Archive for January 8th, 2010

Police seek hit & run driver

| 08/01/2010 | 78 Comments

(CNS): The RCIPS said this morning that police officers are looking for the driver a red Mitsubishi Pajero after two women were hit and injured near Centennial Towers, West Bay last night (Thursday 7 January) at around seven o’clock. A 20-year-old woman received injuries to her face, ankles and arm and was treated at George Town Hospital and released but a 54-year-old woman sustained serious head injuries after the car ran down the women and is presently in intensive care.

Police are appealing for any witnesses who may have been in the area at the time and said the driver of the red Mitsubishi Pajero was a white male of slim build with his hair in a ponytail, wearing a red t-shirt and khaki pants.

Inspector Adrian Barnett of Traffic Management is appealing for anyone who may have have witnessed the incident or saw a jeep-like vehicle flee from the area to please come forward. Inspector Barnett can be contacted on 9466254.

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No let up from Cayman ministers over gay cruise

| 08/01/2010 | 251 Comments

(CNS): Church representatives are showing no signs of softening in their attitude towards gay tourism and remain opposed to the scheduled visit of Atlantis Gay Cruise Lines later this month carrying more than 3000 passengers.  Pastor Bob Thompson, the chair of the Cayman Ministers Association, has said that the organisation had raised its objections to the ship calling to Cayman with the premier. On each occasion that a ship carrying passengers from the gay community has docked in Cayman the association has objected, and the minister said the position had not changed.

“The CMA does not support the permission for a gay cruise to come to our shores. Our motto is he hath founded it upon the seas’ and believe that should still direct our decisions,” he said when he spoke to News 27 yesterday about the ship due to come to Cayman on 21 January.

In the past, the ministers have staged demonstrations against the gay cruise lines including Cayman on their itinerary, making controversial headlines around the world. Cayman has found itself facing criticisms from gay and human rights organisations about the position the local church takes towards gay visitors.

Homosexuality between two consenting adults has been legal in Cayman since 2000. However, CMA and others still object to any kind of overt displays of affection between same sex couples. In May 2008 a 23 year old Massachusetts man was arrested at Royal Palms for kissing his partner on the dance floor. Aaron Chandler, 23, from Amherst, Massachusetts, had two altercations with a local who kept asking them to stop what they were doing before the police were called. As an activist in the gay community, the story spread quickly around the world and the Director of Tourism at the time, Pilar Bush, wrote to Chandler apologizing for what happened to him, an action which then drew considerable criticism locally.

During the country’s negotiations with the UK over the new constitution and the inclusion of a bill of rights the issue of gay rights dominated the discussions and the fundamental opposition to giving gay people any further rights and introducing any possible step towards same sex legal unions resulted in a watered down bill for all in order to get the whole constitution passed.

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Up to date audit years away

| 08/01/2010 | 19 Comments

Cayman Islands news, Grand Cayman local news, Auditor General Dan Duguay(CNS): Despite the failure of mostgovernment entities to get their accounts in on time, Auditor General Dan Duguay said some government departments were making serious efforts to catch up and bring their books up to date but that the goal of a full set of accurate contemporary accounts is still years away. The government’s auditor said that close to a dozen departments and agencies are submitting accounts on time, but with so many lagging behind, some as much as four years, it is impossible for his officeto complete any more full sets of audits on the overall government spending over the last few years.

Although government itself is able to keep track of revenue and expenditure through various internal systems, the delay in producing full sets of annual reports means that the public at large cannot scrutinize how their elected officials are choosing to manage the country’s cash.

Duguay told CNS that, while he intended to conduct another review of how far forward government finance departments had come or even how far behind they still were, such a review would still not address the fundamental issue of government accountability. In order for the people to see how government policy is impacting earnings and spending government needs to be submitting transparent and up to date accounts into the public domain.

“People do need to be kept up to date on how government is managing its finances,” Duguay said, noting that until such a time as the majority of entities submit their accounts it is impossible for him to complete an accurate audit of the finances and tell the people whether  or not they are getting value for money as a whole from government.

Duguay did say, however, that there were some promising improvements among a number of the various departments and agencies. Close to a dozen organisations are now completely up to date and some others that were still behind had made marked improvements.

He said one of the most delinquent agencies in the past was the Heath Service Authority, but that management there had made an impressive effort to address the major problems of missing financial information that the authority faced, even if there was still work to do. Duguay explained that other organisations had moved from being delinquent to being fully compliant, but sadly there were still some departments and companies that continued to lag three or four years behind. “What we really need however, to address this problem, is consistency from all government departments,” Duguay stated.

During the election campaign the UDP candidates and the now chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Ezzard Miller, all said that this issue would be a priority and had to be addressed. While some six auditors have been employed to help CFOs catch up, it was recently revealed that it could still take as much as three years to get the books straight.

The requirement to produce quarterly reports under the Public Management and Finance Law has also been suspended to help speed up the process. However, Miller has said on a number of occasions that the government needs to return to the old system of cash accounting as the accrual system has simply failed. Whether it is meant to be an improved system is irrelevant, Miller has said, if CFOs are not able to manage the accounts that way.

With government providing no quarterly figures and an up to date full sets of government accounts still years away, voters are likely to face yet another election in 2013 without being fully versed on the fundamental political question on how the policies of their successive elected governments have affected the country’s revenuesand expenditures.

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Coral reefs are evolution hotspot

| 08/01/2010 | 11 Comments

(BBC): Coral reefs give rise to many more new species than other tropical marine habitats, according to a new study. Scientists used fossil records stretching back 540 million years to work out the evolution rate at reefs. They report in the journal Science that new species originate 50% faster in coral reefs than in other habitats. The team says its findings show that the loss of these evolution hotspots could mean "losing an opportunity to create new species" in the future. Coral reefs harbour a huge number of marine species – they are often likened to rainforests in terms of their biodiversity.

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Cayman’s supermodel to join apprentice TV line up

| 08/01/2010 | 24 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Celebrity Apprentice, Selita Ebanks(CNS): Caymanians will have one more reason to watch the next season of Celebrity Apprentice on NBC (WestStar channel 4) when it premiers on 14 March with Selita Ebanks joining the star studded cast. Host and executive producer, Donald Trump, is claiming that the third season will blow rival show Dancing with the Stars away. The celeb line-up was announced by NBC this week and features sport stars, a chef and a former governor who is tipped to make it to the top. "This season of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ is going to be fantastic,” said Trump.

“The list of celebrities we have this season is outstanding and the show will really resonate with our core viewers and fans. I expect this season of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ to be the best one yet," he said.

Selita joins baseball legend Darryl Strawberry, singer Cyndi Lauper, rocker Bret Michaels, reality star Sharon Osbourne, Olympians Michael Johnson and Summer Sanders, actress Holly Robinson Peete, wrestlers Goldberg and Maria Kanellis, comedians Carol Leifer and Sinbad, chef Curtis Stone and Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois who was kicked out of office last year and is awaiting trial.

The stars will compete in teams, men versus women, in business-centric tasks around Manhattan and all profits from the projects will be donated to charities of the celebrities’ choice.

Blagojevich said he plans to use his "skill and know-how to get things accomplished" on the series, and Trump praised Blagojevich’s "tremendous courage and guts" and predicted he may be one of the show’s breakout stars.

So far Trump’s celebrity seasons of the show have raised over $3.5 million, which has been donated to charities worldwide, in addition to money raised from the awareness and exposure on the show. In order to secure the big cash for their charities, however, each of the celebs will be subjected to long hours, gruelling mental challenges, personality clashes and intense scrutiny — all without the help of their regular support system of agents, managers and personal assistants.

Certain tasks encourage the contestants to reach out to their network of celebrity contacts for assistance or donations — making for entertaining surprise visits by some of the world’s biggest stars along the way.

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