Archive for October 9th, 2009

Arson suspected in George Town bar fire

Arson suspected in George Town bar fire

| 09/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Fire Service extinguished several small fires at a bar on Bodden Road, George Town, yesterday, Thursday October 8, and police say the incident is being treated as arson. At approximately 9:00am the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call that there was a fire at Pistol Bar, Bodden Road. The RCIPS said an area by the bar and a sofa were alight when the fire crew arrived, but they were able to contain the fires before police arrived on the scene. Further investigation established that a side door had been forced open. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

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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LIME sponsors top athletes

LIME sponsors top athletes

| 09/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Two of the Caribbean’s top athletes –- 110M hurdles World Champion, Barbadian, Ryan Brathwaite and the Region’s premier high jumper, St. Lucian, Levern Spencer (left) — have signed endorsement contracts with telecommunications provider LIME. This provides the athletes with financial incentives as well as a wide range of telecommunications services that will keep them in touch whether at home or abroad as they aspire to bring even more glory to the Caribbean at the Olympics in 2012. The athletes have joined Jamaican sprinting sensation, Asafa Powell, the former 100M World Record Holder, who has been sponsored by LIME since 2005.

According to a release from LIME,though relatively new to the international athletics arena, both Spencer and Brathwaite have been creating waves in the athletic world over the last few years, setting and breaking personal, national and CARICOM records.

In welcoming Spencer to the LIME family, LIME Country Manager for St. Lucia, Sean Auguste said, “Levern is a living example of the ideals that LIME aspires to – she is world class, committed to achieving excellence in her field and she strives to be the best”. He added” As a longtime sponsor of sports and a company that is committed to helping young talents reach their full potential, we are thrilled to help her achieve her dreams.”

Spencer was very proud and appreciative of her association with LIME and, in thanking the company for their support, she commented, “It’s easier to perform at your best when you don’t have to be preoccupied with day-to-day necessities – that’s why LIME’s sponsorship will be a great help to me in achieving my dreams. This is a long journey for me, but an enjoyable one – I am proud to be a member of the LIME family.”

LIME’s Country Manager for Barbados, Alex McDonald also expressed pride in gold medallist Ryan Brathwaite’s achievements and others like him who are focused on reaching for the stars and leaving a positive mark not only on their peers but also on the country as a whole. “For LIME the decision to sponsor Ryan, on his journey to gold in 2012 was an easy one because he exemplifies all of the positive attributes that young people in Barbados and the entire Caribbean should be striving for.”

“LIME prides itself on being a good corporate citizen and a trailblazer in providing support for a number of activities that give back to the communities that we serve and it gives us great pleasure to support one of our country’s brightest stars,” he added.

Brathwaite, who was recently designated an ambassador-at-large by the Barbadian government, thanked LIME for its support and vowed to do his best tomake the region and the company proud by bringing home gold in the 2012 Olympics.

As part of the agreement with LIME, both athletes will appear on advertising materials in their respective islands and Levern will be conducting clinics in St. Lucia inspiring other young athletes as they strive for greatness.

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Finance committee hears Pirate’s Week could survive

Finance committee hears Pirate’s Week could survive

| 09/10/2009 | 24 Comments

(CNS): The campaign to save Cayman’s longest running and perhaps most popular annual festival could still survive beyond this year. During this week’s Finance Committee hearings, the leader of government business indicated that the idea to rename the festival was still being put before the schools, but he seemed to acknowledge the opposition to changing the name of the Pirates Week Festival, giving hope to supporters. McKeeva Bush noted that if the decision was his alone he would change the name but he said we would see what was going to happen.

Leader of The Opposition Kurt Tibbetts asked if any final decision had been made regarding the festival, for which $417,355 has been allocated in this year’s budget, an increase from last year’s $283,651. In response, Bush confirmed that the plan to rename was still in the pipeline and that he hoped the schools would come up with a new name that was acceptable to all. He also explained that the increase in financing for the event was down to filling the post of director and introducing the deputy director’s position.

Bush also told the committee that he still believed the name should be changed as, he said, when he took over as LoGB he was barraged with questions when travelling overseas about the country’s direct links to piracy and it was also at the same time when modern day pirate activity by the Somalis had made headlines with kidnappings and hijacks.

“I took the view we should change the name,” Bush added. “I still believe we should do that, but work needs to be done on how we can change it. Our history is about tall ships, seafaring and turtles.” He said when faced with questions about piracy, it was a fine line, but he understood that people pointed to Disney having a pirate connection. He said we would see what the schools came up with but, “if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen,” he said.

Since the announcement of the possible name change there has been a strong lobby behind the scenes to keep both the name and the theme as central to the festival, and an official campaign to ‘Save Pirates Week’ is soon to be unveiled. Suggestions have also been made within the wider tourism sector of taking the festival out of government hands and making it an entirely private and commercial event funded by local business.

Meanwhile, this year’s festival preparations are well underway and this Saturday novices can learn how to dress like a pirate at a special workshop taking place at the Pirates Week Office at 11am, hosted by Cayman’s own Las Tortugas Pirates Darwin and his crew. For full details on this years events log on to

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‘Slush’ fund queried by MLA

‘Slush’ fund queried by MLA

| 09/10/2009 | 70 Comments

(CNS): Legislators have begun their careful examination of the government’s proposed spending plans for this fiscal year in Finance Committee. During the first day’s sitting MLAs scrutinized spending in the leader of government business’s various ministries, which at times led to heated exchanges between McKeeva Bush and members of the opposition over Cayman Airways and a new line item of $2.4 million, which was described as after school programmes and sports. What was explained by Bush as “nation building” and money to “help the churches” was identified as a potential “slush fund” for the Premier by Alden McLaughlin.

As members of the committee made various observations and asked questions over the increases in spending in the Ministry of Financial Services, Tourism and Development, as well as the cuts to the departmental budgets, line by line, Bush revealed thereasons for his ministry's spending plans.

In a heated exchange between Bush and Moses Kirkconnell over Cayman Airways and flights to the Sister Islands, Bush said that Kirkconnell did not have a monopoly on caring for Cayman Brac, but Kirkconnell pointed out that he had a right to ask questions and had not come to Finance Committee to be castigated but to gain information. McKeeva later angrily accused members of the opposition of plotting to try and trip him up and of being too facetious as the questioning continued.

As the committee moved towards the end of the LoGB’s appropriations, the former education minister asked the leader of government business about a line item listed under the transfer payments of $2.4 million which was described as “Other, Youth, Sports and Cultural Programme Assistance”. Alden McLaughlin observed that there were already similar line items in both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health’s appropriations for developing youth. McLaughlin said that having such things in duplicate or even triplicate was clearly going to cost more and wondered exactly what the significant sum was for.

In response, the leader of government business said there would be no duplication and this was a new appropriation for the office of the premier and it was incorrectly named as it should be entitled "nation building and leadership" as he said the idea was to give money to local churches to help with youth development and nation building projects. “They can find whatever excuse they want not to support it,” Bush observed of the opposition. “That’s up to them.”

McLaughlin noted that he was not persuaded by the logic of what was being proposed as it did sound like a duplication of other items. Bush, however, said the money would be used for other things as well, such as paying back the contractors who were out of pocket because of the collapse of the Matrix deal, as he said that was the moral thing to do.

“So a more appropriate name for this would be the ‘premier’s slush fund’?” McLaughlin asked.

Bush suggested that if McLaughlin wanted to call churches and young people a slush that was up to him, but Bush said he was trying to make some way with nation building and in his opinion churches have everything to do with that. McLaughlin observed that Bush himself had already stated that the fund would not be solely used for that purpose.  The former education minister said he believed that his record reflected his passion for the development of young people and that the point was whether this $2.4 million was a duplication of money already allocated to other ministries who were responsible for this work and pressed for a proper explanation of what it was for.

Bush angrily accused McLaughlin of throwing dirty water at things and thinking he would “get away with it”. He said he was “fulfilling a campaign promise” and it was about nation building. “You look at his record,” said Bush. “You’ll see dirty expenditure and wasteful expenditure.”   

Although a full explanation for the $2.4million was not forthcoming, the line item was eventually passed. Finance Committee also heard, along with the appropriations and transfer payments, an equity investment (or a subsidy) of $9,000,000 would be given to the Cayman Turtle Farm — around 10% of the entire ministry’s budget.

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Air Jamaica to pay US over violations

Air Jamaica to pay US over violations

| 09/10/2009 | 2 Comments

(CaribWorldNews): Jamaica`s already heavily indebted aircraft, Air Jamaica,will have to shell out US$180,000 to Uncle Sam.  The carrier has been forced to pay up to resolve a civil action by the U.S. attorney`s office in Brooklyn over maintenance issues that eventually led to an aircraft making an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in December 2001. The U.S. Attorney`s Office of the Eastern District of New York announced yesterday that the action arose out of Air Jamaica`s `negligent maintenance of one of its aircraft` which resulted in the emergency landing.

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DoE boss sets record straight to climate-change denier

DoE boss sets record straight to climate-change denier

| 09/10/2009 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Climate change is a reality that the Cayman Islands and the rest of the world needs to both recognize and act upon. This is the message delivered by the Director of the Department of the Environment in response to a letter in the local press from a climate change-denier which criticised local spending on developing a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. Gina Ebanks-Petrie pointed out that the money for this project is not coming from the CI government but the UK, but above all that the facts and the evidence for climate change, the projected adverse effects, and most importantly the observed trends of local impacts, are too compelling to ignore.

Writing in response to Randy Kinsey’s letter published in the Caymanian Compass on Wednesday 23 September, Ebanks-Petrie said the climate change strategies being undertaken in this and the other Caribbean UK Overseas Territories have all been funded through money acquired from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center.

She noted that the vast majority of countries worldwide are engaged in projects addressing issues related to climate change.

“There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that taking action to prepare for climate change now will be less costly and more effective than remedial measures in the future,” Ebanks-Petrie wrote. “The DOE and the other institutions involved in this project have based their stance on the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change an intergovernmental body of hundreds of scientists, which assesses on an objective and transparent basis the latest research and literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change and in fact includes review of work that does not necessarily support the global warming hypothesis.”

She noted that in contrast, the sources cited by Kinsey were are not credible. For example, the DoE director said Alan Carlin’s report was rejected by NOAA because it was full of discredited, unoriginal research. She said that Carlin is an economist with no expertise in climate science and Gary Novak has also conducted no research into climate change and has merely selected choice segments of individual papers to try and back up his claims.

“This illustrates why the scientific community has not abandoned the rigours of peer reviewed publication practices in favour of looking to opinions posted by persons on the worldwide web,” Ebanks-Petrie said.

She added that her department agrees that the Cayman Islands will be able to do little to influence the rate at which global sea surface temperatures and sea levels will continue to rise and that the IPCC has concluded that small island states (SIDS) are especially vulnerable to the projected impacts of climate change.

“Like many SIDS Governments worldwide, the DOE, its National Climate Change Adaptation Working Group partner agencies and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center are therefore working to devise a strategy that will reduce the vulnerability of these islands to these impacts. Additionally the strategy will help the Cayman Islands address more successfully, and with less cost, the current impacts of extreme weather events to which they are exposed, such as tropical cyclones given their position in the ‘hurricane alley’ of the Caribbean,” she added.

The response comes at a time when the department is fighting harder than ever to protect the local environment in the face of drastic cuts to its budget. Estimates suggest that the DoE has had a reduction in its budget by as much as 39%, one of the biggest cuts to any government department.

As a result, the director has expressed real concern that enforcement officers will be limited in their ability to ensure Cayman’s marine environments are protected, that her staff will be able to continue with their extensive field research and that time is running out for Cayman’s fragile and dwindling natural environment.

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MLA hits out at governor

MLA hits out at governor

| 09/10/2009 | 56 Comments

(CNS): The Independent MLA for North Side has directly criticised the governor and the detrimental impact he has had on the islands during his 4-year tenure. Holding no punches, Ezzard Miller said Stuart Jack had presided over and championed the destruction of the police, reduced confidence in the judiciary, allowed unaudited government accounts for 5 years, depleted the treasury with investigations and had overseen the greatest increase of the civil service despite his claims to uphold good governance.

The outspoken political veteran said in the wake of the governor’s throne speech last week that he wanted to express his “sincerest gratitude and heartfelt joy for the first seven words” in the governor’s address. “And I quote, ‘this will be my last throne speech’ — truly…..words that call for celebration and jubilation in the streets of George Town,” Miller said.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly during the budget debate, Miller went on to say he could not imagine how much more damage the governor could have inflicted on Cayman had he been given another five years. Adding to a growing body of people willing to break the unspoken rule of not criticising the UK’s representative, Miller took aim at the governor’s oft repeated mantra of good governance and exactly what is meant by that phrase given his track record. He asked, too, if the governor’s comment was a veiled threat in light of his comparison of Cayman with Turks and Caicos. He also noted that the same veiled threat had been made in the regional and local media by the next governor (Duncan Taylor) due to arrive in January 2010.  

“Their definition of good governance can set us up to fail….And when we fail they can take over as our new colonial master.” Miller said, adding that the UK could invade Cayman, not with anavy or an army but with their law books in London.

He also lamented the governor’s indication that there would be another review of the civil service, something he said that had been going on for years allegedly to make it more efficient. He said that in 1991 the government brought in two consultants to do time and motions studies to identify reductions in the service. “To the best of my knowledge, now — some 19 years later — those two individuals are still here,” he said, adding he’d not yet seen their report.

The North Side representative also observed how the governor had said the Cabinet Office would be increasing its support of the governor and the premier, and set that against the fact that it had six employees in 2003 but 120 in 2008. With that kind of personnel increase, that they could still find room for increasing support for the governor was hard to believe, he said.

Miller also made an interesting observation in connection with the host of new bodies and commissions being established as part of the new Constitution which he said were flagged by the governor as checks and balances on the powers of elected members.

“I am not aware of any great devolution of authority to elected representatives by the constitution. I know there are a couple of areas where there is some quasi-agreement that the governor may delegate some of these responsibilities, but that which is delegated can be recalled,” he warned, adding that the UK had retained the ultimate authority. “Why is it that we continue to promote and believe that only elected representatives need checks and balances?”

Miller then asked, what about the governor himself? and made it clear that those supported by the people are of equal if not more importance. “Should not the people’s representatives, duly elected, have some veto power in this parliament over some of the H.E’s unilateral decisions?”

In his own speech, the governor did not make a single mention of the now enormous cost of the discredited Operation Tempura investigation, which recently faced its third defeat in the court room, or the detrimental impact it has had on the police and judicial services, as well as the individuals who fell victim to the ill-conceived and costly UK investigation.

Vote in the CNS online poll: Is Stuart Jack doing a good job as governor?

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