Archive for June 11th, 2009

Nevis to harness alternative energy

| 11/06/2009 | 8 Comments

(Trinidad & Tobago Express): The tiny island of Nevis, at just 93 square miles, has taken a giant leap in generating electrical power, setting the stage for a shift in the energy paradigm for its OECS neighbours. On April 27, the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) signed a contract with West Indies Power (Nevis) Ltd (WIP) to establish a geothermal power plant. At a ceremony in the capital city Charlestown, hundreds of residents witnessed the Nevis Electricity Company Ltd sign a power purchase agreement with WIP. The first phase of the project will see a 10MW single flash plant that will supply all of the electrical needs of Nevis, an island that depends heavily on tourism, hence a reliable electricity supply.

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Holiday is also nationalpreparedness day

| 11/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Queen’s Birthday is not only a time for celebrating the receipients of the latest royal gongs but Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) has named it a day of preparedness for the 2009 hurricane season. On Monday 14 June the National Day of Preparedness residents are urged to update their family plan and restock their first aid kits and supplies of non-perishable food. Deputy Director of Preparedness, Omar Afflick  said if you get ready now you reap the benefits later in the season.

“No battling traffic, no long lines at the stores, less tension and more peace of mind!” he said as he urged people to think seriously about their seasonal preparations. Statistically September is the peak month of the hurricane season, but early and late season storms sometimes form in the western Caribbean.

When this occurs, as was the case with Hurricane Paloma, the lead time for preparation can be quite short. “Don’t get caught out,” cautioned Afflick. “Set aside enough food and water for 5 to 7 days. If you have a generator try to get it serviced and check your shutters, sometimes rust and debris can accumulate in the tracks and this sometimes makes them hard to install.”

Other suggestions include checking on insurance policies to ensure they are current, removing debris from the yard and trimming back trees.

In the lead up to the National Day of Preparedness, members of staff from HCMI have been handing out Hurricane Preparedness Information Kits on the weekends to customers at various local hardware stores. Participating stores include Cox Lumber Company, A.L. Thompson’s, Kirk Home Centre and Uncle Bill’s. Kits are also available at the HMCI Office at Cayman Corporate Centre or on the website



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Museum soon come after almost five years

| 11/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Provided there are no more delays the National Museum is scheduled to re-open to the public later this summer after two years of work and the involvement of more than twenty local and fourteen overseas agencies who came together to rebuild the country’s monument to its heritage. The work was coordinated under US specialist exhibit development company Wilderness Graphics which said an enormous amount of time and energy had been invested to make it all come together.

Marvin Cook, CEO of Wilderness Graphics said the firm had relied on local collaboration with entities such as the Cayman Islands National Archive, the departments of Environment, Tourism, and Lands and Survey, among others to discuss, review, research, and resource the museum’s collection.

 “I have really enjoyed meeting and working with local people and others connected to the project.  It has been wonderful to see the pride and willingness to help in revitalizing their long-absent National Museum and discovering the enormous changes that have occurred in just the past 50 years,” Cook said.

He added that it was exciting to have developed what he said was going to be the finest museum in the Caribbean Basin. Wilderness has also donated cases and equipment to the museum as well as strengthened some important international partnerships including the University of Alberta, Canada, the Florida State Archive and the UK’s Public Records Office which were all key resources. 

Museum Director Doss Solomon said Wilderness had been exceptional helpful during the process of redeveloping over two years what had originally taken 14 years to  achieve.

During the renovation project emphasis has been placed on telling fresh stories and inspiring audiences anew through a more dynamic examination of just how far the islands have come as a country.  “A great deal of time, patience and thoroughness has been dedicated to ensuring that the museum we return to the country will be an accurate interpretation of our history and culture and presented to residents and visitors in a way which encourages them visit us time and time again,” Solomon added. “I encourage everyone on island to become a member of the National Museum.”


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Bermuda takes Guantanamo detainees

| 11/06/2009 | 7 Comments

(Royal Gazette): In the same week that Bermuda was moved from the OECD’s ‘grey list’ tothe ‘white list’ of cooperative countries, it has also emerged that the island has agreed to resettle a number of the Chinese Muslim detainees who had been held at the US Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Premier Dr Ewart Brown made the announcement this morning saying they would be given the opportunity to get Bermudian status. This comes days after the island was reclassified on the post G20 ‘white list’, despite the fact that the OECD was not scheduled to review the list until November.

Guantanamo decision taken "without permission"

OECD moves Bermuda to ‘white list’


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Minister learns priorities

| 11/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Speaking to his new senior staff during his first week in office, the new Minister of Education, Training and Employment Rolston Anglin said in a release from the ministry that he needed an effective team if his ministry’s goals were to be achieved, though he did not state what those goals were.  “Our main focus at this stage is to listen,” said Anglin. “I welcomed the very useful and frank insights shared by our core team and HOD’s as well as the opportunity to ask questions and to share some of my own views and expectations.” 

Following an initial introductory meeting with staff at the ministry, the minister and Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues met with the senior team for a detailed operational briefing.

“If my ministry’s goals are to be achieved, we will need an effective core team and a productive and collaborative working relationship with our various departments and statutory bodies, and these meetings were useful beginnings,” he stated.

Anglin said the areas of education, training and employment have a fundamental impact on the country’s future, so great care should to be taken to ensure that policies, strategies and programmes developed and implemented would not only “lead us through this difficult economic period, but will also address our most pressing needs, both in the short and longer terms.” 

So far, Anglin and Rodrigues have reportedly visited with government school principals and senior staff from the DoES as well as attended the National Educational Leadership Programme (NELP). The release also stated that they had fielded questions and learned about the priorities and perspectives of private school principals at a meeting of the Private School Association, but it did not say what those were.

Anglin said he was looking forward to visiting all of the government schools, the University College and other departments in the near future. “I am particularly keen to speak with not just senior management but all staff, to hear what they believe the priorities and issues are, and I hope that there will be frank discussion and collaboration on the way forward,” he added.  

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Teachers pass through own learning experience

| 11/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): More than 94% of educators employed by the Department of Education Services are currently taking advantage of the various professional development opportunities being offered by the department since the overhall of the education system started under the previous administration.  An unprecedented 51 members of the DoES recently successfully completed the instructional component of the National Educational Leadership Programme (NELP), which the ministry’s new Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues said was all about improving teaching and learning.

NELP, which started in 2003, offers successful participants the professional qualification that is now a requirement for school leadership in the Cayman Islands and a Post Graduate Certificate from the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at the University of London’s Institute of Education. The programme also offers increased accreditation, which can be used to pursue a Masters Degree at the University of London or other accredited educational institution. 

Developed specifically for the Cayman Islands, NELP was previously administered by the Schools’ Inspectorate under the direction of Rodrigues, in her former role as Chief Inspector of Schools. Having been involved from the start, she said it  was an honour to meet the participants and observe some of the training firsthand. “NELP is an initiative that focuses squarely on improving teaching and learning through strong school leadership. This and other such initiatives will continue to have the ministry’s strong support,” she said.

She added that the participants are experienced educators or aspiring leaders from Grand Cayman, as well as Cayman Brac.

“Judging by the level of excitement and enthusiasm that was witnessed during the visit, I anticipate that many of them will use the increased accreditation to pursue Masters Degrees once they have completed this Post Graduate Certificate course.”

Rodrigues further explained that she has requested a proposal to consider how best the ministry might support DoES to take this forward. Dr Karen Edge, PhD, from the Institute of Education in London, who is one of the NELP instructors, said the course wasone of the most innovative MA Leadership collaborations to date.

“This is a unique venture and I am not aware ofany other country that has decided to build their collective educational leadership capacity in such a way. We are thrilled to be working with such an engaged and talented group of leaders and look forward to continuing our collaboration to support the ongoing development of the education system in Cayman,” Dr Edge added.

The NELP programme is just one of the many externally accredited professional development opportunities now available to members of the education service in the Cayman Islands.

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Anglin:Why wait on seats?

| 11/06/2009 | 53 Comments

(CNS): The debate about when and how the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly (LA) grows from its current membership of 15 to 18 seats, as set out in the new Constitution, is about the timeline for implementation of what the people voted for, Deputy Leader of Government Rolston Anglin hassaid. “The people voted to increase the numbers in the LA and everyone agrees we need the extra minister to deal with the government workload, so the question now is simply, why wait?” he said.

Speaking to CNS, Anglin said that it was not unconstitutional to hold a by-election for the extra three members of the Legislative Assembly as it states quite clearly in the document that the LA will be increased, but he said the debate is around the timeline for implementation, which was set out in the draft order attached to the Constitution but not the body of the Constitution itself, which went before the Privy Council yesterday, 10 June, for ratification.

“The government is asking the question because the country needs these extra members and it is simply a matter of agreeing a new timeline,” Anglin said. “The people have voted ‘yes’ for the new Constitution and therefore ‘yes’ to the new members, so why wait for four years when a change in the timeline sent out in the draft order can be agreed with the UK and facilitate a by-election to move forward.”

He said that the results of the referendum show the people want the new members and some are saying they want them quickly, while some have said wait until the next election in 2013.

“We know the people want these changes, so all that matters now is the timeline to implement them,” he added, but acknowledged that during the negotiations with the stakeholders the agreement had been that the changes would wait until the next election. However, Anglin noted that if what was agreed during discussion appears erroneous on reflection, there is no reason why it can’t be changed, but it was a matter for discussion with the UK and not a constitutional problem.

The Constitution itself does not set out the electoral system that should be used in Cayman but allows for change under the passage of legislation in the LA. In other words, Cayman is free to continue using a multi-member first past the post system if it wishes, and therefore three additional MLAs could simply be added to the most populous districts through a recommendation of the Boundary Commission without a major redrawing of the electoral districts.

The most recent electoral register would suggest therefore that two seats would go to George Town, which now has an electorate of over 5,000, making six members, and the third seat would go to Bodden Town, which has more than 3,000 voters.

The question, however, remains on whether a by-election can be called for just the three seats or whether the parliament itself must be prorogued and a full election called for all 18 seats. Speaking on Rooster’s morning show Crosstalk this week, Steve McField, a well known local attorney and constitutional law expert, noted that it would be unconstitutional to call a by-election for the extra seats, not least because the draft order itself does form part of the Constitution, contrary to Anglin’s claim.

McField noted that the Constitution says quite clearly that there cannot be a change to the number of elected members until the Legislative Assembly is next dissolved and another election called.

“Nothing can be done until after the Assembly has been dissolved for another general election,” he said. “There is no place in the Constitution for a by-election for these new seats.”

McField explained that a by-election can only be called to fill an existing seat that becomes vacant and not for new seats, as is the caseregarding the increase of the LA’s size. “If the UDP feels comfortable in their popularity, they can dissolved the Assembly and call an election,” he added.

Calling into the same show, MLA Arden McLean also stated that the only way these seats can be implemented is through a general election and not a by-election. He accused the UDP of spinning the contents of the Constitution and said that it was ironic how they had accused the PPM government of having secret meetings on the Constitution and wondered what kind of secret discussion would go on in England now that the new leader of government business was on his way there.

“I hope that England will not entertain this quest to have that constitutional provision changed to allow these seats to come into place prior to the next dissolution of the Legislative Assembly,” he said. “It is quite ironic that all of a sudden he is going to discuss the Constitution when he accused us of holding secret discussions with England.”

McLean said he was surprised that Bush would go by himself to discuss the Constitution with the UK given his objects to holding any discussions behind closed doors during the negotiations. He said that the new UDP government deserved credit for accepting the wishes of the people in the referendum, but they needed to stop spinning what was in the Constitution for their own advantage and to follow what was voted for.

“The people need to get the Constitution in the way that was presented to them and not in the way the current government would like it to be done,” McLean added.

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Climate change blamed for Caribbean coral deaths

| 11/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): Climate change has contributed to a flattening of the complex, multi-layered architecture of Caribbean coral reefs, compromising their role as a nursery for fish stocks and a buffer against tropical storms, a study shows. The analysis of 500 surveys of 200 reefs, conducted between 1969 and 2008, showed the most complex types of reef had been virtually wiped out across the entire Caribbean. Such reefs — typified by Table Corals of over 1 meter across and huge antler-shaped Staghorn Corals — act as a sanctuary for local fish stocks and a hunting ground for larger, commercially fished species.

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CIFSA Chair calls OECD ‘impotent’

| 11/06/2009 | 21 Comments

(Accountancy Age): The world’s tax watchdog has been branded ‘impotent’ by the chairman of the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association. Speaking exclusively to Accountancy Age, Anthony Travers said criticism from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on the role of the Cayman Islands as a centre for tax evasion is “one of horrible mischaracterisation.” He claims the OECD has ignored some 27 multilateral tax treaties signed by the offshore centre as “they only count treaties in a form they approve.”

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Half of Brac NRF applications being held up

| 11/06/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): While the National Recovery Fund has either completed or is still working on around 50% percent of the homes which were eligible for assistance on Cayman Brac following Hurricane Paloma’s strike last November,  the local charity says that the other half of the applications are being held up by planning, tendering or information-pending issues. However, the NRF said it is pressing on and still hopes to have all 103 applicant’s homes completed before the year end.

Meanwhile, work for the fund on Grand Cayman is drawing to a close with the expiration of the European Union Funding, but it did recently complete one home in collaboration with the Church of God, Full Gospel Hall – Savannah.

Beverly McLaughlin was living in her mother’s one bedroom house with her 4 children in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, but the NRF donated funds so that The Church of God, alongside many generous donators, could build Beverly and her family a spacious home of their own. “There were numerous people and organisations that came together on this project and the NRF is pleased to have played its part in building a house for this delightful family,” said Dr Mark Laskin, Director of the NRF.

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