Grid List

MARIGOT--Even by the end of the first round last week, the outcome of the 2017 Territorial Council was never in doubt.

COLE BAY--Zidania Charles-Gumbes became the Junior Carnival Queen on Sunday evening during the Junior Queen pageant under the white tent in Princess Port de Plaisance Resort. Charles-Gumbes won almost all sashes in the competition and was considered the most popular contestant from the start of the pageant.

Last weekend’s incident in which two men drowned (see related story) was obviously heart-breaking, especially for their loved ones. There was no high surf advisory in effect at the time, but waves were expected to peak at seven feet and small craft operators as well as sea-bathers had been told to exercise caution.

Exactly what happened at Mullet Bay on Saturday afternoon is unclear, but it’s certainly not the first time swimmers have underestimated conditions at various locations, sometimes with tragic consequences. The question remains what can reasonably be done to prevent this.

A long-time visitor suggested hiring lifeguards on The Daily Herald’s Facebook page. This would also help youngsters with constructive jobs and training instead of getting involved in the wrong gangs, he added.

There is no arguing over the merits of that idea, but – as always – it has a price-tag. With Government facing financial restrictions and strict budgetary control one has to wonder where the funds would come from, although the private sector might be willing to contribute through, for example, the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) and/or the St. Maarten Timeshare Association (SMTA), considering this matter’s importance for the local tourism economy.

In the meantime, a simple red flag system could be deployed at popular beaches for a lot less money. The flags would be flown according to that day’s circumstances and based on indications of the Meteorological Office.

Rather than paying others to do so, the service could be included in the permits of existing commercial beach facilities so that this becomes their legal responsibility. Of course, it will still depend on each individual whether and how far he or she goes out into the water, but at least there would be some type of early warning.

Note to our readers:

The wrong (old) front page was accidentally printed in Saturday’s WEEKender. The feature story on 50 years of Sundial School that was consequently only partially published will (re)appear in the Tuesday paper.

Today’s report that three of the four leaders in talks to form a new Dutch Government agreed to work on solid kingdom ties during a meeting with Aruban Prime Minister Mike Eman is in principle reassuring. After all, there had recently been voices in The Hague calling for a much looser relationship with the Caribbean countries in the future.

VVD, CDA and D-66 are currently negotiating with GroenLinks, but there remain some major policy differences to overcome, particularly with the latter, leftist party. Christen Unie is therefore widely viewed as a possible alternative.

Some people might be surprised particularly with the commitment of caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte, because several of his VVD’s parliamentarians, including André Bosman, have been very critical towards the islands and made what are locally considered controversial proposals like restricting the admittance of their citizens to the Netherlands. There was recently even mention of a separate passport with another colour for inhabitants of the overseas territories.

It must be said, none of these rather drastic suggestions was backed by a majority in the Second Chamber of Parliament and indications are this will continue to be the case. Had anti-immigration party PVV won the elections, things could have turned out quite differently.

Time will tell how and to what extent Rutte, CDA leader Buma and D66 leader Pechtold stick to their word on building up rather than tearing down kingdom relations, but Eman was in any case able to get them to state their intention to do so. A promise made is a promise kept.

KINGSTON, Jamaica--Minister of state in the Ministry of National Security, Pearnel Charles Jr. has said that the Government is focusing on the rehabilitation and redemption of correctional institutions, instead of the rejection of the United Kingdom prison deal.

KINGSTON, Jamaica--Close to 100 Jamaicans could lose their jobs as Scotiabank embarks on a restructuring exercise.

Bank officials confirmed the staff cuts but declined to announce the number.

However, according to President General of Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) Kavan Gayle, about 100 positions would be made redundant by the Canadian bank.

Jamaica Observer reported that the posts were being transferred from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

According to Gayle, the workers to be affected include support staff that deal with certain services right across the region.

The bank justified the move saying the plans were in line with its focus to develop centres of excellence to establish best practices and improve efficiency.

However, Gayle challenged the bank to clarify what it meant by “centres of excellence.”

Meanwhile, Scotiabank assured that it would engage in fair and transparent negotiations with BITU, which represents the majority of the affected employees in the units to be consolidated.

The company assured it would do all in its power to minimise the impact on employees

Three years ago, Scotiabank announced plans to conduct a US $451 million restructuring, which included closures and job losses in the Caribbean.

Scotiabank said it plans to close or downsize 120 branches outside Canada, largely in Mexico and the Caribbean, in a bid to save CA $120 million (US $90 million) annually.

It said it would close down 35 of its 200 branches in the Caribbean and would sever 1,500 full-time employees, including 500 from its international operations. ~ Caribbean360 ~

KUWAIT--A joint committee of ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers has agreed to review whether a global pact to limit supplies should be extended by six months, it said in a statement on Sunday.

BRASILIA/BEIJING--China lifted a ban on imports of meat from Brazil on Saturday after Brazilian authorities clarified details of a police investigation into alleged bribery of health inspectors, in a victory for President Michel Temer's efforts to stem damage from the probe.

NEW YORK--Four Tanzanian children with albinism, who lost limbs in brutal superstition-driven attacks, arrived in the United States on Saturday for medical treatment and respite from a homeland where they are persecuted and feared.
  Weary from travel, the four stepped off a jet at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where Elissa Montanti, founder of the Global Medical Relief Fund (GMRF), was waiting for them. The New York-based GMRF hosts children from around the world who have been injured in conflict or disaster.

PATTAYA, Thailand--With mascots dressed as smiling fish and a police rock band, Thai authorities launched a "Happy Zone" at the weekend to improve the image of a city notorious for sex tourism.

CHICAGO--Republicans may have failed to overthrow Obamacare this week, but there are plenty of ways they can chip away at it.

CINCINNATI--Gunfire erupted inside a packed nightclub in Cincinnati, Ohio, early Sunday morning, killing one person and injuring 15 others, as an apparent argument that may have started earlier in the day turned violent, authorities said.

ROME--Europeans must contain their squabbling and carping about the EU if the Union is to survive, leaders warned on Saturday as they marked the 60th anniversary of its founding in Rome by signing a formal declaration of unity.

BERLIN/SAARBRUECKEN, Germany--German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives won a regional election in the western state of Saarland on Sunday, dealing a setback to their Social Democrat rivals and boosting her prospects of winning a fourth term in September's national election.

ST. BARTHS --There is now less than a month to go until the kick-off of the eighth edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth. To date, 66 teams have signed up for the event, which bodes well for an exceptional vintage, made more special by the fact that Lionel Péan has agreed to be the official Godfather of the race, an honorary position held by several famous international yachtsmen in the past, including USA’s Ken Read (2016), Jim Swartz (2013), and Jimmy Buffett (2011).

TEXAS-- American Dustin Johnson became the first player to win all four World Golf Championships events when he claimed the WGC-Dell Match Play in Texas on Sunday.

Dear Editor,

Global temperatures set yet another record last year and the world witnessed exceptionally low sea ice, and unabated sea level rise and ocean heat, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in its Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2016, warning that the extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017.

The extreme climate conditions also added to human suffering: 2016 saw severe droughts, affecting millions in southern and eastern African and Central American countries. For example in the Caribbean Hurricane Matthew – the first category 4 (CAT4) storm to make landfall since 1963 – tore a path of destruction in Haiti and inflicted significant economic losses in the Caribbean region.

At least three times so far this winter (2017), the Arctic saw what can be called the Polar equivalent of a heatwave, with powerful Atlantic storms driving an influx of warm, moist air, meaning that at the height of the Arctic winter and the sea ice refreezing period, there were days which were actually close to melting point due to warm temperatures in this part of the world.

Antarctic sea ice has also been at a record low, in contrast to the trend in recent years, and some areas, including Canada and much of the United States, were unusually balmy, whilst others, including parts of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, were unusually cold in early 2017.

St. Maarten, and the other islands of the Caribbean Basin also experienced unusually cool/chilly weather during the first two-months of 2017, a testament to ongoing global climate change now also at our doorstep.

In the United States (US) alone 11,743 warm temperature records were broken or tied in February, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the WMO.

The aforementioned might seem worlds apart from St. Maarten and our sphere of life, but it is as close as it gets as well – climate change.

“We are dealing with scientific facts, not politics, and the facts are clear; climate change is a direct threat in itself, and a multiplier of many other threats,” UN Secretary-General (SG) António Guterres recently told a General Assembly High-Level action event aimed at invigorating political momentum on climate change, highlighting its deep links to the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

UN SG Guterres said his messages to the meeting are simple: “First, climate change is an unprecedented and growing threat – to peace and prosperity and the same in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs – Ed.]. Second, addressing climate change is a massive opportunity that we cannot afford to miss,” he said.

Tackling climate change is a tremendous opportunity for Governments and business as there is no trade-off between a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

Our economy is based on tourism, a single pillar. This means that we have to be very conscious to protect what we have built over several decades. Our current economic base is facing many challenges, and growth has not been that positive for a number of years.

St. Maarten’s coral reefs according to the St. Maarten Nature Foundation contribute annually over US $66 million to our economy. The diving sector is one of our key areas just like cruise tourism, and the mega-yacht/yachting sector, but receives very little fanfare. The Nature Foundation carried out an Economic Valuation Study on St. Maarten’s coral reef ecosystems.

“The report highlights the economic contribution of healthy coral to the economy of St. Maarten, which was found to be US $66,606,042. This study is an update of the 2010 study which found that coral reefs contribute US $57,742,997 to the economy, and reflects the increase in coral reef associated values since the establishment of the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area.

“The results of this study show that Coral Reefs are one of the island’s most valuable resources and provide livelihoods through coral reef associated tourism as well as protection from large, damaging waves caused by hurricanes.

“The marine environment of St Maarten includes more than 16 square kilometres of globally threatened coral reef as well as seagrass and mangrove ecosystems. St. Maarten’s marine environment is a home and migratory stopover or breeding site for various endangered species and the beaches and waters attract approximately two million visitors a year, creating employment for 85 per cent of the island’s population both directly and indirectly. Tourism and the marine industry contribute significantly to the economy and both sectors depend on the health of St. Maarten’s marine resources,” according to the Nature Foundation.

The aforementioned presents additional opportunities for our country and economy. Additional protected areas should be introduced which would lead to new diving sites (e.g. manmade for the development of our ecosystem) that would further add to the protection of our coastal communities from storm surge; would provide new areas for coral reef growth and growth in fish populations; would create more employment opportunities for our youth as the dive sector grows.

Government and Parliament should work together with stakeholders in developing an “Integral Marine Protection-Dive/Fishery Sector Development Plan” that would nurture the aforementioned in a sustainable manner.

Our country’s underwater ecosystem is not protected from climate change. Reef systems across the globe have experienced “coral bleaching.” Coral bleaching is the dying of corals due to high water temperatures. Nature Foundation says while any stress can cause corals to bleach, high water temperature has been the major cause of coral bleaching events worldwide in recent decades. When corals bleach for a significant period of time they run the risk of dying all together. Our Nature Foundation has a “Coral Bleaching Response Plan” which was drafted back in 2010.

“Although the consensus is still out, the increased incidences of Coral Bleaching is more than likely caused by the heating up of the earth due to global warming. In the past decades the Caribbean in particular has seen an increased number of coral bleaching events with the last major bleaching occurring in 2005, where more than half of the Coral Reefs in the Caribbean, including St. Maarten, died,” our Nature Foundation reported.

Climate change is a scientific fact. Our underwater ecosystem is making a positive economic impact for the national economy, and can be further developed in a sustainable manner while at the same time mitigating the effects of climate change. In order to accomplish the aforementioned, the necessary urgency and attention of discussion along with resources must be provided.

Where is the country in preparing our readiness and resilience in a time of climate change for a healthy environment and a healthy economy?

Roddy Heyliger

Dear Queenie,

When my son’s best friend is at our house for a meal he very often refuses to eat what we are serving. Our children know they are expected to eat whatever they are served, or at least some of it, and they don’t make a fuss about it, but this friend is something else.

Queenie, what is the best way to deal with this picky eater?—Not a caterer

Dear Not,

It depends. If the child has food allergies, you want to be careful what you serve him, so check with his parents to find out whether there are foods he cannot eat and try to accommodate his needs.

But if the child is merely a picky eater, as you say, tell him – pleasantly! – that in your house everyone is expected to take at least a taste of whatever they are served and if they do not like it they do not have to eat all of it. Then serve him whatever everyone else is having, and if he does not eat it, so be it.

I am reasonably certain he will eat if he is hungry, once he understands your house rules. Or he will stop taking meals at your house – your problem solved, if not his.

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