Cayman Islands, the local telecommunications company said. LIME is working on repairs but said that 34% of the Cayman international circuits are still down. Customers will likely experience difficulties throughout the day when calling internationally, and inbound calls will also be impacted. LIME said that customers may also experience intermittent failures with international dialing and roaming customers may encounter call issues. Michael Edenholm, CEO of Logic, told CNS Monday evening that Logic TV and internet customers were not experiencing outages due to the MAYA-1 cable failure. 

LIME has also confirmed that, contrary to an earlier statement in which the company said that other carriers had issues with international capacity, Logic customers were not experiencing any issues with voice or data traffic, as a result of having restoration arrangements.

In their initial release, LIME said that in the early morning of Sunday 28 July, at approximately 6am, a failure occurred on the MAYA-1 Cable System, which is a submarine cable system that runs north and south out of the Cayman Islands. It is this system that provides internet and international capacity for LIME Cayman Islands, LIME Jamaica and LIME Turks and Caicos.

LIME’s initial findings are that the Maya-1 Cable System has suffered a shunt fault at on Segment 6, which is located between Half Moon Bay (Cable station) and Repeater 1 (Line Amplifier) in Cayman. The failure is preventing the local power feeding units from reaching their operating output levels and forcing them into shutdown mode despite numerous attempts to restore them. This first repeater is some 47km out to sea, and at this stage there is no definitive information on the exact location of the impairment that is causing the shunt fault so LIME’s team is continuing to work with local resources,suppliers and the other MAYA landing stations on this matter.

As no damage on the "Land Segment" of the system has been found, LIME said the team has now turned their efforts to more closely examining the shore-end of the cable system. These activities are now underway with divers familiar with the cable-landing, making the necessary preparations to conduct this detailed survey. The divers are expected to specifically identify any possible impairments that may be of concerns and potentially leading to this outage. 

LIME took steps yesterday to restore as much traffic as possible to go via the Cayman Jamaica Fibre system. At the moment traffic has been activated where capacity is available and operators have prior agreements.

Detailing current customer impact, the company said that internet customers (ADSL and Mobile data) may experience degradation of internet service; customers may also experience intermittent failures with international dialing; customers of Logic and West Star will experience issues with the international capacity; and roaming customers may encounter call issues. 34% of the Cayman international circuits are still down. Customers will likely experience difficulties throughout the day when calling internationally.  Inbound calls will also be impacted.

In addition to the ongoing inspections, LIME has also taken the preliminary step of advising a cable repair ship as a member of the Atlantic Cable Maintenance Agreement body (ACMA), effectively placing them on standby in the event the fault is proven to be at sea. 

Lastly, LIME is also working with the MAYA Consortium to reconfigure the system in an attempt to power-feed the cable from Miami. This is a complex process that will require a complete system outage and will be attempted starting at mid-night, Tuesday 0000. At this stage the Cayman traffic is down, but LIME stressed that MAYA traffic between the Americas (not destined for Cayman) is still working, however this reconfiguration will force a full system outage.

LIME GM Tony Ritch stated, “This is obviously a major outage for the country, and we apoligize for this protracted downtime and impact to consumers and businesses.  Regrettably given the complexity of this system, it is taking quite some time to identify the fault.  At this stage we are expecting the system configuration changes that will commence in a few hours to yield positive results and restore the traffic. Our local team is also working diligently to re-route traffic where possible to minimize the impact.  As more information becomes available, LIME will provide updates to the media and via various channels including text alerts to the wider base.”

He concluded, “Until we are able to conduct some additional tests (in the early hours of Tuesday morning) once the entire system is off-line, we may not be able to definitively identify the likely location of a possible cable fault.  Unfortunately, LIME will not be able to offer any additional details on the likely restoration time-frame until more information becomes available.”

The Information and Communication Technology Authority (ICTA) and the Ministry of Planning, Lands, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure (PLAHI) have been kept informed of all developments, LIME said.

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275 poached conch recovered by DoE

275 poached conch recovered by DoE

| 29/07/2013 | 52 Comments

(CNS): Over the last month four poachers have been arrested in connection with two separate incidents, one involving 156 conch and one 119 conch illegally taken from a protected zone, and the Department of Environment (DoE) is warning that anyone who takes conch from Cayman’s waters or purchases conch taken from Cayman waters between the beginning of May and the end of October is doing so illegally. Reminding restaurants that it is illegal to purchase local conch in the off-season, the DoE said that poaching and illegal sales threaten the conch population.

Two poachers were arrested in each of the two incidents, and both incidents are still under investigation, according to DoE Chief Enforcement Officer Mark Orr.

In a release Monday, the department said that it takes poaching and buying poached conch seriously, and anyone caught with poached conch is liable to face serious charges under the law.

During open season, which runs from 1 November to 30 April, the daily limit is five. These restrictions are in place because the Cayman Islands conch population, while sufficient for limited personal consumption within the law, cannot support a commercial fishery.

‘We understand that many people are without work due to the downturn in the economy, but that is not an excuse to destroy the balance of our natural environment by stealing,” said Orr. ‘We must be vigilant because at this rate, our children and grand-children will not have the luxury of diving for conch, or enjoying a delicious conch meal in open season, because there simply won’t be enough left.”

Referring to the poaching incidents, he said, “In both cases they had other illegally taken marine life as well and in one case the offenders kept some of the more attractive conch shells, perhaps for sale to tourists,” said Orr. “Everyone has an obligation to obey the law and I hope that individuals and local businesses will assist us in reporting this kind of illegal activity.”

Illegal catches that are seized and confiscated by the DoE are donated to the Pines or the Pink Ladies who provide receipts that are later presented to the courts as evidence of the proper disposal of the perishable seafood.

The Department encourages the public to report any suspicious activity by calling 911, Mark Orr on 916-4271, or the DoE on 949-8469.

Copies of the Marine Conservation rules are available online here, from the DoE or in the ‘Government Blue Pages’ of the telephone directory.

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Pope Francis: “Who am I to judge a gay person?”

Pope Francis: “Who am I to judge a gay person?”

| 29/07/2013 | 85 Comments

(CNS): Pope Francis has softened the Vatican's attitudes to homosexuality but affirmed its resistance to female priests. While taking questions from reporters on the plane back to Rome from Brazil last week, the Pope was asked how he would respond to learning that a cleric in his ranks was gay, though not sexually active. "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" he said in Italian. "You can't marginalise these people." Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, formally barred men with what the Vatican deemed "deep-seated" homosexuality from entering the priesthood.

But Pope Francis said gay clergymen should be forgiven. When someone sins and confesses, he said, God not only forgives but forgets. "We don't have the right to not forget," he said.

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well," Pope Francis said in a wide-ranging interview with Vatican journalists. "It says they should not be marginalised because of this but that they must be integrated into society."

The pontiff also addressed the question of the Vatican's reported "gay lobby", saying he hasn’t run into significant resistance to reform inside the Vatican, and joked that if there really is a “gay lobby” he hasn’t yet seen it stamped on anyone’s ID cards. However, he condemned lobbies in general.

"The problem is not having this orientation," he said. "We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem."

Asked about Italian media reports suggesting that a group within the church tried to blackmail fellow church officials with evidence of their homosexual activities, the Pope stressed that Catholic teaching calls for homosexuals to be treated with dignity but it was something else entirely to conspire to use private information for blackmail or to exert pressure.

Francis was responding to reports that a trusted aide was involved in an alleged gay tryst a decade ago. He said he investigated the allegations according to canon law and found nothing to back them up. But he took journalists to task for reporting on the matter, saying the allegations concerned matters of sin, not crimes like sexually abusing children.

On the role of women in the Church, he said: "We cannot limit the role of women in the Church to altar girls or the president of a charity, there must be more. "But with regards to the ordination of women, the Church has spoken and says no … That door is closed."

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Barcadere wins annual construction design award

Barcadere wins annual construction design award

| 29/07/2013 | 22 Comments

(CNS): The Barcadere Marina in George Town was the winner of this year’s Governor’s Award for Design and Construction Excellence and also won the special award for sustainability. Designed inside and out by local architectural firm Chalmers Gibbs and owned by The Barcadere Ltd, the new marina sits on a site where the oldest documented landing dock in the George Town area appeared on maps in the early 1700s. It eventually became known for its sea turtle pens, or “turtle crawls”, where schooners would deliver their catch. Today, it is home to a modern, mixed-use, environmentally friendly marina, which won the award from a shortlist that included Kirk Harbour Centre in George Town and the West Bay Office Building. 

The other six nominations were: Appleby Tower, George Town; the George Town Library; Mayfair House, Britannia Estates; 94 Solaris Building, Camana Bay; Willow House, Cricket Square, George Town; and Spanish Colonial Revival House, Yacht Club.

Norman Bodden, Jim Scott and Natalie Urquhart sat on the judges panel with Gary Benham of the Governor’s Office; Jacqueline Bleicher, the president of  the Cayman Society of Architects, Surveyors & Engineers; and Heber Arch, the president of the Cayman Contractors Association.

With Chalmers Gibbs as the architects, the general contractor for the fuel station, changing rooms and Scot Marine Building was Arch and Godfrey (Cayman) Ltd, while Phoenix Construction built the George Town Yacht Club and the swimming pool.

Announcing the winner at a special dinner at Government House Thursday evening, Governor Duncan Taylor said the winner had emerged as the stand out entry from a very strong field.

“The Marina offers a new world class, sustainable facility which offers a fabulous Caymanian experience for residents and visitors alike,”  Taylor said. “I was impressed with the way that sustainability was built in to the design briefs for all of this year’s entries.  The Marina project has an impressive and innovative approach to sustainability.”

The Barcadere covers 20 acres around an existing marina on the Southwestern shore of Grand Cayman’s North Sound. The marina first opened in 2009 but it is only recently that it began to take shape as a fully developed facility with the opening of the George Town Yacht Club, restaurant, and bar in February this year. This also includes a dip pool and “beach” area along with a private members lounge upstairs, with stunning views out over the North Sound.

The term "barcadere" has been used by Caymanians for centuries and is an adaptation of the French “débarcadère” meaning a “landing place” for boats and the Spanish words “embarcadero” or “embarcado” meaning “a place to from which to embark or disembark on a nautical voyage.

Barcaderes, or landing places, were once all around the coast to facilitate the launching and retrieval of vessels with relative ease as the islands seafaring industry developed. The term eventually fell into disuse, as did most ofthe sites over the years, but at one time or another every single district had at least one.

The site of the new development was also Grand Cayman’s first airport when the Converted navy PBY “Catalina” seaplanes would land on the water and tiny skiffs would collect the passengers from the seaplane’s anchorage.

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Cops catch burglary suspect

Cops catch burglary suspect

| 29/07/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The burglary suspect who was chopped in the head with a machete by a homeowner as he entered a house in Sandy Ground Road, Savannah, last Thursday has been arrested and is in police custody. The 28-year-old man was arrested in the George Town area late Sunday night and was immediately conveyed under police guard to the Cayman Islands Hospital, where he received treatment for his injuries. He is now in custody at George Town police station on suspicion of burglary. At about 11:30 on 25 July, a green Honda car with three men inside approached the house. One of the men left the car, broke a window of the house and then entered the building. However, the householder was home and he confronted the suspect and struck him with a machete.

All three men were said to have dark skin and were wearing ‘construction attire’. 

anyone with information on this incident is asked to call the Bodden Town police station 947-2220, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777, or Crime Stoppers on  800-8477 (TIPS).

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Court of Appeal returns to major criminal cases

Court of Appeal returns to major criminal cases

| 29/07/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following a week dealing with financial and civil cases, the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal will hear some serious criminal appeals on conviction and sentences this week and the crown’s appeal against the acquittal of Devon Anglin for the murder of 4- year-old Jeremiah Barnes in February  2010. The director of public prosecutions (DPP) is hoping for a retrial in the case, which was tried by judge alone in August 2011. The appeal has been listed during several of the appeal courts session but problems with attorneys in the case have led to its postponement. However, during the last CICA session the panel of judges made it clear that there would be no further adjournments and that the case would be heard this time.

The judges set aside two days for the appeal, which starts Tuesday. Today the appeals court is scheduled to hear appeals on convictions and sentences in five other criminal cases, including firearms convictions, rape, sexual assault and a case of assault by former police officer Rabe Welcome, who has remained on bail since his conviction for wounding after he broke the arm of Adolphus Myrie as he executed an arrest while off duty in 2009.

The appeals court will be sitting from 10am in Court 2.

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West Bay 4 say CIG stalling

West Bay 4 say CIG stalling

| 29/07/2013 | 69 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands government is stalling in its attempt to throw out the legal action by four local women opposing the closure of the West Bay Road, the ladies claimed Friday. The lawyer representing them said that the strike out application, which was withdrawn on Thursday, was misconceived in the first place, as it claimed that the plaintiffs had no cause of action. Attorney Irvin Banks said the crowns lawyers had implied that the women's action was an abuse of the process of the court without evidence other than the statement of claim itself in support of their application, he said this mistaken position served to delay the case while the former Cabinet proceeded to close the road.

The four West Bay ladies, Alice Mae Coe, Annie Multon, Ezmie Smith and Betty Ebanks, the plaintiffs in the case, also revealed that they have not yet received a response to a letter they set to government in March asking why the previous minority Cabinet gazetted that closure despite the court action.

Following their first victory last week, when the office of the attorney general halted its attempts to have the action thrown out and the case was set for trial, the women revealed that they are still waiting for an answer to a letter sent in March asking why the government and the National Roads Authority (NRA) had proceeded, even though the action alleges serious irregularities with the whole agreement signed by former premier McKeeva Bush in December 2011.

According to Banks, the controversial ‘NRA agreement’, which was meant to be part of a wider deal with the Dart group known as the ForCayman Investment Alliance, cannot be a ‘stand alone’ agreement, as it has been referred to, if thatagreement itself is flawed, irregular and illegal.

“It is now possible that the Plaintiffs will file and serve their own summons to address the fact that the National Roads Authority et al feel they can continue with the NRA Agreement despite the delays in the Writ Action, which are not the fault of the Plaintiffs in the matter,” the ladies warned in a statement released Friday.

In the meantime, the plaintiffs are preparing to move forward with their writ action in accordance with the orders of Justice Alex Henderson, the judge presiding over the action.

The ladies said that if their action is successful, it would not be just for them but “an even greater victory for the more than 4,000 individuals who signed the 2011 petition as well as the many other supporters of the cause, and for the wider Cayman community.”

More than 2,300 registered voters and almost 1,400 residents signed the petition against the roads closure. It was given to the governor but his office passed it on to the premier at the time, McKeeva Bush, who had signed the original deal and ignored the petition.

The NRA agreement has divided the community, with some believing that it is a step towards a development that will stimulate the economy. However, many people do not believe that the deal represents value for money for the public purse, and further negotiations behind closed doors after the deal was signed have failed to rectify the imbalance, which was noted in the recent PricewaterhouseCoopers review of the deal.

The situation has been further complicated by the gazetted closure of around a third of the stretch proposed to be closed in the deal and the fact that it is now partially underneath an artificial beach made from crushed rock, which is understood to have been imported from South America.

The new government has re-opened talks with Dart and is seeking ways in which some form of road access can be reconstructed in the area. During and after the election campaign the PPM proposed that the West Bay Road be retained and if necessary redirected behind the proposed new hotel and condo development on the site of the former Courtyard Marriott.

However, the government has also inherited the ladies' suit, and despite their own reservations about the deal, is at present continuing to fight against the claims made by the women that the agreement and the closure is unlawful.

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FOI appeal set for trial

FOI appeal set for trial

| 29/07/2013 | 12 Comments

(CNS): According to court documents, the battle between Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert and the governor’s office over an FOI request has been listed for trial on 30 October. The current governor, Duncan Taylor, initiated the appeal against a decision by Dilbert ordering the release of records relating to the controversial internal RCIPS probe, Operation Tempura, but because he will be leaving the Cayman Islands in September, Helen Kilpatrick, who was announced as the country’s new governor in June, will pick up the case. If the case does go to trial later this year, as is expected, it will be the first courtroom challenge to a decision by Dilbert.

Sir Justice Alan Moses, who is currently handling the case, has said that John Evans, the person who made the original FOI request for the documents but who dropped his request following Dilbert’s ruling, has ceased to be directly affected by the case.

The issue surrounds a report on the results of a complaint made by Martin Bridger, the lead investigator on the ill-fated operation into alleged police corruption in Cayman that began in 2007. The FOI request made by Evans, a former reporter with Cayman Net News who was involved in the original investigation, was denied by the governor's office but following the FOI appeal process, the information commissioner ordered the report’s release.

Shortly afterwards, Evans withdrew his FOI application but by that time the governor had filed a court action to appeal the decision and, given the public interest in the document, the commissioner has nevertheless pressed on, hoping that the courts will back her order for release in line with the law.

The document is believed to reveal a number of embarrassing issues for the governor’s office over the handling of the entire bungled operation. It is also understood to detail the allegations by Bridger thatthe governor at the time, Stuart Jack, and Attorney General Sam Bulgin were both aware of an alleged illegal late night entry into the offices of Cayman Net News by John Evans and Lyndon Martin, who were employees of the newspaper looking for evidence of RCIPS corruption.

Although the real ins and outs and motivations for Operation Tempura remain a mystery, Bridger has implied that the entire affair, which lasted some two years, was based on the fact that the commissioner of police at the time, Stuart Kernohan, and senior police officer, John Jones, had unlawfully authorized the two reporters to ‘break-in’ to Net News and look for incriminating emails between their boss, the late Desmond Seales, and Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis, allegations which were very quickly discovered to be unfounded.

Bridger  has since stated that what seemed to be a bungled burglary was authorized by Larry Covington, the FCO’s regional security advisor, and that both the former governor and the attorney general knew that Kernohan had decided to take this course of action before calling in an outside police team to see if they could get to the bottom of the accusations that a senior RCIPS officer was feeding police operational information to the newspaper.

As the FOI challenge by the governor, which was filed in January with the courts, moves slowly through the judicial system, Bridger is also fighting for the right to use the report and related complaint as well as other documents he has in his possession in his own legal battled with Kernohan, who has filed an unlawful dismissal suit and civil action against the CIG and the Tempura boss.

Although Bridger has seen the report, which cost the public purse around $300,000 to produce, he has been bound by a confidentiality order not to release the content.

But some of the document’s content was reported in the UK press and the former Scotland Yard cop's main gripe was that his investigation was prematurely ended by the authorities in Cayman in what he claims amounted to an orchestrated cover-up of errors and bad decisions by the powers that be.

Given the costly efforts that the governor’s office continues to make to keep the content of the report secret, it is unlikely that trial will be open to the public. However, if the court upholds Dilbert’s decision or if Bridger wins his battled to use all of the document’s in the Kernohan case, then the Cayman public, which footed what is believed to be the $10 million bill for the investigation, Bridger may eventually be able to put the Operation Tempura pieces together.

See court order below.

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