Archive for August 19th, 2010

Young swimmer wraps up games with personal best

| 19/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman’s young swimmer Lara Butler managed another personal best in Singapore yesterday. She finished the Woman’s 100m Butterfly in a time of 1:07.59 ending her debut appearance at the Youth Olympic Games on a high note. Butler said she was very pleased with her performance.  Team mate Seiji Groome competed in the men’s 200m breaststroke where he had a strong first half but fell behind his personal best pace. Groome said he gained a lot of experience racing at this level and he is eager to get back in the pool to start training for World Short Course Championships in Dubai this winter. 

Meanwhile, Lizzy Wauchope is representing the Cayman Islands at sailing in the Byte CII dinghy against 31 other female sailors and after two days of racing she is currently in 26th place overall. Although Wauchope has improved her boatspeed and boathandling over the last few months, her relative inexperience racing in big fleets is causing her problems on the race course she admitted. "I am struggling with finding room on the start line and getting clean wind early, causing me to play catch up for the rest of the race," she said.

Cayman Islands Sailing Club Director and Wauchope’s coach, Michael Weber said there is still time for her to improve her standings. "The great thing about sailing regattas is that we get to do plenty of races.  There are sixteen races planned for this event and I am confident that Lizzy can move up in the standings.  She has good boatspeed so all she needs to do is sail a clean race and we should see finishes in the mid teens."


The competition resumes on Friday with three races planned.  


For results and information, visit  Play-by-play action can be followed on Twitter @s2010bytegirl

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Tourism officials aim to improve visitor experience

| 19/08/2010 | 26 Comments

(CNS): Following the news that cruise ship calls to Grand Cayman will be cut by twenty-five percent next year, the Department of Tourism has announced plans for an enhanced experience at the port. The DoT says the plan has been devised based on responses from a survey conducted among visiting passengers earlier this year. The announcement also comes as questions are being asked about the long term partnership with government and Dart to develop cruise berthing facilities. A three month MOU signed between the parties on 15 April has now expired, though government said on Thursday that the project is still on track.

In the meantime, tourism officials are implementing a plan to improve service delivery as well as the port’s physical environment. Jointly forged by the Department of Tourism, the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands and the Cayman Cruise Industry Partners, the six-month improvement project will be carried out over the rest of this year.

Following the assessment of the experience at the port by visitors who were asked to rate their experiences at certain touch point areas and the focus groups held with cruise partners, the team created an action plan to implement certain physical improvements to the downtown port area and to train cruise operators and employees at the terminals, the DoT explained.
“The recent assessment of visitor experiences at the port has provided us with valuable information that has enabled us to take the right steps to making the Cayman Islands an even more desirable destination for cruise visitors,” said Oneisha Richards, Project Manager and DoT’s Deputy Director, Tourism Product Development
Although the DoT has not revealed the results of the surveys or the focus groups, it was clear there were concerns, and the department said the plan aims to address both the concerns of local cruise tourism stakeholders and visitors.
With the reduction of calls to Cayman next year by cruise lines, there were concerns that problems with visitor experience had been instrumental in the cruise lines’ decision to drop Grand Cayman. CNS has contacted both Royal Caribbean and Carnival to ask them why they are reducing calls to the Cayman Islands and is still awaiting a response.
Most local business owners involved in the cruise tourism industry have expressed concerns about the conditions at the George Town port and the Spotts terminals, as well as a number of other issues, and have suggested some interim improvements are needed. However, their main concern is the pressing need to begin work on the cruise berthing facilities.
Stefan Baraud recently told CNS that the talks between government and Dart regarding the cruise berthing project were still on track, and although there are now some significant changes to the original model, DECCO (Dart’s construction company) is still very much on board with the project, which will be a private finance initiative.
With no news, however, on when the project will actually break ground and an ultimate completion date, the DoT is pressing on with programmes for taxi and tour operators and information providers at the port with the hope of improving the visitor experience at the terminals as they are now.
The department said Janet Holness, a member of DoT’s PRIDE team, will be focusing on operations at the terminals and will deliver training to cruise operators working there. Cruise Officer Melisa Ebanks will also provide operators with the information and skills to encourage visitors to return to the island.
 “The Cayman Islands has been known for its warmth and its welcoming hospitality services and the PRIDE programme is aimed at taking this to a higher level by implementing service standards and ensuring everyone knows, shares and show PRIDE to continue our success in the tourism industry,” Richards added.
At the beginning of the new fiscal year, the PRIDE programme focused on assisting operators at the ports to improve their service delivery, officials from DoT said. The first phase of the initiative was to apply the enhancement process to the cruise ports, with the second phase directed at the airports. At the start of this programme, all public transport drivers operating at seaports and airports received customer service training. To date, over 400 drivers have received PRIDE training and additional training is being developed to fully immerse these operators in service enhancement.

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Unconscious Christians

| 19/08/2010 | 129 Comments

Christians have many friends who do not believe in God, and they often wonder to themselves, “Will these friends go to heaven?” It is a very important question that needs a satisfying answer. Will many of our friends who are both agnostic and even atheist be in heaven? When we look to Scriptures and use our minds, we see that the answer is ‘Yes’.

These people will indeed be in heaven. This is because they are actually Christians, they are just unaware of it. They are ‘unconscious Christians’.

They are probably not aware of it because I do not think that even Christians are really aware of it. There is one criterion by which one loves Christ and that is loving your neighbour. Whether you have faith in Jesus or not, if you love your neighbour, you ipso facto love Christ. It is one and the same. Many atheists and agnostics love their fellow human beings and do not discriminate or treat anybody unfairly, regardless of where they come from. Such ‘unconscious Christians’ are people who do not intellectually accept Christ, but effectively, they do. They love Christ through their hearts, if not their minds. They love their neighbours, and thereby love God.

This is confirmed in Scriptures. When Jesus is asked by a scholar of the Law, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" he answered by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 36 – 39). Asked to name one law, Jesus instead named two. He says of the first commandment (loving God), that the second (loving your neighbor) is like it. He equated one with the other, so that we know that by loving our neighbour we thereby love God. This is why Scriptures also says “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar.” (I John 4: 20).

Logically, the concept of an ‘unconscious Christian’ makes sense because we know that human beings are made in the “image and likeness” of God. The human being alone among all creatures on earth is a self-conscious person. We are replicas of God, who is the eternal self-conscious Person. So because every human being is a replica of God, it follows that if you love human beings, you love God. This all makes sense.

Now in Scriptures, Jesus spoke about ‘unconscious Christians’. On the last day, when he is standing as judge before the throng of humanity, he says to those who are to partake in heaven, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” We recognize the ‘unconscious Christians’ by their reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?” They are genuinely surprised. They did not recognize Christ in this life. But Jesus says to them, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25: 31 – 40). These people did not recognize Christ but they loved him nonetheless. So here we see ‘unconscious Christians’ going to heaven.

Now this view of things makes sense to our consciences and our minds, because we know that God is not a ridiculous and absurd God who would punish to all eternity someone who never heard about him. God is all loving, all embracing, and there are many sinners who will be in heaven (Matthew 22: 32).

Another criterion by which one loves Christ is to love life (in all its forms). Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11: 25). All life that has ever existed on earth or in the entire universe was raised into being by Christ. All plants, trees, bugs, dogs, birds, and humans find their existence because of Christ. He is “the firstborn of all creation” and “by him all things were created” (Col 1: 15 – 16). Jesus is the person of God whose omnipresence sustains the whole of creation. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col 1:17). So, generally speaking, if one loves life, one loves Christ. And by this criterion, we see that many people who do not believe in God nevertheless love God. These people want to protect the earth, and keep it free from destruction, so they can hand it down faithfully to their descendents. For them all life is precious, and beautiful. They do not think this way because God has told them in Scriptures, but because he has told them in their hearts. They do not recognize God in Scriptures, but by definition, they are Christian. By loving their neighbours and loving life, they love all things Christ, though they know it not to be him.

There are two things that a Christian should take from all of this. The first is that loving God is not just assenting to Christ intellectually, i.e. having faith. You have to DO something. Remember the story of the Good Samaritan. You have to love, with a real and passionate love, like Christ, who thirsted for love (John 19: 28). For, St Paul verily warns us that if you have “a faith that can move mountains, but have not love” you are nothing. You are “a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (I Corinthians 13: 1 – 2). Ouch.

The second thing to realize from this is that only a Christian can love and believe in life with complete interior freedom. Christians have a truth that sets them free. An ‘unconscious Christian’ has to deal with this troubling issue: if the energy of the sun (and the entire universe for that matter) will one day dissipate, and all life die, what is really the point in loving my neighbour? Why not get what is good for me while I can? One who knows in the back of their minds that one day the earth will fail to be here can be tempted to be an anarchist, in the strictest and pejorative sense of the word. A Hitler. An anti-Christ. Life is absurd. A Christian, on the other hand, knows the effect of the cause. Loving each other will one day bring the earth to completion. Long before the sun fades away, humanity’s love for itself will intensify until it culminates in the love of God, and the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven, and God will “be all in all” (I Corinthians 15: 28).

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Judge offers support for court room alternative

| 19/08/2010 | 7 Comments

(CNS): The introduction of mediation services to the Cayman Islands could add a new string to the country’s financial services bow, a leading expert in the field has said. Jonathan Dingle of the London School of Mediation visited Cayman this week to promote the idea that the jurisdiction could offer an alternative to the courtroom to resolve some commercial and civil disputes. At a special reception on Monday evening, recently appointed judge of the financial court, Sir Peter Cresswell offered his backing to the concept of mediation. Speaking in his personal capacity, the judge said that by offering mediation services Cayman could enhance its standing as a regional leader and centre of excellence.

Mediation is a way of attempting to resolve a dispute in anything from insurance claims to family matters in front of an independent mediator before it reaches the costly and adversarial arena of the courtroom. Not all mediators are lawyers, but most have some form of legal background and usually specialise in certain fields. A day’s mediation can often successfully resolve a dispute at a fraction of the cost and far more amicably than in a formal legal setting.
The reception held at the Marriot to promote the concept was hosted by local attorneys Stenning Associates, which invited a number of people from the legal profession to discuss the potential for developing mediation services locally.
The presentation on the advantages of mediation was delivered by Cresswell, who aside from being a judge is also a trained mediator. In his capacity as the Judge in Charge of the Commercial Courtin London, he revealed that he issued the first practice direction encouraging the use of mediation where appropriate as an alternative to litigation.
He said he had conducted 33 mediation cases in the UK in the last fifteen months and every one was settled outside the courtroom either on the day or a couple of days later.
Cresswell said that there were significant developments in mediation in other jurisdictions in the region and there was room for Cayman to develop its own mediation facilities. He said that the jurisdiction would need a pool of properly trained mediators who would be able to provide services to resolve different types of disputes.
“In my personal opinion the legal landscape is changing and there is considerable scope for further development of mediation,” Cresswell said. “One of the key advantages of mediation is that it assists in the settlement of disputes in cases where parties need to do business together or live together in future.”
He said the new residential tenancy law contains pioneering provisions for mediation but the method was also appropriate for matrimonial disputes, workplace disputes, community, insurance and even disputes in schools. Cresswell said that it was currently under consideration for strata title disputes and the Information Commissioner had adopted a policy to seek resolution by mediating FOI disputes before a formal hearing.
“In ten years time there will be far greater use of mediation in the Cayman Islands than at present,” Cresswell predicted. “It is for the people of Cayman to set up a licensed regional mediation centre or facilities for Cayman and its neighbours in which the people have confidence.”
Dingle, whose organisation specialises in training and accrediting mediators, noted that mediation would add value to the country’s existing commercial sector and he pointed out that the concept of mediation does not supplant lawyers or replace litigation but offers a real alternative, another way to deal with the complex and diverse disputes that are part of a world class jurisdiction. Among the many advantages, Dingle said that mediation was a less expensive, faster, more efficient and less adversarial way of resolving important problems.
“Mediation often allows the parties to get a better deal without the inherent risks of the court room,” he said. “When two sides go to court they both think they are right but more often than not only one is and sometime neither side is right. With mediation both parties are usually able to walk away with something and everyone involved gets a better outcome.”
Dingle also explained that the system merely requires the support of those involved and therewas no need for any new legislation to facilitate the introduction of the services. He said the need for people to be trained and a place for mediation to happen was all that was needed to start the ball rolling.
Bermuda and Jamaica are already offering a place for mediation in a variety of fields and as the practice of using mediation becomes increasingly more common the idea of developing the service here could not only offer the people of Cayman a more affordable and efficient way of solving disputes, it could also add to the overall attractiveness of Cayman to the international commercial community.

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Cayman needs to enforce building codes says insurer

| 19/08/2010 | 18 Comments

(Bloomberg): Climate change may add 50 percent to the storm damage costs incurred by some Caribbean nations over the next two decades, said Swiss Reinsurance Co., the world’s second-largest re-insurer. Wind, storm surges and inland flooding already cost some Caribbean nations up to 6 percent of their economic output each year. Global warming could add costs amounting to another 1 to 3 percent of output by 2030. Swiss Re said territories have a range of options open to them to reduce the risk of damage. The Cayman Islands could “cost-effectively avoid up to 90 percent of expected losses” by building sea walls and enforcing construction codes, the re- insurer said.


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Value of wastewater secret

| 19/08/2010 | 19 Comments

(CNS): Despite the fact that government has been trying to sell the Water Authority’s wastewater operations, officials have refused to reveal how much it is worth. A freedom of information request by a member of the public asking for the independent valuation conducted by KPMG of the government’s sewage treatment plant and other assets has been turned down. The request was made in April, several months before the government’s announcement that it now intends to lease the entire Water Authority operations and not just wastewater. According to the offering memorandum published by HSBC for the government’s recent bond sale, the book value of the sewerage treatment plant at the end of the 2009 financial year was US$23.3m.

Recent reports that government will now be looking for a twenty-five year lease for the Water Authority, a deal it is likely to strike with Consolidated Water, have suggested government will accept a $30 million upfront payment for the entire authorities operations and further undisclosed annual sums over the lease period.  According to this year’s budget documents, the Water Authority has a net worth of over CI$51 million.
It is understood that government was unable to find any investors interested in the sewerage management system, which the UDP had said it would divest from when it took office in 2009. However, with no takers government is now looking at ways of generating cash from some form of divestment of the whole Water Authority, which is one of government’s most successful entities that not only generates profits which are reinvested into the operations, it also pays an annual sum to government coffers, delivers water at an affordable rate and employs over 120 people, a large percentage of which are Caymanian.
The plans to divest to Consolidated Water, the private entity which currently supplies water to West Bay, has raised concerns among staff at the authority and the wider community. The opposition has also said it remains to be convinced that the move will be beneficial to either government or the people, given the success of the asset, especially if local jobs are lost and the cost of water to the consumer increases. 

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Gun man robs gas station

| 19/08/2010 | 29 Comments

(CNS): George Town detectives are appealing for witnesses in the latest armed robbery which took place last night. At around 10:25 (Wednesday 18 August) a single gun men entered the Esso Service Station at the junction of Shedden Road and Thomas Russell Way in George Town. The man who was armed with what appeared to be a handgun entered the Gas Station threatened the employees and ordered them to put the cash in a bag and escaped on foot. He left the premises with a sum of money and was last seen walking on Printer’s Way. The suspect is described as being 5′ 9” tall, dark-brown complexion with a round face and clean shaved; he spoke with a Jamaican accent.

He was wearing a brown T shirt, black short pants, black shoes and black glasses and had on a black cap.

No shots were fired and no-one was injured in the incident. Police have not said if the gas station was using CCTV.

Anyone who was in the area at the time of the robbery and witnessed the incident or the man leaving the scene is asked to call George Town CID on 949-4222 or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800- TIPS. (8477)

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