Archive for May 18th, 2010

Electric cars still stalled

| 18/05/2010 | 58 Comments

(CNS): Although John Felder of Cayman Automotive has a long waiting list of potential customers for his electric cars, there is still no sign of the necessary legislation that will enable these eco-friendly, no-carbon, cost saving, vehicles to use Cayman’s roads legally. The relevant ministry told CNS last month that government is still committed to the legislation but was unable to indicate exactly when the traffic law would be changed. Felder said, however, that he could no longer understand why the law is still being held up and says if government is serious about going green it needs to start with cars.

“It’s time for government to introduce the legislation. If it really wants to go green it has to start with automobiles as they are the number one polluters,” Felder told CNS. “We have been working with government for more than two and a half years but the legislation still seems to be bogged down.”
 
Felder said that it took only six months to get the same kind of electric vehicles licensed in Bermuda and he really hoped government in the Cayman Islands would soon follow through. He said the speed of the Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) was no longer an issue as they would only be licensed to be used on roads with a 35 mph limit and the cars were as safe as any gas guzzling car.
 
The electric cars have numerous benefits, from reducing the islands’ reliance on oil, improving the air we breathe and cutting costs for motorists, to bringing in much needed duty for government coffers, as well as new licence fees. “I have tried to be patient and work with government on this and they have assured me it will be done,” Felder said. “I still live in hope.”
 
Cayman could also hit the world headlines once these cars are licensed here, Felder explained, as everything was in place for Cayman to be the first Caribbean country to introduce full solar panel charge stations. A local company has already committed to establishing the cutting edge and green systems for charging not only their own fleet of cars but those of other owners at the overnight specially designed solar stations.
 
Eventually there will be various speed charging stations at the supermarkets, where people can charge their electric cars as they shop. Felder explained that all of the support systems are in place for charging and servicing but it was all on government now to make it happen.
 
Tristan Hydes, Acting Chief Officer in the Ministry of District Administration, Works & Gender Affairs, told CNS that the ministry was very cognizant of the growing popularity of electric cars as well as the benefit it will have to consumers for saving gas and the "green" effect on the environment.  “As a result, we have undertaken a comprehensive amendment to the Traffic Law and regulations and are striving to have it completed in the near future,” he added.
 
Costing as little as $2 a day to run, Felder said lots of people were really keen to own them but they wanted to be able to use their cars on the roads and not just on private sites as the existing customers such as Camana Bay and Andros Group currently do.
 
“We have people who want to use them around George Town for deliveries among other things. On Cayman Brac and Little Cayman we have clients who want to buy fleets to use as rental cars for visitors,” Felder explained, adding that the NEV fit really well with the promotion of eco-tourism on the Sister Islands.
 
Felder also paid tribute to the late Sonny Rhian, of Little Cayman, who died last year and was the first person to bring a Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) to the Cayman Islands in 2004 but was never able to drive his car on the roads because of the failure of government to enact the legislation necessary. (Picture above: Sonny Rhian’s car with his son, Walter Rhian, on Little Cayman)
 
“I believe government should honour Mr Rhian’s memory when it finally introduces this legislation,” Felder said.

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Dinosaurs

| 18/05/2010 | 10 Comments

I am starting to believe that we are all trapped in a sequel to Jurassic Park in which a species of political dinosaur with the scientific name Tyrant – osuarus buyenoughvotestogetelected emerges and tries to destroy Cayman. I am not sure how such dinosaurs emerged on our Islands. They were certainly not seen when I was a child.

It may be the party political system and the absence of one-man-one-vote elections, but I think that someone needs to check that chauffeur driven blacked out SUV. It seems to work something like Superman’s quick-change telephone booth. An ordinary man gets into the back seat shortly after an election, the door closes and then a political dinosaur emerges when the door re-opens.

Ever since our dinosaur in chief got in that thing he seems to be displaying more and more strange traits. First he seemed to think that there is some secret clause in the Constitution that justifies him having a gaggle of personal servants paid for by the poor tax payers. Next he appeared to believe that he deserves a big wall around his personal property paid for by the poor tax payers. Then there is the travelling around like some oil-rich feudal prince at OUR expense. Now he apparently feels free to attack anyone who questions how much of OUR money he and his cronies are enjoying and also feels free to attack the media that allows people to question the use of OUR money.

To be fair to the SUV, I understand that it may not be the problem. Part of the problem may be due to the videos directed by long dead politicians which dinosaurs like to watch including:

Papa Doc Duvalier’s – I Pillaged My Way

Idi Amin’s – How many opponents’ heads can you fit into a refrigerator

and of course the ‘talking book’ version of the dictator’s bible, Machiavelli’s – How to intimidate enough people for long enough to bleed a country dry.

I also heard a rumour that just after the election some developer placed a bulk purchase order for the Beta-Max version of the North Korean leadership’s favourite, How to empower and enrich yourself while giving an entirely new meaning to the word ‘democracy’. It seems that any politician who is given a copy of this video feels compelled to give away multi-million dollar concessions in exchange for payoffs of one kind or another.

The only way we can rid ourselves of these dinosaurs (short of a comet strike) is to strengthen our Freedom of Information legislation and implementation, and to strengthen the resources and independence of the office of the auditor general, and of course provide for immediate public access to any and all reports of that office. Having a referendum to permanently set the pay of our politicians at no more than twice the pay of the average voter would make our country less hospitable to dinosaurs, as would the imposition of term limits so that no politician would be able to serve more than two terms.

My favourite solution to the current dinosaur infestation,however, is to impose a “hissing and spitting” tax. This would be a kind of VDT (Value Detracted Tax), payable by any dinosaur who engages in rants against the foundations of democracy, payable each and every time they have such a rant. This tax should be sufficient to deter anti-democratic behaviour – something like an actual condo at the most expensive condo-development on the island. If the dinosaur refuses to pay we should send them to prison of course. That way we might have a situation in which politicians help to pay down the country’s debts rather than increasing the country’s debt for their personal benefit.

Of course, it might also mean that they just create a new VID (very important dinosaur) wing at the prison with its own marble privacy wall, as well as a casino and little fringe benefits such as personal chefs, butlers and masseuses.

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Cayman meets new EU hedge fund rules says Bush

| 18/05/2010 | 11 Comments

(CNS): In the wake of news reports that European Union law makers had broadly approved the Alternative Investment Fund Manager Directive (AIFMD), the premier has said that he believes Cayman already meets the requirement in the new rules to continue doing hedge fund business in the EU. The new EU initiative only allows non EU funds to be marketed there if they meet strict new criteria relating to regulatory oversight, anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing, compliance standards and TIEAs. McKeeva Bush said that government has already been watching the development of the directive closely and now plans meetings next month to ensure this is the case.

Although further details of the AIFMD are still to be worked out before it goes to the EU Parliament in July for final approval, the premier said in a statement released on Tuesday that Cayman was seeking clarification with regard to its hedge fund industry and this new directive.
 
"We believe that Cayman, on an objective assessment, meets these criteria. However, we are still seeking clarification on the specifics of the process that they will put in place to assess whether the criteria are met,” Bush said.
 
The European Unionhas said the AIFMD is designed to harmonise regulatory standards for all alternative investment fund managers within its scope and to enhance transparency.
 
Some governments, including the UK and the USA, have opposed the draft directive, arguing that the requirements would be onerous and discriminate against non-European funds. The rules require EU funds to comply with restrictions on bonuses, leverage and investment strategies and a number of other regulations. The directive also places conditions on investments in funds from non-EU jurisdictions.
 
“Under the directive, the marketing of funds from non-EU countries would be allowed if certain criteria are met. As it currently stands, these criteria include equivalence in relation to regulatory oversight, anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing, and compliance standards. They also involve having regulatory and tax information exchange agreements between relevant non-EU and EU authorities, as well as market access for EU based funds,” Bush said.
 
The premier added that since the draft rules were first proposed in April 2009, the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority has been studying them, the responses and counter proposals and considering the possible impacts on the Cayman Islands’ hedge funds industry. “As an extension of that, both CIMA and government representatives have had discussions with various people, including regulators, in the UK and Europe with regard to the proposals,” the premier explained.
 
He said that CIMA’s Managing Director, Cindy Scotland, and her team have been working with Sidley and Austin, recently retained by government as advisors on international relations, to set up meetings between EU representatives and a wider Government-CIMA delegation.
 
“We are targeting those discussions for as early as the first part of June,” Bush said, adding that he would lead the delegation as minister of finance along with CIMA Chairman George McCarthy, Scotland, and the Deputy Managing Director – General Counsel, Langston Sibblies QC. The premier said he would provide more details on the impact of the directive and an update on developments once the meetings had been held.

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Techy world of diving shows off in Cayman

| 18/05/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Dive fans from all over the diving world are converging on Grand Cayman this week as local dive specialists Divetech hosts the world’s largest Closed Circuit Rebreather (CCR) diving event at Cobalt Coast. The seventh anniversary of “Inner Space” at Cobalt Coast Dive Resort will see more than 65 Closed Circuit Rebreather divers partake in this specialist week, diving the deep walls and shallow reefs  of Grand Cayman. All level of CCR divers have journeyed to Cayman, diving at various depths based on their certification limits, from 100 to 330 feet on dives lasting for 3 hours. 

Inner Space attracts many of the “Who’s Who” in the CCR world organizers said as representatives show off their products, new technologies, rebreathers, computer software, accessories, electronics and more, providing insight into the state of the industry on products, design features, decompression models and new updates on what’s coming.  

The technology on display for guests to test out includes most Rebreathers on the market today, plus a few new never before seen products.

A team of three field researchers are also here from DAN, conducting the second CCR technical diver field study. The tests are harmless and non-invasive including TTE (transthoracic echocardiogram or cardiac ultrasound) and Doppler, allowing researchers and divers to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ bubbles in the blood stream and/or heart after dives. This is very valuable research and will assist to further understand decompression models for the future. 

Evening presentations are open to anyone interested, starting at 7pm nightly until Thursday, covering topics of interest to divers. Divetech said the event provided a great opportunity for divers to learn about what’s happening in the world of ‘silent diving’ right here in Grand Cayman at Inner Space. Grand Cayman’s walls and vibrant marine life attracts the top experts in the diving world.

To find out more about Inner Space, contact Divetech at 946-5658 or www.divetech.com/Innerspace.htm 

 

 

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Couple reveals Cayman hospital nightmare

| 18/05/2010 | 19 Comments

(Winona Daily News): Dana Engel doesn’t remember her husband crying at her bedside in the Cayman Islands hospital pleading with God for her life. Randy Engle does remember the nightmare that their Caribbean cruise became after his wife fell ill and the couple was almost bankrupted paying to keep Dana alive. Despite numerous procedures and surgery, doctors in the Cayman Islands failed, he said, to find the kidney stone poisoning her blood which doctors in Florida reportedly took just 30 minutes to find once she was airlifted back to a hospital there.

 

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Supermarket drops discount day

| 18/05/2010 | 53 Comments

(CNS): Shopperswho have become accustomed to getting cut price groceries will be disappointed when they visit Hurley’s supermarket after tomorrow as the store is discontinuing is long standing  10% Off Wednesday Promotion. After eight years Hurley’s management said it could no longer offer the discount as a result of rising operational costs. The cancellation of the long standing promotion by the local grocer will come into effect on Wednesday 26 May. The promotion which provided customers with a 10 percent storewide discount on all groceries every Wednesday began after Hurley’s opened their Grand Harbour store location

Owner Randy Merren said the company was disappointed but “with ever-increasing operational costs” the decision had been made to cut the discount day.
 
“While we are disappointed that this program must end, it lasted for more than eight years,” he pointed out. “Hurley’s is committed to providing our loyal customers with additional ways to save through our Advantage Reward Card Program, which was launched in January of this year. Hurley’s now has several thousand active cards. Each time a customer makes a purchase they earn points that can be redeemed for gifts.”
 
He said the store would  soon be launching a new ‘Eat for $8!’ meal deal and there would still be weekly sale items on the store’s flyer.

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Man shot on own doorstep

| 18/05/2010 | 15 Comments

(CNS): Police said today that officers have launched an investigation into what they say was the attempted murder of a 50-year-old man in the George Town area last night, Monday 17 May.  The man was shot in the shoulder by a gunman dressed in all black who appeared at his doorstep in Cruz Lane at around 11pm, police, who are appealing for witnesses, stated. Although currently at the George Town hospital in a stable condition the injured man is expected to be transported overseas for further medical treatment.

 
Police said that the shooting occurred after the victim had heard a commotion outside his home and when he opened the door of the house he was confronted by two men dressed in black. One of the men was in possession of a firearm and shot the 50-year-old in the shoulder. 
The victim was conveyed to the Cayman Islands Hospital, George Town, where his is still being treated.
 
Detective Inspector Collins Oremule is asking anyone who witnessed the shooting, or who may have any information as to the motive for the attack, to contact George Town CID on 949-4222. Information can also be passed to the RCIPS confidential tip line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).

 

 

 

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Swim stars offer kids tips for success

| 18/05/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local swimming stars Shaune and Brett Fraser showed off their winning strokes recently offering a group of Cayman Islands Swim School students some tips on how to succeed in the pool. The brothers’ surprise visit to the Lion’s Aquatic Centre was arranged by the swim school “to motivate and inspire Cayman’s next generation of award-winning swimmers,” said Coach Dominic Ross. Shaune and Brett told their audience that they both started their swim careers in the Lion’s Pool – proof that when you set your sights high, anything is possible.

 
They also shared other secrets to success: focus, come to practice everyday, and pay attention to your stroke. The young swimmers then got to question the Frasers on what they ate, how much they ate, how long they trained and if they thought Cayman will produce more Olympic swimmers.
Brett currently competes for the University of Florida (UF) on the amateur National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) circuit. He represented the Cayman Islands in his first Olympics in 2008 at the Beijing Summer Games swimming in the 100m and 200m backstroke events.
Until recently Shaune also swam for UF. However, he will become Cayman’s latest elite athlete this summer when he graduates from university. Under this agreement, he will receive financial support enabling him to focus on training and competing.
Shaune has already competed in two Olympics – Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. He currently holds the NCAA record for the 200m fly, and the Florida state records for the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, and 200m fly – all set this year. Both have their sights firmly set on the 2012 London Olympics.
 
 
The Cayman Islands Swim School is one of the Ministry of Sports’ development initiatives teaching some 400 children to swim. The coaching staff also develop  Cayman’s next generation of competitive swimmers, teaching the specialized racing techniques to about 200 young swimmers every year.
 
 

 

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Cable & Wireless rebukes Digicel over legal case

| 18/05/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): There islittle indication that the regional telecom firm Cable & Wireless intends to go easy on its competitor, Digicel in negotiations over legal costs regarding the recent court room battle. Earlier this month LIME said any settlement over costs with Digicel would require full compensation to C&W for the “enormous costs” it suffered as a result of what it said was a baseless case. Digicel had brought suit against Cable & Wireless claiming that C&W had intentionally delayed Digicel’s entry into markets in the Caribbean between 2002 and 2006. Digicel lost the case in the UK High Court last month which also ruled costs to Cable & Wireless.

 
Donald Austin the firms Executive Vice President said that C&W was not surprised that Digicel wanted to negotiate on the costs as they lost the case comprehensively. “We estimate that they have spent about £10m in legal costs already,” he said adding that the firm had not ruled out negotiations but as we it was very well positioned.
Criticising its rival once again based on the judges comments C&W said any negotiations would have to take into account that it believed the case was “nothing more than a colossal waste of time and money.”
 
He pointed to several issues noted by the that Digicel announced the suit on the eve of a Cable & Wireless AGM, it never given an explanation for the firm’s original claim figure of £300-million which  the Judge said was grossly exaggerated and that the judge had said Digicel’s allegation of conspiracy was speculative and weak .
 
“Any negotiated settlement with Digicel will be can only be in the context of our company being fully compensated and reimbursed for the enormous expense brought on by a totally unnecessary and time-wasting suit,” Austin added.
 

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Golding to sign extradition for ‘Dudus’

| 18/05/2010 | 15 Comments

(AP): Jamaica’s prime minister has said he will allow reputed drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke to be extradited to the US ending a nine-month fight with Washington but raising fears of a violent backlash from the suspect’s supporters. The announcement Monday night marked a reversal for Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who faced mounting public pressure to drop his opposition to the request. The wanted man allegedly controls a band of gunmen inside a barricaded neighborhood of west Kingston that Golding represents in parliament.

 

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