Archive for October 8th, 2012

EMT punched after pile-up

| 08/10/2012 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Following a four-car accident on the West Bay Road Friday evening, in which two people were injured, one of the emergency medical technicians was punched, the RCIPS has reported. Although information from the police is still sparse, the RCIPS says that four vehicles were involved. One person who was taken to the hospital for chest pains was later arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving. A second individual was also admitted to hospital for head pain and dizziness. A police officer has said she received information that one of the EMT's was punched, though it is not clear if this person was involved in the accident or if they have been arrested.

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Cayman to host regional Olympic conference

| 08/10/2012 | 0 Comments

olympic flag.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands will welcome 130 delegates from 32 countries from across the Caribbean and Central America later this month for executive and specialist meetings of the regional Olympic committees. The Central American and Caribbean Sports Organization (CACSO) and the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) will both have Executive Committee meetings, General Assemblies and other associated gatherings. Hosted by the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee (CIOC), government is the major sponsor via the ministry responsible for sports. The CIOC described the event as “an excellent example of the CIG and the CIOC working together for the benefit of sports.”

The meetings will take place as the Grand Cayman Marriot Beach Resort on West Bay Road from 25-29 October. PremierMcKeeva Bush and the sports minister Mark Scotland will address the General Assemblies.

Regional delegates from  Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, EL Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, British Virgin Islands, United States Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela,  are scheduled to attend,.  Delegates from countries in the region without Olympic Committees, Anguilla, Curacao, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos, will also attend.

The CIOC said representatives from Vera Cruz, Mexico the host of the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC), Toronto, Canada, host of the 2015 Pan American Games, Guatemala City, Guatemala, the bid city for 2018 CAC Games and Nanjing, China the host of 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games will also be making presentations

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Lawyer plans appeal over RCIPS procedural failure

| 08/10/2012 | 14 Comments

courts good.jpg(CNS): A magistrate has ruled against an application to strike out several cases of drunk driving over a procedural issue between the police and the legal department. Magistrate Valdis Foldats said Thursday that the DUI cases still stood despite the application made by local attorney Peter Polack to dismiss the charges on the basis that the RCIPS had failed to comply with Section 82 of the Police Law. A change to the law now requires every file where someone is detained or bailed by the police to be decided by the crown before it proceeds to court. Although crown counsel conceded that the proper process had not been followed in some of the casesin question, the magistrate said this did not prejudice the accused.

Following decision that the procedural issue did not nullify the case before the Summary Court, Polack gave notice of appeal to the Grand Court. 

“Here we have a new provision piloted through the legislature by the attorney general requiring the RCIPS to take a certain course with files which was not done,” Polack told CNS in the wake of the magistrates ruling.

“The question to be answered now is whether the attorney general or DPP (director of public prosecutions) notified the RCIPS and if not why not. Commissioner Baines is not the highest law enforcement officer in the Cayman Islands nor is he a trained lawyer. He must expect a certain amount of direction from those charged with this responsibility and this has not taken place," he added.

Polack warned that his appeal could affect hundreds of criminal cases from 11 November 2010 until present in any case where an accused or convicted person was arrested and released on bail or detained in custody.

Section 82(1) of the Police Law states that: "Where a person is released on bail or detained in custody, a police officer involved in the investigation of the offence shall as soon as practicable send to the Director of Public Prosecutions all such information or evidence as has been obtained in the case."

While the crown admitted that in the several cases the files were not sent, since the local attorney made his application the RCIPS has now begun to submit files to the DPP’s office as directed by the law.

Sources state, however, that this has significantly increased the workload for the prosecutors, who now need to rule on every case as a result of the legislative change.

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Lone dolphin poses threat

| 08/10/2012 | 36 Comments

644517_474330445922043_652263431_n_0.jpg(CNS): Experts from the US who visited Cayman last week to assess the lone male bottlenose dolphin that has been attracting considerable attention recently have confirmed that it does pose a real threat as it is exhibiting serious negative behaviour. The marine mammal experts from Seaworld and NOAA were able to confirm that the dolphin is older than suspected and that the public should not approach or attempt to swim with the marine mammal as it has the potential to cause harm. Armed with more information about the dolphin’s behaviour, the Department of Environment (DoE) will be now convening a panel of international experts alongside the three US guests to discuss the best way forward for the animal and the public.

in the meantime, the experts reiterated the warning issued by the DoE for everyone to stay out of the sea when the dolphin is around, and if it approaches divers or snorkellers already swimming they are advised to get out of the water.

The three behaviour experts were in Cayman last week for two days observing the dolphinusing film and photographic footage as well as their own sightings to put together an analysis of the marine mammal’s behaviour. Although the dolphin sightings have been escalating since June of this year, along with reports of aggressive and sexual behaviour towards divers, swimmers and boats, there have been several past reports of a lone dolphin in the sound, though it has not yet been confirmed as the same animal.

Trevor Spradlin, a marine mammal biologist at NOAA's Office of Protected Resources, Laura Engleby, a marine mammal branch chief with NOAA's Protected Resources Division, and Chris Dold, Vice President of Veterinary Services at Seaworld Parks and Entertainment, all said that the boating and swimming community should resist the temptation to try get in the water and swim with, touch or try to feed the dolphin, which has been nicknamed ‘Stinky’. 

Dold warned people not to try and fend the dolphin off if it approaches because to the dolphin that appears to be some form of engagement. While you may be sending the message "Back off, dolphin!" (a natural reaction, he said), to the dolphin it is encouragement.

“The best thing is not to give him reinforcement or engage him and if he’s staying around, end your dive as quickly but as safely as you can,” he added.

Although the dolphin has sustained some past injuries, they have healed leaving scars but no serious damage, Dold said. While he is thinner than he should be, the vet thought he was relatively healthy. However, the problem is his behaviour.

All of the experts warned that there was a very genuine risk of someone getting hurt as the actions displayed by the lone male were aggressive and negative, consistent with what they know of the behaviour of dolphins when they are outside a social group. Unable to explain why Stinky has gone rogue, they said the situation was very rare, with only around 30 other incidents known. Spradlin explained that they were currently dealing with a similar situation in Louisiana with another lone male dolphin.

The marine mammal experts said that some of the things the Cayman dolphin does, such as tail slaps, opening his mouth, chuffing (a sharp exhalation of air through his blowhole), are the warning signs that ‘Stinky’ is not happy.

There is no quick fix to the situation, however. The experts said their visit to Cayman was both fruitful and interesting but it was not the end of the matter. They will be keeping in touch with the DoE to help determine a long-term solution but in the end the dolphin’s predicament would depend on the behaviour of the humans he meets and whether or not his negative behaviour is reinforced and then escalates.

Moving the mammal is not an option as no one knows anything about the history of the animal, which is estimated to be over 20 years old. Dold explained that, without knowing where he came from, it is not possible to just take him and put him with an existing pod. Although it may be possible to put the dolphin in a captive facility, Dold said, a lot of study would be required on his behaviour before that could happen. The future for Stinky is unpredictable and the vets noted that these circumstance rarely end well.

DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said her department would be starting a campaign to educate swimmers, divers and operators about what to do when they encounter the animal, but there was some legislation to help the DoE enforce the message about staying out of the water. A provision of the Marine Conservation Law prevents direct interaction with any marine animals, such as feeding them, outside the islands’ wildlife interaction zones so anyone seen swimming with or feeding Stinky could be prosecuted.

However, she said they hoped that would not happen, as she emphasised the message that not interacting with the dolphin or engaging him in any way was the only safe way forward until a longterm solution is found.

The experts were in Cayman at no cost to the public purse. They were assisted by the Department of Tourism, CITA, the Grand Caymanian Resort and Cayman Airways.

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Officials taken on tour of new school

| 08/10/2012 | 11 Comments

Mr. Eden trys out a Pod Chair.jpg(CNS): Clifton Hunter High School students showed off their new school to the members of the Legislative Assembly and senior government officials recently, when the Ministry of Education arranged tours to allow the visitors to see the school and experience the brand new facility that has caused so much controversy. Although no official opening of the state-of-the-art school has yet taken place, the students, who, according to the principal, love their new school, began attending the newly completed facility at the beginning of this academic year. According to a release from the education ministry, the official opening is scheduled for November.

In the meantime, those who visited on 21 September and 3 October were able to experience what the school’s principal has described as some of the “wow” factors at the facility. Pauline Beckford explained that students have described the school, with its great sports facilities, landscape and “pod” chairs (pictured above), as "extraordinary", as well as a new opportunity to excel.

Education Minister Rolston Anglin said it was important to share the experience of the new campus with his elected colleagues as well as the governor andother officials.

“My ministry worked exceptionally hard to complete the school over the past three years,” hesaid. “There were some very challenging times but we persevered.  I am delighted that we were able to deliver this school for the start of the school year, and can now celebrate the fact that such incredible facilities are now available for our children and community to enjoy.  Our next mission will be the completion of a new John Gray Campus,” he added, despite the ceaseless criticisms that have been made of the two new high school projects by the minister and other members of the UDP government.

Since coming to office, the current administration has used the cost of the high schools to attack the previous PPM government, and efforts were made by the current minister to change elements of the original design of the modern facilities, which were started by Anglin’s predecessor, Alden McLaughlin.

Joining the officials on these visits, Anglin said the principal of the new school was on the way to setting the high standards and expectations.

“Our job is to transform these wonderful facilities into a welcoming, caring and stimulating learning environment, with highly-skilled and passionate teachers,” he said, as he thanked the premier and his colleagues for their support to deliver Clifton Hunter, even in these very difficult economic times.

With the students now getting down to the business of learning at their new campus, Beckford said that during the first week of school the main focus was to establish a positive behaviour code and for the teachers to support the students with the orientation process.

She said the main goals for the school were instilling a positive attitude to learning and behaviour, for students to feel proud of their school and uniform, and to embed consistency in everything they do. The principal also pointed to the drive to improve on literacy and numeracy at both key stages, to involve the community through a vibrant PTA and to be a reflective community of learners striving to improve. 

She also said she is looking forward to working with the ministry to develop Clifton Hunter High School as a centre of excellence for the performing arts, which would support students in all government schools, as the students are very talented and she said there was a commitment to ensure that every child succeeds to the best of their ability.

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