Archive for February 11th, 2011

PPM set to make history

| 11/02/2011 | 43 Comments

(CNS): The People’s Progressive Movement is set to make history on Saturday evening when it becomes the first political party in the Cayman Islands to transfer leadership. The current leader of the opposition and founder of the PPM, Kurt Tibbetts, will be stepping down at the extraordinary conference, which is open to all, and passing on the party’s top job to Alden McLaughlin, who has been nominated by the party and stands unopposed. The PPM is opening the doors of the conference to everyone and not just its membership or party faithful as it says goodbye to Tibbetts. The new leader to be says as “the government in waiting", the opposition has a message for the whole country and not just its long-time supporters. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

McLaughlin says that the change in leadership is not about changing the core principles on which Tibbetts founded the party, but he said he would be spelling out a new vision in the wake of the 2009 election loss and expectations for the 2013 vote.

“While the core principles on which the party was founded remain sound, the PPM needs a new approach and we have to regain the reputation for being a party of vision and inclusion,” the George Town MLA said on the eve of being crowned opposition leader.

He explained that he needed to spell out the relevance of the party and of party politics, which he said was not new to Cayman as at almost every election since the 1950s candidates had run in alliances or teams of some kind. “It’s not party politics that people have had enough of but the politics of the parties,” he said, adding that was the issue that needed to be addressed. McLaughlin said the conference would reveal how the party would regain the people’s support.

Most people in Cayman, McLaughlin said, outside of the UDP’s direct patronage were worse off today than they were two years ago. Having said that, however, the heir apparent to the opposition leadership said that did not mean the country would automatically switch to the PPM at the next election.

Despite the failure of the government to kick start the economy and the concerns about the government ignoring the rule of law, he said there was a still considerable amount of work to do to look at where the PPM had gone wrong and what it had to do going forward to be in a position to take office at the next election.

He said the party conference was an opportunity for the country to see democracy in action and political process as it should be. “Change was an important part of stability,” he added, as he called on everyone to come and see for themselves how the PPM would be moving forward and changing some of the perceptions people have about the opposition party’s position on a number of issues.

The national extraordinary conference will take place on Saturday evening at 6pm at the Mary Miller Hall and is open to all. Everyone is invited and people do not need to be party members or voters to attend. 

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Rugby finds soft landing on 7MB

| 11/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Have you ever drawn a line in the sand and told someone not to cross it? Welcome to the world of Beach Touch Rugby. Seven Mile Beach is a great place to relax. It’s also a great place for sports and on Mondays from 5:15pm. there’s a new sport hitting the sand. It’s fast, it’s frantic and it’s great fun. Beach Touch Rugby! This form of rugby is open for everyone as men and women play side by side. The rules are simple. You run forwards and pass backwards. The “tackle” is replaced with a “touch” and the winner is the team that scores the most tries. You literally cross that line in the sand. You get six attempts or “touches” to score a try and if you don’t score or if you drop the ball then possession passes to the other team.

A tournament may be developed later this year but at the moment people are just encouraged to come down, have a go and join in the fun. Organizer Sharlee Henshaw says, “Beach touch is a great workout in a great location and at no cost. To be able to play sport on the beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea is something which I consider to be very lucky to do. The sand makes less impact on the joints but is a slightly more challenging exercise. Saying that, everyone is able to play, whether they’ve played touch before or not. I love seeing new people giving this sport a go.”
 

So the challenge is out there, go cross that line in the sand! If you’re a lover of rugby in whatever form, Beach Touch Rugby is a great way to hone your skills and keep fit. And if you have never played rugby in your life then it is a great way to start in the friendly atmosphere of a social game with a cracking bunch of guys and girls. As Bertie Bassett once said, "It’s a game for all sorts!"
After a session there are the added attractions of an ice cold drink or a dip in the ocean. Either way, get yourself down to the beach at Royal Palms every Monday at 5:15 p.m. for a great time. For further information about this or any other touch rugby events, please email Sharlee at CaymanTouchRugby@hotmail.com.
 

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Mubarak Leaves Egypt in Turmoil

| 11/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(Bloomberg): It took 18 days of pressure from Cairo protesters as the US and the European Union called for change to end the 30-year presidency of Hosni Mubarak, who kept peace with Israel, battled Islamic militants and preserved American interests in the Middle East. His departure came after violence killed more than 300 people, according to the United Nations, with police sometimes firing on demonstrators and pro-Mubarak forces attacking as well. Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world, which holds more than 50 percent of all known oil reserves.

The replacement for Mubarak — who said just yesterday that he would stay until September elections while handing powers to his vice-president — must have democratic legitimacy, former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said in a telephone interview before Mubarak said he would leave.

Egypt is now at a stage of development in which it is reasonable and expected by the population,” Brzezinski said of the need for a leader popularly elected in free and fair elections.

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Funds and banks pile into madoff claims

| 11/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(Reuters): Hedge funds and banks are piling into the secondary market for claims against Bernard Madoff, buoyed by the trustee’s success in recouping victim’s cash, one of Britain’s biggest hedge fund market makers said.The price of holdings in Madoff "feeder" funds such as Fairfield Sentry and Kingate has risen to 7 or 8 cents on the dollar from 1 or 2 cents six months ago on the secondary market, while buying a bankruptcy claims from a direct investor with Madoff can cost 30 or 40 cents."In the last three months it has increased dramatically," said Neil Campbell, head of alternative investments at brokerage Tullett Prebon, which makes a market in these stakes.

"We’ve had these positions on our books for two years, and two years ago you couldn’t get a price. Up to six months ago it’s been one or two cents in the dollar, as optionality, but now it’s become more serious because there’s more competition," he told Reuters.

The secondary market in hedge fund stakes has been growing in recent years as investors look for ways to cash out of funds that have locked up clients, while specialist buyers prepared to wait for their gains hunt for a bargain.

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Robber tries stick up at KFC

| 11/02/2011 | 13 Comments

(CNS): A man armed with a gun attempted to rob the KFC in Shedden Road, George Town last night but got away empty handed. Police said that at about 8.20 on Thursday night a man armed with what appeared to be a firearm entered the takeaway restaurant and pointed the weapon at staff and demanded cash from the till. When it was explained that they did not have the key to open it the would be robber ran from the premises. No property was reported stolen, no shots were fired and no-one was injured in the incident, police confirmed.

The suspect is described as a male 5’6" tall, slim build, about 30-35yrs old, dark complexion and short shaven hair. He spoke with a mix of Jamaican and Caymanian accents. He was wearing black pants and a black shirt. His face was covered by a dark coloured bandanna.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact George Town CID on 949-4222 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).
 

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Miller aims for basic wage

| 11/02/2011 | 48 Comments

(CNS): The country’s only independent representative in the Legislative Assembly is making another bid to try and introduce a minimum wage by asking for a change to a proposed amendment to the Labour Law. Government is intending to bring an amendment to the existing bill to remove the current limits on severance, retirement and compensation. Although Ezzard Miller says he supports the changes, he is requesting that government take the opportunity to add a minimum wage to the bill as well. Miller has made a number of previous attempts to introduce a minimum wage but has so far failed in his efforts to get it onto the statute books.

The North Side representative, however, feels strongly that the country needs a minimum wage to stop the exploitation of foreign workers, which in turn prices Caymanians out of the job market at a time when unemployment is rising among local people and the social ills directly related to that are increasing.

“We have to have a minimum wage,” Miller stated. “It is one of the issues that is keeping Caymanians out of employment as only those from overseas who are living in cramped conditions, sharing rooms and remaining silent about the exploitation are able to manage on these very low rates being paid by some employers. Locals have responsibilities here to look after their families, so they can’t survive.”

Although there is still opposition in the business community to the idea of a legislated minimum wage, he said there had to a be a line drawn about the basic amount below which it was unacceptable for anyone to work.

“The country must recognise that there is a point below which it is unacceptable and it essentially becomes slavery,” Miller added. He said he felt that the legal minimum to begin with should be CI$5, which he acknowledged was still not very much but when employers were paying less than $3 in some cases it was a starting point for offering some kind of protection to workers.

He said most nations now accepted that there was an absolute minimum for all workers and that introducing the basic rate of pay should be across the board and not different levels for different sectors. “There is a point at which no employer should ask a person to work in any professions for any less and that should be five dollars,” he added.

Miller will be tagging on his amendment to the Labour Amendment bill 2011, which currently focuses on removing limits on severance pay and other workers compensation awards to provide one week’s salary for each yearworked, no matter how long they have been employed, removing the current twelve week limit.

Previous attempts by Miller to have government introduce the minimum wage have included amendments to the penal code to make paying less than $5 per hour a criminal offence and to the immigration law to prevent work permits being issued to employers for any post that pays less than $5 per hour.

The members of the Legislative Assembly are expected to return to parliament on 21 February where they will, among other issues, be debating the above amendment, the money services and the evidence amendment bills, as well as formalising this year’s extra public holiday to mark the wedding of Prince William to Katherine Middleton in April. 

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Power company enjoys 38th profitable year

| 11/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Fortis, the parent company of CUC, reported net earnings of $285 million, or $1.65 per common share, for 2010, up $23 million from earnings in 2009. In a release on its annual results, the firm said it had raised its annualised dividend for shareholders for 38 consecutive years, which was a record for a public corporation in Canada. Despite the continued profit, the firm said its companies in the Caribbean only contributed $23 million to earnings compared to $27 million the year before. Among the numerous issues cited for the decline Fortis said the cooler-than-normal temperatures in Grand Cayman in the second half of 2010 was one of them.

Despite the poor performance in the Caribbean region, shareholders enjoyed healthy payouts. Dividends paid per common share were $1.12 in 2010, up 7.7% from $1.04 paid per common share in the previous year. The dividend payout ratio was approximately 68% in 2010. Fortis increased its quarterly common share dividend to 29 cents from 28 cents, commencing with the first quarter dividend payable on 1 March 2011, which translates into an annualised dividend of $1.16.

"For the second consecutive year our capital program surpassed $1 billion, reaching a record approximate $1.1 billion in 2010," said Stan Marshall, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fortis Inc. "The US$53 million 19-megawatt hydroelectric generating facility at Vaca in Belize was commissioned last March and completes the three-phase hydroelectric development for the Macal River. Several significant capital projects continued throughout 2010 and are slated for completion in the coming months.”

Fortis is the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada, serving approximately 2,100,000 gas and electricity customers. Its regulated holdings include electric utilities in five Canadian provinces and three Caribbean countries and a natural gas utility in British Columbia, Canada.

"We will continue to pursue acquisitions of regulated electric and natural gas utilities in the United States and Canada that will add value for our shareholders, ever mindful that the priority of Fortis is to meet our obligation to serve customers," the firm’s boss said. 

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Police go on road seeking information on Anna

| 11/02/2011 | 13 Comments

(CNS): With still no trace of missing landfill worker Anna Evans the police took to the streets on Thursday lunchtime in the hope of jogging the memory of drivers who may have been in the same area two weeks ago when the 37 year old mother of five disappeared. Officers spoke to motorists and passers-by in the hope of discovering information that could assist the ongoing enquiry. Anna was last seen by colleagues at the George Town landfill site around noon on 27 January but since that time there has been no trace of her. The search will continue this weekend when the volunteers from the civil service and other associations will join Anna’s friends and family in a full scale search.

Although the police say that they have completed the search of the landfill area and the overseas specialist canine handler’s unit has now returned to the US the RCIPS is continuing the search but is urging members of the community to search their land and outbuildings. A poster has also now been published and circulated around the island as police continue to hope that some information will be forthcoming that can offer a clue about what has happened to the missing woman.

“We are extremely grateful for the support and the help provided by the public so far in the search for Anna,” said Acting Superintendent Richard Barrow. “Since Anna disappeared the community spirit demonstrated by people throughout the Island has been absolutely outstanding. We need that support to continue as we try to find answers for Anna’s family and establish what led to her disappearance on 27 January."

Yesterday the Business & Professional Women’s Club of Grand Cayman, whose members said they were deeply concerned over Anna’s disappearance and will be joining Saturday’s organised search, urged the community to help and support the effort. It said that as a club that advocates for the rights of women and children Anna’s disappearance invokes a sense of urgency in the Club to take a very strong stand. Members said they would be raising the issue of the need for stronger sentences for violent crimes against women and children in the public domain as well as the need to protect Cayman’s borders and to control the drugs trade and related crime.

Anyone who has any information at all that may help with the investigation is asked to call the hotline on 526 0911

 

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Government delegation heading to Spain

| 11/02/2011 | 59 Comments

(CNS): The deputy premier, who is the minister with responsibility for communications, will be leading a Cayman delegation to Spain for the Global System for Mobile Communications Association Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and the team will be leaving the Cayman Islands Friday for the four day conference, which is an annual telecommunications industry event, bringing together mobile telecommunications providers, regulators and policy-makers, officials said.

According to the website it is the “best venue for mobile industry networking, finding business opportunities, and making deals,” where “more than 1,300 companies displaying the cutting-edge products and technology that will define the mobile future.” It also says that the 49,000 people from the 192 countries that attended last year were predominantly from the commercial sector.

The minister will be accompanied by her Executive Aid Paul Leonce, Chief Officer Kearney Gomez, Director of the Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA) David Archbold and MLA Cline Glidden. With the premier still in the UK, Rolston Anglin is currently acting premier, so Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam  will act as the deputy premier. Officials said O’Connor- Connolly will return to the Cayman Islands on Thursday, 17 February.

See details of conference here

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