Archive for June, 2010

Fire crews battle with Brac dump blaze

| 29/06/2010 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Crews from both the Fire Services and the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) have been battling with a fire at the Cayman Brac landfill since Sunday afternoon (27 June). The fire, which is burning in the scrap metal area of the landfill, has now been alight for over twenty-four hours. DEH and fire services officials confirmed that the fire started around 4pm on Sunday among the derelict vehicles. Emergency services responded and the blaze was initially contained around two hours later. Unfortunately, it rekindled a short time later and crews have been working to extinguish it since.

The Minister of District Administration and Works Juliana O’Connor-Connolly along with Chief Officer Kearney Gomez as well as DEH Director Roydell Carter visited the on Monday to view the containment efforts. Carter said the situation is being monitored and updates will be provided.  
 

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New Jersey visitor dies after swim

| 28/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 66-year-old man from New Jersey in the United States died Friday. Police say that about 2.00 pm on 25 June, he lost consciousness while swimming near to the Paradise Bar and Grill, North Church Street, George Town. The man was helped to shore and was given CPR by paramedics. He was subsequently conveyed to the Cayman Islands Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. Police enquiries are ongoing.
 

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Alex likely to become first Atlantic 2010 hurricane

| 28/06/2010 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Forecasters are predicting that Alex will become the first hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic season. After losing strength as it hit land Alex reorganised and gained strength this morning as it headed into the warm Gulf of Mexico waters. It is still unclear where Alex will make landfall but forecasters do not believe it will affect the oil spill clean-up. The most likely location for landfall is predicted to be along the northern Mexico or South Texas coast on Thursday, but some uncertainty still exists, in terms of intensity as where it will land.

The National Hurricane Centre has warned that there is a divergence among computer models about Alex’s  track and while the are fairly sure the major effects of the storm will be away from the part of the gulf affected by the spill it could cause higher waves and swell in the oil spill area. This could interfere with some containment devices, such as booms, but not completely shut down containment operations.

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Miller warns of inflation

| 28/06/2010 | 46 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Headline News(CNS): With the Cayman Islands economy likely to remain in recession this year, the representative for North Side told the Legislative Assembly on Friday that the government’s proposed duty increase would cause inflation as the price of everything would go up. During the debate on the law to increase gas and diesel by 25 cents a gallon Ezzard Miller said the reason why government was not taking on board his idea of increasing vehicle licence fees instead was because it already had plans to increase those fees under another new law in September. He also pointed out that, despite claims to the contrary, government had not cut its overall expenditure for 2011.

Miller said that while many government department appropriations had been cut by comparison to last year, because government was increasing spending in other areas, “like protocol”, its total expenditure had not been reduced. Government was relying on an increase in revenue of $20 million to keep the deficit down to $32 million. The North Side independent representative said the fuel increase represented half of that new revenue.
“It is going to be inflationary and affect the cost of everything and a tax that will affect everyone on a daily basis,” he said. Claims by the premier of it equating to only a 5% increase on fuel bills were incorrect, Miller said, and would likely impact CUC bills by as much as 9% but it would also lead to the increase in prices of everything at a time when civil servants and others were facing salary cuts. Given the fact that there was less money to spend, this would lead to a further contraction of the local economy.
“This tax is going to be very hard on the people of this country,” Miller warned, adding that all businesses say that the next highest cost after personnel is electricity. “No one can convince me that this will be absorbed.”
He said the CUC bills for a supermarket could increase by more than $5,000 a month and he did not think they had the profit margins to absorb all of that and it would be unreasonable to think they could.
Denying the implications made by the premier in his presentation that the opposition benches may have favoured income or property tax, Miller pointed out he never had, and never would, support direct taxation and believed in consumption tax, but not this one because of its broad inflationary effect.
He said his suggestion of increases to drivers and vehicle licence fees were one off payments that everyone would make, even if they only drive on the road for one week a year, giving government the certainty of collection. The danger for government’s budget with this increase was that it was not certain. It could see people cut back quite significantly, meaning government could not be sure of the revenue it would generate.
However, Miller noted that he had learned government had plans to increase licence fees and fines under a new traffic law that would be coming before the Legislative Assembly in September, which could explain why it was reluctant to consider Miller’s proposal.
He said at a recent public meeting with his constituents they had indicated their preference to pay the one off license fee hike than pay every time they go to the supermarket, the pumps or any store.. “I am no economist, this is just North Side common sense,” the independent member said. “The government is doing the wrong thing at the wrong time for the wrong reason.”
Miller told the members of the House that the people of North Side were not getting very much from the budget and the good people of Cayman Brac were exempt from the fuel tax and getting quite a lot from it. He said there was no reduction in government’s overall expenditure and his constituents, who lived the furthest from George Town, were being punished and he refused to support the increase.

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Government fails business

| 27/06/2010 | 28 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News, Cayman Chamber of Commerce(CNS): A Chamber of Commerce survey has revealed that almost 58% of local businesses believe the government has not become any more responsive to the needs of the business community in the past 6 months. Participants in the survey also said the main constraint to business growth was labour, including recruitment, work permit fees and wages. Despite the major concerns over crime, respondents cited the country’s business climate, fiscal management of the economy and education above public safety as areas of most concern. Although firms said they remain optimistic about the future, government’s planning for growth and the quality of the civil service were rated poorly.

Almost everyone who took part in the survey, which was distributed in March, said the local economy had got worse over the last 12 months and did not expect it to improve over the next twelve. 94% of respondents said they believe Cayman is still in the midst of an economic recession.
The most common reaction to the recession for business was to decrease prices and reduce staff. 72.9% of businesses reported no increase in profits in 2009 and most had lost revenue. More than half those surveyed said they did not feel that revenue would increase in 2010 and 72% of businesses plan to reduce (or continue to reduce) costs in 2010.
Of the businesses that said they compete or operate in other countries, 89% find that the Cayman Islands’ duties and fees are higher than competitor jurisdictions and almost half said the Cayman Islands are ‘less attractive than competitors’ when it comes to the regulatory environment.
When it came to government assisting business, 57.9% believe it has not become more responsive to the needs of the business community in the past 6 months.
Looking to the future, local businesses listed medical tourism as the best hope for diversifying the economy, followed by overnight cruise ship berthing, then eco-tourism. Only a handful of people surveyed said they felt the country’s future prospects were excellent, while around two thirds said the economic prospects were poor to fair and just under 80 of the people who took part said the prospects were good.
Two hundred and eight Chamber members responded to the survey, 65% of which were CEOs from a cross section of industry sectors and small businesses.
“The council wanted to connect with the Chamber membership ‘on the ground’ and find out how they were coping with the challenges resulting from the economic flat line,” said Stuart Bostock, Chamber president. “We knew the results from this survey would help determine the level of confidence that local businesses have in Cayman’s economy and the importance they placed on certain constraints and opportunities as we reach for a more stable economic future.”
He explained that the results would be used to inform the organisation’s plans for a national economic forum, ‘The Future of Cayman’.
“We have begun discussions with Cayman’s private associations and government departments so that all community sectors are represented. Working as a holistic group we are confident that we will be able to identify three or four key economic pillars and develop an effective strategic plan for their implementation,” Bostock added.
Chamber CEO Wil Pineau pointed out that the fees were a problem for business but he believed the results showed some optimism. “The survey results show that business operating fees are a main constraint for most businesses and almost 100% of businesses feel we are still in an economic recession. The good news is there is still a level of optimism from local business owners as 87.9% rated their level of confidence in the future of the Cayman Islands as fair to excellent,” said Chamber CEO Wil Pineau.
Results will be posted on the Chamber’s website and released in the upcoming issue of the CHAMBER quarterly review magazine.

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Caymanian conservation: an oxymoron?

| 27/06/2010 | 24 Comments

One hates to be negativeand it would be wonderful if some sort of comprehensive conservation legislation could be passed in our lifetimes. However, it is difficult to get excited about Cayman’s pending Conservation Law given the depressing realities of this country when it comes to the natural environment.

First of all, why wasn’t this done 30 years ago? Did it really take this long for our elected leaders to consider and be won over by the idea that conservation might be a good thing? What a tragic string of morons and greed-filled pirates we have had fill the Legislative Assembly all these lost years. Imagine how beautiful Grand Cayman would be today if these people had any vision and sense of responsibility for our country’s natural resources.

I recall the words of Bodden Town MLA Haig Bodden back in the early 1990s when someone dared suggest the need for laws to protect Cayman’s birds: "I say it’s nonsense. In my book, people come before birds!" Sadly, he was no lone wolf in his view that conservation is annoying nonsense to be squashed whenever it comes up.
Yeah, let’s kill all the birds, the fish, the trees. “We” come first. I’m sure that will work out really well for the Cayman Islands. Geez…

In fairness, there have been victories. Thankfully Caymanian Gina Petrie-Ebanks and Dace Grounds (a largely forgotten expat hero who did great things for Cayman) were able to push through the Marine Conservation Law some 25 years ago. If they and few others had not achieved that milestone, the coral reefs and all other marine life around our islands would be even more degraded than is currently the case. Oh, and no surprise, some of our prominent political and business leaders who are still on center stage today strongly opposed the Marine Conservation Law.

Does anyone remember when the National Trust was an outspoken, meaningful institution that fought loud and hard against the runaway destruction of Cayman? What happened to it? Why don’t we hear strong protests and condemnation from the Trust when politicians and developers ignore the few laws we have to ravage our environment? I’ll tell you why.

Short-sighted MLAs such as McKeeva Bush and Ezzard Miller bullied the National Trust, effectively shutting it down and muting it. They made sure that it wouldn’t make too much noise on behalf of a positive future for Cayman. And the clueless public reelects these sorts of people over and over.

It is clear that those who are in power today care nothing about the environment because they are either blinded by short-term greed or they are simply stupid. By consistently choosing immediate payoffs at the expense of irreplaceable natural wealth, they have shown us all their shallow minds and empty souls. They care nothing about what will not be left for future generations. They are so lost they don’t even seem to understand that they likely are setting themselves up for eventual economic failure—something they do care about.

Grand Cayman has already fallen so far from being the visually appealing place it once was. West Bay Road looks like any run-down Florida town. Seven Mile Beach is virtually inaccessible and hidden from view thanks to wall-to-wall condos that should never have been built. George Town is a mess with half-built offices and homes sitting stagnant for years, shanty towns, and a landfill that stands as a towering monument to the incompetence of the people who run our country.

Conservation Law? Yeah, whatever. Guess it can’t hurt. Then again, with our luck, it will probably end up giving the UDP and PPM anti-nature politicians a smokescreen to continue their pillaging and plundering under the guise of "careful consideration for the environment". Conservation Bill or not, don’t be naive enough to believe that a leader like McKeeva Bush will let "foolish" concerns about the marine environment, fresh water, air quality, trees, or wildlife stand in the way of casinos,bigger resorts, dredging for mega-yachts, etc. One only has to look at past history.

These people will always choose a dollar over a tree, and they will always get their way so long as dim voters can be won over by lies and trinkets. Intelligence and consideration for our grandchildren, be damned.
 

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YUDP offers support on proposed projects

| 27/06/2010 | 27 Comments

(CNS): With considerable debate in the community regarding the major investment projects which government hopes will improve the country’s economic fortunes over the next three years, CNS’ work-link student Ashleigh Hydes (15) sat down with the YUDP leadership this week to get the first reaction from the country’s young politicians: There has been much talk about the potential of the new hospital, the channel for the North Sound, cruise berthing in George Town and the cargo facility project in East End recently and the YUDP states that all are necessary for the growth of Cayman and to bring more revenue to the island.

Matthew Leslie and Richard Christian (above), president of the Young United Democratic Party (YUDP), spoke with CNS on the 24 June and shared their views and hopes for the future of Cayman. Speaking in particular about the major projects under debate, they both believe they will impact the island in many ways. They noted that the new hospital and the cruise ship project especially would be very important as they are both expected to create more income and jobs, as well as improve healthcare and our tourism industry.

“We’re in a wake-up call right now,” they said, “decisions are being made that may not be popular but are for the good of the country.”
 
They feel the new hospital could be the third leg of the economy and it will be good for the government as it will provide savings on healthcare costs for those who are currently sent overseas for treatment on the public dollar.

Richard and Matthew told CNS that they are both optimistic that the cruise berthing is good for modernization, will sustain the economy in George Town and will be tourist-friendly. Also, it will address the problem, they said, of visitors going to the Spotts Dock in extreme weather conditions, which is unattractive.

Although the YUDP members said they were confident these projects were necessary, they also think that the people need to be further informed on the North Sound dredging and cargo facility.

When asked about their concerns on the environment, they seemed apprehensive that our mangroves, coral and other wildlife would be affected. Matthew stated that he hopes certain restrictions and parameters are set to lessen the impact of the environmental hazards.

Though the Young United Democratic Party’s votes on certain circumstances are not counted, their advice and outlooks aregreatly appreciated by government. Richard said, “As YUDP, we are pushing the government to focus on the young people. It is going to be young people who are running in the next election.” 

As the political leaders of tomorrow Richard and Matthew said they believe they are the “voice of the youth” today, and as the youth arm of the United Democratic Party they are doing all they can to put forward the issues that affect the country’s younger people.

 
Ashleigh Hydes is a year 10 student from John Gray High School.

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Lampard goal denied as England knocked out

| 27/06/2010 | 24 Comments

(CNS): Although Frank Lampard’s 38th-minute shot was clearly over the line (left) when England were only trailing 2-1 behind Germany, referee Jorge Larrionda disallowed the goal. Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski had put Germany in front in the world cup quarter final before Matthew Upson had pulled one back. Even though it should have been 2 all at half time, Muller’s double strike in the second half ended England’s hopes. Klose’s 50th international goal amid some shocking England defence sealed the deal for Germany. Rather than being spurred on by the official’s error over Lampard’s goal, England fell apart and Germany will now face Argentina or Mexico in the semi finals.

No doubt Germany will claim justice was done 44 years after England benefited from the doubt at Wembley when Geoff Hurst’s shot was allowed. Of course there was no way to verify in 1966 but technology allows everyone to see Lampard scored a valid goal that would have brought England level and may or may not have changed the eventual outcome.

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British doctors call for homeopathy ban

| 27/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(The Telegraph): Hundreds of doctors will this week call for a ban on NHS funding for homeopathic treatments. Delegates to the British Medical Association’s conference are expected to support seven motions opposing the use of public money to pay for remedies which they claim have ‘no place in the modern health service.’ They are also calling for junior doctors to be exempt from being placed in homoeopathic hospitals, claiming it goes against the principles of evidence-based medicine. The conference will also hear calls for homoeopathic remedies to be banned from chemists unless they are clearly labelled as placebos rather than medicines.

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Model of turtle schooner showcased at farm

| 27/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A model of the Goldfield, one of the Cayman Islands historical turtle schooners is now on display at Boatswain Beach. The detailed model built by Dr. William “Bill” Hrudey has been placed in a showcase in the reception area of the Cayman Turtle Farm as a celebration of the country’s seafaring past officials at the farm said. The model was finished in 2002 and took Dr Hrudey over 6 months of full time, painstaking work and countless hours of archival research to ensure that every detail was accurate and true to the original.

The schooner Goldfield was built for William Conwell Watler from a design by Fossie Arch, just 23 years of age at the time, at the James Arch and Sons Shipyard on South Church Street, approximately in the present location of the Hard Rock Café.
Her design was inspired by the famous Canadian Fishing Schooner Bluenose and was one of the first spoon bowed vessels built in the Cayman Islands.  Up until 1929, the clipper bow was the normal feature on a Caymanian built vessel. The ship was skippered by Captain Reginald Parsons.
Shipbuilding was a major source of income to the Cayman Islands for over a hundred years, right up until the outbreak of the Second World War.  From 1903 through to 1950 over 283 vessels were constructed across all three of our islands.  There were at least eleven different shipyards on Grand Cayman, three on Cayman Brac and one or two more on the shores of Little Cayman during that period.
Dr Hrudey said he was thrilled to have his model of the Goldfield on display. “The Cayman Islands has a rich and colourful seafaring history that could easily be lost in time. I see this model as a wonderful way of preserving that history and I am delighted that it is being showcased at the Turtle Farm. It has been a real and unique labour of love and I will never create another,” he said. 
Chris Jackson of the Operations department at the Turtle Farm has taken great care in setting up this exhibit.  “The Goldfield is a symbol of Caymanian determination, pride, and workmanship,” he added. “It is a part of our heritage that too few of our young people really know about.  I am excited that the Turtle Farm is giving people a chance to rediscover this part of our history and keep it alive for future generations.”
 
 

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