Archive for October 13th, 2014

Medical tourism emerging at Shetty hospital

| 13/10/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): While the Shetty hospital has treated several hundred local and regional patients, saved the life of a number of visitors the much anticipated medical tourism is also appearing to take shape after the hospital announced a successful hip replacement for a visiting American patient. Officials from Health City, Cayman said Michael Lepley undertook his own research and decided on the new hospital in East End for the surgery. Desperately in need of the procedure he set out to learn all he could about the availability of options in Asia, Latin America and elsewhere in the Caribbean before he "stumbled upon" Health City Cayman Islands on the Internet.

Lepley explained how he chose the hospital.

"First thing was how quickly I was contacted when I made an enquiry,” he said, adding that Joan Freedman the Patient Care Relations Manager responded almost immediately. This was followed by an hour-long conversation with Dr Alwin Santiago Almeida, the orthopedics and joint replacement surgeon who eventually performed the operation. "I have not had a five minute conversation with a doctor in the United States in five years, so I thought: 'This is a good start.'"

The fact that Health City provides a single quote in terms of cost so that patients do not have the additional stress of coping with post-operative medical bills was an added attraction for Lepley who said that meant he knew what the surgery and care were all going to cost up front. Having been a cruise ship visitor Lepley said, “I knew where it was – and where could you go to beat the Cayman Islands to recover for a couple of weeks?"

Lepley had his first hip replacement in the US while he was covered by company insurance, but as a retiree, he did not have medical coverage for his second replacement at Health City Cayman Islands. "It still cost me more five years ago in the United States to have this done – with insurance – than this whole trip is going to cost me. And that was out of my pocket, deductibles and everything else."

The financial savings made possible by Health City were significant for Lepley but he saw beyond the cost benefits. "I don't think that's the most important thing. This place is just unbelievable (and) the quality of care, the quality of facilities, equipment, the nurses, the technicians, the food, everything's just been top notch."

Unable to dive while he was here for his operation the American patient said he was however, looking forward to a return trip to the Cayman Islands for follow-up tests at Health City, when he will be able to swim. "It's been a tremendous experience for me," he added.
Lepley is exactly the type of patient that Dr Devi Shetty had spoken about attracting when he first presented the idea of his hospital to the government and the people of the Cayman Islands triggering the idea of medical tourism as a third leg of the economy.

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Cayman flight triggers emergency standby

| 13/10/2014 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Problems with the landing gear indicator on Monday’s Cayman airways flight from New York saw airport emergency crews placed on standby by at Owen Roberts International Airport but the troubled aircraft landed without incident. Officials from CAL said an issue with one of the main landing gear position indicating systems while on the planes final approach to Grand Cayman, led to Captain Sean Bent to delay the landing until the position of the gear could be confirmed. Airport emergency crews were placed on standby by Air Traffic Control but the flight crew went through the procedures to confirm that the landing gear was in the extended position and the plane was able to land safely shortly after noon.

The aircraft was taken out of service to rectify the defective indicating system, CAL said which will cause delays to  KX882 Grand Cayman – La Ceiba which is now departing at 5pm and the return leg KX883 which will now leave La Ceiba for Grand Cayman now departing at 7:20pm.

Following the incident Cayman Airways President and CEO, Fabian Whorms said he understood the concerns whenever emergency crews step into action at the airport.

“This event was one where the landing gear was operating correctly and was fully extended, but an anomaly with the position indicating system gave an incorrect reading,” the airline boss stated.

“We understand and appreciate the concern and anxiety that arises whenever emergency crews are placed on standby for a landing at the airport, however, and would like to apologise for any inconveniences arising from this event. Cayman Airways assures the traveling public that the safety of our operations receives nothing but the highest possible attention and priority at all times, and we would like to thank everyone for their understanding, support, and continued patronage,” Whorms added.

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Bush and Misick cases similar, claims ex TCI leader

| 13/10/2014 | 52 Comments

(CNS): Michael Misick has called on the countries in the region to take an interest in what he describes as the manipulation of the justice system in the Turks and Caicos Islands and where the UK has removed his and others caught up in the territory’s corruption scandal, right to a jury trial. Misick said that what has happened to him and his political colleagues is similar to the Bush case but he pointed out that because Cayman’s jury system remains in place the justice system worked and exposed what seemed to be “a British government conspiracy” to tarnish the former CI premier and oust him from politics. “His acquittal shows that a justice system made up of a jury of peers works,” the former TCI premier wrote in an article published by the TCI Sun.

In TCI, Misick stated, there was a “modern day coup d'état” where the UK government and its governors were doing everything in their power to tarnish his and his political colleagues names. He said the law and the cnstitution had been changed in an attempt to prevent them from getting a fair jury trial.

“I believe that if it is right to have a jury trial in the Cayman Islands it must also be right to allow a jury of our peers to judge our guilt or innocence here in Turks and Caicos Islands,” he said. “I believe the justice system here is controlled and manipulated by Helen Garlick, SIPT and others for a specific outcome of their creation,” he added as he spoke about the investigation team which has been pursuing various allegations of corruption against Misick as well as other politicians and local business people for several years.

“They seem to get whatever they want; both civil and criminal. The verdict of Mr. Bush illustrates that the justice system can work in a British overseas territory if it is not tampered with by external whims and fancies, namely the British government and their appointed British Governors,” Misick wrote as he congratulated Bush on his acquittal from corruption related charges.

He asked regional countries, Jamaica and Barbados in particular where he said the local judges were from to examine the removal of the right to a trial by jury which Misick described as a “long standing mechanism geared for dispensing true justice”. He said its removal was undemocratic.

“It is no coincidence that democratically elected leaders of British overseas territories have been faced with unfounded corruption charges and the people of the Cayman Islands, once given a chance through the jury system have exposed this British Government Conspiracy. Here in the Turks and Caicos Islands we are desperately in need of an independent judiciary.”

Despite indicating connections between the situation faced by himself and his colleagues, the Bush and the Misick et al cases are different.

The corruption investigations in TCI stemmed from a report which had identified systemic corruption in the country in 2008 which led to the suspension of the country’s constitution and direct British rule for over two years. Many local politicians and business people were sucked into the wide investigation and Misick fled the country. He was eventually arrested and then extradited from Brazil and is now awaiting trial.

The case in TCI relates to whether or not large sums of money given as political donations by various businessmen and developers in the TCI as well as the sale of crown land amounted to corruption and was illegal.

Bush was charged with misconduct and abuse of office after he used his government credit card to withdraw cash from ATMs and take cash advances from casinos in to gamble on slot machines while travelling on overseas trips in his capacity as premier. Having denied any criminality or wrong doing Bush was cleared by a jury and despite admitting to using his government gold card in casinos, he said the case against him was a conspiracy because of the way it was manipulated. Bush also said his well-publicised arrest under suspicion of theft as well as corruption amounted to trumped up allegations as no theft charges were ever brought.
 

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Man armed with machete robs victim of wallet

| 13/10/2014 | 8 Comments

(CNS): A man was robbed of his wallet by a masked villain armed with a machete late Sunday night as he walked along the West Bay Road near to Andy’s Car Rental. Police have now confirmed that the man was a George Town resident but the street robbery took place in the heart of the Seven Mile Beach tourist area just before midnight. Officers are appealing for possible witnesses or anyone who may have found the discarded brown leather wallet. According to the report to the police the victim said his attacker was wearing a dark coloured hoody and his face covered with what is believed to be a shirt. Anyone with information is asked to please contactthe George Town CID on 949 4222 or Crime Stoppers on 800 TIPS (8477)
 

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Teachers get new guide to help them teach writing

| 13/10/2014 | 8 Comments

(CNS): The education ministry has published a new guide for teachers, which officials have said will give them the tools they need to teach children. The new document, Guidance on Effective Writing Instruction: KS1, is available on the ministry’s website and was developed to act as a professional learning tool to support for teachers’ planning and practice when it comes to teaching kids in the first three years of primary school to write. Meant to supplement and expand on the National Curriculum, officials said the guide “explores the essential components necessary for the development of an effective early years writing programme that will set the foundation for future student achievement.”

The guidance includes a number of key sections, ranging from study programmes to quality standards-based assessment and the education possibilities that teachers can draw upon to support their practice. The ministry stated that, as a whole, the guidance document provides a comprehensive package that teachers can use to inform their teaching and creates consistency in writing instruction across all government primary school Key Stage 1 classes (Years 1-3).

Officials said that each school’s literacy coach will work with teachers to embed the best practices and objectives that are outlined in the document. These coaches help teachers with model lessons, planning, and professional development and were described in a release as “a key resource to improving teaching and learning” in the local education system. Resources have also been purchased by the Department of Education Services (DES) and provided to all schools to help with guidance implementation.

This guide will be followed by another one for Key Stage 2 that will cover the next three primary years. That guide, officials said, would be launched in the next few months. Work has already also started on guides to show teachers how to teach reading, which will be launched in 2015. 

See the guidance document here and below.

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British warship departs after disaster relief review

| 13/10/2014 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Despite speculation by the opposition leader and many of his supporters that a British warship which was visiting Cayman during the course of his trial was a show of power by the British HMS Argyll departed Friday morning without incident following its brief three day visit in which dignitaries sipped cocktails on the deck and the crew took part in various local events and visits. The main purpose of the ships call, according to government officials, was disaster relief planning. The visit to Cayman was part of the vessel’s six-month deployment to the Caribbean and Northern Atlantic and gave the crew an opportunity to provide training, support and reassurance to the UK territory.

HMS Argyll’s Commanding Officer, Commander Paul Hammond said: “It was a great honour to visit Grand Cayman and to continue the long relationship between the Cayman Islands and the Royal Navy. I am delighted we had the opportunity to provide assistance ashore and that we now better understand how we can assist in the event of a hurricane or other disaster.”

Local disaster managers spent time onboard to discuss the capabilities a Type 23 Frigate could provide in the aftermath of a hurricane while the ship’s company was said to have gained a greater understanding of the Cayman Islands. This, they said, will allow more effective assistance should a disaster occur.  Alongside the official work regarding disaster relief 25 crew members also helped with some work at the prison repainting surfaces and undertaking some heavier maintenance on the structure of the prison building. The crew also took part in sporting events and local dignitaries, including the governor, spent an evening on board at a reception and capability demonstration.

The Cayman Marine Unit also received boarding training from the Royal Navy team. Steward Tony Biggar said: “This has been a good opportunity to teach the local marine unit some of our techniques and for us to learn from them…The marine unit and everyone on Grand Cayman have made us feel really welcome here; I really hope I have the opportunity to visit again during my career.”

Officials said that HMS Argyll has deployed to the Caribbean region to provide reassurance and, if required, humanitarian aid and disaster relief support to the UK’s British Overseas Territories and other islands during the hurricane season. HMS Argyll will also conduct counter narcotics patrols in conjunction with the US Coast Guard to enhance regional security and deter illicit activity.    

However, following his acquittal for the misuse of his government credit card in casinos, the opposition leader indicated that he believed that the ship’s arrival as his trial drew to a close was no coincidence. Speaking outside the court house on Thursday following the verdict McKeeva Bush said people should be mindful that a “warship was stuck out on the ocean” and it was not a coincidence and no one could convince him otherwise as he indicated his believe that the UK governor and others had abused their power. “We must put an end to this police state that we are living in,” he said as he spoke about rebuilding the previous partnership that Cayman once had with the British.
 

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Fishermen sighted all around Caribbean

| 13/10/2014 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Several sightings have been reported to the RCIPS from around the region of three local missing men who failed to return from a fishing trip some four weeks ago. The families and the police have appealed to the community, especially boat users, to keep looking for the men as they believe Alton Eddie Philips, James Michael Ebanks and Ray Kennedy Smith could still be alive. Sean Ebanks said his brother and the other missing men are experienced seafarers and it is possible they are still adrift at sea or being held against their will as the asked for people to help rather than hinder the investigation with allegaitons. They also appealed for information on a fourth unknown Jamaican man that may have joined them on the ill-fated trip. 

In a video made by CIGTV the police and family members issue an SOS for their loved ones and make heartfelt pleas for more information and urge other fishermen and sailors to keep a look out.

During the video Sgt Richard Scott who said the men were reported missing on 15 September said the police were in contact with their international counterparts and had undertaken a full scale search but so far there was no sign of the men or their boat. But, the police officer said there had been unconfirmed sightings in Cuba, Jamaica and Honduras and all those leads are being following.

Constable Adrian Clark said that the police have calculated as a result of sea states, winds and current combined with the time the men had been missing their boat would likely now have made landfall somewhere around the region. The police said that they had not given up the search despite the length of time as they recognised the skills the men had.

“Knowing that they are experienced fisherman, these men have gone through similar situations and survived the odds at sea so because of their survivability skills that we know they have we are confident that we are going to continue to look and continue to search,” said Scott.

Appealing to the community in the video, Micheal Ebanks’s brother said there had been a lot of speculation about whether or not the men had gone fishing but he said no of that mattered as they were still missing and there was still a possibility the men could still be found.

“They have been in similar situations and survived and we are hoping that’s the case in this instance as well,” he said in the CIGTV video as he asked fishermen to keep an eye out and the wider community to stop making allegaitons and unless they had accurate information for the police to stop spreading false rumour.

He also revealed the possibility of a fourth person.

“Through our own investigations we have found out that there was a fourth person on the boat who was a Jamaican national and we are asking if anyone knows who this person is, has a name or a picture if they could come forward,” he said as knowing who that person is could help with the investigations.

See the full CIGTV video appeal from the relatives and police here

 

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Mac’s card use ‘unethical’

| 13/10/2014 | 129 Comments

(CNS): While the premier has made little comment on the revelations from the trial of McKeeva Bush, who was acquitted last week on charges of abusing his government credit card, two of government’s back-bench MLAs have raised their concerns about the use by the opposition leader of his CIG card to gamble. Winston Connolly has said that Cayman needs to review its laws and policies on corruption and, at the same time, educate the people about how damaging such unethical practices can be. Alva Suckoo said it was inappropriate and unethical and no elected officials should need to be told it was wrong to use the card for gambling.

Following Bush’s acquittal last week, questions about his gambling and the of use the government credit card as well as his own cards to boost his line of credit for the slot machines are being raised about how appropriate that behaviour was for a premier.

However, the two main issues that have arisen from the trial are not just about the former premier’s apparent gambling problem.

Many people accept that what Bush did with his government credit card was probably not a crime but many believe it was wholly unethical. The trial also highlighted the problems that remain between the UK and Cayman and the power that the governor’s office still has, and which some believe was abused during this case to oust Bush from office viathe backdoor.

The PPM’s Bodden Town MLA, Alva Suckoo, said he was very concerned about Bush using the card for gambling and not seeing that it was an inappropriate and unethical thing to do in the absence of a written policy.

“I guess it now boils down to each representative’s moral and ethical code,” he said.

Not wishing to comment on the jury’s findings in relation to the case, he did however say that Cayman must now find a way to move forward and continue working in partnership with the UK after some of the revelations in the trial.

“The only way this can be successfully done is to thoroughly examine the elements of this trial that have provoked some to question the legitimacy of our relationship with the UK,” Suckoo stated. “We must move expeditiously to address the conspiracy concerns and examine if anyone acted inappropriately, and if they did, ensure that corrective action is taken. We cannot leave this situation festering as no good will come of it, and the sooner we close this chapter in our history the better.”

He said it was necessary to spend some time on this matter to assure the country that there were "no national concerns, no conspiracy to bring us down and no threat to the lives and livelihood of all Caymanians".

He continued,"I hope that the UK would welcome such an approach and I certainly think that after the recent events we owe it to the country to follow through."

Winston Connolly, the Coalition for Cayman George Town MLA, who said he had run on a platform of anti-corruption, was disappointed that the jury had not understood what corruption really is and expressed concerns that there needs to be much more education about the problems and far reaching implication of corruption.

“I came into politics because of my personal opinion that corruption was rampant and I ran on a zero tolerance platform to help stamp that out,” he said. “Parliament and parliamentarians are supposed to be the primary expression of the people’s will and have a primary duty to fight corruption. Parliamentarians need to lead by example. The actions brought out in the case are not actions of a statesman, especially the premier, in my view.”

The back-bencher made it clear that he believed what Bush had done was wrong and people needed to understand why it was wrong and help put a stop to corruption.

“If people don’t have an issue with this then I feel sorry for us all and where we are as a country,” he said about the former premier’s use of his government credit card in casinos.  “We also need to educate our citizens on what corruption is and how it has a disastrous impact on economic growth and development. The sad part of this all is that the people being hurt the most by these types of actions are the people singing the loudest praise.

“The process has highlighted several larger issues,” Connolly added, pointing to the questions about behaviour in public office. “I look forward to the day we have a zero tolerance for corruption in this country and that we hold those in authority accountable for any such like actions.”

Connolly said he believed the governor had a full view of what was happening and he too had wanted to see corruption stamped out. But he accepted that some of Duncan Taylor's comments on the case were unfortunate but not a conspiracy. 

“I don’t believe for one second that a conspiracy existed,” he said.

Bush was found not guilty on Thursday after a jury took more than five hours over two days to arrive at their decision.

Although the opposition leader did not take the stand during the trial, his defence attorney, Geoffrey Cox QC, had accepted that Bush used his government credit card to get approximately $50,000 in cash advances at casinos in Florida, Las Vegas and the Bahamas between July 2009 and April 2010, which was used largely in slot machines.

The argument in the court was a very narrow one. It rested on whether or not Bush had knowingly misused his credit card to such an extent, given his high office, that he had abused and breached the public trust and mis-conducted himself in that office.

However, as there was no formal written policy at the time prohibiting the personal use or cash advances on government the cards, the defence team argued Bush did nothing wrong.

Although almost $10,000 of the money was outstanding for more than two years, because Bush had, according to witnesses, generally paid back any personal use on his card promptly and handed over blank cheques when the office system to recover the money collapsed, the outstanding debt was portrayed by the defence as an oversight rather than any intentionally dishonest attempt not to pay.

Along with the exposure of the then governor’s eagerness to see Bush charged with something and removed from office, the trial also revealed the extent of Bush’s gambling. In the period of time under scrutiny over 11 trips encompassing around 45 days, Bush was revealed to have put more than $460,000 into slot machines and suffered in that period a net loss of more than $260,000.

At the time Bush was earning around $170,000 per annum. According to the register of interests he had no other income from any previous business interests. He began drawing his parliamentary pension, in what was described at the time as “double dipping”, partway through the period in question, in January 2010, but it is not clear how much of the retirement money Bush had taken as a lump sum or how much he was taking each month.

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Another Caymanian moves up on world football stage

| 13/10/2014 | 5 Comments

(CNS): After some four decades involved in football as a player, official and administrator Alfredo Whittaker has been appointed to the referee committee of the games world governing body, International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) in the competitions division. In a release from CIFA local officials said Whittaker who has spent the last two years at CONCACAF’s referee department creating theoretical and technical programmes to improve the game will join the FIFA team, which appoints referees for international competition, develops best practices and standards for worldwide referees and oversees the laws of the game as it relates to officiating.

"I am excited to join FIFA’s team and continue to serve the game at the highest level,” Whittaker said. “My appointment is not only important to me but to my confederation. I am sure our work will advance refereeing in CONCACAF. “We are experiencing great results in officiating. This is because of the commitment and determination of our President Jeffrey and General Secretary Enrique Sanz in increasing the quality and numbers of officials. My concentration is development throughout the regions.”

Whittaker is one of two new additions to the referee committee. He replaces Carlos Batres from Guatemala in the development department, while Pierre Mounguengui from Gabon replaced Algeria’s Belaid Lacarne in the development division.

“Alfredo’s appointment is testament to the commitment he has shown to the game and the region,” said Cayman Islands Football First Vice President Bruce Blake. “His involvement with the FIFA referees' committee can only benefit referees in the Cayman Islands and the region.”

Whittaker is a former FIFA international referee and in his CONCACAF position has overseen sweeping developments with officiating in the confederation. In two years, the CONCACAF Referees' Department has implemented a classification criteria for referees and assistants, a monitoring procedure to identify female officials, and have increased the number of courses for referees assessors and instructors.

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Sunday trade limits to stay

| 13/10/2014 | 134 Comments

(CNS): There will be no full scale shopping in Cayman on Sundays anytime soon as the premier has revealed that the government will not be making any major changes to the Sunday trading law. Following the recent public consultation, Alden McLaughlin said that the Progressive government he leads has listened to the concerns of the business community and churches about lifting the limits on Sunday business. He said that while the law will not be amended to create another regular trading day the law will be changed to legalise the current limited trading that takes place on Sundays at corner stores and gas stations.

Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce Legislative Lunch last week McLaughlin said the government had taken into account the business organisation’s survey on Sunday Trading Survey, which showed that more than 64% of the 113 respondents supported allowing all businesses the option of opening on Sunday but a decision had been made not to turn Sunday into a general trading day, but to regularise trading so retailers currently operating in violation of the law will be made legal.

“We will make modifications to the schedule of exemptions to the Sunday Trading Law to permit corner stores and the c-stores at gas stations to open lawfully on Sunday and sell their usual merchandise,” he told the chamber. “We heard the misgivings from the business community, church leaders and private residents who did not want a wholesale opening of Sunday sales, but we also realized that we must ensure that those who have been providing essential goods and services on Sundays are able to continue to do so legally,” the premier added.

Although the church had led a strong opposition to Sunday trading there were concerns from the wider community too about the potential exploitation of workers is stores were allowed to make Sunday a normal trading day.

During the consultation period which included public meetings and an on-line survey the government had heard broader concerns than religious ones which including the issue of a cultural preference for one quiet family day in the week.

The financial services minister who is also responsible for general commerce had said that Sunday trading could expand consumer choice, could help grow the domestic product and potentially drive employment. But had made it clear that government was not advocating for or against trading on Sunday trading but was seeking the views of the people. He did state however government’s goal was to find a way to regularize, rather than penalize existing Sunday traders who were in practice breaking the law but also serving an important community need.

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