Archive for October 24th, 2011

Mozzies facing aerial chemical attack

| 24/10/2011 | 25 Comments

(CNS): The Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) will be commencing a new low-level aerial operation this week in order to launch a full frontal attack on the pesky local mosquito as it comes towards the end of the insect’s season. The MRCU will be dispersing larvicidal Altosid pellets into stagnant water, the prime breeding sites for certain mosquitoes throughout Grand Cayman’s swamp areas. The pellets once wet will release a chemical for several months at a time which will kill mosquito larvae emerging from hatched eggs. Government officials said the larvicide is EPA approved and doesn’t present a threat to humans, pets or wildlife.

The MRCU’s custom designed Ayers Turbo Thrush aircraft, fitted with precise equipment and on-board navigational system will provide accurate placement of the pellets into the swamps

“This type of application provides long-term control,” the MRCU unit stated. “The amount of mosquitoes hatching will be significantly reduced which means there will be fewer mosquitoes to lay eggs back into the swamp, reducing the subsequent number of eggs in those areas. This type of control not only lessens the nuisance of biting mosquitoes, but also reduces the need for adulticiding spray chemicals to be applied later.”

The daytime campaign in Grand Cayman should be completed within a couple of weeks and officials stated that the  operation will then shift to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman where a similar campaign last year proved highly successful.

MRCU scientists will monitor the application’s effectiveness on the ground throughout the operations.

For further information or enquiries please contact the MRCU Main Office on 949-2557.

 

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Auditor defends disclosure

| 24/10/2011 | 21 Comments

(CNS): The process by which the auditor general releases his reports to the people came under attack from the premier and the three government members of the Public Accounts Committee on Friday but Alistair Swarbrick defended the need to disclose his reports as soon as possible. This is not the first time that government members have said the reports should remain under wraps until the PAC has sat and some members of the committee have publicly declared their support to have the reports remain confidential until witnesses have been called and PAC submits its own view of the auditor’s work. This time the call came during the PAC witness hearing in connection with a recent report using the Cohen Loan as a case study.

Both McKeeva Bush and Peter Young refuted several elements of the report as they answered questions, mostly from the government members, which drove the three UDP backbenchers who make up the majority of the committee to conclude that the reports should no longer be released to the public before PAC has had its say.

Bush and Young appeared as witnesses before the PAC in connection with an auditor general’s report in which the Cohen loan was presented as a case study in Swarbrick’s assessment of the problems relating to government’s management of the procurement process. Cohen and Co was the company which the premier had opted to do business with for government’s $155 million loan last year, controversially circumventing the tendering process. The deal was cancelled, however, as the promised savings never materialized but not before the public purse had suffered a loss of around $450,000.

In the wake of calls not to allow reports such as this in the public domain until after the PAC had completed its research, the auditor general said that in the interest of public transparency the reports from his office should be in the public domain at the earliest opportunity once they were published. He pointed out that the reports were not simply released without any consultation as they were cleared by all the stakeholders for comment.

As he denied any wrongdoing on his part in the Cohen deal, Bush, however, criticised the auditor general for the language he had used in his reports about procurement, saying he did not appreciate the phraseology and when placed in the public domain the media were placing a negative spin on the findings. He said the auditor general’s reports should not be placed in the public domain until those being criticised were given a chance to put their side.

“It is unfair for people to get smeared before they can defend themselves,” the premier said as he suggested that the only people who would support the reports being released before the PAC had an opportunity to scrutinize them were scandalmongers and people who were suggesting that “something nefarious” was going on.

Peter Young also refuted parts of the report, saying he was never the premier’s advisor during the process and had never done any analysisof the proposals, as the UDP party treasurer sought to distance himself from the proposal and the premier’s controversial decision to bypass the tendering.

Young said that after he had offered to get Cohen involved and got the agreement of the premier to approach them, he had forwarded the firm’s proposal to the financial secretary then had no further dealings with the matter. He told the committee that he was very familiar with Cohen and had done business with them before. Young told the committee that he was friendly with their principals but he had not received any fee or monetary gain as a result of the introduction. He said he took exception to being named in the report as an advisor or that he had undertaken any analysis in connection with the proposal as this was not true.

The three government members, who picked up on the denials made by the witnesses and took aim at the auditor general (who stood by the content of his reports) and seized the moment to again suggest that the process of release of all his office’s reports should be re-examined and the public circulation of them delayed until witnesses got a chance to give their side of the story.

Dwayne Seymour said the “incorrect and inefficient reports” should not be going into the public domain as every time they came to PAC the members heard “a different spin” on them. The sentiment of his comments were echoed by Cline Glidden and Ellio Solomon, despite the latter’s outrage in the past, when he was a radio talk show host and before the policy was changed, that the auditor’s reports had been kept out of public sight until after the PAC had met.

Swarbrick told the committee members that he supported openness and transparency and it would be a retrograde step to withhold his reports. He said he would not support any move to see the reports held back from the public. The auditor general said it was a key aspect of good governance and democracy that the independent audit office control the publication of its own reports and that they were cleared with the people involved for factual accuracy.

PAC chair Moses Kirkconnell said that the issue had been discussed previously but did not state during the hearing whether he supported returning to the old policy of keeping the reports secret until PAC had called witnesses. Under the current policy the reports are released to the public a few days after each member of the Legislative Assembly has received a copy.

Kirkconnell recently told CNS that he did not think it would be useful to withhold the reports as the timeliness of the release of the auditor’s work to the public was important. However, he said he hoped that the PAC would be able to meet, call witnesses and deal with the reports as quickly as possible.

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Cops search for two robbers

| 24/10/2011 | 6 Comments

(CNS): The police have confirmed that although two men were arrested on suspicion of robbery in the wake of Saturday night’s armed hold up of a Chinese Restaurant in George Town they have since been released on bail. Police said investigations in to the robbery at China Village at around 8:20pm are on-going and have released descriptions of the two suspects. An RCIPS spokesperson said the first masked man is described as 6’1”in height, armed with what appeared to be a handgun, wearing black clothing, yellow gloves and spoke with a Caymanian accent. The second suspect was shorter that the first, wearing black clothing including a coat of silk appearance and a handkerchief mask. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

No shots were fired and no one was injured during the incident police did not say how they made their escape. 

Anyone who was in the area at the relevant time on Saturday evening who has any information regarding the crime, or who saw anyone answering the descriptions of the suspects, should call George Town Police station on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line on 949-7777, or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477 (TIPS).

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St Lucia ranked best in Caribbean for business

| 24/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): According to a new report from the World Bank St Lucia is the best place in the Caribbean region to do business. The report 2012 Doing Business report ranked the country at 52 in the world for the ease of doing business and tops in the region followed by Antigua and Barbuda at 57th and Dominica at 65th.  Haiti was the lowest-ranked country in CARICOM when it came to how easy it is to do business, ahead of Suriname.  Among the top Caribbean countries were Trinidad, which was ranked 68th, and Grenada, which came in at 73rd. Jamaica was listed at 88th place but was top in the Caribbean to start a business, according to the report, followed by Dominica.

See the full report which did not assess overseas territories here

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Rina becomes hurricane as it passes SW of Cayman

| 24/10/2011 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Updated — Situated some 195 miles to the southwest of the Cayman Islands Hurricane Rina was still packing winds of more than 75mph on Monday afternoon as it passed south of Cayman. Moving at only 3mph weather experts at the National Hurricane Centre in Mimai said additional strengthening was expected soon. As anticipated the hurricane turned west-northwest mid afternoon and although Rina is more than 80 miles away from Cayman forecasters said it could bring around four inches of rain to the local area as it passes by. Huricane winds extend outward some 15 miles from the centre while tropical force winds extend some 115 miles out.

Rina is now expected to turn further toward the west later today and with additional strengthening over the next 48 hours it is forecast to become a major hurricane by late Tuesday.

Local residents are urged to keep watch on local weather forecasts and to prepare for flooding in low lying areas as the rainy weather is expected to continue through into Wednesday afternoon.

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Jamaica’s new PM vows to tackle garrison politics

| 24/10/2011 | 5 Comments

(Jamaica Observer): Andrew Michael Holness was sworn in as Jamaica's ninth and youngest prime minister, yesterday and immediately placed at the top of his agendathe dismantling of political garrisons — a moving target for many politicians — and the country's ballooning debt. Immediately after taking stewardship of the Government, Holness wasted no time getting down to business as he told the hundreds in attendance at his swearing-in ceremony at King's House in St Andrew that he has now taken direction of the country.

Holness, who has disputed claims that his West Central St Andrew constituency is a garrison, said he intends to write to Simpson Miller, inviting her to discuss the issue of co-ordinating access to closed communities for representatives of differing political persuasion.

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Corporations lobby for tax break on offshore profits

| 24/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(iwatch): Goaded by battalions of corporate lobbyists, members of Congress are working to give a select group of US multinational firms like Apple, Oracle and Pfizer a lavish tax break on a trillion dollars stashed offshore. The goal is to generate jobs and investment, but the offshore tax holiday was tried before, in 2004, and the lion’s share of the benefits went not to unemployed workers and their families, but to corporate shareholders and executives.  With today’s high unemployment, and soaring costs for college, health care and other family essentials, critics are asking why an elite class of corporations and their shareholders should get a huge tax break on overseas profits.

The proposed tax holiday could cost the Treasury from $40 billion to $80 billion over the next decade, and the high cost of the measure is one reason that its prospects for passage are mixed.

But 73 members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have signed up as co-sponsors. And cash-rich mega corporations are pushing hard for the tax break.

A number of trade groups and corporations that would benefit have joined in a coalition called WIN America. New lobbying disclosure reports show that the group and its member firms have spent millions of dollars, and employed dozens of lobbyists, to press for the tax break, according to an analysis by iWatch News.

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Swiss banks ready to give up clients to IRS

| 24/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(Reuters):Swiss banks will probably settle a sweeping US probe of offshore tax evasion by paying billions of dollars and handing over names of thousands of Americans who have secret accounts, according to two people familiar with the matter. U.S. and Swiss officials are concluding negotiations on a civil settlement amid U.S. criminal probes of 11 financial institutions, including Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), suspected of helping American clients hide money from the Internal Revenue Service, according to five people with knowledge of the talks who declined to speak publicly because they are confidential.

Switzerland, the biggest haven for offshore wealth, wants an end to new US probes while preserving its decades-old tradition of bank secrecy, the people said. The U.S. seeks data on Americans who have dodged US taxes and a pledge by Swiss banks to stop helping such clients, according to the people.

The Swiss reached accords this year with Germany and the UK on untaxed assets.

“The Swiss would like to get out of this by paying money, and they’ve done that with other countries,” said tax attorney H. David Rosenbloom of Caplin & Drysdale Chartered in Washington, who isn’t involved in the talks. “For the U.S., it’s not primarily a money question. It’s a matter of making sure the laws apply fairly among taxpayers.”

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Cayman Islands U-20 women move on in World Cup

| 24/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Despite losing out to a 93rd minute goal to Trinidad and Tobago in their final Group B CFU U20 World Cup Qualifying game the Cayman Islands U20 Women’s National team will advance to the next stage of the qualification process.  After an impressive 4:0 win over the hosts Suriname, Cayman faced a much tougher task Thursday night at the Essed Stadium in Paramaribo, Suriname. Trinidad and Tobago boasted a number of players in the their starting eleven who have World Cup experience as the core of this team played in the U17 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals.

This experience was evident as Trinidad started brightly, possessing and moving the ball very well, although all their possession counted for nothing as they failed to create any clear cut chances in front of the Cayman goal.

The 0:0 score line at the half time, summed up the game at this point, there were very few chances created as both defensive lines stood strong. The second half continued as the first finished, Cayman’s defensive shape was perfect, Captain Jessica Ebanks and fellow centre half Tacita Berry were solid at the back. Cayman Goalkeeper Emily Kelly was called into action in the 71st minute producing a great save to keep the score level.

The game was destined for a draw when in the 93rd minute Cayman failed to clear their lines and they were severely punished, a low strike skipped off the moist surface and made its way past Cayman keeper Emily Kelly putting Trinidad and Tobago 1:0 up. Cayman barely had time to respond as the final whistle was blown leaving the Caymanian girls dejected on the field.

Head Coach of Trinidad and Tobago Marlon Charles left his bench and went straight to the Cayman players who sat on the field totally deflated after fighting so hard for 90 minutes to give up a goal in time added on. Coach Charles commented that he wanted to give praise to the Cayman girls, he commented on how he had never seen in his life a country with such a small population like the Cayman Islands perform like that. 
After taking time to reflect the ladies boarded their flight home in Suriname this morning knowing that there job was done, and the disappointment of giving up a last minute goal was put in the memory bank.

The 4:0 Victory over Suriname and closely contested 1:0 loss to Trinidad and Tobago currently keeps Cayman top of Group B with 3 points and a goal difference of +3. The remaining fixture was played in between the hosts Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago Saturday. 

Cayman Captain Jessica Ebanks commented on how proud she was to lead her young team through this first stage of qualification.  “The Trinidad and Tobago game showed us the level of football that we want to aspire too, we matched a very good team and I personally gained a lot from the Trinidad loss, looking forward we are focused and ready for the next round,” she said.

The Cayman Islands Women’s U20 National Team returned home Friday and the girls will be given a week off to recover and spend time with their families before preparing for the next stage of World Cup Qualification which will run from December 5 – 12. The location is yet to be decided by the Caribbean Football Union.
 

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Cop chopper drops in on primary school kids

| 24/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The police helicopter crew surprised students from Savannah Primary School on Friday with an unannounced visit to the Bodden Town Civic Centre. Students from the school were at the Centre to meet local police officers and learn all about what they do, when the helicopter broke off from routine patrol to give the youngsters a close up view of the chopper. The crew spoke to the youngsters about the helicopter and Inspector Richard Harford talked about the roles and responsibilities of the police in the community.

Chief inspector Robert Scotland, the newly appointed Commander for the Eastern Districts, said the kids and the teachers had a great time. “They were obviously keen to learn all about the police and what we do. They were all very surprised when the helicopter arrived and they got a chance to see it up close,” he said.

Inspector Richard Harford said the event was one of many activities planned for the eastern districts as part the RCIPS’ efforts to raise awareness of policing and of how people, young and old, can work with the police to help keep the community safe. Officers are working with schools in the area to develop an Eastern Districts Junior Police Academy.

           

 

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