Archive for August 27th, 2014

Police to meet West Bayers over crime-fight

| 27/08/2014 | 3 Comments

(CNS): In the wake of a disturbing amount of what appear to have been drive by shootings at several homes and businesses in the district this past weekend the police will be meeting members of the West Bay community tomorrow night. Officers from the West Bay Station led by Chief Inspector Powery, the Area Commander will be holding the meeting at 7pm on Thursday evening (28 August) at the Sir John Cumber Primary School Hall. The purpose of the meeting is to update the community on current police issues and to enable the residents of West Bay to provide their input on how best their concerns can be addressed. The meeting is expected to last until 8-30pm.

 

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Young Brackers learn tennis basics

| 27/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(TFCI): Tennis on the Brac is gently flourishing. Two years ago there was barely a child on the Sister Island who’d ever tried their hand at tennis. Now it’s part of introductory PE lessons in the primary and high schools, and many Brac youngsters regularly enjoy thwacking a ball around a court. It was thanks to sponsorship from Walkers, the international law firm, that a tennis pro from Grand Cayman, Adam Bayley, made the first coaching trip to the island in 2012. His visit was a hit, with children coming from all corners of the island to learn a new sport. “The programme grew from there,” explained Eliza Harford, head of the Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands, which oversees the Brac programme.  

“With continued support from Walkers, we’ve now evolved to weekend coaching clinics, which are run by Noel Watkins of Cayman Tennis Academy. Noel’s been over a couple of times in the past six months, and has two more trips planned before Christmas.”

Watkins has not only taught students, he’s also trained Brac PE teachers, plus sports enthusiasts Sue and Mike Hundt, to coach the sport, with the result that introductory tennis is now part of the PE curriculum. The game is taught using portable nets (slightly lower than a standard tennis net), plus shorter racquets and slower-than-standard balls, which make the game really easy to pick up.

“Most beginners learn to rally, serve and score in their very first lesson,” explained Watkins. “It’s a great system, strongly endorsed by the International Tennis Federation.”

In another major step forward, Hundt has organised for the Brac high school court to be resurfaced. With a new tennis net and posts waiting to be installed in time for the start of term in September, and with a hitting wall at one end of the court, young people on the Brac should soon have use of a full-sized, floodlit court. The Walkers sponsorship will cover the cost of new adult racquets and a supply of standard balls, noted Watkins. 

“The Brac kids are incredibly enthusiastic, and some show great promise,” he added. “Progress is steady and encouraging, and it’s obvious the students have been practising between coaching sessions.”

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UK police to follow new stop and search code

| 27/08/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Following revelations in a Freedom of information request that stop and searches result in a less than 3% conversion rate to arrest in Cayman, all 43 police forces in England and Wales have agreed to adopt an official code of conduct in relation to such powers under the law. The UK home Secretary Theresa May has said the technique was being misused so often that it was damaging relations between the public and police. Here in the Cayman Islands the majority of stop and searches carried out by the RCIPS are as a result of officers suspecting that people may be carrying drugs but such a low success rate raises questions about the validity of police suspicions.

In order to measure the practice and address allegaitons that stop and search is nothing more than racist, harassment by police, UK Officers will now record every outcome resulting from stop and search. Police will also soon allow public observers to watch stop and search in operation as well. Next year, British police will also start mapping where the practice is used so people can see if one area is targeted more than others, and the public will be entitled to know why this is the case.

The changes are being brought in after the Inspectorate of Constabulary found that 27% of stop and searches did not satisfy the requirement that there be "reasonable grounds for suspicion", meaning more than 250,000 of the one million searches conducted last year could have been illegal.

Here in Cayman an FOI revealed that in 2013 from 175 stops made by officers under section 41 of Cayman’s law relating to random stop and searchers based on suspicions just five proved to be warranted.

Ken Hinds, a member of the London borough of Haringey's stop and search monitoring group, does not believe the new code will be enough to change attitudes. "After 40 years of abuse of stop and search, we now refer to it as stop and scarred in our community. It has alienated whole swathes,” he said.

A black police inspector, Nick Glynn of the Leicestershire force, has already been chosen to lead reform of the way stop-and-search powers are used nationally. He said he had been stopped and searched himself about 30 times while off duty by officers from other forces.
Metropolitan Police Commander Adrian Hanstock said the new code supports the force's "ongoing drive to make stop and search more intelligence-led and effective".

See related story on CNS:
Drugs-dominate-stop-search

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Gallery hosts drawing, painting & bookbinding classes

| 27/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands is offering three new art courses for adults taught by professional artists designed to improve drawing and painting skills, and the chane to learn a unique craft form. The drawing and painting courses taught by Gabrielle Wheaton and John Broad last seven weeks while the bookbinding with Marcie Wood is a one day long workshop. Fees range from CI$50 to $255. The courses are open to beginners as well as competent artists and there are also two scholarships available for local teenagers.

Drawing with Gabrielle Wheaton is a seven-week programme beginning 6 September 2014. The course runs every Saturday morning from 10:45 AM until 1:15 PM. Course fees are CI $255.00, with a 10% discount for NGCI Members. Course fees help support the National Gallery as well as cover the costs of the instructors.  It is designed to teach those who want to learn the basic, classical drawing skills from the ground up. Students will learn foundation drawing skills, from sharpening a pencil to making a form appear 3-dimensional.

The aim is to teach students to see (by teaching how to measure proportions using the “Sight-Size” method) the use of negative shapes for correction and for refining a sketch, and the use of light and dark shapes to bring form to the work. Students who have completed the first Drawing Course with Gabrielle will be given more advanced work to complete, while any new beginners will receive instruction suitable for their level.

For four years Gabrielle Wheaton attended one of the most select art schools in the world, the Academy of Realist Art in Toronto, Canada, graduating with a Diploma in Classical Realist Art in 2009. During her vacations from school Gabrielle conducted numerous art workshops through the National Gallery. She has been an artist in her own right for many years, exhibiting at Cayfest, through the Visual Arts Society and for the McCoy Prize in 2004.

In addition to her experience in fine art, Gabrielle is also involved with the Cayman Drama Society.

The seven-week painting course developed by local artist John Broad aims to improve painting skills. The course, limited to 15 students, runs every Saturday afternoon from 1:30 PM until 3:00 PM and has a course fee of CI $147.00, with a 10% discount for NGCI Members. Course fees help support the National Gallery as well as cover the costs of the instructors. 

This programme, suitable for beginners or intermediate painters, will focus on making pictorial composition simple to understand, remember and apply. The classes will assist students in developing their own creative and perceptive skills and students can work in any medium they are comfortable with, e.g. watercolour, acrylic or oil. Areas will include: design dynamics, creating interest in your paintings, total value and contrast, colour, pleasing the eye, and achieving dynamic balance. Skills will be practiced in landscapes, still life and portraits.

John Broad, attended Edinburgh College of Art studying for his degree in Painting and Drawing, and gained his teaching qualification from The University of London.  Since then he has travelled the world and held many successful exhibitions. In 2004 he created the Wall of History alongside the Courthouse in George Town, which was presented to Prince Andrew during a royal visit.  In 2008 he exhibited in the London Underground and on the Pillars of Berlin.

Recently, John created a three-part mural at Fort George that highlights Cayman’s vivid and often turbulent past. John brought a part of the Islands’ history to life with his colourful work, enriching the National Trust site with new vitality and informing visitors with details of the territory’s history. John Broad is also well known for having mastered the technique of speed painting, with which he has helped raise large sums for various local fundraising events.  John has taught art at many schools, and was also invited by UCCI to design an art class syllabus and to teach a class on watercolour.

The Art of Book Binding with Marcie Wood is a one-day workshop exploring the art of book binding, with students being able to create their own diary, scrapbook or nature journal. The workshop is limited to 15 students and will be held 12 September from 5:00 PM until 9:00 PM. The course fee is $50.00, with a 10% discount for NGCI Members and includes light refreshments and materials.

The instructor will deliver a concise overview of the history of bookbinding, followed by step-by-step instructions on the hardcover and sewn text block methods of book binding.  A brief demonstration and self-guided material on the t-fold, pamphlet, concertina, Japanese stab-stich and perfect-binding techniques of booking will also be provided.
Marcie Wood, is a fourth-year Illustration major at the University of Gloucestershire where she took part in many volunteer opportunities within the university and her programme.

During her studies she has been exposed to numerous art-making processes including book binding.

The National Gallery offers two teen scholarships for each of the continuing education courses on offer. Scholarships are on a first come, first served basis, and applicants that meet the application criteria (merit and need – based) have a greater chance of success. 

Registration for all courses at the National Gallery can be done by phone:(345) 945 8111 or email: education@nationalgallery.org.ky. For more information www.nationalgallery.org.ky
 

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7 negative tests support containment of Chikungunya

| 27/08/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The running total for confirmed chikungunya virus in Cayman remains at five following the return of seven negative results from suspected cases sent for testing. Since the first suspected case in Cayman in June 26 suspected cases have been investigated but just four patients with a travel history to endemic areas and one patient who contracted the illness locally have been confirmed. Of the remaining cases sixteen were negative and one was inconclusive while four of the latest amples remain outstanding.

Although Cayman seems to have contained the disease public officials remain vigilant and the MRCU is doing what it can to keep the relevant vector down. However, the Aedes aegypti which also transmits dengue fever tends to live in urban areas and breeds in standing water in vessels rather than in the swamp. As a result the public is being urged to ensure they are not inadvertently collecting standing water in their yards and gardens by overturning or covering any pots or other vessels where water can collect.

To date, 8,285 confirmed and probable cases of chikungunya have been reported around the region. For more information on the local impact visit www.hsa.ky and for regional updates visit the CARPHA website on http://carpha.org/What-We-Do/Public-Health-Activities/Chikungunya.

 

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Owner seeks help finding stolen boat

| 27/08/2014 | 25 Comments

(CNS): A local man is calling on the community for any information to help him find his boat which was believed to be stolen last night and is urging other owners to make sure their own vessels are secure. The boat went missing between 6pm Monday night and 10am Tuesday morning from his dock at Omega Bay in the Prospect Area of George Town. Anyone with information can contact Sgt. Hanna of the Marine Unit at 516-6194.

 

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MLA wants 3rd strike out

| 27/08/2014 | 63 Comments

(CNS): The independent MLA for North Side is calling on his political colleagues to back him in a private member'smotion to impose a ‘3rd strike and you are out’ rule on robbers and burglars, which would see habitual offenders locked up for as much as ten years. Ezzard Miller has filed the motion for the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly, which according to a notice from the premier’s office is set to begin on Wednesday 10 September. Miller said that he believes the introduction of a third strike would see the ‘usual suspects’ in his district think again about their crimes as he believes at present they are moving in and out of Northward without a second thought.

The MLA also said the only time his constituents are safe from the growing crime in the once peaceful district is when the main culprits are locked up and as they are frequently released either on bail or after short sentences they continue in their criminal lifestyle, constantly undermining the security of his district.

Concerned that crime is out of control, the independent member said he wanted to see the penal code amended to introduce a mandatory minimum ten year sentence on the third time any offender commits the same crime, which is substantial and will either act as a deterrent to offenders to mend their ways or keep them out of his constituents’ homes and behind bars if they can’t.

Acknowledging the overcrowding at HMP Northward, Miller said he did not believe that the government needed to spend more on the prison system but he said there had to be some way to deter people from a life of crime.

“We have got to do something to address the growing crime and I believe longer sentences on the third crime will act as a deterrent,” he said.

Miller also pointed the finger at pawn shops, as he said he believes the proliferation of these types of stores in Cayman is fuelling the increase in burglaries, robberies and home invasions around the country and he said they these shops too must be subject to a three strike rule or lose their license.

He said that he was aware that police had discovered six flat screen TVs at one pawn shop, all of which had been stolen during burglaries but the owners were not subject to any sanctions despite the obvious ‘fencing’ that was going on.

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CoP silent on Tempura ‘truth’

| 27/08/2014 | 18 Comments

(CNS): As the governor refuses to release documents relating to the ongoing fallout of Operation Tempura, the police boss, David Baines, has also refused to answer questions about his investigation into the conduct of Attorney General Sam Bulgin, former governor Stuart Jack and Larry Covington, the UK’s OT security advisor during the ill-fated probe. Although former police commissioner Stuart Kernohan and former chief superintendent John Jones both indicated under oath, when presented by the crown as witnesses of truth, that the three UK officials were aware of the covert entry into a local newspaper, the current police commissioner has decided they didn't know about the planned alleged break-in. ButBaines has not explained his findings or indicated if the RCIPS will be pursuing Kernohan and Jones for perjury.

Baines’ decision to dismiss the report of possible misconduct by Jack, Covington and Bulgin seems at odds with the position the authorities had previously taken over the evidence given by Jones and Kernohan. Baines is also understood to have dismissed the allegations that the senior officials did not reveal what they knew about the plans to look for evidence of police corruption in the Cayman Net News offices without interviewing anyone involved.

The latest twist in the Tempura internal police investigation about who knew what and when regarding what the lead investigator of the ill-fated enquiry, Martin Bridger, claims he believed was a break-in at a local newspaper office has raised serious questions which have not been answered by the RCIPS.

Although Baines said that Jack, Covington and Bulgin were all exonerated, he has not explained why it is that neither Kernohan nor Jones have been pursued for perjury after they had both alleged that their bosses knew all about the plans to look for evidence in relation to allegations of RCIPS corruption in the office of the late Desmond Seales, owner of Net News.

The men revealed the chain of events under oath, as crown witnesses during the trial of Lyndon Martin who was charged with burglary in relation to the alleged break-in to the Net News offices and perverting the course of justice in 2009.

Both men are also understood to have documented evidence that the plan to use reporters from the paper to find possible evidence before the RCIPS took official action against an alleged security leak was discussed at the highest level on a number of occasions.

With Baines' categorical opinion, despite what appears to be a limited investigation, that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the then governor, the UK’s OT security advisor and the attorney general, there are a number of anomalies that the RCIPS boss is refusing to answer.

Martin Bridger is still seeking to demonstrate to the Cayman public that everything he did during his time heading up the probe was based on legal advice given by representatives of the AG’s chambers and the governor’s office and basedon what those men had told him, and has raised his own doubts about what they knew.

Bridger says he became aware only towards the end of his time in Cayman that both Kernohan and Jones could have evidence that supported their claims that Jack, Covington and Bulgin all knew how the RCIPS management intended to handle the corruption allegations in the first instance before a decision was made to call in Scotland Yard.

Bridger now claims that he had always assumed from the start of the Tempura investigation that Jones and Kernohan “were on a frolic of their own” but if, as they claim, they had told Jack or Covington or Bulgin or all three, he would have packed up and left Cayman two weeks after he arrived. This then raises the question of who really is to blame for a probe, which found nothing of substance but cost the tax payer millions of dollars.

As a result of his own mounting suspicions about who did or did not tell him the truth when he was heading up the enquiry, Bridger filed a complaint with his former bosses in the case, the Metropolitan police, as he said if Kernohan and Jones were telling the truth this meant the UK officials in Cayman had misled not just him but Scotland Yard as well.

As a result, the Met handed over the enquiry to Baines but he exonerated Jack, Covington and Bulgin, but sources say this was without interviewing Bridger, Jones or Kernohan. Baines blamed Bridger for not turning up to an interview with the evidence he claimed he had. However, given that Bridger is fighting the authorities here to use this evidence and other important evidence collected during Tempura in his own legal battles against Kernohan, he said he had concerns about the terms on which such meetings could take place.

As obvious conflicts over the management and direction of Tempura continue, the governor is also pressing ahead with her fight on behalf of the UK office in Cayman — another legal battle to make sure the lid stays firmly closed on the file holding other details about the bungled enquiry. But the latest twists continue to fuel public concerns that the authorities are conspiring to cover up incompetence, mismanagement or some other potentially embarrassing action relating to the issue, which has dragged on for seven years.

Although CNS has submitted a number of questions to the RCIPS about the parts played by the various characters in the enquiry prior to the arrival of Bridger and his Scotland Yard team, they have been ignored. The commissioner has failed to state how his internal probe has concluded that Jack, Covington and Bulgin knew nothing at all about the covert entry and how that sits with the evidence given by both Kernohan and Jones in court when they were presented as crown witnesses of truth.

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McLean comes clean on C/C

| 27/08/2014 | 91 Comments

(CNS): The independent member for East End has admitted using his government credit card when he was a minister for personal reasons. However, Arden McLean told CNS that on the few occasions it happened it was done so inadvertently and each time he paid back the full sum to the card company within the monthly bill cycle so tax-payers were never subjected to interest or late fees as a result of his shopping. He said the watch from Kirk’s was a Christmas gift for his wife and McLean said it was not until after the fact that he realized he had used his government card rather than his own. He then wrote a cheque to cover the US$3,500 purchase on the very same day that the bill arrived.

With questionable use of government credit cards by ministers and senior officials dominating the headlines just weeks before former premier McKeeva Bush’s trial next month following criminal charges laid against him in 2013 over his use of a government card, McLean said he had been exceptionally reluctant to discuss his own purchases.

The former PPM Cabinet minister, who defected from the party two years ago and was re-elected in 2013 as an independent member for East End, said he had the documented evidence that he had paid back all personal purchases immediately after charging them (posted below), including a shopping trip and an extra night at a hotel which he had added to a business trip.

“I have made it clear that I have proof that I have repaid any charges which were for my personal benefit which I had made inadvertently or otherwise,” he said. “I was concerned about the impact that all of this may have on the pending prosecution of the former premier. I simply didn’t want to be dragged into any commentary that might be seen to hurt, assist or otherwise impact the matter,” McLean said in a statement released Tuesday, as he explained his previous reluctance to speak out about the use of his card.

The details of McLean’s purchases were revealed in selected credit card documents released to an undisclosed FOI requester and then forwarded to CNS and other media outlets by readers.

Since then CNS has made a full request for the statements of all government credit cards issues to every single government entity and their staff and so far 41 of the more than 80 government authorities have responded. Many of them have never had a credit card issued by government but for those that do many are now in the process of taking their full 30 days to respond, as appears to be the normal practice of information managers in many government entities even when the documents are sitting on their desk.

However, some have responded as a result, they said, of other requests made previously but they have redacted every single payment. The information managers have said the redaction is blamed on advice given by the legal department, even though the vast majority of information on these cards used by chief officers and ministers hasnothing at all to do with the forthcoming trial of McKeeva Bush. However, in each case CNS has request an internal review of the redactions as, for example, purchases made by a chief officer in a ministry before Bush was even premier could not possibly be related to his proceedings.

The only entity to release all of its credit card statements in full to CNS to date has been the Information Commissioner’s Office, which does not believe that statements issued to members of staff and ministers other than Bush should be impacted by the forthcoming court case.

The documents demonstrating McLean’s purchases and repayment to the government cards and his statement on the issue are attached below.

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