Archive for August 4th, 2014

Fire crews still tackling latest GT dump blaze

| 04/08/2014 | 20 Comments

(CNS) Updated: Although officials from the fire service have said that the latest blaze burning on the George Town dump is under control, fire crews have remained on the scene since Sunday morning when they were first called to the fire. A spokesperson for the service said that crews are continuing to apply water to a few remaining hot spots and at this point the cause of the fire is still not known, though it is understood to be in the main part of the landfill. Fire crews were dispatched to work on the blaze at the dump on Sunday after they received the call from 911 just after 9am. When they arrived at the dump officers found a surface fire roughly 75 by 80 feet. 

Two tankers were immediately put into action, while other officers arranged to move the trailer pump closer to the location to have a massive supply of water. Once the surface fire was extinguished the excavator started to dig the area, which had hot spots as deep as 15 feet. The excavator continued to overturn the garbage and saturate it with water, the spokesperson said.
 
Although there was said to have been no sign of fire at 9:30pm the crews remained and they have continued to deal with the reemergence of fires and keep the area wet.
 

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No formal steps by CIG on turtle meat for tourists

| 04/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): World Animal Protection representative Neil D’Cruze, who was on Grand Cayman last week to meet with the Cayman Islands government, said that they were disappointed that they were not able to come to any formal agreement with CIG regarding the selling of sea turtle meat to tourists. However, he said some key restaurateurs indicated that they would be willing to stop putting turtle on the menu. Watch video on CNS Business

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African Ebola outbreak puts local officials on alert

| 04/08/2014 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Although few Caymanians and residents travel to and from West Africa, the Public Health Department says it is still on alert over the recent outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus in the area. With no borders for communicable diseases, Dr Kiran Kumar, the HSA's medical officer of health, said Cayman could not afford to be complacent. Although it poses an unlikely threat, he warned it was not impossible for a person infected in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone to arrive in the Cayman Islands. Seaport and airportstaff are aware of general protective measures and if they encounter passengers coming from these countries who appear ill, they will refer them to the hospital, where healthcare workers have been advised of the outbreak.

An individual infected with Ebola may arrive in the Cayman Islands with symptoms which began prior to departure or with symptoms that developed in transit or they may arrive before developing any symptoms.

Travellers to West African countries are advised to consult a physician should they develop symptoms while in these countries or on return, especially if they had come in contact with a confirmed or suspected case of Ebola viral disease.

Ebola is a rare but serious and often fatal viral infection that affects humans and animals such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees. It first appeared in Africa in 1976; since then it has spread to ten African Nations. Currently, there is an ongoing outbreak in West Africa, initially reported in March this year in Guinea and since late May has involved Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The mode of transmission is not clear but it is thought that humans become infected through contact with infected animals. When the infection does occur in humans, the virus can be transmitted to others by direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person and exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated with infected secretions. 

The virus that causes Ebola viral disease is often spread through family and friends because they come in close contact with infectious secretions when caring for sick persons. The disease can also spread quickly in health care settings when staff members do not wear appropriate protective equipment such as masks, gowns and gloves.

Symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite. In some cases, patients may experience a rash, red eyes, hiccups, cough, sore throat and chest pain along with difficulty in breathing and swallowing.

For more information on Ebola, a fact sheet can be collected from the Public Health Department or on the following websites:

Public Health England (including the outbreak and maps of affected area)

World Health Organization (WHO)

Center for Disease Control

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Cayman cyclist drops out of road race

| 04/08/2014 | 40 Comments

(CNS): The man who carried the flag for Cayman when the team opened its Commonwealth Games bid last month ended the competition for the country with a disappointment. Michele Smith pulled out of the Men’s Road Race Sunday, within the first three laps of the 12-lap event, which covered 172 kilometers through the streets of Glasgow. He said the conditions were not favorable for a good ride after the surprise summer weather turned a little more usual for Scotland and Smith had concerns about his start position. “It’s a technical course. If you’re not in the right position from the start, I mean you stand no chance of getting to the front," Smith told the CIOC pool journalist.

"From when the race started, I was about 45 seconds from the front of the group. So it was just strung out right from the start. You had the big teams and they wanted to drop the smaller countries to get rid of the danger. Also the course is technical and with the wet conditions that even makes it worse. We didn’t have to make any adjustments to the road bike for this race. They don’t really check your road bikes as much as they check your time trial bikes and that’s just the way the Union Cycliste Internationale is," he added.

Smith was not the only rider to pull out, as a result of choice, injury or mechanical failures. There were 140 riders that started Sunday’s race but only 12 ended up crossing the line with the others receiving Did Not Finish results.

Geraint Thomas of Wales won the gold medal in four hours, 13 minutes and five seconds while Jack Bauer of New Zealand grabbed the silver and Scott Thwaites of England took the bronze in a photo finish as both riders had identical times of 4:14:26.

Before the road race Smith had place 36th out of 60 riders in the 40km time trial with a mark of 58:49:64, well off the pace set by gold medalist England's Alex Dowsett with 47:41.78.

Despite his decision not to complete the road race in the rain he was not overly disappointed by his Games.

“I think it turned out well. Like I told you after the time trial, I came here with two expectations. One was a personal record in the time trial and the other was to finish the road race. You know, we all come into different events with goals, not to say we’re going to achieve them because there are a lot of variables on that day.

“The race had just started and I think it was like 130 that started. You had big teams like Canada that had already dropped out of the race. So, at the end of the day, you’d be lucky if 40 participants finish," he added.

Meanwhile on the squash court mixed doubles competitors Marlene West and Cameron Stafford were defeated by the Republic of Northern Ireland, while Daniel Murphy and Eilidh Bridgeman were beaten by Scotland. Julian Jervis and Myron Blair were eliminated in the men's doubles by Wales.

On the track, the 4x100m relay squad of Tyrell Cuffy, David Hamil, Kemar Hyman and Troy Long were eliminated in the preliminary heats, placing fifth out of six teams with a time of 40.50 secs. There were no surprises when Jamaica went on to take the gold led by Usain Bolt in 37.58 seconds, ahead of England which took silver in 38.02 secs and Trinidad and Tobago with bronze in 38.10 secs.

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Cops investigate Bridger

| 04/08/2014 | 40 Comments

(CNS): In yet another twist in the increasingly costly, discredited Operation Tempura police corruption probe, the RCIPS has stated that Martin Bridger, the lead investigator on the still secret debacle, is now under investigation himself. A spokesperson for the RCIPS said that because Bridger made allegations, which the local cops have dismissed, against the attorney general, the former governor and the FCO's OT security advisor, counter accusations have been made against him over the publication of those allegations and the police are now investigating him. But Bridger has hit back, stating that his concerns have never been fully addressed because he never been interviewed and because there is evidence that the RCIPS has never seen that supports the claims.

In the continuing fallout over the ill-fated internal police investigation that related to allegations of corruption in the RCIPS, the latest twist comes at a time when the Metropolitan police have returned their support to Bridger and will be financing his continued legal battles relating to Tempura. This dismissal of his complaint also comes as the clock is ticking for the governor's office to release the details of an earlier complaint filed by Bridger and the subsequent investigation and dismissal of that by the former governor, Duncan Taylor. 

However, Bridger's concerns that the governor at the time Stuart Jack, the UK's overseas territories' security advisor Larry Covington and Cayman Islands Attorney General Samuel Bulgin had known all along about the alleged illegal entry into a newspaper office by two employees under the supervision of the then police commissioner, Stuart Kernohan, and his chief superintendent, John Jones, have now become a key factor in the discredited probe.

Bridger recently stated that had he known that those officials were all aware of the search at the offices of the late Desmond Seales', he and his men would have packed up and left Cayman in a matter of weeks, saving the local taxpayer literally millions of dollars. However, he said, if they knew but had not told him, allowing him to believe Kernohan and Jones were "on a frolic of their own" when it was, in fact, approved, that was a serious matter. Bridger has said that if that was the case, and he cannot be certain, that would have meant not only was he, his team and the Cayman public mislead but so were the UK cops.

But since Bridger revealed that both Kernohan and Jones have indicated that their direction to staff at the newspaper to explore the Cayman Net News officers out of hours to look for evidence of police corruption was given the nod from the governor's office, and they have evidence to prove it, the RCIPS has now turned on Bridger. They say his allegations have been investigated and are unfounded and the commissioner has already contacted Bulgin, Jack and Covington to say the investigation is over with no offences revealed. The RCIPS accuse Bridger of dropping his accusations and not turning up to an interview.

"Whilst the criminal allegations made by Mr Bridger failed, were unsupported and unproved after analysis of all of the available evidence, his account and publishing of data within the media led to counter allegations of criminal conduct being made in relation to his conduct. Those allegations remain under investigation and are subject to continued inquiry," the police stated.

However, Bridger disagrees and has said that matters cannot have been fully investigated as neither he nor the evidence that he says exists has never been examined by the RCIPS.

"I acknowledge that after nine months of trying to see the commissioner arrangements were eventually made to meet with me," Bridger admitted in a statement Sunday, but he explained why that was: "On two occasions prior to the proposed meeting I wrote to the commissioner telling him that I would not be attending the meeting. He did not acknowledge either of those communications. The impression he has now created is that I simply did not turn up to the meeting, that is incorrect."

Bridger said he has withdrawn his allegation but for good reason, not least because of his lack of faith in the authorities regarding Tempura.

"At the heart of my reasoning to withdraw my criminal allegation is that due to circumstances which have occurred over the last year, my (legal) advisors and I were left in a position where we had no confidence in the RCIPS investigating these difficult and complex issues in the spirit of openness and transparency whereby the search for the truth, wherever it may lay, would be uppermost in the mind of any investigator," he added.

Bridger stated that he made the allegation of crime in good faith after being supported by the Metropolitan Police — a position that, now the funding has been turned back, on appears to have merit.

"The purpose of a criminal investigation is the search for the truth. An investigation does not and should not make judgments of guilt or innocence. I have never sought to do that in respect of Mr Jack, Mr Covington or the Attorney General. That is the responsibility of an investigation and those who may consider prosecution in the future. Each and every week across the world police commence and conduct investigations. This is the cornerstone of the judicial system. Many of those investigations result in the matters not being pursued further," Bridger said.

"The commissioner has indicated that the allegation against me made by those I have alleged against remains outstanding. Of course there will come a time when the commissioner will have to interview me about these matters and that is the right and proper course that he should follow. I wish to make it clear to the commissioner and to the people of the Cayman Islands that I would be prepared to surrender myself for interview in the Cayman Islands, at a mutually agreed time, because that would then allow me to share some of the evidence which the commissioner has not seen in making his assessment and justify why I originally made the allegation of crime to the MPS, supported by statements from Mr Kernohan and Mr Jones," he said, implying that the commissioner's dismissal of this issue may have premature.

Check back to CNS later this week for more on the outstanding documents that the governor's office has been directed to release and the support Bridger now has from Scotland Yard.

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Hospitality school graduates will be job ready

| 04/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The Cayman Islands School of Hospitality Studies will launch in September with its first group of 25 students. Applications are still being accepted for the programme, designed for people between the ages of 17 and 23. The deadline to apply is Friday 8 August and successful candidates to the programme must be Caymanian, have four CXC passes and the right attitude. Watch the video on CNS Business

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Credit cards were scrutinised

| 04/08/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The former auditor general, Dan Duguay, has said that, regardless of the specific policies that were in place over the use of government credit cards at the time when he headed up the public finance watchdog, their use was always scrutinised. In the wake of media headlines recently regarding the use of the cards as well as the opposition leader’s comments on a recent CNS article, Duguay said many audits were conducted into the use of cards when he was at the helm resulting in the now infamous report of "Gasboygate" as well as the arrest and recent charge of Hassan Syed, the former UCCI president. Duguay said the Office of the Auditor General always paid close attention to card use during government audits as they are obvious potential areas of waste as well as dishonesty.

"Expenditures on government credit cards were always reviewed as part of the audit of expenditures. These are high risk expenditures due to their very nature and therefore are always of special interest to all auditors," he told CNS this week. "My office always considered personal expenditures on government credit cards as inappropriate and reported instances when we found them."

Describing the recent arguments about what policies existed in relation to personal use as a complete ‘red herring', Duguay said, "Using a government card for personal use is wrong and politicians shouldn’t need a ‘policy’ to tell them that. It is a matter of ethics and integrity.

"We did find examples where government credit cards were used for personal expenditures and we always commented on such use," he insisted.

Duguay explained that where civil servants paid back the sums taken for personaluse immediately the improper behaviour was noted in the management letter on the audits but that was the end of the matter. However, if repayment had not been made or if it was only made after it became apparent that the audit had revealed the inappropriate or possibly illegal activity, then it was always reported to the Financial Crimes Unit of the RCIPS, Duguay said.

"If a public servant doesn't repay personal expenditures on a government card or only repays when it becomes apparent that they have been caught, it should be investigated … by the appropriate authorities. All use of government credit cards for personal use is wrong. It should never be done," he said.

Duguay said civil servants and public sector workers were well aware of that, as he pointed out that they were always told during audits.

The use or misuse of government credit cards has featured heavily in the local news headlines ever since the notorious misuse of the fuel cards given to government workers was exposed by Duguay in 'Gasboygate' right through to the shocking revelationsin OAG's latest report about government travel expenses.

The current auditor general, Alastair Swarbrick, found that government workers and ministers simply in many cases simply did not supply any receipts or justification for credit card spending. He said that chief offices were completely negligent supervising the use of credit cards in relation to what policies did exist, which he described as a "fundamental failure".

Although the policies regarding the personal use and pay-back of expenditure on a government credit card was ambiguous until 2010, it was clear that credit cards should not be used for buying booze or anything unrelated to the job or not properly justified and accounted for. 

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Man stabbed on Eastern Ave

| 04/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A man was stabbed in the early hours of Saturday morning at a premises on Eastern Avenue. Police say that the 911 Emergency Centre received a report of a stabbing at 2:02 am on Saturday 2 August and one male victim was transported to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town, where he is undergoing treatment. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has not given any details of the incident but say that one man was arrested on suspicion of committing grievous bodily harm and is being interviewed by the Goerge Town CID.

Anyone with any information in relation to this or any other crime is asked to call 949-7777 or 800 CRIMESTOP.

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