Archive for October 7th, 2008

Google helps prevent drunk emailing

| 07/10/2008 | 0 Comments

(The Independent): Google webmail service Gmail has announced that it is introducing a new feature to help users prevent themselves from sending inappropriate emails when drunk. Once activated, "Mail Goggles", as the service is known, prompts users to answer a series of mathematical questions before they are able to send an email. Go to article

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1 in 4 mamals face extinction

| 07/10/2008 | 0 Comments

(TImes Online): One in four of the world’s mammals is threatened with extinction and half are in decline, the most comprehensive assessment so far has found. Scientists who carried out the five-year survey of the 5,487 known mammal species described their findings that 1,139 face dying out as “bleak and depressing” and said that it was likely to get worse. Go to article.

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Poverty goals threatened

| 07/10/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The current financial crisis is among many other things also threatening the efforts to slash poverty, hunger, disease and other socio-economic ills by 2015, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) according to the United Nations. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro has warned countries, in a public statement to the General Assembly’s Second Committee , that the current financial crisis, which is impacting all economies and exacerbating the suffering of millions, is a serious threat to those poverty eradication targets.

“The financial crisis only exacerbates the hardship already being caused by higher prices of food and energy, especially in low-income countries, fomenting social and political unease,” Migiro said to the committee, which deals with economic and financial matters. “Despite the recent announcement by the World Bank that considerable progress has been made in reducing poverty and hunger, our work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals is clearly at risk.” she cautioned.

Migiro told delegates that they were meeting at a time of financial turmoil, and that urgent action was needed to avert a recession, including through stimulus packages and measures to stabilize financial and foreign exchange markets.

In the midst of the current financial woes, “achieving the MDGs by 2015 continues to be our major development challenge,” the Deputy Secretary-General said. Although the progress made so far towards the Goals has been uneven, it is still possible to achieve them by the target date, she added. Noting that Africa remains the region with the greatest challenges ahead, particularly against the backdrop of much higher food and energy prices and climate change, she called for increasing and better coordinating aid, reducing agricultural subsidies in developed countries, and investing more in infrastructure.

“Let’s make sure the financial crisis does not divert our efforts,” she appealed to Member States. “If we are to take away any lesson from the multiple crises we face, it is that delaying action only makes matters worse.”

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Top cops’ actions justified

| 07/10/2008 | 12 Comments

(CNS): Serious questions about the validity of the special police investigation have been raised by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie in a fifty-one page ruling explaining his reasons for denying the investigators a warrant to search the homes of Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan (left) and Chief Superintendent John Jones (right) who remain suspended from duty. Smellie also states that there is no evidence that the senior officers committed a crime.

The ruling made by the Chief Justice on 4 April of this year, in a document which has found its way into the public domain, sets out the details which instigated the investigation into police corruption in the Cayman Islands led by Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger.

It states that both Kernohan and Jones were acting on good faith and appear to have had genuine concerns that the Royal Cayman islands Police Service (RCIPS) was at risk when they entertained accusations made by Lyndon Martin against Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis and Desmond Seales, the publisher of Cayman Net News. Although the special investigators have said that they have found Martin’s accusations to be unfounded, Justice Smellie states that the two senior cops had no reason not to believe those accusations of corruption and had a duty to investigate.

Based on detailed research and analysis of the law, the judge said that Bridger’s ‘quest for truth’ was nothing more than “a fishing expedition” and that there was no objective for thinking that the senior officers had deliberately committed a crime. He states that because the senior officers had genuine and urgent cause for concern, believing there could be a serious risk to officers, they had done nothing wrong in trying to find evidence to support those suspicions.

Bridger’s request for a warrant centres on an alleged break-in to the newspaper offices, where both Martin and his colleague John Evans worked, that Kernohan allegedly condoned but which the judge didn’t consider unlawful.

 “Given the circumstances that presented themselves to the Commissioner of Police and Chief Superintendent John Jones at the time when they encouraged or enlisted Martins and/ or Evans to enter the Newspaper premises there is no reasonable basis for concluding, on careful application of the law, that the Com  Pol or Ch Supt Jones committed any criminal offence,” ruled Smellie.

Throughout the ruling the Chief Justice suggests that the case has little merit and that Bridger seems to have been swayed by Ennis’ accusations that Kernohan et al were acting against the Deputy Commissioner because he was a threat to the Police Commissioner’s position. The Chief Justice says that Ennis stated to investigators that he believed Kernohan “opportunistically seized on Martin’s unreliable allegations in the hope of finding something to discredit him (DCP Ennis).”

The Chief Justice noted that this became pivotal to the application for a warrant but that there was nothing to suggest that Kernohan or Jones had any reason not to believe the accusations made by Martin and were acting in the public interest.

“If at least the basic intent to commit the offence is not present no offence is committed,” the Chief Justice stated. He went on to say that even if the allegations later turned out to be unfounded the senior officers had a duty to investigate them and Chief Justice Smellie made it clear he considered that the officers did so with caution.

“In all the circumstances then prevailing and the apparent caution exercised in the taking of the decision which they took, the Com. Pol’s and Ch. Supt. Jones’ actions could hardly be described as unrestrained, let alone despotic or tyrannical. Nor if the state of things were as they were apparently led to believe, could their actions be described as ‘likely to cause harm or injury’ to anyone.”

Moreover, the ruling indicates that Larry Covington, who is the UK police advisor to the Overseas Territories, Governor Stuart Jack and Attorney General Samuel Bulgin were all briefed by the Police Commissioner every step of the way as he sought advice regarding his concerns that there could be a genuine and dangerous leak in the police service.

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CMA still wants rights as act

| 07/10/2008 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Stating in a short preamble that the Cayman Islands is a Christian country with a unique culture and history, the government’s draft Bill of Rights is now public, and while the CMA says it addresses some concerns, the church community would still be more comfortable with a separate act that is not enshrined in the constitution. (Left Pastor Al Ebanks)

The Bill, as expected, covers the basic fundamental rights found in most constitutions including the right to life, liberty, freedom from torture and slavery. It also aspires to offer protections to the child and the environment. The Bill sets out the rights to freedom of conscience and expression, protecting religious belief, the right to worship on any day of the week and the right to preach one’s religion.

The Bill defines the right to marriage between a man and a woman only and where it protects people from discrimination it lists race, colour creed, political opinion, religion, age, disability, sex as in gender and place of origin, but not sexual orientation.

The government has said this is a working document and there will be changes to its content before a final Bill is approved, but last week Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said that the contents of the Bill had been well received by the delegates. CNS has contacted the HRC who have said they will offer their opinion shortly; Pastor Al Ebanks, Chair of the CMA, however already told CNS that while he sees it as a genuine attempt to address the concerns of the community it is not a cure all.

“It goes a long way to address some of the concerns but the language used is still important and it doesn’t provide comfort to us in all respects,” he said.

Clause 20 of the document explains that any incompatibility with the Bill in domestic legislation can be interpreted by the courts but not struck down by them and it will be the job of parliament to decide how to remedy incompatibilities. Ebanks notes that while the clause preventing the courts from striking down domestic legislation is important, once a law is seen to be incompatible the Legislature will have to address it as the constitution is still superior to domestic law.

“Lets take the marriage law, the courts may not have the right to strike it down but if a judge points out that it is incompatible then what is parliament going to do?” asked the pastor.

Although Ebanks states that he would still prefer the bill as an act of parliament, he said he did not feel from the talks that the UK would be willing to see that happen.

At the opening of the talks on Monday 29 September, Ian Hendry, the leader of the UK delegation, made it clear that the UK was open to discussion on all issues but a framework to protect the rights of citizens would be fundamental he said.

“We are ready to explore and discuss any proposals the Cayman Islands delegation might advance,” said Hendry. “The United Kingdom has a strong interest in the inclusion of an up-to-date fundamental rights chapter in the Cayman Islands Constitution.”  He referred to Megg Munn’s (Minister for the Overseas Territories) letter of 3 April 2008 to the Leader of Government Business which said the British Government would not agree to a new Cayman Islands Constitution that did not include an up-to-date human rights chapter. 

During last week’s press briefing Hendry said that, while he was aware of the concerns surrounding the Bill of Rights, enshrining it in the constitution was important and he thought the proposed draft was a step forward towards addressing some of the concerns. Hendry also commended the government for having civil representation at the table such as the CMA and the Human Rights Committee, with whom Hendry seemed to find sympathy. He noted that the desire of the HRC to discuss the horizontal application of rights was a sensible one.

However, Pastor Ebanks had concerns regarding that and said CMA wanted to see vertical application only. He felt it would be easy to define what is and what is not a government entity. He said that CMA had found no support in the community for a horizontal application and it was important that the Bill of Rights clearly defined government bodies in the language.

The HRC raised the issue of applying rights horizontally as well as vertically because of the ambiguity of some quasi-government bodies. Charities and Church schools which are private entities still receive government funding but under a vertical application they would not be included in the Bill of Rights and would be free to discriminate.





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