Archive for April 29th, 2009

Catron makes claim for every woman

Catron makes claim for every woman

| 29/04/2009 | 26 Comments

(CNS): Although one of the youngest candidates in the general election 2009 campaign Sandra Catron who is standing as an independent in the district of Bodden Town for the second time is tackling some of the community’s oldest problems head-on. From her outspoken position on addressing child abuse to her ideas about full time committed political representation Catron is going to battle on a diverse platform which may be why she has chosen “Sandra’s every woman” as her campaign song.

At her first public meeting last week Catron adopted an interactive style where she took questions and engaged in conversation with the audience as well as making her case for the people’s vote. Charles, “The Killa” Whittaker, Cayman’s own boxing hero was asked how much money was raised for one of his fights on Catron’s talk show in 2006 and he said it was over $10,000. Catron explained that this demonstrated the power of one and made it clear that as an independent she could get things done. She said if elected the people would know how and where to reach her. Stating that even if she was not able to be in office every single day they would be able to reach her by phone and her schedule would be posted so that they would know when she would be in the constituency office.

Criticizing the vote straight mentality that was being propagated by the political parties she said an individual person can help as she had achieved a number of significant things despite not even being in political office. She related a recent incident where she was able to assist a woman who was sexually assaulted and her cold case was eventually solved because of she said, her pushing the issue with the RCIPS who she accused of sitting on DNA evidence.

Speaking about the environment she cited a phased in recycling programme and mandatory emissions testing. Catron also discussed unemployment calling for the employment relations department to do more to help Caymanians find employment and improve their skills.

She pledged to continue her fight for women and children’s rights and briefly discussed the importance of people voting their conscious on the constitution. Catron refused to tell people how to vote on the constitution but encouraged them to educate themselves about it.

All attendees were invited to sign Sandra’s guess book so that she could follow-up with them on any issues that they may have.

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Election’s office takes democracy on the road

Election’s office takes democracy on the road

| 29/04/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez has said that Thursday, 7 May, is the deadline for applications to be received from voters who wish to make use of the new mobile voting facility. The Elections Law was amended last year to provide this service which is designed to  be used by people in a hospital, rest home or house bound, election workers and those whose occupation prevents them from going to the polling station and people in Little Cayman who will not be travelling to the polling station in Cayman Brac.


Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott explained that it was all about ensuring everyone had access to the democratic process. “For those who can’t come to the polls, we’re taking the polls to them,” he said.

There are two types of mobile voting facilities. One is a trailer, complete with access ramp and facilities inside for election officers and observers, plus a full size voting booth. The second facility allows a team from the Elections Office to bring a portable booth to the voter’s home. The booth can be used as a laptop or it can be set up as a desk with legs easily inserted.

“Voters can sit in the comfort of their living room or front porch and still have privacy in marking their ballots,” Gomez pointed out.

He added that two separate teams will visit voters – one team for the General Elections and one team for the Referendum.

Each presiding officer will carry the necessary equipment. The voter will mark his or her ballot in secret and then hand it to the presiding officer, the same as if they were at a regular polling station. The presiding officer will remove the counterfoil from the ballot and give the ballot back to the voter, who will then drop it into the locked ballot box. If any voter requires assistance, he or she may have a friend watch as the presiding officer marks the ballot as instructed by the elector.

The process is straightforward, Gomez emphasised, and it is not time consuming. Mobile voters will cast their ballots in advance of Election Day on 20 May and the Elections Office will publish a schedule for each district.

The application form for mobile voting is Form BA, which is available at all post offices, the Elections Office website, from the District Registering Officer or from the Elections Office, 2nd floor, Smith Road Professional Centre, 150 Smith Road.

The completed application should be returned as soon as possible. It may be hand-delivered to the District Registering Officer or to the Elections Office.  The District Registering Officers from whom application forms may be obtained are as follows:

West Bay: Mrs. Darlene Owens-Elliott, 916-4402

George Town: Ms Kathryn Myles, 916-2117

Bodden Town: Mrs. Kerry Nixon, 916-4478

East End: Mrs. Vernicia Watler, 916-4647

North Side: Ms Esther Patricia Ebanks, 916-4349

Cayman Brac and Little Cayman: Mrs. Georgene Lazzari, 948-0343.


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Cayman Airways Express flights cancelled

Cayman Airways Express flights cancelled

| 29/04/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): After both Cayman Airways Express Twin Otter aircraft were grounded, three tourists staying on Little Cayman who were scheduled to fly back to London today (29 April) chartered a helicopter to Grand Cayman to catch a connecting flight home. Other guests on the island are travelling by boat to Cayman Brac to catch a 4:00 pm flight. CAL have now announced additional jet flights between Cayman Brac today and tomorrow due to unscheduled maintenance on both Twin Otter aircrafts.

In a release, the airline have said that today, flight 2105 departs Grand Cayman for Cayman Brac at 3pm, arriving at 3:30pm. That flight returns to Grand Cayman as flight 2406, departing the Brac at 4pm, with a 4:30pm arrival on Grand Cayman. On Thursday 30 April, flight 2401 departs Grand Cayman for Cayman Brac at 9am, arriving at 9:30am. That flight returns to Grand Cayman as flight 2102, departing the Brac at 10am, arriving on Grand Cayman at 10:30am.

Little Cayman Beach Resort Manager, Jason Belporte, told CNS that the resort’s dive operation had already scheduled one boat to go to Cayman Brac today and another tomorrow to refuel, and they were carrying stranded guests for no charge and bringing arriving visitors back to Little Cayman on their return. Because of this, he said the situation was not critical and they were working with Cayman Airways, and that the guests seemed happy with the arrangements.

A spokesperson from the Southern Cross Club, where the guests who chartered the helicopter were staying, said they had to return to the UK to attend a funeral and described trying to arrange for them to catch their flight as “a nightmare”.

One of the Twin Otters hasapparently not been flying since Friday and the other was reportedly grounded today, though Cayman Airways has not yet said when the aircraft will be operational again.

A Grand Cayman resident on a working trip to Cayman Brac said the delays were frustrating but that things could be worse. “When we got to the airport this morning for our 8 o’clock flight we were told that both planes were broken and that there may or may not be a flight out today,” she said. However, the passenger said she was still at the airport at around 9:30 when they were told there would be a jet this afternoon and understood that Cayman Airways had chartered a jet from a US airline.

"Cayman Airways’ reservations is working diligently to inform and accommodate all affected passengers, and apologises for any inconveniences caused. Cayman Airways will update the travelling public with more information as it is received," a release from the airline stated.

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Kids clued up on parrots

Kids clued up on parrots

| 29/04/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Cayman Wildlife Rescue marked Earth Week on Saturday, 25 April 25th, Cayman Wildlife rescue celebrated Earth Week with a programme designed to educate children on the plight of the Cayman Parrot and how by protecting their environment they will also protect the Cayman Parrot. “Playtime for Parrots,” included a presentation on the link between Cayman’s forests and the birds explaining how this National Symbol depends on green spaces for food and nesting. Following “Are you as Green as a Cayman Parrot?” the young people made toys for parrots tat have been rescued.

Cayman Wildlife Rescue is tasked with the rehabilitation and release of injured, sick and orphaned wildlife species such as the Cayman Parrot, that are brought in each year for care.  This low-flying species is at risk for being hit by oncoming traffic and each year several are brought in for injuries from cars.

“While the majority of the injured parrots brought in for care re-cuperate and are released, sometimes a Cayman Parrot is so badly injured it can never be released.  Fortunately Cayman Parrots can do very well in captivity,” said  Alison Corbett, Project Manager

Cocoplum, a young Cayman Parrot, struck by a car last fall had to have several surgeries to save his wing but Cocoplum will never regain his flight and has now been placed with other rescued Cayman Parrots at Boatswains Beach.  There he receives excellent care and acts as an ambassador to educate visitors about the impact of humans on wildlife.


The Cayman Parrot is also falling victim to the illegal pet trade.  Several years ago a young parrot was turned over to Cayman Wildlife Rescue after being robbed from its nest.  “Toby was one of the unlucky parrots, doomed for a future in a cage.  Luckily he was turned over to us and hand-raised by an experienced volunteer,”  added Corbett. “Parrots such as these, who are very tame and lack the “life skills” to survive in the wild have little hope for release.” 


One caring local farmer, Otto Watler, has dedicated much of his life to the Cayman Parrot and has created a sanctuary for rescued parrots to live their lives in safe and spacious aviaries.  Cayman Wildlife Rescue has been assisting Otto Watler in his efforts and provides the parrots with food, treats and enrichment such as new toys every week  At Playtime for Parrots children built toys for these rescued Cayman Parrots.  “The Cayman Parrot is very intelligent, in the wild they would spend much of their day foraging for food and socializing with other parrots,” Corbett said. “ In captivity we engage them with enrichment such as toys to keep them mentally stimulated and entertained.”


She thanked Animal House for donating generously and supplying toy making materials for the children and noted that the event was also a recycling effort as wood scraps and discarded baby toys were reused to make parrot toys.  The Machine Shop donated their left over wood scraps and made pre-drilled cubes the children could easily string on rope. Attendees were treated themselves to face painting by Taya Maki and received bird buddy wristbands & Cayman Parrot colouring sheets after completing the toy-building.  “It was a very fun day and I thank all the volunteers, contributors and most of all the children for supporting the Cayman Parrot,” Corbett  added.


If you find injured wildlife call the LIME sponsored Wildlife Emergency Hotline 917-BIRD(2473) Members of the public should never attempt to care for a wild animal themselves, as wildlife requires veterinary care and special diets.  Cayman Wildlife Rescue is a programme of the National Trust and is financed by donations from the public and staffed 100% by volunteers.  Please contact the Project Manager, Alison Corbett, at for information on volunteering or to make a donation.




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IRS eyes more offshore banks

IRS eyes more offshore banks

| 29/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(Miami Herald):  The Internal Revenue Service is widening its investigation of offshore private banking beyond UBS to take action against other banks in a bid to force them to identify US taxpayers with undisclosed foreign accounts, according to an IRS agent. Daniel Reeves — a key investigator in the UBS case — made the disclosure during a presentation at the OffshoreAlert Financial Due Diligence Conference in Miami Beach Monday. ”We have identified other offshore banks that promote tax avoidance,” Reeves said. ‘We are developing additional `John Doe’ summonses on some of those banks.”

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Bermuda didn’t do enough

Bermuda didn’t do enough

| 29/04/2009 | 1 Comment

(Royal  Gazette): Bermuda was "grey-listed" by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) because of its lack of follow-up action since the Island’s commitment to international tax transparency standards nine years ago. That was the explanation given by Jeffery Owens, the director of the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, who said Monday that the list was drawn up on a factual basis and that Bermuda had not done enough to reach the highest level. Speaking with The Royal Gazette at the OffshoreAlert Annual Financial Due Diligence Conference in Miami, Owens said the list had nothing to do with longevity of agreement to meet OECD standards, but was focused on actions.

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McField derides local parties

McField derides local parties

| 29/04/2009 | 52 Comments

(CNS): The party system in the Cayman Islands is pointless says Dr Frank McField an independent candidate for George Town and former UDP member. Speaking at last night’s Chamber Forum he pointed out that political parties should be much more that groupings formed to serve people’s political ambitions and own interests as they are in Cayman. He said real political parties had ideologies and value systems that were different. In Cayman he noted the candidates beliefs were much the same and the party system was just not necessary.

Answering a question about political cooperation at the Chamber Candidates District Forum in George Town on Tuesday (28 April) at the Family Life Centre he explained that Cayman’s political groupings were not real political parties.  “What we have are not true political parties,” he said. “Political parties are more than people organised for their political interests and that’s what we have. So what differentiates one party from the other is just the leadership or the personalities of the individuals within the organisation. I don’t have a problem working with any of them as there are no ideological differences or value differences they are only in these groups for their political advancement.”

He said that the idea of the Westminster system being institutionalized in the Constitution was problematic when people didn’t understand that the political party system was created to advance ideological objectives. McField added that Cayman was, “not pursuing any particular ideological objectives – so why is it then that it is seen that political party behaviour here should be institutionalized?”

Sitting on the same platform was Derrington Bo Miller another independent candidate who also noted there was no need to put labels on people in Cayman and that people should be able to go to the polls on 20 May and vote for fifteen people. He said the party system had caused division among countries in the region and he wanted to see a national ballot. Miller said as so few people had joined the parties it was clear they didn’t subscribe to the system.

Not surprisingly however, the Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts who was also on the panel had a different view and when asked who he would or wouldn’t work with he said that he would never consider not working with anyone despite the fact that the Westminster system did appear a bit adversarial because of government and opposition. “I don’t think anyone of us should ever consider not working with who the people have decided they wanted to elect,” he said adding that they may be differences but that did not mean people couldn’t work together. “At the end of the day we are all Caymanians,” he added.

Former independent candidate in the previous election Ellio Solomon who is now a member of the UDP said he thought there was a need for organisation as it provided policies to the electorate before they were elected instead of “fumbling around” afterwards.

 Tackling the question about threats to the financial services Miller said that there were lot of unknown threats but there were more threats from without than within He said Cayman must reinvent itself and come up with new services in the sector and to do that there was a need to tap into the talent already here. He said in the end government can only do damage control and regulate the impetus fro re-invention and change had to come from the private sector.

Tibbetts too told the audience that the threats were evolving and although the grey list was the most pressing, Cayman was facing a new global regime. He said he agreed with Miller that the pool of talent need to be utilized to create the new products we would need to face the new regulatory regime and for Cayman’s Financial services to remain successful. He lauded the partnerships government had with the private sector but avoided any mention of the recent crack in the partnership with CIFSA revealed in the recent letter to the LoGB by the Chair Anthony Travers as reported on CNS.

When asked about procurement and Cayman first policies McField noted the problem Cayman faces with fronting.  He said Caymanians should come first but people also wanted quality products. It was pointless to criticize government for employing foreign entities he said but he would when they did it without giving Caymanians the opportunity. But he explained that it was in fact Caymanians that were facilitating the foreign companies anyway as was seen with the contractor at the school in North Side. Caymanians, he said, were partnering the foreign companies to enable them to operate here and meet the criteria.  “Without the cooperation of those members of the business community… that allow the foreign companies a foothold in the Cayman Islands there is no point in making any procurement preferences because at the end of the day you put a Caymanian in front but it will still be a foreign entity that benefits.”

McField said not everything could be accomplished by laws a point that Miller agreed with from the point of view that government and legislation was not the answer to everything. Throughout the evening he spoke a lot about the need for more privatization and a reduction in the size of government. “We have become dependent on government for everything,” he said. “We need to downsize government and incorporate private sector expertise before it is too late for them to want to get involved.” Miller noted.

Despite some nit picking between Solomon and Tibbetts the four candidates offered an intelligent debate and some interesting solutions for subjects such as the builder’s law, attracting business to Cayman, tackling red tape, tourism, financial services and many district issues. They all agreed that during the next administration, whatever happened at the polls, there was a need to make government more efficient and reduce the operating budget through cutting waste rather than increasing fees or through new revenue measures.

McField fell short of supporting a national lottery but said it was worth considering the licensing of the exiting numbers game and for government to take fees that way.  Tibbetts said that the recent $17 million reduction demonstrated there was room to reduce operating cost without too much pain, though something had to be done about the $64 million health care tab that government picks up every year through CINICO for civil servants and other dependents. He said he did not support a national lottery. Solomon said government had squandered money and exacerbated the situation.  He also repeated his colleague Mike Adam’s recent point that he believed a national lottery was just recycling existing money. He said that there were lots of opportunities for inward investment as well as the potential to cut millions of dollars in government inefficiencies. “In these tough economic times,” Solomon said, “when we get through on lemons we need to make lemonade……” (sic.)

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Swine flu death in US

Swine flu death in US

| 29/04/2009 | 90 Comments

(CNS):  UPDATE WEDNESDAY 10:00am: There are no suspected cases of swine flu in the Cayman Islands as per the Center of Disease Control Guidelines, Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar confirmed this morning, following reports of the first death from the virus outside Mexico. The 23-month-old child in Texas was one of 64 swine flu cases in the US and officials said the child had been to Mexico. Residents of the Cayman Islands are advised to avoid non-essential travel to Mexico and to be diligent if traveling to other countries affected by the swine flu outbreak. The HSA has procured additional stocks of Tamiflu which should arrive on island by the weekend.

The World Health Organization earlier confirmed that the flu was being transmitted between humans and called on countries to check their contingency plans for a possible pandemic.

As well as the travel precautions, Kumar has also advised that people should seek medical attention if they have had a recent travel history to Mexico and other affected areas and develop flu-like symptoms, or have come in close contact with persons who have been diagnosed with swine flu.

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

Anyone who becomes ill with influenza-like symptoms may want to contact their doctor, who will
determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed. However, swabs will have to be sent overseas for tests which will take at least a week. The treatment does not depend on the test results. People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possible for up to 7 days following illness onset. Dr Kumar said swine influenza viruses are not spread by eating pork or pork products, and that properly handled and cooked pork products are safe.

If the recent outbreak of swine flu becomes a pandemic there is no way of stopping it reaching the Cayman Islands, according to Dr Kumar. However, so far cases outside Mexico have not been fatal and the virus may have mutated into a less serious strain, which would be good news, he said. Mexico, where the virus first appeared, is now reporting the number of probable deaths is now 152, with 1,614 suspected sufferers under observation.

No cases have been confirmed in the Cayman Islands, but arrangements are being made with the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre in Trinidad for testing of any suspected cases. Symptoms are the same as any other flu and there is no way of knowing except by testing, Dr Kumar said.

The Ministry of Health and the Health Services Authority say they are taking the necessary measures for early detection and control of swine flu and ensure appropriate control measures, though they have admitted that Cayman has not stockpiled enough of the antiviral, Tamiflu, which can prevent serious complications and is best if started within two days of symptoms.

Following the spread of the virus, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General yesterday raised the level of influenza pandemic alert from the current phase 3 to phase 4. The change to a higher phase of pandemic alert indicates that the likelihood of a pandemic has increased, but not that a pandemic is inevitable.

Asked about cruise ships stopping in the Cayman Islands en route from Mexico, Dr Kumar said there was some risk, not because it came from Mexico but because when you have thousands of people coming ashore from a cruise ship one may be carrying the virus. He told CNS that they have asked cruise lines not to allow passengers to disembark if they have seen the doctor for flu symptoms, but he said there are no plans to stop visitors coming to the Cayman Islands either by sea or air, noting that if you stop American citizens coming here, why would the US not stop Cayman residents travelling to the US?

So far, at least 90 cases have been confirmed worldwide, including 50 in the United States; six in Canada; three in New Zealand; two each in Spain and the United Kingdom; and one in Israel, and while none has yet resulted in death, the UN has warned that the virus cannot be contained.

There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu, according to the HSA. However, there are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza: Avoid close contact with people who are sick with flu symptoms. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

“The Health Ministry and the Public Health Department, supported by a number of agencies from other Ministries, have plans in place for the outbreak of contagious diseases,” Health Minister Anthony Eden has said. “Steps are already being taken to handle a possible outbreak of swine flu in the Cayman Islands. Any suspected cases will be thoroughly tested for the swine flu virus. The Cayman Islands government is in contact with PAHO and WHO for the latest advisories, and will respond promptly and appropriately as the situation develops. The Government is committed to ensure that we maintain keen surveillance of this threat. We will keep the public informed, and ensure that all relevant local information is provided on a timely basis.”

Swine Influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A Influenza that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza among pigs. The new version of the H1N1 virus is a mix of different animal and human versions of the disease. Mixing can lead to the development of changed viruses to which humans have little immunity. Flu viruses have the ability to change and mutate, making it difficult for drugs manufacturers to ensure effective vaccines are available. However, testing has shown that the antiviral drugs oseltamavir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) appear to be effective against the human swine influenza H1N1 strain.

A release from the HSA said that although it has been determined that the virus in this outbreak is contagious and is spreading from human to human, it has not yet been determined how easily the virus spreads between people. Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the infection and whether additional people have been infected with similar swine influenza viruses in the United States.

The majority of these cases have occurred in otherwise healthy young adults. Influenza normally affects the very young and the very old, but these age groups have not been heavily affected in Mexico.

“Because there are human cases associated with an animal influenza virus, and because of the geographical spread of multiple community outbreaks, plus the somewhat unusual age groups affected, these events are of high concern.” said Dr. Kumar.

The World Health Organization has NOT issued a travel advisory to any of the affected areas at this time. However, Dr. Kumar is advising the public to be diligent in deciding their travel plans to these areas. For further information please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the World health Organisation.  

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