Archive for March 30th, 2009

Woman attacked at home

Woman attacked at home

| 30/03/2009 | 10 Comments

(CNS): A 41-year-old man has been arrested and remains in custody following an attack on a George Town woman, who suffered injuries to her face, head and neck. Police said that the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at approximately 12:15 pm today (Monday) reporting an assault at a residence off South Church Street. Officers responded and found a 30-year-old woman, who said she had been repeatedly assaulted by her boyfriend.

The man, who was still at the residence when police arrived, was arrested for various offences including ABH and the woman who required medical attention was taken to George Town hospital where she was treated and released.

“The RCIPS takes assaults of any nature, whether against females or males, very seriously,” said Acting Chief Superintendent Marlon Bodden. “As with all allegations of a crime, once there is evidence of an offense we take swift action to investigate the matter and prosecute the perpetrator.”

Police said that the man is still in police custody and anyone with information about the incident should contact Detective Constable Orlando Mason at George Town CID on 929- 4222.  Anyone with information about crimetaking 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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No answers to deficit issue

No answers to deficit issue

| 30/03/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): The leader of government business told the media last week that there was little that could be done through legislation that would address the country’s current operating revenue problem even if the Legislative Assembly was still sitting. Kurt Tibbetts said that the $29 million was an estimate and included some $14 million of extraordinary expenditure that could not have been accounted for. But he said government departments were doing all they could to watch spending and everyone was aware that they could no longer go and “shake the money tree".

Speaking at last week’s media briefing, Kurt Tibbetts said the estimation that Cayman would be short some $29 million was just that — an estimation based on projected figures. He said that we would have to wait until after the actual expenditure to determine the accuracy. However, the government did not want to underestimate so they reflected the worst case scenario, and there was still a possibility that more revenue would still be generated.

“What it does tell us is from an operational stand point — all of the layers are now fully appreciative and now know that you can’t just go and shake the money tree,” the LoGB added.

He explained that the deficit would be addressed under the next budget where operating costs would have to be trimmed. Tibbetts also noted that the predicted operating deficit includes some $14 million of extraordinary expenditure, such as Hurricane Paloma, the Special Police Investigation and Justice Priya Levers’ tribunal, things which the government did not have control over, he noted.

“This is not a shortfall we could have predicted and we did not know these would be the circumstances at the beginning of the fiscal year,” he said. “And anyone who tries to tell you that we could is not telling the truth.”

The budget appropriation which was passed in the Legislative Assembly at the eleventh hour has enabled the government to trim money in some quarters in order to pay for other things, given a predicted fall in revenue not least because of the global financial crisis which has seen the government revenue earners from the offshore sector and tourism hit hard. According to the notes accompanying the Supplementary Appropriation Bill, government has earned $21.1 million less than it expected at the start of this financial year.

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Bird rescuers promote caution

Bird rescuers promote caution

| 30/03/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Cayman Wildlife Rescue says it has received a number of calls about baby birds and Project Manager Alison Corbett is warning people to be observant and make sure that fledglings are in need of help before approaching them. “It is very important that the public take a moment to observe baby birds before assuming they need to be rescued,” she said, explaining that concerned members of thepublic are encouraged to first identify whether the bird is injured or whether is has just fallen from the nest and can be put back in, or is learning to fly. (Left: Fledgling — well-feathered, alert and hopping on the ground)

She said fledglings often are attacked by cats and dogs and if the bird is injured Cayman Wildlife Rescue should be contacted at 917-BIRD as the bird will require emergency veterinary care.  If the bird is not injured, but is unable to fly it must next be determined to be either a nestling or a fledgling.  Nestings are bare or covered in downy feathers.  When you have found a nestling on the ground, look for a nest nearby, the experts say.

Corbett said if there is a nest, the bird can be gently placed back inside and then it should be monitored at a safe distance for the parents to return.  Birds do not have a developed sense of smell, Corbett adds. “There is no truth in the old wives tale that a bird will reject their young if you handle them – in fact most birds have a very poor sense of smell,” she said. (Right: a nesting – often bare or covered in fuzzy down)

If there is not a nest or the nest is destroyed, one can be fabricated out of a basket or plastic container drilled with drainage holes.  CWR has a tall ladder to assist with restoring fallen nests and nestlings, the public can call 917-BIRD (2473) for help with this effort.

Once nestlings have been restored, the nest should be monitored for up to 3 hours for the parents return and people are reminded to never offer a wild animal food or liquids unless instructed.  Great care should also be taken at this time of year when pruning trees, shrubs and palm trees so as to not disturb nesting birds.

When the found baby bird is a fledgling, meaning it is a baby bird learning to fly; it will most likely not need to be rescued.  These young will be alert and hopping around on the ground as they learn flying skills.  Their parents will be nearby, offering them food while they are on the ground. (Left: Nesting)

“If you find a baby bird, well feathered, hopping on the ground the best thing a person can do is watch from a safe distance.  If you have a cat or dog bring it inside and watch for the parents to return,” Corbett said.  If the bird is not in a safe area, it is best to move it to a shrub nearby and continue to monitor.  Often fledglings become victim to cats and dogs, if they are injured they will need emergency veterinary care and Cayman Wildlife Rescue should be notified immediately.

 “We strongly encourage responsible pet ownership, cats and dogs should not be allowed to roam freely for their own safety and also for the safety of our wildlife.  One of the most common reasons we see animals come in for care is due to being attacked by cats or dogs,” Corbett noted.

Cayman Wildlife Rescue’s Hotline 917-BIRD (2473) is operated 24/7 to provide support for wildlife in trouble, when a baby bird is found CWR should be contacted for further instruction.    Members of the public should not attempt to care for a baby bird, as they require special diets and have demanding feeding schedules.  CWR should be notified when a baby bird is deemed abandoned so an experienced Wildlife Rehabber can resume its care. 



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The party is over!

The party is over!

| 30/03/2009 | 27 Comments

In the past few days there has been a variety of editorial pieces in the local newspapers that have called into question the veracity of party politics in the Cayman Islands. As a candidate I thought it befitting that I share my viewpoint on this issue.

It is a widely accepted principle that parties should be based on a shared ideological platform. Understanding the historical development of party politics within the Caribbean does offer some insight into what we could expect in the Cayman Islands. Both Jamaica and Barbados have the classic two party system, with parties often swapping leadership back and forth.

LatinAmerica began the party system in the Caribbean, but parties existed more in name than in substance. Effective mass political parties first emerged in the Anglo-Caribbean towards the second half of the twentieth century.

The first point to discuss is whether or not Caymanians have given their full support of the two-party system replacing the looser affiliations that existed before. There was no surveying of the electorate to ascertain their desires before the first of these two parties was formed. The PPM then responded to the forming of the UDP – both driven by the support of the leaders behind the parties.

The feedback that I have received during this current campaign is that the average voter is not in favor of political parties for the Cayman Islands. The general consensus is that party politics serves to be divisive and that has been confirmed in the past four years. The people do not see any benefit of the party system to them but instead it serves the interest of the party leaders to acquire power.

The number of independent candidate running in this election further illustrates that there is not any widespread acceptance of the parties. Most independents have been pushed to run as independents by the voters themselves. Another interesting point is the lack of parties to find a full slate of candidates. Neither the PPM nor the UDP havea complete slate of 15 candidates to offer the people.

It appears that the last election is being used as a basis of forming an opinion that people are in favor of political parties. The PPM won every seat that they contested. However, the voters will tell you that the primary factor for them “voting straight” last time was because of the single issue of status grants. The majority of the electorate found it necessary to guarantee that the next government would not make another “wholesale giveaway of Caymanian status”. This is turn has been used by the parties to support their contention that voters support the two-party system.

It’s important to recognize that the PPM did not win 6 seats in the last election. Alliances of convenience are not political parties. This point is best illustrated by the UDP members who lost in the last election with their mass exodus from the party.

The UDP and PPM are glorified version of the loose coalition that was historically formed for election purposes in the Cayman Islands prior to the formation of the UDP. My most important concerns are the issues that are facing this country. No one can tell me if one party is conservative, liberal or what ideologies they support (fiscally, constitutionally, environmentally etc.). Instead their alliance is based on a personal preference for either leader. Often times, it can become a situation of peer pressure where people attend party functions because of the need to fit into a popular group.

If you are not concerned with the personality of either leader where does that leave you? If you care about the issues facing the Cayman Islands what clear indicators are there to separate these two parties?

There is the old adage that actions speak louder than words. We can see clear examples of how self-serving the parties are. Someone recently pointed out that the leader of the UDP has an advert on this website for himself entitled “All About McKeeva Bush” – absolutely no mention of the UDP at all. This online advert went up before the launch of the UDP website or any mention of the party’s slate of candidates. At that time neither party had updated websites since 2005.

Then there is the matter of the internal governance of the parties. The internal operations are supposed to be dictated by the constitution of each party. However, we can see that often those are not in effect and only applied at will. Current candidates were not chosen in accordance with the laid out procedures. There is no regular meeting of the membership and no party conventions. Leaders appear to havea lifetime appointment.

I am well aware of the division between the parties both inside and outside. Parties try to separate each other based on party colours – a concept borrowed from our Caribbean neighbours. If we were to look at the party systems in the UK and US they both use their country’s colours instead of specific party colors. We already see the development of the mentality that if you are not for a particular party you have to be against them. All of this serves to create an even more contentious situation. Individual members within the parties have their own election committee. The parties have also been plagued with in-fighting amongst their own members. The parties come together when they wish to win an election or support each other in the LA. The parties create an uncanny negativity. It is being said by the UDP party that if you do not support them and vote for independents you are in support of the PPM. This rhetoric is illogical and shows the lengths that the parties will go to win.

On May 20th each person will have an important decision to make. You can either “vote straight” just because someone has told you that is best or you can vote smart. Voting smart means that we will look at the individual candidates and assess them on their own merit. What skill set and experience does a particular candidate bring to thetable? Independent candidates are aware that if elected they will have to work with everyone in order to accomplish the best objectives for the Caymanian people. Having an election that is issues driven and not party driven is what the electorate is demanding and deserves. Follow your mind and vote deserving individuals irrespective of party affiliation.

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Origins of Brac explained

Origins of Brac explained

| 30/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Environmental science students at UCCI’s Cayman Brac campus learned more about the origins of this island from Dr. Murray Roed, author of Islands from the Sea – Geologic Stories of Cayman, who paid a recent visit to the Brac. Roed first discussed the content of his book, which is a synthesis of the 1000 or more scientific articles that have been written about Cayman with a special focus on geology, and then took the students on a field exploration – putting into practice what students had learned in the classroom.

The book explains the geological origins of Cayman, “their origin at the whims of nature, the scientific endeavour to unlock their secrets, and how their resources, onshore and offshore, are presently being utilized or abused.”

Environmental science teacher Martin Keeley said that the class visited two sites to examine the Brac’s ecological formations. “The first was at Stake Bay where we examined the edge of the Bluff, and the second at Long Beach where a similar examination took place of the rocky beach and ironshore,” he explained.

For student Lolita Bodden, the fieldwork was especially interesting: “I think every kid on the Brac has grown up with a fascination regarding the bluff, Caymanite and the general geography of these islands,” she said. “It was excellent to have a world recognized expert geologist like Dr. Roed to explain and share his insight on a range of topics and questions about the island and its pre-historic origins.

“Knowing how these islands evolved definitely helps me gave a greater appreciation for what we have today. Our environment and the related ecosystems are our mostprecious resource and understanding them is a critical step in preserving them for the future,” she added.

For Tashara Lewis, Dr. Roed’s interpretation in the classroom and the field greatly improved her understanding of the Brac’s geology. She especially liked the acid test: “When he conducted the test with an acid solution we were able to clearly see the difference between limestone and dolomite,” she said. “The other thing which really sticks in my mind is when he showed us how different organisms slowly consume the limestone rock.”

The two active volcanoes in the Cayman Trench about 100 miles south of George Town also impressed Tashara. “When he explained how the volcanoes were formed, and then showed us photos of them, it helped to scientifically verify stories that we had been hearing for many years about volcanoes,” she said.

At the end of the day Dr. Roed presented each of the students with a signed copy of his book which was published by Cayman Free Press.

Dr. Roed will be giving a presentation on his work together with a book launch and signing at Books and Books, Camana Bay, on Monday 30 March at 7.00 pm.

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Cayman signs more tax deals

Cayman signs more tax deals

| 30/03/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): With only days to go before the world’s leading nations come together to decide a new world order, one that many of them would prefer did not include tax havens, the Cayman Islands Government has today (30 March) announced another four tax deals with Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands (Holland) and South Africa. This means that Cayman now has arrangements that provide access to comprehensive tax information assistance with 20 countries, including the majority of Cayman’s major trading partners.

The deals which were signed last week, facilitate tax information assistance according to OECD standards under a unilateral mechanism that doesn’t require a bilateral treaty. The latest four come in the wake of two other deals signed with groups of European countries. The agreements also come following a long gap since the Cayman Islands Government signed a separate bi-lateral deal with the United States in 2001.

These new arrangements were made possible by the passage of the Tax Information Authority Law 2005 at the end of last year, a long awaited bill that enables the government to enter into Tax Exchange information as needed.

"The Cayman Islands took theproactive step of introducing the unilateral mechanism for the provision of information in tax matters, as a complement to our bilateral negotiation programme," said Cayman Islands Leader of Government Business, Kurt Tibbetts. "We recognised the need to increase the pace at which we could enter into tax information arrangements, while offering a phased approach to our negotiating partners under our bilateral programme in appropriate circumstances. We look forward to continuing this progressive approach."

The Port Folio of Finance said the unilateral mechanism provided by the law gives Cayman an additional facility to deliver on its commitment to transparency and exchange of information in tax matters. The CI government also anticipates signing more deals in the immediate future including with the UK as well as the remaining G7 countries and several other OECD nations.

The Cayman Islands government was the first non-OECD jurisdictions to adopt (in 2000) the principles of transparency and exchange of information in tax matters, based on a level playing. However, the field has gotten increasingly uneven lately but with the G20 looming the pressure on all offshore financial service centres to be transparent has increased. Tax information exchange is also perceived as a way of keeping Cayman off any potential black list and forms part of the government’s goal of demonstrating that Cayman is part of the global solution not the problem

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