Archive for May 20th, 2011

CS costs delay budget

| 20/05/2011 | 239 Comments

(CNS): Government has revealed that delivery of the budget for the next financial year has been delayed yet again as a result of the UK querying civil service costs. A statement released from the premier’s office on Friday evening said that even though the government’s budget position has improved, the British government had asked for additional time to review the proposed 2011-2012 financial plan due to be brought to the Legislative Assembly on Monday. “The main area of scrutiny is personnel costs which the CI government does not want to cut further,” the statement read. However, the UK has said that the present personnel costs of the local civil service are unsustainable.

Thishas resulted in the Budget Address being delayed for additional review time by the UK and just the throne speech will now be delivered on Monday when the LA re-opens for the Budget meeting. McKeeva Bush said he could not now bring the budget until it has the approval of the UK as it is insisting that spending on public secoremployees be reduced.

“We won’t cut back on salaries and benefits,” the premier said. As a result, other areas must be found where cuts can be made to gain the approval of the UK Government for the budget and more time is needed to do this, Bush added.

The premier again pointed to the loans that his government has taken to fund the new schools and the government administration building, started by the previous PPM administration and other expenditures that he said had caused an $81 million recurrent expenditure deficit and a $120 million capital deficit in 2009.

However, the UK has apparently focused on the personnel costs, which the FCO has said needs further scrutiny.

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Accused denies killing Forbes

| 20/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Lorenzo Wright pleaded not guilty on Friday to the manslaughter of Jack Forbes at a shopping plaza in Bodden Town last year. Wright is one of two men charged with the killing of the 49-year-old Bodden Town man, who was reportedly beaten to death in October. Steve Brown, who was also originally charged with murderfor the killing has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but Wright is now set to face trial in July. Forbes’ body was discovered by paramedics at the Plazza Odessa at around 6:20 in the evening of Friday 1 October. The victim had sustained numerous injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Forbes had been released from Northward prison shortly before he was killed after serving some ten years on a manslaughter charge for the killing of Steve Watler in May 2000.

Witnesses at the time reported that Forbes appeared to have been the victim of a systematic attack by several people.

Police arrested four people in the wake of the incident but eventually charged just two men, Wright (20) and Brown (35). Following the reduction of the charges from murder to manslaughter, Brown pleaded guilty and will face sentencing later this year. However, although the charges against Wright were also reduced to manslaughter from murder, Wright has denied the killing and opted to face trial.

Following his plea today, Wright was bailed to return to court for trial on 18 July.

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Special needs projects receive education awards

| 20/05/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Two education initiatives help those with special needs walked away with $6000 each last weekend at the 2011 Joanna Clarke Excellence in Education Award (JCA), sponsored by DMS. This year’s winners were Catch Up Cayman which helps young people who are underachieving because of literacy challenges and the Speech and Language Therapy Department for its training assistance programme Making Hanen Happen whichtrains and support parents of children with language delays.  The award not only assists in funding the initiatives but also helps raise awareness about the efforts, encouraging further private sector support.

Catch Up Literacy requested funding to continue its programme which seeks to address the problem of underachievement that is often rooted in literacy and numeracy challenges. In 2010 literacy coaches underwent training to offer the programme which is based on a proven literacy model that enables and supports the sustainable use and embedding of the Catch Up Cayman intervention for ‘at risk’ students across Cayman’s public schools.

JCA Committee Member Tara Tvedt said Catch up Cayman was selected because of the ‘train the trainer’ aspect which offers sustainability to the project.  “Going forward there will be no requirement to hire trainers from the UK foundation, and thus the programme becomes self sustainable.  In addition, the organization has already identified and recruited local volunteers from organizations such as Rotary International and the Pink Ladies who would like to be trained as facilitators, and thus it also demonstrates the criteria ‘to contribute to community involvement in education,” she said.

The Speech and Language Therapy Department sought funding to set up a training assistance programme intended to train and support parents and caregivers of children with language delays to understand how they can assist with language development. Parents and caregivers will undergo a 12-week training programme to become language facilitators and understand how to maximize children’s daily routines, even playtimes.

DMS Vice President and a JCA Committee Member Krista Pell said it was selected largely because the programme is centered on community as well as parental involvement, with the training being offered to parents and caregivers alike. “Making Hanen Happen is an outstanding programme that encourages participation at an active level with a variety of children to combat language delays, and we are proud to do our part to support them,” sheadded.

Joanna Clarke, said it was inspiring to see how many educators were striving for improvement in the education system.  “There is great opportunity for funding from the private sector to help drive even greater success stories,” the former educator stated.
The other finalists recognized at the ceremony and their proposed initiatives included Early Years Task Force for its Preschool Educational and Training Assistance Programme; the School Counselor’s Group to provide guidance counseling; and the Harmony Learning Centre for its Towards Independence Programme.

The silent auction raised additional proceeds for the Joanna Clarke Scholarship Fund which added to ticket sales equaled an impressive $4,000.DMS President, and a former student of Ms. Clarke’s, Don Seymour said the firm remained committed to building the community through donations, sponsorship and volunteer efforts. “This award is one that we cherish and hold in the highest regard as it brings to the forefront so many deserving education initiatives that require the support of the private sector to be successful. We commend all applicants on their endeavours to provide invaluable opportunities for Cayman’s people to capitalize on their skills and talents, and DMS looks forward to continuing to do our part to help them succeed in their mission,” Seymour said.

For further information on the Joanna Clarke Excellence in Education Award visit www.joannaclarkeaward.ky. 

 

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Unemployment climbed close to 7% in 2010

| 20/05/2011 | 23 Comments

(CNS): Preliminary labour results from the 2010 National Census have revealed that unemployment climbed to 6.7% during 2010 as a result of the slump in the local economy. Despite the fact that the size of the workforce shrank a greater decline in the demand for labour resulted in a higher rate of unemployment than in 2009. The report, by the Economics and Statistics Office said the total Cayman Islands work force stood at 35,859 people in 2010 compared to 36,000 the year before. Of these, 33,463 were employed compared to 33,920 in 2009. The unemployed totalled 2,396 in 2010 compared to 2,180 in 2009, resulting in an increase by 9.9% and an overall spike in the unemployment rate.

“The results on the labour force indicate the need for continued efforts to create economic opportunities that would benefit the workforce,” the Premier and Finance Minister, McKeeva Bush, said in the wake of the results release, Friday.

The number of people in jobs fell by 1.3 percent in 2010 while the employment rate fell to 92.3 percent in 2010 from 93 percent in 2009.

The ESO did not conduct its annual labour survey last year as a result of the national census. However, the census did cover labour and employment issues enabling the office to produce a preliminary report on the workforce for the 2010 calendar year. This preliminary report comes ahead of the fullreport that is to be published with the complete Census
at the end of this year.

The census which was conducted in October and November last year revealed the local population 54,397 of those 43,855 are aged over fifteen and considered to be of working age. However 7,996 of those are not in the labour force leaving a total population of possible workers of 35,859.

The Cayman Islands’ Preliminary 2010 Labour Force Report is available at www.eso.ky or can be viewed below
 

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UCCI president receives award from old college

| 20/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Roy Bodden, the president of the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI), was back at his alma mater last weekend where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2011 at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.  A former member of the faculty at UCCI, and classmate of Bodden’s at Trent, Dr. Tom Phillips, introduced Bodden to more than a hundred guests at Trent University’s Alumni Awards dinner.  A former Cayman Brac High School student was also there who will soon be heading to Hong Kong as an intern thanks to another former Trent classmate of Bodden and Phillips’.

Justin Chui, the Executive Director of the Hong Kong-based, multinational real estate development firm, Cheung Kong Holdings has created two summer internships opportunities in Hong Kong for Trent students.  One of this year’s interns is Bracker Shalico Christian who was also a former student at UCCI and who is about to enter the final year of his Bachelor of Business Administration degree program at Trent University. 


Photo left to right Shalico Christian, Tom Phillips, Roy Bodden, and Justin Chiu.
 

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The manipulation of Christ

| 20/05/2011 | 222 Comments

Pagans, infidels, and blasphemers are usually (dis)credited for supporting what some consider to be the detrimental, offensive, and at most extreme sacrilegious, doctrine of separation of church and state. In Cayman we point north to the United States as an example of what happens to a nation when “God” is taken out of the decision making systems of a government.

The US is the political version of the cautionary tales of our youth as political leaders will not fail to tell us that such would be our fate should we choose to embrace said concept.

What then is one to make of the believer who supports said doctrine, not because of the assumed “allowances” that it makes for immoral but not illegal actions on the part of politicians, but instead out of a sense of protection, respect and true deference to something that is so personal and sacred as one’s faith?

It has become more commonplace for people in our Islands to refer to our “Christian” nation while pointing out the numerous shortcomings and contradictions which are becoming more blatant as social unrest grows and meaningful strategies to combat this trend are nowhere in sight.

The word“Christian” and references to “Christian principles” are said with utter disdain, as the hypocrisy of the reality of Cayman and this self-imposed sense of grand moral and ethical standing drips from our mouths as it sours our tongues and our hearts in the face of so much lip service and so little Christian-like action.

We are told that our Christian heritage is under attack by these “outside influences” who wish to take Cayman and its people away from its “roots” and “God-fearing” ways.

The truth is that Cayman’s Christian heritage IS under attack and in many ways we have already lost our roots. The uncomfortable second half of that reality is that the culprits are not outsiders but the very people who profess their “godly” ways to any and all who will listen.

The very “Christians” who will choose to evoke Jesus and His teachings by quoting scripture as fuel at political rallies, those who use their faith as justification without reason or thought for decisions and comments made at the Legislative Assembly, and most recently those who will bring their Sunday fervor to the courtroom as a distraction and a LEGAL TACTIC; these are the people making a mockery of their “beloved” faith.

Christianity is the smoke and mirrors to divert attention from the issue at hand. Call on the Lord enough times, sing enough songs, make enough references to the external forces of evil and poof: crisis averted.

There are those within our political leadership who will go as far as talk about their trials and tribulations, their personal persecutions, the victimisation which they have suffered, all the while drawing imagery from the crucifixion of Christ as if there was a parallel between being a politician in Cayman in the 21st century and the Christian Savior who was nailed to a cross.

It begs the question: how are these actions NOT offensive to Christians? If we are to believe that the majority of our people believe the story of Jesus to be the truth, share this faith and its values, how is it that they have not joined forces to decry these truly sacrilegious comparisons?

“Politicians will be politicians, and will use whatever tool they can to gain support, further their cause, and fill their pockets.” That is the argument which we will make in an effort to explain or justify this behaviour, though it is completely contrary to those values which they so vehemently proclaim to hold. In that way, even though we would like to hold ourselves to higher standards, Cayman is like every country in the world.

What then of the lack of acknowledgment, much less response, on the part of our moral leadership on this clear manipulation of Christian doctrine?

One’s inner pagan will guffaw at the question given the churches’ own sordid history with the manipulation of Christian doctrine, but let us put our scepticism aside (how jaded our lot) and acknowledge that there are churches who are undertaking their God given missions. How much more disturbing is the perception that the churches’ silence on this matter has been bought by the patronage, now called “nation building”, of these same individuals?

If the hope was, from the church perspective, that the lack of separation would assist in maintaining the churches’ influence on the government and as such keep our nation from “straying” from the Christian path, then perhaps now they can see just how clearly mistaken they were. In fact, turn on the radio and listen to truly concerned believers talking about the undue influence that politicians have on their places of worship – with some even claiming that certain individuals “own” particular churches.

Christianity in Cayman has been reduced to currency. It opens doors, it assists in making transactions, it gives you facetime with the “right” people, it gives you a job, and it certainly gets you votes.

Like currency, Christianity is recognised to have worth within our community, but whether it is of any actual value to the individual who spews said doctrine in every occasion is questionable at best.

If Christians continue to condone this manipulation of their faith in the most prominent and visible stage (nationally and internationally), then their beliefs will continue to play an unflattering and antiquated leading role in the circus which has become our political arena, and thus will continue to be fair game in the criticisms and observations about the failings of our society. After all, if the believers of a particular faith fail to respect it, why should those outside of it act any differently?

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Banished Chagos islanders still want to return

| 20/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): Whatever joy Bernadette Dugasse felt about returning to the island she last saw as a toddler 52 years ago shrivelled the moment she saw the remnants of the coconut plantation. "There was nothing there. It was all gone – only the big house where the manager used to live is there. And the church and the prison," she said. "I felt sad and depressed as if I wanted to shout, but I just cried." The scene behind the white-painted walls of the plantation house was bleakerstill. "Inside it was filthy and disgusting and broken everywhere. The roof is coming off, the kitchen is rusted and broken and there's an old broken wardrobe in there. You have to be careful where you put your feet otherwise you might have an accident.The chapel was filthy with pigeon poo."

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Scientists aim to create coral reef sperm bank

| 20/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and partnering organizations intend to create a frozen repository of Great Barrier Reef coral sperm and embryonic cells, a release from the institute has revealed. Genetic banks composed of frozen biomaterials hold strong promise for research and conservation of species and genetic variation. Scientists said that because the banked cells are alive, researchers can thaw the frozen material one, 50 or, in theory, even 1,000 years from now to help restore a species or diversify a population. Over time experts hope frozen samples can be reared and placed back into ecosystems to infuse new genes into natural populations.

“It is crucial that we begin ex situ conservation on coral reefs while their genetic diversity is still high,” said Mary Hagedorn, a marine biologist at SCBI. “Although we hope we’ll never need to use these banks, the cost of not doing this work and subsequently losing valuable diversity and resources is too high.”

Hagedorn recently created the first frozen repositories for endangered elkhorn coral, Acropora palmate, and Hawaiian mushroom coral, Fungia scutari. Researchers have used these repositories to fertilize fresh coral eggs. SCBI is joining with organizations in the United States and Australia, including the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Monash University and the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, to freeze sperm and embryonic cells from the Great Barrier Reef’s staghorn coral, A. millepora.

Coral reefs are living, dynamic ecosystems that provide invaluable services: they act as nursery grounds for marine fish and invertebrates, provide natural storm barriers for coastlines, purify carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and are potential sources for undiscovered pharmaceuticals. Yet coral reefs are disappearing rapidly as the result of pollution from industrial waste, sewage, chemicals, oil spills, fertilizers, runoff and sedimentation from land, climate change, acidification and destructive fishing practices.

Researchers believe that coral reefs and the marine creatures that rely on them may die off within the next 50 to 100 years, causing the first global extinction of a worldwide ecosystem in current history. According to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, coral reefs generate up to $30 billion of the global economy each year, with more than $1 billion going to the Australian economy.

“The Great Barrier Reef is iconic and of vast importance in terms of biological diversity and species richness,” Hagedorn said. “A frozen repository will help ensure its incredible diversity and prevent future extinctions.”

While scientists have successfully used frozen sperm from coral to fertilize fresh coral eggs, their next focus is on developing techniques to use frozen coral embryonic cells to help restore coral populations. This research will play a large role in helping to conserve the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches 1,800 miles along the Queensland coast of Australia and includes the world’s largest collection of corals.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute serves as an umbrella for the Smithsonian Institution’s global effort to understand and conserve species and train future generations of conservationists. Headquartered in Front Royal, Va., SCBI facilitates and promotes research programs based at Front Royal, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide.

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Election investigation closed

| 20/05/2011 | 85 Comments

(CNS):Two years after it was opened, the RCIPS has now confirmed that the investigation into voting irregularities at polling booths on General Election Day in May 2009 has been closed. A police spokesperson said that no charges would be brought as there was “insufficient evidence” to support them. The investigation was started as a result of reports first made at the George Town Primary School polling station that some UDP supporters were handing out small slips or cards to voters directing them to vote for the four UDP candidates running in the capital’s district. As handing out any material that could be seen as influencing a voter on the Election Day itself is illegal, the police were asked to investigate.

Reports of irregularities were also made at polling stations in Prospect and West Bay, which, it was confirmed at the time by the Elections Office, suggested some political party volunteers may have been attempting to unduly influence voters. Election officials also reported that some voters had gone inside the polling stations holding the cards, and when asked where they came from, they indicated that they had just been given to them outside by UDP representatives.

Field agents representing other candidates in the area as well as voters and other candidates, including PPM George Town representative Alden McLaughlin, all said they had seen the cards, which were the size of a normal business card.

Furhter allegations were made by a number of observers that it was some of the George Town candidates themselves who had given the cards to their representatives at the tent to hand out to voters as they arrived. Election officials and the police were called to the polling station and an election office base was establishedby the election agent’s tents.

At the time Jonathan Piercy, one of the UDP’s four George Town candidates, said the accusations were merely hearsay and there was no proof that any had been given out by their people on Election Day as the cards had been in circulation for about a week.

Although candidates from both parties and the independents are allowed by law to have their representatives near the polling stations on Election Day, it is illegal to campaign or influence voters in anyway.

According to Section 92 (3) of the Elections Law, on polling day candidates are not allowed to publish any printed material which invites or induces the public to vote for a particular candidate or group of candidates and anyone contravening this section is liable to a fine of up to $500 or six months in prison. The question of undue influence, however, could also give rise to a more serious question of whether the vote and ultimately the result would be unfairly influenced.

Following the election in the first sitting of the new parliament on 27 May, Alden McLaughlin, a member for George Town who is now opposition leader, said he had seen the cards being given out.

“I sat in my car and asked a supporter of ours to attend the UDP tent, where she was handed (this) card with the four UDP candidates and their numbers and she was encouraged to vote for these four,” he said showing one of the cards to his legislative colleagues. “This is a pre-printed card, a clear indication of an organised effort to influence voters. We have a duty as candidates … to be sure that this kind of behaviour does not creep in and undermine the election processes.”

McLaughlin did state, however, that he did not believe the cards had necessarily impacted the vote.

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Ex IMF boss released on million dollar bail

| 20/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(AP) : Lawyers arguing whether ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn should get out of jail while he awaits trial on attempted rape charges have used two famous examples from different sides of the spectrum to make their case — Roman Polanski and Bernard Madoff. Prosecutors brought up Polanski, the French filmmaker whom U.S. authorities pursued for decades after he jumped bail in a 1977 child sex case. Defense lawyers have mentioned Bernard Madoff, the financier who was freed on high bail and strict house arrest, the same conditions that a judge approved Thursday in a bail package for Strauss-Kahn.


The onetime potential French presidential contender is charged with sexually attacking a New York City hotel maid. He denies the allegations. After Strauss-Kahn spent nearly a week in police custody and then jail, the judge agreed to free him on $1 million cash bail plus an additional $5 million bond — provided he's confined to a New York apartment, under armed guard and electronic monitoring.

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