Archive for October 21st, 2009

Cops and kids tackle bullying

| 21/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Aiming to tackle the problem of bullying as early as possible West Bay Area Commander Chief Inspector Howell went to talk to students at the John A. Cumber Primary School, on Tuesday. Pleased with the level of participation, CI Howell said bullying is one of the many problems that children often have to deal with at school and she wanted to show them different ways of addressing the issue other than through violence. Accompanied by neighbourhood police officer PC Devon Bailey the two cops spoke about what bullying means and the effects it can have.


The officers explained to the children and teachers about what constitutes bullying, how bullying effects the recipient, how to stop being bullied or being the bully and what the responsibilities are of teachers, school counselors, social workers and police in addressing this issue.

 “The session was very interactive as we got the children involved in lively discussion. It was amazing that these children do know what bullying is all about and how it can make a person feel; more importantly what they can do about it,” added CI Howell.

They were told by the Chief Inspector that whatever measures are taken to tackle bullying one option must never be violence. They must not be afraid to tell someone what is happening to them.

She also said that on Thursday 22 October she will be meeting with the year 4 students to be interviewed by the children on leadership and to provide them with useful information to assist them in becoming Cayman’s future leaders.

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Security is cost effective

| 21/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With crime hitting the headlines day after day, local security firms are finding themselves advising more and more people on how to keep safe. Island Electronics Security & Monitoring, Ltd. (IEL) said that the police can’t do it alone and people need to take responsibility to protect themselves and their property. With advances in technology, the firm says that modern security systems are far more affordable than people think and no longer something exclusive to those who don’t have to worry about their budget.


“In the end, can you afford not to consider your safety and the safety of your family?” Vangie Hunter office manager asked on the eve of the firm’s appearance at the Chamber’s Expo.

Island Electronics Security & Monitoring, Ltd. (IEL) is a Caymanian that boasts 23 years of experience in state-of-the-art installations and monitoring. “The common misconception is that security systems are only accessible to the very rich,” said Hunter.  “There are so many different options available on the market these days suiting a wide range of budgets, that no home or business need do without the necessary protection.”

The firm also offers evaluations which include a comprehensive security plan and suggestions that address possible weaknesses in the property which can be easily rectified. Hunter also noted that the firm can protect hoes and business against fire and other damage as well as theft. Sensors, alarms and video surveillance equipment can pinpoint problems and emergencies and provide immediate, sometimes lifesaving, alerts. 

“Business owners may be surprised to learn just how far fire and security technology has advanced.  IEL’s line of fire products do not just include individual smoke alarms – they can also offer fully integrated systems where all sensors are linked via a comprehensive database that notes their precise position in the building so that should a fire occur, the location and status of the threat can be instantly identified,” added Hunter. “Video surveillance allows you to view and record all sections of your building at all times with ease, particularly as the fuzzy product of yesteryear has been replaced with crisp, crystal clear displays.”   

The firm said the right security and monitoring systems can help businesses assess employee habits, keep an eye on suspicious behavior and lower liability and insurance payments.  

Hunter noted that with the increase in burglaries and aggravated burglaries over the last six months, people need to be far more aware of how vulnerable they are to crime. “Insecure properties, back doors that can be jimmied open, and glass windows are prime targets for thieves,” Hunter explained adding that sadly there is a greater risk of occupants suffering a physical attack if they encounter the intruder.

“I urge everyone to consider increasing their security measures to counteract this present blight on our society,” Hunter said. “Peace of mind is priceless.”

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Robbers caught on camera

| 21/10/2009 | 150 Comments

(CNS): The police have now released a number of pictures of the two men who committed an armed robbery at Margaritaville restaurant last Friday 16 October at around 8:15 in the morning. The RCIPS is asking anyone who may know or think they recognize these men to please come forward and speak to them. The two men entered the restaurant armed with a gun and a knife and after threatening two employees with the weapons they made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, which CNS understands to be in excess of $20,000. In other crime news, police said that they have arrested man who had broken into a shop on Shedden Road in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Police said if anyone has any information regarding the men who were involved in the Margaritaville robbery regarding their whereabouts or any other information there are several ways in which they can pass that information on. They can reach George Town detectives on 949-4222, people can speak with an officer, alternatively they can leave information on an anonymous voicemail service by calling 949-7777 or they can call Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).

Meanwhile, a 46-year-old man was arrested in the early hours of this morning after a report of an attempted burglary on Shedden Road, George Town. 911 received the call just before 1:00 am that someone was attempting to break into Howell’s Shoe Shop. Officers attended and found that the steel bars had been removed from a rear window. Upon further investigation the suspect was found still inside the premises. He was arrested on suspicion of burglary and transported to George Town Police Station, where he remains in custody, police said.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Cop patrols stepped up

| 21/10/2009 | 31 Comments

(CNS): Groups of police officers were highly visible on the streets of George Town today as the cops got out of their cars and patrolled on foot. Police Commissioner David Baines explained that the initiative of a more visible and constant officer presence at key positions on the island was designed to prevent crime and intercept criminals more quickly when offences occur, as well as provide public reassurance. The senior officer also confirmed that he had already responded to the LoGB’s request on Monday to meet with the members of the Legislative Assembly and had updated them on the status of the recent murder, robbery and burglary investigations.

Baines said he attended the Legislative Assembly and met with the leader of government business, Cabinet and the opposition on Monday afternoon at 1:00pm. Besides offering a detailed update on specific inquiries, he said he also explored additional action that could help address some of the fundamental problems the police face in their efforts to tackle crime. He said he had asked about approaching the governor, the attorney general and the UK government to secure urgent legislation that would permit witness evidence to be given with anonymity before court and the need to secure judge only trials in cases where there is a potential threat to jurors.

Baines also made an appeal for those with information to come forward directly or via Crime Stoppers to give information on those they believe have firearms or suspected of engaging in robberies to be identified. Additionally they can leave information on an anonymous voicemail service by calling 949-7777 or they can call Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). “I guarantee those giving information will have their information held confidentially,” Baines stressed.

Speaking about the new high visibility policing, the commissioner said people would be seeing more officers walking the streets. “The public have a right to expect police to be on the streets and preventing crime, that is a priority, and whilst I have had to divert staff from other areas, you will see more police around the island,” he told the public and explained that some officers had been moved from some of the support roles within the service to compliment their patrol colleagues.

“In addition, targeted operations are on-going to confront those known to us who are responsible for crime. The increased activity will continue until we have stopped the spike in crime and arrested those responsible.”

Four of this year’s seven murders have occurred since Baines took up the top policejob and there has also been a serious spike in robberies and street muggings involving guns and knifes in the last few months, including the recent Margaritaville and Quik-Cash heists. Although police said they had arrested two men in connection with the Quik-Cash robbery yesterday, they have not yet stated if the men have been charged.

While the commissioner updated MLAs on Monday, the public is still waiting to hear if any arrests have been made in connection with the fatal shooting of Marcus Ebanks in West Bay on 8 July, Carlos Webster in Next Level on 9 September, or Fabian Reid, who was shot and killed in Newlands last Tuesday evening, 13 October.

Police have, however, charged three men with the murder of Omar Samuels, who was killed by a fatal gunshot wound to his leg in George Town on 4 July. Those men have appeared in court, but given the sensitivity of the case, Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsey-Hale has ruled that all the hearings in connection with it will be held behind closed doors until the trial.    

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A creeping fear

| 21/10/2009 | 14 Comments

I was robbed on Grand Cayman this past weekend. Sometime between the time I went to bed around 11 pm on Saturday night (October 17th) and the time I woke at 5 am on Sunday morning, at least one person cut the screen on the patio adjacent to the living room where I’m staying in Snug Harbour and entered the townhouse, stealing cash and a laptop belonging to the University College of the Cayman Islands.

Having just been part of the Silent Witness March on Saturday afternoon in George Town on the anniversary of Estella Scott-Roberts’ terrible death, I know that the matter could have been much, much worse. Perhaps it’s only because I’m so recently displaced onto Grand Cayman from the peaceful Brac that I wasn’t as emotionally prepared for a home invasion as I suppose I should have been.

In fact, I really thought I handled the matter quite well: cancelled my credit cards, alerted the UCCI authorities about the missing laptop, gave statements to the police, cleaned up the fingerprint dust after the CID team left, reassured all my friends from the Brac that I was just fine…

But then today (Monday) I had to return to the townhouse to retrieve a textbook that I had forgotten. Upon entering the dwelling, I saw that the curtains covering the sliding glass door to the back patio were open.

I had left them closed.

I stood there, wide-eyed and speechless. Yet I honestly felt as though I were screaming. Panic constricted my lungs, threatening to suffocate me.

I don’t think it took me long to remember that the realtor had called me earlier to let me know that prospective renters would be viewing the townhouse that morning. That realization allowed me to begin breathing and reclaim my senses.

But it’s now three hours later, and I still haven’t completely shaken the fear.

Other women have confided in me today that they too are living in fear, that burglaries and home invasions are much more frequent on Grand Cayman than the news media have indicated, and that petty crime is almost an expected fact of life in every district of the island. When the fingerprint detectives left my dwelling on Sunday morning, they were on their way to East End to investigate yet another burglary.

I left the United States to get away from that kind of madness. I have resided on Cayman Brac since 2004, repeatedly shocked by the crime reports from Grand Cayman, but oblivious to the creeping pervasiveness of wrongdoing on that island.

Just as the Agriculture Department has vigilantly worked to keep the Pink Mealybug from spreading from Grand Cayman to the Brac, I pray that the police and residents of Cayman Brac will work to keep this casual expectation of criminal activity from spreading to the Brac.

I’ve recently begun hearing about petty thefts beginning to emerge on the Brac and I caution all the residents of the Brac to please be aware that it’s a slippery slope. The small thefts may seem too insignificantto bother with today, but ANY casual attitude toward wrongdoing grows and festers with the passage of time.

Until one day, you awake to discover that your island paradise has been transformed from a safe haven into a battleground.

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Tourism product lacks Cayman touch

| 21/10/2009 | 37 Comments

(CNS): There was very little disagreement last night when the Department of Tourism road show visited West Bay to talk to the people of the community about where they see this pillar of the Cayman economy going. Tourism today lacks the real Cayman touch, the small gathering of West Bayers agreed. They said that it was Caymanians that had created the successful tourism business because of their unique friendliness and approach to guests, but now it was owned, managed and served by foreigners. They lamented the fact that some visitors who come to the Cayman Islands now may never even encounter a single Caymanian during their stay.

Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said in his short opening statement at the meeting that there was a need to develop new strategies to move Cayman’s tourism product forward. He asked the audience to speak their minds about what needed to be done to tackle the many challenges. Bush lamented what he saw as the problem of divergence in the sector and the lack of a common goal.

“Over the years there has been no co-ordinated approach,” he said, adding that divers see Cayman in terms of a dive destination, those serving the cruise ship passengers see it from that position, and so on, with everyone in the industry wanting something different to serve the interests of their part of the sector. “That is exactly what we do not want, “Bush said. “We want to shape a strategy that will create a shared vision.”

However, it was apparent that the shared visions among the small crowd that had turned out on the wet evening was the pressing need to find a way of encouraging Caymanians back into the sector. The discussion forum was directed by Steve Yastrow of Yastrow & Company, a Chicago marketing company that has been commissioned to help the DoT develop new strategies for the future.

The people at the meeting were a mixed group of those working directly in the tourism business, those who had retired from the industry, as well as civil servants and people from other sectors. They all, however, made the same point that Caymanians need to be on the frontline. When Yastrow asked if work-permit holders could offer the unique ‘Cayman Touch’ if they were properly trained and inducted, the West Bayers on the whole disagreed and said that it was not something that could not be taught but was a natural unique part of being Caymanian.

They agreed that there was a fundamental lack of knowledge among work permit holders which had to be addressed, but the real problem was the complete lack of Cayman faces and Caymanians present on the tourism frontline.

Paul Rivers, a former independent candidate in the recent elections who works in the tourism industry, explained what had happened to Cayman’s tourism product and lamented the drive for money that had taken over.  “The Cayman people developed the tourism product, long before we began importing cheap labour,” he said. “People who used to come and visit connected with the Cayman people and became family. We need to make the tourism industry more appealing to Caymanians so they can make a decent living and then they can come back.”

Others in the audience agreed that Caymanians were being excluded from their own tourism business because of unfair work practices and poor salary levels. A number of people noted that as most of the hotels, condominiums and tour operations were owned by foreign conglomerates who had turned to cheap foreign labour, Caymanians had in turn, turned away from the sector as they were simply no longer able to get their fair share from the tourism business coming on to the island.

“So few Caymanians own tourism related businesses now that we are losing more and more of our own product every day,” one person lamented.

The drive from overseas investors to just make money had seen the Cayman touch fall by the way side and the increased and constant pace of development had changed Cayman into some other destination, more akin to Miami Beach. The overpowering impact of cruise tourism on stayover tourism was also noted as a concern. One Cayman taxi driver noted how overnight guests did not like the huge impact that the cruisers had on George Town. However, others suggested that if George Town was pedestrianised the two groups of tourists could probably co-exist more easily.

The tourism road show will continue on its tour of the districts this week and will be in Bodden Town this evening, Wednesday 21 October.

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Tip of hedge fund iceberg

| 21/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(Independent): When the FBI arrested Raj Rajaratnam last week, a chill went down the spines of more than a few of his rival hedge fund managers. There but for the grace of the gods ..Insiders at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Wall Street watchdog, and at the Justice Department say that there are more civil charges and more criminal prosecutions in the offing. Hedge fund managers need to learn to spot the difference between scouring every possible source for trading ideas, and out-and-out insider dealing, and they had better learn fast.

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Jack calls for cuts & taxes

| 21/10/2009 | 47 Comments

(CNS): The government needs to get on with the studies it has committed to undertake as part of the negotiations with the UK in order to cut public spending and implement new taxes, Governor Stuart Jack has said. Despite the outright rejection by the elected members of the government, the opposition and the financial community of direct taxes, Jack says he has been struck by how many people in the business community are now seeing the need for some form of direct taxation. Pointing to Tim Ridley’s recent articles regarding property tax, the governor suggests this may be an equitable choice for Cayman.

 “The government in Cayman now needs to get on with the two studies that were agreed in this correspondence: of the public service (and the scope for cuts) and of possible new taxation,” the governor writes on his blog.  “I have been struck how many people in the business community are now seeing the need for some form of direct taxation, though not many are saying so publicly.” He noted articles by Ridley, the former chair of CIMA, which have advocated a property tax and which also called for people to stop bashing the UK. 

The governor then stated that he had also engaged in conversations with “quite a few businessmen”, though he did not say how many, in the financial services industry who, he said, would support a property tax as more equitable and less likely to harm the key financial industry than the alternatives.

So far, the governor has not yet received any comments on his blog despite calls from Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush last week for the financial sector to “get on the blogs” and counter arguments about direct taxation and other things that could undermine the development of financial services.

Bush has made it clear that he wishes to avoid property, income or sales tax at all costs as it would fundamentally alter the basic principles of Cayman’s economy. He has said he aims to ensure government finances will comply with the Public Management and Finance Law by the end of this fiscal year, so that Cayman will not have to seek permission from the UK for any further borrowing.

In his latest correspondence to the LoGB, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s minister with responsibility for Overseas Territories, Chris Bryant, wrote that he still hoped that Cayman would extend its revenue base to include some form of progressive taxation. However, Cayman is now free to access the borrowing which government says it has secured, though the banks, which will be loaning the CIG a total of $275 million, have not yet been named.

The LoGB has agreed to do a review of the civil service by the end of the year and commission an independent assessment of potential revenue raising measures. However, if the government can remain within the confines of the PMFL for 2009/10, it may not have to act on any recommendations for direct taxation. Bush has stated on a number of occasions since his election to office in May that his goal is to increase revenue for government coffers by growing the financial services sector and encouraging more inward investment and development to counter the need to impose direct taxes.

All the recent correspondence between Chris Bryant and McKeeva Bush is now on the FCO website.

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Exploration of ocean’s depths

| 21/10/2009 | 1 Comment

(Astrobiology Magazine): This October and November, a team of oceanographers and astrobiologists has set out to explore one of the deepest points in the Caribbean Sea. Their goal is to map the region and search for life in the extreme seafloor environment. The study area in the western Caribbean Sea is south of Cuba and Jamaica, and close to the Cayman Islands. Also known as the Mid-Cayman Spreading Center, this is one of Earth’s deepest and slowest-spreading mid-ocean ridges. Such regions are where two of Earth’s tectonic plates are ripped apart and new material wells up from the Earth’s interior.

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UK Chancellor cuts Isle of Man budget by 24%

| 21/10/2009 | 9 Comments

(The Guardian): Alistair Darling, the chancellor, has cut the Isle of Man’s budget by 24% in a dramatic move that could threaten the tax haven’s economic viability. The Treasury confirmed that it had slashed £140m off the Isle of Man’s £572m annual budget by sharply reducing a 400-year-old customs revenue-sharing agreement. Treasury officials acted to rein in the Irish Sea island when it became apparent the UK was, in effect, subsidising it heavily through the customs agreement. The government informed the Isle of Man’s leaders of its intention to slash the subsidy four weeks ago.

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