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iNews briefs1Double Gold Medal for Cayman’s 7Fathoms Rum in Vegas

Cayman Spirits Company in George Town, Grand Cayman won a Double Gold Medal at the 71st Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America’s (WSWA) 2014 annual trade competition, held in Las Vegas on Tuesday (8) with its “Seven Fathoms” Rum.

The underwater aged rum from the Cayman Islands was one of 37 Rums in its category that was judged in a blind tasting by industry experts.

Walker Romanica of Cayman Spirits Co said, “We are very proud to be able to represent The Cayman Islands as the first ever locally made Cayman Spirit in this international competition and to win a Double Gold medal.”

Cayman Spirits Company is the only distillery in the Cayman Islands. It produces Seven Fathoms Rum, Governor’s Reserve Rum and the newly launched Gun Bay Vodka. The Distillery is currently exporting rum to the US and the UK and is launching distribution in Canada and Germany later this year.

The WSWA competition is headed up by Executive Director, legendary Bar Man, and three time Iron Chef winner, Tony Abou-Ganim.

High-Definition music files may be coming to iTunes in June

By Leif Johnson From Maclife

Back in March we reported that Neil Young was trying to push his “PonoPlayer” to deliver “master quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible.” Young targeted Apple’s iPod in some of his marketing of the device, but now it appears Apple might be stepping up its game with a “dramatic overhaul” of iTunes by offering higher quality music downloads on iTunes than we’ve seen in the past.

That overhaul might include access from Android users, as well as an on-demand streaming service similar to what you find on Spotify or Google Play Music. But according to a source who allegedly spoke with music blogger Robert Hutton (via MacRumors), Apple may also start hosting lossless 24-bit audio files as early as June.

Hutton reports that Apple has asked labels to provide music files in 24-bit format for years now with a preference for either 96k or 192k sampling rates, leading him to state that the iPhone maker has “undeniably the biggest catalog of hi-res audio in the world.”

Hutton goes on to say that the “Led Zeppelin remasters in high resolution will be the kick off event — to coincide with Led Zep in hi-res, Apple will flip the switch and launch their hi-res store via iTunes — and apparently, it will be priced a buck above the typical current file prices.”

Those current files are currently 16-bit only, although Apple does, in fact, accept higher resolution files for its Mastered for iTunes program to “create more accurate encodes.”

Perhaps Neil Young is on to something. After all, his Kickstarter project for PonoPlayer asked for a “mere” $800,000, and he’s raised almost $6 million since the unit was shown at Austin’s SXSW last month.

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Approval for new projects and jobs in Cayman Brac

Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin announced in the Brac Legislative Assembly his government has given approval “in principle” to the controversial development of the Alexander Hotel marina next to the Salt Water Pond home of a number of endangered listed birds; and the opening of a new airline ticketing centre that will allow direct flights from Miami to Cayman Brac.

Full approval had been given to the creation of an additional six jobs in the Cayman Brac Fire Service, the Premier said, and government was working on sports tourism and marketing the Brac as an attractive destination for weddings and family tourism.

Dentons advises DAMAC on inaugural debt issuance

From CPI Financial 100

Dentons has advised DAMAC Real Estate Development Limited, a developer of high-end and luxury residential property in the Middle East, on its debut debt issuance of a $650,000,000 five year Regulation ‘S’ senior unsecured Sukuk maturing in April 2019, issued at a profit rate of 4.97 per cent.

The Sukuk was issued via a Cayman Islands special purpose vehicle, Alpha Star Holding Limited. Barclays, Citi and Deutsche Bank acted as Joint Global Co-ordinators and Joint Lead Managers on the deal, joined by Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital and National Bank of Abu Dhabi as Joint Lead Managers.

Dentons capital markets partner, Alex Roussos, commented, “We are very proud to have advised Damac on its inaugural debt issuance. The very strong demand for this Sukuk is testament to investors’ belief in the company’s strength and success and more generally in Dubai’s future.”

The Dentons team was led by Alex Roussos with support from senior associate Beene Ndulo and lawyer Katie Phillips.Walkers advised Alpha Star on Cayman Islands law. Linklaters LLP advised the Managers on English and UAE law matters.

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Cayman Islands Opposition Leader hits out at environmentalists

Cayman Islands Opposition Leader, McKeeva Bush, bashed environmentalists when he got up to speak at the Brac Legislative Assembly Meeting last week.

Speaking about the Alexander Hotel Marina project that would mean major redevelopment of the adjacent Salt Water Pond he bashed the “environmentalists on Grand Cayman.”

He said, “We cannot save a dozen birds and let people here on Cayman Brac suffer.”

He accused the Department of the Environment of deliberately giving wrong information to stop the project from moving forward even saying they had been running an “orchestrated effort on CNS to badmouth the developer and all kinds of evil” and making everyone “believe that they are the worst type of people in the world”.

The people there [on Grand Cayman], he said, would “ground you into the ground because of their environmental likes and dislikes”.

He said there were 21 solid educated Cayman Brackers with good common sense who had signed and sent a letter to government asking them to relax environmental considerations and approve the project in the next two weeks.

A lifeboat is standing-by a stricken cargo ship which has lost steering in a force eight gale off the west coast of Scotland.

From stvnews

Coastguards are concerned for the safety of her eight crew as high winds batter the vessel which is about 20 miles south of Barra Head.

A rescue or salvage tug is being sought for the MV Wilson Gdynia.

The 3,600 tonne Barbados-registered ship is crawling along at a speed of between one to two knots into the westerly gale as her captain desperately tries to keep her bow into the wind – a technique used to prevent her rolling heavily from side-to-side as if she went broadside-on (right angles) the whole length of the ship would be exposed to the high waves and strong winds.

Barra lifeboat is staying close to the stricken vessel in case the eight seamen onboard have to be evacuated.

Stornoway Coastguard received a VHF radio call about the emergency situation around 10.30am on Saturday morning and requested Barra lifeboat to launch.

The lifeboat is presently standing-by off the 20-year-old vessel which is carrying a cargo of wood chips.

The Tobermory RNLI lifeboat will take over standby duty at 6pm on Saturday to relieve the Barra crew.

Carol Collins, Stornoway Coastguard watch manager said: “The weather on scene is a concern with gale force winds and high seas.

“The lifeboat will standby in case the crew need to be taken off. We are working with our counter pollution officers to source a tug for the vessel.”

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Kinetic Partners makes promotions across global teams

By Mark Kitchen From Kinetic Partners

Financial services advisory firm Kinetic Partners has made promotions across its global teams.

There are four promotions to member: AnnMarie Croswell in Hong Kong, Jess Shakespeare in the Cayman Islands and Ian Manson and Richard Crannis in London.

Claire Simm is promoted to director in London and Katrina Banh and Jason Bleau are promoted to associate director in Hong Kong and London respectively.

Julian Korek, CEO, Kinetic Partners says: “The regulatory landscape is dramatically different to five years ago. Regulators are scrutinising company procedures far more and also working together to bring international enforcement actions. Companies now have to devote more time to making sure they are keeping within the guidelines whilst running a successful business. This is a big challenge.  We work with companies of all sizes from start ups to established firms to offer them our expertise regarding regulatory requirements.  This has meant growing our team and focusing on key areas, such as regulatory compliance, so we can keep offering our clients the best service.”

Lionfish population down [in Jamaican waters]

From Jamaica Observer

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is reporting a 66 per cent reduction in sightings of the ferocious Pacific lionfish in Jamaican waters.

This is just one of the many successes achieved under the recently concluded Mitigating the Threat of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in the Insular Caribbean (MTIASIC) project, which was launched four and half years ago.

The lionfish is a voracious predator, believed to have entered Caribbean waters from a protected environment in the United States after a natural disaster in 1992. By 2006, experts said, they could be found on almost every reef in Jamaica.

Their population can be as high as 250 lionfish per hectare – a situation which has been threatening smaller marine fish, shrimp, crabs, and other crustaceans on which they prey. The livelihoods of fisherfolk and the island’s fish exports were also at risk.

However, over the course of the past four year, under the National Lionfish Project, targeted removal strategies have seen the population in frequently visited areas reduced significantly. It is now down to approximately 80 lionfish per hectare in some areas.

The project also produced the now quite popular and successful, ‘Eat it to Beat it’ campaign, as well as a number of other public awareness initiatives geared at stemming the population of the lionfish.

Speaking at the closing-out ceremony of the MTIASIC project held at the Pollyanna hotel in Kingston on Friday (April 11), Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Robert Pickersgill, lauded NEPA and other stakeholders for the successful implementation of the MTIASIC programme.

The National Lionfish Project formed part of the larger MTIASIC, which was financed by the Global Environment Facility, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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Mourant Ozannes advises Vision Knight on Capital China Fund II launch

Offshore law firm Mourant Ozannes has acted as Cayman Counsel to Vision Knight Capital Partners on the launch of its second China private equity fund, Vision Knight Capital (China) Fund II LP.

The fund, which will invest in the consumer retail, internet and e-commerce sectors, was oversubscribed after only four months in the market and successfully achieved its hard cap of US$550million, attracting a broad range of global institutional investors.

Private equity firm Vision Knight Capital Partners was co-founded in 2011 by David Wei, formerly the CEO of, and Daming Zhu, a partner of DT Capital.

Mourant Ozannes investment funds team, which comprised lead partner Alex Last, Senior Lawyer Bronwyn King and Associate Pui Yee Lai worked alongside fund formation counsel Kirkland & Ellis.

Former NASA Scientist: Global warming is ‘nonsense’

From Newsmax

A prominent scientist and former NASA researcher has added his voice to those who challenge the “scientific fact” that manmade carbon emissions are causing global warming.

Dr. Leslie Woodcock is a professor emeritus of chemical thermodynamics at the University of Manchester in England, with a Ph.D. from the University of London, and served as a senior research consultant at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Laboratory in Ohio.

In an interview with Britain’s Yorkshire Evening Post, Woodcock declared: “The theory of ‘manmade climate change’ is an unsubstantiated hypothesis.

“The theory is that CO2 emitted by burning fossil fuel causes ‘global warming.’ In fact, water is a much more powerful greenhouse gas and there is 20 times more of it in our atmosphere [than carbon dioxide].

“Carbon dioxide has been made out to be some kind of toxic gas but the truth is it’s the gas of life. We breathe it out, plants breathe it in. The green lobby has created a do-good industry and it becomes a way of life, like a religion. I understand why people defend it when they have spent so long believing in it.”

Woodcock is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a founding editor of the journal Molecular Simulation, a recipient of a Max Planck Society Visiting Fellowship, and a former guest scientist at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology.

He went on to say: “If you talk to real scientists who have no political interest, they will tell you there is nothing in global warming. It’s an industry which creates vast amounts of money for some people.

“The temperature of the earth has been going up and down for millions of years. If there are extremes, it’s nothing to do with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it’s not permanent and it’s not caused by us. Global warming is nonsense.

“It’s become almost an industry, as a consequence of this professional misconduct by government advisers around the world.”

But he added: “You can’t blame ordinary people with little or no science education for wanting to be seen to be good citizens who care about their grandchildren’s future and the environment.”

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Esso is now officially a subsidiary of Simpson Oil in the Cayman Islands

Esso, one of Cayman Islands major fuel suppliers, is now officially a subsidiary of Simpson Oil Ltd (SOL).

SOL is a Barbados-based company and on January 1st finalised the share purchase agreement with ExxonMobil, headquartered in Texas, and its affiliates. SOL purchased the Caribbean businesses that included not only the Cayman Islands but the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, and Dominican Republic as well.

The Esso service stations will remain branded as Esso and will continue to sell Esso fuels an official of SOL said.

SOL Petroleum Cayman Ltd. held its official launch party on April 10th  at The Wharf restaurant in George Town on West Bay Road.

The other major fuels supplier in the Cayman Islands, Rubis, recently rebranded their name on all their Texaco gas stations in the Cayman Islands.

Dengue and Chikungunya fever worry Caribbean Region                              

Port of Spain, Apr 14 (Prensa Latina) Two Caribbean health agencies called on area experts to attend a symposium to debate the threat of disemination of dengue and chikungunya fever (arthritic virus) in the region.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) and the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN) called on physicians, researchers, network engineers and other experts to attend the meeting summoned for next June 12 in this capital.

The objective is to share experiences on those illnesses transmitted by certain mosquitoes like the Aedes aegypti.

Organizers of the event advanced to local media that professionals attending the venue will have the possibility of using the digital networks C@ribNET and RedClara. The symposium will show the synergy and the cooperation, fundamental values of the Caribbean Community (Caricom).

It will also give an opportunity to health specialists and network engineers to meet and discuss not only about the present status of viruses in the region but to update the use of networks to increase collaboration.

The incidence of dengue has increased rapidly all over the world in the last decades.

According to official stats, over 2.5 billion persons throughout the world are in risk of catching dengue- Besides the rise of infection, there are sprouts of the illness extending to new areas of the planet.

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Caribbean whaler turns whale watcher

From WDC

WDC warmly welcomes the news that Orson ‘Balaam’ Ollivierre, regarded as the chief whaler on the island of Bequia (‘bek-way’) – the second largest island of the Grenadines in the Eastern Caribbean – has abandoned whaling in favour of whale watching.

Since 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC ) has awarded St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) an annual subsistence quota, currently four humpback whales. The hunts have long been the subject of controversy since SVG fails to meet the criteria for nations wishing to hunt for subsistence purposes. Whaling is not a cultural tradition for Bequia but rather was introduced in the late 19th Century by Scottish settler, William Wallace, who later teamed up with French settler, Joseph Ollivierre, an ancestor of Orson. Orson himself learned whaling techniques from his uncle Athneal, around a quarter of a century ago.

Until recent years, the hunts were notorious for targeting mother/calf pairs, striking the calf first in the knowledge that the mother would remain close by to aid her dying calf: a technique forbidden under IWC regulations. Hunting methods were particularly brutal involving the use of speed boats, harpoons and exploding projectiles.

Last year, Orson killed three humpback whales. Renouncing the harpoon then, is a brave and much appreciated gesture from Orson and comes after the National Trust of St Vincent and the Grenadines mounted a campaign urging a move to watching – rather than killing – humpback whales.

In mid-February, Orson handed over his whaling boat, Rescue, and whaling equipment to the Trust and these will be displayed at the Bequia Boat Museum. He feels that the time has come for a change and hopes that whale watching will be more lucrative than whaling – as has proved the case time and again in other parts of the world. Doubtless, like other whalers turned whale watchers before him, his local knowledge of whales and their movements will prove invaluable.

He joins another local whaler, Gaston Bess, who gave up whaling last year after more than three decades, following a whale watching trip to the Dominican Republic.  “Watching them took my breath away,” Bess said at the time. “Even though I had been around them, struck them and watched them die, now I was watching them ballet, caressing their young. Harpooning whales in St. Vincent and the Grenadines should be a thing of the past. It doesn’t add anything to our economy. People should get excited and get their children excited in watching the whales in their natural environment and protecting them.”

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Four in Caribbean court charged with murder of Warwickshire businessman Roger Pratt

By Duncan Gibbons From Coventry Telegraph

Retired engineer was beaten and thrown into the sea when armed men climbed on board yacht moored off the St Lucian coast

Four men have appeared in court in the Caribbean in connection with the murder of a Warwickshire yachtsman who died trying to protect his wife from a gang of robbers.

Retired engineer Roger Pratt, 62, was beaten and thrown into the sea when armed men climbed on board the couple’s yacht moored off the coast of the St Lucia on January 17.

A post-mortem examination showed he drowned after suffering a traumatic blow.

Mrs Pratt, 60, was treated in hospital for cuts and bruises.

Richie Kern, Kervin Devaux, Fannis Joseph and Jeromine Jones, all of St Lucia, have been charged with murder and robbery in connection with the incident.

The men, who are all aged between 21 and 31, appeared before the Second District Court in Vieux Fort for the third time.

Their latest appearance on Friday was for a sufficiency hearing – to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to commit them to trial – and it was adjourned to May 23.

The four men did not enter any pleas.

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See also iNews Cayman story published January 27 2014 “Death in paradise: St Lucia haunted by Roger Pratt’s murder” at:

Remittance fees to Caribbean outrageously high – World Bank

From Jamaican Gleaner

The World Bank has voiced concern about what it described as the exorbitant cost of sending remittances to the Caribbean.

The World Bank says in some cases migrant workers are forced to pay as much as US$50 to send US$200 and it says this is wrong.

The Washington-based financial institution said this is especially so when workers are sending salaries they have earned in the hope of supporting their families back home.

It said US$200 is often a very significant sum for migrants’ family income.

It says there was little price transparency and no global effort to address this problem until the World Bank helped form a coalition to monitor the process and create an information system to help remittance-senders compare services and costs.

As a result, the bank said the global average of sending a remittance of US$200 came down from 9.81 per cent to 8.95 per cent in the normal average and from 8.58 per cent to 6.62 per cent in the weighted avera4ge from 2008.

The World Bank has also said that remittances to the Caribbean and other developing countries are expected to remain robust this year, despite increased deportations of migrant workers.

The bank said migrants from developing countries, including the Caribbean, are expected to send US$436 billion in remittances to their home countries this year.

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