Archive for December 6th, 2010

Legislators hit constitutional stumbling block

| 06/12/2010 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Lawmakers didn’t get very far this morning when the Legislative Assembly resumed its sitting. Although members started their meeting at 9am, an hour earlier than the usual start time, they were soon bogged down in constitutional difficulties. Government had intended to complete business on the passage of two amended pieces of legislation Monday but a constitutional question raised by the member for North Side meant government managed to complete work on only one law before adjourning the sitting until Thursday. During the committee stage of the Tax Concessions Amendment, Ezzard Miller pointed out that the law referred to the ‘Governor in Cabinet’, a term which he believed had been abolished in the new constitution.

The Cayman Islands Constitution 2009, which came into force in November last year, separates the country’s elected arm of government from the executive arm more clearly than in the past. As a result , areas that fall under the elected government’s remit, such as financial matters like this particular law dealing with tax concessions, no longer need to refer to the ‘Governor in Cabinet’ but simply ‘Cabinet’.

The controversial legislation will give the elected government the power to grant tax concessions to local as well as offshore or exempted companies whenever it deems it to be in the public interest without coming to the Legislative Assembly for approval. When the law was presented to the LA last month, the ensuing heated debate resulted in a walk-out by the entire opposition after East End member Arden McLean refused to withdraw his remarks concerning the premier’s motivation for bringing the new law.

Miller raised his concerns about the legislation to the press last week and said he would be asking a number of questions about the law during the committee stage since he was absent from the chamber during the debate. However, the independent member got no further than his first question as members got bogged down in debate over the meaning and definitions of the government in Cabinet, the language of the new constitution and whether or not the change had actually been properly defined.

The speaker, acting as chair of the committee, made the decision to adjourn the meeting until the attorney general could research the position and interpret the new constitutional position.

The parliament is expected to reconvene on Thursday, when government will debate, among other things, the amendment to the evidence law and the new district councils bill.

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Women acquitted over letter

| 06/12/2010 | 8 Comments

(CNS): The three women accused of obstructing the course of justice in connection with a murder trial have been acquitted. Taya Truman, Angella Thompson and Ave Watler were all found not guilty by a jury in the Grand Court on Monday afternoon following a week long trial. The women had been accused of attempting to prevent the crown’s key witness testifying in the trial of Osborne Douglas, Brandon Leslie and Patrick McField for the murder of Omar Samuels. Thompson and Watler admitted to writing a letter, which the witness and her mother signed, thatwas given to the court but said they did it to protect the witness and not to stop the trial.

Taya Truman, the mother of Osborne Douglas, said she was not involved in the production of the letter and had only asked the witness not to testify as she believed she was not telling the truth about her son, whom she said was with her on the night of the murder.

The jury of five women and two men took less than three hours to make their decision to acquit all three women, who said they had never intimidated or scared the witness into not giving evidence. Watler and Thompson had both testified that the letter was written with the support of the teen witness’s mother, Thompson’s sister, who was very ill.

The court heard that the family was also receiving threatening phone calls and Thompson said she had agreed to write the letter as she believed that if the young witness pulled out of the trial someone else would testify instead and the threats would stop. She later apologised for her action and said she realized how serious the charge against her was but that her aim had simply been to protect her niece and her sister.

Watler admitted typing the letter as a favour to Thompson, whom she described as her very dear friend. She also said that she drove Thompson to a notary public to formalise the letter for her to take to the court, which they both saw as a way to put an end to the threats and the genuine fear it was causing the teen witness’s mother, for whom they said they were both genuinely afraid and concerned.

The teen did go on to testify in the trial against the three men, who were convicted of the fatal shooting of Samuels and sentenced to life in prison, and gave evidence via video link. She claimed, however, that she was forced to sign the letter but did not know its contents.

The crown had also accused Truman of being the instigator of the letter. The prosecution contended that Truman believed that if the letter was given to the court before the preliminary enquiry for her son’s trial, the charges would be dropped and Douglas and his two co-defendants would be released.

Truman denied intimidating the witness but said she believed the teen was not telling the police the truth about what she had seen the night of the murder. When she took the stand, Truman said she understood from the comments of her mother that the witness was accusing the three men because of her boyfriend. She said her son was innocent as he had been at her home on the night of the murder and was so drunk he had urinated in a draw.

The court heard that the boyfriend of the teen witness was Martin Trench, whose fingerprints were found at the scene where it was believed Samuels was shot. However, he had left the country a few days after the killing and had never been interviewed by the police.

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Cops arrest banned clubber after bouncer assaulted

| 06/12/2010 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Police arrested a 24-year-old man from West Bay late on Saturday night following a disturbance at the LI nightclub off the West Bay Road. At around 10:55pm on 4 December, the suspect reportedly entered the local nightclub after being told he was banned for prior bad behaviour. The young man then produced what the RCIPS described as an object, rather than a weapon, which the police said he used to inflict injuries to the back of the security guard, after which he left the scene in a vehicle. Officers then intercepted the car in which the suspect had fled along the West Bay Road, where the man was then arrested on suspicion of assault.

He was interviewed by police and is now on police bail. Police are appealing for any witnesses or information to George Town CID on 949-4222 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477(TIPS).
 

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Firework displays need to get airport OK

| 06/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Organizers planning firework and light displays during the holiday season will fall foul of the law unless they contact the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAACI) before hand. Under the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2007 organizers are obligated to coordinate proposed events with the authority to prevent potential threats to aircraft operations, officials said on Monday. The associated risk posed by firework and light shows increases when the activities take place in the vicinity of aerodromes, particularly during critical phases of flight including approach, landing and take-off the CAACI said as it asked organizers to make contact with the office.

“The hazard is more likely to be from the unexpected dazzle rather than ocular or physical damage, although the risk of actual injury cannot be ruled out,” the CAACI stated in a release explaining that displays from small domestic events to major commercial or ceremonial shows are included.
“Coordination with the CCACI is required to mitigate such risks for all firework activity that takes place within 3 nautical miles of an airport or under the approach and departure paths. Firework displays outside this area but where the display height is expected to exceed 200ft above ground level must also be coordinated with the CAACI. Proposed laser and searchlight events within the same areas are similarly subject to coordination with and approval by the CAACI,” the authority added.
Displays must be formally approved in advance by the CAACI and will also incur a fee according to the Air Navigation(Overseas Territories) Order Fees Regulation 2010. Organizers planning events in what is considered to be a risk area should discuss their requirements with the CAACI well in advance of the intended date.
All such enquiries should be addressed to: Director of Air Navigation Services Regulation, Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands, Unit 2 Grand Harbor, PO Box 10277, Grand Cayman KY1-1003, Cayman Islands . Tel: (345) 949-7811, Fax: (345) 949-0761 or E-mail: civil.aviation@caacayman.com
 

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Marmite can prevent heart problems

| 06/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(Daily Mail): Heart attack victims could boost their chances of survival thanks to a vitamin in everyday foods such as Marmite, experts believe. A derivative of vitamin B1 speeds up the healing of tissue following heart damage, a study suggests. Separate research found the substance – called benfotiamine – can prevent heart failure as a complication of diabetes. The discoveries mean a supplement containing benfotiamine could become part of diabetes treatment, researchers said. Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamin and is found in many common foods. Good sources other than Marmite include the vegetarian ingredient Quorn, pork, milk, cheese, eggs, dried and fresh fruits and wholegrain breads.

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Tax avoidance protest closes UK shop

| 06/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(Daily Mail): Activists protesting against tax avoidance by big businesses forced one of Britain’s busiest stores to close its doors for around three hours Saturday after demonstrating against Sir Philip Green’s tax bills. The UK Uncut group is targeting high street stores – including Sir Philip’s Arcadia group outlets such as Topshop and Burton – in 20 towns and cities in protest at the tax strategies used by some of Britain’s biggest companies. A spokeswoman for the group said: ‘Tax avoidance is a big issue and we believe this is the alternative to the cuts the Government are making.’ The enforced closures are likely to have cost the stores thousands as customers were unable to complete their shopping on a busy pre-Christmas weekend.

 

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Cruise ship rescues six floating on raft

| 06/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(CFNews): Six people found floating on a raft have been rescued by the Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas. The cruise ship turned rescue ship arrived at Port Canaveral Monday morning, but without the rescued party. Law enforcement took the group off the ship to be questioned. The Monarch of the Seas was leaving the Bahamas, when a passenger spotted the raft. Officials said they think the group of six was floating for 15 days, but there was no way to know exactly how long. An investigation has begun, and officials said they think the people on the raft are migrants from Cuba.

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Prison battles ‘cell’ phones

| 06/12/2010 | 34 Comments

(CNS): Despite efforts to crack down on the use of cell phones at HMP Northward, the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs has revealed that some 74 illegal mobile telephones have been found within the prison walls this year. The advances in technology, which have resulted in ever smaller and slimmer cell phones, have made it easier for the items to be smuggled into the prison, but the chief officer in the portfolio, Franz Manderson, also revealed that phones are sometimes “catapulted over the perimeter of the prison”, which is adjacent to a public road. Manderson said that mobile phone technology presents a serious threat and a major concern for correctional services around the entire world. (Photo courtesy of Cayman 27)

“HM Cayman Islands Prison Service is aggressive in its approach to remove illegal cell phones and wages a constant battle against this prohibited article,” he told CNS.

The significant access that prisoners seemed to have to mobile phones was highlighted during the Grand Court trial of Randy Martin last year for the murder of Sabrina Schirn. Despite the prison stating that they were cracking down on cell phones, another case currently in the courts in connection with the murder trial of Osborne Douglas, Brandon Leslie and Patrick McField for the shooting of Omar Samuels revealed that Douglas had access to a mobile phone when on remand awaiting trial. Evidence before the court in an obstruction of justice case connected to that trial suggests that Douglas may have used that phone to intimidate witnesses.

As cell phones become smaller and slimmer, they are becoming easier to smuggle however, a problem noted by Manderson who also noted that sim cards are also being smuggled into the prison.

“Once a cell phone is smuggled into the institution, they are hidden in all sorts of places in cells and common areas,” Manderson said, adding that as well as being catapulted over the fence the phones are sometimes hidden on the outside of the perimeter for them to be smuggled inside.

“A number of strategies are in place to combat the smuggling and the removal of illegal cell phones from inside the prison. This includes targeted and random searches at all hours of the day and night and perimeter searches. Technology is being used more with the installation of jammers in a section of prison and with the hope of installing jammers in other areas,” he added. This, however, is limited by the proximity of a communication tower to the prison facility.

“The Body Orifice Security Scanners (Boss) chairs that can detect small metallic objects such as mobile phones units or sim cards without the need for intrusive strip searches is being look at for use on persons entering the prison,” Manderson explained. He also stated that new legislation is also proposed to combat the smuggling of contraband such as cell phones by making it a criminal offense to smuggle or possess contraband.

Currently the phones are prohibited in accordance with section 37 through section 41 of the Prison Rules (1999) Revision. If a prisoner is convicted of possession of a cell phone, a sentencing tariff is followed by the adjudicator. For a first offence an inmate is fined $25 and 14 days loss of remission; for a second offence the fine is increased to $50 and 28 days loss of remission.

A recent report in the Jamaica Observer revealed that prison inmates in Jamaica are smuggling cell phones to order murders from behind bars.

Jamaica’s Deputy Commissioner of Corrections said that phones enter the prison mostly strapped to the bodies of rogue correctional officers who have been bribed, and once behind prison walls, the inmates go to ingenious lengths to conceal cell phones.

"We found one that was inside a rock cake,” he told the Observer. “A hole had been cut in this large rock cake and the cell phone stuffed inside," said Campbell. "The warder noticed he (the inmate) had this rock cake for several days without eating it. When they checked, they found the cell phone inside."

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DoT defends wrong ‘note’ over jingle

| 06/12/2010 | 11 Comments

(CNS): The Department of Tourism has defended the use of an overseas agency to write the latest jingle for an upcoming advertising campaign. A number of local musicians had complained that the DoT had looked overseas for a composer when there were plenty of Caymanians that could have written the piece. However, the DoT said that some 27 local musicians and vocalists, including 15 students from GT Primary School, played and sang on the jingle, which it said was a “collaborative effort” between DoT and the Cayman Islands Music Association. It said that Chowder, the agency which wrote the music and the producers of the movie ‘Cayman Went’, has worked with DoT for the past eight years.

In face of the complaints from local musicians, some of whom refused to be involved as they believed locals should have composed the piece, the DoT said that because of the tight timeframe, the DoT provided the basic music and lyrics that it felt would best deliver on the strategic objectives and which “would resonate in the minds of US consumers”.

“The concept of the song which DoT developed was tested in the international marketplace in which it would be used and the results were favourable. Based on these results, local musicians were then given carte blanche to add their own interpretation, arrangement and creative style,” the DoT said in an official statement.

For the past three years, it said, the department had exclusively used High Tide, a popular local band, to provide the musical elements for overseas advertising campaigns.

This year, in an effort to be more inclusive and with the goal of engendering a higher level of collaboration, DoT said it sought assistance from the president of the Cayman Islands Music Association, Jean-Eric Smith (aka Notch), to invite as many local musicians as possible to be a part of the latest production.

They produced a 30-second instrumental and vocal production to be used for US television spots, a three-minute instrumental and vocal version of the song in its entirety, plus a five-minute instrumental and vocal version with a longer instrumental front- and back-end, which could be use for ‘viral’ videos, ‘internal’ marketing and other promotional work.

The recording was produced by Notch with lead vocals from Jamesette Anglin, Barry Quappe, Angie Manderson and Karen Edie. Male background vocalists were Lammie, Hubert Campbell and Notch.

“DOT was also delighted to have the chorus sung by students from the George Town Primary school,” Dot sated. Other musicians who contributed were Samuel Rose (bass), Wayne-Roy Randall (drums), Jr. Jennings (organ), Jah Mitch (guitar), Lammie (piano and bass), and Notch and Barry Quappe (Percussions).

Although Notch told the Caymanian Compass that it was “unfortunate” that local musicians were left out of the initial stages, he said in the DoT release, “"The CMEA is always willing to work on projects that are positive for Cayman and Caymanians and this collaboration with the DOT is a shining example of how we can work together towards a common goal. As the producer of the jingle it is my belief that this has been a positive experience for all involved and the Music Association and its members are pleased to have had the opportunity to infuse our local flair and flavour into this international advertising campaign. This collaboration is as a result of the new approach taken by the Ministerial Council for Tourism Development (MCTD) and the Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) and DOT, which in my opinion is a good approach and I look forward to opportunities for us to become involved and work together more closely in the future."

The DoT said that no individual or organization stands to receive residual payments from the production of the jingle and the local musicians who were involved were paid for their time.

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Bars get green light for New Year extensions

| 06/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman’s Liquor Licensing Board Chairman Mitchell Welds has granted permission for all current liquor licence holders to extend their opening hours on New Year’s Eve. As is customary except when the holiday falls on a Saturday (this year its a Friday) bars, restaurants and clubs are permitted to open a for an extra hour of business. All seven categories of liquor licensees are permitted to add on the hour beyond the regular closing time specified on their licences, Welds said. Licence stipulations, however, remain unchanged. “Liquor sales and playing of music should stop during the last ten minutes of permitted opening hours,” Welds explained. “Also, all customers must vacate the premises before closing time.”

The LLB will also be meeting this Thursday for its regular quarterly session but this time aside from discussing changes, the board will here new applications as a result of a short lifting of the existing moratorium on liquor license numbers.

Contact Board Executive Secretary Marva Scott on 946-5446 extn.5 or marva.scott@gov.ky for additional information.
 

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