Archive for April 12th, 2014

Drug council goes on attack against booze

| 12/04/2014 | 27 Comments

(CNS): The National Drug council is mounting an offensive against booze this month to emphasise what it says are the dangers of drinking. Switching its focus to the legal drug which is still considered by the agency as a greater problem than any other drug used in the Cayman Islands officials described it as a “a very powerful and dangerous drug,” in a statement released Friday revealing the anti-booze campaign. “The immediate effects of a small amount of alcohol include: a change in your brain’s chemistry which results in reduced inhibitions, impaired judgment, slowed reactions, slurred speech, memory problems, breathing problems, loss of coordination and in some cases death,” the NDC stated.

Planning a radio, TV and press campaign to scare drinkers sober the government supported agency is calling on people not to be fooled by the lure of alcohol as it warned that those who are under the influence of alcohol are also highly likely to find themselves in unsafe situations.  “Alcohol can be a contributing factor in many of our altercations, assaults, car crashes, and deaths,” the agency said.

“Those persons who consume large amounts of alcohol over a longer period of time tend to have a high tolerance, allowing them to mask behavioral cues that might otherwise indicate intoxication,” the NDC warned adding that the long termimpact of drinking increases the risk of a catalogue of diseases.

Booze has a well-documented risk of causing liver disease, heart disease, sleep disorders, depression, and stroke, bleeding from the stomach, sexually transmitted infections from unsafe sex, and several types of cancer.  Women who drink when they are pregnant increase the risk of causing brain damage along with other serious problems to their unborn babies. 

“Don’t be deceived by alcohol’s advertising image or believe the myth that alcohol doesn’t affect you,” officials from the NDC said as they pressed the campaign message home. “The truth is alcohol is a powerful and dangerous drug which carries many risks that include health complications and can ultimately lead to alcohol addiction. No one starts drinking intending to become an alcoholic, contract a sexually transmitted disease or a serious illness. The negative effects and consequences of drinking far outweigh the positive image portrayed in advertisements,” the NDC added.

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Merren makes no pleas in latest court hearing

| 12/04/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 47-year-old Caymanian businessman appeared in court Puerto Rico Friday to answer charges of money laundering and drug trafficking but it is understood that Bryce Merren did not enter any pleas, despite being due for arraignment. Merren is still being held on remand in the Guaynabo jail on the US-owned Caribbean island in relation to the case, in which Merren appeared to be caught out in a sting operation, when he allegedly attempted to make a drug deal with undercover agents. He is charged with three counts of conspiracy and attempts to possess and distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, as well as money laundering connected to the proposed deal.

US law enforcement agencies claim Merren was involved in a plot to smuggle up to three thousand kilos of cocaine and he sent US$200,000 from a Cayman bank account to one in Puerto Rican as a first payment on the deal.

A further date has not yet been confirmed for Merren’s next court appearance.

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Political storm on OCC report

| 12/04/2014 | 29 Comments

(CNS): A government backbencher issued a statement Friday, accusing the chair of the oversight committee for the Complaints Commissioner of "political posturing" on a vote in the Legislative Assembly when government failed to back a motion to adopt recommendations in a report on whistleblowing. Al Suckoo said he wasn’t at the most recent meeting and knew nothing of Ezzard Miller’s plans to call on government to adopt the report at the time it was presented and felt compelled to abstain. But the Bodden Town MLA has gone much further, implying that the PPM government is under a deliberate attack and because of his relationship with the North Side and East End members, efforts were being made to “pick me off”, he said.

“I encourage the members from East End and North Side to reject the current campaign of destabilisation perpetrated by those selfish individuals who do not want to take the same approach that I have, and who are putting selfish political agendas before what is best for the country, and ask them to join me in my efforts to give the Eastern Districts the leadership we promised,” Suckoo stated, adding that he was extending his hand to them and asking them not to muddy the waters and make the government appear ineffective. “It is all politically motivated and part of a much larger campaign designed to win back the government,” Suckoo added, implying some collusion with the two independent members, Miller and Arden McLean, and the three former UDP opposition party members.

Suckoo said the motion, which was presented on Wednesday, was not discussed with him and he was completely taken by surprise when it was put forward, despite being a member of the committee, though he said he was fully supportive of the efforts of the commissioner.

“I am aware that the government is now working at an advanced stage on whistleblower legislation and I intend to contribute to and support this effort and to encourage the government to complete this process in the shortest timeframe possible.”

Suckoo criticized Miller for bringing the motion at the time the report was laid as he said it would have been “more productive” for the report to be taken to caucus first to ask for government support rather than bringing it with no warning and expect the government to accept the report’s recommendations with no discussions.

At the time the report on whistleblowing by Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams was presented to the LA on Wednesday morning, Miller moved a motion, which he said was supported by the oversight committee and had been suggested by committee member Roy McTaggart, who in the end voted against it.

He had pointed out that the recommendations in it had been made over and over in various past reports and government had still done nothing. The point of the motion, he explained, was to commit the authorities to a timetable of implementation.

Responding to Suckoo’s allegations, he said, “My only regret about following the Oversight Committee’s instruction in laying the report, "Let the Whistle Blow", on Wednesday April 9 was the alarming absence of whistles blowing,” pointing to the limited debate on the motion when he presented it.

“Words fail to adequately express by most profound disappointment that members of the Legislative Assembly did not take advantage of the opportunity presented to them by the committee to debate the report and clearly inform their constituents, Caymanians and residents at large what their positions are on each of the ten recommendations. This was also the only opportunity they will have to clearly articulate for the public, in public and on record in the Hansard of the LA, which of the ten recommendations they are not accepting and their rational for doing so.

“Unfortunately the public we all represent doesn’t know how many of the ten recommendations made by the complaints commissioner have been rejected by the government. Is it only the recommendation calling for whistle blowing legislation that has been accepted by the government,” Miller told CNS, adding that he supported the implementation of all ten recommendations.

“I have every confidence that when the minutes of the meetings are made public as part of the committee’s annual report at the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly, I will be absolved from any wrongdoing or breaching any of the standing orders,” he said.

CNS spoke to Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who said government had rejected Miller's motion because there had been limited discussion beforehand between the elected and official arms of government. However, he said there was just one specific recommendation that may cause an issue, which referred to a "minister for the civil service", and the constitutional issues that such a proposal posed for the Cayman Islands Government.

See Suckoo's statement in full below and related CNS story: Whistleblower-motion-fails

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UK plans new rules to jail tax avoiders

| 12/04/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNSBusiness): The UK is planning tough new measure to crack down on tax evasion by removing the need for authorities to show intent to avoid tax before they can be prosecuted. Offshore account holders who avoid paying tax would face bigger fines and could be jailed more easily if new criminal standards, where officials will only have to show money was taxable and undeclared, are adopted. Chancellor George Osborne said Friday that he will change the law to make it easier for the tax man to mount criminal prosecutions. He said the changes would mean there was "no safe haven" for those evading tax. Osborne said government will consult on a new criminal standard, harsher fines and increased jail time. Read more on CNS Business

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Public urged to nominate nurses for annual gong

| 12/04/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS): The annual nomination process for the Eloise Reid Award for Excellence in Nursing, sponsored this year by Tenet Health has now opened and people who know a nurse who should be appreciated are asked to nominate them for the gongs. The names of those nurses who the public believe should be recognised for their exceptional contribution and service to the Cayman should be submitted by 5 May. The Eloise Reid Award for Excellence in Nursing was launched six years ago and is awarded each year during Nurses Week. 

Candidates for the nursing award can be nominated by their peers, patients, or other colleagues who feel a nurse deserves an award for remarkable service.  Nominees must have demonstrated excellence in the application of the standards for nursing practice and code of ethics, and have made exceptional contributions to the nursing profession in clinical practice. 

“There are many dedicated, outstanding nurses living and working in the Cayman Islands.  This award is a great way to bring us all together to celebrate the hard work that nurses do, and recognise the vital support that they offer to the healthcare profession,”  said Eloise Reid, former Health Services Authority CEO and Chief Nursing Officer for whom the award is named.  “I encourage everyone to take the time to think of a nurse who has gone above and beyond in her duties, and make the effort to submit his/her name so that we can in turn show our appreciation as colleagues.”

Nominees will be assessed on a number of criteria including  the possession of high ethical standards; serving as a resource for colleagues and taking the initiative to mentor others; their impact on the quality patient care system; exhibiting the characteristics of a positive role model with strong leadership and interpersonal skills; an expert level of competency in the delivery of holistic care; the ability and desire to acquire new learning and incorporate it in the practice environment; their promotion of a high quality nursing practice environment; their advocacy for quality health care; and their demonstrated commitment to the promotion of the nursing profession.

The winner will be chosen by a selection committee, which is appointed by the Chief Nursing Officer, Hazel Brown.  The winner will be announced and the award presented by Tenet Health at the conference’s welcome cocktail reception on Monday, 12 May at the Marriott Beach Resort. 

Joanna Rose-Wright was the 2013 recipient of the Eloise Reid Award and she said  it is important to show appreciation for the efforts of nurses.

“It is an honour to receive such a prestigious award. I am very passionate about my profession; I have been practicing to be a Nurse from I was a child. She encouraged all nurses to maintain professionalism and always strive for excellence”.

Nomination forms are available at the Health Services Authority or can be downloaded from the Cayman Islands Nurses Association’s website (www.cina.ky).  For more information, call 244-2610 or 244-2617.  

urses Week 2014 will be held from Saturday, 10  May to Friday, 16 May and includes the three-day nursing conference which runs from Wednesday, at the Marriott Beach Resort. Aa 5K fun run/walk that starts at 6.30am at Camana Bay on Saturday, 10 May.

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GT Road closed for heavy equipment convoy

| 12/04/2014 | 5 Comments

(CNS): West bound traffic along the Linford Pierson Highway will be diverted at the Junction of Agnes Way from 6am until 6pm today, Saturday 12 April. The diversion andtemporary road closure will clear the road westward to the Bobby Thompson round-a-bout due to a police escort of heavy equipment and building materials to the Fairbanks area. Motorist are asked to avoid  Bobby Thompson Way, Huldah Avenue near the Cricket Field and the Bobby Thompson round-a-bout as the heavy equipment is escorted from the George Town Harbor via these roads to Fairbanks. Police said officers will be on hand to assist motorist.

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Rivers lobbying colleagues for troubled kids

| 12/04/2014 | 28 Comments

(CNS): The education minister is lobbying her own political colleagues in Cabinet to do something about the current gap in the system when it comes to troubled kids. Speaking about violence and behaviour problems at local schools Tara Rivers told the Legislative Assembly Thursday that there were discussions, committees, strategies, programmes, activities, wraparound policies, partnerships and action plans in place but pointed out that inthe end there are a number of students with behaviour and mental health issues that are beyond the scope of her ministry. Calling for urgent action she said secure therapeutic accommodation was desperately needed.

In her statement, which comes in the wake of various reports of serious violence and discipline problems in the government high schools, Rivers said a small number of students were having a particularly negative impact. Listing the various action plans and programmes that she said the ministry and the education department were involved in with the goal of keeping schools safe, Rivers admitted, that in some cases the problem couldn’t be addressed in the school or by ministry strategies.

“It must be stated that some of the challenges faced by our school communities from those students who are struggling with severe, complex and significant behavioural or mental health issues go beyond the scope of my Ministry alone,” she said. “These young people pose a risk to both their school environments and their community, and they require intensive and specific interventions to address their needs. Unfortunately, there is a gap in suitable secure therapeutic accommodation for these young people.”

She said that the government, of which she is a part had to act with some urgency and she said she would “continue to lobby” for a “proper mental health facility suitable to address the mental health and wellness needs of a growing population of students,” as the minister added “schools alone are not equipped to deal with such cases.”

Rivers spoke about taking school safety very seriously and said she was being “proactive in addressing the challenges faced by government schools” with a mantra that had been communicated to all staff of ‘no excuses, just solutions’.

Taking about “extensive discussions” and visits to schools to “listen to the concerns raised about school discipline and student behaviour,” she said it was clear everyone wants “schools that are safe, welcoming, supportive and inclusive learning environments.”

Rivers said strengthening the provisions for special education needs was vitally important and she has asked for a “draft an action plan to identify priority areas” and a review of “processes to support the identification, assessment, monitoring and provision for students with behavioural needs.”

She said government recognised that prompt action was needed to address the concerns about behaviour and discipline. “Significant work is well underway to define key expectations and strengthen the way in which school discipline and student behaviour is managed going forward. Stake holders, including parents and students, will be consulted and asked to provide feedback about the existing school code of conduct and home-school agreement. Working groups in the high schools have started to review their school polices with the aim of having fairly apportioned rewards and sanctions according to behaviours demonstrated,” she added.

Rivers said a campaign was in the works to communicate expectations about discipline and behaviour to the community before the new school year and new policies would ensure “consistent standards across the country”.

See full statement below

 

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