Archive for August, 2010

Crown has eye witness

| 30/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The murder trial of Patrick McField, Osborne Douglas and Brandon Ebanks for the murder of Omar Samuels, opened this morning (Monday 30 August) with the revelation that the crown has an eye witness to the murder. The 16 year old girl is the crown’s key witness who says she saw the accused men shoot Samuels outside a house in McField Lane where she had gone to visit a friend on 5 July 2009. Solicitor General, Cheryl Richards QC gave her brief opening statement about the crown’s case against the three defendants, shortly after eight women and four men were selected to serve on the jury.

Richards told the court that the identification made by the witness was key to the case. The crown’s prosecuting counsel said she was related to two of the defendants and lived in the same neighbourhood as the third so she was very familiar with the men. Despite the darkness at the time of the crime Richards said the house and porch where Samuels was shot was well lit.

The crown’s case is that McField, Douglas and Ebanks had quarreled with the deceased earlier in the evening and then later came to the house to find him where armed with guns the three men acted together to commit the murder. Although Samuels was shot only once in the leg police found five empty shell casing at the scene.

The one gun shot which Samuels received proved to be fatal and Richards said the pathologist confirmed that the bullet penetrated Samuels’ femoral artery causing him to bleed to death.

The three men accused of killing Samuels are all represented by Queen’s Counsel from the UK and local defence attorneys Nicholas Dixie, Ben Tonner and Clyde Allen. The crown’s case is being made by Cheryl Richards QC, the solicitor general, supported by crown counsel Trisha Hutchinson.

The trial continues this afternoon with a video link to the first witness.

 

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Blackberry makes offer to India in face of ban

| 30/08/2010 | 0 Comments

BBC): Blackberry-maker Research in Motion has said it is willing to work with India to support the country’s need for "lawful access" to encrypted services. RIM and the Indian government are holding last-minute talks ahead of a 31 August deadline, when a ban on the devices is due to begin. India wants the ability to monitor secure e-mail and instant messaging services provided by the firm. RIM maintains that it does not do "specific deals" with countries. The firm said that it had now offered to "lead an industry forum focused on supporting the lawful access needs of law enforcement agencies".

 

 

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Cliamte change panel wait on verdict

| 30/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(BBC): An international committee reviewing the "processes and procedures" of the UN’s climate science panel is set to report on Monday. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has faced mounting pressure over errors in its last major assessment of climate science in 2007.The review was overseen by the Inter-Academy Council, which brings together bodies such as the UK’s Royal Society.  The findings are to be unveiled at a news conference in New York. The IPCC has admitted it made a mistake in its 2007 climate assessment in asserting that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035. But officials at the UN organisation said this error did not change the broad picture of man-made climate change.

 
In February, the IPCC suggested setting up an independent review, feeling that its 20-year-old rules and working practices perhaps needed an overhaul.
  
 

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Diabetes unsweetens sex lives

| 30/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(Healthy Living): Sex is an important part of life and healthy relationships. But diabetes can affect your sex life, a new study claims. The number of people with diabetes is increasing due to population growth, aging, and increasing prevalence of obesity and physical inactivity. According to American Diabetic Association 12.2 million or 23.1% of Americans above 60 have diabetes. Older adults with diabetes were found to be sexually active, but the disease does cause some problems with intimacy. Scientists at the University of Chicago Medical Centre conducted a study of 1,993 people, aged 57 to 85. The research was a part of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project. The study involves in-home interviews, self-administered questionnaires, blood tests to evaluate diabetes status, and medication audits.

 

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New multi planet solar systems found

| 30/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNET): NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, hunting for distant worlds by measuring the slight dimming of starlight as planets pass in front of their parent suns, has found its first multiplanet solar system. The Kepler-9 system includes two Saturn-class worlds orbiting in gravitational lockstep close to their star and a possible third planet just a bit larger than Earth that whirls through a hellish "year" in just 1.8 days. The announcement came just a few days after a European team, using a different technique with a ground-based telescope, revealed the discovery of a solar system with up to seven planets, including another candidate planet slightly larger than Earth.

 
The combined results demonstrate a steadily improving ability to detect Earth-size worlds across vast gulfs of space, raising hopes than within a few years, scientists will know whether Earth-like planets are common or rare.
 

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Film business boosts Jamaican economy

| 30/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(Jamaica Observer): The naturally diverse beauty of Port Antonio continues to make it an ideal location for major overseas film projects that engage the local industry and contribute in a significant way to the economy of the town and the country. The 20th Century Fox summer blockbuster Knight and Day, staring Hollywood A-list actors Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, is the most recent example. In early February, JAMPRO’s Film Commission facilitated the shooting of a scene for the film at Frenchman’s Cove in Portland, which pumped US$1.35m into the local economy and created employment for 80 Jamaicans.

 

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Miller: Drug law not working

| 30/08/2010 | 38 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Headline News(CNS): The represented for North Side, Ezzard Miller, has said that Cayman’s drug problem is not being helped by interdiction. The country needs to focus on reducing demand amongst the youngest kids, instead of spending so much on law enforcement as it wasn’t working, the MLA said last week. He said that the country had to focus on preventing today’s primary school children getting involved in drugs by spending money on them and ensuring that they have a better chance than the generations that came before them. Miller said it was almost impossible to turn older kids away from using or selling drugs once they became used to earning the kind of money the drub business generated.

Speaking at the police community meeting in North Side, on Thursday evening, Miller, the independent representative for the district, said that in 1989 as the minister responsible for health he came up with Cayman’s first National Drug Policy but it has since been dropped. Miller pointed out that enforcement has failed and that there are more drugs available today despite law enforcement efforts than ever before.
 
“Interdiction is not working,” he said, adding that this was illustrated by the amount of money spent by the United States which had done nothing to solve the problem. “Cocaine and marijuana is more readily available and cheaper today than it was twenty-five years ago.”
 
He said he wanted to save the 65 or so children at the North Side primary school so they didn’t become the future users and dealers. Miller said that he had asked government for just CI$75,000 in the budget to work with the teens in the district that were vulnerable and to ensure the kids in North Side Primary who were not yet sucked in would be protected. He lamented the fact he didn’t get it and pointed out that spending that money now would save millions in future if he could save those 65 children.
 
Across the board enforcement efforts were failing, the MLA warned, and government had been spending millions of dollars foolishly. Hepointed out that the CAYs Foundation, which ran the government children’s homes, had terrible results and most of the young people that had been through the system were either in jail or dead. Miller said he believed this sent a clear message, “If you want to save kids don’t put them in government programmes.”
 
Miller spoke about the efforts in the community to take care of the teens in North Side that were at risk, including attempts to find them work or training. His district council was now utilizing the community centre more effectively and it could provide a place at evenings to run a variety of programmes that would help keep kids out of trouble, but he needed the money to do it.
 
He also told Baines that people in North Side wanted to work with the police as they always had done, demonstrated by the regular meetings with the RCIPS in the district, but he said they needed to see more results. North Siders were sick, he said, of seeing the same criminals arrested over and over as they were released on bail while awaiting sentencing and they would just commit the same crimes over and over.
 
“We have had the same people, committing the same offences for over 15 years,” Miller said. “There must be a meeting of minds at some point between government, the police and the judicial system to put a stop to this madness.”

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Earl storms on as Danielle fades away

| 30/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Hurricane Earl which is now a category two hurricane was moving at 14 mph this morning as it headed towards the US Virgin Islands. Sustained winds are reaching 110mph with higher gusts and Earl is expected to become a major hurricane by tonight or early Tuesday as forecasters are predicting strengthening throughout the day. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 50 miles from the centre and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles. Meanwhile, Danielle is losing its tropical characteristics as it moves over the far northern Atlantic.

 
A hurricane warning is in effect across the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico as Earl continues its west-northwestward path but a turn to the northwest is predicted for tomorrow.
 
A further area of low pressure some 1100 miles east of the Lesser Antilles currently has a 90% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone the National Hurricane Centre in Miami has said.
 
 

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Accused gunmen opt for jury

| 30/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The three young men accused of killing Omar Samuels (28) last year have elected to have their case tried by a jury. The trial of Patrick McField (23), Osbourne Douglas (23) and Brandon Leslie (24) opens in the Grand Court on Monday morning before Justice Charles Quin. The three men are accused of shooting Samuels on 5 July 2009 in McField Lane, George Town. Although he was shot in the leg the bullet penetrated Samuels’ femoral artery causing him to bleed to death. The murder triggered what police described as a spate of tit for tat shootings, which lasted until March of this year when Damion Ming became the most recent victim of the gang violence.

The three men accused of killing Samuels are all represented by Queen’s Counsel from the UK and local defence attorneys Nicholas Dixie, Ben Tonner and Clyde Allen. The crown’s case will be made by Cheryl Richards QC, the solicitor general, supported by crown counsel Trisha Hutchinson.
 
Douglas, Leslie and McField were all arrested in August and charged with the murder on 5 September, two months after the shooting, by the senior investigator, former Detective Inspector Kim Evans.
 
The murder was the second shooting in 2009 following the murder of Jerome Russell, who was shot at the Shir Reynolds club in George Town. No one has ever been arrested in connection with that killing.
 
Three days after the killing of Samuels, the third shooting of 2009 occurred when three young men were shot in Bonaventure Road in West Bay. Twenty-year-old Marcus Ebanks was killed and Adryan Powell who was fourteen at the time was critically wounded and remains in a wheel chair as a result of the gun shot wound. Ebanks’ brother Rod (18) was also shot but he recovered from his injuries. Twenty-six-year-old Raziel Omar Jeffers has since been charged with both Ebanks’ murder and the attempted murder of Powell and has been committed to the Grand Court for trial.
 
A few weeks after the Bonaventure shooting, on 9 September, Carlos Webster was shot in the head and killed inside the Next Level Night Club (now known as Jet) on the West Bay Road. No one has been charged with this murder and the police commissioner, David Baines has frequently berated witnesses for not coming forward as there were over 150 people in the club at the time of the shooting.
 
Fabian Reid was then killed in Newlands on 13 October when he and a woman were shot at in a car by masked gunmen. No one has been charged for that crime. Nor has anyone been charged for shooting Fabian Powell six times on 28 December when he was gunned down outside Wellie’s Cool spot in George Town.
 
Baines, who arrived on island to take up his post of commissioner weeks after the shootings began, described the gang violence as tit for tat and said it was down to disputes between two West Bay gangs and a George Town gang. The RCIPS attempted to keep the known gang members apart from each other by getting in between them with road blocks and following the known gang members around.
 
However, that did not prevent the murder of five-year-old Jeremiah Barnes, who was shot and killed as a gunman took aim at the family car being driven by his father Andy Barnes at a gas station in West Bay in February. Devon Anglin has since been charged with the crime and hearings in relation to that case continue on in the summary court.
 
A few weeks later, Marcos Mauricio Gauman Duran, an Ecuadorian national from the George Town District, was shot outside apartments in Maliwanas Way and a 16-year-old boy has been charged with the murder, there is still speculation on whether this was a gang related killing or simply a robbery gone wrong.
 
Alrick Peddie (25) was then shot and killed in the middle of the afternoon in West Bay on March 24. Three men were arrested and then charged with the murder but legal wrangling regarding the use of anonymous witnesses by the prosecution continue in the courts.
 
The latest murder that police have said they believe was gang related was the killing of Damion Ming, who was shot in his yard on 25 March in Birch Tree Hill, West Bay. Raziel Jeffers has also been charged with this murder. Ming was shot the night before hewas due to return to Northward prison, having had his appeal on a drug conviction, for which he was still on bail, overturned by the Privy Council in the UK the day before.
 
At the recent community meetings Baines has said that the police have managed to get the gang violence under control and noted that most of what he calls the “triggermen” are either dead or in jail.

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More banks join government mortgage scheme

| 28/08/2010 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Two more local high street banks have joined the government’s mortgage guarantee programme to enable more Caymanians to access mortgages. Butterfield and FirstCaribbean International banks will each offer an additional $5 million sum for home loans to local people who can afford a mortgage but cannot find the 25% cash to put down with the bank. The deal with the two banks was signed on Wednesday bringing the total of retail banks supporting the initiative to six. Since its inception the Government Guaranteed Home Assisted Mortgage (GGHAM) programme has helped 269 people get their own homes.

 
Butterfield and FirstCaribbean International had previously committed $10 million each which has already been disbursed but the extra five million will help assist more families.
 
In existence since 2007, the GGHAM assists Caymanians who qualify for traditional commercial bank mortgages, but who are unable to accumulate the required five to twenty percent deposit. Government guarantees 35 percent of the total mortgage enabling clients to access a loan without having to find the usual down payment. The banks then grant mortgages based on both the guarantees and the client’s eligibility. Customers must remain in good standing with their banks to retain their guarantees.
 
In addition to Butterfield and FirstCaribbean, GGHAM currently has agreements with Cayman National; Fidelity Bank (Cayman) Ltd; Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank & Trust (Cayman) Ltd.
 
Mike Adam, the minister with responsibility for housing applauded the banks which have already approved some $47.5 million in loans to the 269 recipients. “These are impressive figures and we hope to see them expand even further as the programme continues to grow,” he said.
 

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