Archive for February 17th, 2011

Heart health forum to examine latest innovations

| 17/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS):As part of the Cayman Heart Fund (CHF)’s Heart Smart Week St. Matthew’s University of Medicine will be hosting the 4th annual International Cardiac Symposium on Thursday 3 March. Targeting medical professionals, the conference will focus, on the latest developments in treating heart specific issues. Three eminent cardiologists will discuss related topics and some 300 healthcare practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, medical students and government officials including the health minister are expected to attend. Dr. Yin Medical Director of the Cayman Heart Fund and organizer of Heart Smart Week said it was important local practitioners keep up to date on the latest treatments.

"As chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes and atherosclerotic diseases continue to rise each year, Cayman Heart Fund brings together a line up of speakers to stimulate and educate our healthcare providers on new and innovative ways to battle CVD, the leading cause of death and accounts for the majority of hospitalizations, disability and overseas healthcare spending,” Dr Yin noted.

“We are very grateful for our Health Minister’s recognition of the CHF efforts and continued support of our Annual Cardiac Symposium. CHF also expresses its appreciation towards our health partners for providing three high calibre speakers this year, as well as Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Society, SMU, and CITN who remain our partners in presenting the annual symposium," she added.

The speakers for the evening event include:

Dr. Jonathon Roberts, MD, Interventional Cardiologist, Baptist Health, Miami, USA: "International Cardiology 2011- Opening Arteries, Closing Holes, Fixing Valves.”
Dr. Pamela Ouyang M.B.B.S. Professor Cardiology, Program Director, Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, Baltimore , USA : “Cardiovascular Disease in Women: Getting to the Heart of the Matter.”
Dr. Mikhail Kosiborod MD, The Heart Health Centre, Grand Cayman: “Cardiac Murmurs: Case Reviews from the Cayman Islands. ”

The three hour continuing medical education (CME) event will commence with a cocktail hour from 5:00pm-6:00pm, followed by the main attraction. The audience will have a chance to partake in a brief Q+A following each presenter’s oration. For more information on the symposium, please contact the Cayman Heart Fund at 325-2243 or caymanheartfund@gmail.com.
 

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Police call on public to find local heroes.

| 17/02/2011 | 11 Comments

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is seeking nominations from the public for a new RCIPS Community Award. The Award is open to people or organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to community safety. Described as a search for "unsung heroes" the police said they wanted nominations for those who go the extra mile to keep the Cayman Islands safe. Announcing the new Award Thursday 17 February, Police Commissioner David Baines said it was intended as a formal thank you to those people in the community that have assisted and supported the police.

“The RCIPS works in partnership with the people and communities of the Cayman Islands. We have said time and time again that we do not police in isolation,” Baines stated. We depend heavily on the cooperation and the support of people and organisations throughout the country. That support is demonstrated in many different ways – from working with our Neighbourhood officers at community events, being active in anti-crime initiatives or assisting officers during specific incidents.”

Nominations for the award opened on Thursday and close on Friday, 4 March Nominations forms are available at RCIPS police stations and on the RCIPS website (www.rcips.ky). The recipient of the Award will be announced on Friday, 18 March 2011 at the RCIPS Outstanding Service Awards event when a number of other awards will be presented.

“Despite the unique challenges presented by policing in the Cayman Islands and the often unfounded and relentless criticism our officers face, there are many committed and dedicated people within the Service who do make a positive difference in our communities,” Baines added. “This event is a celebration of that commitment and an opportunity for us to highlight the many positive aspects of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.”

Police Officer of the Year will be one of the awards presented on the night as well as Support Staff Member of the Year, Diversity Award, Police Welfare Award and Special Constable of the Year.

“Despite the unique challenges presented by policing in the Cayman Islands and the often unfounded and relentless criticism our officers face, there are many committed and dedicated people within the Service who do make a positive difference in our communities,” Mr. Baines continued. “This event isa celebration of that commitment and an opportunity for us to highlight the many positive aspects of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.”

The Awards ceremony will be held at the Ritz-Carlton and a police spokesperson stated that the Ritz is providing sponsorship for the event and all other associated costs will be underwritten by corporate sponsorship and ticket sales. No public funds will be used to finance the event.

 

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Grouper project expert explains need for protection

| 17/02/2011 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Brice Semmens, the Department of Environment’s main collaborator on the Grouper Moon Project to preserve the single remaining spawning ground in the Cayman Islands talks about the project on the website the Naked Scientist this month. During the podcast interview Semmens illustrates how vulnerable these fish are to over fishing when he explains how the Little Cayman aggregation was reduced by over 50% after being found by local fishermen in the two years before it was placed under protection. Talking about the need to continue the conservation efforts he explains that Nassau grouper have never been seen to reproduce when they aren’t at a spawning site. That means when the fish are spawning at the site that is the only time they reproduce.

“So if you mess with that event you are cutting off, effectively, any reproduction in the population, which is a very dangerous thing to do,” Semmens says.

Listen to the podcast here  and read more about the Grouper Moon Project here

 

 

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Probe sought on Mubarak family finances

| 17/02/2011 | 8 Comments

(Washington Post): Egypt Anti-corruption campaigners pressed Egypt’s chief prosecutor Thursday for an investigation into the assets of Hosni Mubarak and his family, handing over documents that they say spotlight the kind of potentially improper financial dealings that may have allowed the former ruler and his relatives to amass a large fortune. The family’s wealth – speculation has put it at anywhere from $1 billion to $70 billion – has come under growing scrutiny since Mubarak’s Feb. 11 ouster opened the floodgates to three decades of pent-up anger at the regime. At the centre of the activists’ complaint are records that raise questions about offshore companies and funds based or registered in Cyprus, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.

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Whistle-blower remains in jail

| 17/02/2011 | 7 Comments

(Swissinfo): Ex-banker turned whistle-blower Rudolph Elmer has lost his appeal against a court ruling in Switzerland remanding him in prison over possible breaches of banking secrecy. Elmer was taken into custody by police on 19 January after handing over computer discs to Wikileaks two days earlier. The former Julius Baer banker indicated the CDs contained details of as many as 2,000 offshore bank accounts. "The Court of Appeals of the Canton of Zurich dismissed the appeal of Rudolf Elmer against the decision of the court responsible for Coercive Measures dated January 22, 2001. Mr Rudolf Elmer will therefore remain in custody for the time being," said a statement from Elmer’s law firm.

"Mr Elmer and his defence counsel are currently reassessing the court’s ruling and discussing possible further steps," the firm, Tethong Blattner, said.

In a separate case earlier on January 19, Elmer was convicted of breaching Swiss banking secrecy laws by passing on private client data to the tax authorities and of threatening employees at his former company. He has already appealed that verdict.
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New financial services watchdog unveiled in UK

| 17/02/2011 | 1 Comment

(BBC): A powerful new "financial policy committee" (FPC) at the Bank of England has been unveiled by the government. It will oversee the government’s new system of regulators, set to replace the Financial Services Authority (FSA). FPC members will include Donald Kohn from the US Federal Reserve, and Sir Richard Lambert, until recently head of the Confederation of British Industry. The FSA will be split up into two new bodies tasked with curbing risk-taking by banks, and protecting consumers. The moves follow Chancellor George Osborne’s decision last summer to abolish the old FSA, whose previously hands-off approach to financial regulation was criticised in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

The new 12-person committee will be organised along similar lines to the Bank of England’s existing monetary policy committee, with a mixture of internal appointees and independent experts from outside the Bank.

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Stanford sues FBI, SEC and US prosecutors

| 17/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(Bloomberg): The indicted financier, R. Allen Stanford has sued US prosecutors and agents of the FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission, accusing them of “abusive law enforcement” and seeking $7.2 billion in damages. Stanford, who has been held without bail since being indicted in 2009, filed the lawsuit late yesterday at the US courthouse in Houston. He is accused of leading a $7 billion securities fraud scheme and has pleaded not guilty. “Mr. Stanford contends the named and unknown agents undertook illegal tactics to prosecute Mr. Stanford, starting with a civil prosecution by the SEC,” according to the complaint. The SEC sued him two years ago today.

The Texas financier alleges the federal government has used more than $51 million of his own assets to pursue the cases against him. “The agents have engaged in unfair, abusive law- enforcement methods and tactics,” he alleged.

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US prices climb higher than forecast

| 17/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(Bloomberg): The cost of living in the U.S. climbed more than forecast in January, led by higher prices for food and fuel that may be starting to filter through to other goods and services. The consumer-price index increased 0.4 percent for a second month, exceeding the 0.3 percent median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The so-called core rate, which excludes volatile food and fuel costs, rose 0.2 percent, the biggest gain since October 2009. Accelerating growth is prompting some companies to carry out beginning-of-year price increases even as consumers remain constrained by unemployment at 9 percent.

“You’re going to see more companies that attempt to pass through” higher costs, said Tom Porcelli, chief US economist at RBC Capital Markets Corp. in New York, who correctly forecast the gain in core prices. “How successful they are depends on the economic backdrop. We’re looking at a slightly firmer inflation backdrop.”
 

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Elections and parties

| 17/02/2011 | 9 Comments

It was interesting to see that many of the CNS bloggers seemed upsetby the new PPM leader’s declaration that he was planning on fielding candidates from the party in every district in 2013. Some went as far as to suggest that he was behaving like a dictator. Yet in party politics that’s what happens. The main parties field candidates in all the constituencies in order to try and win.

During his speech at the PPM party conference on Saturday evening Alden McLaughlin was not suggesting that he expected to win every seat now he was leader of the party or was in training as a dictator and it was rather silly of people to suggest as much.

What he was doing was indicating that the PPM was serious about getting back into government and was therefore going to demonstrate that by putting candidates across the country, allowing everyone to vote for a PPM representative no matter where they lived. If the party is to be what it says it is – a party of the people – then it must offer all the people who can vote a chance to support it or not.

The comments demonstrate that on the whole Cayman does not yet fully understand the political party system and has certainly not yet embraced it. The fact that the UDP and the PPM have not yet fielded a full raft of candidates in all the seats since the two parties were formed also shows that the politicians themselves have been slow to adapt to the realities of democratic party politics.

Although the PPM has endorsed groups of candidates in the past, the party itself has never run any candidates in the district of West Bay. As the premier’s constituency, it will always be difficult for any opposition to take a seat there but it should still try. In the same vein, the UDP should also be running the full number of candidates in the outer districts if it wishes to continue embracing the party system.

The main issue, however, for the future success of party politics here is the fundamental question of policies. Neither party has yet truly defined itself around a group of common policies. The PPM has, of the two parties, come closest, but the new party leader appears to be aware that there is still further to go when it comes to defining what the PPM really stands for. When the people go to the polls in 2013 to cast their multiple votes, they will hopefully be deciding on policies and principles and not personalities.

Real party politics is not, as people seem to think in Cayman, about colours. Stories (true or false) of the premier having the decoration at public events completely overhauled at the last minute because it was red merely serve to illustrate the belief that in Cayman the only differences between the parties is the players.

This owes much to both the way the party system has evolved in the Cayman Islands since the 1950s and the colonial status of the islands, where locally elected politicians have had only limited influence over policies, which were essentially decided by the mother country.

Politicians have tended to run in teams or groups as a convenient way of winning their seat against people they really don’t like. As a result, people of diametrically opposed political views have joined forces in order to defeat a common enemy, which means the electorate have not been able to vote for a government that they can predict. Even at the last election the people did not chose the policies that the current government are now pursuing when they voted for the UDP candidates, as many of them were not in their manifesto. If Bush had run on a platform of building a commercial port in East End, a 25 percent increase in fuel duty, increased work permit fees, tort and legal aid reform as well as a channel in the North Sound, it is possible that people may have made different choices – no doubt some who did not vote for the UDP may have chosen to do so while others may not have.

What democracy is really about (besides single member constituencies) is being able to elect people that the voters believe will do the stuff they want done.

Whether it be more public spending or lower fees and taxes, more or less liberal policies, private or public financing of development, more environmental protection or more development, tougher action against criminals or tougher action against the causes of crime, more spending on education or more spending on tourism – these are the things that people need to be able to consider when they are standing in thepolling booth because the political parties have made commitments to them.

This means they need a clear understanding that when they cast their vote they can be more certain about what it is they are asking for. If the party they elect then forms the government and fails to deliver they will be ousted at the next ballot. If they do deliver than they will be re-elected.

Caymanian voters who hold specific political beliefs have essentially been left scratching their heads at election time as it won’t have been easy for them to decide which of the two political parties was likely to meet those political expectations. Moreover the yo-yoing between the parties will continue if people don’t really know what they were voting for in the first place as they will struggle to measure the results at the end of a four year term.

The personality of candidates even in party politics will always be a factor and it is important for people to like their political representative, but sharing common beliefs and a trust that they will do what they say is far more important. Voters need to know that the candidate they vote for stands for a certain set of policies, values and principles and once in office, he or (certainly we hope for 2013) she will stick to them.

With the new dawn over at the PPM party headquarters, the key issue that Mr McLaughlin must focus on if the party system is to succeed is policies and finding 17 people who have a common belief system to fight the election with him. Fielding 18 people is the first step in showing he is serious about governance but to show he is serious about politics he will need to define the future policies of the PPM clearly so that all 18 candidates will be following the party line.
 

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Dump future still in question

| 17/02/2011 | 18 Comments

(CNS): The chair of the team which will negotiate with the winners of the landfill bid shortly has revealed that Wheelabrator will be the ones to decide if they want to work with Dart, even though it is clear government now wants to move the landfill. Canover Watson said there was reason to believe that the waste-to-energy experts may welcome the opportunity to partner with the developer, given the potential investment the Dart Group is willing to make. Confusion over the future of waste management arose last month following the premier’s announcement that Dart would be capping the dump — contrary to the details of the original RFP. Watson admitted there were now a lot of new questions that would need to be considered in the negotiations but Dart was not driving that process.

Questions over the collection and delivery of waste, the need for new roads between George Town and Bodden Town where the new landfill site is likely to be situated, the possibility of a halfway collection point between the new landfill and the capital, as well as how Wheelabrator will make up the economic shortfall from not being able to burn existing waste for profit at the get go, are just some of the questions that will now form part of the negotiations. Watson said it was important to consider that almost 80% of the waste generated on Grand Cayman was in the West Bay-George Town area and how that would be handled was an important factor.

Despite the fact that the existing dump was part of the original RFP, which Wheelabrator had planned to mine and burn to convert to energy, the contents of the old dump are now no longer part of the contract.

As waste-to-energy experts, Wheelabrator had bid for the contract based on the potential profit it could generate from burning the flammable materials in it. As the firm will no longer have access to that material it will now be expected to generate profit from newly generated waste going forward,  which means it could take considerably longer for the firm to cover its costs.

Speaking at the Cayman Business Outlook last month after the tendering process was closed and the preferred bidder selected, Premier McKeeva Bush announced that government had decided to move the existing dump.

"Government has decided to cap and and remediate the existing landfill and establish a new solid waste management facility, or eco-park, at a site to be determined," the premeir said.

"With our encouragement, Dart has agreed to take over and responsibly cap and remediate the existing site." The developer had agreed, Bush added, to provide a site of similar acreage to government and establish the platform for a new solid waste management facility. "We envision the new facility will include many components, including recycling, composting, and waste to energy and landfill."

He said government would ensure that any new landfill would be properly engineered with linings, collection systems and the technology that would ensure that it is environmentally responsible.

Watson, who chaired the original technical team and who will now lead the negotiations, says that having won the bid, Wheelabrator should still be given the option to negotiate under these new circumstances and that starting a new tendering process at this point would not be any fairer.

“Wheelabrator now has the option to make an assessment about the situation,” he said, adding that as the Dart Group was not the successful bidder it would not drive the process.

The goal, Watson said, was for the negotiating team to arrive at a sustainable solution that would benefit the people of the Cayman Islands and address the long standing problem of the George Town dump and future waste management.

The new aims of government to cap the old dump and create a new landfill  were not necessarily in conflict with the aims of the winners of the bid, Watson said, and he hoped Wheelabrator would see the potential benefits. He said that he would be standing firm about Dart not automatically getting the full contract if a satisfactory solution could not be found between government and Wheelabrator.

“The Dart Group did not win the bid and was not one of the three preferred choices which the technical committee selected and the CTC confirmed,” Watson added. He said the local firm would not simply be handed the contract if a solution can’t be found with the winning bidder. “We can’t just circumvent the process,” Watson said. “Dart was an unsuccessful bidder and to just say we will now go with Dart if negotiations break down is not right. The CTC process has to have integrity. We can’t undermine it.”

Although there have been no formal talks as yet with the US based firm, the team’s chair said he hoped negotiations would begin in the first week of March and that they would be able to move ahead quickly. Many of the questions and issues that now have to be addressed are of a particularly technical nature and the Department of Environmental Health has recently employed a new waste management expert that will be working with Watson and his team through the negotiations.

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