Archive for September 12th, 2013

Cops round up two more gun suspects in WB

| 12/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Two West Bay men have been arrested and an unlicensed firearm recovered following a police operation in in the district late last night. An RCIPS spokesperson said Thursday that the two men, aged 26 and 28 years, were arrested in Birch Tree Hill Road on suspicion of possession of an unlicensed firearm on Wednesday 11 September and a handgun was also recovered during the police operation. The men are currently in police custody as enquires in the case continue. The arrest follows that of a 20-year-old man yesterday in connection with a shooting which occurred last month in Powell Smith Drive off Town Hall Road.

Although police had recently presided over a fall in gun related crime, the shooting on 24 August is one of several other reported crimes recently involving guns, including a number of ‘doorstep’ robberies and home invasions. A victim was shot in the arm by would- be robbers in the early hours of this past Saturday morning on Perditha Lane off Frank Sound Road as he returned home from his business. Some ten people were robbed at gunpoint in Savannah recently when masked gun men struck at a home as a group of guests were about to leave a social gathering.

The RCIPS is appealing to anyone who may have information on these or any other crime to report to call 800-TIPS (8477) or the police crime line 949-7777.

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Arrest made for WB shooting

| 12/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 20-year-old man was arrested yesterday in connection with a shooting that occurred in West Bay on 24 August. The incident took place on Powell Smith Drive off Town Hall Road at around 9:30pm. The 22-year-old victim was hit more than once when a gunman opened fire on him when he answered his door. The victim, who was conscious when paramedics arrived, was treated for injuries to his face, back and leg at the hospital in George Town. The suspect was arrested in the West Bay area on Wednesday, 11 September, on suspicion of attempted murder and remains in police custody at this time.

A 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder in connection with this incident on Tuesday 27 August but was later released by the RCIPS.

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Gender discrimination

| 12/09/2013 | 29 Comments

The most galling part of Minister Tara Rivers’ defence of her trip to South Africa and criticism of the media coverage surrounding it was the claim that the negative press was because she is a woman. As the minister responsible for gender affairs, she should be ashamed of herself. CNS, she should note, is run by women, and while we are are thrilled to see a woman in Cabinet, Rivers must understand that she is not an affirmative action minister.

Rivers is right that globally the media, like many other institutions, does discriminate against women, especially ones in leadership positions. It is not uncommon in the mainstream European and American media for stories about powerful women to be described in very different terms to men. News report about a man will not generally refer to his Gucci snakeskin loafers or make comments about how he wore his hair for a photo call, but where women are involved, appearance often becomes the focus of the story rather than any pressing political or socio-economic issue.

Family ties and children, sex lives and emotions are much more often the subject of news stories regarding female leaders than their male counterparts, and women everywhere have a much tougher time reaching their career goals than men because along the way they will almost certianly have to deal with both active and passive sexism. However, in order to challenge real chauvinism, we, as women, must be wary of those crying wolf.

In Rivers’ case, there was nothing in any of the reports in any media that singled her out because she was a woman; there were no references to her outfits or to her personal life. The reports had nothing to do with her gender and everything to do with her decision as a politician.

Shortly after taking up her cabinet position, Rivers was at the centre of a major courtroom drama that distracted her from her ministerial duties for several weeks. Almost as soon as that was behind her, she unwisely made a decision to go to a conference halfway around the world. At a time of growing unemployment and hardship for local workers and, even more importantly, at the start of the school year, Rivers, as minister responsible for these two huge areas, had work to do at home.

There is no doubt that the conference in South Africa offered her the opportunity for development, learning, comparing notes and discussing important common issues with her counterparts in other countries, as many conferences, workshops and seminars do. But before the minister looks at other jurisdictions for inspiration, she must begin the process of understanding her own.

The minister has not yet had enough the time to talk in depth to her staff in all the various departments she is now responsible for. She has not had the time to discuss the issues within Cayman’s schools with parents, teachers, principals, specialist teachers and education experts within her own staff. She cannot yet have a full understanding of the gulf between the unemployed and the employers, or had time to discuss initiatives with policy advisers, administrative staff and management at each level so she has a full understanding of what works and what doesn’t, what has been tried and what hasn’t (and why), which of the wonderful new ideas she discovers in other jurisdictions are, in fact, already happening.

Learning about civics lessons taught elsewhere is less important than making sure all Year 5 students in the Cayman Islands have a teacher. And if they don’t, it is her ultimate responsibility to find out why.

The cost of the trip, which we are still waiting to see, may not be terribly significant but when the jobless and the low paid are hurting, when business owners are struggling to pay their inflated fees and all of us pay through the nose for basic groceries, it is infuriating to see ministers fly round the world for what look like jollies, whatever the subject matter.

Regardless of whether Rivers should have gone or not, the public relations surrounding this trip was shambolic. There was no mention of it in any official statement, despite numerous opportunities for her to inform the public via official channels, and press releases about her whereabouts appeared to be untruthful — something that is bound to be picked up by the media. The excuse that it was on her Facebook page is absurd. Social media is one way to disseminate information, and journalists do use it as one source of gathering news, but it’s not enough to post information that should be disseminated to the wider public on Facebook and hope the media finds it.

If Rivers had been paying attention over the last four years, she would have known that when politicians go on expensive trips, the media and the public will want to know why and how much it costs. And if she thinks that male politicians do not receive such scrutiny, she should have a little sit down with UDP Leader McKeeva Bush. Her new boss, Alden McLaughlin, the country’s third premier, was fully cognizant of public skepticism about ministers' overseas trips, so much so that one of his first actions in office was to implement a travel policy to control spending and curb unnecessary travel.

The public has every right to question where their tax dollars go and CNS will continue to provide a platform for the people of the Cayman Islands to do so, regardless of the sex, creed, colour and political or religious persuasion of the public servant in question.

Rivers' actions and decisions (and expensive official trips) will be scrutinized in exactly the same way as those of her male colleagues. To do otherwise would be actual discrimination.

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Governor backs environment

| 12/09/2013 | 56 Comments

(CNS): After more than a decade of waiting, 2013 could be the year that Cayman’s natural land environment finally receives lawful protection. Minister Wayne Panton, who has responsibility for the environment, has already made a commitment to steer the National Conservation Law through before the year is out. Now the new governor has added her voice to calls for responsible management of the local environment. During her acceptance speech in the Legislative Assembly last Friday, the natural world was one of the issues singled out by Helen Kilpatrick. Although it is not part of her office’s direct responsibility, the UK’s latest representative said she was committed to the management of the islands’ natural resources.

Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie and her team have lived in hope that the National Conservation Law (NCL) will make it onto the statute books before it is too late, and they have persistently warned that the ecological clock has been ticking down for many of the islands' unique species, which are in serious danger of disappearing without proper protection.

Ebanks-Petrie has also warned that Cayman cannot continue to develop without giving the same consideration to environmental issues as it does socio and economic ones, and argued against continuing to allow major projects to begin without carrying out environmental impact assessments.

Although the department offers its opinion to the Central Planning Authority on all major developments, the recommendations and advice is almost always ignored.

In her speech following her swearing into office, Kilpatrick said that on her short visit to the Cayman Islands in July she had found the natural beauty of the islands truly captivating.

“The beauty of the islands was eclipsed only by the warmth of the welcome I receivedfrom those Caymanians and others I had the pleasure to meet,” she said, before making it clear she would be championing the cause, even though it is outside her direct remit.

“Whilst the elected government is responsible for the protection and conservation of the islands’ natural assets, I am committed to working with the government and civil society to ensure that these assets are managed and protected in a manner that benefits their incredible value,” she added.

In addition to the passage of the NCL, the DoE has also completed its consultation on the enhancement of the marine parks legislation. The need to improve those laws has been demonstrated by the success of 25 years of protection and the need to maintain and increase that protection in the face of ever growing threats to the local marine environment.

With costal development still forging ahead, threats to mangroves and fish stocks, and the increasing pressure on marine habitats from climate change and bleaching, the battle to preserve the precious coral reefs, which is the primary draw for the overnight tourism market, remains as pressing as ever.

With an environment minister with a genuine interest in conservation, having been a leading member of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands for many years, and the new governor offering her commitment,  local environmental and conservation groups have their fingers crossed that this could be the year that government finally places real value on its natural assets.

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E-Government coming soon to Cayman, says Suckoo

| 12/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The very survival of the Cayman Islands’ financial services industry depends on the development of e-government, according the man now heading this branch of government. Working towards the day when individuals and businesses can do all their government business online, including work permit and trade and business applications, Alva Suckoo said the vision for the future – and coming soon – is to make standing in line or having to physically go to a government department a rarity. With Cayman lagging behind competing jurisdictions in moving government interaction with the public online, Suckoo, a first term Bodden Town MLA with a wealth of private sector experience in the field, has been appointed as councellor in the Home Affairs Ministry to coordinate and advise on this initiative. Read more on CNS Business

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