Archive for October 4th, 2013

Cayman to host inaugural kite-boarding contest

Cayman to host inaugural kite-boarding contest

| 04/10/2013 | 0 Comments

CNS): The goal of advancing sports tourism in the Cayman Islands will be assisted early next year with an inaugural kite-boarding event. Organizers of the competition said the biggest names in kite-boarding, the fastest growing extreme sport in the world, will be coming to the islands for The Rock International Open (TRIO) which is set to take place between 12-16 Feb. The five days of competition will include flat water freestyle, racing and big air plus contest and likely to cement Cayman as one of the world’s best kite-boarding destinations. The sports minister Osbourne Bodden said he was looking forward to welcoming the exciting sport’s finest athletes to Grand Cayman.

“TRIO will include spectator competitions, demonstrations and clinics spanning almost two weeks at locations across Grand Cayman. The idyllic beaches and flat Caribbean waters provide the perfect conditions for kite-boarding and this is the perfect opportunity to showcase our island’s riches to a new audience,” he said.

TRIO is also partnering with local charity Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Department of Environment in their turtle conservation programme.

“Kitesurfing and watersports are exploding all-around the Caribbean and it’s very important for us to engage with these beach users to help protect our environment,” said Tim Austin, Deputy Director at the Department of Environment. “We’re excited to be involved with TRIO from the outset and delighted about the increased awareness of our programs this will provide. With the money raised we’re hoping to invest in more turtle friendly lighting at beach front properties.”

Prospective competitors can find out more and register online at the official TRIO website:  Participation fees include accommodation, lunch, dinners, parties and a swag bag.

The Rock International Open (TRIO) was formed to provide a platform to showcase the skills and talents of kiteboarders throughout the Caribbean and the rest of the world, in an unrivalled setting, and to bring a professions level of competition and training to a region where the sport is exploding in popularity. TRIO is open to everyone from anywhere, amateur and pro rider alike. It is the only Caribbean competition officially sanctioned by the International Kite-boarding Association (IKA) the kite-surfing World Governing body, which in turn is the class representative to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) sanctioning international sailing competitions from world championship to Olympic levels.

TRIO said its philosophy is to grow young, local talent and interest in water sports such as kite-boarding as well as increase tourist interest in the Cayman Islands and raise awareness about protecting the marine environment. TRIO is focused on giving home-grown kite-boarders the opportunity to experience the excitement and exposure of being part of an international competition. TRIO hopes to provide a stepping-stone for those riders to compete on the World Tour by giving them a taste of high level competition against visiting elite athletes.

Many big names in the industry have already confirmed their attendance

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Tibbetts excited to back at helm of agriculture

Tibbetts excited to back at helm of agriculture

| 04/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The former leader of government business and the now minister of planning and agriculture has said the he was excited to be working on agriculture again as he said when he left officer as the minister responsible for the area at the end of 2009 there were still things he had wanted to do. “Some things were still undone when I left last, and I hope to accomplish as much as possible, within budgetary constraints,” he said recently, when Tibbetts who is also a keen grower himself met with staff in the department of agriculture recently. “I will endeavour to do the best I can, to see how far we can go with agriculture. Sometimes you may be called upon to do more with less, but it will get better… I know that you are up to the task,” he told his department staff.

He also encouraged them to keep up their good work on the annual Agriculture Show which, he said, “improves with each event”.

Speaking of plans to further develop the sector, Tibbetts also told staff that, as a priority, he will be finalizing arrangements for Cayman Islands’ membership in the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) – an initiative he launched during his previous term. 

With a lot going on in the department, Tibbetts also visit the department’s lab where he heard that the Cayman Islands is one of the countriesin the region which comprise the Caribbean Pest Diagnostic Network. 

“This is significant as it allow us direct access to experts in the United States and worldwide – especially for the rapid identification of pests,” said Director of Agriculture Adrian Estwick. 

Specialized equipment is used to capture microscopic digital images of pests and transmit these to a network of experts — thereby eliminating the need to send physical specimens, while significantly reducing identification time.

“This is essential for effective control and management,” said Scientific Assistant Shariffa Chantilope-Zelaya, who is currently training on the system. “It’s important to regional trade in produce and products, and also serves to protect Cayman’s delicate environment and agriculture from destructive pests.”

Meanwhile officials said that the Plant Protection and Agricultural Health Inspection Services has recently been recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with the award of the ‘Greater Caribbean Safeguarding Initiative, Regional Plant Health Safeguarding Award’ for consistent leadership in the region.

“This is a significant milestone, for ours is the first regional department to receive this prestigious award,” added Estwick.

The department’s canine detector dog, Myah, has also contributed much to the prevention of pests. Myah and her handler Sharon Davis manage a rigorous schedule of inspecting luggage and imported goods at ports of entry.

The dog’s natural abilities have been honed by focused training, to the extent that she can detect a broad range of agricultural and food products. With a 95-percent success rate in detecting imported produce at the airport, she can sniff-out these scents — even in sealed containers.

On the livestock side, the department continues to collaborate with the faculty and students of St Matthew’s University School of Veterinary Medicine. Especially beneficial are the specialist lecturers who assist the department’s vets when needed. These visitors also allow departmental staff to engage in continuing education, thereby staying current. Another important function is stray-animal control. Pet overpopulation and unwanted, roaming and nuisance cats and dogs continue to be a serious concern.

When animals are picked-up, owners who can be identified are contacted. They must pay a minimum fee to reclaim their animals. Unclaimed animals are kept for about a week before they are euthanized. Around 55 animals each month are killed because owners do not reclaim their animals either because they do not know they have been taken or because they animals have been abandoned. Residents are encouraged to help to control this problem by having their pets spayed and neutered, and to have them micro chipped, wear collars, and control their movements.

In the area of local fruit and vegetable production, the department’s fields continuously grow a range of crops. These are propagated experimentally to determine which plants and techniques work best, and to provide planting material to farmers, and the public.
These crops include sweet potatoes, bananas, coconut, mango and a variety of other fruit trees that are used to provide grafts.

“These established plantings are ‘germplasam’ banks”, said Estwick. “New international varieties are tested in the local environment, and the best ones are propagated and distributed for planting.”

The officers reported that, while interest in local agriculture was once limited, many people are now getting into production, and the market for local produce and meats is also expanding.

Interest in animal-rearing has also ballooned in recent years, and Estwick boasted of the “good genetics” now in place Cayman, especially for goats and cattle.

The demand for local beef also continues to increase. With these positive developments comes the need to grow more local forage. These grasses help maintain and improve the nutritional health of animals, and reduce the dependence on expensive imported feeds. 

As part of its outreach efforts, the department has begun quarterly meetings with representatives of the various sub-sectors, including crop farmers and those raising goats, poultry, pigs and cattle. This allows everyone to explore opportunities, and to find or share solutions to common challenges.

Responding to the growing interest in poultry production that has “mushroomed” in the last few years, the department recently held a poultry-production seminar for the benefit of new and existing farmers. 

At the adjacent abattoir the visitors heard confirmation that the once-debated service has been well-received by local farmers, with some 2,500 pounds of meat being processed each week. However, after six years in operation the abattoir requires upgrades, and some components must be replaced. 

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Investment & infrastructure fund

Investment & infrastructure fund

| 04/10/2013 | 45 Comments

Cayman’s economic survival is on the line and in order for us to provide any opportunities for the next generation a new economic model must be crafted now. For the past 40+ years Cayman has been providing a variety of Investment vehicles to enhance the business and create wealth for the offshore clients. These vehicles have taken many formats, from exempt companies, trusts, re-insurance, to the latest hedge fund craze.

There is no question that these services have brought a significant improvement in the standard of living of all who live here. It has provided hundreds of millions of dollars into the government treasury over the years and it has made millionaires of many of theprofessionals who operate the financial services firms. But despite these successes, this industry has operated as an invisible hand in the lives of many of our people. And there has been no attempt to bring these tools from the boardrooms to the living rooms to help enrich individuals who may not be direct participants in the financial services industry.

We brag to the world about our rankings in the funds business and we have some of the best expertise; so my question is why this is so difficult for us to do for ourselves some of the things we have been doing for others for years?

Until I am proven wrong, I am convinced that the economic model that brought us the 40 year miracle, of which I was fortunate to be a part of, has expired and must be retired. The actions and results of the previous administration’s tenure clearly demonstrate this; they wasted 4 years of time and millions of dollars trying to resuscitate this dead model with zero results and the FFR.

In our mental conditioning over this 40 year period, we have been led to believe that all investors must come from outside and the Caymanian people must simply be the workers. This was the old economic model and it worked for a time, but as we all can see even this option is being denied many of our people. This trend is not good and will lead to more serious issues down the road.

When we consider the global economic changes since the 2008 crash, as well as some major developments in the local commerce, whereby small and medium businesses are closing their doors, assets are being foreclosed, etc, and there are few, if any, areas of new commerce, we face a startling dilemma. To keep hoping and praying that the same actions which got us into this mess will take us out is only comfort to a fool. Therefore, the only logical conclusion one can makeat this time is the upgrades and installation of the infrastructure needs we should have implemented when we were rolling in the dollars but failed to do.

The rate of development over the past forty years far outpaced the investment in the infrastructure necessary to support it. To compound the issue the impact fees from development were not sufficient nor were they used sensibly.

Our economy is now at a crawl’s pace, thus allowing us time to catch up and remedy the situation. However, due to a lack of prudent management government has no funds and no options to borrow. The reality is that government agencies are so constrained they can’t meet their responsibilities to operate and maintain existing, much less build new-public infrastructures.

Investment in infrastructure now is critical to support existing and future development, to put our people back to work and to protect our fragile environment. This presents not just a challenge but an opportunity for us to look to ourselves first to invest in our country, our people and our future. This is the goal of the Cayman Islands Investment & Infrastructure Fund, which I proposed during the recent election campaign.

Infrastructure funds are being established in many countries faced with similar challenges and is commonly referred to as PPPs (public, private partnerships). I suggest our model should add an additional “P”, representing our “People”.

At an Infrastructure conference held in Nassau Bahamas in June of this year, courtesy of CIBC/FCIB, it was very clear that other Caribbean countries are adopting this model for solving their infrastructure needs and the Bank is very keen to support these initiatives. In the major developed countries of the world PPP’s have been in operation in many formats covering various types of projects for years. However, what we are proposing is a slight expansion of this model to include our people as investors/owners.

The status quo:-

  • Cayman’s Infrastructure: wastewater, landfill, airport, seaport and roads have not kept up with the Country’s growth.
  • Waste management in particular: both garbage and wastewater have been long neglected to the detriment of our environment which impacts our tourism product, our health and quality of life.
  • There has never been a clear consistent mechanism of funding for the provision, expansion or upkeep of Cayman’s infrastructure needs.
  • Development and infrastructure while they should have worked hand in hand somehow got divorced.
  • Government has no money and cannot borrow any; thus the FFR.
  • Our government owns and operates some 26 companies and authorities, the great majority of which are losing money (note recent auditor general’s reports), this is a far bigger share of the economy than is necessary, particularly when the private sector is gasping for economic air.

Public-private partnerships (PPPP) are the ideal solution for the fiscal problems plaguing this country. In this situation private sector brings the capital, expertise, efficiencies of business and takes the risk while government grants licenses and concessions for operations and perform the regulatory functions.

So why then has it taken us so long to seriously consider this option? We are a reactionary society — only acting when forced to and no government in recent memory has displayed the vision or the creative thinking to act outside the box. When you combine this with the knee-jerk aversion to allowing private enterprise to manage traditional public works, political grudges and fear mongering by those who are more interested in protecting their fiefdoms than protecting the public, your get the answer.

But there is one big elephant in the room: government is broke and cannot borrow. Thus change must come and we the people must drive and own that change. We cannot afford to give these infrastructure projects away as these are all we have left and we should not expect others to take a chance on us when we fail to take a chance on ourselves. The Caymanian people will be the payers of these services, e.g. sewage collection and treatment and garbage collection, etc. So why shouldn’t the people own these entities (this can include the government) and reap the financial rewards when they are profitable? This formula will not only create jobs it will create wealth as every person on this island will be given the opportunity to invest directly via cash or by sweat equity.

Ownership should be the overriding goal, a sense of belonging will result and a psychological change in attitudes will transform this country and create an economic bonanza, at the end of which our people can have an investment in the form of shares in the fund. It is time we believed in ourselves and not just sit around waiting on the foreign investor, many of whom we subsidize while they reap the rewards.

These entities will never be financially viable and efficient while under direct government control and operations, so I trust no policy maker will use this excuse not to support necessary change.

Funding is available from several sources:-

  • Individual investors
  • Allocating a portion of our $1 billion pension fund ( say 10-20%) for local investments
  • Bridging financing from local banks
  • Attracting a portion of the $10 billion dollars sitting in Cayman’s banks, much of which is earning little or no return at present
  • Institutional and other funding options exist.

Benefits of the Fund:-

  • It will create hundreds of new jobs
  • It will create ownership by our people
  • It will put in place the necessary infrastructure to support future development
  • It will protect our fragile environment and bring Cayman up to the highest international standards to truly boast that we are “green”
  • It will empower our people giving them ownership and commitment to the long term sustainability of their country
  • It will free the government from having to borrow and they can concentrate on core government services, thus reducing operational costs and hopefully the cost of living which is killing all of us.
  • It will provide a local economic block which can be the foundation for other business opportunities in the medium to long term.

By pooling our resources-vision, capital, talent and management we will all have skin in the game and there is no better way to unite people. Cayman should be the shining example of environmental protection and efficiencies; instead we are still arguing over where to put a 50 year old pile of garbage.

It is said that opportunity only knocks once. This is a golden opportunity to fix some things and do them correctly; we may not get another chance as other events like crime and hopelessness could overtake and control the agenda. Economist John Maynard Keynes said, “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from the old.” It is time to escape from the old Cayman or we are heading for national bankruptcy and our own government shutdown. The financial trajectory of this country is simply not sustainable.

I am part of a local group that is structuring the CIIF. Anyone who has interest please contact your MLA to lobby their support. We can be contacted at: ciifund

We can do this Cayman. Let’s all work together.

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Two arrested  for fraud & $200k of property seized

Two arrested for fraud & $200k of property seized

| 04/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Detectives of the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit have arrested two Malaysian nationals for fraud related offences committed at retail premises in the George Town area but the cash cops are keeping tight lipped on the details of their alleged crime as they say enquiries are continuing. In a short release, the RCIPS said property to the value of around US$200,000 had been recovered together with various items that the two suspects were using to commit the offence. However, they gave no indication what it was or exactly what the accused fraudsters were believed to be doing or what their status was in Cayman. Police said the investigation is in its early stages and a further statement will be released pending further enquiries.

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Public asked for thoughts on booze law

Public asked for thoughts on booze law

| 04/10/2013 | 39 Comments

(CNS): The public is being asked to make a contribution to the government’s review of the liquor licensing laws and policies currently being undertaken by the Department of Commerce and Investment (DCI). Residents are being given two weeks to submit their thoughts and constructive feedback on issues, such as the moratorium on new licences, operating hours, proximity of new establishments to schools and churches, mobile bar licenses and the current pricing structure, or any other matter surrounding how government manages the sale of alcohol. Officials said the responses would be used to make informed decisions regarding improvements to the Liquor Licensing Law (2000), which will include structural changes to policies and correct operational challenges.

The DCI recently announced that it has already has begun to examine the liquor licensing functions, increase its enforcement and compliance efforts, and review the legal and operational structure of the Liquor Licensing Board – the latter being spearheaded by a joint public-private sector review committee.

Theannouncement that the booze laws and processes were under review came in the wake of a chaotic annual meeting in August, when the conflicts of interest, real and perceived, caused the chair of the board and two other members to recuse themselves, leaving the board without a quorum and unable to function.

Licence holders also expressed significant concerns that there was inequity in the process and that board members were conflicted in a number of areas, with the chair and one member being related to at least two liquor license holders and a third board member being a direct holder of a retail liquor license.

Anyone who wants to submit a comment regarding the future of liquor licensing must email their thoughts to on or before 18 October. In order to facilitate a timely review of submissions, people are being asked to keep their responses brief, and submit them in bullet point format.

Contact details also must be submitted in the event that the review committee needs clarification on anything.

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Schools offer free HPV vaccine for pre-teen girls

Schools offer free HPV vaccine for pre-teen girls

| 04/10/2013 | 16 Comments

(CNS): Half of all Year 8 girls in government schools took up the opportunity to protect themselves against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) with a free vaccine last year, and the Ministry of Health in partnership with the Public Health Department and the Cancer Society is offering the vaccine to girls aged 11-12 at both the John Gray and Clifton Hunter High Schools this month. This vaccination involves three injections given by school nurses over six months — at the time of the appointment, two months after the first dose, and six months after the first dose.

While the HPV vaccine is not mandatory, School Health Coordinator, Nurse Joanna Rose- Wright, urged parents and guardians to have their young girls take advantage of this cervical cancer prevention vaccination.

Letters were sent home to all parents advising of the process and requesting confirmation of consent for the child to be given the vaccination. The letters are to be returned to the child’s school teacher or the school nurse on the date indicated in the correspondence.

“No child will be vaccinated without parental consent, and parents will have the opportunity to be present at the time of vaccination if they choose,”  Nurse Rose-Wright added.

While the vaccine is being offered to girls in the government high schools, other girls between the ages of 11 and 17 from both government and private schools, accompanied by their parents, can also get the  HPV vaccination at the following Health Services Authority (HSA) facilities: the Public Health Clinic at the Cayman Islands Hospital, West Bay and Bodden Town Health Centres, and Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac. Appointments can be made by contacting the Health Centres.

For further information, contact the Public Health Clinic on 244-2648; West Bay Health Centre on 949-3439; Bodden Town Health Centre on 947-2299; Faith Hospital on 948-2243 and Little Cayman Clinic on 948-0072.

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Cabinet approves voluntary redundancy policy

Cabinet approves voluntary redundancy policy

| 04/10/2013 | 19 Comments

(CNS): Civil Servants with open ended employment agreements who want to leave their public sector job will be given a financial pay-off based on their length of service if they are successful in their application for redundancy. The Voluntary Separation Policy (VSP) developed by the deputy governor and his chief officers has now received Cabinet approval. Core government employees and their bosses will, however  have to make a business case for the exit of any civil servant to make sure the loss of the post is sustainable and that the department or service won’t be undermined. With the sustainability of further job cuts in the CS in question, management will need to justify the loss of any public authority worker.

A business case by the relevant chief officer that shows how an organization expects to achieve improved efficiency through the separation must accompany the applications, Deputy Governor  Franz Manderson explained. 

“To successfully reduce the size of the civil service in a manner that avoids negative impacts for the public, we feel it is very important to plan this process,” he said in a release Thursday evening. “The approach of doing more with less is not something we can sustain without impacting the quality of service we provide.”

Civil servants have until the end of this month, 31 October, to review the policy, which the Portfolio of the Civil Service published internally today (3 October), although it has not yet been made public. If they are interested in the scheme, they should make an application or ask questions before the deadline. Separation from the service is expected to begin as early as January 2014.

Eligibility is limited to core civil service workers who have open-ended employment agreements with the Cayman Islands Government but not those on contract.

Anyone considering the proposal will have access to advice from the Public Service Pension Board as well as Lewis Consulting Services. A voluntary separation committee, made up of the deputy governor, the financial secretary and the chief officer of PoCS, will assess the impact of the proposed scheme on individuals and their organisations.

Compensation for successful applicants will be based on continuous service. They will also have access to limited CINICO coverage ranging from three to six months.

See policy below

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Woman mugged on West Bay Road

Woman mugged on West Bay Road

| 04/10/2013 | 10 Comments

(CNS): The police are on the lookout for a bag snatcher following the report of a street mugging along the West Bay Road at 11:16 Thursday night, 3 October. The mugger reportedly grabbed a woman’s purse as she walked along the Road in the vicinity of GeckoLink and in the heart of Grand Cayman’s tourist district. After grabbing the bag, the suspect was said to have left the scene in a dark coloured SUV headed towards George Town. There were no injuries or weapons reported and police from GT police station are asking anyone with information about this or any other matter to call 949 7777 or 800 TIPS to remain anonymous.

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Overseas territories used as pawns, says Bush

Overseas territories used as pawns, says Bush

| 04/10/2013 | 31 Comments

(CNS): The opposition leader and former Cayman Islands premier has accused the British of using its overseas territories as pawns and pointed to the need for the UK to begin debating the issue of self-determination and independence. Speaking at the 59th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, last month from what he said were his own experiences, McKeeva Bush pointed out that while the UK talks about territories being allowed to determine their own future, the reality is very different. He said the constitutions agreed between Britain and its territories undermine self-determination efforts because they block any effort of the OT governments to be self-sufficient.

“The Cayman Islands have no mandate for independence nor has the question arisen publicly. Although the older I get, the more I realize that it ought to be debated,” he told the delegates in South Africa. While the UN points to the rights of self-determination, when the matter arises with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, he said, OT governments get a “mixed bag of answers”.

“We do get a constitution of sorts from the FCO but it always contains wording that gives the governor much leeway, to say the least, that can stop self-determination efforts and can kill self-sufficiency efforts. Self-sufficiency is, as far as I am concerned, the main ingredient to make it possible to be self-governed.”

The opposition and UDP leader said when efforts are made towards self-sufficiency, such as attracting inward investment, the UK forces territories to follow their way, under the guise of international norms, as he implied that between the UK and Cayman it was the competition that made the administering power impose its will. “None of their actions assist us on the way for self-determination, nor help us to be self-sufficient, and certainly do not lend itself to self-governance,” he said.

Bush had gone head to head with the FCO during his time in office over the process by which he had attempted to kick-start major capital projects. The biggest clash was over his plans to enter into a deal with the Beijing based firm, China Harbour Engineering Company, limited to build the cruise berthing facilities in George Town without following the process for such projects set out in Cayman’s own public finance laws. Despites warnings from the FCO that Bush, who was also tourism minister at the time, should put the port plans back in line with international best procurement practice, he ignored them until Mark Simmonds, the OT minister, issued an order to Bush not to sign a deal with CHEC.

Speaking in South Africa, and clearly reflecting on that incident, Bush said that in his experience in government, more and more pressure was put on the territories to “kow-tow to the views and standards of those with whom we would be negotiating our self-determination,” he said. “What kind of fairness and equality could we expect, where we compete for the same business? How would we be self-sufficient?"

Pointing to a need for wider education on the whole subject of independence, Bush warned that territories are often manipulated.

“At one time or another, all colonial territories are used as pawns,” he added.

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Murder in Marina Drive

Murder in Marina Drive

| 04/10/2013 | 164 Comments

(CNS) Latest Update 12:15pm Friday: The 22-year-oldman who was shot at his home in Marina Drive, Prospect, on Thursday night has been pronounced dead and police have launched their second murder investigation of the year. The victim was shot multiple times when, it is understood, he opened the door of his home to the gunmen. Police said they are no longer looking for a white car but a a dark brown motor car, believed to be a Honda Torneo. The police have also confirmed that at least two men were involved in the shooting but so far they have no descriptions.The young man, who has now been formally named by the police as Earl Hart, was pronounced dead at around 1:15 Friday morning at the George Town hospital.

It is also understood that although the victim's 2-year-old daughter and his pregnant girlfriend were also in the house when the gunmen opened fire, neither were hurt.

Although police have not yet confirmed whether they believe the shooting was gang-related, Hart gave evidence in a murder trial last year. The murdered man was a crown witness in the trial of Chakane Jamelle "CJ" Scott, who was convicted of the murder of Asher McGraw, who was shot dead in East End in September 2011.

Police are asking anyone with information or who was in the area at the time to call the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777, or Crime Stoppers 800-8477(TIPS) or the dedicated murder line 925 7240.

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