Archive for November 30th, 2010

Cops write over 100 tickets in week 1 of clampdown

| 30/11/2010 | 40 Comments

(CNS): In the first week of its Christmas clampdown on bad driving the RCIPS said that 108 tickets had been issued for arange of offences and six people have already been arrested for driving under the influence. Operation Rotate which started on 22 November until January is designed to challenge what police describe as the poor standard of driving in Cayman. The campaign came in the wake of the 6th fatality on Cayman’s roads and Inspector Adrian Barnett of the RCIPS Traffic Management Department said people had to realise that their actions have consequences. If bad driving wasn’t addressed more families would be burying loved ones as a result of avoidable deaths on the roads he added.

Police revealed that between 22 and 29 November officers set up 18 road blocks and conducted 15 stop and searches. Six of the DUI arrests came after 16 breath tests were taken by drivers.

At the start of the campaign Barnett said, “The fact is that drinking and driving and speeding cost lives…Too many people still take chances with their own safety and the lives of others on our roads by getting behind the wheel of a car when they are drunk, using our roads as race tracks or, in many cases, a combination of both.”

Of the more than 100 tickets issued 40 were for speeding offences and five people were issued tickets over not wearing seatbelts. Two offenders were also arrested for Driving Whilst Disqualified and during the first week there were 23 different road accidents reported.

“The driving behaviour we see day after day in this country needs to be challenged head-on. If we do not collectively challenge it the death and destruction on our roads will continue and more families will have to go through the heartache of burying their loved ones,” Barnett added.
The police said that the crackdown will include high visibility patrols, static road checks, unmarked vehicles, radar stops and targeted operations to discourage and detect those who drink and drive, or engage in other inconsiderate or illegal road activities.
 

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Cabinet Secretary reveals existing policy analyst

| 30/11/2010 | 25 Comments

(CNS): Over four months after the appointment, the cabinet secretary has revealed that Garfield Ellison is working in the Cabinet Office as a policy analyst. Ellison has the responsibility for researching and developing policy proposals, actions and strategies for Cabinet, as well as for coordinating policy between ministries, portfolios and other government agencies. Although the appointment was made in July, it was announced by Orrett Connor on Tuesday 30 November in the wake of the public revelation that former UDP candidate Pearlina McGaw-Lumsden had been appointed by the Cabinet as a political assistant to four of the five Cabinet ministers to review policies.

Connor said that Ellison, a long standing public servant, was appointed to the Cabinet post on 19 July. “With an increasingly complex range of national issues to be managed and administered, this addition to the Cabinet Office staff is timely as well as essential, and Mr Ellison is already proving to be a valuable resource,” Connor explained.

Subsequent to his 2009 graduation with a law degree from the University of Liverpool, he completed his legal professional practice course this year at the Cayman Islands Law School.
Ellison had initially embarked on a quite different career path in natural sciences, and having earned a public health qualification in 1994, he took an environmental science degree at the University of the West Indies. He then broadened his horizons by completing a post-graduate qualification in public policy and management at the University of London.

His work experience reflects the diversity of his studies; after some years with the Department of Environmental Health, he was seconded to the department’s parent ministry in 2007. Then, at a later date, he went on to serve as the head of Recreation Parks and Cemeteries Unit before transferring to the ministry.

"I have adopted the concepts of fixity of purpose and continuity of effort, which are fundamental in embracing challenges. Considering the competent Cabinet team, I am indeed happy to serve in this capacity and all my efforts will be geared ultimately to influence and contribute meaningfully to good governance and coordinate appropriate policy direction,” said Ellison about his Cabinet policy job.

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MLA to answer charges in New Year

| 30/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following his second brief appearance in the dock, government backbencher Dwayne Seymour was bailed this morning and will return to the court in the New Year. Charged with assault and attempting to pervert the course of justice, the Bodden Town MLA’s case, along with that of his co-defendant, Joseph Hartwell Minzett, has been adjourned until 11 January. Steve McField, who is representing the two men, asked Acting Magistrate Valdis Foldats for the case to be adjourned until the magistrate with conduct of the matter would be able to deal with it, as the next stage involved pleas and elections. Seymour is expected to answer to the charges against him at this next appearance.

Seymour is expected to enter a plea regarding the two charges at his next appearance, and should he choose to defend the charges he will have the option of having the case heard in the Grand Court in front of a jury.

Although few details of the more serious charge of perverting or obstructing the course of justice have yet emerged, all of the charges relate to an incident at the Grand Cayman Beach Suites on Seven Mile Beach in May of this year. Seymour and Minzett are accused of assaulting Florida based personal trainer Garrone Yap, who claims that, aside from being involved in the assault on him, Seymour had used his position as a politician to have Yap also arrested in connection with the incident. Yap was, however, released while both Minzett and Seymour were placed on police bail.

After the charges were brought against him, Seymour said in a televised address that he was both innocent of, and “surprised by", the charges and he did not understand how what he called the "baseless charges" were laid against him. The MLA, who has received the public support of the premier and UDP party leader McKeeva Bush, also denies knowing the people involved in the charges and has said he looks forward to clearing his name in court.

“I have no earthly idea where and how they (the charges) could have arisen over the last five and a half months. It seems that everyone knew I was being charged with some offence before I did,” he said in a prepared statement which he read on Cayman 27. “All I can say at this point is that I do not know the persons involved and the charges made. I am also completely unaware of the circumstances being described in the charges.”

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Cayman ‘For Sale’

| 30/11/2010 | 40 Comments

This past weekend (thanksgiving) it was refreshing to see a noticeable increase in the number of visitors (tourists) to the north coast of Grand Cayman. I was able to interact with many of these guests at several functions and casual conversations, as is customary, I am always anxious to hear their impressions of the area and Cayman in general. The first question they asked, “Why is everything for sale?

I have simply run out of sensible answers and now bluntly admit to our guests that it is a case of “let’s keep doing the same things while expecting different results”. How do we expect to attract new buyers when the impression is that everyone is leaving the area?

A few also expressed their dismay at the large power line poles and the bright red lights on the top of each. The question was asked-why not put the electric lines underground, especially since the area is mostly sandy soil. While I agreed wholeheartedly, I did not have an answer for this one.

This feedback confirms that the things some of us who live here and take for granted, our guests find to be out of context for a so-called “high end destination” and it has a serious effect on their impressions of our country and their desire to return or invest.

For many years I have been asking the Cireba officials to address the issue of the numerous for sale signs which has cheapened the entire north coast. Today, I decided to count the signs and travelled from Morrits Tortuga to Rum Point, Kaibo Park and down Frank Sound rd; to my amazement there were 130 for sale signs on the main road, (I did not check the side roads). I also understand that the signs standing independently along the road are also in violation of the Planning laws.

A couple months ago I discussed this issue with the President of Cireba, and I offered a sensible solution: establish a joint CIREBA/DOT information office in the area so that our guests could visit for information and those interested in real estate could view the listings and arrange viewings. In addition, I offered to assist them in finding a suitable location for such a center. As usual, the answer – we will study it and get back in touch.

I have travelled to many “high end “destinations overseas and found the use of information centers very common; in fact in many areas it is against the town ordinance to erect a for sale sign. As the majority of our real estate agents are from overseas one would have thought that they would be aware of this and try something new for a change.

In this time of severe economic hardships when many of us who own real estate and cater to our visitors are struggling just to survive, one would think that we (collective country) would be acting outside of the box (listening to our guests feedback) to sustain ourselves during these hard times; while working as hard as possible to improve our environment, surroundings and maintain values, (a building moratorium anyone?). Instead we keep grumbling along wishing and hoping things will get better soon; but not this time. Only by utilizing new ideas and hard work will it get better. For the past 10 + years nothing of any substance has taken place with respect to improving the product “Cayman” and the results and statistics prove this point. Yet we keep looking for excuses as to why our market is down, instead of looking in the mirror.

To compound our problems we now have a barrage of plastics and other garbage which appears to have floated in from Haiti along the entire north coast beaches. Again, I recently asked our Govt. to send out a few prisoners to clean it up like we did a few years ago under the auspices of the North coast tourism council. It was great for the inmates and well received by the community. Again, the answer was we will study it and let you know. What is there to study? Garbage is ruining our beaches and the coral reefs and we need to clean it up. In addition, we have many young north siders out of work now and the lion fish is also invading our reefs- could it not be arranged that a small bounty be worked out to pay these young men to go out and kill these lionfish? Or is that to be studied as well?

Cayman had two assets when we started in the tourism business 50 +years ago; – friendly, hospitable, hard working and caring people and a pristine environment. For those who are still trying to decide what label to put on the jar “Cayman”, I suggest you look inside the jar as the contents are diminishing fast. Our efforts should be on fixing the product not wasting time and scare dollars on what the label should be. But the latter is so much easier than the former, so we continue with the charade.

For the real estate industry I would like to remind them of what President Reagan told Gorbachev about the Berlin Wall: “Tear down these signs!"

Cayman has been asleep for too long regarding our tourism product; it is time we wake up before our dream turns into a real nightmare.

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Gang of robbers hit Shoppe

| 30/11/2010 | 48 Comments

(CNS): One man has been arrested following an armed robbery in West Bay last night in which a group of four or five men held staff and other people at gun point and made off with cash, cell phones and passports. Police said that at 8:33pm officers responded to a report that The Shoppe, at the junction of Watercourse and North West Point Road, had been robbed. The suspects first attempted to rob a cashier who had been outside the shop. A man threatened the victim with a handgun and demanded money. He then focused on other workers and people who were also outside. They were all then held at gunpoint by two other men armed with what appeared to be a shotgun and another handgun. During this time they were robbed of their cell phones.

Simultaneously, two other men entered the shop and robbed other workers who were inside the store, police said, and an undisclosed amount of cash and some passports were stolen. The suspects were seen to leave the location in a white Ford Explorer the first numbers being taken as N132.

Following a search by police, this vehicle was located and shortly afterwards police said that a man was was arrested. He remains in custody this morning whille enquiries continue.

Police are appealing for any witnesses or information to West Bay CID on 949-3999 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477
 

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Scottish surgeons break organ operation records

| 30/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(The Herald): A record-breaking round of organ transplants has helped save the lives of 14 patients in 15 days. The surgeries were carried out by John Forsythe, Scotland’s lead clinician for organ donation, as part of a campaign to increase the number of people adding their names to the donor register. The 14 patients who underwent liver, kidney and pancreas transplants between October 28 and November 11 at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary received organs from donors. Ten patients received liver transplants, three had kidney transplants and one patient had a combined pancreas and kidney transplant, meaning staff carried out 15 transplants in just 15 days.

The operations took place as NHS Lothian launched a new campaign to urge more people to give the gift of life by joining the donor register. It comes amid a Scotland-wide national campaign to increase the number of people on the register, which currently stands at 1,835,315.

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Drunken cruise passenger drops anchor

| 30/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(UKPA): A California man who says he was drunk dropped anchor on a moving cruise ship, the FBI said. According to an FBI affidavit posted on The Smoking Gun website, 44-year-old passenger Rick Ehlert entered a restricted area, put on work gloves and released the rear anchor on Holland America’s MS Ryndam. It was heading from Costa Maya, Mexico, to Tampa, Florida. Ehlert is in custody and faces US federal charges of attempting to damage a vessel and endangering a ship’s safe navigation. The ship was not damaged on Saturday. But the FBI says the anchor could have punctured the ship and caused it to sink or severely flood.

The FBI said Ehlert acknowledged releasing the anchor and throwing a life buoy overboard.
The affidavit said Ehlert explained that the anchor system was similar to that on his 50-foot boat.

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New wave of hedge fund start-ups find life is tough

| 30/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): The hedge fund industry’s proverbial ‘two traders and a terminal in Mayfair’ are back. But starting your own hedge fund is likely to prove a much less lucrative venture for the foreseeable future, thanks to hard bargaining by investors. Investor confidence is returning after the credit crisis in which clients deserted small firms. Some $42 billion of net inflows into the industry this year have encouraged managers to take the risk and start boutiques, just as in the pre-crisis boom years. But the rewards look set to be less lucrative, as still-nervy clients invest smaller sums than before the credit crisis. They often invest in return for a discount on charges, giving managers a lower asset base on which to earn fees.

"There is renewed confidence. The marketplace for start-ups seems to be fairly robust," said Andrew Rubio, chief executive of Throgmorton, which provides back-office services for hedge funds including Brevan Howard, one of Europe’s biggest hedge fund firms.

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Cayman escapes unscathed from busy storm season

| 30/11/2010 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Virginie and Walter may be feeling a little left out this morning as the only two names not used in one of the busiest Atlantic Hurricane seasons on record draws to a close. Although busy the season was not as dangerous as other years over 250 people were killed by storms and hurricanes in the Caribbean and Central American region. The year 2010 was accurately predicted by a number of storm forecasters as a busy season one which in the end churned up 19 storms 12 of which became hurricanes. With the exception of a brief storm watch and flooding from Nicole the Cayman Islands was almost undisturbed.

Five of this year’s hurricanes were rated as major system at category 3 and above packing winds of over 110mph. Colorado State University scientists Phil Klotzbach and William Gray had forecast 18 named storms, 10 hurricanes and five major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher. Meanwhile the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted 14 to 20 named storms; eight to 12 hurricanes; and four to six major hurricanes.

In September the shortest lived storm of the season was the only one to give the Cayman Islands any trouble. Tropical Storm Nicole closed schools and caused flooding in low-lying areas after significant rain (above). The same storm however wreaked havoc across Jamaica, where 12 people were killed in flash floods.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season 2010 formally ends today Tuesday 30 November.
 

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Kittiwake hits more troubled waters

| 30/11/2010 | 10 Comments

(CNS): The sinking of the former naval ship USS Kittiwake has been delayed again organizers say, as the ship has hit stormy weather off the US coast. The project which will create an artificial reef off Seven Mile Beach has been more than seven years in the making and the sinking was planned for July of this year. Getting the vessel to Cayman caused delays for the summer sinking however, and the event was reset for Sunday, 5 December. But poor weather has foiled the attempt at getting the boat on the seabed once again. The ship left the US from the James River Reserve Fleet in Virginia and is being towed along the eastern seaboard of the US from Virginia, to southern Florida.

From Key West, the Kittiwake will be towed along normal shipping lanes around the western side of Cuba to the west side of Grand Cayman over 1400 nautical miles and this journey is expected to take more than a week but no new date has yet been set for the sinking.

The 251-foot, 2,200 ton, five-deck military vessel, which served the United States Maritime Administration (US MARAD) for over 50 years after it was commissioned in 1945, will, if it ever makes it to Cayman,create an artificial reef and a new dive attraction. The vessel was expected to arrive in Grand Cayman yesterday before a number of events were scheduled to happen to mark the occasion.

The project is a joint venture between the Ministry and Department of Tourism and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA). Premier McKeeva Bush recently said that the sinking represents the single most significant occurrence in a decade for Cayman’s dive industry and stakeholders were naturally very excited.

“Since the last year, the Ministry and Department of Tourism, CITA and Kittiwake Project Manager, Nancy Easterbrook, have been working hand in hand through many processes to ensure the cleaning and safe movement of the vessel to the Cayman Islands, in preparation for its sinking and I am pleased to see that we are almost at the finish line,” the premier said recently. “This public-private sector partnership is a good example of the kind of meaningful collaboration that results in necessary and exciting enhancements to our tourism product, such as the Kittiwake will bring.”
 

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