Archive for December 20th, 2010

Diver saved following underwater heart attack

| 20/12/2010 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Although a number of divers die in Cayman waters every year sometimes those that get into distress are rescued and brought to safety. However, the rescues don’t often reach the press but the local tourist association has released details of recent rescue of visitor from the United States who suffered a heart attack underwater. Although it is believed to be very rare for a person to be saved under such circumstances on this occasion the speed and professionalism of the dive team saved the man’s life in what was described as a “text book rescue”.

On Friday 10 December at around 5pm a 66 year old visitor from the United States had a suspected heart attack whilst under scuba instruction with Divers Down. Dive Instructor Jenny Smetters (pictured above left) realized that the diver was in distress and having difficulty breathing whilst performing a dive skill underwater, Cayman Islands Tourism Association revealed. She immediately reacted and brought him to the surface where Dive Instructor Matt Nordin (middle) assisted in bringing him back to the dive boat. CPR was immediately administered by Smetters and fellow Dive Instructor Emily Petley Jones (right) as the diver had stopped breathing and his pulse could not be detected.

Miraculously, they were able to revive him and he was then able to breathe unaided for the short journey back to the South Sound Dock. Emergency Medics on the scene were able to stabilize the diver and transport him to the George Town Hospital, where an hour later he was chatting and making jokes with the nurses.

Divers Down owner operator Steve Surrey said it was a remarkable outcome to what could easily have been an unfortunate diving incident. “I am very proud of all the staff involved, especially Jenny and Emily; it was a text book rescue and a real team effort which resulted in the saving of another person’s life,” he said.

 

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Total lunar eclipse expected Monday night

| 20/12/2010 | 5 Comments

(AP): Weather permitting, sky gazers in North and Central America will boast the best seats to this year’s only total eclipse of the moon. The eclipse will happen Monday night on the West Coast of the US and during the wee hours Tuesday on the East Coast. The moon is normally illuminated by the sun but during a total lunar eclipse, the full moon passes through the shadow created by the Earth blocking the sun’s light. Some indirect sunlight will still manage to pierce through and give the moon a ghostly color. Since the eclipse coincides with winter solstice, the moon will appear high in the sky — a boon for skywatchers.

NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland predicts the moon will appear bright red or orange. "It will be interesting to watch," he said.

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Reporter avoids jail threat as AG declines to prosecute

| 20/12/2010 | 45 Comments

(CNS): The country’s top attorney has said that he will not be moving ahead with a prosecution against The Caymanian Compass or its reporter, Brent Fuller. Following a vote in the Legislative Assembly calling for the AG to bring criminal proceedings because politicians believed the paper and the reporter had broken sections 18 and 19 of the Legislative Assembly Immunities, Powers and Privileges Law, Samuel Bulgin, the attorney general, has said he won’t be doing so. The call to prosecute came in the wake of a news story and editorial that questioned why the Freedom of Information law would be reviewed behind closed doors.

A motion tabled by Ezzard Miller asking the AG to bring charges against Fuller and the daily newspaper was supported by the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly earlier this month. However, Bulgin said in today’s statement, “I am of the opinion that there should be no prosecutions in this matter. In the circumstances, the decision is that there will be no criminal proceedings instituted against Mr Brent Fuller and or the Caymanian Compass.”

In the wake of Bulgin’s statement Miller told CNS that he was satisfied with the AG’s decision. “I have asked the authorities to prosecute plenty of people that I believe have broken the law before and they usually don’t do it, so there is nothing different here,” Miller said. “I believed the law had been broken. I did what the process allows me to do; that’s all I can do.”

Miller argued that Fuller’s article and the editorial supporting it gave the impression that the members of the Legislative Assembly were doing something unlawful when they had said the FOI select committee review was being held in secret. The Compass argued, however, that the report was factual as the meetings will be held in camera and that the editorial was merely a fair comment on the situation.

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ipad drives computer Chritmas sales

| 20/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Computer hardware has accounted for $27.46 billion in online shopping sales during the first 47 days of the 2010 holiday shopping season, according to a report released by comscore. The report says the iPad is the driving force behind this year’s 25 percent increase in online computer hardware sales compared to the same period in 2009. “Computer Hardware ranks as the top growing category for the holiday season to date with a 25-percent increase versus last year,” the report said. “Purchases of handheld devices (such as Apple iPads and e-readers) and laptop computers drove much of the growth.”

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Countries need to deepen emission cuts

| 20/12/2010 | 0 Comments

(Reuter): The United Nations urged governments on Monday to make deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions quickly, saying the world will otherwise overshoot a ceiling for global warming agreed this month in Mexico. The UN Climate Change Secretariat also called on countries to work out the details of new institutions, such as a "Green Climate Fund" to help poor nations, agreed on December 11 at the 190-nation talks. "All countries, but particularly industrialised nations, need to deepen their emission reduction efforts and to do so quickly," Christiana Figueres, head of the Secretariat, said in a statement.

She said existing pledges for curbs on greenhouse gas emissions were only 60 percent of those needed to limit a rise in temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), the level agreed in Mexico to avert dangerous change.

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Senior cop disappointed with local drivers

| 20/12/2010 | 33 Comments

(CNS): In the wake of another death on Cayman’s roads a senior police officer has said it is unbelievable how many people are driving under the influence and committing other traffic offences despite the continued warnings from police. Twenty-three people have been arrested on suspicion of DUI (driving under the influence) during the first four weeks of the RCIPS seasonal road safety campaign. Releasing the figures on Monday Chief Inspector Angelique Howell expressed her disappointment at the number of offences detected since the launch of the initiative on 22 November. Police revealed there have been almost 200 road crashes of some kind in the first four weeks. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

“We were all saddened to hear of the tragic loss of another life on the roads of the Cayman Islands this weekend. Our thoughts are with the family of Mr Edgington at this difficult time,” said Chief Inspector Angelique Howell. “The statistics we have released this morning are concerning. It is beyond belief that so many people have chosen to ignore the warnings about the dangers of driving at speed, without seat belts and while under the influence. We said at the start of this campaign that we would be redoubling our efforts and that we would be coming after those who not only flout the law but put themselves and other road users at risk by their irresponsible actions.”

Drivers who get behind the wheel of a car after they’ve been drinking are putting their own lives at risk
as well as the livesof innocent road users and pedestrians, the senior officer stated.

“We will continue to be out in force throughout the festive season carrying out stop checks on vehicles, setting up road blocks and actively gathering intelligence about people who are drinking and then driving.

She also reminded drivers that alcohol stays in the system for some considerable time – and it’s possible
drivers may still be over the limit the next day. “That’s why we will also be targeting early morning drivers who might still be over the limit,” Howell added.

Reminding everyone about their responsibilities on the road she told cyclists and pedestrians to take extra care.

“As we fast approach the Christmas and the New Year period I would also like to remind pedestrians and cyclists that they too have a responsibility for road safety, they must be aware of, and pay attention to other road users. Pedestrians must look both ways before crossing roads and if possible use designated crossings. In addition, cyclists must ride with the flow of traffic and not against it,” the inspector stated.

In the past week alone seven 7 people have been arrested for DUI following the 59 breath tests which have been conducted. There have been 25 road blocks and 40 traffic tickets have been issued, 5 people have been found not to be wearing seatbelts and some 55 road collisions have taken place. Police said 33 traffic offences have been reported and 61 speeding tickets were issued and 9 stop and search operations have been conducted.

Since the crack down started last month the police said that there have been

23 arrests for DUI
165 traffic offences reported
187people detected speeding
256 traffic tickets issued
21 people found not to be wearing seatbelts
36 production slips issued
183 breath tests conducted
93 roadblocks conducted.
36 stop and search operations
184 road collisions

Anyone who has information about people committing road traffic offences or drinking and driving should contact their local police station.

 

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NDC looks for sponsors for New Years Eve bus

| 20/12/2010 | 4 Comments

(CNS): In an effort to reduce the amount of people who may be tempted to drink and the drive on New Year’s Eve the National DrugCouncil is appealing to the community to help them run the purple ribbon bus service. In the past the NDC has footed the bill for the free bus but with government budget constraints officials are now seeking financial support from the private sector so they can run the service. In keeping with the NDC’s festive campaign to encourage people not to drive after they have been drinking and promote the Designated Driver Programme the NDC has reserved ten buses from a local tour company but now needs the money to pay for them.

The service will run a route from West Bay to Bodden Town on New Year’s Eve between 10:00 pm to 3:00 am at 30 min intervals and will pickup passengers at all major restaurants, bars and night-clubs as ell as regular bus stops on the route. Buses will also go out to the East End and North Side districts.

The NDC said it hopes companies will sponsor a bus, which costs $500 and take advantage of the opportunity to show the community that their firm or organisation cares

“This service has transported over 2000 party goers safely across the island each year,” Joan Dacres West said.

Sponsors will get their logo and company name on all promotional material and advertisements leading up to New Year’s Eve.
 

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Beleaguered vessels sets sail for final destination

| 20/12/2010 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Following the many trials and tribulations associated with the plan to create an artificial reef by sinking the ex-USS Kittiwake in Cayman waters, off Seven Mile Beach the ship has finally begun its journey to the Cayman Islands. The most recently set date for the sinking was 5 December but that had to be cancelled due to a combination of bad weather and the need for repairs to the tugboat. A new date has not yet been fixed but it is anticipated that the sinking will take place in the New Year shortly after the old vessel arrives in Grand Cayman. The 251-foot submarine vessel left its US dock on Thursday 16 December 16 for its final journey and Project Manager, Nancy Easterbrook said it was a momentous occasion.

“After so many years of a very complicated project, having the Kittiwake depart Norfolk with a clear weather window to start the tow is extremely exciting news,” she said. “With over 1,000 people employed in the water sports industry, this is going to be a great boost to local businesses with a new water-based tour to take visitors to and an awesome experience for residents living here. I think that most everyone is very excited and we are praying for fair winds and following seas for the next two weeks.”

Seven years in the making, the Kittiwake is a project of the Ministry and Department of Tourism in partnership with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA). The 5-deck, 2200-ton Kittiwake was originally commissioned as a Chanticleer-class submarine rescue ship in the United States Navy in 1945 during World War II. After 50 years of service the Kittiwake was decommissioned in 1994.

According to Easterbrook, the Kittiwake will be an interesting attraction, with plenty of room for divers and snorkelers to explore, including its recompression chamber, air bank storage, engine room and dive locker. It will be sunk in only 65 feet of water and the top of the bridge and smoke stack will be 20 feet from the surface.

“The Kittiwake was selected for the reefing project due to her size and height being suitable for Cayman waters, as well as her overall weight, being a very heavy, solid steel ship with 18 bulkheads. This type of ship will have the longest life underwater and will be less susceptible to break-up and damage due to storms,” she explained.

Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott said the dive industry has been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Kittiwake, which will be a welcome addition to the already impressive number of dive sites.
“I invite the dive sector and the public to join us in celebrating this milestone, by watching the sinking either from the West Bay public beach or from one of the boats that will be available to the public.”

Information on these and other activities will be posted on the Department of Tourism’s website, www.caymanislands.ky and at the official Kittiwake website, www.kittiwakecayman.com, once dates and times have been finalised. “I encourage everyone to keep monitoring the press for further details” he said.

Once it arrives in Grand Cayman, the Kittiwake will be prepared for sinking over a four-day period.
 

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Crime is down reveals Mac

| 20/12/2010 | 67 Comments

(CNS): The country’s crime statistics have fallen over the course of 2010, the country’s premier has said. In the wake of criticism from the public, as well as from the opposition in the country’s parliament, that the premier is not focusing on the perceived increase in crime in the community, McKeeva Bush said serious crime over the first 9 months of the year has dropped by 3.38 percent. Speaking at the Northern Caribbean Conference on Economic Cooperation on Friday, he said it was still “a major point of concern for my government” and that any opportunity to improve national security through sharing of information or the pooling of regional resources was welcomed.

Bush pointed out that for decades the Cayman Islands had taken pride in its safety and tranquillity and low crime levels but things had changed.

“We’ve had to strengthen our border policing to stem the smuggling of firearms, drugs and people,” he pointed out. “Our marine and air operations unit are equipped and performing well, and thanks to proper equipment, the ASU and Marine Unit can work together to quickly search air, land and sea for fugitives.”

Explaining Cayman’s crime fighting strategies to the more than 150 delegates gathered at the conference, he said both the police service and the legal department were working with his government ministers to amend legislation “to keep ahead of criminal threats” and witness anonymity and protection.

He said the use of the new legislation was already bearing fruit as he said it was instrumental in securing a conviction in a murder case within a few weeks of implementation. Bush said he was interested in hearing about the possibility of building closer alliances within the Northern Caribbean for witness protection.

Turning to the local fight against crime, he said work was also underway to advance the national Closed Circuit TV project. “This will allow us to monitor our hotspot areas and will be extremely beneficial in the disruption, prevention and detection of crime,” he said.

He also added there was a need for additional training to enhance skill levels for all echelons of crime prevention staff and prison wardens and added that there were issues with law enforcement that were common to all the countries in the region.

“I’m willing to bet that we need improved file and evidence preparation in all of our countries. Criminals have become a transient commodity and they have mastered the art of disguise. However, there are certain identification features that are unchangeable and as a region we should be utilizing technology to be able to share this information,” he added.

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$2million wasted, says auditor general

| 20/12/2010 | 25 Comments

(CNS): The money spent on the accounting task force did not represent good value for money for the public purse, the auditor general has said. In his general report on government finances published last week, the country’s top auditor said that a lot of time and money was spent trying to complete the more outdated accounts rather than focusing on the more recent years, which would be more relevant and accountable to the legislative representatives and the people. Speaking about his findings, Alistair Swarbrick said government wasted the $2million on putting together a task force as he said the specially recruited accountants were ineffective and did not actually prepare any financial statements of worth.

He said some chief financial officers revealed when they spoke to theAG’s office that they did not know what work the task force did when working in their departments. “Even if the Task Force had prepared the financial statements we were eventually presented with in the past few months, those financial statements were for the most part unreliable,” he said. “The expenditure of almost $2 million … provided extremely poor value-for-money given the challenges facing the government’s accountants at this time.”

Swarbrick said he believed the money could have been spent on providing more accurate reporting of accounts for the more current financial statements and developing a plan for the future on how government could prepare consolidated financial statements. The AG said government was faced with a number of choices which would have used a lot less resources and been more accountable.

“Instead of preparing financial statement for every entity for every year, they could have prepared one set of statements for all the years (in the backlog) or put aside the requirement for preparing financial statements altogether and prepared condensed financial statements (less information).”

He explained that they could have chosen to just provide management accounts for audit that, he said, his office would have had to disclaim, which is what has happened for the most part with the old accounts in any event.

“The government had a number of choices at its disposal that would have used a lot less resources for the results it obtained,” he stated.

Despite claims by government officials in the Ministry of Finance that the $2million was well spent, the AG disagreed. He said government chose to address the backlog by preparing financial statements for every entity for every year when there were far more pragmatic solutions that would have produced the same results for less money.

Swarbrick explained that the information available for the old accounts was so poor it was essentially a waste of time to try and complete the accounts as they were of no use. He said government should have diverted the resources to the more recent accounts, which the members of the Legislative Assembly could then use to make better decisions about the effective use of public money.

The Ministry of Finance, which was responsible for the task force, said the decision to have it focus on the backlog was part of a “strong desire to comply with the intent of the law” and was not prepared to ignore the past financial statements. Ministry officials said that, although the accounts were late and wrong, they still had value.

“Despite the lack of timeliness and technical accuracy… these reports still have tremendous for value to the wider public as they provide a record of the government’s finances during this period. Without them there would be no record of the government’s financial performance during this significant period – a truly unacceptable position,” the ministry stated.

The government says that while the AG thinks the task force was not value for money, as a result of its work, government was able to submit backlog accounts from 2004/05 and identify the hindrances and deficiencies in the system.

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