Archive for October 21st, 2010

CJ finds teen gunman guilty

| 21/10/2010 | 42 Comments

(CNS): Nineteen-year-old Justin Ramoon has been found guilty of possession of an imitation firearm with intent in connection with an attack on Sven Connor earlier this year. The chief justice delivered his verdict to the court on Thursday morning in the wake of Ramoon’s judge alone trial earlier this month. The country’s top judge told the court that he found the evidence of the complainant, Sven Connor, compelling, while he rejected the alibi offered by the defendant, who had denied being the man who came at Connor with a semi-automatic weapon. Ramoon, who will return to court for sentencing before the CJ tomorrow afternoon, is facing a tariff of as much as 20 years behind bars for the offence.

The teenager has been convicted in relation to an incident which took place in Fairlawn Road, George Town, on 21 February. Connor said Ramoon had turned up in his stepfather’s car at a house where he, Connor, had been visiting friends. Ramoon got out of a car and walked straight up to him while aiming a semi-automatic weapon in his direction.

Connor said that he immediately grabbed at the weapon and the two men  then fought over the gun, which fell to the ground before Connor ran off into the bushes in the direction of the Field of Dreams from where, nursing a dislocated shoulder, he then called the police.

Connor told the police in the wake of the incident that the gunman was Ramoon. Police later arrested the teen when he arrived at a police station to respond to bail on another matter. Ramoon denied possessing the weapon or attacking Connor. During the trial the teen defendant chose to give evidence in his own defence and went into the witness box claiming that on the night in question he was in West Bay getting drunk at his cousin’s house, where he had been staying for a few weeks .

He also called his cousin as an alibi in his defence, who admitted that he had come to court at the prompting of another person. The witness said he had been told that the night he, Ramoon and others were attending a cook-out at his house was the same night on which Ramoon was accused of attacking Connor.

In the chief justice’s written ruling, which he read to the court, he said that the suggestion that it was the same night was imposed upon the witness but he did not appear to have any independent recollection of the night. He described the detail of the witness’s account as “quite remarkable” given how long ago the incident had occurred.

On the other hand, the judge said, he found the manner in which Connor had given his evidence “compelling” stating that he was “clear and unhesitant" and the chief justice said he did not believe Connor could have been mistaken over the identity of the attacker as it had been in such close proximity. This, he said, was further illustrated by the dislocated shoulder which Connor had sustained during the struggle for the gun. The judge also observed the relative spontaneity in which Connor had told the police who the gunman was.

“I accept Sven Connor’s account, including the description of the firearm, which meets the description of the imitation weapon in the charges,’ the judge told the court. “I am satisfied it was the defendant that assaulted Sven Connor and the defendant is guilty of the charges on the indictment.”

Although Connor had described the weapon that Ramoon had approached him with as a semi-automatic handgun, the police never recovered a firearm and no gun shot residue was found on either Connor or Ramoon as the gun was not fired. Consequently, with no evidence that the gun in question was a real firearm, the crown brought charges of possession of an imitation weapon in accordance with the penal code.

Ramoon will return to court Friday afternoon for the sentence hearing.

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New schools could be facing more trouble

| 21/10/2010 | 32 Comments

(CNS): The new public high school development projects may have run into further difficulties as thelongest running sub-contractor has begun demobilising workers from the sites. A joint statement from the Education Ministry and Caribbean Mechanical released yesterday states that this removal was to “allow the new construction management arrangements to be implemented”, though it was not clear what those arrangements would be. Following the government’s announcement on 15 September that the construction management contract for the schools has been awarded to a local consortium, the minister said he expected full mobilisation by 15 October but to date the sites remain inactive.

The ministry said on Wednesday, however, that government now anticipates that arrangements with the new construction manager, including mobilisation of its work force, would be finalised this week.

The statement said government was “formalising the new contractual arrangements under which the construction manager will be engaged at the new high schools projects, along with the terms on which the remaining trades will return to the project sites.”

The announcement was also made that Caribbean Mechanical (High Schools 2008) Limited, which has been on the project since its inception, was demobilising workers from both of the schools sites because, the statement revealed, “the company’s work is now well in advance of the other trades,” and “this demobilisation will allow the new construction management arrangements to be implemented."

“In addition, the Ministry is also preparing to issue multiple new trade contracts to the contractors who will be managed by the new construction manager and additional tender packages, for a number of work scopes, which will be advertised in the next two weeks,” the statement read.

The school projects have been embroiled in a number of controversies, which escalated when Tom Jones International, the general contractor, walked off the job one year ago, saying that government was not in a position to meet its financial obligations to the firm for the project. Government is now embroiled in a costly legal battle with the firm.

CNS contacted Caribbean Mechanical (High Schools 2008) and the education minister for clarification of the current situation but no one was available for further comment at the time. 

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Argentina wants focus on tax havens at G20 summit

| 21/10/2010 | 0 Comments

(IBTimes): Tax evasion and tax havens will not be as much a focus during this year’s G20 Seoul Summit next month. Sensing this, Argentina’s economy minister Amado Boudou called on the Group of 20 nations to focus on creating more jobs rather than take measures that are weakening currencies and hurting emerging powers. Boudou told Reuters that officials in the summit should focus on moving forward with previous commitments such as overhauling international financial regulations and eliminating tax havens. Reform of financial regulations, particularly related to tax havens and evasion was a key feature in the summits in Washington, London and Pittsburgh since 2008, where members first adopted an agreement to "name and shame" offenders related to tax evasion.

In 2009, a universal standard was adopted and in a move to ensure transparency, all countries were subjected to a ‘peer review’ that would lead to an appraisal of the economic policy of each country in 2-phase process.

The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) published a report in September on the first phase where the Cayman Islands, long considered a haven for tax evaders, now appeared on the white list of the OECD. The country has an exchange of information pact with a 12 other countries, according to the standards set by the OECD.

Critics argue that the bar for tax standards was set too low. The OECD requires a country to have tax information exchange agreements with a minimum of 12 countries but there are no qualifications for which of these nations are basic requirements. Several countries like Cayman Islands became ‘tax havens’ to promote more inflow of money into their banks by encouraging zero tax rates, banking secrecy and weak regulation, they claimed.

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Public pay for Mac’s fence

| 21/10/2010 | 138 Comments

(CNS): Although the original proposal to put a high wall around the premier’s private residence in West Bay was dropped, a fence, which it seems has been paid for from the public purse, has now been erected instead. The protocol office has not revealed the cost of the fence or any other details but it confirmed that the security of the premier and the country’s guests, who may be hosted at the premier’s residence, is the responsibility of government. Meanwhile, on Cayman Brac, the Ministry of District Administration has denied that the public are paying for the security upgrades and other enhancements to the deputy premier’s private home.

Although the creation of the office of premier has ushered in a number of changes and extra trappings regarding the country’s political leadership, there is no official residence for the holder of that office or that of deputy premier.

The current premier, McKeeva Bush, continues to reside in his own West Bay property, where security has reportedly been significantly enhanced. The people are now also footing the bill for utilities and other extras at the premier’s home as a result of the house being used for official functions and purposes, something which Bush has said would be afforded to anyone who is elected into the role.

Following a request by CNS to the Protocol Office about the fence that has appeared around the Bush household, the office refused to reveal any details of the costs or who was responsible for it because of what it said were issues of national security.

“As you are aware this is security related, and if we were to answer this question fully, it would reveal certain security issues and concerns, and obviously we do not wish to plant any seeds publicly which may cause harm to our country’s leaders,” the Protocol Office told CNS when we enquired about who was paying for the fence at the Bush residence. “Generally, however, it must be understood that the security of the premier and the country’s guests, who may be hosted at the premier’s residence from time to time is the responsibility of the government, and one which it takes seriously.”

Meanwhile, considerable work being done at Juliana O’Connor Connolly’s home is being paid for by the minister herself and not the people, the chief officer in the ministry stated. “This ministry or any other government agency is not paying for any repairs/modifications to the deputy premier’s residence,” Kearney Gomez said in an email to CNS, explaining that the minister’s home was severely damaged during Hurricane Paloma and still in need of repair.

Despite public perception to the contrary, Gomez also stated that the deputy premier was not residing at the Alexander Hotel except on rare occasions, and when on the Brac the district administration minister is residing in her own home. “On occasion when evening meetings are held on the Brac with ministry and District Administration staff, the deputy premier may stay at the venue of those meetings. It should be noted, however, that for most of the past 16 months the deputy premier has been residing at her private residence,” Gomez revealed.

He did, however, revealed that the ministry was incurring costs for the deputy premier’s security officer’s accommodation, which he said varied from month to month. “To take an average would be in the vicinity of $1,500 per month,” which he explained was for the officer’s stay-over accommodation on the Brac.

Both the premier and his deputy have come in for wide public criticism as a result of the extra spending associated with the elevation of the political leadership. However, Bush has in turn blamed the opposition, who were the primary architects of the Cayman Constitution 2009 which has ushered in the changes and the extra costs.

In a recent effort to deflect the controversy surrounding the extra security, utility and other protocol costs incurred by government, during the last sitting of the Legislative Assembly the premier listed the costsof CCTV systems which were installed in the homes of some of the previous Cabinet Member’s homes, which came to a total of around $35,000, a tab which was picked up by the treasury.

During the budget sitting earlier this year the premier told the country that the use of the premier’s “personal home for certain functions gives the erroneous impression that these courtesies are personal,” when, he said, it was in fact official.

“The Protocol Office considers that the funds utilised for security upgrades on the premier’s residence, in the circumstances, to be both practical and cost effective for our highest ranking elected diplomat to properly represent the country, to host official visitors, and discharge the duties inherent in the position of Premier, absent of distraction,” Bush told his legislative colleagues, adding that all future premiers would have upgrades to their homes until an official residence was feasible. 

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Advice flawed says Chuckie

| 21/10/2010 | 32 Comments

(CNS): Former government minister Charles Clifford has added his voice to the concerns raised regarding the premier’s proposal to remedy the country’s economic woes by revamping immigration policy. Clifford said the proposed reduction in the residency break from one year to one month, which was made by McKeeva Bush recently, is flawed and unlikely to sustain legal scrutiny. Clifford has challenged Bush to present the public with proof of the legal advice that supports his proposal that it would protect the country from mass status grants. Additionally, it is uncertain if the advice received by Bush applies strictly to the Cayman Islands immigration laws or if it took into account the British Nationality Law that also governs how residency, and consequently status, can be obtained in overseas territories.

Bush’s press secretary told CNS that the premier intends to table the advice, which is believed to have come from Lord Pannick QC, in the Legislative Assembly next month. However, Clifford claims the legal advice alluded to runs contrary to the advice given to the previous administration.

"When the Cabinet of which I was a part considered this matter we took legal advice on the matter from several sources. The legal consensus was that any break of less than 12 months in residency would render the term limit provisions in the Immigration Law ineffective because it was highly unlikely to stand the test of legal scrutiny and would be successfully challenged in the courts," he said. "The court would likely take the view that a break in residency of less than 12 months could not reasonably be said to either constitute a break in legal residency or establish that the person was no longer domiciled in the Cayman Islands."

During a televised address in September the premier first told the country that he had received legal advice from Britain that the Cayman Islands government could make the rollover as short as it chose and said he would be examining changes to the immigration policy. “We have legal advice from the UK that says we can make the rollover time as limited as we want to in our legislation,” he said, later indicating that the rollover gap could be reduced to as little as one month.

Clifford, who has since resigned from the PPM, does not believe that such advice exists.

"The premier’s claim that he has advice from the UK that the government can successfully reduce the break in stay under the term limit provisions in the Immigration Law to 30 days is suspicious at best and is contrary to all of the legal advice which was previously provided," he said. “If the premier has such legal advice as he claims he does then I call on him to voluntarily publish it in the spirit of Freedom of Information before it is formally requested, he added.

Responding to this challenge, the Office of the Premier told Cayman News Service that the legal advice would be made public next month. "The premier has previously stated that once the legal advice on this
matter was presented to Cabinet he will table it in the Legislative Assembly. The premier plans to table the legal advice concerning the required break in residency at the end of the immigration term limit
in the LA next month," said his press secretary.

Bush has raised the issue of immigration and the need to attract people to the Cayman Islands, as well as the need to encourage people to keep their earnings here. He said that Cayman was exporting part of its GDP as a result of the way the country’s immigration policy encouraged foreign workers to send money out of Cayman. He said any country which exported its GDP was doomed to failure.

Clifford questioned the validity of the premier’s motive for immigration changes. "Despite what the premier and some of his supporters have said, the economic problems in the country are not related to the term limit provisions in the Immigration Law," he said. “Our economic misfortunes are directly related to the global financial meltdown, which has been made worse by the UDP government’s decision to increase taxes across the board three times in 15 months and reduce salaries by 3.2%. The UDP government has implemented a flawed economic policy. They need to understand that you cannot tax your way out of a recession, but if they don’t reverse those taxes and jettison their flawed economic policy they will tax us into a depression.”

Clifford stated that government had made the cost of doing business prohibitive and its flawed economic policy had reduced everyone’s disposable income, which was the reason why businesses are closing and why people are being made redundant and leaving the island. Only the government can change that through a reversal of their damaging policies, he indicated.

Implementing the proposed changes to the Immigration Law would, in effect, repeal the term limit and would in turn increase the number of expatriate workers entitled to Caymanian status, Clifford suggested. "I believe that the premier’s attempt to substitute the 12 months break in stay for 30 days under the term limit provisions of the Immigration Law is the UDP government’s way of abolishing the term limit provisions altogether because they are well aware that it will not stand the test of legal scrutiny," he said. "If the premier and his government want to repeal the term limit provisions they ought to be brave enough to say so and stop playing games with our Immigration Law and hiding behind
what will inevitably be a successful legal challenge."

Currently, the law requires expatriate workers on work permits to leave for a minimum period of twelve months after working for seven years before they can return. The period was originally set at two years but was then reduce to twelve by the previous administration, as they said it was the minimum period which could be accepted in law as a genuine break in stay. This would then prevent all permit holders from meeting the threshold to be entitled to begin the process of becoming Caymanian and thereby creating what was perceived as an imbalance between indigenous Caymanians and foreign status holders.
 

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Multiples Halloween Meet at Motions

| 21/10/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Multiples Support Group for parents and expecting parents of twins, triplets and other multiples will be holding a Halloween Costume Party at Motions Unlimited Gym on Sparky Drive this Saturday, 23 October from 3:30pm to 5:00pm.The party is an opportunity for the kids to get together and play while the parents have a chance to chat with fellow parents about the unique challenges of raising multiples.Motions Unlimited has been host to several of the group’s family gatherings and is the perfect venue, offering gymnastic-themed activities for kids of all ages.

“Previous group meetings have attracted between 20 to 25 multiples and their siblings, and a similar number of parents and other family members,” said organiser Tim Dailey. “These events give parents the chance to chat informally while the youngsters get to participate in all the gymnastic activities. The facilities at Motions offer a fun way to introduce the children to active, healthy fun. Our get togethers can be multiple mayhem, but the kids all have a great time, burn off some steam, and the parents get a chance to chat with other parents and expecting parents. We have found the group to be particularly beneficial to new parents who can use othermembers as a sounding board for advice, tips and general support."

The Cayman Multiples Support Group was formed about five years ago to offer support to parents and expectant parents of multiples by providing casual gatherings for the parents and kids to chat in an informal environment with fellow parents.

“We don’t really have formal sit down meetings as most members prefer the casual approach,” Dailey said. Since its formation, the group has grown significantly with families welcoming new twins and others moving to the island with their families. Dailey noted that the transitional nature of the Cayman community means that parents come and go, and more often than not, those arriving not only are starting a new life, but often doing it without any friends and family assistance locally.

“The group tries to assist new families both those on island, and those arriving, by providing a forum for discussion as well as introducing families to others in similar circumstances raising multiples,” Dailey said.

Motions Unlimited has been particularly supportive of the group having been originally chosen for the wide variety of activities offered to the kids and the large open space provided for them, he said, adding, “There are activities for all age groups and the staff arrange a casual program to encourage the kids to keep moving and active.”

Many parents go on to join the gym’s extensive range of programs available daily and on weekends. “For many parents, the meetings are their first introduction to the gym’s facilities. Motions are very supporting of the group and we look forward to holding future meetings in the coming months,” said Dailey. There are about 30 to 35 known sets of twins and one set of triplets on the island who have expressed interest in participating in the group’s activities.

“We welcome new parents and expectant parents to get in touch and join in,” he said, adding that members help each other cope with some of the unique challenges presented by having multiples.

For more information, contact Tim Dailey at 916-8005or via e-mail at caymanmultiples@hotmail.com or tdailey@candw.ky.

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Police say last report of rape made in August

| 21/10/2010 | 10 Comments

(CNS): The police confirmed Wednesday that the last incidence of rape reported to authorities was more than two months ago in August. Following local speculation that three rapes had occurred on Grand Cayman in the last few weeks, the RCIPS categorically denied any cover up of a "serial" rapist. So far this year there have been ten cases of rape investigated by police. According to RCIPS statistics, there were 14 cases in 2009, 20 in 2008 and 14 again in 2007. A spokesperson for the police service stressed that rumours circulating regarding a serial rapist on Grand Cayman were utterly unfounded and were causing unnecessary fear.

“We are aware that there are rumours and Blackberry Messages circulating suggesting that there is a serial rapist operating in the Islands,” the police spokesperson stated. “The RCIPS can categorically state that these rumours and messages are fictitious and malicious. It is clear that they have been designed to cause fear and alarm throughout the community."
 

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Tropical Storm Richard forms south of Cayman

| 21/10/2010 | 7 Comments

(CNS):Updated Thursday 10:15am – Tropical Depression 19 strengthens to Tropical Storm Richard, Hazard Management Cayman Islands announced Thursday morning. At 10am the National Hurricane Center in Miami Florida placed TS Richard near 16.2 N 80.4 W, or about 220 miles south-southeast of Grand Cayman, 245 miles south of Cayman Brac. Richard is currently moving towards the southeast near 6 mph with max sustained winds near 40mph. This storm poses no immediate threat to the Cayman Islands; however, rainfall associated with the system will continue to impactthe islands over the next day or two. Swells are expected to affect the south and east coasts of the Cayman Islands.

The CINWS is monitoring the progress of Tropical Storm Richard. All interests within the Cayman Islands should remain alert and stay tuned local media for the latest information on this system.

The next bulletin will be issued 4pm today.

The CI National Weather Service is continuing to monitor the progress and development of TS Richard. For latest local weather forecast go to www.weather.ky
 

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Webster’s offers free ride on Passport2Success

| 21/10/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The owner and managing director of Webster’s Tours will be helping Passport2Success students on their journey with free rides to college in Newlands. The long time tour operator Kenwrick Webster has proposed a schedule of centralized pick-ups at locations throughout the island, for as many of the 25 Passport students who require early-morning and late-afternoon transport, easing concerns about accessibility and on-time arrivalat International College of the Cayman Islands. Webster says he hopes to encourage young Caymanians to get involved in development of both their own skills and capacitites, and the Cayman community as a whole.

“We believe the Passport progamme offers young people a valuable and important chance to work for everyone’s betterment, and if there is something we can do to assist in that, then we believe it’s the right thing to do. What better cause is there than our young people and our community?” he said.

Webster himself will take care of the West Bay, Prospect and George Town pick-ups, while Omni Bus operator Ruel Miller will provide service from East End, also free of charge.

Ministry officials said they were grateful to Mr Webster for his service and looked forward to the enhanced success of the Passport programme because of his contribution.

“Mr. Webster has generously arranged transport, free of charge, for the participants who need it. It is this kind of gesture that contributes to the overall success of any programme, and is sure to make Passport2Success an ongoing and indispensable part of building our community. I would also like to extend our appreciation to Mr. Miller and Mr. Kelly for joining in this initiative,” said Minister of Education Rolston Anglin. “We are confident that the students will take full advantage of Mr. Webster’s offer, and, for their part, will work hard to meet the buses on time, and treat Mr. Webster, Mr. Miller and Mr. Kelly with the utmost respect.”

Webster’s offer comes on the heels of a similar move in April, when he elected not to collect fees offered by government to bus as many as 22 Passport students in the programme’s inaugural intake.

The Ministry of Education, Training and Employment’s Passport2Success programme, sponsored by Butterfield Bank, CML Offshore Recruitment and local telecommunications provider LIME, offers a selected group of school-leavers and other young people the opportunity to attend a unique instructional programme designed to help them find and retain employment.

The 12-week course, currently in its second session of a proposed four per year, originated in the spring at the International College of the Cayman Islands. The programme operates five days per week between 8:30am and 4:00pm, combining traditional face-to-face classroom encounters with real-time exposure to the professional world-of-work. The curriculum is designed to improve students’ employability, boosting both personal and professional skills, providing practical training in job-specific areas, work experience, exposure to employers and career guidance.

Participants earn a monthly performance-based stipend, which can be increased through attainment of particular goals.
 

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