Archive for November 24th, 2008

New top cop nuclear expert

| 24/11/2008 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Following the very sudden departure of Royce Hipgrave, who had recently been appointed to serve as Acting Commissioner but turned the job down last week, Governor Stuart Jack has announced the appointment of another Acting Commissioner of Police to take over from David George the Acting Commissioner who was acting for Stuart Kernohan. James Smith has come from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, a predominantly armed force which is responsible for policing the UK’s nuclear materials and facilities.

The Governor said in a statement released today, 24 November, that Smith comes with over 35 years policing experience ,during which time he has led internal and external enquiries; commanded responses to significant international events, including in the Command Team for the July 2005 London terrorist bombings, and has wide policing experience in a variety of countries and jurisdictions.  “He spent 30 years rising through the police ranks in Scotland, then became a Commander in the Metropolitan Police Service before becoming Deputy Chief Constable of the UK’s Civil Nuclear Constabulary from 2006-2008,” the Governor added.

Smith is due to arrive to take up the temporary role as top cop on 1 December.

 “I am honoured that His Excellency the Governor has invited me to lead the RCIPS at such a critical point and am hopeful that in the coming months I will provide stability, clear direction and strong leadership to the police service,” Smith said. “I look forward to working with members of the government, partner agencies and the citizens of the Cayman Islands.”

George departs Cayman tomorrow and in the interim, DPC Anthony Ennis will serve as Acting Police Commissioner. Hipgrave arrived in Cayman on 18 November and apparently informed the Governor he had changed his mind on Wednesday, 19 November, citing an unacceptable aspect. Although CNS was unable to confirm, there is speculation that the "aspect" in question was directly linked to the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) led by Martin Bridger, and the subsequent firing of Stuart Kernohan, the Police Commissioner who had been suspended since March of this year because of Bridger’s investigation.

Smith is expected to serve for six months and comes from a very different background to that of Hipgrave, who had experience serving in an Overseas Territory. Smith was a senior officer with the CNC, a very specialist police service dedicated to the nuclear industry with Operational and Support Units based at Nuclear Sites in England, Scotland and Wales.  Officers serving on the CNC have an exclusive role. The force is described as being positioned between providing protection for civil nuclear licensed sites and safe-guarding nuclear materials, nuclear site operators, policing and nuclear regulators as well as interlinking with Home Office forces.

Given the comments made by Sir Peter Cresswell in his ruling regarding Bridger’s investigation recently, which he described as “taking the nuclear option”, Smith’s experience may prove to be invaluable.

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Sister Islands insurance coverage

| 24/11/2008 | 6 Comments

I read with interest and disappointment that it is unlikely that the Sister Islands will benefit from the 16-member Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), of which the Cayman Islands is a participant, to assist with the impact of hurricane Paloma.

Based on the reported statements from a representative of the CCRIF, it seems that the way in which the risk and payout model is structured the estimated damages would not trigger ”an automatic payout” from the CCRIF to assist the Sister Islands. This is because the policy is focused on the Cayman Islands as a whole and it is not estimated that there is “significant damage to economic activity or government infrastructure required for continuity of national administration”.

That may well be the case in terms of looking at the nation as a whole but it seems pointless that the Sister Islands, which is a separate and unique area of economic activity, has not been addressed by the policy’s parameters after the devastating effect of hurricane Paloma for a number of reasons:

The Sister Islands gross domestic product (GDP), which is the measure of the size of its economy, is likely no more than 50 million. I participated some years ago in what may be one of, the, if not the only, original measures of the Sister Islands GDP and at the time it was approximately 35 million and would have grown since then.

Approximately 50% of all economic activity in the Sister Islands is related directly or indirectly to the public sector. Therefore, even if the damage to public sector infrastructure is not large in absolute numbers, it is important to understand that the resulting impact of any damage to government infrastructure on the Sister Islands economy will still be very significant.

While thereare no official estimates of the actual damage in the Sister Islands as yet, it is obvious that even if the financial damage ranged from the 15 to 20 million, as recently quoted by one government official, that this would amount to between 30 and 40% of the Sister Islands GDP. If that does not qualify as an economic disaster, then nothing else will.

For the purposes of an insurance facility aimed at dealing with economic risks, the Sister Islands should be treated differently to one of the other districts due to a number of implications owing to their unique geographical location.

The Cayman Islands suffers from a unique disparity between its official GDP and the “local reality” as far as the actual measurement of the domestic economy is concerned. Figures from the international business sector (offshore financial services) are included in the measure of what constitutes the country’s GDP. This figure is then divided by the total resident population to get the GDP per capita, which is the traditional proxy measure of the standard of living used by most countries and bodies like the World Bank and IMF. The Cayman Islands has one of the highest GDP per capita anywhere in the world, which now stands at around US$45,000. Because of this the country is often treated as it were better off than it really is in terms of access to resources. It therefore tends to fail to qualify for certain types of assistance as compared to other countries which are more obviously “developing countries”.

But we should not let that traditional issue impact our ability to draw on an insurance facility such as the CCRIF. If the parameters of the insurance policy really do not take into account the unique nature of the Sister Islands as an important and separate economic area of the Cayman Islands, then it would appear that the policy (or our participation in it) is seriously flawed. If this assumption is incorrect then hopefully the relevant authorities will be able to draw on the funds with urgency and the reported statements of the CCRIF, which suggest that assistance to the Sister Islands is unlikely, are incorrect.


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Crash victims airlifted out

| 24/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Both of the men involved in a serious one-vehicle car crash on Saturday have been airlifted to Jamaica for treatment. The two men who are in their 20’s, may have been speeding when the grey Honda Civic in which they were travelling crashed on Eastern Avenue at around 1:50am on Saturday, 24 November, near Uncle Bills.

Police said the 911 Emergency Communications centre received a call from a member of the public reporting that a car had crashed into a CUC pole on Eastern Avenue. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) and medics responded to the scene and the men had to be cut free from the vehicle by Fire and Rescue officers.

Neither of the two men were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash and witnesses have told police that the car may have been speeding before it crashed.

Officers from the Traffic Management Unit are currently investigating the crash and would like to hear from anyone who saw the crash or the vehicle prior to the crash. Anyone who can help should contact Chief Inspector Courtney Myles on 946-6254 or 926-0649. Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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New Brac hotel on track

| 24/11/2008 | 1 Comment

Despite the recent passing of Hurricane Paloma, the West Inn Hotel on Cayman Brac, which is currently under construction on the southwest of the island on the banks of Salt Water Pond, is on track for completion in February. Owner Cleveland Dilbert told CNS that the storm had set construction back by approximately one month.

The shingles on the roof, which workers had finished putting up Thursday 6 November, were all blown off by Paloma two days later. However, aside from this, with a solid poured concrete building and a little luck, the only other damage was a couple of windows, Dilbert said. (Left: view from WIH 2nd floor)

News is not so good at the Brac Reef Beach Resort (BRBR), where the storm levelled the lobby area, office, boutique and work-out room, and caused major damage to the upper floor guest rooms, with one room totally destroyed, according to Hotel Manager Trudy Viers. Currently the hotel is being assessed for damage, but meanwhile 18 staff members, some of whom had lost their homes, were working on cleaning up and in the kitchen, and they had a crew from Grand Cayman working on repairs to the rooms left standing she said. (Left: the remains of the lobby)

Viers said the kitchen was half functioning, although it had considerable roof damage. A gas stove and a ”phenomenal” kitchen staff enabled the hotel to produce three meals a day for police and customs officers and workers at the hotel. “We’re having some of the best after-hurricane meals you could have,” she said. (Right: Manager’s office)

The BRBR has been the only functioning hotel on Cayman Brac since September 2006, when the Divi Tiara Beach Hotel suddenly closed – though the timeshare units have been open to those timeshare owners who have refused Divi’s offer to transfer their ownership elsewhere. There are now plans to use the hotel rooms in the two most eastern blocks to house the workers of McAlpine Construction, who will be on island for reconstruction work, CNS has learned.

(Left: Divi Hotel – block on right is one of two slated to become accomodation for workers, though the hotel has been closed for over two years. Below: West Inn Hotel eastern view)



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Early life clues from amoeba

| 24/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(New Scientist): Fossil tracks on the seabed could be the handiwork of oversized amoebas that roamed the ocean 1.8 billion years ago, if their modern counterpart is anything to go by. While exploring the Bahamas,  a scientist has discovered a new species of giant amoeba called Gromia sphaerica. As the grape-sized protozoan rolls along the ocean floor, it sucks up and spits out sediment, leaving behind long grooves and ridges. Go to article.

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Funds managers cut fees

| 24/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): Hedge funds hard hit by the global financial crisis are becoming more open to offering lower fees to institutional investors amid diminishing returns and assets under management, investment consultant Watson Wyatt has said. In the first 10 months of the year hedge fund losses have reached 15.48 percent, according to Hedge Fund Research. In October investors pulled $40 billion (27 billion pounds) outof hedge funds with further outflows expected during the rest of the year. Go to article.

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Tree auction brings in cash for research centre

| 24/11/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): According to organizers this year’s Festival of Trees, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s (CCMI) annual fundraiser exceeded projected goals with an estimated US$100,000.00 raised during the the grand finale dinner and auction on Friday night. The event steering committee said the success would not have been possible without the support of the sponsors. (Left CCMI’s Chair Peter Hillenbrand).

These included Vico Testori and the staff at Pappagallo as well as the new partners, Camana Bay, Uncle Bill’s, Celebrations and Abacus restaurant. The new event partners were instrumental in turning the Festival of Trees into a week-long event, which started last Monday at Camana Bay,” the committee added. The first four days of Festival of Trees included a decorating showcase by Celebrations, VIP night by Abacus and two nights open to the public with the support of Camana Bay and Uncle Bill’s.  The decorated trees and wreaths were on display some 1000 people walked through to enjoy them

“Incredibly integral to making this event happen were the dozens of volunteers dedicating hundreds of hours to decorating and collecting donations,” the committee stated in a release. “They all had a great time and were definitely the glitter glue that kept the event together”.

For more information on the Festival of Trees, contact  For more information on the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, visit

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Cayman to host EU talks

| 24/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  The relationship between the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) and the European Union will be under the spot light this week when the Cayman Islands hosts the Seventh Annual OCTA Forum. Trade, environment, capacity building and the 10th European Development Fund programme are all on the agenda.

The Cayman Islands is a Member of the Executive Committee and is the Association’s 2008 Ministerial Chairman hence the meeting will take place on Wednesday 26 November at the Westin Casuarina Hotel through till Friday 28 November. The Leader of Govrnment Business said that there will also be trilateral meetings between the administering entities: the European Commission, Member States UK, Denmark, France and the Netherlands and the OCTs.  Over 20 countries will be represented at these meetings, all meeting logistics being funded in full by the European Commission.

Representatives include Heads of Government of the countries involved and  the Commission’s Directorate General for Development Stefano Manservisi.

All representatives from the OCTs including from the Member States and the European Commission are to be welcomed to the Cayman Islands at the Welcome Reception and Dinner at Pedro St James on Wednesday 26 November.


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Government to fight gender violence

| 24/11/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A report frrom a Special Advisory Committee established to look at addressing violence against women, in the wake of the murder of Estella Scott Roberts will be handed over to the Cayman Islands Government tomorrow. According to the Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts, the report will provide the government with short and long term solutions to strategically address this issue.

Tibbetts said government will receive the report at the official Opening Ceremony of the local ‘16 Days of Activism Campaign’ hosted by the Ministry of Health and Human Services on Tuesday 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, part of an international campaign ‘Say NO to Violence against Women’  initiated by the US based Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.Cayman will be joining many other nations around the world to mark the day which is design to draw attention gender abuse and work toward its elimination.

 The local ‘16 Days of Activism Campaign Against Gender Abuse’ was initiated by the Business and Professional Women’s Club in 1996. “We are affected by being victims ourselves, by being family of victims, friends of victims, co-workers of victims and by the fact that we live in a community where someone close to us is a victim,” said the Women’s Resource Centre who are also heavily involved in the various events.  The local campaign begins on the lawn of the Government Administration Building from 1:00-1:30pm.

The focus of the local campaign is to change community attitudes towards gender abuse by making it unacceptable in any form, to explore ways to help and support the victims and families of gender abuse and working towards getting more effective legislation in place in order to help to eradicate gender abuse in our community.  The report by the special committee is expected to form the basis for any new polices that are needed and Tibbetts said last week that following a review the recommendations, the Government will provide a response to the report, and make the findings public. 

Residents are also asked to sign the on-line petition’s goal is to obtain 1 million or more signatures before 25 November. The petition states:  “As many as one in 3 women and girls may be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.”

Tibbetts said that Global statistics paint a horrifying picture of the social and health consequences of violence against women. “According to UNIFEM, violence is a major cause of death and disability for women aged 15 to 44 years,” he said. “Unfortunately, we know all too well that our beloved Islands are not immune to this kind of violence against women.”

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