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iNews-briefs217Cayman Islands Gimistory to be subject of a book

Although the Cayman National Cultural Foundation’s (CNCF) Gimistory festival came to another successful conclusion on Saturday (6) it is not really over as it is going to be the subject of a book.

Attending all the performances was Ray Funk who has been commissioned to look at the history of Gimistory and its impact on Caymanian culture.

The CNCF is looking for the book to be published by the end of 2015.


Banco Popular of Puerto Rico recognized as ‘Bank of the Year’ by leading magazine

From Caribbean News Now

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Banco Popular de Puerto Rico has received the prestigious “Bank of the Year Puerto Rico for 2014” award from The Banker, an international banking magazine published by The Financial Times. The Banker is read in 180 countries and was founded in 1926.

The Bank of the Year Awards, now in its 15th year, recognizes the top financial institutions in the world.

The awards are the industry’s most widely used index of global banking, and are internationally recognized as the definitive guide to the soundness, strength and profitability of banks, according to The Banker. Banks are assessed by Tier 1 capital, with secondary rankings by assets, capital/asset ratio, real profit growth, profit on average capital, and return on assets.

The award from The Banker is based on several key accomplishments. In 2013, the price of the stock of Popular, Inc. rose 38%, the commercial loan portfolio increased by 3%, the bank repaid $935 million in outstanding TARP funds, and US operations consolidated into two key regions, New York/New Jersey and South Florida. Also considered in the award, were the thousands of hours that Popular employees devoted to community service in 2013, and the nearly $2 million donated to non-profit organizations, 80% of which were in education, and 20% focused on economic development.

Banco Popular de Puerto Rico is the leading financial institution in the following categories: credit cards with 52% of the market, 40% in lending, 32% in mortgage, 38% in commercial and construction lending, 31% in personal loans, and 37% in overall lending. The company is also recognized for its online banking platform, “Mi Banco Online” and mobile app, “Mi Banco Mobile”, leading digital platforms in Puerto Rico.

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Thieves break into Cayman Islands Cancer Society’s office for nothing

It’s the meanest thing anyone can do but the Cayman Islands have scumbags ready to break into an office and steal funds meant for cancer patients.

However, last week when these vermin broke into the Cancer Society’s office in George Town, Grand Cayman, after casing the ‘joint’ for over ten minutes the alarm immediately went off and they fled.

All this was caught on tape by the security cameras and can be viewed at the CITN/Cayman27 website at:

If you recognise the men in the surveillance video, you’re asked to call George Town police at 949-4222.


A CARICOM ‘associated’ territory will stage the 2017 America’s Cup yacht race

From Caribbean360

CMC – Bermuda was chosen last Tuesday (2) to host the 2017 America’s Cup, the 35th renewal, after beating rival San Diego, California.

The two venues had made the cut for the final stage of the bidding process to host one of the world’s most prestigious sailing events.

Harvey Schiller, commercial commissioner for the America’s Cup Event Authority, made the announcement at a packed New York hotel, before a 15-strong Bermuda contingent that included Premier Michael Dunkley, Minister of Economic Development Dr Grant Gibbons, the bid leader, and Bill Hanbury, the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s chief executive officer.

In seeing off San Diego, which has hosted the America’s Cup three times, Bermuda becomes the first offshore venue by a defender out of choice.

Valencia, Spain twice hosted the event when the Swiss team Alinghi were the cup holders, but that was because Lake Geneva was seen to be unsuitable for racing.

In last year’s 34th America’s Cup renewal defenders Oracle Team USA, representing the Golden Gate Yacht Club, defeated the challengers, Emirates Team New Zealand, representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, 9-8 on San Francisco Bay.

Oracle won the last eight races to come from behind to pull off a sensational triumph in the longest ever America’s Cup by both number of days and races.

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Cayman Islands government employee remembered in candlelight vigil

Last Tuesday (2) over 100 persons were present at the Cayman Islands Department of Vehicle Equipment Services (DVES) garage to light candles in remembrance of their loved one, friend and/or colleague Caymanian Roger Powell (39), who lost his life in a car crash in Breakers early morning on 22 November.

Mr Powell was a father, husband, a member of the Class of 1991 and worked for the DVES as a mechanic.


French shipyard in $1.5 bn deal for new cruise liners

AFP From Business Insider

Saint-Nazaire (France) (AFP) – Royal Caribbean Cruises subsidiary Celebrity Cruises has signed a preliminary deal with the French arm of Korean shipbuilding giant STX for two new vessels valued at 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion).

The 1,450-cabin ships are due for delivery in 2018 and 2020, the president of STX France, Laurent Castaing, said, announcing the signing of the letter of intent on Thursday.

The deal will come as a major boost for the Saint-Nazaire yard in western France, which has struggled to secure new orders in recent years.

The shipyard is also facing uncertainty over the French government’s decision to suspend delivery to Russia of a warship being built in Saint-Nazaire in a row over the Ukraine crisis.

The new 300-metre (nearly 1,000-foot) cruise liners will be able to carry 2,900 passengers and could be put into service anywhere around the world, Castaing said.

STX is already engaged in building two giant cruise ships for Royal Caribbean.

The Oasis-class ships, the largest of their type in the world, are capable of carrying 8,000 passengers and crew.

The order marked a turnaround for the yards at a time of falling orders and rising unemployment.

For more:


Cayman Islands Conservation Council meets for the first time

The Cayman Islands National Conservation Council (NCC) met for the first time last Wednesday (3).

The Council discussions included the formation of an invasive species committee, what responsibilities will be delegated to the director and adoption of guidance notes to help government in its consultation with the council.


High-speed camera tracks light at 100 billion fps

iNews B hs camFrom engadget

For most of us, high-speed image capture, say 120 or 240 frames per second, is enough to get a good look at stuff happening in the blink of an eye — like a water droplet hitting the ground or a Bichon Frisé snagging his favorite ball. For faster subjects, industrial-strength high-speed cameras can grab tens of thousands of frames per second (or more). But when your rapidly moving target is light itself, you’re going to need something a bit quicker — to the tune of 100 billion fps, according to Nature.

Using a technique called “compressed ultrafast photography” (CUP), researchers at Washington University in St. Louis can track light as it travels and interacts with objects. It’s a new spin on the streak camera method, where a sensor moves along with the light to record its motion. Previous streak camera setups have been limited to narrow, one-dimensional views, but the CUP technique allows for two-dimensional image capture. One example video shows a laser pulse sauntering by and reflecting off a mirror in a few tens of picoseconds (trillionths of a second).

So far, researchers have used the technique to explore a handful of phenomena, including how light reflects and refracts, as well as how photons behave when transitioning from one medium to another (e.g., from air to a resin). Nature reports the CUP technique could be used in the development of so-called invisibility cloaks that work by bending light around an object. So while it may not be the absolute fastest high-speed camera system currently out there, perhaps someday it’ll help us get a bit closer to realizing those Star Trek/Harry Potter dreams.

For more:


Cayman Islands Complaints Commissioner resigns

Nicola Williams the Cayman Islands Complaints Commissioner since August 2009 has handed in her resignation and will leave early next year. This is after her contract was recently renewed for 12 months.

Williams has accepted the appointment as the United Kingdom Service Complaints Commissioner (SCC).

The SCC was created by the Armed Forces Act 2006, following the deaths of four soldiers at Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut. It aims to ensure all service men and women and their families have confidence in the complaints system and are treated properly.

SCC works with the Ministry of Defence.


Plane Crashes in Caribbean Sea

From Plus TV

The skies over Belize City were unfriendly for Tropic Air Flight 281 on Thursday afternoon, as it attempted to land at the Belize City Municipal Airstrip.

Authorities are yet to confirm, but reliable information to us is that Flight 281 was coming in around 2:20, and appeared to have overshot the runway while completing its landing, and sunk into the shallow waters of the Caribbean Sea immediately off the coast. 5 persons were aboard in addition to the pilot and there are no major injuries reported.

According to Tropic Air, the flight was a medical evacuation flight as on board was a man who had received a gunshot earlier on Thursday.

Police, coast guard and aviation personnel were out to investigate, and just before newstime this evening the plane was successfully lifted out of the waters and onto a loading truck. At the scene Minister in charge of Civil Aviation Manuel Heredia Jr. told reporters that the Department of Civil Aviation has begun its investigations, but could not offer more details.

We understand that this is the third such incident in several weeks, involving both major domestic carriers Tropic and Maya Island Air.

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Chocolates to help Cayman Islands blue iguanas

The Cayman National Trust is selling rich bars of chocolate that on the packaging feature the endemic to Grand Cayman – the Blue Iguana.

Money from the $5 bar of chocolate goes to the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme that has been responsible for increasing the number of blue iguanas in Cayman from 125 in 1999 to nearly 1,000 in 2014. The programme funds a facility for captive breeding of the blue iguanas in Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park on Grand Cayman.

A Blue Iguana has simple needs for survival and a good life.

Warmth: access to enough sunshine to maintain a daytime core body temperature at 100 degrees F. That means low, open vegetation – closed canopy forest is too shaded.

Food: diverse native vegetation to supply food year round. No problem, so long as the natural vegetation is still there.

Water: small amounts of drinkable water, especially during the dry season. Even a little dew helps.

Soil: at least a foot depth of soil, exposed to the sun, which is moist during the summer but not flooded – to lay eggs in.

Shelter: rock holes, to sleep in at night – or soil to make burrows in.

Safety: freedom from mammalian predators (rats, cats, dogs) which have no natural place in the Caymanian ecosystem.

Company: other Blue Iguanas, to breed with, to compete with, just to be Blue Iguanas with!



Belize: Financial irregularities at KHMH, again

From PlusTV

The Ministry of Finance requested another Special Audit for the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital over two x -ray machines purchased. The audit report says that the board was not consulted by the former director of Financial Services when the machines were purchased both for a total of six hundred thousand dollars. The report highlights several irregularities in the procurement of the x- ray machines and shows that the negotiations were conducted by former director of Financial Services Carlos Perrera and vlcsnap-2014-12-06-05h49m32s194vlcsnap-2014-12-06-05h49m02s173former Chief Executive Officer of the KHMH, Gary Longsworth. The x-ray machines were purchased from a company in Hong Kong via an Orange Walk based company called S. P. Group Limited and were delivered in May 2014 without documentation or warranty.

According to the audit reports, neither the CEO nor the DFS are authorized to conduct those types of transactions with a private company without first consulting with the Board of Governors. Furthermore, the auditors said they were unable to find any pertinent documentation to go along with the x-ray machines and so they were unable to determine if a fair price was paid for the units. The report further states that in December 2014, the KHMH paid advance monies to the S.P. Group from funds allocated for the upgrading of the Intensive Care Unit and for the paving of the public parking areas; but in February 2014, the KHMH had gotten another loan from the Social Security Board for the same purpose. They allegedly used that to repay the monies delivered to S.P. Group Limited.

The audit also refers to over two hundred thousand dollars of medical supplies which were purchased but the hospital never received them.

For more:


Westminster : New Contract Award – Fever Detection System – Caribbean Airport

Westminster Group Plc. is pleased to announce that its Technology Division has secured a new contract to supply Westminster’s WG520 Flu Fever Screening Detection Systems to a Caribbean Airport to help officials monitor passengers entering the airport in order to prevent any infected person from travelling in accordance with World Health Organisation (WHO) requirements.

Westminster’s WG520 Flu Fever Screening Detection System identifies persons who may be suffering from Ebola, common influenza, SARS and other flu variants such as Avian flu and Bird and Swine flu. A major advantage of the system over hand held devices being used in other airports is that it provides automatic screening and an alarm alerts officials to anyone entering the airport who may have fever symptoms.

Due to Westminster’s global reach and expertise WG520 Flu Fever Detection System is being deployed at an increasing number of airports and key points of entry around the world.

Further information on the WG520 Flu Fever Screening Detection System may be found at:


Former Cayman Islands University president finds lawyer

Hassan Syed, former President of University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) has finally found a lawyer to represent him. Syed has been charged with theft, obtaining a pecuniary advantage and obtaining a money order by deception between 2006 and 2008 when he was president of the College.

James Stenning of Stenning & Associates has confirmed he will act as an amicus whilst it is determined if Syed qualifies for legal aid.

Not one of the ten lawyers Syed had previously approached would act for him.

All of Syed’s assets have been frozen.


Malaysia Airlines: Can the new chief save it?

From Tourism Executives

The man credited with turning round Irish carrier Aer Lingus has been picked to head the successor company to Malaysia Airlines, which is being taken private.

Khazanah Nasional, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund and MAS’s parent company, said on Friday it had appointed Christoph Mueller as chief executive-designate and made other leadership appointments for the new company.

“The appointments announced today are part of efforts by the Government and Khazanah to lay strong foundations for the future success of our national carrier,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement.

“The government is committed to seeing through the complete overhaul of MAS to its successful conclusion,” added Najib, who also chairs Khazanah’s board of directors.

Last month, MAS posted its worst quarterly loss since late 2011, as passenger numbers and average fare yields fell sharply following two successive disasters — the loss of flight MH370 en route to China and the destruction of flight MH17 over Ukraine.

Trading in the airline’s shares will be suspended from December 15, the first step towards the struggling airline’s delisting from the stock exchange as part of a MYR6 billion ringgit (USD$1.8 billion) government-led restructuring.

Mueller, CEO of Aer Lingus since 2009, has been credited with turning around the airline despite a weak European market.

“Discussions are ongoing for Mueller to assume the post of MAS (New Company) CEO at a date prior to May 1, 2015, but no earlier than March 1, 2015,” Khazanah said in the statement.

His contract as chief executive of Aer Lingus ends on May 1, 2015.

Other nominations include Mohammed Shazalli Ramly, a telecommunications and marketing expert with no experience in the aviation sector, to the board, and aviation veteran Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid as chairman of MAS’ corporate reskilling department.

Shazalli currently heads unlisted telecommunications firm Celcom Axiata, a post he has held for nine years and will retain. Bashir is an adviser at Malaysia Airports, which he led as managing director for 11 years.

For more:


Cayman Islands to have its own coral nurseries

After years of dragging its feet on implementing coral nurseries the Cayman Islands Department of Environment (DOE) has received approval from the government to implement a new coral nursery management policy.

The nurseries will not be for financial gain but will be there for planting in Cayman’s reefs.

They will focus on relatively fast-growing species like staghorn and elkhorn corals.


Drug runners held after sea and land chase

By Jensen La Vende From T&T Guardian

Police arrested three drug runners in Cocorite yesterday in what was described by some as a scene straight from an action movie. The drama started after armed Coast Guard officers were seen chasing a fishing boat in the Gulf of Paria with five suspects, illegal guns and drugs. Police onshore were alerted and prepared themselves to assist their colleagues.

According to police reports, around 1.45 pm members of the Coast Guard received a tip that a pirogue was smuggling drugs and guns into the country. The Coast Guard, after liaising with their police counterparts, chased the vessel, which had four men on board, to shore near the dock of party boat, Harbour Master. Police said three men jumped off and headed for land. The fourth suspect attempted to escape on the open sea but was stopped a short distance away at the Cocorite fishing depot.

Coast Guard officials said as the boat was coming ashore the men threw a bag overboard which they believed was filled with guns. When police searched the boat they found a quantity of marijuana. The bag thrown overboard had not been found up to last night.

With assistance from the National Operations Centre (NOC) helicopter, one of the three men arrested initially pretended to be an employee of Reel Tackle, which is located along the Western Main Road. The other two suspects were held after running through the compound of Econo Car Rentals. Eyewitnesses told the T&T Guardian that after the trio came ashore police were seen chasing them and firing in the air in attempt to get them to surrender.

The police eventually caught one of the men and later arrested the other, even as he attempted to “blend in” with members of the public. Up to press time the fourth man was still on the run.

For more:


Cruise lines order more ships, reveal designs

iNews Bfl-celebrity-two-new-ships-20141205-001By Arlene Satchell, From Sun Sentinel

Celebrity Cruises plans to debut a new class of cruise ship and has ordered its first two vessels, according to its parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

The cruise operator has signed a letter of intent for the new 2,900-passenger cruise ships with French shipbuilder STX France, Miami-based Royal Caribbean said in a news release.

The new ships, to be developed under the project name EDGE, are expected to launch in fall 2018 and early 2020.

Seven Seas Explorer

A rendering of the new 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer, which is set to launch in summer 2016. (Regent Seven Seas Cruises)

Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain said the addition of the new ships “continues the positive momentum the Celebrity brand has achieved in the premium segment of our industry.”

fiNews Bl-celebrity-two-new-ships-20141205-002Royal Caribbean said the new class of vessels will deliver small ship itineraries with large ship amenities.

“We will bring our guests even closer to the must-see destinations of the world,” Celebrity President and CEO Michael Bayley said.

Separately, in other news this week, Seabourn, a cruise brand of competitor Carnival Corp. & PLC, announced that it has exercised an option for a second 604-passenger ship to be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. It will be delivered in spring 2018 and will be a sister ship to the new build announced in March, set to debut in late 2016.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises — a new cruise brand of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings — revealed the first rendering of its new 750-guest Seven Seas Explorer ship debuting in summer 2016. It also launched a dedicated website with information about the ships and construction updates at

Reservations for Seven Seas Explorer’s maiden voyage and inaugural season open to the general public Feb. 11.

For more:


11th Sierra Leonean doctor infected with Ebola

From Boston Herald

(AP) Ebola has sickened more than 17,000 people, the majority of those in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The disease has exacted a particularly heavy toll on health workers and another tested positive on Tuesday in Sierra Leone. Dr. Dauda Koroma is being treated at a military hospital in the capital, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brima Kargbo.

While the disease is still spreading rapidly in Sierra Leone, health officials have expressed some optimism that the outbreak is stabilizing in Guinea and Liberia. The World Health Organization said Monday that those two countries had met an interim goal to isolate 70 percent of patients and safely bury 70 percent of corpses.

But in a report Wednesday, WHO called into question that progress, saying the data is too poor to draw conclusions.

Inconsistencies in data collection mean “this information is not reliable enough at present to draw any conclusions about isolation,” the report said. It added that getting information on safe burials was complicated by the fact that many Ebola deaths go unreported.

In Sierra Leone, unsafe burials are thought to be responsible for 70 percent of new infections, Kargbo told reporters Wednesday.

The WHO report said there are enough isolation beds in each country to handle the reported cases — but often not in the places they’re needed. Clinics are fairly well distributed in Liberia, the report said, but less so in Guinea. And Sierra Leone needs many more beds in its capital region.

The nation is also short on health care workers. About 100 more African health care workers are expected soon, said Kargbo.

The African Union has promised to send 1,000 health care workers to the three affected countries by the end of the year, but they have been slow to deploy. So far, 87 have arrived, but the AU held a send-off ceremony for 250 more from Nigeria on Wednesday.

For more:


Environmental Resource Center’s benefits set sail on week long Caribbean Cruise

CARY, N.C., Dec. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Environmental Resource Center, an environmental, safety, and transportation consulting firm in Cary, NC, is making big strides, not only for their customers and the environment, but also for their employees.

For the third year in a row, Environmental Resource Center employees and their families will be setting sail on an expenses paid week long Caribbean cruise to Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and San Juan.

The annual cruise is just one of the benefits Environmental Resource Center offers its employees. For the past three years, employees have received an average of 18.4% of their salaries in profit sharing, which is well above the 4% national average. In addition, employees receive a 50% match of the first 6% on their 401 K plans, health insurance, and wellness benefits.

CIO, CTO & Developer Resources

The firm, which was founded in 1981 by Brian Karnofsky, has grown from a one-man consulting firm to over 25 employees in five states. The firm’s clients include many of the top Triangle companies, such as GSK, SAS, UNC, EPA, Burt’s Bees, and Biogen IDEC as well as Volvo, Dominion Power, Chevron, Merck, John Deere, Corning, Columbia University, Marathon Petroleum, and the Walt Disney Co.


Saint Lucia boosts Ebola prevention

From telesur

Saint Lucia joins other small Caribbean nations in programs to prevent Ebola.

Dr. Marta Arsuaga has first-hand experience in treating Ebola patients. She cared for two patients sent to Spain for treatment and a nurse who contracted the disease while caring for gravely ill people. She is in Saint Lucia as part of a program to help small Caribbean countries prepare for Ebola.

“Just 20 percent of the Ebola patients had bleeding. With caution, doing your work, using the material that we have to protect ourselves, (it can be fought),” she says.

Arsuaga’s mission includes site visits to hospitals, air and seaports, and training with those expected to be on the front line, should Saint Lucia record a case of Ebola.

The Spanish physician admits that it is no easy task treating an Ebola patient, but she says doctors and other health workers have an important role to play.

“You have to dress like an astronaut. It is very uncomfortable to work with the (hazmat) suit because it is very hot and wet. You have to move slowly and train a lot.”

Head medical officer, Merlene Fredericks says Saint Lucia will benefit from Dr. Arsuaga’s expertise, as well as her first hand experience in treating Ebola patients.

“She is here as part of a team to assess the clinical aspect of our readiness. While she’s here she will be having special training sessions with our doctors, our nurses, our fire(fighters) and other health care workers, to share the experiences she has had with treating patients with Ebola,” said Fredericks.

Arsuaga is a specialist in internal and tropical medicine. Her visit is partially funded by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). The agency hopes she can help identify and mend gaps in Saint Lucia’s national Ebola response plan. That plan includes port health, infection control, clinical management and surveillance.

The health team from Saint Lucia recently returned from Cuba for training, as Caribbean islands get set to put in place a squat team for Ebola. The Ministry of Health is now hoping to finalize talks with the nurses and the medical associations to determine the conditions of hazard pay for front line workers in the Ebola fight.

For more:–20141205-0037.html


TIME Magazine apologizes for including “feminist” on list of words to ban

Every year, TIME Magazine asks readers to vote in a “words to ban” poll. Besides slang words like “obvi,” this year’s poll included “feminist.”

More than 30,000 Care2 members signed a petition telling TIME to apologize and demanding the magazine publish an article about modern feminism.

In just a few days, Nancy Gibbs, TIME’s managing editor, issued an apology and TIME published an essay entitled “Feminism is a 21st Century Word” by Robin Morgan, one of the founders of the Women’s Media Center.


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