Archive for April 21st, 2010

BA returns to the skies as UK lifts air traffic ban

| 21/04/2010 | 4 Comments

(CNS): British Airways has begun re-operating its Nassau/Cayman shuttle today, signalling a resumption of service following the closure of UK airspace on 15 April after Iceland’s EyjafjallajoKul volcano erupted, spewing a cloud of ash across Europe. Wednesday’s flight from London, Heathrow will bring in passengers bound for Nassau and the Cayman Islands and return 189 passengers from both islands to London, British Airways has said. Three flights to London from Nassau and Cayman were cancelled after the closure of the UK airspace grounded flights from all airlines.

Most of the passengers in Cayman have been re-booked either to travel directly from the islands to London or via the USA, while some have opted to stay longer. Meanwhile, BA said, it has begun the process of rebuilding global operations and expects to run flights to all long-haul destinations today from Heathrow and Gatwick.  Short-haul services resumed after 1:00 pm GMT, today.
According to reports from the British media today, the transport secretary, Andrew Adonis, denied that the UK government had decided to reopen the skies to air travel under pressure from airlines. "They have obviously wanted to be able to fly their planes — of course they have — but that has not been the issue at stake here," he told the BBC.
But British Airways appeared to have initiated a showdown by announcing on Tuesday it had more than 20 long-haul planes in the air and wanted to land them in London. Despitebeing told that British air space was firmly shut, radar tracking sites showed several BA planes circling in holding patterns over England late Tuesday night, before the surprise announcement that the air space over Britain was being reopened.
"I don’t believe it was necessary to impose a blanket ban on all UK airspace last Thursday," BA chief executive Willie Walsh told AP. "My personal belief is that we could have safely continued operating for a period of time."
In Berlin, Giovanni Bisignani, the head of the International Air Transport Association, called the economic fallout from the six-day travel shutdown "devastating" and urged European governments to examine ways to compensate airlines for lost revenues, as the US government did following the 11 September 2001 terror attacks.
Airlines lost $400 million each day during the first three days of grounding, Bisignani told a news conference Wednesday. At one stage, 29 percent of global aviation and 1.2 million passengers a day were affected by the airspace closure ordered by European governments, who feared the risk that volcanic ash could pose to airplanes.
"For an industry that lost $9.4 billion last year and was forecast to lose a further $2.8 billion in 2010, this crisis is devastating," Bisignani said. "Governments should help carriersrecover the cost of this disruption."

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DoA told to release dolphin standards

| 21/04/2010 | 9 Comments

(CNS): The Information Commissioner has ordered the Department of Agriculture (DOA) to release a copy of the “Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquarium Standards and Guidelines” to a member of the public who made an FOI request and was refused. Despite claims by the DOA that the document was confidential Jennifer Dilbert said there was no evidence that it had been provided to DoA in confidence. She pointed out that as the document had been referenced as informing public policy it should be accessible by the general public. The document in question had formed the basis of the DoA’s standards for the management and treatment of the dolphins kept at the islands’ two captive facilities.

Dilbert said the DoA had used the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquarium (AMMPA) Standards and Guidelines to create its “Conditions Governing the Importation, Housing, Husbandry and use of Bottlenose Dolphins in the Cayman Islands” so it had to be made public.
In the wake of a death of a baby dolphin at one of the dolphinariums in West Bay, the plight of these captive marine creatures once again hit the news headlines. However, CNS understands this request was made a considerable time before the first baby dolphin had been born and died in captivity. The concern of the member of the public was that the if the standards by which these dolphins were being managed was known only to members of the AMMPA as neither of the dolphinariums in the Cayman Islands is a member of the association how would they know what the standards are.
Both facilities that have the captive dolphins have gone on the record as stating that their facilities are managed to the highest standards in the world and cited these AMMPA guidelines and this is further emphasised by the guidelines being referenced by the agriculture department. But as this document remains secret it is impossible for anyone in Cayman to check whether this is indeed the case and or even how the owners of the non-member facilities could know with any certainty what these standards were.
Dilbert confirms in her ruling that neither Dolphin Cove nor Dolphin Discovery are members of the AMMPA but that yet the DoA still advises in its policy document about dolphins that the guidelines form the basis for local policy. “…persons interested in importing bottlenose dolphins for public display in the Cayman Islands [are] required to satisfy certain conditions prior to [being] granted an import permit”. These conditions state that “the guidelines referred to in this document are the Standards and Guidelines (2003) document of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA)”.
Despite using the document to create local policy the DoA said it accessed the guidelines from the AMMPA on the basis that it kept the document secret and in particular from those organisations in Cayman that were objecting to the establishment of dolphinariums.
The IC said she found that the information is a set of standards and guidelines, the purpose for which is to help ensure best practice in the care and maintenance of marine mammals and it was unreasonable that it would be confidential.
 “I would not expect that a reasonable person would regard the document as confidential. The supplier has indicated that its usual practice is to keep the document confidential, but similar bodies do make their equivalent documents publicly available. The recipient has not treated the document as confidential,” Dilbert said in her ruling.
She also added that it was difficult to see how a document can be meant to “enhance and compliment…government standards for the care and maintenance of marine mammals” and at the same time be considered confidential.
Ordering the release of the document within t45 days of her ruling the DoA now has until 3 June to reveal these standards and guidelines to the public.
This was Dilbert’s third decision made under the Freedom of Information Law (2007). The Information Commissioner is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Freedom of Information Law by over eighty public authorities. That law gives the public the right to request records in the custody or control of a public authority, and requires that authority to provide the record within 30 days, unless one of the limited exceptions to disclosure applies. Individuals who are dissatisfied with the response of the public authority to their request may file an appeal with the Information Commissioner.

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Government launches campaign for community count

| 21/04/2010 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Work is now underway to begin the official launch of the Population and Housing Census of the Cayman Islands campaign which will start on 10 October. Between now and then however, government is hoping to educate the community on need for its wide participation. The publicity campaigns will officially begin in Cayman Brac tomorrow and next week on Grand Cayman. An accurate assessment of the numbers and lives of the people across the three islands will help form future government policy and strategies to meet the changing need of the community. It is more than ten years since a full national census was carried out in the Cayman Islands.

The Economics and Statistics Office, in cooperation with the multi-sectoral Census Advisory Committee, its sub-committees and the office of the Sister Islands’ District Commissioner, is organizing the official launching of the Census in Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman. Both events will mark the start of the education and publicity campaign on the importance of the Census in planning a better future for Cayman, and in getting everyone to be counted to make it a successful national activity.
To underscore the importance of the Census 2010, the launch will feature census messages from high-level government officials including Governor Duncan Taylor, Premier McKeeva Bush and Deputy Premier, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson.
A number of spokespersons from various sectors of the community will also be involved in promoting the big community count such as National Hero Sybil McLaughlin, 2010 YCLA winner Collin Anglin and Miss Teen Jamesette Anglin. A video presentation introducing the Census, its various processes, participants, benefits and use in broad terms will also be presented at the launch events on both Grand Cayman and Cayamn Brac.
The launching is scheduled in Cayman Brac on Thursday, April l 22, 2010 at 10:00 am at the District Administration Building Grounds. The Master of Ceremonies will be Deputy Commissioner Mark Tibbetts. While be Radio Cayman talk show host, Sterling Dwayne Ebanks will play MC for the Grand Cayman launch on Thursday 29 April at the Mary Miller Hall. 
Potential Census workers will have the opportunity to sign-up at both launch events and the general public is invited to attend.

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Mass job cuts being made in UK public sector

| 21/04/2010 | 1 Comment

(Times-online): More than 225,000 public sector jobs cuts are quietly being forced through by councils, the NHS and police forces, despite Gordon Brown’s pledge to protect frontline services.  The losses, disclosed in a wide-ranging analysis by The Sunday Times, include tens of thousands of nurses and midwives, social workers, teachers and police officers. Management and administrative workers will face the biggest cuts. The cutbacks are already being implemented. Deeper cuts are expected to emerge after the general election, whichever party takes power. A quarter of England’s police forces have warned that they will have to lose officers and staff to meet a £150m funding shortfall.

 

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Former TCI leaders hit out over bankclosure

| 21/04/2010 | 3 Comments

(CNS): The two former leaders of the beleaguered Turks and Caicos Islands have both issued statements criticising theclosure of the TCI Bank Ltd. Galmo Williams, the Leader of the Progressive National Party, who was deposed when British rule was imposed said that he was concerned that insufficient effort was made to save the bank. While his predecessor Michael Misick said the closure was another move by the UK and its installed dictator Gordon Wetherall to dismantle the institutions created to advance the country towards nationhood and to place control of the islands’ economy in the hands of a few white elite British expats. TCI Bank was ordered to close on Friday 9 April.

The two former premiers’ statements were posted on the Overseas Territories review website and both condemn the move by the governor. Williams said many Turks & Caicos Islanders had invested their hard earned money in the capital of the bank and it had become a household name and a vital financial institution in the development of these islands.
The former leader said that aside from being concerned that nothing was done to save the institution every effort seemed to have been made to roll back all the strides made by the people of TCI in recent years. “It is evident that on a daily basis the quality of life that our citizens once enjoyed is being increasingly eroded,” he said. “This has become clearly evident since the British Interim Government under Governor Wetherell and Mark Capes have taken over the administrative affairs of our country. No one can deny the blatant disregard for the plight of our people and the pungent atmosphere of fear which now permeates.”
He said he believed the people presiding over the islands do not care about the people or if their money was safe, if they had enough to eat or if they could send their children to school.
“If Governor Wetherell and his team meant the people of this country well, they would allow for inward investment to flourish thereby helping investors rather than being a hindrance; they would promote confidence in our country by letting the international community know that the Turks & Caicos Islands is open for business rather than weaving a web of red tape around any idea put forward for investment,” Williams said.
Misick said he believed that some people had been notified in advance of the bank’s closure enabling them to move millions of dollars out of the bank  “helping its demise while average men and women are left to suffer..” and when as little as $3million could have saved the institution. “A decision should have been made in the interest of the thousands of customers and the good name of the country for National Insurance to place deposits with TCI bank to prevent its collapse,” he added. “Under my leadership or a PNP administration we would never have allowed TCI Bank to fail and have thousands of working people lose their life savings.”

He called on Wetherall to bail out TCI bank to protect the reputation of the Turks and Caicos and prevent thousands of people from losing there life savings. “If the British care one ounce about the Turks and Caicos people this is the least they can do,” the former leader said. “If this is not done this will confirm my suspicion that this too is part of a wider British conspiracy to stop at nothing in their efforts to stop the progress of our beautiful Islands and implement their colonial agenda of keeping us poor while making sure the few British elite reap the benefits of our country.”

Misick also stated that it was ironic that the same week ‘The People’s Bank’ closed, permission was granted to a Cayman based bank to operate a new branch.

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Swiss government faces pressure to cut work permits

| 21/04/2010 | 0 Comments

(Swissinfo): Pressure is mounting on the Swiss government to revise work permit quotas that triggered an outcry among big businesses in the country like Google. Faced with rising unemployment under the financial crisis the government decided in December to halve the number of annual short-term residence and work permits accorded for non-European Union nationals to 3,500. The permits, typically valid for less than 12 months, are commonly used by international firms bringing in highly skilled staff for special projects.

 

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Brac to Little Cayman Sea Swim

| 21/04/2010 | 28 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Sister Islands sports news(CNS): A group of seven swimmers crossed the 5-mile stretch of ocean between Cayman Brac and Little Cayman last Sunday, the first time someone has made the crossing between the Sister Islands under their own steam for 23 years. The group left the western point of Cayman Brac at 7:20 am on Sunday 18 April and reached Point of Sand on Little Cayman three hours and 20 minutes later at 10:40 am in the first Sister Islands Sea Swim (SISS). The swim was organised by two young Cayman Brac men, Felix Ebanks, aged 19 (right) and Matthew McKinley, aged 20 (left), who were joined by five swimmers from Grand Cayman, all of whom who took part in the 800 metre Cayman Brac Sea Swim the day before.

Justly proud of their accomplishment, Ebanks and McKinley said they have trained since March 2009 – at least 400 metres each day on weekdays in the mornings, 800 metres on weekends and 4 miles once a month, along with personal daily workout routines. “The sea swim was fairly easy. We did have one problem though, we didn’t see the sharks many other Brackers promised we’d see!” Ebanks joked.

Cayman Islands News, Sister Islands Sports NewsKate Alexander, Joy Yeatman , Alex Harling, Andrea Roach and Bill McFarland joined the two Brackers for the marathon swim. They were accompanied by two safety boats, including the Department of Environment vessel captained by Marine Officer Robert Walton. The boats were stocked with supplies of Gatorade and water for the swimmers, who stopped only three times for breaks along the way. (Photo by Tishel Watler; Ebanks and McKinley reach Point of Sand, LC)

The first recorded swim between the islands was completed by Jeff Miller, who finished in a time of 2 hours, 36 minutes on 2 May 1987. “I think it is absolutely spectacular that they’d take up that challenge and conquer it. What a fantastic accomplishment for them and I am really pleased to hear that there are those around still that find that type of challenge appealing enough to try,” Miller said.

The first Sister Islands Sea Swim was sponsored by the DoE, MLA Moses Kirkconnell, PoPo Jeb’s Pizza and Little Cayman Beach Resort. Ebanks and McKinley hope to make SISS an annual event and will be looking for more participants and more sponsors next year. (Photo below by Tishel Watler: Ebanks and McKinley still have energy after the swim)

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Sports News

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MLAs amazed re SPIT jobs

| 21/04/2010 | 34 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline news, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service(CNS):  The move by the police commissioner to re-employ officers associated with the discredited operations of the UK’s special police investigation team (SPIT) has amazed a number of the islands’ political representatives. One Member of the Legislative Assembly said it was utter madness and another said that it was unwise at best to re-introduce people associated with Operation Tempura. The independent representative for North Side, Ezzard Miller, said he had serious concerns about the impact on the RCIPS and said someone needed to intervene and buy out the contracts of those already given jobs. (Left: Martin Bridger the former SIO of SPIT).

On behalf of the opposition, Alden McLaughlin said it was an unnecessary move. The PPM MLA for George Town said, without commenting on the individuals that have been named so far, that recruiting people associated with what he described as a “disaster” would likely taint any future investigations and operations even before they began. “It is terribly unwise to have recruited individuals connected to that investigation,” McLaughlin added
Miller went even further in his condemnation and said he was “really disappointed” as he believed the new commissioner had been turning a corner over public perceptions of the police with the recent arrests and charges on violent crime.
“I just can’t fathom or comprehend why he would hire officers involved in that fiasco,” he said, referring to SPIT. “I can’t believe that in all of fair England our commissioner could not find two ex-police officers not connected to Operation Tempura, Martin Bridger or even the Metropolitan Police that have equal qualifications and experience,” he said.
The independent representative said he believed it had done untold damage to the newly repaired public perception of policing. Moreover, the MLA said he had already received countless representations from local officers who were seriously demoralised and would now be scared of their own shadow given the situation.
Miller said he may well bring a motion to the LA asking that government or the powers that be address the situation in the interest of the country and the Caymanians serving in the RCIPS and intervene by buying out the contracts of the officers involved.
Speaking at a press briefing last week, Premier McKeeva Bush said he did not believe the two officers given new contracts were directly involved in Operation Tempura but had been brought in to deal with the Cealt investigations.
However, both Richard Oliver, who is believed to have been appointed as head of the police’s own anti-corruption unit, and Dennis Walkington, who has also been given a full time RCIPS contract in the same unit, worked on the failed Operation Tempura cases against both Lyndon Martin over ‘Netnewsgate’ and Rudy Dixon, who were both found not guilty.
The premier noted that the elected arm of government could not interfere with police recruitment. “We were not involved,” he said. “The commissioner of police is the person in charge of this. We have no say in the matter of who he hires.”

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