Archive for April 15th, 2011

Drug boat escapes cops

| 15/04/2011 | 47 Comments

(CNS): Over 540 pounds of ganja has been recovered from the ocean following a high speed water pursuit of a suspected drug boat last night by Cayman law enforcement. At around 9:50pm on Thursday night (14 April) the joint Police, Customs and Immigration Marine Unit was on proactive patrol within Cayman’s territorial waters when officers became suspicious of a vessel. As they approached the boat to investigate it sped away at a very high speed. The Marine Unit chased after it but the boat got away. As it evaded the police, however, the crew began dumping numerous packages into the water. (Photo Courtesy of Cayman 27)

The police followed the boat into international waters in the direction of Jamaica and the Marine Unit vessel and air operations XRAY1 made efforts to interdict the suspicious drug boat, but as it left the jurisdiction the police focused their attention on recovery of the various packages that they had seen thrown overboard. As a result, several large packages were recovered from the water, which were found to contain a significant quantity of ganja.

Throughout the night Marine Unit vessels remained on the scene recovering numerous packages as well as scene preservation until daylight, when further searches were conducted by the helicopter and marine vessels. This resulted in the recovery of more packages from the sea.

Police said Friday evening that they had recovered over 540 pounds of ganja and investigations into the significant drug haul are continuing into the matter. The recovery, they said, along with other recent drug hauls had demonstrated that the combined efforts of the Marine and Air Operations units are effective in protecting the borders of the Cayman Islands.

Any persons with information relating to this criminal activity is asked to contact your local police station or the Marine/Drugs & Serious Crimes Task Force at 949 7710 or Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS (8477). 


See police video here

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Mangroves removed for airline safety

| 15/04/2011 | 20 Comments

(CNS): The destruction of mangroves in the wetlands of Cayman Brac is said to be in accordance with aviation safety regulations. The Cayman Islands Airports Authority is removing vegetation, including mangroves, plop nut trees and silver leaf buttonwood, from the West End Ponds, which lie between the Gerrard-Smith International Airport and the main tourist area of the island. The CIAA says it is following international safety standards to remove high obstacles, including trees, around runways for the safe operation of aircraft. The Department of Environment has confirmed that there is currently no legislation which either offers protection to mangroves or requires any individual or organisation to consult with the department before clear mangroves and the CIAA are acting entirely within the law.

However, DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said they would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss the matter with the CIAA prior to the destruction of the mangroves to get a better understanding of its operational requirements and objectives to see if anything could have been done to mitigate the damage, and she said they would be pleased to do so in the future.

The CIAA is mandated to ensure that its two international airports are in compliance with the regulatory standards published by the Civil Aviation Authority Cayman Islands (CAACI) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a spokesperson for the authority said. “As such, the trees in question are in the process of being removed as a result of safety concerns and regulatory compliance requirements. Any obstacles that penetrate the G-SIA’s Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS) are either trimmed or removed following regular surveys of the runway strip and OLS,” she said, though the CIAA were unable to clarify how much of the wetland vegetation would be removed.

The authority explained that Obstacle Limitation Surfaces are a series of surfaces which define the limits to which obstacles, including trees, may project vertically into the airspace surrounding our runways to permit the safe operation of aircraft.

The West End Ponds are a wetland area that has been promoted as an integral part of Nature Tourism for the island and are home for a variety of herons, egrets and the West Indian Whistling Duck. However, they ponds lie on the edge of the runway of the Brac airport and the occasional ingestion of birds into aircraft engines, which is a safety hazard and is costly to the airlines, has been a point of contention for many years.

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First responders train for mass incident

| 15/04/2011 | 0 Comments

CNS): Focusing on the need to maintain a state of maximum readiness for any major incident that could take place in the Cayman Islands Hazard Management has partnered with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to improve the local disaster response capacity. Around fifty people are currently receiving training in Mass Casualty Management and Incident Command Systems, an area which the deputy director HMCI Deputy Director Omar Afflick needs to improve in order for first responders to ensure they are acting in unison. Afflick said the training was an opportunity “to tighten up” and ensure everyone one is ready to deal with a serious situation if it should occur. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

"Some of the skills that will be taught in the training sessions will not be entirely new to some ofthe participants, but have already been put into practice in past disaster drills and exercises, “ Afflick said in a release from HMCI. “However, the country must always maintain a state of maximum readiness for a major incident and this training will seek to improve the country’s overall preparedness and response capacity."

He explained that a Mass Casualty Incident is any event resulting in a number of victims large enough to disrupt the normal course of emergency health care services. “We could be looking at an emergency on a large scale following a situation such as an earthquake or a major fire, or perhaps something like a multi-car traffic accident,” Afflick said. “It is important to have pre-established procedures in place for rescue mobilization, incident site management and hospital reception to meet any specific challenges we face here in Cayman."

The Mass Casualty Management training is to ensure prompt and appropriate assistance to victims of disasters, minimizing injuries and ensuring that the most critical receive immediate medical attention. Some of the subjects areas covered include: emergency medicine, the organization of advanced medical posts, psychosocial care, management of bodies, division of roles, and responsibilities and tasks of the first responders.

The Incident Command Systems (ICS) course will cover the structure, functions and responsibilities of managing incident sites, responding to complex incidents and most importantly coordinating multiple agency response to an incident.

"I think this one of the areas we can really improve on and we will benefit from this training with PAHO," the deputy director stated. "It has been articulated that there needs to be improvement in some operational areas in the field; so that during multiple agency responses, all responders are working in unison and an agency (depending on the incident) will assume responsibility of Incident Commander. Indeed I think this is a good opportunity to tighten up our approach and make Cayman even better able to deal with a really serious situation, when it occurs."

The HMCI / PAHO training is taking place in the conference room at the George Town Hospital and participants include first responders such as Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Health Care Workers as well as volunteer agencies such as the Red Cross, ADRA and the Community Emergency Response Teams.


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US small businesses call for end to tax haven abuse

| 15/04/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): More than 800 business organizations and business people have signed a statement calling on the US government to stop corporate tax haven abuse, according to a news release from the corporate responsibility news wire. The business people say that tax dodging deprives the nation of revenue needed for a strong economy. The statement says in part, "Offshore tax havens reward tax evaders, rob publiccoffers of needed revenue and offload taxes to responsible businesses and households."

"Small businesses are thelifeblood of local economies. We pay our fair share of taxes, shop locally, support our schools and actually generate most of the new jobs. So why do we have to subsidize the US multinationals that use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes?" said Frank Knapp, President and CEO of The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. "We need to end tax havens and use that revenue to invest in growing our small businesses. That is how we create a healthy economy."

David Levine, Executive Director of The American Sustainable Business Council, which represents more than 70,000 businesses in the US said his members were forced to compete against US multinationals that use tax havens as profit centers.

“This enables them to drive small and mid-sized and other beneficial companies out of business. If that’s not anti-business, I don’t know what is. Let’s reclaim those dollars and use them to build our U.S. businesses and economy," he said.

Ben Kyriagis, President of Small Business Minnesota and President of World Trade Network in Minneapolis pointed out that people who use foreign bank accounts and tax havens overseas to evade US taxes could go to prison. “Yet hundreds of large U.S. corporations do exactly that every day and also claim to have the same rights as citizens. If they have the same rights as citizens they should also be subject to the same laws as all US citizens,” he added.

Business and Investors Against Tax Haven Abuse said that they support policies that end tax avoidance and evasion through offshore tax havens. The petition is cosponsored by Business for Shared Prosperity, Wealth for the Common Good and the American Sustainable Business Council.
Go to full statement


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West Bayers fight for beach

| 15/04/2011 | 115 Comments

(CNS):A community group in the district of West Bay is determined to fight to retain public access to local beaches, in particular Seven Mile Beach. The Concerned Citizens Group said it would pull up the barriers erected at access points along the West Bay Road if the Dart Group, which has recently acquired the land, does not remove them in the next few days. At a public meeting, where almost one hundred attendees pledged their support to do whatever was necessary to protect the beach access, it was clear that the people were also opposing plans by the developer to move the West Bay Road to facilitate a new beach resort. The residents appeared united in their opposition to the road re-direction, as it was seen as the last straw when it came to public use of the beach.

Plans by the Dart Group to move the West Bay Road and block off one of the last remaining access points to Seven Mile Beach were vehemently opposed, as the people suspected it would lead to access being permanently denied in the area.

The decision by Dart recently to erect posts and for other beach front property owners to string chains over access points has caused considerable concern in the community. Ken Hydes, who attended the meeting on behalf of Dart, said the posts were to stop people mining the beach (stealing sand) and not there to prevent people from going onto the beach.

With Easter only a week away, the firm sent out a press statement on Thursday afternoon ahead of the meeting encouraging people to continue the holiday tradition of camping on the beach. Dart said that all of its beach properties were available for everyone’s enjoyment, and campers were welcome

Hydes said campers could park along the edge of West Bay Road but parking on the sand tracks was not permitted. “We recently had to erect a number of posts to restrict vehicular accessto the beach due to issues surrounding the stealing of sand,” Hydes had said in the release. “The purpose of the posts is purely to restrict vehicular access and not to prevent residents and visitors from enjoying the beach.”

However, the erection of the barriers has been seen by local residents as not only as spelling the death knoll for public access to the world famous beach but also as symbolic of the continued loss of heritage to over-development.

As the people at the meeting pledged to make a stand against the barriers, there was a resounding call to action to stand against more development. Mistrust of developers was raised as the people pointed out that commitments and promises made by them had been broken.

The recent acquisition by Dart of a further large tract of land in the Seven Mile Beach area was also of concern as the developer was regarded as enormously powerful. “It’s not healthy for one billionaire to come and own all of the land,” one resident said.

Captain Bryan Ebanks, who is spearheading the Save Cayman campaign, pointed out that the proposals to move the road were not for the benefit of the local people but to improve the value of his land, and yet the crown was offering him public property as compensation for him building the new highway.

“So what are we going to do to stop this road?” he asked the attendees, as he pointed out it would be the end of beach access in the area. “If the road goes through, how do you think you are going to get to the beach? We need to execute a plan to stop the road and say no.”

Expressing their growing frustrations, the residents pointed out that their voices have not be heard and their wishes not respected, and as a result, they said, it was clear that they had to take action and the first step would be to demonstrate at the site to get their message across. They pledged to stand up for their beach access rights, which, it was pointed out, were protected by law.

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Shetty site still not settled

| 15/04/2011 | 31 Comments

(CNS): Local partners working with Dr Devi Shetty have said that the location of the proposed hospital has been narrowed down to seven possible sites but a final decision is still several weeks away. Although the group says it has now finished the design plans, where the 250 acre plot will be is still not settled. Gene Thompson, one of Shetty’s local partners and the man leading the negotiation, said that there were numerous factors that had to be to be considered when it came to finding the best place for Cayman’s Narayana Health City. However, the project was moving forward quickly and construction was planned to start before the year end, he said.

Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, Thompson said that with the implementation of two key pieces of legislation (the health practitioner’s bill and changes to non-economic medical damages) there was nothing standing in the way of the project.

“We had to get the laws before we were comfortable to move forward,” said Thompson, adding that although the human tissue and organ transplant law had not reached the legislature, Dr Shetty and the rest of the team were confident that this would be passed in short order.

He explained some of the complexities faced by the team about finding the right place — not only were 250 acre sites hard to find, there were many other factors to consider, such as height above sea level, proximity to the airport and the local road system. He said that it would be east of Savannah but given the commercial sensitivity the site could not be revealed until the deal was signed and sealed.

While he understood the scepticism about the $2 billion dollar project, which is expected to launch the medical tourism industry in Cayman, it had moved into a new phase. In the run up to the start of the work of the first hospital unit, much of the behind the scenes work had been completed.

Although this first hospital is smaller than originally anticipated at 100,000 sq ft and around 140 beds, Thompson explained that Dr Shetty had wanted to get a hospital open as quickly as possible to begin offering health services and it was decided to build a smaller unit to get things off the ground. However, there would still be more than 400 jobs created once it was opened, which would include everything from surgeons to administrative staff.

The group will be engaging a local general contractor to build the first phase, as Thompson said he was confident there was the expertise here on island. Although there had been enquiries from overseas developers to build the hospital, he was emphatic that the work would be going to Caymanian firms.

The contractor and the land would all be revealed over the next few months as the team moved towards its planning application and consultations with key stakeholders, such as the Water Authority, environmental health and the National Roads Authority, which were already underway. Thompson said the goal was to have the hospital finished by March 2013. The team has also begun the recruitment process to find surgeons and there had been over 3,000 applications from doctors around the world, he said, adding that the business staffing plan had also been completed.

The public need not be concerned about the impact of the hospital on the infrastructure as Thompson explained that it was already sufficient to support the project for the first four to five years. He said assessments had shown that there are enough empty residential units for staff recruited from overseas and enough hotel and condo beds to accommodate the patients and families. He also said that airlift capacity was enough to support the people who would be coming to the hospital for treatment.

Thompson said the community would soon see that this project was going ahead and he believed the hospital had public support.

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Trailer smash brings down power lines

| 15/04/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Power lines were brought down on Thursday afternoon in the Newlands area after a truck crashed into a utility pole on Moonbeam Drive. Police said that at around 5pm yesterday (14 April) the 911 emergency centre was notified that a large trailer truck had collided with the power lines at the entrance to the road. Officers from the RCIPS’ Eastern Districts responded to the scene to offer assistance. No one was injured in the collision however which only caused damaged to the power pole and emergency services soon cleared the road for traffic.

Police have not yet revealed the cause of the collision but it is understood enquiries are continuing.


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