Archive for October 17th, 2014

Ebola scare on Carnival ship

Ebola scare on Carnival ship

| 17/10/2014 | 69 Comments

(CNS): A Dallas health worker who could have been exposed to the deadly Ebola virus is currently in voluntary quarantine aboard the Carnival Magic cruise ship, a vessel that docked in Cayman only two weeks ago, and due to dock this week. Although the woman appears to be low risk for contracting the virus and has not shown any symptoms, the revelation has demonstrated how easily Ebola can spread to anywhere in the world. The Tourism Ministry has said that when the Carnival Magic was last in Cayman there were no indications that the ship or its passengers would have presented any risk at that time. Officials have also contacted the cruise line about action that will be taken to mitigate any potential risk on the ship going forward.

When it was realized that the women who had handled clinical samples from an Ebola patient was on board the cruise ship, it was turned away from both Belize and Mexico and was reportedly heading back to Texas on Friday afternoon.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention had alerted the cruise operator on Wednesday that a guest on the ship was a lab supervisor at the hospital where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan was treated.

"At no point in time has the individual exhibited any symptoms or signs of infection, and it has been 19 days since she was in the lab with the testing samples," Carnival said in a statement.

During a public meeting on Monday evening, Dr Kiran Kumar had dismissed public fears about cruise ships being a potential danger for bringing the virus to Cayman, saying that situation as unlikely. However, news that a lab technician was vacationing on the ship so soon after handing samples demonstrates how easily the deadly and contagious virus could spread.

“The health and safety of the Caymanian people remains the government's foremost priority and the ministry has contacted the Carnival cruise line to understand what actions will be taken to mitigate any potential risk. We are also liaising with the Public Health Department to ensure their guidelines and directives for managing such instances are followed,” the ministry said in an official statement Friday afternoon. “The ministry wishes to reassure the public that we will continue to monitor developments closely and further advisories will be issued when new information becomes available.”

The cruise ship carrying the technician had left from Galveston, Texas, on 12 October before the woman had been notified of active monitoring by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to US authorities. The monitoring was established as two nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, tested positive for Ebola.

Since the news of the cruise ship scare CIG has stepped up preparations to deal with the possibility of Ebola arriving inCayman.

For full details see the story below


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Robbers hit tourist spot

Robbers hit tourist spot

| 17/10/2014 | 113 Comments

(CNS): More than eight customers, as well as staff, were held up at gunpoint late Thursday night in the fourth armed robbery this week. Police said that two masked, dark skinned men with handguns held up Coconut Joe’s bar and grill last night just after 11:30pm, stealing cash, wallets and jewellery from the restaurant and its clients. The robbers reportedly entered the premises through the back kitchen armed with dark coloured hand-guns and shirts covering their faces. The robbers demanded cash from the register and then threatened the eight customers in the restaurant with their firearms as they stole more cash and other personal property from them.

Meanwhile, local burglars were having another crime spree after four more daylight break-ins were reported on Thursday 16 October. Three residential burglaries were reported in George Town, West Bay and Bodden Town, where cash and jewellery were reported stolen and a bar on Shedden Road, George Town also reported a burglary where a cash register was stolen.

Detectives from RCIPS, Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force (DSCTF) are investigating the robbery at coconut Joes and anyone who was in the area at the time, who saw anything suspicious around 11:30pm – 11:40 pm, should contact George Town CID on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 orCrime Stoppers on 800 8477(TIPS).

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Ex-offenders need jobs

Ex-offenders need jobs

| 17/10/2014 | 87 Comments

(CNS): As Cayman appears to be experiencing another surge in violent robberies and burglaries the premier has called on the local business community to help in the crime fight by giving ex-offenders work. Alden McLaughlin said that all of government’s efforts to boost the economy and create jobs will be worthless if everyone doesn’t focus on the crime fight. He listed a number of actions government was taking to tackle crime head on and rehabilitate offenders but he said everyone needed to be at the table. Unless the business community was willing to hire those who have been successfully rehabilitated, all of the policies and efforts of government would be for naught.

McLaughlin pointed to the arrest and conviction of dangerous gang members, the work of customs to tackle the movement of stolen goods, the introduction of a second hand dealers bill to control fencing, and various initiatives including improvements to prison rehabilitation programmes. But in the end former inmates need work to stop them from repeating their criminal behaviour.

“This point is especially important given the increasing clamour for government to get out of the business of social employment,” McLaughlin said, in his recent state of the nation address at the Chamber of Commerce legislative lunch.

“While I agree that more needs to be done with the rehabilitation of prisoners, we must all join together to make the efforts successful,” he told the business community audience. “A national problem such as crime needs a national fix, again with everyone at the table. The Chamber has demanded that prisoners in Northward be rehabilitated. I'm here to tell you that they have been and are being rehabilitated. But unless the businesses represented by those of you in this room are willing to hire those who have been successfully rehabilitated, all of the policies, work and efforts of Government and Her Majesty's Prison Service are for naught,” he added.

The premier said there had been a fall in serious crime of some 5.6 % but he acknowledged that theft was up 40 per cent. The community is also facing an ever increasing problem with burglaries and another recent surge of robberies.

McLaughlin said government will shortly introduce the Second Hand Dealers Bill to the Legislative Assembly which would help address the spike in property crimes. “The new law will place additional controls on what has been a too obvious point of disposal in the Cayman Islands, cash for gold and pawn shop establishments.,” he said.

He also spoke about the new customs management team which has already confiscated contraband coming through the borders and the newinspection process for shipping containers leaving the Islands that must now be inspected at the port by Customs officers. He said in July enforcement officers seized six shipping containers during a series of raids and stopped the shipment of stolen property from local burglaries. The premier said government was also tracking certain types of vessels taking goods off Cayman's shores by sea to tackle crime and the criminal element.

Taking about the local gang problem, McLaughlin said it had created a social problem that reached its worst in 2011 when gun crime was a weekly occurrence. But he said the action of the RCIPS, supported by government, had seen a focused effort to stem the violence by targeting and arresting those most involved.

“The arrest and conviction of some six major players was made possible by amended legislation that permits better witness protection and anonymity for witnesses who had previously been too frightened to give evidence in open court,” he said. “The conviction of those six key gang members removed the persons who would take a feud and escalate it to an assassination. We still have others to deal with but we are better able with updated laws to target, arrest and successfully prosecute offenders.”

As part of government’s crime reduction strategy an outreach programme has been created in which police, prison officers, councillors and other experts address students in schools under "lockdown" conditions where freedom is temporarily restricted, which it is hoped will deter young people from a life of crime.

He also said that performance targets have been developed to define success in addressing recidivism.

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Basic wage debate goes public

Basic wage debate goes public

| 17/10/2014 | 51 Comments

(CNS): After several months examining the issue of a minimum wage for the Cayman Islands the committee is opening up the debate to the public. The community is being asked to complete one of five surveys or submit comments on the proposal for a legally set basic wage rate and possible tiered regime. The committee established by government under the labour law to make recommendations will also be holding focus group meetings over the next few weeks during this first phase before a series of town-hall meetings begins in the New Year. Although the acting chief officer in the employment ministry said government is aware of how many workers the proposal for a minimum wage will impact it is not willing to say what that figure is.

Although pressed to reveal an estimate of how many Caymanians are living on wages that fall below what will eventually be the minimum wage rate, Christen Suckoo refused to give any estimates as he said he didn’t want to pre-empt the work of the committee or “telegraph the level” at which the wage may be set before the committee has completed its research and analysis and collected the information during this public consultation period which is viewed by government as a very important part of the process.

It is still not clear what the twelve man committee will recommend and whether Cayman will have one basic rate or a more complex minimum wage regime to take into account helpers, and other domestic workers as well as hospitality staff that depend on tips to boost often very low hourly rates.  Lemuel Hurlston the chair of the committee indicated that Cayman may be looking at a tiered regime with different basic rates for different workers but on the other hand he also spoke about the need for the regime to be as simple as possible to ensure compliance which will present a challenge for government.

Government has budgeted around $200,000 for what is a long process to examine the issue. During a press briefing to launch the public consultation part of that process, the employment minister stated that Cabinet was committed to moving things along. However, at no point did she categorically state that government would definitely be implementing the basic wage and she herself still refused to say whether or not she supported the principle of a minimum wage but spoke about supporting liveable wages.

The debate is however now open for comment and five on-line surveys for different members of the community depending on their job and sector as well as bosses, have been opened on the education and employment ministry’s website (
Printed copies will be available at libraries and the government building and the first focus group meeting will take place on Saturday 25 October at Layman Scott Sr. High School Hall in Cayman Brac. The morning session will be for both Household and Business Employers. 

The afternoon session will be for Household and Business Employees and unemployed Caymanians. 

The next focus group will be on Thursday evening, 30 October beginning at 7:00pm at the Family Life Centre which will focus on the youth, unemployed Caymanians and household employees. The final session on Saturday 1 November also at the Family Life Centre will start with household and business employers in the morning and the afternoon session will be for household and business employees and unemployed Caymanians.  The sessions will be two hours in length with the morning session beginning at 10:00am and the afternoon session beginning at 1:00pm. 

People wishing to be part of the focus groups will need to register by emailing or by calling 244-3151.

Meanwhile, the public can begin to submit general comments to the Secretary of the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee c/o Ministry of Education, Employment & Gender Affairs, Government Administration Building, Box 108, Grand Cayman, KY1-9000 or via

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Turtle expert calls for change at CTF

Turtle expert calls for change at CTF

| 17/10/2014 | 77 Comments

(CNS): A leading marine turtle specialist has waded in on the debate about the Cayman Turtle Farm and the need to transition the controversial facility from supplying meat to genuine conservation. Marydele Donnelly, currently the director of international policy at the Sea Turtle Conservancy who has worked as a conservation advocate for more than 30 years said the farm poses a threat to the Cayman economy and the conservation of wild green sea turtle populations. Donnelly who was also the program officer at the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group and director of the Sea Turtle Conservation Program for the Ocean Conservancy has co-authored a paper about the farm with Dr Neil D’Cruze, from World Animal Protection and Rachel Alcock.

D’Cruze has been spearheading the WPA campaign to transform the turtle farm after the UK based animal rights charity exposed a catalogue of problems at the farm. In the new scientific paper published by the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics entitled “The Cayman Turtle Farm: Why We Can’t Have Our Green Turtle and Eat it Too.” Focuses on the concerns that by supplying meat the farm is perpetuating and promoting the consumption of this endangered species.

“I am proud to have worked on such an important research paper which highlights the threats that the Cayman Turtle Farm poses to both the Cayman economy and the conservation of wild green sea turtle populations, “ Said Donnelly. “Our arguments are clear: the millions of dollars ploughed intothe Cayman Turtle Farm each year could be much better spent on protecting green sea turtles in the wild, using tried and tested methods which have been shown to yield real results.”

The WPA campaign, launched in 2012, has already highlighted severe animal welfare concerns associated with the Farm which is now the place in the world which raises endangered sea turtles for meat. This new paper adds conservation concerns to the growing list of rationale for why the Cayman Turtle Farm cannot carry on with its current mode of operation. The authors put forward the case that sea turtle farming comes at an astronomic economic cost. 

The paper reiterates the WPA’s call for the Farm to transition into a sea turtle rehabilitation center that fully protects the animals in its care. The authors cite the example of Kelonia on Réunion Island, a facility which has successfully and profitably transitioned from a commercial sea turtle farm to a rehabilitation and education facility.

This new research paper also echoes some of the findings in the recent Ernst & Young report which recommends significant operational change at the Cayman Turtle Farm as it sucks some $10million a year from the public purse.

“World Animal Protection was delighted to read the findings of the recent Ernst & Young report,” Said D’Cruze. “It echoes the findings contained within our new scientific paper for the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics.”

The WPA also revealed that the Cayman Islands Government has still not formally responded to the charity after it had engaged in talks with the WPA over potential changes at the farm as well as a survey conducted by the DoE about the level of demand for the meat.

“We once again urge the Cayman Islands Government to take an objective look at this growing body of evidence and to transition away from sea turtle farming as a conservation tool,”  D’Cruze said.

The scientific paper can be downloaded here:

See realted story on CNS

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