Archive for February 27th, 2009

Woman dies from injuries

| 27/02/2009 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Update: Police have now named the 38-year-old woman who was struck by a car while crossing Shamrock Road near Grand Harbour five weeks ago. She was 32-year-old, Carol Romero, who resided in George Town, who has succumbed to her injuries and passed away in Honduras. The driver of the vehicle, a 38-year-old woman, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and is currently on police bail. The victim sustained serious injuries in the collision which occurred at around 7:25 pm on Wednesday, 21 January. She was taken to hospital and later flown off island for treatment.

Officers from the Traffic Management Unit who are investigating the collision are appealing for anyone who witnessed what happened to come forward. Anyone who saw what took place and has not yet spoken to a police officer is asked to contact PC Brian Jameson on 946-6254.

 

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Realtors blast wrong bill

| 27/02/2009 | 12 Comments

(CNS): It seems that the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA) has jumped the gun in its goal to campaign against the promised National Conservation Bill, which has yet to come to the Legislative Assembly in its final form. In the association’s eagerness to shout down the law that aims to protect Cayman’s natural resources it has taken out advertisements in the local press criticising the wrong bill – one that was drafted before and not after consultation.

Moreover, the DoE has also noted that even while the bill has changed and will certainly address some of the brokers concerns, the group has also misunderstood the original draft in the first place particularly their belief that the bill would ruin their industry, which the DoE has stated is seriously misplaced.

CIREBA, which says it looks after the interests of realtors, issued a statement yesterday saying that after communicating with the Ministry responsible for the Environment it has now decided to suspend the planned campaign against the law as it has learned that the campaign was based on the wrong bill.
“Following receipt of this notification by CIREBA, the permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism Environment, Development and Commerce contacted the President of CIREBA and informed him that the current bill, which is going to be proposed, varies substantially from the paper on which CIREBA’s comments were based,” CIREBA stated.

The realtors noted that it would be more appropriate for CIREBA to review the final bill before making any further comment and it agreed to halt the campaign pending receipt of the revised bill. However, the association said that by the time it was contacted by the government the deadline to pull the first advertorial from some of the media had passed, so the ad based on the bill which has since been changed is now running in the local press

The DoE is now concerned that the public will me misinformed, not only because the group has criticised a bill that doesn’t exist but because the criticisms were also misplaced and based on an inaccurate interpretation of the proposed law. In the first part of its campaign the group not only said the bill would destroy their industry but said that the law gives the director of the Department of Environment and the enforcement officers extensive powers exceeding that of elected members of government to prohibit or restrict any development he or she perceives to bedetrimental to the environment.

The current director, Gina Ebanks-Petrie, refuted the claims made by the group over the powers of the office and stated that the new law confers no greater powers on the director or enforcement officers than currently exists under the marine conservation law.

“I categorically refute the claims made by CIREBA that whoever holds my position will have such power. It is simply not the case and a misleading statement,” she said. “The department’s officers will be enforcing the new law when it is enacted in exactly the same way as we have enforced the marine conservation law.”

CIREBA has also called for the revised bill to be placed in the public domain, a call echoed by many of the bill’s supporters who believe the misinformation regarding the bill needs to be addressed, but more importantly, with absolutely no environmental or conservation protection, the National Conservation Bill is long overdue.

Environment Minister Charles Clifford promised Cayman that he would bring forth legislation to protect Cayman’s natural habitat but there is still no sign of the law and only three weeks left before the Legislative Assembly will be dissolved in time for the next General Election. With aspiraitonal rights to environmental protection written into the new proposed Constitution’s Bill of Rights, Cayman will need legislation to honour that commitment before those rights can be realised.

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Toilet roll eco-disaster

| 27/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): The tenderness of the delicate American buttock is causing more environmental devastation than the country’s love of gas-guzzling cars, fast food or McMansions, according to green campaigners. At fault, they say, is the US public’s insistence on extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply products when they use the bathroom. "This is a product that we use for less than three seconds and the ecological consequences of manufacturing it from trees is enormous," said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council.

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RBS loss more than £24bn

| 27/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Royal Bank of Scotland has suffered the biggest loss in British corporate history – more than £24bn – and admitted today the taxpayer could end up owning 95% of the bank if its losses continue to mount. The troubled bank needs to sell up to £19.5bn new B shares to the taxpayer in order to insure £300bn of its most troublesome assets. As a result, the taxpayer’s voting rights over the bank would increase to 75% from almost 70% now. But Stephen Hester, the new chief executive, said the government’s "economic interest" could rise to 95% "depending on how things work out".

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Referee Clinic a Success

| 27/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Twelve beach volleyball enthusiasts, of varying skills and experience, have successfully completed a four-day Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation (CIVF) referee clinic, instructed by renowned international volleyball referee Darryl Friesen (left). The course, held 21-24 February was co-sponsored by the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA); and the CIVF. The clinic was held in preparation for the NORCECA Beach Circuit tournament which kicks off in Grand Cayman 27-29 March.

All 12 newly qualified referees will be volunteers at the three-day competition which will feature 32 men’s and women’s teams, including teams from Cayman.

 

“I am very pleased with the turnout and calibre of the participants,” CIVF President Noel Williams said, “and have complete confidence that they will represent the Cayman Islands at the highest standard during the tournament.”

 

“I was extremely impressed with the outcome of the clinic,” course instructor Darryl Friesen added. “The four day clinic was very intense and every one of the participants has proven themselves to me.”

 

“I have confidence that all the participants, with a little practice, will be well prepared for the tournament.”

L-R (back row) – Fareed Hosein, Michael McLaughlin, Warren Weiss, James George and Darryl Hather, (middle row) – Keith Higgins, Instructor Darryl Friesen and Hemant Balgobin, (front row) – Andrea Williams, Agueda Broderick, Michelle Carter and Kara Donnelly

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Tourism study money on offer

| 27/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Young Caymanians interested in a career in tourism are being given the opportunity to apply for government funding to fulfil their dreams. Applications are now open for the 2009 Ministry of Tourism Scholarship for students who want to study a Bachelor’s Degree in an approved tourism or tourism-related discipline and who demonstrate a need for financial assistance. 

In its thirteenth year, this scholarship programme has already helped many Caymanians and represents an effort on the part of the Ministry of Tourism to increase the number of Caymanians involved in the tourism sector, in particular at senior level positions.  

“It is essential to the future of this country that we encourage and assist young Caymanians as best we can so that they are positioned to become leaders in Cayman’s tourism industry,” said Minister of Tourism, Charles Clifford. ”This scholarship will ensure that any young Caymanian interested in tourism and the industry’s many components, will have the opportunity to become qualified in those areas.”

To be considered for this funding, candidates must possess the right to be Caymanian; must be over 17 years of age; have proof of having resided in the Cayman Islands for five years prior to applying for the scholarship; have proof of acceptance from an approved institution; must be studying a programme in a tourism or tourism related field and be in good health and of good character.

 Criteria checklists and application forms can be found here. The deadline for receipt of all submissions is Friday, 1 May, and shortlisted applicants will also have to undergo an interview with the Scholarship Committee. For further information about the Ministry of Tourism Scholarship, please contact Racquel Brown at the Department of Tourism at (345) 244 1283 or rbrown@caymanislands.ky

 

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Mac calls on government to reveal true debt

| 27/02/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush has accused the government of burdening the Cayman Islands with a record level of public debt, saying that the PPM administration has borrowed more than CI$100 million for each year they have held office. “It means that the national debt represents CI$54,000 for every Caymanian family,” said Bush, who also noted that, since the government has continued to approve annual budgets without audited accounts, the true deficit has not yet been revealed.

"I have publicly called on the government to provide the true state of the government’s financial position to the public,” Bush stated in a national TV and Radio broadcast. “I am aware that there are suppliers within our community that have complained about the government not meeting its obligations to them.  How much is the government now in deficit? This is what the country must know. Tell us the truth. What is the deficit today? And what will the deficit be in June 2009?”

The opposition leader said the current government would struggle to get Cayman through the forthcoming economic crisis because it has not prepared itself for a rainy day. “In financial terms this government has nothing in the coffers. It has spent and wasted the money,” Bush said.

He said the time had come for something to be done to stimulate the local economy, and he suggested offering concessions on import duties and stamp duties, as he believed history has shown that whenever government drops import duties, the net result is more revenue not less. 

“Easing stamp duty has also provided a much-needed boost to real estate and development sectors,” Bush added.

He also said the immigration process needed to be speeded up as access to human resources is the fuel of the local economy. “As a service-based economy, we need people.  I am acutely aware that there are businesses within our financial services sector that are establishing offices in other countries because they can’t recruit the staff they need here.”

He said the country was in need of an economic recovery plan, to see a list of policy changes, fiscal changes, andtheir pros and cons. “We need to analyze the impact on government revenues, and the public needs assurance that this is being properly handled with all the right technical expertise. In the next couple of weeks, election campaigning will be in full swing. Solutions must be found to people’s problems.”

He also criticized government’s handling of the offshore industry and said it had neglected the needs of that sector and the legislation required for it to maintain a competitive edge. “ The past few years has produced a serious log jam of legislation that has been sitting on the shelf,” he said, adding they while Cayman waited on these much needed laws the competition moved ahead of us.

“Only recently has the government started to pay attention to these issues. But has that delay put our competitors in a better position?  How much more in government revenues could we have had if we responded 3 years ago instead of 3 months before the General Election? How many more persons could have been employed instead of losing their jobs by this stage?” he asked.

He also said marketing and promotional support had been lacking especially in the face of continuing international challenges.

Bush said the government had also failed to assist small and medium size businesses, a sector employing more people than any other, and he criticized their tourism strategies. The government had spent millions of tourism dollars — but he asked, where were the tourists?

He said Cayman’s economy has been in decline every year since 2005. “Growth slowed to 4.6% in 2006, then 1.9% in 2007, and it is projected to decline even further to 1.2% in 2008. Before feeling the full impact of the impending global recession, our government has allowed our economy to shrink, year after year,” Bush added.

“In finding a way torebuild our country we must therefore seriously question the effectiveness of the government’s policies over the past 3 and a half years.  It is impossible for local businesses to perform in an environment where the policies have created a stagnant economy."

He said it was obvious that the government has no idea what to do as they were busy engaged in a PR campaign, taking pictures at every little function while the people suffer.

“In the coming weeks, we will be exploring the way forward in assisting those that are currently unemployed or that will be unemployed in the future. We will look at how they pay their bills and meet their monthly expenses, and find a way to assist them. We will make plans to help those who cannot pay their mortgages and that are losing their homes. We will examine what can be done for those who are losing their small businesses and set up programmes that will assist them.”

He said that under his leadership the UDP would get the economy back on track.

“I did it before and will do it again — an economic situation where unemployment is nil, people have money and people’s businesses have more security,” Bush declared.

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Water Authority grants permit for Dolphin poop

| 27/02/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Despite the controversy and what local environmental activists claim will put the surrounding reefs at risk, the Water Authority has issued a variation to the marine discharge permit held by the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm to include the effluent discharge from Dolphin Discovery Cayman Ltd. In a statement issued yesterday afternoon the Water Authority said that back in October 2008 it had granted a discharge permit to the Turtle Farm with the restriction that only effluent from the turtle breeding pond and the commercial turtle tanks could be discharged into the ocean, but it said it had now added the dolphin facility.

“Inthe course of the last 2 months both the Turtle Farm and Dolphin Discovery provided further specific details on their operations to satisfy the conditions of the Water Authority to grant the variation of the original permit to include the discharge from the dolphin lagoon,” the authority stated.

It said the permit does includes specific conditions to monitor water quality and flows and the information obtained from this monitoring programme is essential to determine effective interventions to reduce the impact of the waste discharge on the marine environment. “The Water Authority appreciates the high level of commitment of the Turtle Farm to reduce their environmental impacts; this will result in a win-win situation, not only for the Turtle Farm and the Water Authority, but for the Cayman Islands as a whole, because our precious marine environment will improve as a result of this permit,” said Dr. Gelia Frederick-van Genderen.

The permit includes specific targets for the combined operation of the Turtle Farm, Boatswain’s Beach and Dolphin Discovery Cayman Ltd to reduce the waste discharge into the marine environment by 50%. The Turtle Farm has already worked closely with Dr. Thomas Goreau, a world renowned specialist in protection of coral reefs, and with Henning Gatz of Aquacare Environment Inc. to identify specific treatment processes to aggressively address the waste issues at the facility.

While the Turtle Farm has made significant efforts to clean the effluent it discharges in the ocean over recent months, Dolphin Discovery recently told CNS that it has no filtering systems in place and that because of the large quantity of water going through the facility and with only four dolphins, the discharge would be negligible.

At this stage, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Turtle Farm and Boatswain’s Beach Joseph Ebanks has not said if the effluent from the dolphinarium will impact the work of Dr Goreau to regenerate the reefs around the areas which have been damaged over the last four decades by the farm. However he did say that the farm was a unique world class  facility. “Our marine environment is such an essential ingredient of our Caymanian tradition that we owe it to our past, current and future generations to protect that marine environment and we are fully committed to do so.”

Local Activist Billy Adam told CNS that it was a disgrace that the dolphinarium had been allowed to operate for this long without the official permit and said this was yet anothe example of the lawlessness of government. "Three minsiters and departments have allowed these facilities to break the law without any consequence," he said.  "This lawlessness is syetematic the Dolphinarium is still functionaing without an operating licence and no one is doing anything. This is yet another example of the disregard our government , the Governor and the FCO has for the rule of law."

Adams said he was disappointed as he had expected better of the PPM government.

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Afghan Christians worship in secret

| 27/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(Christian Science Monitor): The worshippers close their eyes, bow heads, hold hands, and speak their hopes and prayers out loud. "I praise God for reconciling between my father-in-law and his stepdaughters…. Prayer works!" rejoices one. "I pray for … the sanctity of marriage," says another. "I give thanks for not being hit in the explosion today, and for suicide bombers staying away," a third intones, the sound of a chopper almost drowning him out. "Amen," they sing, a group of men and women in neat camouflage fatigues, pistols strapped on their legs and chests and Bibles open in their hands.

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Prehumans walked like us

| 27/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): Footprints uncovered in Kenya show that as early as 1.5 million years ago an ancestral species, almost certainly Homo erectus, had already evolved the feet and walking gait of modern humans. An international team of scientists, in a report on Friday in the journal Science, said the well-defined prints in an eroding bluff east of Lake Turkana “provided the oldest evidence of an essentially modern humanlike foot anatomy.” They said the find also added to evidence that painted a picture of Homo erectus as the prehumans who took long evolutionary strides — figuratively and, now it seems, also literally.

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