Archive for June 5th, 2013

UK trip still in question

| 05/06/2013 | 20 Comments

david-cameron-delivers-a-speech-outside-downing-street-regarding-libya-situation-pic-getty-images-456630520 (247x300).jpg(CNS): Although the UK prime minister has written to the leaders of British overseas territories and crown dependencies, calling them to a meeting ahead of the G8 summit to discuss the issue of tax avoidance, the Cayman Islands Premier said Thursday that there may not be any need for a delegation to go to the UK after all. Alden McLaughlin said the trip, which would be around the 15 June, has not yet been fixed as the government has been in talks with UK officials and “things were changing all the time”. The recent mounting pressure from the UK and the onshore world generally is a priority for the new government, but with Cayman already committed to automatic exchange, the UK may stop short of further demands.

Speaking at Thursday’s press briefing to announce the finalisation of the new ministries, the premier stated that the trip to the UK was still not certain.

McLaughlin has also expressed a desire to meet with Mark Simmonds as soon as possible to discuss with the FCO minister the current three year budget plan and the need to negotiate some breathing room for the local economy, as Simmonds had given early indications he was willing to talk with the new premier. However, McLaughlin stated that the issues regarding the G8 situation remained “up in the air” and he hoped to have something more definitive to say about what was happening, but said it had been “a challenging past three days”.

Tax avoidance is the central theme of the UK’s chairmanship of the G8 summit, which will take place in Northern Ireland on 17 and 18 June. Prime Minister David Cameron is aware that he cannot be a credible chair if he is not seen to be addressing Britain's own house, which includes the crown dependencies and the OTs, when it comes to tax transparency.

How much more pressure will be put to bear on Cayman and other jurisdictions is not yet known. The UK has already welcomed the commitment that Cayman made to enter into a FACTA-style agreement with Britain under the previous interim administration, and the former premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly also wrote to Cameron in late April agreeing to sign up to the EU multilateral exchange pilot.

Cameron and Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, plan to host a tax and transparency conference on the weekend before the G8 summit itself and it is this meeting that Cayman’s leader and other OT heads have beencalled to if it goes ahead. According to UK sources, Cameron is looking at the possibility of the territories signing the OECD convention in the cabinet room but the plan could still collapse.

Wanting to "knock down the walls of company secrecy" to reveal who really owns and controls firms, according to the correspondence he sent to the territories, the issue remains sensitive as Cayman and other OTs see the mounting onslaught as an attack on their economic survival when they believe they already have better protections and regulations than many onshore jurisdictions.

Ironically, more regulation will increase Cayman’s costs at a time when the UK remains concerned about its contingent liabilities for this and other dependent jurisdictions and is clamping down on how much local governments spend.

Related articles:

Premier summoned to UK (CNS Business, 29 May 2013)

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Lawyer’s artwork moving to prison lawn

| 05/06/2013 | 19 Comments

Photo (2) - Copy.jpg(CNS): Local legal defence attorney Peter Polack recently exchanged his wig and gown for a beret and smock and enjoyed his first exhibition of artwork at the National Gallery, which opened last month. His series of installation art work, entitled “Confinement”, was inspired, Polack told CNS this week, not least by his experiences working with young offenders in the legal system and, rather aptly, the local prison will be displaying the full collection on the lawn of Northward Prison following the artist’s decision to donate the entire series to the prison service once the gallery exhibition is over.

Polack is also a published author and he explained that his work researching the much overlooked yet historically significant war in Angola was also an inspiration for the work, which is entirely painted red and black — the colours of the African nation’s flag.

Known as a champion of those that are marginalized in society and a fighter for justice, Polack explained that the colours also frequently appear in various forms in the legal system, which is why his was drawn to red and black.

polack (600x324).jpgThe collection is a challenging and provocative creation which has formed part of the special exhibition at the gallery “Assemblage an exhibition of contemporary art made from found objects and recycled materials”, which runs until 26 July.  Polack used re-cycled pallets to create a collection of pieces that depict confinement and challenge concepts of freedom.

“The exhibition at the National gallery was my first ever exhibition as an artist,” Polack said, as he spoke about his venture into the world of installation art.

“The interest only started recently when I experimented with methods of expression outside the written word, which can be restricted by language and a willingness to publish. It is a more personal direction as every piece, while maintaining a general symbolism, has its origins in experience and relationship,” he added.

Following the donation to the prison and the service’s decision to display the entire collection in front of the facility, Polack said it meant a lot more to him than just having his work permanently displayed.

“Whilst it is the ultimate accolade for any artist to have a permanent exhibition, I believe like everyone in society that prisons should be unnecessary. I am hopeful it will inspire even a single inmate or any young person to make a positive change in their life direction,” he said.

Having received an element of critical acclaim already for his first major piece, Polack said he is already working on his next installation, which will look at the local environment. Working with road and event barriers manufactured from recycled pallets, his next piece is entitled ‘Cayman Enviro Barriers’.

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Dance studio celebrates quarter century milestone

| 05/06/2013 | 0 Comments

du poster (217x249).jpg(CNS): Around one hundred dancers from three to sixty years old took to the stageat the Harquail Theatre last weekend in celebration of the Cayman Islands National Dance Company’s (CINDC) twenty-fifth anniversary. Dance Unlimited hosted a wine & hors d’oeuvres gala evening on Saturday, June 2nd at the Harquail Theatre, attended by loyal fans, parents, past dancers, company members, guest performers and choreographers. The anniversary celebration will continue this weekend with some 30 more pieces creating a different show each night on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Dance Unlimited began in 1988 under the careful guidance of its Artistic Director, Lorna Reid, with 11 members dancing just for the sheer joy of it using school halls as its base. Fast forward 25 years, and some hundreds of dancers later, Dance Unlimited has a home with sprung floors, mirrors a viewing gallery for parents, and a full complement of classes for developing dancers aged 3 to the young at heart.

The final performance of the celebraitons will take place on Sunday, 9 June at 5:00pm tickets are available at Funky Tangs, Audiophile, and from the dancers themselves. Email danceunlimitedcayman@yahoo.com or visit www.danceunlimitedcayman.com

du poster (500x323).jpg

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C4C warns new politicians it will be watching

| 05/06/2013 | 41 Comments

images_47.jpg(CNS): Despite having one candidate in Cabinet who is bound by that collective responsibility, James Bergstrom, the chair of the non-party advocacy group, has called on the Coalition for Cayman candidates to maintain their independence and oppose policies they don’t like, while at the same time working with government. He said the independence of its candidates could not be in doubt but the group’s leader said the coalition would be watching the new Assembly and hold the members to account. Taking credit for the voter registration drive, for campaigning against corruption in government and vote buying during the election, Bergstrom claimed, “We have built a permanent voice to keep our government honest and accountable,” about the advocacy group.

C4C now has two members in the PPM government: Tara Rivers, who is part of Cabinet, and Winston Connolly, who is on the government back-bench but has been given a supporting councillor role in Rivers’ education and employment ministry. The third candidate, however, Roy McTaggart, chose to join the opposition benches led by McKeeva Bush, sandwiched between Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller in the southeast corner.

McTaggart had publicly stated before the elections that he would not work with Alden McLaughlin as premier, and in the wake of the election result, after backroom efforts to pick off PPM members to form an independent coalition government under different leadership failed, he tried to bargain his way into a Cabinet seat on the back of the offer made to Rivers. However, McTaggart was offered the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee and, having accepted that position, in the end decided to sit on the opposition benches.

So far, the C4C executive has made no comment at all about the closed door meetings or the agreement that its candidates signed to work with the two independent members from the east to negotiate for all five of them positions in a government not led by the leader of the PPM, despite the clear mandate from the people. Instead, Bergstrom lauded what he saw as the success of C4C, which he said had focused on identifying individuals with leadership qualities and encouraging them to get involved.

“We are delighted not only with the new independent voices in the Assembly but also the new group of MLAs who are part of the new Government. We look forward with hope to this new coalition government taking the necessary steps to get Cayman back on track,” Bergstrom stated in a release from C4C.

However, the government has been described by the new premier as inclusive rather than a coalition, as he leads eight of his party colleagues plus the two independent members by invitation.

“We wish all the best for the independent candidates we endorsed, Roy McTaggart, Winston Connolly, and Tara Rivers. Their independence can no longer be in doubt and we know they will support the policies they believe in and oppose those they do not, regardless of where they sit in the LA,” Bergrstom said. “We call on the other members of the Assembly to do the same.”

Congratulating all 18 of the newly-elected members he also urged them to replace party politics with a new focus on working together for the good of Cayman.

“With your election-night victories you have earned the critical responsibility of representing the citizens of the Cayman Islands," Bergstrom said . “It’s time to put away the partisan labels, and instead roll up our sleeves and work together for the good of all of Cayman. It’s time to unite in a common quest for solutions to our Country’s greatest needs like creating policies to reduce crime, improve schools, reduce debt and create jobs. And, it’s time to give our citizens the honest, accountable, transparent government they deserve. A government founded on the principle of strong democracy, and a government that is unequivocally Country First,” Bergstrom added.

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Sidebar over-Choi’ed by semi win

| 05/06/2013 | 1 Comment

(CRFU): It was semi-final day in the KRyS Global National Mixed Touch Rugby Championships 2013 in the play-offs to determine who will go through to the Grand Final. It was time to step up to the plate, show who is boss, lay down a marker and leave it all on the pitch. Several other maxims were considered for this introduction but you can have too much of a good thing and less is definitely more. SteppingStones made their way into the final with a hard fought win over Heineken Brew Crew in a display that showed both all that is good about their team but also the dark underbelly of their collective psyche. This game also gave us arguably the best individual performance of the season but more of that later.

SteppingStones 10 Heineken Brew Crew 6

SteppingStones are the closest thing to a Terminator that Cayman touch rugby has. They are relentless in their pursuit of their prey I mean “goal” of being crowned National Touch Rugby Champions 2013. Such is their singular focus that they dominate the opposition and even when their challenger has dared to contest the game they have risen to the task to ensure victory. Of course, having the strongest squad in the League helps greatly so even when key players are absent they are replaced with players of a similar ability. In this they are like a Manchester United, a US Dream Team, or the New Zealand All Blacks of Cayman Touch Rugby.

Favourites going into the game SteppingStones got off to a good start with two quick tries from Rudolf Weder. This settled any early nerves but then they hadn’t appreciated the threat Heineken posed from one player. Biancca Johnson.

There have been some truly great individual sporting performances which have gone down in sporting history for their ability to define a player, a team, a sport. There was Jonah Lomu’s destruction of England in the 1995 rugby World Cup semi-final; Diego Maradona’s single-handed (no pun intended) destruction of England in the 1986 football World Cup ( hang on, there’s a bit of a theme developing here); Ian Poulter’s sheer tenacity in the face of defeat which inspired the Europe team to the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history; and of course, Ian “Beefy” Botham destroyed the star-laden Australians in the Ashes at Headingley 1981, each performance worthy of the term “brilliant”. 

Here in Cayman, we saw our own piece of brilliance with a performance that truly had the crowd out of their seats and applauding. Biancca Johnson of Heineken Brew Crew gave arguably the best individual performance of the season and I would happily argue with anyone who would disagree with me. True, others have scored more tries in one game (Riley Mullen of SIDEbar scored seven, Neil Montgomery and Simon Raftopolous from Genesis Trust and SteppingStones respectively have scored six). Johnson only scored five but let’s put this into perspective. Truly great performances are all about context. This was a National semi-final, the opponent the overwhelming tournament favourites and her team was shorn up some of its most dynamic runners. And yet, there she was like a terrier chewing on the leg of an errant postman refusing to allow SteppingStones the luxury of a comfortable lead.

Her tries, scored at regular intervals, meant the ‘Stones were always looking over their shoulders. What did they see? A team in green hanging onto its coat-tails with all the strength it could muster. SteppingStones would score one or two tries and then Johnson would magic up a reply. Her first two tries were right out of the top drawer – you know the one, the one where you keep all your special little nick-nacks (and I’m not talking about the little fella in the Bond classic Man With The Golden Gun either. To keep him in a drawer would just be cruel). She has the most sublime dummy pass coupled with a change of direction and pace. Not once but twice she sold the most outrageous of dummies to break the defensive line and score, playing Ray Galettly in particular like a cheap guitar.  But poor old Ray was not alone in falling for her rugby charms. She slalomed through the defense like Alberto Tomba or, more flatteringly, like Lindsey Vonn. The effect was notable – the frustration in the ‘Stones was marked. In total, three players were sin-binned from the proceedings for dissent to the referee, the dark side of the ‘Stones coming to the surface. As each try was scored the crowd became more animated willing the underdogs on.

Sadly, it was not enough. Any team filled with the likes of Morgan Shelver (3), Simon Raftopolous (3) and James “Roger” Waters (2) are going to be very hard to beat. And so it proved. SteppingStones ran out winners but all knew they had seen an individual performance of the highest quality. The Stones are in the final and their quarry is within sight. Who would bet against them to take the title? Not me.

SIDEBAR NWNT 8 Genesis Trust 5

In August 480 BC King Leonidas famously took three hundred of his finest Spartan soldiers to Thermopylae to battle the massed ranks of the Persian army led by King Xerxes. It has become the stuff of legend when so few have stood defiant against so many. Their courage, their daring, their sheer bloody-mindedness to refuse defeat was immortalised in the motion picture “300”, where Gerard Butler, resplendent in leather thong and all buff and shiny muscles, led his men ultimately to defeat in what some have called a conceptual art homoerotic movie that plays fast and loose with the facts.

Well in May 2013 AD we got our own version of the Leonidas story but hopefully I won’t play fast and loose with the facts. SIDEbar NWNT took to the field against the marauding hordes of Genesis Trust with a squad ravaged by absence and injury.  On that day, just seven brave warriors (with only six on the pitch at any one time) faced off against a mighty foe. In spite of the loss of a couple of players, Genesis have been in fine form of late and would surely have the ingenuity, know-how and numbers to break down a defence that through sheer unrelenting relentlessness(!) must buckle and breach. However, on this day a different ending began to unfold. Instead of Spartans read SIDEbar-ians. Instead, of King Leonidas read King Jyoti of Choi (but without the buff and shiny muscles, I can’t comment on the leather thong).

And there was nothing effeminate about this team. All stood firm, with muscles flexed and with breathing heavy as they gasped for air, they beat back the advancing enemy. Neil Montgomery, playing Xerxes in this little vignette, cajoled and directed his troops but could find no way through as their attacks crashed on the rocks of SIDEbar’s granite defence.

It was the brave Nic Swartz who fired the first arrow of doubt into the heart of Genesis when he ran clear to score the opening try. The crowd wondered if an upset was on the cards. Surely not. Then Adam Huckle, his big super-guns on display and glistening with sweat, added a second and the crowd began to contemplate the impossible. Genesis was stunned but Montgomery was having none of it. He launched a counter-offensive that took the first SIDEbarian casualty – a try conceded. But Leonidas, I mean Choi, can be a feisty fellow and found a deadly reposte with rapier-like thrusts through the Genesis defensive shield.

A half-time score of 4-1 to SIDEbar was an admirable performance but did anyone in the crowd truly believe they could hang on? Indeed, for that matter, did anyone in SIDEbar truly believe? I must confess I was an un-believer.

These games are forty minutes long and that is a long time to do shuttle runs up and down a rugby pitch. Fatigue must take its toll. But then, the miraculous happened. Choi scored another, then another and then another. As each one dotted over the white line you could almost physically see energy drain from Genesis, siphoned into the SIDEbar gas tank. The bodies must have been shot through but the mind stayed strong. Wave after wave of Genesis attack faltered and the game became more and more frantic as the scoreboard went away from them – it was now 7-1 to SIDEbar.

True, Genesis Trust was missing some key players but they should have been strong enough. The seconds turned into minutes and still they could not score. But then, the tipping point came. Nancy Lewis scored her first try of the season and from this unlikely source the Genesis troops gained succour and poured forward. Montgomery added two more and Roger Priaulx got one but, like Rocky Balboa against Apollo Creed and though out on their feet, SIDEbar continued to trade scores until the final victory was won 8-5. Seven warriors or rather seven SIDEbarian warriors had stood firm and defeated a worthy adversary.

It is said NO GUTS NO GLORY and SIDEbar have fine intestinal fortitude and they deserve their glory! Let the history books know the names of this Magnificent Seven for they will be remembered as the stuff of touch rugby legend. Jyoti Choi. Jo Remillard. Nic Swartz. Jo Ziegler. Adam Huckle. Chandra Friesen. Jayme Farrell. I salute you. In defeat Leonidas famously shouted “This is SPARTA!” In Victory, Choi could justifiably cry, “THIS… IS… SIDEBAR!” The final now beckons and I’m sure the Seven are hoping for reinforcements to arrive… and quickly!

And for Genesis Trust – I have eulogized about this team and they have had great moments this season. However, it is to the third place play-off they must go. Magnanimous in defeat Montgomery said, “The team showed a lot of heart but unfortunately we made too many defensive errors which were exploited by SIDEbar NWNT who delivered a clinical touch rugby performance.”

Choi added, “We had to be disciplined, maintain our composure and communicate effectively. Our set plays had to be precise against a very capable opponent… but we were absolutely sh*gged at the end!”.

STOP PRESS! MAGIC GLOVES UPDATE SHOCKER – Hold the back page. The Magic Gloves are in the bin. Jerry “What’s Glove Got To Do With It” Beck ditched the magic gloves once he realised the stitching around the fingers was loose. They were literally coming apart at the seams. This, in turn, became a metaphor for a relationship that had hit the rocks. With no repair offered they were left on the scrapheap. Indeed, Beck was seen hand-in-glove with a new pair of shiny black and white gloves during the course of this match. The Magic Gloves were unavailable for comment on this infidelity but I think we are looking at divorce rather than trial separation. Not a patch on his Magic Gloves this new pair brought no luck to Beck at all and time will only tell how long before they too are discarded like an old pair of …er… gloves.

DART 9 KPMG 2

The undercard game was a generally light-hearted affair as these two teams were playing off for the Wooden Spoon. DART, with a couple of new “short-term” signings, dominated the game both in terms of territory, possession and most importantly on the scoreboard.

Niall O’Sullivan wasthe star man for DART with a magic five try haul confirming why he has been missed so much during the course of the season. With a leg turnover rate of 86.7 cycles/minute he has quite the turn of pace for a big fella and with his trademark show-and-go dummy thrown in he went through the KPMG defence like a dose of Montezuma’s Revenge. After his fifth solo try KPMG were certainly sick of the sight of him.
Ruan Van Vuuren, whose name may look like an explosion in a Vowel Factory, blasted holes in the opposition and banged in a couple of tries of his own.  His enthusiasm and energy is to be commended and with one game left in the season DART will be looking for a strong finish.

Andrew Edwards and Ian Roberton scored for KPMG who will be all the better for the knowledge they have gained in this tough rookie season for many of their squad. So, KPMG win the Wooden Spoon as they sadly finish 7th in the league. Still, it’s always good to win something at the end of the season eh?!

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