Archive for December 1st, 2009

Mac makes history as Jack packs his bags

| 01/12/2009 | 14 Comments

(CNS): The first ever Cabinet meeting chaired by an elected politician took place on Tuesday, 1 December, as the governor prepared to leave the Cayman Islands. As a result of changes in procedure heralded by the implementation of the Cayman Islands Constitution 2009, Premier McKeeva Bush took charge of this week’s Cabinet meeting and made history.  Humbled to have made history, the premier said that with the increase in power for elected officials under the new constitution (which he did not vote for) came more responsibility for the politicians as well. Bush took the chair in the absence of Governor Stuart Jack who has now left his post and leaves the island Wednesday afternoon.

“Given the many outstanding politicians who have led our country since the introduction of constitutional government, I am honoured and humbled to have made history in this fashion,” Bush said following the meeting. “The new Constitution allows Caymanians to assume a more visible leadership role at the country’s helm, even as it encourages us to assume greater accountability for our actions. This can only be a positive thing for us as a people.”

Richard Parchment, Senior Political Assistant to Premier Bush, explained, "In this historic moment, the governor was still on Island but not able to chair Cabinet, and since the governor was in presence on the Island the deputy governor could not technically be appointed the ‘governor’. This therefore created the window whereby this occasion took place."

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Lobster catchers told to watch out for lionfish

| 01/12/2009 | 9 Comments

(CNS): The window of opportunity to enjoy some of the ocean’s tastiest bounty opened on Tuesday with the start of the lobster season, which lasts until February 2010. The Department of Environment (DoE) said that during the open season, the catch limit for lobster is three lobsters per person or six per boat per day, whichever is less. Lobsters caught must have a minimum tail length of six inches and only spiny lobster (P. argus) may be taken. Lobsters may not be taken from any marine protected area at any time. The DoE is also warning lobster hunters to watch out for lionfish lurking in the holes where lobsters may hide.

Furthermore, the DoE stated that no one may use a spear-gun, including Hawaiian slings, polespear, harpoons, hooksticks or any other device with a pointed end to impale, stab or pierce any marine life, but does not however include a striker, without a licence from the Marine Conservation Board.

It is also a violation of the Marine Conservation Law for persons to take any marine life alive or dead while on SCUBA, to wear gloves while diving or snorkelling in Cayman waters, and to fish with gill nets, poison or other noxious substances.

Violation of this and any of the Marine Conservation Laws is an offence carrying a maximum penalty of CI$500,000 fine and one year in jail. Upon conviction, forfeiture of the vessel or other equipment may also be ordered.

The DoE advised people to be alert for lionfish in lobster holes. “These invasive species have venomous spines that can cause painful wounds when touched. If stung, individuals should seek medical attention immediately,” the DoE said.

People may contact the DoE at 916 4271 (Grand Cayman), 926 0136 (Cayman Brac), or 926 2342 (Little Cayman) or call 911 to report violations of any marine conservation legislation. For the location of marine protected areas, rules and regulations please visit the Department’s website at www.doe.ky or reference the Island Pages in the Cayman Islands Yellow Pages.

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Tax haven toll bridge under the hammer

| 01/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(Oxford Mail): The Swinford toll bridge is expected to fetch up to £1.25m when it goes under the hammer next month. The privately-owned structure near Eynsham, which was built in 1767, will be auctioned by property consultants Allsop at the Park Lane Hotel, London, on December 3. It previously went on sale in May after its owner died, but a buyer could not be found. Potential bidders are being attracted by the bridge’s unique selling point – it enjoys tax-free status thanks to a legal loophole.

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CI$50,000 reward offered

| 01/12/2009 | 33 Comments

(CNS): Following gunshots aimed at a police car early Saturday morning, 28 November, that injured a special constable, Cayman Crime Stoppers, in partnership with the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, is offering up to CI $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person, or persons, involved or that leads to the recovery of the firearm(s) used. Eric Bush, Chairman of Cayman Crime Stoppers and Stuart Bostock, President of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce have condemned the incident and called for anyone with information to come forward.

Gunshots fired at a police Chevrolet Lumina, which was part of a police convoy on "Hot Spot" patrol, at around 3:15am Saturday and sources have told CNS that they may have been aimed at the inspector who normally drives the car. Police say that a number of police vehicles were travelling in a convoy along Shedden Road in the direction of central George Town. As the vehicles reached the junction of Dr Roy’s Drive, a number of what is believed to be gunshots were heard and the rear windscreen of a police vehicle was smashed.

“This particular act was so brazen and so calculated that it proves that we are facing criminal elements that are reaching an unprecedented level. We must work collectively as a community to send a message to the criminals responsible for this act that we will not tolerate this form of violence. I would like to thank all members of the business community who have contributed to the reward fund. If any other business wishes to contribute please contact the Chamber office,” said Bostock.

Bush appealed to the community to speak out against these acts and to speak up if they have information that could help the police. “The community and the police need your help now. While we ask the police to put their lives on the line every day, everyone must realize that the police are only as good as the community that supports them. It is your turn to help!”

Anyone with information can call the Cayman Crime Stoppers tip line at 800 8477. You can also submit tips online through the programme’s secure interface at www.crimestoppers.ky. You will not be asked to reveal your identify or submit any personal details.

Cayman Crime Stoppers was formed in 1993 by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce to provide a vital service, which helps protect the community from crime. Working in close partnership with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS), the community and the media, it has become one of the most effective crime solving tools available to local law enforcement agencies. Cayman Crime Stoppers provides a safe and secure means for anybody with information about a crime to share it freely whilst protecting their identity.

Cayman Crime Stoppers is a non-profit civilian run organization and is also a recognized regional member of Crime Stoppers International. The board is community based consisting of civilian leaders within the Cayman Islands and one law enforcement coordinator who assists with the dissemination of information received by the Cayman Crime Stoppers anonymous call-center operated in Miami, Florida.

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More talk in the absence of action on environment

| 01/12/2009 | 18 Comments

(CNS): As the Cayman Islands continues to wait on any kind of legislation to protect its environment, the third National Climate Change Workshop & presentation of a draft Climate Change Issues Paper will take place in Cayman on Thursday at the Marriott Beach Resort. According to government, the two-day workshop’s main aim is to discuss a national climate change adaptation strategy and action plan for the Cayman Islands as well as a public education and outreach programme.

This discussion, however, will take place against the absence of any environmental legislation to protect the islands’ fragile and vulnerable environment. The National Conservation Bill, which was drawn up under the last administration, was never brought to the Legislative Assembly, reportedly as a result of internal opposition to its content in the last Cabinet. Charles Clifford, the former minister for the environment, has consistently stated that the failure to enact the bill is a major regret.

During the election campaign the UDP promised action on the environment and said they would introduce legislation, though it is clear that they will not pass the bill as currently proposed and there has been no indication from the current environment minister what his intentions are regarding legislation.

In an interview earlier this year, Director of the Department of Environment Gina Ebanks Petrie told CNS that time was literally running out Cayman’s environment. “Without a comprehensive legal platform from which to address the growing range of environmental issues, there is nothing we can do to address these concerns,” Ebanks-Petrie lamented at the time. Since then nothing has changed, despite the fact that protecting the environment and its bio-diversity is directly linked to issues of climate change.

The DoE director said that, while there has been considerable talk in recent times about sustainable development and there are aspirational rights within the new constitution regarding environmental protection, without legislation these goals cannot be achieved.

“Sustainable development means giving equal weight to environmental issues as well as the social and economic issues that are considered before developments are undertaken,” Ebanks-Petrie added. “If we are not going to close off this opportunity to make a commitment to sustainability, we need this law. We really are close to the edge and time is running out to defer the management of our environment,” she said.

Premier McKeeva Bush, Minister of the Environment Mark Scotland and members from the Enhancing Capacity for Adaptation to Climate Change (ECACC) project for the Caribbean UK Overseas Territories will be opening this week’s workshop at 8:30 on Thursday morning.  The workshop comes just before the international climate change summit in Copenhagen on 7 December. And despite more climate change sceptic mania in the last few days, news on Tuesday morning from scientists working in Antarctica warned the continent is going to start warming up in the next few decades leading to sea level rises of over 1 mete.

The experts said that, while the hole in the Earth’s ozone layer had protected the icy content from the worst effects of global warming until now, scientists warn that as the hole closes up in the next few decades, temperatures on the continent could rise by around 3C on average, with melting ice contributing to a global sea-level increases of up to 1.4m. The western Antarctic Peninsula has seen rapid ice loss as the world has warmed, but other parts of the continent have paradoxically been cooling, with a 10% increase in ice in the seas around the region in recent decades. While sceptics have used the Antarctic cooling as evidence against global warming, the British Antarctic Survey said scientists are now "very confident" that the anomaly had caused by the ozone hole above Antarctica. "We knew that, when we took away this blanket of ozone, we would have more ultra-violet radiation. But we didn’t realise the extent to which it would change the atmospheric circulation of the Antarctic," they stated.

Sea level rises is one of the major threats to island nations such as the Cayman Islands, where an increase of the proportions predicted could see most of the country submerged beneath the ocean in a matter of decades.

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Newspaper boss faces further turmoil

| 01/12/2009 | 12 Comments

(CNS): Since the widely publicised eviction from the offices at Alissta Towers, Cayman Net News has faced increasing financial difficulties as reports mount of staff not being paid and obligations under the Employment Law not being met by the proprietor, Desmond Seales. Police were reportedly called to the premises in the Mirco Centre, where Net News is operating from, on Monday morning to deal with an altercation. According to sources inside the paper, the incident related to a dispute between Seales and staff who were demanding to be paid.

Following his court appearance concerning a former debt onFriday morning, Seales reportedly faced an ultimatum from some of his staff, who wrote a collective letter asking their boss to make good on outstanding salaries or they would ‘down tools’. Following the failure of Seales to pay up on all the money he owes, the staff left and returned on Monday to collect their possessions. Reports suggest, however, that Seales had attempted to bar their entry and called the police.

It is understood that Seales not only owes current staff but a number of former employees have also told CNS that they are owed salary payments. Despite a number of complaints made to the Department of Employment Relations and allegations that Seales has also failed to pay all his obligations concerning pensions, health insurance and work permit fees, the DER has reportedly taken no formal action against the paper, which is still available on-line and in limited circulation on the island.

The paper’s former landlord filed a writ in the Grand Court claiming over $50,000 in unpaid rent, which he said had been presented on 12 bad cheques issued by Cayman Net News and its sister company MCM consultants. However, Alissta Towers, the plaintiff, was reportedly never paid and evicted the newspaper in mid-October. At that time Seales was reportedly allowed to retrieve the company’s possessions and departed to rooms at Treasure Island. A week later the paper re-emerged at the Mirco Centre in new offices. CNS understands that Alissta Towers has still nor been paid the outstanding debt and there are a number of other creditors awaiting payment.

Nevertheless, Seales has remained determined to continue with the operation and has vowed that Net News would continue, despite being hit badly, he has claimed, by the recession.

No stranger to controversy, Seales has said on a number of occasions that the landlord’s actions against him at Alisstta Towers were politically motivated. Seales has also been at the centre of a number of major incidents in the last few years, starting with the Clifford Enquiry when Seales committed the cardinal  sin of journalists in 2007 of giving up a source to the authorities.

Following that, Seales was also at the centre of the Special Police Investigation and was accused of being in a corrupt relationship with Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis and later of publishing a series of letters condemning the local judiciary — letters with false names as authors that Justice Priya Levers was accused of writing but which during a tribunal appeared to have been written in house.

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Officials urge testing as HIV still poses threat

| 01/12/2009 | 19 Comments

(CNS): As the international community marks another World Aids Day, the Cayman Islands still has one of the lowest infection rates in the Caribbean region, which, despite its recent decline in growth, has one of the highest rates of infection in the world. The latest UNAIDS figures released Tuesday show HIV prevalence is especially high among young women. The CIG is urging everyone to get tested because, while HIV rates may be relatively low in Cayman, statistics for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among young people are said to be particularly high — an indicator of risky sexual behaviour.

This year the theme for World Aids Day is "Universal Access and Human Rights", and the Cayman Islands will be promoting the need to get tested as well as the need to support those who live with the disease. “Since 1988 the face and response to AIDS has greatly changed. While many of these changes are positive, this anniversary offers us an opportunity to highlight how much more still needs to be done,” said STI/AIDS Programme Coordinator Pauline Ffrench.

Public health officials are urging people to take responsibility for their own health by getting tested regularly. “Knowing your HIV-status plays a key role in lowering the incidence of the disease,” added Ffrench.

In his World Aids Day message, Health Minister Mark Scotland said that despite its high profile, widely-held misconceptions continue regarding the disease.

“This ignorance, in turn, leads to stigma, fear and intolerance,” he stated. “Stigmatizing HIV/AIDS sufferers can prevent them from accessing the care they need. They can also miss out on vital support from family and friends, just because they fear making their situations known. Also, stigma can lead to people avoiding getting tested — and if you don’t know your status, you might not protect others as you should, or seek the care you need.”

He added that the community must fight stigma and discrimination as hard as it fights the actual disease but raised his concern about the impact of negative forces made it slow process.

He urged the community to do two things.

“Respect those who have the disease and protect yourself and others by getting tested regularly and by practicing safe sex. Having HIV/AIDS doesn’t mean you have done ‘something wrong’ and nobody ‘deserves’ to have it for any reason,” he said. “Let’s join together and challenge these stereotypes and divisive beliefs; let’s foster a caring and protective environment for all.”

World AIDS Day began in 1988 when health ministers from around the world met and agreed on the concept of the day as an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of fighting AIDS, as well as showing true solidarity for the cause. 

This year the Health Services Authority is offering Free HIV screening Monday, 30 – Friday, 4 December, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at all district health centres in Grand Cayman including the George Town General Practice Clinic and Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac. Persons in Little Cayman may call the clinic at 948 0072 to make arrangements for these tests. People who want to be tested and/or counselled need to indicate to the registration clerks that they would like to register for free HIV/AIDS screening. Results take three working days, and it will be given to the patient only, who must return to clinic where the test was taken to receive the results.

There will also be a Candle Light Vigil on Tuesday, 1 December, 6 p.m. at the Emslie Memorial Church in George Town. The walk will begin from the Cayman Islands Hospital to the church. Contact Margaret Michaud (Cayman AIDS Foundation) at 924-7877 for more details.

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Black holes are cosmic factories for building galaxies

| 01/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(Telegraph): The new research may help explain why large galaxies tend to have super-massive black holes at their cores. Astronomers have long wanted an answer to the chicken-and-egg question of what comes first, a super-massive black hole or the stars surrounding it. A new observation of a far away object five billion light years from Earth may now help to solve the riddle. The object is a quasar, a powerful source of energy believed to mark the location of an active giant black hole. Nothing that gets close enough to a black hole can escape its powerful gravity. However, material swirling around the edge of a black hole can radiate enormous amounts of energy.

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Emirates airline may be put up as debt collateral

| 01/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Dubai’s flagship airline, Emirates, has emerged as a potential pawn in the city state’s scramble for financial stability. One of the world’s fastest growing carriers, the scale of Emirates’s ambition is underlined by its status as the biggest customer for the A380 super-jumbo and its lavish sponsorships of leading European football clubs including Arsenal and Paris St Germain. But financial experts believe the airline’s future could be determined by Dubai’s sister emirate, Abu Dhabi, which could demand ownership of the company for bailing out its neighbour if the troubles at Dubai World worsen. Emirates is owned by the Investment Corporation of Dubai, which is in turn controlled by the Dubai government.

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Skunk users face greater risk of psychosis

| 01/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Skunk, the powerful form of cannabis dominating the street drug market, is seven times more likely to cause psychosis than ordinary cannabis, scientists say. Dr Marta Di Forti and Prof Robin Murray, who are among the authors of today’s paper published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, say skunk is now the same price as ordinary cannabis on the streets of south London, where the study was carried out, and is now the one that is easiest for young people to obtain. The researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry in London analysed the cannabis consumption of 280 people who were admitted with a first episode of psychosis to the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and compared them with 174 healthy people from the area.

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