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Queen talks reconciliation in Christmas message

| 30/12/2014 | 27 Comments

(CNS): The British monarch’s annual broadcast to the Commonwealth on Christmas Day focused on reconciliation. Although talking mostly about holding the UK together, following the Scottish referendum on independence, in her message Queen Elizabeth II spoke of the first Christmas of the First World War where “without any instruction or command, the shooting stopped and German and British soldiers met in No Man's Land,” and the possibility of reconciliation, even at the worst of times. “Sometimes it seems that reconciliation stands little chance in the face of war and discord,” she said. “But, as the Christmas truce a century ago reminds us, peace and goodwill have lasting power in the hearts of men and women."

Among a number of other themes, she revealed how she had been "deeply touched" by those who treated victims of Ebola.

The Queen, who is one of the richest women in world, also spoke about her faith. She said the life of Jesus Christ has been an "inspiration and an anchor” in her life.

"Christ's example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none," she added.

To see the broadcast in full visit the British monarchy’s website here.

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US to restore full relations with Cuba

| 18/12/2014 | 47 Comments

(New York Times): President Obama on Wednesday ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century as he vowed to “cut loose the shackles of the past” and sweep aside one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. The surprise announcement came at the end of 18 months of secret negotiations that produced a prisoner swap brokered with the help of Pope Francis and concluded by a telephone call between Mr Obama and President Raúl Castro. The historic deal broke an enduring stalemate between two countries divided by just 90 miles of water but oceans of mistrust and hostility dating from the days of Theodore Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill and the nuclear brinkmanship of the Cuban missile crisis.

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Bermuda gives green light to casino gambling

| 15/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Amid debate and controversy, Bermuda has passed legislation to allow casino gaming on the island. After a 10-hour debate in the House of Assembly the Casino Gaming Act 2014, tabled by Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell, was passed in the early hours of Saturday morning. This follows the Cruise Ship (Casino) Act 2013, passed in October last year, which allowed cruise ships to keep their casinos open while overnighting in port on the island. According to the Royal Gazette, Crockwell told the House during the debate on the new law he was confident casino gaming was right for Bermuda and that most Bermudians supported the legalisation, although he acknowledged that the subject remained a sensitive and emotive issue for some. Read more and comment on CNS Business

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Former Operation Cealt boss gets TCI top cop job

| 11/12/2014 | 13 Comments

(CNS): The UK police officer who presided over the still secret spin-off investigation from Operation Tempura, known as Operation Cealt, has been appointed police commissioner in the Turks and Caicos Islands. James Smith was acting commissioner in Cayman in 2009, between the departure of David George, who was appointed by the UK when operation Tempura began and who left shortly after the fallout of the Justice Henderson unlawful arrest, and the arrival of David Baines. Smith will take up the position in TCI in February and will be in charge of 280 officers and staff, a release from the TCI governor’s office said.

According to officials, the job was advertised locally and internationally, attracting nearly 30 applicants. Six candidates were shortlisted and interviewed by a panel comprising the TCI governor, attorney general, the Human Rights Commission chair and the elusive Larry Covington, the FCO’s regional security adviser for the territories.

"I am delighted that we have secured the agreement of Jim Smith to take over as the next Police Commissioner this February," said TCI governor, Peter Beckingham, who approves all senior public appointments in the territory. "He brings the most senior experience from both the UK and Caribbean, having been an assistant and deputy chief constable in the UK, and was previously also acting police commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service."

When he was here in Cayman, Smith dealt with the fallout of Operation Tempura and established Operation Cealt, which was supposed to investigate the thousands of hours of tapes that the Tempura team had recorded from interviews with people who came forward in connection with alleged police corruption and the cover-up of serious crimes the in Cayman Islands.

But the results of that probe have never been revealed. Although the current RCIPS management has indicated that some officers were dismissed or forced to resign, there has been no public accountability about what had occurred and what were the consequences.

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British aristocracy grizzle over banking rules

| 16/10/2014 | 23 Comments

(CNS): Members of the UK House of Lords are complaining that banks are treating them like "deposed dictators or political pariahs" when they try to open accounts or conduct financial transactions. According to reports in the British press the peers are moaning about being caught up in money-laundering regulations because banks classed them as high-risk "politically exposed persons".

This makes them, and their relatives, subject to extra due diligence checks.

Treasury Minister Lord Deighton told the BBC that banks were acting "disproportionately".
He said UK parliamentarians were not currently classed as politically dependent persons, which are restricted to members of foreign governments, but added that new global standards "will require that they are treated as such".

Liberal Democrat Lord Clement-Jones said even before the new Money Laundering Directive had come into force, his son had been unable to access a cash machine.
Other complaints included a member whose 12-year-old daughter was asked to provide a utility bill and her drivinglicence to get a savings account in her name, and another’s sons were turned down by banks when they found out who their father was.

Lord Deighton said UK parliamentarians should be “treated exactly the same” as he encouraged members to complain to the Financial Ombudsman. He called for a balance so "terrorists and criminals" were targeted, leaving "the rest of us free to go about our business".


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PJ Patterson presses slavery reparations case

| 15/10/2014 | 61 Comments

(CNS): European nations conceived the African slave trade, put the enterprise into motion, controlled its operation and were massively enriched by it, the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, PJ Patterson, said on Sunday night when he gave an address during the opening ceremony at the regional conference on reparations in Antigua and Barbuda. Patterson urged the new generation of Caribbean leaders not to give up the pursuit of reparations for native genocide and slavery. In his address Patterson dismissed arguments that Africa was complicit in the genocide and pointed to the culpability of European countries. Africa, he said, was the victim of exploitation that crippled its potential for development.

At the latest meeting to press forward with the legal case for reparations, Patterson passed the torch to Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

“As one who belongs to the older generation of Caribbean leaders, I am here today to present that torch to a leader of the younger generation and to say: Never let that torch be extinguished,” Patterson said. Browne assured him that the regional leaders have accepted the torch and “will never allow it to be extinguished”.

Patterson also challenged the critics that assert Africans should share moral responsibility for the crime against humanity because they were complicit.

“One should not place on a victim the guilt for a crime; so we should stop putting the guilt of the collaborator on the shoulders of the victim. The African continent was the victim of imperial exploitation and slavery and suffered a massive loss. It resulted in a major depopulation of Africa, with its heavy male bias. It destroyed age old political traditions, undermined tribal systems, corrupted both moral and civil practices. In short, it crippled the potential for economic growth and social development,” he said.

He added that the infrastructure established to support trafficking of Africans was not known there before the mass exportation of Africans to the West. From forts along the coast to the floating prisons that transported the captured human beings, he also noted the banking and insurance sector that financed the whole process.

“The ideology of racism and the articulation of superiority and inferiority linked to race and colour were absent in Africa before the trans-Atlantic trade in Africans.”

Patterson said African leaders were induced by intimidation or bribery as well as greed to collaborate in the trade but many leaders opposed vehemently the capture and shipment of their people.

“There is no principle in law which permits the organizers of a criminal enterprise to escape responsibility because others collaborated in carrying out the enterprise. Legal responsibility is not affected by any collaboration,” Patterson added. “It was European nations who conceived the trade, put the enterprise into motion, controlled its operation andwere massively enriched by it.”

CARICOM officials said the objective of the conference was to widen the dialogue and intensify the scientific and popular discourse on the reparations commission’s ten point reparatory justice plan and map out national and regional strategies to advance the case for reparations from Europe. Since CARICOM established the formal committee it has also re-energized the reparations movements on the African continent, the United States and the United Kingdom and has generated international attention.

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Bush and Misick cases similar, claims ex TCI leader

| 13/10/2014 | 52 Comments

(CNS): Michael Misick has called on the countries in the region to take an interest in what he describes as the manipulation of the justice system in the Turks and Caicos Islands and where the UK has removed his and others caught up in the territory’s corruption scandal, right to a jury trial. Misick said that what has happened to him and his political colleagues is similar to the Bush case but he pointed out that because Cayman’s jury system remains in place the justice system worked and exposed what seemed to be “a British government conspiracy” to tarnish the former CI premier and oust him from politics. “His acquittal shows that a justice system made up of a jury of peers works,” the former TCI premier wrote in an article published by the TCI Sun.

In TCI, Misick stated, there was a “modern day coup d'état” where the UK government and its governors were doing everything in their power to tarnish his and his political colleagues names. He said the law and the cnstitution had been changed in an attempt to prevent them from getting a fair jury trial.

“I believe that if it is right to have a jury trial in the Cayman Islands it must also be right to allow a jury of our peers to judge our guilt or innocence here in Turks and Caicos Islands,” he said. “I believe the justice system here is controlled and manipulated by Helen Garlick, SIPT and others for a specific outcome of their creation,” he added as he spoke about the investigation team which has been pursuing various allegations of corruption against Misick as well as other politicians and local business people for several years.

“They seem to get whatever they want; both civil and criminal. The verdict of Mr. Bush illustrates that the justice system can work in a British overseas territory if it is not tampered with by external whims and fancies, namely the British government and their appointed British Governors,” Misick wrote as he congratulated Bush on his acquittal from corruption related charges.

He asked regional countries, Jamaica and Barbados in particular where he said the local judges were from to examine the removal of the right to a trial by jury which Misick described as a “long standing mechanism geared for dispensing true justice”. He said its removal was undemocratic.

“It is no coincidence that democratically elected leaders of British overseas territories have been faced with unfounded corruption charges and the people of the Cayman Islands, once given a chance through the jury system have exposed this British Government Conspiracy. Here in the Turks and Caicos Islands we are desperately in need of an independent judiciary.”

Despite indicating connections between the situation faced by himself and his colleagues, the Bush and the Misick et al cases are different.

The corruption investigations in TCI stemmed from a report which had identified systemic corruption in the country in 2008 which led to the suspension of the country’s constitution and direct British rule for over two years. Many local politicians and business people were sucked into the wide investigation and Misick fled the country. He was eventually arrested and then extradited from Brazil and is now awaiting trial.

The case in TCI relates to whether or not large sums of money given as political donations by various businessmen and developers in the TCI as well as the sale of crown land amounted to corruption and was illegal.

Bush was charged with misconduct and abuse of office after he used his government credit card to withdraw cash from ATMs and take cash advances from casinos in to gamble on slot machines while travelling on overseas trips in his capacity as premier. Having denied any criminality or wrong doing Bush was cleared by a jury and despite admitting to using his government gold card in casinos, he said the case against him was a conspiracy because of the way it was manipulated. Bush also said his well-publicised arrest under suspicion of theft as well as corruption amounted to trumped up allegations as no theft charges were ever brought.

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CIG can save cash as Union Jack gets to stay

| 19/09/2014 | 39 Comments

(CNS): The local government doesn’t have to worry about finding the budget to replace its Union Jacks as the flag has survived after Scottish voters elected to remain in the Union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The historic independence referendumwas not quite as close as had been anticipated during the last few weeks of voting where the “Yes” campaign to independence appeared to have gathered pace. Nevertheless, over 1.6m Scots voted to leave the United Kingdom when the 32 council areas counted their votes through the night. The final result was split at 55.3% saying ‘No” to 44.7%. Twenty-eight out of the 32 council areas votedto remain in the union, leaving just four in favour of independence.

Following the poll result, Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond conceded defeat but pointed out that the number of people who voted for independence showed the scale of support for change.

While David Cameron believed the result settled the issue for a generation he said there would be changes in the political union for both Scotland and England, including the possibility that MP’s sitting in Westminster will not be able to vote on tax and benefit issues directly impacting England.

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Meade defeated in Montserrat election

| 12/09/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Following an election in one of the UK’s smallest overseas territories, the incumbent premier Reuben T Meade, leader of the Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP), has been ousted from office. Meade has conceded defeat to the leader of the People’s Democratic Party (PDM), Donaldson Romeo, and congratulated him on a “well fought battle”, according to regional media reports. Speaking on the island's radio station Friday morning, Romeo said he was looking at a “convincing victory” for the party and appealed for a united Montserrat as the new government takes over the task of rebuilding the island, which was battered by a volcano some 17 years ago. Romeo said that there was nothing set out in the campaign manifesto that his party could notachieve.

Located in the Leeward Islands and part of the Lesser Antilles, Montserrat is less than ten miles long and seven miles wide. There are less than 4,000 eligible voters who vote for a national slate with nine votes.

Meade, who is the father of Ben Meade, CITN’s news director here in Cayman, said it had been an interesting election campaign as he congratulated the PDM.

As well as representatives from the two parties, there were 13 independents among the 31 candidates who ran for office. The election was observed by a four-member team from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).

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Caribbean ganja tourism up for debate

| 10/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Marijuana tourism is set to be debated at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s (CTO) State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) next week. Richard Kildare, the deputy chief executive officer of Jamaica’s first medical marijuana company, will lead off debate on the notion or reality of marijuana tourism. Rory Johnston, a PhD student at the faculty of health sciences at Simon Fraser University in Canada, will present on the ethical and legal implications, as well as the risks associated with medical tourism. “This presentation will provide an overview of the key challenges that medical tourism poses to the operation of equitable health systems,” Johnston said. Read more and comment on CNS Business

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