Archive for October 17th, 2011

Housing trust official arrested

| 17/10/2011 | 100 Comments

(CNS): Updated — The RCIPS has confirmed that a man has been arrested under the anti-corruption law in connection with a fraud relating to the government’s affordable housing project in East End. CNS understands that one of the officials of the National Housing Development Trust board is accused of manipulating his position of trust to sell insurance to applicants who applied to buy homes on the recently completed East End site. Police have not named the man, who has been arrested on corruption and deception offences, though as yet no charges have been brought against him in connection with the alleged fraud. CNS also understands that the man arrested was an official with the UDP.

"The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has launched an investigation into allegations of misconduct within the National Housing Development Trust,” a police spokesperson told CNS on Monday afternoon. “As part of that investigation a 59-year-old man was arrested at his home in the George Town area this morning, Monday 17 October 2011. He was arrested in terms of sections 13 and 17 of the Anti-Corruption Law 2010 for breach of trust and abuse of public office, as well as suspicion of obtaining property by deception."

As the investigation is currently ongoing, the police said they could not comment further on the case at this stage.

The man who was arrested at his home this morning is one of only three remaining members of the NHDT board after several recent resignations. CNS spoke this evening with Mike Adam, the community affairs minister with responsibility for housing.  

Adam said that he had been aware of an investigation but was waiting to speak to the commissioner about the details of the arrest as he did not know, at the time he spoke with CNS on Monday evening, who had been arrested .

CNS also contacted the UDP general secretary Elio Solomon, who said that he would be discussing the issue with the council and would release an official party statement shortly.

Check back to CNS for more on this story tomorrow.

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Mac urges debate for future

| 17/10/2011 | 69 Comments

(CNS): The premier has urged the constitutional commissioners to consider the issue of independence in their education campaign on the advancement of the Cayman Islands Constitution and the country’s relationship with the UK. McKeeva Bush said that the next generation was unlikely to be as tolerant about the current relationship that Cayman has with the governing power so the country needed to begin talking about what the implications of an independent Cayman would be. Speaking at a public meeting about the constitution in his constituency of West Bay, Bush said he was not advocating independence now but urged the commissioners to begin talking about it.

“I would ask you to pay closer attention to the implications, the pros and the cons of an independent Cayman Islands. Whether that is fifteen, twenty or thirty years from now, at least our children need to know what it entails,” Bush said at the meeting hosted by the Constitutional Commission.  “I believe they’re not going to be as tolerant as we have been to the administering powers,” he added.

The premier spoke about the role of the commission  to educate and discuss these issues, adding that he had envisioned the Constitutional Commission as being under the elected arm of government as a body that would not just educate but perhaps “agitate for” the advancement towards independence and prepare people for the future.

In the past it was always understood that if a political party campaigned on an independence platform, and if it was elected, the UK would be willing to let the territory begin independence talks but now it would require a referendum, he said.

Given the wide ranging implications of separation from the UK  the subject had to form part of the commissioner’s education campaign, Bush said. Emphasising that he “was not saying we should go independent,” the premier said the country needed to understand the process and begin talking about it now in preparation for the future.

The commissioners said that the discussion about constitutional advancement was very much a part of their public education remit. Wil Pineau, one of the commissioners, said that there were plans to examine the question in a forthcoming discussion paper and raise the many implications of independence and the steps that needed to be taken towards it.

Pineau said the economic, diplomatic and political consequences, as well as international relationships with other countries beyond the UK and with their existing trading partnerships were just some of the areas that would need to be discussed before Cayman could properly consider taking the next steps towards independence.

“Whatever the step forward is, the people of our community have to understand what the implications will be,” he said, adding that other countries had failed to examine all of these issues before taking the step towards independence, which in some cases had proved to be to their detriment.

“We want to educate the people to ensure that whatever step the public decides to take … when that vote is taken, they have all of the information in front of them,” Pineau added, referring to what would eventually be a national referendum on the question. He said there were many far reaching issues and people really needed to understand what they would be getting into.

Bush also talked about his concerns about the existing constitution, in particular the costs of implementing it and the Bill of Rights, which comes into effect next November, adding that he was afraid that it would create more bureaucracy.

Having publicly declared on many occasions that he did not vote for the 2009 Constitution, Bush said that as a democrat he was working “with what we got”, adding that there were some good things in it. The premier said some of the changes shifted the balance of power a little from the governor to the elected arm of government and the UK was now obligated to consider the interests of the Cayman Islands. However, Bush told the West Bay audience that he still believed Cayman had missed an opportunity in 2003 to get a better constitution, referring to a previous round of talks.

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Porn hackers attack Sesame Street Youtube page

| 17/10/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNN): Hackers appeared to have commandeered the YouTube page of the venerable "Sesame Street" children's show Sunday, reprogramming the page with content brought to you by the letter "X." The show page was taken offline Sunday afternoon, and visitors were greeted with a message from the video website informing them it had been shut down "due to repeated or severe violations of our community guidelines." Users who called up the account earlier had found explicit sex videos instead of Muppets. "YouTube's Community Guidelines prohibit graphic content," a YouTube representative told CNN. "As always, we remove inappropriate material as soon as we are made aware of it."

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind Sesame Street, issued an apology Sunday.

"Our channel was compromised and we are presently working with YouTube/Google to restore our original content," the group said. "We always strive to provide age-appropriate content for our viewers and hope to resolve this problem quickly."

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Salt could increase data storage six fold

| 17/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(Times of India): Scientists in Singapore have discovered a process that can expand the data storage capacity of computer hard disks six-fold using a common kitchen ingredient — table salt. The discovery was made by Singapore's national research institute the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, in collaboration with the National University of Singapore and the Data Storage Institute. The institutions have "developed a process that can increase the data recording density of hard disks to 3.3 Terabits per square inch, six times the recording density of current models", they said in a statement.

"This means that a hard disk drive that holds 1 Terabyte (TB) of data today could, in the future, hold 6 TB of information in the same size using this new technology."

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Penguin ‘thief’ caught in the act by crew

| 17/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(BBC): A "criminal" stone-stealing Adelie penguin has been captured on camera by a BBC film crew. The team, filming for the documentary Frozen Planet, spent four months with the penguin colony on Ross Island, Antarctica. The footage they captured shows a male penguin stealing stones from its neighbour's nest. The birds build their stone nests to elevate and protect their eggs from run-off when the Antarctic ice melts. Males with the best nests are more likely to attract a mate, so, in a colony of half a million penguins, the best stones are highly prized.

Jeff Wilson, director of the shoot, explained that he and the cameraman, Mark Smith, knew that the birds occasionally stole stones from one another. But he said it was a challenge to capture the moment in the chaos of a busy penguin colony.

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Cayman jet-ski champ returns home a hero

| 17/10/2011 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Local jet-ski champion Jordan ‘JJ’ McLean returned to the Cayman Islands on Sunday a hero of the water craft world after his victory at the 2011 IJSBA World Championship Finals in Lake Havasu Arizona last weekend. Cayman’s Yamaha FZR rider, who has now added a world title to his trophy cabinet, had a clean sweep this summer coming in first in every Pro Runabout Limited race, firmly establishing him as one of the sport’s elite riders with a world title. McLean also came in second in the Expert Runabout Limited race behind Kuwait’s Abadullah Alfadhel. McLean follows in the footsteps of Jason Smith, who took Cayman to victory in the sport in Lake Havasu back in 2003.

See McLean in action on Youtube


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Techy zone talks to Virgin

| 17/10/2011 | 61 Comments

(CNS): Cayman Enterprise City has conducted “preliminary meetings” with Virgin Produced to discuss ways in which the company could become involved in Cayman’s new Special Economic Zone due to open next month. Virgin Produced is the film and TV development, packaging and production company within Richard Branson’s Virgin group and was formed in 2010. Its first movie Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper was released earlier this year. Cayman Enterprise City’s CEO Jason Blick said that Virgin Produced was looking at ways to build a media studio possibly within Cayman Media Park, one of the parks that will make up the new zone.

Blick said CEC met with the company’s creative director, Justin Berfield, and CEO Jason Felts about a month ago and CEC was currently “actively working on a proposal” to present to Virgin Produced.

“We presented CEC as a whole with a particular focus on Cayman Media Park,” Blick told CNS. “The conclusion of the meeting was CEC addresses many of the requirements of the international production and licensing community. We have agreed to issue a proposal to Virgin Produced later this month.”

According to Blick, the company seen Cayman as a base from which to establish an arm of its business for some time because individuals within the management of the company had already built up an affinity with the island through personal visits. Up until this point, the set-up had not been conducive for the media company to establish a presence but the advent of CEC would, Blick said, for the first time make Cayman accessible.

Blick said he was sure the company would be a good fit within the Special Economic Zone: “We feel that CEC’s vision is very much in line with Virgin’s entrepreneurial spirit.”
CEC has plans to bring in around 40 companies, the CEO has stated, and says that half a dozen have already signed up but he has not yet revealed who these potential tenants are. He said one interested group was a company with 18,000 hi tech patents, which he believed was exciting for Cayman.

CEC wants to work with the group to bring the research and development arm of its work to Cayman Enterprise City and that once this particular client was established it would mean a “massive stimulus to the economy” with a substantial amount of job creation for local people in the form of service providers, such as lawyers and accountants, Blick said. The firm’s general counsel and management team were flying into Cayman next week for further discussions, he added.

Current legislative changes, set to take place in November, within Cayman’s immigration and companies laws would need to be in place before such companies would sign on the dotted line, Blick said. If these changes take place as planned, he anticipated having CEC’s first tenants take up residence on the 1 December.

As the actual site of the new development has yet to be officially confirmed, let alone constructed, the first tenants will be taking up residence in rented premises. Blick said that CEC is currently looking at about six different locations.

The two sites currently under consideration for the final CEC location itself are “east of George Town but not as far east as East End,” CEC’s Vice President of Marketing & Business Development Hilary McKenzie-Cahill confirmed.

Architect Cindy O’Hara of Design Cayman has already completed the master plan for the project, which would be the same whichever location CEC finally chooses, she said.
“It needs handling appropriately, which means making house to house calls,” Blick confirmed, suggesting that both sites under contemplation were near to existing built up sites.

Cayman Enterprise City will be comprised of Cayman Commodities Park, Cayman Internet Park, Cayman Biotech Park, Cayman International Academic Park, as well as Cayman Media Park. The five campuses are being developed in three phases and international businesses which establish themselves within the SEZ will benefit from 100% exemption from income, corporate and capital gains taxes, as well as no foreign ownership restrictions, reduced, flat-rate work permit fees and efficient registration and licensing, with protection of intellectual property.

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