Archive for December 10th, 2010

Armed, masked men invade West Bay home

| 10/12/2010 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Police are investigating an aggravated burglary in which the victim reported finding three men in his living room, all wearing dark clothing and masks, on Thursday night (9 December). An RCIPS spokesperson revealed that the victim had said two of the men were in possession of firearms — a shot gun and a revolver — while the third offender was carrying a machete. The offenders demanded money but were unsuccessful and fled empty handed from the home in Sweet Gum Lane. Police said an extensive search was made of the area in the wake of the report made at 11:39pm but there was no trace of the suspects. Two other occupants of the house also allege they were held at gunpoint but nothing was stolen.

The police said one of the men, who was carrying the revolver, was descried as 5’8" tall, slim built, dressed in black shirt and what seemed to be a shirt covering his face. No other descriptions were offered of the suspects.

Police said investigations are continuing by West Bay CID and anyone with information about this is asked tocontact them on 949-3999 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477.

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Gangs in Bermuda becoming more organised

| 10/12/2010 | 3 Comments

(The Royal Gazette): Bermuda’s gangs are in the process of reshuffling and will re-emerge a “more organised, robust force”, according to community activist Carlton Simmons. He told the joint parliamentary select committee on violent crime and gun violence yesterday that gangs had suffered due to increased police enforcement but would adapt and inevitably resurface. “As we continue to apply pressure and particularly police pressure they will learn more sophisticated techniques,” he said. “They are organised but they will get more organised. They will get more determined, they will get more desperate.” Mr Simmons, president of the Youth on the Move charity, described the gangs as hierarchical and “like a moving organism”.

He told MPs that Bermuda was broadly divided into about four or five territories controlled by separate gangs. “As leaders are taken down or imprisoned, more emerge,” he said. “Factions develop within the gangs.”

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Governor’s office defends human rights commission

| 10/12/2010 | 6 Comments

(CNS): As the Cayman Islands joined the international community to celebrate Human Rights Day for the first time on Friday the governor’s office also defended criticisms about the make up of the human rights commission. Trainers that came to Cayman in September to hold a workshop on the issue of human rights said the local commission fell short of the diversity requirements of Paris principals which guide the makeup of human rights bodies around the world. A spokesperson for the governor’s officer however said that these are very general principals and not legally binding. There was wide he said wide representation on the Cayman HRC.

“We believe it is sufficient. It has to be borne in mind that although ideally all the above groups would be represented, the Cayman Human Rights Commission is necessarily very small and it is therefore not possible to have as wide a representation as would be possible in a larger country,” the spokesperson added.

The criticisms were made during the training session which was sponsored by the Commonwealth Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development and hosted by international human rights experts who were advising public sector workers and the media about how the Cayman Islands new bill of rights which comes into effect in 2010 is likely to affect their work.

On Cayman’s first human right’s day celebrations however the governor also stood by the local commission and wished it success in its future work as Cayman moved towards implementing its own bill of rights.

“Here in the Cayman Islands, we enjoy all the basic human rights and live in a free and tolerant society. But we should not take these rights for granted: we need to ensure that they are understood and protected,” he said in his message to mark the celebrations,

This year‘s theme “Speak Up: Stop Discrimination” honouring those who promote human rights will form part of a campaign by the commission this evening. Chair of the local commission Richard Coles said, “Human rights are for all, and I encourage everyone in Cayman to come out and get to know the rights and responsibilities now contained in our Constitution.”

Before the Cayman Islands’ Bill of Rights comes into effect in November 2012 human rights are still protected by various international treaties and Caymanians have the right to petition the European Court of human rights.

The first declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948 setting out the principle that all individuals, without distinction of any kind, were entitled to certain inalienable rights and freedoms. This year’s International Human Rights Day aims to highlight the work of human rights defenders around the world who act to promote or protect human rights.

As stated by the UN, human rights are inherent to all people, without discrimination by nationality, ethnic origin, sex, religion or any other status. They are recognized almost universally. The declaration became the foundation of international human-rights law though it is not itself legally binding. More than 150 states are party to the Declaration and the principles have been enshrined in the constitutions of more than 90 countries, and translated into 300 languages.

Beginning at 6pm this Friday on The Paseo at Camana Bay there will be a free family event featuring local musicians, actors, artists and vendors. Children can create their own works of art in the activity corner. In addition, Twyla Vargas, Michael McLaughlin, Nasaria Suckoo, Rita Estevanovich, Gordon Solomon, and others will entertain with skits, inspirational poetry, and story-telling. Artists will also have work on display and for sale.
There will also be musical performances by Clever Knots, The Vagabonds, Natasha Kozaily, and Madame Speaker, as well as by students of the Lighthouse School of Special Education.

For more information on the event or the Human Rights Commission, call 244-3690 or visit our website at www.humanrightscommission.ky
 

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Cayman Islands Yellow Pages keeps islands green

| 10/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Over 37,000 phone directories were collected and kept out of the landfill in November as part of the Cayman Islands Yellow Pages (CIYP) “Yellow2Green” initiative, a programme designed to recycle old phone books into insulation for homes. “We’re absolutely thrilled,” said CIYP Marketing Manager Eileen Keens. “It’s amazing to witness a country’s spirit of community and responsibility – so many people actively participated in this campaign for a common good."

She added, "The Cayman Islands are ready for an environmental movement and this is the beginning.”

“The energy of our youth was perhaps the most incredible part of this project,” added Keens in reference to the Yellow2Green School Challenge – a competition encouraging the island’s youth to learn about conserving the environment. The school to collect the most books per students enrolled won $1,500. “All the primary schools played an active role collecting books and they didn’t do it just to win a prize. Our kids understand that their islands are their future and they’ve set a good example for the rest of us to follow – we all live here and we’re all responsible for our environment.”

In order to level the playing field, the Yellow2Green School Challenge tallied the number of books collected according to how many children were enrolled in each school and the winning class from every school that participated won a pizza party. North Side Primary School took home the grand prize, collecting 21 books per student. Acting Principal Carol Nyack was happy to accept the prize on behalf of her students: “We’re overjoyed and thankful to CIYP for such a unique recycling program – everyone is a winner!”

Wesleyan Christian Academy placed a close second, taking home $1,000 cash, and a great sense of pride for their contribution of 20 books per student. “It was exciting to see such school spirit,” explained Principal Sonia Grant. “The older students helped the younger ones, parents and faculty pitched in – it was an incredible experience for the entire school.”

Keens also recognised that, while Prospect Primary School came in third place with 17 books per student, they collected the most books overall. “We’d like to acknowledge Prospect Primary for collecting over 7,000 books – this is an important contribution.”

Mark Macfee, Executive Vice President of CIYP’s parent company Global Directories, gave a special acknowledgement to all schools and students for participating: “The eager participation of the schools brought an added excitement to the programme, which permeated throughout the entire community. Our thanks go out to all students and faculty for truly embracing this initiative.”

Macfee also announced that Yellow2Green will become an annual programme: “This is an important environmental movement and it gives me great pleasure to announce its success. With the help of our corporate sponsors we will continue to lead this initiative annually, not only in Grand Cayman but, as of next year, in Cayman Brac as well.”

All books will be shipped via Thompson Shipping Line to Tampa where they’ll be 100% recycled into natural fiber insulation that is used in homes to aid in energy efficiency. Greenfiber is North America’s leading natural fiber manufacturer and they have been working with communities across the USA, and now in the Caribbean, to help keep over one million tons of paper out of the landfills.

“Thank you to everyone in Cayman who participated. And thanks to all our sponsors for their support. The environment is a big deal and people know it. Our landfill doesn’t need any more unnecessary waste,” added Keens.
 

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Cayman Prep high school sailing champs

| 10/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(CISC): Following on from the thrilling RBC Primary School Championships, the older sailors took to the waters to compete in J22 keelboats for the High School Championships. The regatta was sailed on 4 December 2010 at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club (CISC). The conditions were extremely challenging and the first race was delayed whilst the coaches and race committee monitored the wind and wave conditions to determine if it was safe to go out. In the early afternoon the wind die out a little (it had been gusting up to 18 knots in the morning) and the decision was made to go ahead.

Each school had a team of four or five sailors who raced a total of three races. They had been training for many weeks on the two CISC J22 boats. The J22 is a globally established one design race boat, normally sailed by a crew of three or four adults. CISC is home to a fleet of 14 of these exciting boats, 12 privately owned.

Cayman Prep fielded two teams and it was not surprising when their A Team got off to a flying start with the more experienced Thomas Hanson at the helm. Thomas led the Youth team sailing in Race Cayman 2010 earlier this year, sailing against adult sailors from a number of different countries and acquitting themselves well. Cayman Prep B team and St Ignatius fought it out for second place.

Cayman Prep A went on to dominate and win all three races. Prep B, helmed by Thomas Bishop, took second in the first two races but in a very exciting third race they pushed too hard having to duck St Ignatius in a very tight maneuver and nearly lost one of the crew overboard. This gave St Ignatius the opportunity to sail into second place and, with Prep B failing to finish the course, gave them a share of second place.

Coach Raph praised the children and their teachers for their efforts over the year in preparing for this regatta and having the confidence to take out a $15,000 boat in strong wind conditions. “Although some of these youngsters don’t yet have the body weight and strength needed to sail the J22 in strong wind conditions, the boat handling skills they have learned coming through the youth programme allows them to control the boats in the competitive situation.”

Rick Caley, CISC manager, handed out the RBC trophy on behalf of Royal Bank. As always CISC is grateful to RBC for sponsoring this event for the last twelve years.

In other J22 news, there are currently three teams of adults from Cayman competing in Montego Bay in the Jammin’ regatta and three adult sailors are training hard to go to the J22 world championships in 2011.

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No room for local law clerks

| 10/12/2010 | 125 Comments

(CNS): The question of why, when there are around 550 lawyers licensed to practice in Cayman, there is no room for 11 young Caymanians seeking positions as articled clerks was a point of concern for both sides of the Legislative Assembly on Thursday morning. Two questions put to the attorney general by George Town MLA Alden McLaughlin raised the issue of why it was so difficult for the young would-be lawyers who had studied at the Cayman Islands Law School, which was now widely respected, to find a law firm to train them. With 368 non-Caymanian lawyers called to the bar in the last five years, the premier said he would act to force firms to train young local lawyers.

Attorney General Samuel Bulgin said it should be part of a lawyer’s DNA to both train law school graduates and do pro bono work. He added that government should not have to compel the legal profession to undertake this important role as they should be doing it as part of their profession. But he said there were a number of reasons why firms were not taking on clerks, the main one being the economic circumstances.

McLaughlin asked what efforts were being made to put pressure on legal firms to provide the necessary training opportunities for young Caymanians. The AG said his office was speaking with the profession to try and find places for the eleven graduates.

“Overtures have been made to the people who operate the firms and appeals made for them to try and accommodate the people seeking articles,” Bulgin said, adding that over the last six years some fourteen lawyers had articled in the AG’s chambers. He said it was regrettable that the firms would have to be pressured to offer training to new lawyers.

When Miller asked the AG to speak with the business staffing plan board to put a stop on all permits for overseas lawyers with less than ten years experience until these eleven Caymanians found articles, Bulgin suggested that would be difficult.

He confirmed that work-permits were not given to law firms for attorneys with less than three years work experience and that entry level positions were reserved for Caymanians. He admitted, however, there were a few article clerks training at law firms who were not Caymanian but had “Caymanian connections”, such as being married to locals or with parents who were long time residents.

Arden McLean suggested that firms which had clerks that were not Caymanians should be compelled to also take one of the eleven now seeking articles. He said it was a vexing situation and suggested that the “legal fraternity was not so noble” a profession as they would like people to believe.

The AG said he would hold a meeting with the profession as he was also disappointed that these eleven law school graduates were still trying to find a place.

The premier said he had very real concerns that there were some 550 lawyers registered to practice in Cayman but young Caymanians were not being given an opportunity. He warned that he would be looking at some kind of compulsion under the new legal practitioner’s bill that was currently still under discussion, but government would see to it that there was some kind of obligation.

“We have that many lawyers and you tell me that they can’t find room for 11?” he queried. “I will bring government authority to bear on this.”

McKeeva Bush pointed out that it was not a new situation and that from the time the Law School started 27 years ago local law firms avoided taking on young Caymanian law graduates. “The regime must change and I will see that it will change,” the premier stated, adding that it was a very important matter.

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Lawmakers ask AG to prosecute paper & reporter

| 10/12/2010 | 37 Comments

(CNS): An article in The Caymanian Compass regarding the closed door meetings set to review the Freedom of Information Law and an editorial on the subject stirred up the wrath of the Legislative Assembly on Thursday. The speaker, in a brief statement, said the article and editorial had impugned the integrity of members and fallen foul of Section 18 of the Immunities, Powers and Privileges Law and called for an apology before suspending the reporter’s privilege to report for the remainder of the week. Shortly afterwards, the independent member for North Side took the issue a step further and tabled a motion asking the attorney general to prosecute both the paper and the reporter.

The debate then took most of the day as MLAs chastised the press in varying forms and spoke of the importance of not insulting the processes of democracy and their elected office.

Ezzard Miller suggested the offence committed by the paper was the use of the word “secret” to describe closed door meetings of a select committee to discuss freedom of information and the implication in the article that lawmakers may do something “untoward during those deliberations”. The North Side representative said that when the press writes something about him personally he leaves it alone but  the LA was governed by rules, which were broken by the news article and editorial.

The premier took aim at the press in the debate and pointed out that he had asked the members to form an association to regulate themselves but had been taken to task for it. He said he believed the press was intent on embarrassing the members of the LA and said he wanted to see a higher standard as he was trying to elevate the country.

Criticising the bloggers and the people who call into the radio shows, he also took aim at those who had criticised him for using the word “darling” at a public meeting. Not for the first time, he questioned the credentials of members of the local press and their politics. However, despite his comments and his position that he believed the reporter knew better, he said he would not support prosecuting the Compass, which, he said, was the best newspaper.

“Let us show we are not like them,” he said, asking members to be Christian.

Most of the other members of the House, including those on the government benches, however, did not agree and spoke in support of Miller’s motion criticising the reporter, the article, the editorial and the wider press for articles in the past and for not being responsible.

Alden McLaughlin was the exception, as he agreed with the premier’s position and noted that the speaker’s request for an apology and the sanction were enough. He said the journalist in question, Brent Fuller, was a good reporter who had made one mistake.

Describing Miller’s motion as “a bit over the top”, he warned his parliamentary colleagues not to go down the road of giving the appearance of censoring or intimidating the press. The George Town opposition member said there was always tension between legislators, especially government, and the press but it was to be expected. He said that unless a journalist got their facts wrong, there was little to be gained in trying to take the press on.

Following the debate, the premier said that since the motion was not a Cabinet issue the members of government could vote their conscience. Members voted in favour by nine votes to four. Only Mike Adam and Elio Solomon joined the premier and McLaughlin in voting ‘no’. Both Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and the opposition leader Kurt Tibbetts were absent from the chamber. With Miller’s motion passed, the premier asked Attorney General Sam Bulgin what would happen next.

Bulgin pointed out that the motion was a request to prosecute, not a direction, and as with any legal case, his chambers would examine the evidence and use its discretion about whether there was grounds or if it was in the public interest.

Throughout the debate the members did not discus the issue raised in the article and the editorial, which essentially questioned why the legislators had chosen to hold the select committee, sub-committee review of the FOI law meetings behind closed doors, when it is the members’ discretion to hold the meetings in public if they so choose.

Although select committee meetings are usually ’in camera’ unless witness are being called, how meetings are conducted is a matter for the chair and the members of the committee.

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Bank lays off ten Caymanians days before Christmas

| 10/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Butterfield Bank has confirmed that it has made ten Caymanians redundant with immediate effect. The news comes just two weeks before Christmas and against a continuing economic slump. The bank said, however, that it was committed to the Cayman Islands and the ten jobs were lost from a workforce of 345, only 8% of which are permit holders. Last quarter the bank announced a third quarter net loss of $18.6 million, compared to net income of $0.2 million for the second quarter of 2010, due to lower interest income earned and increased IT outsourcing costs.

Click here to go to CNS Business page to read this and other business news stories & comment.

 

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Bank cuts 10 local workers

| 10/12/2010 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Ten Caymanians have lost their jobs from Butterfield Bank as a result of redundancies, the bank has confirmed. A bank spokesperson told CNS that the ten positions were out of a total of 345 employees in the CaymanIslands and Butterfield remained “committed to its bank in the Cayman Islands and to providing world-class financial services.” Although the lost jobs were local employees, the bank said less than 8% of its work force is on permits. The announcement of the job losses, which were not specified but take immediate affect, comes two weeks before Christmas and against a backdrop of a continuing economic slowdown.

Last month Butterfield announced a third quarter net loss of $18.6 million, compared to net income of $0.2 million for the second quarter of 2010. In Cayman the bank reported net income before gains and losses of $2.4 million for Q3 2010, $ 1.1 million below Q3 2009, due to lower interest income earned and increased IT outsourcing costs.

At the time, Brad Rowse, the Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer of the banking group, said that while the financial markets have stabilised in 2010, banks continued to face difficult conditions and Butterfield was reviewing all aspects of its business against a backdrop of global uncertainty to ensure the right balance between current profitability and future growth.

"The Bank is well positioned with a strong capital base and remains focused on the two pillars of our business, community banking and wealth management,” he said.

Excluding the $0.3 million gain in the prior year, in the Cayman Islands total revenues of $15.3 million were $0.7 million below Q3 2009 results, primarily due to decreased interest income and lower FX commissions,” local bank officials said.

The bank was also in the news recently when its branch at the Compass Centre on North Sound Road was the target of armed bank robbers. Police are still hunting the masked men, who charged into the bank on 24 November and fired a shot before taking an undisclosed sum of cash and fleeing in a getaway vehicle parked outside.

Crime Stoppers joined up with the bank to offer a $50,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction and is passed to police before the year end.

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So what’s in your package?

| 10/12/2010 | 12 Comments

Having woken this morning full of the excitement and glee I once had on Christmas mornings anticipating the arrival of Santa, excited to read the premier’s stimulus package, imagine my disappointment. Feeling so dejected I looked up the word stimulus in the dictionary to make sure it was not my poor education that had led me to believe that ‘stimulus’ meant something a little exciting that would get us all going — a little incentive, but I was not wrong.

While it will be nice for my Chinese friends to come and visit this New Year and for my tight fisted, mean and rather distant 93-year-old great uncle to come live here for 25 years, I don’t feel terribly stimulated by the news. And, of course, having my mortgage principle payments frozen for a few months would be nice if I banked with Cayman National, but as I don’t I’ll just have to settle for the month’s grace we usually get over Christmas anyway.

I did for the minute feel a twinge of stimulation at the mention of duty reductions but sadly I’m not sure what the premier intends to offer in his duty free package so I don’t know what to go out and buy. And to be honest, now I know there might just be a bit of a discount coming soon I shan’t bother going shopping again until I know what it is. I mean, I would hate to go out and buy a new flat screen TV next week only to find I could have got 27% off if I’d waited. I do loathe missing a bargain, don’t you?

And, of course, my cousin is delighted to be working on the clean-up programme, but he said that he was hoping there might be something indoors after Christmas because, being an accountant, his hands get terribly chapped when he does yard work.

Oh, and possibly, maybe, perhaps, the reduction in stamp duty might help things for my niece who’s getting married soon and would like to move out of the tent she is living in with her boyfriend because his feet smell (which is not so bad because they do stick out the end of the tent) but she’ll just have to wait and see.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t think Mr Premier tried his best but I think maybe the 250 suggestions from the dozen or so organisations must have all been a bit rubbish and he’s picked the best that they had to offer. I mean, what can he do if no one’s got any good ideas?

And he has offered another exciting countdown for us when he said that in the first quarter of 2011 a “promotional strategy” to bring in that financial “physical presence” which means we can now start counting down to 30 March (110 days this time — a bit longer than the last one). How exciting!

The big one, though, really does appear to be how under the premier’s “stewardship” the new high schools project will be starting again. Now that was truly stimulating! Hundreds of jobs and business opportunities. A little Keynesian perhaps — government spending money to get the economy going — but crikey, imagine how stimulated we’d all feel now if that had happened a year ago. But let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth, eh?

Let’s face it, we are all different and one man’s stimulus package could be another man’s damp squib. But hey! Who am I to criticize …?

Happy Christmas, bloggers.

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