Archive for January 15th, 2013

Olympic swimmers take part in local fundraiser

| 15/01/2013 | 0 Comments

200m-Swim-Olympians.gif(CIASA): Olympic Swimmers Liam Tancock, Caitlin McClatchey and Conor Dwyer took to the sea off of Cayman’s world famous Seven Mile Beach last weekend as part of the Cayman Island Amateur Swimming Association’s (CIASA) fund raising weekend. Over 100 local swimmers swam alongside them earning bragging rights to say they swam with Olympians. Alex McCallum also earned the right to say he beat a second Olympian when he crossed the finish line 0.06 of a second ahead of McClatchey. McCallum previously beat 2012 Olympic 10K Gold Medal Winner Oussama Mellouli in the 2012 Pirates Week 5K Open Water event.

There were two swims, a 200m and a 400m event, which meant that swimmers from Under 8 to Over 70 could complete.

Tancock, a sprinter took on the 200m distance while McClathchey and Dwyer swam in the 400m swim.

“This was my first open water swim,” said Tancock “and it was amazing. What a bonus – to complete your first open water swim in the Cayman Islands in this amazing water.”

Tancock placed first in the 200m event while Dwyer took first place in the 400m event, with McCallum coming second and McClatchey third. The three visiting Olympians were joined in the water by Cayman’s local Olympians Andrew Mackay and Darren Mew (a British Olympian who currently lives and works in Cayman), Heather Roffey who cheered the swimmers on from the beach and Special Olympian Andrew Smilley.

The Sea Swims were the “Dash” of the fund raising weekend which saw the Olympians “Splash” in to clinics with Cayman’s younger swimmers and “Dine” at a fund raising brunch as well. Full results of the sea swim will be posted on www.ciasa.ky .

The CIASA is a volunteer, not for profit association dedicated to furthering the interests of all aquatic sports in the Cayman Islands. CIASA is the recognized Governing Body of aquatic sports in the Cayman Islands and is a member of FINA, UANA, CCCAN and the CIOC.

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Officialsurge families to understand law

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simpsons.JPG(CNS): Following the passage of the long awaited Children’s Law and regulations some six months ago officials from the ministry urged families to become familiar with the document. As a result of the changes, the department will also be providing training to social workers and other key personnel who can serve as advocates in protecting Cayman’s children. Children and Family Services Director Alicia (Jen) Dixon the protection of children should be a priority and their welfare of paramount importance. “I am confident that this legislation will serve as a robust regulatory regime ensuring the welfare and protection of our children.in the Cayman Islands.”

The Children Law (2012 Revision) and its accompanying regulations seek to protect children, their well-being and their individual rights with children’s interests at the heart of the legislation officials said.

According to the ministry it provides the legal framework for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Constitution Order, 2009 Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities by covering the scope of child protection, the welfare of the child and parental responsibility. Meanwhile, the regulations provide guidelines for: the approval and monitoring of children’s homes; foster homes; the management of emergency protection of children from all forms of child abuse; the provision of secure accommodation for children; parental and guardian responsibility is maintained; and that complaints made by or on behalf of a child are addressed.

Although the law was drafted and steered through Cabinet and eventually the Legislative Assembly by the former minister Mike Adam the new government minister with responsibility for children is Dwayne Seymour. He said the legislation will not only improve the level of protection for children, but it will also correct any unfair practices and close loopholes.
A copy of the Law and its Regulations can be found online at www.mcagh.gov.ky. For more information, contact the Department of Children and Family Services at 949-0690. 
 

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HSA moves to measure quality of patient care

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Lizzette-Yearwood.gif(CNS): The Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) is partnering with US based medical research firm, NRC Picker, to better understand how its patients view the experience and quality of care they receive. NRC Picker provides patient experience research and evidence-based best practicesto health care providers, to help them improve the care they offer to patients.  The firm’s survey and improvement techniques are based on the foundation of more than 7,000 interviews and focus groups conducted by the Picker Institute and Harvard University.

This research identified what matters most to patients and the firm claims that it is the first to define the concept of ‘patient-centered care’, which is widely adopted in the United States as a standard by which patients’ perspectives can be measured to provide data about the quality of care offered by the provider.

HSA head, Chief Executive Officer, Lizzette Yearwood, explained, “The HSA strives to create an environment focused on the needs of the patient and their family. We are pleased to be working with the NRC Picker team, which is committed to working with us to measure and improve the most important aspects of the patient experience.”

NRC Picker’s approach to measuring patient experience uses what the firm calls the ‘Eight Dimensions of Patient-Centered Care’, which are comprised of: respect for patient values, preferences and needs; coordination and integration of care; information and education; physical comfort; emotional support; involvement of family and friends; transition and continuity; and access to care. 

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Kids sweat as air-con goes on blink at CHHS

| 15/01/2013 | 52 Comments

CHHS.jpg(CNS): The education ministry issued a statement on Tuesday admitting that the school is experiencing problems with the air-conditioning in the new Clifton Hunter High School in North Side. Officials from the ministry said the school was experiencing issues with the a/c system and repairs were underway. However, in order to carry out the repairs at the state-of-the-art facility, the air-conditioning system had to be turned off in four of the buildings on the site. The Lady Slater academy and the technology, performing arts and administration buildings all lost air conditioning throughout the day but the system was turned back on Tuesday afternoon in the performing arts building.

“We have been informed that repair work needed to return cooling to the remaining two buildings may take several days,” officials stated. “During this time, students and staff may experience higher than normal temperatures, but conditions at the school are being closely monitored and steps are being taken to ensure that theenvironment is safe.“

The ministry said it would provide updates to parents, students and staff as additional information becomes available.
 

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BA Christian employee wins case in European Court

| 15/01/2013 | 2 Comments

nadia.gif(BBC): A British Airways employee suffered discrimination at work over her Christian beliefs, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled. Judges ruled Nadia Eweida's rights had been violated under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. She took her case to the European Court of Human Rights after BA made her stop wearing her white gold cross visibly. Judges ruled that the rights of three other Christians had not been violated by their employers. They had brought cases against the government for not protecting their rights but ministers, who contested the claims, argued that the rights of the employees were only protected in private.

Ms Eweida, 60, a Coptic Christian from Twickenham in south-west London, told the BBC she was "jumping with joy" after the ruling, adding that it had "not been an easy ride".

British Airways said its own uniform policy was changed in 2007 to allow Miss Eweida and others to "wear symbols of faith and that she and other employees have been working under these arrangements for the last six years.

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ICO report reveals continuing problems

| 15/01/2013 | 2 Comments

(C9233867-3d-illustration-of-a-white-and-black-keep-out-sign-protruding-out-of-an-open-drawer-of-a-gray-file-c (267x300).jpgNS): A shortage of resources, a failure of legislators to update the law, authorities taking too long to answer requests and direct contraventions of the law are some of the issues plaguing the country’s Freedom of Information (FOI) regime. Despite the best efforts by the Information Commissioner (IC), her very small staff and the public’s growing use of the freedom of information law, many public authorities are still struggling to meet the law’s requirements. In her latest quarterly report Jennifer Dilbert reveals that between 1 July and 30 September last year there was an 18% increase in requests made to public authorities.

Despite the need for the legislation to be amended in order to make improvements to accommodate the growing usage of the FOI Law, Dilbert reveals that no movement has been made to this end.

“No further progress has been reported on the statutory review of the FOI Law, which was commenced by the Legislative Assembly in 2010,” she said. However as a result of the further experience her office now has more than two years later, Dilbert said she is reviewing the recommendations she submitted in September of 2010 in order to assess their continued value and any  for further changes.

Among the problems relating to the time it takes for authorities to release information, the commissioner also noted in this latest report that on at least two occasions during the quarter in question that it appears as if a public authority may have failed to identify and provide records in response to requests. Reminding public authorities of the law, she warned that her office would not hesitate to enforce the law against civil servants who commit an offence.

Although the report indicates that there were no judicial reviews of the IC's decisions, since its publication the governor's office has filed for a judicial review regarding a decision by Dilbert instructing his office to release documents relating to the controversial Operation Tempura investigation. This will be Dilbert's first courtroom battle after some 29 hearings.

See full report below.

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Bus goes up in smoke in George Town

| 15/01/2013 | 16 Comments

IMG-20130115-01049.jpg(CNS):  Updated — Commuters to George Town were faced with clouds of black smoke this morning billowing from a local bus, but it is not clear what caused the vehicle to be engulfed as there did not appear to be any fire, according to witnesses. A CNS reader took a photo of the scene and police who were called to the location have now confirmed that there was no evidence of a fire or explosion relating to the vehicle.There were no passengers on the bus at the time and an RCIPS spokesperson said despite the billowing black clouds the driver who was alone on the bus reported an overheated radiator as the cause of the smoke and no injuries.

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Turtle farm still polluting sea

| 15/01/2013 | 68 Comments

turtle-swimming-grand-cayman.jpg(CNS): Despite the requirements of its licence, the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm is still polluting the ocean, its 2011 annual report has revealed. Among the many other problems facing the beleaguered West Bay facility, the auditors confirmed that the farm is essentially bankrupt and kept afloat only by injections of capital from the public purse and from loans guaranteed by government — by extension the Caymanian taxpayer. The report reveals that the farm, which is currently under pressure from international animal rights groups, earned even less revenue in 2011 than the year before, despite various efforts to stop the rot, creating a growing bill for an already financially strapped government.

According to the latest annual report, which was audited by KPMG, the farm remains at risk from potential legal action after its failure to acquire the correct environmental permits between 2007 and 2008. This has left the company exposed to possible litigation and the imposition of fines. However, when the audit was undertaken KMPG stated that so far there has been no legal action initiated against the company or any fines levied.

By July 2009 a two-year permit was eventually granted to the Turtle Farm for its effluent discharge but under the terms of the licence it was obligated to reduce this by some 50%, which the auditors say the farm has not done. Despite engaging external consultants to assist in complying with the terms of the permit and the relevant environmental laws, the farm has still failed to meet the required reduction in the waste and pollution it discharges into the ocean.

The report indicates that the farm has not been able to meet the effluent reduction goals of its permit “as a result of the cutbacks and cost constraints” on the facility. It concluded that the company needed to make a significant capital investment to install a system appropriate to meet the requirements. However, management has also decided that the system originally recommended would not necessarily meet its requirements and could have an adverse impact on air quality in the community, which it believes may be even worse than the pollution in the ocean.

In addition, during 2011 the farm hemorrhaged even more cash as profits plummeted, the report reveals. Gross profit at the farm was $3.6 million in 2011 compared with $4.6million in 2010. Although expenses at the farm decreased, there was still a significant loss of almost $8 million — a bill picked up by the local taxpayer.

In their assessment of the farm the auditors made it clear that, without the continued support from the public purse, the facility could not continue as a going concern. In total government was forced to inject $9.8 million in 2011 to keep the tourist facility open.

KPMG said that the cost overruns of the development of the facility, lower than projected visitor numbers and operating costs in excess of the initial budget had all given rise to significant business risks that cast uncertainty over the company's ability to continue.

The farm has suffered significant operational losses since the 2006 financial year ended, shortly after the controversial redevelopment of the complex was completed. As a result, the company is unable to discharge its obligations as they become due in the ordinary course of business without recourse to lending, which was only secured via a guarantee from government — essentially the wider public.

The results of the 2011 financial year, the auditors said, indicate that the company continues to generate significant losses from operations and is experiencing serious cash flow difficulties, despite efforts to address the problem, which have included increasing the price of turtle meat and considering the possibility of selling turtle shells. In 2010 the company laid off 20 workers and during the 2011 financial year it reduced the remaining staff’s salaries by as much as 15% for some people.

The farm is currently undergoing an independent review in the face of an international animal rights group's findings of inhumane treatment, overcrowding, poor water conditions and general husbandry, cannibalism, disease and injury among the turtle population, as well as other worrying charges.

The farm has denied the accusations and commissioned a report, which has now been completed, but it has not made it clear when or if the public will see the final results.

Copies of the annual report do not appear on the Cayman Turtle Farm's website. However, they are available in hard copy from the Legislative Assembly and should also be available on request at the Cayman Turtle Farm in West Bay. (If any CNS reader has a copy of the report and has the time and resources to scan the document, we'll be happy to publish.)

Vote in the CNS poll: What should government do with the Turtle Farm?

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Prison aims to professionalise staff

| 15/01/2013 | 17 Comments

Prison entrance.JPG(CNS): With change on the horizon at the prison and hopes that the system can do more to turn offenders around, government’s next step in an attempt to professionalise the service is to encourage staff to go back to school. In order to make things easier for them, the prison has partnered with the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) to create courses that can be taken by employees of the Cayman Islands Prison Service at the training centre in HMP Northward. Natalie Cesar, the prison’s new deputy director and a staunch advocate for learning in the prison system, among inmates as well as staff, admitted that in the past the prison had got things wrong. But now, she said, it was on the road to putting things right and that meant the service must start with its own employees.

Starting this month managers and supervisors will begin a course in communication and leadership leading to an associate’s degree, giving them the tools to perform better when it comes to leading staff, officials said.

With rehabilitation set to take centre stage, HMP Northward will attempt to shift from a place that is seen as merely warehousing offenders until they can be lawfully released, often only to re-offend again, to a place that gives those in the criminal justice system a real chance to change. While the prison staff are an important component of this shift, it has been said in the past that the levels of illiteracy among the prisoners at HMP Northward is matched only by that of some of the staff. As a result, the prison is seeking to make a significant change and improve the standards of education in the prison across the board.

Despite the public perception of Northward as a place of luxury and recreation, the reality is very different. Inmates at Northward face untold challenges, not least because the vast majority of them have either very poor levels of education, unidentified learning difficulties, or mental health problems.

Although the prison has been relatively successful at keeping inmates away from the rest of society while they serve their prison terms, it has failed in its obligation to rehabilitate offenders and offer them a chance to change and live a crime free life once they are released.

Warehoused as they have been in the past, with only a few prisoners having any kind of academic or meaningful vocational training, many offenders are learning nothing more than how to be better criminals while they are incarcerated. As a result of the prison system's exclsuive focus on security, the rehabilitation of offenders has been neglected creating a significant problem for society.

Caesar told CNS that the goal now was community safety and that meant embarking on a new course with education for prisoners and staff at the heart of it.

“We want to take the prison service into the 21st century as a centre of correctional excellence,” she said. “In the past we didn’t do the right thing but now we are and we are being transparent about that. With all that government wants to change, this is how we are going to make that change.”

The prison has faced several reviews and reports recently by various external bodies that have identified significant problems at Northward, including overcrowdedness, a very high record of recidivism and a poor rehabilitation record.

The government's Portfolio of Internal Affairs has promised change and has already begun restructuring the service's management. Other major changes are expected to be announced shortly.

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One robbery suspect charged

| 15/01/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following the arrest of four men last week in connection with a jewel heist in the heart of Grand Cayman’s tourist district, one suspect has been charged.  A 28-year-old man was charged with robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence for the Kirk Freeport robbery last Monday evening. The local man was alsocharged with possession and consumption of ganja and possession of an offensive weapon. A police spokesperson said the suspect, who has not been named by police, remains in custody but it is anticipated he will appear in court tomorrow, 15 January.

Three other men who were arrested in connection with the same crime have all been bailed pending further enquiries.

The incident took place at the duty free store in the Strand at around 6:45pm, when the shop was occupied by visitors to the island. Four armed masked men, one of whom was brandishing a handgun, made off with a significant number of Rolex and Breitling watches during the armed hold-up.

Police said they are continuing to follow positive lines of enquiry and ask anyone who witnessed the robbery or saw the suspects either before or after the incident to come forward. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force at 949-4222 or, if you wish to remain anonymous, contact CrimeStoppers on 800 TIPS.

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