Archive for January 31st, 2010

Nominations for YCLA 2010 are unveiled

| 31/01/2010 | 43 Comments

(CNS): The countdown to who will receive this year’s title of the Young Caymanian Leadership Award (YCLA) has begun following the announcement by the honorary board of the five finalists for this year’s contest: Felix Manzanares, Melanie McLaughlin, Krishan Welcome, Tammy Ebanks Bishop and Collin Anglin. Melissa Wolfe of the YCLA explained that, following the nominations, the five will all take part in a video-interview, where the judges score the candidates before they tot up the marks and hand them to PricewaterhouseCoopers, who will keep the name of the recipient under wraps until 20 February when the awards take place.

"Meeting them all for the first time was a great occasion for the five to share in the excitement of becoming a finalist," Wolfe said. "Appreciation goes to all those who took the time to nominate and honour a young Caymanian, since all candidates come from these nominations".

Each honorary board member will view the judging video and scores based on various criteria. Each score card is individually sealed in envelopes and calculated by a third party, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Not until the night of Saturday, 20 February, does that name get revealed to a live audience during the broadcast on Cayman27. Wolfe said that the five finalists are already receiving messages and good wishes of congratulations for this new achievement.

"Our five finalists for 2010 are impressive and very diverse. We have various backgrounds, professions and passions. What they share is a combined and sincere dedication to Cayman’s youth and the future of the Cayman Islands. Every single finalist is a role model on many levels," added Wolfe.

Complete biographies and questionnaires to get to know the finalists will be published in the coming weeks.

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State to define Bible class

| 31/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(UPI) — Tennessee high schools will be getting guidelines from the state next fall on teaching the Bible as part of a secular curriculum. The state Board of Education has approved the guidelines implementing a 2008 state law calling for "non-sectarian, non-religious academic study of the Bible," The (Nashville) Tennessean reported. The guidelines include a requirement that literature from other religions be available for students. Bible courses cannot be compulsory. Brenda Ables, a social studies specialist with the state, said schools are not required to offer a Bible class.

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Text ban while driving may not curb car crashes

| 31/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(WSJ): Laws that forbid motorists from using hand-held phones or texting while driving don’t appear to result in a significant decrease in vehicle crashes, according to a new study by the US Highway Loss Data Institute. The study, comes amid stepped-up efforts by federal highway-safety regulators to ban texting while driving and curb other forms of driver distraction. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood earlier this week announced rules to forbid commercial truck and bus drivers from text messaging while driving. LaHood has said he would ban all texting while driving if he could.

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First Lady takes on obesity

| 31/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): US health officials have leveraged the star power of first lady Michelle Obama to roll out a new campaign against obesity, a preventable condition that drains billions of dollars from the economy.  Obama, who plans to take on childhood obesity as a cause, headlined the launch on Thursday of Surgeon General Regina Benjamin’s blueprint for what can be done at home, school and work to reverse the epidemic. In her first initiative since becoming "America’s doctor," Benjamin issued a report on the consequences of obesity to start a national dialogue on the subject. "The number of Americans, like me, who are struggling with their weight and health conditions related to their weight remains much too high," she said.

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Governor pledges impartiality

| 31/01/2010 | 24 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman governor Duncan Taylor, Cayman auditor general Dan Duguay(CNS): Following the public condemnation by the premier on Radio Cayman of Auditor General Dan Duguay, the Governor’s Office told CNS in a short emailed statement that the panel convened to interview the candidates for position of auditor general would be impartial. The office said that Duncan Taylor, the Cayman Islands new governor, would not be influenced by any comments made outside of the process. Applications for the post of auditor general closed on Friday 29 January and Duguay has confirmed he is one of those candidates.

During an interview with Radio Cayman’s Talk Today programme last week, McKeeva Bush made it clear he believed the auditor general should leave and that someone else should be given the position, but he also said that it was not up to him to decide.

The Governor’s Office confirmed that the appointment of an auditor general is made by the governor. “The Governor plans to convene an independent panel to assess the applications, and for the panel to conduct interviews and make a recommendation on the appointment to him,” the Governor’s Office told CNS. “Careful consideration will be given to the composition of the panel to ensure impartiality, openness and that any recommendation is merit-based and in the best interests of the Cayman Islands. The Governor will not be influenced by any comments made outside of that process.”

During the period between the departure of the previous governor, Stuart Jack, and the arrival of the new governor, Duguay was informed by the acting governor, Donovan Ebanks, that he would be asked to compete for his post if he wished to have his contract renewed for a second time. Duguay started as auditor general in 2004 on a fixed three-year contract, which was renewed in 2007.

Duguay said recently that because of the nature of his position, which is to investigate the government’s accounts and to ensure the honesty, integrity and value for money on any public funds spent, the role would be better served in future if it was a longer fixed term contract to ensure the AG could remain independent and not have to concern herself or himself that, if they were to do something a particular administration did not like, that they could lose their job. The comment then provoked the recent outburst from the premier, who said Duguay should go as he was not very good at his job.

During his time in office Duguay’s reports have revealed shortcomings in government finances during the previous UDP administration and the last PPM administration, as well as the Governor’s Office and the police.

At his first press conference the new governor was asked about the AG’s role and he said its independence was very important and that a good auditor general should be “irritating everyone”.

In a recent interview with News 27 the governor stressed his desire to improve the relationship between his office and the electedofficials as a result of the difficulties between the two arms of Cayman’s government that emerged following the various events, from Operation Tempura to the issues of broadening the country’s tax base.

Taylor said his priority is to develop a good working relationship with the current government and said that so far things were going very well. “There is no reason why that shouldn’t continue, although I am not fooling myself to think that there won’t be some differences of opinion from time to time or some difficult issues to tackle,” he added. He explained that, as chair of Cabinet, it was his responsibility to ensure sensible decisions were made and to support good governance.

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Orchids in the spotlight at the Botanic Park

| 31/01/2010 | 12 Comments

Cayman Islands news, Cayman Islands science & nature news, Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park, Orchids(CNS): The QE II Botanic Park in Frank Sound was offering thanks recently to a local donor who has given over $6,000 to its new orchid garden. Park officials said the new garden will be unveiled at the forthcoming annual Orchid Show on 13 and 14 February, and it provides another avenue for the protection and conservation of Cayman’s native orchids, as well as a focal point for education. The new garden will consist of a boardwalk over the natural woodland area that is home to Cayman’s extensive orchid collection, including nine of the 26 species known to be native to the Cayman Islands. (Photo – Cayman’s ghost orchid)

The Orchid Garden will also have a number of educational signs and display panels describing the plants, their natural history and how many have been lost to deforestation.

“This new feature in the park will allow us to help protect, conserve and educate visitors on the importance of orchids, as well as our cultural and natural heritage,” said John Lawrus, Deputy General Manager at the Botanic Park.

The donation of US$6,130 came from HSBC Bank (Cayman) Limited, a ‘gold’ sponsor of the project developed to ensure a safe haven for native and Caribbean orchids.

“HSBC Cayman is pleased to support this project, which represents a big step forward in preserving a part of Cayman’s natural heritage. A lot of care and attention has been put into this by the staff and supporters of the Botanic Park and we are proud to assist,” said Gonzalo Jalles, Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Cayman. John Lawrus and Sue Gibbs accepted the donation on behalf of Friends of the Botanic Park.  “We are grateful to HSBC Cayman for assisting in such an important development in the Botanic Park,” said Lawrus.

The Botanic Park is home to ten of the twenty-six orchid species recorded from the Cayman Islands, and three of these are found nowhere else on earth. One of these unique three, the most commonly seen by park visitors, is Cayman’s National Flower, the indigenous Banana Orchid.

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Senior cop addresses kids negativity

| 31/01/2010 | 5 Comments

(CNS): Some young people appear to have a very negative attitude about the police, despite the fact they have no personal experience of dealing with them, Chief Inspector Angelique Howell of the RCIPS has said. Speaking at a recent meeting with 26 teenagers from the Cayman Islands Youth Assembly (a programme of the Youth Services Unit) about how drugs, crime and violence affect the lives of young people on the islands, CI Howell said that, while the discussion was very lively, many of the young people held misconceptions about the role of the police in the community.

What I did find interesting was the fact that so many of them appeared not to have an understanding of the role the RCIPS plays in their community. Despite the fact that for many of them Thursday’s meeting was their first interaction with us, they seemed to have quite a negative perception of the police,” she said. “They admitted that these perceptions were based wholly on comments made by third parties and not based on any personal experiences. Thankfully, I was able to address any concerns and they are now much more aware of what we do and how we are working with communities right across the islands.

The meeting took place at the George Hicks Campus last Thursday, 20 January, and CI Howell, from West Bay police station, delivered a presentation and talked about some of the reasons young people become involved in taking drugs and alcohol.

“The young people who attended engaged in what can be described as very lively and interactive discussion. The young people really appreciated the information we gave them and you could see that they were really putting a lot of thought into the issues. I’m sure that they left the meeting much better informed than they had been before. They now know what to look out for and how the use ofalcohol and drugs can destroy lives, families and communities."

She explained how she had also underlined how the use of these substances can affect lives both at school and at home and discussed how to spot the signs of abuse in others.

 “I was very impressed with the Youth Assembly, which is made up of students from both public and private schools throughout the island,” CI Howell noted. “They come together to discuss issues affecting young people before submitting their informed perspectives by way of position papers to the government. I hope that I will be able to have further meetings with them soon because, after all, the only people who can speak frankly and honestly about the issues affecting young people in the Cayman Islands are the young people themselves.”

The police commissioner recently told the Cayman Business Outlook conference that the police role was not just about addressing the criminal element in society but also about engaging with the community to prevent young people from getting involved with gangs and drugs and the crime associated with that.

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The Financial Times sees Cayman in a new light

| 31/01/2010 | 9 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman Kayaks, Bioluminescence(CNS): More often than not when the UK’s leading business broad sheet is writing about the Cayman Islands, it is the jurisdiction’s controversial role in the global economy and its so-called tax haven status that is the focus. However, this weekend the Financial Times has published an entirely different view of Cayman with an article focusing on one the islands’ incredible natural features. In the weekend travel section Jane Owen has written an impressive article about the Bioluminescence, or light created by plants and creatures, that can be witnessed in Grand Cayman’s North Sound. Owens notes that, while the phenomenon occurs all over the world, it rarely happens “in such spectacular concentration".  (Photo: Cayman Kayaks)

Owen is an award winning writer who has been published in most of the UK’s quality press, and her ringing endorsement of her excursion on to the water with her guide, Tom Watling of Cayman Kayaks, is likely to be warmly welcomed in the local tourism industry.

In her article she noted some of the lesser known unique natural elements of the Cayman Islands — an area that many people here are saying needs to be of much greater focus in the local tourism product. As well as noting the quality diving here, Owen points to “wildlife riches” from the Blue Iguanas to the islands’ incredible Ghost Orchids. “Yet few people seek out these treasures,” writes Owen. “Most visitors stay at Seven Mile Beach, where white sands and dazzling blue sea meet American-style hotels, cocktail bars and nightclubs.”

She notes that going beyond that Cayman offers another kind of wildlife. “I had already discovered the subtle pleasures of mangrove snorkelling in the waters around Grand Cayman, where sea horses drift in a lush forest of underwater greenery. But it wasn’t until last November that I heard about bioluminescence. I flew into Grand Cayman from neighbouring Cuba and drove straight from the airport to meet Watling,”she adds.

“It is a moonless Caribbean night and, apart from a few twinkling stars, the only light comes from the sea immediately around our four kayaks. The boats have a halo of pale gold and leave shimmering trails in their wake. Every time our paddles lift out of the water they drip molten gold as if they’d been touched by a watery Midas.”

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Bank risk levy gains support

| 31/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(BBC): An insurance levy on financial institutions to help bail out banks in any future financial crisis has been backed at the World Economic Forum. Politicians and bankers have expressed support for the idea, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has described it as "practical". The levy would go into a fund which could be used to bail out the banks instead of taxpayer money. Governments across the world have spent billions of dollars saving banks. The insurance levy is seen by many as a more realistic option than a tax on financial transactions, often referred to as a "Tobin Tax", which has been discussed but has proved unpopular in some quarters.

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Sanction threat still aimed at offshore banks

| 31/01/2010 | 14 Comments

(CNN): Countries that provide offshore havens for risky financial practices could face U.S. sanctions similar to Iran says the US’ Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts chairman of the influential Financial Services Committee. Financial regulation has dominated discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos, a week after U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans for a far-ranging overhaul of the nation’s banking system. "We are then ready to say to smaller countries, including our host country right here, Switzerland, ‘if you hold yourself out as an escape hatch, we will prohibit banks from your countries doing business in the U.S.”

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