Archive for August 3rd, 2011

Bush re-names schools

| 03/08/2011 | 178 Comments

(CNS): Both the country’s university and the law school will soon have new monikers as a result of a decision by the premier to re-name the educational institutions after two of Cayman’s veteran politicians and ministers. University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) will be named after Benson Ebanks and the Law School for Truman Bodden. Announcing that both the new titles had been approved by Cabinet just yesterday (Tuesday), Bush also revealed to the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday that he intended to name the new government administration building after a prominent civil servant and the Gerrard Smith Airport in Cayman Brac after Capt Charles Kirkconnell.

He said public buildings should be named after Caymanians that had something to do with them and after people who were still alive so they could enjoy it. The premier said the re-naming of public buildings and institutions was part of the nation building programme but also a way to honour people who had played a relevant part in them.

Explaining his decision to rename UCCI the Benson O Ebanks College, Bush said the institution started life as the Community College in 1971 and it was well recognised that the college took large strides during the time Ebanks was education minister.

“The college has grown from strength to strength, in the course of time making a huge impact for the good in the Cayman Islands and beyond,” Bush said, adding that it was fitting to name the college for him and formal steps would be taken to do it shortly.

Truman Bodden, who was also an education minister, was influenced by his own professional interest in the law. The premier said that Bodden had a great deal to do with the setting up of the Cayman Islands Law School, which was founded in 1982. “This institution has long proven its worth in the legal fraternity of the Cayman Islands, in the criminal justice system, and in the financial services industry,” Bush added as he announced that next year it would be renamed the Truman M. Bodden Law School.

“Both these men have made significant contributions to nation-building, in these and other ways. This recognition has been earned, and it matters not what side they were on politically. Their achievement, their contribution is the measure to be used,” he said.

Bush revealed that he intended to name more buildings after Caymanians, and although he did not name anyone, he said that the new government building would be named after a prominent civil servant and he would be consulting with Cabinet over that decision shortly. He also spoke about his intention to confer further with Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor Connolly as well as Moses Kirkconnell about renaming public buildings on the Brac, including the airport, which he said should be named for Capt Kirkconnell.

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Cops seize 1.2 tonnes of cocaine from luxury yacht

| 03/08/2011 | 17 Comments

(Yahoo News): Police have seized Britain's largest ever cocaine haul, worth up to £300 million, from a luxury yacht which had sailed from the Caribbean, officials said Wednesday. The 1.2-tonne stash was found hidden under the bathing deck of the pleasure cruiser docked in the port of Southampton in southeast England, Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and UK Border Agency (UKBA) said. Police believe the drugs were loaded onto the boat in Venezuela. In dawn raids Tuesday Dutch police, acting on intelligence from British and French authorities, arrested six men suspected to be involved in an international drugs ring responsible for the shipment.

Authorities were alerted to suspicions over the yacht, named Louise, while it was in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean in May. The boat was then intercepted in Southampton in June on its way to the Netherlands.

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Keys & blood found in bush

| 03/08/2011 | 39 Comments

(CNS): A set of keys which police believe may have belonged to Kerran Baker, the 25-year-old woman who has been missing since Saturday evening, was found in the bushes last night, along with a small patch of blood, police have confirmed. Senior police officers stated Wednesday that an officer in the search party had found the keys relatively close to where the car was also found at Pedro Castle, as well as smears of blood nearby. Chief Superintendent John Jones revealed that the keys were being checked to make sure they were Kerran's car keys and the blood was being forensically examined. Jones also confirmed that the missing woman's parents had now arrived in Cayman from Jamaica. (Photo — Police find keys during search — Dennie Warren Jr)

In today's press briefing regarding the disappearance of Kerran, Jones and Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden renewed their appeal to the public to help them fill in the movements of Kerran after she left Foster's Supermarket at around 7pm on Saturday evening. Jones said the police were certain she had gone home after that, as evidenced by the partially unpacked Foster's groceries found in her apartment in Bodden Town, but he said the police had no idea when she left her home again or why or how her white Honda Civic ended up several miles from her home.

“There have been no confirmed sightings of her since 7pm on Saturday evening,” he said. “We have no idea when her car got to Pedro's,” he added.

Jones said the discovery of the keys in the bush was of concern as it would be a "bizarre" thing for the owner to do. But he said there were no obvious signs of a struggle where the keys and the smear of blood has been found and until the forensic work was done they could not say who the blood belongs to.

The police also appealed for a woman who is using the nickname Kerry-Berry on Twitter to come forward so police can eliminate that line of enquiry, but Jones stated that police were almost certain that this is not the missing woman, despite them sharing the same nick-name, since it is believed that Kerran uses BBM and FaceBook but not Twitter.

Jones said that the police had followed several lines of enquiry but denied that there was any evidence that she had been involved in an altercation with another woman on Friday night or that any official restraining orders had been put in place with regard to anyone who may have been stalking Kerran. He said that conversations with many of Kerran's close friends, including people she was with on Friday, failed to reveal any problems on Friday night or any specific complaints she had made to the police.

Again expressing their concern for the safety of the missing woman, Jones said that with the arrival of her parents the police now hoped they may be able to fill in some of the missing pieces of her life and open possible new lines of enquiry.

Marlon Bodden confirmed that the suitcase found in the back of her car had been there for sometime and the speculation that it was old clothes that she was planning to give away appeared to be fairly accurate.

The two officers said that while the searches at Pedro were now complete, they would continue searching if any further evidence suggested it was required but that officers were now focusing their efforts on  talking with more ofKerran's friends and with her parents' recent arrival from Jamaica .

Police offered their thanks to the 100 or more people who turned up to assist with the search last night, which they said was very orderly. Bodden noted that the police welcomed the efforts of the public but stressed the need for any searches to be conducted in an organised manner coordinated by the police in order to preserve evidence and ensure that it would be admissible in court if necessary.

The officers appealed to public again to call the crime hotline 949-7777 with any information at all but were particularly keen for people to think if they had seen Kerran's car making its way between her home in Bodden Town and the place where it was found close to Pedro where a wedding party was going on that night.

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Home sales nearing reality in Communist Cuba

| 03/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNN): Olivia Sersute and her sister have shared the same home on the second floor of a faded Havana mansion since they were children and even after getting married and having kids of their own. They didn't have much choice. In theory, Cubans own their own homes, but they aren't allowed to sell them. "We're happy here," Sersute told CNN as she walked around the sparsely decorated apartment. "The problem is the kids. They're now in their 20s, and they want their own rooms. They want privacy." Her family has started the long and bureaucratic process of a house "swap" –­ the only legal option in Cuba for those who want to move. That is about to change. This week, Cuba's National Assembly approved a plan to enact a new law permitting the sale of real estate, which was banned after Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution.

The legislation is expected to go into effect by the end of the year as part of a major overhaul of Cuba's stagnant economy.

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MLAs return to parliament with full order paper

| 03/08/2011 | 20 Comments

(CNS): The country’s legislators will be back in the Legislative Assembly this morning with a full order paper. This is the eighth sitting of the budget meeting after the premier adjourned the house several weeks ago sine dia. The notification of the day’s order paper was sent to members late Tuesday evening and includes several suspensions of Standing Orders to enable government to introduce motions, withdraw bills and introduce bills without following the exact procedures established under the Standing Orders or the rules of the parliament. Government will be withdrawing the earlier version of the Public Management and Finance Amendment Bill and introducing a second version as well as minor changes to the Legal Practitioner’s Bill.

Government will also be answering a number of parliamentary questions which were submitted by opposition members many months ago regarding the proposals by the premier to dredge a channel in the North Sound to facilitate a mega yacht marina.

Ezzard Miller the independent member for North Side expressed his disappointment Tuesday evening, saying the government was once again showing its total disregard for the country’s parliament when it circulated an order paper to members less than 20 hours before the sitting was set to commence.

Government has not yet indicated how long this sitting will last or if it intends to adjourn the sitting and set a time for a new meeting to enable the opposition to submit new parliamentary questions or motions.

Check back to CNS throughout this week for full coverage of the Legislative Assembly proceedings

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Cayman Finance urges government to cut debt

| 03/08/2011 | 18 Comments

(CNS): Although Cayman Finance has offered a cautious welcome on the expansion of the country’s GDP revealed by the economics and statistics office on Friday the local industry body also noted the various negative aspects of the latest results. Last week the ESO published the first quarter report for the 2011 calendar year and announced that GDP had expanded at an annualised rate of 1.2% .The rate compared well with growth in the UK of 0.5% and that in the USA of 0.4%. Despite other positive results, such as the increase in air arrivals and new company registrations, Richard Coles the chair of Cayman Finance urged government to do what it could to reduce the country’s debt.

“When we look at the financial mayhem in the USA, Greece, Portugal and even in the UK we should not be too despondent however we have to be realistic and examine the areas where we are not doing so well,” he said drawing attention to the various negative results from the continuing fall in work permits as well as the declining in mutual funds, bank and trust registrations as well as the increase in public debt.

Coles also call on the country’s leader to harness the existing expertise in the country’s financial services sector to promote the industry.

“Cayman Finance has been encouraged that Premier McKeeva Bush has struck up a good relationship with the new coalition ministers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London but it is clear that government borrowing remains an issue. We urge The Premier to harness the expertise of our very sophisticated financial sector and aggressively promote the virtues of Cayman throughout the world,” he added.

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Mubarak stands trial in Egypt

| 03/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): An ailing Hosni Mubarak, who served longer than any ruler of modern Egypt until he was overthrown in a revolution in February, was rolled into a courtroom in a hospital bed on Wednesday and charged with corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters. The trial was a seminal moment for Egypt and an Arab world roiled by revolt. Even the most ardent in calling for his prosecution doubted until hours before the trial began that Mr. Mubarak, 83, would appear, a reflection of the suspicion and unease that reigns here. As a helicopter ferried him to the courtroom, housed in a police academy that once bore his name, cheers went up from a crowd gathered outside. 

“The criminal is coming!” shouted Maged Wahba, a 40-year-old lawyer.

The sheer symbolism of the day made it one of the most visceral episodes in modern Arab history. In a region whose destiny was so long determined by rulers who deemed their people unfit to rule, one of those rulers was being tried by his public. On this day, the aura of power — uncontested and distant — was made mundane, and Mr. Mubarak, the former president, dressed in white and bearing a look some read as disdain, was humbled.

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Twitter valued at $8bn after large investment

| 03/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Twitter, the microblogging website that lets users tweet messages of 140 characters or less, is now worth $8bn (£4.9bn). The firm's new price tag comes after a $400m investment in the loss-making venture from serial social media investor DST Global. Twitter is now nominally worth about the same as rating agency Moody's, which had revenues of $1.2bn in the first six months of 2011 and is nearly as valuable as Marks & Spencer.The huge valuation reflects high expectations for the company. Confirming the investment, Twitter also announced that its users now send 200m tweets a day, up from 65m a year ago.

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Acquitted man faces new firearm’s charge

| 03/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Jose Sanchez from West Bay who walked free from the Grand Court on Monday 25 July after being acquitted in a murder case was back in court Tuesday facing fresh charges of possession of an imitation firearm. The twenty-four year old West Bay man who had been released from custody after some fifteen months in jail on remand was re-arrested after only three days of freedom. Sanchez (left) He was released from custody again however, at the instructions of the magistrate who order that Sanchez go live with his grandparent outside of the West Bay area.

Sanchez was joined in the dock by Robert Bush and Christopher Bush who were also released on bail having faced charges for GBH assault. All three men were arrested by police on Thursday last week after an incident outside Club Inferno in West Bay. The men are accused of threatening another man with a gun and then hitting him over the head with a bottle. The name of the complainant was not revealed in the court and men’s case was listed to return at a future date.

Jose Sanchez was found not guilty of the murder of Alrick Peddie along with Robert Crawford and Deward Bush after a judge alone trial in the Grand Court last month. Peddie was shot nine times as he was gunned down in the middle of the afternoon in his grandmother’s yard in West Bay on 24 March last year.

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Kerry spotted on CCTV

| 03/08/2011 | 19 Comments

(CNS): The police released CCTV images Tuesday of 25-year-old Kerran Baker, who has been missing since Saturday evening, as they appealed to the public for more information to help them piece togetherher movements last weekend. Chief Superintendent John Jones said that she was last seen in Foster’s Supermarket by the airport at around 7pm, where she was caught on the CCTV system. Despite extensive searches and the pursuit of numerous lines of enquiry, she has not been seen or heard from since, and the senior officers said the police did not have a clue as to her whereabouts. They also said that nothing in the investigation so far stood out as a possible indication of what might have happened to Kerran.

“We must be clear here, at present we do not have a clue as to where Kerran is,” said Jones at a press briefing on Tuesday at police headquarters as he and his colleague, Marlon Bodden, appealed for more information to help the continued and now widening search.

The young woman was reported missing to police on Sunday and her white Honda Civic was found on Monday parked off the road close to Pedro Castle. Bodden said it was casually parked and there were no signs that it had been left there in a hurry.  As the police revealed that they were pursuing every avenue in connection with Kerran, members of the public met at Pedro’s Tuesday evening to begin a volunteer search of the area.

Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden asked those who were engaging in the search to contact the police if they find anything in order to ensure that any evidence would be preserved. “We appreciate the community wanting to come together and search but in so doing we want to make sure if they come across anything relevant, rather than touching it they give us a call so we can preserve any possible evidence,” he stated.

He also assured the community that the police were doing everything they could and had dedicated 18 officers to the investigation, who had been following up on the diverse lines of enquiry.

Police said they had not found Kerran’s phone but they were aware of the time it was last used and were working with the telephone companies on the island to follow what clues there were with the phones use. Jones warned, however, that while cell phones can assist greatly, they do have limitations. “It was the first issue we looked at,” Jones stated, but the phone had not assisted officers to locate the missing woman.

Bodden urged the wider community to help the police with any information they may have about Kerran and her life that may help them piece together her movements during the weekend when she is understood to have disappeared.

Both officers noted that the RCIPS get a lot of missing person reports but more often than not the people come home within twenty-four hours. Kerran has been missing now for almost three days and police said that all of her friends say this is out of character and they are increasingly concerned for her safety.

They also said that for a woman who was outgoing and friendly, with a very wide circle of friends, who was in constant telephone contact to be suddenly out of communication for such a long time further heightened the anxiety surrounding her disappearance. She left Fosters around 7pm, and perishable groceries were found still in Foster’s food bags on the counter in her home in Bodden Town when a concerned friend and Kerran's landlord entered her apartment on Sunday before reporting her missing to the police.

Extensive ground and sea searches, supported by the helicopter, door to door enquiries around the area and at her home, and a thorough forensic examination of Kerran’s car were hampered by the heavy rains over the weekend.

Police said, however, that a function was taking place at Pedro’s on Saturday evening and appealed to anyone who attended to make contact with the police if they think they couldhave seen the white car or Kerran that night. Jones also appealed to people who walk in the evenings in the Pedro area to think if they may have seen the white car pass them as they walked along the road over the weekend.

The senior officer stated that police were searching other areas on Grand Cayman as well as her home and where the car was found but he said it was difficult to search every square inch of the island and asked everyone to check their property for anything that seems unusual.

“We need to know what has happened to her,” said Jones. “There are a lot of people out there who know Kerran as she enjoys a full social life and has lots of friends, so we would like to hear from anyone that has any information that may assist with piecing things together.”

Marlon Bodden also noted that they had researched the historical background on Kerran and were aware of some domestic complaints made to the police. He said, however, that no reports had been made to the authorities prior to her disappearance about anyone stalking or threatening her. They did say that they were following up on the information that had been given to them by her friends and family. But they said they wanted to hear from more of her friends whom she may have confided in about her life that may help police in their search.

Neither officer would speculate about what may have happened to the young woman and noted that there was no specific thread of suspicion that was emerging. “We are keeping an open mind and have to remain evidence driven,” said Bodden “But we are very concerned about her wellbeing and want to find her.”

Kerran has been in the Cayman Islands for more than two years and works at a doctor’s surgery in George Town. She came to Cayman from Jamaica and lives alone in an apartment in Bodden Town.

Anyone with any information about Kerran should contact George Town police station on 949-4222.

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