Archive for May 6th, 2011

CS needs clarity on petitions

| 06/05/2011 | 40 Comments

(CNS):The constitutional commissioners called on government on Friday to clarify the position of civil servants when it comes to signing petitions and engaging generally in political activity. With the introduction of people initiated referendum in the new constitution, which requires the signatures of 25% of the electorate, it is still not clear whether civil servants are allowed to sign petitions that may be used to trigger national polls. Although the Public Service Management Law says civil servants are expected to remain politically neutral in terms of their work, it doesn’t provide any real details defining political activity, or policies offering clear directions on the limits of participation.

The issue is gathering increased attention as a number of petitions are currently circulating in Cayman that could eventually be used to trigger a referendum. The question of the participation of public sector workers has been raised because of the significant number of voters that work directly for government or for public authorities.

Before the implementation of the PMSL (the new law that now governs public sector workers) and before the advancement of the constitution, the General Orders governed their conduct and that did prohibit civil servants from signing petitions.

In response to a Civil Service Association request in April 2008 the Chief Secretary’s Office issued orders saying civil servants could not take part in “any public demonstration or event that can be construed as objecting to any actions or proposals by the government of the day,” but this response did not refer to any particular statutory provisions.

“The Cayman Islands Civil Service deserves to be provided with clearly defined policies detailing any limitations or restrictions on their rights to freedom of expression and the freedom to be politically informed,” the constitutional commissioners have said with regards to their recent examination of the issue. “The commission recommends that the Head of the Civil Service meet with the Civil Service Association to formulate appropriate guidelines regarding involvement in political activities.”

The commissioners have called for details specifying the existing limitations, such as the prohibition on running for public office, as well as defining the nature of political activities contemplated by the PSML and addressing the current ambiguities.

In its latest findings the commission has pointed out that there is a balance to be found between the exercise of democratic values, such as freedom of expression, with the professional neutrality of a civil servant. However, the commissioners also note that restrictions on civil servants when it comes to participating in issues of national importance could undermine their democratic rights and freedom of expression which is held by all regardless of whether one works for government or not.

The commissioners also pointed out the potential different circumstances of the several thousand workers that had to be considered and the modernization of government, which is moving away from the past secretive method of governance.

“In practice, the relative power and influence of senior officials varies from government to government, and with the character and experience of the officials and their ministers,” the commissioners stated. “Modern developments, including freedom of information, less deferential media and more assertive citizens, are making the workings of government more open and transparent, moving away from the ethos of secrecy previously nurtured by the Official Secrets Act and General Orders. Other jurisdictions are actively promoting a more open sharing of governance issues and allowing more freedom for civil servants.”

The constitutional guardians also raised the issue of what type of public sector worker needs to be restricted from political activism as in some jurisdictions none of the restrictions on civil service political activism apply to workers lower down the pay grade.

Although more senior officers in the UK are restricted from holding office in a political party or making public speeches on matters of political controversy articles, canvassing for candidates or running for office, civil servants in the industrial and non-office grades are known as the “politically free” category and they can take part in all political activities.

The commissioners also found that in the UK there is discretion to permit other staff to take part in local or national political activities in accordance with prescribed guidelines. When the commissioners contacted the Scottish Parliament it confirmed that anyone, including civil servants, can both present and sign petitions.

“Having regard to the advancements made for more openness and transparency in a democratic society, it is now timely that the question of the level of involvement in political activity afforded to civil servants is clarified,” the commission stated, adding that the local context for Cayman was important but the size of the jurisdiction shouldn’t undermine the rights of civil servants to know where they stand.

“While it may be argued that the size of the jurisdiction is an important factor to be considered, it can also be argued that providing clear procedure and processes and promoting open, respectful communication is essential in establishing good governance no matter how large or small the populace is,” the commission stated.
 

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Ahmadinejad allies charged with sorcery

| 06/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Close allies of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been accused of using supernatural powers to further his policies amid an increasingly bitter power struggle between him and the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being "magicians" and invoking djinns (spirits). Ayandeh, an Iranian news website, described one of the arrested men, Abbas Ghaffari, as "a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds". The arrests come amid a growing rift between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei.

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Cayman celebrates World Athletics Day

| 06/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CIAA): In celebration of the 16th edition World Athletics Day (WAD), the Cayman Islands Athletic Association will be one of the IAAF Member Federations participating in this global Athletics Meet at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Friday May 13th at 6:00pm and Saturday May 14th at 9:00am.This Track & Field meet is opened to all schools, clubs and individuals, and will also serve as a qualifier for athletes preparing for upcoming regional and international competitions in the youth, junior and senior categories.

Age groups eligible to compete are: 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-17, and over 17.

Events being contested for World Athletics Day are: 100m Hurdles, 60m, 100m, 150m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 3000m, Long Jump, High Jump, Ball Throw, Shot Put, Discus and Javelin.

The CIAA also wishes to advise that this meet will be used as a qualifier for CAC Age Group Championships. There are two (2) age groups for CAC: 11- 12 and 13 – 14. This is a two (2) day meet and to qualify for this competition, athletes must compete in all events offered. These events will be held on both Friday and Saturday.

Events being contested for the CAC Age Group Championships are: 60m Hurdles, 80m Hurdles, 60m, 80m, 800m, 1000m, 1200m, Long Jump, High Jump, Ball Throw and Shot Put.

Registration forms are available below or by contacting Elizabeth Ibeh at 925-4763, Coach Williams at 925-1943, Coach Yen at 925-6917 or Coach Wason at 916-6966. Forms will also be available at Schools P.E. Departments. Completed registration forms should be returned to any of the above persons or emailed to caymanathletics@gmail.com.

Registration closes on Wednesday 11 May.

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‘UDP punishing students’

| 06/05/2011 | 37 Comments

(CNS):The current government is punishing the country’s high school students in its efforts to vilify him over his goal to develop state-of-the-art high schools, the former education minister has said. Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said the continued delay over the completion of the high schools, and in particular John Gray, was a political choice. Last week the current minister, Rolston Anglin, said he could not say with any certainty when the new George Town based high school would be finished as he did not know if government would have the money. However, McLaughlin described this as ‘a red herring’ and said it was nothing to do with money but simply a desire to use the schools as a weapon against him.

In the wake of the dispute with the original contractor, Tom Jones, Anglin had stated that government did have the money for the schools and that the dispute between government and the general contractor was down to mismanagement and not a financial problem as the contractor had claimed.

Nevertheless, since the negotiations with the UK over the three year plan to get public finances on track, the current education minister has been blaming the FCO for the lack of funding to finish the high schools.

McLaughlin said, however, that given that government had just drawn down on the $185 million loan and had begun other capital work projects it was obvious there was money but the schools were just not a priority for the UDP government . He said that the conditions at John Gray were “truly depressing” for the students, fuelling learning problems and anti-social behaviour. The opposition leader noted that it was in the interests of the students to provide them with proper learning environments but in order to “avoid monuments to Alden”, he said the government was deliberately stalling completing the schools and punishing the students as a result.

“The reality is completing the schools has never been a priority for the government,” he said. “The question they have asked themselves is do we spend money completing the high schools started by the last administration or pave people’s driving ways, build the Hurricane Hilton and start the primary school project instead.”

McLaughlin suggested that on top of the lack of political will to finish the schools, the dispute with the contractors, the introduction of a new project management team and sub-contractors as well as changes to the design have also caused delays and increased in costs.

The decision not to build kitchens, which were meant to serve the hurricane shelter as well as the school population, and bus food in instead also proved to be a poor decision, the opposition leaders said. Government is now adding stand alone kitchens to the sites, which he says may prove more costly that the so called gold plated kitchens which had been included in the original plans.

“All of this will no doubt be laid at my feet,” he said, as he addedwith a note of sarcasm, that he didn’t think there was a child even in Africa now that didn’t know he had ‘spent too much money on the schools’ trying to provide better learning environments for the children in Cayman.

The important issue, however, the opposition leader noted, was that two years on the government was further away from the opening dates of the schools than when he had left office last May and the country still had no date for when the schools would be finished. McLaughlin said it was almost a certainty that John Gray would not be finished before the current government’s term in office was up in May 2013 and he suspected that if there was a way to avoid the opening of Clifton Hunter before then the government would do so.

The aim of “continuing to beat me up with the schools”, he said, was leading to government missing the crucial point that in order to improve educational standards and better outcomes for the country’s students they needed schools which are conducive to learning. “We should get on and give our kids an opportunity to do well,” he added.

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Trippers pick Cayman for top Caribbean destination

| 06/05/2011 | 22 Comments

(CNS): The tourism industry has received another welcome boost this week with the Cayman Islands being voted the number one travel destination in the Caribbean by TripAdvisor travellers. The news comes on the heels of arrival statistics that reveal both air and cruise visitors are on the increase, despite recent downtown closures of restaurants. Premier and Tourism Minister McKeeva Bush said he was delighted as the Trip Advisor awards are based on more than 10 million real and unbiased traveller reviews. He added that it was particularly encouraging and showed that visitors leave Cayman extremely satisfied with their vacation experience.

“In addition to being selected as the number one travel destination in Caribbean and Mexico category, the Cayman Islands is the only Caribbean country listed in the top 25 destinations in the world, which is extremely gratifying and exciting,” the premier said.

According to the TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Destinations Awards 2011 Cayman was touted for its pristine beaches, exciting attractions, plush accommodations, delicious dining options, and caymankind approach to life.

“We are delighted to have been chosen by travellers in this poll,” commented Shomari Scott, Acting Director of Tourism. “Winning an accolade of this calibre is a huge testament to the beauty, quality and service that visitors experience when they visit our islands. This award highlights how special our beach and resort community are, and we are thrilled that the Cayman Islands have received this international recognition.”

TripAdvisor.com represents the world’s largest travel community The Travellers' Choice Destinations Awards honour the world's top destinations, earning their distinction from those who know them best – real travellers. The winners are determined by a combination of TripAdvisor's travellers' favourite places and the destination’s overallpopularity on the popular travel review website. 

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Call goes out for royal gong nominations

| 06/05/2011 | 44 Comments

(CNS): Members of the public are being invited to submit nominations to Governor, Duncan Taylor ahead of the New Year royal gongs for 2012. Nominations must be received by Friday 20 May. As usual, nominations must be supported by persuasive accounts about why the individual is deserving of being included in the Queen’s New Year Honours. Nominees must have made outstanding, innovative or self-sacrificingachievements and services, paid or unpaid, in one field or several. Nominators should explain what has raised them above others performing similar services. It is stressed that for any of the awards, long service is not enough.

The final recommendations for OBEs and MBEs are considered in the United Kingdom but recommendations for the Certificate and Badge of Honour are considered locally.

Honours nomination forms can be requested by e-mail from Jacqueline.Hennings@gov.ky. Copies can also be found on the governor’s office website (www.ukincayman.fco.gov.uk).

Nominators are asked to make every effort to fully complete all the relevant sections. Once completed, the forms should be submitted, under confidential cover, to the Governor’s Office. While all recommendations will be acknowledged, the Governor’s Office cannot enter into correspondence about the action taken on them.

For any further information please contact the Governor’s Office on 244 2402.

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Children’s vision

| 06/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(LIONS):Eighty percent of what children learn before the age of 12 comes through their eyes. Now that’s worthy of contemplation. We know that one in four school-aged children has an undiagnosed vision problem that interferes with the learning process. The quality of that learning process influences the individual’s entire life, for one has to learn in order to earn later in life. It is recommended that all children should experience their first eye exam by the age of three. We know that many abnormalities can be corrected if uncovered early in life.

The chance of functional cure for strabismus and amblyopia is diminished once the eye reaches formative maturity at age six or seven. That is not to say that the eye does not continue to grow after that stage, in fact the eye continues to change throughout life, but the neurological pattern is set early on.

Yearly checkups after age three are recommended to uncover problems that may arise as the eye grows. The importance of uncovering vision abnormalities is taken so seriously in the United States that most States have laws that require all children receive a full eye exam before they enter school

Conditions that require early detection are the following:

MYOPIA or “near sightedness” which is a condition of the eye in which images are formed in front of the retina making distance objects appear blurred. This condition can increase until the age of 18 to 22 years.
HYPEROPIA or “farsightedness” is a refractive error in which the image forms behind the retina. Depending on the degree of error and age the individual can see clearly at both distance and near through a process of accommodation or “focusing”, which results in eye strain, making school work difficult. It is known that a high percentage of high school drop out are Hyperopes.
STRABISMUS or “cross eyes” is a condition in which the two eyes fail to align simultaneously under normal conditions preventing binocular vision, resulting in double vision. 2 percent of children under the age of three and 3 percent of older people have strabismus.
AMBLYOPIA or “lazy eye” is reduced vision in an eye that has not received adequate stimulation during early childhood. Amblyopia can be caused by either a misalignment of the eyes (Strabismus) or a difference in image quality between the eyes ( refractive error). One eye gets stronger while the other is suppressed. 2 to 3 percent of people suffer this condition.
CONVERGENCE INSUFICIANCY is the condition in which the ability to maintain binocular function while working at a near distance is compromised. All of these conditions need to be addressed as early in life as possible, to facilitate functional corrections.

Besides annual eye exams there are other considerations that need to be addressed to insure the health and well being of eyes.
– Proper nutrition is essential.
– Computer use needs to be limited with “time out” breaks – we know that sustained computer work can result in a pseudo-myopia, eyestrain, and headaches. Glare screens can be a big help in avoiding discomfort.
– Proper refractive correction and lighting in the homework area is essential; this too avoids discomfort.
-Protective eye wear while active in sports. The Vision Council of America says that 90 percent of sports-related eye injuries could have been prevented by wearing protective eyewear. Need we say more?
– Sun protection, not only cuts glare, but ultra violet rays as well. Glare and ultra violet contribute to the formation of cataractsand pterygiums later in life, glare discomfort and headaches. Quality sun wear is highly recommended

Visual impairment is associated with developmental delays and the need for special
educational, vocational and social needs.

This is the very reason that the Lions Club of Grand Cayman teams up with all vision care specialists on the Island, to facilitate vision screening in every school each year. Having doctors conduct the screenings affords many abnormalities to be uncovered that would otherwise not be detected until a full exam takes place.
There are few if any other children in the world that receives this kind of attention. It is vastly disappointing that a great number of parents and guardians choose to ignore the free advice they receive from the results of these screenings.

 

 

 

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Insurers hedges against claims with free alarms

| 06/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Although police have announced a fall in crime again for the first third of 2011, one local insurance firm is hoping to reduce crime and claims further by offering customers free alarms. With many people still very concerned about crime, Cayman First Insurance said it is taking a proactive approach to help their customers feel safe in their homes. The company said all residential clients will be offered a free basic alarm system through The Security Centre with each renewal or new home insurance policy. “Through partnership with The Security Centre, we are pleased to offer our clients this extra protection,” said Michael Gayle, General Manager of Cayman First. “Our clients are important to us and so is their safety.”

For individuals to be eligible for a free basic alarm system they must either sign up or renew their Cayman First Home Insurance Policy through Cayman First or their insurance broker. This facility will also be extended to residents in any strata complex which is insured by Cayman First.

Customer will be given a gift certificate retail valued at $499 CI to be redeemed at The Security Centre Limited towards an alarm system. “We’re happy to be working with Cayman First on this promotion and commend them for taking the initiative when it comes to protecting their clients,” says Frank Brennan, Vice President of Operations at TSCL.

Clients can contact the security firm to arrange a safety inspection to select an alarm system. The firm said that there is a two year minimum period for maintenance and monitoring through centre which representatives of the firm said provides extra piece of mind. If your alarm goes off, The Security Centre Monitoring Station is notified and they call you to make sure everything is okay and will call the police in an emergency. “We recommend that all of our clients monitor their security system and Cayman First clients are no different. It’s like having someone else watching over and protecting your home,” Brennan added.

For more information on this program you can contact Cayman First on 949-7028 or www.caymanfirst.com or The Security Centre on 949-0004 or www.security.ky

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DER in push to improve workplace safety

| 06/05/2011 | 4 Comments

(CNS): The Department of Employment Relations is making efforts to improve health and safety at work across the country with its occupational health training. Since July 2010 it has conducted two workshops on Cayman Brac and 18 on Grand Cayman. In total 132 individuals have passed through the training, but the department wants to see more people sign up. The workers from both public and private sector entities have taken part to improve their own knowledge and take it back to their work places to share with colleagues. However, the more people that go through the training the less accidents there will be. Officials say the OSH workshops better prepare participants to prevent accidents and correct unsafe practices in work environments.

Speaking at the most recent graduation ceremony for people who had completed the workshop, Employment Minister Rolston Anglin said, “It shouldn’t take an accident or fatality for us to recognise the value of this training,” as he encouraged the graduates to recruit more people to attend the workshops.

Cayman Islands Airports Authority employee Sean Lewison said the workshops were informative. “Every contractor should participate in this training,” he said. “Since completing the course I’ve been able to correct some unsafe practices even around my own home.”

Complaint’s Commissioner Nicola Williams also attended with three of her staff members. “I’m happy as Complaints Commissioner to endorse the course because it’s a part of government that’s demonstrating good practice, and that’s something both I and my office personally wish to support,” she said. “The DER managed to cram a lot of in-depth information into a short time-frame and we’d all recommend that others, especially those responsible for the health and safety of colleagues, should register for the course as well.”

Eight Cayman Brackers also participated in the workshops and Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor Connolly said she hoped the DER course would be a template for future cooperation in training efforts between Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands.

Each course runs for ten hours over two days and includes an introduction to Part 8 of the Labour Law (2007 Revision); lessons on accident investigation, job hazard recognition and analysis; personal protective equipment; electrical and fire safety; fall protection; cranes and rigging, and materials handling, storage, use and disposal.

Additional Grand Cayman workshops are scheduled for 23-24 and 30-31 May. Training is recommended for all construction workers. For details, call Gene Hydes on 945-3114 and 244-7008, or email him at Gene.Hydes@gov.ky.

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Teens face attempted murder

| 06/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police have charged two would-be teen robbers with attempted murder following an incident at Grand Harbour on Monday. The men, aged 17 and 18, are expected in court on Friday morning and cops revealed Thursday evening the list of charges the two will face in the wake of a botched robbery of Blackbeard’s liquor store. Police have charge them with two counts of attempted robbery, possession of unlicensed firearm, assault ABH, and possession of a prohibited weapon as well as attempted murder. The suspects were thwarted in their attempts to rob the store with a loaded shotgun when staff would not open the cash register. Theywere then confronted by members of the public outside the store as they attempted to flee.

An altercation then took place when the robbers attempted to rob the men outside the shop and used pepper spray when the witnesses refused their demands before running away. They were chased, however, by the three local men — Charles Ebanks, Edward Azan and Ray MacGuire — who have since been lauded as heroes. The local men caught up with the would-be teen robbers and reportedly used force on the teenagers to hold them until police arrived a few minutes after the robbery was reported.
 

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