Archive for August 13th, 2014

Colorado’s ganja legalization applauded

| 13/08/2014 | 96 Comments

(CNS): An independent report into the way Colorado implemented the legalization of ganja has lauded the State’s efforts. Acknowledging a number of issues that local officials will need to address, from the way edible marijuana is sold to its cultivation, the study by John Hudak, from the Brookings Institution, examines the administrative elements of the legislative change rather than passing judgment on the rights and wrongs or moral position on lifting the prohibition. Noting that it is too early to judge the success of the policy, Hudak says that it is not too early to say that the implementation of legal retail marijuana has been largely successful.

The report comes as more US states are pondering the legalization of recreational as well as medical ganja use and as the western world slowly begins to re-think its failed war on all drugs. Jamaica is currently assessing its position and lining itself up to benefit not just from the direct financial revenue but the management of finances associated with what is expected to become a major industry in the future.

Meanwhile, here in Cayman as legislators continue to back a zero tolerance policy and refuse to even openly discuss the matter, the criminalization of people for possession of miniscule quantities and even consumption continues.

The new report from the think tank which revues government policy demonstrates that Colorado achieved a complete cultural turnaround, even in the face of federal opposition, and indicates a number of elements that have led to the legalization rollout’s success.

“The state has met challenging statutory and constitutional deadlines for the construction and launch of a legal, regulatory, and tax apparatus for its new policy,” Hudak writes in the independent academic paper. “In doing so, it has made intelligent decisions about regulatory needs, the structure of distribution, prevention of illegal diversion, and other vital aspects of its new market. It has made those decisions in concert with a wide variety of stakeholders in the state.”

The report praises the innovation, professionalism, competence, leadership, and execution of the legalization and said that the broad success of the state in putting into effect a policy that had no true precedent was a difficult task. While he notes shortcomings and challenges which cannot be overlooked, the report finds that the state government has met the most basic standard of success.

“It has done what Amendment 64 instructed it to do. Colorado has effectively created regulatory and administrative apparatuses that facilitate the legal retail marijuana market,” said Hudak.

“Through a series of legislative, executive, and administrative actions, the state has allowed product to come to market; ensured that monitoring and enforcement processes were in place and functioning; collected revenue from marijuana sales; and sought to build, maintain, and improve the ability of the state to continue to regulate the market effectively,” he added

Commending the leadership at the state level for the success, the government policy expert said that not everything is perfect but a “strong launch, built on a capable and flexible administrative infrastructure, gives Colorado a leg up as events unfold,” Hudak wrote.

Colorado earned over $6 million from ganja sales in just the first two months of the change in the law and the report reveals that the revenue collection has also been well-managed, with money going to fund important projects such as building schools, substance abuse treatment, public-health education campaigns, and law-enforcement training, as well as the actual enforcement of the new laws.

See full report here.

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Third arrest for Brac booze burglary

| 13/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police said this morning that a 21-year-old man was arrested today on suspicion of burglary/handling stolen goods in connection with a break-in at the Coral Isle Bar on Cayman Brac on 29 July. Two 17-year-old boys, Geoff Ryan Scott and Torry Javier Powery, were charged with stealing 19 bottles of alcohol and possession of ganja and appeared for the fist time in court last week. Police arrested the youngsters after one bottle of the stolen loot was discovered at Scott's house, where both boys were staying, and others were then found hidden on property nearby.

Scott was bailed on a tag but with no one to sign surety for him, Powery was remanded in custody until the teenagers' next court  appearance on 14 August.

Police said today's arrest followed extensive investigations by the Cayman Brac officers.

Chief Inspector Owens said, “The further positive actions in this matter would not have Ben possible without the information supplied by the community, which reiterates what I have said previously and shows the community that any assistance will be treated with utmost confidentiality."

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Wild dogs roam West Bay

| 13/08/2014 | 79 Comments

(CNS): A pack of dogs which apparently roams from the Northwest Point Road area in West Bay all the way to Cemetery Beach, viciously attacked a pet cat over the weekend, resulting in calls from concerned neighbours to capture these animals while imploring dog owners to keep their pets safely tethered. The pack of six dogs jumped a four-foot fence into Katie O’Neill’s yard on Watercourse Road at about 9:30pm Friday and went after her cat, mauling the animal and pulling one leg out of her hip socket. Despite an emergency trip to the vet, the cat couldn’t be saved because the injuries had resulted in paralysis from the midsection down, so she had to be euthanised. (Left: Sophie after the attack on an IV drip)

O’Neill is distraught over the incident and left wondering why these dogs, which have been involved in other violent attacks, have not been rounded up.

“I have spoken to several of my neighbours who have said these dogs are part of the same pack that have been roaming together for months. A few months ago, another cat was killed and left in a nearby yard,” O’Neill said.

On Friday night, she heard “a ruckus” in her yard, saw the dogs through a window and ran outside to chase them away, without realising they had already attacked her cat. The pack jumped the gate and ran off in the direction of a friend’s house.

She had her cat, Sophie, for 10 years and remains traumatised over the incident. “My cat was in our fenced-in yard. Why did those dogs come in our yard and attack her? She was so sweet and docile, and used to being around our Labrador. She did not deserve to be the object of a tug of war by vicious, rampaging dogs.” (Right: Katie O'Neill at the cat's grave in a corner of her yard)

She recounted how she found Sophie in the dark and brought her into the house, where she just lay on the floor, writhing in clear agony, bleeding from bite marks on her face, and prompting the emergency visit to the vet.

The death of her cat was “like losing a family member. I’m heartbroken and I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through this.”

After O’Neill’s house, the dogs wound up in the yard of her friend, Paul Rivers. He recounted how his family was awakened by the dogs, who were attempting to get to some hens he keeps in a coop. His aunt saw them attack the cage and ran them off. He spotted the dogs a few days later headed for Boggy Sand Road and noted one dog had a collar, indicating it had an owner.

The pack is identifiable by its leader, a white dog with black patches, which matched the description given by several different witnesses, including Mark Orr, chief conservation officer at the Department of Environment, who has had dealings with these animals. He said the description of the dogs matches what he has seen, notably the black-and-white dog.

In two separate instances, when he and other members of his department were on a beach in West Bay waiting for turtles to nest, the dogs chased the turtles back into the sea. His team ran them off and this happened again a few nights later. While no turtles were injured, these dogs remain of great concern, he said.

“They might pose a danger for the turtles. I don’t know that they would attack something that big but they will chase them into the sea and interrupt the nesting.

“I’d hate to see it if a nest hatched and the dogs found the hatchlings. That would definitely be a threat as they seem to be going after anything they can,” Orr said.

He added that they have been seen chasing iguanas and chickens, running over the road and through hedges and on beaches. “In general, these dogs can be quite a nuisance, posing a danger to pets and wild life. They are now attacking invasive species (such as green iguanas) but could switch to native species.” Orr added they needed to be trapped and brought to the Humane Society where they could be adopted or “take other action as necessary to lessen the number of wild dogs”.

Rivers, who owns a horseback-riding business, said a week-old foal was killed in 2008 by dogs whose owners had not kept them properly restrained. “I’d like to see more responsible ownership to begin with. They should be properly controlled or find the dogs another home.” If that fails, they might have to be euthanised, he added, saying that Animal Control needs to get them off the streets.

“It could escalate. There could be a small child outside their yard that could be attacked. Everybody should be concerned for the children. Someone’s child could be playing in their neighbourhood and dogs in pursuit of an iguana or chicken could scare them or run into them,” Rivers said.

According to Brian Crichlow, assistant director at the Department of Agriculture, anyone having a problem with stray dogs on their property can call the DoA to request traps be put on their land. “The Department does have a new Animal Welfare Officer Mr. Joel Ebanks, and he can be contacted through our office. The Department also continues to provide Animal Control services,” he said.

At press time, Crichlow was trying to confirm that there had been any requests for traps in regards to the particular pack of dogs that attacked O’Neill’s cat.

O’Neill is hoping to see a culture change among negligent pet owners. “I think it is unconscionable that people have animals and not care for them properly. A lot of times, I think people have dogs as cheap burglar alarms and that is what they are worth to them.”

As for the pack of dogs that attacked Sophie, she said, “I’d like to see these dogs captured before they can harm any other animals and even possibly small children. Do we have to wait for that to happen?”

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Jury told ignore other trial

| 13/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Chief Justice Anthony Smellie told the jury for the trial of Raziel Jeffers, who is accused of murder, that the fact that Jordan Manderson, who is named on the indictment, has stood trial and been acquitted of the shooting death of numbers man Marcos Duran and that others who have been named in this trial as accomplices have not been prosecuted does not prevent them from deciding the truth of the indictment, which states that Jeffers, together with Jordan Manderson, murdered Duran on 11 March 2010. In his summation, the chief justice told the one man and 11 women on the jury panel that they are responsible to judge the facts before them in this case and that what had been decided in another trial is irrelevant.

In his direction to the jury, Chief Justice Smellie told them that in order to find the defendant guilty of murder they must first be sure that there was a plan to rob the victim, that the defendant was involved in that plan with others and accept that he was the mastermind. They must be sure, the chief justice said, that in the carrying out of that plan, murder was committed, and also, given the nature of the crime, that the murder was a probably consequence, which means that a reasonable person could have foreseen what would happen, even if it was not the defendant’s intent.

Although Jeffers is on trial for murder, the crown is not suggesting that he actually pulled the trigger that killed Duran during a bungled robbery attempt or even that he was present, but has made the case that Jeffers masterminded the crime and armed the assailants, and is therefore guilty of murder. The victim was killed outside 28 Maliwinas Way, West Bay, as he went on his rounds to sell illegal numbers and to collect money.

The CJ told them that if they were sure that the defendant was involved in the planning and use of firearms but are not satisfied that it was murder, they can find him guilty of manslaughter. He asked them to consider whether the defendant was party to an unlawful and dangerous act that resulted in the death of Duran and if so they can convict him of the lesser offence.

The jury was also reminded that Jordan Manderson had repeatedly said that Andy Barnes, a member of a rival gang and his sworn enemy, was the one who had shot him. The chief justice asked them to consider whether Manderson had concocted or distorted the truth. He noted that Manderson, known as “Pinga”, had initially lied about where he had been shot but his blood had been found at the scene. He asked the panel to think about why he was at Maliwinas Way at that critical time.

Regarding Jeffers’ former girlfriend, Meagan Martinez, whom he described as a “pivotal witness”, the CJ asked them to consider how she could have known that Manderson was shot in Maliwinas Way. He noted that Brian O’Neill, QC, acting for Jeffers, had suggested that she had fabricated the whole thing “for some reason known only to her”, and pointed out that the defence’s depiction of her as “a woman of fury” had not been put to her when she was in the witness box so she could respond to it.

Rita Martinez had given evidence in court that Jeffers was not at her apartment that night, as her niece Meagan has described in her testimony. But the jury had heard that she had given several statement to the police and in one of those she had said that he was. If this undermined her credibility then they could reject her evidence but they could not simply substitute that statement for the evidence before them, the chief justice explained.

The jury was asked what proper conclusion they could draw from the fact that Jeffers did not give any evidence in his own defence. O’Neill had suggested that they should not believe Meagan Martinez’ account and should reject her evidence, but the CJ said the jury may ask why the defendant did not go into the witness box to give his own explanation. He said that they had been told that Jeffers was visiting a friend that night in the area, but they had not been presented with any evidence to support this.

However, the chief justice told them that they can only draw a negative inference from the fact that he did not give evidence in his own trial if the prosecution’s case was strong enough that he needed to answer it and also if the only possible reason for him not answering is that he is guilty. They may not find him guilty mainly or only because he did not give evidence.

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Trial hangs on witness

| 13/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Raziel Jeffers, who is on trial for murder in the shooting death of numbers man Marcos Duran, offered no evidence in his defence and did not take the stand. In the closing arguments Tuesday, Director of Prosecutions Cheryll Richards, QC, asked the jury whether they found the crown's key witness, Meagan Martinez,to be truthful. "Do you believe her?" she asked, which is the crux of the trial. Richard said she was a troubled teenager who was now facing her past. Jeffers' defence said she was dishonest, a liar and an unreliable witness.

Jeffers is accused of masterminding the robbery of Duran and arming his Birch Tree Hill gang 'soldiers' for the hold-up on Maliwinas Way in West Bay in March 2010. The crown contends that because of the nature of the crime and the use of lethal barrelled weapons, the death of the numbers man was a probable consequence and he is guilty of murder but the jury can also consider the alternative sentence of manslaughter. The prosecution's case depends heavily on Martinez' testimony.

Richards said the jury could have no doubts that this was a young lady who had "walked on the wrong side of the tracks" but asked, "Is she still there or has she turned her life around?"

The DPP pointed out to the 11 women and one man on the jury that there was supportive evidence for her narrative, which she says was told to her by the defendant while they were in a relationship. This ncluded cell site and phone evidence that Martinez could have had no influence over and could not have known, forensic evidence which places Jordan Manderson at the scene, and the witness statements of her cousin, who had driven her to collect Jeffers after the incident.

Richards said she had been the perfect confidant for Jeffers, who did not think that she would ever had had the courage to come forward.  In fact, Martinez had said that he had threatened her that she was a party to the offence. She had been honest and forthright about her past and "had made no attempt to conceal who she is or who she was", the DPP said.

The defence pointed out that Manderson had been tried and acquitted of the murder, and that none off the other young men alleged to be involved had ever been tried in the matter.

Painting  Martinez as a manipulative liar, Brian O'Neill, QC, said that even if her account was true and the jury believed that she was faithfully recounting what the defendant had said to her, they could still not find him guilty of murder.

He pointed out that the plan was to frighten the numbers man, not to hurt him; that there was no evidence that the plan was to use a real and loaded weapon; that there was no evidence that Jeffers knew there was a second gun; and that the source of the .22 caliber gun involved had not been proven.

O'Neill also noted that no one had said that masks were worn at Jeffers' suggestion, or that he had supplied the masks. Critically, he was not present at the time of the murder and had not even known what had happened until the next day. On Martinez evidence he had been agitated and regretful, saying "the poor numbers man" had been killed.

The defence counsel maintained that the death of Duran was not a "probable consequence" of the robbery, noting that many robberies take place without ending in the death of someone. He said the plan had been to frighten him, and the fact that one of those recruited to carry out the robbery would bring a loaded weapon and use it was "outside anyone's contemplation".

If the jury found that Jeffers was culpable in the killing, he submitted that they should find him guilty of manslaughter and not the more serious crime of murder. However, he again suggested that the evidence of. Martinez had been discredited and that the defendant was guilty of neither charge.

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School entry screening for new students

| 13/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Public Health Department is reminding parents that all students entering government or private schools for thefirst time are required to have health screenings before the new school year begins in September. Health screenings continue to take place at the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC) campus, from now until 20 August, and at the Cayman Islands Hospital from 21 – 29 August 2014. Completed forms from private physicians should be submitted to the Public Health Department, Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm. School entry screening will commence in Cayman Brac on 15 August 2014. Parents/Guardians will be contacted by the Public Health Department to arrange appointments.

For further information call: 326-4890, 326-3882, 925-5401.
 

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Red Cross awarded grant for ‘Girls Will’ conference

| 13/08/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Red Cross (CIRC) is the first recipient of a new grant programme, launched by the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation (ESRF), to provide funding to organisations for proposals that would contribute to the Foundation’s objectives and achieving its vision of gender equality and a life free of violence for all. A grant of CI$7,500 will go towards hosting a girls’ empowerment conference called ‘Girls Will’ in September 2014. The conference will provide a space for girls, young women and parents to better understand and process information on subjects such as the impact of gender, gender norms and discrimination; child sexual abuse; healthy sexuality; and violence against girls and women.

It will also provide participants with an opportunity to engage in exercises focusing on healthy self-esteem and self-expression. There will also be co-current sessions run for parents, in an effort to help spark and enhance dialogue between parents and their children.

Deputy Director of the CIRC, Carolina Ferreira stated, "The CIRC has been working with youth for over 12 years, and it has become increasingly clear that our efforts need to be multi-faceted and multi-organisational to be effective.” While child sexual abuse affects both boys and girls, there are a variety of factors that make girls and young women more vulnerable to different types of violence and abuse not only in childhood but throughout their lives.

Ferreira believes that the girls’ empowerment conference is one small step to highlight these vulnerabilities and begin to reduce them. She further elaborated, “Empowerment isn't what happens the day of the conference, but what the participants do with the information and tools after they leave. We have to start somewhere, and we are very excited that the conference is a first step and that we have the financial support of the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation in this endeavor."

“The Foundation is excited to provide the main financial sponsorship for the Girls Will Conference because this event is so closely aligned with our objectives of empowering and educating young people and adults on important issues such as gender equality and living a life free from violence,” said Rayle Roberts, ESRF Chair.

The Girls Will Conference is reflective of a collaborative effort with other community organisations such as the Family Resource Centre, Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, Health Services Authority, Ministry of Education, Employment, and Gender Affairs, Employee Assistance Programme, Business and Professional Women’s Club, Ben Hud's Wisdom Campaign, and the Cayman Story Company also being involved.

The ESRF encourages charitable, community, and other non-profit organisations in the Cayman Islands to submit an application for the 2015 grant cycle by 31 December 2014.

Grant funding of up to CI$10,000 is available for projects or programmes that are consistent with the objectives of the ESRF. More information on the grant programme and the grant application form are available at www.esrfoundation.org.ky.

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Cayman Airways staff lace up for Feed our Future

| 13/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CAL): Launching the airline’s 46th anniversary celebrations, Cayman Airways employees and their friends and families recently staged their first annual charitable 5k Fun Run/Walk, lacing up in support of Feed our Future, a local-based charity with the mission to provide children in need with free school meals. Fabian Whorms, President and CEO of Cayman Airways, says the objective was to bring CAL employees together for a morning of fun, team-building and exercise, in support of a good cause. “This is a very special time of year for Cayman Airways as we celebrate our 46th anniversary and reflect on our support for the Cayman community over the past year.

"I am proud of all the staff who came out to support Feed our Future and participate with their colleagues, friends, and families.”

Whorms said that throughout each year, Cayman Airways invests and sponsors many events within the local community. “Our culture of caring extends beyond our offices, and it was great to host the Fun Run/Walk to actively involve all our employees. Together we raised CI$778 for Feed our Future.”

Stacy VanDevelde, Chairwoman of Feed Our Future, said: “Feed Our Future was honored to be the chosen charity to benefit from this unique Cayman Airways event which brought together their management and staff in support of needy children in Cayman and express our sincere appreciation for their generosity.  We are always inspired by such community driven initiatives which further support our mission of connecting children in Cayman to nutritious food when at school.”
 
Cayman Airways proudly contributes to the sustainable growth and development of the local economy and people of the Cayman Islands, and supports over 300 events and organizations annually through community funding and sponsorships.

The fun run/walk started and ended at the airline’s headquarters building at 91 Owen Roberts Drive, looping around industrial park, and was open to all levels of participants.

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Turtle Farm not the sole focus of animal charity

| 13/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): World Animal Protection (WAP), the international animal charity that has been critical of the Cayman Turtle Farm, doesn’t just focus on issues surrounding the CTF but deals with a range of different animal welfare issues around the world, ranging from the terrible conditions of farm animals, assisting with disaster management, as well as wildlife issues. For over a decade WAP has been working towards ending the problem of bear farming in South Korea, in Vietnam and in China, where  bears are kept in cages and their gallbladders are drained on a regular basis to produce traditional Asian medicine. Watch video on CNS Business

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Former governor has ‘meet and greet’ with premier

| 13/08/2014 | 28 Comments

(CNS): Former Governor John Owen is visiting the Cayman Islands, according to the office of the premier. Although no details were given about the visit or any clues as to whether this is a formal visit or a vacation, he apparently visited Premier Alden McLaughlin on the afternoon of Tuesday 12 August "for a meet and greet". Owen served as governor from 16 October 1995 until his retirement on 5 May 1999, after which he continued to pursue a variety of business, civic and charitable concerns. His distinguished career in business and in public service led to the award of an MBE in 1979.

 

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