Archive for December 2nd, 2010

Tobacco tax should pay for health promotion

| 02/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Taxes accumulated by government on the sale of tobacco, cigarettes and cigars ought to be earmarked for health promotion and disease prevention, according to an expert speaking at the Healthcare 20/20 conference that took place in Cayman mid November. Dr Jean Marie Rwangabwoba, a doctor and epidemiologist from the Pan American Health Organisation specialising in disease prevention, was speaking on a panel that discussed the impact of chronic non-communicable diseases on workplace productivity at Cayman’s first healthcare conference.

Healthcare 20/20 brought together doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners from Cayman and the region to hear the latest on medical issues as they relate to the Cayman Islands.

Dr Rwangabwoba said that countries such as the Cayman Islands needed to establish a national commission on non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes) to co-ordinate NCD prevention, and that governments should use tobacco tax to fund health promotions.

“Governments should increase the price of tobacco and tobacco-related products, restrict public smoking and give people access to nicotine replacements,” he said.

Local medical doctor, Dr Sook Yin, who is also a Director of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, wholeheartedly agrees with this proposal.

“I think designating the tax collected on tobacco and alcohol for prevention programmes and educating young people is an excellent idea,” she stated. “If we properly educate the public and can detect non communicable diseases early enough we can ease the economic burden of the aging population.”

Christine Sanders, former COO of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, agrees with Dr Rwangabwoba: “I am all for it and definitely think it could work as long as they pooled the expertise of the various NGOs. Perhaps NGOs could apply for a grant for a specific programme aimed at preventing non-communicable diseases,” she said.

Dr Yin believes Cayman needs to develop programmes in the community which reach out via early screening as many people do not have the money to get screened for indicators of NCDs, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose readings. And with obesity on the rise in increasingly younger children, the issue is only getting worse.

“We need to put money back into health,” she declared. “I think the taxes on tobacco should be increased to act as a deterrent for young people so that they don’t pick up the habit in the first place.”

CNS has asked the Ministry of Health to comment and is waiting for a response.

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Wine allergies are not to be sneezed at

| 02/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Scientists have identified a protein in wine that could lead to headaches, stuffy noses, skin rashes and other allergy symptoms that can hit you after you’ve have a glass or two. The discovery could help winemakers to develop the first low allergenic vintages – reds and whites with less potential to trigger these allergy symptoms, they say. The new study appears in the American Chemical Society monthly Journal of Proteome Research. Dr Giuseppe Palmisano and colleagues at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, say there is growing concern about the potential of certain ingredients in red and white wine to cause allergy-like symptoms that range from stuffed up noses to headaches to difficulty in breathing.

It’s estimated that these allergies affect around eight percent of wine drinkers worldwide. About one per cent are put down to the sulphur-containing substances that winemakers add to their wine to prevent spoilage. These can also occur naturally.
The component that triggers allergies in the remaining seven percent are unclear but studies suggest that glycoproteins – proteins coated with sugars produced naturally as grapes ferment – may be a culprit. However, scientists know little about the structure and function of these substances in wine.

Their analysis of Italian Chardonnay uncovered 28 glycoproteins, some identified for the first time. The scientists found that many of the grape glycoproteins had structures similar to known allergens, including proteins that trigger allergic reactions to ragweed and latex.

The discovery opens the door to the development of wine-making processes that minimise formation of the culprit glycoproteins and offer consumers low-allergenic wines.

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Bermuda solar power users sell back to country’s grid

| 02/12/2010 | 2 Comments

(Royal Gazette): Customers of renewable energy company Solar Bermuda have become the first to start selling back power to the Island’s electrical grid under Belco’s Interconnection Policy. The Interconnection Policy, which was announced on 6 November allows homeowners with alternative energy systems up to 15 kilowatts (kW) to sell excess power back to the utility provider. Solar Bermuda has called the policy “a huge step forward” for the renewable energy business in Bermuda and is proud to be the first local renewable energy company to officially “net meter” their clients allowing them to sell back that excess energy.

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Chevron looking for buyers in Caribbean markets

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(CNS): According to internet based stock advisors Stock Briefings the Chevron Corporation has put its Bahamas Texaco up for sale. The move is considered as part of a wider policy to depart its ‘downstream’ retail and wholesale trades in the Caribbean, from the Bahamas and eight other local markets including the Cayman Islands. A Chevron spokesman reportedly said “The remaining markets open for a potential sale are Bahamas, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Saint Maarten, Turk & Caicos and the US Virgin Islands.”

The oil company recently sold its fuels marketing and aviation businesses in the eastern Caribbean to Viotgaz SA a subsidiary of France-based Rubis, for a purchase price about $300 million.

David Sterling, district manager at Chevron Caribbean, who operates out of Jamaica also told the Gleaner last week that the oil company wants a less complex structure for its global operations and is in the process of soliciting bids for more regional operations. Chevron, he said, was reducing its footprint in the region to invest its capital elsewhere in the global operation for better returns on investment and to strengthen its competitive position in a tough global industry.
"There are nine other Caribbean markets, including Jamaica, up for a potential sale," Sterling stated.

Mike Wirth, Chevron’s executive vice president for downstream and chemicals recently said that, “By restructuring our worldwide portfolio, we intend to reduce capital employed, deliver stronger returns and achieve more profitable growth."

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African development money ends up in tax havens

| 02/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(The Telegraph): A new report alleges that the European Investment Bank’s lending practices in Africa facilitate tax evasion and corruption. Counter Balance, a coalition of NGOs has issued the report, entitled Hit and run development: some things the EIB would rather you didn’t know about its lending practices in Africa, and some things that can no longer be covered up last week. In it, the organisation claims that millions of pounds earmarked by the EIB last year for funding development in Africa ended up in tax havens and African banks, one of whose managing directors was being investigated for fraud at the time.

Counter Balance claims that the EIB is neglecting its traditional role in financing small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to concentrate on large loans to private banks which then are expected to lend to SMEs.

The group says that these practices not only “prioritise profit maximisation over concerns about sustainable development”, they make it difficult to trace what happens to the money, and can facilitate “sinister practices such as tax evasion, money laundering and personal enrichment".

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Boys make history with spelling bee tie

| 02/12/2010 | 10 Comments

(CNS): For the first time in the history of the country’s annual inter primary school spelling bee contest three boys tied for the title of spelling bee champ. In more than thirteen years of the Royal Bank of Canada’s Spelling Bee the cup has never been dominated by the boys before or had three winners tie. However, this year St. Ignatius Catholic School’s Nayil Arana, George Town Primary’s Aaron Fernandez, and Prospect Primary’s Chayce Jones each had perfect scores after blitzing through words like oesophagus, zoophyte, ikebana and tautology with little effort. Of the 16 words they were asked to spell, during the nearly three-hour long competition, they each got all 16 correct.

With only a single lap top provided by sponsors for the winner, Education Minister, Rolston Anglin had to save aved the day by quickly pledging two additional machines to reward all three boys. Other awards for the winners included the Premier’s Plaque, which was presented by West Bay Legislative Assembly Member Capt. Eugene Ebanks.

Placing a close second was Prospect Primary’s Denzil Boyd who ended the competition with 15 points to his credit. But a battle for third place ensued after Cayman Academy’s Khajia Campbell and North Side Primary’s Tiona Miller were each found to have 14 points. Khajia Campbell landed in the winners’ circle, however, after Tiona Miller missed the letter s in the third-place tie breaker ‘Jacuzzis’.

The Creek and Spot Bay Primary team of Amanda Ferguson, Deandra Watson and Serena Nelson (right) took the trophy for top school, which was handed to them by Minister Anglin.

The competition was judged by Education Ministry and department representatives Herbert Crawford, Mark Ray and Cecil Chan A-Sue. Mellony Bryan served as spell-master and Royal Bank’s Mitzie Bailey as time-keeper. The former education minister and George Town Legislative Assembly Member Alden McLaughlin was also there to offer support.

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Caribbean travel operatorhas eye on Cayman

| 02/12/2010 | 1 Comment

(CNS): According to reports in the Jamaican press this week Island Routes, the destination management arm of Sandals Resorts will be expanding into the Cayman Islands. Jamaica’s deputy director of tourism has taken up the top job at the tour operator and is said to be focusing in on new markets. As general manager David Shields, who once worked for the Cayman department of tourism is expected to lead the expansion of the firm into St Maarten, the Cayman Islands and Aruba, Island Routes Chief Executive Officer Adam Stewart has revealed. Shields, starts his new job in February next year.

Island Routes which open some 18 months ago is currently infive countries: St Lucia, Antigua, The Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Jamaica. He firm states on its website that its goal is “to showcase the culture, beauty and natural resources that define each unique island destination.” The company books one-stop excursions directly for clients through what it says is a Certified Partner Program. “Each and every tour must pass our "100 point route" assessment,” the firm states.

Shields takes with him several years of experience as director of market development with Air Jamaica Vacations. He was also assistant director of tourism with responsibility for marketing and promotions with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. Shields was the winner of Travel Agent Magazine’s Rising Star in Tourism – Destinations award in 1998/99, which honoured his contribution to the development of tourism in the Cayman Islands.

"David has integrity and credibility," said Stewart about the company’s new employee.

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Elmer:Society needs whistle-blowers

| 02/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(Swissinfo): Rudolf Elmer, a whistle-blower talks to about Wikileaks and the role of such organisations “in a media-manipulated world”. Elmer, 55, ran the Caribbean operations of Swiss private bank Julius Bär for eight years until he was dismissed in 2002. He then moved to Mauritius and began sending global tax authorities what he said were the secrets of his former employer. Wikileaks eventually published documents exposing allegedly illegal activities by Julius Bär clients in the Cayman Islands. Julius Bär did not want to comment.

Q Julius Bär fired you in 2002, which is when your dispute began. Why did you decide to give documents to Wikileaks?

Rudolf Elmer: I initially tried to fight offshore abuses myself, but that didn’t get anywhere. I then tried with the federal tax administration in Bern – but again in vain, because the tax administration couldn’t or wouldn’t protect me.

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Tree planting scheme launched by UK government

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(BBC): A £4.2million scheme to plant one million trees over the next four years has been unveiled by the UK government. It will see trees planted in urban areas of England that need them most, in the first government tree-planting campaign since the 1970s. It aims to reverse declines in the rates in the number of trees being planted in towns and cities. It will be led by Defra, alongside the Forestry Commission and organisations such as the Woodland Trust.Trees for Cities and the Tree Council will also be involved in the Big Tree Plant scheme.

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Liquor store staff trained to deal with armed robbery

| 02/12/2010 | 1 Comment

(CNS): With the surge in violent armed robberies on the island, local liquor supplier, Cayman Distributors Group, recently sent its Blackbeard’s and Big Daddy’s store staff on a training course to help prepare them in the event of a robbery. The booze firm said the safety and security of customers and staff is a priority, so along with the installation of security systems, the staff attended anArmed Robbery Compliance Seminar by the Security Centre Limited. “Preparing participants on how to act, react, and respond to an armed robbery situation goes a long way in assisting with the investigation,” said Frank Brennan, Vice President-Operations at TSCL.

“We commend businesses like Blackbeard’s and Big Daddy’s for taking the initiative to better prepare their staff and help keep them safe,” he said, adding that staff were given safety tips that they can implement every day. The ARCS course is a mixture of interactive discussion, and practical exercises.

Cindy Downing, HR Manager at Cayman Distributors Group, said that being more observant and remembering finer details will better prepare staff if ever they are in a situation where they have to describe a suspect. “We hope these are skills we never have to rely on, but we feel confident knowing our staff is equipped with the proper tools in case a situation arises. This training also compliments the surveillance systems we have installed in stores so we can better protect customers and staff,” she added.

The ARCS course is co-facilitated by Brennan, who brings 23 years of combined experience in law enforcement and the security industry, and James Strawson, who is responsible for Special Services and Investigations at The Security Centre. Strawson brings several years experience in Close Protection in the Middle East for an internationally recognised Privatized Military Company contracted to provide protection and logistics in war torn areas.

The Security Centre Limited has always offered Armed Robbery Compliance Seminars, but the company said demand has increased as of late. “With so many businesses being broken into recently, the number of training inquiries has increased,” says Strawson, “It’s good to see that employers want to protect their staff and make sure they are prepared and know how to react in a robbery situation.” 

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