Archive for September 14th, 2012

West Bay man denies possessing loaded gun

| 14/09/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Ray Kennedy Smith Jr denied possessing a loaded 9mm Smith & Weston handgun on Friday when he appeared in Grand Court charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm in connection with an incident which occurred last July. Smith pleaded not guilty to the offence and was bailed to return to court in two weeks to arrange a trial date. The West Bay man was arrested by police on the night of Sunday 21 July 2011 outside Club Infernoin West Bay along with two other men. At the time, police from Uniform Support Group recovered a loaded handgun, gloves and a ski mask after searching an area where the men were allegedly seen acting suspiciously.

At the time of the arrest a police spokesperson said that USG officers were on routine patrol when they saw two men acting suspiciously by the side of the nightclub building. As the officers approached, another man came from the rear of the premises. All three were detained and the area was searched. During the search a loaded handgun, gloves and a ski mask were found and a small quantity of ganja was also recovered from the men.

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Drive on to make Cayman kids healthier

| 14/09/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With around 30% of local children aged 3-6 years classified as overweight or obese and more than 34% of kids between 10-13 years suffering the same problem, officials are encouraging schools to develop health and wellness policies to address the issue before it’s too late. More than 50% of boys and more than 60% of girls in the Cayman Islands spend 3 hours or more a day in sedentary activities such as sitting around talking, watching TV or playing computer games and only 20% of boys and just over 10% of girls physically active for at least an hour per day, something government wants to change.

The Child Health Task Force (CHTF), a private-public partnership, launched an initiative on Tuesday to help schools develop policies relating to physical education, opportunities for physical activity during the school day, school meals and nutrition within the school. Although government schools have a standard School Food Policy and some private schools have implemented their own many schools do not have a broader policy which promotes holistic wellbeing. The task force is offering a financial incentive to schools that develop a written health/wellness policy by December 2012 and demonstrate its implementation by June next year.

Focusing on the threat of Chronic NCDs in children and adolescents which is a growing concern in the Cayman Islands the CHTF chair Dr. Diane Hislop said the goal was for every school to take up the challenge.

“We believe that the substantial portion of each day which children and teens spend at school make it a priority setting in which to either establish a health promotion initiative, or scale-up existing  initiatives that address common risk factors for NCDs, such as a lack of physical activity, childhood obesity and poor diets.”

The Children’s Health Task Force programme was launched in 2009 in an attempt to deal with the dramatic rise in the number of school children who are either obese, or at risk of becoming obese. It is a task force of medical professionals, educators and dieticians / nutritionists. Current membership includes Dr. Diane Hislop (Chair), Dr. Sook Yin (Co-Chair), Dr. Shirley Cridland (Medical Director), Sue Rajah (Program Coordinator), Kristen Lomas, Bethany Smith, Simone Sheehan and Cherine Usherwood (Registered Dieticians). The group works closely with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and the Public Health Department in the fight against childhood obesity.

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Clampers demise final with new traffic law

| 14/09/2012 | 44 Comments

clamp dennie.jpg(CNS): The clamping of cars will become officially illegal everywhere in the Cayman Islands next Friday, although the police will be able to tow cars away if they are illegally parked. Under the new traffic law, which comes into effect on 21 September, the dreaded wheel clamp will be outlawed but illegal parkers could still face hefty fines if their vehicles are illegally parked and removed. The fine for illegal parking is $100, and in the event the car is towed, there is a towing fee of $40 and a $10 daily pound fee for which the owner is responsible. From now on, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is the only agency that has the authority to have a vehicle towed. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

“This means that if a company wants a car towed, they will need to call the police, who will come to the complainant. The police will then assess the situation and take the appropriate action,” said Director of Driver and Vehicle Licensing David Dixon. “As long as the public has access to a parking lot, then they must follow the law, otherwise they are committing an offence and if they are parked illegally or in an unsafe manner, the police will have the authority to ticket or tow the vehicle."

Dixon added, “The police will be looking out for four things – abandoned vehicles parking in an unlawful or unsafe manner such as parking on yellow line, parking in a no parking area, or in handicapped space, or if a vehicle was involved in accident.” 

Meanwhile, school zones have also been properly gazetted under the new law, which means that motorists should comply with the 15 mph speed limit when the lights are flashing or road markings or signs are posted. Non-compliance with the signals now draws a $200 fine. 

Another change in the traffic law is that under section 117, utility workers now have some protection under the law when carrying out road works. The law states: “A person who, on approachingroad works referred to in subsection, (2), does not obey all directional signals and signs, whether verbal, manual or automated, given to him by –(a) a person authorized to man such place; or (b) equipment placed at such road works, has committed an offence.”

"The police were getting a lot of complaints that drivers were unnecessarily putting utility workers at risk by deliberately disobeying their directions. The police have the ability to prosecute the public if they endanger these workers when they are carrying out road work," Dixon added.

While lots of the law remains the same, there are significant changes to some sections, including the re-categorisation of vehicles to include electric cars and the regrouping of vehicles to distinguish between sedan, SUVs, Hummers and different trucks weights.

The law addresses two types of electric vehicles: regular – those that can exceed 30 mph –and Low Speed Electric Vehicles (LSV) or Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) whose top speed is registered at 30 mph.

NEVs are to be used only in speed zones of 30 mph or less. An “electrically powered vehicle” is capable of travelling in excess of 30 mph and is registered and licensed as an ordinary vehicle that has a combustible engine. This means that, finally, there is no differentiation between an ordinary vehicle and an electrically powered vehicle.

“Low Speed Electric Vehicles (LSV), or Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) will only be to operate in 25 mph zones throughout Little Cayman and on the Old West Bay Road, where the speed limit is expected to be reduced to 30 mph.

All vehicles fees have also been increased and some vehicles have been re-categorised and grouped to allow for a fairer fee structure based on weight. B“A bigger car with a bigger seating capacity has more impact on the roads. So we adjusted the fees accordingly,” Dixon said.  

The licensing fee for regular sedans or cars not exceeding 2,500 cc or four seats has increased from $160 to $180 for 12 months. SUVs or vehicles exceeding 2,500 cc and not exceeding eight seats excluding the driver are now $200 per annum. Hummers have been classed into two categories — there is a grouping for H1 Hummers, as distinct from all other types. H1 Hummers are $1,000 and all other types are now $500 for one year's licensing.

The other significant change in the grouping is private trucks exceeding 4,000 lbs but not exceeding 8,500 lbs gross weight.  These trucks annual licensing fee will now be $400 a year.

Group 5 was removed from the driver’s licence group relating to motor scooters, as these were best suited for the Group 1 class of driver’s license. Another significant change to the Law addresses Group 1A motor cycle licence.

“Regulation 8 of the Traffic Regulation now requires persons to produce to the examiner proof that they held a full Group 1 licence for a motor cycle of an engine capacity not exceeding 125 cc for a period not exceeding one year prior to their application. They must also successfully complete a basic rider-safety course approved by the Director. This is a change from the previous law, which required a person to have a Group 1 licence for a period of two years before qualifying to upgrade to a Group 1A,” Dixon explained.

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Cigarettes and booze go up Monday

| 14/09/2012 | 47 Comments

3355633.jpg(CNS): The government’s latest duty increases take effect on Monday 17 September when both cigarettes and alcohol will go up in price. Smokers will be paying over $2 a pack more for cigarettes, while drinkers will have to find a further 30 cents per litre on their choice of tipple. The premier’s office confirmed Friday that importers will also be paying a new CI$100 inspection fee on all cargo containers and a fee of CI$2 per 100lbs or part thereof on all loose cargo and packages. The increases are part of the new revenue measures introduced in the 2012/13 budget.

The import duty rate on cigarettes has doubled to CI$210 per thousand cigarettes from the previous rate of $105 and the rate on alcohol will increase by 30 cents per litre for all alcohol, including ale, beer, wines, champagne and spirits.
Government imposed some 24 new fees and tax increases in this fiscal year in order to raise an extra $90 million in revenue for 2012/13 compared to the previous fiscal year to cover operational expenses and produce a surplus budget.

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Teenager pleads guilty to East End burglary

| 14/09/2012 | 2 Comments

(CNS): A seventeen year old boy who cannot be named as he was just sixteen when he was arrested for the offence, admitted breaking into a house in East End in July and stealing a number of electrical items. The young offender also pleaded guilty to attempted burglar in connection with an incident in Bodden Town on the same day when he had tried to break into a home in Tennyson Street.  The court heard that the teen had taken passports,  2 i-pods, an i-phone and an i-pad, as well as jewellery and cash from a house on the Queens Highway after breaking into the property using a knife.

The judge remanded the teenager in custody until his sentencing hearing which was scheduled for 2 November in order to allow time for a social enquiry report to be produced in order to guide sentencing for the young offender.

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Play review: “Rumours”

| 14/09/2012 | 1 Comment

The Cayman Drama Society’s latest production, entitled “Rumors”, is a surefire laugh or two, ten or fifty!  I was unfamiliar with the play written by Neil Simon prior to attending so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  All I knew was the basic plot:  several affluent couples gather in celebration of their hosts’ tenth anniversary. However, they soon discover there are no servants, the hostess is missing and the host – the deputy mayor of New York – has shot himself in the … earlobe?

In classic terms, this play is considered a farce. I would call it frantic! The play opens with Ken & Chris Gorman (played brilliantly by Michael McLaughlin & Kim Plude) already in the midst of the bizarre frenzy. Through a series of manic arguments and a hilarious phone conversation with the doctor, we quickly learn what has happened but no one, not even the characters themselves, actually know how or why it happened since the host has taken valium and passed out and the hostess is missing.

As guests arrive in couples one after another, we are introduced to a cross-section of kooky and superficial elitists, but it’s the contrast between their personas and the situation going on that really is the recipe for fun in this play. 

Teri Lynne Bilewitch plays Claire Ganz with the quintessential ditzy snobbery of anNYC elite wife and I would be remiss if I did not mention her fabulous plumb gown. Her comic delivery and timing are spot on, perhaps only matched by her husband’s (played by Adam Cockerill) particularly in terms of his magnificent ability to deliver long streams of dialogue both quickly and perfectly.  The two play-off each other extremely well, particularly in their “rumors” scene, where they speculate on the status of their hosts’ relationship.  When they finally learn the truth from Ken & Chris, the four decide it’s imperative to protect their hosts’ stature from the impending arrival of more guests. 

Next to arrive are Ernie & Cookie Cusack, played by Rick Glass & Angela Harris.  Rick is a group psychologist and Cookie has a TV cooking show.  Together they are pure perfection as the slightly bewildered if not gullible “older” couple”.  When they are tricked into taking on all the food preparation for the party, they disappear into the kitchen and provide hilarious snippets of comic delight as the remaining guests fight their mini battles of speculation and cover-up. 

Last to arrive are Glen & Cassie Cooper, played by stage newcomer Christopher Sherman & veteran Abby Le Cornu.  Abby instantly commands audience attention when she enters the stage sporting a stunning red gown. However, her insecurity and aggression towards her husband quickly overshadow her beauty and we are drawn into their ongoing heated arguments.  I personally could not stop laughing when Abby pulled out her quartz crystal, which she rubs sexily on her neck for calming relief while her embarrassed husband tries to cover her up.

The ridiculous situations presented with each set of characters introduced build upon each other like your favorite Seinfeld episode.  By the time police finally enter the picture, not only do all the guests know the truth but several other mini crises of hilarity are already in full swing, like Ken losing his hearing and Cassie losing her crystal.  And I have no doubt that Cockerill’s performance as the “host” at the end will “wow” the audience every single time.

“Rumors” is good fun and a great laugh.  The director, Paul Njoka (who also plays Officer Walsh), did a fantastic job assembling the perfect cast with each actor truly embodying the nature of their kooky character.  The lines are fast, due to the frantic nature of the situation, but both projection and annunciation are woven into the dialogue so well so you won’t miss one hilarious word. 

“Rumors” runs Fridays to Sundays starting tonight at the Prospect Playhouse next to Red Bay Primary, with closing night Sunday, September 30th.  Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30pm and Sunday shows start at 5pm.  Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 for students under 17 and can be purchased in advance by calling 949-5054.

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Suspect bank robber still in Jamaican jail

| 14/09/2012 | 0 Comments

CNB robbery_0.jpg(CNS): A 36 year old Jamaican man wanted in the Cayman Islands in connection with the CNB robbery in Buckingham Square in June was remanded in custody by a Jamaican magistrate Thursday until 4 October. The RCIPS is currently seeking the extradition of Ryan Edwards from Seaforth in St Thomas after he was arrested in the neighbouring country by local police who then matched cash he had on him to notes stolen in the bank heist. Edwards is also wanted for offences in Jamaica and will next appear on 4 October but it is not clear when he will be extradited to Cayman.  According to the Jamaica Observer the Director of Public Prosecution there is still awaiting the formal extradition request from Cayman.

When Edwards was arrested last month some US$5000 and CI$35,000 was allegedly found in the car he was driving which the investigating officers connected to the daylight bank robbery. Edwards is believed to have fled to Jamaica after the heist in which the robbers stole around $500,000, by boat.

Shortly after the hold up, one man from West Bay who has now pleaded guilty to his involvement in the heist was arrested and as a result police arrested further suspects who are due to stand trial next April.

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Regional body focuses on fight against corruption

| 14/09/2012 | 6 Comments

oas.jpg(CNS): The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said he was gratified by the growing interest of countries in the region in the fight against corruption. Opening a regional conference in Washington, he listed a number of achievements made in the Americas in the goal to tackle corruption. At the conference participating countries discussed mutual cooperation to encourage concrete commitments from governments to improve transparency and access to information.

Speaking at the opening of the 20th Meeting of Experts of the Mechanism for Follow-Up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) at OAS headquarters, Insulza stated, "It is gratifying that this is the twentieth time that this Committee has met and it confirms that our countries have a growing interest inparticipating.”

The Secretary General of the OAS said that, through MESICIC, the organization continues to help countries strengthen their legal and institutional frameworks to address corruption, to make concrete recommendations so that they can benefit from the provisions of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, and “to prevent, detect, punish and eradicate this scourge, through its proper implementation."

Among the achievements reached by MESICIC during the past Third Round of Committee of Experts, Insulza listed the detection of bribes disguised as legitimate expenses intended to be used to obtain tax benefits, criminal liability for companies that pay bribes, both in the case of domestic and foreign officials, the establishment of accounting requirements that prevent the formation of "front companies" whose purpose is to commit acts of corruption, and avoiding that the defense of "professional secrets" serves as an obstacle to denouncing corruption.

Insulza said the General Secretariat had supported states by providing tools to facilitate the implementation of national action plans, a project which 17 States have already taken on and promoted exchange between countries of knowledge and experience in fighting corruption. He added that the OAS continued to make available more and better tools to help them in the fight.

The Twentieth Meeting of the Committee of Experts of MESICIC took place between Monday 10 September and Friday 14 September.

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Government designs new national posters

| 14/09/2012 | 0 Comments

National Symbols Poster (215x300).jpg(CNS): The deputy governor’s officehas commissioned a new national poster depicting the country’s flag, the national song – Beloved Isle Cayman – and the coat of arms along with information on the three different national symbols. The first of these new posters were presented to kids at George Town Primary School, and the principal Marie Martin but 5,000 have copies have been printed for all local schools, libraries and government offices. A limited number of free posters are also available to the public from the security section in the Government Administration Building. “It is imperative that we continue to inculcate a love-of-country amongst our own citizens as well as those who decide to make these Islands their home,” said Franz Manderson, the deputy Governor.

Knowledge and appreciation of ‘Things Cayman’ is especially important to officials in the Deputy Governor’s Office — which administers the conferral of citizenship. “With a diverse range of nationals who live and work here, they, as well as visitors and citizens, should enjoy this view into our colourful culture and heritage,” said the corporate manager in the deputy governor’s office, Christine Wright.

Officials said that there are plans to produce a follow-up poster highlighting the other local symbols, including the National Bird – the Parrot – which experts recently warned was on the brink of extinction, and the National Tree the Silver Thatch Palm as well as the National Flower – the Wild Banana Orchid neither of which are protected in law.

The next poster will also highlight Cayman’s eight National Heroes James (Jim) Manoah Bodden; Sybil Ione McLaughlin, Sybil Joyce Hylton, Mary Evelyn Wood, Ormond L. Panton, Thomas William Farrington, Desmond Vere Watler, and William Warren Conolly.

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