Archive for May 4th, 2011

Liquor store says criminals need to think twice

| 04/05/2011 | 18 Comments

(CNS): In the wake of a foiled robbery at Blackbeard’s Grand Harbour store this week, the management is warning would-be thieves that it and most other liquor stores now all have high grade security measures at their stores. Two teenagers armed with a loaded shotgun were arrested after the bungled crime on Monday afternoon when staff calmly refused to open the tills and three members of the public then apprehended the teen robbers as they tried to run away. Nancy van der Bol, director of retail operations, said staff security training, CCTV cameras and other anti-theft technology thwarted the robbery.

“To protect both our customers and employees, we have invested heavily in anti-theft technology such as CCTV. Most liquor stores on the island, including all Blackbeard’s and Big Daddy’s outlets, have high grade security cameras in place and thieves should think twice about targeting such facilities,” she added. “In circumstances such as this, the police will often utilize the CCTV images to identify and prosecute those involved. In addition, we also provide intensive trainingfor all of our staff on how to handle situations such as this.”

She acknowledged, however, that nothing fully prepares people for the sight of a weapon and said she was extremely proud of the way staff conducted themselves. Management also offered thanks to three members of the public who helped to stop the suspects from getting away from the scene. Matthew Bishop, General Manager of said the firm, said he was incredibly thankful that no one was harmed.

“This was a very serious situation that had potentially devastating consequences. Our staff acted with great calmness and professionalism throughout the incident,” the liquor store boss said. “We are also thankful for the extraordinary efforts of several members of the general public,
in particular Mr Charles Ebanks, Mr Edward Azan and Mr Ray MacGuire, who put their own lives at risk by chasing and apprehending the two suspected criminals and restraining them until the police arrived. It was an incredible and unexpected act of courage.”

To recognize the efforts of Ebanks, Azan and MacGuire and to support the community’s drive to eradicate violent crime, Blackbeard’s will be making a donation to both Cayman Crime Stoppers and to Prison!Me!No!Way! an organisation that focuses on youth and crime prevention.

Bishop also thanked the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service for its swift and thorough response to this situation. “Without them, we would not have been able to get the suspects into custody and dealt with so quickly,” he said, adding that the actions of the staff and the men reflect how many people feel about crime on the island.

“Although we would never encourage or expect people to take risks of any kind, this incident is a good example of how key an issue crime really is right now,” said Bishop. “It is affecting all of us and our visitors to the island directly and indirectly and it has to stop. Everyone can do their part, whether it is an extreme measure such as this, or by calling Cayman Crime Stoppers with information, cooperating with police, or reporting anything suspicious," he added.
 

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War Canoe wins tough round island race

| 04/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CISC):Ten boats entered the 47th Easter regatta round island race but only six finished including winners, War Canoe. The race started about a mile inside the North Sound’s main channel on Grand Cayman early in the morning and finished at Governor’s Beach some 60 nautical miles later. The competitors met with challenging conditions once they got out of the Sound and had to tack down the north side of the island into ENE winds of around 20 knots with higher gusts. The sea was rough with wave heights of 6-8 feet at times off the north shore and East End. A few boats sustained damage, including a blown out mainsail and several boats turned back due to breakages or the lack of progress on the north side.

The sailors that got past East End were rewarded with easier conditions on the south and west shores and were very grateful to be able to enjoy a calmer passage to the finish.

First over the finish line was Bruce Johnson in Blue Runner, a 37 foot J boat with a crew of ten. Blue Runner made the circumnavigation in 7 hours and 14 minutes. Second to make it to the finish line was Carson Ebanks in War Canoe a 23 foot Sonar. Although War Canoe finished over 30 minutes after Blue Runner, they won the race on corrected time for the second year running. In third place overall, although the first non-spinnaker boat, was Jonathan Cuff taking his boat Pie Sees III round for the first time.

“It was a great challenge and after we reached East End the conditions calmed down a bit and we were able to enjoy the ride” commented Cuff after the race which took place on Good Friday.

The next cruisers race is the Harbour House 12 mile Banks and Back race which takes place in June 2011. If you would like to find out how to get involved in big boat racing contact admin@sailing.ky

 

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Top Caribbean stars headline Cayman’s carnival

| 04/05/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The Wailers, famous all over the world having played with legendary reggae artist Bob Marley, are just one of a list of artists performing in Cayman this weekend as part of the islands’ annual carnival- Batabano. Now in its 28th year, the event has developed into a celebration of Caymanian and Caribbean culture through cuisine, music, dance and other arts. The premier, McKeeva Bush, said the Cayman Islands government was pleased to provide support for the national carnival which has, for almost thirty years, helped to diversify the tourism product. “Through this event, residents and visitors alike are able to enjoy a colourful Caribbean parade with the scenery of George Town and Seven Mile Beach as the backdrop,” he added.

Acting director of tourism, Shomari Scott said the carnival is an import showcase for the culture, heritage and flavour of the Cayman Islands drawing international attention.

The centre of the carnival the adult street parade, from West Bay Road into George Town, will take place on 7 May from 3pm when the streets will come alive with elaborate and colourful carnival costumes, rhythmic soca music and energetic bands all playing mas. The Food Festival and Street Fete will immediately follow the parade in the centre of George Town, and the public can taste the best in local delicacies including conch, lobster and crab.

Famed Trinidadian Soca Artiste Crazy is set to take the stage on Thursday night at the Masquerade Fete, which will take place at the local hot-spot call the Roof Top and will provide attendees with excellent cocktails and the best in soca music.

The Wailers will perform live on stage on Friday, 6 May at 6pm at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal in George Town. This promises to be yet another world class event by the group, which has performed in venues around the world for reggae enthusiasts. Later on that same evening, the International Flag Night is set to kick off at the Royal Palms at 9:00PM, where the leading soca band in the Caribbean, Kes, is scheduled to deliver a lively performance. The Trinidadian group’s music is a mixture of various genres such as calypso, rock and reggae.

An event package to attend both concerts will be made available and this will cover both entrance costs and shuttle transportation between the two.

The Children’s Parade takes place on 14 May to provide both participants and spectators with a great opportunity to engage in youth arts.

Art In the Heart highlights some of the most creative artwork developed by local artists while the Teen Jam will provide great entertainment for the teenagers to take part in the festivities, with their very own event and Song Competition which is expected to bring out the best vocalists in the country.

Cayman Carnival Batabano was first launched by the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman in 1983 and has since grown into one of the premier cultural celebrations in the Caribbean. The festival’s name is centred on the term Batabano, which was used to describe the markings left by female turtles along sandy beaches, as they crawled out of the sea to lay eggs in various nesting sites. The carnival is comprised of many different events which are geared towards both adults and children.

For more information on Cayman Carnival Batabano, a full listing of events and how you can take part in the festivities, please visit the website at www.caymancarnival.com

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UK cop’s complaints defamatory says governor

| 04/05/2011 | 13 Comments

(CNS): The Governor’s Office has refused to release the details of why complaints made by Martin Bridger (left), the senior UK officer in a bungled corruption investigation, were dismissed because it says it would not only be a breach of confidence but it also contains defamatory material. Following an FOI request made by CNS, the office said that under section 54 of the Freedom of Information Law government does not have to release the documents. Despite the fact that Operation Tempura cost the Cayman taxpayer over $6 million, the full details of, or the motivation for, the parts played by local and UK officials, as well as Bridger’s complaint about why he thinks the investigation was halted, appear destined to remain a mystery.

An FOI request made in London to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the details of Bridger’s complaint by John Evans, a witness in one of the court cases relating to Operation Tempura, was also refused recently. Evans was told by the UK authorities that releasing the information would be likely to prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands.

Although the FCO said it recognized the general public interest in openness in public affairs and that disclosure of the information might lead to better informed debate on a subject of public interest, it still considered that the balance is weighted against disclosure. It also noted that revealing the details may impact Cayman’s reputation and affect the financial services sector.

“We judge that disclosure would be prejudicial to the effective conduct of international relations between the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands which depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between the governments,” the FCO officials said in the letter. “If the United Kingdom does not maintain this trust and confidence, its ability to protect and promote UK interests through international relations will be hampered … disclosure of the information requested could lead to a loss of confidence within the international community which could impact negatively on the Cayman Islands’ reputation and, more directly, on its financial services industry.”

It said disclosure could also prejudice relations between the Cayman and UK governments, which could undermine the confidence of governors in all the overseas territories that information they report to the UK would be kept confidential. “This could lead to more circumspect reporting by Governors, which could in turn damage the United Kingdom’s ability to ensure the good governance of the Overseas Territories,” the FCO said as it refused the application.

The explanation given by the Governor’s Office to CNS was considerably less detailed and simply stated that the law does not authorize the disclosure of any information that would be a breach of confidence or any defamatory matter.

Some of the details of Bridger’s complaints were, however, exposed in the Financial Times. Bridger claimed the investigation had been deliberately blocked rather than discredited because of the lack of evidence or the incompetence of the officers involved in the special operation investigation team, which became known as SPIT.

The entire episode continues to generate considerable disquiet in the local community for different reasons. Many people see the investigation as nothing more than a Caribbean jolly for ex-Metropolitan police officers, who by clouding their investigation in official secrecy were able to run up huge salary and expense claims, which were all paid for by the public purse. Others say that there could have been genuine corruption but the investigation was stopped by people who did not want the details of the police or official wrongdoing to be revealed.

The repercussions of the investigation continue to impact the local community as it fuelled distrust for the police and in particular officers from the UK. It also had a negative impact on local officers and many say it led to a rise in local crime as the RCIPS turned inward and away from normal policing.

The cost to the public purse — which is not yet over — has also been significant, especially at a time when government revenue was hit by the global crisis. While the unlawful arrest of a Grand Court judge was settled in a damages payment of more than $1.2 million and Chief Superintendent John Jones was eventually returned to post after being on required leave on full pay for more than 18months, the situation regarding other police officers has still to be settled.

Deputy Commissioner Rudy Dixon, who still remains on ‘required leave’ has, according to official records, been paid over $300,000 since April 2008 when he was suspended, as well as pension payments of around $52,440.54. Dixon was arrested by SPIT and charged with perverting the course of justice, and although he was acquitted at trial in November 2009, he has still not been reinstated in his post.

Stuart Kernohan, the former police commissioner, was also suspended as part of the Operation Tempura investigation and eventually sacked by the former governor. Kernohan has since filed a civil claim against the Cayman government and Bridger, which has not yet been settled. Finally, Burman Scott, who was also arrested in connection with the charges relating to Dixon, filed a civil case alleging unlawful arrest and his claim has yet to be dealt with.

The Operation Tempura investigation began when accusations were made that Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis was leaking information to the editor in chief of Cayman Net News, the late Desmond Seales.

Martin Bridger claimed that he and one other officer from Scotland Yard, who originally came to investigate the matter at the request of the then governor Stuart Jack, soon discovered that Ennis was innocent. However, he said he and his colleague had uncovered other irregularities that needed to be investigated and expanded the team. The investigation remained undercover from September 2007 until March 2008 when three of the four senior RCIPS officers were suspended from their jobs

Following the unlawful arrest of a grand court judge, two other failed court room cases, more than $6 million of public funds spent and no real concrete evidence of corruption, the then PPM government insisted that Bridger leave the country. Despite an investigation that continued for more than a year, Bridger was never able to back up his continued claims to elected officials of “rampant corruption” in the police and judiciary and he eventually departed in April 2009.

Soon after, the RCIPS took over the investigation to examine the alleged reports of corruption collated by SPIT. Although some officers have since been quietly dismissed, few details of the investigation or corruption allegations have ever been revealed. 

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Woman charged with attempted murder of mother

| 04/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS):Following the stabbing of a 63-year-old woman as she slept in her bed in the early hours of Sunday morning, her 32-year-old daughter has been charged with attempted murder. During the incident, which took place before 2am in the West Bay home of the two women, the police said the elderly woman sustained injuries to her neck and thumb. The mother was taken to George Town hospital on Sunday morning, 1 May, where she was treated for the injuries which officials had said were not life threatening. The daughter was arrested at the time and has been in police custody since. An RCIPS spokesperson said the 32-year-old woman was expected to appear in court on Wednesday afternoon.
 

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Glaucoma and your eyes

| 04/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(Lions): Glaucoma is an eye condition that develops when too much fluid pressure builds up inside of the eye. It tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life. The increased pressure, called intraocular pressure, can damage the optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain. If damage to the optic nerve from high eye pressure continues, glaucoma will cause loss of vision. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause total permanent blindness within a few years. Because most people with glaucoma have no earlysymptoms or pain from this increased pressure, it is important to see your ophthalmologist regularly so that glaucoma can be diagnosed and treated before long-term visual loss occurs.

If you are over the age of 35 and if you have a family history of glaucoma, you should have a complete eye exam with an ophthalmologist every one to two years. If you have health problems such as diabetes or a family history of glaucoma or are at risk for other eye diseases, you may need to visit your eye doctor more frequently.

Glaucoma usually occurs when intraocular pressure increases. If this channel becomes blocked, fluid builds up, causing glaucoma. The direct cause of this blockage is unknown, but doctors do know that it is most often inherited, meaning it is passed from parents to children.

There are two main types of glaucoma: Open-angle glaucoma. Also called wide-angle glaucoma, this is the most common type of glaucoma. The structures of the eye appear normal, but fluid in the eye does not flow properly through the drain of the eye. Angle-closure glaucoma. Also called acute or chronic angle-closure or narrow-angle glaucoma, this type of glaucoma is less common, but can cause a sudden buildup of pressure in the eye.

Glaucoma most often occurs in adults over age 35, but it can also occur in young adults, children, and even infants. In African-Americans, glaucoma occurs more frequently and at an earlier age and with greater loss of vision. You are at an increased risk of glaucoma if you: Are of African-American, Irish, Russian, Japanese, Hispanic, I or Scandinavian descent. Are over age 35. Have a family history of glaucoma. Have poor vision. Have diabetes. Take systemic corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone.

For most people, there are usually few or no symptoms of glaucoma. The first sign of glaucoma is often the loss of peripheral or side vision, which can go unnoticed until late in the disease. Detecting glaucoma early is one reason you should have a complete exam with an eye specialist every one to two years. Occasionally, intraocular pressure can rise to severe levels. In these cases, sudden eye pain, headache, blurred vision, or the appearance of halos around lights may occur.

Glaucoma treatment may include prescription eye drops, laser, or microsurgery. Eye drops either reduce the formation of fluid in the front of the eye or increase its outflow. Laser surgery for glaucoma slightly increases the outflow of the fluid from the eye in open-angle glaucoma or eliminates fluid blockage in angle-closure glaucoma.  MIn an operation called a trabeculectomy, a new channel is created to drain the fluid, thereby reducing intraocular pressure that causes glaucoma.

Talk to your ophthalmologist to find out which glaucoma treatment is best for you. Glaucoma cannot be prevented, but if it is diagnosed and treated early, the disease can be controlled.

This article is one of a series regarding eye health in order to mark the Lions white Cane Week
 

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Local cruise experience must improve, says expert

| 04/05/2011 | 37 Comments

(CNS): Cayman has got to get its cruise tourism product in order if it is ever to create a visitor experience that will bring back repeat visitors as high spending stay-over tourists, according to Hugh Treadwell, Executive Vice President of Active Capital Ltd, a guest speaker on a panel discussion on marketing at this year’s Cayman Islands Tourism Exchange at Camana Bay. Looking at the visitor experience when they first disembark off the cruise ships, Treadwell said that cruise tourists did not receive the best impression of the islands at this crucial initial point of contact. “People coming here on a cruise ship quickly make their decision as to whether they return as a stayover,” he warned. “They evaluate a country very quickly.” (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

Treadwell outlined issues such as the poor quality of taxi service to cruise visitors, rogue tour guides jostling for business, the queues to re-board the ships, little protection for cruise tourists from the sun and rain, and so on, all of which made a poor first – and crucially last — impression.

He pointed out how other countries in the Caribbean such as the Bahamas and Jamaica were doing a great job in getting their own tourism product on the agenda of the cruise lines. The Cayman Islands, however, had suffered because it had not had a director of tourism for many years now and lacked a strategic plan that would move the product forward, he said.

“Five years ago the Royal Caribbean cruise line was willing to invest in a pier for the Cayman Islands. Without the pier people are losing businesses that they have built up because of the cruise tourism industry,” Treadwell added.

The comments came in the wake of the announcement that Bacchus, a restaurant of long standing in downtown George Town, had closed its doors due to a decrease in traffic of customers primarily from the cruise lines.

The 1.5 million cruise visitors to Cayman annually should be turned into potential stayover visitors, Treadwell stated, by improving the initial cruise experience. He thought that Cayman could be an innovator and beat all the competition, each of which was also trying to work out how to transform cruisers into stayover visitors.

“Designed the right way, the new cruise port could promote the story about what a great place the Cayman Islands is even before the cruise tourists come ashore,” he said. “Looking at other destinations, they aren’t that great. No-one is doing this, so far.”

Treadwell also outlined other areas of tourism that desperately needed to move forward in order to improve the tourism product as a whole, such as the need for the airport to be expanded to be able to accommodate more long haul aircraft, as well as the need for discussions on Sunday trading and legalising gambling to be revisited.

“These are critical elements that don’t ever seem to move forward too much. These issues need to be straightened out otherwise private agendas will continue to impact the business,” he warned.

Tim Adam, the Managing Director of the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm and an audience member at the panel discussion, said he was shocked to hear that Cayman had no long term strategic plan for tourism, save for the out-dated National Tourism Management Policy, originally written in 2002/2003 and revised in 2008.

“If we don’tknow the destination to which we are sailing, no wind is favourable. It seems like we are neatly arranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” he said succinctly.
 

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Researchers examine diving & disability in Cayman

| 04/05/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS): A team of spinal cord injury researchers, veterans and paralympic athletes will be visiting Cayman this week as part of a Johns Hopkins scientific medical study about the effects of SCUBA diving on people with disabilities. Teaming up with St Matthews University and Red Sail Sports, researchers from the US based medical school and the Cody Unser Foundation are aiming to also raise awareness about the research work and the power of sport in the rehabilitation process and the reintegration, rejuvenation of people living with a disability. There will be a public film screening of the movie "Cody: The First Steps", a documentary of the life and times of Cody Unser, who was paralyzed as a result of Transverse Myelitis, a rare spinal cord inflammation.

Since 1999 Cody, who is a certified diver, has won national acclaim for her work raising awareness and promoting the issues relating to disability.

St. Matthews University will be hosting the screening followed by a live panel discussion with doctors from the study, the dive teams and Cody.

The panel guest include Cody Unser from the documentary, who is also part of the medical study; Dr. Daniel Becker – MD, Head of Pediatric Restoration Therapy at Kennedy Krieger’s International Center for Spinal Cord Injury; Dr. Adam Kaplin – MD, PhD –Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology, and Principal Psychiatric Consultant to the Transverse Myelitis and Multiple Sclerosis Centers at Johns Hopkins and Al Kovak – Vice-President of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), ex navy seals and scuba participant in Cody’s Great Scuba Adventure’s Operation Deep Down.

The public screening of the movie, which is narrated by Glenn Close, will take place on Monday 9 May at St. Matthews University campus at Leeward 3 Building on the West Bay Road at 7pm on a first come first save basis. 

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MLAs should address issues

| 04/05/2011 | 36 Comments

(CNS): The independent member for North Side says he supports the no confidence motion brought by the opposition leader and wants to hear government address the points raised in it. Ezzard Miller said he was neither surprised nor disappointed that all of the members of government rallied round the premier last week, but he was disappointed that they have not discussed the twenty-four points raised in the motion submitted to the Legislative Assembly by Alden McLaughlin. The independent member stated that he wanted the members of government to offer their defence of the points listed as he said that was the crucial matter at issue, not the motivation for the motion.

Miller said that if — and he was hopeful that it would be placed on the House agenda — the motion was allowed to be debated on the floor of the Legislative Assembly later this month, he wanted to talk about the points raised and not why the opposition leader had filed the motion.

“I am hoping that this motion will make it to the order paper,” he said. “I am disappointed that government has so far chosen not to deal with the twenty-four articles listed on the motion. I am concerned that the government’s debate in parliament will focus on the motivation and criticism of the opposition instead of answering the issues which genuinely concern the people.”

Miller said he would be stating clearly why he supported each of the articles listed because most of them gave him cause for concern. “I want to see government members stand up and defend these 24 points and say why the motion shouldn’t be passed. I want to know if all of the members of government agree with the premier’s move to abort two different deals for the cruise port development.”

He said government should explain why two potential cruise port contracts have been jettisoned. “It is curious to say the least,” Miller stated. He made a comparison to the deal signed with Dr Shetty. That, he noted, was extended despite very little progress being made on the part of the Shetty team, while government has walked away from the negotiations with GLF where virtually all of the obligations under the deal appeared to have been fulfilled.

The silence of the rest of the players in the port project was also curious, Miller suggested. He said there had been no comment from the port director, the chairman of the board or Cline Glidden, who was supposedly leading the project, as well as others that were on the technical committee involved in the negotiations. “The total absence of comment from any of them in fact speaks volumes,” Miller added.

In addition to this decision Miller said he had particular concerns about the fact that Finance Committee had not met to regularize the spending decisions that have been made by Cabinet and he wanted to hear if the government all supported that failure to meet and to justify why not.

The independent member also pointed to the Cohen and Co loan deal, which he said was also rather curious. “We still haven’t seen the details about what happened there, and again the silence speaks volumes,” he noted. “Given that the deal has now fallen through, the government can’t hide behind commercial concerns. Was it so terrible that no one is going to be allowed to know what happened?” he asked.

The actions and conduct of the government listed on the motion needed to be addressed, Miller said, and while it was obviously going to be difficult to persuade members of the government to support it, he said the important point was that the debate would force them to confront these issues and justify the actions of government to the people. 

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