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Bahamas set for sweeping changes to gaming industry

| 09/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The government of The Bahamas has decided to go against the result of referendum and press on with the proposed comprehensive legislation aimed at regularizing the gaming industry in the country. The referendum to legalize gambling for citizens in January 2013, which cost taxpayers $1.2m, resulted in a ‘no’ majority vote. Nevertheless, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said the government could not avoid moving forward with regularising number houses because the Central Bank of the Bahamas warned that unregulated web shops were expected to harm the financial services sector. Casinos on the islands have applauded the proposed regulations. Read more and comment on CNS Business

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Private plane crashes off coast of Jamaica

| 05/09/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): A light aircraft bound for Florida has crashed some 14 miles of the coast of Jamaica after the pilot stopped responding to air-traffic control, Friday. US and Jamaican authorities have confirmed that the unresponsive plane carrying two passengers from New York state came down around 2:15 this afternoon north-east of Port Antonio. Both Jamaican and US Coast Guard planes and ships are on their way to the crash site of the Socata TBM-700, which took off from Rochester at 08:26 but it stopped responding to us air traffic control around 10am. The US scrambled two fighter jets to investigate but it is not clear what had happened to the plane.

Norad said it was not possible for the jet fighter pilots to see inside the single propeller plane before it crashed as the windows were frosted or fogged over. A tweet from the US military organisation suggested the pilot or pilots could be unresponsive due to "possible hypoxia" a lack of oxygen in the Cabin which may mean the pilots and passengers had all lost consciousness. The plane was flying at an altitude of 25,000 feet southbound over the Caribbean Sea, approaching the north east point of Jamaica, when it went off radar.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said it had also co-operated with Cuban air traffic authorities in monitoring the plane, despite the diplomatic impasse between the nations for more than fifty years. The plane had travelled some 1,700 miles across Cuba’s air space before it crashed.

The plane is registered to company owned by Larry Glazer a real estate developer from Rochester who is understood to have been one of the passengers along with his wife Rachel who were understood to be planning to spend the weekend in Naples where they have real estate interests.

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JetBlue makes emergency stop in Bermuda

| 02/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A JetBlue aircraft flying from New York’s JFK airport and St Maarten was diverted to Bermuda yesterday after reports of smoke and fumes inside the aircraft’s cockpit. The Jet Blue Airbus A320-200 had 139 people on board and five hours of fuel, according to media reports in Bermuda. With ten vehicles and 16 staff members of the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) standing by, the flight landed safely in Bermuda at 12.07pm. The BFRS Emergency Medical Technicians carried out a search of the aircraft and assessed passengers and crew, but determined that no medical assistance was required. An investigation into the cause of the issue will be carried out, officials said.

Flight B6-787 from New York JFK to St Maarten was en route at FL330 about 230nm northwest of Bermuda when the crew declared emergency, reporting smoke in the cockpit and decided to divert to Bermuda. Enroute to Bermuda the crew reported they had the smoke pretty much under control but the fumes persisted, according to The Aviation Herald. The aircraft landed safely about 40 minutes later.

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Ganja smoking couples less violent, says study

| 28/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A new study by researchers from Yale University, University of Buffalo and Rutgers conducted over the best part of a decade has revealed that husbands and wives who frequently smoke cannabis are less likelyto engage in domestic violence than those who don’t. The scientists found that couples who used cannabis three times or more each month they reported the lowest number domestic violence incidents over the first nine years of marriage. The couples completed questionnaires during the study on how often they used the drug and other substances, such as alcohol.

They were asked to report violent incidents with their spouses and the study concluded that the more coples smoked ganja, the less likely they were to be violent to each other.

Kenneth Leonard, the director of the UB Research Institute on Addictions and the lead researcher stated that the study suggests cannabis use is predictive of lower levels of aggression. The authors suggested chronic cannabis users exhibit "blunted emotional reaction to threat stimuli" which could also reduce the likelihood of aggressive behaviour.

The study was published in the online edition of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors in August.

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Colorado’s ganja legalization applauded

| 13/08/2014 | 96 Comments

(CNS): An independent report into the way Colorado implemented the legalization of ganja has lauded the State’s efforts. Acknowledging a number of issues that local officials will need to address, from the way edible marijuana is sold to its cultivation, the study by John Hudak, from the Brookings Institution, examines the administrative elements of the legislative change rather than passing judgment on the rights and wrongs or moral position on lifting the prohibition. Noting that it is too early to judge the success of the policy, Hudak says that it is not too early to say that the implementation of legal retail marijuana has been largely successful.

The report comes as more US states are pondering the legalization of recreational as well as medical ganja use and as the western world slowly begins to re-think its failed war on all drugs. Jamaica is currently assessing its position and lining itself up to benefit not just from the direct financial revenue but the management of finances associated with what is expected to become a major industry in the future.

Meanwhile, here in Cayman as legislators continue to back a zero tolerance policy and refuse to even openly discuss the matter, the criminalization of people for possession of miniscule quantities and even consumption continues.

The new report from the think tank which revues government policy demonstrates that Colorado achieved a complete cultural turnaround, even in the face of federal opposition, and indicates a number of elements that have led to the legalization rollout’s success.

“The state has met challenging statutory and constitutional deadlines for the construction and launch of a legal, regulatory, and tax apparatus for its new policy,” Hudak writes in the independent academic paper. “In doing so, it has made intelligent decisions about regulatory needs, the structure of distribution, prevention of illegal diversion, and other vital aspects of its new market. It has made those decisions in concert with a wide variety of stakeholders in the state.”

The report praises the innovation, professionalism, competence, leadership, and execution of the legalization and said that the broad success of the state in putting into effect a policy that had no true precedent was a difficult task. While he notes shortcomings and challenges which cannot be overlooked, the report finds that the state government has met the most basic standard of success.

“It has done what Amendment 64 instructed it to do. Colorado has effectively created regulatory and administrative apparatuses that facilitate the legal retail marijuana market,” said Hudak.

“Through a series of legislative, executive, and administrative actions, the state has allowed product to come to market; ensured that monitoring and enforcement processes were in place and functioning; collected revenue from marijuana sales; and sought to build, maintain, and improve the ability of the state to continue to regulate the market effectively,” he added

Commending the leadership at the state level for the success, the government policy expert said that not everything is perfect but a “strong launch, built on a capable and flexible administrative infrastructure, gives Colorado a leg up as events unfold,” Hudak wrote.

Colorado earned over $6 million from ganja sales in just the first two months of the change in the law and the report reveals that the revenue collection has also been well-managed, with money going to fund important projects such as building schools, substance abuse treatment, public-health education campaigns, and law-enforcement training, as well as the actual enforcement of the new laws.

See full report here.

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UK can’t turn back on slavery obligations

| 01/08/2014 | 85 Comments

(CNS): The British government has "a case to answer to in respect of reparatory justice", the chairman of the CARICOM reparations commission told the House of Commons in a special presentation to UK parliamentarians earlier this month. Professor Sir Hilary Beckles asked parliament to take decisive action to correct “the terrible wrongs of the past” as he continued the fight for restorative justice for the Caribbean people and the legacy of the slave trade. He said restorative justice would bring honour and dignity to the people of the Caribbean, but also to Britain and Europe. Beckles said the last 50 years had been about cleaning up the mess left behind by the colonial masters and Britain could not walk away from that.

He said the UK and its parliament could not morally and legally turn their back upon this past and the mess they have left behind.

Speaking to the elected members of the Commons on 16 July, the chairman of the commission outlined the injustices of slavery and the genocide that occurred as a result of European expansion and urged the government to respond with humility and openness when they receive a request for dialogue on the issue of reparations from Caribbean governments.

“This Parliament has to return to the scene of its crimes, and participate as a legitimate parliament, as a legal parliament, in the healing and rehabilitation of the Caribbean,” Beckles stated in his address.

Reparations remains a key aim for the CARICOM Heads of Government. Earlier this year Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, announced that that the Caribbean Reparatory Justice Programme (CRJP) was accepted by the CARICOM Heads of government as a basis for discussions on reparations. CARICOM leaders have agreed to dispatch a Draft Notice of Complaint to the relevant European governments, with a request that a conference be held on the issue.

The full text of Professor Sir Hilary Beckles’ address to the House of Commons, Parliament of Great Britain is posted below.

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FCO cover-up of child sexual abuse in BOT

| 17/07/2014 | 43 Comments

(CNS): A child protection charity found shocking evidence of child sexual abuse, domestic violence and sexual exploitation on the British overseas territory of St Helena, a South Atlantic island with a population of 3,800. The police, which includes many English officers, was also criticized for failing to tackle sexual offenders. Residents told the Daily Mail, which has exposed the cover-up, that the island was "worse than Pitcairn" – another remote BOT where sexual offenses were found to be commonplace. However, the 83-page report on St Helena by The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which uncovered a "cultural acceptance of the sexualisation of children", was never publicised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 

To boost the economy the UK government has invested £250 million into building an airport on the island, which opens in 2016. But residents told the UK daily newspaper that the island would become a "paedophile’s paradise" when the airport opened, as predators took advantage of a "perfect storm" of extreme poverty, a cultural acceptance of sex abuse and "laxpolicing".

Read the full article and more here on the Daily Mail.

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Simmonds keeps job but gets new boss

| 16/07/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The overseas territories minister has survived the UK Prime Minister’s Cabinet reshuffle but he will be dealing with a new boss following the resignation of the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, from the front bench. Hague is retiring from politics at the next election and will now sit on the backbenches for his last year in office as leader of the Commons. Mark Simmonds will now be working under Phillip Hammond the new head of the Foreign Office, who is considered a Eurosceptic and will represent the UK on the world stage until the British elections next year.

The MP for Runnymede and Weybridge, Kent, Hammond is likely to focus his overseas efforts close to home renegotiating the UK government’s relationship with Europe. Hammond is the second richest member in Cabinet with a net worth of £8.2 million, just under Lord Strathclyde's £9.6 million.

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‘Demented Dalek’ loses Education in UK re-shuffle

| 15/07/2014 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Michael Gove, once described as the “most hated Education Secretary in history”, who spearheaded a number of major reforms of education including the transformation of many schools into academies or free schools, has been stripped of his portfolio in Prime Minister David Cameron’s Cabinet re-shuffle. As Britain gears up towards the next election, Gove’s unpopularity among teachers had become a liability. Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the prime minister had “belatedly realised that Michael Gove’s ideological drive is no substitute for measured, pragmatic reform of the education system”.

“Time after time he has chased newspaper headlines rather than engage with teachers,” she said. “The dismantling of the structures which support schools, the antagonism which he displayed to the teaching profession and the increasing evidence of chaos in the bodies he established has led Cameron to one conclusion – Gove is more of a liability than an asset.

“Successful education systems value the views of the teaching profession, which Gove insulted when he called them ‘the blob’.”

A recent poll by the National Union of Teachers found that 79% of teachers believe that the current government has had a “negative impact on the education system” and more than 80% opposed the academies and free schools programme. 75% thought that morale in the teaching profession has fallen since the last general election.

Recently described by the NUT as "the demented Dalek on speed who wants to exterminate anything good in education that's come along since the 1950s”, Gove departure has been celebrated by teachers across the country.

Christine Blower, the NUT's general secretary, said Gove’s “vision for education is simply wrong. His pursuit of the unnecessary and often unwanted free schools and academies programme, the use of unqualified teachers, the failure to address the school place crisis and endless ill-thought out reforms to examinations and the curriculum has been his hallmark in office.

“Michael Gove’s search for headlines over speaking to the profession has clearly angered teachers. We remain in dispute over the direction of Government policy, which we believe is undermining the education service.”

Gove has been replaced by Nicky Morgan, the Minister for Women and Equality. While he and Cameron claimed that his new non-Cabinet position of chief whip was not a demotion, it is generally perceived as such.

However, the Ofsted chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said he was "surprised and shocked that this has happened".

"I'm a great admirer of the Secretary of State, I think he's been a transformative and radical minister of education." He said Gove had made some "substantial changes" to education, which would be lasting.

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Putin and Castro brothers sign deal over debt

| 15/07/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following a meeting with the Raul and Fidel Castro in Cuba on the start of a Latin American tour, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, agreed to write off 90 per cent of the island’s $35 billion debt to Moscow and announced a series of oil and trade initiatives. Putin also laid a wreath at Revolution Square in Havana with Raúl Castro, Cuba’s president and for an hour behind closed doors with his older brother Fidel, the long-time former leader. Visiting the so called American “backyard” Putin said Russia was “interested in a strong, economically stable and politically independent, united Latin America which is an important part in the emerging polycentric world order.

The Russian president’s visit to the region comes as Russia has been excludedfrom recent gatherings of the G8 group of leading industrial powers. But Putin has long sought to undermine what he believes is American and Western European domination of international agencies, even before his Ukrainian policies resulted in sanctions. Russia’s wooing of improved commercial links in Latin America comes as new figures indicate the economic impact of its belligerence in Ukraine.


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