Archive for November 14th, 2012

FFR still bogged down in LA

| 14/11/2012 | 25 Comments

Premier moves motion (227x300).jpg(CNS): As the premier presented his third version of the Public Management and Finance Law (PMFL) amendment to bring the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility into law in the Legislative Assembly Wednesday, Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin took the opportunity to attack the UDP’s record in office. This resulted in a tirade from Premier McKeeva Bush against McLaughlin during a long response on the bill, which has still not reached thevote. Membershave yelled at each other over the FFR for a week but have still not voted on the final version of the PMFL, which includes the entire agreement as an appendix. While three UDP backbenchers have stated their intention to vote ‘no’, the opposition has offered its support following indications from the UK that the latest draft is acceptable.

McLaughlin said that, as the FFR was a government motion, the potential backbench revolt could be perceived as a vote of no confidence in the government. He spoke about Bush being “forced to eat his words” during last week’s U-turn over the FFR and the negative impact the situation over the last few months has had on the country.

“If the premier and his government are not ashamed and embarrassed about how this played out, I am downright embarrassed,” the opposition leader said during his debate on the new version of the law. “This makes us all look as though we are playing at some Micky Mouse parliament,” he said as he pointed to the waste of the LA’s time, with members debating the bill at length last week only to come and find, when the House returned, that the premier had “contritely” brought yet another bill.

McLaughlin said the members now had a new and different bill before them to debate but that finally it complied with what the premier had committed the Cayman Islands to with the UK a year ago, enabling the opposition to vote in favour.

With the possible loss of at least three votes, the premier may need the opposition’s support to pass the FFR into law as demanded by the UK. UDP backbenchers Cline Glidden, Ellio Solomon and Dwayne Seymour all said Friday that they were not going to support the bill because it would prevent the advancement of the local economy.

However, despite needing their votes to avoid whatever threats the UK’s OT minister made to Bush, he did little to court the opposition leader’s support when he launched a full scale attack on him. Bush accused McLaughlin of attempting to paint him as a “crook” in order to oust him from office.

In an effort to defend his record, the premier said it was not his fault that none of the proposed government projects had got off the ground to turn the economy around as promised. Bush said people were deliberately trying to stop him from getting anything done and continued to claim that all of the problems were down to the PPM’s over spending.

He refused to accept that the UK was imposing the FFR on the Cayman Islands Government because of concern regarding the process of procurement under his administration and insisted that it was the mismanagement of the PPM that had resulted in the imposition of the FFR. Bush said it was those “monstrosities which we cannot afford”, as he pointed to the new high schools instigated by the opposition leader when he was education minister.

Bush accused McLaughlin of doing everything he could to "paint me black” and also railed at others about the investigations. He denied all wrongdoing and said all he ever did was try to help his people. He said that some were bringing “trumped up charges” against him but in the long run, even if he lost the battle, he would win the war as one day the truth would come out. “I’ve done nothing,” he said.

Facing up to the obvious fact that the allegations regarding three police investigations against him will be forming part of the 2013 election campaign, Bush said he may not have the time to campaign against those efforts to smear him because he would be busy doing the work of the country. But, Bush said, there were a 1,000 independents running because "the people don’t want him … no one wants him; that’s why he has to paint me black,” the premier said of McLaughlin.

“No matter how much they believe McKeeva is bad, no matter how much theytry to paint me crooked, I am not. But the only way they can succeed is to convince the people and ruin me,” he said. “I have made mistakes in my life but committed no illegalities … those who write things to damage us … and they will continue because I stand up to them …and take my name and scandalize it … I stand against them and those who would sell their grandmother to be premier,” he said.

Bush said he was not concerned about the general election but that he didn’t have any ”good PR”. He  indicated that when the UDP has its party conference in January, he would let the people know where he stood as he hinted that he may be willing to step aside for good people “coming up behind him”.

However, it is not the first time that the premier has indicated that he may have had enough of politics or be tired of the job and he has usually returned fighting, denying any intentions of voluntarily stepping out of the political fray.

Bush’s tirade lasted the best part of Wednesday afternoon before the House was adjourned until Thursday, when the premier is expected to conclude his response to the debate on the PMFL amendment bill, which includes the FFR, and finally put the document to the vote.

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Latest police figures indicate further fall in crime

| 14/11/2012 | 15 Comments

police.jpg(CNS): Despite wide public speculation about claims that crime is falling, the latest set of figures from the RCIPS reveal another drop in the local serious crime rate of almost 6%. Figures relating to the end of this year’s third quarter show that drug, volume and serious crimes all fell when compared to 2011, leading to a reduction in overall crime of some 7.66%. With no murders, a 50% fall in attempted murder, a more than 47% drop fall in robberies and a reduction of close to 50% for all firearms related crimes, the RCIPS dealt with 33 less serious crimes this year than last. The most serious notable exception, however, was the increasein rape, which increased by 133.33%.

The roads also appear to be a little safer so far this year as traffic accidents overall fell by 5% and fatal accidents during the first three quarters were down by more than 57%. Overall traffic offences dropped by 1%, with speeding declining by some 17%. But people caught not wearing seat belts has more than doubled so far this year, with a startling 1,150% increase in people not wearing belts in September.

There has also been an increase in DUI’s during the course of this year, which started with a 57% increase in drunk drivers being arrested in January, followed by an 86% in April compared to last year. Overall police have arrested 13% more drivers so far in 2012 compared to 2011 for being drunk behind the wheel.

See the latest crime figures here.

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CPA admits digital signs pose danger to drivers

| 14/11/2012 | 0 Comments

digbillboard.JPG(CNS Business): Following the Central Planning Authority’s decision to refuse Dart permission to post seven digital billboards around Camana Bay, the police have also warned of the potential dangers of roadside electronic signs being erected by businesses. The CPA gave permission to dms to use digital boards at the Hurley’s roundabout last year but has now admitted that this type of visual promotion poses a danger to motorists. During a CPA meeting last month the authority refused Dart’s boards and admitted that, despite their belief at the time of granting dms permission that they would not be a distraction, they now believe they are and will not be giving permission in future for any more of this type of sign. Read more on CNS Business

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Public health confirms 8 local transmisions of dengue

| 14/11/2012 | 0 Comments

mrcuplanefittedwithcameradome_doeresized.jpg(CNS): As local officials continue to monitor Cayman cases of the mosquito borne disease dengue fever the public health department confirmed the eighth case of local transmission Tuesday. According to the latest statistics and information released by the government health department 55 suspected cases have been r investigated for dengue since the beginning of the year. From those 55, 34 results have been received so far 16 of which were positive 18 negatives and 21 cases are still pending. From the sixteen cases exactly half were caught locally as the victims had no travel history to endemic countries.

Twelve of the people who have contracted dengue are residents of West Bay which is where sources tell CNS all the local incidents have occurred.

The three people in Bodden Town and the one George Town resident who have caught the fever had travelled overseas.  Since the beginning of November five new cases have been reported with two of the suspected victims being admitted to hospital bringing the total admissions relating to dengue to 12. Five of those cases have been confirmed so far as dengue and two were ruled out.

Dengue fever is a disease carried by the aedes aegypti which is present in Cayman but does not routinely carry the fever. Dengue is being spread locally as a result of Cayman mosquitoes biting people who have contracted the disease elsewhere and then biting other people. The levels of dengue are high in the neighbouring countries of Jamaica and Cuba and as a result the MRCU is working flat out to keep the numbers of aedes aegypti, down especially in West Bay where local transmission is occurring.

For details on how to prevent catching dengue fever assisting in keeping down the relevant mosquito numbers and general information about symptoms see the fact sheet below.

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Lands & Survey promoteswork on international day

| 14/11/2012 | 0 Comments

Satellite GEO (240x300).jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands Lands and Survey Department is hosting its first ever annual geographic information systems (GIS) day in order to promote geography its importance to society and possible careers for Cayman students. While Wednesday is the international day the celebration comes during Geography Awareness Week which was established to promote the work of global geographers who use technology to capture, store, analyze, manage and present all types of geographical data. Officials will be using the day as an educational tool to promote its importance locally.

GIS merges a number of software applications and maps such as Global Posting Systems (GPS), cartography, statistical analysis and database technology with real-world applications that make a difference to everyone’s lives.

“In the Cayman Islands, GIS is used by many Government Departments,” said Juliana O’Connor-Connolly the minister with responsibility for Lands and Survey. “These include 911 to locate residents, the police to track crime, the Department of Agriculture to keep track of pests, Mosquito Research and Control Unit for specific areas of spray, HMCI to respond to hazardous events, Department of Environment, Lands and Survey as well as many private businesses to keep track of their cars.”

She said real estate agents also use GIS to locate land parcels as well as to keep track of property sales and valuations.

“We are celebrating GIS Day as an educational event to introduce students to GIS and GIS-related careers. The Grand Cayman event will take place at the Clifton Hunter High School on 14 November and the Cayman Brac event will be at the Layman E. Scott, Sr. High School on 16 November,” the minister added.

For more information on GIS Day visit – www.gisday.com

 

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TCI returns to democracy and to PNP

| 14/11/2012 | 8 Comments

DSC_0298 (1) (225x300).jpg(CNS):  Dr Rufus Ewing of the Progressive National Party was sworn in as the new premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands Tuesday, following a recount after Friday’s election. The PNP took eight of the fifteen seats, with the People's Democratic Movement (PDM) taking seven, none of which were held by the opposition party’s leader, Oswald Skippings, who failed to secure enough votes to win his all-island seat. The return to democracy for the people of TCI also sees a return to office for the political party which was ousted from office amid a corruption scandal when the UK imposed direct rule three years ago.  The former party leader Michael Misick remains in exile.

As he swore in the PNP leader, the governor Ric Todd said that the election process marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the TCI .

“I look forward to working with Premier Ewing and his ministerial team to continue the on-going effort to make the TCI a more open, accountable and better managed society,” he added.

Speaking after the results of the election were announced, the UK’s overseas territories minister in the FCO, Mark Simmonds, said he was also looking forward to working with Ewing as he offered the UK’s support to the new government in its efforts to build on recent reforms, “particularly prudent financial management, economic growth and sustainable prosperity.”

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UK looks to China for investment in nuclear power

| 14/11/2012 | 1 Comment

(CNS): As the Cayman government pulls out of talks witha Chinese company to build cruise berthing facilities as a result of pressure from the UK to get the talks back on track with best international procurement practice, the British government is currently in talks with China over an investment of billions of pounds in nuclear power stations there. Officials from China's nuclear industry have, according to reports in the UK media, been in high-level talks with ministers and officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) about a plan that could involve up to five different reactors being built at a total cost of £35bn. Environmentalists have described the move as desperate, while others have warned of security fears.

However, the UK is currently courting China cash on a number of fronts and with the UK atomic programme hit by rows over subsidies. Chinses firms have already invested in other infrastructure assets in Britain, such as Thames Water, the port of Felixstowe and the Grangemouth oil refinery. They also own businesses, ranging from Weetabix to the Gieves & Hawkes tailoring brand.

A team from the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI), an arm of the huge China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), reportedly met senior DECC officials recently to discuss a plan that involves CNNC and another state-owned firm, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation, bidding in two separate groups against each other for a stake in the Horizon consortium, which wants to construct new atomic plants in the UK.

A DECC spokesperson told the Guardian that the UK “is open for business” and welcomed inward investment into the energy sector, but any nuclear partner would be, subject to rigorous scrutiny.

Greenpeace said the bid to woo China was a last throw of the dice by government. "This is a sign of desperation," said Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace. 

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Anglin told 3 stories, say cops

| 14/11/2012 | 0 Comments

Minister Anglin & students_media.jpg(CNS): The trial of the Cayman government’s education minister for drunk driving charges opened in traffic court on Tuesday with claims by the crown that Rolston Anglin gave three different accounts of how the car smash which led to his arrest for DUI earlier this year occurred. The court also heard how police officers who responded to the accident report managed to ‘lose’ a mystery female witness who was a passenger in the car with the minister at the time he crashed into bushes by the Avalon condos on the West Bay Road in the early hours of 23 May. According to the prosecutor, Anglin recorded 0.136 in a roadside breathalyzer just before his arrest at around 3:45am.

Crown counsel Matthew Coles told the court, in a detailed opening statement relating to the case, that Anglin had given his first account sometime around 2:30 in the morning to the then Chief Inspector Angelique Howell. The minister reportedly called CI Howell asking for her help as he had been involved in an accident after falling asleep at the wheel. On several occasions during the conversation he told the senior officer that he had not been drinking but he had worked late and was tired. Howell told the minister that she would send local officers to the scene.

The second account that Anglin gave was to the sergeant who arrived at the location of the smash. The crown alleged that the minister told the officer that he had swerved to avoid an on-coming vehicle and had ended up “over here”, an indication by Anglin where the car was when the officers arrived.

In his final account, the crown stated that Anglin submitted a formal statement to the police sometime after the accident in which he gave a third and different description of how the accident happened on what was said to have been a very rainy night. Anglin said that he had attempted to turn his car around as he had forgotten to buy dog food at the 24 hour gas station on his way to West Bay. Anglin stated that he checked that the road was clear, but as he made the turn the car skidded during the manoeuvre and crashed into the trees.

There was one witness to the accident, who was sitting in the passenger seat at the time of the smash, but the unidentified woman disappeared after one of the police officers took her to the hotel where she was staying to use the bathroom before her details had been noted down.

In court the officer who had accompanied the witness described how he had taken the mystery woman to the Westin and had waited for her in the lobby, but she never returned. When he went back to the crash scene his sergeant stated that they did not have the woman’s name and she was a witness to the crash. As a result, the PC returned to the hotel but was unable to locate the mystery woman.

Meanwhile, at the crash scene Anglin was unable to tell the police the woman’s name or offer any details about who she was aside from the fact that she was a delegate attending a Caribbean conference on the island. The court heard that the identity of the woman remains a mystery.

While the officers were on the scene, Anglin got out of his badly damaged car and began walking around to inspect the vehicle. At this point both officers stated that the minister was unsteady on his feet. One of the officers testified that he also smelt liquor on Anglin’s breath when they conversed about how the accident happened and who his passenger was.

As a result, the police officer told Anglin of his suspicions and he asked him to take a breath test. The minister agreed and the result was an alcohol level of 0.136, which is over the legal limit of 0.100. At that point Anglin was arrested and taken to George Town Police Station. The minister then took another breathe test less than two hours later where he record 0.110 of alcohol.

In his formal statement, which he submitted later, Anglin said that he had taken certain medications that day, although on arrival at the police station in George town he told officers that he had not taken any medicines or drugs. He admitted, however, to drinking one Miller Lite beer sometime between 10 and 11pm on the night before the early morning crash.

According to the crown, an expert toxicologist’s report found that both the medicines which contained alcohol and the ‘lite’ beer would have both been gone from Anglin’s system by the time he took his first breathalyzer test and he should have registered a zero alcohol level.

Following the evidence of the two police officers who attended the accident scene the case was adjourned until 27 November, when the toxicologist and other officers will be called to give evidence.

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