Archive for April 14th, 2009

Batabano kids to kick off the carnival

| 14/04/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Anyone looking for a break from election fatigue may find the Cayman Carnival Batabano could be just the ticket. Ready to hit the streets with all its colour, splendor, vibrancy and multi-national mixture organizers have announced that this year’s festivities get underway with the Junior Batabano Street Parade and Family Fun Day on Saturday 25 April.

Carnival chair Donna Myrie-Stephen said was pleased that the community has embraced this family style display of Cayman Carnival for the youth of our country. “With the growing number of private and public schools taking part in colourful costumes it really gives the young people a dedicated opportunity to shine during their parade through downtown George Town,” she added.

The event offers young people the chance to enjoy every part of the celebration from creativity and construction of costumes to the display of themes combined in music and dance. At the conclusion of the Junior Parade, the Family Fun Day festivities continue on the lawns of the Glass House.

The parade starts at 3pm from the lawns of the Government Administration Building (Glass House). For more information such as parade routes and a complete calendar of events log on to:


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Teacher to offer tips at books and books

| 14/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Internationally celebrated parental consultant Florence Bernard will be visiting Books & Books in Camana Bay next Monday, for a signing of her book, Better At School: The Essential Guide to Help Kids Improve at School. Having lived and taught all over the world Bernard now resides in the States but she spent seven years in Grand Cayman teaching languages, physical education and drama to grades 2 through 12 at St. Ignatius Catholic School.

Bernard developed her programs through seventeen years of teaching experience worldwide.  She helped a number of families enjoy the positive experience that school should be.  Working closely with parents and children, going back to the basics with them and exploring the source of the problems while focusing on the solutions, she manages to help bring back peace and harmony at home and at school for many. On 20 April Bernard will share her experience and proven training methods with everyone who wants to see the children in their life succeed.

Better At School has been described as the training you didn’t get before you became a parent.  It offers tips to organize, motivate and train your children so that they can show their full potential at school. 

 "I haven’t invented any magical super cure for children’s laziness, lack of motivation or difficulties,” she said. “ I am just applying simple old principles to everyday life, so that students can function within the school system.  As parents, you are not always aware of its intricacies.  This is insider’s info, from someone who has seen many different school systems and has known to make them all work!" 

The presentation is free and open to all members of the public and starts at 7pm


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Police seize 40k in GT busts

| 14/04/2009 | 26 Comments

(CNS): Over the last few weeks officers from George Town police station have seized cash, drugs, lottery tickets and illegal liquor as a result of four separate raids across the capital. Ina series of major police operations almost CI$40,000 has been recovered and several arrests have made. In the most recent operation on Saturday 11 April police said one man and two women were arrested on suspicion of selling lottery tickets at an address in Greenwood Drive wherethe man was also arrested on suspicion of possession of cocaine.

On Thursday, 9 April a man was arrested on suspicion of selling lottery tickets and using a premise as a common gaming house and on Saturday, 4 April an operation conducted at an address in the Shedden Road area of the district resulted in the arrest of three people. Two men and one woman were arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly and offences relating to the illegal sale of liquor.

A large amount of cash and in excess of 1300 bottles of beer and around 50 bottles of liquor were seized. The operations, led by George Town uniformed officers, involved those from the Hot Spot Team and the Uniformed Support Group.

“We often hear from the community concerns around the illegal sale of liquor and lottery tickets,” said Inspector Bennard Ebanks who is second in charge of the district. “And we often find that areas where this kind of activity is going on can be linked to other crimes including firearms related offences and even robberies. We are committed to making George Town as safe as it can be and will continue to target those who insist on breaking the law.”

Inspector Ebanks also thanked the community for their cooperation with fighting crime. “The police cannot tackle crime alone and we are extremely grateful for the support and assistance of the public,” he said.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in George Town should contact the police station 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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Can our Offshore industry survive?

| 14/04/2009 | 0 Comments

Recently, Cayman hosted several visiting journalists, here to report on our Offshore industry ahead of the London meeting of the world’s twenty strongest economic powers.

One topic on the Meeting’s agenda is how to put Offshore centres out of business. Our government’s Public Relations Unit has circulated an advisory to local persons expected to be interviewed – Offshore professionals, politicians, etc. Maybe the political lobbyists among our church leaders – who knows?

The Unit’s basic advice is this. 1) Avoid giving an answer if you possibly can, 2) avoid looking into the camera, 3) don’t punch anybody. My son, a veteran of TV interviews in three languages, tells me that looking to the side of the camera sometimes makes a person look shifty,on the screen. So let’s hope he’s wrong about that. The last thing we need our chaps to do in the present climate is to look shifty.
All international tax-havens are under the gun these days. Cayman is the Number One target, and is particularly vulnerable at this time, for the following two reasons.

The first gentle puffs of the global economic hurricane have frightened our MLAs into tightening up on the issuance of Work Permits, including for tax-haven professionals. The Offshore sector’s morale, already sapped by the retrospective rollover decree, now has to cope with deliberate delays in Work Permit applications, including renewals.

And, the upcoming general election has frightened all the candidates into bringing the customary anti-immigrant rhetoric down from the shelf. (Overseas readers should note that every candidate for MLA – and indeed almost every appointment to a State Board – must have at least one ethnic Caymanian parent. It’s Cayman’s version of apartheid.) The tensions caused by the anti-immigrant sentiments of our ruling ethnic group are a major distraction at the best of times. 70% of our population has no long-term stake in the success of the community they live in.

When any of that 70% are called on to comment on the virtues and competence of Cayman’s regulators or legislators, they are well aware that their companies’ Work Permits are on the line. They dare not tell the truth, if the truth is not compatible with their rulers’ advertised self-image. Practised liars can and will happily express faith in the superior intelligence and morality of the authorities who bully them; but not everybody is a practiced liar. Some people find it difficult to sound convincing, when praising the talents and capabilities of their masters.

We who live in the shadow of the anti-immigrant monster can usually tell when one of us is lying about it. And at least some of our visiting journalists must be experienced enough to sniff out the lies.
Our Government’s advisory is silent on how to deal with that situation. The Public Relations Unit can’t afford to be candid, any more than the rest of us.

Unfortunately, our MLAs are so captive to tribal loyalties that they can’t bring themselves to give an inch in the matter of immigrant participation in government, or to override the traditions of crony-politics and expat-bashing. They hold Cayman’s First World comforts and lifestyle in their sweaty hands, and they are on the verge of spilling them.

(Any concessions would have to last well beyond the G-20 Meeting in London, by the way. For the high-tax nations, this anti-Offshore crusade is a “Long War”. This time, they’re in it for the long haul.)
It’s an open question whether Britain has already decided to pull the plug on Cayman in order to placate its European partners. There will never be any public announcement of it, either way. The FCO doesn’t work like that. In my opinion, the decision probably has been taken to pull out.

If our immigrants and natives were to begin speaking from a common position, the evil day might be postponed; but as things stand, it is probably too late now. Our overseas enemies will discredit us however they can. They have plenty of ammunition. In the battle of images, our position is weak. We are the bad guys. Our image is of a dealer in dirty money, an enabler of billionaires’ scams, and a hiding-place for their billions.

We would not have that image if our political rulers had had foresight and if our business leaders had found the courage to stand up to them. Unfortunately, all we can hope for, it seems, is a message from a state propaganda unit to remember not to look into cameras – and, in effect, not to tell the truth. Ours is surely a lost cause.

Our image is not helped by our politicians’ record for breaking internationalpromises. Sure, the boys are hustling around signing disclosure treaties with all and sundry, and that looks good. But how much faith can they (the all and sundry) have in Cayman’s word, when its government flouts its obligation to respect international human-rights treaties?

On the very same days that our lads are promising on their ancestors’ graves that they oppose money-laundering, they’re fighting tooth and nail to enshrine arbitrary discrimination in a constitutional Bill of Rights. A community that can so readily stoop to laundering human rights is not going to baulk at laundering the proceeds of criminal conduct.

Yes, the two things are linked. Cheating is as cheating does.



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| 14/04/2009 | 54 Comments

(CNS): Gordon Rowell, the former CEO at the Cayman Islands National Insurance Company (CINICO) who was involved in a controversy last year regarding his plans to give the CINICO overseas contract to the struggling Florida based company CareGuide, is returning to the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority to take over Insurance Supervision. Last summer questions were raised regarding due diligence before the CINICO board overturned the plans and Rowell resigned. CIMA said today that in his new post he will be responsible for administering and monitoring the system of supervisory regulation of the insurance industry and managing the Insurance Division’s staff of 18 people.

While the full details of the controversy have never been revealed, it is understood that Rowell asked Florida-based CareGuide to take over the contract to provide overseas medical care to 12,730 CINICO clients after the expiration of the agreement with Ontario-based Canadian Medical Network (CMN). CareGuide had reportedly held the CINICO contract in the past but had lost it, and as the firm was in financial trouble questions arose at the time about what due diligence had been done. The auditor general was asked by the CINICO board to investigate the financial viability of CareGuide and he found the company was in trouble. In his summary, Dan Duguay warned that while he had not conducted an official audit of the firm, “it is clear that recent financial results at CareGuide have weakened the company significantly,” he said.

The board then announced its decision to drop Rowell’s plans to use CareGuide following a meeting at which Rowell also announced his decision to resign from his post as CEO but denied it was related. Despite the evidence that CareGuide was suffering financially at the time, Rowell indicated he still believed the deal offered CINICO better value than CMN.

“We had a publicly traded company that had more connections to Florida, they were offering more services at a third of the cost, with savings of over $1.5 million at absolutely no financial risk to CINICO,” he had said. Speaking to the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee in June last year, Rowell said he was resigning because he hadn’t done the best he could for CINICO and was looking for a more peaceful life.

Rowell will take up his new appointment on 15 April, which will be the second time he has worked at CIMA having started there in 1997 and held the position of Head of Insurance from 1997 to 2003. “I am looking forward to working with my old colleagues and the insurance industry again. I have very much enjoyed the last six years but a part of me has always remained with CIMA and I am strongly motivated by the new challenges,” Rowell said.

Since his departure from CIMA, Rowell has worked with various insurance and mutual fund companies and served first as a consultant with Ernst & Young in Cayman before he served as a consultant with CINICO. He became CEO there in 2006 before his controversial resignation in the summer of 2008.

Aside from his time at CIMA and CINICO, Rowell has also worked with BDC Advisors LLC, a San Francisco company, as a healthcare system consultant to the Turks and Caicos Islands government. In the past, Rowell has also been a technical assistant to the International Monetary Fund, participating in IMF missions in Belize and Vanuatu and assisting in the design of insurance templates used by the IMF for reviewing offshore jurisdictions. He was a member of the Cayman team that dealt with the British government during its review of the British Overseas Dependent Territories by KPMG in 2000, and was a member of the delegation dealing with the FATF to secure Cayman’s removal from the FATF’s Money Laundering Blacklist. He has also spoken extensively on insurance matters at local, regional and international conferences.

Managing Director of CIMA, Cindy Scotland, said Rowell has wide experience in insurance practice and regulation. She said as he has represented both CIMA and the Cayman Islands internationally, and he is well known and respected in regulatory circles as well as in the private sector. “I am pleased to have him back on board,” she added.

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Sister Islands MLA guaranteed a ministry with UDP

| 14/04/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): In a tit-for-tat offer following Minister Alden McLaughlin’s recent invitation for West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin to cross the floor of the House and join the PPM, at a political meeting on Cayman Brac, the UDP invited to several members of the PPM to join their party. Agreeing with Minister Arden McLean’s nickname “Action Man”, O’Connor-Connolly said she hoped he would “get wings” and join the UDP. Later, party leader McKeeva Bush said of PPM member and Sister Islands MLA Moses Kirkconnell, “He’s going to come and join us, too.”

Addressing Brac residents at Scotts Dock, accompanied by all the UDP candidates, Bush also noted UDP plans for social workers who work with the elderly and those with special needs to ensure that they are properly paid. “Just because they are Jamaicans and other nationalities doesn’t mean you can just kick them around and treat them how you want,” he said, adding that the UDP would “do something for social workers besides treating them like dirt”.

Calling herself the “most talented qualified candidate” who had “never stopped campaigning since 1992”, Sister Islands MLA Julianna O’Connor-Connolly said that she was guaranteed a ministry position in a UDP administration – touching on a hot topic on Cayman Brac where many believe that a ministry position for one of their two MLAs should be enshrined in the constitution. West Bay MLA Cline Gliddon went further and said that a UDP government was the only chance that the Brac had to have a member in Cabinet, since the PPM had already decided who their ministers would be.

During her address to Brackers, cut short because she was losing her voice, O’Connor-Connolly said that Minister McLean had wanted to pave the roads on Cayman Brac but claimed that Kurt Tibbetts would not let him because they the Sister Islands does not fall under the ambit of the NationalRoads Authority.

With efforts after Hurricane Paloma likely to be an election issue on the Sister Islands, O’Connor-Connolly also claimed that UDP leader McKeeva Bush had done more for Brackers after Paloma than the current leader of government business, and Bush in turn thanked the Sister Islands MLA, who doesn’t “have a big family name and wealth”, for her efforts after the storm.

Cataloging UDP achievements for the Sister Islands during their administration, Bush asked “How can anyone lay all the praise on poor little Mose who just got elected?”

The UDP, Bush said, had repaired the Creek dock after damage by Hurricane Michelle, built the West End Post Office and upgraded others, purchased a fire truck, upgraded school facilities and gave Paul Scott support for West End Cemetery Pier – more commonly known as Scotts Dock – where the meeting was being held.

The UDP started the Affordable Housing Initiative for the Brac in May 2005 and left $800,000 in the budget to complete it, Bush noted. They started financial assistance for seamen and veterans and the elderly, he said, adding, “I remember the lick I took for that but I had a vision for social development.” O’Connor-Connolly had put in place the Heritage House, jetties, parks and bathroom facilities, he said.

In Little Cayman, their administration had built the school and the police station and the PWD centre. The UDP upgraded the Aston Rutty Civic Centre to withstand a category 5 hurricane, which cost well over $1 million, and had resurfaced the Brac airport runway, he said. They had put in place the Cayman Airways Express service, upgraded the sports facilities, and had put in place the sports officer, who he said was doing an excellent job. The UDP had put in place the cadet programme, and had ensured funds to open and operate the Kirkconnell community Care centre.

Returning to Paloma, he said the UDP had brought a motion for $10 million to be made available to ensure things moved faster and noted that “their own man said things were not going fast enough”, referring to MLA Kirkconnell.

Turning to the future, Bush said that while ARCC was “up to par”, another hurricane shelter was needed and said, “We promise that.” He said the main roads needed resurfacing, a water reservoir was needed on the Bluff, and that there should be after school programmes. The UDP would also provide adequate and affordable jet service, he said, as well as ensure that civil servants had proper coverage and that their pensions were protected

The UDP will support the church programmes that cater to social development, Bush said, claiming, “I’m not perfect – I’m just a sinner saved by grace.”

For tourism, the UDP would assist Foots with his Lost City of Atlantis project, and they would see that the “right type of development comes to these two islands” for sustainable development.

Noting that a successful government must ensure boarders properly protected, Bush went on to blame the current crime wave on the PPM, saying women were scared to move about by themselves. There was no point in developing tourism if you don’t improve safety, he said.

“Don’t let anyone fool you and put the blame on the governor,” said Bush.

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Painter to bring art to local book shop

| 14/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With her work now donning the cover of New Art International, a compendium of contemporary art April Bending will be visiting Books & Books this weekend for an Evening of Art. The book which contains 348 colour plates from 95 individuals including Bending is described as an exhibition-between-covers of contemporary artistic impetus and achievement. During the even Bending will be talking about her career as an artist, signing copies of the book and showing some of her work.

Bending moved to Grand Cayman in 2001 and has worked hard to promote the arts throughout the local community. As well as teaching at the University College of the Cayman Islands, she introduced art classes at Northward Prison and developed courses for troubled teens. Her paintings have achieved international acclaim through a full schedule of exhibitions in the Cayman Islands, the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan. Recently, April’s painting, “Sunset on an Era”, won the cover award for New Art International. The event is free and open to the public and starts at 7pm on Saturday 18 April.



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Conyers blazes Brazilian trail

| 14/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local law firm Conyers Dill & Pearman is opening a new office in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The offshore legal firm said the completion of the official approval, formation and licensing of the partnership by the legal regulatory authority Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil –the Brazilian Bar Association has paved the way for it to be the first offshore firm to have an office in Brazil. “Even in this challenging economic climate, the prospects for leading Brazilian businesses in global commerce are immense,” said Conyers Chairman John Collis.

“The firm’s entry into Brazil and the other major BRIC markets is part of our strategy to provide responsive advice to our clients in the world’s key financial centres and reinforces our strength as a leader in the market for offshore legal services,” he added.

The firm’s São Paulo practice is currently staffed by two partners — Alan Dickson who has relocated from Conyers’ Corporate Department in Bermuda and Benjamin Dyer from the Hong Kong office. Conyers said that the São Paulo practice will initially focus on investment funds, public company listings and holding company incorporations, providing clients with direct access to the key jurisdictions of the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Mauritius.

The São Paulo launch solidifies Conyers’ presence in the fast-growing BRIC markets. In March 2008, the firm became the first and only offshore firm to have an office in Russia with the launch of its Moscow office. In October 2008, Conyers established a presence in Mauritius, a preferred jurisdiction for structuring investments in India, and added the provision of Mauritius legal advice to its roster of jurisdictions to service the Indian, Middle Eastern and African markets

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Minister defends education

| 14/04/2009 | 31 Comments

(CNS): Since the start of the 2009 election campaign, candidates from all sides have been quick to criticise government over the significant investment in new schools — berating the minister for building “ivory towers” while not addressing the fundamentals of teaching and learning. However, Alden McLaughlin, the Minister for Education, says that is exactly what he has been doing. He told CNS that he seriously doubts if any of his critics have even looked at the new Education Law, the National Curriculum or understood any of the historic changes that have been going on in the education system.

“The schools are just a part of this,” he said. “There have been monumental changes in the system over the last three years and we have transformed education. It has not been about superficial or popular changes, this has been about addressing the fundamental problems in education for the future. We aim to improve outcomes and give students in Cayman the best education in the world.”

McLaughlin explained that it all began with the National Conference in September 2005, where stakeholders were able to share their concerns and possible solutions for the future of education. “We started by addressing what was wrong with education,” he said. “From that came the national consensus document and everything has sprung from that.  The changes are bottom up they have come directly from the teachers, educators, the business community and other stakeholders.”

Critics have said teachers need more resources, better pay and better working conditions, and McLaughlin said that these are exactly the things that he and his team have worked on. He said all teachers salaries have increased along with other public sector workers, but he said it was never about pay. He said the poor morale among the profession was far more about the system, how they were valued, the lack of control and their professional development. Today 94% of all teachers are engaged in accredited training or professional development of some kind and have much greater say in the management of schools.

The National Curriculum with its key stages, which came into force this September, gives Cayman a national standard and benchmark for all students for the first time in its history. Children will be taught the same subjects to the same standards across the islands, and parents will understand where their children should be at what age. “The National Curriculum has been developed by a team of dedicated experts who have worked on each of the subject to ensure the best possible learning and outcomes,” he explained, adding that it has taken time to perfect but was an essential part of the transformation of the system.

For years, Cayman’s primary education was a mix of standards and styles with some children learning under a British system, others Caribbean or American. This, McLaughlin said, contributed to the significant problems later on. Students who seemed to be be doing well at primary school suddenly became C or D students at middle school. Without standardization, children were not been pushed to their capabilities in their early education and then were unable to catch up.

“This problem seriously manifested itself at George Hicks; parents were literally afraid to take their children there,” he said, adding that the success in addressing the problems there has now led to people forgetting exactly how bad things once were.

“In the wake of Ivan every school on Grand Cayman was damaged in some way,” he recalled. “George Hicks was operating a shift system and was not able to deliver a full curriculum. At first we utilized the Family Life centre but that wasn’t a perfect solution and it wasn’t until I asked Professor Stephen Heppell to take a look that we eventually came up with a long term strategy,” McLaughlin recalled.

The idea to split George Hicks into schools within a school was Heppell’s,  which tackled the problem of the overwhelming number of students in one place that had been the cause of the discipline issue in the school. Heppell, a leading expert in schools of the future, was a key part of McLaughlin’s team which helped reshape the education management system and the national curriculum. “The changes in education have not been the result of Alden McLaughlin’s genius; they have come from a team of professional experts and educators,” he said.

Another crucial area has been additional educational needs as he said the old system failed these children badly. “When I took office there were mothers literally camped out waiting to see me about it,” he said. “We have doubled the number of resources for additional education and begun to tackle some of the very serious problems.”

 McLaughlin said that in the past children had been going through the system perhaps identified as having some form of special needs but never being assessed during their entire time in school. Now educational needs have taken a priority, with all children being assessed and then their particular needs addressed. “There are many parents who can testify that the situation has improved dramatically,” he said, adding that by addressing the educational needs of children with problems, schools have also been able to address behavioural problems.

He said most of the policy changes in education were already being implemented and that the Education Law underpins the developments that are ongoing. He said children now were in school for an extra year and could choose vocational training during that last compulsory year of learning. He explained that once the new schools were completed and the middle school taken out of the system, the George Hicks site would become a technical and vocational or career learning centre.

“This is not about short term goals. This has been all about better outcomes for the future and obviously it takes a lot more than four years,” he said. “If this costs me the election then so be it, but I think history will be kinder about the judgments and the decisions we made for education,” McLaughlin added.

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The laws of sexual attraction

| 14/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNN): Physical attraction may be as old as time, but new studies are beginning to uncover the science behind sex appeal. Unexpected factors — like biochemical odors, face shape and voice pitch — just might have more to do with your choice of mate than anyone ever expected. Karl Grammer and Elizabeth Oberzaucher are leading the research on the human scent’s influence on sexual attraction. They’ve found that when women are ovulating, they produce copulins, a scent that attracts men. The researchers believe when a man gets a whiff of copulins, his testosterone levels rise. As a result, he secretes androstenone, an odor that repels women who aren’t ovulating.


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