Archive for September 3rd, 2008

Who are we?

| 03/09/2008 | 9 Comments

Karl W. Deutsch defines a nation thusly: “A nation is a group of people united by a common mistake regarding its origin and a collective hostility towards its neighbors.”

This definition may seem strange, but those who live on what was originally an uninhabited island by default have ancestors that were immigrants. Scientists, in tracing mitochondrial DNA, have found that the entire human race can be traced back to a very small gene pool in southern-most Africa. We are therefore all related, however distantly.

We now liveand compete in a globalised world. We may not think about this fact or we may try to ignore it, but without skilled workers from overseas your phones and Internet might not function and your garbage would lie rotting outside your home.

This is a function of having a very small population of belongers. There are not enough skilled Caymanians to fill all the necessary positions to enable this society to function. Therefore, to keep the society working smoothly the Cayman Islands needs to keep attracting skilled workers. Now think about this for a moment and you may conclude that all financial centres and small societies need to attract skilled workers. I mentioned globalisation previously in this article, and one of the paradigms of globalisation is that we are all competing for the same resources, be it oil, clients, tourists or doctors.

Prospective employees have choices. They do not have to come to the Cayman Islands; they can go to Bahrain or Dubai, Hong Kong or the Channel Islands. They can go where the conditions are to their liking and advantage. With globalisation, the world has shrunk — i.e., the offshore financial community or the legal community communicate among themselves in numerous ways, both officially and socially, and if a jurisdiction has the reputation of being unfriendly, word will spread quickly.

The Cayman Islands cannot afford to be complacent, as tourism and finance, on which our economy is based, gives a prospective client many options from which to choose. These islands must constantly be evaluating themselves against other holiday destinations and other offshore financial centres. We must ask ourselves if we are pricing ourselves above the level of service that we provide. We should also be asking if our competition is doing a better job than we are.

Looking back at the economy of the Cayman Islands in the 1960s, those of you old enough to remember will also recall that some of the only employment was for the men to go to sea with National Bulk Carriers and other shipping lines. The women raised the children on their own. Not an ideal situation for raising a family.

The islands started to change when immigrants started to settle and make investments. Over the next twenty years as development progressed, more jobs became available, allowing men to find employment locally and stay at home with their families. I would hazard a guess that very few of us would want to return to the conditions of the 1960s.

For the Cayman Islands to survive in a globalised world, faced as we are with global competition, rapidly rising oil prices and a worldwide disruption of our climate, we must provide the best service that we can. Value for dollar spent is what needs to be maintained. However, to provide first-class service we need first-class personnel, and to attract and keep them we need to undertake self-examination of the conditions under which guest workers reside in the Cayman Islands.

It is in the interests of all the inhabitants and the government of these islands to do their utmost to promote social harmony and cohesion. Those people who have been granted citizenship should be regarded as assets to these islands; they have skills that we need to keep the Cayman Islands functioning. Calling them "paper Caymanians" is demeaning, and is a term that is looked upon as cultural violence and is unacceptable in the Cayman Islands of today. It is no different from taking the American flag and throwing it on the ground and trampling on it in front of a patriotic American.

In some countries, "A person commits an offence if he prints, publishes or disseminates any material, whether by audio or video-cassettes or by written, photographic, electronic, digital or any other method which incites religious, sectarian or ethnic hatred." Perhaps we too need such a law if as a society we cannot temper our intolerance to those that come to these islands to assist our development.

Many Caymanians have American citizenship, and we all are all British citizens with the right to live and work anywhere in the European Union. This allows our children to attend some of the best universities and gather experience in London and exposure to things our forefathers could only have dreamt of!

To look at the larger picture, it must be borne in mind that we, the human race, live on a small insignificant planet that is, if the truth be known, a very fragile biosphere. The numbers of us on Earth are growing at an alarming pace and the necessary resources to support us are diminishing. By 2050 there will be over nine billion of us struggling to survive, and the only way to do so is by cooperation between individuals, towns, and countries, and globally. We must see ourselves as members of the human race, all members of the same tribe; and therefore we must start the process by treating each other, Caymanian and expat alike, in a manner that might give us all hope of a world of tomorrow existing in the future.

Nick Robson is Chairman of The Cayman Institute




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Cyclist injured in motor accident

| 03/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A man was injured this morning on one of Cayman’s main highways when he was knocked off his bike by a motor vehicle. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said that around 6:50 am the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call stating that a man had been knocked off his bicycle by a motor vehicle on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, in the vicinity of one of the roundabouts.

Police and Ambulance attended the scene and the 33-year-old victim was transported to George Town Hospital, where he was treated and released. Police said that although the cyclist sustained abrasions to his right leg, there were no serious injuries or broken bones.  The incident is currently under investigation.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Tax probes to dog Liechtenstein banks for years

| 03/09/2008 | 0 Comments
(Guardian): A German-led clampdown on tax dodgers has scared savers away from Liechtenstein’s banks and it could take years to win them back, prompting the tiny state to seek to lessen its reliance on the tax haven business. The Alpine principality nestled between Austria and Switzerland has long relied on its tradition of banking secrecy to attract foreign customers wanting to hide their money from the taxman, but it has come under mounting pressure to open up. Go to Article.

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Obama threatens tax havens

| 03/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(Royal Gazette): US presidential candidate and Democrat Senator Barack Obama has reiterated his threat to shut down tax havens if he is elected to the White House in November. Speaking at the Democratic Party National Convention in Denver on Thursday night, Sen. Obama set out his plans to tackle the issues facing America at these tough economic times and vowed to close corporate loopholes and tax havens standing in his way. Go to article.

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Complaints Commissioner waits for Court decision

| 03/09/2008 | 0 Comments

CNS): Employees of statutory authorities and government companies are stuck in legal limbo if they have employment grievances, since the Department of Employment Relations (DER) says, essentially, it does not have jurisdiction because they are civil servants, and the Civil Service Appeals Commission (CSAC) says it cannot handle appeals because they aren’t civil servants. (Left: Complaints Commissioner Dr John Epp)

To clarify the situation, Complaints Commissioner Dr John Epp has brought an application to Grand Court to interpret a section of the Complaints Commissioner Law which says that the Office of the Complaints Commissioner (OCC) does not have jurisdiction to investigate a grievance if the complainant has the right of appeal, reference or review before a tribunal constituted under any law.

The Commissioner is asking for a Grand Court decision (as allowed by the Complaints Commissioner Law) as to whether he has jurisdiction to investigate employment complaints by two former employees of the Health Service Authority (HSA). “If there is no remedy available to the employees of the HSA with the DER or with the CSAC then the OCC would have jurisdiction, although … I do not consider this to be a satisfactory state of the law,” Epp said in an affidavit to the Court.

In effect, to answer his application, the Court must clarify the Labour Law and the Public Service Management Law (PSML) in respect to this issue. The Civil Service Appeals Commission operates under the PSML, which does not apply to authority employees (defined as “public servants” to differentiate them from “civil servants”) except for the Code of Conduct and Statement of Values, according to Colin Ross, who crafted the law.

Furthermore, the Executive Director of the CSAC, Clyte Linwood, pointed out that statutory authorities do not operate under the PSML and so do not necessarily hire according to procedures laid out in the law. Therefore, the CSAC cannot hear such appeals.

On the other hand, in a letter to the Commissioner that was submitted as part of the affidavit, the Acting Director of DER wrote that, according to the Legal Department, authority employees cannot seek redress from the DER since the law does not apply to those in “public service”. Their interpretation ofthe PSML is that this term covers authority employees under that law, and so they would not be protected by the Labour law.

“If this is the correct state of affairs then employees of the HSA, and probably other statutory authorities as well, fall between a crack in the legislative framework. This is likely to be an unintentional crack which rises from the definition of public service in the legislation,” the affidavit says.

Epp queries the DER’s interpretation of the Labour Law in his affidavit and suggests that the department does in fact have jurisdiction over employees of statutory authorities.

Justice Henderson, who heard the argument in court in June, is expected to deliver his decision and reasoning in the near future.



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Rotary Sunrise aids literacy

| 03/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Rotary Sunrise is sponsoring an adult literacy pilot program with the Leading Edge High School using a new computer program called the Computer Assisted Literacy Solution, which is ideal for teaching adults as well as children, even those whose first language is not English. Members have been reading with some of the youngsters at the Leading Edge High School for some time and real progress has been made because of the one to one attention. (Left: Rotary Sunrise Secretary Deborah Lee-Chambers)

Now this computer program has taken the whole process to a new level, according to a release from the service club. Rotary Sunrise says results from the pilot program look promising and if it works well the plan is to enlarge the program. Not only reading but math understanding can be hugely assisted by this application. Rotary Sunrise will supply coordinators and facilitators and the computer program licensing, the students enjoy the experience, and Cayman will benefit.

Literacy is a cause for celebration since there are almost four billion literate people in the world. However there are many adults and children around the world, including here in the Cayman Islands, for whom literacy is still an unaccomplished goal.

International Literacy Day (ILD) is observed around the world on 8 September. The special day was established in 1965 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This year ILD is placing a special focus on the important relationship between literacy and health – two of the main themes of Rotary Sunrise’s community and vocational service projects. The theme for ILD is “Literacy is the Best Remedy.”

UNESCO and its partners are underlining the significance of literacy for healthy societies, with a strong emphasis on epidemics and communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. These are some of the world’s most important public health concerns.

The following bookstores will be offering a 10% discount on all books (not toys, etc) purchased on Monday 8 September, International Literacy Day: Book Nook (open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm), Books & Books (open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm), Hobbies and Books Piccadilly Store (open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm), and Grand Harbour Store, Books By The Bay (open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm).

Rotary SUNRISE was chartered in 2002. Has nearly 100 members (32 ladies) mostly young professionals from Cayman and 21 other countries. Having fun helping in the community.



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Crime Stoppers produce results

| 03/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Crime Stoppers International, the umbrella organization for Crime Stoppers programmes around the world, recently announced that the total value of its recoveries worldwide peaked above a staggering $9 billion in July. And Cayman’s own Crime Stoppers programme recently reported that it too has been enjoying significant successes since its revitalization earlier this year with a series of activities intended to raise its profile and encourage more calls to its tips line, 800 8477 (800 TIPS).

Gary Murphy, President of Crime Stoppers International, was ready to praise the work of the some 1200 local and national Crime Stoppers programmes around the world, saying, “This is compelling evidence that our programmes make a real difference to the societies they serve.” He added, “The success of Crime Stoppers programmes depends upon the dedication and commitment of their members, as well as productive partnerships with the media, the police and the community. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of everyone who has worked with Crime Stoppers to help reduce crime and produce such impressive results.”

Stuart Bostock, Cayman Crime Stoppers chairman, reported, “We received more tips last month than we did in the whole of last year! These related to a variety of criminal activities.” Mr Bostock went on to say, “Calls to our tips line have been steadily increasing in the last threemonths and look set to continue in that vein. The resultant arrests and recoveries are testimony to the fact that Crime Stoppers programmes really do make a difference.”

In addition to the 9 billion dollars of recoveries, global statistics released by Crime Stoppers International show that since its inception, the organization has been responsible for over 750,000 arrests, over a million cases cleared and has paid out nearly 90 million dollars in rewards.

Closer to home, Crime Stoppers data from across the Caribbean region for last year show that Cayman’s own programme boasted the highest conversion rate of calls to arrests made, the highest number of calls received per capita and the highest value in recovered narcotics (totaling about 90% of all the other regional programmes combined).

Crime Stoppers International is operated by a volunteer board of directors from Crime Stoppers programmes all over the world. Cayman is represented on this international board by Mr Bostock, who was elected in 2007 to serve as a Regional Director for the Caribbean, Bermuda and Latin America region until 2010. Crime Stoppers International is responsible for establishing programmes as well as guidelines to assure consistency.

The organization hosts an annual training conference and supports regional leadership and training programmes. It has also established a worldwide computer network to link its programmes and provides a periodic publication, the Caller, which is the official voice of Crime Stoppers International.

Cayman Crime Stoppers was formed in 1993 and provides a safe and secure means for anybody with information about a crime to share it freely whilst protecting their identity. Calls to the Cayman Crime Stoppers tips line are free, and are answered by a civilian-run call centre in Miami to guarantee absolute anonymity. Callers are never asked to reveal their identity or personal details and could earn a reward of up to $1,000 should their tip lead to the successful resolution of a case.

Call 800 TIPS (800 8477) to report a Crime in the Cayman Islands. Callers are reminded that there is no ‘1’ in front of the number.

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Police name drowned child

| 03/09/2008 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Tampa police have named the three-year-old girl from the Cayman Islands who drowned in a hotel swimming pool Wednesday 27 August in Tampa while on vacation with her family. Kiara Garcia, who turned three last month, was found unconscious in the pool at about 5:00 pm, according to a Tampa Police report. The family had been sitting near the pool earlier, and later the child wandered away and fell into the water, police said.

A bystander administered CPR until rescuers arrived. The child was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. It wasn’t known how long she was in the water. Police determined the drowning was accidental. Kiara and her mother Chaka Garcia, were visiting from the Cayman Islands, police said, and were staying at the Embassy Suites hotel at 555 N. Westshore Blvd.

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Why Hurricane Gustav Didn’t Become a Monster

| 03/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(National Geographic): Hurricane Gustav had the potential to become a monster hurricane last Saturday, but two factors intervened to keep it from intensifying. The hurricane’s passage over western Cuba "roughed it up" just enough so that the storm’s eye partly deteriorated, said Jeff Masters, director of the private forecasting service Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Go to article

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Gustav only 12 miles off LC

| 03/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): According to the post storm analysis from the Chief Meteorologist, John Tibbetts, Hurricane Gustav passed Little Cayman at a distance of only 12 miles with winds gusting over 100 mph. He said that data from the National Hurricane Center in Miami indicated that Gustav passed Little Cayman with a maximum sustained wind speed of 82 mph gusting to 102 mph. The storm surge was estimated at two to four feet with wave heights of 15 to 20 feet and the rain-gage at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute measured 6.25 inches.

Gustav’s closest point with Cayman Brac was within 24 miles with a maximum sustained wind speed of 76 mph gusting to 95 mph. The NEOC Automatic Weather Station measured a maximum sustained wind speed of 63 mph and recorded 9.42 inches of rain over the period 29 and 30 August.

Meanwhile, Gustav passed within 63 miles of Grand Cayman with a maximum sustained wind speed of 56 mph gusting to 66 mph, though higher wind speeds were likely along the north and east coasts of Grand Cayman. Themaximum sustained wind speed measured in East End was 59 mph and 47 mph at the airport. These were measured by the Automatic weather stations from the NEOC. Tibbetts said that storm surge was minimal at best, although some flooding occurred along the coastal areas in North Sound due to the addition of high tides and the piling up of water. The National Weather Service measured 2.71 inches at the Owen Roberts International Airport.

“There were two things that stood out about Gustav,” said Tibbetts. “It was unusually slow moving and more typical of a late season system in its rapid intensification.” He explained that such behavior is far more common in systems that form toward the end of the hurricane season but he noted that the Caribbean is particularly hot right now and as we move into the busiest part of the season we should not be surprised to see more systems rapidly intensifying.

Gustav started life as Tropical Depression #7 over the central Caribbean Sea on the morning of Monday 25 August moving northwest at 15 mph with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph.

The depression rapidly became Tropical Storm Gustav later that day. At 1:00 pm Monday 25 August it was located 225 miles southeast of Port Au Prince, Haiti moving northwest at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds near 60 mph.

“Tropical Storm Gustav’s track took it from its birth place in the central Caribbean across Haiti,” said Tibbetts, who added that it then took an unexpected turn to the southwest passing within 5 miles of Kingston, Jamaica, during the evening of 28 August. At 4:00 pm Friday 29 August it was located 15 miles east-northeast of Kingston moving west at 6 mph with maximum sustained winds near 70 mph.

Slowly strengthening the storm eventually became a hurricane west of Jamaica on the evening of 29 August around 100 miles east of Grand Cayman. Gustav moved through the Cayman Islands passing within 12 miles of Little Cayman and it reached its maximum intensity of 150 mph (Category 4) Saturday afternoon as it passed over the Isle of Pines.

Tropical Storm force winds began in Cayman Brac at 12:00 pm Friday 29 August spreading across Little Cayman an hour later and Grand Cayman by 4:00 pm that afternoon. Hurricane force winds spread across the Sister Islands by 8:00 pm that evening. Wind speeds dropped to tropical storm force over the Sister Islands once more by 1:00 am Saturday 30 August 30th and below tropical storm force across the entire Cayman Islands by 4:00 am.


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