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PHILIPSBURG--The Prosecutor called for a prison sentence of fourteen years in the so-called “Coconut” case against a 36-year-old man suspected of involvement in a shooting which took place in front of Red Diamond adult club in Simpson Bay, early Sunday morning, November 18, 2018. The suspect’s lawyer pleaded not guilty for lack of legal and convincing evidence. The Judge will give his opinion September 4.

PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Stuart Johnson recently met with St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA) President Christopher Marshall and other marine industry stakeholders to discuss their concerns. Upgrading navigational markings, boat-wreck removal and the need for gathering more data, among other things, were highlighted as potential actions government can put in place to improve this sector of St. Maarten’s economy.

While agreeing with Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) that the timing of a letter received by public school staffers their first day back on the job could have been “a bit off” (see related story), Education Minister Wycliffe Smith said the content was not. It was also not sent to all 190, but only the 52 who had reported sick more than three times during the last academic year.

While the latter may not seem that much, the requirement for them to now go for medical control on the first day of absence is understandable. Having to do so only on the fourth day obviously opens the door to staying home up to three days without a valid reason and no repercussions.

One must keep in mind that it regards only – just over – a quarter of the total, so most of the personnel apparently don’t have this problem. What probably irked the others was mention of the “no-work-no-pay” principle for days the sick leave policy is not adhered to, but that’s a consequence of their own relatively frequent absence supposedly due to illness.

Of much greater concern are the six employees who received two letters because they have been on sick leave “for several years or more.” Something needs to be done about these cases and all so-called “ghost civil servants” who never show up for work but are still collecting a salary.

There are already procedures in place to deal with such matters, including a mandatory medical re-evaluation after a certain period. If the person involved is then found no longer suitable for the function, he or she must be either transferred somewhere else where they can still make themselves useful, or laid off to collect disability pay.

It cannot be so that the system is structurally abused at the expense of colleagues forced to pick up the slack and taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill.

The arrival of specialised equipment procured by the National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB) for fire suppression and improvement of the landfill management (see related story) is obviously a significant step in efforts to tackle the dump crisis by their use to cover waste buried during the day with a special cement-based layer that combats odours and vermin.

The constant application of this method is also said to help prevent future surface fires that lead to smoke nuisance downwind of the facility. But before it can start, a week of training will be held in working with the new machines and material.

It’s all part of the Emergency Debris Management Project financed from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund managed by the World Bank. The still-pending removal of boat wrecks in and around Simpson Bay Lagoon is also included.

According to reports early this year, 19 families totalling 30 persons living in certain sections of the landfill would have to temporarily move for the fire suppression activities. Word followed last May that nearby property at Foga had been identified as a suitable alternative location to accommodate them.

NRPB was said to be working on acquiring prefabricated homes, while the residents could also opt for cash to make their own housing arrangements. However, there has been no further word since then on this situation.

Although frustration over how long it’s taking for several “build back better” projects to become a visible reality is understandable, some of that also has to do with lack of information. In this case the public has now at least been made aware of what’s going on at the dump.

The St. Maarten government, NRPB, the World Bank and other entities involved should always remain mindful of the fact that people don’t like to be kept in the dark especially about matters that can have a big impact on their wellbeing and prosperity. Keeping them abreast of the latest developments is crucial in terms of getting their continued cooperation and support.

PANAMA CITY, Panama--The temporary suspension of the tourism card that allowed Cubans to travel to Panama to make purchases was due to irregularities detected by the Panamanian government in the allocation and use of this mechanism. This was confirmed this Monday by president of the Association of Users of the Colón Free Trade Zone, Daniel Rojas.

NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL

For the North Atlantic...Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico:

The National Hurricane Center is issuing advisories on Tropical Storm Chantal, located several hundred miles east-southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

An area of disturbed weather located over the central and northwest Bahamas is producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms. Some slow development of this system is possible over the next several days at it moves toward the Florida peninsula and then the southeast United States.

* Formation chance through 48 hours...low...near 0 percent.

* Formation chance through 5 days...low...20 percent.

Forecaster Latto/Pasch

WASHINGTON- - U.S. President Donald Trump stepped up a series of attacks on automakers on Wednesday for not backing his administration's plan to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency rules, singling out Ford Motor Co in particular for backing a deal with California for stricter fuel economy standards.

HONG KONG- - When Larry Sloven heard last year that U.S. tariffs threatened his China electronics business, he knew that setting up shop elsewhere would be a slog rather than an adventure.

MEXICO CITY- - Mexican musician Celso Pina, famed as "the rebel of the accordion" for mixing eclectic styles with traditional Colombian cumbia, died on Wednesday of a heart attack in his hometown of Monterrey, his record label La Tuna Records said.
  He was 66 years old, according to local media.

BANGKOK- - In the dead of night, Thai firefighter Pinyo Pukpinyo stealthily approaches a python coiled around the rafters of a home in Bangkok, and quickly grabs its head with his bare hands.

WASHINGTON- - U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he was "the chosen one" to address trade imbalances with China, even as congressional researchers warned that his tariffs would reduce U.S. economic output by 0.3% in 2020.

WASHINGTON- - Even as they reject talk of a looming recession, President Donald Trump and his advisers are examining ways to provide a boost to the U.S. economy should it be deemed necessary, officials said.

BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO- - Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday accused non-governmental organizations of burning down the Amazon rainforest to hurt his government, as a growing global outcry against the wildfires raged through social media.

Tropical Storm Chantal Advisory Number 3

NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL      

1100 AM AST Wed Aug 21, 2019




LOCATION...40.2N 51.6W







There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.



At 1100 AM AST (1500 UTC), the centre of Tropical Storm Chantal was located near latitude 40.2 North, longitude 51.6 West. Chantal is moving toward the east near 20 mph (31 km/h). A turn toward the southeast with a decrease in forward speed is expected by Thursday. Chantal is forecast to slow further and turn southward on Friday. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph (65 km/h) with higher gusts. Gradual weakening is anticipated, and Chantal is forecast to become a tropical depression in a couple of days.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the centre.

The estimated minimum central pressure is 1009 mb (29.80 inches).




TOKYO- - It has been a roller-coaster 12 months for Japan's Naomi Osaka since her dramatic victory over Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final last year.

TOKYO- - With the Tokyo Olympics less than a year away, speculation is growing in Japan over who will be the final torchbearer to light the cauldron in the new Olympic Stadium, in the traditional ritual that begins every Games.

Dear Editor,

  Every time I read anything about taxes, I get uneasy. I have mentioned this to several people to get their opinion and everybody agrees with my point of view. I started to work for the government of the Netherlands  Antilles in 1965, was transferred to Sint Maarten in 1975, and have worked here until I retired in 2006. All I did over those years was to literally work for the communities in which I lived, I swore to protect and serve and that is what I did.

  Because what I did was teamwork I will continue with “we”. Besides combating crime, we had to combat fires. Yes, we were firemen, besides our regular hours on the job. Fire trucks were stationed in every area where there was a compound of police houses and we were expected to man those fire trucks and go fight those fires whenever and wherever it was requested.

  When we got to the Windward Islands, it became more interesting. Along with firefighting we were ambulance attendees and were called upon and expected to assist the nurses during the night shift at Sint Rose Hospital. I do not know who they are, but I was told there are one or two people in government who were born in the hands of policemen who assisted the nurses during their delivery. I know this to be the case with a young man who lives in the Netherlands.

  There was no army in the Windward Islands, so in case of pending riots (thankfully these were at a minimum) we held the fort. I am not writing this to – as we would say – “big up” ourselves, but to point out that we literally served the community. So, when I hear that approximately only 35 per cent of the working population pay taxes, and that I and so many like me are still paying taxes, then there is a whole lot more of the working population who are not paying taxes. And to paraphrase what someone told me, “Why should I be paying for politicians’ clothes?”

  I dedicated 41 years of my life paying taxes and 13 years later I am still paying taxes. I earnestly believe that our tax collecting system has to be urgently revisited. 


Russell A. Simmons

Dear Queenie,

  I’m a man in my 40s, never been married, don’t have any children. I would like to be in a committed relationship with a woman but I don’t have any luck.

  I keep meeting single and divorced women who have children and I have no problem getting together with someone like that, but some of them have more problems than I can handle and some of them don’t seem to be interested in a man like me. And I can’t seem to meet up with any women who have never been married and don’t have children.

  Queenie, what should I do?—Looking for love


Dear Looking,

  People tend to wonder what is wrong with a man your age who has never been in a long-term relationship and has no children.

  Ask your closest friends and relatives what they think your problem might be, listen carefully to what they say and be willing to try to do something about it. Professional counselling also might help.

  Other than that, join a community service or other group that includes lots of women and give the women a chance to get to know you without pressing for a “relationship”. “What will be, will be.”