Archive for February, 2010

Chuckie postpones demo in favour of local show

| 26/02/2010 | 46 Comments

(CNS): Former cabinet minister Charles Clifford has postponed the march on the Glass House as a result of scheduled changes to the Sister Islands Agricultural show. Clifford says that as a result of the significant support for the protest he also wanted to allow those who would have wanted to go to Cayman Brac to still do so. The march against government will now take place on Saturday, 13 March, at 2:30pm, starting by the Cricket Pitch on Huldah Avenue and leading to the front lawn of the Glass House. Clifford said he encouraged government not to schedule anymore events for 13 March that would interfere with the public protest. (Photo by Dennie Warren JR)

Clifford said that since the Ministry of District Administration has postponed the Cayman Brac Agriculture Show to 6 March as a result of the recent passing of Capt. Charles Kirkconnell, a decision he applauded, he would now change the date of the protest.  

“The ministry is aware that it is usual for many people from Grand Cayman to go over to Cayman Brac for the weekend of the Agriculture Show,” he said. “It seems obvious, therefore, that this is a deliberate attempt by the UDP Government to hide from the cries of the people, to disrupt the protest and to excuse themselves from meeting the protestors at the Glass House.” Clifford said there was no reason why the government could not have scheduled it for the following Saturday, but they chose not to do so.

“We encourage the UDP Government not to schedule any other event or events for the 13th March 2010 that would conflict with the public protest march,” he added andnoted the premier’s announcement that he will not meet the protestors, or “bunch of rabble rousers” as he called them at the recent UDP public meeting.

“This public insult of the people by the premier notwithstanding, we remind the premier that the Cayman Islands does not operate a Dictatorial Government and the people will not allow the country to move away from the democratic form of Government that we enjoy today,” the former Tourism Minister stated. “This is a democracy and this public protest march is democracy at work. The elected UDP Government does not have the right to refuse to meet with the people whom they were elected to represent. If they refuse to meet with the people, then they do so at their own peril.”

Clifford said there had been a significant response to the march and he was expecting people to turn out in large numbers demonstrating fierce opposition to the “reckless and irrational” UDP Government policies.

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Mother of gang victim speaks out against crime

| 26/02/2010 | 7 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman crime(CNS): Cara Ebanks, the mother of one of Cayman’s murdered young men, has spoken out about the murder of her son, 20-year-old Marcus, who was shot and killed in Bonaventure Lane last July. In the same evening his 18-year-old brother, Rod, was injured and his 14-year-old cousin, Adryan Powell, was paralyzed. Although police say Marcus was an innocent bystander, they believe the shooting was linked to the gang violence shaking the community. In an interview with News 27, Ebanks speaks about her son and the crime wave that’s taking too many of Cayman’s young men, and now its children.

The grieving mother said she was still trying to come to terms with the death of her own son but hearing the news of four-year-old Jeremiah Barnes, it was almost too much to bear.

Police have yet to bring any charges regarding the shooting of Marcus, his brother or his cousin that night or in any of the gang violence cases from 2009 or 2010, with the exception of the shooting of Omar Samuesl in George Town a few weeks before Marcus was murdered. Three men have been charged and are currently scheduled to face trial in May of this year.

Police who are still seeking witnesses in the killing of Jeremiah have confirmed that the shooting is gang related but have stopped short of saying that they believe the same person is responsible for both murders.

Go to News 27 video

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Mac reveals $56M deficit

| 25/02/2010 | 154 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman finance(CNS): Update 1:50 pm — Answering a question by the opposition in the Legislative Assembly Thursday this morning, Premier McKeeva Bush admitted that his government was facing a deficit of $56.1 million for the end of the 2009/10 financial year. He said the forecast was based on a serious decline in revenue. Despite a reduction in government spending of around $9 million, as predicted at the time of the budget statement in October, the decline in government earnings is forecast to leave a significant hole in its finances, which Bush said had to be filled by the sale of government assets. "If we do not achieve the sale, he said, " this budget will fail."

The ever present question of the on-going state of governmentfinances was brought in to sharp focus in the LA on Wednesday morning, 25 February, when the premier revealed the latest figures on the government’s accounts. He said the Cayman Islands government revenue was now forecast to be some $72 million less than had been predicted when the UDP administration brought its first budget following the general election in October 2009. At that time projections had suggested the Treasury was expected to earn around $562 million from core government revenue. That forecast has now been reduced to $490 million. Balanced then with revenue and losses for the statutory authorities as well as a reduction in government spending of $9million, the 2009/10 financial year-end balance is set to be in deficit to the tune of $56 million, as opposed to the $5million surplus that government had forecast when it first brought the budget.

Bush said government was seeking to cut spending further before the year-end in an effort to bring down the figure as he was not content with the $9 million reduction. “Government will be examining the costs again with a view to reducing them further over the coming months,” Bush stated, adding that this deficit forecast was down to a fall off in revenues and not a loss of control in spending. He said the need to divest government assets was critical in order to ensure government would have enough cash in the bank at the end of the year to meet the Public Management and Finance Law requirement that says government must not only balance the budget but have enough money to cover 90 days worth of government operating costs.

He criticized the PPM for their opposition to the divestment of government assets and said it was easy and popular move. “Of course it’s popular for him to oppose it," the premier said of Alden McLaughlin, who had asked the question about the state of government finances. Bush said government did not want to utilize assets to put the cash in the bank, but if he didn’t do it there would be no money to pay bills and the UK would force taxation and civil service cuts. He said government policy was to attract investment back to the country not divest assets, but that the opposition were throwing up road blocks in the way.

“You can grin, you can laugh and you can march,” he yelled across the floor ofthe House to opposition members," but those are the facts.”

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Heart Smart week

| 25/02/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Friday 5 March is marked in red on calendars across Cayman as the day when everyone will be wearing red, all for a great cause. The Cayman Heart Fund is encouraging everyone to “dress down” in red on the day and at the sametime support the Cayman Heart Fund by donating a sum and/or purchasing a pin at a cost of just CI$5.On the same day, Friday 5 March, the Cayman Heart Fund has organised a very special luncheon geared up to helping ladies of a certain age understand how they can protect their hearts from the effects of the menopause.

All proceeds from the dress down day will go towards raising awareness of, and trying to prevent, cardiovascular disease in the Cayman Islands. CHF Medical Director, Dr Sook Yin says that the one-day event is a great way for the community to feel part of such a worthwhile organisation, as well as the perfect opportunity for raising awareness of the disease.

She gives some background as to the significance of wearing red, particularly a red dress for women: “The red dress is part of a global Heart Truth Campaign which strives to highlight that it doesn’t matter what you wear : cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in women.”

Dr Yin continues: “We encourage all employers to either donate or encourage their employees to donate to the Cayman Heart Fund and have fun dressing in red on the 5th March. Companies can also sponsor schools to “dress down” in red for the day and thereby raise awareness of cardiovascular disease in our young people as well,” she says.

For more information on how your company can become involved contact mail@caymanheartfund.com or 516-7323.

On the same day, Friday 5 March, the Cayman Heart Fund has organised a very special luncheon geared up to helping ladies of a certain age understand how they can protect their hearts from the effects of the menopause. Guest speaker for the event, to be held at the Westin Casuarina from midday to 2.30pm, is Dr Alvin Pettle of the Ruth Pettle Wellness Center and author of “Sexy Hormones”. Dr Pettle will explain the effects of the menopause do not only impact on a woman’s emotions but on her health as well, in particular her heart.

Dr Yin says, “The risk of heart disease increases with a woman’s age, in particular once she has reached the menopause. We are extremely fortunate to have an expert of Dr Pettle’s calibre to come and speak to us. No woman (or their partner, for that matter!) in Cayman can afford to miss this highly informative presentation.”

This luncheon is the first of a series for the Cayman Heart Fund called ‘Red Dress Learn and Live Luncheons’ which are designed to educate women here in Cayman of their cardiovascular risks factors and how women differ from men in their presentation of heart disease. The luncheons will also highlight how women’s hormones not only play havoc in their lives but also put them at higher risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.

Dr Yin says that the Cayman Heart Fund is extremely grateful to the Tonge family for their kind sponsorship of this event.

Tickets are just CI$40. For more information call 925.4804 or email: alexstewart@candw.ky

Photo above: Dr Sook Yin and Charmaine Moss of the Cayman Heart Fund with Tracy Cuff from Conyers Dill and Pearman, the first company in Cayman to sign up as participants of the Red Dress-down Day.

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Government’s first move in sale of sewerage system

| 25/02/2010 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Before putting up the conditions of sale, government is putting out feelers to see if anyone is interested in purchasing, operating and expanding the Cayman Islands wastewater infrastructure or sewerage system. Government is looking to sell the country’s wastewater system in order to expand and developing what is already on overloaded infrastructure, as well as to raise (the government hopes) more than $20 million to balance the 2009/10 budget. The sale of the system was announced in the budget document and has so far raised less controversy than government’s intention to sell the new government office building.

In the first instance, before an official ‘Request for Proposal’ (RFP) document is issued, government says it wants to gauge the interest there may be from experienced operators to take on the existing infrastructure and make future investment in the system. Government hopes to find someone willing to buy the wastewater collection system the 2.5 mgd sbr wastewater treatment plant as it is and then design and develop a new wastewater collection system, designed to meet current and future needs, which will be implemented in a sequence as directed by the government of the Cayman Islands.

“Accelerated coverage ofdensely populated areas is a priority,” the government stated in its expression of interest advertisement. It noted that any new systems will need to cope in the aftermath of a hurricane and the biological wastewater treatment plant will need to meet current and anticipated future needs and be implemented in tandem with the wastewater collection system

“The treatment plant shall be designed to provide tertiary treatment to allow beneficial re-use of the treated effluent (e.g., for agricultural and landscape irrigation) without detriment to the public health and the environment,” government officials stated. “The design should facilitate the development of other essential infrastructure and services and all work shall be carried out in accordance with well-established design and construction practices, and to follow WEF, ASCE, AWWA and other applicable Manual of Practices. All services are to be provided on the island of Grand Cayman, and to be part of a multi-year Licence issued by the Government of the Cayman Islands.

Interested companies are being told they must provide documents of the successful provision of wastewater services similar in size and scope to the proposed project in Grand Cayman for a period no less than seven (7) years. Identify and describe the previous projects and they must have successfully designed technological solutions and built new facilities in the areas of wastewater collection and treatment, with particular emphasis on similar conditions (i.e., low elevation, high (saline) groundwater table, karstic limestone geology).

The government is asking for proof of relevant experience in terms of expeditiously completing projects of similar size and nature (i.e., design, construction and operation) and Three (3) references, including addresses and the phone numbers of clients for whom the firm has completed similar projects. Suggestions on, and rationale for, possible phasing of system extensions should be delivered in a sealed envelope with expressions of interest and all relevant company information no later than 12:00 noon on Friday 12th March 2010 to:  Chairman, Central Tenders Committee, c/o Treasury Department, Government Administration Building, 71A Elgin Ave, GeorgeTown, Grand Cayman KY1-9000, Cayman Islands.

For more details log on to www.gov.ky

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Burst water main hits GT commuter traffic

| 25/02/2010 | 0 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman Water Authority(CNS): The Water Authority says it currently has a broken water main in the vicinity of Shedden Road d and Dr Roy’s Drive in George Town and is warning commuters to avoid the area if possible or take extra care. “The Water-Operations crew is diligently working to identify the exact location of the leak and as soon as the leak is identified and damage accessed, an update will be issued with an estimated repair timeline,” a spokesperson for the authority stated.  “The motoring public are also asked to avoid this area where possible. If the area cannot be avoided, drivers should proceed with caution and obey all road signs.”



Check back later for updates from Water Authority officials

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Online applications only for US visa

| 25/02/2010 | 24 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, US visa application(CNS): Anyone in the Cayman Islands needing a US visa will first need access to the internet as of Wednesday, 24 March 2010, when the US Embassy in Kingston switches to online only visa applications, doing away with the paper-based forms currently used. However, applicants will still be required to travel to Jamaica for an interview at the Embassy, taking with them a visa application receipt from National Commercial Bank Jamaica and the necessary documents.

On 24 March, use of the new form becomes mandatory and the US Embassy said in a press release that it will no longer accept printed DS-156 nonimmigrant visa applications. Form DS-160, the new electronic form, will be available on the embassy’s website (www.kingston.usembassy.gov) beginning Thursday, 4 March, for optional use by applicants. The Embassy is encouraging applicants to begin using the new DS-160 form as soon as it becomes available.

The new DS-160 form, which will replace the current paper-based DS-156 non-immigrant visa application, must be completed and sent online and the information on the application will be electronically transmitted to the U.S. Embassy. The new system is expected to improve efficiency, accuracy, and security for all visa applicants.

Beginning March 24, 2010, non-immigrant visa applicants need only present at their interviews a printed DS-160 confirmation sheet issued at the time of the electronic filing, their passport, and a visa application fee-paid receipt from any National Commercial Bank Jamaica (NCB) branch. The transition to the DS-160 online form will not change any other portion of the current nonimmigrant visa application process. Specifically, the processes for making an appointment and paying the visa application fee will not change and all applicants will still be interviewed by a consular officer to determine their qualifications.

Prospective nonimmigrant visa applicants should visit the embassy’s website for instructions on the complete visa application process.
 

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Travers revels in his own cool run

| 25/02/2010 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Having completed two gruelling Olympic downhill giant slalom courses and moved from his start ranking of 101 to 69th, Travers can hold his head high as Cayman’s first ever Winter Olympian. At only 22, Travers has plenty more to give and believes he can do even more. This was, however, a great experience for the young alpine skier, who says it was fantastic to have the support of Cayman fans in Vancouver as well as back home. Travers has also generated a phenomenal amount of media attention with inevitable comparisons to the Jamaican bob sleigh team, which has also helped to put Cayman on the map for a whole new audience.

“It was a great honour to represent my country,” Travers said. “We have a long line of great summer athletes and it’s wonderful that we can translate that to the slopes here. My second run was a little slower but I was a little tired and had to deal with a little fog. I’m inexperienced but will hopefully improve in the future. I’m pleased that I moved up 32 spots, coming from the back of the pack.”

Many did not finish, including Bode Miller, who has won a clutch of medals in a glittering Olympic career, but missed a gate and pulled up on the first run. Travers will forever have the satisfaction of ‘beating’ the celebrated American.

“There was a huge amount of adrenaline at the start and the best part was coming to the finish line. I don’t really think it counts as beating Bode Miller and I’m sure he’ll ask for a rematch!” he added.

Travers negotiated the gates superbly at Whistler Creekside, finishing his first run in 1 minute 29.39 seconds to move from 101st up to 75th. The 22-year-old geo-biology student at Brown University, Rhode Island, moved up the standings again on his second run to finish 69th with an overall time of 3.02.89, which was 25 seconds behind the gold medallist Carlo Janka of Switzerland, but no less an achievement. The Norwegians Kjetil Jansrud and Askel Lund Svindal took silver and third respectively.

The top skiers are full-timers, born into the sport with all the resources imaginable. Travers only started skiing seriously at 14 but has to juggle it with studies and snatching practice time for a few weeks a year when not in Cayman. Representing Cayman has made Travers a media curiosity.

“Everyone has been incredibly friendly here. It’s not like the Cool Runnings film when everybody’s out to get each other. It’s been a great experience so far,” Travers said adding that his Olympic experience has been a marvellous one. “It’s great how friendly everyone has been and my best moment was yesterday when I was free skiing. It was my first time ever on a nice, hard, world class hill and I couldn’t stop smiling afterwards.”

Dow could one day set another Olympic mark because rugby sevens will be introduced into the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil and having played for Cayman’s Under-19 and U20 sides in sevens and 15s, he could be collecting more Olympic kudos. He is a wing and fullback in 15s and prop in sevens. (When an English reporter heard this he asked Travers if he has any British ancestry so that he could be poached for the struggling England side!) But Dow won’t renounce his Cayman passport. “If we win the Caribbean Championships, it’s a matter of progressing in the tournaments to qualify for that.”

Anthony Travers, Chairman of the Cayman stock exchange but this week simply proud dad, said the family was very happy for Dow. “It was a very solid result. He started 101st and moved all the way up to 69th and I think that’s a tremendous performance. There’s no question he could have gone a little faster but he did the right thing. He was very solid through the turns and showed nice form and he finished, which was the crucial thing. Bode Miller didn’t have the best of days!” laughed Travers senior. “The most important thing here is that Dow substantially improved his International Ski Federation points. That was a personal best by a very long way. You can’t ask for more than to go to the Olympics and provide a personal best.”

 

Source Ron Shillingworth

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UDP declines PPM invitations

| 25/02/2010 | 74 Comments

(CNS): The premier and leader of the United Democratic Party has said that he will not be attending Charles Clifford’s demonstration next month or entertaining the motions submitted to the Legislative Assembly by other members of the PPM. Having taken to the steps of the courthouse this week to address the criticisms of some of his administration’s policies, McKeeva Bush accused the opposition of throwing up road blocks and causing distractions that would undermine the Cayman Islands’ reputation around the world.

“The PPM are instigating a march against the government, but with the world watching this is no time to show unrest, which will only further damage our reputation,” the premier told those at the UDP public meeting on Tuesday evening. “I will not go out there to meet that bunch of rabble rousers.”

The premier said Clifford could go ahead and get his signatures for the referendum but asked what would happen then as he did not think the people would switch “us for them”.

Clifford has been granted permission by the RCIPS to organise a protest rally on Saturday, 6 March, and says his intention was to publicly show the current government administration that the people of the Cayman Islands oppose its plans to change immigration policy. Clifford says he believes the community has reason to be concerned regarding the facilitation of automatic key employee status for certain posts in the financial services sector, as well as the sale of the new glass house and other government assets.

A former Cabinet member of the last PPM administration and tourism minister, Clifford lost his Bodden Town seat at the last election but has re-entered the political fray recently with his announcement to demonstrate against government policy. If the march on the Glass House does not illicit a response from government to reverse some of the policy decisions, Clifford has said he will seek enough signatures to initiate a people led referendum to oust the government from office.

“We will have copies of the voters list with us and if the government fails to show up or refuses to reverse these very dangerous and irresponsible policies, then right there in front of the Glass House we will begin the process of obtaining the required number of signatures for the country’s first ever People Initiated Referendum in accordance with … the Constitution,” Clifford said at a PPM public meeting in South Sound on Monday evening. “The referendum will call for early general elections to remove this reckless UDP government from power.”

However, the premier has stated categorically that he has no intentions to attend the rally or entertain other motions from the PPM opposition members of the Legislative Assembly. Aside from refusing Clifford’s invitation, Bush also publicly rejected two of the motions submitted by the opposition to the LA at the public meeting on Tuesday before they had reached the chamber for debate.

Criticising Alden McLaughlin’s motion calling for a national crime strategy, Bush asked where the strategy was when they were in office for four years as crime was rising. He said that the National Security Council was meeting next week and there was no need of another committee or national crime co-ordinator. Bush also rejected the leader of the opposition’s proposal’s to reconsider selling government assets and negotiating to spread the country’s deficit over three years with the UK .

“We will not be passing any of their motions,” Bush told the public who had turned out to the courthouse on Tuesday. He said the UDP would tackle the problem of crime despite not having direct responsibility for the police. He pointed to his request to the governor to implement polices which included armed response units in every district, bringing in a specialist task force, technology such as CCTV and X-ray equipment for customs, and the introduction of training for the RCIPS in law and policing methods related to gang crime.

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‘Secrecy law’ days numbered

| 24/02/2010 | 21 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman finance, legal system(CNS): The law which is often referred to as Cayman’s "secrecy law" will soon be replaced by a Data Protection Law, the attorney general has said. Describing the Confidential Relationships (Preservation) Law (CRPL) as “the bane of our existence since the 1970s”, Samuel Bulgin told the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday morning that a report had been submitted to Cabinet on 8 February examining the issues on the most appropriate type of Data Protection Act to suit the jurisdiction. Bulgin said the document would be discussed by Cabinet in two weeks paving the way for draft legislation for a bill that will replace the controversial CRPL.

The attorney general revealed the developments regarding the end of the CRPL during his tabling of an amendment to the Criminal Justice Law regarding the need to send voluntary witnesses overseas under the terms of mutual assistance treaty requests without breaching the terms of the CRPL as it currently stands.

Bulgin explained that at present if a witness from a financial organisation in Cayman was to voluntarily attend a legal proceeding overseas to present documents in evidence, as a result of a treaty request for an overseas investigation, the individual could fall foul of the CPRL hence the need to amend the Criminal Justice Law to override the CRPL.

Following a question from opposition member Alden McLaughlin about the progress in repealing the CRPL, Bulgin explained that some time ago Cabinet had established a task force to examine whether the law had outlived its usefulness. He said that at first consideration had been given to repealing the criminal orpenal elementof the CRPL, which currently provides for the criminal prosecution of an individual who breaches the law, while simultaneously exploring a data protection law to replace it.

The attorney general told the Legislative Assembly that, with the involvement of David Archbold at the ICTA, a comprehensive report had now been completed about the suitable type of legislation and a decision had been made that, rather than reform the CRPL, the Data Protection law would be expedited instead.

The CPRL, or “secrecy law” as it has often been referred to, criminalizes the unauthorized disclosure of confidential corporate information, which has caused considerable controversy over the years and given rise to the global perceptions of banking secrecy in the Cayman Islands.

Although the CRPL also offers gateways for the release of information, it does so through the courts. During the last Caribbean Financial Action Task Force review of the Cayman Islands, the jurisdiction fell short of being fully compliant in a only a few areas one of which was the transfer of witnesses. Following the passage of the bill to amend the Criminal Justice Law so that witnesses will now not breach the CRPL should they voluntarily go to give evidence in person, the Attorney General said that Cayman could look forward to moving up the FATF ranking.

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