Archive for June 12th, 2012

Blood donors celebrated on annual world day

| 12/06/2012 | 1 Comment

hancock.jpg(CNS): The HSA is celebrating everyone who participates in saving lives as blood donors this week to mark World Blood Donor Day on Thursday. This year blood donors throughout the world are being honoured, with the World Health Organisation theme highlighting the fact that ‘Every blood donor is a hero’. “Celebrating the act of blood donation is important because, put simply, it saves lives,” says H.S.A. CEO Lizzette Yearwood. “Around the world there is a critical need for blood donation…This is certainly true for us in Cayman where our hospitals rely on blood donation to assist in their daily practice of saving lives.”

Throughout the world various countries will be organising a variety of events and activities to celebrate this important day, from football matches to free concerts, when blood donors will be recognised for their vital contribution.

Yearwood added that people who give blood are heroes.

“Blood donors come from all walks of life, all ethnicities, religions and ages. It is through their selfless donation that the lives of countless patients have been saved.  We believe that the theme of this year’s campaign by WHO isextremely fitting because in our minds, as medical practitioners, every blood donor is indeed a hero and we sincerely thank them,” she said.

The HSA encourages all Cayman residents who are able, to give blood at the Cayman Islands Hospital.   “We are sincerely grateful to our regular donors who may donate dozens of times in their lifetime and we especially encourage young people to come and donate for the first time,” Yearwood added.


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Officials keen to get radar operational

| 12/06/2012 | 0 Comments

Minister 11 June (201x300).jpg(CNS): Work on the Cayman Islands Doppler weather radar tower in East End is on schedule according to government officials who expect the new radar antenna and dome to be completed and operational well before the end of this year. Presently under construction by Island Builders Ltd, the tower for the radar antenna is now at more than 41 feet high. Once the radar and dome housing arrive on island in August the German radar provider SELEX S.I. will winch them into position atop the tower, set up, testing, calibration and training will then commence. Officials are all keen to see the project come to fruition as it is important to both aviation and weather services.

Director General of the National Weather Service, Fred Sambula explained what the new system will offer. “The radar will be operated by trained in-house meteorological staff and technicians, who will ensure that the radar is functional at all times,’ he said. “A powerful, high-precision Doppler radar is particularly suited to the extremely heavy rainfall and thunderstorm activity in the tropical oceanic regions and we are really looking forward to it becoming fully operational in time for next year’s hurricane season.”

The radar will have a range of about 400 km (250 miles) and it will provide weather surveillance over all three islands and the surrounding maritime areas.

Officials claim the technology will improve weather forecasting and allow local meteorologists to easily observe, track and study heavy rainfall events, waterspouts and so-called “freak storms”. The Doppler will also issue information to the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, from which that organisation will create a composite of radar information from the whole Caribbean.

The radar will also allow meteorological staff the ability to accurately warn of wind shear problems hazardous to aircraft on landing and takeoff, which is very important to the aviation industry.

Once operational, the National Weather Service will also share its interpretation of data from the radar feed with the public, the media, and the emergency agencies such as Hazard Management of the Cayman Islands (HMCI). This will be particularly useful not only to HMCI and the aviation industry but also to cruise ships, the boating fraternity, fishermen and local farmers. The radar feed will be accessible to the general public in real time via the internet.

The Cayman Islands Airports Authority is responsible for overseeing the project and CEO Jeremy Jackson said it would be  a welcome addition to the arsenal of the NWS in its service to aviation.

“Such a tool will help us tremendously, especially in times of severe weather for flights into and out of the Cayman Islands,” he added.

The deputy premier and minister responsible said the project is a key component of the European Commission’s strategy for supporting disaster risk reduction.

“The establishment of the early warning system in Grand Cayman will boost the region's ability to prepare for natural disasters and adverse weather.  In addition, it will save lives and property and by extension promote the social welfare of the people of the region.
"After the weather we have just experienced, I am sure everyone can appreciate just how important having our own Doppler radar is,” she added. 

The European Commission approved a grant of €4.16 million (approximately CI$4.23 million at current exchange rates) in funding towards the project in order to improve both local and regional disaster preparedness. The Cayman Islands qualified for grant funding as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. The Cayman Islands Government has also committed over CI$750,000 to the project.

Despite the importance of the project to the weather services the selected location was not without controversy as the East End site was also picked by CUC as one of the few locations on Grand Cayman that could house a wind farm. Despite being ideal for the alternative energy solution CUC lost out to the radar.

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Driving While Dumb

| 12/06/2012 | 49 Comments

In my opinion we need to go a bit further in making our roads safer than just reducing drink driving. While DWI is a quite widely-touted risk factor relative to fatal accidents, it is a fact worth serious consideration that DWD (Driving While Dumb) is a very major risk factor relating to fatal traffic accidents. We need to get dumb drivers off Cayman's roads!

According to scientific research, there is an undisputed correlation between low intelligence and fatal automobile accident rates. Australian psychologist Brian O'Toole's research reveals that those who had scores in the Army General Classification Test manifesting IQs of between 80-85 had almost three times the death rate due to motor vehicle accidents than those who scored in the 100-115 range. The mortality figures were even more significant for lower IQ levels. Several other studies on the matter report similar results: dumb drivers are deadly drivers!

Now, if this is not a pressing mandate for making our land safer by ridding the roads of dumb drivers, I do not know what is!

It is just not safe to allow dumb people behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Period! We all know that there are lots of dumb drivers roun' yah. If you have any doubts, consider this: How many times while you are driving do you think to yourself, or even say out loud, "What the hell is that dumba$$ doing?" Or, you watch the antics of a particularly mentally deficient driver and blurt out, "Damn! Look at that fool! How stupid can you get?  Jesus, there are a lot of idiots on the roads!"  Case closed.

Yup! Lots of really dumb drivers here in Cayman. I would surmise that there are far more dumb drivers than drink drivers on our roads. Dumb drivers pose at least as great a risk as drinking drivers. I for one am tired of them. Tired, tired, tired. They have got to go! (Jeeze! I don't even want to think about the accident risk associated with dumb drinking drivers!)

Because of their sheer numbers, dumb drivers pose a far greater risk than do drink drivers. Here is a final bit of very compellling evidence that we have a huge number of dumb drivers amongst us: only a country with lots and lots and lots of very dumb people would see a maroon like MacBush elected as a leader.

A significant percentage of dullards in a given population makes for a correspondingly large number of idiots behind the wheel. With anti driving while dumb laws in place at least these imbeciles would not be able to drive themselves to the polls come election day. And no intelligent person would give 'em a ride to the voting station. I do not know about you, but I would feel a lot safer anyway.

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Home-schoolers get down to life saving training

| 12/06/2012 | 0 Comments

1.jpeg(CNS): A group of home schooled students were learning about first aid and emergencies when they attended a training course at the Cayman Islands Red Cross (CIRC) last month. First Aid Training Manager, Peter Hughes explained that despite being aged between 11-15 years old no one is too young to learn the basics. Throughout the world parents, teachers and community group leaders introduce children as young as 10 to these courses, though there is usually no need for the course to be certified by a training provider.

“It is never too early to start first aid training and these young people have surely shown an aptitude for it,” he said. “They’ve all passed the course with flying colours….When we are teaching youth this young it is usually more about raising awareness and laying the foundation for further training down the line,”

Certified courses become a necessity for young people once they are ready to leave high school to enter college or the workplace. However, this group of students took the full First Aid and CPR course and, having passed the examination required of all persons who take this course, received a full 2 year certification.

The Red Cross sets no lower age limit for attendance. However, to receive certification the student must participate in all class activities, demonstrate competency in all the required skills and successfully complete an end-of-course scenario.

For more information about training opportunities with the Red Cross, contact 949 6785 ext. 30 or email


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Teen arrested in West Bay grocery shop robbery

| 12/06/2012 | 1 Comment

hills.jpg(CNS): Police arrested a nineteen year old man Tuesday, in the immediate wake of a robbery at a West Bay convenience store. The teenager  is currently in police custody following the armed hold up at Hills Grocery and More store on Stadium Drive, at lunchtime today. Police received a report at 11.47am  that an lone gunman had entered the shop armed with what appeared to be a handgun. He threatened staff before making off from the premises with a small sum of cash. The suspect, who was described as being dressed all in black, was last seen running towards the Ed Bush Stadium. Police made their way to the area and a short time later arrested the local teen on suspicion of robbery.

Anyone who was in the area at the time of the incident and has any information which could assist police should call West Bay police station on 949-3999, the RCIPS tip-line on 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).




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Cops charge one man in latest gas station heist

| 12/06/2012 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Police have charged a 31-year-old man in connection with a robbery at the Texaco Gas station in Eastern Avenue on 31 May. A policespokesperson said Tuesday that the man is expected to appear in court Wednesday to face charges of robbery, possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence and theft. Police did not say when the suspect was arrested but had appealed for more witnesses to the gas station heist on Friday. The man is accused of entering the gas station store around 10pm, stealing money from the cashier and then escaping on foot.

The hold-up was the fourth robbery in the space of one week last month, once again stirring up concerns in Grand Cayman about the impact of violent crime on local businesses.

Police are still looking for three masked men who held up the TV station’s customer service office in George Town in broad day light on 24 May and a man who held up a convenience store in Walkers Road at knife point on 30 May. Officers have, however, charged a 20-year-old man in connection with the Bodden Town Cashwiz robbery which occurred the same day. He was charged last week with robbery, possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence, affray and common assault.

Anyone with information can call detectives on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line. 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8744(TIPS)



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Teenager guilty of murder

| 12/06/2012 | 46 Comments

scott.JPG(CNS):  Full story — A 19-year-old man has been convicted of killing 21-year-old Asher McGaw in East End last September. Justice Alex Henderson found Chakane Jamelle "CJ" Scott guilty of shooting his friend in the early hours of 22 September. In his verdict the judge said the question in this case was whether he believed the crown's main and only eyewitness to the murder, or not. Despite some inconsistencies and inaccuracies Justice Henderson found that 18-year-old Antascio Rankine was telling the truth and pointed to corroborating evidence. The judge also drew an adverse inference from Scott's silence in the judge-alone trial as he handed down the verdict.

Justice Henderson took an hour and a half to deliver the ruling, in which he found Scott guilty of murder as well as possession of a firearm and three rounds of ammunition.  He immediately sentenced Scott to life in prison, as mandated by law, as well as imposing two concurrent mandatory minimum ten year sentences for possession of the gun and ammunition used to kill McGaw.

The crown had depended heavily on the testimony of 18 year old Rankine, who was 17 at the time of the killing last September, to make its case against the defendant, who was 18 at the time of the shooting.

The evidence given by Rankine about the night of the murder was, Justice Henderson said, sufficiently detailed to indicate that he was present at the shooting. However, he had to be cautious of convicting based purely on the teen witness and needed to be sure he had given a truthful account. The judge pointed to evidence from Earl Hart, a second crown witness and a cousin to the accused, who supported elements of Rankine’s account and whom Justice Henderson said he found to be a truthful witness.

The judge pointed to three damning issues which raised suspicion regarding Scott’s behaviour and tended to support Rankine’s claim that he was the murderer and which appeared to sway Henderson towards his guilty verdict:

Hart had described a mysterious change by Scott into clothes that did not fit him; secondly, Scott made a comment to Hart about East End being “too hot” as he left the district in the wake of the murder as police numbers swelled at the start of the investigation; plus Hart had overheard Scott threaten Rankine, which dovetailed with the main teen witness's account.

The judge also said that Rankine’s shame and guilt that he had run away and left his friend to die accounted for the young witness's second statement to the police after he had at first denied knowing anything about the crime.

Justice Henderson rejected the defence position that Rankine had lied to the police in his second statement, in which he accused Scott of the killing, in order to get an assault charge he was facing reduced. The judge said he was satisfied that Rankine was suffering from “overwhelming feelings of guilt” when he broke down and told the police about the killing and was not seeking to address his own criminal difficulties.

The judge said he found his explanation at trial for the second statement that he “couldn’t hold it in anymore” truthful.

By contrast, Scott’s silence in the face of a strong case to answer made the judge sure that the defendant, who recently turned nineteen, was guilty of McGaw’s murder.

“The crown provided a body of evidence that demands an answer,” the judge said in his verdict. “If there was an innocent explanation then Mr Scott would be the person to answer. In these circumstances I do draw an adverse inference.”

The crown never provided a motive for the shooting of Asher McGaw (21), who was found with three gunshot wounds to the body and a fourth to the head by police on routine patrol in John McLean Drive in East End last September.

In his evidence Rankine told the court that the three young men, who had all been friends since they were young children growing up close by each other, had gone to the East End clinic to let off a flare gun on the night of the shooting.

At some point while the three men were in the car park of the clinic, Scott turned on McGaw with a real gun.  Rankine described how Scott had chased after his best friend shooting at him before the young man fell to the ground. At that point, Rankine said, he saw Scott stand over McGaw as he lay in the road and shoot him again before running away.

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Cayman suffers Bahamas heartbreak

| 12/06/2012 | 0 Comments

(CRFU): The Cayman National Men’s Rugby Caribbean championship for 2012 is over and the qualification process for the 2015 Rugby World Cup drew to a close on Saturday 9 June when the Bahamas lost to Bermuda on their home turf 8-16.Bermuda, who had beaten Cayman by a slim 4 point margin needed to beat Bahamas to stop Cayman’s progress after Cayman’s 20 point win over the Bahamas in Cayman on 26 May and it looked as though Cayman may have been handed just the life line they needed when the Bahamas were leading 8-3 midway through the first half, but Bermuda edged their way forward after a drop goal edged the away side ahead.

A low scoring 2nd half eventually saw Bermuda cross the try line to bring up the final score of 16-8 and both Cayman and the Bahamas rued the fact that the Bahamas missed 5 penalty kicks which, had they been successful, would have made the Bahamas comfortable winners.

Bermuda will now play Guyana in the North American Rugby Championship final in Bermuda.

Whoever wins the Caribbean Championship final will progress in the Rugby World Cup Qualifying process to play the winner of the CONSUR B Tournament between the South American nations of Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Costa Rica. The Winner of that fixture will play the last place team of the CONSUR A tournament (between USA and Canada to see who progresses.) Whilst it is unlikely that any Caribbean Nation would be successful against either of those sides (both of whom regularly qualify for the World Cup alongside the only Americas team to have already qualified, Argentina) Cayman will be keeping a keen eye on the competitions progress.

Cayman’s win over the Bahamas ensures that Cayman stay in the 2nd tier of Northern Caribbean nations whilst the Bahamas are relegated to join with Mexico and Jamaica in the bottom tier.


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Turks and Caicos to go to polls in November

| 12/06/2012 | 61 Comments

William-Hague-Prime-Minis-001.jpg(CNS): The UK’s Foreign Secretary has confirmed that the Turks and Caicos Islands will have a democratic general election in November. After three years of direct British rule, imposed as a result of a corruption scandal relating to the Misick administration, the UK government says sufficient progress has been made on the milestones it set as a path back to democracy to warrant setting an election date. William Hague revealed in the UK’s House of Commons Tuesday that the election will be on 9 November this year. He also said Britain was committed to ensuring the corruption in TCI never happened again, there or anywhere else in its territories.

Hague pointed out some of the provisions now in place to “safeguard good governance and sound financial management”, including a revised elections ordinance for clear and robust voting procedures.

“The Conduct of Political Parties Ordinance regulates funding of political parties and campaigns, campaign methods and accounting practices,” Hague told the British parliament. “The Integrity Commission Ordinance increases the number of those required to give personal and financial data about their interests.”

He said changes to the Public Financial Management system, an independent audit office and a chief finance officer would enable the UK government to retain sufficient control over public finances and protect the interests of the UK as loan guarantor.

Listing various other changes still to come, the foreign secretary also pointed to the progress made in the corruption investigation.

“Thirteen people, including four former Ministers, have been charged with corruption and money laundering offences. An international arrest warrant has been issued for former Premier Michael Misick. It is now for the courts to decide whether thepersons charged are guilty. The investigations and prosecutions will proceed independently of a future elected government,” he added.

Hague also pointed to changes regarding the management of crown land as this had been at the heart of the corrupt practices described in Sir Robin Auld’s 2009 Commission of Inquiry report.

“The new Crown Land Ordinance which came into effect in March sets out clear criteria for the allocation of Crown Land. To ensure the new arrangements for Crown Land are implemented successfully, the management of Crown Land has moved to the Attorney General’s Chambers.

The UK government believes seven of the eight milestones have been clearly met, and although the final fiscal milestone has not yet been achieved, Hague said the FCO was confident that the budgeted surplus would soon be reached.

“Over the next few months, in the run up to elections, the interim government will continue with the implementation and consolidation of reforms, in particular to strengthen the public sector and public finances, develop the economy, modernise legislation and make practical preparations to enable the elections to take place,” he said.

“The UK believes that democracy, whether in an independent country or in an Overseas Territory, provides a solid foundation on which to build an accountable and responsive state,” the FCO boss added.

He spoke of the need to support TCI to develop its democracy in line with the UK’s responsibility for security and good governance. “I want to make clear this government’s determination to ensure that there is no repeat of the maladministration that led to the suspension of democratic government in TCI, either there or in any other British overseas territory,” Hague warned.

See Hague’s full statement to the UK parliament below.

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PAC to examine latest reports

| 12/06/2012 | 44 Comments

Acting Premier Controls the Paver_0.jpg(CNS): The chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has confirmed that members will be meeting this week to examine the latest of the auditor general’s damning reports. Moses Kirkconnell has called a meeting of the specialist legislative committee for Wednesday when it will be looking at the reports on the unlawful spending on paving private parking lots in Cayman Brac, the wasted money at CINICO and the failure of government departments to address the potential risk to the public purse with the government’s fuel card system. This will be the first meeting of the committee since last year.

The committee will be examining three reports published by the Office of the Auditor General that show the continued mismanagement of the public funds by various government departments. In the report regarding the Brac paving published by Alastair Swarbrick’s office last month he revealed that more than half a million dollars was spent on paving 56 private lots without legislative authority.

Although the Legislative Assembly had approved spending on paving public roads on the Sister Islands, from the $3 million spent on that project, $521,090 was unlawfully spent on commercial, profit making businesses from the people’s money.

The deputy premier, whose ministry was responsible for making the decision to pave commercial lots as part of the project without authority, has not yet commented on Swarbrick’s findings and has stated that she would be taking legal advice before speaking out. 

According to the auditor general’s report on CINICO, the government’s health insurance company, some $30 million of public money was at risk every year because of shocking failures in the management CINICO and a plethora of weaknesses. From managers appointing case management firms without the company or board’s knowledge to a paucity of documents to show how CINICO manages overseas cases, the report reveals a catalogue of poor governance, leaving public money and the government owned company open to abuse.

In his most recent report,  Swarbrick and the audit team examined how much government had learned from the internal audit unit’s findings in 2010 about the poor management and risks associated with the government’s fuel car d system. Unfortunately, the return to 'Gasboygate' found government had learned very little and public cash remained at risk.

Swarbrick said that some of the original five agencies audited the first time the office examined the fuel card system had made some improvements but the next ten top government department users of fuel had done nothing to mitigate the risk of abuse with the system.

Despite the fact that four of the first five agencies audited were part of the same ministry the message delivered to public works, the Water Authority and the National Roads Authority failed to reach other departments in the Ministry for District Administration, placing Deputy Premier Juliana O'Connor-Connolly again at the centre of the mismanagement of public funds.

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