Archive for April 25th, 2011

High school students opt for AP as standards decline

| 25/04/2011 | 0 Comments

(The New York Times): More students are taking ambitious courses. According to a recent Department of Education study, the percentage of high school graduates who signed up for rigorous-sounding classes nearly tripled over the past two decades. But other studies point to a disconnect: Even though students are getting more credits in more advanced courses, they are not scoring any higher on standardized tests. The reason, according to a growing body of research, is that the content of these courses is not as high-achieving as their names — the course-title equivalent of grade inflation. Algebra II is sometimes just Algebra I. And College Preparatory Biology can be just Biology.

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Former Hyatt owner takes battle to UK politicians

| 25/04/2011 | 33 Comments

(CNS): The owner of the site which was once the Hyatt hotel has taken his battle to the UK’s secretary of state for business and called on the British government to make good on its promise to eliminate corrupt business practices. Asif Bhatia, the owner of Embassy Investments which owns Grand Cayman Beach Suites and the derelict Hyatt site, has been engaged in a complex legal battle with one of his insurance firms for more than six years. The wealthy British hotelier has publicly criticised decisions made by the courts and implied that he has faced discrimination. Since the legal fight began neither the previous tourism ministernor the current premier has been able to do anything about the courtroom drama which has left the West Bay Road hotel site derelict.

Last week, speaking at a Cayman Islands Tourism Association meeting, backbench government MLA Cline Glidden said that the planning department was looking at enforcing legislation it passed last year which provided for a daily fine of up to $25,000 against owners who are not maintaining their properties. Both the Hyatt and Divi Tiara on the Brac are prime candidates, government has indicated.

Bhatia and his firm’s spokespersons have been at pains to point out, however, that the situation is not of their making and that the refusal of one insurance company to pay what the hotel claims it owes is the cause of the problem. The hotelier has pleaded with the CI government on numerous occasions to step in and assist as he claims that the fundamental issue is the refusal of one insurance firm to pay what it owes. In what has become a costly and complex legal battle, the insurance firm in question has denied it is at fault.

Following on from commitments made by former tourism minister Charles Clifford, which did not come to pass, when he took office McKeeva Bush also committed to addressing the Hyatt issue. However, the complex legal battle appears to also be beyond the ability of the current government to address.

The dispute over the hotel insurance settlement has rolled on for more than six and a half years. Although the owners quickly cleaned, dried and renovated the Beach Suites on the south side of the property in the wake of the devastating 2004 hurricane, the remaining 230 rooms on the north side of the West Bay Road has remained closed and continues to crumble.

Now divided by the West Bay road by-pass, the property backs on to Britannia residential condos and golf course, the owners of which have continued to complain about the situation with the hotel.

In light of recent revelations about the insurance firm and a US SEC investigation, in his latest attempt to publicise his own predicament Bhatia has called for openness and transparency and asked the UK government to make good on its promises to address all the problems of corrupt business practices.

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Forecasters predict rainy day for royal wedding

| 25/04/2011 | 5 Comments

(Telegraph): Despite earlier predictions that the sun would shine on the royal newlyweds, the most recent forecast suggests hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets on Friday will get drenched. If it does rain, it also means the public will be denied the chance to see the bride and groom in an open carriage on their way back from Westminster Abbey, as a closed-in carriage is on standby to be used in wet weather. Helen Rossington, senior forecaster at MeteoGroup, said: "At the moment, it is looking like temperatures will probably be a little bit above average (on the day) and there is a risk of heavy showers.

"Temperatures will probably be somewhere in the high teens but it is difficult to pin down so far ahead. The weather is always changing, there is that risk that we are seeing on the current outlook that we have at the moment, but nearer the time the models might change a little bit," she said.

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Blow-up warning as fund managers push boundaries

| 25/04/2011 | 0 Comments

(FT.Com): Some industry figures believe a blow-up of a Ucits III-compliant “hedge fund-lite” vehicle will take place in the next two years because managers are pushing the boundaries of existing regulation. Regulators are not able to keep pace with how managers are executing their strategies, they say. A senior executive at a US investment bank says: “I am absolutely positive that there will be a blow-up in the next two years. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.” The equity specialist, who did not want to be named, believes that European regulators are not able to keep up with the range of instruments banks are using to structure their Ucits III “Newcits” funds and are unable to understand the risks involved.

Olwyn Alexander, a partner at PwC, believes that a blow-up is most likely to come from a manager pushing the boundaries when it comes to the execution of their strategies. She says the funds that may implode are using new derivatives “not envisaged, but yet not explicitly disallowed” under the Ucits III framework.

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Rotarians honour their community heroes

| 25/04/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Four local people were honoured by the Rotary Sunrise Club of Grand Cayman who have gone above and beyond expectations to make Cayman a better place recently, officials revealed. Each of the four "Community Heroes" were awarded Paul Harris Fellow recognition, the highest award a Rotary club can bestow upon a non-Rotarian, as an expression of appreciation for their efforts in furtherance of the humanitarian goals advocated by Rotary clubs worldwide. Sue Horrocks, Alexandra Stewart Zemrie Ramoon Thompson and Gina Ebanks-Petrie were singled out by the servicr club for going above and beyond the call of duty.

The awards were presented during the club’s annual Charter Night program on the anniversary of the club’s ninth year of service in the Cayman Islands.

Ebanks-Petrie, the director of the Department of Environment and a founding member of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, refused the award unless her entire DoE team was recognized for their efforts. The honour was given to Ebanks- Petrie for the work she has done on environmental management and research, sustainable development, marine protection, and advisory services for conversation boards and committees.

Horrocks, who is head of the Junior School at Cayman Prep and High School, was honoured for her contribution to the arts and other community works, as musical director of the Cayman National Choir, founder of the Cayman National Orchestra, and an active volunteer with the Cayman Drama Society and Cayman HospiceCare.

Alexandra Stewart, is a volunteer and counselor at the Health Services Authority Mental Health Department, the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Services Family Support Unit. She is also a founding member of PAWS (Protection of Animal Welfare Society for the Eastern Districts).

Zemrie Ramoon Thompson was honoured for her work at the Department of Children and Family Services and was described as truly knowing what is happening in her community and going well beyond the job requirements to mobilize resources to assist families in need."
Rotary Sunrise was chartered in 2002 and has members who are mostly young professionals from Cayman and 24 other countries. They work hard to contribute to the local Caymanian and wider international communities, and meet for breakfast at 7 a.m. on Wednesdays at the Grand Old House.

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Young entrepeneurs compete for place at world forum

| 25/04/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS): A group of young entrepreneurs were offering their support for the free market recently as they competed for a place to represent the Cayman Islands at the Canadian Junior Achievement International Youth Business Conference, known as next Generation Leaders. The finalists made presentations on minimum wage, diversifying the economy, e-business, and Cayman’s work-permit limit, known as rollover to a panel of judges who critiqued the presentation and put questions to the presenters. President of Junior Achievement Pat Randall explained that students in the Junior Achievement programme were divided into 14 companies and each one nominated its top five students from the group. The advisors selected the top two from the five who were interviewed by a panel of judges which will select the finalist who will be announced next month.

“The fourteen finalists had an opportunity to present at the Annual Oral Presentation where a panel of independent judges decided the fate of the eight winners who would go on to represent at the Canadian business conference.”

The judges who will choose the final eight were Alison Dunkley, the Director – Compliance & Risk Management at Deloitte & Touch, Douglas Harrell, Tax Partner at KPMG and Partner at the law firm Ogier, Giorgio Subiotto.
Gabriela Roberts a year 13 student at St-Ignatius Catholic School spoke about Diversifying the Economy. She said there were few disadvantages to a free market economy but a planned economy cannot detect consumer preferences accurately. Gabriela also said there was no profit motive and a lack of competition in the planned economy.

Year 11 student at Cayman Prep & High School, Julian Solomon, is also President of his JA Company. He discussed the idea of a minimum wage for the islands workers, which he was very much against. He told the panel of judges that if you increase the minimum wage that would in turn increase the cost of doing business for an employer. He says that has the knock on effect of increasing the cost of a business’s products or services, which would in turn increase the cost of living. He argued that cycle would defeat putting in the minimum wage in the first place. Julian argued that the government needed to educate and train the people that would be earning that minimum wage.

Lydia McField, (pictured above) who is President of her JA Company and a first year student at UCCI, spoke about the Roll over policy and in favour of a reduction in the time an expatriate should be required to leave the country to break residency. The islands could benefit economically, by keeping good teachers and employees and stabilize the relationship between Caymanians and expats.

The next Generation Leaders Forum is recognized globally by JA Worldwide as the premier international conference for Junior Achievement Youth. Participants face real business challenges and develop strategies in collaboration with their global peers, University faculty and Industry volunteers. This year next Generation Leaders will be held in Kingston Ontario, at Queen’s University from August 7th through the 11th.

JA Cayman will send 8 students to the conference free of cost. The winners will be announced at the annual JA Awards Banquet to be held on Saturday 21st May at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. Businesses that would like to donate to the cost of sending the students on the trip should contact the JA Programme Director, Tara McField on 949-4306 or

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Christian Heritage Park project officially started

| 25/04/2011 | 31 Comments

(CNS): Government officially broke ground for a new monument on the site of the old Tower Building on Thursday. Almost a year after the premier announced his plans to turn the site in to a Christian Heritage Park, a ceremony was held in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving to bless the project as a whole. A Bell Tower, which is expected to be finished in time for the next Heroes Day, will be one element in a four-part project including commemorative installations to honour National Heroes. McKeeva Bush said the ground-breaking was the start of many great things to come. Officials said the project as a whole will be delivered by the National Planning Initiative, a programme to promote integrated national planning which falls under the premier’s ministry.

“Much more can and will be done to celebrate and augment our national heritage,” Bush said before the ceremony. “Our children and grand-children need to have more opportunity to benefit from our gifts as Caymanians. This Monument will represent our strong Christian heritage and will show our pride in upholding these values, traditions and aspirations. This project on the whole, will greatly enhance our capital, and its benefits will be felt and appreciated by the whole community”.

In order to facilitate this, the parking lot of the Legislative Assembly will be re-located to make room for a new public park, and this developed green space will itself be part of the overall development.

Alongside the Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development the project will be a collaborative effort with the Public Works Department, supported by the Recreational Parks & Cemeteries Unit, the Planning Department, and the National Heroes Committee. 

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Shetty receives degree in honour of public service

| 25/04/2011 | 7 Comments

(CNS): The world renowned Indian cardiologist who has plans to build a health city in the Cayman Islands was honoured by an American University with a degree last week. Although he already has plenty of medical qualifications, the University of Minnesota bestowed its highest honour of a ‘Doctor of Laws degree’ on Dr Devi Shetty as a result of his contributions to public service, according to the local press. Dr Shetty is an adjunct professor at the university’s Medical School and was described as a true visionary by university officials. The university gave out its first honorary degree in 1925 and since then it has granted 261 honorary degrees.

“Dr. Shetty is a true visionary and represents just the kind of ‘world citizen’ that the University of Minnesota seeks to recognize,” former Senior Vice President of Health Sciences Frank Cerra said in a statement. “Personally, I feel honoured to know him and to have witnessed first hand the incredible care he provides.”

Shetty, who was Mother Theresa’s surgeon, pioneered paediatric surgery in India and currently oversees the most paediatric heart surgeries in the world. He has also developed a micro-insurance program that provides coverage for 3 million people.

With plans to add another 30,000 beds to hospitals across India in the next five years, Shetty’s other major project, it is hoped, will kick start medical tourism in the Cayman Islands.

Having recently extended his heads of agreement with the Cayman Islands government in the wake of two major legislative reforms to facilitate the surgeon’s vision, the island is currently waiting for the announcement as to where his medical complex will be situated. 

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Bank CE braces for storm over $27m pay deal

| 25/04/2011 | 0 Comments

(Observer):Bob Diamond is braced for a row over his potential £27m pay deal as he is confronted by shareholders for the first time since being promoted to chief executive of Barclays in January. A trading update before the annual meeting, Wednesday will also be scrutinised for progress on extricating the bank from Protium, a complex Cayman Islands-based deal to help Barclays avoid being dragged down by its most toxic loans. In February the bank stunned observers by taking a £532m hit on Protium and analysts at Investec believe it "may be a source of impairment charges". Diamond, who took the helm after 14 years running the investment banking arm, Barclays Capital, has concluded 35% of the bank’s operations are failing to achieve his target for a 13% return on equity.

He is already pulling the plug on Indonesia, retail banking in Russia and uniting the bank’s African business under a "One Africa" banner.

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