Archive for May 10th, 2012

Mac sets out anti-OMOV stall

| 10/05/2012 | 49 Comments

_DEW2501_0.jpg(CNS): The premier officially opposed his own government’s referendum question on the introduction of one man, one vote and single member constituencies on Thursday when he introduced the bill to the Legislative Assembly. McKeeva Bush said he could not believe that anyone really wanted to swap four representatives for one as he spoke about the national ballot on changing the country’s voting system. He said the people of Cayman were “not foo-fool” and campaigners would not get the majority. “Don’t let them take your votes,” Bush urged, as he condemned the idea of OMOV as divisive, warning that it would introduce garrison politics into the Cayman Islands. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

As he introduced the bill setting out the parameters of the government referendum on one man, one vote, which is set for 18 July, the premier immediately set out his stall against the question. He asked who it was that wanted single member constituencies and said he believed it was about trying to get him out and nothing else. Bush accused the opposition members of not really supporting it but that it was just a way of criticising him and accusing him of being undemocratic.

“They don’t fool me,” he said. Going on to say that he believed the system would create real division, Bush said there would be problems and pointed to his own constituency of West Bay. He asked if the people didn’t think the new single member constituencies would create differences such as between West Bay North West with Logwoods and then West Bay North where Birch Tree Hill was, as he alluded to the gang rivalry that already exists in his district.

Spelling out his opposition to the introduction of single member constituencies, which he said were not equitable as the representatives for North Side and East End would have 500 voters where he would have a 1000, Bush added that as a representative of the people he “served everyone” who came to his door, no matter where they were from.

Bush said he had proposed the referendum as there needed to be a clear outcome so that government could put the matter to rest and get on with addressing the country’s economic problems and making Cayman competitive in a difficult international environment.

“My advice is going to be to stay put, hold the course for a united Cayman," he said. “Don’t let them take your votes.” He said he believed the people would not change a system that worked for one that they didn’t know.

Although one man, one vote and single member constituencies is the most common, and believed to be the most democratic, voting system across the international community’s leading democracies, Bush has persistently billed OMOV as an unknown that will require a “steep learning curve” for the people of Cayman to comprehend.

Speaking about the details of the bill to facilitate the national ballot, he said that the threshold would be 50% of the electorate and not a majority of the turnout.

Although this is a government-initiated vote and not a people-initiated referendum, Bush said it was no different from what would have happened had the campaigners triggered the referendum through the people’s constitutional provision. He claimed government was being as fair as possibleby setting as similar question as it could to that on the petition and it would be binding if 50% plus one of the electorate voted for it. He also pointed to a provision to separate the Sister Islands within thesystem, providing one man, one vote in a multi-member constituency with the first two past the post elected.

Speaking about the threshold for the vote, he said it could not be lowered given the significance of the referendum as everyone should be encouraged to come out and vote because of its importance.

Bush also said the timing was scheduled to give government time to implement the new system if the referendum carried but the vote was important enough to ensure people who cared would remain in Cayman to cast their vote.

Clause nine of the bill also states that the normal provisions for an election, which would include postal and mobile voting, would apply to the referendum.

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CUC picks two alternative energy partners

| 10/05/2012 | 0 Comments

60759 (225x300).jpg(CNS Business): Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) is now talking to two renewable energy developers over the provision of green energy to its grid. The proposals being considered by Grand Cayman’s power provider are two 5 megawatt solar photovoltaic power plants and one 3MW small scale wind turbine project. CUC said details on the companies selected will be revealed once the contracts and agreements are finalized. CUC said that over the last few years it has been evaluating alternative forms of power but it was only recently that it began to appear cost effective. Read more on CNS Business

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Airport emergency exercise now underway

| 10/05/2012 | 2 Comments

(CNS): An emergency exercise has commenced this morning at Owen Roberts international Airport and a number of roads around the airport are now closed. Emergency services and airport personnel are engaged in a full scale response to a mock plane crash. Cayman Islands Aviation Authority states that the exercise involves the simulation of a Boeing 727-200 cargo plane with six passengers and dangerous goods on board crash landing on Smith Road Cricket Oval. The airport has now closed for all air traffic but residents are reminded this is an exercise only and not a real emergency.

Road closures include:

Crewe Road with its junction of Dorcy Drive

Crewe Road with its junction at Lynhurst Avenue

Smith Road between the Traffic lights and Crewe Road

Crewe Road with its junction of Dorcy Drive

Crewe Road with its junction at Lynhurst Avenue

Smith Road between the Traffic lights and Crewe Road

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Mac’s admission ‘astounding’

| 10/05/2012 | 87 Comments

coyote-dynamite-source-charles-m-jones-1953 (276x300).jpg(CNS): The opposition leader said he was astounded that the premier still feels he has done nothing wrong despite admitting to requesting an illegal shipment of explosives be released. Alden McLaughlin said the letter that Premier McKeeva Bush sent to customs asking for the dynamite to be freed when it had been seized by officials was simply unlawful and an abuse of office. He said the law was strict for a reason because dynamite is a dangerous substance. Ezzard Miller added that Bush’s comment that he was trying to help a friend was extremely troubling as no minister has that kind of authority.

Both men said that if Bush received a request for assistance he should have looked into the matter and checked the legal implications with the relevant government officials, or asked his chief officer to find out what was happening. But, they said, he was not in a legal position to request that civil servants by-pass the law, something which the premier should be well-aware.

“It was not lawful for him to issue an instruction or request to the collector of customs to release the explosives,” McLaughlin said.

In Wednesday’s edition of the Caymanian Compass, Alan Markoff writes that the paper is in receipt of various pieces of correspondence between the importer of the dynamite, the premier and customs.

Although the paper has elected not to post these documents on its website, Markoff claims to have a copy of the letter Bush wrote to Collector of Customs Colin Powery  on 7 March. In that correspondence the premier allegedly instructed the release of the 32 tonnes of dynamite, despite the fact that it was illegally imported.

Bush wrote: “By way of this memorandum, I request that the blasting materials for Midland Acres, which are currently held by HM Customs, be released,” and he went on to ask for his request to be expedited “as the company is desperately in need of the materials to proceed with their on-going projects.”

Last week while appearing on Cayman27’s talk show, "The Panel", Bush implied that all he had done was try to help a friend when he requested the release.

The company involved in the importation of the illegal shipment is Midland Acres and, according to the Compass report, the director who wrote to the premier requesting his assistance was Suresh Prasad, who admitted some “oversights” as far as paperwork was concerned. Asking for Bush’s help, Prasad said a "large investment of funds” had been made in the explosives which were now tied up.

McLaughlin told CNS that he was concerned about the involvement of Prasad as his name had been linked to the premier in the past in matters regarding the potential misuse and waste of public money.

According to the former auditor general’s report on the financing of Boatswain Beach- Turtle Farm, Prasad was involved in brokering a financing package for the project. He, along with others, received considerable sums from government coffers in fees for assisting with the financing for the project, despite the fact that the deals never materialized.

The dynamite was reportedly destined for use in quarrying in order to supply fill for a major local project. CNS has contacted the Dart Group asking if the developer has any agreements to purchase fill from Midland Acres.

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Alden asks about Vegas ATM

| 10/05/2012 | 76 Comments

Welcome_to_Fabulous_Las_Vegas_sign (271x300).jpg(CNS): The opposition leader was still demanding answers from the premier on Wednesday morning as he stood in Hero’s Square leading an opposition LA boycott. Alden McLaughlin raised more questions for McKeeva Bush to answer regarding the letter he sent to Stan Thomas in October 2004 relating to the rezoning of land on the West Bay Road. Having pressed Bush to explain what service the $350,000 was for on numerous occasions, the opposition leader also asked if Bush had met with the Texan developer in Las Vegas earlier that year and if the meeting was connected to thisand if it ended with a trip to an ATM machine where $20,000 was withdrawn.

He also asked Bush to answer if other payments had been made via wire transfer and exactly how much Bush or Windsor Development, his former real estate company, was paid by Thomas and why.

The opposition leader, his PPM colleague Arden McLean and the independent member for North Side, Ezzard Miller, all took part in a mock debate in Heroes Square after walking out of the Legislative Assembly at the start of business. An audience of around 150 people also braved the mid-morning sun to cheer the MLAs on as they demanded the premier’s resignation.

“The premier does not have the moral authority to continue the business of this country while under the weight of three criminal investigations for which he has offered no explanation,” McLaughlin said, adding that the boycott was a protest over the failure of the premier to place the no confidence motion on the agenda.

However, he said the opposition would return to the LA Thursday in order to debate the referendum bill of one man one vote because of its importance. He said they would be pressing government to change the requirement for the referendum to pass from 50% of the electorate to 50% of the people who turn out because it is a government-initiated vote and not the people-initiated referendum that the campaign had pushed for.

After nominating Consuela Ebanks as a temporary speaker, the opposition leader read his lack of confidence motion to the gathered crowd. He said that unless some credible explanation was forthcoming, Bush did not have the authority to continue to lead the country. McLaughlin asked again why it was that Bush would not explain the letter and why he believed he could not speak about it.

“The people of this country deserve a fulsome credible explanation,” McLaughlin maintained, adding that research had revealed there was no business relationship with Thomas and the premier or his real estate company, Windsor Development.

This sentiment was echoed by Ezzard Miller who said that freedom of information requests had revealed all of the details relating to that land and its re-zoning. The planning documents reveal that the zoning application for the land had been made by the previous land owner and the process had been completed by the time Thomas acquired it. All that remained was for the zoning to go before Cabinet for approval but it was deferred a number of times.

Meanwhile, as the outdoor LA meeting continued, the government members remained in the air-conditioned parliament building and debated the motion to introduce the referendum bill.

The premier said that government would proceed with the business despite the opposition not being there as the work of the legislature was important and the members were all paid very well.

“I consider it my duty to be here if I am on this island when this House is called for business,” Bush said.

All of the MLAs will return to the LA Thursday morning for a special meeting of the House in order to debate the actual bill for the referendum set for 18 July.

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Blake misses fastest time by whisker at local meet

| 10/05/2012 | 15 Comments

yohan_2652231 (241x300).jpg(CNS): Jamaican world champion Yohan Blake narrowly missed the fastest 100 meters of the year last night at the inaugural Cayman Invitational at the Truman Bodden complex. His time of 9.84 seconds a mere 0.02 behind world the record holder and his training partner Usain Bolt's time set just this weekend in Jamaica. Michael Frater trailed in second with a time of 10.05 and Keston Bledman took third at 10.06. Meanwhile, Cayman’s own Cydonie Mothersill took the women's 200m in 23.51. The debut athletics meet attracted a slate of international sports stars and provided a trial run for Cayman’s own Olympic athletes.

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Heart disease is a women’s issue

| 10/05/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): There are currently 42 million women in America suffering from cardio vascular disease and over 422,000 women dying annually in the States because of CVD. And while one in 30 women die of breast cancer in the States, one in four die of heart disease. As a result of the proliferation of the disease, speaker Kathy Tryon said, at the Nurses Conference held this week, that new American Heart Association guidelines for preventing CVD had been issued last year. These outlined that women should be exercising moderately for two and a half hours each week or vigorously for 75 minutes a week, be actively helped to give up smoking and encouraged to follow a DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in salt.

Speaking specifically on the subject CVD in women at the conference, held at the Marriott Beach Resort, Tryon, who is a clinical educator with Baptist Health in South Florida, said that historically CVD had been perceived as a man’s disease and that women’s symptoms – which differed from that of men and included fatigue and vertigo – had been treated as psychosomatic. Women had also been underrepresented in clinical studies on CVD which had put women at a disadvantage when it came to understanding how it affected women in particular. 

While one in five women in America had some kind of CVD if they were between the ages of 45 and 65, this figure rose to one in three within the over 65 age range and one in five women were having mid-life strokes, with 25 per cent of those women dying as a result.

“Stroke risk increases 50 per cent in those people who drink diet sodas,” she warned.

In addition, while CVD was the leading cause of death among women in the US, strokes were the third most common cause of death, she explained.

Tryon said that CVD was preventable and that risk factors ought to be modified at a younger age than was currently taking place, even at inception, as there were steps a pregnant woman could take to lower their child’s risk of developing CVD.

Listing the non-modifiable risk factors associated with developing CVD, Tryon said there was nothing you could do about aging. Females, she said, had a 15 year grace period from the age of 60 over men, but once they reached the age of 75 their risk of a heart attack was just as great as men. Ethnicity was another unavoidable risk factor, with black women more at risk than white, and family history was another unchangeable factor as to whether a person would go on to develop the disease.

Smoking was one such risk factor which could be modified, however, she stated. “It contributes to so much and is compounded by birth control pills’ she said. “You are just setting yourself up for disaster.”

She went on to say that heart studies had shown that smoking as little as one to four cigarettes a day increased your risk of heart disease and every cigarette took seven minutes off your life.

The problem of obesity, which led to diabetes, hypertension and other risk factors, was also becoming increasingly worse, Tryon explained, with the World Health Organisation reporting that 1 billion people in the world were currently overweight and 300 million obese. That figure was set to rise to 42 per cent of the world’s population becoming overweight or obese if trends continued, she said.  Keeping your Body Mass Index within the normal range was also important, she said.

As well as widely known risk factors for CVD which include high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol and high blood sugar, other risk factors that Tryon discussed included sleep deprivation.

“A study just out found that women who work shifts of 12 hours were more at risk of a stroke or CVD,” she said.  

According to the AHA classification of heart disease in women, exercising regularly meant women were less likely to develop CVD. The AHA recommends women should be exercising moderately for two and a half hours each week or vigorously for 75 minutes a week, or a mix of both, Tryon explained. Following a DASH diet, which means Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension also put women in a lower risk category for developing CVD, included consuming less salt, eating more fruit and vegetables and drinking alcohol in moderation.

Risk factors for CVD unique to women included taking oral contraceptives, suffering from poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, suffering preeclampsia or gestational diabetes or bleeding during the third trimester during pregnancy, she explained.   

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