Archive for August 26th, 2010

Tom Jones claims go to trial

| 26/08/2010 | 21 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island headline news(CNS): Following a decision by the Grand Court, the Cayman Islands government will be forced to settle its dispute with former schools contractor Tom Jones International at trial. The general contractor had been awarded both the government public high school projects at the John Gray Campus in George Town and the Clifton Hunter campus in Frank Sound but walked off the jobs in November last year. The contractor claimed that government had not paid its bills and that it was in dispute with the education ministry regarding add-ons and overruns of some $17 million. TJI filed a claim in Grand Court against government, which in turn applied to have the claims dismissed.

However, the court has found that the issues raised by the parties require a full trial. In a statement released by the education ministry on Thursday, the government said it looked forward to presenting its case at the trial in due course.
“To that end, the government will now proceed to set out the full details of its financial claims against TJI,” government officials said. During the ruling the judge revealed that government had not detailed its counterclaim against TJI but government said it now intended to reveal its case against the contractor.
“The term ‘forensically embarrassing’ is used in the judgment in connection with the government’s counterclaim. This is a legal term, which simply means “’lacking in detail’. The government did not feel that it was appropriate to incur the costs of setting out its counterclaim in full until it was clear that the matter would go to a full trial. The Court has now found that the issues raised by the parties do require a full trial and, accordingly, the government will now proceed to set out the full details of its claim against TJI,” the ministry said in the statement.
Following its departure from the sites in November 2009, TJI accused government of not demonstrating that it had the financial resources to complete the projects. It said the school development projects were “ill-conceived, poorly executed, over-indulgent, and insufficiently funded,” and the Ministry of Education had made more than 85 significant changes to the original plans totalling as much as CI$17 million that it had not budgeted for.
Since TJI walked away, with the exception of some maintenance work conducted by local subcontractors, the sites have remained idle for around nine months. The government began seeking construction management services earlier this year and went through a tendering process, which was abandoned after government decided to phase the development of the schools. The deadline for the latest tenders is tomorrow 27 August.
Meanwhile, the court’s judgment in this case became a public document on Thursday evening and CNS intends to publish details as soon as it is able to get a copy.

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603-pound woman leaves home for first time in 3 years

| 26/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(Huffington Post): A 603-pound (274-kilogram) woman believed to be the heaviest in Thailand left her apartment for the first time in three years Thursday with the help of Bangkok city hall and a forklift. Neighbors of 40-year-old Umnuayporn Tongprapai contacted the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority when they learned she needed medical attention to remove a tumor in her right leg. Bangkok’s media-savvy governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra summoned camera crews to document the event, which involved engineers, demolition crews, rescue workers, doctors and nurses.

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Minister in smash after nodding off at wheel

| 26/08/2010 | 46 Comments

(CNS): The education minister has confirmed that he was involved in a car accident early Thursday morning in his district of West Bay. Rolston Anglin told CNS that he fell asleep at the wheel for a fraction of a second as he was driving along Willie Farrington Drive and hit a rock. He said no other vehicles were involved and he was uninjured but was working from home and was unable to attend the new teacher’s orientation seminar being held on Thursday morning. The smash occurred at around 1am and police attended the scene.

"I’m need to rethink how I manage my time and workload,’ he said, admitting it was down to genuine tiredness and the workload of his ministry at present.

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UCCI rolls out new courses

| 26/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Part of the many changes going on at the Cayman Islands university, UCCI has introduced a new minor in sociology and political science, and the phased introduction of a minor in English. It begins this semester with the addition of a new humanities course, “African American Literature” which will introduce students to some of the issues of African American Literature, seen across genres and historical periods.  It analyzes the nature and impact of the African-American "voice", in terms of race, values, identity quests, and the roles and contributions of African American writers, within the larger body of American writing and culture.  This course is to be taught by UCCI professor Dr. Paula Grace Anderson. 

The courses offered in these new minors will be of particular interest to students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Education, now also offered at UCCI.  
Other new humanities courses being introduced are “Introduction to Caribbean Dance and Culture,” and “Introduction to Drawing.” 
The Caribbean Dance and Culture course is to be taught by adjunct professor, Dr. Monika Lawrence, of the University of Technology, Jamaica.  Participants will explore the role of traditional Caribbean dance forms, with particular reference to religious dances, their meanings and purposes, and their relationships to other forms and to contemporary society, particularly in Cayman. 
The art course is the first of two introductory-level drawing courses offered by UCCI.  The course will expose students to the art of line-drawing and then will go on to perspective and the formal rules of proportion of both the human figure and head, among other techniques. 
Other new developments is a course auditing arrangement for persons interested in boosting and enriching personal and academic development.  Grades and credits are not given for audited courses, and acceptance of persons into this arrangement is dependent on space availability and the approval of the Department Chair. 
Registration for auditing of courses is now in progress at UCCI, where classes begin on Monday (30 August).
A combined minor in Spanish and English is also on the drawing board and expected to be introduced later. 
For further information on humanities courses, go to, or contact Drs. Jennifer Williams or Livingston Smith.  For arrangements on auditing courses, interested persons may contact Registrar John Frederick at or by calling 623-0520.

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Chamber of Commerce moves to bigger location

| 26/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Chamber of Commerce is moving to new offices along Seven Mile Beach at Governors Square on 1 September. With more parking and a larger space the Chamber said the new Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Centre will better serve its members and provide easier access far visitors and training course attendees. The Chamber is moving from McDonald’s Square off Fort Street in downtown George Town where parking is becoming increasingly difficult to find. The office will have a visitors centre providing tourist information and investment information for the Cayman Islands.

“We are also proud to open a purpose built training facility for our Professional Development and Training courses which will be housed within our new office building. This will be able to accommodate up to 50 people,” the Chamber said. .
The new centre will also include Chamber Business Pods – a new concept for start-up businesses who need to rent a modest office space but with access to all the traditional equipment of a larger office environment. A host of new marketing opportunities will also be available to Chamber members in the form of Chamber TV, promotional displays, product launch opportunities, and presentation space, the chamber announced this week.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new home and sharing with you the benefits of
Chamber membership,” officials stated.
For more information about the Chamber visit its website

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Ten people to battle fat in ‘War on Weight’

| 26/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  Following the news yesterday that research has found even a short bout of unhealthy binging can have a lasting detrimental impact ten local people are going into battle over the next four months with fat and flab. War on Weight launched last Thursday when the ten contestants from the forty applicants, selected by committee to ensure their commitment, discussed this year’s weight competition, planned exercise regimes and met fellow exercise partners. Now in its third year, the WOW contest is an initiative of the Cayman Heart Fund where participants battle the bulge over 16-weeks. Each contestant will have access to more than $2,000 worth of health and fitness industry advice and expertise. 

Maggie Buchanan said she decided to enter WOW after a recent picture made her realize it was time to shed the pounds.
 “I decided it was finally time to get serious. No more excuses. When I saw WOW was looking for contestants I knew this was the competition for me,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the hard work, the camaraderie with the team and the competiveness of the entire programme. WOW provides me with the desire to keep an active routine as part of my everyday life so that I don’t revert back to my heavier and sedentary lifestyle. Of course, the personal end result for me is the prize of a healthier and thinner life.”
 59-year-old Joan Christian, decided to turn her life around after her doctor advised her that she needed to lower her blood pressure or risk being put on medication.
“I really want to avoid going on medication and I have been advised that losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle will help avoid this. Also my youngest son and his girlfriend have just had a bouncing baby girl and I really want to be able to enjoy her and my five other grandchildren,” she said.
“The WOW contest will give me the initiative to get started on an exercise regime that I can keep up after the programme is finished. I’m really looking forward to losing the weight and learning from the experts how to live healthier and, most importantly, keep the weight off.”
Originally from New Zealand, Rob Jamieson said he was most looking forward to the opportunity to work out with a group of people all working towards a mutual goal.
“The WOW contest is really going to help keep me organized and motivated and I really appreciate the hard work that the organizers have put in, not to mention the sponsor donors.”
To help contestants find an exercise regime they enjoy, this year’s contestants will be trying their hand at a wide range of fitness classes. These include martial arts at Purple Dragon, yoga at BodyWorks, Yamuna Body Rolling at Flow and spinning at Revolutions. Reflections are ensuring contestants look the part, with discounts on fitness apparel.
As part of the programme, contestants will also have to adhere to a strict diet under the watchful eye of registered dietician Chad Collins. Dr Addleson will be monitoring the contestantsthroughout the course of the challenge to ensure weight loss is healthy.
WOW committee chairperson, Leandra Charles, said she is excited about this year’s programme and the number of sponsors on board.
“This year’s contestants are really dedicated to the programme and we have had some fantastic support from sponsors this year. Without a doubt, this year will be the best WOW yet and I’m pretty confident this year’s contestants will shed more pounds than ever.”

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Patient led health care initiative launched

| 26/08/2010 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Clients from the Department of Children and Family Services will be the first patients to be allocated their own personal physician as part of the pilot launch of CayHealth. Government officials said this is an evidence-based health initiative that will give patients better access to healthcare. Patients will be able to schedule all appointments with the same doctor, who will in turn coordinate any specialist visits and overseas care, officials stated. The programme will be officially launched on 1 September but it is slated to become a nationalinitiative, and according to the health minister, forms part of the wider goal of improving the country’s health and health care.

The programme is a partnership between the ministries of Health and Community Affairs and the Health Services Authority.
“I believe this provides a great opportunity to improve our people’s health as we work towards developing a sustainable high quality healthcare system for the Cayman Islands,” said the health minister, Mark Scotland.
One of the programme’s main features involves assigning general practitioners as personal physicians. In addition to seeking services through CayHealth, patients will also continue to access paediatrics and women’s health clinic services in the usual manner due to the special nature of these services.
“Patients are at the heart of the healthcare system and being able to schedule visits with the same physician is a major step forward as it will improve patient-doctor relationships. Furthermore, when a doctor knows your complete medical history, it inevitably results in better and faster care,” the minister added.
The programme is also aimed at reducing waiting time by serving patients at the district health centres, where they will also be able to fill prescriptions. Government said the initiative supports the concept of preventative healthcare and encourages people to take an active interest in their health. As such, the programme offers patients health education which promotes healthy lifestyles through the Public Health Department and partner agencies.
“Evidence-based clinical management programmes such as CayHealth are especially effective in improving the quality of life of patients suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma because they allow physicians and patients to manage their health, rather than just responding to acute symptoms,” Scotland stated. “As such, this programme’s focus on preventative primary health care and patient education will allow the health care provider to manage the patient’s health and well-being which should reduce the need to seek emergency and acute care services.”
Mike Adam, the community affairs minster, said CayHealth had the potential to create a strong healthcare model for future generations. “We hope that the first participants will become strong ambassadors for the programme in their communities.”
Government officials said the programme was developed by a multi-agency steering committee comprising representatives from the Health Services Authority, the Department of Children and Family Services and CINICO.

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Chuckie resigns from PPM

| 26/08/2010 | 75 Comments

(CNS):  Full story — Following what he described as the opposition’s failure to respond adequately to the current government’s flawed policies, the former tourism minister has resigned from the People’s Progressive Movement. Charles Clifford says his former Cabinet colleagues are not providing the focal point for the community to express its disappointment and disagreement with government policy that an opposition party should. The PPM has not been aggressive enough in opposing the UDP administration and the policies it has implemented since coming to office and both parties were “dysfunctional”, he said. Clifford suggested the PPM needed to take a more active role in opposing what was happening and lead the community against government policies, such as tax hikes, that are undermining the economy.

Clifford has not given a clear indication of where his political future now lies but he has officially parted company from the political party with which he was elected to office in 2005.
He joined the PPM after resigning from his position as permanent secretary in the Tourism Ministry in 2004 with the then minister, McKeeva Bush. During the campaign Clifford had focused heavily on what he suggested were the corrupt policies and behaviour of the previous administration. He was later to face a tribunal for taking Cabinet papers and blowing the whistle on what were questionable financial dealings of the 2001-2005 UDP government in connection with the development of Boatswain Beach.
Since that hearing Clifford has persistently questioned why his removal of governmentpapers was more of an issue that what appears to be the less than transparent issues surrounding payments made to various parties involved in the project with public money.
Clifford has never shied away from controversy and said Wednesday that he believed both of Cayman’s political parties were dysfunctional and said the country was in dire need of a change of policy when it comes to local politics.
“Since leaving office in May 2009, I have reflected on a number of occurrences and contemplated where we are as a country and where we should be heading. I have not taken this decision lightly. But for my entire adult life I have always put country before self and my loyalties will always rest first and foremost with my country and not with a political party,” he said.
Clifford, who lost his seat at the 2009 election, coming in a few votes behind the UDP backbencher Dwayne Seymour in Bodden Town, recently proposed a march on the Glass House to demonstrate to government the dissatisfaction of the people over the proposal to sell the new government administration building and, among other issues, immigration policy. However, he was not backed by his party colleagues, despite the fact that the threat alone had delivered a clear message to government and saw the premier back down from selling the new government office.
He said there was room for far more civic action, which the political leaders should be directing, but he said the PPM MLAs did nothing more than go on the radio and raise objections in the Legislative Assembly, which fell on deaf ears.
The former Cabinet minister said he still believed in the concept of organised party politics but
Cayman had adopted the wrong model, not least because the two local parties were born as a result of the so-called 2001 coup and are nothing more than marriages of convenience.
“As with all marriages of convenience they have become dysfunctional and more focused on campaigning than on addressing the complex issues facing our country,” he said, adding that they were both in the midst of a leadership crisis and neither of them have properly functioning branches outside of their West Bay and George Town bases.
He also pointed to the lack of any real difference in the ideologies of the two political parties. “It seems that there are no real differences between the PPM and the UDP on the macro policies relating to the economy, environment, immigration, growth management, human capital development, social programmes and strategic planning for Cayman’s future for the next 50 years,” Clifford stated. “If there were real differences, I would have expected the PPM opposition to be much more aggressive and resolute in their objections to the flawed policies of the incumbent government.”
As they have in the past, Clifford said the Caymanian people could lead the way towards a new modern democratic political regime that is appropriate for Cayman’s unique society. “In every generation of Caymanians we have always had people who did the right thing to ensure our success. Let us keep that trend going and let us not be the generation that failed our country,” he added.
Although Clifford said he has not made any firm decisions about where his own political future now lies, he described himself as right of centre with very specific fundamental political beliefs, which he promised to discuss with CNS in a future interview.
He was, however, certain that the Cayman Islands cannot exist in a vacuum for it is a part of the global village. He encouraged the many talented Caymanians out there who are politically aware but who have dismissed the thought of ever seeking political office to reconsider. “I once thought that way too but I realised in 2004 that there have always been and must continue to be people who are prepared to make the sacrifice for the sake of our country,” he said, as he asked his fellow Caymanians to step up and begin to reshape the country’s political landscape.

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The only thing drug gangs fear is legalisation

| 26/08/2010 | 6 Comments

(The Independent): To many people, the "war on drugs" sounds like a metaphor, like the "war on poverty". It is not. It is being fought with tanks and sub-machine guns and hand grenades, funded in part by your taxes, and it has killed 28,000 people under the current Mexican President alone. The death toll in Tijuana – one of the front lines of this war – is now higher than in Baghdad. Yesterday, another pile of 72 mutilated corpses was found near San Fernando – an event that no longer shocks the country.

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Teacher’s acquittal over fraction of ganja stands

| 26/08/2010 | 56 Comments

(CNS): An appeal by the Attorney General’s Office regarding a drawn out case involving a school teacher who lost his job over 0.004 ounces of ganja found on him at the airport has failed. Marius Voiculescu, who was a computer teacher at George Town and John A Cumber primary schools, was convicted in Summary Court in December 2008 of possession of ganja. In June 2010, after a journey through the Grand Court, the Cayman Islands appeal court and back to the Grand Court again, Justice Alex Henderson acquitted Voiculescu of the conviction. The Court of Appeal said in their ruling, delivered on Wednesday, that Henderson had not made an error in law and they upheld his acquittal and denied the AG’s appeal.

This is the second time the case has come before the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal. The first time was in the wake of a Voiculescu’s appeal to the Grand Court after his conviction. At that first appeal, Justice Henderson had ordered a retrial hearing at which the crown offered no evidence, so Henderson acquitted Voiculescu. Attorney General Samuel Bulgin then appealed that decision to the CICA, which allowed the appeal on the basis of an error in law and sent it back to the Grand Court.
Following a second appeal before Justice Henderson, the former teacher was acquitted again and once again the AG appealed. However, on Wednesday morning the CICA found that this time the judge had not erred and he had correctly revealed his reasons for allowing Voiculescu’s appeal and the subsequent acquittal as a result of the crown being unable to offer any evidence for a second time.
The argument in the case boiled down to the question of the defendant’s knowledge of the ganja. On 28 April 2008 the defendant was found in possession of a half burnt spliff in the back of a cigarette packet.  Voiculescu denied it was his and denied any knowledge of the burned spliff on the grounds that he had found the cigarette packet in the car-park at his condo with cigarettes inside and picked them up.
The chief magistrate convicted him despite the fact that tests he had taken for marijuana were negative and tests he financed himself on the DNA on the spliff proved it was not his, claiming he must have been aware of the spliff because of the smell, a point Voiculescu disputed.
Although the airport security guard who gave evidence had held the packet up to his nose and said there was a strong smell, Voiculescu had pointed out he had never held the packet to his nose. During the summary trial the teacher had said: “I didn’t smell anything at all. Everybody has a different sense of smell I didn’t bring it up to my nose like he did.”
At the time the chief magistrate had stated that she did not believe the box was always at arms length from Voiculescu’s nose and had convicted him because she felt he had to have been able to smell it. Henderson, however, had pointed out on appeal that the inferences on this drawn by the magistrate were not supported by the evidence — a point the appeal court judges agreed with.
In the judgement, President of the CICA, Sir John Chadwick, pointed out that the chief magistrate was entitled to find that the smell emanating from the box had alerted the security guard. “The smell was enough to alert the security guard and provoke him to search the cigarette packet; but the evidence went no further than that. The evidence did not enable her to find as a fact that the smell was ‘strong’ in some objective or measurable sense; it did not enable her to find as a fact that it was so strong Mr Voiculescu must have been aware of it.”
The Court of Appeal found that the judge had approached the appeal correctly on the basis that issues of fact were at large and he took account of four factors.
Firstly, if it were assumed that Voiculescu knew about the spliff he must have forgotten about it. The judge considered it was inexplicable that someone who was not a ganja smoker should have knowingly attempted to smuggle a half smoked spliff from Grand Cayman to the USA.
Secondly, there was nothing to suggest that if Voiculescu had recognised the smell he would have neglected to discard it and then forgotten about it by the time he reached the airport. Thirdly, the judge considered the strong evidence of his good character. And lastly, he did not find it implausible, as the magistrate had, that a smoker would find and keep cigarettes discarded in a parking lot.
When allowing Voiculescu’s appeal Henderson summarised: “In the light of the proven absence of any motive and the fact that the presence of the spliff in the package was not obvious and taking account of the evidence of good character … I find I am not sure that the defendant had the requisite knowledge of the presence of the spliff.”
As a result the appeal court president found that Henderson was bound to allow the appeal and for that reason they dismissed the AG’s appeal.
Voiculescu, who had been in Cayman for over seven years when he was arrested, returned to his native Canada after the conviction.

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