Archive for September 10th, 2011

Local athletes get down to competition at youth games

| 10/09/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Competition is now underway on the Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Youth Games which officially opened on Thursday night. Among the young athletes from the 63 participating nations are four athletes from Cayman. Alexander Pascal will be competing in the men’s Javlin on Sunday while Lauren Hill competed in the gymnastics competition on Friday and finished 12th. Geoffrey Butler and Tori Alden Flowers have begun their various events in the swimming pool. So far Butler was 6th in the Men's 400m Individual Medley final and 8th in the 1500 metre freestyle while Flowers managed 14th overall in the 400 and 800 metre freestyle, but both swimmers face more races tomorrow.

For all the results from the Cayman team go to the games website here


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GT suffers worst cruise arrival numbers in a decade

| 10/09/2011 | 49 Comments

(CNS): Although government was celebrating improvements in stay over tourism this week, the cruise passenger statistics released by the DoT paint a very different picture. Only 77,735 passengers docked at the George Town harbour in July, which is the lowest number of people calling on Grand Cayman since Ivan struck in September 2004 when the island was closed to tourists. It is also the worst July since the year 2000, when only 61,328 passengers arrived. The fall of almost 33% in cruise numbers on this time last year is a direct result of the cruise liners diverting the new larger ships which are plying the Caribbean to destinations with berthing facilities.

Air arrivals, however, continue to grow with figures improving by some 7.5% this month on July 2010 with 31,407 arrivals, the highest since July 2004.

Stay-over visitors were up for the tenth month in a row  and McKeeva Bush who, is tourism minister as well as premier, said the figures were even more significant when considered against the fact that the figures for December last year were the highest for any December since the year 2000

"From February through May our tourism statistics have continued to improve and for the month of June, air arrivals were up by 7.6 percent, over June 2010. This represented the third strongest June arrival figure in 10 years. Furthermore, for the month of July, arrivals from the US are up 7.4 percent over last July, and there is a dramatic 72.1 percent increase in arrivals from Canada this July, over what we were seeing in July 2010," he said.

Shomari Scott, Acting Director of Tourism, said the growth was gratifying, particularly during these tough economic times, and illustrated that the steps being taken by the DoT were working. Working more closely with industry partners, realigning CAL and introducing new routes to boost capacity are paying dividends.

“By working with CITA and other industry partners, the department has launched a number of new initiatives and promotions that are designed to drive visitation and support local businesses and service providers. Clearly, these are delivering the desired results, as the latest tourism figures demonstrate that the Cayman Islands remains a sought after destination for families, divers, weddings and honeymoons and those simply seeking sun, sea and sand,” he said.

"As we move into the fall season a series of new promotions, including the Visiting Friends and Relatives, Dive Madness and Pirates Week deal, will be on offer to travellers to maintain the positive trend,” he added, stating that if the momentum is maintained through the end of the year the islands could achieving the goal of attracting 300,000 air arrivals in 2011.

The improved air statistics were mostly down to continued increases in passengers from Canada and North America. 1,239 people flew in from Canada this July compared to 720 in the same month in 2010, which is an increase of more than 72%. Almost 800 people visited from the US, representing a 7.4% increase from that region.

Occupancy rates at both hotels and apartments, however, did not improve on last year as in July 2010 hotels were more than 70% occupied compared to a rate of 67.2% this year. Occupancy at apartments was almost the same as July 2010 which was 47.7% and this year it was 47.6%, suggesting that the extra visitors arriving by air are staying with friends and family.

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Lifestyle diseases focus of Caribbean wellness day

| 10/09/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands joined the region in observing the annual Caribbean Wellness Day this weekend and the country’s health minister ointed to the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The theme for the day set aside for health this year on Saturday, 10 September is Love that Body focusing on so-called lifestyle diseases such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease and stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and cancer, which although the leading causes of premature death in the Caribbean can be avoided. “The importance of living healthily is sadly still underrated – at great personal and national cost,” Mark Scotland, the health minister said.

“Of course, we can – and should – make a difference by changing our diets, giving up bad habits such as smoking and by making exercise part of our lives. Healthy living is one of the best long-term investments one can ever make,” he added.

The Public Health Department, the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, the Cayman Islands Heart Fund and Foster’s Food Fair joined forces to offer free health screenings for non-communicable diseases (hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol) on Saturday at the Marriot Hotel. Public Health where staff  also have a nutrition and cancer educational booth.

A plan to tackle non-communicable diseases in the Caribbean was set forth in the 2007 Port-of-Spain Declaration after a meeting of CARICOM heads of state. Included in this declaration was the proclamation of Caribbean Wellness Day.

The alarming growth of non-communicable diseases, and their associated costs and negative socio-economic impacts, has this year also attracted international concern, with the United Nations scheduled to hold a high-level meeting on preventable chronic diseases on 19-20 September this year.  According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), this represents a major opportunity for health policy to take centre stage. This type of meeting on health has only occurred once before when the organisation met in 2001 to discuss the AIDS epidemic.

See health article by the Public Health Department below

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Legal doyen tells top cop to apologise to judge

| 10/09/2011 | 49 Comments

(CNS): One of the most respected members of the local legal profession has called on the police commissioner to apologise for comments made in the wake of a recent murder trial. Ramon Alberga QC, who although retired is still considered as the doyen of the Cayman legal fraternity, said in a letter (attached below) to the press that David Baines’ remarks that the acquittal of Devon Anglin “was a desperate day for justice for the Cayman Islands” were unwarranted and inappropriate. Alberga writes that a review of Justice Howard Cooke’s judgment reveals that he understood the issues and applied the proper principles and was obliged as a matter of law to acquit the defendant. Had he not, Alberga says, then it would have been a “desperate day for justice in the Cayman Islands”.

In his letter Alberga points out that when a judge disregards cogent evidence and reaches what is a perverse and dishonest verdict or when he blatantly disregards established legal principles, then that would be a desperate day for justice. Justice Cooke’s ruling, however, did not fall in either category, Alberga wrote, adding that the commissioner was “completely out of order” to describe the judge’s decision the way he did.

Acknowledging Baines’ right to request that the director of prosecutions conduct a review and determine if there were grounds for appeal, the leading QC said that he had no right to be “offensive and make insulting inflammatory statements” about the judgement.

See the full letter below.

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Cops hunt suspect after seizing semi-automatic gun

| 10/09/2011 | 16 Comments

(CNS): Police are hunting for a 26-year-old man after recovering a semi-automatic weapon on Friday afternoon (9 September). Officers responded to a report made by a member of the public at about 2.30pm that there was an armed man in Bodden Road, George Town. When police received the call, armed officers from the uniform support group immediately went to the location. As they arrived the suspected discarded the weapon and fled the scene. A semi-automatic pistol along with ammunition was recovered from the area and police are now looking for the suspect. In the wake of the incident Superintendent Kurt Walton said recovering the gun was down to the assistance of the community.

“This is a great example where concerned members of the public who saw a man acting suspiciously and believed he had a firearm on him took positive action to report it to us. This is the second unlicensed firearm the RCIPS has recovered in the last two days, which again demonstrates our commitment to tackle gun crime in the Cayman Islands," he added.

As the incident was taking place less, than a mile away in the Legislative Assembly the country’s elected officials were debating the violent crime wave washing over Grand Cayman. The MLAs were discussion a motion brought by the premier calling on the police commissioner and the governor to establish a crack force crime unit to clean up Cayman’s streets.

Anyone with information about gun crime in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or Confidential Stoppers number 800-8477 (TIPS).

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Preliminary rounds of Miss Universe on YouTube

| 10/09/2011 | 16 Comments

(CNS): Cristin Alexander, along with her 88 fellow competitors in this year’s Miss Universe pageant, went through the preliminary rounds of competition Friday ahead of Monday night's grand finale in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Clips of all the contestants in swim suits and evening gowns are now available on Youtube and the voting is still open on the Miss Universe pageant website until Sunday. Wearing the same patterned bikini as her competitors but in a unique, dark slinky, stylish gown, Miss Cayman Islands will be crossing her fingers that she looked good enough in both outfits to make it into the televised competition Monday.

For the first time in the history of the beauty contest the organisers are saving one spot in the semi-final for the people’s choice by allowing an open international on-line vote.

This year viewers will also be able to rank their favourites during the competition, which will be displayed live throughout the pageant.

Vote up to ten times per day in on-line poll for a spot in final for Miss Cayman Islands here

See Miss Cayman Islands on Youtube here


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MLAs unite in face of crime

| 10/09/2011 | 93 Comments

(CNS): In a surprising show of unity following two full days of division and disunity, the entire complement of MLAs united on Friday morning in the face of rising crime. The unusual display of solidarity saw all of the opposition members and the independent member backing the premier when he moved a special motion for a debate on crime calling for a special crime crack team. The premier called on the governor and the commissioner of police to recruit and deploy a serious and organised crime unit to address the increase in violent robbers after another night of violence on Grand Cayman.

McKeeva Bush explained that following the parliamentary debate he intended to call on both Duncan Taylor, the governor, and David Baines, the commissioner, to attend the Legislative Assembly and listen to members' concerns and address them directly about plans to tackle the current wave of violent robberies.

He said that the government was constantly asking about what was being done behind closed doors but he said there were rarely any answers.

Bush said that the government was committed to funding the police and had allocated some $32 million in total for this financial year. He added that only last week Cabinet had given the RCIPS another $1 milllion at their request. Bush said the government had never wavered in its commitment to fully resourcing the RCIPS but he said there had to be accountability and the public deserved to see results.

“The maintenance of law and order is an essential requisite for good governance,” Bush said. He told his colleagues that the latest figures from the police revealed that there had been 52 armed robberies so far this year and these in particular were the crimes that were generating fear in everyone.

The premier said the elected representatives deserved to know what steps were being taken to address the problem and apprehend the criminals, and while he welcomed the various long term strategies, in the short term the police should deploy a serious crime unit that would “kick the criminals where it hurts” now.

Offering his support to the police officers, Bush said a new approach was needed as everyone was criticising the police while the criminals were walking about with impunity and no fear of being apprehended.

Throughout the day every member rose to speak about their concerns about the crime wave washing over the islands and expressed the common belief that the approach to policing had to change. They said the police had to act now and act differently. Most members believed that it was the lack of deterrent and criminals simply believed they would not get caught that was at the bottom of the crime wave. There were calls for varying extremes in deterrents, from the return of the death penalty to more discipline in schools and at home. Ezzard Miller, the independent member, also spoke about arming the police with Tasers.

The fear of crime was also highlighted by most members when many of them recounted stories about their constituents being afraid to go out at night to the ATM or the gas station after dark.

Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said he believed the entire system, from the way police investigated crimes and gathered the evidence to how cases were then prosecuted, was in need of review.

He said that while the statistics might say that crime is down and that the current commissioner had addressed the gang related murders, this current wave of armed robberies, which has now escalated to car-jackings, was the stuff that struck “fear in the hearts of every person.”

“Attitudes about policing have got to change,” he said. “They can say all they want about the British style but the recent riots in the UK were down to the delay in a response from the police and then not acting forcefully enough."

McLaughlin said that ifhis lack of confidence motion served no other purpose he was pleased to see the House taking collective action.

During the debate the members also heard news of another attempted armed robbery involving a gun in Bodden Road, George Town, just a few hundred yards from where legislators were discussing the issue. 

When the premier wound up the debate the unity began to crack a little when he accused the opposition leader of being irresponsible with his no confidence motion, suggesting that Bush was to blame for crime.

He said that crime has always been of concern to government and for a long time he had been asking for a special task force but he had been told no. The premier said that from several weeks ago he had felt that something had to be done to focus the attention of the commissioner and the governor on the government's concerns that there had to be a change in approach to get results and get the streets of Cayman cleaned up.

But Bush pointed to the problem of the constitutional arrangement that still leaves the power for operational decisions of policing in the hands of official members and not the elected members. “I have asked for an action task force that hits where it hurts but if they don't agree want then. We have no way of forcing them.”

The governor and police commissioner arrived at the Legislative Assembly for the meeting with the elected members at around 3:45pm  and stayed behind closed doors until around 6:30, when the governor and the commissioner emerged from the parliament building. Taylor said the meeting had gone well and was adjourned until Monday morning.

The UK’s representative said he welcomed the meeting as the MLAs, like all right thinking people, were concerned about the robberies and he said they were closest to the ground and able to understand the public sentiment. He said there was a lot of input and a lot of creative thinking from the MLAs, who offered their support to the commissioner for anything he needs.

He said that while the governor’s office has the overall responsibility for crime, he couldn’t do it on his own.

“It’s something that all of us have to contribute to and the 15 MLAs, not just because they are responsible for voting for the appropriations but because of their connections in the districts and constituencies and they can tell us what people are saying and what they are feeling,” the governor said. “We need to stop people being scared. People need to feel they can get out about and feel unthreatened and we will do whatever we can to achieve that.”

The governor would not be drawn on his and the commissioner’s feelings regarding the serious crime unit that the premier has called for to hit the criminals hard.

Giving his view on the meeting, the premier said it had been constructive and the MLAs had a very good discussion with the commissioner and the governor, who are the main people responsible for crime. “It was very constructive and I believe we have made good ground. The officials listened to the MLAs," he stated.

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