Archive for December 3rd, 2012

Driver ‘serious’ following weekend car smash

Driver ‘serious’ following weekend car smash

| 03/12/2012 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Police have confirmed that one man remains in hospital in a serious condition following a road crash in the Savannah area in the early hours of on Saturday morning. An RCIPS spokesperson said that at about 2.15am on 1 December, a Toyota Ceres, which was traveling east, and a westbound Honda CRV collided on Shamrock Road, close to Savannah Primary School. Emergency services attended the scene and both drivers were conveyed to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town. The male driver of the Toyota was released from hospital after being treated for minor injuries. The driver of the Honda, who sustained serious injuries in the crash, remains in hospital in a serious condition, officials stated.

Anyone who witnessed the crash is asked to call Bodden Town police station on 947-2220.

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Regional university gives Mac honorary doctorate

Regional university gives Mac honorary doctorate

| 03/12/2012 | 133 Comments

Premier Bush delivering his address.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands premier is to receive an honorary doctorate degree in public service from the University College of the Caribbean, officials said in a release Monday. McKeeva Bush will receive the special qualification at the university’s commencement ceremony next week in Kingston, when he is expected to speak on the subject of Integrity. Announcing the award, the UCC pointed to his years of public service and efforts to improve the lives of Jamaicans in Cayman, in particular, the “politically risky but principled decisions which Bush made to improve the standing of many expatriates” with the granting of Caymanians status in 2003 to almost 3,000 long term residents in Cayman, of which a considerable number were Jamaican.

In a press release the university also said that Bush had made continued efforts to improve the “relationship between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands". It also acknowledged Bush’s status as “Father of the House”, the longest serving legislator in Cayman, having served as a member of the Legislative Assembly continuously since 1984.

Although some here in Cayman are likely to disagree, the university stated that Bush’s party was credited with steering Cayman back to a path of recovery and viability following the devastation of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, when Bush was leader of government business, as well as minister of tourism. Bush was LoGB at the time of Ivan in September 2004 but he lost the May 2005 election to the PPM, the administration that presided over the vast majority of the infrastructure redevelopment. Ironically, Bush is believed to have lost the 2005 election largely because of the “status grant” giveaways.

As a result of his award, Bush will address UCC’s Fall 2012 Commencement Ceremony under the theme "Integrity: the Language of Leadership".

This will be the premier’s second honorary degree as he currently holds a master’s degree from the International College of the Cayman Islands.

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Reef building corals to be listed as endangered

Reef building corals to be listed as endangered

| 03/12/2012 | 4 Comments

7901elkhorn-coral (300x281).jpg(CNS): The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) is planning to list 66 species of reef-building corals under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The listing will prohibit the extraction, importing, exporting and commercial activities involving the species seven of which are threatened and endangered species in the Caribbean. In the wake of the announcement Dr John Ogden, Professor Emeritus, Integrative Biology, University of South Florida and SeaWeb Board Member said the move would help draw attention to the sensitivity of coral reefs to over-fishing, pollution, climate change and acidification.

“It will also provide a powerful way to engage the public and convince policy-makers to develop the tools that will advance ocean resource conservation, management and governance and energy policy,” he added in a press release.

The announcement of the proposal by NOAA comes following a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to list 83 coral species as threatened or endangered
NOAA initiated a multi-year effort to conduct a biological review of 82 species of coral, which resulted in the publishing of a peer-reviewed report incorporating scientific and commercial data on the corals. In addition to the scientific assessment, the proposed listing will include a full analysis of economic impact, as well as public comments on the proposal. The final listing decision will take place this month.

“Corals are a critical component of the ocean, yet they are dying at an alarming rate and so gaining protection for 66 species of corals is a big step toward a healthier marine environment,” said Dawn Martin, President of SeaWeb. “With increasing threats to corals from ocean acidification to ocean warming, measures like this are essential to help buffer coral from other threats and help them better cope to changing environmental conditions — we applaud NOAA’s proposal.”

Corals play a critical role in the marine environment including providing marine life with food, serving as shelter to more than 25% of fish in the ocean protecting coast from storms and surges, and serving as nursery grounds and areas for reproduction. However, corals are under threat from climate change, pollution, ocean acidification, destructive fishing practices, and extraction for trade purposes. Stressors like climate change exacerbate corals’ susceptibility to additional threats such as disease, storm damage and competition from other organisms.

Many species of coral take years or decades, even centuries to recover from a disturbance, further intensifying the effects of environmental or human-induced impact.

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Policies required to address 17% gender pay gap

Policies required to address 17% gender pay gap

| 03/12/2012 | 16 Comments

images_40.jpg(CNS): The community affairs ministry, which has responsibility for gender issues, is now focusing its attention on addressing the pay gap which sees women earning some 17% less than men, despite being equally, if not better, educated.  Following revelations in the 2010 census about the significant difference between the pay received by men and woman, specific gender information has been collated into a new brochure, which is expected to assist, not just the public sector, but the private sector as well with the need to address society’s gender inequalities. Policy makers will be able to use these statistics to make critical decisions across a variety of subject areas that will work towards improving the identified gender gaps. 

The Minister for Community Affairs, Gender and Housing, Mike Adam, pointed out that the census has now confirmed long held concerns.

“Previously only suspicions or anecdotal evidence suggested pay discrimination was an issue in the Cayman Islands, but the data from the 2010 Census that is highlighted in this brochure reflects that pay inequalities do indeed exist between women and men at all levels,” he said.

The new brochure points to the statistics which show that in 2010, on average, women were paid almost 17% less than men, and they earned less whatever their educational level. There were also some very large income gaps by sex and occupation, with females in elementary occupations earning an average of 64¢ for every $1.00 that a man earns.

When it came to education, however, the data confirmed once again that females are accessing educations systems more than men. In 2010, a higher percentage of women were attending school for both full-time and part-time study, and females were also more likely to have an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree or higher. In 2010, 18.3% of girls aged 15 years and older had passed no examinations, compared to 21.5% of boys in the same age group.

Regardless of the higher education acquired by females compared to males, this unfortunately did not translate in broad terms to equitable pay rates with their male counterparts.

The ministry’s senior policy advisor for gender affairs, Tammy Ebanks, said she was very pleased with the brochure, which is expected to help focus attention on the realities of inequality.  

“The final product strikes a balance between visual appeal and clear presentation of important data," she said. "It really provides a concise and simple snapshot of the differences and similarities between men and women in the Cayman Islands, and I believe it will be of interest to the public.”

The statistics cover population, education, health, economic activity and home ownership and also break down the data to show differences among Caymanian and non-Caymanian males and females in many areas. Respective levels of education, the likelihood of having health insurance or chronic health conditions, average income and other information relevant to the people of these islands are all presented as engaging info-graphics. For ease of interpretation, the data is also accompanied by explanatory text.

Betty Talbert, the deputy director and chief statistician from the ESO, recently presented the data at a regional CARICOM seminar, where participants described the project as a ground-breaking model which should be followed by other countries within the region.

The brochure is currently available online at and and hard copies will be produced in the very near future. Officials encourage the public to read the brochure and to learn more about their rights and obligations under the Gender Equality Law and other legislation that promotes non-discrimination.

If any person believes that he or she has been discriminated against contrary to the Gender Equality Law, he or she may file a complaint with the Gender Equality Tribunal. For more information persons are invited to contact the Secretary at or 244-3226 or visit

See brochure below.

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Board chair confirms NYE liquor extension

Board chair confirms NYE liquor extension

| 03/12/2012 | 3 Comments

New Years Eve iStock_000021156147XSmall.jpg(CNS): All liquor licence holders have been granted extended opening hours this New Year’s Eve. Mitchell Welds, the board chair, confirmed Monday that holders will be permitted one additional business hour beyond the regular closing times specified on their licences. “The extension applies to all seven categories of licences,” Welds said.  “But different categories have different closing times.” He also reminded business owners that licence stipulations will still be in effect. “Liquor sales and the playing of music must cease during the last ten minutes of permitted opening hours for retail, hotel, restaurant and beer/wine categories of licenses and all customers must vacate the premises before closing.”

For more information, licence holders and members of the public may contact the Liquor Licensing Board Executive Secretary, Marva Scott on 244-3168 or email

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West Bay remains dengue fever hotspot

West Bay remains dengue fever hotspot

| 03/12/2012 | 6 Comments

Aedes_aegypti_feeding (234x300).jpg(CNS): With another confirmed case of dengue fever in a patient with no recent travel history, at least sixteen people have contracted the disease locally over the last few months. According to public health officials, most of those were resident in West Bay, where the majority of all patients who have been confirmed with fever were living. Since the beginning of the year, public health officials have tested 73 people suspected of having the fever. So far, results have been received for 53 cases, 27 of which have proved positive. Of those 27 confirmed cases, 10 have reported a travel history to endemic countries and 16 had no travel history, suggesting that they acquired the dengue locally.

One patient has not been reached and officials say they cannot confirm whether or not the patient contracted the disease here or overseas.

According to the most recent statistics, 13 of the local transmitted cases were contracted by patients living in West Bay, two in George Town and just one in Bodden Town. Of those that are believed to have picked up the fever overseas, five live in West Bay, three in George Town, and one in Bodden Town.

Since the start of the year, some 18 people have been admitted to hospital with suspected dengue fever and ten cases have now been confirmed. Two suspected cases proved negative, while six of those admissions are awaiting results. A further 14 patients who were not hospitalized are also waiting on results.

It is now more than one week since any new suspected cases were reported, health officials said, and they believe that, with the end of the rainy season, there is now a downward trend in transmissions.

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C for who?

C for who?

| 03/12/2012 | 63 Comments

Since the launch of the coalition for Cayman group, which calls itself C4C, there has been some interesting public reaction to the idea of the third group. On the one hand, the objective and purpose stated by the the group sounds reasonable, serving as a public awareness and advocacy group to "help" us better assess political candidates.

The problem with the launch is that we were also told by the opening MC on the night something to effect of "these people here behind me plan to address the issues in this country". It became very clear into the first plate of jerk chicken that the C4C was either an overly ambitious PAC/think tank or a very poorly disguised bunch of aspiring politicians.

I will leave it with you to decide which description suits best. But I would like to offer an opinion: the first and most important issue with the C4C is not whether the individuals are reasonable candidates, because 1 or 2 of those affiliated with the group are potentially qualified to run for office (subject to hearing and assessing them during the campaign of course).

The issue is one of trust, or rather lack of it. If, for example, the C4C is truly for country, it should take this stand irrespective of whether certain individuals are a member of or affiliated with a party. For example, wouldn't we see someone like a Moses Kirkconnell on stage with them? Or is it the case that "working with Moses" conflicts with the political aspirations of a member of the C4C?

Instead, what we have seen is a group that is, by definition, anti party. So is the C4C saying that a party of qualified and well intended individuals is bad for the country because of the organisational structure they have chosen? (I don't believe either party can be described this positively right now but that's besides the point.)

Before it wastes a lot of money or, more importantly, our time, the C4C should very quickly revisit the conflicting messages from its first night on the town. If being anti party and essentially trying to sneak support for a few ambitious candidates is the crux of the plan, then it should consider spending that money in other ways, for example, by creating a real think tank policy body that researches key issues and finds ways to distribute its analysis in a manner that is accessible to the wider public (and not just the elite).

A lot of people agree that the country has become more divided, that the economy has got worse and that both political parties have much to do with that. But to believe that simply switching one group for another just because the new group does not use the word 'party' in its name would be a huge mistake. That's like saying that McKeeva Bush has great respect for process and doing things in a competent manner, or that Alden Mclaughlin is a down to earth leader whose political executive rallies around him and is a man who loves to present issues and solutions in an articulate manner to the people.

The country desparately needs a change. And the C4C and similar groups have a great opportunity to help us get there. But it has had a terrible "soft launch" and it needs to tell us what it really is (and most of us would likely be happy if it just stuck to that story, whatever it is).

Finally, and importantly, it needs to very quickly tell us about its vision for the country with some hard specifics on what it feels needs to be done. We all know that the "plan" by both parties is to stuff a 50 page manifesto down our throats about two months before election day, which theywill pray we don't actually read.

If the C4C could address at least that issue then perhaps, just maybe, they could add value after all. And that would tell us what the last letter in C4C really stands for.

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Prince William and Kate expecting a baby

Prince William and Kate expecting a baby

| 03/12/2012 | 11 Comments

kate middleton_0.jpg(BBC): The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby, St James's Palace has announced. Members of the Royal Family and the duchess's family, the Middletons, are said to be delighted. A spokesman said the duchess has been admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in central London with acute morning sickness and is expected to stay for several days. The royal baby will be born third in line and in direct succession to the throne. He or she will one day be head of the armed forces, supreme governor of the Church of England and subsequently head of state of 16 countries. Catherine and William were married at Westminster Abbey in April 2011. The duchess was last seen in public on Friday when she visited her old school St Andrew's School in Pangbourne in Berkshire.

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Shetty announces heart surgery giveaway

Shetty announces heart surgery giveaway

| 03/12/2012 | 18 Comments

dr-devi-shetty.jpg(CNS): The renowned Indian heart surgeon who is developing a health city in the Cayman Islands to serve the Caribbean and American region is offering 100 free heart surgeries to those in need as a way of introducing his health group to the people of this region ahead of the Cayman hospital opening next year. If patients can raise the money for a flight to India, then everything, including all of the accommodation costs and medical treatment, will be paid for by his medical group, Shetty said. The operations, which are targeted mostly for children, will be performed at the hospital in Bangalore.

From now and over the next twelve months, with the assistance of local medical officials in the region in identifying those in need, Shetty hopes to assist vulnerable people, such as children and young mothers. The giveaway is open to everyone in the region who needs surgery and Shetty’s Caymanian partners, Gene Thompson and Harry Chandi, will co-ordinate arrangements.

“Heart surgery is one of the most expensive operations, and less than 10 percent of the world’s population can afford it,” said Dr Shetty, “We are acutely aware of the economic crisis affecting the region, and its impact on the working class and poor. We would like to lend a helping hand and assist those who need it most.”

The donation includes the surgery, meals and accommodations for a patient and a family member. They will be met at the airport and accompanied throughout the process to ensure everything runs smoothly. Patients are expected to take care of the cost of air travel to and from India, but options are currently being explored to defray or eliminate these travel costs.

About two years ago, 4-year-old Leonisha Lofters from Cayman traveled to India with her mother to undergo heart surgery. Leonisha was born with serious heart problems and surgery was essential to prevent the need for a transplant in the future. 

The flight to Bangalore and other expenses were covered by donations made to a fund spearheaded by Robert Hamaty, owner of Tortuga Rum Company, where Leonisha’s father is the head baker. Hamaty approached Dr Shetty through his associates in Cayman and the surgeon agreed to perform the life-saving operation for free.

She spent two months at the hospital with her mother, and today is faring well with a normally functioning heart. The family’s health insurance would not have covered the costs of the surgery. Dr Shetty and his team are hoping to repeat this success story for other heart patients in Cayman and the region by offering these free surgeries.

As a benchmark, the average cost for heart bypass surgery in the United States is well over $50,000, far beyond the means of uninsured impoverished families. In India, Dr Shetty offers cutting-edge medical care at a fraction of what it costs in most other countries.

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Shetty to inject $7m a month

Shetty to inject $7m a month

| 03/12/2012 | 67 Comments

shetty ground brkg (222x300)_0.jpgCNS): The construction of Dr Devi Shetty’s hospital will inject around $7 to $8 million into the local economy each month once it gets underway and will employ more than 200 people. Gene Thompson, the local project director, said that, according to the team working on the project, Health City Cayman Islands, the commitment to employ local labour and purchase materials locally remained. With the plans now submitted and a hearing date on 8 January, Thompson said construction would be underway in earnest on the first phase before the end of the month. He said the construction pad was already complete at the site in East End, where around a dozen people were currently working.

Speaking a press briefing Friday to update the media and the public about the latest developments, Thompson admitted that there had been some starting and stopping as far as the project was concerned because of regulatory issues, but the team was confident that everything would be in place soon. As a result, the original target opening date of November 2013 has been pushed to early 2014.

“We can only go as fast as the process will allow and it is a complex project, but everything is moving and we are confident that the project is on track,” he said.

Although questions have been raised about the ability of the local infrastructure to sustain the project, which will go to 2000 plus beds over the next fifteen years, Thompson said that the airport and roads would be able to sustain the first phase. However, in time the airport would become an issue, but he was confident that would be dealt with as it was required in general and not just to support this particular development. 

Thompson promised that the Shetty hospital would be a sustainable project that would be almost self-contained and utilise a number of green measures. Landscaping, he said, would be all local vegetation. 

The group is still working with government, in particular the health minister, on issues such as the human tissue donation law, which, Thompson said, was expected to be in place by early next year. Most of the other issues that had delayed the project had been addressed.

On a visit to Cayman to announce his intention to give away 100 heart operations for free around the region, Dr Shetty said he was very pleased with the pace with which the project was moving.

“We are14 months away from the first heart surgery at Cayman Health City,” Dr Shetty said, revealing that the team have also identified the senior people in the US who will head up the hospital once it opens.

Focusing on heart patients, he explained that with around 40 million in people in the Caribbean, more than 20,000 of them will need a heart operation each year, otherwise they will die. In reality, only around 1,000 of them ever get access to the treatment. Health City Cayman Islands would change that, he said, pointing to the goal to build up a centre of excellence. A regular heart bypass in the Cayman hospital is going to be about US$20,000, which is less than half the current cost in the USA.

With the introduction of a specialist travel visa designed for medical tourists, Shetty said this would cut down on time and enable patients to get to Cayman quickly when they need their operation.

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