Archive for October 1st, 2009

Runner chooses Cayman flag

| 01/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(Runner’s Web): American miler Jon Rankin has decided to switch his allegiance to the Cayman Islands, his manager reported today. "Jon is eligible to do this because both of his parents were born in the Cayman Islands," wrote his manager, Merhawi Keflezighi, in an e-mail message. "This is something that was under consideration ever since Jon Rankin turned professional, but especially in the last year. We are working closely with the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee and the Cayman Islands Athletic Association to make this a smooth transition." Rankin, 27, who lives in San Diego and ran for UCLA as a collegian, has a 1500m personal best of 3:35.26 set in Stockholm in 2005. He’s also run 3:54.24 for the mile.

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2009 Labour force survey and pilot census

| 01/10/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): The Economics & Statistics Office (ESO) will be conducting the annual Labour Force Survey starting Sunday October 11, 2009, along with the Pilot Census. In the Pilot Census, a draft version of the census questionnaire will be tested among households as part of the preparation for the Census scheduled for October 2010. Trained interviewers will visit a randomly selected sample of households in the three Islands over a four-week period to conduct interviews, a release from ESO says.

The ESO once again appeals to the public for its full cooperation with the interviewers, and to provide the necessary information, which will be collected under the Statistics Law (1996 Revision).

Each interviewer will work under an Oath of Secrecy, and all information collected will be kept strictly confidential. No information is ever entered which would allow anyone to be able to link the data with an individual respondent. All interviewers carry a photo identification which should be worn for easy visibility, and respondents are advised to request identification from any interviewer before sharing information.

The information provided for the LFS will be used for estimating the Islands’ 2009 population and labour force statistics. Information provided to the Pilot Census questionnaire will be used in evaluating the questions and how these could be improved for the actual nation-wide Census in October 2010. The Census is the most important data collection activity in the Islands as it occurs only every ten years, and it is designed to provide the baseline population and socio-economic data requirements for policy and business analysis and planning.

For further information on any aspect of the survey, or results of previous surveys, contact the Economics & Statistics Office, Third floor, Elizabethan Square Building (Phase 3), telephone, 949-0940 or visit the web at The ESO thanks the public for its continued support.


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Labour’s dash for cash

| 01/10/2009 | 4 Comments

(Times Online): Labour plans to halve Britain’s deficit with spending cuts and asset sales worth £75 billion without resorting to further tax rises, The Times has learnt. Senior ministers are demanding that the pay of judges, top civil servants and NHS managers be frozen within weeks as the cuts package begins to bite. The remaining five million public sector workers can expect only minimal rises, union leaders have been warned privately. They had told the Prime Minister that protecting existing jobs was their chief priority. Gordon Brown is looking at “a very big list” of defence procurement orders.

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Cancer jab girl ‘died of tumour’

| 01/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): A girl who was vaccinated against cervical cancer died from a malignant tumour of the chest and not from a reaction to the jab, it has emerged. Natalie Morton, 14, died after being given the injection at the Blue Coat Church of England School in Coventry. Deputy coroner for Coventry Louise Hunt said the vaccine was not thought to have been a contributing factor. A pathologist said her undiagnosed condition was "so severe that death could have arisen at any point". Natalie collapsed less than two hours after being given the Cervarix vaccine on Monday and was pronounced dead at Coventry’s University Hospital.

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UK firm faces bribery charges

| 01/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): UK defence giant BAE Systems faces corruption charges after the Serious Fraud Office said it would ask the Attorney General to prosecute the firm. The SFO has been in negotiations with BAE but the sides could not agree what the firm would admit or the fine due. The case refers to allegations BAE paid bribes to win contracts from several nations in Africa and Eastern Europe. BAE said it was still trying to resolve the case, but would deal with matters in court "if necessary".

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Top cop says fifteen individuals fuelling gun crime

| 01/10/2009 | 85 Comments

(CNS): The new commissioner of police has said that the recent spate of gun crime has been fuelled by tit for tat shootings that are being carried out by around fifteen individuals, who were known to the police and who he says have access to guns. David Baines promised an audience of Chamber members on Wednesday that he and his officers were working very hard to remove these individuals from the streets. He said many of the roadblocks that people complain about were helping to contain the movement of these gang members, but he made no apology for picking up drunk drivers in them as well.

He said that he was also in discussions with the governor and the Attorney General’s Office about changing the law to enable better protection for witnesses and that he wanted to remove the right to jury trials in some instances to prevent possible tampering. Baines said that he understood these people were linked to other unsolved murders and shootings, some of which they had been tried for but had walked away free because of issues over witnesses, juries and evidence

Baines also lamented the fact that there were still no witnesses coming forward from the recent shooting at the Next Level nightclub, where he said 150 people were present but not one person was willing to say what they saw.

Facing criticisms that his officers were only interested in issuing traffic tickets, he said that drivers should not assume roadblocks were about collecting revenue for government coffers, but those road blocks were yielding firearms and drugs as well as controlling the movement of the criminal element and gang members. However, whether someone dies as a result of the acts of a gunman or a drunk driver, that is still one death we should not have, he said, and therefore  officers would prosecute those who came through road blocks under the influence.

“Drinking and driving is almost endemic here and we are not going to ignore it,” he added.

Baines told the audience that, while the community perceived violent crime to be on the increase, in reality assaults were down significantly. The crime that was on the increase was acquisitive burglary, which would be expected in a period of economic downturn. He said that there had been six murders this year, the same as last year, but he admitted, given the population level, it was disproportionally high — higher than most US states.

Touching on improvements he planned for the service, especially in areas of intelligence, he said there was a pressing need to restore the community’s trust in the RCIPS’ ability to handle intelligence and evidence. He said that there were systems failures and overloads in areas such as scenes of crime and other specialisms within the RCIPS, but he also said there was incompetence in the force and that was down to training.

Criticising the structure of the RCIPS, Baines stated that he felt the service was too hierarchical and he intended to spread some of the authority downwards and have police on the ground make more decisions.

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Jones plans return to JGHS

| 01/10/2009 | 17 Comments

(CNS): UPDATED Thursday 2pm — Despite the ongoing dispute with government over the school contracts, Tom Jones International Ltd (TJI) said today that it was preparing to resume on the John Gray High School site, which was shut down last week, as soon as possible. In wake of the loan payment made by government yesterday of around $5.3 million, paying off the bridge loan initiated by TJI at the request of the previous administration, the contractor said that “in a show of good faith and conciliation”, the team was getting ready to resume work in advance of a planned meeting on Monday.

Yesterday, TJI had said its request for a meeting had been met with silence. However, that position changed today when TJI said a meeting was now planned between it and government to address outstanding issues.

Hunter Jones, president of Tom Jones International, said that, as a result, mobilization has now begun to recommence work. “We are committed to building these schools in accordance with our contract and look forward to completing these projects in partnership with government,” Jones added.

With the escalation of the dispute this week it became increasingly apparent that, while the dispute may appear to be about contractual obligations, the heart of the matter is considerably more political.

The current government has pointed the finger directly at the previous administration for each of the issues that it says it has faced since taking officer regarding the two projects.


A number of those close to the project say that TJI has become stuck in the middle of what is really a political dispute between the parties over the schools, which the current administration is determined to ensure cannot be  allowed to come to fruition as a successful project associated with the PPM.

Since taking office, the current administration has berated the previous government over both of the schools projects and frequently referred to them as “extravagant monuments to excess” that have been key contributors to the country’s poor financial situation. However, others have suggested is that there is a fear that down the road the schools, if successfully completed, could become monuments to Alden McLaughlin, the former minister, a state of affairs the current administration will not tolerate.

By continuing to undermine the projects by criticising the mismanagement, the cost, the lack of oversight and most recently the contract signed by the previous government, stating it was fundamentally flawed and biased towards the general contractor, the UDP hopes to ensure the schools will be considered a failure by the PPM, which it will eventually rectify.

In the last few days there had been hints by Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush that the contract was legally questionable and there could even be a criminal enquiry. Accusations that the developer has been anti-Caymanian, despite the fact that Hunter Jones, the General Manager and owner, has insisted that by far the vast majority of the workers on the site throughout have been Caymanians, have also persisted.

The contract has been described by politicians and others a ‘sweetheart deal’ given to TJI by the previous administration. This was disputed yesterday by Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts and by one of the major subcontractors on the project on Rooster’s morning phone-in show, Crosstalk. Allen Roffey, who has workers on both sites and is now in serious difficulty as a result of the government’s non-payment, states that, far from a sweetheart deal, TJI have entered into a deal which favours the owner and not the contractor.

Roffey said the very clause that the minister is now hanging his hat on to avoid payment — the additional 15 days payment time should the contractor be a day late with his invoice — does not appear in standard contracts and has created the possibility that a contractor would need to provide operating finance for the project for up to more than two months.

“It is not true to suggest that (PPM) government didn’t change the contract to its advantage,” he said. “The contract is intended to be a document that is fair to both parties …The government wants a building … the contractor is suppose to provide the skill, resources,  and the knowhow. The government wants the builder to build and all the builder wants from government is to be paid.”

Roffey said it was not fair to expect the contractor to have the money to build the entire project and get paid at the end. He said this contract is about monthly payments. With regard to this contract, Roffey explained that with just one small dispute and the contractors were facing the possibility of needing to double their available operating capital in a matter of days. “To suggest this is overly fair to the contractor is not right,” he added.

He reminded listeners that only McAlpine and TJI bid for these schools and that the Central Tenders Committee analysed the contract and TJI offered the lowest bid. Kurt Tibbetts echoed the sentiments saying that was why TJI won the contracts and that both had gone through the correct channels and processes with the CTC and the legal department.

However, Education Minister Rolston Anglin has stated on a number of occasions in the press that government is not in default regarding the regular payments, despite the fact that the independent quantity surveyor has said the JGHS payment is passed due. Although a frequent topic on the talk show, on which Jones has never appeared, Anglin has accused Jones of airing the issue in the media after taking out an advertisement in the Compass.

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Cayman reaches out to devastated Philippines

| 01/10/2009 | 20 Comments

(CNS): With hundreds dead, many missing and more than 450,000 suddenly homeless in the Philippines following devastating floods caused by Typhoon Ketsana, local Cayman businesses have come together to raise money for the Red Cross Philippines Relief Fund. As the Filipino people look at how to survive the coming months, the country has appealed for foreign aid to deal with the disaster. More than a month’s worth of rain fell on the capital, Manila in just 24 hours flooding 80% of the city, and the homes of nearly 1.9 million people were inundated by flood water over the weekend. (Watch the BBC video Flooded Philippines needs aid)

Businesses in the Cayman Islands will be doing their part, starting on Saturday, 10 October, when a Radio-thon will be held at all major supermarkets across the island and select Tortuga Rum Company locations. The following Sunday, 18 October, a gathering is being planned for the Filipino community to show support and raise funds for the flood victims.

“This disaster has really hit us close to home. So many of our workers are from the Philippines and their families have lost everything,” Jeremy Ebanks, general manager of Tortuga Rum Company in a release. “This is a community wide effort and we encourage all businesses interested in participating to get in touch with our local Red Cross office.”

Companies involved in planning these fundraisers include DMS Broadcasting (HOT 104, CAYROCK, KISS, and X-107), Cayman Islands Red Cross, Foster’s Food Fair, Hurley’s Entertainment (Rooster and Z-99), CITN, Paramount Media (VIBE and SPIN), and the Tortuga Rum Company.

Every radio station in Grand Cayman will be promoting the Radio-thon and participate in live-remotes on the 10th October from 10am to 4pm. Locations will include all Foster’s Food Fair stores, Kirk’s Supermarket, Hurley’s Supermarket and the Tortuga Rum Company in Industrial Park.

To make donations, the Red Cross has set up an account at the Bank of Butterfield: Red Cross Philippines Relief Fund # 02201035054.

Businesses interested in joining this community-wide effort should contact the office of the Cayman Islands Red Cross at 949-6785 ext. 27.


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Guns: protection or peril?

| 01/10/2009 | 6 Comments

(ScienceDaily): In a first-of its-kind study, epidemiologists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that, on average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. The study estimated that people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun. “This study helps resolve the long-standing debate about whether guns are protective or perilous,” notes study author Charles C. Branas, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology. “Will possessing a firearm always safeguard against harm or will it promote a false sense of security?”

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Turtle sticks to British isles on 550-mile journey

| 01/10/2009 | 3 Comments

(Times Online): An anglophile green turtle has made a 550-mile journey through the Caribbean, sticking to territories administered by Britain. Following her progress via a satellite tracking device on her shell, scientists watched with incredulity as she skipped non-British nations on her month-long trip. “This is the first time that turtles from Turks and Caicos have been tracked and we didn’t know where they would go,” said Peter Richardson, of the Marine Conservation Society, one of the groups involved in the project. “We thought she might head to neighbouring countries. We certainly wouldn’t have predicted that she would go from one British Overseas Territory to another.”

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