Archive for August 20th, 2008

Power back but water off

| 20/08/2008 | 0 Comments

Following yet another power outage yesterday across the Eastern Districts, West Bay, South Sound, Smith Road, Industrial Park and other parts of the island, East Enders and several Water Authority customer in George Town woke up to dry taps this morning, 20 August.

A broken water main near Bodden Town Police Station has cut off supplies to the east, which are not expected to return until noon today. Meanwhile another broken water main at the junction of North Sound Road and Dorcy Drive has caused a loss of pressure and in some cases water supply to many George Town customers. According to the Water Authority website it will take around 6 hours to repair.

CUC have yet to explain fully about yesterday’s outage, but the company issued a statement saying the problem had been isolated and power returned late afternoon of 19 August. The statement also said that CUC expressed its appreciation for the patience of its customers during the service interruption and apologized for any inconvenience caused.

The loss of power was the third major outage in less than a week which has given rise to significant concern in the community.

 

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Mothersill races into finals

| 20/08/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Slashing both her time in the quarterfinals (22.83) and her season best in the preliminaries (22.76), the Cayman Islands’ Cydonie Mothersill qualified for the finals in the Women’s 200-meter with a time of 22.61 seconds. "I ran it like it was my finals," Mothersill told Cayman Islands Olympic Committee Journalist Shurna Robbins. "I ran it like there was no tomorrow. And I live to fight another night."

“I didn’t think I got off particularly too well. But I was strong and God was on my side. I am so happy, God is so good, because I have had a rough season, and tonight I’m in the finals and it’s an awesome feeling. I got knocked out four years ago and I’m just happy. I feel blessed,” she said.

Mothersill said she just focused on the race. "I just ran. I just stayed in my lane and just kept on running 202 metres." For the finals she said she’s just going to run a bit harder than she did today.

The whole of the Cayman Islands must be celebrating Mothersill’s victory with her, says Coach Kenrick Williams, certain the entire population in Cayman will be up early to watch the finals tomorrow, the first time a Caymanian athlete has made it into the finals in the Olympic Games. "I know she is a warrior and I know she is a fighter," says Williams. "And she is going to fight all the way to the end.

"With a final time of 22.61 seconds, Mothersill’s overall ranking was ninth out of 16 runners, and she joins a tough line-up. Even her all-time personal best of 22.39, which she ran in 2005, might not bring her a medal against the powerhouse teams from Jamaica and the US.

In the semifinals Wednesday,Americans Allyson Felix (22.33), Muna Lee (22.29) and Marshevet Hooker (22.50) all advanced, as did the Jamaican trio of Veronica Campbell-Brown (22.19) Sherone Simpson (22.50) and Kerron Stewart (22.29). Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie of the Bahamas also advanced with a time of 22.51. The Americans are hoping to avoid a replay in Thursday’s finals in the 200m of the clean sweep of medals by the Jamaican team in the 100 finals.
 

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Guest Rabbi to hold special Jewish services

| 20/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): One of Israel’s leading Rabbis will be coming to the Cayman Islands next month to join the local Jewish community in celebrations marking the New Year and the Day of Atonement. During his visit Rabbi Richard Kirschen (left) of Jerusalem’s Anita Saltz International Education Centre will lead various High Holy Day services at the Ritz Carlton-Grand Cayman.

Kirschen will be here for ten days between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which starts at sunset on 29 September celebrating the year 5769, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the most solemn day of the Jewish Year, which will be marked on 9 October.

While Rosh Hashanah is a festival it is not just one big New Year’s Eve party but a spiritual holiday where Jews remember the creation of the world and a time for personal introspection and prayer. It is also called the Feast of the Trumpets and the blowing of a ram’s horn, a shofar, proclaims Rosh Hashanah, and summons Jews to religious services. In Biblical times the trumpet was used to announce the new moon, holidays, and war.

Traditional Jewish foods accompany Rosh Hashanah. Typically, a blessing will be said over two loaves of bread, known as challah, which stands for the circle of life, and the hope life endures without end.

Yom Kipper or the Day of Atonement is the most sacred holy day and a day of fasting and prayer for forgiveness for sins committed during the year. Jews gather in synagogues on the Eve of Yom Kippur when the fast begins, and return the following morning to continue confessing, doing penance and praying for forgiveness. The most solemn of the prayers, Kol Nidre, is chanted on the Eve of Yom Kippur. It is describes as a day to "afflict the soul," or atone for the sins of the past year. Yom Kippur is seen as the last appeal, or last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate repentance and make amends. Biblical origins can be found in Leviticus, where the priestly ritual of atonement is described.

Kirschen is the directorof Anita Saltz, which according to a release from Cayman’s Jewish community interweaves spiritual, intellectual and sensory experiences for a dynamic Jewish journey. He was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1996. Before making aliyah to Israel he served as a Hillel director for eight years. He was the executive director of the Hillel at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Prior to that, he was associate director of the University of Michigan Hillel in Ann Arbor, MI. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife Cara Saposnik a documentary filmmaker and their three children.

For further information on High Holy Days services, please contact Sara Carlowe McKay on 927 7304 or scarlowe@hotmail.com.

 

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The new perk in luxury real estate: Private planes

| 20/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(International Herald Tribune): With resort projects around the world dangling everything from satellite-ready security technology to a year’s worth of coconut oil spa treatments, developers are struggling to find new perks to entice luxury home buyers. The latest addition to the goody list: private jets. Go to article

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New low-cost carrier confident on making second year profit

| 20/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(Jamaica Observer): Barbados-based Caribbean carrier Airone Ventures Limited is expecting to turn a profit during the second year of operation, confident of the business model success of low-budget carriers elsewhere in the world. Airone plans to launch their still unnamed brand in June/July 2009.  (Photo: Karl McLarty) Go to article

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Residents appeal for help in quarry dispute

| 20/08/2008 | 6 Comments

(CNS): After almost a decade of disruption and endless attempts to protect their homes and their local environment, the residents of Mahogany Estates have made an appeal to the people of Cayman to help them stop a proposed quarry development from destroying 44 acres of bluff and forest in the Beach Bay area, which they say has already turned their lives upside down.

The residents of Mahogany Estates called on the media on Tuesday 19 August to help them gain support. With Reverend Nicholas Sykes as their spokesperson, residents explained that since 1997 local businessman Lorenzo Berry of White Rock Investment (WRI) has been illegally extracting fill from a 44-acre site behind their homes. Berry was given planning permission in 1997 to level sections of the site for roads on what would eventually be a residential development. However, residents say that over the years he has excavated the site, removed and sold fill all contrary to Planning Permission.

“Between 1997 and 2000 there was excavation work that gave the Central Planning Authority concerns because it was outside the road corridors,” Rev Sykes explained. “In February 2000 extension of permission for the wholesale clearance and excavation of land on the site was refused. However, after a few years the owners restarted work using explosives.”

Sykes went on to explain that, excavation, blasting without notice, the movement of heavy equipment and commercial operations have persisted on the site. Trucks regularly move through the narrow lanes of Mahogany Estates from as early as 4:30 in the morning to carry fill from the illegal quarry, in what was intended to be a quiet countryside residential development. The Planning Department has asked the owner to cease excavating on numerous occasions, but while their requests were heeded for short periods of time, eventually the work would start up again. Berry has cleared a significant area in the centre of his land down to around 17 feet from the original bluff height of about 30 feet, and has now requested planning permission to clear the entire 44-acre site down to five feet, residents reported.

Jean Ebanks, one of the residents spearheading the campaign, said that regardless of the objections of the people living in Mahogany Estates the clearance of this land was of concern to the community at large. “This area has been a buffer for all residents in the Beach Bay area. It was one of the few districts which was not flooded during Hurricane Ivan (September 2004) because of the bluff and the natural forest,” she said. Ebanks added that the area is a natural habitat for Cayman Parrots, West Indian Woodpeckers and many other birds, as well as home to Silver Thatch Palms, Banana Orchids, Ironwood Trees, rare and indigenous bromeliads and other native flora and fauna.

Moreover, the residents said that a number of people who purchased land from Berry now have no access to their plots because of the excavation and the remaining roads have been blocked with gates declaring the site an excavation spot, even though no permission has been given yet to carry out a commercial quarrying operation.

During their attempts to raise attention to the situation, the residents said they had checked the destination of the illegally removed fill and that some was going to a large private development site but also, to the residents’ distress and alarm, to the National Roads Authority and into the new east-west arterial bypass.

“We contacted the NRA to tell them they were using illegally extracted fill, but we have never had any significant response on this,” said Skyes, who explained that over the past decade the residents have contacted numerous agencies, from the Complaints Commissioner and the Governor to Central Planning and Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts over the excavation, but are not reassured that their case is being properly considered. (CNS continues to make attempts to contact the NRA for response).

He said the decision by the CPA to hold a meeting to consider Berry’s most recent application illustrates that the residents are being ignored .The residents also say that they do not have legal counsel to assist them and they are concerned that their spokesperson Rev Sykes has a prior commitment that cannot be moved on the day that the CPA plans to hear WRI’s application. After pleading their case for a postponement, the Planning Department had suggested the meeting could be moved. However, WRI have apparently objected and a postponement decision has not been finalised.

When CNS attempted to contact Berry we were told he did not wish to comment on the situation. In the past, however, he has denied the accusations and insisted he has all of the proper government permits, although evidence from Planning suggests otherwise. He also says the necessary precautions for protecting surrounding property and residents, including employing licensed explosives experts and placing seismographs to monitor blasting, have been taken.

Since the dispute began, residents say Berry and his associates have made threats to them, their supporters and other journalists that have been invited to meetings. Some residents insisted on anonymity during yesterday’s meeting, as they are fearful of the owner. Sykes said the police have been contacted when threats have been made, although it took the intervention of local MLA Osbourne Bodden to get the police to react.

However, when CNS contacted the RCIPS we were told that it takes any threats seriously and that threatening violence or intimidating behaviour is a crime in itself, even if the threat is not executed. The police liaison office said that they would also look into the accusations surrounding the threats made concerning Mahogany Estates.
 

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FCU must be non-political

| 20/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The lack of resolution on various Financial Crimes Unit (FCU) investigations cannot be influenced by political pressure or interests, Acting Police Commissioner David George said yesterday. “The dynamic and speed of these investigations cannot be determined by politicians,” he said, adding that there could be no political influence over police investigations even if they were connected to political administrations.

Referring to a number of investigations initiated by various reports from the Auditor General’s office, including concerns over the financing of the Turtle Farm and the Affordable Housing Initiative, as well as the more recent irregularities surrounding the former President of the UCCI, Hassan Syed, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Commissioner said that, regardless of the pressure the FCU might be under to bring these investigations to an end, they could not be influenced by politics.

“We can understand public concern surrounding these enquiries but it is vitally important that we disassociate the political process and that there is clear blue water between the police investigation and the politics of some of these investigations,” said George, adding that the FCU faced unique obstacles during its complex and intricate investigations.

Speaking at an informal media meeting with members of the local press at RCIPS headquarters on Tuesday, 19 August, George explained that officers within the FCU face particular pressures that were exasperated by the nature of their investigations.

“The FCU deals with long-term investigations and due to the nature of the crimes they are investigating they often involve liaison with and working in conjunction with a lot of other agencies, be it the Auditor General’s office or other accountancy firms that have been engaged to help look into the detailed financial information,” George said.

He explained that in some cases the investigations involve gathering evidence from overseas and that the FCU has to seek expert advice from senior council, often in the United Kingdom, to ensure that every base has been covered in these very specialist enquiries. “These investigations test the abilities of a small service such as ours which is why they seem to take so much time,” he added.

However, the Commissioner said he was well aware of the public pressure and the need to resolve these crimes and assured the public that they were all being addressed by the unit. “These are not investigations that we file in a draw and get them out when we haven’t got anything else to do,” he said, adding that the service had every intention of dealing with all of the investigations expeditiously.

The investigation regarding the financing of the Turtle Farm is, according to the Police Liaison officer Deborah Denis, still with the legal department and she said no ruling has yet been made. The Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush, however, stated in the Legislative Assembly recently that his previous administration had been cleared of any wrongdoing regarding that issue.

The Commissioner also said that he did not believe that the individual recently arrested regarding the investigation of the local hedge fund collapse (Grand Island fund) had left the island as had been suggested, as it was part of the conditions surrounding his release on bail that he did not leave Cayman.
 

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Over-zealous spam filter causes problems

| 20/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A spam blocker caused significant problems to the government network and has been turned off. In a release yesterday, Computer Services explained that additional spam filter criteria were added to the system on Tuesday, 12 August, to help catch more spam messages. However, the filters did more than intended, and in addition to blocking spam mail, it also identified and blocked some legitimate messages.

This continued occurring even after several adjustments were made to the filter’s reject/delete settings, and it was therefore turned off two days later on Thursday, 14 August.

Responding to media reports that some government workers were finding that innocuous emails were received with the message “BANNED CONTENT ALERT”, the release said that filters are regularly upgraded to keep spam levels down (as spammers continuously renew their efforts to get information through to users), and that on average the Cayman Islands Government receives upwards of 23.6 million e-mail messages monthly (about 760,000 or more daily). Of those messages 60 – 80 per cent (14 -19 million) are spam – messages containing, for example, foul language, pornography, nudity or other unsolicited commercial junk mail.

The Computer Services Department uses several types of spam blockers, and each has its own criteria for identifying and rejecting unsolicited or inappropriate mail. Also, each blocker is modified regularly to help limit the amount of spam that slips into users’ inboxes. But even with these in place, the department has been able to successfully block only 67% of spam e-mails.

“Computer Services is intent on doing all it can to address the spam problem, and to meet government’s needs will continue in its efforts to upgrade its filters. The volume of spam messages received by core government on a monthly basis is tremendous. Without spam blockers they would eventually overwhelm and clog the system, preventing legitimate messages from passing between users,” the release said..

 

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Fifth person charged in Antigua murder of couple

| 20/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(AFP): A fifth person was charged in connection with the shooting deaths of two honeymooners in Antigua, police said on Tuesday. Georgette Aaron, 31, was charged with accessory to murder, accessory to robbery and perverting the course of justice, court documents showed. Aaron is the fifth suspect arrested and charged in the ongoing investigation into the murders of Ben and Catherine Mullany, who were shot and killed while honeymooning here last month. Go to article

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