Archive for July 7th, 2010

Teen’s murder trial set

| 07/07/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A sixteen year old boy who is facing murder charges for the killing of Marcus Duran, who was gunned down in Maliwinas Way on 11 March intends to plead not guilty to the charge and will face trial in November of this year. The teen who cannot be named as he is a juvenile was transferred from the Summary Court to the Grand Court during this morning’s opening session. The boy who appeared before the presiding judge, Justice Charles Quin has not yet entered an official plea as the indictment against him has not been presented. A number of other serious cases also came before the Grand Court opening session on Wednesday (7 July) including murders, attempted murders and a kidnapping.

Another teenager, Justin Ramoon (18) entered a plea of not guilty to attempted murder and not guilty to possession of an unlicensed firearm in connection with a shooting on 21 February. Ramoon is accused of trying to kill Sven Connor in the area of the Fairbanks trailer park in George Town.
Justin Manderson who is also only 18 and facing attempted murder charges for shooting Andy Barnes, made his first appearance in Grand Court, but no trial date has yet been set and Manderson is expected back in court on 16 July.
Barnes who received a gun shot wound to the arm at Kelly’s Bar, West Bay, on the evening of 24 June is the father of 4 year old Jeremiah Barnes who was shot and killed at a West Bay Gas station in February. Police have charged Devon Anglin with that crime, but his case has not yet made the Grand Court listings.  
Raziel Jeffers, 26 who is now facing two murder charges also appeared before Justice Quin though no trial dates were fixed. Jeffers is accused of murdering Marcus Ebanks on Bonaventure Road, West Bay, on 8 July 2009; he also faces a charge of attempted murder of 14 year old Adryan Powell who has been paralysed as a result of the gun shot injuries he received. In addition, Jeffers is facing a second murder charge for the fatal shooting of Damion Ming on 25 March 2010 in Birch Tree Hill, West Bay.
Four men also appeared on two separate indictments in connection with a kidnapping which occurred in March. Richard Hurlstone and Allan Kelly are due to appear in the court again on 16 July and have not yet had trial dates fixed. Wespie Mullings and Charles Webster also appeared in connection with the same kidnapping but only Webster has had a trail date fixed for October 2010.
The four 17-year-olds accused of armed robbery at the Domino’s pizza parlour, Savannah, in June, also appeared before the Grand Court but with no indictment prepared by the crown the three girls, Julissa Avila, Addie Haylock, and Anastasia Watson were remanded to Fairbanks prison, and Ariel McLaughlin to Eagle House, the teens will return to court on 6 August.
 
 

Continue Reading

Phony debates and the National Conservation Law

| 07/07/2010 | 25 Comments

I’ve been following the National Conservation Law since its early gestation. Now that we are (once again) looking at the hopeful possibility of its coming of age in the legislature, I see signs that the discussion is deteriorating into what I call a phony debate. Here are a couple of examples to explain what I mean by that:

Remember when the tobacco industry was first faced with the realization that smoking causes cancer? It seems incredible in hindsight but the industry’s primary concern was to prevent that discovery from damaging their sales and profits. They achieved this for a while by manufacturing doubt. They hired companies who spread misinformation, wrote articles biased toward the tobacco industry and quasi-scientific articles paid to criticise the original research, exploiting a preference the media have to report ‘balanced’ viewpoints from both sides of a ‘debate’. But the debate wasn’t real. Both sides knew the truth.

It worked for them for a while. The broader public started to doubt if smoking really did cause cancer. But eventually the body of evidence grew so huge that even manufactured doubt couldn’t hide it. So then the regulation and court cases began, and we are left wondering how many avoidable deaths were not avoided because of the time that phony debate went on.

The same thing is happening now with the so-called global warming debate, in which some of the same manufactured doubt contractors are using those same techniques. The climate change facts are obvious – really. The denialists are just spreading confusion to try to bury the facts because they don’t like the implications of having to deal with them.

What these two issues have in common is that the fundamental opinion of the people opposing action could not be stated in public debate. The tobacco industry couldn’t say that they valued their profits above human lives. The global warming deniers can’t say they value short term prosperity above the long-term viability of our planet and human civilization.

To bring that back home, opponents of the National Conservation Law can’t easily say they just don’t want any more environmental legislation in the Cayman Islands, because they know that is a minority position.

So instead of hearing that honest but publically unacceptable statement, we are hearing arguments about the details. We are also hearing re-interpretations and even downright misinformation, which both get unmerited currency because few spend the time to read the law and check out what it really says. And we are hearing a debate about small details when the real issue is whether we are going to have a conservation law or not.

To me the situation is simple. The majority in the Cayman Islands would like to see comprehensive environmental legislation passed. There’s plenty of evidence that this is so. Even as far back as the Vision 2008 meetings it was obvious. The same weight of opinion came out in the subsequent development plan revision meetings and tribunal. Look at the CNS poll, where 75% of 410 respondents now say the law is long overdue and should be passed immediately. Or think back to the upsurge of public concern for George Town’s Ironwood Forest.

Here’s why passing this law matters: existing legislation barely papers over the cracks. We have a Marine Conservation Law, which was a fight at the time but has paid off handsomely (even the stone throwers will admit that now). We have a National Trust law, which has allowed privately raised funds and some thoughtful grants of crown land to establish a few key protected areas – again, a vital investment in our future. So there’s two big cracks partly filled and at least primed. But the rest of the wall is falling off in chunks.

Our Department of Environment doesn’t exist in any law. Our endangered species aren’t mentioned in any law. Barkers “National Park” isn’t a national park because there is no such thing in our laws. Someone could plan to bulldoze over and pave a proposed national park crammed with uniquely Caymanian endangered species and not one environmental expert in the entire Cayman Islands Government would have any law-based authority to address it.

So why isn’t this a no-brainer for any government? Because, perhaps, there is a vocal minority trying to drown out the silent majority?

Let’s not have unrealistic expectations for this law or make the mistake of thinking it’s in some way a replacement for the planning law or government policy. It is only an environment law. We should have had one years and years ago. We need it now more than ever. But it won’t happen if those that support it don’t make their views heard.

It’s easy. Email the Department of Environment at DOE@gov.ky and just tell them if you’d like the law to pass (or not, if that is your view). Say as much or as little as you like – one sentence is enough.

Or bring up the comment form at on the DoE website (click here) and fill it out (best to include your name, though that’s not required), and just click “submit”. Or write them an old-fashioned letter and mail it to PO Box 486, Grand Cayman KY1-1106.

It doesn’t matter how you do it. It does matter that you DO it.

 

Fred Burton is the director of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme

Continue Reading

Cayman listed in Forbes world’s best “tax havens”

| 07/07/2010 | 2 Comments

(Forbes): Writing for Forbes Richard Murphy of the Tax Justice Network has listed the Cayman Islands among the top ten places in the world for the rich to hide their money. Murphy says even though he has worked for some years trying to prevent the problems caused by what he described as tax havens people still ask him which places are the best to shield your money from taxes. Using the measure of a jurisdictions opacity capability to move money in serious quantities, Murphy came up with his top ten of Delaware, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Cayman Islands, the City of London, Ireland, Bermuda, Singapore, Belgium and Hong Kong.

 

Continue Reading

dms adds to director’s pool for hedge funds

| 07/07/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A local management firm has announced the appointment of a new Caymanian director that will “serve as an independent director of hedge funds and other alternative investment vehicles,” dms Management Ltd. (DMS) has said. Describing itself as the largest management firm in the Cayman Islands focused on the hedge fund industry, dms said Don Ebanks, a former managing director of Ernst & Young, insolvency and restructuring practice, will add to the pool of people offering director’s services through the firm.

 
Before E&Y he was the Head of Compliance of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) where he created the Compliance Division and was instrumental in developing the compliance framework for the CIMA. Prior to this appointment, he served as the Deputy Head of the Investment Services Division of the CIMA.

Ebanks began his career with Coutts & Co. before moving to Barclays Private Bank in the Cayman Islands, serving as a portfolio manager at both institutions. A member of the Cayman Islands Compliance Association, he holds a Master of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario.

 
Don Seymour, DMS Managing Director, said dms was delighted to welcome Ebanks to the team to meet what he said was “growing client demands for the professional fund governance.” He added, “His outstanding capabilities will complement our already exceptional group of directors whom have been internationally recognized as industry leaders by serving some of the most notable names in the hedge fund industry during the last decade. We look forward to his continued outstanding contributions to our client and industry community.”
 
Ebanks said he was very pleased to take up this new role. “DMS has maintained a responsive and entrepreneurial approach to client service throughout its development, and I look forward to preserving and enhancing this ethos. As a Caymanian I am particularly pleased to be associated with this firm which has an ongoing commitment to hiring and developing local professionals seeking a career in corporate governance services.”
 

Continue Reading

Gas hike will trickle down

| 07/07/2010 | 49 Comments

Cayman Islands News Grand Cayman Island headline news, gas prices(CNS): Updated 9am — Following the immediate sting at the gas pumps, the public will begin to feel the impact of the 25 cent fuel duty increase in many other areas over the coming months. From CUC bills to groceries, the price hike is likely to have a wide impact on the cost of living. Although government implemented the duty hike from 1 July, the price increase will not hit the pumps until early next week when the latest oil shipment is distributed to local fuel stations. Gas stations told CNS that, despite pleas from the premier, the wholesalers will be passing on the duty to the retailers. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

CUC confirmed on Tuesday that it expected the mark up to appear on customers’ bills in September. “CUC’s fuel costs are passed through to its customers without any mark-up and appear as a separate line item on CUC bills two months in arrears,” a spokesperson said. “Accordingly, consumers can expect to see an increase on the fuel factor portion of their September bills, which will have an overall impact of an approximate 5½% increase on the total bill, based on current fuel prices.”

Although the local supermarkets have said they will not be increasing prices immediately as a result of the hike, in the coming months it was very unlikely that, given all of the other fee increases, there would not be some impact on prices. Thom Guyton of Kirk’s Supermarket said that as the fuel duty hike was not a direct tax on supermarkets customers won’t see immediate price increases at the till but he warned there would be eventual trickle down.

“This will be one more of many expenses that we have not yet passed on this year,” he noted. “There comes a point, however, when the accumulation will creep up on us and, depending on a number of variables, prices are likely to begin increasing over the coming months.”

Guyton pointed out that it was not just a matter of absorbing the store’s fuel bill hikes but also the cost of delivery and the goods they buy from their suppliers that would eventually determine the price increases.

Despite reassurances from the premier in the LegislativeAssembly recently that the supermarkets would not increase their prices, both Fosters and Hurley’s said they could not be sure what the future held. “We do not know what else will be coming down the line in the way of more increases,” Woody Foster told CNS last month. “We have all taken on a lot of new increases but we are doing our absolute best to not raise prices by finding more ways to reduce expenses. We have been successful so far in finding ways to reduce expenses but that cannot go on forever if fees are going to continue to go up.”

Randy Merren said that while Hurley’s could absorb its CUC bill, the store had no control over the prices it paid local distributors for goods. He also warned that as all the other components that make up the store’s operations costs increase along with the projected inflation numbers this year, he also expected to see price increases later this year.

Al Thompson, President of A. L. Thompson’s, said that there were no immediate plans to increase prices at the island’s biggest hardware store as a result the fuel duty hike, but he noted that the store has always offered free delivery of goods purchased there and the fuel duty increase could ultimately affect that free service.

CNS also contacted the Water Authority, Consolidated Water, Cayman Airways and a number of other commercial entities to ask them if customers would see an impact on the cost of their respective services as a result of the hike but so far they have not responded.

We also contacted Chevron (Texaco) and ExxonMobil (Esso), the local fuel wholesalers, about the price hike, and although we received no comment yet from Chevron, country manager of Esso, Alan Neesome, confirmed that the duty would be imposed once the old inventory was used up. "Esso received a ship on 2nd July," he said "Esso is not in a position to hold off passing on the government’s increase in fuel duty and the government is mistaken in thinking Esso’s earnings are excessive — we have a very modest and reasonable return on our investment in the Cayman Islands."

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly last month, McKeeva Bush called on the distributors not to pass on the duty as he said they already made a significant profit and the government’s take on fuel was small by comparison to the rest of the region.  Bush told his legislative colleagues that the duty payable to government as a percentage of wholesale gasoline costs was around 15% in the Cayman Islands while the regional average was close to 26% per cent.

“The price of fuel has increased over the years but the government’s take has decreased,” he said, in justifying the controversial fuel duty hike. The increase was opposed by all of the opposition members and the independent representative for North Side, all of whom said the hike would be inflationary.

Neesome added that government’s assumptions about the profit margins were flawed and while he empathised with the government’s dilemma, Esso Cayman could not finance the government’s decision to increase fuel import duties.

Continue Reading

Teens denied bail for violent crimes

| 07/07/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The eighteen year old man accused of attempted murder following a West Bay shooting last month has been denied bail. Justin Devon Manderson (left) who appeared before Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsey Hale this week to face charges of attempted murder and possession of unlicensed firearm is accused of shooting Andy Barnes, the father of four year old Jeremiah, who was shot and killed at a West Bay gas station back in February, News 27 reports. Manderson will appear in Grand Court this morning (Wednesday 7 July) as the new court session opens when a trial date will be set.

Meanwhile, the four teenagers charged with armed robbery at a piazza parlour in Savannah last month have also been denied bail. The three 17-year-old girls and one 17 year old boy who will all be tried as adults have passed the Preliminary Inquiry stage and have opted to go straight to trial and will also appear in court Wednesday.
The boy is currently remanded to Eagle House but Cayman does not have a young offenders institute for girls therefore they are being held at Fairbank’s Women’s Prison.

Continue Reading

Robb’n and the Time of Ignorance

| 07/07/2010 | 24 Comments

Gather round one and all for I have another story to tell. Does everyone remember the first chapter in the story of Robb’n in the Hood and The Sullen Men and all of the other folks that inhabit the land of Ya? I hope you do but if you don’t, don’t worry. I will tell you where to find that chapter at the end of today’s story.

Now today’s story is about a very scary time for the freedom loving people of Ya, and a time when Robb’n had a scare as well. You see today’s story begins at a time just after the people of Ya had taken Robb’n on a very long journey through time. They took him all the way from his comfort zone to the year 2010.

Now you might think that travelling to 2010 would not be much of an adventure for Robb’n because most of us live in the year 2010, but for Robb’n it was an ordeal. You see the people of Ya gave Robb’n and The Sullen Men just a little peek at 2010, but Robb’n did not like what he saw. In 2010 there was freedom of information and a free press and oversight by auditors who told the people of Ya how Robb’n spent their money. Those things allowed accountability to thrive, and that was just too horrible for Robb’n to even contemplate. The thought of the people of Ya having access to information regarding how Robb’n spent their money madeRobb’n’s head spin, and it gave his money-loving cronies severe tummy troubles. 2010 also had creatures called journalists and bloggers who scared Robb’n so much that whenever he was around any one of them he would say really silly things in an effort to scare them away – but it didn’t seem to work.

You see Robb’n and his cronies are most comfortable in the Time of Ignorance. In the Time of Ignorance creatures who could bully and rant and roar the way Robb’n could had their way. That meant that they could spend all of the money of Ya exactly how they wanted. In the Time of Ignorance comprehension was not a prerequisite to either ranting or roaring. In fact, as Robb’n had proved beyond any doubt, in the Time of Ignorance one did not have to understand anything if one could rant and roar loud enough.

In the Time of Ignorance nobody dared complain or ask any questions. Not only that, but in the Time of Ignorance nobody recorded or reported on what Robb’n and The Sullen Men and their cronies said, or did, or took for themselves when they thought that no one important was looking. Robb’n wished he could stay in the Time of Ignorance for ever.

Not everybody thought that Ya was a nice place to be in the Time of Ignorance. Some who had nothing to hide actually liked freedom of information and freedom of the press and all that these things meant in 2010. That was a problem for Robb’n. He liked to have lots and lots of poor people working hard and in silence, all so that they could give him their money. You see Robb’n liked it when the poor people paid his really really big salary and the really really big pension that he took at the same time for doing the same job. Robb’n also liked it when the poor people paid for his first class travel, and his servants, and all the bills that ordinary poor people had to pay for themselves.

Robb’n desperately wanted to find a way to make all of the people of Ya live in the Time of Ignorance with him. So Robb’n schemed and schemed a very big scheme. Robb’n schemed to change the law so that he would know who was asking questions about the money he spent. Not only that, he planned to change the law so that he would get more money to spend on himself and other foolish things, all at the same time. Robb’n said to himself; “I am so very very clever. With this change to the law of Ya I will let it be known far and wide that anyone wanting to ask a question will have to pay lots and lots of money first, and then I will punish anyone who still dares to ask a question. So Robb’n ordered the representatives of the people to attend the official meeting place so that he could roar and roar and roar some more about what a wonderful and clever fellow he was.

Robb’n roared at Mr. R. Denn of the Eastern Area and he roared at Mr. Al Denn of the Area of George and he roared at all the other members of the Official No Position. But he did not roar about the Denn that the people asked about most – that was Maybe Denn. You see, every time the people heard that Robb’n was about to do something terrible to them they would say, “Maybe Denn the Official No Position willdo something” – but they didn’t.

Robb’n roared at Mickey Mouse and everyone else that had dared to ask what had happened to the poor people’s money. He even roared at the very nice Wigged Lady who tries to referee the Blame and Inane Banter Game that Robb’n and the Official No Position play at the official meeting place. He roared about journalists and bloggers and people who criticized his extravagance, his Christmas lights and the silly silly things he says. He roared at people who make funny faces and he roared at the thousands of others who Robb’n claimed were responsible for everything he did that the people did not like. He roared about how Ignorance was bliss and how the people needed to trust him on that, and he roared of the need for everyone to like him and stay with him in the Time of Ignorance forever. And then, when everyone thought that he had roared his last roar, he roared once more – about the need for a Council of Oppression that he could use to control journalists and what the people of Ya were allowed to know. How wonderful he said it would be, if he could prevent the people from having access to information he did not think they should have. And then he growled a growl and his eyes flashed as he announced to the people that they would have a new and very special information police to help keep Ya in the Time of Ignorance for ever and ever. 

When Robb’n finally stopped roaring his roars, The Sullen Men clapped their hands and slapped their desks just the way that they had been told to do. You see, as we learned in the last chapter, The Sullen Men (for that was the name given by the people of Ya to Robb’n’s henchmen) were a very mixed lot. A very few of them occasionally came up with a good idea or three, but such ideas were rarely accepted by Robb’n or noticed by the people. Robb’n’s spent so much time saying silly silly things and roaring his roars and ranting his rants that almost nothing else was ever noticed by anyone. Even when a good idea was suggested by one of The Sullen Men and allowed by Robb’n, it was almost sure to be lost in some of the silly silly things Robb’n said or in the Blame and Inane Banter Game which Robb’n was teaching The Sullen Men to play.

Robb’n encouraged the Blame and Inane Banter Game as it was something which just might help distract enough of the easily mislead to keep the poor people’s money in his pockets. Robb’n was secure in the knowledge that all of The Sullen Men liked the poor people’s money too. None of The Sullen Men showed the nerve to stand up to Robb’n about anything. Despite the pleas of the poor people of Ya, The Sullen Men served Robb’n well in the official meeting place.

None of The Sullen Men dared to speak out of turn at the official meeting place. In fact they hardly spoke at all, not even about the budget of Ya. They said nothing about spending all of Ya’s money and a lot that was borrowed besides. The Sullen Men just sat and sat as that was what they were told to do.

Now another thing that you need to know about Robb’n is that Robb’n likes shiny things like medals. You see Robb’n had once heard that people who were talented in one way or other were sometimes given medals. Robb’n, being Robb’n, thought that there was no one more talented than Robb’n. After all, Robb’n had a higher opinion of himself than of anyone else, and that was the only credential he needed – or had. So Robb’n decided that Robb’n deserved medals, lots and lots of medals, and those who did exactly what Robb’n told them to do, well maybe they might get to hold a medal – at least for a while . And then Robb’n had another insight – which was very rare. “My medal plan is such a clever idea and my Council of Oppression idea is very clever too. I think that I should offer a medal to any journalist who only gives the people of Ya exactly the information that I say that they should have.”

Robb’n was exceedingly pleased with himself. He could give the medals out and take them back whenever he felt so inclined. Not only that, but he might be able to convince some of his more inexpensively bought supporters to accept medals rather than appliances. “That would be really really good for my wallet,” thought Robb’n, and it was exceedingly practical as well. You see, it was hard to get back and re-gift used appliances. And then Robb’n smiled a big smile as he thought how medals bought in bulk and paid for in advance by the poor people of Ya just might help secure the next of Ya’s elections.

Now I know that some ofyou might be inclined to make funny faces when I tell you about some of the silly silly things that Robb’n says and does, but I have to warn you that Robb’n does not like that at all – and he may be watching. You see Robb’n has observed that some people make funny faces when he roars his roars and rants his rants. Robb’n has even ordered his Proto-Call people to issue an official statement that says that protocol requires the people of Ya to agree with whatever Robb’n spends or says or does – and no questions allowed. The Proto-Call people have also prohibited anyone from making a funny face without Robb’n saying “Robb’n says” first.

Now no doubt you are thinking, what should the people of Ya who do not want to live in the Time of Ignorance do? If the people of Ya allow him, Robb’n will not hesitate to shut the door on freedom of thought and the rest of 2010. There are even those who speculate that all those new CCTV cameras in Ya will be used to catch those committing the new offense of making a funny face in response to one of Robb’n’s silly silly roars, or the next huge personal bill of his that he wants the poor people of Ya to pay. That is a very scary prospect indeed, but it hasn’t happened yet and it need not ever happen. There are things that we the poor people of Ya can think, things that we can write, things that we can say, and things that we can do – but time is running out.

We the people of Ya can continue to point out what is right and wrong when Robb’ n seems to care only about what is profitable for him and his friends. We can poke and poke and poke the people of the Official No Position until they wake up and start to protect our freedoms. We can start petitions. We can arrange for big questions to be asked in the official meeting place in Angle-Land – questions that might wake up the High Sherriff of Ya, who is also supposed to keep an eye on Robb’n and other threats to law and order. But most of all we can put on our whompers and straw hats, or our sneakers and baseball caps, and we can practice marching. It is good exercise and all.

Robb’n’s Time of Ignorance may appear to be walled the way his home is intended to be, but the walls of Ignorance are, for the moment, nothing but wet sand. Like the ancient city of Jericho in the Old Testament, with the right leader and the people of Ya marching, the walls around Robb’n’s Time of Ignorance will fall as surely as night follows day. For you see, Robb’n and his cronies fear the prospect of the people marching even more than they fear that the people will learn what they are taking and doing. They feed on our little fears, our little weaknesses, and our laziness.

There are many among you my people of Ya who have the honesty, integrity, intelligence, fortitude, common sense and common decency that Ya needs in its leaders. Who among us is willing to lead in the fight to protect our freedoms? Who will stand and march for Ya and for what is right? Who will march to show Robb’n that we are his master and not the other way around?

 

CNS has kindly provided for the previous chapter in thechronicles of Robb’n to be found here:

The Machinations of Robb’n in the Hood

Continue Reading