Archive for March 22nd, 2009

Court staff in ‘losing’ battle

| 22/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Twelve women and one man from the Judicial Administration have made a commitment to a healthier lifestyle and intend to slim down and lose weight. Inspired by the popular US television show the ‘Biggest Loser’, they have signed a pact to lose weight and tip the scales of the justice department, as it were, in a new direction. “I am delighted that staff members are a making conscious effort to improve their overall health. This is a win-win situation for all of us, in our public and personal lives,” said Courts Administrator Delene Cacho, an active participant in the programme.

 “I am hoping this will translate into overall life-style changes that impact positively on work performance and, at a personal level, on individual self-worth. In short, we will be positively endorsing our lives.”

At the start of the programme the 13 participants had a combined total weight of a not insignificant  2,794.7 lbs and they now have until 4 May to make a significant dent in that figure. HR Manager Patricia Muschette explained that the person that records the highest percentage of body weight loss over the period will be declared the biggest loser.

“We are already seeing increasingly healthy and nutritious choices in foods,” Muschette said. “We are more focused, choosing items like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, as well as lean meats. And we are cutting out candy. I am pleased to report that so far the group is showing great commitment to individual goals.”

Participants have recourse to meal and nutrition plans as well as detailed weight charts. In addition to their mutual support system, there is a personal trainer who offers services at reduced costs. The group is weighed weekly by an external recorder, but unlike the TV show there is no public disclosure of results, and therefore participants are not distressed nor pressured.

The overall purpose of this reportedly gentler approach is to encourage the continuance of the healthier lifestyle regimen even after the two-month contest concludes. Organisers want to enable life-altering habits to take root in individuals for their betterment and wellness.

Contestants are vying for an airline ticket to Miami or Jamaica, but the real prize is the weight loss as everyone gains in this losing battle. “If they lose, they win!” added Muschette.  

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Election day remains dry

| 22/03/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Anyone planning an Election Day party will need to make sure they stock up on liquor before polling day as there will be a ban on booze during polling time. According to the election law, there will be no alcohol on sale anywhere on Election Day until the polls close at 7pm in the evening. The Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman said that intoxicating liquor cannot be sold, offered for sale, or given away during and just after poll time.

Sale and use of liquor may resume at 7:00 pm, one hour after the closing of the polls. However, the Board said it may exempt any bar serving an airport and any duty-free shop located at an airport or serving a seaport in respect of sales to outgoing passengers only.

The Cayman Islands is not alone in its election day alcohol ban as a number of countries and several US states also keep election day dry.

For further information, licensees and members of the public may contact Marva Scott at the Liquor Licensing Office at 946-5446 Ext. 5

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Spear guns need licence renewals

| 22/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Marine Conservation Board has said that all provisional spear gun licences will be invalid after 31 March 2009. After the end of this month, all remaining provisional licence holders are expected to have a proper licence complete with photographic ID and anyone in possession of a spear gun while using a provisional licence will be breaking the law. The MCB said that anyone wanting an official full licence should make an appointment with the board.

Applicants who must be over 18 years old are required to provide a completed application form; police record, issued no more than six months previously; a spear gun with all its parts, and proof of a previous licence. If the license is approved, a $50 fee will be applicable.

No one may use a speargun in Cayman waters without a license this also includes Hawaiian sling, polespear, harpoon, hookstick or any device with a pointed end which may be used to impale, stab or pierce any marine life. License holders are still not permitted to use spear guns in any Marine Park, replenishment or environmental zones.

The Marine Conservaition law also prohibits the importation of spear guns or any parts for a spear gun. People using spear guns are limited to three fish per licensed person per day and no one may possess more than six fish that have been caught by a spear gun.

Appointments and licence processing are both scheduled for Thursdays and Fridays between 10am and 4:00pm except on public holidays. For further information, contact: The Marine Conservation Board, Department of Environment, CI Environmental Centre, 580 North Sound Road or call 949-8469.


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Small businesses may struggle with immigration points

| 22/03/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Embarking on a series of public meetings to explain the proposed changes to the immigration system, Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson says it is important that small business take time to score themselves using the proposed guidelines andmake their feelings known to the department during the crucial consultation period. “There are a lot of legitimate questions surrounding how this will impact small businesses and we need them to look at their potential scores in this system to measure the possible impact.”

Although Manderson and his immigration team have met with stakeholders in a number of specific industry sectors. the focus is now with small business owners as there are legitimate concerns that it may be harder for them to achieve the higher tier levels. The problem for smaller businesses is that in order to be allowed to apply for any key employees they must reach level two, which goes well beyond compliance which the law.

“There is a legitimate question here regarding compliance,” said Manderson. “If an employer is in full compliance with the law, why should he not be able to apply for key status, something which is currently available to all employers?”

The proposals at present suggest that all businesses, regardless of the number of employees, will need to be compliant with the system. Evidence of compliance with all the legal requirements expected of an employer, such as health and pension payments, the necessary operating licences, evidence of a viable business and employment contracts will equal 350 points and give the employer tier one status. This will only allow an employer to apply for renewals or new work permits, it will not allow any key employee status applications.

In order to gain that benefit and other benefits, such as fast track applications, employers will need to accumulate points to climb through the tiers. As noted by some business owners present at the meeting, small business are as likely to have just as much need for key employees as the larger companies, if not greater. Losing a crucial member of staff from a company of five or six people will have far more of a negative impact on that business than one employing hundreds of employees. Under this new system, however, it may be very difficult for a small business to reach the 500 points which will be required to get a key employee.

Once compliant with the law, access to greater points comes from a wide range of possible areas, such as the level of a company’s participation in the community and sponsorships, the percentage of Caymanian workers and managers, the promotion of Caymanians, profit sharing schemes for Caymanians, training and scholarship programmes, employment practices such as health and safety and disaster preparedness among many others.

It is apparent that the system could be prejudicial to small businesses that are less likely to have the resources to get them to the top or fourth tier. However, Manderson said it was not impossible as there may be ways of creating a point structure that was beneficial to small business and he said it was important that the small business community offered its contribution and ideas for things which could go some way to preventing a possible imbalance.

Manderson made it clear that the primary focus of the system was to address unscrupulous employers and ensure in the first instance that all businesses are compliant with the law. He said the changes would speed up the process of work permit applicants. “This system will eliminate doubt about employers, for the first time we will know from the evidence supplied that they are compliant with the necessary laws and what they are doing to encourage Caymanian employment,” he added. “It is geared toward holding business owners accountable and rewarding best practices; advancing Caymanians in the workforce; and preventing the work-related abuse of non-Caymanians workers.”

Manderson also said there were still a number of considerations to be made and things were not finalised. He said the consultation period would allow the department to re-examine suggestions and consider changes. He said for example, that the question of whether employers would still need to do a business staffing plan on top of submitting their accreditation was still unanswered and that was something he hoped the consultation period could help finalise.

So far only a small number of small business owners have turned up for the two meetings in George Town and West Bay but Manderson said he was hoping Monday (23 March) evening’s meeting in Bodden Town would see a greater number of people in attendance.

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UFO files released in UK

| 22/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): A boomerang-shaped object seen from an airport control tower and a woman’s encounter with an "alien" are among the secrets revealed in official UFO files. The woman reported seeing a glowing, spherical object rise into the air in Norwich after meeting a man who said he came from a planet similar to Earth. In another sighting, a triangular craft hovered then "shot off at 500mph". The third set of UFO documents to be released by the Ministry of Defence covers the period from 1987 to 1993. In November 1989 a "completely terrified" woman contacted RAF Wattisham in Suffolk to report her close encounter with a man claiming to be an alien.

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Man shot in George Town

| 22/03/2009 | 13 Comments

(CNS): A 48-year-old man is currently in serious but stable condition after receiving gunshot wounds to his chest and left elbow early Sunday morning. The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at approximately 2:10 am on 22 March from a man reporting that he had been shot and that he was behind Punta Latino on Shedden Road. Police and medics responded to the scene and found that the man had received a wound to his chest and arm. He told police that he had been in his house on Linwood Street when he heard voices outside and went to investigate.

The victim said he saw two men dressed in dark clothes and one of them fired at him. He then ran from the area and called 911, and was taken to hospital by medics.

Detectives are appealing for anyone with information about the incident to come forward. Anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious should contact George Town CID on 949-4222 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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Lyndon swaps dock for hustings

| 22/03/2009 | 23 Comments

(CNS): Although Lyndon Martin was supposed to face court on Monday morning for making a false accusation against a police officer, CNS has learned that the case has been delayed until September. However, Martin will be declaring himself asa candidate on Nomination Day for the district of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The former United Democratic Party MLA, who served in the LA between 2000-2005 as the second elected member for the Sister Islands, will be taking his chances alone as an independent candidate this time around.

CNS understands the delay in Martin’s trial is down to the prosecution, which is reportedly still not ready. Martin was arrested 12 months ago on 27 March, 2008 while he was working at Cayman Net News, and charged with 17 counts ranging from burglary to false accusations. Since that time most of the charges have been dropped and Martin now faces only two counts which both relate to accusations he made against Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis surrounding possible leaks to the paper.

While the accusations against Ennis were, according to the Special Police Investigation Team, unfounded, the prosecution must now demonstrate that Martin made the accusations knowing they were false. However, it appears that the former MLA has considerable evidence to demonstrate that he had every reason to believe the accusations he reported to the police commissioner at that time, Stuart Kernohan, were true.

Following Martin’s report to Kernohan, who has since been dismissed from post, he reportedly told Governor Stuart Jack, UK security officer for OTs in the Caribbean Larry Covington and Chief Superintendent John Jones about the concerns Martin had regarding Ennis. At some point following the report Martin, along with his colleague John Evans, a reporter from the same paper who also believed the allegations, tried to find concrete evidence by searching the office of the Editor in Chief, Desmond Seales. Nothing was found, however, and at some point the governor, Kernohan and Covington made a decision to bring in the Metropolitan Police from Scotland Yard.

The Scotland Yard team reportedly arrived in Cayman in September 2007 and worked undercover until that was blown, allegedly as a result of a relationship one of the original officers had with a resident. At that point, Martin was arrested and the UK officers revealed themselves to the Cayman public and suspended Kernohan, Jones and Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon for unrelated offences. The officers also concluded that Ennis was not involved in a corrupt relationship with Seales.

During his suspension, Kernohan left the island because of the death of his father and has  not returned since. With significant concerns about the way the investigation was being conducted, Kernohan did not respond to orders from the governor to return as in law he had no obligation to do so. He was  dismissed, however, and although Kernohan’s legal team has remained in contact with the UK investigation team (SPIT) which is now employed by the Governor (in his role within the Cayman Government), he has not yet been interviewed regarding the case. Jones, who has remained on island suspended on full pay, has been interviewed but has not been dismissed or returned to post.

Evans was never arrested over the Net-Newsgate affair as he was reportedly co-operating with the investigators. However, since leaving the island that situation has changed and Evans, who is now in the UK has become increasingly hostile towards the investigation and the prosecution and has made it clear in the local media that he will not return as a prosecution witness for this trial. Evans has lodged numerous complaints about his treatment and about the investigators toa number of people including the Chief Justice. Believed to be the only prosecution witness for this case, Evans’ refusal to return may be the main reason why Martin’s trial has been delayed.

On Friday evening, James Smith told Finance Committee that issues regarding Operation Tempura were being wrapped up as soon as possible as SIO Martin Bridger was returning to the UK in April. Referring to the Rudolph Dixon case, which he said was the last trial, he said everything would therefore be completed by August. Consequently, either the prosecution intends to drop the case against Martin or no one told Smith about the delay.

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