Archive for February 24th, 2011

Engine debris closes runway

| 24/02/2011 | 20 Comments

(CNS): Updated with official confirmation – The runway at the Owen Roberts International Airport in George Town was closed for several hours on Thursday as a result of an aircraft losing an engine during the run up to take-off at around 2:15pm. Officials confirmed the details on Friday, stating that the Delta flight, which was bound for Atlanta on Thursday afternoon, rejected a take off when its right engine flamed out. It is understood that as the aircraft began its take off it was forced to make an emergency stop before lift-off. Debris from the lost engine littered the 1500 foot runway, resulting in its closure, Cayman Islands Airports Authority said. (Photo – Officials walk the Owen Roberts runway looking for debris after the Delta engine blow out – Dennie Warren Jr)

"A runway inspection was carried out by airport operations which found foreign object debris scattered over 1500 feet of the runway. A decision was made to close the runway until it was deemed safe for operations. The runway was reopened at 6.08pm local time," officials from the airport stated.


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Man stuck in car wreck

| 24/02/2011 | 3 Comments

(CNS) A 34-year-old man who has sustained serious head injuries is believed to have been lying in the car wreck through the night along the Queens’ Highway in East End before he was discovered and taken to hospital Thursday morning. Arrangements are currently being made to airlift the man to Miami for treatment, police said, as they appealed for anyone who may know how the car smash occurred. The injured driver was discovered at around 7am Thursday morning by a man cycling in the area who spotted a badly damaged white Mitsubishi Pajero in the bush some 75 feet from the road.

The cyclist approached the vehicle and found a badly injured man inside and raised the alarm. Emergency Services attended the scene and the driver of the vehicle was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital, George Town, suffering from serious head injuries.

Police said that enquiries have so far revealed that man may have been lying injured within the vehicle for several hours.

Inspector Adrian Barnett, of the RCIPS Traffic Management Unit, is appealing for anyone who may have seen the white Mitsubishi Pajero driving on the road between 7.00pm last night and the time the vehicle was found this morning.

Anyone with information should contact the RCIPS Traffic Management Unit on 946-6254.

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Technology breakthrough fuels laptops and phones

| 24/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(Power online): SiGNa Chemistry Inc. has unveiled its new hydrogen cartridges, which provide energy to fuel cells designed to recharge cell phones, laptops and GPS units. The green power source is geared toward outdoor enthusiasts as well as residents of the Third World, where electricity in homes is considered a luxury. "SiGNa has created an inherently safe solution to produce electric power, resulting in an eco-friendly and cost-effective portable solution," said Michael Lefenfeld, SiGNa’s CEO. The spark for this groundbreaking technology came from the laboratory of James Dye, SiGNa’s co-founder and University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at MSU.

His work with alkali metals led to a green process to harness the power of sodium silicide, which is the source for SiGNa’s new product.

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Rotary lights up Camana Bay with key message

| 24/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The new Ogier Building at Camana Bay joined Italy’s Trevi Fountain, India’s Charminar monument and the New York Stock Exchange last night when it was lit up with a key message by local Rotarians. A message was emblazoning on the building and many others around the world to promote the final push in the goal to eradicate polio from the face of the earth. The "End Polio Now" illumination campaign will last for two weeks and start on Rotary International’s 106th birthday of humanitarian service. “These global illuminations carry Rotary’s pledge to end polio—saying to the world that we will fight this crippling disease to the end,” said Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar, Chair of The Rotary Foundation. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

“It is our hope that people worldwide will see this visible pledge and join Rotary and its partners in this historic effort to rid the world of polio forever.”

Other iconic landmarks that have carried the pledge in recent years include the Sydney Opera House, London’s Tower Bridge, the Roman Coliseum, Egypt’s Pyramid of Khafre, Chicago’s Wrigley Building, the Obelisk in Argentina and the San Francisco Ferry Building.

Polio eradication has been Rotary’s top priority for more than two decades. The international humanitarian service organization is a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, along with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF.

Rotary has pledged to raise US$200 million to match $355 million in challenge grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The entire $555 million will be spent in support of eradication activities.
Great progress has been made: The number of cases of polio infection has plunged from about 350,000 in 1988 to fewer than 2,000 in 2009. More than two billion children have been immunized in 122 countries, preventing five million cases of paralysis and 250,000 paediatric deaths.

Rotary club members worldwide have contributed more than $900 million and countless volunteer hours to the effort and are now working aggressively to raise the $200 million needed to match the Gates Foundation grants. The money is needed to ensure that the progress made over more than two decades will continue. To learn more about polio eradication, including how to participate in this historic effort, visit today.

If you would like to make a donation, please visit any of the participating merchants at Camana Bay, approach any local Rotarian, or call the Rotary Sunrise PolioPlus Chair Tony Catalanotto at 926-7368.


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Romanians charged over poker card ATM fraud

| 24/02/2011 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Two men who were arrested at Owen Roberts International Airport lat week have now been charged with several counts of theft and attempted theft and are due to appear in summary court today. Police from the financial crimes unit arrested the Romanian nationals aged 22 and 25 years charge in connection with a cash machine skimming scam after receiving reports of a number of fraudulent withdrawals from cash machines in the George Town area. The cards used by the suspected fraudsters were not legitimate bank cards but "poker cards" used in casinos and had been seized by the machines.

The metallic strips on the cards had been loaded with potential victim’s account details for overseas accounts. The cards had also been used to make purchases at business premises throughout the Island, police added. Following an RCIPS operation on Wednesday, 16 February, with the assistance of the Department of Immigration, the men were arrested at the airport.

Anyone who suspects they may have been a victim of the scam should contact the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit on 949-8797.


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Marriage Act blocks gay rights, says Obama

| 24/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): President Obama, in a striking legal and political shift, has determined that the Defense of Marriage Act — the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages — is unconstitutional, and has directed the Justice Department to stop defending the law in court, the administration said Wednesday. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced the decision in a letter to members of Congress. In it, he said the administration was taking the extraordinary step of refusing to defend the law, despite having done so during Mr. Obama’s first two years in the White House. “The president and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation” should be subjected to a strict legal test intended to block unfair discrimination, Mr. Holder wrote.

As a result, he said, a crucial provision of the Defense of Marriage Act “is unconstitutional.”

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UK backs ‘publish what you pay’ rule

| 24/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Britain is throwing its weight behind European efforts to force oil and mining companies to publish details of every penny they pay to governments in poor countries where they operate. George Osborne told his fellow G20 finance ministers in Paris on Saturday that the coalition was keen to support an effort by the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to throw open the operations of the extractive industries in the developing world to public scrutiny. "As we enter a new decade when the resources of Africa are going to be heavily developed, I strongly believe it’s in everyone’s interests that mining companies and others operate to the highest standards," said Osborne.

"That’s the way to ensure some of the world’s poorest benefit from the wealth that lies in the ground beneath them."

When multinational resources firms move into African states they often bring the promise of economic development, but campaigners say the result is all too often a bonanza for a tiny elite, while most of the population sees few benefits. In oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, for example, GDP per head is $30,000, equivalent to that of Italy or Spain, but most of the population still live on less than $1 a day. Exports of oil, gas and minerals from Africa were worth $393bn in 2008, while the continent received $44bn in international aid, and natural resources accounted for almost a quarter of Africa’s growth between 2000 and 2008.

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Bermuda’s reinsures petition US over tax changes

| 24/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(Bernews): President Barack Obama’s inclusion of a proposal to deny tax deductions for certain reinsurance premiums paid to foreign-based affiliates by US insurers in his Budget plan has drawn criticism from Bermuda reinsurers. The Coalition for Competitive Insurance Rates (CCIR) — a Washington lobby group which includes the Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers [ABIR], European reinsurers and the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) — objected to the proposal in a letter sent to the chairmen and ranking members of both the US Senate Finance Committee and House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee.

“This is similar to legislation introduced in the 111th Congress by Rep. Richard Neal— legislation which was widely opposed by consumer advocates, insurance industry experts, and trade analysts,” said the letter, which was sent last week. “Unfortunately, this proposal is being advocated as a possible tax revenue offset by a small group of very large US insurance companies.With the enactment of this tax, these companies intend to create a US market share advantage for themselves at the expense of individual and commercial insurance consumers.”

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Tort reform bill withdrawn, minister brings new law

| 24/02/2011 | 3 Comments

(CNS): The health minister has withdrawn a piece of legislation which had been gazetted and circulated to members of the country’s parliament last month dealing with tort reform and replaced it with a brand new law dealing with medical compensation. The Tort reform bill had been intended to address the requirements of an agreement between government and Dr Devi Shetty to build a medical city in Cayman and complaints by local obstetricians who had said their medial mal practice premiums were increasing so much they were being priced out of practice. However, Mark Scotland told the House on Wednesday that he had been advised by the legal department that a stand alone piece of legislation would be more effective.

“In order to cap non-economic damages in medical negligence cases, including those arising from tort and contract law it would be better to have a stand alone piece of legislation that would address it rather than attempting to insert contract law into tort law,” the minister said as he explained the reasoning behind the change.

He also said that criticisms over the law that suggested it was being brought because Shetty would be brining sub-standard practitioners to the island to work in the hospital resulting in large numbers of claims were untrue. The goal, Scotland stated, was to ensure medical mal practice insurances rates would be affordable as Shetty had been warned by insurers that without a cap on non-economic damages the rates would be so high as to put the whole project’s economic feasibility in doubt.

“Dr Shetty has assured government that he intends to hire top class, internationally respected, experienced, highly qualified practitioners, the minister said, adding that Shetty’s business model depended on being able to provide and exceed expertise and care levels his clients from North American expect.

“Dr Shetty’s recognition of the need to meet and exceed these expectations is evident in his current facilities in India,” he said, adding that the Narayana Heart Hospital in Bangalore, had been awarded full accreditation status by the JCI – Joint Commission International a globally recognized organisation.

“Dr Shetty has a reputation to protect and educated clients to care for, he is not going to risk his reputation of financial success by running a substandard facility,” the health minister said.

During the consultation period regarding the decision to use the tort law as a way to address the problem, the law reform commission had warned government about a number of issues but the bill was still approved by Cabinet and submitted to the Legislative Assembly.

Since then however, during the 21 day review period various other stakeholders approached the minister and said that the tort reform amendment bill did not go far enough to have a meaningful effect on medical mal practice insurance premiums as it may be ineffective against medical negligence claims which were brought under contract law. “The concern was that injured parties would simply side step the cap on non-economic damages under tort law and pursue much higher awards through breech of contract cases,” the minister revealed as he explained why he was withdrawing the proposed tort reform amendment.

After discussing the matter with the legal department Scotland said the new legislation was created which was published in the gazette last Friday as he asked his colleagues to review the new proposed law.

See new legislation here

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Mac floats oil refinery idea

| 24/02/2011 | 120 Comments

(CNS): The premier has said that an oil refinery would give the country a national safety net and it is a project that should be given proper considered before people criticize it. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday morning about the need for government to utilize its assets in order to generate growth and develop the necessary infrastructure projects, McKeeva Bush said an oil refinery would diversify the economic base and lower the cost of living for everybody as it would reduce the cost of fuel. He said it would create jobs, increase the country’s gross domestic product and reduce the trade imbalance among other things. The premier said if it was done properly with environmental and safety considerations it would offer many benefits.

“This idea has been raised before, and we should know all the facts before criticizing it,” Bush added. The premier did not say where the refinery would go or whether it would be part of the proposed East End Commercial Sea Port but listed what he believed would be a number of benefits. He noted that it would the lessen the country’s dependence on outside producers to supply refined petroleum, increase storage capacity for petroleum, resolve issues regarding the current location of petroleum storage tanks, produce aviation fuel locally and allow regional and global trade of crude.

“On a national level, we should consider our dependence on the two international oil companies that currently service the Island. An oil refinery is a development that would give us a national safety net – one that warrants serious consideration,” Bush stated adding that people should know the facts first before shouting the idea down and when the time came there would be discussion and public consultation.

Pointing out that the country could no longer borrow anymore money along with the difficulties of raising more revenue in order to develop the island and grow wealth government had to utilize the assets that it had. If not, he said the development of infrastructure would come to “a grinding halt,” the premier told his legislative colleagues

He said government was exploring projects very carefully, including the sewerage project to ensure that there is a net benefit created by using these assets. “In the short term, there is the potential for reduced cost to the public sector and an increase in revenue; in the longer term, there is the potential for both direct and indirect creation of jobs and employment opportunities as well as providing modern and efficient water and sewerage treatment systems,” Bush stated. “Other major projects expected to commence this year are the construction of the North Sound Channel, the development of a Special Economic Zone and the construction of the Shetty Hospital.”

Bush said that the necessary infrastructure would be provided to support the channel through the North Sound to enable the country to take full advantage of the project from an economic perspective, “while mitigating any potential adverse impacts on the environment,” he added.

“We will also make the channel viable and open that area of the North Sound for redevelopment, thus enhancing properties. We will need to develop two islands in that area as well, which as I said will make the channel viable,” Bush revealed.

The premier also spoke about the plans for a Special Economic Zone, which were announced at the recent Cayman Business Outlook Conference in January which he said would be dedicated to the needs of specific types of foreign investment.

“This particular zone is designed to focus on future technology and intellectual innovation, and is the first of its kind in the Caribbean region. We recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hon Development to commence construction by December of this year, once legislative amendments and detailed agreements are concluded.”

He said the zone would establish the Cayman Islands as a global centre for a variety of knowledge-based industries such as information and communication technology; software development; biotechnology and new media; among others.

“Once again, the Cayman Islands will be at the forefront of global innovation creating new and exciting career and leadership opportunities for generations of Caymanians to come,” the premier told his legislative colleagues. “The Special Economic Zone is also expected to contribute a minimum of 15% of the Cayman Islands GDP over the next 10 years, which puts us on the right path for economic diversification whilst protecting our unique environment. With an investment valued at over US$500 million over the next 8 years, and the potential for over 5,000 highly skilled jobs, the benefits of this development extend beyond economic impact and into the development of our human capital.”

Greater opportunities in higher education, skills upgrading and benefits that come with technology transfer, he added would have a long-term impact on national efficiency and global competitiveness.

The premier did not mention the cruise terminal project or plans for the East End Seaport but also said he was examining the development of a pier and related facilities at the Cayman Turtle Farm in West Bay; a cruise pier and related facilities in Cayman Brac, with Dervin Scott, major road works to the eastern districts of Grand Cayman and enhancements to our airports both in Grand Cayman and Little Cayman.

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