Archive for July 8th, 2014

Suspect cases of mosquito diseases sent for tests

| 08/07/2014 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Following the confirmation of Cayman’s first imported case of chikungunya virus last month, public health officials said Tuesday that two more blood samples are now being tested to rule out dengue or chikungunya. The patients in both of these latest case did not present with classic symptoms of either illness but the tests are being undertaken as a routine precaution as both diseases continue to spread across the Caribbean region. Both dengue and chikungunya are transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Symptoms of dengue include fever, headache, muscle aches, joint pains, pain behind the eyes, and rash.  Among chikungunya symptoms are fever, joint pains, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. While joint pain is predominant in chikungunya, as muscle pain is in dengue, both illnesses share some clinical signs that can be misdiagnosed. For this reason, patients with these symptoms are investigated for both dengue and chikungunya. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) also tests, blood samples for both viruses. 

When travelling to countries with dengue and chikungunya virus, persons should use insect repellent containing DEET, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning, or that have window and door screens.

 

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Brac graduate earns ‘Proud of Them’ award

| 08/07/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Government has announced that the 2014 'Proud of Them' recipient is Leshontae Missick, the valedictorian of the Layman E. Scott Sr. High School’s class of 2014, who is now taking A Levels at Cayman Prep and High School with a career goal to become a psychiatrist. Leshontae’s graduation address spoke on the subject of “Moving Forward”, a theme that referred to young people’s efforts to progress academically, as well as to make contributions to wider society. She told her classmates that rather than a new beginning, their passing-out ceremony marked a continuation of their individual goals.

“Continue to follow our dreams. I encourage you to seize the opportunities before you, and to carry on with your education. Don't give up now!” she said.

Last year, at the age of 15, Leshontae passed all ten of her exams with top grades, and is now undertaking A-Level studies. This is unsurprising, for a teen who last year filled the role of “Deputy Governor” during the annual meeting of the National Youth Parliament. She recently obtained a different perspective, filling the position of Leader of the Opposition in this year’s Youth Parliament.

Balancing academic life with extra-curricular activities during her high school years, Leshontae excelled in swimming, football, and track and field. Her talent and dedication earned her the Senior Champion Girl award from her high school.

Equally gifted in the arts, Leshontae earned several gold, silver and bronze awards in the National Children’s Festival of the Arts, in areas including dance performance, speech and poetry.

Minister for Youth Osbourne Bodden congratulated the Sister Islands recipient, saying, “We always hear about the importance of being ‘well-rounded’, but Leshontae is a sterling example of how teens can balance life in and outside the classroom. Through hard work and clear focus, they can indeed maintain direct paths to excellence in their early lives. She is truly inspirational to people of all ages.”

A beacon to her peers, Leshontae has never had a disciplinary incident. She has also served with distinction on her high school’s student council, was a prefect, and was captain of her school house, ‘Northwester’.           

Community service also comes naturally for Leshontae. She was President of Cayman Brac’s Leo Club; which was a natural progression since she previously served as Vice-President. However, relocating to Grand Cayman meant that she had to step down from that position.

In her earlier years, she filled various other roles since joining the service organisation in 2008. Some pet projects included annual Christmas functions for children and the elderly, as well as environmental clean-ups.

Leshontae’s advice to her peers mirrors her personal mantra: “You will excel at whatever you put your mind to. So, put your mind to what you're good at, your passion. In the future, and regardless ofyour chosen careers, be proud of your honest living.”

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Cops charge woman with two local burglaries

| 08/07/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As the RCIPS continues to battle with a spike in burglaries and break-ins at both homes and business across Grand Cayman, officers rounded up another burglar this weekend. A 38-year-old woman from Bodden Town has been charged with two separate burglaries that occurred in the district, one in the last week and one in May. Police said the suspect was also charged with drug related offences and was due to make an appearance in Summary Court Tuesday.

 

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New student awards go to first ever recipients

| 08/07/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A local college student who felt boosted by the recognition he received when he won an several accolades led him to create the “Pursuit of Excellence” awards designed to encourage local students. Lloyd Barker, who is currently studying for a business degree in Canada established the award to motivate and inspire young people to offer a helping hand to one another and acknowledge and award young people aiming for excellence. David Lee, from the Cayman International School and Alyssa Ebanks from John Gray have become the first recipients of what Barker hopes will grow into a wider project offering scholarships and more for students truly striving for excellence.

“This award is to encourage young people and show their good works are not going unnoticed,” he said. “It is to provide an incentive for students to continue working hard, allowing their hard work to be an example to others. The nominees were reviewed and the recipients were decided based on academic, character, and community excellence. The award recognizes individuals who best incorporate the three elements in their lives, serving as leaders to their peers and maximizing their capacities.”

David Lee, was singled out as the most well rounded student in the private schools category who as well as doing well academically was marked out by his altruism and discipline as well as balancing many activities with his school work and maintaining some of the best grades.

Meanwhile, it was Alyssa Ebanks from John Gray who received the government school award also balancing a list of after-school volunteer work with her studies Alyssa works at the humane society and plays trumpet in the school band. A prefect and a member of the School Flight Club since 2011 and served as Club President from 2012-2014where as a result of her involvement, she was identified as a candidate to pursue her private pilot licence at just 16 years old. Earning “Best Report” at John Gray High School this year and last her humanitarian qualities, Barker said along with her motivation made her the first choice for the public school recipient.

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Minister plans school sell-off

| 08/07/2014 | 110 Comments

(CNS): The local education system could be facing a dramatic change in the near future as the minister considers the creation of grant-maintained, charter-based academies or independent schools financed via a combination of private sector and government money. However, such schools that choose to adopt to the new system will be able to pick and choose students, rejecting those that have learning difficulties or behaviour problems and running the risk of creating a two tier system. The education minister has confirmed that she is “critically reviewing the education system” and the law to facilitate independence for public as well as private schools.

Caymanian parents won’t necessarily have to pay for their children’s education if they do not have the means, and the cost of attending private or grant-maintained schools will still be met by the public purse. However, which school a child attends would, under such a system, have a great deal more to do with their ability to pass entrance exams, auditions, tests or other selection criteria rather than the catchment area in which they live.

Tara Rivers, the education minister, said that the review of the current system would prioritize tackling behaviour concerns, governance, vocational services and the introduction of an independent and objective inspections regime. However, the minister also appears to be taking a very different approach to that set out in the PPM manifesto, which pointed to equality in the education system and the need to implement the law drawn up by Premier Alden McLaughlin when he was education minister between 2005 and 2009.

Rivers told CNS that she will also be looking at that education law, which was passed just before the end of the PPM’s previous term but was never implemented by Rolston Anglin, who held the education reins during the UDP government. 

“The intention is to revise and update the Education Modernisation Law … over the coming year to facilitate the changes, and to deal with technical breaches and other requirements necessary to update the Law in light of the new Constitution of the Cayman Islands and other relevant legislation coming into effect since the passing of the original law,” shesaid.

“The proposal is to establish a governance model that will revolutionise the delivery of public education services through public-private partnerships. A board or boards of governors or similar entity is anticipated to be established and will manage the operational aspects of each of the schools under their purview, with regulatory oversight provided by the Ministry of Education, and each school will be assessed regularly by the independent inspections unit to be established,” the minister added.

Rivers said the aim with a public-private model of education is to raise the standard of education and to facilitate the Cayman Islands in becoming a centre of excellence for education.

“The proposal is still under discussion and development within the ministry and has yet to be discussed in full detail with Caucus,” she revealed

Although in its early days, it appears that while the minister has the full backing of her Coalition for Cayman colleagues, who ran a double page advertisement in the local paper on Friday calling for reform, CNS understand that she may not have the full backing of the PPM government.

CNS has contacted the premier for comment but is still awaiting a response.

Rivers’ elected C4C colleagues are understood to be backing the plans, as does the wider membership of the C4C, the platform of the political group on which Rivers campaigned. It is understood that C4C members are doing the rounds to persuade local NGOs and associations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, to back this radical departure from the vision of the premier. When Alden McLaughlin was education minister he spoke often about creating a world class modern, education system based on equality and the learning needs and abilities of the children in the system.

In its campaign advertisement the C4C heralded the idea of adopting an ARK type system akin to the UK but which has come in for considerable criticism.

Those who have concerns about the system say it leaves kids who can’t make the grade in the specialist schools concentrated in under-funded government schools, creating a two tier system not unlike the much maligned grammar and secondary modern system, which was changed in the 1970s because of its inequality, segregation and early labelling of children as failures.

In the face of recent genuine concerns in the government school system, not just about the poor standards of behaviour among students, but teachers as well, the clamour for an overhaul from those parents engaged in their kids’ education is loud and clear.

However, when the examination statistics are all confirmed by the education department very soon, the public high schools are all expected to post record breaking results this year which far outrank schools in the region. Despite the difficulties faced by a not insignificant number of children, most of Cayman’s students in the public school system are not failing anywhere near as badly as people believe.

Nevertheless, there is still a significant number of children with special educational needs and who have behavioural problems as a result of the neglect or abuse they are facing in their home environments. But the ability for private, grant-maintained, charter or academy schools to choose their students via entrance exams and other criteria will marginalise these most vulnerable kids and the ones that need the most attention.

The public purse will then be left to pick up the full tab for all those children and create schools especially for failing students, not only marking them from the very beginning but placing them in more overcrowded disadvantaged environments. With funding cuts and a higher concentration of lower socio-economic parents, these schools will thenstruggle to attract private sector money of any kind.

The segregation of children is not always very successful and rarely so for those at the bottom of the socio-economic or academic pile.

This issue was brought to the fore by the previous minister, Rolston Anglin, when he closed the Alternative Education Centre. The unit had been created for children with behavioural problems with the intention of creating a specialist learning environment for those kids who were struggling in the mainstream. However, the centre's only claim to fame was that almost all of its former students have either been killed in gang related violence, are currently in jail or have been released after serving at least one prison term.

See related story on CNS:

Brac graduates blaze a trail

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Our communal shame

| 08/07/2014 | 29 Comments

It is settled law that the Cayman Islandsis subject to the European Convention on Human Rights and in particular the protection of refugees. The ancient 1999 treaty between the Cayman Islands and Cuba clearly violates that treaty but Cayman Islands Government has been bound by Cuban rope in continuing to implement what is clearly an inhumane policy. Semantic debates on refugees and migrants should be ignored.

The repeated delays by the Cuban Government to meet and settle a new treaty is unconscionable at best and lethal at worst.

Talk like this in Cuba would rush me to a long term cell reservation at Kilo 7 in Camaguey but Cayman is no Cuba and these Islands have the strong beating heart of humane democracy.

The Cayman Islands is not a cold war satellite of Cuba and should not be a pawn in the implementation of their domestic policy.

History is replete with the conflict of officials ordered to effect immoral or illegal acts. During the holocaust the Nazis propped up their execution squads with a steady flow of alcohol. When the ghosts of Cubans casualties rise from their watery grave to torment those responsible, some will no doubt seek the solace of liquor.

Immigration officers slapping biscuits from the hands of refugees do not bode well for our Cayman Kind promotion.

Our competitor in tourism can sit back and laugh as we approach the brink of boycott by foreign entities who do not take kindly to human rights abuses.

The past treatment of the LGBT community saw much back paddling when there was a threat of international fallout.

Forewarned is forearmed.

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DEH mops up Brac oil leak

| 08/07/2014 | 9 Comments

(CNS): An oil spill at the Brac dump last week was from the used oil at the site that had been stored in deteriorating 5-gallon buckets and 55-gallon drums that were open and partially filled. According to the director of the Department of Environmental Health (DEH), who personally supervised the clean-up, there was evidence that the drums were “knocked or tipped over, either accidentally or deliberately, and those oils significantly contributed to the oil spill on site”. Roydell Carter said that some of the small plastic containers had started to deteriorate and leak but did not contribute significantly to the oil spillage. Photos of a thick layer of oil seeping directly into the ground were taken by Brac resident Dalkeith Ebanks. CNS send the pictures on to Carter and the minister responsible, Osbourne Bodden, and Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, who has responsibility for the Sister Islands.

The next day, Thursday 3 July, the DEH director travelled to Cayman Brac to supervise the clean-up, along with the DEH foreman of recycling operations. Working with the DEH’s Brac team and an un-named private company, the spilled oil and soil was collected and placed in a separate area of the landfill for further processing.

“All of the remaining used oils in the small containers were transferred to new 55-gallon drums and secured on site. The area now has new soil material in place,” he stated.

Explaining how this could have happened, Carter said that, in addition to the poor storage conditions, the used oils were being stored on a sloped area, "which caused the spilled oils to accumulate in a designated area making the clean-up process fairly straight forward without any difficulty.” However, he admitted that there was “definitely room for improvements in the landfill operations and recycling programmes on the Sister Islands” and said that the staff would also undergo necessary training to improve operations.

DEH staff do monitor the site periodically, he maintained, but members of the public can bring in used oils at any time in any kind of container.

“The public can also tamper with what is on site since the landfill is unsecured at this time. Staff were aware that some containers had unsecured covers and others had secured lids but may develop slow leaks,” he said. “As previously mentioned it appeared that some used oil containers were recently knocked over or tipped over, whether deliberately or accidently.”

The director said that the DEH will make some additional improvements to the used oil storage on the Brac, which will include using a different storage area at the landfill, proper signage, use of recently acquired purpose-built oil storage and shipping tanks that can hold about 350 gallons of used oils, and transfer of the used oils when the containers are full.

“All used oils brought to the landfill site by the public in improper containers will be transferred on a regular basis to the new used old storage and shipping tanks that will soon be on site,” he said. “Meanwhile, used oils will continue to be temporarily stored in good quality 55-gallon drums that can be secured to prevent oil spillage.”

There is a used oil programme for the Sister Islands where the accumulated oil is shipped once or twice a year‎ to Grand Cayman, Carter explained. The shipment frequency depends on used oil volumes but generally the used oils are transferred between June and July. He said the oil now at the Brac site was placed there by the public since removal last year.

“The DEH has a plan in place to remove all used oils on site this month since the new budget has been approved and this will be an ongoing programme,” the director stated.

“The DEH recycling team has already transferred the used oils at the site into new sturdy 55-gallon drums in preparation for transfer to Grand Cayman this month for further processing, where the old will be tested and combined with the other oil supplies for final shipment off-island to a recycling facility in the United States. All used oils on the Sister Islands will be shipped to Grand Cayman for further processing,” he said.

“The DEH would like the Brac public not to interfere with the oil storage area or remove any items from the landfill site as in the process they may cause an accident, spillage as they may be hurt or injured in the process if the items are not properly secured,” Carter said.

In addition, he said there would be further education of the Cayman Brac public about recycling and the need to properly store oil on the site. The plans, he said, may include closing the landfill to the public after certain hours to enable better management control of the site and to reduce and prevent incidents from occurring when the site is unattended.”

Asked about Little Cayman, he said there is a secured used oil storage area ‎on that island which does not have any problems.

“There is definitely room for improvements in the landfill operations and recycling programmes on the Sister Islands and the public will see and hear more about the procedures and programmes this year,” he stated.

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Teacher admits sexually assaulting students

| 08/07/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 32-year-old school teacher pleaded guilty to indecent assault Friday as well as possessing an indecent image of a child in connection with allegations that he sexually molested at least three students in his care. Delroy James, who has been suspended from his job at a government high school, was remanded in custody to return to court on 1 August to answer seven more related charges. James' defence attorney told the court that he needed time to discuss the other charges with his client before pleas were considered, which include child cruelty.

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