Archive for June 17th, 2009

Seat held by ruling party in Jamaican by-election

| 17/06/2009 | 2 Comments

(Jamaican Observer): The Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP’s) Gregory Mair was re-elected member of parliament for the St Catherine North Eastern constituency in yesterday’s by-election, defeating the People’s National Party’s (PNP’s) Granville Valentine by more than 2,600 votes. The by-election was ordered by the court which disqualified Mair as MP because he held Jamaican and Venezuelan citizenship when he was nominated for the 2007 general elections. Mair’s 2007 victory was one of fourchallenged by the PNP on the grounds that the winners held dual citizenship going into the general elections.


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A-levels criticised

| 17/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): The A-level exam has become "hollow preparation" for university, by undermining independent study and original thought, says a think tank. The Reform group claims exam modules have created a "learn and forget culture"- which it likens to using a sat-nav rather than map-reading skills. It says universities should ensure the quality of A-levels, taken by pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Ministers said the extended project and the new A* would address concerns. The Reform report analysed the views of academics in English, mathematics, chemistry and history.

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Cayman records fourth swine flu case

| 17/06/2009 | 12 Comments

(CNS): Test results from the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) have confirmed a fourth case of the novel H1N1 virus (previously known as swine flu) in the Cayman Islands. While health officials are expecting more cases they have also stated that as this flu is no more harmful than the three other types of seasonal flu currently circulating in Cayman, people who feel unwell should simply stay in home isolation until their symptoms have completely resolved.

The latest patient is an eight year old student who fell sick a few days after returning from Miami. She subsequently tested positive for Influenza A at the Health Services Authority’s Accident & Emergency Unit.  “The child is recovering well at home without antiviral medications and is experiencing an uncomplicated illness like the other patients we have had locally,” said Health Services Authority Medical Director Dr. Greg Hoeksema. “With the high volume of travel between the Cayman Islands and the US, it is inevitable that we will have additional imported cases that in turn will lead to more human-to-human transmission in the islands.”

Dr. Hoeksema advises that anyone who develops fever and flu-like symptoms should stay in home isolation until their symptoms have completely resolved.

“The illness associated with the novel H1N1 flu virus is mild and appears no different from the typical seasonal flu. Also, we have confirmation from CAREC that all three of the typical seasonal flu viruses are also still circulating on the island.  So our advice is to stay at home and only seek medical care with your regular physician if you are concerned about the severity of your illness.”

He did however, warn those who are at increased risk of developing complications of the flu to visit their doctor.  “These include children under five, people over 65, people with serious chronic medical problems, people with immune deficiency, and women who are pregnant,” explained Dr. Hoeksema. “While we understand the level of anxiety in the community about the current situation, it is important to emphasize that our plan covers all phases of a pandemic and takes into account many different scenarios.”

Dr Anna Matthews, Acting Medical Officer of Health, noted that the HSA’s response to the World Health Organization’s declaration of a pandemic earlier this month, was built on the presumption that a pandemic was likely. “WHO’s decision came as no surprise – from the start we acted aggressively to stay ahead of the virus,” she said adding that Cayman has a comprehensive National Influenza Pandemic Plan which outlines measures to be taken at various stages. “This allows for different strategies as the situation evolves. For example, we have now moved from detection of first imported cases to mitigation and containment since the virus is now here on the island,” Dr. Matthews said. 

Public health officials have reiterated that home isolation and self care is best for the majority of people infected with all flu viruses, including the novel H1N1. People who have a fever and flu-like symptoms (headache, chills, cough, chest pain, sore throat, muscle aches, diarrhea, vomiting) should remain at home until all symptoms have completely resolved (typically 4-10 days); take over-the-counter medication as needed to relieve symptoms, but do not give children under 18 years of age any aspirin-containing products; drink lots of fluids (water and other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages) to avoid becoming dehydrated and if you have diarrhea or vomiting, health officials say it’s a good idea to rest, eat only small amounts of food at a time, and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.


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Counsel representatives plan for hurricanes

| 17/06/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Although Cayman as an Overseas Territory of the UK does not have diplomatic missions or embassies from other countries there are a considerable number of honorary counsels here representing the interests of various nationals that reside in the Cayman Islands. Last week government officials met with honorary consuls who represent 12 different countries to discuss among other things disaster management plans for this year’s hurricane season.


The meeting was jointly convened by the Governor’s Office and the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs at the Grand Old House where consuls representing Austria, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, United Kingdom, Honduras, India, Jamaica, the Philippines, Spain, Switzerland and the United States came together..  

Governor Stuart Jack said the meeting at the start of every hurricane season was to familiarise everyone with the national disaster management and the input from the honorary consuls was necessary to ensure effective collaboration in supporting the various nationals living on the Islands in the event of a disaster.  “It is in all our interests that we work together to protect everyone,” the Governor said.

The third meeting of the honorary consuls the agenda included presentations from Hazard Management Cayman Islands Director Designate McLeary Frederick, Deputy Chief Immigration Officer Kerry Nixon and Chief of Protocol Virginia Madison,



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Talk sex with teens, health minister says

| 17/06/2009 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Health Minister Mark Scotland believes that everyone – parents and the community – needs to have candid conversations with children and the youth about HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. "We need to keep the lines of communication open with them so that our youth are armed with the necessary knowledge to understand the steps they can take to protect themselves and preserve their health,” Scotland told CNS, though both he and Education Minister Rolston Anglin said there were no plans to hand out condoms at schools in the Cayman Islands.

"Our young people need to know that they have choices to make, and they should be allowed to make informed choices. If they choose to protect themselves through abstinence, then that is one personal choice. However, if they choose to be sexually active they need to know, and understand, the need toprotect themselves through measures such as using condoms,” the health minister said.

However, the new education minister did not rule out the possibility of making condoms available at schools in the future. “On the face of it many would argue that if the government was to engage in such a public policy it would potentially be encouraging illegal and immoral behaviour,” Minister Anglin said. “I say potentially illegal, because of the age at which a person can engage legally in sexual activities (and any age before this could lead to legal implications for those participating!).”

Anglin continued, “Having said that, everyone acknowledges that teenage pregnancy and the spread of STDs amongst teens is a real issue. The approach to curb both of these would involve a multi-faceted approach. Abstinence is still the only sure way to avoid both of these perils. Pro-social and moral behaviour is what government and the wider society should instil in teenagers. Having said all of that there will still be some teenagers who experiment with sexual behaviour. The distribution and/or sale of condoms at schools would be a public policy decision that would involve engaging the health and education professionals and the wider community for guidance and input.”

Anglin said the Ministry of Education was committed to dialogue to elicit the widest and deepest input on such highly sensitive issues. “We would be guided by community input on such matters,” he said.

Minister Scotland also raised the issue of discussing sex at the launch of the Red Cross initiative Breaking the Taboo — A Community Effort to Start the Dialogue. “Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to HIV and AIDS. In fact, such ignorance inevitably leads to misconceptions, myths and stigmas – a combination that makes it virtually impossible to fight the disease,” he said.

According to figures collated 30 September 2008 by the Public Health Department, three people under the age of 25 have died from AIDS in the Cayman Islands to date. Since the first identified AIDS patient in March 1985, there have been a total of 44 AIDS cases (as of 30 September 2008), resulting in 30 deaths, with a further 41 people testing positive for HIV that has not developed into AIDS. Most of the 85 people who contracted HIV through sexual intercourse (67%) are heterosexual, with 20 men identifying themselves as homosexual or bisexual. Four children contracted HIV through perinatal contact, one through IV drug use overseas and the source of two patients is unknown.

Scotland said although most find HIV/AIDS a difficult topic to discuss at home, in school or church, Cayman’s young people need to have candid conversations on this topic. “Because official figures show low infection levels in Cayman, many tend to think HIV and AIDS are not priority health issues. However, we need to remind ourselves that official statistics only reflect those tested; actual figures may well be higher. In addition, our local aids activists and public health officials tell us that if current sexual behaviors do not change here, then HIV/AIDS will become an increasingly serious problem,” he continued.

Scotland said his ministry would continue to support the drive for sexual health education as this represents a critical element in securing a better future for Cayman’s youth. “My call to everyone is: Learn to talk about this subject. Talk about safe sex, talk about low-risk behaviour; talk about the stigma and the need for annual testing, because in the end we are talking about our people, and especially the collective future of our precious young people,” Scotland concluded.

However, while advocating more discussion, both publicly and privately, there do not appear to be any practical initiatives planned. Scotland told CNS that the Ministry of Health remains supportive of any education and preventative initiatives spear-headed by the Public Health Department and NGOs such as the Red Cross and the Cayman AIDS Foundation. However, in answer to specific questions, he said that at this time the Ministry of Health is not contemplating any initiatives such as the installation of condom vending machines in government buildings or handing out condoms at schools.

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Off duty cops injure suspect

| 17/06/2009 | 54 Comments

(CNS): An internal enquiry has been initiated by the Professional Standards Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service to assess the level of force used during an incident in which a man, who had reportedly been armed with the machete, sustained various injuries during an arrest by three off duty police officers. The suspect, who was arrested the early hours of this morning (17 June) on suspicion of threatening violence and possession of an offensive weapon, suffered a laceration to his face and a broken arm. 

This morning, uniformed police officers were called to the scene involving the man and three off-duty police officers at the Red Bay Esso on Shamrock Road. The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at approximately 1:00am from a member of the public reporting that an altercation was taking place at the gas station and that one man was armed with a machete.

On arrival police found that the man had been placed under arrest by an off duty officer. The suspect had sustained a number of injuries during the incident, for which he received medical treatment, and has now been released on police bail. Police confirmed that a machete had been recovered from the scene.

The circumstances around what happened are currently under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department and an internal enquiry has been initiated regarding the use of force. The police said that officers do find themselves in situations where the use of force is necessary and in such cases they are required to justify that use of force, showing that it was proportionate and legal, and that there was, at the time, an absolute necessity.

Anyone who witnessed what took place is asked to contact George Town Police Station on 949-4222 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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Travers tells US Ugland House is a necessity

| 17/06/2009 | 5 Comments

(CNS): As the Cayman Islands delegation continues its wanderings in Europe, aiming to sign the necessary further three treaties to meet the OECD standards to have the jurisdiction moved from the infamous post G20 ‘grey list’ to the ‘white list’, the chair of the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association is trumpeting Cayman’s cause in the US capital. Writing in the Washington Times today (17 June), Anthony Travers says that Cayman is a fully transparent tax jurisdiction and any statements to the contrary are incorrect, including the US president’s comments about Ugland House.

Travers writes that Barack Obama’s much cited criticism of the 18,000 corporations listed in one building (Maples offices in George Town — Travers’ own former workplace) is not justified. He says the "outrage" that Obama cites is a necessity for the firms domiciled there to ensure the application of the Cayman legal system.

Travers states that Cayman directs international capital flows in a tax-efficient manner. “We provide a tax-neutral platform from which trillions of dollars move from international capital markets to the balance sheets of US financial institutions for the benefit of pension funds and universities as well as ordinary investors. At bottom, it is unfair to mischaracterize Cayman as a ‘tax haven’ – a phrase that implies secrecy and wrongdoing – as President Obama and others have done recently,” he wrote.

He says that comparing Cayman to jurisdictions such as Liechtenstein and Switzerland, where he says, “tax evasion actually occurs”, is wrong because the Cayman Islands has full-transparency tax treaties with the United States and the European Union.

Travers also claims that no tax evader would seek to use Cayman, “given the unrestricted powers of the US Internal Revenue Service, the US Department of Justice and the European Union’s treasury departments to obtain full information on any Cayman account.”

He suggests the US should seek transparency with Cayman so that when an account is opened in Cayman the US authorities would be notified to help the US understand that no additional tax revenue is to be derived from the Cayman Islands, because, he claims, it is not used by US citizens to evade tax.

“Tax evasion is illegal. Tax avoidance is not,” Travers writes, adding that describing the tax conduct of every Fortune 500 company that has lawfully relied on a legitimate provision of US law as "using a loophole" is wrong, and implying that Cayman is complicit is unnecessary.

Travers says the United States has the ability to change its domestic tax law and remove the anomalies or loopholes so that tax avoidance will disappear. He defends the international capital markets as “pillars of global financial architecture”, and notes that the Cayman Islands is an important participant in those markets.

”Please, can we stop the unnecessary name-calling that is obscuring the benefits the Cayman Islands has conferred on the United Statesand let the US government use the real facts to decide whether and how to change its tax laws?” Travers asks.

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Police say missing teenager is safe

| 17/06/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Police have confirmed that they have now made contact with the teenager who was reported missing over the weekend. Having urged 17-year-old Yanique Conolly to contact them directly police said this morning that officers had spoken to her and she was safe and well. Thanking the media and the public for their assistance police offered no further details on what had happened to Yanique since she was last seen in George Town on Friday morning.

Police first issued an alert for Yanique on Sunday morning when they asked her to make contact with her family. It was reported that Yanique had last seen her mother at the courthouse on Friday morning around 10:30 when she told her she would get the bus to her home in Bodden Town.  

Then on Monday police said there had been sightings of Yanique and indications from other relatives that she had made contact and she was asked her to call them directly. It is not clear if Yanique has been reunited with her relatives or whether her disappearance was due to a family dispute.

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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