Archive for March 10th, 2013

Major local athletic meet set for Thursday

Major local athletic meet set for Thursday

| 10/03/2013 | 0 Comments

GTPs Paula Edwards won her 100m heat (m) (281x300)_0.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands Athletic Association have rescheduled the annual Truman Bodden Track Meet for Thursday, 14 March. With the Inter-Primary Championships looming, officials said they expect that there will be a large turnout of local athletes competing at this Meet in preparation for the international season. All Athletes, both senior and junior will be out in full force in the hope of qualifying for CAC Age Group Championships, IAAF World Youth among others. The Meet, which is sponsored by noted Attorney-at-Law, Truman Bodden, has been staged for over 20 years and is one of the major Meets on the Association’s calendar.

The events and age groups are as follows:

LONG JUMP    M/F 7 – 8, 9 – 10, 11 – 12, 13 – 14, 15 – 16, 17 & OVER
HIGH JUMP    M/F 9 – 10, 11 – 12, 13 – 14, 15 – 16, 17 & OVER
BALL THROW   M/F 7 – 8, 9 – 10, 11 – 12
JAEVLIN    M/F 13 – 14, 15 – 16, 17 & OVER
TURBO JAVELIN   M/F 9 – 10, 11- 12
SHOT PUT    M/F 11 – 12, 13 – 14, 15 – 16, 17 & OVER
DISCUS    M/F 13 – 14, 15 – 16, 17 & OVER

100M /110M HURDLE  M/F 14 – 16, 17 – 19 & OVER
80M     M/F 7 – 8
100M     M/F 9- 10, 11 – 12, 13 – 14, 15-16, 17 & OVER
150M     M/F 7 – 8, 9 – 10
200M     M/F 11 – 12, 13 – 14, 15-16, 17 & OVER
400M     M/F 11 – 12, 13 – 14, 15 – 16, 17 & OVER
800M     M/F 11 – 12, 13 – 14, 15 -16, 17 & OVER
1500M     M/F 13 – 14, 15 – 16, 17 & OVER
3,000M    M/F 13 – 14, 15 – 17, 17 & OVER
4 X 400M    M/F OPEN
4 X 100M    M/F OPEN

Registration is open to ages 7 and above and forms can be obtained by contacting Sana Tugman at 924-1649, Coach Williams at 925-1943 or Coach Yen at 925-6917.  Completed forms may be returned to any of the above persons or to  Registration closes on Tuesday, 12 March at 6:00pm. 

We are also appealing to officials to please make an effort to come out and assist with the various events in order for the meet to run smoothly.

The event starts at 6:00pm and continues Friday evening at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.

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Cops extradite CNB suspect

Cops extradite CNB suspect

| 10/03/2013 | 0 Comments

CNB robbery_0.jpg(CNS): The RCIPS has confirmed that a Jamaican man wanted in connection with a daylight bank robbery at the Cayman National Bank, in Buckingham Square , last June has been extradited to Cayman. Ryan Edwards (36), from the eastern parish of St Thomas, was brought back here Friday when he was charged with robbery, possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence and removing property from the Cayman Islands. The extradition application was made by local officials after Jamaican police apprehended him when the car he was in was searched in a routine stop. The police found US$5,000 and CI$35,000, which matched that stolen during the CNB robbery, and found that Edwards was wanted in Cayman after fleeing the Islands by boat.

Edwards is the sixth person to be charged in relation to the bank robbery. One of the men has pleaded guilty and is being held in protective custody as he awaits sentence, while four other men are in the middle of on-going legal hearings relating to the case.

The robbery took place before ten in the morning but the getaway was foiled when the robbers’ car collided with an armoured truck. As a result, they were forced to abandon the car and flee on foot before they were picked up by a second car. In the process the suspects dropped a significant amount of the money they had stolen. However, the offenders still made off with several thousand dollars.

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Accountability, senior civil service & statutory boards

Accountability, senior civil service & statutory boards

| 10/03/2013 | 67 Comments

The disclosures of the past few weeks have made me wonder whether senior civil servants and members of government boards have ever heard of the concepts of honesty, accountability and the rule of law. In theory, the civil service falls under the responsibility of the Governor, but the present reality appears to be that crafty and less than scrupulous politicians have a different idea.

The unscrupulous have learned how to ensure that those willing to do what they are told, and to turn a blind eye to what is being done, are the ones that are fast-tracked for promotion, appointed to certain board positions and given very lucrative positions after retirement in return for these ‘services’.

Civil servants who do as they are told, irrespective of the law, are particularly sought after by certain politicians. Those selected and promoted primarily on the basis that they will ‘wuk wit’ the unscrupulous in turn use their ill-gotten positions to ensure that those who will also play along and won’t ‘rat’ are hired and promoted. Those that won’t ‘wuk wit’ the unscrupulous are cast aside or are forced to leave the civil service in order to make room for more cronies.

And so the cancer of corruption spreads in the civil service, each bent unit protecting the next, remaining in their jobs to undermine the efforts of honest politicians once the less scrupulous are out of office, awaiting the return of their benefactors. No one from the highest levels of the senior civil service on down shows sufficient interest in confronting and ending rule bending and law breaking, and so lawlessness grows and grows.

I have no doubt that the great majority of those in the civil service, as well as those serving on government boards (at least those who are not greed driven cronies), are honest, conscientious people. I am under no delusion that they all are. I am therefore very grateful for the work of the Auditor General and the Information Commissioner's Office. I am also grateful for those that use our Freedom of Information Law and publish evidence of wrong-doing, and for those that resort to drop boxes in pickup trucks and other measures to drag the rot into the light. I give my thanks to our still free press and those that blow the whistle on corruption and cronyism, and I hope that they continue and increase their efforts, as it seems that these days just about everywhere an audit is done or questions are asked, something very wrong is discovered.

It may be that some senior civil servants and members of statutory boards simply don’t have any idea of what is right or what our laws require of them. It also may be that they simply don’t care and will do as they like. Unlike most countries, there is no requirement for senior civil servants to formally demonstrate even the faintest knowledge of the rules governing the civil service in order to be hired into, or promoted to, management positions. The same seems to be true for appointments to statutory boards.

Another critical flaw in our civil service is that it is essentially self-policing. There is no penalty for failures of internal oversight and there is no formal external oversight. The highest levels in the civil service simply aren’t accountable, and in turn they impose no accountability on those at lower levels in the civil service. Senior civil servants are under no obligation to report or correct unlawful activities they observe or otherwise learn about. In general, this means that senior civil servants are free to completely ignore our laws in going about their jobs in any manner they choose, even if that manner is unlawful. That complete lack of accountability needs to change.

We need whistle-blower protection laws and published annual external compliance audits of the highest levels in the civil service, specifically to determine whether they are enforcing the standards, procedures and rules they are supposed to. Every hint of wrong-doing should be thoroughly investigated. Every hint of a failure to apply or enforce the rules should be thoroughly investigated. Every senior civil servant or board member found to be breaking the rules or not enforcing the rules should be fired, and prosecuted if possible. Nothing will improve until there is full accountability at the highest levels of the civil service and at the board level of every statutory authority and every government company. 

Meaningful external audits will require meaningful standards. The standards of performance that the highest levels in the civil service presently accept and apply are so low as to be subterranean. The standard of lawlessness that the highest levels in the civil service appear to be prepared to accept is frightening. The highest levels of civil service management need to be held accountable for ensuring that there are serious consequences for every single thing done by any civil servant that does not meet a high standard or otherwise comply with the rules.

Think of what has come to light in the past few years and ask yourself, when was the last time a senior civil servant was fired, demoted or disciplined for either incompetence or negligence in doing their job, or for deliberately or carelessly not following the law? From the highest levels in the civil service on down, there is a need to ensure that every civil service boss and every statutory board member is held accountable, and by that I mean fired or at least demoted for any failure in supervision.

Whatever respect for the law still remains in the civil service will not remain if the perception persists that cronyism trumps both competence and performance, and that civil servants performing abysmally or breaking or ignoring our laws face no consequences.

There is much talk about reducing the size of the civil service. Let us start with those civil servants who don't obey our laws and those senior civil service managers who don't enforce our laws. Things need to be fixed now.

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Turks and Caicos faces more political problems

Turks and Caicos faces more political problems

| 10/03/2013 | 4 Comments

(CNS): A planned bye-election in the Turks and Caicos Islands set for 22 March in the Cheshire Hall district as a result of a successful legal challenge has been thrown in question after the former holder of the seat missed a crucial disclosure deadline to the country’s integrity commission ahead of the poll. TCI Acting Attorney General Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles has also announced that five other legal actions will be filed in the courts in connection with sitting members of the House of Assembly who she said should be challenged under section 53(2) of the Constitution for not declaring contracts they have with the TCI government.

In a statement released on Friday afternoon, the acting attorney general revealed that she was challenging the veracity of the declaration made by Amanda Missick, the PNPcandidate for the upcoming by-election in the Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill Electoral District, as she too had failed to declare a contract with government before the required deadline.

Missick had won the seat but when one of the candidates was disqualified, a bye-election was called because that candidate had polled more votes than the difference between Missick, who won the seat, and the opposition member who came in second. Oral Selver, who lost the seat by only 30 votes, successfully argued that, had the disqualified candidate's votes gone to him, he could have won the seat.

Alongside the challenge against Missick, the acting top attorney in the country said she believed several other sitting members of the TCI parliament were not qualified to be elected and challenges were filed in the local courts against George Lightbourne, elected member for the Grand Turk North Electoral District; Edwin Astwood for the Grand Turk, South Electoral District; Delroy Williams for the Wheeland Electoral District, as well as All Islands Members, Derek Taylor and Josephine Connolly.

Braithwaite-Knowles said that each of the members had made their section 50(1) Nomination Day declaration to the Supervisor of Elections but each of them has a contract with the government and all had failed to notify the Integrity Commission, as required by section 49(1)(f) of the Constitution. 

“I have asked the Court to determine whether in each case, the individual is or is not qualified to be an elected member of the House considering the failure to give notice,” she said.  “The Constitution provides for a process for challenge in each of these cases in the public interest.”

If the court determines that each member is disqualified then Missick will not be able to stand for election on 22 March and the sole remaining candidate will be declared elected. In the case of the sitting members, their seats will be vacated and bye-elections will be called, in which they will all have to stand again to contest their seats.

This month’s bye-election result was critical because if Selver was right and he gained most of the votes that had gone to the disqualified candidate, he would take the seat and with it the government for the opposition PDM. However, as four out of the five candidates being challenged by the acting attorney general are also PDM members, Selver’s election might mean the PDM’s time at the helm of government could be short lived.

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Caribbean and Latin America may lose 39% wetlands

Caribbean and Latin America may lose 39% wetlands

| 10/03/2013 | 13 Comments

meagre-bay-pond-nov6-11_044 (333x400).jpg(CNS): A rise in sea levels by a metre from climatechange could destroy more than 60 percent of the developing world’s coastal wetlands, according to a World Bank study. Predicting economic losses of around $630 million per year, the global bank said 76 countries and territories are at risk and the Caribbean stands to lose more than a third of its coastal wetlands to the ocean. In recent years, coastal wetlands have been disappearing more quickly than other ecosystems, mainly because of land development. Sea-level rise from climate change will exacerbate these losses. The rise in sea levels will lead to wetlands being submerged, pushed inland, or blanketed with salt. 

How those wetlands fare will vary, depending on the slopes and water flows in the surrounding area

“The findings are alarming, because wetlands don’t exist just for the birds and plants – people rely on them for water, food, transportation, and other essential goods and services,” says Susmita Dasgupta, a lead environment economist at the Bank’s Development Research Group. She co-authored the study with colleague Brian Blankespoor and consultant Benoit Laplante. “We hope our research can motivate steps to protect wetlands, especially since global warming will for sure accelerate the rise of sea levels.”

The resulting economic losses from coastal wetland destruction will be in addition to other coastal impacts, such as the forced relocation of people and infrastructure.

The World Bank analysis considers a variety of types of coastal wetlands at risk in 76 countries and territories, using a number of databases and satellite maps. According to the data, about 99% of the coastal wetlands at elevations of one metre or less in the Middle East and North Africa could disappear, as well as 77% in sub-Saharan Africa, 66% in East Asia and 39% in Latin America and the Caribbean.

See full World Bank study here.

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