Archive for April 1st, 2009

Conolly: “It’s the people’s time”

| 01/04/2009 | 24 Comments

(CNS): Developer and architect Burns Conolly, who has turned his attention from the drawing board to the political platform, said last night at his first public meeting that  he is seeking a partnership with the people “to design and build” the future of Cayman. He said the most important factor in the building of a country is its people. “Somewhere along the way the politicians have seemed to have forgotten that,” he added.

He said people had been replaced in the work force, in the opportunities to move upward and in the area of good commonsense by an army of consultants, who don’t know us but go home with their pockets stuffed with millions of dollars. “In this election we are going to change that,” he added.

Conolly told the small gathering on the court house steps in George Town on Tuesday night that it was not true that independent candidates can’t make a difference. “Our country was developed and its foundation laid for good governance by men and women who were independent thinkers but who were big enough to put aside self, pride, opportunityand to work for the national good,” he said.

Making his first pitch to the people of George Town to elect him as their representative on May 20 Conolly criticised the current administration for the mismanagement of finances, over spending, and not doing enough. “I don’t have to tell you what has gone wrong in this country — you know. I don’t have to tell you about job losses — you know. I don’t have to tell you of the crisis our financial industry is facing — you know,” he said.

He spoke about the economy, tourism, creating jobs for Caymanians, immigration and education. “We have glass-fronted towers under construction that we can’t pay the bills on while our children and our teachers in our secondary system are subjected to the most appalling conditions on a daily basis,” he said.

Conolly criticised government for building expensive schools but said the first order of business should be a new primary school for George Town. “For decades this has been promised and we are still waiting. Four representatives – two in Cabinet, one of them the Minister of Education — and still no school for George Town. We don’t need an architectural masterpiece, we need good solid classrooms to replace that hodge-podge set of little trailer boxes they have provided for us.”

He also criticised the current incumbents for not doing enough to meet the challenges to Cayman’s offshore financial services sector coming from the global community. “We have bent over backwards to meet all the demands placed on us, but……the watchmen we placed at our gate fell asleep and the enemy is now on our doorstep,” he said. “It’s going to take every ounce of knowledge and perseverance to walk us through this one — and bullet-proof glass in the LA is not the answer. We need sound leadership and it’s our time, the people’s time to elect it.”

If he was part of a new government one of the first things that would need to be done would be to balance the books by public audit and find out where the country stands financially and stop non-essential spending, he added.

He said that job losses had to be addresses and noted that there were 26,000 workers from abroad here while some 1000 to 2000 Caymanians are unemployed and it was time to change that. Government, he noted, should also set an example and send home persons on contracts in the civil service and replace them with Caymanians.

Conolly saved some of his most damning criticism of the current administration for the Cayman Investment Bureau and initiative, which he said had germinated from a Chamber of Commerce committee in 2000 in which he was involved. Offices had been opened overseas in a bid to encourage investment. However, he said that the current government downgraded the Cayman Investment Bureau to a local entity with no direction.  “As late as January this year, after four years in office, the leader of government business confirmed to me, and so did the director, that the Bureau did not have a policy from Cabinet identifying which businesses to attract to the Cayman Islands.”

It was time to restore the Investment Bureau, he said, to seek out investment and bring it to our shores and ensure that business is given the streamlined efficiency to move here effortlessly. He also offered his support for the creation of a major Convention Centre in Cayman as well as an International Arbitration Centre to take advantage of the legal battles now settled by arbitration as opposed to the courts. “With the broad-based legal fraternity and its supporting services, we already have the framework to welcome such a facility.”

Closing his pitch to the electorate, Conolly asked people to join him in a partnership to build a country that recognises the worth of its own people, “secure in the knowledge that we are the architects of our destiny, the major planners, developers and builders of the future Cayman Islands,” he said.

Continue Reading

US food agency investigates pistachios for salmonella

| 01/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): UPDATE — Environmental Health Officers of the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) have now said that they are investigating for the presence of any affected products in local supermarkets, shops, wholesalers, importers and distributors, both here and the Sister Islands, regarding the US FDA warning on Pistachio issued yesterday. It said that if any affected products are found, they are to be removed immediately from supermarket shelves.

According to a release from the Food and Drug Administration the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) begani investigating Salmonella contamination in pistachio products sold by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc, Calif. earlier this week.

The company has stopped all distribution of processed pistachios and has issued a voluntary recall involving approximately 1 million pounds of its products. Because the pistachios were used as ingredients in a variety of foods, it is likely this recall will impact many products, the FDA said.

In addition, the investigation at the company is ongoing and may lead to additional pistachio product recalls.  The Cayman Islands has now also issued an alert and adivsed people to stop consuming the product.

The contamination reportedly involves multiple strains of Salmonella. Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Thus far, several illnesses have been reported by consumers that may be associated with the pistachios. It is not yet known whether any of the Salmonella strains found in the pistachio products are linked to an outbreak. The FDA is conducting genetic testing of the samples to pursue all links.

FDA is working closely with the pistachio industry and recommends that consumers avoid eating pistachio products until further information is available about the scope of affected products.

FDA will provide a searchable database of affected products at and will continue to update the public.

FDA first learned ofthe problem on March 24, when it was informed by Kraft Foods that its Back To Nature Trail Mix was found to be contaminated with Salmonella. Kraft had identified the source of the contamination to be pistachios from Setton and conducted a recall


Continue Reading

Rugby U20 team off to Kenya

| 01/04/2009 | 1 Comment

(IRB): Twenty days from now the Cayman Islands Under 20 side will create their own piece of history when they run out against USA on the opening day of the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2009 in Kenya. The first Cayman Islands team to qualify for an IRB 15-a-side tournament, they may not be among the favourites to succeed Uruguay as champions and earn promotion to next year’s IRB Junior World Championship, but they are nonetheless seeing the benefits of qualification. This is because their qualification has brought rugby to the attention of the wider population and encouraged more people to give the sport a try.

Go to article

Continue Reading

Gun found during vehicle search

| 01/04/2009 | 12 Comments

(CNS): A 29-year-old man has been arrested on following the discovery of a hand gun along with ammunition in a vehicle. The discovery was made at 4:50 pm on Tuesday, 31 March, as USG officers (a team specifically trained in the use of firearms) stopped and searched a vehicle whilst on patrol along West Bay Road. Police say the man, who was the only person in the car, was arrested on suspicion of possession of an unlicensed firearm and remains in police custody at this time.

Superintendent Kurt Walton, who has responsibility for the USG, said, “The Police Service is committed to preventing criminal acts that disrupt the lives of law abiding members of our community, and this is just one example of the proactive efforts we are making to reduce crime. Addressing the use of illegal firearms is a key priority and anyone found to be in possession of an illegal weapon will be prosecuted.”

Walton added, “A firearm conviction before the Grand Court in the Cayman Islands attracts a very lengthy period of imprisonment and as such we appeal to those persons who have thoughts of possessing such illegal weapons to quit.”

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.

Continue Reading

Masquerade Ball makes loss

| 01/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): An event designed to raise funds to assist people in the community who are in dire need was not well supported by the public and as a result the Lean on Me Committee (Charity) will not able to fund any more projects in the near future, a release from the charity said. Their first annual Spring Celebration Masquerade Ball – A Spring Affair was held Saturday evening, 21 March, at Camana Bay, but the charity actually reported a loss after all ticket sales were collected and some of its expenses paid.

Despite the poor turn out, local performers such as Hi Tide, Regeneration, Stewart Wilson and Love Culture, Miss Cayman Islands; Ms. Nicosia Lawson, Jamesette Anglin, Jeffery Wilson, Andrea Rivera and Hit Depot and DJ Diamond put on a fantastic show for those who were in attendance, a release said.

The Lean on Me Committee (Charity) was formed by a group of dedicated young professionals who came together in July 2006 to raise funds for local singer, Nina Orrett who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Since then they have also raised funds for another local musical artist Errol “Skanky” Grant who was diagnosed with male breast cancer.

Every year since 2006 the Lean on Me Committee (Charity) has organized events throughout the year which not only showcases a plethora of local musicians, dancers, comedy acts and models who have all donated their time and talents to express their support, but have also used these events to assist persons directly who are either in need of guidance, financial or hands-on assistance.
The Lean on Me Committee has also lent its support to other local charities and non-profits to assist in their efforts as well.

Here are just a few of the time and monetary donations made to assist those in need in the community:

The Pines Retirement Home- Funds raised from annual event to assist their Building Fund
C.I. Hospice Care- Funds raised from annual event-for Care-giving costs
Nina Orrett- Funds raised from annual event- Medical expenses
Errol ‘Skanky’ Grant – Funds raised from annual event-Medical expenses
C.I. Crisis Centre- Linen Drive- to assist battered women by providing clothing and household goods
Baby Jordon (pre-mature infant) – Supermarket collection & Private donations
Five recently orphaned children – Private donations of clothing and assistance
Baby TJ (pre-mature infant)- Catamaran Cruise and Supermarket donations
Nathan Benko- a young child who needs financial assistance for a Open Heart Surgery
HMP Northward- Prison-Motivational Talks (Men’s Prison)
HMP Fairbanks-Motivational Talks (Women’s Prison)
Anna Watler- Kidney Transplant assistance to donor
Cayman Recovery Fund- For Cayman Brac Hurricane Poloma Relief Fund.

The charity has also recently created a Facebook site which is being used to generate support for the organization and to also help inform the public of their efforts and give a face to the many needs in the community. The Facebook site is open to the public and can be found as Lean on Me-Cayman in the Facebook search.

Lean on Me Committee (Charity) committee (below) would like to take this opportunity to thank those who supported the event and look forward to serving the community.


Continue Reading

G20 blacklist still in question

| 01/04/2009 | 7 Comments

(CNS): As the Cayman Islands government waits to see if this jurisdiction will be black listed following the G20 summit tomorrow, the governments of the group of 20 nations are still disagreeing on whether there will be a list and how harshly to punish tax havens who don’t co-operate with their plans to crack open their secrets. Officials involved say leaders will agree tomorrow on new guidelines and outline sanctions for those that don’t sign on. But negotiations over whether to publish a blacklist are reportedly continuing.


The Cayman Government has written to both the UK the Prime Minster Gordon Brown and President Barack Obama lauded Cayman’s credentials, cooperation and importance to the global economy. The Leader of Government Business has noted that if the G20 countries make fair judgments Cayman should not be on the list as it meets all of the OECD standards.

“The Cayman Islands was one of the first jurisdictions to commit to OECD standards for transparency and exchange of information in tax matters,” he said. “The government has and will continue to do all it can to receive equitable treatment for the Cayman Islands, as by any rational analysis we are transparent and cooperative.”

However he noted that if the G20 countries decide to include legitimate jurisdictions in their blacklist there is littleCayman can do other than continue the relentless pursuit for proper recognition of its status as a responsible and cooperative international financial services centre.

Cayman’s vulnerability to the black list was confirmed when a list of countries for discussion under the tax haven label was given to the G20 finance Ministers meeting last month which according to leaks included the Cayman Islands.

At present European leaders seem to be pushing for a harder line against tax havens, which they fear are siphoning off much-needed revenue amid the recession. According to international reports officials involved in the G-20 negotiations from Washington are trying to find a middle ground between the European desire for a blacklist and other G-20 countries with reservations. "Whether it’s a black list, a gray list or a white list hasn’t been decided yet," he said. But the official said the summit would produce rules that would include punitive measures for offshore tax havens that don’t cooperate.

Black list or no however, Cayman will need to prepare for global changes in regulation and more vigorous pursuit of people using jurisdictions such as our by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman has said that it is already hiring more investigators to go after offshore tax evasion. The Obama administration has also announced that it is creating a task force to suggest further ways to attack the offshore tax-avoidance problem. Shulman reiterated the administration’s support for pending legislation in Congress that would authorize the US’s own blacklist of uncooperative tax-haven countries, with the aim of raising pressure on those countries to share information about U.S. tax dodgers with the IRS.

Meanwhile, UK officials say they would like to see a specific set of sanctions against tax havens that don’t cooperate that would make them uncompetitive and difficult to operate. Sanctions could include denying tax deductions for business expenses; require increased disclosure by taxpayers and financial institutions of transactions that use such tax havens, and stop offshore jurisdictions from receiving loans from the International Monetary Fund.

Mike Froman Obama’s deputy national security adviser told UK reporters that there are ways of encouraging countries to adopt the standards that will emerge from the G20. “The G- 20 is looking at a number of different approaches,” he said adding that there is a consensus to, “expand the scope of regulation to any institution, market or product that’s systemically important to the international financial system and that could include hedge funds.”

He also said the G-20 countries want to “encourage” off-shore financial or tax havens to sign on to global accounting and transparency rules. “There are a number of things in the toolbox that might be available and that’s what’s being discussed this week,” he added.


Continue Reading

New home for the Blues

| 01/04/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Grand Cayman’s famous Blue Iguanas are one more step further away from extinction following Cabinet’s decision to allocate Crown property to the National Trust coupled with a grant from the European Union to develop the protected area, where 100 hatchling Blue Iguanas will be released in 2010. However, the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme’s director Fred Burton says they will still have to raise much more money to complete the programme. (Photo by John Binns)

The EU grant is designed to cover 57% of the total cost of this particular project, which will fund the majority of the cost of a visitor centre and trails, plus education and awareness materials and programmes that will be based there, Burton said. However, BIRP and its supporters will have to put in a significant amount of other money and paid time, as well as find the funding for the access. “So, there is challenge which comes with the opportunity!” Burton said.

He further noted that the EU grant will be in Euros which as has since lost buying power here in the exchange rate. “So we are expected to, and will have to, raise a fair sum more to be able to deliver.”

In a released statement, BIRP said the Cayman Islands Government had formally committed to protecting almost 200 acres of Crown land in the east interior of Grand Cayman, through a 99-year peppercorn lease to the National Trust. The decision by Cabinet is linked to a European Union grant to the National Trust, for managing this area to conserve Grand Cayman Blue Iguanas in the wild, along with their unique shrubland habitat. The grant also focuses on developing sustainable, low-impact nature tourism, education and recreation with a visitor centre and trail system.

BIRP noted that in 2008 the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme began rearing over 100 hatchling Blue Iguanas, trusting that a new protected area would be established in time to release them in 2010. Now a release site is guaranteed, these young iguanas do indeed have a future, and another hundred or more Blue Iguanas will hopefully be hatched in 2009, for release in 2011.

While blanket protection of the environment in the form of a Nation Conservation Bill was not brought before the Legislative Assembly under the current administration, the release said Minister of Tourism and Environment, Charles Clifford, wished the conservation effort of this programme every success.

“The preservation of our indigenous Blue Iguana is important to our country and I am grateful Cabinet was able to allocate an appropriate piece of property to the National Trust to assist them in their efforts to save the Blue Iguanas. I also want to thank the European Union for their grant which makes this project possible. The grant along with the allocation of the land by Cabinet provides a tremendous boost to the National Trust’s efforts to establish a viable population of Blue Iguanas in their natural habitat,” the minister said.

“This is the breakthrough we have been working towards for years,” said Burton. “With this new protected area secured and available for iguana releases, we are now in sight of the kind of success that is all too rare in the world today. The Grand Cayman Blue Iguana really can be saved from extinction, and in a few more years the Cayman Islands may be able to boast that they have achieved just that.”

According to BIRP, this area is almost all pristine dry shrubland, a wild rocky landscape with views over the generally low native vegetation. This is an environment that Blue Iguanas thrive in. It also supports a range of endangered plants, several of which,like the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana, are totally unique to the Cayman Islands.

The Trust must now acquire access to the land, and a Protected Area Planning Team will commence work on the overall land use plan, including site location for the visitor centre and layout of the trail system.


Continue Reading

US to lift Cuba travel ban

| 01/04/2009 | 12 Comments

(AP):  It’s time for Congress to end restrictions that for more than half a century have prevented most Americans from visiting Cuba, a bipartisan group of senators said Tuesday. The lawmakers, at a news conference where they were joined by trade and human rights groups, also made clear that their proposal to allow travel should be a first step toward breaking down economic and trade barriers between the two countries. The travel embargo, said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., is a "failed policy that has failed for 50 years."

Go to article

Continue Reading

PPM to make late start

| 01/04/2009 | 28 Comments

(CNS): As the United Democratic Party and most of the Independent candidates begin their campaigns in earnest, the ruling People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) is not due to take to the hustings until 7 April. The party, which managed a clean sweep in the 2005 General Election with all nine candidates taking seats, will open its campaign with a national rally in George Town where its nine former members of the Legislative Assembly and one new candidate will begin the bid for re-election.

Speaking at Thursday’s regular press briefing, an initiative introduced by the PPM government which they say could disappear under another administration, ministers said that while there are obvious advantages to campaigning as the incumbents, being in office also offers distinct disadvantages.

“We are at a tremendous disadvantage,” said Minister Alden McLaughlin. “We need to be in our offices working while the other people running for office are out there whistling and blowing and running a campaign.” He said that while other election contenders were able to take to the hustings the incumbents still had to run the country.

His sentiments were echoed by Minster for Communication and Works Arden McLean, who said the country doesn’t stop for two months. “Someone still needs to represent the people within government,” he added

Critics have also noted that the weekly publicly funded briefings could be considered an election advantage, but Leader of Government BusinessKurt Tibbetts said that this was not the case as the press briefing was not used to ask people to vote for the PPM but to report on developments within government and answer media questions.

“We are very careful not to use this as a campaign platform,” said Tbbetts. We are conscious of the fact that it is government money that pays for this and we will not use if for that purpose.

McLean also noted that the people would be well aware once the campaign started. “This is not campaigning, believe me you will soon see a difference between campaigning and the press briefings,” he added.

Facing the polls at a difficult time, not least due to the global economic slow down and intense pressure from the G20 nations regarding the country’s position as an offshore financial services centre, the government will be facing an uphill battle. However, the incumbents say they will be able to compare their election promises in their 2005 manifesto to the things that have been achieved giving voters a tangible yardstick. One minister recently stated that more than 90% of the promises made have been met.

The PPM’s first public meeting will take place on North Sound Road on the lot next to the Compass Centre at 7:30pmon 7 April. However, the party’s National Council Meeting takes place this Saturday at Pedro St James starting at 6:30 pm.

Continue Reading

Bats in the roof?

| 01/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): If you hear odd squeaking at night, notice a smudge under a hole near your roof or have left a soffit vent missing or loose, you might have bats in your roof. To find out, stand outside at dusk – after sunset, but while the sky is still light – (you may need to put on some insect repellant!). Watch your house, especially on the west side where it is warmed by the setting sun.If you see bats coming from your roof do not close the opening. Instead call 917-BIRD

According to a release from the National Trust, if you need free help in assessing your problem and removing the bats safely and permanently without harming them, call 917-BIRD. The National Trust can provide a one-way door that will allow bats to leave, but not return to your roof space. If you seal bats inside, they’ll frantically seek other ways out and can end up inside your house – this is not a good thing for people or bats!

Bats are the only native mammal in the Cayman Islands. Each one can eat over 1,000 mosquitoes every night. They are an important part of insect control and in keeping the ecosystem in balance.The goal is to seal the bats out not in! – Every building is a little bit different, so expert advice can help you save money and remove the bats effectively and permanently. Female bats give birth to a single pup in late May. The pups cannot fly on their own for months, so if bats are present, it’s important to move them out now, before the birthing season begins.

For more information visit or or phone the Wildlife Hotline at 917-BIRD, the National Trust office at 940-0121 or contact for free information and advice about removing bats from buildings. The procedure is cheap, easy and effective, but it cannot be done during the months of June, July, August, September, or October.

“We understand that many people are afraid of bats and we want to help calm their fears,” said Lois Blumenthal, Coordinator of the Caribbean Bat Conservation Project for Bat Conservation International ( and director of local bat conservation for the National Trust. “Bats are benign, beneficial local animals, but they should still be removed from roof spaces to avoid odour problems.”

Blumenthal further explained that baby bats do not fly for several months after birth. “They remain behind while their mothers go out to feed on insects. Often people first notice that the bats are in the roof during the summer when the noisier young ‘pups’ are present. When the mother bats return in the quiet early morning hours, these baby bats become very excited and squeaky. People hear this squeaking and they understandably want to get the bats out of the house. Because the babies aren’t flying yet, it is impossible to safely remove the bats until November.

“With the Cooperation of Caribbean Utilities Co Ltd (CUC), Marriott Resorts Inc, Ron Moser’s Machine Shop and extensive volunteer labour, there are now over 80 bat houses distributed in all the districts of Grand Cayman.” Blumenthal explained that all these bat houses provide alternative habitat so bats don’t try to live in people’s roof spaces.

Homeowners can remove bats themselves using the instructions provide by the National Trust or hire professionals like Truly Nolan Pest control. Ken Smith, owner of Truly Nolan, commented, “Our methods work with flying bats. Until the young bats learn to fly, there is no wayto safely remove them from the roof. Attempts to plug the holes that bats are using can backfire and force bats to enter the living quarters of people as they try to find a way back outside.”

Blumenthal explained that roof-dwelling bats are helpful to humans in many ways, including the control of mosquitoes, beetles and moths. “Bats have already lost most of their wild habitat, but only this one species has found homes in roof spaces. Fruit bats have never been found roosting in roofs and do not use bat houses. All bats living in roof spaces here are insect-eating bats. Species of bats are as different and varied as birds, and each fills a different role in the ecology. Most species of bats need forests and caves to survive and cannot live in bat houses, but the bat houses relieve the problem of the Velvety Free-tailed Bat trying to enter roofs. The Cayman Islands have nine entirely different species of bats, and they are our only native mammals. They are not rodents and are more closely related to monkeys than to mice.”

Contact the National Trust to arrange a free slide show about bats and their benefits. This slide show can be adapted to all ages, from pre-school to adults and features unusual full colour pictures of Cayman’s bats as well as bats from all over the world. Free information sheets are also available on or from the office of the National Trust.

Continue Reading