Archive for February 13th, 2009

Case of Dengue Confirmed

| 13/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A patient who contracted dengue fever on a visit to Curacao in January has been released from the Cayman Islands Hospital. The Public Health Department insists that there is no evidence of local transmission of dengue in the Cayman Islands and that the person is no longer infectious. Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar confirmed that this is the first case since January 2008 and that it was contracted elsewhere. The patient is fully recovered and is no longer infectious as the virus stays in the blood of patients for only a week after they develop the fever, he said.

“Dengue is not directly transmitted from person to person, but a mosquito biting a person with dengue fever can spread the virus to another person. Hence persons, who develop symptoms within two to three weeks of having returned from countries with dengue cases, are considered imported,” Dr Kumar explained.

While the PHD had to wait two to four weeks for laboratory confirmation, it immediately informed the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) and the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) of the suspected case, and they took measures as if it was a case of dengue fever, a government release says.

Dengue fever is caused by a virus, and the virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. The symptoms of dengue are high fever, severe headache, backache, joint pains, nausea and vomiting, eye pain, and rash. The incubation period (the time that the infection takes to develop before it shows symptoms) is usually four to seven days, but can be up to three weeks.

There is no vaccine or specific medication to treat dengue infection, and people travelling to known dengue endemic countries should take preventative measures such as using a repellent, wearing protective clothing, using air conditioning indoors or only opening screened windows and doors, and staying indoors during early dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

“The only real measure to protect ourselves is to avoid being bitten,” Dr. Kumar said, adding that irrespective of the fact that this confirmed case was imported, all members of the public need to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

“Because we have the Aedes aegyptii mosquito, which is the vector involved in the spread of dengue fever, in the Cayman Islands, we do have potential for transmission if a returning resident or a visitor has the dengue virus – and mild cases may go unnoticed.”

For more information, call the Public Health Department on 244-2648 or 244-2621, or Faith Hospital on 948-2243. For advice on mosquito control measures contact the MRCU on 949-2557 or DEH on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac.

According to PHD, countries in our region who reported having dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever are: Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadaloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.
 

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Microsoft offers $250,000 bounty for worm author

| 13/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Microsoft has put a $250,000 bounty on the head of the writer of the "Conficker/Downadup" worm that has infected millions of PCs worldwide in the past month – though past results suggest it might have limited success. The reward – for information leading to the capture and conviction of the author or authors of the software – follows similar cash incentives offered by Microsoft to catch virus writers since 2003. "The Conficker worm is a criminal attack. People who write this malware have to be held accountable," said George Stathakopoulos, of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group. Go to article

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Bleak forecast for fisheries

| 13/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): The world’s fish stocks will soon suffer major upheaval due to climate change, scientists have warned. Changing ocean temperatures and currents will force thousands of species to migrate polewards, including cod, herring, plaice and prawns. By 2050, US fishermen may see a 50% reduction in Atlantic cod populations. The predictions of "huge changes", published in the journal Fish and Fisheries, were presented at the AAAS annual meeting in Chicago. Marine biologists used computer models to forecast the future of 1,066 commercially important species from across the globe. Go to article

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Opinions and facts

| 13/02/2009 | 4 Comments

(In answer to "Justifiable discrimination"): This is an interesting debate… but there is a lot of arguing here! Arguing usually arises when someone states their opinion as if it were a fact. When I state something which is my opinion, I will try to say “I think…”

Personally, I have never seen God, and I see no evidence that he exists – so my opinion is that God probably does not exist. During the course of my life, however, I have been wrong about many things, even some very simple things, so I have no reason to believe that my opinion on this matter is especially valid or important.

My good friend sees God “in everything” – so she very strongly believes that God exists. I would say she was an intelligent person… so maybe she is right about this too.

One thing is for certain, arguing opinions makes for great debates, but it never changes a fact. God does or does not exist, whatever we may think, and whether we like it or not.

Concepts and categories

Communicating with each other can be difficult sometimes. Our minds and feelings are complicated things. Few of us would claim to be able to say “exactly” how we feel about something, let alone communicate that feeling effectively to another human being.

To help us, humans generally categorize things to help structure language and facilitate communication. We refer to things as “good or evil”, “right or wrong”. However, thesethings are really just concepts and categories. They facilitate communication – they do not actually exist in the real world. There is no “right or wrong” in the world… there are simply lots of “things” in the world, and if we do not approve of these things we tend say they are “wrong”, and if we do approve of them we say they are “right”. This helps other people know our opinion regards these things.

Another way to categories things is on a scale. Rather than imagining the two options of “right” and “wrong”, we can think of a sliding scale, where something is “perfect” at one end, a “grey zone” in the middle, and “evil” at the other end. I think that, for any given fact in the world, it is unlikely that any two people would place it at exactly the same point on that scale, however, I would say that most of us are happy to make a judgment on where the “right” place on that scale should be.

This is tendency in people is why we have things like war, debates, human rights and inequality.

Rapists and abused children

There has been some interesting comparisons below; comparing the seriousness of homosexuality to pedophilia / rape etc. so I would like to comment on this… (though I don’t think it is very relevant to the news article).

“I feel sorry for rapists. Sometimes abused children should be punished.”

I think most people reading the above quote would have to read it twice, and then assume there was some awful typo here. I think few people would be able to reserve judgment on a person who made such a statement. However, this is my own opinion. Let me see if I can win you over to sharing my opinion with an argument which is only based on facts from my own life?

During my life so far, I have discovered that making a cake is generally easier if I have all the ingredients. Making a judgment, however, is different. Sometimes, the more information I have, the more difficult it becomes to make a judgment. Sometimes, it is easiest to make a judgment when I have no experience and no information. It is easy to judge from a position of ignorance.

What if I told you that the rapist who I feel sorry for brutally raped a young lady, repeatedly? (I doubt many people will share my opinion based on this information). He was caught, and the news devastated his family and friends, and sent shock-waves through a quiet community.

(I think most of us would agree that, though we feel sorry for the innocent victim and family members, it was probably best that he was caught, and he should be punished… I think probably people would vary widely in what they would think a suitable punishment for the rapist would be…)

The rapist was a young boy… still a school. He had been brutally abused by his father, since he was an infant.

Maybe now you can understand my opinion. Maybe even share it? Did you alter your initial judgment, once you understood the facts of the individual case? How “bad”, exactly, is this person? Should he be treated as an individual or simply categorized as “evil” and “rapist”?

What do you do when the abuser and the abused are the same person? How “bad” is someone who inherits a devastating legacy?

Sadly, this case is not unusual. I understand that a very significant proportion of abusers were once abused. One thing is for certain, arguing opinions makes for great debates, but it never changes a fact.

Killers

When I think about it, I know quite a lot of killers and victims.

I know a murderer who is incarcerated and dedicating himself to stopping youths from making the mistakes he made.

I have a friend whose father led a double life, with a second wife… then, when his sister discovered the truth, his father murdered his sister.

Now I think about it, I know several people involved in fatal car accidents… fatal to others, not to themselves

Maybe you think I am a policeman, or I work for a social group, or I am a prison visitor or volunteer? I am not. There is no aspect of my personal or professional life that is relevant here, what-so-ever… so I guess it must just mean that, if I stop and think about it, there is a lot of pain in the world.

Homosexuals

I think that, rather like rapists and abused children, killers and victims, old people and young people, black people and white people, people who are good at baking cakes and people who always seem to burn the edges and leave the middle bit runny, “homosexuals” and “heterosexuals” are just two more ways of categorizing people.

Personally, I am a heterosexual… but I would like to hope that these is something more to me as a human being than having sex with women.

I think that, if someone thinks that the “heterosexual” category defines me as a human being, that that would tell me more about that individual than it would tell me about myself.

Life

Someone below has described life as “ a vale of tears”. Rapists and abused children, killers and victims, homosexuals and heterosexuals have all played a part in my life.

This is a fact.

I think that for some of these people, life is probably tougher than I could ever imagine. Nonetheless, I love my life, and these people have all contributed to that life in some way. I intend to make the most of my life, and do my best not to judge anyone based on a category.

The more people I can make room for in my life, the fuller and richer my life will be.

 

CNS note: This Viewpoint was submitted as a comment in the ongoing debate on Gordon Barlow’s VP "Justifiable discrimination". However, we felt it stood as a commentary in itself.

 

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Cayman used for tax dodging

| 13/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(Guardian): A hoard of banking files from the Cayman Islands, described as one of the most secretive British tax havens, are being supplied to the US authorities by a whistleblower who claims they detail worldwide tax avoidance. Alastair Darling was yesterday challenged in the Commons over allegations that UK banks have been using the Caymans for massive tax avoidance schemes. Go to article.

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Dubai’s economy in free fall

| 13/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): Sofia, a 34-year-old Frenchwoman, moved here a year ago to take a job in advertising, so confident about Dubai’s fast-growing economy that she bought an apartment for almost $300,000 with a 15-year mortgage. Now, like many of the foreign workers who make up 90 percent of the population here, she has been laid off and faces the prospect of being forced to leave this Persian Gulf city — or worse. “I’m really scared of what could happen, because I bought property here,” said Sofia. “If I can’t pay it off, I was told I could end up in debtors’ prison.” Go to article

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Crime – Part Two

| 13/02/2009 | 0 Comments

In 1997, on instructions from the FCO, our governor invited the Cayman Islands public to determine what changes it would like to see happen by the year 2008.

The governor appointed a Planning Team to identify 16 topics of importance, and to set broad terms of reference for 16 committees. The committees were open to any and all volunteers – native Caymanians, immigrants and transients alike. Some were regular attendees, others dropped in and out. The committees’ recommendations were decided by consensus, not by majority vote.

It’s a pity there wasn’t a 17th committee on the topic of crime. Maybe crime wasn’t a big issue back in 1997. But it is a big issue today, and there’s no reason why a 17th committee couldn’t be ordered up now.

The Vision-2008 exercise was not wholly free of political manipulation, of course. Many of the Committee Chairmen were political cronies or stooges. I had a front-row view of the shenanigans that changed the Immigration Committee’s report after it had been signed-off. Also, there were spies parachuted into at least one of the other committees for the purpose of derailing recommendations for reform.

I guess concessions had to be made to the politicians of the day, who were naturally wary of this wild venture into genuine democratic free speech. The same things would happen with a Crime Committee. There would certainly be solid resistance from those in our community who benefit from crime, directly or indirectly. I don’t think those peoplecan be defeated by a committee of volunteers; but we have to do what we can.

When it comes to drafting a Crime Committee’s formal terms of reference, our governor might follow the lead of the legendary Greek of 2600 years ago whose surname or nickname was reported to be Draco, which was more or less the Greek word for “dragon”. He was commissioned to give the early mini-state of Athens its first written, public, legal code. Faced with a mixture of unpublished written laws and arbitrarily enforced oral traditions, he decided to write down every single rule in current use. Thus, the citizens and foreign residents of the community got to see exactly what their laws said. There was hell to pay when they realized how harsh and arbitrary some of the secret laws were.

In time, as memories faded, poor Draco was misremembered as the actual creator of the harsh rules, instead of merely their recorder. The word “draconian” came to be applied to harsh laws in general; and that’s how it is used today. In time, too, the hereditary ruling class allowed some of the harsh laws to be abandoned, and the unfair punishments to be eased. The easing gradually morphed into what came to be called “democracy” – the power of the whole citizenry to decide, by voting, what its laws should be.

This is much the same situation we have in Cayman now. Our population is rather more than Athens’s was in Draco’s day, but the composition was pretty much the same. Serious tensions existed between bloodline natives and foreign residents then, and there, as they exist here and now. Our governor could commission a Crime Committee to codify all our unwritten laws and arbitrarily enforced oral traditions, and to publish the code.

In theory, all our laws are available to be read by citizens and foreign residents. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, right? However, in practice we need to pay professional interpreters to tell us exactly what the laws say. Few of our laws are easily readable by non-lawyers. (That’s why we need Legal Aid for the poor – though I hear it has just been cancelled. So much for our precious “Rule of Law”. What a joke.) In practice, most laws are secret to the general public. Hands up all those who feel confident they know all the rules governing immigration? Huh. I don’t even see Franz’s hand up.

In theory, all our laws are applied equally to citizens and foreign residents. In practice, the protection of the law is largely withheld from our lowest-paid transient workers. Many of our rules are enforced or not enforced at the discretion of government officials. Enforcement or non-enforcement largely depends on access to citizens of influence. That influence can usually be bought, by cash, favour or friendship. Yes, the protection of the law can be bought.

What we have in Cayman is a pre-Draco situation. As a community we have learnt to live with the discretionary application of the law, however distasteful we find it. But if we must buy influence and justice and the protection of the law, at least let’s have a published schedule of fees. Even a “marl road” schedule would be better than the present system. Many countries in the world have word-of-mouth schedules of unofficial fees. We would not be alone.

Our Work Permit system cries out for some formalization, doesn’t it? So does our Planning approval system. It has long been joked that in some government agencies, no file goes missing if it has a $100 bill clipped inside its cover, and a file can be fast-tracked in exchange for a case of whisky at Christmas. But nobody likes to be over-charged, and there needs to be a proper schedule.

How much of their migrant workers’ wages can a dishonest employer withhold before being held to account? How many times must a domestic servant ask for her unpaid wages before being deported for being sassy? I must say I wouldlike to know those things, if I were a domestic servant. It seems only fair.
 

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KPMG sponsors regatta

| 13/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands is to host an international sailing regatta later thismonth, in which six Cayman teams will be battling two teams from Nassau Yacht Club Bahamas and one each representing Manhattan Sailing Club USA, Royal Burnham Yacht Club UK, Montego Bay Yacht Club Jamaica and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. The third KPMG International J/22 Regatta, will take at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club (CISC) from 26 February to 2 March.

According to CISC, J/22s are 22-foot yachts typically with a skipper and three crew members, and are among the most popular racing boats in the Cayman Islands. The Cayman teams have been through a strenuous qualification process and are now confirmed as: Compass Marine, skipper Mike Farrington; CISC Youth Team, skipper Marina Maffessanti; Ciao!, skipper Jane Moon; Radium, skipper Donald McLean; Yahoo, skipper Bruce Johnson; Mayhem, skipper Mark Edmunds.

The racing will be held in the North Sound, approximately five minutes from the CISC clubhouse. The event will be officially opened on the evening of Thursday, 26 February with a reception and Commodore’s Cocktail Party at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club. Practice sessions will be held on Friday, 27 February, and the races themselves – up to 9 – will be spread over the three subsequent afternoons.

KPMG expects to have a big presence at the regatta supporting a Sailing Youth Day for North Side School children while also providing volunteer opportunities for KPMG staff who will help out with many of the evening events.

“We are delighted to support such a prestigious international sporting event for the third year. It is great to be a part of something that gives Cayman as well as the CISC some international exposure,” said Kris Beighton, Partner and Head of KPMG’s Corporate Social Responsibility Programme.

“We are delighted to have KPMG on board again as our title sponsor for this event” commented CISC Commodore Andrew Moon. “The partnership between CISC and KPMG works well and we are able to offer a high quality event with excellent sailing competition and social camaraderie which is enjoyed equally by competitors, officials, spectators and volunteers”.

Other sponsors and suppliers of goods and services to the regatta include Kirk Freeport, Harbour House Marina, Caribbean Marine Services, Tortuga Rums, Flowers Bottled Water, Champion House Catering, Mainstay Sailing, Subway West Shore & Industrial Park, English Bakery,Cost-U-Less, Infocus Photos Ltd, Cayman Islands Sailing Club and the local J/22 boat owners.

The regatta features a number of social events which are open to members and non-members and this year includes an art exhibition “Colours of Cayman” by local artists Avril Ward and Dora Williams. Part proceeds of any art sales will go to CISC sailing programmes.

For further information about the event or the CISC, contact Club Manager, Rick Caley on 947 7913 or at admin@sailing.ky.
 

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Local law firm increases legal team

| 13/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Responding to growth in the firms litigation and fund work Conyers Dill & Pearman (“Conyers”) has added three new associates as attorneys-at-law. Stephen Leontsinis has joined the Litigation team, while Tania Dons and Preetha Pillai have joined the Corporate Department.
Richard Finlay, (left) Managing Partner of Conyers’ Cayman Islands office said it was down to the firm’s superior investment funds and litigation capabilities.

“We continue to expand our team in line with our strategic plans to build on the strengths and capabilities of our Cayman Islands practice. We are proud of our reputation as global leader which attracts such depth of talent and are delighted to have Stephen, Tania and Preetha join us,” he said.

Since its establishment in July 2003, Conyers’ Cayman Islands office has grown into a full service practice with a current complement of 20 lawyers and 60 staff. Last year, the firm opened three new offices in Moscow, Mauritius and São Paulo and today it has over 550 staff in 11 jurisdictions with more than 150 lawyers.

Stephen Leontsinis is a 5 year PQE Litigator specializing particularly in insolvency and company law. He joins from top South African Litigation firm Bell Dewar & Hall. Leontsinis received his LLB from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa in 2002 and was subsequently admitted to the High Court of South Africa in 2003. Since his admission he has been a practicing Advocate and Member of the Johannesburg Bar.

Tania Dons will advise on all areas of corporate and commercial law with emphasis on investment funds. She has also worked as a solicitor at Russell McVeagh in New Zealand and as legal counsel to Fortis Bank in the Cayman Islands. Dons received a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Otago, New Zealand in 1994, and a Master of Laws in 1998 she was also a guest lecturer in law at the University of Otago in 1999 and 2001.

Preetha Pillai spent two years at Conyers’ Singapore office prior to joining the Cayman Islands office and before that she was General Counsel at Singapore Telecommunications Limited. Pillai received her LLM from King’s College London in 1991. She was admitted to the English Bar in 1990, as an Advocate & Solicitor in Singapore in 1993 and as a Solicitor in England & Wales in 2000, she is also registered in Bermuda to practise law.

 

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Shock as Tanzania teachers caned

| 13/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): The teachers union in Tanzania is considering legal action after 19 school teachers were given the cane. The primary teachers were caned by a police officer after an inquiry into poor exam results at three schools. The report blamed teachers for being late or not showing up for work and not teaching the official syllabus. The deputy education minister has condemned the caning but asked the teachers not to take action until the case has been investigated. The union is thinking of taking action against District Commissioner (DC) Albert Mnali, who ordered the caning in the northern region of Bukoba. Go to article

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